Baseball, the least strategic and least explosive, an anomaly of sports

I'm going to take a break from the breaking down the Bulls / Timberwolves game.   If you didn't see it, imagine that you did see it, think what would have likely happened in a game where a team on pace to win 60 games plays a team on pace to win 20 games.   What you imagine is likely pretty close to the truth.

So the topic came up recently on a forum I read regularly, why is there so much sports radio talk about baseball.  The season hasn't started, nothing's going on, the sport (my opinion only) is boring as hell.   No, it's not a conspiracy against us basketball fans, the general public loves baseball.   Sports radio plays what people want to hear.

The sad fact for me is that the public would rather here about the Nth day of spring training where nothing has happened than about your playoff bound Chicago Bulls that might have the MVP and a shot at winning the NBA Championship.   Heck, I don't blame them.  I'd rather hear about preseason NBA talk than hear about the Cubs playoff hopes or the fact that the Blackhawks just won the Stanley Cup. 

We like what we like, and I'm not trying to dissuade anyone from liking baseball, hockey, or whatever else they're into.   What you do with your free time is your business, and if it makes you happy then it's the right thing for you.  Personal choice, there is no right and wrong here.

That said, I noted why I don't care for baseball, much to the great dismay of baseball fans.   In what is sure to be a colossal mistake which alienates half my readership who love multiple sports, I will repeat such opinion here and prepare for the fireworks.

Baseball is the least visually spectacular sport of any major professional sport.  

The pace of the game is slow, and there's a ton of down time, and for the most part there aren't a ton of action packed moments.  There are visually spectacular plays in baseball, the diving catch, the saving of a home run by leaping the fence, the bang, bang of a double play, a steal or whatever.

However, the amount of visually spectacular plays are limited.  You could go multiple games without seeing a truly great athletic play.   There is the most downtime in the sport of all the major sports in terms of waiting around for something to happen as well.

No one really seemed to argue too much with this point.   Baseball's a fun game to go to the stadium for largely for this reason too.   You can really socialize through a baseball game, because you don't actually need to pay all that much attention during a game. 

If you think about how many seconds a ball is actually in play in a baseball game out of the 3 hours you're there, it's by far the least amount of time of any sporting event you'd go to.   That has plenty of advantages, because you can be into the game, but still have plenty of time to chat it up with your buddies, go get some beer, and hang out.

Baseball is the least strategic of the major professional team sports

This is where I seemed to get into trouble and piss everyone off.

First, let me define major by saying I will compare it to basketball and football which I know is limited.   You could include soccer and hockey in 'major' sports, but since I don't know all that much about the strategy contained in either soccer or hockey, I'm not going to pretend to guess as to how much depth there relative to any other sport.

Now, next let me say this, every baseball manager, like every coach/manager of any sport of professional athlete needs a tremendous skillset in terms of reaching his players, managing egos, understanding his sport, instilling good habits, etc..   Having a good manager vs a bad manager is still incredibly valuable in any major sport.

That said, you could write a simple situation guide cheat sheet that could walk you through every major baseball decision, hand it off to someone who's never seen the game in his life, and they'd be able to competently manage a game.   There simply isn't that much thought involved here.

Defense is entirely passive

There's basically one defensive set in baseball.  Three guys in the outfield, four guys in the infield, a pitcher and a catcher.   That's it.     No one ever shifts a fourth guy to the outfield or brings in another infielder.   At best, these guys shift slightly up or back or to one side based on the hitter.

There is very little feigning of the defense either.   You don't pretend to play back on a player than charge up in order to try and fool the hitter into doing something else.    You can't bring extra defenders in against a team's best guy at the cost of leaving their ninth hitter to bat with seven men in the field.  

You can't control the defensive matchup in baseball outside of switch pitchers, which you can only do a very limited number of times.   You can't put a hot defender on a star player.   The ball either goes to your hot defensive player when hit or it doesn't.  You can make some substitutions for defense, but only in a very limited manner as you can't sub guys in and out.

The permanence of each substitution makes them fairly rare and highly situational, because your starters are typically better.  You're not subbing in a defender when a star player comes to the plate unless you're late in the game protecting a lead.

Sure, there's plenty of strategy in how you pitch a guy.  A pitcher needs to decide how to mix in his pitches to fool the hitter or whether to blow him away with power.   However, this is basically an individual matchup until the ball is in play.

The same type of feigning exists in basketball with every dribble of the ball.  Am I going left, right, pulling up, driving past you, mixing up the dribble speed to fake one way or the other and switch gears.   All designed to get a defender off balance for the split second needed to break free.    The defender can choose to play the drive or the shot much like a hitter can choose whether to sit on a fast ball or not.

However, unlike baseball the point of attack goes beyond a one on one match up of pitcher vs hitter.  In basketball, the whole team gets involved.   The defense can bring a second player in to double team and trap.   They can try to deny the ball to the star with their coverage scheme.   They can drop into a zone to prevent a player from driving.

Offense is also largely passive

On offense you can't milk a hot matchup, exploit defensive shifts, go to your star player more, or design any real scheme.   The majority of the offensive strategy is based around how you stack your lineup pregame with lefty/righty matchups against the opposing pitcher.   However, you can't really change these around much because the guys can't come back in after sitting.  

In the American League (and I'm a sox fan as much as I'm a baseball fan) the strategy is almost completely taken away from the manager as you don't even have to strategize around when to pull your pitcher because he has a plate appearance or whether to use a double switch etc..

However, there's simply very little going on that requires much input or knowledge.

Think I'm nuts?  Look at the money

In life, if you aren't sure of something, a good way to be sure is to follow the money.   You know why?   Because smart people usually put money where it counts, and while an individual can screw up badly in this regard, when it's everyone, it's not a screw up.

Baseball doesn't pay managers all that well relative to the coaches of other sports.   The NFL and NBA both pay their coaches more.  Now, the NFL makes a truckload more money, but I don't think anyone is arguing that MLB or NBA manager/coaches have the impact of an NFL coach.

However, even in basketball, despite franchise revenues being dramatically lower than in baseball, they allocate far more resources towards their coaches than MLB does.  This is simply because a great coach in basketball can impact the game more than a great manager in baseball.

A coach can do that, because there is greater depth of strategy involved in the sport, there is more control, more impact on the game, more things they can do.   So realize, that if you're arguing that I'm wrong, you're also arguing against the baseball franchise owners who simply don't value their managers as much as the other sports value their coaches when value is put down to the percentage of revenues spent on the position.

This isn't to say you should hate baseball

Many of us grew up with baseball.  I grew up with baseball.  I enjoyed playing catch when I was a child.  Loved it. You could play baseball or some variant of it from a very, very young age.   I was probably two years old when the plastic bat was put into my hands.

Basketball?  Football?  Not so much.  They aren't as ingrained into our society.  There are many fond memories I have growing up playing baseball with my dad, playing catch, taking batting practice, hitting the batting cages.   Probably the most fond memories I have with him are centered around baseball.

I'm not trying to diss the game entirely and write it off as there are many things to enjoy about it, but most of those (for me) are social.  If I'm sitting alone watching sports by myself, it doesn't do it for me on a visual or intellectual level to watch baseball unless I'm heavily vested in the team I'm watching.   Basketball?  I can sit and watch it no matter who's playing, the sport just interests me.

Flame away.  I know I've got it coming.


Leave a comment
  • Preach on, brother. I consider myself a pretty big Cubs fan and I do pay attention throughout the season but I don't watch as many games as I used to due to the fact that they play the most day games of any club in the league and I have a "job" now. When I do get to catch a Saturday or Sunday afternoon game, I generally take a nap from innings 3-8 which is just about perfect.

    To take any attention away from this Bulls team right now is just blasphemous, though. Their first truly relevant season in 13 years with the legit opportunity to contend for a title and arguably the most exciting player in sports right now. COME ON. Baseball will be going on for the next 8 months, let's stay focused on a real sport for now.

  • sorry to disappoint, but no flame from me. i agree wholeheartedly.

    baseball blows. its excruciatingly painful to watch for me. its like watching paint dry.

    basketball is fast paced, and there is such a great ebb and flow to the game that makes it a joy to watch...really, no matter who is playing.

  • In reply to jumpmanjay:

    Wait until the story hits the side rail and gets retweeted, it's coming.

  • In reply to jumpmanjay:

    Definitely agree! I don't mind going to see a game live and watching a good playoff game on tv, but the rest of the season is extremely boring. Just watch sportscenter and you won't miss any exciting parts of the games.

  • In reply to jumpmanjay:

    I can understand why somebody would think baseball is boring. Baseball is a series of discrete plays while basketball is a continuous flow of action (unless Joey Crawford is reffing). But you are totally underselling the pitcher-batter dynamic. Also, baserunning and steals used to be a much bigger part of the game. Steroids has completely taken that part of the game away because the strategy for the last 15 years has been get on base and wait for somebody to hit a home run.

    I think baseball fans also skew towards baby boomers, who still listen to the radio, which is why you hear a lot of baseball talk radio. Baseball and the '84 cubs were my first love, but I don't have the endurance and free time to follow it every day over the course of six months. Two or three basketball games after the kids have gone to bed is about all I can handle.

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    Interesting angle...bullshooter. I do agree that the steroid era changed baseball strategy. Hopefully, cracking down on them will bring back some of the game's finer points.

  • In reply to jumpmanjay:

    I love this topic

    1. Every sport is strategic based on your interest. It is like telling designing and manufacturing a car is more strategic than designing and manufacturing a mobile phone. The one problem with basketball(NBA) is how much impact one player can have and mostly has.
    2. Basketball is definitely more popular than baseball and football if you consider the whole world. Baseball is popular only in certain countries. Basketball looks less strategic because it looks /feels less aggressive to play compared to baseball or football. And one feels like they understand basketball even if they don't understand the nuances while a new sports watcher can have no clue about baseball or football.
    3. Most sports are liked mostly on how much access you have to watch/play those games. The next 20 years will define these things more as there is lot more access.

    Honestly, that said...the sports radio guys are just catering to a small segment. If they were broadcasting to Bulls fans(entire world) and the same with other sports....they would be talking basketball 24 hrs/day. They don't even know that if you go to a remote corner in Africa, Asia they would know about the Bulls, Rose, MJ but will not know what is Chicago Cubs, Who or What is the Bears and will understand/listen to basketball talk. It is just that Sports Radio is a niche business(people who listen go to Cubs game to socialize and will listen/consume to the ads on that radio station).

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Well said, Schaum. As a big fan of both sports, I totally agree.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Not arguing with your points here, just wondering if you could clarify this sentence..."Basketball looks less strategic because it looks /feels less aggressive to play compared to baseball or football."
    I can understand how the casual basketball fan could think it looks less strategic, but I'm not sure how it looks/feels less aggressive to play than baseball. Basketball is way more aggressive and physical than baseball. Just curious if that's what you meant or if I misinterpreted it.

  • In reply to kayak0109:

    He didn't say physically aggressive. He just said "looks/feels" less aggressive. A lot of baseball's battles are going on in the minds of the hitter and the pitcher...a pitcher or hitter can approach each other aggressively, it's just not as physically demonstrative as basketball is.

  • In reply to walrus:

    I guess aggressive and physical are pretty synonymous in my opinion but I get what you're saying.

  • In reply to walrus:

    John...Thanks for the interpretation.
    I would add that..
    Baseball's strategies are easier to strategize compared to basketball. Like everything, you have simple strategies and complex strategies. A normal smart person understanding sports will feel they can strategize baseball but doing the same is difficult in basketball.
    Hey, even VDN couldn't implement complex basketball strategies because it is difficult to teach them in basketball compared to implementing in baseball.

  • In reply to walrus:

    I would love to read an article that details the international popularity of our major sports. The NBA's exploding in Europe and China. I think China is building about a dozen NBA sized stadiums. Of course the NBA doesn't plan on expanding into China--at least not until air travel times are significantly reduced--but a select few games would be cool. A few years ago my Turkish friend told me that some youths in Turkey prefer the NBA over soccer! He said some stay up until 3 a.m. to catch games and highlights. I'm pretty sure Kobe could be the dictator of China if he was allowed to run for the position.

  • In reply to kayak0109:

    Agree with you 100%, Doug. I love having a couple beers at Wrigley, but it's been almost ten years since I've watched a Cubs game on TV. Whereas I'll sit here for 45 minutes waiting for a 2 minute Bulls recap video to load on this crappy Afghani internet.

    Here you're preaching to a bunch of hardcore basketball junkies that come to your blog to get their daily basketball fix even during the offseason when there is absolutely nothing going on but ridiculous trade rumors and sightings at practice facilities.

    You're pretty safe ripping baseball here as opposed to a general sports blog...that was ballsy.

  • In reply to Davidmon5:

    I was hoping some baseball fans would come to defend and start a fun (and not mean spirited argument).

  • In reply to kayak0109:

    Another thing - many baseball players dont even look like athletes. Overweight with big bellies. Heck, many of them look in worse shape than golfers (which can be argued is really a game & not an athletic sport.

    Whoever gets hot near the playoffs usually wins the thing - like the Giants last season. There really is no need to follow baseball until about a month before the playoffs.

  • In reply to bulls6:

    Yep. And they're all overpaid. Albert Pujols wants a 10 yr., 30 million per contract. LMAO. Best part, the Yanks will dish out the money to him.

  • In reply to Jmax:

    Seriously? What about Baron Davis? Vince Carter? Joe Johnson? Kobe Bryant is paid more than any baseball player and he plays half the games. Being overpaid is part of every sport. It's part of the entertainment business in general.

  • In reply to walrus:

    Yes. I'm serious. ARod makes about 7 million more than Kobe per year. Please explain yourself...

    The Lakers payroll is at 91.5 million. By comparison the Yankees payroll is 206 million. Even with the larger baseball roster it's still very lopsided.

    And what NBA player is asking for a 10 year/ 30 mil contract at the age of 31? My bet is he'll be a Yankee by next year and switch to DH in 5 years. LAME!

  • In reply to Jmax:

    Saw a 2009 list that had Kobe ranked 7th at 32M with no other baseball player in the top 10. It probably included endorsements. According to Hoopsworld, though, he'll be making 30M by 2013, which will be more than A-Rod,who's salary declines over time. Kobe will be 34 when he makes 30M...he'll probably miss games with injury. You don't think that's just as overpaid?

    Baseball rosters are twice as large and there is no salary cap. If you don't think Kobe could have gotten more as a FA (or LeBron, for that matter) then you're kidding yourself. And if you're trying to paint baseball players as greedier, that's just silly. Most players in any sport-- in fact, most people, will take as much as the market allows them to get.

    And playing basketball is less physically demanding than the torque a major league pitcher puts on his arm. And as far as the baseball players, the wear and tear builds up over a long period of time. But the idea that basketball players deserve the extra money because the sport is more physically exerting on a game to game bases is hogwash. By that argument, janitors should make more money than CEOs. Market value...that's the big factor. All this other stuff is nonsense.

  • In reply to walrus:

    First off, I never argued that NBA players were, or were not, overpaid. Did I make a generalized, sweeping statement about the MLB? Yes. However, you were simply incorrect about Kobe's salary in relation to ARod's. Case-in-point:

    There isn't--nor was there ever--any Major League Baseball player that has had the individual impact that Kobe or MJ has had on their team. Pitching is key for most World Series Champions, yet starters pitch 1 of 5 or 1 of 4 games. As a Sox fan, I remember Mark Buehrle's impact on the 2005 World Series--coming in after a recent start to close a game out. Doesn't compare to MJ. Not even close. Albert won the World Series with a team that sported a 83-78 record. ARod won one with THE YANKEES. ARod's 33 million and Albert's request for 30 for ten years is a joke.

  • In reply to Jmax:

    I believe MJ had championship seasons, in which he played every regular season game or nearly every game. Baseball pitchers make an average of what... 30 starts per season at best? When considering the sports' respective superstars, game-to-game basis is more important than you make it out to be.

  • In reply to Jmax:

    First off i would like to say that i agree with you when you say baseball is not as exciting as other sports like basketball or football. But you cannot say that baseball has the least amount of strategy, in my opinion it has the most, you just have to know where to look for it. Baseball is truly a game of inches. The pitchers have 4 days to prepare to face a team and they must be able to know where exactly to pitch to the hitters, or risk giving up home runs after home runs. One pitch that is just a few inches off the target can change the whole game. The balance of a baseball game can change so quickly, which keeps me watching it. With one swing a player can erase a 3 or even 4 run lead, which is generally considered a good lead in baseball. In sports like football or basketball, try erasing a 12 point lead that quickly. Also all of the subtle adjustments the players must make in the field for each player add to the strategy of the game. Some, like moving the 3rd basemen to short and the the shortstop to behind second for players like Ryan Howard are very obvious, however others are much more subtle, but just as important. Baseball is definitely a thinking mans game, and for this reason it is my favorite sport.

  • In reply to Jmax:

    I'd have to respectfully disagree that baseball is less strategic. As others have posted, I think it is just the difference between what you can tell (coach pulling a player who is laying bricks or dropping passes) is happening versus what you can't (how many people pay attention to pitchers constantly shaking off catchers, or what signs the catchers are even throwing down) as easily notice.

    For every single pitch in a game, you could have anywhere from two to a dozen or so decisions to make (type of pitch, location, players in, players deep, players on the lines, playing the steal, defensive shift for dead-pull hitters, etc, etc). That's not to even factor in the decisions going through a hitter's mind (bunt, pull, move a runner, try to get a long fly, swing away).

    That said, I agree that baseball strategy & implementation is far more 'passive' than in the other major sports; and can understand how this could lead to the perception that baseball isn't as strategic.

    I think it would be great for MIT or some other geek-tank to crunch the numbers, and do a study on the ratio of major/minor strategical decisions in each major sport per game. Depending on how they did it, you could have something like PER for rating coaches (talk about some interesting sports radio segments).

    In any event, I think the core strategy is the same in almost all major sports: get the best players. While a team like the SF Giants in baseball or the NY Giants when they knocked off the Pats do occur, it is rare; and even with teams like that, they almost always have some top-flight talent on the roster. I can't think of a recent NBA example where an 'underdog' team even sniffed the title. Put Phil Jackson in as coach of the Pacers, and I am 100% confident is stating that they wouldn't win the title this year. In football, swapping Belichick for Lovie Smith would help the Bears, but swapping Peyton Manning for Jay Cutler would help even more.

  • In reply to saigman:

    Pacers wouldn't win the title but they'd be better no doubt

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  • In reply to Jmax:

    I do think that baseball is the most beautiful of all the sports ever created by Americans. It so closely mirrors life, and provides symbolism for life in many regards. However, I do believe that basketball is superior in several other aspects, such as strategy (though I give football the edge there), excitment, watchability, and ability to play yourself. Can't remember when the last time some friends got together to play some baseball. Usually you have to be pretty organized to do that, often in softball leagues for example. A little easier to get a football game going, but nothing compares to basketball. If you got a ball & a rim, you can play. Shoot, you can get a pretty good workout in just shooting around yourself, go grab a buddy & you have all kinds of variations available, a couple more and its pretty close to the real deal.

    My motto is "if its got a ball, play it". I love all sports. Just different ones for different reasons.

  • In reply to Jmax:

    I'm kind of surprised you don't like baseball, a busy guy who doesn't mind stats, baseball seems like the perfect sport since you don't have to watch the games at all to follow it. I mean I follow cricket that way, I don't have time to watch the games (lol 5 day games when you have a job) but I still follow along because so long as you know the scores you're really not missing anything. I'm no baseball expert but from what I gather you can do the same thing.

  • In reply to walrus:

    And playing half the games isn't helping your point. Why can baseball players play double headers? Because the game isn't as taxing as basketball, hockey & football. Kobe takes a greater beating than ARod throughout the season. The only baseball players who can't play double headers are pitchers and sometimes catchers.

  • In reply to walrus:

    I agree with you.

    Overpaid is the most overhyped term in sports.

    The total amount of salary that players get in most leagues is collectively bargained. The players of a sport (as a whole) are paid as much as htey can collectively bargain for.

    That's true in all sports. As such, an individual might be overpaid if he cashes it in after being handed out a contract, but that's an individual issue not a league wide one.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    What about the CBA is the NFL? People are complaining that rookies make too much. I agree with that point, and it's certainly a league wide issue.

  • In reply to bulls6:

    I'll bite on this one, Doug. First off, let me say that I'd like to think I have pretty little bias on both sports (as I am an avid Bulls/Sox fan). I think that baseball takes a different skillset than other sports. No, you don't have to be a freak athletically, but there are two things you absolutely cannot fake in baseball: pitching and hitting. Both take an extraordinary amount of concentration, precision, and talent.

    And I think because the pace of the game is much slower, it becomes a lot more mental. That's not to say basketball isn't, but with the season being so long and the pace of the game, it's hard to keep yourself mentally positive after a strikeout, blown play, etc. I think this is an aspect that is often overlooked in a sport like baseball. The downtime in the game allows players to get mental, whereas in basketball, things are so fast paced that it may not be until the last minute or so of a close game where nerves come into play.

  • In reply to bpmueller:

    I agree largely with both points that you make.

    There is a high skill level required to play baseball, both in hitting a curveball or fastball or whatever, and in throwing a good curveball/fastball or whatever.

    I also agree that the grind of baseball requires a certain mental toughness to stay involved over a 162 game season, and that after a bad play, it's tough to not be able to make up for, because you don't know when your next chance will be.

    None of these things really contradict my point that it's not very explosive to watch visually and that there isn't a whole lot of strategy going on inside of a game relative to other sports though because the matchups are so predetermined without much ability to control them.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Like John A said above, there is a different visual attraction to baseball. It's not fast paced, but wouldn't that then make the exciting plays that much more interesting? The anticipation of the sport is what I really like about it, personally.

    And while there isn't a whole lot that can be done about matchups, (other than batting order, which you mentioned) I think this is again where the mental aspect of the game really comes into play. A pitcher/batter matchup is a huge mental battle, as well as the catcher (there's a reason why people don't like AJ).

    I will agree that strategically, baseball managers don't do a whole lot, but again, they're there to keep the morale/mental aspect of their players up. However, pitching/batting coaches are invaluable, just look at what Don Cooper has done for the Sox's rotation.

  • In reply to bpmueller:

    Not trying to say that people who work hard in baseball can't make a difference or aren't impactful.

    I also agree that the players have a mental game going against each other, I just think basketball players have a similar mental game.

    I also think, as a fan, I can't get into that mental game really. There's just so limited in the number of things you can do. Watching a basketball game I can be hyper critical of what's going on the court and how it's being managed which gets me more engaged mentally.

    As I started off with though, people like what they like, and I'm certainly not saying that you shouldn't appreciate or care about baseball if you do. I have a bunch of hobbies that are interesting to me that would probably bore the crap out of most people, so I recognize that opinions vary.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Yeah, I love basketball too, and I do think that spring training is really boring to watch.

    Really good topic though, mixing things up a bit. Help take my anxiety off the playoffs for a little.

  • In reply to bpmueller:

    I think Doug makes some valid arguments, but will say that I strongly disagree with the "strategy" point. Doug, you're looking at it through the narrow lens of "game management" perspective, which is a very small aspect of the strategy in baseball (and even on that topic, I could make a strong argument that if Thibs and all of the other Bulls coaches walked to the locker room after the opening tip, the players would still have a good chance to beat most teams in the league without their help).

    The thing about baseball is that there is strategy happening all over the field, on multiple levels at once. Coaches positioning fielders to match a batter's tendencies. Fielders positioning themselves based on they type of pitch called. Pitching to a hitter's weaknesses (based on film and statistical breakdown) but also "setting up" hitters based on a series of strategic moves. Pitching different ways depending on the score, the lineup position, and even the weather (which is never a strategic factor in basketball).

    When a runner gets on base, look at the interplay between the manager, third base coach, first base coach, runner, and batter. And how the defense reacts to that. On a simple level, you may say "do we bunt, run, bunt-and-run, hit-and-run, or stand pat". All of these decisions are based on a complex set of variables that include the defensive positioning, the talent of the runner & batter, the status and talent of the pitcher, the score of the game, how many outs, etc. And that's just the simple stuff. A manager needs to contemplate how short the grass is cut in the infield so they know how well a bunt will work (the home team manager strategically works with the grounds crew to determine this before the game). The runners and base coaches need to know whether the infield was watered down between innings, to understand if this slight adjustment might be the difference between the hundredth of a second that can separate a "safe" from an "out" call. Does the runner take an extra 6 inches on their leadoff from first base to compensate for a breeze in their face? But how does the quality of the pitcher's pickoff move play into that? Or the catcher's arm. And did the catcher just get winded legging out a triple in the last half-inning?

    I could go on and on (and it probably feels like I have) but I would argue that almost every physical aspect of baseball has a strategic aspect to it. Basketball has plenty of strategy, but the speed of the game means that it's more about being able to "react". How many times do basketball coaches rail against players who are "thinking" on the court instead of "reacting"? But baseball managers hate players who react without thinking.

    I love both sports (and have been playing both for over 20 years) but I will say that what many people see as baseball's downfall (the slow pace) is actually what allows the sport to live and breathe in a strategic wonderland.

  • In reply to petefogarty:

    Interesting points, and I appreciate the time you took to respond, especially in the heat of a bunch of basketball fans.

    I still largely disagree as I feel many of the things you mentioned are simply automatic thoughts. Do you take a bigger lead or attempt to steal on a pitcher with a slow pick off move, long wind up, or catcher with a weak arm? Yeah, of course.

    Does an NBA team look at Kyle Korver and say, we should attack this guy because of his physical deficiencies? Of course. It's a similar type of things. There are equivalents to these pieces of minutia in baseball in other sports, but baseball has no equivalent to setting up entirely different defensive or offensive sets. It lacks the ability to match up personnel or make rotations the same way.

    Appreciate you adding your thoughts though, as I said, I do get that lots of people like baseball. If I explained some of the nerdy computer junk I do in my spare time because it's 'fun', people would look at me like I have a third eye, so I only have so much room to talk.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    I like baseball but agree with the poster above who said he naps through most of the game. But I love basketball. Baseball would be more tolerable if they had a pitch clock. If football players can run a play as quick as they do then there's no reason baseball needs to eff around on the mound or check their batting gloves every ten seconds.....speed that game up. 3 hours for a baseball game is not only BORING but extremely unnecesarily looooong. I think it would help the sport to keep the games moving and between 90 minutes to 2 hours.

  • In reply to bpmueller:

    I noticed the lack of support for the bulls when I went to chicago at the begining of the month.. They had the least amount of fan stuff at the shops and saw hardly anyone wearing bulls.stuff unless we went to the games... It was a big change from utah with Nba and Mls being our only pro sports... I love the UC and everything but its really quiet compared to energy solutions arena here

  • In reply to UtahBullsFan:

    Interesting observation. However, the Bulls have led the league in attendance (I think) even when they were terrible which says a lot about how much Chicago likes their basketball.

  • In reply to bullswin60606:

    Yep. For the last 20 years baby!

  • In reply to bullswin60606:

    But they are filling for 3 reasons:
    1. It is a cold-weather sport so there is something to do for people in Chicago.
    2. Before you talk about the Blackhawks not filling before last year, the Bulls had the MJ effect going.
    3. And, it is not baseball or football...indoor plus you require 20,000 to fill compared to 40/50 K to fill baseball/football.

    That said, UtahBullsFan is right...Chicago city/suburb fans do not appreciate the Bulls. Hey, around the world the name "Chicago and Sports" would only bring up the Bulls.

  • In reply to UtahBullsFan:

    Good win by the Bulls and Thibs really need to find a way to develop the chemistry between Noah and Boozer when both are on the floor. Boozer looked like the old 20/10 guy that he is. I know there have been injuries between the two but that's what practice is for to develop that chemistry that they desperately need. Hopefully the team can figure things out with the playoffs a couple weeks away, they have to if they want to go deep into the playoffs. And baseball is a sport I cannot watch unless it's the playoffs and the Cubs or Sox are involved. Every so often I may watch an inning or two during the season if nothing else is on. But overall, not a fan of the sport and I actually played baseball myself as a youngster but I eventually got into basketball because of the pace of the game, the
    athletic aspect of the game and my friends and i growing up played all day almost everyday. Especially tournaments like the 3 on 3 shoot the Bull and Gus Macker. I know baseball is suppose to be Americas past time, but anytime a sport starts to catch the attention of women like basketball and especially now football... I feel like Americas new past time is now football with basketball being second. And hockey, I only watched a very little since the Blackhawks bought a championship only to let half of the team leave due to free agency cause they achieved what they set out to do which was get the cup. But its back to cutting costs and saving for them. Bottom line tho... baseball too boring but hopefully the Cubs and Sox will both have a good year, especially the Cubs cause they need a prayer every year. If things don't work this year for the Cubs, they need to do what the Blackhawks did... go break open the bank and buy a championship by signing the very best players. Pujols comes to mind, they better give him what he wants and go from there. Sox got their chanpionship...WHERE U AT CUBBIES?!!!

  • In reply to bulls6:

    You're defining athlete in vary narrow terms...there is a physical aspect of baseball that is unmatched. You can find a lot more baseball players that can dunk a basketball than basketball players who can hit a breaking ball. Michael Jordan couldn't hit in AA ball, but Danny Ainge moved from the Blue Jays to the Celtics almost flawlessly.

  • In reply to walrus:

    I agree that hitting a baseball is the hardest thing to do in professional sports.

  • In reply to jumpmanjay:

    Basketball >>> Baseball
    Anyaway ! Boozer was on fire yesterday. That's why i like Thibs. He said yersterday that Boozer must be more feed and just some hours after boozer was doing what he is supposed to do. He even challenged Love shot 1 time. lool !! Go bulls !!!

  • In reply to deewaves:

    Boozer's good game...

    Obviously, I'd rather talk basketball than baseball.

    Boozer's good game wasn't a surprise, to me. He talked admirably about Kevin Love's game and I thought to myself, that's odd, what's going on?

    I guessed on the drive home that Asik might play some defense on Kevin Love (and I didn't even realize Noah was out for the game). No wonder Boozer was relaxed before game time. He knew he wouldn't guard Kevin Love constantly. The Bulls had KL under a double/double last night.

    Boozer knew his defensive assignments would be easy.

    I know, I like Asik's game way too much, but did you see his block on Kevin Love? Kevin Love fakes Asik at the free throw line, loses Asik, Asik chases Kevin Love, and then blocks his layup. Love was suprised, no "love" or foul from the officials.

    Asik played 13 minutes last night, Kevin Love 26. How many minutes was Boozer guareding Kevin Love?

    So Boozer had a very nice game, admittedly. Deng is an ironman. And that Rose guy is a pretty good player :)

    As for baseball, I'd rather be in a boat fishing than at a baseball game.

  • In reply to deewaves:

    As someone who blogs for the Cubs, but am a fan of this site and basketball in general, I completely disagree. Baseball just has a different appeal than basketball.

    1)First of all, it's Opening Day -- there's no bigger opening event in American sports. It's laced with tradition and nostalgia, but also with excitement and optimism for the future. 2)Baseball is "new" right now. The Bulls will still be there when opening day is over and people get excited as they remind everyone that they are Chicago's best team this year.
    3)Basketball is only more visually appealing if you find movement more appealing. But you have to be careful when you say that is a necessary component for visual appeal. A slam dunk is nice action, but hitting a major league curveball is an art. Some people like movies, some prefer paintings...I like both.
    4) The strategy in baseball is subtle. Nobody draws up plays. It's a game within a game. Pitcher vs. batter. Each tries to outthink the other, tries to set the other guy up, get them out of their rhythm.
    5) The defense is not passive. Not if it's good. Infielders and outfielders should be aware of how pitchers approach hitters and position themselves accordingly. Catchers are involved on every single pitch. A good fielder can save his team dozens of runs over the year, enough to influence the number of wins a team could mean the difference between making the playoffs or not making the playoffs.
    6) Just because a batter can't put points on the board every time he's up, it doesn't mean it's passive. Offense in baseball depends on different hitters winning a series of battles with the pitcher, from pitch to pitch, at bat to at bat, inning to enough of these battles and your team wins the game.

    Baseball requires a different sort of appreciation than basketball. The game is rich in tradition, history, and individual personalities, and historic teams. For statistics lovers, no game is more advanced in the area of statistics than baseball is. If you like stats and analysis, baseball is the best sport out there. History, statistics, personality...and penchant for the occasional, but deeply memorable play.

  • In reply to walrus:

    Last line should read, "Baseball has it all..history, statistics, personality...and a penchant for the occasional, but deeply memorable spectacular play or moment. In my opinion, that's what makes baseball the greatest game."

  • In reply to walrus:

    What do you expect? The baseball season is just starting, it's a sign that spring and summer is on the way, all the teams have the same record and the same shot. The NBA has clearly indicated that it considers the 82-game schedule to be a preseason. No one needs to get excited until April, when half the teams in the league, even some with losing records, will go on to the three months of playoffs that make up the real season. Just sayin'

  • In reply to MRMcDermott:

    It's a fair point, the vast number of teams making the basketball post season do limit the merits of the regular season. However, I still want to gag when I hear preseason baseball news.

    I get why we hear it for the first week (everyone is all amped about it coming back), I get why we hear it the last week (regular season coming), but in between? Meh.

  • In reply to walrus:

    Just to be clear, I'm not arguing that baseball should not get coverage on opening day. Opening day is a huge day. The coverage has been on going throughout all of spring training which I get (lots of people are obviously interested), but annoying to me (because I'm not one of those people).

    I agree that hitting a major league curve ball is a pretty difficult act, and to be clear, I'm not trying to take away from the difficulty in playing the sport. There's a high skill level required to play in any professional sport.

    The same subtle strategies you have in baseball you have going on in the basketball court, but they are going on to the Nth degree, because of the team involvement. You're still trying to get into the opponents head and feign what you're doing so you can blow past him.

    Defense is passive in that you can't force a defensive matchup. This isn't to say there isn't good or bad defense in baseball, there clearly is. However, you can't force a guy to hit to another guy. For the most part how you play both offense and defense are both passive. The offense has to go in batting order and the defense takes it wherever the ball is hit to them.

    Offense is passive in that there's no control for the manager to control the offense. He has a limited ability to put in pinch hitters, but for the most part has to go with the lineup he has.

    I agree that baseball is the richest in tradition of the US sports, and it's also the one that's been most statistically vetted out. Casual fans understand more advanced statistics in baseball relative to other sports for sure, and it has the most famous statistics (no one could name how many points Kareem Abdul Jabar had or how many steals John Stockton had while people could tel you Hank Aaron's home run totals or the single season home run record etc..).

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    (meant assists Stockton had)

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    In basketball, you're not so much outwitting your opponent as you are simply physically out-matching him. Derrick Rose can probably tell Mike Bibby that he's going to crossover and go left and still beat him. Meanwhile, a 6', 160" Greg Maddux could regularly beat players that are much bigger, faster, and stronger. We're not talking a Kurt Thomas kind of savvy, I'm talking about completely dominating the entire game.

  • In reply to walrus:

    Doug, i love you. Thank you! finally, some1 else that just isn't into baseball. It's like watching a blue collar version of golf.

    Just be glad that you haven't had to sit through a cricket game.

  • In reply to deewaves:

    "In what is sure to be a colossal mistake which alienates half my readership who love multiple sports, I will repeat such opinion here and prepare for the fireworks."

    Nope. Right on Doug. For me, I dislike hockey the most, because the sport is in 2D. What does that mean? The players skate forward, backwards, left & right. Rarely do they jump. If they do, it has little impact on the game, and it isn't a display of athleticism. Furthermore, baseball bats and hockey sticks make me feel alienated. Why? Because players aren't making direct contact with the object of interest

  • In reply to Jmax:

    There's one thing that baseball games will always be the best at... putting me to sleep when I'm looking to take a nap. Although, as a Sox fan, I've been annoyed by Hawk as of late. Just as I begin to dose off, he sounds off, arguing calls and coming up with crap trademark slogans. I must have heard "don't stop now boys" a million times last season, and I wanted to puke. It's terribly frustrating, and I

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