Column: Craft Connects

Ben Craft

Despite baseball still being hailed as America’s pastime, other sports have replaced baseball in American culture.

The criticism is easy to spot by simply scrolling through social media posts and comments. People think it is slow, boring and unathletic.

I played baseball for 14 years, and I fully agree with every complaint thrown against the sport. I dread when the games last longer than four hours, the 162-game season makes each individual game feel unimportant, and players like Pablo Sandoval are not as captivating as Aaron Donald or LeBron James.

I mention my former playing career because sometimes people claim that baseball is more fun to play than it is to watch. This may be true if you are just lobbing batting practice to your friends on a sunny day, but in terms of competitive baseball, I spent far more time chewing sunflower seeds on the field than I did doing anything productive.

However, this is the nature of the sport, and these are the reasons that baseball will always remain my favorite sport.

Exciting moments define football and basketball, with dazzling highlight reels appearing on a game-by-game basis. Poster dunks and ridiculous one-handed grabs amaze audiences constantly. Baseball often lacks these, and that is part of the appeal.

Baseball represents a different type of entertainment than these other sports. Not every game is exciting – but not every game needs to be exciting. Instead, baseball offers a retreat for a few hours that most other sports fail to capture.

Whether you are playing or watching, baseball is a calm game for the majority of the time. Instead of constantly demanding your attention, the sport presents you with many opportunities to rest and process what is occurring in front of you.

In a world constantly flowing with no time for breaks as it jumps from one topic to the next, this change of pace is relaxing.

So-called boring baseball games offer time to expand your knowledge upon a league with one of the richest histories in sports. The history of players like Roberto Clemente and Ted Williams are incredibly difficult to call uninteresting.

None of this is to say that baseball does not offer exciting moments. When Bryce Harper strolled into Nationals Park for the first time since leaving the Washington Nationals and proceeded to blast a home run and then flip his bat, it was must-see TV.

When pitchers like Max Scherzer, Jacob DeGrom and Clayton Kershaw step onto the mound, the viewers enter into a trance, crowds audibly gasping whenever the pitchers allow their first hits of the afternoon. Whenever a player of their caliber trots onto the field, people get invested.

Baseball can be dull, but sometimes that is the point, while other times it offers excitement rivaling any sport.

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