Imagine a bunch of guys standing around spitting, scratching themselves, chewing tobacco, and throwing things around.

Is this a barroom full of bikers, or a baseball game? I couldn't tell you.

I can think of few sports more boring than baseball. Where else do the players only actually move every 45 seconds or so? And even when they DO move, it's only 5% of the guys on the field who're doing it.

Fans of baseball, especially the ones who actually go to the games, seem to really enjoy all of this standing around. In fact, they're always cheering! What are they cheering about?

Insane baseball fan #1: Holy Shit!! What's he doing??
Insane baseball fan #2 He's holding the bat!! YEEEAAAAHHHH!!!! GO GO GO!

I don't know, I could be wrong. I've been to a few games myself, but only when my weird dad took me to Busch Stadium in St. Louis when I was about 7 years old. I was too crazy and young to even care what was going on back then. All I knew was that I was going to get a big hot dog and a wad of cotton candy. Besides that, all I remember is a sore ass from the stadium seats and a nasty sunburn. Oh, yeah. My dad kept making me yell "Ozzie! Ozzie!" because Ozzie Smith is apparently the greatest human being in the world. Probably because he's really old.

I think the biggest draw to televised baseball is that it's really easy to nap to. End of story.

To hear someone with the handle ApoxyButt dissing baseball. How can a man stand this? I'd shuffle off this mortal coil ere I let this stand!

First of all, it's probably a good idea to have actually played baseball as a kid. I'd think this might just be crucial to the whole idea. Then, you would understand the subtle beauty of the game. And there is no other game like it.

The cat and mouse interplay between the pitcher and batter is nice, but it's the things that go on around this interplay that make it such a spectator sport for so many.

  • Where is the outfield positioned? (Have you ever tried to run at full speed and catch a ball over your shoulder?)
  • Is the third baseman hugging the line or charging for a bunt? (Have you ever had a stinging line drive hit at your face while you're running toward the ball?)
  • Is the suicide squeeze play on? (Have you ever had a guy slide into your face with his steel cleats pointed at your chin?)
  • Are they playing for a double play? (Have you ever had a guy try to break your legs as you were in mid-air throwing a ball?)

I don't know; it's just little moments of action such as this that make the game so fulfilling.

If you want to try and discover how complicated baseball is, sit in the stands with a person who has never seen a baseball game in their life and try to explain what's happening. I doubt if you'll walk away thinking it's boring. You may not like it, my glue-stained friend, but it damn sure ain't boring.

Baseball is a thinking man's game. It's the closest that you're going to get to athletic chess, and I'm surprised that more of the E2 community isn't interested in it. The number of mathematical formulas used for baseball statistics is staggering - they've even got a word for the study of baseball statistics - sabermetrics.

Baseball takes as long as it does for two reasons. One, there's no time limit. Both teams have the same opportunity to win the game. There is never a such thing as "running out of time". In baseball, you lose. Two, because both teams are focused on every pitch, every throw, and every swing, it requires tremendous concentration As opposed to other sports, like football or hockey, there is never a situation where you give away a play (like punting the ball, or dumping the puck into the other end).

You see one guy standing there with a bat, and because you're ignorant of the sport, that's all you see. What I see is this: one guy standing there with a bat... he's standing in the rear of the batter's box... Why?... Because the pitcher is throwing smoke today, and the batter wants those extra three-hundredths of a second - they make a difference... the catcher is setting up outside... Why is he doing that?... Does the batter have trouble hitting outside pitches?... Maybe they're working him outside, and then they'll go back inside to jam him... heh, now the shortstop has moved a couple feet to the right. He moved too early... I wonder if the batter picked that up... it probably means there's a breaking pitch coming... this batter kills breaking pitches, especially against lefties... who's up next... you know, if he gets on, maybe we should bunt him over... the next guy hasn't been batting very well... here's the pitch... oooo! I thought that was outside... he called it a strike.

That's what baseball fans see. There are so many little intricacies to the game, and people who watch a game here and there never pick up on them, so all they see are people standing around. The fans are focused on everything... not just the batter and the pitcher. If there are runners on, we're watching the runners. We're also looking at the score, and what inning it is, because there are different things you do at different points in the game. We're arguing about whether or not the third base coach should have sent that runner who got thrown out at the plate in the fourth. We're also debating who's the best shortstop in the league. We're looking ahead to tomorrow night's matchup, looking back at last night's game, and thinking about the rest of the season. Who's going to be on the All-Star Team. Why do the Orioles suck so bad this year?

And I think the reason why he your dad told you to cheer for Ozzie Smith is because the Wizard is one of the best defensive players of all time. For those who don't know, he used to start every game with a cartwheel-backflip combination.

Listen to this response to the question of whether or not Mark McGwire should be intentionally walked in every at bat...

"I spent some time thinking about and working on your question of whether it's better to walk McGwire all the time or pitch to him.

"Rather than try to simulate a great number of seasons, I decided to look at this question from a more theoretical perspective. There's a feature in Diamond Mind that generates batting orders for the computer manager to use. The logic behind that feature uses an "expected runs" approach to assess (a) each player's overall offensive ability and (b) which parts of the batting order he's most suited for.

"As you know, the standard expected runs tables are based on averages -- if an average series of hitters is coming up, those tables tell us how many runs are likely to be scored given the current base-out situation. Our batting order logic performs a player-specific expected runs calculation; that is, given the rates with which this hitter produces singles, doubles, and other outcomes, we figure the expected number of runs that will be produced in a given situation assuming this hitter is up next and the succeeding hitters are average. We do this for all situations, weight them based on how often they arise in the course of a season, and we wind up with an overall measure of the player's ability to produce more expected runs than the average hitter.

"I worked through this calculation for McGwire based on his park-adjusted 1999 performance against RHP. For each of the 24 base-out situations, I let the computer figure his personal expected runs number, and found that there wasn't a single base-out situation where walking him made more sense than pitching to him.

"In 22 of 24 base-out situations, McGwire's personal expected runs figure was better, usually much better, than that of an average hitter, but in no case did his extra production add up to the expected runs from walking him.

"Surprisingly, there were two situations (runner on third with zero outs, and runners on second and third with one out) where McGwire lags behind the league-average hitter. The reason: his walks aren't worth much in those situations, his strikeouts don't advance the runners, and the league-average hitter would more often cash in those runs with singles and doubles. Those factors more than compensate for his higher homer rate." - Tom Tippett

Tell me that's not amazing. There are guys who are so enthralled with baseball that they'll code statistical simulation packages just to figure out what certain hitters are likely to do.

What's the scariest part of a horror movie? When the head's getting chopped off? No -- it's when somebody begins to open a closet door, or starts to walk into a spooky house. The actual event isn't harrowing, the anticipation is.

Baseball is filled with dead time. Players spend more time scratching themselves than actually run around the bases. But you know what? That's what makes baseball exciting. When the game's on the line, the closer is standing on the mound and there's two strikes on the batter -- that's when the fans are making the most noise. Not when the ball is in play.

For those of you that find all this boring -- there's a simple antidote. You just have to care.

It didn't used to be. Back in the heyday of baseball, the sport featured such excitements as:

  • Batters would sharpen the spikes on their shoes before going up to bat, so that when they slide into first base the baseman would get a nice little laceration as a reminder of who he'd been playing against. Some of the more successful hitters would make a show of filing the spikes just before they went up to bat.

  • Pitchers would throw spitballs and get away with it. A little spit on the ball and a careful throw would make a pitch curve wildly before reaching the strike zone.

  • The relief pitcher used to be a rare occurrence. It used to be that a starting pitcher would be expected to pitch for all nine innings plus any extra innings in event of a tie game. Most endurance pitchers lose their arm in the last couple innings of a game, so these last innings were a chance for the opposing team's batters to pull off some runs that wouldn't be possible at the start or middle of the game.

I remember going to a Giants baseball game with my mother. It was a Sunday, and the 49ers were playing the Rams in Los Angeles.

My mother was listening to the football game on the radio , and feeding me and a friend updates as the game progressed.

I remember, continually bugging my mom to tell us what was happening, and having her say, "Nothing yet" or "TV Timeout" or "Still lining up", while pitch after pitch and batter after batter would come and go.

I found it quite fascinating that all of this action was occuring in the baseball game while the football guys where still figuring out what to do next.

I also have a vague memory of a radio station timing a football game with a stopwatch. Starting it as the "snap" and stopping it at the "whistle" I believe the total was approximately 9 minutes. 3 hours of mind-numbing "action", boiled down to 9 minutes of actual play. This radio station compared their results with "America's Pastime" (pitch to umps call) and the total came to 45 minutes.

Major League Baseball features Condensed Games showing only pitches that result in game action on their website. These condensed games run about 20 minutes.

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