There are lots of sports in the world and for each one–should you find the right person–you can find someone to say that they’re the best sport ever.
But for me the sport of choice is probably baseball. There are lots of reasons for this. Let me demonstrate visually one of those reasons.
While baseball has its fair share of terrific athletes, it’s always had guys who were just, well… guys.
People say that basketball is appealing to inner city youth (read African Americans) because they see people like themselves, which sounds so reasonable it has to be true. But with the growing obesity problem in America, doesn’t John Kruk look like a lot of people you know? Your barber? Your dentist? The guy who sits at the bar and stares uncomfortably at your girlfriend the entire time you’re there like he has x-ray eyes?
I mean, that’s not necessarily the only reason we like sports–and it’s definitely not the reason why we like Al Hrabosky–but it counts for something.
Baseball is also appealing because it can loved on many different levels.
1. The game is not timed. An inning takes as long as an inning takes. A game as long as a game takes. It gives baseball a timeless, unrushed quality that appeals to people who are no longer in such a damn hurry.
2. The game lends itself to mathematical analysis that appeals to the nerd population.
3. It is the last vestige of the underdog in the sports world.
Yeah, that doesn’t happen anymore. You can make an argument that the Giants winning the Super Bowl was a case of David beating Goliath.
But you can only make the argument so long as you ignore the fact that Eli Manning comes from the most famous quarterbacking family in the world, that he’s already won a Super Bowl and that he’s famous and well paid. It was more like Goliath beating a much better looking Goliath.
Kentucky won the NCAA tournament. Alabama won the college football championship. LeBron and the Heat won the NBA championship. No one was surprised by any of these developments. Men’s tennis is dominated by three players. Golf is a little more up in the air now that Tiger Woods is aging, but since golf is the most boring sport invented by white men to keep undesirables away (I’m looking at you Augusta!) I’m not going to count it.
Now obviously, baseball has its problems in this area, too.
But baseball also produces things like Phil Humber‘s perfect game.
Phil was a complete and utter bust, a case of unfulfilled talent, until one magical spring day when things came together for him and he shut down a line up.
And as improbable as that was, it is nothing compared to the story of R.A. Dickey. R.A. Dickey’s story is not one of unfulfilled talent, it is one of no one ever believing he had talent. Until he discovered the knuckleball.
The knuckleball is the great equalizer in the game of baseball, and there really isn’t an equivalent to it in any other sport. It’s a pitch that doesn’t spin like any other. It doesn’t require great arm-strength, just the right grip and motion. Not everyone can throw it, but if you can…. well… you might end up throwing consecutive one-hitters in the Major Leagues.
R.A. Dickey is pitching against the Yankees tonight. He has just completed two games that match up in dominance against any two games in baseball history.
And now he faces one of the most expensive offenses ever assembled. It’s a terrific match-up. And it’s why baseball is awesome.
- Dickey’s ‘overnight success’ was years in the making (newsday.com)
- Yankees already pondering how to hit Dickey (newsday.com)
- Dickey aka The Anti-Clemens (dynamets.mlblogs.com)
- From nearly knocked out to knuckler: R.A. Dickey’s amazin’ ascension (aol.sportingnews.com)