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Saturday, November 30, 2019

‘Baseball Is Boring!’ — That’s What Makes It Great

Sometimes when people find out what I do for work, they offer me a look of compassion. “Baseball is boring,” they say, sympathetically.

They are surprised when I agree with them. The words are right, I say. It’s the inflection that’s wrong. Baseball is boring!

Players learn this quickly. No one can stay engaged for three and a half hours, so minor league coaches are tasked with teaching prospects how to zone out between pitches and quickly return to focus. Baserunners joke with the basemen holding them on. Outfielders carry on conversations during innings. Marooned out in the bullpen, relievers try to solve the world’s problems.

For fans, the monotony is even more pronounced, and even more wonderful. Baseball is best enjoyed as the soundtrack to something else. It’s a perfect sport to watch as you catch up with a friend, as you read a book, as you drift off on a Sunday afternoon. Baseball doesn’t demand you lock in from first pitch to final out. It asks you to absorb it.

In defence of certain aspects of the contemporary game.

 

 

QLE Posted: November 30, 2019 at 10:36 PM | 15 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: boring

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   1. "RMc", the superbatsman Posted: December 02, 2019 at 05:49 PM (#5905020)
“Baseball is boring,” they say

Which makes things a lot easier; now, you don't have to waste anymore time talking to them!
   2. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 02, 2019 at 06:02 PM (#5905023)
Ugh. There's no reason it has to be played this way. For the first 100 years of its existence MLB was not tediously paced.
   3. McCoy Posted: December 02, 2019 at 06:59 PM (#5905039)
Baseball is incredibly boring but then pretty much all spectator sports are. We live in an era in which people can be active participants in their entertainment or have their passive entertainment delivered to them at any time and in any form. Spectator sports aren't built for this era.
   4. Bote Man Posted: December 02, 2019 at 07:17 PM (#5905044)
Good thing we have e-sports now, huh?
   5. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 02, 2019 at 07:20 PM (#5905045)
Baseball is incredibly boring but then pretty much all spectator sports are. We live in an era in which people can be active participants in their entertainment or have their passive entertainment delivered to them at any time and in any form. Spectator sports aren't built for this era.

Wow that's total BS. People are less active than ever before. They don't want to meet people in person, or even speak on the phone. As Bote Man already noted, they'll watch other people play video games rather than actually engage in life.

If any era was ever optimized for watching boring #### on a screen, it is our current era.
   6. McCoy Posted: December 02, 2019 at 08:01 PM (#5905053)
Except that's not really true. Don't really rely on the media to get generations right.

And yeah, like i said, people can watch things they're actually interested in many different ways as opposed to choosing between what is on now between 4 channels.
   7. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 02, 2019 at 10:28 PM (#5905084)
Except that's not really true. Don't really rely on the media to get generations right.

And yeah, like i said, people can watch things they're actually interested in many different ways as opposed to choosing between what is on now between 4 channels.


It's not like you can't watch MLB on your phone, or tablet, or PC; full games, condensed games, or highlights.

Please don't claim that generations who spend 12 hours a day with their eyes glued to a screen can't be induced to spend 2-3 of them on sports. It's just silly.
   8. PreservedFish Posted: December 02, 2019 at 10:49 PM (#5905091)
Baseball is best enjoyed as the soundtrack to something else. It’s a perfect sport to watch as you catch up with a friend, as you read a book, as you drift off on a Sunday afternoon. Baseball doesn’t demand you lock in from first pitch to final out. It asks you to absorb it.

I kind of agree with this. Starting back in high school I would go to MLB games by myself with a book and happily read between innings and sometimes between pitches. As a fan at the park I still really enjoy the languid pace. It's a nice day, what's the rush? At home, I like having baseball on in the background, and only half paying attention. It's a good sport for that.

But the pace stinks when you're really invested in the game, and when you're concentrating on what's going on. That the pace gets slower as the games become more important is perverse.

This might be a better quote from the column:

All this tedium is perhaps even more valuable right now. Studies have shown that ennui can spur creativity. They have also shown that we as a society are becoming less able to sit quietly with that ennui. When is the last time you stood in a line without staring at your phone?


This might be true but it's not really a great argument for the sport (or, it's also a great argument for watching paint dry, or for traffic jams and waiting rooms) and it's almost assuredly a terrible argument for the health and appeal of the sport. When I tune into a regular season game now, I have zero expectation of seeing it to the end. Zero. I'm usually at peace with that, but I doubt that baseball's marketers and important stakeholders would be glad to hear it.

She's right, though, that baseball's unique pace is critical to its ability to build tension. Basketball, football, soccer and other sports have no real equivalent to baseball's 3-2 foul ball, which delays the outcome but heightens the tension. But this also isn't an argument for slow pace, as tension can build in 15 seconds just about as well as it can in 30, maybe better.
   9. Sunday silence Posted: December 03, 2019 at 03:29 AM (#5905117)
Basketball, football, soccer and other sports have no real equivalent to baseball's 3-2 foul ball


How about offsides penalty?

Soccer has the occasional: corner kick headed over the end line, and results in another corner kick.

I dont think that's a unique baseball thing.
   10. Ben Broussard Ramjet Posted: December 03, 2019 at 03:52 AM (#5905118)
I found it a lot easier to agree with this article by mentally substituting out the word 'boring' and replacing it with 'relaxing'. There's definitely room in my life for edge-of-the-seat, teeth-gritted sports, but in general baseball doesn't serve that function very often, nor do I want it to. Being in a timezone where playoff games generally start around 1am means that I only really watch games where the stakes are low and the participants understand that both winning and losing are acceptable outcomes.

Which works great for me. There are other sports in my life where the most important thing is the result and baseball can be, most of the time, a sport where the result is interesting but the experience is more important. I often don't see the end of games, or the beginning of games, but MLB.TV gets my money every year either way.
   11. McCoy Posted: December 03, 2019 at 06:52 AM (#5905121)
You're missing the point, snapper. People don't have to watch baseball. They can watch something that fits their niche exactly.
   12. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 03, 2019 at 09:25 AM (#5905137)
You're missing the point, snapper. People don't have to watch baseball. They can watch something that fits their niche exactly.

The answer is to make baseball more appealing to watch (more action, less dead time, etc.), then more of them will choose it. People never "had" to watch baseball; it used to be a much better product.
   13. McCoy Posted: December 03, 2019 at 09:38 AM (#5905141)
Baseball was one of a very limited choices available to the viewing public. When more options became available viewership declined.

And sure make it more appealing. I'm sure you're going to love the "new" game because baseball fans are so open to change.
   14. Sunday silence Posted: December 03, 2019 at 02:47 PM (#5905306)
But seriously (kind of) once we get robot umps (and batters ability to dial it in) as well as radio controlled signalling so no more stealingn signs, we might have the perfect off. environment say 260/320/420 or so....
   15. Bourbon Samurai stays in the fight Posted: December 03, 2019 at 05:23 PM (#5905370)
I kind of agree with this. Starting back in high school I would go to MLB games by myself with a book and happily read between innings and sometimes between pitches. As a fan at the park I still really enjoy the languid pace. It's a nice day, what's the rush? At home, I like having baseball on in the background, and only half paying attention. It's a good sport for that.

But the pace stinks when you're really invested in the game, and when you're concentrating on what's going on. That the pace gets slower as the games become more important is perverse.


Completely co-sign all of this. During the season, I have a random game on any time one is on and just check in occasionally when I am doing whatever I am doing, although I'll pay close attention to the ends of Nats games.

But the exhausting slog of watching a team make it through the postseason is ridiculous

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