How is Major League Baseball different than any other big time sport? They play nearly every day. It's so consistent and so comforting on a daily basis that nights like tonight when only five games are scheduled really suck. Days off are usually scheduled for either Monday or Thursday and baseball teams generally get a day off every week and a half. We all know that baseball is a sweet life for those who live it, but that has to be a grind some times.
Contrast this daily comfort to the NFL. The games are generally played Sunday and Monday and then later in the season, after the NCAA is finished, Thursdays and Saturdays too. And even so, the teams only play once a week. The NBA and the NHL only play a few times a week. Golf is a Thursday through Sunday thing, unless your favorite player doesn't make the cut. The it's a Thursday, Friday thing. Soccer? Uhh...Perhaps they play on Saturdays? Not sure.
And the daily comfort doesn't seem to drag on forever. Sure, MLB has a long schedule that starts in April and ends the first of November. But it doesn't seem long. Contrast that with the NBA and the NHL where the playoffs seem longer than the season. The NBA and NHL seasons are unbearably long. Especially if your team doesn't make the playoffs (which is darn near impossible in the NHL).
But baseball...ahh...baseball. Every day is a new day with new matchups and fifteen new box scores to pore over. The same two teams may play a four game series, but each night features two different pitchers and when teams platoon, several different lineups. Those pitchers may succeed, or won't. And if they don't, we have a whole new set of pitchers to watch.
There is nothing like baseball season. For one thing, the season corresponds with the beginning of spring and the flower of summer. It means nice weather and shorts and t-shirts. The Fan loves the NFL, but man, that's a winter game. Brrrr! The NFL is a time of gray landscapes, short days and high oil prices. Baseball season is barbecue time.
The NBA ceased to be a sport for the Fan after the rules started being disregarded. There used to be a walk rule and a palm rule and zones weren't allowed. Now, anything goes and when a player isn't dunking and hanging on the rim, he's trying for a bomb that clanks off the rim more often than not.
The NHL is just the NHL. In many ways it's like soccer. So much energy is expended for so little results. Back and forth they go, end to end and five goals may be scored all game if you are lucky. And a fight might break out if you are especially lucky.
This post didn't start out or wasn't intended as a war of the sports. Playing basketball was a childhood passion on Mickey's half court in his backyard. There were regular 3 on 3 games there with Italians, Irish, Jewish and African-American kids. It was great fun. Football was played in the street. The Fan still has a funny looking wrist from breaking it after falling on the pavement. All sports have their charm and their allure.
But for professional sports, baseball is the Fan's sport because every day fifteen games are played with 30 different pitchers and the next day features fifteen more games with 30 different pitchers. It's a daily odyssey of delight and discovery. It's a daily walk through gamecasts, web feeds, instant highlights and the players we love to root for and against. There is nothing like it.
Which is why, once in a while, Mondays or Thursdays suck.