Five Reasons People Love Baseball (10/25/11)

Yesterday we wrote a piece about the “Five Reasons People Hate Baseball” to analyze why — even in an exciting World Series — the ratings continue to dip each year. Baseball is one sport that caters to loyal, rather than casual, fans. But, how did they become loyal fans in the first place?

5) It’s not over until the final out
Bill Mazeroski’s 9th inning homerun in the 1960 World Series. Carlton Fisk waving his arms frantically hoping his 12th inning shot to left field stays fair in the 1975 World Series. A slow grounder that goes through Bill Buckner’s legs in the 1986 series. Games 4 through 7 in the 2004 ALCS. Moments like this do not exist in other sports. Sure, there have been last-minute drives and buzzer-beater shots, but baseball is the only sport where a clock can’t get in the way of a comeback. There’s no way for the defense to stall by taking a knee or wasting the shot clock. The game is never over until it’s actually over. Anything can happen.

4) Team Loyalty
Most loyal baseball fans are loyal to one team only. People choose their favorite teams and stick with them no matter how good or bad they are — that’s why there are still so many Chicago Cubs fans. There’s just as many trades that go on in baseball as in other sports, but there does not seem to be as much fan loyalty switching. Red Sox fans didn’t become Yankee fans when Johnny Damon went to the “Evil Empire.” Fans are loyal to a specific team, not a specific player, when it comes to baseball.

3) Strategic
The goal of all sports is to win the game, but baseball seems to have more goals within the game in order to achieve that win. A pitcher will intentionally put a batter on base in order to get the strategic edge. A batter will intentionally get out in order to move over the runner. A manager will do something in the 5th inning in order to better prepare for the 8th inning. This type of stuff doesn’t happen in other sports. A football coach doesn’t do something in the 2nd quarter to set up a play in the 4th quarter. A basketball player doesn’t intentionally miss a shot in order to make a different type of shot later in the game. Baseball is a long strategic game like chess or Risk where most other sports are like checkers.

2) Statistical Records

Baseball fans know what each of these numbers represent — and they also know why an asterisk is by two of them. Statistical records in baseball is one of the biggest factors in why people love baseball, and is one of the main reasons there is so much outrage about the steroids. No one seems to care when a player in another sport — other than cycling or track — is caught using PEDs because nobody really cares, or knows, about the most important records. Most people have no idea how many career TDs Jerry Rice has or how many career points Kareem Abdul-Jabbar achieved.

1) Family Tradition
Baseball is a family tradition unlike any other sport. True baseball fans most likely grew up with the game because their fathers or grandfathers loved the game. Many fans remember going to the ballpark — holding their glove hoping to catch a foul ball — with their families as kids. Keeping score, eating hot dogs, and singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” are memorable for any child. There’s a reason Field of Dreams was made about baseball and not another sport. The memorable line of “Hey Dad, you wanna have a catch?” would just not be as impactful if Ray Kinsella said, “Hey Dad, wanna rebound for me while I take foul shots?” Baseball brings families together, and most baseball fans will admit that they have some sort of important childhood memory attached to the game.

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