Does baseball even qualify as a sport?

Thearon W. Henderson

One writer recently called baseball a "bore," and challenged its status as a legitimate sport. This essay examines his arguments, considers their logical merits, and concludes by calling him names.

From time to time, I take a break from my insanely busy schedule of napping, staring into space, yelling at imaginary kids to get off my lawn, napping some more, and writing humor columns to kick back, relax, and do a little reading. Just recently, a copy of September's Reader's Digest fell into my lap, and I found myself reading a column by James Breakwell entitled, "Baseball is a Bore." (They obviously forgot to print the subtitle, "Clearly, I Am a Unicorn-Hating Communist.")

In this essay, Breakwell states that there is "a simple test to determine if an activity rises to the level of a sport: Can you do it while chewing tobacco?" From there, he manages to prove that he is undeniably French, by asserting that cheerleading is more of a sport than baseball, because you can't chew tobacco and form a human pyramid at the same time. (Obviously, Breakwell has never visited West Virginia, where every activity, including full-contact mud polo and sleeping, is conducted with a mouth crammed full of Wintergreen Kodiak.)

This got me thinking: did I renew my license plate tabs yet this year?

From there, I began to examine Breakwell's arguments one by one, jotting down my counter-arguments on a napkin. Unfortunately, I later used this napkin to wipe an impressive streamer of tobacco spit from my chin, and I can no longer decipher what I wrote down, except for one cryptic comment that I think says, "Capricorn Monocles." As far as I can tell, this was a reminder to pick up more rum at the store. I later picked up the rum, and after a few "shots of inspiration" (wink, wink), I penned these thoughts on why baseball is not only a sport, but is the most awesome sport ever invented.

First, it has the most ancient pedigree. Baseball was the game of choice played by the young soldiers during "down time" in the Civil War. This was not only because it was the most natural fit for the open fields, but also because when they tried to play football, every time someone threw a yellow flag, an enemy soldier would shoot the referee from across the field. Basketball was also attempted at one point, but they soon discovered that it's impossible to hit the net from the three-point line with a cannonball.

Second, baseball literally gave us the "National Anthem." Francis "The Key" Scott Key may have penned the tune decades before the first Cubs fan discovered the true meaning of "despair," but it was the baseball establishment that insisted on singing the song before every game, and began referring to it as "the National Anthem." By contrast, football has contributed nothing to the national songbook except for a maddening slew of "fight songs," which are scientifically proven to cause bar-room brawls.

Third, baseball is played on a diamond-shaped field, where the movement of the game is generally a circular motion, as runners go from home plate to first, then to second, then to third, and then straight back to the dugout because Tom Brookens is being paid by the other team to get players thrown out at the plate. By contrast, football, basketball, and hockey are all sports that feature collective, group movement back and forth across a rectangular space. You know who else liked group movement across a rectangular space? Adolph "Rectangular Space" Hitler.

Fourth, baseball requires a series of athletic efforts most comparable to "High Intensity Interval Training," whereas basketball, hockey, and football require more of a constant, marathon-like performance. Ask any fitness expert today which of the two training models is more conducive to overall health and fitness, and I guarantee you will get the answer, "Subscribe to our magazine today for a 40% discount off the cover price!"

Fifth, baseball is perfectly aligned with the best of the seasons. Baseball scoops you up, tenderly, at the end of winter's cruel reign, and gently ushers you into months of increasing warmth, light, sunshine, vacation time on the beach, and heat-stroke. Then it carefully sets you down again at the end of October, just in time to look forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas. Other professional sports suddenly appear out of nowhere, and drag you into the rain and freezing cold, or worse yet, into arenas where the temperature is set at 70-below zero so you can watch the players zip around for 45 minutes on a freaking sheet of ice. You know who else liked sheets of ice? Adolph "Zamboni" Hitler.

Sixth, baseball does not use cheerleaders. Let football and basketball be the bad guys who don't mind parading beautiful women in front of the fans solely for the purpose of being leered and at ogled as they -- wait, what? The Fox Sports Detroit Girls? Ok, fine, but at least baseball doesn't have those lame rah-rah cheers that -- come again? The wave? The "everybody clap your hands" bit? Hmmmm. As I was saying, at least baseball doesn't have a Zamboni.

Seventh, and finally, baseball is a sport you can play while chewing tobacco. Yes, I know that's precisely one of the reasons given by Breakwell why baseball shouldn't qualify as a sport, but this is exactly wrong. (I did insinuate that he's probably a Communist, right?) Any sport worth the title should allow plenty of opportunities for things like munching sunflower seeds, chewing gum, and emitting lengthy freshets of tobacco juice. An athlete should have time between plays to stop, think, reflect, strategize, and then spend the equivalent of at least two at-bats earnestly rummaging around in his "equipment locker," if you know what I mean. There's no rule that says an athlete must be constantly sweating from the time he takes the field until the time the game is over. If that were the case, then sitting in a sauna would legitimately be considered a sport, in which case it would have to be televised, and people would have to get sponsors' logos tattooed on their backs in order to fund the enterprise. I think we can all agree that this would be a bad idea, and if you've followed my logic so far, then it's quite possible you also remembered to pick up some "Capricorn Monocles" at the store today.

So in summary, after having considered several dimensions of the sport of baseball as compared to other sports, we finally arrive at the most obviously conclusion: this post has been brought to you by Skoal.

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