Why A Long Season Is A Good Thing
A lot of people I talk to think that the baseball season is too long. “It’s just sooo boring” they bemoan. “How do you keep up with it all” they ask incredulously. One hundred and sixty two games before 4 rounds of playoffs if you count the wildcard one game playoff. As opposed to say football, which consists of 16 games in 17 weeks before several win-or-go-home playoff games culminating in the largest single day sporting event in the United States if not the world: The Super Bowl.
While of course much more goes into the analysis – including how much more physically damaging football is to a person’s mind and body – even sports like basketball and hockey get by with nearly half as many games in a season. First of all, this interesting graph from Business Insider shows that isn’t quite the case as far as days go because the other sports have more off days and protracted playoff schedules.
Second of all, I would also argue that while yes, it is pretty impossible to watch every single MLB game, that is also part of why it is such a great sport to follow. To start you have nearly nightly action to keep an eye on at the very least. From there you have the idea that a teams season is truly an organic event. The more you watch of it the more you can pick up on the nuances of the game.
You can watch young pitchers develop sometimes start by start. I remember last year watching Jesse Hahn as he was called up from AA. From the beginning, you could tell that the kid had poise belying his age and the fact he had not pitched above AA before that start. He had three good innings before getting lit up some in the 4th and being lifted allowing 4 runs. Yet things didn’t stop there. The next start he went 6 innings, allowed just 1 hit and struck out 7. That is some learning curve! He would go on to a terrific 7-3 record in games started and pitch at least 5 innings in every start. He averaged under 2 ER allowed per start. The point being baseball’s season is long enough to watch a development like that happen.
Baseball doesn’t allow for much hyperbole in performances. In football a Quarterback might have three games in a row of throwing 300 yards and be touted as the next John Elway. Likewise he could have a few rough starts and never be heard from again.
In baseball you might have a month where you hit .400 before coming back to Earth the next month and hitting .100. You wouldn’t be able to really get much of anything from that until you see how that player performs the whole season, and then the following season, and the one after that. That is how Hall of Fame careers are made. Consistency – not quick strikes. A baseball is a daily unfolding mosaic and just when you get zoomed in on one spot it forces you to take a step back and you see a whole different picture altogether.
I thought about all of this recently as I recently completed the Eugene Marathon – and Bud Black got fired. I intend to show that while I am completely in favor of Bud Black being fired – mostly because I thought it should’ve happened before the season started – the other wonderful advantage of a longer season is that while the Padres have already played 69 games, they still have plenty of time to turn this season around and make the playoffs.
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