Baseball is a funny game. The players wear pants. Coaches have uniforms. The officials wear sports jackets. There are no game clocks or penalties. And unlike most other sports, just about anything can happen in a span of nine inningsa��which can be either an hour and 45 minutes or four hours and a half. But there’s a certain romance that comes with being a fan of baseball.
It’s not an intense sport, per se. It’s not usually a contact sport. And it’s the farthest thing from a fast-paced game. The players don’t have to be tremendous athletes to play. But a few of those very athletes are some of the game’s best and most fun to watch. Perhaps one of the best things about baseball is the fact that a game score could be 0-0 in the top of the 27th inning and it could end 21-22 at the end of the 55th inninga��in theory. It’s an extreme example, of course.
Unlike football, hockey, soccer and basketball, where only a few outcomes are possible in the last two seconds of the game, literally anything can happen in any half inning with two outs.
Another novelty of baseball, one that actually makes people put baseball in the back seat compared other sports, is the seemingly eternal 162-game season. While baseball from March to November may seem like a bit too much to the casual fan, there is a reason to appreciate the marathon that is the season of baseball.
The Pirates, Royals, Rays and Mariners were all stranded in a�?No Man’s Landa�? earlier this season. Their playoff hopes were waving back to them in the rear view mirror. After a resurgent few weeks, however, all four are primed to fight for a playoff spot with roughly 60 games left in the season.
The Pirates are sitting 2.5 games behind the first-place Brewers. KC was struggling mightily before their current six-game winning streak that has them 1.5 games behind the Indians. The Rays have clawed back to just 3.5 games behind the Red Sox. And now the Mariners are only 2.5 games out of the second wild card spot. That there is the beauty of the 162-game season.
The 162-game season allows teams to find their identity. It allows teams to realize what their strengths and weaknesses are moving forward for this season. And, maybe even the next one. It essentially gives teams the opportunity to figure out what’s wrong and how to fix it. The famous saying a�?You can’t win the pennant in April but you can lose ita�? has some truth to it. But with the right tools and coaches, more teams have a fighting chance over 162 games. And more teamsa��maybe even yoursa��fighting for the playoffs is great for the team, league, fans and players.
The dog days in the middle of July won’t always reel in the best television ratings, but it’s a part of the process of having a successful season. One of the best aspects about winning the World Series is the fact that the championship-winning team had to be one of the best teams over a long period of time. It validates the champion in a sense, signifying that this team was no fluke because they were so good for so long.
Another benefit of the 162-game season is the approval of growing pains. When a team doesn’t have the right tools just yet and would rather develop, only the 162-game season works. Because with so many games, there’s room for error and mistakes. And there’s time to hopefully correct them.
In comparison to the NFL schedulea��a 16-game seasona��nearly every game is vital to a team’s season. A Week 2 loss can mean just as much as a Week 16 loss because there are only so many games one team can lose before they’re out of playoff contention. A few teams have even gone 10-6 or 11-5 and have still missed the playoffs. In baseball, development is crucial to compete at the big league level. A team that is trying to develop young talent can be boring for fans, of course, but it can do wonders for the game’s best young players in the long run.
Lastly, a fun aspect of the 162-game season are the new teams that come to town. A longer season allows those that don’t usually match up to face each other not once, but at least three times in a series. It gives fans the chance to see players like Bryce Harper, Clayton Kershaw or even the infamous Bartolo ColA?na��just to name a few. It’s a fun time for fans to see these players but also see these teams that either play across the country or in the other league. In basketball and hockeya��an 82-game seasona��some teams only meet each other once or twice. But in baseball, the home and away series calls for at least six games against unfamiliar foes.
The 162-game season is not something people usually advocate about baseball. In fact, it’s typically one of the features that people want to get rid of. Too long of a season causes people to lose interest until the playoffs. But you couldn’t really change this, could you? It’s now a part of the game. It’s one of the things that make it truly special. It gives the term a�?an everyday playera�? its truest meaning. And without 162 games in a season, what else are baseball fans supposed to do?