There are five phases of baseball: Pitching, defense, hitting, baserunning, and a certain breed of sportswriter concern trolling fans by pretending that the game is dying because it gets worse TV ratings than football.
This is a red herring, because comparing baseball’s TV ratings to football’s, in 2016, requires going through several causal filters and discarding the irony of newspapermen using TV ratings to predict the death of a cultural institution.
The hardest thing to do in sports, it is said, is hit a baseball, which is going to be Crawford’s job for, if he’s lucky, the next 15 to 20 years. He’s going to do it while playing one of the most demanding defensive positions in the game, and he’s going to do it while carrying the weight of immense expectations.
Why baseball isn't so convenient an alternative to football's head trauma risks.
It’s a ritual now for football fans: Gravely watching one of their former heroes talk about how broken his life has become after years of head trauma. In a story that ran on Tuesday, former Steelers receiver and Super Bowl XL hero Antwaan Randle El told J. Brady McCollough of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he has memory losses and sometimes has trouble going down stairs because of brain injuries he suffered playing football. Randle-El is 36 years old.
When the percentages aren't the percentages, and fear trumps winning.
We need fear to survive—there's no other explanation for millions of years of evolution keeping such an unpleasant emotion in such a prominent position in the human psyche. Fear tells you not to stand too close to the edge of the cliff, not to run around the corner in the dark without looking, and not to antagonize the hungry pack of wolves.
Fear would be more useful if it only led us into behavior that would increase our chances of survival. In modern American life, this mostly manifests itself in terms of sports, which are relatively low-stakes, but the impulse is the same. The desire to seize the day, to make good on the promise that fortune favors the brave, is counteracted by the knowledge of the wages of failure. The questions from the media, the potential for embarrassment, the desire not to be singled out for criticism.
Baseball as the steady extinction of possabilities.
On May 20, 2015, Nick Day hit a home run off Trace Dempsey in front of a few dozen fans, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since.
Last year, Ohio State started the season strong. After never having made an NCAA tournament under fifth-year head coach Greg Beals, the Buckeyes looked like they’d end up not only making the tournament but hosting a regional if they didn’t collapse.
Remembering one of baseball's most improbable performances.
Most of our writers didn't enter the world sporting an @baseballprospectus.com address; with a few exceptions, they started out somewhere else. In an effort to up your reading pleasure while tipping our caps to some of the most illuminating work being done elsewhere on the internet, we'll be yielding the stage once a week to the best and brightest baseball writers, researchers and thinkers from outside of the BP umbrella. If you'd like to nominate a guest contributor (including yourself), please drop us a line.
Michael Baumann is a writer for Grantland's Triangle Blog and Crashburn Alley of ESPN's SweetSpot Network. You can find him on Twitter at @mj_baumann.