Dodgers

With the 2018 World Series in full swing, there's a debate about whether or not baseball is still America's favorite sport.

Baseball still holds the title of America's pastime

Jordan Simal | contributing writer

Nothing can replace baseball and no other sport deserves to be called America’s pastime. Many cherish that trademark memory of being a kid at the ballpark, trying to catch a pop fly with a beaten-up glove and chowing down on hot dogs with their families. It doesn’t matter if it’s ath the high school, college, minor or major league level, baseball is sewn into the fabric of America. Just like bald eagles, Dixieland and apple pie, baseball is one of the building blocks of this country’s identity. Wrigley Field and Fenway Park are recognized as landmarks in the U.S. sometimes more often than the Washington Monument, the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone National Park.

It’s called a pastime for a reason. Unlike football and basketball, baseball has been around since the 19th century. Although professional baseball had yet to be established, the sport was around during the Civil War. Football and basketball wouldn’t take off until the mid-20th century. The National and American Leagues of professional baseball were established in 1871, becoming the first professional American sport. Being the first professional sport is strong grounds for being called our nation’s pastime.

While everyone today may be more concerned about the “Madden Curse” revolving around the NFL, sports curses also seem to have their roots in baseball as well. The curses of the Bambino and the Billy Goat that haunted the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs, respectfully for decades. Boston’s Bambino Curse was the result of the organization selling arguably the greatest baseball player who ever lived, Babe Ruth, to the rival New York Yankees and it wasn’t broken until 2004 when the Sox won their first World Series in 86 years. The Cubs’ Billy Goat Curse was broken in 2016 after the club won its first World Series Championship after going through a 108-year drought. These generations of fans who finally put their despair to rest after so long will be the first to say the passion of this game is like no other sport in the country.

Legendary athletes associated with the game have stood the test of time as American folk heroes in their respective cities. Babe Ruth, Derek Jeter and Lou Gehrig are only a few of the numerous Yankees to impact American professional sports. David Ortiz, Cy Young and Pedro Martinez are royalty in Boston and Ernie Banks, Ryne Sandberg and Kerry Wood are more beloved in Chicago than deep-dish pizza and Navy Pier. That’s saying something.

Some also may argue that baseball in America helped in times of racial segregation. Jackie Robinson was brought to the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, becoming the first African-American baseball player to sign with a major League team. His signing would open the door for fellow Hall of Fame ball players Hank Aaron and Willie Mays to also play pro baseball. Desegregation in professional baseball would also lead to players such as Roberto Clemente, Carlos Beltran, Ichiro Suzuki, Hideki Matsui and Miguel Cabrera becoming household names. Just as America is a proud, diverse country of people, baseball was the first sport to follow the same dynamic. To this day, baseball is played worldwide in countries such as Japan, Cuba, Costa Rica and Mexico.

America’s pastime can only be baseball. It’s the country’s first pro sport and has been a source of our deep joy and tears for generations of American families. It turned men such as Jeter, Ruth, Big Papi and Aaron into legends. Baseball helped break the racial divide in professional sports and is a perfect representation of people of different backgrounds coming together to achieve victory as one. American baseball was the pioneer for all professional sports today and rightfully deserves its title of the national pastime.

Contact Jordan Simal at simaljg@dukes.jmu.edu. For more baseball coverage, follow the sports desk on Twitter @TheBreezeSports.

Baseball is a thing of the past

Brandon Ellis | The Breeze

The sport of baseball was a great pastime in America for a long time, but over time people started to lose interest in the game. Baseball became too slow for fans to follow. The sport also became fake because of the steroid era of in the late 90s and early 2000s, thus creating the opportunity for other sports to take on the mantle of being America’s pastime.

Football has officially taken over as the sport that everyone follows now, with basketball being a close second. Those two sports have risen in popularity because people like fast paced action and can’t take the slow mound visits and pitching changes. Baseball has tried to make the game better over the last couple of years under commissioner Rob Manfred by limiting the mound visits per game.

Even though those rules are great changes, people aren’t interested in the game anymore because the NFL and NBA are two gigantic powerhouses in the sports world. The NFL and NBA have gone to a more offense-centric style and have the global outreach as well. The faster, more offensive style of gameplay in both leagues makes them gain larger audiences and bigger revenue for their leagues. Meanwhile, people only watch the game of baseball if it’s a highly notarized game like the Boston Red Sox vs. the New York Yankees, the Home Run Derby or the World Series.

Even though it’s sad to say, the truth is the sport struggles to gain new fans because of how the league markets itself. The MLB is relying on what it has done rather than making changes that’ll make the game better. The only time that baseball is actually great to watch is when it’s October because of the high stakes in every single pitch.

The reason the NFL is great all year is because any team can win on any given Sunday due to the nature of the sport.  Meanwhile in baseball you have your top teams like the Red Sox, Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros that we know will be there in the end of the day because of their high payroll. Then you have teams like the San Diego Padres and the Miami Marlins who don’t know how to create a great product on the field. In the NFL this year the Cleveland Browns — who used to be the laughing stock of the league — have turned to an interesting team to watch even though they probably won’t make the playoffs

There’s an opportunity for baseball to take the title of “America’s pastime” back with football having its problems with concussions and disagreements over the anthem. Baseball is going to stay in the past because it can’t change to much without losing the mystique it has. Baseball will never capture people’s hearts again because the sport has become the older generations game instead of the millennial game it needs to be to survive the onslaught from sports like football and basketball.

Contact Brandon Ellis ellis3bm@dukes.jmu.edu For more sports coverage, follow the sports desk on Twitter @TheBreezeSports.

 

Sports has been a passion for me all my life. I've always wanted to become a sports journalist ever since I heard the legendary Stuart Scott exclaim his great catchphrases like “Booyah!” or “Cooler than the other side of the pillow.”