Baseball is different than the other sports. Yeah, I know that sounds obvious and that you could point out the differences in the equipment used and how the game is played and all that, but that's not what I'm talking about. I'm not talking about the types of athletes required for different sports or which ones are more exciting to watch than others. I'm talking about the place that baseball has in our society.
People will say that the NFL is overtaking it, or that NASCAR is now the king, and a lot of what they say makes some sense, but those sports will never fully become what baseball has been for years and always will be. Over the years, baseball has become so interwoven into our society that one really cannot separate baseball and summer. One could not exist without the other. Baseball is there in the background of practically everything else we do throughout these warm months. Go to the beach or the pool for a swim and you may hear the broadcast coming out of someone's portable radio. It's been there through countless barbecues and other outdoor events.
You can smell the charcoal, almost ready now, and the smell alone has your stomach rumbling in happy anticipation of the burgers, hot dogs, mets, and brats (boiled in beer beforehand) that will soon be cooking. You wander over to the nearest cooler and dig deep down under the ice to select your favorite beverage and head back to your spot in the shade. It's a hot one, pushing 90, but you have it made. You can see children running all over the place, some throwing baseballs, footballs, frisbees, some playing basketball or volleyball, and some sitting with some portable game or some such. You can also hear the game coming from a small boom box sitting out of the way on the corner of a picnic table. A few people are paying some attention to it and a couple of old men are talking about how this team compares to some of the ones from their youth. You take all this in, and even though you weren't really paying attention, some part of your brain takes note of the fact that the Reds are up by a run in the fifth inning and that they have a runner at third with a 2-2 count on the hitter.
Baseball doesn't interrupt our lives the way other sports do, and it seems comfortable with that. Because there are games nearly every day, it isn't the event that an NFL Sunday is. You miss the game today, you can catch it tomorrow. But many people will catch the game while doing other things, being at that cookout or sitting in the back yard on a particularly fine evening sharing a cold one (juice counts, Krono) with some friends. Baseball is just there. It is hard to escape it, even if you want to.
When the Bengals are on, it's an event. People get their snacks and hunker down for three hours on the couch watching the game. Then they spend all week talking about the game that was played and what the next one will entail. Baseball is different though. You don't have all week to digest the game and prepare for the next one. There are so many games that the importance of each one is not the same. You can lose a laugher, but still win the series and somehow that is ok. If you spend two days talking about the bad game, or the good one, you will miss two or three more games.
Yes, baseball remains in the background for many because that is where they want to keep it, but it still remains. It is still there throughout everything else we are doing and has become such a part of everything that we hardly take note of it anymore. When you get a nice piece of new furniture in your house, you notice it for a few days, but after a while, it just becomes such a part of your house that it doesn't stick out. You use it every day, but you don't stop to ponder why you like it so much. It's just there. But if you did stop to ponder it, you would have a hard time imagining life without it. Can any of us imagine life without baseball? What would summer be without it? Sure, we would still go to our cookouts or play golf, or fish, but baseball would not be there in the background of all these things. Many a day has consisted of a day at the lake with the canoe, a cookout on the shore, maybe a few fish caught, and the game on a portable waterproof radio sitting right in the middle of the boat. Life just wouldn't be the same without baseball. I don't think I can say the same about any other sport.