by Aaron Rife
Baseball is the only game left for people. To play basketball, you have to be 7 feet 6 inches. To play football, you have to be the same width. ~Bill Veeck, 1975
I love baseball. I love baseball quotes. Words are easily formed to connect the game with real life and to fans of the game. The above quote speaks to why baseball is “America’s Game”. It may not be the highest rated sporting event on TV or the most talked about topic on ESPN (changing to ESPNFL any day now), but it will always be a game for all people. Softball is a miniature, slowed-down version of baseball that allows any Joe Blow off of the street to participate and not embarrass their self. Basketball and especially football doesn’t have that (unless you count the Canadian Football League).
When the World Series was over and David Freese was handed the MVP trophy, it brought this point home even more. What other sport can have a virtual no-name be the most valuable player in its championship event? Only baseball.
Baseball is a game of statistics so let me use a few to illustrate. When you think of great athletes you think of Hall of Fame players so that is what I’ll use (these numbers assume certain players make the HOF). In 43 NBA Finals series, 43 finals MVPs 39 of them are HOF players, a whopping 91%. Basically you need a HOF player in basketball to win a championship. Football has had 45 Super Bowls, 30 MVPs are HOF players, 66%. Baseball has seen 58 World Series MVPs; only 21 of them are players in the HOF, 36%.
What does this say about baseball? To me it’s one of the many reasons why baseball is a better sport than football and basketball. No matter who is at bat or on the mound you can’t take them for granted. Anyone can be the hero, and you see it all the time. To steal a quote from the greatest baseball movie ever, The Sandlot, “Heroes get remembered, but legends never die”. Think of “legends” as Hall of Famers; in football and basketball you need legends to win championships; in baseball you just need heroes.