Analysis

The Things That Make Baseball, Baseball

Baseball is by far the most unique sport. Not only is it the only sport that has different rules in each league, but also the only one without universal field dimensions.

Just look at our two local teams; Yankee Stadium dimensions (left, center, right) are 318, 408, and 314 while Citi Field’s are 335, 408 and 330. Dimensions aside, Citi Field also presents many quirks like it’s non-uniform sharp-angled walls throughout the outfield. Yankee Stadiums’ outfield is more traditional in that the outfield walls are uniformly curved and present little to no angles.

Unlike Yankee Stadium, Citi Field’s angles and dimensions may present much more challenging bounces off the wall for outfielders who are not acquainted.

There are also stadiums like the Oakland Coliseum, which has the most foul territory in Major League Baseball by far. Because of this statisticians say hitting at the Coliseum takes five to 10 points off every batter’s average.

Baseball, therefore, presents the true home-field advantage. Unlike all other sports where the visiting team simply needs to overcome loud jeering, visiting MLB teams are at a true disadvantage being unfamiliar with the dimensions of the stadium and how it may impact specific plays or the game overall.

Another oddity that presents perennial debates among baseball executives is the designated hitter rule or lack there of in the National League.

After the American League owners voted 8-4 to approve the DH for a three-year trial, Yankee Ron Bloomberg became the first official DH in MLB history on April 6, 1973. After an attendance boost in the AL, the National League held a meeting on August 13, 1980, where they were unable to reach an agreement to approve the DH in the NL and have not held another vote on the issue since.

Almost 40-years later nothing has changed. Opinions among fans and executives alike remain split. Supporters of the DH claim that nobody wants to see pitchers hit because they are automatic outs and therefore take away from the integrity of the game. Basically, hitters hit and pitchers pitch. Don’t tell this to Giants starter Madison Bumgarner.

No DH in NL promotes strategy. Managers are forced to make more pinch-hit decisions, double switches, and position changes. It’s a defining aspect of the game.

Whether it’s the lack of speed, action, the personalized ballparks, or the intraleague rule differences, there will always be sports fans that dislike the game of baseball. However, if you truly have the pallet for it, you understand the fun and beauty these unique aspects and traditions present.

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