Dueling columns: Baseball’s place in America

Baseball intrinsic to American life

I want you to close your eyes and think about America.

What comes to your mind? Maybe the Statue of Liberty, apple pie or frozen burritos.

Only one thing comes to my mind. Baseball.

The numbers show that our nation’s pastime is becoming about as popular as Savage Garden, but I still would rather watch a baseball game than do anything else.

I will admit that football – and unfortunately, basketball – are becoming more popular than our pastime, but baseball touches more lives than those other two sports.

There are 30 major league teams, plus each one of them has at least four minor league clubs. All of those teams has at least 25 men on a roster. Meaning at least 3,750 are involved in professional baseball, while football and basketball don’t have minor league systems outside of the NBA Development League.

Plus, if you ask people what they did during the summer when they were 8, they will tell you they played little league baseball.

People will tell you the game is too slow and there is not enough action. But those “fans” don’t appreciate all the thinking and precision that goes on before every pitch and how difficult it is to decide in just a fraction of a second whether a pitch is a ball or strike, then to tell your body to swing.

That’s why hitting a baseball was rated as the most difficult thing to do in all of sports by USA Today in 2003.

It’s the oldest organized sport in America, dating back to the 1840s, and when America has been down over the years baseball has been there to get this great country back on its feet.

And with everything going on in America these days, we all need to take a night out to the ballpark and forget about our worries for a little while.

Billy Wessels is a senior news-editorial journalism major from Waxahachie

Baseball has lost its charm

Baseball and America. Once upon a time the two went together like peanut butter and jelly. But while the combination of peanut butter and jelly continues to make one heck of a tasty sandwich, baseball has quickly lost its sweetness in this country.

Gone are the days when baseball was filled with courage, classic moments and heart-stopping heroes. In its place stand men who earn more money in one at bat than millions of people in this country make in a year.

All of the classic elements of the 162-year-old sport remain intact, but baseball just doesn’t feel the same way it used to. People don’t seem to care about it like they once did. And players seem to care even less.

Blame the Yankees, the enormous contracts, the unlikable stars or the money-grubbing owners. The number of existing reasons to hate the sport far exceed the number of reasons to love it.

While not solely responsible for baseball’s demise, the steroid era’s effect on the sport cannot be overlooked.

The drama of the past two decades made an immeasurable impact on baseball and its fans. I hope the recent Alex Rodriguez (who makes nearly $170,000 per game) scandal will mark the definitive end to this dark time for the once-great sport. But current players who were connected to the scandal will continue to cast a shadow on baseball until they finish their careers.

Football leapfrogged baseball as America’s new pastime several years ago. Whether it’s at the high school, college or professional level, people in this country can’t get enough gridiron action. The same can’t be said about baseball as its popularity continues to plunge in the opposite direction.

Baseball just isn’t what it used to be in America. Only time will tell if it’s too late to breathe new life into the dying, mangled sport.

Sports editor Michael Carroll is a senior news-editorial journalism major from Coppell

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