With today’s fast-paced lifestyle and things constantly grabbing our attention it is easy to call baseball “boring” and “slow.” And to a degree, the haters are right. It’s a change of pace from what we are used to today, which makes sense because baseball is America’s national pastime. But baseball’s slow natured game and its fans that don’t want the sport to change (also known as purists) prevent baseball from getting a lot of credit it deserves. The game of baseball has increasingly more parity than other sports.
If you Google the definition of parity, parity defines as “the state or condition of being equal, especially regarding status or pay.” Parity is a powerful thing in sports. It keeps all fan bases interested because everybody thinks their team has a shot to win. It keeps TVs on watching games, including games where your favorite team isn’t playing. Parity in sports is important because it keeps everyone (from the players to management to fans) on their toes. There isn’t ever a safe game.
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Take college football for example. We know what teams will be good every year. Alabama, Ohio State, Michigan, USC… etc. These programs are great because they recruit top talent year after year. As a result of this, college football is very predictable. And sometimes it isn’t fun to watch.
It isn’t enjoyable to watch these powerhouses schedule lowly ranked teams to just pad their record with wins, like when Michigan beat Hawaii 63-3 back in early September. To an extent, college football can be devalued because we know that one of these top teams will win a championship. Also, if you aren’t a fan of a powerhouse team, don’t expect your team to win big.
The NBA has less parity than every other sport. We know that the Cleveland Cavaliers will win the Eastern Conference and make the NBA Finals. Now since Kevin Durant joined the Golden State Warriors, the Warriors are now heavy favorites to win the Western Conference. There are two super teams in the NBA, but what about the other 28 teams?
It doesn’t feel like any team can stand up to the Warriors or Cavs, which frankly can make the NBA boring and predictable until the NBA Finals. Not to mention it’s difficult to root for a team you know has no chance of beating the big dogs. The NBA isn’t designed for parity.
The NFL prides itself on its parity. It is more unpredictable than college football or the NBA. Take for example the LA Rams, who couldn’t score against the lowly San Francisco 49ers but defeated the highly talented Seattle Seahawks. The NFL definitely has parity, but its wanes off when it comes to the playoffs. It is safe to bet in Vegas that the New England Patriots will make the AFC Championship game, if not the Super Bowl. The NFC is less predictable than the AFC, with the Vikings, Seahawks, Packers, and Cowboys in the mix. The NFL definitely has parity, but not as much as baseball.
In baseball, anything can happen.
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All 30 MLB teams have made the playoffs in the past 15 seasons despite having the smallest number of playoff spots. An article written by Matt Snyder on CBS Sports stated that 83 percent of MLB teams have made the playoffs in the last six seasons. And that small market teams (like the A’s or Rays) have made the playoffs more often than big market teams like the White Sox or Mets. Also, who would have expected that the Colorado Rockies, who made the World Series in 2007, only make the playoffs once since then.
The MLB playoffs, just like every year, was super unpredictable. The Cubs were heavy favorites in the National League, but the last time they were favorites, they got swept by the Dodgers in the NLDS. The Giants could have eliminated them from the playoffs, given the Giants’ strong playoff prowess, but didn’t.
The American League was more wide open than the National League. The Red Sox, Indians, and Rangers were all good, but who knew that the Indians would be that dominant winning the AL. Their team had no playoff experience. I (and many) thought the Red Sox would beat Cleveland in the ALDS. The New York Mets weren’t favorites in the NL last year, and they made the World Series. And the Kansas City Royals, who were down 6-2 in the eighth inning to the Houston Astros in the ALDS, came back to win 9-6, but if they didn’t win, they would have been eliminated. In 2014, the Giants won the championship as a wild card team. The Texas Rangers were favorites in 2011 against the Cardinals but didn’t win.
And this year the Cleveland Indians, who were major underdogs the entire time, were dominant in the World Series and had complete control over the Cubs with a 3-1 lead. In Postseason fashion, The Cubs came back, winning three in a row to win it all, making this a World Series to remember. Cleveland fans can’t brag about coming back from 3-1 leads anymore (Take a look at last year’s NBA Finals if you don’t know what I’m talking about). You can’t write this stuff.
You would think that the Arizona Diamondbacks would have been better with the acquisition of Zach Greinke, but they weren’t. Pablo Sandoval was an All Star with the Giants, but now can’t get on the field with the Red Sox. The Padres acquired Matt Kemp, Wil Myers, and All Star closer Craig Kimbrel, but didn’t get better. If you add stars in the NBA or NFL, you will make the playoffs. In baseball, who knows?
Before baseball is written off as boring or slow, give it some more thought. It provides excitement that other sports just can’t.