he sport’s just too slow and unathletic

I rarely follow any sort of sports season, but there seems to be a formula: Some end in spring and some begin in spring. Some, like golf, seem to always haunt me.
Although, I lived in southern California for about a third of my life, I don’t mind glancing at a Lakers game now and then, but I couldn’t tell you who their head coach is or what division they’re in.
I can understand why people enjoy basketball, or football, or soccer (short of hooliganism), or hockey, because all of those sports possess a certain grace and degree of athleticism that is fun to watch and that takes years of training to acquire.
I can’t even stand on ice skates, so for that reason I respect hockey. I can’t run a 4.2 second 40 and cut on a dime, so I am impressed by the skill of many NFL athletes. I don’t know statistics or names, but I can identify with the fans’ reasons for liking the aforementioned sports.
The 2000 baseball season started a few weeks ago. Baseball fans are beginning to gather around television screens in bars, at home, and even in the Rec Center, awaiting the outcome of each pitch.
I used to play baseball recreationally when I was younger. I used to watch the games on television also, but after awhile some aspects of the game began to disturb me.
Baseball players are considered to be athletes. Athletes are thought of as being physically healthy. However, with baseball, this turns into a problem you may run into in an introductory logic class: Baseball players are athletes. All athletes are fit, therefore, baseball players are fit.
Elementary logic will tell you that the preceding phrase is illogical. But you don’t need a college-level class to tell you that.
Former Philadelphia Phillies firstbaseman John Kruk made headlines a few years back due to his slugging abilities. Once, when he was confronted with the fact that he smoked and was a professional athlete, Kruk replied, “I ain’t an athlete, lady, I’m a baseball player.”
I remember seeing him on David Letterman’s show, talking about his pregame “ritual” of eating ballpark hot dogs and taking a nap. I liked his candidness and his lack of pretense. This was a guy that looked more like a drill press operator than an athlete.
This is common in baseball. Conditioning is not relevant to the game, and that’s due as much to the drudging pace of the game as much as it’s due to the object of the game.
As a batter, you run about once every three innings. On defense, you might have to run more, but between innings you can help yourself to some snacks, usually sunflower seeds, and perhaps some chewing tobacco if you’re so inclined. I’m sure it helps to be faster, stronger and fitter, but it sure doesn’t seem to be necessary, which explains why it’s the only major sport where players commonly consume snacks and tobacco products while they play.
As I write this, two newsroom televisions are showing baseball games. I’ll admit, there is a certain sereneness and poise that goes with the game. But to think of baseball as a competitive sport where athletes clash is naive. Sure, it’s difficult to hit a round ball with a round bat. But are you an “athlete” if you can do it well?

Amirali Raissnia is a senior photographer and welcomes comments at [email protected]