Fourth and Long

Published 11:01 am Monday, May 14, 2012

I don’t love baseball…there I said.

Maybe that makes me less American, if so then so be it. I appreciate baseball and have no problem with it being considered our national pastime despite the fact that it clearly is not.

I watch it on occasion and because I enjoy talking junk with my baseball loving friends I try to keep up with the latest news, scores and anything bad happening to the Red Sox.

There are several reasons baseball sits below football, basketball and soccer (still higher than hockey) on my list of favorite sports.

It is a very slow game. I know what many of you are thinking, baseball is a far sight faster paced game than soccer, but that is simply not the case. Baseball may score at a faster pace, but soccer matches stop twice, at halftime and at the end.

During a normal baseball game there are nine innings, each having a break before, during and after. During the seventh inning they even have a stretch to wake everybody up and sing songs. There is a warm-up period for every new pitcher and late in crucial games there are new pitchers for every batter.

This not only makes for a slow moving game, but in the case of a Yankees-Boston matchup it can make for what seems like a weekend long contest. Not a contest of skill and athleticism, but a competition of awareness, perseverance and No Doze.

It aggravates me that the fields are all different sizes. In football I know ever field is the same length and the same width. Every high school, college and professional basketball court in America has the rim parallel ten feet off the ground.

In baseball, however some teams put a giant wall, or monster in the outfield and others have waterfalls and flying marlins. It’s not only weird, but to people new to the sport a bit confusing. Mostly it’s just weird though.

I don’t like that some teams or leagues play by one set of rules and other teams and leagues play by another set of rules. Some have a designated hitter and others do not. Some pitchers know how to hold a bat and others haven’t hit a baseball since Tee Ball.

Mostly thought the thing I dislike most about baseball are the unwritten rules. These are the rules that apparently everyone in baseball knows about yet no one can seem to agree on.

The problem with these rules came in to play last week when the Phillies’ Cole Hamels “welcomed” the Nationals’ 19-year-old Bryce Harper to the major leagues with a beanball to the small of the back.

Pitchers intentionally hitting batters is nothing new. Anyone who watches baseball or SportsCenter knows it happens almost weekly. What was unheard of until Hamels did it was admitting that it was done on purpose.

That rare desire to be honest in Major League Baseball earned Cole Hamels a five-game suspension and sent a clear message to the rest of the league. Follow the rules, written and unwritten or pay the price.

If baseball was really concerned about the problem then they would make automatic ejection and a five-game suspension the consequences for hitting a batter. Follow that up with a review of the circumstances and decide from there whether a larger suspension is warranted.

Instead it appears Major League Baseball is punishing Hamels for being honest, not for beaming a teenager with a fastball.

Yeah…I don’t love baseball.


David Friedman is a long-time contributor to Roanoke-Chowan Publications. A Bertie High School graduate, he and his wife currently reside in Wilmington. David can be reached via e-mail at