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Baseball: Fun for Players and Fans

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An editorial this week on the enjoyment brought to fans and players alike through the game of baseball.

Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

One of the many reasons I think baseball is great is because it's a contest of skill. Unlike many other sports, which are contests of strength or pure athleticism, baseball is a game that depends on the ability to perform specific tasks, such as hitting a ball, throwing a ball, stealing bases). Of course, speed, strength and athleticism still matter.

Yankee great, Joe DiMaggio once said, "when baseball is no longer fun, it's no longer a game." While I was never given the opportunity to play the game, I still understand what DiMaggio meant. Players get out on the field and they hit, run and catch and it's a very enjoyable activity. Look at the 2015 Minnesota Twins. They're having fun, smiling, laughing, but always playing hard. I can't remember a game when I didn't see Brian Dozier's big smile (usually after making a difficult play look easy or legging out a triple). He's having fun. This team is not built around one superstar, but rather a group of guys with one common goal: to win.

There is also a mental aspect to baseball. For every batter a pitcher faces, he must decide on which pitch to throw, the catcher deciding on which pitch to call, managers have to decide on whether or not base runners should be aggressive, if a shift should be put on, and how to stay one move ahead of the opposing team's skipper. The time in between pitches just serves to build the tension as we wait for these decisions to play out.

Baseball is also fun for fans of sabermetrics, the mathematical and statistical analysis of baseball records. Statistics is the lifeblood of the sport. For the fans, baseball, more than any other sport, allows us to judge players with numbers that talk about their performance. During the season, baseball fans enjoy talking about which player will hit the most home runs, which pitcher will win 20 games, will records be broken, and the list goes on.

Finally, baseball has something that other American sports do not: tradition. From the fields and stadiums, to the uniforms, to the statistics, baseball is a good design. There’s no better evidence of that than the iconic white and red ball. With its pristine white surface and high contrast red stitching, today’s baseball is a beautiful union of form and function. Generations of people have grown up either watching or playing, but most of all, enjoying the same game. I like that.