Since it’s still the beginning of this baseball season, or as most of America thinks, the pre-pre-season for football, I’d like to defend baseball.

This is a difficult effort. Football has become the overwhelming American game and baseball is generally perceived as three hours of overpaid men scratching themselves in inappropriate places at inopportune times.

But I still think it warrants a defense.

I understand that baseball is obviously no longer the national pastime, as that title has passed to Twittering and glancing at your Facebook page.

When we speak of the “boys of summer” now, that usually means finding out the day camp schedule for the period after school ends.

Most people I know don’t very much like baseball anymore. (Except my friend Dick, who finds it a perfect excuse for a nap.) They complain that it is too slow, too leisurely, not enough action, too complicated to understand, and that not much happens.

Well, yes, exactly. That’s the point.

Baseball is the only game that you can watch at the same time as you do a crossword puzzle. On the other hand, if you were watching, say, a football game and trying to find a three-letter word for the name of the imperial capital of Japan (Edo, for those of you working in pen), you might miss a touchdown or four beer commercials.

In baseball you can miss six innings, having decided to go home and move to Chicago, and not miss very much. Someone will still be fouling off pitches and scratching.

In basketball or football, you miss six innings and someone will have you committed for being very confused about what sport you’re watching.

And baseball is really much less complicated than other sports.

In football announcers spend an interminable amount of time explaining the technical differences between a nickel defense and Yosemite National Park because many of us can confuse the two. Baseball, although it does have a language all its own — in many respects, quite similar to Hungarian — is much more easily decipherable.

During, for instance, the baseball play that is called the hit and run, somebody hits and somebody else runs. And yes, somebody scratches, but fortunately we do not need announcers and color commentators to explain this.

 
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