Baseball drama vs hockey action

Not too long ago I finished reading “Blink” by Malcom Gladwell Among the many things which stood out for me was the split second decisions required in sport. Because baseball allows for more analysis as the play goes on I believe it makes for a more mentally involved spectator experience than an action packed even such as hockey. At least using the “it’s a thinking game” argument helps me justify why I enjoy watching baseball so much.

When I was younger I played a lot of competitive hockey with some amount of success. I often remember sitting on the bench after scoring a goal, actually not able to remember the details of how the goal was scored, or the mental steps I took in positioning myself to score the goal. When I was playing my best, I felt like I was on auto pilot, simply relying on pure intuition. On the other hand, when in scoring slumps, I remember thinking long and hard about what to do on the ice. “Should I cross over and fill the left lane?” “Should I attack the net?” “Should I position myself behind the net?” It seemed as though the more I thought about what I should do, the worse I would play. Most sports are like this.

Baseball on the other allows more emphasis on analysis and positioning. Baseball allows for this since there’s more downtime between action where one can have more time to assess the situation. “The batter pulled the ball last time, so I’ll shade him into the hole,” “the count is 1-2 so I’m expecting a low ball so I’ll expect a ground ball”, “they’re down by 2 runs in the last inning so there’s no way they’ll steal second.” The list goes on and on.

I think that’s why baseball makes for a greater spectator sport. From the audience I can continuously run these scenarios. Time between each pitch I can guess what pitch is coming next, second guess the positioning of the second baseman. Hockey, for all it’s marvels, doesn’t allow me as much of an opportunity to question the positioning of the players.

Go Blue Jays …

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