If I’m being honest (and when am I ever not honest with you people), I couldn’t care less about the Olympics this year.  A lot of that probably stems from the fact that I’d just prefer to keep watching baseball every night than to tune into a big event where I don’t really know all the rules and am going to have to trust the announcers to educate me (what if I get stuck with the Tim McCarver of water polo?).  And I’d rather see the Twins play or listen to the beautiful cadence of (the now Twitterly aware) Vin Scully than root for the U.S. of A. to prove that it has the best putters of shot on God’s green Earth.  And I don’t care to see the NBA superstars of Team USA destroy Nigeria, like the Globetrotters taking on an 8th grade traveling squad.  There’s not much glory in that.

It’s not that I’m not patriotic.  It’s just that I don’t see why I should care who the best hurdler or diver or marathon runner is.  I don’t understand the nationalist fervor that would have me rooting for a target shooter or rhythmic gymnast to somehow prove that the U.S. is #1, as though that weren’t (in large part) a function of having a large population and a willingness to funnel tremendous resources into our Olympic program.

I’m not above having that kind of connection to the team I root for.  After all, I root for the Twins because I’m from Minnesota.  But if the Twins win (a relatively rare phenomenon these days), I’m not going to claim that Minnesota is somehow better than Ohio because of it (rather, Minnesota being better than Ohio is simply a fact that exists independent of our respective baseball teams).

No, the real reason I root for the Twins is the shared history I have with the team and with the community that supports them.  We root together, and we do it every night.  We cheer together, we heckle together, and we express our disappointment together.   I don’t get that with the Olympics, so I won’t be tuning in this year.  I’ve got enough on my plate and enough space in my head spoken for without cluttering it with fencing or dressage.

I’d encourage you to do the same.  Here are several reasons why even the worst baseball game is definitively and objectively better than the Olympics, regardless of who you root for and how they’re doing:

  1. Anyone can win any night. Sure, there are favorites every game, but the greatest thing about baseball is that virtually every team will win at least 40% of its games.  The underdogs always have a puncher’s chance in baseball, unlike up against Usain Bolt or Team USA.  So the drama is heightened.
  2. No tape delay.  I don’t know how it’s been up in Canada, but NBC’s blunders with spoiling their tape delayed broadcasts have gotten increasingly complex and ridiculous.  It hasn’t hurt their ratings, but it’s definitely severely killed the experience for thousands of fans.
  3. The spirit of international harmony.  Sure, the Olympics are supposed to be about the brother (and sister) hood of man, but given the occasional racist outbursts by some athletes and punching of U.S. athletes in the face by others, there’s some serious intercountry antagonism going on in these games.  Meanwhile, baseball teams are comprised of players from many nations, including the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, Panama, Colombia, Jamaica, Curacao, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, and Australia.  There’s a kid from Germany in the Twins’ minor league system.  The Mariners have an Italian citizen in theirs.  And the Pirates have an Indian pitcher down in A-ball.  Now there’s your international brotherhood of man, man.
  4. Games in more than one city.  Sorry, if you don’t live in/around London, or don’t want to pay a zillion (Canadian) dollars to travel there.  You are S.O.L. if you want to go to the Olympics.  Meanwhile, there’s a pretty good chance that a Major League Baseball team plays within 100 miles of where you live, and a minor league club probably far closer than that, making it easy for you to patronize them with your money and attention.
  5. Reduced specialization.  Ok, in an era of LOOGYs and ROOGYs and Designated Hitters, maybe this isn’t as true now as it once was.  But think of how good the vast majority of Major League players have had to be at multiple skills: hitting, fielding, throwing, pitching, baserunning, basestealing.  Think about whether the talents that ballplayers have (hand-eye coordination, balance, speed, quickness, strength) would serve them well in other sports.  Now ask yourself whether an Olympic sprinter would be any good at basketball.  Baseball players may not be as fast or as strong or as springy as someone who has trained for a very specific sport, but they’re arguably far better overall athletes.
  6. Short opening ceremonies.  The lineups are announced and you get a 2 minute national anthem.  Sometimes, on really special days, you get a pre-game ceremony that takes a half hour at most.  None of this 5 hour spectacle directed by Danny Boyle featuring dancing and torches and processions.  Get on with the games, pal!  We came to watch the games!
  7. No closing ceremonies.  You win or you lose and you go home.  But you get to play the next day too.  Don’t make a big deal out of it, there’s always more baseball to play.
  8. Longer season.  Two weeks versus six months?  I will take six months of nightly sporting entertainment, thank you.  Have fun with the rest of your summer, Olympics fans.  I’ll be watching baseball deep into the Fall.

Comments (45)

  1. The fact that you believe a baseball player is a better overall athlete than a gymnast is so ridiculous. There’s no possible way you can make a convincing argument about that.

    This is the kind of crap I’d expect to read on Bleacher Report.

    • haha.. yeah this has Bleacher Report written all over it.

    • Ouch. I suppose that’s a fairly big claim. And certainly I wouldn’t argue that a ballplayer could do the things that a gymnast (male or female) can (though I don’t think Nadia Cominice could hit a curveball either). I think if I were to rewrite it, I’d make it clear that I’m simply saying that being good at baseball requires a wider array of skills than many Olympic events, and that the skill required to play baseball is something that ballplayers have on top of their other athletic talents celebrated in the Olympics. But yes, you’re right, I didn’t express myself clearly there.

  2. lol, this article is pretty ridiculous. For one baseball is generally considered to be a boring spectator sport outside of hardcore fans. Your point comparing baseball athletes to any other is pretty silly as well as you’re assuming baseball players do all of those things well, which is far from the case. I would put my money on bolt to steal a base or field a ball better than miguel cabrera or prince fielder any day of the week.

    • And in a biathalon that requires Ben Revere and Bolt to hit a fastball and run all the way around the bases, I’d put my money on Revere. But you’re right that baseball accommodates players of various degrees of athleticism, and I should have said that made it clear I was talking about some baseball players and not all baseball players. I came across as very trolly, which wasn’t my intent.

    • Holy shit, tongue in cheek, my friend. Can’t someone express their romance for the game in ridiculous – yet charming – fashion? Take this article about three notches less serious, and enjoy on a holiday.

  3. You are saying that a track athlete would not be good at basketball, and that’s a potentially fair statement. But how good would a baseball player be at basketball? Probably equally bad if not worse, due to the fact that most of them stand around for the majority of the game. The olympics come around every 4 years, soak up whatever you can, because you know you are watching the best of the best

  4. The author admits his ignorance of Olympic sports and then contends baseball (his favorite sport – shock!) is better.
    The notion baseball players are better athletes is beyond ridiculous.

  5. The baseball has more specialization than heptathlon. Sorry, I agree Bobdigi08, this is so Bleacher Report.

    -1 Common Guy

  6. As Plato once said: Lighten the fuck up, peops. It’s a fun piece on the differences between baseball and Olympic events. Only the smallest sense of humor is required here.

    • Differences?
      “Here are several reasons why even the worst baseball game is definitively and objectively better than the Olympics.”
      I understand that is probably a joke, but it might have come off better if the author knew something Olympic sports.

      • There’s this thing called hyperbole, and it can on occasion be mixed with irony. These are not difficult concepts.

        • “These are not difficult concepts.”

          Typical Parkes, never missing an opportunity to educate his readership.

        • Wow, I really appreciate you educating me about hyperbole, irony, and Plato. This really shows how smart you are. It totally doesn’t make you come off like an arrogant hipster douchebag trying to defend a poorly written article. This is called sarcasm. Should I explain to you what that is? It will make me look like such a smartypants.

    • This is ironic coming from Parkes; if one of his cronies hadn’t written this, he’d be tearing the article to pieces.

    • Parkes says the article is supposed to be ironic and driven by hyperbole but the Common Man seems to be defending his assertion that baseball players are better athletes than many Olympians in the comments. Those two need to get their story together.

  7. On a less combatative note, Canadian broadcast coverage of the Olympics has been absolutely fabulous. NBC really dropped the ball this year, apparently.

    • Agreed on CTV/TSN/Rogers coverage. Top notch. My only complaint/suggestion would be some sort of advisory on all channels (even in the form of a banner) when a Canadian is about to compete elsewhere.

      Also, you can enjoy the Olympics and enjoy baseball at the same time, though there is no doubt about which has more importance for two weeks. I understand this is (apparently?) a joke… but still.

  8. As someone who could give 2 #@$% about 99% of the Olympic events, I tried watching it and the crappy coverage ruining it.
    Friday night – some swimming event (I think 800 meters), the leader was going faster than world record time through 2 legs (don’t know what you call back and forth in pool)…So the coverage goes to a commerical only to come back to the total end of the race.
    It was worth the 15 minutes of garbage lead-up to it so I could miss most of an eight minute race.
    Plus events with judges are absolute garbage as most seemed fixed

  9. If anything here reeks of Bleacher Report, it’s these humourless, defensive, derp-tastic comments.

  10. Wow these are all commenters I have never seen here (for the most part) and don’t get that things can be funny on teh netz. Lighten up people. You may not agree with TCM’s thoughts on the Olympics but chill.

  11. I have always thought that one of the world’s most difficult athletic endeavours is to hit a baseball thrown by a major league pitcher.

  12. Seriously baseball? Now i have read everyithing. Baseball is so lucky that it doesn’t have to compete with nfl, nhl, or nba otherwise no one would give a crap about a sport where ball players pull up with an injury from running to first base. Their great atheletes alright.

  13. Bolt is the greatest athlete in the world, only a racist would disagree. Baseball is my fav sport, but I would be an idiot if I didnt respect Bolt more then any athlete ever. So Baseball is not better then the 100 meter dash. Why must you dinks always be negative? Just to be negative is my guess.

    • This may be the dumbest thing |’ve ever read. If i don’t think Bolt is the greatest athlete in the world I’m racist? I hate the guy, but you can easily make the claim that Lebron is the greatest athlete in the world, or whoever the best marathon runner in the world is, or the top triathlete, or you could pick a shit load of different people, why would someone who runs for 100 meters automatically be the best athlete in the world? Come on.

      • Bolt is the most exciting Athlete period, you think it’s as simple as just running. To do what he does consistently, in that stage at the Olympics or wherever cant be beat by anyone. Lebron and his dumb fkn Tattoos can fuck off, there have been MANY before him better. Cant say that about Bolt now can ya????? If your brain cant absorb this, then you can keep paddling up the dumb shit river.

  14. Baseball is better than the Olympics because it only rips off baseball fans. The Olympics steals from everybody.

  15. The mere fact that the Olympics come once every 4 years and celebrates the power and spirit of ATHLETICS is enough to laugh at this post and say, “HUH?” lol And it’s not home grown internationality, its ACTUALLY international where they’re not Americanized. OH OH OH and don’t forget the Olympics unlike the MLB actually tests their athletes for steroids. I GUARANTEE IF THE MLB STARTS TO TAKE DRUG TESTING MORE SERIOUSLY, BASEBALL WOULD BE THE MOST BORING SPORT AND EVENTUALLY PASS AWAY :) Baseball will now and forever be JUST an American favourite past time lol. Sorry to break it to you :)

  16. I like this article. I feel the same way about the current state of the Olympics, but it may be related to NBC’s epic fail of coverage. And the Republican/Democrat ads during commercial breaks…way to show the unanimity and goodwill that the games are supposed to exemplify.

  17. Now I know why The Common Man roots for the Twins and wont be watching the Olympics. Slow news day in the world of baseball?

  18. Meh, I was gonna bring up the heptathlon comp but it looks like it’s already been covered…

    Let me just say this…when the winter games came here and I was three hours away from Van, I had no real means or incentive to go pay hundreds of dollars to see some event I couldn’t have cared less about. But even though I pretty much loathe hockey, when it came time for the gold medal game I found myself at a bar where everyone was cheering in unison. Long story short: it was a grand old time, and between the gold medal game and the Canucks’ run, I transformed from hockey-hater to fairweather fan.

    This year, I figured I wouldn’t care about the summer games at all – no local connection, few serious hopes for Canada, not to mention that it was going up against baseball. The first time someone asked if I was gonna watch the Olympics I laughed in their face. But then the Opening Ceremonies came on, and I watched some of them. Then I started watching a few events in between innings. And then yesterday, I found myself watching WOMEN’S WATER POLO instead of baseball, because, well, why the fuck not? It was tied in extra time, and a great game is still better than a shitty game, whatever sport it is. Doesn’t change the fact that I’m a baseball fan, but when you consider that I’m going to have a chance to watch approximately 600 more Jays games before the next summer Olympics, missing a few Jeff Mathis at bats doesn’t seem so painful..

  19. I hope anyone shitting on the Olympics just watched the Canada USA women’s soccer game. I don’t even like soccer and it was one of the best games in any sport I’ve seen in years. Christine Sinclair is a national hero and Melissa Tancredi is a wrecking ball. Wow what a game. K I’m done lol

    Oh yeah, and at least officials suck in other sports too, not just baseball.

  20. There’s a reason there’s something called Major League Baseball, and nothing called Major League Track and Field. One is more entertaining that the other.

  21. If this article is so offensive, and Parkes is such an “arrogant hipster douchebag”. why are you on this site? if it greatly bothers you, DONT VISIT THE SITE.
    guess what, these guys get paid to write, they don’t (and shouldn’t) give two shits what you think. This article is a joke, not an attack on a nation.

    • “Parkes is such an “arrogant hipster douchebag”. why are you on this site? if it greatly bothers you, DONT VISIT THE SITE”

      I’m on the site because Stoeten is away and the Jays were off on Monday so I checked out GB.That ‘s what the Score wants, crossover traffic and pageviews.So they do give a shit whether the stuff they write is read.
      I’m not a fan of “The Common Man” posts but I still read them to see if the content has improved.I was neither impressed nor repulsed by the post,. So I consider it casual reading.
      As far as Parkes always defending his writers with a condescending smirk,perhaps he should evaluate the critique and learn from it.
      But then again, he’s too smart for that.

  22. As a non-North American this is pure speculation, but I would imagine part of the appeal of the Olympics for people from the two most northern North American nations is specifically because North American team sports are so insular. It’s always city vs. city. The Olympics, it would seem, is the one major sporting occasion where you can see a United States of American or Canadian sportsperson compete against a Russian, Brazilian, or Australian. Maybe I’m wrong, I dunno. Just a thought.

  23. Reluctant as I am to side with the mouth-breathers on this one, I’m siding with the mouth-breathers. Arguments such as this ultimately come down to ‘I don’t like the Olympics’, which is fine. Where people get shirty is with the implication ‘and nor should you’.

    There’s a whole wide world of peole out there that don’t get much from major league sport. Many are not very interested in sport at all, and many just don’t like the monotonous diet of 4 sports that makes up 95% of all coverage. For them, once every two years, there’s something called the Olympics, which for all it’s many faults, provides an inordinate amount of pleasure to an inordinate number of people. In also makes it possible for those people to get off the couch and try a sport that works for them … whether it be synchronised bouncing, competive pyjama tugging, or poking each other with metal sticks.

    Thankfully, we don’t need to pick between 6 months of entertainment or two weeks, because we can all have both.

    It is also the only major arena where women’s sport is (almost, so long as you are not a canoer) on an equal footing with men, and where a victory by a woman is seen as an equal achievement, worthy of equal celebration. There are about 3 billion reasons why that’s a good thing.

    Synchronised swimming is the tired example that gets trotted out to prove the absurdity of the games (although why swimming upside down is sillier than trying to hit a ball with a stick is a mystery to me, and I say that as a huge baseball fan). But for all the people out there who are inspired to make themselves a little bit fitter and a little bit happier because they enjoy the synchronised swimming being on the TV for one day every four years, I think ‘thank God for the Olympics’.

  24. baseball sux…always will

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