“Apparently, baseball is no longer popular in the U.S.A., and one Mr. Gregg Doyel thinks he’s more than qualified to break the news to us” writes CSTB commentary enforcer Rog. “Judging from his writing style, he also thinks that being tirelessly redundant is the new black.”

The truth is, baseball just isn’t that important anymore in this country, and there’s no going back. I’m not sure how many people, other than the purists and the owners and (maybe) the players, even want to go back. We like baseball where it is, behind football and ahead of soccer and log-jammed in there with basketball, golf, auto racing and combat sports.

Baseball is OK, but it’s not fun. Not in its entirety. Unless the conditions are perfect — nice weather, nice action — a baseball game is an impossible thing to sit through for nine innings. If it’s hot, it’s too hot for three hours. If it’s cold … same thing. Too cold for three hours. If the teams aren’t scoring enough, it’s boring. If they’re scoring too much, this game’s going to last four hours, which brings us back to the temperature.

No less an authority than Peter Gammons, the Hall of Fame baseball writer, has forwarded the idea that the World Series be played at a neutral site, presumably at a warm-weather location in California or, unless he was kidding, Mexico. Sorry, Peter. I can never tell when you’re kidding. My solution is to giggle every time you open your mouth.

A neutral-site World Series is patently absurd. Baseball isn’t football. Local baseball fans with no rooting interest in the two World Series teams aren’t about to shell out $1,000 for a ticket to watch, say, Game 2. Only in football are tens of thousands of fans willing to spend a small fortune to traipse across the country to watch one winner-take-all game. Football is passionate. Football is fun.

Baseball? It’s an intellectual exercise rooted in tradition and contemplation, and tens of thousands of people don’t spend small fortunes to traipse across the country for a traditional, contemplative intellectual exercise.

Presumably, when the final of next spring’s World Baseball Classic is played to a capacity crowd, Gregg will reconsider the declaration “only in football are tens of thousands of fans willing to spend a small fortune to traipse across the country to watch one winner-take-all game.”  While Doyel insists that we he calls “the national afterthought” is now “a niche sport”, you’d think he’d have greater empathy for those who love the grand old game. After all, if baseball ranks as America’s second or third favorite spectactor sport, what do we make of a columnist who toils for 5th or 6th most popular sports portal?  Are his observations any more or less relevant simply because his desperate attempts to make more of a name for himself reach a fraction of the audience that follows Peter Gammons?

In any event, we have to give Doyel credit for having the chutzpah to stand up in the year 2008 and become the 37,000th writer to opine football is more popular than baseball.