The author of the Nobel prize winning “Tits Out Teenage Terror Totty”, former NME scribe Steven Wells, offers his typically balanced view on baseball for the Guardian (link courtesy Repoz and Baseball Think Factory) :
The hullabaloo about steroids in baseball tends to focus on the fact that injecting yourself in the ass with 200 milligrams of nandralone docoanate every four days is a) dangerous, b) a rotten example to set kids, and c) cheating.
But the real reason steroids have caused such a stink is that it louses up the statistics. Baseball – more than any other sport (including cricket) – is neurotically obsessed with stats. For the hardcore fan, a baseball game’s main purpose is to generate a whole new set of statistics. The baseball purist has more in common with the trainspotter and the obsessive record collector than he does with other sports fans. There is something vaguely autistic about the endless flurry of objectively meaningless mathematical verbiage that forms the bulk of any baseball TV commentary. Poets, novelists, painters and film-makers have all rhapsodised about the sport’s inherent beauty – but this leaves the junkie-nerd fans cold. Screw the poetry. Just give us the stats.
And that’s the real reason why real baseball fans hate steroids – because steroids render the statistics meaningless. And without the stats, baseball becomes mere entertainment. Except that it doesn’t. And there’s the crunch. Modern baseball is only slightly more exciting that snail racing. To watch baseball live is to watch a sport dying. Huge crowds sit almost comatose, despite the bursts of rock’n’roll hammering out of the PA and the exhortations to “Make Some Noise” flashed on the scoreboard. Attempts to generate excitement might include a T-shirt catapult, a hot dog cannon or a lottery with a giant bar of chocolate as a prize. But the crowds just sit there – not singing or chanting or cheering – bored catatonic and paying through the nose for the privilege (a family of four can expect to fork out $276 to watch a Boston Red Sox game – and that’s not including money for gas).
A typical baseball innings goes something like this. The pitcher stands immobile on his mound, glancing sideways occasionally to check if anyone’s trying to steal a base. This goes on for some time. After an eternity he pitches. The batter swings. And nearly always misses. Or he hits the ball behind the diamond. Which doesn’t count. Or he whacks the ball, gets caught and is out. This is repeated (very slowly) again and again and again until three batters are out. Which is when a good proportion of the crowd scramble from their seats and try desperately hard to get drunk on $6-a-pop watered-down pseudo-beer.
If ever a sport needed drugs, it’s baseball.