This week, for all those who doubt that baseball is the most tried-and-true, most intellectual, quirkiest and simply greatest game on earth, I have a few questions for you.
How many other major pro sports leagues have histories that date to the Ulysses S. Grant administration?
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Where else can you blatantly steal something and not only avoid being arrested but be cheered for it?
Or earn millions of dollars and wide acclaim for failing to do your job between 60-70 percent of the time?
In what other line of work can you be considered the employee of the day by showing up in the final minutes and doing your job for no more than maybe 20 seconds?
Nobody suffers the ignominy of being "cut" or "fired" from a baseball roster. Rather, they are optioned, designated for assignment or even "granted" (that sounds nice!) their outright release.
In what other sport can a man old enough to be his entire team's grandfather wear the exact same outfit as they do every day?
How many athletic endeavors aside from baseball have had people miss time due to awkward sneezes, blowing out a knee while sticking a pie in a teammate's face, breaking a collarbone while carrying venison up some stairs, excessive tanning and too much time playing Guitar Hero?
In what other sport does the person holding the ball play defense?
Where else in the world would it be acceptable to spit sunflower seeds all over the floor and never be expected to clean them up? Or to just be able to spit whenever and wherever you want for that matter?
Or to grab your crotch with regularity (I am not judging the merits of said peculiarity, just merely pointing out the facts).
Where other than a baseball field would the home fans boo an opposing player for purposely giving their hero a 90-foot head start toward the finish line?
Most other sports have points, referees, benches and coaches. Baseball has runs, umpires and dugouts. It does have coaches, but they work generally in anonymity under the manager.
What other sport lends itself to fans logging the game's events with a pencil and a scorecard?
Or takes time out in the game to allow the fans, not the players, to stretch?
Or doesn't have a clock?
Or not only requires certain players to wear safety helmets but forces all other participants to wear soft-shell caps just … because?
Or allows teams to determine for themselves how big their home playing surface will be?
Or has been given the attractive title of America's Pastime?
You like math and intellectual analysis? Try sorting out the formulas to UZR, xFIP and BABIP and not reaching for the Advil.
Where else can you find creative nicknames like Charlie Hustle, The Splendid Splinter, Big Train, Little Poison, Dr. K, The Babe, The Man, The Mad Hungarian, The Rocket, The Big Hurt and The Riot?
Or the Halos, Pale Hose, North Siders, Bronx Bombers, Fish, O's, Bucs, Redbirds and Tribe?
What other sport gives us such colorful jargon as high cheese, Uncle Charlie, the Baltimore chop, the Texas Leaguer, the bleeder, the Punch and Judy Hitter, the collar, the oh-fer and the grand salami?
Other than a soap opera, where else on TV can you find your favorite team's games every single day (no reruns either!), with very few exceptions, for six consecutive months?
Finally, in what other major North American sport do we call the championship series the World Series, even though it only has teams in two countries?
In the wonderful game of baseball, that's where.
•Len Kasper is the TV play-by-play broadcaster for the Chicago Cubs. Follow him on Twitter @LenKasper and check out his [URL]blog entries;http://wgntv.com/news/stories/len-and-jds-cubs-baseball-blog/[URL] with Jim Deshaies at wgntv.com. To post comments or questions for Len, click on the comment link with his column at dailyherald.com.[/URL]