Why playoff baseball is the pinnacle of American sports

By Nate Smith | Broadcast Reporter

It’s the bottom of the ninth inning, the bases are loaded, the count is full at three and two and you’re at bat. You wait confidently, knowing that if the next pitch is anywhere near the plate, you’ll be taking the biggest swing you can muster in hopes of hitting a home-run that would in turn win your team the World Series.

Baseball is a sport that is so deeply ingrained into our society that it has touched the lives of nearly every American in one way or another. Maybe you’re like me and baseball has played a huge role in your life for almost as long as you can remember, or maybe the most baseball has ever touched your life was in elementary school when your mom made you play tee ball because she thought it would be good for you. Either way, there has probably at least one time in your life when you imagined yourself in the situation I described earlier.

You can probably imagine the intensity of that situation, but let me put it in perspective for you. Think of that feeling you get when your teacher begins passing back the grades for a test you’re not sure you did well on or when you finally ask out the guy or girl that you’ve been crushing on for months. Think of the shortness of breath, shaky legs, the endless amounts of butterflies in your stomach or the millions of thoughts that race through your head when something like that happens.

Now imagine having that feeling for three or four hours a day and five days a week for the entire month of October. That’s playoff baseball. It comes with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. It goes from being a sport that you can watch while socializing with old friends to a sport that causes your stress levels to run so high that any attempts at human interaction outside of yelling at a TV screen as if the people on it can hear you results in death stares and unholy remarks.

It may sound unhealthy, but it’s my favorite time of the year. It’s a time that I’ve seen bring people together who are reeling from a natural disaster or a terrorist attack. It’s the time of year where some of my favorite memories have been made. It’s a time where people like my dad got to feel a type of joy that they had never imagined that they would get to feel. The jump in intensity is unmatched. Sports like football are always intense, so the playoff jump isn’t as noticeable. Basketball is similar, but it moves so quickly you don’t have the ability to hang on every play like baseball. The same can be said for hockey.

Playoff baseball tells stories of let down and redemption as well as shock and awe. Playoff baseball can bring people together as quickly as it can tear them apart. Playoff baseball can make dreams come true, or it can crush them into a million tiny pieces. Most importantly, playoff baseball brings you back to your childhood, one of the only times where hitting a home run in the World Series is still seems to be in the realm of possibility.

To put it in the simplest of terms, playoff baseball is the pinnacle of American sports.