I'm an end of season softball and baseball fan, because we have DirecTV and they still don't carry the Pac 12 Network after so many years, I've stopped counting.
But today ESPN showed important games for both the University of Oregon softball team, which needed a win over Kentucky to advance to the Women's College World Series, and the Oregon State baseball team, which needed a win over UCLA to have a chance of winning the Pac 12 championship, plus get a better seeding in the NCAA playoffs.
My conclusion: women's softball is way more entertaining than men's baseball.
Now, this is something I've been aware of ever since I started watching softball games. The Ducks' exciting comeback win in the final inning over Kentucky last year convinced me of that.
But today's viewing added more fuel to that conclusion.
And it wasn't just because the U of O Ducks won, while the OSU Beavers lost. It was how the games were played that made watching softball so much more enjoyable.
Let me count the ways...
(1) Softball moves along much more quickly than baseball. The between-inning commercial breaks seem considerably shorter, probably because baseball pitchers throw warm-up pitches and I don't believe softball pitchers do.
(2) In softball, a runner doesn't get to take a lead from the base they're on. Thank you, softball!
Today I watched a UCLA pitcher throw to first base about a zillion (or so) times in a row for some reason or another. The announcers thought it was because the pitcher wasn't comfortable with making a throw to the hitter, so he kept throwing to first base to buy more time.
Whatever the reason, it was super-boring. Softball runners still steal bases, by the way. There just isn't the not-fun-to-watch drama between a pitcher and a runner on first base created by the ability to take a lead in baseball.
(3) The women who play softball appear to be having more fun than the men who play baseball. Their celebrations appear more genuinely happy. Their cheers are more creative, with better choreography.
And I've never seen a softball player, or a softball coach, spit. Which makes me wonder why men need to. Don't both sexes have the same amount of saliva?
(4) I don't think this is due to a difference in athleticism, but softball is more unpredictable.
Today I saw two U of O runners try to occupy third base at the same time. And in the end, both were safe, owing to the Kentucky third basewoman's inability to make a throw to second when one of the runners had to retrace her steps.
Again, the unpredictability of softball seems to have more to do with the ball (larger) and how the game is played, rather than the ability of the players. Errors do seem to be more common in softball, but I consider this a good thing, as it makes a game more interesting.
(5) Softball games last for seven innings, not nine. That's plenty.
And softball has an eight-run rule. Meaning, if a team has had five at-bats, and they're behind by eight runs or more, the game is over. I'm not sure what the reason is for this, especially given my impression that softball is more unpredictable, but it does speed the game along, as happened today.
(6) Softball pitchers actually spend most of their time pitching, not shaking off signs, throwing to first, pondering the nature of the cosmos, or whatever baseball pitchers do when they're not throwing a ball to the plate.
I always record college baseball games, because I don't have the patience to watch them live. But I watched today's softball game live, and I didn't feel bored at all.
I've got a 30 second advance on my DirecTV remote. With baseball games, often I'll press it several times and the pitch count hasn't even changed. (That feature also is a must when I watch professional golf, where a putt can take an eternity, more or less, to occur.)
Anyway, I look forward to watching the Oregon Ducks softball team in the Women's College World Series. They've been in the Series six times, but have never won it. I'll also be rooting for the OSU baseball team to make it to the Men's College World Series.
But for sure I'll need to record the baseball games so I can fast forward until something interesting happens.