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It’s a classic sports trivia question: Name the sport in which the defense controls the ball.
The answer, of course, is baseball. But it’s not the only answer–don’t forget baseball’s many relatives! It has ancestors (cricket and rounders), children (kickball and softball), and even foreign cousins (like the Finnish game pesapallo).
But it’s baseball, not any of these other games, that is known as America’s national pastime, with its own songs and its own myths (like the persistent belief that the game was invented by Abner Doubleday). Baseball is the game that has caused writers to wax poetic and that has driven statisticians wild. It is also the game that has given and continues to give us national celebrities, like this home run king, this legendary figure, and this great humanitarian.
Still, baseball is an old sport. Unlike basketball, baseball hasn’t had any major rule changes in the last few decades; it is a sport of the past. Baseball doesn’t get as many viewers as football and NASCAR do. And as Slate magazine points out, these days intellectuals are writing about soccer, not baseball.
That leads into today’s question: