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Is Softball Better than Baseball? A Guest Colum

As I am sitting at an A&M Baseball game a few weeks ago I constantly have the same thoughts that run through my head…”gosh this is the longest game ever,” yawn, yawn…”I rather be across the street watching the softball game” & in all “why is softball so much better than baseball when it’s essentially the same game??” Well, here is the proof…Texas Tech (yeah, yeah Aggies, at least they will speak the truth) wrote an article that is on POINT…if this doesn’t convince you, then I will by striking any of you OUT! Let the games begin

-The Legend KNez 


10. There is a predominant focus on the fundamentals of the sport. Softball players still hit a cut-off when they’re making throws from the outfield, catch a fly ball with two hands and will lay down a sacrifice bunt whenever the coach asks them to do so. Doesn’t matter if you lead the nation in home runs, you may be asked to give up an out to advance the runner and let the teammate behind you get the simple base hit that knocks in the winning run and we think that’s not only good fundamentals, it’s downright sporting.

9. There is a complicated re-entry rule in softball, but we can boil it down quite simply here: Any starting player may re-enter a game once. What does that mean to the game? It means that we can carry fewer players on our roster (and do less laundry) and use experts at certain skills. Using a pinch hitter or a pinch runner doesn’t mean you have to move your best defender or hitter to the bench because you’ve used a replacement. It means that you haven’t really knocked the opponent’s best pitcher out of a game just because the other coach takes her out. It means that a good softball coach will typically use everyone on the bench in their area of strength except perhaps that one final player who may have to be inserted into a game in the event of injury. It also means that every parent or boyfriend needs to stay for every inning!

8. This one is quite simple. It’s the same great game as baseball in less than half the time. Really! While there are only two fewer innings played (seven instead of nine) than baseball, the fact that a runner can’t lead off first means there are no annoying throws down to first base to keep a runner close. (Now, we love a good pick-off, but when it’s 34 degrees and the wind is blowing and it’s drizzling slightly, do we love all those throws to first to keep the poor frozen guy close to the bag? Yeah, we didn’t think so.) And, none of that means that there isn’t stealing in softball, there most certainly is. It means that most softball games last two hours, and, while it’s true that some games may go to extra innings, it’s also true that there’s even a plan for that for when it gets too long for even a player’s mother to care. That plan is called the international tie-breaker and it can make an otherwise really close game suddenly very explosive.

7. Speaking of close, a softball field is much smaller than a baseball field which means you get to sit really close to the action and you’ll be able to see, not only the ball on every play, but maybe even the sparkle in the eye of the fielder who is making the play. The backstop is only 25 feet behind home plate. When that potential game-tying run is scored? You’ll really, actually know if the umpire made the right call and he can hear you when he didn’t!

6. Then there’s the hustle. Softball players still hustle to their positions between innings and off the field after each inning as if they’re really excited to get to bat.

5. And, while you may have heard of a designated hitter (and are maybe even old school enough to think that’s not real baseball) softball has a position called a designated player. Here’s what’s really funny about it: ask 100 players, coaches or scorers to explain the designated player and you’ll get 100 different answers about what’s different about it from the DH in baseball. So, what is different about it? The bottom line is that because of that re-entry rule (remember, our No. 9 above?) even a DP, if she starts a game, can be removed and then can re-enter the game one time. And, a coach can–even in the middle of the game–choose to play without that position for a while and then re-insert it (and that’s where it gets starts to get crazy). There are two really important things about it to know: 1) coaches use it to be certain that their very best offense is used, making the game much more interesting for a fan; and 2) no one will ever, ever ask you to define the DP for any reason when you come to a game!

4. The Mercy Rule. (Some of us think this is the greatest rule in all of sports.) In fastpitch softball if a team is ahead by more than eight runs after five complete innings of play everyone gets to go home. We believe every sport should have a similar rule. There comes a point in a game where it’s just ridiculous to continue playing–whether you’re winning or losing–and the fans knows it. Softball has defined that as eight runs after five.

3. Pitchers don’t just throw hard. In fact, the best pitchers can change the speeds of their pitches between 10 – 15 miles per hour. While a batter is gearing up for the 65 mph rise-ball (we’ll get to that later) a pitcher may break off a 50 mph change up making the hitter look, frankly, just foolish.  And, you’re sitting so close, (remember No. 7?) you can see that and the look on both the pitcher’s and the hitter’s faces. Usually, everyone laughs. (Well, except the batter, but that’s not so different from baseball, we’d guess).

2. Often, the left-handed batters look like they’re trying out a crazy new dance step, not hitting. They call it the slap game and it’s unbelievable. A fast player who can run the 60 feet to first base in under 2.8 seconds is usually turned into a left-handed batter, whether she can so much as hold a spoon with that hand or not. Why? Because all she has to do is get really good at dribbling the ball on the ground and she can beat out a throw from any infielder at will. It’s not really a bunt, it’s not really hitting away, it’s called slapping. And, from a slightly sadistic point of view, it’s really fun to watch teams think a leftie is just a slapper and then drive the ball to deep right-center field (or off a charging third baseman’s ear) and scamper around the bases while outfielders chase the ball to the fence. The slap game has made softball an extremely dynamic, offensive game. Each year some of the nation’s fastest players routinely hit for averages greater than .400. Ichiro’s been close (and he’s the closest thing to a slapper in baseball), but you have to go back to Ted Williams in 1941 for that in pro baseball. The slap game has revolutionized fastpitch and has become a favorite facet of the game for those who follow it. Think of it as a bit of an antidote for all those great weapons the pitcher has.

1. And, the No. 1 reason we think fastpitch softball is a better sport than baseball is because, if you think hitting a baseball is the hardest thing to do in sports? We know otherwise. Hitting a softball is the hardest thing to do in sports. A pitcher stands in a circle (not a mound) 43 feet from a batter when she starts her delivery and, since most of the great ones seem to be at least six feet tall, they feel like they’re on top of you as the ball is pitched and a hitter having a reaction to a particular pitch is often as much luck as it is skill. It has been scientifically proven that the softball hitter has less time to react to a pitch, because of the distance and the velocity, than does the baseball hitter. In No. 3 we mentioned that softball pitchers not only throw the ball hard, they can routinely change speeds of a pitch dramatically. Add to that the fact that, because of the way a softball is delivered, the ball make break up as much as it can down. The pitch that moves up is called a rise ball and the best coaches in the game say the only way to hit a rise ball is not to even try. Imagine a ball coming toward the strike zone of the plate that suddenly jumps up? Sure, you see a great “breaking ball” that goes down or moves across the plate in baseball, but how often does it just leap up above the plane of the bat? And, yes, softball pitchers can break the ball down (that’s called a drop) and they throw both a true curve (that breaks away from a hitter) or screw ball that breaks into a hitter. Oh, yes, and the really good ones throw that bloody change-up that can make a hitter feel so foolish. So, the softball pitcher uses all four quadrants of a plate, uses both an up and a down pitch and changes speeds on a hitter. Still not convinced it’s harder to hit a softball than it is a baseball? Check out this link.

Still not convinced that fastpitch softball is a better game than baseball? Perhaps you might at least be convinced fastpitch softball is worth a look?




2 thoughts on “Is Softball Better than Baseball? A Guest Colum

  1. So… Mercy rule hunh? Can you only play softball when you are 7? Seriously what self respecting sport has a mercy rule? Have you never heard the expression, “any given Sunday?” What its implying there is that anything could happen in any game.

    Please… oh please KNez try and defend your Mercy rule. Oh and I also think #3 and #1 are in the same catagory… you should change your title to the top 9 not 10.

    Lastly please expand on the explosive “international tie breaker”. What the heck is that? When a game has gone on too long do they just then throw up lobs for a HR derby? This makes no sense.

    Posted by BB4Life | April 7, 2011, Thu, 07 Apr 2011 17:01:14 +0000:01 p
  2. Lets be honest- the Mercy rule is put in to place so a game will not go for 5+ hours. There are some games that you dominate over a team & it’s impossible for them to hit your pitcher or to even get an out when you are up to bat! This is NOT basketball where you get a chance to score every trip down the court…this game is a lot tougher than that! The Mercy rule was enforced as a means of respect & to avoid putting off the inevitable…if you can’t produce after 5 innings & the other team is up 8 + runs, I’m sorry but CALL IT! Good sportsmanship can still be alive in 2011, not to mention who wants to be picking flowers in the outfield? NOT ME!

    & if you wanna call it top 9 that’s fine but I can throw in the fact that we aren’t sissies and can play in shorts…we leave the game full of strawberry’s and battle wounds but we look damn good doing it!

    National Tie Breaker: Nice try with the lobs but it’s actually nothing like it! If the game is tied after 7 innings the game will continue using the “International Tie-Breaker Rule”. Under this rule, each team starts the inning with the player who completed the last official at bat, as a base runner on second base. Each subsequent inning will start the same until a winner has been determined. The reason for this- if you have two ace pitchers on mound it will be hard to get a runner in scoring position. This allows you to start the inning with a runner on 2nd making the strategy of the game change and a running in scoring position! Who will be clutch and win the game?

    What else you got for me?

    Posted by The Legend KNez | April 8, 2011, Fri, 08 Apr 2011 12:20:10 +0000:20 p

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