This weekend marks the beginning of the most wonderful time of the year. Now, I’m not confused. I’m well aware that it’s February, and I’m not referring to Valentine’s Day.

I’m referring to baseball season.

College baseball starts this weekend with the Diamond Hogs hosting the Western Illinois Leathernecks. Minor and major league ball will soon follow, and I will be the happiest girl all the way through October.

You see, I still hold tightly to America’s first love and favorite pastime, though many have abandoned it.

Firstly, the venues are better set to watch the game. A bird’s eye view doesn’t always suffice for the average football fans, who see a mash of men crushing one another instead of the route the quarterback and wide receivers are running.

Secondly (and most importantly) the atmosphere is better.

Each team has breaks in the game to rally fan interaction and provide entertainment.

The Hogs have a game where a child from the crowd is invited to catch fly balls. The Naturals have an assortment of fan games, including one where fans stack Twinkies on their heads. Many MLB teams have mascot races around the field.

Then there’s the case of umpire-manager arguments. Few things are quite the mixture of hilarious, exhilarating and awful as seeing a manager berate the umpire until he is finally kicked out of the game.

And how exciting is the combination of those three words: “You’re outta here!”?

However, in baseball a fan with bad seats can still see every part of a double play happen –the third baseman scooping up the ground ball and throwing it to the first baseman who then throws the runner out at second.  Those lines are still clear, even in the cheap seats.

If you still aren’t convinced of the superiority of the venues and atmosphere to make baseball the best sport, let me cite the following: hot dogs, the seventh inning stretch and peanuts.

Haley wrote in her column Monday about why she thought baseball was better. She argued that the lack of a clock made the game better and forced players to get all 27 outs. I’d have to agree with all of it, so if you didn’t catch that column, look it up online.

The action may seem slower, but that doesn’t bother me one bit. Let’s grab hold of that old love affair we used to have with baseball, America! Sometimes slow and steady is good.

Plus, there’s always an abundance of hot dogs and sunshine.

Kristen Coppola is the sports editor for the Arkansas Traveler. Her column appears every Thursday. Follow the sports section on Twitter @UATravSports.

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