Football has midfield; the best seats are on the 50 yard line.
Basketball’s best seats are at center court .
Baseball’s best seats are behind the dugouts.
Most people would agree. Here’s the problem: baseball is geometrically off center. It’s center of action is not in the center of the playing area, even ignoring the silliness of non-uniform playing areas. All scoring takes place at one small location at one end.
NBA games are played indoors in much smaller arenas than MLB or NFL games so of course fans are generally closer to the action. However, in both basketball and football all scoring takes place at the two far ends with scoring generally distributed about evenly. This means that the fans in the worst seats have the best seats for about half the scoring. In basketball, unlike football, most of the action takes place on the ends, near the baskets.
The NFL New York Giants play their home games in MetLife Stadium. I used Google Earth to measure the distance from the back of the end zone to the furthest field level wall behind the endzone: 32.5 feet, not much more than the 30 feet (10 yards) of the end zone depth. A Giant fan sitting in the first row directly behind the goal post is about 63 feet from the goal line. Since some touchdown passes are completed at the back of the end zone that fan may be as close as 33 feet from the TD.
Now let’s consider how far that fan is from the same such play at the other end, i.e., the furthest that the fan can be: 63 + 300 + 30 = 393 feet. That’s about straight away center field in Fenway Park Boston. Sure the Red Sox fan may see some plays up close and personal but maybe not. No actual scoring can happen out there unless you want to count a home run landing nearby followed by that silly vestige the victory lap, which the fan sees only from very far away.
In the previous Yankee Stadium I think the distance behind home plate was 60 feet, about the distance to the pitcher’s mound. Google Earth shows the current Yankee Stadium as having a distance of about 50 feet, five feet more than half the distance between the bases. Since 90% of what passes for action in baseball is two guys playing catch the center of action is the 60 feet between the pitcher and catcher. A fan at Yankee Stadium sitting directly behind the plate is about 57 feet further from the pitching rubber than the NFL Giant fan sitting in the end zone is from the goal line.
Imagine a line drawn from first base to third base. Now imagine a parallel line through second base. A fan at Yankee Stadium sitting in the front row on that second base line off third base is further than 150 feet from second base, half the distance between the goal lines. That same fan is 185 feet from home plate, 154 feet from the pitcher’s mound, 101 feet from third base and a whopping 214 feet from first base where much of the non pitcher-catcher action takes place. And that’s a really good front row seat. 214 feet would be about the distance from the end zone seat to the 50 yard line!
436. That’s how many feet from home plate a fan is in the front row of bleachers in left center field at Yankee Stadium. Those bleachers start behind the bullpen, which pushes them back about 27 feet from the outfield wall. In fair territory the closest outfield distance from home plate to the wall is about 318 feet and the furthest about 412 feet. And those fans see a play up close only occasionally. In fact, some plays that occur really close are blocked from their line of sight by the wall.
The football fan in the end zone essentially alternates between having the worst seat and the best seat. The baseball fan behind home plate keeps the best seat for the entire game and the baseball fan in the bleachers is stuck with the worst seat for the entire game.
All this makes our national pastime:
Take your pick. It ain’t pretty. There is a definite seating strata in baseball that does not exist in football or basketball. The worst part is there is no solution. Yes, even I with my radical ideas cannot solve this except to suggest: just stay home. Watching on HDTV brings everything up close and much more personal.