Looks like I’m 180 degrees from most posters so far: baseball is painfully boring to me, whereas basketball beats out any other spectator sport handily IMHO.
My problem with baseball is that it is entirely on rails. Every decision is pre-made for the players based on the situation, with no room for creativity. The only question is whether the individuals can execute their particular piece of the scripted play.
In basketball there’s a lot more room for creativity, both by individual players and by teams. There are scripted plays as well, and some teams are very impressive in their ability to execute the script, but on the very next possession you’re just as likely to see an improvisational move leading to an open pass to a cutting player that completely catches you by surprise as a spectator.
One great thing that basketball has that most popular sports don’t is that you can watch a player’s emotion transform the game. A team can be down 12-16 points, and a player comes in off the bench, dives for a loose ball, gets all fired up, and you can actually watch the emotion spread through the team, fire them up, and lead to a scoring run. It’s a thrilling and dramatic display you don’t get from baseball.
While I can agree that the end-of-game foul-a-thon is not an ideal finish for a close game, I can’t bring myself to give credit to the baseball fans on this point, because the entire baseball game is played at that pace. Scratch, scratch, spit, adjust pants, adjust hat, practice swing, practice swing, glance at first base, scratch, shake head, adjust hat, nod head…ooh, the pitch, finally some action? Nope, foul ball, start the process over again. At least the last minute basketball foul-a-thons occur in situations that have a decent chance of ending in an exciting last-second play.
Of course, YMMV.