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Bill Nye is as relatable a baseball fan as you will find, and it’s delightful

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Legends & Celebrity Softball Game Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Talking to Bill Nye (the Science Guy, as many reading this post probably know him) about baseball is refreshing, mostly because it feels like you’re talking to one of your friends on a barstool in your neighborhood about the local team. Their strengths, their weaknesses.

He’s not a believer in any of the outlandish rule changes that have been used as conversation points this season, but has his own passionate points to make as well. He’s kind of like the best parts of Baseball Twitter that way which makes him, even at 62, a very relatable sports fan. He even once got tagged out at third base because he was chatting with his third base coach and not paying attention to the play, which even gives him that one embarrassing baseball story that most of your baseball-loving friends would be chagrined to share.

Catching up with Nye before the Celebrity Softball Game in Washington D.C. (which airs tonight on ESPN after the Home Run Derby), he was equal parts scientific as he was self-deprecating. His scouting report on himself for the big softball showdown?

“Five tools. I cannot throw, I cannot run, I cannot catch, nor can I hit, nor hit for power. That’s the scouting report. Lacking all five.”

So yes, he’s just as endearing and down to Earth as he once seemed on television when trying to make small children smarter and more curious about the world.

When asked by a Fox Sports West reporter how he would explain baseball to an alien he veered right towards his science background, saying “we’d start with physics, the study of energy and motion” but after a few seconds fell back on the joy of the game, explaining,

...keep in mind what makes baseball enchanting is it’s not only a sport where everything’s happening very fast with these long pauses but it’s a game. You have to move your playing pieces around the board. Makes it cool, makes it cool. A lot of thinking going on.

The cerebral parts mixed with the how the sport makes you feel, who can’t relate with that? When the subject turned to his beloved Nationals, he was once again practical but emotionally attached, reasoning that they needed to emphasize Anthony Rendon more in the lineup and analyzing Bryce Harper’s struggles. Which is when he veered as close as he came to the national conversation about rule changes right now.

Nye acknowledged that Harper’s mixed season (he’s hitting .214 with an .833 OPS, but has 23 home runs) was partially due to the shift. Many would say that doesn’t mean the shift should be banished into the void though, and Nye agrees. He’s of the opinion that these are major league hitters and they’ll eventually “learn to hit the other way” even if it takes a few seasons, and a rule to protect them from a defensive strategy isn’t the right tack. And if Harper isn’t one of the players who adjusts (although Nye thinks he will), then he’s just going to end up hitting like this for the rest of his days.

The titular Science Guy isn’t completely aligned with today’s baseball fan though, which is part of why he’s so relatable to chat with about baseball. Which of your friends is 100% in line with your beliefs? Or your favorite columnist’s belief? Or logic?

For Nye, this comes in his opinion on the juiced baseballs. Even though MLB ran endless tests on the current baseballs and came to the conclusion that they are different in some way, despite not knowing what that difference is, Nye thinks it’s just how hard pitchers are throwing the ball. Even when pushed

Nothing is changed in the ball. But in every ballpark now it’s how fast the ball is thrown. That’s what everyone wants to know “how hard is it thrown?” As an old Seattle guy I think about Jamie Moyer, who played well, I think he was over 40, and he was all about location. So I think these things will change back. As a fan, I’d just like it to be more small ball.

I’m not here to question Bill Nye The Science Guy’s opinions, but it kind of seems like he might be wrong. But maybe being wrong makes Nye seem that much more interesting! When faced with the alternative that he’d be more like Neil DeGrasse Tyson and constantly correcting everyone down to the most granular points of a conversation, Nye being off the mark with one small piece of a baseball discussion is far more preferable.

In addition to being pro-small ball, a style which may or may not circle back around soon enough, Nye confirmed he is also pro-#PitchersWhoRake. Again, immensely relatable. He said of that phenomenon that “It’s more interesting when the pitcher hits. The game is just way more interesting.” and would definitely advocate for the abolishment of the DH. That’s absolutely an argument you’d have with your buddy while drinking through the middle innings of a scoreless game.

Despite being excited about being in the celebrity softball game, Nye took the time to drop some more urgent advice about the world as well. When the subject of social media’s effect on today’s world arose, Nye had a thoughtful answer at the ready.

Social media is not bad for you. Everything in moderation. What we want to emphasize is what we call in science education critical thinking skills. Is it reasonable that there are more home runs hit this year than usual? Sure, you can find that online. Okay. Did a presidential candidate open a pizza parlor with a slavery ring in the basement? No, that is not reasonable. Get your heads in the game.

When I was growing up the skill you’d emphasize to students was learning to find information. Now the skill that you have to really push in people in learning to sort information. To parse it. So you can figure out what’s good and what’s not. Social media’s not going away, deal with it. Learn to use it. Don’t make me come over there.

Don’t make him come over there indeed. Nye being equal parts your best friend and your elder chastising you for overthinking something obvious is exactly what the doctor ordered in this day and age. Having fun is important, possible more so than ever, but let’s not forget to not get too overworked about things like whether the shift should be outlawed or whether social media is an irremovable curse on all of existence. There are upsides to everything, and Bill Nye is here to remind you about them.