COMMENT:

As the Auckland Tuatara take their first steady steps towards an inaugural season in the Australian Baseball League, Softball New Zealand chief Tony Giles said this week he believed both codes could "coexist harmoniously".

But that's a bit boring, isn't it?

Sport is not really about harmony. Sport at its core is about ruthless competition, about a colossal force mercilessly crushing an inferior opposition.

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And with that in mind ... I'm sorry, Tony, I'm sure you're a great bloke, but I hope your sport is in the very near future eviscerated by the behemoth that is baseball.

Actually, that requires clarification. I hope *only one half of your sport* has its innards methodically removed from its body. I'm perfectly happy for women to continue playing softball, because softball is a women's sport.

Which is not meant in a disparaging sense, rather a factual one. There is a reason, when both codes have been included, why men at the Olympics play baseball and women play softball.

And that reason is because softball is a sport for women.

Actually, that also needs clarification. Softball is a sport for women AND for out-of-shape men looking for a bit of fun and an excuse to have a few bevvies after work.

In the same manner netball is played professionally by women and socially by over-aggressive men, softball can serve all in some contexts.

Which in this analogy must mean baseball is basketball. An imperfect comparison, perhaps, but absolutely fitting when comparing the opportunities those games afford their participants.

Like basketball, baseball is a truly global sport. Don't let that fact be obscured by people in this country who mock the moniker World Series for it allowing only North American teams. Baseball is a lifeblood in Latin America and equally adored in the Far East, while gains have recently been made elsewhere.

Softball's equivalent is the softball world championships. Try Googling that. For some reason, the primary results see a curious word pop up before softball. It rhymes with schwomens.

But I digress, softball's world champs may feature an international field but, similar to the fashion in which the deformed carrot in the White House once described Mexico, those countries are not sending their best. Won by New Zealand in five of its last seven iterations, this event boasts no athlete who mastered baseball before deciding to give it away for a crack at the sweet amateur lifestyle offered by softball.

And lest anyone be concerned about the bonafides behind this half-baked take, I did attend in a professional capacity the final of the 2013 softball world championships, and I also attended in a drunken capacity game six of the 2017 World Series.

One of those things was not like the other, and the happy memories held of the latter were only partially due to $11 Bud Light and a couple delectable Dodger Dogs.

They are memories of elite athletes, like Houston Astros starting pitcher Justin Verlander throwing high-90s heat - overhand - and shortstop Jose Altuve, at 5 feet 6 inches (1.67m), showing players of all sizes can grow up to be MVPs.

Which is not to doubt the athleticism and inclusiveness of the Black Sox. They, unlike every other nation, take softball seriously. And this country responds in kind, with Sport NZ last year giving Softball NZ $300,000, while High Performance Sport NZ chipped in $250,000.

Those numbers seem pretty high, given what seems a glaring lack of return on investment, but you know what's higher? The US$28 million ($42.3 million) the Astros paid Verlander this season, or the US$151 million contract extension to which they signed Altuve earlier this year.

The reason we should embrace baseball is not for that once-in-a-generation player. It's for the dozens of kids who might have the skills to make the MLB minimum of US$545,000. It's for the scores more who could earn one of the countless scholarships available at US colleges.

Those opportunities do not exist in softball.

Harmonious coexistence is an admirable goal, I guess, but even more admirable would be pushing our most promising kids into the code that offers an education, a job, a future.