As long as I'm beginning the awkward transition phase between the two sports right now, I thought I'd update part of a post from deep in the archives, and maybe spark a little conversation...
Top 10 Reasons \Baseball is Better Than Football
10. Written commentary. Baseball has whole legions of geeks hunched over computer keyboards year-round, coming up with truly astonishing mathematical formulas to both document and predict the probabilities, idiosyncrasies and mysteries of baseball; vibrant online communities; and there are many orders of magnitude more books, websites, blogs, news articles, columns, etc. available to feed your obsession during (and before, and after) baseball season. The lion's share of great literary authors' poetic paeans to sports are written about baseball.
Football has a few fantasy magazines, Sports Illustrated, a few smart websites, and, with a few notable exceptions, a forgettable catalog of horribly written souvenir or ghostwritten biographical books.
So, unsurprisingly, there's also a superior yet accessible kind of language surrounding baseball. Bloop hit. Can of corn. Tater. Heater. Dinger. Deuce. Grand slam. Switch-hit. Batsman. Hurler. Crossed him up. Took him deep. A little bleeder of a single down the left field line. Flashed some leather. Basket catch. Backstop. Baseman. Double steal. Hit and run. Pick-off throw. Deep drive to left. Frozen rope..
Football has its own vocabulary, but it's not nearly as poetic. Much of it consists of codewords unintelligible to the average fan.
9. Dignity. Baseball lends itself to poetry and existential meditation. Football lends itself to beer commercials featuring busty blond twins and disastrous halftime shows.
8. Ancient and mythical rivalries. I'll never forget when Kevin Millar related during an interview that the ground at Yankee stadium literally shook during Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS. Sorry, but the Pats-Panthers Super Bowl didn't quite get me to the same place, you know? [Here's where some may bring up the college game, but I'm primarily thinking of the pros when I say "football" and "baseball".]
7. Schedule. 162 games. Compared to just 16, it's an all-you-can-eat buffet. Football games are special weekend events, while baseball games sink and blend into the routines of daily life in intriguing ways. By the end of the season, several rounds of five- and seven-game playoff series to decide baseball's championship really separate the men from the boys.
6. Personality. You get to know pro football players first by number; their faces are obscured behind facemasks, the true shape of their bodies beneath mountains of pads. Eventually a few personalities may stand out, but generally they are interchangeable. They are pushed and pulled on and off the field from play to play, because a football team is basically a gigantic machine made of gigantic humans plowing its way up and down a patch of grass.
Baseball is more of a collection of individuals dancing past one another. Strict rules govern substitution, and every play begins with a one-on-one face off between batter and pitcher. You just can't help but get to know baseball players in a more personal and individual way, even if you follow both sports with a passion.
5. Pace. Baseball has no time clock, in many ways. Football players have fundamentally evolved, in a matter of a few decades, from leather-capped doughboys to enormous yet speedy, hyper-conditioned android-looking biomechanical mutants, and NFL playbooks grow more complex by the year. The pace and size of the game have fundamentally increased. By contrast, most of the great baseball players of the 20th century would have much less trouble joining a game today.
4. Heart. No one's going to make a movie about the Cincinatti Bengals called Still, We Believe. Nobody talks about "the Church of Football" and means it. And there is no pain like baseball pain, because it unfolds so slowly, because it can raise your hopes over the course of multiple days, and then drop them like a bad habit, in the blink of an eye.
3. History. Professional baseball as we know it goes back to the post-Civil War period. Professional football just barely squeaked into the national consciousness before the British Invasion...of the 1960's.
2. Global reach Professional baseball originated in the US, but it has also become popular in much of Latin America and parts of Asia, especially Japan. Meanwhile, what we call "football" is what the rest of the world calls "American football" and what we call "soccer" is what the rest of the world calls "football." If anything, football has become the ultimate expression of either American exceptionalism or American excess, depending on your point of view.
1. The bottom line: as Earl Weaver put it, "You've got to throw the ball over the goddamn plate and give the other man his chance. That's why baseball is the greatest game of them all."
Top 10 Reasons Football is Better Than Baseball
10. NFL Films. If baseball is the writerly sport, football is a sport that was made for television and film. NFL Films has made American professional football among the most-filmed human endeavors in history, and there's nothing like one of those classic slow-mo clips with the 70's background music and the basso profundo narrator slowly meting out platitudes. Baseball simply does not have an equivalent.
9. Virility. Football is about conquering territory. Football is about enormous male ideals in tight uniforms flexing their muscles on screen. Football is about bone-crunchin', hit-takin', back-breakin' testosterone-drenched violence that strikes our deepest reptilian nerves. Baseball, by comparison, is mostly about baggy-assed uniforms, spitting, fidgeting and futility.
8. Efficiency--not simplicity. Twisting and turning stats around may make your head spin, but listen to Bill Belichick talk serious football for fifteen minutes and it'll both scramble your brains and make crunching data 50 different ways look like a bunch of useless navel-gazing.With football, to quote the man, It Is What It Is -- and yet so much more goes into it than the average fan understands.
7. Consistency. Football teams play every Sunday, maybe once or twice on Monday (or more recently, Thursday) night. It's relatively easy to clear your schedule for that if need be. With baseball, though, you just know you're going to tune in the day your team takes a waste-of-time thrashing from a shitty team, but you'll be stuck, you know, having a life when they win that epic in extra innings on a walk-off home run. Also, every time you go to see the Patriots, barring catastrophic injury, Tom Brady will line up under center and take a snap on every down. When you buy Red Sox tickets, you might be treated to a performance by the team ace -- or you might get stuck with a blowout at the hands of some schlub on the mound.
6. Humility. For all the macho posturing of their sport, football players take themselves as individuals much, MUCH less seriously than baseball players do. Football lineups function best as a cohesive, machine-like unit, where all parts must cooperate and compromise to move the team as a whole down the field, and there is no time for nonsense. Baseball players have lots of time out in the middle of an expanse of manicured grass to count their money alone, or time out on the basepaths to stand around chatting about local restaurants or trade information about the local crop of groupies or whatever the hell it is insanely rich professional athletes talk about in such moments.
Thanks to the hierarchical nature of football, where an enormous amount of power resides with the head coach, it's relatively commonplace for football coaches to throw their team or individual players under the bus publicly, and it can in some instances even be considered a good motivational and / or disciplinary technique. Baseball managers at press conferences mainly seem to be trying not to crush the grossly overpaid, grossly overinflated, yet delicate egos they've got to face when they go back into the clubhouse.
And so, where football has Super Bowl teams being introduced as such, en masse, baseball has...Alex Rodriguez. That about sums it up.
5. Equality. Football may have a difficult track record of its own to deal with when it comes to race relations, but there was never, to my knowledge, an entire separate league for black professional football players. The NFL is also one of the only activities routinely shared and enjoyed by people of all major demographics in this country anymore.
4. Intensity. Football players go through roughly a car accident's worth of impact and / or injuries every game. If you don't play hurt in the NFL, you don't play at all. Tom Brady won a Super Bowl with a second-degree separation of the shoulder. Players have played and won Super Bowls with broken bones, like Rodney Harrison--he used his compound-fractured right arm to shove an opposing player out of bounds on a crucial down during Super Bowl XXXVIII, causing an injury so complex and horrifying that he needed surgery to repair the mangled limb and couldn't attend the victory parade afterwards. Drew Bledsoe suffered a sheared aorta on a crippling hit from Mo Lewis of the Jets back in 2001 and managed to make it as far as the locker room and showers before he showed signs of needing urgent medical attention.
Football is also played in wind, snow, rain, sleet, hail, plagues of frogs, you name it, anything besides lightning, a volcanic eruption or an earthquake. No rain delays for a sprinkle, no grounds crews mincing about with rakes. Baseball games are sometimes called off due to impending, possible rain, and baseball players are routinely sidelined due to things like pulled muscles and blisters on their fingers.
3. National Popularity. Baseball may have history, but most of MLB has been forced to realize that they may be going the way of the Brontosaurus in many places. Chicago, LA, Boston and New York may still pack in to see baseball games, but there's nothing sadder than watching athletes with a combined income greater than the GDP of some small countries going through the motions in a mostly-empty stadium.
2. Parity. On any given Sunday, as they say, any team can win, whether it's a Sunday in September or Super Bowl Sunday. There will never be a George Steinbrenner in the NFL. There will also never be a team that goes without a championship for a hundred years. And that's the way it should be.
1. The bottom line: Win or go home.