With the football season underway and in full swing I thought I’d dedicate a column to why us baseball fans think our sport is better than football. This is in no way meant to bash football or its fans. I love football as much as the next guy. But I want to explain why I believe baseball is a better game.
First is the history of the game. Baseball has been America’s game since the Civil War. It has been around in some form since our nations beginning. George Washington’s soldiers played baseball at Valley Forge. Being a baseball fan is like belonging to a big family. You can research and find interesting stories, and no matter when you look, the game is basically the same. Go back 100 years and football looks like a different game. Do the same with baseball, and it looks about the same.
Second, football can’t match the personalities of baseball. Babe Ruth defined American sports. No sport would be the same without Ruth, including football. We probably wouldn’t have ESPN or the Fox Sports Network. Baseball also had Dizzy Dean, who said there would never be another one like him. Plus, baseball had Steve Carlton, who wore earplugs when he pitched and read Socrates. And baseball had Yogi Berra and Casey Stengal. We all know their sayings, like “baseball is 90 percent mental, the other half is physical” and “everybody line up alphabetically according to your height.” Name another sport with more colorful personalities.
Third, baseball’s venues are like cathedrals. Each is unique and most are beautiful. There aren’t many stadiums that stand out in football. Maybe Notre Dame, but it’s more because of what’s in the background. Also, the stadium can actually affect play in baseball. Aside from weather conditions and turf, football stadiums all pretty much play the same.
Fourth, baseball is an everyday thing. As Earl Weaver said, "this ain’t a football game, we do this everyday." Sure players get knocked around and beat up in football, but they have a week to recover. Also, it is possible to play football effectively with a broken bone or a bum elbow. Baseball is so difficult that even a bruise can mess things up severely. But players must go out and perform everyday. While baseball is not as rough, small injuries mean a lot more and there is hardly any time to recover.
Fifth, baseball takes more brains. Consider this scenario: you are a runner on second base and there’s a base hit to centerfield. You have to decide whether or not to try to score. You have to take into account the centerfielder’s arm, your own speed, who’s on deck and who’s coming up after him, what inning it is, the score, how many outs there are, and who’s pitching for your team. Oh, yeah. You have to decide whether or not to try and score in about two seconds at the most. Besides quarterback, name another position in football that you have to consider that many things in that short a time. And that is just one situation. There are many others similar.
Finally, baseball is more difficult than football. In football you need speed, size, endurance and/or a strong arm. In baseball you have to be able to hit a small ball coming at you at around 90 mph, not straight by the way, with a round bat so that it avoids eight people standing in front of you. Or you have to be able to throw a ball around 90 mph with movement, change speeds, make it twist, make it curve, and hit a small target without throwing it down the middle. Oh, yeah, and there’s defense. Being able to catch a ball coming at over 100 mph and making accurate throws. Don’t get me wrong, football players don’t have it easy at all. I don’t envy any football player. But, if you have the size, speed, quickness and talent, you can usually make it to the highest level, the NFL. As odd as it sounds, some of the most talented baseball players never make it to the majors because there are so many things you have to do well, plus you have to be smart enough to utilize your talent.
I understand that all this doesn’t prove that baseball is more entertaining than football. What’s entertaining to one person may not be entertaining to the next person. But this column was meant to show why baseball fans reserve a special place in their hearts for baseball and not football. I’ll join the football fans in their cheering and rooting after the World Series. Until then, I’m a casual football fan.