Thirty reasons why baseball is way better than football
By RICHARD JUSTICE
Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle
Baseball is not just better than football. It's way better. It's the only sport that captivates us every day of the year.
From the optimism of spring training to the ebb and flow of a regular season to the electricity of the playoffs, baseball draws us in, gets into our heads and compels us to keep coming back for more.
Even the hot stove league interests us. If we had a dominant starter. If they'll give that kid from Class AA a chance. If the stingy owner would just spend a little more.
On and on. Endless possibilities.
Some of you won't agree with this assessment that baseball is better than football. My friend, you've watched too much football.
Take a break and remember how you felt when Jeff Kent's homer soared out of the park in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series.
Has football ever given you a thrill like that? No, it hasn't.
As you savor that memory, I'm here with 30 others that'll get your head right for the start of spring training:
1. Parity — Baseball has it. Football doesn't. Baseball has had five champions the last five years. The New England Patriots have won something like 20 straight Super Bowls.
No cheerleaders allowed
2. Cheerleaders — Football has them. Baseball doesn't. Never has. Never will. Baseball doesn't need sex to sell its game.
3. Major League Players Association — Unlike football, baseball has a union that's strong and vibrant and watches out for the best interests of its players. There'll never be a salary cap in baseball.
4. Fenway Park — There's a magic there unlike any other place in sports. There's a stateliness that transcends even the special things that have happened there.
5. The Rocket — Every time he walks to the mound, it's an event. At 42, Roger Clemens has 328 victories, 4,317 strikeouts and seven Cy Young Awards. There has never been one like him.
6. Cooperstown, N.Y. — Baseball's Hall of Fame is so splendidly done, it would be special anyplace they put it. But having it in this lovely village enhances what's special. Football can't even come up with a legitimate selection process.
7. Instant replay — Let's stop a perfectly good game for 15 minutes while a guy looks at a television screen to find out what happened. Baseball understands the human element is part of the game.
8. Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell — They're beginning their 15th season together. They define professional and performance.
9. Quarterback ratings — Leave it to football to make one of its most important statistics one that almost no one understands.
10. All-Star Game — It's one of the showcase events in sports. It even counts for something. Does football still play the Pro Bowl?
11. Slogans — Football coaches paste them all over their locker rooms as if players have to be constantly reminded that playing hard and being unselfish is important. Most baseball players get it.
12. SBC Park — Stand on the walkway behind the right-field wall and take in the bay, emerald green field, San Francisco skyline and smell of garlic fries. There might not be a better place on earth.
Box scores rule
13. Box scores — One of the most important inventions of the last 100 or so years.
14. Overtime games — You mean a coin flip could decide it?
15. Bud Selig — He's the guy in your neighborhood who almost everyone likes. He's revered by players and owners alike for his integrity and toughness. His legacy will include labor peace, wild-card berths, interleague play and record-setting attendance. He'll be the commissioner all future ones will be measured against.
16. Paul Tagliabue — If we admired smugness, we'd make him king of the world.
17. Janet Jackson — You don't have to ask, do you?
18. Dodger Dogs — Research shows they're as close to the perfect food as now exists. And the setting at Dodger Stadium ain't too bad, either.
19. Quarterback school — Is it where you go to finish your degree? Why does the NFL have so many of them? There must be some really dumb quarterbacks.
20. 56 — Every baseball fan knows Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak is the single most unbreakable record in sports. Or maybe it's Ted Williams' .406 batting average in 1941. Or Nolan Ryan's 5,714 career strikeouts. Baseball's numbers are more than just numbers. They shake memories, provide reference points and are unlike those in any other sport.
21. Ticket prices — Take out a second mortgage if you want to see your favorite NFL team. Better yet, come to the ballpark, where there are still good seats for under $20.
22. Milo Hamilton — He's not the radio voice of the Astros as much as he's the background music of our summers. It's the same with Vin Scully in Los Angeles, Marty Brennaman in Cincinnati, Eric Nadel in Texas, Jon Miller in San Francisco and others. They're constant reminders why we love it.
23. Autographs — Baseball players sign 'em almost every day. Football players don't get close enough to the fans.
24. Bull Durham/Field of Dreams — Baseball has inspired wonderful movies. Football has North Dallas Forty.
25. Ballpark nachos — They remain Arlington Stadium's lasting contribution to the game. They have all the basic food groups. Napkins required.
Don't need T.O.
26. Terrell Owens — Baseball would consider him a bore. Football sees him as a cult hero.
27. Billy Wagner — He's 5-9 and throws 100 mph. Next.
28. September — There's nothing like the grinding, relentless pressure of a pennant race. The season rides on almost every pitch. The players are physically spent and mentally exhausted, and yet, they remember forever how great it was.
29. Coaches who sleep in their offices — Does it really help? What exactly are you trying to prove? Baseball managers go to dinner, not to the office, after games.
30. The World Series — Nine days. Seven games. Curt Schilling's stitched ankle. Priceless.