The On Deck Circle

Baseball History, Commentary and Analysis

Ten Reasons Why Baseball is Better Than Football

I have to face the fact that football seems to have brazenly overtaken baseball as the de facto national pastime.  Even in its off-season, football news and gossip (usually the same thing), often intrudes itself into our lives with depressing regularity.  The bi-weekly drug arrests, revolving quarterback soap operas, and mind-numbing stories about which draft picks will break camp hold about as much interest for me as my aunt’s wilted cole slaw on Easter Sunday.

Still, I won’t go down without a fight.

So, for the record, here are ten reasons why baseball is better than football.

1)  Baseball is not constantly interrupted by little men throwing their dainty little yellow flags all over the field every time they have a conniption fit because they saw something that offended their hair-trigger sensibilities.

2)  Baseball players do not wear helmets that make them look like anonymous Terminators bent on the destruction of the universe.  They look like actual, you know, people.

3)  When a baseball player hits a home run, peer pressure causes him (generally) to put his head down while circling the bases, cross home plate, and quietly receive the accolades of his teammates.  When a football player scores a touchdown, he (generally) responds with an epileptic seizure in the end zone.  It’s not something I enjoy watching, and it makes me wonder why they don’t regulate their medication more effectively.

4)  Baseball fans embrace their sports history and mythology in a way that football fans are incapable of understanding.  Baseball’s lineage is practically Biblical.  To the average football fan, football history goes back to last weekend.

5)  A father playing catch with his son is an emotional bonding experience, passed down through the generations, an unspoken acknowledgement of love, mortality and hope.  A father throwing a football at his son is just a guy suffering from low self-esteem who needs to occasionally pretend that he is an N.F.L. quarterback so he can justify the ongoing emasculation he suffers every Monday morning at work.

6)  Baseball has induced tremendous social change in America.  Jackie Robinson is one of the most famous Americans who ever lived.  His personal bravery and talent greatly improved our civil society by challenging us to re-examine our personal values regarding fairness, race, and what it means to be an American.

Football teaches us that there is nothing bigger in life than immediate success and personal gratification.  Winners are loved, losers are vilified, and none of it means anything three days later.

7)  Baseball gave us Tommy John surgery so that young men with injured arms could rejuvenate their careers.  Football has given us Post-Concussion Syndrome in numbers so large that it is now becoming a virtual epidemic.

8)  A baseball diamond is a pastoral throwback to a time when most of America lived on or near farms and in the countryside, and understood man’s proper relationship to his world.  The football grid-iron, by contrast, resembles the endless modern suburban sprawl that disconnects us from our natural environment as well as from ourselves.

9)  Baseball has “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” a fun, carnival-like song that kids and grownups alike can relate to.  Football has “Are You Ready for Some Football?” an unimaginative, annoying pseudo-country song written by a man who has forever been trying to simultaneously emerge from and cloak himself with the shadow of his much more talented father.

10)  Every baseball at bat boils down to one man facing another, and may the best man win.  It is Achilles vs. Hector, Burr vs. Hamilton, Doc Holliday vs. Johnny Ringo.  An N.F.L. quarterback, by contrast, has no correspondingly singular opponent.  The protagonist has no antagonist.  He wields his sword dubiously against the faceless masses before him, a Roman Legionnaire lost amidst the swirl of the barbarian horde.

And that’s why baseball is better than football.

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61 thoughts on “Ten Reasons Why Baseball is Better Than Football

  1. Pingback: Home | Revelling In the Overflowing Grace of God

  2. On #3, I’d add that fairly frequently NFL players watch themselves on the big screen as they’re scoring a long touchdown, and this is not even possible in MLB. The NFL abounds in narcissism, which is odd since teammates are so much more dependent on each other than in MLB.

    • That’s a great point, Arne. Hadn’t thought of that.
      Thanks for checking in.
      Bill

    • glenrussellslater on said:

      Aw, come on! Major league baseball players nowadays are every bit as narcissistic as NFL players. I happen to like baseball better, but let’s be honest. Pro athletes are narcissistic, period. It’s not a put-down. It’s just a fact.

      Glen

      • I guess we shouldn’t generalize too much either way. It all comes down to the individual player. Some are simply worse than others in each sport. But there are some great guys out there as well.
        Thanks, man
        Bill

  3. I’m gonna post this on the afro facebook page.

  4. I’m with you too Bill. Thanks for sharing this great post!

  5. I like your george carlin classic insult to baseball turned upside the head. i’d like to see carlin wait for a jr richard high hard one wherever george may be. Glad you reposted this. I missed it the first time around. Everyone is saying Broncos. I don’t know enough to say so why not another listen to G Carlin.

    • Thanks for reminding of this old George Carlin bit. It’s a true comedy classic.
      Cheers, Bill

      • glenrussellslater on said:

        Yeah, I remember when Carlin did that one. I saw him do it in the late 70s on TV. That was hilarious, and I was thinking about that bit by Carlin while I was reading your thing.

        Comments—-

        “A father playing catch with his son is an emotional bonding experience, passed down through the generations, an unspoken acknowledgement of love, mortality and hope. A father throwing a football at his son is just a guy suffering from low self-esteem who needs to occasionally pretend that he is an N.F.L. quarterback so he can justify the ongoing emasculation he suffers every Monday morning at work.”

        After reading this part again, I can see that it’s quite witty and funny! But not true, at least in my father and my case. Whether it was throwing the baseball around in the backyard (as I wrote about in my post of November 23rd, 2013), or throwing a football, or throwing garbage can lids (no, we didn’t really do that), the specialness of it is still there. You’re still throwing with your Dad. I used to throw the football in the backyard with my father, but not very often. Mostly, it was the baseball.

        “Baseball has “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” a fun, carnival-like song that kids and grownups alike can relate to. Football has “Are You Ready for Some Football?” an unimaginative, annoying pseudo-country song written by a man who has forever been trying to simultaneously emerge from and cloak himself with the shadow of his much more talented father.”

        Boy, did YOU hit Hank Williams, Jr. to a tee! You know more about country music than you give yourself credit for! Hank Junior is primarily a hack (although I liked some of his stuff from the late 70s to the very early 80s). There will never be another Hank Williams, much less his full-of-himself, self-parodying, embarrassing son (Hank died when Junior was about three years old.) If Hank was alive, he’d whoop Junior’s ass.

        The song “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” makes me crack up, because it reminds me of what former Phillies pitcher Larry Andersen said, “Why do they sing take me out to the ballgame if they’re already there?” It’s one of many hilarious quotes by the Andersen. (Not to be confused with the OTHER pitcher, Larry Anderson, who spells his last name differently).

        “When a baseball player hits a home run, peer pressure causes him (generally) to put his head down while circling the bases, cross home plate, and quietly receive the accolades of his teammates. When a football player scores a touchdown, he (generally) responds with an epileptic seizure in the end zone. It’s not something I enjoy watching, and it makes me wonder why they don’t regulate their medication more effectively.”

        Well, I think that this USED to be the case, but not so much, anymore. Look at the idiotic displays at home plate every time some clown hits some non-consequential home run. Pumping their fists as they go around the base paths. Compare that to, say, the early 70s, when guys who hit a home run were very modest. I think this all began with “curtain calls” after a home run. Actually, I think that “curtain calls” are kind of fun, in the right situation. I could be mistaken, but I think the first “curtain call” (at least the first one I remember seeing) was in Detroit, when Mark “The Bird” Fidrych pitched a great game, beating the Yankees on national TV. Boy, was THAT a great game!

        “A baseball diamond is a pastoral throwback to a time when most of America lived on or near farms and in the countryside, and understood man’s proper relationship to his world. The football grid-iron, by contrast, resembles the endless modern suburban sprawl that disconnects us from our natural environment as well as from ourselves.”

        What you said about the “suburban sprawl” is very astute! Great analogy! My thoughts immediately went to Erie Boulevard East in Syracuse, which, to me, is the best example of “suburban sprawl” gone crazy, but this could apply to so many other places as well, sadly.

        “Football teaches us that there is nothing bigger in life than immediate success and personal gratification. Winners are loved, losers are vilified, and none of it means anything three days later.”

        Sadly, the kids today (not all, but a lot of them) EXPECT their team to win and have a feeling of entitlement. For example, I see a BIG difference between the Mets fan of the early 70s and today’s spoiled Mets fan. I’ve noticed it ever since the ’86 season, when the Mets won it wall-to-wall, in first place from first game to last. A lot of this has to do, I suppose, with the fact that a lot of the unspoiled (Wait Til’ Next Year) Brooklyn Dodgers fans who made up the original Mets fan base are dying out.

        Also, younger people have such feelings of instant gratification. They don’t pay their dues as much as the older generation or work as hard. Get in an argument with the wife? Simple. Get divorced, instead of working it out. It’s kind of like that kind of thinking.

        But this is an exceptional article in my opinion, and a lot of the things you say certainly ring true to me, Bill.

        Nice job!

        Glen

      • Hi Glen, Truth be told, I’ve never once played catch (either football or baseball) with my dad in my entire life. But I do like to play catch with my younger son. Actually, no matter what I do with my boys, we have fun. Baseball is just one of several things we do together.
        I, too, remember that nationally televised Mark Fidrych game. It did a lot for baseball, and he was a lot of fun to watch. Too bad his career ended so soon. Thing about a player hitting a homerun, though, is if he too obviously celebrates, the pitcher is still likely to knock him down on the next pitch. But in football, those exhibits appear to be generally accepted even by the opposition.
        I’m not sure I’d go as far as saying that today’s Mets fans are spoiled. This year will mark 14 years since the Mets have even been in a World Series, which will tie the previous longest stretch of years (1986-2000) in team history. At least back in, say, 1975, the Mets had won two pennants in the previous six years, and we had a great pitching staff, leading us to (mostly) over .500 records almost every season from ’69-’76. And in the ’60’s, the Mets were a lovable expansion team that was supposed to lose. That was most of the charm. Now, we simply have an often boring team that plays in the largest market in the world, but is run like a small-market team. I was stunned to read just yesterday that of 30 teams, only two, the Mets and the Astros, have not had a winning season over the past five years. Even the Cubs, Padres, Indians, Marlins, White Sox, Rockies, etc. managed to at least have one winning season over the last five. I would say that, if anything, current Mets fans have been too patient, and have waited too long, for the current owners to turn this franchise around. The only worse, more depressing period in Mets history that I can think of was from ’77-’83. Two more losing seasons, and we’re right there again.
        Thanks for all the kind words, and for the comment! Much appreciated,
        Bill

  6. Hats off, Bill (that’s a baseball hat, not a football hat) for posting this fine piece on the eve of the Super Bowl. And as I think about it, there’s no reason to have to explicate and enumerate reasons why baseball is better than football. OK, let them watch their Superbowl. Baseball is the best! It’s a no-brainer, a forget-about-it proposition. And while we’re at it, Hail, Hail Rock n’ Roll!

  7. Reblogged this on The On Deck Circle and commented:

    I published this going on two years ago, but seeing that the Super Bowl is tomorrow, I thought I would put this out there one more time.

  8. Reblogged this on Homie Williams. and commented:
    AGREED. — J.W.

  9. Javier Suazo on said:

    FOOTBALL IS AMERICAS SPORT I ENJOY BASEBALL BUT IT WILL ALWAYS BE BEHIND FOOTBALL AND BASKETBALL

    • Javier, I believe it has come to that. Too bad. America was a better country when baseball was #1.
      Thanks for reading,
      Bill

    • David Meyers on said:

      NO NEED TO YELL, JAVIER! We can hear you just fine.

      Baseball and football are just different. I must admit that if I was allowed to *watch* only one sport, it would be football. They have to do something about the brutality of the game though. But baseball was my first love and I still like to watch it. I guess you could say I like to “follow” baseball but prefer to “watch” football.

      Being in a baseball park is always a fun experience and the parks (and games) are all different. In most places, though not so much in Boston, near which I live, baseball is relatively affordable, too.

      Football is much better watched on TV. You’re warm. You can pause the game whenever you like. Watching a game being played in bad weather conditions makes it interesting, but you don’t have to endure the conditions yourself! I can’t imagine going to a game at Gillette stadium after October. Baseball is better watched in person where you can decide what to focus on instead of having the director decide for you.

      Another plus for baseball is that when playoff time comes around, you have to win a series to advance. (Well, except for the upcoming wild-card, play-in game, that is.) It’s hard to succeed by being lucky. Football games are too often decided by one lucky play (or call). Again being from the Boston area, I’ve seen both sides of that particular coin. On the one hand, we have the “tuck rule” in the Raiders game in the snow in the 2001 playoffs that led to the Patriots first SB win. On the other, we have the Tyree catch in the Super Bowl after the 2007 season with one hand and a helmut, after Manning’s escape from several near tackles, which in seasons past would have resulted in “in the grasp” calls leading to a 4th and 8 to keep the drive alive. Not to mention that on the preceding play Asante Samuel dropped an interception that would have ended the game. So, yeah, you could say the Giants got lucky.

      Basketball – especially pro basketball – is a joke. I can hardly stand to watch it any more. Palming the ball on nearly every possession. Three- and even four-step dunks. For that matter, dunks themselves. Block-vs.-charge calls. The ugliest play in sports is the attempt to draw a charge call by jumping in the way of a drive to the hoop with hands by your sides and falling over backwards at the first sign of contact. (Well, maybe soccer flops are worse.) An eternity to play the last few minutes of a close game. Intentional fouls to keep the clock from moving. Yuck.

      • Hi David, Sorry it has taken me so long to respond to this. I have to agree with most of what you say here, though I hardly ever actually watch football at all anymore. To me, it was a far more exciting, organic game 30-40 years ago. Now, there are constant flags, every 3rd play is brought back, more commercials than ever….They say baseball is a slow game, but the average football game is now over well over 3 hours long (for a 60-minute game.) I’m from southern New England originally, so I lived between Giants and Pats territory, though at the time, both of them mostly sucked.
        Thanks for reading, and I appreciate the comment.
        Cheers,
        Bill

  10. Matt Woodruff on said:

    I have always been a die hard Cardinal fan! My dad, both my grandfathers, and even my mom live for the Redbirds! I was at The 2011 World Series Game 6 with my mom! When the Rams came to STL, I didn’t care one bit!!! My 3 yr old some likes baseball, but he loves STL Blues Hockey!! I’m still proud because he doesn’t have any interest in football! His favorite athletes are TJ Oshie and David Freese!

  11. I think #3 is my favorite. If I could add one, mine would be because baseball allows me root for my beloved Yankees and football forces me to root for my pathetic Jets… :)

  12. Reblogged this on Bored American Tribune. and commented:
    Word. — J.W.

  13. Couldn’t agree more, Bill, with the exception of #5. I hope my son (or my daughter) would rather play catch with a baseball (he’s starting to try at 21 months), but if he wants to toss the pigskin, I’m nearly as happy. Last weekend, I tried to watch the ALDS games at a bar in Portland. Despite the A’s and Tigers being tied in the 9th, I was told that the manager wouldn’t let my waitress turn any of the 30+ TVs off of football until the 1:00 games were over. Heresy.

    One thing you missed is the absurdity of “moving the chains”. I wrote about it in a similar piece here: http://replacementlevel.wordpress.com/2011/07/04/why-baseball-is-the-best-sport/

    • William Miller on said:

      Hi Bryan, I guess I have a personal bias against a father and son tossing a football back and forth because the one time I did this with my dad, he clocked me in the face and I ended up with a bloody nose. I know the same thing could theoretically happen with a baseball, but hey, it hasn’t yet happened in my family.
      Thanks, man,
      Bill

  14. Agree with all the above. Glad to find a blog that addresses the important things life.

  15. This is awesome, and since it was written BEFORE I started following your blog, I might have missed it if not for the WP suggestions.

    These are great and well-thought out. My favorites are 3&4, but I think in just a couple years it might be 5 (right now my oldest boys are just learning to play catch with rubber balls).

    #6 is true in so many ways. Jackie Robinson is a great example. Truly a historic moment not just for people of one color or the other,not simply for Americans, or even fans of sport, but for the world. It also speaks to the beatific nature and service as an all-around force for good of the Dodger organization.

    • Sounds like I owe one to WP suggestions. #5 will become mine, too, when I can get my nine-year old to put down the Nintendo DS.
      Glad you liked this post. I appreciate the comment.
      Bill

  16. Well stated, lad. Never slept better in my life after playing ball with Michael B for eight hours. Baseball is still America’s pasttime.

  17. As Earl Weaver once said, “You can’t sit on a lead and run a few plays into the line and just kill the clock. 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.”

  18. Can you imagine if the Bills’ Stevie Johnson played in the bigs and he went yard on Bob Gibson and pulled some of his nonsense on the bases?

  19. Can you imagine if Bob Gibson was a safety, and he was in the neighborhood when Buffalo’s Stevie Johnson lets go with some of his nonsense. It would not be pretty.

  20. Off topic, but CONGRATULATIONS, Bill. Your Mets are in first place. Enjoy it while you can.:-)
    v

  21. Great post Bill, but it should be called “Ten of the Thousands of Reasons Why Baseball is Better Than Football.” ;)

    • Hey Dan, I certainly can’t disagree with you on that one. I haven’t heard yet from a big-time football fan. Maybe they just don’t read this sissy baseball stuff. :)
      Bill

  22. Music to my ears, friend. I agree with every syllable. In addition to Vin Scully at #11, I’d like to suggest a great game on a warm summer night as #12. Thank you, Bill.

  23. Practically Biblical? Don’t you know baseball is in the very first act of creation? “In the big inning, God created…” (Genesis 1:1)
    Great job as usual.
    v

  24. Kevin Graham on said:

    I don’t know Bill I rather fancy myself as “a Roman Legionnaire lost amidst the swirl of the barbarian horde.”
    Kevicus Grahamicus….

  25. 11. Vin Scully.

  26. Pingback: Time begins again (again)

  27. Reblogged this on The Ball Caps Blog and commented:
    My friend Bill over at the On Deck Circle has a fine post comparing baseball and football. One guess as to which sport he prefers.

  28. I could NOT agree more!!!!! Great post, and I’ll be showing this off to all of my ‘football’ fan friends!!!
    –Mike

    http://burrilltalksbaseball.mlblogs.com

    • Hey, Thanks so much for reading, and for leaving the comment. Glad you liked the post. I’m just tired of football fans and the football-saturated media hogging all the glory and the attention for themselves.
      Bill

  29. DAMN SKIPPY, DUDE!
    I Am SOOOOOO With Ya!!!
    -BRAD

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