Saturday, February 04, 2006
Are we there yet?
Let's assume tomorrow's Super Bowl is actually a close contest. Based on previous history, that's a pretty big assumption. Let's assume the halftime show will be riveting. Based on previous history, and the age of the Rolling Stones, that's just plain ludicrous. Let's assume the commercials will be entertaining. Actually, if you're entertained by advertisements, you're a loser, so enough with the assumptions.
For two weeks we've been hit over the head with this Super Bowl crap, and, per usual, the hype has drowned out any interest I might have had in "the big game." Not that I had much to begin with. Pro football's popularity remains a puzzle to me, particularly when compared with other sports. Those who point to the action and pace are kidding themselves ... it takes 20 effing minutes just to play two downs. Waiting for the verdict from the instant replay booth is about as riveting as observing a county commission meeting. Trust me, I know.
The only sport I still care about is baseball, which most everyone else seems to think is dreadfully boring. Typically those people don't appreciate nuance and developing drama, which is something baseball has in spades over its more popular counterpart. Baseball is conversational; football hits you over the head. That's what Americans seems to prefer these days, but not me.
Pulitzer Prize winner Thomas Boswell compiled his own list of reasons why baseball trumps football. Here's some of my favorites:
Halftime with bands;
Cheerleaders at halftime with bands;
Everything George Carlin said in his famous monologue is right on. In football you blitz, bomb, spear, shiver, march and score. In baseball, you wait for a walk, take your stretch, toe the rubber, tap your spikes, play ball and run home;
Baseball has no penalties at all. A home run is a home run. You cheer. In football, on a score, you look for flags. If there's one, who's it on? When can we cheer? Football acts can all be repealed. Baseball acts stand forever;
Instant replays. Just when we thought there couldn't be anything worse than penalties, we get instant replays of penalties. Talk about a bad joke. Now any play, even one with no flags, can be called back. Even a flag itself can, after five minutes of boring delay, be nullified. NFL time has entered the Twilight Zone. Nothing is real; everything is hypothetical;
Football fans tailgate before the big game. No baseball fan would have a picnic in a parking lot;
The baseball Hall of Fame is in Cooperstown, N.Y., beside James Fenimore Cooper's Lake Glimmerglass; the football Hall of Fame is in Canton, Ohio, beside the freeway;
Baseball means Spring's Here. Football means Winter's Coming;
Without baseball, there'd have been no Fenway Park. Without football, there'd have been no artificial turf;
Nothing in baseball is as boring as the four hours of ABC's "Monday Night Football";
The best ever in each sport - Babe Ruth and Jim Brown — each represents egocentric excess. But Ruth never threw a woman out a window;
Football coaches walk across the field after the game and pretend to congratulate the opposing coach. Baseball managers head right for the beer;
Football is played best full of adrenaline and anger. Moderation seldom finds a place. Almost every act of baseball is a blending of effort and control; too much of either is fatal.
Enjoy the game. I doubt you will.