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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Is There Any Doubt As To Which Sport Is The National Pastime?

Quick, name the #1 ranked college baseball team. Bet you can't do it without looking here.

How much time do you spend reading about Major League Baseball's draft when compared to the NFL draft or the NBA draft? Yes, I know, the latter two drafts have much more of an immediate impact on their league's teams in the following season than the first league's do, but, still, hardly any attention gets paid to the Major League draft unless a high school or college kid has selected Scott Boras as his advisor, and then, only to gauge how far the kid drops because teams don't want to deal with Boras.

In contrast, during the season, if asked, you could readily name the #1-ranked college football team. You wouldn't have to check on a link, would you?

This point isn't earth-shattering and wasn't meant to be. Yes, Americans have this special thing about Major League Baseball and it's fun to go to minor league games, but there's the "event-like" aspect of football that puts it on another plane. Perhaps it's because there are fewer games, perhaps because it's more made for TV than baseball. Whatever the reason, football has been on top for a while now. Since when is hard to say, but perhaps since 1994, when there was the baseball strike and no World Series. That's a convenient benchmark, but my guess is that it goes back farther than that.

At any rate, in case you didn't click on the link, the Rice Owls are the #1 college baseball team in the land. Yes, that brainy school in Houston reigns supreme, for now, in college baseball. Not USC, not Texas, but Rice.


Blogger JD said...


12:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your anecdotal examples, all of which are true, paint too simple of a picture.

Every year, football burns bright for a staccato burst (8 home games a year for a pro team, 6 or 7 for D-I colleges), while baseball burns steady for ten times as long (82 home games per year for a MLB team). The difference between the two sports means that even with the high level of fanaticism shown by football fans, the total number of fans attending baseball games still exceeds the number of fans attending football games. Thus if you simply measure the passion for the two "pastimes" by a different anecdotal measure (say time spent at the respective events, or percentage of life spent watching the events) baseball comes out on top.

There is room in the American psyche for both football and baseball, as evidenced by the booming popularity of both. It is not an either/or proposition.

P.S. It's not that teams don't want to deal with Scott Boras in the baseball draft; it's that they want to pay below-market prices for their labor and Boras alone doesn't let them do that. Hard to fault either side for their positions on that one.

1:22 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

For much of my developmental years I had to sit and listen to pundits pontificate the greatness of the game of baseball. People, such as Bob Costas and George Will, would talk for days about the beauty of the game and the minor nuances that make the game, the thinking man's game. As I have gotten older there has been a shift to my thought patterns. Football is America's Past Time for the very reason that anonymous has stated. The season for football is short and sweet and leaves you wanting more. Every game matters and there is competitive balance. There is a true salary cap and every team is has a chance to go to the Super Bowl as is evidenced by the number of different teams that have been to it since 1995. In baseball half the teams know that they have no chance of going to the World Series as soon as the first pitch is thrown. Football knows how to handle it's problems as opposed to MLB. The NFL also knows how to market it's product and they are very strict and heavy handed in its control of it's product. MLB is suffering from years of laissez faire standards.

7:31 PM  
Blogger John Salmon said...

Your comments about football and TV are apt-football is a TV show in essence, baseball a sport. With football, everything has been done to create a TV viewing experience that will garner high ratings-so the rules chnage constantly, successful teams are actually given harder schedules for the next year (to enforce {"parity"), and nobody worries about really competing with anyone else because they divide the huge national TV money equally. There is no competition in the NFL, which is why the union's weak-they have no leverage. Temas roll in the dough whether they go 16-0 or 0-16.

Quick-name the winner of the 1955 NFL championship. No one knows. But a hell of a lot of people know the Dodgers finally beat the Yankees in '55. Real sports have histories that go back farther than Joe Namath and the '69 Super Bowl.

BTW, the number of people attending basbeall ganes exceeda all other team sports, not just football as the poster above said. Sure, but there's so many more games. Not than all three other sports combined. NHL and The NBA combined more or less equal MLB. Interesting too that with one-tenth the games the NFL doesn't get ten times the ratings, or attendance. Not close.

And the intensity, or intelligence, of NFL fans is lacking. Even in North Carolina, where I live, which is definitely not Baseball Central, any bookstore has many more baseball books than football books.

1:22 AM  

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