Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Friday, October 12, 2007

Ten Good Reasons "Y" Not

by Kerry Blair

Julie Bellon used to be my hero. I still envy her incredible talent, admire her class, and appreciate the fact that she is one of the nicest people on the planet, but when she proposed a “Lovin’ the Pigskin Day” yesterday . . . well . . . her pedestal cracked. About the time she waxed poetic about a quarterback it crumbled.

Don’t get me wrong. I think football’s a great game – compared with, say, bullfighting, seal-clubbing, and that “sport” played by gladiators in ancient Rome. But as author John Fowles observed: “The various forms of football in the world don’t begin to compare with the two great Ango-Saxon ball games for sophisticated elegance and symbolism. Baseball and cricket are beautiful and highly stylized, chess made with flesh, a mixture of proud chivalry and base greed. With football we are back to the monotonous clashing armor of the brontosaurus.”

In case anybody wonders why baseball is so much better than football, let me count the ways:

1) In baseball you have more to be fanatic about. Watching 162 games a year is 10.125 times better than watching sixteen. If you miss your favorite football team, you have to wait a week for another game. In baseball you only have to wait a day.

2) You know when to cheer. A home run is a home run. In football you think you’re watching an amazing play then refs start throwing flags around and everything starts over. Don’t even get me started on the instant replays. A baseball ump’s call – right, wrong or ridiculous – stands forever. Maybe longer. (Arizona saw this sad fact illustrated on second base just last night.)

3) Baseball has double headers. A football player saying, “It’s such a nice day, let’s play two!” (Ernie Banks) will never happen.

4) There’s more to get excited about. An average baseball game has about 250 pitches, nine runs, and at least 80 completed plays (hits, walks, outs) in 2 ½ to 3 hours. An average football game lasts approximately six days yet has an average of only five touchdowns, a couple of field goals, and maybe twenty-five gains or losses of more than ten yards. (Thomas Boswell) The rest of the time you sit with your eyes on the scoreboard, amazed at the fact that any clock outside the Twilight Zone could possibly move so slow.

5) Baseball heralds spring while football ushers in winter. Which is more appealing: Sunning on the bleachers in a short-sleeved shirt and a thin layer of sunscreen or huddled on an icy bench under six layers of clothing and two lap blankets?

6) Baseball’s terminology is nicer. In football they blitz, bomb, spear, shiver, march, and score. In baseball they wait for a walk, take a stretch, toe the rubber, play ball, and run home. (George Carlin)

7) Baseball gives more chances to players and fans alike. “In baseball 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 *%@# plate and give the other man his chance.” (Earl Weaver) From the fan’s perspective, nine innings of baseball mean nine chances at a stall in the restroom. Two halves in a football game means you’d better not drink anything before, during, or immediately after.

8) Baseball is tradition at its finest. Let’s face it, the game hasn’t changed much since Walt Whitman wrote, “I see great things in baseball. It’s the American game” or Robert Frost penned, “Poets are like baseball pitchers. Both have their moments. The intervals are the tough things.” In baseball a scruffy bullpen coach blows bubble gum with his cap turned backward while leaning against the outfield fence watching the game. In football a defensive coordinator in a satin jacket with a headset and a clipboard paces the sidelines while gazing up at glass stadium boxes and jabbering into a microphone. Maybe that’s why the baseball Hall of Fame is in Cooperstown, beside James Fenimore Cooper’s Lake Glimmerglass while the football Hall of Fame is in Canton, Ohio, beside the freeway.

9) Baseball has better philosophy. Or at least better philosophers. Vince Lombardi said: “Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.” Tommy Lasorda said: “No matter how good you are you’re going to lose one-third of your games. No matter how bad you are you’re going to win one-third of your games. It’s the other third that makes the difference.” Frankly, football has no sense of humor, whereas baseball is self-deprecating and often funny. Casey Stengal to his barber: “Don’t cut my throat. I may want to do that myself later.” Harry Carrey to Chicago fans: “What do grizzlies on birth control and the World Series have in common? No Cubs.”

10) “Who’s on First?” (Scroll down and click on the radio.)

I enthusiastically concur with Art Hill: “With those who don’t give a (darn) about baseball, I can only sympathize. I do not resent them. I am even willing to concede that many of them are physically clean, good to their mothers, and in favor of world peace. But while the series is on, I can’t think of anything to say to them.”

So, Julie, while I still love you to pieces, you keep watching those blue brontosauruses clash and I’ll keep watching baseball. We can talk again in November.


At 10/12/2007 12:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kerry, I'm holding my sides they hurt so bad from laughing. I bow down to your incredible wit and talent.

Frankly, I don't like football much either, I only watch BYU football. There's a pride and tradition there that lures me back every year. Does that help your opinion of me any?

P.S. Baseball is boring. You sit there for EVER and there's hardly any action. I think hockey is the perfect sport---lots of action, a few fights, and an easy to follow set of rules. :)

Julie Bellon

At 10/12/2007 12:41 PM, Blogger Kerry Blair said...

Excuse me? Didn't you read #4? There's all kinds of stuff going on, you just have to understand what you're looking at. A baseball quote I love, but couldn't work into the blog until now, is from Albert Einstein:

"You teach me baseball and I'll teach you relativity. No, we must not. You will learn about relativity faster than I learn baseball."

Hockey? Isn't that like football with sticks?

At 10/12/2007 12:41 PM, Blogger RobisonWells said...

Kerry, Kerry, Kerry...

So, Art Hill said that "With those who don't give a [darn] about baseball, I can only sympathize." What does Art Hill say about those of us who actively despise it?

Your ten points:

1) This is the real problem with baseball. If, as you say in a later point, you can lose a third of those 162 games, then why ever get passionate about a game? You could lose 54 games straight and still, plausibly, win your division? What the heck? In football, every game matters. If you want to get to the championship (in college ball) you'd dang well better never lose. And if you want a good bowl game, you can't lose more than one or two. EVERY game matters, and that's what inspires passion for the sport. (You say in baseball you only have to wait a day if you miss a game--so who cares?)

2) Wait... So you LIKE that baseball has terrible calls that never get overturned? Especially in this day and age when players and refs get caught involved in gambling? This is a good thing? Has Kerry Blair started smoking crack cocaine?

3) The reason football has no double headers is that football players have to physically exert themselves a bit to play the game. Baseball players stand in a field for forty minutes before sprinting a couple dozen yards--and then they go back to standing.

4) There's more to get excited about? See my above response. In football, on every play every player moves. People do things. In baseball, the height of achievement is to throw a no-hitter, for crying out loud. In other words, the most awesome game possible is when NO ONE DOES ANYTHING.

5) Football heralds fall, really, since it's usually August when football begins. (I suppose you could say that since baseball ends near winter, that it heralds winter. But then couldn't you say that baseball heralds every single season, since those 162 games get dragged out almost year round?)

6) In other words, baseball is boring (toe the rubber) and football is exciting (blitz, bomb, etc.)

7) So... the good thing about baseball is that you can get up and leave? In football we like to watch the game, not stretch our legs behind the stadiums.

8) Here I'll agree with you. Baseball is all about tradition. That's the only explanation why people still watch it.

9) A neat football quote:
"Football is a game played with arms, legs and shoulder--but mostly from the neck up." Knute Rockne
In other words, football is a thinking sport. It's all about strategy and decision-making and planning. If you look at any college playbook, you'd see that every one of those players has often memorized more than a thousand plays. They know their routes and roles, and they execute their plans. It's not just hitting each other.

10) Well, I'll give you "Who's On First?"

(I still love you, Kerry.) :)

At 10/12/2007 1:04 PM, Blogger Tristi Pinkston said...

I'll just sit here and watch "Dancing with the Stars" and leave you guys to it.

At 10/12/2007 1:06 PM, Blogger Kerry Blair said...

Rob, dear, the fact that you don't get it proves my point better than I ever could. We'll have to agree to disagree, I guess, since the difference between the fans and players of the two games is probably genetic. Another neat football quote you'll want to add to your collection:

"Let's face it, you have to have a slightly recessive gene that has a little something to do with the brain to go out on the football field and beat your head against other human beings on a daily basis." (Tim Green)

How many recessive genes must you have to watch them do it? (Still love you, too! ;))

And, seriously, one or two of those points of yours might be well taken, but I'll never admit it!

At 10/12/2007 1:21 PM, Blogger Jennie said...

Anyone for basketball?

At 10/12/2007 3:31 PM, Blogger Marta O. Smith said...

This is all very interesting and amusing, but may I point out that in basketball, baseball, and football the uniforms are strictly functional and therefore a bit dorky (baggy underwear, knickers, oversized rayon shirts large enough to cover a volkswagon). However, since SOCCER/FOOTBALL has such a strong European influence, the uniforms are quite nice (striped polo shirts with long sleeves and collars). If you're going to sweat, you might as well look good doing it.

At 10/12/2007 5:22 PM, Blogger James Dashner said...

Kerry, all I can say is that was pure brilliance. Ironically, so was Rob's reply.

What I don't get is why it has to be one or the other. Here's a clue, people: BOTH SPORTS ARE FREAKING AWESOME.

I feel very sorry for people who hate baseball. It's mostly people from Utah because they didn't grow up with a professional team. I'm sorry, but you cannot be a kid in Atlanta and NOT be a baseball fan.

People who say baseball is boring and that nothing is happening are clueless. Rob, you are clueless. I thought you were WAY more intelligent. I can name at least 20 strategic decisions that must be made on ANY PITCH OF ANY GAME.

Having said all this, football is indeed my favorite sport. But only slightly over baseball, then basketball, then golf, then NASCAR. Hockey is about 132nd, right behind curling and thumb wrestling.

At 10/12/2007 6:48 PM, Blogger Stephanie Humphreys said...

I'm with you, Julie. Hockey has to be the most exciting. Must be that Canadian influence.

At 10/12/2007 10:34 PM, Anonymous marlene said...

What's not to love about both--especially if you live in New England! Go Red Sox!!! Go Patriots!!!

At 10/12/2007 11:53 PM, Blogger RobisonWells said...

If we're being honest, I really enjoy the World Series. It's the one time of year that I can really enjoy baseball--even the standing around, doing nothing stuff. But I think it still relates to the too-many-games-to-care thing: in the World Series, every game matters.

At 10/13/2007 1:20 PM, Blogger James Dashner said...

Agreed. Regular season baseball is fantastic at the ballpark. It's fantastic in tight division races the last couple of months. But there's nothing like playoff baseball. The tension between pitches, especially in the late innings of a close game, the fans roaring--not even football can compare to that.

But football regular season is by far the best. Except every year I'm starting to despise college football's workings a little more. How stupid that USC loses to a crappy Stanford team and only drops to Number 7. Ridiculous. The polls are a joke, the BCS is a joke, and the bowls are a joke.

That's why I LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE the NFL, baby. Especially since the invention of DVRs.

At 10/13/2007 4:59 PM, Blogger RobisonWells said...

I agree about the lame college system. However, if you're comparing a given college game against a given NFL game (rather than the college season against the NFL season), I'd take college any day. College has more heart. And when was the last time you saw an NFL team run the option?

At 10/13/2007 7:32 PM, Blogger Anne Bradshaw said...

Anyone for cricket?

At 10/13/2007 9:49 PM, Blogger Jennifer Leffler said...

I will take baseball anyday. I enjoy football, basketball and even soccer now and then but baseball beats them all. Where else can you sit back, relax and actually talk to the person next to you.

At 10/22/2007 2:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't watch either. I'm more of a Dirty Jobs, While You Were Out, kinda person. However I play Baseball with my niece's and nephew's. That way is never boring.

I know this is off the subject but I have a question for Rob: Do you think that women are supposed to stay home and take care of kids all day or should they go and get jobs and do things that men do?

good blog Kerry!


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