Why Baseball is Superior to Football

I watched the Super Bowl and enjoyed it.  After three slow quarters of play, the fourth quarter was exciting and suspenseful.  It was a very good game.

However, even in the rare event of a competitive and entertaining Super Bowl game we can see how football is inferior to baseball.  Two plays in particular demonstrated that football, despite its physical nature and on-the-field execution, is a game where mind-boggling technicalities can be just as important as a touchdown or missed tackle, and usually break the flow of the game.

(Just over a year ago I wrote that baseball is superior to football because it has no clock.  In football you have two teams and a clock, and the competition is just as much about beating the clock as it is about beating the other team.  Call me silly, but I’d rather see teams compete with each other than with a clock.)

In the third quarter New England coach Bill Belicheck successfully challenged that New York had too many players on the field, granting the Patriots five yards on the NY penalty and thus a first down in a situation that seemed crucial at the moment.  On replay you saw, however, that a NY player was running to the sidelines, trying to get off the field before the ball was snapped.  This is not an example of a rule violation that would give the Giants an advantage on the field (in the way that a hold might keep a play alive).  This violation is simply a technicality, one that has no impact on the way a down was played.  It’s ridiculous to have to watch a slow-motion replay of a single player running toward the sideline – far from the ball or any other player – for a possible penalty.  Is that what head-to-head, physical competition is all about?

And then at the end of the fourth quarter, after New England was unsuccessful at converting a fourth down, a single second remained on the clock.  NFL rules required that the Giants take the field and resume play.  What logical reason was there to do this?  Oh yes, the clock.  Even though the game was all but over, and the coaches, media and players had already stormed the field, the players had to line up and snap the ball to get that one second off the clock.  At that moment the game was being "played" not for the sake of competition, but for the sake of a rulebook and the Almighty Clock.  Boring!

In baseball we don’t have such silly technicalities.  Each team gets nine innings, or 27 outs, to defeat the other team.  Because it is a simple head-to-head game (ie, there is no clock), there are no meaningless plays in baseball – baseball doesn’t run the home team to bat in the bottom of the ninth inning if it is already winning.  But that’s precisely what happens in football every week – minutes of meaningless football are played, simply so that they can run out the clock.  Yawn.

I do like football, and I really enjoyed the Super Bowl this year.  But football doesn’t compare to baseball, where technical rules are few and teams compete without a clock.  Free from the burden of technicalities and Timex, all baseball offers is some good old fashioned head-to-head competition.

Is it Spring Training yet?

About Chris Duckworth

Spouse. Parent. Lutheran Pastor. National Guardsman. Political Junkie. Baseball Fan.
This entry was posted in Baseball, Sports (not baseball). Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Why Baseball is Superior to Football

  1. LP says:

    I find all professional sports equally boring.
    Spend some time down here in the South during the Fall when REAL (ie college) football is being played, and I’ll make a convert of ya! The excitement of Florida v. Georgia, Alabama v. Auburn, or any night game in Death Valley far exceeds even baseball playoff games I have been to.
    On a side note: do you watch Mythbusters? They did a whole show on baseball myths that was pretty interesting. They looked into what it takes to knock the hide off the ball, the effects of a corked bat, and if placing balls in a humidor cut down on home runs. They also examined the physics of pitching. All in all, that was pretty cool!

  2. Bill says:

    Ludachris! (sorry for the pun)
    I’d like to point out Rule 4.10 of the Major League Baseball rules, concerning a regulation game. If you want to talk about technicalities… a baseball game can be started and then ruled “No Game” if it’s called before five innings of play… meaning that almost half a game can be just a warm-up exercise for when the real game is played at a later date. Reference here.
    It gets better. Just read a little about the whole “batter batting out of turn”. Rule 6.07. In fact, all of Rule 6 is pretty enlightening about how some of the technicalities of baseball work.
    These silly technicalities occur in every sport. And in some sports the teams can use them to their advantage, and in others, the players and managers just stand there and spit. It doesn’t make one sport better than another.
    Further, a clock is not a bad thing. It makes the game more complex. You could change football to let each team have 15 drives, and at the end of those, one is a winner, but that would decrease the amount of strategy involved. Football is more like chess. Baseball… well, it’s more like roulette. Where do you place your chips for a payout, and which payout will work for you? Sometimes solid, little payouts are just as good as the one big payout. Sometimes singles are just as good as the occasional home run. There is strategy there, but in no way is it the same level of strategic thinking.
    In chess, if there were no clock, a player could spend hours making each move, and sure, he or she can win after a near interminable game, but the clock is there to encourage rapid complex, strategic thinking. Same with football. Just substitute “coach and quarterback”‘ for “player”.
    But maybe this whole “more complex thinking” argument won’t convince you. Fine. I have two words that nullify any argument you can make for the better sport: salary cap.

  3. Eric says:

    I thought to whole deal with playing the last second was pretty stupid. Where is the “spirit” of the rule. Tick that last second off and lets go home. Also, Belicheats challenge in the 3rd quarter was pretty lame. Once again, the spirit of the rule.
    As for the salary cap, I am with Bill on that. I think baseball would be more fun to watch if teams had a somewhat equal chance to land big name players. I know the Twins have remained somewhat competitive with a small salary and the rich teams (like the Yankees) have not won the World Series recently, but there needs to be more of a level playing field.
    So right now I am not ready to make baseball or football more superior. But if I had a vote I would throw college basketball into the mix.

  4. LawAndGospel says:

    I say Hooray for baseball, but who would have thought that politics would be as much the discussion as whether the Giants or Patriots should win? Speaking of politics, you may want to check out this video-

  5. Joe says:

    I think it is crazy to try and compare the two sports. I am personally more of a football man, however each sport brings its own set of offerings to the fan. I hate to use the old saying it like comparing apples to oranges.
    There are certain things about each sport that I think could be changed to make it more interesting or even competitive.
    I think a more interesting discussion would be which of these two sports is “America’s Game.” In the past I would say that baseball was hands down. But now I think football might be taking over. Especially in light of all the scandals that baseball has now.
    This would not be which sport was superior but which sport has America embraced as their own?

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