Well it’s fall again, and that can mean only one thing: football season. Yes, the titans of the tundra have returned for another season of exciting non-stop action. And there are three things that everyone should be paying close attention to this fall: Barry Bonds’ quest to move past Babe Ruth on the all-time home run list, Ichiro’s pursuit to break an 84-year-old record, and the tight playoff races that exist in both leagues. Yes, that’s right, good old baseball. Remember baseball? Our former national pastime.
Unfortunately, as things usually go, football is at the front of every sports fan’s mind these days. Turn on SportsCenter and you’re likely to get a review of every detail of every game played. Let’s analyze every angle of Terrell Owens’ second touchdown. Let’s predict how long it will be before Dave Wannstedt gets fired. Is the Colts game do-or-die this weekend? Come on! It’s only the first week of games. Let’s at least get to the midpoint in the season before we start making such grand prognostications. Unfortunately, football will be analyzed to death over the next 17 weeks. And while I like John Madden’s scribblings on the teleprompter as much as the next guy, this football season is still in its nascent stages. It simply does not deserve all this attention.
Baseball, on the other hand, has always remained a part of the American fabric. And while at this time of year it probably exists only in the deep recesses of our crowded football minds, it is likely to provide some of the most exciting moments in the coming months. Ask me what my favorite sound is and I would reply, without hesitation, that it’s the collective reverberation of excitement, nervousness and calculation that a baseball stadium makes in October when a runner rounds third and heads for home.
And it still amazes me to this day that two teams could play 162 games and end up with identical records. Not only is there a good chance that may happen this year, but it also seems that it could happen to more than one team. Simply put, there is no sport that can provide more excitement than when baseball finally closes its marathon season. With so many questions yet to be answered, with so many meaningful games being played everyday, and with so many athletes accomplishing things that happen once in a lifetime, why watch anything else?
Still, everyone will be watching football. There are probably a plethora of reasons for this. The concise football season certainly plays to the short attention span in all of us. Unfortunately, however, the biggest factor is that you can gamble on football. The Browns and the Chargers still manage to garner massive attention because faithful football fans pick the Browns plus-3 or a fantasy football guru picks up LaDainian Tomlinson. Granted, there are certainly other legitimate reasons for football’s popularity. The two factors I mentioned, however, are two factors that baseball simply cannot compete with.
No, the sport of baseball has to stand on its own, presenting itself unabashedly in its pure form to a nation that yearns for its football. I will admit, football does get pretty exciting when it comes right down it. But not right now. Fall is for baseball, and baseball alone. So instead of arguing over how bad the New York Giants are, turn your attention to the Cubs or the A’s. And remember that baseball used to be our national pastime. If you tune in during the next month you might just be reminded why.