BASEBALL VERSUS FOOTBALL
Baseball is different from any other sport; very different. For instance, in most sports you score points or goals; in baseball you score runs.
In most sports the ball or object, is put in play by the offensive team; in baseball the defensive team puts the ball in play, and only the defense is allowed to touch the ball. In fact, in baseball if an offensive player touches the ball intentionally, he's out; sometimes unintentionally, he's out.
Also: In football, basketball, soccer, volleyball, and all sports played with a ball, you score with the ball, and without the ball you can't score. In baseball, the ball prevents you from scoring.
In most sports the team is run by a coach; in baseball the team is run by a manager; and only in baseball does the manager (or coach) wear the same clothing as the players do. If you had ever seen John Madden in his Oakland Raiders football uniform, you would know the reason for this custom.
Now I've mentioned football. Baseball and football are the two most popular spectator sports in this country. And, as such, it seems they ought to be able to tell us something about ourselves and our values. And maybe how those values have changed over the last 150 years. For those reasons I enjoy comparing baseball and football:
Baseball is a nineteenth-century pastoral game. Football is a twentieth-century technological struggle.
Baseball is played on a diamond, in a park. The baseball park! Football is played on a gridiron, in a stadium, sometimes called Soldier Field or War Memorial Stadium.
Baseball begins in the spring, the season of new life. Football begins in the fall, when everything is dying.
In football you wear a helmet. In baseball you wear a cap.
Football is concerned with downs. "What down is it?" Baseball is concerned with ups. "Who's up? Are you up? I'm not up! He's up!"
In football you receive a penalty. In baseball you make an error.
In football the specialist comes in to kick. In baseball the specialist comes in to relieve somebody.
Football has hitting, clipping, spearing, piling on, personal fouls, late hitting, and unnecessary roughness. Baseball has the sacrifice.
Football is played in any kind of weather: Rain, snow, sleet, hail fog . . . can't see the game, don't know if there is a game going on; mud on the field . . . can't read the uniforms, can't read the yard markers, the struggle will continue! In baseball if it rains, we don't go out to play. "I can't go out! It's raining out!"
Baseball has the seventh-inning stretch. Football has the two-minute warning.
Baseball has no time limit. "We don't know when it's gonna end!" Football is rigidly timed, and it will end "even if we have to go to sudden death."
In baseball, during the game, in the stands, there's a kind of picnic feeling. Emotions may run high or low, but there's not that much unpleasantness. In football, during the game in the stands, you can be sure that at least twenty-seven times you were perfectly capable of taking the life of a fellow human being.
And finally, the objectives of the two games are completely different:
In football, the object is for the quarterback, otherwise known as the field general, to be on target with his aerial assault, riddling the defense by hitting his receivers with deadly accuracy in spite of the blitz, even if he has to use the shotgun. With short bullet passes and long bombs, he marches his troops into enemy territory, balancing this aerial assault with a sustained ground attack that punches holes in the forward wall of the enemy's defensive line. In baseball, the object is to go home! And to be safe! "I hope I'll be safe at home!"