Sunday, August 8, 2010

The last meaningless sports month of the year

I don't much enjoy baseball.
And since I'm not saddled with an antiquated love of that sport I can say without qualm that the NFL outstrips the MLB in almost every way except one: The Preseason.

MLB Spring training is, for some reason, a big deal. Baseball fans come out of hiberation, stretch real big, eat a ballpark frank and rejoice the annual tradition of dudes shagging balls in sunny locales.

The NFL, try as it might, can't inspire me and most other fans past mild amusement at the thought of preseason football. I expect there are some reasons for this. For starters, in a sport where someone hitting the ball one third of the time counts as exceptional and the number one guy on the field is a defender, it's hard to argue that the game isn't pretty well focused on defense. When it comes to the NFL we like the occasional Darrelle Revis, but mostly we want Chris Johnson busting through the line and scramming for about 90 yards.

Which brings me to preseason play. When an NFL team hasn't had time to figure out the offense or is plugging imperfect pieces into an established scheme, things look noticeably hackish. In the MLB when guys can't can't get hits in Spring Training it's just par for the course. And who cares how imperfect the guy in left field is? He's still been playing the position for 20 years and if his manager asks him to "change things up" by moving a little to the left or the right or forward or backward, it's not really a devastating experience. All of which is to say the early season defensive imperfections are less imperfect in the MLB then the offensive ones are in the NFL. If the level of preseason baseball play is, say, 50% of what it will be before a team peaks, the NFL is playing at about 25%, which is practically unwatchable.

So bravo, baseball. You can have one more month or relevance before the real show starts. Then by the time your playoffs begins and you become a fractionally more enjoyable game, we'll be so far into the football season that I probably won't even notice unless the O's are there. That would be funny.

As for tonight's game, I'll probably tune in for the first quarter of the Hall of Fame game just to see if T.O. brings his popcorn. After that I'll happily go back to my mock drafts, cheesy snacks and Family Guy reruns.

- Eric Edwards


Anonymous said...

You are preaching to the choir! I just can't get into watching baseball. It is almost like watching golf... until the playoffs.

E-QC said...

I disagree. I think people are more excited about NFL preseason then any other exhibition games in any other sport. I work in a sports related establishment and all I hear this time of year is "thank god football is back." During spring training I hear "I wish football was still on." People (including myself and most I know) pay very close attention to their team in the preseason and also enjoy just seeing football when other teams are playing. The only thing that gets me excited about spring training is that it's a sign that winter is almost over.

The Owners said...

@ E-QC. I agree that there is a Groundhog Day aspect that Spring Training signals something bigger than baseball, it signals the end of ridiculous heating bills and nasty, gray weather.