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Football writers: please stop trying to write about baseball

Apr 17, 2012, 5:31 PM EDT


Usually we have to wait until playoff season for people who don’t know a lot about baseball to write columns in which the declare it dead or dying and then vainly attempt to explain why.  But today we’re lucky!  We have one from Andy Benoit, the NFL blogger from the New York Times!

The rating for this year’s first Saturday afternoon M.L.B. on FOX was 2.3. That’s about 10 percent of the audience that Fox’s Sunday afternoon N.F.L. Week 1 telecast attracted. Obviously, a regular-season baseball game and a regular-season N.F.L. game do not make an apples-to-apples comparison (there are 10 times more regular-season M.L.B. games, 162 per team, than N.F.L. games, 16 per team). But if they were apples, one would be rotten and the other perfectly ripe.

New rule: if you compare football ratings to baseball ratings without acknowledging that all but a handful of baseball games are televised locally by 30 distinct networks nearly every single day of the season thereby rendering national baseball telecasts far, far less useful as an indicator of the sport’s health and popularity, you have to donate $500 to the anti-ignorance charity of my choice. Cool?  At the very least, go read any of the hundreds of stories written about the $2 billion sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers recently, all of which explain quite clearly just how big local television revenues are to baseball.  Apples and oranges? Local TV is a peach, and football doesn’t have it.

Beyond ratings, Benoit goes on to explain that baseball’s central problem is that, unlike football, it’s not a fluid game played all over a field that demands its athletes get bigger, faster and stronger and constantly innovate and improve their game. Rather, baseball is stuck with the same old field — 126 square inches, he claims, referring only to home plate — and thus is stuck in history, not the shiny new future like football is. As a result:

This is largely why there is so much monotony and downtime in baseball, and why so much emphasis has been placed on peripheral nonsense known as the unwritten rules … Can you imagine anyone in the N.F.L. even batting an eye (let alone fighting) at such inconsequential stuff?

I’m sorry, but if you cover football for a living and you are of the opinion that it does not have more than its fair share of “peripheral nonsense,” you owe another $500 to the Ignorance Fund.  This is a sport that will put on a three hour telecast about its schedule, for crying out loud. A sport that has a scandal about injury bounties. A sport that, due to several days off between games each week, seems to create some new off-the-field drama at every turn, be it comic or tragic. It has plenty of nonsense, thank you very much.  Oh, and before you go crowing about that fast, furious, fluid on-the-field action in the NFL, go read this first.

Benoit ends this piece thusly:

Baseball might be back in full swing, but in the big scheme of things, fewer people are watching. Meanwhile, the N.F.L. draft is just a little over a week away and new ratings record will probably be set. Evolution at work.

He and the millions of people who tune in to watch an old man call out names from a podium and young men put on baseball caps with football logos while wearing business suits can have their draft. I’ll watch the sport I love. If that’s evolution at work, I think I know who the dinosaurs are.

  1. l0yalr0yal - Apr 17, 2012 at 5:36 PM

    And Chris Chase at Yahoo!, please stop trying to write… period.

  2. The Baseball Idiot - Apr 17, 2012 at 5:37 PM

    Home plate isn’t a square. It’s a pentagon. Guy’s an idiot.

    • CJ - Apr 17, 2012 at 10:29 PM

      I’m not sure if you’re joking or serious? He was talking about the size of home plate, and there’s no such thing as inches “pentagoned”.

    • Utley's Hair - Apr 18, 2012 at 1:27 AM

      Area is measured in square inches, feet, etc.

  3. bobtimmermann - Apr 17, 2012 at 5:41 PM

    Perhaps football bloggers, like football players, need to will their brains to medical science after death for closer study.

  4. groundruledoublebourbon - Apr 17, 2012 at 5:46 PM

    I love how the “writer” defeats his own point about the TV broadcasts – not being apples to apples and all that. Then says, “but if it were!…”

    To this I say: if my aunt had balls, she would be my uncle.

    • scatterbrian - Apr 17, 2012 at 6:01 PM

      My thoughts exactly! “I know you can’t compare these two things, but allow me to do so anyway.”

    • atribecalledquestec - Apr 17, 2012 at 8:44 PM

      Exactly. Mitch Williams once said on MLB Tonight: “If ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ were gifts and nuts, oh what a Christmas it would be.”

  5. - Apr 17, 2012 at 5:49 PM

    fewer people are watching

    Yeah well, you might want to tell that to the people who just ponied up Billions of dollars to buy the Dodgers, driven by….their TV rights.

    Oh, and look in on the Rangers TV deal too.

    But, what do I know. I’m just a boring old baseball fan who thinks a 3 hour program to discuss something I don’t need to even look at till July, and can get on a business card at a gas station, much less look up on the internet is a little err, WAY over the top.

    And I like football!

    • - Apr 17, 2012 at 5:54 PM

      ….and Angels

  6. yankeesfanlen - Apr 17, 2012 at 6:01 PM

    THEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE GIANTS WIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Yeah, not so much.

  7. Spiro Agnew - Apr 17, 2012 at 6:04 PM

    I’ve played football and baseball (albeit neither of them all that well) and it requires much more skill to hit a ball than run 100 yards. I think he needs to rethink his premises a bit.

    • lardin - Apr 17, 2012 at 9:00 PM

      The hardest thing in sports is to hit a baseball. No matter how much you argue for anything else its wrong. Round Bat, Round ball travelling a distance of 60 feet 6 inches, moving anywhere between 80 and 100mph, sinking, rising cuting in and out. Not mention some pitcher might be pissed at you and throw one in your ear.

      Good luck

      • weedman8693 - Apr 18, 2012 at 10:15 AM

        The hardest sport is golf, then baseball.. U might complain about that but I have a harder time getting the ball in the hole then swining a bat at a ball

      • koufaxmitzvah - Apr 18, 2012 at 1:08 PM

        Nope. In baseball, you’re hitting a moving ball with a crowd making noise. In golf, the ball is still, and the people are told to STFU or GTFO.

      • thefalcon123 - Apr 18, 2012 at 3:04 PM

        “The hardest thing in sports is to hit a baseball.”–Lardin

        “Are you fucking kidding me?”- A professional, Olympic level Gymnast.

  8. thejoehansen - Apr 17, 2012 at 6:07 PM

    Actual comment from my college roommate, when the Twins were still playing in the Metrodome:

    “I bet you, on average, the Vikings get more fans per game than the Twins.”

  9. royalsfaninfargo - Apr 17, 2012 at 6:07 PM

    I just got MLB.TV so I could watch out of market games besides the Yankees and Red Sox on cable. I will not be getting the NFL ticket. Is that apples and oranges ;-)?

    • cur68 - Apr 17, 2012 at 6:43 PM

      I did the same.

    • gilbert718 - Apr 18, 2012 at 3:11 PM

      i also have and not the nfl gamepass but its because its much cheaper.

  10. Willingham & Eggs - Apr 17, 2012 at 6:10 PM

    Nothing says fluidity and non-monotony like a sequence of: incomplete pass, punt, two minute television timeout, expiring play clock, called timeout…

    • phillyphreak - Apr 17, 2012 at 9:15 PM


    • buddaley - Apr 17, 2012 at 9:54 PM

      And let’s not forget the thrill of watching the 1 1/2 minute of a game in which the QB takes a knee three times. You can’t take a knee in baseball; you have to pitch the ball.

      • spudchukar - Apr 18, 2012 at 12:59 AM

        One could go on forever about the beauty of baseball, but the one thing that always stands out is the absence of a clock. A warm Sunday afternoon, a few brewskys, and never once having to think about the time. That is special.

      • wendell7 - Apr 19, 2012 at 7:33 AM

        I’m in full agreement, spud. No clocks, and the game isn’t two teams out there each defending a goal, like most other team sports.

      • chumthumper - Apr 19, 2012 at 9:50 AM

        Amen to the ‘no clock’. Baseball is the most judicious game because it’s yours to win or lose. No Excuses. How many times have you heard some jerk football player say ‘we didn’t lose; we ran out of clock”.

    • ajcardsfan - Apr 18, 2012 at 11:29 AM

      You forget call challenges, reviews and flags!

    • koufaxmitzvah - Apr 18, 2012 at 1:10 PM

      Don’t forget the 5-minute replay review to see if the knee touched the ground at the half-yard line, or if the ball crossed the plane before tumbling out of the runner’s hands.

      I mean, that shit is awesome.

  11. brewcrewfan54 - Apr 17, 2012 at 6:11 PM

    Wow is that guy an idiot.

  12. crispybasil - Apr 17, 2012 at 6:12 PM

    One of the most harmonious comment threads I’ve ever seen on HBT.

    • ajcardsfan - Apr 18, 2012 at 11:31 AM

      We might harass each other from time to time, but we defend our own and our passion.

  13. adeedothatswho - Apr 17, 2012 at 6:16 PM

    Good Lord Craig quit whining. You’re right about most of that stuff, but it’s one random writer. Try not getting so butt hurt about it.

    • drewsylvania - Apr 17, 2012 at 6:45 PM

      His whining is entertaining. Yours isn’t.

  14. Jonestein - Apr 17, 2012 at 6:20 PM

    Every time I read one of these jackwagon articles about how much better football is than baseball/baseball is dying/etc, I imagine the author getting some kind of kickback from the NFL to write it and perpetuate this ludicrous meme.

    Or the football writer is just a mouth-breathing idjit, that works too.

  15. Jack Marshall - Apr 17, 2012 at 6:23 PM

    Great job, Craig. Of all the thousands of mottos, homilies, nostrums, wise quotes, old sayings and legendary wisdom I’ve heard, Red Smith’s “Baseball is dull to dull minds only” is one that seems more accurate and becomes more useful with every passing year.

    • aleskel - Apr 17, 2012 at 10:19 PM

      “I never argue with people who say that baseball is boring, because baseball is boring. And then, suddenly, it isn’t. And that’s what makes it great.” – Joe Posnanski

  16. jdd428 - Apr 17, 2012 at 6:25 PM

    Where did this guy even see a need to write this garbage? The NFL obviously is doing well, so there’s no reason to try to pump its chest and compare it to baseball. The only motivation can be to put baseball down – for no real reason. Baseball can coexist and even thrive all while the NFL maintains dominance. There is no war for the hearts of fans – most have either already picked a favorite between the two and cannot be swayed, and/or appreciate both (or neither) and don’t need to be swayed. Bottom line is, not only is this writer’s piece arrogantly incorrect, it also completely lacks a purpose.

  17. garylanglais - Apr 17, 2012 at 6:26 PM

    Is it just me or did this guy kill his argument with his own statistics?

    “…That’s about 10 percent of the audience that Fox’s Sunday afternoon N.F.L. Week 1 telecast attracted…(there are 10 times more regular-season M.L.B. games, 162 per team, than N.F.L. games, 16 per team)”

    So the national game gets 10% of the audience and there’s 10x more national games…sounds like baseball is doing just fine, no?

    • cur68 - Apr 17, 2012 at 6:47 PM

      hey, hey, hey…no need for logic and fancy pants math now. You might scare the ignorant tool. S’like Children of the Corn with guys like this: don’t question the crazy too much or they’ll be chasing you down the rows with scythes.

      • ajcardsfan - Apr 18, 2012 at 11:33 AM

        He who walks behind the rows concurs!

  18. jimmerg31385 - Apr 17, 2012 at 6:26 PM

    obviously the article written Andy Benoit makes ridiculous comparisons. But is it just me or does this post come off as pretty anti-football? It seems like you took what could have been an excellent berating of a columnist and turned it into a baseball vs football dick measuring contest. As a fan of both sports I think you’re both doing a poor job.

    • xmatt0926x - Apr 17, 2012 at 8:36 PM

      Jimmer, if you’ve read any of this blog in the past you know Craig is extremely anti-football, ,many times unfairly so. He doesn’t like it and will unfairly trash it with the same childishness as the football writers who don’t understand baseball and therefore trash baseball. You would also know that you (and now I) will get nothing but thumbs down for understanding all of this and wondering why he needs to be just as close-minded as the football writer he is trashing. You will then also understand that 80% of the people here thumbing you down also follow football and love it but would never have the balls to write that in response to one of Craig’s anti-football rants. By the way. I love baseball and football and have reasons for loving both while also seeing a few flaws with both. WOW. Imagine saying that!!! I also come onto HBT mostly for Craig’s blogs, just so you know I’m not disagreeing with Craig’s stance just to bash him. And he was right on about that football writer. His points were rediculous. It’s just that Craig is being a little hypocritical when he rants against a writer who loved his favorite sport and will trash others because of his bias.

      • raysfan1 - Apr 17, 2012 at 9:23 PM

        Actually, he mostly bashes the NFL and not so much college ball. Plus, he is not so much saying football is bad as he is saying the blogger in question is intentionally failing to understand pretty obvious differences between broadcasting the two sports.

      • spudchukar - Apr 18, 2012 at 1:03 AM

        The definition of “rediculous”: To be a dick again.

  19. mattjg - Apr 17, 2012 at 6:27 PM

    While we’re on the topic, football blog readers: please stop trying to comment on a baseball blog.

    I’m looking at you, PFTers.

  20. charlutes - Apr 17, 2012 at 6:38 PM

    BOOM! Roasted by the Craigster

  21. drewsylvania - Apr 17, 2012 at 6:39 PM

    While you’re at it, can you write one on Bill Simmons? He’s a complete buffoon when it comes to baseball or hockey.

  22. cur68 - Apr 17, 2012 at 6:51 PM

    Benoit is typical, in my opinion, of those who want others to like what they like, believe what they believe, and will not take the trouble to understand things if they don’t get it right away. This article of his is littered with superficial observations, lack of understanding for what’s happening on the field, and reeks of untreated attention deficit disorder. I wish I hadn’t read it.

    With that being said, I rather like football. I’d pick a ballgame over it of course, but the game itself is worth watching and my dad and I enjoy it together. I don’t see why anyone needs to engage in comparing the two. They have their markets, there’s plenty of room for crossover appreciation, but they are not comparable as fruit. Football writers need to get a summer hobby and and leave off trying to pump themselves and their chosen sport up by denigrating another.

    • dad2twins - Apr 17, 2012 at 7:32 PM

      Isn’t their summer hobby agonizing over the draft? And seeing if Brett Favre is coming back?

  23. noozehound - Apr 17, 2012 at 6:59 PM

    when baseball is important enough to dominate prime time ratings for their DRAFT you can talk about being as popular as football.

    • Willingham & Eggs - Apr 17, 2012 at 7:12 PM

      When baseball’s draft becomes a more meaningful discussion than the games on the field, then we can start to consider the game dying.

    • The Dangerous Mabry - Apr 18, 2012 at 9:31 AM

      When the learning curve in baseball is shallow enough that players straight out of college regularly compete in the majors, maybe the draft will come into play as a spectator sport. Instead, the pro game is played at a substantially higher level, and thus recently drafted players won’t see the big show for years in most cases, if at all. Since the skill level NFL isn’t all that different than college ball (mostly just distilled down to the best of the college players), the players go straight from college to the pros, and thus the draft has substantially more relevance in football, making it of more interest to the casual fan, since the QB they draft this year is likely going to start next season for their team. That amazing college pitcher that your team drafted? He’s got a slim chance of ever seeing the majors, never mind being a star.

    • jdd428 - Apr 23, 2012 at 1:23 PM

      OK, first – none of the pro-baseball posters here have suggested that the MLB is more popular than the NFL. Clearly it is not; NFL has earned its dominance and is unlikely to relinquish it any time soon.

      But this is not about the NFL’s popularity; it’s about an arrogant football writer suggesting baseball has no fan base and no future while the NFL is far superior – both points we pro-baseball commenters vigorously dispute and have been able to disprove.

      Also, there’s a big difference between NFL’s draft coverage dominating the ratings (which is not accurate) and dominating the programming on ESPN and NFL Network. NFL Net has nothing else to show right now and ESPN’s priorities are so far gone they continue to provide a forum for Skip F. Bayless (the F standing for the same middle name Red Sox fans assigned to Aaron Boone).

  24. bouwel92 - Apr 17, 2012 at 7:31 PM

    tell’em craig lol

  25. gallaghedj311 - Apr 17, 2012 at 7:52 PM

    Sounds like baseball is bitter that football has become America’s past time. Maybe I baseball didn’t allow steroids o get out of control and had some semblance of a salary cap that would allow the Baltimore orioles to actually compete with NY and Boston.

    • Willingham & Eggs - Apr 17, 2012 at 8:03 PM

      You mean like the way the Redskins and Rams compete with the Giants and Patriots?

    • iranuke - Apr 17, 2012 at 8:12 PM

      Don’t be smug, Football as we know it will be gone shortly due to the concussion law suits.

    • Alex K - Apr 17, 2012 at 8:15 PM

      You’re right. Football has PED’s under total control. None of those dude take anything illegal. And even if they did it wouldn’t help them nearly as much as it helps baseball players.


    • cur68 - Apr 18, 2012 at 12:03 AM

      Will, Ira, Alex: You guys are arguing with an illiterate who gives himself a thumbs up. Its pointless. Tease him too much and he’ll attempt to e-chase you round the corn trying to get at your throat with his farm tools. Best to let him jibber his piece and go away to PFT.

      • stlouis1baseball - Apr 18, 2012 at 9:06 AM

        Hahaha! He will “e-chase you.” LOL! I know…I know. But it’s the small things that make me laugh. “E-chase you.” Hahaha! Well done Cur.

      • Alex K - Apr 18, 2012 at 9:50 AM

        It just really gets under my skin when someone says something as stupid as PED’s being a big problem in baseball and totally under control in football. It’s just too stupid to be ignored.

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