Skip to content

Football writers: please stop trying to write about baseball

Apr 17, 2012, 5:31 PM EST

Football

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.

Latest Posts
  1. Neal Cotts almost retired before signing with the Rangers in 2012

    Jan 30, 2015, 10:50 PM EST

    Neal Cotts Neal Cotts

    Neal Cotts battled numerous injuries and nearly called it quits before the Rangers signed him to a minor league deal in 2012.

  2. Joe Kelly said he’s going to win the 2015 AL Cy Young Award

    Jan 30, 2015, 9:40 PM EST

    Joe Kelly Joe Kelly

    Joe Kelly has some bold words for non-believers.

  3. Yasiel Puig: “[Juan] Uribe’s a fatty”

    Jan 30, 2015, 8:30 PM EST

    Yasiel Puig Yasiel Puig

    Yasiel Puig meant it in a good way!

  4. Rockies sign Omar Quintanilla and Rafael Betancourt

    Jan 30, 2015, 7:20 PM EST

    Rafael Betancourt Rafael Betancourt

    The Rockies addressed their depth on Friday, signing reliever Rafael Betancourt and utility infielder Omar Quintanilla to minor league deals.

  5. Red Sox are willing to trade Edward Mujica

    Jan 30, 2015, 6:10 PM EST

    Edward Mujica Edward Mujica

    The Red Sox are willing to trade reliever Edward Mujica, according to a report.

  6. Four more minor leaguers suspended

    Jan 30, 2015, 4:55 PM EST

    Police Blotter

    MLB has been suspending guys by the truckload lately.

  7. Orioles, Steve Pearce avoid arbitration for $3.7 million

    Jan 30, 2015, 4:26 PM EST

    Steve Pearce Getty Getty Images

    He hit .293 with 21 homers and a .930 OPS in 102 games last season, topping 200 plate appearances for the first time at age 31.

  8. The Braves and Rockies made a trade

    Jan 30, 2015, 4:10 PM EST

    Tampa Bay Rays v Atlanta Braves Getty Images

    A couple of pitchers who don’t profile well in a hitters’ environment for a couple of catchers who have shown a little at the plate. Advantage: Braves.

  9. Red Sox sign former All-Star Alexi Ogando

    Jan 30, 2015, 3:49 PM EST

    Alexi Ogando AP

    Ogando posted a 3.12 ERA in 381 innings from 2010-2013.

  10. Victor Martinez could catch early in the season

    Jan 30, 2015, 3:07 PM EST

    Victor Martinez Victor Martinez

    The lack of a DH and the health of Miguel Cabrera are the determining factors.

  11. Yankees sign Scott Baker

    Jan 30, 2015, 1:04 PM EST

    Scott Baker

    Baker has struggled to regain his form after missing all of 2012 following Tommy John elbow surgery.

  12. Red Sox sign Felipe Paulino

    Jan 30, 2015, 10:49 AM EST

    Felipe Paulino AP

    Paulino was once a young power with lots of upside, but injuries have repeatedly derailed his career.

  13. Red Sox sign former All-Star Bryan LaHair

    Jan 30, 2015, 10:20 AM EST

    Bryan LaHair AP

    LaHair looks destined to go down as one of the least successful All-Stars of all time.

  14. “That’s what Cuba does to you. It leaves you wanting more”

    Jan 30, 2015, 9:18 AM EST

    Cuba

    Must-click material from Jorge Arangure of Vice Sports

  15. Joba Chamberlain is being pretty choosy

    Jan 30, 2015, 8:43 AM EST

    Joba Chamberlain Getty Images

    Even second tier relievers are in demand in the offseason.

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. J. Papelbon (5971)
  2. Y. Moncada (3819)
  3. F. Rodriguez (3806)
  4. I. Suzuki (3597)
  5. J. Shields (3459)
  1. D. Mesoraco (2769)
  2. T. Snider (2719)
  3. J. Werth (2445)
  4. R. Vogelsong (2427)
  5. F. Gutierrez (2286)