Baseball has tried to appeal to younger fans with an ad campaign of testimonials from Kelly Ripa and Carson Daly. Football this season will appeal to younger fans by actually appealing to younger fans. The Dallas Cowboys have their own series on HBO, home of The Sopranos and Sex and the City. Baseball has Mel Allen dispensing weekly notes from beyond the grave on ESPN Classic—an estimable pleasure, but one that is, demographically speaking, more Preparation H than Generation Y.
Football has a hard cap. In baseball, only John Olerud does. Football has revenue sharing. Baseball's is nominal. Football has tackled its problems head-on. Baseball pussyfoots around them, the very definition of a baseball fight. Last week five players on the Boston Red Sox and the Baltimore Orioles were suspended for a bench-clearing brawl involving 48 men in which (miraculously!) not one of them was even slightly injured. Meanwhile, in the Kansas City Chiefs' training camp, offensive tackle John Tait punched defensive tackle Eddie Freeman, who then split Tait's face open with his ( Tait's) own helmet. Afterward Tait said, "I don't want Eddie to suffer," and Freeman agreed that his resultant fine was "more than fair." Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent, Roger Clemens and Mike Piazza—men who've been swinging their handbags at one another for years-might benefit from such do-it-yourself conflict mediation.
When it comes to image, football's is eye black, baseball's a black eye. On the surface the two sports have much in common—armored men with Popeye arms playing games that end 17-10. But one's thriving and one's dying. One's cool and one's not. It's the difference between John Wayne and John Wayne Bobbitt.