SI Vault
Rick Reilly
August 29, 1988
Baseball strikes out with this football aficionado
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August 29, 1988

Glory To The Gridiron

Baseball strikes out with this football aficionado

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"Terrific. Had a corn dog in the second, some Jujubees in the fifth and a twist cone in the seventh."

Yeah, but who won?

"It depends on how well you know the balk rule."

The best player in football history was Jim Brown, a granite statue of a man. The best player in baseball history was Babe Ruth, a Jell-O parfait of a man. The best arm in football is John Elway's. The best arm in baseball is John Elway's.

Football has cheerleaders. Baseball has batboys. Football has Joe Montana. Baseball has Bob Knepper. Football has instant replay. Baseball has Don Denkinger. Football has Dan Reeves nattily turned out in a $500 suit. Baseball has Don Zimmer spilling out of an ill-fitting uniform.

In football, an upset means something. The worst team beats the best team maybe one time in 25. In baseball, the worst team beats the best team two out of five times. What's to celebrate?

If you're at a football game, there are 11 different matchups you can watch on every play. Set your binoculars on the wide receiver trying to outjuke the cornerback or the center trying to bull the noseguard. In baseball, try setting your binoculars on anybody other than the pitcher or the batter.

What did the rightfielder do that time?

"Well, first he put his glove on his knee, then he bent over, then he stood up straight again. Just like last time."

Baseball lovers say that their game is timeless, that it has kept the traditions that link it to the past. Right. Let's go to the Seattle Kingdome and watch designated hitter Steve Balboni—here's a real athlete—get an AstroTurf double that the outfielder loses in the roof.

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