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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Let's play the $25,000 Pyramid. Here are the clues:

Watching hairlines recede...Reading the dictionary...Waiting for Godot...Cross-stitching...Alphabetizing your canned goods...Attending a workshop somewhere on sorghum....

You holler: "Things More Exciting Than Watching Baseball!"

Ding, ding, ding! You win! You also get the complete audio library of Jim Palmer explaining why Sid Fernandez sometimes throws screwballs on 2-and-1 counts to hitters missing one or more fingers.

Admit it: Baseball is to thrills what beets are to taste buds. If baseball is so exciting, why is there the seventh-inning stretch? You ever heard of the third-quarter stretch in football? Forget it. Nobody gets drowsy watching football.

In this country you're not supposed to say the D word about baseball: dull. Or dumb. Or dreary. If you tell people you would rather be stripped naked, covered in tuna oil and lowered into a tank full of barracuda than watch an entire baseball game on TV, they give you the standard. "Well, you're not sophisticated enough to appreciate the subtleties of the game."

From what I can tell, "sophisticated" means you don't mind watching a game in which out of 80 at bats—about 400 pitches—you might see five hits. "Subtleties" means you don't mind paying $12.50 to watch it in person. If baseball is so subtle and graceful, how come the guys in the bullpen never watch it? They're either trying to spit tobacco juice on each other's socks (very subtle) or figuring out how they can get Chinese food delivered.

Football is much too quick-fix for baseball fans. After all, who can find sports sophistication in a 60-yard diving-catch touchdown bomb? And it's true, there's no subtlety in a guy's getting hit so hard that the first thing he says when he comes to is, "Mom, let me sleep 10 more minutes."

Football is so terribly unsubtle that if you're at a game, you're afraid to leave your seat because you think you'll miss something. Baseball is so wonderfully sophisticated that you leave your seat in hopes of missing something.

How was the game, Fred?

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