Ah, the Super Bowl. That annual rite of winter that give us free reign to consume mass quantities and play both armchair quarterback and ad exec at the same time. To that end, I’m still not sure whether Nationwide or Pete Carroll made the worst decision of the evening.
I’d rather hear Peyton Manning serenading his sandwich 50 times before I hear that little boy lamenting the fact that he’ll never get the chance to grow up again. Likewise, I’d hand the ball to Marshawn Lynch 50 times before I’d throw the ball on 2nd and goal from the 1 again. That was, by the way, the only interception thrown from the 1-yard line in the NFL all season.
Speaking of Lynch, he was the subject of one of my tweets that went semi-viral. I’m not sure how famous people deal with the volume of notifications they get, though I assume it involves different Twitter platforms and a general indifference to the responses. I’m having trouble embedding the tweet itself, but it was something like this:
Marshawn Lynch runs like a girl…with prosthetic legs…who didn’t die…and who doesn’t have an absentee racecar driver for a father.
The residual response to that little digital joke gave me a personal look at just how big and all-encompassing the Super Bowl is. It also had me yearning for the start of baseball season. It’s hard to argue with the results of the juggernaut that is the NFL, but I’m going to anyway. And I know I’m probably preaching to choir here, but I could use an “Amen!” or two.
That said, here are my five reasons the World Series is better than the Super Bowl:
No two-week lead-up
Whereas the wait from conference title games to The Big Game seems nigh on interminable, baseball just keeps on chugging. There was a 5-day gap (10/16 – 10/21) between the end of the NLCS and the first game of the World Series this year, but only because the respective championship series lasted only 4 and 5 games.
Had the Orioles or Cardinals put up more of a fight, we’d have had baseball at an almost seamless pace. I know that’s not as possible with football, given the nature of the game, but I always feel that a little momentum is lost. But hey, we get the Pro Bowl in the interim (cue sad trombone noise).
Less of a TV show
Even though baseball has adopted several mechanisms that do make it feel like more of a television program, I still feel that we’re looking through a window and observing the game…more or less. The World Series is more real, more visceral.
The Super Bowl has this air of being little more than a vehicle for the interminable commercial breaks used to ply us with big-money ads for beer (Budweiser is real beer, not like those sissy craft brews Anheuser-Busch continues to buy up) and cars (Nissan telling you it’s okay to miss your kid’s life as long as you drive a shiny new Altima).
This is all because the final football game of the season draws huge viewership, millions (or billions) of captive eyes feeding directly into besotted brains that are open to the influence of puppies, ponies, and pharmaceuticals. I will say, however, that it’d be cool to see Walter White acting as my local druggist. I’d also like to drive a Fiat fueled by Viagra.
But what racecar driver tools around in an Altima. I mean, they’re nice cars, but c’mon.
It’s not amateur night
The former point is actually made possible by this one, as the Super Bowl gives everyone a night to get together with a singular focus and pretend they care about football. Some are there for the commercials, some for the halftime show, some for the beer. But that’s not true of the World Series.
Sure, baseball’s pinnacle series might draw folks together in groups. And though the crowds around the TV and the bar may be smaller, the passion for the game is far more visceral, distilled to a level that would make the denizens of even the most remote holler in Kentucky jealous.
I have no doubt that Rob Manfred would love for his sport to garner a more significant fraction of the attention afforded the Super Bowl, but it’s simply not going to happen. And that’s okay. After all, it’s a series and not a singular, self-contained event.
Sure, there’s drama in a last-minute drive. And between Jermaine Kearse’s circus catch over, around, and behind Malcolm Butler and then Butler’s game-sealing INT just three plays later, the excitement in last night’s game was palpable. But for my money, none of that matches the 9th inning of Game 7.
Football is electric, to be sure, but baseball is magical. And it’s that unseen undercurrent of emotion and enchantment that sweeps us away in a way that even the most powerful pigskin prestidigitation never can.
The Cubs can’t be in the Super Bowl
One could make the argument that this hold true for the World Series as well, but let’s imagine for just a moment that bedraggled bunch of baseballers finally does reach the Fall Classic. That’s the kind of event that would energize far more than just the Cubs fanbase; it’d stretch to all baseball fans.
I’d venture to guess that no one outside of Detroit would care if the Lions made the Super Bowl and half the people in South Florida would only realize the Dolphins had made it after turning on their TVs for the pre-game show. But the Cubs in the World Series? That’s big.
It’s Sisyphus and his boulder, Ahab and his white whale, Rick Grimes and a walker-free sanctuary. The Cubs playing in October as one of baseball’s final two teams would be the biggest storyline in sports since Deflategate. I mean, that’s huge. Never mind the fact that a win for the North Siders would turn Cubdom into an even more insufferable group than those currently cheering the collective success of Boston sports.
The World Series will never approach the scope and scale of the Super Bowl, and I don’t want it to. For some, the season can seem interminable, the game too slow, and the results all too often disappointing for Cubs fans. Perhaps it’s that anticipation that makes the World Series such a prize.
So if you need an incentive to pull yourself out of the hangover from yesterday’s indulgence, just think: only 8 months to go before the World Series gets underway again!