Yes, we all know the National Football League is the king of sports in America, with billions of dollars in revenue, a dominate spot on national television and an event – the Super Bowl – that has become kind of a national holiday.
Doesn’t matter. It’s still not better than baseball.
Here’s something that often gets overlooked about baseball. The popularity of the game is higher than ever. The 13 highest annual attendance years all took place between 2004 and 2016. More than 73 million tickets were sold to Major League Baseball games in 2016.
Even at 114 years old (older, if you count just the National League), MLB still captivates millions each year. There’s a reason for that. It’s one of the best games ever invented.
MLB is Better than the NFL: Here’s Proof
So while it runs against conventional wisdom, Major League Baseball is actually still the National Past Time. It’s also better than the NFL. Here are a few reasons why.
It’s so fun to watch a quarterback kneel and let the clock run out, isn’t it? Or to watch an offense go into the ground game with the lead, grinding out the clock, sometimes for an entire quarter? Yawn. Everything in the NFL is about the clock- two minute warnings, sudden deaths, overtime, the “four-minute offense” and so forth. What rarely gets mentioned is that it’s hardly fair to have one team have the ball for more time than the other team. What’s fun about that?
In baseball, you have to get 27 outs to win. There’s no cheating – you have to get every single one of them. And you can’t get ahead and then run out the clock. That’s what can make even a blowout exciting. Teams come from behind in the late innings quite often in baseball. That’s because they actually get the chance. As the saying goes, “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.”
Size Doesn’t Matter
When an announcer in an NFL game says something about a football team really moving the ball well on the ground, we all know what that means: they’ve got a bunch of 300-pound road graders on the offense line beating up the other guys. In baseball, the smallest, skinniest player – or the most rotund – can hit the ball or rob a much bigger player of a big hit. Size simply doesn’t matter. Skill does. Great hitters come in all shapes and sizes, so do pitchers and position players. That makes the game much more relatable.
Bonus reason: Speaking of offensive linemen, in what sport does a player play a position designed so that they are never even supposed to touch the ball? Their entire purpose is to block someone or, in the case of the center, snap the ball. No other major American sport does this. It’s weird when you think about it.
The Summer Game
The majority of the baseball season happens in the summer, making it the perfect place for getting out in the sun and enjoying the day, or kicking back on a long summer evening. It’s a “park,” remember? Football in the fall often means rain, snow and cold weather. No comparison.
The violent nature of football is causing it a lot of problems. The prevalence of concussion-related issues among NFL players is a sad story, and it’s making the game harder to watch. For every violent hit, you wonder how much that player might have to pay, health-wise, later in life. It’s also leading some parents to keep their children out of the game.
The NFL has really broken some hearts in the past 35 years or so.
The Oakland Raiders won’t be playing in Oakland after 2019 (at the latest), moving to Las Vegas. The Rams left St. Louis for Los Angeles, 21 years after leaving L.A. for St. Louis. The Chargers left San Diego. And that’s just in the last year or so.
In the years before that, the Baltimore Colts literally left for Indianapolis in the middle of the night. The Browns left Cleveland for Baltimore. The Houston Oilers moved to Nashville and became the Tennessee Titans. The St. Louis Cardinals left for Phoenix. Prior to that, the Raiders had moved to L.A. and then back to Oakland again.
That’s all since 1982. Here’s how many MLB teams moved in that time: one. The Montreal Expos became the Washington Nationals in 2005. They are the only MLB team to move since 1972.
There’s more. Between 1903 and 1952, no MLB team relocated. Zero. In the 20 years after, 10 teams moved. However, that was about spreading MLB to the West (Dodgers to L.A., Giants to San Francisco, Athletics to Oakland) and nearly every city they left had two teams, which at least gave the city fans someone left to support.
Also, places like Milwaukee and Kansas City got new teams after their teams left (the Brewers and Royals replacing the Braves and Athletics). Even New York got a new team when the Dodgers left (the Mets).
So, these are not the only reasons MLB is better than the NFL, but these are some of them. Keep them in mind the next time your football-loving friend tries to tell you how much better his favorite sport is than baseball. He’s wrong. You just need to educate him.