My Thoughts About Baseball As I Watched the Super Bowl
I figured it might be fun to share my thoughts about baseball as I watched the Super Bowl.
What follows are a series of random thoughts, some not as developed as others, that crossed my mind during the big game.
Believe it or not, I was rooting for the Patriots in the game. When I first started to enjoy football, I was Jets fan. That was a long time ago. Those were the days of the New York Sack Exchange, Richard Todd, and Freeman McNeil. Of course, just like today, the Jets frustrated their fans constantly. As the years passed, I didn’t stay close to football, but when my youngest son, Ethan, started to find football enjoyable, he gravitated to the Patriots. (More on that in a minute.) Kids sometimes root for the teams their parents love, and that happened with Ethan and baseball and the Yankees, but in my home, in football, it has been the parent following the interests of the child rather than the other way around. Ethan brought be back to football…and to the Patriots.
This has nothing to do with baseball, but my favorite football memory, and the greatest football game I ever watched, was Super Bowl XVII when the Washington Redskins defeated the Miami Dolphins. My favorite player was (is) John Riggins. He was amazing throughout that whole post season, but he was especially tremendous in that game. To me there was never a better game than that or a player more fun to root for than ol’ #44, John Riggins.
Forgetting the New England vs New York part of the equation, the Patriots are, in many ways, the Yankees of football. They are the best, they are not ashamed at being the best, and they strive, always, to win. They have one goal – To win the Super Bowl. And they have done it more often and better than anyone else. What the Patriots are doing right now was pretty much what the Yankees have done for most of their history – win.
Some readers won’t like this comparison, but in many ways, Tom Brady is football’s Derek Jeter. He doesn’t have all the great stats, you can always find ways to argue that another player is greater, but his has been a career dominated by big moments, signature plays, and championships.
Going back to my first point… why did Ethan first become a Patriots fan as a kid? Because they won. Period. Ethan also liked the New York Giants (because they won) so in those Super Bowls, it was a bit of a challenge to pick a team to root for, especially the first time they played. Kids often gravitate to success. Most of the Sundays during much of Ethan’s life was spent playing soccer (often with his dad as the coach) so we didn’t always watch a lot of football during the season – we were too busy doing other things. By the time soccer ended, the football “pennant race” was in full swing. We usually watched only at the end of the seasons and through the playoffs. The one constant throughout that time has been the Patriots. (And you know what, they have been very exciting.) It was no doubt that because of their success a kid would enjoy watching them win.
Kids flock to teams that win, and once a fan is made, that fan tends to stay with that team forever. That’s what happened to me with the Yankees back in 1977. I hope the Yankees start winning as often as the Patriots again – just like the good old days.
There was a statistic shown early in the game that stated that the Patriots have never scored a touchdown in the first quarter of a Super Bowl (or something like that). Obviously, it’s a meaningless stat. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in stats that we try to bring meaning to things that we over think during the game and the importance of a moment. This happens a lot in baseball (“This guy owns the pitcher, he’s hitting .333 against him for his career.”)
One thing I think baseball does better than football is the fact that the World Series is not played at a neutral site. I love that the World Series takes place in front of the home town fans. These are the people that supported the team throughout the season. They deserve to be at the big game. I’m not a fan of a “neutral” site for the sport’s biggest game(s).
There is a guy on the Rams named Aaron Donald, but as a Yankees fan, and Yankee historian (of sorts), I can’t help but think of Atley Donald who pitched for the Yankees in the 1930’s and 1940’s.
Julian Edelman is one heck of a great player. He always seems to come up big in the most important spots. The announcers stated that he’s not as great in the regular season (looking at his stats), but that he’s amazing in the big games. That seems to be true. In this regard, he reminds me a bit of of Bernie Williams – often overshadowed, but the guy you want on your team in the big moment.
Speaking of Julian Edelman, #11, a smaller player who relies a lot of his ability to run and catch the ball… I sure hope Brett Gardner (also #11) has one more good year in him.
I know the players need a rest, but I always find halftime distracting. Talk about killing the flow. “Now we’ll stop for 30-minutes.” Imagine if baseball stopped in the middle of the fifth inning each game? The Seventh Inning Stretch is vastly superior to any halftime (and it’s not even close).
As one watches football, he can’t help but hear about all the rule changes and such. “That would have been a catch three years ago,” “The new tackle rule says…”, and etc… I find this distracting and I think it hurts the continuity of the sport. Football changes rules every single year. I don’t think it’s good for the game. Baseball seems to be trying to follow suit. In my opinion, baseball is pretty darn good. I hope they don’t mess with the game too much – limiting shifts and such. Let teams be innovative, then let the other teams, coaches, and players react rather than just legislating change to the sport. There should be a natural flow not a flow regulated by constantly tinkering with the game.
Often I hear a lot of baseball references during a football broadcast, but yesterday’s game was seemingly absent of them, except when one player, Duron Harmon, was called “The Closer” (and to be honest, that was a stretch). Last night they really kept it to football.
Troy Aikman is a very enthusiastic announcer. Sometimes it might be a little much, but it does bring excitement to the game. I wish some baseball announcers on the big stage brought that much excitement to their broadcasts.
Who would have thought that of all the baseball players featured on a commercial during the Super Bowl, the only one would be (that I saw at least) was A-Rod! How about that? (I know, Bo Jackson as well, but, well, Bo is a advertising icon and he was also, of course, a football player.)
The Patriots didn’t have their first penalty on offense until the third quarter and their first penalty on defense until the fourth quarter. When teams play good, crisp, fundamental football (or baseball), they better put themselves in a chance to win. Last year I felt there were times when the Yankees played sloppy baseball and put themselves in a chance to lose. I hope this year that they stress the fundamentals a great deal during spring training. It’s fun to watch great teams playing greatly.
We also saw the tremendous influence of a great coach in this game. Bill Belichick is the greatest of all time, or at least in the conversation. Baseball relies less on game plans and coaching, but Belichick’s success does show the tremendous influence great coaching has on the sport. I hope Aaron Boone becomes a Belichick type figure for the Yankees – innovative, smart, in control, and always a step (or three) ahead of the opposition.
During the game, I expected to see clips from past Super Bowls and other great football moments. This was the 50th anniversary of the Jets’ amazing win. (And, I never get tired of watching John Riggins just run over every guy trying to tackle him.) The game was absent of all of that and to me, it was missed. I think football needs to celebrate its past. Baseball definitely does this better than football right now. These sports have tremendous histories. They should be embraced, shown, and made part of the story.
Nothing to do with baseball, but I loved the First Responders commercials.
Man, the Patriots are good. Again, just forget they are Boston’s team and embrace the fact that they define themselves by excellence and winning. That is the Yankees’ same mission statement.
I love how when asked how he would get excited for another season, Tom Brady looked around with the trophy and the confetti flying and said, “How can this not motivate you?” I am motivated by moments like that. It is the sincere desire to be the best that has always motivated me. I try to be the best at whatever I do . This is what originally brought me to the Yankees. Just win. Win. It’s all about championships!
Football is now over. Spring Training is right around the corner. I can’t wait!
I hope 2019 is a glorious year for the Yankees! Let’s Go Yankees!!!!!