"Baseball begins in the spring, the season of new life.
Football begins in the fall, when everything is dying."
— From comedian George Carlin’s "Baseball vs. Football"
Another football season begins this weekend, but something doesn’t seem quite right. It never does. As always, the old George Carlin routine comes to mind.
A year ago this month, the Baseball Hall of Fame brought its traveling exhibit, "Baseball as America," to the Bay Area for a four-month stay at the Oakland Museum. Last month at the same venue, the Pacific Coast League Historical Society held its ever-popular Northern California reunion.
Football never has such events — at least of that magnitude.
Baseball has Bill James, Thorn and Palmer, and other stats gurus. Football doesn’t know what a stats guru is.
Baseball has SABR — the Society for American Baseball Research. Football has no such equivalent.
Baseball is international, reaching age groups from kids to adults. The Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa., comes to mind. But there are many other tournaments. Five years ago, a group of East Bay high schoolers calling themselves the Oakland Rattlers made a rare trip to Havana, Cuba. Every summer, an Alameda-based all-star team heads to something called the World Tournament. This year’s tournament was in Osaka, Japan. Next year’s will be in Culiacan and Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico. Also, a team of San Leandro players recently won a tournament in Puerto Rico.
Hawaii, Brazil, Australia, China, Taiwan. East Bay baseball players have gone to tournaments in all these places as well.
As for football. Well, NFL Europe doesn’t hold up.
Speaking strictly of the high schools, baseball has tournaments. The Willie Stargell Classic in Alameda, the West Coast Classic in the South Bay and the Bishop Gorman Desert Classic of Las Vegas are three that come to mind.
The nature of football does not allow for tournaments.
Baseball has a postseason. So does football. True, California high school baseball does not have a state championship. But so what? This year’s new state football "title" games are a mere contrivance.
Besides, baseball wraps up at the end of the school year, giving way to summer ball. Football starts at the beginning of the school year and ends at the onset of winter.
Truth is, despite baseball’s best efforts to self-destruct at the big-league level, the sport still thrives. Though it might not be the national pastime it once was, baseball honors its history better than any other sport and remains more ingrained in the national psychology.
Football is pretty much about a team’s last game.