Baseball Versus Football

George Carlin is a personal hero.

His LPs – and those of Frank Zappa – were the only ones my parents drew the needle across when they caught me listening.

Carlin shaped my sense of humor, spurred my love of language and hooked me on the whimsy of word play. He makes me laugh out loud.

He did a shorter version of this in his opening monologue as the host of the first Saturday Night Live:

Baseball is different from any other sport, very different.

For instance, in most sports you score points or goals. In baseball you score runs.

In most sports the ball, or object, is put in play by the offensive team. In baseball, the defensive team puts the ball in play and only the defense is allowed to touch the ball. In fact, in baseball if an offensive player touches the ball intentionally, he’s out; sometimes unintentionally, he’s out.

Also: In football, basketball, soccer, volleyball and all sports played with a ball, you score with the ball and in baseball the ball prevents you from scoring.

In most sports the team is run by a coach. In baseball, the team is run by a manager. And only in baseball does the manager or coach wear the same clothing the players do. If you’d ever seen John Madden in his Oakland Raiders uniform, you’d know the reason for this custom.

Now, I’ve mentioned football. Baseball & football are the two most popular spectator sports in this country. And as such, it seems they ought to be able to tell us something about ourselves and our values.

I enjoy comparing baseball and football:

Baseball is a nineteenth-century pastoral game.?Football is a twentieth-century technological struggle.

Baseball is played on a diamond, in a park. The baseball park!?

Football is played on a gridiron, in a stadium, sometimes called Soldier Field or War Memorial Stadium.

Baseball begins in the spring, the season of new life. Football begins in the fall, when everything’s dying.

In football you wear a helmet. In baseball you wear a cap.

Football is concerned with downs – what down is it? Baseball is concerned with ups – who’s up?

In football you receive a penalty. In baseball you make an error.

In football the specialist comes in to kick. In baseball the specialist comes in to relieve somebody.

Football has hitting, clipping, spearing, piling on, personal fouls, late hitting and unnecessary roughness.?Baseball has the sacrifice.

Football is played in any kind of weather: rain, snow, sleet, hail, fog…?In baseball, if it rains, we don’t go out to play.

Baseball has the seventh inning stretch.?Football has the two minute warning.

Baseball has no time limit: we don’t know when it’s gonna end – might have extra innings.?Football is rigidly timed and it will end even if we’ve got to go to sudden death.

In baseball, during the game, in the stands, there’s kind of a picnic feeling; emotions may run high or low, but there’s not too much unpleasantness.?

In football, during the game in the stands, you can be sure that at least twenty-seven times you’re capable of taking the life of a fellow human being.

And finally, the objectives of the two games are completely different:

In football, the object is for the quarterback, also known as the field general, to be on target with his aerial assault, riddling the defense by hitting his receivers with deadly accuracy in spite of the blitz, even if he has to use the shotgun.

With short bullet passes and long bombs, he marches his troops into enemy territory, balancing this aerial assault with a sustained ground attack that punches holes in the forward wall of the enemy’s defensive line.

In baseball the object is to go home! And to be safe! – I hope I’ll be safe at home!


P.S. George, when you see him, could you tell Groucho how much he meant to me too, please?


(With thanks to Bob & Dee)

Filed under: Venting


  1. I shall miss him too. That monologue and the 7 words you can never say on TV are among the best in modern day humor…

    Comment by Office Landlord — 6.24.2008 @ 2:03 pm

  2. That’s the real deal.

    It’s a tribute to his greatness that while this is good stuff even in print, it was so much better with his unique delivery. Reading through it, and having heard it replayed so many times, I hear him saying it and the emphasis on all the key words, even his facial expressions.

    Comment by J.P. — 6.25.2008 @ 2:13 pm

  3. Baseball vs Football. Well i prefer Baseball because as kid i never enjoyed the football game and my dad also.

    Comment by Baseball Fan — 12.30.2008 @ 2:16 am

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