STRIKE ONE -- MLB VS. NFL DEPT.: My good friends Mike and Mike brought up my name on their show this week. And let me say first: Thanks for the shout-out.
Unfortunately, they brought up my name to try to prove me wrong on a point we've been debating since before Golic had ever heard the name Brady Quinn. Namely:
Which league has more competitive balance these days -- the NFL or Major League Baseball?
In his latest attempt to refute my argument that the correct answer is clearly baseball, my buddy, the always-astute Mike Greenberg, cited this factoid, courtesy of ESPN research guru Paul Carr:
The Cardinals are the eighth different team to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl in the last eight seasons -- a streak that equals the longest streak by either the National League or American League.
OK, so that's it? That's the entire argument designed to make me wave the white flag?
Boy, is that ever not going to work. Want some more convincing factoids? Read on:
First, let's compare final fours in these sports. Granted, the Cardinals are a new, shocking, L.A. Clippers-ish entry in the NFL. But what about the other three NFL semifinalists?
Eagles -- played in the Super Bowl four years ago
Steelers -- won the Super Bowl three years ago
Ravens -- won the Super Bowl eight years ago and have won seven postseason games in the '00s
OK, now let's compare that group to the MLB final four from this season. Obviously, the Red Sox are getting to be a regular. But how about the other three teams:
Dodgers -- hadn't won a postseason series in 20 years
Phillies -- hadn't won a postseason series in 15 years
Rays -- hadn't won a postseason series since the origin of the species
So ... ADVANTAGE BASEBALL
All right, now let's go back eight years, since that's the time frame Mike and Mike chose.
Teams that made the Super Bowl: (12) Steelers, Cardinals, Patriots, Giants, Bears, Colts, Seahawks, Eagles, Panthers, Bucs, Rams, Raiders
Teams that made the World Series: (13) Phillies, Rays, Red Sox, Rockies, Cardinals, Tigers, White Sox, Astros, Marlins, Yankees, Angels, Giants, Diamondbacks
Hmmm. Isn't that interesting?
So let's get this straight: Even though eight different NFC teams have played in the Super Bowl in the last eight seasons, baseball has still had more different teams make it to the World Series in that period than the NFL.
And, of course, baseball has had a much higher percentage of teams make it (43.3 percent) than football (37.5 percent).
In other words, once again ... ADVANTAGE BASEBALL.
So where's the evidence again that football has more balance than baseball? I'm not seeing it. So Greeny, Golic ... I love you guys, but it's time to go back to the factoid drawing board. You're going to need some way more compelling arguments to get me to concede this chapter of our never-ending debate. Nevertheless, thanks again for the shout-out.
Not only did they end their careers in the same game last October, but the end of Maddux's career came when (guess what?) Kent pinch-hit for Maddux.
If any of you loyal readers can give me another set of Hall of Famers whose career ended on the same day, with one pinch-hitting for the other, let me know -- at firstname.lastname@example.org.
STRIKE THREE -- MUSICAL CHAIRS DEPT.: Has anybody else noticed that the four teams that played in the League Championship Series have been busy this winter signing players away from one another?
Rocco Baldelli went from the Rays to the Red Sox.
Pat Burrell went from the Phillies to the Rays.
If the Dodgers had just signed Jason Varitek, this circle would have been complete.
Does all this seem unusual to you? It does to me. But if you can find another offseason that featured even more players doing more October-team swapping, drop us a note at email@example.com. Maybe it's just an optical transactions-column illusion.