|Tuesday, January 28
Updated: January 30, 3:24 AM ET
The World Series simply rocks!
By Jim Caple
You know why the Super Bowl gets such huge ratings? Because it's played on a Sunday afternoon when most everyone can watch it, it's scheduled well ahead of time so everyone can plan their parties around it and it is so endlessly hyped that you feel like you're committing treason not to watch it.
But does that make the Super Bowl better than the World Series? Of course not. That's like saying "American Idol'' is better than "The Sopranos'' because more people watch it.
Baseball fans know better. They know that ratings are the only area where the Super Bowl surpasses the World Series. So in the middle of wondering how many underwear models you'll see wrestling during the big game, here are XXXVII reasons the World Series is better than the Super Bowl.
1: Babe Ruth's called shot.
2: Hometown fans. The World Series is played in the teams' cities where local fans paint their faces, stomp their feet, bang their thunderstix, fold their hands in prayer, exchange hugs and high-fives, deafen the opposing team with their roar and generally create a true sense of community that is too seldom seen in modern society. The Super Bowl is played at a neutral site where corporate executives sip their wine, sit on their hands, exchange business cards and create fantasy expense reports that bear no relationship to reality.
3: Classic games. The World Series rarely let down fans, giving us games so exciting, so compelling and so memorable that you only need to hear Game 7 of the 1991 World Series or Game 6 of the 1975 World Series and you begin smiling and nodding your head. The Super Bowl so regularly disappoints -- the average margin of victory is 16 points, the equivalent of two touchdowns, two extra-points and a safety -- that after 36 years the only moment that prompts a smile is the memory of Britney Spear's pants.
4: Yogi Berra leaping into Don Larsen's arms.
5: Less hype. The World Series often goes from the playoffs to Game 1 with a single day in between, leaving the media barely enough time to provide the starting lineup before the first pitch. The Super Bowl pre-game hype occasionally drags on for two entire weeks, leaving the media so much time it winds up writing about video game recreations (that are often more interesting than the game itself).
6: Commercials. What was your favorite commercial from last year's World Series? Can't think of one? No surprise. The World Series relies on the games to hold your attention, not the advertisers. The Super Bowl knows that the commercials are the best part of the day because the game is usually so dull.
7: Extra innings: The World Series is so hard fought that it often goes into bonus panels, where it is likely to end on one swing of the bat. No Super Bowl has ever gone into overtime -- though the halftime show often does.
8: Carlton Fisk waving his home run fair.
9: No halftime shows. As Winston Churchill once said of an opponent's written argument, the very length of the document precluded its reading. Even on the few occasions where the Super Bowl is mildly interesting for the first half, the overblown and overlong halftime show brings it to a halt, disrupting the normal rhythm of a football game.
10: The excitement builds. The World Series plays out over an entire week, providing us with daily soap operas and steadily increasing the drama and tension. Will the Angels pitch to Barry Bonds? Will Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling hold together for three games each? Will Derek Jeter step to the plate with a bat named "Wonderboy"? By the final innings, we're wondering if our cuticles will ever grow back. By halftime of the Super Bowl we're wondering whether we still have time to catch "Lord of the Rings'' at the local multiplex.
11: The ceremonial first pitch. President Bush's strike to Jorge Posada before Game 3 of the 2001 World Series was an inspiring moment that showed the world that the country still stood strong and that baseball remained our national pastime. The only pitch thrown at the Super Bowl is when the commissioner tells the host city to build another stadium or else.
12: Fisk, Maz, Gibby, Kirby Puckett, Derek Jeter. No Super Bowl has ever ended on a winning touchdown. World Series games have ended on home runs often enough to reward even impatient fans and seldom enough to still seem magical.
13: The Happiest Event on Earth. Super Bowl winners get asked where they're going after they win, and they reply, "Disneyland.'' The last World Series champs were already there.
14: Jack Morris stomping out to the mound for the 10th inning of Game 7.
15: Hollywood. Hollywood may give us "Freddy Got Fingered'' and "Eight Wild and Crazy Nights'' but even it knows which event is superior. Baseball movies end with teams winning the pennant and reaching the World Series. Football movies end with terrorists trying to blow up the Super Bowl (Black Sunday, The Sum of All Fears).
16: Weather. The Super Bowl is always played in a sunny, warm city or a domed stadium protected from the elements, which provides bland weather. The World Series is played in all types of weather -- warm California evenings, chilly New York nights, damp, rainy St. Louis, cold Cleveland snowstorms -- that affect the game and make each unique.
17: Boxscores. Sure, NFL films can replay the game with slo-motion film, sound effects and music to make even the Vikings 32-14 loss to Oakland seem somewhat interesting (pity they don't use those tricks during the actual real broadcast) but baseball doesn't need such gimmicks. Simply looking at the boxscore lines -- or E-Buckner -- brings the entire game back.
18: Willie Mays' catch.
19: Kirk Gibson pumping his fist.
20: Bill Mazeroski waving his cap around the bases.
21: Fathers and sons. Oakland's Anthony Dorsett, Jr. is a football rarity -- an NFL player who is the son of an NFL player. But that happens all the time in baseball, as shown by Barry Bonds and Scott Spiezio last fall. Spiezio was even trained for his World Series heroics by his father, Ed, who played in the 1967 Series. Every day's practice ended with father and son envisioning a World Series scenario. Scott would step into the left batters box and Ed would shout, "This is the seventh game of the World Series, the bottom of the ninth, bases loaded, two out and your down by a run.'' Imagine the Dorsett's recreating a Super Bowl moment. They would bang helmets and bodies until one had a concussion and the other a torn ACL.
22: The Seventh Inning Stretch. World Series gives us 50,000 spirited fans standing without prompting to sing our real national anthem, "Take Me out to the Ballgame." The Super Bowl gives us *NSYNC singing "Walk This Way.''
23: Stadiums. Has the Super Bowl ever been played in a stadium that was notable for anything other than its ticket prices? Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, McCovey ... often, the stage itself is as dramatic as the World Series.
24: Mr. October. Super Bowl heroes are named the MVP and then forgotten. World Series heroes have entire months named after them.
25: Imitation. The World Series is such that other events name themselves for it. The College World Series. The Little League World Series. If someone tried to tie its event to the Super Bowl, the NFL would sue for licensing fees.
26: It's the World Series for a reason. It may be Super, but the NFL's championship is largely of interest only to American fans. Not so the World Series. Ignorant fans get upset because baseball has the temerity to call its championship series a World Series without including the champions of other leagues. But they're not seeing it right. It is the World Series because the world is represented. Two Canadian teams have won the Series, of course, while Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, South Korea and Japan have all had their native sons perform on the stage.
27: True value. Sure, when a team wins a Super Bowl, its city gets pretty excited. But a World Series is so precious that when a team doesn't win one (the Red Sox) or even reach one (the Cubs), it becomes an integral part of the city's identity -- and its own personal punchline.
28: Comebacks. Rarely does one team ever rally from a substantial deficit to win the Super Bowl. The World Series has so many comebacks that there is even an official mascot -- the Rally Monkey -- who presided over Anaheim's comeback from a five-run deficit.
29: Ticket prices. While expensive, World Series tickets are still within reach of many fans. At $400 face value, Super Bowl tickets are prohibitively expensive but it makes little difference since the average fan never even gets a chance to buy them -- the tickets are already distributed to corporate sponsors, city officials, players, ticket brokers, media bigwigs, celebrities and other special friends.
30: Bob Gibson fanning 17 batters.
31: Joe Carter taking Mitch Williams deep.
32: Reggie Jackson's three home runs.
33: Al Gionfriddo's catch.
34: Derek Jeter's home run.
35: The ball rolling between Bucker's legs.
36: Shorter games. Baseball receives all the criticism for lasting too long, but which game took longer to play, the most recent World Series game or the most recent Super Bowl? That's right, the Super Bowl.
XXXVII: No Roman numerals. World Series moments are easy to talk about because the year it happened isn't some state secret. When did Don Larsen pitch his perfect game? The 1956 World Series. When did the ball roll between Buckner's legs? The 1986 World Series. That isn't the case with the Super Bowl, which disguises its year in a numerical system abandoned so many centuries ago that Rich Gannon was still a rookie. Even if you remember what year Thurman Thomas missed the first two plays because he couldn't find his helmet (1992), I challenge you to tell me what Super Bowl it was (XXVI) without performing mathematics more involved than the quarterback efficiency formula.
Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com.