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Thursday, August 09, 2007

Golf vs. Baseball

When I was younger, baseball was it. I played it, watched it, and memorized records, boxscores, and stats. My recall of baseball data was (and still is to an extent) on the verge of freakish.

Somewhere in the '90s, I lost interest. I can't link my falling away to anything specific like the strike or 'roids. My guess as to what happened was that I began to relate less and less with the players as the years rolled on. And, other things in my life become a bigger priority. I didn't like baseball less, but other activities and interests moved it out of the spotlight.

While baseball was on the downswing, my interest in golf was on the upswing. I began playing when I was about nine, but after college I became a bigger golf fan than a baseball fan. Hence, the golf blog and my quest to play 1,000 different courses by the time I'm seventy.

Barry Bonds' 756th home run got me thinking about the virtues of both sports and how they compare using some metrics that I made up. Here's a little list that might spark some debate:

Baseball: Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Sandy Koufax, Nolan Ryan, Cal Ripken, Willie Mays, Cy Young, Ty Cobb, Mike Schmidt, Pete Rose, Derek Jeter, Jackie Robinson, Lou Gehrig, Walter Johnson, Roger Clemens, Bob Gibson, Tony Gwynn, Ichiro Suzuki, Alex Rodriguez, Greg Maddux, Roy Campanella, Yogi Berra, Jim Palmer, Steve Carlton, Tom Seaver, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Carl Yaztremski, Mariano Rivera, Reggie Jackson, Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Willie McCovey, Harmon Killebrew, Whitey Ford, Roberto Clemente, Stan Musial, Joe DiMaggio, and Hank Aaron.
Golf: Bobby Jones, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson, Lee Trevino, Gary Player, Johnny Miller, Jimmy Demaret, Sam Snead, Gene Sarazen, Byron Nelson, Walter Hagen, Ben Hogan, Greg Norman, Nick Faldo, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Peter Thomson, Billy Casper, Seve Ballesteros, Bernhard Langer, Jackie Burke, Charlie Sifford, Chi-Chi Rodriguez, Vijay Singh, Tommy Armour, Old Tom and Young Tom Morris, Francis Ouimet, Ben Crenshaw, Ray Floyd, and Harry Vardon.
Verdict: Even with the likes of Cobb, Rose, Bonds, McGwire, and Sosa on the list, baseball gets the nod in the Heroes category. Golf has a storied history, but too many of the baseball players are larger than life and far more well-known to the common man than the golfers.

Baseball: Pete Rose's hits - 4,256; Cy Young's wins - 511; Joe DiMaggio's hitting streak - 56; Barry Bonds' home runs - 756*; Rickey Henderson's stolen bases - 1,406 career and 130 single season; Nolan Ryan's strikeouts - 5,714; Ty Cobb's batting average - .366
Golf: Sam Snead's wins - 81; Jack Nicklaus' majors - 18; Jack Nicklaus' Masters wins - 6; Jack Nicklaus' runner-ups in majors - 19; Colin Montgomerie's Ryder Cup singles record - undefeated in eight appearances (I had to throw Monty a bone)
Verdict: No sport can match baseball in the record department. Even Barry Bonds' hijacking of Hank Aaron's home run record cannot diminish the sheer scope and variety of baseball's records.

Baseball: Most people don't play baseball beyond high school.
Golf: Most people don't play golf until after high school and can keep playing well into their seventies and sometimes into their nineties.
Verdict: There's no question golf is the better sport to play for many years. And even though it's an individual sport, golf is also more social than baseball.

Baseball: A baseball game can be found on TV almost any time of day or night for nine months straight. It's decent to watch on TV, but a much better experience in person.
Golf: Golf is mostly a Thursday through Sunday TV affair, and it's exciting to watch if you know what you're watching and you have an interest in the players. The majors are usually more intriguing to watch than the regular Tour stops. In person, golf is a lot of fun, but the opportunities to go to a tournament are limited for most Americans.
Verdict: Tie. Baseball is better in person, and golf is better on the boob tube.

Big Events
Baseball: Baseball has three big events. They are the All-Star Game, the playoffs, and the World Series. The All-Star Game used to be fun, but now it's kind of a joke. The playoffs are usually compelling, but I don't like the wild-card feature. I think it's a bit forced, though I can stand it. The World Series is great, but if big market teams aren't in it, I usually tune out.
Golf: Golf has been trying to manufacture big events like the World Golf Championships and the FedEx Cup, a playoffs for golfers. No matter how hard they try, these gimmicks will never equal the prestige of the four majors. In addition to the majors, there is the Ryder Cup and the Presidents Cup. This is a lethal combination.
Verdict: The World Series and the playoffs are the only baseball games worth watching anymore (can you say, "overexposure"?), and there's nothing like the Ryder Cup or the majors in golf. Golf by a hair.

Baseball: As long as we're not talking about pharmaceutical technology, baseball has stayed purer than golf. However, the new ballparks are pretty homer-friendly no matter what kinds of sticks they're swinging.
Golf: There have always been advances in golf technology, and the courses have been changed over time to accommodate it. However, the golf ball might be just a little too hot for the pros. For the amateurs, it makes the game more fun.
Verdict: Baseball has done a better job reining in technology and keeping the playing field level.

So baseball wins by a score of 3 1/2 to 2 1/2. I guess this little exercise didn't create the result I was looking for.

What do you think?


Anonymous David Leadbetter said...

I think you're comparing apple to oranges and what works for me doesn't work for you. I watch baseball almost every night because I enjoy the way the game unfolds. I watch golf everyday because I enjoy watching the sport as much as playing it.

While I can't stand them as commentators, hearing Joe Buck and Tim McCarver means its playoff baseball and after laboring thru a 162 game season, the dreadful HR derby and All-Star game and subsequent days off its time to bust out the foamy finger, load up the frige with HighLife and order a couple pies and wings - its why you love the game.

In that same context, you know its Major week when the Golf Channel is 24/7 of past tournaments, Golf Central and Live From . . . Can you believe a guy with a GOLF BLOG doesn't have The Golf Channel?!?! That's like being a priest and not having a rosery. How great are the Tuesday-Wednesday press conferences, waiting for some idiot to tell the world Tiger is vulnerable because he's driving erratic making pars from other fairways, parking lots, on top of clubhouses or even off the golf course property! Please. Puh-lease, just mention that Tiger is off his game and he'll bury you and the field by 8 strokes. The guy is like what Hulk Hogan was to WWF back in the day. The Hulkster would be getting his head smashed in by Rowdy Piper with a folding chair and the Ultimate Warrior would be dropping elbows on his chest from off the top rope but all the Hulk needed was to feed of all those Hulk-a-maniacs and he'd pull himself up off the floor, shaking his golden mane and cupping his hand to his ear - thats all it took for him to unleash holy hell on any opponent. It was over for anyone once that happened - they'd drop to their knees and beg the Hulkster not to pick them up and give them the back breaker or get the neck-toss out of the ring and into the 7th row. That's Tiger - without the yellow underoose. Go ahead, tell him he's washed up, he's not hitting the ball well, his putting isn't what it used to be. Or the best yet - he's "playing with inferior equipment." Hey Phil, Woods could take you with a wooden wood and a whiffle ball. I double dog dare you to say crazy things to the world press. Let me know how well that works out for you (cough cough) Rory and Stephen Ames. Heck, Amens'd has now become an adjective on how bad one might get there arses handed to them.

PS - J5, I've given you advice to help you with more consistency off the tee (two years ago) and you still continue to do the same move. And that advice was free. My second advice is to get a lesson at the local range.

12:33 PM  
Anonymous Larry Craig said...

So I'm in the men's room at Union Station and the guy in the stall beside me starts taping his toes and playing footsie with me. I got his phone number.

9:11 AM  
Anonymous Cindy said...

Sometimes it's not the prettiest girl in class that you marry...your score might reflect your fantasy, not your reality...

12:16 AM  
Blogger Duke said...

I'd say golf will win out over baseball simply because if you took two youngsters , one started to play golf and the other played baseball, after five years who would have less injuries and able to play for another five years. Golf will win out each time.

12:15 PM  
Blogger BetterGolf said...

Wow! How long did it take you to do that post?

10:04 PM  
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