This is an interesting time of the year because with a mere touch of the "recall" key on our television remote, we not only can switch games, we can switch sports and allow ourselves the opportunity for some deep thought.
Obviously, we prefer football to baseball. On baseball websites, they are saying the opposite. But let's not get so caught up in our mania for our chosen form of entertainment that we forbid ourselves a look at the qualities each possess.
Football is about aggressive behavior. It was described a long time ago as a microcosm of life in America, a description that didn't seem too strong then and may qualify as an understatement today. We are, absolutely, the most aggressive society on the face of the earth.
Baseball has always been about reserved behavior. It is less so the case today, but baseball is still considered to be a reserved game. Emotional displays are discouraged. Fans actually use the seat that accompanies the ticket they bought, and TV usually has to hunt to find the nut case who seems to be in every other seat at NFL games.
Monday night offered an opportunity for great comparison. At the same time the Colts and Bucs were locked in the most tense game of the Monday Night Football season, the Boston Red Sox were attempting to take another step toward ending the "Curse of the Bambino." One key on the remote; two channels. Play by play; pitch by pitch. Is this a great country or what?
Somewhere between a million touches on that "recall" key, it hit the worthless lifeform on his back that there was a major difference between these two sports that went beyond 90 feet between bases and 10 yards for a first down. And that difference became most distinct when Boston's Manny Ramirez hit a home run.
Ramirez swung, crushed the ball to leftfield, dropped his bat, stood and admired his work for a second, then walked slowly toward first base as he pointed toward his dugout. Ramirez wasn't even halfway to first base by the time the ball landed in the leftfield seats, and in the grand old game of baseball, that performance is an absolute no-no.
The announcers ripped Ramirez for his display. Meanwhile, the Oakland A's offered no reaction. Their response will be in the time-honored manner of the grand old game: Next spring, an Oakland pitcher will throw at a Boston player's head.
It's as certain to happen as the Red Sox losing to the Yankees. That's the way baseball is. It's a reserved game. There is no chest-thumping in baseball. Do it and you'll go down.
OK, so what's up with the Colts and Bucs? A quick touch of the "recall" key returns us to a sport where chest-thumping is considered to be one of the charms of the game. The NFL professes to discourage it, but how often do you see a penalty flag thrown for taunting?
The amazing thing is that football is the perfect retaliation game. If football was baseball, there wouldn't be enough quarterbacks to finish the season. But retaliation would seem to have left professional football with Chuck Bednarik. Strange, isn't it?
In Oakland, the crowd sat and ate hot dogs as they cheered. In Tampa, the crowd stood and howled continuously, even though the only truly important part of the game was a four-minute stretch at the end of regulation and one play in overtime.
What if you had to pick one? Football or baseball? Crazy people making you stand to see a game for which you bought a ticket for a seat? Or pseudo-aristocrats boring you with conversation about the house they're restoring or how they wished America still traveled by train?
Hmmm. Is there a sport that offers something in-between? How about something that combines the raw flavor of football with baseball's more sportsmanlike code of conduct? That would be this lifeform's choice.