Differences between football and baseball

Published 2:55 pm Tuesday, July 18, 2023

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Born in New York, NY in 1937, George Denis Patrick Carlin died 71 years later, but not before becoming one of the most beloved stand-up comics of all time.

Even though comedy is supposed to make you laugh, it’s also thought-provoking and Carlin was a master of doing just that.

From his humble beginnings in 1959 as one-half of a comedy duo on a morning radio show, Carlin kept the laughs coming all the way to the very end of his life. He had an opinion about everything.

Other than him portraying “Al Sleet – the hippy-dippy weatherman”, one of my favorite Carlin routines came in 1984 entitled “The difference between football and baseball.”

For some odd reason, that particular routine was conjured up within the deep, dark confines of my brain last week when I was watching the Home Run Derby, part of the festivities held at the annual Major League Baseball All-Star game. Maybe it leaked out of my brain when my lovely wife was asking me to explain, for perhaps the 100th time (okay, that number may be a bit exaggerated), why the home runs hit in the first round do not carry over to subsequent rounds. It was at that moment I said to her: “You don’t know anything about baseball, do ya?” To which she replied: “No, and that goes for football too.”

So, without further ado, the following is George Carlin’s “The difference between football and baseball” which was first performed in 1984:

“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. 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 and 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 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!”

As it is with any of Carlin’s stand-up routines over the course of his legendary career, his “delivery” is better seen live or on a video than read here in my column. That’s why I would suggest logging onto YouTube and searching for the difference between football and baseball. It’s worth three minutes of your day.

And you might be asking yourself was George Carlin a baseball fan or just made a boatload of money making jokes about the game. I found that answer online. It came from his only child, his daughter, Kelly Carlin. She said her dad, born in New York, played stickball like all the other kids of his generation.

“He was one of those kids who loved the Brooklyn Dodgers, who broke his heart by moving to Los Angeles,” Kelly Carlin wrote on June 15, 2018.

Yep, you gotta believe that George Carlin was a baseball man deep down inside.

Cal Bryant is the Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at cal.bryant@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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