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Baseball vs. Football

Written by: Peter Coolbaugh


The Orioles off season moves, the coaching staff changes and the renovations to Camden Yards will be topics for future entries. I am tabling all that for the moment while I turn my attention to another topic.

Quite often I hear from people and from the press that pro football is superior to baseball in every way: popularity, fan devotion, more interesting game, champions more varied, etc. As the ever staunch baseball defender, I did a little bit of research and wanted to post some of the results. And while the NFL does spank MLB in terms of TV viewership these days, when it comes to history and diversity of champs, MLB is on top.

First we shall examine the facts. Baseball first went pro in 1869. The formation of the National League was 1876, the American League in 1901, and the first World Series was 1903. Only 2x (1904, 1994) was there no series. So to date, there have been 106 World Series played.

The NFL was founded in 1920 though there was not a championship game until 1933. Plus with the existence of the AFL and other competitors, the Super Bowl as we know it did not exist until January of 1967, when the Packers won Super Bowl I. So for the sake of the stats I will list below, we are going to talk about the Super Bowl era and not the various versions of title games that existed prior to that.

So here we go. World Series vs. Super Bowl

World Series played to date - 106
Super Bowls played to date - 44

Current MLB teams - 30
Current NFL teams - 32

Teams that have won the Word Series - 22
Teams that won a Super Bowl - 18

Teams that have played in World Series - 28
Teams that played in a Super Bowl - 28

Teams that have not won a World Series - 8
Teams that have not won a Super Bowl - 14

No World Series appearances - 2
No Super Bowl appearances - 4

% of teams that have not won a World Series - 27%
% of teams that have not won a Super Bowl - 44%

% of teams that have not appeared in the World Series - 6.7%
% of teams that have not appeared in a Super Bowl - 12.5%


Now, we all know that MLB has been around a lot longer and certainly has a lot more championships to their credit. But we hear it all the time that the Yankees dominate, they buy their players without a salary cap, and the post season is littered with the same players year after year. Bud Selig - and I am not a fan of his - has stressed that the revenue sharing has helped other clubs in smaller markets become profitable and make deep postseason runs.

Sure, the Yankees have 27 titles and the Cardinals are in 2nd place with 10 titles. But at least everyone is getting a shot. Only 8 teams do not have championships to their credit as of today and only 2 of those (Washington and Seattle) have never made it to the Series.

Now we come to the NFL who claims to be more "open" when it comes to playoff contenders though there seem to be a lot more dynasties in the NFL than in MLB. Why is that? How can you explain that 3 clubs account for 16 titles out of 44 (San Francisco, Pittsburgh, and Dallas)?
Or how can the league claim balance when the NFC won more than a dozen straight titles at one point, many from the NFC East. To date, NFC East teams account for 1/4 (11 of 44) Super Bowl titles. Dallas has 5, the NY Giants have 3, and Washington has 3. And great (well, formerly great) franchises like Cleveland and Detroit have never even been to the title game since the Super Bowl came into existence.

Sure, the Super Bowl era is a fraction of the World Series era. But it appears from my reading of the numbers that baseball is at least somewhat more unpredictable than the NFL. Heck, they allowed once franchise to cheat its way to 3 titles in 4 years and didn't even strip them away after the cheating was exposed.

My money still goes to MLB. No network wanted to see the Texas vs. San Francisco World Series since the ratings would be low. But for purists who liked seeing the Rangers get there for the first time and the Giants win it for the first time since arriving on the West Coast, it was a dream match up.

As with anything in sports, you can never tell what will transpire. So a lot of my opinions here may drop like a lead balloon in the eyes of some, but I stick by them.

And here is hoping that the Philly Eagles never win a title in my lifetime. You thought I would say Boston Red Sox, didn't you? But at the moment, the Eagles are the pro team I hate the most on this earth.

Anyway - back to real Orioles news soon.

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