(No, this isn't a George Carlin routine. This is serious.)
Every football team spends an entire week preparing and studying and game-planning for its opponent. Every team watches video, examines statistics, boils down tendencies. Coaches and players might -- might -- get a day to take a mental and physical break but otherwise go from a game to the film room to practice to the film room to the meeting room to practice to the film room to the meeting room to practice to a game. Coaches see their families about as often as their families see the mailman.
Football teams have a week.
Baseball teams have a day. Sometimes they have two.
Every defensive player in football has to figure out what the team with the ball is going to do. He has to draw upon his studies and his preparation and anticipate, to the best of his ability, the strategy the team with the ball is going to employ. He then has to use his natural athletic ability and the work he's done in the gym throughout the offseason to thwart whatever it is the team with the ball is trying to do.
Every offensive player in baseball has to figure out what the guy with the ball -- the pitcher -- is going to do. He has to draw upon his studies and his preparation and anticipate, to the best of his ability, the strategy the guy with the ball is going to employ. He then has to use his natural athletic ability and thet work he's done in the gym throughout the offseason to thwart whatever it is the guy with the ball is trying to do.
Football players have somewhere between 10 and 30 seconds, most of the time, to assess the situation based on the personnel on the field and the way that personnel is lined up and the way the quarterback is gesticulating at the line of scrimmage. If a wide receiver goes in motion, there usually are three or four seconds for a safety or a linebacker to bark out final instructions and make final adjustments.
Baseball players have less than a second.
Baseball players watch the pitcher wind and see the way the ball comes out of the pitcher's hand -- something most pitchers, if they're any good, do precisely the same way every single time. They then have to look at the spin of the ball and try to gauge the speed of the ball and decide if it's a fastball or a curveball and if it's a ball or a strike and if it's worth swinging at or not. If they hesitate for even as long as it took you to read the word "hesitate," they're toast.
Many have hypothesized that football has supplanted baseball as the nation's most popular sport because baseball lacks action, takes too long to resolve its confrontations. Baseball, many have said and will continue to say, is too slow.
Maybe it's just the opposite. Maybe baseball is too fast.
The above thoughts made this writer wonder about something: Isn't it interesting that the team with the ball is considered the "offense" in every sport but baseball?
The Bill James-fueled Moneyball revolution has changed the way many baseball people look at outs. Outs, many now believe, are a more important currency than runs. The more difficult it is for a team to record outs, the more difficult it will be for that team to win. Scoring a run, in a lot of ways, is a byproduct of avoiding outs.
That's not a new thought. Many have made that point before.
But here's something that might be a new thought: Might baseball have screwed up the ideas of "offense" and "defense" long ago? Might it be more appropriate to consider the team trying to record outs the "offense" and the team trying to prevent outs the "defense"?
Would that change anything about the way you look at the game?