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June 08, 2022

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I recall being somewhat startled by the mention of Gil Hodges in the 1989 movie FIELD OF DREAMS. Initially I thought that it was out of place. But thinking harder about the game my grandfather played and loved above all others and helped to teach me (he gave me a catcher’s mitt, which I still have but never used because I was a third baseman), I soon realized why Jacques Barzun came up with this observation: “Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball.” His quote surfaced in 1954 when baseball was still the reigning sport of the USA. And comedian George Carlin’s famous delineation of the differences between baseball and football, today’s vastly more popular sport, still rings in my ears. My own late father made this observation to me: “It used to be that Sunday was reserved for God. Now it’s reserved for football.” I wonder if Americans right now were faced with a choice between the two, would anyone pick God? I can hear the chatter now: “I love God, but his touchdowns-to-interceptions ratio is terrible.”

Thanks for this terrific comment, Dr Earle.

What George Carlin wrote:

<<<
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! >>>>

Always loved this; Carlin at his best. I'm reminded of Andy Griffith's "What It Was Was Football." Haven't heard it (or thought about it) in years. Wonder if it holds up.

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"Lively and affectionate" Publishers Weekly

Radio

I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark


from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman

ThisWayOut
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