Lowell Cohn: I'll take the ballpark over the gridiron

  • Oakland Athletics batter Coco Crisp grimaces as he walks back to the dugout after being struck out by Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander during Game 2 of the ALDS in Oakland on Saturday, October 5, 2013. (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)

Baseball has advantages over football. Baseball is probably a better game.

I believe what I just wrote, even though I love covering the NFL and wrote a book about Bill Walsh, by far the most fascinating person I've met in more than three decades of covering sports.

I'll say it again: Baseball has advantages over football.

Baseball players are average-size people like you and me, although there always are exceptions. I am not aware of one position in baseball where a player must weigh 300 pounds. I am not aware of one position in baseball where a player is considered "undersized" if he weighs 260.

Football encourages — needs — men to be giants, to be oversized, oh, let's face it, to be abnormal. The A's can play Eric Sogard, who looks like a librarian. On a football team he might be a kicker, but he could be nothing else except water boy. Coco Crisp is a normal-looking adult. Away from the ballpark you would have no idea what he does for a living. Can you say the same about Justin Smith?

You think PEDs are rampant in baseball? I've often wondered how so many NFL players grow so large. They look like hormone-fed cattle. Don't you suspect PEDs are part of the deal in the NFL, at least for certain positions?

Baseball is for the common man — and woman. It is not a specialized game. I take that back. It has become more specialized, but it is nothing like football where everyone is a specialist. A guy plays offense or defense, not both. A guy plays on first down but not third down. And on and on.

In baseball, sure, there are closers and set-up men and they are specialists. But the ethic of baseball — there is an ethic — is you have to play the field to earn the right to hit.

Right now, you're thinking designated hitter and that explodes my argument. Only in the American League, which uses that abomination of a semi-position. The DH always has been a phony deal and it violates the baseball ethic because the DH does not earn the right to bat. He sits in the clubhouse pedaling a stationary bike.

In baseball, what you see is real. That is not always the case in football.

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