The NFL is the most popular league in North American history. Baseball is in relative decline.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t like football. I’m just saying America has bad taste.
Let’s recap recent events in old and current American pastimes:
The NFL had an unsightly week, which is to say the NFL was in business.
The Cleveland Browns have given the most guaranteed money in league history to a quarterback, Deshaun Watson, accused by two dozen women of sexual assault. The NFL hired a judge to discipline him and she gave him a six-game suspension.
The owners of the Browns later released a statement claiming Watson felt remorse even though he never expressed remorse. The Browns also structured Watson’s contract so that he would not pay a heavy financial price for allegedly sexually assaulting women.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, usually a weak leader who imposes weak disciplines, was appropriately offended and appealed the penalty, hoping for a one-year suspension and a hefty fine.
Another NFL owner, Stephen Ross of the Dolphins, was punished for tampering with Saints coach Sean Payton and Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady. He was also accused by former Dolphins coach Brian Flores of offering cash rewards for lost games to improve the team’s draft status.
Washington owner Dan Snyder hid on his yacht to avoid a congressional subpoena before agreeing to testify about the toxic workplace he created. Perhaps the greatest coach in NFL history, Bill Belichick, has cheated so often his Hall of Fame bust will wear a disguise.
At least the NFL provides on-field entertainment. In August, that means long, boring, hot practices. In Eagan, it also means a rookie head coach urging reporters and fans to keep what they see a secret because there’s no way to beat the Green Bay Packers if they know you could. throw the ball to Dalvin Cook.
While the NFL maintained its popularity despite itself, baseball won the week.
Creating a firm trade deadline produced the kind of speculation and action that rocked the sport from its scorching lethargy.
Amid a series of stunning moves, Juan Soto, one of the greatest young hitters in baseball history, was traded from recent champion Washington to the San Diego Padres for a remarkable number of prospects. .
The Padres and Twins, two mid-market teams historically protective of prospects, were more aggressive than the Mets, Dodgers and White Sox – three major market contenders.
The Padres traded for Soto, closest star Josh Hader and slugger Josh Bell. They will play alongside Manny Machado and, once healthy, Fernando Tatis, Jr.
The Padres have spent a lot, in money and in prospects, to build the most entertaining and flamboyant team in baseball. The Twins traded a bunch of prospects for three pitchers and a receiver, two of whom — starter Tyler Mahle and closest match Jorge Lopez — are also under contract for 2023. Lopez doesn’t become a free agent until 2025.
The Twins’ moves didn’t drastically alter their statistical projections to become a World Series team, but they rewarded an overperforming group and sent notice to a jaded fan base.
Baseball at its finest is unmatched for intricate drama. Baseball at its worst is a summer song.
“We are here every day,” said Twins manager Rocco Baldelli. “Coherent is probably how you would describe our game. In many ways, the trade deadline turns that on its head, in an exciting way that produces energy – for the fans, but also for us in this clubhouse. .
“I mean, it was a great day and it built a lot of confidence in that group over there in the clubhouse.”
World Series titles cannot be the only measure of a franchise. Playing meaningful games year after year is just as important.
Even the death of Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully served as a reminder of baseball’s presence in American life. Only in baseball can a melodious voice become a daily gift.