However, I did watch the end of the game, and, while waiting through the post-game for an episode of the Office, I heard Al Michaels say: "football has become the national pastime." I couldn't believe it, I did a double take, I did some research, was Michaels serious? (Yes, he said so again in an actual magazine) The NFL has sent around a press release attempting to take on the mantle of "national pastime". One of the funniest men in modern media raised the issue regularly. The paper of record is even covering this.
So: is it true? Is football the game for America? Is baseball passe?
No. Because if it were Joe Buck would be right about something, and that cannot be allowed.
If football were the national pastime wouldn't we care about who abuses steroids and prosecute them to the full extent of the law and debate them endlessly and castigate them every time their name turns up in the press like Bonds/Clemens, etc.?
If football were the national pastime wouldn't people be able to name some of the big statistical leaders?
If football were the national pastime wouldn't our great cliche be: "as American as apple pie and football"?
If football were the national pastime wouldn't legions of youngsters be fondly recalling the sepia toned memories of the time they first played or watched a football game?
Yes it would be, but no it is not.
While many non-obsessed Americans can point to Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth as the three most prolific home run hitters of all time (though Barry may have used steroids to do it, and Ruth almost definitely used the blood of virgins). I've never heard casual fans discuss the all time great sack leaders in football. Or rushing, receiving or passing leaders for that matter.
I've never heard of apple pie with your Super Bowl Spread. You know what food goes with football? Cardboard nachos with synthetic cheese...heathens.
I can't remember my first football anything, but I remember a game at the dome, I remember little league, I remember all kinds of things and I'm not alone. Even the embittered Carlin, actually loved baseball (the Brooklyn boy waxes rhapsodic when it comes to Roy Campanella).
If football wants to trot out its wealth, or the fact that it's turned Sundays into a day wholly in their honor, fine. If they want to use their massive marketing juggernaut to further their jihad against baseball, fine. If Al Michaels and Joe Buck and tonnages of synthetic-cheese-munching dittoheads want to extoll the power of football as the game of modern America, fine!
I'll just declare independence in the name of Baseballania, and say proudly: Pbbbbbbbbbbbbbbt!