Talking Baseball

Your weekday baseball fix. Some days.

Posted by Ben K. on Monday, February 02, 2004

A Baseball Fan's View of Levitra

Many of you might load this page today, look at it, and say, "Why is Ben posting? Is he kidnapping all of the Red Sox fans?" I just want to allay your fears. I haven't kidnapped anyone. Mike is deservedly celebrating the Patriots' Super Bowl victory over the Carolina Panthers. Since the rest of my colleagues are all New Englanders, I volunteered to fill in for today. Mike will post on Tuesday.

That being said, I want to congratulate the Patriots on their victory. I've been rooting for them to win this year. Some of you might say that's sacrilegious. As a die-hard Yankee fan, can I really root for a team from New England to win in any sport? As long as the Red Sox continue to lose, I'll gladly root for the other teams in New England. Considering how much more I care about baseball than anything else, if the sports gods reward New England with football championships instead of baseball championships for the rest of my life, that's ok with me.

Alright, now that I've pissed off half of my readers, I'm going to get into the subject of my post. Since Ivan Rodriguez has, as of 11:22 pm on Sunday night, yet to sign with the Detroit Tigers, I'll save my analysis of the Tigers' situation until my next post. Now, I would like to analyze a few of the non-sports related aspects of the Super Bowl and close with my thoughts on the competition between baseball and football perpetrated so tastelessly, tactlessly, and falsely by Mike Ditka and Levitra tonight.

I would first like to award Worst Super Bowl Pun to the AP story I linked to in the first paragraph of this post. Saying "Houston, we have a champion" is about the worst way ever to start a story. I consider myself a journalist. As I've alluded to in other posts, I'm the editor in chief of my college newspaper. I've been a reporter for almost seven full years now, and as I apply for summer internships at various papers around the country, I like to think that I know a little something about the art of journalism. Granted, the Associated Press is a bit different than the personal reporting that I do, but still. If I were to see an article with a lead like that, I would stop reading, send it back to the writer, and tell him or her to come up with something just a little bit better. That phrase is one of the most clich├ęd phrases in our culture. Since Apollo 13 came out in 1995, it's been killed. While it won't be the last we here of that pun, it should be buried for ever.

Now, what good would a post on different aspects of the Super Bowl be without some mention of the Janet Jackson-Justin Timberlake incident? Justin sang, "I'll get you naked by the end of this song." And you know what? He wasn't kidding. I personally thought that added some excitement to one of the worst Super Bowl halftime shows of all time. I was watching the game on a projector screen in a room packed with other college students, and the reaction was priceless: dead silence in the room. Then, applause. Of course, college student, football fans couldn't have asked for more: nudity and football. Everyone else anywhere with decent taste--and even many college students too--were rightfully appalled.

Seriously, that's gotta be one of the greatest flashes in football history. While hi-res pictures do appear to show Janet wearing a pastie (I swear, mom, I didn't look at them. Um, someone else..yeah, someone else told me about that), CBS was rightfully appalled. Even better, though, for those of us who hate MTV was the NFL's reaction. In this article highlighting CBS' apology, NFL Executive Vice President Joe Brown issued the understatement of the night when he said, "It's unlikely that MTV will produce another Super Bowl halftime." Yeah, Joe, good call on that one. While Matt Drudge is reporting that CBS knew about it beforehand, I believe it was a major publicity stunt on MTV's part. And it worked. The controversy will focus on MTV for days, and for a few seconds, millions and millions of viewers got a clear glimpse of Janet Jackson's right breast. MTV completely hoodwinked CBS, and that's all there is to it. Like most things in our pop culture, it was tasteless to the max but extremely effective.

Now, I would like to turn to the commercials. Best Way to Get Out a Message goes to TheTruth.org's commercial showing the Shards O' Glass company. That commercial was so devastatingly effective in reaching the people with whom I was watching the game, and I think that's the point. For those of you who missed it, it was basically a company saying why they sell ice pops with shards of glass in them and how they know how dangerous they are for you. It was meant to mock the tobacco industry, and it certainly accomplished that. The best part is that if click right here, you can even visit and explore the Web site that's flashed in the commercial. ShardsOGlass.com is indeed a real site. As someone vehemently opposed to smoking, I approve.

Next, Most Worthless Commercial. That Budweiser one with the referee being yelled at. Way to set women back 50 years. That's it. Horrendously tasteless. Or as Dave would say, flagrantly tasteless.

And finally, for some baseball. In what I think was one of the most offensive commercials, Mike Ditka was advertising Levitra as a drug for men who like football. Like football, it will give you that rush. In fact, Ditka even went so far as to say that baseball needs Levitra because it would give the game a rush. Ditka's argument was that in baseball, there's too much waiting and sitting around. The pitcher takes too long; the batter takes too long; there's too much strategizing, illustrated nicely by a pitching coach slooooowly placing a call to the bullpen. Football, on the other hand, is, unlike Ditka, erect...I mean, football supposedly is full of life and energy. Because the game is constantly on the move and everyone's getting tackled, it's much more fast-paced than football.

I hate to break it to Mr. Ditka, but the only game that comes close to what he was describing is hockey. Football's just as bad as baseball when it comes to delaying the game. Take tonight for example. A 60-minute game took over four hours to play. For those of you are mathematically-challenged, that's 240 minutes or 180 minutes of sitting around and waiting for things to happen. I saw tonight a game where the game clock routinely hit 1 or 0 before a snap. I saw the clock run for 7 seconds at a time before stopping. I saw a quarterback routinely conferring with his coach through a headset, with his team through huddles, and even more with his team through audible signals as they adjusted to the defense. To me, this sounds a lot like baseball but with more ridiculous testosterone and without some of the more subtle points.

I don't intend to start a fight over the merits of baseball vs. the merits of football. Both have good poitns and bad points, and I enjoy watching football games, although not as much as I enjoy baseball games. If you, dear reader, want to do start that fight, check out our brand new forums. What I would like to say is that Ditka and Levitra completely dissed our National Pastimee. They insulted the manliness of all of the fans of baseball worldwide with their 60-second diatribe about why baseball needs Levitra. Meanwhile, Ditka criticized baseball for all of the things wrong with football!

Let's see. Lots of time standing around waiting for a play to happen, check. Lots of boring line changes and coaches' decisions, check. Brief spurts of action followed by lots of time standing around, check. More commercial time than anyone knows what to do with, check. Furthermore, in 2002, the average length of a baseball game was 2 hours and 52 minutes. The NFL is barely matching this, and they certainly aren't setting any time-of-game records during the Super Bowl.

To me, it seems ridiculous that Levitra and Ditka felt it necessary to blatantly attack baseball and its fans. Most football fans attend baseball games during the summer, and many baseball fans with a limited interest in football were watching the Super Bowl. I should know because I was one of them. I think this clearly goes under theheadlinee of "If you have nothing nice to say, don't say it at all."

That's all. Football is as guilty of all of things Ditka said about baseball. In my opinion, baseball is more subtle than football as well. A well-executed hit-and-run or suicide squeeze is more excited than a touchdown run or field goal attempt any day. I know my fellow posters are more sympathetic to football than I am, but I just wanted to defend baseball. I do like watching football and playing it, but it didn't deserve that bashing tonight. And it's important to remember that those $2.3 million commercials reach a wide audience of very gullible Americans (as those SUV ads illustrated).

Alright, I'm signing off now. I know this wasn't a post much in the line of what we've done so far, but I think it's nice to vary things up every now and then. This was a mighty slow weekend for baseball, but by the end of this week, we'll have some things to discuss. I predict that the Yankees will land a third baseman, Greg Maddux will land a real potential suitor, and the Tigers will land an All Star catcher. And to whet your baseball appetite, I'll preview my next post. I'm going to write about improvements witnessed in really bad teams and what the Tigers prospects are for the 2004 season. So enjoy your Monday, if that's possible. And I'll catch you on Friday.

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