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Thursday, February 2, 2012
Mixing in some reality before Super Sunday


Just for the record, I love Super Bowl Sunday. I'm in it for the football, not the GoDaddy.com commercials. And I watch way too much pro football all fall for my own sanity's sake.

But that doesn't mean I have to buy into the relentless NFL worship all around us. So here come some World Series-versus-Super Bowl facts and observations I feel compelled to pass along by forces I can't seem to control:

• Just a thought I'd like to begin with: I can only imagine the snarky commentary from the masses if a team from New York was playing a team from New England in the World Series -- for the second time in five years. But in the NFL, it's somehow refreshing. Or it adds to the glamour of the game. Or (pick your own rationalization and insert it here). Again, just a random thought.

• Or what if the World Series featured two teams that had made eight World Series appearances in the past 12 years? Well, the Patriots (V of the last XII Super Bowls) and Giants (III of the past XII) will be your verrry familiar Super Bowl combatants Sunday. For what it's worth, only one World Series in the past 30 years has featured teams that had been to the Series at least three times apiece in a 12-year span -- the 1999 duel between the Yankees (three) and Braves (five).

• Here's a complaint we used to hear every frigging year: The same teams in baseball always make the playoffs. Good thing that never happens in football, huh? Oh, wait.

Of the four teams in the NFL's conference championship games, the 49ers were a wonderful bounce-back story. But how 'bout the other three teams? The Ravens have made the playoffs five of the past six years. The Patriots also have made it five times in the past six years. And the Giants have done this in four of the past six years.

Want to include the divisional round? The Packers and Saints also have been in the playoffs four times apiece in the past six seasons. So just those five teams have made a combined 22 playoff appearances in that span, and no matter who wins Sunday, they'll have won seven of the past 11 Super Bowls.

Over in baseball, on the other hand, none of the four LCS teams had made it to the postseason as many as four times in the past six years. Those four have won just two of the past 11 World Series. And of the eight teams that reached the playoffs, only the Yankees and Phillies have been to the postseason as many times as the Saints during the past six seasons.

• No matter which team wins this Super Bowl, the past 12 NFL titles will have been divided by only seven different teams. But the past 12 World Series have been won by nine different teams. (And it's actually nine of the past 11.)

• Or how about we go back further? No matter who wins Sunday, just eight franchises will have won 21 of the past 25 Super Bowls -- the Patriots, Giants, Steelers, Broncos, Packers, Cowboys, 49ers and Redskins. And 20 of the 32 NFL teams have won zero championships in that time.

But no matter how you do the math, no fewer than 11 teams have divided up 21 of the past 25 World Series. And 16 of the 30 teams have won at least once in that span -- even with the Yankees monopolizing five of those trophies.

• Finally, anybody who's still trying to argue there's "parity" in the AFC had better dig deep. This will be the 12th Super Bowl since the start of the 2000 season. The Patriots, Steelers or Colts have been the AFC representative in all but two of them. The Ravens won one of the other two. And even though it was their only Super Bowl, they've been in the playoffs eight times in those 12 seasons.

Meanwhile in baseball, seven different AL teams have been to the World Series during the same period, even with the Yankees showing up for four of them. And eight different franchises have made it from the National League, even though the Cardinals have been to three of them.

So have a great Super Sunday. Feel free to surpass your personal best in chicken-wing consumption. Savor the halftime spectacle that is Madonna. But if your buddies try to convince you that this Super Bowl is some kind of aberration in the NFL's gleaming record of unparalleled parity, I hope you force them to read these pearls of wisdom over and over -- until the Clydesdales jolt them back to reality.