|ESPN.com: Stark||[Print without images]|
Well, this is it. That annual blog post you've been waiting for all year if you're a baseball fan -- and dreading all year if you're an unabashed drinker of the NFL Kool-Aid.
Yep, it's that one.
The one where I fulfill my moral obligation to debunk the increasingly absurd myth that the NFL is (repeat after me, trumpets blaring) The League of Parity and baseball is The Sport Where the Same Darned Teams Win Every Year.
If that were true, I wouldn't have to present you with these myth-debunking True Facts every year when the Super Bowl rolls around, now would I?
But much as I love gathering around the flat screen watching the Big Game and all its entertaining hoopla -- and trust me, I do consider Super Sunday one of my favorite days of the year -- someone has to step forward and separate the truth from the pregame baloney. And friends, I'm more than willing to take on that job. So here we go. Again.
• Boy, it sure is a good thing that The Same Teams Don't Win Every Year in football, isn't it? Ehhh, wait. How come those teams in the NFL conference championship games looked so familiar? Oh. Maybe it's because three of the four also played in those conference championship games last year. How often does that happen in baseball? Ummmm, never in the wild-card era -- and not under any system since 1991-92.
• Boy, it sure is a good thing that The Same Teams Don't Win Every Year in football. Ummm, check that. Let's take a look at the eight teams that played in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs for the right to advance to those conference championship games:
Patriots -- who have made the playoffs in nine of the past 10 years.
Ravens -- who have made the playoffs in six of the past seven years.
Packers -- who have made the playoffs in five of the past six years.
Seahawks -- who have made the playoffs in seven of the past 10 years.
Falcons -- who have made the playoffs four of the past five years.
49ers, Broncos and Texans -- who have made the playoffs two years in a row.
• On the other hand, there's baseball's final eight:
The Yankees are the Patriots. They've made it nine times in 10 years.
The Cardinals are about as close to the Ravens as you could get -- six of the past nine years.
The Giants and A's each have made it twice in the past nine years.
The Tigers have reached the tournament three times in the past 25 years.
And, finally, you have
The Orioles, which just made the postseason for the first time in 15 years.
And the Reds, for the second time in 17 years.
And the Nationals, which brought postseason baseball to Washington for the first time since 1933 (and got the franchise to the Octoberfest for the first time in 31 years).
Just the facts, ladies and gentlemen. Just the facts.
• Then there are those plucky, underdog Ravens. Did you know they haven't merely made the playoffs in five straight seasons? They've also advanced in the playoffs in five straight seasons. Want to guess how many times even the Yankees have advanced in the baseball postseason in five straight seasons, no matter what the format? Once -- when they were winning five consecutive World Series from 1949-53. But that's never happened in the division-play era. Ever.
• In fact, only one baseball team has ever advanced (i.e., won a series) in five straight postseasons during the division-play era. That would be the Braves, from 1995-99. That's it.
• Boy, it sure is a good thing The Same Teams Don't Win Every Year in football. Isn't it? You never know what team might shock the world and show up in the Super Bowl, right? Well, not so right. Did you know that since the 2000 season, the Patriots, Ravens, Colts and Steelers have represented the AFC in every Super Bowl but one? True Fact. Feel free to look it up.
• Over in that other sport, they keep on spreading the titles around. Even though your reigning World Series champs, the Giants, have won two of the past three World Series, nine teams have won a title in baseball since the 2000 season. But no matter who wins this Super Bowl, the NFL can't match that. If the Ravens win, it will be just seven different champs since the 2000 season. If the 49ers win, it will be eight. Yet one more True Fact.
• Have any of these NFL propaganda dispensers noticed that the Yankees, the franchise they constantly use as an example of everything that's wrong with baseball, keep forgetting to stampede through October? Go check. The mighty Yankees have played in exactly one of the past nine World Series. One. Meanwhile in the NFL, the Steelers (three), Patriots (three) and Giants (two) have combined for EIGHT Super Bowl trips over the past IX Super Sundays.
• Finally, there's this: Bet you didn't know that 20 of the 32 NFL franchises (62.5 percent) have won NONE of the past 25 Super Bowls. But over the past 25 World Series, more than half the teams in baseball (16 of 30) have won at least one.
Friends, the facts you have just read are 100 percent true. So wouldn't I be remiss not to pass them on? I owe it to the human race to spread truth across our planet at every opportunity. That's my mission. I hope I've fulfilled it. You can thank me later.