The Road Warrior: World Series vs. Super Bowl
Companies always offer promotional contests to win trips to the Super Bowl as if that is the ultimate sports trip. Road Warrior doesn't understand this. The World Series is a far better destination for sports travelers than the Super Bowl.
RW won't apologize for loving baseball. Baseball not only is the national pastime, it is the greatest sport ever created. The Warrior would rather watch the independent minor league St. Paul Saints play the Sioux City Explorers from under the grandstand while cleaning up after the pig mascot than watch the Super Bowl from the 50-yard line.
You just feel poor and hopelessly out of it attending the Super Bowl and its buildup. It's like a trip to Sodom and Gomorrah, only with really, really long lines and obscenely high beer prices. It's just way too over the top. The downtown streets not only are filled with ozone-destroying Escalades and Hummers, they are filled with ozone-destroying Escalade and Hummer limousines.
The World Series is much more restrained, much more human and much more affordable. Here are the top 10 reasons it's better to travel to the World Series than the Super Bowl:
1. Better stadiums
World Series ballparks are nearly worth the price of admission themselves. The World Series gives you Yankee Stadium, where Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Reggie Jackson and Derek Jeter turned October into their own private months; Fenway Park, where Carlton Fisk wiggled and waved the ball fair; and San Francisco's park, where Barry Bonds sent kayakers scrambling for home run balls in McCovey Cove. The Super Bowl, on the other hand, gives you the Superdome, where thousands of desperate, frightened masses with no other options huddled in near darkness to sit out Hurricane Katrina.
2. Cheaper tickets (except in Boston)
Last year's Super Bowl tickets had a face value of $600 to $700, not that you would have been able to buy them for that much. World Series tickets, meanwhile, are $150 to $250 still expensive, but more within reach for experiencing one game. Plus, more games mean more tickets and lower negotiating leverage for the scalpers. And had Arizona made the series, you probably could have gotten a pair of tickets with the purchase of a 128-ounce barrel of soda at Circle K.
3. Cheaper hotels (except in New York)
Sure, hotels can be expensive at the World Series. But room rates in the Super Bowl host city are in a whole other solar system. Cities don't host the Super Bowl any more than Baghdad "hosts" Blackwater USA. The Super Bowl invades cities, establishes occupation and authorizes hotels to quadruple room rates. And the worst part isn't even the high room prices; it's that many hotels also insist on a four-night minimum, if not longer. Hotels at the Super Bowl are so expensive that it would be cheaper to buy a condo in the "host" city with an adjustable rate mortgage and a massive balloon payment due at the end of the third quarter.
4. And did Road Warrior mention getting a rental car at the Super Bowl?
5. Better variety of cities
There is nothing wrong with cities such as Jacksonville, San Diego, Phoenix, Houston and Atlanta, but they get selected for the Super Bowl because of their appealing weather in winter. But it's not like late January and early February are all that nice in these places (hell, it even rained in Miami during Super Bowl XLI).
The World Series, meanwhile, offers a wider arrange of cities all across the country. And there is usually just more to do in World Series cities than simply getting away from winter. There are warm-weather towns, if you want some sun or sand (Miami, San Diego and Phoenix, when they are at their most pleasant temperatures); glamorous cities filled with museums and fabulous entertainment options (New York, Los Angeles and Chicago); charming cities filled with history and architecture (Boston and San Francisco); and vibrant cities near spectacular parks and mountains (Denver). Plus, there is Detroit.
Besides, if you need a winter break (and who doesn't?), just save your money and wait a couple of more weeks for spring training. You'll have more fun.
6. Not as many corporate knuckleheads
The entire point of attending a big sporting event in person is interacting with the rest of the fans and becoming a part of the community. You can only do this, however, if that community of fans includes actual fans. The World Series has its share of corporate suits on expense account, but, again, this is nothing compared to the Super Bowl. The vast majority of people attending World Series are real fans who live and die with their team. The Super Bowl is attended mostly by Fortune 500 executives who live and die with their stock options and would just as soon downsize you as exchange a high-five after a touchdown.
7. Twice as many options
Is Boston too far away or the crowds too intimidating? No worries. There is always Denver. Heck, now that the World Series has been pushed back a couple of more days, you may even be able to go skiing.
8. "Entertainment Tonight" doesn't show up at the World Series
Road Warrior's rule of thumb for big sporting events: The likelihood you'll enjoy the event decreases in direct proportion to the number of reporters covering it for "ET" and "The Insider." Hey, RW enjoys a party as much as anyone, but he prefers celebrations that don't trap you behind the velvet rope. While all those Super Bowl parties with Maxim models and "Make It Rain" entourages sound fun, the fact of the matter is you'll never be invited to one.
Better to instead take it easy at the World Series and share a beer in a bar with real fans more interested in debating the merits of starting a pitcher on three days rest than speculating which top-secret, invite-only, totally off-limits party Jessica Biel is attending.
9. More flexible schedule
Can't get off work for a midweek game? Don't worry, you can go to the weekend games. Can't get away on the weekend for the same reason? No problem. Go to the midweek games. Can't get any days off from work? Become a Devil Rays fan and you'll never have to worry about it.
10. Better games
Finally, let's get to the main reason for traveling to a sporting event: the games themselves, for which the World Series really outshines the Super Bowl. The World Series has given us Ruth's called shot, Willie Mays' catch, Don Larsen's perfect game, Kirk Gibson's Roy Hobbs imitation, Jack Morris' 10-inning shutout, Jeter's Mr. November home run and on and on and on. Meanwhile, the Super Bowl often is so forgettable the highlight is usually the Monster.com commercial.
ROAD WARRIOR MAILBAG
As expected, our recent piece on the best places to tailgate generated a lot of response, with most everyone complaining if Road Warrior left out their alma mater or congratulating RW for including theirs. Here's one of the former from Mike in Arlington, Va.:
This list is truly awful. Try this for your next list: Ten schools with fans most likely to clog your inbox with their ire. Bet you won't leave The Ohio State University off that one.
And here's one of the latter from Brandi in Baton Rouge, La.:
In regards to your top 10 tailgating spots, listing LSU #1 that kinda makes me love you a lot. Not a little, but a lot. LSU Class of 2003 (the best 5 years of my life!)
Plus, here's a good tailgate anecdote from Jon in Fort Collins, Colo.:
OK, this won't be hate mail about leaving UGA off the list. But here's a good story: My wife made the mistake of going through downtown Athens on a Saturday last year. It took about an hour. Along the way, she saw a guy pull up to a parking space to parallel park. He tried numerous times but couldn't do it because he was too drunk. A cop watching finally got fed up and ordered the guy to get out of the car. Then the cop jumped in the car and parked it for the drunk tailgater, who was then free to go and enjoy more beverage. Maybe it's stuff like that that kept UGA OFF the list.
Actually, Jon, that would have helped. Always good to see friendly police.
Oh, and a reader in Ljubljana took Road Warrior to task for letting everyone in on the secret of how wonderful Slovenia is. He's right. RW should have kept that to himself so the place doesn't get overrun with tourists.
Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com. His Web site is at jimcaple.net, with more installments of "24 College Avenue." His new book with Steve Buckley, "The Best Boston Sports Arguments: The 100 Most Controversial, Debatable Questions for Die-Hard Boston Fans," is on sale now.
Send in your comments and travel questions to Jim, a k a The Road Warrior.