Saturday, July 25, 2009

Attention: George Carlin

Remember the routine the late George Carlin did about baseball vs. football? Football is played on a gridiron, baseball is played in a park. Football has its points scored in the end zone, baseball runs count when you go home. And so on.

He probably could have done a few more minutes on spring training vs. training camp.

The Buffalo Bills started training camp today. As one local reporter told me the other day, "Summer is over." At least for him.

That might be the main difference to the two sports when it comes to preseason workouts. When pitchers and catchers report, it's the first sign that winter is ending and spring is right around the corner. Yahoo. When football players arrive at training camp, fall isn't far away, and we'll be turning on the heat and getting out coats and sweatshirts (and no cracks about what a "wonderful" summer it's been this year either).

There are other differences of course. Most baseball players are signed before camp and ready to go these days. Football draft choices play the annual game of waiting to see what everyone else makes before signing a contract, which means that negotiations can drag well into August. And what do we hear from coaches at that time? That the unsigned draft choices are missing valuable workout time and if they don't sign within three days they might as well write off their rookie seasons. The fact that these players -- who have been in organized team activities and minicamps almost non-stop since the day they were drafted -- usually can sign in mid-August and start on opening day is quickly forgotten by all.

Anticipation by those involved is much different too. Baseball players can't wait to get out in the sunshine, work out a bit, maybe play a few innings of an exhibition game, and then go hit the beach or golf course. Football players arrive ready for some two-a-day workouts and a month of practice hits with the level of enthusiasm reserved for oral surgery. At least the era of three-hour workouts twice a day with no water has come to an end.

I'm not denying football fans the right to celebrate the fact that their favorite time of year is approaching. From a purely selfish, professional standpoint, football training camp is more than welcome to the Buffalo media. We haven't had that much to talk about since the Sabres season ended in early April. While we may get sick of Terrell Owens soon enough, Bills' news will at least keep the phone lines on talk shows humming and the space in the newspaper filled.

Still, I'll do my best to not take what happens with the Bills too seriously for the next few weeks. After all, can anyone remember what happened in an exhibition game a month into the regular season?

It's still summer. So running or playing golf in shorts and a t-shirt remains the top priority athletically speaking.

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