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Baseball vs. Football: Which Sport is More Fair?

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If we take the comparison from the beginning of this century, baseball still comes out ahead. From 2001 through last year, both MLB and the NFL saw 14 different teams place in the 20 slots for their championship game. But football has had just seven different winners over those ten seasons, while baseball has had nine. Why is this? One might argue that pro football's policy of wealth distribution discourages some teams from even trying to compete. After all, the Pirates did win the Series in 1971 and 1979, while the Cleveland Browns (either in their old manifestation or rebirth in 1999) and Detroit Lions have never even been to a Super Bowl. And it is no small point that a large part of NFL football's seeming parity is an illusion: The league has 12 postseason spots for it's 32 teams, so 37.5 percent of the clubs will get a playoff berth. Baseball has room for just eight playoff teams out of 30, or 26.7 percent. So, yes, Major League Baseball does have a problem trying to get teams like the Pirates into the Fall Classic - and the Bucs, who are currently 16.5 games out of first place in heir division, won't be going this year, either. Meanwhile, the NFL has a problem just as serious which few even acknowledge, namely how to get teams without much economic incentive out of their mediocrity mode. The New York Jets play in sport's biggest market, yet they haven't won the Super Bowl in 41 seasons. Even Bill Maher might concede that after more than four decades, Jets fans are ready for a little more free-market stew and a little less commie pie.

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