2017-02-12 / Sports

Comparing Competitions

Can one be greater, the Super Bowl or World Series?
By CARL JOHNSON
Special to the Journal Tribune

Wow! What else could you say after the Patriots unbelievable comeback to win Super Bowl LI and answer the questions that have been argued for what seems like forever. Those questions, obviously, are, “Who are the best quarterback and coach in National Football League history?” The answers, even more obviously, are Tom Brady and Bill Belichik.

The question this Super Bowl didn’t decide and one that is even more in question after the events of recent months is, “What is the premier event in sports in this country, the Super Bowl or the World Series?”

Watching the Patriots championship parade on Tuesday, from the comfort of my home, not out there in the snow with the real Patriots fans, it occurred to me how much these two sporting events mean to this country.

In November, just a little more than three months ago, the parade to celebrate the Chicago Cubs win in the World Series, their first in 108 years, drew an estimated five million people.

The crowd has been called by many sources, including Fox 32 in Chicago, the seventh largest gathering of people in the history of the world, behind the 30 million that attended the Kumbh Mela Pilgrimage in India in 2013, the Aberdeen Festival in Iraq in 2014 that drew 17 million, funerals in India and Iran that drew the third and fourth highest totals and two events in Manila involving the Pope that came in fifth and sixth.

The parade, on November 4, went from Wrigley Field to Grant Park in Chicago. It was just four days before the presidential election and Chicago, and all of America, was in the midst of possibly the nastiest election campaign in history. There had been rallies, protests and confrontations going on all over the country, some peaceful, but a few violent.

Still, five million people stopped what they were doing and came out to peacefully celebrate the Cubs victory. I am sure that there were a few who looked ahead and envisioned the demonstrations and confrontations that would take place in the weeks ahead, but the people of Chicago, liberals, conservatives and others alike, celebrated the Cubs win together that day.

This past Tuesday, a crowd, estimated at one million, gathered in Boston to celebrate the Patriots remarkable fifth Super Bowl Championship. In the intervening period between the World Series and the Super Bowl, the country had been shaken by protest marches and demonstrations.

On Tuesday, that was all forgotten in Boston as, again, liberals and conservatives and others celebrated the Patriots victory together. The only politics involved were the cries of ‘Roger This’ referring to Commissioner Roger Goodell’s suspension of Tom Brady and politicians winning votes by showing their support of the home town team.

Both games had fairy tale-like endings which even the most imaginative writer would have trouble equaling. The Cubs, the perennial loser, facing the Cleveland Indians in the World Series, found themselves down three games to one and facing elimination at home after four games. They won Game 5 and sent the Series back to Cleveland where they would have the almost impossible job of winning two more games on the Indians field.

When, after forcing a seventh game, they blew a 6-3 lead in the bottom of the eighth inning, things looked bleak again. But, in the tenth inning, with the game tied 6-6, Ben Zobrist doubled to drive in pinch runner Albert Almora and Miguel Montero drove in Anthony Rizzo to make it 8-6 and the Cubs were three outs away from their first World Championship in 108 years.

The Indians came back to score one in the last of the tenth and it looked like the Cubs might blow another lead but Mike Montgomery came on and got the last out and the Cubs were World Champions and their 108 year drought was over.

Of course, three months and three days later, the Patriots comeback was no less spectacular. Down 28-3 and looking like a losing team, the Patriots ran off 25 unanswered points to send the game to overtime, the first overtime in Super Bowl history. In order to do so, so many things had to fall into place.

When have you ever seen a team successfully attempt a two point extra point twice in succession? When have you ever seen a catch like the one Julian Edelman made on the deflected ball to save the day? Of course, Brady put on a demonstration of passing that may be unequaled in the history of the sport.

Then, after the Patriots won the coin toss to get the ball to start the overtime, Brady marched his team down the field, covering 75 yards in eight plays, finishing it with James White’s two yard rush to score the winning touchdown.

Two of the most exciting finishes in the history of these two classic events. Both occurring in a time when Americans needed to refocus and get their minds off the many controversial events taking place outside sports and to get back to living together in peace and harmony.

Which is the greater of the two, the World Series or the Super Bowl? That question will have to wait at least another year for an answer, this year’s versions make it too close to call, even with instant replay.

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