It’s a battle that’s been going on for as long as the two sports have been played side-by-side and it’s an argument that probably has no right answer – baseball vs. soccer: Which is better?

Growing up in NDG in the 1980s when the Expos were huge and the Impact were still just a twinkle in Joey Saputo’s eye, baseball reigned supreme.

Soccer was always big in the area, especially within NDG’s large Italian community, but everywhere you turned there was a ballgame going on from May through September.

I was, and always have been, a baseball guy.

I grew up playing at Patricia Park, practicing on cold days in the Trenholme Gym, hitting – or trying to hit – homeruns at Confederation… I was playing hardball in NDG before the idea of a “soccerplex” ever existed.

On the other side of the coin was soccer.

There have always been many fields in the area, but in the 80s and early 90s, there was nothing like the amazing surface at Trenholme Park or the group of fields behind A&W on St-Jacques. Heck, the A&W wasn’t even there yet.

In fact soccer wasn’t even on my radar until World Cup ’94 in the United States, and probably the first game I ever watched was the final that year when Roberto Baggio kicked the ball over the net and Brazil beat Italy 3-2 to capture the tournament.

So which is better?

When I was a kid, the battle raged on. Of course, we all played hockey, but in the summer most of us broke off into baseball or soccer and when we crossed paths it was always an argument.

“Baseball is sooooo boring and lazy”… “Nothing ever happens in soccer, what a stupid game”… “Baseball players are fat”… “Soccer players fall down like they’ve been shot when a fly lands on them…”

And so on it raged.

Personally, I’ve never been able to get into soccer. For the most part, I find it boring – a bunch of dudes with fauxhawks and hairbands running around for an hour-and-a-half to score, like, two goals? No thank you.

But I do understand when soccer people find baseball boring – it is a very slow game.

There’s no real answer

The truth is there’s no real answer as to which sport is better. Just like Carey Price and Jaroslav Halak, they both have their good and bad sides, but in a pinch either is just as likely to impress as they are to be shockingly unimpressive.

A low-scoring ballgame with a pitcher who takes his sweet time before every throw can suck the life out of even the most ardent fan. I’ve been to 4.5-hour games and almost fallen asleep – granted, being at Olympic Stadium didn’t help the cause.

On the other end, I’ve tried with an open mind to watch soccer on TV and I just can’t do it. And we’re talking major games here – World Cup, Euro, Olympics. It doesn’t matter if it’s the two best teams in the world or the two worst, the fact that basically nothing happens for 90 minutes-plus drives me nuts.

And let’s not even get into “injury time” which might be the dumbest concept in sports this side of the fair catch.

In the end, baseball is more like chess in that it’s almost as much of a head game as it is a sport. Soccer, on the other hand, takes extreme athleticism and the ability to stay pumped even when nothing is happening. Both are very challenging.

For myself, this July 11 I’ll spend more time watching my New York Mets play the Atlanta Braves than I will trying to find out if Italy or Brazil is going to win the World Cup.

For those of you who prefer “the beautiful game” however, I certainly wouldn’t begrudge you for tuning into South Africa 2010.

Maybe after both games are over we can all get together for a game of soccer-baseball and celebrate our favourite sports together.

You can always reach me at noahsidel@gmail.com.

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