Five things baseball can learn from the NFL playoffs

By Jayson Stark Feb 16, 2022 332
I know I’m a baseball writer. But let’s recap the last three weekends of NFL playoff games. Why? Because they sum up why we love sports, the greatest reality show ever created.

Seven games. Five walk-offs. Two overtime classics. All seven games decided in the last minute and a half. There’s a word for that: Entertainment!

Yeah, I’m a baseball guy, not a football guy. But most of all, I’m a fan of spectacular sports theater. And now that the Super Bowl confetti is all swept up, here’s what I think:

There’s a lot baseball can learn from the NFL playoffs.

For one thing, in football, they actually play. Call me strange, but I enjoy it when the sports we care about actually play. Playoff games > lockout games. And you can quote me on that.

But I have other thoughts. I also spent time this week reflecting on this with people in baseball and with a man whose career has taken him to the biggest games in pretty much every sport, the always thoughtful Bob Costas. So if you’re ready, here come those thoughts — on five things MLB can learn from the NFL playoffs.

(I do admit, by the way, that there is one thing the NFL can take away from the baseball postseason: At least in baseball’s “overtime,” both teams get a chance to score. But I digress. Now where were we? Oh, right. What MLB can learn …)

1. While you’re negotiating, feel free to change the rules

I chatted Monday morning with a longtime baseball official who professed, unabashedly: “I love the NFL.” When I asked him what he thought baseball could learn from the magic of the NFL postseason, he didn’t even need to think about it — not for three seconds.