Football, baseball: The 'Fall' guys

Late September is an exciting time to be a sports fan, with the baseball season coming to a climax and the NFL season warming up.

Late September is an exciting time of the year to be a sports fan with the baseball season coming to a climax and the NFL season starting to warm up. It can be a bit annoying at times trying to watch football on a converted baseball field but the two sports couldn't pose more of a contrast. Baseball is a 162 game season followed by play-offs whereas the football season is a mere 16 regular games leading to the play-offs. Baseball is the most capitalist of sports where each team is free to spend as much money as it can afford. Football is the most socialist of sports. Each team has a salary cap by which it must stringently abide. The schedule also tries to create a certain type of parity. The NFL does not like dynasties and tries to do what it can to share the spoils. The New England Patriots, winners of three of the last four Superbowls the last two in succession are looking to be the first team to win three straight titles. The NFL has responded by handing the Patriots a killer schedule where they must play their next four games against quality teams and three of these four games are on the road. The Patriots played the most undisciplined football they have in a while against Carolina over the weekend and these next four weeks will show what the 2005 Patriots are made of. Undoubtedly the loss of Teddy Bruschi has hurt them but who knows what other factors are at play. Of the four upcoming games, the one at home is against the San Diego Chargers. That, in theory, should be a tough game but the 0-2 Chargers of 2005 do not seem to resemble the 12-4 Chargers of 2004. At this early stage it is impossible to have a true grasp of the form guide. Some of these early results can prove to be aberrations such as the Washington Redskins and Cincinnati Bengals who have both jumped out of the blocks with 2-0 starts. Conversely is 0-2 a true reflection of where both the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings are at? With the season only two weeks old there is still plenty of conjecture about which teams will be Superbowl bound. With only two weeks remaining in the baseball season there is as much uncertainty regarding the make up of the World Series. The American League has the most ambiguity. All three divisions are up for grabs. The Boston Red Sox have enjoyed the lead in the American League East for most of the season but now find the resurgent New York Yankees only half a game back. The Cleveland Indians have come from nowhere and are looking a very good bet to make the post season, either by overcoming the slumping Chicago White Sox in the American League Central or by taking the wild card slot. The Los Angeles Angels look to have the title out West in their keeping with the Oakland Athletics timing their late season run a fraction too late. In the National League St Louis has already clinched its division while Atlanta and San Diego have comfortable leads. But the wild card race is hot with the Houston Astros having a one game lead over the Philadelphia Phillies who in turn have a one game lead over the Florida Marlins. All this excitement and suspense should result in plenty of late nights and early mornings for fans of these teams. So when you see one of these fans go easy on them because they're probably struggling to stay awake.