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Hockey vs. Baseball: Are They Really So Different?

At the SB Nation Meet Up last night, me and my fellow attendees were greeted with an unusual challenge. Of the five flat-screen TVs in our immediate vicinity, three featured the Blackhawks game while two featured the Cubs game. (Strangely, the ratio was revised to 4:1 Blackhawks later in the evening.)

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So our task was clear: We were to simultaneously watch a hockey game and a baseball game while occasionally trying to lasso our waitress for food and drink orders.

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Hockey and baseball?! That’s crazy! They’re two completey different games. One fast-paced and brutal; the other slow and gentlemanly. One played on cold, hard ice; the other on soft, green grass. Who put peanut butter in my chocolate? Who chocolate in my peanut butter?

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But are they really so different? Although the pacing is obviously much different, both can be enormously frustrating to watch. The Flyers score early and never reliquish the lead. So do the Astros. Long periods of time pass while the puck/ball flies all over the field/rink and NOTHING happens.

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Aramis Ramirez swings at ball four and fouls out to Lance Berkman, leaving the bases loaded. Patrick Kane gets a feed and takes a shot on goal, the puck sailing hopelessly wide. Buff takes a hit from Pronger; Castro gets flattened by Quintero. The Cubs show a little life later in the game, mostly thanks to Starlin’s bat and bold baserunning. So do the Hawks.

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In fact, for a while last night, it appeared the the Cubs and Hawks were going to lose by the same score: 3-1. If both teams had to go down in defeat, I almost wish that had happened. In some sick way, I enjoy such oddities.

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Ultimately, both sports (any sport, I suppose) leaves us, as fans, frustrated and disappointed just as often (or even more often) than they thrill us. And that’s what makes the 2010 Blackhawks so special, because they’ve rallied against this paradigm – at least until the last couple games.

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The Cubs? Well, they seem to have elevated frustration and disappointment to an art form this season. (And last season, for that matter.) But there’s always another game and at least they have some exciting young players to watch (Castro, Cashner, Colvin, Stevens, Silva – gotcha!).

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And, if the Hawks take the rest of the Stanley Cup Finals one game at a time, they’re going to be just fine. Maybe we, as fans, should do that, too.