2/3/2014 10:00 A.M. ET
Defense wins, both on diamond and gridiron
Like Seahawks, baseball's champion will be the one best at preventing scoring
By Mike Bauman / MLB.com
Super Bowl XLVIII reminded us of some elemental truths about athletic competition.
First, if the football thing is over, it's pretty much time for Spring Training.
Whether you were rejoicing with the Seattle Seahawks, or shaking your head at the Denver Broncos, the Super Bowl takes us, on the current sports calendar, to the doorstep of pitchers and catchers. This is the underlying good news that any Super Bowl result brings.
This has not been much of a winter for poetry. This has been a winter for the polar vortex to come into the national consciousness and remain there. This country needs Spring Training. This country doesn't need flurries, unless they are flurries of late offseason free-agent signings.
So, we'd like to thank the National Football League for finishing its business just in time for the annual baseball rebirth that begins in Florida and Arizona in a matter of days.
Super Bowl XLVIII also offered a reminder of a fact of life that will be repeated again during the baseball season to come: Defense wins championships. Everything else wins individual awards and offers entertainment value. But defense wins championships.
It did not matter how many touchdown passes the brilliant Peyton Manning had thrown in this season, or any season, or in all the seasons of his illustrious career. The Seahawks had the better defense. In fact, they had the best defense in the NFL. So it should not have been surprising that Seattle won.
It might have been marginally surprising that the Seahawks completely dominated the game, and eventually won, 43-8. The Broncos had been the favorites going into the game, but that was at least partially a function of the name recognition that a lot of touchdowns and Peyton Manning can get you.
What was really surprising Sunday night was Bob Dylan doing a car commercial. Of all the proposition bets that could have been made on Sunday, could anybody have had Seahawks winning by 35, plus Dylan speaks for Chrysler?
But we were speaking of defense winning championships. What is true in professional football is true in baseball, although the winning category in baseball is generally termed pitching and defense.
Alleged experts informed us before the big football game that the offense of the Seahawks could not possibly "keep up" with the offense of Broncos. But it was not at all difficult for the Seahawks' offense to "keep up" when the Denver offense was being limited to eight points by the overpowering Seattle defense.
The baseball season to come will go through six months of ups and downs, but the trend toward a classical game, so pronounced in recent seasons, will continue. Pitching specifically, and run prevention in general, will rule at the highest levels over the long season.
Good hitting will entertain and will win plenty of games. But the championship will be won by a team that has enough pitching to get to October and then has the absolute best pitching in the postseason.
The Seahawks did exactly what they intended to do in Super Bowl XLVIII. Their dominant performance against pro football's best offense was a reminder to the rest of us again that great defense is the most reliable route to a championship.
In a matter of days now, the first stage of the baseball marathon will begin at the camps in Florida and Arizona. The pitchers and catchers will be there at the start, a symbolically suitable head start for pitching and defense.
Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.