Mark it down, carve it in granite, encase it in flowing eulogies.
On July 25, 2011 the National Football League finally laid baseball to rest. Not only did players and owners agree to a new collective bargaining agreement, but they did so with emphasis - as if to prove one last time that football, not baseball, is now America's game.
Whether it was a power play or mere coincidence I do not know, but it is clear the timing of the NFL agreement savagely undermined the usual excitement surround Major League Baseball's trading deadline. During the last week of July, in a period of summer doldrums usually dominated by baseball news, the NFL announced a triumphant conclusion to their very contentious and public negotiation.
What's more, the announcement set into motion the most volatile and consequential period of player movement in NFL history. This immediate onset of manic transacting quickly buried the baseball buzz machine, relegating MLB's quaint-by comparison trade rumors to the back pages.
The visuals provided by SportsCenter contain all the necessary evidence. As I write this, baseball highlights cower in the corner of the screen, barely visible next to the massive and constant NFL team profiles inhabiting the network's sidebars. Even on a day that saw a no-hitter and a major deadline trade between two historic franchises, Baseball Tonight anchor Karl Ravech admitted that the day's headlines had been dominated by football. The boys of summer lost out to the boys of fall...during summer.
It appears the war between baseball and football, a battle waged for the very soul of American sport, has entered its final stage of surrender. With respect to the international growth of the NBA, this has always been about football and baseball. Baseball was once America's pastime - a sport woven into society's fabric and the one most reflective of its collective consciousness. Basketball never held that claim. Never. And it wasn't until football rose to prominence in the second half of the last century that baseball's grip began to weaken, and then fail.
The final proof came this July, in a month that has always been an important one for baseball. It is, in some respects, baseball's month. No major competing sports, a spotlight fixed on the All-Star Game and trade deadline. Until this year, when the humbling omnipotence of Lord Football bore his full strength and chased baseball into the margins.
These are not equal parties anymore. Football stands alone.
We may never know if Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith intended this effect with the timing of their agreement. It think it might have been a casual consideration, a scenario Goodell presented to Smith as the former pressed the players for a resolution. I doubt it was the driving force, more likely a bit of added incentive.
At this point I'm not sure intent even matters. The result is abundantly clear.