- Jayson Stark, Senior Writer, ESPN.com
- 0 Shares
If Super Bowl hysteria is raging, it can only mean one thing: Pitchers and catchers are just past the nearest goalpost. So here comes a Super Bowl edition of the Useless Information Department.
• Useless Parity Info: We wouldn't be fulfilling our professional responsibilities if we didn't use Super Bowl week to remind you that you should feel free to laugh out loud any time you hear some football addict blab about how much more parity there is in the NFL than MLB.
In baseball, we've now had a different champion six seasons in a row.
How many times in history -- recent or ancient -- has the NFL produced a different champ six years in a row? That would be zero. We bet Paul Tagliabue might forget to mention that in his State of the NFL address.
• More Useless Parity Info: We don't want to hear any of you skeptics complain that the previous note is just some meaningless statistical fluke, either. For proof, let's go to the final fours in each sport.
How many different franchises have reached baseball's final four (the league championship series) over the last five years? How about 13 of 30 (or 43 percent).
So obviously, more football teams have made it to the NFL's final four (the conference championships) over the last five years, right? Oops. That would be dead wrong. It's 12 of 32 (or 37.5 percent).
For more on this fascinating myth of modern sporting times, check out our buddy Jim Caple's research on the subject.
• Useless Stability-Capital Info: What sets the Steelers apart from just about every other franchise in every other sport? Easy. They don't go changing coaches the way the rest of us change T-shirts.
In Pittsburgh, they've had only two head coaches since 1969 (Chuck Noll, Bill Cowher). So in case you were wondering ...
Pirates managers since 1969: 9 (counting Danny Murtaugh once)
Most managers since 1969: Cubs, 21
Fewest managers since 1969: Dodgers, 7 (even if you include Grady Little)
Yankees managers since 1969: 14
Yankees managers since 1969 (if you count Billy Martin five times): 18
Yankees managers since 1969 (if you count all managerial encores): 21
(* includes all interims and '06 managerial changes)
• Useless Bus-Stop Info: Perhaps you may have heard that the Super Bowl will probably be Jerome Bettis' last game. And if you haven't, congratulations, because you're doing a far better job of avoiding the pre-Super Bowl coverage onslaught than we are.
At any rate, Bettis got us wondering how many baseball stars have finished their careers in a World Series. The Elias Sports Bureau looked into it and found:
Hall of Famers: Sandy Koufax, Willie Mays, Eddie Mathews, Bill Terry, Jackie Robinson, Johnny Mize, Home Run Baker, Travis Jackson and some guy named DiMaggio
300-game winner: Roger Clemens (pending further developments)
200-game winner: Paul Derringer
Other 150-game winners: Brickyard Kennedy and Art Nehf
One other 2,300-hit guy: Chili Davis
And then there's Jim Palmer, whose last win came in the 1983 World Series but who did pitch a few times the next year. And Darren Daulton, who hit cleanup for the 1997 Marlins in the Game 7 in which they won the World Series -- and never played again.
• Useless What-Could-Have-Been Information: John Elway was once a Super Bowl MVP and a second-round pick in the baseball draft (Yankees, 1981). So guess which two big names in this Super Bowl were also major baseball hot shots?
Baseball America's Jim Callis reports that two high-profile players in SBXL were once taken in the baseball draft. One was Antwaan Randle El, taken by the Cubs in the 14th round in 1997 -- one pick before Oakland took Ryan Drese.
But the best baseball talent on the field in Detroit will be Hines Ward -- once voted the best high school baseball player in the state of Georgia.
Ward is still grumbling that his mother made him go to college instead of heading for the minor leagues. So he was only a 73rd-round pick, as an outfielder, by the Marlins in 1994. Unfortunately, as you might have noticed, he then found a sport other than baseball to pursue.
(The Fish, by the way, were clearly trying to bolster their passing game that year, because they took future Browns quarterback Josh Booty in the first round and drafted future Jets quarterback Glenn Foley in the 72nd round.)
• Useless Worst-To-First Information: One thing we noticed about this Super Bowl is that it matches cities whose two baseball teams finished in last place last season. And that's a truly stupendous claim to fame. How many other Super Bowls featured cities like that? Absolutely none of them.
• Useless Omen Information: But if it's any consolation to the folks from Seattle and Pittsburgh, winning a Super Bowl often is a portent of good things to come in the next baseball season.
Five times in Super Bowl history, a metropolitan area whose team won the Super Bowl, saw a team from its vicinity win the World Series the same year (assuming you take a liberal view of what constitutes a vicinity):
2004: New England (Red Sox and Patriots)
1989: Bay area (49ers and Athletics)
1983: Beltway (Redskins and Orioles)
1979: Pittsburgh (Steelers and Pirates)
1969: Big Apple (Jets and Mets)
• More Useless Omen Info: The title-crazed citizens of Detroit will be thrilled to hear that history tells us that even hosting a Super Bowl can sometimes lead to better baseball days ahead. Twice, the metropolitan area that hosted the Super Bowl also has gone on to host a World Series in the same year:
1998: San Diego
1977: Los Angeles (Super Bowl was in Pasadena)
• Useless He's-Back Information: As loyal reader David Hallstrom observed, Bill Cowher is coaching in the Super Bowl for the first time in 10 years. And he's doing it with the same team he was coaching back then. Well, there's baseball precedent for this stuff, too.
Three managers in history have managed in a World Series, and then gotten back at least 10 years later with the same team. Maybe this is a Pennsylvania thing, because two of them managed in the state of Pennsylvania:
Connie Mack, 1914-1929 Philadelphia A's
Danny Murtaugh, 1960-1971 Pittsburgh Pirates
Charlie Grimm, 1935-1945 Chicago Cubs
True, Murtaugh didn't manage continuously for all those years in between. But he didn't manage any other teams in between, either. So he's in there.
• Useless Tickertape Info: Some cities are more desperate for a parade than others. And Seattle happens to be one of just three cities in America with both an NFL and an MLB team that has never had either a Super Bowl winner or a World Series winner. The others:
San Diego and Houston.
• Useless Unseen-Rivalry Info: This note doesn't have anything to do with the Super Bowl. But it does give us another excuse to compare football to baseball, so what the heck.
Last summer, Useless Info broke the blockbuster story that when the Cardinals and Devil Rays played an interleague series in June, it represented the historic collision of the last two baseball teams that had never previously played each other. Inspired by that note, loyal reader B.J. Pawlak sank into the research abyss to investigate whether any two NFL teams had never played.
Turned out that, at the time of that Cardinals-Rays series, the Houston Texans and San Francisco 49ers had never met. But that changed on Jan. 1, when they finally dueled in the pressure-packed Reggie Bush Bowl.
Would anyone else out there have guessed that all 30 baseball teams would have met before all 32 NFL teams played each other? We wouldn't have.
• Useless Curse of Michigan Info: Finally, we can't say this was a particularly constructive use of our time. But we've determined that anyone who picks any team from Seattle to win a game played in Detroit clearly hasn't done much homework (or, at least, as much as we did).
After being inspired to pursue this goofy research by our buddy, Ed Price of the Newark Star Ledger, we noticed that the Mariners have lost their last two series in Detroit -- and are 59-93 in games played in Detroit.
But that just led us down a truly ridiculous trail, looking at how other Seattle teams have done in Detroit. Well, it ain't pretty.
The Sonics have lost their last eight in a row in Detroit. And the Seahawks have never won in the state of Michigan (i.e., Detroit or Pontiac).
Yeah, we know this doesn't have much to do with baseball. But uselessness is uselessness.
• Trivia Answer: Tony La Russa (A's and Cardinals), Sparky Anderson (Reds and Tigers) and Dick Williams (A's and Padres).
Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com. Send your Useless Information to firstname.lastname@example.org.