The 200th Article: Why My Love for Hockey Has Surpassed My Love for Baseball

Andy Bensch@@AndyBenschSenior Writer INovember 9, 2009

GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 26:  Head coach Todd McLellan of the San Jose Sharks during the preseason NHL game against the Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena on September 26, 2009 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Coyotes defeated the Sharks 2-0.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Ever since my Bleacher Report profile started creeping up towards the 200th article, I started wondering about what topic to cover for the milestone piece.

I ended up going back and forth between just writing another standard article about either one of my three favorite teams, or acknowledging the 200th blog with a special, thought-provoking story.

Well, in a last ditch effort to try and receive the coveted "article of the day" award, I have decided to write a thought-provoking story on why my love of hockey has surpassed my love for baseball.

However, by actually stating the fact I'm going for the "article of the day" it pretty much ruins any chance of that happening.

People aren't gonna choose this blog as a favorite article if I'm straight up asking for your votes.

But I don't mind; I'm not actually writing this article for recognition. I'm merely writing this piece as an intriguing story for my close friends and family to enjoy.

So why has my love of the NHL surpassed my love of MLB?

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I love hockey more than baseball because just as San Jose Sharks head coach Todd McLellan says, hockey is about "the process."

Hockey players and coaches don't focus on 300 goals or 500 assists or 50 shutouts or 60 wins.

NHL teams care about one thing and one thing only. They care about playing their best hockey come April, May, and June. They care about one number, a team number, and that is 16 wins.

Although the first sport I ever loved was baseball, I currently love hockey more than any other sport.

Despite playing T-ball and Little League long before I learned how to play hockey, I now love hockey and the NHL more than baseball and the MLB.

In baseball, there is too much emphasis on milestones and individuals. Who will hit the most home runs this year? Which pitcher will have the lowest ERA? Who will have the most strikeouts?

Apparently in baseball setting a league record in strikeouts and hitting for just a .260 average is okay as long as you hit 40 home runs. Unfortunately for Mark Reynolds of the Diamondbacks, his 40 home runs didn't help his team much, as Arizona finished dead last in its division.

However, can you imagine an NHL team being okay with one of its player setting a league record for the worst plus/minus over an entire season? Even if said player scored 40 goals, team management and fans alike would be all over the guy for his sub-par performance. Especially if the team finished last in its division.

This is why hockey is the better sport: Players have to be accountable for their poor play. Individual numbers don't matter; team success is the goal. All players have to be well-rounded and buy into the team goal.

Unfortunately, it's not the same in baseball. Growing up a Giants fan, I witnessed the second half of the great career of Barry Bonds.

No doubt Bonds was a talented baseball player, but there are two issues I have with Bonds and baseball fans in general.

First, in his record-breaking 73 home run season, his team didn't even make the playoffs. The 2001 Giants fell two games short of the postseason. Perhaps if Bonds wasn't the self-centered star whose locker took up a fourth of the clubhouse, then maybe the Giants would have actually won a championship in the Bonds era.

Yet, they never did. Chemistry amongst the players and winning games took a backseat to No. 25. Especially late in Bonds' career, the numbers 600, 660, 661, 700, 714, 715, 755, and 756 appeared more important than winning.

Secondly, everyone in baseball focuses on the presumed fact that Bonds took steroids and broke all these "sacred" records.

The question I ask baseball fans is: Who cares?

The majority of fans are too engulfed in these milestones. They are too consumed with the steroid scandal and putting asterisks on records.

Instead of focusing on "756", why can't fans just appreciate that steroids or no steroids, Barry Bonds was a great baseball player? Sure he was an "all about me" player and most teammates would probably say he was a "total pr**K" but the process Bonds went through to get to No. 756 was a tremendous feat.

Before bulking up (presumably on steroids), Bonds was an eight-time Gold Glove outfielder, and a premier base stealer to go along with his power stroke. He was an all-around great player.

Let me once again repeat the words of Sharks head coach Todd McLellan, "it's all about the process."

The final result is that Bonds was a selfish player who probably took steroids, but that doesn't negate the fact that he was a Hall of Fame-worthy baseball player. The process he underwent in his career is worthy of recognition.

Despite the fact that Bonds took over the all-time home run record, his potential induction into the Hall of Fame won't affect the legacy of Henry Aaron; the longtime Milwaukee Brave will always be one of baseball's all-time greats.

But if baseball decides to leave all the great players of this generation out of the Hall of Fame because of steroids, then the institution is going to lose credibility.

The current era of baseball has almost all of its greats caught with steroids, but just because their numbers may be a tad inflated, that doesn't make the careers of players in past generations any less significant. Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, and Nolan Ryan will always be household names.

Plus, steroids weren't always banned in baseball and the great players of this generation should be recognized for their pure baseball talent, not punished for eternity due to their mistakes.

But it seems as if players like Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Alex Rodriguez won't ever see the Hall of Fame because the league and its fans are too fixed on milestones and end results.

Why do I love hockey and the NHL more than baseball and the MLB?

Because the typical hockey fan doesn't know the exact numbers of Wayne Gretzky's scoring records. They all know that he is the record holder for goals, assists, and points, but the exact numbers aren't significant.

However, almost the entirety of baseball fans know what the numbers 61, 714, 755, and 762 mean.

NHL teams and fans are focused on more important things. They are focused on the process of winning hockey games, and individual milestones aren't a big deal.

That's why I love it. Winning is and always will be the only thing that matters in the NHL.

Therefore, since winning is about a process, and milestones like 100 goals, 200 steals, 500 homers, etc. are less important, then I ask all my readers to go through some of my older articles.

Please go through my archives and read/comment on some of the pieces that gave me the chance to reach the 200 article milestone.

This piece in itself may be the 200th, but it's not any more important than any of my previous articles.

It's about the process, and I hope my readers can appreciate the process I went through to reach 200 articles.

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