The NFL playoffs are still the best

Jared Wickerham

I've discovered over the years that if you're emotionally invested in a team, any playoff game is torture, no matter the format. However, after experiencing just a half dozen Pirates postseason games, I'm ready for the rest and relaxation of the NFL playoffs--I sure hope Ryan Clark is right.

I've always said that I think the NFL playoffs are the best playoffs of all the playoffs. And after experiencing just six games of the Pirates baseball postseason (and no more, unfortunately), I kind of understand why I love the NFL postseason so darn much.

It's not because a football playoff game is any more intense than a baseball, hockey or basketball playoff game. It's because there's only one of them, and then you move on to the next round--a whole week later (two for the Super Bowl).

But these "best of" playoff series are just torture. Sure, unlike football, your baseball team has a few mulligans if it gets "Tebowed" in a non-elimination game, but the whole idea of getting up for a game every day or every other day is just too much to take on the old ticker. Maybe it's because I haven't experienced baseball playoffs for two decades, but I miss my NFL playoffs. More specifically, I miss my Steelers in the NFL playoffs. I get to anticipate the game. I get to analyze the game. I get to buy snacks and write songs for the game. Heck, I even have time to watch a DVD or two of classic Steelers playoff games from years gone by.

There's no time for any of that in the baseball playoffs.

Last week, the Pirates defeated the Reds in the wild card game and advanced to the NLDS - that's right, if your favorite baseball team doesn't win its division after 162 games but does qualify for the postseason, baseball punishes you by making you sweat out a "winner takes all" single-elimination game to see who advances to the next round.

Fortunately, I drew from my experience of being a spectator of many Steelers playoff games over the years, and this allowed me to endure the anxiety and make it through to the other side. However, just like that, two days later, the Buccos were in St. Louis to take on the mighty Cardinals in Game 1 of the NLDS (National League Division Series). There was no time to celebrate or pop in a DVD. I did listen to "We Are Family" a few times on Youtube, but I swear, I only listened to it for like 15 minutes, and the umpire was already screaming "Play ball," and A.J. Burnett was getting smacked around, as the Pirates fell, 9-1.

The Pirates may have been a little flat after such an awesome playoff victory just a mere 36 hours earlier, but I could say the same for myself--I simply couldn't get up for Game 1.

It just felt unnatural to not have a week to celebrate the first postseason victory for the Pirates in over two decades. That's what's so awesome about the NFL playoffs. You not only get a chance to celebrate for a week, you can even go out and get arrested after celebrating too much, and you'll be out of jail in time for the Divisional Playoffs. You try that after a baseball playoff victory, and you might miss Games 2 and 3.

I've said before that, for many young Pirates fans, 2013 is sort of like how 1972 was for Steelers fans--simply magical--and the exciting Game 3 victory over the Cardinals at PNC Park on Sunday may have been their equivalent to the Immaculate Reception. But none of those kids probably had any time to think up a name for any play that occurred during the game because it was right back to PNC Park for Game 4 a mere 20 hours later. And less than 24 hours after the happiness that surrounded the Game 3 victory, there was sadness following the Game 4 loss.

As I indicated earlier, playoffs are intense, no matter the sport and no matter if it's a "best of" series or just one game--your adrenaline simply doesn't know the difference--and you're just as drained.

But at least in the football playoffs, you can recover. If you liken a football playoff game to dealing with a nest of yellow jackets in your backyard, baseball playoffs are like dealing with a nest of yellow jackets in your back yard, then taking care of a snake underneath your kitchen sink, and then wrestling a bear in your driveway--all in one day.

The Pirates lost their deciding Game 5 in St. Louis, Wednesday night, and I'm a little depressed........but at least I'll now have some time to rest.

Nope, NFL playoffs are still better.

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