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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Football, baseball spark different kind of fandom

Football is a whole lot more fun when your team is winning,

Have you noticed? Your Facebook page has a whole lot fewer Seattle Seahawks memes popping up, and the number keeps declining each time a fourth-quarter lead evaporates.

That’s not to say that football fans are front runners who leap off the bandwagon during a bad stretch. But it’s hard to feel giddy about your fandom when your rivals are celebrating on your home field.

Seahawks fans are still out there in force. My grocery store looks like the Century Link locker room on game days because every staffer there is wearing a Seahawks jersey and shoppers are wearing T-shirts, sweatshirts and jerseys.

Cougar fans are euphoric and grow more so with each passing week and each consecutive win. Alums are chomping at the bit to buy tickets and make travel plans the second Washington State accepts a bid to a bowl game. For the first time in what feels like forever, the November focus is on the thought of a late December, or dare we say it out loud, a Jan. 1 game instead of the Apple Cup.

Football is like that. It sparks a passion in its fans equal to the intensity its players display on the field. The fans, the players, they feed one another and it can be exhausting.

Which makes baseball all that much more fascinating.

The World Series has been over now for weeks and still, the baseball-loving world is still fully engaged in the sport.

Who should win the Rookie of the Year award? The Cy Young? Should Joe Maddon or Terry Collins win the NL Manager of the Year award?

Mariners fans who gave up on the season in July are suddenly fascinated by the moves new General Manager Jerry Dipoto is making. Already he’s brought in a new arm, a future prospect to play center field, a top-notch reliever to upgrade the bullpen arm this week and a gold-glove quality center fielder.

What other deals does he have up his sleeve? Perhaps a trade for a first baseman now that Logan Morrison is gone?

There’s the entire debate about the Hall of Fame – should Ken Griffey Jr. be voted in unanimously, something denied to the likes of Babe Ruth and Willie Mays, Ted Williams and Ty Cobb? How close will Edgar Martinez get to the hall this year?

And there’s the entire circus surrounding free agency to get wrapped up in. Can the Cubs sign David Price? Will the Astros pay for the flame-throwing closer that would have made the difference in their series with the Kansas City Royals? Will the notoriously tight-fisted Orioles pony up the cash for Chris Davis?

What about the Mariners chances in free agency? Will they shop for another big bat for that lineup? Someone like Yoenis Cespedes?

The late, great George Carlin did a timeless monologue about the differences between baseball and football. It’s a magnificent piece of writing about how the language of the two sports is vastly different.

But the biggest difference between football and baseball doesn’t ultimately lie in the language. It lies in the passions it sparks in its fans – the same fans.

Football is like a love affair that sparks to life in September and burns white hot until, if you’re lucky, the Super Bowl. It leaves you with burning memories and a hangover that abates once the weather thaws.

Baseball is more of a long-term relationship. It has its share of heat, yes, but when its not aflame it’s smoldering away. It never goes away, and all it takes to turn to flame once again is an exciting rumor, a tender memory or a piece of news.

Just like any long-term love, the cherished memories come flooding back. That catch you saw Griffey make, climbing the wall in the old Kingdome. The play Omar Vizquel made for the final out of Chris Bosio’s no-hitter with the Mariners. Edgar Martinez hitting the shot heard around the Northwest, driving Griffey in from first to beat the Yankees and save baseball in Seattle.

It’s the kind of love that never goes away.

Steve Christilaw can be reached at steve.christilaw@gmail.com.

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