It’s a Saturday night in mid-August and once again pro football is overshadowing baseball.

It doesn’t seem to matter that none of these NFL games count or that baseball’s pennant races are heating up.

According to Yahoo!, the top “Trending Now” topic is “NFL preseason.” The only other sports item in the top 10 is golf’s PGA Championship.

Even back-to-school shopping is in the top five.

Baseball is just nowhere to be found.

The Angels’ Jered Weaver getting torched by the Toronto Blue Jays doesn’t resonate as much as Cam Newton playing in his first NFL (fake) game for the Carolina Panthers. The Cincinnati Reds resorted back to their “Big Red Machine” days of the 1970s with seven homers against the San Diego Padres but Andy Dalton’s lackluster debut as Bengals quarterback is receiving more attention.

Even Carlos Zambrano of the Chicago Cubs acting like a fool – oh wait, he’s pulled this moron act before – doesn’t come close to being as hot a discussion topic as whether or not Bears quarterback Jay Cutler has the moxie to lead a team to a Super Bowl title.

Four of baseball’s six divisions have close races going in which the second-place team is three games or less behind the leader. Only the Philadelphia Phillies have a comfortable enough cushion – 8 1/2 games over the Atlanta Braves – to where it would be a surprise if they don’t win the National League East.

But I’m guessing there’s probably been more talk about all the moves the Eagles have made since the NFL lockout ended than the Phillies’ quest to reach the World Series for the third time in four years. Surely, the Atlanta Falcons are outdueling the Braves for attention after going 13-3 during the 2010 season.

Remember, I spent most of life in San Diego and the Padres – even when they have good teams – are always trumped by the San Diego Chargers once training camp opens.

When I covered the Chargers, it would amaze me that upwards of 3,000 fans would flock to the team facility on a hot day to watch a practice. I covered college and pro football teams as a beat reporter for 15 straight years and can assure you there are few things more boring than watching a team practice.

You have to do it because it’s part of the job and you never know when some major news is lurking. But it’s hardly glamorous duty.

The preseason games – NFL teams hate to hear the word “exhibitions” attached to them – are meaningless expect for the few players truly fighting for a roster spot. But NFL fans keep paying attention to them and shelling out major dollars to attend so team owners are only too happy to carry on the notion that the preseason is necessary.

Remember, I kept maintaining the NFL would solve the labor issue before teams lost preseason gate receipts. Funny how an agreement magically came together right as the preseason arrived.

Trust me, it isn’t a coincidence.

There’s really nothing baseball can do about this. Football is a more popular sport.

Fans would rather watch Shawne Merriman do the “Lights Out” dance for the Buffalo Bills, discuss how Chad Ochocinco and Albert Haynesworth will fit in with the New England Patriots or fret over Chris Johnson’s holdout with the Tennessee Titans and worry about how it will affect the order they list running backs per the upcoming fantasy football drafts.

As for baseball, it will get the proper amount of attention when the postseason arrives in October but it just can’t compete with football.

Even exhibitions that don’t count are higher on the interest list with most sports fans than important regular-season baseball games.

Sad but true.


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