Since 90 percent of football games are played on the weekend, we have the rest of the week to analyze what took place and speculate on what the future might hold.
Baseball, which is played virtually every day from April Fools Day to the end of September, offers us no such luxury. By today, yesterday's game is old news. It's now today's game that matters.
While we have little time to discuss trends, no sport is more subject to them than the one that dominates the summer months. A hot team can go from worst to first lickety-split. A cold one can take itself out of the pennant race so fast its fans wonder what happened.
We get so bogged down in the day-to-day results, we sometimes fail to notice the developing story lines. And that's a shame, especially when a great storyline is developing right before our eyes (and under our noses).
Case in point, the best story of the 2013 season, the Pittsburgh Pirates.
When the season began you would have looked like a fool to predict the Pirates would finish above .500. After all, the last time that happened was 1992. No reason to think this year was going to be any different. Especially after Pittsburgh got off to a fast start the previous two years, but faded down the stretch and continued its frustrating streak.
But look at the standings after Friday's games and the Pirates have the best record in baseball. If you have taken the time to watch the Battling Bucs on Root Sports Pittsburgh, you don't need me to analyze why. Baseball is said to be 90 percent pitching. Even though that is a slight exaggeration, it is indeed the most necessary commodity to be a consistent winner.
Pittsburgh's pitching has been nothing short of remarkable. Jeff Locke is 7-1 with a mind-boggling 2.06 ERA. Francisco Liriano -whose career was in jeopardy - is 6-3 with a 2.30 earned run average. A.J. Burnett, another reclamation project, is a gritty veteran who carries a 3.12 ERA. Wandy Rodriguez, yet another pickup questioned by many, is 6-4 and 3.59. Add rookie Gerrit Cole, who hasn't lost yet-and the starting staff is rock-solid.
But not as solid as the bullpen. When the Pirates shipped closer Joel Hanrahan to the Boston Red Sox, it was a move many questioned.
Yes, Jason Grilli was a reliable setup man, but there's huge difference between that position and the pressure of closing out a game.
Yet, Grilli has been nearly flawless, preserving 26 of 27 wins.
Plus, Mark Melancon, who has appeared in 39 games, has an ERA of just 0.89.
The Pirates may lack a big name pitcher a la a Justin Verlander, but as the third month of the season winds down, Pittsburgh can make a solid case for having the best pitching staff in baseball.
OK, so the Pirates can limit the opposition. But can they score enough runs to win?
Perhaps the best move in a series of good moves by the team's management was the signing of Andrew McCutchen to a long-term commitment. He's become the face of this team. He's intense and aggressive not to mention massively talented. The excitement level when he's at the plate or on the basepaths rises to a fever pitch.
While McCutchen is Pittsburgh's best all-around player, he is far from its only talent. Fellow outfielder Starling Marte matures a little more each game. He's becoming a solid hitter (he's hitting .281) not to mention the team's top base stealer (he's accounted for 40 percent of the Pirates thefts).
Perhaps no everyday player has had more of an impact on the team than Russell Martin, who has become its starting catcher. His hitting stats are just average, but the way he handles pitchers and holds opposing baserunners is a refreshing change from a year ago.
The Pirates have some pop, led by Pedro Alvarez with 15 round-trippers. If this team lacks anything, it's another long ball threat.
The longer this incredible run continues, the more we want to believe. But we have seen this the past two years -albeit to lesser degrees -only to watch the bubble burst.
Yet, there's something different this year. Manager Clint Hurdle seems to make all the right moves. Makes them at the right time. He has instilled a confidence, even a little swagger in a team that may have needed little more than that to believe in itself.
Yes, it's always possible in this sport that is indeed a six-month marathon the Pirates once again will melt into the summer sun and once again be also-rans.
But it no longer seems to be a question of whether Pittsburgh will have a winning season. Rather, it may be time to start talking playoffs, pennant and an October Surprise the likes of which we haven't seen since the 1969 Mets.
What the Penguins couldn't do, the Pirates just might.
Contact Dave Poe at firstname.lastname@example.org