SO LONG AGO
It sure was wonderful this Hall of Fame weekend, wasn't it Bills fans?
Watching Andre Reed get his long deserved gold jacket. Reminiscing about past glories. Reliving some of the great times in Bills history. Seeing the faces of some of the best players in Bills history again. Reed, Bruce Smith, Thurman Thomas, Marv Levy, and of course, Jim Kelly--who is still battling cancer, yet found enough strength to come to Canton to support his good friend and favorite target.
As I listened to the words, relived the memories, and watched the endless highlights, a thought occured to me: those glory days of the Buffalo Bills seem like just yesterday, but were really sooooo long ago!
The Bills went to their last playoff game in January of 2000, following the 1999 season. They played in their last Super Bowl in February of 1994, following their 1993 season.
Father time tricks us. It flies by like a runaway freight train. For me, and countless other Bills fans who were old enough to remember those four straight Super Bowls, the memories are still so thick, it seems like a few short years ago. It's almost difficult to fathom that it has been twenty plus long years since that last Super Bowl appearance.
Since the Bills were last in a Super Bowl, we have had four US Presidents. When the Bills last appeared in a Super Bowl, hardly anyone had a home computer or a cell phone. It's amazing to think about that a baby, born the day after the last Bills Super Bowl appearance, either just graduated college or will soon. If you are reading this, and under the age of about 27 or 28, you probably have no recollections of the Bills playing in a Super Bowl. If you are reading this and you are under the age of 20 or 21, you probably don't even recall the Buffalo Bills playing in a playoff game!
All of you young bucks don't know how great it was. The Bills glory years from 1988-1994 were so good that it's hard to believe now. You don't know what it was like to see the Bills favored to win almost every week. You have no idea how exciting it was to be in Ralph Wilson stadium (then Rich Stadium) for a big game. You don't know what it was like to see a Bills offense that could actually move the ball at will, gain first downs all the way down the field and score plenty of touchdowns each week. You don't know what it was like to see a Bills team that had the talent and leadership and coaching that could allow them to convert a 3rd down and long situation numerous times a game. You probably don't know what it is like to see a defense that is among the league's best.
It is an era that will never be forgotten. It is also an era that the Bills are so long overdue to get back to. When will younger Bills fans be able to see the same kind of success that us 40 and 50-somethings talk about?
I think the current Bills are making strides, and are finally going in the right direction, but there still are a long list of questions:
--Is EJ Manuel really the answer at quarterback? Is he the signal caller that can take the Bills back to the playoffs and consistent success again?
--Is CJ Spiller a durable and big enough back to have 20 plus touches a game that a lead back needs to be successful?
--Will the Williams boys, Mario and Kyle, still be young and productive enough once the Bills finally get good enough to contend every year?
--Is Sammy Watkins destined to become the next dominant wide receiver in the NFL and will he have the quarterback and offensive line necessary to get him the ball consistently?
--Can newcomer Brandon Spikes be the run stuffer the Bills need, especially with Kiko Alonso out for the year, or will the Bills continue to get manhandled on the ground week in and week out?
--Is Doug Marrone and his staff the right coaching staff to get the Bills to the next level of play in the NFL?
--Can anyone step up, like Jim Kelly back in the day, to become the leader of this group and give everyone the winning attitude that has been missing for so long?
If all of these questions can be answered positively, it could be a very fun year at One Bills Drive, and will finally give the young fans something to really cheer about. If they can't, at least all of us middle aged and older fans will still have our memories.
ALL-STAR REVISIONS NEEDED
It seemed to me that for some reason, I was far more invested in this years major league baseball all-star game than I usually am. I followed the vote counts, voted myself a few times, and watched the selection show. I voted for Justin Morneau to be the "extra player" on the NL squad too. It didn't matter to me as much in the AL.
When Monday came, I was in front of my "boob tube", watching the rain-delayed home-run derby. When Tuesday came, I was two feet from a TV in Jeremiahs, with a couple of fellow fantasy baseball owners in my leagues, watching the game and talking about it.
I feel I am pretty "up on things" and have been for a number of decades, when it comes to all-star baseball games. That being said, I have noticed a few things about both the home run derby and the game itself, and wanted to pass along my thoughts for the first time.
Now, as for the home run derby, in general, I liked the changes. The old derby seemed to get boring. With ten outs, it seemed to go on and on, like an endless insurance seminar. Sure, it led to some impressive displays once a player got on a roll--15-25 homeruns were not out of the question--but all too often, the highs weren't worth the lows.
Dropping it to seven outs instead of ten seemed to speed up the rounds a bit, although it seemed much tougher for any of the participants to get on a roll.
I liked the "head to head" matchups by league, and the fact that the top two homer guys in the first round got a bye to the finals, although that was the main reason BOTH of the players who got those byes didn't win. Giancarlo Stanton lost to Todd Frazier in the NL final round by the ignominious total of 1-0, while Jose Bautista had the most homers in the first round of anyone, and waited over two hours before he could hit again. He lost lost in the AL finals to Yoenis Cespedes, who then routed Frazier to win the whole thing. Anyone who was watching knew that would happen, and could have predicted correctly that Frazier had no chance whatsoever against the heating up defending champ.
I've heard some say that it wasn't fair that Cespedes hit every 20-30 minutes, while Bautista had to wait over two hours, and while one (Bautista) was cold, the other (Cespedes) was warmed up and hot. Problem is, I don't see any way to make it fairer. Ask Bautista if he would rather hit in the 2nd round or have a bye and he is going to take a bye every single time. Theoretically, it still should give him a better chance to win than having to win another round in the derby to get to the finals. As it was, it was a "Cespedes for the rest of us", and I was very excited that one of my fantasy baseball players won the derby for the 2nd year in a row.
I think on a warmer, more humid night in a different city than Minnesota, the derby will be much better as it was last night than it has been in the years before that.
I cannot say the same about the all-star game itself.
It was not a terrible reflection of the game itself, which was better than most, and quite entertaining, with the AL winning 5-3. What is ridiculous are the same issues the game has faced for the last 10-20 years.
--Other than the home team, MLB should abolish the ridiculous "every team must be represented in the all-star game" rule. That would allow more "deserving" players to actually get in and make it easier for the selecting manager.
--Instead of taking away players, they are ADDING players! This is utterly ridiculous! They have 34 players per team now, which is about 10 to 15 too many. The players who are voted in should play at least three innings each, maybe more. The second line players who are truly having the best years should play the rest of the games. There could be maybe three of the eight position players who could have three players play that position during the game. Each league should need no more than ten pitchers (one per inning in a regular game plus one for extra innings). The Starting pitcher should go at least three innings, unless they are getting totally ripped.
--There needs to be some kind of standardization of how many starting pitchers and how many relief pitchers can be elected to each team. It is ridiculous that one league could choose 8 or 9 relief pitchers and 4 or 5 starters, while the other league chooses 9 starters and 4 relief pitchers. In a single game elimination like the all-star game, a team with 9 relief pitchers who are used to pitching one inning max, and all throw 100 mph smoke would have a serious advantage over a team that has 9 starters who are used to going 6 or 7 innings and pacing themselves. Starting next season, baseball needs to say, "In next season's all-star game, each league must select ____ starting pitchers and _____ relief pitchers. It doesn't matter what the numbers are, it just needs to be uniform.
Adding it all up, if you have eight players voted in as starters who play at least three innings, plus another eight, who five of the eight play the rest of the game, while three others play...that equals 19 (8+8+3). Then, you add in the ten pitchers, and the way I see it, each roster should be limited to no more than 29, and that is a liberal number.
To get rid of another three, you could say that the starters play at least five innings, and then each position player is allowed ONE backup, who will play the remainder of the game. That equals 26 players per team. Actually, that seems to be about right to me.
Another thing baseball did better this year (and I believe this was the first year for it but I am just going by memory)--they started the pre-game introductions at 7:30 instead of 8. That allowed hundreds of thousands of young fans to see the end of the game for the first time in their lives.
Baseball doesn't know a lot, but at least they are doing some things right. They are doing some things better too. Now if only they listen to me and read this column, they would be well on their way to making the all-star game what it used to be--a true summer classic.
RYAN'S HOPE: TO KEEP HIS JOB
He took his team to the conference finals in his first two years as a head coach in one of the NFL's largest media markets.
He became a media darling, loved for his quick wit and press conference quips that brought guffaws from a room full of media members and journalists.
He practically became a rock star after starring on HBO's "Hard Knocks" pre-season show.
He survived numerous scandals largely unscathed. One of the scandals--an embarrassing video clip of his appreciation for his wife's pretty feet. Another one had to deal with his use and abuse of a former Heisman winning quarterback.
Of course, I am talking about Rex Ryan, the current head coach of the New York Jets. I say current largely because I believe there is no way that ther word "current" doesn't change in the next few days, and become the word "former".
Ryan was the king of the Big Apple in 2009 and 2010. He had perhaps the league's dominant defense, and New Yawkers everywhere loved his renegade, "old-school" approach. He would talk about "smash mouth" football, and running the ball down the opponents throats, and letting his defense do the rest. Even with a rookie and then 2nd year quarterback, Mark Sanchez, the Meadowlands was a place teams didn't want to go, especially in January.
Ryan actually did most of his damage away from home though those first two years. He won in Cincinnati and then San Diego his first year, before losing to the Colts in a close one in the conferencce finals. Then Ryan's Jets won at Indy and then New England the following year--upsetting future hall of famers Peyton Manning and Tom Brady on back to back weeks--before losing in Pittsburgh in another close conference championship game.
For Rex Ryan though, those would be the best of times, and things would go downhill from there.
An 8-8 season in 2011, followed by a 6-10 campaign last year. This year, Ryan may have done his best coaching job yet, coaching a Geno Smith-led team to a .500 record at best (the Jets game with the Dolphins is tied in the first half as I write this).
In the New York media market, those records are just not good enough. Ryan's witty quotes and machinations are great when you are winning. When you are losing however, they lose quite a bit of luster.
What it boils down to is that I don't see how Woody Johnson, the Jets owner, allows Rex to keep his head coaching job next year.
Ryan depended far too much on his defense. He never developed a halfway decent offensive system and/or didn't bring in the right offensive coordinator and other offensive people. When key injuries, like the ones to defensive tackle Kris Jenkins or cornerback Darrell Revis happened, there was not enough depth or offensive proficiency to compensate.
Ryan stuck far too long with Mark Sanchez at quarterback. It was hard for Ryan to not show loyalty after Sanchez's post season heroics in both of their first two years. When Sancvhez struggled, especially last year, Ryan didn't have the balls, or was too lazy, to make the switch and put Tim Tebow in as the Jets full time starter.
The way the whole Tebow thing was handled by Ryan was a mess from start to finish. In retrospect, it became obvious Ryan never wanted to acquire Tebow, and single-handedly ruined Tebow's career in the league. Using Tebow in punt block packages and other bizarre situations, as well as not playing him at quarterback
hardly at all ruined any credibility Tebow had left. If Ryan had been able to put aside his pride and stubbornness and pulled that trigger, that 6-10 season last year could have been 10-6 behind Tebow. For that decision alone, Ryan deserves to be fired.
This year, Ryan made the gutsy decision to go with unproven Geno Smith as his starting quarterback. Of course, after Sanchez suffered a season ending shoulder injury when he was inexplicably put in the game in
the 4th quarter of a meaningless pre-season game, he didn't really have a choice. Because of that injury, Ryan had to stick with a woefully ineffective Smith at QB most of the season. Ryan only did it to himself. Putting Sanchez in to win a pre-season game is reason enough for Ryan's ouster.
I could be wrong of course. I was wrong once. But I will be absolutely SHOCKED if I am wrong this time. I don't think it will take long either. After the Jets finish their season most likely losing to the Dolphins, I expect to see a press conference at Jets headquarters by Tuesday afternoon, explaining Ryan's firing.
Ryan's legacy in New York will be more like Jerry Glanville than Weeb Ewbank, but he will be alright. Ryan will be hired again--most likelly as a defensive coordinator like his brother Rob, and he will be extremely successful at it. I even think Ryan will be a head coach in the NFL again someday.
Hopefully for Ryan, he will inherit a much better quarterback situation next time.
I know it's late in the game, and that you are probably flying over the Ukraine in your sled right now, but I'm sure you have a wireless GPS and an iPad, so here are some last minute requests of what I'd like for Christmas in the coming year....
--First of all, I'm not sure if there is anything you can do about this, but I'd LOVE to be selected to be in the phase one clinical trial for my eye disease at the University of Pennsylvania. It would mean so much to me to be a part of an experimental trial that could possibly save whatever sight I have left for the rest of my life.
--I would like to have continued good health and mental well being in the coming year. I know Obamacare is here to rescue everybody, but I'd prefer not to have to test it.
--I'd like an official Red Ryder carbine action two hundred shot range model air rifle! What can I say. I love that movie.
--I'd like to win at least two fantasy football league changionships next year. I know I won one this year, but I'm greedy. Same for baseball. Even though I won a title this year, another one next year would be wonderful.
--I'd like to see my 14 year old dog and 21 year old cat be able to live until at least next Christmas
--I'd like to see EJ Manuel live up to his potential and become a dangerous quarterback for the Buffalo Bills next year. While I'm at it, I'd like to see the best available and highest rated offensive lineman in the draft go to the Bills to protect him. Also, I'd love to see sixteen games of 100% health for CJ Spiller.
--I'd like to see my Chicago Bulls trade Luol Deng and/or Carlos Boozer for at least one first round lottery pick in next years NBA draft.
--I would love to see Tiger Woods regain his top form and re-establish himself atop the golf world for at least one final year of past glory, winning at least one major and re-establishing himself as the worlds top golfer. It would be great for the game if he could.
--I would love to see Pat LaFontaine pick a very good head coach for the Buffalo Sabres. Speaking of the Sabres, I wouldn't mind seeing them trade Ryan Miller if they could somehow get a first round draft pick for him. Finally, I'd love to see them draft a fast Canadian or American sniper with one of their draft picks, instead of a slow, plodding Euro or Russian forward who is big but doesn't hit and has poor scoring abilities. It'd be nice to see one of their young draft picks who could put the puck in the net, no matter how small he may be.
--I'd really like to see my wife's hometown team, the Denver Broncos, win the Super Bowl. It would create such happiness and family unity here in the Schaller household, and get Peyton Manning a much deserved 2nd Championship ring.
--I would like to see Kevin Durant get over the hump that is Lebron James, and finally win his first NBA championship.
--For at least one year, I would like nothing better than to see every major sport go through a season with total labor peace and harmony, with no threats of any strikes, lockouts or work stoppages of any kind.
--I would love it if somehow you could give the Syracuse Orange the national champion Santa. With exciting young point guard Tyler Ennis, CJ Fair and company, and no true dominant team out there, this shouldn't be too hard for you, should it?
--I would love to see you get Alex Rodriguez to finally take his punishment, and have to sit out most of the
year, then have him retire soon after out of embarrassment.
--I would like to see the Yankees win one more very good starting pitcher and a solid closer. As much as I root against the Yankees, baseball is only really fun when the Yankees are good.
--Finally, I'd love to see the United States dominate the Olympic winter games, including a gold medal for the US in hockey.
I hope you all get just what you want for Christmas this year, and that you and your loved ones enjoy a happy and healthy holiday season. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!
TIME TO REPEAL FIRST AMENDMENT?
Our society is changing.
Many people would say it is changing for the better. We no longer tolerate racism, sexism, homophobia or anti-gay people, ethno-centrism or extremely religious Christian zealots. Anyone who outspokenly exhibits any of these traits or beliefs are immediately branded, raked over the coals and shunned.
The current political correctness in our American society has made everything so much better, hasn't it?. Everyone better watch their P's and Q's, fall in line with the rest of the mindless drones who don't have any opinion, or if they do--do NOT express it publicly.
The lines have been drawn. Certain people have found out what happens when you cross them. Marge Schott, Jimmy the Greek, Al Campanis, Rush Limbaugh were busted for crossing that line over the past two decades. More recently, Paula Deen, myself, and now Phil Robertson have stepped over that line and got whacked.
All those names above had the courage, and in most cases, either stupidity or ignorance, to say something that they believed, or was their opinion. They also all had the mistaken belief that they were living in a free country, with an established amendment to the country's constitution providing freedom of speech and freedom of the press.
It is therefore my belief that it is time to repeal that amendment.
The first amendment gives ALL Americans the right to free speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, as well as the right to assemble, protest and petition the government.
--Phil Robertson recently proved once again that we don't have free speech.
--There hasn't been a newspaper in the country who has written anything bad about Obama in six years.
--School districts have removed the pledge of allegiance from most school's because it has the word God in it, and God has been taken out of most government buildings. schools and businesses.
--Finally, it seems any time anyone protests the policies of the current administration in Washington, the national guard gets called in.
No, most of those freedoms and rights in that stupid ol' first amendment have about as much meaning as a Will Ferrell movie, so lets just get rid of it!
In case you haven't heard about Phil Robertson, well, join the club. I had never heard of the guy until a few days ago, when something he said in a GQ magazine interview lit up twitter, news channels and social media feeds like a Christmas tree.
Apparently, this Phil Robertson is some "good ol' boy" from Louisiana, who was fortunate enough to have fallen into reality show stardom on some show called "Duck Dynasty". Now I don't know Duck Dynasty from the Ming dynasty, so I had to look it up.
Phil Robertson said that, to him, homosexuality is a sin, and that he didn't believe that a man loving a man in the biblical way, was right. He didn't mention anything about a woman and a woman, but that's beside the point. He was subsequently suspended by the network that airs the show indefinitely.
Why should this guy lose his (nicely paying) job just because he doesn't have the same beliefs as the political correctness machine? While I'm at it, why do the networks and news organizations have to cover this "story" like he committed a triple homicide? This whole political correctness BS is getting out of control!!!
Here is another way of looking at it. If gay people and black people and other minorities didn't have the first amendment right to speak out about how things were, where would they be now? I'll tell you where. Black people would still be at the back of the bus and gay people would still be in the closet. Now, when anyone says anything that goes against the machine, everyone gets a geather up their butts. You can't have it both ways folks!
I lost my job because of similar circumstances. I said that the LPGA golf tour was losing popularity and fans in America because they have too many Asian golfers playing on the tour, and that perhaps they should think about capping the number of them getting on the tour. I have nothing against Asian people--I was being PRO LPGA and trying to offer a helpful suggestion. After all, the Japanese professional baseball league has a limit of only two US born players per team. Americans cheer for americans at the olympics. They don't cheer for foreigners. This is an American based tour. I didn't think what I said was that inflammatory, yet in addition to being fired, I was a national news story, was reviled as a racist, and actually called the "racist of the week" nationally by one website. I think many cult-member followers of "Deadspin", who don't have lives of their own, still think I am "the new Hitler". Maybe they, and the gay and lesbian groups can now tab Phil Robertson to take oer that mantle from me and Mrs Deen.
Seriously though, it is an unfortunate situation that people's lives can be so negatively affected by speaking their minds or being upfront about their core belief system or religious upbringing, especially in a country that is supposed to protect peoples rights to speak them. We have lost over one an a half million American servicemen in all of this country's wars to protect this first amendment and each and every other amendment in the constitution. Let us not forget that.
Either we need to repeal the first amendment, and have a country of mindless, un-opinionated zombies....or keep it and all of our other rights and protections around, and everyone needs to just LIGHTEN UP!
MILLER SHOULDN'T GET INTO HALL
The major league baseball hall of fame will divulge their inductees for this years Hall of Fame induction in just a few weeks. On January 8th we will learn who will be the newest HOF'ers to be enshrined in Cooperstown.
As of right now, we know that Joe Torre, Tony LaRussa and Bobby Cox will all be in. The three were elected by baseball's expansion era committee this week. They are three excellent choices, and have been three of the best managers of our current era. In fact, you could make a strong case for Torre to get in as a player too--his numbers are that good. When you add in his managerial credentials, he is a no-brainer. Same for Cox and LaRussa. The amount of division titles and playoff appearances from that duo is among the best of any manager to get in.
As for the rest of the possible choices, I know one that I would never elect if I had a vote, and that person would be Marvin Miller.
Marvin Miller is the longtime leader of the BLB players union. Many educated observers of the baseball hall of fame and its voting, seem to think Miller should be a shoo-in to be elected. They say that the fact that he hasn't been elected already is a terrible injustice. They say the game of baseball wouldn't be the same right now without the contributions of Miller. They say he is the main reason why players are being paid how they are, and how wonderful that is.
If I had a vote (and sadly, I don't) Marvin Miller would never get into the hall of fame. The Miller backers say that the definition of enshrinement include the person's contributions to the game--that the game is markedly better because of them. That he had an impact on the game. They say this most definitely applies to Miller. I say it's the opposite.
I say that Marvin Miller has actually been a DETRIMENT to the game of baseball. He had an impact on the game no doubt, but it was a NEGATIVE impact. More recent player union boss Donald Fehr has said that nobody meant more to the game of baseball in the first half of the 20th century than Jackie Robinson, and nobody meant more in the second half of the century than Marvin Miller.
He's half right.
Miller took over as the player union boss in 1968 when that union was nothing more than a handmaiden of the owners. After the reserve clause was thrown out and free agency began, Miller negotiated the league's first collective bargaining agreement, almost single-handedly changed the salary structure in the game in just a couple of years. In other words, he priced the average fan out of the game.
When I was 9 years old, I remember going to spring training game in Florida for the price of a typical Red Wing game. $7 bucks would get you box seats. $5 would get you in the reserved seat section and for $3 bucks, you get in on general admission tickets. Now, according to seatcrunch.com, the average ticket price for a spring training baseball game last spring was $60 bucks!
Same thing goes for regular season games. When I went to a Cleveland Indians game with my aunt and unle in Ohio in 1975, the ticket stub (I still have it) says $12 dollars. Now, you can't walk through the gates of a major league baseball stadium for less than $50 bucks, unless you are taking a stadium tour. This is all largely to Marvin Miller. During his tenure as union chief, the average salary for a major league baseball player went from $19,000 in 1968 to $326,000 in 1982. That increase came right out of fans pockets, and now with average salaries over $3 million dollars (according to ESPN), fans won't be getting anything back anytime soon.
Miller was also instrumental in the game missing 50 games in 1981 due to a player strike, and his policies
were instrumental in two other strikes.
You want to talk hall of fame? Yeah, Marvin Miller would be in the players hall of fame. As for this fan, Miller will hold a perennial spot in my baseball hall of shame.
NFL RIVERBOAT GAMBLERS
I have noticed something about this current NFL season. If you are a faithful watcher of many of the games, chances are you have noticed it too.
NFL coaches have completely changed their mindset from just a couple years ago, and have gotten far more gutsy than they used to be.
Just a few short years ago (think the Dick Jauron years in Buffalo), the thought of going for a first down on a 4th down situation on the opponents 35-45 yard line was given about as much thought as Tom Cruise deciding whether to be in "Porky's 4". If a team was 4th and a couple yards at any point in the game, the mindset was "60%--punt, 39.999%--attempt a long field goal, and .001%--leave your offense on the field and go for the first down.
Same thing goes for a 4th down situation on the opponents one or two yard line. A team has a 4th and goal at the one or two, and the prevailing thought was "we need to come away from this drive with SOME points. We have to kick a field goal".
That is no longer the case
You see it every game. Teams faced with these situations and instead of playing conservative, coaches are deciding to let it ride and go for the first down. In some cases, even shocked fans are questioning these decisions.
I'm not saying I am against this new way of thinking either. I am just saying that I have noticed the change and am puzzled by it.
Some friends and I were out at a local watering hole last night watching the Saints dismantle the Panthers, and I mentioned that I had noticed this trend. The results of the discussion were varied.
We decided that there were a number of reasons for this change in philosophy. One of them was that many creative coaches in the league, like Bill Belichick and Sean Payton, have shown that they are not afraid to gamble, buck the old "here's what the book says you do", and have had success with it. Other caiches notice this, and mimic the philosophy, hoping for similar success.
Another reason for this is that the rules favoring the offenses, combined with the enforcement of player safety, makes it more of an offensive league. Getting first downs is easier because of this. Teams try to outscore each other more often than they try to "out-defense" them. That puts more of a premium on points, and since seven is more than three, forces them to think differently.
The other reason we could think of is that there is much more focus on percentages now. This "sabrmetric" approach says that there is a 70% chance of scoring a touchdown from the one yard linefor example, or 60% chance from the two, and coaches like thaat better than the 95% chance of getting the sure three points. Same thing goes for a 4th and 1 from the 40 yard line. If the chance of getting a first down is 65 percent, and the chances of punting and the ball going into the endzone is 75 percent, and the other team chances of scoring on that subsequent drive is 35 percent, then they feel the odds are better to go for it.
So anyways, there is a trend of coaches to be more liberal. I would like to propose some ideas to counteract that thinking and make coaches think even more.....
Firstly, how about moving the extra point try from the ten to the 35. Watching that Eagles-Lions game yesterday where the conditions were so bad for kicking that only one extra point or field goal was attempted the whole game, made me think how fun it was that both teams had to go for two every time. So, if you move
the extra point try to a kick that is more of a 70-75% chance of accuracy instead of 99% makes it a much tougher choice for coaches.
Here is my other idea, and this is a bit radical, but it sure would be fun, is to eliminate the kicker from the game entirely! Think about it. Every situation, you would have to have a position player attempt a field goal if you wanted to go that route, or make "going for it" in every situation much more expected. Also, whenever a team scored a touchdown, whatever player scored the touchdown had to be the player who had to kick the extra
point (if they keep the extra point at the ten), or the team could go for two. Wouldn't THAT be interesting!
Either way, I think those two choices would make watching NFL games even more fun and interesting for fans, players and coaches.
Of course, neither of those things will ever happen, but it is fun to think about. What do you think?
YANKEES TELL CANO "GO WEST YOUNG MAN"
Big news today from the hot stove league, otherwise known as baseball's off-season. Robinson Cano is heading out to Seattle. Cano signed a monstrous ten year contract that is worth $240 million dollars--the third highest contract ever.
It never ceases to amaze me how sports teams will spend like drunken sailors. Each time a big name player enters the free agent market and asks for an exorbitant amount of money, I wonder to myself, "Will this be the time the player blinks first and has to lower his demands after there are no suitors?"
That hasn't happened yet.
It was a huge win for Cano and his agent, Jay Z, a rapper who announces his resense in the world of the sports agent with a thunderclap. $240 million dollars is definitely nothing to complain about. Will that kind of money be easy for Cano to live up to though. I say, doubtfully.
First of all, Cano is going to Seattle and Safeco field, where homeruns go to die. There were 58 percent more homeruns hit by left handed batters at Yankee stadium than there were in Safeco last year. So, if that stat holds true, Cano's hoerun total could fall from 11 homers hit at home to 5. If that were to happen, his homerun total would drop from 27 to 21. Fans might be questioning paying that kind of money to a guy who hits 21 homeruns.
Also, Cano isn't known as his hustle. He is a guy who often doesn't run out ground balls, can be lackadaisical at times in the field, and is sometimes perceived as a "lazy" player. Putting that kind of money into a guy like Cano's hands sets up potential problems for home boo birds if Cano doesn't hit lights out all year every year.
The other problem for Seattle is that a contract like Cano's puts the M's in salary cap jail for years to come. How will the Mariners be able to surround Cano with great talent if they are paying him such an exorbitant amount of money? That is the question that they will have to answer now for a number of years.
As for Yankees fans, their reaction had to be "Noooo....say it ain't so Cano!" upon hearing the news. Well, let me put a rosier glow on your pin stripe glasses Yankee fan--the Yankees did the right thing in letting him walk.
This could be the first time I have ever said this in my lifetime, but the Yankees made the financially prudent decision.
First of all, the Yankees have already made moves to replace him. A couple of weeks ago, the Yankees signed all-star catcher Brian McCann. McCann is a no nonsense, spitfire of a player, who will give the Yankees the talent and grit at the position that they haven't had since Thurman Munson. McCann will be a clubhouse leader for many years to come in New York.
A couple of days ago, the Yankees also signed Jacoby Ellsbury away from the Red Sox. This is significant for two reasons. One, it gives the Yankees another exciting player who can do a lot of things on the field, is in his prime, and will improve their outfield defense. Secondly, it significantly weakens their biggest rival, the Red Sox.
The best part of these signings is that they will set the Yankees back a little less than a hundred million dollars less than if they had re-signed Cano. In fact, those signings make a lot more sense now. New York never planned on showing Robby Cano the money. And that is a good thing.
Letting Cano walk will allow the Yankees to have the financial flwxibility they never would have had if they had signed him. In the past, the old George Steinbrenner days, he would have written the check to re-sign one of "his guys" and dealt with the repercussions later.
That won't happen this time, and the Yankees will be much better for it. Letting him go will allow them to continue their controlled rebuild under more control, and allow them to re-establish dominance quicker.
Letting Cano walk was the right choice. It really was the only choice.
I just watched a true sports travesty.
I am not a Redskin fan, nor a Giants fan, but I know one thing: what I just watched was, pardon my language, a fuckup of monumental proportions. It was so bad, I still can hardly believe it happened.
The New York football Giants were leading 24-17 in the 4th quarter with two and a half minutes left. The Washington Redskins were driving and had made a few first downs, and were gathering some momentum. With the ball on the 41 yard line of Washington, a pass was completed to Pierre Garcon that was near a first down. As the officials took the ball and moved it to the center of the field for the next play.
This is where things all went to hell.
The head referee apparently thought the ball was obviously short and signaled third down with his fingers. He also apparently failed to tell any of his fellow officials.
The line judge apparently thought the pass to Garcon resulted in a first down. He yelled to the chain gang marking the first down line to change the down marker to a "1" and move the chains.
Washington coach Mike Shanahan and his offensive coordinators apparently saw the number one on the sticks, and called a deep out--a typical call for a first down play, and not one that would have been called for a 3rd and down and less than a yard. In Shanahan's post game press conference, he stated that he asked for a measurement and was told "we don't need a measurement. It's a first down". Unless he's lying, that's enough for me to say ther's eomething rotten in Denmark!
Ultimately, as everyone on the field, in the announcing booth, and in the home stands realized what was going on, the Redskins would throw an incompletion to Fred Davis, and after a respot, complete a pass to Pierre Garcon, which was then fumbled and recovered by the Giants, who would then kneel and run out the clock.
What was amazing is that no one knows what downs those plays were! Here is the official play by play run down from NFL.com:
2-5-WAS41(2:00) (Shotgun) R.Griffin pass short middle to P.Garcon to WAS 45 for 4 yards (J.Williams) [D.Moore].
1-10-WAS46(1:37) (No Huddle, Shotgun) R.Griffin pass incomplete deep middle to F.Davis (A.Rolle).
4-1-WAS45(1:29) R.Griffin pass short right to P.Garcon to NYG 49 for 6 yards (W.Hill). FUMBLES (W.Hill), RECOVERED by NYG-W.Hill at NYG 49. W.Hill to WAS 43 for 8 yards (P.Garcon).
See what I mean? It says that Griffin completed a 4 yard pass to Garcon, then on first and ten, an incompletion to Davis. THEN, mysteriously it became 4th down and one!
Here is the rub: if Washington KNEWWWWW it was a 3rd down and less than a yard, they would have called plays completely differently! After the incompletion to Davis, the officials STILL had not sufficiently notified Washington's coaches that it was 4th down and a foot. The Redskins would again have called a totally different play than the one they called.
I know some of you will say, "what's the big deal? It's just a game". No, this was more than just a game. This monumental blunder by referee Jeff Triplett goes way beyond just a simple mistake. Lives were affected. Or maybe I should say "could have been affected".
Maybe the Redskins would have still fumbled, been intercepted or went four and out on that final drive if they had known the right down. Maybe, and if so, the right team won, and no controversy would follow. Fact is though, the way things went down, we will never know, and the Redskins were deprived of a fair chance to do so.
If things were done right, and Washington goes down the field and scores to tie it, then won it on overtime, who knows? Perhaps they could have used the momentum from that win to go on a huge run, like they did last year, and maybe squeeze into a wild card spot. A loss like that would just about kill the Giants post season hopes.
As it is though, the Redskins are out of the playoffs now. That could affect attendance in the nations capitol. It could affect ratings, advertising dollars for those games, team revenue from concession sales and vendor sales, and a whole lot of other incidentals. The Giants win gives them a much better chance at sneaking into a
playoff spot, increasing their fortunes. It's just unfortunate that they have to walk away from this game with a "what if" rattling around in their minds.
What I believe SHOULD HAVE HAPPENED is that as soon as the referee realized his line judges had the downs wrong, he should have shut it down. Stop the clock, and reset it to the time it was after the four yard completion to Garcon. If a play was run, wipe it out! They wipe out plays on many penalties, they can and should have done it then. If a second play is run and there is STILL confusion, like in this case--then wipe them BOTH out!
It was YOUR line judges confusion. It was the referres inability to properly communicate the situation to the rest of his crew. It should be up to them to get this right, which they absolutely didn't. Any way you look at it, it's another black and white eye to the NFL.