Love him or hate him, Carlos Gomez is just what Milwaukee needs

Tell me the last time you watched part of a Milwaukee Brewers game. You can’t, unless it was this:

or this

There are the Yankees and Dodgers and Red Sox and Cardinals, then your Rangers/Braves/Tigers/Pirates, and then the Brewers, Royals, Rays, and Padres – teams you think of last when doing this trivia question.

But Carlos Gomez has altered this. Whether you like him or not, Gomez’s short fuse and propensity to get under opponents’ skin has shed his vulnerability to indifference, a trait too easy to tag to anyone who plays in Wisconsin, no offense.

Bernie Mac didn’t play for the Red Sox or Phillies in Mr. 3000. He played for the Milwaukee Brewers; it was slightly more expensive than making up an MLB team #LikeMike.

Maybe you love Carlos Gomez. Maybe you don’t. But if you’re familiar with his work over the last ten months, it’s hard to not have an opinion on him. Indifference is a television program’s worst nightmare.

When was the last time you had a reason to watch the Milwaukee Brewers. Any Robin Yount fans reading this?

In TV, it’s all about the ratings, and Gomez has finally given the Brewers a semblance of attraction to the average fan. Brewers ratings will be a a tad higher this year than any since their playoff push in 2008. I’ll guarantee it.

Maybe the Mets should have held on to this guy…

A Blizzard in Super Bowl XLVIII Would Be a Big Win for Football

What were you doing when you were seven years old? Video games? Cartoons? Playing outside with your neighborhood contemporaries?

I loved video games, probably a little too much. But every year, New Jersey treated us to its seemingly annual blizzard. Homework got pushed back a day or two, and everyone knew how they would substitute their school day.

Football.

Football was a run-of-the-mill option on regular days. Throw it in the rotation with basketball, tennis racket baseball, skateboarding, man hunt.

But when it snowed, everyone reported to the Common Ground.

It’s like playing football on a Tempurpedic Mattress. Every catch was a diving attempt, the trusty double-reverse hail mary was out of the arsenal because no one could hold onto the ball, and you actually considered punting.

Snow adds that extra dimension – to any sport. It has given us some of the best games of all time:

Snowplow game, Dolphins/Patriots, December 12, 1982 (wiki)

Conditions were so poor for this game, work release inmates were asked to plow the 10, 20, etc. yard markers for officials. Inmate and Patriots fan Mark Henderson decides to clear the spot from where the Patriots kicked the eventual game-winning field goal. The fourth-quarter score accounted for the only points of the sloppy contest.

2008 Winter Classic, Penguins/Sabres, January 1st, 2008 (wiki)

During blizzard-like conditions, the puck wouldn’t slide and players looked like they were first learning how to skate. The Penguins won in a shootout.

Yankees 1996 Home Opener, Royals/Yankees, April 9, 1996 (box score)
A mundane 7-3 Yankees win became a Yankees Classic when snow fell for much of the mid-April day. The Royals committed four errors in Derek Jeter’s first Home Opener.

Snow adds an extra dimension. The playing field becomes level. That’s why I enjoy watching the pro-bowl. I don’t care it’s not “real football.” It’s entertaining. It’s different.

The main premise of this post is the excitement of the potentially unexpected and never seen is desirable enough to push aside the potential damage of the weather’s byproduct implications.

The opposition argument is certainly sound – how can you let an unpredictable force play a crucial role in perhaps sports’ biggest annual game? If you’re a fan of an elite team, I understand. But for the other 93% of fans who won’t be represented, I think a blizzard would be fun to see.

As a 2013 Giants fan, I won’t have to worry about that 7%.

The 2001 Yankees is Sports’ Greatest Tragedy Story

On November 4th 2001, I was lying in bed listening to game 7 of the 2001 World Series on radio. My father wouldn’t let me watch past a certain time because I had school the next day. I forget when, but at some point he came into my room and invited me into his to watch. I’ll never forget that.

My team was coming off three consecutive World Series wins and on the verge of number four. As an 11 year old, I  had only seen success. Four World Series championships watered down by my spoiled subconscious telling me, “Of course the Yankees will win.” I had never seen anything different.

And then this happened.

In that moment, shock, confusion, and disbelief showed me sports are never scripted. It’s the ultimate reality television. My team is mortal.

But wasn’t it supposed to be the perfect storm?

The Capital of the World, ravaged by arguably the worst terrorist attack in recordable history, overcomes all odds to win the championship of America’s Pastime, odds that included:

– A month earlier: Derek Jeter’s game-saving flip to Jorge Posada against the Athletics helped the Yankees rally from two games down to win the ALDS
– Four days prior: A ninth-inning, two-run, game-tying home run preceded an extra-inning walk-off win at Yankee Stadium
– Three days prior: The same thing, off the same pitcher

(According to baseball reference, entering the ninth inning, the Yankees had a 10% chance to win those games. One in 100 to win both)

It’s tough to paint the Yankees as the victim in sports’ greatest tragedy, but that’s what gives this story the added dimension – everyone hates the Yankees. September 11th temporarily changed that, and never again will the Evil Empire have more likeability than they did that postseason.

My thesis statement here is the headline of this article. The pieces were in place for a perfect story.

Until the last chapter, it was.

The goat of that last chapter, Mariano Rivera will retire at the end of the 2013 season. The greatest closer of all time will no longer throw his golden pitch. The number 42 will never again make the red carpet jog from the Yankee Stadium bullpen to its mound. Enter Sandman will be retired.

Yes, players of all sports post tangible numbers, but different fans assign different weight to different stats, thus rarely is one player unanimously rendered “The Greatest”.

Can you make the argument why Mariano Rivera isn’t the greatest closer of all time?

*Arguing a “closer” needs to throw more than an inning, ala Goose Gossage or Dennis Eckersley, is the sole sound argument I’ve heard against Rivera, but I think that argument is lame when stacked up against Rivera’s consistent numbers.*

His career’s only beauty mark  came November 4th, 2001.

On baseball’s biggest stage, in the world’s biggest city, facing the world’s worst terroist attack in recent memory, a country came together as the tattered American flag from the North Tower waved bravely above Yankee Stadium, where 13 miles away the fire still burned. Instead, a small market team from Arizona celebrated.

What sports tragedy compares? For argument’s sake, I don’t count stories like the Marshall University tragedy or similar others that transcend sports. If you can think of others, I want to hear. I don’t want my bias as a Yankees fan to influence my opinion. I simply couldn’t think of another sports tragedy equal.

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NBA, Change the Jump Ball Rule

I’m not talking about the opening tip – just in-game jumps.

A few months ago I argued shots beyond half court should not count as field goals attempted as a way to straighten curbed statistics. My only other qualm with NBA rules is the situation asked of players in mid-game jump ball situations.

As current rules dictate, if Player A gets tied up with Player B (both have “possession”), the whistle is blown and both players tip off at the circle nearest where the whistle blew. The ref throws the ball up and both try to tip it to their team.

But if I’m 5’10 and induce a jump ball with 7’1″ Dikembe Mutombo, I get to try and out jump this guy:

Might as well not have even played defense. Mutombo wouldn’t have to even jump against most players under ~6’3″~.

Us vertically challenged people want fair rights! This is an outrage!

If you’re not going to use college basketball’s possession arrow, let teams choose their tallest player on the court for mid-game jump balls. If I get tied up with Shaquille O’Neal, let my buddy Yao Ming try to win the tip – this way most accurately rewards a good defensive play.

One more issue: When a jump ball is called with less than five seconds on the shot clock, the clock resets to five seconds. If I’m playing great defense and induce a jump ball with one second on the shot clock – when if I didn’t play defense it would most likely result in a bad shot or shot clock violation – the offensive team has now a 50:50 chance (on the jump ball) to get off a clean shot, as I feel five seconds is enough time to do so.

This rare, but possible situation puts defenders in the awkward position of “Should I play my best defense right now,” a thought that, morally, should never to enter a player’s head in any sport.

Instead of resetting the shot clock to five seconds, add two seconds to whatever the shot clock read at the whistle. Give the ball those seconds to find its possesser and go from there.

In summary:
Let teams choose which player jumps for possession
Abandon the five-second rule and replace it with a +2 second rule

A month ago I voiced my displeasure on how many players refuse to throw up prayers in the final seconds of quarters as a way to strengthen statistics. Commissioner Stern, don’t be so stern. Adjust for changes that positively affect the game. Tweak the jump ball rule and don’t count shots beyond half court as field goals attempted.

If healthy, RGIII will be the best quarterback in the league by 2015

It started with Michael Vick. A revolutionary quarterback who forced defenses to sacrifice a defender for a spy. A quarterback who can turn a broken play into a 20 yard run.

Sounds enticing, but Vick never was a great quarterback, just one that makes magic with his feet. Vick didn’t throw to a 60% completion percentage until his eighth year in the league and probably won’t win a Super Bowl. And we all know about his turnover rate.

But imagine Peyton Manning with Vick’s legs. Picture Aaron Rodgers en route to a game-winning 78-yard touchdown run after his third and fourth options were covered.

In his rookie season, the Washington Redskins’ Robert Griffin III averaged fewer interceptions per pass than every other starting quarterback (five int. in 258 attempts; 1.3%) and threw to a 65.6% completion rate. For their careers, Manning sits at 65.2% and Rodgers at 65.7%.

Griffin’s numbers
Vick’s numbers
Peyton’s numbers
Rodgers’ numbers

In his seven full seasons as a starter, Vick eclipsed RGIII’s 2012 total of 3200 passing yards only once (2011) and only twice rushed for more yards than Griffin’s 2012 tally of 815.

But it was Griffin’s 4.41 dash in the ’12 combine that foreshadowed his dazzling ground work during the regular season. Like Vick, Griffin can break out for 13 fantasy points on one play (below). Unlike Vick, it seems Griffin can protect the football and throw accurately.

If Griffin can somehow extract enough passing potential to work up to Manning or Rodgers’ level, then his edge in the footrace department would put him at a separate level of any quarterback in NFL history.

Before we get gung-ho, we must acknowledge health when evaluating RGIII’s style of play. If he wants to remain in the league, he needs to become a pass-first quarterback who can dive into the arsenal if needed, not the other way around.

Picture this scenario – it happened week 13 against the New York Giants.

Redskins up a point with four minutes to go in the fourth quarter. The Redskins have the ball and the Giants have two timeouts.

In this situation most offenses run the ball to eat up clock. The defense knows, so late-game situations such as these usually result in a three-and-out and a punt with two minutes or so left.

But with RGIII you don’t hand the ball off, you run the option. The defense now has to worry about a separate threat with a proportion of attention on each. What is usually a gimme three-and-out is now a mind game between Griffin and the defense.

In that game, the Giants couldn’t stop the combination of Griffin and rookie running back Alfred Morris, the Redskins ran out the clock, and took a must-win away from the defending Super Bowl Champions.

Griffin’s unique late-game threat will lead to more wins such as these.

Take this likeable fella and evaluate his numbers. In four years compare his passing numbers the elite ones and his running numbers to Vick’s. If he keeps pace with those guys like he did this season, you could be watching the greatest quarterback of all time.

But let’s get that knee back in order first.

Sporcle of the Week: 2009 Yankees

My Giants got crushed today, so nostalgia pushed me toward the 2009 Yankees Sporcle: Name every player that played at least one game for the Yankees in 2009.

Two or three years ago I may have gotten 100%, but I’ll settle for 25 out of 45.

SPORCLE OF THE WEEK: 2009 YANKEES

To me, this World Series will forever be known as the one that saved me from a year of annoying Phillies fans. Rowan University was a good choice 🙂

Three Reasons the NFL Should Forego Ties

1) The NFL is missing out on an untapped level of excitement
2) With the new overtime rules, ties will start to occur at a higher rate
3) No longer could a team sit on the ball in overtime to back into the playoffs

Remember this game?

In probably my favorite basketball game of all time, the Connecticut Huskies and Syracuse Orange men’s basketball teams went to an unrealistic six overtimes in a 2009 thriller at Madison Square Garden. One of those games that, according to the laws of sports, is illegal to turn off.

Now obviously, football will never see a six overtime game. It would require a shutout by both teams for almost three halves. I like the rule changes (click here for all changes) the NFL has instilled, but I say take it a step further. If the score is tied at the end of overtime, play until the tie is broken.

1) The NFL is missing out on an untapped level of excitement

Overtime or extra innings are one of the few ways to scratch deep enough to see the true heart of every player and team. When you’ve played so long that the unanimous thought is, “Well, if I’m gonna play for this long, I’d better win.”

It’s the purest form of sports. When every player is focused solely on winning, not money, not girls, not any outside force.

At the human brink of exhaustion, “I’ll bet I can last longer and play harder than you,” is fun to watch from the outside. Regardless of the outcome, a double overtime football game would headline all sports talk the following day.

It’s why I hold true that sports are the ultimate reality television. The NBA didn’t give scripts to Reggie Miller and Spike Lee or Magic and Larry.

You want to see the human body in its truest and purest form of determination? Show me Ray Lewis and the Ravens against Roethlisberger and the Steelers to start the third overtime.

2) With the new overtime rules, ties occur at a higher rate

You may not like ties. I don’t, and neither did the NHL. Hockey cut ties with ties (intended) after the 2005 lockout to a world of success. The excitement was higher and the conclusions became more fun to watch.

Think of any book or TV show you ever enjoyed. Imagine the book ending before the climax.

Yes, hockey gets ties at higher rates, but I think it’s wrong to cut any sports game off before it has been decided.

The new NFL rules will generate more ties because the game no longer ends simply when one team has scored. How many ties will it take before the fans get mad?  The NHL fans hit their limit about eight years ago. I believe NFL fans will hit theirs once they realize there are now multiple ties a year, not one every four.

3) No longer can a team sit on the ball in overtime to back into the playoffs

Imagine this scenario:

The Giants and Eagles are both 9-6, playing for the final NFC playoff spot in the final game of the regular season. It’s Monday Night Football. The Giants beat the Eagles earlier in the year, but the Eagles would own the tiebreaker with a win.

Giants get to the playoffs with a win or tie.
Eagles get to the playoffs with a win only.

After a big interception at the two minute warning in overtime, the Giants find themselves backed up at their own five-yard line. The Eagles have no timeouts, and New York kneels the ball three times to secure their playoff spot.

I don’t think that’s the “right” way to settle a game so important. Herm Edwards is right: You play to win the game. I don’t think sports should ever put a team in a situation where that’s not necessarily the case.

Yes, injuries are the downside of multiple overtimes. And with the concussion mess the NFL finds themselves in, I don’t believe the timing is right to instill additional risk.

But in the worst case scenario where doctors discover a heavy link between almost all NFL players and concussions, the sport will not stop anywhere in the near future. You can’t tell a kid he can’t play football.

On the professional level, players will not take themselves out of a double overtime game because they risk a concussion. The players want to play. The fans want more football. Advertisers want more air time and the NFL wants more money.

All variables considered, the NFL should flirt with a rules change. Make regular season games like playoff ones. No winner has been decided after 75 minutes? Keep going. You play to win the game.