There’s a hot take storm coming. Get your popcorn ready.
Ah yes, my midweek rant has arrived once again. After the Red Sox were unceremoniously eliminated from the postseason, I’ve expanded my views to much bigger than the New England area. Luckily for you, our dear reader, that means I can bitch about things on a national scale. Should be fun. Give last week’s edition a read, and then dive right into this one.
1. Penalties, replays and idiot coaching decisions are making the NFL almost unwatchable
So here’s the caveat. I’m hooked. I’ve always been hooked, and I’ll probably always be hooked. As a sports fan who really doesn’t watch anything else on TV besides sporting events, the NFL has me by the balls. They know that too. There’s a major sect of the population that will always be around when it comes to the NFL. People can start dying because of the NFL and that group will still watch. (Oh wait, that’s already happening.)
But in 2016, I’ve finally reached a crossroads. I watch the Patriots every weekend. It’s a rite of passage in my eyes. Gather around the television and watch New England for three hours once a week. Up until this year, that was usually followed up with another couple hours of flipping between games to keep tabs on my fantasy teams. and to just waste the entire day.
Now, I don’t find myself doing that anymore. And I’m not alone.
I find myself not watching games for a variety of reasons, but I came up with these three big ones.
First, penalties just KILL the momentum of a game. Somehow, it seems like the NFL is right on pace with last year in the number of called and accepted penalties. I find that unbelievable. It seems like you can’t go more than two plays until a flag is thrown. Whether it’s an unnecessary flag for a hold that had no bearing on the play, a ticky-tack pass interference or a just plain dumb taunting penalty for an endzone celebration, there’s more yellow laundry on the field every week.
And yet, the NFL continues to promote player safety. More and more rules on celebrations and defensive pass interference, but less hits to the head called than ever before. The NFL has its priorities backwards, and the number of flags every game slows down the flow of it.
Speaking of slowing down a game, let’s get into instant replay. Let’s chat for just a minute or two about replay.
Can we knock this shit off with replaying every catch and scoring play? Too many times we see a game moving right along only to get brought to a grinding halt so we can look if the receiver who made an acrobatic play to even come up with the ball kept his right ring finger under the ball and off the turf. And don’t even get me started on the position of a ball in a pile/determining possession on a fumble.
That’s completely outrageous. Human error is a part of the game. If referees can get the call right in real time then let’s do it. But taking multiple minutes to determine every single instance is driving me insane. And no, Peter King, every play should not be available to challenge and replay. No fucking way. Stop it right there. You have 90 seconds, or about as long as it should take you to read my thoughts on the matter, to figure it out. Any more, play on.
Lastly, the amount of commercials is getting out of hand. I’ve only been able to attend a handful of football games in person in my life. The tailgating and camaraderie inside and outside the stadium is awesome. Waiting for multiple minutes between plays for 9,000 commercials is mind-numbing.
In total, the average NFL game lasts just over three hours. Of that time, 11 minutes, 11 fucking minutes, are dedicated to play in-between the white lines. The rest is calling in a play, changes in possessions, replays, commercials and other nonsense.
You know how baseball has a pace of play problem? The NFL isn’t too far behind. Ratings continue to nosedive, and I don’t see a stop to that any time soon. I’m in the bread and butter market for the league, and if I’m getting sick and tired of this bullshit, then the casual fan is making his/her way to the exit already.
2. I love that Toronto Blue Jays fans jeered Trevor Bauer as he exited ALCS Game 3
Social media warriors, media personalities and plenty of other folks got in an uproar on Monday night, as Cleveland Indians starter Trevor Bauer exited ALCS Game 3 because of a bloody hand. No, it wasn’t TBS zooming right in on Terry Francona and the Cleveland manager flipping off the camera. (I thought that was hilarious) And nope, it wasn’t fans upset that TBS showed Bauer’s finger gushing blood on the mound. (I thought it was gross, but it’s less than what you see in most TV shows or movies nowadays)
Instead, what got people all up in arms was how the Toronto fans raucously cheered Bauer departing the game because of his injury. Guess what?
Good. For. Them.
I can’t tell you how happy it made me to see 50,000 people applauding this moron for costing his team the entire bullpen. Sure, Cleveland went on to win, but Bauer really could have screwed his team’s pooch with his shenanigans. Toronto fans have every right to make fun of this moron, and I’m glad that they did.
Remember, Bauer didn’t get hurt playing baseball. He got hurt flying his drone on an off day. He got hurt because he’s an idiot, a moron and a clumsy amateur pilot. I commend him for trying to pitch, but when his finger started dripping blood like a faucet, it was his time to face the music.
Toronto fans get a bad rap for throwing stuff on the field. Rightfully so. There’s no room in sports for that. But cheering when a player – who was injured NOT in the game and by something that was 200% preventable and downright dumb – leaves the game was perfect.
Want to avoid getting cheered as you go off the mound? How about not flying the fucking drone in the first place. Let’s stop making Bauer the martyr for how he handled the situation. Let’s call him out for being a moron and applaud Toronto applauding his departure.
3. It’s never too early for outdoor hockey games
I’m sure there’s a huge portion of this readership that has no clue what I’m talking about. As the resident hockey-head and beater of the NHL drum around here I get that. So let me inform you of what I mean.
This weekend, the NHL will be hosting an outdoor game. Yup, in October, the NHL is taking it outside.
The Winnipeg Jets will host the Edmonton Oilers in the 2016 Heritage Classic. For our friends up North, this is a chance to showcase two young teams with bonafide superstars in a marquee event. It’s the first of four outdoor games this season, with the Winter Classic, Centennial Classic and Stadium Series coming in January and February.
The NHL can certainly overdo outdoor games in one season, but holding one this early is a brilliant move.
Ever been to Winnipeg? Me either. Looks like a lovely city and I would check it out for a Jets game in a heartbeat. Throw in an outdoor hockey game against Connor McDavid and the Oilers and I’d definitely make the trip up there. In October? Hell yeah.
In February? You’re batshit crazy.
This weekend it’ll be around 50 degrees in Winnipeg. Subtract 70 from that number, and you have the possible weather for an outdoor game in Winnipeg in December, January or February. Not only is that insane, it’s also not really safe. So holding this game at this time makes a bunch of sense from a weather standpoint.
Add in the fact that the NHL is competing against the MLB postseason and NFL regular season, and doing any marquee event at this time is a good move. It might not move the needle bigly, but it’ll at least give the NHL a reason to be talked about on US television. Cap the outdoor games a year to 2-3, and spread them out over a couple months, and you’re in great shape. I think the league is starting to make that trend in the right direction headed into its 100-year celebration.
4. The Cleveland Cavaliers ring ceremony and banner raising is going to be must-watch TV (and make me puke inside)
The other day, the NBA-champion Cleveland Cavaliers (that feels just so weird to write) unveiled their championship banner to season-ticket holders. It’ll hang from the rafters at the Quicken Loans Arena forever, as a testament to how Cleveland actually won something for one, and to remind fans forever that the Golden State Warriors coughed up a 3-1 series lead.
As the basketball hater here, it’s still a neat story. A city’s collective loser mentality evaporated in the span of one win. The Boston fan in my sympathizes with that completely. Seeing a team win a title after years of suffering is one of the craziest experiences ever. Good for Cleveland.
And yet, I can’t bring myself to get all that excited about it. It has a lot to do with LeBron James and how much he annoys me. His constant flopping, bitching, etc. makes him almost impossible to root for. Cleveland’s acceptance of his return has a lot to do with it too.
They’re taking down his huge “Witness” poster in the city (apparently it’s a fucking tourist attraction and a sense of pride for the city? Yikes) to put up a new one with the jersey changed to reflect the title. That in itself is kinda lame, but it’s not the worst thing in the world. Couple that with the fact that the Cavs have just as good of a shot of winning the title again this year (and they did two years ago too), and this hullabaloo for one banner is kinda overblown.
But the biggest reason why this ceremony will have me gagging involves the city of Cleveland. Just years before, the entire city, including the franchise owner, disowned the guy. He was public enemy number one. Jerseys were burned, that huge poster – yup, the same tourist attraction one – was ripped down to eliminate any memory of LeBron James. And now, he’s at the center of this. Cleveland sold it’s soul to the devil, and won. Good luck dealing with that.
5. Las Vegas can have an expansion hockey team, but let’s cool the jets on the Raiders
I don’t hate the fact that the NHL will expand into Las Vegas next year. It took me awhile to come around to it, but it’s growing on me. Another market, another brand new arena, more professional hockey jobs and a better chance at evening out the conferences have me on board. Also, ever since I was a young kid, I’ve always loved expansion teams. I have hats, T-shirts and jerseys from a lot of them across all sports. I can’t really explain it, but new teams and I have a strange relationship.
Whatever the team name is, I’ll probably get something related to it.
And now the Oakland Raiders are moving closer to taking their talents to the Strip. Let’s calm the fuck down.
Mark Davis, a certified nutball, and billionaire owner of the Raiders, is most likely going to propose a relocation to Sin City next January. The Oakland Coliseum blows, but the Raiders are probably going to play there for another couple years while the new stadium in Vegas gets built. What a slap in the face to the people of Oakland.
Las Vegas is enticing the Raiders to make the move with a huge new law that funnels over $750 million in public dollars to the new stadium. The city of Oakland wants little to do with a project that big, considering, you know, that Davis is a fucking BILLIONAIRE. If Nevada wants to make a game that’s just plain dumb. Are the Raiders, a team that will play less than 10 times a year in the stadium, worth almost a billion dollars in public funds? Absolutely not.
And Davis saying that he wants to keep the team in Oakland for that time is bullshit. If you’re from Oakland, I think you would want that pain to be ripped off quickly like a bandaid. Instead of having a two-year period of sadness building up to a final game, take it at the end of the season and move on. It’ll suck, but watching for two years while your team packs up and moves at a certain date has to be excruciating for that fanbase.
Let’s cut out this nonsense of public dollars for billionaire owners and NFL franchises. Pay for their own stadiums.
That’ll do it for us. We’ll be back next week with some more hot takes for your Wednesday reading enjoyment. Follow Tim on Twitter@culvey13 and Brendan at @MurraySportTalk for more, or to tell me us we’re morons. Either way, have at it.