The holiday season is a time for giving. So, I’m giving you my hot takes as a belated Christmas gift.
In my last post of 2016, I decided against doing a recap of my takes. That’s the easy way out. I still have some bitching to do, especially with the NFL. Our fearless leader gave us off last week from blogging, but we’re back in the swing of things this week. Well, at least Matt and I are to this point. The grand poobah gets the extended break. Them’s the breaks. Catch up on what I wrote before the holiday before diving into this one.
1. A 15-yard penalty for tackling is coming closer to happening in the NFL then I ever would have thought
So this penalty in the Lions-Cowboys game really pissed me off. And it rightfully pissed off Jim Caldwell, A’Shawn Robinson and the rest of Detroit. This tackle was flagged for unnecessary roughness and 15 yards. Robinson, puzzled, didn’t know how to respond. Neither did Sean McDonough and Jon Gruden on the ESPN broadcast. The word embarrassing was thrown out there, and rightfully so.
There are plenty of hits that make me cringe watching any NFL game. The head contact and clothesline hits are far worse than what Robinson was flagged for last night. There have been plenty of bodyslam type hits that were terrible, but this sure as shit wasn’t one of them. Elliot was already airborn when he met Robinson at the line of scrimmage. The whistle hadn’t blown, and Elliot was still fighting for yards.
A common sense approach to this situation brings up this question: what could Robinson have done differently in this situation? Was he supposed to stop the process of his tackle with Elliot off his feet and gently place him to the ground? Would the officials have blown their whistle to halt the forward progress of the play? I honestly believe the refs would have continued the play because Elliot is a running back and not a quarterback.
And if Robinson stopped the tackle, I believe that Elliot would have kept on going for the run and gained positive yards.
This play was a disgrace, and turned the tables on the Lions for that game. It was bullshit, and this penalty was a slap in the face to hard-hitting, clean action in the NFL.
2. Streaking NHL teams are for real
Matt talked about this from a mathematical standpoint in his blog from the other day and I wanted to touch on it too. The Minnesota Wild and Columbus Blue Jackets are riding major streaks out of the Christmas holiday. Columbus has won 12 in a row, and Minnesota has won 10 on the day after Christmas.
Neither of these teams were exactly the sexy pick to be serious contenders, and yet as we make the turn into the new year, the Wild and Blue Jackets are two of the best teams in the NHL. These aren’t teams filled with star power or fantastic coaches. Instead, we have balanced scoring and outstanding goaltending leading the way for both. What’s possibly holding these teams back is only their divisions. Columbus in the Metropolitan will have to battle with the Rangers, Capitals, Penguins and Flyers just to get into the division. Minnesota has Chicago and St. Louis to battle with over the course of the year too.
They’re both playing some of their best hockey of the year, and it appears as though Columbus and Minnesota are on pace to make some playoff appearances this spring.
3. The NBA needs to stop playing so many games on Christmas
Call me the Grinch, or call me something worse. But the fact that the NBA scheduled five games on Christmas Day is appalling. I’m not even talking about the players. They get paid millions of dollars to play a game. They can play on a different continent any day of the year and I wouldn’t feel bad about it.
But how about the concessions workers making just over minimum wage having to travel to the arena to work a noon tipoff. Or the usher making the trek for a middle of the day game for the same paycheck. And how about the journalists traveling around the country to cover the team not in their hometown.
I view each of those as viable reasons to not schedule games on Christmas Day. Sure, not everyone celebrates the holiday, that’s perfectly fine. But when the majority of the country does and thousands of employees give up their day for a middle of the season game, then I have a problem with it. Do any of the people that I listed get a boost from working on Christmas Day? Nope. Only the teams and broadcasters reap the benefits of being the only sports event on TV that day. One or two games a year, sure. It’s a tradition and if you want to keep two showcase games on Christmas I’m ok with that. But Minnesota-Oklahoma City and Chicago-San Antonio contests don’t really move the needle. So take the hit and call it a day.
4. One more time – all these bowl games are dumb! And the attendance proves that
A lot of people are off or working from home this week. You throw on the TV and there’s the “Who Gives a Shit Bowl” on in the background. I was doing that at the end of last week and the past couple days and while I haven’t really been paying all that much attention, I have noticed one thing.
There are EMPTY stadiums housing these bowl games. The picture above was taken from Marlins Park where the Miami Beach Bowl between Tulsa and Central Michigan attracted 15,000 people. BC and Maryland fought in the Quick Lane Bowl at Detroit’s Ford Field in front of less than 20,000 people.
Bowl game after bowl game attracts less than 70% of the stadium. Empty stands, quiet crowds and awkward layouts don’t generate an environment that’s exciting for football. But, media profits offset those costs, meaning we won’t see a change any time soon.
But do we really need all these? Teams that regularly attract 30,000-plus to their home games travel around the country and play in front of nobody. Yawn. No thanks for me.
5. QB injuries derail Week 16 of the NFL season
I want the best players on the field at all times. And I never wish an injury on anyone. I’m also mostly in favor of teams playing their starters in 99% of scenarios. But seeing Derek Carr and Marcus Mariota go down for Oakland and Tennessee, put a real damper on an otherwise good week of football.
Two legs injuries to two players having career years stalled the excitement headed into the last week of the regular season in the AFC. The Raiders will rely on Matt McGloin in the postseason – yuck. Matt Cassel will handle things for the Titans in their final game of the year. And the Dolphins have continued to win, even with Matt Moore under center.
I guess my main point with this final take is that even with these injuries, I still want my team playing their starters. But put your best players in a situation where they shouldn’t get killed by a missed block. Add extra guys on the line to increase blocking. Throw the ball away if any danger comes. Don’t put yourself in a situation where this can happen.
That’ll do it for me. I’ll be back next week with some more hot takes for your Wednesday reading enjoyment. Follow Tim on Twitter@culvey13 for more, or to tell me I’m a moron.