It’s a very, very early fall Sunday morning here in Long Beach, Calif. Specifically, it’s about 12:45 a.m., and I really should go to bed so that I can get up at a still very, very early time to get in my usual four hours of fantasy football preparation. Because anything less would be just plain lazy.
But something happened Saturday night that made me lament all of the baseball I’ve missed over the past three weeks.
Keeping it short, the Nationals’ Michael Morse hit a line drive out to deep right field with the bases loaded. The hit was initially ruled a simple RBI single, and Morse was tagged out after getting caught in a rundown.
By the umpires reviewed the play and correctly ruled that Morse had indeed homered. But first, he needed to follow MLB protocol. He couldn’t just finish rounding the bases. He … well just click on the screen shot below. And please fast-forward to about the 2:35 mark since I already gave you the background.
You can have your seven no-hitters, possible Triple Crown and one of the greatest rookie seasons ever. That is the highlight from the 2012 baseball regular season.
I had a little Facebook conversation with a couple of friends a few days ago about who we think are the “ace” pitchers in baseball. My list includes a bunch of obvious choices — Kershaw, Verlander, Weaver, Felix, Lee and others. They are pitchers who have been consistently dominant for a series of years.
Where does Zack Greinke fit in? There’s no doubt that Greinke was flat-out transcendent in 2009. Since then, it just feels like he’s been good and not much more. Sometimes special, sometimes rocky. He has just been uneven since winning the Cy Young. His home/road splits have been fairly drastic for the past couple of years. So no, while it’s difficult for me to say it, I don’t think Greinke is a true ace.
Yeeeeaaaaaaah, about that ….
The Packers, The Seahawks, The Refs, And The Most Zany, Unbelievable, Absolutely Impossible Dream Of A Play
I kind of see it as the “Holy Roller” of our generation. It’s also Roger Goodell’s newest worst nightmare.
What’s the one thing we worried about the most with replacement referees?
Well, yeah, and that hasn’t gone so well at times. That linked play wasn’t even flagged.
But other than that, what was the biggest worry? That the referees would make a controversial (read: wrong) call to directly decide the result of a game.
No Ahmad Bradshaw. No Hakeem Nicks. No problem for the New York Giants.
Considering those critical injuries, the short prep week and a road trip after a final-minute win just four days prior, I fully expected the Giants to lose this game.
But I forgot to factor in one thing: The Panthers apparently thought that this game was going to be played on Sunday. They did not show up on offense (Cam Newton), defense (pretty much everyone) and special teams (Joe Adams).
The defense was hardest to watch. If you can’t get any pressure on the quarterback, you should be able to put solid coverage on the receivers, right? It’s 11-on-11, so those guys on one side gotta be doing something with their time. Instead, Carolina constantly avoided Giants receivers as if the Victor Cruz, Ramses Barden and Martellus Bennett were handing out subpoenas.
It was brutal, and I’m a Giants fan. Yeah, I’m pleased with an authoritative road win. But I would like to feel that the Giants earned it through some measure of adversity. The only thing the Panthers didn’t give them Thursday was the gift wrap and bow. I don’t even know if it’s good game with which to analyze the Giants, because Carolina wasn’t an opponent; it was scenery.
Anyway, here are my fantasy takeaways from this game ….
— But let’s start with some Week 3 stuff.
Big news out of New York today: Hakeem Nicks will NOT play tomorrow versus the Carolina Panthers (self-promotion). It’s totally unexpected after Nicks and Tom Coughlin said Tuesday that he would play in this game. Nicks had his surgically repaired foot stepped on during this victory and came up limping after a couple of plays. Ramses Barden will probably start in his place. He’s a huge target and someone to look at if you’re really desperate. Victor Cruz might see about 40 targets in the game, for serious. Tight end Martellus Bennett is a solid play as well.
— My preseason crush, David Wilson, just keeps getting pushed to the back of the line. You’d think he would get some work with Ahmad Bradshaw sidelined, but instead, Andre Brown, who spent time with four teams in 2010 alone, gets 13 carries for 71 yards and scores a touchdown. How many carries did Wilson get after Bradshaw left early in the second quarter?
One. One freakin’ carry.
Maybe that changes tomorrow, but I have to believe that Brown, even though he’s not a long-term option, is at least a flex play against a defense that has allowed the fourth-most points to running backs through two weeks.
— Also, this whole Schiano-Coughlin disagreement about how to approach a kneel-down situation shouldn’t really be a big story, but since it is, let me say that I totally agree with Schiano. And I’m a Giants fan.
It’s a one-possession game, time is running out, so you should do anything within the rules to try to get the ball back. If that means bull-rushing the offensive line, so be it. You play until the game is over. Since the game isn’t over at that point, the Giants’ front and Eli Manning should be expecting the Buccaneers to do something to force a turnover.
A bunch of people are shouting about how you can get someone hurt, and that’s not how it’s done in the pros. Well, why not? Why concede with time on the clock when all you need is one touchdown? Yes, Schiano’s defense was dreadful in that fourth quarter. But that doesn’t mean it should just pack up and head home with five seconds on the clock.
I don’t want to bring up Joe Pisarcik here because that was almost 35 years ago, but you can’t tell me there is absolutely, positively, no chance whatsoever that Manning fumbles that final snap. It’s heavily unlikely, but I am totally cool with the Buccaneers going after him in that situation. If the rest of the league doesn’t like it, return the favor, and then be ready to guard yourself on that last snap as if it was the first from now on.
After Week 1, we kind of gave the replacement referees a pass. Sure, they gave a team four timeouts, but they didn’t seem to be too bad for their first time out. Anarchy was not reached, so that’s a plus. And much like Trent Richardson’s knee, I assumed the officials would only get better in Week 2.
Well, we didn’t have anarchy this past weekend, but it was close. Fights broke out all over the league, and the scabs showed that they were completely incapable of maintaining order. Players and coaches outwardly disrespected the refs on the field. They were indecisive. They didn’t explain their calls. That Monday Night Football game alone had enough errors to fill the pages of an Ayn Rand novel, and you could have read “Atlas Shrugged” from cover to cover in the time it took to finish the first half. It was a collective effort that topped Sunday’s most cringe-worthy event regarding the refs.
The biggest sore spot for me was that while there were number of really, really cheap holding and pass interference calls made, the refs decided to repeatedly ignore the league’s most stressed point of importance when it comes to officiating in these past couple of years: Illegal hits to the head or leading with the helmet.
Armon Binns, crushed.
Sidney Rice, crushed.
Fred Davis, concussed.
Sean Lee, blown up.
Those are just the ones I recall off the top of my head. What do they all have in common? Not one of those hits was flagged as illegal.
The legality of those hits can be debated, but there’s no doubt that at least the last two deserved penalties. One of the major worries heading into the season was how the referees might compromise player safety. It was certainly true on Sunday.
And if that’s not bad enough, here’s this from Eagles running back LeSean McCoy:
“One of the refs was talking about his fantasy team, like ‘McCoy, come on, I need you for my fantasy,’ ahhh, what?!”
Now, McCoy didn’t say fantasy team, just fantasy. So maybe this is just a personal matter about someone’s preference. I know I’d fantasize about McCoy often if I was an Eagles fan. Oh, yeah.
But assuming McCoy isn’t joking, I guess I get this a little bit. I mean, these refs know they won’t have this gig and this stage much longer. They’ve never had a stage so grand on which to work in their lives, and it’s understandable that they might be a little starstruck.
But c’mon, man. Like they say when you score a touchdown, act like you’ve been there before. According to NFL spokesman Greg Aiello, officials aren’t allowed to play fantasy football. So, maybe that means this replacement ref loses his job soon.
Well, that’s one.
I can only echo what has been said about Steve Sabol today.
Artist. Genius. Innovator. Game-changer in more ways than one.
I talk a lot about fantasy football on this blog, but much like everything else we take for granted in football viewing these days, that wouldn’t be possible without the contributions of Steve Sabol. OK, it could still be carried out by keeping track of box-score totals for every player, but where’s the fun in that?
Sabol was involved in bringing football to the masses in such a vivid manner for 50 years. We wouldn’t be able to see the game how we see it now without him and his father, Ed. But it was Steve who was the visionary.
We wouldn’t have those dramatic, iconic video clips, the blooper reels, the numerous camera angles and slow-motion replays without NFL Films. We wouldn’t have the on-field sound from coaches and players that really brings you into the game. We wouldn’t have that tremendous musical soundtrack (My personal favorite. That gets me so pumped up on Sunday mornings). We wouldn’t have the NFL Network. The list goes on and on.
Simply, Steve Sabol revolutionized how football is seen, heard and emotionally felt. Most everything associated with a football broadcast has Sabol’s fingerprints. He turned a game into a cinematic experience. A loss too big to put into words, that’s how much Sabol did for not just football but for televised sports in general.
Other than being a huge fan of his work, I am drawn to write about Sabol’s passing because I recently lost someone I love to brain cancer. It’s a vicious, cruel disease. But I know that when the time came in both cases, both people could rest assured knowing they accomplished as much as they could with the time given to them.
May Sabol rest in peace. He’s got a pretty nice view of the game from up above.