Play At The Plate…Heeeeee’s…Under Further Review

I like seeking out opinions and viewpoints radically different from mine.  Consider it personal growth.  Reading and hearing them in some cases makes me feel my stance has been strengthened.  In some cases, I consider altering…or even changing my stance.

Which brings us to the catcher’s stance at home plate as a runner is bearing down upon him.  And why Major League Baseball’s stance on the play at the plate is bad posture indeed.

I already had formed a completely negative opinion on trying to regulate one of the most exciting plays in the sport with possible ejections, fines, suspensions…and God help us all,…replays.  And then I read one counter to my position.

Which started off with…“I can hear the old-timers grumbling from their graves.”

Cue this old-timer.

I don’t want to see athletes get unnecessarily hurt.  Consider my take on Josh Hamilton’s head-first dash to the DL in 2011.

But I don’t want to see the game fundamentally change because someone might.  Quite frankly…if I hear one more report about concussions we should take everyone off every field in every endeavor and call it a day.  Sports of any kind carries risk.  So does getting up in the morning.

This old-timer was on both sides of collisions when I played baseball.  I once was catching a pop-up straddling the first-base line when a runner blew me up.  I retained the ball, got the out…and a few smelling salts later retained my senses…albeit feeling stupid for not making the play easier on myself.  I also slid into a third-baseman once with the expressed intent of separating him from the baseball, which he already had.  I did.  He got hurt.  He made a decision to take a stance.  I – successfully – took issue with his.

Major League Baseball features the best-of-the-best, the cream-of-the-crop.  Should we not allow them the courtesy to formulate their own stances on how to address these bang-bang plays on the base paths, especially when on the verge of scoring a run?

“Old-time” Catcher A.J. Pierzynski courtesy of USA Today…”I disagree with it.  I understand why they’re doing it but next they’re going to tell us that you can’t slide into the guy at second base.  There are going to be plays at the plate, late in games, where you need to block the plate, saving a run that ultimately gets your team into the playoffs.  And not given that opportunity is unfair.  I understand why the rule is made but I wish there was a better way to go about it.”

As if umpires also don’t have enough to concern themselves with.  Replay?  Yeah, that always sets things right…do not get me running towards that target right now.

The dumbest thing about all this over-regulation is if you slide you apparently still pretty much get a free pass to make contact at the plate the way baseball should be played…with the two combatants deciding the outcome.  But what if the slide is aggressive?  Or late?  Bottom line on this is we should get to see the pros play it out…not watch it play out afterwards on a monitor somewhere before a final, flawed verdict is rendered.

Home (plate) is where the heart is.  The heart of baseball.

Oh, the last word on that 180 degree-from-me opinion I read…“If you want brute collisions go watch the NFL.”

I would…but they’re in the process of making that sport unrecognizable also.

Posted in Baseball, MLB, Sports | Tagged , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Fox To Opt Out Of Super Bowl Rotation, Sticking With Cartoons On Sunday Nights

2:00 PM – Fox Pre-Game show begins with performers from various hit Broadway shows singing musical tribute to Super Bowl.  A question…if New York City is indeed “the greatest city in the world” why can’t someone figure out how to operate a football stadium there?  Fifty years from now, will the NFL finally be able to fool everyone into thinking this game was played in New York City?

2:15 PM – Fox’s Pam Oliver makes her first appearance.  Her hair will not blow up Twitter as it did two weeks ago.  Then again, her hair probably has its own Twitter account by now.

2:25 PM – NFL rolls out its first “Play 60” commercial as it continues its not-so-subtle PR campaign to keep their feeder program rolling…that is to say, so mothers don’t shut down football.   Some time ago Bennet Omalu, the first doctor to find CTE in a football player’s brain. was advised by an NFL doctor, “If 10 percent of mothers in this country would begin to perceive football as a dangerous sport that is the end of football.”

2:27 PM – Met Life commercial airs with Peanuts gang playing National Anthem.  Mothers will likely never perceive Charles Schultz’s characters as dangerous…except for Lucy of course…who keeps moving the damn ball when Charlie Brown always runs up to kick it.

2:39 PM – Geico’s “Caleb The Camel” of “HUMP DAY” fame announces it is “GAME DAY.”  Terry Bradshaw is in the spot also – apparently he and Caleb are both supposed to be reporters in these spots.  This is an epic fail because it was announced earlier due to his father’s death Bradshaw is not at the Super Bowl.  Clearly this is an all-afternoon ad campaign they decided to run regardless.  Clearly the wrong move.

2:42 PM – Someone named Katie Nolan announces she will represent Fox in keeping all of us up to date on what is happening in social media.  If I wanted to know I would BE on social media.

2:52 PM – The Band Perry performs, clearly auditioning for next year’s halftime spot.  Rocked out pretty good for what I thought was a country band.

2:56 PM – A third Geico “Camel” spot appears with Bradshaw, as well as a promo for an upcoming interview with Bradshaw and Joe Namath.  As much as I don’t care for Terry it is becoming increasingly weird he’s intertwined through Fox’s Pre-Game coverage as well as a recurring ad campaign with a major sponsor…and he’s not around.

3:14 PM – Bradshaw’s interview with Joe Namath airs.  The Jets’ win in SB III really did lift the game to another level.  The first two Super Bowls were almost looked at as exhibitions with the AFL being such an unknown commodity.  Once New York (and they played in New York back then!) defeated Baltimore, things were never quite the same.  Unfortunately, the interview ended with Terry asking Joe if he really wouldn’t have rather had Fox’s Erin Andrews speak with him…an awkward and unnecessary reference to a drunken Namath trying to kiss ESPN’s Suzy Kolber during a live interview years ago.  Somewhere Suzy Kolber was cringing…as were many others.

3:22 PM – Charissa Thompson and Chris Myers continue to interview people (including a large number of Fox Network performers) on their recurring gimmick known as the “Fox Red Carpet.”  Wishing they would roll the damn Fox Red Carpet up with Thompson and Myers in it.

3:27 PM – Curt Menefee and friends on the Pre-Game crew announce they now have to relocate from Times Square to the Meadowlands.  I wonder if there is a prop bet in Vegas as to how long it will be before they return to the air.  The NFL cannot be pleased at this blatant announcement the game is not actually being played in New York City.

3:28 PM – Thompson calls play-by-play announcer Joe Buck…Joe Bluck.

3:31 PM – Joe Bluck…um, Buck…appears with game analyst Troy Aikman from Met Life (AKA Snoopy) Stadium.  Things are starting to normalize now.  It appears at some point a football game may actually break out.

3:57 PM – Another recurring ad campaign reappears…brief spots of Cleatus, Fox’s animated Robot, wearing Dr. Dre’s Beats noise-cancelling headphones while Aloe Blacc’s “The Man” plays in the background, just like their regular ad spots.  Clever.

4:00 PM – Menefee and friends have now transferred from their original location in Times Square to Snoopy Stadium.  They made good time.  Sure they had help.

4:12 PM – A fairly long, artsy segment showing Pre-Game analysts speaking towards how great a sport football is and pointing out how awesome it is to also start at a young age because of the life lessons learned.  I wonder if anyone caught the less flashy, life lessons dished out before the segment when it was discussed how a recent survey said most players would play in a Super Bowl even while being concussed…but gosh, the NFL reported concussions are down this year.  Yes, there are life lessons to be learned…all the way around.

4:27 PM – Charissa Thompson returns with another Red Carpet interview.  I quietly vow to make sure I have noise-cancelling headphones for future Thompson appearances.

4:34 PM – Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly starts a war – disguised as an interview – with President Obama.  As aggressive as any game I’ve seen all year.  Maybe this will convince future Presidents to just say no.  No-win situations are usually not things you want played out in front of millions of people.  Obama tells O’Reilly he enjoyed it.  For those of you who think our Prez lies…well now there’s indisputable evidence.

4:46 PM – Commercial for “Hunger Games – Catching Fire” airs.  Philip Seymour Hoffman in it.  He died earlier in the day, apparently of a hunger for heroin.  Sad.

5:18 PM – Feature on Seahawks’ defensive backs.  Everyone focuses on Richard Sherman but he may not even be best of their bunch.  Every time Earl Thomas appears Philadelphia Eagles fans sigh.  Our Birds passed over Thomas on Draft Day.  A big, big mistake.  Thomas is a tremendous player in his own right and he’d look much better to me in an Eagles uni.

5:23 PM – Airing of Peyton Manning interview with Terry Bradshaw.  I wrote at length a couple of years ago about how Manning would never be able to reclaim his talent and would be silly putting himself in danger playing the game after his numerous neck surgeries.  His comeback and performance since that time has been one of the more amazing, courageous things I’ve seen in my lifetime.

5:52 PM – Martin Sheen introduces the reading of the Declaration of Independence, a Fox Network tradition when they do the Super Bowl.  Fox simply can’t put on a sporting event without infusing it with military overtones.  These are the same people who normally show America a full slate of animated cartoons on Sunday nights.

6:10 PM – Queen Latifah sings “America The Beautiful.”  I decide to take a gander at the national weather radar.  If this game was played about eighteen hours from now…

6:20 PM – Joe Buck in the booth with…wait, that’s not Troy Aikman. That’s Mike Pereira, former NFL VP of Officiating.  Odd.  They discuss how the game might be called and specifically call out the tendencies of a couple of refs in general.  Almost as if they expect it to be an issue.  I bet it is now.

6:28 PM – Joe Namath makes the coin toss…unfortunately the selection of “heads” or “tails” wasn’t made yet.  Bad day for Joe.

6:32 PM – Kickoff.

6:33 PM – Safety.  Seahawks, 2-0.  If you wagered on that you just quit your job.  Crowd seems awfully pro-Seattle.

6:47 PM – Field goal.  Seahawks, 5-0.  Fox keeps showing the New York skyline.  Crowd keeps cheering for Seattle.

7:07 PM – Field goal.  Seahawks, 8-0.  Commercials playing about as well as Broncos.

7:12 PM – Manning throws bad pick.  However, not unusual event in Snoopy Stadium.  Remember… Giants play here.

7:13 PM- Radio Shack’s commercial about needing to upgrade their stores featuring 80’s icons caught my fancy.  Showing my age.

7:24 PM – Touchdown, Marshawn Lynch.  Seahawks, 15-0.  Tim Tebow, T-Mobile commercial that followed was excellent.  Jacksonville, shame on you for not signing TT.  You had if nothing else a built-in can’t-miss-with-the-fans ambassador that could have aided your fractured franchise.

7:39 PM – Another Manning pick.  Seattle returns this one for touchdown.  Seahawks, 22-0.  Fox must now be considering pulling out of game early and running those Sunday night cartoons.  Animation Domination > Seattle Domination.

7:55 PM – Toyota commercial featuring the Muppets – “Let’s Go Places.”  Right now, I can think of many places I’d rather be.  So can the Denver Broncos.

7:58 PM – Mercifully, halftime comes.

8:11 PM – I am actually enjoying Bruno Mars.  Special effects are pretty cool and the guy is owning the grand stage.  Great old-school R & B vibe and his band is working it as hard as he is.  More fireworks than the first half.

8:17 PM – The Red Hot Chili Peppers appear.  These two acts look as mismatched as two teams in first half.  Mercifully, Peppers disappear quickly and Mars cleans up after them fairly well.

8:31 PM – Second half kickoff.  Broncos kick it short to avoid a big play by Percy Harvin.  Harvin doesn’t get the memo.  Touchdown.  Seahawks, 29-0.

8:44 PM – Now obvious Denver had no plan to throw North-South in this game.  They thought they could proceed with the same East-West, side-to-side passing game and do well against Seattle.  They were wrong.

8:56 PM – Denver throws North-South.  Demaryius Thomas fumbles away a long completion. Maybe on this day it doesn’t matter what the Broncos do.

9:03 PM – Jermaine Kearse catches TD pass.  Seahawks, 36-0.  Joe Buck and Troy Aikman now have admitted defeat, commenting on the Broncos’ indifference towards tackling Kearse.  They appear clearly frustrated Fox has not switched over to “The Simpsons” and spared them covering the rest of this game.  America is now covering its eyes.

9:24 PM – Doug Baldwin catches TD pass.  Seahawks, 43-8.  Wait…Denver must have scored.  When did that happen?

9:46 PM – Manning fumbles the ball away.  Seattle doesn’t show interest in putting up fifty.

9:55 PM – Seahawks, 43-8.  The confetti flies…which always makes for great high def television once it sticks to everyone’s head and face.  I have been fighting a losing battle with the confetti issue for years now.

10:07 PM – The Vince Lombardi Trophy is presented.  More confetti on everyone.  It’s a mess…which sums up this Super Bowl perfectly.

A mess.

Posted in Football, NFL, Sports, Television | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

12 Things Sportsattitudes Knows You’ll See At Super Bowl XLVIII

Russell Wilson will at some point run backward.

Peyton Manning will at some point throw forward.

Knowshon Moreno will rip off a run just as beastly as Marshawn Lynch…but only Lynch will be called a beast.

Marshawn Lynch will be discussed as someone who doesn’t like to talk.

Marshawn Lynch and Skittles will be discussed…together.

Fox’s Erin Andrews will interview Richard Sherman.  Fox’s Pam Oliver will interview her own hair.

Eric Decker and Julius Thomas will each drop one pass each should have caught.

You will see the Manning family while Fox’s Joe Buck and Troy Aikman openly ponder Peyton’s retirement plan.

You will see Commissioner Roger Goodell while you openly pray for his retirement. He will be sitting outside bravely facing the elements.

Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers will look out of their element.

You will see many robots and cartoon characters…the game is after all being televised by Fox. You will easily mistake Fox’s pre and post-game analysts for cartoon characters as well.

Fox will promote “The Following” so many times you’ll seriously consider becoming a serial killer yourself.

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Super Bowl XLVIII – The Tale Of The Tape

With a tip of the helmet to Nick Bakay, a super-talented, multi-media humorist who made the following “Tale Of The Tape” format into a mini-career all its own…here’s how this year’s Super Bowl scientifically stacks up:

Things residents consume regularly:
Denver: Rocky Mountain Oysters
Seattle: Venti Frappuccinos
Advantage: Seattle. Rocky Mountain Oysters are bull testicles for God’s sake.  Rather be wired than “ballsy.”

Most breathtaking thing seen:
Denver: Rocky Mountains
Seattle: Space Needle
Advantage: Denver. Needle made by man. Mountains made by God.

Most unusual thing seen:
Denver: Temperature dropping forty degrees in an hour
Seattle: Salmon flying forty feet through a fish market
Advantage: Denver. Put a coat on and you’re all set. Takes a tad longer to prepare the salmon and set the table.

City nicknames:
Denver: Mile High City
Seattle: Emerald City
Advantage: Push. Pretty much the same if living at elevation or in the Land of Oz. Both states legalized pot recently and are definitely looking “higher” in profile.

Mental/Physical health status of head coaches:
Denver: John Fox’s heart had blockages removed
Seattle: Pete Carroll’s career had victories removed
Advantage: Seattle. Pete’s still a ball of energy even after being stripped of USC’s BCS a while ago. John’s signature acronym could have been DOA just a couple of months ago.

Team mascot ferocity:
Denver: A Horse
Seattle: A Hawk
Advantage: Seattle. Being slowly pecked to death is much more unappealing than being trampled to death.

Role models:
Denver: Peyton Manning
Seattle: Richard Sherman
Advantage: Denver. Sherman has the better hair; Manning has the better arm.

Annual sunshine:
Denver: Average 300 days
Seattle: Average 84 days
Advantage: Denver. Always walk towards the light people.

So there you have it. It’s simple when you break things down scientifically. Denver will win the Super Bowl. The numbers never lie.

Posted in Humor, NFL, Sports | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Sportsattitudes’ Countdown To Super Bowl XLVIII Begins Weather Civilization Ready Or Not

Almost fifty years ago…February 7th, 1964…the Beatles landed in New York City.  Nothing was ever quite the same again in the music industry.

Today the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks are scheduled to touch down in NYC one week prior to scoring touchdowns at Super Bowl XLVIII.  If the game on the field lives up to the game on paper…perhaps something similarly seismic will result.

But here’s how MY today in the Philly suburbs took flight…reading a quote from a Seahawks fan whose name I will not promote…about a situation where a Broncos fan was fired from his job in Washington State because he had the audacity to wear a Denver jersey to work:

“I think it’s crazy.  We’re civilized here.  It’s not like we live in Philadelphia.”

Sportsattitudes remains comfortably numb to Philly-bashing.  I long ago packed up any resentment I might have and left it at the doorstep of those fine folks up in Bristol, CT at ESPN Global HQ.  If y’all want to believe Philadelphia is the worst place in the world because ESPN says so…at least we’re real.

But the very nerve of somebody from Seattle ripping the “City of Brotherly Love.”  What’s Seattle’s nickname, “The Emerald City?”  Dude, you live in Oz.

I mention the above episode because, a) I have been pondering making a pick and it is this site’s tradition to only ever offer “suggestions” for amusement only and, b) reading this individual’s comment before I even had my sour cream donut in hand…and already wavering badly back and forth who I might pick…may have already tipped my hand to select Denver.

Yep, I think it’s that close.  And I’m that easily swayed.  Feel free to comment below on who you think will win this thing.  And, we’ll all keep in mind our minds will change…and change back again…before kickoff.  Just make sure if you’re putting it in print on my site, your site or somebody else’s site you “go final” with your selection before Bruno Mars decides Super Sunday morn it’s too damn cold to go and subsequently leaves the appropriately named Red Hot Chili Peppers flying solo at halftime.  I thought it was very curious the NFL, which carefully crafts everything well in advance and never allows itself to be thought of as disorganized, suddenly added the Peppers to the bill at the last-minute.  Bruno may have given them a heads-up he doesn’t necessarily think frostbite equals out favorably to a handful more downloads.  The Peppers can probably use the re-boot career boost more and will stick this one out…but I said I wouldn’t speak of weather anymore and have therefore digressed.

The X’s and O’s of this game I’m still muddling through but I’m starting to finalize some thoughts on the caloric makeup of my lineup for Super Sunday.  There was an article in USA Today about how easy it is to consume 2,000 calories or more during the game.  Right now, that’s my estimated consumption between waking up and noon.

Harry Balzer, Chief Industry Analyst for the NPD Group (which tracks eating trends) was quoted in part as saying, “My personal observation is that the Super Bowl is the grand end of the eating season in America, which begins on Halloween.”

I don’t know about you Harry but I plan on eating the day after the Super Bowl…and pretty much every day thereafter.

On to donut #2 now and doing some more studying up on the match-up.  I have noted in the past how wonderful statistics are because you can take them and argue opposite sides of the metric fence successfully.  It all comes down to how well you spin your stats.  So for what it is worth:

The Denver Broncos had 41 sacks and only gave up 20 this season.  That’s a favorable differential of +21.  The Seattle Seahawks had 44 sacks and only gave up …well…44 sacks this season.  That’s a favorable differential of…well…zero.

Something to chew on?

Posted in NFL, Sports | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments