Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Separate But Equal?

      The boys of summer are back, my friends. As our school year slowly draws to a close, the baseball season is only beginning. However, when veritable Reds punching bags, the lowly Houston Astros, tragically moved to the AL West, a monumental shift in baseball occurred--interleague play is now an everyday event. While some fans, and certainly all franchise owners, may relish the fact that their hometown teams get to play clubs like the Yankees or the Red Sox on a daily basis, many people see a glaring inefficiency in this “opportunity”: the discrepancies regarding the usage of a DH, or designated hitter, to bat for a team’s pitcher-the AL uses it, the NL does not--will always put one team at a significant tactical disadvantage depending upon where the game is played. While some may praise the National League’s stance on this issue for keeping true to “tradition,” and for “protecting the “complete player,” many, including the author, have called for the universal institution of the designated hitter in major league baseball.

     Given the aforementioned fact that interleague play is now an everyday occurrence, Major League Baseball’s policy of “Separate but Equal,” in regards to keeping the DH out of the NL while supposedly keeping a level of play comparable to that of the AL,  no longer applies. It is time for change. This doesn’t just hurt the NL, however. As mentioned above, one team, be it AL or NL, is always being put at a tactical disadvantage in every competition they play in-NL teams do not have a consistent DH to use like all AL teams do, and AL teams do not have a large enough sample size to weigh a given player’s talent or lack thereof in the field against his offensive capabilities in order to set a lineup, like all NL teams do. Universally instituting the DH would instantly level the playing field and add much needed punch to National League lineups and simplify the process for managers and front offices across the league, who will struggle deciding whether or not to keep a fulltime DH on 25 man roster although they may not be used every day.

     Furthermore, the DH rule can also be seen as a safety rule, both from a financial aspect and a physical health aspect as well. Let’s use a hypothetical: Dusty Baker finally puts Aroldis Chapman into the starting rotation, and in his first at bat of the season, he gets plunked in the head and is concussed, leaving his career in jeopardy-a $30,000,000 investment wasted. This actually has happened before--Chien Ming Wang, a former Yankees pitcher, fell victim to a similar situation running the bases, he blamed lack of experience doing so as the cause, against an NL team and his career was essentially ended. Because of the inherent risk of batting, GMs need the financial security that comes with a DH rule so that their expensive investments in pitchers aren't cut short for any reason besides a general lack of talent. Also, the newfound ability to develop prospects at the then universal position, DH, would revitalize the league’s trade market High schools use a DH to make games more competitive and safe, so do colleges, why can’t the MLB?

       From a mathematical stand point, adding a DH would create roughly 40 additional runs to add to any team’s offensive output, translating to more wins and higher scoring games-a formula for baseball parity and higher attendance, translating to higher revenues and better teams. It is interesting to note that an overwhelming majority of World Series winners and attendance leaders since the DH was created in 1973 have hailed from the American League, which traditionally uses the DH every game, perhaps due to higher scoring games generating more fan interest and therefore more revenue to spend on players in the form of ticket sales. In regards to jersey sales-the DH provides a10th “starter” to capitalize upon, increasing sales by default. In comparison, the NL’s inherent lack of marketable bench players and the limit to nine “starters” per lineup effectively caps the amount revenue NL teams can receive and spend on players.

     There always comes a time when tradition must give way to progress. For baseball, that time has finally come. Gone are the days of the “complete” player-pitchers are paid and scouted for their ability to throw the ball, not hit it, after all and there has never been a truly complete player who could hit and pitch in baseball history besides one George Herman Ruth. Pitchers’ legacies are created on the mound, not on the batter’s box, and hitters are judged at the plate, not in the field- so why try to force something upon fans, the myth of the complete player, that isn't true? Why force aging legends out of baseball, when they can extend their careers like Frank Thomas did? Let’s make the game great again. Long live baseball. Long live the designated hitter.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Live Draft Coverage

FIRST OVERALL PICK-Kansas City Chiefs: Eric Fisher: OT: Central Michigan

I'm not a real big fan of this pick. Personally, I prefer Luke Joeckel because of his experience in the SEC going up against better, NFL quality, defensive players and his versatility, or Leon Sandcastle at the corner, but I understand that Andy Reid wanted to bring a "nasty" lineman to block for Alex Smith and pave the road for Jamaal Charles-the two tackles are ultimately interchangeable and will go to many Pro Bowls regardless of what order they are chosen.

SECOND OVERALL PICK-Jacksonville Jaguars: Luke Joeckel: OT: Texas A&M
This is the first time in quite a while, if not the first time, that two offensive tackles have gone with the first and second overall picks. It's a shame that this team didn't get a trade offer-it would have benefit them to address their needs with more picks, although Joeckel is a damn good substitute. I had a sneaky suspicion that they might have grabbed Geno Smith and effectively abort the Blaine Gabbert era before it really began. Let's just hope that Gabbert can get his proverbial shit together, stop watching the rush,  and avoid taking stupid hits...Joeckel is worth a good 2.5 seconds of much needed extra time. Interesting fact that may only interest me-Joeckel will make roughly $285,000 more than Fisher due to FLA income tax rules. 

THIRD OVERALL PICK-Miami Dolphins: Dion Jordan: DE: Oregon
Awesome pick. Raiders get screwed-never a surprise during the draft. In all honesty, I was expecting them to choose Lane Johnson to replace the departed Jake Long, but this is arguably a better pick. But by passing on a tackle, does that mean that the impending trade for Chiefs tackle Branden Albert is all but a fax away? 

FOURTH OVERALL PICK-Philadelphia Eagles: Lane Johnson: OT: Oklahoma
Chip Kelly didn't get his man in Dion Jordan, but the super athletic Johnson, who played quarterback in high school, and then tight end and some defense before getting put on the offensive line. His speed and quickness makes him a good fit for Kelly's fast paced offense and Michael Vick's scrambling shenanigans. Look for Detroit to trade down or grab a defensive lineman after they didn't get one of the premier tackles. 

FIFTH OVERALL PICK-Detroit Lions: Ezekiel Ansah: DE: BYU
This man is a beast. Enough said. I am worried that he doesn't have enough experience-only nine starts at BYU. But hell,Nick Fairley, Suh, and Ansah will make an absolutely frightening pass rush. And somebody, please, get Barry Sanders a tailor. 

SIXTH OVERALL PICK-Cleveland Browns: Barkevious Mingo: DE: LSU

Tough pick, but will bring some "Bark" back to the Dawg Pound. Too many needs for the Browns here...I liked Star Lotulelei. But then again, and especially with this draft, beauty is in the eye of the beholder , and 7-20 will be fun picks to watch, especially after the Jets couldn't get their man in Mingo and may look to stockpile picks or grab playmaker Tavon Austin. Now the QB intrigue begins...

SEVENTH OVERALL PICK-Arizona Cardinals: Johnathan Cooper: OG: North Carolina
In all honesty, I don't know much about Cooper, but from what I am hearing, he is a strong pass blocker and will play a major role in  protecting the newly acquired  Carson Palmer, who, when protected, can turn into football Jesus. 

EIGHTH OVERALL PICK-Saint Louis Rams: Tavon Austin: Everything: West Virginia
I am writing this before the pick is in, but I am sure this move is for the Bills to trade down and grab Ryan Nassib, and can almost guarantee this is for the Rams to grab Tavon Austin, a playmaker in the mold of Percy Harvin, to inject life into a boring offense before the Jets can. Let's just hope he is worth the four picks the Rams traded for him. Jets coach Rex Ryan, who is probably peeing is pants right now, reportedly told Austin "We have a plan for you," earlier in the week, essentially letting the world know his intentions. Pick is in...CALLED IT! I was just hoping that he would fall to the I am wishing upon a Star to pair with Geno Atkins...see what I did there? ("Wishing upon a Shariff" doesn't sound as punny)

NINTH OVERALL PICK-New York Jets: Dee Milliner: CB: Alabama
Don't like this pick at all. Injuries abound. He also kind-of-sort-of-absolutely needs to learn how to catch the ball. He's not even close coverage ability to Darelle Revis, and after every touchdown or missed assignment-the comparisons will come raining down. 

TENTH OVERALL PICK-Tennessee Titans: Chance Warmack: OG: Alabama
Five lineman in the top ten. Good pick, solid in pass protection and an absolute monster in the run game. Disaster scenario for the Chargers right now. 

ELEVENTH OVERALL PICK-San Diego Chargers: DJ Fluker: OT: Alabama
Crisis averted. Bengals should be getting worried. Three Alabama players in a row, a true testament to Nick Saban's talent as a coach and as a recruiter. Looking at the Raiders to grab Shariff Floyd after passing on him at three through a trade. 

TWELFTH  OVERALL PICK-Oakland Raiders: DJ Hayden: CB: Houston
Two DJs in a row here. Too many needs to address here to have a totally "wrong" move. Reggie McKenzie and the Oakland front office probably went with the best player on their board. Hayden is a ball-hawking, physical, athletic corner whom I may have chosen over Milliner given his injury history. Looking at the Jets to grab Floyd or Lotulelei at 14, or buck a trend and grab the first real linebacker in Jarvis Jones. 

THIRTEENTH OVERALL PICK-New York Jets: Sheldon Richardson: DT: Mississippi

Interesting pick with Richardson (at left) over Shariff Floyd and Lotulelei or even an offensive player, which I think would be the best direction to go in. I am so frustrated with the front office in New York right now because they committed to Sanchez but haven't gotten him any help in the first round. Their offense will continue to be anemic. 

FOURTEENTH OVERALL PICK-Carolina Panthers: Star Lotulelei: DT: Utah
A run on defensive tackles? This draft is proving that football is won in the trenches...Panthers are getting a great player and an even greater value.

FIFTEENTH OVERALL PICK-New Orleans Saints: Kenny Vaccaro: S: Texas
There goes the Bengals' draft plan...Vaccaro needs to teach Barry Sanders how to buy a suit that fits. Powerful moment with that St. Jude patient. Glad the NFL gets so involved with charitable causes.

SIXTEENH OVERALL PICK-Buffalo Bills: EJ Manuel: QB: Florida State
If I am Ryan Nassib, I am turning any object in my immediate area to a projectile right now. Getting passed over by your college coach in the draft is the ultimate snub...Manuel is a project  and not even close to being as "pro-ready" as Geno Smith or the aforementioned Nassib. Happy for Manuel though-his mom is currently battling with breast cancer. 

SEVENTEENTH OVERALL PICK-Pittsburgh Steelers: Jarvis Jones: LB: Georgia
Good fit for the team and for the scheme. I am worried that the spinal stenosis will be a problem later on in the future though. Really only fits with the Steelers or the Ravens though, so this pick is no surprise

EIGHTEENTH OVERALL PICK-San Francisco 49ers: Eric Reid (Below): S: LSU

I repeat: Bengals=Screwed. Hoping for Bjoern Werner or Shariff Floyd to fall. Anyone but Menelik Watson or a tackle to replace Andre Smith would make me happy.

NINETEENTH OVERALL PICK-New York Giants: Justin Pugh: OT: Syracuse
Surprise! Big reach here, but the G-Men are legends at developing talent in the trenches. I really expected them to grab Werner here to pair with Jason Pierre-Paul and set the league on fire. Mike Brown-Floyd

TWENTIETH OVERALL PICK-Chicago Bears: Kyle Long: OG: Oregon
Again, typing before the pick here-looking for the Vikings to trade up and grab Manti Te'o here. Or they could just go with another Gold-Domer in tight end Tyler Eiffert. Or they could be mean and take Shariff Floyd from the Bengals or whomever plans to trade up to get him...Thank God. 

TWENTY FIRST OVERALL PICK-Cincinnati Bengals: Tyler Eiffert: TE: Notre Dame.
PLEASE....SHARIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF....if they mess this up....well then............We don't even need a tight end! We need line help and depth on defense. Remember when the Bengals passed on  top talent to grab a tight end who can't block with the 21st pick? Dez Bryant happened. Imagine what would could have been with AJ Green and Bryant lining up together...aaaaannnnnnnnnnndddd I'm crying. Mike Brown! Andy Dalton isn't good enough to support two TEs consistently...if this works though, I'll be ecstatic. Maybe we'll pull a Rey Maualuga and grab a premier talent who endured a draft day fall early into the early second round. 

TWENTY SECOND OVERALL PICK-Atlanta Falcons: Desmond Trufant: CB: Washington
No surprise. Bit of a reach though, looking at the next few picks between here and their original pick (30th overall) only the Patriots are a serious threat to take a corner. 

TWENTY THIRD OVERALL PICK-Minnesota Vikings: Shariff Floyd: Florida
Much like my hopes and dreams for the Bengals in this draft so far, his fall is over. Floyd is going to get a few sacks playing with Kevin Williams and Jared Allen, but will really show his potential a few years down the road.

TWENTY FOURTH OVERALL PICK-Indianapolis Colts: Bjoern Werner: DE: Florida State

Well there goes my "Rey Maualuga" pick. Werner would totally fit in with German Cincinnati and our awesome Okotberfest festivals. Now I'm hoping Alec Ogletree falls past the Texans and Ravens. Great player, interesting story, and awesome name. 

TWENTY FIFTH OVERALL PICK-Minnesota Vikings: Xavier Rhodes: CB: Florida State
Two Seminoles in a row! It is going to be really hard to mess up this draft now...they are going to be a tough team to score on in a few years...

TWENTY SIXTH OVERALL PICK-Green Bay Packers: Datone Jones: DE: UCLA
Versatile player in the way that a team can move him all around the field, but as an end, can only keep him in a 3-4. Quick first step and strong push-watch out, Jay Cutler. 

TWENTY SEVENTH OVERALL PICK-Houston Texans: DeAndre Hopkins: WR: Clemson
Pro-Ready guy who could be very productive across from Andre Johnson. Reminds me and many others of Falcons wideout Roddy White in the way that they are both consistent and durable, and won't beat you every week, although they can in the right situation, but their impact will ALWAYS be felt.

TWENTY EIGHTH OVERALL PICK-Denver Broncos: Sylvester Williams: DT: North Carolina
Just a massive human being. Gets to the quarterback and should be a key contributor this year but needs to make more plays. Wondering when a team in need of corner help will roll the dice on Leon Sandcastle. 

TWENTY NINTH OVERALL PICK-Minnesota Vikings: Cordarrelle Patterson: WR: Tennessee
The Patriots have consistently traded out of the first round in order to stockpile picks in the second but with all they got for a late first rounder, I can't complain...eventually it's going to haunt them, however. This is a win now move for the Vikes-they won't pick until Saturday now. Risky pick-a JUCO transfer who only started one season at a traditional program-but a necessary one nonetheless. That suit has me questioning his intelligence though... Look for them to target a quarterback next year if Christian Ponder doesn't put up some numbers. 

THIRTIETH OVERALL PICK-Saint Louis Rams: Alec Ogletree: LB: Georgia

Well, there goes my second "Maualuga" player. Perhaps Te'o? Good pick, character issues are rampant, but coach Jeff Fisher is a good mentor and has worked with/drafted Janoris Jenkins, a corner with similar concerns. Solid draft so far for the Rams-meriting a sturgeonface from our president. 

THIRTY FIRST OVERALL PICK-Dallas Cowboys: Travis Frederick: C: Wisconsin
Bad pick. I honestly think that they could have grabbed him in the third round. Jerry Jones, true to his Al Davis-esque nature, drafted his pet project to address a need rather than pick the best player.

THIRTY SECOND OVERALL PICK-Baltimore Ravens: Matt Elam: S: Florida
Filling a need while drafting the top player left on the board-smart move by a very smart GM-Ozzie Newsome. Hoping Eddie Lacy falls to the Bengals now...

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