Dec 29

NFL Gets It When It Comes To Scheduling; MLB Missing Boat

As I watched the NFL yesterday on the Red Zone – sports for those with ADHD – it came to me how much Major League Baseball could learn from football when it comes to scheduling.

All of yesterday’s games were played within the division, which illustrates a major flaw in baseball’s scheduling. There were ten games that had some kind of playoff implications, whether it was winning the division or playoff seeding.

Conversely, the Mets ended their season with an interleague game against Houston. Regular readers of this blog know I am vehemently against interleague play, but in particular on Opening Day and in September.

There was an interleague game nearly every day of the season, including two for home openers and eight series in September. How can you legitimately promote pennant races with that many September interleague series?

MLB would be wise if its September schedule, or at least the last three weeks of it, were played within the division. The Mets’ 2015 September interleague series is against the Yankees. If neither team is in the race then there could be a lot of empty seats at Citi Field.

Another thing the NFL does I like with its schedule is the opening week. Clearly, the NFL wrestled the “magic’’ of an Opening Day from baseball with its Thursday night game featuring the Super Bowl champion.

Baseball’s Opening Day used to highlight Washington – the team in the nation’s capital – and Cincinnati, the oldest franchise, the day before everybody else.

This past season, the first regular season game was played in March, while another team was still in its exhibition schedule. There have been other times, notably when the Yankees and Rays went to Japan, when the season openers were played abroad and those teams returned to complete their exhibition schedule.

Opening Day used to be special, now it’s a hodge-podge. The NFL gets it when it comes to scheduling while MLB is falling short.

Oct 20

Manning’s Record Brings Baseball’s Shame To Forefront

Like many, I tuned in last night to see Peyton Manning break the career touchdown pass record, which got me to wondering which record is more impressive, the home run or the touchdown pass?

It also got me to think if Barry Bonds was as gracious as Manning was, that he might be considered beloved instead of as a churl. Manning singled out his coaches and teammates – both in Denver and Indianapolis – but with Bonds I can’t forget the image of him in the Giants’ clubhouse with a big screen television and leather recliner by his locker.

There was also the time shortly after joining the Giants he walked into a pitcher’s meeting and said to his new teammates, “I took you deep … I took you deep … I took you deep.’’

Then, there are the steroids.

There is no disputing Manning holds the NFL’s passing record, one that required help from all his teammates.

But, what is sad is baseball’s most cherished record is forever tarnished. Many won’t acknowledge Bonds is the career record holder, and instead favor Hank Aaron. I am among this group.

So, on a night when the sports world should’ve rejoiced in Manning, baseball tradition again took a beating.

And, that’s sad.

Sep 13

Mejia Gesture Not Classy

NOTE: Terry Collins told Jenrry Mejia to tone it down several hours after this post.-JD


Count me among those not enamored with the post-game celebration of New York Mets closer Jenrry Mejia, who went over the top with his reel-him-in gesture after striking out Ian Desmond to end last night’s game.

Watching Mejia was watching any NBA player thump his chest and mug for the camera’s after dunking on a defender. It was watching almost any receiver or cornerback in the NFL.

It was a reminder of how class is a fleeting thing in sports. We see self-congratulatory celebrations everywhere, and we see them because that’s what the networks like to direct their cameras. And, don’t think for a moment the athlete doesn’t know where the camera is directed.

And, it’s tiresome.

Also tiring are the weak defenses by managers and coaches.

“You’ve got to have some emotion in the game,’’ Terry Collins said last night. “We see it everywhere. I see other teams doing it. They can get mad, if it gives them more adrenaline. I want these guys to have some fun. I don’t want to corral them and worry about every move they make.’’

I’d like to hear Collins take that view when somebody gestures toward his team.

Fact is, Collins must stick up for his players in large part because of his lame duck status. If the Mets and Collins both knew he’d be back, perhaps he’d be more apt to kick butt.

I confess to being old school, maybe too old, but that’s what I believe. There’s a difference between having fun and mocking your opponent.

Trouble is not too many players see the difference and the line is continually blurred for the fans, also.

Jan 16

Expanded Instant Replay Is Approved By Owners

A new era in baseball is upon us after the owners today unanimously approved expansion of instant replay at their meetings in Arizona. Considering the constant criticism of umpiring today, I’m all for this decision.

It might have to be modified somewhat in the number of challenges allowed to managers, or even if the decision to review might come from an umpire in the replay center, similar to how replays are automatically reviewed in the NFL after scoring plays and turnovers.

Currently managers are allowed only one challenge through the first six innings. After that, the umpires would initiate the challenges. If the umpires can challenge after the seventh inning, then why not before then?

Of all sports, baseball might be the most conducive to replay because much of the action is located at fixed positions, such as the bases and plate, the outfield fences and foul lines.

In addition to home runs, replay will be applied to:
• Ground-rule double

• Fan interference

• Stadium boundary calls

• Force play*

• Tag play

• Fair/foul in outfield only

• Trap play in outfield only

• Batter hit by pitch

• Timing play

• Touching a base (requires appeal)

• Passing runners

• Record keeping

What won’t be reviewable is the “neighborhood plays’’ at second base, which really would be the easiest to review.

MLB executive and former manager Tony LaRussa, who helped design the new system, estimated up to 90 percent of potential calls are reviewable.

“We’re really [targeting] the dramatic miss,’’ La Russa said, “not all misses.’’

One of the potential flaws in this system is managers could use challenges as a way to stall for time to allow a reliever to get ready in the bullpen. However, managers have found ways to stall for over 100 years, so perhaps that’s not such a big deal in the long run.

What I’m not crazy about is limiting the number of challenges, because after all, there could be more than one play that is close enough to be reviewed.

Given that, I wouldn’t mind having the umpire crew in the replay center in New York, buzzing the crew chief to say a play is under review.

However, this is better than what we’ve had in recent years.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos


Jul 19

Matt Harvey Spins Into Damage Control

The New York Mets appear to have a prize in Matt Harvey. However, after reading the Men’s Journal story I had to wonder. He couldn’t have meant what he was quoted as saying, could he?

As far a being a Derek Jeter-wannabe, the context was strictly in the pursuing female sense, and as you know, the Yankee shortstop has a bit of a reputation. But, he is Teflon and nothing sticks to him. Harvey doesn’t have that, yet. He may never have it, but at least he’s proving he has the smarts to enter damage control.

HARVEY: Damage control alert.

HARVEY: Damage control alert.

Today, Harvey came out with this tweet: “It really sucks how words get used and completely taken out of context.’’

Yes, it does.

I don’t doubt it is an accurate quote, as these style interviews are usually recorded, but in reading the article there was precious little set-up as to the context of the quote. There didn’t appear to be an effort on the writer’s part to create the scene or ask a follow-up for clarification. It came off as a “money quote,’’ so let’s run with it.

And, if Harvey did try to clarify on the spot, there was no mention there, either.

Harvey isn’t yet a grown man, but he’s getting there. His determination on the mound and work ethic is admirable. It is what franchises want to build around. But, he’s still a young man learning on the fly.

Harvey is having a dream season and appears to love the trappings of being a young star in New York, arguably the best and worst city, in which to be a star. A tip off is having the tabloids chase him around town for photos of him kissing his girlfriend.

Hooray for his model girlfriend, who couldn’t have been happy reading the quotes. Maybe it was after hearing it from her he went into damage control, the way he bears down with runners in scoring position.

I am glad Harvey is trying to rectify things because being a hound isn’t a reputation he really wants. That is, unless he doesn’t mind the whispers or cares about the consequences. If nothing else, if he wants to prowl, at least carry a bullpen in his wallet, or as some athletes and celebrities are doing, carry a pre-sex contract.

It’s Harvey’ love life and he can do what he wants with it, but he would be prudent to calm things down a bit. Harvey isn’t Joe Namath, Walt Frazier or Jeter, for that matter. Not yet, anyway.

NFL great Jim Brown said nothing good happens after midnight, and it is true, especially if one is clubbing in New York. There are those that will always want a part of him, those with a cell phone camera, and athlete-hunting females. Stalking might be a better word.

If somebody on the Mets hasn’t already, they should tell him to tone it down. Somebody always wants a piece of a popular jock, and as composed as he appears on the mound, he’s shown vulnerability off it.

Personally, I don’t care whom Harvey sleeps with or what he drinks. I don’t care as long as it doesn’t interfere with his performance on the mound. So far, it hasn’t. Hopefully, he’s learned something here.

The Jimmy Fallon piece was hilarious, but it won’t be long before that anonymity is lost. And, after midnight is when he’s most likely to lose it.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos