Wednesday, May 22, 2013 @ 9:50am
By: Ron Wolfley
The NFL is doing it again. Roger Goodell is desperately trying to find a solution to creating more revenue and the easiest way for him to do that is to expand the regular season or the playoffs.
Forget about the integrity of the game or what's good for the game.
"I hear from fans consistently that they want to make every NFL event more valuable. They see the preseason as being less valuable to them because they don't see the best players and the games do not count," Goodell said. "We have to address that, whether we are looking at 18 [regular-season games] and two [preseason games] or 16-and-two and expanded playoffs."
"Valuable," it's an interesting choice of words. Regular season games are more valuable than preseason games and playoff games are even more valuable than regular season games. This truth applies to fans and we know it applies for the league.
But it doesn't create value for the game.
What value is there really when coaches start sitting players in December over the last 3 or 4-weeks of the season because they have already locked up their playoff seed? What value is there for the fans when players start missing more games due to injury because the season is too long? What value is there when half the league gets into the post-season? What value does each NFL event have when regular season games are suddenly treated like preseason games because teams are preparing for the post-season? And we're talking about December games!
Where's the drama? Where's the import of every game? Where's the weekly tension and significance as each week passes by and teams that finish 9-9 are suddenly wild card teams?
More games or more playoff teams do not make NFL events more valuable to anybody but the league. They can charge higher ticket prices, sell more merchandise and sign bigger television deals. The league benefits greatly from expanding the regular season or the playoffs. Fans will turn out and support the game they love and owners will thrive in the comforts of capitalism. And that's fine, it's the American Way and God Bless America!
But the game will suffer.
The commissioner has a responsibility to increase revenue for his league but it cannot be at the expense of the game. There was a time when commissioners respected the sanctity of the game, loved the game and made decisions based on what they believed was good for the game. The bottom line can't always be the fulcrum for every decision that is made in regard to the game.
The bottom line does not understand the concept of less is more. With each game the NFL adds or each team that is included in the playoffs or both, the product is diluted. And that's a dynamic the NFL has always had over other professional sports leagues: every game really does count. The NFL is an event-based league with a premium placed on each game. The NBA, NHL or MLB cannot make that claim.
The bottom line: be careful what you wish for, Roger.
Wednesday, May 22, 2013 @ 8:11am
By: Doug Franz
You do not lose baseball games based on umpires. The D-backs lost to the Rockies because they were down 4-0 in the seventh inning. They lost because Ian Kennedy isn't pitching to his level yet. They lost because of an unearned run and Colorado going 5-for-11 with runners in scoring position.
Now that we're clear, what is going on with umpires? How does Johnson look at his employer and justify the strikes he called on two outside pitches to end two different at-bats with the bases loaded in the seventh? Angel Hernandez (one of the worst umps in history) ruled a check swing for Miggy that was so horrendous he should be fined. Dana DeMuth wasn't going to be short-changed as he put the unearned run on first base when Paul Goldschmidt tagged out Nolan Arenado at first on Didi Gregorius' throwing error.
This is no longer a replay issue. This is a union issue. If the Major League Umpires Association wants to defend the employment of so many bad umpires, it's time to bust the union.
Because of Justin Upton's hot start, everyone wanted to talk about the Braves. In case you haven't noticed, the Pirates are just as good and Cleveland is only 1/2 game worse.
Only leagues without integrity need them.
I can see the new marketing campaign..."Please recycle, Jodi does"
Tuesday, May 21, 2013 @ 8:15pm
By: Ron Wolfley
Watching Patrick Corbin go about his business Monday night was impressive. Although the sample size is small, Corbin continues to pitch like an ace. But pitching like an ace doesn't mean you are an ace.
There is a progression that most human beings go through while trying to compete at the highest level our species can produce.
The first-degree or growth spurt typically involves coming to the realization that you belong, that you are capable of competing against the other homo sapiens around you.
The second level of self-realization usually involves being successful against the best our species has to offer.
The third-degree of self-realization is all about dominating the best in the world in order to become one of the best in the world.
I think Patrick Corbin is between the first and second-degree of self-realization. How he deals with this metamorphosis could determine where he'll end up and how quickly he'll reach his destination.
Does he feel like he is entitled to the success he is experiencing or is he encouraged by the results he is getting but knows that success is fleeting? Does he believe he has arrived or does he see himself as deprived? Only Patrick knows what he thinks and how he feels when it's just he and the pillow.
Corbin doesn't need to answer that question now but how he answers that question now will might determine the rest of the season. Through no fault of his own, Corbin has not had a large enough sample size to say he's going to be Clayton Kershaw but based on what we've seen he could be well on his way.
Monday, May 20, 2013 @ 9:52pm
By: Doug Franz
Every week I'm writing something else about Corbin. Too bad the national media haven't figured it out yet. At least MLB Network spent some time on him after the near-shutout of the Rockies.
He's had enough starts that scouts should have found a weakness. It's exciting they haven't. Rockies hitters were walking away in disgust. Angry with themselves as if they had locked their keys in their car. They were frustrated because they can't believe they swung at some of those pitches. It's not your fault Colorado, he's just that good.
He pitches Tuesday. Coors Field is not the place to improve as a pitcher but with the recent outings of McCarthy and Cahill, the pressure isn't on Ian to pitch like an ace. The pressure is to simply keep up with the rest of the rotation.
Really cool of him to come in studio Monday and fill in for Wolf on short notice. I made a joke on Twitter that he just whopped me in an argument and I needed prayers. I don't want to over-react because it was only two people but I was ripped for asking for prayers in light of the tragedies that are happening in Oklahoma. A note to the Twitter politically correct police: If you think so poorly of me that you honestly believe I'm hoping to steal prayers from those directed to tornado victims in order to be a stronger intellectual challenger for Tim, why are you following me anyway? I'm sorry I've earned so little respect from you in the past.
I'm reminded -- after seeing the carnage in Oklahoma -- of what former Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman said to Wolf and me on our show following the Boston Bombings. He said there are so many good people who want to do so many good things but the best thing to do is to just stay back let the authorities do their job and send money.
We try to think of all these things we would need in destruction like that but the problem is you can't get those things to those people fast enough. However, the Red Cross can. The Red Cross needs two things: money and blood. If you can, try to donate one or the other. I promise I will this week.
Friday, May 17, 2013 @ 4:58pm
By: Ron Wolfley
Full disclosure: I thought the Golden State Warriors would force a Game 7 in their Western Conference semifinals matchup against the San Antonio Spurs. The reasons for this matter little, I was wrong.
But watching the Spurs compete reminded me of who they are and why they're so tough to beat in a seven-game series. You have to be more disciplined than they are; you have to execute the fundamentals of the game better than they do and that's not going to happen very often over the course of seven games.
The culture of the Spurs is what makes them great. They might be the best example of what a team is all about in the NBA. The Nuggets use teamwork to beat you, the Thunder (when Russell Westbrook is healthy) play as a unit and the Miami Heat are capable of beating you a number of ways when their great skill plays as one, but the Spurs seem to play as a team better and more consistently than most.
It all starts with Tim Duncan and Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. Even after all these years, this triumvirate has afforded Gregg Popovich a luxury that most coaches typically don't have: they allow themselves to be coached, even screamed at.
Watching Game 6 reminded me of what humility can do for a player and an organization when their best players care more about winning than they do scoring points.
Gregg Popovich screams at everybody. It doesn't matter who you are, Tim Duncan (whom he benched for the last 4:38 of the game), Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker. He screams at them all. And if he screams at these players and gets in their grill (because of their humility), what excuse does Kawai Leonard, Tiago Splitter or Danny Green have if they reject Pop's rebuke?
You want to talk about culture within an organization? Talk about your most respected and best players and how they handle being dressed down in front of thousands/millions of people/viewers?
But that's the culture of the San Antonio Spurs; that's who they are.
It's this dynamic -- where Pop coaches everybody the same -- that makes the Spurs the NBA's version of the New England Patriots. Popovich has the same luxury Bill Belichick has in New England: your best, most respected player(s), allow themselves to be coached. And if it's good enough for Tom Brady, what's your problem rook?
And what does that truth translate into for the Spurs? Unselfish, team-oriented basketball. The Spurs had 27-assists on 33 made baskets; they had 5 players in double figures; and they played the best defense I've seen from them in the post-season so far. Their rotations were near perfect. The Warriors got very few easy baskets and every shot was seemingly contested.
Gregg Popovich owes much of his career to Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. Not because of how many points they have scored, not because of the effort they give on the floor, not because of their talent, but because of their humility. These players have been great for a long, long time and their humility has established a culture within the Spurs organization that has set a standard for years.
Enjoy it and appreciate it now; I don't think we'll be seeing this dynamic very often in the years to come.