All posts by michaelbrianwalker

Currently: math/economics teacher at Ramsey High School, commissioner of both a fantasy baseball league and a fantasy football league Past: Graduate of Midland Park High School Class of 2000 and Colgate University Class of 2004, pricing/yield analyst at AvisBudget from 2004 through 2007, member of MPHS baseball and cross-country teams Fan of: Mets, Devils, Giants Achievements: Named "World's Slowest Eater" by everyone who knows me, played on the 2003-4 Colgate intramural-championship ice-hockey team, three-time IceHouse Adult League Champion (twice as a Seal, once as a STRanger), have twice been hit by deer while driving, coached the league-tourney-champion 2008-9 Ramsey Rams JV ice-hockey team (universally regarded by me as the greatest JV hockey team of all time), once ran 6 miles listening to nothing but Lonely Island's "Jack Sparrow" on repeat, picked Gonzaga 10 times to win the championship (yes, I was that guy before it was fashionable to be that guy), stayed for all 17 innings of a 2000 Newark Bears/Somerset Patriots game (and caught my only career foul ball at a pro game during the 16th inning), and have not eaten breakfast regularly since 1996

Why I Hate the Yankees/How to Root Against Them in Appropriate Fashion

I hate the Yankees.  I have always hated the Yankees.  I’m a 35-year-old man who hates a team of nice guys whom I have never met.  I hated the Yankees when they had Derek Jeter and Tino Martinez.  I hated them when they had Mark Teixeira and Nick Swisher.  I hate them now when they have Aaron Judge and Didi Gregorius.  I don’t hate any of these people individually; in fact, they all seem like nice guys and class acts.  In actuality, the only Yankee of the past 20 years who I really despise individually is Roger Clemens.

If all these people are good people, why does it make sense that I hate the collective that is the New York Yankees?  Many people wonder that about me.  To answer that, let’s put all the cards on the table.  How come it DOES make sense that I have always loved the collective that is the New York Mets, even if I don’t love all of THEM individually?  I mean, by all accounts, Matt Harvey does not really seem that likeable to me.  Why do I root all season long for a bunch of people I have never met, even if I don’t love all the people on the team?  That is no less logical than rooting really hard against the Yankees.

Bill Hader said it best in Trainwreck, when he said that “sports bring people together”.  Being a Mets fan means reveling with other Mets fans in the joy of the team’s success – like the 2015 World Series run – and suffering together through the rough seasons like this year.  Ted Kaczynski and JD Salinger aside, humans like to be involved with groups of other people.  We like to bond.  We like to have common things that bring us joy and common things that bring us despair.  In my case, I like to bond with other Mets fans.

Well, guess what?  As a Mets fan, rooting against the Yankees is part of the deal.  Do we have an inferiority complex because the Yankees have won 13.5 times more championships than the Mets have?  Absolutely.  Do 35-year-old Mets fans have an inferiority complex because the Yankees won 4 championships and were 2 outs from a 5th between the start of 9th grade and the end of sophomore year of college?  For sure.  Are all Mets fans bitter because this was supposed to be the year the Mets win a championship and because the Mets were supposed to own New York from 2015 through at least 2020?  You bet.  We thought the Yankees’ “time” had gone from 1995 to 2012, and we thought 2017 was to be part of the early stages of a Mets dynasty.  That was not to be.

Anyway, it’s Yankees-playoff time.  It is what it is.  Nobody wants to hear Mets fans going on their own version of a “What Happened?” book tour, blaming injuries, the Wilpons, scheduling, having a team in Vegas, or Julian Edelman stealing Matt Harvey’s girlfriend.  Likewise, nobody wants to hear Mets fans loudly ranting against the Yankees.  Instead, Mets fans need to maintain dignity and not act like a-holes.  Otherwise, we have no right to complain when Yankees fans root against the Mets in the 2018 World Series.  Therefore, I urge fellow Mets fans to abide by these three simple rules when rooting against the Yankees during these playoffs.

  • Unless you are by yourself or outside of the NYC metro area, keep your rooting to yourself. Deep down, we Mets fans are all rooting for Sabathia to get lit up during each start, for Chapman to blow a few saves, for Sanchez to let up a passed ball every inning, and for Judge to strike out four times every game.  (Oh wait, that last one has actually happened.)  However, we shouldn’t vocalize it.  If we do that in a crowd of Yankees fans, we are just a-holes.  Plain and simple.  We are wet blankets, Negative Nancies, and d-bags.  While that might feel good in the moment, that “a-hole” tag doesn’t leave us.  We don’t want that “a-hole” tag following us every time we are with our friends in non-Yankees settings.

 

  • When engaging in conversations with Yankees fans, be realistic. Mets fans hate when Yankees fans respond to any argument with “Mets suck”.  The same goes the other way.  You shouldn’t walk around saying, “Yankees suck” because a) That’s actually false, because they are in the ALCS (and, for relativity’s sake, the Mets did lose 92 games.)  and b) It makes you an a-hole again.  Also, don’t implicitly say, “Yankees suck”.  By that, I mean, don’t go around saying, “Yankees have no chance against Houston” or “The Astros are going to destroy the Yankees”.  Instead, make valid arguments.  We have legs to stand on here.  We can say that CC won’t be able to fool another MLB lineup in another playoff series.  We can say that the bullpen’s workload is going to catch up with them.  We can say that the team can’t keep carrying Judge and his strikeouts.  Those are baseball arguments and legitimate ones.   Stick with them.  Sound intelligent.  Don’t shout inane things about the Yankees sucking.

 

 

  • Root against the Yankees. This should be the most obvious thing on a list of three aspects of “rooting against the Yankees”, but it needs to be said. Mets fans who also pull for the Yankees are like people who like pulp in orange juice or like unsalted pretzels.  It’s weird, and I don’t know where these people come from.  I am not saying you have to root hard against the Yankees for 162 games.  That’s a lot of commitment toward hate, and it’s already a big commitment to root FOR the Mets for 162 games.  I just feel that Mets fans should at least root against the Yankees in the playoffs.

 

Why should we root against the Yankees in the playoffs, you ask?  We watch the Mets for 6 months and hear generally about the Yankees.  However, we don’t watch that many of their games.  Therefore, we don’t want them getting the big stage in October.  We want the Mets getting the big stage at that time.   When the Yankees get the stage, we root against them.  Also, the Yankees are the Mets’ rival, and it’s weird to root for a rival.  It makes no sense to me.  I do also realize that most Yankees fans are OK with rooting for the Mets, but that is because the Red Sox, not the Mets, are the Yankees’ rivals.  I get it.  As a Giants fan, I don’t hate the Jets, but plenty of Jets fans hate the Giants.  In both cases, the fans with the inferiority complex root against the superior team.  In baseball and football, I cover both sides.

 

Therefore, Mets fans should be rooting hard against the Yankees, but I think that we do it respectfully.

Breaking Sports Fans into Tiers

For most of my life, I considered myself to be a die-hard Mets and Devils fan.  After all, any list of the greatest moments of my life include Robin Ventura’s “Grand Single”, the 10-run inning against the Braves, “Henrique, it’s over!!!”, and the Devils’ three Stanley Cups.  The worst moments of my life include Kenny Rogers, Yadier Molina, Stephane Matteau, and Eric Staal.   However, I realized on Sunday that I had watched a total of 5 innings of Mets games since August 16.  That’s right…5!  I didn’t used to be that way.  In 1995 and 1996, 2002 through 2004, and 2009 through 2014 (all Mets seasons with meaningless Septembers); I still watched plenty of Mets games in late August and September.  However, in 2017, I live in a world with Thursday Night Football, lots of football pools, lots of blogs, lots of podcasts, a million shows to binge-watch, and 24/7 coverage of politics.  There were many times since August 16 when I flipped on the Mets, only to see them getting trounced….at which point I would change the channel to something else.  Similarly, in the past three Devils seasons, I generally stopped tuning by early March, as the team was way out of playoff contention.  All of this has made me realize that I’m not a die-hard fan.  I’m a hard-core fan, but I’m not a die-hard.

This got me thinking.  It is time that I separate fans into tiers.  I am leaving football out of the equation, because the once-a-week, 16-game, fantasy/pools/gambling aspect provides too many different variables and scenarios than for the other three sports.  The way I see it; for fans of any MLB, NHL, or NBA team; there are either 6 or 7 tiers of fans.  Let’s dive right in.

 

Tier I: The Ultimate Die-Hards

I was never actually in this category…even from 1990 through 1992 when I would cry every time the Mets lost.  These are the fans who go to September baseball games of a team that is way out of contention.  They go to March hockey/basketball games for teams out of contention too.  They are willing to spend the time not only to watch these games but to drive to the stadium/arena.  They are also willing to keep spending money to go to these crappy games.  You don’t get more die-hard than this.  Very few people make it into this tier. These are the individual fans you heard when you turned on a mid-week Mets game this September and saw 500 people in the stands.  There is always one guy whose every comment gets picked up by the TV broadcast.  Fans in this tier show either an incredible amount of team loyalty or an incredible lack of a life.  You be the judge.

Image result for die-hard fans

 

Tier II: The Die-Hards

Again, I was in this category until recently.   These “Die-Hards” differ from the “Ultimate Die-Hards” only in that they watch the late-season games on TV.  These fans keep watching, but they at least retain the options to channel-surf in commercials, do chores during games, and avoid spending money for ballpark hot dogs.  This category does cover fans who try to watch every single game regardless of how bad a team is doing.  Congratulations to my parents, who both remain in the “die-hards” category for the Mets.  Over the past month, I have enjoyed getting updates from them about the September Mets.  It’s almost like I was in a foreign country with no access to Mets info….when, in actuality, I was in the same country that allowed me to spend hours every day on metsblog from April through mid-August.  I just had had enough of the Mets by the end of summer.  These fans don’t feel that way.  These fans are devoted enough to the team that they would rather watch a depressing last month of a season than watch anything else.  These are the Mets fans who were devastated in late August that Conforto and Cespedes would be out for the season, when people like me said, “I feel bad for them personally, but the Mets’ season ended weeks ago.  I’m over it.”

 

Tier III: The Hard-Core Non-Die-Hards

This is where I fall.  We in this group start every season excited about the possibility of a World Series Championship, Stanley Cup, or NBA Championship; regardless of how unlikely it might be.  This is the fourth-straight season in which no reasonable person gives the Devils a shot to win the Cup, but I am excited about the prospect of them shocking the world in June.  Tier-III fans are just like Tier-I/II fans in that all try to watch as many games as possible at the start of the season.  In any of the three groups listed, the fans know who all the players are.  A Mets fan in this group always knows who the fifth outfielder is, which relievers have been pitching well lately, how many pitches a starter pitched his last time out, and so on.  A Devils fan in this group knows the line combinations and defense pairs at any point, has views on what better combinations would be, and who should be getting more or less ice time.  Fans in this group actively think about a team’s game when they cannot watch.  They will take any socially acceptable opportunity to check in on a team’s game when they are unable to watch.

The main difference between Tiers II and III is that Tier-III fans, like me, check out in the last quarter of the season if the team is terrible.  We hold out hope longer than we probably should, but eventually we realize it’s over.  Once that happens, we move on to other entertainment choices.

 

Tier IV The Halfway-Respectable Bandwagoners

These are the Mets fans who came back into the mix a few weeks into 2006, after a few years off.  They are the fans who jumped back onboard in April of 2015, left for three months, and returned in August of that year.  They are Rangers fans who took off from 1997 through 2005 but jumped backed in when Lundqvist showed up and improved the team that year.  These fans don’t wait until playoff time to root for their teams, but they wait until the team is good to jump back in.  Fans in this group have a major distinction from the first three tiers in that they do not check in daily to see how their team is doing.  They will check in rather frequently, but they are ok with not knowing how their team did last night.  Meanwhile, this statement would be blasphemous to someone from the previous three tiers.

 

Tier V The Unrespectable Bandwagoners

These are the Yankees fans who showed up out of nowhere this week, the Mets fans who showed up out of nowhere two Octobers ago, and the hockey fans who show up once their “team” makes the second round of the playoffs.  They experience none of the hard work and stress to make it to the most exciting part of the year, but they reap all the benefits.  Worst of all, they usually act like they have been watching the team all year and know what they are talking about.  Essentially, they are like me (and most of America during March Madness).  With March Madness, I gobble up four days of college-basketball analysis between Selection Sunday and the opening Thursday, and then I act like I really know that Stony Brook should match up well against Kentucky.  I like to think it’s cute when we do this for college basketball, but I’m sure college-basketball purists hate it.  Likewise, the Yankees equivalent of this fan will probably spend the Yankees’ entire playoff run spewing lines like, “The Yankees need to make this a bullpen game, because their bullpen is their strength.” “Aaron Judge has really come on after a rough patch in the middle of the season.” and “Joe Girardi needs to be careful not to overmanage”.  These are the three lines that they heard from Francesa, Michael Kay, Sportscenter, or even just a Yahoo! Headline, but these fans are going to milk the three lines for all they are worth.  These people want to sound smart and act like they have been there all along, even if they have no idea where Todd Frazier or Sonny Gray was playing on July 1.  Also, these fans never never ever check to see how a team has been doing, unless they are actually watching the game.

Image result for bandwagon fan meme

 

Tier VI The Absolute Worst

Sorry, Yankees fans, but you have a lot more of these fans most other teams do.  These are the fans that don’t even watch playoff games, but they will tell anyone within an ear shot that they are huge fans of a certain team.  A Yankees fan of this flavor is probably at a bar right now saying, “I love the Yankees.  How can you not love Derek Jeter and Tino Martinez?”  They know absolutely nothing outside of 1 or 2 players who once played for the team…but  they legitimately think they can fool people into thinking they are huge fans. My all-time favorite moment for a Tier-VI person came in 2010.  I was at a bar, and a TV was showing the “Yankees Classics” version of Game 4 of the 1996 World Series.  I overheard a woman say to her friend, “The Yankees are losing 6-0.  This sucks.  I love the Yankees.”  That actually happened.  The TV said “Yankees Classics” in the corner, and the footage was somewhat grainy.  It was actually 2010, but the TV was showing the likes of Wade Boggs, Mariano Duncan, and Tino Martinez on the field.  The girl clearly hoped that a guy would hear her, be impressed, and start talking to her.  It didn’t work.  However, if I were not engaged at the time, I would have been tempted to go up to her and say, “It’s gonna be OK.  The Yankees are gonna tie this at 6 later on, on a 3-run homer by Jim Leyritz, and they’ll win it in extra innings.”  Is there anything sexier than being able to tell the future?  No.  Unfortunately, if my plan had worked, I would have been stuck spending time with a “Tier VI Yankees Fan”, which is as an insufferable a human being as one can find.  Anyway, you get my point.  These fans know absolutely nothing but act like they are huge fans.

 

Tier Self-Loathing

This tier exists only for a select few teams, and they are the fans who refuse to enjoy anything about their team because they are always waiting for the other shoe to drop.  When good things happen, they say, “Obviously something bad will happen now because these are the ______________.”  You know the teams that have this tier.  The Mets, the Jets, and the Knicks are the main culprits.  I am going to guess that the Browns, Bills, and Maple Leafs have plenty of these fans too.  Don LaGreca and I cannot stand these people.  If you are that miserable rooting for your team, then stop watching.  These are the Mets fans who said in the 2015 World Series, “I knew they’d blow it, because they are the Mets.”  Never mind that they had an incredible run to make it to the World Series.  These are the Jets fans who are already conceding the #1 pick after two wins, because “The Jets don’t even know how to tank right.”  At some point, I plan to write a full post about self-loathing Mets fans, but today is not that day.

And there you have it….my 6-7 tiers of sports fans!

This Day in Sports History: Yankees/Indians – 10 Years Ago and 20 Years Ago

I know that you loyal BTB readers are disappointed that I have written only two “This Day in Sports” articles so far.  Therefore, I’m ready to give you two for the price of one!  Today, October 5, is the 20-year anniversary of a great moment in Yankees/Indians history, and – can you believe it? – it is also the 10-year anniversary of another great moment in that rivalry!  By “great”, I should warn you that I don’t like the Yankees.

Let’s dive right in.

In 1996, the 92-70 Yankees won the World Series.  That year, the Indians were the heavy favorites entering the postseason.  The 1995 AL Champs had won 99 games in 1996, more than anybody else that season.  With a loaded lineup including Albert Belle, Manny Ramirez, Roberto Alomar, and Jim Thome in their primes (In my mind, those are four HOFers, again in their primes!), I was one of many who expected the Indians to finish the job and win the World Series.  Well, this was not to be.  The Wild Card Orioles upset the Indians in the ALDS, and, of course, the Yankees went on to win the World Series.

Fast forward to 1997.  That regular season (in the AL) belonged to the Orioles (98 wins) and Yankees (96 wins).  The Yankees seemed even stronger than the championship unit of the previous season.  Tino Martinez started the year on fire and finished the campaign with a .296 average, 44 homers, and 141 RBI.  That was one hell of a season.  Bernie Williams and Paul O’Neill hit .328 and .324, respectively, and both clubbed 21 homers.  Jeter hit .291 with 116 runs in his sophomore season and proved that his rookie season was no fluke.  Plus, this was the season when rumors swirled that he was dating an in-her-prime Mariah Carey.  While many of the college-age readers of BTB think of Mariah as the train wreck who shows up with too much cleavage at Rockefeller Center every holiday season or as the train wreck in Times Square on New Year’s Eve, Mariah 1997 was amazing.  Therefore, this was the season when Derek Jeter truly became “Derek Jeter”.

Meanwhile, in Cleveland, things had seemingly turned south after two dominant campaigns.  The Indians won only 86 games but did manage to win the mediocre AL Central in 1997.  They met the 96-win Yankees in the ALDS.  Even though the Yankees were the Wild Card, the Bombers were the clear favorites.  When the series got underway, the Yankees won Game 1 and lost Game 2 at The Stadium.  Then, the Yankees took Game 3 at the artist formerly known as Jacobs Field.  Games 4 and 5 were to be played in Cleveland as well, but the Yankees were sitting pretty with a 2-games-to-1 lead.  In Game 4 (on October 5, 1997), the Yankees’ Dwight Gooden (ugh, it never stops hurting to write those three words in a row) left in the 6th inning with a 2-1 lead.  Heading into the Bottom of the 8th, the Yankees maintained that lead.  With 1 out in the inning, Mariano Rivera entered the game.  Rivera had created a reputation as a great setup man for John Wetteland in the 1996 World Series Championship run.  However, this was his first playoff series as the closer.  Sure enough, Sandy Alomar Jr. hit a game-tying homerun off Rivera in the Bottom of the 8th, and Rivera had his first blown save of his career.  The Indians would win the game in the Bottom of the 9th against Ramiro Mendoza, and they would win Game 5 the next night.  After dealing with gloating Yankees fans for a year following the 1996 championship, I was quite happy.

The Yankees and Indians ended up flipping scripts from 1996 to 1997.  In 1996, the Indians had the better record; they lost in the Division Series; and the Yankees won the World Series.  Then, in 1997, the Yankees had the better record; they lost in the Division Series; and the Indians went to the World Series (losing to the Marlins in extra innings in Game 7).

Image result for yankees indians 1997

Fast forward 10 years to another Yankees/Indians ALDS.  Needless to say, Mariano had gotten over the 1997 blown save and had dominated over the next nine postseasons.  In 2007, the Yankees entered their 13th consecutive postseason, having reached 6 World Series and won 4 championships over the first 12 appearances.  That said, the Yankees hadn’t reached the World Series since 2003 and hadn’t won a championship since 2000.  Furthermore, the Yankees had lost in the 2005 and 2006 ALDS to the Angels and Tigers, respectively.  On the other side, the Indians were in the playoffs for the first time since 2001.  In 2007, all four AL playoff teams (including the Red Sox and Angels) had won between 94 and 96 games, so the Indians and Yankees were roughly equals.  However, with the Yankees being the Wild Card, the Indians had homefield advantage.  The Yankees were led by Alex Rodriguez and his otherworldly .314 BA/54 homers/156 RBI stat line.  However, he had underperformed in his previous two ALDS and the 2004 ALCS, so he faced a lot of pressure entering the 2007 ALDS.

What happened in Game 1?  The Indians lit up Chien-Mien Wang for a 12-3 win, with CC Sabathia being the Indians’ pitcher of record.  A-Rod went 0-2 with 2 walks, for what it’s worth.  The next night was the big one though.  That is why I am writing this article.  On October 5, 2007; the Indians won Game 2 2-1 in 11 innings.  This game is memorable for the reason of Joba Chamberlain and midges.  Joba had burst onto the scene in 2007 and had thrown 24 innings with a 0.38 ERA in the regular season.  “Joba Rules” were in effect, as the Yankees limited his innings so that they could protect his arm for a potentially long and prosperous career as a starter.  Of course, this “long and prosperous career” didn’t pan out at all, but Yankees fans felt great when Joba entered that game in Cleveland in the 7th inning with a 1-0 lead.  They continued to feel great after Joba pitched well in the 7th.  However, Yankees fans could not have expected what would await Joba in the 8th inning.  A huge swarm of midges came in off Lake Erie and threw Joba off his game.  Joba allowed the Indians to tie the game, and the Indians would win it in the 9th inning.  While the Yankees ultimately won Game 3 at Yankee Stadium, the Indians won Game 4 there to clinch the series.  The Yankees went home; Joba’s career went downhill; and the Indians went on to lose to the Red Sox in 7 in the ALCS.

Moral of the story: on October 5, _ _ _ 7: Big things always happen for the Indians against the Yankees.  Let’s see what happens tonight.

This Post is Long, but Baseball Needs to Shorten Its Season and Change Its Playoff Structure

Last week, I wrote about a “short” column about an easy baseball fix with which all fans should agree.  This post is going to be different.  I am going to propose two more drastic changes to baseball.  These changes are likely to be more controversial than simply limiting the number of relievers per game, and this post is guaranteed to be much longer than last week’s.  Let’s dive right in:

Change #1: The MLB season should be cut to 144 games.

There is only one good reason to have a 162-game season.  That reason is, “We have no playoffs, just a World Series.  Therefore, we want a big enough sample size to ensure that the best AL team and the best NL team make the World Series.”  That reason did exist from 1961 through 1968.  I will add that, prior to 1961, there were also no playoffs, just a World Series; but the season was 154 games long.  Frankly, I would personally love to eliminate divisions and return to the 1961-1968 “162 games, no playoffs” format, but I realize that this country is no longer equipped to handle a scenario in which half the league is eliminated from World Series contention by Memorial Day.  Therefore, I am not proposing that.  Moving on… Continue reading This Post is Long, but Baseball Needs to Shorten Its Season and Change Its Playoff Structure

An Easy Fix That All Baseball Fans Should Agree On

Everyone knows that Judd Apatow’s movies are always 15 minutes too long.  Similarly, you loyal readers of BTB probably realize that my posts are always 2-3 paragraphs too long.  I am going to try to compensate for that with a quick little post about an easy fix to something all baseball fans hate.

Every baseball fan hates the expanded September rosters.  Nobody wants to see a 6-5 9-inning game with 16 total pitchers used.  You shouldn’t be able to drive from North Jersey to Montreal over the length of a 9-inning game.  The signature moment of the 2016 Mets season was a walkoff homerun by Asdrubal Cabrera.…but that was still the end of a 9-8 11-inning victory in which 19 pitchers were used!  The game lasted 4.5 hours, the last three of which occurred during Jacoby Brissett’s first NFL win (27-0 shutout over Houston).  Therefore, the signature moment of the Mets’ 2016 season occurred well after many fans had tuned out.

I have heard smart people like Howie Rose and influential people like Mike Francesa come up with clever solutions.  Howie has suggested that teams continue to be able to expand to 40-man rosters in September, with the caveat that teams can only “dress” 25 players per game.  Francesa says that teams should be able to have a 30-man roster all year, with 25 people “dressing” each game.  This all sounds well and good, but there is one major flaw.  In both situations, teams will not dress starting pitchers unless they are starting that night.  For example, in a mythical world where the Mets’ five young starters are healthy and dominating; if it’s deGrom’s night to pitch, the team would deactivate Syndergaard, Harvey, Matz, and Wheeler.  Since NL teams typically carry 7 relievers while AL teams typically carry 8, this loophole would essentially cause NL teams to have 11 active relievers and AL teams to have 12.  Problem not solved.  Joe Girardi and Terry Collins would definitely try to use a double-digit number of relievers every night.  What a nightmare.

Therefore, the best solution is this.  No team should be able to use more than 7 pitchers in a 9-inning game.  If you make that change, all the other proposals are rendered unnecessary.  Really, an MLB team should be able to get through every game with no more than 5 pitchers, so I’m being nice.  I know that purists hate rule changes, but purists also long for the days where starters usually went 9, while relievers pitched until they were no longer effective.  Non-purists are fine with rule changes.  Everyone should like this change. Plus, by capping a team at 7 pitchers per 9-inning game, managers would be forced to try to stick it out with pitchers a little longer.  Managers would want to “keep pitching changes in their pocket” for later in the game when the biggest at-bats arise.

Let’s do it, Rob Manfred.  Save these overthinking managers from themselves and cap teams at 7 pitchers per 9-inning game.

Brain Dump: NFL Popularity – Supply, Demand, and What the Common Fan Cares About

This is going to be a bit of a brain dump, so please bear with me.

Over the past few years, the “NFL is on the way down” train has been building up steam in some circles.  However, I just don’t see it.  For me and for the people with whom I associate, the NFL is every bit as wondrous as it has ever been.

I was very excited for this past weekend, the first weekend of the NFL season.  I was just as excited as I was for every season dating back to the early ‘90s, when I was in elementary school.  Why do I get so excited?  It is basic supply and demand. Continue reading Brain Dump: NFL Popularity – Supply, Demand, and What the Common Fan Cares About

This Day in Sports History: A 17-Inning Classic

Because I was on vacation from August 16 through the 24th, I missed a very important “This Date in Sports History”, so I am going to observe the 17-year anniversary of this great game today.

It was Wednesday, August 16, 2000, when I attended the longest baseball game I have ever attended – a 17-inning classic between the Newark Bears and the Somerset Patriots at Commerce Bank Ballpark in Bridgewater, New Jersey.  Baseball historians should put this game in any “Top 4 Baseball Games of All Time” list, right there with Mets/Astros Game 6 in 1986, Braves/Twins Game 7 in 1991, and Yankees/DBacks Game 7 in 2001.  You all know the story of this legendary game just off I-287, so I am going to focus more on the backstory involving two of my closest friends and me.

My friends Jen and Dave graduated Midland Park High School with me on June 23, 2000.  The summer to follow would be a short one, as we were to start college in late August.  Therefore, we were very busy all summer long (Kid Rock) as we tried to cram in as many “Last time we will ever do/see _____________” moments as we could, not realizing that we could actually do all that same stuff during college breaks.  That summer; Jen, Dave, and I had different jobs, with Jen’s being a teller at Commerce Bank.  (I would later become a seasonal teller at six different branches in a three-year stretch.  I got passed around so many times that I was essentially the LaTroy Hawkins of Commerce Bank.)  At some point early in the summer, she learned that the Somerset Patriots played in a stadium named “Commerce Bank Ballpark”.  Naturally, she really wanted to go to a game there.  Naturally, when she asked Dave and me if we would want to go, we said, “Yes”.

The game we chose to attend took place a scant five days before I would leave for college.  By this date; like presumably most of my high-school classmates, I had already entered my “I’m scared to leave the only friends I’ve known for 13 years, but I’m going to act like I’m not nervous at all” phase of summer.  During the afternoon of this fateful day, I completed my first 13-mile run, the second-biggest accomplishment of that day for me.  Many of you know that I don’t carry water when I run.  However, on this run, I did stop 8 miles in for water.  I cupped several handfuls of water into my mouth from the pond/lake on Pulis Avenue just down the hill from the Wyckoff Avenue intersection.  You would think I have gone smarter as I have aged, but I did a 10-mile run in the Hamptons in February, and I ended up eating two handfuls of ground snow 6 miles in.  Both times, the H2O managed to give me the boost I needed for the remainder of the run, without giving me diseases….but I digress.

Continue reading This Day in Sports History: A 17-Inning Classic