Category Archives: Sports

Life Becomes Easier When You Just Accept the Rebuild

It was a gloomy and gray Tuesday morning. I had to get up early to go to the DMV because Saturday they closed early on my ass when I was literally two people away. I had a three hour class and a full day of work right after. And to top it off, the Seahawks were embarrassed on Monday Night Football. Yet, on this day, and amongst all this, I found peace.

The score does not in any way indicate the way the Seahawks-Bears game went last night. They lost 24-17, with a less than 1% chance at tying it up in the last ten seconds if they recovered an onside kick. As a team, they had 276 total yards, but 99 of those came on the final drive when the Bears defense was in protect mode. They were 5 for 13 on 3rd down, lost 2 fumbles, threw a pick-six, and at one point were only averaging 2.9 yards per play. There was one time where I walked out of the room for a second right before first down, and by the time I came back they were already punting. But, as I said before, I have found peace.

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Image via UPI.com

The Seattle Seahawks are 0-2, with Dallas coming to them next week. They lost to the Broncos and the Bears, two teams with good defenses. The thing is, if you want to be a Super Bowl winning team, you have to beat teams with good defenses. That is not in the Seahawks destiny this year though, and now that I have come to realize that, I have found peace. I’ve said it three times now, so I’ll explain.

I’ve officially accepted the Seahawks run as a contender is over. It’s a hard reality to face, and one you don’t truly believe until it actually happens to you. I compare it to being on the receiving end of a dad-bod. You’re young, you workout a few times a week, but let’s be honest, you drink a lot of beer and McDonalds tastes so good. For a while, you’re in denial. The v-shape starts to fade away underneath a plump circle that is now your stomach. You think “Nah, I’ll just go for a run tomorrow and I’ll be back in shape in no time”. Similarly, the Seahawks thought, “We’ll sign average linebacker Barkevious Mingo and we’ll be back in contention, even though we lost Kam Chancellor, Michael Bennett, and Richard Sherman!”. Friends, it doesn’t work like that. Life doesn’t work like that. In football, and in dad-bods, there is a point of no return. One day you’ll look in the mirror and you’ll say to yourself “I think I’ve peaked”. The Seahawks have reached that point, and if this paragraph sounds a little familiar, you might have too. It’s better to just accept it. Once you embrace your current fate, life becomes a whole lot simpler. And you find your peace.

Look how happy Clayton Kershaw is

You see so many fans who get frustrated over every loss because on the surface they think their team has a chance to play on that Sunday in February, but deep down they know it’s over. When you wholeheartedly come to terms that your team is mediocre at best, everything around you opens up. The sun comes up, the grass gets greener, people get kinder. The games become easier to watch, and your Mondays through Saturday aren’t filled with “what ifs” and getting angry at Colin Cowherd for insulting your team’s “pitiful” performance.

This isn’t an overreaction to an 0-2 start, trust me. If the Seahawks of three years ago started 0-2, I probably wouldn’t even be panicking. They had an abundance of talent and usually found a way to figure it out. But this year, you can just see it. There’s a lot of young players who don’t really understand the flow of an NFL game, or what to do when they are forced to adjust on the fly. Beyond them, the veteran talent really isn’t there. They have the makeup of an average to below average team. And you know what, that’s okay. We had our reign at the top, it’s time for somebody else.

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Image via OregonLive.com

The frustrating part is when the team you know can’t compete does not just rebuild already. I would love nothing more than to see the Seahawks tank this year, get a top pick and impact player, and explode back onto the scene in two or three years before Russell Wilson leaves his prime. I pray Pete Carroll is thinking the same way, but it also gets me nervous because he might be trying to squeeze the last bit of success out of his former championship window so when he is done coaching after the 2019 season, he’ll retire knowing he at least gave it his all. I don’t think many coaches plan to start a rebuild at 67 years old, and I think it’s a reason Earl Thomas is still in a Seahawks uniform.

He believes in his team more than he should, which I respect. If the Seahawks turn it around this year, please, shove this article in my face forever. I’ll be glad to take the beating. But, it’s gonna be really annoying to see them try to capture the magic they’ve lost when they could bite the bullet now and find their way sooner than later.

A little advice from a hardcore fan, just press “Go” on the rebuild button. It’s green, it’s big, and it’s wrapped with a 5th overall pick in 2019 and a 12th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft (on top of the Cowboy’s picks when we finally trade Earl Thomas there). It’s a beautiful thing, and I’ll take hope for the future as opposed to dismay in the present any day. Delayed gratification is a beautiful thing, let’s get this thing started.

Are You a Bad Fan for Rooting for an Opposing Team’s No-Hitter When It’s Already Happening?

So I’d like to enter into an embrace debate with the BTB readers for this post. Earlier this month, I attended a Yankees vs. Red Sox game at the always Yankee-friendly Fenway Pawk. There was constant calking from the loyal Red Sox fans, who told me on multiple occasions (I was wearing a Judge BP top) that I sucked, was worthless, and that I should take a seat. I should note, I was never standing when they told me to sit down, but as Mr. Walker would say, I digress.

Through all that, there was a game going on. A game where Rick Porcello, pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, threw a complete game one-hitter. While his no-hitter effort was spoiled early in the game due to a Miguel Andjuar home run, nobody else (obviously) got a hit the rest of the time. He was dominant, and the Red Sox won 4-1.

His performance got me thinking. In the 9th inning, when it seemed inevitable the Yankees were going to lose the game, I said to myself, “I kinda wish Andjuar didn’t get a hit so I could have seen a no-hitter in person”. Immediately, I retracted that statement in my mind with the thought that I should feel guilty for wishing negativity on my favorite team. Since then, I’ve battled back and forth with my thoughts.

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So, the reason I come to you all is to try and figure out if I’m a bad fan or not. If you’re in the presence of a potential opposing pitcher no-hitter, do you root for that to happen?  Let it be noted, the chances of seeing a no-hitter in person, according to the Chicago Tribune and ESPN, is 1 in 806, or .00124069%.

Here’s my view, and tell me if I’m wrong:

We go to baseball games to see something incredible happen. Most times, we go with the thought of that incredible moment happening for our team. Playoff tickets, and not that this is any news but it pushes forth the argument, are so heavily desired because history could happen before your very eyes. You could be at the game where Jeter becomes Mr. November. You could be at the game where the Red Sox complete the greatest comeback in baseball history. You could watch Madison Bumgarner come out of the bullpen to close out Game 7 and compile a 3-0 record in a single World Series. My mom and uncle were at the Bill Buckner game. History happens, and if you’re there to see it, you feel a part of it. If somebody were to ask us what we want to see when we go to baseball games, the only proper response I can think of is this:

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Now obviously, expectations are rarely heightened for your average regular season game. At best, you realistically expect and hope for your team to walk away with a solid win and maybe you see a couple home runs, have a few beers, and get home safe. But when you have an opportunity for “something amazing” to actually happen, to literally witness history, even if it means going against your team for one night, I take that 10/10.

It’s selfish, and it puts your role as a fan of the game above a fan of the team, but when I look back on my life as a baseball fan, I’m 100% going to wish Miguel Andujar did not put that ball 60 feet over the Green Monster and I got to see Rick Porcello throw a no-hitter. I’ll see plenty of more Yankee wins in my life, and probably see Rick Porcello get shelled the next time he plays against them, but if for one night I could put a once-in-a-lifetime moment into my Hall of Fame Memory Bank, I’ll gladly tip my cap to him and root for it…once the game is out of reach.

Nobody Cares About Pitchers’ Wins Anymore, So Let’s Make a Change

The quickest way to get me to “check out” of an intelligent baseball conversation is to discuss a modern-day pitcher’s win-loss record as a major factor in how good the pitcher is.  In an era in which good pitchers routinely exit games with a third or more of the game left to play, pitchers simply do not earn enough decisions to make the “wins” statistic pertinent. 

Given that most baseball fans place little relevance on the “wins” statistic, we might as well try to improve the stat, and I have one good way to do this.  The official scorer of a game should be given discretion to award a win to a starting pitcher any time that both of these criteria are met: a) His team has won the game.  (Obviously)  b) He has pitched at least five innings.

You might be wondering, “Nice work, Mike.  It has been that way since Doubleday invented the sport.”

True, but I have removed the third criterion, that which requires a pitcher to be the most recent guy on his team to have thrown a pitch as of the moment his team takes the lead.  This is my big change.  This rule is an anachronism.  It was created in the 1800s when pitchers routinely pitched complete games.  Additionally, it was not until the late 1980s and early 1990s that managers started to remove pitchers who were pitching well.  Before that time, managers did not worry about pitch counts or fatigue.  If the pitcher was effective, he was remaining in the game. 

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As a result, there were relatively few cases in which a pitcher would pitch very well but not receive a decision.  In modern baseball, it is commonplace for a pitcher to exit a game in the 6th or 7th inning while clinging to a 2-1 or 3-1 lead or losing 2-1 or 3-1.  Of course, this means that bullpens have 3 or 4 innings to blow that 2-1 lead or 3-1 lead.  It also means that bullpens have 3 or 4 innings to keep deficits within 2 runs.  In either of these cases; if a team takes the lead to stay while a reliever is in the game for this team, which pitcher is most responsible for the team’s victory?  More often than not, it is the starting pitcher. 

Why not allow the starting pitcher to earn the victory in any case where he is the pitcher most responsible for the team’s win?  Let the statistic measure what it is supposed to measure.  If a bullpen coughs up a lead, but that teams wins anyway; why should the mediocre reliever earn the win?  By the same token, if three relievers pitch one shutout inning apiece to keep their team down 3-1, it seems to me that the guy who threw 6 innings of 3-run ball should earn the win if his team comes back in the end.  In fact, Jacob deGrom gave us a textbook example of my philosophy on Friday night against the Rays.  He pitched 8 innings of 1-run ball, left with the game tied at 1, and watched as Jose Bautista’s walk-off grand slam in the 9th inning gave the Mets a 5-1 win.  Jeurys Familia pitched 1 inning that night and earned the win, but that should be deGrom’s win.  Jacob was the pitcher most responsible for the Mets’ win, so he should receive credit for it.

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Of course, this is not my first time recommending a change to baseball.  Therefore, I know there is sometimes disdain for me trying to change things in a sport with many purists.  Therefore, I have two additional points before the angry mob comes for me:

1)     If you are worried that this change will inflate “Wins” numbers compared to guys’ totals in the past, stop trying to make intergenerational comparisons.  The pitchers from olden days will always be better than the modern-day guys because the past guys threw so many more innings.  With all the bullpen decisions that these current starters render, plenty of these games will become losses.  Therefore, the “Wins” totals from olden days will continue to stay well above the modern-day totals.  Remember that the modern-day pitcher also forgoes more wins than olden-day pitchers did to both injuries and sub-5-inning starts.

2)     If you do not like that the official scorer has discretion, be aware that he/she already has some.  The official scorer is, in fact, allowed to award a win to a relief pitcher who said scorer thinks has contributed more to the victory than the guy who was on the mound when his team took the lead.  The only caveat is that it is that the scorer must hand the win to a reliever, not a starter.  Perfect example: June 30, 2000: Second-best Mets game that I ever attended.  Mike Piazza capped the Mets’ 10-run 8th inning with a go-ahead homerun.  The official scorer gave the win to Armando Benitez, who came in for the 9th inning, as opposed to Eric Cammack, who was on the mound to finish the Top of the 8th.

 

Thus, official scorers already have some discretion.  I think it makes sense to give them a little bit more.  This would not make “Wins” a perfect stat for discussing pitchers’ greatness, but it would at least move the stat in the right direction.

Six Basic Rules for Calling Mike Francesa

As you New York sports fans know, the legendary Mike Francesa returned to WFAN in May.  I have actually found him to be much more delightful to hear in this second go-round than during the last few years of his first WFAN stint (which ended in December).  I think that the 5 months off gave him time to recharge and become a happier human.  Plus, as I have mentioned in the past, I think that 5.5 hours, which Francesa used to do, for one host is a ridiculous amount of time.  Now that he has to deal with only 3.5 hours, I think he is much saner and thus more enjoyable.

At the same time, it remains a valid expectation that any guy who calls his show will feel worse about himself after the phone call.  I know that I lack the spheres to call his show, but I do feel I have enough experience as a listener to provide advice to those who do wish to call his show.  Before I unveil these six pieces of advice, allow me to warn you all of the following.  There are three general ways in which Mike Francesa will respond to callers:

1)     The “You Are Lower Than Dirt” response: Mike will not even give your thought the time of the day, because it is the dumbest thing he has ever heard (or at least the dumbest thing he has ever heard since the last dumbest thing he has ever heard – which likely happened 15 minutes prior).  Mike will either hang up on you, mutter to Monz something along the lines of “Can you believe he waited on the line for an hour to say that?”, or keep you on the line for 15 minutes so that he can ridicule you with follow-up questions, each of which is more hostile than the previous.  Sometimes, these Francesan responses are warranted, such as when he responded to a caller predicting a Jets/Patriots tie for that night’s game (Pats actually won 45-3).  Sometimes, it is not – such as if a caller suggests making the Wild-Card Playoff a Best-of-3.  Mind you, Francesa and I both dislike this “Best of 3” idea.  However, it is not a cockamamie idea, and the premise of the show is to fill 3.5 hours with sports talk.  Thus, it seems silly to me to belittle a caller with such an idea.  Francesa feels the opposite of me in that respect.

2)     The “One Upper” response: Once in a while, a caller will actually make a smart comment that Francesa has never said.  Therefore, Francesa’s ego will require that he takes the comment a step farther so that he can take ownership of the quote.  He is the sports-talk equivalent of the great Kristen Wiig character, Penelope.  For example, if you call and say, “Mike, I think Bernie Williams was the most underrated Yankee of the past 30 years, because he didn’t last long enough to be part of the Core Four”, he might actually like your thought.  However, he wants to receive credit for the thought, so, within a minute, it is entirely possible that there is now a “Core Five” including Bernie.  All Francesa’s idea.  (Quick Note: It is my actual belief that Bernie is underrated for the very reason that I have stated.)

3)     The “I’m Gonna Zig When You Think I’m Gonna Zag” response: This is the one that must drive callers the most nuts.  Sometimes, Francesa will span 5 callers making the same response, waiting for callers to accept his idea.  Then, once a caller (say, Caller 6) finally accepts Francesa’s response, Mike flips the script and argues the other side.  For example, it is widely-known that Francesa wishes the Yankees had not traded for Giancarlo Stanton.  (Side note: this is probably partially because he spent his last month at WFAN in the fall stating that the Yankees would never get Stanton.)  Thus, it is possible for this scenario to unfold: 5 callers make their case that the Yankees would be better with Stanton, and Mike refutes all of these callers.  Then, when the sixth caller says, “Mike, I don’t know what these guys are thinking.  The Yankees missed the World Series by one game without him and are just not the same now that he’s here.”, I fully expect Francesa to say, “Come on now, these callers have good points.  The guy is a former MVP and homerun champion.  Of course, there’s a place for him on this Yankees team.  The team has already won a million games with him this year.”  Great stuff!

OK, enough preamble.  Now, for the main event.  Here are my six pieces of advice for calling the great Mike Francesa.

1)     Do not ask multiple questions.  His brain is not capable of handling two questions.  Never in all my years listening to his show have I heard him successfully answer multiple questions from the same caller.  Therefore, if you ask two questions, either a) he will answer only your second question (tough luck if your first question was better) or b) morph the two questions into one ridiculously silly question that you would never in a million years ask.  For example, if you ask him who the Yankees should target at the trade deadline and also ask him how he thinks the Cowboys will do in 2018, there is a decent chance you are getting a 5-minute lesson on why the Cowboys are not trading Ezekiel Elliott.

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2)     Have a woman call for you.  Quick note: If you are a woman, you may call for yourself.  OK, now that we have cleared that up, let me cut to the chase.  Anyone who says that chivalry is dead should listen to Francesa.  He is a million times kinder to ladies than he is to men.  If you want to suggest that the Mets should trade the Yankees Jacob deGrom for Ronald Torreyes, Francesa’s response will make you never want to leave your house again (if you are a man).  However, if you let a woman call, he will actually analyze the deal rationally and respectfully before nevertheless acknowledging that the Mets would never in a million years do the trade.

3)     Do not ask for a prediction.  This goes for anything – a game, a series, or a championship.  Mike will make predictions only when he chooses to do so.  If you try to force a prediction on him, he will become as angrily flustered as a kindergartener trying to do long division.  This especially goes for single baseball games, and Mike does have a point.  The results of single baseball games are too random for accurate predicting.  That said, if you try to elicit a prediction, you might get a classic “You’re asking me to make a prediction?  Honestly, I haven’t thought about it yet.  I really haven’t” rant in which he repeats those same three sentences for three minutes.  However, sometimes you do get lucky, and, in said rant, he actually makes a prediction.  “Honestly, I haven’t thought about it.  I really haven’t.  I mean, I like CC’s chances going up against a Blue Jays lineup that hasn’t hit lately, but I can’t make a prediction.  I haven’t thought enough about it.  Do I think the Yankees will win tonight?  Yes I do.  I am confident that they will win handily, but I just haven’t thought about the game.  I can’t predict what is going to happen in one game.”  That is a Francesan response right there.

4)     Do not ask him trivia.  I really could have merged #3 and #4, but I chose to drag things out to please our esteemed BTB advertisers.  That said, I advise Francesa’s callers to stay on the straight and narrow.  Mike always wants you to ask questions only about the specific topic he is discussing.  If you ask him trivia, he will show you utter disdain, and his response will be the same as in #3 but in regard to trivia, not a prediction.  That does mean though that you could get 5 minutes of him guessing answers while simultaneously saying he is not going to answer the question.  Classic.

 Image result for mike francesa trivia

5)     Do not ask him hypothetical questions.  Again with the simple brain thing.  The other day, I heard someone call him up and ask if he would give up Gleyber Torres in a trade if it were a given that the Yankees would win the 2018 World Series.  For any other show, that is a smart call.  Do you take the guaranteed championship this year while giving up a potential perennial All-Star, a guy who could likely you bring you multiple championships anyway?  It is a great conversation piece, but Mike’s brain cannot handle that stuff.*  As a result, he answered the call by saying repeatedly that you can never guarantee that any move will bring a championship.  Thanks, Mike.  Glad you’re here.

*Note: When Mike interviews a guest whom he greatly respects (Jim Nantz, Bill Simmons, Troy Aikman – for example), his brain can handle anything.  Mike is actually quite smart, but he is selective about when he turns on his brain.  If Bill Simmons were to ask Mike the Gleyber question, Francesa would likely reply, “That is a great question, Bill.  It really is a great question.  I’d take the trade though.  Even the Yankees have to pick the guaranteed championship over the prospect of several others.  You have to take the free title.  You have to do it.”  Remember though: if you, the random caller, asks this question, you are getting the stupid answer from the previous paragraph.

6)     Under no circumstances should you ask him about hockey.  Obviously, in the regular season, he will go to the next call immediately.  In the playoffs, you will get the most basic of hockey clichés.  Yes, it is annoying that true hockey analysts speak mainly in clichés, but I like to know that the clichés are coming from a person who knows hockey, not from a guy in Francesa who speaks occasionally to Ed Olczyk and Pierre McGuire.  When the Rangers are in the playoffs (Joyously, this occurrence did not come to pass in 2018), expect Mike to say “Rangers need to show more passion”, “Rangers need to score more”, or “Lundqvist needs to make some big stops”.  That is all.  Tremendous insight.

This ends my tutorial on how to call Mike Francesa.  No, I will not be the one calling his show.  I remain a “no time, long time” listener to sports radio.  If I ever do garner the courage to call a show, I will definitely call Joe and Evan.  They are the best combination of sports knowledge and personality on New York sports radio.  I would have to be several calls deep into my career before I call Francesa, but, if I ever do, I will make sure to follow these six rules.

The Twitter Account All Baseball Fans Needs to Follow

If you’re a sane person and enjoy baseball, there’s an account Twitter that I consider the best one on social media. Behold…Pitching Ninja.

It’s the one account on Twitter, with the exception of maybe Bleacher Report and a few influencers, that I actually look forward to seeing content from. The founder, Rob Friedman, puts together incredible gifs (pronounce it however you may) of pitchers being absolutely filthy.

Example A:

Example B:

Example C:

From individual pitches to overlays to mentality on the mound and through training, Pitching Ninja gives you really unique insight on baseball’s greatest art that you typically don’t see on any other sports accounts. It really is mesmerizing stuff, and allows you to appreciate the wonders of baseball. Throughout the years, I’ve legitimately learned a lot just by watching these 6 second clips, and I highly recommend shooting it a follow if you love America’s past time.

Wrapping Up April

During my many months at “Below the Belt Sports”, I have managed to write long posts about the NHL points system, reasons why MLB should have an earlier trade deadline, and my dislike for preseason football.  Based on this, you are probably shocked that I have managed to experience these past three weeks without writing several long posts.  Nope, I have actually written nothing in three weeks.  Granted, if these three weeks were in late February/early March or in August, you could understand my inactivity.  However, these past three weeks have seen an NFL Draft in which both locals picked in the Top 3, Mike Francesa coming out of retirement, Matt Harvey being demoted to the bullpen, and the Devils playing and losing their first playoff series in six years.  (That is not to mention anything about the Yankees or NBA Playoffs, but I do not often touch upon those subjects.).  As for the four main topics that I missed, you are probably sick and tired of hearing of three of the four.  That said, you are loyal readers of my posts, and the five of you deserve to know what I think about these matters.  Therefore, here are my quick thoughts on each of the afore-mentioned topics.  You are welcome, Mom.

  • Mike Francesa’s return is as big a “d-bag” move as I have ever seen in the sports world, but I will listen to him anyway. Callers and guests spent a year and a half feting him for retirement, only for him to return four months after retirement.

Mike Francesa’s return has bumped “CMB” from 2-6:30 to 1-3.  That is a big step back for Carlin, Maggie, and Bart; and it is rather cruel to demote a show that has had a mere four months to grow.  Granted, I agree wholeheartedly with Chris Russo when he says that a) you should not have a new show with three hosts (Note: the successful three-host shows in the area evolved into having three hosts; they did not begin this way.), and b) you cannot have a sports talk-radio show in this area with someone who does not know baseball.  The latter describes Bart Scott.  Scott is great with football, but he does not know baseball….and WFAN’s shows talk Mets and Yankees from February to October and for plenty of the other three months too.

I actually love Maggie Gray.  I think she is fantastic.  She is an ideal Mets fan – she is very knowledgeable and falls perfectly on the Mets-fan spectrum between the annoying “sky is always falling” Mets fan and the less-often-seen “everyone on the Mets is awesome” Mets fan.  Plus, she is a Bills fan, which is a cool and unique dimension to add to football discussion.  Lastly, her voice is incredible.  I would actually watch golf if she were announcing it.

Meanwhile, Carlin too often interrupts callers before they have a chance to speak, and I do not like that he gives people silly nicknames when he answers calls.  That said, he is a Jersey guy who knows his sports.  He has done plenty of time on WFAN, and he is a good fit for New York sports radio.  He has plenty of the Francesa arrogance, but fortunately without the complete misery Francesa sometimes shows…

…but Francesa’s back.  As I have said, it is a total d-bag move.  However, I get why he did it.  He has a huge ego, and I think he assumed that people would be lining up to give him a lucrative contract.  He was wrong.  Apparently, there is not a large national market for a guy who hangs up angrily on 75% of his callers and who knows little about sports beyond the Mets, Yankees, NFL, horse racing, and college-basketball teams coached by his friends.  Thus, he is coming back to WFAN with his tail between his legs.

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It is going to be incredibly awkward in the beginning, and it is a d-bag move by WFAN to bring him back.  However, money talks.  I am going to listen to Francesa.  So will everyone else who has ever listened to him.  The awkwardness at the station will eventually fade away.  In fact, things will likely return to how they were in December.  Many people at WFAN could not stand him then; many people at WFAN will not be able to stand him now.

The truth is that I actually think his show will be better this time than it once was.  Francesa is the only person with a regularly scheduled solo talk show on WFAN or ESPN Radio New York. (Can you imagine anyone, post-Mad Dog, wanting to partner with such an egomaniac?)   Moreover, he hosted the longest show (5.5 hours) of any show on the two stations.  That is ridiculous.  Nobody should ever have a 5.5-hour show by himself.  That is insane!  It makes me understand Francesa’s crankiness a bit.  If I had to spend 5.5 hours in a row (OK, 3 hours minus commercials) answering the same questions about Matt Harvey over and over and over again, I might too lose my mind.  Therefore, having Francesa for only 3.5 hours as he is now scheduled should make him better.

Plus, he has realized where his bread is buttered – New York sports radio.  That is what he knows.  Even though he can be downright irascible on many occasions, he is the one person who can best sift through the bs with big topics. For years, he has been right about the big ideas with the Yankees, Mets, and NFL.  Additionally, he is the one person who can speak eloquently about controversial topics.

It is like he has an “a-hole switch” that he turns off when talking about touchy things.  In the months leading up to the 2016 election, he actually made some of the most cogent, non-extreme commentary on now-President Trump.  Similarly, Francesa is the only sports person I know who touched the Kaepernick issue, said the most important point of the saga, and generally avoided blowback: Protesting is fine, but you do not automatically have the right to do it when representing a large organization that signs your paycheck.  Had the NFL acknowledged Francesa’s logic early on, I think it could have better handled the whole issue, but I digress…

Francesa made a d-bag move.  He is taking a pay cut, but he is still going to make plenty of money off his d-bag move, and we are going to listen.  There are still times when he can be the voice of reason, even though he is often a jerk.  Meanwhile, Carlin has made no bones about his disdain for his former boss, and I applaud Carlin for admitting his disdain.  His reaction is human, and I think people appreciate his genuine emotion.  Maggie and Bart, who have much less history with WFAN, have taken the high road, and I commend them for that as well.  Maggie is delightful.  Have I mentioned that?  Hopefully, “CMB” become sympathetic figures, and hopefully this issue helps propel them to great radio futures.  As for Francesa, he made a d-bag move, but we are going to listen to him.  Moving on…

  • The NFL Draft happened. I am sure you heard about it.  Likewise, I am sure you know that I think it is time for the Giants to think about Eli’s replacement.  Actually, I am sure you are aware I thought we reached that time a few years ago.  That said, I have full faith in Dave Gettleman.  As I have advanced in age and now sit at the ripe old age of 36, I have grown to have a lesser appreciation for people who substitute clichés for reason and a greater appreciation for people who see through those clichés.  Well, after the draft, Jets GM Mike Maccagnan talked about how he likes all his draft picks, while Gettleman joked about the fact that every GM loves his own picks immediately after the draft.  Yes, it stinks to be a Jets fan.  I already loved Gettleman from his commentary on being offered hot dogs and bagels for the #2 pick but nothing more.  Now, his joking about “We love our draft” cliches put me over the top.  This guy gets it.  I would follow this guy over a cliff.  If Dave Gettleman believes that neither Darnold, Allen, nor Rosen is a franchise quarterback; I believe him.  It is time for Saquon to deliver Eli one more championship, and I greatly look forward to the Kyle Lauletta era from 2020 through 2039.

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One more draft thought.  It is annoying that people are mad at Josh Rosen for saying nine teams made a mistake by passing on him.  Rosen should absolutely feel that way.  Do you know who else is motivated by teams passing on them in the draft?  Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers.  How have things worked out for them?  People worry about Rosen being a rich kid who does not “need” football success.  First off, to me, that is silly logic.  If you really need the money, hate football, and are great at football; you are going to try to make it to the NFL.  However, if you do not need the money and are great at football, you will only try to make the NFL if you love football.  That said, if you cannot follow that logic, you should at least like seeing a guy motivated to dominate and stick it in the faces of the teams who did not draft him.  Great quarterbacks are always super-competitive.  Rosen seems to have this trait.

The people who have a problem with Rosen’s comments are likely the same people who lost their minds over Jay Feely’s prom tweet.  It is a joke, people.  I hate guns, and I will never be a gun owner….but funny is funny.

  • Matt Harvey is in the pen, and I love it! In fact, I wrote in the offseason that the Mets’ best path to success was to move Harvey and Wheeler to the pen and to sign someone like Jason Vargas.  I could not have been more correct.  The only things I messed up were that Wheeler is still in the rotation and has been decent, that Harvey has not yet done anything great as a reliever, and that Vargas’ Mets ERA is 22.09.  Everything else though has been spot-on.  Pardon me while I pat myself on the back.  Seriously though, I still think that Harvey has a chance to embrace the bullpen role, and I can envision him being a successful closer as the Mets make a 2018 World Series run.  I can see it happening!

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  • I am not going to write a post documenting the ins and outs of the Devils/Lightning playoff series. The better team (Lightning) won in 5 games, but it was delightful to attend two playoff games for the first time since 2012.  Hopefully, the Devils can build off this year’s playoff appearance to make a legitimate playoff run in 2019.

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The Top Five Hardest Positions in Sports

Obviously, anyone who is an athlete is going to have an argument that their position is the hardest. And they might have a few points here and there, as really no sport is “easy”. But if you’re going to tell me with a straight face that being a professional bowler is harder than trying to outrun 225 pound linebackers, then your opinion is invalid and you probably punt in Madden. You have to consider the likelihood of success, the necessary athleticism, the work that goes into being out there every day, and who your opponents are. With that said, here are the five hardest positions in sports.

5. Soccer Goalie

The thing about being a soccer goalie, which I can tell you from my four years of experience as a stud rec soccer goalie on an undefeated team, is that there is a lot of instincts involved. You have to know when to come out, when to stay, and even if you make the right decision, you can get a ball coming at your skull with the intention of taking you along with it into the goal. You also have a massive amount of space to defend (24 feet wide, 8 feet tall) when forwards and wings can be infinitely close to you. I mean, you’re telling me you, or anyone else, plans on stopping this?

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4. Baseball Pitcher

As some of you may know, I myself am a pitcher for Ramapo College baseball. And let me tell you, there are times when it’s physically impossible. Mechanics need to be perfect in order to have the ball go where you want to go, and even if you do everything perfect, the ball could still get absolutely creamed on by hitters. The reason why I don’t consider this to be higher on the list is some guys can pick up a baseball and throw 100 MPH with no problem, and they never have to put in the extreme amount of work other positions may have to. But, when your average guy is on the mound, the gif below describes perfectly what we, as pitchers, think is going to happen.

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3. Hockey Forward

The whole ice thing to me is just insane. Maybe it’s just because I don’t play hockey and can’t skate for more than seven seconds at a time without falling, but the fact that people can compete against each other at a high level on that terrain is unfathomable to me. Now you have to add in the ability to be able to stick handle, pass, and score on a goal that probably doesn’t have more than a foot (if you added up all the space) of open space to shoot at. I’ll get to goalies later…

2. Quarterback Football

Easily the position in all of sports with the most pressure, I don’t care what anyone says. Despite ability, if you are the quarterback for a team, you are automatically one of the faces of the franchise. You’ll never know the name of every back-up offensive lineman in football, but if I asked you who Brandon Weeden is, most of you would have a clue. Added to this pressure, you now have to guess where receivers will be down the field while dodging immensely large defensive ends and linebackers who wants to hurt you in every way known to man. Oh, and you have to know EVERY play in a playbook of 100+ plays, and tell everyone their assignment for 50+ times a game.

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1. Hockey Goalie

There was simply no doubt in my mind about this one. Let’s not forget that in addition to trying to stop 100+ MPH slap shots while another human, sometimes your own teammates, are entirely blocking your vision and have less than a second to react, they are also on ICE. ON ICE. LIKE DISNEY. Most people look like this on ice:

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But, now you have to stop guys, who train night in and night out for their whole life, from scoring on YOUR goal! You have to make sure nobody slips a 1-inch puck through your 5-hole. There is absolutely no harder position in all of sports than a goalie.

 

Maybe I left a few out, but these are the hardest in my humble, amateur opinion. Let me know what you think in the comments below.