It’s been a few days since the Giants swept the Tigers in dramatic fashion, and I’m not sure what more I have to add to the conversation at this point. The Tigers hit that lull in the schedule while they waited for the Cardinals’ demise and never found their bats again. Now, I’m sure a big part of that has to do with the Giants pitching staff. I noted before the playoffs started that they had the staff to win the whole thing. Just as when they won in 2010. Also just as when they won in 2010, their offense didn’t click until October. Which, I suppose, if you’re going to have one month to get hot at the plate, October would be the month to do it. Still, great pitching or not, I’m sure that long break didn’t help anything. Congrats, San Francisco. Maybe one of these days you’ll get to celebrate the clincher in person.
Now, as to what’s got me a little bugged today. The Patriots beat the crap out of the Rams in London on Sunday. That was expected enough. But now comes all the buzz about how London is ripe for an NFL team and how the league and it’s owners want this to happen so badly. I’m sure the league does want that to happen, otherwise there would be no buzz at all. And, well, that’s the problem. The idea is just ridiculous.
First off, read this Grantland piece, written by a Londoner to boot. I don’t know how much clearly you want to see that, sure, crowds turn out for a game a year. They may turn out for two games a year.* But that has a lot more to do with curiosity than any sort of real demand for the game. It has not taken root at all in the proverbial “hearts and minds.” It sounds like the NFL in the UK has roughly the same following (likely smaller) than the EPL has here.
*Emphasis on “may.”
And that’s just talking about fan interest in the game. That’s not even getting into logistics. It was pointed out in the Grantland article and in yesterday’s MMQB by Peter King that teams on the east coast don’t have go much further to London than they do to the west coast. Which would be the perfect argument if, you know, all the teams were on the east coast. As is highlighted in the same argument, though, most teams are not on the east coast. If that were the case, you wouldn’t have to argue that the Patriots or Jaguars have to fly to Seattle or San Francisco. Or to point out that those trips by themselves* are further than Green Bay will travel all year. The NFL is spread throughout the whole nation.
*Just to clarify, one cross-country trip or one trans-Atlantic trip, not both trips combined.
So, sure, the teams that are closest to the UK don’t have to go all that far to London. That’s great for them. What about teams in the midwest, southwest, or God forbid, west coast? The whole argument that it’s about as far from Jacksonville to San Francisco as it is to Jacksonville to London just highlights that currently the longest trips in the NFL are comparable to the shortest possible trips to London. Really, all you’re arguing is that the logistics don’t work. This is exactly the same kind of argument you would expect in a political debate. Take the negative and attempt to frame it in a manner that seems positive at first glance. But it’s a wart for a reason. It doesn’t take much digging to figure out where the holes are.
If the Chargers had to play this hypothetical London team in Wembley,* they would be ponying up for a sixteen hour flight. Not to mention the entirely different timezone London is in than the west coast. Remember just a year to two ago when people were opining about how hard it was for west coast teams to win on trips to the Eastern time zone? There’s still debate over how real this is, as you can see from that link. But, still, can you imagine teams flying for over half a day, and then having to play at a ridiculous time? Of course, the other option is to try to make London operate on our time. That means your usual one o’clock Eastern game game would kick off at five local time. That’s not too bad, right? Next slot is four o’clock. So, that would translate into eight local time. Late, but it’s about the time of the “national” games. And, well, I think you’re starting to see the problem. Want to play a prime time game in London? Buckle up, English sports fan, because the pregame show isn’t even going to start until about midnight. Let alone when they kick off. As the Grantland piece points out, the small number of hardcore British watch Monday Night Football* very early Tuesday morning. And goes on until just early Tuesday morning. So if you want to expose your London team to a “national” American audience, it would have to be on the road. After a minimum six and a half hour flight.
*Note the italics.
Another problem: we’ve just been looking at this through the lens of an American team getting to London. What about the European team? Teams want to complain about cross country trips, but they do those, what, two or three times a year? Every time London would play on the road, so roughly half their games, they’re looking at a minimum of six plus hours. Again, those would be the short trips. Try bouncing back a forth from that every week. Then you’re really going to have to start figuring in jet lag to your playoff picture.
Not coincidentally, this is the same issue I have the NHL putting teams in Europe. At least hockey has a very strong following in Europe. On the other hand, the NHL has a hard enough time putting North American teams on the ice. Would it be nice to see maybe the Stanley Cup winner play the KHL winner, and raise the KHL to a true major league status? Maybe. But that’s a post for another day. To just have a regular team trying to play a regular schedule with a damn ocean between you just doesn’t work. Maybe we can revisit it when we get the transporters from Star Trek.*
*It’s unfortunate that there isn’t a Scott on either CBS or FOX pregame shows. I was very ready to do a “Beam me up, Scotty!” line.
Anyway, I know this post will be going up late. I’m going to Purdue’s first exhibition game tonight. I would do a preview for them, but I’ll wait until I see it with my own eyes. But, to summarize my thoughts right now, I think Purdue is going to be a lot better than people realize. Yeah, the Boilers graduated three very good core seniors. But this should be a much more athletic and much bigger Purdue team than we’ve seen for the past several years. Maybe even moreso than the trio that mostly graduated in 2010. Now, does that mean they’ll actually be better at basketball? Maybe, maybe not. But the pedigrees are there. Read what Larry Clisby has to say and where these freshmen are coming from over here. And remember that Purdue has both their Johnsons returning. And also remember that Indiana was only a game or two better than Purdue in conference last year and are most likely way overrated because they’re IU and they have some sort of weird cult. Purdue just might be a dark horse in the Big Ten.
UPDATE: I hadn’t read TMQ before writing this post. He also made a pretty good point about the NFL in London. Or at least poked a pretty big hole in the “they’re demanding it” theory. “Wembley Stadium note: The gate was announced at 84,004, but it seems about 30,000 Brits came dressed as empty seats. The NFL may be wrong regarding the appeal of American football overseas.”