A quick note before we get into today's discussion. First off, congrats to Francisco Liriano. Granted, if you're going to throw a no-no, the White Sox would be the team to do it against right now. But that's still a hell of an accomplishment. I don't think I've ever even thrown a no-hitter on a video game. So consider me suitably impressed. And my calendar informs me it's Miguel Cairo's birthday today. Happy birthday, Miguel. You were one of my dad's favorites when you were with the Cards.
I think I promised to talk about my gripes with football today. And, well, I don't have a better idea, so I guess that's what we're going to talk about. First, let's talk about problems (Can we call them quirks? No? Okay, fine.) with me that translate into me having problems with football. And when I say football, I generally mean the NFL for this writing. First thing, I hate rooting for a front-runner. I get bored with teams who are always good, which is probably why I'm only "eh" about the Colts, though they are pretty easily my favorite NFL team. It's no fun if you always win. That is also why I would consider myself a bigger Wabash basketball fan than I would a Wabash football fan. Even in a "terrible" year, Wabash is only going to lose four games and would be considered bowl-eligible if they were Division I. In basketball, Wabash is generally pretty good, but you can never (except the very bottom of the barrel) count on them to win a particular game. Is it maddening at times? Of course. You want to pull your hair out because they will beat or at least really push national championship contenders, but then look mediocre at best and drop a game to a middle-to-bottom of the conference team. But, it makes it fun. The unexpected makes it enthralling. Typically the student section is more entertaining for basketball, too, but this past year kind of dropped the ball on that. Least enthusiastic and just outright boring Wabash student section I've seen in the eight or nine years I've been going to games.
Problem two with me is I'm sure I'm more than a little bitter that I don't think baseball gets the attention it deserves compared to football. You hear football news year-round. I've griped on more than one occasion, including yesterday, about Mike & Mike doing this, though they are far from the only offenders. As annoyed as I am with this, I am more than willing to accept that this is little more than sour grapes, so I won't waste any more space with this.
The bigger issues here are my problems with football that don't necessarily spring from personality clashes. First off, this lockout highlights a few issues about how the money is split up. The signing bonuses for rookies (first rounders, anyway) has gotten entirely out of control. Reward them for their football career up to that point, sure, but there is no reason somebody who has yet to see a single NFL down has no business making more money than somebody who has been doing this for five years, even doing an average job. It's just a ridiculous way to run your business, and it seems that is one point where the players and the owners agree. Which is good, so this gripe will likely be short-lived. But, we're kicking the players out of the facilities because the owners don't make enough money? The NFL is a $10 billion dollar business. That is a lot of zeros. This many, in fact. $10,000,000,000. That's more than the GDP of 69 countries according to the World Bank. Of course, some franchises are doing better than others, but if you can't find a way to split up the entire output of Mozambique and keep everybody relatively happy, there's a problem.
Related to this, the NFL always wants more. Charging full-price for pre-season games ought to be criminal. Baseball doesn't do this with spring training, and the NBA doesn't do this with their pre-season. I guess I don't know about hockey, but I would be shocked if they charged full price. Yet, the NFL does, because the NFL is arrogant enough to think they can get away with it. And then wonder why those games don't sell as well. Or wonder why people grumble about having to buy those games as part of their season tickets. And, just to highlight the arrogance of the NFL, what is their solution to this problem? Let's make the last two pre-season games regular games! Yes, clearly the fans are telling us they want 18 games! Except no amount of research backs that up. Here is just one article discussing it. There are plenty more where that came from.
Related to the 18 game schedule, football gives plenty of lip service to safety, but there doesn't seem to be a lot of action on this front. There has been a lot of buzz lately about how bad playing football is on your brain due to repeated blows to the head and concussions. The NFL says its concerned, yet there hasn't been any action to try to mandate safer helmets, which are currently on the market. Not a panacea, but it sure wouldn't hurt.* And you may also recall that a few Eagles players had concussions this past year and went right back into the game. I want to watch a game, not a snuff film. And looking at how former players have been treated just makes me sick.
*You might make an argument about baseball and the S100 helmet. There is a modicum of truth here, but it's quite a stretch. For one, it is mandated in the minor leagues, and concussions in baseball are much, much rarer. It's awfully rare to see a batter get hit in the head, and when they do, it's unusual for a concussion to result. Not impossible, ask Edgar Gonzalez. But, yes, baseball players for the most part are able to avoid concussions. And when they happen, they get all the time they need before they're forced back into service.
So, to summarize, we have a game that doesn't care about its fans, although they shower it with money and ratings. Doesn't care about its players or their health. Doesn't care about its past players or their health. That pretty much covers everybody but the owners, who are crying about the money they make, and yet refuse to show any proof of this poverty they are forced to endure. Why am I jumping on whatever product they're selling?