Frank Robinson passed away yesterday at the age of 83. Because his career overlapped the likes of Willie Mays and Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle – you get the idea – he is one of the most under-appreciated baseball players ever. He was traded to the Orioles from the Reds in one of the most lopsided trades ever; the Reds got in return for Robinson Milt Pappas (a serviceable starting pitcher), Jack Baldschun (a reliever whose best days were in the past) and Dick Simpson (his nickname was “Suitcase” because he was traded so frequently).
Rest in peace, Frank Robinson…
I suspect that I am going to be spending time this weekend doing something that most readers here will ignore. Nevertheless, I am planning to take some time to watch the inaugural week of the Alliance of American Football. In my area, there will be 3 games on the air on Saturday and Sunday; I am not going to watch the entirety of all 3 games, but I hope to tune in to see parts of all of them.
My interest here is not because I am a “football junkie” and need something to bring me down from my “Super Bowl high”. I am interested because this is a new entity that is approaching the game differently from the NFL and I want to see what it offers to the viewing public.
[Aside: It already offers itself up to the betting public. Las Vegas sportsbooks offer futures bets on the ultimate league champion and there are spreads and totals offered for this week’s opening games before anyone has seen any of the teams. If you like betting this week’s AAF games, you probably also enjoy scratch-off lottery tickets too.]
The AAF approaches football from a different business model and from a different entertainment model. Here are some differences:
- All players have the same contract; it does not matter if one is a QB or a defensive lineman. All contracts are 3-years and $250K.
- Players can earn incentives in each game. HOWEVER, the incentives are not given to individual players, they are given to team units. It is not clear how the units will share the incentives, so I guess that is up to the unit members?
- The AAF wants to present shorter games instead of the 3+ hour games put on by the NFL and the “almost-4-hour games” that have become commonplace in NCAA football. Their target is to offer a 2.5-hour game.
- The AAF will try to emphasize offense and scoring. According to reports, the league will “de-emphasize offensive holding”. That will be something I will be watching for this weekend; I want to know what they mean by “de-emphasize offensive holding” …
- The AAF will have a play clock of only 35 seconds (vice 40 seconds for the NFL). What that means is more plays/more action/more scoring chances.
- There are no kickoffs. The “receiving team” simply gets the ball at its own 25-yardline. For onside kicks, the kicking team gets the ball at its own 35 yardline and the situation is 4th and 10. If they convert that 4th down opportunity, they keep the ball; other wise the receiving team gets it wherever the play ended.
- There are no PATs either. Teams must go for 2-point conversions after every TD.
- There will be no “TV timeouts” during the games. It will be interesting to see how the AAF works the TV ads into its presentation.
- The overtime rule in the AAF is completely different – and I don’t think I like it very much. There is a single OT period; each team gets the ball first and goal at the opponent’s 10 yardline. If a team scores a TD, it must go for two. Each team gets the ball once. If the score is still tied at the end of the single OT, then it goes in the books as a tie.
I have checked my local listings and the Saturday night game will be telecast in CBS at 8:00 PM EST. On Sunday, there will be a game at 4:00 PM EST on CBS Sports Network and then another game on NFL Network at 8:00 PM EST. I was surprised to see that the AAF is going to be telecast on NFL Network; I have no idea what that portends for the future…
I mentioned above that the sportsbooks in Las Vegas have lines posted for AAF games already. I will NOT be participating in such activities for a while; I do not play lotteries. However, there are two hypotheses I have about AAF wagering that I will be “testing out” as I check the league results:
- If the AAF wants to emphasize offense and scoring, betting OVER should make sense early on as the lines adjust from “NFL-thinking” to “AAF-thinking”.
- The mandated 2-point conversions will produce scores that are uncommon in NFL and NCAA games. Three TDs in the NFL normally produce 21 points; a bettor can reliably think of things that way. In the AAF, three TDs can never produce 21 points and the range of scoreboard points from those three TDs can range from 18 to 24 points. That is a big deal…
Finally, here is a comment from Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times from a few weeks ago:
“Good in the paint, too:
“The Academy of Art basketball team is only 1-7, but you’d have to assume the Knights are adept at drawing charges.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………