Joe Garagiola died yesterday at the age of 90. I recall having his baseball card as a kid. What I remember a lot more than that are the times he provided entertainment as the color commentator on MLB’s Game of the Week back when all you got to see on TV was your local team and one national game each week. Many folks today think of Vin Scully as a single operator in a broadcast booth; that was not always the case. Joe Garagiola was his partner on those national telecasts.
RIP, Joe Garagiola.
At their annual spring meeting, the NFL owners approved 9 rule changes for 2016. Many of them are approved on a 1-year trial basis and will need to be revisited next year. Here is a brief summary:
1. Moving the snap-point to the 15-yardline on extra point tries was a “1-year rule” last year. This year, the owners voted to make that permanent. I cannot imagine that any of the NFL kickers were thrilled by that decision.
2. Offensive and defensive play-callers can use the direct communication links to players on the field from up in the coaching box at the top of the stadium. Previously, only coaches on the sidelines had access to those links. On ESPN, Herm Edwards effused about what a big deal this is; I am not sure I understand his enthusiasm, but if he says it’s a big deal, I am happy to go along.
3. All chop blocks are illegal. That sounds like a rule change that is a plus for the defense and for player safety/longevity.
4. Two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in a game is an automatic ejection for a player. I will have to wait and see how this affects the officials’ calling of the game before I decide if this is a good idea or a bad idea.
5. Kickoffs into the end zone – or out the back of the end zone – will now come out to the 25 yardline. I am not sure if this discourages kickoff returns or encourages kicking teams to keep the ball in play…
6. The “horse-collar rule” has been expanded to include pulling the jersey from the neck to make the tackle. The basis of the original rule is that the play is dangerous. Therefore, it never really made sense to split hairs the way the old rule did. Consider this a good change.
7. If a team tries to call a timeout “when not permitted to do so”, this will be a delay of game violation. Other than being out of timeouts, what are any other circumstances involved here? I have to say that I do not recognize the problem this rule change tries to resolve.
8. Starting this year, if an eligible receiver goes out of bounds and then illegally touches a forward pass once back in-bounds, the penalty now will be loss of down and not a 5-yard penalty. This is another rule change that seems to favor the defense.
9. The rule for this year “eliminates the multiple spots of enforcement for a double foul after a change of possession.” I have to admit that this one is way too far down in the weeds for me…
So, now you know how much hard work those NFL owners put in when they make their way to an owners’ meeting in Boca Raton…
Let me stick with NFL items for today. Steelers’ WR, Martavious Bryant is facing a 1-year suspension; Ian Rappaport of NFLN says that the basis for the suspension is “substance abuse violations”; Bryant sat out 4 games in 2015. Later reports said that Bryant was “depressed” and others said that he was checking into rehab. There are enough uncertainties surrounding this matter to warrant postponement of judgment regarding the validity of the suspension. What is pretty certain at this moment is that the Steelers’ offense will need to replace a better than average WR for the 2016 season. In 11 games last year, Bryant caught 50 passes for 765 yards and 6 TDs.
The free agent QB market remains on hold at the moment. It appears that the Cleveland Browns’ decision is the fulcrum for this matter. The Browns have released Johnny Manziel and their roster now has Austin Davis, Josh McCown and Connor Shaw listed as QBs. McCown is 36 years old; he would almost certainly be the starter in this group of three, but no one can possibly consider him the Browns’ “QB of the Future”. Not even his mother …
The Browns continue to show interest in and talk with RG3. Griffin struggled in Washington behind a porous offensive line and could not stay healthy. Let me be polite here and say that with the losses the Browns have had along the OL in this offseason, the OL in Cleveland may not be as effective as the Maginot Line. But talks continue…
The Browns reportedly offered the Niners a 3rd round draft pick for Colin Kaepernick who let it be known he would “like to play for the Browns”. The Niners have held fast that they want a 2nd round pick for Kaepernick and that gulf between the bid price and the asked price has stood in the way of a deal for about a month now. Here is what I find much more interesting than the stalemate over what sort of a draft pick it might take to effect this transaction:
If Colin Kaepernick truly would “like to play for the Browns”, how much must he hate the Niners’ organization that he would want to leave it to join the Browns? It is either that or…
Colin Kaepernick has taken sufficient leave of his senses that he now qualifies as an intelligent turnip. Seriously, he would “like to play for the Browns” if there were other options?
It appears that once the Browns decide what they are going to do, the other teams looking for QBs this year [Broncos, Jets, Rams (?), Cowboys (?)] will be able to facilitate negotiations with one fewer buyer out there for agents to use as leverage.
Speaking of leverage, there are reports that the Jets were using contacts with RG3 as leverage in their negotiations with Ryan Fitzpatrick. Forget the factual basis for those reports for just a moment and imagine that the Jets sign RG3 and go to camp with a “QB battle” between Geno Smith and RG3. The NYC tabloids could not wish for a better situation….
Finally, amidst reports that NBA free agent, Nate Robinson, is considering trying to switch to the NFL, here are two comments from Brad Dickson of the Omaha World-Herald:
“NBA free agent Nate Robinson wants to try out for the NFL. Evidently, he’s never seen video of Michael Jordan swinging a baseball bat.”
“The NBA’s Nate Robinson is toying with trying out for the NFL. You know the major difference between the NBA and NFL? You’re more likely to be called for traveling in the NFL.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………