RIP Gino Marchetti

Gino Marchetti passed away earlier this week at the age of 93.  Marchetti was a Hall of Fame defensive end who was on those Baltimore Colts teams in the 1950s that won two consecutive NFL championships – including the sudden death game in 1958.  Marchetti was a dominant “edge rusher” before that term was coined.

In addition, Marchetti and his teammate Alan Ameche founded a chain of fast food hamburger drive up restaurants called Gino’s.  Back then, you went to Gino’s to get this new-fangled dish known as Kentucky Fried Chicken – – before the Colonel found ways to open his own restaurants.  Gino’s was eventually bought out by Roy Rogers who in turn was bought out by McDonald’s.

Rest in peace, Gino Marchetti…

Last year, as the Miami Marlins were in the process of stripping its roster down to its bare bones, they traded Christian Yelich to the Milwaukee Brewers.  Yelich merely won the NL MVP last year leading the league with a .326 batting average and an OPS of 1.000.  In return the Marlins got Lewis Brinson and three other living beings.  It was always going to be difficult for the Marlins to come out even in this trade given Yelich’s MVP status last year, but things took a turn for the worse this week when Brinson was sent down to the minor leagues.  It was not a quick hook…

Like Yelich, Brinson played the outfield in the National League all last year.  Unlike Yelich, Brinson’s numbers were bad no matter how you look at them:

  • In 109 games last year, Brinson hit .199 and posted an OPS of .577.
  • He had 76 base hits and struck out 120 times in 2018.

The month of April 2019 was not a good one for Lewis Brinson.  Here are some of his numbers as he goes down to AAA New Orleans:

  • In 27 games this year, Brinson hit .197 and posted an OPS of .510.
  • He had 15 base hits and struck out 28 times in 2019.

Back when the trade was struck, some of the Marlins’ commentary compared Brinson to Ronald Acuña, Jr.  It surely looks as if Brinson is not going to live up to anything resembling the stature of Acuña or Yelich and this trade certainly is not a great launching point for the career of Derek Jeter as a baseball executive…

Ever since Peyton Manning retired after winning the Super Bowl with the Denver Broncos in February 2016, the Broncos’ QB situation has been stranded at the intersection of chaos and mayhem.  Here are the people that have started at QB for the Broncos in the last 3 seasons:

  • Case Keenum – 16 games
  • Paxton Lynch – 4 games
  • Brock Osweiler – 4 games
  • Trevor Siemian – 24 games

The Broncos have also had guys on their roster for the last 3 seasons who never started a game; so, it is not as if there has not been a parade of potential replacements for Manning at the position.  As of today, it seems that John Elway is taking the shotgun approach to finding a competent starting QB; the so-called “quarterback room” in the Broncos’ training camp will need to house a throng.

  • The Broncos signed free agent, Joe Flacco.  Barring some sort of accident that results in dismemberment, Flacco will be the starter for the Broncos in September.
  • In the second round of the draft, the Broncos took Drew Lock (Mizzou)
  • Holdover QBs from 2018 on the roster are Kevin Hogan and Garrett Grayson.
  • Then, this week, the Broncos signed undrafted free agent QB, Brett Rypien (Boise St.) – the nephew of former Skins’ QB, Mark Rypien.

Speaking of QB prospects, I like the fact that the NY Giants took Daniel Jones with the sixth overall pick in the draft last week.  It is not because I think Jones is a sure-fire franchise QB who will be a star in the NFL for more than a decade, nor is it because #2 son went to Duke and Jones is a “Dookie”.  I like that pick because it is very likely to adjudicate the chasm of opinion that exists about Jones’ fitness for having been selected that high in the draft.

Giants’ GM Dave Gettleman has taken a lot of heat – enough to melt steel, don’t you know – over the pick.  Myriads of commentators and draftniks have put his football IQ somewhere on the scale between stumblebum and village idiot.  Gettleman has doubled down saying that he loves the pick and that his vision will be “vindicated” in 5 years.  And that is why this pick is such a good one for people like me who are happy, willing and able to sit back and see how things manifest themselves over time – – unlike fans of the NY Giants who want certainty and instant positive results.

The spectrum for the righteousness of Gettleman’s decision to take Daniel Jones at #6 seems to be bounded on one end by “Stroke of Genius” and  by “The Greatest Football Cataclysm Since Art Schlichter” on the other end.  Grab yourself a cold one; put your feet up; sit back, and watch…

Finally, speaking of making difficult decisions, here is an observation from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times:

“Alabama publicists’ biggest concern this spring: Is Nick Saban’s hip-replacement surgery considered an upper- or lower-body injury?”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………



Basketball + Football + Baseball Today

The second game of the Warriors/Rockets NBA playoff series last night was a lot more interesting than the first one.  There was less flopping and less bitching and moaning to the officials last night and both teams shot much better from the 3-point line as compared to Game 1 where it was brick after brick after brick.  The Warriors took a 2-0 lead in the series 115-109 but this game was always in doubt.  Game 3 on Saturday night in Houston should be a good one.

The second game of the Celtics/Bucks NBA playoff series last night was a mirror image of the first one.  In Game 1, the Celtics defense smothered Giannis Antetokounmpo and dominated the game winning by 22 points; the score reflected the Celtics’ dominance.  In Game 2, things were close at the half – Bucks led by 4 points – and then came the deluge.  There was a stretch in that third quarter where the Bucks outscored the Celtics 28-2 and coasted from there to a 25-point win.  For Game 3 in Boston, the oddsmakers have the Celtics as a 1.5-point favorite; toss a coin here…

As the federal trial related to college basketball recruiting practices continues to reveal “irregularities” that the NCAA super-sleuths never knew existed, the NCAA actually did something constructive regarding another collegiate sport.  The NCAA revised some of the football rules in favor of increased player safety.  For every ton of contempt one should heap upon them for being unable to enforce their own arcane recruitment rules, give them a couple of pounds of respect for the football safety decisions:

  1. When a play involving possible targeting is under review, the officials must now either confirm the call or overturn the call.  No longer can they “let the call on the field stand”.  [Good change]
  2. Players will not be allowed to hit an opponent with a blind-side block if the blocker “attack[s] an opponent with forcible contact.”  The result will be a 15-yard penalty – – and it could involve targeting also.  [Lots of ambiguity in “forcible contact” here…]
  3. Overtime rules have been changed.  After 4 OTs conducted as they have been in the past and if the score is still tied, teams will run alternating two-point conversions instead of offensive possessions from the 25-yardline.  Also, there will be two-minute rest periods between the second and third overtimes and another two-minute break after the fourth overtime.  [Probably will affect less than a half-dozen games a year.]
  4. On kickoff returns, teams will no longer be allowed to use a “two-man wedge formation”.  [I presume there is data to suggest this will reduce injuries; therefore, it is a good change.]

Speaking of rule changes, MLB is experimenting with rule changes in a different way.  MLB has “partnered with” the Atlantic League – one of the country’s independent baseball leagues – to try out some changes that could have a significant change to the game.  [Aside:  I suspect that “partnered with” translates simply to “MLB has tossed a wad of cash in the direction of the Atlantic League.”  Whatever…]  The independent leagues are rarely avenues that players follow on their way to the major leagues, but the quality of play is above college baseball and compares to the low minor leagues.  Most of the experimental rules are aimed at speeding up the game; some others intend to increase the number of balls put in play and total scoring.  Here is a sampling:

  1. Time between innings is 1 minute and 45 seconds.  In MLB it is 2:00 for locally televised games and 2:45 for national games.  Players and pitchers need to run from the dugout to their positions to loosen up.
  2. Radar will be implemented to assist home-plate umpires in calling balls and strikes; the umpires will wear an earpiece to “get advice”.
  3. There are no defensive shifts allowed.  There must be 2 infielders on either side of second base when the pitch is delivered.
  4. The size of the bases will be increased from 15”X15” to 18”X 18”.  [Aside:  I am not sure I understand why this is important, but what the heck…]
  5. There are no mound visits by managers, coaches or players allowed.  Period.

Those five rule changes are dramatic departures from the way the game has always been played, but those five are nothing as compared to a sixth experimental change that will come to pass in the second half of next season in the Atlantic League:

  • The pitcher’s mound will be moved back 2 feet; it will then be 62 feet and 6 inches from home plate.  [Two dozen baseball stat geeks just passed out as I typed those words.]

The idea behind that experiment is simple.  If every team has a pitcher or three who can approach or exceed 100 mph on his fastball, that increases strikeouts and suppresses scoring.  There is no real way to put a “speed limit” on fastballs so maybe the way to accommodate this “problem” is to move the mound back and give hitters a tad more time to read the pitch.

Let’s do some math:

  • A baseball traveling at 100 mph is traveling at 146.7 feet per second.
  • At the current mound distance, it arrives at home plate in 0.41 seconds.
  • With the mound moved back, it would arrive at home plate in 0.43 seconds.

That difference is small enough that I am glad to see that MLB is doing some experimentation to see if it matters at all before trying it in MLB because someone thought it was a good idea.  Another thing I hope someone pays attention to is the effect this change might have on breaking ball pitchers.  With an extra 2 feet to play with, some sinker ball pitchers might be able to start their sinker chest high and have it drop below the knees by the time it gets “into the hitting zone”.

Finally, since I was mentioning baseball below the major league level here, please consider this item from Dwight Perry’s Sideline Chatter column in the Seattle Times recently:

“Some well-meaning baseball parents trying to dry off the infield for their sons’ high-school game in Ridgefield, Conn., poured 25 gallons of gasoline onto it, lit it — and got only 15-foot flames and a $50,000 tab to remove contaminated soil for their efforts.

“In other words, third base wasn’t the only hot corner at Governors Field.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………