When It Rains, It Pours

The Washington WTF organization is in the process of total reorganization.  Little of that process has been motivated internally – – save for hiring a new head coach because the previous one did not win enough games.  The reorganization has a new Team President, coach, radio broadcast crew and scouting department head along with a new team name that has yet to be announced.  Demonstrating the adage that when it rains it pours, the team got news yesterday that the new coach, Ron Rivera, has been diagnosed with lymph node cancer.  Cancer is never good news ; but in this case, the bright light is that the disease is “in the early stages” and that it is “very treatable providing a good prognosis for full recovery.”

I have never read or heard anything negative about Ron Rivera; everyone seems to hold him in the highest regard.  I do not wish cancer on folks that I consider “bad guys”; so, I certainly hope that the prognosis for full recovery in this case happens and happens quickly.

The abnormal 2020 NFL season is approaching and the presentation of the games on television will be as abnormal as the year 2020 has been.  Most of the teams will play home games in empty stadiums but that is not all that will be different:

  • No team mascots will be allowed on the field.  [Aside:  So what…]
  • No cheerleaders will be allowed on the field.  [Aside:  If there are no fans in the stands to do any cheering …]
  • The networks will not have any sideline reporters.  [Aside:  I shan’t miss any of them.]

Those abnormalities will be evident to fans who tune into the games.  There are other procedures/rules in place for the 2020 season that the NFL and the NFLPA have agreed upon as precautionary measures in these times of COVID-19:

  • Teams – players and coaches – will stay together in a hotel the night before all games.  This includes home teams and visiting teams.
  • While in the hotel, the players and coaches cannot use any of the amenities such as the spa or pool; they may not leave the hotel; all meals will be provided by the hotel using disposable/single-use utensils and single-serving packets of all condiments.  Water will be provided in individual bottles.
  • In the case where a limited number of fans will be in the stadium for the game, those fans will not be permitted near the point of entry where team busses deliver the players and coaches to the stadium.
  • Home teams are limited to having a maximum of 65 workers to take care of stadium matters and presentation matters.
  • Players and coaches are not required to wear masks on the sidelines – – except if a player must go inside the medical tent for an evaluation.  All other personnel on the sidelines must be masked.
  • There will be no media in the locker rooms after the games.  [Aside:  In a pinch, the networks can put together a montage of player comments from locker rooms over the past couple of years.  That montage will not be significantly different from what they would have heard from players in 2020.]

We can hope that these procedures are sufficient to prevent a major outbreak in or among NFL teams for this year.  It is a far cry from having the teams in a “bubble environment”, but hopefully, it can work…

Speaking of different viewing experiences in 2020, I have not been overly impressed with MLB games on TV this season.  To be clear, I am not talking about the absence of fans in the seats or the cardboard cutouts of fans; the games are not compelling.  Most teams have played about 25 games so far; for 2020, that is 40% of the season.  Here are some stats:

  • Five teams – 20% of the teams in MLB – are hitting below .220 as a team.
  • Four teams have an OBP below .300.
  • Twenty teams – 67% of the teams in MLB – have more strikeouts than hits.
  • Twenty-nine of the thirty MLB teams have struck out at least  100 times more than they have walked.
  • Two teams are averaging 10 strikeouts per game.

I like a good pitchers’ duel as much as anyone; but  even in a pitchers’ duel, it is nice to have a few baserunners to give the impression that one of the teams might actually score a run or two before sunrise the next morning.  Too many baseball games this year are dominated by the pitcher and catcher tossing the ball back and forth to each other.

Also, there is an aspect of this year’s games that confuses me.  I do not like the extra inning rule where a “designated runner” begins the inning on second base – – but that is how they are playing the games in 2020.  With that as a fact, here is what I do not understand:

  • When the home team holds the visitors to no runs in the top of the 10th inning – or the 8th inning in a double-header situation – and comes to bat with the guy on second base, why don’t they bunt to get him to third base with one out?
  • A sacrifice fly in that situation wins the game.  Any base hit that would score a man from second base will surely score him from third base too; that would also win the game.
  • Why is that not standard practice?

Finally, since today I have mentioned the absence of fans in the stadiums for MLB and for NFL games, let me close with a pertinent definition from The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm:

Fan:  A stalker waiting to happen.”

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



4 thoughts on “When It Rains, It Pours”

  1. And they have to bring the infield in, and that supposedly will lift your average 100 points. Pitchers will be more reluctant to throw the big breaking curve in the dirt.

    I can only guess it is because the players do not practice bunting and it is a lost skill in many cases.

    Note after a successful bunt I am almost always walking the third man up to set the double play. Why not, his run is worthless. Maybe I don’t walk that defensive substitute to face Mike Trout, but otherwise…

    Some may cry “Statistically….” but the stats will need a bit deeper analysis here. If, say, first and second no out, 10 instances, hit away yields 10 runs, with instances of 1,2,3, and 4, we see 10 runs, 10 instances, expected runs/occurrence is 1. If you bunt, and in 10 cases it yields 8 runs, for an expected runs/occurrence of .8, well, that is usually not the preferred path – but what if it was 1,1,1,2, and 3 runs? Sure, it is only 8, as opposed to 10, but it is 5 INSTANCES as opposed to 4. I don’t care about magnitude at all, just frequency. The first strategy you may employ in the bottom of the second, not in the bottom of the 10th

    1. Ed:

      Agree completely. Strategy and tactics have to account for the stage of the game and the immediate situation in front of the manager. Having said that, I have yet to see a bunt by the first hitter in an extra inning game this year. [Of course, I have not seen every extra inning game, so …] It would seem to me that some manager might think the situation was ripe for that tactical decision once in a while…

  2. Bunting is more difficult than you think. Few major league hitters have the ability to lay down a bunt reliably.

    1. Gil:

      Agree that bunting is not a trivial pursuit. However, I cannot believe that major league players cannot practice sufficiently to be able to do that. I think the reason they “can’t” is because they are not made to practice it because managers don’t use it because the players can’t do it. It’s a vicious circle…

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