It is still way too early to use anything that happens in the MLB Playoffs to be definitive/indicative regarding the World Series. Nevertheless, the game between the Braves and Reds yesterday that went to the 13th inning before the only run in the game came across the plate was an entertaining contest. If I have counted correctly, there were 373 pitches tossed in that game; since the game ended as a 1-0 walk-off win for the Braves in the 13th inning, that means that every one of the 372 preceding pitches could have changed the trajectory of the game. The game was not exciting/riveting because of the offensive fireworks on display; it was exciting/riveting because of the pitching and defense on display.
There were a bunch of commentators who seemed overly enthusiastic about dancing on the NFL’s grave after Week 1 TV ratings showed a double-digit decline as compared to last year. Jason Whitlock has attributed that sort of reporting to a hidden “war on football” and I completely disagree with that thesis. Nonetheless, there is a segment of the sports reporting cognoscenti that seems to take pleasure in reporting negative TV information about the NFL – – but is conspicuously focused on other things when NFL TV information is positive:
- Week 2: Monday Night Football ratings were up 26% in 2020 over comparable ratings for Week 2 in 2019. [Saints/Raiders was a good matchup but not the best matchup of the weekend as compared to Pats/Seahawks or even Chiefs/Chargers.]
- Week 3: Monday Night Football ratings were up 36% in 2020 over comparable ratings for Week 3 in 2019. [This was THE best matchup on the NFL schedule for the week.]
Lest anyone plan to dance on the grave of the NFL for its television popularity, the Chiefs/Ravens game on last Monday drew an average of 14.2 million viewers. Ask any of the NFL doomsayers to point to any one or two television programs on that evening that drew as many as 75% of that many viewers (10.65 million viewers). I tried to find even one program that achieved that status and could not…’
Before I go any further, let me offer congratulations to the Tampa Bay Lightening as the Stanley Cup Champions in 2020. I watched some of the Capitals/Islanders series and some of the Flyers/Islanders series; and then, I saw a couple of the Stanley Cup Finals games between the Lightening and the Dallas Stars (including the Stars’ Double OT win). To a very untrained eye, it appeared to me that the Lightening were bigger, faster and more focused on what they were doing than were the Stars. I will leave it at that lest anyone start to get the impression that I know anything more than the most superficial aspects of ice hockey.
I enjoyed what I saw in the NHL playoffs; I will cede the floor to others who can provide meaningful analysis of what happened there. For those who did not see any of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs, I would suggest that you missed some exciting and very interesting “Sports on TV”.
Let me set the stage for my next item today. #1 son is an NFL fan, and #1 son is singularly responsible for the genesis of “Sports Curmudgeon rants” going all the way back to 1994. If anyone is interested in that backstory, keep goosing me to write a memoir about Sports Curmudgeon rants. I have tried 3 times in the past and those have been disastrously horrid examples of exposition. In any event, I got an email from #1 son earlier this week and his intent was to diminish the qualifications of Eli Manning for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. To make his case, #1 son compared Eli Manning’s career stats to those of Jay Cutler. Consider these stats – – which I have confirmed:
- Games Played: E. Manning = 236 Cutler = 153.
- Completion %-age: E. Manning = 60.3% Cutler = 62.0%
- Career QB Rating: E. Manning = 84.1 Cutler = 85.3
- Yards per Season: E. Manning = 3866 Cutler = 3674
- TDs per Season: E. Manning = 24.8 Cutler = 23.7
- INTs per Season: E. Manning = 16.5 Cutler = 16.7
Looking at those career numbers, it is difficult to argue that Eli Manning’s career numbers were significantly better than Jay Cutler’s career numbers. And #1 son is completely right to assert that there are lots of people touting Eli Manning as a shoo-in to the Hall of Fame whereas no one thinks that Jay Cutler should get more than a courteous nod from the voters who determine that honor – – EXCEPT FOR – – the fact that Eli Manning has two Super Bowl rings and was twice voted Super Bowl MVP.
Let me be clear, # 1 son is not trying to make a case for Jay Cutler to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame; as a transplanted citizen who matured as a sports fan in Chicago, that is not even close to his intent. His point – and it is a valid one – is that over their careers, Jay Cutler and Eli Manning were more similar than different in terms of their career stats. The one huge difference is those TWO SUPER BOWL RINGS.
However, #1 son concludes his email message to me by saying that if those two Super Bowl rings are so important in the minds of voters, then they also need to enshrine Jim Plunkett who was also the QB for two Super Bowl winning teams in the 1980s (Raiders) and who earned one Super Bowl MVP honor. .
Stats tell an important story as #1 son has laid out here. There is also what I call the “eyeball test”. I saw plenty of games played by Jay Cutler, Eli Manning and Jim Plunkett. Stats aside, here is my “eyeball rating”; if you gave me the choice of these there QBs in their college graduating days as the guy I would want to build my franchise around, here is my order – – and the gaps between the three are easily discernable:
- #1: Eli Manning
- #2: Jay Cutler
- #3: Jim Plunkett
Having said all of that, #1 son – – and none of you – – need worry about this because I do not have a vote for the Pro Football Hall of Fame nor will I ever…
Finally, let me leave you today with an item from The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm:
“Facebook: An Internet destination for people who want to be found by everyone who used to beat them up in high school.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………