RIP Franco Harris

Franco Harris passed away earlier this week approximately 48 hours before the 50th anniversary of his “Immaculate Reception”.  Harris is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and was an enthusiastic and articulate ambassador for the NFL and for football as a sport.  He was selected for the Pro Bowl 9 times in his career and was part of the 4 Super Bowl Championships won by the Steelers in the 1970s.  When he retired, Harris led the NFL in rushing – – including the approximately 1500 yards he gained in playoff games.

Rest in peace, Franco Harris.

Yesterday, I mentioned the major change in the way MLB games are played/managed these days which makes a complete game by a starting pitcher a rarity.  That prompted an email from a reader with the following supporting evidence:

“An interesting bit of data: Since 2000 only one MLB pitcher has more than 10 complete games in a season (James Shields in 2011). The last pitcher to have 20 or more complete games in a season was Fernando Valenzuela in 1986. Phil Niekro had 20+ complete games three consecutive seasons (1977-1979). In 2022, Sandy Alcantara lead the majors with six and that was double the second most.”

In another baseball happening, the Mets signed free agent shortstop, Carlos Correa, to a deal reportedly worth $315M over the next 12 years.  I have not found the breakdown of how that money will be paid out yet but let me assume as an approximation that it will be paid out as a flat sum; Correa will make $26.25M per year.  Prior to that signing, reports said that the Mets’ payroll in 2023 was going to be $345M and with baseball’s “Competitive Balance Tax, Mets’ owner was going to be on the hook for approximately $420M just for the 2023 season.  Add in the Correa deal and the salary commitment goes up to 371.25 and with the added Competitive Balance Tax, the total cost is approximately $460M.

Shed no tears for owner, Steve Cohen, he can afford it; Forbes says he is worth $17.5B.  However, the Mets and the Pirates are both in the National League – -nominally as competitors.  There are a bunch of players on the Pirates who are eligible for arbitration this offseason so the best one can do now is to estimate the Pirates’ payroll for 2023. does that sort of thing and their estimate for the 2023 Pittsburgh Pirates’ payroll is $58M.

I find it difficult to look at those data and then conclude that the competition in the National League next year will be on a level playing field.  I certainly do not begrudge the Mets’ players for negotiating big deals for themselves; I have no quarrel with how Steve Cohen chooses to spend his money; I recognize the Pirates’ owner, Robert Nutting, cannot commit to those sorts of salary levels for the Pirates.  There are no “evil manipulations” at work here; yet, the idea of the level playing field for a major league baseball season in 2023 is more than “juuust a bit outside…”  [Hat Tip to Bob Uecker as Harry Doyle]

Moving on …  Recall back when NFL teams were in Training Camp, the Bills had a rookie punter, Matt Araiza in camp.  A woman filed a civil lawsuit against Araiza accusing him and two other men who were teammates with Araiza on the San Diego State football team of gang raping her when she was 17 years old.  The woman named three assailants but alleged that she could have been raped by as many as 20 men.  That was a sufficiently lurid and horrid accusation that the Bills released Araiza almost immediately despite having spent a 6th round draft pick on him.

Araiza denied the allegations – as one should expect – and the case was turned over to the San Diego police and district attorney’s office.  Earlier in December they announced that no criminal charges would be filed in this matter.

“Ultimately, prosecutors determined it is clear the evidence does not support the filing of criminal charges and there is no path to a potential criminal conviction.”

Araiza’s lawyer said that these allegations were a “shakedown” from the start.  Araiza says he is excited to get on with his NFL career.  The woman’s lawyer had a very different view of this situation:

“I’m not surprised.  The police rarely pay much attention to cases where the victim is intoxicated. Here, the police made it clear in January 2022 that they weren’t interested in the case. They made that clear by ghosting my client and keeping her in the dark. It was only the media attention that caused the police to commence a dog and pony show long enough for them to say they conducted a thorough investigation.”

I will be interested to see if the Bills – – or some other NFL team – – sign Araiza based on this decision by the authorities in San Diego or if they might wait for an outcome from that civil lawsuit that was filed, and which kicked this snowball down the hill in the first place.

Finally, since part of today’s rant dealt with police investigations and the like, let me close with this item from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times – – prior to his retirement:

“Dutch and Belgian police raided 24 farms in what called a major case of ‘manure management fraud’ — that is, piling on much more fertilizer than allowed.

“The farmers face possible charges of document fraud and conducting a boxing news conference without a license.”

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



4 thoughts on “RIP Franco Harris”

  1. In baseball it seems less of a desire for performance parity than for revenue parity. As we saw from the Marlins, that luxury tax payout from other teams never seems to affect payroll but certainly helps revenue and team valuations.

  2. 1,500 rushing yards in playoff games is a bit breath-taking. I salute that Franco Harris stat and wonder where it ranks all-time?

    1. TenaciousP:

      Franco Harris ranks 2nd all-time in the NFL in rushing yards in playoff games. Emmitt Smith is #1 with 1586 yards in playoff games. Franco Harris was close behind at 1556 yards in playoff games.

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