Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Francesa And Football

TigerBlog was in the car yesterday afternoon enough to hear Mike Francesa go off on WFAN about ways to shorten baseball games.

His main point was that the hitters drag the game out by leaving the batters' box between pitches, which he said should be illegal. He mentioned that he'd seen a game from the 1960 World Series recently in which the hitters never left the box.

He also made the suggestion that the rules limit the number of times a pitcher can attempt a pickoff move. He said that pitchers throw over not to shorten leads but to stall between pitches and that if anything, a better way to shorten leads is to vary the way a pitcher comes to the plate.

He also railed against the fake-to-third-throw-to-first move, one that never works, at least that's what he said.

And said and said and said. He must have hammered this point 20 different times.

So what happens? The Yankees trail the Angels 6-4 with two out and first-and-third in the ninth. Curtis Granderson (who, by the way, is the only Yankee TigerBlog likes) is the runner on first - and he gets nailed to end the game on the fake-to-third-throw-to-first move.

It couldn't have been scripted to make Francesa look worse.

In fairness to Francesa, that move almost never works. In fact, TB can't remember the last time he saw it work.

And, in fairness to Francesa, the game does drag, and his two suggestions would help.

Still, when you come across the way he does and then have it blow up in your face like that, well, most listeners probably chuckled.

Sports talk radio yesterday seemed to consist of 25% baseball and 75% football. And why wouldn't it?

The NFL lockout is over, and preseason games start this weekend. Most colleges are practicing, as are high schools, for that matter.

There is no doubt that football is the dominant sport in American athletic culture, and there are all kinds of reasons for this: the physical nature, the violence, the speed and grace, the fact that it's only once a week, the mystique that it has as being complex and requiring coaches who are nothing short of geniuses (at least that's what they want the general public to think).

TigerBlog's favorite professional sports team is the New York Giants. Other than the 1980 Miracle on Ice and a whole bunch of Princeton games, TB's favorite sporting event of all time is the Giants' Super Bowl win over the Patriots a few years ago, when the Pats were 18-0 entering the game.

One of the heroes of that run for the Giants throughout the playoffs was Plaxico Burress, who was unbelievable in the NFC Championship Game against the Packers and then caught the winning touchdown from Eli Manning in the final minute of the Super Bowl.

Of course, Plaxico has had some issues since then, and now he finds himself trying to become the next Michael Vick, coming from prison to return to football glory.

Burress signed a one-year deal with the Jets for a guarantee of $3,017,000 (the 17 part relates to his uniform number). TB read a few stories about how Burress wanted to return to the Giants but felt that the team wasn't treating him with the proper respect.

This made TB want to puke.

Burress destroyed the Giants' chances at a repeat when he shot himself in the thigh. In TB's mind, he forfeited his right ever to blame the team for anything again. Besides, "respect" doesn't always equal "guaranteed money."

TB also read about how Penn State coach Joe Paterno had to go to the hospital after being blindsided during a practice earlier this week.

And how there is a movie crew who will be filming an Army-Navy documentary later this year.

And how there have been 10 Achilles' tendon injuries in NFL practices.

And on and on and on the football news/talk/video goes.

Even the Ivy League was in on it.

Yesterday was the league's media conference call, a cost-saving measure that took the place of an actual media day.

Penn was picked to finish first; Princeton and Cornell were picked to finish tied for seventh.

Guess what? None of that matters when the games actually start.

Paul Franklin, who has been to more than one media day in his time, wrote a good piece for the Trenton Times and Star-Ledger about the Ivy coaches and their thoughts on the league's postseason ban.

As for Princeton's current state of football prowess, don't sell the Tigers short just yet.

Much like the men's lacrosse team, the football team saw any chance of success a year ago wiped out by injury. And, just like the men's lax team, this year is a great opportunity to bounce back while starting a bit under the radar.

Still, the topic in the OAC yesterday turned to the best-case scenario for Princeton, and it goes like this:

* healthy Tommy Wornham for 10 games
* decent if not spectacular skill players around him
* offensive line does enough to give him time to throw
* healthy Steven Cody goes back to being as good as any defensive player in the league
* healthy Caraun Reid
* defense bends but doesn't break
* great kickers
* Year 2 of new staff
* three straight home games to start the year

Add all that together, and no, TigerBlog isn't suggesting 9-1 or anything like that.

But Princeton could be much better than anyone thinks it will be.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

although your not saying 9-1 this year, where do you think they might finish?