The Key To Roster Building In The NFL

I’ll preface this by saying:  you can’t do anything without a quarterback.  That’s obvious.  Everyone knows it, so there’s really not even much point in bringing it up, except if you don’t bring it up, then wise-asses will come on here and tell me I forgot about the quarterback position.

There are all kinds of different types of quarterbacks that can win you a championship, as evidenced by the last decade or so of NFL champions.  Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, and Tom Brady are going to go down as all-time greats.  Joe Flacco, Eli Manning, and Ben Roethlisberger likely won’t.  Doesn’t mean they’re BAD; just means that no one is going to put them in their Top 10 All Time Greatest Quarterbacks list.

For the record, my picks:

  1. Joe Montana
  2. Tom Brady
  3. John Elway
  4. Peyton Manning
  5. Dan Marino
  6. Steve Young
  7. Johnny Unitas
  8. Brett Favre
  9. Drew Brees
  10. Warren Moon

But, that’s neither here nor there.  The point is, the quarterback is crucial.  It’s too early to say where Russell Wilson will fall on that list, but I’d venture to say we’d still be ringless if he had to carry a team with an underperforming defense last season.

And that’s what the elite quarterback will afford you.  The elites – like Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Brees, etc. – can cover up for just a so-so defense.  Of course, the fact that all of those quarterbacks only have one championship apiece will tell you that a quarterback can’t do it by himself (and, truth be told, the years their respective teams won it all, their defenses weren’t that bad).

The more talent you have around your quarterback, the less perfect your quarterback has to be (hence why Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger both have two championships each).  But, the NFL has a salary cap, and teams have got to find a way to fit 53 players into that cap (plus a little extra to make up for injuries and such).  So, HOW you build around your quarterback is just about as important as the quarterback itself.

There isn’t exactly one specific way to run your team, but I’ll tell you this much:  you’re not going to get very far without a good defense.  That means one of two things:  elite pass rush, or elite secondary (or, ideally both).  Without really delving deep into things, I think it’s pretty safe to say that at least half of NFL teams are pretty happy with their quarterbacks.  I don’t think it’s out of the question to say that at least half of the teams have a guy under center capable of winning it all (assuming everything breaks right and they have a good team around them).  So, you figure that at least half the time, your defense is going to face a pretty good quarterback.

Now, if you’re going to build a defense to combat all those pretty good-to-great quarterbacks, you’ve got to have one of the two aforementioned qualities:  an elite pass rush or an elite secondary.  It’s all about disrupting the quarterback’s timing and forcing him to do things he doesn’t want to do.  If you’ve got the pass rush, then odds are you’ll be able to force him to throw early; if you’ve got the secondary, then odds are you’ll be able to force him to throw late (and hopefully give your adequate pass rush enough time to get home).  So, it would stand to reason that if you’re building your roster to win a championship, you’re going to focus the bulk of your defensive salary cap on edge rushers and/or the secondary.

What you DON’T want to do is start pumping a bunch of money down into your linebackers and interior linemen.  Unless that interior lineman is in the Cortez Kennedy/Warren Sapp mold, you’re probably overpaying.  You can find wide-bodies just about anywhere, on the cheap, no problem.  Ditto linebackers.  People will point to some of the quality guys like Patrick Willis and Luke Kuechly, and I will admit that those dudes are pretty awesome at what they do.  But, you know who else is pretty awesome?  Bobby Wagner.  He’s a second round pick making a fraction of what those guys are making and will make.  Bobby Wagner isn’t heralded in the least, but he’s still awesome.  And, I would venture that you can find a TON of Bobby Wagners in the draft, which will save you money in the long run over massive extensions for the Kuechlys of the world.

Take a look at the Seahawks.  We’ve pumped some serious money into Earl Thomas, Michael Bennett, Kam Chancellor, and soon we’ll devote a whole bunch more into Richard Sherman.  Pass rush & secondary.  Where are we finding savings?  How about three linebackers (Wagner, Wright, Smith) all drafted in the 2nd round or later, all still on rookie deals.  Now, the Seahawks MIGHT extend one or more of those guys when the time comes, but I bet they’ll be mid-range contracts that don’t kill our cap for years to come.

We’re also saving money on our interior line.  Brandon Mebane has a $5 million APY, and that leads the team on interior line spending.  Tony McDaniel is on a short-term, on-the-cheap deal, and the rest of our interior guys are on rookie contracts.

Of course, the Seahawks could always use a little more pass rush security.  Maybe Cliff Avril gets extended beyond this year.  Maybe we hit on someone in the draft.  Maybe we pick up another team’s cast-off.  Or, maybe we just try to hold the fort and steal another team’s outgoing free agent next year.

The point is:  pass rush & secondary = big money players.  Linebackers & interior linemen = savings.

On offense, the Seahawks have proven that a run-first model isn’t entirely out-dated.  Nevertheless, their spending in this area kinda sorta is.

Marshawn Lynch has the fourth-highest average per-year salary on the team (behind Harvin, Thomas, and Okung).  His contact runs out after the 2015 season.  Nobody really expects Lynch to see the final year of that deal as it’s currently configured, because nobody really expects Lynch to continue playing at the high level he’s been at the last three or four years.  Plus, there’s the whole issue with Russell Wilson getting his money after the 2014 season (when the team can negotiate an extension and finally pay him what he’s really worth).

As you can see from all the free agent deals for running backs this off-season, they’re not getting the kind of money they used to get even 10 years ago.  It sounds crazy when you think of someone like Chris Johnson, who can only get a 2-year deal; he was once the best runner in football and he’s NOT THAT OLD.  Same goes for these other guys.  What kind of a deal would Ben Tate have gotten even five years ago?  Now, he’s playing for peanuts, as is MJD, Darren McFadden, and every other running back who hits free agency.

Why is that?  Because teams are reluctant to go with the one-back system and instead opt for a By-Committee approach.  Because injuries are a son of a bitch.  And because all too often, a no-name guy from the back-end of the draft will enter the mix in the NFL and be just as good, if not better, than these over-paid mama’s boys (Trent Richardson) who somehow still get drafted high.

All of this tells me one thing:  you’re foolish if you’re pumping too much money into the running back position.

The Seahawks have the luxury of paying Marshawn Lynch a high salary because they’re paying next-to-nothing for Russell Wilson (and the quarterback position at large).  But, when Wilson’s commanding around $20 million per season, you’ve got to find ways to cut corners somewhere.  I would wager the Seahawks will pull some of that money out of the running back position (which is a shame, because everyone loves Marshawn Lynch with a passion).

It’ll be difficult, for the Seahawks more than others, because we DO rely on the run so much to make our offense go.  The run sets up the play-action pass.  The run keeps defenses honest.  The run also reduces the risk of turnovers, because if we’re successfully running the ball, then we’re not throwing as much.  If we’re not throwing as much, then we’re not throwing as many interceptions.  Bing, bang, boom.  So, the Seahawks can’t throw just any ol’ scrub in the backfield and expect to succeed.

To do what I advocate, you have to draft wisely and you have to draft often.  Finding value in a guy like Christine Michael (if he does, indeed, turn out to be the elite runner we all expect) will set us up for a good long while.  Yet, even if we were saddled with only Robert Turbin and whoever else via draft, I’d be content.

Because as long as you put value and talent into your offensive line, it really shouldn’t matter who you have at running back.

Under my system – which incidentally is the one the Seahawks have been using – you’ve got to have a great left tackle.  Russell Okung fits that mold.  He’s not quite Walter Jones, but then again, who is?  You SHOULD be able to cut corners a little bit on the guard spots, as long as you’ve got a great center.  The Seahawks have Max Unger, who is pretty terrific.  I’d like to see a breakdown of the best centers and how often they’re involved in lengthy playoff runs, because I think they’re WAY more important than most people give them credit for.

Under almost no circumstances should you be paying elite money to a guard.  Unless you know you’re getting someone like Hutch in his prime.  At which point, you should probably find a value center and make due with a so-so right tackle.  Obviously, you can’t pay everyone, but you should probably have at least two guys who are worthy of high-paying contracts.

If you’re a bad team, get that left tackle with a high draft pick.  There is ALWAYS an elite left tackle coming out in the draft.  So, if you have a high draft pick, make that guy your first priority.  Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have a wonderful coach like Tom Cable, so try to get yourselves one of those.

The model isn’t perfect, obviously.  The Seahawks had two great linemen and a bunch of injuries last year and really struggled to protect the quarterback.  That’s where your QB comes into play.  You can put a crappy QB behind an elite O-Line and make some hay.  You probably won’t win many championships, but you can consistently make the playoffs.  The worse your O-Line is, though, the better your quarterback must be.  Russell Wilson probably isn’t an elite QB just yet, but he was good enough to make up for all the injuries and inconsistencies we suffered last year.

And, of course, that leads us to the passing game.  You can run the football all you want, but unless you can throw the ball when it counts, you’re not going to go all the way.  Ask Adrian Peterson about that, I’m sure he’s got some stories to tell.

Like I said at the top, you need the quarterback, but it helps if he has talent to throw to.

Some quarterbacks – like Brees, Peyton Manning, etc. – will turn any receiver into a 1,000 yard threat.  Others – I’m looking at you Andy Dalton, Colin Kaepernick, Jay Cutler, etc. – need their receivers to elevate their games.

Andy Dalton would be a poor man’s Kyle Orton if he didn’t have A.J. Green.  Kaepernick was God-awful last year without Crabtree!  And Jay Cutler’s a fucking mess WITH guys like Brandon Marshall, but just imagine how terrible he’d be without him.

Now, say what you will about our receivers, but I think they’ve been pretty great.  And, until Percy Harvin came along, they’ve been relatively cheap as well.

Again, a great quarterback will make up for a lot of deficiencies.  I have no doubt that someone like Russell Wilson makes someone like Jermaine Kearse a better football player.  It’s tough to say what Kearse’s ceiling would be in an offense that passes as much as New Orleans or Green Bay, but I bet it would be higher than you’d think if you had someone like Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees throwing the ball around 35 times a game.

Our offense doesn’t need to over-spend at the wide receiver position, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.  If you can get someone like Percy Harvin, you probably should do it.  If you draft someone and he turns out to be the next Calvin Johnson, then you should probably do whatever it takes to keep him.

This can be a little tricky, because if your #1 receiver is making top quarterback money, AND if you happen to have one of those top quarterbacks, then you can get into a situation like they’ve got down in Detroit.  The Lions should probably worry about pumping their resources into an offensive line, or a secondary, to round out their team (and not, for instance, over-pay for someone like Golden Tate, but you didn’t hear that from me).

There are talented receivers out there in the draft and among the undrafted free agents, but you gotta be smart about it.  I would more than be in favor of an A-B-C salary structure for your top three receivers.  Your A-player gets the lion’s share, your B-player gets a healthy mid-level contract, and your C-player is probably a rookie or a young guy on a cheap deal.

In short, on offense, you’re going to want to pump a lot of money into the quarterback and the offensive line.  Stay away from overpaying running backs and tight ends (unless you’ve got one like Jimmy Graham that plays more like a wide receiver anyway).  And, just be smart about paying your receivers.  If you’re only going to throw 20-25 times per game, maybe don’t throw all your eggs into the receiver basket.  But, don’t leave the cupboard completely barren either.

The point of all of this is to say that the Seahawks are doing it the right way.  If you root for another team, and they happen to be struggling, then follow the money.  Where are their big-money contracts going?  Would they be better off putting that money elsewhere?  Are they making the same mistakes over and over?  Then, you might be a redneck Mariners fan, and get out of my brain.

Seahawks Lose Defensive Coordinator, Gain Another Defensive Coordinator

So, Gus Bradley is gone.  Jacksonville hired him to be their head coach.  On the one hand, I guess it’s a good move for him.  If your goal all along has been to be an NFL head coach, then hey!  He achieved his goal!

But, I mean, just LOOK at that franchise!  They’re a complete disaster!  Blaine Gabbert is about as far from an elite quarterback as it gets.  Their best player, MJD, is over the hill and falling fast.  In 2012, their offense was the 4th-worst, their defense was 3rd-worst, and fan interest is at an all-time low.  The best thing they have going for them is they draft #2 overall this April.  Of course, even that’s kind of a shitty deal, because there’s no RGIII coming out in this draft.

Which leads to the ultimate question:  is it better to hold out, stick with your coordinating job on an elite team, and bide your time until the right job offer comes along?  Or, is it better to jump while the iron’s hot, because NFL head coaching vacancies are so rare?

I suppose it’s a nice problem to have.  You have to consider the fact that it’s very possible that the Seahawks’ defense could decline, if injuries take hold or players regress.  You also have to consider:  if you turn around a fledgling franchise, you’ve essentially got job security for life.  But, how often does THAT happen?  More often than not, even the greatest head coaches have a blemish on their record.  Belichick has his Cleveland stint.  Carroll has his Jets debacle.  Marv Levy had a mediocre stint with the Chiefs.  And that’s not counting all the countless head coaches who found second jobs yet never managed to turn their careers around EVER.

This is all prelude to the ultimate argument:  how important are coaches?  Let’s face it, you can be a genius.  You can have a brand-new offensive or defensive scheme that takes the league by storm.  But, if you don’t have the talent to execute those schemes, your team isn’t going anywhere.

Gus Bradley’s career is riddled with jobs at low-level colleges.  Yes, he once ascended to be a head coach at that level, but that’s not really saying a whole lot.  In the NFL, before he came to be the Seahawks’ defensive coordinator in 2009, the highest he ever got to be was Linebackers Coach under Monte Kiffin in Tampa.  In 2009, with an absolute joke of a team, Bradley led the defense to a 24th-ranking in yards per game allowed and 25th-ranking in points per game.  In 2010, the defense was even worse (27th in yards, 25th in points).  Finally, in 2011, once the majority of the turnover was complete, he turned the defense around (9th in yards, 7th in points).  And, in 2012, he enjoyed coaching one of the most talented defenses in football (4th in yards, 1st in points).

So, he struck while the iron was hot.  And, since he’s apparently such a great interview, he got himself a job after only 4 years’ worth of NFL coordinating.  And only TWO years’ worth of quality results!

But, you have to admit, his performance as a coordinator sure did synch up with the influx of raw, improved talent.

I would argue that if you’re reasonably smart and dedicated to your job, you can coordinate the hell out of a defense like Seattle’s.  How hard is it to watch tape on your opponent, set up a game plan, call plays during the game, and make adjustments accordingly (depending on how different they look at the onset of the game, or how they adjust to your initial gameplan)?  That’s essentially all you need out of a coordinator.  Develop the right scheme for your personnel, adjust to what the offense is giving you, and let your players make plays.

I mean, what was the last huge innovation in defensive coordinating?  The Tampa Two?  Yeah, that’s been around like forever.  Before that, what was it?  Dick LeBeau’s Zone Blitz?  Buddy Ryan’s 46 Defense with the Chicago Bears in the mid-80s?

It’s not like offense.  Offense is continually changing, evolving.  Defense is mostly just reacting.  But, essentially it’s the same.  Good defenses have good players.  You can’t just magically create a good defense out of stiffs!

I would argue Offensive Coordinators are vastly more important.  I would also argue that we could do a lot better than Darrell Bevell, but for the sake of maintaining SOME kind of continuity, I guess I’m okay with him getting a pay raise and sticking around for a while.

But, losing a guy like Gus Bradley is just the price you pay.  Same with this Idzik guy from our front office.  Good teams get poached from ALL THE TIME.  As long as we’ve got John Schneider running the show from a talent evaluation standpoint, I think we’ll be in good shape.  Next man up, and all of that nonsense.

Dan Quinn returns to replace Bradley.  For those not in the know, Quinn was our Defensive Line coach and an Associate Head Coach in 2009 under Mora.  He stuck around in 2010 under Carroll, but then left to be the Defensive Coordinator of the Florida Gators from 2011-2012.  In 2012, the Gators were 5th in points allowed per game with 14.5.  So, he’s got SOME experience as a coordinator, at a very high level in college, and he’s familiar with the workings in the NFL (and the Seattle Seahawks).  It’s a natural fit, and I don’t anticipate missing a beat.

I don’t know how his style differs from Bradley’s, but I would assume not that much.  He’s been a Defensive Line coach for pretty much forever, so hopefully some of that experience will help inprove what’s a huge need for this team.  Hopefully too that’ll mean he’s familiar-enough with some of the D-Line talent coming out of college.  At the very least, he should have a type of D-lineman in mind (a la Tom Cable and his needs for the O-Line), in the event that we’re not able to draft the cream of the crop.  Given that the Seahawks are drafting in the mid-20s again, he better be adept at turning chicken shit into chicken salad.

Regardless of who’s at the helm, it’s always going to boil down to talent.  Bring in the talent, you bring in the wins, bottom line.

A Companion Post: Who Might Want Beastmode Besides Seattle?

One thing I failed to explore in the previous post is:  what’s the market look like for a guy like Marshawn Lynch?

Yes, the Franchise Tag is a good cost-cutting tool when trying to re-sign a player.  But, a complete and utter lack of teams desiring to sign an over-priced running back is probably the best thing the Seahawks could ask for.

Of course, on Lynch’s side, you’ve got the age-old adage:  it only takes one.

So, let’s just go around the league.  For starters, you can count out the NFC East.  Dallas has any number of quality young backs already locked in (including super-stud DeMarco Murray who is sure to be a fantasy god for years to come).  The Giants appear to be set with Bradshaw and whoever else behind him.  The Redskins have a nice little stable of young backs.  And the Eagles have Shady McCoy (and, I imagine, not a whole lot of cap room to boot).

In the NFC North, I’m banking my life-savings (and one of my fantasy keepers) on the fact that they will retain Matt Forte.  Minnesota obviously has one of the very best backs in the league.  The Detroit Lions, however, could be interesting.  All they’ve got on their roster right now is Jahvid Best, and he’s a fucking injury waiting to happen!  It’s certainly NOT a good sign that he ended his season with concussions last year.  And, you’d have to think that for a young team trying to cultivate this bad-ass attitude, a guy like Beastmode would slide right in nicely.  Even MORE interesting are the Green Bay Packers.  You’ve got a team with an all-world quarterback, with a shitload of receivers, and with absolutely no running game to speak of whatsoever.  Ryan Grant is a free agent who has played his last game with the green and gold; James Starks is good, but he’s no Beastmode.  I gotta think Lynch might be just the piece to put the right balance into that explosive offense.

The NFC South will be no competition.  Atlanta still has a lot of money tied up in Michael Turner.  New Orleans drafted the top running back last season (and they have other money tied up in three or four other guys); plus, theirs is not an offense that would make any sense for a guy like Lynch.  Carolina still has three running backs (including the guy who takes snaps from the center).  And Tampa is a young team that will never in a million years put in the money it would take to get Lynch.

As for the other teams in the NFC West:  San Francisco has Gore, St. Louis has Jackson, and Arizona has Wells.  They all seem pretty committed to their guys.

You know who scares me more than any other team in the NFL?  The New England Patriots.  Think about it, they were THIS close to winning it all this past season!  What were they missing?  What are they ALWAYS missing?  A balanced offensive attack!  Let’s face it, Tom Brady isn’t getting any younger.  Yes, I know the Patriots like to skimp on their running backs (just as they like to bank draft picks for future drafts), but at one point or another, they’re going to have to cash in before it’s too late.  That crack about Tom Brady not getting any younger:  the same can be said for him not getting any BETTER.  Tom Brady is as good as he’s ever going to be; it’s all downhill from here.  One of these seasons, his skills are going to erode.  He’s not going to see the open receiver soon enough, he’s going to force more and more balls into coverage, he’s going to take more and more hits from ferocious defenses looking to take out the guy while he’s on top.  The Pats could sure as shit use a guy like Lynch to take off some of the load.

And, don’t look now, but Kevin Faulk and BenJarvus Green-Ellis are both free agents.  They’re not going to hand the ball off to Danny Woodhead and Shane Vereen 30 times a game!  Why WOULDN’T they make a huge push to get Lynch and start dominating the Time of Possession in every game?  What’s the downside here?

Elsewhere in the AFC East, the Dolphins are tied up with Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas, the Jets seem pretty happy with Shonn Greene and whatever young buck they’re going to slide behind him.  And, of course, the Bills have Jackson and Spiller (plus, duh, they’re the team that traded Lynch in the first place).

In the AFC North, you know damn well Baltimore is re-signing Ray Rice, so forget about it.  The Steelers would be an AWESOME fit for a guy like Beastmode, but they’re still stuck with Mendenhall (plus, they NEVER fork over money on free agents).  Cincy won’t fork over the money it’ll take either.  And the Browns – in spite of his sub-par season – will most likely re-sign Hillis (plus, they’ve got a stable of young backs they could easily throw into the mix should Hillis go elsewhere).

The AFC South has three teams that are simply non-starters.  Houston has not one but TWO massively effective running backs (Foster, who’s a fantasy god; and Tate who – as a backup – nearly ran for 1,000 yards).  The Titans have Chris Johnson and his massively insane contract.  And the Jags have one of the better all-around guys in MJD.

The Indianapolis Colts, however, are a God damned wild card and I just don’t like it!  Now, for starters, if they opt to keep Peyton Manning, then you can just skip to the next paragraph right now, because they won’t have two cents to rub together.  But, let’s say they let him and his $28 million walk:  suddenly, they’re in play!  They will have a rookie quarterback starting from Game 1.  They don’t have a single running back worth a good God damn on their team.  And, the organization will have to do something for its fans to make up for the fact that they just let go of a Hall of Famer (especially if he goes to another team and starts kicking ass again).  I wouldn’t put it past the Colts to do something drastic; mark my words.

In the AFC West, we’re talking about teams who are all pretty much set.  The Chiefs will be looking for Jamaal Charles to bounce back from an early-season season-ending injury in 2011.  The Broncos still have Willis McGahee and Knowshon Moreno.  And the Raiders will still have McFadden; if they re-sign Michael Bush, then all the more reason for them to NOT sign Lynch.

So, aside from the Seahawks, we’re talking about four potential teams:  Detroit, Green Bay, New England, and Indianapolis.  All have ample reasons to sign a back like Lynch; all have ample reasons to not do a damn thing.  There will be other, cheaper options out there (Hillis, Bush, Mike Tolbert, Cedric Benson, Tashard Choice, Justin Forsett, Ryan Grant) for teams like New England and Detroit to snap up, if they so choose to go the tightwad route.  Really, it’s tough to know exactly WHICH of these four teams would be the most likely, considering I don’t know what their cap situations are like.  If I were Green Bay or New England, though, I’d think long and hard.  Both teams were DAMN close this past season.  Both teams had very similar, pass-first types of offenses.  And both teams lost to the same team (the Giants) which could have been avoided had they had a running game.

Something to think about as these Beastmode negotiations continue.

The National Pastime Is Up For Debate

I absolutely love this discussion, I don’t know why.  I just find these major glacial shifts fascinating.

Of course, you could say the argument is over and has been for some time.  Football has been pulling in bigger ratings, making more money, and generating more fan interest for quite some time now when compared to baseball.  But nowhere was it more explicit, more black and white, than in the overnight numbers from Monday night.

A regular season, Monday night football game featuring two small-market teams without much in the way of big name stars beat out Game 3 of the ALCS featuring the Yankees and the Rangers.  Andy Pettitte vs. Cliff Lee.  A-Rod & Jeter & Mark Teixeira & Robinson Cano vs. Vladimir Guerrero & Josh Hamilton & the rest of these upstarts looking to take it to the defending champs in their home stadium.

That’s just what we knew going into those two games.  What transpired made it that much more galling.  A 30-3 snoozefest where both teams’ starting quarterbacks were knocked out in the first half beat out a game that was 2-0 going into the top half of the 9th inning where Lee was dealing and the Yankees were looking to make a dramatic comeback.  Now, the top of the 9th notwithstanding, WHY was anyone watching that football game?

I mean, I know why I was watching that football game.  I had a fantasy game to win, I had MJD and Tennessee’s defense, and with every Trent Edwards gaffe that game became more and more exciting.

I won’t discredit that argument, by the way.  What’s more popular right now in sports than Fantasy Football?  It gives the casual fan a reason to follow the game on a daily basis when they only play games 2 days a week most weeks.  It enhances those games you do watch because, even if you’re a fan of a horrible team, you can still root for the players on your fantasy team.  So, people are less apt to tune out once the Seahawks are down by 20 in the second half.  Aside from actual gambling, Fantasy Football is the best thing that’s ever happened to Real Football (and it’s about time these old dogs in the business finally realized what’s making their league the most popular in the country, so they should stop fucking discrediting where their bread is buttered).

Aside from that, if you just took the NFL out of it, Major League Baseball is doing itself no favors.  They’re not doing a damn thing to market their league to the younger fanbase.  Here are the usual suspects:

  • The Games Are Too Long
  • The Games Start Too Late
  • There Are Too Many Games
  • Chicks Dig The Long Ball
  • There Are No Stars
  • There Are Too Many Off-Days In The Playoffs
  • The Yankees & Red Sox Always Win

As for the first point, there’s nothing they can do about it without completely revolutionizing the game.  What are they going to do, make all the games 6 innings long?  Would that even be considered baseball at that point?

The second point is much more valid.  Games starting too late.  Take this series with the Yankees and Rangers; most games are starting at 5pm PDT.  That’s 8pm where it counts (on the East Coast, where most of the country’s citizens live).  That means that the game is dragging on into the 11 o’clock hour.  Now, if you’re a kid in elementary or middle school, are your parents necessarily going to let you stay up until midnight – on a school night – to watch a baseball game?

These are the fans of tomorrow, you understand this right?  You know how cigarette companies would market their product to children, so they could cultivate future generations of smokers?  That’s what baseball should be doing, but isn’t.  Football, on the other hand, starts in the early afternoon for most people (in the morning for us west coasters).  A kid can wake up, sit with his pop, and watch a bunch of football all day and still be in bed at a reasonable hour.  That same kid can see, maybe, 6 innings of a baseball game before his mom comes in and throws the gauntlet down (which sucks, because all the action happens in those last three innings while he’s asleep).

Too many games in the regular season?  You betcha.  It’s a grind.  You either have to root for a winning ballclub or be a real fan’s fan to withstand such a grind.  But, again, what’s baseball gonna do?  They’re not going to take money out of their pockets by reducing the number of games; that’s rediculous!

The lack of exciting home runs and home run chases I’ve discussed before.  That kind of corresponds with the lack of stars; the more homers you hit, the more popular you become.

These off-days in the playoffs are pretty rediculous.  It shouldn’t take 10 days to complete a 7-game series.  The season ended October 3rd; it’s now October 20th and we’re only in the middle of the second round.  It’s not fair to the fans to drag this shit out and it’s not fair to the players who have to sit around and wait forever.

As for the Yankees and the Red Sox, again, what are you going to do?  It’s a free market.  I just wish my team knew that.  At least for the casual Mariners fan, if you’re still remotely interested in the sport of baseball, you can always root AGAINST the Yankees and the Red Sox whenever they’re on TV.  That’s better than nothing I guess.

The debate is over.  Baseball has lost.  The NFL is king.