Yesterday I met up with some friends at their new, local, watering hole to watch both baseball games. They’d just moved into the neighborhood but liked the joint. Somewhere during the Cubs game I noted that, while Tony Campana may be the fastest player in baseball, he really needs to work on his hitting. A kid like him could hit a blooper into right and end up on 3rd. But, as of right now, his swing is awful and teams are playing the bunt.
That led an elderly gentleman near me to stand up and put his cane about an inch from my left eye and issue the following proclamation;
“We, sir, are Cubs fans. We do not need you, or your facts, ruining anything for us. We know what we know and we need know no more. If you and your fact spouting friends can’t appreciate that then I suggest you take that stuff to another bar.”
And then he sat down and continued muttering to his beer. But what happened next was what made the day complete. Two more people wearing Cubs hats brushed past me like I’d farted in church to go and console the old man. My friends and I still had no idea what we’d done wrong. Finally a local took pity on us and explained. She said that I had used logic and reason when discussing the Cubs and that kind of stuff upsets the regulars who, religiously, believe that this is the year ..... every year. The fact, there’s that ugly word again, that I was right and had said nothing derogatory mattered not the slightest. It was the same reason they refused to watch any sporting news in the bar.
Sure enough, as soon as the Cubs game ended they switched to the military channel and watched the history of tanks. We, on the other hand, watched the Sox on a different TV. No one cared if we used facts to discuss the Sox.
Paul Hagen, of MLB.com, was at the Cubs game and does his best to avoid using facts.
Oh, who am I kidding? This article is festooned with the damn things.
Cubs right-hander Ryan Dempster, a proud Canadian and hockey fan, had tickets for the Philadelphia Flyers’ playoff game across the street from Citizens Bank Park on Sunday. The only problem was that it started an hour-and-a-half after the scheduled first pitch of his team’s game against the Phillies.
No problem. After allowing a soft leadoff single to Jimmy Rollins in the bottom of the first, Cubs starter Matt Garza reeled off 18 straight outs. He struck out 10, but also got the Phillies to pop up or ground out early in counts, moving the game along.
Two hours and 33 minutes after it started, the Cubs had an efficient 5-1 win and Dempster was out the door.
Garza went seven innings and allowed just that single and a one-out walk to Juan Pierre in the seventh.
“When he’s right he can compete with [the top pitchers in baseball],” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “He has four pitches as well as velocity. He can go from 91 with his sinker, then four-seam it up in the zone to get popups and swing-and-misses. He’s got a very good knack for what he is doing.”
Garza was asked if he thinks he can be even more dominating than he was against the Phillies. “If I don’t get in my own way. If I don’t try to think too much,” he said with a smile.
While Phillies manager Charlie Manuel has been trying to get his hitters to be more patient at the plate, Garza prevailed with an approach that was exactly the opposite.
“My game plan was to keep them off-balance and try to induce weak ground balls or weak popups. And it worked,” Garza said.
The Phillies have scored two or fewer runs a dozen times already this year, so Pierre was asked if Sunday’s outcome had more to do with Garza being so good or the Phillies’ hitters continuing to struggle.
“I guess a mixture of the two,” he said. “He threw strikes. He had control over three of his pitches. He’s always a tough guy to face. We couldn’t put any pressure on him. It’s a little easier when you have a guy in scoring position, but we didn’t have one against him.”
With Garza and Dempster, who is scheduled to return from the disabled list to start at Cincinnati on Thursday, Sveum thinks he has the makings of a competitive rotation. He talked before the game about how it would still be up to the offense to score enough runs, then watched in satisfaction as his hitters executed sound fundamentals and took advantage when they got a couple of breaks.
In the second inning, Jeff Baker faced Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick with Bryan LaHair on second and none out. He ripped a line drive to right that was misjudged by Hunter Pence and it sailed over his head for a double. LaHair had to stop at third, but scored when Ian Stewart played small ball by grounding out to second.
“Baker crushed that ball, so sometimes those are some of the tougher balls, especially for opposite outfielders,” Sveum said. “But we ended up taking advantage of it and took the lead there, which is huge.
“We did some great situational hitting. Got guys over, got them in, did a nice job there. The timely hitting and the situational hitting was great.”
In the third, Tony Campana led off with a single and went to second when first baseman Ty Wigginton couldn’t handle a pickoff attempt. Campana reached third on an infield out and scored on a sacrifice fly by Starlin Castro. The play at the plate was so close that Manuel briefly argued the call.
Campana also reached on an infield single in the eighth. He stole second and was sacrificed to third, and scored on a grounder even though the Phillies had the infield in. The speed of the outfielder, who was called up from Triple-A Iowa on April 21, has had a significant impact on this series. On Friday night, he had two infield hits and scored both times.
“He’s done a great job,” Sveum said. “If he’s able to hit and get on base, it opens up a lot. Go on contract when he’s on third and it’s going to be very, very difficult to ever throw him out on any ground ball. You’ve got to be perfect with the throw. We scored two runs on just flat out speed, that’s all it was. Anybody else you don’t even think about sending him on that [shallow] a fly ball, but a guy like that you send him on just about anything that’s not on the infield dirt.”
Said Garza: “He’s just too quick. If I was facing him, it would be a pain in the butt. You want him to hit the ball hard. He’s one of the few where you want him to hit the ball hard. You want him to get it up in the air. Because if he hits it on the ground, nine out of 10 times he’s going to be safe. It’s awesome for us, for the other guys it’s a pain.”
Memo to Sox 3rd base coach; if you have a Campana on your team you can send him from first to home. This does not work with Dunn or Konerko.
Here’s the deal with the Cubs. They have holes but they also have talent. If they truly buy into what Sveum’s selling they may keep me from busting out my wallet this October. It will also make it easier for them to keep Garza. Which they have to do if they are serious about contending in the next couple of years.
On the Southside, where they are comfortable with facts and know not to pervert a hot dog with ketchup (something you can do at Wrigley), Scott Merkin was at the game and he watched as Gavin Floyd teased us until we were ready to blow our loads and then left us unfulfilled and aching for more.
There seemed to be a slight difference of opinion as to how much thought was given to Gavin Floyd’s no-hit bid during the course of a 4-1 White Sox victory over the Red Sox on Sunday.
White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski said that sort of special stuff doesn’t come up in conversation until the seventh or eighth inning. Manager Robin Ventura wasn’t sure if a no-hitter or perfect game could be visualized, but he admitted that people were probably doing just that in the finale of this four-game series.
As for Floyd and his on-field victims, who were hitless for 6 1/3 innings? Well, a history-making performance certainly did cross their minds in the formative stages of this two-hour, 58-minute affair.
“Absolutely. Especially since Phil [Humber] did it recently, so it was natural,” said Floyd, referring to Humber’s perfect game in Seattle on April 21. “But, obviously, you’ve got to put it behind you. Your object is to get in there as late as you can and if it happens, it happens. You’ve just got to keep your focus and keep attacking.”
“For me, it started after the third inning,” said Boston left fielder Cody Ross of Floyd’s zip job. “He’d gone through the lineup once around and we didn’t get a hit or a walk. I was thinking to myself, ‘He’s got the stuff today to make something happen.’ Fortunately, we weren’t on the receiving end of that.”
Ross became the first baserunner against Floyd (2-3) in the fifth inning, when he drew a two-out walk. Prior to that free pass, Floyd had gone to three-ball counts on three other hitters and hadn’t given up anything resembling a hit.
No spectacular plays or lucky breaks were needed.
Floyd carried his no-hitter into the seventh, with Ryan Sweeney striking out to open the frame. Dustin Pedroia got ahead in the count at 2-1 and then grounded a single up the middle that was just out of the diving attempt by second baseman Eduardo Escobar.
That Pedroia hit brought an end to Floyd’s fourth career start in which he threw at least six hitless innings.
“Just pitching like he normally does,” said Ross of Floyd, who fanned nine and walked one in improving to 7-0 lifetime against the Red Sox. “He was spotting with his fastball, getting his breaking ball over for strikes and then burying it late, working both sides of the plate. He kept us off-balance. He was throwing curveballs in hitters’ counts. It was just a great job on his part.”
“Gavin pitched well and deserves a ton of credit for the way he held down a lineup that has been hot,” Pierzynski said. “There was never a thought of perfect game or no-hitter or any of that stuff. You are trying to get through because you know at any moment they could strike for a bloop and then a home run and they are right back in the game.”
The Red Sox (10-11) didn’t get that bloop and a blast. But David Ortiz got to Floyd for a two-out double after Pedroia’s hit, and Ross singled home Pedroia to break the shutout. That hit also brought in Addison Reed from the bullpen after Floyd’s 111 pitches, with the right-hander retiring Nick Punto on a grounder to first baseman Adam Dunn.
Matt Thornton followed up Reed after a two-out walk in the eighth issued to Mike Aviles and retired the final four hitters to record his first save since July 2, 2011, at Wrigley Field. The talk on this afternoon was about Floyd, who, according to Pierzynski, changed his pitching style against the red-hot Red Sox.
“He had a good curveball, but the thing he did best was he used his fastball more than he has in a long time,” Pierzynski said. “He threw it in big situations, where as the last few years, that’s been a slider. Today, he threw some fastballs and I think he surprised them. He just had such a good fastball and kept throwing them by guys that we kept going to it.”
“What Gavin and Jake [Peavy] did the last two games, after seeing what their offense could do in the first two games, it was amazing,” Thornton said. “I thought we were going to see something really special again. Instead, it was just an unbelievable outing, and a great, great start for him.”
Dunn supplied the difference on offense, giving the White Sox an 11-11 record as the month of April comes to a close and putting an end to Boston’s season-best six-game winning streak. Dunn’s two-run blast off Josh Beckett (2-3), a titanic clout covering 419 feet down the right-field line, completed a three-run first inning.
Alejandro De Aza opened the frame with a single, was sacrificed to second by Brent Lillibridge and scored on Alex Rios’ single to left. Dunn connected on a 3-1, 92-mph fastball for his fifth homer and 15th and 16th RBIs.
“Whenever you get a guy like him, you gotta score early,” said Dunn of getting to Beckett. “He’s a workhorse, man. Those guys only get better. Usually your best chance to get runs is early and we were able to do that.”
This early outburst gave Floyd room to work in pursuit of the franchise’s 19th no-hitter. He didn’t hit that goal but ended the club’s season-worst five-game losing streak.
“It’s always good to end a five-game losing streak,” said a smiling Ventura, leaving no room for debate on that topic.
Beckham would have caught that ball that Escobar tried to turn into a highlight reel moment. Dear Mr. Escobar, knock off the drama and just catch the damn ball.
Still, it was a great game to watch.
Sox pitching has been a joy to behold all year (for the most part) and the team has shown that it can hit. If it learns to do that consistently this could be a fun year.
Also, to the gentleman from Sports Illustrated who emailed me; I can certainly understand Conflict of Interest rules. That being said, you are more than welcome to join our members in October and claim a drink from me if I’m wrong. However, I fully expect you to buy the first round if I’m proved right.
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The only thing that keeps me from becoming the crazy cat guy who lives in that corner apartment with the funny smells is the people I meet through my writing and he occasional retired stripper. Yet, that’s enough. And, in the end, it probably buys me some karma points to let my cat sleep behind me anxiously awaiting a Vesuvian eruption of methane. I mean, how many of you can make someone happy with pockets of explosive gas?
Yeah, until Pumpkin came into my life my answer was the same.
That being said I, unlike our baseball teams of late, am making someone happy.
Michael Radano, from MLB.com, was at the Cubs game and relays their woes.
The news has been nothing but good concerning Cubs right-hander Ryan Dempster and his impending return from the 15-day disabled list with a strained right quad, which could be as soon as Thursday.
That left Saturday night’s starter, Randy Wells, in a precarious position. The veteran made his second start in Dempster’s place, and a solid outing could mean a spot in the Cubs’ bullpen and not a trip to Triple-A Iowa.
“I don’t even want to talk about that,” Wells said. “It’s beyond my control. I don’t even want to talk about it.”
“I don’t know if we sent him down [earlier this year] to work on his command,” manager Dale Sveum said. “It was more numbers than anything else. We have to pitch in the strike zone to have success at this level, but we’ll cross that bridge [and what we do with Wells] when we get to Thursday.”
Against the Phillies on Saturday, Wells started well, and then the fourth inning derailed all the positives as the Cubs lost, 5-2, at Citizens Bank Park. Wells allowed four runs on three hits and four walks over 3 2/3 innings, while the Cubs (7-14) struggled offensively against the Phillies’ No. 5 starter, Joe Blanton.
“Yeah, it’s too bad; he was pitching pretty well,” Sveum said. “Then he just couldn’t find the strike zone. He couldn’t even find it against [Blanton]. It was too bad, because things were looking pretty good going into that inning and the lineup was setup pretty good to just run right through it.”
The Cubs held a 1-0 lead courtesy of a two-out RBI double from Bryan LaHair in the first inning, and Wells cruised into the fourth having not allowed a hit. With a light rain falling, the Phillies (10-11) looked to three-hole hitter Hunter Pence, who opened the inning with a double inside the third-base bag. A walk and a fielder’s choice put runners at first and third with one out.
Wells walked Laynce Nix to load the bases, and Carlos Ruiz followed with a two-run single up the middle to give the Phillies a 2-1 lead.
After getting Peter Orr to fly out following Ruiz’s hit, Wells faced Blanton with two outs and proceeded to walk the opposing pitcher on four pitches. Wells was beside himself for failing to go after Blanton, a career .116 hitter with six walks over nine seasons entering Saturday.
“That fourth inning, I just tried to get too fine,” a visibly annoyed Wells said. “Walks will kill you. It’s just inexcusable, really. All walks in general, but to walk the pitcher to keep the inning going, that’s pretty brutal.
“Leadoff doubles aren’t going to kill you. You have to pitch around that and get outs when you can. I had a pretty good changeup going and the game plan was working. I got away from it, lost the changeup because I threw too many, and then brought the hitters back in counts. And, of course, the walk to the pitcher was unacceptable.”
Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins followed with a double into the right-field corner that scored a pair of runs and ended Wells’ night.
“We were very patient that inning and got four walks,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.
Blanton (2-3), meanwhile, kept the Cubs on their heels as he worked 7 1/3 solid innings in which he allowed eight hits and struck out eight.
“He had his offspeed stuff,” Sveum said. “He was using it for strikes, he was locating it and getting ahead, and just going from there, really. With that offspeed stuff, he’s always capable of doing that, and when he’s locating and getting ahead, you know, working his fastball in, he is really tough.”
“I felt like I had a good curveball and my slider was pretty good out of the gate, but what made those decent was that I was able to locate my fastball a little better than I was able to in the last couple games,” said Blanton, who also benefited from the comfort of his home ballpark. “You throw here more than any other place, so there’s definitely a comfort level when you’re out there. You’re in your home clubhouse. You’re in your own weight room. You know where everything is. You’re in front of your home fans, and that’s always good.”
All of that worked against Wells in the fourth, and that’s all that really mattered on this night.
Just FYI, The Cubs can actually win their series today but they still haven’t strung three wins together in a row. But my guess is that fans will take back to back series wins over championship caliber teams.
At least the smart ones will.
Kerry Walls, also from MLB.com, was at the Sox game and watched Jake Peavy lower his ERA to a negative number.
Jake Peavy certainly did his part on Saturday night.
Chicago’s ace allowed just one run while tossing his second straight complete game. Unfortunately, that one blemish was enough to send the offensively-challenged White Sox to their fifth straight loss in a 1-0 defeat to the Red Sox at U.S. Cellular Field.
It’s the first time in Peavy’s career he’s completed back-to-back starts.
“I’m pleased with the way I performed,” Peavy said, “but at the same time, losing’s losing. It’s tough to get beat, especially on your good day.”
“For us, Jake’s been pitching like that all year,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “It’s unfair for you to expect that every time he’s goes out. He just continues to impress and pitch brilliantly. That’s the frustrating part. You get a pitching performance like that and don’t take advantage.”
Peavy was cruising from the get-go, tossing three hitless innings with four strikeouts. But the Red Sox broke through in the fourth when Adrian Gonzalez—Peavy’s former teammate in San Diego—singled home the lone run, ending Peavy’s scoreless streak at 17 innings.
“I just have to make a better pitch to Gonzalez there,” said Peavy. “That’s who he is. You make a mistake to him, he’s going to make you pay.”
“[Peavy] got hurt a couple of years ago and he’s back to his old self,” Gonzalez said. “Locating pitches and just attacking the strike zone.”
Red Sox starter Jon Lester was just as brilliant on this night, though, coming up with his best performance on the young season. He allowed five hits and struck out seven in seven shutout innings.
“Those games are fun,” Lester said. “It’s just a battle. I’ve been on the other end of those. You feel like you do everything you can to put your team in position to win, and the other guy just does a little bit more or you don’t get the timely hitting or whatever.”
The White Sox missed a chance to take the lead in the first inning when Adam Dunn was unable to score from first on Paul Konerko’s double after left fielder Cody Ross misplayed the ball in the corner. The White Sox would have a runner in scoring position in the fourth, seventh and eighth innings, but couldn’t deliver the clutch hit.
“I don’t know if [Dunn] is still going to make it for sure,” Ventura said. “He saw Ross getting over there in front of it, so he didn’t think he was going.
“You can look back and see little things that you had opportunities. Tip your hat to Lester for getting out of those situations.”
Peavy’s allowed just two runs over his last three starts with a 0.72 ERA. Still, a loss is a loss for the veteran right-hander, no matter how his pitching line reads.
“I’m giving you all I got,” he said. “That’s a great team across the way. When Jon Lester puts it all together, he’s mighty tough. I wish I could’ve done a little bit more to keep that run off the board, give us a chance.”
Way to fall on the sword there Jake baby. But, and fans have seen this opera before, the team seems to have forgotten how to hit. Not every pitcher is Cy Young’s progeny.
Really, you can trust me on that.
But, let’s face facts, if things keep up like this all season there will people lining up behind me put themselves out of their misery with one quick whiff.
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Once again it’s time for our first annual blog from South Side Slim prognosticating the NBA playoffs - Round 1.
I’ve got to admit that this is one of the most difficult posts I’ve had to write. In my mind the Bulls are the best team in the NBA. While they finished in a tie for the best record, they also went 18-9 without Derrick Rose. That winning percentage would’ve 4th in the NBA overall. That’s the problem. I want to be objective and am afraid that I’m over looking something.
I’m first going to look at the west. Then I’ll look at the east. Then an overall summary of both.
Clippers against Memphis.
This 4 against 5 match-up seems to favor Memphis. They have a better defensive record and a greater point differential. You’ll be tired of me saying that defense wins championships (or playoff series) but that seems to be the case here.
Lakers against Denver
I’m not terribly sold on the Lakers. Besides external problems, they’re also play against a team that used to high altitude. There’s less than a point per game separating the two (Lakers favor), but I would be surprised if the Nuggets pulled it out.
Thunder against Dallas
The only thing that I can see that Dallas has as its advantage is being defending champions. That and they’re better defensively. If one of the top four is going to be eliminated, this is probably the one.
San Antonio against Utah
ED NOTE: This is the one that Slim forgot.
Celtics against Hawks
This is one that I think that the road team will take it. I think that the Celts are too old and the Hawks too young. Besides, the Hawks had a better record.
Pacers against Magic
Dwight Howard’s gone for the year. Do I need to say more?
Heat against Knicks
This is rather simple. The Heat have too much offense, the Knicks too little defensive.
Bulls against 76ers
This should be a sweep. The Bulls lead in so many defensive statistics it’s hard to see how the 76ers can win.
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Regular readers here know that I’m a cynical bastard and deserve to be flogged. Preferably by ….. oh, wait, you probably don’t need, or want, to know that. Anyway, Big Star (who provided the pic I am using today) brought a story to my attention that is a little off my beaten path.
Oh, don’t worry, it involves a smoking hot cheerleader and lots of perky bouncing and stuff. But it also has this unusual feel good element that is very unlike me. You see, Corina Jane, like our cookbook contributor Ann Sheehan once was, is a member of the Adrenaline Rush Dancers. That is the cheer squad for, indoor football’s biggest stars, The Chicago Rush.
She’s also a cancer survivor.
Did you know that if you Google “smoking hot cancer survivor” you will end up on a Kylie Minogue video shoot? Now you do.
That’s not bad company to keep as far as I’m concerned.
Anyway, Corina took a few moments out of her busy schedule to chat with me, remind me that she has a boyfriend and talk about her new goal; representing the Rush at the upcoming Arena Bowl.
JTJ: You’ve been a cheerleader for the Chicago Rush since last year. Have you always been a part of cheer squads?
CJ: I love being part of dance teams because there is a friendship among the girls that is so unique and special. I joined my first dance team in high school then I was on my college danceline in Louisiana. I took a couple years off after graduation and my diagnosis and I missed being part of a dance team so bad. That’s probably one of the many reasons why I appreciate this team so much.
JTJ: Almost four year ago you were diagnosed with Leukemia. How badly did that disrupt your life?
CJ: I was diagnosed in 2009 and it came as a huge shock. I was getting ready to move to Texas for graduate school and was diagnosed 5 days before I was scheduled to leave. I reluctantly had to change my plans because I thought it would be best for me to be with my family as I went through treatment. The first few months were really bad. As the medication treated my bone marrow I experienced a lot of bone pain and nausea. For awhile I could not walk and I was terrified that I would never dance again. I will always be on my medication but I am so very lucky that I have minimal symptoms now.
JTJ: When did you finally realize that you’d made that turn and could beat cancer?
CJ: I don’t think it was ever a question for me. I didn’t know how my body would react but my mind was determined to kick the little monster to the curb from day one. I realized that my body was doing what I wanted when my white blood count began dropping shortly after I started treatment.
JTJ: You and your boyfriend both attend Northwestern State University in Louisiana. Does it bother him having you spend so much time in Chicago?
CJ: I am actually very lucky because I got a Texas boy to move up here and be with me. If you know anyone from Texas you know how hard it is to get them up north!
(ED NOTE: B3’s last ex-wife is from Texas)
JTJ: You were nominated to represent the Rush at the Arena Bowl. What would that entail if you make the final cut?
CJ: I would get to be a part of the Net 10 dream team at the ArenaBowl in New Orleans. From what I hear I would be dancing all day and working my butt off but it will be a once in a lifetime opportunity! I would also get to see many of my Louisiana family and not to mention eat some good Louisiana food!
JTJ: Where can fans find you online and when can they vote to help you get to the Arena Bowl?
CJ: I have a facebook page online where I will be keeping everyone updated on the voting process. It is http://www.facebook.com/VoteForCorina. The voting will take place at arenafootball.com
Thank you in advance to all those that decide to vote for me!
JTJ: You’re welcome.
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Long have we raged about the stupidity of All Star games. Excluding the MLB game, where the players actually play, most All Star or Pro Bowl games are a waste of time. It would be better for all to just have the players show up, do an elaborate meet and greet with the fans and go home safely.
Or they could go back one of those Battle of the Network Stars kind of events. A ramped up version of a skills competition could be a lot of fun with the right cheerleaders.
Lots of things can be fun with the right cheerleaders.
Let’s face it, watching NFL players do everything in their power to avoid getting hit isn’t really conducive to anything useful.
When the damn thing was in Hawaii fans could, at least, watch hot girls in grass skirts, see stupid interviews and play along knowing that the game was meaningless.
Then some nimrod tried to make it meaningful. He placed it BEFORE the Super Bowl, ensuring that many of the best players couldn’t play and then watched as the ones who did show up ran like little girls away from anyone pretending to play defense.
It passed embarrasing and stupid five miles back.
Now Michael David Smith of MSNBC reports that the Pro Bowl may be coming to an end.
The quality of play in the Pro Bowl has deteriorated to such an extent that the NFL might just scrap it.
The idea for getting rid of the Pro Bowl entirely has picked up steam in recent years, and Chris Mortensen reported on ESPN Radio this morning that there’s talk of suspending the Pro Bowl as soon as this year: There might not be a Pro Bowl at all at the end of this season.
It’s still possible that the NFL could try to revive the Pro Bowl by giving the players greater incentive to play and play hard, or by creating a gimmick like having a team of rookies play against a team of veterans, or turning away from having a full-fledged game and instead emphasizing skills competitions like other sports have in conjunction with their all-star games. But it’s clear that the Pro Bowl is, if not dead, at least on life support.
One of the surprising aspects of the Pro Bowl is that, for as bad a football game as it is, it still draws good television ratings and turns a profit. Given that, it may be tough to convince the owners — who will ultimately make this decision — that the game should be scrapped.
But last year’s Pro Bowl was a joke of a football game, and the NFL doesn’t want its product to look like a joke. Something has to change, or else the whole thing will be done.
Chris Mortenson of ESPN has even worse things to say.
Many players who will be selected during this week’s NFL draft are regarded as future Pro Bowl selections, but the game itself likely will be suspended this season and beyond, according to league sources.
The next Pro Bowl is scheduled the week before the Super Bowl in New Orleans on Feb. 3, but a game site has not been listed because of its precarious status, sources added.
Sources say that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who has previously voiced his displeasure with the lack of competitiveness in recent Pro Bowl games, is strongly considering suspending this year’s game, sources say.
Beyond 2013, another league source believes the Pro Bowl is “DOA (dead on arrival).”
In response to ESPN’s report, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told The Associated Press on Thursday that “no determination has been made yet about this season’s game.”
If the game is suspended, the league still would have a Pro Bowl balloting process to identify the season’s top players and would direct teams to negotiate Pro Bowl clauses into player contracts and to honor Pro Bowl incentive clauses to avoid any serious conflict with the players association. Those players also likely would be honored in some fashion during Super Bowl week.
Goodell recently has asked players for suggestions to make the game more attractive but has yet to embrace a solution, sources said.
Even those within the league who support continuance of the game have been unable to persuade Goodell that the game has merit alone on reasonably strong television ratings.
However, the diminishing quality of play has weighed more heavily on the commissioner, who believes it reflects poorly on the league and its players. Sources say Goodell does not hold any ill-will toward the players’ lackluster effort because of player safety issues.
Goodell said in February that eliminating the game was under consideration. In an appearance on ESPN Radio’s “Mike and Mike in the Morning” on Super Bowl Sunday, he said the league must address the quality of the game and even said he would consider eliminating it if it can’t be improved upon.
The AFC routed the NFC 59-41 in last season’s Pro Bowl, which drew boos at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu for its lack of early intensity.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers had said that some of his NFC teammates “embarrassed themselves” with the effort they gave in the game.
I’ll make it simple. Kill the Pro Bowl and replace it with an interactive fan event where the best players get honored, not humiliated.
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