Fans Demand Change! by Bob Ryan

The championship games of the NFL really sparked strong responses from the fans. Those responses WILL provoke rule changes. Let’s take one at a time…

….the 1st game, the NFC championship witnessed an unbelievable “No Call” on …what seems to us in slow motion…as an obvious pass Interference. Had the flag been thrown, the New Orleans Saints could have ran time down and kicked a chip shot FG to win the game. It wasn’t!  Fans have screamed, cursed, probably threw things about the “no call”. It’s commonly agreed at this point that there actually was a penalty but no flag.  At this moment, the NFL hasn’t allowed “replay officials” to throw their own flags from the booth. For one….I wouldn’t be anxious for that….I mean…there’s holding on lineman and/or  d-backs almost every play in the NFL. We’d be opening a Pandora’s box…will the booth officials determine Motion penalties?  Holding penalties…ugh? Lining up inches offsides? Where will it stop?  If the booth DOES start calling penalties that had been overlooked….would the game take 5 hours?… instead of the almost 4 hours now? Btw…if you haven’t noticed…on many plays the play clock has reached zero….and the ball is snapped just slightly after it has stopped moving and the play goes on. Do we want a booth official….wiping out all these plays…adding 5 yards to the needed 1st down and slowing the progress of the game & offense? YOUR thoughts…how would you change these no calls?  All suggestions are appreciated and will be published with your initials. I really feel badly for New Orleans but…..bad calls ARE a part of the game…I’m willing to accept that…some fans are not. I will say my 15+ years of umpiring may have skewed my thoughts. Many fans who have never officiated, probably don’t understand the “instant” decision that must be made by the official and that some fans expect you to be right 100% of the time…usually the ones who haven’t ever officiated.

….the AFC championship game brought up a different issue…..the overtime procedure. The NFL often has very close games. In fact, we had 6 ties in regulation in the first 6 weeks THIS year….soooo….these tight, closely played games really are very common in the NFL. Currently the NFL has the coin toss, if the receiving team (team who won the coin toss) scores a TD…game is over. If it’s a FG, punt, or turnover… the losing team of the coin toss…now has a chance to win. We all know what happened, New England won the coin toss, marched right down the Field….put Tom Brady on their shoulders, had Bill Belichick give his customary 30 second “we’re happy to win” speech, then strut off the field holding the Rozelle Trophy (scary….I remember seeing Pete Rozell LIVE…I guess he just died yesterday). There have been numerous suggestions (11 in one article) to improve this type of OT….this wasn’t the 1st time that OT has ended in the playoffs on the 1st possession…as recently as 2016, in the divisional playoffs, the Arizona Cardinals, won toss…scored TD in 3 plays and the game was over… Green Bay’s offense never saw the field…in fact barely had time to blink as the Cards raced down the field. Although unpopular, there is evidence that this OT method is working…. in 25 of the 45 NFL seasons since OT was introduced… there were NO ties as the final score  for the entire season! If that’s what you want…no ties.

Let’s go back to the beginning….. I do believe the NFL responds to the fans ideas, feelings & emotions much quicker than any of the other major sports… Now they clearly see the unhappiness of the fans with the OT. However, keep in mind that the NFL owners have expressed the feeling that the players have “given their all” in the first 60 minutes…the owners must think that an extended OT will jeopardize the health and careers of their players. It’s a valid point…don’t know if I agree…but its valid. Sooo….let’s throw out playing playing OT in regular season, let those ties stand…it was a tie game period. I actually think that those tie games add more intrigue to the standings.  For post season…let’s make it simple… let’s go back to real, normal football…. but discard these ridiculous rules—each team must get the ball once, you win with a TD but not a FG, yada-yada-yada.  My premise is that the OT should be like a real football game. I would like to see a 5th quarter of 7:30 (1/2 as long as a normal quarter) length. Then it’d still be REAL football. Surely, each team will get the ball at least once…who can hold the ball for 7:30? For post season games, if still tied after 5 quarters, a 6th quarter of 6:00 minutes would be implemented…etc, etc…  7th quarter of 5 minutes, etc. Maybe even discard the coin toss to start this extra quarter. Possibly the team with the most offensive yards gets the ball. Or, maybe the team that came from behind to tie the game must kickoff . Or….some other, easily determined factor that actually ties in the play of the first 4 quarters into the OT…rather than a coin toss. Also…these OT stats would NOT count for individual or team offensive or defensive stats for the game or season. What are your ideas for OT? I know that there are many of you with great ideas….please share.

…Blues fans are deeply disappointed as “break” time in the NHL begins. What is YOUR suggestion for the Blues?  Glancing through the +/- stats is rather alarming. Several key players have poor marks. For example, Tarasenko is a -11 for the season; Brayden Schenn is at -10; Pat Maroon is -10 for the season; Ivan Barbashev holds a -9 mark; Jay Bouwmeester is -8. The ONLY double digit PLUS player is O’Reilley at +14. Recently, I saw a highlight of Tarasenko’s 1st game as a Blue…he was flying down the ice as he scored a goal. I’ve heard innuendo’s by commentators, especially in the off season,  about his “body conditioning”….ol’ South side interpretation—he doesn’t stay in shape year round! He does look slower to me…he doesn’t seem to have that extra zip on this shot or his step. I know everyone is hyped up about Bennington…yes…he has been solid (favorite word of most sports fans and announcers these days) but GK wasn’t the real problem in my mind…we’re 3-8 in regulation 1 goal games; 2-4 in OT and 0-1 in shootouts. If we were just .500 in those 1 goal games, we’d be in the post season hunt. We don’t score enough goals and most of our players don’t even LOOK like goal scorers. I’d like to see more skating in front of the net….not just 3-5ft outside the GK box…but  slashing across the middle to accept a pass for 10-25 feet away from the net, then shoot…you can shoot right, left, up, down…you aren’t limited as we are now with all these shots from steep angles along the boards…ooopps…they call it the “wall” now. I do think that the Blues, will have a difficult time unloading some of these heavy contracts of…seemingly… mediocre NHL players.

..while I’m thinking of hockey…why don’t the Blues have their top hockey minor league team right here in St. Louis? You’d increase the usage of the Enterprise Center. Charge minimal prices to get the youngsters into the arena to watch a game….to me….hockey in person is far superior in person to watching it on TV.  It’d be more use for the Center…..use only the “close” seats so you can REALLY see what’s happening on the ice. You could have special prices for kids…get them in the habit of watching hockey LIVE. I recall the ol’ days when SLU had hockey…it was great to go and watch the Bills under Bill Selmon. I’m guessing that the Soloman’s may have been behind the money ball on that one for SLU. Maybe…..it’d probably be a big loser financially…. so maybe it isn’t possible…but I’ll keep dreaming.

…..Cards fans are still a bit uneasy….yes, Goldschmidt is a good player but several questions continue to haunt many fans?  Will Ozuna be ready on time or will he have that rag arm again? From afar it doesn’t sound like Ozuna cares too much and may be anxious to leave StL as a free agent next year. I don’t think that the Cards expect to resign him. Some players really don’t like being under the microscope constantly…as they are in the Lou…they’d rather march to their own beat. I think that Ozuna may not even make it to the end of the year…he could be shipped out as a short term bat to a contender in August.  It depends upon the progress of the young Cardinals Outfielders in early 2019(especially O’Neill). Will Reyes EVER really live up to his hype? Some pitchers come all the way back from these extended arm issues…some never come back to their full “hype”.  Is Wong REALLY really the “man” for 2b?  Last year Wong’s 84.4 mph average exit velocity  from the plate was not only the lowest of his career but also ranked him a dismal 213th among the 227 MLB hitters with at least 250 plate appearances in 2018. This isn’t new for Wong… he’s actually been on steady decline in exit velocity for each of the past 4 seasons. It was 87 mph in 2015; dropped to 86 mph in ’16 and then to 85.1 mph in ’17. Is Wong’s outstanding defense strong enough with a…seemingly…potent offense? Some would say that you don’t need 8 “strong” hitters….but you DO need very strong up-the-middle defense. Wong has demonstrated some great range @ 2B. Or…will the Cards gently shove out Wong for Munoz at the starting 2B slot…and let him stay there? Or…with all the young SS in the Card system, will one of them become a 2B? I believe that this IS the make/break year for Wong and the direction that the Cards management decide to go with 2B…must it be a strong hitter or is a outstanding defensive 2b enough?

…SLU basketball fans may be starting to wonder…for 3 years now, Coach Ford’s roster has always shrunk to 10 or less available players as we approach the heart of the schedule. For example, in Saturday’s heartbreaking loss to Davidson, 4 players logged 36+ minutes each. That’s too much. By now…in his 3rd year…these are all HIS players. Does he drive them too hard physically and/or mentally and the players “break down”? Does he recruit too many athletes with background issues? Are the players equipped for the academic challenges? Is it just coincidence? Is it that the hours required in practice, watching films, weight room, meetings, etc is too strenuous? Is the expectation bar set too high collectively and individually? Is it just bad luck each year? I don’t know… but..I do know that a roster of 10 strong players seems essential as the teams wind their way through the key games of Jan-Feb-March.

…both baseball and football fans are anxious to see which way Kyler Murray will take his professional career. He’s already signed a $4.66m contract with the Oakland A’s after being drafted last year. Now…after his spectacular year as QB @ Oklahoma, he may be drafted in the 1st round of the NFL draft. We all know what 1st round QB are paid….rumors are he’s leaning to football. If he DOES go the football route, he’ll have to return that baseball bonus money. As a ol’ guy, I’d recommend to my son to stay in baseball….longer career, less chance of injury, more money in long run. On the other side, right now in the USA, football is king…don’t know if it’ll be that way much longer….but right now… the buzz is all about NFL & college football with special emphasis on quarterbacks. Already, some football pundits already have him pegged Murray as a middle 1st rounder despite his non-drop back style of throwing. Apparently, he’s similar to Lamar Jackson (Balt) who had good success this year. But…Murray throws the ball significantly better than Jackson and played a much higher level of opponents than Jackson did in college…it’s the brand new  style of QB entering the NFL. Btw….Drew Lock…who is much more the traditional style QB… also pops up in the 1st round of the in the forecasted draft that I was using. Looks like my forecast on him was off on his draft selection.

….StL fans are in disbelief that Andy Reid hired Steve Spagnuolo as his d-coordinator. Spags had a miserable run as the Rams Head Coach (11-41)….sooo….people around town aren’t jumping on his bad wagon. Last year he was the Defensive Coordinator for the Giants. The most important category for a DC (outside of winning games) is how many points did you allow and can you stop your opponents in the last 2 minutes of the game. His team looked like this….they were 16th (of 32) in points allowed–23.1ppg, the Chiefs were dead last in the NFL allowing 35.3ppg. If KC only gave up 23ppg, they’d be in the super bowl!! Although, a great deal of that has to do with the personnel…not just schemes…. so keep your eyes on the Chiefs in the upcoming draft and in the signing of free agents to improve their D.

….Vianney HS fans are in celebrating. Their Varsity Baseball Head Coach, Scott Brown, was named as the National HS Baseball Coach of the Year for 2018. The Golden Griffins baseball team won state this year but that really wasn’t a NEW thing for Coach Brown. In his 26 seasons has HC, he’s complied a 503-260 record (280-198@CBC; 223-62@Vianney). His clubs have won 18 district titles, been in 8 Elite Eight STATE finishes, 6 Final Fours, and has won the Metro Catholic Conference 8 times. Coach Brown now owns the most baseball wins at both CBC and Vianney! I had the unique distinction of being Scott’s 1st assistant on his 1st Varsity team @ CBC. Congratulations to him for his very successful achievement.

Scott Brown is a Member of the MO Baseball Coaches Association Hall-of-Fame & St. Louis Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame. Scott played at HS baseball @ Vianney under Head Coach Jerry Boeckmann then 2 seasons at Mizzou and 2 seasons at Illinois St. Univ. He played parts of 2 seasons in the Pirates organization (with the Bradenton Pirates our pitching coach was Bruce Kison and hitting coach was Hal McRae)

…Now I hope these blog fans made it to the bottom and some will respond to any part of these ideas. Send them to me…I’ll have them published with your initials…or any letters that you want me to use.

Comments

  1. Rob staggenborg says:

    Scott Brown is a first class guy and a winner. Happy to have worked for, and with, him at both CBC and Vianney. Great family as well with sons Matt and Chris and wife Wendy of course!

  2. Saints got hosed plain and simple
    Wish they did it like college football OT– both teams get a shot to score.
    My son Ty & I were at the White out yesterday. Amazes me how bad the free throw shooting
    is in college and pro basketball. They need to get Rick Barry out of retirement to teach these guys
    how to shoot them from the charity line! SLU look tired and sluggish too. Agree– Ford’s Bench is thinned.
    Not a big Spags fan; will be interesting how Chefs D will do next year.
    MB

  3. Way to go Coach Brown! I’m proud of his continued accomplishments and enjoyed seeing a little more about his baseball background.

    As for the NFL, I’d be fine with regular season ties. In the playoffs, I like the idea of playing out a complete, shorter 5th quarter. The advantages from winning a coin flip should be minimized, especially when so much is on the line.

  4. I agree that having the booth review for every play would not be a good solution. However, in the Saints/Rams game, because the “no” call was so flagrant and so obvious, if I were Sean Payton, I would have pulled my team off of the field and demanded that the referees huddle to resolve this travesty. Surely one of the 7 officials saw what happen. After all, they over rule each other all the time. How many times have you seen them pick up a flag? I guarantee you, the NFL would not have disqualified the Saints for not taking the field. After all, this was an NFC championship game and there is no way they would have decided the game by a forfeit. Think of how the folks in Las Vegas would have reacted to a forfeit. This might be a radical way for the Saints to have handled the situation, but it surely would have been better than the way it turned out. BK

  5. In my humble opinion, there is no need for all the OT quirks and fan ideas you listed. How much more simpler can it get. If you win the toss and score, the other team has the same chance. if they don’t beat or tie what you have done with the ball, then it becomes sudden death – whoever scores 1st. Who cares how long they are out there? With the stakes that high, play. That is what you train for. Make it only in the playoffs.

    I do like the ties in the regular season.

    Again, in my humble opinion, the Blues should be sellers. They are not going anywhere if they do male the playoffs. Shenn, Boumeister, Maroon, Steen – (I would still keep Tarasenko ) But I say shake it up We can survive the trade of anyone. The powers that be, know who/what the problems are.

    I am beginning to wonder about coach Ford. You made a lot of good points on his program. Mizzou is a long way from being a factor.

    Bring on spring training – I am tired of talking about what is or isn’t good/bad. Get on the field and lets see what happens -of course there still may be a number of free agents looking to get on said field. Do we have collusion Bob or just smarter owners??

    Let me know what happens in the Super Bowl. I would rather watch the Puppy Bowl than see either of these two teams win….
    JP#1

  6. John Gassner says:

    Very relevant topics, Bob. Look no further than the college overtime rule. When you win the toss, your DEFENSE goes out first! You know what you have to at least match, and hopefully beat when you get the ball, which you are going to get! Good Stuff, Bob !

  7. Its bulls##t that you work that hard as a team all season and then you get screwed out of playing in the Super Bowl due to an obvious missed call by a referee. Can you say REPLAY! BMc

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