The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Integrity loses out in NFL, baseball
ARE PROFESSIONAL sports crazy or what? The National Football League finally ended the lockout with its officials and they will be back on the field tomorrow.
But the league lost a lot of integrity by using replacement officials the first three weeks of the season. What a mess! Blown calls. Uncertainty about the rules. Games that went on forever because the men in stripes had to confer with some league official after almost every play.
In fairness to replacement officials, they did the best they could. They just weren’t ready for the NFL. It was like taking a high school running back and putting him in the Denver Broncos’ backfield.
He couldn’t handle it.
So how much money was at stake in negotiations with the regular officials? From what I have read, about $60,000 per man.
All that fuss over $60,000 per official from owners who, like Daniel Snyder of the Redskins, are billionaires.
Sixty thousand dollars! Do you know what the Dallas Cowboys franchise is worth? Well, it was $1.8 billion in 2010, according to Forbes magazine.
The Redskins? That franchise was worth $1.6 billion that same year. In fact, between 2000 and 2010, the Redskins reportedly averaged $76 million in annual operating revenue. The Cowboys reportedly took in $350 million in 2009 alone.
And these guys were willing to sacrifice the integrity of the game for $60,000 a man? Some of the highest-paid NFL players get that much for each practice session.
In any sport or any business, the level of professionalism must be uniform. Players, coaches and officials must be of the same quality if everything is to work properly.
The NFL has found that out.
Now on to baseball.
Those who don’t follow the game closely may not realize that until he disqualified himself, San Francisco Giants’ outfielder Melky Cabrera was in line to win the National League batting title.
So what’s the problem? Cabrera is serving a 50-game suspension for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs.
In other words, Cabrera cheated to get his .346 batting average.
But, even after a decade (1995–2004) of rampant steroid use among players, an era that saw offensive statistics fly so far off the charts they were ridiculous, Major League Baseball has no rule prohibiting a player on suspension from winning a batting title or home run championship.
It was Cabrera himself who suggested that he not be eligible to win the batting title. I’m surprised Major League Baseball agreed.
In about a week, you’re likely to hear more screaming and yelling about Major League Baseball when the one-game wildcard playoffs are over.
To put more excitement in the pennant races, each league will send two wildcard teams to the playoffs this season.
Traditionally, baseball playoffs have been a series of games, either the best of five or the best of seven.
This year, however, the two wild cards in each league will play each other in a one-game playoff to determine who moves on.
Conceivably, the Atlanta Braves, for example, could, as a wildcard team, have a better record than the San Francisco Giants, who won the National League West.
The Braves’ reward? They play a one-game playoff and if they lose they go home.
Even if they win, the Braves are at a disadvantage in the next series because they have to throw their best pitcher in the one-game playoff.
What about a team such as the Washington Nationals, which may wind up with the best record in the league? Well, they will be forced to travel for the first two games of that initial series, thus losing the home-field advantage. That’s a big reward for having the best record in the league.
Yes, folks, Major League Baseball and NFL football are a mess. And don’t even get me started on the NBA.
Still, no matter how the baseball players cheat or how bad the NFL replacement officials are, fans still fill the stadiums and arenas and fork out the big bucks.
That’s how the Dallas Cowboys grossed $353 million in 2009.