Pierre as a young boy was a contrarian. He was the kind who favored The Plague over The Stranger, Beauvoir over Sartre, Henry over Zidane, the left rook’s pawn over the right rook’s pawn.
Pierre as a man retains so much of that contrarianism, but there is within him, he can now say, some sentiment for the Man, the Authority, the Establishment—in short, the common nouns that require proper capitalization.
It is with this perspective of the potentate in mind that I have reached a conclusion I once thought not possible. The NFL, that American Establishment of Establishments, must begin playing an 18-game season.
We can swim against the tide of history or we can ride it. The latter is not, however, a pure acquiescence, as our very presence causes change and rupture and redefinition—perhaps to meet our own needs.
And so we approach tremulously the Mordor of the 18-game concept. Continue reading
Let me set the scene for you: The Tigers and Rangers play a tight afternoon Game 2 that many do not see the end of, because they have turned instead to a mundane Monday Night Football contest between the Lions and the Bears. Oh my.
Let me reset the scene for you: The Tigers and Rangers play a tight afternoon Game 2 that stays in the afternoon, with nobody turning the channel. They achieve this with one simple alteration of baseball rules: A batter is only permitted one two-strike foul ball before he is called out.
As always, please, control your incredulity. Baseball, as a game, has gotten demonstrably slower over the years — not just because more batters are getting on base, but also because they’re taking longer to do so. Major leaguers averaged 3.81 pitches per plate appearance this season, just down from record numbers in recent years. Contrast that with 1988, the first year that Baseball-Reference tracked the stat, when plate appearances lasted a mere 3.59 pitches.* Continue reading
Let ESPN’s Brian Griese set the scene for you: “It’s almost like the TD was given; it’s all going to come down to the two-point conversion.”
Let NPI’s Pierre Menard reset the scene for you: “Nothing in college football’s overtime can possibly be described as ‘given.’”
We have spent so much time analyzing the inadequacies of professional football’s overtime logistics that we have overlooked the larger flaws in college’s practice of the extra session(s). We are lucky that Monsieur Griese was describing a game between his alma mater, Michigan, and Illinois—one that Pierre can safely say was, in all aspects, irrelevant and insignificant.
Yes, college football’s overtime, mon ami, is broken. It is too easy to score, and like its professional predecessor, places an unnecessary significance on the initial coin toss. Furthermore, it skews statistics, scores, and the very nature of the sport.
About a month ago, watching Arkansas and Georgia meet in a fairly exciting SEC football game, I saw something I hadn’t seen in a long time. On a fourth down in that “no-man’s land” (about the Georgia 40), Arkansas quarterback and Heisman Trophy candidate Ryan Mallett took a snap in the shotgun, and pooch punted inside the Georgia 10.
This got me thinking about how effective the pooch punt can be when used properly. And it also dawned on me that now, more than ever, certain elements are in place to promote a renaissance — if a brief one — of the pooch punt.
1. Teams go for it more on fourth down now.
Last year about this time, I laid out my plans for an entire postseason overhaul. This year, while standing by most of those innovative suggestions — the nine-game World Series, in particular — I want to revisit the aspect of the Major League Baseball postseason that I, and every baseball fan I know,* continues to find most troubling.
*I do not know John S.
I speak, of course, of the Division Series.
The Division Series — scourge of the favorite and the underdog alike, a duality best occupied, it seems, by the Minnesota Twins. The Division Series — where a season of tidings of comfort and joy can come crashing down in four days. The Division Series — where baseball’s postseason most trivializes its regular-season and creates fundamental questions regarding the justice of its champion. The Division Series — why does it drop the “League” when the LCS never does?*
*Methinks the answer lay in an aversion to a certain FX television program. Perhaps I’ve anthropomorphized too much. That, or they don’t want to confuse members of the Latter-Day Saints.