May I call you Carson, as if I knew you? As if I'd even heard your name before a few weeks ago? And pretend that you are a long lost part of the family who just came home? Well, that's what I will do, because that's what happens here in the football world.
Welcome to Philadelphia. I'm sure many people have shaken your hand at this point and told you just how glad we are to have you here. I, also, happen to be glad you have come to be part of the Eagles' franchise. I am an Eagles fan, which means a lot of things. (You will find some of them here.) I won't expect you to be a savior, but I can't promise the same of many others in this town.
Also, so that you know, I am not a current resident of Philadelphia, though I was born within the city limits. At this time, I live about 60 miles outside of Philly, and the fan base is just as strong out here. Just thought you should know. Your fans are not limited to the 2 million or so that live in the city. Philly personality extends far. A lot of people are pulling for you!
Although your honeymoon here will probably last until about the first time you step on the field during a regular season game, I thought I would write to prepare you for what comes next. Even though you are from North Dakota, you may already have an idea what it's like in Philly, and as smart as you are, you have probably been studying a little bit about us lately too. But I want to talk to you as an insider here, so you don't get blown away the first time a snowball or rubber bracelet gets thrown your way.
Some things you should know about us in Philly:
1. We haven't won in a long, long time.
I bet you already know that. But we're not Cleveland - we're not okay with losing. We want to win in the worst way. (And we want to win every year in every sport.)
It's been a bit of a dry spell. Last championship we won was baseball in 2008. Last FOOTBALL championship that we WON was in 1960. Even I wasn't alive then. The Super Bowl hadn't been invented then. We are starving, man!
So, Philly fans might sound angry, but really we're just frustrated. Don;t take it personally. If you can be part of the solution, we won't complain about you as part of the problem.
2. We have a lot of heart.
As long as you do too, you'll be fine. We love animals. We're looking for someone to tear up the field and feast on their opponents.Tell us you hate the Cowboys, even if you don't. It will feed our fire. And you'll win a place in our hearts forever. (Unless we catch you talking about hoping for a trade there or something. That would be unforgivable.)
You can probably understand this, after reading number 1. We have come just close enough to winning the Super Bowl to make us hungry. We've seen it, and we want it. You might or might not help get us there, but you just better look like you're trying!
3. We don't put up with big shots who can't back it up. (Sometimes we don't even put up with big shots who CAN back it up.)
We dealt with T.O. (Terrell Owens, in case you are too young to remember.) We just got rid of Lesean McCoy, whom we loved while he was here, but when he left, well, we didn't want to put up with that kind of talk. There will be no badmouthing this city or its representatives on our watch. Ask Johnathan Papalbon how we feel about that.
We love our athletes. We expect them to work hard, and not run their mouth about it. So the Cowboys can have their rock stars and cut-off fashion divas . We don't care if you wear knock-off Nikes, as long as you put some hustle in them. From what we've seen of you so far, it doesn't look like we're going to have a problem with you at all. Weigh your words, and don't let us down!
4. Consider us fans your big brother.
Philadelphia means, as you may know, "City of Brotherly Love." So, we're going to love you like a brother. It might look like hate when we're beating on you, but deep down, we want to see you succeed. You will have a bad game somewhere along the line, and you will hear about it from us. We are quite unforgiving, especially in football, where we have a whole week to ruminate on a single game.
But, you know how it is when a brother can say anything he wants about his sibling, but watch out if anyone ELSE starts knocking on him? Yeah. Like that. You're our man. We're keeping you, and we'll defend you to the death (of our reputation) as along as you follow what I said above.
5. Sports is all we have. And Cheesesteaks.
Yeah, there's all that history and stuff, but the Patriots have that too AND they have Tom Brady.
So, we are glad to have you here. The whole reason the organization decided to trade up 6 spots to make sure we could get you is because we need some rock solid shoulders on which to rest our dream of a successful football future. We want our future now, and you will hear us begging your coach to start you in Game 1. As I mentioned, we have run low on patience. But, if he's smart he'll wait and give you a little time first. (Coach is new too, so we're not sure what he'll do yet!) In the meantime, keep working hard. Show up (on time) to all meetings and practices, because we're even taking note of that kind of stuff. Be smart, watch what you say, and no one here will have anything bad to say. We're a tough crowd to win over, but once you have, we won't give up on you. We really want to see you win, because your win is our win, and we want it! Just like the little brother we never had.
Wishing you all the best,
Eagles fans everywhere
Yep. I'm in one of those moods again. Must be because the Eagles beat the Cowboys this week. In Dallas.
Time to come back to this blog with an edge of silliness. (I might as well apologize right now to the die-hard sports fans, though I don't suspect they are the majority who visit here.)
Remember the days when football was so new and confusing that you had no idea what language the commentators were even speaking? For some of you, that may be yesterday, or even today. Let's make fun of you now, shall we?
Here are several football terms that sound kind of funny if you don't know what they mean, and what they COULD mean if you aren't into football:
1. Pick 6:
Real Meaning: An interception leading to a defensive touchdown.
To a Non-Football Person: Deciding which six players on the other side of the ball aren't contributing much value to the game.
2. Free Safety
Real Meaning: A defensive player in the secondary who guards against the pass.
To a Non-Football Person: No one gets to hurt me! And I don't have to pay for a bodyguard!
3. Twelfth Man
Real Meaning: The advantage of the noise created by the home team fans to act as an aide to the defense by being loud enough to block the quarterback's audible.
To a Non-Football Person: The coach? Maybe the water boy? Oh! Or the ref that gets in the way of the play.
Real Meaning: The signal the quarterback calls before the snap - especially important if it differs from the play discussed in the huddle.
To a Non-Football Person: Being able to hear the person next to you at the game.
5. Wide Out
Real Meaning: A receiver who splits the the outside after the snap.
To a Non-Football Person: That big fat guy on the end. No one wants to be near him. Poor guy.
Real Meaning: When all the defenders go in to tackle the QB.
To a Non-Football Person: Germans invading at half-time. Possibly with sausages.
7. Nickel Defense
Real Meaning: Replacing a linebacker with another defensive back to protect against the pass.
To a Non-Football Person: Really bad defense that's just not worth very much.
Real Meaning: Blocking from behind, below the waist.
To a Non-Football Person: The job of the groundskeeper.
9. Icing the Kicker
Real Meaning: Taking a time-out right as the kicker is going to kick (usually a field goal) to mess up his concentration. (P.S.- Personal note - This is the stupidest thing ever, in my opinion and rarely works.)
To a Non-Football Person: It must be the kicker's birthday. Because those guys are going to smash a cake in his face.
Real Meaning: Defense sneaking up on the other team and getting all up in their faces.
To a Non-Football Person: Sneaking up on the other team and getting all up in their faces. There may or may not be bugs involved.
11. Intentional Grounding
Real Meaning: When the QB throws the ball, but there is no eligible receiver in the area.
To a Non-Football Person: When the coach gets really mad about a player's performance and benches him.
12. Nose Guard
Real Meaning: The middle tackle in a 3-4 defense.
To a Non-Football Person: A piece of equipment worn on the face.
13. Offensive Line
Real Meaning: The players on offense who line up on the line of scrimmage and whose job it is to hold back the defense from getting to the quarterback.
To a Non-Football Person: A pick-up line so bad that everyone has to leave the field.
14. Shotgun Formation
Real Meaning: When the quarterback has the ball hiked back to him several yards back from the line, instead of directly under center.
To a Non-Football Person: Instead of the marching band members making a picture with their stances, the football players do it in the shape of a gun to show the other team they are going to get blown away.
15. Pump Fake:
Real Meaning: When the quarterback pretends to throw the ball in one direction, but he actually holds onto it and throws it in another direction.
To a Non-Football Person: Those cleats might make the players LOOK taller, but...
16. Red Zone
Real Meaning: The space between the 20-yard line and the goal line.
To a Non-Football Person: The part inside the letters "NFL" that are red.
Real Meaning: Team members who are on the field during kicking and punting plays. More information HERE.
To a Non-Football Person: The people who were not quite good enough to make the actual team, but the coaches didn't want them to feel bad by cutting them. They're just "special."
Real Meaning: When a ball is kicked into the end zone, it can be downed and played from the 20-yard line.
To a Non-Football Person: After you get tackled, you get a chance to touch him right back.
Real Meaning: When the other team gets the ball.
To a Non-Football Person: Snack time!
Real Meaning: The top parts of the goal posts.
To a Non-Football Person: The people still standing after a play ends.
Real Meaning: The referee who mainly watches for legality of players and play on the line of scrimmage.
To a Non-Football Person: A confused baseball official who wandered into the wrong game.
22. Wild Card
Real Meaning: Two teams in each conference with the best records and who are not division leaders.
To a Non-Football Person: That guy who always does what you never expect him to.
23. First Down
Real Meaning: An offense's first attempt to get 10 yards down the field.
To a Non-Football Person: The first guy to get tackled.
Real Meaning: Another name for the field
To a Non-Football Person: A pattern made by the uniform manager.
Alright, I think I got my sillies out. Time to get back to business as the Eagles get ready to play the Dolphins. Ha ha! (Nope. Still in that mood.)
Please comment any that I may have missed here!
Charlie Hustle will never be in the Hall of Fame. I, and probably the majority of other fans, don't agree that's right. Not because he didn't do something he shouldn't have, but because it is a much more stern punishment than some others receive.
OK, let's just get it out of the way first - my personal thoughts on the matter. What Pete Rose did was wrong. It is, from what I have heard, posted in every major league stadium that betting on the outcome of a game will result in banishment from the game. And I am sure it is in the contracts that he signed both as a player and as a manager. So, yes, having read that, he knew what he was doing and did it anyway. He was not punished unjustly.
But. That doesn't mean it isn't a STUPID rule. Banned from baseball? Really? A coach betting on a boxing fight or a football game for their guy to LOSE and take a dive, yes. I can see how it is detrimental to someone's career. Also, there's the fact that betting to lose guarantees an outcome. Betting to win? Well, aren't you trying to win anyway? You aren't changing anything (unless you get mean about it and threaten the players). So in Rose's case, he did NOTHING to affect the game, that we know of. (We do have the lying issue, but that's a whole different ball game, in my opinion, if you'll excuse the pun.)
So, Baseball. You don't like betting? I understand. Is gambling bad? Sure. Did it affect the game of baseball? It may have, on a small scale. Did it affect the game to the extent that the all-time hits leader needs to be forgotten from the game of baseball? No way! Let's let the punishment fit the crime. No one was hurt. Slap him on the wrist and move ON.
Do I feel the same way about those using P.E.D.'s? No. I believe those perpetrators affected the game to a much greater extent. The drug-users raised the standard of hitting in the game to a level that honest athletes cannot attain. That crime destroyed careers and people. Not just the ones of the users, but of the ones who could not be seen in their shadows.
Is my opinion biased? Does the fact that Pete Rose was the first Philadelphia "star" I ever saw in person make me want the best for him? Does having watched the 3000th hit make me think that clip should be played in Coopersburg? You bet it does! (Oops, poor choice of words… maybe.)
Now, as I said, I believe the commissioner of baseball will hold his ground. No matter how he actually feels about the subject - for that, we may never know - he will need to cling to the integrity of the game. A rule is a rule, and if you take away the punishment for one, thereby for all, the integrity has been compromised and the rule means nothing.
So what can be done for Petey? We'll just have to do it the old-fashioned way. Oral history. Those of us who were there need to pass it along. Take your kids to Coopersburg. But when they ask about the asterisks by certain names, explain about the rules and the rule breakers. It's a good time to let them know about actions and consequences. Make sure the kids know that the rules were broken intentionally, and the players were punished accordingly.
My kids know all about Pete Rose. They know more about him than they know about any other athlete from that time frame. They also know my opinion on the matter. Their opinions may even be a little stronger than mine, because I told the stories of base hits stolen from infielders and head-first dives into first. That's a work ethic I want to see in my kids too! (And a good reminder for me to run out every stupid pop up when I'm playing softball.)
So Pete Rose may never be in the Hall of Fame, but that does not mean he can't be famous. Those of us who saw him play should tell his stories. Phillies fans can't give up our 1980 World Series. We can pass down the legacy outside the walls of the Hall.
He gave us a lot more baseball history than baseball officials could take away.
I have nothing against Giancarlo Stanton, personally. As a matter of fact, I feel downright bad for the poor kid.
Perhaps "poor" is a bad choice of words, though.
This 25-year-old just signed a 13-year contract with the Florida Marlins for $325 million. As we watched him sign the contract, live on ESPN this morning, we could almost see the visions of sugar plum Ferraries dancing in his smile.
I, however, shook my head at the ludicrousness of the deal. Here's why.
1. 13 Years Is a Long Time.
This is the longest deal in sports history. The only reason I see for the offer of such a long deal is to draw attention (see below, #4). Normally, contracts are shorter because almost every athlete comes across a career-threatening injury, or another reason leading to decline in productivity, at some point in his career. Rare are the Nolan Ryans who get better with age, and even more rare is the ability to predict who could become one. Shorter contracts are the team (company)'s insurance policy against having to pay through the decline. It also gives a chance for the team to re-evaluate the athlete to see if he is still worth the investment. Without having that back -up, there could be hard feelings from the team when they have to pay a player high amounts of money for less-than-stellar performance.
2. There's Really No Way Out.
And the flip side, Stanton is stuck with the Marlins, for better or for worse. Although, he has an opt-out clause until 2021, the deal is back-loaded. No one is going to be able to afford to buy out his contract. (Though, if you are going to be stuck somewhere, I guess you may as well be stuck in Florida.)
3. He Will Always Be Known as "That Guy."
Who's Giancarlo Stanton? You know, "that guy" who's making $325 million. That will trump any mention of being that guy who led the league by hitting 37 home runs in 2014.
I follow baseball, moderately. I am a Phillies fan and a Giants fan. So, I know the players on those two teams. I am aware of the "special players" on other teams, like Mike Trout and Clayton Kershaw. (Note: My satellite TV provider does not carry the network that broadcasts my Phillies games, so I can only listen on the radio, which I do sometimes, or follow online box scores, which I do more often.) To think Stanton plays in our division, and I had to look up who he was tells me he's not exactly off the charts with buzz about his talent. (His stats this year do lend him credit, but he's not a regular mention on Sports Center.)
4. It's Just a Publicity Stunt
Here's why I really feel badly. It's not about giving a kid what he's earned or deserves. (Does anyone ever DESERVE $325 million? Maybe if you find a cure for Diabetes, I'd consider it, but to play baseball?)
If the deal were being offered to Mike Trout, no one would be looking at the Angels, wondering what they were up to. They would say, "No one has talent like that, and the Angels were afraid to lose him." So why is the media asking more questions now about the Marlins and not specifically about Stanton?
The Marlins just built a new stadium that bought no more new fans, but plenty of angry taxpayers. They are desperately trying to jumpstart their team. Because, if you are looking for a team to cheer on, you look at the Yankees or the Red Sox. No one says, "Hey, how 'bout those Marlins?"
Now, heads will turn so they can watch the $325 million man. Which leads me to my next point...
5. Too Much Pressure!
This kid is 25 years old. He's pretty good right now. He isn't a pitcher, so he has a little more longevity. But the fans' heads will still turn when he is 38, always asking, "Are you worth the largest contract ever offered to any North American professional athlete?"
Every time he commits an error, the crowd will ask, "Is this what we paid for?" If he gets injured, the crowd will say, "For 325 mil, you can tough it out." Even if he has the perfect career, all he can hope for is, "Well, for 325 million, he BETTER hitting [insert record here]." It will never be about his performance again, it will be about the money. And, as I indicated before, does anyone really play at the level of $325 million?
Putting things into perspective, the total amount isn't as crazy as it sounds. (The length of time, however, is ridiculous.) Stanton is only (ha!) banking $10 million in the first few years of his contract. It will increase from there, and by that time, more players will be making similar amounts in their salaries.
However, this contract has shown a light on the incredible amounts of money professional athletes are paid. When professional sports pull off stunts like this, I think we have made a mockery of the American dream.
We are inching closer to the MLB World Series. Since one of my two favorite teams is in it, I am beside myself with excitement. I just love watching baseball. But I am surprised how many people consider it "boring."
Anyone who knows the many thoughts going through the mind of all the coaches and players during a game will not consider the game boring.This is not to say I have ever played in a World Series myself. As a matter of fact, I have never technically played baseball. But I do speak baseball-ese relatively fluently, and I would love to share what I know with those who need that information.
Much easier than football. Your team crosses the plate (after hitting all the other bases, of course), you get a run.
NOTE - PLEASE!!! - There are NO POINTS in baseball - They are called RUNS!
When you look at a scoreboard, it will break down how many runs are scored in each inning, and then show the total runs (R) for each team, hits (H), and errors (E) committed by a team.
Length of the Game:
A major league (MLB) baseball game lasts for 9 innings. (An inning is when both sides get a chance to bat until they have reached 3 outs.) If the game is tied after the 9th inning is completed, the game will go into extra innings - they will continue to play full innings until the tie is broken. There is no time limit for an inning or a game.
Note: The longest post-season game in history was just played the other week between the Nationals and the Giants. The game lasted more than 6 hours and 18 innings.
Batting is offense in baseball. One player goes to bat at any given time, in a set order, called the batting order, or line up. After 3 outs, the batting order stops while the team goes out to the field to play defense, and they pick up where they left off in the next inning. Once they reach the end, they start at the beginning again. Some things to know about batting:
1. Top of the inning/bottom of the inning-
The visiting team bats first, and this is called the top of the inning. When you look at the score, the visitor will always be on top. After their 3 outs, the home team will bat, and that is called the bottom of the inning. The idea is that the home team always gets the last bat. (If the home team is winning at the end of the game, the bottom of the inning is not played.)
2. Pitchers and hitting-
Pitchers are not known for hitting skills. (Unless you are Madison Bumgarder, who hit two grand slams this year. That's more than Derek Jeter hit in his career.) For that reason, they usually bat 9th in the line up - to have the fewest at bats ("at bat", or AB, refers to plate appearances) possible. Pitchers are not encouraged to spend their arm strength on batting anyway. They bunt more than any other position. As a matter of fact, American League teams use a "Designated Hitter," another player whose only job during the game is batting, so the pitcher does not have to.
3. Left or right handed hitters-
Left-handed hitters usually hit better off of a right-handed pitcher, and vice versa. This is the reason you will see managers take their pitchers out at certain times, or a change in the batting order. Managers are always trying to milk that tiny advantage for all they can.
Note: There are some players who can bat left- or right-handed. They are called switch hitters.
4. Batting average-
The number of base hits (H) divided by the number of at-bats (AB) will give you a player's batting avg. (AVG.) Most players (not including pitchers) average somewhere between .250 and .300. (That would be said as "Two-fifty," and "Three hundred." The decimals are not noted.) Those batting above .300 are noteworthy. You will see them batting at the top of the line up.
5. Types of hits-
Base hit- These usually happen when a ball is hit between fielders (in the gap), and the runner can make it to the base before the fielder can throw it to first.
Extra base hit- This is any kind of hit when the runner can go farther than 1st base. If he gets to 2nd base, it's called a double, to 3rd base, a triple, and all around to home, a home run.
Note: Home runs are almost exclusively hit over the fence (must be in fair territory). Inside -the-park home runs are possible, but extremely rare.
Bunt- A bunt is when the hitter turns to face the pitcher and holds his bat out to meet the ball. The idea is to keep the ball as close to home as possible to make the fielders have to run. There are two kinds of bunts - a sacrifice bunt, which is for the purpose of drawing the throw to first, so a base runner can get to another base (the opposite of a fielder's choice), and a bunt for a base hit, where the hitter wants to run it out and try to beat the throw to first. While all other foul balls hit on the 2nd strike don't make a strike out, bunting the ball foul on the 3rd strike WILL count as a strike out.
Sacrifice- A sacrifice (SAC) is hitting a ball deep enough in the outfield for a runner on 3rd base to tag up and score. SAC does not count as an AB. That's because even though the batter got out (because the fielder caught the ball), a runner got a run.
6. Types of outs-
Strike out- (Sometimes noted as a "K") If a batter swings at a pitch and misses it (or hits it into foul territory), or does not swing at a ball in the strike zone, it counts as a strike. If a batter gets 3 strikes before getting a hit or a walk, they are out.
Put out- (usually just called an out) This is when a hitter hits a ball on the ground, usually to the infield, the fielder picks it up cleanly (without bobbling it) and makes a throw to a base before the runner gets there. If the throw is to first, or any other base where there are runners behind them, the baseman just needs to tag the base. (That's called a force out. The runner was forced to run and had no choice since someone was on the base he just left.) If the runner did not have to run to the next base, because no one was forcing him to go, the runner must be tagged by the fielder.
Fly out- This a ball hit in the air to an outfielder. Once the ball is caught, all runners need to go back to the base they were on. They can run to the next base after that, but they must go back first, which is called tagging up. The fielder can throw the runner out if the runner doesn't make it in time.
Fielder's Choice- This one is a little different, because the hitter has made it safely to the base. However, another runner was put out, so it counts as an out to the hitter's average.
A pitcher has to pitch a ball between a batter's knees and the letters on his shirt, and as far across as home plate is wide. That's called the strike zone. If the ball is pitched high, low, inside, or outside - and the batter DOES NOT SWING - the umpire calls it a ball. If a batter can get 4 balls before he gets 3 strikes, he gets a free trip to 1st base. Walks do not count as an AB, so it does not affect a batting average.
8. Batting order-
There is a reason players bat in the order they do. (You may hear the position of the batting order referred to as a "hole," as in, a 2-hole hitter. That means the player bats second in the line up.
Batter #1 (also known as lead-off hitter)- This batter gets up to bat more often than any other. The player who bats here needs to be consistent about getting on base. (hits or walks. They're both good.)
Batter #2- This batter also needs to be consistent about getting on base. These first two batters set up the "meat of the order." The meat of the order are the "heavy hitters." Your team wants to have "ducks on the pond-" runners on base- when the big hitters come up to bat. If there are runners on base, big hits bring them home and score runs.
Batters #3, 4, & 5- your big hitters. Batter #3 can be, but doesn't have to be a long ball/extra base hitter, as long and he gets on base. But, it's not a bad thing if he is a big hitter.
(Interesting tid-bit: I was a #3 hitter in softball, but I led my team in home-runs. Why did my coach not move me to #4? Because you stick with what works.)
Batter #4- is called the clean up hitter. His job is is to clear the bases with a home run. If he can't do it, there's some hope that #5 can.
Batters #6-9- These are the less notable hitters in your line up. You will see lower batting averages from them. That's not to say these guys can't hit. They wouldn't be pro if they couldn't hit. But a pitcher will pitch differently to these hitters than the top of the line up.
9. RISP and RBI-
Just a few more stats you might see. RISP stands for runners in scoring position (on 2nd or 3rd base). If a player comes to bat with RISP, it is that much more important for him to get a hit or a SAC. RBI stands for runs batted in and is one of the most important stats a batter can have. Runs win games, so if a player is causing runs to be scored, he is a dependable game-winner.
10. Stolen Bases-
A runner can "take a lead," or move off the base a little before the pitcher throws the ball. If the runner goes too far, however, he better watch out, because the pitcher (or catcher) can throw the ball the base for a tag-out. However, if the runner times it just right, he can run to the next base, and that's called a stolen base, if he is safe. However, you don't see it too often, because many catchers are pretty quick at getting rid of that ball and the ball travels faster than the runner can run the 90 feet between the bases. Any base can be stolen, but 2nd base is the most common, since it is the farthest away from the catcher.
The defensive goal is to prevent the other team from scoring runs by garnering outs. The fielders are spread evenly across the field to catch or field a hit ball and to cover bases. Here are the 9 fielding positions on the baseball field:
I honestly believe that pitchers are the most important players on the team. The facts just support that idea. The teams with better pitchers win more games. Pitchers are not as concerned with their fielding as they are with their pitching. Their number one priority is to not let the hitter reach base. The pitcher wants to either strike out the batter, or make him hit easy ground balls or pop ups.
One of the ways the pitcher can get a batter to swing and miss is to confuse him with the type of pitch he throws. Every pitcher has a fastball, and in the MLB these days, that ball comes straight in at at least 95 mph. Most also have an off-speed pitch. That means it's a lot slower. You would think that would make it easier to hit, but since the batter is expecting something faster, the change-up usually throws his timing off. Also, most pitchers have some kind of curve ball - a riser, sinker, cutter, split-finger, so on - that changes direction before it gets to the catcher's mitt.
To consistently throw at such a high level is very demanding on a pitcher's arm. Because of this most starting pitchers don't pitch more than 100 pitches (called the pitch count) in a game. At this point, a "reliever" will come in to pitch an inning or two, with a "closer" pitching the 9th inning. A starting pitcher usually needs to wait 4-5 days before he can pitch again. Starters are the best pitchers on the team, with the closer close to that level.
To me, the catcher is the second most important position in the game, and it is close to first because good catching is so vital to good pitching. It's all about calling the game. The catcher has the best vantage point to see what the batter is looking to do. They look at the position of the batter's feet, his position in the batter's box, and a few other things to determine what the pitcher's best advantage would be. Then, he uses his fingers between his legs to indicate what kind of pitch he thinks would work best. Then he will set up behind the plate in the appropriate place to give the best target. For example, if he sees a batter "crowding the plate," or standing too close to the plate, the catcher might call for a fastball inside to brush the batter back some.
Yes, the catcher is the only fielder who gets to wear protective equipment. No, it doesn't always help. (I was a softball catcher for 17 years.) When there are runners on base, the catcher has to do anything he can to stop a wild pitch from getting away, so the runners don't advance. This means blocking that 90+ mph ball with his body. Also, although the bat rarely hits the catcher, foul tips come of the bat so quickly, there is virtually no time to react. A good foul tip to the head - even with a helmet on - will knock you off your block. Trust me.
One other job the catcher has is to yell directions to the fielding players. The fielders need to watch the ball after it's hit, not watch each other or where the runners are going. So the catcher will shout to direct where the play needs to be made, based on what the runners are doing.
3. 1st Base
The primary job of the 1st baseman is to get the throw from another infielder to make an out. He usually doesn't have to move much or throw much, so catching the ball and keeping his foot on the bag is his dominant skill. Height and stretching ability are helpful here.
4. 2nd Base
Second basemen are more fielders than 1st basemen. Since there is always a play at first, the first baseman will always be covering the base for the out. That leaves most of the balls that are hit to the right side of the infield to the second baseman. When the ball is hit to the right side of the field, it is the responsibility of the shortstop to cover second base, for any play that might need to be made there. When a ball is hit to the left side of the field, the 2nd baseman will cover the bag.
5. 3rd Base (the "hot corner")
A 3rd baseman needs to possess quick reflexes. Not only are balls hit in that direction often hit sharply, they are the farthest distance from first. So this player also needs a strong and accurate arm for the throw to first. He is really the only one who covers third base, so he will likely stay pretty close to the (foul) line when right-handed "pull hitters" (hitters who normally hit to the left side of the field) come to the plate. For a lefty, he might go a little further over, but not too far from the bag if there are runners.
Shortstop is an extra infielder used to balance out the field. Between this position and 2nd base, (called the middle infielders) they will handle the largest number of ground balls. Shortstop needs good fielding skills. Also, he is responsible, as mentioned before, to cover 2nd base when the 2nd baseman is occupied. The middle infielders can also go out to the outfield to take a throw from the outfielders (called a relay), to make a more accurate throw to a base for an out. I'm not sure if it is a requirement, but many shortstops, like Ozzie Smith from the old days, have an incredible vertical leap to snag a line drive headed to the outfield.
7 -9. Left Field, Center Field, Right Field
Have you seen the size of an MLB outfield? There's a lot of ground to cover. Since balls are hit all over the place out there, speed, along with great glove skills, are necessary for an outfielder. He also may be needed to make a throw to a base after the catch, so a good, strong throwing arm is also important out here.
OK, folks. That's baseball. Enjoy the World Series. Go Giants!
If you are an Eagles fan, you have been hearing a lot about special teams these days. You may be thinking, "Of course the Eagles are a special team! Aren't they all?" If so, please read on. You need this.
Also, it is a misconception among newbies that every time a team scores in football, 7 points go on the board. In actuality, there is never a time when 7 points are scored at one time. Let's address this one first.
When a team scores, they could at one time be awarded 1, 2, 3, or 6 points. Here's how.
6 Points = Touchdown! (TD)
When the ball crosses the plane of the goal line, in possession of an offensive player, a touchdown is awarded. The player himself doesn't actually have to make it into the end zone with the ball, which is why you may see a player diving toward the orange pylon in the corner, and holding the ball out over the pylon. If the ball is being thrown to a receiver in the end zone, however, the player must make a legal in-bounds catch to get the touchdown. In other words, he must have clear possession of the ball (no bobbles) and two feet in the end zone.
1 Point = Extra Point Conversion by Kicking (PAT- point after touchdown)
This is the option most often taken after a TD is scored. The ball is snapped from the 2 yard line and the kicker kicks it through the uprights. They almost never miss the kick, but sometimes there is a "muff," which means the play doesn't go off right, and ball is not in the right place.
*Note- To be considered "good," a kicked ball has to make it to the goalpost and go through. If it hits the post and still goes through, it is still good. There is no height restriction. This is also true for field goals.
2 Points = Extra Point Conversion by Ground Play
After the TD, the scoring team can choose to run a ground play instead of kicking. This is another offensive play by the offense. There is only one attempt (no downs), starting at the 2-yard line, to get into the end zone by running or throwing. If successful, the team gets 2 additional points.
*Note- You will not often see a 2-pt conversion. Teams only use it if they are desperate for the extra point. Unlike the 1-pt kick, the 2pt. conversion is not a guarantee. (As a matter of fact, it usually does not work.)
2 Points = Safety
This is another type of scoring you don't see often. I'm not sure I've seen one yet this season. A safety is when an offensive player with possession of the ball gets tackled in his own end zone. Plays rarely start in the end zone, and that's why it's uncommon.
*Note- The best part about a safety is the signal the referee makes, clasping his hands above his head like an Egyptian.
3 Points = Field Goal
When a team seems to be having trouble scoring a touchdown, and they are on their 3rd down, the team can choose to run a 4th down ground play (which they hardly ever do), punt the ball away (described below), or try to kick a field goal. It's like a consolation prize. They can only kick a field goal, however, if the starting line of scrimmage is in the kicker's range. (Most kickers' longest kicks are under 55 yards.) Field goals are pretty common, and kickers in range usually make them. That's why you will hear announcers use the phrase, "settle for a field goal." They take it as a given.
There was a reason I went over scoring first, before discussing what special teams are. Many of the special teams' jobs revolve around scoring.
Every team has special teams. Mostly, they are regular members of the offense or defense with a different job. Sometimes, there are special teams players whose only job is on special teams. (Usually, that is a player who kicks or punts the ball.)
Here are the different special teams you will see:
Basically, this consists of the kicker and 10 other players. On the kick-off, the kicker (who is a "place kicker" - meaning the ball is held in place when kicked) will play deep, to get a running start. Five players will line up next to the ball on one side, and 5 on the other side, unless the team is trying an on-side kick to get the ball back. Those 10 non-kicking players try will push back the receiving team and try to keep the receiver from getting any ground after catching the ball. Teams often have some of their biggest players on this line to block the returner.
The kicker's goal is to kick the ball as far as possible to give the opposing team the farthest distance to go to get to the goal line. If they kick it into or past the end zone, the other team is awarded a "touchback," which means they automatically start on the 20 yard-line.
The kickoff team could have many of the same players as the PAT/ field goal unit, however, there is less space between the offense and defense in that situation, so you are looking for players who are better at pushing from close quarters. Also on the PAT/field goal unit, you will need a snapper to toss the ball to a place holder, who will set the ball quickly on the ground for the kicker.
In the NFL, the kick-off kicker, field goal kicker, and PAT kicker are almost always the same player. Remember, every NFL team is only allowed 53 players on their roster.
First, what is a punting situation? A team needs to punt when they have gone 3 downs and still are not close enough for a field goal attempt. (This is known as a "3-and-out," because basically, you are giving up the ball after 3 plays.) The reason for it is to make the other team have even farther to go to get into scoring range, since you have to give the ball up anyway.)
This team could consist of mostly the same players as the kicking teams, though they will likely line up differently. On a kick off, there is more distance between the kicking and receiving team. When you are punting, the other team is lined up pretty much near the line of scrimmage, so your team better have a more prepared stance to meet them.
Your punter is different from your kicker, however. Punting is drop-kicking the ball, which requires a different motion than place kicking.The punter gets the ball directly from the snap. And again, he wants to kick it as far down the field as he can.
Kick-Off/ Punt Return Team: (Often the same players on a return for a kick off or a punt)
The different player you come across on a return team is the kick/punt returner. Rarely is this a specialized position, though you need to have some special skills for it. Usually, teams use their fastest players in this position (which would likely be a WR, RB, or CB). Often, you will have different players in this position through out the game. The other 10 players play like linemen, trying to block the kicking teams' rushers.
When you hear about special teams doing a great job, most likely one of these things is happening:
1. Kick-offs or punts are being returned for lots of yardage or even touchdowns.
2. Teams are blocking kicks and punts, causing fumbles, and scoring from them.
3. Kickers are hitting really long field goals.
None of those are very common, so if you hear good things about special teams, they are indeed, very special.
Stay tuned! I'm not done with my Position Primmer series! My next football post will explain the refs and the rules. But before I get to that, I will have a special Baseball edition, just in time for the World Series. Be sure to share this one, and any other Primmers, with your loved ones who need to know more about this great game of American football.
In my last post, you learned all about a team's offense. It's very exciting, as they're the ones who put points on the board. But there's a saying: Offense brings in the fans; defense wins the games. (Or something like that.)
How is that possible, when they don't score points as often? (And yes, the defense can score.) Read on.
Basics of Defense in Football:
1. The defense is the team who does not start with the ball on any given play. (If they force a turnover, that team becomes offense on the next play after they get possession of the ball.)
2. The primary goal of the defense is to stop the offense of the other team from moving toward the goal line. This can happen in a few ways:
a. The defensive players push back the offensive players so that they gain less than 10 yards in a play (ideally, less than 3).
b. The defensive players get to the quarterback and force him down before he releases the ball. This is called a "sack" and results in a loss of yardage (since the quarterback is several yards behind the line of scrimmage).
c. The defensive players force the offense to make a mistake either from the quarterback's throw, or a receiver's catch/ runner's run causing the ball to go somewhere other than where it was intended. If an offensive player had possession of the ball, and it gets dropped, that's called a fumble, and the defense can pick it up and run it toward their intended goal. If a defensive player catches a pass from the opposing team's quarterback, that is called an interception. One step further - if the defensive player catches the pass and then makes it to the goal line for a touchdown, that is called a "pick 6."
Now, here are the guys who can do all that.
This is literally the first line of defense against the offense. Typically you have big guys up front there, because the idea is they shouldn't have to move really far to stand in the way of, or push against, the offensive linemen (who are trying to keep these guys from reaching the QB and the runners/receivers). The line can contain:
Defensive Tackles (T), and sometimes, a Nose Tackle (NT)
(A nose tackle is the position of the middle tackle, when you have a 3-4 defense, see below.) The main job for a tackle is to clog up the middle to keep any running backs from getting yardage up the middle. If the QB sinks back for pass, your tackles are the guys who will hold back the guys on the offensive line, so that the defensive ends can do their job.
Defensive Ends (DE)
And what is the job of the Ends? Get the quarterback (if it's a passing play), or get the running back (if it's a running play). Basically, they're the first ones to go for the guy with the ball.
There are many formations you will hear for defenses. Most popular among these are 4-3 formations or 3-4 formations. Based on the formation that the coaches prefer, you may see extra Tackles and no Ends. But formations are always changing in defense during a game, based on what they see the offense doing.
A popular defensive play is called a "blitz." Basically, this is when the defense sends more guys after the quarterback than just the DEs. Coaches can choose different formations for this play, but immediately you will see guys pushing in to get the QB.
Corner Back (CB) -
These are the fastest guys on the defense. They have to cover the receivers, who take off right at the start of the play. Since CBs are covering receivers, they are the ones who are most likely to pick up an interception.
Listen carefully, because this one sounds a lot like "quarterback." If the announcer is talking about someone on defense, though, he said, "cornerback."
Middle Linebacker (MLB)
This player, in the center of everything, sets up the defense and the play, much like a QB does on the offense. Once the play starts, he goes after any running backs that make it past the front line.
Outside Linebacker (OLB, also Strong Side Linebacker - SLB, or Weak Side Linebacker - WLB, based on the handedness of the QB)
The OLBs are responsible for covering the tight ends and wayward running backs. If a runner turns into a receiver for a short pass, the OLB will cover for those passes as well. Linebackers do not have to be quick, and typically stay in their zones.
In a 3-4 defense, a team will usually use 4 linebackers. The outer two OLBs typically play up closer to the line of scrimmage in these cases to cover the TEs. In this formation, you now have 2 guys playing Inside Linebacker (ILB). The ILBs take the job of the MLB.
Linebackers are typically big guys who cause a lot of damage and pain to their opponents.
Safety (Strong Safety, Free Safety)
Safeties are the guys furthest back from the line of scrimmage. They are kind of like the "clean up" guys. They take care of what the guys in front of them didn't stop. Safeties often cover any receivers who have broken through the initial coverage. When there are two safeties on the field - the one who has to move faster to run after a receiver is the Free Safety (FS) and the one who is bigger and delivers bigger hits is the Strong Safety (SS).
Now that you have read their jobs, you can look down on them from the sky and see the defense line up in a fashion that looks something like this:
CB OLB MLB OLB CB
DE DT DT DE
Line of Scrimmage
Now you know the basics of offense and defense in American football. Could there be more? Oh, yes. My next post will give you some insight into what "special teams" do as well as some common penalties you might see. After that, stay tuned for the baseball edition of the Position Primmer, which just arrive just in time for the World Series.
I love football. That's no secret. Part of what makes it great is how different players interact during the game.
Before the season starts, or really gets into full swing, I want to help out those of you who care about someone who loves football. It's hard to sit through something you don't understand. My plan is to give you the basics of what you'll be watching, so you can, at the very least, ask the right questions. Your loved one will likely heap plenty more information on you to further clarify the game.
It's worth it. Football is such a great game.
Let's face it, anyone who is good enough to make it to the pros (in any sport), is probably close to the same skill level as everyone else in the league. So, USUALLY, games shouldn't be run-aways (unless you are watching the Super Bowl from 2014). A lot more has to do with the coaching and the play calls than the athletic ability of most of the players.
Of course, there are some exceptions, as there always seem to be.
With that in mind, below are the basics of the standard football positions. In this post, I will focus on offense. Defense and special teams will be out later this week. First, what do I mean by "offense?"
Offense in football:
Here are the basics of offense, in case you really don't know.
1. Offense is the team that starts with the ball.
2. A player is either an offensive player or a defensive player. (Not like basketball, where everyone plays both.)
3. You can only have your offense or your defense (or a special teams unit, like a kicking squad) on the field at any time. Officials are pretty strict about that. You can't even have a defensive player still running off the field when the next play goes off.
4. The offense stays on as long as they manage to get the ball (by running or throwing) 10 yards in 4 plays. Each play is called a "down." The play only lasts - the ball is only "live"- until the ball hits the ground. (However, if the ball is "fumbled," or the offense gives up the ball by dropping it, the defense can pick it up and continue to move the ball toward their intended goal line.)
5. If a team can't get 10 yards down the field, they automatically forfeit the ball to the other team, who will pick up on offense at exactly the point on the field where the other team left off. That is called giving the ball up on downs (meaning 4 plays, or downs, expired before the team could go 10 yards.) You rarely see this situation in the NFL, however, because after 3 downs, a team usually tries to punt or kick a field goal. (I will explain these more in my "special teams" edition.)
6. So, when an announcer says the offense is "2nd and 4," for example, that means they have tried 2 plays, and managed to get the ball 6 yards down the field. The "2nd" is the down, and the "4" is how many yards they need to go to get a first down and start over. Ideally, the offense wants to continue to get "1st and 10" until they score. "1st" down means you still have 4 tries to get the 10 yards you need for another set of downs.
7. When you get within 10 yards of your intended goal line, you will hear the term change to "1st and goal" or "2nd and goal" and so on.
8. Basic scoring is this: 6 points for a touchdown, either run or thrown into the end zone. After a touchdown, the team gets a chance to kick the ball between the goal posts for an extra point. (Teams can also elect to run another ground play after the touchdown to get 2 extra points instead of one. That is called a "2-point conversion.")
9. If a team is 3rd and goal, or 3rd and anything and fairly close (within 40 yards or so) to the goal line, the team will likely try to kick a field goal instead of trying for a touchdown. Field goals result in 3 points.
10. When watching TV, before the play starts, if you don't know which team is on offense, look at the score for a little football icon or a line by the name of the team. That will indicate which team has the ball.
Now, let's talk about the guys we're looking at on offense.
This is the guy who gets all the press. He's really the only non-coach who gets to make any decisions. He's gotta be smart as well as athletic and so is often considered one of the most valuable players on the team.
So what's his job?
The quarterback (QB) puts the ball into play. He basically has 3 choices: throw it (to an eligible receiver), hand it off (to a running back), or run with it himself. The last choice is rarely used because it is dangerous, putting the QB into harm's way. (Anywhere where the ball is, is in harm's way.)
*Noteworthy - except in trick plays, which don't happen all that often, the QB is the only one who ever throws a pass.
Where to look for him:
Before the ball is snapped, the QB will be directly behind the center (C), who is in the middle of the offensive line. The QB is the one you hear yelling what sounds like nonsense. As soon as the ball is snapped, the QB will take a few steps back into what's called the passer's pocket, and throw the ball or hand it off. Almost always, the QB runs with the ball only as a last resort, if he doesn't see anyone open.
Although the QB is a very important position, football is still a team sport. The best QB does not necessarily win the Super Bowl.
Running Back (a.k.a. Half Back, Full Back)
What's his job?
Usually, you will see two backs on the field with the offense. However, they aren't always involved in every play. As a matter of fact, right now in the NFL, there are marginally more passing plays than running plays. When a running play is called, however, the back involved will head right to the QB, who will then hand him the ball. After getting the ball, the back needs to run wherever he finds space to get as many yards as possible!
Where to look for him:
The running backs (RB, HB or H, FB or F) line up behind the line of scrimmage (the imaginary line where the ball starts, which is where the ball came down at the last play.), near the QB. Usually, you will see them behind the QB, so they can start running as soon as the play starts. After he gets the ball, look for the guy breaking through the line of sumo wrestlers.
There is a difference between the half back and the full back, but I'm not going to get into that here.
Wide Receiver (also, Slot Receiver, Split Receiver/End)
Most often, these are the big-mouth guys you see dancing in the end zone.
What's his job?
Like the RBs, there are usually 2 receivers on the field, and they are only used when a running play is not called. The receivers are the ones who catch the ball thrown by the QB. Ideally, the receivers take off running, way beyond the scuffle at the line of scrimmage, then turn to catch the pass, and hopefully keep on running!
Where to look for him:
Your wide receivers (WR) can either be a split end/receiver (SE), lining up on the line of scrimmage outside of the offensive linemen (see below), or a slot receiver (SR). The "slot" is back from the line, and way to the outside of all the other guys. He hopes from here to be able to outrun the slower guys on the line.
There must be 11 men on the field from each team. However, teams can change up the number of backs and receivers, having 3 and 1 instead of 2 and 2 if the team decides. As long as they use an accepted formation on the field, they can do what they want.
What's his job?
Tight End (TE) is a unique position. It's almost like the person who can't decide what he wants to do because he can do everything. A TE is an eligible receiver and is often used to catch a pass from the QB. But in the instances where he is not being used as a receiver, he is a blocker. He needs to ready to push back any defenders from the back field who are trying to sneak up and get through to the QB.
Where to look for him:
The TE plays up on the line of scrimmage just to the side of the tackle. (Which side he is on will often depend on whether the QB is left- or right-handed.)
Offensive Line (you may hear it called the O-Line)
The offensive line is like the defense, or protection, for the offense. Without them, the 11 guys on defense would be all over the poor QB. There are 5 players on the offensive line: the center (C), the left and right guards (G), and the left and right tackles (T).
What's their job?
The center starts with the football on the ground, on the line of scrimmage. The QB will call the play, and as soon as he is done, the center will hike the ball through his legs to the QB. After that, the center becomes another member of the offense line. These 5 guys have one job: to stop the defense from getting to any of the other offensive players. There's a little more to it, with coverage and who goes where, but the bottom line is: Stop the Defense!
Where you find them:
These guys are lined up, shoulder to shoulder, at the line of scrimmage in this order:
Unfortunately, you only really notice the O-Line when they aren't doing so well at their job. You see it when the QB gets sacked (tackled before he gets the ball out). A beat-up QB is a sign of a poor O-Line.
So here is what an aerial view of the offense would look like all together:
Line of scrimmage
WR T G C G T TE
I hope this gave you some good starting information about the game of American football. You can see how much I like the game, as I made one of my favorite characters in my book series a running back. Asher Andrews is a halfback, so now when you read that book, you will understand his job so much better.
I promise to get my next post out soon, so you can learn what the defense does. Look for it later this week.
Coming Soon… Defense! Learn why the offense doesn't score on every play.
On February 13, 2014, two men suffered devastating injuries either before or during the men's short program in the Olympics. They each handled their obstacle differently, and we can - and need to - learn a lesson from them both.
Lesson 1: When to Get Back Up
Jeremy Abbott crashed hard when he failed to land his first jump - the incredibly difficult quadruple.
Now, to me, a normal human being who would get excited if I could do a bunny hop on the ice, falling from that jump would be a given. But we spectators become a different breed of critic when we watch the stunts pulled of by these amazing men. Still, I think each one of us held our breath when Jeremy did not get up. We had seen others fall and get up so seamlessly that it looked like part of the routine. Jeremy clutched his hip and winced in pain, and we wondered if this would be the first time we would ever see some kind of ambulance zamboni.
To our continued amazement, we millions of viewers watched the young man rise and CONTINUE his program! The rest of the routine showed so little flaw, so little expression of pain, that more than a few of us must have questioned whether he faked his injury.
He didn't. After he finished and waved to the crowd, the wince returned. He again grabbed his side and he returned to his coach with the words, "That really hurt."
How much more painful was it to wave to the crowd when he felt he hadn't given them his best? To his country members who hungered for more medals? How much did it hurt to sit in front of cameras recording his reaction to a score being issued that was nearly 30 points less than what the gold medalist would pull in. A score well less than he expected himself before the routine began.
But we clapped. The Americans clapped, the Russians clapped, and everone at home clapped. (Admit it - you wanted to.) We were more amazed at his performance after seeing his failure than if he would have done it perfectly. And here's why.
He finished, even knowing there would be no hope of a medal. He was there, and he did what he came to do. Here are his words in a post-performance interview.
"First thing, I was in a lot of pain and I was laying there kind of shocked and I didn't know what to think," Abbott said. "I was waiting for the music to stop. The audience was screaming, and I was, like, 'Forget it all, I am going to finish this program.' As much of a disappointment as this is, I am not in the least bit ashamed. I stood up and finished this program, and I am proud of what I did in the circumstances."
He wanted a reason for what he had done. His first thought was to quit, but he didn't know how that was supposed to happen. So he just went on.
Lesson 2: When to Stay Down and Know You're Done
Another skater was supposed to perform first that night.
The Russian, Evgeni Plushenko, had already given the audience a preview of how dominant his performance could be in the team competition. He placed first, overwhelmingly. No doubt, his country, the host, was awaiting their moment to shine again in men's figure skating.
However, something was wrong. After Evgeni's warm-ups, more time passed. Audience members could only watch him approach the judges and wonder about the conversation. We didn't see any problems.
We at home heard the conversation on TV, though. He spoke to the judges in English. "My back is bad. I cannot skate."
Evgeni took the ice again, and his Russian fans were excited. He waved a thank you salute to the audience who mumbled in confusion. He was acting like he had already finished. An annoucement was made in English to a mostly silent reply from the audience. Once the announcement was repeated in Russian, there was a pause again. No one knew how to respond when they heard their hero would not skate for medical reasons. And then the faithful audience knew what to do. They applauded. And, after answering a few questions, Evgeni Plushenko retired.
What do we learn from Evgeni Plushenko? Time.
Time is the one thing that is so precise, it can choose a winner in a race by a fraction of a second - literally less than the time it takes to blink.
On the other hand, the scale of time in one's life is so very different that it varies from person to person. Because no person is exactly like another, there is no exact manual that explains when your body is done. No athlete is ever 100% sure when his healthy body has finished its maximum amount of quality work. Many will try to continue their trade, only to find that dimishing quality brings out the worst in viewers. Armchair coaches complain that "he should have retired long ago." Those perfectly-hindsighted coaches always know best, you know.
Most of us are not Olympians. So few are professional athletes. Does this principle apply to us as well?
You know it does. It might not be our body. It might be a friendship, a parenting style, a job, a volunteer assignment. You probably know right now what it is. Something is done. Something has to go. Something's quality is starting to diminish.
Some of us are going down the hill now. We are no longer growing, but just fighting decay. But when we recognize such things as getting up and moving on or staying down and moving on, we are still growing. As we grow in maturity, we can be smarter with the time we do use.
Jeremy Abbott showed us sometimes we keep going.
Evgeni Plushenko showed us sometimes we need to stop.
Being far enough removed from Super Bowl XLVIII today for the sting to be faded, I can now examine my theory of why my beloved Broncos lost. so. badly.
Note that this is based on my perception, and not statistics. Sometimes, women notice little things that aren't translated into facts.
But take a look.
My first clue that something was off was when I heard a pre-game announcer report (somewhere around 4:00) that he had seen many Seahawks out for pre-game warm ups, but few Broncos. When I heard that report, I panicked. Surely the Broncos weren't that confident to think they didn't even need to warm up.
Denver was favored- winning was nearly a given. They were favored by statistics and by the fans, after Richard Sherman opened his mouth.
After the game, it was admitted by the Broncos that they had not prepared enough. The problem was, who would have thought they needed that much preparation? No one, apparently
And now we have our problem. Big heads.
When we look back at the season, the veteran teams were the ones that didn't buckle under pressure. Denver was the king of that. If they had a bad play, they picked themselves right back up and got back on track. We might call that confident leadership, under the leadership of Peyton Manning.
I can't stand when quarterbacks get nervous and scurry all over the place. Let your offensive line do their jobs. Nervousness leads to mistakes - bad passes that are usually picked off.
The Patriots don't do that. Have you ever seen Tom Brady look nervous? And of course, Peyton was the king of steel nerves.
Younger guys get nervous. I love Colin Kaepernick, but he scurries a lot. His advantage is his athleticism. When he sees no options, he makes them himself. Still, a good defense will eventually stop him, which is why he has no ring yet.
But did you watch Geno Smith this year? I don't doubt he will grow into a decent QB for the Jets at this level, once he has built trust. Until then, he will need to work on having faith in his team.
It seems I have built a case for the veteran teams, haven't I? So why didn't the Broncos win? Why didn't they come back after that first botched snap?
Here's what I've noticed about all teams. Big wins tend to give big heads. And I'm pretty sure that's what happened in the Super Bowl.
The Seahawks came out of a game where they nearly lost the NFC championship to the 49ers. They had been down at their home field most of the game, and had the last pass not been intercepted, they would have lost. At their home field.
There's my point in action again. How could Seattle be down at home? It was the most dreaded field in the NFL this year. But perhaps their twelfeth man hadn't had enough practice either.
Denver, on the other hand, completely stomped all over New England. This was after New England had trampled Indy, who had just beaten the Chiefs in a very exciting game. Do you see the pattern?
As an Eagles fan, I have relied on this principle. (Because we have some pretty, uh confident, shall we say? players. <ahem> Desean) However, EVERY time we are embarrassed, we come back the next game. Or the next quarter. Whatever it takes. Do you remember the game we played after Denver this year? Neither do the Giants. I'm not sure they were even there.
It works the other way too. The next time we played the Giants, we actually lost to them, scaring us enough to trounce Oakland 49-20 in our first home win in over a year.
I thought Manning, Welker, Bailey and all the other long time pros were above the headiness. I thought they were immune to what people said about how good they were. They all said the right words about it being another game and not getting caught up, but in the end, they proved to be just as human as everyone else.
They also had one thing against them - something no one had told them. To their detriment, I had picked Denver as the winner of this year's Super Bowl. (For the record, I picked them after Week 1). And since everyone I told last year on Facebook forgot what I said, no one could warn the Broncos.
I haven't successfully picked a Super Bowl winner since 1985. Another blow out where defense took the title. Only that time, it was no surprise.
So watch out next year and be sure to ask me who I have jinxed.
T.C. Slonaker, Eagles fan
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