Sports Fodder: Return of referees won’t change much
September 28, 2012
Sports fodder for a Friday morning . . .
The best part about the real NFL referees going back to work is not that all of the calls will be made correctly from here on out. The real refs will blow as many calls as the replacement refs and if you don’t think that’s true you haven’t watched the NFL the past 50 years. No, the best thing about the end of the ref fiasco is that all of the moaning and complaining will stop from all the players, coaches and media. The media, which gets its opinions from Twitter, the players, who are still bitter about their labor dispute with the league a year ago and the coaches, who hate everyone in a striped shirt, should be ashamed of themselves after all of their whining lately. Yes, the replacement refs made bad calls. So what? What makes you so sure the real refs wouldn’t have blown that final play on Monday night? All refs at all levels make bad calls in every game.
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The thing we learned through all of this is that the NFL doesn’t really care about its product. We should have learned it back in 1987 when they used replacement players. But lemming fans still went to the games and watched on TV in 1987 and they still went to the games and watched on TV this year with replacement refs. The product doesn’t matter in the NFL. As long as fans can still bet on games, play fantasy football and sit home and drink beer and eat pizza and watch on TV, it doesn’t matter what the NFL puts on the field. They could put replacement players, replacement refs, replacement cheerleaders and replacement chain gangs on the field and we’d still watch.
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Don’t look now but the Nevada Wolf Pack football team just might be on its way to a 12-1 season. The Pack will be definitely be favored in at least seven of its final eight regular season games and will likely be favored in the eighth (against Boise State on Dec. 1 at Mackay Stadium). The Pack’s offense is that good. The schedule – the Mountain West is no better than the old Western Athletic Conference – is that weak. The Pack will simply outscore teams.
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It’s about time the nation discovers Wolf Pack running back Stefphon Jefferson. Jefferson should at least be in the conversation for the Heisman trophy. The Heisman is a running back, quarterback award. Jefferson just so happens to lead the nation in rushing (699 yards) and touchdowns (12) and is the fourth player in NCAA history to score seven touchdowns in a game. If Jefferson played for a school east of the Mississippi River he’d be the darling of ESPN right now.
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Give the Miami Marlins credit for giving Adam Greenberg another chance at the major leagues. Greenberg’s only at-bat in the big leagues was in 2005 for the Chicago Cubs when he got hit in the head by a pitch and went directly to the hospital. Maybe the Marlins felt guilty (the pitcher who hit him was Marlins reliever Valerio De Los Santos) and maybe they just want to sell tickets and get some national publicity. It doesn’t matter. All that matters is that Greenberg will get a chance on Tuesday to get another major league at-bat. Why the Cubs aren’t the team doing this tells you all you need to know about their organization.
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The country obsessed over the NFL’s replacement refs yet nobody seems to care that the NHL is in the middle of a lockout. The NHL has already cancelled preseason games and the start of the regular season on Oct. 11 is also unlikely even if the problems are fixed today. Is there any doubt that Gary Bettman is the worst commissioner in the history of the big four sports (baseball, basketball football, hockey)? Bettman can’t seem to get a decent TV deal for his league and he’s turned his once-rising sport into a niche sport like it was in 1930. This is a league that has already cancelled a regular season in the past and seems determined to do it again less than a decade later. Maybe the NHL should consider using a replacement commissioner.
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Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers has a chance to do something rather remarkable over the next six days. Cabrera, who leads the American League in hitting and RBI and is second in home runs, could become the first Triple Crown winner in baseball since Lyndon Baines Johnson was president and Chris Ault was the Wolf Pack quarterback. One day the Triple Crown will be changed to BABIP, OPS and VORP, so it will be nice if someone does it again while we all can still figure out the categories without a calculator.
Joe Santoro is a freelance writer for the Sierra Nevada Media Group.