While I won’t do Broadway Joe and guarantee anything, but I think these ten things should and will happen in 2009.
1. We finally stop hearing about Donovan McNabb’s benching and his permanently fractured relationship with Andy Reid because of said benching. This, however, will only happen when McNabb stops talking about how “insulted he was” and apologizes for how “awful he was.” I’m not sure how good Donavan thinks he is, but there have been many players a lot better than he who have been benched. In the world of sports, no matter who you are, if you’re killing your team, you get replaced. Donavan was killing his team. So instead of talking about respect and relationships, McNabb should own up to his miserable play, and then admit that the benching probably made him better. His play since has been night and day.
2. College football cleans up its replay system. Since every play is reviewed, why can’t these people be smart enough to realize that every borderline touchdown is going to be reviewed? I don’t understand why they have to wait until the extra point team is lined up before blowing it dead. As long as the system is the way it is, every toe tapping sideline catch and every running back who dives into a goal-line pile is getting reviewed. Just blow the whistle and be done with it. Also, it doesn’t take Columbo to see the offense or extra point team trying to hurry off a snap before the previously play can be reviewed. If the players know the last play was in question, how come it takes the replay official so long? I say, get rid of the college system, and go to the NFL, two-challenge system, except…..
3. The NFL system needs tweaked as well. Each team gets two challenges per game. If they are correct on both of those challenges, meaning they got screwed twice, then they get a bonus challenge, incase they get screwed one more time. What happens after that? I mean, if a team, for whatever reason, has used three challenges because the zebras have blown three calls against them, why don’t they get another one? I say, a team should be able to have unlimited challenges, as long as they are correct every time. If you get jobbed ten times then you should get ten challenges. Could you imagine a team in the playoffs who has been hosed three times, and loses the ball with 3:00 to go in the game when their runner was clearly down but they have no challenges left? If this ever happened, they would change the rule the next day. Please, someone with some authority, realize the stupidity of this “three challenge limit” and fix it before you cost someone their season. And another thing. Their needs to be a camera stationed on each goal line. This omission happens in college a lot more than the NFL, but it happens, and I don’t see how.
4. We finally fix the BCS system and go to a playoff so no team like New England, who went 11-5, is left out of the playoffs, while teams like the Ravens and Dolphins, also 11-5, are included. Really, how stupid can this BCS system be when an 11-5 is out of the playoffs, but an 8-8 team is in? And not only did they get in, they got to host. What brilliant reason is there for this, that an 8-8 team is somehow better than a 11-5 team? Do you want the answer? (gulp) Geography! This is another instance where the NCAA should use the NFL system and…..wait a minute. This did happen in the NFL. Why haven’t I heard the outrage? People complain about the BCS every year, but the BCS has never screwed up this badly. Never. Not even close. Having gone this far through the bowl games, having seen Texas, Alabama, Penn State and USC, I feel rather confident that, once again, the BCS found us the best two college football teams in America. Maybe the Trojans have a complaint, but maybe they should have just beaten Oregon State and taken care of things themselves.
5. While were changing rules, let’s change one back and pretend it never happened. After the World Series rainout/suspended game in Philly, Bud Selig changed the rule so that no post-season or All-Star game will ever be called early because of weather, meaning all of these games will play at least nine innings. For the playoffs games, I say great. For the All-Star game….what? Could you imagine the debacle this would be, keeping about 22 players around an extra day to finish a game in front of 5,000 people? Say rain came in the eighth inning and never let up. All of the players who had already come out of the game would be ineligible to go back in. So, do you know what they would do? They would fly back to meet their team and get ready for the second half. Only those players still in the game would stick around. And what if the score was 9-2? Would they really finish this game the next day? If I were a contending team, I would love to see my catcher catch two straight days over the All-Star break. That should really help him for the second half.
6. We stop hearing about how Jason Campbell is an improving quarterback. For some reason, I heard and read this multiple times throughout this season, and you know what, it’s not true. OK, maybe it’s a little bit true. He’s gone from being a bad quarterback to a functional quarterback, but this guy, in my opinion, has a very low ceiling. If he’s ever one of the top ten quarterbacks in the league I’ll eat my hat.
7. The Gary Williams era will end at Maryland before he goes Woody Hayes on someone. Look, I respect what the guy has done. He took a program that was in shambles and made them a perennial tournament team, with several Sweet 16’s, two Final Fours, and a National Title. But to say that they program has since regressed is an understatement. Nowadays, Terp fans don’t even expect to make the Big Dance. The problem? Gary never capitalized on the Juan Dixon run to improve recruiting. And don’t give me the “we can’t recruit with Duke and Carolina.” Back to back Final Four’s can do a lot for a program. Florida was nothing special until Billy Donovan got there. Uconn was nothing until Jim Calhoun showed up, and the fact the Pittsburgh is the number one team in the country is mindboggling compared to where they were fifteen or twenty years ago. Gary has been at his best through the years when he found himself in an underdog role. When it was he against the world, he could thrive. That is, when it was he against the world, and he had some good players. Now, it’s he against the world and his players aren’t that good. Well, they’re NIT good. Whether you love Gary or you hate Gary, you have to admit that if he couldn’t bring in top recruits after he cut the nets down, then he’ll never be able to it now. Thank him for what he did, build him a statue outside the Comcast Center, and bring in a young guy who can be warm and charming and welcomed in living room in the country. All right, maybe not every living room, only the ones with 16 and 17 years old boys who have a killer handle and silky-sweet jay.
8. Baseball teams will make sound financial decisions, the Yankees notwithstanding. Every team will show restraint and not sign anyone….wait a minute. What was that? Milton Bradley got 3 years 30 million? Well, there goes that. I’ll give you even money that Bradley doesn’t play 140 games in any of the three seasons, and I guarantee in one of them he plays less than 80. One more thing. I’ve got a hunch he’ll be a malcontent.
9. Terrell Pryor will become a sophomore, so we will stop having to listen to all the hype about him being a true Freshman. Hey, I know the kid is talented, and since he missed his red-shirt year, he is younger than everyone around him, but to project this kid as an NFL quarterback is a long shot. Ron Jaworski always talks about THE most important element of quarterbacking, and it’s the ability to accurately deliver the football. Pryor doesn’t have it. If you want to believe that he’ll develop it with age, be my guest, but didn’t you say the same thing about Daniel Cabrera? Pryor certainly has a place in the NFL, but it’s more like a Josh Cribbs with Cleveland. Did you see the fade he caught for a touchdown in the Fiesta Bowl? Get used to it. That’s what he’s going to be doing on Sundays. That and maybe a little Wildcat, unless it’s out of vogue by then.
10. Some team is going to get lucky and land Bobby Abreu for cheap. Abreu may have overplayed his hand, asking for 3 years 48 million. If he gets something much less, say the 3 year 30 million dollar deals that Raul Ibanez and Milton Bradley got, it’ll be a steal. He’s a lifetime .300 hitter with a .400 OBP and a .500 slugging percentage. While his OBP and slugging have dropped as he gone into his 30’s, he still hits 40 doubles a year, steals 20 bases, and has driven in 100 runs in seven out of the last eight seasons. While he certainly won’t do to a lineup what Manny Ramirez or Albert Pujols will, his ability to drive the ball to all fields while taking an inordinate number of pitches, makes him a very difficult guy to pitch to. The fact that he can run is just icing on the cake. He’s not a great outfielder. On balls in front of him, he’s fine, and he has a pretty good arm. Balls over his head are trouble, I’m not going to debate that. But having watched this guy play every day for the last two and a half years, I would take him on my team any day.