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NFL To Change Football Rules

May 21, 2015

We learned what happened to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots with “Deflategate.” We are about to learn how the NFL is going to take steps to make sure similar behavior no longer takes place by any team in the league. Brady may have gotten caught. But the NFL should be embarrassed that Brady and company could even pull it off.

Anyway, the NFL will be announcing in the next week or two changes on the guidelines regarding the way footballs are handled before games. 

Current rules state that footballs are sent directly to teams. Equipment managers can brush them and even rub off the oil used to preserve the leather to the preferences of each quarterback. The quarterbacks can even practice with the footballs during a game week as long as the footballs remain in good enough condition to pass the referee’s pre-game inspection as a new ball. Each team brings at least 12 balls.

New guidelines will state that the footballs must be delivered to the officials’ dressing room 2 hours, 15 minutes before kickoff. The referee inspects each one, with a pump provided by the home team to adjust air pressure as needed. The footballs are required to have at least 12.5 psi and no more than 13.5 psi.

The referee is the sole judge of whether a ball is fit for play and marks each one approved for the game. The rule says the footballs “shall remain under the supervision of the referee until they are delivered to the ball attendant just prior to the start of the game.”

In case you missed it and I do not possibly see how you could have, Tom Brady was suspended for four games and the New England Patriots were fined $1 million and docked a pair of draft picks after independent investigator Ted Wells, hired by the NFL, found that the Super Bowl champions used illegally under-inflated balls in the AFC title game.

Another rule change that will begin next season is that the ball on kicked extra points will be placed at the 15-yard line. This makes the extra point a 32 yard effort. The difference will hardly be noted. I checked the stats. Kickers were 96 percent successful from 32 yards last season compared to an over 99 percent make rate on the shorter PAT’s.

Baseball Talk

It is hard to believe but the major league baseball season is already 25% complete. Though the season is relatively young, there have been numerous surprises thus far.

Let me start with the Houston Astros. Houston, we no longer have a problem. For the past few years, the Astros have been the worst team in baseball. Over the past four years, Houston lost  92, 111, 107 and 106 games.  Last year’s 92-loss total was actually a big improvement. But nothing like this season. This year, as I write this, they lead the AL West with a 23-13 record, 4.5 games ahead of the Angels for first, 10 ahead of formerly dominant Oakland. A great deal of credit goes to starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel. Last season, Keuchel went 12-9 with a 2.91 ERA. So far this season he is 5-0 with a 1.87 ERA, third in the American League behind Seattle’s Felix Hernandez (6-0, 1.85 ERA) and Oakland’s Sonny Gray (4-1, 1.61 ERA).

Speaking of Sonny Gray and Oakland, it looks like the A’s will take over as the game’s worst team. After a decent run the past five years or so, mediocrity has returned to Oakland. It was somewhat expected as the franchise got rid of almost every key player during the offseason. The result is that the 2015 Oakland A’s are 13-23, dead last in the AL West and 10 games behind first in the division. Despite having two of the league’s top 10 starting pitchers in Gray and Scott Kazmir.

This was supposed to be the Washington Nationals season. The Nats were supposed to have the best starting pitching in the game. Especially with the addition of Max Scherzer.

Actually, Scherzer has done his part as he has a 1.99 ERA despite being just 3-3.

But the other four pitchers in the rotation have ERA’s beyond 4.00, highlighted by Stephen Strasburg’s 6.06 ERA with a 2-4 record so far. If Washington is going to meet expectations, Strasburg, is going to have to figure it out.

Taking advantage of the Nationals slow start in the NL East is the New York Mets. It has been a long time since the Mets contended for anything. With the return of Matt Harvey to the starting rotation and the continued development and growth of 2014 NL Rookie of the Year Jacob deGrom, the New York Mets were expected to be better. And they are hanging in there so far. Even after losing Zach Wheeler in spring training, the Mets still find themselves on top of the NL East, ahead of Washington who was expected to run away with the division over the winter. The Mets starting rotation is second in the Majors in ERA (3.11), second in total earned runs allowed (108), third in WHIP (1.16), third in total runs allowed (120) and ninth in batting average allowed (.240). Speaking of that Harvey guy, he’s 5-1 with a 2.31 ERA, ninth in the National League in his first month back on the mound after missing last season due to injury.  He’s already picked up right where he left off, striking out 47 batters so far and holding hitters to a combined .214 batting average.

Lastly, how about those New York Yankees? And how about A-Rod? This was supposed to be the year he returned to the game after a season-long suspension and embarrass himself. And this was supposed to be the year the Mets caught and surpassed the Yanks. Borrowing Lee Corso’s like ‘not so fast my friends.’ The Bronx Bombers are 21-16, a game ahead of Tampa Bay in the AL East. New York is second in home runs (44) thanks to the solid hitting of both Mark Teixiera, who leads the team with 11 home runs, and Alex Rodriguez, who’s second on the team with nine homers. A-Rod may be the most interesting man of the lineup.  For a guy who hasn’t played in a year, Rodriguez has been very impressive so far as the team’s designated hitter, hitting .250 in 34 games with nine home runs and 21 RBI.  Whether or not he can keep up this pace for an entire season seems to be a stretch, however A-Rod is surprising virtually everyone. On the mound, the Yanks have gotten some solid pitching from Michael Pineda (5-1, 3.31 ERA, 55 K).

I see the Yankees and Mets fading as season progresses. But I would not mind seeing a Big Apple World Series sometime in my lifetime.
































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