The Saturday Sitdown...

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    XFL logo
  • Dan Pearson
    Dan Pearson
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Have had the pleasure of playing golf many times with former Major League player and manager Hal Lanier over the last decade, and have always enjoyed his insight, retelling of baseball stories from the 1960s, and his opinion on the present state of game.

On the current mess with the Astros, Hal told me that stealing signals has been part of the game a long time and he was not just referring to a man on base peaking in at a catcher. He said when he was playing, it was well known that some teams kept a guy in the stands of the outfield with binoculars trying to get an edge. But he also said something that really caught my attention that had nothing to do with cheating.

“Sandy Koufax was not a mystery. He would always tip his pitches. For example, you could always tell when a fastball was coming by the way he breathed and shrugged his shoulders before he started his windup. The problem was you knew it was coming and you still couldn’t hit it.”….

Public Service Announcement: The next time you pop that bubble wrap to release stress, remember the air inside of those plastic bubbles came from China…

While I think there is a place for spring football in the United States, I still believe the XFL has the same major problem facing the NBA G-League, minor league baseball and hockey, and the Korn Ferry Tour in golf – namely the athletes are simply not playing in the top league of their sport. Fans are not ignorant. They know that there’s a reason these athletes are playing in the XFL and not the NFL. While competing head to head with the NFL for top talent would be suicide, I do see one area where the XFL has a chance to capture a lot more attention and that’s by signing and playing top level college talent before they are eligible for the NFL Draft.

For example, if the XFL had offered Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence a million or two to play this spring, I think it would have created tremendous interest in the league. And while Lawrence said he had no interest, I have to believe there is a lot of top college talent whose sole goal is to play professional football, who might say yes to getting paid to play as they prepare for the NFL Draft….

Funny saying on T-shirt spotted on street: “People Who Tolerate Me on a Daily Basis…Now Those Are the Real Heroes”….

Did you see Commissioner Rob Manfred’s plan for expanding and changing the baseball playoff format? Playoff teams would go from five to seven in each league.

The division winner with the best record in each league would get a bye in the wild card round and would automatically advance to the division series. The other six teams would play a best-of-three wild card round. What really makes this plan interesting is the non-bye team with the best record would get to select its first round opponent. Let’s say Tampa Bay had the second best record, and let’s say the Cleveland Indians has the worst record of wild card teams.

Under normal seeding, they would play each other in the wild card round. But what if Cleveland is a bad matchup for Tampa Bay and beat the Rays 9 of 12 times in the regular season? Under Manfred’s plan, Tampa Bay could elect to play either of the other two wild card qualifiers. While that aspect is radical, I like the idea of the wild card going to a bestof-three format.

I never liked a onegame sudden death format of the wild card game, as I never believed baseball was meant to be a one-and-done sport. As a reward for either winning your division or having the best wild card record, those teams will host all three games of the wild card round…

A favorite presidential quote from George W. Bush to ponder during this election cycle….“To those of you who received honors, awards, and distinctions, I say, ‘Well done.’ And to the C students, I say you, too, can be president of the United States”…

Bringing the heat. Major League Baseball and Stat Cast recently released their list of the hardest throwing rotations in baseball.

The methodology they used was taking the projected five starters and dividing their average fastball for each start. The Tampa Bay Rays were ranked as the hardest throwing staff, with their five starters possessing an average fastball of 94.9 mph (led by Tyler Glasnow’s 96.5 average). The Yankees (94.4), led by Gerrit Cole (97.1), were second on the list and the Mets (94.4) were third, led by Noah Syndergaard (97.6). Ten teams had staffs with average fastballs topping 93.4 mph.

Baseball has always had hard throwers, it’s a different game today. The big thing is all the starters are over 90 and most of the bullpens, especially the closers, are that way too”…

Y’all have a great week.