A Black Eye On America’s Sport

I love baseball.  I’ve loved it ever since I was a little boy back in the early 1980s.  Every April, my older brother and I would sit around and hope that our team, the New York Yankees wouldn’t come in last place.  Anything but last, we were happy with.  Then, a decade later, the Yankees started to get better and they made the playoffs.  We just wanted them to win a playoff series.  I’ll never forget the moment that happened.  I was 17 years old, in college, and they finally beat the Texas Rangers to advance one step closer to the ultimate prize: the World Series.  Next, they beat the Baltimore Orioles, during the tail end of Cal Ripken’s career, and they wound up coming from behind, in an unbelievable fashion, to beat the Atlanta Braves.  I remember it like it was yesterday: being in my friends’ dorm room in college, celebrating when Charlie Hayes caught the ball in third base foul territory and it was over…my team actually won something.  Even though I was living in Ohio at the time, boy did I celebrate…my mom and dad are now thinking, “Money well spent”.

Ever since then, I knew that no matter what, I saw my team win the ultimate prize.  Anything else is icing on the cake.  So, of course, I was thrilled when the Yankees won in 98, 99, 2000 and 2009.  Even my favorite college basketball team, Syracuse won in 2003.  I’ve been very blessed with my sports teams.

I grew up with baseball, and college basketball.  In upstate New York, those sports were huge.

When I moved to Florida in 2005, I realized the local sports fandom turned upside down and here, everyone loves college football and the NFL.  I held out for a long time, talking baseball, hoping I could find baseball fans.  I could have spray painted my house in red, saying “Red Sox suck!!” and people would have wondered if the Red Sox were in the SEC.

I have given up and it pains me to say this, but America, unfortunately has adopted the NFL as its sport.  It’s awful to admit, it’s hurtful to concede, but it has been time.  When ESPN was doing daily NFL shows in April, a good five months before the season started, I knew it was time to waive the flag.

And, now I sit here, to tell you that the NFL needs to get its act together.  This league is a multi billion dollar industry.  I think their commissioner Roger Goodell actually rolls in the money, inside a big money vault, ala Scrooge McDuck style.  However, the one thing that is shaming Goodell and his league right now are these replacement refs.

Goodell and his owners have locked out the regular refs because the regulars want a 401K, and they don’t want what the league insists on which is a seven man, three crew referee system that roves around replacing the regular refs, when the regulars have a bad game.  The refs make pennies compared to what the league brings in.  However, Goodell won’t budge, and the refs won’t budge and now, the games aren’t completely legitimate.

You think I’m joking…watch the end of last night’s Packers/Seahawks game where Seahawks receiver Golden Tate two arm pushed the Packers defender (which is offensive pass interference) before jumping up to not catch a Hail Mary pass, because Packers safety M.D. Jennings caught it, only to have Tate wrestle it away from him five seconds later, and one ref called it a touchdown and one ref called it a touchback (meaning the Packers intercepted the ball), only to have the replay clearly show the Packers had the ball, and yet the call wasn’t overturned on replay, which blows my mind, because the first ref called it a touchdown, and he’s the same ref that missed the offensive pass interference call…whew!

Most of these refs have never officiated a game above the Division III level.  Now, they have jumped over two bigger leagues to referee the BIGGEST league, and it’s all out there for us to see them screwing up.  Can you blame the guys?  They’re not used to the speed of the game, and they have been given very little training up until this point to officiate these games.  It was only a couple weeks before the season that the league said they were going to start with these replacement refs.  They have been thrown into the fire, without an extinguisher and they’re trying to calmly blow the flames out with their mouths.  It’s not working.

Super Bowl winning quarterback Drew Brees commented,”There’s definitely a lack of confidence in what’s going to get called and what’s not going to get called.  You know, they’re just not prepared to be in this situation. The game is so fast, and the level that all of them were at and now are at — it just doesn’t even compare. You know, I think it’s getting to a point where it’s pretty horrendous and it’s an embarrassment to the league and the way it’s being conducted.”

Super Bowl winning quarterback Aaron Rodgers said, “integrity of the game” by continuing to use replacement referees who are clearly unqualified and ill-prepared to officiate NFL games.”

Super Bowl winning coach Bill Belichick grabbed an official after Sunday night’s loss because of a phantom pass interference call that didn’t give him his desired outcome on the game.

Every week, these refs are blowing calls.  Players have admitted to intimidating these refs into giving them favorable calls.  It has really turned into a circus.

As much as I love baseball, and have lamented the growth of the NFL, even I can admit this is bad, America.  Your sport is being hijacked by these Division III refs.

Hey, America, baseball is ready to come back and be your sport if you will open your arms again.  Any chance you’ll have us???

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