Archive for the 'referees' Category

Dallas Outlasts Philly, 41-37; Refs Flop Again

In an exciting shootout, Dallas shined on its final possession while Philly fizzled. In fact, Donovan McNabb, who had amazed throughout the entire game, failed on his last 2 series, causing fans to wonder again, Can DM do it in the clutch?

It was actually the next-to-last possession that cost the Eagles the game. With a 3-point lead and driving on Dallas, McNabb messed up a routine handoff to the incredible Brian Westbrook … and the ‘Boys recovered.

Still it was an exciting game, though, once again riddled with officiating errors. This time though, they really did even out. The errors cost both teams in different parts of the game. NFL officiating is pitiful. It must improve!

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What’s Wrong with Baseball

As we prepare to continue this series here is a review of numbers 7-10 of the list. Click on the titles to read the articles. Number 6 to appear soon.

10: Wimpy Pitchers

9: The Designated Hitter

8: Cheating

7: The Concept of the Closer

Refs Hand Game to Cowboys; Officiating Partial?

“The pass interference play that wasn’t.” —Bryant Gumbel 

No neutral viewer (which I was in this game) could go away from this game thinking both teams got an even shake. Call after call went against the Carolina Panthers, who would have upset Dallas without the apparent complicity of the officials. It was obvious the refs were calling marginal penalties against Carolina while ignoring egregious violations of the rules against the preferred ‘Boys, especially the obvious pass interference, run repeatedly on the NFL Network, that Gumbel and Collingsworth both agreed had to be a penalty and totally reversed the fortunes of the game. 

Even with all the refs did for them, Dallas could only muster a 20-13 victory.

They didn’t earn it. Dallas fans can’t be proud about this one. It was a shameful display by the officials and, for at least one game, put the Cowboys on the same moral low-ground as the New England Patriots. Appropriate, I guess, since the two teams may meet in the Super Bowl. Only something has changed, at least for me. Up till tonight I would have been rooting for Dallas in that game. After tonight’s preferential, shameful display, I’ll have a hard time watching that game, if indeed it does materialize. 

John Fox, you’ve got a right to be angry. The officiating system, in front of the whole world, let you down, and cast doubt upon the integrity of the system.

Cowboys fans, hang your heads.

Kill the Sidelines Timeout

Put the game back in the hands of the players. Kill the timeout from the sidelines. Coaches messing with kickers has caused a number of double kicks, which sometimes backfires, and is definitely not fair to kickers. Now, Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan has added a new twist, calling a sidelines timeout moments before Tom Brady was stuffed on a fourth-and-1 sneak, negating the play and robbing the Ravens of a deserved upset against the less-than-perfect Patriots. After two other fourth down reprieves, Brady threw a winning TD.

It was like the 1972 Summer Olympics Gold Medal basketball game, when the three Eastern Bloc judges kept giving the Soviets chance after final chance until they won. Here it was not corrupt judges; it seemed more to be Fate.

And a hare-brained coach. Who called timeout as his valiant players exerted their final majestic effort … successfully, but fruitlessly.

This game will be remembered for a long time. Maybe not as long as the ’72 Olympics (the silver medals still sit unclaimed in a vault in Lusanne, Switzerland), but still a long time … for Ravens fans … and Patriots haters.

So, please. NFL, put the game back in the hands of the players. Kill the timeout from the sidelines.

Cowboys Win; T.O. Does Volleyball Impersonation

The Dallas Cowboys (11-1) defeated the Green Bay Packers (10-2), 37-27, last night in Texas, taking a huge advantage in the home-field-advantage race in the NFC. In a game televised only on NFL Network and thus leaving a lot of fans out in the cold and unable to see this marquee match-up, it was also disappointing that Brett Favre was injured early, meaning the NFC match of the season would not be decided by a head-to-head battle of the two QB stars.

But Aaron Rodgers surprised everyone. He actually performed better than Favre had before he left … and gave GB a real chance to win.

Terrell Owens had a great game but did another of his volleyball impersonations, clubbing a sure, short touchdown pass right to him with brick-like hands, and serving the ball gently into the arms of the Packers’ grateful Al Harris. (Shades of the time he did this as a member of the San Francisco 49ers, batting an easy catch to DB Mike Jones early in overtime with the Chicago Bears, which Jones promptly returned for a game-ending TD.)

T.O. also gave away another one that the incompetent refs covered for him on. Al Harris clearly stripped T.O. for an interception . Replay should have been able to reverse this. But we’re back to a blundering ref blowing a whistle at the wrong tim, saying “forward progress was stopped.” No way.

Will Favre return? The Pack may need him to lead them again on this same field in the playoffs.

Refs Strike Again, Negating Sessions’ Near Field-Length Return

Rookie linebacker Clint Sessions scooped up the first of his two interceptions Sunday as it bounced off two teammates in the Colts’ end zone, and in one motion rolled to a standing position and took off, never having been touched. He motored all the way to the Chargers’ 7-yard-line.

But wait! That bane of NFL fair play strikes again … the inadvertant whistle. On the replay you hear it blow while Sessions is running, just before he exits the end zone. Why on earth would it blow then? The call on the field was an interception. This could have drastically altered the game, which San Diego won by 2 points. As it was, the Colts, starting on their own 20, didn’t score at all on the possession.

I know, I know. The Colts beat themselves, with Peyton Manning being very un-Peyton-like, throwing 6 interceptions, a club record, and Adam Vinitieri, that paragon of all football kickers, missing two field goals, including a chip shot that should have won the game in the closing minutes. Still, with all they did wrong, had the official not blown this call the Colts could have—probably would have—won.

I’m not a Colts fan. I am just a fan who is tired of referees deciding games and robbing NFL fans of exciting plays due to their bungling incompetence.

Manning’s performance (or lack thereof) is a huge story, as is Vinitieri’s meltdown. Tony Dungy, with typical class, cited a myriad of reasons the Colts didn’t win the game, portraying it as their own fault. And that it was … for all but one play … the Sessions end-zone interception.

The Chargers jumped out to a huge lead early, riding the coattails of great defense and special teams (two kick return TDs) play. Philip Rivers and LaDainian Tomlinson did not play well.

But neither did the Colts. Still, even though Indy was minus Marvin Harrison and other key players, they almost pulled it off. And they would have, if that errant ref had been competent.

What’s Wrong With Baseball #8: Cheating

Cheating would come in at No. 1 if I were currently doing a series on What’s Wrong With Football. And there would be something about Belichick and video tape. But baseball is far from being above the cheating fray. And it never has been. While Bill Belichick has taken cheating to a whole new level of sophistication, similar things have been done in baseball for a long time, though not quite in such a refined manner (e.g., binoculars in the scoreboard stealing signs).

The cheating that stands out right now … I mean right now … is steroids, and related substances. I really hope there is a way Paul Byrd can be found innocent. (See “Byrd Revelation Casts Pall Over Indians-Red Sox Game 7.”) Barry Bonds is still on the hook, though nothing has yet been proven. Then we have Giambi.

Perhaps the most disappointing is Mark McGwire, who has disappeared since his sworn testimony evaporated.

Let’s be honest about cheating. It has been part of the national pastime in more ways than can be enumerated from memory.

There was the out-in-the-open dirty play … Ty Cobb sliding into the bag with his spikes high.

Gamblers fixed games … whatever one believes about the Black Sox … perhaps the worst form of cheating.

There was one that was so universally used that they had to create a rule to prevent it … the spitter. Gaylord Perry, where are you now? We even hear about little edges that Hall-of-Fame greats like Whitey Ford used to get … digging a wedding ring into a ball, for example.

My goal is not to list all the types of cheating in baseball. You can stretch the whole ethics issue here. How about a catcher framing a pitch to try to fool the umpire? I remember once playing first base in a pick-up game. One of our infielders tossed me a ground ball, which arrived at about the same time as the runner, but clearly beat him. I had to come into the line to get the wide throw and the runner slammed into me. I went sprawling, tearing a brand-new pair of pants (in the days before rips became desirable).

The runner jumped off the ground. “He didn’t touch the bag,” he yelled repeatedly. Everyone considered him out. I was the only one who knew he was right. But I was ticked about the pants. I didn’t say I did touch the bag, but I didn’t say I didn’t either. So he was out. That was unethical … and now it’s finally off my chest.

My point is … even little forms of cheating, like trying to get an edge with the umps, are cheating.

We would all love it if we could free the game of the big cheats and forms of cheating. But how about we just expect adults who play baseball to be honest. Now, wouldn’t that be refreshing?