Rose Bowl takes a hit; Yanks do it again

The TV ratings are in for Monday’s Rose Bowl game and it turns out to be the lowest rated Rose Bowl game ever. Perhaps it was the game being played on Jan. 2, because New Year’s Day fell on a Sunday. Maybe it was some people returning to work on Monday. Perhaps the Utah vs. Penn St. matchup wasn’t among the most glamorous.

Whatever the reason The Athletic reports that 10.2 million people watched the game on ESPN, making it the lowest-watched Rose Bowl, beating out the 2016 Stanford-Iowa game, which attracted 13.6 million viewers.

Incidentally, 10.2 million is not bad. Many sports would love to produce those numbers.

Cashman’s kitchen cabinet

New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman is putting together some kitchen cabinet, isn’t he? Two days after announcing that former San Francisco Giants GM Brian Sabean had been hired as an executive advisor, the Yankees brought former New York Mets GM Omar Minaya into the fold. On Thursday it was revealed that Minaya will join the Yankees as a senior adviser.

Maybe Cashman has grown sensitive to the charge the front office had grown overly dependent on analytics. Not that Sabean and Minaya have disdained analytics but the addition of two executives with a combined four decades plus of baseball administrative experience may be designed to bring balance to the organization’s approach, as it seeks to win that elusive World Championship. The Yankees, perennial playoff participants, have not won the World Series since 2009.

Yankees hire Sabean

The New York Yankees have made a great move, hiring Brian Sabean to be an adviser to GM Brian Cashman. Kudos to Cashman for hiring someone with this much expertise and not feeling threatened. Cashman just signed a four-year deal to stay as GM, so that doesn’t hurt.

Sabean once worked for the Yankees, before leaving to help build the San Francisco Giants, who won three World Series under his guidance. The announcement on Tuesday comes 50 years to the day CBS sold the Yankees to a group led by George Steinbrenner.

More than a year ago, the New York media was hyping Sabean to lead the Mets baseball operations, after he moved into an advisory capacity with the Giants.

Quit second-guessing the NFL

Quit the second-guessing on how the NFL handled the Damar Hamlin health scare please. The Monday morning quarterbacks on social media are having a field day, second-guessing the NFL‘s delayed action in suspending Monday night’s game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Buffalo Bills, after Hamlin, a safety, collapsed following a hard hit by Bengals’ running back Tee Higgins.

Hamlin was given CPR on the field. In a statement released by the Bills early Tuesday morning, the club reported he suffered a “cardiac arrest following a hit…His heartbeat was restored on the field and he was transferred to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center for furthur testing and treatment. He is currently sedated and listed in critical condition.”

Yes, it took the NFL an hour before concluding the game should be suspended, but the fact is the league did get it right in deciding the game should not continue. Isn’t that what matters, the right decision was made?

Many of these critics on social media, who think the world revolves around their every opinion, were not at the stadium, were probably not even in Cincinnati and were sitting comfortably on their couches, second-guessing the delay. It does not matter that they weren’t privy to what was going on, they just had to let loose at the NFL without any knowledge of the behind-the-scenes activity.

Let’s keep the focus on Hamlin and hope that he has a full recovery. There will be plenty of time to examine protocol.

Time for Yankees to cut Judge cord

As the baseball winter meetings are running full bore in San Diego, rumors are flying about the game’s most sought after free agent Yankee Aaron Judge. All else most clubs do, especially the Yankees, rests on Judge’s decision.

On the Yankees YES network last night, GM Brian Cashman – who earlier in the day signed a four-year contract to stay with the Yankees, would not confirm that New York had offered Judge an eight-year $300M deal. Adding to the intrigue, Judge was seen at last night’s Tampa Bay-New Orleans game, the guest of Tom Brady.

If that wasn’t enough, TIME, the once well circulated now mostly niche magazine, named Judge it’s “Athlete of the Year.” In the story, Judge is quoted as saying he was not happy that Cashman went public with the Yankees contract offer of seven years, $213M, before the season started. Now in every interview, Cashman is tripping over himself to say nice things about Judge.

I say enough. Jon Heyman is reporting that the San Francisco Giants, Judge’s favorite team when he was growing up, has a $360M offer on the table. The length of the contract is not known.

If I am the Yankees, I say good riddance. See you on Opening Day, when the Giants come to Yankee Stadium to start the season. The Yankees would be better off taking the money they are offering Judge to sign a high profile free agent pitcher, Xander Bogaerts, the free agent shortstop and outfielder Brandon Nimmo. They could also package their infield prospects in another deal.

Let Judge be the Giants problem. Other than this year’s great season, Judge has been injury prone. Yes, he has posted some impressive numbers prior to this year, but those numbers always seem to get short-circuited with injuries. When this new contract begins, Judge will be 31. He may have a couple of great years left, but he will never live up to the $360M contract.

The Yankees have not won the big prize with Judge. They would have a better chance of winning their first World Series since 2009, if they plow the resources earmarked for Judge to other areas, as described above. Their current offer to Judge is fair and they should now wish him good luck and move on. Let Judge become this decade’s Robinson Cano.

deGrom did Mets a favor

I wish Jacob deGrom good luck. I really do. I wish for players to earn as much money as they can get. But I also see management’s side. Apparently the Mets would not commit to the contract length deGrom was seeking, although some accounts indicate the Mets were never given the chance to counter.

He may be a pitcher whose stats are off the charts in the modern era, but deGrom will also turn 35 at season’s start and is injury prone. Mets owner Steve Cohen did not make his billions by snap judgement, no matter how many Mets fans wanted him to pony up to give deGrom whatever he wanted. Five years for an injury-prone pitcher at 35 is not worth the risk. Remember, with deGrom and Scherzer the Mets were ousted after three games in the postseason. In other words, with their exorbitant payroll, the Mets played three more games in their season than the worst team in baseball.

So I understand why the Mets did not pony up. Even billionaires have a bottom line. And maybe it works out for Texas, which has had six straight losing seasons. Maybe the Lone Star State becomes the baseball universe with the Astros and Rangers. But the Mets are not losers in this, even though deGrom is gone and Mets fans are pained. Cohen now has millions more to plow into improving his club. And do not worry, Mets fans, he will spend it, all the while performing a balancing act between building a pennant winner and a perennial contender. Do not dispair.

What was the most watched NFL regular season game?

Turns out the New York Giants-Dallas Cowboys Thanksgiving Day game was the most watched regular season NFL game in history. That is correct. History!

Counting streaming, because that is a growing area for how viewers consume content, 42 million people watched the game. When you consider Dallas pulled away in the second-half but the audience held, it is quite a statement as to how the most popular sports leagues in the USA holds an audience. Although some might add, with legalized betting, that is another reason the league holds sway over the country. And that is a subject for another day, as the Giants late-game TD proved costly to those who bet the Cowboys, a 10-point favorite.

To put the game’s ratings in perspective, the regular season contest blew out the sixth and final game of the World Series, won by the Houston Astros over the Philadelphia Phillies. That game attracted only 12.5 million viewers. In other words, baseball is as much America’s National Pastime as boxing and horse racing. It’s not. The NFL is king, followed by college football. Everyone else comes in a distant second. That is why, even in a tenuous economy, advertisers keep running to the NFL.

Don’t expect the blueprint to change anytime soon.

NFL Thanksgiving Day predictions

I have never been good at predicting games and that is why I make few predictions. Forecasting the outcome is an inexact science. After all, that is why they play the games. Nevertheless, predicting games can be fun, especially if you don’t have money on the outcome.

So here goes. My predictions on today’s NFL Thanksgiving Day games.

  • The Lions will beat the Bills. Detroit has won three straight and is playing at home. Granted, the Bills are picked by many to make it to the Super Bowl and did win at Ford Field over the Browns on Sunday, when the game was moved their because of the snowstorm in Buffalo, but I like the Lions.
  • Dallas over the Giants. This is tough, because I am a longtime Giants fan, but I cannot pick with my heart here. The Giants are one of the surprise teams this season, but last week for the first time lost a game they should have won, falling to Detroit at home. Plus Dallas has New York’s number, is riding high after that dominant win Sunday at Minnesota and is playing home on Thanksgiving. Enough said.
  • Minnesota to beat the Patriots. Look for a bounce back game from a very good Vikings club. Yes, the Pats are a surprising 6-4 and have the GOAT coach, but their offense is practically nonexistent and the Vikes are playing at home. Can the Pats pull a rabbit out of their hat? Of course, but I don’t see it happening here.

These are my outright selections sans point spread. Enjoy the games and Happy Thanksgiving.

Weather podcast returns

The Brad Field Weather Podcast returns for another winter season and I am proud to once again serve as co-host of the show with award winning meteorologist Brad Field. For years Brad was the chief meteorologist at NBC Connecticut, winning numerous awards. At WDRC radio in Hartford, where I had a show, Brad would be a frequent guest. In 2018, he and I decided to reprise our radio repartee with the BFW Podcast. We produced our first podcast in December of 2018. This season, in addition to audio, we plan on doing more video. Below is the first episode of the new season.

“Somebody shot the president”

Tuesday will mark 59 years since President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, TX. Though only in the third grade, I remember the day vividly, from when my teacher came into the classroom shaken, to the walk home from school to the weekend of mourning and murder of the alleged assassin.

In my weekly sports newsletter, which you can subscribe to on this page, I write about that day, as well as other topics that are more related to sports.