NFL ratings dip

NFL ratings for the first two rounds of the post-season are “down” but every other sports league would settle for the league’s numbers. To put it in perspective, the last time a non-NFL program came close to NFL ratings was Game 7 of the 2016 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians.

What is interesting is the Sunday NFL game between Tampa Bay and New Orleans was down 10%. That was the game featuring Tom Brady for the Bucs and Drew Brees – in his last game – for the Saints at quarterback. Still, attracting 35.46 million viewers for a second round playoff game is nothing to sneeze at.

A quarterback matchup between two heavyweights would seem to be a large attraction, but one needs to wonder how much the pandemic has impacted sports in general. In other words, with limited or no attendance permitted, out of sight might mean out of mind.

The big test will be this weekend, when the Bucs travel to Green Bay for the NFC Championship game. Brady vs. Aaron Rodgers, Bucs vs. one of the league’s signature franchises, should be enough to mobilize near, record ratings. Count me among those who will be watching.

Toronto Blue Jays making their move

The Toronto Blue Jays are making their move. Much like the San Diego Padres, the Blue Jays believe the deals they are engineering will augment a core group of talented players that will contend in the AL Eastern Division.

After word of free agent outfielder George Springer’s deal (the story broke from a barbershop chair) was revealed, the Blue Jays have now agreed to a contract with free agent Kirby Yates (P).*

These signings by Toronto arguably installs the club as division favorites, even though the franchise doesn’t know if it will play in Canada in 2021 because of Covid-19.

Add these three players to the talented trio of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette and Cavin Biggio (three players I had the chance to see on a regular basis, broadcasting in the Eastern League) and a steady pitching corps and you have the makings of a solid contender.

Certainly the Yankees will be tough, but AL defending champion Tampa Bay has taken a step back with the loss of pitchers Blake Snell and Charles Morton. The Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles are in rebuild mode. That sets the stage for a two-team divisional battle.

These latest signings by the Blue Jays, who announced two weeks ago that club president Mark Shapiro was given a five-year contract extension, is proof Toronto has entered a win-at-all-costs-phase, no matter where the club’s home games are played.

And earlier story had the Blue Jays and Michael Brantley agreeing on a contract.

Mets not best in division

Even though the New York Mets have made major improvements, they are still not the best club in their division. And this was even before the reprehensible behavior of now departed General Manager Jared Porter, after one month on the job.

Mets fans have designs of a 2021 World Series appearance under billionaire owner Steven Cohen, but as I outline in this piece, their favorites still have much work ahead.


Josh McDaniels must say “yes”

Josh McDaniels must say “yes,” if he is offered the job as the next coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. Word is McDaniels is the front runner for the position, after a lengthy interview with the Eagles pooh-bahs on Sunday. Saying “no” to a job offer would probably end his dreams of once again becoming an NFL head coach.

McDaniels, currently OC of the New England Patriots, has had two successful tenures as an assistant on coach Bill Belichick’s staff, but was a flop as head coach of the Denver Broncos. Following his successful resurrection, McDaniels annoyed numerous people when he backed out of the Indianapolis Colts head coaching post, after agreeing to take the job.

The NFL is trending toward younger assistant coaches for new head coaching hires, almost making the 44-year-old McDaniels older than he is. These days, it’s not often you get a second chance. There is no way McDaniels can say “no” to a third opportunity.

Elston Howard should be in Hall of Fame

Isn’t it time to enshrine Elston Howard in the baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown? Isn’t it time to recognize the great career of the first African-American to play for the exalted New York Yankees?

In my latest Substack post, I make the case why it is time to have that conversation. And while you are there, I would be most appreciative if you subscribe to my Sportscaster Dan newsletter.

Thank you.