Tom Verducci — a baseball guy — has a football-related column up over at Sports Illustrated today in which he throws in some baseball spice to the NFL soup:
Baseball fans get the importance of context on performance — especially where the game is being played — going all the way back to the debate over what would have happened if Ted Williams were a Yankee taking aim at the rightfield short porch in the Bronx and Joe DiMaggio were a Red Sox swatting away at the Green Monster.
Football, however, treats teams and quarterbacks with almost no regard for context. Sure, unlike baseball, the dimensions of the playing field are uniform, but football is a very different game depending on where it is played because of the elements.
Verducci then proceeds to explain how Peyton Manning and Drew Brees are somewhat overrated due to the fact that they play in domes, and how Aaron Rodgers is underrated because he plays outside in the cold all the time. He goes on to note that Ben Roethlisberger indoor/outdoor splits aren’t as pronounced, thus Rodgers has the advantage in the Super Bowl. Which is fine as far as it goes.
But with the caveat that I read absolutely zero NFL analysis and don’t really plan to, I have to ask: is it really the case that no one analyzes this stuff already? I know there are football websites and blogs who have followed in the footsteps of baseball sabermetrcians. This stuff has to have been covered a decade ago, right? It seems fairly basic even to a non-analytical, non-football guy like me.
Am I wrong about that? Is it like Verducci says and football “treats teams and quarterbacks with almost no regard for context?” Or is that just teams and mainstream media who haven’t embraced advanced analysis like baseball teams and media have? Or is Verducci just wrong about it all and both teams and media covering the game have factored this stuff in years ago?
The NFL is a mutli-billion business and guys are on the firing line way more on a football team then any baseball manager or coach is. I have to think, then, that folks in the NFL are well aware of this kind of thing.
Brewers’ right-hander Phil Bickford received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a drug of abuse, per the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin. This is the second time Bickford has been suspended for recreational drug use, as he was previously penalized in 2015 after testing positive for marijuana prior to the amateur draft.
Bickford was selected by the Giants in the first round of the 2015 draft and was later dealt to the Brewers for lefty reliever Will Smith at the 2016 trade deadline. He finished his 2016 campaign in High-A Brevard County, pitching to a 3.67 ERA, 10.0 K/9 rate and 5.0 BB/9 over 27 innings.
Two other suspensions were handed down on Friday, one to Toronto minor league right-hander Pedro Loficial for a positive test for metabolites of Stanozolol and one to Miami minor league outfielder Casey Soltis for a second positive test for drugs of abuse. Loficial will serve a 72-game suspension, while Soltis will serve 50 games. All three suspensions are due to start at the beginning of the 2017 season for each respective minor league team.
Brewers’ GM David Stearns issued a statement after the Commissioner’s Office announced Bickford’s suspension (via Vince Lara-Cinisomo of Baseball America):
We are very disappointed to learn of Phil’s suspension, but we fully support the Minor League Baseball Drug Prevention and Testing Program and its enforcement by the Commissioner’s Office. Phil understands he made a mistake, and we fully anticipate that he will learn from this experience.
Confirming a report from Tuesday, the Diamondbacks officially signed right-hander Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million contract on Friday. The 39-year-old stands to receive up to $4 million in incentives, per Jack MacGruder of FanRag Sports, with $250,000 kicking in when the veteran reaches 40, 50 and 60 appearances and $500,000 if he reaches 70.
Rodney came three games shy of the 70-appearance mark in 2016 during back-to-back stints with the Padres and Marlins. He put up a cumulative 3.44 ERA on the year, which effectively disguised the extreme split during his performances in San Diego and Miami. The Diamondbacks aren’t anywhere close to contending in 2017, but Rodney should stabilize the back end of their bullpen while providing Arizona GM Mike Hazen with a potential trade chip during next year’s deadline.
Hazen issued a statement following the signing:
With Fernando, we’re getting an established Major League closer and a veteran presence in the bullpen. It is helpful to have someone with his experience on the back end to slow the game down and get the final three outs.