Deflated Football

Great Moments In Living with the NFL Hegemony

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A true story from late this morning:

Guy: Thank you for calling DirecTV, how can I help you?

Me: Hi, I just got the notice that my NFL Sunday Ticket package is going to renew in September unless I call to cancel. I’d like to cancel, please.

Guy: You currently have NFL Sunday Ticket, correct?

Me: Well, I had it last season. It was free as part of that offer. I don’t want to pay for it, though, so I’d like to cancel.

Guy: Would you be willing to keep NFL Sunday Ticket if it were offered at a lower price?

Me: No. I don’t watch football. Just, not at all. I had it free last year and didn’t use it once.

Guy: You don’t watch football?

Me: An occasional college game, but I don’t like the NFL.

Guy [somewhat incredulously]: You’re not an NFL fan? Really?

Me: Really.

Guy: I see you have the MLB Extra Innings package, though.

Me: Well, yes. That’s baseball. I like baseball. I don’t like football, though, so I don’t want the football package.

Guy: I’m sorry, I just meant that I see that you’re a sports fan, so . . . [tails off, realizing he’s straying from “the customer is always right” thing]

Me: Nah.

Guy: OK, I’ll have to transfer you to our cancellations department. I’ll just put a note on your account [quotes note as he’s typing] “Does. Not. Like. The. NFL.” [there is still a pretty strong note of incredulity in his voice].

To be fair, the representative to whom I spoke was quite pleasant and, after that brief exchange, my request was handled to my satisfaction, as was another unrelated request. I really do love DirecTV and have never had a thing to complain about with respect to their product or their customer service. I highly recommend them if you have the means and don’t have tall trees to you direct southwest.

Still: the notion that someone merely saying that they’re not a fan of professional football is surprising to people tickles me. You can tell it made him go off script for a second. I almost felt like it would’ve been easier to whip out the almost always inadvisable “don’t you know who I am?” thing. Because if he was aware of my football-hating bonafides, it woulda saved us some time.

Justin Verlander: “I’d like to see the AL and NL have the same rules… I vote NL rules.”

SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 10:  Starting pitcher Justin Verlander #35 of the Detroit Tigers pitches against the Seattle Mariners in the first inning at Safeco Field on August 10, 2016 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
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On Thursday afternoon, Rays pitcher Chris Archer asked his Twitter followers, “Lots swirling around what needs to be changed about the game of baseball. What do y’all want to see changed, if anything, & why?”

Tigers ace Justin Verlander responded:

To that, Archer said:

For what it’s worth, Verlander hasn’t been much of a hitter. In 47 career plate appearances, he has three singles and no extra-base hits. And if the AL did get rid of the DH rule, the Tigers would have nowhere to put Victor Martinez. Verlander, though, would have an easier time pitching to opposing pitchers rather than their DH’s.

Rusney Castillo disappoints again by not running out a routine grounder

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 18:  Rusney Castillo #38 of the Boston Red Sox reacts after he was caught off third base for the third out of the third inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on August 18, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
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The Red Sox inked Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo to a seven-year, $72.5 million contract back in August 2014. Over parts of three seasons, the 29-year-old has a .679 OPS across 337 plate appearances in the majors and spent the vast majority of the 2016 season at Triple-A Pawtucket.

Castillo had a chance to start things off on the right foot in 2017, but that ship has already sailed. On Thursday against Northeastern at JetBlue Park, Castillo didn’t run out a routine ground ball. He claims he lost track of the outs. Manager John Farrell isn’t happy about the situation. Via Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald:

“Disappointing for a couple of reasons,” Sox manager John Farrell said. “One, he has lost the number of outs. Still, regardless of another of outs, getting down the line is controllable. And for a player in his situation, every little aspect of the game is important. That’s something that was addressed in the moment. He needs to execute the game situation. And for that matter, every player. But that one obviously stood out.”

Everyone always makes far too big a deal about running out grounders. It’s a real nit to pick when it’s February 23 and your team just finished playing an exhibition game that is even more meaningless than the other exhibition games that will be played in the coming month.

That being said, Castillo has to prove himself to merit inclusion on the 25-man roster and that means dotting all his i’s and crossing all his t’s. Even if he went hitless all spring, Castillo could have at least said he couldn’t have done anything else better. But on day one, he already gave his team a reason to count him out.