Thursday, October 21, 2010

On Head Hits and Big Hits

I hadn't seen the Steelers game Sunday, but I've seen the repeated clips of James Harrison's hits to the head, as well as the others singled out by the League for big fines and warnings of suspensions to come. I can understand Harrison's hurt and confusion at being singled out, and not having good alternatives--to the point where he was considering retirement today. But I for one am increasingly turned off by the sport when I see hits like that, and players carted off.

TV sports coverage bears a lot of responsibility by praising them and showing them over and over on Sportscenter, etc. through the years. I also agree with this column by Gene Collier in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette that notes that those hits didn't get penalties, and it is up to officials to start enforcing those rules:

"Perhaps owing to the unrelenting cadence of high-speed collisions, perhaps in deference to marketing forces that position the game as some celebration of violent acts you'd get arrested for in any other place, the modern NFL official enforces league rules selectively, ignoring some, insisting that others receive 100 percent compliance.

So please, keep those end-zone celebrations tasteful. Catering is frowned upon, certainly.

The most ignored rule in the league's ever-fluid digest of not-terribly-well-written rules is the one about the helmet

The truth is that football used to be played without these kinds of violent collisions and hits to the head. And if it is true that injury is inevitable whether someone is hit high or low, then it's time to end this game. I don't think it's necessary. I'm sure it's also due to players being bigger, stronger and in many cases faster than players in the past. But this can't be ignored.

Switching to baseball, the Giants started hitting just in time to go up 3 games to 1 over the Phillies. Buster Posey had a career day, with four important hits, two RBIs and a great play at the plate. The Phillies hitters are still dangerous, and the longer the series goes on, the more looks they have at Giant pitchers, but the Phillies bullpen has not served them well, and it may take more than a day off to fix that. I see this going 6, though the Giants seem incapable of making anything easy.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Following Up: A Little Bit of Everything

Both elements of the Steelers-Browns game I worried about happened--but the Steelers still won handily. Big Ben was rusty, and had a shaky first half. Colt McCoy did have a pretty good game, at least statistically. (He also was sacked five times, and threw interceptions.) But by the third quarter the Steelers got tracked, and the Browns got beat.

Helping the Steelers, the Patriots beat the Ravens in overtime. Now the Steelers will really find out how good they are. So far they're certainly much better than I thought they'd be. And nobody else is quite as good as advertised.

Meanwhile in baseball, both series' are 1-1. The Yankees have their hands full with the upstart Texans, and in their second game the Phillies got the timely hits they needed and the dominant pitching they thought they'd get in the first game against the Giants. The third game is very important for the Giants. It's funny how the commentators turned on the Phillies after they lost the first game. If the Giants had taken 2 in Philly, then I'd say they were favorites. But now, they'd have to be 3-1. The Giants still haven't had a breakout hitting game in the postseason. They need one soon.