Category Archives: Sports Opinion

How the MLB’s revisions improve the game

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At the beginning of September, Major League Baseball announced three new changes that will alter how the game is played. Starting next year, the MLB will implement a pitch clock, increase the size of the bases, and enforce limits on the shift.

The new pitch clock will make it so that pitchers must begin their motion within 30 seconds between batters, 15 seconds for batters with no runners on base, and 20 seconds for batters when there are runners on base.

Pitchers will have two disengagements (pickoffs and step-offs) per batter, and if a third pickoff is unsuccessfully attempted, the runners will advance a base. However, if runners advance, the pitcher will get 2 more “disengagements.”

With a similar pitch clock in Triple-A ball this year, the average play time decreased by about 21 minutes.

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The MLB has been trying to make the game shorter for years and, in trying to do so, has made the game worse with the implementation of runners starting on second base in extra innings.

However, they have finally figured it out with the new changes. The new pitch clock will only increase the pace of play while keeping traditional aspects of the game, and this simple revision will make the games quicker and more exciting.

The MLB will also increase the size of the bases from 15 square inches to 18 square inches. This adjustment should lead to fewer injuries and more stolen bases.

With bigger bases, the injuries to players as they run to 1st base or slide into 2nd or 3rd base should be less frequent. Bigger bases also mean that the distance between bases is less, so there should be more attempted and successful stolen base attempts.

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This adjustment can only be beneficial to the players and fans of baseball and is another great change made by the league.

The final modification made is the new limits enforced on the shift. Teams will now need four infielders, with two on each side of 2nd base. Teams can add additional infielders by moving outfielders to the infield, but they must have four players within the outer boundary of the infield and two on each side of 2nd base.

Whether or not the league should enforce limits on the shift or not has been one of the most polarizing debates in recent years. However, implementing a limit on the shift allows for pull hitters to be better.

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Being able to hit everywhere on the field is a special skill that makes some hitters special. This change is bad for the league as it encourages players to not work on the craft of hitting everywhere on the field and lowers the skill level of the league.

However, implementing these restrictions on the shift should lead to more hits, making the game even more exciting.

The three revisions by the MLB will make the league more exciting and safer and generally good for the league. While implementing restrictions to the shift will reduce the consequences of being a pull hitter and lowers the skill level of the league, the other changes are significant for the league as they make the games shorter, safer, and more exciting.

Jimmy Thomas is a senior member of the Multimedia Journalism class.

How bad calls from NFL referees continue to decide the outcome of games

In a forever-changing game, there is one reoccurring problem that has NFL fans like myself shaking their heads in disappointment. That problem is that on almost a weekly basis, at least one game is plagued with terrible calls that, on some occasions, have even decided the winner of a game. While some may argue that this is a common problem that can’t be solved, there is no doubt that bad calls in important division games and playoff games have fans calling for a solution. In this piece, I will provide examples of the worst cases in which NFL referees’ bad calls have decided essential games.

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Roughing the Passer

Many would argue that the quarterback position is the most critical position on the field. Increasing the frequency of roughing-the-passer calls prevents the league’s star QBs from being injured and calling to the backup QBs. In the wake of this, these calls’ consistency is questioned. NFL fans have seen times when a seemingly legal hit is called roughing the passer, and an illegal hit is not called. The official rule is that any hit to the legs or around the head area warrants a roughing the passer call. Defenders are allowed “one step” toward the QB after the ball is thrown, and more than one step warrants a roughing the passer call. Defenders also cannot hit a QB with their full body weight. While these rules seem fair and straightforward, NFL referees have shown otherwise.

One example of a bad roughing the passer call was a week 5 matchup of the 2022 regular season between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Atlanta Falcons. While the Falcons were trying to make a comeback late in the 4th quarter down six, star Defensive Tackle Grady Jarrett made a huge play, sacking QB Tom Brady. Jarrett wrapped up Brady and spun him to the ground, a seemingly ordinary sack that would have forced a Buccaneers punt on 4th down. This was flagged for roughing the passer and gave the Buccaneers a first down, allowing them to chew the rest of the clock out and stall out a Falcons comeback.

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Pass Interference

Another penalty that causes controversy for NFL referees is the pass interference calls. Like the roughing the passer penalty, pass interference gets called on an inconsistent basis where sometimes it gets called when it shouldn’t, and other times it doesn’t get called when it should. Pass interference rules state that a defender cannot initiate illegal contact that causes an unfair chance for the WR to make a play on the football. Holding, pulling, pushing, tripping, grabbing the facemask, and tackling the WR are examples of what would be called pass interference.

An example of a missed call was the 2018 NFC championship game, late in the 4th quarter, a wheel route throw from QB Drew Brees to Wide Receiver Tommylee Lewis was disrupted early from a hit by Rams Cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman. Instead of a pass interference call that would have set up the Saints’ offense with first and goal, they faced a 4th and long and had to settle for a field goal. Brees would throw an interception in overtime and allow a game-winning field goal to send the Rams to the super bowl. Many fans believe the Saints got cheated out of a super bowl appearance based on this one play alone.

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Catches and Non-Catches

NFL referees seem to have different ideas on the criteria for what is a catch and what is not. While roughing the passer and even pass interference have been more recently arising problems, the catching criterion is a problem that has been ongoing for a long time. The NFL states that if a receiver maintains possession going to the ground and the ball comes out after, it is a catch, but if the receiver doesn’t maintain control and the ball hits the ground, it is not a catch. While it can usually be determined if a receiver has possession or not, there are some cases in which a ruling is disagreed upon.

One example was a 2014 NFC divisional game between the Packers and Cowboys. With time winding down and the Cowboys finding themselves at a 4th down, QB Tony Romo takes a deep shot to WR Dez Bryant, which is caught. Bryant took a few steps towards the end zone with the ball securely in his hands before going to the ground, where the ball popped up but back into his arms. This was initially called a catch but was overturned after a review. This was especially surprising because, in terms of reviews, NFL referees need a clear view that the initial call was wrong, which there appeared to be none. Under the “rules” set by the NFL for catches, this should have been a catch.

It is clear from these calls that NFL referees have made that something needs to change. Two of these instances were in the playoffs and were the deciding factor in both games. NFL fans agree that action needs to be taken to prevent this from happening again because bad calls happen more than they should.

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Stephen Avara, Junior

Stephen Avara is a junior member of the Multi-Media Journalism class.

Why LIV Golf is growing despite the efforts of the PGA Tour

Beginning in May 2020, the PGA Tour saw a massive increase in viewers and attendance. Across the summers of 2020 and 2021, the PGA saw some of its highest TV ratings and a staggering 30% increase in views on NBC. All aspects of business looked good for the league, with the COVID-19 pandemic pushing the growth of golf in the United States.

However, it was not all that pretty on the inside. Players disapproved of the hard-ball tactics by Jay Monahan, the PGA Tour commissioner. His unwillingness to assist the stars; the players’ frustration over course rulings painted a negative picture among professional golfers. 

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And so, with the founding of LIV Golf in October 2021, Greg Norman gave players an escape from the harsh and neglectful PGA. He launched the brand with the hopes of signing international stars to participate in the monthly invitationals. Norman found immediate success, signing fifteen of the world’s top 100 players in April. 

Though the more laid-back environment proved a large part of the players’ decisions, Norman received tremendous financial support from the Saudi Arabian government. The kingdom provides all the guaranteed contracts and purse money for each tournament. For players on the bottom tier of professional tours, this supplied a substantial raise from their usually volatile salary. 

All of these factors make life for professional golfers much easier. Usually, players outside the top 100 struggle to obtain fair wages for their families. At most PGA tournaments, the competitors that finish toward the bottom only make about $50,000. If you add tournament entry fees and playing expenses, some players barely squeak by with a profit. However, the LIV Golf tour allows every player to make decent money and support their families.

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In addition, a less-demanding schedule allows older players to spend more time with their families. The PGA Tour only provides a two-week offseason and hosts a tournament every weekend during the season. LIV Golf organizes tournaments once or twice a month, permitting players to go home and see their families.

The simpler and quicker format of LIV Golf makes playing golf more enjoyable for all players. A shotgun start—where everyone tees off at the same time—decreases the amount of time on the course. Players can play five-hour rounds and leave instead of having to wait so long to tee off. 

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Through COVID, the PGA Tour looked to grow the game of golf but did not listen to the needs of its players. However, LIV Golf provided an escape for frustrated competitors and created a more player-friendly atmosphere. They exposed an ignorant organization and gave players a modern, more enjoyable experience on the golf course.

Alex Kwas is a sophomore member of the Multimedia Journalism class.

As the Fall Classic begins, which team has the upper hand?

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The World Series is set, featuring the Phillies from the National League and the Astros from the American League. Both teams handled their opponents with ease. The Astros pitching dominated the Yankees, who hit the most home runs this year. The bullpen has posted a 0.82 ERA in the postseason, an astonishing number. This Astros team has been one of the best in postseason history and seems unstoppable. However, the Phillies will be a challenge for them.

The Fightin’ Phils nearly missed out on the playoffs with a poor finish to the regular season. The team right behind them, the Brewers, somehow played worse. They miraculously beat the Cardinals in Game 1 of the Wildcard from an unusual collapse by closer Ryan Helsley. This is all they needed to spark their momentum. They swept the Cardinals and won a gritty series against the defending champions. In the NLCS, they were challenged by the Padres, who were also hot. The Padres bats were hot, but 1B Rhys Hoskins and RF Bryce Harper showed up, combining for 6 homers.

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Game 1 Prediction

The Astros are currently favored, but that doesn’t mean that the Phillies can’t make noise. Game 1 will take place on Friday at Minute Maid Park, home of the Astros. On the mound for the Astros is AL Cy Young favorite Justin Verlander. At 38, Verlander has had a record season, putting up a 1.75 ERA and 185 strikeouts. He had a rough outing against the Mariners but is expected to bounce back. The Phillies starter Zach Wheeler has also had a solid season. Wheeler has established himself as the Phillies ace, posting a 2.82 ERA and 163 strikeouts.

While the Astros have the better starting pitching, the Phillies bullpen edges the Astros bullpen. Relievers Seranthony Domínguez and José Alvarado broke out this year and have continued their success recently. Overall, the pitching is pretty even. It comes down to how the bats perform. While the Astros bats were better in the regular season, the Phillies bats have dominated the postseason. I expect multiple bombs this game considering we have two of the best home run-hitting teams in the league.

Game 1 will be close, but I think the Phillies will continue their hitting success against Verlander and win, 6-4 Phillies, with the player of the game being Bryce Harper.

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Impact player of the Series: Rhys Hoskins

Rhys Hoskins has had elite power in the postseason, cranking 5 homers and 11 RBI, but he is also hitting .182. When Hoskins is hot, he’s one of the best hitters in the league, but when he’s cold, he looks lost. Rhys will need better plate discipline, as well as timing his swing right. If he does those two, then we’re looking at Albert Pujols. If he doesn’t, we’re looking at a slumping Chris Davis. Rhys’ performance will significantly influence this series, making him the top-impact player for the Phillies.

Daniel Hurson is a freshman contributor to The Quill.

A new era in the NCAA: college football playoff expansion

During the first week of the college football season, LSU and Florida State competed in one of the most exciting games in modern history. With less than a minute remaining, LSU drove 99 yards down the field, scoring a touchdown, cutting the lead to one point. As their fans celebrated with overtime looming, Florida State blocked the extra-point and squeaked out a one-point victory. 

The excitement and unpredictability of college football recently skyrocketed to high levels with the expansion of the College Football Playoff. After growing to four teams in 2015, the format has faced scrutiny for not allowing enough deserving teams to play for a championship. 

As the 2021 season wound down, only six or seven teams had a real shot at making the playoff. At the end of the season, four teams cemented themselves as playoff contenders, which provided zero controversies or arguments. A twelve-team format allows for more critical and exciting games toward the end of the season. 

The increase in meaningful games across the season increases student interest. However, one of the most considerable drawbacks in postseason college football is the neutral site games, which make it hard for students to attend. The new playoff format allows for on-campus games for the first round, which will enable huge profits for the schools with students and alums traveling on-campus to attend the big games. Tailgating, pre-game gatherings, and post-game celebrations will increase revenue among schools across the country.

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Conference stability has also become a recent issue among smaller market schools that have trouble competing with the college football kings. Allowing more teams to fight for a championship means greater exposure for the recently weakened conferences, like the PAC-12 and Big 12. With UCLA and USC leaving for the Big Ten, and Oklahoma and Texas leaving for the SEC, new competitors may replace those teams in their respective conferences. Previously, we often saw the SEC and Big Ten dominating the College Football Playoff, but this expanded version will allow for more conference representation.

On the other hand, the players may have trouble keeping their endurance throughout an extended season. Usually, NFL teams play between 18-21 games, while college football teams play around 13 or 14. A college football championship team may now play upwards of 17 games, depending on their schedule. That resembles a full NFL schedule and could negatively affect the health of future professional stars.

The weather could also factor into the first round of the playoff. If Wisconsin has to play its first-round game on-campus, weather conditions could affect the game’s outcome. Wisconsin in December is not ideal for sports, with the snow and brutally cold temperatures battering the state. Since most successful college football teams come from down south, it poses the question of how the weather will affect their performance.

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Usually, the weather does not impact the postseason, as southern locations host the bowl games. Smaller bowl games, played earlier in December, do not receive much viewership because some casual fans view them as meaningless. Since the College Football Playoff will host more meaningful games, the NCAA could eliminate some bowl games to increase viewership for the playoffs. As a result, this could affect the success of the smaller market colleges that play their entire seasons to win bowls. 

The thrill of regular season college football games goes unmatched in sports. A rise in the significant regular season and playoff games will continue to attract new viewers around the country. The LSU-Florida State game only scratches the surface of the exhilaration of college football and its drama. Once the playoff begins in 2026, nothing will match the brilliance of playoff football in the United States.

Alex Kwas is a sophomore member of the Multimedia Journalism Class.

Are we witnessing the end of LeBron James?

October marks another year of NBA basketball. All of the controversy over trades, who’s getting drafted first, and which superstars we could see retire. A controversial topic is LeBron James. 

LeBron, age 37, is entering his 20th year in the league and is back with the Los Angeles Lakers for his fifth season. LeBron just signed a two-year $97 million deal ending after the 2025 season, and LeBron could opt out after the first year and test the free agent market again. We have seen LeBron make big-time moves in the past. Surprising the world by going to the Heat and then a few years later returning and bringing Cleveland a championship. 

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At the end of the 2024 season, there is a very real possibility LeBron opts out of the deal with the Lakers to play for whatever team his son Bronny gets drafted by. LeBron has always said he wants to finish his playing career with his sons. With Bronny coming to the league in 2024 and Bryce not too far behind him in 2026, we could see LeBron’s historic career come to an end. By the time Bryce joins the family in the NBA, LeBron will already be 42. 

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Whoever gets LeBron in the twilight of his career is likely to get great production from the 18x all-star, who averaged 30.3 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 6.2 APG at the age of 37. Through all of the talk about LeBron, his retirement, and all of the things he has planned for the future, we won’t know what he is going to do until it happens. Either way, we know that LeBron has always had a flair for the dramatic!

Jack Bieda is a junior member of the MultiMedia Journalism Class.