Tag 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.

Predicting the outcome of the 2022 World Series

We would love to hope that the 2022 World Series between the Houston Astros and the Philadelphia Phillies will be entertaining. However, it is clear who the favored team is.

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This isn’t the first time the Astros have been in this position. In fact, they’ve been in the World Series for 3 of the last 4 years. The Astros clearly have the experience and are seeking revenge after losing the last two that they were in. With that being said, I got the Astros in 5.

To back up my prediction, the Astros are coming into the World Series extremely hot after going 7-0 in the previous series. They swept the Al East division-winning Yankees and also swept the Mariners. The Phillies beat the St. Louis Cardinals in the Wild Card series 2-0, beat the Braves in a 4-game series, 3-1, and beat the Padres in a 5-game series 4-1. The Phillies haven’t stopped playing since the start of the playoffs, and that can be a good thing. They are coming in fresh and ready to play. The Phillies won it all in 2008 and look to add their 4th franchise World Series title.

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Other than the Astros having the advantage because they’ve been here before, they have been on fire. In general, the Astros are a big rally team, and when they’re hot, they stay hot. The Astros have many hot postseason batters coming into the series, with Yuli Gurriel leading the team in batting average with .367. Astros’ possible Rookie of the Year and ALCS MVP Jeremy Pena has been on fire lately, batting .303, and he has also been outstanding in the field. Nearly the whole Astros lineup is hitting well, while the Phillies are a little less consistent.

The Phillies have been really fun to watch this postseason with a lot of big and clutch plays. They’ve hit 16 home runs total, with Rhys Hoskins and Bryce Harper having a combined 10 home runs. Although that is impressive, you can’t rely on clutch and well-timed home runs to win a World Series. Bryce Harper had been extremely impressive this postseason, batting .419 and winning the NLCS MVP. Harper is really the only hot/consistent bat in the lineup right now. Hoskins has been hitting a lot of home runs but is only 8-44. Kyle Schwarber has hit a few towering shots but is only batting .200.

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Overall the Astros are just a more experienced, consistent hitting team. I would be surprised if the Phillies pulled this one out, especially with their limited pitching. Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola have really only been their dominant pitching this postseason, so if they want to win, other guys will have to step up big-time.

Tyler Martin is a junior member of the Multimedia Journalism class.

Getting an edge: How athletes prepare for their sports

How do different sports athletes’ routines compare with each other that help them perform to their best ability? Sports vary in different ways, like time, strength, and endurance. For example, soccer, baseball, and track and field long jump are three different sports. Soccer requires a lot of endurance because of constant running, baseball requires short bursts of energy and a quick reaction time, and track and field’s long jump involves a combination of strength and endurance. With research, I dug a little deeper into these sports.

Joe Young dribbles the ball around the opponent. Photo Credit: Stacy Young

Many know that a lot of running is involved with soccer. Players have to train for endurance, and it requires good leg muscles and an excellent heart to pump blood around the body: “I usually run and lift to get in shape for soccer. The most important [thing] is just continuing to practice,” Joe Young, class of 2025, stated. Young says that lifting for reps and running daily helps him through his JV soccer season at MSJ.

Drew Rybinski ’25 in a baseball game. Photo Credit: Perfect Game Staff

In comparison to soccer, baseball consists of fast, quick reactions and power. To generate this power, Drew Rybinski of the class of 2025 explains how he trains for power: “Most days, about 5 days a week, I try to lift weights because baseball is about strength and less about endurance, so [there is] not as much running but more about deadlifting heavy for quick, explosive movements.” Drew also practices his catching and hitting skills daily for an hour to prepare for a game.

A sport that people may not be as familiar with is the long jump event in track and field. To understand more about this sport, I asked class of 2023 Thomas Johnson III to explain his routine to prepare for a long jump event. “For long jump, I mostly just stretch then head over to the pit, where I do whatever drill my coach tells me to do,” Johnson said. “After practice most days, I go into the weight room and lift for reps.” Johnson also talked about how long jumping involves more strength than endurance because, “you want to run fast, jump high, and go as far as you can.” Comparing all three in the training aspect of the sport, the long jump, and soccer require lifting for reps, while baseball consists more of heavy, explosive lifting. All three sports require consistent days of training to get in the best shape.

Thomas Johnson III ’23 in a long jump event. Photo Credit: Caleb Turner

Aside from daily routines, athletes must watch what they eat to do their best in a game. Coincidentally, Joe Young, Drew Rybinski, and Thomas Johnson III have similar pre-game foods. Joe Young stated, “I usually don’t eat much before a game. I like to make sure I feel good, and my stomach sits right, so usually, I eat a protein bar.” Like Young, Rybinski does not eat breakfast but drinks a caffeinated energy drink right before a game. To combine Young and Rybinski’s pre-game snack, Johnson “eat[s] a protein bar and a protein shake with caffeine.” As you can see, these different sports have a similarity in pre-game meals, so any athlete can do their best.

Wrapping everything up, while many think that completely different sports require different training, most routines of any athlete are alike. For example, soccer and the long jump require lifting for reps, but baseball also is similar to the long jump because they are both strength sports rather than endurance sports. Comparing the foods, the three athletes, Joe Young, Drew Rybinski, and Thomas Johnson III, all eat minimal food before a game. Choosing and applying similar routines from all athletes can create a great all-around athlete.

Collin Park is a sophomore member of the Multimedia Journalism Class.

Predicting the NBA Eastern Conference standings

The 2022 offseason saw many teams in the NBA Eastern Conference improve significantly. Most of the teams were actively looking to upgrade different spots on their teams. Many high-level free agents resigned with their current teams on big contracts. Zach LaVine was one of the most notable players to stay in his city, signing a new 5-year contract to commit his future to the Chicago Bulls. Another player loyal to his city was Darius Garland, who signed a multi-year contract extension in Cleveland to stay with the Cavaliers. Meanwhile, the months after the free agency frenzy involved a lot of trades; the most notable one occurred on September 1, 2022, when the Jazz sent All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell to Cleveland. Incredible talent and many good teams make this conference challenging to predict. 

1: Boston Celtics (Prediction: 54-28) 

Coming in as the No. 1 seed, we have the Boston Celtics, who come into this season as the defending Eastern Conference Champions. Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart headline the talent returning to a team who lost to the Golden State Warriors in six games in the NBA Finals. They also traded for 2016-17 Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon to add some crucial depth they missed last season. A big blow is Danilo Gallinari, another notable acquisition that is unfortunately out for the season with a torn ACL. Although it’s a challenge, Boston has high-level talent at every position. Second-year coach Ime Udoka can lead this team to great things, as proved by his ability to take Boston to the finals last season. He’s the right coach for the city of Boston and for this Celtics team. It won’t surprise me if the Celtics get off to a really good start. They’ll be the No. 1 seed, but I don’t think they’ll get out of a loaded Eastern Conference. 

2: Cleveland Cavaliers (52-30)

Next, we visit Cleveland, where the Cavaliers currently have one of the best young cores in the NBA. Evan Mobley, Darius Garland, and Jarrett Allen are returning to a team who lost to the Atlanta Hawks in the Play-In tournament last season. When you add a player of Donovan Mitchell’s caliber into the fold, you’re in an even better spot than before, and the expectations are only getting higher. Mobley and Allen showed massive potential in the front court last season and could be one of the best front-court duos in the NBA in the next five seasons. Both of those guys need to increase their production this season, especially Allen, who is in the second season of a 5 year $100m contract extension. Mitchell joins Garland in a suddenly loaded backcourt, and the Cavs could potentially have four starters in the All-Star game in Utah in February 2023. This Cavs team is loaded but isn’t experienced enough to win the East. 

3: Milwaukee Bucks (51-31)

It wouldn’t shock me if the Bucks and the Cavs swapped places in the standings at the end of the season. The Bucks are coming off a disappointing exit in the second round at the hands of the Celtics. This is a big season for head coach Mike Budenholzer. While he won a championship in 2021, he needs to go far into the playoffs, or he could lose his job. Milwaukee’s veteran core, which isn’t getting younger, is in a prime position to contend. Jrue Holiday, who was a difference maker in the Finals against the Suns and has played a considerable role since coming to Milwaukee, turned 32 years old in June. Khris Middleton, who missed the entire second-round series against the Celtics with an MCL sprain in his knee, is 31 and is coming off surgery on his left wrist in July. Time is running out, and if Giannis Antetokounmpo, who turns 28 in early December, wants to win a ring, this is the year. The Bucks need to go far, and they will go far because their experience will be crucial in the later rounds. 

4: Philadelphia 76ers (51-31)

In Philadelphia, the vibes are good. PJ Tucker was the most notable free agency signing as he signed a 3-year $32m contract on the first day of free agency. They also signed Danuel House, who was notably kicked out of the 2020 NBA Bubble for multiple hours having a guest in his hotel room. Daryl Morey executed an excellent draft night trade as he traded the 23rd pick in the draft and Danny Green to the Memphis Grizzlies for De’Anthony Melton, who had a significant impact off the bench for the Grizzlies last season. Joel Embiid has to stay healthy if the Sixers want to go far. Embiid, a dominating force in the previous season, came up big in some playoff games, although he struggled with injuries. If this sixers team doesn’t make it out of the second round, I think it’ll spell the end for Doc Rivers. As a Sixers fan myself, I have been very critical of his decisions in recent years, and most recently, he left Embiid in a lopsided elimination game for too long. Embiid suffered a mild concussion and a right orbital fracture against the Raptors in the series-clinching Game 6 and wasn’t 100% in the next series against the Heat. I sense that in the offseason, the Sixers will be looking for a new head coach. 

5: Miami Heat (51-31)

The Heat are among the favorites to win the Eastern Conference. I could see them challenging the Cavs for second place this season and maybe even challenging Boston for the regular season title. Tyler Herro will be eager to prove that last season wasn’t a fluke. Gabe Vincent, Max Strus, and Omer Yurtseven will all hope to prove they can build on last season. In terms of developing talent, Miami is among the best teams in the NBA. It’s easy to see why Erik Spoelstra has won multiple Coach of the Year awards. I think Miami will take a step back because of the talent in the East, but they’ll be fighting for first place until the end of the season. 

6: Atlanta Hawks (49-33)

This Hawks team has turned a corner under Nate McMillan. When he was hired as the interim coach, I was unconvinced he could bring the best out of a young core that included Trae Young and John Collins. However, the Hawks roared back, going 27-11 in their last 38 games and making it to the Eastern Conference Finals. They took a step back last season as they went 43-39 and were bounced in the first round by Miami. Dejounte Murray takes an already good backcourt to another level. The expectations will be high in the ATL, but with the talented teams in the East, it’s going to be hard to get the top seed in the conference. 

7: Brooklyn Nets (47-35)

This Nets team is an utter mess. While Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant are scary for other groups to go against because of their scoring abilities, they don’t play well together and don’t play a lick of defense. The Nets traded for Ben Simmons but didn’t play a game and were a spectator as the Nets embarrassed themselves last season by being the only team in the NBA to get swept out of the playoffs after losing to Boston in the first round. The Kevin Durant trade request shocked the basketball world, but he decided to stay in Brooklyn after months of trade rumors which refused to die down until he decided to stay. I still don’t know why Steve Nash is employed by the Nets. The man refuses to coach and doesn’t hold players accountable, and his team was swept out of the playoffs embarrassingly. It’s going to be a long season in Brooklyn. 

8: Charlotte Hornets (43-39)

It’s been an offseason of turbulence in Charlotte. First, James Borrego was fired after another disappointing season ended with another loss in the opening round of the Play-In Tournament. Then, they thought they had hired Kenny Atkinson off of Steve Kerr’s staff in Golden State to try and turn them around, only for Atkinson to back out of the agreement and remain in the Bay Area. And in the most stunning development outside of free agency, starting forward Miles Bridges, who was eligible for a contract extension, was arrested in Los Angeles this summer on charges of domestic violence. They rehired Steve Clifford to be their head coach, which I still don’t understand. He’ll keep them in these play-in spots but not any higher. 

9: Washington Wizards (42-40)

After a disappointing end to the season, this Wizards team needs to find out who they really are. We praised him at the start of the season when the Wiz were flying high, but Wes Unseld Jr. has a lot to learn. He made several bad substitutions last season and didn’t call timeouts promptly. Bradley Beal returns to headline a young team that has potential. Daniel Gafford needs to prove that he can produce consistently in a conference loaded with talented bigs. The wizards could sneak into the last Play-In Spot. 

10: Chicago Bulls (41-41)

The Bulls have a significant problem. They can’t beat good teams and lost in five games to the Bucks. Granted, Billy Donovan is a good coach, but Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan can only do so much, and I still don’t know if Lonzo Ball will be at 100% after a knee injury ended his season. The Bulls went from first in the East to sixth in the span of a couple months, and they could struggle after missing out on big pieces like Rudy Gobert. Most of last year’s team is back, but they’ll run into a lot of obstacles along the way, and if LaVine or DeRozan gets hurt, they’re in trouble. 

Regarding who will be eliminated in the Play-In tournament, I think the Wizards and Bulls could miss the playoffs after the PlayIn Games. The Net’s scoring ability and the Hornets getting more experienced will be major factors. 

The Pacers, Pistons, Magic, and Knicks will all struggle. The Pistons and Magic have drafted well the last couple of years, so they could be positioned to make a lot of noise in the future. The Knicks are mediocre after a surprising fourth-place finish in 2020/21. The Eastern Conference has the chance to be really, really tough and competitive. We’ll see what happens on October 18.

HARRY KENNEDY IS A SENIOR MEMBER OF THE MULTIMEDIA JOURNALISM CLASS