General Sports: February 13

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-Esteban Loaiza, the second winningest Mexican-born pitcher in Major League history, was arrested on charges of possession of cocaine and possibly heroin (the substances are still being tested), 20 kilos to be more precise, worth approximately $500K. The substances were found in a rental home of his in southern California.  Bail was set at $200K. Not great. Loaiza, who was the starter for the American League in the 2003 All Star Game with the White Sox, had a pretty successful career over his 14 seasons but pretty much all of that is going to be erased in our memory of him even if he’s found innocent. Being linked to an incident such as this is pretty destructive towards one’s image. With that many drugs in one place, it’s pretty apparent that there was intent to distribute and that carries a much stiffer penalty than if he had it all to snort for himself. I’m not sure what the exact penalty is going to be if he’s found guilty, but it’s safe to say it’d be several years before he saw the outside world again. Especially when you take into account this whole thing started because he was stopped crossing the border under suspicion he was transferring drugs over the border, leading to the search warrant for his rental home. You know for a sports blog, I really do talk about cocaine quite a bit it seems…

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-It seems that every time that former closer Goose Gossage has appeared in the media since being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2008, he’s dropping f-bomb after f-bomb. It was reported that after several years of being present to assist in Spring Training practices with the Yankees, GM Brian Cashman informed Gossage that he was not going to be coaching this year. Gossage said to the New York Daily News in reference to Cashman that “with that kind of power, that’s what happens to you, you turn into a fucking asshole.” He then went on to say that Cashman “would have been fired 10 years ago if George (Steinbrenner) was still around. He’d have been gone when he jumped out of that fucking airplane. Do you think he’s a good fucking baseball guy, really? He doesn’t believe in fucking coaching.” This isn’t the first time that Gossage has gone on these kinds of tirades. Most guys would be honored to be compared to Mariano Rivera, however Gossage took it as an insult, saying that he would pitch several innings for his saves while Rivera would only pitch 1. He also called Jose Bautista a “fucking disgrace” for his infamous bat flip in the 2015 ALDS against the Rangers. He then went after stat-favoring executives calling them a “bunch of fucking nerds running the game.” Normally I’d be rolling my eyes at this guy who is trying to stay relevant as nobody would know who he was if he weren’t being outlandish in the media. However I actually find it kind of endearing to see him go on his tirades. He’s a miserable asshole and there really aren’t enough of these guys in the world of sports right now. Or if there are, they’re keeping quiet. Too many guys nowadays are afraid to show any kind of emotion so that the media can’t use it against them, but Gossage clearly doesn’t fucking care, as he would put it. And I kind of respect that. Keep doing you, Goose.

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-Here’s a cool story. So Giancarlo Stanton and AJ Ramos were friends and teammates on the Miami Marlins before each departed this offseason. Ramos was traded to the New York Mets during last season’s trade deadline and Stanton was traded to the New York Yankees during the offseason. Taking advantage of this opportunity to remain close, both men will be rooming together in an apartment in New York despite the fact they’ll be playing for different teams. Yankee Stadium and Citi Field are only 7 miles apart so if their games got out at roughly the same time then they’d both make it home in time to talk to each other about their day. Then Ramos could have breakfast waiting for Stanton in the morning as they peck each other on the cheek before going off to work. It’s really quite beautiful. I also feel like this could be interesting to make into a reality show or some other interesting segment when the Yankees and Mets play each other from June 8-10 and July 20-22. I just gave you a freebie, sports TV networks, run with it.

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-The Boston Police Department chose a very interesting way to honor Black History Month. In a tweet that has since been deleted, they honored legendary Celtics head coach Red Auerbach for being the first coach to draft a black man and starting the first all-black starting 5 in NBA history. Celebrating a white guy for Black History Month seems a bit controversial, no? This seems like an easy call to make but I guess the BPD didn’t see it that way. I get what they were going for, as Auerbach’s contributions to integrating the NBA were crucial particularly in a city that historically hasn’t had a great run with the black community, but why not just celebrate Earl Lloyd for being the first black man ever drafted into the NBA? That seems like a no-brainer.

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-Johnny Manziel opened up not only on Good Morning America, but on Pardon My Take about the lifestyle changes he’s made since he last appeared in the NFL. I won’t go through every bit of each, as you can probably find this stuff anywhere on the web, but a quick summary is that Manziel is now sober and I got the sense that he really regrets a lot of the decisions he made in the past and desperately misses football and is willing to do what it takes to get that opportunity again. He seemed to be very self-aware and I’m really hoping that he’s able to get another opportunity somewhere, whether that be in the NFL, the CFL, or even the XFL (though if Vince McMahon’s no criminal record policy is strictly enforced, that won’t be possible since Manziel has a DUI on his record).

That’s going to do it for this edition of general sports. Sorry for doing one of these on back-to-back days, but there hasn’t been any stories worthy of dedicating an entire blog to of late but a bunch of little ones. This may be a common theme over the summer, though. Goddamn, it’s only been a week and I already miss the Hell out of football. Let me know what you think of these stories in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10.

The XFL is Returning

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As you may have heard, WWE Chairman Vince McMahon will be restarting his failed football league from 2001, the XFL. The original rendition of this league flopped heavily due to both ratings and bad football. It took place during the NFL offseason and featured fewer rules and encouraged heavy violence. Allegedly, McMahon is restarting this league because he sees an opportunity, since the NFL’s ratings are down as of late and people have been openly complaining about the product, whether it be how the game is officiated to injuries to off the field social issues.

As I scroll through the Wikipedia article, I’m noticing some VERY interesting things about the first edition of the XFL. There were 8 teams: the Orlando Rage, Chicago Enforcers, New York/Jersey Hitmen, Birmingham Thunderbolts, Los Angeles Xtreme, San Francisco Demons, Memphis Maniax, and Las Vegas Outlaws. The Xtreme were champions in the only year of existence. There was an emphasis on combining wrestling with football, as players and coaches would be mic’d up during games and the public address announcers would talk trash while scantily-clad cheerleaders pranced along the sidelines (and were encouraged to date players). There was no pre-game coin toss. Instead, officials would roll the ball and two players from each team would dive for it in a scrum and whomever came out with it got to decide whether to kick or receive. This was referred to as the “Human Coin Toss.” The league MVP was Tommy Maddox, a former first round pick in the NFL and the quarterback that preceded Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh, where he signed after the XFL folded. Former first round pick Jim Druckenmiller and current Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm were also notable players who played quarterback in the league. Former Heisman winner Rashaan Salaam played in the league as well. Runningback Rod Smart actually wore “He Hate Me” on the back of his jersey rather than his own last name.

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Some interesting rules included no PAT kick, you had to go for two after every touchdown except it only counted for one extra point, but you could get bonus points if you agreed to run the play from a further distance than the traditional 2-yard line for up to 3 extra points. Their overtime rules were similar to the NCAA except there were no opportunities for first downs, you must score within four plays. Also, before the ball was snapped, one player is allowed to get a running start toward the line of scrimmage as long as he is outside of the tackles, rather than standing still and being set. Punting was also heavily affected in the XFL. For example, punting out of bounds resulted in a 10-yard penalty, the punting team could recover the ball as long as it traveled 25 yards and regain possession even if the receiving team didn’t touch it, and most insanely, fair catches are not recognized. I’m sure when the XFL reboots, which is expected to occur in 2020, some of these rules may not be a thing.

So what can we expect to see out of the XFL? Well, we really have no idea what to expect, but here are a few things I’d like to see.

WWE Wrestlers Signed to Rosters, Wrestling Moves are Legal

This isn’t the craziest idea in the world because there are some WWE wrestlers with football experience. Brock Lesnar participated in training camp with the Minnesota Vikings. Roman Reigns was a defensive tackle at Georgia Tech. Hell, the Rock was a defensive end at Miami (FL) during the days when they were “The U.” Will they be good? Probably not, but I wouldn’t mind watching Lesnar suplex some runningbacks or Reigns spear a scrambling quarterback. Sure it might affect their wrestling schedules, but Lesnar barely shows up on WWE programming anyway and Reigns often gets booed out of the building so I’m sure some of these guys wouldn’t mind a chance to do something else.

Well-Defined Catch Rules

This is probably the biggest crutch facing the NFL right now as nobody really knows for certain what a catch is anymore. If the XFL can easily define it and have good success with their rules, we could see the NFL try and adapt. But hey, it’s Vince McMahon, whose WWE repeatedly changes its rules to fit the narrative they’re trying to tell so I wouldn’t be surprised if the rules are pretty loose.

“Exiled” Players Getting a Second Chance

The XFL is a great opportunity for guys who aren’t good enough for the NFL or guys who likely won’t make it back into the NFL to return to the spotlight. For example, I wouldn’t be shocked in the slightest to see Johnny Manziel and Tim Tebow quarterbacking teams in this new league. Maybe even Colin Kaepernick or Ray Rice. But the point is, the XFL can kind of serve as a secondary league. Hell, guys in the NFL who are in a contract year could use the XFL as a bargaining chip. If Le’Veon Bell doesn’t want to play on the Franchise Tag for the Steelers, he could threaten to go play for the Memphis Maniax.

Surprise Entrants on the Field

Let’s say a fight breaks out during the game. Let’s say Brock Lesnar is beating the Hell out of Roman Reigns. In a normal NFL game, referees and teammates try and break it up. But what if we hear Hulk Hogan’s theme music as he runs out onto the field to attack Lesnar, then takes a microphone and announces he’s joined Reigns’ team as the camera shows Lesnar’s shocked face. I can already hear the “bah gawd’s!”

The Championship Trophy is a Belt

That’s really all I have to say on this topic. You saw how the Turnover Chain worked for the U. Imagine if your goal was getting a title belt. They could treat it like the Stanley Cup and every player on the winning team gets to take the belt and do with it as he pleases.

A Women’s XFL Division

The LFL is already a thing and WWE over the last couple of years has been trying to make an improvement on how they promote women’s wrestling (which has been pretty poor in the past to say the least). Perhaps they’d be invested in a female division of the XFL with a few all-female teams that would face each other.

Weapons

Offensive linemen can use steel chairs and put opposing pass rushers through tables. Or, what if you gained a weapon you can use for one play when you stopped at a certain part of the field. Perhaps if you’re tackled on the opponent’s 30 yard line, you can unlock a ladder that you can set up in the opponent’s end zone then plant a receiver in there. They can get really creative with this.

Unfortunately, very little of this will likely happen, especially considering McMahon announced that he won’t take players with any form of criminal record, which would rule out guys like Manziel and Rice. He also said he wants it to be “family-friendly” and emphasized forcing players to stand for the National Anthem. Plus, if they do revert to their old style of rules from the initial rendition, there will be outrage from the media and players, as the safety issues that the NFL struggles with right now would be increased ten fold in the XFL. In all, I really don’t expect this to do very well in the long run. The NFL is just too dominant to compete with. I think the XFL will do well its first week or so, but once people see how bad the quality of football is, they may see it as another Arena Football League. That being said, it is fun to theorize what could become legal in was originally intended to be a more barbaric football league.

That’s it for today’s blog, let me know what you think of the XFL revival and any creative rules you might have for the product in the comments section below and hit me up on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10 and contribute to my Patreon.