Thursday, April 22, 2010

With The No. 1 Overall Pick, The St. Louis Rams Select...

If the NFL schedule release is the start of when we really get to be bombarded with NFL news in the run up to summer camps and eventually the season, what takes place tonight might be the biggest event before the Saints and Vikings kick off on September 9th. Until the last few years, the release of the schedule was actually not the big television event the NFL has turned it into. Instead that major offseason moment came with the NFL's annual Entry Draft. It seems odd to me that the NFL would put two major events in such close proximity when the season is a good five months away, here we are. The NFL Draft is an annual feed for the football news addicts that can't get through the offseason without massive withdrawal.

Lucky us. Tonight we get our fix.

Yes, the NFL Draft starts tonight, which seems odd to say given that this is the first time ever that it has started both on a week night and in prime time. This has always been a Saturday day-long weekend affair, but now that the NFL has realized what ESPN knew for the past two decades -- the NFL Draft is a valuable television property that you can use to maximize ratings and thus rights fees by stretching it out -- we get treated to a first round Thursday night, the second and third rounds Friday night and the rest of the selection process stretching out all day Saturday.

It's a bizarre format, and frankly I always enjoyed spending a day plopped on the couch watching the selections. It was kind of like how Sundays in the fall are, but just with hundreds of players I didn't know very well, the bombast of Chris Berman, the way-too-enthusiastic intensity of Todd McShay and, obviously, Mel Kiper Jr.'s hair. The hair may have been the best part. Still, because I love football and because I'm a sheep, I will still be watching with all eyes keyed in on whom the New York Giants will be selecting with the 15th overall pick.

Of course, that moment in particular won't be happening until roughly two and a half hours in, but I will still be watching the prior picks to see what potential reaches are gone, what potential steals might still be on the board for Big Blue and what awkward moments we might get to see. Rumor has it Clemson running back C.J. Spiller might fall to the Giants at No. 15, which, potentially, would be a huge steal. At least in m mind. Most guesses though have the G-Men targeting Rolando McClain of Alabama to fill the void at middle linebacker. This would be fine too. The peculiar thing about it, though is that getting quite so wrapped up in everything and grading each pick immediately is, you know, pointless. Sure drafts can have major immediate impacts -- the 2007 Super Bowl Champion Giants got significant contributions from all seven of their draft picks that year, though that is rare -- but overall, the one thing most necessary to remember about drafts is this:

We have no idea what is going to happen with any of these players.
Really. We haven't a clue. And yet we watch anyway with some bizarre notion that our team's immediate fortunes will be changed by every pick they make, when, in fact, most players selected won't be impacting their teams for at least a season or two. Immediate impacts are rare by rookies in the NFL. Of course, it doesn't make it any less fun to think about.

As for me, I'll be watching tomorrow while I juggle that and, potentially, the end of the Devils' season as they fight to stay alive in Game 5 against Philadelphia. New Jersey does have two things going for it. For one, the Devils are home tonight. Not having to play in Philly is always helpful. For another, and far more importantly, the Flyers got word today that Jeff Carter, who had a three-point game in Game 4, and Simon Gagne, another dangerous offensive weapon, are going to be out at least for the rest of the series. This turns everythign completely upside down.

I believe in comebacks.

And speaking of believing in comebacks, I attended my first Mets game of the year tonight, and believing in comebacks didn't exactly bring it to pass in a rough 9-3 loss to the Cubs. Of course, the Amazins pulled within three in the eighth to make us feel as though we might actually have a chance, but ever the teases, that all went to hell when the Cubs score three in the top of the ninth to put it away.

Of course, it didn't help that it was colder than expected and the crowd was nearly gone by the final out, but seeing as this was my first visit to the park this year, it was still exciting to see both the new placement of the old Apple -- it now sits in a flower bed outside the stadium -- and the brand-spankin'-new Mets Hall of Fame and Museum. I felt like it was relatively well put together, though there was an abundance of different game-worn Mets jerseys which, while cool, are basically the same thing over and over again.

The highlights? For me the 1969 and 1986 World Series Championship trophies clearly go without saying as the most impressive items on display. The individual plaques for every Hall of Fame member are also pretty cool (though I wonder where the busts from Shea's Diamond club are), not to mention various other small Mets historical artifacts that provide intrigue. But the best thing there? That has to be the original Mr. Met outfit, which, for lack of a better word, looks awful.

And I still think it's awesome.

The game itself was mundane and vaguely disappointing, Ike Davis continued to rocket to stardom with a phenomenal catch over the dugout railing in foul territory. Of course, he also proved later in the night that he is awful agaisnt lefthanders. Hopefully that part changes. What I hope never changes is the character of the people you bump into on the subway ride back. I had to deal with one odd man, who misheard what I did for a living and assumed I was a writer for He took advantage of the moment to tell me that he was a great player who wouldn't make the pros because of a knee injury, but that "players play and writers write, you do what you do best."

And he insisted the way I should do what I do best was to take it from him and "put it in the column tomorrow" that Ben Roethlisberger would be traded before the Draft. When I told him that I would be incredibly surprised by this for a number of reasons, he kept insisting that I "put it in the column." I'm not sure why he was so convinced, I can tell you I'm not, but given that a) I don't have a football column to write and b) if I did, I'm fairly sure "some guy on the seven train" wouldn't be considered a solid source, well, I won't be writing that column.

If I'm proven wrong, and, well, I'm pretty sure I won't be, it won't take long to know. Like I said, I will be watching.


  1. Kato,

    While I would have liked McClain or Spiller, you are right about one thing, we will have no clue about whats gonna happen with these players. I think the same goes for McShay and Kiper, no matter how much they pretend to know, as I note in my blog. I am not sure we needed another outside pass-rusher, but then again we didn't have a good defensive anything last year so if Pierre-Paul turns out to be a solid addition that'd be great.

    Much regards and nice blog,

    "Pugnacious Invective"

  2. I was shocked that both of those guys came off the board in the top ten, but that's the magic of picking behind the Oakland Raiders. I think Pierre-Paul will be a nice player and you never can have enough pass rushers. Mostly, I'm just surprised Jimmy Clausen's still on the board.

    Thanks for reading,

    "Mr. Ref, let's be friends."