We rank 'em. You react. That's how the Daily List rolls.
4/27/2007 08:31:00 AM
How To Improve The NFL Draft
By Jimmy Traina, SI.com
The NFL Draft is popular, but it could still use some tweaking.
Some have argued that the NFL Draft is the biggest sporting event in America. I'm not sure I'd go that far, but it's probably the most hyped. The Super Bowl gets two weeks of hype, the Draft gets two or three months. Having said that, there are still a few tweaks I'd implement to make the Draft even more enjoyable.
1. Move the draft to week nights. While no event gets hyped like the NFL Draft, the reality is most people don't want to spend hours indoors on a late April weekend. Start the draft on a Monday night and drag it out by showing one round a night for a week.
2. Move the draft location. Hold the draft inside the stadium of the team that has the No. 1 pick. This could be risky because of trades, but that would only add to the drama.
3. Put a limit on the number of graphics ESPN uses on the screen. There are usually four things scrolling at the bottom, some graphic on the left side and then another at the right and somewhere in the middle you might be able to see a player or one of the network's 5,287 commentators. Sometimes less is more. This would be one of those cases.
4. Cut down the 15 minutes between picks. I'd vote for one minute between picks but that may be extreme. So let's say two minutes between picks.
5. Instead of having NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announce the picks, bring in the WWE's legendary ring announcer, Howard Finkel, to do the honors. And let each player pick a song that can be played as he walks to the podium, sort of like baseball players who pick the music that's played when they come to bat.
The Zambonis would make even Lord Stanley tap his toes.
My favorite music/sports moment came during the 1970s -- or maybe it was the early '80s; it's all a bit hazy now -- when the Beach Boys performed on the field following a Texas Rangers game at the now-demolished Arlington Stadium. One of the working stiffs inside the press box soon crawled out a window and started dancing on the ledge. Whether he was swept up in that night's rendition of Surfin' Safari or just glad to have made deadline following another interminably long Rangers game (no doubt a loss), the incident serves as a reminder that playing shortstop and playing lead guitar are not mutually exclusive dreams for the common man.
That music/sports memory also got me to wondering: What are the greatest sports-sounding band names? Here at SI.com, you don't have to look very far -- our monthly hockey columnist, John Ondrasik, is the lead singer of Five For Fighting. But for objectivity's sake, I won't put Five For Fighting on my top-five list (although they're an obvious top three). Another hockey-named band, however, does rise to the top:
1. The Zambonis ... On the group's Web site, founder Dave Schneider says, "We're the only band in the world whose two biggest influences are The Beatles and Wayne Gretzky." Indeed, these guys are without equal in combining sport with music. Check out some of their song titles: Bob Marley and the Hartford Whalers, The Referee's Daughter, Davey Hatrick. The Zambonis are responsible for hundreds of mullet-haired, jersey-wearing guys playing air guitar with their Sher-Woods (intentional double entendre).
2. The Outfield ... Originally called The Baseball Boys, this group's first album was Play Deep. Other albums include Extra Innings and Big Innings. The band members weren't baseball fans (one of them just happened to watch a movie with gang members wearing caps and wielding bats, and thought it was cool), but their ties to the national pastime paid dividends, as this British group enjoyed most of its fame in the U.S. (Side note: If I was starting an Outfield tribute band, I'd call it Warning Track.)
3. The Human League ... Haven't seen the latest standings yet, but I'm hovering around the .500 mark and still hoping to make the playoffs in the Approaching Midlife Crisis division. (By the way, I'd rather avoid talking about the group, since any reference is usually followed by 20 minutes of trying to get that damn Don't You Want Me chorus out of my head.)
4. Helmet ... Why Riddell doesn't sponsor a tour for this New York City band is beyond me. Of course, maybe it has something to do with the heavy-metal group's material, which includes such feel-good ditties as Biscuits for Smut and See You Dead. Rock on!
5. Ace of Base ... There's room for only one ABBA on this planet, which is why AofB was relegated to living in the shadows of their more famous Swedish compatriots. But hey, ABBA didn't reference Section 16 of the rules adopted in 1860 by the National Association of Base Ball Players ("No ace nor base can be made upon a foul ball ...").
OK, now it's your turn. What's your favorite sports-sounding band name?
Gibby's memorable home-run ball would make a nice conversation piece.
I can't say I'm much into sports memorabilia. On a scale of one to 10, with one being completely apathetic and 10 being Charlie Sheen, I'd rank myself about a three. (Sheen, if you remember, once bought all the tickets to the left-field bleachers of an Angels game in hopes of catching a home run ball. He came away empty-handed.)
Of course, that would change if I found myself in the scrum trying to get my hands on a record-breaking baseball, such as the one Barry Bonds will hit when he becomes the all-time home run champ later this summer. Bonds' 715 ball went for $220,000 on eBay last August. For that kind of money, I'll gladly morph from the mild-mannered Bruce Banner into Incredible Hulk in pursuit of that horsehide.
That said, here are the five home run balls from baseball history I'd love to get my hands on, and not just for the monetary value, though that would be nice, too.
5. Bucky Dent's pop fly over the Green Monster ... Here in the snooty Northeast Corridor (SI's offices are in Manhattan), nothing gets older than hearing Red Sox fans whine about this, that and the other. It would be sweet if I could carry this ball around and say, "Hey chowdah-head, this is the ball Bucky hit to break your heart in '78!"
4. Babe Ruth's called shot against the Cubs ... The Babe didn't really call his shot in Game 3 of the 1932 World Series between the Cubs and Yankees, but who wants the truth when the lie is so much cooler?
3. Ted Williams' game-winner in the 1941 All-Star Game ... Teddy Ballgame went deep with two outs in the ninth inning and the AL down 5-4 and Joe Gordon and Joe DiMaggio on base to give his league the win. It was one of his favorite moments from his playing days, and the footage of the stoic Splinter frolicking around the bases is precious.
2. Kirk Gibson's pinch-hit blast in the 1988 World Series ... Gibson could barely walk, much less hit. His swing was all arms, but somehow he muscled future Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley's pitch into the right-field stands to win the game for the Dodgers and make fools out of all those people who left the game early.
1. Roy Hobbs' rocket into the light tower at the end of The Natural ... The homer won the game for the Knights and allowed Wilford Brimley to buy the team from that dishonorable Judge. OK, so it's more of a prop than a real souvenir, but think about the mainstream appeal.
So, which home run balls would you most like to have in your collection? Let's hear it ...
Jets fans keep things lively at the NFL draft every year.
In some households, the NFL Network is now an option on draft day, but for the most part, Saturday is ESPN's time to shine. After 28 years of ESPN's draft-day coverage, we have a pretty good idea of what we'll see. Here are five things you're guaranteed to observe this weekend:
1. Flashback to the Jets' choice of Jeff Lageman ... Every year, Jets fans add drama by vocally critiquing the team's picks. And you know ESPN will show video of the 1989 draft when, to the dismay of the New York audience, Gang Green selected Virginia linebacker Jeff Lageman.
2. At least one reference to Kiper's Trev Alberts rip ... ESPN's draft guru made an even bigger name for himself when he ripped the Colts for taking Alberts fifth overall in the 1994 draft, prompting Indy GM Bill Tobin to ask: "Who the hell is Mel Kiper?"
3. At least one player will look miserable when he has to put on his new team's cap ... Think Eli Manning two years ago donning a Chargers cap.
4. Someone will be shown sitting at home and waiting to be drafted for way too long ... Usually the most uncomfortable moment of the event (other than the poor fashion choices from the early draft picks).
5. Hair jokes, and lots of 'em ... Who can resist commenting on Kiper's famous 'do?
All right, it's your turn. Tell me what else we can look forward to seeing this weekend?