It’s pointless to bemoan the NFL not pausing or just outright stopping its season. There’s too much money, they’re too far into it, they’d never admit a mistake, we know all the reasons. It certainly seems like the NFL is admitting that it’s going to get worse before it gets better, as yesterday they put in a contingency that if some teams can’t get to 16 games, they’ll expand the playoffs to eight teams in each conference.
Which … doesn’t really make a ton of sense.
The idea is that if teams around the last playoff spot, as of right now the 7th seed in each conference, had played different amounts of games and had to go by winning percentage, just opening the door for another team would make it more fair in a kind of “everyone gets in the club” kind of way. Of course, letting the townies in is a great way to have a fight in your establishment.
But all this really does is move the argument farther down the standings. Instead of teams in 8th or 9th feeling aggrieved about a team with 15 or even 14 games played, now it’ll just be teams in 9th and 10th.
What the league will tell them is that the 8th seed wasn’t even available before the season started, so they can’t get too upset about losing out on a bonus playoff berth. See if that holds much water when we get to December.
What we know is that this is just producing another playoff game to be televised in each conference, to be spread amongst two of ESPN, NBC, CBS and Fox, to make up for any missed regular-season games they don’t get, or the ones that had to be shifted to Monday or Tuesday afternoon as we’ve seen already. Ad rates for playoff games are higher, after all.
That’s just how it goes in a making-it-up-as-we-go 2020 season, where the NFL has basically admitted it can’t keep COVID-19 at bay and out of its team facilities. Is there a threshold for how many games have to be missed before the playoff expansion is triggered? Of course not! Like MLB before them, NFL owners are operating on the pornography principle. They’ll know it when they see it.
In other news regarding leagues trying to fashion a season in the middle of a raging fire, the NHL is getting closer to a plan to start its next season. It certainly seems like they’re going to at least start with a hybrid-bubble system, where the Canadian teams are only going to play each other, and the rest will be aligned in three divisions where they can meet in three locations for 10-14 days, play 7-8 games or so, and then go back home for a week or longer, depending on what quarantining rules are by location. They’re aiming for a 72-game season that starts on Jan. 1.
If teams were to average about 10 games every three weeks with this, the NHL could get to their playoffs somewhere in May, which will at least put them on track to get back to their normal calendar for a 2021-22 season. That’s if they don’t switch up the rules somewhere midseason, if a vaccine hits the market or things change.
They haven’t really explained what they’ll do with the Canadian teams for a full season, as if they all have to play each other 12 times they might take machetes to each other somewhere around March. There’s no explanation on how much travel the U.S. teams can do, either.
It’s weird, it won’t make a lot of sense, but that’s just how things are going to be for the NBA and the NHL this time around.
Mets fans got to meet their new owner in Steve Cohen yesterday, who is just the latest to claim the team will no longer be a carnival ride, promising a World Series in Queens in the next five years. He’s said they’ll be active without being stupid, which would be a new trick for the Mets.
It would be interesting if the Mets are active this winter, because they’ll likely be one of the very few teams to be so. They could probably get some deals and some real players, but we know what happens when the Mets get their expectations up.
Still, this quote from Cohen has a particular sting for White Sox fans today:
“I played Little League once. That’s about it,’’ the 64-year-old Cohen said. “So I’m going to let the professionals, Sandy and the people we bring in, let them run baseball.”