Want to make sports more exciting? Welcome to Playoff Drafts!
COVID brought all sorts of new ideas to sports. It may be the ultimate legacy to a botched public response to a global pandemic- new sports rules. Like? A baseball double header lasting 14 innings. If it goes extra innings? The inning starts with a guy on 2nd base. Everyone gets a DH, like the games are played in Oprah’s studio.
As a sport, baseball was way ahead of its rivals. They made fundamental short term changes to the game in order to have something that looked like a season. Football? Showed its true mentality. “SMASH! RUN!” was the Commissioners reaction grunt to how football would deal with fans and corona.
Two sports thought of a bubble. One thought of one without prostitutes, which may speak to the long run difference of being raised with one parent versus two.
But there was one change I would have liked to have seen be introduced in every sport. And not just this year, but going forward forever. That idea? Playoff drafts.
What’s a playoff draft? I’m not sure it even exists, so I get to totally create this new and brilliant idea. In theory, a playoff draft is a way to make playoff sports more interesting and exciting. How does it work? It goes like this:
Team A beats Team B in the playoffs. Fuck you, Team B, you pieces of shit! After A dispatches B, depending on the sport, Team A can harvest players off of Team B’s roster. How many players? Easy.
A smart team would select other players to cover for weaknesses. Is your running back average? Steal the better one! Did a star player get hurt? Take the equivalent?
Think back to when the Jets beat anyone in the playoffs. In 2010 Tom Brady would have been a Jet. That’s a big wow factor, no?
The player additions are also a per round total. If your baseball team wins the play in and the wild card? You have 4 new guys on your team.
Forever? No. You get the player back on your team after the postseason.
Do you have to take other players? No, its up to your GM and coach.
You may say “Since we won, why would we take a player from the other team?” The better question is- Why wouldn’t you? What, you think by sharing how you’re coached a guy or two will have the keys to your weaknesses? They just lost to you, so if they couldn’t figure it out then, one player wont break a code in an extra week or two. The only thing he may figure out is that his regular coach sucks.
No, this is about rewarding winning. About adding excitement for the fan. About offering the best product that you possibly can. Plus now you get multi city appeal. Derek Jeter on the 2004 Red Sox? New York will be watching that World Series.
For the players, it’s like a free agency window. You get to check out other teams operations first hand. Players should love that because it will push wages up when they jump ship for teams that they liked.
What if there is an upset? Holy cow is that a game changer! Say The LA Lakers lose in the semi finals. Suddenly you have LeBron James or Anthony Davis coming off of your bench in the next round. That’s sudden interest in an underdog team. And the more LeBron, the more ESPN exists.
What about the guys that they replace? Those guys get put into suspended animation on your roster. New guy gets injured? Fuck off. You’re down one. You have to give the suspended animation list a positive sounding name so it doesn’t sound like a punishment. Call it the “Recent Reserves” list.
The 2020 New York Islanders and their awful power play beat the Capitals. Top 5 bust Michael Dal Colle goes on the Reserves list, add Alexander Ovechkin to your lineup. Power play issues solved, maybe the Islanders beat Tampa Bay and add Braden Point to their team at forward, and Victor Hedman on defense. But Tampa won….bet Josh Bailey wouldn’t be in their top ten players to poach list.
Reunited with Trotz? Power play solved.
Players you take in a playoff draft? They get playoff money shares, a title ring, but their name isn’t added to your team history or on the Stanley Cup. Their stats however are added to their personal history. Say Pete Alonso is taken by the Braves and hits 4 playoff home runs? That’s all Alonso stats, not the Braves.
The Celtics beat the Sixers? Suddenly backing up at point for the Celtics? Ben Simmons! Makes the game more interesting, and the team stronger. This year in the NBA Kawai Leonard would have been picked up by Denver. How would that change their approach in the next round?
Plus, the selection process itself would be super exciting. All sports leagues make a big deal about amateur drafts. Imagine the headlines of a professional draft? It would be interesting to see who would get picked. Sorry, choking ass Clayton Kershaw!
And if you chose a player who was a bum? The second guessing would make a whole new world of sport talk what if’s. “Imagine how it would have turned out if the Yankees took Ichiro, Tim Hudson and Barry Zito in 2001? They win 6 World Series in a row!”
Think about the revenue opportunities available for sports teams. Sport leagues keep making money off of TV ratings. Why would they want to water down a product?
Could players throw games? Absolutely. That makes the selection more exciting- it’s the chance you take as a franchise. Plus, couldn’t a player throw a game in the playoffs anyway, or was John Starks that god awful bad versus Houston?
This idea is most definitely outside the box, and will insult sports purists. However, if would create dream teams in each sport, and that’s what fans want to see, right? So come on big leagues, time to grow a pair and start the playoff draft!
The more things change, the more they stay the same is the motto for another predictable SEC West season. When Horace Greeley uttered the words “Go West, young man, go West and grow up with the country” in July of 1865, little did he know the reference would fit Alabama. This year due to COVID changes, the SEC features a 10-game conference only schedule.
Since the creation of the SEC Championship in 1992, Alabama (12), Auburn (7) and LSU (6) have won 25 of the 28 division titles. However, since Nick Saban came to Tuscaloosa in 2007, the SEC West is the standard for College Football, winning eight of the 13 National Championships.
Most SEC Championships
Head Coaches, Since 1992
>>Won 6 National Championships
The division now features a collection of elite coaches vying to grab a piece of that Championship puzzle. Ole Miss welcomes former Tennessee Head Coach Lane Kiffin. The Rebels last finished with a conference record above .500 in 2015 (6-2) and has just five total since 1992.
Mississippi State hired Mike Leach in the offseason, hoping to make the Bulldogs relevant. Leach’s squad pins their 2020 hopes on running back Kylin Hill (1,350 rushing yards and 10 TD in 2019) and Stanford graduate transfer K.J. Costello at QB.
Texas A&M finally finds itself in a position to challenge the West for the first time in Jimbo Fisher’s tenure. Kellen Mond leads the offense (28 total TDs in 2019) while the Aggies return ten starters on defense. Fischer’s gang travels to Tuscaloosa and hosts Florida after opening against Vanderbilt.
LSU and Auburn find themselves rebuilding after both knocking off Alabama in 2019. The defending National Champions saw their chances to repeat dwindle when WR Ja’Marr Chase and NT Tyler Shelvin both opted out.
The big bully in the division is still Alabama. Since 2007 the Tide is 89-15 (.865) in conference play. LSU ranks second, a distant 17 wins behind (Georgia ranks second overall with 73 wins). The Tide’s defense will be markedly better than the unit that allowed 25.4 PPG and 368 YPG in conference play (both team highs under Saban). Linebackers Dylan Moses and Joshua McMillon return as does DE LaBryan Ray after missing 2019 with injuries.
QB Mac Jones played well replacing Tua Tagovailoa but must limit the mistakes which cost the Tide their fifth straight trip to the CFB Championship. Jones tore up Auburn’s defense for 45 points (22 more than any other opponent) but gave the Tigers 14 points with two pick-sixes. DeVonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle, and Najee Harris provide the Tide much of the offensive firepower that averaged over 45 points and 500 YPG in each of the last two seasons.
Alabama Crimson Tide
SEC Games, Since 2011
W-L vs LSU & Auburn
W-L vs Rest of SEC
The Tide’s dominance in college football’s best conference is glaring. Since 2011, Alabama’s win margin (+22.3) and YPG differential (177.9) is staggering. Another moniker of their dominance is their road record. Subtracting their 2-3 record at Auburn, Saban’s boys are 30-1 away from Tuscaloosa since 2011 (five points if you can name their only loss).
2020 Final Standings Predictions
2. Texas A&M
4. Ole Miss
6. Mississippi St.
Alabama will regain their division title in 2020, while the Aggies record their best conference finish since joining the SEC.
The second week in the NFL produced a large number of high-scoring, exciting games, while also delivering many significant injuries to key players.
Here are five interesting facts and figures.
Falcons blow 20-point lead at Dallas – Atlanta allows 570 total yards and a 15-point lead with under six minutes remaining. Since 2015 teams are 506-3 when leading by more than 14 points in the final five minutes of regulation (courtesy Mike Sando of The Athletic). Two of those losses involved Dan Quinn’s Falcons.
The Patriots Cam Newton is the first quarterback since 1950 to lead his team in rushing attempts in the first two games of the season (Elias).
Russell Wilson (Seahawks) leads the NFL in TD passes (9), completion percentage (82.5, 52-63), and passer rating (140.0).
Josh Allen (Bills) leads the NFL in passing yards (729) and joins Jim Kelly (1991) as the only QB in team history to throw for 300 yards in each of the Bills’ first two games.
The Jets and Bengals are 0-2 for the 17th and 19th time since the merger. Only the New Orleans Saints with 21 have more.
As we wrap up part three to the Islanders 2019-2020 retrospective and prospective, I’m going to fire up the couchbound GM in me and talk about potential deals that can be made, because if you look at the landscape of the NHL, there are deals to be made if only someone had the courage to do something unthinkable by Islander Kool Aid standards- like make a trade. You know, like Lou did at the deadline to get us to our first ECF ever, and he didn’t even trade for Tyler Kennedy!
Then I’m going to tell you how far distanced from reality the fans known as Islander Kool Aid #IslesKoolAid are. Which is a different planet.
TL;DR- the Islanders have 7 slots to fill to have a roster next year, and $9 million dollars in cap space, with three of those slots being Barzal, Toews, and Pulock. That’s the reality of the situation that #IslesKoolAid never gets their head around.
If you look at the NHL landscape, there are certainly haves and have nots. The New Jersey Devils fit in many have not boxes. Two of their needs are defensemen, as they only have 4 of them signed for the upcoming season. They also need about $5 million to reach the CAP FLOOR. No matter what the Devils do, they are going to suck next year. Why not help them suck less, get them to the cap floor, address their glaring hole in defense, and help yourself out at the same time, albeit temporarily?
Kyle Palmieri is a top 3 payer on the Devils. After the 2020-21 season he will be an unrestricted free agent, and he is NOT sticking around in New Jersey.
Deal one: Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk to NJ for Kyle Palmieri. The trade gets the Devils merely to the floor. It strengthens their defense with a pairing with immediate chemistry. It ties the Devils to this upcoming suck year with these guys, then a year until you free up nearly $12 million in cap space for the Debbies. Both defensive players are still productive.
For the Islanders, it frees $5 million of cap space. Considering Barzal’s present salary of roughly $900,000? There’s the finding for almost all of Barzals raise. And it gives them a season to decide what to do with Palmieri before he hits unrestricted free agency.
Deal two: This isn’t even my creation, it’s already being kicked around as a rumor out there. The RFA rights to Devon Toews, one of the two prospects of Walhstrom or Bellows, Josh Bailey or Jordan Eberle, and a 3rd rounder for Patrick Laine and a 2nd.
How does this work for both teams?
Winnipeg gets rid of a 30+ goal scoring future contract headache who is already making almost $7 million dollars and will want a raise after this season. Winnipeg gets a quick and offensive defender on a team with only 4 defenders under contract for 2020. They also get an experienced playoff forward to mix in with a group of mostly young skill forwards where Bailey can post another 20 meaningless playoff points or Eberle can add in a mix of .6ppg playoff production without being a centerpiece.
Pricewise Winnipeg loses almost $7 million. They’ll take back the $5m of Bailey and end up around $4-5m for Toews, but they also get a future first round forward piece and a pick. The Isles get a few dollars in savings, but they also get a pick back because they may only have Laine for one season and need a reason to eat the risk of losing a talented player.
Eberle/Bailey to Colorado for the rights to Ryan Graves. Colorado has a need for skill forwards to advance in the playoffs. They also need some money to get to the cap floor. Graves is a restricted free agent that is coming into his own and will demand a contract, but unlike at forward, the Avs have way more bodies at defense than at offense. Trading from a strength to fill a weakness is smart.
For the Isles? Graves will cost about $2 million a year for 3 years- a 300% raise- before they have to make a hard decision on him. This will give them some breathing room in the decision making realm of what to do with Mayfield and Pulock over the next two years.
At this point I already know that we’re talking fantasy GM stuff, because there is NO GM in the NHL that will make a trade for the overpaid, underproductive Josh Bailey. ZERO FOR THIRTY ONE. Why?
Trade Four: revisiting Andrew Ladd and Sebastian Aho for Zach Parise, with Minnesota eating the difference in salary for Ladd for the remainder of the Parise deal. How does this work? The Islanders get rid of Ladd and his $5.5m cap hit. Minnesota will only actually pay Ladd $9m, based on how Ladd’s deal was structured. That’s how they can float the $10 million they won’t be paying Parise to be an Islander, while the Islanders have to pay Parise $27.5 million to ride out that deal. That’s a fantastic cash savings for Minnesota- it’s thje ability to afford a different impact player. Ladd is likely to LTIR anyway, so it’s win- win for Minnesota. And Aho gives Minny depth at defense, which needs a defenseman right now, and 2 more the next season.
There is no cash savings here for the Islanders, its actually trading 3 bad years for 5 unknowns, but also a guy that scores 20 goals every year, will be a power play asset, and can take a 3rd line shift and work with a newly acquired 3C with no wings rather than be grinding for top 6 minutes and beatings. That will prolong a career.
Next up? Offer Pietrangelo $10 million a year for 5 years. Give him a $5 million a year salary and $25m as a signing bonus. Because it’s hard to say no to a check for $25 million.
How does that work? The new owners are clearly flush with cash. These are no longer the days of Cheap Charlie. The owners also would want to make a splash in time for a brand new arena, especially after going 0 for 2 on the last two big UFA’s on the market in Panarin and Snake. You have to step up for moments like a new arena opening, unless you want to do that without any shiny new toys. The cap hit is $10 million either way. But $5m in actual salary makes a player tradable if his decline comes on like a Subban. Pietrangelo isn’t likely to retire before 36 so there’s a small concern about reclaiming salary against the cap if he retires. And he’s be the most potent offensive force on the blueline since Mark Streit, but also plays defense.
So let’s look at the video game lineup:
Laine Barzal Palmeiri – roughly $18m
Lee Nelson Beauvillier- roughly $15m
Parise Pageau Bellows/Whalstrom- roughly $11.5m
Johnston Cizikas Clutterbuk- roughly $8m
Komorov – $2.5m Dal Colle $700k
Total Cost- about $56m
Last year’s hit- $48m
2019-2020 Goals Scored: 160
2020-2021 Projected Goals (based on repeating 2019-2020 stats): 215
The forwards would actually cost a lot more than last years group. $8 million more. $6 million of that increase is the salary of Mathew Barzal. Palmieri somewhat amazingly makes less than what Bailey does. Laine makes about a million more than Eberle, although that’s going to change in 2021. Johnston makes less than Martin. Minnesota will be eating the salary difference between the exiting Ladd and what impact Parise would have on the salary cap. Whichever rookie F will make what Khunackl did. Brassard’s cap hit is gone. And that top 9 is lethal compared to what they had.
Pietrangelo Pulock – roughly $15m
Pelech Dobson – roughly $2.5m
Mayfield Graves- roughly $3.5m
Total Cost- $24.5M
Last years hit – about $23m.
2019-2020 Goals Scored: 28
2020-2021 Projected Goals (based on 2019-2020 stats): 43
This defense will cost about the same as least years defense, as the raise for Pulock would be made up of Pulock and Toews last years salaries, plus whatever small raise he gets to carry him to his UFA days. Pietrangelo will not make $11.5m which is what Leddy and Boychuk make. Dobson Mayfield Pelech and Hickey already have contracts. Graves would come in around half of Greene’s $5m cap hit, as he is also an RFA.
Sorokin – $2m.
Varlamov – $5m
Total Cost- $7m.
Last years cost- $8.3m.
This is already set in stone, which made it easy. This will change in the summer of 2021 if Sorokin is any good. The salary cap, however, will not.
Total cost for 2020-2021 Islanders? $88m. Which is why it cant be done, right? Not with a cap ceiling of $81.5m.
Now you have the wonderful option of how to compensate for being $7.5m over the cap. Do you trade Lee? Do you sign a different option than a sexy name like Pietrangelo? Do you give Pulock a one year deal at $3m? Bury deals in the AHL? Break up the rest of the best 4th line in hockey w less expensive options?
I started to feel bad that I spent time writing this, but not really, because there is a lesson to be learned in the exercise.
All the proposed trades offset salary for the Islanders, so new bodies aren’t the issue. The issue the Islanders face is the timing of the RFA deals that will add at least $8m to the payroll if you just keep Pulock and Barzal. If you want Toews? Y ou’re adding $12m to keep the same team and eat up more cap space than you actually have. On a team that was a win now team.
That, and then you weigh the overpays that were justified at the time with stupid phrases like “yes it’s 6 years but it’s below market 6 years from now” and realize that those long term deals have impacts on the present frozen salary cap. In 2019-2020 Ladd and Bailey ate $10.5m for under 20 goals. That’s similar to what Tavares made last year. Which situation would you prefer?
And we know that the Islanders lack of ability to score goals against high octane teams- they would probably have lost a tight contest to Dallas just as well as they did to Tampa- means that they do need to make wholesale changes at F.
Islander fans like to shit on proposed trades, and thus will try to shit on my entire hypothetical, one where I knew going in that Lou would not trade away half a dozen guys from his roster, mostly because he doesn’t have to be that bold anymore for league wide recognition.
Actually, let me be the first to shit on the fans hearts for this upcoming season. The Islanders caught every break possible, including a global pandemic, just to LOSE in an Eastern Conference Final. Not the championship, but a pre-championship. They’re going to return with the same team? No, they’re not.
Larry Brooks recently wrote about how losing breeds character in a locker room. Well, Carolina went to the ECF against the Bruins last year. Carolina lost the series last year, and Boston lost the Cup. NEITHER team made a return to the ECF. Columbus made it past their first round ever last year. Not this time. Toronto didn’t even make the playoffs, technically. Henrik Lundqvist’s final season will be bought out because he could not carry the Rangers on his bi-curious back one last time. Stanley Cup champs St Louis are at home watching this year and are going to lose a key player. But the Islanders are the team that’s going to buck that trend? If you believe that, I have a big bag of dicks right over here for you to eat.
Keeping this roster together the same way as it was last year? DEFINITELY SHOULD NOT HAPPEN. It’s already changed at Goalie, and the limits of the salary cap and trade rumors says changes are far from over. So, think about what changes you want to see and where, because they are going to happen. You’re going to lose some favorite sons, or you’re not going back to an ECF. So decide what you like more- the players or the team, because only one of those matter.
Oh, we also have to take into account one more roster. The most unrealistic roster of all. The #IslesKoolAid roster.
What is the Kool Aid roster? Some fans seem to like individual players more than they like the team. The root for the opposite of Gestalt. Those fans do not want to see one single removal of any player on the roster. They want it to be just like last year, forever. This is the Garth Snow effect- when you lose so fucking much that you think it’s normal. IT’S NOT. It’s embarrassing. It’s the mentality of the bad fan. It leads to shit like adults waiting to wave at an airplane full of millionaires because fans are concerned that the rich folk will have hurt feelings.
The #islesKoolAid roster? Here we go. Barzal sees $8 million. I said $6m is a more than a fair price to pay the guy short term to eat the rest of his RFA and a little of his UFA, but we’re talking Kool Aiders here. Barzal needs to be paid like Crosby before he even plays in a final, nevertheless wins a cup.
Matt Martin? He can’t go to the Rangers! It’d hurt our feelings! Rangers are offering him $3m a year? Lets go the same as Cizikas and Clutterbuck and do $3.4m.
Brassard had some key plays in the playoffs. Yes, he’s in a career decline, but he can come back on the same bargain deal at $1.5m.
Can’t trade Ladd for Parise. Sure Parise had 25 goals in the shortened season, which is about what Ladd has scored for his entire Islanders career (39 goals in 4 seasons for $26.5 million dollars) , but Parise will be at the end of his career…just like Ladd. We can’t change what we know!
The one change? Khunackl can go. We have an offensive minded prospect to bury on the bottom 6 and the pressbox, just like first round pick Josh Ho Sang.
2020-2021 cap hit for Kool Aid forward roster: $62.5m
2019-202 cap hit for team: $48m for the same roster.
We can’t let Toews OR Pulock walk. Pulock has become a top 2 defender and needs to be paid AT LEAST $6 million dollars just like Boychuk. And Toews? $5.5 million just like Leddy. Pelech is a restricted free agent next year, but lets not look down the road at next summer. Hand out that money now!
2020-2021 cap hit for Kool Aid roster: $29.5m
2019-2020 cap hit for the same roster: $23m.
2020-2021 cap hit for Kool Aid goalies: $6m
How? Well, they like Greiss more than Varlamov because he was here longer. So the Islanders should resign Greiss- with a small raise of course- for $4m and work to trade the $20 million left remaining on Varlamov. That’s probably not impossible, but it creates a problem when Sorokin leaves after the 2020-2021 season because he was sold a false bill of goods regarding goaltender partnerships, and the Islanders need another goalie with nothing at all in the pipeline. Because Bridgeport develops players, yo.
2019- 220 cap hit for the roster: $8.3m.
The #IslesKoolAid cap hit? $98 million. For at best, more of the same. So who’s lineup looks crazy now? Fact is, by not changing anything, your fantasy roster is more expensive and less talented than the one I cobbled together, which added “all stars” and removed “all stains.”
In conclusion, #IslesKoolAid has pipe dreams of bringing a team back to hope it can do more of the same, which was lose. Me? I like that saying, insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results each time.
My fantasy roster is improbably. But the wishes of #IslesKooAId? Batshit crazy.
The New York Yankees had one of baseball’s greatest dynasties from 1996-2003, where they made six World Series appearances and captured four titles. In 2001, the Yankees led game seven 2-1 and were three outs away from defeating the Arizona Diamondbacks to claim a fourth straight title. Future Hall of Fame closer Mariano Rivera proceeded to blow the save and cost New York the championship. As gut-wrenching as that loss was, what if I told you that Rivera’s World Series losing blown save saved a Yankee’s life?
Enrique Wilson’s name might not jump off the page to you, but the utility infielder was of great importance to the Yankees during his stint in New York from 2001-2004. Primarily a bench player, Wilson often found his way into the lineup specifically against one pitcher, Red Sox’s ace Pedro Martinez. Wilson was Martinez’s kryptonite; he batted .364 against the Boston right-hander in 35 career plate appearances.
So what happened back in 2001 with Wilson, the World Series, and Rivera’s blown save? As I mentioned, the Yankees were oh so close to defeating the Diamondbacks for their 27th title. Had the Yankees won, there obviously would have been a World Series parade down the Canyon of Heroes in the following days. A native of the Dominican Republic, Wilson scheduled a flight back to his home country for after the parade. Since Rivera blew the save, Wilson simply changed his flight to one a few days earlier. Not a big deal, right?
Photo credit: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
As it turns out, the flight Wilson would have boarded had the Yankees won never made it to the Dominican Republic. American Airlines Flight 587 crashed into the Queens neighborhood of Belle Harbor shortly after takeoff. All 260 people on board the plane passed away from the crash, along with five more people on the ground.
“I am glad we lost the World Series, because it means that I still have a friend.” said Rivera after learning about the incident. In the 32 postseason series Rivera played in, he allowed only 13 runs, 11 of those earned. The Yankees’ closer was truly untouchable in the playoffs. For his career, Rivera was 8-1 with a microscopic ERA of 0.70. He could not have hand-picked a better time to have an off day on the mound.
Mariano Rivera is baseball’s all-time saves leader with 652, but his biggest save of all saved a life, not a baseball game.