Big Ben Whitney: NFL Quick Hitters and the Japanese Babe Ruth

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Stamford, CT: Don’t bogart that thing bro, (do people still say “bogart,” it’s been a while?), it’s time for more NFL Quick Hitters. I’ll check in on our local teams and the AFC West, suddenly the worst division in the league. I’m also looking eastward, anticipating the arrival of the “Japanese Babe Ruth.”

Japanese Babe Ruth

Come on, let’s go outside. You don’t think the Giants are gonna win do you?

Big Blue Turd Stew
Three teams were mathematically eliminated this weekend – the Browns, 49ers (no shocks there), and your New York Giants. Man, what an absolute catastrophe.

Eli Apple reportedly had a hissy fit after being criticized for a lack of effort. Pfft, even my Dog Chief knows he’s been sandbagging. The end of the Giants’ season was that pass in the Eagles game that set up the game winning 95 yard FG. Knock it down, other Eli.

Jerry Reese might be remembered most for his panicked choice of Apple in the first round of the 2015 draft. Getting outmaneuvered in the first round and not addressing the O-line screwed up the end of Eli Manning’s career. They didn’t have the stones to take Laremy Tunsil, who fell in their lap thanks to one very bitter girlfriend. So he smoked a little grass (do people still say “grass?”) with a gas mask on? Different Matt is probably doing that right now.

The only argument I’ve heard for keeping the McAdoo/Reese “brain” trust is that it’s too late in Eli’s career to try to start over with a new offense. If I were Eli and they told me they had decided to keep them in place, my reaction would be “I’m ready to waive my no trade clause please. Cleveland? Sure, I love that town. The Edmonton Eskimos? Sounds good.

Vote for Pedro

Jets Spinning Their Wheels
The Jets might have a few cornerstone pieces on defense and Robbie Anderson can play, but they still have a ton of holes and no franchise QB. A winning culture is important, but they might win enough games to miss out on the best QBs.

Anderson got some criticism for making a public plea for votes to the Pro Bowl during the game. Criticism deserved. But don’t be too hard on him, he’s just a kid who knows the Jets aren’t going anywhere this year.
AFC West – Best to Worst
The Patrick Mahomes Era has to begin in KC this weekend. Maybe he’ll galvanize them like Desean Watson did for the Texans. At worst he gets a little experience for next year. That plan worked for Jared Goff.

The Chargers are a sneaky long shot Super Bowl bet. They suddenly have a ferocious defense and a lot of weapons on offense. And since the play in the suddenly horrible AFC West, they should get in. They have five winnable games left and three might be enough.

The Michael Crabtree/Aqib Talib Brawl was high entertainment, especially since I was going against Crabtree in two fantasy leagues. What do you think Talib does with Crabtree’s jewelry? If the NFL wants to boost ratings, they should let these two teams play every Monday.

Baby-faced assassin

The Japanese Babe
It’s fair to say I’m excited about Shohei Ohtani coming to the States. Ohtani is the kid in Little League who pitched, hit cleanup and played shortstop when he wasn’t pitching. His fastball has been clocked at 102.5 mpg, he can get to first from the batter’s box as fast as the fastest Major Leaguer, and has top tier power. Insiders think he won’t even meet with a team that doesn’t have a plan for him to be a pitcher and a hitter. But managing his workload will be tricky. This will be a first in the modern era.

2016 was Ohtani’s best year, as he had some injuries last year. In 2016, he hit .322, with a .416 OBP, 1.004 OPS, 22 HRs and 67 RBI in 382 ABs. He was 10-4 on the hill with a 1.86 ERA and a whopping 174 strikeouts in 140 innings. Great Scud, that’s one hell of a weapon.

In a typical week in Japan, Ohtani would DH from Tuesday to Thursday, take Fridays and Saturdays off to prepare to pitch, and then pitch on Sundays. Monday was a built in recovery day as Japanese teams generally do not play. MLB teams would have to get creative to lure him.

The AL makes the most sense. You’d think the NL would be better because the pitcher hits. But in the AL, you don’t have to have a DH (I looked it up), you can let the pitcher hit. And the AL gives him the flexibility to be the DH instead of playing a position.
Can the Yanks Make it Work?

No, not that Japanese babe

The Yankees have positioned themselves to make a run. They’ve made several deals since the summer to increase their international bonus pool money, including $1.5 million acquired in the Sonny Gray trade. In November they traded Caleb Smith and Garrett Cooper to the Miami Jeter Marlins to max out their available money around $3.5 million. They are now slightly behind the Texas Rangers, who have the most bonus money to offer him. But it’s close, I wouldn’t expect him to sign with Texas just for a few extra bucks. If he wanted to maximize his dollars, he would wait to come over until he’s 25 when he can get a real contract.

As the Yankees are stocked in the OF (including 4th OF Jacoby Ellsbury’s 4 more years at $21+ million per. Ouch), he would be the primary DH. That means Passed Ball Sanchez would stay behind the plate most of the time. But it sure would be fun.

When you’re done here, check out Angry Ward, no relation to the former Heisman Trophy winner and Knicks guard Charlie Ward. You can follow us on Twitter at @BenWhit8, @MeetTheMatts, @Matt_McCarthy00, Instagram @MeetTheMatts and like our Facebook page, Meet The Matts.

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About the Author ()

Ben Whitney comes from journalistic stock. Aside from his brothers, rumor has that his great-great grandfather was the youngest brother of Eli Whitney and covered the earliest “rounders” games. Big Ben is also another New York Rugby Club player/pal of Different Matt, Short Matt and Junoir Blaber. He likes film noir discussions, has twin girls and took up ice hockey after retiring from rugby.

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