The NFL Gets Tomlin Situation Wrong


Taking six days to arrive at a decision over Mike Tomlin’s stepping on the field of play/interference in the Pittsburgh Steelers versus the Baltimore Ravens game seemed a little long to me, but I’m not going to lose any sleep over a few extra days.  The fining of $100,000?  That is not out of line, but more on that in a moment.  The conditional losing of draft picks based on what happens and how playoff seedings are effected is where the league loses me.

Yesterday I wrote a blog disagreeing with ESPN’s Steven A. Smith on his position about the N.Y. Yankees and whether or not they should overpay Robinson Cano.  Today I am going to whole heartedly agree with him that whatever the league is going to do punishment wise, needs to be done now.

tomlinTomlin, a deserving well-respected coach, made a mistake.  One he deserves to be punished for.  But neither he, nor the Steelers deserve to have this dangle over their heads and be a story for months.  But this goes farther than that, as the league’s position is wrong on other levels as well.

Firstly, I think the taking of a draft pick is not warranted here.  Mike Tomlin acted on his own in the heat of the moment.  There is no evidence, circumstantial or otherwise, of organizational misconduct.  This interference is not an example of something that the organization knew about or should have known about.  The latter being just cause to punish the team by taking a draft pick.

And the principle of making the pick or picks forfeited contingent on the ultimate effect it has on Pittsburgh’s playoff positioning is unprecedented.  If we’re going to do that why don’t we suspend players for illegal hits based on how long the opposing player they injure misses games?  And if the injured player’s team misses the playoffs why don’t we take draft picks from them?

Mike Piazza laid out after getting hit in the head by Roger Clemons

Mike Piazza laid out after getting hit in the head by Roger Clemons

Baseball can do the same.  If a pitcher beans an opposing player and he is out for the season, that pitcher is gone for the season.  Intentionally beaning someone with a deadly weapon is a far worse offense that does more to challenge the integrity of the game then stepping on the field.  (And does warrant a stiffer penalty then a free pass to first base, but I digress.)

Do you see what opening this door can do?

But if this is the direction the NFL wanted to go, taking a pick or picks depending on whether or not the four fewer points Baltimore scored affects them getting into the playoffs or their playoff position, the league should have:

A-    As Stephen A. suggests, just awarded Pittsburgh the four points and came down with a definitive punishment.

B-    Establish that if Ravens miss the playoffs because of the missing points, Pittsburgh will lose “X”, or if they get a worse seeding, they will lose “Y”.

C-    If Pittsburgh’s playoff positioning is unaffected by the incident they  lose “Z”.

At least this way, we avoid speculation and everyone knows what is what.

The intention of this fine and punishment is to reprimand Tomlin for a violation and to discourage the act from being done by anyone else again.  I get that.  So let’s look at the fine first:

A hundred K is a decent amount of cheese.  It’s real and more than the run of the mill ten to fifty thousand dollar slap on the wrist.  Okay.  But would it deter a coach from engaging in an act that he felt could help win an important game?  I don’t think so.  So the fine sounds nice, I would have been okay with a 50K fine, but it is appropriate,  however on it’s own, it doesn’t do much for me.

I do think a loss of a high draft pick will serve as deterrence, but as previously stated, I do think this punishment fits this “crime”.

The “just” punishment in this instance would have been a one game suspension.  No need to waste time on trying to figure out intent, (even though Steven A., Skip Bayless and many others think it was intentional), if a coach or any player not on the field of play interferes with a play on the field it should be a 15 yard penalty against that team and an automatic ejection from that game and one game suspension.  Period.  Done. No need for additional fines and histrionics.

Robert Horry gives Steve Nash a cheap shot, drawing Amare Stoudemire off the bench.  Stoudemire doesn't throw a punch but is suspended for a key playoff game.

Robert Horry gives Steve Nash a cheap shot, drawing Amare Stoudemire off the bench. Stoudemire doesn’t throw a punch but is suspended for a key playoff game.

This would be similar to the NBA rule having to do with players leaving the bench during an altercation.  Doesn’t matter if it is just their toe crossing the in-bounds line, if they do it, bam automatic one game suspension.

A fine is one thing, but coaches do not want to miss games.  This would be about a close as a deterrent as losing a draft pick, and a stiff loss of wage from the suspension all rolled up into one.  I doubt we would see this again.  And if it does occur again, it would take six days to come out with an incomplete disciplinary action.






What The Ellsbury Signing DOESN’T Mean For Cano


With righteous indignation ESPN’s Steven A. Smith lamented on First Take yesterday that since the N.Y. Yankees overpaid for Jacoby Ellsbury, they have to do the same for Robinson Cano.  With all due respect Steven A.,  Hogwash!


ESPN’S Steven A., Smith on First Take

On balance, Steven A. is generally more rational and measured in his commentary.  He has demonstrated an appreciation for the business aspect of things on many occasions.  As he is a self-admitted Yankee fan, I will cut him some slack here, but he is wrong for several reasons.

To date, Cano’s representation, led by Jay Z, has handled this negotiation horribly.  Firstly, the 300 plus million they reportedly asked for and referred to as, “buying out Cano’s free agency”, when he still had a season left on his contract, is ass backwards. 

I am shocked that I have not heard anyone in the media call them on this.  You see generally you ask for less money when you are still under contract… Not more!  Dustin Pedroia’s 110 million dollar contract with the Boston Red Sox is a great example.  (In fact instead of asking how can the Yankees not overpay Cano when they overpaid Ellsbury, we should be asking how can Cano not accept the Yankees offer after Pedroia accepted the Red Sox?  Does Cano think he is that much better than him?)

Players generally settle for less while currently under contract when they want to stay with their current team, (as Cano professes to want to stay with the Yankees), and avoid the risk of injury taking away a nice payday.  It is commonly referred to as “the home team discount”.  Cano’s people, I guess wanted, “the home team surcharge!”

A simple rule of negotiation when you want to make a deal with someone is to start with a proposal that is in the ballpark of reality.  If I am applying for a job that pays between 10 and 12 dollars an hour and put a salary demand in my cover letter of 31 dollars an hour, I will not get that interview.  Maybe if I put 13, 14 or 15 dollars per hour, and I had superstar credentials, maybe I get call in for an interview and we negotiate.

Speaking of superstar credentials, Cano doesn’t have them.  Steven A., you admit this, and that Cano doesn’t draw at the gate like a Derek Jeter or Alex Rodriguez.  Cano doesn’t hit 40 home runs, (over 30 HR once!) doesn’t bat 350, doesn’t steal 50 bases, (doesn’t steal 10!), and doesn’t generate revenue by drawing crowds at the stadium, or on TV. 

Where the bleep do his reps get off asking for 300 plus million?   It is an insulting figure to the Yankees and the fans of the team.  Why?  A- Are the Yankees and the fans that stupid?  B-You can’t care too much about winning and ask for that number, even from the Yankees.  Especially in a year when they are trying to cut payroll so they can save on revenue tax and reload even more in the future.

Cano’s more recent $260 million figure, while less ludicrous than the 300 plus, is still ludicrous and not a reasonable starting point.  A- Because his credentials do not warrant it.  B- Because of the handful of teams that could possibly afford it, (Dodgers, Red Sox, Mets, Angels) no one is in.  Why should the Yankees bid against themselves?  They refused to do it with Jeter’s last three-year contract, and they’re right for not doing it with Cano.

Cano is not Albert Pujols, or Miguel Cabrera.  Side note, how is that Pujols contract working out?


Steve A., the Yankees had given Cano and his reps. ample notice that they were going to pursue other free agents if they didn’t move on the Yankees offer of 7 years 160 million.  A great offer considering what Pedroia makes in Boston.  Had Jay Z and his partners showed more reasonableness in their figures, (maybe started out at 8/ 210 mill) perhaps the Yankees could have played it out and landed on 7/ 180.  But given their unreasonable demands to date, the Yankees had to believe it was possible Cano would not come down.  And maybe the one dumb owner theory would play out and Cano would get north of 200 from somebody.  (A figure you agree they should walk from.)

So the Yankees paid Brian McCann and now Ellsbury.  Yes Steven A., they overpaid.  But that is what teams do to get players to leave a team and join theirs.  What were the Yankees suppose to do, wait?  Let Ellsbury and everyone else get signed?  There was a market and competition for Ellsbury in a price range the Yankees were comfortable with.  Where is the market for Cano?  Who is offering the absurd figure he is asking for that you agree the Yankees shouldn’t pay?  Good luck in Seattle if they end up being that team.

Cano was adequately warned and his team saw how the last major Jeter negotiation was handled.  They can’t claim to be surprised.  If the Yankees add another piece, or can no longer afford Cano, or do not want to budge off of their 7/160 or “only” go to 7/ 170, I have no problem with it.  Cano took a risk.  Sometimes risks payoff, sometimes they don’t.

Cano has showed zero loyalty to the Yankees in these negotiations so far, why should they should more to him than he is showing to them or to the fans?  If it is all about money to Cano then it is fair that it is all about money and business to the Yankees.

Paying Ellsbury $153 mill doesn’t prove they can still pay Cano $180.  All it proves is that they had that ballpark amount of money allocated to pay one player…Cano didn’t move on what was offered to him or make a reasonable counter, so the Yankees moved on.

If I had to pick between Cano at 7/175 or Ellsbury at 7/153… In two seconds I’d pick Cano.  But he didn’t give the Yankees that choice.  If they close him out or don’t have the money or inclination to go above that, blame Cano and or his reps. Not the Yankees.