Frank Doyle wants Roger Goodell to say it ain’t so – surely the NFL Commish wouldn’t be so foolish as to risk the awesome wrath of the baseball gods?
The NFL may be the biggest sports organisation in America, but it’s always a mistake to push your luck.
So it’s very surprising, therefore, that NFL chose to take on the most powerful figures in American sports when they announced their schedule on Tuesday. Because, in scheduling the Week 8 visit of Pittsburgh to New Orleans for the late game on Sunday night, the NFL is in a head to head prime clash against Game 4 of the Major League Baseball World Series.
It’s an act of defiance similar to meeting Uncle Sam himself and tugging his goatee beard. Because whatever happens you can bet Madison Avenue against Skid Row that the baseball gods will not take the affront lying down, and will surely have their awesome revenge.
It’s easy to mock the baseball gods as goofy, cornball, old school. The baseball gods are letter sweaters best left to Beaver. But they don’t care. It matters little in that strange world that is bounded by Valhalla on one foul-line, Nirvana on the other and exists as sheer baseball Heaven in between. All they care about in that magical world of eternal summer is that the game that represents America like no other is shown due respect.
The baseball gods are all-powerful and never-forgiving. You think Carlos Zambrano has a 7.45 ERA this year by accident? The baseball gods are still extracting revenge for the slight perpetrated on Billy Sianis, a fine American, in Wrigley Field in 1945, and they haven’t finished yet. The MLB betting lines on the Cubbies are generous for a reason.
We may see the Yankees against the Mets, Cards or Cubs – because the baseball gods giveth just as mysteriously as they taketh away – in the World Series, matchups that will blow the Steelers at Saints ratings out of the water. Those teams may be gone anyway by then, with the Steelers’ quarterback crisis coming back to haunt them and the Saints’ Super Bowl hangover exacerbated by the fact that Bourbon Street is only a twenty minute drunken stagger away from the Superdome.
My own guess is that the baseball gods will use their awesome power to influence the NFL labor talks next year, as is the most direct way of hitting back at the NFL where it hurts most. If I were NFL Commissioner, I’d be spending the summer trying desperately to reverse the mojo before it’s too late.
I’d be making myself seen at as many baseball games as humanly possible this summer. I’d be up throwing out first pitches, up in the booth shooting the breeze with Joe Buck and Tim McCarver, coaching the girls’ softball team at weekends, whatever it took. Because those labor relations talks will be tough enough as it is without the ghost of Tyrus Raymond Cobb sitting opposite the table, while the baseball gods look down and laugh from the clouds.