SCREAMIN’ FROM THE CHEAP SEATS
By Leo Haggerty

Well, I’m back.  After a lengthy hiatus, I’m screaming again from the upper deck and there’s a whole lot to be yelling about.  If you don’t believe me, just read on.

My column has the same format as last year. As I was told when I first started in coaching as well as sports journalism, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it so nothing new there.

So, fans, enjoy my rants and raves on any subject.  Everything is fair game and nothing is off limits as you will see below.

DOES ANYONE HAVE A CLUE

NFL PASS INTERFERENCE REPLAY

Well, the Pandora’s Box has been opened.  The  National Football League powers-that-be have buckled under pressure and will allow teams, in the last two minutes of play, to have pass interference calls, or no calls, reviewed.

Does anyone in the NFL have a clue as to how this could play out?  Obviously they don’t.

Let me run this scenario by you first.  The Eagles are playing the Bucs in Philly with the winner being the last Wild Card team to get into the playoffs and the loser goes home.

The Eagles are up 21-20 and have the ball on the Bucs 45-yard line facing a third-and-8 with 2:09 left in the contest.  Neither team has any time outs remaining so the game is going to be decided on this play.

Birds QB Carson Wentz tries to hit TE Zach Ertz on a curl route just past the sticks.  Tampa Bay LB Lavonte David breaks up the pass but arrived too soon, as the replay clearly showed, and committed pass interference but there was no flag.

Hey, no problem, Philadelphia fans.  HC Doug Pederson can throw the challenge flag and get the penalty called and the Green & White can run out the clock and head to the second season.

As Lee Corse has so exquisitely said on numerous occasions, “Not so fast, my friend” and here’s why that statement is appropriate. The game clock reads 2:01 and that type of challenge is null and void.

Now, good people, you think the reaction was bad in New Orleans when the zebras flat out missed the PI that cost the Saints a trip to the Super Bowl. If the above situation ever came to fruition, there may be a riot.

This wouldn’t just occur in The City of Brotherly Love. I can see the same result in Chicago or New York or Dallas or a plethora of other NFL venues.

The NFL needs to scrap this idea and leave pass interference alone.  You don’t review holding or roughing the passer if it’s missed so why do this.

Logical people look at this as a bomb waiting to go off.  Why the pro football decision makers can’t see this is beyond my comprehension and pay grade.

WHAT’S HOT

MINNESOTA TWINS

Ladies and gentlemen, this one was a no-brainer.  The Minnesota Twins are the “feel good” story of Major League Baseball.

The “Twinkies” we not expected to be in the playoff conversation when the 2019 season began let alone a legitimate contender to go to the World Series.  Enter, new manager Rocco Baldelli.

Baldelli’s Bashers have won 50 games and are 24 games above the 500 plateau. That equates to a 9-game lead over the Cleveland Indians in the American League Central Division as well as the best record in the AL.

Yes, sports fans, you hear that right. Better than the Astros.  Better than the Yankees.  Tops in the Junior Circuit.

Yes, I know that the Big Leagues is a marathon and not a sprint and we’re not even to the midpoint of the season. Still, the “Twin Cities Crew” is on pace to win over 100 games. Unless they go into a prolonged slump for whatever reason, look for Minnesota to be playing baseball in October.

WHAT’S NOT

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Here’s my question.  What did the Bucs do to piss off the National Football League when it comes to the 2019 regular season schedule?

I submit to you a pair of glaring reasons that make me believe that the NFL schedule makers are being vindictive toward the Pewter Pirates.  The former deals with time and the latter involves duration.

First, let’s start with the opener at Raymond James against the San Francisco 49ers.  The opposition isn’t the concern but the 4:05 kickoff has put me in a quandary.

Having lived in the Tampa Bay area for over 30 years, I can assure you that the weather pattern in early September will most like include a midday thunderstorm.  What you cannot predict is the intensity or duration of these lightning storms.

Just a few seasons ago, Tampa Bay opened the season with two home games with a 4 pm kickoff.  Both contests had extensive weather delays and I expect the same for the 2019 opener.

The second is even more egregious.  The schedule has the Buccaneers playing a road game sandwiched around a couple of home tilts to start the season.  Then, for reasons unknown, Tampa Bay does not return to the friendly confines of the RayJay until Week 10.

So, after the Giants come to town on September 22, the Bucs play twice on the road with one being interested West Coast against the Rams.  Then, technically, a home game across to pond in England.  Then comes a bye week followed by two more roadies with the last a cross country excursion to Seattle.

Finally, the Pewter Road Warriors host the Cardinals on November 10th.  By the time that grueling part of the schedule is completed, this team will most likely be 4-5 at best and out of the playoff hunt.

The blame for this debacle falls squarely on the shoulders of the NFL.  The problem is the Buccaneers are the ones that will have to shoulder this unjust burden. That’s just not right.

LOOKING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL

BRITISH OPEN

I’m not getting a crystal-clear picture from the All-Knowing Sphere. Still, it’s enough in focus that I can make out the image of who will win The Open as it is commonly referred to in the golfing world.

The Magical Orb is foretelling a Major PGA victory for Rickie Fowler in the British Open. That would not only give the former Oklahoma State Cowboy his first Major. It would also remove the moniker no professional golfer wants and that’s the “Best player not to win a Major” label.

The closest the 30-year old California native came to winning that first elusive Major was in 2014.  Fowler finished runner-up in both Opens and third in the PGA.

So the Crystal Ball is saying they resident of Jupiter, Florida is finally going to get the monkey off his back. When the dust finally settles at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland,  look the tour pro since 2009 to hoist the  Claret Jug. With that, the Crystal Ball rests.