2017 NFL Draft Profile: Terrish Webb

Terrish Webb is one of the most experienced players that look to hear their name called in this year’s NFL Draft. The free safety from Pitt played in 45 games in his college career, including all 13 games the Panthers played in his freshman season.

Four years ago, many expected Webb to have success in college on the other side of the ball. Webb played both wide receiver and defensive back in high school, and was listed as a three-star wide receiver in the class of 2013 in 247 Sports’ recruiting database.

One of Webb’s coaches at Pitt suggested the switch to safety, and it’s paid off for Webb.

“It was kind of a switch up, being an offensive type of guy,” Webb said. “Once I got down to the basics I just ran with it.”

Terrish Webb

Photo: CardiacHill.com

While talking about Webb in high school, it’s impossible not to mention his team’s unprecedented success.

Webb was instrumental in helping Clairton High School win 63 straight games, and Webb’s season never ended with a loss. That’s right, Clairton High School won a state championship in all four of Webb’s seasons.

Webb also played in a state championship game with his basketball team in his senior year.

As an all-state athlete, it seems as though his high school career foreshadowed what was to come. All that winning didn’t end when Webb arrived on Pitt’s campus.

Webb and the Panthers handed national champion Clemson its only loss of the season. Pitt upset Clemson, 43-42, and Webb had nine tackles.

As Webb makes his next step, hoping to land on an NFL roster, he knows there’s still work to be done as he prepares for his Pro Day.

“Becoming a little stronger because I’m moving to the next level, so guys are bigger, faster, stronger,” Webb said. “Working on my technique and trying to take less steps as I’m breaking.”

Webb’s strongest suit is his ability to help a team in multiple ways. Webb was asked to do a lot at Pitt, and he answered the bell with vigor.

If an NFL scout walked through Webb’s door tomorrow, Webb is confident that he’d be able to sell himself.

“I would tell him that you’re getting a very smart football player,” Webb said. “I would be able to play special teams and I’m versatile as a defensive back. I can play pretty much anywhere as a defensive back.”

Webb may not be the Malik Hooker of the 2017 NFL Draft class, but he brings a winning charisma and the talent and smarts to contribute in many different facets.

Terrish Webb Scouting Report

Terrish Webb (Photo courtesy: twitter.com)

Webb’s size is adequate (5-foot-11-inches, 195 pounds) for the NFL level and shouldn’t hold him back whatsoever. NFL teams will love the fact that he was in on a lot of snaps for Pitt.

Webb diagnoses plays and route concepts very well. He also trusts his eyes. When he sees something he recognizes, he goes to make a play. Webb has good discipline and isn’t fooled by trick plays or play action passes.

The best trait for Webb is that he doesn’t give up any big plays on deep throws down the middle of his field or on running plays. He won’t let receivers behind him down the middle of the field. On running plays, he gets in good position and makes the play.

He isn’t the hardest hitter, but Webb is a sure tackler who can also break up passing plays by hitting the receivers as soon as they touch the football.

In order for Webb to be successful in the NFL, he will have to cover well one on one and provide good run support. He will likely need to be able to do well on special teams in order to get playing time at the NFL level.

 

You can listen to Tim Miller interview Terrish Webb in its entirety below.

 

Tim Miller contributed the story portion of this article. Joe DiTullio provided the scouting report. 

You can like The Game Haus on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Tim and Joe!

2017 NFL Draft Profile: Jordan Bowman

The College Gridiron Showcase shows off the top college football players from across the NCAA in a five-day camp. The camp is selective and prestigious, and gives under the radar prospects a chance to shine for over 100 professional scouts to see. Former California of Pennsylvania University star Jordan Bowman was one of the players invited to the showcase, and Bowman had a chance to talk with NFL scouts about his game.

The feedback he got was both positive and constructive.

“I need to work on my hip mobility,” Bowman said. “Some people think I have tight hips and I can’t flip them as fluently as I should be able to. I also got feedback that I’m a smart football player with pretty good instincts and ball skills.”

Bowman was an All-American for one of Division II’s finest football programs. Bowman piled multiple awards over his four years with the team, including multiple all-region and all-conference awards.

The strong safety is one of the best all-around players that you’ve probably never heard of. Bowman has size, speed, intangibles and a great personality, all of which can makeup a future NFL performer.

Jordan Bowman

Photo: Mon Valley Independent

The fact that Bowman comes from what could be called the Ohio State of Division II in terms of NFL production helps his cause. With several former Cal players in the NFL right now, Bowman thinks scouts need to give high consideration to players coming out of the program.

“I definitely think they should because we have six guys in the league right now,” Bowman said. “We were also very good this year and have a lot of big names in our class. I feel as though a lot of scouts are definitely gonna be on the lookout for us and Cal teams to come.”

Cal has bred Bowman into a solid football player, and the strong safety puts in plenty of work off the field to become the player he is.

“I take pride in my football IQ and my preparation,” Bowman said. “Watching film, hours of it each week, looking at QB tendencies, favorite route concepts, receiver giveaways and being all over the field.”

Bowman’s talent isn’t just in his head. Bowman scored a touchdown in all four seasons at Cal and totaled 170 career tackles.

“I bring consistency, I bring leadership, I bring all traits of a safety,” Bowman said. “I can tackle, I can run, I can cover, and I stay out of trouble.”

Bowman, although gifted, will see a huge talent disparity as he transitions from playing Division II college football to playing with the greatest football players on the planet in the NFL. Bowman is solid in the box, playing man and dropping back in coverage, but doing those things in the NFL is no easy task.

The NFL prospect understands how different the NFL is. Athletes that play in the league are physically gifted like no one else.

“I think the biggest thing is gonna be the size and speed,” Bowman said. “Playing against Julio Jones who is 6-4, 220 and runs a sub 4-40, those guys are freaks that you don’t normally see.”

Even with a bright future playing football, any athlete’s playing days are numbered. Luckily for Bowman, he’s smart in areas that aren’t just football.

Bowman majored in business administration at Cal. The major is broad and many aren’t sure what to do with a business degree.

Bowman isn’t one of those people. Just like Bowman stands out on the football field, he wants to stand out in business.

“I want to be an entrepreneur and create my own path,” Bowman said. “I don’t wanna just be a guy in a company, come to work 9-5 every day. I’d rather open my own shop or franchise.”

Jordan Bowman was one of the best players in one of the best programs in college football during his time at Cal. Bowman has the potential and tools to bring that success to the NFL.

His playing days are numbered, just like anyone else’s. However, luckily for Bowman, he has a plan, whether he’s on the field or off.

Jordan Bowman Scouting Report

His height and weight (6 feet, 208 pounds) are good enough for the NFL level and he has great football IQ, demonstrating his attention to detail in the film room. He is able to be positioned near the line of scrimmage like Troy Polamalu, or cover deep.

Jordan Bowman (Photo courtesy: nfldraftonline.com)

Once the ball is snapped, Bowman starts reading the quarterback’s eyes and diagnosing the play, both of which he does well. When the ball is thrown he jumps the route and makes plays. He is solid at both man to man and zone coverage. Bowman displays the ability to be in the right place at the right time, something that is key for safeties.

He is capable in run support and demonstrates his tackling ability. Bowman isn’t used as a blitzer often, but when he is, he takes down the ball carrier or quarterback often.

Some concerns with Bowman will be his speed and his ability to cover NFL-level talent.

Teams will love Bowman’s ability to play special teams and that is how he will be able to make an immediate impact on an NFL team. He will be fighting to make an NFL roster so excelling at special teams needs to be his competitive advantage over other players vying to make the team.

You can view Jordan Bowman’s highlights here.

You can listen to Tim Miller interview Jordan Bowman in its entirety below.

Tim Miller contributed the story portion of this article. Joe DiTullio provided the scouting report. 

You can like The Game Haus on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Tim and Joe!

2017 NFL Draft Profile: Aaron Terry

Football players are just dumb jocks, or so they say. However, that’s not the case for two-time All-American Aaron Terry.

Terry played for Division II powerhouse California University of Pennsylvania and garnered multiple impressive national and regional awards. All the while, Terry found his way onto the dean’s list multiple times and will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice in May.

If that’s not remarkable enough, Terry intends to pursue a master’s in business as he pursues an NFL career. Later on, Terry sees himself working for Homeland Security.

Terry was an electric punt returner and ball-hawking defensive back, and he expects to bring those traits with him to the NFL.

The 5-foot-11-inch standout can play anywhere in the defensive backfield, and his versatility gives him a shot at making an NFL roster.

“I’m able to play more than one position on the field,” Terry said. “I’m very good at special teams as well. You’re able to do more things with me.”

Aaron Terry

Photo: California University of Pennsylvania Athletics

His encounters at Cal are some that he values emphatically.

“My experience has just been one of a kind,” Terry said. “It’s definitely not something that I would trade in for any other school.”

“In high school, I never won a championship and then I get to Cal and I win a championship and I’m on the winning team. It was a great atmosphere. I love the team and I would never trade it in.”

Terry may want to thank his parents for his athletic ability. His mother was an all-state pitcher in high school and his father was a “very well-known” basketball player in Virginia.

While on the field, Terry amassed 13 interceptions and 175 total tackles. The three-time all-conference player also added one punt return for a touchdown in his career.

Terry averaged 13.2 yards per return as a punt returner and he credits his high football IQ to his success.

“The most important thing about punt return is being smart back there and not being scared,” Terry said. “I’m very smart and I understand what decisions to make and what not to make.”

Terry is working on every little thing to gain an edge. He is training in Pittsburgh while finishing his degree at Cal. Terry does weight training and combine drills and is never content with his talent level.

“You’re never as good as you want to be and I’m never satisfied,” Terry said. “I’m just making sure I perfect my craft. There’s always more room for improvement and I’m really a strong believer in that.”

Terry credits his eyes and instincts to his incredible play in zone coverage. Those smarts are helping him become a darkhorse candidate to become a great player at the next level.

Those same smarts will propel Terry to a successful career. Whether it be in football or criminal justice, Aaron Terry has the work ethic and intelligence to make a splash in whatever he does.

Aaron Terry Scouting Report

Terry has adequate size for an NFL defensive back at a touch under 6 feet and 200 pounds. He is usually in good position pre-snap, but sometimes gives a lot of cushion to receivers. That is something that can be fixed easily for the next level.

Aaron Terry

Aaron Terry (Photo courtesy: lockerroomupdate.com)

He is above average in man-to-man coverage, but is a great zone defender. The main quality that makes his zone coverage great is his ability to recognize where the receivers are and where they will be. He gets himself in the right position to make the play.

On broken plays, Terry shows good discipline by staying with his man or shutting down his zone. This gives the pass rushers more time to make a play.

As with many players at the Division II level, Terry will be questioned on whether he can cover NFL-level talent if asked to play man-to-man.

Like his teammate, Jordan Bowman, Terry offers the ability to play special teams and is a good punt returner. He has good hands and uses his excellent vision to find holes in the return game and breaks big plays. He has a career punt return average of 13.2 yards per return.

You can view Aaron Terry’s Highlights here.

You can listen to Tim Miller interview Aaron Terry in its entirety below.

 

Tim Miller contributed the story portion of this article. Joe DiTullio provided the scouting report. 

You can like The Game Haus on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Tim and Joe!

2017 NFL Draft Profile: Tyler Peerson

Tyler Peerson never missed a game in his time with California University of Pennsylvania. Tyler Peerson also started every single game with Cal, which is one of Division II football’s most accomplished programs.

That’s 44 games started, in 44 possible games. Tyler Peerson is durable. Tyler Peerson also was a first team All-American his senior season.

It’s safe to say Peerson is as consistent as they come. But playing a bunch of games played won’t impress NFL scouts. Scouts want to see talent. Luckily for Peerson has the talent.

“My hand placement is always on point,” Peerson said. “That’s something I’ve been able to acquire through wrestling in high school.”

Hand placement is one of the most important aspects of an offensive lineman’s repertoire. You’ve got to be able to move large men around and displace their movements.

“Not only the hand placement, but finishing blocks, blocking to the whistle,” Peerson said. “Just really opening up those holes for the backs or giving the quarterback the most time.”

Cal has sent multiple players to the NFL, which is already impressive for a Division II program. What’s more, C.J. Goodwin, who played in Super Bowl LI for the Atlanta Falcons, graduated from Cal.

Tyler Peerson (Photo courtesy: nfldraftdiamonds.com)

Peerson’s teammates, Jordan Bowman and Aaron Terry, are also in line to make an NFL squad.

It’s safe to say Peerson has a pedigree of talent and winning flowing through his veins after four years at Cal.

“Cal of PA has been great for me,” Peerson said. “This past season has been awesome because for the most part we were just blowing teams out which was a lot of fun.”

Other than Cal’s three-point win over IUP, the closest regular season game was a 35-14 beatdown of Gannon (PA). Cal scored 48 points or more in seven of its ten regular season games, thanks in no small part to Peerson.

The team averaged 49.6 points per game, good for first in the entire NCAA Division II.

Although there weren’t too many close calls in Peerson’s career, he relished the opportunity to play in tight games.

“The ones I always enjoy are the ones that are nail biters and they just come down to the wire,” Peerson said. “Those are the ones I enjoy the most, win or lose.”

As Peerson trains for his Pro Day, he’s working to becoming a more well-rounded, versatile player. He said he wants to be able to serve a team anywhere on the line and improve any team he’s on.

With solid size and mobility, Peerson has a great shot to help serve an NFL team. His durability is unmatched, and he’s been a one-of-a-kind player during his time at Cal.

Tyler Peerson Scouting Report

Peerson has good size for a guard at 6’4″ and 305 pounds. He has the versatility to play a lot of positions on the offensive line which will be his main selling point to NFL teams.

Run blocking is what Peerson is best at. He can block his man one on one and get downfield. After blocking his man he can get to the second level to pick up more blocks. He uses his mobility to pull effectively and picks up his block on the outside. Peerson is also good at getting downfield to block on screens.

His pass blocking isn’t as good as his run blocking, but he recognizes blitzes and picks them up. He has the necessary mobility to slide over and block pass rushers who are about to sack the quarterback.

Scouts will need to see that he can block players that have elite strength and speed, but Peerson has the fundamentals down.

You can view Tyler Peerson’s Highlights here.

You can listen to Tim Miller interview Tyler Peerson in its entirety below.

Tim Miller contributed the story portion of this article. Joe DiTullio provided the scouting report. 

You can like The Game Haus on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Tim and Joe!

What SF5, Season 2 Taught us About Capcom

Seasons in competitive gaming are becoming more and more commonplace, from games like League of Legends to Killer Instinct it would seem that companies are more and more dedicated to a ‘Season’ update pattern. Luckily for us gamers, Season allow us to easily see the direction that a game is going and analyze the development philosophy of the team behind it, for example:

 

Capcom has taken a page from Riot Games’ Book

 

This may as well be gone now.

This may as well be gone now.

You know, the League of Legends guys? This is going to upset someone, but the proof is there. Capcom has looked to nerf anything that is objectively ‘unfun’ to be losing against or to play against. For example, the grey health regeneration change is another hit to the defensive playstyle in general (Something that got kneecapped by the release of SF5 for whatever reason), further promoting an aggressive playstyle, lessening the tactical sandbox that fighting games tend to be for the sake of people not having to deal with turtl-y players or rewarding them for playing their style well. But at least it’s more fun, right?

 

Well, that depends on who you are, but Capcom doesn’t really care for that, they have pushed SF5 as the premier fighting game E-Sport, and that means not only do they seek players. but they seek viewers as well. You know what that means, or maybe you don’t, good thing I’m here, read on.

 

There’s no place in SF5 for anything that isn’t fun or easy to watch and understand.

If you played USF4, you know what I’m talking about. The constant back and forth movements of the characters and careful fireballs, the stare downs between a turtle style Ryu and Guile (Bet you forgot Guile used to be defensive). None of that has any place in this game, and I know someone is going to defend the game by saying there have been some arbitrarily small number of times where actual clear footsies have been played (You know, USF4 style), but those small numbers are in no way proportional to the almost year of time the game has existed. Why is it like this? Because new viewers can’t, or won’t care to watch the invisible high level gameplay and look into understanding what they’re seeing. Forcing people to do research isn’t how you retain casual players, or viewers, and Capcom knows it.

 

Capcom enjoys the Hollywood take on capitalizing on nostalgia

 

dlc

You’ve seen these characters before? I’ve seen these characters before.

 

“Hey guys, you want some balancing where we strengthen the characters strengths, and increase the prominence of their weaknesses in the event that we made them too strong?”

 

“Yes, papa Capcom! While we’re at it, can you bring back those beautifully unique characters like Makoto and Yang?”

 

“Oh you mean a powerful rushdown shoto like Akuma?”

 

“Well, no we already ha–”

 

“TAKE AKUMA AND PAY US!”

 

 

Do you agree with what I’ve said here? Do you think that these are good things? Do you feel like these will be the death of SF5? Do you just think I’m full of it and am a USF4 fanboy crying about not being able to adjust to the game? You can let me know these things and more on twitter @TirasCarr! Thanks for reading!

A Happy Game Haus Thankgiving

We decided a couple of weeks ago that we wanted to do a Thanksgiving piece and give our readers a chance to get to know us a little better! Below are some of the staff members of TGH telling you all what they are thankful for this holiday season. From Our Haus to Yours, have a very happy Game Haus Thanksgiving!

Jared MacAdam- Head of Esports: Well, I’ll go first, being the only Canadian and my Thanksgiving has passed quite some time ago. I’m thankful for the way this site has grown since its inception, how many great writers we’ve had and all the awesome content we’ve produced. I’m also immensely thankful for the way esports has matured in the past year; we’re seeing leaps and strides in key areas like players well being and stability. It’s an exciting thing to experience and to have a little part in. I’m also thankful for all the weirdos in the Front Office who lovingly mock my Canadianisms.

Josh Burris – Editor: I am thankful for sports. I am a proud Cleveland fan and with the exception of the Browns, good things are happening with our teams. I’m thankful I got to see a Cleveland team win a title. I am also thankful for my family and friendships I have at home, school, and from this site.

Ryan Moran – CFO: I am thankful for family, friends, and football. I am also thankful to be working for TGH and to belong to such an exciting community of sports and esports. I am also thankful of the unifying power of sports and their ability to bring anybody together win or lose.

Tim Miller – Vice President: Of course, when talking about being thankful, I have to be thankful for the opportunity to help lead The Game Haus. I’m also thankful to root for the mighty Ohio State Buckeye football team, and that Marvin Lewis should get fired after this year. I’m also thankful for a loving family and loving girlfriend. Finally, I’m thankful to live in a great country with freedoms like no other (no matter how you feel currently), and to go to a solid, christian university in Cedarville University.

Robert Hanes- President: While these last 365 days have been some of the most challenging times in my life, I can say that I have so many things to be grateful for. To start, everyone here at The Game Haus. These people are incredible, as you can read in their paragraphs of what they are thankful for. They have all gone through many things and have worked their butts off while working here. So thank you to all of the Front Office Members, Writers, Podcasters, and League Team Members! I am also very thankful for my friends. They have helped me through some tough times throughout the last year and I do not know where I would be without them. The same can be said for my Father, Mother and Sister. They have been my rocks as I have struggled many times this year. Lastly I am thankful to God and his son, while it sounds cheesy I know they have been with me every step of the way. From Our Haus to Yours, thank you and have a wonderful holiday season!

Terrance Singleton- Social Media Director: I am thankful for the life God has given me. Every time the holiday season comes around I think about how easily I couldn’t be here. My grandfather died on November 19, 2010 right before Thanksgiving. And I was in a pretty bad car accident on December 27, 2012 that broke my neck and cut my scalp open. So every time the holiday season rolls around I always think about how precious life, family, friends, and faith are important in my life and everyone’s life. So on this Thanksgiving when you are watching NFL football games and eating food until you can’t move, tell your loved ones how much you love them because tomorrow is not promised.

Dylan Streibig- NFL Writer: Whether we realize it or not, we all have a lot to be thankful for.  I am no exception this Thanksgiving or any other year. I am thankful to have a roof over my head and a family that loves me. I am grateful for the fantastic sporting events that go on all around the world. They provide me a momentary escape from my life with a physical disability. I am also thankful for my dog and the fact that I am now a published sports writer thanks to The Game Haus. Most of all, I am thankful for the loyalty of my close friends who do not give up on me, even when I give up on myself.

Matthew Hagan- Columnist: I’m thankful for the opportunity The Game Haus has presented me with. Writing about my favorite sport, football, and offering me a column has been one of the best things in my life. I am thankful to have parents, family and friends support while trying to get a degree in college. My mom has been the biggest reason I have made it this far and I am so thankful that I get to fly back to Vegas to spend Thanksgiving with her. I am also thankful I got to see the Cubs win a World Series and attend the victory parade in Chicago. It was one of the most memorable moments of my life. I am thankful for all the opportunities I have had in this amazing country. I am proud to be an American and this Thanksgiving is going to be one of the best ever. Thank you to everyone who reads my articles, weather you agree or disagree with them. I want to wish anyone who reads this, and anyone who may not, a safe, fun and amazing Thanksgiving.

Alex Keller- Recruitment and Retention: What am I thankful for? Where can I even begin… I guess it would have to be with my family and friends. I wouldn’t be in the position I am today if not for their love and support. But it’s so much more than that… the opportunity to even attend an institution like Georgia Tech, let alone graduate from it is an experience I’m incredibly thankful for. And of course, I have to thank everyone who’s been a part of making my experience with TGH so awesome. So, from our haus to yours, have a Happy Game Haus Thanksgiving everybody.

Hero Mastery: Understanding Reaper

You are Reaper, and you just got your ult. You feel your adrenaline pumping, your eyes darting across the map, the enemy tracer is occupied, Reinhardt is blocking your team, and the enemy Ana has proven that she can’t land a sleep dart to save the life of her firstborn. You teleport up to a higher point, leaving your team to defend the point on their own momentarily, and you laugh to yourself, the enemy team has no idea what’s coming. You wait for the enemy Mei to walk past the point at which you’re standing and then you drop down. You mash your ultimate button with all of the drama and energy of Yu-Gi-Oh drawing a card, or Goku turning Super Saiyan.

“Die, die, die!”

 

diediedie

You say it with him as Reaper becomes a Beyblade of whirling destruction and ruined KDA’s. Except no one’s KDA gets ruined. Mei becomes a block of ice, Zenyatta ults and you immediately get filled with bullet, arrows and whatever the hell it is Zarya shoots at you. You explode and seriously consider leaving the game. How did your team accomplish NOTHING with your sacrifice? How did it not work? Your PoTG hopes just went out the window and you got nothing for it. Your team loses the ensuing five-on-six and you’re tilting off the face of the planet, your only saving grace being that your teammates are too unobservant to realize what the turning point was that allowed them to push onto the point.

So where were the mistakes made? It stemmed from not understanding the basic rules of the game. The characters in Overwatch are balanced to have meaningful weaknesses and Reaper has his own. Short range and relatively few defensive abilities (Spectre Form is a lackluster one at best) are Reaper’s. The best way to counter these weaknesses is to be with a team, being the follow up makes the burden on the Reaper far less painful. It’s important to not believe that you must make your own plays by yourself. Let your engage…Well, engage.

An equally important idea is to remember to look for minor flanks and, if you’re confident in your abilities, to counter a flanker. If you haven’t got your ultimate, then looking for a setup for it isn’t necessary. Try to find the enemy Genji or Tracer, I promise they’ll be looking to get behind your team. Make them regret it. You’re strong in close quarters, and other flankers tend to be close range combatants, and even if you don’t kill them, leaving a stalemate will deny them the ability to take down your team. However, if you do manage to take them out, it becomes a 5v6 and that’s something to look forward to. If no one is trying to flank your team, then chances are you can find one of your own, kill the enemy Mercy in the confusion, buckshotting her from behind before making your exit, again, your team is up a person.

 

reaperflank

Flanking is everything here.

The most important part of the character is to realize that your job isn’t really to wipe the enemy team on your own. You want to look for the opportunity to create a player advantage for your team in the safest way possible for you. Aim to kill one, and leave to begin with. Then move on to realizing opportunities for multikills. If you can get a multikill you’ve done your job and then some. You want to use your mobility to pick off and assassinate people who are out of position, so that your team can use their abilities to take over the fight.

 

What do you think? Let me know if this helped you, or if you just think I suck in the comments below or @TirasCarr on twitter!

How Rob Manfred Can Build on the Game 7 Hype

Game 7 of the World Series between the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians was the most viewed game in the past twenty-five years. The storyline was too good to be true for Rob Manfred, the commissioner of the MLB. The big market Cubs and the beloved Indians were facing the longest World Series droughts in the MLB. Either way, one team was going to break their curse. It was the series that everybody was talking about as the series was unorthodox, but still emotionally gripping. In the end, it was the Cubs that survived victorious.

The hype surrounding the game had even the most casual of sports fans watching. Baseball is a sport often seen as stagnating with the young audience. One of Rob Manfred’s biggest issues is how to help grow a sport often seen as stale and slow. Often referred to as America’s pastime, the game truly does not feel like it has done everything it can to keep up with modern times to help reach an audience that will need to be captivated in order for baseball to flourish over the next couple of decades. This article will provide just a couple things that could be done to help modernize the game.

First off, it is hard for millennials to watch their favorite team play without having to go to a bar. The MLB has been making strides to make the games more accessible for cord-cutters, but truthfully, their efforts have not been enough. MLB.TV was a good first step to providing the entertainment, as $85 to have the ability to watch all or your team’s 162 games is a bargain. Local blackouts, however, hinder the fans who are in their team’s regional TV coverage. For example, if a fan of Cincinnati, Cleveland, or Pittsburgh lives in Columbus, Ohio, they would not be able to watch their team play on MLB.TV due to these blackout rules unless they had a cable subscription (defeating the purpose of buying MLB.TV).

 

 

mlb_blackout_areas

Above is the blackout map for each state. Poor Iowans have up to six teams in their blackout zone, hurting cord cutters in the state. Photo courtesy of wikimedia.

Now, the reason why these blackout rules exist is because cable companies know the only chance to survive the cord cutting trend is to save their sports channels. Of course, their are ways to circumvent the blackout rules through shady means, but truthfully, the casual viewer does not want to go to that length just to watch their local team.  Team owners, Manfred, and cable companies need to come to some agreement to avoid these blackouts. Sadly, this may never be the case, as baseball owners make a ton of money off all these regional sports channel agreements . Oftentimes, these agreements make up a significant portion of the money used to fund the roster of many small market teams. If Manfred is serious about making baseball more appealing to the millennials, he needs to find a way to make baseball more accessible to the fans. He also needs to find a way for an individual to stream their local team.

The second step revolves around a debate that has been surrounding baseball for years now. On one side of the aisle is the viewpoint of baseball as a gentleman’s game, where celebrations are mild and respect is shown by a player to the opposing team. More recently, however, has been a slowly growing movement of players that are not afraid to step out of that zone and celebrate a big hit. Jose Bautista may have received the most venom for his 2015 ALCS Game 6 bat flip, but it is moments like that that resonate with the young fans. Obviously there should be limits to the celebration. I’m not talking about letting a man break dance on home plate after hitting a monster home run, but let the hitter slowly walk out of the box as he hits his moonshot. Maybe, just maybe, let the hitter flip his bat back to his dugout in excitement without being afraid of getting belted by a fastball his next time up to bat.

MLB: Spring Training-Oakland Athletics at Los Angeles Dodgers

Jose Bautista is not the only player with a legitimate bat flip. Yasiel Puig, often mired in controversy, has been flipping bats after home runs ever since he started in the majors. Photo courtesy of cbssports.com

It does not stop with the hitters. Pitchers have their fair share of celebrating already. Fist bumps are very common among relievers and closers who pitch out of a jam. The issue is that pitchers normally go unpunished for celebrating, unlike the hitters who may have to go up later in the game and get hit on purpose for celebrating a little too much. Baseball should be promoting these moments of personality, not letting hitters get crushed by both opposing pitchers and media pundits that are stuck in the “old ways” of baseball. Baseball needs personality out on the field, not robots.

Last, but not least, surrounds the World Baseball Classic. The hype machine needs to start today on getting America prepared for it. A rather new tradition, the WBC is the World Cup of Baseball, which is played every four years. Players should be honored to represent their teams, especially as the sport is strong in not just America, but Asia and the Caribbean as well. Most importantly, however, is that baseball needs the best Americans representing the United States. Manfred then needs to get the WBC accessible to all kinds of fans and not try to make people watch the games on FS1 or other weird channels very few people actually utilize.

The last WBC Team USA squad in 2013 definitely had some recognizable names, featuring a young Giancarlo Stanton, prime Ryan Braun and Adam Jones, and Captain America himself, David Wright. Frankly, the rest of the roster was full of players adored in their personal market and team fandom, but often unrecognized on the bigger stages. Think of an infield of Buster Posey, Paul Goldschmidt, Jose Altuve, Manny Machado, and Kris Bryant. Now couple that infield with an outfield of Giancarlo Stanton, Mike Trout, and Bryce Harper. Not only does that give you one of the best teams truly ever assembled in baseball (better than most fan voted all-star teams even), but also gives plenty of young personalities from many different markets all across the US that can get each area to rally around the team.

The downside of the WBC has always been the fear of overuse on the players before the season starts. An understandable fear, and one faced by many sports who have the same international competition. Injuries are avoided as much as possible, but they are also natural and going to occur regardless of players participating in this tournament, or in just regular spring training. Have MLB promote this as truly a world tournament and get people interested, even if it is 1/10th as popular as the FIFA World Cup, and that momentum could carry over into the regular season.

In the end, baseball is such a different sport for viewers than many of the other popular sports. Football, Hockey, and Basketball are all fast paced and timed. Baseball is both untimed and slower moving, with each pitch taking as long as a football play. Josh Burris outlined here why baseball is a fun sport to watch, as many casual fans experienced this World Series. Making local teams more accessible for cord-cutters in the team’s region would be a valuable first step to let younger fans enjoy the sport. Letting the players exhibit more flair and style into their play can make the game more fun and exciting for a group of fans that spend their time watching vines and memes on the internet daily. Finally, sell the crap out of the World Baseball Classic to not only expose the brand on an international market, but also help casual and new American fans meet the biggest American players on a competitive squad. Rob Manfred has a lot on his plate for the future. Only time will tell how baseball’s popularity will transition from here.

 

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