MLB Antiquating Themselves Out of Public’s Minds by dustinlytle
November 4, 2010, 8:00 am
Filed under: Dustin Lytle

by Dustin Lytle

Major League Baseball is fading into obscurity faster than Petey Pablo. Sunday’s Giants vs. Rangers World Series game drew a lower rating than the Sunday Night Football game between the Steelers and Saints. In other words, one regular season game less than half way through the year drew more fans watching than baseball’s shining moment. Why is this?

The days of baseball being the United States of America’s national sport are over. A large percentage of players are not from the United States. Put simply, these countries’ children (especially the Dominican Republic) group with two main sports: Soccer and Baseball. Children in the United States have many more options due to organized leagues, facilities, television exposure and wealth. Children in the United States today can play Soccer, Baseball, Golf, Football, Hockey, Tennis, Track and Field, Gymnastics or any number of other sports and activities. The high-action sports of football and basketball are much more appealing to this younger generation. Not many people want to stand around and play a slow, drawn-out game of baseball anymore.  No one wants to watch these games either. This has been the case for quite a few years as technology has become more advanced.

With instant internet access, answers are only a click away. The same goes for being able to watch any sport or show any time you want. We are becoming more impatient, coming to expect this instant gratification of finding information quickly or being able to watch whatever we want. Baseball is the antonym of fast-paced, rather old-fashioned, slow and antiquated.

The NFL has taken technology and run with it. They quickly embraced Instant Replay, a big win for the sport. NFL broadcasts include the infamous yellow first-down line that is now engrained into our minds when we watch football, even in the stands. Fantasy football has driven a large growth in popularity as more people now are excited about a matchup like the Bengals vs. Cardinals when 10 years ago, many of those same people would not watch it if it were the only show on television at the time. These are a small sample of the technological advancements that the NFL has embraced.

Combine the ever-growing popularity of the NFL, the slow game play of baseball and the falling out of baseball among youth and you’ve got a recipe for disaster in baseball. Sure, baseball will reign supreme in the dog days of summer when the only other thing on is the WNBA, but when Football and Basketball are in season, baseball is irrelevant. In order to succeed in today’s modern, technology-based world, MLB needs to take a page out of the NFL’s playbook and run with the technological innovation or else be left in the dust.



Why Do Professional Athletes Get Arrested So Often? by dustinlytle
September 22, 2010, 9:16 pm
Filed under: Dustin Lytle, NFL, Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

By Dustin Lytle

Is it really that difficult to stay out of trouble with the law?

Professional Athletes making millions of dollars a year should not be getting DUI’s. With the amount of resources available to themincluding former police officers, team officials and friends they always have a ride. The one phrase I always hear people saying is “They could always take a cab”. That is bullshit. Professional athletes, especially big name players cannot and will not take taxis. The reason that many of these players get DUI’s is because they are driving nice cars, are young and want to flaunt it. They also feel invincible. How else can you explain four NFL players driving around New York City at 5 in the morning drunk on a Monday.

It is evident that these players need mentors. By that, I am not inferring that they have not received mentoring or a father-like presence. Rather, I mean that they need to hear it from former stars themselves, Someone like Jerry Rice, Emmitt Smith, Barry Sanders, Darrell Green, etc. People who “had it all” and didn’t go around getting DUI’s, hitting their girlfriends and/or smoking pot. This will help some players get a perspective on being a young star and how to behave.

The common person doesn’t get arrested for Domestic Violence, Drugs and DUI’s, why do professional athletes?

As much as many would like, it is really not fair to compare these players to the common citizen and saying “It’s not difficult for me to refrain from these things”. Yeah, and you are also not 25 years old making 6 million dollars a year. You haven’t had everything you wanted since you were 16 years old. You haven’t had girls flocking to you for your money, kids and grown men alike chasing you around asking you to sign a piece of paper, and hanging out with a group of 53 other men around the same age who have the same ego. Players are bound to get into bad situations. People stand to make too much money off their mere presence for them not to. It is what they learn from these situations and how they react to them that really matters. Most players tend to make sensible choices, while others seem to flock to wrong decisions.

So why do professional athletes, especially NFL players get arrested so frequently?

Every day, millions of Americans go about their day obeying the law, excluding speed limits. It seems that every day a professional athlete gets arrested. The rate of player incident seems so much higher than the general public. However, according to a report from April 2009 by the San Diego Union Tribune, NFL players are arrested less frequently than the average citizen. One in 47 players were arrested from 2000-spring 2009. Common citizens were arrested at a rate of one arrest per 21 people per year in that same time-span. Not only does this make you stand back and wonder how the hell people get arrested that much, but the fact that NFL players really are behaving better than the common citizen is kind of mind-boggling. It is especially surprising when you account for the fame, fortune and all the temptations that come with being an NFL player.

So what is there to learn from this?

Athletes are held to higher standards than common citizens. This is common knowledge. These are young men who have been given a lot of money and even more choices. The NFL needs to improve its mentor program as it is evident the current system is not working. However, there will always be players who break the law and will not listen when mentored. In the same fashion, there will always be common citizens who break laws repeatedly and won’t learn a lesson. For every Braylon Edwards, there are 200,000 other people being arrested for the same thing around the same time. I am not making excuses, but rather suggesting we take into perspective what we hear as “news” from ESPN and other sports outlets.



DO’S AND DONT’S OF FANTASY FOOTBALL SEASON (PART TWO) by dustinlytle

By: Dustin Lytle

A couple weeks ago, I wrote an article entitled “DO’S AND DONT’S OF FANTASY FOOTBALL SEASON (PART ONE)” In which I wentinto five “do’s” of fantasy football. This is to serve as an additional reference to anyone who is fairly new to the game or looking for new ideas. My article this week is a list of “don’ts” in fantasy football. The goal of this article is to keep you from making mistakes that occur in fantasy football that most people make on a consistent basis. These are based on my experiences playing fantasy football over the years and I believe will help players who are looking for some more insight. I have picked five separate topics than those mentioned in the previous article.

Five Don’ts for Fantasy Football:

  • Don’t draft more players at one position than you need. I see this mistake happen every year. It seems logical in theory, but rarely pans out when all is said and done. The “brilliant” strategy of drafting four running backs in the first five rounds is usually a perilous one. Rarely is someone in your same league going to offer you a reasonable deal for one of these running backs. The only way it happens is if A) You have a schmuck in your league that doesn’t know any better, or B) Someone in your league has both of their starters go down and doesn’t find waiver-wire pickups to supplement until the injured players return. The first scenario is the more likely one as there always seem to be waiver-wire pickups each week, especially at running back. Either way, it is not worth the risk, when you will most likely get nothing significant in return.
  • Don’t start a player because of his name. If Reggie Wayne is going against someone like Revis (Assuming he plays), don’t start him unless you have to. It’s not worth the risk of getting 5 points, when your next best guy is a guaranteed 12-15 point play. It sounds ludicrous but I see it almost every week.
  • Don’t listen to every fantasy football “analyst”, including your friends. The numbers aren’t that hard to find and the match-ups are fairly easy to see. The difference in many cases between winning and losing is going with what YOU believe is right. If you think that starting Beanie Wells over AP is going to win you the game because Beanie is going against the Lions and AP is going against the Steelers, go for it.
  • Don’t draft a Defense unless a great one is available to you in the last round. It sounds foolish, but unless your league makes you draft a player at each starting position, it does not make sense to draft a defense, when all but a very select few defenses (3-4 a year tops) positively differ from the rest points-wise at the end of the year. In other words, drafting the Colts defense in the last round when you could have drafted someone who will make an impact. Three weeks into the season, that team you would have drafted will probably be on the waiver-wire. Just as reinforcement to this point, these players were drafted in the last round of my fantasy football league’s draft last year: Ricky Williams (2nd pick in the round), Jamaal Charles (6th pick in the round) and Pierre Garcon (last pick of the draft). Those players finished the season as fantasy starters; Williams and Charles as key players on fantasy teams. I’m just sayin.
  • Don’t forget to check the injury status before kickoff. By before kickoff, I mean like 12:55PM before a 1PM game. Some teams don’t release the information until right before kickoff and others don’t release it until the player steps on to the field to play. This could very well mean the difference between a W and an L if you don’t play this smart. If someone is questionable, I won’t play them. If they are probable and there has been no talk of him missing the game, I play them. Of course there are almost-always some fluke performances by injured players or bogus injuries listed, but it is better to be safe than sorry when deciding whether to start a player who may not play.

I hope these two articles have helped some of you out, and I look forward to writing more fantasy football articles as the season comes along.



Do’s and Dont’s of Fantasy Football Season (Part One) by dustinlytle
August 10, 2010, 9:52 pm
Filed under: Dustin Lytle, NFL | Tags: , , , , ,

By Dustin Lytle

It’s about that time. In less than 4 ½ weeks, the 2010 NFL Regular Season kicks off. As important as that is, the real fun begins in the coming weeks as Fantasy Football Season kicks off with annual drafts. Fantasy football has gone from a dungeons and dragons-type statistical game to one that is enjoyed by many football fans and even garners its own television show during the season, including an episode before the 1 o clock games.

With the explosion of the “activity” in recent years, I am going to share some of my advice from playing the past number of years for those who may be looking for some ideas. This is the first in a two-part article.

Five Do’s for Fantasy Football:

  1. Do try to get your league to do a live draft. It is one of the funniest things to see ten plus people gathering around a white board and stressing out like they are in a real NFL “war room”. It is great to be able to pick on a friend who picks someone who is out for the season.  BW’s and Hooters offer great accommodations and food. At Hooters, I know they give you the board, stickers with players’ names, draft guides, rankings and a ridiculous amount of coupons for free food.  I am not sure the specifics BW’s offers, but I am sure it is not too far off.
  2. Do try to play in a PPR league. If you haven’t played in a PPR league, try it out. It adds a different twist to a basic fantasy football league. Ray Rice is a top 5 player in a PPR league, as is a healthy Wes Welker. This also adds a dramatic effect to watching football on Sundays. The closing seconds of a 34-7 game may mean the difference in making the playoffs based on one seemingly meaningless reception. It requires a lot more strategy on game day and thinking when starting players.
  3. Do draft a good quarterback. Seriously. If you are in a league with one starting quarterback, the points difference between a star quarterback and a “ehh” quarterback is noticeable. Brees, Manning, Schaub and Brady should provide consistent numbers throughout the season. Matthew Stafford, Joe Flacco, and Jay Cutler may give you a game with 20 points and the next week put up 7. Consistency is key in quarterbacks. This logic is especially true if you are in a league where you start two quarterbacks.  If you have two consistent quarterbacks, you are in contention for a win each week, even if the other team’s third wide receiver goes off for 15 catches for 189 yards and two touchdowns (Miles Austin-like numbers from last year). That leads me to my next “Do”.
  4. Do research players during the season. I picked up Mike Sims-Walker and Miles Austin and it re-enforced my strugglingreceiving core.  When you see a player go down on Sunday, see who the backups are. If it is chiefs running back for example, try and pick the guy up. This also goes for wide receivers. Also, analyze your opponent’s roster for the upcoming week. Are they weak at running back? Pick up the best two “sleeper” running backs available to he or she has to play someone they do not want to.
  5. Do try and get together with friends and/or people in your league on Sundays to watch the games. This goes along with the first point about being able to laugh at friend’s fantasy woes and gloat in your successes. Of course, the opposite could happen any given weekend, but regardless it provides some great laughs. Not much makes non-fantasy football players laugh more than going to someone’s house on a Sunday afternoon and seeing eight people watching a Rams-Cardinals game with laptops and blackberries out.


Five Suggestions – Brickyard 400 by dustinlytle

By Dustin Lytle

There was a noticeable amount of seats empty for the Brickyard 400 this past Sunday.  It is not an anomaly in NASCAR these days to have a lot of empty seats, but for one of the most popular race tracks in the world to not sell tickets, should raise some big flags. ESPN played the Brickyard 400 as the second biggest race of the season. It seems like the fans don’t care to show up to the second biggest race of the year at the most famous track. Outside of the southern states, Indiana is the most race-crazy. If racing doesn’t sell here, it is not going to sell anywhere.

So what is the problem? Why can’t they fill the seats at the Brickyard 400 like they did in the 1990’s? The fall-back answer is “the economy”. I really don’t believe this keeps the masses of people from coming to races.

Here are five suggestions to improve NASCAR’s second-biggest race in the coming years.

  1. Build tradition. The reason so many people go to the Indy 500 is that it is unique and steeped in tradition. Many attendees’fathers, grandfathers, aunts, uncles, moms, whoever have attended the race for as long as they can remember. I know this is the case in my family, as almost every member of the family goes to the race every year. This of course comes as the years go on, but small things can go a long way. One example would be to institute the snake pit in turn three for the Brickyard. I saw people sitting in the infield during the race, but realistically it was nowhere near the crowd for the 500. They should promote all sorts of chaotic events in that area and draw the local crowd (at least an hour and a half radius from Indy). This, of course, will be moot if they don’t do the following.
  2. Move the race to Saturday night, maybe even Labor Day Weekend. I know there has been plenty of talk over the past day about switching the race, and it makes an incredible amount of sense. It seems ignorant to not race on Saturday night. Not many people want to go to the track on a Sunday afternoon, sit in the sun and drink all day, then wake up and drag ass at work the next morning. Let’s be honest, this is probably one of the biggest reasons people don’t attend the race. Labor Day Weekend makes sense because most people have Monday off (like the 500) and the current race slotted for that weekend, Atlanta is rumored to be potentially losing a race in the coming years. It would allow for more “pilgrims” to come to the race from areas not within an hour or hour and a half.
  3. General admission ticket prices for the infield need to be dropped. The reason many people go to the 500 is because it is inexpensive to sit on the hills in the infield. It is also the reason many people under 30 do not go to the race. Who wants to pay $40 to party in the infield? Let’s be real, IMS.
  4. The cars are too damn slow.  We are spoiled by a 215+ MPH race in May every year. Seeing cars going by noticeably slower is not going to win anyone over. Right now, the cars are making Milka Duno seem like a fast driver. At least get the cars to 200. I’m no mechanic, but there is no reason that those cars can’t go faster than 180. Speed up the cars and more people will show up.
  5. Black the race out locally. It seems silly and it pisses a lot of people off, but realistically, it is a great move to entice people to go to the race. I know ESPN has the capabilities to do that (they seem to black out some Cubs-Cardinals games even though we are three plus hours from each ballpark).

Aside from the specific Brickyard 400 issues, NASCAR has its own set of problems with the series including making way too many rules (similar to IndyCar) and not letting the boys race any more, despite their new stance of “let the boys run” it’s hogwash. You can’t block, you can’t bump, and you can’t have rivals. It’s a watered down version of the NASCAR series of the past. Dale Sr. and Junior Johnson never raced like this. It is surely not the type of racing that made the series skyrocket in popularity. This argument is for another time, but some de-sensitizing of NASCAR would go a long ways toward helping Brickyard 400 attendance.

I hope to see the race grow in popularity over the coming years, as it really is fun to watch the cars bumping and drafting all over the track. With some minor tweaks, including a date change and lower infield admission prices, the Brickyard 400 will be a staple on the NASCAR Cup Series.



NL Central – Land of the Reds and Cardinals For Years to Come? by dustinlytle

By Dustin Lytle

The National League Central division is a two team race this year. The Cardinals are currently leading the division, but the Reds are right behind them. The two teams have been jockeying back and forth for most of the season, and likely will be until the end of the year.

The Reds are also leading the Wild Card race. It is still early in the season, but one thing that is strikingly evident is that the Reds are young and talented. They have an amazing infield and young stars that will be around for years to come. They are a storied franchise in a great city and have a chance to put up many division titles in the next ten years if everything goes well. What about the future of the other franchises?

The Cardinals will be a contender in the division as long as Pujols, Holliday, Molina and Wainwright are on the team, which will be for the forseeable future as they are just 30, 30, 28 and 28 years of age respectively. So where does that leave the Cubs, Astros, Brewers and Pirates?

The Cubs have a group of highly-paid under-achieving players and a fan base that is desperate for a playoff run.  They have a good deal of money to spend but can’t seem to buy the pieces necessary to win consistently and more importantly, overcome the Cardinals in the division.

The Astros show no signs of life as of now. They had their run to the World Series a few years ago and have fallen off the map since.  Their stars are old and it will be a few years before they can recover from that. Their current AAA team is miserable as well. For the time being, Houston is stuck in neutral at the back of the pack.

The Brewers are an interesting team in that they have a lot of young players who are good, but not enough of them to become contenders consistently. With limited spending money, they have to develop their farm system. Their AAA team is playing well. I think they will be more of a contender in years to come.

The Pirates are everyone’s loveable loser. No matter how good the players coming out of Indianapolis are, they are pitiful.  As soon as they get good talent, they trade them before they have to pay them big money. I understand they are a small market team, but the management and ownership need to own up and start paying these players. The list of all-star and future all-star players they have let go or traded is mind-boggling.

At least 6 or 7 Indianapolis Indians at the start of the season are in Pittsburgh currently. That should tell you all you need to know. They are essentially a young really good triple A team playing in the majors.  I don’t see the ownership owning up and paying the players any time soon, so expect Pittsburgh to be a major league farm system for the Yankees, Red Sox and others for many years to come. At least the players in Indianapolis know if they play for the Pirates, they won’t have to be there long. I guess that’s consolation.

In conclusion, this division is the Reds and Cardinals to lose in the coming years with the Brewers and Cubs in contention occasionally. If the Cubs decide not to overpay mediocre players like they have for years when their current contracts expire, they will be in contention every year. They have the fan base, good AAA team, and monetary means necessary to build a consistent winning franchise. They just need to stop overpaying players and get some starting pitching.

The Pirates and Astros will not win the division for the forseeable future and the Brewers have the chance to be good if they can get some more pieces around their core of young guys.  The Reds will be good for many years if there are not any unforeseen injury plagues or degeneration of players.  The Cardinals have a few years of glory left, but with their stars aging, they will decline a bit once they are in their late thirties (8-10 years). Their young players and AAA players have shown signs of brilliance in the past few weeks after given the opportunity to play due to injuries.  If these players play like they have consistently, this team could be good for a long time.  Of course Albert is the key to this team and it will highly unlikely they find a replacement for him when he retires.

It is the Cardinals and Reds’ division to have for the next few years, and that doesn’t bode well for Cubs fans. Who knows though, maybe they will find the right pieces to make it work in Chicago and contend. In baseball, it is never wise to count out a team with a lot of money to spend and great media exposure. One thing for sure is that there will be stiff competition every year.



Football Season Just Around the Corner by dustinlytle

By Dustin Lytle

As the doldrums of summer sports continues its way through July, we are reminded how much more exciting the fall and winter are for sports.  We are about a month away from the start of football season. The NFL preseason and Indiana high school football scrimmages start the week of August 9-15 with the annual Hall of Fame Game taking place on August 8.  As much as most enjoy baseball, it is on a far lesser pedestal than football.

The start of football season in Indiana means a number of things, mostly good but some not as much:

  • The end of summer. This of course sucks, but is inevitable. The weather is usually great in the summer in Indiana and vacations are a plenty.  Not many people welcome the cold weather. At least the leaves change colors.
  • Friday night lights. For those of you who enjoy high school football, it is a chance to meet up with old friends and watch your children and/or Alma Mater play against rivals.
  • College football. It’s a chance to watch College Gameday and our favorite teams.  It is always fun to watch IU play lesser competition in the first few games, only to be largely disappointed when they play anybody in a major conference. There is always next year. Again.
  • Colts games. The highlight of the weekend for most of us is watching the Colts play whoever their opponent is that week. Especially on Sunday or Monday Night Football, where the game doesn’t end until at least midnight and half-days the next day are commonplace.  For those of us who may not be able to watch the games, Bob Lamey keeps us glued to the action on the radio. Nothing like hearing “TOUCHDOWN!” said by Bob Lamey.
  • Tailgating. Sure there is tailgating at concerts, but the tailgates take place for football games. Colts, IU, ND and Purdue tailgates are what make the games as fun as they are.
  • Goodbye list of to-do’s and weekends.  This can either be looked at as good or bad. Once football season starts, man does not get near as much done on weekends as during the spring and summer. Watching football for 9 hours a day on Saturday and Sunday usually eliminates most work getting done; whether that be around the house, schoolwork or work taken home.
  • NCAA Football and Madden video games. Many people enjoy these games and it is this time of year that the games get released.  NCAA Football came out a couple days ago and Madden is just under a month from being released.
  • Fantasy football. Fantasy football has quickly become the most popular fantasy sports game around. The number of people competing in leagues is growing rapidly every year. It seems that at least half of the guys I know play in either a work league or one with their friends.  There is something to be said about a fantasy game that can make me sit at the edge of my seat over the last two minutes of a 21-10 game between the Panthers and 49ers.  It is a blast to play, and just as fun to sit with friends that are in your league on Sunday and trash talk throughout the day. Fantasy football drafts are about three to four weeks away and are a great time in themselves. I suggest doing a draft in person. It is a lot more fun to laugh at your friends when they make a questionable pick or gloat when you take a friends “sleeper pick” a few spots before them. I will probably be writing a lot about fantasy football as the season goes along.

I hope most people are as excited about football season as I am. For Colts fans, we only have a few years left with the current Colts franchise players, so we need to enjoy every game of it.  For those who were fans back in the 90’s, it is much easier to appreciate the winning when you have been a fan of a team at the bottom of the league for years. I am not saying the Colts will be as bad as the very early 90’s or late 90’s teams, but they definitely won’t be as good as they have been during the 2000’s.

I hope that everyone enjoys the last month of baseball-only season, and remember that football is only a month away.