In this week’s edition of Around the Dorm, “Ref” Sean Reis asks our panel of three experts — Connor Smith, Marc Trotochaud and Matt Ajaj — three questions: Will “Big Papi” have his place in baseball history? With four teams remaining in the League of Legends (LoL) World Championship, who is going to win it all this season? Why do you think the NFL has taken such a ratings dive?
1. As a Yankees fan, one of my favorite moments was watching David “Big Papi” Ortiz’s career come to an end with the Red Sox being swept, but will Big Papi have his place in baseball history?
Connor: David Ortiz skated past the steroid era, and his accomplishments leave me to believe he has a clear path toward Cooperstown. Whether you like him or hate him, Ortiz is a three-time World Champion. He had 541 career home runs, a career .552 slugging percentage and is among the top five in Red Sox club history for wins above replacement. He has the numbers, but also the historic significance toward his hometown club. His heroics in the 2004 American League Championship Series helped break the Curse of the Bambino, while his 2013 post-Boston Marathon Bombing speech united his city in a manner similar to Mike Piazza, a 2016 inductee. For those reasons and more, baseball will remember Big Papi — it always does.
Marc: Sean, way to start off ATD by making me emotional. As an avid Red Sox fan, nothing crushed my dreams more than the start of this postseason, and nothing hurt my heart more than knowing that number 34 would never play on an MLB field again. I respect Big Papi as much as — if not more than — any professional athlete in my lifetime. His passion, attitude, ability and charisma made him an iconic franchise player and a name that we will not soon forget. Aside from his impact on the Red Sox organization, his position in baseball history is set as the greatest designated hitter to play in the league, and one of the most clutch postseason performers of all time.
Matt: David Ortiz will go down in baseball history as a legendary power hitter who dominated the game for well over a decade. He was a major cog in the Red Sox lineup for three championships — highlights of these runs include 2004’s breaking of the “Curse of the Bambino” and Ortiz’s epic 2013 World Series MVP Performance when he batted .688 in the series. The dark cloud that will always hover over Ortiz’s career is his alleged positive test for performance-enhancing drugs back in 2003. The details surrounding the test were questionable, and MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred stated two weeks ago that it was “entirely possible” that Ortiz did not test positive on the test. Seeing it took would-be first ballot Hall of Famer Mike Piazza four years to finally make it into the Hall despite zero positive PED tests, Ortiz’s entrance into the Hall will likely be belated. Regardless, Ortiz dominated the game cleanly for the 13 years that followed that alleged positive test, and those 13 years can stand alone as more than worthy enough for a place in the Hall of Fame.
3 points to all responses because all had strong answers, they were just expressed in slightly different ways. Everybody wins… for now.
2. Who do you like in the LoL Championship and who’s going to win it all?
Connor: Due to group-stage results, three of the four best teams in the tournament ended up in the same side of the bracket. Between, SK Telecom T1 (SKT) and the ROX Tigers, the tournament winner will be a tossup. Both Samsung Galaxy and H2K have shown noticeable weaknesses that make them easy prey for both SKT and the Tigers. The Tigers enter the semifinals as the victors of League Champions Korea (LCK) but the win came without facing its arch-rivals: Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok and SKT. They lucked out when KT Rolster eliminated SKT in the summer playoffs, but this time, Lee “Kuro” Seo-haeng and company most prove themselves against the defending world champs. Given SKT has never lost to the Tigers in an elimination match, they’re my pick to win it all.
Marc: I have watched more professional LoL in my life than I care to admit, and this past weekend left me on the edge of my seat. Would the last American hope of Cloud9 win against heavy favorites? Would wildcard Albus NoX with wonder-kid support Likkrit be able to make noise against H2K? The answer, sadly, was no. The sport had all three of its qualifying teams advance to the semifinals. This set up the matches of SKT, last year’s champion with the Michael Jordan-esque player “Faker” looking to get his third (out of five) championships, versus top seed ROX Tiger, and past winner Samsung going up against Europe’s H2K. I would love to see a matchup of past champions going head to head so I will pick SKT and Samsung to make it to the final. What happens there is more questionable, but I side with SKT because they are rolling with house money. Every time that a team with Faker has made worlds, they’ve won.
Matt: I’m not going to pretend like I know anything about LoL, so I’m just going to judge the merits of these teams based on their team names. The first semifinal matchup is the ROX Tigers versus SK Telecom T1. I don’t even know what that latter team name is supposed to mean, so the ROX Tigers win this one by default. The second semifinal matchup is Samsung Galaxy versus H2K. “Samsung Galaxy” loses this one just for being total sellouts. Naming your team after a phone — really? What’s next, the Golden State iPhone 7s? Such a name goes against the spirit of sports and tells me that these guys are just in it for the sponsorship deals and not actually interested in winning. So that brings it down to ROX Tigers and H2K in the championship match, and the winner will be… I don’t know. The fact that these guys get paid to play a video game makes them all winners in my envious eyes.
Marc gets 3 points for comparing Faker to Jordan. Connor gets 2 points because he also picked SKT to win it all. And Matt, sorry I laughed, but only 1 point.
3. The NFL has seen significantly lower ratings this season. Why do you think the NFL has taken an unprecedented ratings dive?
Connor: The NFL’s recent changes make the game frustrating to watch for so many reasons. The kickoff changes gutted the game’s most exciting plays. Penalties and fines removed touchdown celebrations. Routine tackles net flags far too often. That said, I still get up and watch football every Sunday. The Giants losing still ruins my day, while a win in fantasy makes it so all is good in the world. I consume football all the time, but as a broke college student in the digital age, I likely don’t count toward those viewership numbers. Digital streaming — both legally and otherwise — makes cable unattractive to young people. I’d go as far to say that, in a world where HBO Go and Netflix have all the entertainment one could ever want, the NFL is one of the reasons people stay with their cable providers.
Marc: I have two reasons why the NFL has seen such a significant drop in ratings over the beginning of the season. The NFL had nowhere else to go but down. When you are the most popular sport in America, it is hard to maintain the insane viewership, and a ratings drop was inevitable. To be frank, in the past few decades the general public has watched too much football, suggesting that these drop in ratings may not only be normal, but also a good thing. The secondary reason is that the country is in the midst of a polarizing election. Some of these big games have come in conflict with major political events, and detracted from the viewership substantially. I honestly believe that the NFL will bounce back and be just fine, that is until the new collective barring agreement comes along and the threat of a lockout ensues.
Matt: People are turning away from the NFL because it is becoming less about football. Regardless of how you feel about the politics of Colin Kaepernick and friends, their actions have frustrated many Americans. Along with the NFL’s denial of the Cowboys’ request to wear decals in honor of the fallen Dallas officers, many fans feel marginalized. Some popular Twitter pundits have even called for their followers to protest the NFL by refusing to watch the games. Additionally, the excitement of this year’s presidential election has people turning to the news rather than football, and sports media hasn’t done the NFL any favors by focusing more on the politics of the sport than the actual sport itself. Want the fans to come back? Throw out the politics and get back to the pigskin.
Connor gets 3 points because the game has been so frustrating to watch. Matt and Marc get 2 political points.