Sunday, June 22, 2008 - Bartender, another draft please...
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Bartender, another draft please...
Rating the Pro Drafts
The TSB staff tells you what each of the four major sport drafts bring to the table
Three of the major sport drafts are held in June. It's the season for amateurs going pro, just like February is the season for all-star games, it also has three of the four major sport events. This was probably my favorite TSB panel question ever…mostly because I didn't have to do a ton of work in answering it. I just sent the question and writer assignments out and my talented and hard-working staff did the rest. Simply just calling the play and handing the ball off to my top four playmakers yielded the following insightful analysis…and the metaphor choice told you what my favorite one is!
David K.- NBA
As if there is even a question about which draft I think is the best… The NBA Draft trumps all others, hands down. Here's why:
1) It's a one-day, three hour event. It doesn't take two days and 18 hours to complete like the NFL and MLB Drafts.
2) Except for the ten or so foreign players drafted, there is a good chance that the average football fan has heard of almost every player selected. That certainly can't be said of the NHL or MLB Drafts where the average fan has maybe heard of ONE player who gets picked…Maybe? As for the NFL Draft, except for the major talents and most of the skill positions, you haven't even heard of these guys. Let's be honest, has anyone ever seen Joe Flacco play? Had anyone ever heard of him until Mel Kiper Jr. started talking about him after the season was over?
3) Speaking of Kiper Jr., he is not part of the NBA Draft which automatically adds points to my argument for roundball.
4) Yes, we have to suffer through Stephen A. Smith and Dick Vitale during the NBA Draft, but their arguments put any Kiper Jr./Todd McShay disagreement to shame. Didn't we all think Vitale and Smith were going to fight in the parking lot after last year's draft?
5) The ridiculous outfits the players in the green room wear. Remember Joakim Noah's draft day attire last year? You just don't get that with the other drafts.
6) There is, thankfully, no NBA Live show every day on ESPN for the two months leading up to the draft where we have to deal with reckless banter about every single team's every single possibility with every single pick. Seriously, by Mid-March, I want to vomit at the sight of Trey Wingo on the NFL Live set.
Case closed. I will now celebrate with my Championship belt!
NFL- Sarah Spain
Since we all know the NFL draft is the best around, I'll make my argument quick and painless.
1) Big, chunky dudes stuffing their huge necks into collared shirts and their huge asses into mustard-colored, quadruple-breasted suits. "Fat man in a little coat," indeed.
2) Fans, particularly New York Jets fans. They may be annoying and loud (not to mention way too fond of gold chains, wife beaters and shaved chests) but Jets fans add a raw, game-like feel to an event that is essentially an old dude announcing names at a podium.
3) Mel Kiper Jr's hair- Much more impressive than any of the draftee highlight reels he introduces.
4) Crowd-wide heckling of Chris Berman.
5) Shocking draft droppers like Brady Quinn. Rarely do players in other sports drop as dramatically as NFL hopefuls. Watching Quinn squirm in his chair was alternately hilarious and tragic. The only other selection ceremony with this kind of drama involves a rose and a Bachelor.
6) Watching the satellite feed of a player who wasn't invited to New York get the call at home, surrounded by friends, family and the college sweetheart he'll be cheating on in…3….2….1. Heartwarming.
7) It's looooong. People who don't like football may not be interested in the later rounds (or any rounds at all) but diehard football fans wanna see every guy right down to Mr. Irrelevant. When someone like Marques Colston barely avoids the dubious final draft spot then blows up in his first season, draft fans can say they called it right from the moment he was picked. You never know when the next Tom Brady will get his name called…
While Major League Baseball has made a huge push over the past few years to generate more excitement over its amateur draft, it remains the least exciting of all professional sports drafts for several reasons:
Seedlings Don't Bare Fruit Immediately
Unlike all other professional drafts in which top picks are expected to make an immediate impact with their team, it can be years before a MLB top draft pick ever plays in a major league game. Since the draft began in 1965, less than one percent of the top 50 draft picks ever start immediately in the major leagues. Future Hall of Famer and White Sox Legend Frank Thomas was selected in the June 1989 Draft, and did not make his MLB debut until August 1990. While Thomas was considered to be fast tracked for the majors, he played in the minors for well over a year before getting his first MLB at bat.
Most Never Make It to The Show.
The vast majority of players selected in the draft will NEVER play in a single MLB game. Even worse- just over 50% of all first round draft picks have more than 5 games of major league service.
America's Pastime Only Applies to the Pros
While NCAA baseball has grown in popularity in recent years thanks to ESPN, it only has a fraction of the popularity of college football and basketball. Simply put, have you ever seen a "May Madness" bracket for the college baseball play-offs? Or gone to a college World Series party?
Draft Picks Are Not Guaranteed
Players drafted in June MUST be signed by August 15th or the team loses rights to that player, essentially making him again eligible to be drafted by another team the following season. The most famous player and most notorious agent to spurn a team under this rule in recent memory were J.D. Drew and Scott Boras.
Drew was the second overall pick in the 1997 Major League Baseball Draft by the Philadelphia Phillies. Boras warned all teams not to select his player unless they were willing to pay his client $10 million. The Phillies ignored Boras and drafted him anyway with no intention to pay the Boras asking price. Drew refused to sign and played for the St. Paul Saints of the independent Northern League that season. Drew was then drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in June 1998, and made his debut later that year in September. He was forever hated by Phillies fans for spurning the team. Interestingly enough, the MLB draft is the only draft among all professional sports that actually takes place during the course of the season. Despite all the reasons that it is currently the least popular draft, it will forever remain my favorite draft, because it is an essential building block of the game that gave Soxman life.
NHL Draft Superiority? Not Quite, but it's closer than you think.
By Peter Christian
We are all clear that the NFL has done the best job of exploiting its draft (without looking it up I would guess that the NFL nets at least 8 digits from the draft weekend). The NBA Draft is one of the most fun to speculate about (because of the extremely high bust vs. breakout ratio) and the MLB Draft can never be fan friendly (due to the immense draft pool and subsequent waiting period for most players). The major sporting draft that often gets left out of the "Entertaining for Fans" Category is the NHL Draft. That fact alone is very disappointing since the NHL Draft is often the most eventful draft of the four sports. If you didn't already know, for fans eventful = entertaining and exciting.
At face value the NHL Draft has all of the same things to offer as the NFL and NBA drafts (known prospects and lots of talent) and tends to offer more draft day trades and player movement but doesn't get even a quarter of the attention from casual fans the two major sports drafts do. However, for those who do stay interested they get the pleasure of being part of the best draft process in North American Professional Sports (or NAPS as the kids call it on the streets, not to be confused with the National Association of Postal Supervisors that my dad is a member of). The NHL draft set-up is undoubtedly the most conducive to excitement, both for the league and the fans. Unlike the NFL, MLB or NBA, the NHL draft brings all of the team General Managers together in the same place. With all of the decision makers together trades and back room deals are bound to happen. And they do. While the NBA usually has a couple of draft day deals that have teams sending a player and a pick packing in the effort to move up in the draft to get their guy, the NHL usually has a bunch. Every team has their eye on a certain player and has a plan to get that guy if it looks like he might come off the board before their slot. What's more, the NHL rivalries transcend to the draft as well. If the Maple Leafs know that the Canadiens have their eye on Player X and the player they had their eyes on is gone, they are more likely to take Player X just to screw their rivals rather than trade down and accumulate a few more picks. That just doesn't happen in the NFL or NBA.
So with so much going on at the NHL Draft why isn't it a bigger fan event?
The simple answer is marketing. Shocking, I know. The fact that the NHL cannot even swing a major network deal for its regular season games (one game a week on NBC from January through April is a joke) means that they have got bigger fish to fry than working on selling the NHL draft to the casual hockey fan. That being said, the NHL draft is still a great product and should be recognized as the format that is best among the best. At least it is still considered more entertaining than the MLB draft. Hey, it's a start.