Wow, I gotta start getting the lead out with regard to Ask Me Anything! 2011. So here are a couple of sports-related questions!
Andy has this to ask:
Do you think changing up the Buffalo Bills uniforms will do ANYTHING for the team or do you think they will continue having the top five draft pick selections for the next several years?
I don't think uniforms really have any effect except for in the local sports apparel stores, where lots of fans will undoubtedly spend quite a bit of money to get the new jerseys and whatnot. Sometimes teams change uniforms and then get good pretty quickly thereafter: the Patriots in the 90s did it, and the Broncos changed to their current uniforms and almost immediately won two Super Bowls later the same decade. But usually these types of uniform changes don't result in a good team; rather, a good team results because of a new management team that changes the uniforms at the same time that they are installing a better approach to team-building.
I think that it's more likely that this year's draft will determine whether or not the Bills are drafting in the top five for years to come. If they can get at least four or five solid players out of this draft, including at least two real playmakers, then they should be able to improve fairly quickly. But if they tank on the draft, then the long years of suffering will continue. It seems kind of odd to think about it, since a typical NFL team will draft between six and nine players in any particular year via the Draft, but if you tank an entire Draft class (as the Bills did in 2007, only one player from which Draft is still on the team), it can set you back for multiple seasons.
I look forward to seeing the Bills' new uniforms -- while I didn't hate the uni's of the last ten years, I wasn't wild about 'em, either -- I'm looking forward to them drafting well even more. (I do hope that their new uni's are either their current "throwback" uni's, or just going back to the uni's of the 1990s Bills!)
When will the Pittsburgh Pirates play .500 ball, and what will it take? Will they ever be truly competitive again? Has the management oversold the "we're a small market team" issue? And any comments on the passing of Chuck Tanner, manager of the we Are Family '79 WS winners?
I have zero idea of when the Pirates will be good again. None whatsoever. It truly astonishes me that a person who was born the last time the Pirates had a winning season is now old enough to drive, vote, serve in the military, see Kill Bill without a parent being along...everything but buy a beer. The Pirates have been losing longer than most people have had Internet access. Last time the Pirates won, George Bush was President. The first one.
Major League Baseball has long needed some form of revenue sharing that's more rigorous than the odd, Rube Goldberg system they have now, but after eighteen years of sucking, the Pirates don't have that as an excuse. They've been simply mismanaged for all that time. Bad scouting, bad personnel decisions, and ownership that refused to spend money...ugh.
The Pirates will need to build their farm system and develop good, young players to construct their major league club around. That's the only way they'll win again, being in a small market as they are. But it's not an impossible task; other teams have done it. (Oakland and Minnesota are prime examples; so is Tampa Bay, which has built a fantastic franchise in a town that heartbreakingly doesn't give a shit.) Small market is part of it, but the major part of it is that the Pirates' management and ownership has been resoundingly, staggeringly horrible.
More answers to come!