A brand new league

Questions about the Alliance of American Football ahead of debut

Steve Spurrier might be the biggest name in the AAF. Getty Images

Pro football hasn't been gone for long and we have the newest incarnation hitting our television screens this weekend. Now, they might have benefited from waiting until the post-NFL feelings of depression really set in but they are here and these are questions we need to have answered.

Can the rule changes make that much of a difference?

No more kickoffs is a welcome addition. The NFL kickoff has been watered down and rarely is it worth more than a few extra yards. Forcing teams to go for two instead of extra points will be awesome. The play clock is five seconds shorter and the onside kick is convoluted but it in involves the running of an offensive play instead of kicking the ball.

The goal here is to get the game shorter and this, along with less commercials and fewer TV timeouts, should help. The goal is a broadcast that runs two and a half hours and they should achieve that. Knowing football won't stretch into nearly four hour marathons is a nice notion. If the game stinks though, it won't matter how long it takes to play the game.

Will it look slow?

Inevitably the NFL is the fastest version of the game of football. They hit the hardest and the they move at top speed. Some big college games look fast but even a large portion of the college game looks slow compared to the worst NFL game. If this game is slow you will notice it.

The few weeks away would have done them good in this sense. Even with some former NFL talent on the field it is still going to be a drop off from the NFL. The speedy players will stand out and have a decent advantage over the others on the field. If the rules and styles of offense keep the game moving and hide the lack of speed they could have an appealing project.

Who will we recognize?

Well, we will recognize some names. There aren't a ton of NFL games played among the players of the league but there are some names you will recognize from their college success and bouncing around the NFL. The coaches have some star power associated with their names. Steve Spurrier (Orlando), Mike Martz (San Diego), and Mike Singletary (Memphis) will all be patrolling the sidelines.

Former Browns top pick Trent Richardson has plenty of name recognition as he plays for the Birmingham team. Matt Asiata was a frequent fantasy touchdown thief in the league. A few of Houston's finest Cougars will suit up in San Antonio with Greg Ward Jr., De'Marcus Ayers, and Kenneth Farrow all appearing as Commanders. Kennan Gilchrist and Kurtis Drummond are former Texans players who are on the team in San Antonio as well. Longtime NFL kicker Nick Novak will kick in this league as well.

The quarterbacks will be the most interesting names. Josh Johnson is fresh off his few weeks quarterbacking for the Redskins. Christian Hackenberg and Zach Mettenberger, he of J.J. Watt Selfiegate, battled it out to see who will take snaps for the team in Memphis. Former college standouts Aaron Murray and Trevor Knight are quarterbacks for the Atlanta and Arizona franchises respectively.

What will success look like?

I am not sure what the Alliance of American Football will deem success but this one seems a lot like the threshold test for obscenity in the landmark Jacobellis v. Ohio case from 1964: I know it when I see it.

It is really that simple. Almost from go we will know if this is a viable entity worth our time and eyeballs, and eventually our money for fantasy sports and gambling. If it isn't we will see right away. If the answers to the three previous questions are no, yes, and nobody then the league is doomed. They have big backing but no one likes to lose money. This opening week will catch plenty of eyes but after it isn't on CBS anymore and it is filtered to the various other ways to watch, will it hold up?

We will know when we see it. And I know we are going to see live football on our screens this weekend.

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Houston loses to end the road trip

Dodgers get best of Odorizzi to split series with Astros

Jake Odorizzi allowed four home runs over three innings against the Dodgers on Wednesday. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

After spoiling the night of many Dodgers fans in the opener of this two-game series in Los Angeles the night prior, the Astros returned to the stadium to a fresh set of hostile fans, looking to get the mini-sweep. This one went much more in favor of the home team, though, as the Dodgers would ride three big innings to start the game to the win for the series split.

Final Score: Dodgers 7, Astros 5

Astros' Record: 65-43, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Max Scherzer (9-4)

Losing Pitcher: Jake Odorizzi (4-6)

Odorizzi gets shelled

After a Michael Brantley solo home in the top of the first run against Max Scherzer, making his Dodger debut, it looked like the Astros may continue their momentum from the night before to grab hold of this game as well. However, that all changed in the bottom of the inning, as the Dodgers would tee off against Jake Odorizzi.

In that inning, he allowed four runs, a leadoff solo shot by Mookie Betts, then later a three-run blast by Will Smith. Betts made it 2-for-2 with solo homers in the bottom of the second, extending the lead to 5-1. Things went from bad to worse in the third, with Los Angeles getting their fourth home run, this one for two runs to make it a 7-1 game. Odorizzi would finish the third but go no further.

Scherzer K's 10 over seven innings in his Dodger debut

Houston tried to start clawing back into it in the top of the fourth, getting a second run against Scherzer with a two-out RBI-single by Kyle Tucker, trimming the lead to five runs at 5-2. First out of Houston's bullpen was Yimi Garcia in the bottom of the fourth, and he tossed the first 1-2-3 inning for Houston. Rafael Montero was next in the bottom of the fifth, working around a leadoff double followed by a walk for a scoreless inning.

Montero remained in the game in the bottom of the sixth, still 7-2, and would get another scoreless inning, this time sitting down the Dodgers in order. Scherzer finished his quality debut for his new team in the top of the seventh, erasing a leadoff walk to complete seven innings while allowing two runs.

Astros lose to split the series with Dodgers

Brooks Raley was Houston's next reliever, and he, too, would get through a scoreless inning by erasing a two-out single. In the game-within-the-game, the Dodgers brought in Joe Kelly for the top of the eighth, who notched two strikeouts to bring none other than Carlos Correa to the plate, setting up a rematch of the well-known incident that led to the "pouty face" clip from 2020. Carlos Correa won this round, launching a 405-foot homer off of Kelly to make it a four-run game at 7-3.

Phil Maton kept the score there, stranding two runners in the bottom of the eighth to send the 7-3 game to the top of the ninth, where the Dodgers would bring in Kenley Jansen. After a leadoff single, Kyle Tucker would get the Astros within two runs on a two-run homer, making it 7-5. That's as close as they would get, as Jansen would regroup to get the next three batters out to wrap up the loss for Houston.

Up Next: With this road trip completed, the Astros will have a quick turnaround as they catch a late flight back to Houston then turn around with a game Thursday at 7:10 PM Central to open a four-game series with the Twins. Framber Valdez (7-2, 3.01 ERA) will take the mound for Houston in the opener, while Minnesota will counter with Griffin Jax (1-1, 6.41 ERA).

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