NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. – Baseball may be America’s pastime, but sports enthusiasts around New Rochelle and Mount Vernon have shown more excitement in the opening days of NFL free agency, than the return of spring training.
While the Major League Baseball exhibition season kicked off two weeks ago, it hasn’t registered with many Westchester County sports fans, who have instead been gobbling up any tidbit of knowledge coming from NFL free agency, which began Tuesday at 4 p.m. after a three day “tampering” period.
Residents complained that exhibition baseball lacks the thrill of a football, or even regular season baseball game. Often, starting players will only play the first few innings before heading to the links to play a round.
“I love baseball, but I’m not a spring training guy. It drags on too long, even the players don’t seem to want to be there half the time,” Mount Vernon resident Ken Monroe said at Modell’s. “I need to know how they plan on fixing my G-Men, I’ve been checking ESPN every few minutes.”
On the opening day of free agency, NFL teams spend more than $1 billion on free agent contracts. Former Jet Darrelle Revis will be suiting up for the rival Patriots, the Giants’ Justin Tuck will be taking his talents to Oakland and the Jets made a splash, signing receiver Eric Decker and tackle Breno Giacomini.
Although baseball's opening day is less than a month away, and the NFL preseason doesn’t begin until August, New Rochelle resident Erik Stafford said that there is no escaping the information vortex the NFL has become.
“Football has really taken over, it’s a year round league,” he said. “You go from the [scouting] combine, then there’s free agency, and by the time that is done there’s going to be the draft. It’s definitely grown more popular than baseball.”
In New Rochelle, Jay Ashford said that while he prefers football to baseball, he enjoys the baseball off season more, feeling that the NFL’s salary cap makes it more difficult to keep a team together.
“Every year, you see all these ‘cap casualties’ and cuts, and sometimes it feels like a whole different team is on the field from one year to the next,” the Jet fan said. “It’s frustrating when your favorite vets get released because the team can’t afford them. It’s even more frustrating having to retire their jersey when they’re on a different team.”