TNF leaves Raiders between rock and hard place

Are you ready for some rockball?

The NFL wants to improve its product in light of crummy television ratings, and Balls has just the place to start.
Thursday Night Football.

From a competitive standpoint, a entertainment standpoint, a safety standpoint — almost any standpoint — TNF is a bad idea best put in the rearview mirror.

Just ask the Raiders, who aren’t thrilled to draw the short straw this week.

Not only will the Raiders travel to Kansas City for the AFC West slugfest, but the division leaders have only three days to prepare for it. That doesn’t bode well for quarterback Derek Carr, in particular, whose damaged right pinky could use the extra three days to heal.

The league and TV honchos like to match up division rivals in these games, but except for the few games played in domes, conditions couldn’t be much worse especially this late in the season. The forecast in Kansas City calls for temperatures in the teens, hardly ideal for a showdown with first place at stake. Or the pass game.

On a night when the ball will feel more like boulder, the Raiders may want to take a lead into the fourth quarter for a change.

FULL DISCLOSURE: The Baseball Writers Association of America will make its Hall of Fame ballots public in the future, but Balls will spare the suspense.

Your faithful servant will continue to ignore candidates who spent the brunt of their careers in the height of the Steroids Era, which covers 1993 to 2005 roughly. That includes Jeff Bagwell, Barry Bonds — especially Barry Bonds — Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, Rafael “Never Ever, Period” Palmeiro, Gary Sheffield and Sammy Sosa to name the obvious suspects.

Thank you. Thank you very much.

SILLY, SILLY PEOPLE: Next the BBWAA can administer drug tests to its membership.

You know, the idiots who believe that, since Steroids Era overseer Bud Selig has been erroneously elected into the Hall of Fame, the more accomplished cheaters he enabled should join him.

Balls counts as many as five ex-steroids users in the the Hall of Fame as it is. That’s five too many. Any dumb butt who wants to lower the bar further should turn in their BBWAA card immediately.

SAME OL’ SAME OLD: MLB players and owners agreed to a five-year deal if only because the sport made them too rich to make it better.

Sure enough, it was fleecing as usual only hours later, when the hoity-toity Boston Red Sox acquired stud pitcher Chris Sale from the White Sox, Chicago’s Triple-A team. In return, they gave up a top prospect, a kid who dates the daughter of Kim Zolciak (Real Housewife of Atlanta) and two jamokes who will never amount to anything. Sale is your basic whiny, self-entitled ballplayer, not to mention slightly deranged, but no one can doubt his competitive drive and Cy Young Award credentials. Add another reason for mid-market fans to start their own #boycottMLB movement.

REST OF THE STORY: According to Balls’ mostly reliable sources, the White Sox dealt Sale to a World Series contender to deprive the crosstown Cubs of another parade.

Make it Red Sox in five.

DISCLAIMER: The Red Sox project Pablo Sandoval to be their Opening Day third baseman. So they haven’t clinched the American League pennant yet.

THE LIST: Sure-miss picks against the spread for Week 14 of the NFL season …
Arizona Cardinals (+1) at Miami Dolphins.
Cincinnati Bengals (-6) at Cleveland Browns.
San Diego Chargers (+1.5) at Carolina Panthers.
Last week: 2-1. Season: 14-22 (.389).

JUST SAYIN’: Congrats up there to the late Bill King, the Ford Frick Award winner and most versatile Bay Area sportscaster ev-er. Dallas Mavericks big man Andrew Bogut will be out 10 days to four weeks because of a hyperextension and bone bruise in his left knee. That’s what the Warriors don’t miss about him.

• Only hours after the Giants signed Mark Melancon to the richest contract ever for a closer, the Cubs picked up health risk Wade Davis on the cheap. Don’t put it past operations genius Theo Epstein to be the smartest man at the winter meetings again.

• Meanwhile, the Athletics continue to seek out volunteers to play center field and/or second base next season. Send inquiries to The Coliseum, 7000 Coliseum Way, Oakland, CA 94621.

WHERE HAVE YOU GONE … Lance Blankenship?

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