Thursday, April 22, 2010

The NCAA Tournament: An Egalitarian Wonderland!

Of all of the NCAA's championship events, I think it is pretty safe to say the the men's basketball tournament is the best.  It is no more or less fair than all the other sports' tournaments; it is right on par with them.  But what takes it over the top is, of course, the television coverage and massive fan appeal (and you can have a chicken vs. egg argument between those two).  And today they made the tournament even better.  They expanded to 68 teams and this is a look at the arguments for and against the expansion and why the NCAA proved its superior administrative wisdom, once again.

"Why not 96 teams?  Erase the bubble, reward 31 more teams, make 31 more games-worth the money."
It's unecessary.  Who would those extra 31 teams be?  All the conferences already have automatic bids, so they'd all be at large schools.  Assuming that 15 or 16 of the auto-bid schools are not among the 96 best in the country, that still means that around the top 80 teams in the country would get invites.  Do we really need to see if the 76th best team deserves a national championship?  I am all for Cindarellas, but don't the schools that prove their worth all year deserve better than to have 60-70 sub-par teams taking shots at them?  And wouldn't there still be a bubble, but it would just include much crappier teams?  We'd be very likely to see entire conferences get bids, with multiple sub-.500 teams. 

"Then why expand at all?"
Expansion is necessary because every year there are 2-3 schools that likely deserved an invitation but were left out.  This will eliminate that 66th-team-bubble and allow all the qualified teams a chance to play.  Not to mention that it rewards three more teams and provides 3 more games-worth of revenue.

"Isn't that that answer the exact same as the question that you answered 'unnecessary' to for a 96 team expansion?"
No, that was 96.  This is 68.  They're different numbers.  Plus, the 80th best team in the country doesn't have a prayer and doesn't belong.

"I agree that the 80th best team doesn't belong.  But does the 50th really belong?  Likely a 13 or 14 seed, do they deserve a chance and are they genuine contenders?  A 12-seed, Missouri 2002, is the worst seed to even even make the Elite 8, so do we really need more 13+ calibre teams?"
Yes.  There is no downside to allowing more teams to compete, be they are top 10 schools or top 50 (but let's not get carried away and allow the top 80).  Plus, the Tournament has a long history of periodic expansion and of having additional play-in games.  Since 1950, this will be the 10th expansion, and the fourth tournament make-up that included play-in games. 

As you said earlier, 'I am all for Cindarellas, but don't the schools that prove their worth all year deserve better than to have 60-70 sub-par teams taking shots at them?'  Doesn't the same already ring true currently with 40-50 sub-par teams?  So why allow three more in?  Clearly it isn't for fairness but again, why didn't you just expand to 200 teams?
Generally all the university presidents, conference commissioners, and NCAA and television executives want to expand exponentially.  Fans don't.  And we feel it is important to listen to the fans.  Whether in includes 65, 68, or 96 teams, the tournament is fair, so why not keep the fans happy.  After all, they pay their hard earned money to keep us afloat.

So basically, even though no one watches the current play-in game, you can make more money by having 3 more.  And those three games don't affect the integrity of the title, so you feel that it is reasonable to cash in, give more kids a shot at the title, and appease your fanbase.  I think I am alright with that.
Good.  I'm glad we understand each other. 

In other words, it can't hurt anything so the 66th, 67th and 68th best basketball teams in the country deserve a chance to play for the title, but the 3rd best football team can kiss your ass.
No comment.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Massive Collapse At The Cowboys' Stadium? But It's Not Even January!

What's that explosion you hear echoing from the Dallas area?  It's not the last glimmer of Jerry Jones' hope for widespread public respect fading into that good night after the video hit the web showing his apparently recent comments blasting Tim Tebow, revealing how similar his love for Tony Romo is to Herbert's love for Brian Griffin on The Family Guy, and explaining that Bill Parcells is a joke and that Jones only hired him to silence critics and dupe his fans into voting to approve the new stadium.

No, that noise is Jerry's 'Boys' old home finally being demolished nearly a year after they opened the doors of their new gaudy monstrosity, stripper cages and all.  You remember the new stadium right?  Its the one with that huge TV screen?  The one that was opened with a loss to the Giants?  Yeah, that's the one. 

Videos of Texas Stadium's implosion are all over the web (google "Texas Stadium implosion" and take your pick), and frankly, I can't get enough of them.  They combine two spectacles that I always enjoy watching: building implosions and well, watching Texas Stadium collapse. 

Today I found a video on the Cowboys' official site that is truly pretty amazing though.  They set cameras up in such a way that they had a 360 degree view of the implosion and then linked the videos so you can actually manually move the perspective around as it is playing - just like the 360 still photos that you've probably already used online (like on Google maps, for instance).  I don't think I've ever seen this done with video, and it's pretty amazing.

Watch the video a few times, but be sure take a look with the camera facing down the field directly into the oncoming debris. 

I wanted to make some joke linking the building collapse to that fat bastard, and noted cheater Flozell Adams, but it just seems hollow after the Cowboys released him last month.  So I'll just say this: Flozell Adams is a fat bastard and a cheater.

Headline Potpourri

It's been a while since I have written here consistently and I make no promise that I will start to again now, but I do like spouting off about things and pretending that people are reading it and I am influencing the masses (even though I can look at the Google analytics and see that usually only 4 people read anything on here...which just tells me that my mom must log in from different computers).

So here's my scattershot look at the sports world these days.

Omar Minaya needs to be fired. I am pretty sure that his main qualification when he was hired was being a life-long Mets fan. Well, I want the job then. I can identify the highest profile star free agent and sign a huge check to bring him in. I can misidentify the abundant mid-level talent that actually wins ball games. I can sign over-the-hill stars in a transparent attempt to sell tickets. I can trade away young talent without having any real sense of if they'll be any good or not. I can sign and resign bad pitchers to hugely overvalued contracts, while passing on others that would have been cheaper and more effective.

According to a blog on the network, Joel Pineiro was all set to sign with the Mets this offseason.  He is close friends with Alex Cora, who told him that Minaya had said they were gonna get it done.  Pieneiro was excited.  Then Minaya settled on the same crap that had lost nearly 100 games last year and Pineiro eventually signed with the Angels for just $1 million more than the Mets initial low-ball offer.  If you're wondering, last year Pineiro had his best year as a full-time starter with a 3.49 ERA and 15 wins.  His ERA is 2.77 this year, including dominating the Yankees in New York yesterday.  Good call Omar. 

Jerry Manuel also needs to be fired. He over-manages the bullpen to the point where most games are unwatchable because of the constant pitching changes. And this makes all of the pitchers tired because they all warm-up every day and most pitch every day, so mid-way through the season, all of them are fatigued. He over-manages the lineup to the point where no one knows exactly what his role is. If Jose Reyes is your 3-man, put him there and shut up about it. If not, don't...and shut up about it. If Angel Pagan is your centerfielder until Carlos Beltran comes back, then put him out there and let him settle in. If you are trying to find extra time for Gary Matthews, Jr. so you can trade him when Beltran returns, then do it and leave him in there so he can settle in. Set a lineup and stick with it. One bad offensive day doesn't mean you blow the whole thing up and start over. But two years of the same crap not working over and over, does mean to start over.

And Gary Matthews, Jr., you are 36 years old. Drop the "Jr."

Oliver Perez needs to be released. Damn the contract. There must be any number of pitchers available (Pedro Martinez, Jerrod Washburn, any minor leaguer) who can come in and throw a great 4 innings here and there, and then give up 5 runs and 6 walks in an inning here and there. Screw this guy. He stunk when we signed him. He stunk under the last pitching coach. He stinks under this pitching coach. Stop stroking his ego and trying to ease his psyche so he can find the freaking strike zone. Let him use the money you're paying to go to Fiji and hire a sports psychologist and figure it out on his own. There's no reason he needs to parade out there every five days like an albatross around the necks of your fans and the rest of the team just so we can figure out if he's still an overvalued lunatic. (Note: This program does not allow for photo captions, but the one above would have been, "Ctrl-Z".)

John're next. Quit screwing around.

Sharks fans: your mascot has one syllable. Luckily the convention of sports fans has standard crowd-roaring cheers for just such a situation. And they have other cheers for two syllable mascots. Stop using the wrong one. "Let's go Sharks! - Let's go Sharks!" Memorize and repeat. You've watched too many Yankees and Red Sox games on ESPN (though that is all they show, so I can't blame you) and are trying to make "Sharks" a two-syllable word. Stop it. "Let's go Sha-arks." I can't believe I have to listen to that for at least 1 more home game, possibly as many as 15 more times this postseason.

Sharks players: What the hell? How many former Stanley Cup winners and Olympic Gold medal winners do you need to join you before you stop being choke artists?

Ben Roethlisberger is an idiot. Can we move on though? He didn't get drunk and crash his $200,000 car into a pedestrian. He didn't run a dog-fighting ring. He didn't shoot himself in the leg in a nightclub. He just keeps sleeping with the wrong women, once he crashed a motorcycle, and he has a really bad barber. If he's ever convicted of rape, then I will change my story here. But for now, he is a really rich, kinda fat, kinda ugly 28-year-old dude who likes going to bars and hooking up with women.

Elin Woods is allegedly pissed at Tiger for playing in the Masters just 5 months after their marriage blew up. Not that Tiger has to work, given his financial success, but golf is his job. I think 5 months off is a reasonable amount of time off from work before restarting some normalcy to life without being callous. In the real world, people go back to work the next day after catastrophe hits. That said, she should be pissed (and allegedly is) about the Nike commercial where they spliced together things his dad said into some kind of eerie, post-mortem, lecture to Tiger about being a scumbag. It is disgusting, shameful and sad. From Nike's point of view, what was the purpose of this: "We will get unrelated statement made by his dead father, who he was really close to, and chop it up so it sounds like he is scolding Tiger. And this will make people want to buy shoes." Are they really exploiting his infidelity as an avenue for sales? It's one thing to keep him as a spokesman since he is still a great athlete, even if he's a scummy person. But it is another to advertise his scumminess.  And he signed off on it.  Oh, and he had sex with all those skanks.  Screw the pre-nup saying you have to be married for a certain amount of time, show him that at least you can't be bought. 

Can we stop looking at Tiger's father as some kind of model for all parents? He raised a son who is arrogant, petulant, rude, condescending, and adulterous. During the US Open this year, which is always on Fathers' Day weekend, I hope I don't have to hear about what a wonderful man it was that raised and was so close to this huge asshole. He may have been a good guy, and maybe all these problems with Tiger are not his fault. But as a former teacher, I often saw that if a kid was a good kid, you saw why when you met his parents. And visa versa.

It took Milton Bradley 5 games to have a blow-up on his new team. And this is after being fired from his last team for having blow-ups all the time. Which is after a litany of blow-ups throughout his career despite his consistent insistence that it's never his fault. Newsflash Milton: opposing sports fan heckle. Especially those in cities where you formerly played. Especially when you had a huge contract and stunk and got run out of town because of behavior problems. So at this point, I am starting to think it isn't Bradley's fault. It's the teams that keep hiring him.

Phil Jackson just criticized NBA referees for the preferential treatment that Kevin Durant gets. I'm sure this blatantly transparent and pathetic whining has nothing to do with the fact that Jackson's Lakers are playing Durant's Supersonics in the playoffs this week. I am sure Jackson would have spoken out about this had the Lakers not been playing the Sonics. And I am sure that Jackson is aware of the fact that his 10 championships are partially a result of the fact that Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal, and Kobe Bryant have always gotten better preferential treatment from refs than Tiger Woods would get at the Bunny Ranch. NBA officiating is a joke, Phil. If you score 20+ points per game, or get 15+ rebounds, you get any call you want. It doesn't matter who you are, just that you're somebody.

I know they're not the Supersonics anymore, I just still can't believe it. And Jim Britt deserved better, so that's for him. (By the way Jim, sorry about Milton Bradley being insane. Who saw that coming?)

I went to the Giants-Pirates game yesterday and saw what I think was my first inside-the-park homerun. I have a vague sense that I saw someone hit one at a Padre game at the Murph when I was in college, but I can't quite place it. Eric Young?  I think it was a Rockie.  In any case, this one yesterday was awesome and Aubrey Huff probably hopes he never gets a funny bounce like that again. He looked like the only way he was gonna make it home was on a gurney.

In related news, I rode my bike to the game. This is significant for a number of reasons. One: it's awesome. Two: I was not worried about my bike being stolen or myself being stabbed at any point before during or after the game. Maybe moving away from LA wasn't so bad. I've been to two games at AT&T Park now this season. 0 waves. 0 beach balls. 0 fights. 0 drinks/food thrown at opposing fans. 1 Braves fan in a Chipper Jones jersey in the front row who spent most of the game facing the crowd with a smug look on his face and his arms out in a "That's right, we're winning, what are you gonna do about it?" posture who deserved drinks and food thrown at him, then a fight, but got none. 0 violent incidents outside the stadium.

I have eye glasses but I don't wear them very much, though I should. Last night I was sitting pretty far from the TV watching the Sharks-Avs game and had a hard time spotting the puck. There is obviously an easy way to remedy this situation for the Kings-Canucks game tonight. I need a bigger TV.

Fantasy baseball is frustrating for a lot of reasons but here are two examples from this past week: The Braves got shelled but I couldn't fully enjoy it because I had their pitcher, Jair Jurrjens, on my team. Then the next day, the Mets got shelled even worse by the Rockies. But at least I have one of the Rockies' big hitters on my team so I benefitted there, right? Nope. He had the night off.

Tracy McGrady made the announcement today that he intends to retire if he cannot regain his form. Thanks for the update, Tracy. I think I speak for most fans, and probably most GMs when I say, Tracy McGrady is still in the league?