Thursday, June 30, 2011

LOCKOUT: No Bargaining Arising, No Fans Listening

NFL players are locked out. NBA players will share the same fate in about 10 hours. Two of the top sports leagues in North America will both be shut down.


Players and owners don’t trust each other. They want their “fair share.” Translation: They want more, they want everything. 

What should happen?

Players are employees. They have rights, that’s for sure. But like any other business, if an employee doesn’t like the employer’s rules and ideas then they won’t work for that employer. Then the employer must find a new worker, and there are plenty of other potential players out there. 

Owners are accountable, too. If they don’t treat their “employees” right then they won’t have any workers, and definitely not the best ones out there. 

Both groups need to just grow up basically.

What happens next?

NBA owners are willing to lose an entire season of play (which is stupid considering the NBA finally had a good season of ratings for the first time in close to 15 years) so the winter months are now under full control of the NHL. We might start see TNT broadcast hockey games on Christmas day to maintain their sporting event broadcasts.

The NFL season is in danger of being at least shortened, meaning the end of the MLB season will be without competition for once. With no professional football, other sports have a chance to get the spotlight for once. Might MLS finally make a name for itself? IndyCar racing is looking to do a race televised by ABC during the normal slot of Monday Night Football, so a good broadcast there could get open-wheeled racing the final push it needs to take its already improving ratings and move to national prominence. College football is all that’s left for pigskin fans, which means the BCS will be under more scrutiny than ever. Might some games move to Sunday? Some teams have Thursday or even Wednesday night games to get higher viewer ratings since there are no other college football games on those nights. Now with no professional competition, NCAA players might get an early wish to “play on Sundays.”

Finally, SportsCenter will become more like the World News discussing striking workers instead of sports highlights. 

OchoCinco will make highlight reels by wrestling alligators instead of catching a rare touchdown. 

The Manning Brothers will start starring in cop shows ( instead of throwing touchdowns. 

Terrelle Pryor will get recognition from his off the field antics instead of his skills on the field…oh wait, that’s already the case…


Whatever may happen, there’s one thing that is certain: sports fans will be in for some BIG CHANGES over the next six months and beyond. NBA and NFL ratings will very likely fall, and others will rise in their place and get their chance. NASCAR got its chance 15 years ago with the IRL/CART split, who will benefit from this work stoppage?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A rivalry renewed...sort of

Every college football fan in western PA is thrilled by the news of Pitt and Penn State playing against each other in 2016 and 2017. I'm one of those fans. The thing is though they only agreed to play each other for two years. Penn State AD Tim Curly was on the 93.7 the fan Tuesday morning and said he didn't want to make it annual thing because he wanted to play games all around the country so he can serve justice to Penn State alumni who cant travel to a game at beaver stadium.

 I guess that's a nice thought and all but something is telling me that Penn State has more alumni in PA than anywhere else in the country. Furthermore, he would admit that they just needed a "filler game" for two years because Miami backed out of the agreement to play them.What i don't understand is why Penn State wont play Pitt on annual basis. They don't have a natural rival and i know they try to make Michigan state their rival but we all know how that turned out.

 The Pitt and Penn State rivalry was a great one and instead of Curly talking about its history and significance to college football he just dismissed it as a filler game(s). Why doesn't Penn State want Pitt to be its natural rival?  Now i know Penn State is a better program than Pitt. I am not going to be one of those ignorant fans that dismiss that fact BUT Penn State is not head and shoulders over Pitt that they feel like they are justified with having a 2 to 1 home game series with them. Do they really feel like Pitt is THAT small of a program to only settle for 2 to 1?  I mean Penn States schedules usually have them for the first 5 games play teams like Coastal Carolina, Youngstown State, Akron and Toledo. I know every team has about two cup cakes in the beginning of their schedule but its just seems so apparent that PSU stacks up on these cupcakes team just so they can be eligible for a bowl game every year.

I know Penn State has had allot of wins since 2005 and they have in fact beaten some good teams but why not just do your program a favor and add a natural rival. Ill be the first to admit that Pitt needs Penn State but also i believe Penn State needs Pitt. I know PSU has 110,000 fans every home game and have the largest alumni in the country but as good as Penn States football program is, they simply are not Florida, Auburn, Alabama, etc. Do i think adding Pitt is going to make them a top program like one of those schools? Of course not, but what IM trying to say is that they are not in a position to be saying they should have a 2 to 1 home series like they want.  Even if Penn State was one of those top programs and did have that right, why would they consider a school like coastal Carolina or Kent state to fill one of their open slots with when they could have a better program like Pitt?  Perhaps they feel like can have success turning one of those schools into their rival and create a special rivalry trophy like they did with Michigan State.

So im hoping to get everyone's input on this scenario. I'm willing to bet my co-blogger James Dotson will be the first to comment on this post and have a page long rebuttal but that's the kind of stuff I'm looking for from everyone and that's the kind of stuff i like to read. So please everyone rip me a new one :)

Disclaimer: I am getting a Penn State degree and hope their teams do well so I in no way am a homer Pitt fan or anything like that.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Rock 'em Sock 'em....Athletes

I’d like to address an issue I believe has long been overlooked in the world of sports: Fighting.  And no, I don’t mean boxing, MMA, Taekwondo, or even the fake WWF wrestling or whatever abbreviation they choose to use any more.  I’m talking about fighting in the major sports where fighting has no place whatsoever.

Let’s start with America’s pastime: Baseball. Luckily we haven’t seen many issues this year, but a batter charging the mound and leading to a bench clearing brawl just leaves me shaking my head. What are you accomplishing? You threw at me, so I’m going to come throw haymakers your way? And think about it, the batter might get one swing in before being engulfed by four other players, so all the batter accomplishes is a lengthy suspension for him, the pitcher, and half the bench players who run onto the field. Yet the fans love seeing it. (If you type "baseball" into a youtube search, the site completes it to "baseball fights")

Actually, while on the subject of baseball, let me interject another type of baseball “fighting” that’s gone on long enough: coaches and players arguing calls. It’s one thing if you argue a call that can be appealed and changed, but something as pointless as arguing balls and strikes just makes me laugh. You’re going to get thrown out, period. How does that help the team? Coaches are getting thrown out on a weekly basis it seems…hardly an effective way to manage your team if you ask me.

Let’s move on to hockey. Olympic hockey is the best there is because there are no pointless scrums and fights. The NHL is full of fights, as players and fans say that a good fight will help motivate their team and wake up their fans. 

Let’s start with the assertion that a fight will motivate their team. Let’s look at a specific fight that affected the outcome of a game (supposedly). In game 6 of the 2009 Eastern Conference quarterfinals, the Flyers appear to be in control after going up 3-0 over the Penguins with 15:54 left in the 2nd period. At 15:39, Daniel Carcillo and Maxime Talbot engage in a fight, which Carcillo clearly wins. The fight results in an even more excited Philly home crowd and Talbot telling them “shhhh!” At 15:25, the Pens score their first of five unanswered goals to win the game and the series.  If a fight will motivate my team, why would I ever “agree” to a fight when I’m up 3-0? And if the Pens are motivated by a fight that their teammate wasn’t even close to winning, why aren’t there ten fights during every hockey game? 

The answer is that the fight isn’t the motivating factor. In my mind it’s all about the fan reaction. Fans for some reason like seeing grown men on skates grab each other and try to throw punches. Carcillo wanted to pump the crowd up, Talbot to shut them up. They could have done the same with their play, and thus why a fight is pointless.

Pens vs. Isles this year featured one of the most penalty minutes in recent memory. It started from an earlier game when there was a collision in front of the Islanders’ net, which of course resulted in something resembling a rugby scrum combined with a boxing match. Then all of a sudden the two goalies begin skating toward each other and fight (Isles’ goalie Rick DiPietro smiling, making this fan think that a hockey player thinks it’s just “fun” to get into a fight…what’s that teaching us?). One punch and DiPietro is down, and he’d be out for the next six weeks. Was it worth it for him? How about Brent Johnson and the Pens? 

The next game between these two teams not only had fights at every whistle, but also had an Islander Micheal Haley, whose only job is to “enforce” (aka fight), get into a scrap with a Pens player, then after being separated from him by the referees he decides to go and fight the Pens goalie. That’s beyond wrong. That guy should never be allowed to play in a game, ever. Suspensions? Trevor Gillies (who threw an elbow high on Eric Tangradi and then started punching him while he was down) was given a nine game suspension. He also should never see the ice again (he’s not a hockey player…two goals in 39 games last year? He’s an “enforcer” only too! NOT A HOCKEY PLAYER!).  Haley (two goals and an assist in 27 games…another non-hockey player) was not suspended! A player got into a fight, was summoned to the penalty box, but instead of going he decides to go attack somebody else? That’s worse than a blatant blind-side hit to the head in my mind. 

I love reading the box score for these two players. Gillies had 1:40 of ice time, but 34 minutes of penalties. Haley had 5:31 ice time and 39 penalty minutes.  Wow.

The biggest suspension? Ten games, given to the Penguins’ Eric Godard for coming off the bench to intervene in the fight between Haley and Johnson. The NHL disciplinarian said "There can be no circumstance that allows for a player to leave his bench for the purpose of coming to the aid of a teammate." Yet you allow players to get into full melees to defend their goalie when he gets knocked over by an opponent PUSHED INTO THE GOALIE BY THE OTHER TEAM! Contradictory. I commend Godard for protecting his goalie, like he and all other hockey players are taught. 

What does it say that this game was considered the most exciting game of the year? More people wanted to watch this game (due to the almost certain fighting that would result after the goalie fight nine days prior) than the Stanley Cup Finals (until now, where I’ll guarantee ratings skyrocket after the blindside hit and 3rd period brawls in game 3).  The score of these games? 9-3 and 8-1, respectively. Send a message by your play and your play alone. You won the game, and won big. There’s no need to cause brawl after brawl when your play has done that enough.

NBA. At least the full out punches being thrown from the “Bad Boy” days of 20 years ago is gone. But the tussles that result for pointless reasons are head-scratchers. I got fouled, so I’m going to go push some people around. I’m seven feet tall nobody’s going to stop me! And what’s the penalty for these on-court altercations? A technical foul. Big whoop. If I’m a player and that’s the penalty for giving somebody a bump after the play because they fouled me during play, my response would be, “Oh well I need six more before I miss a game!”

People like seeing these grown men cry and act like babies? Apparently, as the above youtube video showing the 2010-11 season’s “fights” has over 400 likes vs. 6 (now 7 that I’ve seen it) dislikes. And the NBA says they don’t condone this stuff? Letting them bump chests and trash talk and get into these altercations with the penalty being pretty much 1/7 of a suspension will do nothing to stop it from happening. Wake up.

Finally, NASCAR. I hear every week of a new fight with drivers (and now apparently owners, too). Racers spin each other out because they don't get penalized for it and won't crash themselves in the process. Then the following week when they are the ones getting spun into the wall they think they have the right to go attack somebody. Reporters discuss the fights and rivalries more than the racing itself. Again, if the fans and analysts want to worry about who's hitting who, then go watch boxing. (Seriously, how is boxing at an all-time low for ratings? every other sport has fights, fans want to see the athletes throwing punches without being restrained, so why not watch the sport that allows it?)  There's much better racing out there, but apparently fans like seeing racers throwing punches into the cockpit of another vehicle. Why? Beats the hell out of me.

Fans, if you want to watch fights, go watch boxing or MMA or something where fighting isn’t PART of the sport but the sport itself. If you want to watch hockey, baseball, racing, or basketball, then watch their respective professional (or preferably collegiate) leagues and DO NOT SUPPORT that which is not part of the game. There’s nothing in the rule book for these sports regarding fighting being legal, so why do we support it? I can’t wait until these playoffs are over so I don’t have to hear about who bit who and who fouled somebody too hard.