Thursday, April 29, 2010

Honest Names for Leagues

NHL: No one Hardly Listens or Watches

MLB: Mostly Yankees, Sawx, Cubs, Dodgers, Cards, Phillies, Angels, Mets League Baseball

NFL: Now America's First Love

NBA: New York for LeBron's Free Agency

MLS: Major League Soccer?

NASCAR: Not All Southerners Can Afford Racing

PGA: P***y Getters Anonymous

NCAA: Not Completely Amateurs, Are they?

MMA: Meatheads Mauling All Comers

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Third Best Playoff

It's rather widely accepted that March Madness is the best postseason in a sport that America watches. After that, America's favorite sport comes in with the second best playoffs, culminating with the Super Bowl. To make things a little more expansive, in the search for the third best postseason, we'll include the NHL, NBA, MLB, NCAA Football, NCAA Hockey and NCAA Baseball. I don't really understand how NASCAR or PGA postseasons work, so they must not be that exciting. I think that European soccer has some cool second seasons but I really pay no attention to that sport besides once every four years.

The NBA and NHL postseasons have our attention now and are the most similar of any of the playoffs with each league accepting 16 teams and having four best-of-seven rounds to determine the winner. They both can drag on forever with at least one day off between games meaning a seven-game series can last two weeks. Comparatively, in 10 days, March Madness takes its field from 64 to 4. The Larry O'Brien trophy is gorgeous, but no trophy, in sports or entertainment, has the appeal, history and aura of Lord Stanley's Cup. There is a lot to like about G7s in both leagues, especially in the NHL, it's just 60 (+) minutes of the highest level of intensity, but there's a lot to hate about leagues who include more than half their teams compete for the 'ship. The NBA's superstars are great enough to win at least a game in each series which ca give life to an otherwise uninteresting series. Hockey starts aren't on the ice enough to have that same control over a game, save the goalies. Watching a netminder stand on his head for 3OTs to will his team to a win is incredible. I give the edge to the NHL because of its OTs and The Cup.

MLB has once of the more exclusive, and shorter, playoffs, with only eight teams invited and the maximum of 19 games (12% of the season length) over three rounds played by the champion. The Super Bowl teams can play in four games, 25% of the regular season; NBA Finals/NHL Stanley Cup teams can play in a ridiculous 28 games, good for 34%(!) of the first season. NCAA Football has the shortest with a one-game championship. Back to baseball, the problem here is it
becomes a very different animal from the season. Teams drop from five-man to three- or four-man rotations and there are often more days off during a single series than were in the final month of regular ball. The big advantage that baseball postseason has over other sports is the aforementioned shortness of it. It's not a two-week plus commitment to watch a series and there isn't ever more than four of them going on at a time. Extra inning baseball has the highest level of sustained stress after OT hockey. We'll keep this one in the bronze medal consideration, for now.

NCAA Hockey and the Frozen Four are great (though not so much to my 'Hawks the last few years) because they have the single-elimination rush of March Madness and the NFL, with the stress level and potential for goalie greatness of a NHL G7. It pits 16 teams against each other in four random first round cities (Ft. Wayne, Worcester) then takes a week off to let March Madness reign before going to a sometimes awesome (DC, Minneapolis, Tampa), sometimes awful (Detroit, Boston) city for the Frozen Four. If college hockey was a big enough deal for people that ESPN would actually send HD cameras to more than one first round site, I think people would love this format. I say we keep it in the conversation for a little while longer based on the potential for ultimate heartbreak/elation at any given second.

The College World Series, the only postseason event in this discussion held at the same place every single year. Very unique in that sense and also very traditional. Until you remember it's in Nebraska. Does that add or detract from its coolness? Even in the most obscure years, the championship game in any playoff is at least played in a city major enough to have its own pro team (Edmonton, Tampa, Orlando, Pittsburgh, etc.). Omaha, Nebraska...really? I don't know how I feel about this until I get up and go one year. I like the potential for something really wacky to happen in the CWS like Miami scoring 35 runs in a game, a Texas closer throwing 169 pitches in a 25-inning classic or a real Cinderella like Fresno State winning it all. This is a phenomenal postseason that I feel gets lost in the fray of the dog days of summer. It's too bad, but between the somewhat confusing double-elimination format leading into a three-game championship and metal bats hurts the overall effectiveness of the idea. Dropping them from consideration.

BCS. I don't really feel like this can be in the conversation for third best playoff, but felt obligated to discuss it because NCAA Football is big business. Well over half (35 bowls = 70 teams) of the 120 D1A/FCS teams are invited to the postseason, but (haha!) only two - sometimes three - teams have a chance at the National Title. It's archaic, traditional, and the source of oodles of controversy, though it is pretty cool that 35 teams can finish their season saying they won their last game and take home a trophy of varying size and significance. Not cool enough, however, to be in the conversation for third.

After considering all of this evidence, the finalists are: the MLB playoffs, The Stanley Cup Playoffs and NCAA Hockey's Frozen Four. Each has its strengths and weaknesses, and I'd be happy calling any of these formats bronze medal winners, but this blog is about making decisions.

....Stanley Cup Playoffs! Goalies taking over series; 2OT, 3OT and 4OT games; Handshake Night; Conn Smythe Trophy; The Cup lift. The NHL, as irrelevant as it is during the regular season, it really has it's stuff together come spring.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Mock Draft (AKA Return of The Pelican)

What a guy! Here's the subject line of Pelle's email to me when I asked him to do a quick mock draft: "dont have time to post this - had to write it in an e-mail to look busy"

1. RamsBradford – Franchise QB that a lot of teams love, St. Louis needs a savior now before Roger Goodel suggests they pack their bags and head to LALA Land.

2. Lions – Suh – Dominant force, especially with Jim Schwartz drafting him, this should be a no brainer. They added Corey Williams and Vanden Bosch in Free Agency too – Adrian Peterson is going to have a hard time running against the Lions from now on.

3. Bucs – McCoy – Bucs have the easiest pick of the draft. The pick was made for them. If McCoy is a bust – it’s really not their fault anyways – who wouldn’t take this guy here.

4. Redskins – Williams – Flying up draft boards, is now the top tackle in the draft. Skins now have a franchise QB that is in his 30’s – need to protect him. Plus Chris Samuels is basically dead.

5. ChiefsBerry – In 3 years the Redskins, Bucs, Lions and Rams may have wished they took this guy – could be the next Ed Reed.

6. Seahawks – Okung – Cost himself a million or two by skipping the senior bowl – questions were not answered, but he is a beast and a little coaching may have this guy blocking in Pro Bowls for years.

7. Browns – C.J. Spiller - Best offensive player in the Draft. Marshall Faluk type player, can catch better than any receiver the Browns currently have. This is a guy that you can run your offense through. You don’t need a very good QB to hand the ball off and dump screens and flats all day. Gave them Spiller, but I expect the Browns to Trade out of this pick since they don’t really like anyone here except for Eric Berry – They’ll take Earl Thomas in the teens if they can.

8. Raiders – Bulaga – The Robert Gallery sequel? One writer called this guy a meat and potatoes guy, something the Raiders could use – A country boy who will listen and stay out of trouble.

9. Bills – Clausen – If the Bills don’t take Clausen then he may fall, fall, and fall. Not sure why, I think he is going to be pretty good in this league.

10. Jags – McClain – The Jags don’t want to pick anyone here, they just want to acquire another pick and trade down and get the best player available in the 12,13,14,15 area – The Giants may be a possible candidate to trade up here. For now I’ll give them McClain.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Comerica Park Review


Sup peeps? Sorry it's been a sad week-plus after watching my team get curb stomped in the Frozen Four. I did get to party in a poorly lit tent in downtown Detroit (without being stabbed!!) before getting to take in the Tigers game last Saturday. Being it my first visit to Comerica, you know I had to give the people a stadium review.

It's a very pretty park. The excessive amounts of tiger-gargoyles (targoyles?) do detract some from the overall feel. There are big ones, small ones, ones in places you'd expect and others you wouldn't. I looked over my shoulder in the bathroom to make sure there wasn't a tiger-kitty peeping. The concourses were very open and wide, making it easy to walk through during crowded days. I thought the Ferris wheel and merry-go-round were tacky, but I'm sure I'd like it if I had kids running around. The grand entrance is very cool (pictured above) and the downtown area surrounding the park wasn't as abandoned as other parts of Detroit seemed to be.

I had a Mucho Nacho. Delicious and sloppy. Thanks to the girls next to us who Jetered me with a pair of wetnaps I didn't have to . Yes, I did just use Jeter as a verb to mean 'come through in the clutch.' Get used to/over it. Prices weren't ridiculous and there were guys selling seeds, peanuts and Big League Chew for cheap outside. I really liked that The Jake had Brooklyn Lager for sale when the Yankees were in town and would recommend that other parks buy a few cases of a beer local to the visitors to pump up sales. There was none of that in Detroit, but I did have a LaBatts that was the coldest beer I have ever had at a ballpark. If they can keep that up - or down, rather - that's a huge bonus for July-August.

Not badly priced at all. $12 for some uppers. The market is off because of Detroit's main (only?) industry is up the river. There was nary a scalper with more than singles on 40 degree, windy opening day, but foul balls were clanging through empty sections all over the park during the gorgeous Saturday that hosted the second day of the game.

The bathrooms were clean, but they were not very big. For a 60% capacity crowd, I didn't expect to have to wait to hit the head as long as I did. Fans around us were friendly and the PA guys were alright. The Chinese New Year celebration before first pitch was a little bit weird. Maybe because it had nothing to do with baseball, maybe because Tigers fans are a late arriving crowd and there were seemingly as many people on the field as in the stands.

Great ballpark in a city experiencing some very difficult times. I would go again, but only to see the Yankees. The tiger's roar sound effect after a HR is a little HSish.


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Detroooooooooooooooit Hoooooooooooockey

Can't wait to give knucks to this statue

Heading to Detroit this weekend with aspirations to see a Miami RedHawks National Championship. Check out MITM early next week for a review of Comerica Park and Ford Field (in a hockey setup). Listening to Eminem, Kid Rock and KISS all day to get fired up. My predictions for the weekend: Miami over Boston College, Wisconsin kills RIT, Miami takes home the 'ship and my friends and I experience a euphoric weekend.


Monday, April 5, 2010

2010 MLB Predictions

Here are 19 Predictions about the 2010 Major League Baseball Season.

National League
I like the Phillies(1), Cardinals(2) and Giants(3) to win the divisions with the Dodgers(4) grabbing the Wild Card. I have the Cards(5) making it to the World Series and Matt Cain(6) winning the Cy Young, Albert Pujols(7) capturing the MVP and Bruce Bochy(8) earning top skipper honors.

American League
The Yankees(9), White Sox(10) and Mariners(11) will represent each division with the Red Sox(12) picking up the Wild Card. King Felix(13) takes the Cy Young, Mark Teixeria(14) is crowned MVP as he leads the Yankees(15) to the Fall Classic, and Don Wakamatsu(16) is named Manager of the Year.

Bottom Line
The Pirates(17) will again lose 100 games and have the worst record in the Bigs and I believe the Yankees(18, 19) will have the best record and win the World Series.