Friday, March 26, 2010

Site Change

J Fish Sports will be up for a little while longer, but will eventually move over to Sports Sabbath. It'll be my new home for writing, podcasting and the Sports Sabbath radio show. All the old archives will be over there, but there won't be anymore new posts at J Fish Sports.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Live NCAA Blog

Ugh. Woke up late due to St. Patrick's festivities. Have to do half of my office pool brackets by hand. On the flip side, listening to the much improved Jay Bilas. It has begun. All times are Central, by the way.

(11:44) Trying to figure out why Kansas City gets Notre Dame/Old Dominion. What control group decided this was better than BYU/Florida?

(11:47) Tim Abromaitis. The Greek God of Drunken Three Point Shooting.

(11:52) I saw roughly 6 guys at the bar last night dressed like Notre Dame's mascot. And I think no matter what game CBS was showing, I'd be mad at it. How can you not glance at those scores and wonder?

(11:57) Old Dominion playing awful. Not sure what this team does so well. Then again, I could say the same about Notre Dame. Neither of these teams winning their Round Two game.

(12:09) Four team parlay: Tennessee -3.5, Baylor -550, Butler -2, Michigan St. -1400. Somehow, only game I'm worried about is Michigan St.

(12:11) ROBERT MORRIS?!?!?!?! Jay Wright decided not to start Scottie Reynolds AND Corey Fisher. He surely has cash on the Robert Morris money line.

(12:21) About time to order a pizza. When you order online, there is a section labeled "Special Directions". I'm going to write "Pick up 30 pack of Bud Light. Big tip." It's worth a shot, right? If Villanova loses, I will need all 30 of those (I have KU over Nova in my Championship).

(12:36) Pizza ordered. It's much harder juggling a live blog, Tweet Deck, 3 Facebook chats and 3 box scores at one time, while watching the games. Even though I didn't pick Old Dominion to win (a lot of people did), I am rooting for them. Remember when Luke Harangody was good?

(12:50) There is a 15-2 upset in the making, and the winner of two of the past four Championships currently losing, but CBS gives me the Notre Dame game. Fantastic.

(1:05) OK. Pizza guy couldn't find my apartment and turned around, Villanova is still losing and I have no beer. Oh, and I'm hungover. What God did I piss off? The mighty Abromaitis?

(1:15) I admit, I haven't followed Notre Dame at all this season, but what's with Harangody? He doesn't even score until 12.6 seconds left in the game? This used to be a Player of the Year candidate.

(1:18) ODU just swished two free throws right after Bilas said "Old Dominion isn't a very goood free throw shooting team." Not that Jay is wrong, but any time you mention how bad/good a team is shooting free throws, the opposite will always happen.

(1:20) One game done, one "upset". Old Dominion wins.

(1:30) BYU is choking, as is Villanova. I might go 0-3 to start this tournament. I hate sports sometimes. However, if Robert Morris wins and Duke doesn't make the Final Four in what will be the easiest region in NCAA tournament history, you can pencil Coach K in as Phil Jackson's replacement in L.A.

(1:37) ESPN's GameCast isn't working. Yeah, the BYU/Florida game is great, but the Nova game matters more.

(1:40) That final possession by Florida is why I had them losing. A backhanded NC State tip-in to win the game? How did Billy Donovan win 2 titles?

(1:43) I was hoping Urban Meyer showed up to hang with his old Mormon peeps. By the way, if BYU pulls this out, they might not get a single rebound during the KSU game.

(1:50) CBS didn't switch to the Villanova game until 25.4 seconds left. You payed 6 billion dollars to show BYU? Really?

(1:57) Looks like BYU and Nova are gonna win. Now 2-1 instead of 0-3. Still, my pick of Nova in the Finals looks really awful right now. Also, how good of a start is this? One game goes into double OT and one game is currently in OT.

(2:11) So, a 62% free throw shooter passes up a wide open dunk/layup (closest defender was at the top of the key) to dribble around and waste clock. Clanks first free throw. That might be the dumbest play we see in the tournament.

(2:15) Bill Rafferty talking about Robert Morris: "They only lost on the scoreboard". Yeah, the only thing that matters.

(2:20) You're not cool by referring to Robert Morris as "Bobby" or "Bob" Morris. You are, in fact, a tool.

(3:09) Looks like Kansas State is going to supply the first rout of the tournament. And I live in Kansas, so I have to watch the whole thing. It's insane that Time Warner can't get a package for the NCAAs. Even then, they would probably switch to BYU post game analysis.

(3:30) Did not realize Bill Simmons was doing this exact same thing today. I'm not even going to try to compete. Have fun. I need to pay more attention to the games anyways.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

96 Problems, But This Ain't One

I'm not going to rant about how bad of an idea to expand the NCAA tournament to 96 teams is. Everyone - and I mean everyone - thinks it's awful. So let's just leave it there. What I want to focus on, and what I feel is the important subtext here, is what this idea and the ideas that come after mean for the future of sports.

Cesar Chavez said, "Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed." The social change in this context is the pursuit of television money. It is the hamster that spins the wheel. Everything you see, from Bob Knight struggling through broadcasts to TBS butchering baseball playoffs, is the result of a very lucrative piece of paper. And of course, this is what is pushing the 96 team bracket.

The only thing sports fans don't want more than this is the BCS. Well, guess what: the BCS is here to stay. And the tournament expansion will be here soon. We have to live with it, just like we had to live with over expansion in all the major sports.

If there were less teams in the NFL, NBA, MLB and (most importantly) the NHL, the games would be better. More teams means a more diluted playing field. The 12th man in a 20 team league sees significant playing time in a 30 team league. It's simple math, it hurts the sport. But we've accepted it. When's the last time you had a heated discussion about getting rid of the Raptors, Marlins or Jaguars?

I suspect we will get used to 96. Remember, the tournament wasn't always 64 teams. I guarantee you that teams like Kansas, North Carolina and Duke would have more banners if the postseason was more limited. Look at how it has progressed over the years:

  • 1939–1950: eight teams
  • 1951–1952: 16 teams
  • 1953–1974: varied between 22 and 25 teams
  • 1975–1978: 32 teams
  • 1979: 40 teams
  • 1980–1982: 48 teams
  • 1983: 52 teams (four play-in games before the tournament)
  • 1984: 53 teams (five play-in games before the tournament)
  • 1985–2000: 64 teams
  • 2001—present: 65 teams
The famous North Carolina State championship wasn't even in the 64 team era. UCLA's Wooden years? That's the 22-25 team era. The 64 we know and love isn't a staple, just a transitional period. The bigger the sport gets, the bigger the field.

We will learn to love it. Especially the first time #82 gets to a Elite Eight. Then you can expect the field to expand to 128. And we'll have this same argument over and over again. Is it for the right reasons? No. Will it matter in the long run? To quote Chavez once more, "There is no turning back".

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Official Sports Sabbath Website

Be sure to visit Sports Sabbath, hosted by UMKC's University News. Hear me talk shit, it's quicker than reading it.

Click here!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The NHL Versus Itself

Everyone is asking, will the NHL capitalize on the the popularity of USA vs Canada? And everyone is answering with a resounding "No!". I tend to agree. But the problem is that nobody is asking the right question. We all know nothing will change. The big question is: how does the NHL capitalize on the popularity of USA vs Canada?

I was excited to find out that the first game back for both Sidney Crosby (the game winner) and Ryan Miller (the MVP) would be - wait for it - against EACH OTHER. Imagine if during the Summer Olympics, LeBron James blocked Dirk Nowitzki's game winning layup during the gold medal game of USA vs Germany, and then two days later the Mavericks played the Cavs. I would be more excited for that than the actual Olympic game. But then I found out what I should've already known; the Crosby/Miller rematch was not going to be televised.

This is why the NHL will never make the jump. You cannot be a fan of that which you cannot see. It's why college basketball and football make billions but college baseball is a niche sport. The only time you see college baseball is during the College World Series, much like the Stanley Cup. It's time to get hockey on TV.

Of course, ESPN doesn't want it. Fox Sports probably doesn't either. But Versus shows NHL games. Why not make Versus just a hockey channel? Wouldn't a 24/7 NHL station get better ratings than reruns of "Wild and Wacky Sports" or whatever hunting program is on at ten in the morning?

All the NHL would need to do is request very little money from the channel itself. Let Versus keep all the profits. Why would Gary Bettman agree to this? Because the money he doesn't get from Versus would be made back tenfold from the increased fanbase. All you needed to do was by up a bunch of advertising on ESPN the day after, market the Crosby/Miller rematch, and watch the ratings soar. Have Canadian/American panels discuss the game for weeks. Bank on it.

Instead, the NHL is just going to hope that the game was good enough to get you hooked. It wasn't. You need big plans to become a big sport, and while baseball is begging someone to take them over, Bettman refuses to spend the money necessary to make the money hockey needs. He has to force-feed hockey into America's mouth. If left to choose, we'll take the NFL Combine over NHL playoffs every time. You know why?

Because the Combine is on television.
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