Saturday, April 24, 2010

Sports Saturday: 4/24/10

In today's issue: NFL, NHL, NASCAR, MLB.

NFL: I'm leading off with the NFL because it's the most popular sport, not because it's the sport I'm most interested in this weekend. I'm surprised I've never really talked about this at length before, but I think the NFL Draft is boring. I haven't watched it in years.

I know the NFL Draft is very popular, and many fans have spent the last few weeks analyzing value boards, mock drafts, trade scenarios, scouting reports, and so on. If you enjoy that sort of thing, then more power to you. But if you're like me and have spent the last two or three months basically ignoring all things NFL (as I do all sports during their respective offseasons), then the Draft is kind of boring and dumb. Here's my take on all of this.

First off, the Draft is boring to watch, especially if you're like me and don't know who most of these players are. Lots of people sitting around talking. Then...oh, my goodness, the next team is about to pick! "With the 6th selection in the 2010 NFL Draft, the Seattle Seahawks select Russell Okung, offensive tackle, Oklahoma State." Meh. Whatever. As much college football as I watch, I don't know who most of these players are. I guess that's part of the appeal of the draft for many hardcore fans: they've been following this for months, they know who all the top college football prospects, and it's neat to see who goes to which team. But I don't know who Russell Okung is, so I don't care. As far as I'm concerned, the Seahawks may as well have drafted Glenn Beck.

But here's the thing that bugs me the most about the Draft. When the Draft is over, there are no winners or losers. Sure, so-called "experts" will try to give each team a "grade" based on how "well" they drafted. But how will we know how well each team drafted until the players actually get into a game? The fact is, we have no idea how well any of these players are going to do in the NFL, and it will be a few years before we find out for sure. Any present draft analysis is simply meaningless speculation and guesswork, and I can do without all that. I have a similar opinion about college football recruiting, which I pay even less attention to. Having the so-called "number one recruiting class" means nothing. NOTHING. I watch sports because I like watching opposing forces fight for a common goal, a goal only one side can achieve. And if the manner in which a victor is determined is fair, interesting, and pleasing to the eye (which football and hockey most certainly are), bonus! But with the Draft, there are no winners or losers. Boring. What else is on?

NHL: Ah, here we go. This is the time of the year in which I watch the most hockey: the end of the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. I try to catch every elimination game that I can, and in the first round, there are obviously lots of elimination games to be played. Hockey overload! Shoot, I even stayed up for the end of Thursday's triple overtime game between the Penguins and Senators. (Well, sort of. We got home from curling just as the third overtime started at about 11:30. I figured it was already late, so what harm is there in staying awake for another 15-20 minutes or so? I would not have stayed awake for a fourth overtime, however.)

Once the second round starts, I'll probably dial it down a bit...but until then, I'll try to catch at least some of all five of this weekend's games. (Except the Sunday night game, which will end well past my bedtime.)

Sat 3:00p - Nashville at Chicago (Game 5 - tied 2-2), NBC
Sat 7:00p - Pittsburgh at Ottawa (Game 6 - PIT 3-2), Versus
Sat 10:00p - San Jose at Colorado (Game 6 - SJ 3-2), Versus
Sun 2:00p - Phoenix at Detroit (Game 6 - DET 3-2), NBC
Sun 9:00p - Vancouver at Los Angeles (Game 6 - TBD* 3-2), Versus

(* - I recorded this game last night and don't know the result yet. Not sure if I'm actually going to watch it, though.)

NASCAR: So, last week, I talked about how dumb it is to watch a four hour NASCAR race from start to finish when the first three hours of the race are basically meaningless. Last week's Sprint Cup race at Texas held true to form, and no other track follows suit as much as this week's venue, Talladega. With tight packs, frequent passing, and frenzied finishes, at no other track is the first half of the race as meaningless as it is at Talladega. So, more of the same, right?

Actually...I have a completely different take on Talladega. In this case, I have two good reasons to watch the entire race. One, unlike at a track like Texas where everybody gets strung out, every stays in the same pack at Talladega. Even if you know in the back of your mind that what happens on lap 30 has no bearing whatsoever on who will finish where, it's still fun to watch everybody race door-to-door, nose-to-tail for 500 miles. At least, I think so. But the biggest reason to watch from the green flag onward is because a huge crash can break out at any time. The ever-present threat of a major accident is enough to keep me on the edge of my seat for the entire race. Yes, I admit it: I like the crashes. If the "Big One" doesn't happen this Sunday, I'll be very disappointed.

Sat 3:00p - NASCAR Nationwide at Talladega, ABC
Sun 1:00p - NASCAR Sprint Cup at Talladega, FOX

MLB: I've watched bits and pieces of a couple of Washington Nationals games this past week: Sunday's game against Milwaukee in which they trailed 10-0 in the first inning, and Tuesday's game against Colorado in which they trailed 10-0 in the third inning. Gooooo Nats!

But despite those two efforts, they're still a respectable 9-8. I'll take that.

Sat 1:00p - LA Dodgers at Washington, MASN
Sat 4:00p - NY Yankees at LA Angels, FOX (regional)
Sat 7:00p - Baltimore at Boston, MASN
Sat 7:00p - Chicago Cubs at Milwaukee, WGN America
Sat 9:00p - Seattle at Chicago White Sox, MLB Network
Sun 1:30p - Baltimore at Boston, MASN
Sun 1:30p - LA Dodgers at Washington, MASN2
Sun 2:00p - Chicago Cubs at Milwaukee, TBS
Sun 2:00p - Seattle at Chicago White Sox, WGN America
Sun 8:00p - Atlanta at NY Mets, ESPN

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