Saturday, June 12, 2010

Sports Saturday: 6/12/10

On tap for today...
Soccer: World Cup mania!
MLB: Stephen Strasburg mania!
College sports: Conference expansion mania!
NHL: Stanley Cup mania!
College baseball: Super Regional mania!
Auto racing: Umm...

Soccer - It's World Cup time! Not only do I like sports (even if it is soccer), I'm also a geography nerd - when I was a 5th grader, I memorized every national capital in the world* - so I think the World Cup is awesome. (* - I don't think I memorized the capitals of all those obscure island nations in the Caribbean and the Pacific, but those don't count.)

The last World Cup left a bitter taste in my mouth, but that was 47 months ago, so I'm over it. Besides, that wasn't until the final. Group play is usually the most enjoyable part of the World Cup (for me), because we get to see all of those obscure countries play, and not just the traditional powers (Brazil and the top European teams). And considering that a game between two European powers - say, Spain and Italy - can be rather boring, I guess it's not all that bad that the entire knockout stage takes place during our upcoming Alaska vacation. Who needs Spain v. Italy? Boring - give me Algeria v. Slovenia! I actually am looking forward to that one, believe it or not. (Side comment: Slovenia's capital is Ljubljana, which I am proud to say I still know by heart. I wasn't able to spell it from memory, though - I spelled it "Ljubjlana". Close enough.)

Now...normally, by the time the USA is out and we're down to Brazil + Europe, I start rooting for France. But France played a rather dull 0-0 game against Uruguay yesterday, so I'm not really feeling that. Instead, I'll focus my energy on anyone not among the traditional European powers. Let's go, Australia! Come on, South Korea! Three cheers for Cameroon!

As for this weekend...we're going curling this afternoon, so I have to DVR the United States v. England match. Can I make it home afterwards without overhearing the result of the game? That's going to be quite a challenge, because I'm sure the result of the game will be a topic of discussion at the annual club meeting afterwards. But that's okay, because the USA still has games against Algeria and Slovenia, and both of those games happen before our vacation. Yeah!

Finally, here's another post from four years ago about why the World Cup is more enjoyable on Univision than on ESPN. I haven't changed my opinion since then, and it's true even more so now that ESPN has hired a bunch of boring British announcers to call the games. And best of all, I now get Univision HD (DirecTV added it in April). This means I'll be watching most of my World Cup action in Spanish. Goooooooooooool!

Sat 7:30a - South Korea v. Greece, ESPN / Univision
Sat 10:00a - Argentina v. Nigeria, ESPN / Univision
Sat 2:30p - England v. United States, ABC / Univision
Sun 7:30a - Algeria v. Slovenia, ESPN / Univision
Sun 10:00a - Serbia v. Ghana, ESPN / Univision
Sun 2:30p - Germany v. Australia, ABC / Univision


If you follow baseball, surely you already know that Strasburg's first career Major League start Tuesday night was pretty good: 7 IP, 2 ER, 14 K (Nationals team record), 0 BB, Win. The Strasburg hype has been kind of hard to avoid in the baseball world, and I think it's officially gone overboard. And in an effort to not contribute to the problem, I'm going to just leave it there.

Actually...that's no fun. I'm tired of hearing you all talk about Tim Tebow, etc. Now, it's my turn to annoy the crap out of you with obsession over an overhyped athlete. STEPHEN STRASBURG MANIA!!! AAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!

I have to admit, Tuesday's game was really, really fun to watch. Strasburg mania has gone so far that TBS is dropping its planned Sunday broadcast of Phillies/Red Sox so that it can air Strasburg's second start against Cleveland. I think it is AWESOME that a Red Sox game got bumped in favor of the Nationals. But unfortunately for some of you, the TBS broadcast of Nationals/Indians will be blacked out in Nationals home territory, which includes Raleigh. So just like with Tuesday's game, if you are a Time Warner Cable customer living in Raleigh, no Strasburg for you.

Sat 4:00p - Philadelphia at Boston, FOX (regional)
Sat 7:00p - NY Mets at Baltimore, MASN
Sat 7:00p - Washington at Cleveland, MASN2
Sun 1:00p - Washington at Cleveland, MASN2 / TBS*
Sun 1:30p - NY Mets at Baltimore, MASN
Sun 8:00p - Chicago White Sox at Chicago Cubs, ESPN

(* - National broadcast on TBS subject to blackout.)

College sports - There have been all kinds of rumors flying around about conference expansion the last couple of weeks. Nebraska to the Big Ten! Colorado to the Pac-10! Texas A&M to the SEC! No more Big 12! Aaaaaahhhh!

Personally...I'm trying not to get too worked up about any of this, especially all of the rumors. To me, these rumors have a similar feel to those ultimately false reports that "NCAA Basketball Tournament expansion to 96 teams is a DONE DEAL". So, until something is actually FINAL - like Colorado to the Pac-10 and Nebraska to the Big Ten appear to be, for example - I don't really believe anything I read.

I think all the hysteria does prove one thing, though: college football fans get bored playing the same teams every single year. A complete overhaul of the college conference landscape would be viewed as "fresh" and "exciting", because it would create some matchups that otherwise would never happen in football outside of a bowl game. As long as you keep traditional intraconference rivalries intact, I'd agree with that. Hell, let's just scrap ALL the conferences and start over from scratch, fantasy draft style! ... Actually, Florida State being a member of the ACC is great for me personally, given how much attention and television coverage the ACC gets around here. So, I'm fine with the way things are, at least in terms of the ACC. As for the rest of you? Go nuts!

NHL - Hockey season is over, and to the Chicago Blackhawks go the spoils. A couple of quick closing thoughts on hockey...

I wasn't sure a Stanley Cup-winning overtime goal could possibly be anti-climactic, but that's what this one was. Hard to get excited when nobody knows the goal actually happened. That was a little disappointing.

Hockey season actually isn't over: the AHL Calder Cup finals are still going on. Am I the only one who thinks it's dumb for the minor league season to end after the major league season?

Well, whatever...I've more than had my fill of hockey over the last eight months, and I'm ready for the off-season. See you in four months.

College baseball - Normally, I'm really excited when Florida State advances to the college baseball "Super Regionals" - eight best-of-3 series to decide who goes to the College World Series in Omaha - but this year, I'm not really feeling it. I only have so much brain capacity and DVR input wires, I guess.

On the other hand, if you like college baseball, this could be the best weekend of the year. Unlike last weekend, EVERY GAME is televised this weekend, although many will have regional coverage only. I think all of the regional coverage games will be broadcast on DirecTV alternate channels, though.

Sat 12:00p - South Carolina at Coastal Carolina (Game 1), ESPNU
Sat 1:00p - Vanderbilt at Florida State (Game 2), ESPN*
Sat 1:00p - TCU at Texas (Game 2), ESPN*
Sat 3:00p - Oklahoma at Virginia (Game 1), ESPNU
Sat 6:00p - Alabama at Clemson (Game 1), ESPNU
Sat 7:00p - Miami (FL) at Florida (Game 2), ESPN2*
Sat 7:00p - Cal State Fullerton at UCLA (Game 2), ESPN2*
Sat 9:00p - Arkansas at Arizona State (Game 1), ESPNU
Sun 1:00p - Vanderbilt at Florida State (Game 3 - if nec.), ESPN*
Sun 1:00p - South Carolina at Coastal Carolina (Game 2), ESPN*
Sun 4:00p - TCU at Texas (Game 3 - if nec.), ESPN*
Sun 4:00p - Oklahoma at Virginia (Game 2), ESPN*
Sun 7:00p - Miami (FL) at Florida (Game 3 - if nec.), ESPN2*
Sun 7:00p - Alabama at Clemson (Game 2), ESPN2*
Sun 10:00p - Arkansas at Arizona State (Game 2), ESPN2*
Sun 10:00p - Cal State Fullerton at UCLA (Game 3 - if nec.), ESPN2*

(* - Regional coverage)

Auto racing - I just realized that this post is really, really long, so I'm going to make this short:

NASCAR: I think Kevin Harvick wrecked Joey Logano on purpose.

Formula One (going back to the Turkish Grand Prix from two weeks ago): Why can't these guys pass each other without wrecking?

Sat 2:00p - NASCAR Camping World Trucks at Michigan, SPEED
Sat 8:00p - NASCAR Nationwide at Kentucky, ESPN
Sun 12:00p - Formula One Canadian Grand Prix, FOX
Sun 1:00p - NASCAR Sprint Cup at Michigan, TNT


Jared Lee said...

That 0-0 snoozefest between France and Uruguay on day 1 of the World Cup had to have been ESPN's worst nightmare come true. They're trying to get more viewers interested in soccer, and a 0-0 tie on the first day (right on the heels of a 1-1 tie, too), can't have been what they hoped for. I think a 1-1 tie is okay for them because then they can show replays of each team's goal from sixteen different angles, but 0-0 won't make more Americans want to watch.

James Allen said...

You forgot to mention the "Michigan 400" as announced by everyone's favorite old fogey Ken Squier.