Friday, August 06, 2010

Sports Saturday: 8/7/10

Despite the fact that it's a bonspiel weekend (i.e. curling tournament), "Sports Saturday" is back! Today's general theme is this: "Is it football season yet?"
- NFL: NFL Sunday Ticket - to buy or not to buy?
- CFL: Canadian football games are now on NFL Network. Good thing or bad thing?
- MLB: Season over?
- Auto Racing: I'm going to stay positive this time. Don't want to get fined!

NFL - Every year around this time, I go through the same decision process. Do I get NFL Sunday Ticket or not?

The last two years, I have not. I actually came close last year to pulling the trigger, until I discovered that getting the games in high definition would cost an extra $100, on top of the $280 base price.

So, what's different this year? Well...there are actually a lot of things working in Sunday Ticket's favor this time around. For one, the base price went up to $315*, but high definition is now included at no additional charge. ($315 was the "early bird" price; after July 31st it went up to $320.) $315 is still a heck of a lot of money for 17 days' worth of games, but here's the thing. While I am a devoted Jacksonville Jaguars fan, it's been seven years since I've been able to watch more than, say, four Jaguars games in a given season. I'm getting a little homesick in that regard. I want to get excited about the Jaguars again. That's the main reason I decided to pull the trigger on NFL Sunday Ticket in 2010.

I've passed on Sunday Ticket each of the last three years, but not this year! Let's do it just once and see how it works out. Also contributing factors to my decision: no major vacations planned this Fall; curling on Friday instead of Sunday; and increasing interest in the NFL in general, combined with decreasing interest in college football and NASCAR.

So, this fall, I'm going to watch more NFL than I ever have before. Party at my house! I have no doubt that I'm going to make the most of this purchase, but I still don't know if it'll be worth the price in the end. I hate the idea of giving such a large chunk of change to a business (the NFL) that certainly doesn't need the money, but we'll see. Either way...let's go Jaguars!

Sun 8:00p - Dallas v. Cincinnati (Canton, OH), NBC (Preseason games in any sport are usually pretty boring, but it's something, I guess.)

CFL - Continuing with the general theme...every year around this time, I'm pretty much ready for football season. Thankfully, the Canadian Football League satisfies my thirst by starting its season in early July!

Now...last year, CFL games were televised across various regional sports channels that I get with my super-duper DirecTV package. Typically, I received two games each week. This year, things are different: NFL Network has the exclusive U.S. rights for CFL games. This means games are in high definition, but it also means far fewer games: no more than one per week, including none in August. High definition or not, I much preferred last year's TV deal. And since I don't really need the CFL anymore once American football season starts, that basically means I'm done watching CFL games this year. Booooo, NFL Network!

MLB - At the beginning of the season, I wondered how strong my newfound interest in the Washington Nationals would remain once the Nats were "out of it". Well, that time has come: they're not completely out of it at this point, but basically, they're done.

So, here's the million dollar question: am I still watching? Earlier in the season, I average about 10-12 innings of Nationals baseball a week. Now, I'm averaging...oh, maybe 3-5. I think that's about right. In September, that figure will probably drop to about 0. Baseball is just a placeholder until football season begins anyway, right?

Well, it was fun while it lasted. The personal highlight of the season was Stephen Strasburg's debut; that was probably the most excited I've been about a baseball game since the Marlins were in the World Series. The personal lowlight of the season was some game against some team where some Nats outfielder let a sure flyout drop to the turf, allowing the tying and winning runs across the plate. I have no idea when that was, but the point is, the fact that I don't remember the details about that crushing loss should give you an idea of how I really feel about the Nationals. They were a nice diversion for a few months.

Actually, I'm going to fess up: I do in fact know at least some of the details of that crushing loss. That game was at Houston (June 3rd), and Cristian Guzman was the outfielder in right field who let the would-be 3rd and final out drop in the bottom of the 9th. Guzman isn't a right fielder, so what the hell was he doing out there, anyway? Ugh! Hmm...seems I care more about the Nationals than I thought. Uh oh.

Well, anyway...unless the Nationals go on a 10-game winning streak or something and insert themselves back into contention, I'm done talking about baseball this season. See you next April!

Sat 4:00p - Boston at NY Yankees, FOX (regional)
Sat 7:00p - Chicago White Sox at Baltimore, MASN/WGN America
Sat 7:00p - NY Mets at Philadelphia, MLB Network (regional*)
Sat 7:00p - San Francisco at Atlanta MLB Network (regional*)
Sat 10:00p - Washington at LA Dodgers, MASN2
Sun 1:30p - San Francisco at Atlanta, TBS
Sun 4:00p - Washington at LA Dodgers, MASN2
Sun 8:00p - Boston at NY Yankees, ESPN
(* - Not sure which MLB Network we're getting.)

Auto racing - NASCAR is going to be a casualty of my NFL Sunday Ticket purchase. Once NFL season begins, I don't think I'll be watching much NASCAR anymore this season. If anything, I'll record the races and then watch the last hour or so once the football games are done. The last hour is really all you need to see anyway, right?

Actually, this will work out pretty well, because in my opinion, the last five races before the "Chase" are usually the best races of the season. The drivers who are safely in the Top 12 are strictly going for wins, which makes for more exciting racing. Meanwhile, the battle for 12th is often much closer and more exciting than the actual "Chase" itself. So, I'm actually kind of excited about the next five races. Don't let me down, NASCAR!

One more NASCAR comment, about those secretive driver fines levied against Ryan Newman and Denny Hamlin: I have no problem with NASCAR fining its drivers for criticizing the sport. That's what they do in other sports, right? If I were NASCAR, I don't think I would have kept the fines secret, though. Any effort by the sanctioning body to cover something up is going to look bad, even if it's well-intentioned. In general, fans want transparency. And with today's viral media, everything gets out eventually. I think NASCAR's attempted cover-up, and all of the news stories and editorials that resulted from it over the last two weeks, were worse for the sport overall than the actual driver comments that warranted the fines. Maybe NASCAR should fine itself!

Meanwhile, in Formula One, I've decided that Sebastian Vettel is the Kyle Busch of NASCAR. Immensely talented, clearly the best driver in the sport, but he doesn't know how to handle himself. Despite the fact that he gave yet another win away last weekend, I still think he's the favorite to win the championship. Oh, and booooooo Ferrari for making Felipe Massa pull over for teammate Fernando Alonso a couple of weeks ago. Boooooooo!

Sat 2:00p - NASCAR Nationwide at Watkins Glen, ESPN
Sat 9:00p - NASCAR Camping World Trucks from Nashville, SPEED
Sun 1:00p - NASCAR Sprint Cup at Watkins Glen, ESPN
Sun 2:30p - IndyCar at Mid-Ohio, Versus


James Allen said...

Those type of shenanigans is why I refuse to watch F1. WRC FTW!

maplestar said...

NFL: Only time I've done something similar to that is one year of NHL Centre Ice when I still lived in Canada. It worked for me then, but I was single then...not as sure it will work now, although I'd like to try sometime...just need to have the cash free when a season I care about enough comes along.

CFL: I have to prefer this season. Last year (my first in the US), the only channel showing them in my area was Comcast Sportsnet, and it was difficult to find out when they would be airing (and the guide data couldn't always be trusted), sometimes joined in progress, and the picture quality looked like I was watching a gamed that had been taped on an over-used VHS tape. This year, a published schedule, live games, an HD picture that actually looks like it's an HD resolution.

Of course, it probably also helps that I don't follow the CFL as much as I used to. I found it hard to get excited after the trials we Ottawa fans had to go through with the Rough Riders and the Renegades.

MLB: Only works for me if I can devote the time to an entire game and keep a scorecard. Which usually means a lot of baseball in April and less as the season goes on (though with a likely uptick at World Series time...earlier if one of my teams beats the odds and has a chance of advancing to the post-season...not likely as a Jays & Orioles fan.

F1: This is my don't miss sport (although because of work, it's always watching the races from the DVR). This season's been the least exciting to watch (I think because of the lessened emphasis on strategy with the refueling ban), even if the championship has been more competitive than many seasons.

Oops...didn't mean to write a whole blog post in response!

Spartangoogle said...

I had a similar thought about S. Vettel/Ky. Busch - always somebody else's fault. I prefer F1 because, in part, I can watch the entire broadcast from 7:30A to 10:10 A - glad they're back on Speed. I now also check the box scores (SF Giants) to see how Buster (FSU) Posey is doing - now batting in the 350's. Mets are doing their usual fold. Let's go Jags!