Saturday, October 01, 2011

Sports Saturday: 10/1/11

We're on the clock! Once again, I'm only giving myself 30 minutes and counting to write this.


Wednesday was the last day of the regular season, and it was shaping up to be an exciting day, with two teams tied for the Wild Card spot in both leagues (Atlanta/St. Louis in the NL, Boston/Tampa Bay in the AL). I devoted my sports evening to watching the games. Then, with Tampa down 7-0 and Atlanta and St. Louis somewhat comfortably ahead, and a complete lack of interest in seeing Boston win, I went to bed. And, of course, I missed one of the most dramatic days in regular season baseball ever, with the Rays coming from behind to win, and the Red Sox and Braves coming from ahead to lose.

Oh, that would have been fun to watch. Problem is, most of this happened around well after 11 PM. And this is one reason why I can't really get into baseball. The games take too long, and most of the exciting stuff - especially in the later rounds of playoffs - happens well past my bedtime. I don't have the patience to sit through hours of boredom waiting for that amazing payoff in the end, which is what Wednesday night was for many. Exciting moments are made even more exciting when they're against the backdrop of what is usually a rather boring sport. As a fan of Formula One, I know this. Holy crap, a pass for the lead on the last lap! Best race EVER!!!! Except that this kind of thing happens in other sports on a regular basis.

Really, more than anything, I just feel kind of left out. It's been far too long since a team I cared about even got close to making the playoffs, and for me, that has always been the key to enjoying baseball: I have to care. If you care who wins, it's tense; if you don't care who wins, it's boring. When are the Washington Nationals going to make a playoff run, hmm?

As for the teams that are left, I'd like to get behind the Tampa Bay Rays if I could...but I make no promises that I'm actually going to get around to watching any of their games. Rays at Rangers, Game 2: Sat 7:00p, TNT


It was especially fun to watch when it was pouring rain, and the last-second first half touchdown was exciting. (Is anyone better than Jacksonville at scoring touchdowns with no time left?) But other than that...I think last week's Jaguars v. Panthers game showed that it's pretty hopeless for the Jags. They are 32nd in the NFL in passing offense, which these days is the most important stat. (Here's a stat I like: the Jaguars have 380 passing yards total through three games; Tom Brady has thrown for more than that in every GAME so far.) It's too bad, because they have a running game, and they have a decent defense. But they aren't good enough to carry their terrible passing game, so I think the season is hopeless. The decision to cut David Garrard before the start of the season has never looked worse than it does now. Although to be fair, it's not like the Jaguars are loaded at wide receiver, either. Chances are, even with Garrard, Jacksonville would still be 1-2. And crazy as it may sound, I think they have a chance - a small chance - of winning this Sunday. Why? Well, why not? New Orleans at Jacksonville: Sun 1:00p, DirecTV 711

As for Carolina: Cam Newton played only slightly better last Sunday than he did in the preseason, which is why I said he wasn't ready at the time. See? I'm not completely clueless here. Carolina at Chicago: Sun 1:00p, WRAZ 50

How about those 3-0 Buffalo Bills and Detroit Lions? Both teams are must-watch from here on out. Unfortunately, just like the Jaguars, pretty much all of their games are 1:00 games. Side note: CBS has assigned Andrew Catalon to do the play-by-play for the Buffalo at Cincinnati game. You may remember Catalon from NBC's Olympic curling coverage in Vancouver. Yay curling! Buffalo at Cincinnati: Sun 1:00p, DirecTV 704; Detroit at Dallas: Sun 1:00p, DirecTV 707

(Other local TV games: PIT/HOU, Sun 1:00p, WRAL 5. DEN/GB, Sun 4:15p, WRAL 5. NYJ/BAL, Sun 8:20p, NBC.)
(Other games: Sun 1:00p - TEN/CLE, WSH/STL, MIN/KC, SF/PHI. Sun 4:00p - ATL/SEA, NYG/ARI, MIA/SD, NE/OAK.)

(College football is farther down. I saved it for last this week.)

Auto racing

On the NASCAR front, I liked this article which talks about (among other things) the balance racing leagues must find between "parity" and "innovation". Allow teams to innovate in secret too much, and you get Formula One, which has zero parity and in which Sebastian Vettel wins practically every race. Allow teams to innovate too little, and you get NASCAR (and perhaps IndyCar as well), in which all the cars pretty much run the same speed, and teams must resort to strategy in order to gain an edge. Most recently, this has meant that NASCAR teams are relying heavily on fuel mileage and pit strategy in order to win races, as you can gain far more track position that way than you can by, you know, having a faster car. There has to be a happy medium somewhere, don't you think?

I think the Atlanta race was the most entertaining NASCAR race in recent memory (since the summer). Why? Because the track was loose and the tires wore out quickly, and that combination makes for some great racing. The other NASCAR tracks, and tire supplier Goodyear, should have taken note of that. Create a tire that drops off quickly (but not to the point of wearing all the way down the cords or blowing out), and/or make the track rough so that it wears the tires quickly, and you'll have yourselves a great race, as opposed to the fuel mileage derbies we've been having. I personally don't mind a strategy race, but much of the NASCAR fan base thinks the fuel mileage game is getting old. NASCAR Sprint Cup at Dover: Sun 2:00p, ESPN

College football

Five more minutes! Starting with Clemson/Florida State from last week: as I suspected, it looks like FSU is indeed back to the "status quo" of the last few years. I think 8-4 is a reasonable expectation from here on out. Meanwhile, if Clemson wins today, I think the sky is the limit for them. They really impressed me last week; Clemson won that game more than Florida State lost it. I'm not saying they'll go undefeated; there are too many decent ACC teams for that. But Clemson can definitely compete for the ACC title. Clemson at Virginia Tech: Sat 6:00p, ESPN2

I'm glad Penn State is done with their MAC portion of the schedule. Time for some real football. Although Indiana can easily be mistaken for a MAC team at times. Penn State at Indiana, Sat 12:00p, ESPNU

Welcome to the Big Ten, Nebraska! As your welcoming gift, we're going to make you play your first conference game at Camp Randall Stadium. Oh, and did we mention that it would be at night? Have fun! Nebraska at Wisconsin: Sat 8:00p, ABC.

At last: Florida's first ranked opponent of the season. Alabama at Florida: Sat 8:00p, CBS

Other games I'm semi-interested in:
Georgia Tech at NC State: Sat 3:30p, ABC (Regional)
Michigan State at Ohio State: Sat 3:30p, ESPN (Regional ABC)
Washington at Utah: Sat 7:00p, FSN
North Carolina at East Carolina: Sat 8:00p, CBS Sports

1 comment:

Spartangoogle said...

Nice to see MSU beat OSU...guess we caught them at a suspendsful time!