Saturday, April 07, 2012

Sports Saturday: 4/7/12

(I meant to publish this Saturday morning, but forgot, so some of this stuff might already be a bit dated...oops.)

When was the last time I wrote one of these, anyway?

In no particular order...

NHL - So, it's playoffs for the Carolina Hurricanes this season. And that means it's that time of the year again - time to start rooting for other teams for the next two months. (Given that the pro sports teams I follow pretty much all stink, this is a habit of mine.)

Let's start with my old flame, the Florida Panthers. This year they made the playoffs for the first time since, what, 2000? Sure, they've only won one out of their last nine games, but it takes a lot of skill to rack up 18 overtime/shootout losses in one season. That's almost one out of every four games! Quite impressive. Even the Hurricanes (16 OT/SO losses) are impressed. The Panthers are definitely taking advantage of those charity points, which are the only reason they're even in the playoffs. And thank goodness, too, given that the other Eastern Conference playoff contenders are the usual Northeast Corridor teams, whom I'm pretty much tired of.

A Stanley Cup contender, they are not. But if Florida beats Carolina today (or loses in overtime, which of course they are quite good at) and thus wins the Southeast Division and gets the #3 seed, maybe they can at least get to the second round? Otherwise, if they take the #8 seed - the Panthers will either be #3 or #8 depending on what happens today - they will most certainly lose to the Rangers, and quickly. So, sorry Caniacs, but I'm rooting against the local team today. It's for the greater good. Go Panthers! But just for the rest of this season. Carolina at Florida - Sat 7:30p, Fox Sports Carolinas

For other playoff rooting interests, I look west to Vancouver and Nashville, just like last year. And St. Louis, too. Or, you know, pretty much anyone else out west. Down with the Northeast!

Also this weekend, the NCAA hockey national championship (Ferris State v. Boston College - Sat 7:00p, ESPN2). Go Ferris State! CCHA represent! They normally have the "Frozen Four" up north in a traditional hockey market like St. Paul or Boston, but this year, it's in Tampa, of all places. Does this mean they could have the Frozen Four in Raleigh some day? Because that would be awesome. We're a hockey market too!

College basketball - A quick wrap-up. This year's NCAA Tournament may have started as the best ever (for me), but that faded quickly. The only really memorable game for me from the second weekend on was the Ohio/North Carolina overtime game (so close!). In the end, it ended up being the same old teams again. No Butlers or VCUs this time around, and no ACC teams made the Final Four, either, so I had zero rooting interests at the end. Meh. But you'll never take away Florida State's ACC Championship! (Well, the NCAA could...but Leonard Hamilton doesn't strike me as the type of coach who is quietly racking up NCAA violations.)

Golf - I don't have a whole lot to say about the Masters, except that I looked up Augusta National in Google Earth this week.

View Larger Map

One thing I've noticed about coverage of the Masters is that cheers from neighboring holes seem to be really loud, in comparison to at other golf tournaments. Is that just because of how CBS mixes the sound? Is a Masters crowd generally larger and/or louder? Or is the course kind of cramped? I think it's all three, and the Google Earth view helps shed some light on how cramped the course is. These holes aren't very far apart, and the 18th green is right next to...I think that's #9. And there aren't any trees or anything around these two greens, like, at all. But it looks "intimate" and/or secluded on TV anyway because of how many people are standing around the 18th green. Anyway, I just thought this was interesting. The Masters Tournament - Sat 3:30p and Sun 2:00p, CBS

MLB - Baseball is back! And it's an exciting time to be a Washington Nationals fan! For now. All fans are optimistic at this point, right? (Except for Cubs fans.)

Seriously, though, they have Stephen Strasburg for the whole season (maybe), a few other new pitchers, and...well, the offense is still going to struggle, probably, but it's a pitcher's league, right? Right? Well, regardless, I'm really looking forward to watching the team play this season. Thursday's opener was very exciting (for baseball), and I'm pumped. Washington at Chicago Cubs - Sat 1:00p and Sun 2:00p, MASN

By the way, this probably puts me in the minority, but I actually like the new Florida Miami Marlins uniforms, and especially their new stadium. It's all very "Miami". Everyone up north who is criticizing them just doesn't get that.

Auto racing - A quick Formula One thought. Team Red Bull is down this year, and Sebastian Vettel has zero wins in the first two races, so maybe we might actually have some excitement this year! So far, I have to give Jenson Button the nod - McLaren seems to have the most speed at this point, and unlike with teammate Lewis Hamilton, Button's races are usually drama-free.

Soccer - Finally, a confession. When it comes to soccer, I normally only ever watch national competitions, such as the World Cup, World Cup Qualifiers, or whatever. I almost never watch club soccer, whether it's the domestic league (MLS) or the various European Leagues. Well, the past two weeks, I've changed that. I've been watching the English Premier League! (Gasp!) And, the UEFA Champions League, too. (I was rooting for the French team. A lot of the sports people I follow on Twitter are of the nerdy type, and soccer must be popular with nerds, because they sure do seem to talk about soccer an awful lot.

I never realized how much European soccer is televised in this country, though. Not just the English league, but also the Spanish and Italian leagues, and of course the Champions League. I guess that makes sense, because there are multiple cable channels devoted to exclusively soccer, after all...but it would be nice if MLS were on U.S. television as often as the English Premier League is. I guess timing has a lot to do with it. When shown live, European soccer has the sports TV airwaves to themselves. 2:30 PM on a Tuesday? 10 AM on a Saturday? What other sporting events are on then? But when MLS is playing, there's usually a more interesting sporting event going on at the same time. Time zones or not, maybe MLS should play all of their games on weekend mornings.

But don't worry - I got bored with the Premier League and the Champions League pretty quickly. That was a fun two week curiosity.

1 comment:

Adam said...

I've been to one Masters (final round 2007)...and the holes are than close to each other.

Hearing the sound of a Sunday Roar in person is just as loud as it on tv, but even louder. What TV doesn't catch as well is the buzz that goes throughout the grounds after that roar and when the manual scoreboard updates the leaderboard.

it is very unique - and it is definitely something you won't forget.