Friday, November 16, 2012

Sports Friday: 11/16/12

People still read these things, right?

NFL - The Jaguars season has basically devolved into me rooting for the other bad teams in the league to win, so that the Jaguars can get the #1 pick on the draft next year. Don't want to let this season go to waste! Note the distinction - I'm not rooting for the Jaguars to lose; I'm just rooting for the other bad teams (e.g. the Chiefs) to win. I'd rather the Jaguars NOT lose the rest of their games and finish 1-15, but if they do, then they had better damn well get the #1 draft pick out of it. Jacksonville at Houston - Sun 1:00p, NFL Sunday Ticket

As it stands now, Kansas City is in line for the #1 selection. So....GO CHIEFS!!! Cincinnati at Kansas City - Sun 1:00p, NFL Sunday Ticket

One other game of personal interest: the Pittsburgh Steelers and their backup quarterback, Byron Leftwich, who gets the start this weekend with Ben Roethlisberger injured. Once upon the time, Byron Leftwich was the Jaguars' first round draft pick. He even led them to the playoffs one year (sort of)! But he had trouble staying healthy, and they cut him before the start of the 2007 season in favor of the slightly better David Garrard. (That was five years ago? Seriously?) Leftwich has floated around the league since then, but now, he's back in the spotlight! And I can't wait. You know, in hindsight, Leftwich wasn't so bad. As a Jaguars fan, I never thought I would find myself longing for the Byron Leftwich era. Baltimore at Pittsburgh - Sun 8:20p, NBC

College football - Big three weeks for Florida State: a chance to clinch a spot in the ACC Championship game today, a huge game versus Florida next week, and then, hopefully, the ACC Championship itself. They're big favorites today, but they did almost lose to a 4-5 Virginia Tech team, so I'm not taking anything for granted. Especially on the road. Florida State at Maryland - Sat 12:00p, ESPNU

Speaking of the ACC Championship, Duke still has a chance. I believe! Duke at Georgia Tech - Sat 3:30p, Fox Sports South

Indiana's bid to become Big Ten champions was over before it really got started last weekend. And this week, they're playing Penn State, so now I am waaaaay off the Hoosier bandwagon. Sorry, guys, but it'd be nice to see Penn State get back into the win column this week. Indiana at Penn State - Sat 12:00p, BTN

Auto racing - Before I get to NASCAR: I'm super pumped about the United States Grand Prix this weekend! Still, I can't help but be critical of something: the track design. Pretty much every new Formula One race track that has opened in the past few years has been designed by the same guy - someone named Hermann Tilke. As a result, all of these tracks basically follow the same formula: a couple of long straights separated by hairpins, plus a technical section of the track, equals a track 3 to 3.5 miles long. I guess my point is, unlike some of the F1 tracks that have been around a while (Monaco, Spa, etc), these tracks don't really have any character. I won't go so far as to call them cookie cutter tracks, but still, they all kind of race the same. There has to be at least one other person in the world who's capable of designing an F1-caliber track, no? … Well, regardless, I think Hermann Tilke has a pretty sweet gig. Formula One United States Grand Prix - Sun 2:00p, SPEED

Now...let's go back to what I wrote last week about Jimmie Johnson: "It really is interesting to see how Johnson's team manages to consistently avoid the random part failures and wrecks and the like that almost everyone else in NASCAR has to deal with." Well, he crashed last week. Whoops! Now he's pretty much screwed, unless Brad Keselowski chokes on Sunday, which is certainly possible (but unlikely).

By the way, of all the sporting events I watched last weekend, the NASCAR race (the second half, at least) was the most entertaining. (Even more so than the Rams/49ers tie!) Obviously, the Gordon v. Bowyer altercation was the main reason. Yes, I'll admit it, the "reality show" aspect of NASCAR can be kind of fun sometimes. One or two of these a year is okay, just as long as fights/etc aren't so common that it becomes part of the sport. You know, like hockey. NASCAR Sprint Cup at Homestead (season finale) - Sun 3:00p, ESPN

NHL (Wasn't that an awesome segue?) - So...is anyone going to blink? Or is the season history? Again, it's hard to predict these things in advance, since the outcome is entirely dependent on human behavior.

By the way, I recorded a college hockey game and a KHL game the other day. Couldn't get into it. See what you're doing, NHL? The longer you wait to get back on the ice, the less interested I am in the sport of hockey in general. You're lucky there happens to be an NHL team in my hometown, because that's the only reason I'm going to come back to your sport post-lockout.

College basketball - The start of college basketball season pretty much puts me at "sports saturation". So until college football season is over, I'm going to have to restrict my college basketball viewing to weekdays only, even when my teams are involved. Penn State and Florida State are both in tournaments of some kind this weekend, but I'll wait until next week to see how they did. Initial impressions: Florida State has already lost to South Alabama, and they will take a step back this year, but that's okay, as long as it's not too big a step. By that, I mean, 5th to 6th in the ACC would be acceptable this year. As for Penn State...well, I'm going to pretty much expect them to finish near the bottom of the Big Ten every year until the prove me otherwise. (Goooo team!)

So...a quick word about one of the local teams, NC State, who as it happens, soundly beat Penn State just yesterday. I don't really understand preseason rankings, or why NC State was preseason #6. Because they made the Sweet 16 last year and have a solid returning class? ... Actually, yeah, maybe I do understand preseason rankings. Strong finish at the end of last season + a healthy number of returning starters + a good recruiting class = preseason #6! Now...let's face it, any team ranked preseason #6 is more likely to fall short of those expectations than surpass them. But I don't think NC State fans would mind "falling short" as long as they stay ranked ahead of North Carolina and Duke, or even just North Carolina. (Early returns indicate that it may be a down year for the Tar Heels, relatively speaking.) Regardless, with three potentially good local teams, plus "my team" (the defending ACC champions, by the way), it could be a fun year in the ACC.

MLB - One closing thought on the Florida Miami Marlins. So, they won the World Series in 1997, and then got rid of their best players (fire sale #1). They won the World Series again in 2003, and then after two more years of at least contending for a playoff spot, they got rid of their best players yet again (fire sale #2). Then in 2012, they opened a new stadium and spent big, only to finish in last place; and after this week's trade with the Blue Jays, fire sale #3 is complete! It was one thing back in the World Series days, because they actually had me convinced that fielding a World Series-caliber team once every six years was a viable business model for a small market team. But this time, it's totally different, and it reeks of "bait and switch". You almost have to think this was the plan all along: talk the local community into building a taxpayer-funded stadium, spend a bunch of money at first to prove your "commitment" to fielding a winning franchise (we really mean it this time, you guys!), then after just one year - one year! - purge the payroll yet again. It's quite an incredible screw job they just pulled on everyone. Surely, you can't blame me for jumping ship a few years back, no?

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