Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Sports Tuesday: 2/12/13

It's been a while since I've done one of these, and I'll be out of town this weekend, so...let's see how my favorite teams are doing.

NHL - As of press time, the Carolina Hurricanes are leading the division! Wow! Then again, this is only the Southeast Division we're talking about, and they are only one point from being out of the playoffs completely as it stands now.

I'm actually pretty encouraged by what I've seen so far, at least offensively. Their best players, including the new guys (J. Staal and Semin specifically), have been living up to expectations. The defense - pretty much ignored completely in the offseason - hasn't been great, though; the Hurricanes are currently 5th in goals scored per game, and 23rd in goals allowed per game. But if the offense can keep the team afloat, I think this is a playoff team. I would consider even a first round loss in the playoffs to be a successful season. Just don't finish in 9th place again, please. Carolina at New Jersey - Tue 7:00p, Fox Sports Carolinas

College basketball - I'm not quite as optimistic over here, though. Florida State is 5-5 in the ACC, which isn't bad, but that's with a point differential of -76! Safe to say, thanks to Michael Snaer's late game heroics, the Seminoles are overachieving a bit. I've said this before, but Leonard Hamilton's defensive system means his teams rely more on experience than other teams would, and given how young the team is this year, this isn't the year. They should be better next year, though. Miami (FL) at Florida State - Wed 7:00p, ESPN2

Speaking of Miami (FL)...I've actually watched more Miami games this season than I care to admit. (Fun game: during a Miami basketball game, see how long it takes them to mention that Miami's Shane Larkin is the son of Baseball Hall of Famer Barry Larkin. Seriously, they mention it every game.) I don't know if they're "for real", because the ACC is pretty weak - NC State was clearly overrated in the preseason, no? - but they could do some damage in March. I've rooted against Miami (FL) ruthlessly in football over the years, but it's a little harder to do that with basketball, so I actually wouldn't mind seeing a Miami Final Four run. Actually, a Final Four of Miami, Florida, Michigan, and Ohio State - my four least favorite teams on the football side of things - is certainly plausible.

Meanwhile, Penn State is now 0-11 in the Big Ten. Anyone else longing for the Ed DeChellis era? 2009 NIT champs, baby! Memo to the Penn State athletic department: next time the basketball team makes the NCAA Tournament, you should instantly give the coach a lifetime contract. Iowa at Penn State - Thu 9:00p, ESPNU

Soccer - Ever since I started paying attention to European soccer last year, the biggest "can't miss" soccer game yet takes place this week, as far as I'm concerned. Not because of who's playing (Real Madrid and Manchester United), or because of what's at stake (UEFA Champions League Round of 16), but because of who will be doing the play-by-play on Fox Soccer Channel: Gus Johnson.

In the past, American networks taking play-by-play men from other sports and sticking them on soccer games has gone poorly. Similarly to hockey and NASCAR, soccer play-by-play requires a much different skill set and style than baseball/football/basketball. So, I can kind of understand why the "soccer purists" completely hate this. I'm definitely not a soccer purist, but I can understand why many people think it's only right to have British announcers calling European soccer games. Not only will a soccer-first announcer like Ian Darke do a better job (generally speaking), but in order to have a purely European-style experience watching the game - which is why many watch - you need an announcer with an English accent. You just do. It doesn't sound right to have an American call an English Premier League match, even if it's a competent American. That may be true with strictly European soccer, but I don't agree with the notion that we need Brits calling American soccer matches such as MLS games or World Cup qualifiers. (Speaking of which: whatever happened to JP Dellacamera? I liked him.)

On the other hand...it's Gus Johnson. How many of us have dreamed of what it would be like to have Gus Johnson call a soccer game? I have, and I can't wait. Sure, it could end up being a total disaster, but that would be okay, too, because then we'll all have another reason to make fun of Fox. Real Madrid v. Manchester United - Wed 2:30p, Fox Soccer

Makes me wonder, though: does this happen in other countries? For instance, who does the play-by-play for NFL games broadcast in other English-speaking countries like England and Australia? Do they use American announcers, or British announcers? If Sky Sports - or whoever broadcasts NFL games in England - replaced the American announcers with British announcers on their NFL games, would everybody freak out? Or do they already use their own announcers? Serious question.

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