Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Sports Wednesday: 7/24/13

I haven't written about sports in three months, because, well, meh. Actually, that's how I feel about this first item:

MLB - As you may know, I follow the Washingtion Nationals. They were expected to contend for a World Series this year, but instead, they're currently riding a five game losing streak sit at 48-52, 8 games out of first place.

My view in a nutshell: the pitching has regressed slightly since last year, and the offense has regressed significantly since last year. To put the offensive struggles in perspective, Bryce Harper - whom, whether it's actually true or not, we all view as the team's biggest offensive threat - batted 9th in the All-Star game, and I think his batting average was 50 points lower than anyone else in the NL starting lineup. That'd be one thing if he was a shortstop or catcher or something, but nope...he's an outfielder. And he's the best the Nationals have? No wonder they're losing. You know, maybe they should try juicing.

Now, normally I might get all butthurt about this, but you know what? Meh. I guess my Nationals affiliation isn't that strong after all, because it doesn't really pain me to see them lose. It's a pretty good situation for me, really. When they win, great! When they lose, then that just frees me up to pay attention to other sports from August through October. Pittsburgh at Washington - Wed 7:00p, MASN

Soccer - A while back, I declared Arsenal as my "favorite" English Premier League team, somewhat arbitrarily. Then last week, Shad Khan, the popular owner of my beloved Jacksonville Jaguars, goes out and buys an EPL team, Fulham. Now what do I do???

Well, I'm going to tell you: I'm reneging on that whole Arsenal thing. From now on, it's all Fulham for me. Come On, You Whites! (Apparently, that's their cheer. Could be worse, although I don't think that cheer would fly in Politically Correct America.) I never really had a good reason to root for Arsenal to begin with, other than that they were the least annoying of the top English clubs. But as a Jaguars fan who now has a good reason to root for a specific EPL team, I'm acting on it. Can you blame me?

"That's great, but didn't you also say that you didn't want to get stuck rooting for a mediocre team with no championship aspirations, no hope, and that stood a good chance of getting relegated in the next few years?" Yep. Well, I guess that's my destiny. You could do a lot worse than Fulham, though: they've been in the Premier League for 12 straight seasons now (going on 13), they finished 12th this past season, and most importantly, they score a decent number of goals.

That's the thing with European soccer, though. There are a lot of things I like about how their leagues are run, but one thing I don't like is that unless you're one of the big money clubs, as soon as a star player develops, you immediately sell him to the highest bidder. The business model for a club like Fulham is this: do just well enough to stay afloat, sell your breakout stars to the Manchester Uniteds of the world for a profit, and use that money to turn around and buy a few mid-level players from, say, the French league, who will only do just well enough in order to keep you in the top division. In other words, unless an obscenely rich Middle Eastern oil tycoon buys your team and is hellbent on spending hundreds of millions of euros/pounds/whatever acquiring top talent (ahem), your team is never going to even come close to winning the league. Contrast that to American sports leagues, where thanks to the salary cap, even "small market" teams like the Jaguars have a theoretical chance of winning the Super Bowl. (Emphasis on theoretical.)

Regardless, I'm excited about the Jaguars-Fulham "alliance", if there is such a thing. I can't wait to watch both teams this Fall! Even if they both stink.

CFL - Each week since the end of June, one or two CFL games has been broadcast live on NBCSN or ESPN2. It's been pretty nice. Some thoughts on what I've seen so far:
- Former Colorado Buffaloes coach Dan Hawkins (a complete failure at Colorado) is now coaching the Montréal Alouettes. So far, it hasn't gone well: one win in four games, including a loss to Calgary last week in which they (Montréal) led 24-0 after the first quarter. How did he get that job in the first place?
- Saskatchewan is killing it so far.

And, there you go. The next TV game is Edmonton at Montréal - Thu 7:30p, ESPN2.

NASCAR - One of the most anticipated races of the year is tonight: a Truck Series race at Eldora Speedway, a dirt track. It's the first time a national NASCAR series has raced on dirt in over 40 years. Which begs the question: why? I'd like to see more of this. One dirt race per year in Trucks, Nationwide, and Cup. Make it happen! NASCAR Trucks at Eldora - Wed 7:00p (heats) and 9:30p (main event), SPEED

1 comment:

James Allen said...

Shad Khan is a smart, smart man. Jaguars play 1 game a year in London, Fulham plays friendlies in Jax.