Monday, September 09, 2013

Sports Monday: 9/9/13

NFL - I was originally going to put something up on the blog last week, to the effect of: "The Jaguars are going to stink this year". But, I figured, maybe they should actually play a game that counts first before I pass judgment.

Time to pass judgment! The Jaguars have had some clunkers over the years, but, holy crap, that was bad. It was especially tough to watch their 28-2 loss to Kansas City when I flipped around to other games and watched other teams, you know, move the ball, and score some points. Seriously, watching a Blaine Gabbert-led offense compared to the rest of the league, it's like the Jaguars are playing a completely different game then the rest of the league. Everything that looks so easy for everyone else, looks so difficult for the Jaguars. And I know the team management wanted to give Gabbert one more shot to prove himself, and that it isn't entirely his fault (it never is, right?), but any notion of "Maybe Gabbert really isn't as bad as you all think!" reeks of confirmation bias to me.

Well, on the bright side...another high draft pick coming up next year, at which point they will, hopefully, draft a quarterback! That has to be the plan, right? Hope they get the right one. And, the defense actually isn't terrible, in my estimation. Regardless...this season is going to be really, really hard to watch. And those helmets won't make it any easier, by the way.

... Right before I clicked "publish", it was announced that Blaine Gabbert would miss this Sunday's game due to a hand injury. So, there's that. (He's bad, and injury prone!)

College football - But, hey, Florida State is pretty good! Sure, their first opponent was "just Pittsburgh", but it was on the road, and the Seminoles have lost their share of mid-level ACC road games like that one over the years. And the win was pretty convincing, too.

FSU's new quarterback, Jameis Winston, is awesome. It's so nice to be one game into a freshman quarterback's career, and NOT have to think, "We're stuck with this guy for four more years???" So, I'm plenty excited, although their upcoming schedule isn't all that interesting: Nevada, Bethune-Cookman, at Boston College, Maryland, bye week. Then, they play Clemson on October 19. That seems like an awfully long time from now. Nobody get hurt between now and then, okay? (Disclaimer: I acknowledge that they could lose between now and the Clemson game, but they'll be double-digit favorites in all of those games, right?)

As for Penn State...gotta be honest, I have no idea what their prospects are for this season. But, it's kind of nice to not have that burden of "expectations". I don't even know any of the players' names, including even the starting quarterback (Heisenberg?). So, I'm a pretty pathetic Penn State fan, really. But I'll always have that Master's degree on my wall (or wherever I keep it these days), so, Go State!

NASCAR - Time to complain about NASCAR again! I enjoy watching it, but every now and then, something really dumb happens.

So...the background. Last Saturday's race at Richmond was the last race before their contrived 10-race "Chase for the Cup", so Saturday was everyone's last chance to qualify. With a few laps remaining, things weren't looking good for Michael Waltrip Racing driver Martin Truex, Jr. Ryan Newman was leading and cruising to victory, and Joey Logano was far enough back such that he would fall outside the top 10 in points and need to use a "wild card" to make the Chase (Truex could only qualify via one of those wild cards). Truex basically needed Newman to not win, AND Logano to gain another couple of positions, to make the Chase. With only a few laps left, that certainly wasn't going to happen on its own...

So, Truex's Michael Waltrip Racing teammates helped him out. First, Clint Bowyer intentionally spun himself out (and it was pretty obvious upon review that it was intentional), triggering a caution flag that would ultimately cost Ryan Newman the win, and his spot in the Chase. Then, after the last restart, Bowyer and his other teammate Brian Vickers drove the last couple of laps very very slowly, specifically to allow Logano to gain those couple of spots that he needed in order to vacate the second "wild card" for Truex.

Well, on one hand, it worked, I guess. But on the other hand...drivers intentionally causing cautions and manipulating race results so as to help their teammates out? I try not to be the type to go crazy whenever someone games the system in sports - happens all the time, and it's part of it, regardless of the sport. (Steroids, anyone?) In particular, Bowyer/Vickers pulling over in order to change the finishing order in Truex's favor doesn't really bother me a whole lot. But, I think intentionally causing a caution flag so that it benefits your teammate should be penalized fairly harshly, especially in this circumstance. And, let's be honest: Bowyer and his team did a really crappy job of faking this. NASCAR has to set a precedent here to prevent other teams from doing the same thing, right? Unless we want to allow teams to freely cause caution flags, that is. Maybe instead of that, we should just give each team one "timeout". How about that? That's basically what we're doing, if there is no penalty.

(Actually, now that I think about it, giving each car one timeout per season might be kind of fun. When would you use it? When you're in 2nd place with 4 laps to go? When you need to get a lap back? Right after Jimmie Johnson makes a green flag pit stop?)

We'll see if NASCAR has the balls to do anything about it, though. I have my doubts, because NASCAR management has a tendency to be pretty tone-deaf at times, in a kind of insulting "Nothing to see here, move along, see you next Sunday!" kind of way. (Same goes for certain FOX TV personalities.)

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