Friday, August 27, 2010

The ultimate sports fan's wish come true

So let's just say you're taking a walk, minding your own business, when you notice this shiny object off the path.  You go to investigate and discover what looks like an old trophy but you cannot make out the inscription on it.  You rub your shirt sleeve on the inscription to clean it off, which makes the trophy shake violently; and then out pops this ghostly figure who claims to be a genie but not like any genie you've heard of -- it claims to be a sports genie and is willing to grant you one wish.
The genie tells you that he can change sports history with a toss of a coin; he'll let you change the outcome of one sporting event and one event only.  He warns you to pick wisely because changing the outcome of one game may change the outcome of unforeseen others thereafter, and he also tells you that you cannot pick a game that was a blowout.  So if your team made a trip to the Super Bowl, for instance, and got squashed, you'll just have to live with that; but if a play or two (or a blown tire) would have likely made all the difference in the world, then pick that game you may.
Don't let me down...I'm expecting some good choices and interesting explanations.

Editor's note:  I could've done this with one play, which in some ways would've been more interesting and maybe something we can do later; but I felt there's too many ifs for a simple conversation.  Example, if Buckner fields the ball, is that enough?  If Stanley doesn't throw the wild pitch, etc.  But you know if you pick game 6 of the '86 World Series, the Red Sox would've won.
Believe it or not, I'm still pondering my choice.  There's lots to choose from -- countless playoff games between the Bruins and Canadiens, '86 WS, '78 one-game playoff Sox vs Yanks, game 6? of the '03 playoffs Sox vs Yanks but I am leaning toward the Patriots' lost Super Bowl to the Giants and I'll explain if that's the one I choose.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Quick Sports Thoughts

Just a few quick thoughts about a couple of things about sports stories.

1.  The upper midwest's crisis has been averted because of the Brett Farve solution being resolved with him returning for 2010.  I hope that the Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions follow the New Orleans Saints gameplan during the NFC Championship game last year and punish Farve during the game.  That way I don't have to hear about his semi-retirement after this year.  He will walk away and the Vikings will still be without a Super Bowl title.  The best of both worlds for me.

2.  The WAC/Mountain West trading of teams.  College football is still going through a transformation.  The fact that these are non-BCS conferences should not matter because the Mountain West will become a automatic qualifier in the BCS within 5 years.  Take a look at the Big 12 compared to the Mountain West with the teams left and I would take the Mountain West as a whole over the Big 12.  The WAC looks like it will close it's doors.  I believe that they are down to 5 schools now.  Idaho, Louisiana Tech, New Mexico St., San Jose, and Utah State just aren't eye catching to the average fan.  But they could become members of the new Mountain West or West Coast Conference.  After all, I am sure that the Mountain West will be raided by the Big 12 and Pac 12.  And that in turn will lead more expansion by the other prestige conferences.  Just expect that the conferences to expand and shrink yearly for the next couple of years.

3.  Roger Clemens being charged with perjury in front of congress.  Well, it is about time.  He was a juicer and that will always taint his career.  Just like Bonds, McGuire, and A-Rod, Clemens will not get into the Hall of Fame because of his steroids use.  And if his boy, Andy Pettitte, decided to testify that Clemens told and showed him about steroids, then it is reasonable to think that Clemens was guilty of using steroids, lied to congress about that and should be black-balled.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Vindication For The Whalers Via Sales

The NHL team that I grew up supporting from the plains of South Dakota went the way of extinction in 1997.  Even though I support the Carolina Hurricanes which came into existence from the moving of the team out of Hartford, I still long for the Blue, Green, and White of the Hartford Whalers.  I still have Brass Bonanza playing every week on my computer, that was the song that played when the Whalers scored a goal at home.  And yet even though the team was moved and changed their name, maybe just maybe us Whalers fans are a resilient lot.  We have proved it not on the ice, but in sales of NHL apparel.  From the Hartford Courant.

The line of thousands of Whalers Fans wearing jerseys and T-shirts with the team logo on Saturday at Rentschler Field was a testament to the lasting popularity of the team and its merchandise in Hartford.
But Whalers goods are hot sellers beyond the hometown market – creating an oddity that's hard to explain. After all, the Hartford Whalers haven't touched hockey stick to ice in 13 years, and the team never made it further than the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
We usually came up on the wrong end of those cheaters from Boston, but we Whalers fans are loyal to our team!  
And yet, all these years later, newly made Whalers jerseys, T-shirts and caps are among the hottest sellers of all NHL teams.
"It's been one of the top lines, and it's not just Connecticut," said Marc D'Amelio, an East Coast sales representative for Mitchell & Ness, a major vendor of Whalers T-shirts, jackets and caps. "Nationally, it's in the top five, no problem."
The Whalers can't touch the champion Chicago Black Hawks this year, but the distinctive blue, green and white merchandise could easily tie with the Detroit Redwings, Boston Bruins and New York Rangers, D'Amelio said.
Oh yeah baby!  The Whale is here to stay.  The Whalers can rival the sales of the juggernauts in the league and they have been gone for over a decade.  Sort of tells you how inept the NHL marketing machine is for the clubs.  Also tells you that the fan bases in Boston and Toronto are soft as hell.  Just had to tweak RJ and Zebster.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A plan for the NASCAR Chase

A friend of mine and myself went out for lunch today and I found myself talking sports with him and the subject of NASCAR came up. While I haven't watched any part of a NASCAR race since Gateway and the Edwards spin of Keselowski, we were talking about how the Chase was starting to become changed yet again. So in honor of that conversation, I have some changes that I believe would help the Chase format.

The first one is one that I take from Darrell Waltrip. He advocates that you have a minimum of 12 drivers in the chase, and the 1st criteria to place those drivers into the chase is that they had to have won a race that season. I agree with that. So if you have 15 winners, you have 15 people in the chase. If you only have 10 winners, then the 2nd criteria comes into play, points. The 2 drivers that have the most points without a win after the "regular season" is over become drivers in the Chase. Therefore you have 12 drivers minimum heading into the chase and can have as many as 26.

The 2nd change that I would have is the points system. Start everybody out at 0 points that qualifies for the chase. Then start from 15 points for the best placing chase finisher and go all the way down to 1 point for the 15th best chase finisher for each race. 16th place and back get no points. No advantage for finishing 1st in the races leading up to the chase. No advantage for winning a race. Everybody starts at 0.

The 3rd change is the elimination of drivers throughout the chase. After the 1st 2 races, eliminate everybody from 11th place back from winning the championship. After 5 races, eliminate the 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th place Chase drivers from the competition for the Sprint Cup. After 8 races, eliminate the 5th, and 6th place drivers. So for the final 2 races, you have 4 people that still have a chance at the Sprint Cup. The great thing about this is that even though drivers have been eliminated from winning the Sprint Cup, they still accumulate points as though they were still in the running. For example, Dale Jr. was in 10th place and was eliminated from winning the Championship after 5 races. If he wins the 2nd to last race of the season, he still accumulates 15 points for the best Chaser finish. If Jimmie Johnson was 1st in points and crashed in the 2nd to last race and finished 43rd, he would finish anywhere from 12th place back in the Chase points format and would salvage at the most 4 points. So even those drivers that have been eliminated from winning the Cup would have an effect on who would win the Championship. Nobody has said that they couldn't come in 2nd though.

The final change is the tracks used for the Chase. With Chicagoland becoming the racetrack to kickoff the 2011 chase, I would like to see other changes as well. Move a Talledega date back into the chase. That could cause major problems for the Chase contenders. Move the night race at Bristol into the Chase. I would also move a Lowe's Motor Speedway race into the chase. That is 4 so far. New Hampshire deserves a Chase race. I would put a Kansas race there as well. Homestead stays the final race in the Chase. That is 7. I would love to see Watkins Glen put into the chase. And I would put Phoenix into the Chase format as well. That is 9 races. What about the 10th? I would put a "wild card" into that spot. One year, have Rockingham on the schedule. The next year, why not have Nashville in a chase race. We could put Montreal on the schedule for the next year as a chase race. So on and so forth. Make the 10th spot on the schedule a race track that is not on the regular cup schedule. You say that these drivers are the best in the world, great. Make them prove it. Have them race on a track that they visit once every 3 or 4 years. Some will hit the setup, others will miss it. But it would make for some very interesting drama for the Chasers.

In closing, I would like to say that I know that these ideas won't be implemented by NASCAR. But I believe that it would add excitement to the Chase format and also vary what becomes a very long and sometimes boring season. And anything that might bring excitement to the fans might bring more of them back to NASCAR.