Friday, November 25, 2011

3 comments My Thanksgiving List(s)

This is the time of the year when writers make lists of things that they are thankful for in an effort to tie into Thanksgiving. There's nothing like getting all sentimental about being thankful remembering pilgrims and Indians eating together before the pilgrims' ancestors decided these annoying-ass dark-skinned Native Americans had to go and they were taking over this area known as North America from the Native Americans. I think history went that way. Honestly, most history is so painted over with fictions I am not sure we ever really know what actually happened. Regardless, this is the time of the year for lists. Well, I am going to make a non-sentimental list of 5 things I am thankful for, 10 changes sports need to make and 5 things that piss me off. Because that's what I do around this time of year.

Let's start with the changes that need to be made. Some of these are a big deal and others aren't so much. I could probably do a more fleshed-out version for each of these topics, but I won't do that today.

1. Charge calls near to the basket.

I hate charge calls under the basket. My favorite college basketball team is well-known for taking charges and I cringe whenever I see them take one close to the basket. It is such a subjective call and though the circle in the lane has helped clear things up a bit, I still get annoyed because I think any spot in the lane should be for the shooter. I don't know the rulebook by heart, but it seems many of the officials in college basketball can't seem to get the charge call correct. I feel like the prevalence of charge calls in college basketball prevents teams from playing good defense. Maybe someone thinks a charge call around the basket is good defense and I do think that way in general, but mostly I have a problem with charge calls around the basket. If a player is driving to the basket and is near to the lane, I think it should be a blocking foul. I get a bit irritated seeing a defensive player take a charge three feet away from the basket. I know this isn't how the rules play out, but I feel like the present college basketball charge call rewards bad defense.

2. The discrepancy in pass interference calls on offensive players and defensive players in the NFL.

How is it an offensive pass interference penalty gets 10 yards from the previous spot and a replay of the down, but if the defense commits defensive pass interference it is at the point of the foul? This discrepancy annoys me. I feel like the penalty for offensive and defensive pass interference should be the same. I used to worry defensive players would just commit pass interference if they weren't punished by the offense getting the ball at the spot of the foul, but now I realize that is sort of a silly worry. On a deep pass, it may seem ridiculous for the offensive player to not get credit for where he would have caught the ball absent the interference, but it is also ridiculous the defense only gets 10 yards from the previous spot when a potential interception is taken away by offensive pass interference. I think these penalties should be the same. I'm not sure I care whether the offensive or defensive pass interference penalty is adopted, just so they are the same penalty.

3. Decals on the basketball court in college basketball.

This happens all the time in college basketball. Some stupid tournament is happening in a city and there is a logo decal placed on the court to advertise one of the sponsors. I call it a decal on the court, but it is really a sheet of ice sponsored by Burger King or another company like that. So while these basketball players are on the court they have to watch out when running/walking over these logos because they are slicker than the rest of the floor. It's unsafe, ugly and has no place on the floor. Remove the decals from basketball floors. I always cringe when I see a player do a split or slip while dribbling around on the logo. One day someone is going to get hurt on those logos. Of course the NCAA doesn't care, because along with no giving a shit whether student-athletes ever go to class. They are in the business of making sure their sponsors get the right amount of ad space, even if that means a student-athlete has to tear a groin muscle or break their leg for Valvoline to get a decal on the court. One would think a dangerous spot on the court, a spot that not only serves no purpose being on the court, but is also slicker than the rest of the court would be banned. One would think wrong.

4. I'd like to see a salary cap in baseball, not permanently, but just for a few years.

Let me be clear. I do not want a salary cap in baseball permanently. I would like to see baseball have a salary cap for a few years though, just to see what happens. It's more of an interest to see what would happen than anything. I realize this is impossible. A sport can't switch between having a salary cap and no salary cap on a whim. I think it would be interesting to have the NFL salary cap in baseball for a few years. No, I don't believe baseball needs more parity and this is why there should be a salary cap, I just want to see MLB General Managers work within a cap for a few years. I do enjoy the parity in MLB and I also enjoy the parity in the NFL. It would be interesting to see a hard cap in MLB of $110 million and watch teams work to stay under this cap. It would also make the trade deadline on July 31st that much more interesting because some teams would try to acquire players and still not go over their cap space. I am not sure if a hard salary cap would change the sport too much, but I think baseball would be better if there was a salary floor and a salary cap for a few years. Just to see how it worked out.

5. I would like to get rid of the one-and-done rule.

I favor a two-and-through rule. The one-and-done rule is an NBA rule imposed on college basketball to make it seem like the NBA gives a shit about their athletes getting an education. In reality, this rule serves no purpose, other than to force colleges to enforce an NBA rule and deal with the consequences of the rule. I believe athletes should be able to go straight to the NBA after high school, but I also think there is something to be said for attending college for two years and then going to the NBA. I don't believe a two-and-through rule would cause an excessive amount of players to go to the NBA out of high school, it would improve the quality of the player coming out of college and at least it would give the student-athlete who wants to go to college two years to work on getting an education.

This rule would acknowledge there are those athletes who don't need to go to college and it would also give more lip service to athletes who want to go to college and begin an education while learning to play basketball against a higher level of competition. I think if we asked Harrison Barnes, Jared Sullinger, and Perry Jones, they would say two years in college helped their game improve and prepared them better for the NBA. I just don't know if I like the one-and-done rule anymore.

6. College basketball polls should be released on December 1.

I hate the idea perception of how strong a team is determines how highly ranked a team is. Why can't we just wait a month and start ranking college basketball teams at that point? Rankings are stupid this early in the season, but the polls do serve some purpose later in the season. I just don't see why/how a team can be ranked in a certain position based on perceived strength of the team. Why not wait a month and then rank the teams?

7. The College football coach's polls should be released after three weeks of the season.

I feel much stronger about this happening. A team ranked #20 in a preseason poll that ends up going undefeated could very well miss a shot at the BCS title game because they were ranked so high at the beginning of the season they didn't get a chance to leapfrog two other undefeated teams. Maybe this doesn't happen incredibly often, but why not wait a few weeks to rank the top football teams in the nation? It just makes sense in my mind to rank teams after three weeks of the season once we have seen how strong each team has looked on the football field. Sure, there is a bias in the ranking based on strength of schedule, but ranking the teams based on some information is better than ranking them based on having zero information.

This year's preseason poll Top 10 looked like this:

1. Oklahoma
2. Alabama
3. Oregon
4. LSU
5. Florida State
6. Stanford
7. Boise State
8. Oklahoma State
9. Texas A&M
10. Wisconsin

Four of those teams in the preseason poll aren't in the Top 10 at this point. Florida State and Texas A&M are unranked and Oklahoma State and Wisconsin are #11 and #12 respectively.

Of the four teams currently in the Top 10 that didn't start the season that way, Arkansas was #14, Virginia Tech was #13, Michigan State was #17, and Houston was unranked. It doesn't seem like there is a huge difference in their present ranking and their preseason ranking, but why not wait three weeks into the season to rank these teams? It can't hurt anything and maybe a team like Houston (or Boise State/TCU in the past) would get a higher ranking and receive a chance to be #1 or #2 without the rest of the teams in the major conferences having to lose a game. I also believe it would be much more interesting for the first coach's poll rankings to come out after a few games.

8. The bowl system in college football.

I'm not against the bowl system changing until I see a good playoff system idea set up. At this point, I am not sure the system will ever change or if there has been a quality alternative to the bowl system seriously considered. I would enjoy an 8 team playoff, which I think is enough teams to include championship-caliber squads as well as provide for the mid-majors to get a team or two into the playoff if deserved. My biggest beef with the bowl system is how underwhelmed I feel when I see the bowl projections. After a full season, I tend to feel like there has to be a bigger payoff than some of the bowl matchups. Here are Stewart Mandel's bowl projections. I'm very underwhelmed. In the BCS bowls, I am completely not excited by a Houston v. Michigan matchup. Nothing against those two teams, but it just doesn't excite me and I'm not sure this is a game America has been waiting all season to see. Virginia Tech v. West Virginia is another matchup I am not excited to see in a BCS bowl. I've seen West Virginia play in person and there are probably 20 other teams in the nation that are better than they are. They get an automatic bid because they are in the Big East.

I know it sounds silly to get rid of the bowl system because one person is underwhelmed by the matchups, but isn't the point of bowl games other than to lose money for the schools participating, to gain viewers and create exciting matchups? I can't believe I am the only one who enjoys the college football season and at the end of some football seasons feels a little underwhelmed at the bowl matchups in the BCS games.

Boise State loses one game and now they play Arizona State, the 5th best team in the Pac-12? Clemson had BCS hopes until this week and now they play an inconsistent UCLA team? Is Clemson going to be motivated to play that game? Probably not. We'll get another abomination of a game like last year's Washington v. Nebraska matchup where a bowl chose to take Missouri over Nebraska to punish Nebraska for leaving the Big 12. There are matchups I would enjoy watching, and I do enjoy many of these games every year, but I can't help but wonder why a team like Stanford or Oklahoma State can't get a shot at beating Alabama or LSU before there is an Alabama-LSU rematch? I guess I feel frustrated because there has to be a better way.

9. I would like the NBA to use the NBDL as a minor league system rather than a place where shitty players go to play.

This is somewhat in combination with my two-and-through rule above. Overall, I don't think the NBA knows how to use the NBDL. There is a stigma about playing at that level. I do realize the MLB minor league system is different from how the NBA works, but I would like to see each NBA team have a certain NBDL team. Maybe this is more about changing the perception of the NBDL, but if a player does go straight from high school to the NBA, that player can get playing time at the NBDL level to improve their game rather than sit on the bench in the NBA while getting little playing time. So maybe it is more about changing the perception of the NBDL and less about how teams use the NBDL.

In a perfect world, the NBDL wouldn't be a place where shitty players go to try and make it to the NBA, but is sort of a college basketball-lite league where they learn the NBA system they will be asked to run at the NBA level. In MLB, there are plenty of players who are veterans and take up spot on a main roster while superior, younger players are in the minors working on their skill set. This could work in the NBA as well. I know this sounds like a fantasy, but rather than have NBDL call-ups be rare, I would rather see teams use their NBDL team as a farm system of sorts to improve the NBA team. I feel like there is a disconnect in how the NBA uses the Developmental League and how they should use it. It may just be me.

10. A season opening NCAA-type tournament in college basketball with 32 teams.

I know the concern is this would overshadow the NCAA Tournament at the end of the year. I don't believe it will. I think a 32 team tournament opening up the year would help the momentum caused by Midnight Madness at schools. Rather than have these separate tournaments at the beginning of the year, why not have a 32 team tournament composed of the teams in the 32 team round of the previous year's NCAA Tournament? Actually, I don't care how the teams are chosen, as long as the competition level is high like it is in the NCAA Tournament. In fact, I would be fine with the teams from the round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament and the NIT Final Four getting in the season opening tournament with the NCAA Final Four teams getting a first round bye. It may be hard to schedule this logistically, but I have to believe this would be fun to watch.

Now 5 things I am thankful for...

1. Steve Smith (Carolina)

I just love this guy even though he talks too much shit, has an anger problem and is generally short with the media. When he punched Ken Lucas in the face in training camp a few years ago, I couldn't blame him. I had wanted to punch Ken Lucas in the face a few times as well. I'm not sure Panthers fans appreciate him as much as they should.

2. Aaron Rodgers

He is awesome at the football, which makes him fun to watch. Mostly, I love how he is making Brett Favre forgotten in Green Bay. Even when certain Green Bay-area writers try to cherry pick Favre statistics not using an entire season (I read an article from the past week with an author defending Lord Favre from the idea Aaron Rodgers is on his level and can't find the link), everyone should realize Rodgers is performing at a level Brett Favre rarely achieved. No matter how many Favre-loving writers try, the Packers did a great thing for the Packers over the long term by kicking Favre's old ass out the door and choosing to back Rodgers. I love he makes this decision look smart.

3. College basketball

I just love the sport. I know many people favor the NBA, but I can't help but enjoy college basketball. I realize it isn't basketball at its highest level, but it is still one of my favorite sports...even if my least favorite team won the title last year and my second least favorite team will probably win the title this year.

4. The NFL didn't go to an 18 game schedule

It was just a terrible idea. I hated the idea of more games and I am glad this wasn't a part of the new agreement between the union and players. Unless rosters were expanded I just don't see how teams could play 18 games and expect a healthy roster in the playoffs. Sometimes there is something to be said for not "improving" a product. I think this is one of those cases. Too much would have been too much.

5. Instant replay in the NFL

Remember when there was opposition to this? Why doesn't baseball expand replay? I feel like instant replay has added a nice element to the NFL because it shows when officials make really good calls and how stupid some head coaches are. Yes, for me instant replay is less about the actual replay but how it reflects on the competency of the officials and head coaches. Plus, it is fun to sit at home and pretend you are an official and see if you agree with the call on the field.

Now five things that piss me off...

1. Tebowmaniacs

They can get out of control. For example, when John Elway said on the radio recently Denver had not found their quarterback of the future and he was seen scouting Robert Griffin III and Landry Jones, the Tebowmaniacs went apeshit. They were writing crazy things about the greatest quarterback in the history of the Broncos franchise to him over Twitter. If the Broncos draft another quarterback and Tebow is really such a great quarterback he will find work with another team...or he may beat out the newly drafted quarterback and try to hold on to the job. John Fox likes winning and will go with a quarterback that does this for him. Trust me, Fox won't start a rookie quarterback he doesn't have faith in. These people get so wrapped up in cheering for Tebow sometimes logic and any sort of decorum goes out the window.

2. The NBA lockout

I don't miss the NBA that much right now. The NBA lockout pisses me off because I am not sure the owners and players realize the NBA wasn't exactly the most popular sport in the United States and the negative publicity of the lockout isn't helping the future or popularity of the sport. I enjoy watching the NBA, but this lockout doesn't seem to be doing anything but pissing off the diehard fans of the NBA and alienating any casual fans of the NBA. I'm not Bill Simmons and I don't believe I know how to fix the lockout, but I do believe this lockout has gone on long enough and a missed NBA season isn't going to benefit the league in the short or long-term.

3. Expanding the MLB playoffs and creating a one game playoff

I have accepted the MLB playoffs are probably going to be expanded. I can deal with that. The issue I have is the idea of creating a one game playoff between two of the Wild Card teams. I think this is beyond stupid. What the hell is one more game going to prove that 162 games haven't proven already? Why manufacture drama like this? Life isn't fair, but let's say one of the Wild Card teams won 90 games that year and the opposing Wild Card team won 84 games. Why should the 90 game winning Wild Card team have to play one more game to prove they deserve to be in the playoffs? I can get on-board with an expanded playoff, but don't manufacture drama and make any playoff more than just one game. If two teams have the same record I can understand a one game playoff, but a one game playoff deciding which team gets to advance after 162 regular season games have been played seems stupid to me.

4. The phrase "he just wins games."

This is such a lazy phrase. It conveys no knowledge as to why a person wins games and skips analysis to award the winning of a game to a particular player. For me, this is just an irritating phrase. It is usually used to describe a player who doesn't have the statistics thought necessary to win games, but somehow manages to win. The player's ability to win a game can be described in other ways, but it is easier just to use a simple catchphrase in the absence of doing any analysis.

5. The new MLB CBA (a portion of it)

Here in this link Craig Calcaterra talking a little bit about the new CBA. It basically ensures teams may spend less money on international signings and takes steps to ensure two sport athletes like Bubba Starling isn't going to choose baseball over another sport. This is just what baseball needs, a more efficient way to take the better athletes from looking at baseball as a potential sport of choice. What's next? God forbid baseball takes steps to make the sport more attractive of a sports-related career choice.

So maybe baseball is finally taking steps to achieve Tim Keown's goal of taking all foreigners out of the pool of available baseball players, but from the first look it seems this CBA makes an international sport less international and takes two-sport athletes away from trying to make it in baseball. I'm not sure that's a good thing.

Hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving.

3 comments:

koleslaw said...

These comments will only be in the order that I think of them. :)

The salary cap in Baseball would be very interesting. If the Yankees can only buy one championship in the last decade with the amount of money they spend, imagine how terrible they'd be if they only had 50% of the salary space. It would really force teams to develop their farm systems.

-=-=-

I 100% agree with the charges thing. I don't understand why a player can be standing still, totally miss their spot on defense and then jump in front of a moving player and be rewarded. Sometimes charges have to be called obviously, but if I had my way I bet 90% of the charges called would be blocking instead.

-=-=-

The BCS is absolutely ridiculous. In my mind, there has never been a national champion in college football. There are too many teams and not enough games for anyone to determine who is actually the best. Even if a team goes undefeated and wins the BCS title game, can anyone really say with 100% certainty that they were the best football team in the country?

I don't think the bowl system as we know it is going to go away for a long time because the people who operate it don't care about anything other than making money.

-=-=-

I don't miss the NBA at all. If it turns out the NBA doesn't happen this year, I'll be very curious to see how it affects this current class of players, especially the ones who were planning on leaving for the draft next year.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a good basketball game, but I find 98% of the NBA regular season more boring than the MLB regular season. I'm sure not missing several months of 48 minutes of pick and roll. Don't even get me started on the 15 months that the NBA playoffs last. At least the games are more interesting in the playoffs (but not by much.)

College basketball games are way more interesting to me because the majority of those kids aren't going to get to play in the NBA, so they play with a lot of heart. I feel like the college basketball season is just the right length for the sport. You don't want to lose too many games so you get a good seed in the NCAA, but you can afford to lose a couple and not be hurt too much. In the NBA you can lose half your games and still make the playoffs. In college football, you lose one game and your season is over.

-=-=-

I'm sure Tim Tebow is a nice enough guy, but I'm offended by people who flaunt their religion. I'd love to see a pro athlete who is an atheist do the opposite.

Reporter: "Tell us about your amazing comeback win!"

Player: "Well, first of all, let's thank who helped us win. All of my teammates practiced really hard this week and our coaches came up with a great gameplan to stop the other team. I'm not going to thank Jesus because he wasn't out here playing the game. Really, the people you see on the field were the ones who had everything to do with it."

The late, great George Carlin said it best:

Can’t we silence these Christian athletes who thank Jesus whenever they win and never mention his name when they lose? You never hear them say, "Jesus made me drop the ball" or, "The Lord tripped me up behind the line of scrimmage." To them, Jesus is undefeated. Meanwhile, these assholes are in last place.

-=-=-

Here's another good article about the MLB CBA: http://mlb.sbnation.com/2011/11/25/2585848/mlb-labor-agreement-cba-unintended-consequences

-=-=-

Last but not least, I'm actually in favor of an extra wild card team. I'm not 100% sure I like a one-game playoff, but I feel an extra wild card team will cause some teams in closer races not slow down at the end of a season. Teams who are playing for that last spot will try harder rather than giving up when they get mathematically eliminated and teams that are leading divisions would have to keep up the pace so they don't slip into a wild card spot.

ivn said...

"It would also make the trade deadline on July 31st that much more interesting because some teams would try to acquire players and still not go over their cap space."

I think it would make it less interesting. It would probably turn into the NBA, where the expiring contract would be the most coveted asset and practically every trade would be a salary dump.

and I like the BCS because it turns the regular season into a playoff. every team knows exactly what it has to do to play for a national championship, and the Rose/Orange/Fiesta/Sugar Bowls are at least a good reward for winning the conference. the AQ system needs to be tweaked, and it probably will with the Big East circling the drain, but there's no need to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

I like it better than the NCAA Tournament in basketball, which makes the preceding 30 games or so mostly useless. you can lose 12 games and still make it just by playing well in the conference tournament. last year, Ohio State and Pitt played the same number of tournament games as Illinois and Gonzaga. why should I bother paying attention to the sport when the regular season doesn't seem to mean anything?

Bengoodfella said...

Koleslaw, I don't know if I would want it permanently. I just sort of want to see it short-term. It won't happen and I probably don't mind too much.

I can't stand how charges are called. It irritates me so much. I can't figure out what a charge is and isn't and it changes w/ different officials.

I guess my issue with the bowl system is I lose interest at about...right now every single season. The bowls are pretty much decided and the BCS game barring a major upset will be LSU-Alabama. It will be a good game, but I think what I don't like about the BCS is the championship game is decided now and then we wait a month and a half to see these teams play again.

Tebow's greatest weakness is his fans. Crazy as many of them can be.

I just don't like a one game playoff. Make it three games at the very least. Otherwise, I don't see what one more game would even do.

Ivn, I certainly wouldn't want to see teams start dumping players and turn into the NBA. So that's a major drawback. I don't really know what would happen so that is why I was interested to see it for a year or two. Again, it will never happen.

I understand what you are saying about the bowls and I don't hate the BCS. I just don't like the overall bowl system at this point. I think it would be nice to get rid of the AQ system and possibly at least do a four game playoff, but that won't happen. The Big East does have to get out because that isn't going to be a supremely strong conference here in a few years.

Every team does know what they are playing for but I do think it needs some tweaks. The time between bowl games is annoying to me. It is going to be an entire month and a half before the championship game is played. College bball is different from college fball. There isn't too many comparisons that can be made. A team in college fball that is great doesn't lose a game, but a college bball team that is great loses maybe 2-3 games. It's just a different set up and expectations for each team.

The overall lack of drama is what annoys me. Yes, each team knows what it is playing for, but there isn't any way, no matter how good they look in a bowl game OSU will ever play for the national title. The bowl games just seem to lack excitement for me. There's nothing to be played for at this point other than pride. Most people have a hard time remembering who won the Sugar Bowl two years ago, so I think tweaking the BCS to give more than 2 teams a chance at the national title when there is more than one 1-loss team makes sense. It may not change a thing though. I really don't give a shit, but I find the current system to be pretty much a let down. It may not change w/ a new system.