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Odds & N’s, Volume 1

The Fall Classic was anything but a classic. The NBA is rocking, though, and the NHL and Cam Newton are grabbing headlines too. Let’s get caught up with the sports world.

World Series
I love the World Series. I never miss it…except in 2010. I still can’t figure out exactly why I didn’t watch. I never stop watching just because my team gets eliminated. In fact, when the Sixers lost in the 2009 NBA Playoffs, I was relieved. I no longer felt obligated to watch their crappy games. Yes, the Phillies loss in the NLCS was unquestionably painful. But that’s never stopped me from continuing to watch before. Therefore, if I had to pinpoint why I watched less than 50 pitches of the 2010 World Series, these would be my best guesses.
A. Other than Josh Hamilton, no player on either team captured my interest. I tuned in whenever Hamilton was due up. I caught most of his at-bats in the first three games before giving up entirely.  If I wanted to watch Pat Burrell go hitless, I could have popped in my Phillies season recap DVD from 2003 when he batted an astounding .209. Cliff Lee, Tim Lincecum? No thanks. I’m all for good pitching in the Fall Classic but I need more than that to turn off Sunday Night Football.  I know the Rangers have talent, but I didn’t know enough about them to care.
B. I was drained. After being down on the Phillies for most of the 2010 season, I found myself emotionally tied to the team more than the 2009 version. As a Philly fan, I appreciate the teams that struggle and then succeed. The 2010 Flyers were adored because they were overwhelming underdogs. While the Phillies were heavy favorites entering the postseason, they were also a struggling, overpaid club until mid July.
C. No ties to either team. I have quite a few friends that love sports. (They may use another word than “friend.”) Regardless, I didn’t know a single person invested in either team. I always can root for another team in the postseason as long as it doesn’t jeopardize my allegiance to Philly teams. But I need a reason. I had none.
D. FOX did away with the soothing World Series music and used their NFL intro tunes instead. With no team, no player, and no friend invested, I needed the music. It wasn’t there.
I’m not convinced any of these reasons were what actually kept me away from the Series, but at least I took a swing at it. You know, unlike Ryan Howard.

NHL
I’ve read the news release from the NHL a handful of times and still can’t believe what I’m reading. The captains will choose the NHL all-star rosters? Really? I’m all for gimmicks to liven up the all star events -Lord knows they need them- but this could go wrong in so, so, so, so many ways.
First, why would the NHL further alienate their fans? The NHL doesn’t have the endless fan base the NFL boasts. Gary Bettman can’t do whatever he wants. Fans are finally starting to return to hockey after the lockout in 2004. The league is full of good teams, budding rivalries, and superstars. Fans love voting for all-stars. Why take that away? I don’t get it. If you want to make the all-star game more exciting, give a million dollars to the winning team, or better yet, allow the winning team’s captain to skate to center ice, face Bettman and give a thumb up or thumb down Gladiator style on whether Bettman gets to retain his position. Now that would be exciting.
Second, who would want to be named captain? Regardless of who you pick, you’re going to piss off an opponent, teammate, or friend. It’s unavoidable. How would you like skating through the second half of the season with a bull’s eye on your back? If you think jaded hockey players forgive and forget, you’re crazy. Grudge and NHL are synonymous. Players get bonuses for being named an All-star, too. When players lose money because of another player’s biased decision, you can absolutely expect the hostility to spill onto the ice. Actually, on second thought, I like this idea. Captains choose the teams! Woo-hoo!

College Football
Poor Cam Newton. In any other walk of life, Newton’s situation would be understood, expected, and applauded. If you have a product that people want, you sell it immediately. Not next week, not next quarter, not in three years. You sell it now. Cam Newton’s product is himself. He’s the perfect college quarterback. He’s big, he’s fast, he can throw, and can he ever run. Unfortunately, Newton probably won’t be an NFL quarterback. In my opinion, his throwing abilities aren’t sufficient enough, and mobile college quarterbacks don’t translate to the NFL without an all-world arm. Why is it so wrong that Newton tried to get paid while he could? College sports aren’t for amateurs anymore. It’s a professional business. When college kids invent Facebook, they’re not told to wait until graduation to monetize their product. Why do we ask the same of college athletes? Put a salary cap on college sports. It won’t eliminate all of the shady compensation but at least we can stop pretending college football is still an amateur sport.

NBA
There’s an unbelievable amount of excitement in the NBA right now. I can’t remember the last time I looked at the NBA schedule every night before February. Here are a few highlights and lowlights.

  • It took Chris Paul all of seven games to reclaim his title as the world’s best point guard. In fact, he probably catapulted himself into the top five players in the NBA. Derrick Rose is must see TV, too.
  • I know it’s only November, but I couldn’t be more optimistic about the Spurs. They’re balanced, experienced, and young, all at the same time. More importantly, they’re hitting the 3’s they bricked for most of last season. Richard Jefferson (who looks renewed), Gary Neal (surprise of the NBA thus far), and James Anderson are shooting 47% or higher from long distance. The defense is a disaster but I’m hopeful that will be righted as Gregg Popovich adjusts to his new rotations.
  • While Dwyane Wade and LeBron James took slightly less money to join forces, Chris Bosh is stealing money. An aging Boston Celtic front court, Omeka Okafor, and Paul Millsap have now brutalized the Heat. Bosh was supposed to be one of the league’s premier big men. I could rattle off ten players that are not only better, but wouldn’t cost $15 million per season. It’s way too early to write off the Heat because of Bosh’s struggles. However, it appears the road to NBA infamy will be a little bumpier than forecasted for Pat Riley’s offseason bounty.
  • Amar’e Stoudemire isn’t the same without Steve Nash. The Knicks still look bad and Stoudemire’s numbers are way down after a stellar year last season. Lucky for New York, the Timberwolves will gladly accept Stoudemire’s contract in a few years when LeBron opts out of South Beach.
  • As I discussed here, Kevin Durant and Oklahoma City are struggling. When teams circle you on the calendar, it’s not so easy to win in the NBA. This is part of the learning process for a young team like the Thunder. Whether it takes them a few months or an entire season to adjust will define their season.

2 Comments

  1. danielle

    i completely disagree with paying college athletes. i don’t care how good an argument you make, i disagree. =) besides, they’re already getting paid with an athletic scholarship which equals out to over 100K in benefits over four or five years. i’d trade my student loans with way-too-high interest rates for a full ride athletic scholarship and no student athlete salary. most college students are too stupid to realize how much they are locking themselves in with student loans and would end up spending all of their salary while loading up the student debt. since college already costs way too much, i can’t even imagine where schools would get money to pay their athletes. i for one wouldn’t want to pay tuition for my kid to get a degree while jock superstar gets a salary. yes, jock superstar still gets tons of “free” gear and benefits, but at least it’s not a salary. just my two cents. i know there’s holes in the argument, but don’t pay college athletes. we can at least pretend it’s pure fun.

  2. danielle

    i completely disagree with paying college athletes. i don’t care how good an argument you make, i disa

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