My friend Ryan has done it again. He has written another timely sports song - this one about Notre Dame and their current losing ways. It'd be funny if it weren't so true!
If the video doesn't load for you here you can go to youtube and watch it.
1 min read
My friend Ryan Parker has produced a new music video - this time the theme is about being the second best in your sport. It is a hilarious look at the life of a pro athlete who could have been the best if only he were born in a different generation.
A cool little sidenote but Ryan and his daughter Julia were featured on Monday Night Football (as part of the "Rowdy Friends" feature) on ESPN last night singing a song he wrote about the Bengals. Here is the video of the two of them singing. This is the first year ESPN is doing this and Ryan and his daughter were the very first fans to be featured. It was really cool. I'll try to bug him to put up a video of it.
3 min read
Thanks in no small part to the old adage "It's not what you know but who you know" I recently had the opportunity to go to the NHL Entry Draft. A friends brother is an executive with the NHL so he provided my family with amazing tickets that put us in the front row of the section reserved for draftees and their families. From this vantage point my two youngest brothers, my father, and I witnessed the first round of the draft. While, in all honestly, it did get a little boring at times (it is just a sequence of names being called out) it was still pretty interesting and a neat experience that I don't regret going to at all.
We arrived just before the actual draft began so we missed most of the Commissioners opening remarks and basically just had to wait a few moments for the Blackhawks to make their first selection - a young American named Patrick Kane. He was sitting in another section reserved for players exactly opposite us inside Nationwide Arena (in Columbus, OH). In fact the first five selections were all on the opposite side of the stadium. The third pick, Kyle Turris by the Phoenix Coyotes, was upstaged by the man who announced the draft pick, none other than "The Great One" Wayne Gretzky. I believe Wayne received the loudest and longest ovation of the night - even surpassing the announcement by Commissioner Bettman that the local team, the Blue Jackets, were on the clock.
I have been a lifelong Boston Bruins fan. My seat, however, was directly behind the Montreal Canadiens table. This is their "War" table where about ten team executives sit and debate who their next pick will be. If you know anything about the Bruins you know their natural rival is, none other than, the Canadiens. While the Bruins were able to pick with the 8th overall selection (Zach Hamill) it was the Canadiens who occupied most of my attention as I regularly sent out "boos" in their general direction. Their first pick was the 12th in the draft and they picked a guy right out of high school - Ryan McDonagh. I thought that was pretty cool, but interesting all the same. The NBA recently put a block on drafting kids out of high school yet baseball and hockey continue to do so. There was an uproar when kids were drafted into the NBA - so why is the media so silent on the same drafting policy of major league baseball and hockey? Inquiring minds want to know.
I took a lot of photos of the event but many didn't come out very well because I am a poor photographer however I put up the best ones I had in an online photo album. You can also read a much more humorous review of the draft over at Page 2 on espn.com courtesy of Bill Simmons
3 min read
For the first time in my life I played golf on back to back days. Technically you could almost say I played 2.5 rounds of golf in 2 days. No, not because I suck and hit the ball so much (though I do and did) but because I played two full rounds of golf and went to the driving range and hit 100 balls in between.
Sadly the weekend didn't really have a positive net impact on my game.
On Sunday my father, my brother Chris, my brother Joe, and I went to Sugarwood, my favorite course in the area, and played 18. On the front nine I had my best start ever shooting a 48 (included 3 pars!). However, on the back nine I fell back into my old game and shot a miserable 59 for a total of 107. It was disappointing because I had a decent chance to break 100 finally and failed. When we got home my neighbor, a 12 year old, wanted to go to the driving range because he had just gotten some clubs for his birthday. He lives with his grandparents (neither of whom golf) so I took him and Joe up to the range and we each hit 100 balls. Then, on the way back we scheduled a game for the following day back at Sugarwood.
On Monday it was just the three of us; Joe, my neighbor, and I, for the first nine holes. I started off poorly shooting a 54 and finished off in similar fashion with a 61. However, because my front nine wasn't so good I didn't even really notice that the back nine was going worse than the day before. In fact, I felt better about my back nine precisely because I didn't have a good set of holes to compare it against. Sunday's back nine was really, really frustrating. So bad, in fact, that I was losing my temper - something I pretty much never do at golf because I know going in I suck so I don't have high expectations. That front nine spoiled it and gave me an expectation (even expecting mediocre play is worse than no expectations at all).
Our Monday match had an interesting and amazing pair of coincidental shots back-to-back. Joe and Alex (the neighbor) were both in about the same place on the fairway with Joe being about 15 yards behind Alex. Joe smacked his ball and it screamed across the grass right into Alex's ball sending Alex's about 20 feet to the left and Joe's continuing on for about 80 more yards. Immediately after this, once we stopped laughing, Alex approached his ball which was now about 115 yards away from the hole. He addressed it, swung, and hit it fairly solidly but it too started traveling at ground level and almost immediately smashed into the 100 yard marker stake - a red plastic stick about 2 inches across that was stuck into the ground - snapping it in two. It was amazing and pretty darn funny to witness. Later on Alex also managed to hit, with his tee shot, the yellow tee box marker (knocking it out of the ground), and Joe, while trying to pull the flag out of the hole as a put approached pulled the entire plastic cup that is the hole out of the ground. It seems I can't take the two of them golfing at the same time again or else I won't have a favorite course to play on anymore. Those two are a real menace.
1 min read
I didn't write the list but I have to agree with it. Their logic is solid, the math makes sense, and my personal bias against Philly sports teams reinforces the whole thing. While the Bills may give their fans the most suffering the city of Philadelphia is the champion of making their fans suffer. Don't believe me? Ask the experts at ESPN.
The good news is I can get rid of my martyr complex. The Bruins, Jazz, and Cubs aren't at the top of the list. I no longer have room to whine about my teams losing ways. In fact I can now suffer silently knowing so many others are far worse off than me. Right Ted?
2 min read
Joe and I, along with a group of guys assembeled from the Charleston-Huntington corridor, have been playing Ultimate Frisbee in Hurricane every week. The overall level of play is much higher than what we dealt with in Huntington and it has been pretty fun. Not only do most of these guys play better than the guys in Huntington but they are more committed to getting out and playing. In fact, a few weeks ago we played in the snow when it was 26F outside. Therefore, it came as no surprise to me when one of the guys, Mike, scheduled a mini-tournament for us in Morgantown, WV against WVU, Marshall, and maybe some schools for PA. Nor was I surprised that most of the guys were willing to head up there (where it is typically colder.)
The mini-tournament took place last Saturday but ended up being just a scrimmage between us and WVU as both Marshall and the PA teams back out (probably because it was only 29F and snowing). We played two games against the 'Eers. I had expected the matches to be really close but it turns out we had a better day and won both games 13-3 and 13-5. I think, without Nate, our games would have been much closer. However, I also think that once we start using actual offensive strategies, that we will be much better as an offensive team - our defense was pretty good.
I'm hoping we can get involved in a few more contests with other people, though, preferably, in better weather next time. If you live in the area (Cincinnati - Columbus - Pittsburgh) and would like to play then let us know - we may be willing to travel or host you here for some Ultimate fun.
8 min read
With the BCS Championship just having been decided in a one game, winner takes all, match up between OSU and Florida it seems like a great time to pick up the axe of a playoffs and grind it just a bit. There were some really great schools, that due to one loss (or none at all) were denied the chance to even play for the championship while a one-loss Florida was able to compete for, and claim, the title. The current system just doesn't make a lot of sense. It fails the teams and players who had great seasons, it fails the schools who want as much money and exposure as possible, and it fails the top tier bowl games by not fully showcasing the best college teams in the country.
Fortunately, there is actually a solution that will keep bowl fans happy, bowl sponsers giddy, bowl teams excited, big schools rich, and will give small schools a chance. It's a playoff but not a normal run of the mill one. It is a playoff that will steal some parts of the BCS and incorporate them so as to provide a platform for one team to proudly, and without question, claim they are number one in the land!
Clearly, there needs to be a cutoff point on the number of teams that can be let into this playoff and I have chosen the number 8. Eight works very well with the current bowl game schedule and allows the teams that played superbly over the season to have their shot; thus preserving the feel of do-or-die during the regular season - this means we will need 7 bowl games reserved for the playoff teams. Sure this pulls three of the current bowl games away from other teams - but really there are so many already we could probably afford to do away with the "International Bowl". Plus they have already created this new "BCS Championship Game" which isn't played in place of any of the Bowls.
The seven bowl games that would be used are, BCS Championship, Fiesta, Orange, Rose, Sugar, Cotton, and Capital One. These are the seven largest payout bowl games ranging from three to seventeen million dollars! The Cotton and Capital One bowls would need to raise their payouts to be more inline with the other five games.
Based on this years end of year BCS standings (prior to bowl games) the top eight teams were: Ohio State, Florida, Michigan, LSU, Louisvile, Wisconsin, USC, Oklahoma, and USC. Hindsight being what it is we know there were some flaws in the end of season rankings. So there would have to be some kind of "board" (much like the NCAA basketball tournament) that determined which of the top 10 teams would play in the playoffs. This would give teams, like Boise State who finished 9th, a chance to play based on their undefeated regular season schedule. In fact I would think that would be an automatic qualifier - finish undefeated and in the top ten and you are in the playoffs.
After the "board" made their decision the (based on my hindsight) the 8 teams in the playoffs this yaer would have been: Ohio State, Florida, Michigan, LSU, Louisville, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, and Boise State. Boise State would have vaulted past USC due to their undefeated season. Teams would have been seeded in that order. This means OSU would have played Boise State in their first match up.
Assuming the Capital One Bowl and the Cotton Bowl didn't raise their payouts the Orange, Sugar, Rose, and Fiesta bowls would rotate in and out between the quarterfinals and the semifinals.
Finally the two winners of those games would meet in the Championship Game one week later.
The regular season, typically ends for players in November. The quarterfinals game would take place between the 15-20th of December. The Semifinals would take place on New Years day, and the Championship would take place one week later - Jan 8th.
What flaws exist in this plan? A few. First off the scheduling around peoples different ethnic and religious holidays. Secondly, the Rose Bowl is always on Jan 1st so they wouldn't want to rotate into the quarter finals - ever. Third, the Capital One and Cotton bowls payout is substantially less (> 12million) than the other bowl games and that would have to be rectified.
I'm not really sure when the last regular season (or conference championship game) is played. However, If it is before thanksgiving then this gives teams a couple weeks to prepare for their first round game. They then get two more weeks to prepare for their semi-final game. I think it is safe to assume teams in the big bowl games already prepare over the holiday's so accpeting this plan would just bring that out into the open instead of it being a little secret. Florida admitted to as much last night when their prep schedule was announced; Practice/prepare/study all week, take "game day" off - repeat. Since teams already practice around the holiday's this isn't really an issue after all.
The Cotton Bowl is going to be moving to the new Dallas Cowboy facility once it is built and the payout will undoubtedly jump up. If the Capital One bowl can't increase it's payout then perhaps the Outback bowl would prefer the shot to be part of the championship playoffs? Another option would be to take the payout for the four quarter final games and split it evenly among the eight teams. The Bowls aren't losing any prestige but all eight universities are getting nice paychecks - made even bigger if they win and advance.
Finally, and most daunting, is the Rose Bowl. They will not reschedule we know this without a doubt. The Rose Bowl is the granddaddy of Bowl games and is part of their whole "Tournament of Roses" celebration on New Years. Therefore the Rose Bowl would have to be a permanant Semi-Final match up. This would gall the other bowl organizers a bit so perhaps the Rose Bowl organizers should foot some of the payout for the other four games (maybe a million per) that aren't in the quarterfinals to help soothe their bruised egos. The Rose Bowl would get to be a perpetual semi-final game (maybe even get to pick the two winners they want from the semis) for the added expense of $4million per year.
At this point the championship teams have two more games to play in and a potential of $17million more in payouts (8.5 per game) plus another 8.5 coming for their championship game. The losing teams would have, at most, one extra bowl game so it wouldn't really extend anyones season all that much. The playoffs would be done in the same amount of time as the bowl season is already and the early bowl season would be more interesting due to the quarterfinals.
One compliant I hear about a playoff but keeping other bowl games is that it would turn the other bowl games into exhibition matches. But, guess what, they already are just exhibition games. They are meaningless to everyone except the teams playing in them. They are fun to watch, they generate revenue for their host cities, and they provide a diversion - but they don't count for anything more than they would under a playoff system. So I say keep all the other bowl games - let them play on whatever day they want to just like they currently do. Those people who are interested would keep watching them and the rest would keep ignoring them. There would be no change in how every other team approached bowl season.
However, for those lucky eight, there would be greater glory, much larger purses, and an undisputed National Championship Crown. Football fans would get to watch the same number of exciting bowl games but those games would take on even greater meaning, universities involved would get even more money, and fans of those schools would get to follow their teams for up to 2 more games.
The current poll system would stay in place to get teams into the top ten at the end of the season, losing one game could still spell your doom (on the outside looking in) come the end of the year, and the big schools would still benefit from their history/pollster bias. Yet, at the same time the small schools that are just being given a big game would be given the dream opportunity to compete for the championship - all they have to do is keep winning. Who knows, maybe Boise State would have won it all - had they been given the chance? With this playoff system everyone wins. The schools, the fans, the sponsors, the old boy networks, the small schools, everyone.
1 min read