02 October 2011

obligatory sports post

Because this month and March are for me the busiest and best sports months, I figured I should jot down my thoughts on some of it.

1) I think the rain-suspended game 1 of the Yanks-Tigers series was suspicious, but it may or may not end up being significant to the outcome.
2) I think Verlander at least has a case to be AL MVP. Though I'd personally rather go with Miggy Cabrera from his own team. One of the three Red Sox hitters would each have a good case if the Red Sox hadn't blown a huge wild card lead (I'd have picked Ellsbury if they had made the playoffs). Matt Kemp in a decent universe would have gotten a lot more media attention for a potential triple crown/ 40-40 season. Didn't (and didn't accomplish either in the end anyway, missed by one home run and a few base hits). Probably should win NL MVP. Won't. Ryan Braun would be my second choice and should end up winning it. If neither does I will be very confused.
3) The impending lack of an NBA season start is going to be very annoying. I like my basketball fix to start very soon after baseball dries up. I don't care for the American football and waiting until college basketball starts is an extra month or so. Blergh for organised labour contract disputes.
4) I don't particularly care about the conference re-alignments in college sports. I think the reason this is annoying the media types is that a) it's flagrantly about money and thus upsets the network executives who have to make TV contracts with the new conferences not knowing who will be in the conference in 5 years or so, naturally this annoyance is demanded to be demonstrated by their employees b) it upsets the media types' personal nostalgic sense for what the "Big 10" used to be or what the "Big East/ACC",  which is a fun story but has little actual relevance for whether the current or future product is or can be better or worse and c) it upsets a false sense of us-them rivalry concerning those aforementioned conferences. There are still traditional rivalries between teams that should be mostly maintained even during these otherwise radical shifts. Duke-Carolina. Oklahoma-Texas. Auburn-Alabama. Ohio St-Michigan. These work in the way that Red Sox-Yankees still matters in baseball or Patriots-Colts to football. But even those significant individual rivalries are mostly ways to get semi-casual sporting fans engaged in consuming the sport. The even more nebulous conference rivalries are much more trivial to the casual fan, thus they won't care. After it is explained to them why if they do ask about it at all. And the most engaged fan is unlikely to care very much about realignments as long as he (still mostly "he") can be swiftly provided with quality product on the field. They will want to see better games between high powered and skilled opponents. If these realignments allow for that, so be it. In an era where it's possible for a single basketball conference to send 10 or 11 teams to the postseason tournaments, it makes no difference what conference it is or how it is structured so long as those are 10 or 11 qualified and solid teams. Versus the previous era where a single conference could, by rule, send only one or two, where it did matter very much how those conferences were structured and who was in them. Today is not yesterday.

Purists will complain, but purists have complained about most every change in sports over the last two decades. Which have seen some highly radical shifts in sports, BCS championship, wild card and inter-league play in baseball, instant replays, expansion and divisional realignments in all sports, etc. Most of those shifts were consumed eagerly by the public which has poured ever greater attention and money into the sporting world as it has shifted. Purists will lose that argument as a result. I think there are ways that a sport could be shifted that could cause it problems, redefine or lose its base of support, (highly radical rule changes for instance). But these changes are not them.

Much bigger problems for these sports arise out of things like competing with high end televisions and constant streams of information that can be consumed in the comfort of one's home rather than dealing with the physical discomforts of rowdy and drunken fans, public bathrooms, expensive parking. Rather than whining about conference realignments and minor rules changes, "they" should focus more attention on this issue.
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