September 2006

September 25, 2006

My new favorite sports program: The EPL Review Show

For those of you wondering what that is, it’s the English soccer equivalent of NFL Primetime, but 973 times better than any sports highlight show in America (at least in my opinion that is).

For an hour, with few commercial breaks, the show runs through all 10 weekend Premiership games in a style that I hope more American highlight shows begin to emulate at some point soon. The host of the show is never seen, and unlike every show on ESPN, FOX, etc, you’re not forced to spend the whole time listening to some host who makes his/her shtick seem more important than the game itself.

Each game is condensed into about 3-5 minutes of action, which makes every soccer game feel like it was the most intense thing ever (even if nothing happened). The show does a perfect job of capturing all the drama of each game, while cutting out the boring stuff in between. The transitions between the action are smooth and seamless, and you only hear the actual game announcers calling the action (no catch phrases, egos or music get in the way of the drama).

I’ve never seen a highlight show before where I feel like I actually watched every game that day/week. It would be great if someone could come up with the equivalent for baseball, football, basketball of hockey. Baseball Tonight is probably the best sports highlight show out there, but there is still too much analysis and talking, and not enough of the games themselves. Rarely do you feel the excitement when watching highlights if a studio host is doing the highlights. It’s always much better when they play the local radio or TV guys instead. I want to feel the crowd and the energy, not listen to cheesy background music and some host making wisecracks every 10 seconds.

And the beauty of it all is that since few people in the US care about European soccer, I can watch this show every Sunday night without knowing what happened. For American sports this would be impossible, since there are score tickers on 17 channels, I’m on the web constantly, people talk about sports everywhere (especially in NY) and taxi cabs in the city now have scoreboards on top of them.

If you get FOX Soccer Channel, give it a try. You may actually enjoy watching soccer for once.

September 13, 2006

My favorite thing to complain about the past month

Not that this is a new revelation or anything, but isn?t it ridiculous that a pitcher who blows a five-run ninth-inning lead doesn?t get a blown save, while a guy who comes in with the bases loaded, no outs and a 7-6 lead, and gives up only a sac fly, gets a blown save?

While I understand why pitchers can?t create their own save situations, shouldn?t they be able to create their own blown save situations? Failing to hold onto a five-run lead is a lot worse than allowing a game-tying sac fly with the bases loaded. Why should the pitcher who pitches well suffer, while the other guy avoids the blemish on his record (although his ERA suffers tremendously)?

Just another instance of how dumb stats like saves and holds can be.

Worst fantasy move of the month

Leaving Hideki Matsui on my bench last night for his return, then watching him go 4-for-4. I read in the paper yesterday morning that he would be back, yet forgot to pull Pat Burrell and his .050 average (the past 10 days) out of my lineup. Normally, moves like this don?t matter in September since I am 47 points out of first, but this year I actually have a chance to win my first legitimate league in nine seasons.

Most annoying part of the opening weekend of football

I?m in Dallas for the weekend and watching the Chiefs-Bengals game at my relatives? house. Since they don?t have the NFL package, I have no way of switching to close games such as the Pats-Bills, Saints-Browns, Seahawks-Lions or Jets-Titans. When the KC-CIN game finally decides to end, CBS switches to the end of the Jets-Titans game, where a rejuvenated Kerry Collins (well sort of) is driving Tennessee down the field with a minute to go, trailing 23-16. But then, only a few minutes after the game comes on, James Brown appears to tell us that due to contractual obligations, CBS can no longer show the game.

This I understand. Since the Dallas game had started on FOX, another game can?t be shown opposite it on another channel it the local market. I don?t love this rule, but it?s been around longer than I have, so I?m used to it.

What makes the whole thing ridiculous is that CBS shows Brown for the next three minutes watching the game on a monitor to his right, and calling the plays for us. About five seconds after each play, CBS shows us a replay of the play Brown just called.

If networks are allowed to do this, why not just show us the end of the game? Most people are still not going to change the channel when it is 3rd and 6 from the eight yard line with 43 seconds to play, if someone is telling them what is going on in the game and they can see the replay a few seconds later.

Seems like a lot of trouble to go through just to abide by an old rule that should probably be altered anyway, since many people have DirecTV nowadays (outside of NYC that is) or are watching in sports bars, where they can see every game out of their local market.

Final thought

Had my 32nd birthday last week, not something to get very excited about.

When you turn anywhere from ages 1-12, every birthday is enjoyable. You get tons of great presents, have a party where everyone has to cater to you the entire time, and usually you can get away with doing just about anything — without getting punished or yelled at.

As you get older, the presents begin to disappear, but at least you earn the ability to do some important things – work legally, drive, vote, drink, etc.

But once you pass 21, the excitement pretty much stops. Sure you can begin to rent cars without paying ridiculous fees at age 25, but for the most part the whole birthday thing begins to lose its luster.

Despite all of our great technology, most people will forget your birthday unless you remind them that it’s coming. You usually wind up organizing your own party, dinner, drinks or whatever you decide to have. You don?t want people to buy you anything because most of the time you know that you?ll have to fake like you are excited when the present is usually just OK at best.

As I look at it, there’s not much left to look forward to on your actual birthday once you pass 25:

35 years old: You can run for president
40 years old: Someone will attempt to throw you a surprise party, which you’ll enjoy, but you?ll also know the entire time that your midlife crisis will begin the following morning
50 years old: Another potential surprise party, but you’re so miserable that you’re actually 50, you have trouble enjoying it.
55 years old: You start qualifying for senior discounts
57 years old: Even though you can barely throw a ball more than 24 miles per hour, you keep telling yourself that Satchel Paige pitched when he was your age, so you can?t be that old yet.
65 years old: You can retire and do nothing the rest of your life (assuming you planned right), although if Medicare and Social Security disappear by 2039, this may not be that easy.
100 years old: Willard Scott says your name during the Today Show, although you can’t hear it or see it, so it doesn?t matter much anyway.