Archive for the ‘The Sports Revolution’ Category

The Sports Revolution: The Division Tournament

Pierre as a young boy was a contrarian. He was the kind who favored The Plague over The Stranger, Beauvoir over Sartre, Henry over Zidane, the left rook’s pawn over the right rook’s pawn.

Pierre as a man retains so much of that contrarianism, but there is within him, he can now say, some sentiment for the Man, the Authority, the Establishment—in short, the common nouns that require proper capitalization.

It is with this perspective of the potentate in mind that I have reached a conclusion I once thought not possible. The NFL, that American Establishment of Establishments, must begin playing an 18-game season.

We can swim against the tide of history or we can ride it. The latter is not, however, a pure acquiescence, as our very presence causes change and rupture and redefinition—perhaps to meet our own needs.

And so we approach tremulously the Mordor of the 18-game concept. Continue reading

The Sports Revolution: And-One Penalties

PI's just like a bench press for Ed.Let me set the scene for you: A quarterback launches a long pass down the sideline toward an emergingly open receiver. The defensive back, sensing what is about to occur, prevents a completion through less than legal means. And yet, even while a flag is being thrown, the receiver makes a tremendous catch anyway. The penalty is declined.

Let me reset the scene for you: After the flag is thrown and the catch is made, our referee announces the penalty while his assistants march off additional yardage. How much exactly? Why, the amount gained on the play, to be precise.

That’s right: Football needs its and-one. A catch made in spite of pass interference shouldn’t render the interference irrelevant. The same penalty should be meted out regardless of the completion of the pass, and thus a 20-yard pass despite PI should become a 40-yard gain.

Pierre has argued this point before, in regards to that officiating shambles of an indoor winter sport. While watching my beloved Ligue canadienne de football this autumn, it has struck me that North American football does an even more piteous job acknowledging degree of difficulty than its indoor companion. Penalties that do not alter the final result of a play are simply declined—overlooked, ignored, erased from the annals of the postgame almanacs.

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The Sports Revolution: Fixing the Pro Bowl

Don’t play it.

The Sports Revolution: Speeding Up Baseball

Let me set the scene for you: The Tigers and Rangers play a tight afternoon Game 2 that many do not see the end of, because they have turned instead to a mundane Monday Night Football contest between the Lions and the Bears. Oh my.

Let me reset the scene for you: The Tigers and Rangers play a tight afternoon Game 2 that stays in the afternoon, with nobody turning the channel. They achieve this with one simple alteration of baseball rules: A batter is only permitted one two-strike foul ball before he is called out.

As always, please, control your incredulity. Baseball, as a game, has gotten demonstrably slower over the years — not just because more batters are getting on base, but also because they’re taking longer to do so. Major leaguers averaged 3.81 pitches per plate appearance this season, just down from record numbers in recent years. Contrast that with 1988, the first year that Baseball-Reference tracked the stat, when plate appearances lasted a mere 3.59 pitches.* Continue reading

The Sports Revolution: Simultaneous Overtime!

Let ESPN’s Brian Griese set the scene for you: “It’s almost like the TD was given; it’s all going to come down to the two-point conversion.”

Let NPI’s Pierre Menard reset the scene for you: “Nothing in college football’s overtime can possibly be described as ‘given.’”

We have spent so much time analyzing the inadequacies of professional football’s overtime logistics that we have overlooked the larger flaws in college’s practice of the extra session(s). We are lucky that Monsieur Griese was describing a game between his alma mater, Michigan, and Illinois—one that Pierre can safely say was, in all aspects, irrelevant and insignificant.

Yes, college football’s overtime, mon ami, is broken. It is too easy to score, and like its professional predecessor, places an unnecessary significance on the initial coin toss. Furthermore, it skews statistics, scores, and the very nature of the sport.

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The Return of the Pooch Punt!

About a month ago, watching Arkansas and Georgia meet in a fairly exciting SEC football game, I saw something I hadn’t seen in a long time. On a fourth down in that “no-man’s land” (about the Georgia 40), Arkansas quarterback and Heisman Trophy candidate Ryan Mallett took a snap in the shotgun, and pooch punted inside the Georgia 10.

This got me thinking about how effective the pooch punt can be when used properly. And it also dawned on me that now, more than ever, certain elements are in place to promote a renaissance — if a brief one — of the pooch punt.

Here’s why:

1. Teams go for it more on fourth down now.

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The Sports Revolution: Saving the Division Series

Last year about this time, I laid out my plans for an entire postseason overhaul. This year, while standing by most of those innovative suggestions — the nine-game World Series, in particular — I want to revisit the aspect of the Major League Baseball postseason that I, and every baseball fan I know,* continues to find most troubling.

*I do not know John S.

I speak, of course, of the Division Series.

The Division Series — scourge of the favorite and the underdog alike, a duality best occupied, it seems, by the Minnesota Twins. The Division Series — where a season of tidings of comfort and joy can come crashing down in four days. The Division Series — where baseball’s postseason most trivializes its regular-season and creates fundamental questions regarding the justice of its champion. The Division Series — why does it drop the “League” when the LCS never does?*

*Methinks the answer lay in an aversion to a certain FX television program. Perhaps I’ve anthropomorphized too much. That, or they don’t want to confuse members of the Latter-Day Saints.

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The Sports Revolution: To Halve Is To Have Not

Let me say first that, in general, I agree with my colleague’s assessment of the Ryder Cup. There is something so…so sporting about the event that I enjoy it very much, despite its reprehensible underrepresentation of my native land.*

*No love this year for U.S. Open runner-up Gregory Havret, Captain Monty?

But it is not all the sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows that mon frere makes it out to be. No, the Ryder Cup is not perfect. It has one very glaring, to the point of being almost unignorable, flaw: The Half.

The Half is merely golf’s pretentious term for a draw, which is soccer’s pretentious term for a tie. The Ryder Cup embraces ties like no event outside of the World Cup. Every match must end by the 18th, and the ones that end with neither team having an advantage are, well, halved. But you can’t eat your cake and halve it, too.* You can’t host an event all about winning while expressing no qualms when several of its constitutive parts end in draws.

*Forgive my inversion of the phrase for a larger rhetorical punch.

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The Sports Revolution: A Preseason that Counts

Only 8.5% of the way through its regular season, the NFL has already been battered by injuries. Several teams, specifically those that wear green, have already lost key players to season-ending maladies of the gruesome variety.*

*Pierre does not link to such grotesquerie as Leonard Weaver’s AHH!

The promptness of such injuries has again allowed people to make light of the NFL’s ridiculous strategy to expand its regular season to 18 games. Now, the NFL has contemplated the Preseason Question for some time now, attempting to balance its clear desire for more money with an equally clear lack of fan interest in games that don’t count in the standings — the equivalent of football “friendlies.”

There are two basic remedies to this issue. The first is to reduce the preseason by a game or two, therein reducing revenue since season-ticket holders pay as much to attend (or, in many cases, not attend) as regular-season games. The second idea alleviates the problems of the first: Cut down the preseason, and, in its place, extend the regular season. Continue reading

The Sports Revolution: Fixing the All-Star Game

In preparation for this year’s Fall Classic, we asked Pierre Menard if he would be interested in revising his plans from last season on how to fix Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game. “Revise???” Pierre responded indignantly. “What revisions are needed? Fine, change the moronic number of current All-Stars from 32 per side to 34 and we’re done.” We didn’t even go that far. Here, unrevised and from last season, is Pierre on, well, revising the All-Star Game.

Let me set the scene for you: It’s an All-Star Game, and nobody cares.

Let me reset the scene for you: It’s an All-Star Game, and everybody cares.

My esteemed colleague wrote a vapid, nonsensical, and generally tedious post on why the Major League Baseball All-Star Game isn’t that bad. But John S, let’s be honest with ourselves and call a spade a spade. What fan of baseball is actually going to subject themselves to the abject torture that is the All-Star Game? I challenge you, John S, to sit there through the interminable player introductions, ceremonial first pitches, shots of Bud Selig, and not least in inducing woe, the actual four-hour game, and come out on the other side of it thinking yourself somehow enhanced by the experience.

A confession: I have not watched an All-Star Game in its entirety; this is because I have a sense of propriety. I did monitor bits and pieces of last year’s, which proved mildly interesting. But suffice it to say that, each year, Major League Baseball errs more in its All-Star shenanigans than Daniel Uggla.

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