Monday, January 03, 2005

SPORTS RANTS

Well, I know that nobody cares about sports because of what happened with the tsunami. No one cares and I don't blame people for not caring about sports. There are lots of more important things going on in the world besides sports at the moment. Having said that, these last few days have been tremendous for sports fans.

The world juniors finals are set: Canada takes on Russia on Tuesday for the gold medal. Canada stomped the Czechs 3-1 on Sunday to make it into the finals. The games in Grand Forks and Thief River Falls have been getting big crowds and big ratings- even ESPN mentioned one of the scores from that tournament on the radio, woo hoo!

NFL REGULAR SEASON OVER (SOB!) (BOO HOO!)

Yesterday was the last day of the NFL season. But don't worry, you desperate football housewives, there's still the playoffs. So the agony continues for all of you.

In my opinion the last weekend of the NFL regular season is the best final day in sports. Occasionally the final weekend of an NHL or NBA season has a lot of playoff permutations, and sometimes a baseball pennant race is decided on the last day. But it's nothing like the mad yearly scramble for playoff positions in the NFL, with teams watching the scoreboard to find out whether or not they would make it to the post-season, and people pulling out their calculators to determine the tie-breaking scenarios. It seems as if every year this mad scramble happens in the NFL and it's one of the things that makes that league great. That's why I don't think they should change or expand the playoffs beyond the current 12 teams. If they expand it any more it just cheapens the regular season and makes the final weekend seem like a joke. In fact, it was a joke this year with a bunch of 8-and-8 teams trying to get into the playoffs. If you expand it any more you might get, what, 7-and-9 being good enough for the NFL playoffs. That is not right, people, it would turn the NFL into the NHL, and if there's any league that should not be copied in any way, shape or form it is the NHL. "Let's allow everyone into the playoffs! Let's make the regular season irrelevant!" No wonder the NHL is not missed right now.

The game of the day yesterday turned out to be the matchup down in the 'Dome in St. Louis, where the Rams hosted the New York Jets. That was a game that all the other playoff contenders in both conferences were watching: the Buffalo Bills were watching to see if they could clinch a playoff spot and boot out the Jets, while the New Orleans Saints were watching in the hope that the Rams would lose and open a door to allow the Saints to sneak in. It was lots of fun yesterday watching the Rams and Jets battle their way into overtime while all these other big games were going on. The hapless Bills were once again blowing their season, losing at home to the Steelers, while hapless Saints fans were left twisting in the wind as the Jets blew a field goal in overtime, allowing the Rams to march down the field to kick the game winner that knocked the Saints right out of the playoffs.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: COUNT ALL THE HANGING CHADS! THIS IS AMERICA!

In stark contrast is college football in the US---the non-playoffs known as the Bowl Championship Series. What a joke! Everyone knew all season it would come down to USC and Oklahoma, and they both went 12 and 0 and will meet tomorrow for the Orange Bowl and national title. Both teams basically finished first and second based on the votes of these hack football coaches and from calculations by these computer experts. Think about it. U.S. College football is the only sport in the world where the champion is democratically elected! What a farce. It's like letting the Supreme Court judges pick the President of the United States, every freaking election!

Maybe former sportscaster Keith Olbermann should forget about ranting and raving about voting irregularities in the US election on MSNBC and focus on the irregularities and nonsense that comes with the BCS. He might do the public a service.

I don't know of any other sport that has a bunch of hack sportswriters and hack football coaches picking its champion. But now that I think of it, we have an idea now for what to do when the NHL season is cancelled: we can simply elect to award the Stanley Cup to the team we think is the best team in hockey. We'll simply put a bunch of data into the computers, the computers will spill out the results and we'll all vote for the Stanley Cup winner! Hey, it works in college football, why not the NHL? It'll be the only way the Toronto Maple Leafs ever win a Cup! And we don't even need to play any games!

What really stinks about this BCS bull-crap-system is that other teams could go 12 and 0 and not be given a shot at a title because there aren't any playoffs. So Utah goes undefeated and doesn't even get a shot at the national title. Why? Because they're from Utah, and because their schedule supposedly consists of crummy football programs from the mountain West. So therefore Utah isn't considered a real football program like the big boys from USC or Oklahoma, whose schedules consist of... um, crummy football programs from the Pacific Coast and Southwest. So even though Utah got to go to the BCS and crushed their opponent Pittsburgh in the Fiesta Bowl, they don't get to be considered for the title.

That's the other thing about the BCS--- there's one game that decides the national title. The rest are just glorified exhibition games that basically mean very little. You can win a BCS game like the Fiesta Bowl, and what happens? Some big sponsors give you a car or something and you go home as "Fiesta Bowl Champions!" And you're expected to go home satisfied.

Tonight, Auburn, another team that went 12 and 0, plays in the consolation prize that is the Sugar Bowl, against---- Virginia Tech, 10 and 2! But they should have been given a shot at a national title because they played in the super-tough SEC, and logic would dictate that playing a tough schedule ought to allow you a shot at the big game. See, this is why they need to reform the bowl system. Too many good schools are getting screwed, and there's no logic to the BCS rankings. So Auburn plays tonight and if they win they get to be Sugar Bowl Champions, and for that what do they get? A bowl full of sugar!? Unfortunately, that's all they're getting, folks, a pile of sugar, which makes tonight a complete nothing game. All they're playing for is to go undefeated, but why should Auburn have to play in the Sugar Bowl, which this year is a nothing game, while two other teams get to play for the BCS National Title in the Orange Bowl? In short, Auburn's getting screwed.

Last year there was even less logic. USC was totally screwed out of the BCS. They finished number one in the polls, all of them, but the BCS computer rankings had LSU and Oklahoma ahead of them for no apparent reason- strength of schedule was the excuse. So LSU and OU got to meet in the Sugar Bowl for the national title. But then the AP sportswriters decided to simply recognize USC as champion regardless of what happened in the Sugar Bowl. Both USC and LSU won their bowl games and LSU got the BCS National Title while the AP gave the title to USC. So in the end we got a split national title and a lot of disgusted, disenchanted football fans. In fact, I hear that apparently the Rose Bowl has decided to pull out of the BCS soon, so what happens now? Where do the Pac-10 champions go now, the Rose Bowl or the BCS? Maybe they'll skip the BCS to play in the Rose Bowl, in order to have a better shot at winning the AP national title! I dunno what's happening with the Rose Bowl.

What a mess. We may be back to the old days of multiple champions and controversy all the time. This BCS was supposed to solve all this lunacy of football champions elected by sportswriters, but it has turned into a bad joke.

Gang, figure it out. Get a playoff system in place that incorporates the bowls, and make it work so that schools don't get screwed right out of national title shots! Simple formula, but these schools would rather make their money from Tostitos, and CapitalOne, and all these other big bowl game sponsors. They don't realize they'd make even more money and get better sponsors with decent playoffs. Then they could use that money to cure cancer or do whatever universities in the 'States do (spend on football recruitment?!).

I plan to watch tonight's Sugar Bowl but do I really care who wins? I should retitle my blog and change it to "who cares!", because that's the story of my life right now. Overall though, the last few days have been great. Lots of sports on the tube. And Saturday was the first Saturday in a long while where I totally didn't care about the National Hockey League. I tuned into nothing but football. I didn't miss the NHL at all.

GRETZKY OPENS HIS MOUTH, SAYS WE COULD HAVE NO NHL HOCKEY FOR TWO YEARS

Um, thanks a lot, Great One.

Can someone tell Wayne Gretzky to do something other than simply moan about how we could have no hockey for two or three years if we can't get an NHL deal done. Doesn't he realize that the fans are moving on and that the NHL is soon going to be out of sight, out of mind? Wayne, get involved and save your own sport! You're the only guy out there capable of bringing these two sides together and talking some sense into them! DO something, man!!!!!

CRAIG FERGUSON TAKES OVER LATE LATE SHOW

In late night comedy news tonight Craig Ferguson officially takes over as the new host of The Late Late Show on CBS, replacing all those pathetic guest hosts that sat in for Craig Kilborn after he left. Thank G. Now maybe we can watch that show again.

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