Monday, February 21, 2011

Let the Parity Ensue! Can 2011 Be the Year of the Underdog?

Tidbits and observations from the realm of sport

Huge win for the Gryffindor Lions who now pull solidly into a 5th place tie of the NHL’s Western Conference after their 4-0 win over the Montreal Canadiens. Awesome Calgary uniforms aside, it was great to see outdoor NHL hockey return to Canada where it belongs. Some worry if outdoor games will lose their cachet. If the NHL doesn’t change one thing, the answer is yes. Fans are often noting the Winter/Heritage classic games have poor sight-lines and are separated from the action but are worth the high price for “the experience.” As time goes on, the “experience” factor will soon fade away. Get fans as close to the action as they get in an arena.

It was nice to see NASCAR stick to their guns for once rather than just fenagle with rulings to make things better for marketing. (I say 'for once' because I'm still not sure how half a spoiler is ok in the truck series). In all three of the NASCAR series over the weekend, the winners in Daytona logged a whopping 0 (zero) championship points. Some people think of it as silly, but it’s not. Nationwide driver Trevor Bayne winning the Daytona 500 is an odd situation, but he does not intend to contend in Cup; and not awarding points for Michael Waltrip or Tony Stewart is exactly what needs to happen to start discouraging Cup drivers from ruining the ladder series.

I guess we shouldn’t really be surprised by anything that Bernie Eclestone does these days; but really I have to say I’m shocked that, even with someone who loves money as much as he does, he is still trying to get the F1 Bahrain GP rescheduled. I just don’t think he understands human nature; once a government starts killing its citizens, no amount of time is going to allow that blow over; at least not until that government regime is gone. Hopefully the race’s so-called “postponed” status is actually an indefinite moniker but is just stated as is to not have the series jump into something political... then again am I giving Bernie too much credit to hope that?

The sound of ‘ping’ means Spring has begun! Ok, it’s still cold in many places, but this weekend was the official start of the NCAA baseball season and that means I have an excuse to put that cartoon anteater on here. College baseball is right next to basketball in terms of post-season parity and also awesomeness of the post-season format. Unlike Major League Baseball, it doesn’t take forever to complete (champion will be crowned in June) and there’s no Yankees or Red Sox. In fact, college baseball more than any other major NCAA sport has the most parity in terms of underdog contenders who win. In the last decade, 8 different teams have won the College World Series, from 6 different conferences and 6 different states. It also introduces us to some of the best mascots around as teams like the Dirtbags, Waves, Golden Eagles, Ragin Cajuns, Aztecs and the Anteaters are serious contenders, even as underdogs.

Congrats to the Baltimore Grand Prix! They have now gone 5 days without copying/pasting on twitter. They’ve not stopped tweeting to accomplish this, they’ve gone back to a great patter of interacting and finding new stuff to say. A nice breath of fresh air, and one we can only hope continues.

Get the popcorn, because this is going to be good! If you were watching the Daytona 500, you may have seen a trailer for the new Cars 2 movie. But that’s not what the popcorn is necessarily for. The movie’s premise calls for the main character (a stock car) to compete in a Race of Champions against formula, sports-prototype and rally cars across the world on road/street courses. The movie will no doubt be great and entertaining, but may not be as near entertaining as all the bitching/whining/complaining that will soon flood Formula 1/LeMans/IndyCar message boards.

Speaking of message boards, IndyCar fans should head over to this new Tomas Sheckter Q&A forum. Tomas opened this up after Paul Tracy did one earlier. Just like Tracy, Tomas is being incredibly candid about everything. What was it like to drive for Eddie Cheever or John Barnes and why he left Panther, but my favorite so far has to be a hilarious story about pretending he wasn’t himself at a hibachi restaurant after the 2002 Indy 500, and understandably so.

Lastly, thank you NCAA basketball for always keeping things interesting as we head closer to your post-season, underdogs are very much alive! This past week four of the “Top 5” ranked teams lost. This means we’re heading into March without a clear favorite. #4 San Diego State now holds the best record being the only team with only 1 loss… but has a rematch with the Jimmer (#7 BYU) who gave SDSU their 1 loss. that's right the Mountain West has not one, but two teams in the Top 10 as we head towards March Madness, underdogs unite! Then there’s all the many conference races…

Let’s attempt sorting Conference USA: Southern Miss (USM) is technically on top by virtue of having the best overall record but has a loss at Marshall and lost twice to Memphis (both happening in the final seconds). Memphis has been just outside of being ranked but has lost games to Marshall and Tulsa. Tulsa hasn’t played USM or Marshall yet and beat Memphis but then lost to UTEP… only to return and beat them later. UTEP was the conference leader until they recently lost to Southern Miss this weekend and also previously got beaten by UAB whose losses are Tulsa, Memphis and USM... So who is #1? Its times like this you need to be incredibly thankful football is the only sport that determines its champions by opinions and rankings…

The #6 seed Green Bay Packers win in the NFL, "2nd Cup race ever" Trevor Bayne wins the Daytona 500, Aztecs and Cougars Top 10'ing in NCAA Basketball, Anteaters and Red Storm ranking in NCAA baseball; now if we could just get Penske/Ganassi to get a little competition in IndyCar we could truly have a year of underdogs. I'm calling it now, Cubs win the World Series... yeah ok maybe not all underdogs.

1 comment:

Wright Computing said...

Cars 2 is coming out yeah I love the first one. One of the best things about having kids is you get to watch Disney movies all the time.