Congratulations To UNC …

Congratulations to the University of North Carolina as the men’s basketball national champions for 2017.  Before the tournament started I was sort of hoping for a final game that would be a rematch of UNC and Villanova from last year; that didn’t happen.  My bracket pick had a final game between UNC and Kansas; that did not happen either.  Gonzaga earned their place in the final game.

Having said all of the above, I told my game-watching companions as soon as the game was over that I thought it was not a particularly well-played game by either team; and moreover, I did not think that the game was well officiated. I said then – and I still believe – that the only saving grace for last night’s game from a viewer’s standpoint is that the game was close throughout.  Knowing that I have seen every final game on TV since 1954, one of my viewing companions asked if I meant this was the worst final game I had ever seen.  I said then I would have to sleep on that question because it would take time to dredge up memories.

As of this morning, I will say that the closeness of last night’s game assures that it cannot be the worst final game I ever saw because close games where the winner is in doubt down to the final minutes are universally better than blowouts.  I do not recall the year, but I do remember when Duke beat Michigan in the final game in a blowout; that was when Michigan had the Fab Five.  That game was no fun to watch.  I also recall when UNLV beat Duke by about 30 points in a final game.  That game was not fun to watch.  I remember one of John Wooden’s teams at UCLA (with Bill Walton at center) demolishing Memphis State.  That game was not fun to watch.

The only blowout final game that was fun for me to watch was my first one in 1954.  LaSalle beat Bradley by about 20 points but I loved the game because I was given dispensation from my parents to stay up and watch it even though it was long past my bedtime.  That game was “special” to me for that reason; it was sort of like having an extra New Year’s Eve in the year when I could stay up until close to midnight…

Switching gears …  One might think that the news value of items connected to the Raiders’ move to Las Vegas might calm down now that the NFL has approved the transfer of the franchise from Oakland.  Well, that might be wishful thinking.

The Raiders signed a lease in Oakland before the start of last season that gave the team access to the stadium in Oakland for last year and it contained two one-year options for the Raiders to extend that lease.  So, the Raiders have a place to play in 2017 and in 2018.  HOW-EVAH [ /Stephen A. Smith ] the new digs in Las Vegas may not be ready until after the 2019 season.  Aye, there’s the rub …  [ /Hamlet ]

The Executive-Director of the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority told that it is unlikely they will be “welcomed back” in 2019.  I understand; in the immediate aftermath of the NFL vote that cost Oakland its team, there will be frayed nerves and hard feelings.  I also understand that this sort of statement can be the opening element of a potential future negotiation where the Coliseum Authority will want to extort a princely sum to extend that lease yet one more year.  Nonetheless, this is a storyline that is going to continue to be part of the news until and unless the new stadium in Las Vegas is ready for NFL games starting in September 2019.  Here is a link to the report:

Scott McKibben is the executive-director of the Coliseum Authority and he told USA Today that it would be financially beneficial to the Authority to have the Raiders play anywhere else in 2019.  McKibben said:

“It’s actually financially to our benefit if they didn’t exercise the options and play here even in the two years they’ve got [2017/18].”

Obviously, I have not seen the details of the lease that exists at the moment nor would I have access to the accounting for the Coliseum Authority.  However, that statement might lead one to assume that Messr. McKibben and his colleagues are doofuses.  Consider:

  1. They negotiated this lease with the Raiders about a year ago when the idea in the air was that the Raiders and Chargers would jointly move to LA and build their own stadium there.  The lease in question is not one that has been in existence for a long time such that the Coliseum Authority could not do an accurate projection of what it might cost to stage Raiders’ games in their facility in 2016, 2017 and 2018.
  2. If the Coliseum Authority knew the costs relatively accurately and still signed a lease that guaranteed that they would get less “rent” from the Raiders than their costs, then the Coliseum Authority is not exactly on speed dial from the folks at MENSA.
  3. Not being a resident of California or the Bay Area, I do not know the details of the Coliseum Authority, but its name suggests that it is an entity that acts on behalf of the local government and is somehow beholden to the local government.  If that is even vaguely correct, then Raiders’ fans have yet one more entity to draw their ire.  Not only will the team pick up and leave but they are going to be playing out their days in Oakland while putting a deficit number on the board for the local government to cover. Does that suck or what?

Frankly, I wonder how the fans in Oakland will support the Raiders after 2017.  I presume that most of the season ticket sales/renewals have been done by now so the finances for 2017 are relatively settled in.  But how about 2018?  The Coliseum Authority might be cool to the Raiders coming back in 2019; perhaps the fans will be cool to their coming back in 2018?

Finally, Dwight Perry had this item in the Seattle Times over the weekend putting a punctuation mark on the telecasts of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament:

“WBNS-TV viewers in Columbus, Ohio, missed the deciding moments of Sunday’s North Carolina-Kentucky regional title game — Malik Monk’s tying three and Luke Maye’s final-second winner — because its weather staff cut in to deliver news of a tornado warning for Franklin and Madison counties.

“Heidi was unavailable for comment.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………



7 thoughts on “Congratulations To UNC …”

  1. I have heard a lot of chatter about missed calls last night, and there were certainly a few. But I wonder if the missed calls were any more prevalent than normal. Having about 4-5 dozen cameras at multiple levels around the court can certainly reveal the degree of miss whenever it happens. I think we had two teams with deep benches and very physical big guys who felt no urgency about gentlemanly behavior on the court. Meeks and Karnarsky could have each had a dozen fouls if the officials strictly followed the rules in making their calls.

    Something happened last night that I found unique. There were several calls for traveling. I may have watched 50 games since I last saw that call on TV. Williams-Goss seemed to think he could take as many extra steps as he needed, so long as he didn’t have to stop for a water break. The most egregious miss was the no-call on Meeks’ hand out of bounds and the held ball call with about a minute left. That call may have been the final nail for the Zags. They seemed to lose their focus after that.

    1. Doug:

      When a team as good as Gonzaga has more fouls calle don it than it has field goals made, that is an indicator that the whistles were coming fast and furious. The “Meeks baseline call” was an egregious error given where the official was standing.

      I think the plethora of whistles – for traveling and for held balls which are rarely called – took any rhythm that may have developed out of the game. If I recall correctly, both teams were about to shoot bonus free throws with about 14 minutes yet to play in the second half.

  2. The game was as gritty as a hockey match, the most interesting comment was that the refs were “equally bad” on phantom fouls. Back in my playing days, you could adjust to a bad referee but not a biased one. With that said I have no doubt that Coach Few will be back IF the roster stays healthy next year.

    The Raiders story is interesting. I would guess that the Coliseum Commission has already started filling dates in order to make that statement accurate. What is true is that the taxpayers are paying off the debt until 2025 (on the Raiders, there is also a smaller debt tied to the arena upgrade) so the venue cannot be left idle. If I were a betting man, however, I would be more likely to think that IF Las Vegas’ stadium is not ready then the Coliseum would let the Raiders play there in 2019 and the official’s statement is posturing. There are too many ifs, assumptions, fiscal maybes and milestones between now and the LV stadium opening to believe that it is going to be on time and on budget. The question would be where the Raiders will play, so IF the Coliseum commission wanted them (and they should) it will be a question of price. That price will depend on the leverage, in turn dependent upon stadium progress in LV.

    1. rugger9:

      I do not think the officials were biased; I just think they did not do the kind of job I would have expected from the men who earned the assignment for the Final Game.

      In my mind, the question for Oakland now becomes:

        What are you going to do to upgrade the Coliseum for the A’s?

      MLB owners are much less prone to move franchises than are the owners in the NFL and the NBA – both or which have abandoned Oakland – but the place was a dump when I last visited in the 1990s and probably needs plenty of modernization today and not just a fresh coat of paint.

      1. As a dump it might give the old Philly Vet a run for its money. Fercryingoutloud they had sewage bubble up in the locker rooms, so something would be done. IIRC the field proper sits below sea level so among the fixes:

        Remove Mount Davis so you can see the Diablo Range again.
        Raise the field up about 10 feet so water table issues will never cause problems again.
        Fix the d__n pipes.

        In terms of access it is a very superior location.

        1. rugger9:

          The Vet in Philly and Shea Stadium in NYC set the standard for “bad stadium”. I doubt that a single tear was shed when those edifices came down. If you equate the Coliseum with The Vet, it is going to take a lot of money and effort to rehab the facility. Can it be done during off-seasons such that the A’s will still have a place to play?

          1. That would depend upon the work list that emerges. However, most of these should be able to be completed in an off-season.

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