Cavs/Magic Game Last Night – A Foul Experience

By this stage of the NBA Playoffs, you should expect to see good teams playing intense and competitive basketball games. Last night, the Cavs and the Magic – two good teams – played an intense game that was close from beginning to end. It should have been great entertainment but it was not. The reason is that the intensity mixed together with the officials created a concoction whose main ingredients were a stopped clock and a parade to the foul line. The game ended in regulation time; three players fouled out; a total of 58 fouls were called in addition to 2 technical fouls; a total of 86 free throws were shot. The game had all the rhythm and tempo of a funeral dirge. By the way, the Magic won just in case you finished that pot of coffee in the third quarter and could not make it until the end of the game…

The Indy 500 happened last weekend. I will simply give you a short portion of Bernie Lincicome’s description from his blog here to summarize what the Indy 500 has become:

“Television has done what it can to make turning left exciting, with on board cameras and talking to the drivers during the race and putting little cartoon cars on a make believe oval, like one of those candy piece races at the basketball game.

“But until something happens, that is, until somebody crashes into somebody else, auto racing is duller than warts.”

Speaking of televised sports, I want to state for the record and I suspect that this statement will go without any significant contradiction:

    NHL games are soooo much better on high-def!

As last week ended, Jake Peavy exercised his no-trade clause and vetoed a deal that would have sent him to the White Sox reportedly in exchange for 4 young prospects. Some have criticized Peavy for doing this – even challenging his courage for opting to stay out of the American League – but what is the purpose of having a no-trade clause if it is not to prevent being sent to a team/city/situation that is not of your liking? I do not think Jake Peavy did anything wrong here at all.

Now as for the White Sox, that is a different story. Peavy’s no-trade clause was not a bit of classified information protected with all the zeal of national security data. So, before the negotiations with the Padres ever got down to the specific players that might be sent to San Diego in exchange for Peavy, would you not think that someone from the White Sox organization would have spoken directly with Peavy and/or his agent to know that he would accept the trade if and when it the Padres agree to terms? I do not understand how the White Sox could have let things unfold the way they did.

By the way, after the Minnesota Twins beat the White Sox 20-1 last week, is there still any compelling reason for MLB to hold the Home Run Derby this year? I didn’t think so…

The data is in. Attendance at the Preakness a week ago was down 35,000 people from a year ago. Most of that decrease was seen in the Pimlico infield partiers who stayed away once it was announced that people could not bring in their own beer – or even their own bottled water. Coupled with the poor economy and the general decline of horseracing, attendance took a serious hit. The Maryland Jockey Club – these are the folks who are in charge of the Preakness and Maryland racing in general – still says that they made the right decision and they expect that attendance will go back to previous levels in the next several years.

That assumes that the Preakness will still be held at Pimlico several years from now and that is not a foregone conclusion.

I am of two minds here. On one hand, Maryland racing – not just Magna Entertainment who owns the tracks – is in crisis. Last time I checked, a ticket to get into Pimlico for the infield party on Preakness day cost $50. Therefore, the cash-strapped Maryland Jockey Club turned away about $1.75M just in admission fees. Add in the parking revenue and other purchases and a few wagers from these folks and you can probably set the cost of the diminished attendance at $3M. That seems not to be a good economic decision.

On the other hand, Pimlico is not a facility that handles six-figure crowds well. The last time I attended the Preakness, the announced attendance was something like 85,000 and it was not a great experience. Even back then, the atmosphere of drunken debauchery created an unpleasant day at the races; by all accounts, it had only gotten worse in the intervening years.

The Maryland Jockey Club needs to find a way to stay in the racing business AND it needs to find a way to make the Preakness into a day at the races that in enjoyable for all kinds of fans. That is not an easy line to walk. At the moment, they seem to have found a way to antagonize one large segment of their fans while still providing a sub-standard experience for others by forcing them to spend a day in a decrepit facility.

Earlier this month, the Miami Dolphins sold the naming rights to their stadium to Landshark Lager. Now at the end of this month, the Dolphins have announced an innovation in that stadium that seems like the Great Leap Backwards to me – - with all due apologies to Mao Zedong here. I will let Greg Cote of the Miami Herald summarize for you:

“To enhance the fan experience at BadBeer Stadium this season, the Dolphins announced that 5,000 hand-held devices would be available to premium seat holders in the club and suite levels. The rich folk will be able to access instant replay, different camera angles, field-level audio and split-screen video and statistics. In other words, they will be at the game, but it almost will be as if they were at home watching it on a really, really small TV.”

Finally, here is an item from Bob Molinaro in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot – - followed by a retort from me:

Men’s Fitness magazine just picked its list of the 25 Fittest Men in America. The No. 1 spot went to Spanish tennis player Rafael Nadal. What part of America is Spain in?”

    Memo to Bob Molinaro: Hey, look at the bright side. At least it wasn’t National Geographic

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

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  • Ed  On May 25, 2009 at 2:39 pm

    The White Sox may have let it leak to tell its fans “Hey, we’re seriously trying to upgrade for you!” – as a PR tool.

    They still stage Home Run Derby – it’s called Yankee home games. They are on pace to give up over 300 HRs. The NY Daily News has a comparison after each Yankee home game, and they are ahead of the Coors field record. They had a HR on a broken bat the other night. Not cracked. Broken off.

  • The Sports Curmudgeon  On May 27, 2009 at 10:11 am


    If – I said IF – Peavy were to wind up with the Cubs, that “leak” you suggest might turn into a PR nightmare. You could be correct; I prefer to think that the White Sox just didn’t deal with all the details in that transaction fully.

    I saw the SportsCenter highlight of the “broken bat HR”. Maybe HRs in Yankee Stadium should only count for half-a-run on the scoreboard?

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