Baseball, Football And Basketball Today

Yesterday was a great day to be a sports fan with cable TV access until the final helping.  The Yankees evened their series with the Indians at 2-2 in what was the least exciting baseball game of the day.  The Dodgers competed their sweep of the D-Backs in the NL in workmanlike fashion.  Then, there were the other two games;

  1. The Cubs beat the Nats 2-1 to take a series lead of 2-1.  They did this despite Max Scherzer throwing six-and-a-third innings and giving up only 1 hit and 1 run.  The Nats led 1-0 at the time but the three relievers that followed Scherzer could not hold the lead.  Dusty Baker has been questioned in the past for some of his playoff decisions and there were two in this game that will attract scrutiny.  The first was pulling Scherzer – presuming that Scherzer’s hamstring injury did not flare up – and the decision to pitch to Anthony Rizzo with first base open in the eighth inning will be “examined” if the Nats lose the series.
  2. The Astros closed out the Red Sox in the ALDS.  This was the best game of the day because the Astros had to find a way to score 3 runs off Chris Sale and Craig Kimbrell to get the win.  Make no mistake, Sale and Kimbrell are both excellent but the Astros did what was necessary with 2 runs in the eighth inning and another run in the ninth inning to move on.  The winning run was driven in by Carlos Beltran; it seems as he has been around since the time when the world’s oldest profession was merely a hobby.

And then, there was Monday Night Football.  After a main course of those two great baseball games, the dessert offered by MNF was disappointing at best.  Imagine yourself at a fine-dining event with a fixed menu where you have had a stunning appetizer and main course only to discover that your dessert is broccoli and brussels sprouts pudding.  Yeah, that’s about right…

Even though the game was close throughout, it was a mess because the reason it was close was that neither team could do diddley-squat on offense.  The Vikes started Sam Bradford at QB and he was clearly still aching; he could not move well and his throwing motion was forced and erratic.  After halftime, Case Keenum came to the rescue…  Meanwhile, last night was the dawning of the Age of Mitchell Trubisky in Chicago.  He did not throw up on his shoes but he wasn’t very good either; Jon Gruden tried to make it seem as if he was doing lots of good things but that just did not pass the eyeball test.

I meant to include this comment from Scott Ostler of the SF Chronicle in yesterday’s football roundup, but I missed it in my notes.  It deals with the controversy last week over Cam Newton’s troglodyte-like remarks to a female reporter; let me put it here:

“Panthers head coach Ron Rivera has a favorite saying. In urging his players to focus on the job at hand and shut out distractions, he reminds them, ‘Be where your feet are.’

“Newton’s spent all last week in his own mouth.”

Believe it or not, the NBA Exhibition Season is in full swing; it seems as if they just finished the playoffs a week and a half ago.  There has been lots of movement and change in the league over the summer but I doubt that I will care about more than a game-or-two between the start of the season and mid-February.  The NBA did make a change to the format of its All-Star Game.  The player selection for the game itself remains the same; there is fan voting, press voting and player voting to determine who is going to be in the game.  The change is that the two players who get the most votes will then “choose up sides” in playground style to set the teams for the game.  Wow!  I don’t know if my heart can take that level of excitement and tension…

The “problem” with the NBA All-Star Game – the reason that it is ridiculed – has nothing to do with how the two teams on the court are formed.  The “problem” is very simple but it is not one that the league or the players’ union wants to articulate:

  • The NBA All Stars dog it in the All-Star Game.  They do not even pretend to play actual NBA basketball; they do not even give a good imitation of someone going through the motions to play basketball.
  • They are entertainers who are ripping off the crowd that came to see them.  It is like going to a piano concert by Vladimir Horowitz and when he comes onto the stage all he does is play chopsticks.

In an attempt to make it to the Guinness Book of World Records in the category “Most Irrelevant Topic for Debate Ever”, the people covering the NBA have given us a 3-day discussion of Jeremy Lin’s choice of how to wear his hair.  Seriously …

Remember the D-League – – the minor leagues of pro basketball in the US?  Well, it is now the G-League and the “G” stands for Gatorade.  The other interpretation is that the G-League is three grades below what used to be the D-League but that would be ungenerous of me to point out.  The G-League has an Exhibition Season too; how much would they have to pay you to go and watch one of those events?

The NBA and the G-League are doing some experimenting with the G-League Exhibition Games and with the G-League games in November.  They are going to use 4 officials in those games plus they will try using 5 officials in a half-dozen or so games.  I remember that the D-League did some games with 4-person officiating crews so my only conclusion is that someone still thinks this is a good idea.

I officiated basketball for 37 years albeit not at any level remotely close to the D-League or the NBA.  The change to 3-person crews was beneficial to the game; when I watch NBA contests, I do not see many situations where officials are so out of position that they cannot make proper calls because they cannot see the action on the court clearly.  I think 4-person crews are overkill and the idea of a 5-person crew is redundantly superfluous.

Finally, Scott Ostler of the SF Chronicle seems to agree with me regarding expanded officiating crews in the NBA based on this comment:

“Another suggestion for the NBA: The Gatorade League (formerly D League) will experiment with four refs. The NBA should follow suit, but the fourth ref should be a trained acting coach whose job will be to call flops. James Harden would soon be playing in the G League.”

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