I have a hodgepodge of things to rant upon today so let me begin with a note from a friend who loves to come up with arcane stats and sports happenings. He sent along an email with two such items that I think are interesting enough to pass along. Notice I said they were “interesting”; I assign little if any “importance” to them:
- If Tony Gwynn had extended his career and gone 0 for his next 1199 at bats, he would still have retired with a .300 career batting average.
- In 2023, NFL teams are 40-129 when trailing at halftime. The Eagles are 5-0 while the rest of the league is 35-129.
Next … The numbers are in and the NFL TV ratings for Thanksgiving Day set a record for that Holiday. The average TV audience across all three games was 34.1 million viewers. The previous record was set on Thanksgiving Day in 2022 at 33.6 million viewers so the audience was up by 1.5%. As usual, the second game of the day – – the one involving the Dallas Cowboys – – drew the largest audience; this year it averaged 41.8 million viewers even though the outcome was not in doubt for a large portion of the game.
Keep the magnitude of these numbers in mind the next time you read about how football is dying because of the scourge of CTE that affects its players. Pay particular attention to reports about TV audiences on Christmas Day this year. The NBA will present 5 games on Christmas Day starting at noon ET; the league has scheduled 5 quality games for the day. The NFL will also be on TV on Christmas Day starting at 1:00 PM ET; the league will present two divisional games and a night game with two strong teams on the field. My guess is that the NFL audience will be triple the size of the NBA audience.
Tangentially … Speaking obliquely about the NBA, raise your hand if you already knew that the inaugural in-season tournament has concluded its group round and has entered the knockout round. If you are a Washington Post subscriber, you would not have followed the group phase easily since the group standings were not included in the paper’s “Scoreboard” entry where standings and stats are aggregated. So, how many of you know:
- How many teams graduate from the group phase to the knockout round?
- Can you name half of them?
- Were those names a guess based on who you think are the “good teams” as opposed to the “bad teams?
- When/where will the final game for the in-season tournament be played?
Moving along … A report yesterday said that the University of Delaware was going to pay a $5M “Application Fee” to be able to move up from Division 1-AA football to Division 1-A football in 2025. Delaware would join C-USA and play football with the big guys. I have three reactions here:
- I had no idea a school needed to pay an “Application Fee” to jump from one level to another, so now my question is why do they need to do that and to whom does Delaware make out the check?
- Other teams in C-USA include New Mexico St., UTEP, Sam Houston and Florida International. That seems like a lot of traveling for the Blue Hens and no immediately obvious “natural rivalries”.
- Delaware had been in the Division 1-AA playoffs 4 times in the last 6 years including 2023; they play a second-round game this weekend against Montana. However, Delaware’s one meeting with a Division 1-A school this year was a 63-7 loss to Penn State. There is roster building to be done in Newark, DE…
Switching gears … Nature abhors a vacuum. Evidently, so does baseball. With the move of the Oakland A’s to Las Vegas all but accomplished – – they still have a stadium to build there – – baseball is already slated to fill the void for Oakland baseball fans. The city will get a minor league team in the Frontier League which will be called the Oakland Ballers and will be abbreviated as the Oakland B’s. Two things here:
- Calling the team the Oakland B’s is sort of clever given that the departing team was known as the A’s. However, if/when the B’s stink out the joint, it will be easy to call them “The Plan B’s” with references to abortion and other unsavory imagery.
- Speaking of stinking out the joint, that is what the A’s have basically been doing to Oakland baseball fans for most of the last decade. So, maybe the change in the level of play will not be so hard for fans to accept when the B’s take the field.
In announcing the creation of the Oakland Ballers, the team – naturally – issued a statement defining the team and its commitment to Oakland. In part, that statement said:
“Unlike the A’s, the B’s vow to never leave town. The Oakland B’s will be for Oakland, by Oakland, and forever in Oakland. The Oakland B’s believe that sports teams should serve their communities—not the other way around.”
The phrase “forever in Oakland” sounds great but could come back to haunt the team founders. Forever is about as far into the future as the Twelfth of Never – – and Johnny Mathis reminded us that the Twelfth of Never is a “long, long time”.
As indicated, here are the answers to the questions about the NBA in-season tournament:
- Eight teams come out of the group phase and play in the knockout round.
- They are the Suns/Lakers, Pelicans/Kings, Knicks/Bucks and Celtics/Pacers.
- The final game of the tournament will be played in Las Vegas on December 9th.
- So, now you know…
Finally, just because I want to do so, I’ll close today with an observation by Bill Watterson – – the creator of Calvin and Hobbes:
“Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists somewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………