Monthly Archives: February 2013

Baseball season is here again

Today marked the first spring training game for the Brewers, which means the snow will soon be melting and Spring is right around the corner. It also means it is the start of the long series of posts of Brewers, Timber Rattlers and Rafters baseball along with other thoughts throughout Major, Minor, and Summer League baseball.

It does amazes me that out of the four major sports in the United States (Football, Baseball, Basketball and Hockey) that Baseball has the longest Spring Training/Exhibition season but nobody seems to care or want the baseball pre-season to be reduced.

The concern in the other big three sports is the concern for injury in games that “don’t count”, but in baseball, the concern is lessened for some reason. You would think that pitchers would be the most concerned with injury. I know the spring training is the time for pitchers to work on their timing, but also they are also only one pitch away from season ending injuries.

Anyway, baseball season is here!

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The NBA All Star Game is a Joke

What if you went to a basketball game and nobody played, but you still had to pay for your ticket? That is what you get with the NBA all star game, the NBA is in trouble, Stern just does not see the slump coming. Given how the game is played today, if I had paid as much as I did, I would ask for a refund.

The All Star game has become a joke, it is like walking into Subway, order a foot long roast beef, and only get one inch, but still pay the 12 inch price. The game is just a bunch of players goofing around for 3 1/2 quarters and then turns into a six or seven minute real game. What is the point of the game? Who would want to watch or pay to a game that nobody takes seriously or professionally? If there is no incentive, the players will not take the chance the size of the contracts today.

The All Star game is a hint of another possible issue in the NBA today, the seriousness of how the game is played in the regular season. The regular season games are starting to become only 8-10 minute games. Players are starting to not take the first three quarters seriously because they know if the score reasonably close, either team can win in the end.

This is starting to be recognized by the fans, nobody gets into the game for the first third quarters. For ticket holders, it is more about the other entertainment around the stadium than the game itself. For people watching on TV, you can turn the game on about two and a half hours after the tipoff just in time for the players to kick it up a notch and watch the ending of a close game. To sum it up, the first three quarters do not counter for anything. If you are only getting 1/4 the product you are expecting, then why go? The regular season game is too long today, four 12 minute quarters is too longer along with the TV and normal timeouts.

The college game excels for three reasons. 1) Two 20 minute half’s, less is more. There is less time to not have your head in the game. 2) Plays that occur in the beginning of the game can affect the end of the game. You can not skip most of the game in college and expect to understand how the game ended up the way it did. 3) Players care about playing from start to finish. Players know if you do not try in the start of the game, you will not be close in the final 5 minutes of the game.

The NBA game has become too different and confusing from the college game. Too many rules that seem to be changing everyday and they seem to favor the “Chosen” teams. Some the rules that are tainting the watch ability of the NBA game are:

  • Mid-Level cap exception, just set a salary cap and the teams can not go over that number
  • Defensive Three Seconds
  • Backcourt Foul Exceptions
  • Clear Path Fouls
  • Lack of Traveling enforcement
  • Too many timeouts
  • No five second guarding rule – This has stopped all kind of passing

In summary, the All Star game is pushing the issues of the league to the front, nobody is taking the NBA game seriously, people rather watch a whole college game rather than a quarter of a NBA game and it will be a matter of time before fans notice and spend their money elsewhere.

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We will miss you Charles Woodson

With the release of Charles Woodson, the Packers continue the ending the era of the Super Bowl winners like I mentioned here. While from the business side of the game it made sense given how much he was going to make along with his roster bonus, there is an emotional effect that made people want Woodson to be a Packers forever.

Back in 2006 when we signed Woodson, I thought this was a bad signing. I thought this was another player that did not want to come to Green Bay plus I thought that the best day were behind Woodson. I’m happy that Woodson proved me wrong, I’m happy that he proved he could be the defensive leader that we so needed at the time not only in words (Like so many players), but in his actions.

Age caught up with Woodson, but  he will never be forgotten in the eyes of Green Bay.

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Football Over! What to do now?

Now that the NFL season is over, what to do now for sports? Here in Central Wisconsin the Bucks are not that popular nor are we near/affiliated with any professional hockey team. Wisconsin Basketball only plays a couple times a week, so what to do?

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Time to ease up on Bo

First things first, big win against Michigan on Saturday. Second thing, will this be the win that will ease up the grumblings against Bo Ryan? I hope so, because for the past two years I have spent the winter trying to defend Bo Ryan from the “Bo Must Go” (a.k.a “BMG”) groups. These kind of groups are dangerous since they are the kind of people who like to bail at the first sign something does not go right with their team(s).

I agree that the offense in the past two season has been a little sub-par and can be painful to watch from time to time, but nobody is going to be perfect season to season. Bo is still able to win without jumping on every trend in basketball or recruiting players that do not fit the team culture or playing style. Bo Ryan has proven to be a winner season after season pulling out the big wins.

With this being said, people need to lay off Bo Ryan since he has not got Wisconsin to the Final Four. Getting to the Final Four is a difficult task, only 4 teams out of ~347 schools get there every season, and since we have not reached a Final Four to the same amount of time like Dick Bennett, everybody is in a panic. Bo has led the Badgers to the NCAA tournament every season which in itself is quite an accomplishment.

A national championship may never come again to Wisconsin no matter who the coach is, but it should be noted that John Wooden did not win his first national championship until his 16th season coaching the Bruins.

In this era of the quick championship or your out, it is refreshing to see a program like Wisconsin stick with Ryan because first, he wins more than he loses (which always helps) and second, plays by the rules, which you do not see from many national champions lately. It seems that most programs are investigated for some kind of violation years later. You have not heard about any program related violations with Bo Ryan, and I hope it stays that way.

I really hope, when Bo does leave, it is on his own terms. People now a days live in a “Grass is greener on the other side” culture. We are unable to the accept the fact that we can not win it all every year, somebody has to win and somebody has to lose. Bo has won ~72% of all his games as head coach at Wisconsin and I think there is no other coach that could come in at that level for that many years. Sure Bo has not taken us to a Final Four, but what guarantee would you have that Wisconsin would win with somebody else much less get to a Final Four? We could go back to a long hibernation like from 1947-1993 with no tournament appearances.

In conclusion, this is no time to even mention anything about a coaching change, especially after Saturday’s win, Bo has put us in an era of prolonged period of stabilization with consistent winning and I see no reason that Bo must Go.

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Soccer Cheating Scandel

Just a short thought today… Europol recently announced that they were investigating possible match fixing ring. Hearing this story is no surprise to myself. With all the money that is at stake people are looking for a sure thing to ensure they get richer. When you have EPL teams talking about the possible money they would lose from the TV contact rather than the winning aspect we know the priorities are out of line.

Betting seems more prevalent in Europe, it is more accepted. When you mix that with the paid that thing or are underpaid, people will exploit as long as there is a dollar to be made. Baseball when through a similar phase in the early days with the White Sox World Series scandal being the most prevalent of all the game fixing.

I’m sure that this will be the first in a long line of match fixing scandals in soccer that will be exposed in the coming days, months and years. Let just get this hope this goes as quickly as the story came. Fair play is the key to keeping fans coming to the game. Without it, the fans do not show up.

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PED’s in Baseball will never end

Another day, another PED’s scandal, this time in Baseball with reports that Ryan Braun was on a list for the lab Biogenesis along many other MLB players. This story goes to prove that baseball has a long way to go to remove PED’s from the game.

The rewards outweigh the risk right now in the MLB. Players that are using get larger contracts, more rewards and more advertisement. If you happen to get caught, you spend 50 games on the bench which is nothing considering how much money players bring in on a good year. The key element of baseball, hitting, is individual element of the game.

No other major professional league in the United States puts an emphasis on sure a single element of the game. In other professional leagues, one player can not dominate with at least some assistance from the surrounding cast or PED’s do not give them the advantage they need. In football, there are too many other players on the field, basketball players do not need more muscles to shoot, and hockey players need the ability to skate.

The penalties are too light, they do not deter players, 50 games…. so what? For most players, they come back, face a media onslaught for a little bit and return to their normal life’s. There are long term affects for future awards and any Hall of Fame consideration, but when you are making tens to hundreds of millions of dollars, you do not care about the Hall of Fame.

To start making a dent in the issue of PED’s, baseball needs to take drastic actions in the penalties. For starters, increase the suspension from baseball to two calendar years starting after all appeals have been exhausted along with a fine of all money the player made for the two years prior to being caught. This should deter players from even thinking about using any PED’s or cheating equivalent based the loss of 4 years worth of income.

Do I see this really happening? No, especially with the commissioner today in MLB with the game running him instead of him running the game. He can not stand up to the umpires, what makes you think he will have any power over the players? The game has been cleaned up somewhat better than 10 years ago, but if anybody thinks we were out of the woods, this story proved that we were all sorely mistaken.

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