Sunday, November 29, 2015

Scheduling Proposal

The NBA and NHL regular seasons are both, let’s face it, too long.  When you have 16 teams competing in four rounds of best-of-seven playoff rounds, you don’t need 82 and 84 games (respectively) to determine which 14 teams don’t make the cut.  This six-month grind doesn’t help the quality of play and thus doesn’t give the fans the best value for their entertainment dollar.

The trouble is, the genie is out of the bottle in terms of actually reducing the schedules.  Owners aren’t going to sacrifice even a few games’ worth of revenue, broadcasters would want to renegotiate contracts if they have fewer games to broadcast, players’ unions love the idea of fewer games in general but not if it would come (as it absolutely would) with a demand that salaries are reduced to reflect the smaller revenues.

So what we’re left with is figuring out ways to reduce the grind without actually reducing the number of games.  Hmmm.  While both seasons seem too long to hockey and basketball fans, I’d suggest a modest extension of one single week to the calendar.  Seven measly days isn’t too much to add.  Adding seven days to the front or back end allows for more of a midseason rest for the All-Star break, as well.  By adding seven days, it also allows for more time to slot in their 82/84 games and help bust up those awful scheduling conflicts where a team is playing four games in five nights or something.

I’m hardly the first to suggest such ideas and for all I know, I may not be the first to suggest this next idea as well.  (My researching skills are lousy!)  But it occurs to me that there’s a fairly simple way to reduce the amount of travel that each team in either sport takes.

One of the biggest contributors to “the grind” is the constant travel.  On a road trip, basketball and hockey players each spend usually one day in each city before heading off the next.  Baseball players, in contrast, face even more of a grind by having to fit 162 games into a 180-day window but at least their games are bunched into groups of three and four-game series.  It allows for a bit of time to settle in a new city rather than being on a seemingly never-ending shuttle that doesn’t allow for any practice time.

So my proposal is…why don’t NBA and NHL teams group their road games into a “series”?  The NBA schedule breaks down like this:

* two home games and two road games against your four division opponents (16 games)
* two home games and two road games against six of your 10 conference opponents (24 games)
* two home games and one road game against two of your 10 conference opponents (6 games)
* one home game and two road games against two of your 10 conference opponents (6 games)
* a home-and-home against all 15 teams in the other conference (30 games)

So if you’re the Raptors, you’re making multiple trips to Boston, Brooklyn, New York and Philadelphia every year, not to mention multiple trips to eight of Miami/Washington/Orlando/Atlanta/Charlotte/Detroit/Indiana/Chicago/Milwaukee/Cleveland every year as well.  My question is, why not just group them together?  So if Toronto is going to Atlanta twice, instead of making those trips on December 2 and April 7 (as per this year’s schedule), how about just putting both games within a three-day span.  It gives the road team time to relax in a new city and get some practice time in — coaches always complain that there’s never enough opportunity to practice during the season, so here’s an answer. 

The added cost of putting up players, coaches, team staff, etc. over two days in a hotel isn’t negligible, and while it saves on charter plane expenses, some owners might argue that if they’re paying for a team plane anyway, they might as well use it.  I have no idea if my idea would actually save on travel costs or not, but even if there’s a minor increase, I’d argue it’s worth it in order to keep your players more well-rested.  If your star player develops a bad back from the scheduling grind and can’t live up to his $20 million salary, that’s a larger opportunity cost than a couple of nights’ worth of a hotel bill.

Leagues already make an effort to group road games into geographic blocks — obviously a team going on a west coast road trip will face five or six of those clubs in one big trip rather than have to make multiple visits out west.  What I’d suggest, however, is taking is to the next level and layering the “series” concept onto a road trip. 

This year the Red Wings have two road games each against the Islanders, Rangers and Devils.  Instead of making six separate trips, would it make for sense for the Wings to simply stay in New York for 12-13 straight days and take care of all those games in one fell swoop?  They face the Rangers on two straight nights, then two days off, then back-to-back games with the Islanders, then two more days off, then two more games against the Devils.  They can even stay in one hotel to make the short trip (traffic aside) from Manhattan to Brooklyn to East Rutherford. 

Any situation where you can get teams to take fewer flights, give them more recovery time, etc. must be explored.  Right now you have a situation where NBA teams routinely rest star veteran players when they have a four games-in-five nights scenario on at least two of those dates, and I don’t blame the teams one bit.  The league and its broadcasters get mad since big-time matchups are watered down (i.e. the Spurs resting several veterans for a midseason game against Miami a couple of years ago) but rather than fine the teams, more needs to be done to avoid situations from getting to this point in the first place.

Besides, who wouldn’t want to spend 10 uninterrupted days in New York?  I’m sure Pavel Datsyuk is dying to see “Hamilton.”

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

Baby, if you ever wondered...wondered, whatever became of me...I'm living on the air in Cincinnati...Cincinnati, WKRP

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Let The Mystery Be

Big news --- I recently found two more people I know who actually a) know what the 'The Leftovers' is and b) actually enjoy it!  That brings our number up to five!  It's catching on!  Maybe it'd be more popular if they used this version of the theme song rather than the overly nasal, twangy version.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Chip Kelly vs. Charlie Kelly

Compare and contrast!

* Both live in Philadelphia

* Both are constantly coming up with outlandish schemes to help their Philly-based business succeed.

* Charlie is Green Man.  Chip dresses in green clothing.

* Charlie loves the Eagles.  Chip loves the Eagles, though you can be forgiven for thinking otherwise.

* Charlie is illiterate.  Chip needs to use signs on the sideline to communicate his (needlessly complicated) play calls to his players.

* Charlie pines over the Waitress, with no success.  Chip pined over Marcus Mariota, with no success since he couldn’t work out a trade to move up in the draft.

* It’s heavily implied that Charlie’s father is really Frank Reynolds.  But if I had to pick between Charlie and Chip….you be the judge.

* Charlie considers himself an expert in bird law, despite having no legal training whatsoever and “bird law” not actually being a thing.  Chip considers himself an expert in bird coaching, having coached the Philadelphia Eagles to…well, a “bird law” level of success.

* Charlie got Paddy’s Pub ready in whirlwind fashion for a health inspection, with success.  Chip used his fast-paced spread offense at the University Of Oregon, with success.

* Charlie’s favourite hobby is magnets.  Chip’s favourite hobby is trading for injury magnet Sam Bradford.

* Charlie huffs glue on a regular basis.  Chip thought it would be a good idea to have Sam Bradford and Mark Sanchez as his quarterbacks.

* Charlie hangs around with Dennis, Mac, Dee and Frank.  Chip employs Riley Cooper.

* Charlie’s favourite food is “milksteak,” which is two good things ruined when put in combination to make an unappetizing mess.  You know, like trying to work out a time split between DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews AND Darren Sproles.

* Charlie has lasted 11 seasons and counting in Philadelphia.

* Charlie finds pirates hilarious.  Chip probably doesn't find Buccaneers hilarious.

* Charlie didn’t go to college.  Chip has already been to college and will be returning in the next two to 14 months.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Warriors Hat

In the summer of 2011, my pals and I went on our annual baseball road trip, this time hitting the west coast for the first time to visit San Francisco and Oakland.  Despite taking a giant suitcase better suited to a Don Draper metaphor than to a five-day trip, I’d somehow forgotten to pack a hat to protect my bald head from the July sun.  So, while in town, I ducked into a Lids and decided to represent some local flavour by buying a Golden State Warriors ballcap.

The hat fit pretty well in the store, yet after a couple of hours of actual wear, it was clear this thing wasn’t quite big enough for my gigantic melon.  For those of you who have never met me, I’ve basically got a beachball on top of my neck.  Even with the adjustable cap stretched to its limit, I was still getting a headache.  So when I got home, I threw the cap in the backseat of my car and essentially forgot about it for years. 

Fast-forward to around a year ago, when I was cleaning out said car and decided that keeping a Warriors hat in the backseat was kind of silly….especially since I had a couple of fisherman’s hats already there.  What can I say, head protection is a concern when your skull is bereft of hair.  Instead of taking the hat indoors or donating it to Goodwill or doing anything to actually create less clutter, however, I just tossed the cap into my trunk.

Since then….the Warriors have been unbeatable.  They rolled through the 2014-15 regular season.  They ran through the NBA playoffs en route to their first championship in 40 years.  Now, they’re a whopping 14-0 to kick off the current season and appear to be unbeatable short of facing Brock Lesnar in their 22nd game.

I’m not taking ALL the credit for Golden State’s miraculous success, but put it this way.  If you’re a Warriors fan and want to keep the good times rolling, please donate to my “keep the cap in the trunk” Kickstarter.  I’m not calling it sports fan blackmail, but…..well, I guess I just did.  Who knew that all it took to break a 40-year cold streak was putting a hat next to my spare tire? 

Also, who knew my family’s cursed luck with NFL apparel is countered by a 100% success rate at buying NBA apparel?  I buy a Warriors hat and within a few years they’re champions.  My brother buys a Michael Jordan jersey as a teenager and the Bulls win titles from 1996-98.  (Yes, I’m sure THAT was the reason for the second Chicago Bulls dynasty.)

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Peter Piper's Lies

[Sean Bean meme] One cannot simply pick a peck of pickled peppers.  [/Sean Bean meme]  You can only pickle a pepper after the fact, so while Peter Piper can certainly pick a peck of peppers, there is no earthly way he could pick a peck of pickled peppers.  What, are we supposed to believe that Peter Piper discovered some magical field infused with natural vinegar so the peppers came pre-pickled?

The tongue-twister was right to ask where, exactly, was this peck of pickled peppers that Peter Piper picked.  The answer...none existed.  Peter Piper is a fraud.  Or, keeping with the theme, a pfraud.

Monday, November 09, 2015

Bluegrass Thunderstruck

There are many amazing things about this video, yet the clear #1 is that these guys are from Finland.

Saturday, November 07, 2015

The 2015 TV List

It occurs to me that I never wrote a proper ‘TV year in review’ thing for everything I watched last year when I was doing my alterna-Emmys post.  Better late than never!

Good, but I need to see more of it: iZombie, Halt And Catch Fire, Review.  I’ve only seen a couple episodes of each, so a grade would be incomplete.  It’s rather astounding that a big Veronica Mars fanboy like me is so behind on iZombie but there you have it.

Good, but didn’t grab me: Hannibal, You’re The Worst….there aren’t bad shows by any means, yet after a few episodes, I felt like I just ‘got’ them and didn’t really need to see any more.

Onto the list proper!

Last Man On Earth
Marry Me
Survivor Worlds Apart

Wet Hot American Summer
Family Guy
The Simpsons
The Amazing Race (S26)
Saturday Night Live
Modern Family

The Amazing Race (S25)
Mike Tyson Mysteries
Brooklyn Nine Nine
The UK Apprentice
Survivor San Juan Del Sur (S29)
The Amazing Race Canada (S3)
The Leftovers
Agent Carter
It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia
Parks & Recreation
Orange Is The New Black
The Fall
Game Of Thrones
The Americans
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

9. Mad Men
8. Daredevil
7. New Girl
6. Better Call Saul
5. Garfunkel & Oates
4. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
3. Silicon Valley
2. Nathan For You
1. Veep

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Del Preston

"And there I am in Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon, at three o' clock in the morning, looking for one thousand brown M&M's to fill a brandy glass, or Ozzy wouldn't go on stage that night. So, Jeff Beck pops 'is 'ead 'round the door and mentions there's a little sweetshop on the edge of town. So, we go,'s closed. So there's me and Keith Moon and David Crosby breaking into this little sweetshop right? Well, instead of a guard dog, they've got this bloody great big Bengal tiger. Well, I managed to take out the tiger with a can of mace, but the shopowner and his son, that's a different story altogether.  I 'ad to beat them to death with their own shoes...nasty business, really.  But sure enough, I got the M&M's and Ozzy went on stage and did a GREAT show."

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Goodbye Grantland

Once Bill Simmons and ESPN parted in such ugly fashion, you knew it was only a matter of time before Grantland was closed down.  Sure enough, after a respectable six-month wait period, the axe finally fell on the big G on Friday, though apparently it came with so little warning that pretty much all of the staff heard the news via Twitter.

It's an unfortunate ending to a site that I've visited virtually every day for the last four years.  Obviously the lure of "Bill Simmons' new site" got me in the door, but what kept me there was the sheer volume of talent on board.  Consider that Simmons himself wrote (maybe) one column a week and a few podcasts...the other 98% of content was generated by an incredible staff of writers that produced loads of quality material.  My "other people's writing" blog feature has been more or less a "here's what I really liked on Grantland last month" highlight reel for years.  In its heyday, the site was cranking out multiple long-form articles about a wide range of topics every DAY, all of which were worth reading and ranged from very good to instantly-forward-to-your-friends great. 

My internet reading time has been literally just about cut in half.  What am I going to do?  Spend less time on the computer?  Go outside?  Talk to people?!  The mind boggles.