Friday, May 16, 2008

Please Excuse My Ranting and Raving

The Celtics have had a near monopoly on my blogging time and energy lately. Let's touch on a few other things...

1) First an admission; sometimes when I am bored I peruse the sports message board to see what kind of idiotic postings there are out there. These posts both amuse me and make me feel better about myself. Today I stumbled upon one which hit a nerve. It hit a nerve because it pined for something that I thought (or rather hoped I guess) Red Sox fans would be too smart to pine for. It pined for Hanley Ramirez in a Red Sox uniform.

Look, Hanley is arguably the most talented player in the NL and one of the best offensive players in baseball. He was hyped up when he was in the Sox farm system and amazingly he has exceeded those expectations. Any fan would want Hanley on their team. BUT, to say in essence that you wish the Sox did not make the Josh Beckett trade so that they could have Hanley right now is idiotic. Sure it would be great to have Hanley at SS instead of Lugo. It would be more than great. But do you know what's better than more than great??? WINNING A WORLD SERIES! Do the Sox win the World Series last year without Josh Beckett? Um no. No chance. I guess you could hypothetically say that maybe they would have won last year with Hanley due to a dynamic offense, but first off I doubt that and second off there is no need to deal with hypothetical situations when the actual event happened. Let's deal in truths! They won the World Series and Beckett was their most valuable player in the postseason.

It seems like I should wrap up now, but I can't. I must keep going...

Honestly, this "I wish the Sox had Hanley" thought is one that I hoped I would never hear voiced. Of course I am considering the source - a sports message board, a breeding ground for moronic conversation - but actually seeing it put out there in print galls me. Isn't the end goal of all the moves a team makes to win a championship? Isn't that what every fan hopes for at the beginning of each season, to see their team win it all? Those aren't rhetorical questions, the answers to both are YES! I'm sorry I am so worked up right now but people with idiotic thoughts and opinions I do not have time for.

And one last thing, this same poster said something like, "Imagine having Hanley in the lineup with Manny, Papi, and LOWELL". Lowell was part of the Hanley trade too! Dude didn't even have his facts/story straight. I know I am totally overreacting here, but this is one thing I prayed I would not hear all year with the emergence of Hanley Ramirez: Superstar but of course I was proven wrong.

Oh, and if that super young, but super hyped prospect the Sox included in the Gagne deal turns out to be nasty, well just shoot us all. I think everybody was on board with that deal at the time and it obviously was a bust. If it turns out the Sox dealt the next Hanley Ramirez for two months of Eric Gagne well that one will hurt.

2) Has it been proven definitively enough yet? Can we all agree that Craig Hansen and Manny Delcarmen are NOT the late inning answers the front office and has said they would be for the past three years? At what point does major league performance start trumping "potential"? Look below. Neither are exactly "young" by MLB standards and Hansen by any measure has been awful and I guess you could say Delcarmen has been mediocre. Wouldn't it have been nice if the Sox actually pulled the trigger on trading these guys a few years ago when they actually had some value? Right now I don't even care anymore. I'm just sick of hearing about them and seeing them come into close games.

Craig Hansen (24.5 years old) Career Stats:
46.1 IP/57 hits/35 ER/37:19 K:BB/6.80 ERA/1.64 WHIP

Manny Delcarmen (26 years old) Career Stats:
121 IP/121 hits/53 ER/109:47 K:BB/3.94 ERA/1.39 WHIP

3) ESPN just can't stand to see Spygate die can they? With that gone, how else will they beat the public over their collective heads with NFL stories almost one month after the draft and two months before Training Camp AKA dead time? I like football and the NFL as much as the next guy but it is still my third favorite sport to follow behind baseball and basketball and one of the main reasons for this is that I hate being bombarded seemingly year round by the NFL and ESPN that I MUST LOVE FOOTBALL. It drives me nuts. Not nearly as nuts as ESPN's initial MNF ad campaign did though. "Thank God It's Monday". Really? Sorry, on Monday morning I'm still going to be pissed off that it's Monday morning regardless of whether two sub .500 teams are playing that night on ESPN where I can tune in and watch them not talk about the game and advertise ABC primetime programming and Disney movies the whole time. I'll pass thanks. With that being said though, it is great when YOUR team is on MNF.

4) One more NFL related note that kind of goes along with the last item and it is actually something (patting myself on the back) I've been arguing for a long time. The NFL is over-expanding itself to a ridiculous degree right now with all the different days of the weeks they run games. There are many reasons why football has become THE dominant American sport, but I think a big part of that is scarcity. Whether you are a college or pro football fan, part of the allure was that Saturday or Sunday was football day. It was one day a week, you could make a day out of drinking, eating, watching sports on TV with your buddies, and not moving from the couch for eight hours. Even if the weather was nice, nobody could dog you because you were watching football and that was how it was supposed to be. Now that is a business model folks! Too bad they strayed.

While Saturday and Sundays were the main days, college added Thursday nights and the NFL added Monday nights, and this worked too. The games were in primetime, they were usually traditional or newly-fangled rivalries, and again they became kind of an event because they were the ONLY game that day and they were at night and under the lights. For college, the Thursday night game could get you amped for the upcoming slate of Saturday games and for the NFL, the Monday night game could serve as a nice final course after gorging yourself on football all aday Sunday. If it just so happened to be a huge game, all the better.

But now the NFL has added Thursday and Saturday games to their late season schedules. Understand I have always loved the Saturday NFL games, especially now living in a different market than my team plays in because it a) increases the chances of me seeing the Pats on the local affiliates on Saturday or Sunday and b) it also increases the fact that I'll see the marquis AFC and NFC games that week. You don't know how many times I've wanted to watch a big AFC game only to be part of that 1% of the country that does not get the game because CBS needs to show the Baltimore game in DC. I can say with full confidence that the Ravens are consistently THE most boring team in the NFL to watch, especially now that Ray Lewis is not what he once was. With all that said, the Saturday games were always in the past afternoon games. Now we have Saturday night games too. Am I really supposed to base my Saturday night around watching a couple of teams I don't care about? Of course not.

The other thing now is that late in the football season, the NFL has primetime games more often than NBC airs Deal or No Deal. Seriously. Should I really get excited about something that is on four nights a week? Doesn't that completely dilute the talent pool of games too? Each week I think you can say with some certainty that there will be three and maybe even four if you are really lucky intriguing games. You can of course try and pick out these games when drawing up the schedules, but the bottom line is that every year there are going to be teams that do a lot worse than expected and teams that do a lot better therefore making many of these matchups almost meaningless by the time they come to pass. Just look at last year's Pats/Ravens MNF matchup. Those were two division winners from the year before being matched up on a Monday Night in December. Sounds great on paper right? Well come game time that certainly was not the case with the Pats dominating the league and the Ravens a step above the bottom feeders. Of course it was a great game in the end, but the Pats were 23.5 point favorites heading into the game. When the main pre-game hype surrounding a game is "Can Team X Cover This Outlandish Point Spread" that's not necessarily a good thing. And let's not forget the infamous SF/Cincy Saturday Night matchup from last year which was a battle for god knows what between two teams who were among the ten worst in the league. And I should dedicate my Saturday to this? No thanks.

I'm ranting and raving now, but I think my point has been made. The NFL is recklessly over-exposing itself and while it is in no danger of losing it's choke-hold on being America's favorite sport it is heading towards a comeuppance of sorts due to the fact that at some point I would guess soon people will stop looking at the NFL on TV as appointment viewing and more as something they'll watch if there is nothing else on with the irony being that a large part of the NFL's success to date is because the league made itself appointment viewing by limiting access. Just think about it, if your favorite TV show was on four times a week instead of once, would you really be as excited for the episodes every time they aired? Probably not right?

Wow, I didn't think it would go down like that but I guess it did. I had to get those things off my chest. Much better now.

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