Tag Archives: Sports

Expand the Tournament Field? Now That Would Be Madness.

For the local pee-wee level soccer league, there are no winners and losers.  Literally.

Every Saturday morning, the neighborhood youth soccer association near my corner of Southern California plays to a stalemate:  The league mandates that every game played during the two month-long season will result in a tie.

The belief is that the kids will learn that the object of competition is not whether you win or lose, as long as you participate.

Such programs aim to protect children from the threat of hurt feelings and cultivate self-esteem.

This year’s Academy Awards expanded the Best Picture field from five to ten movies to promote the inclusion of films that narrowly missed the cut.

The decision was meant to pacify the annual complaint that the Academy had once again failed to properly acknowledge deserving candidates for the award, causing bitter disappointment and feelings of resentment.

Further, the move would protect filmmakers from the threat of hurt feelings and cultivate self-esteem.

The NCAA, it seems, has sympathized with the above logic.

The governing body that runs the yearly Men’s Basketball Tournament is looking to increase the number of teams allowed to compete for the National Championship.

At press time, the tournament allows 64 teams to vie for the most coveted trophy in College Basketball.  The committee is considering expanding the field to 96 teams.

The NCAA believes that this would allow more teams the opportunity to participate for the National Title, thus creating a tournament of unparalleled democracy.  Said one NCAA staffer, more kids would be offered the privilege of  experiencing the excitement of the yearly tournament.

The theory is that the expanded tournament field would protect collegiate players from the threat of hurt feelings and would cultivate self-esteem.

Ninety.  Six.  Teams.

The possible revision to the NCAA Tournament is a continuation of a disturbing trend in our culture.  We are cultivating a softer, more tolerant breed of individual that is spoiled, and filled with a false sense of privilege.

The author of this blog hates to type these words, but he shall:  We are becoming a bunch of over-indulged pussies.

If the NCAA has their way — and they will — we can look forward to such scintillating match-ups as number 1 seed Kansas potentially locking horns with number 96 seed Canisius.

Canisius, you ask?  Exactly.

We will wait with sweet anticipation as perennial power house North Carolina collides with the barely qualifying Coastal Carolina (student population 8,000).

A Chihuahua would have better fortune against a Pit Bull.

The proprietors of this blog would like to submit another opinion.  Let’s view this for what it really is — corporate greed at its highest level.

Don’t believe the NCAA rhetoric of the spirit of competition and the selfless act of expanding opportunities to marginal basketball programs.

Here’s how it went down:

A bean-counter at the NCAA corporate offices made a fancy spreadsheet with bushels of  hyperlinks, graphs and colorful pie charts.  These graphics told the story of how much advertising revenue the NCAA tournament games generated.  The bean-counter made an easy sale to these profit chasers — if some is good, more must be better.

“Think of how much more money we could make,” the spindly accountant whined to his bosses.  Since stodgy old executives love colorful graphs, pie charts, and revenue the idea of 96 teams took root.

Regrettably, the fancy pie chart failed to consider the blatant exploitation of the student athletes.  Or worse yet, the fancy pie chart did consider the blatant exploitation of the student athletes and the executives still moved forward with their decision.

This revision to the tournament  would cheapen the quality of an already near-perfect product.  Rather than giving hand-outs to teams on the bubble, here’s a radical suggestion to those NIT-bound teams:  Perform better during the regular season!

Let’s recap:

1. Winning vs. Losing

Edge: Push

2. 64 teams vs. 96 teams

Edge: Colorful pie charts

3. Student athletes vs. stodgy NCAA executive

Edge: Bean-counters

In summary, any attempt to expand the NCAA basketball tournament field should be met with strong opposition.  A group of 96 teams cheapens the quality of the event and reduces its value.

A Maserati wouldn’t be a Maserati if everyone owned one, now would it?

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Filed under Basketball, Sports

False Idols

Has anyone seen my credibility?

The PGA Tour is a one-trick pony; a metaphor for the advice that all mutual fund managers caution investors against.  Putting all your eggs into a solitary basket carries a high level of risk, but if the basket was the Tiger Woods of ten years ago—hell, the Tiger Woods of ten months ago—then that same risk wouldn’t represent much of a gamble at all.

Investing in Tiger is now an exercise in diminishing returns.

If love means never having to say you’re sorry, then why does Tiger’s mechanical apology feel like the hollow, insincere sham that it is?

Not that I ever felt an emotion that can be characterized as love for Tiger.  Sure, I love his gargantuan tee shots.  I love the surgical accuracy of his irons.  I love the Rembrandt-like strokes of his short game.  But if watching Michael Jordan in his prime has taught me anything at all, it is that I can appreciate the man for his abilities without having to love the jackass that he truly is.

To be certain, society has, in its collective form, been particularly tough on Tiger.  This treatment is deserved:  Tiger sold us an image that we eagerly purchased without bothering to retain the receipt.  He is the roadside charlatan with false promises of a diet supplement that cures nothing.  We take his ‘indiscretions’ personally because our heroes aren’t meant to display the same frailty that we have.

Tiger is sorry, not out of sincerity, but because he got caught.  The changes that he has promised to make are reactionary to his misfortunes, not the self-initiated sort he has proffered.  The genuine desire to change must come from within, not as a consequence.

One day soon, Tiger will return to the sport that he has dominated.  He will win more money; regain more endorsements; hoist more trophies.  He will claim every golf record that is statistically measurable.

I will be a witness to these events because I love golf and love the application of the skills necessary to succeed at it.

I will witness these events as an interested observer, not as a supporter.

I cannot enjoy this future success as his fan.

He has robbed me of that, too.

Future unknown, straight ahead.

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Filed under Golf, Life, Relationships, Sports

Trade Secrets Revealed

Houdini once shackled himself in chains, was submerged in a tank of water and escaped in less than a minute.

David Blaine took a stroll down the side of a skyscraper.

David Copperfield convinced that supermodel to marry him.

Impressive efforts, all three.

Read on, dear reader– I’ve done one better.

Be prepared to be astonished; brace yourself for the improbable; be ready to raise an eyebrow and say “damn.”

Behold, the greatest magic trick ever to be perpetrated on mankind:

I have watched an obscene amount of sports on TV this year and have managed to successfully stay married.

(Dramatic pause to let the certain tidal wave of  “oooohhhhs” and “aaaahhhhs” wash over this post).

The proprietors of Bacon Makes It Better can feel your skepticism.  We can sense your disbelief.  We are abundantly aware that despite popular sentiment, not everything you read on the internet is true.

But it is most certainly real.  I can tell you, in breathtaking detail, who has qualified for the NFL playoffs all while an engraved platinum band still rests on my finger.

Marriage and sports can coexist– and we are willing to share our trade secrets with you.

We have tested the method in our state of the art facility (my living room).  We have applied it generously under a variety of conditions (College Bowl Games, Pro Football, NCAA hoops, golf).  We have even adapted our system into a user-friendly format that we have named, during an epiphany of creative genius, the S.A.V.E. method.  It is an acronym for:

S is for set-up.

Possibly the most critical part of the process.  Without a proper set-up the best laid plans of mice and men would be smashed to bits.  Know the day and time of the game.  (NFL note:   Do not assume that your game is on Sunday.  The complex football schedule will squeeze games in on Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.  Is it a local game or out of market?  Morning or afternoon)?

Know the schedule, understand the logistics involved, plan ahead.  Store this knowledge safely into the recesses of your brain, right next to what’s for dinner and don’t forget to take out the trash.

A is for Approach.

It’s go time.  With your knowledge of the schedule neatly tucked away plan which game you really want to see.  (Don’t get greedy!  You can’t see ’em all)!  Tell the wife, well in advance, that you plan on watching your chosen game.  Don’t dance around the subject– be direct.  She will appreciate your advance planning and will be impressed by your consideration of her time.

Tread lightly, dear reader, for timing is crucial.  If her favorite couple gets booted off of Dancing With The Stars or if those handbags she’s been keeping her eye on are no longer on sale, abort mission.  I repeat, abort mission!

V is for Value.

Help the wife to understand the importance of the game.    Tell her what’s at stake.  Will a champion be crowned?   Does an invite to the playoffs hang in the balance?  The more value attached to the game, the more likely it becomes that she will accept your need to be a captive audience member.

Remember, this is where salesmanship is at a premium.  Placing value on the game can cover a wide range of popular subjects:  Is a favorite actress of hers dating the star quarterback?  Plug it.  Isn’t that defensive end the guy from Dancing With The Stars?  Plug it.  Aren’t they playing in San Francisco, the city that she loves to visit?  Plug away.

Maybe you’ll even convince her to watch the game with you.  Hell, it just may be the start of an activity that you’ll share together.
This may not be such a bad alternative– just so long as you are able to see the action.

Note: At no time during the approach and value stage should you whine, snivel or pout.  When executed properly, you will advance to the final level…

E is for Enjoy the Game.

Spoil yourself with the fruits of your labor.  Kick up your feet.  Crank up the volume.  Guzzle a cold one.  You’ve done your due diligence, so watch your chosen game with the uninterrupted peace that you’ve created.

WarningBe certain that such behavior is not conducted within plain view of the wife.  Poor sportsmanship or excessive celebration may jeopardize future athletic viewership.

Suck, my life does not.

In summary, dear reader, the proprietors of Bacon Makes It Better implore you to try this battle-tested system, which has been made publicly available just in time for the NFL playoffs.    What have you got to lose?

It may just S.A.V.E. your marriage.

The proprietors of Bacon Makes It Better assumes no liability for the poor application or general misuse of the above described method. Results may vary. Actions outside of this method should be conducted at your own peril. May cause rash or irritation.  Discontinue use and call a doctor if symptoms persist. Use as directed.

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Filed under Life, Relationships, Sports

At Least We Have The Weather

It’s been said that an NFL general manager assess the progress of their team in four game increments; and being that the season spans 16 games this quarterly analysis seems a prudent one.

With Week 6 officially in the books, many conclusions can be drawn from what we’ve witnessed so far.

Attention Charger fans: You’re not going to like what I have to say.

I know, I know. I can still remember last year, how we were left for dead with four games to go, and how we won each of those ‘must win’ match-ups to close the distance with the then division-leading Denver Broncos. I remember the defacto playoff game against those same Broncos on the final day of the regular season that sent us to the playoffs and completed, for Denver, the worst collapse in NFL history.

If the Chargers did it once, they can definitely do it again, right?

I am a fan of historical handicapping, I do believe that lightning can strike the same place twice and I am certainly aware that history has a pesky way of repeating itself.

But that was before last night’s debacle on Monday Night Football.

We can crunch the numbers, pour over the injury reports and study the Caliente Line to try to wrap our minds around this, Charger fans. But we’ll leave that to the professionals.

Here at ‘Bacon Makes It Better’, we focus on the intangibles.

Credit the Denver Broncos. They showed heart, desire, determination, passion, effort and about fifty other similar descriptions that never make the box scores. In a contest between divisional rivals, the things that defy statistical measures often determine the winner.

San Diego played Denver in the same underachieving way that has typified their style of football this season. With their Super Bowl expectations quickly evaporating, the Chargers are demonstrating that when teams set goals before first establishing their intentions, the results are often mixed.

Professional sports franchises seem to find a way to inherit the personality of the city they are in. Pittsburgh has that Steel City, blue collar toughness thing. New York has that ‘If I can make it here, I can make it anywhere’ frenetic pressure and energy that threatens to consume you at any moment.

San Diego, well, at least we have the weather.

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Deja Vu All Over Again or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Accepted the Yankees

I must preface: I hate the Yankees.

In fact, ‘hate’ is not strong enough a word. I loathe the Yankees. I abhor the Yankees. There just aren’t any words adequate enough to capture the full extent of my emotions.

Rooting for the Yankees is like hoping the star quarterback hooks up with the prom queen. If you like to see the rich getting richer, believe in trickle-up economics or hopes Starbucks sells another frappuccino then maybe the Yankees are the team for you. For my taste, if it came down to a choice between abolishing the Yankees of the H1N1 virus, I would actually think, “hasn’t that poor strain been through enough?”

Yet, despite my passionate distaste for pinstripes I am still able to contain my opinion for the good of journalistic integrity. Just because I hate them doesn’t mean that I can’t admire their significance.

To wit: The New York Yankees are the most important team in professional baseball.

For the reasons of business, commerce, politics, TV ratings and general interest the Yankees are the keystone species in this fragile ecosystem called the Major Leagues. Without the New York franchise in place, baseball would be slowly decomposing in a sweltering canyon with buzzards racing in to pick the carcass.

The success of the Yankees is legend; 26 world championships, an endless procession of Hall of Fame members, a myth immortalized in Hollywood pictures. To the victor go the spoils. So has it been for the Yankees this past century.

This is why the Yankees are so critical. Our reaction to them is polarizing. Only two possible opinions exist: Love or Hate. There is no neutral ground. No other team can generate that level of excitement.

The success of the Yankees is always assumed; it is a forgone conclusion. Any team faced with the task of beating the Yankees four out of seven times in the months of October/ November is staring at a near insurmountable obstacle. Because of this, beating them would becomes a sweeter outcome. The sting of losing to them (sorry Twins and Angel fans) will linger for a while.

Lucas didn’t make Darth Vader a ruthless badass because he felt like it. Vader was a ruthless badass because he had to be. The entire fate of the universe hung in the balance. It was Lucas’ way of upping the ante.

The Yankees reprise the role of the badass cyborg without a heart. They have been World Champions before and they will inevitably do it again.  Their mere participation in the post season raises the stakes.

Other teams create apathy among casual fans. “Who’s playing?” they pretend to care. The Yankees bring the element of extremes. People will tune in because they want to see them succeed. Or they will watch to enjoy witnessing their failure. But no matter what, people will pay attention because they are playing.

The Boston Red Sox erroneously believe that the Yankees are their arch nemesis. The truth is the Yankees play foil to all. They are everyone’s arch nemesis. They are the standard by which all teams, baseball or otherwise, are measured. Dynasties of every kind and in every arena are considered to be “the Yankees of _______.” Fill in the blank with ‘Women’s Collegiate Lawn Bowling’ and the analogy still applies.

Statistically, the Yankees were the best team in baseball this year. But the post season is a different animal. Statistics are meaningless; distracting, even.

Heart, faith, momentum. The intangibles win baseball games this time of year.

But the Yankees seem to have that, too.

In a search for the words that aptly describe the Yankees, a simple one comes to mind: it.

It is the word we use when we want to call attention to the qualities that make something unique. It is the word we use when every other adjective struggles to make an appropriate match. It is the word we use when no other will suffice.

Yoda had it, too, but Lucas called it the force. For the 2009 Yankees, it seems to be with them.

And, like it or not, baseball is all the better for it.

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Filed under Baseball, Sports

Greetings From Antarctica: An Open Letter To The International Olympic Committee

Dear IOC:

Your selection of Rio de Janeiro as host city for the 2016 Olympic Games has been received with much controversy; particularly with consideration to your apparent spurning of United States President Barack Obama in his widely publicized campaign to secure the games for Chicago.

The other finalists, Tokyo and Madrid, also made noble efforts to win the Olympics, however this letter wishes to draw attention to your ghastly oversight and the error of your ways: Antarctica, the real thunder from down under, rightfully deserves to host the Olympiad.

The politics of the selection process continues to be a point of frustration. European sites have a tremendous advantage as the largest chunk of voters. Some 40 constituents can pool their votes together to effectively shut out other hopefuls. Even Antarctica realizes that Europeans are cock-blocking the rest of us!

Madrid is a gorgeous city, but let’s be frank: the only reason Madrid made the final round of consideration is that Juan Antonio Samaranch, former IOC president of some 20 years and himself a Spaniard, made a passionate plea to his cronies to throw him a bone.

Mr. Samaranch even stooped to an embarrassing low by saying that at age 89 he didn’t have much time left. Hola Juan! Antarctica understands more than most the limitations of time. Thanks to global warming, our continent will be reduced to the size of the Guam in thirty years. That only leaves Antarctica a scant few years to host the Games.

Now that Rio has been named a host site, South America is no longer on that short list entitled “Continents NEVER To Have Hosted an Olympics.” Now, that dubious honor falls to Africa and Antarctica.

Dear members of the IOC, don’t give Africa an Olympic city before us! You would be sending the wrong message to the world by rewarding civil unrest, guerrila warfare and blood diamonds. You never read about Antarctica suppressing the right to vote or trading ivory tusks on the black market. Even the Swiss are envious of our neutrality!

And Rio is, well, Rio. Can the athletes even concentrate with all those scantily clad natives strutting around? Isn’t “The Thong Song” their national anthem down there? Fast forward to eight months past the 2016 Games in Rio and you’ll discover a stunning population spurt that will further stress the lower income bracket and increase the slash and burn agriculture that Brazil is so famous for!

In Antarctica, our thick parkas will allow contestants to focus entirely on the competition. Okay, so layers of clothing will probably prevent world records from falling. But if a sprinter crosses the finish line first against a gale force wind across the frozen tundra with a polar bear in hot pursuit, he definitely deserves the gold.

Now we in Antarctica understand your immediate concerns. We lack the venues and the infrastructure to host most, if not all, the events. It is raw and untamed country down here with primitive, make-shift facilities.

But that is the beauty of having the Games down here!

The spirit of the Games is to compete with sportsmanship and humility. A sudden blizzard or a glacial tremor will build instant camaraderie!

And consider the limited harmful environmental impact the Antarctic Games would create. The Olympic village could be constructed entirely of tents, ice blocks and igloos. It would be like a sub-degree Woodstock!

I know it’s probably more likely that we will host a Winter Olympics before the Summer edition, but hear us out: Our cool, pristine, pollution-free conditions are optimal for any athletic competition. Besides, who watches the Winter Games anyway (other than for Ladies Ice Skating)? Antarctica wants ratings!

Let’s recap:

Europe – Haters.

Madrid (paella and tapas) vs. Antarctica (whale sashimi and ice slushies) Edge – Antarctica

Rio – First rated R broadcast in Olympics history.

Africa (pestilence and coup attempts) vs. Antarctica (fresh water and penguins) Edge – Antarctica

We realize that the Summer Olympics lasts a whole two weeks, but that’s how long our summer are anyways.

In sum, please consider Antarctica as a future Summer Olympic host.

Signed,

The handful of scientists and researchers that make up Antarctica’s population

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Filed under Olympics, Open Letters, Sports

Pick a team, any team

There really isn’t a clear criterion for selecting a favorite sports team; the motives are varied and cover a vast range of conditions.

Maybe you spent your summers in Detroit where the Red Wings captured your allegiance. Perhaps your worship of Cal Ripken, Jr. was the catalyst for your love for the Orioles. Or maybe you simply fancy the color purple, in which case the Minnesota Vikings would be your natural NFL choice.

However random the reason, there is one thing that should remain constant: You pick a team and you stick with them.

I’ve followed the Los Angeles Lakers ever since a rookie named Magic Johnson once played all five positions on the floor against Philadelphia in the 1980 Finals. So after the 2009 edition of the Lakers won the 14th championship in franchise history, I was understandably thrilled by their success.

But so, it seemed, was every one else.

Suddenly, Laker memorabilia materialized from thin air. Documented Laker-haters were dressed in Kobe Bryant jerseys. Laker hats with the tags still attached covered the head of every other kid. Those obnoxious Laker flags adorned every car on the freeway like a strange presidential motorcade.

Sure, I’m proud of my team’s accomplishments but I don’t want to share the moment with wolves in sheep’s clothing.

Relationships are fickle in 2009. Our culture lacks the vision to look too far ahead and our minimal powers of reflection barely allows us to remember what we had for lunch. Our obsession with the bottom line prompts us to demand of each other what a big-haired Janet Jackson inquired during the summer of 1986: “What have you done for me lately?”

The choices we make in selecting our preferred sports franchises reflect this fleeting attitude. Fans switch their allegiance in teams like a seasonal wardrobe change.

As a new champion is crowned at the culmination of each sports season, the surge in the winning team’s popularity reaches a deafening crescendo. Should that team fail to repeat its success in the subsequent year, that same team loyalty would meet the same fate as the mutton-chop side burn or a Croc sandal.

Maybe the advent of player free agency and the rise of fantasy sports leagues have contributed to this Machiavellian devotion, where the focus is on statistical analysis and final outcomes rather than the quality of a player’s effort or the spirit of the competition.

The idea of a monogamous relationship with our favorite sports club is a vintage way of thinking and grows rarer with each season.

But like any bad fashion, even the really terrible ones, the cyclical ebb and flow of things will bring everything back into proper focus.

Maybe we will miraculously re-develop the bravery to devote ourselves to something we can believe in and be willing to accept the bad with the good.

Maaay-be.

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Filed under Sports