Tuesday, September 12, 2006
NFL "Expert" Picks
Favorite Sport Discussion
Good morning everyone! Well, I had another down-and-back trip to the Twin Cities yesterday. Flew out of Warroad at 6:00 a.m. and few back into town at about 6:00 p.m. I got home in time to watch the Vikings botch the extra point attempt after scoring a touchdown on their first drive of the year. On the other TV at 7:00 was the Twins game. To make things even more confusing, I spent some of the time sitting at the computer (typing this) and listening to my appearance with Jeffrey Straub on the Minnesota Fan Network podcast from Sunday. We had a couple of technical difficulties, but Jeff did a great job of making a quality show and it came out quite funny. But I also think that the discussion was quite interesting.
Speaking of interesting discussions, today I would like to encourage some comments to be left below on a topic that we have discussed here before. Because I am watching two sports concurrently, and really am not in the mood to write anything much new (other than a few Twins thoughts below. Also, Game 1 of the International League championship series will be tonight with the Red Wings hosting the Toledo Mudhens.), so I am going to re-post the question I posted in November of 2003, "What is your Favorite Sport?" . I would love to hear your thoughts as I do think it is a fun question. And actually, my response may be different now than it was almost three years ago. So please take a minute or two and leave a response below in the Comments section.
Well, youíve read the Discussion Question every day this week, now itís time to see how you responded to the question: ďWhat is your favorite sport, and why?Ē
I think itís a pretty interesting question, especially on a baseball site. Iím curious as to why we like baseball so much. Like I mentioned, I heard the question asked on a sports radio show a week ago, and thought it was interesting.
Five or six years ago, I was at Big Nickís, a sports card shop in the West Acres Mall in Fargo, ND. The owner of the shop told me that football was definitely his favorite sport to watch. He knew that I was a big baseball fan, and asked me what it was about baseball that I liked so much. I told him that the biggest reason I love watching baseball is because I think the game when I watch it. Every pitch, Iím guessing what pitch the catcher will call and the pitcher will throw, as well as the location. I try to think along with the hitter as well. I look at the situation and try to figure out what I would do if I was the manager in that same situation. Do you hit and run, call for a sacrifice bunt, pinch hit, bring in a new pitcher? Situational baseball is so fun for me. The role of the utility player, or the specialty pitchers, play such an important role in a game. That, to me, is the biggest reason I love watching baseball.
Of course, there are many other reasons too. First, it was my favorite sport to play. Iíve played since I was two years old. My family is big into baseball, so clearly that helped push me to enjoy it. I frequently ask myself, ďWhat if I was born into a family that didnít enjoy sports, that didnít make it part of their life? What would I do? How different would my life be?Ē Iím glad I donít have to know that answer.
Some people think it is too slow, too boring. The gameís pace is part of what I like about it. It allows you to think in between pitches, in between at bats, in between innings. From viewing on TV, itís a sport that you can watch while doing other things at the same time.
Baseball is a team game full of individual matchups. When a leadoff hitter hits a double, the pitcher has another matchup with the second hitter. That hitterís job is to try to knock in the runner. The pitcherís job is to not allow him to. When the hitter gets behind, his job is to move the runner to third base, and the pitcher tries not to let that happen.
Statistics are so important to the game of baseball and its history, but itís important to remember that stats are simply numbers showing what has happened in the past, not what will happen in one particular at bat. A player can be 0-20 with 15 strikeouts against a particular pitcher. But that hitter may come up with runners on 2nd and 3rd base and 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th inning, down by a run, and he may come through with a 2 run single. Stats are important, but baseball is far more than that. Itís not being afraid to play hunches, to look beyond the stats, all in an attempt to win a 9 inning game.
The history of the game of baseball is fascinating. Having visited the Hall of Fame, I fully appreciate the history even more than I did before. Yankees/Red Sox matchups do mean something (in the playoffs). Records are made to be broken. Just simply talking baseball is fun!
So there you have it, just some of the reasons why baseball is my favorite sport. Basketball is a (Update - Not so) close second. So many people seem to think that NBA basketball is not fun to watch. I guess Iím a little different. I will say this, Eastern Conference basketball is awful to watch, but a good Western Conference matchup is incredibly entertaining. The game is so fast-paced. Whereas in baseball, you can turn away and do other things, the same can not be said for basketball. Right now, Iím watching the Lakers/Spurs game, and it is really difficult to focus on typing because so much is happening so quickly, I have to watch it.
Role players in basketball are different than baseball. Of the five on the court, there are defensive specialists who may not shoot. There are passers, and there are scorers. There are guys that rebound, or block shots. And then there are those special players that can do it all. Guys like Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan who make their teammates better. Basketball is more reactionary than baseball or football. Watching Gary Payton or Jason Kidd run a fast break, deciding which teammate to pass the ball and delivering a pass right where it needs to be, thatís a thing of beauty.
I donít necessarily think that marketing plays into why I like basketball. Sure, basketball players get the best, most high profile commercial, and I have no problem with that. I pay closer attention to the big names and the big teams. I love watching the Lakers play the Kings, the Wolves play the Mavs. I loved the Carmelo vs. Lebron matchup. Vince Carter vs. Tracy McGrady. In the West, there is more team play. In the East, the game is based more on 1-on-1 play. Personally, I like the team play, and watching the Timberwolves in years past, they are so great at passing the ball to the open shooter, led by Kevin Garnett.
NBA basketball, to me, is far better than the college game. Some may not agree, and I can not understand why. Sure the College March Madness is an exhilarating, single-elimination tournament that is great to watch, but aside from that, the season, for me, is pretty boring. Sure the North Carolina/Duke matchup, or the Kansas/Arizona game, are fun to watch. But aside from that, itís just not that great.
Then, further down the list, at #3, is football. Like baseball, there is time to think and predict what play will be run next, or what defensive scheme will be utilized in an attempt to stop the play. But once the teams break the huddle, a big play can happen at any time. When Daunte Culpepper rolls out to his right and sets up, you know that Randy Moss is sprinting down the left side of the field, probably in single coverage. The fanís adrenaline gets going as Culpepper launches the ball toward the end zone, knowing that there could be a 60 yard touchdown, or an incomplete pass.
The speed of football plays is incredible. The size and strength of the athletes amaze me. The hits that a running back takes at full speed by a linebacker is scary. The grind of the offensive linemen trying to create holes for the better paid running back who gets all the glory. The strength of the defensive linemen trying to fill those gaps so that the linebackers get the tackles. The one-on-one matchups between cornerbacks and receivers (that we donít see much of any more). There was nothing better than seeing Michael Irvin lined up opposite Deion Sanders, trying to beat the other. And all those matchups occurring in a very short period of time, only to start over shortly after.
I think part of the allure of the NFL is that all of the games occur between Sunday and Monday night. One game per week. Plenty of time for Monday Morning Quarterbacking to last for a few days before talk of the next weekís game takes over the discussion for the rest of the week.
The NFL is great for TV. The volume of a game at the Dome is crazy. However, the NFL is built for watching on the couch. As you all know, Iíve got two TVs in my living room. Iím able to watch the CBS and the Fox games at the same time, while Ďwatchingí a couple of other games on CBS Sportsline.
NFL football is good, and a big part of that for me is due to playing fantasy football. That makes me want to watch every game all weekend. Previous to that, it was pretty much just the Vikings game for me. College football is terrible to watch. I really used to enjoy watching Saturday afternoons. I loved watching when Tommy Frazier or Eric Crouch were leading Nebraska. I enjoy certain matchups, like games that pit Florida/Florida State/Miami. I check to see how Pittsburgh WR Larry Fitzgerald does each week. I like having an idea of who will or should win the Heisman trophy. But the games themselves are too boring to me.
Well behind football, hockey makes its appearance on my list. I never really watched or knew anything about hockey before moving up to Hockeytown, USA, Warroad, MN, just over six years ago. Watching good hockey, in person, is very entertaining. Youíve got power and speed and hitting and shooting. Every shot on goal is important, because generally the scoring is low. It has many of the elements that make sports worth watching, but with the skill of skating on a patch of ice.
People who follow hockey probably played at some point in their lives. Hockey has a sort of cult following and itís fairly regionalized. Hockey is huge in Minnesota, Michigan and in much of the northeast, as well as all of Canada, of course. True hockey fans are diehards. Theyíll play hockey, ref hockey, watch local hockey, follow college hockey and follow the NHL. Iím nowhere near that. I watch some local high school hockey and try to have an idea of how the Gophers and Sioux college hockey teams are doing and be able to have some knowledge of the Minnesota Wild. I know enough about hockey to be able to watch a game and not be lost. That said, the NHL playoffs are so incredibly intense and so fast-paced that you canít help but enjoy that.
Golf is watchable for about 3 minutes, and only if Tiger Woods is playing in the tournament and playing well. Womenís tennis is bearable for about 4 minutes. Menís tennis, canít watch it. Soccer, wow! How bad is that sport to watch!? Did you know Rowing is a sport? Like Swimming, I would say it is more of a survival skill. NASCAR, like hockey, has a cult following. Some are intense and think it is a big time sport. Some donít even classify it as a sport. Horse racing? Unless your gambling, how can that be fun to watch? Wrestling? The uniforms alone should scare some people from watching it! Track and Field? Thatís unwatchable, except maybe the 100 meter dash, and only because it can keep my attention for all 10 seconds that it lasts. Are there other sports that are even worth discussing?
Some people in small towns are huge fans of their local high schoolís teams. Theyíll attend any sport that the school participates in. When I was in high school playing, sure, I went to other sporting events too and thought they were so important. When my siblings played their sports, I went to their games and enjoyed them. By the time that I didnít know many more of the participants, I suddenly realized how boring most high school sports are. Unless youíre watching football in Texas, or baseball in Florida, or hockey in Minnesota, or basketball in North Carolina, itís just not good.
So, there you have it. My thoughts on my favorite sports to watch. 1.) Baseball, 2.) NBA Basketball, 3.) NFL Football, 4.) College basketball, 5.) College Football, 6.) NHL Hockey, and thatís about it!
So again, you can tell from the examples that it was written three years ago. Lots has changed, but one constant has been baseball... American has been... wait, sorry. But I think that my rankings would remain pretty similar. Again, I would love to hear your thoughts on your favorite sports, but also on why. Again, please take a few minutes to rank your favorites. If you would rather, send me an e-mail.
NFL "Expert" Picks
Well, we have one week done. This should be the most difficult week to pick games since we really don't know what the teams will be like in the regular season. As the season progresses, we should get better. Therefore, in a contest like this, all of these games are important. Congratulations to our Week 1 winner, Kyle Waldrop! 13-3 is especially good in the first week. But, there are still 16 more weeks to go, so these rankings could change a lot still! Be sure to check back on Friday for our Week 2 picks.
|Kyle Waldrop||Twins Relief Pitcher||13||3||81.3%||13||3||81.3%|
|Bill Ferris||Detroit Tigers Blog||12||4||75.0%||12||4||75.0%|
|Al Bethke||Al's Ramblings||11||5||68.8%||11||5||68.8%|
|Roger Dehring||Several Blogs||10||6||62.5%||10||6||62.5%|
|Stick & Ball Guy||Stick & Ball Guy||10||6||62.5%||10||6||62.5%|
|LaVelle E. Neal III||Mpls Star-Tribune||10||6||62.5%||10||6||62.5%|
|Kevin Slowey||Twins Pitching Prospect||9||7||56.3%||9||7||56.3%|
|Will Young||Will's Twins Blog||9||7||56.3%||9||7||56.3%|
|Cory Hepola||KTVH-TV Sports||9||7||56.3%||9||7||56.3%|
|JD Arney||Reds Reporter||8||8||50.0%||8||8||50.0%|
|Mike Brasel||Fantasy FB Guru||8||8||50.0%||8||8||50.0%|
|Trevor Born||Twins Junkie||8||8||50.0%||8||8||50.0%|
|Seth's Mom's Class||St. Pauls School||7||9||43.8%||7||9||43.8%|
That is it for today! Have a great day!|
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