Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Hodge Podge

I am finally back home from my long journey. Let me just give a few quick sports thoughts that cannot be ignored.

Since I have in-laws in Ohio, I took special pleasure in watching Ohio State lose badly to Flordia. However, I became annoyed at that talk radio and ESPN jibber-jabber that followed the game. Why are not the sports talking heads arguing for a Boise State national championship? Florida has one loss, Ohio State has one loss, and Louisville has one loss, but Boise State has zero losses. It really seems like a no brainer to me. What is clear is that the BCS will only reward those conferences in the BCS system. Utah went undefeated a few years ago and got nothing. They won their BCS game, but were only one of three teams that went undefeated. Boise State won their BCS game, were the only undefeated team in college football, yet they will not even get a share of the national title. Four years ago USC won their BCS game so that multiple teams had one loss, and they got a share of the title. If the mid-major conferences were smart, they would just pick up and start their own Bowl system, crowning their own national champs. There is no room for them the BCS. Everyone argues that the smaller conferences are not as good as the big conferences, and that may be true, but the fact remains only two mid-major schools have ever been invited to the BCS bowl games and they are 2-0. Hard to argue against that.

I hope that everyone can see now the prejudice against southern sports that goes on at ESPN and the other major networks. People spent three weeks complaining about Florida getting the shot at OSU instead of Michigan. People were actually arguing that the national title should be a rematch of the Big Ten title. Well, it turns out the Big Ten champs were no match, not even close, for the SEC champs. Not only that, but the LSU Tigers, who finished a distant fourth or fifth in the SEC wiped the floor with overrated Notre Dame as well. All this while Michigan lost embarrassingly to Southern California as well. I would hope that in the future Southern teams would be ranked higher, but they will not be, so do not hold your breath. This bias goes all the way back to the Heisman trophy disaster where Charles Woodson won the Heisman as a corner back. He did not lead the nation in interceptions, touch down returns, or any stat at all. His only qualification for the award was that he was from Michigan and he was not Peyton Manning. Yes, Peyton Manning and Randy Moss both lost to a nobody from the north for no other reason than he was from the north. If you are not convinced here is more proof. ESPN often uses initials to represent schools. For example UT and USC. Now, which schools are UT and USC. ESPN always means University of Texas (UT) and University of Southern California (USC). Yet, UT could mean University of Tennessee and USC mean University of South Carolina. Both Tennessee and South Carolina use those initials for themselves and if you grew up around them your first thought is always about those schools. Both Tennessee and South Carolina are older institutions and thus have prior claims on the initials, but ESPN refuses to use the initials. Can anyone find a rational reason for this? Barring one, one must assume it is part of the anti-southern bias.

I must also here comment on the train wreck that is the NFL. The Cincinnati Bengals missed the playoffs because they cannot make and extra point or kick a field goal. If they could have done either, they would be in the playoffs right now. Yet, at 8-8, they still should have made the playoffs. The NFL does not keep a balanced schedule. Teams that did well the year before get harder schedules. So the Bengals had the toughest or one of the toughest schedules as a division winner last year. The Jets had the weakest schedule, and the Jets made the playoffs because of it. It is a stupid rule that gave us the Jets losing and looking bad doing it in the playoffs.

I cannot stop from rejoicing at Mark McGwire missing the baseball Hall of Fame. EPSN is on a crusade to let steroid users into the Hall, but so far smarter heads have prevailed. I just watched a Sportscenter bit where the question was seriously asked ‘if Dead Ball era players get into the Hall of Fame why not steroid era players?’. The ESPN analyst could not come up with a reason, and seemed perplexed. Someone should tell him steroids are cheating while the dead ball was a condition of the baseball. Breaking the law to pad stats is different than playing in a time of large stadiums and loosely wound balls. It is not rocket science.


Jay said...

I enjoy the sports hodge-podge. Here's my question: Isn't it contradictory to advocate that Boise State be crowned national champions solely on the basis of their record, and at the same time complain that the Bungles didn't make the playoffs because they had a worse record playing a tougher schedule?

As for the HOF voting, I'm fine with not voting for McGwire, although it is going to get complicated as more "steroids-era" players become elligble. Do you vote for Clemens? (I think its reasonable to believe he juiced the latter half of his career.) What about Jeff Kent? A-Rod? Do you vote for Bonds based on his stats as skinny Bonds? He was a sure-fire HOFer before he started juicing, right? McGwire may not have been.

I'm also interested in your thoughts on Rice, Blyleven, Dawson and some of the other close calls on the ballot.

Lee said...

It is not contradictory because the NFL handed the Jets an easy schedule and handed the Bengals a hard one. The Bengals were forced to play the Patriots the Colts the Panthers and other top teams outside of their division. The Jets were handed losers. Boise St. played who they could. The NCAA did not hand them a schedule, they had to go out and pay people to play them. That makes it different.

I disagree that the HOF voting will be more complicated than it now is. Kent - of course not. Clemens - no. A Rod - probably not. Bonds - no way (I do not think he was a sure fire HOFer as skinny Bonds). The only person I can see letting in is Greg Maddox (and Ricky Henderson if you count him as part of the steroids era). It Tom Glavine gets 300 wins and stays clean, I can live with him. When Jeter retires, you can put him in the HOF. Other than that everyone gets a no.

As for others, I think several should go in and a few might slip in because of the steroid gang. I believe Bert Blyleven should be in. If you remember he would have easily gotten 300 victories, but decided to retire when expansion created the Marlins and Rockies because he did not want to take a young guys spot. He won multiple World Series titles and was very good. I personally think Rice and Dawson do not deserve to get in, but will because steroid era players are going to be shut out. I do think that Goose Gosage and Lee Smith deserve to get into the HOF. Both are better than Bruce Sutter, who did not deserve it but got in. I think save pitchers should be considered for the HOF and those two are the best.

Lee said...

Let me add one more person from the steroid era that I forgot. Mariano Rivera should be a first ballot shoe-in.

Jay said...

You have some pretty high standards there. But I don't think it's as simple as you make it sound. It's easy to conlude that Bonds and Sosa were using, based on the dramatic changes in their stats and phyiscal appearance. For A-Rod, however, I think it's tougher. He's basically been the same player since he started in the league. Assume he ends up with 600 home runs. If he isn't on steroids, that means he hit 600 against a bunch of pitchers who were juicing, while he stayed clean. But how do you know? I never heard him mentioned as someone who was involved. He may just be an incredible player (repeated choking aside).

As for others playing now who should get in, I agree with the ones you named. What about Ken Griffey, Jr.? I don't think anyone's ever claimed he was using, and he's never looked like he was. Randy Johnson? He should be in on the first ballot, unless he's 6'10" as a result of taking HGH since he was 6 (though that would explain a lot). Curt Schilling? He'll end up with 3000 Ks and 200+ wins. Pedro has to be in. He had a Sandy Koufax-type run in the late 90s, early 00s. I'm sure we could come up with a few others who look qualified.

Skinny Bonds, by the way, had 3 MVPs. He was probably the best position player of the 90s. He would have been in if he'd retired the day before he started taking steriods.

Lee said...

It is a high standard, but a reasonable one. Maybe A-Rod and Ken did not use the roids, but they did not say anything either. So, if they are covered in guilt of their friends they protected for years, I do not have a problem. They hit homeruns, and all homerun hitters of this era are suspect. If innocents get caught up with the guilty, then you should have said something when Ken Camminity died, or when Jose first published his book, or to Congress. Do something! They did not. Thus, I hope they miss out on the HOF.
As for your pitchers, I guess I can live with Randy Johnson. I forgot about him. As for Pedro and Curt, I would leave them out. They are going to end up with less wins than Burt Blyleven and he is not in. They may even end up with less wins than Mike Mussina, and I am not sure he should be in the HOF.
Skinny Bonds was great, but his career would have been too short. If he had played as long as he had now or even four more years at the level of Skinny Bonds, maybe. But, I think one needs to be great for a longer period of time than Bonds with the Pirates. Also do not forget that Bonds was worse in the post season with the Pirates that A-Rod is with the Yankees.