Wednesday, October 21, 2009

If you can read this, your vision's too good to work for MLB as an ump

Everyone seems to be pointing toward Florida and Alabama meeting in the SEC Championship game. I think it's a mistake to assume that so early. Remember a couple of things:

1. Alabama's offense has scored two touchdowns total in the last two weeks
2. LSU still controls their own fate for Atlanta, despite the loss to UF

Is Alabama the favorite to win the West? Sure, especially since they have LSU in their place November 7. It's not a sure thing though. As for a possible Bama matchup with UF (who will be there, considering they'd have to lose at least twice just for someone to potentially tie them for the East division lead), according to a note in this column from Las Vegas, Florida is currently available as a three point favorite.

Major League Baseball has a major problem on their hands. The incompetent performances by their umpires have been steadily accumulating throughout the postseason, and last night things just got absurd. Tim McClelland butchered two calls at third base so badly they almost defy description. See one of them for yourself - when a runner is not on a base and is tagged with the ball, he is out. This is not a hard concept, yet McClelland is either blind or making things up as he goes by refusing to call two runners out at one base when neither is touching it. That seems to be what he did with the other call, calling a runner out for leaving early on a fly ball when it's very clear he could not have seen that happen - both because he's not looking at the play and because it didn't happen. The expansion of instant replay may offend baseball purists, but this kind of crap is just not acceptable. Something's got to be done to fix it, and more video review seems like the best option.

When South Carolina plays Florida next month, the Gamecocks will be sporting camouflage uniforms. I'm not a huge fan of the incessant uniform changes some teams do in the name of merchandising these days, but this is an Under Armour promotion to benefit the Wounded Warrior project so at least the intent is positive. Not sure about the player names on the back of the jerseys being replaced by words like courage and commitment - seems a little over the top to me. Hopefully it will all come off well as an appropriate tribute a few days after Veteran's Day.

ESPN aired their "Who Killed the USFL?" documentary for the first time last night. If you didn't see it on the original showing, make sure to catch it on a reairing. The clips of Steve Spurrier running the show with the Tampa Bay Bandits alone are worth it. It was cool as well to see film of the USFL Championship Game between Philadelphia and Arizona that I went to in Tampa with my grandfather when I was eleven. There's no reason the USFL shouldn't have been successful for years, but that jerk Donald Trump just had to have his way and move to the fall. Watching his smug interviews last night was infuriating, and a reminder of why Spy Magazine called him a "short fingered vulgarian".


Anonymous said...

I'm glad you saw the documentary too - it was insightful into not only what made it different than the NFL of the 80s, but why it failed. I was only 5 when it was around, so I have no memories of it but this was a great piece of filmmaking.

I liked the Spurrier parts as well - I was surprised he wasn't interviewed for it. They had that piece of crap Corso on there.

I dislike Donald Trump even more after seeing how he was so into it in the footage from the 80s, and then totally blew off the subject and the messenger 20+ years later.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who thinks Trump was responsible for the USFL's demise has the business acumen of a McNugget (and for the record, I think the guy's a scumbag). If the USFL was such a brilliant idea surely another league would have flourished in its place. Yet, Arena Football, the CFL's "southern expansion", XFL, WLAF, and a couple of leagues that bit the dust before they even started all failed to gain so much as a toe-hold against the NFL. I have to be honest and say I haven't seen the ESPN documentary (yet). So maybe it will change my opinion once I see it. But basic economics and monopoly theory tells me why the NFL is the biggest pro sports league in the U.S. and the USFL is nothing more than a footnote.

Heath Cline said...

While I'll agree no USFL type league has a shot of getting successfully off the ground today, you're forgetting the reasons why the USFL got off to a strong start. The NFL was coming off of a hugely damaging players strike that cost them half the 1982 season, so fans were as willing as they've been since the AFL to consider a new product. The USFL had substantial TV contracts for the time with ESPN and ABC, something most startup leagues don't have. USFL games featured quality football, with good players who'd fallen through the cracks as well as some talented rookies who signed with the new league rather than the old one. There were only 28 NFL teams (4 less than today) as well as far fewer franchises in other pro sports leagues. As a result, more markets were open and fans were more likely to have available cash and interest than they ever would have been since the 90s. The league's business plan was working until Trump bought in before the second season and started pushing his own agenda. Would the USFL have lasted forever? I don't know. It certainly would have lasted much longer without Trump getting invlved though.