Monday, April 27, 2015

Catching The Worldwide Leader: The New Age Of Niche Market Sports Television

Chris Berman, one of ESPN's original and more polarizing personalities.  
Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia and
Martin Lobberich under CC BY 2.0 License

Back in 1979 a trend was set in sports television viewing that would forever change the landscape of sports television.  I'm talking about the arrival of ESPN and SportsCenter.  For the past 36 years and counting ESPN has had a place in virtually every sports fan's life in one way or another.

In its early heyday, ESPN was the one stop marketplace for fans with pay TV to get their fix of the latest sporting events and news of the day and 36 years later it continues to have an influence on the still growing new sports network landscape whether we like it or not.

As we get further into the 21st century, another thing about ESPN is still quite clear-the network will always have its critics.  I'm one of them.  I have another confession to make.  I don't watch ESPN to get my daily fix of sports news anymore.  The only real use I have for ESPN nowadays is to watch the live sporting events I want to watch where ESPN is the only network carrying said sporting event. I also watch some of ESPN's original programming options such as Around the Horn, Pardon the Interruption and the 30 For 30 documentary series.  That's it.  

So where do I get my daily sports?  With the arrival of sports networks that are specific to each league they cover, it is now easier than ever to follow the ebbs and flows of sports without having to rely on the rely on the Worldwide Leader.  For baseball there's MLB Network.  The NFL has NFL Network.  NBA TV has the Association covered and the NHL Network covers the league invented by the USA's neighbor to the North.  Each of these networks does a far superior job in cover each league's daily news and happenings in comparison to the "Big Boys" in Bristol Connecticut.  So the next time you feel yourself getting tired of the latest discussion on the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry or New England Patriots scandal, consider flipping the channel if you want a more balanced view on sports.


Tim Musick
Copyright 2015
All Rights Reserved      

Monday, April 20, 2015

My Vote For Potential NBA Playoff Format Change Goes To...

Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia and
Keith Allison from Hanover, MD, USA under CC BY-SA 2.0 License
 
Whenever discussion starts to heat up in the world of sports concerning any potential change to a respective league's current playoff format I'm usually in favor of it as long as it doesn't cheapen the value of said playoffs.

To that effect, I applaud NBA Commissioner Adam Silver's efforts to look at any and all possible ways to improve the NBA'S current playoff format.  Under the current system a total of 16 out of a possible 30 teams make the playoffs from the league's two conferences. 8 from the Western Conference and 8 from the Eastern Conference make the playoffs under a seeding system based on overall records where the #1 seed from each conference plays the #8 seed, the #2 seed faces the #7 seed and so on leading to the winners from each conference playing each other in the NBA Finals to determine a champion.

This current system has been in place in some form or another for over 30 years.  It has worked fairly well for the most part during that span.  There have been numerous instances recently though when the 9th place team from one conference had a better overall record than the 8th place team from the other conference.  This scenario played out last season when the Atlanta Hawks made the playoffs with a record of 38-44 made the playoffs while the Western Conference's Phoenix Suns had a record of 48-34 and did not make the playoffs.  Historically the Western Conference has now become far superior of the two conferences to the point where it is almost laughable.  In what world does it make sense for a team with a clearly worse record than another to be granted the opportunity and privilege of competing for the league's top prize, especially when one of those teams has a losing record and the other does not?

The way I see it, the league could do one of two things to fix the current conundrum.  Do some form of conference realignment where you could have 3 conferences of 10 teams each based on geographical location and proximity where the top 4 or 5 teams from each new conference make the playoffs.  Or my personal favorite, have the best 16 teams regardless of conference affiliation qualify for the playoffs and the right to compete for the championship title.  Whatever new system is put in place for the future, it is quite clear that something needs to be done to give all teams a fair and equitable shot at potential playoff glory.


 
Tim Musick
Copyright 2015
All Rights Reserved
        

    




Monday, April 13, 2015

The Sports Elitist Lifestyle

All future Mike Trouts of the world will need to graduate to the varsity level for me to take notice.

Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia and
Keith Allison from Owings Mills, USA under CC BY-SA 2.0 License

One of my core beliefs in life is one should strive for the highest possible standards you can achieve. If you are not striving to be the best at something than you won't be able to fully appreciate true greatness and excellence.

This is the the way I approach all of my sports viewing today.  I consider myself to be living the Sports Elitist Lifestyle.  That means when I do watch sports, I only concern myself with what's going on at the major league levels of all sports.  So welcome to the club Nathional Football League (NFL), Major League Baseball (MLB), National Basketball Association (NBA) and the National Hockey League (NHL).  Sorry NCAA and all other developmental leagues across America.

As a kid I have many memories of attending my fair share of minor league sporting events.  While they were each fun in their own way, I always felt I could never get fully invested into learning about the future athletes whose ultimate dream is to make it on the big stage.  That maybe due to the fact that in the minor leagues of sports, winning is secondary to making a name for yourself and getting noticed.  The enjoyment of minor league sports seems better suited for someone who has the time and patience for evaluating the pros and cons of the future talent the bigger leagues have to offer.  The future Mike Trouts will have to make the big show for me to take notice of their talents.  Until then, they are only prospects with potential to be great.

Another area of my life where my only interest is in seeing the best aspect of a certain sport is my lifelong goal of seeing all 30 Major League ballparks in baseball.  I have very little interest in seeing every single minor league ballpark throughout the United States.

Yes I'm a sports snob and I'm proud of it!


 
Tim Musick
Copyright 2015
All Rights Reserved
    

Monday, April 6, 2015

Dale Scott And Billy Bean: The Foundation Of Major League Baseball's New Era Of Inclusion

Photo Courtesy of:
Wikimedia Commons and tweber1 under CC BY-SA 2.0 License.

As the dawn of the 2015 Major League Baseball draws near one thing is crystal clear: we are entering a new era of progress and inclusion.  When the bell rings on Opening Day today, not only will the game be under new leadership in the Commissioner's Office, it will also mark the beginning of a new era of inclusion.

Two key members who will hopefully serve as excellent role models for the future are Billy Bean and Dale Scott.  Bean, (not to be confused with Oakland Athletics General Manager Billy Beane), will set sail as Major League Baseball's new Ambassador of Inclusion.  Bean also happens to be openly gay.   Dale Scott will be entering his 30th season as a Major League umpire.  That is quite an accomplishment in itself.  Oh and did I mention that Scott is also openly gay and is married to his partner of 28 years in Michael Rausch.

Unlike Bean, Scott never went to great lengths to hide his sexuality and in today's day and age frankly, that's the way it should always be.  Like the honorable Dr. Martin Luther King famously said a person should not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.  This doctrine should also apply to members of the LGBT community.

Lastly, it is my hope that the stories of Billy Bean and Dale Scott will help provide inspiration and understanding to future generations worldwide that at the end of the day, we are all simply human beings with no label required-myself included.




Tim Musick
Copyright 2015
All Rights Reserved.              

Friday, April 3, 2015

March Madness?!...Not So Fast My Friend.


 Living the life of an uber sports fan can be hard to juggle at certain times of the year. Right now I'm doing all I can to balance this juggling act.

Sports is no different than any other aspect of everyday life in that events unfold at an always increasing pace. As in any other aspect of everyday life, there are four very distinct and very different seasons a la Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall.

The new year begins with a bang as the NFL gets things going in January with the arrival of its playoff journey to crown the ultimate champion.

February continues on the natural leisurely path with the world's most watched television of the year at the beginning of the month.  You may have heard of it.  Advertisers call it the big game because that's what the league tells them to call it.  They have to do this because whatever the shield wants the shield gets.  If advertisers stray from this doctrine, you better believe they are going to be hearing from the almighty Commissioner Goodell and his cronies.  We fans call it what it is...THE SUPER BOWL!

Once March rolls around, the sports dialogue gets ratcheted up EVEN MORE to an insanely high volume.  As Nigel Tufnel in Spinal Tap put it so eloquently in perhaps the film's most memorable scene, the sports speakers are pushed to eleven as we reach the end of yearly cycle's first quarter pole.


Photo Courtesy of: Wikimedia and
Ucla90024 under CC BY-SA 3.0 License

This is when brackets are busted, spring training signals the dawn of the 7 month marathon that is the Major League Baseball season and the march, (no pun intended), to the NBA and the NHL's Stanley Cup Playoffs hits full bore! When you put it those various ingredients all together simultaneously, it is enough to drive the senses crazy.  

This is where I am right now.  I just need to remember to and remind myself from time to time to adjust adjust my internal head noise when needed. Right now the speakers are at eleven.  Level five would certainly be nice.  Not too loud and not too soft...JUUUUUUUUUST Right!


Photo Courtesy of: Wikimedia and
Frederick Dennstedt from Los Angeles, USA under CC BY-SA 2.0 License

At least I can find solace in knowing that a new baseball season is so close I can almost taste it. BRING ON THE 7 MONTH LOVE AFFAIR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!




Tim Musick
Copyright 2015
All Rights Reserved.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Changing Of The Guard: From Old School To Progressive New School In Major League Baseball

Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia and Arturo Pardavila III from Hoboken, NJ, USA
under CC BY-SA 2.0 License

The dawn of the 2015 Major League Baseball season is exactly one week away!  Can you feel the excitement?!  Major League ballparks across America will be open for business once again for the next six months.  For 10 lucky clubs there is hope they will be open for business a little longer than the usual six months thanks to a postseason appearance in pursuit of a possible World Series title.

The beginning of the 2015 season, while bringing the same hope and dreams for all 30 Major League clubs, will be unlike any other we have seen in more than 20 years.  Bud Selig is no longer the commissioner.  That job now belongs to the man Selig seemingly hand picked as his successor in Rob Manfred.  Manfred will now be entrusted by all 30 Major League owners to continue the never ending mission of evolving the game known as America's national pastime.

In his first few months on the job, Manfred has not been shy about his desire to make significant changes in the game to better improve the overall product.  Count me in favor of looking at all areas for ways to improve the game even if I don't agree with every single idea being discussed such as possibly banning defensive shifts.  At least we're at a day and age in baseball where the powers that be are willing to discuss these kinds of issues.  I'm not sure the desire for improvement would have been taken seriously some 20 years ago under Bud Selig.



Tim Musick
Copyright 2015
All Rights Reserved    

Monday, March 23, 2015

As Roger Goodell's World Turns

With his less than stellar reputation, Roger Goodell is always on the proverbial Hot Seat.

During the NFL'S regular season and playoffs I couldn't find time to offer my take on the continuing tumultuous tenure of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.  Well with the scouting combine freshly completed and the draft more than a month away, I figured now would be a very good time to offer my thoughts on Roger Goodell's world.

The bottom line plain and simple is that since he became commissioner of the most popular of the four major North American sports leagues in 2006, he has fallen well short of my expectations as a fan.  From the snafu of the Ray Rice investigation to Deflategate, Goodell has made a couple of things very clear.  He is very inept for one reason or another at overseeing the various investigations of alleged criminal activity and his handling of numerous player suspensions is at times beyond comprehension!  We all know that 2 games was more lenient than it should have been given the evidence and circumstances of the Ray Rice case.  As far as the Deflategate episode goes, that is a totally different situation which I will expand on in a future post.

In all likelihood however, Goodell's job status will remain safe as long as the NFL keeps making huge gobs of money under his watch.  If the tide starts to turn the other way I would give serious consideration to finding a replacement for Goodell's services.  There's no telling what will happen on the next episode of 'As Roger Goodell's World Turns.'  Your guess is as good as mine.

 

Tim Musick
Copyright 2015
All Rights Reserved