Monday, May 18, 2015

To DH Or Not To DH?: That Is The National League Question.

If the National League had the Designated Hitter, this guy might still be wearing the uniform pictured above.

Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia and
shgmom56 under CC BY-SA 2.0 License

One of the new topics up for debate as the the 2015 Major League Baseball season rolls along into its second is the potential addition of the Designated Hitter rule in the National League.

Old school baseball fan purists will argue that the addition of the DH to possibly both leagues will take away from the overall strategy of the game.  New school baseball fans will most likely consider all avenues of improvement to make America's national pasttime a better game overall going forward and that includes looking at adding the DH to the senior circuit.

I've had many a conversation with my Dad on this issue.  Let's just say his view toward it is the get off my lawn cranky old neighbor whereas I'm more open minded about seeing the DH in both leagues.

Perhaps my biggest selling point on adding the DH to the National League is for selfish reasons. That is I just think it is just plain boring to watch pitchers hit nowadays.

Consider the following as an example.  Your favorite is up batting and has a rally going with a pretty good chance of scoring multiple runs in said inning.  Things are going so well that your team now has the bases loaded with the pitcher's spot coming up.  To make the situation even better (or worse, depending on your perspective), there are no outs.  Now the way thing currently stand, your team will probably use a pinch hitter off the bench in this situation.  All I can say is good luck to that guy on the bench who probably is not good enough already to be penciled into the starting lineup.  Either of these situations would be less than ideal for me as a fan.  I wouldn't want to have to depend on that day's starting pitcher to come up with a big hit or put my faith in a bench guy who may only get a couple at bats a week.  That is not a successful recipe for offensive consistency in a lineup if you ask me.  Pitchers already have enough to worry about when facing a big league lineup loaded with hopefully quality Major League hitters.  They don't need any added distractions on top of that.

Here's another question to consider on the subject?  Have you ever thought to yourself why is it that the big name superstars like Miguel Cabrera and Albert Pujols sign with American League ballclubs when they hit free agency and cash in on the mega deals of their careers that has them set for life financially?  If you guessed the security blanket of the Designated Hitter spot as they get older, here's your gold star!

By adding the DH to both leagues for future seasons, all 30 Major League ballclubs would have an equal opportunity at going after the big superstars instead of the usual 15 that the junior circuit has to offer.  If that was the case, Albert would most likely still be a member of the St. Louis Cardinals.  As for Miguel Cabrera, he probably still wouldn't be a member of the Miami Marlins but that's another story for another day.

In any case, the DH Debate isn't going away anytime soon.  Here's my final prediction: the DH is coming to the National League and baseball will be better for it in the long run.



Tim Musick
Copyright 2015
All Rights Reserved  

Monday, May 11, 2015

Capturing The Excitement Of The Stanley Cup Playoffs

Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia and
Alexey Chernyadyev under CC BY 3.0 License

Well to say it's been an adrenaline rush watching this year's Stanley Cup Playoffs would be a huge understatement.  And the funny thing is I didn't really start getting into hockey until the Los Angeles Kings made their run to 2 Stanley Cup victories over the last few years.

So go ahead and call me a bandwagon fan if you must.  That still doesn't diminish my excitement as the playoff march rolls on.  There's just something dramatic about the potential of every play leading to a scoring chance or missed opportunity.  It's even more exciting with the added element of sudden death overtime!  Oh and then there's the extra chippiness that comes with scrums and altercations that develops between the players, coaches and officials and I love it!


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

That's the way it should be over the course of any best-of-7 playoff series in any sport.  Trophies aren't handed out for taking it easy on your opponent.  On the contrary, greatness is ultimately rewarded by pushing your foes to their breaking point.  So as the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs march on, here's to hoping that the excitement doesn't stop.  Oh and for my money, I'm rooting for the Blackhawks and Rangers this year with the Rangers coming out on top.




Tim Musick
Copyright 2015
All Rights Reserved  

Monday, May 4, 2015

Derrick Rose: The Cautionary Injury Tale

Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia and
Keith Allison from Owings Mills, USA under CC BY-SA 2.0 License
 
Will the real Derrick Rose please stand up?  The Chicago Bulls point guard's injury history brings this question to the forefront of my mind as well as fans of the Bulls and the NBA.  As we all may know, Rose suffered yet another knee injury at the end of February.

If my memory is correct, this is the third knee injury he's suffered in his career.  Hopefully by the time you see this writing, he will have undergone a successful rehabilitation program and is doing all he can do in leading the Bulls on what could be a deep playoff run.

On the other side of the coin, fans are instinctively going to be asking themselves what's going to happen if this same scenario happens again and praying for the best. Part of the good news this time around is The Bulls were in pretty good shape as the season wound down.  It could be that with all the time Derrick Rose has missed over the years, the organization has done pretty well adjusting to competing without their marquee superstar on a regular basis.  There is no question though that the Bulls are a better team when Rose is in uniform and on the basketball court.

While I'm not a Bulls fan myself, I can certainly picture what it would be like if my Angels played a significant amount of their games in a given season without Mike Trout.  Let's just say the results would not be pretty.  So here's to good future health to Derrick Rose and hope that the injury bug doesn't hit your favorite sports team anytime soon.


 
Tim Musick
Copyright 2015
All Rights Reserved    

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.