Thursday, March 5, 2009

So Many Sports Items, So Little Time

Over the past week or so, I heard or read about several sports items I thought would be interesting to the sports minded readers of this blog. So here goes...

Today, USA Today ran this piece on the effect the World Baseball Classic has on the pitchers who participate in it. Being a Nationals fan, I saw the effect first hand when Luis Ayala, one of the Nationals' best relief pitchers, blew out his elbow during the 2006 WBC and was lost for the entire season. Prior to the injury, Ayala never had a season with an ERA over 2.92. In fact, his his 2004 and 2005 ERAs were 2.69 and 2.62, respectively. He managed a respectable 3.19 ERA upon his return in 2007, but he did not seem to have the same stuff he had in 2005. The 2008 season was a disaster for Ayala as he posted ERAs in the high fives both here and with the Mets. I saw several of his appearances in person last year and, at times, it looked like he was pitching batting practice.

Today's Washington Times featured this article on the struggles many sports museums are having in these harsh economic times. After reading this, I really wondered what effect the economy would have on Dan Snyder's plans for a Redskins hall of fame and museum and the NASCAR Hall of Fame which is presently being constructed in Charlotte and a sports museum I almost visited, The National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame. (Almost you ask? Well, I was in Chicago and stumbled upon the NIASHF while in Litte Italy for a street festival that featured a Smithereens concert. I was going to take a short tour, but the Hall closed early that day to prepare for a lecture by Tommy Lasorda. By the way, the lecture wasn't on baseball. It was on wine. The lecture was followed by a wine tasting and sale that featured wine from a vineyard Lasorda was involved in. And, before moving on from Tommy Lasorda, here's a medley of some of his best tirades, complete with plenty of F bombs.)

Back to today's USA Today, this piece details the Mountain West Conference's recent proposal for an eight team national championship playoff in major college football. Talk about being idealistic! I can't see how the BCS conferences would ever allow a playoff to happen. And, if the NCAA has anything to do with a playoff, I'm sure they would screw it up as they often do the Division I-AA playoffs (the subject of a future post as football season draws nearer). Seeing everyone has an opinion on a playoff and this is my blog, here is my propsoal...

Have a 16 team playoff which gives an automatic bid to all eleven conferences in Division I-A (I refuse to call it FBS). The other five spots would be at large berths. The 16 participating teams would be seeded 1 thru 16 and a traditional tournament would be held. The higher seeds would host first and second round games with the semi-finals and finals to be played at bowl sites. Yes, this format would include some teams that would have no chance in hell of winning (i.e. the Conference U.S.A, MAC and Sun Belt champions). But, those teams would at least be able to say they have a chance at the national championship while being cannon fodder for the top seeded teams.

Daily we hear about the effects the poor economy are having on everything from the stock market down to man on the street. It seems a constant barrage of bad news is all you hear, so normally this story about the how economy is effecting the Quail Hollow Golf Championship wouldn't have caught my attention. Honestly, and for good reason, I had never heard of the Quail Hollow Golf Championship until I heard a discussion about it on the radio. Up until this year, the tournament was named the Wachovia Championship, after the bank which paid $3 million per year to sponsor the tournament. This year's name change has nothing to do with Wachovia (now a part of Wells Fargo) pulling its sponsorship. But, it has everything to do with PR. Wachovia/Wells Fargo is countractually obligated to sponsor the tournament thru 2014, but the bank does not want the negative publicity associated with what the public may consider a frivolous expense after the bank took government bailout money.

And finally, Nationals pitcher Shawn Hill missed his scheduled spring training start today because of soreness in his pitching arm. I guess some things never change....poor guy.

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