Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Why I (Sadly) Stopped Caring about the NBA This Season

This is replacing an NHL prediction post (which I normally do write about, but antihistamines said 'no' to that happening). I think it's pretty good though.

66 games.
One more number and you have a hell of an explanation (see what I did there).

To me, it was more like 66 games of "let's pretend that the season actually mattered." I'm not saying it because the 76ers (my hometown team) didn't make it. I really didn't even care about that. It just seemed like the whole season was thrown together amidst a whole bunch of legal hullaballoo.

In my eyes, there has always been a thing about lockouts and how they can totally ruin a league or a season. The NBA hasn't had a great track record when it comes to coming to terms in their Collective Bargaining Agreement. In the past fifteen years, four lockouts have happened. Two of those lockouts lasted from five to six months, bleeding into the regular season. This year's wasn't as bad as the one during the 1998-1999 season, but it required a lot of stupidity and business explosions to get it pretty darned close.

There are a lot of simple things that a lockout can do to a league:
-- Lesser interest
-- Lower attendance figures
-- Lousy team chemistry, due to possible forbidding of team practices (unless behind closed doors)
-- Amount of sponsorship decreases due to inability to resume contract negotiations with companies.

It's pretty nasty from a business/marketing standpoint as well as the standpoint of the media and the audience. What's even worse is how things have to get thrown together for a late start even after the CBA was finalized mid-season. You know what? The NHL is a good example of this occurrence. I'll mention the NHL in this post because it's a darn good example and I feel bad that I didn't write anything about the Stanley Cup Finals this year.

Just like the NBA, the NHL doesn't have a great record when it comes to this stuff. In a history that has seen a shortened season, a canceled season, and a players' strike, you almost have to wonder what's going to happen in the upcoming offseason since their CBA will be expiring soon. Yes, I said it. Soon. As in "we're going to be watching more worrisome coverage on ESPN and the NHL Network about the NHL CBA after the Stanley Cup Finals cease" soon.

But anyway, the National Hockey League knows what it's like to lose fans. Franchises know what it's like to lose massive revenue due to no play and no endorsements. Players...well, players can flock to another league somewhere outside of North America. However, this was kind of a big deal. In fact, many of the players were the points of blame for the lockout. According to reports, salaries for many players were ridiculously higher than what team salary caps offered, and that there was not a good amount of control between the owners and the teams themselves. There was also an issue about supply and demand when it came to ticket sales and how there was a loophole in financial statements. It got super complicated.

For one thing, the lockout certainly separated the fans from the bandwagon riders. Plus, for all of eternity, Lord Stanley's Cup now has a bald spot on it (it's okay, Big Bowl...I had one too).

Back to the NBA...for a league to have experienced four lockouts, it's going to take a while for certain organizations to recover even though the NBA Playoffs are doing substantially well (and all of the Sonics fans back in Seattle are crying). The five months of the lockout were five months lost as far as business goes, and hopefully their recent CBA is good enough to renew without argument next time around. As far as many fan bases, certain cities can draw some massive crowds (Boston, LA, Dallas, Chicago, etc), but there are some cities that had to beg and plead for crowds (New Jersey, New Orleans, Charlotte--I don't have to get into that one) not only because of poor play, but because they didn't have anything to show for it before the season even started. I think I would have cared more about the NBA season if it was hyped after the CBA was approved and ratified. It's like everything ran into itself once the ratification process happened.

Don't get me wrong, I'll probably watch the NBA Finals and everything, but I'm not going to take it seriously. This year was a speed bump.

Do you agree?


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

(Insert Japanese Drums in This Post Here)

Here's another example of the term that I love to hate--sports entertainment.

Now that I'm done gagging, I am going to talk about something that you wouldn't think I would ever talk about in a sports blog: reality television. No, really, I am. You would be shocked to see what most critics and writers are considering 'sports' in the world of reality television. In this post, I'm going to talk about an underground sensation that nerds and freerunners all over the country are absolutely gaga about.

This structure is known as Mount Midoriyama, a mountain that only the strongest and most determined of competitors have scaled.

This is the passion of the people that take part in what Americans call "Ninja Warrior." Known as SASUKE in Japan, it's a semi-annual competition in which 100 men (sometimes women) attempt to complete three obstacle courses in a specific time to reach Mt. Midoriyama and scale it to become champion. It started about fifteen years ago and began American broadcasts on the G4 network a couple of years ago.

Since the beginning of the American broadcasts, it has gained a following among different American athletes. Even U.S. Olympic gymnasts Paul and Morgan Hamm have taken part in the competition. In the past three years, numerous American freerunners (those parkour guys) have taken the competition by storm, impressing even the big guys known as the "SASUKE All Stars" of the competition. Now, a newer "Mt. Midoriyama" has been built...for American competitors in Las Vegas called American Ninja Warrior.

How do I know this?
It was on NBC this week, all with cheesy music, graphics, and an even cheesier announce team.
The kicker among all of this is when I haven't seen an ounce of advertising for it. I stumbled across the darned thing by accident. That's how much I think NBC Universal actually cares about it. Remember the revamp of American Gladiators? I'm surprised that lasted as long as it did, brother! Basically, they have four regions in which competitors do a full obstacle course, and the top fifteen competitors go to Vegas to compete for $500,000 and the title of American Ninja Warrior.

But anyway, to my point....

Japan is definitely known for having a crazy niche of having some crazy ideas that have a tendency to work in American markets. (NINTENDO. That is all.) The world of reality television has indeed taken a priority in American markets over the past fifteen years, as most are cheaper in budget as opposed to sitcoms, and most have a particular draw: ridiculous concepts that people will actually subject themselves to in order to get money and fame. Shows like Survivor and The Amazing Race have been on television for years and years and years because of their uniqueness and their capability to draw people to see different sides of humanity when it comes to survival (and the reward of money, of course).
In the case of SASUKE, it's an athletic competition that not only gets the draw from seeing physical feats, but watching people from comedians and celebrities, to fishermen, college students, and law enforcement officers take part in this.

That's pretty much the only place where the similarities are: the draws.

The main difference in which something like this won't fly in the United States is that athletic/survival competitions are really a thing of the past. The only reality TV shows that exist on American sets (aside from game shows like Jeopardy and The Price is Right) now have to do with either dancing, singing, fashion, weddings, New Jersey, or Kim Kardashian. Japan is a smaller country in which they enjoy competition in their programming, especially when it involves an Average Joe doing some hidden talent for all of their people to see.

It's sad that I don't think that American Ninja Warrior will do well as far as ratings go, but like I just said, the concept is kind of old and it's been dying a slow and painful death for several years. Plus, the advertising hasn't been great at all. Do I think something like this is a cool concept? Definitely yes. The reason being is that it's something different for people from different academic and athletic fields to come and show off their hidden talents and athleticism. Heck, maybe stuff like this would aid in the obesity problem because people would go: "I wanna do that" or something else. It would also make the audience appreciate the people who do lower-class jobs a lot more. I just don't think this is what America wants right now, which is sad.

Seriously guys, YouTube some of the SASUKE competitions or watch it on G4. This stuff is surprisingly fun to watch.

Makoto Nagano, a fisherman who won in 2006. Mad respect for this guy.
It's entertaining, and since it requires some sort of athleticism, it is considered a sport in it's own respect. Too bad most Americans have turned a blind eye to it so far.


Monday, May 7, 2012

Red Whines: "Old School" is on Life Support

This post is dedicated to Cole Hamels' utter stupidity.

Alright, you want to make a statement? Are you trying to do something totally illegal and get away with it? 

Okay....just make sure that you play the role.
Somebody obviously didn't get that memo.
Hi, Cole Hamels.

The story began in the first inning of the Phillies/Nationals game on Sunday night. Mister Hamels plunked the angst-y teenager Bryce Harper in the back, attempting to make a statement--what kind of statement, nobody is really sure of at this time. Here's the moment that I'd like to call the "facepalm moment." After the game, Hamels' said this (per

"I was trying to hit him," Hamels said. "I'm not going to deny it. I'm not trying to injure the guy. They're probably not going to like me for it, but I'm not going to say I wasn't trying to do it. I think they understood the message, and they threw it right back. That's the way, and I respect it."


That was one of the quotes where you just wanted to step through the television as soon as you hear the quote and just smack the person silly. Yes, I'm a self-professed Phillies fan, but in a neutral state of mind, I still wanted to beat the living crap out of him for admitting that. Because of his "manliness--"err, stupidity, MLB slammed a five-game suspension on his pretty-boy behind. You know it's bad when the rest of the team has a hard time backing him up and skipper Charlie Manuel admitted that saying that was the absolute dumbest thing possible.

You see, there's that unspoken rule where you just pretend that the ball somehow left your hand and just happened to hit somebody. You accident? That's like me when I play Duck Hunt and just happen to shoot that stupid annoying dog and just explain to everyone around me that I just happen to have terrible aim and hit the dogs instead of the ducks. Anyway, you just don't talk about that stuff, most especially if it's on the record. There's no such thing as being a "tough guy" when it comes to that stuff; you just look like a tool. Yes, I said it. A TOOL.

(This is where the post title kicks in, in case you were wondering.)
He (somewhere in the media) stated something about "bringing back the old school" in what he did. Apparently everybody did that back then. Really? Everybody? I didn't know that Jackie Robinson was still attempting to break the color barrier there, Cole. This is a different age. From what I know, "old school" sports have been in hospice care and on life support since the birth of social networking. Back then, you only really knew what you read in the papers or saw on the television or what you heard on the radio. Now, you don't have that barrier to really cloak the mystery and pure talent that those gentlemen had in years past. Today, I could probably tweet to Jimmy Rollins saying that he's still a fast son-of-a-gun and have him respond back with a "thank you" or something. Twenty years ago, I would just marvel at it and wish to be him. Back in the day, tough guys were tough guys--no questions asked. Today, you hear a lot of "athletes" whine and complain on Twitter over their team or their wives cheating on them (Hey Lito and Jabar, how ya' doin'?) and they just seem like equals, or--if you're classier--completely foolish individuals. This "tough guy" line is blurred, and the "old school" is in this vegetative state that will eventually die when the generations that aren't technologically illiterate die out. Frankly, because we know a lot of the personal lives of athletes, they don't have that mysterious allure to them that the "old school" had. Believe me, I would love to see the old school ways come back, but it's never going to happen. People are a little too public in this global village nowadays.

In my view, there is nothing "old school" about purposely hitting someone. In fact, it's classless and it makes the team (let alone the city) look worse than it actually is. This could actually be the reason why all national broadcasters hate the city of Philadelphia to begin with. One little thing can really screw things up for a team/city/franchise. And "making a statement" like that will put that extra nail in the coffin. That's not cool, guys. It really isn't.
In conclusion, Cole Hamels wasn't exactly smart about this, and now he's paying the price for his stupidity. Hopefully this teaches all of the idiots out there a lesson to keep their mouths shut, yes?