Hello again everybody...
Happy Wednesday to you all. I know I say this often, but this week the weekend REALLY can't get here soon enough. Only this time my motivation is mostly meteorological. For the past couple of weeks we've been having “March in May” here in Minnesota. While I don't want to complain too loudly since we had “May in April” just last month, it looks like things will finally be getting back to normal come the weekend. Thank you weather gods.
I'll be honest, I'm scraping the bottom of the ol' barrel for subjects today. Every now and then there's a lull in the sports news. It's not that there's nothing going on. But there isn't much that's got me fired up to write about.
But I stick to my schedule as best I can because that's what you, my dear readers, expect and it's what you, my dear readers, deserve!
No single subject irking me? No problem! We'll just do some Notes!
Off we go...
”When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”
- Hunter S. Thompson (1939 - 2005), American journalist and author
Honestly? I have no idea. I just liked the sound of it.
Time for some...
Toronto: Hey, the G20 Summit's going to be in town at the same time the Jays are supposed to host the Phillies! MLB: Thanks, we'll move that series to Philadelphia!
When I first saw the headline on this story I was mildly annoyed. But, as I try to do as often as I can, I went back and re-read the story carefully, and now it mostly makes sense.
The G20 Summit always brings with it lots of protesters and security concerns. Given the fact that it's being held next door to the Rogers Centre (seriously Canada? You have to make up ways to spell words now?!) it would make getting to and from the ballpark a nightmare for all involved.
As I said, I initially didn't like the idea because it seemed thoroughly unfair to the Blue Jays. Sure, they'd still get the gate receipts from the games even if they're played in Philadelphia, but they lose three games in the relative comfort of their home. Philly's crowds are notorious, and even though it's an interleague series, those wins and losses could still be important.
MLB is going out of it's way, however, to ensure that it's as much a home game for Toronto as it can be given the circumstances. The DH will be used and Toronto will bat last. There's not much that can be done about the decidedly pro-Phillies crowd, but the safety and security of fans and players has to take precedence in this case.
The Twins had a brutal road-trip in 2008 to clear out of town during the Republican National Convention for the same reasons, and they still came within a Game 163 of making the playoffs. In the end, with the Yankees and Rays ahead of them, Toronto probably doesn't have the same concern.
The Big Ten is expanding... wait, maybe it's not... no, they've definitely made offers... or, not so much...
Honestly, I'm not sure I really care whether the Big Ten expands or not. I just want them to make up their minds already.
Obviously, if they are going to expand, then they should take enough time to do it right. But it seems to me they're dragging this thing out a whole lot longer than is strictly necessary.
Rumors of the league expanding have been popping up for months. First it was going to be a 12-team league. Then 14. And now there are rumors that they may expand to 16 teams and create four 4-team divisions! A high-ranking source within a Big Ten athletic department told me that it's his belief that the expansion will be either to 16-teams, or not happen at all.
Moving to a 16-team league would position the Big Ten as the dominant brand in college sports - even more so if Notre Dame is involved (and don't think that can't happen - the success of the Big Ten Network offsets many of the financial reasons the Irish have cited in the past for remaining independent). It would also necessitate absorbing schools from other major conferences (the Big 12 and Big East seem to be the most likely targets, though don't rule out the ACC). So not only will those conferences need to fill those holes, they'll be looking to expand just to keep up with the Joneses.
That makes me fear that we'll end up with an even more lopsided power structure - especially in college football - than we already seem to have. Basketball's another matter since the talent level is diluted by early-entry into the NBA and the sheer number of Division I teams. But in football, mid-major clubs already have an uphill battle trying to get into BCS games. Imagine how much more difficult it will be if the power of the BCS conferences becomes more concentrated!
The truth of the matter is we don't really know how this will shake out. Talk of expansion in the Big Ten has come and gone several times in the past. While the rumors seem far more persistent these days, they don't necessarily carry any more truth. If you believe this report, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany flat out denies reports that preliminary offers have been extended to any schools at all. (Apologies to Notre Dame, Nebraska, Missouri and Rutgers.)
Sadly, we're likely going to have to wait until June when the conference presidents get together for their annual meetings before anything definitive is announced. And I'm not holding my breath for it to come at that point either.
Baseball stat geeks rejoice!
Okay, I'm probably one of the few who's going to mark-out over this, but I don't care. It's my blog dammit, and I think this rocks!
MLB has now created a page on it's website where you can get the Game Notes for any club in the big leagues.
That's right, the same packets of information that are made available to media on a daily basis, are now available to you and I. Everything that happened the day, series and week before for all 30 MLB clubs is now at your fingertips.
You can access them here.
I can hear several of you saying, “good lord Dan, do you really think we're interested in this?” But at least click over there just to see the sheer volume of information that's available. It's mind-boggling.
In fact, it's amazing to me that broadcasters and beat-writers are able to process all of it. There's so much material there that after a point it's got to be difficult to get a grasp on any of it. Don't get me wrong, the clubs do a great job of highlighting the more important material. But there's just so damned much of it! Sure, part of the reason I love baseball is because of the amount of statistical material involved. But my poor little brain (insert punchline here) gets overloaded when I try to take it all in!
Yet another reason I'm far better off writing as a hobby than as a profession!
That's going to wrap things up for today. I'll be back on Friday with your usual heaping helping of Updating!
Until then, thanks for reading!