Wednesday, April 25, 2012

If I Were in Charge of.....the NHL

It's time for another installment of the ongoing series "If I Were in Charge of".  This time around, we look at the National Hockey League.  This is a league that has a great playoff system and indeed has had it's ups and downs with regard to leadership (see the lockout that shut down an entire season....ultimate fail).  They have improved since then but there are still a few things that I'd do to help with improving the league.  So with that in mind, if I were in charge of the NHL.....

*Have a new TV deal with ESPN.  Yes I know they signed a huge TV deal with NBC and helped relaunch what used to be Verses (which used to be the Outdoor Life Network) to now the NBC Sports Network but seriously the NHL needs to be back on ESPN.  When they left the network, ESPN pretty much dropped 95% of their coverage of the sport.  Sad on their part yes but that's what they did.  I would work out a contract where ESPN gets Tuesday night games on the original (not ESPN 2 or any of the other ESPN "family of networks") starting at the beginning of the season.  If things went well, maybe even have an option to show early rounds of the Stanley Cup Finals.  More exposure on ESPN would be beneficial to the sport and would be a nice stepping stone to growth.

*More games on NBC, especially more Stanley Cup Finals games.  Yes I know the start of the NHL season overlaps NFL & College football but since NBC only has Notre Dame football on Saturdays and NFL isn't until Sunday night, I'm sure NBC could show regular season games earlier in the year, maybe try and coincide the NHL game with whatever market the NFL game will be in that same day.  Also, all Stanley Cup Finals games should be on network television not just a couple.

*Like with my proposal for the NBA, have 4 nights each month called "family nights". That would mean prices from seats to concessions would be set at affordable prices so that a family of 4 could sit in really good seats and watch a game and not stuck in the nosebleed sections. The franchises can make more than enough money the rest of the season that it wouldn't hurt them to have these kind of nights and would help develop the fanbase so that everyone could enjoy the games.

*Continue to work and develop to minimze concussions.  Hockey has had its share of concussion related injuries even to top stars like Sidney Crosby.  I would make it a priority to be at the forefront of research to help treat and prevent on ice incidents where concussions could happen.

*Have more exposure of the Hockey Night in Canada crew in the U.S.  One of the joys of living in Seattle was I got CBC on my cable system and got to watch Hockey Night in Canada on Saturdays.  I think it would be cool to have more interaction with the crew up there here in the states.  Would bring another side and be entertaining to fans here.

What do you think?  Feel free to leave comments on how you would change the NHL and go back and check out previous posts in the series.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Random Sports Reflections

Here's some random thoughts and reflections running through my head...

*Congrats to Chicago White Sox pitcher Philip Humber on throwing a perfect game on Saturday....even though it was against the Mariners and there was a sketchy called third strike to end the game by the ump.  Humber is a strong follower of Jesus so it's always nice to see a fellow believer do well.

*On a more positive sports fan note, the Predators won their opening round series 4-1 against the Detroit Red Wings.  It's the first time they've beaten their rivals in the playoffs and hopefully that'll be the start to a deep run in the playoffs.

*Yesterday I went to a college baseball game on the campus of the University of South Carolina Upstate.  They were playing the Jacksonville Dolphins to end the three game series that the Spartans had won the first two games.  Let me set the stage for you, it was the bottom of 8th inning and the Spartans were down 4-1.  When it got to be the top of the 9th inning, the score was 12-4 USC Upstate with the lead.  In the span of one half inning, there were 11 runs scored (all unearned) on like 5 hits, 2 errors, 2 batters hit by a pitch, 3 walks, and a passed ball.  Along with the starter, there were 4 pitchers used in the innning including one who didn't even record an out.  Wild ending to say the least.

*The incident that blew up on Twitter yesterday afternoon was Ron Artest (aka Metta World Peace) throwing an elbow to James Harden of That Team Which is Located in Oklahaoma City.  I wasn't watching the game because it was the Lakers and that other team, two teams in which I have no interest in watching but I did hear about the incident and saw a brief lowlight this morning on the TV.  Apparently, after a dunk (I believe) by Artest, he decided out of nowhere to give a little elbow check to Harden who was just standing there.  Harden has a concussion and it's uncertain when he'll be back.  Artest, for the moment, is not suspended but that's just a formality that he will be.  Artest has a history of on the court incidents, including the infamous Brawl in the Palace in Detroit back when he was with the Indiana Pacers.  He has a lot of rage inside of him and some thought that he had gotten over that with the whole name change thing.    But ultimately, change needs to take place in the heart and not just by a name.  That only comes through relationship with Jesus.  Hopefully, that will happen for Artest.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

If I Were In Charge Of....MLB

It's time for another installment for "If I Were In Charge Of".  This week's installment looks at Major League Baseball.  This is a league that has definitely had its ups and downs and some really stupid moves along with some smart moves.  I do believe there are still a lot of improvements that can be made to "America's Pasttime" to make it even better.  So here are some changes I would make if I were in charge of MLB....

*Institute a hard salary cap and have a minimum spending level.  One thing the NFL (which I'll get to in a later post) totally gets right is this aspect.  They have a hard salary cap & along with that have a minimum spending level.  One of the most ridiculous aspects of baseball is how teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies and such can have players on their team who's salary matches several teams' total salaries.  In a way to shorten the gulf between the big market & small market teams institute a hard salary cap.  That way the same four teams can't be the only ones going after the top free agents.  Gives a more level playing field for the rest of the teams.  At the same time, there is a minimum spending level that all teams have to reach.  It keeps the stingy owners from not paying their players (I'm looking at you Dan Glass).  I would have one exception to the hard cap and that's implementing a type of "Larry Bird rule".  In the NBA, there is a salary cap exception for certain players to that teams can re-sign their own players.  In this instance, each team will have one exception to for a superstar player to re-sign to make them a "_______ for life" type player.  That way fans can identify with at least one superstar for each of the teams in MLB.

*Get rid of home field advantage from the All-Star Game.  I always thought that was an overreaction to what happened in the All-Star Game that ended in a tie.  Honestly that game shouldn't have ended in a tie, they should've kept playing it until it was over but Bud Selig goofed and then tried to fix the goof and now we have "This Time It Counts".  I would either go back to alternating home field between National & American Leagues (even years it's American, odd years it's National) or best record gets home field.  That seems more fair than what is involved now.

*Have a consistent strike zone across the board.  Case in point, I watched part of the Red Sox/Rays game yesterday and at the end of the game there was literally an at-bat where none of the pitches were in the strike zone & the batter did not swing & the umpire called all strikes.  That's ridiculous.  There needs to be a consistent strike zone across the board.  There will always be judgment calls in sports I understand but when it's understood what a strike zone should be, then call it that way.  Different umpires shouldn't have different strike zones.

*Bring back day/night doubleheaders & day game playoff games.  Some of this is definitely old school I know but there's nothing wrong with a little old school now and then.  It'd be cool to have maybe weekend series where there is a day/night doubleheader (maybe on a Friday or Saturday) so that fans could really enjoy a day at the ballpark.  Along with that, have more day game playoff games.  It's detrimental to the sport when you have playoff games that have such a late start at night.  Having day games (as in like mid afternoon) I think would help draw in more kids to the sport.

*Have "Autograph Days" during each homestand.  Each team will have designated "Autograph Days" where they will have players set aside time pregame where they will sign autographs for fans.  There will be designated players for each homestand signing.  That way fans can have more opportunities to interact with players and players can build more rapport with the fans.

Feel free to post in the comments what changes you would make if you were in charge of MLB and go back and check out previous posts and comment there.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Another Cool Twitter Encounter

Ever since I got on Twitter (back around 2009), it has been for me a really good tool.  It has been my go to place for status updates for Facebook, a place for real time thoughts on games and events, and a really great place to interact with people that I don't normally get to interact with face to face.  I would say that my experience on Twitter has been 98% positive.

Another of the 98% happened last week.  To preface, a couple of months ago I started listening to a podcast called SportsYapp (there's a link to some of the podcasts on this blog.  It's done by Sports Spectrum, which is a sports magazine that tells stories about those in sports and their faith in Jesus.  On the podcast, Bryce Johnson, who is the host, will talk about sports and entertainment and Jesus along with interviewing those in the sports & entertainment fields.  Some of the people Bryce has interviewed have been CBS analyst Clark Kellogg, ESPN writer & commentator Chris Broussard, Tennessee Titans punter Brett Kern, Buffalo Bills wide receiver Brad Smith & Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw among others.  It's a really cool podcast.  If you haven't checked it out yet, you ought to give it a try.

So I follow SportsYapp on Twitter.  Recently I began to follow Jason Romano on Twitter.  Who is Jason Romano you ask?  Well Jason is the Senior Talent Producer at ESPN.  He is in charge of booking guests and analyst for the various shows on the ESPN family of networks.  I started following Jason on Twitter for 3 reasons (in no particular order).  One, he talks about sports and the various people that come through Bristol.  Two, he shares Scripture and his faith.  Three, he randomly has pictures of when Star Wars was visiting ESPN on his Twitter profile picture sometimes.  Pretty good combination in my book.

Now that you know the backstory, here's the cool encounter.  So last Monday (March 26th), I @ replied to SportsYapp suggesting they should try and get Jason Romano on their podcast because I thought it'd be a good interview.  Well not even a few minutes later I get a message from Jason contacting me about it and where to reach him and that he'd love to do it if he was able to get permission from ESPN.  I then sent a message to Bryce with Jason's contact info and that was that.

This week rolls around and the interview was up yesterday.  It was a really good interview about some of the behind the scenes stuff of what it takes to get talent on air.  Jason also shared his testimony and what it's like to live out his faith where he works.  The link to the interview is here.

It's really cool how God uses such things like Twitter for His glory.  And it's a really cool reminder that even something as simple as a tweet can be used in a big way.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

If I Were in Charge of.....College Basketball

This is part two of a series of posts on if I was the Director of the Department of Sports and what all I would do if I was in charge.  Last time was about the NBA, this time it's college basketball.  Last week was the end to another run of March Madness and partly from that run came the idea for this series.  This entry will tie in well to last one as there will be some ideas that will be helpful in both arenas.  So, if I were in charge of college basketball...

*No more one and done athletes.  Like I mentioned with the NBA post, if a high schooler wants to jump straight to the pros fine but if he signs with a university he stays a minimum of three years and puts himself on track to graduate if he leaves early.   Give a real emphasis to "student athlete" and not just "barely a student just so they're able to play one year and then leave".

*Scholarships are a 4 year commitment not a 1 year commitment renewed 4 times.  I will probably use this instance as well when I talk about college football but the argument is good here as well.  If a university is signing a student to a scholarship it should be for the length of the time that the student will be there.  That student can be assured that their scholarship won't be yanked away and given to somebody else on a whim.

*With regard to automatic bids, power conferences can give them to regular season champs, mid-majors to tourney champs.  Power conferences can still have tourney champions and get some bonus (better seeding in NCAA tourney) if they win but don't have to worry about a regular season power conference champion being an at-large bid in the NCAA tourney.  For the mid-majors, their conference tournaments can be highlighted because of keeping the tourney champ as the automatic bids.

*Have the automatic qualifiers ranked as the higher seeds (1-8) and at large bids as the lower seeds (9-16).  This is probably the most out there one but I think it make things interesting.  It would assure mid majors that are really good that they will not be ranked no lower than an 8 seed and at large teams that were so so would be ranked no higher than a 9 seed. On top of that, the last 8 at large teams would be the ones playing in the "First Four".  Automatic qualifiers from mid major schools shouldn't be the majority in the "First Four".  It should be teams that were on the bubble that should be playing in Dayton.  Make them earn their way into the tourney.

*Gus Johnson should call March Madness games again.  This year, Gus wasn't calling games because he doesn't work for CBS.  There should be a contract that allows him to work March Madness games.  I know that Jay Bilas for a time worked March Madness games while working also at ESPN.  They could do the same for Gus.  March Madness isn't the same without Gus.  That should be fixed.

That is part two of "If I Were in Charge of".  Feel free to go back and check out other posts in this series and leave a comment on how you would change things if you were "in charge".

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

If I Were in Charge Of.....the NBA

I was thinking yesterday about starting a new series on this blog (and hopefully sticking with it).  This is the first post in a series on "If I were in charge of....".  The basis for this series came from some thoughts I had about changes I would make in different sports organizations and leagues.  So if there was a Department of Sports position in government (or in England a Ministry of Sports position, which I would prefer better, sounds cooler & is a nod to the Monty Python skit the Ministry of Silly Walks) and I was named the director and had the authority to make changes, in this series I would list some of those changes I would make.

The first league I would look at would be the National Baskeball Association, otherwise known as the NBA.  Growing up, I was a big NBA fan but in recent years my fandom has diminished significantly.  I think there can be some things the NBA can do to fix that.  So with that in mind, if I were in charge of the NBA.

*Put an NBA team back in Seattle.  My first priority would be to get a team back in Seattle.  I would make David Stern publicly apologize for the way he and the NBA treated the fans in Seattle in allowing the franchise to leave and go to Oklahoma City.  I would take the Hornets (which really should have stayed in Oklahoma City in the first place) and move that team to Seattle.  I would essentially make it a three way deal.  Deal 1) The Sonics name, championship and records would fully be Seattle's and not shared in any way shape or form with the Thunder.  2) The Thunder in essence would be like the Baltimore Ravens of the NFL when they moved from Cleveland, their own franchise with their own records not connected with Seattle.  3) The Hornets name & records would then be sent back to Charlotte and they can drop the Bobcats name and be the Charlotte Hornets again.  I would also give exceptions to the salary cap to any member of the Thunder who was on the Sonics team before they moved if they sign with Seattle (i.e. Kevin Durant could come back to Seattle).

*Drop the one and done rule.  In partnership with the NCAA in regards to college basketball (which I'll address in another post how I would change things there), I would get rid of the rule for basketball players to have to wait a year before they can declare for the draft.  If guys want to declare right out of high school let them do it.  Now those that know me know that this is a change in stance from probably a decade ago when I was all against guys going straight from high school to the pros.  But after seeing the last few years of college basketball and the ridiculousness of the one and done players, something needs to change and so I am okay with dropping the rule.  If NBA teams want to draft high school players, fine.  But that leads me into my next change.

*Develop the baseball system.  What do I mean by that?  In baseball a player can declare for the draft out of high school or he can choose to go to college.  If he chooses to go to college, he has to stay there at least three years.  I would implement that system for basketball.  No more John Walls or Derrick Roses or Kyrie Irvings.  If you want to go to college, you go for three years minimum.  At least try to get a degree.  If you want to go straight to the pros fine.  That also means a more developed minor league system.  I would fully develop and fund the NBA D-League and expand it to 30 teams.  That way each NBA franchise would have one team that could funnel players to and from.  Those drafted out of high school would have to spend a minimum of one year in the D-League.  If they're good enough to be a one and done in the D-League great.  Otherwise, they're getting developed and not taking a roster spot from a veteran and just sitting on the bench (like a lot of guys drafted out of HS were like towards the end of that era of drafting HS players).  If it works for MLB and college for baseball, I think it can work for the NBA and college for basketball.

*Have 4 nights each month called "family nights".  That would mean prices from seats to concessions would be set at affordable prices so that a family of 4 could sit in really good seats and watch a game and not stuck in the nosebleed sections.  The franchises can make more than enough money the rest of the season that it wouldn't hurt them to have these kind of nights and would help develop the fanbase so that everyone could enjoy the games.

*Have stars competing in the Slam Dunk contest at All-Star Weekend again.  The fact that LeBron James has never competed in an All-Star game is ridiculous.  He would compete at least once.  If you're considered a superstar, you should compete in the Slam Dunk contest.  All the greats back in the day did, it should be the same for today.

Well that's the first (in hopefully a continued) series on "If I were in charge of...".  If you have changes that you would make if you were in charge of the NBA, feel free to leave a comment below.