This could be thought of two ways – the NHL has reached the 80th percentile on their way through the regular season… or the NHL is really playing at about 80% overall right now.
In truth, it’s both.
This article was all set to run Monday morning… as in Monday the 19th of April. Sunday the 18th was supposed to be Colorado Avalanche game number 45, the benchmark for roughly 80% through the regular season.
It’s October, something unfamiliar to the Detroit Tigers. The last time they won a playoff series was the 1984 World Series, twenty-two years in the rear view mirror. They’ve already won one this year taking three straight games over the dreaded Yankees after dropping the first. Tonight, they could sweep the perennial postseason participant Athletics. The game is tied at three as it turns to the bottom of the ninth. The first two Tiger batters went down quickly, Marcus Thames on a flyball to center and Curtis Granderson, in his first full season, on a liner to right. Craig Monroe singles. Placido Polanco follows suit. The pennant-clinching runner is in scoring position. In steps Magglio Ordoñez, the ten-year veteran from Venezuela. His opponent is the 2005 Rookie of the Year, Huston Street. They had only met twice before, the first time back on July 4th of the current year, when Street got Ordoñez to strike out swinging on four pitches. The second, three days earlier that ended in a groundout. But every at bat is another chance to undo a previous mistake. Comerica Field is shaking in anticipation of a World Series berth. Magglio steps into the batter’s box, grinds his front cleat against the dirt to get a strong foothold. Street gets the sign, winds and delivers.
It’s a clear, cool night in Anaheim. The season is not yet a week old, and trends from the prior year linger like cirrocumulus clouds dotting the sky just west of the ballpark. The Seattle Mariners have lost four of their first five games. They’ll lose this one too, despite beginning the game with a pair of runs off of Angels’ pitcher Ricky Nolasco. It’s April 8th, 2017. The Mariners’ starter is Felix Hernandez, King Felix to the Seattle faithful. He’s in the twilight of a career that included a Cy Young award, a perfect game, and not a single start in the postseason. Hernandez gets Angel hitters Yunel Escobar and Kole Calhoun to ground out to start the bottom half of the first inning. Into the box steps the best player on Earth. His name is Michael Nelson Trout, Mike for short, and he’s the reason many people are watching this game.
It wasn’t supposed to end the way it did. It seemed like an institution, but in the grand scheme of the wrestling industry, it was more of a comet that shone brightly through the night sky of the industry, and flamed out just as spectacularly, imploding into itself like a neutron star. They filled some of the biggest venues in the country. Every week, millions of wrestling obsessed fans watched them. They even wrestled in North Korea.
And then it all ended, at spring break in front of drunken revelors in Daytona Beach of all places.
The Avalanche finally reached the 50% mark, actually a game over as they dominated the Wild yesterday afternoon with a 6-0 victory. Yes it is half the season – even if the Stars have only played 26 games and a few teams are at game 34. The Stars are in Dallas which is in Texas which believes COVID is a Democratic conspiracy done in conjunction with China.
Halftime. You sure? Those of who are observant of hockey, there is no halftime in a game. I once took a date to a Blackhawks game and at the end of the first period, she asked me “Is it halftime?” In hindsight it would have been easy to explain to her the game is divided up in thirds, but I just stared at her. Thusly the conversation went as such: “Is this halftime?”
“It is, right? Let’s go get snacks.”
“Actually, it’s the end of the first period. There is no halftime in hockey.”
“You’re an asshole.”
Couldn’t blame her. The stare was a little harsh. But the date was not going well anyway. Let’s move along, much as I did after that date.
When I say that I love basketball, I say it with all of the conviction that Senator Sheev Palpatine claims to love democracy. Basketball, most basketball played, is just a means to an end. That end being the NBA, where the game is played at its highest level. Still, there is an undeniable charm and magic to the amateur game, especially here in Indiana. For the better part of the 20th Century, Indiana held a massive, all-inclusive high school tournament called Hoosier Hysteria. It meant that teams from around Indianapolis, Terre Haute, and Chicago burbs (aka The Region) could play against teams from towns with populations smaller than the aforementioned schools’ graduation classes. It was something special, but for the last quarter-century it has been absent, reformed as tournaments for each separate class of schools. This year, all 67 games of the NCAA’s signature event will be played in the state of Indiana. In some way, for at least one year, the Hysteria has returned.
There may have been a better title for this, but I’m not going to spend a crap-ton of time mulling that over. I’m not a headline writer nor do I have one at my disposal.
Do I think my kids hate sports? Hate is such a strong word, but I’m sure they do not appreciate them like I do. In fact, I’m not sure within the past 30 or so years of two wives, two different families and my own family anyone likes sports as much as I do. I spent a considerable amount of time watching football by myself at various Thanksgivings. Of course, my first marriage was into a family of scholars and scientists and for Thanksgiving they brought out flow charts and graphs about their latest work (I’m not kidding). Brilliant people, but criminy it’s Thanksgiving. As such, the TV became my friend… but not the Lions, never the Lions.
Okay, the only person who ever had the same zeal for sports that I have was my father. That’s where I got it from. Whatever team I wanted to win; he’d want the other. That was the nature of our relationship. He was certainly athletic, one of those multi-sport high school stars who ran roughshod over his opponents. He was good. Country good as he grew up on a farm, but not Jerry Sloan country good. That’s a far higher level.
Back to my kids. They were treated to a ton of games as they grew up. I was in advertising, and one of my clients for five years was WSCR The Score. So yeah, we went to a lot of games. While my fandom was certainly sated, I think I completely overwhelmed them.
But they played sports. Not as much as I did. I had something to prove – that I could beat my dad in basketball. Even though baseball was my favorite sport, it’s too hard to beat another individual at it and frankly he was a better hitter than I. No, I picked basketball. It took a lot of effort, and finally when I was 14 or so I beat him at HORSE. I know it hurt him as he was not the best at sportsmanship. Pretty sure he accused me of cheating. But that was normal. Accusations of cheating caused us to stop playing cards and board games when I was growing up. I was 9 when we stopped.
It’s spring training and all the teams are out there getting prepped for the six months of regular season ahead of them. Baseball, since its season is so long, is a weird sport and team fortunes can change pretty quickly. However, I am not going out on a very long limb by stating this could possibly be the most lopsided season we’ve seen for a long time. The disparity between awesomeness and sorry-ass, to me, has never been wider.
For some teams the season will be far longer than they want. As such let’s start in reverse, like a spinning bunt that hits fair but slowly trickles right over the foul line to ultimately just be a strike… or in these collective teams’ cases, an out.
The ‘Keep your Bats in the Rack” Group
Colorado Rockies – they traded their best player, Nolan Arenado, to the Cardinals for a sack of seeds that no matter good the soil is and how carefully they water, will never germinate to anything of substance. They will be so bad that if California slides into the ocean, the Rockies still won’t win the NL West. They’re destined to be bad for a minimum of 5 years. Are there other teams worse than the Rockies? I believe yes, at least two.
With the way the internet has been losing it’s mind over the NFL hot stove season for the past few seasons, you could be forgiven if I didn’t jump feet first into the rumors of Russell Wilson wanting to be traded this morning. The Athletic wrote an amazing piece about the growing rift between Russell Wilson and the powers that be in Seattle that came out today. What the article didn’t do was make it abundantly clear that Wilson wanted out of the Seahawks organization. The two notable people discussing him wanting to be traded were Brandon Marshall, who played all of seven games in Seattle at the end of his career, and noted rumor-maker-upper Jason La Confora. The CBS Sports “Insider” is notable mostly for being wrong.
Then Adam Schefter, someone worth paying attention to, dropped a bomb on all of us this afternoon.
Football rumor mongering is big business. It draws eyes to the twitter accounts of access merchants desperate to be the first person to break a story. It brings clicks to websites that are all too willing to write anything and post it online for the sake of views. It also acts as a tool of misinformation from professional teams, all too happy to use the blue check marked retweet whores to push out rumors for their own gain.
To whit, after multiple weeks of vague insinuations and loose accompaniment, Carson Wentz was traded to the Indianapolis Colts for a 3rd round pick this year, and a 2nd round pick next year which can be upgraded to a first. This after multiple reports over the past week that the Colts were not really interested. This after multiple reports over the past week that the Bears were the front runner. This after multiple reports over the past week that there were no real suitors for Wentz. This after multiple reports over the past week that the Eagles wanted multiple first round picks for their quarterback. This after multiple reports blah blah blah blah blah.