Trying something new this Friday – I may keep doing it or it might just be a one time thing. We’ll see.
Every week I look for headlines to give me ideas for a blog post. There are usually several that I want to write about, but I don’t think I can write an entire article about them. So this Friday, I’m going to give you four headlines from this week that I found interesting/entertaining/maddening but weren’t quite big enough for their own post (and one of them isn’t even sports related!).
This story was simultaneously the saddest and most predictable of the week. The Florida Marlins are moving an entire interleague series from their home Sun Life Stadium to Safeco Field in Seattle because of a U2 concert. The Marlins will still be the “home team” and pitchers will bat.
Sadly, as a financial matter, it’s not even a particularly close call. Last season, the Marlins’ one home interleague series in June (against the Rangers) drew about 46,000 combined for three games. Their average ticket price is $17.
Sun Life Stadium can hold just over 75,000. The U2 concert is sold out, and ticket prices start at $50. Without even factoring in concessions and parking, the U2 concert will make over five times as much as the entire series. I’m not sure how much money goes where, but it looks like an easy decision.
I lived in Miami for a year. It’s a strange town when it comes to sports. Most multi-sport cities have a “second-class citizen” among their sports teams. Up here in Minneapolis, it’s the NBA Timberwolves. The pecking order here goes: Vikings, Twins, Wild, Gopher hockey, Gopher football, Gopher basketball, probably a few women’s club soccer teams, and then the Timberwolves. I’m not sure if this is good, bad, or inevitable, but it just is.
Miami is different. It’s really a no-sports town. There is just too much else going on for people to care about sports, both because of the fun stuff to do on South Beach and the fairly isolated ethnic communities that all have their own stuff going on. Sun Life Stadium is located 15 miles outside of downtown – if people are going to leave the party/beach scene of Miami Beach and South Beach, it better be for a good reason. Like going to a U2 concert. Watching your not-very good home team play a midseason game against an even worse team located 3,500 miles away does not qualify as a good reason.
I think the downtown stadium opening in 2012 will help. After all, it seems beyond logical that the stadium should be near public transportation for the Dominican and Cuban communities. Those two communities should be two of the Marlins’ main target audiences, but public transportation to Miami Gardens is impossible. It won’t solve the whole problem though. Eventually sports leagues will figure out that teams in Miami are always destined to fail (unless they get two of the three most popular stars in the league to join forces).
The best part of the article: the U2 concert is on June 29. The Marlins series was between June 24-26. How big of an ego does Bono have? Three full days isn’t enough to prepare for a U2 concert? That better be one earth-shattering show.
I love this story. 18-8 Plano West faced off against the #12 ranked team in the nation, 26-1 Edward S. Marcus High School. After Marcus beat them by 13 earlier in the season, Plano West resorted to stall tactics to extend the game and actually had a shot to win in regulation and the first overtime before Marcus finally pulled away in triple overtime.
This is brilliant. Sure, many people will call this unsportsmanlike and skirting the rules of the game. But Marcus is obviously far more talented. Plano West cannot beat them straight up and there is no shot clock in high school basketball. The stall method gave them the best chance to win the game.
The stall reminded me of an article I read by Malcolm Gladwell in The New Yorker about a year ago. He wrote about one of the most successful girls’ youth coaches in the city. The other coaches hated this guy because he employed a full-court press. This coach thought the other coaches were crazy because they were inefficiently only defending half of the court. And on and on it went.
Unwritten rules have never made much sense to me. Just win baby!
These stories pop up once every month or so in high school basketball. They all follow the same framework. Team A is one of the best teams in the state and is made up of players who presumably came from an East German steroid factory. Team B has six total players, only one of whom had ever touched a basketball before the season. Team A destroys Team B by a ridiculous amount. Unnamed people are outraged at A running up the score. Team A pleads innocence because they didn’t mean to score so much and A’s coach feels bad because he’s been on the other side before. Team B is proud of his players for never giving up.
This story is basically the same. Team A is Utah’s Christian Heritage High and Team B is West Ridge Academy. Christian Heritage won 108-3, though they did slow up in the fourth quarter – they were up 84-0 after three. Pretty much all the checkmarks above are touched on in the story.
Christian Heritage’s coach had this to say: “I have been on the other side of this equation. It was very insulting when teams slowed the ball down and just passed it around. That’s why I’d rather have a team play me straight up, and that’s why I played them straight up.” Granted, there is a lot of disparity in high school sports. I still call BS here. Pretty sure that a coach with a team good enough to beat any team by 105 has never been on the opposite side of the equation. There’s not 210 points of disparity in Utah high school girls’ basketball. Just a hunch.
There were also the requisite “never giving up” quotes. Again, I’ll go ahead and call BS. Sure it makes for a feel-good story and all, but have these reporters ever met a high school kid? Maybe West Ridge’s players are the strongest high schoolers in the country. But how many 16-year olds are still giving their fullest down by 100 points?
Now I expect all the reporting to go down in this fashion. Most reporters don’t have the low readership that I have. They can’t afford to be as crude and insensitive as me, lest some obscure parent group call for their firing.
My real question is who are these unnamed people that are actually outraged by this? Judging by their website, it’s not West Ridge Academy – they are loving the national attention. I feel like this is one of those things that the media assumes that we are upset about, but no one really cares all that much. Let’s be honest: it’s not like the underdogs are ever in contention to win these games. In the big scheme of things, what’s different between a 108-3 beatdown and, say, a 99-12 beatdown?
And, no, this isn’t one of those life lesson things that observers like to attribute to these types of games. The only life lesson is if you’re not that good at basketball, you might get beat by a lot of points.
I also have a theory that which whoopings the media gets upset about are based on artificial lines we draw on scores. The winning team needs to hit triple digits and/or the losing team needs to not reach double digits. The 99-12 score above wouldn’t have made headlines and no one would have been outraged (at least not the national news).
So I guess I found this article interesting, but my main thought is who really cares? I assume the only people that do are insufferable parent groups, which brings me to my fourth, non-sports article…
You’ve probably heard of the Parents Television Council. They are the fine folks that pop up and cry foul every time a butt cheek pops up on television. They also have nearly 1,400 Twitter followers so you may know them from that.
PETA certainly gets the award for “group that I agree with, but their methods are so out of control that I want that cat to get stepped on.” But the PTC isn’t far behind. I don’t intend on ever watching this Skins show. I’m a never-say-never kinda guy, but I’d put the odds of me ever seeing a part of this show at somewhere well below 1%. From what I’ve heard, the show portrays a lot of sex among teenagers.
I generally don’t really care what’s on TV. Still, I suppose I could get on board with taking said show off the air – that’s probably not the type of thing pre-teens need to have access to. But then the PTC proclaims this “child porn.” Child porn is an extremely serious allegation…whatever the show is, it’s not child porn. Now I want the show to stay on just to spite the PTC.
Don’t worry: that’s the end of my non-sports rant. Give me credit for keeping it to three paragraphs.