Contents tagged with Sports

  • 4 things wrong with college football today

    I used the following topics for part of my "5-in-5" segment of my sports show where I debate the hottest topics in national sports. This is my favorite time of year, when America's new pastime is in its full glory. Forget baseball - football's been the national game for years, and everyone knows it. The most menial play in a gridiron highlight reel is typically more awe-inspiring than what would be considered phenomenal feats of athleticism on the diamond.

  • Flag-planting in Ann Arbor...ouch

    There was much ado about the Spartans after they planted the Michigan State flag in South bend after dethroning the then-undefeated Fightin' Irish.  Here's a painful shot of Minnesota's Laurence Maroney doing the same at midfield in the Big House after taking out the Wolverines.

    ESPN guys were panning the practice, but I say let it go.  This really hurt a UM fan like me to see, but the players certainly earn it.  People are worried about injury?  How about potentially thousands of kids ripping down a goal post?

    Whiel I'm at it, the NCAA really needs to re-think the "excessive celebration" rule, without doubt the dumbest penalty ever created in sports.  Don't get me wrong, I'm all in favor of banning the practice of crotch-grabbing and throat slashing, but let players celebrate achievement.

  • Farewell, Little Brown Jug...

    My Michigan Wolverines lost to the Golden Gophers of Minnesota 23-20 on a last-second field goal to give up possession of The Little Brown Jug for the first time since 1986 (see this excellent Flickr photostream by Boston Fan in Michigan).  Geez. 

    With 3 losses and a 3-3 record (2-2 Big Ten), the hopes of locking-down the conference title are bleak (although Ohio State did drop a game to a very impressive Penn State squad, and Northwestern shocked Wisconsin), and it's probably safe to say the Rose Bowl's out of the picture, too.  The best we can hope for now is to win out the remaining 5 games...including the Buckeyes at the Big House for the season finale.

    Go Blue.

  • Chicago podcasters sought for on-demand network sports shows

    The Chicago Sportscast Network is soliciting new podcasters to become frequent audio-on-demand contributors to sports programming for the Bears, Blackhawks, White Sox and Bulls.  The intent would be to give podcasters a break in the mainstream broadcasting market, production support from the network (meaning interviews, attending press conferences, media credentials, etc.), while retaining total creative control of their show. 

    Curiously, nothing mentioned about covering the Cubs...could this be a southside-only thing?

  • My (virtual) college football season blog

    In addition to all of the sportswriting I'm normally doing for the real-life college football action, I'm going to blog about my virtual college football season - in a video game.  Passing through Blockbuster tonight my eye caught a copy of EA Sports' NCAA 06 Football, which I haven't got yet - available for the clearance price of $16.99.  Done.

    I've owned or have heavily played most of the EA Sports college football titles since the days when Tommie Frazier and Nebraska's option-laden offense ruled.  Tradionally there have been the constants (1) I play the whole season out, (2) I always play as Michigan, (3) I embarrass what is otherwise a dominant football program.  The team's 2005 schedule has us at home for the first two games (the second against Notre Dame, which IRL they lost), and the on the road against 'Sconsin and Michigan State, and then some other Big Ten games...until the season capper in the Big House against Ohio State. 

    I've yet to play, but if the game holds true to the pre-season rankings, UM should be around #5, with OSU around #7.  I'm going to play frantically this weekend to catch-up to the real world Week 6 schedule, and the keep pace. 

    I'll blog about it as I go along...Go Blue!

  • Hey, console game developers: we need more indoor volleyball titles!

    One thing that's bummed me out about console gaming has been the total lack of indoor volleyball titles in the PS2/XBox reign.  Beach vball titles will continues to thrive, especially now that we're able to integrate what's essentially softcore porn into the gameplay.  But I'm a purist...I gots to have my complex offensive plays. 


      We had a few with the old Sega Genesis (6 players that air-humped), the original 16-bit Nintendo had Kings of the Beach, Super NES rocked a couple like the excellent Power Spikes Beach Volleyball, and GameBoy had a beach game that was nice.  But rhe best game ever was Dig & Spike Volleyball by Hudson Soft, which featured loose translations of the teams that competed in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, including the infamous "volleybald" Team USA with middle blockr Bob Samuelson.  The crowd even cheered "Nippon...Nippon!" every time Japan had the serve.  The gameplay was accurate, simple, and amazing.  There hasn't been a title since that captured the essence and excitement of the indoor game since.  The funny thing is that title also featured a sweet-ass training mode to perfect timing for quick sets, combinations and shoot sets to the outside, and 2-on-2 beach competition, the latter of which I never played.  The indoor action was too hot.

    I realize that it's not the most popular or profitable sport, but with NFL, NBA, golf, fishing, and ehll, even bowling titles in perpetuity, someone do my beloved sport some justice and put one out.  Please???

  • Controlling the Heat in Miami this NBA season

    The Miami Heat's practices should be better this upcoming season than many other team's regular season games.  Several off-season acquisitions, specifically from the Celtics and Grizzlies, make the Heat scary good in the East.  Stan Van Gundy has a huge task ahead of him in being tasked to architect a starting lineup with a deep bench, and how to effectively corral all that talent into a cohesive, productive unit.

    Even after the loss of the Joneses (veteran Eddie and rising star Damon) this is the most impressive hardcourt assembly on paper since the 2004 Lakers.  Guys so good even non-fans know them by their nicknames:  Diesel.  Zo.  White Chocolate.  'Twoine.  The Glove.  D-Wade.  

    If the team that was one game away from the NBA Finals this past April has any roster concerns, it would be the backcourt.  The Heat is loaded with size with the bench being chock full of quality forwards.  But the Miami guards, outside of Dwayne Wade, whose durability should allow him to set a career high for minutes played, aren't complimented by a pure shooter.  The loss of Damon Jones really sacrifices a deep shooting threat

    Here's my projection:

    C - Shaquille O'Neal
    SG - Dwayne Wade
    PG - Jason Williams
    SF - Antoine Walker
    PF- Udonis Haslem

    PG - Gary Payton
    C/F - Alonzo Mourning
    F - Wayne Simien
    F/G - James Posey
    F/G - Shandon Anderson

  • My new sportstalk TV show premiered

    There's truly no business like show business.  I spent the latter part of last weekend feverishly researching & writing the new weekly 30-minute sportstalk TV show that I developed and I'm producing and co-hosting with Brant McCreadie.  We were taping through the weekend, with final editing today before it debuted this evening on my station's NBC affiliate channel.  It's really a heckuva lot of tedious work, what with booking guests and developing content, but tons of fun, and it's about sports, so it's not really that laborious.  We've got a really cool eclectic sporty set that looks like the inside of a locker room with a ton of props.  ESPN it's not, but it serves it's purpose.  God, I love my job.

    The format is basically/intentionally a lethargic jock and a lanky geek sitting around talking local and national sports (I'll let you figure out who is who).  The personality contrast adds to the hilarity.  The show is half scripted, half improvised, and in a segment based on the latter I made a mistake, referring to Jim Leyland, the former Florida manager who won the Marlins' first World Series, as Jim Lampley, who as well all know is an HBO boxing analyst.  Oops.  I also erred by first referring to my fantasy football tips segment "Fantasy Focus" (which it is) as "Fantasy Factor". Damn.

    The show is basically a TV port of the sportstalk radio show I've been doing for more than a year, with several new segments taking advantage of the visual medium of TV, and a few new interactive features with banter between Brant and I.  You can watch it every Monday @ 5:30pm on KUAM-TV8 in Guam, catch the stream in our archives, or check it our as a podcast.  I'll put up streaming video of the show on my site and on Google Video and as a PSPCast in a few hours (I'm pretty stoked about that).  I'm also working on a wireless content distribution format for mobile phones.

  • Vote for the 1988 USA Men's Volleyball Team as the greatest ever

    The USOC is giving people the chance to vote on who they think are the best teams and individual competitors for induction into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame.  One of the five squads nominated this year for best team is the U.S. Men's Volleyball team, which won gold in the summer games in Seoul, Korea.  I had the VHS tape of these guys that I watched so many times it eventually snapped, and they were beyond awesome.  Even non-fans of the sports thought they were cool to watch.

  • MLB's digital rights and ESPN streaming baseball games live on mobile devices

    I was catching up with my podcast listening on the drive home from work tonight.  I listened to an time-shifted digital audio presentation from last week about the business side of sports (really good podcasts ESPN puts out, despite my earlier assertion).  One of the key concepts discussed was how ESPN was finalizing an arrangement involving digital rights with Major League Baseball - alluding that the network would soon be able to stream entire games over mobile clients, specifically wireless phones.  This is an improvement over the network's previous idea to preload video on mobiles for higher quality.  

    This blew me away.  The ambition and bravado of such a concept is expected from The Worldwide Leader in Sports, but still surprising.  I'm guessing that this would invoke a polar response from a passerby - either exhibiting in a fair-weather observer a very "Wow!  That's totally cool!" or "What are they…nuts?" reaction.  The very notion of expecting users to watch an entire baseball game (or even parts of it) in somewhat captive fashion on a device with a limited screen size and even more limited bandwidth is as preposterous as it is logical.  But in my opinion, nonetheless still really neat.

    Despite living on bandwidth-challenged Guam, where by virtue of geography I can’t go to the ballpark to catch a game anyway, I do find myself spending more and more time watching wireless broadcasts like press conferences, stand-up comedy bits, and music videos on my mobile unit via MobiTV (which is working on streaming of live games, too).  This summer's season is historic: has done wonders with providing live streaming of entire games to the desktop, and many swear by it.

    I realize that there's a certain degree of securing a contract in we'd-just-better-do-it-to-prevent-our-rivals-from-doing-it fashion, and that's fine.  But can streaming live sporting events realistically be a quasi-killer app?  And at least something significantly profitable?  By 2013, will the cost-effective availability of truly massive amounts of pipe, efficient streaming video compression rates, affordable consumer technology and growing dependence on mobile devices and their subsequent applications really make applications of this ilk non-niche?  I think so.

    When you think about it, of the four major professional sports in America, our national pastime is the only real athletic competition we could feasibly stream today.  Basketball, football and hockey are too intense and would lag too much to be worth it, collapsing the respective league's presence in the mobile market faster than did the XFL on NBC.  Baseball's painfully slow pace makes it the perfect candidate for such a live-action webcast (it's not like batters exactly sprint at top speed around the bases after jacking a homerun).  Why do you think - content aside - streaming newscasts always have always done so well?  It's high-quality production value created in part by limited movement.  

    I can't see myself watching an entire nine innings, but having the ability to jump in at any given time is a nice advantage to the platform.  It'll kick ass during the playoffs, or when Barry Bonds steps up to the plate to break Hank Aaron's homer record.  There undoubtedly will be geeks out there who actually spend three hours glued to their mobile screen, incessantly commenting on the coolness factor of seeing a live game on their phone, fans more of the platform than the actual sport.  And I don't know about you, but under long-term use my Motorola V710's battery gets HOT!

    My point isn't to piss on ESPN's parade.  Quite the opposite, in fact - it's to help promote it and shed light on what a landmark achievement this is going to be for broadcast technology.  It's totally a step in the right direction, even though many of us may not immediately warm up to the concept.  I wish ESPN luck, and I can't wait to try the new service, eventually.  

    Even though streaming quality levels will undoubtedly continue to improve to the point of near-TV quality within the next five years, it'll never be the same as seeing a masterful pitcher go to work over the course of a game.  Even the best encoded video stream can't capture the beauty and magic movement of a well-placed slider from a savvy, methodic hurler like Barry Zito, Greg Maddux, Mike Mussina and Tom Glavine; not to mention the impossibility of trying to properly display hellfire deliveries like those of Pedro Martinez, Roger Clemens and Dontrelle Willis, whose velocity we have a hard enough time keeping up with on real-time HDTV via satellite. 

    The progression of platforms from print to radio to TV is indicative of technology's impact improving the quality of life.  I think product developments of ESPN's may result in an overall reduced experience, but the sheer "cool" factor of it will keep it above water, I believe.