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Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

#1,440 – Iso-Cam

Fan of LeBron James but couldn’t care less about the Lakers?  Well, then I’ve got some good news for you.  Soon you’ll be able to watch LeBron and only LeBron during the second half of a game.  Wait.  What?

According to Recode:

“Instead of streaming a full game with all the players, graphics, and announcers, starting in February Twitter will stream the second half of some NBA games — yes, only the second half — but the camera will focus on a single player.

During the first half of the game — the half you can’t watch on Twitter — users on the social network can vote at the @NBAonTNT Twitter account on which player they want the camera to focus on in the second half — the half you can watch on Twitter.

Whichever player ‘wins’ will be the sole focus of the second-half live stream, which the NBA is calling ‘iso-cam.’ If that player goes to the bench or fouls out, Twitter users will see the regular game, but from a camera located behind one of the backboards instead of from the typical mid-court angle.”

It’s an interesting concept, giving Twitter a unique perspective that they can market, perhaps leading to an increase in the number of people who would stream a game on their platform.  Plus it kind of makes sense for the NBA to be doing this considering that they have always marketed their game around individual star players.

But at the same time isn’t it a little bit creepy? Are the players even okay with this?  Will they play worse if they know their every move is going to be analyzed and scrutinized by everyone on Twitter, even more so than usual? Would players have the ability to opt out if they so choose? And will this experiment, if successful, catch on with other sports?  With other celebrities and public figures?  Will we one day watch an entire movie by following just one actor?  Are we really talking about taking voyeurism main-stream?  What has the world come to?

Image result for lebron james steph curry

Is Iso-Cam the Greatest Idea Ever?

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A quick look at a few ideas to improve our national pastime:

Leave the seemingly endless parade of bodies for clown cars instead of bullpens by putting a limit on the number of players that can dress for the game during September call-ups.  In this way, expanded rosters serve as more of a taxi-squad.

Make split second replay decisions.  Why is it that teams are allowed to see an instant replay first before deciding whether or not to challenge, effectively ensuring that all of their challenges will be successful?  That is garbage.  Egregious calls that are overtly objectionable to the naked eye are the only ones that should be allowed to be challenged.

Have an off-season trading deadline.  An idea put forth during the recent General Managers meeting in Las Vegas.  Doing so would give front office executives some much needed time off and also create more of a sense of urgency to get things done during the meetings.

Remove draft pick compensation tied to players.  We see this happen year after year where no one wants to lose a draft pick for signing a player effectively hampering that player’s earning power.  That is not fair to that player.  If they are a free agent signing them should be free, no strings attached.

Change the date of the amateur draft.  The fact that it occurs during the college baseball playoffs is asinine.  Move it to a time when its not a distraction to the players competing for a championship and better yet move it to a time that would allow for those players to attend the draft in person just like every other major sport does.

Eliminate extra inning games during the regular season.  They wreck havoc on a team’s bullpen, ruining their chances to win multiple series, and cost players their spots on the team, when relievers, even effective ones, have to be sent down to make room for fresh arms.  Just allow regular season ties and that all goes away.  Not to mention how much more exciting a rare extra inning post season game would be.

Make all draft picks trade-able.  Currently compensation round picks are the only ones that are trade-able and judging by the frequency by which they get traded teams clearly are okay with the practice of trading picks for equal value.  So why not make all picks trade-able like all of the other major sports?

Forget about banning the shift.  Ban the intentional walk.  Every other sport is specifically designed to allow for a team’s best player to dictate the outcome of the game.  In football the quarterback has the ball in his hands with the game on the line.  In basketball a team’s best player can take as many shots as he wants or at least touch the ball on every possession.  And yet in baseball, we allow for a team’s best player to get intentionally walked and have the bat taken out of his hand.  Imagine paying money to go to one game a year, and that one game that you go to, you don’t even get to see your favorite player swing the bat.  This is unconscionable.

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Are any of these the Greatest Idea Ever?

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I want to be a vampire.  Correction.  I want to be THE vampire.  Not the immortal, suck your blood, afraid of the sun, Twilight vampire that you may be imagining.  But rather the person who won’t get to pick at all in next year’s fantasy football draft.  That’s right.  There’s a new kind of league in the making and it could turn a multi billion dollar industry on its head.

Here’s how a vampire league would work.  One team misses the draft entirely.  That person is the vampire and it could be anyone.  A random victim of fate.  An eager guinea pig.  Or perhaps the person who came in last the year before.

This person would then be tasked with filling out a roster entirely off of the waiver wire.  To make things fair they would also get to keep that #1 waiver priority throughout the entire season as well.  But here’s where things get interesting.  If the vampire team wins they get to swap out any player in your starting lineup with one of their own from the same position.  Suddenly they went from having Jeff Driskel as their starting quarterback to having Aaron Rodgers.

As time goes on and injuries accumulate around the league this vampire team will continue to amass talent thanks to their #1 waiver priority and the increased likelihood that in any given week they could pull off another upset and snag themselves another quality player.  Once the bye weeks kick in and fantasy football becomes even more of a crap shoot then all bets are off.  This vampire team of misfit toys might suddenly become an actual legitimate contender.

Now here’s where things get really interesting.  Since losing to the vampire team could cost you a star player do you risk a loss by benching all of the guys you’d be afraid to lose?  An intriguing strategy. Now all of a sudden its a waiver wire team versus a bunch of bench guys and once again all bets are off.  If faced with that scenario every week the vampire team could even run the table and win the championship without ever stealing a star player.

I for one can’t wait to start a vampire league next year.  After all, winning championships year after year has kind of sucked the fun out of fantasy football for me.  It’s time for a new challenge.  A real challenge.  It’s time to become the vampire!

Image result for vampires twilight

Is a vampire fantasy football league the Greatest Idea Ever?

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By a vote of 6-3, the Supreme Court of the United States has voted to overturn a ban on sports gambling that had existed since 1992, declaring it unconstitutional.

According to CNN, “The court said the federal law violated constitutional principles limiting the federal government from controlling state policy, unconstitutionally forcing states to prohibit sports betting under their own laws.”

The move paves the way for each individual state to decide for themselves if they want to legalize sports betting with it being believed that about thirty two of them will within the next five years.  In fact, New Jersey is raring to go, and could be up and running by the NBA Finals in June, in a move that could save decrepit Atlantic City.  Other states such as Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut are also said to have legislation already in the works in anticipation of this announcement which mirrors a previous ruling in relation to state lotteries.

The ruling is seen as a boon for professional sport leagues as it is widely believed that allowing sports betting will generate significantly more interest from casual fans who will now have a vested interest in the outcome of otherwise meaningless contests.  For proof, look no further than the explosion in popularity of the NFL in recent years, despite numerous off-field incidents, all thanks to fantasy football going mainstream.  Now the NBA and MLB can similarly hope to capitalize on artificial interest to boost ticket sales and TV ratings.  In fact, some team owners are already jumping for joy as there is some speculation that this move has effectively doubled the value of their franchises.

Others are more skeptical of the move.  Especially league officials who will now have to put their own regulations in place to ensure that there is no corruption in their games as the last thing that anybody wants is a situation where an official, umpire, referee, player or coach is on the take to fix the outcome of a game ala Pete Rose and Tim Donaghy.  On the other hand, those same officials might reason that if billions of dollars are already being spent every year illegally in off the book gambling why not legalize the action to profit off of something that’s going to be happening anyway.  The same logic used by proponents of legalizing marijuana.

Considering that I live in Arizona, a state with a Native American casino monopoly that banned DraftKings and FanDuel and which is in close proximity to Las Vegas, it’s likely that sports betting will never be legalized for me.  At least not anytime soon.  But for everyone else?  This decision could have a major impact on their daily lives going forward.  And their bank accounts.  For better or for worse.

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A look at the current state of sports betting in all of the states.

 

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Several new events have been added for the 2018 Winter Olympic games such as mixed doubles curling and mass speed skating.  Meanwhile, the 2020 Summer Olympics will see the return of softball and the addition of karate, wrestling, surfing, skateboarding, and sport climbing.  Those are all great additions but some people are still clamoring for even more events.  People like me.  E-sports! Drone racing! Hiking!?  A guy can dream right?

When it comes to adding hiking to the pantheon on Olympic games you could argue that I’m already getting my wish with sport climbing but that’s not enough to satisfy my hunger.  For I won’t be happy until hiking in of itself gets its just due.  Just think about the possibilities.  Forget about marathon running.  Get some backpackers to hike 15 miles through the Grand Canyon while carrying 35 pound packs.  That’s the ultimate test of endurance and mental toughness and surely an endeavor worthy of commemorating with a gold medal.

Or take it a step further and get rid of Track and Field events like sprinting and hurdling.  More impressive would be 200 meter sprints vertically up a mountain! You could also have team relay events or trail running events and to top it all off a summit challenge, where the best hikers in the world try to hike seven peaks in the same day to see who can do it in the shortest amount of time.

Not only would these events add intrigue and suspense to the Olympic games but they would also open up the games to a whole new demographic, the weekend warriors who are our real everyday champions.

Underrepresented in the Olympiads those athletes have taken refuge in other events.  Appearing in local Spartan Races and Tough Mudders but also in larger scale events like the Iron Man, the Iditarod, and the Nathan’s 4th of July hot dog eating competition.

But it’s time to forget all that.  The Olympics should incorporate all of those competitions and then some.  It should be the end all, be all of human competition.  The one time where the entire world stops, puts aside their petty differences, and unites in the name of sportsmanship to find out once and for all who is the very best in the world at everything.  Literally everything.  Hiking included.

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Is making hiking an Olympic sport the Greatest Idea Ever?

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As fans of the Golden State Warriors continue to celebrate their second championship in the last three years and the start of a dynasty, fans of competitive balance continue to decry the current state of the NBA.  Unfortunately, in a sport so easily dominated by transcended talent (the game’s best player, LeBron James, has gone to the finals seven straights seasons) there’s not much that can be done to prevent dynasties.  Or is there?

I have a radical proposal that could fix the NBA, making it harder for teams lead by star players to dominate.  A proposal that takes me back to my youth basketball days and the Police Athletic League.  Because kids paid to play in this league there were certain playing time restrictions in place.  Coaches couldn’t just play the best players all the time.  All the kids had to play.  At least some of the time.  The best players would still play more but the playing time was at least some what balanced.

The way that it would work was that kids were assigned entire quarters to play.  Let’s say that you had 8 kids on your roster. You’d play five in the first quarter.  The three who sat in the first quarter had to play in the second quarter along with two holdovers.  The kids who played the entire first half would then have to sit out the third quarter.  In theory, no kid could play three quarters before everyone else had played two.  No one could play all four before everyone else had played three.

Teams with the best players might still win but they wouldn’t be able to do so easily.  They’d have to go long stretches (entire quarters) with their best player on the bench allowing the other team a chance to get back into the game.  And they’d have to rely on their entire roster, even their worst player to help them win.  If you had a weak spot you couldn’t hide it on the bench or in limited minutes.  You had to find a way to win in spite of your weak spot or ideally you had to develop your talent to the point where you had no weak spots.

Applying these playing time rules to the NBA might go a long way towards establishing competitive balance.  The Eastern Conference’s most dominant team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, might not even make the finals if LeBron James or Kyrie Irving had to sit out entire quarters.  Perhaps a more well-balanced, star-less team such as the Boston Celtics would have moved on instead.  As for the Warriors just think about the level of intrigue that would swirl around their lineup decisions.  Do they play Kevin Durant and Steph Curry together?  Or do they split them up and built two separate units around them?  In this format the best teams or the teams with the best players wouldn’t necessarily win.  Instead the deepest teams or the teams that are the best strategizers might.

An added benefit of this format is that it would give star players built in rest throughout the season.  You wouldn’t have star players sitting out entire games during back-to-backs, which is currently one of the NBA’s other big issues as marquee prime-time televised matchups can often lack star power.

Obviously this is something that would never happen.  Players and teams are going to want to dictate who plays when.  At the highest level of competition there’s no such thing as fair play.  But that’s okay.  I’m a Warriors fan anyway.  Bring on the dynasty!

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Would playing time limits fix the NBA?

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