You Won’t Get That Sort of Passion in the WAC

Posted in College Spurts, Gridiron at 11:15 pm by

(CSTB is pleased to report that no Missoula business has proposed anything similar for this week’s game against the North Dakota Fighting Sioux.)

Having apparently picked up Denver, UT-San Antonio and Southwest Texas State, the Western Athletic Conference is now waiting on FCS power the University of Montana.

The Missoulian’s Chelsi Moy reports the Griz have received special dispensation to continue playing annual games against in-state Big Sky rival Montana State, though it seems to me said rivalry will merely become a stage on which the lower-level school enjoys reflected glory and an every-ten-years upset, while doing nothing for the Griz’s strength-of-schedule (like, imagine if Oregon had an annual game with Portland State).

It would be exciting for the program, but would also change the local college sports experience. Right now the Griz and Cats are everything around these parts; most Saturdays Montana’s ABC and CBS affiliates pre-empt the likes of Texas-UCLA and Florida-Tennessee to show the in-state games. Montana’s history and success is as a national power at its level; I’m not sure going 7-4 against Louisiana Tech and Texas State while playing big games on a Friday night will have the same cache.

It’s ironic, really, that a bunch of teams are gonna leave behind the very thing that most people in college football claim to want (playoffs) so they can play in the uDrove Humanitarian or Kraft Fight Hunger bowl. On the other hand, what alumnus wouldn’t like a trip to Hawaii every other season?

(Update: Score one for the little guy: Montana’s staying in the FCS).

Elite NHL Athlete To Finally Feel the Pain of Being Last Guy Picked

Posted in Hockey, Sports TV at 3:13 pm by

The National Hockey League has figured out a way to stir up interest in its 2011 All-Star Weekend; unfortunately, it won’t be for the game itself, but rather, team selection day on Friday.

Following a fan vote for the top six players in the league (three forwards, two defencemen and a goalie, regardless of which conference they play in) the NHL Hockey Operations Department will name 36 more players. That’s when things get weird:

¢ After the 42 NHL All-Stars have been selected, two captains will be chosen per team by the players.

¢ On Friday, January 28, 2011, a draft event will be held in Raleigh with all 54 NHL players (42 All-Stars and 12 rookies) during which the captains will draft the remaining members of their respective teams.

¢ First selection in the draft will be determined by coin flip and selections will continue on an alternating basis.

¢ Each team will be required to select three goalies, six defensemen and 12 forwards in any order they choose.

Seems to me that it would be a lot more entertaining if this happened right before the game, in true pick-up/shinny style. There’s nothing all that interesting about, say, Anaheim’s Bobby Ryan and Philadelphia’s Mike Richards being All-Star teammates. In fact, it’s more interesting (albeit only marginally so) to see hated conference and division rivals play together.

But to watch, say All-Star captain Sidney Crosby point at Richards, or pass up a Penguins teammate for a member of the Capitals? That should be good for at least 20 minutes of entertainment (which is 20 minutes more than any All-Star Game), and would be more so if it didn’t happen in a draft/press conference environment.

(Info via Puck Daddy.)

(Update: Eric McErlain, then of Fanhouse, foresaw it all.)


Today’s Five “Most Read” Stories at the Dallas Morning News

Posted in Gridiron, Sports Journalism at 11:53 pm by

One of these things is not like the other…. or is it?

Taylor: Cowboys are NFL’s most pathetic team; time to fire Wade

Man jumps off High Five interchange in North Dallas

Wade Phillips fired as head coach of the Dallas Cowboys

Taylor: Cowboys ‘seem to have little regard’ for Jason Garrett as next head coach

Cowlishaw: Cowboys fans need to stop showing up if they want Jerry Jones’ attention


Votto’s All-Star Shot: In Which This Phillies Phan/Cincinnati Magazine Writer Gave Charlie Too Much Credit

Posted in Baseball, Sports Journalism at 12:54 am by


The Reds arrive in Philadelphia tomorrow, by which point Joey Votto ought to be an all-star, thereby tripling the number of times announcers in both cities (and on Sportscenter) will say something about him sticking it to Phillies/NL skipper Charlie Manuel every time he gets a hit (perhaps they’ll also keep a Votto vs. Howard HR count, though the way things have been going for the Phillies this past month,Wilson “GIDP” Valdez is more likely to go yard).

Anyway, I’ve got an interview with Votto in the upcoming (August) issue of Cincinnati Magazine, which will include his thoughts on Albert Pujols (“I get a chance to watch one of the greatest offensive players of all time. Just because it will be just about impossible to ever get a starting spot in the All-Star Game…) and the fact that his DL stint may have kept him out of last year’s game (though given what just happened this year, who knows?).

And then there’s this little exchange, which won’t be in the magazine.

ME: I’ll say it, you don’t have to say it, but I can’t see Charlie Manuel picking his own guy, Ryan Howard, over you this year.

VOTTO: He had a really good game yesterday (June 18th). There’s another month or so. We’ve got plenty of time.


Nitpicking At My Former Texas Hockey Beat

Posted in Hockey, Sports Journalism at 1:56 am by

The Texas Stars got off to a remarkable start in the Calder Cup final, winning two games on the road against defending champion Hershey for a 2-0 series lead.

Unfortunately, they’ve now done something equally remarkable by dropping three straight home games (even at the highest level of the minors, teams cannot afford to play a 2-2-1-1-1 series).

The Austin American-Statesman‘s Avery Holton writes:

Hershey holds a 3-2 series lead and is a win away from becoming just the third team in league history to rebound from an 0-2 deficit in the title round….

And Texas knows a thing or two about coming up big on the road. They’ve closed out each of three postseason series away from home, including a 4-2 victory at Hamilton in Game 7 of the conference finals.

They now have to go a step further and win two on the road to claim the first professional hockey title of any kind in the history of the Austin area. The now-defunct Austin Ice Bats never reached the summit of the Western Professional Hockey League or the East Coast Hockey League, but the Central Texas Stampede did nab the WPHL crown for Belton in 2000.

Now, my first reaction when I read that, is it’s tenuous for Austin’s newspaper to even bring up the Stampede. I’m sure the Williamson County-based Stars do draw fans from the Belton/Killeen/Temple area (some of whom I’m certain I know personally), but hey, let the Temple Daily Telegram worry about that.

Then I realized that the sentence had a bigger problem: the Shreveport Mudbugs beat the Stampede for the 2000 WPHL crown. The Stampede merely won the Governor’s Cup for best regular season record – as did the Ice Bats in 2003.

And what’s up with the reference to the East Coast Hockey League? It’s certainly true the Ice Bats never reached the ECHL summit, since they were never a member of that circuit (presumably he meant the Central Hockey League, which still has five teams in Texas).

Now, I know mistakes get made on deadline all the time, especially with an OT game. I’ve made them myself (and not just writing about hockey). It’s just that they get printed that much more when it’s an oft-neglected beat. If I accidentally confused Kris Brown with Phil Dawson in an article about Texas football, there’d be half a dozen editors (maybe even Texas Exes) there to bail me out. But with hockey, the fact that no one knows can sometimes feel like no one cares.

And at this point in sports media, it’s basically a self-fulfilling prophecy. Playoff final sell-outs and the sudden appearance of Cedric Golden aside, there still aren’t enough Austin hockey fans reading the newspaper to justify a full-time beat writer (and yes, I certainly wish such a job existed so I could have said job), but now there never will be, ’cause they’ll stick to blogs and message boards and Twitter.


Which Might Well Be How I’d Feel About “Are We Winning?”

Posted in Hockey, Will Leitch Sucks at 11:02 pm by

I tweet too much and post too little to do what GC is doing, but, as promised: From the Twitter of one @williamfleitch.

Playoff hockey is unbearably intense. So much so that it’s almost not enjoyable. Almost.

Least disappointing Flyers playoff loss of my adult life, incidentally. Bad as Game 5 was, and weird as this one ended, not stealing Game 1 or Game 2 is when the series really got away from them.


ESPN Chicago on the Flyers: “We’re Not So Smart”

Posted in Blogged Down, Hockey at 5:05 am by

(Member of a Brooklyn rock band, or Finnish hockey player?)

I guess ESPN’s foray into local markets also means publishing old-fashioned homer trash-talk, not that I am anything other than amused. From ESPN Chicago’s Jon Greenberg.

Sure, mathematical probability was, and still is, against the Flyers, but does this team look like it is book smart? If you asked half the Flyers what comes after two, they’d probably say “cat.”

Oh, c’mon now – you can say that sort of thing about Daniel Carcillo if you must, but Chris Pronger is obviously bright. His press conference skills are almost Ari Fleischer-esque.

Anyway, having watched Game 1 in non-HD while parked in a recreational vehicle in Coeur D’Alene, ID, and then just a little more than half of Game 2 thanks to the largesse of a fellow sports fan (though not Flyers fan) and band manager at Sasquatch!, I couldn’t have enjoyed being at home to watch Game 3 any more, and am still smiling about it. Overtime! First Flyers win in a Cup final game since 1987! Scott Hartnell: best pass ever! Plus he bears a disturbing resemblance to Mick Hucknall! (lose the ponytail, Hartsy). Ville Leino, the new John Druce!

Of course, until they win Game 4, I don’t really expect the Flyers to win the Stanley Cup, but I haven’t expected them to win a round all spring, so hey, whatever works. Plus it’s a good time to pretend the Phillies don’t exist.