Monday, January 09, 2012

The Least Entertaining Postseason in Sports

I could go on and on about how sketchy and stupid college football's bowl system is. I could point out what's been pointed out a billion times and say "we need a playoff." And I think I might start writing a book on the tyranny of the bowls and how they unjustly control college football's postseason. In this little article though, I'm just going to point out a simple fact:

College football's postseason is the least entertaining of all postseasons in major sports.

The Stanley Cup playoffs are amazing. I'm not much of a basketball fan but the NBA playoffs usually draw me in for a weeks. March Madness might be my favorite sporting event of the year. MLB playoff games are tense and pressure filled. And the NFL playoffs are thrilling.

There's something about earning the right to extend a season. There's something special about hockey in June, baseball in October, and football in February. And there's something even more special about teams fighting tooth and nail for that right to play one more game.

Compare that to bowl games. Which can sometimes be entertaining to watch. But then the victors' season is over. Just as over as the team they beat. There's nothing more to win than a trophy and a t-shirt. There's no survival, no advancement to next week's round.

Imagine if last night's Broncos/Steelers game were a bowl game. It would have still been fun to watch. But without anything more than a trophy awarded to the winner, it's not nearly as exciting as a playoff win. We'd forget all about it in a few weeks as the #1 Packers played the #2 Patriots for the national title. While the Saints played in the Rose Bowl and the Broncos played in the Meineke Car Care Bowl.

We've seen some entertaining bowl games. And tonight's might also be fun to watch. But how much more fun would it be to see the winner of tonight's game play Oklahoma State? How about Stanford playing Boise State? How much more enjoyable would the previous bowls been if the winner won the right to survive for another week?

College football might have the most exciting regular season of all sports. But it's postseason is the least entertaining.

Tebow's Coming to Foxborough

The Broncos beat a depleted Steelers team last night in dramatic fashion. The first ever overtime of "each team gets a possession, unless..." ended with the unless part coming true. And now the 4th seeded 8-8 Broncos are coming to Foxborough to play Saturday night.

This is the best possible matchup for the Patriots. And while we shouldn't underestimate Denver, and the Pats obviously have to execute in order to win this game, the Broncos are who they are. They lost 8 games. They backed into the playoffs. They were thoroughly beaten when the Pats went to Denver.

I do have to say that the Broncos' offensive scheme has improved. They're getting better at putting Tebow in no-decision situations. Like throwing deep. He doesn't have to worry about finding the open man or going through progressions. The decision has already been made for him by the structure of the play.

Another interesting storyline of this game is that Josh McDaniels, the man who drafted Tebow as head coach of the Broncos, will be working for the Patriots as a newly hired offensive assistant.

It's almost worth the endless, insufferable Tebow ball-washing that will be all over ESPN this week.

Proud to be a Bruins Fan

Even if the Canucks had won Cup last year, I'd much rather be a Bruins fan than a Canucks fan. I feel kind of bad for the fans of Vancouver, having to root for the likes of Roberto Luongo, Maxim Lapierre, Dale Weise, Alex Burrows, et cetera. A goalie who doesn't want to play in goal. A coward. A guy who skates away from a fight. A fiend. It must kind of suck to have to support the likes of these characters.

There were two games on Saturday afternoon. There was the game when Vancouver was on the Power Play, which the Canucks won 4-0. And there was the game when they weren't. Which the Bruins won 3-0. There were 107 penalty minutes issued and 18 Power Plays for both teams. 13:34 of this game was played with the Canucks having at least one man advantage.

To be fair to the refs, this was a hard game to officiate. These teams do not like each other. And the refs called the game tight for both teams. And the refs did a good job not allowing Dale Weise to get away with goading Shawn Thornton into dropping the gloves then not fighting.

Unfortunately, the refs were a bit inconsistent. Some hits and stickwork was called for 2 minutes. Some wasn't. Some calls confused me. Seguin's tripping call, Krejci's goaltender interference, the 3rd period holding penalty on Alexander Edler. And why was it that Alex Burrows waves the blade of his stick at Thornton's eyes, the lines brawl, and somehow the Bruins emerge down 2 men?

The officials' inconsistency favored both teams at timse. And credit must be given to Vancouver for their special teams' play. Their Power Play won them the game. And the Bruins' lack of a Power Play cost the B's the game. The Bruins had 7 chances with a man advantage. And failed each time.

I actually think the PP slowed down the Bruins' momentum at times. They were attacking in the middle of the 2nd, for instance, then drew a penalty, then played a static, undramatic, uninspired two minutes of 5 on 4, then drifted through the rest of the 2nd.

This game was weird. It was emotional. It was rarely 5 on 5. Vancouver won, fair and square. But if this were Game 1 of a 7 game series, I'd like the Bruins chances to win.

There may be future ramifications for the Bruins. The NHL rescinded Lucic's game misconduct, which was a correct call. Lucic didn't climb over the boards, he was still on the ice in the middle of a line change, as were several Canucks.

Marchand has a hearing with the NHL today. And I don't think he'll just be fined. His clipping penalty was a good call. He's claiming that he was trying to protect himself but it didn't seem that way. The hit was dirty. And unnecessary/stupid. The refs had been calling EVERY infraction up to that point so it was stupid for Marchand to risk giving Vancouver another power play.

Marchand has already been fined this year. He was suspended last season. He has a reputation that's growing more and more infamous. I think he should be suspended, and will be. For 2 games, I'd say.

Vancouver won a game. Good for them. And good luck in the playoffs when half the penalties called on Saturday won't be called. And good luck in the playoffs with a star goalie who doesn't demand to play in big games like this one.

The Bruins stand up for their teammates. They have goalies who crave big games. They have fighters, not talkers. They didn't get a win on Saturday, but they can and should be happy that they are much better than the Canucks, and not just at hockey.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo