Red Sox learn the first rule for naming a ballpark in the Internet age

February 22, 2012

The start of Spring Training is one of my favorite times on the sports calendar because a) it means baseball season is right around the corner and b) it helps distract me from things like this.

If you’ve never experienced the Grapefruit or Cactus leagues, I highly recommend it. At some point, I want to go over to Fort Myers on the Gulf Coast to see the Red Sox’ new spring home, a replica of Fenway Park known as JetBlue Park.

You can read all about it at jetbluepark.com.

Go ahead and check it out.

What’s that you say? That link goes to the Yankees’ website?!

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An IoT conversation: A Maddon-ing Exchange

February 15, 2012

What do you see in this picture of Joe Maddon? For one IoTer, it's a two-time AL Manager of the Year. For the other, it's a .500 manager with a losing playoff record.

Jeremy, a Rays fan, was excited to hear Tuesday that reigning AL Manager of the Year Joe Maddon is going to be in Tampa for another three years. Jimmy did not share his enthusiasm, possibly because he’s a Red Sox fan. What follows are the friendly text messages that we exchanged on the subject:

Jeremy: Bad news for you: The Rays are about to sign Maddon to a 3-year extension.

 

Jimmy: Good move. When you’ve got a chance to lock up a guy with an 11-14 career playoff record, you have to do it.

 

Jeremy: If you want to talk playoff record, doesn’t that make the Rays’ win in the ’08 ALCS look worse for the Red Sox?

 

Jimmy: It does. But 2 World Series titles look much better. Let me know when the Rays win something.

 

Jeremy: Remember the 2011 Wild Card? Or how about the 2010 AL East?

 

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Inching toward a college football playoff – and less controversy

February 12, 2012

This year's all-SEC national championship game may finally lead to a college football playoff.

For those of us who’d like to see a college football playoff in our lifetimes, some welcome news came out of the 12-team Big Ten last week.

The Chicago Tribune reported Monday that the league’s athletic directors are considering the idea of a four-team playoff to decide the national champion. While there is still a long way to go, that’s significant news because the Big Ten led the charge to kill a Plus One system proposed four years ago by the SEC. Maybe watching two SEC teams play for the BCS championship finally persuaded the Big Ten’s ADs that getting a shot at the national title for one of their schools was more important than blind devotion to the Rose Bowl.

Of course, the whole point of a playoff would be to reduce some of the unsatisfying scenarios that have popped up ever since the BCS’s creation, such as:

  • 2001: A team getting blown out 62-36 in its last game, missing its conference championship game and still playing for the national title.
  • 2003: A team finishing No. 1 in the AP and Coaches’ polls but finishing third in the BCS standings.
  • 2004: An SEC team going 12-0 and not making the national title game.
  • 2007: Eight two-loss teams fighting for No. 2 in the BCS standings.
  • 2011: Two teams from the same SEC division playing for the national title.

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ACC expansion: Watered-down rivalries and random divisions

February 9, 2012

Remember all the great moments from the Wake Forest-N.C. State rivalry? Neither do we.

When the ACC raided the Big East a few years ago in a desperate attempt to become a football power, it ended one of the things that I used to love about the conference — every team played every other team once a year in football and twice in basketball.

I especially miss the double round-robin in basketball. The added familiarity with opponents better prepared ACC teams for March Madness, and it made conference rivalries stronger. If N.C. State lost its first game against one of the Big 4, I always knew there would be a rematch.

With the expansion to 12 teams, it was bad enough that N.C. State was no longer guaranteed to play Duke twice in basketball (or at all in football). With the conference growing to 14 in a year or two, it was inevitable that more rivals would play each other less frequently.

Under the new scheduling format announced last week, each basketball team gets one primary rival to play in a home-and-home every year. In N.C. State’s case, it’s Wake Forest. No offense to the Deacons, but the one home game that Wolfpackers care about above all others is against Carolina. Once every three years, the Tar Heels won’t have to come to Raleigh.

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The Best of the Worst of Duke-UNC

February 8, 2012

The days surrounding the first Duke-Carolina basketball game are always the strangest time of the sports year for me.

Before turning 18, I was a rabid Duke fan. So rabid I took a copy of The Kinston Free Press sports page to school on Feb. 4, 1993 and use it to taunt my Tar Heel fan friends. So rabid that, during my most recent move, I finally purged a Duke 1991/92 national championship hat with signatures from Bobby Hurley (!), Thomas Hill and Antonio Lang. So rabid that a Cherokee Parks jersey survived that purge and still hangs in my closet.

But I left all that behind when I went to college at NC State. Rather than support a college I didn’t attend, I discarded childish things (like triumphant fandom) in favor of more grownup fare (grimly low expectations). The old feelings still stirred occasionally, most notably during Duke’s 2001 national title run. But in 2010, I could barely rouse any feelings as Brian Zoubek wrecked charming Butler. The rare re-emergence of the old Duke feelings usually occurs around the first Heels-Devils matchup of the year.

Now, I’m part of the mass of sports fans with no real link to Duke-Carolina, THE GREATEST RIVALRY IN ALL OF SPORTS. While not actively hostile to the game or its surrounding hype, I do find it all a little tiresome. So, while the rest of the sporting world previews its brains out, we offer those on the outside looking into this rivalry a list of the Best Moments in Duke-UNC History For People Who Hate Duke and UNC.

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An IoT conversation: Super Bowl XLVI

February 5, 2012

One member of the IoT crew is having a bit of buyer’s remorse about this year’s Super Bowl. Jeremy exchanged e-mails with Jimmy earlier this week about his lack of enthusiasm for the Patriots-Giants matchup.

Jeremy: Jimmy, a Happy Super Bowl Sunday to you!

Like every red-blooded American male, I’ll be celebrating our great national holiday while sitting in front of a big-screen TV and watching the Patriots and Giants. Even if the game isn’t close, at least I’ve got an excuse to eat healthy, low-calorie foods like this.

Normally, I’m really excited for the Super Bowl. But this year, I feel like I’m watching the game more out of a sense of patriotic duty. I just can’t find a way to get into Pats-Giants II. Read the rest of this entry »