Tuesday, October 13, 2009

When Did Winter Show Up?

I love the fact that the weather has gone from nice and crisp to freaking cold in a matter of hours. Sunday, I played in a soccer match outdoors at Delta Park where the temperature was fairly reasonable, and today, the wind has been about 30 miles per hour and it's been raining from all directions. Not that I mind the rain at all, but I'm used to more of a gradual transition between the seasons. Thankfully, I remembered my jacket and umbrella today.
Was scanning the sports headlines, and ran into this nugget about a high school football game that didn't quite end the way you'd expect. Plymouth HS in Canton, Michigan blocks a field goal during a game against Westlund John Glenn HS to apparently win their game, but in the celebration, the Plymouth players didn't realize the blocked field goal hadn't crossed the line of scrimmage so the ball could be advanced. An alert John Glenn player picked up the ball and ran into the end zone untouched, and John Glenn won the game. There's been official protests about the result, and Plymouth players are upset at "having a win taken from them." 
The problem here is that there's an important lesson to be learned here, but I'm not sure the Plymouth players are really getting what happened here. In their desire to celebrate victory, they lost focus and the rules dictated that the other team won. It's not like they lost on a technicality, they lost because they thought the whistle had blown and the game was over. Apparently, the whistle hadn't blown, and an alert player from the other team took advantage of the distraction. You play until the whistle, and let the officials do their job, even if they can't seem to get things right. And if you lose, do so with class; instead, Plymouth plans to protest and follow through with having the result overturned. So apparently, we don't like the result, we protest until we get what we think is deserved. Doesn't matter if the other team actually was paying attention and won in a strange, but within the rules sort of way. It's important to play to the end and win or lose with class.
Speaking of officiating, more calls are being made to expand instant replay in baseball after a rough weekend of controversial calls, including a missed fair ball in the Yankees - Twins game and a couple of missed tags during the Phillies - Rockies series. It's rough to pinpoint one play and putting the entirety of winning or losing in one place in time, but we do that especially if you're a fan of the losing side. Rockies and Twins fans are rather upset about things, and probably feel like the umpires are conspiring against them. Granted, that's not the reality of things, but it certainly can feel that way, especially for the Twins because the ball was fair by at least 5 feet.
Baseball is at least trying, putting umpires on the left and right field lines to help catch things, while football has been using instant replay in a relatively efficient manner for a few seasons now.  But to expect human eyes to catch everything that is happening in a split second is incredibly naive, especially with the prevalence of television replay that can display a missed call over and over again for viewing, even at the park itself.  I know some purists would prefer we live with the results of officiating, but at the same time, we're going to bitch and moan at any missed call. Technology can help catch things eyes might miss, and I think all sports need to seriously look at bringing in replay for close calls. Football does get it close to right, putting a time period on the review and providing multiple angles for perusal, and it's a lot less clunky than the original ideas. It's time to make the plunge, especially for soccer where you have one center official trying to see everything and make all the calls. It would work, and could avoid some serious grumblings.
Baseball in Beaverton is closer to reality after it was announced that a preliminary agreement had been reached between the Portland Beavers and the city of Beaverton to bring baseball to their city. There's still some devil to the details, as the site hasn't been determined and the council must agree on the framework, which includes some funds from residents and contributions from Merritt Paulson. The plan calls for $59 million dollars in investment from various sources, and provides for a solid mix of resources to bring baseball to a deserving market. I know there will be some people upset at using tax money to bring baseball to the area, but at an investment of $4.50 per resident each month in extra taxes, it's a small investment to bring quality entertainment to Beaverton. Paulson does things right, and having the Beavers in Beaverton is a win for everyone involved. There's more discussion around this forthcoming, but it's an encouraging start.
Finally, there's a lot of hoopla around tomorrow's Trail Blazers game at the Memorial Coliseum against the Suns. It's being billed as a tribute to Bill Schonley and the past Trail Blazer teams that played there, and it's a fairly nostalgic event for a pre-season game. While I admire the sentiment quite a bit and am glad that Schonley is getting kudos for his long tenure and skill in calling basketball games, I feel this event will do nothing more that reinforce the fact that the Memorial Coliseum deserves a better fate and could be used for something better than a back up arena. With the arena now gaining historical designation recently, it's going to be difficult to do anything long term to update the area, but hey, spending time and reminiscing about past glories will be a blast. I figure we'll have the MC around for the 75th anniversary and we can go back in time when the city had more vision.
At least the team is listening to its consumers and is going to make more of their broadcasts available for fans outside the area, while Comcast still plays hardball with the broadcasting rights. There will be costs involved, but at least they are trying to do something to help fans held hostage while the corporate entities fight over money to be made, especially those that live outside the Portland area. It's a long time coming, but my hope is that they'll get this done before the warmer spring weather returns next year. I'm not holding my breath, but at least I'll be bundled up.

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