It seems utterly perplexing and egregious, that this past month has gone by without me blogging about sports. Seriously, we are in the midst of the World Cup, had a thrilling NBA Finals, a Chicago team won the Stanley Cup, Nebraska joined the Big Ten, I had a 7 for 7 softball game, and my White Sox clobbered the powerhouses of Pittsburgh, Washington, and the North Siders to get within 2 games of the division lead. Therefore, I’m getting out my inner Bill Simmons and going to town.
Many people were nervous heading into the ‘African World Cup’ would be plagued by security and logistical issues. What we have found out is that South Africa has done a wonderful job hosting this event. There really haven’t been any noticeable glitches that even Vancouver had during the Olympics. The issues facing this World Cup are all FIFA’s issues.
ISSUE 1: The Ball.
I didn’t think we’d be heading into the knockout stage still talking about the ball. But it seems clear the ball is too light. Everything is being overhit. The ball should be the most consistent element for the players. The NBA learned this when they tried to change the ball a couple of years ago. You must test the ball first. Putting it into play only a couple of months before the season.
Resolution: Develop an official match ball, that is used by all FIFA sanctioned leagues. And if there is a change to the ball, it must be put in use before the first Qualifier. It seems simple enough. If FIFA is concerned about selling balls, then put a different paint job on it before the World Cup.
ISSUE 2: GOOOOAL! Wait Sorry Folks.
I was actually disturbed when Lampard’s shot clearly crossed the line, and it wasn’t given. Normally, I would have taken great joy in a humiliating defeat of the English. But, enough is enough. That was around the seventh controversial goal-related call of the tournament. A goal in an every four year tournament is too important to screw up. I think an English pub owner has the right to sue FIFA over a missed opportunity to host an automatic full bar. If BP is paying up, FIFA should pay up the bar owners.
Okay, that’s a bit far-fetched, but the world takes soccer too seriously to allow easy mistakes to be wrong. Nearly every major sport (including traditional sports such as cricket and tennis) have used replay in one fashion or another. Sepp Blatter, FIFA Chairman, has said he doesn’t want to rely on technology. I understand the argument to some extent because he wants to be consistent at all levels. However, the World Cup is at another level. Protect your refs, Mr. Blatter.
Resolution: Just have a Reply official that reviews any shot that goes into the back of the net, much like ice hockey. The ref can then check for handballs, offsides, and whether the ball crossed the line. Have this system in place for all World Cup matches and qualifiers. All national team games at that level are televised. There is no new technology needed.
ISSUE 3: NIL NIL and Yellow Cards
The 0-0 draw is annoying. Therefore I suggest the following, play extra time in all pool play matches, and then go to Penalty Kicks. If a team wins in penalties, give them 2 points instead of 1. It’s will encourage teams to go for goals early.
Another pet peeve of mine is the rule requiring a player who gets two yellow cards at anytime in the tournament to have to miss their next match. For all the random reasons and random judgments you can get carded for, having to sit out a semi-final match because you collected a second yellow after getting one in the first match (5 games ago), doesn’t make sense. The rule should be changed to be two yellow cards in two consecutive matches, equals a one game suspension. Just watch this will come into play.
NCAA Conference Reshuffle.
Nebraska joined the Big Ten. Good for them and good for the league. But the powers that be miss the big picture. There’s a gold mine in evening out the conferences in terms of numbers. I leave this in the context of football. My suggestion is to have eight conferences of 12 teams each. So in a given football season each team would have an 11 game conference schedule, and one game for a team outside of the conference (12 total). The two teams from each conference with the best record will then play in a conference championship game. The winner advances to the National Playoff of the eight Conference champions. There is nothing fairer than this. Nothing. In case I lost you, I promise a blog with charts and diagrams come football season.
Pale Hose in Contention
I knew the White Sox were better than the way they were playing early. With the way the pitchers are throwing right now, this team is going to stick around. Thank you uneven schedules for interleague play!
ASIDE: Could the BP Cup come at any worse a time? Good, the Sox and Cubs don’t need a trophy. Speaking of the BP Cup did anybody see the physical trophy? Let me know if you did. Please send a picture.
NBA: Now Ballers Await
Congrats to Phil Jackson in winning #11. Impressive. Am I the only one that thinks Kobe looks old? Speaking of old, in the final 3 minutes of game seven I counted one guy in his 20’s on the court (Rondo). Over 30 wins. Anyway, free agency starts Thursday. Finally.
I don’t want to jump the gun too much, but to say the Bulls should go after Dirk (who looks to be opting out) over Bosh and Boozer. And don’t worry the Big three (LBJ, Wade, and Bosh) all won’t end up in Miami with each other. Don’t buy that hype! My prediction is none of them end up in Miami and Bosh goes where LeBron goes.
We may not have seen the BP Cup, but we did see Stanley’s
Congrats to the Blackhawks on going from the worst run franchise in sports to a championship team. Too bad they have to blow up the team over the salary cap.
One TV show recommendation
The Good Guys, new on Fox. It’s a sometimes witty and cleaver comedy that makes fun of cop shows. It’s worth a view.
Alright that concludes the June Sports Edition. Comments, as always, are open.