Sports Watcher for the Weekend of 8/2-3

All times PDT.

11-1:30 PM: Little League Baseball, Big League World Series (ESPN). Yep, it’s Little League World Series season again! And August is only now starting…

3-6 PM: NFL Football, Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony (ESPN/NFL Network). Art Monk is the only interesting guy in the class and he should have gone in a few years ago. Wasn’t Cris Carter supposed to be a lock this year back in 2004? And now, a brief acknowledgement of the X Games…

6-8 PM: Action Sports, X Games 14 (ESPN). …that was it.

10-12 PM: LPGA Golf, Women’s British Open, final round (ABC). Gets the nod over the PGA event below because it’s a major and the Bridgestone isn’t (ditto for valuing the US Senior Open over the Bridgestone). Would get the nod over the US Senior Open, if there were an actual conflict, because I actually consider the LPGA the top level of competion for its gender-sport combination. Golf Channel covering the final round of the McDonald’s LPGA notwithstanding. Grr. (Incidentially, I was amazed to find out this only became a major in 2001. What was the fourth major before then? The event now known as the Canadian Women’s Open. Canada was once important enough to hold a major? And back then it had the rather dense name of “du Maurier Classic”…)

12-3 PM: Champions Tour Golf, US Senior Open (NBC). Wait, the senior tour has two majors in a row?

Honorable Mention: 11-3 PM: PGA Golf, WGC Bridgestone Invitational, final round (CBS). Jesus Christ, all three original major networks have huge golf tournaments on this weekend! They have an event this big right before a major? Well, at least it’s not two majors in a row like the senior tour. And the PGA Championship isn’t the only big event next week, even with the Olympics starting…

5-8 PM: MLB Baseball, Philadelphia @ St. Louis (ESPN). Because I haven’t had my Recommended Daily Allowance of major sports yet. And I’m not even mentioning the NFL Hall of Fame Game. I have a moratorium on NFL preseason games.

Sports Watcher for the Weekend of 7/26-27

All times PDT.

10:30-12 PM: Champions Tour Golf, Senior British Open, third round (ABC). If we’re putting up the third round of a golf tournament – of a SENIOR TOUR golf tournament – we are scraping the bottom of the barrel to put up something, ANYTHING.

1:30-3 PM: AVP Volleyball, Men’s final from Long Beach (NBC). Yes, we are really scraping the bottom of the barrel.

9-11 PM (both coasts): EliteXC Mixed Martial Arts, Saturday Night Fights (CBS). I’m still waiting to see what the ratings are for Saturday Night Fights Mark II, but hey, there’s nothing else on, other than a re-air of UFC 84 on Spike.

10-11 AM: Cycling, Tour de France (CBS). See a bunch of doped-up freaks motor their way to the finish line! Er… on second thought…

10-12 PM: Champions Tour Golf, Senior British Open, final round (ABC). It’s your chance to see Greg Norman all over again!

Honorable Mention: 10:30-1:30 PM: MLB Baseball, Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony (ESPN Classic). Goose Gossage and a bunch of people who never played a game.

12-3 PM: Arena Football League, ArenaBowl XXII (ABC). Down in the dumps because there’s no football? Get yourself revved up for the new season! (Who says the NFL season is short? I think the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and associated Game is next week, which means the NFL plays from August into February. The NFL shoves football down our throat for half a year and keeps at it the rest of the time! If you go from the HoF to the Draft, we have nine months where we obsess about football!)

In all seriousness, I’m actually going to be watching the Arena Bowl – try and get myself into it.

5-8 PM: MLB Baseball, NY Yankees @ Boston (ESPN). GAA-GAA IT’S THE SOX AND THE YANKEES GAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!11!111!!111!!!!!!111!1!!eleven!

Sports Watcher for the Weekend of 7/19-20 (UPDATED)

All times PDT.

11:30-1 PM: AVP Crocs Tour, AVP Crocs Slam Brooklyn, men’s final (NBC). Yes, despite the British Open we’re scraping the bottom of the barrel this week.

1-4 PM: MLB Baseball, regional action (FOX). Tune in immediately upon the end of volleyball. Because it didn’t end in a tie I originally wasn’t going to comment on the All-Star Game, until people on TV started commenting on it anyway. The “this time it counts” era was supposed to prevent this sort of thing, and it’s obvious that it didn’t. Now there’s a lot of hand-wringing about adding more pitchers to the roster, but how about tackling the problem at its source? Here are the problems with the ASG and their sources:

  • The players and managers treat it like an exhibition, instead of as a source of pride for their league. “This time it counts” was supposed to fix that problem, and strangely, it’s being credited for fixing that problem. We may be able to attribute to “this time it counts” the fact we could have gone into the 16th whereas 2002 ended after 12, and the managers were prepared to use position players to pitch instead of ending the game in a tie.
  • The managers feel obligated to use every player that’s willing, to mollify them but even more to mollify their fans. In the old days, it wasn’t uncommon for position players to play the whole game.
  • Teams’ concerns about overworking pitchers.
  • The rise of middle relievers and closers. Have a look at the 1968 All Star Game, the year before saves became an official stat. You see the same pitching carousel we see now, with a few more multi-inning pitchers – but every last pitcher was a starter, in an age where it was rare for pitchers to fail to go seven innings. The 1967 All-Star Game went 15 innings with no problem; Catfish Hunter pitched the final five innings for the AL (and ultimately lost), a feat that seems inconceivable today. Now teams protect pitchers more and gobble up large chunks of their rosters with relievers. Now pitching is not a position where players are interchangable at will – replacement pitchers have specific roles in theory – and thus is not a position well suited for all-star games. The NBA All-Star Game may well be the best all-star game, followed by the NHL, because their games actually feel like real games, unusually strong offense notwithstanding.

I’m not sure if anything can be done about any of that at this point, but if anything can, it’s worth thinking about.

6:30-9:30 PM: NASCAR Nationwide Series racing, Gateway (ESPN2). Because I rarely get a chance to put up a Nationwide Series race and there’s no Sprint Cup action this week.

UPDATED 7/19: ALTERNATE: 6-9 PM: Ultimate Fighting Championship, Fight Night (Spike TV). Not sure how highly to rate this since it’s not what would normally be considered a PPV, but I don’t want it to go unmentioned. Live on both coasts, so 9-12 on the East Coast.

5-10:30 AM: PGA Golf, British Open, final round (ABC). If there’s a golf tournament, and Tiger isn’t playing in it, does it make a sound?

10:30-1 PM: IndyCar Racing, Honda Grand Prix at Mid-Ohio (ABC). Last year ratings were inflated by the British Open. Look for history to repeat itself.

12-2 PM: LPGA Golf, State Farm Classic, final round (ESPN2). Girl Power Sunday again!

2-4 PM: US Open Series, Bank of the West Classic, women’s singles final (ESPN2). Girl Power Sunday and Scraping the Bottom of the Barrel Weekend again!

6-8 PM: The ESPY Awards (ESPN). Because there can exist nothing for which there is not an awards show of some kind. And no network should have to go without an awards show.

Sports Watcher for the Weekend of 6/28-29

All times PDT.

9-12 PM: Tennis, Wimbledon, 3rd round action (NBC). The reason why the 3rd round gets this spot and the 4th round doesn’t is because I actually have something to fill this spot tomorrow.

1-3:30 PM: Arena Football, Colorado @ Utah (ESPN). The playoffs are in full swing so the Arena League appears every week through ArenaBowl.

5-7 PM: IndyCar Racing, IndyCar 300 at Richmond (ESPN). Hey, NASCAR causes interference too often and this is the one sport I watch every time it’s on. If you think NASCAR is just a bunch of cars going around in circles, maybe the real problem is it’s too slow.

8-9 PM: US Olympic Trials, Track and Field (NBC). Same on both coasts so it interferes with the IndyCar on the East Coast.

9-2 AM: Boxing, Manny Pacquito v. David Diaz (PPV). Same on both coasts again, so it interferes with the IndyCar – just barely – on the East Coast.
9-11 AM: MLS Soccer, Los Angeles @ DC United (ABC). “Soccer is so boring, it’s just a bunch of passing a ball back and — OMG IT’S BECKHAM OMG OMG OMG!!!!!!!!!!11!!11!111!1!!!!eleven!”

12-3 PM: LPGA Golf, US Women’s Open, final round (NBC). It’s the Annika Sorenstam farewell tour! Those other golfers expected to pick up the slack? Who cares about them? No one cares about the male golfers not named Tiger.

Honorable Mention: 11:30-1:30 PM: UEFA Soccer, Euro 2008, final (ABC). Because Dad will kill me if I don’t mention this at least once. You could watch the soccer and switch to golf at 1:30, but then you only catch an hour and a half of golf. Wasn’t Euro 2004 mostly on pay-per-view? Now the final is airing on broadcast television and the US doesn’t even have a horse in the race anywhere! And last month the Champions League final was made into a fairly big deal on ESPN2!

(The really odd part? The only other game in the tournament on ABC was a quarterfinal last week. And ESPN2 showed one of the semifinals Thursday because of the US Women’s Open, whereas all the non-ABC quarterfinals are on regular ESPN. Huh?)

5-8 PM: MLB Baseball, Chicago Cubs @ Chicago White Sox (ESPN). This is “ESPN Sunday Night Baseball presented by Taco Bell Part of AL/NL Showdown presented by State Farm”. No further comment needed.

8-9 PM: US Olympic Trials, Swimming (NBC). Same on both coasts again, but ironically, that means the Track and Field trials the previous hour interferes with baseball on the West Coast but not on the East Coast!

One last thing… Sports Watcher just might continue past August. I’m starting to get into a bit more of a groove. Stay tuned.

Sports Watcher for the Weekend of 6/14-15

All times PDT.

8:50-11 AM: UEFA Soccer, Euro 2008, Sweden v. Spain (ESPN2). Because my dad will kill me if I don’t mention this quickly.

1-3 PM: College track and field, national championship (CBS). I find it strange that not all NCAA Championships are on TV somewhere. The real surprise was finding out that the golf championships are not nationally televised. CBS College Sports televises the women’s water polo final but not the golf final? Let’s get with the program! (I wonder if this has anything to do with golf not being an Olympic sport?)

4-7 PM: College baseball, College World Series, Georgia v. Miami (ESPN). I recently saw a discussion on “Around the Horn” wondering why the MLB draft isn’t as big as the NFL and NBA draft. Two factors I didn’t hear in that discussion: going straight from high school to the pros is WAY more popular in baseball than it ever was in the NBA, which depresses the popularity (and quality) of college baseball. And second, THE MLB DRAFT OCCURS BEFORE THE COLLEGE WORLD SERIES PROPER HAS EVEN STARTED! That makes it more of a crap shoot, no?

11-2:30 PM: NASCAR Racing, LifeLock 400 (TNT). Ah, what’s two and a half hours off of US Open coverage? It’s been a while since I mentioned the stock cars.

12-6 PM: PGA Golf, US Open, final round (NBC). It’s golf in primetime! Wait, it’s not the Masters? I don’t care if it’s still a major, I’m only watching the Masters! Wait, it’s got Tiger in it? I don’t care that when he leads a major, he wins so easily it’s boring; count me in! Casual golf fans might be the most fickle in sports.

6-8:30 PM: NBA Basketball, Boston @ LA Lakers (ABC). Story of the Finals: Team A leaps out to a big lead. Team B comes roaring back. One team wins. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Sports Watcher for the Weekend of 6/7-8

The first time I filled out most of this schedule, including all the comments on the French Open women’s final, the second paragraph of the UFC write-up, and all the college baseball and IndyCar stuff, I lost it all because I pre-scheduled all the posts with pre-qualified championship info, once a post is scheduled Blogger stops autosaving drafts, and the Internet connection I’m using is fritzing out all of a sudden. DSZGFJBD JGGHFXGDFMS HVCJHJXGD!!!!!!!~!!!~!!!!!

It’s moments like these that are the ONLY reason I keep strongly considering getting a job and moving out of my mom’s place and into a place where I can have my own Internet connection instead of stealing a neighbor’s.


As I was saying. All times PDT.

6-9 AM: Tennis, French Open, includes women’s final, Dinara Safina v. Ana Ivanovic (NBC). Okay, I’ve heard some things about these two, but really, do you really think either one of them is really a household name in the US? Most people are going, “Dana Sana wha? Ana Vana wha?” At least it doesn’t involve 3-seed Jelena Jankovic. Who? Exactly.

9-12 PM: College baseball, NC State v. Georgia or Wichita State v. Florida State (ESPN2). Wait, is ESPN regionalizing the super regionals? And Coastal Carolina plays North Carolina on ESPNU at the same time as well!

12-3 PM: Ultimate Fighting Championship, UFC 85 (PPV). It’s a bit odd for UFC to be running events every other week, and then not necessarily show the same people each week. Oh wait, this is in London. Odd schedule placement might be to be expected. Well, I’m still keeping an eye on things.

While we’re on the topic of MMA, the verdict is in from EliteXC, and, well… whether or not it outperformed the Stanley Cup Finals depends on your definition. But expect it to tumble in the future after Kimbo Slice lost his aura. Meanwhile, look for World Extreme Cagefighting – essentially UFC’s equivalent to the Nationwide Series (see below) – to potentially make an appearance in future Watchers; I missed their show on Sunday, which most MMA-heads would say put EliteXC to shame. Of course, that “cagefighting” bit can’t be good for building legitimacy.

3:25-4 PM: Horse racing, Belmont Stakes (ABC). Skip the mindless pregame and cut straight to the race. I’m not sure if they’ll be off before or after 3:30; if I had to guess, it’d probably be after, but you might want to tune in a little early just in case. WILL BIG BROWN WIN THE ELUSIVE TRIPLE CROWN OR WILL HE JOIN THE SCRAP HEAP OF A GAZILLION PREVIOUS OVERHYPED DERBY/PREAKNESS WINNERS THAT FLOPPED IN THE BELMONT JUST SINCE AFFIRMED OR HELL JUST IN THE LAST TEN YEARS?

4:30-7:30 PM: College baseball, Arizona v. Miami (FL) or Stanford v. Cal State Fullerton (ESPN). Yes, I know it conflicts with the event below. I would have done the Nationwide Series race but I’m not doing the Sprint Cup race. The nearest ESPNU games’ start times are 3 and 6 PM. Sue me.

7-9:30 PM: IndyCar Series, Bombardier Learjet 550 (ESPN2). Last week’s race was on ABC coming out of the Indy 500 in a year where ratings are up because of the merger. The ratings: .8. Did I mention that USA Today ran an article around the time of the Indy 500 saying that IndyCar could very well run down NASCAR?

6-11 AM: Tennis, French Open, includes men’s final, Roger Federer v. Rafael Nadal (NBC). How many times have these two squared off just at the French? How about some dap for Gael Monfils making it all the way to the semis before running headfirst into FederTron 2000? I remember when he was a sensation in the boys’ tournament…

1-4 PM: LPGA Golf, McDonald’s LPGA Championship, final round (Golf Channel). WTF is the final round of a MAJOR still doing on the f’ing Golf Channel? I mean, I knew it was on the Golf Channel a few years ago, but I thought they’d corrected that injustice! Virtually every PGA Tour event has its final round on broadcast; what does it say that one of the top four women’s event is considered less important than, well, ANY men’s event? When can this come up for renegotiation? The LPGA needs to correct this injustice… back when it happened in the first place!

(Incidentially, it appears to technically be the “McDonald’s LPGA Championship Presented by Coca-Cola”. That’s as bad as the “Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim”. Also, what the hell is with the sports news cycle acting like the US Open is THIS weekend?)

6-8:30 PM: NBA Basketball, LA Lakers @ Boston (ABC). Obviously, I shouldn’t have to say anything more.

Sports Watcher for the weekend of 4/7-8

All times PDT.

12:30-3 PM: MLS Soccer, Colorado at DC United (ABC). Finally, the MLS season opener doesn’t compete with the Final Four pre-show. Of course, now it’s up against the first round of the Masters…

4-7 PM: College Hockey, Michigan State v. Boston College (ESPN). The third-biggest championship the NCAA administers. Of course, it’s light years behind even women’s college basketball and isn’t really that far from last place.

7-10 PM: Ultimate Fighting Championship, UFC 69 (PPV). I could write reams on why UFC is whipping boxing’s ass right now, but I’ll save them for a later date. (But a word of advice: If you want to become really mainstream and not elicit comparisons to illegal cagefighting or pro wrestling, dump the steel cage. I don’t know of any fighting organization of any kind that doesn’t use anything more than the classic ropes.)

11:30-4 PM: PGA Golf, The Masters Final Round (CBS). You know, if that Tiger Woods gets a few more major wins, maybe, one day, if he’s really lucky, he’ll be enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

5-8 PM: MLB Baseball, Boston @ Texas (ESPN). Even though Curt Schilling will be Boston’s starter, we’ll still be caught up in Dice-K mania.

Next weekend: Hot NHL playoff action! (cue crickets)

Sports Watcher for the Weekend of 3/31-4/1

All times PDT.

12-2:30 PM: NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, Kroger 250 (FOX). The Truck Series graduates from Speed Channel… for a couple of races per year.

3-5 PM: College Basketball, Georgetown v. Ohio State (CBS). At this point, the best thing for my bracket is for Ohio State to go on to win the national championship. My bracket is a mess right now, and I need to come away salvaging something.

5:45-7:45 PM: College Basketball, UCLA v. Florida (CBS). If you think it’s 2006 all over again, you’re wrong. This is only the Final Four, not the national championship.

12-1 AM: WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony (USA). Nothing like a bunch of players of a fake sport being inducted into a nonexistent hall of fame, especially when you’ve heard of maybe one or two of the people going in, most of the inductions are left out of the hour show, and even that show is on after everyone has gone to bed.

10-11:30 AM: PBA Bowling, Tournament of Champions (ESPN). I’ll be watching the NBA, as ABC has some pretty good games, but I have a policy of putting every championship possible on the Watcher.

12-3 PM: LPGA Golf, Kraft Nabisco Championship (CBS). I support women’s sports in every form, so of course I’ll be watching Dallas and Phoenix. And NASCAR. Haven’t seen the Car of Tomorrow yet. But this is on the Watcher because it happens to be a major and I have the aforementioned rule on championships.

5-8 PM: MLB Baseball, NY Mets @ St. Louis (ESPN2). I pull for women’s basketball huge, so why am I picking Opening Night over the Women’s Final Four? Because without fail, every single year I find myself watching it, and often being fascinated with it. Maybe it’s just the lack of baseball we’ve had all winter.

(Yes, wrestling fans, I know I left out WrestleMania but included the HoF ceremony. I only list wrestling as a joke when there’s nothing else on.)