Sports Watcher for the Weekend of 5/31-6/1

All times PDT.

9-2 PM: College Softball, College World Series, second round action (ESPN). Quick format explanation: Teams that lose in round 1 play a second first round game, then play the second round loser from the other half of the bracket. Then they move on to the semifinal tomorrow, but if the team that lost a game wins the first game, they play a second game. It’s really simple! The best-of-three final gets played over the next three days.

5-7:30 PM: NHL Hockey, Detroit @ Pittsburgh (CBC/NBC). For a while there were reports that NBC was decreasing its Stanley Cup Finals commitment so low that some potentially deciding games would be cut. Buf if you cut a deciding game, make it Game 4. If it’s 3-0, it’s a sweep if it ends and that’s boring. If it’s 2-1, well, it’s not a deciding game, is it?

In fact, if this year’s Finals has shown anything, it’s that if you’re going to cut any game, in any sport’s best-of-seven series, deciding or non-deciding, from broadcast, make it Game 3. After the first two games, everyone was thinking the series would have little suspense and would be done quickly. I have to imagine that depressed viewership for Game 3, despite the currently-reported relatively strong ratings. Now viewership will pick back up again for Game 4. I think a structure putting the first two games on broadcast, priming the pump for everyone to watch, and the last two or three games on broadcast, makes sense.

9-11 PM (both coasts): EliteXC Mixed Martial Arts, Saturday Night Fights (CBS, both coasts). The only place this doesn’t interfere with hockey is on the West Coast; otherwise it’s merely an honorable mention. This thing better knock my socks off in the ratings or it will not get any sort of a protected spot in future Watchers.

2-10 PM: French Open, 3rd round action (Tennis Channel). I write this a day in advance. I have no clue what to expect.

10:30-3 PM: NASCAR Sprint Cup Racing, Best Buy 400 (FOX). I will be watching the IndyCar race starting at 1, but I’m sure you’ll go gaga over this without me. I’m a bit distressed at the most logical reasons why ESPN still doesn’t cover NASCAR as much as its popularity suggests it should, that is to say, on shows like Around the Horn and Pardon the Interruption.

5:30-8 PM: NBA Basketball, Detroit @ Boston, if necessary (ABC). Hey, Detroit residents don’t need to decide between basketball and hockey anymore!

If Boston wins Game 6:
5-8 PM: MLB Baseball, LA Dodgers @ NY Mets (ESPN). Because I have to make some mention of OMG JOE TORRE’S COMING BACK TO NEW YORK EVEN THOUGH HE ISN’T PLAYING HIS FORMER TEAM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!111!!!1111!!1111!!!!eleven!

Can I mention that in my hunting around the world of sports, looking for something, ANYTHING to fill any conceivable hole in the schedule, the Sports Watcher is still a labor-intensive excersize that still drains a lot from me, even with the ability to finish it a day or so in advance? I may abandon it again in August or so when the Little League World Series dies down.

I have an inkling of an idea to do a rundown of EVERY sporting event on TV, not just one for each timeslot. But of course that would be MORE work. A part of me wants to refer people who want that sort of thing to HD Sports Guide, but a) it doesn’t include end-of-time-slot info and b) it only includes HD stuff. And if I do that, I might as well do a schedule of EVERY SINGLE SPORTING EVENT BEING PLAYED ANYWHERE EVER. That would be beyond my capacities and would probably mean a whole other web site. You might find Sports TV Insider or DirecTV’s My Game Schedule useful, though.

I may do a Watcher-like rundown of just stuff on each sport’s own network. If you have any suggestions for how to reform the Watcher, leave a comment and I may have a poll up next week, running until I finally do end the Watcher again in August.

Sports Watcher for the Weekend of 5/24-25

Read this post to get introduced to Sports Watcher. Basically, I run down what a sports fanatic would watch if he wanted to watch as many sports as possible over the weekend. That means only one sport in a given timeslot, as many sports as possible, and as important a contest as possible. All times PDT.

9-11 AM: College lacrosse, Syracuse v. Virginia (ESPN2). In one of my previous stint of Sports Watcher posts, I noted that the Frozen Four seemed to be the biggest college sport that wasn’t football or basketball. If ESPN is any guide, baseball, softball and lacrosse may give it a run for its money. Of course, that may just be ESPN looking for any spring championships to fill time. The final, incidentially, isn’t until Monday. The second semifinal, Johns Hopkins v. Duke, is out because otherwise I get no baseball.

12:30-4 PM: MLB Baseball, regional action (FOX). Mets/Rockies, D-Backs/Braves, Angels/White Sox. The Rockies stink after making the World Series last year, and the Mets having a .512 record (as of Wednesday) would be more impressive if they weren’t second-to-last in their own division. The other two games are more interesting, especially Angels-White Sox which pits two division leaders (again as of Wednesday) against each other, but I doubt as many people will get D-Backs/Braves as should.

5-7:30 PM: NHL Hockey, Pittsburgh @ Detroit (CBC/VS.). The NHL’s dream Stanley Cup finals for American dominance starts.

7-10 PM: Ultimate Fighting Championship, UFC 84 (PPV). Yes, there’s an overlap. It’ll start with dull undercard matches anyway, it’s not much of an overlap. Besides, I bet you can’t afford it anyway.

10-1:30 PM: IndyCar Racing, Indianapolis 500 (ABC). Or as ESPN is calling it, “The 92nd Indianapolis 500 telecast presented by”. First of all, it’s not the 92nd TELECAST, TV not being arouns 92 years ago and all, and secondly, this is what they’re calling it on their ticker even when referring strictly to the race itself! But who cares? It’s all about unification, baby! And Helio winning Dancing with the Stars! And Danica winning her first race! Wait, the latter already happened on a race on ESPN Classic that wasn’t Indy?

Honorable Mention: 12-3 PM: Champions Tour Golf, Senior PGA Championship, final round (NBC). Sheesh. I once created an imaginary system where all the championships could be scheduled on one imaginary network, because usually there’s no more than one at a time (this later evolved into Sports Watcher). Key word, usually, because in 2006 the MLS Cup interfered with the Chase for the then-Nextel Cup. Now I’m considering having two tracks of Sports Watcher. Get more high-profile sports onto the main Watcher, you know?

2:30-5 PM: College softball, super-regional action (ESPNU). If you’re not familiar with college baseball or softball, super-regionals appear to be pairs of regionals. 8 teams advance from the super-regionals to the College World Series and get placed into a bracket only once they get there. Regular ESPN actually airs softball during the Indy 500!

Honorable Mention: 4-6 PM: College lacrosse, women’s championship (CBS College Sports). It’s not because of the softball that I bumped this, violating my all-championships policy in the process. It’s so early in the softball tournament that I wouldn’t cry to lose it. It’s because it just barely interferes with…

5:30-8 PM: NBA Basketball, LA Lakers @ San Antonio (TNT). A Celtics-Lakers final would be heaven for NBA brass and ratings, as much of a godsend as Pens-Red Wings is for the NHL; a Spurs-Pistons final would be hell. Keep a very, VERY close eye on the officials in both series.

Well, certainly one involving Bill Simmons, at least.

Hold on, I’m about to go into super-nerdy mode for a moment here.

Popular columnist Bill Simmons has had a total of one column since May 1st, and the reason why is not a secret within the sports blogosphere, as much as ESPN may not want it to come out. When popular sports blog Deadspin inquired about his lack of columnage May 14, Simmons cited “behind the scenes bullshit” and claimed “certain promises were not kept” “within a few months” of signing a recent extension. Shortly thereafter, Simmons started up an off-site blog, albeit only posting old columns for the time being, and introduced one such column as having been “written right as I was starting to find a groove and my column was starting to resemble what it’s like now, only if nobody was killing five of the best jokes or making me re-write them so they weren’t as funny.

So it’s interesting to note that the Sports Guy’s latest ESPN column is basically a roundup of very short, quick takes on various sports (and non-sports) stories from the past month-plus. What may be a lot more interesting is this:

…[a]nd can ESPN organize a Josh Howard roast so I can stand on a dais and make
these jokes as someone like Jerry Stackhouse keels over in hysterics and does
the slumped-over-and-pounding-the-table routine? (Whoops, I forgot — you’ll see
Danny Moder leave Julia Roberts alone for the night with George Clooney before
you see ESPN get involved with another roast. Scratch that thought.)

Of course, Simmons is referring to an infamous incident during ESPN’s roast of their “Mike and Mike” personalities earlier this year, when Dana Jacobsen made some rather offensive comments while drunk. Okay, it’s not taking a shot because of Simmons’ own battles with ESPN, and that incident wasn’t even really ESPN’s fault, but am I the only one surprised, given what we’ve learned so far, that ESPN didn’t censor what could be considered taking a shot at the Worldwide Leader in Sports?

Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Quick addendum

I left out one option on the new poll asking what features you want to see added to Da Blog. I have been thinking, off and on, about a “playoff watch” – keeping track of where teams are in their quest to get into the playoffs. It would essentially be a generalization of the Week 17 Playoff Positioning Watch on the SNF Flex Scheduling Watch. I didn’t put it on the poll and I’m not putting it on now because it was just enough work that I don’t want to do it week in and week out, day in and day out, all year long for all sorts of sports. But if you want it, feel free and comment.

It truly is a vast wasteland.

Look over my SiteMeter stats and it becomes glaringly obvious that since joining SiteMeter, my peak readership for Da Blog has been in November and December, when my college football rankings, SNF Flex Scheduling Watch, and (not next year) SuperPower ratings are in full swing.

The rest of the time, I barely break 100 readers for the whole month, or about 3-4 a day. By those standards, I shouldn’t be disappointed by the readership numbers for Sandsday!

Currently, the poll on the front page of the web site has the following most popular topics with 4 votes each: Sports (well covered), Movies (well, if I can get the Greatest Movies Project off the ground…), Video Games (evidently the Sandsday crowd), RPGs, Politics (forthcoming), and the current overall leader with 5 votes, Computing/Internet.

As for my original Da Blog Poll, asking what you’d like to see out of Da Blog, the three leaders in the clubhouse are: Short poems or stories I’ve written, TV Ratings Reports, and Sports Watcher. TV ratings reports are out of the question; they take too long and are too much work. I heartily recommend TV by the Numbers for much more in-depth coverage than I ever had in mind.

Sports Watcher is coming back on a provisional basis this weekend and possibly for good, aided by Blogger’s new Scheduled Posts feature, allowing me to work on the Watcher throughout the week instead of all at once on Friday. At this point, publishing short poems or stories I’ve written is a) probably going to be more a web site thing than a blog thing and b) will mostly be the ones I think are less publishable. My interests have shifted since writing them into more philosophic strains.

I’ve reposted the topic poll under the new mechanism, removing the three most popular items, and replacing them with four new ones: TV schedule reports (know exactly what’s going to be on direct from the source!), philosophical treatises, live election results based on my projection mechanisms (which are coming for November’s general election anyway), and random discoveries from the Internet. (I’m not a subscriber to StumbleUpon, but I was interested in the concept when I was semi-accidentially introduced to it.) Given the pace at which my polls get votes, this one will last until the end of July, although if I get enough votes suggestions from it will start filtering into Da Blog and the web site before then.

Now for another question. In a recent comment, someone suggested “send[ing my] posts to other bloggers”. (Ironically, this was in a post about my inability to get readers for Sandsday, not Da Blog.) Two problems with that: I’m not certain who to send it to, and I don’t want to feel like I’m spamming other bloggers. I am already on the blogroll of Sports Media Watch, but no place else to my knowledge; I haven’t had a response to any of my posts on a blog recognized by Technorati; and I’m a bit put off by the concept of blogrolls myself, partly because some of my interests are a little embarrasing for me to discuss, partly because it seems cliqueish, and partly because what I read is none of your business. Unless I decide it is. As a result, I have a bit of a beef with blogs like Awful Announcing that seemingly will only link to me if I link to them in a blogroll.

It doesn’t help that both of the blogs I referred to in the previous paragraph are sports blogs and I don’t want Da Blog to just be a sports blog. So I welcome any advice in the comments on how to branch out and how to get more inbound links. And I’m starting a second poll question – the first multi-question Da Blog Poll – asking whether I should spam other blogs. Because it’s simple, this one’s only lasting through the end of the month.

Addressing some potentially incendiary remarks

Okay, I recently put up three rather… odd posts, out of my irritibility over the time span that I put them up.

There’s a part of me that resents the fact that I even have to apologize for them… that we’re not an open enough society that I can post things regardless of what people think about them and not have people bearing down on my ass. (Not that I’ve had people bearing down on my ass, but I could turn off potential readers if I attempt to grow Da Blog.)

Regardless, it was a mistake to post the “Confronting humanity with hard truths” post at this point in time, when I haven’t made posts building up the philosophical underpinning of that view. As a result, it sounds coldly cynical and even something that a serial killer would send to the newspaper; with the proper underpinning, you might have thought “right on!”. I don’t like Nazis and I don’t like what’s going on in Darfur. I’d like to think I’m not a potential killer that might run amok on the school campus or go hunting in Seattle households at night. I have no reason to do so and plenty of reason not to, and if I ever felt tempted to the process of trying to do so would take long enough and contain sufficient roadblocks to lure me back from the ledge. But sometimes I say and think things that rattle my own confidence in that statement and make me wonder just where my place on the news might be.

Hence the statement at the end of the webcomic post, “The only reason this sentence…”. I was bitter about the repeated tripping of the counter in archive browsing, at Bravenet for not making a half-decent counter, and at SiteMeter for not having its “SiteMeter 2.0” system up and running yesterday. That leads to me getting way more thoughts in my head than I can deal with, and that leads to the downward spiral mentioned in my third post.

I am going to use (as I have used) Da Blog as a place for me to vent from time to time, posting tidbits about me that might be useful for someone attempting to deal with me. I am not someone you generally want to meet in real life, but don’t hold everything I say against me for that. Even the stuff I write when I’m mad; I have a theory that it’s only then that the real truth comes out, unfiltered by civilization. Hence I don’t follow the advice of others who say take a step back after writing something out of anger. I’ve had people tell me (mostly my mom) that I try too hard to make people bend to my will and my way of acting rather than change myself to fit everyone else. Well, it’s everyone else who’s tried to change to fit everyone else and it hasn’t worked as well as “everyone else” would like. More to the point, I’m not like everyone else so I shouldn’t have to change to be like everyone else – to be something or someone I’m not.

So many of our values are contradictory when you get right down to it. I can easily invoke them in ways you may find repulsive. I may do or say things you may find repulsive, but ultimately, those are just quirks. I think that beneath my rough edges (and I don’t show them 99.9 percent of the time) lie some interesting and thought-provoking points. Da Blog will continue to be a home for uncensored, unfiltered commentary and thinking. If you don’t like it, just ignore it and focus on the stuff with substance.

I don’t think I made my points as well as I could have. What I’m getting at is that I’m not going to apologize for saying incendiary things out of anger, but that you shouldn’t hold it against me and you shouldn’t let it distract you from everything else. Even that doesn’t describe it well, so I’m open to people suggesting anything better to assuage your fears in the comments.

Because you need the COMPLETE ESPN EXPERIENCE!

I have no words for this.

ESPN Consumer Products, in conjunction with tvCompass, a provider of digital media solutions, announced the release of ESPN The Ultimate Remote, an internet-connected Wi-Fi device that combines advanced home theater control and one-touch real-time access to sports, standings, team information and news.

They’re making an ESPN remote now. Pretty soon you could wake up from an ESPN bed, eat ESPN cereal, brush your teeth with an ESPN toothbrush and ESPN toothpaste, take a shower in your ESPN bathtub, get into your ESPN car, drive to work, do work on your ESPN computer, eat an ESPN lunch, go home, watch ESPN on your ESPN TV, have an ESPN dinner, and go back to the ESPN bed.

Are people really this desperate to never be far from a big glowing ESPN logo?

Strip will be a little late

Several things going on at once and I’m agonizing over the one after this one. The strip may go up as soon as midnight PT, or as late as 10 AM PT.

UPDATE: Gah. Okay, it’s 11 AM PT and the strip is only now going up. Tomorrow’s strip will be in the morning as well, hopefully not this late, and Thursday’s strip might be a little later at night than normal. Just a reminder, have cookies on when browsing the archives. More posts forthcoming later today.