A few random sports thoughts and notes on this Thanksgiving, the best of all American sports holidays.
1) I understand where the NBA is coming from with their new "low tolerance" policy on arguing with the refs. The referees had gotten so bad, and the players so whiny, that every single call (or no-call) was followed by 15-30 seconds of a player filling the refs ear. I can't imagine that was very much fun for the refs, and it certainly didn't enhance my enjoyment of the game. I think it also exacerbated foul trading. If a call was missed, the players would make sure to point it out, and the refs would whistle a "make-up call" within a few minutes. This of course perpetuated the problem. Then the league decided to put in a new rule that owners weren't allowed to complain to the refs from the sidelines either. The new policies, combined with what must be more scrutiny of the refs by the league, has meant less whining, and more basketball.
Here's the problem though. The refs still aren't perfect (shock!). In this great democracy of the USA, the players and fans (and owners) are used to being able to voice our grievances. It is the players right to collect $20,000 per night and complain about the injustice that is before him. Honestly, it really is. The players need a forum for bringing real issues up with the refs. There are legitimate times when a ref may not see something that another player is doing, and it needs to be pointed out ("Watch next time down, he's grabbing my jersey when I setup in the post"). Right now, the players are going to be afraid to do that.
I think the NBA needs to adopt a more NHL-like method of captaincy where one person (could be a player, could be an assistant coach, could be the ball-boy) has the right to calmly go up to the ref to talk something over. Right now this is turning into something of a dictatorship, which isn't fun for anybody, and just frustrates fans and players alike.
2) I found a cool site that does computer-based power rankings of teams in all major professional sports leagues (including NCAA football, my least favorite of the pro leagues). I like the fact that it simply uses win/loss records. No point differentials or other stats that discourage sportsmanship. Just pure numbers. It basically ranks all the teams and how they perform home vs. away, against top opponents vs. bottom, last 10 games, etc. Then uses formulas to rank everyone. I especially like it right now because it has the Predators 4th, ahead of teams with better records, and has the Spurs second only to the Jazz. I also love that they have Oregon State (6-4) and Arizona (5-5) in the top 25. I don't really care myself, but i know that's got to be driving some people nuts, and for me, the more chaos there is in college football rankings, the closer we are to a much needed playoff system.
3) While i'm on the topic of Spurs vs. Jazz...
I love that the Jazz are doing so well this year. I honestly hope they keep it up. Why? Because i hate them. I grew up hating them. Jerry Sloan and the combo of Malone, Stockton, and Hornacek were dirty and got away with murder and weren't nice and...yeah. I hated them. Everyone in San Antonio did. So i am thrilled to see them doing well again, hoping that the rivalry is brought back, even if they aren't in our divisional anymore.
4) Lastly, GooTube has made a deal with the NHL to carry games online for free. The whole game, online, free to watch. Wow. Just wow. The NBA has had games up for a bit, but they charge money for them. These are totally free. I've read different articles saying that the games are supposed to only be online and free for 24 hours and such, but right now there are 10 Predators games up and free to watch in their entirety. They also have some classic old games, like the 1989 or 1967 Stanley Cup Finals. Old School. Best of all - they ENCOURAGE users to make their own "fan clips" to be featured online. That is so cool.
I know this was a kinda whiny post for Thanksgiving, so here's what i'm thankful for: 1) A place where i can whine and think someone cares about it. 2) Spell check. Never could have used the word exacerbate without it :-)