Sports culture is changing, there’s evidence of it everywhere, and nowhere does it seem more prevalent than from a fan’s ever improving point of view. Between HDTV, discussion, debate, and even live game broadcasts streaming regularly on the internet, smart phones and the advent of social explosions like Facebook and Twitter, and don’t even get me started on NFL RedZone, we seem to be moving closer and closer to a point in time where the best place to enjoy the action isn’t the 50-yard line or behind home plate, the best seat in the house, is indeed in the house.
Here’s how Monday looked and Tuesday is shaping up from my perspective, from the best seat…In the house.
Random Ravens Related Rants: As much as we seem to be painting a match up with the Steelers this week as must win, it seems pretty clear that two teams from the AFC East and two from the AFC North will likely be in the playoffs. Someone will win the West and South respectively, but in some order, the Ravens, Steelers, Jets and Patriots seem all but assured to make the playoffs. All that seems to be up for debate at this point is who’ll win their divisions and enjoy home field and a likely first round bye, and who’ll take to the road to start the playoffs as wildcards.
Remember before the 2009 season, when the Ravens requested the league stop sending them to Pittsburgh in primetime, claiming it was a consistent disadvantage? Since that infamous request, not only have the Ravens been spared the trip to Pittsburgh in primetime, but the Steelers have been charged with heading to Baltimore instead for primetime football now twice. The first time, the Ravens beat a Dennis Dixon led Steelers team in OT. Is the league really doing Baltimore a solid here, or trying to put them in a position to eat their words?
I’m sure that I’m not the only one feeling salty about purple towels being distributed at M&T Bank Stadium for Sunday’s game. Do we really want to be showcased on national television looking like a cheap imitation of our most hated rivals? The folks in charge of marketing this thing should know better. Instead of giving Ravens fans something to rally around and be excited about, they have given fans a reason to be divisive, as some will surely be emphatically waving their towels in the sightline or faces of folks who are feeling completely disgusted with the whole notion of towel waving. Count me amongst the latter for the record.
Here’s what I saw last night from the best seat…in the house.
Heat 105 – Wizards 94
I wouldn’t take this as a sign of resurgence or anything on the part of the Miami Heat. Riley’s Angels still have lots of work to do, but for one night at least, winning, and the Wizards (2 words that don’t often go together) proved to be great deodorant for a locker room that’s clearly beginning to stink.
To their credit the Wiz were short handed, going into last night’s contest without the services of John Wall, now for the 6th time in the last 8 games. Hilton Armstrong was in the starting lineup for the Wiz last night, as JaVale McGee started the game in reserve due to back spasms. McGee still played 26 minutes collecting 6 points 10 rebounds and a pair of blocks off the bench. Armstrong was limited to 17 minutes in his rare start after being ejected from the game on a flagrant 2 technical against the Heat’s Joel Anthony. Armstrong finished the night with 2 points and 4 boards.
In addition to Armstrong’s ejection, former Wizard Juwan Howard saw the door as well for his retaliatory shove to the back of Armstrong after the tech. Kirk Hinrich and James Jones were also assessed technicals for getting a little pushy with each other, but otherwise the Wiz couldn’t find much of a spark, and may have helped to galvanize and ignite the Heat in the process.
Miami’s big 3 all chipped in 20 points or more, as Bosh finished the night with 20 points and 7 boards, Dwayne Wade poured in 26 points of his own along with 8 rebounds and 6 assists and LeBron James led all scorers in the game with 30 points 6 boards and 5 assists. Gilbert Arenas, pressed back into the starting lineup as a result of Wall injury led the Wizards with 26 points and added 5 rebounds and 7 assists on the night.
Despite their win last night, Miami’s slow start has led to rumors about Erik Spolestra’s future, or lack thereof. Despite the addition of Eric Dampier, who debuted for the Heat last night, they still look remarkably incomplete, even in dispatching of an undermanned Wizards team. It’s my best guess that Pat Riley would only take advantage of the opportunity to insert himself onto the Heat bench if he felt that they had a reasonable chance to compete for a title. I’m betting that for as long as the Heat continue to look, on the court, like they have, that Riley will be perfectly content to sit back and let Spolestra absorb the criticism. We’ll see, this one is probably going to have to get worse before it really gets better.
49ers 28 Cardinals 6
Outside of the Troy Smith vs. Derek Anderson angle that may have gotten a little bit of local interest as both are former Ravens’ QBs, there didn’t seem to be many compelling reasons to expect this one to be very interesting. If you tuned in with that in mind, then you couldn’t have been disappointed, otherwise, you likely were.
In what looked to be a pedestrian effort on both sides, the Niners proved themselves much more adept pedestrians than the Cardinals on Monday night. I wonder how bad Matt Leinhart is looking to the Cardinals and their fans right now. I wonder if calls have been made to Kurt Warner, as the NFC West title never seems quite out of reach for any team.
If the Niners are the best that the NFC West has to offer, or even close, then to quote Dennis Green, “they are who we thought they were”, the whole division.
Frank Gore left the game early for San Francisco, with 5 carries for 52 yards, and although Brian Westbrook (in LT like fashion) conjured up a version of his former self for last night at least with 23 carries for 136 yards and a TD and Anthony Dixon chipped in too with 14 carries for 54 yards and a TD, Gore’s availability, or lack thereof has to be a major concern for them team going forward. Reports are saying that his hip is broken,
For those who did manage to hang in for the whole boring contest, your patience was rewarded with Derek Anderson’s post game meltdown. Apparently, Anderson was taken to task by a member of the press for being too cheery on the sidelines at the end of the blowout, so he gave the reporter a taste of what he was looking for with a pretty funny tirade. Here it is:
From the Box Scores: NCAA Basketball – Virginia 87 #17 Minnesota 79
The Cavaliers stared off the ACC / Big 10 Challenge on a good foot with an upset at Minnesota, in a game that according to the highlights played a lot closer that it looked in the box.
Here’s what on tonight:
The ACC / Big 10 Challenge resumes on Tuesday night, providing fans with wall-to-wall basketball action. Keep in mind that the ESPN3 listings are available on your computer, so you can keep an eye on those while watching your game of choice on TV.
7 pm – Georgia Tech @ Northwestern ESPN2
7 pm – Iowa @ Wake Forest ESPNU
7 pm – Boston U @ #11 Kentucky ESPN3
7 pm – Cornell @ #7 Syracuse ESPN3
7: 30 pm – #2 Ohio State @ Florida State
The Buckeyes are ranked second in the nation and it’s hard to tell much more about them. They’re led by a veteran backcourt of David Lightly, William Buford and Jon Diebler along with Dallas Lauderdale back up front, but with 3 freshmen logging serious minutes, Ohio State will be worth a watch tonight. Freshmen forwards Jared Sullinger and Deshaun Thomas are logging serious minutes and putting up serious points so far, as is freshman guard Aaron Craft.
The Seminoles return a big and savvy team all the way around, built primarily around junior Chris Singleton. The only guy seeing any amount of serious playing time that hasn’t been in the system logging big minutes for at least a year is JUCO transfer, Bernard James a 6’9″, 240 pound power forward. The Noles lost to the Buckeyes in last year’s challenge 77-64.
7:30 pm – New Hampshire @ UConn MASN
9 pm – Michigan @ Clemson ESPN2
9 pm – UTEP @ New Mexico State ESPN3
9 pm – #14 Georgetown @ #8 Missouri ESPNU
Obviously anytime two teams with little numbers next to their names match up this early; it’s an easy indicator that it’s a game worth watching.
9:30 pm – North Carolina @ #24 Illinois ESPN
After watching the Illini in consecutive nights in the 2K Sports, Coaches vs. Cancer Tourney, one of which was against the Terps, this should be an interesting measuring stick before ACC play begins. Plus it will be my first chance to lay eyes on Harrison Barnes, the early favorite to be the 1st overall pick in next years NBA draft.
There are 3 NBA games on local TV, to my knowledge on Tuesday night. All are somewhat secretive. Two of the games are playing on a channel that’s listed on my channel guide as TEAM (channel 787 on Comcast in Baltimore County). The third is on NBA network, but teams are not listed. It does however show an 8 pm start time, if that’s correct, than it must be Lakers at Grizzlies, as that’s the only game listed with an 8 pm tip time.
7 pm – Portland @ Philadelphia TEAM
The Blazers and Brandon Roy in particular have been killing my fantasy team so far this season. I doubt I’ll be turning off college hoops to subject myself to this.
8 pm – LA Lakers @ Memphis (probably) NBA Network
The Lakers have struggled lately, and Phil Jackson is getting cranky in his old age.
10 pm – Indiana @ Sacramento TEAM
The Pacers are quickly becoming one of this year’s must sees.
I’m not much of a hockey fan, but these listing kind of make me wish I were. Like the TEAM channel that gives a look in on a local NBA broadcast almost every night, the NHL has a similar offering (as does MLB in season) on channel 786 on my Baltimore County digital cable. This shows up on my channel guide as GAMED, and like the TEAM channel doesn’t require the league’s all access subscription.
7 pm – Tampa Bay @ Toronto GAMED
8 pm – St. Louis @ Chicago Versus
10 pm – Atlanta @ Colorado GAMED
10:30 pm – Detroit @ San Jose NHL Network