Monday, December 31, 2012

Thirteen Sports Predictions for 2013

Thirteen Sports Predictions for 2013
by Dan Salem and Todd Salem (12-31-12)

In honor of the new year, I have some sports predictions for what 2013 will hold. Rather than being boring and going by sport, I'm taking us month by month.

Here's what is going to happen in January:

(1) Alabama will win the BCS National Championship by more than a touchdown and at least two prominent writers/bloggers will write an article saying that Ohio State deserves to finish number one in the Associated Press rankings.

(2) The voting results for the MLB Hall of Fame will be released and both Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens will get in... by 2015. Sorry, I know I slow-rolled you on that one. Neither guy will receive the required 75% of votes to make it this year but both will be in within the next two votes. I know, I know; it's kind of a long-term prediction but we'll immediately know it's wrong if neither guy comes close to 75% this January.

(3) The NHL lockout will end and the regular season will be under way by the time February rolls around.

(4) The San Francisco 49ers will advance to the Super Bowl, debunking the myth that teams getting hot at the right time always roll through the playoffs.

Tell me where I'm wrong!

I love the month to month predictions, but come on! You only made it to February. This can be a three part post, but I'm going the full third of the year here and will take mine into April.

Starting in January works for me:

(1) Notre Dame, not Alabama, will win the National Championship. I'll go one step further and say they win 28 to 24 on a late game TAINT (that's a touchdown after an interception, as well as a male's unmentionables). Ohio State will also be undefeated, but remain relegated to the outside of the championship discussion.

(2) As for the voting results for MLB Hall of Fame, there's what I wish would happen and then what will happen. This is a progressive time, but Bonds and Clemens will have to wait at least one more year. I'm with you, they get snubbed this year out of principle alone. I'm thinking Bonds gets in next season and Clemens needs one more than that.

(3) I'm not as optimistic about the NHL. The lockout ends, but not until late February at best. They get one month of games at most and cut the playoffs in half to make for an unbelievably thrilling end to a sport that is dying as we speak.

(4) Now to the good stuff, the NFL Playoffs. In the NFC we get a Seahawks vs. 49ers championship game, west coast bias all the way baby! I think the Seahawks snap their road woes and march into San Fran as the hot team so to speak. The 49ers get the best of them this time however and do in fact make the Super Bowl.

In the AFC we get the somewhat predictable outcome of Manning falling flat in the postseason and losing to his old team in round two. The Colts meet the Patriots in the AFC championship, and as a Jets fan it stings to say this, but the Patriots are once again going to the Super Bowl.

Patriots 35, 49ers 28 in a redemption game for Brady who is probably the best quarterback ever. For him to have not won a Super Bowl in nearly a decade is incredible, considering he lost two on defensive breakdowns.  I'll toss you a "Go Giants" out of sympathy. 

With football now behind us its time for pitchers and catchers to report. Oh, and there's a little thing called March Madness! I'm putting it out there, its madness to predict the final four on December 31st, but here goes.

(5) The NCAA Men's Final Four includes Duke, Syracuse, Texas, and NC State. Syracuse over Texas in the finals and Boeheim retires on top.

(6) On to baseball. I'll make a couple of Yankees predictions as they are the only team worth discussing. Before the season kicks off the Yankees will trade for Evan Longoria. The Rays can't afford to keep him long term and this blockbuster is happening. Oh yeah! They will also snatch a closer from the Cardinals as insurance. That team has a ton of bullpen talent.

Tell me where I'm wrong oh Nostratoddmus, sir.  See what I did there?


Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy Holidays from Seesaw Sports!

Happy Holidays from Dan and Todd Salem!

The NY sports scene needs a holiday, so take one with us and enjoy.

Enjoy Seesaw Sports from this past month and ring in the holiday with cheer:

"NFL Parity, where Anyone can Win" - Part One - Part Two

"Fringe Sports, they Do exist" - Part One - Part Two

"College Football, Playoffs or BCS baby!" - Part One - Part Two

Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Playoffs vs BCS - A College Football Fight! (Part Two)

Playoffs vs BCS - A College Football Fight!
by Dan Salem and Todd Salem (12-21-12)

Before you jump right into your crazy ideas about college football let me just say something.  You will like this since I kind of just agree with you.  The NBA and NHL regular seasons are for diehards and the NFL regular season is worrisome, etc, etc.  I'm not particularly concerned, so there.

So, like I was saying, a four team playoff actually makes the college football regular season better. The BCS itself is a unique and special creation, yet I still feel like its missing something. I think the pros of this unique system fail to outweigh the cons of its outcome. Sure, the regular season is extremely meaningful, but with only ten or eleven games on the schedule this will always be true. With the BCS system, a single loss basically removes you from the national title picture, unless luck falls your way and someone else on top loses too. As a fan I hate this. One stinking loss and your team can't be the champion? I cry foul.

I get that the computers determine the best two teams based on everything and numbers and such, but its not that simple. You know what is simple, a four team playoff! Keep it at four and I'm very, very happy. The regular season is no less meaningful, as you still need to win nearly every game to finish in the top four. But now the arbitrary ranking is no longer the be all, end all. The top four teams are always really, really good, but most don't play each other during the regular season outside of the SEC. With the four team playoff we now get even better college football around New Years day, without losing what is already great about the sport, its regular season.  Win, win!

I'm kind of afraid it might not end there, but I'm psyched to evolve away from the two team computer pick into a four team battle for the title.
When the four-team playoff first hit news cycles I was on the side of expanding that to eight teams. Why stop at four? Right off the bat, it seemed like four teams was pointless; either stick with the BCS or go to a playoff with an amount of teams that will make a difference. But since then, I have reversed course. I know, its not normally my style but I can evolve too.  I actually agree with you; a four-team playoff seems ideal for college football. It keeps the sanctity of the regular season in tact, while also adding the excitement of the playoffs where more than two teams have a chance to win. 

With the recent release of the 2012-2013 bowl schedule, the playoffs cannot come soon enough. Now please! This year's batch of BCS bowls is dreadful. With the exception of the National Championship, every other BCS bowl leaves something to be desired or contains a team who really isn't that good. Even Oregon's match against Kansas State (which seemed like a possible title game pairing rather recently) now seems like it could be a blowout in favor of the Ducks.  Boring to say the least.

Unfortunately for college football fans and the NCAA, this season unraveled oddly. The playoffs would have probably contained Notre Dame, Alabama, Florida and Oregon. This would have been delightful and certainly more fun than what the BCS bowls are giving us. But the end of season failures by teams like Kansas State and Oregon, and the way things played out for Georgia, soured the season a little anyways no matter how the champion would be decided.

Slightly tangential, but that's my thing, let's hope Notre Dame loses in the title game, leaving Ohio State as the lone undefeated team, and enough Associated Press voters put the Buckeyes number one so we have a split national championship. Controversy! That seems like a fitting end to this season and a nice precursor for the playoff entrance after next season.  I can't wait.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Playoffs or the BCS - College Football Rules!

Playoffs or the BCS - College Football Rules!
by Dan Salem and Todd Salem (12-17-12)
[Click for Part Two]

I have always been in the small minority of BCS defenders. College football had a simple leg up on all other mainstream sports in that the regular season was paramount. A single loss oftentimes ruined a team's season. This happens in no other sport and things have swung so far in the other direction that, especially in the NBA or NHL, the regular season is almost irrelevant. 

Let's not merely single out those two sports where too many teams make the playoffs, since this has now become the case in pretty much every sport we hold dear. Major League Baseball is a "get in and see" sport through and through. Any team that makes the playoffs has an equally good shot at winning the World Series as any other team. The NFL has veered in nearly the same direction as well. Get hot around Thanksgiving and ride it through January. Woo!  The best teams during the first ten weeks of the football season become afterthoughts; it is simply too hard to be good that long. Even college basketball maintains a system where statement games during the year mean nothing as far as postseason play other than seeding.  Was my rant long enough?

Back to college football and my point. They had this "thing" that no one else had: a perfect regular season. It was peerless. Amazing.  The movers and shakers of amateur pro football decided to remove this in favor of a playoff. For now, the playoff is small and will keep in tact most of what makes college football great, but the slippery slope has gotten wet.  Remember slip and slide, well they just turned on the water so wait for it.

Do you also feel the pointlessness of regular season play in other sports?  Is it as bad a thing as I'm making it out to be?  And did college football remove their grandiose factor or simply trade a good thing away for something equally as appealing?

It's hard to debate three different questions at once, but I believe in you.

I believe in me too...
Personally I love being the only one doing something, or possessing a unique attribute which no one else can match.  College football has this, yet I can't help but think the BCS misses something.  Both your questions are big elephants in the room, so I'll tackle the African grey first.

I hate the watered down feeling of regular season sports, and yet I love it just the same.  It's not a problem; as the final month of the MLB season showed us there can still be hard fought drama to get in the playoffs even with an unbearably long regular season.  I also enjoy the fact that a poor week or month of play doesn't do in a team.  Although the Yankees poor July and August foreshadowed their poor October, it did not prevent them from winning the division in September.  The same can't be said for the NFL, where a bad month of loses can pretty much end a team's season.

I'm hopping between both sides of the fence here because I don't enjoy basketball or hockey enough to watch regular season games which each individually mean next to nothing.  You would think the NBA and the dead carcass of the NHL would try to fix this.  There's often still drama at the end of the  regular season however, so ultimately I'm perfectly happy the way things are.  The regular season is for diehard fans of the sport.  The last month of the season and the playoffs are for people like me, someone who doesn't mind having a few months of the year without meaningful sports.  Its refreshing actually.  Like peppermint schnaps in your coffee on Christmas morning.  Yum.

Back to football.  I'm starting to get annoyed with the NFL, as the regular season being only sixteen games should mean a lot.  It use to mean a lot.  It means a ton in college.  But now being healthy in December and January is all that matters if you make the playoffs.  This is a consequence of the bigger, stronger, faster phenomena and a money grab by the owners adding in Thursday, Saturday, London based and Sunday night games, basically screwing the players over with the schedules.  I hate where its going because the season is being made irrelevant.  Even if we know a team like the Browns is done by week four, we don't know whether a two loss Baltimore (now five loss) is actually good.  Sorry Cleveland, not sorry Baltimore.

I know you'd love meaningful sports year round, but you can put down the liquor bottle and stop drowning your sorrows.  The second elephant, BCS or playoffs, doesn't ruin anything.  

A four team playoff actually makes the college football regular season better.


Friday, December 14, 2012

Fringe Sports part 2 - They do Exist

Fringe Sports part 2 - They do Exist
by Dan Salem and Todd Salem (12-14-12)

Asking why these 'sports' don't have many fans and are fringe is a better question, but its like asking why vegetarianism isn't more popular.  The answer is pretty obvious, but its also a hilarious exercise in making fun of something.  We can answer the question for any given sport and I applaud the excellent job you did putting soccer into a little box of obscurity.  My follow up, three obvious reasons why no one cares about badminton.

1)  Most American's don't consider it a sport at all until the Olympics roll around 
2)  The primary 'ball' is called a shuttle cock 
3)  It isn't something you can play on a team unless you go to prep school and even then you are probably playing Squash instead

Those answers are both serious and sarcastic at the same time, which really sums up badminton in a nutshell.  Now let me try to restate my original question.  

Most of us understand what draws people to sports in general.  ESPN epitomizes what make sports great and why Americans love them so much.  You can't ignore this while watching the network.  However, with extra money comes extended programming, and ESPN now airs things like soccer and bowling and women's basketball among other 'fringe' sports.  So say hypothetically that you can either watch a Major League Baseball game on ESPN2 or Fox, or you can watch bowling on ESPN.  What draws a person who otherwise enjoys sports to pick bowling over a vastly superior product?

I would never watch the WNBA.  That's women's professional basketball for the unfamiliar.  Its akin to water boarding or plucking my chest hairs one at a time.  However, the WNBA has a fan base.  I know, I know, its rather amusing to list why most people don't watch it.  But I'm more interested in the odd balls who enjoy watching women shoot awkward layups instead of why the 'sport' is not very popular in the first place.  That question I can answer while drunk.

You just enjoy observing weirdos, admit it.  Good thing it can be equally as entertaining.  The reason there are people who actually enjoy watching bowling or the WNBA or archery over mainstream sports is the same reason indie bands or underground music exist. People have different tastes. Not everyone likes Maroon 5, Adele or whatever.

There are sports fans who find enjoyment in the fundamentals and ball movement of women's basketball; there are people who marvel at the accuracy and concentration of an archer; there are humans who are hypnotized by the strive for perfection of a bowler going for twelve straight strikes. These people exist.  I'm afraid to see what their home looks like, but they exist.

Now are they real sports fans? Of course not! 

These people are weirdos and should be shunned to dark alleyways.

Thank you for providing us with another reason to avoid dark alleys.  I'd hate to see what kind of weapon a man who enjoys the fundamentals and ball movement of women's basketball is carrying.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Fringe Sports

Fringe Sports
by Dan Salem and Todd Salem (12-10-12)
[Part Two]

Since neither one of us cares a lick about so called 'fringe sports', activities generally requiring physical activity, what do you think it is that draws people to them over otherwise superior mainstream competition?  And we are using the word sport generously here, as many of these activities are barely more than glorified skill competitions.

There are four major sports, since it would be close minded of me to categorize soccer as a fringe sport since its the largest sport in the world.  The four major sports are, in order of popularity, Football/NFL, Baseball/MLB, Basketball/NBA, and Soccer/Football. You'll notice I left off hockey as it's barely hanging on in this country, is currently in another lock out, and has one or two (maybe zero) superstars outside of Canada where its all they care about.  But we can rip apart Canada another day.  Also, its fair to argue over other activities being sports or not, but none are major.

I think you came at this question from the wrong direction. It is not what draws people to a fringe sport that's interesting.  The question is why don't these 'sports' draw enough people, rendering them a fringe sport.  Why don't more people like them?

Obviously there exists in the world humans who are fans of hockey or volleyball or cricket, what have you.  These people exist. They enjoy the ins and outs of a sport that the majority of Americans do not care about.  They enjoy calling their preferred activity a sport because gosh darn it, women's handball is important.  What makes something like volleyball a fringe sport isn't discovered by examining the people who follow it; everyone has different tastes. The fringe aspect is unearthed by finding out what makes it unappealing to the mainstream.  Why is badminton, for example so boring for most of us to watch? 

Take soccer in America.  It's a fringe sport for three obvious reasons:

1) There is very little scoring (read: excitement) in soccer.
2) The field is large, the players small; the action seems distant and uneventful.
3) The best players don't play soccer in America and who wants to follow a minor league?

Remove off-sides from soccer, chop the field down in size and stick the Lebron James' and Adrian Peterson's of the world on the LA Galaxy and maybe we have ourselves a show.  For now, soccer is a vastly inferior television product in America.

Similar arguments apply for most other fringe sports, activities that only draw a minuscule percentage of viewers and fans.

Friday, December 7, 2012

NFL Parity, where Anyone can Win - Part Two

NFL Parity, where Anyone can Win - Part Two
by Dan Salem and Todd Salem (12-7-12)
[Part One]

Clearly, saying Andy Reid is saying enough. But outside of the fat and the mustachio and the Venn diagram where they cross, nothing else in the NFL is known and fans need things to bank on, to keep them sane. Upsets are grand and having the playoff picture muddled for two and a half months is fine, but where is the constant?

Remember that guy from Lost, the one traveling through time... Desmond. Remember how Desmond needed a constant to keep from going crazy (or dying or something)? Well, without a point of reference there's no basis of understanding to the NFL. If any team can go from last to first and vice versa, how are fans supposed to relate and find meaning in the games? Football then goes from a sport with rooting interest to a spectacle with random outcomes.

There is no dumber bet in sports than the preseason predictions of NFL division winners. I need my constant.

I'm glad we both agree on Andy Reid.  And your Lost analogy is a good one, but I do think there are plenty of constants in the NFL for fans to use to stay sane. Yes, teams can go from worst to first, but this is a good thing. However, there are about five teams in the last five to seven years that have always been good, and about five teams that have always been awful.

This constant is more than enough to keep fans sane. This season has thrown a wrench into the whole machine, I can't argue with that, as the usually solid teams have been losing games that one would think they never would. I attribute this to defense and the changing game (a la rules and coaching) more than the unpredictability of how good a team is. The Patriots, Ravens, Steelers, Packers, and Giants have all been good to great for the last five seasons easily. I think by the end of this year they will all have winning records to stand on. And as for the bad teams, well the Browns and Chiefs may stand alone this season, but the Lions, Rams, and Cardinals all are pretty awful on average too.

I find the NFL has lots of constants and I'm thrilled that one team’s victory over another isn't one of them.  Unless we are talking about the Giants over the Patriots of course.

It seems like revisionist history to label teams as consistently good for a five year span. Both the Giants and Packers sneaked into the playoffs the years they won the Superbowl. And they each had seasons recently where they missed the playoffs, the Packers finishing 6-10 as recently as 2008. The AFC squads you mentioned have been more dependable (although I'm not sure who is truly elite this season). Really the turnover in the NFL is the only reliable thing.

Each year divisions flip, playoff teams lose double digit games and bottom dwellers jump up to respectability.  If the NFL has one constant it is in its ability to be consistently not constant and I find that rather disconcerting.  A stronger word might be depressing or eye gouging.

I can't disagree with that, although I want to.  But I'm definitely not depressed.  The NFL is entertainment, a crazy flip flop league that makes so much money from gambling that its in everyone but the fan's best interest to be crazy and flip floppy.  Embrace the chaos.  Anything completely unpredictable will always be entertaining.

Link to header Image

Monday, December 3, 2012

NFL Parity, where Anyone can Win

Welcome to Seesaw Sports!

Welcome to Seesaw Sports, where two brothers from New York jaw back and forth about the hottest sports topics today.  Todd Salem and Dan Salem take turns 'discussing' (read argue) a topic, with each exchange of words spanning two to three posts.

Mondays and Fridays the sports seesaw is here.  On to topic number one.  Enjoy!

NFL Parity, where Anyone can Win
by Dan Salem and Todd Salem (12-3-12) 
[Part Two]

The NFL is ridiculous.  People claim that parity in the sport is awesome, that nothing is better than a team being able to win ‘Any Given Sunday.’  I call bullshit.  The NFL has become a parody (see what I did there?).  If there's no rhyme or reason to what happens in the games, then the sport becomes inexplicable.  Rather than being excited for upsets to occur, we are left to wonder if any team truly ever has an advantage other than the fact that no one believes in them. 

Seriously, what's more important to a team winning on Sundays:   Having a star quarterback or having no one believe they can win? 

The reason people love March Madness so much is because the upsets come in waves, and then by round three or four, we are usually left with some good teams to watch battle for the title.  In years where the Cinderella goes a bit too far, popularity and ratings drop.  No one wants to see that in the Elite Eight.   

The NFL has become just a continuous round of thirty two where anyone can win any game and, after a while, even buzzer beaters become monotonous.

Love the parity in the NFL and it’s definitely more important to have "no one believe you can win."  Playing the “nobody believes in us” card won the NY Giants two Superbowls and the Green Bay Packers one.  Both of those teams do have star quarterbacks, but on a weekly basis in the NFL, playing with your back to wall inspires the entire team and creates wins even when your quarterback is barely above average.  For example, the Ravens.

Definitely love the parity in the league though.  Its completely unpredictable!  It used to be that by week four, week five at the latest, you knew who all the good teams were and could probably envision the playoff picture.  But for at least three seasons now that is completely wrong.  And its amazing!  We need to keep watching, must watch, in order to even figure out who is good in the league.  Plus, any random game can be super awesome and exciting to watch when it comes down to the final two minutes or overtime, which has happened a ton this season by the way.  

Now we have to wait until week ten to see what teams are legit and who may or may not shake out.  The top five teams have distanced themselves and the bottom ten are out of it.  I love this aspect!  And how can you possibly hate on it? 

Its this exact situation that won your team, the Giants, a championship last year.  And its this phenomena that has kept me, as a Jets fan, glued to every game week after week for the last three seasons.  You don't have to go 11-5 to win in the playoffs, and this season you might only need a 9-7 record to get in or win your division.  

The talent is evenly dispersed more so than ever before and personally I love seeing a "talented" team like the Cowboys squander a victory because of poor coaching.  Or Andy Reid.  Andy Reid! 

Enough said.