The games people play

Well, we’ve reached that time of year where one of the big US sports is just getting over the hype of the draft, and the so called experts are trying to work out what it all means. In truth, until those people make it, or otherwise this summer, we wont even start to see what the outcome of that is. But yes, NFL is desperately trying to keep itself in the news, so…

Two of the other ‘Big 4’ are now in the middle of their playoffs, and the loosest (and it is loose) interest I have in either, is Anaheim in the NHL. Its close to LA, and any team called the Ducks has to be worthy of support lol! Still as all US sports seem to do, the playoffs take on a life of their own, for a month or more!

So soon, for a couple of months at least, America’s favorite summer sport will take over events, baseball! Oh, and probably my favorite too, though I will watch football, both pro, and college, when I get the chance. Later this month, for the first time in over 18 months, I will get to see live baseball again, in the flesh. Yes, Dodgers, so sue me! 😛 In truth, you can get a seat for not that unreasonable a price, especially compared to soccer over here, and the NFL over there. Yes, you can pay a ridiculous sum for a seat, but I wont be doing that! No, not commenting on food prices, but yes, I will get some, all the same… One game, definitely, two if I can fix it, but if you twisted my arm, I’d probably say one will be as good as it gets!

Over here, the soccer season is also coming to an end, and talking of drawn out hype, we now have play offs to decide the last promotion position. Not quite as drawn out as play offs in the US, but even so…Oh fine, my local team, Huddersfield, and the team from the town where I work, Bradford City, are both in their respective play offs, so I’m told. Yes, that will be the only mention of it I plan to make! Well, I suppose if Huddersfield make the Premier League, I might, but otherwise…

Right, video time. A real oldie, which I doubt many of my readers have heard before, but I remembered it, and it seemed apt, so…

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The winner has to take it all?

I must admit, as someone who was brought up around cricket, and soccer, the idea of a draw, at the end of a sporting match just seems natural to me. However, when it comes to US sports, it seems the concept of a draw, at the end of a match, seems a complete anathema to them. Yes, fine, in knock out competitions in the sports listed above, and seemingly nowadays, at the end of that ghastly 20 over form of cricket, a winner is needed, but at other times, its fine for the game to end as a draw.

Of the ‘Big 4’ American Sports, the only one nowadays that can even theoretically have a draw, is the NFL. And that only after a 15 minute overtime period, so they dont happen all that often. The other 3, there must be a winner. Basketball just plays overtime periods until there is a winner, Ice Hockey goes to a shootout after overtime, until a winner is decided, and Baseball, well, the match just goes on forever, until there is finally a winner!

At least with Ice Hockey, and team losing beyond the standard 60 minutes, gets a consolation point for its efforts. The other 3, well you might as well have been thumped in the standard period, you get nothing! And last night, 3 baseball matches went on, well, forever! The amusing thing, I’ve got to see the recorded version of 2 of them today, albeit cut, to keep them within the 3 to 3.5 hour range for viewers. The ironic thing, the longest one, the game in Washington, playing Minnesota which lasted a marathon 16 innings, is the one I havent seen.

Next in the order of dragging things out, was the game between Pittsburgh, and Arizona. It lasted 13 innings, and basically, both teams ran out of players. Indeed, Arizona ended up with a pitcher playing in left field at the end, had completely ran out of available bodies. Not helped by the fact that one of their players got ejected (sent off), but even so…Not helped by the fact that being a National League game, players get substituted quite often towards the end, anyway. I assume the same happened in Washington, though as I havent seen that one, so?

The last one, which at 12 innings, was the, err, shortest, was the American League game at Houston, against Boston. Still lasted more than 5 hours, mind!

All this, because American sports seemingly must have a winner! Funnily enough, no, I’ve never yet been to a Baseball game that went to overtime, phew! Of course, none of this gets close to the longest baseball game, a mere 33 innings! The longest MLB game, 26 innings! And the latter still didnt produce a winner, it was in the days before floodlights (1920), and darkness ended the game! 25 is the longest, with a result!

Baseball, I love you, but seriously…

OK, the video. What seemingly has to be the case, in so many American sports!

How long!

The thing with many sports over here, is that we can settle for a draw, a team doesnt have to win every time they play. Indeed with football, that can be a blessing at times, as some games I’ve had the misfortune to see at work would probably end up 0-0 if they played for 3 days. Of course in cricket, they do play for 3,4 or even 5 days, and the game still ends up a draw.

But over in the good old USA, they dont go in for draws, or not if they can really help it. Well, alright, in soccer they do, but otherwise…The NFL can have a regular season tie, but only after an extra 15 minute period when neither team scores, and yes, they are pretty rare. In the play offs, they do carry on until there is a winner, but even then, one period of overtime is usually enough.

The NHL has one period of overtime, but after that they go into a sudden death shootout to get a result, they dont go on forever. The NBA does continue with overtime periods until a winner is found, but the nature of scoring here tends to get a result in 1, at most, 2 periods of overtime.

But then we come to Baseball. Last night, just after 6 pm, I got home, and ESPN America were just about to start showing Texas playing at Toronto. When I went to bed, at 10.50 pm, they were still playing, at the end of the 15th innings. At that point I gave up, but its still the most innings of baseball I’ve ever seen in a single game. They finally decided it after 18 innings apparently. The thing is, it wasnt even the longest game of the day, Miami and the NY Mets went a mind numbing 20 innings before a winner was decided. Seriously, is the need for a winner really that great? Both of those are the equivalent of 2 normal games, or more!

And seriously, no, they are nowhere near the record for the longest game, that stands, and will probably always stand at 33 innings, back in 1981, between Pawtucket and Rochester, two teams I actually saw play a normal length game back in April. That did stretch to two nights, but 32 innings were played on the first night, play ending at 4.19 am!

So, in tribute to the MLB, and its desire for a winner in every game, I offer…

I went to a fight…

…And a game of Ice Hockey broke out. Yes, I know, its an old joke, but for me at least, a pretty apt one, as the only 2 games I’ve seen live both included at least 1 fight!

Why do I mention this now, well, isnt it obvious, the NHL season finally gets under way tomorrow, almost as late as a Trans Pennine Express train, and a much reduced service, looks again at my ‘wonderful’ train company lol! In case you’re wondering, no this ranks no higher than a distant 3rd for me in the ‘big 4’ American Sports, only beating the NBA for me. Comes 2nd in terms of regular season matches watched though, but only with 2, a long, long way behind baseball!

I sort of follow (extremely loosely) the Buffalo Sabres, for my pains. Hey, its only because I was following the Bills, Buffalo had an ice hockey team, and so…Funnily enough, their ‘junior’ team in the AHL happens to be in Rochester, but guess what, their last home game (unless they make playoffs) is the Saturday I arrive in town, so no, I’m not likely to add to my collection. I assume even in the AHL that playoff games (should they make them?) sell out to regulars anyway? If not, I might add to my collection, but…There will also be an indoor football league game on the Sunday in Rochester, but its a few miles out of town, so not sure if I will be able to get there or not. If I can, that will be my sports fix for sure, though. Roc City Thunder, I’ll give them a shout, who knows where it might lead? Rochester Americans are the ice hockey team, being fair to one and all.

This weekend, there are also a couple of more important NFL games, not that sadly due to timing, and an early start back to work on Monday, that I shall see much of them. Well, one half of one, none of the other in fact! I suspect the parking at Patriot Place might be quite full on Sunday evening lol. Yes, despite being divisional rivals of my team, I’ll have to cheer for them, I’ve been to their place this year. Stood outside the stadium, visited their excellent display, and had my picture taken ‘wearing’ a Superbowl ring too. Oh, and saw the trophies too! No, I dont think Kate, or the Patriots brainwashed me to say that, I’d have enjoyed it far too much to forget that lol! Hopefully the 49ers as well, given thats the 2 cities I know and love that are left.

Right, the video, back to the ice hockey joke!

Hall of fame

Its funny, this seems to be very much an American idea that hasnt yet caught on over here. Pretty thankful for that in all honesty, as I can think of nothing worse than mentally challenged football (soccer version) players over here trying to make speeches. Mind, with there egos, everyone of them would probably think they should be in the Hall of Fame anyway! But besides…

The only one I’ve actually been to so far, is what I would term one of my lesser interests, the NHL one, in Toronto. But yes, it was interesting to see all the history there, especially some of the equipment they used in the dim, distant past, quite frightening how little protection they really had! Clearly the 2 of more interest to me would be the MLB one, and the one that is the reason for this blog today, the NFL.

I know, not everybody can be in it, but seriously, no Jim Plunkett, thats the big omission for this fan of the game. Well alright, Steve Tasker too, but that might be more biased lol! But what happens of more significance this weekend, as long as the inductions, is the first game of pre season, strangely enough called the Hall of Fame game! Made more interesting, given all the furore this spring, by the fact that New Orleans are in it. But Sean Payton isnt lol! Anyway, enough of all that…

What it does mean is that its only 5 weeks to full season starting, and something for us NFL fans to look forward to. Maybe Buffalo can even make the play offs this year, I’m more hopeful than in recent years, it has to be said. No, I cant see us winning the division unless something happens to Tom Brady, but play off chances, most definitely. Will I be saying that in a few months time, lets wait and see! Hopefully I will get to see the Bills on TV at some point this season at least.

The song, what could be more apt this weekend, than…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x8W24Ny4ahQ