I love NHL hockey. More specifically I love the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They are the most dramatic postseason in all of sports: an almost three month grind with the end goal of holding over your head the same trophy that Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Rocket Richard did when they won it all in their eras.
Like many things in life just because it is the best does not mean it is the most popular. The NHL and Gary Bettman seem determined to keep the Stanley Cup Playoffs the best sports tournament that hardly anyone watches.
They do not allow you to watch any games online without buying a pass: “GameCenter Live”. When you are the NFL and are massively popular that makes sense. For a niche sport that should not be a niche it boggles my mind to make that move.
The worst part of their gambit is that they make you think that you can watch any out of market game for free. I happily clicked on the link to the Predators-Blue Jackets game tonight, it started to play and I began to write a nice piece about how the Mayor of Munchkinland finally got one right. I was willing to admit that he was not a total putz, until he proved once again that he is.
Then came the pop up: I was offered the chance to sign up for all out of market games for the low, low price of eighty dollars. Who do they think they are, the NCAA Basketball Tournament? Oh, that’s right the NCAA gave all of their games online for free in addition to being wildly popular. So that is two strikes against the NHL.
What a huge opportunity that the NHL is missing here to reach people,offering premium sports content for free. How many “GameCenter Live” passes could they have sold? I am willing to bet that they could make at least that much if they sold the online advertising for each game. Habs fans alone would give them the numbers they need to sell a nice block of time to Zellers, Labatts or Tim Hortons.
I know this all seems very selfish and in some ways it is: I want to watch the Preds. But I also love hockey and want to see it grow. Mr. Bettman, free the games up on the Net. Grow your game, look past the bottom line of today and forwards towards a continued growth of the game.
Oh yeah, quit being a putz.
Here are my picks for tonight:
#3 seed UConn over #2 seed San Diego State
#1 seed Duke over #5 seed Arizona
#3 seed BYU over #7 seed UCLA (ummm)
#5 seed Kansas State over #8 seed Butler – the slam dunk pick of the week…
Wait, there is something rotten in the “Calhoun Cheats” bracket at espn.com. (By the way there should be far more of these. I should have had to choose “Calhoun Cheats 3:16″ or “Ca1h0un Ch3t5, l33t” in order to get it through. He did cheat, sorry Huskies fans.
That was how I drew it up in my bracket. Other than the last prediction things are not as dire on this side of the bracket as it would seem. Complete disaster is on the other side where my heart and bracket were broken by Scoop Jardine with some help from Marquette and Notre Dame, who took the dump everyone but me predicted.
Who I really like tonight? I’ll stick with my initial thought on the top 3 and flip Butler in over Wisconsin, since the Badgers helped crap all over my prospects of winning with their ouster of Kansas State – which by the way another bad call, it was a bad call Ripley. Bad call? You picked a Big XII team other than the Kansas Jayhawks – your bracket is dead Burke, dead.
Sorry for that delusional “Aliens” aside, where my brain decided I was a split personality of both Paul Reiser and Rambolina herself: Sigourney Weaver. That is a troubling pairing to have in your head, if even for a short time. I kept making lists and hemming and hawing about point 1 and B and then yelling at myself to get it together Gorman! Dammit!
As to tomorrow’s games, they are too painful to prognosticate. I think Marquette will have tough sledding without Scoop Jardine there to feed they the pill and I am rooting for VCU to avenge my bracket; bitterness, they name is Rob.
I should have known that my bracket was doomed. In a year where you cannot count on a Tom Izzo team to make at least the Elite Eight what hope to common men like me have? There is always next year, and the inevitable heart and bracket ache that it will bring.
Go whomever is playing a team that has beaten Syracuse in the last 5 years in the tourney. It does not have a nice ring, but it sure rings true at least to this dour fan.
For what its worth: My Final Four Picks:
- East: No.4 seed Kentucky Wildcats
- West: No.1 seed Duke Blue Devils
- Southeast: No. 5 seed Kansas State Wildcats
- Southwest: No. 2 seed Notre Dame Fighting Irish
I have Notre Dame winning it all.
A note to the NCAA, and the CBS,TBS,TNT and TruTV broadcast teams: No matter how you might try to sell it the games today and tomorrow are not “Second Round Games”, the are “First Round Games”. If you must have the joke that are the Tuesday and Wednesday games call them the “Opening Round Games”, as you have in the past.
Speaking of the “Opening Round” make all of the teams playing 16 seeds. Why should a 12 seed ( who are almost always competitive in first round games) have to play another game to get into the real Dance?
The Anti-Big East Bias was a fix when the brackets were announced. How else could you explain 4 Big East teams in one region (East)? If you have 11 teams in the field, there should be 3 tops in each bracket. The press on “Selection Sunday” all but called their shot, saying they think the Big East will struggle. Way to go out on a limb, what are the chances of 11 teams all doing well, especially after a punishing regular season against 6 or 7 of the top 25 teams in the land for two months.
The narrative continued tonight in spite of the facts. At 9:10 I was on an elliptical, watching the BYU- Wofford game on CBS when they cut back from commercial with a graphic that said that the Big East was 1-1.
At that time the Big East was 2-1 (with Pitt and WVU winning and Pitino’s boys falling). But they wanted to talk or display the Big East faltering. UConn was up 30 at the time as well. I expect the Big East to have some rough moments due to the reason above – they beat the crap out of each other all regular season and had to bring it against a ridiculaous amount of top contenders night after night. Physical and mental fatigue are sure to be a storyline for the Big East teams.
Michigan State has been my go to team in recent years. I love Tom Izzo, he has done me well. But I had to let him go this year. In spite of being a 10 seed it was still hard for me. I’ll be back Tom, but this year I have you bowing out to UCLA in the first round.
Other upset picks:
- No.12 seed Richmond over no. 5 seed Vanderbilt. I know it already happened, but I had that.
- No 11 seed Gonzaga over no. 6 seed St. John’s. See I am not a total Big East homer.
- No 11 Missouri over no. 6 seed Cincinnati ditto…
I did have Louisville as 1 of 5 Big East teams in the sweet 16…Rick did me wrong.
As of writing this I am in the top .01 percent of picks on ESPN. I expect by the end of the evening I will drop. It is the beauty and the pain of March Madness: one moment the king, the next the fool.