Time for a Fresh Look

OK…we’re in 2021….hoping that it’ll be much better than ’20 and many are intending to take some fresh new looks. That holds true in the sports world also.
….Let’s start with a fresh look @ the Bowl Games. Right now there are only 3 significant bowls(2 semifinal games & Championship bow), yet there are 42 scheduled bowls! 42!! Now due to covid we were lucky enough that 16 bowls were cancelled! I’m sure no one lost any sleep over missing any of these meaningless bowls. There are WAY TOO MANY bowl games that really mean nothing. Why do they REALLY play these games? Because they bring in money for the schools, to the local communities..& of course…television. The number of Bowls has continued to increase—watering down the product. Way back In 1960 there were just 9 bowl games with 7 for “major” schools. In 1970, still only 11 bowl games with 9 aimed at the “major” programs. By 1980 there were 15 bowls with 14 fielding the “big boys”. By 1990 there were 19 Bowl games, 2000 had 25 bowl games by 2010 it had jumped to 35 bowl games.
…Originally, Bowls recognized the really strong, good teams. Generally in 1960, each team had won 7 of 10 games. Now , sadly, to get into a bowl a team must hold a pedestrian .500 record to qualify.. not .500 in conference… but including all those cupcake games in September. Currently schools are required to sell “x” number of tickets or… buy them. That requirement has been lowered to 12, 500 from 17, 500 tickets by most bowl committees. For the highest level bowls, schools can resell those tickets in a blink. But…in the smaller bowls, it may be a struggle to sell the tickets. In 2011, Connecticut reported that it lost $1.6 million on its Fiesta Bowl trip because of $2.6 million in unsold tickets. What does that tell you about the real interest in these games? Sure…the players have fun and their fans can brag about being a “bowl team”. But really… are these bowl games meaningful in ANY real way? Further, this year several players opted out of bowl games due to possible injuries or to work on their “pro” skills. So, some teams fielded squads without their key players(e.g Florida) …how fair was that to the paying customers? I wrote last week that I felt that players who opted out of playing any games, including bowls, should be removed from all scholarship benefits…immediately.
…Fresh look @ Bowl games for next year—Use the Bowl Game to establish a 32 team national championship bracket. The Winners of each of the Major 5 Conference get a 1st round BYE. The other 22 teams would be the champions of the MAC, Mountain West, Conference USA conferences as well as the other best teams from the entire country. No seeding… draw spots in the brackets out of hat and play in that spot. By drawing teams out of hat, teams could play any opponents, even from their own conference! There probably would be some mis-matches in the drawings….so what! This proposal would actually make the Bowls a national tournament. There would actually be a National Champion winning it on the field…not from the press box.
….It was a real fresh look….one that hadn’t been seen since 1994..Mizzou, Illinois & SLU all ranked in the top 25basketball poll in one week. Congrats to all the local guys!
….In the Heisman voting, many voters took a fresh approach this year. Davonta Smith, Alabama wide receiver, was named the Heisman Trophy winner for this year. This award ALMOST always goes to Quarterbacks & Running Backs. However, some voters took a fresh look this year. He is 6th end/wide receiver to win this award given the best collegiate player of the year. The first end to win it was in the 2nd year of the award—Larry Kelly, Yale, 1936. Other ends/WR were end Leon Hart (ND) in 49, Johnny Rodgers was the 1st wide receiver 1972, Tim Brown from ND 1987, Desmond Howard in 91 from Michigan. This award is very appropriate in 2020. It seems to me that the real “playmakers” of the big time teams are the wide receivers! The role of running back has been diminished by most teams. Sure..they most have some running game, but the big plays come from the wideouts. Davota Smith typlified this style.
…the Blues are certainly skating down a fresh new path. Some of their key, experienced leaders of the past years have departed. Alex Pietrangelo signed with Vegas, Alex Steen retired, Jay Bouwmeester retired after his medical scare frightened everyone. Instead, more is expected….if that’s possible…. of Colton Parayko & Vince Dunn on the back line. I’m hoping that defenseman Justin Faulk elevates his play and starts to approach our expectations when we acquired him. Despite their expectations, he was a fizzle on the power play last year, One of my favorites for his passing skills & speed, Robert Thomas should have more ice time. I luv his vision, slick pass work. I wished that he’d shoot more often. Mike Hoffman, former Bruin, should help provide some muscle and goals around the net. I’m happy with the new captain, Ryan O’Reilly. He sets a real example of hard, long work on the ice. I was surprised that Vladimir Tarasenko was disappointed that he wasn’t named the captain….come on big boy….ya gotta be on the ice to be a leader. His continuing shoulder injuries aren’t your fault but….. you can’t lead from training room.
…Maybe a fresh look should be taken at Tom Brady? Up until now, Brady was viewed as the robotic, mechanical man executing the Wizard’s , Bill Belichick, impeccable schemes. Now wearing the Tampa Bay uniform, Brady has shed that label and led the NFC Conference in passing yards; led the Bucs to 11 wins – that was last achieved in Tampa in 2005. TB swam in the NFL playoff waters for the 1st time since 2007. This will be Brady’s 41st Playoff game in the NFL and he holds a 30-10 record in playoff games…almost twice as many wins as the #2 QB in that area (Playoff wins)—16 by Joe Montana.
….it’s a Fresh look in New York for the Mets. NYM acquired 2B Francisco Lindor as the major piece in a “steal” of a deal with Cleveland. Lindor is 27 years old…so he’s still @ peak production years… a career .285 batter, averaged 29 HR, 86 rbi & 21 steals in his 6 MLB years. He would have been a free agent at the end of the year. Also acquired was Carlos Carrasco a starting pitcher who is still a viable #3 starter but is on the downside of his career at 33 years old. He carries a $14m salary with a $3m buyout next year. The Indians acquired a package of “prospects” but clearly Cleveland was salary dumping.
….there isn’t any fresh look here….that silent sound is the sound of all the owners rushing to sign MLB free agents. Adding to the financial squeeze (if billionaires can EVER by really be squeezed?) is the new contract with ESPN. ESPN paid the MLB $550m/year in the just signed contract reducing it from $700m/year in the previous contract. The owners & players better be careful! From my view, the MLB off season is beginning to look like another ugly off-season. If this persists, fan interest which drives sponsorship, TV, and attendance will continue to plummet.
….Thanks for staring through my Fresh looks…. Comments are cordially invited. I don’t expect everyone… or anyone…. to agree with me on everything..come on! Put them on a comment here, on Facebook, or just send them to me. Thanks!

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