What to Watch Fri. 6/27 – Sun. 6/29

All times are PST

Friday June 27th

2014 NHL Draft – 4pm NBCSN: Follow up Thursday’s NBA Draft with the NHL’S. It’s draft madness.

LA Angels @ KC Royals – 5pm MLB.TV: Two of the better teams in the American League with a good pitching match up. Worth tuning in for a bit.

Sporting KC @ Portland Timbers – 8pm MLS LIVE: It’s Friday night in the Rose City and the defending MLS Cup Champs are in town. Sounds like a nice way to kick off a weekend.

Saturday June 28th

World Cup 2014: Brazil v Chile – 9am ABC: Brazil is not as good as everyone thinks but they are unbeatable at home. Or are they?

Seattle Sounders @ DC United – 4pm MLS LIVE: The top team in the West visits the top team in the East.

Boston Red Sox @ New York Yankees – 4:15pm FOX: It’s one of the best rivalries in all of sports and it’s Jon Lester (8-7 ) vs  Masahiro Tanaka (11-2).

UFC Fight Night: Cub Swanson v Jeremy Stephens – 8:30pm(ish) FS1: Another two event day on two different continents for the UFC. This main event fight should be the best among all the fights.

Sunday June 29th

World Cup 2014: Netherlands v Mexico – 9am ESPN: Mexico’s manager has the best expressions this side of Rafa Benitez but it may not be enough to beat the Dutch.

World Cup 2014: Costa Rica v Greece – 1pm ESPN: Costa Rica is the surprise team of the tournament. Does the dream continue?

Hamilton Tiger-Cats @ Saskatchewan Roughriders – 4pm ESPN3: It’s a rematch of last years Grey Cup. Ti-Cats have a new QB at the helm in Zach Collaros and the Roughriders are without their star RB from last year Kory Sheets because he signed with the Oakland Raiders.

Boston Red Sox @ New York Yankees – 5pm ESPN: Not a bad way to cap off the weekend.


Tastes Like Italian

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

Uruguay beat Italy today to advance to the round of 16 in the 2014 World Cup. That’s not what people are talking about though. People are talking about Uruguay’s Luis Suarez apparently bitting Italian Giorgio Chiellini and a controversial red card to Claudio Marchisio. In the end though, Italy has nothing to complain about but it’s lack creativity.

Suarez Bite

The Suarez bite is going to make headlines around the world and rightfully so. This is his third incident and he clearly needs to be punished with some extreme prejudice. Banned? Maybe. This is not what lost Italy the game though.

Italy did not lose on Marchisio’s red card either. While iffy, the referee, Marco Rodriguez was standing right in front of the challenge. Even the US announcers deemed it a reckless challenge.

No, Italy lost because they lacked creativity.

Italy only needed a draw to advance and it was fairly evident from the start that they were reverting to their 2006 ways of slowing the game down to a snails pace hoping to frustrate Uruguay into mistakes and then breaking through on a counter attack.

They failed.

Instead the fans were treated to a first half with some 24 fouls.

They failed to create chances on the Uruguay side of the field and pulled their best attacking option Mario Balotelli at halftime. Why? Balotelli was already under caution and should have been given a red card for his challenge Álvaro Pereira.

High Flying Balotelli

Italy’s track record preceded them too. They are known for over exaggerating fouls and rolling around on the ground in alleged pain to try and get a call. It was clear that Rodriguez was having known of it.  He knew their tactics and was so determined not to fall for them which meant that he missed some calls and would not listen to Italy’s pleas. But Italy can only blame themselves for that. They have a history of this and it finally caught up to them.

In the end Italy was not creative enough to come up with something new. They relayed on their tried and true method of slowing the game down by exaggerating fouls and lobbying the ref. They relied on this tactic more than trying to actually score. While no one can condone Suarez’s actions, it did not cost Italy the game. Italy cost Italy the game and have no one to blame but themselves.


What to Watch Fri. 6/20 – Sun. 6/22

All times are Pacific Standard Time

Friday June 20th

Italy vs Costa Rica – 9am ESPN: It’s probably the best game of the day. If Costa Rica gets a point then they are all but guaranteed a spot in the knockout round.

France vs Switzerland – Noon ESPN: Do you have something better to do at noon on a Friday?

Boston Red Sox at Oakland A’s – 7:05 MLB.TV: Last years World Series Champs play the second of four games against probably the best team in baseball right now.

Saturday June 21st

Germany vs Ghana – Noon ESPN: Ghana desperately need three points if they want to move to the next round. That’s easier said than done against one of the better sides in the world.

Boston Red Sox at Oakland A’s – 1:05 MLB.TV: Decent pitching matchup between the Red Sox Rubby De La Rosa and the A’s Jesse Chavez.

Sunday June 22nd

F1 Austrian Grand Prix – 4:30am NBCSN: Yeah it’s early, so DVR it and wake up later.

Belgium vs Russia – 9am ESPN: See everyone’s favorite dark horse team Belgium. Maybe they are as good as advertised.

USA vs Portugal – 3pm ESPN: This game is being played in the middle of the jungle (no lie). The US will be without the services of striker Jozy Altidore and one of the world’s best players Cristiano Ronaldo will look to get the Portuguese back on track by trying to expose the USA’s young backline. If the US walks out of this game with a point they may just slip into the next round.

Yeah, It’s Not Big In America

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

The 2014 World Cup is in full swing. Close games, lots of goals and a USA victory highlighted the first six days of games. What the media outside of the soccer contingent is still talking about is how soccer just hasn’t caught on in America. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

USA vs Ghana Viewing Party in Chicago

The USA vs Ghana game on Monday afternoon (or early evening for those of you on the East Coast) had more than 11 million viewers on ESPN and almost a half million a minute on the Watch ESPN app. The opening match of the World Cup between Brazil and Croatia did over nine million TV viewers between Univision and ESPN.

And that was a random Thursday afternoon.

CBS This Morning ran a story on Tuesday about kids in poor neighborhoods in Rio playing soccer. Gayle King said at the end of the piece, ‘I’m amazed how big this game is except in this country.’ (fast forward to the 2:45 mark to hear it for yourself)

Apparently she has never seen or been to an MLS match in Seattle, Portland, Vancouver or Kansas City much less a US Men’s National Team game.

Cause soccer is not big in America.

Maybe she wasn’t aware of the 5,000 or so people in Grant Park in Chicago watching the match on the big screen. One of many massive viewing parties across the country.

Yeah, nobody in the US watches soccer. It’s not a big deal here.

US Media, what the hell else do you need?

No other country has as many popular professional sports as the US does. From the NBA to MLB to the NHL and of course the NFL and College Football. Let us not forget March Madness and the Masters. England is not packed with this level of sport. Neither is Brazil, Japan, Germany, Russia, or China.

Let’s have a little reality check here for the US news media. Maybe they are not as smart as they think.




What to Watch Thurs. 6/12 – Sun. 6/15

All times are PST.

Thursday June 12th

US Open – 6am ESPN: Flip between ESPN and ESPN2 and you’re sure to find golf on.

Brazil vs Croatia – 1pm ESPN: It should be one sided but either way it’s the beginning of the World Cup.

NBA Finals Game 4 – 6pm ABC: The Miami Heat got faded in game 3. Odds are the San Antonio Spurs are not going to shoot 75% again though.

Friday June 13th

US Open – 6am ESPN: Flip between ESPN and ESPN2 and you’re sure to find golf on…again.

Spain vs Netherlands – Noon ESPN: A rematch of the 2010 Final.

Chile vs Australia – 3pm ESPN2: If the Socceroos have any hope of getting out of the the Group stage then they need 3 points out of this match.

Stanley Cup Final Game 5- 5pm NBC: The LA Kings look to close out the NY Rangers in LA.

Saturday June 14th

US Open – 9am NBC: Start up round 3!

Uruguay vs Costa Rica – Noon ABC: Luis Suarez isn’t 100% and Costa Rica is better than people think. Should be a really good game.

England vs Italy – 3pm ESPN: Two traditional soccer powers from Europe playing in the middle of the Amazon jungle. Cramps will probably be an issue.

UFC 174 – 7pm PPV: Demetrious Johnson vs a guy you probably haven’t heard of. However, Rory MacDonald, Tyrone Woodley, Ryan Bader and even Andrei Arlovski are on the card.

Sunday June 15th

US Open – 9am NBC: The Final Round at Pinehurst.

NBA Finals Game 5 – 5pm ABC: It’s back to San Antonio as the Spurs look to close out the Heat. Maybe the A/C will still be working.


There’s a Subscription For That

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

Every game of the NBA Finals will be televised on ABC which is available without a cable or satellite subscription. Five of the seven games of the Stanley Cup Final will be broadcast on NBC which is also available without a cable or satellite subscription. Does it matter anymore if a game is televised on broadcast or cable/satellite? Yes and not for the reasons you think.

The Finals

Even with the NBA Finals and the Stanley Cup Final available on over-the-air television channels, you still need either an internet provider subscription or a cable/satellite subscription in order to watch online. Yes. Even though the games are available over-the-air for FREE, you have to pay somebody to watch on your laptop or tablet.

This is not new. NBC does this during the Olympics and while the number of people who don’t pay for either a cable/satellite or internet subscription is small it is still a point of concern.

Why should you have to have a subscription if the game is on FREE TV? That’s almost like saying, ‘well you have to have a monitor in order to watch the game so you have to type in the serial number on the TV before you can watch.’

Just because you have a cable/satellite and/or an internet subscription doesn’t even guarantee you the ability to watch a game online. It all depends on the provider and the network. So if DirecTV doesn’t have an online agreement with ESPN then good luck watching something on the much promoted Watch ESPN app.

If you go back a decade ago when streaming live sports was just getting up and running, you could watch just about anything without so much as a log-in. ESPN Gameplan was free if you were watching online but almost $100 to watch on television.

Last season though, it got to the point that if a college football game is being shown on any of ESPN networks you cannot watch it online at all.

What about the fans? What about the promise of watching anything you want, anywhere you want on any device? You almost can. Just make sure you have a cable or satellite subscription.




Failing Eventualy Does Matter

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

Dan Bylsma was let go yesterday by the Pittsburgh Penguins. It marks the end of a tough six months behind the bench for the Penguins and for Team USA in the Winter Olympics.

Bylsma is the winningest coach in Penguins history (252-117-32) and lead them to a Stanley Cup in 2009 (albeit he came on in February of that year.) But blowing a 3-1 series lead to the New York Rangers may have sealed his fate.

Dan Bylsma

The fact is that Bylsma couldn’t get the Penguins back to the Stanley Cup Final even with players like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on the ice. While these players have had injuries over the years (Crosby missed most of the 2010-2012 seasons with concussion type symptoms) the Penguins were still a force to be reckoned with and were always an odds on favorite to win the Cup.

Two other things didn’t help Bylsma the first six months of this year. First was the non-medaling performance by Team USA in the Winter Olympics and then a 5-1 shellacking at the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks on national TV during the Stadium Series.

Bylsma probably won’t be out of work for very long since there are three teams besides Pittsburgh looking for head coaches right now.

While the Penguins organization felt that a change needed to be made the move also points out again that sports is a ‘what have you done for me lately’ business. Yes the expectations are high in Pittsburgh and they should be. Look at the team they have now and the history they have. So remember that while you may hear buzzwords like ‘fail fast’ going around right now, you can only fail for so long before you have to pay the piper.


What to Watch Thurs. 6/5 – Sun. 6/8

Thursday June 5th

NBA Finals Game 1 – 6pm ABC: A rematch of last years final as the Miami Heat take on the San Antonio Spurs.

Friday June 6th

Houston Dynamo vs Sporting KC – 5:30pm MLS Live: These two are always vying to see who the Eastern Conference representative will be in the MLS Cup. In fact, these two teams have represented the East in the last three MLS Cups.

Saturday June 7th

USA vs Nigeria – 3pm ESPN2: The final World Cup warm up game for the US before they head off to Brazil.

The Belmont Stakes – 3:30pm(ish) NBC: Can California Chrome become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978?

Stanley Cup Finals Game 2 – 4pm NBC: A two day layoff? Really NHL? Really NBC? We can’t play a Stanley Cup on Friday night? Oh well, New York Rangers need to steal this one if they want a fighting chance.

UFC Fight Night – 7pm FS1: Some notable names and some good fights on this card. Former Champion Benson Henderson is in the main event while the fight of the night will probably be Ross Pearson vs Diego Sanchez.

Sunday June 8th

NASCAR Pocono 400 – 10am TNT: Jimmie Johnson has won two races in a row and guess what, he won this race last year.

Formula 1 Grand Prix Du Canada – 11am NBC: Some nice long straightaways for the drivers to open up.

NBA Finals Game 2 – 5pm ABC: Game 2 is usually more important than Game 1 since now you know where you stand.

Not The TV Ratings You’re Looking For

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

Lord Stanley

On Wednesday night the New York Rangers will square off against the Los Angeles Kings in the 121st edition of the Stanley Cup Finals. While on paper this may appear to be a great matchup for the NHL with the teams from the top two TV markets squaring off but it could have been better if neither team was in it.

The Kings defeated the defending Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks in a thrilling game 7 overtime game on Sunday night. It would have been better for the NHL if the Blackhawks won because they are a bigger TV market when it comes to hockey. In fact Chicago out did the LA as far as viewers are concerned during game 7 by a wide margin.

The Rangers are the Rangers. New York has a tendency to rally around their teams, and not just in New York City. The Buffalo Sabers actually came in second as far as local TV ratings go in the NHL this seasons despite finishing dead last in the league.

The Rangers will probably hold their own but that doesn’t mean that the countries number one TV market always turns out in droves for a New York area team.

Take 2012 when the Kings won their first Stanley Cup at the expense of the New Jersey Devils (who play in Newark, NJ which is in the New York City TV market.) The highest rated game for that series was the decisive game 6. That game did a 3.1 rating. That only would have been the fifth highest rated game in the 2013 Final when Chicago defeated the Boston Bruins in six games.

If the NHL could pick the two teams in the Stanley Cup Final based on TV ratings in the US, it would be a matchup between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Chicago Blackhawks. Both crush their local TV numbers and have players and brands that transcend the sport.

The fact is the NHL is happy with a Stanley Cup Final featuring teams from the two biggest TV markets in the US. Next time, they should look at their numbers and realize, like the NFL has, that LA isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and it’s better to have a matchup between Original Six teams.