The Best Sports Month Of The Year

By Brad Hubbard  | @bradhubbard

Of all the months during the calendar year, nothing compares to October for sports in North America. It features every single major sport that the continent has to offer. From playoff baseball to playoff rankings in college football and the beginning of a new season for the NHL and NBA. October has it all.

Love October

MLB Playoffs kicked off Tuesday night with the AL Wild Card match up between the Oakland A’s and KC Royals. The NL Wild Card between the SF Giants and the Pittsburgh Pirates takes place on Wednesday. Those two games get things started and it all culminates with the World Series which gets started October 21st.

College Football will get into mid season form with more of the traditional conference match ups that we’re use to seeing. On October 28th the first set of playoff rankings will be released. Moments later people will claim that the sky is falling.

The NFL will hopefully have a better October than November. In any event you do have some fun match ups like the 49ers at Broncos and Packers at Saints.

MLS heads into the stretch run as teams fight for playoff position. The regular season ends October 26th but that only signifies the beginning to a great playoff season. This years playoffs should include some very popular names and the end of Landon Donovan’s spectacular career.

The NHL is heading into a season with the LA Kings as returning champions….again. The puck drops on the regular season on October 8th. Meanwhile the NBA tips off on October 28th with the San Antonio Spurs looking to defend their title.

Happy October.

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The Sunday: Clemsoning And The Upset Fans

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

Four weeks into the season and some fan bases are already calling for the head coach to be fired. Upsets continue to happen in games you do not expect and some teams ended up acting like they always do.

The Mighty Have Fallen

Michigan lost again and it wasn’t really close. Head Coach Brady Hoke is on the hot seat as more and more people are calling for a change. Florida couldn’t compete with Alabama despite four Bama turnovers. Head Coach Will Muschamp is on the hot seat but his QB Jeff Driskel was just dreadful.

Fans from both schools are about at their wits end with these once mighty teams. All is not lost though as Michigan has yet to play or lose a conference game and Florida has only lost one conference game but it was to a team in a different division.

Clemsoning

It’s not an official word but one that makes its way around college football circles after the Clemson did what they did against Florida State. Clemson was able to rip defeat from the jaws of victory as they failed to capitalize on the poor performance of the number one team in the country who was without their best player.

Clemsoning is not owned by Clemson. California did a West Coast version of it by blowing a 28-6 halftime lead to lose 49-45 to Arizona on a last second Hail Mary.

 

What to Watch Thurs. 9/18 – Sun. 9/21

All times are PST

Thursday Sept. 18th

Auburn at Kansas State – 4:30pm ESPN: Another week and another SEC vs Big 12 matchup. K State escaped against Iowa State two weeks ago and hopefully those two weeks was enough time to get ready for the high powered Auburn attack.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons – 5:30pm CBS: Tampa is staring 0-3 right in the face. They need a huge effort on the road to prevent that.

Seattle Mariners at LA Angels – 7pm MLB.TV: The Mariners are hanging around and send King Felix to the mound against Jared Weaver.

 

Friday Sept. 19th

Milwaukee Brewers at Pittsburgh Pirates – 4pm MLB.TV:Pennet race is coming down to the wire and division rivals square off.  It’s what September is all about.

Detroit Tigers at KC Royals – 5pm MLB.TV: What we said above applies here too.

 

Saturday Sept. 20th

Arsenal at Aston Villa – 7am NBCSN: 2nd place Aston Villa welcomes in the Gunners to kick off your Saturday.

North Carolina at East Carolina – 12:30 ESPNU: UNC had a week off after being in a thriller against San Diego State. ECU is riding high off of their upset of Virginia Tech. Should be a good one.

Indiana at Missouri – 1pm SEC Network: No it’s not a basketball game but the score may reflect one. IU can’t play defense but they can score points and Mizzou picked up right where they left off last season.

Vancouver Whitecaps at Portland Timbers – 2:30pm NBCSN: A lot of things on the line in this game. Cascadia Cup, playoff berths, you name it.

Clemson Tigers at Florida State – 5pm ABC: Game of the day which is why Gameday is there. Clemson has gotta have a better showing than they did last year or else they could be 1-2 come Sunday morning.

Miami at Nebraska – 5pm ESPN2: If the Clemson at FSU game goes south then flip over to this one. Nebraska has one of the best RB’s in the country.

California at Arizona – 7pm PAC-12 Network: If you’re planning on staying up to watch this game to the very end then you might want to pop a Red Bull around 6:45pm. These teams like to score and score fast which could make for a long and entertaining west coast shootout.

San Diego State at Oregon State – 7:30pm FS1: San Diego State game UNC all they wanted two weeks ago and Oregon State had to travel back from Hawaii. Guess here is close game in the 4th quarter.

 

Sunday Sept. 21st

Chelsea at Manchester City – 8am NBCSN: How about this matchup to start off your Sunday!

San Diego Chargers at Buffalo Bills – 10am CBS: The Chargers are coming off of a huge win last Sunday but now they have to go all the way across the country to play the 2-0 Bills. What?

Calgary Stampeders at Montreal Alouettes – 10am ESPN2: We didn’t forget about you Canada. The Stamps may be the best team in the league but starting QB Bo Levi Mitchell is banged up. Meanwhile the born again Als are back on the right track with former Tennessee Vol Jonathan Crompton at the controls.

Denver Broncos at Seattle Seahawks – 1:25pm CBS: This has to be better than last years Super Bowl right?

 

ESPN Film Room – Turning The Football Nerds Loose!

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

We take swings at sports networks all the time on this site. However sometimes the sports networks like ESPN or even the much maligned NBC Sports hits a double off of the wall. ESPN has done just that with it’s half hour show called ESPN Film Room.

ESPN Film Room is hosted by Tom Luginbill with Matt Millen or Mike Bellotti helping break down the game film. They focus on a team or two who will play a big game during the upcoming weekend. Then they focus on one or two things that the team does well and why it is so effective.

What’s impressive about this show is it’s simplicity. It’s something that the Jim Louderback at Revision3 figured out a long time ago, find experts in their field and turn them loose. The fact is that Luginbill, Millen and Bellotti could talk football all day and twice on Sunday and never get bored. They have the experience, passion and ability to articulate their point very well which is why this show works.

Millen on Technique

Now this is hardcore football nerd stuff. You have to want to know the details of the fly sweep or why the read option can put a defensive end in no man’s land. It’s also a get place to learn the fundamentals of the game because they explain things so well. A few weeks ago Millen was explaining gaps and what a numbered technique is. Fundamental stuff but something that an announcer doesn’t have time to explain during a football game.

ESPN Film Room comes on Wednesdays at 3:30pm PST on ESPNU. Why ESPN doesn’t make episodes of segments from the show available online is beyond us. (Probably same reason why they don’t make Gruden’s QB Camp available.) In any event, if you’re a college football junkie or even a fan who wants to know more details about the game then check this out.

 

The Sunday: The Boom and One Proud Papa

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

Saturday was suppose to be a low key day of college football. No top 10 matchups and only a few conference games of interest which meant of course that it would be a wild day which it was. Despite the upsets and close games two moments really took the cake. One involved a veteran announcer and the other a former coach celebrating his child’s success.

75 year old Brent Musburger has been calling football for a long time. He is now announcing the SEC Networks primetime game which meant that this week he was in Gainesville calling the Kentucky at Florida game. During OT he dropped ‘boom goes the dynamite!’ on a touchdown run by Kentucky running back Stanley Williams. Yep, he said it and it was glorious.

Possibly the best moment was one that most people were not aware off until Sunday morning. It was of former UCLA QB and Head Coach Rick Neuheisel, who is now an analyst for the PAC-12 Network, cheering on his son Jerry during the UCLA at Texas game.

Neuheisel Watching Son

http://pac-12.com/videos/rick-neuheisel-watches-son-jerry-lead-ucla-victory

Neuheisel’s son came into the game because of an injury to Heisman Trophy candidate Brett Hundley and helped lead UCLA to a hard fought victory over Texas in Dallas. So this came pretty unexpectedly. You could see Rick Neuheisel trying to balance being a dad and being a coach. In the end, being a dad won out.

Credit to the PAC-12 Network for shooting this and getting it out too. It’s such a great moment and with all of the terrible news this week it’s refreshing to see a proud papa celebrating his son’s success. And as Musburger would say, ‘boom goes the dynamite!’

 

 

 

 

What to Watch Fri. 9/12- Sun. 9/14

All times are PST.

Friday Sept. 12th

Toledo at Cincinnati – 4pm ESPNU: First game of the year for Cincy and Toledo has two under their belt. Should make things a little interesting.

LA Dodgers at SF Giants – 7pm MLB Network: A weekend series of one of the best rivalries in all of sports. Oh, and they are battling for first place in the NL West. Good pitching matchup too.

Oakland A’s at Seattle Mariners – 7pm MLB.TV: The start of a big series in the AL West. Oakland was once the best team in baseball and now they are going to have to battle the King Felix and the Mariners for a playoff spot.

Real Salt Lake at Seattle Sounders – 8pm NBCSN: Always a great matchup and always a great venue in Seattle.

Saturday Sept. 13th

Aresenal vs Manchester City – 4:45am NBCSN: If you want to watch one soccer match this weekend watch this one.

Syracuse at Central Michigan – 9am ESPNEWS: Central Michigan just manhandled Purdue last weekend. Syracuse could be another Big 5 conference team to go down to the Chippewas.

Georgia at South Carolina – 12:30pm CBS: Always an entertaining matchup.

Tennessee at Oklahoma – 5pm ABC: It’s just nice to see two legendary programs square off in September.

Vancouver Whitecaps at FC Dallas – 5:30pm MLS LIVE: The Western Conference is truly the wild west when it comes to the playoff race. This game will add to the chaos.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers at BC Lions – 7pm ESPN3: Winnipeg has lost two straight. BC just lost their starting QB to a shoulder injury. Time for Winnipeg to turn it around?

Sunday Sept. 14th

Detroit Lions at Carolina Panthers – 10am FOX: Cam Newton is back for Carolina which means this could be a shootout.

Seattle Seahawks at San Diego Chargers – 1pm FOX: Defending Super Bowl champs have a tall order in the Chargers and the Chargers need to get a win to prevent starting off 0-2.

LA Dodgers at SF Giants – 1pm MLB.TV: Final game of a key series in the race for the NL West. Clayton Kershaw heads to the mound for LA.

Chicago Bears at SF 49ers – 5:30pm NBC: Good matchup for opening night of Levi Stadium.

DirecTV, Not For Sports Fans Anymore

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

DirecTV use to claim in it’s advertising that ‘if you’re a sports fan, you gotta get DirecTV’. That may have been the case two years ago but it isn’t now. DirecTV in fact may be the worse place for sports fans.

For a lot of people, it doesn’t get better than DirecTV if you’re a sports fan. They have NFL Sunday Ticket and that alone is worth it. NFL Sunday Ticket mind you is $330 for the ‘Max’ package.  For some, this is worth every penny. For others, that’s a pretty good chunk of change.

Watch ESPN

While DirecTV has NFL Sunday Ticket it doesn’t carry the Pac-12 Network nor does a DirecTV subscription give you access to ESPN3, FoxSportsGo or the Pac-12 Network online. In other words, if you are not sitting in front of the TV connected to your DirecTV receiver you are S.O.L. when it comes to viewing sports.

But wait, they have an app right?

Yes they do and you cannot stream any sports channels outside of your house. In fact you cannot stream any ESPN channel at all. Basically, if you’re a sports fan, the app is a glorified remote control and a pretty dumb one at that. God forbid you go into the next room and try to watch a Mountain West game on your tablet!

DirecTV app

What this comes down to, as usual, is money. DirecTV makes enough to not have to worry about digital stuff or something as ‘niche’ as the Pac-12 Network. They also make enough to not have to worry about giving their customers what they really want, the ability to truly watch what you want wherever you want. Probably all the more reason that they do not run the campaign anymore claiming’ if you’re a sports fan, you gotta get DirecTV.

 

B1G Body Blow

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

It was bad weekend for the Big Ten Conference (B1G). The conference went 8-5 but they lost convincingly in 3 of the biggest games they played and two others came down to the final drive of the game against opponents that should have been beat by a far bigger margin. All in all, things could have go worse for the conference but not by much.

B1G

The 3 high profile games the conference was a part of were Michigan St at Oregon, Michigan at Notre Dame and Virginia Tech at Ohio State. Credit to the conference for scheduling these games in the first place as opposed to the SEC who had 3 teams on their schedule on Saturday from the Southland Conference.

The issue here isn’t that the B1G lost the high profile games but that they ended up losing going away. Michigan State was up on Oregon 27-18 but then Oregon ran off 28 unanswered points. Ohio State was exposed badly by Va Tech and Michigan didn’t score a point against Notre Dame in a 31-0 debacle.

Meanwhile other teams in the B1G like Nebraska and Iowa needed game winning drives with time running out to stay unbeaten. Wisconsin was only up 9-3 at the half against Western Illinois before pulling away in the second half and Purdue was manhandled by Central Michigan.

It hurt the conference because, although it is early, the odds of a B1G team making it to the 4 team playoff at the end of the year now seems highly unlikely. That could hurt recruiting, perception and financial standing in college football.

The B1G has a lot of work to do if it wants to compete with the ACC, PAC 12 and SEC. It may start with beating the teams they are suppose to beat like Northern Illinois and Central Michigan. Until they do, they will be on the outside looking in of the college football playoff.

What to Watch Thurs. 9/4 – Sun. 9/7

All times are PST.

Thursday Sept. 4th

Detroit Tigers at Cleveland Indians – 4pm MLB.TV: Stretch run and two teams in playoff contention.

Arizona at UT San Antonio – 5pm FS1: UTSA gave out a beating to Houston last weekend. Then again Arizona put a beating on UNLV too.

Green Bay Packers at Seattle Seahawks – 5:30pm NBC: The good – The NFL is back! The bad – it’s the first game and on NBC so this thing may not kick off until 6pm (remember last year when Ryan Seacrest was on the field? No? Let’s remind you.)

Let’s all hope that this doesn’t happen again

 

Friday Sept. 5th

SF Giants at Detroit Tigers – 4pm MLB.TV: Why this series is happening so late in the year is beyond reason.

KC Royals at NY Yankees – 4pm MLB.TV: Another series with possible playoff teams squaring off.

Pittsburgh at Boston College – 4pm ESPN: Friday night ACC matchup between two hard nosed teams.

Washington St at Nevada – 7:30pm ESPN: The Cougars Air Raid visits the home of the Pistol offense. This means points a plenty.

Saturday Sept. 6th

SF Giants at Detroit Tigers – 10am FOX: Great pitching matchup with Bumgarner going for the Giants and Price for the Tigers.

USC at Stanford -12:30pm ABC: Awesome to have such a big conference game this early in the season.

Michigan St at Oregon – 3:30pm FOX: Probably the best out of conference game you will see this year. And a lot of green.

Sporting KC at NY Red Bulls – 4:30pm NBCSN: The Red Bulls need this one bad.

Michigan at Notre Dame – 4:30pm NBC: Worth watching because it is the last game between these schools for a while.

Virginia Tech at Ohio State – 5pm ESPN: This could be really close or an absolute blowout.

San Diego State at North Carolina – 5pm ESPNEWS: Carolina didn’t look all that great last week and the Aztecs have a tendency of scaring the daylights out of their big name opponents.

DC United at Vancouver WhiteCaps – 7pm  MLS LIVE: The Caps need three points if they want to get back into the playoff picture.

Sunday Sept. 7th

New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons – 10am FOX: Big time battle in the NFC South. Remember, no one has ever won the NFC South two years in a row.

Washington at Houston Texans – 10am FOX: Watch for the sheer entertainment value as RGIII runs for his life from JJ Watt and Jadeveon Clowney.

SF 49ers at Dallas Cowboys – 1:25pm FOX: So many questions like ‘How many INT’S’ will Romo throw?’ or ‘Who is actually on the 49ers defense now after the injuries and suspensions?’

Indianapolis Colts at Denver Broncos – 5:30pm NBC: Peyton Manning has to find new people to throw to and Andrew Luck is the modern day version of ‘Captain Comeback’.

Want To Get To The Playoffs? Hire A Former Catcher

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

The most important position in Major League Baseball (MLB) may be catcher. It might also be one of the toughest because of the physical and mental demands. The position calls for strong technique, analysis and physical strength. It may also lead to a successful career as a Major League Baseball manager too when the playing career is over.

Since 2000, half or the World Series managers played catcher at some point in their professional career. They have won seven times and there have only been three years when a former catcher was not managing either team. There was also a streak of four years in a row when a former catcher was managing the winning side (2000-2003).

The Catcher

Why is this? There are certainly too many variables to consider but when you think about it it makes a lot of sense.

Catchers are the most involved player on the diamond. They have to do research on the opposing teams batters so they they can properly call a game. They have to work with various pitchers during a game and know what they’re strengths are then apply to the hitter and determine the best approach to getting that batter out.

Catchers also have to have a sheer love of the game. The physicality of the position has driven some men to other less physically demanding positions. The stress on the knees alone is enough to make a grown man cry.

And this is just defense we’re talking about. This doesn’t include the hours in the batting cage working on ones swing.

Joe Giradi won the World Series with the New York Yankees in 2009.
Joe Giradi won the World Series with the New York Yankees in 2009.

It should come as no surprise then that out of the 30 managers in MLB today, 11 are former catchers. Out of that, eight have their teams in first or second place in their respective division and within striking distance of the playoffs.

GM’s can and owners can do a lot of over thinking when it comes to baseball. One thing they do not need to think about are the prerequisites to being a manager. First requirement, have played catcher at the professional level.