What To Watch Fri. 10/31 – Sun. 11/2

All times are PST

Friday October 31st

Cleveland Cavaliers at Chicago Bulls – 5pm ESPN: These two teams should be two of the best in the Eastern Conference this season.

Washington Capitals at Chicago Blackhawks – 5:30pm NHLN: If you don’t have trick or treaters at the door then this game might be a nice hockey treat.

Saturday November 1st

TCU at West Virginia -12:30pm ESPN2/ABC: West Virginia is one of the funnest teams to watch and TCU is coming off of a win against Texas Tech in which they scored 82 points. Shootout is imminent.

Florida at Georgia – 12:30pm CBS: We’re not suppose to call it ‘The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party’ anymore but we will.

Auburn at Ole Miss – 4pm ESPN: Two teams in currently in the Playoff. One won’t be after this game.

NY Rangers at Toronto Maple Leafs -4pm NHLN: Two Original 6 clubs facing off in TO. Holla.

Stanford at Oregon -4:30pm FOX: Stanford has been the Ducks kryptonite over the last few years. Ducks need to change that if they want to be in the Playoff.

LA Galaxy at Real Salt Lake – 5pm NBCSN: It’s MLS Playoff time and this home and home is going to be something to watch.

Arizona at UCLA – 7:30pm ESPN: These late PAC-12 games have a tendency to come down to the wire. This one should be no different.

Utah at Arizona St – 8pm FS1: What we said above applies here too.

Sunday November 2nd

Manchester City vs Manchester United – 5:30am NBCSN: The Manchester Derby is always fun to watch.

Toronto Argonauts at Montreal Alouettes – 9am ESPN3: The CFL season is rapidly coming to an end and it’s a three way race for the Eastern Conference’s top spot.

Arizona Cardinals at Dallas Cowboys – 10am FOX: Two teams that no expected to be good are.

San Diego Chargers at Miami Dolphins – 10am CBS: Dolphins have won 2 in a row and the Chargers have lost 2 in a row. Still could be a shootout on South Beach.

F1 Grand Prix of America – 11:30am NBC: Formula 1 in Austin, TX.

Denver Broncos at New England Patriots – 4:25pm CBS: Yep, this is going to be one helluva game.

Seattle Sounders at FC Dallas – 6pm ESPN: The Sounders have two of the three parts of the MLS treble locked up. The road for the allusive MLS Cup starts in Texas.

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Fitting End To A Bad Idea

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

Chivas Logo

CD Chivas USA ceased to exist Monday. It finished the season out of the playoffs yet again and with the worst attendance (7,000 plus on average) in MLS by far. What does the league plan to do next? Another team in LA of course!

Plenty of Good Seats Still AvailableChivas USA came into the MLS in 2005 and owner Jorge Vergara essentially made the club a development team (more or less) with a few over the hill veterans sprinkled in to make it look like it wasn’t a development team. Needless to say that plan failed. Pretty much every other plan after that failed too as the club went through 9 coaches in 10 years and failed to make the playoffs in it’s last 5 years of existence. 

MLS Commissioner Don Garber recently said that the Chivas strategy was ‘not on target’. This is true but why? Well it started with the above decision and in all honesty never recovered. The club also focused too much on appealing to Hispanic fans in an attempt to mimic the Chivas de Guadalajara model, their parent club. Maybe if it worried more about appealing to soccer fans in general as opposed to a specific market then it may have found some better success at the gate.

MLS will announce another team for the LA market on Thursday. This team will take the field in 2017 and will eventually have it’s own stadium so that they do not have to share a place with the crown jewel of MLS the LA Galaxy.

So what lessons have been learned? Not many because MLS is pretty much replicating the Chivas USA disaster with New York City FC (NYCFC). NYCFC will begin play next season in Yankee Stadium and is being backed by the owners of Manchester City (the Abu Dhabi government for those of you playing at home). Foreign owners, big checkbook, and no stadium to call their own. Gee, that doesn’t sound familiar.

In NYCFC’s defense they did hire one of the best coaches in all of MLS in Jason Kreis. Kreis has won an MLS Cup already with Real Salt Lake and taken them to another. Imagine what he can do with a big checkbook at his disposal. Then again, convincing players to come to a club that will play on a baseball field may be a hard sell regardless of the fact that it is in New York City.

Chivas USA was an unmitigated disaster. Yes MLS was in a different place 10-12 years ago but Real Salt Lake came into the league at the same time as Chivas USA and all they have done is win an MLS cup, compete for another and become one of the most impressive clubs in the entire league. ‘Not on target’ may be too light of a phrase.

Can the new club be successful? Maybe. Even with great ownership it’s still a maybe. LA is a tough market and there is so much competition for the entertainment dollar. MLS would have been better served with moving the club to Sacramento or Las Vegas and wiping the slate completely clean vs leaving some of the residue in the pan. In any event ‘LA2’ as it is being called will be upon us soon enough and we’ll see if two clubs in LA can actually work.

 

The Sunday: Southern Promises

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

The SEC was on the defensive on Saturday. Actually it was ESPN defending the conference to be more exact. And as for Lane Kiffin’s return to Knoxville, well he got out alive.

ESPN College Gameday anchor Chris Fowler made a comment defending the SEC while on location in Baton Rouge. He said in part:

“I’m a little defensive, but I get defensive when stupid, uninformed stuff gets repeated again and again, and somehow people all over the world think we have a stake in having three teams from this league [the SEC] get in.”

Later that night during the South Carolina at Auburn game Brent Musburger said the following:

“Somebody said we have SEC bias. Deal with it their the best.”

Defense was also on the mind of the Knoxville, Tennessee area law enforcement as former Tennessee Head Coach returned to Knoxville for the first time since his quick departure for USC. There was no incident to speak of but there was plenty of security for the most hated man in Tennessee history.

Kiffin

Alabama got out to an early lead and never looked back. Kiffin may have know that before the game when we walked out and gave a little ‘bang’ to Neyland Stadium.

It’s all about defense in the SEC and in more ways than one.

 

 

 

 

What to Watch Friday 10/24- Sunday 10/26

All times are PST

Friday October 24th

KC Royals at SF Giants – 5pm FOX: Game 3 in San Francisco. Series tied 1-1.

Oregon Ducks at Cal Golden Bears – 7pm FS1: Ducks better be on ‘let down alert’ cause the Golden Bears can score some points in a hurry.

Saturday October 25th

West Ham United vs Manchester City – 4:45am NBCSN: Believe it or not but this is a battle of top 4 teams in the Premier League.

LA Galaxy at Seattle Sounders – 12:30pm NBC: Battle for the Supporters Shield.

West Virginia at Oklahoma State – 12:30pm ESPN: West Virginia just gives people problems but Oklahoma State can too. This could be another Big 12 shootout.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Toronto Argonauts – 1pm ESPN3: The Eastern Conference is still a mess and both of these teams have a chance to take it.

Ole Miss at LSU – 4:15pm ESPN: Big road challenge for Ole Miss. Baton Rouge at night is no cake walk and LSU found some of the old Tiger swagger last weekend.

Chicago Blackhawks at St Louis Blues – 5pm NHL GameCenter: Last year they played the best playoff series of the Stanley Cup. ‘Nuff said.

Pittsburgh Penguins at Nashville Predators – 5pm NHL GameCenter: Somebody hold back the Preds. Only team left in the NHL that is undefeated in regulation.

KC Royals at SF Giants – 5pm FOX: Game 4 of the World Series.

USC at UTAH – 7pm FS1: It’s a blackout in Salt Lake City. This should be a lot of fun.

Sunday October 26th

Manchester United vs Chelsea – 9am NBC: Yep, this is happening. Chelsea is streaking and Man UTD isn’t but it should still be electric.

Seattle Seahawks at Carolina Panthers – 10am FOX: Two teams that rolled through the NFL last season are now looking a losing records with a loss on Sunday.

Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals – 10am CBS: Which version of these teams show up is the real question. Should be a hard hitting game regardless.

Philadelphia Eagles at Arizona Cardinals – 1pm FOX: Two of the better teams in the NFC square off in the desert.

San Jose Sharks at Anaheim Ducks – 5pm NHL GameCenter: Usually two of the best teams in the West and this year should be no different.

KC Royals at SF Giants – 5pm FOX: Game 5 of the World Series.

 

 

Great On Air But Terrible Online

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

Without a doubt ESPN’s 30 for 30 series is some of the best storytelling/entertainment for sports fans on TV. Problem is that if you miss one and did not DVR it then watching it online is not a user friendly experience.

Boz

If you haven’t seen one of the many ESPN 30 for 30’s then you are missing out. They are creative, insightful and very entertaining. They cover a wide variety of subjects like the University of Miami football team to the earthquake that postponed the World Series. If you missed the episode on TV then watching it online becomes a real challenge.

The website for 30 for 30 is pretty. It has a summary of every episode, comments and a nice big image. What it doesn’t have is video. Yes they may have one or two but no archive. You have to do a search and maybe you will find the an episode on YouTube or on ESPN’s website buried somewhere beyond comprehension. Pretty much they’re saying, ‘here is this awesome feature we did and here is what it’s about but go watch it on TV.’ It’s a backwards way of thinking.This is backward thinking creates a bad online user experience and negates all of the online claims that ESPN makes with every PR release.

30 for 30 VIDEO

ESPN needs to make the 30 for 30 more accessible for online viewing. It can do this in two ways: First, build out the YouTube page. The current versions are not what we’d expect from ESPN. Second, build out the 30 for 30 site itself. Add video and build and searchable archive. Do it now before the series backlog becomes too big of a mountain to climb and you cannot do something truly innovative.

30 for 30 on YouTube

ESPN my be the 800lb gorilla in sports but it is vulnerable when it rests on it’s laurels. Not providing replays of original features like 30 for 30 online and making it easy to find shows that it is resting on its laurels. It also provides competitors like NBC and FOX avenues to start chipping away at ESPN’s lead. ESPN needs to actually get on the new media train and stop with the lip service.

The Sunday: Some Things You Want And Others You Don’t

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

Football is all about measurements. How far apart players line up, how many steps a quarterback (QB) takes and how many touchdown passes a QB throws. Some measurements you want and others you want to avoid.

The Difference

Alabama defeated Texas A&M 59-0. Alabama tied a school record for most points scored in a quarter (35) and had one of the largest victory margins over a Top 25 opponent ever (the largest being Florida State’s 63-0 beating over Maryland last season).

The Record

Peyton Manning passed Brett Favre for the most touchdown passes thrown in NFL history. The record fell when Manning hit Demaryius Thomas in the first half of the game against the San Francisco 49ers.

The Fake

While it may not be a record it was rather impressive. The St. Louis Rams ran a fake punt back for a touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks in what could be one of the more impressive fake punts in football history. There was no reverse or throwback passes just a great acting job and a lot of misdirection.

What to Watch Fri. 10/17 – Sun. 10/19

All times are PST

Friday October 17th

Real Salt Lake at Portland Timbers – 7:30pm NBCSN: It’s down to the wire in the regular season and the Timbers still have a shot at a playoff spot.

Saturday October 18th

Manchester City vs Tottenham – 4:45am NBCSN: Here is your one EPL game worth watching.

Baylor at West VIrginia – 9am FS1: Last time these two teams played in Morgantown they scored a combined 133 points i 4 quarters of football. Defense is optional.

Montreal Alouettes at Toronto Argonauts – 1pm ESPN3: It’s a three team tie at the top of the Eastern Conference. The Al’s have gone 5-1 since installing Jonathan Crompton as their starting QB but the Argos Ricky Ray is having another MOP type year.

Georgia at Arkansas – 1pm SEC Network: Georgia is without Todd Gurley again and Arkansas is overdue for an SEC win.

Oklahoma State at TCU – 1pm FS1: The Big 12 is turning out to be deeper and better than anyone thought. This game should show people why.

Nebraska at Northwestern – 4:30pm BTN: Northwestern has turned it around and this game could decide who goes to the Big Ten title game from the West division.

Notre Dame at Florida State – 5pm ABC: This game is going to go one of two ways: 1) Notre Dame keeps it close or 2) Notre Dame QB Everett Golson continues on his turnover machine ways and FSU blows out the Irish.

Sunday October 19th

Carolina Panthers at Green Bay Packers – 10am FOX: Awesome QB duel.

KC Chiefs at San Diego Chargers – 1pm CBS: Big divisional match up and the Chargers, despite injuries, have been finding ways to win games.

Seattle Sounders at LA Galaxy – 5:15pm ESPN2: The first of back to back games between the two clubs battling it out for the Supporters Shield and the top spot in the West.

SF 49ers at Denver Broncos – 5:30pm NBC: Denver probably wishes that the 49ers were the team they faced in last years Super Bowl. Well now they get their chance.

 

What To Watch Fri. 10/10 – Sun. 10/12

All times are PST

Friday October 10th

Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Toronto Argonauts – 4pm ESPN3: The Ti-Cats have won 4 in a row and this game will be for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

KC Royals at Baltimore Orioles – 5pm TBS: A couple of years ago both these teams were doormats. Before that they were both actually pretty good with Hall of Fame players like George Brett and Cal Ripkin. Should be an outstanding series.

Washington State at Stanford – 6pm ESPN: WSU QB Connor Halliday threw the ball 70 times for 734 yards and 6 TD’s and still lost. This week won’t be any easier as Stanford has one of the best defenses in the country.

Vancouver Whitecaps at Seattle Sounders 7:30pm NBCSN: Cascadia Cup match but also big playoff implications. Vancouver is 2 points behind Portland for the final Western Conference playoff spot and Seattle is battling LA for the top spot.

Saturday October 11th

Georgia at Missouri – 9am CBS: This game just got a lot more interesting with the suspension of Georgia RB Todd Gurley.

Duke at Georgia Tech – 9:30 am ESPN3: No it’s not basketball season. This is a good looking football game, an important conference matchup and very much under the radar nationally. Duke is 4-1 and had two weeks to get ready for the Yellow Jackets option attack. Georgia Tech is undefeated and gaining more confidence each and every week. The coaches have also talked some smack.

Auburn at Mississippi State – 12:30pm CBS: #2 vs #3 in early October? Yes please!

TCU at Baylor  – 12:30pm ESPN2: Massive game in the Big 12 as TCU is coming off of an upset win over Oklahoma and Baylor had a lot of trouble on the road vs Texas.

Oregon at UCLA – 12:30pm FOX: Both teams are coming off of loses and if either team wants to have any hope of getting into the Playoff then they need to win this game.

Louisville at Clemson – 12:30pm ESPNU: It’s a question of who will have the ball last.

Pittsburgh Penguins at Toronto Maple Leafs – 4pm NHLN: It’s the first Saturday night with hockey this fall. Enjoy.

SF Giants at STL Cardinals – 5pm FOX: Boy, we have never seen these two teams in the NLCS. In fact these two teams have represented the NL in the World Series the last 4 years and winning 3 titles.

Ole Miss at Texas A&M – 6pm ESPN: A&M needs to get back to their winning ways real quick cause Ole Miss is for real. Ole Miss better come back down to Earth if they want to walk out of College Station with a win.

Sunday October 12th

Carolina Panthers at Cincinnati Bengals -10am FOX: Bengals took a beating on Sunday night and may be without their main WR. The Panthers showed a lot of grit to comeback and beat the Chicago Bears last week.

Dallas Cowboys at Seattle Seahawks – 4:25pm FOX: Dallas is putting together a decent first half of the season and they are doing it by running the football. Doing that in Seattle is another story though.

KC Royals at Baltimore Orioles – 5pm TBS: Game 2 of 7.

NY Giants at Philadelphia Eagles – 5:30pm NBC: The Giants are starting to find their legs  but the Eagles already have. Both teams have to get the run game going.

The Sunday: The Shake, The Jump, And The Just Plain Lazy

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

The first weekend on October brought possibly the best Saturday of sports of 2014. From the state of Mississippi having the greatest college football day in their history to defensive backs falling asleep on a Hail Mary to a phantom pancake block and the longest postseason baseball game ever. Yep, Saturday had it all.

Katy Perry, the new Ole Miss Good Luck Charm

Yes that Katy Perry showed up as a guest picker on ESPN College Gameday. Gameday was at the Ole Miss vs Alabama game which Ole Miss ended up winning on a last second interception in the end-zone. While not a funny as the Oregon Ducks picks she was better looking. She made news by professing her interest in Oklahoma QB Trevor Knight. For the record, Oklahoma was upset by TCU on Saturday. It appears that what’s good for Ole Miss isn’t good for OU.

Meanwhile Mississippi State looks like the most complete team in College Football and they did it without Katy Perry. The rest of College Football didn’t need Perry either as 11 teams in the Top 25 lost and 5 of the Top 10.

The Fall and the Jump

It’s only bad news for an Offensive Lineman when they are singled out on TV. This may have taken the cake. Nebraska Guard Jake Cotton not only did got a false start penalty but he also got it in slow motion.

On the flip side, quarterbacks make it on TV all the time. Even more so when they leap defenders like Deshaun Watson did on Saturday.

It’s A Pass Not A Punt

To say that USC’s defensive backs had a bad day on Saturday is an understatement. They gave up 510 yards and 5 TD’s to the Arizona State backup QB Mike Bercovici. To put icing on the cake they gave up a game winning Hail Mary to Bercovici as time expired and it didn’t even look like they tried.

Defense anyone? No? Ok.

 

The Never Ending Game

Brandon Belt, aka Baby Giraffe, blasted a solo home run in the 18th inning in game 2 of the National League Divisional Series against the Washington Nationals to give the SF Giants a 2-0 lead. It tied the longest game in postseason history and gave the Giants a 6 game postseason winning streak dating back to 2012.

Other takeaways from Saturday and early Sunday:

Connor Halliday of Washington State passed for an NCAA record 734 yards and 6 TD’s only to lose on chip shot FG to Cal 60-59.

Arsenal Manager Arsene Wenger and Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho got into a bit of shoving match during Chelsea’s 2-0 win.

 

 

 

What to Watch Fri. 10/3 – Sun. 10/5

All times are PST

Friday October 3rd

SF Giants at Washington Nationals – Noon FS1: Nats are the favorites but do not overlook the Giants who won the World Series in 2010 & 2012. It’s 2014. See a pattern?

St Louis Cardinals at LA Dodgers – 3:30pm FS1: Probably the best pitching match up of the post seasons with Adam Wainwright going for the Cards and Clayton Kershaw going for the Dodgers.

Louisville at Syracuse – 4pm ESPN: Seems odd to call this an ACC match up but it is.

Sporting KC at DC United – 5:30pm NBCSN: SKC looks to gain ground on the east leading United.

Calgary Stampeders at Saskatchewan Roughriders – 7pm ESPN3: Some West Coast CFL action for ya. Drew Tate starts again at QB for the Stamps but make no mistake, this is RB Jon Cornish’s show.

Saturday October 4th

Texas A&M at Mississippi St – 9am ESPN: The SEC West is a meat grinder and this game could go a long way in deciding who will win it.

Alabama at Ole Miss – 12:30pm CBS: Is Ole Miss for real?

Stanford at Notre Dame – 12:30pm NBC: Last time this game was played in South Bend Stanford got robbed and ND went on to play for a National Championship.

LSU at Auburn – 4pm ESPN: LSU is starting a true freshman QB on the road. This could get interesting.

Memphis at Cincinnati – 4pm CBS Sports Network: This game could either be a blowout or really close.

Nebraska at Michigan St – 5pm ABC: Can the Children of the Corn’s  Ameer Abdullah breakthrough against Sparty?

Toronto FC at LA Galaxy – 7:30pm MLS LIVE: TFC is still in the playoff hunt but they need points against the buzz-saw that is the Galaxy.

California at Washington St – 7:30pm PAC12 Network: The over on this game is around 75 points. They should hit that by halftime.

 Sunday October 5th

Arsenal at Chelsea – 6am NBCSN: It’s one of those big match ups in the Premier League that you just have to watch.

Baltimore Ravens at Indianapolis Colts – 10am CBS: Pretty much guaranteed a good game here.

Chicago Bears at Carolina Panthers – 10am FOX: Will the real Bears and Panthers please stand up.

Baltimore Orioles at Detroit Tigers – 12:30pm TBS: Game 3 of the ALDS.

Arizona Cardinals at Denver Broncos – 1pm FOX: Both teams coming off a bye week and the Cards are for real folks.

LA Angels at the KC Royals – 4:30pm TBS: Another playoff game at home for the Royals. Chaos may ensue in KC.

Cincinnati Bengals at New England Patriots – 5:30pm NBC: A lot of questions out there for the Pats offense. Meanwhile Cincy looks like world beaters.