What To Watch Fri. 5/1 – Sun. 5/3

All Times Are Pacific

Friday May 1st

NY Yankees at Boston Red Sox – 4pm MLB.TV: It’s the Yankees and the Red Sox at Fenway. You need no other reason.

NFL Draft – 4pm NFL Network: Rounds 2 & 3 in primetime.

Tampa Bay Lightning at Montreal Canadiens – 4pm NBCSN: This should be a heck of series. Watch how little Carey Price moves in goal for the Habs.

Atlanta Hawks at Brooklyn Nets – 5pm ESPN: Game 6 in Brooklyn.

Minnesota Wild at Chicago Blackhawks – 6:30pm NBCSN: It’s a heck of a weekend in Chicago. NFL Draft and playoff hockey.

 

Saturday May 2nd

NFL Draft – 9am NFL Network: Rounds 4-7. Hey, it’s football related.

Washington Capitals at NY Rangers – 9:30am NBC: Game two in Madison Square Garden. Big names, big arena, and a big series.

Kentucky Derby – 3:20pm NBC: It’s the 141st running of the Derby. Cue the big hats and mint juleps.

DC United vs Columbus Crew – 4pm MLS Live: 3 points separate these two teams in the Eastern Conference standings. The Screamin Eagles will be in full voice for this one.

San Antonio Spurs at LA Clippers – 5pm TNT: Game 7 and the defending champs have their backs against the wall. Losing team probably gets dismantled.

Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao – 8:30pm PPV: Well we have waited long enough for this fight. Let’s do this.

Mayweather

 We see you Money

 

Sunday May 3rd

Tottenham Hotspur vs Manchester City – 8am NBCSN: Well if you’re still alive from the amazing sports Saturday, have a little hair of the dog and pull up a chair for this English Premier League matchup.

NASCAR Geico 500 – 10am FOX: Talladega is a calling.

Memphis Grizzlies at Golden State Warriors – 12:30pm ABC: Let’s kick off round 2 with two of the best teams in the NBA all year long.

LA Angels at SF Giants – 1pm MLB.TV: Mike Trout vs Buster Posey. Not a bad way to end the weekend. Oh and Tim Lincecum vs Jered Weaver on the hill.

Tampa Bay Lightning at Montreal Canadiens – 3pm NBCSN: Game 2 in the Bell Centre.

NYCFC vs Seattle Sounders – 4pm FS1: Well the uniforms should be colorful.

Calgary Flames at Anaheim Ducks – 7pm CNBC: Game 2 in this Western Conference showdown.

 

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The Best Day In Sports. Period.

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

It may be a cosmic event or maybe just plain old luck. Either way, Saturday May 2, 2015 is shaping up to be one of the greatest days in sports history. Just about every major professional sport will be represented and then some. The only question is, is it too much?

Mayweather vs Pacquiao

Let’s start with the one off, the fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. They won’t actually start fighting until around 8:30pm Pacific standard time (PST) on Saturday at which point they will truly begin to split the estimated $300 million in pay-per-view money. 60-40 to Mayweather of course. It’s the biggest fight boxing has seen since Mayweather took on Oscar De La Hoya. It will probably be the last great matchup for a generation.

Before this of course is a smorgasbord of sporting events.

The 141st running of the Kentucky Derby will take place around 3:25pm PST. It’s the one time a year that a wide spectrum of people care about horse racing and women get to wear big hats.

The events that we are use to seeing this time of year are of course Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, the NBA Playoffs, NHL Playoffs, and the NFL Draft.

The NFL Draft is the only event where there isn’t any actual sporting activity happening. But this is a football nation and people will be glued to the draft (even the later rounds which will be happening on Saturday). It will be the first time that the Draft has been outside of New York City and the second time that it has been held in the month of May.

Yes, this may go down as the greatest day in sports history. Is it too much though? That’s for you to decide for yourself. There certainly won’t be a lack of options on Saturday that’s for sure. Our advice is to pace yourself and try to find a couple of people to split the $100 Mayweather vs Pacquiao ppv.

Business Decision

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

The Baltimore Orioles will host the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday afternoon in an empty stadium. It’s nothing either team did but with the current situation in Charm City, the powers that be came to the conclusion to play a day game instead of a night game with no fans in the stadium. While it may seem odd it isn’t the first time a sporting event has been played in an empty stadium.

Baltimore Riots

Major League Baseball (MLB) faced a similar situation over two decades ago in Los Angeles when the Rodney King riots broke out and shut down the city. The LA Dodgers and Montreal Expos made up the games later in the year with three doubleheaders in three days. The Orioles and White Sox will not have to do that but the Orioles will be a “home team” in Tampa this weekend as Major League Baseball moved the weekend series against the Rays from Baltimore to Tampa.

The empty stadium situation is not unprecedented in sports. UEFA, the governing body of soccer in Europe, has played games in empty stadiums before. In just about every case it was a punishment for racist conduct by a team’s supporters. Most recently CSKA Moscow supporters where locked out of Champions League matches against Manchester City and AS Roma after racist chants in precious Champions League matches. While locking fans out of a stadium is punishment in Europe, it is a matter of safety in Baltimore.

Not everyone agrees with the decision by Major League Baseball but it is their decision none the less. The fact is that baseball is a business. As a business you have to make business decisions while also being mindful of your employees and customers safety. MLB and the Orioles are doing that. Hopefully they nor anyone other league or franchise will have to make similar decisions anytime soon.

 

The Sunday: That Just Happened

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

The Sunday

Yep. He Made That

Yes, LeBron James made a shot from the other end of the court. Perhaps the closest anyone has come previously was Grant Hill when he hit Christian Laettner in the Regional Final of the NCAA Tournament back in 1992.

 

Great Singing Almost Gets You Sacked 

Houston Texans All-Pro JJ Watt has been everywhere this offseason. From the NCAA Tournament to a Houston Rockets playoff game. He is also the best face the NFL can put out there this side of Peyton Manning. To prove it he ran from his seat to tell a kid ‘awesome job’ after a great rendition of the National Anthem.

 

Gunned Down

We may not talk about Arena Football very often but sometimes some things happen that you just have to point out. This one didn’t even happen on the field either.

At a Philadelphia Soul game against the Jacksonville Sharks earlier this month, a woman ‘gunned down’ her male counterpart in the row in front of her. The Soul should thank her too, the video has over 3 million views and counting on YouTube.

Head to the :45 second mark. 

 

And That Went In

If you are a teams starting goalie during an elimination game in the Stanley Cup Playoffs you would hope that you wouldn’t let one go between your legs. The five-hole that any goalie on that level should stop. Well that’s exactly what happened with St Louis Blues goalie Jake Allen. He was pulled right after and not long after that the Minnesota Wild closed out the series with a 4-1 win.

 

The Next Bill Walsh?

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

Crazy is the most politically correct term that has been associated with the Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly lately. While some of his methods may seem unconventional he apparently has a plan and he’s going to follow it regardless of public opinion.

Chip Kelly

Kelly and the Eagles have made some head-scratching moves this off-season and many feel that they’re not done yet. When the dust settles the Eagles will be closer to the team that Kelly wants even if that means trading an All-Pro player like LeSean McCoy. Many feel that is a team built in his likeness. One that is tough, smart, dedicated, big and fast. Pretty much everything you want in a prototypical NFL team.

Many would argue that the players Kelly has moved were the ones that he was looking for. From McCoy to quarterback Nick Foles to wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. Kelly felt otherwise and now he is going to field a team with several players coming off of major injuries.

It doesn’t stop with player personnel moves either. Kelly is a big believer in the sports science. So much so that he hired Shaun Huls as the NFL’s first ever ‘sport science coordinator’. While some criticized Kelly’s uptempo offense when he arrived in the NFL, Kelly noted that tempo is just another tool in the toolbox. His practices methods have even come under fire like having players run hard the day before a game.

How does this related to Hall of Fame coach Bill Walsh?

Look at the similarities.They both brought a new mindset, methods and style to the NFL. Both installed innovative offenses and try to find the best players to fit that scheme. Both brought a new way of thinking to how you coach a team, run practices and both pulled from industries outside of football.

Walsh’s West Coast offense was seen as heresy in a league that, at the time, was filled with teams that believed in ‘three yards and a cloud of dust’.  Walsh’s offense was all about balance and timing. Some called it finesse but that finesse ended up winning four Super Bowls in the 80’s.

Walsh’s techniques are visible at every level of football from play calling to how you run offseason workouts. Kelly is making inroads in sports science, practice techniques and an innovative offensive style that gives the quarterback multiple run/pass options on every play.

Watch the first 3:30 of the video and you’ll get look inside Kelly’s approach.

Yes we know that we are comparing one of the greatest minds in the history of football with someone who has yet to make it to a Super Bowl but the markings are there. Yes we are making some big assumptions here like professional players embracing Kelly’s tactics and ideas. But people we’re saying similar things 35 years ago about Walsh.

A coach once said that ‘change is inevitable, growth is optional’. No one likes change, especially well paid NFL players. But change is here and so far it has been successful. The measure of success is of course a Super Bowl win which is something that the Eagles have never captured. Kelly has to win one. It’s the ultimate dropping of the mic in football.  It silences every critic. When know this because Walsh did it, three times.

Further Reading

Bill Walsh – HBR Article (1993)

Chip Kelly – Philly.com (2014) 

Chip Kelly – Grantland (2014) 

What To Watch Fri. 4/24 – Sun. 4/26

All times are Pacific (check back for updates as playoff games unfold).

Friday April 24th

Minnesota Wild at St Louis Blues – 6:30pm NBCSN: Well not many people thought this would be tied up at two games apiece but here we are.

LA Clippers at San Antonio Spurs – 6:30pm ESPN: The defending champion Spurs are going to have a heck of a time repeating because the Clippers are for real.

REMOTE-contrast

Saturday April 25th

Detroit Red Wings at Tampa Bay Lightning – TBD: It’s been a heck of a series thus far and should only get better.

NY Mets at NY Yankees – 1pm FS1: Subway Series returns with one of the league’s hottest pitchers going for the Mets, Matt Harvey, against someone who is still looking for his old former, CC Sabathia.

 

Sunday April 26th

Arsenal vs Chelsea  – 7:30am NBCSN: Arsenal is the only team left with a shot of catching Chelsea for the league title.

St Louis Blues at Minnesota Wild – Noon NBC: The Wild can close out the series and in the process take out one of the favorites to win the cup.

NY Red Bulls vs LA Galaxy – 2pm ESPN2: There is always room for a New York vs Los Angeles showdown in any sport.

Seattle Sounders vs Portland Timbers – 6:30pm FS1: One of the best rivalries in all of North American sports. Seriously.

The Sunday: Balldudes, Convictions & Fans

On this edition of The Sunday, we look at the week that was. From ball dudes to a large town showing up to a glorified practice in Columbus, OH.

Balldudes Big Night

Major League Baseball teams use various people in foul territory to grab foul balls during a game. Some teams use young women and others young men. The World Champion San Francisco Giants use senior citizens (although that has been expanded to include anyone over the age of 21) called “balldudes” and “balldudettes”.

Last week one balldude, Mark Madden of Sonoma, CA, made a nice catch and later in the night even helped out a lucky fan. Not a bad night for this balldude.

…although sometimes it doesn’t always go this well.

 

The Darkside 

Former NFL Tight End Aaron Hernandez was convicted of first degree murder this past week. He has also been indicted for a double homicide in 2012. Hernandez will more than likely spend the rest of his natural life in a cell.

Former first round draft pick Lawrence Phillips is being investigate for the death of his cellmate in Kern Valley State Prison in California. He is currently serving a sentence of 31 plus years for multiple offenses.

Where did it all go wrong? That’s a separate and much deeper conversation. The point is that even with all of the money, fame, and celebrity, we really don’t know who people are or what they are capable of. You can be sure that NFL teams will be taking an even deeper look into a players background before the upcoming NFL Draft. What we can be sure of is that no one is above the law no matter how many touchdown’s they score.

99,000 Fans and 3 QB’s

The Ohio State University broke their own record as they attracted 99,000 plus people to their spring game on Saturday. For those that don’t know, the spring game is the final scrimmage/practice college football teams can have before fall camp opens in August.

To add to their good news, Ohio State has three quarterbacks vying for the starting role. All have played extremely well when they have had opportunities. It’s a good problem to have if you’re head coach Urban Meyer although a stressful one.

While the game of football has taken some hits over the last few years (and the a Hernandez and Phillips stories don’t help) people still love the game. It’s still top of mind whether it’s college of professional. Granted only a few major college football programs like Ohio State have the fan base to bring in 99,000 people to a glorified scrimmage while others will be lucky to get 10,000. Either way the game of football isn’t going anywhere with this kind of support.

 

What To Watch Fri. 4/17 – Sun. 4/19

All times are Pacific

Friday April 17th

Oakland A’s at KC Royals – 5:10pm MLB.TV: Last time these two teams met it was in the AL Wild Card game.

Chicago Blackhawks at Nashville Predators- 6:30pm NBCSN: This is going to be ‘that’ playoff series.

 

Sunday April 18th

Chelsea vs Manchester United – 9:30am NBC: Chelsea may be the odds on favorite to with the Premier League but Man U will have a say in how close it will be.

Minnesota Wild at St Louis Blues – Noon NBC: The Wild took game one of the series in St Louis. That may have only pissed off the Blues.

Real Salt Lake vs Vancouver Whitecaps – 6:30pm MLS LIVE: Two of the top teams in the West at one of the toughest venues to play at in all of MLS.

 

Sunday April 19th

Food City 500 – 10am FOX: A little short track racing from Bristol, TN.

Portland Trailblazers at Memphis Grizzlies – 5pm TNT: This is going to be the series to watch in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.

Fashion Bucks

By Brad Hubbard  | @bradhubbard

The sports media is always in search of unique stories which is why it is not all that surprising that there is a behind the scenes article on the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks logo redesign and a lot of attention on the NFL’s Cleveland Browns uniform unveiling. While a teams ‘look’ is important it doesn’t translate into better results.

Milwaukee Buck New Logo

Phrases associated with the Bucks new logo are ‘tougher looking’ and ‘greater force’. Perhaps people forget that we are talking about a Deer but hey if it works it works.

The ESPN article dives into the unique process of how a New York design firm created the Bucks new logo. From the incorporation of the ‘M’ in the Deer’s chest to the inclusion of more antlers.

While the Bucks logo is being met with some intrigue, the same can not be said for the Browns new uniforms.

The Browns have, arguably, the boringest logo and uniforms in all of sports. The updated version by Nike didn’t move them out of this category.

Browns New Uniforms

Creativity, debate and a lot of thought went into the Browns redesign and maybe it will withstand the test of time but when compared to the Bucks redesign, it just falls short. Perhaps the material Nike will use will provide some sort of edge for the Browns players but that’s unlikely.

It’s doubtful that the players for the Bucks or the Browns will be affected by the new looks. Talent, preparation and coaching will make a bigger difference than what the colors of the uniforms are. However, these redesigns could help psychologically (maybe) and it certainly generates interest which translates into revenue for the respective teams. Either way, neither team has anything on the University of Oregon.

 

 

 

 

 

The Sunday: Late Edition

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

The Sunday of Masters weekend brings one thing, waiting. Waiting to see if Augusta National is going to rear its ugly head and claim another victim in its rich history.

 

The Master

Spieth

Jordan Spieth is only 21 years old and now he is a Master champion. He is the second youngest to ever win the event behind only Tiger Woods. He was ice cold all four days. Grabbing the lead on Thursday and never looking back.

 

A Long Game

Box Score

When the Boston Red Sox meet the New York Yankees it is a notoriously long game.  Friday night went to a whole new level when they played 19 innings. The game was so long that Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira aged during the game. When it started he was 34 years and old and by the time it ended he had turned 35. It wasn’t all fun and games though, Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli went 0 for 8.

 

Free Johnny

Johnny Manziel was released from rehab over the weekend. He has a long way to go before claiming the starting quarterback job with the Cleveland Browns and living up to the first round draft pick status but at least now he is clean and sober.