What To Watch Fri. 7/31 – Sun. 8/2

All times are Pacific.

Friday July 31st

KC Royals at Toronto Blue Jays – 4pm MLB.TV: Two teams that have made moves to make the playoffs. Should be a helluva series.

Edmonton Eskimos at Saskatchewan Roughriders – 6pm ESPN2: Probably not the most ideal matchup of the weekend but it’s football on a Friday night.

 

Saturday August 1st

LA Angels at LA Dodgers -1pm FS1: Heck of pitching matchup and two teams that are serious playoff contenders.

Montreal Alouettes at Calgary Stampeders – 4pm ESPN3: Now this is the game to watch in the CFL this weekend.

Colorado Rapids vs LA Galaxy – 6pm MLS Live: LA may have stars like Robbie Keane, Steven Gerrard and Omar Gonzalez but Colorado has been one of the hotter teams in MLS (winners if three in a row). Should make for an interesting matchup.

UFC 190 – 7pm PPV: It’s Ronda Rousey….who care who she is destroying.

 

Sunday August 2nd

SJ Earthquakes vs Portland Timbers -2pm ESPN2: Portland got taken behind the woodshed last weekend and Wondo is back for SJ. Lot or reasons to watch this one.

Washington Nationals at NY Mets -5pm ESPN: Well, at least there is some baseball on.

 

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Brand In Trouble

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

Adidas is in trouble. No really. They are getting their ass kicked in just about every way by Nike and Under Armour. While one of their brands, Reebok, is doing the best they can at staving off elimination, it may not be enough for the iconic German brand to survive.

Nike is the best of breed and that’s a fact. From the Jumpman brand to a logo that doesn’t even need a word for you to know who it represents.

nike-swoosh

Under Armour is coming on strong. It signed a massive deal to be the brand for Notre Dame (some deal worth around $90 million) and have under contract the hottest player in the NBA (Stephen Curry), a future Hall of Fame quarterback as a partial owner (Tom Brady) and the best American golfer since Tiger Woods in Jordan Spieth.

Adidas meanwhile is losing market valuation. They are around $15 billion while Under Armour is around $20 billion and Nike is around $100 billion. The German company has pinned it’s hopes on the beautiful game. While that is noble, it is also falling behind in other sports and it recently lost an SEC school (Tennessee) to Nike which is never a good sign.

Like we mentioned earlier, the Reebok brand is making a noble effort. Reebok has become a title apparel sponsor for the UFC and CrossFit. While all that is well and good, it doesn’t distract from the fact that they are coming in a distance third in the originality department.

ReeboxTheir logo looks like the laser site from Predator and their image campaign uses the same song from the GoPro Hero 4 image campaign that came out last fall (‘Run Boy Run’ by Woodkid).

predator-laser-sightPredator_39Originality is key in this business. Nike and Under Armour have it and Adidas doesn’t. The cool factor plays in too which Nike and Under Armour have and Adidas doesn’t. Heck, part of the reason Tom Brady signed with Under Armour was the fact that that was the brand he was seeing in the locker room and on younger players.

Adidas needs a bad ass at the top to stop the bleeding. Nike has Mark Parker and Under Armour has Kevin Plank, two of the more respected CEO’s in America. Adidas has Herbert Hainer in Germany……..exactly.

Adidas is a solid brand. It can make good products but this business isn’t all about who makes the best product. It’s a coolness factor, the latest trend combined with innovation. Adidas better get it together because right now, they are an Under Armour purchase of Lululemon away from being completely irrelevant.

 

 

 

 

What to Watch Sat. 7/25-Sun. 7/26

All times are Pacific.

REMOTE-contrast

Saturday July 25th

USMNT vs Panama – 1pm FS2: The disappointing third place game for two teams who expected to be playing in the final.

Washington Nationals at Pittsburgh Pirates – 4pm MLB.TV: Two possible playoff teams and two good pitchers (Gonzalez vs Burnett).

FC Dallas vs Portland Timbers – 6pm MLS LIVE: FC Dallas leads the West but Portland has turned it around and are only three points back in the standings.

UFC on FOX – 5pm FOX: TJ Dillashaw vs Renan Barao square off for the second time. Meisha Tate vs Jennifer Eye and the always exciting Joe Lauzon vs Takanori Gomi.

Sunday July 26th

Tour de France – 7am NBCSN: Final leg of this years Tour. It’s really just a celebration leg but it’s fun all the same.

NASCAR Brickyard 400 – 12:30pm NBCSN: One of the better NASCAR races to watch this season. Jeff Gordon has owned this place. He is looking for his 6th career win at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Gold Cup Final: Jamaica vs Mexico -4:30pm FS1: We usually expect Mexico to be in this situation but not Jamaica. Can they keep up their winning ways and go home with a trophy?

The Time Has Come

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

Becky Hammon just keeps on keeping on. From undrafted free agent to six time all-star in the WNBA and now head coach of the NBA Summer League Champion San Antonio Spurs. She continues to show that wherever she goes, success follows.

Becky Hammon

The Hammon led Spurs reeled off six wins in a row to win the Summer League Championship. She can put that trophy on the mantle along with the fact she is the first women to be a full time NBA assistant coach.

Some people used to say that it was only a matter of time before a woman was a coach of a mens professional team. Well that time looks like it may have come. While the sample size is small it is still proof that a women can coach a mens team successfully at the professional level. We can make exceptions all we want, the fact is that a woman lead a mens team to a championship at the professional level.

Year after year we see the same coaches recycled in professional sports. On occasion we get fresh blood and fresh ideas embodied in the likes of  Hammon or Joe Moglia. The insiders always cite experience as the end all be all for a head coach but more times than not taking a chance on someone with something to prove is the best move one can make. It would be a shame to not see Hammon get a head coaching gig in the next few years. All she needs is a chance.

The Sunday: Tough

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

ATTACK

It’s a debate as to which professional sport is the toughest. All have physical, mental and environmental demands however no other sport has the possibility of a shark attack during it’s competition.

Professional surfer Mick Fanning was attacked by a shark during a competition in South Africa. He escaped with no physical injuries and the rest of the competition was cancelled.

 

DEFECTIONS

Cuba and the United States may be on speaking terms again but that hasn’t prevented four players from the Cuban Men’s National Team from defecting during the Gold Cup. The latest happened on Friday, the day before it’s match against the United States in which they lost 6-0.

You would think that defections like this would be coming to end with relations between the two countries opening up again. It appears that life in America still provides more opportunity than life in Cuba.

 

LEGAL BATTLE

The NFL is being sued again. While this doesn’t come as a surprise to many the reason for the lawsuit may be, NFL Sunday Ticket. A class action lawsuit has been filed claiming that NFL Sunday Ticket is violating two provisions of the Sherman Antitrust Act.

This lawsuit comes on the heels of another lawsuit filed by fans back in June. Add that to the lawsuits around concussions and the NFLs legal department is earning every bit of their salaries.

What To Watch Fri. 7/17- Sun. 7/19

All times are Pacific.

Friday July 17th

The Open – 1am ESPN: The second round of the Open from St Andrews.

Tour de France – 6am NBCSN: Stage 13 could be a good day for some riders to make their move.

BC Lions at Saskatchewan Roughriders – 7:00pm ESPN3: The Riders need a win bad. Being at home on a Friday night should help.

Saturday July 18th

The Open – 4am ESPN: Third round action from St Andrews.

UFC Fight Night – 10am FS1: The UFC in Scotland for the first time. Michael Bisping headlines but the fight of the night should be Ross Pearson vs Evan Dunham.

LA Dodgers at Washington Nationals – 1pm FS1: These two teams could be meeting later in the playoffs.

USMNT vs Cuba – 2pm FOX: Quarterfinals are under way in the Gold Cup and the US made some roster moves. Let’s see if they help against a team they should beat.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Calgary Stampeders – 4pm ESPN3: Well the defending Grey Cup champion Stampeders sure haven’t been boring this year.

 

Sunday July 19th

The Open – 4am ESPN: The final round.

Tour de France -5am NBCSN: Stage 15 in southern France.

Mexico vs Costa Rica – 4:30pm FS1: Arguably the best matchup of the Quarterfinals of the Gold Cup.

Boston Red Sox at LA Angels – 5pm ESPN: Get away game and an opportunity to see some of the better ball players in the game like Mike Trout and Dustin Pedroia.

The Sunday: Leaps, Bounds, Explosions & Crashes

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

Whatever It Takes

Well the fact of the matter is that it was stupid move but no one ever became a legend by playing it safe. On Friday night a SF Giants fan (we presume) leaped over the railing and into McCovey Cove for a Joe Panik home run ball. While not the smartest move, it was still awesome.

 

Rumblin’

Ottawa defensive lineman Zack Evans intercepted a pass and went 65 yards for a touchdown (or as they say in the CFL, a ‘major score’). Best part, he held the ball high and tight with three points of pressure. Dr. Lou would be proud.

 

No More Fireworks For NFL Players

During the next round of contract negotiations you can bet that there will be a ‘no handling fireworks’ provision. This is because two NFL players lost finger(s) this past 4th of July setting off fireworks. Tampa Bay cornerback CJ Wilson lost two fingers while NY Giants star Jason Pierre-Paul had one amputated. Pierre-Paul may suffer a little more because after the incident, the Giants pulled a contract offer worth $60 million.

 

Crash

Last week saw two spectacular crashes. The first happened late Sunday night at the finish of the Coke Zero 400. Fans were hurt but amazingly driver Austin Dillion walked away from the crash.

The next day in Stage 3 of the Tour de France, a massive pile up occurred which ended the race for six riders including contender Fabian Cancellara

What To Watch Fri. 7/10 – Sun. 7/12

All times are Pacific.

Friday July 10th

Montreal Alouettes at Winnipeg Blue Bombers – 4pm ESPN2: Football on a Friday night. Check out the Al’s new QB, former Marshall record setter Rakeem Cato. He only went 20-25 for 241 yards and three TD’s. And that was his first ever CFL game!

Gold Cup: USMNT vs Haiti – 5:30pm FS1: The US were ok  in their 2-1 win over Honduras. Haiti could present some different problems.

 

Saturday July 11th

Tour de France – 5am NBC: Stage 8 is 181.5km of cycling joy.

Wimbledon Women’s Final – 6am ESPN: Serena Williams looks for her 21st Grand Slam title.

New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox – 4pm FOX: While the Red Sox are not in the best shape it is still one of the best rivalries in all of sports.

UFC 189 – 7pm PPV: Conor McGregor takes on Chad Mendes for the interim Featherweight belt and Robbie Lawler takes on Rory MacDonald for the Welterweight title. Two title fights are usually worth the price of admission or a ppv.

 

Sunday July 12th

Tour de France – 5am NBCSN: It’s stage 9 and that means team time trials.

Wimbledon Mens’ Final – 5am ESPN: Roger Federer takes on Novak Djokovic face off….again. This will be the 40th time they have faced off with Federer leading the matchups 20-19.

St Louis Cardinals at Pittsburgh Pirates – 5pm ESPN: Pirates have a chance to get a little closer to the division leading Cards.

Vancouver Whitecaps vs Sporting KC – 6pm MLS Live: Vancouver is coming off a tough loss in Colorado but SKC is shorthanded due to the Gold Cup.

Baseball At Its Finest

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

Baseball is still one of the more popular sports in America. On some nights you are reminded as to why it is and Tuesday night was one of those nights.

2013 NL MVP Andrew McCutchen turned from centerfielder to grounds crew helper on Tuesday. A storm began to roll into Pittsburgh and as McCutchen and second baseman Sean Rodriguez looked on, a member of the grounds crew was overtaken by the tarp designed to cover the infield from the rain. McCutchen, Rodriquez and others hurried to help free the man and get the tarp laid across the field.

Later that night, San Francisco Giants right fielder Hunter Pence made a play that epitomizes what an All-Star should be; aware, fearless and full of hustle. Pence streaked into foul territory, made a diving catch and then popped to his feet and threw out a run at home. All this in his first game back from the disabled list.

So when you think a professional ballplayer is paid too much, doesn’t try hard enough, or doesn’t care just remember these two moments. These two moments show why American’s still love their baseball.

NBC Sports Fails Again

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

We’ve been critical of NBC Sports on this site but we feel for good reason. They put themselves before the fans which is a problem. From the pre game shows they sneak in when the TV listings state that the game should be starting to NBC Sports Chairman Mark Lazarus suggesting that NHL players shouldn’t grow beards during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Well let’s add the Tour De France to this list of how NBC Sports and their parent company Comcast stick it to the fans.

NBC SPORT TOUR DE FRANCE

It’s the 102nd running of the Tour De France and while cycling is a niche sport in the United States and lacks a Lance Armstrong-esq personality, the event is still one of sports most grueling physical and mental tests. It’s niche classification apparently makes it ok for NBC Sports (owned by cable giant Comcast) to charge fans for online access. While it’s only $30 for the entire tour – which runs until July 26th – it’s still something that sets a bad precedent.

Previously NBC Sports and other networks like ESPN have allowed fans to watch broadcasts online after authenticating a cable/satellite subscription. NBC Sports is now putting that aside and saying ‘nope, that’s not enough. You fans need to pay more.’

This hurts cycling fans and in the end hurts the sport. While the backlash will be minimal due to the small cycling fanbase, one can only image what would happen if NBC Sports pulled the same move during the Stanley Cup Final citing lack of interest due to one of the teams being a ‘small market’ team.

Is the $100 plus cable/Internet bill not enough for NBC Sports parent Comcast to cover the costs of broadcasting the Tour De France? Does the extra $30 from from say 10,000 fans put them over the top? We really doubt it. Especially since Comcast had revenue of $68 billion in 2014. It’s just another case of NBC Sports (and Comcast) sticking it to their customers.

Make no mistake, we would be complementing NBC Sports right now if they sold online access to the ‘cord-cutters’ but allowed paying cable/satellite subscribers free access….but they’re not. It’s feast or famine and at the end of the day it’s bad business. You would generate more revenue by going this route. The passive or new cycling fan who has a cable/satellite subscription could watch. The hard-core cycling fan could watch too even if they are a dreaded ‘cord-cutter’.

NBC Sports approach is short term thinking to a long term issue. It only proves once again that NBC Sports (and Comcast) puts profits in front of the fans/customers and they are still too naive to realize that without the fans/customers there would be no profits.