Friday, June 18, 2010

Sports Today

The NBA has a serious problem. I know they are just coming off of what should be the best possible ending for any NBA season -- Game 7 of Celtics - Lakers in the NBA Finals -- but damn that sport has just become so totally unwatchable.

I tuned in to watch maybe three or four minutes of actual game time in the fourth quarter on Thursday night, and goddam if the referees did not "Joyce" it up and totally try to determine the outcome of the game. I mean, I barely watched any of the game, and yet just in the few short minutes I was tuned in, I saw no fewer than three plays -- each of which on their own surely seem like a small, insignificant play -- which not only could arguably have gone the other way, but probably should have gone the other way. I saw Kobe Bryant lower his right shoulder and plow right into someone stationary in the middle of the lane on his way to the hoop, it was an obvious charge, and yet there go the ref's hands to his hips to indicate a blocking foul. I watched the Lakers defender clearly tip the ball out of bounce under his own hoop, and the referee immediately award the ball to the Lakers. I saw Rasheed Wallace get called in the crucial final minutes of the game as the Celtics gave up the lead for an over-the-back foul on Pau Gasol that wasn't even close to callable contact.

It's becoming more and more of a problem in sports today. Now more than at any other time in sports history, the referees are slowly but surely asserting their influence over the outcome of the games they are there to call, not participate in. That's what upset me so much about this idiot umpire with the Tigers' perfect game a couple of weeks ago on my first day in Las Vegas. Yes he said all the right things and gave all the appropriate apologies after the fact, but the bottom line is this: any professionally-trained umpire -- especially one in perfect position to see and make a call like Joyce was -- simply should never, ever miss that call, unless he is already predisposed towards missing it. Period. I mean Joyce was right there, staring right at the play. And it wasn't even remotely close, as the replay has clearly shown over and over and over again. How does he miss that call? Yes, everybody makes mistakes, but as an objective viewer of the world around me I can't help but notice the disturbing trend that seems to get worse almost every single year. These officials are exerting more and more influence over the outcomes of sporting events.

You see it in the NFL all the time of course, too. When was the last game you watched where the referees couldn't totally change the outcome by calling a crucial holding penalty on a big play, or that damn pass interference flag being thrown at seemingly the least deserving time (or not thrown at the most deserving time). But the NBA has got to be the worst of all. There is simply zero clarity to the rules of the game, to what is kosher and what consitutes a foul. And then the referees are not held to a uniform standard of how they enforce those rules. They aren't even consistent with themselves quarter to quarter. I've heard about 15 different people say since last night how great the first three quarters of Game 7 were last night. The refs were letting the teams play, it was up and down the court, defensive-minded, tough-as-nails basketball, and the crowd and the viewers really got their money's worth. Then suddenly in the 4th quarter it's like it was different refs. Suddenly there was a whistle every time up and down the court. The Lakers ended up at the line 21 times just in the 4th quarter, of a game they basically won by a couple of baskets. Suddenly, it's a blown out-of-bounds call to give the Lakers a second shot and a new 24 seconds here, it's don't call that obvious foul on Kobe so he doesn't get his fifth early in the fourth quarter there, and it's let's make sure the Celtics don't get that rebound over there by calling a bogus off-the-ball foul.

And before you clowns say it, no I am no kind of a Boston Celtics fan. My lord you people, I am from Philadelphia and grew up hating on the Celtics more than any other team in the sport, bar none. So don't go there. This has nothing to do with me being bitter about the outcome of the series, which I felt was very obvious from day one and from which I never wavered until Kobe and Phil walked off with their billionth titles late in the evening. I have absolutely no personal stake in either team winning this series, I haven't watched the NBA this year and trust me when I say, I don't really care who wins one iota.

I just don't give two craps about the NBA and I cannot imagine when I will again. Ever since they officially caught the referee throwing games to shave points and fix lines -- which was just a couple of years ago, for crying out loud -- with the way the refs in that sport impact the outcome of every single game nowadays, I just don't see how anybody out there can really take those games seriously. I know I sure don't.

Oh, and by the way. Phil Jackson has now won 11 of the last 20 NBA championships. With two different teams, and really that's with three different teams when you take into account how different Kobe's Lakers team is from Shaq's Lakers team some years ago. And the two Bulls teams were distinct as well, though with Michael and Scottie on both along with Phil, I guess we can still count them as the same team. 11 out of 20 NBA championships. What must these other coaches think of themselves?

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Blogger l.e.s.ter said...

Jackson and Popovich together have 15 of the last 21 championships. Sick.

9:56 PM  
Blogger pokeroso said...

I want to agree with you on the Joyce thing but that would be like sticking a fork in my eye because then it wouldn’t itch anymore. And so it goes that I am disagreeing with you thereby taking the “clown” label that all of us naysayer’s take.
The thing is that referees, umpires etc. are human. Wait….what…yes they are human just like the rest of us and human beings aren’t perfect. So if human beings aren’t perfect then it would be a little asinine to require perfection from this group right? Again, only the thought of a clown here.
Part of what makes sport great is the human element and part of that is the sometimes imperfection of the referees. Take a look at this
Good luck with not giving two craps. My guess is you never did in the first place so it would be that hard.

11:04 PM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

To be clear I am not at all trying to say that umps and refs should be perfect all the time, any more than i do a perfect job as a lawyer or anyone else does at their job. But that doesn't change the fact that over time, officials in sporting events are becoming more and more involved in determining the outcome of the game.

I will always believe Joyce is being let off too easy by the public for that abominable, history-altering call.

12:14 AM  
Blogger Shrike said...

The refereeing in the USA - Slovenia World Cup game this morning was questionable to say the least ...


12:58 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Exactly. That soccer game today is exactly what I am talking about. That ref can't even now explain who he called the foul on or why. But he just did it. And lookie there, it impacted the outcome of the game. Score another one for the refs!

1:38 AM  
Blogger 1Queens Up1 said...

I think your anger about Joyce is misdirected.
Joyce made a mistake, and his performance report (report cards?) should reflect the mistake. But i think the big deal about this particular play is more because it was the last out of the game, it shouldnt matter if he messed up the first out and then the guy goes on to pitch a perfect game.

My problem with this situation is:
Bud Selig has the power as commish to change things, for example when he went through the records in the early 90s and wiped a bunch of no-hitters off the record. So he's saying its ok to do that but not make things right when they were clearly wrong?

Detroit should have protested the game at that point which would have forced the league to review it, and most likely the last out would have been replayed. Thats why protests are in the game of baseball in the first place!!

Makes no sense to me...

1:44 AM  
Blogger OES said...

Im not even going to read this. Somehow I just KNEW you were going to say something negative about the NBA and sports.

5:16 AM  

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