Monday’s Seven Casual Contemplations

It’s Monday, time to start your work day off right with some random thoughts, ideas, rants and ramblings from the past 7 days in the world of sports. However, it’s a holiday Monday up here in Canada. Happy Victoria Day everyone! Long live the Queen. Sucks to be American today, eh. Anyways, exclusive to Painting the Black, here are your Monday Morning Casual Contemplations.

Robot Umpires

Brett Lawrie’s childish, dim-witted, foolish or whatever you want to call it outburst against umpire Bill Miller on Tuesday really brought MLB umpires under the microscope. Lawrie was not wrong for being upset at Miller but his over the top reaction was wrong. His throwing of the helmet in his direction was just plain dumb.

Miller screwed up big time but that doesn’t mean robot umpires are the answer. I am not in favour of robot umpires. I’m not sure why because I am tired of human umpires and their, at times, seemingly limitless strike zone as I outlined in my Monday casual contemplations 3 weeks ago. Tennis has brought in video review but the line judges still exist. However, controversy is something that tennis has lost with the implementation of the challenge system. Controversy that made John McEnroe famous. The Brett Lawrie story was big news last week and brought a lot of press to Major League Baseball, which is always good for a league trying to compete with the more popular sports of the NFL and NBA.

Nonetheless, the inconsistent interpretations of a strike zone have always been and still are too much. Umpires are given too much leeway. It’s not part of the charm of baseball. The plate is there to determine what is inside and what is outside. There should be no varying interpretations of that.

If the MLB is willing to rein the umpires in and create a more consistent inside-outside zone that matches home plate then robot umpires are definitely not the answer.

Too Many Timeouts

Almost every time I watch a basketball game I think to myself the same thing – there are too many timeouts. The plethora of timeouts hurts the flow of the game. Teams do not need 6 timeouts a half. They don’t need a timeout to attempt to halt the momentum of an opposing team’s 10-0 run. Figure it out on the court. Baseball suffers from a similar issue with catchers constantly visiting the mound that slow the game down to a snail’s pace.

6 timeouts plus the TV timeouts is ridiculous. You cut that number in half and it would really help the game. It’s pretty much unbearable towards the finish of close 4th quarter games. I’ll tell my non-basketball watching brother there’s a minute left in the game. He knows that probably means 5 or 10. It doesn’t have to be that way though if they would reduce the number of timeouts. I guess the amount of commercial breaks is an issue but that is something I could care less about.

Don’t get me wrong, I love watching basketball. However, fouls slow the pace of the game enough as it already is. I would love watching the game even more if there wasn’t this overabundance of timeouts.

Drew Brees Suck it Up

I know what Drew Brees has done for the Saints franchise. He won a Super Bowl. He’s the face of the Katrina rebuild. Thanks in large part to Drew Brees, the Saints gave the city of New Orleans something to root for after all was lost. As Brees argues, he outplayed his $60 million contract. That cannot be denied.

However, Drew Brees is the one being so difficult in his contract negotiation. Management shouldn’t be the side forced to get a deal done. People are saying that the front office needs to take care of Brees, particularly because of the unstable environment the Saints find themselves in. No, they don’t have to take care of him to the tune of his asking price of $23 million. Come on, they were the only ones who took care of him when no one else would.

Drew Brees is being selfish. This is so hard for me to say about the guy who was my desktop background for the better part of the last 2 years but it’s true. He was my favourite football player. From the man who is painted as the ultimate selfless competitor, it’s shocking that he is unable to be the bigger man to help his own franchise out. Hell, by Brees refusing the Saints (low-ball???) offer of $18 million, the Saints were unable to keep his all-pro left guard Carl Nicks. Forget helping your team out, help yourself out Drew.

Tom Brady and Peyton Manning (when he was in Indy) chose to take less than their market value for the greater good of the franchise. What’s wrong with Drew Brees? Whether his motives be selfish or unselfish for taking a bit less money, Drew Brees should compromise with the Saints.

I’ll never forget this quote from Chipper Jones who never was among the 4 highest players in the MLB. Chipper said that “Nowadays, so many players play the game for the 1st and 15th [pay days], but I never have. Certainly, I want to be compensated fairly for what I do, but I wasn’t going to hold the organization over a barrel. And I never wanted to be a player who makes so much money that we can’t stay competitive on the field. That was my main concern.”

Drew Brees was lucky that the Saints were willing to take a chance on him in the first place. He says that he deserves more because he outplayed his contract. So $18 million a season isn’t fair for a guy living in a city where so many people are still feeling the devastating effects of Katrina?

You know what’s “extremely frustrating” Drew?

It’s you.

Dale Hunter’s Plans

Dale Hunter surprised most everyone this past week by stepping down as the coach of the Washington Capitals. After hearing of his decision to step down the first thought that came into my mind was that he planned it this way all along. Dale Hunter had no intentions of coming back to Washington. He said it was a difficult decision but he knew a while ago that he was going home to London.

That’s why he didn’t have to worry about the repercussions of benching Ovechkin and Semin. In his mind, he knew this was a one and done situation. He could coach the way he wanted and not have to answer to management, the fans or the media because after a few short months the stress would be over.

Will Rhymes

On Wednesday, Will Rhymes was innocently hit on the right arm with a pitch. Well, it seemed innocent. He went on to pass out at first base. Fortunately, he was okay and was back in the lineup Sunday. Since Rhymes was not seriously injured, the story has not gotten much press.

I feel though that this is exactly the incident that exhibits the dangers of throwing at people simply to uphold the baseball code. I wrote about the stupidity that surrounds old time baseball after the Cole Hamels fiasco. This wasn’t one of those upholding the baseball code moments and Rhymes was not hurt badly. But if someone can pass out from getting hit on the arm, what could happen if someone got hit on the head in the wrong place? The human body is a sturdy machine but freak accidents do happen. I said it before and I’ll say it again, let’s pray to God that it doesn’t take a death or fatal injury for the MLB to step up and be intent on creating a culture change in the game.

NBA Seeding

I don’t know why the NBA still doesn’t re-seed after each round. The March Madness style bracket is just more fuel to the fire of those who think the regular season is meaningless. We shouldn’t even be talking about the trouble the Miami Heat are having with the Indiana Pacers right now because they should be playing the 76ers. Top teams have to be rewarded for a good regular season. Boston rested its players and ended up with the 8 seed in the 2nd round.

Re-seed. It’s not very difficult.

American League Imbalance

The Toronto Blue Jays sit at 3rd in the American League East but only one team outside of their division has more wins than the Jays. Of course, that would be the Texas Rangers.

I giveth thou, the American League.

Bonus (Shameless?) Contemplation!

Hit me up on twitter and then maybe give me a follow @paintstheblack. If you like what you see around the blog, subscribe either through the email subscription in the right hand corner or with the RSS feed so you can have immediate access to the latest articles on Painting the Black. Just…awesome.

Monday’s Seven Casual Contemplations

Welcome to the new weekly segment on Painting the Black. It is my goal to start your work week off right with random thoughts, ideas, rants and ramblings from the week that was in the world of sports. Hey look, today is a Monday and it’s the 7th, quelle coincidence. Exclusive to Painting the Black, here are your Monday Morning Casual Contemplations…

Illogical NHL Refereeing

Playoff hockey is the worst for referees. The whistles disappear like Lebron in the 4th quarter. It’s not a pretty sight. ‘Let them play’ is their mantra. Of course, by ‘letting them play,’ the refs are simply ruining the game.

It is even worse in the 3rd period and overtime when penalties are only ever called for high sticking, delay of game and, my personal favourite (not really), slashing ONLY when the stick breaks. The referees refuse to make calls on legitimate penalties but for accidental or freak incidents such as the infractions I previously mentioned where the penalty has to be called. It just doesn’t make sense that the rule book becomes so restricted in the most pressure packed circumstances. It is so frustrating and almost impossible to understand how a blatant trip, hook or hold can be ignored while these other penalties have been deemed must calls by the referees. They should all be must calls.

The fact that a wild, unintentional stick that just so happens to strike the face of an opponent is always called yet other penalties that constantly prevent scoring opportunities are intentionally overlooked is absolutely absurd. This is part of the reason why the NHL has so many multiple overtime games. It becomes so difficult to score because power plays are virtually non-existent in late and close playoff games. If you know me, I sound like a broken record for saying this but this is the type of thing that was supposed to be fixed after the lockout. It is wrong that this is the norm and that people as well as the NHL, year in and year out, accept it for what it is.

Kellen Moore and the CFL

I, among many others, was surprised to see Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore go undrafted. He signed on with the Detroit Lions so it’s a pretty safe bet to say that he won’t be getting much playing anytime soon.

Kellen Moore is a perfect candidate for the Canadian Football League. Never mind all the Americans who ignorantly perpetuate the myth that the CFL is a hack league. By the way, not all Canadians live in igloos. The CFL is chalk full of undersized and underappreciated talent. It is perfect for Kellen Moore.

The stigma associated with the CFL and pride of NFL hopefuls probably prevents a lot of players from giving the CFL a shot but it’s really a wonder why more NCAA quarterbacks like Kellen Moore don’t come north of the border straight out of college. NFL scouts understand the quality of the CFL. That’s why more and more guys such as Cameron Wake and Stefan Logan, tagged as a tweener and too small respectively when they began their pro careers, have gotten their shot to play and succeed in the NFL.

The best way to improve at the quarterback position is to play on a regular basis. Kellen Moore isn’t going to get that opportunity with the Detroit Lions. It may not be the NFL but it’s the next best thing. Instead of bouncing around the league and standing on the sideline holding a clipboard, Kellen Moore could get an opportunity at some legitimate playing time and prove that he has the chops to play professional football at a high level. Except for maybe the money, it is a no loss situation.

Challenges in the MLB

Tim Welke made one of the worst calls in MLB history the other day when he called the runner out at first despite Todd Helton being a good 3 feet off the bag. It was terrible but I still feel bad for Tim Welke. He is forever immortalized in baseball history. It could have been prevented though.

It’s baffling that the MLB hasn’t adopted some form of a challenge system. They added umpire review for home runs and it has saved a number of umpires the disgrace of being wrong on potential game changing home runs. They have the technology but much like FIFA refuse to utilize it. Inputting a challenge system for determining whether runners are safe or out would be easier than Madonna is on a Friday night at the club. 1 challenge per team. If the manager is right he keeps his challenge, if he is wrong he is out of challenges for the game.

It wouldn’t slow the game down much. Definitely not more than the excessive visits to the mounds (that should be restricted I might add). Football, hockey, basketball and tennis have all made the transition to video replay for the great benefit of their sports. Baseball must do the same. I know that Armando Gallaraga concurs with that sentiment.

White Outs

NBA teams should wear colours at home. I’m tired of seeing these shirt giveaways that create a white out in the crowd. It’s just so unimaginative. Of course, when the Thunder gave all their fans blue shirts in their series opener, guess what colour the Dallas Mavericks were wearing? Yeah, blue. Dallas did the same thing when they came home for game 3. In the NHL, teams wear their colours at home and white on the road. I know white has long been associated with home but it makes a lot more sense that teams should be wearing the colours that match the merchandise their fans have purchased or have been given. It looks a lot better too.

Alexander Ovechkin vs. Dale Hunter

Something’s gotta give in the Ovechkin-Hunter feud as Washington Capitals head coach Dale Hunter has substantially diminished the ice time of his superstar player throughout these Stanley Cup Playoffs. That something that’s going to give will be Dale Hunter. The only way Hunter can continue to give Ovechkin average player minutes is if Washington somehow goes on to win a Stanley Cup. They have overachieved so far and I don’t see them getting their hands on the Holy Grail without Ovechkin playing his heart out for 20 plus minutes a game.

Ovechkin has been a good sport about his benching this time around. He is saying the right things but he won’t put up with this for much longer, especially since he is starting to produce offensively. Ownership won’t stand for this diminished ice time either if it somehow continues into next season. Despite a couple of off years, Ovechkin puts the butts of Washington fans into the seats at the Verizon Center. Ovie is the most marketable commodity in the NHL and Washington ownership no doubt wants to exploit that. Whether you agree with him or not, you have to respect Dale Hunter for his harsh stance on Ovechkin’s playing time but he is foolish if he believes that he can continue doing this and last as head coach of the Capitals.

The Baltimore Orioles Are Good?

There are few sure things in life. The sun will rise in the east and set in the west, Bill Belichick will wear a hoodie and the Baltimore Orioles will be bad.

I guess life is just full of surprises. As if the AL East division wasn’t already the toughest division in baseball, the Baltimore Orioles have started out the season 19-9 and sit in first place, a half game up on Tampa Bay. The Blue Jays have become the dark horse team outside the big 3 in the American League but with Baltimore joining in on the fun the AL East does not feature a weak team. It was always a given that the Orioles would be bad. Everyone in the American League could feel a little better about their team’s fortunes because of the Orioles.

Although it is early and fortunes could change quickly, the Orioles appear destined to fight for a playoff spot come August and September. While the Royals, Twins, White Sox, Athletics and Mariners tear up the Central and West divisions, the East no longer has a true weak team. I giveth you, the unfairness of life in the American League East.

Miami Heat and the Final Shot

Although Miami has been able to improve on a number of issues from last season, the question of who takes the shots in late and close game situations has still been left unanswered. As much as Lebrick is made fun of for his inability to perform in the 4th quarter, he has shown flashes of brilliance in the clutch.

Dwayne Wade took the final shot in game 4 Sunday afternoon. He took the shot regardless of the fact that Lebron had just made a 3 and completed an And 1 opportunity. Lebron was hot but Erik Spoelstra drew up the play for D-Wade to run. Last year it was the opposite as Lebron was given the reigns to finish off the game while Dwayne Wade, even in the midst of a stellar performance, stood helplessly to the side and watched.

It would seem to me that going with the hot hand would be the easy and rational choice for Erik Spoelstra. It doesn’t make sense to have one guy that you have to go to in a certain situation when you have Lebron James and Dwayne Wade on the same team. Kobe Bryant can take the game winning shot after he goes 3 for 21 in a game because he is the only superstar on his team and because he is Kobe Bryant. Erik Spoelstra has the luxury (or curse if you’re a glass half empty kind of guy) of two dominant wing guys so it’s hard to go wrong with simply choosing the player who is feeling it at the time.

Bonus (Shameless?) Contemplation!

I was thinking that you might want to check me out on twitter and then give me a follow @paintstheblack if you like what you’re seeing. Maybe before you do that, don’t leave the website and subscribe to the blog either through the email subscription in the right hand corner or with the RSS feed so you can have immediate access to the latest articles on Painting the Black. Sweet, I know.

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