Archive for February, 2012

Why keep Leap Day in February?

- February 29th, 2012

This isn’t sports related, but it’s the best forum that I have so I’ll just come out and say it: I have a beef with Leap Day.

It’s not the fact that we have an extra day every fourth year because I do understand the reason for it. Because of the inexactness of the actual time it take the earth to rotate around the sun, our calendars don’t exactly match up, creating a difference of about six hours every year. Leap Day is the means to keep the two in sync.

But why did the Powers That Be have to make February one day longer?

The most common response that you’d get is that it’s the shortest month, so why not give it the extra day? Understandable, but they’re missing the point: It’s February!

Nobody wants an extra day of perhaps the worst month on the calendar. Nobody wants an extra day of cold, windy winter (although it may not be the best year to bring up bad winter weather). No child wants an extra day of school, either. Nobody certainly wants an extra day of the blahs.

Why can’t we move Leap Day to a better destination on the calendar: June.

Think about what we’d be getting: An extra day of summer; a nice gift of knowing that every fourth year, your vacation could be one day longer. It would even make Canada Day weekend that little bit more special knowing that Leap Day is involved.

Now, I know that technically, we won’t be guaranteed another actual day of summer. But this move would be a massive psychological boost to the world in a time with a ton of depression. It’s more about the mental effect than anything.

You obviously couldn’t take an extra day onto May, July or August since they already have 31 days and by the end of September, it’s already starting to get into the fall chills.

As for those born on February 29, they’d get the novelty of knowing that they’ll never age another year (technically).

So, if anyone can think of a better reason as to why we can’t move Leap Day, or at least start a campaign to have it considered, I’m all ears. And if the best reason that you can come up with is that “this is how it has always been,” well that’s just not good enough. And if you can find a person that would rather have an extra day in February than in June, well they might be just as crazy as Leap Day’s originators.

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NASCAR’s Super Bowl is really minor league

- February 28th, 2012

Thanks to some poor weather on Sunday that carried into Monday morning down on Daytona Beach, Florida, NASCAR’s most prestigious race, the Sprint Cup Series’ Super Bowl, went green in prime time on Monday night.

But was the Daytona 500 ready for prime time? Well, you can argue both ways.

Many will argue that the best part about NASCAR is the crashes and the Daytona 500 had its fair share of them. In fact, there were 10 cautions with the first coming on only the second lap. That accident took out former Sprint Cup champ Jimmie Johnson and severely hindered Danica Patrick’s chances at doing anything significant – she finished the race but was an astounding 62 laps off the pace.

But that early wreck wasn’t even the most newsworthy or even noteworthy in terms of star power.

While already on a caution, Juan Pablo Montoya lost control of his car and slammed into the back of a truck using a jet engine to clear the track of debris. The explosion – which sadly wasn’t caught very well on camera – and ensuing blaze resulted in a two-plus-hour delay.

With the jet’s fuel tank ruptured, roughly 200 gallons of kerosene poured onto the track, causing a glorious blaze that took the safety crew a while to put out. Thank God that nobody was injured in the wreck or fire – Montoya even hopped out of his wrecked race car and walked away.

But here’s where things went even worse. For two hours viewers were left with nothing but shots of crew trying to clean and repair the track, drivers standing by their cars talking and replays of the race. Does that not sound like great prime time TV to you? It certainly doesn’t to me – the desker assigned to that page.

I know that there’s no way to plan for this sort of thing, but why didn’t FOX have a contingency plan? Did they not have anything plan if there was a delay of any sorts? What if a small pocket of rain had come through – enough to stop the race, but not end it? These sort of things need to be worked out before a major event like this.

For something that is supposed to be NASCAR’s Super Bowl, it was decidedly minor league.

Why would you mess with Ichiro?

- February 23rd, 2012

The Mariners are screwing up their 2012 season already. Camp hasn’t even started at they’re already messing with the one certainty of their batting lineup by moving Ichiro Suzuki to the third spot, away from his usual leadoff post.

Why in the world would they want to do that? Ichiro has hit leadoff since coming to America ten years ago and has done an excellent job doing so. He has a .326 career batting average and a .370 OBP although his numbers did dip last season. In 2011, he only had a split of .272 and .310. It was also the first time in his career that he didn’t amass at least 200 hits.

The move really doesn’t make sense for two reasons: They don’t have anyone to replace him atop the lineup card and Ichiro isn’t the right type of hitter to bat third.

Let’s take a quick look at his possible leadoff replacements:

-Chone Figgins: He’s 34 years old, batted leadoff for the Angels earlier in his career and has been terrible since joining the Mariners. He hit only .188 last season in 81 games, missing the other half of the season injured. In his two Seattle seasons combined, he has hit a meek .236. He is – startlingly – the Mariners’ most likely leadoff replacement.

-Franklin Gutierrez: He’s a speedy centre fielder that is playing more for his defensive capabilities. He hit .224 last year with a .261 OBP. Not exactly a nice resume, but probably a better option than Figgins.

-Dustin Ackley: Pretty much set for the No. 2 spot in the lineup. He’s a good young prospect but will be better at driving in runs. He doesn’t really have leadoff man speed either.

-The others: Brendan Ryan is a journeyman and Mike Carp doesn’t have the speed either. Both are far more likely than Justin Smoak or Jesus Montero though.

Then there’s the question of why move Ichiro to the three-spot when he doesn’t fit there. He doesn’t have home-run power and he has not regularly displayed power to the gaps. If Seattle thinks that this is going to change at the age of 38, they must be crazy.

Ichiro is a slap-single hitter and shouldn’t try to change his style this late in the game. Seattle Mariners manager Eric Wedge shouldn’t be tinkering with the team to fit his plan; he should be adjusting his plan to fit this team.

So, when the Mariners open against Oakland in Japan, let’s just hope we see Ichiro getting the first at bat. I’m sure the fans out there will want to see that too.

A good sign of things to come in the NBA?

- February 21st, 2012

The following quote is exactly the reason why the NBA needs to adopt the NHL’s idea of having a fantasy draft for the players involved in the all-star. It comes from John Wall, last year’s rookie of the year runner-up who was selected 11th overall in the rookie-sophomore draft.

“It’s a joke to me. If they think there are 11 guys better than me, then that’s their decision. But I know what I think in my mind and all I can do is go out there and play basketball the way I know how to play.”

No hockey player would ever step out and say something like that. They don’t really care where they’re taken and even if they’re upset, they’d probably just make a joke about it.

Not basketball players, they take slights like this personally and now I can’t wait to see Wall try to prove everyone wrong during the rookie-sophomore game. There already is a minimal amount of defence played in that ‘showcase’ anyway, but I can see Wall trying to show up everybody – including current sensation and No. 3 pick in the game’s fantasy draft, Jeremy Lin.

One can only hope that having the fantasy draft, conducted by Shaq and Charles Barkley on Thursday, for this game is just a test to see if it would work for the actual all-star game. If it is a test, I will say right now that it’s going to pass with flying colours.

Follow me @danbilicki

Lin-sanity is greater than Tebow-mania

- February 16th, 2012

You might not believe it, but somehow the unlikely story of Jeremy Lin just keeps getting better. After hitting the game-winning three-pointer with 0.5 seconds remaining in Toronto on Tuesday night, Lin had a career-high 13 assists against the Kings back in New York on Wednesday.

Sadly, his streak of scoring at least 20 points in each of his first seven starts came to an end, but he did only play 26 minutes in the game and didn’t step on the floor in the fourth quarter of the Knicks’ blowout win over Sacramento.

The only concern about Lin’s play thus far has been his turnovers. He has at least six in each of his past four games. Maybe it’s because teams are starting to figure him out, or maybe he’s just trying to force the ball too much. Given the circumstances of his sudden rise, it would be hard for him not to be pushing himself, right?

Of course, the biggest hurdle Lin still has to face is the return of Carmelo Anthony to the lineup. It’ll be interesting to see if Melo can mellow out on his ball-hogging ways. If he truly embraces the rise of Lin and lets the phenomenon do his thing: Making everyone around him better – including Anthony.

Now, the most ridiculous comparison to come out about Lin is to Tim Tebow. The only two parallels they have are that they both became stars relatively quickly and that all they do is win. Let’s break this down quickly.

-Tebow was the best player in college football and won a Heisman; Lin played his college ball at Harvard, where you never expect a decent player to come out of.

-Fans campaigned for Tebow to start in Denver; Knicks fans were probably bummed that Carmelo and Amare were both injured, not even caring about Lin.

-Tebow was already a star before stepping onto the field; Lin was an unknown.

-Tebow smashes everybody over the head with his religion; Lin hasn’t said a thing about faith.

-Finally, Tebow has a pose that quickly became an Internet meme; Lin is too busy improving his game.

OK, I’m just kidding about the last one, but you know there’s someone out there waiting to strike as soon as Lin poses uniquely for even a second.

Also, Lin’s name is a lot more fun to use in headlines or even everyday conversation. Tebow can only really be spun into a pun about a male erection.

Looks like Lin wins again.

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