Consumed by The Game

First and foremost, I apologize to all who were interested in The Consumption Of at its startup. I mentioned from the get-go that keeping up with a blog is hard work, as the excitement of having a new creation and a new idea slowly fades and transforms into a feeling of dreaded responsibility. I don’t know why that’s the case, but it always seems to happen.

Here is one thing I have been consumed with myself here lately. It’s called The Game 2009, and it’s a fantasy sports game straight out of my noggin, and with the help of a close friend (who’s also very fantasy-sports-savvy), we developed what we thought would be a good system for a first-year trial run.

The premise of this game is that it encompasses your knowledge/guessing ability of most major sports, and calls on each player to put together a stable of sports teams that will outperform the other owners’ stables. The tricky part of it all is that the stables are formed through a draft, so draft strategy is key. Once the draft is over, there is no roster activity for the rest of the entire year. I, being the “commissioner” will simply keep up with scoring as each of the seasons go on, and will send out email updates or update the game’s website as standings are updated.

Sound confusing enough? Here’s a link to the host site, where the draft is currently underway: The Game 2009.

It’s been quite an interesting draft so far, and I personally find it interesting that 4 of the first 5 overall draft picks were MLB teams. Let me know what you think of The Game 2009. If you were to play, what would be your draft strategy?

My Own Acronym

There are a lot of things I want to do before my life here is over that I qualify as “dreams.” Of course, I want to have a solid career in the field of sports (specifically media relations), have a beautiful, loving wife and an awesome family, and to be comfortable.

I also want to see places like New Zealand, Jamaica, Central America, Checotah (Oklahoma), and Heinz Field.

But those aren’t dreams. My dreams are things I want to accomplish that people wouldn’t normally think I’d be interested in based on my career choices and my experience. They may even seem quite random. But that’s okay; that’s what makes them fun.

One of my dreams is to one day own a restaurant or chain called “Chippendip.” This restaurant, not shockingly, would specialize in serving different styles of chips and dip combos. There are tons of combinations possible, ranging from tangy to salty, sweet to spicy, crunchy to chunky. Cooking different types of dips has always been a hobby of mine, and I’d love to expound upon that to bring it to restaurant format. It’d be fun.

An even bigger dream, however, is to own and run my own sports league one day. With all the news developing recently about the formation of new football leagues such as the United Football League, the United National Gridiron League, the All American Football League, and the new United States Football League, as well as the recent post by Jonathan Mayo about the Israel Baseball League, the idea has never been more fun to think about.

The first question I have to think about regards which sport I want my league to consist of. Well, for starters, there are tons of minor-league-level football and baseball leagues throughout the United States. The need for yet another league of those sports is really slim, and the doors of success aren’t wide open, to say the least.

Basketball and hockey also have a load of lower-level leagues, but those sports never interested me as much anyway.

I’ve always had an interest in women’s athletics. Since I accepted my first sports journalism job for Mississippi State’s on-campus newspaper as the MSU volleyball beat writer and stepped foot in the arena for my first home match, I was hooked on women’s volleyball. If you’ve never had the priviledge of attending an indoor volleyball match in person, you really should look up your local college that offers the sport and attend a match. It’s an incredible, fast-paced, exciting sport full of momentum and adrenaline that keeps fans on the edge of their seats.

With a league that has sufficient funding to start up, and fresh ideas and marketing plans to keep fans interested, I firmly believe a professional women’s indoor volleyball league could work. The league would have to begin with a small amount of teams in relatively small markets in smaller stadiums, but as soon as those stadiums fill up, the opportunity for expansion and growth would come in time.

I’m a huge fantasy sports league commissioner type guy. I love the organization and competition a league affords, and I simply love the feel of it all.

It’s a long shot, and as of now, it’s still just a fun idea. But I do dream one day of owning my own acronym.

From: You

Have you ever dreamed of owning and running your own league one day? What sport was it? Did you already have a name, cities, and/or team nicknames picked out?

Getting the Full Experience

February 1st is shaping up to be quite a day for me. Well, being as my birthday is Feb. 18, I guess the entire month is one I should be looking forward to, but that’s beside the point. This post is about what’s going down on Feb. 1.

Steelers Logo.gifFirst and most importantly, my beloved Pittsburgh Steelers will be taking on the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII. I have full confidence in my team that we will play to the fullest of our potential, our defense will carry us like it always has, and we have a solid chance of winning the game.

I’m also excited about Miller High Life’s one-second commercialMiller High Life Logo.jpg spot they’ve announced, which was shown on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno last night. (You can see the ads that didn’t make the cut here.)

But even before all that, I’m stoked about what’s going on in Huntsville before the Super Bowl even begins. Around 1 p.m. central time, I will be settling into my seat, jittery and excited, flashing back to my obsessions from childhood, and getting ready to scream my head off at overly-muscular men with long hair and bikini bottoms and beautiful women who can kick the snot out of each other.

That’s right. I’m attending WWE SmackDown! LIVE, and I am so excited.

Nitro Logo.jpgI attended several WCW events, both in Memphis, back when ISmackdown Logo.jpg was a child, one Monday Night Nitro and one Thunder event. That was a long time ago. In September of 2007, I attended my first Pay-Per-View event, seeing the return of the Undertaker at WWE Unforgiven at my first FedEx Forum experience.

It was nice, and surprisingly still fun, seeing a pro wrestling show at the age of knowing that it’s not true competition, but instead a great performance, not unlike something you’d see on Broadway or something. As long as you go and leave your maturity and skepticism behind and scream your head off for your favorite superstars and boo the ones you dislike out of the arena, you’ll have a good time. As the television ad I keep seeing in Huntsville says: “If you’re only watching them at home, you’re only getting half the experience.”

There is something the advertisement said that strikes a wrong chord with me, however. The announcer says, “It’s the best value in entertainment,” and then later, “tickets as low as fifteen bucks.” As one who is getting first-had inside experience inside the confines of a Minor League Baseball team, I must solidly disagree.

Yes, it’s fun to go see these freaks of nature throw each other around like rag dolls and do ten flips off a ladder through a tables. One of the most underrated parts of the experience is the audio/video-coordinted pyrotechnical displays the WWE does an excellent job of producing. It’s not until you stop and think of how awesome it truly is that you realize you’re seeing big-time fireworks…indoors!

But it’s not the best value in entertainment. That, unbiasedly, really has to go to Minor League Baseball when done well. When done well, MiLB should provide an unforgettable and fun family experience, regardless of how much or little of a fan the person in attendance may be. Our tickets to a Stars game, which are all general admission, are $8 apiece. That means that for $15, the cheapest tickets to SmackDown!, you can get a good seat and some merchandise or good food, depending on the day of the week it is. The most expensive tickets to SmackDown! are priced at $50 apiece. Think of all the options you have if you bring a $50 bill to a Stars game:

  • A family of four ($32) can pay for a good bit of food with the $18 remaining.
  • A group of six friends ($48) can come out and still have $2 to spend.
  • About three Stars t-shirts ($54) can be bought at the merchandise store. 
  • Two Stars polo shirts ($50) can be bought.
  • Two official Stars New Era caps ($44) can be bought.

You get the picture. And this isn’t only with the Stars, don’t get me wrong. You can find a lot of these same deals around the nation in stadium after stadium of Minor League Baseball programs.

So, in closing, though I am very excited to be attending WWE SmackDown! on Feb. 1, I can’t help but disagree with the company’s claims to be the best value in entertainment. That title belongs to us.

From: You
I wanna hear from you! Have any of you ever experienced a pro wrestling event live? If so, tell me about your experience. Did you enjoy it? Would you go back if it came to a city near you?

Beep…beep…

Just letting everyone know that I’m still alive and well. I’m still in Huntsville without my laptop, so I don’t get an abundance of time to spend on the internet. Things are going well with the Stars though, and I’m learning a lot. I actually finalized my first-ever sale TODAY, so I’m pretty excited about that.

This is going to be a fun year. We’re celebrating our 25th season in Huntsville this year, so we’re coming up with creative ideas of how to have fun with that. I’m just excited to be here. I’ve got a fun, busy job, in a fun and busy place, and I’m just blessed to be here.

I promise some meaty posts will be up as soon as I get my laptop back. Trust me. I miss writing.

While I’m here, several things:

  • Go Steelers!
  • NFL Playoff Picks: Steelers over Ravens, Eagles over Cardinals (Eagles over Steelers in Super Bowl, sadly)
  • Gatorade’s new look and commercials are quite bold, but a downgrade.
  • Old news, but Pepsi’s new look is absolutely terrible.
  • The Dallas Cowboys are doing a good job in saying they want to improve locker room chemistry for 2009, but that’s worthless if they don’t follow through with it.
  • I’d love to post nice clip art/images to go along with this post, but the computer I’m on won’t allow it. Sorry.

At Home…or…Huntsville

I apologize for not being able to post any entries over the past few days or so. I have arrived in Huntsville and have begun my stint as an intern with the Huntsville Stars, Class Double-A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers. I am still without a laptop, so I’m being forced to use a computer lab whenever I get the chance too. There’s a good chance a good, long entry may not be written for about another week or so…

Sorry.

I look forward to catching up as soon as possible. Promise.

Cotton Bowl broadcast a trainwreck

Just finished watching the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic, broadcast on FOX, and I must say that I am quite disappointed in pretty much the entire broadcast. FOX should be ashamed of itself, as the broadcast was very sub-par and made the network seem very undeserving of the BCS Bowls it has signed contracts to broadcast.

Cotton Bowl Logo.gifFor starters, let me say that I’ve helped FOX Sports broadcast a women’s volleyball match at Mississippi State University, and, because my role allowed and required me to keep an eye on the moniter throughout the entire match, I saw that our broadcast went a lot better and smoother than this FOX broadcast of the Cotton Bowl. That doesn’t seem right…it seems that your crews that are going to make errors on live television broadcasts should be in charge of lower-tier operations like volleyball, not NCAA football bowls.

The broadcast was a disaster. The game featured the Texas Tech Red Raiders and the Ole Miss Rebels, and Ole Miss ended up winning the game, by a fairly hefty margin. However, the bias toward the Red Raiders and headline quarterback Graham Harrell was nearly unbearable. Yes, Texas Tech had a great season, and yes, Harrell has had a wonderful career. But the Red Raiders were getting dominated, and Ole Miss and its players deserved some credit.

I counted three times throughout the contest that play-by-play announcer Pat Sumerall dubbed Ole Miss a “happy” team. He said that the Rebels were happy to be there (as if they are thankful they got a bowl bid at all, hinting they are undeserving of anything more), and that head coach Houston Nutt gave everyone he is ever around a lot of energy. That’s it. Sumerall and Brian Baldinger (color commentator) seemed completely ignorant of Ole Miss’s season history (other than that they upset Florida and LSU and that quarterback Jevon Snead chose to attend Ole Miss because he was recruited by Florida and Texas, who both had solid quarterbacks already…Tim Tebow and Colt McCoy, respectively). Those were the stories throughout the day for Ole Miss. Not much recognition at all, and it made the entire company seem biased toward Tech and ignorant about the boys from Mississippi.

Before a television broadcast goes on the air, the crew has a chance to test all of its equipment to make sure it’s all working properly, batteries are charged, cords and plugs are in the right places, and graphics are working properly and on-cue. This period for the volleyball match I worked was about an hour long. I’m not sure how long the Cotton Bowl crew had to practice and prepare, but the fact that the audio wasn’t working properly several times while guest Shepard Smith was being interviewed by Jeanie Zelasko is inexcusable.

The opposite problem also existed. During halftime, while each school’s marching band was to be given time on-air while performing, background chatter could be heard, either from sideline reporters or the booth. I’m not sure where it originated, but it was annoying. Press the proper mute button, please.

dex'shead.jpgOle Miss star running back Dexter McCluster had an MVP performance during the game, and Sumerall and Baldinger gave him his proper credit. McCuster isn’t hard to spot, either. He has long, thin braids, and he’s one of the slimmest players on the Rebel squad. The fact that, near the end of the game, that Sumerall said “and there is the star, McCluster,” when the camera was clearly focused on another Ole Miss player was just inconsiderate of all McCluster had accomplished.

I attribute it to Sumerall’s age. It showed. I know he’s a legend, and I respect that. But when he’s one advertisement behind and giving the slogan for Budweiser when AT&T’s logo is already on the screen when coming back from commercial, you just can’t help but believe he shouldn’t have been in the lead announcer role.

The first down line and on-field “First & 10″ graphic were also blending with the players making them glow.

The Rebels won the game. The Rebels dominated the game, for the most part. But when you pause the credit-giving to Ole Miss to mention that we “shouldn’t forget that Texas Tech put up 34 points” and that the Red Raiders played well, and that Harrell set a Cotton Bowl record for passing yards, it just doesn’t show the neutrality a network broadcast company should show in a sports setting.

Call it like it is, FOX, and get the kinks worked out, before a bigger and more important broadcast is messed up even worse. Please, save yourself the embarrassment. And your viewers the pain. 

50/50 into 2009

Like you, I’ve read and heard a lot of resolutions and commitments made for this new year. A lot of these are good things and good ideas if the people that made them can actually follow through, but honestly, a lot are laughable.

In the sports world, the turning to calendar page 2009 translated into a lot of predictions and forecasts into the new year. Writers, analysts, and bloggers have offered predictions about who they believe is going to win next year’s Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Championship, and who will become the breakout players of the year.

And that’s all fine. Until you actually stop to think about it and realize that it’s pointless.

I’m all for fun. Picking games is fun. Picking winners and future champions is fun. But that’s all it should be. Because in actuality, there’s absolutely no way to make a solid pick.

Sure, you can play the odds, but the odds are just a system that make the possible seem impossible. There was probably a sub-20 percent chance that the Tampa Bay Rays would win the AL East and reach the World Series last season, but they did it anyway. As long as the odds are above zero percent, then any and all picks are nothing but folly.

Who would have picked the Rays, anyway? Likely Rays fans. Other than Rays fans, maybe a few people filling out blank divisional sheets at the start of the year as a joke. I guarantee most people’s predictions had either the Yankees or the Red Sox in the spot where the Rays ended up, though. Because they played the odds.

But then you can claim that you took a chance and picked the upset. Congratulations, you who picked the Atlanta Falcons and Miami Dolphins to make it into the NFL playoffs and the Atlanta Hawks to finally emerge as legitimate contenders in the NBA. You did nothing except happen make your pick on the correct side of the 50/50 line. Regardless of odds, regardless of Vegas, every game’s line for me is 50/50.

Why’s the game played anyway? To give the underdog a chance. If all of the sports world went the way it was supposed to, then the team who is favored by three points would win by three points. The “underdog” would never win. If sports were based solely on talent and past performance, analysts could simply line up pieces of paper, make checkmarks based on which team is “better” in which areas of the game, and determine a winner based on that.

But there’s more to it than that. Sports require heart. They require determination, motivation, and passion, and all sorts of bulletin-board intangibles. And those can’t be measured by any linesmaker.

It’s fine to pick. Make your predictions. Have fun with it. Play the odds if you want, or close your eyes and flip a coin. Choose based on uniforms or nicknames, if you want. I don’t care. But however you do it, just know that your picks are no better than mine, which are no worse than an expert’s.

Happy new year. 

If nicknames were real…

There’s something about a team nickname that defines who they are. The Chicago Bears have always had a rough, tough, and coincidentally, a bear-like defense. The Tampa Bay Rays provided some “rays of hope” (cheesy, I know) within the AL East, proving that the Yankees and Red Sox may not be the only two teams that can compete in the division. Granted, not all teams encompass what their name is, and in some instances, a name is just a name.

But when it comes to team nicknames, there are some inter-sport matchups between names that just seem to fit. Matchups that, if those team names came to life, would be some of the most monumental pairings ever to occur on a sports field.


7. Pirates (Pittsburgh, MLB) vs. Patriots (New England, NFL): A real-life battle between the two ship-based armies depicted in the trilogy of Pirates of the Caribbean. The only question is would the game take place on land…or at sea?

6. Reds (Cincinnati, MLB) vs. Blues (St. Louis, NHL): Made bigger by the Halo series, the battle between these primary colors has been on-going since, well, the discovery of the color spectrum.

5. Thunder (Oklahoma City, NBA) vs. Lightning (Tampa Bay, NHL): Weather’s two most coupled and recognizable features would go at it to determine which is the best…thing is, one can’t exist without the other, which would create another fold in the drama.

4. Lions (Detroit, NFL) vs. Tigers (Detroit, MLB): Forget bears. This isn’t Oz. The battle between the big cats would finally determine who the real king of the jungle, and Detroit, is.

3. Angels (Los Angeles, MLB) vs. Demons (Northwestern State, NCAA): The oldest ongoing battle ever would finally come to a win, and we’d have a clear-cut winner in the struggle between good and evil.

2. Yankees (New York, MLB) vs. Rebels (Ole Miss, NCAA): A recreation of this nation’s biggest and most important war ever that actually took place on a sports field would stir up some North/South pride, but may divide the nation once again, creating another Civil War.

1. Cowboys (Dallas, NFL) vs. Indians (Cleveland, MLB): There are likely not many American kids who never played “Cowboys and Indians” at least once, and seeing the big battle on the field would bring back memories for everyone, and allow us to see who really is the better of the two.

How about you? Are there any other cool “nickname matchups” that cross over sport boundaries that you’d like to see? Feel free to share!

NFL Wildcard Playoff Picks:
(3) Dolphins def. (6) Ravens
(5) Colts def. (4) Chargers
(6) Eagles def. (3) Vikings
(5) Falcons def. (4) Cardinals

Pelicans are not enough.

myrtlebeachpelicans.pngThe Atlanta Braves are shortchanging fans of all their Minor League Baseball teams and putting the creativity of the teams’ front offices in handcuffs. With the exception of the Class-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans, all of the Braves’ Minor League teams are owned named after their parent franchise and bear the “Braves” moniker.

This bothers me, and I feel it shortchanges all the fans of Minor League teams with creative, unique, and local-community-specific nicknames. The Atlanta Braves’ farm system consistsAtlanta Braves.png of the Gwinnett Braves at the Triple-A level, the Double-A Mississippi Braves, the Pelicans and the Rome Braves at the Single-A level, and the Danville Braves, as well as the Gulf Coast League Braves and Dominican Summer League Braves (GCL and DSL teams all bear the name of their parent MLB clubs).

Creative, and even sometimes cooky, team names are part of Gwinnett-Braves-logo_small.jpgthe Minor League Baseball fun for me. Seeing a team named and branded with a name like the Timber Rattlers or Lake Monsters is something that appeals to not only nickname conossieurs like myself, but also to children, who enjoy the cartoon-like colors, mascots, and fonts that often accompany these names. The front offices of these teams are then180px-MississippiBraves.png challenged and presented with the fun opportunity to represent the unique team within the local community and get the word out about their team.

A lot of uniquely-named Minor League franchises are named for local community attractions. The Huntsville Stars, for example, are named for the U.S. Space & Rocket Center located within the city, and the Nashville Sounds are named for the music-rich heritage of Tennessee’s capital city.

Naming all your teams after your Major League club, even if you own them, takes away from that creativity and loyalty to eachRome Braves logo.jpg team’s local community.

The upside to calling all their teams the “Braves” is that who the team is an affiliate of never comes into question. Hearing about something the Rome Braves or Gwinnett Braves have done will undoubtedly link the activity to the Atlanta Braves themselves, and when a family unfamiliar with the ins and outs of which Minor League teams are affiliated with which MLB teams goes to see an Atlanta affiliate play, they’ll be sure that the players they’re watching could be big-time Braves one day, rather than the Minor League version.

It just takes away from the spirit of Minor League Baseball, though. MiLB is supposed to have a fun, family-friendly and somewhat light-hearted atmosphere, and if all the teams were named after their parent clubs, it just wouldn’t be that. Part of the fun for me is all of the crazy nicknames Minor League teams come up with, and honestly, the different names draw attention to the teams moreso than a cookie-cutter team name would. A number of times, I’ve looked up a team’s information on the internet because I’ve been captivated by the team’s nickname and wanted to look up which Major League team it was affiliated with. Though their affliate wasn’t tagged onto the team name itself, I eventually found out because of the initial interest their unique name created.

Plain and simple, it’s boring. No one wants all of their Minor League teams to be named after their parent club. Choose creativity. It’s what makes World of Warcraft, Scion, and yes, Minor League Baseball, so successful.

Programming Note: Due to me having to send my laptop off for repairs (for the second time), I may not be able to blog as often over the next week or so as I have over the past few days. Thanks to everyone for reading TCO and helping me get started, and I hope to be back running strongly as soon as possible.

Your formula is offensive to me.

Coaching schemes and strategies in most sports are constantly evolving. In basketball, the introductions of the slam dunk, the three-point line, and the hookshot all changed how the game is played forever, and the types and athletic abilities of players have changed over time as well. No longer does a player have to be a minimum of six feet tall in order to consider a career in pro basketball a possibility. In football, the emergence of dual-threat quarterbacks who can both pass and run effectively, as well as new offensive formations like the Wildcat and the A-11 have forced coaches to keep up with the times in regards to new schemes.

It’s made me wonder about the world of baseball. In baseball, the offensive lineup has generally had the same basic formula for as long as I can remember, and it goes from top to bottom. From the Major Leagues to the Little Leagues, teams form their lineups based on the traditional effective baseball lineup formula, with help from Wikipedia:

1. Leadoff batter, usually fastest player on team and has highest on-base-percentage
2. Usually a contact hitter or hitter with the ability to bunt for a hit
3. Generally the best all-around hitter on the team, the “Mario,” if you will, in the context of Super Mario sports games
4. Cleanup batter, often the hitter with the most power
5. Generally an RBI hitter, and hitter with second-most power on the team
6. Another RBI man, with tendency to hit sacrifice flies
7. Usually a weaker hitter with less pressure in this position
8. Sometimes a back-up #2 hitter, often has most pressure batting in front of the pitcher (in National League)
9. Often the team’s weakest hitter (most times the pitcher in the NL), but not always the case

Most teams follow this general formula for fielding a team and putting together a batting order. My question, however, is what if one team bucked the trend and fielded a lineup that didn’t follow the formula? How would the face of baseball offense change if a team tried a batting Furcal.jpgorder, for instance, of all speedy players, and lacked power? Certainly the team might not hit as many home runs as the rest of the league would, but isn’t it possible to win games (especially with speed and aggressive baserunning) without hitting the ball over the fence?

When it comes to sports, I’m a huge fan of speed. I’m a fan of dual-threat quarterbacks over pocket passers. I’m a fan of good, fast ballhandlers in basketball that can make defenders look like complete idiots. Therefore, why not field a baseball team consisting of pure speed? Here’s an idea of what an MLB team of this caliber might look like, compiled by taking the 2008 leaders from each position in the doubles and stolen bases categories:

C Russell Martin
1B Lance Berkman
2B Dustin Pedroia
3B Chone Figgins
SS Rafael Furcal
OF Willy Taveras
OF B.J. Upton
OF Ichiro Suzuki
DH Alex Rios

It’s funny how things work out in baseball, because it always seems the first baseman doubles as the team’s power hitter (often the 4-spot hitter). Berkman would likely serve in that role, but in this all-speed team, the 4-spot might not be the best place for the most powerful hitter on the team. Who knows? It would certainly provide pitchers and defenses alike with a different challenge than a normal, traditional offense, and the extra aggressiveness on the basepath would definitely cause some mischief. Granted, this team listed may be an All-Star team of sorts, but other guys who may be just as fast with less name recognition could very possibly be placed on a team together somewhere realistically.

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