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Our sports are all screwed up

More than two years since I posted on this site. I doubt anyone is even reading here anymore. Not that it really matters, as in these past couple of years, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and soul searching as to where my life is and what’s truly important, and I actually have found sports to be having less and less of an importance on said life. Last year, you could count the total number of Rangers games I attended on one hand, and I have no regrets about that. In fact, in April of last year, I traveled to California and spent 11 hours at Disneyland, and those turned out to be the best 11 hours for me in a long while.

I’m beginning to ramble without getting to the point here, but the point is that, taking a few steps back, I’ve been able to see things in a fresh light, and it made me realize something I was blinded to for a long time:

The more I think about it, it amazes me just how much our sports system in this country is screwed up and makes me wonder just how it’s been able to survive this long. For something where the whole basis is that merit ultimately wins out, the way almost all sports in North America are set up is almost the opposite.

Let’s start with how bloated the major leagues have become. Do I think the MLB/NFL/NBA/NHL have all grown too much and could stand to be reduced? After much consideration, perhaps I have. But the problem is, if you can’t expand the majors and there’s no system for existing lower level clubs to move up, you are unjustly telling many cities in this country “You can never expect to have major pro sports, no matter how much your city grows and would be willing to support them.”

This problem doesn’t exist in other countries because of promotion and relegation. If you want your area to have a major club, the way is simple: have your local minor club be so successful they will get promoted to the big leagues. You will prove to be more worthy of being in the top level next year than the teams that finished in the bottom of the top league.

This same system, of course, also eliminates the next biggest problem we have: A system where failure is rewarded. Instead of our major clubs being encouraged to win no matter what because losing can mean demotion, those that don’t have a realistic shot at a title are encouraged to lose on purpose to have the first shot at the best amateur talent. It’s doubly counter-productive because if you’re among the proven top young talents, your “reward” is to have to start your pro career in one of the worst organizations.

Of course, at least in some of those sports you at least get the chance to turn pro when you wish and grow and develop as a professional. But not in this countries two biggest sports. It’s long been debated about how fair it is for college teams to make money off athletes without directly paying them, but the only reason this is an issue is because the NFL and NBA refuse to develop talent themselves. There is no reason to not do this other than laziness and greed on their part. This has led to us, at least in football and basketball, tying the development of athletes into out educational institutions when, let’s face it, not a lot of those athletes are interested in education. Thus, millions of dollars are being thrown at school teams instead of minor league pro football and basketball that, frankly, I don’t see why they couldn’t succeed.

And let’s not get started about how these colleges are set up as to how they compete for championships. Actually, let’s do. You’re ultimately selected by completely subjective means, which ultimately comes down to whether or not the selection committee thinks you’ll draw ratings rather that how well you’ve really earned it.

The biggest irony is how many sports fans out there consider themselves to be conservative. Yet our entire sports system is run on almost the exact opposite of supposed conservative values that you can think of. It’s loaded with hypocrisy.

All of this tells me the bubble has to burst soon. With casual fans being priced out faster than ever before and the financial meal ticket of television on the verge of collapse as well, don’t be surprised if the next generation is finally the one that says No Mas, and the sporting world finds itself on the verge of an implosion.

Will I care? I don’t know if I have time. I’m planning another trip to Disneyland for my upcoming birthday right now.

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With Smoke, Mirrors and Miracles, Rangers Are Actually Contending

Well, it’s been a while, hasn’t it?

Yeah, I don’t know how often I will be posting here, since I had to make some tough decisions about what to focus on in my life, but I can try to post something whenever I have a strong enough view to write about it.

With that out of the way…

How the hell did we get here?

When last anything was happening on this blog, the Rangers were not in good shape, to say the least. They went into Spring Training with the talent level unable to carry the dirty laundry of the 2010 squad, and they followed that up with an April of playing some of the worst baseball in even this franchise’s history,

So how in the world are they suddenly holding a Wild Card spot and knocking on the door of first place in the West in September?

It’s pretty clear this team is winning now because it’s not the team JD & Co. expected to play out this season with, with or without Yu Darvish. The reasons the Rangers are playing as good as they are are mostly ones no one saw coming, but the biggest ones have to be:

Delino DeShields: the Leonys Martin experiment is mercifully over, declared a failure after he lost the CF job to a former infielder picked up off the Rule 5 scrap heap. Leonys could be the poster child for how pure ability does not guarantee success; I don’t think I’ve seen another player other than a pitcher have so much faith put into for so long just because of potential. But his speed and “great arm” could not overcome ineptness at the plate and the failure to make plays in the outfield, and thus the job had to go to a rookie with effort over talent. DeShields could be a second coming of Rusty Greer in terms of succeeding just by playing all out and getting the job done.

Colby Lewis: This may be Colby’s last go-round with the Rangers, and it will be sad to see him go. Because he’s done everything asked of him, even overcoming what was supposed to be a career-ending injury. When the Rangers were floundering, he kept them afloat just long enough for everyone to get their acts together. He’ll likely be the odd man out as Chi Chii needs to be in the rotation next year, but he deserves a standing ovation as he heads out the door one last time.

Choo got his head out of his ass: I stand by everything I said about Shin Soo Choo earlier this season, including the part about wanting to trade him for a 1992 Cavalier, because he deserved it; he was one of the worst players in baseball and fast about to surpass Chan Ho Park as the worst FA signing in team history. But somewhere after the All Star Break, he learned how to hit the ball again, and keeping him in RF has limited his defensive deficiencies. That doesn’t mean I’d be against shopping him still this winter, especially since this team still desperately needs right-handed power, but I will still always give credit when it’s deserved as much as I will give criticism.

Tolly Time: Shawn Tolleson may be an even bigger example over Delino about how results trump the supposed physical tools needed for the job. I’ve heard all year about how he just doesn’t have the overpowering stuff to be a true closer. But still, for a rookie that didn’t expect to be a stopper in April, here he is with only two blown saves all year. The only problem has been when Bannister has used him too many times in some stretches, but blame that on the bullpen not having much else for too long. If he continues to GET THE JOB DONE over guys with better physical traits, we should be just fine hearing Kenny Loggins’ “Danger Zone” in the ninth inning for years to come.

This doesn’t mean I’m completely convinced this team is back to the top There are still big holes on this squad, and with just how good the Royals have become and how much better the Astros can become, nothing is guaranteed. But at least the future in Arlington looks a lot better than it did five months ago.

Championship Week puts all local teams in the here and now

SMU, TCU and UTA have definitely all had different roads through this college basketball season, with different twists, turns and bumps.

Despite that, all three are essentially in the same position now as Championship Week begins – looking to win their conference tournament to get that automatic spot in the NCAA Tournament. Regardless of what their status currently is in the eyes of the media and the selection committee, that is the one equalizing factor.

For the SMU Mustangs, the time is definitely now, having just won the AAC regular season championship and going into Championship Week still ranked in the top 25. But despite having won the program’s first regular season title since 1988, no one on University Park is comfortable yet, remembering what happened last year,

“We’re a little apprehensive,” coach Larry Brown told The Dallas Morning News. “I didn’t say anything last year about us being slighted because I didn’t think it was fair for teams that got in. But we got slighted. We were 4-6 against top 20 teams. We really had a team that was worthy of going there. When we didn’t get in, it was like a big cloud was over our head. I don’t think anybody here is taking anything for granted.”

“I felt we should have got in last year,” said senior Cannen Cunningham. “But the only guarantee is to win the (AAC) tournament, so that’s what’s on our plate now.

So the Mustangs have turned their focus to the tournament in Connecticut, hoping for a better result than last year, when a first-round bounce against Houston capped off a three-game losing streak that appeared influential in the selection committee passing them over for the NCAAs.

If there’s one program, though, that would be happy to have the NIT come calling, it would be TCU. It almost seems unheard of that Trent Johnson’s program could have any shot at that one year after going winless in the Big 12.

But while the Frogs still finished ninth in the conference, four games back of the rest of the pack, their 13-0 start to the season might help them get in with a surprise performance in the Big 12 Tournament, which starts tonight against a Kansas State team they have already beaten once.

While Johnson has said he hasn’t talked to his team about the postseason, he wasn’t afraid to tell the Morning News they might have been a few games away from the Big Dance, citing close losses to Baylor, West Virginia and Oklahoma.

“You look at those three games, if we win two out of three, we’re probably a bubble team in the conversation of the NCAA tournament.”

In between those two schools in Arlington, Scott Cross knows his UTA Mavericks will once again need to win the Sun Belt tournament in order to get into the postseason.

If there’s one thing the Maverick had to overcome this season en route to a fifth place finish in the conference, it may be inexperience, with at least four key players being sophomores or younger. They definitely had to deal with on-the-job training, especially with late season injuries to Drew Charles and Johnny Hill.

Having so many young guys playing at once can definitely be a challenge, but Cross has continued to look at the positive.

“It hasn’t been as hard as one would think. Every year has it’s own set of challenges. Our freshman have really tried to buy in to our defensive philosophy and are very intelligent basketball players with great work ethics. I have been very, very pleased with all of them.”

Still, Cross is willing to admit that the future is what looks even brighter for his program.

“I am very excited about the future of UT Arlington Basketball. Next year, we will only have two seniors on our roster, but we will be a much older, more experienced team than our current team. The following year we will be even older and more experienced, so we should have a couple of very promising years ahead of us. “

But neither Cross, Johnson, Brown or any of their players are looking at the future right now, Because this season is still active, and they know that, as Yogi Berra once said, it ain’t over until it’s over.

FC DALLAS 1 SAN JOSE 0

Blas Perez came through in the end, as FCD’s leading scorer last season finally got a rebound with Quakes goalkeeper David Bingham off his mark in stoppage time to give Dallas an Opening night win.

UTA 60 APPALACHIAN STATE 72

STARS 3 @ FLORIDA 3 (1-0 SO)

UTA 64 @ GEORGIA SOUTHERN 76

STARS 3 ISLANDERS 2 (OT)