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I'm from Houston, a graduate of the University of Texas, a fan of the Houston Astros and Houston Texans. But this blog will be about the "greater sports", whatever that means.

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Friday, June 3, 2016

Juicy Stories the Media Just Can't Stop Writing About

In the days of instant social media updates, more blogs than players in any given sports league, and revenue driven by click bait (for blogs and major media outlets alike), there seems to be some subjects that are golden.  The sports media consumer cannot wait to read the latest that happened to Johnny Manziel, LeBron James, or Steph Curry's daughter.  But are they the most juicy subject of their respective sports?  Actually not.  I present the story lines that keep on giving to the media and consumers can't resist.  These are the ones that will be read in the papers or blogs, listened to on podcasts and sports radio, and debated on talk shows no matter what the season.

National Football League - The NFL Draft

NFL fans show up en masse to consume the Draft
From the time the last piece of confetti settles on the Super Bowl sod until Mr. Irrelevant is named, every single football pundit develops a mock draft.  Make the 3 or 4 mock drafts.  Every week.  Fans can't get enough.  They watch the combine with glee, hoping their team selects someone with immediate impact or fill a need.  They crowd the live draft dressed in character as if they're going to be shouting at the opposing QB.  We've seen fans swear and cry (both in frustration and glee).  For the draft.  The draft news cycle goes for about 11 weeks (longer than half the actual season).  And every team go a ton better after the draft.  A perfect spring respite for the football starved.

Honorable Mention: Johnny Manziel, Deflategate, Roger Goodell hate, Peyton Manning, Dallas Cowboys, Tony Romo

National Basketball Association - Free Agency

Miami Heat plan ridiculous welcome event after signing LeBron
Since the Big 3 (LeBron, D-Wade, and Bosh) took their act to South Beach, it became apparent to fans that the only way to win was to get guns for hire.  You can't be bad enough for long enough to get 2 or 3 major pieces in the draft.  In fact, if you make the bottom end of the playoffs, you usually end up in a endless cycle of mediocrity...never good enough to get a lottery impact maker, but not bad enough to move up.  See the Utah Jazz or Detroit Pistons.  But boy, if you could just sign Kevin Durant, have LBJ void his contract, team up with D-Wade and maybe lure Dwight Howard then you'd have something!  Salary Cap?  No worries, if you do a sign and trade and defer salary cap anybody can be yours.  And you might win!  Otherwise, welcome to one and done.

Honorable Mention: NBA Draft Lottery, LeBron James, flopping, Michael Jordan, Steph Curry, who was the greatest of all time, could players of yesteryear compete today, Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers.

Major League Baseball - Hall of Fame Debate

Which players deserve a plaque is a perpetual debate
Nothing gets baseball fans young and old more spun up than to discuss a player's Hall of Fame eligibility.  From the last pop of the glove in the World Series until the class is named in early January, the merits of every eligible player are scrutinized, compared, discounted, credited, and generally twisted so much you don't know what they are anymore.  Is the player suspected of Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs)?  Should that matter?  How do you reconcile home run totals in the PED era?  Is it fair to pitchers in the PED era that their ERAs are higher?  Who is a historical player his is like that is in?  Not in?  Does 5 excellent seasons and 10 mediocre ones better than 15 good ones?  It goes on and on.  One year nobody was elected.  Now it's a boom of strong candidates like Ken Griffey Jr. and Randy Johnson.  Is that a good thing?  Hours of debates.

Honorable Mention: Greatest Player of All Time, Pete Rose, Derek Jeter, New York Yankees, bad TV ratings, is the sport dying, how to lure youth back into baseball, instant replay, length of games, Latin American players flair.

National Hockey League - Relocation

NHL owners see little reason to stay around if tickets aren't selling
The NHL has a draft, and free agents, and superstars like everyone else, but more than any other league, teams like to relocate.  Usually from north to south.  Since 1990, five teams (almost 20% of the league) have relocated.  Minnesota, Quebec, Winnipeg, and Hartford all lost teams to warm weather cities (Winnipeg getting one back later).  The Carolina Hurricanes are the latest team on the relocation block, with Quebec or maybe Las Vegas in the rumor mill.  The fourth largest city in the United States (Houston) doesn't have a team.  Yet.  Florida and Arizona fight for relevancy in their cities (of mostly migrant residents from the north).

Honorable Mention: Free Agents, Canadian teams lack of Stanley Cup success, the rules, the referees, Crosby vs. Ovechkin

College Football - Conference realignment

The Big 12 is the latest conference shopping for expansion
As college football has moved from no playoff, to a BCS (two team playoff) to a four-team playoff, the major conferences have realized that realignment was a part of survival.  After the earthquakes of 2010 - 2013, the Big 12 is the latest league to be rumored for expansion.  And the others never rule it out if the right team lands on their doorstep.  The fun part about realignment is that the ripple effects go forever.  If team A joins X conference, the Y conference will do this and Z conference will react and then the revenue will be $100 billion per year.  Plus rivalries are so storied that you can't imagine some of them ending.  But they have (like Nebraska vs. Oklahoma, Texas vs. Texas A+M, Kansas vs. Missouri).  My feeling is that it will not stop anytime soon.  The tendency is for larger conferences,  the Big 12 is likely to eventually dissolve with the SEC, Big 10, and Pac 12 picking up the scraps (after Texas and Oklahoma, not that many juicy prospects).  But the debate will never end!

Honorable Mention: Changes to the playoff, revenue by conference, recruiting, head coaching salaries, player compensation, greatest tailgates, cheating.

College Basketball - Recruiting

The pick of the hat has ripple effects all the way to the Final Four
No other sports can one player take a team from a losing record to a tournament run.  Two blue chips take you to the Sweet 16, 3 through 5 win titles.  Every year, 10 or so high school players are probably good enough to get drafted in the NBA, but rules prohibit their entry.  So they all decided to go to Kentucky or North Carolina or Duke and see if they can capture lightning in a bottle.  Which leads to coaches and boosters doing whatever it takes to land the recruits (see Louisville).  So recruit up, or find a new job.

Honorable Mention: Tournament selection, bubble teams, player compensation, greatest coaches, cheating, refereeing.

Professional Golf Association - Tiger Woods

Fans can never get enough of Tiger Woods
Woods has been irrelevant as a force on the tour for years, but if he plays a practice round, it is the biggest news of the week in the sport, bar none.  Will he challenge Nicklaus's majors?  Will he even win a tournament?  Why did he break down physically?  Why was his relationship with his dad so complicated?  Did his romantic relationships doom him?  Should he make the Ryder Cup team?  The tour is as deep as ever, with tons of stars like Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, etc.  But if Tiger plays, all cameras and stories are on Tiger.

Honorable Mention: Best players without a major, Who is the next Tiger Woods, The Ryder Cup, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth

We love sports and these stories.  Without them, what would we do all day at work?

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