Category Archives: NASCAR

Sports Watcher for the Weekend of 10/25-26

All times PDT.

Saturday
9:30-1 PM: College Football, #24 Kentucky @ defending 2008 BCS titleholder #5 Florida (Raycom Sports). Raycom always seems to get unusually good games from the SEC… too bad that’s about to end.

12:30-4 PM: College Football, defending Princton-Yale titleholder #6 Oklahoma State @ #1 Texas (ABC). The Northeast is getting this game. The Rockies are getting this game. Parts of the South are getting this game. But seriously, you couldn’t have found some way to get this better national distribution? The Pac-10 and Big 12 really need better contracts; the SEC and Big 10 are almost guaranteed to have their top game going out nationally every week. Surprised the Big 12 resigned almost an identical deal last year after the Big 10 got a reverse-mirror deal.

Alternately: 12:30-4 PM: College Football, #12 Georgia @ LSU (CBS) or Virginia Tech @ Florida State (ABC/ESPN2). You have to live on the West Cosat (like me) to be completely reduced to Georgia-LSU.

3:30-7 PM: College Football, Colorado @ #11 Missouri (FSN). Really just a gapfiller.

7-9:30 PM: Ultimate Fighting Championship, UFC 90 (PPV). Isn’t this an awfully quick turnaround from UFC 89?

Sunday
10-3 PM: NASCAR Sprint Cup Racing, Pep Boys Auto 500 (ABC). Does NASCAR need to move the Chase away from NFL season?

5-8:30 PM: MLB Baseball, Rays @ Phillies (FOX). Sorry, no NFL this week.

8-10 PM: IndyCar Racing, Gold Coast IndyCar 300 (ESPN2). Does this really count? I mean, it’s so far after the end of the season…

Sports Watcher for the Weekend of 10/18-19

All times PDT.

Saturday
9:30-1 PM: College football, #23 Vanderbilt @ #13 Georgia (Raycom Sports, available free online from Yahoo Sports). When you think about it, the SEC’s new deal isn’t much different from their old one. They even have Arkansas-Kentucky on ESPNU this week. Except their syndicator is ESPN Plus now, so it’s not even available to everyone online. So they’re still screwing themselves out of a good third place game getting national exposure. Maybe ESPNU will become less of the ACC Network, I don’t know.

12:30-3 PM: College football, #17 Kansas @ #4 Oklahoma (ABC, not available in most markets). I’d say the Big 12 gets screwed by never getting reverse mirrored on ESPN with the Big 10 game when the craptastic ACC does, but it does have Texas-Missou in primetime going to the whole country.

Alternately: 12:30-3 PM: College Football, #28 Ohio State @ #11 Michigan State (ABC or ESPN). I just realized that somehow, the Week 7 rankings aren’t on the web site as I thought. Either they got dropped from the backups in Freehostia’s ongoing transfer, or I just forgot them. Sure enough, Sandsday is missing a strip now so it’s the former. You might have wanted to make your last backup after shutting off the file manager, guys – unless you still have backups and you’re sadistically torturing me with the old copy because it’s fresh or something. (Man, how ill-timed is this whole voting sequence, with the cold last weekend and the backing-up this weekend?)

5-8:30 PM: MLB Baseball, Red Sox @ Rays (TBS). Well after that comeback I might actually watch and pay attention to this game. A damn shame it’s not on broadcast.

9-12 AM: Ultimate Fighting Championship, UFC 89 (SpikeTV). Same on both coasts. I don’t think anyone other than diehards cares about the main event match.

Sunday
10-3 PM: NASCAR Sprint Cup Racing, TUMS QuikPak 500 (ABC). I’ve dropped a lot of NASCAR Chase for the Cup races, haven’t I?

5:15-8:30 PM: NFL Football, Broncos @ Patriots (NBC). Hey, remember when the Patriots had a half-decent quarterback for a couple of years?

Sports Watcher for the Weekend of 10/11-12

All times PDT.

Saturday
9-12:30 PM: College Football, #3 Texas v. #1 Oklahoma (ABC). The loser will not play for a national championship. The winner will look good to do so but needs to not screw it up.

12-3:30 PM: College Football, #19 Nebraska @ #7 Texas Tech (FSN). Alternately, Michigan State-Northwestern on the Deuce.
4-8:30 PM: NASCAR Sprint Cup Racing, Bank of America 500 (ABC). It’s the midpoint of the Chase, and I gain the ability to slot in an NFL daytime game! Without help from another sport and with the ability to pick the late (or middle, depending on your point of view) game!

Sunday
10-1 PM: NFL Football, probably Rams @ Redskins (FOX). Just my luck that I finally get a chance at the usually more national late game (or middle game, depending on your point of view), and Fox throws this at me in the early game.

1-3 PM: Champions Tour Golf, Senior Players Championship (NBC). How did I not know of this until just now?!?

5-8:30 PM: MLB Baseball, Phillies @ Dodgers (FOX). NASCAR forces the NLCS to be the LCS of the weekend.

Sports Watcher for the Weekend of 10/4-5

All times PDT.

Saturday
9-12:30 PM: College Football, Iowa @ #17 Michigan State (ESPN2). Wait, my new “mid-major lineal title” just got created, and all my thoughts were on whether Oregon State had done enough to crack positive B Points next week! (It will depend a LOT on SoS… but why do I keep reading, like from ESPN.com blogger Ted Miller, “what if the Penn State game was the fluke”? Penn State’s in my top 5! Didn’t the Beavers lose to Stanford as well? Win that game, and their B Rating is probably over 1 even without a better performance against JoePa! And that’s the only thing this entry has to do with the entire Big Ten.)

12:30-4 PM: College Football, #6 Kentucky @ defending 2004 Auburn-Utah titleholder #1 Alabama (CBS). Nick Saban is 1-0 this season in games against #6 teams in my C Ratings with the Auburn-Utah title at stake.

6-9:30 PM: College Football, defending Princeton-Yale title holder #4 Missouri @ #8 Nebraska (ESPN). Preceded at 3 PM by Auburn-Vanderbilt, so games REALLY got crammed on ESPN today. Blame the Breeder’s Cup, but seriously, this seems like a natural opening for one more college football contract. But the SEC just re-upped and the Big 12 signed last year.
Sunday
10-1 PM: NFL Football, regional action (CBS and/or FOX). The WNBA Finals, below, cleared out space for NFL Football to not be restricted to SNF.

1:30-4 PM: WNBA Finals, Silver Stars @ Shock (ESPN2). Man, the WNBA Finals can’t even get an ABC slot on a weekend now? Blame NASCAR, running from 11-3 today with the AMP Energy 500. In other news, even women’s basketball players think the WNBA stinks. I really wish supporters of women’s equality in sports would put more chips on other sports like golf or softball. Basketball is either boring or incomprehensible no matter who plays it.

4-7:30 PM: MLB Baseball, Angels @ Red Sox (TBS) and 7-10 PM: MLB Baseball, Cubs @ Dodgers (TBS). I suspect some game time changes may occur if the Phillies-Brewers series ends early. Hey, by getting football out of the way earlier in the day we could fit baseball in here (SNF is 5:15-8:30) and have a whole day of college football! Thanks, WNBA, for bumping out the Chase for the Cup! (Baseball would have bumped out a primetime game, not an afternoon game as in past weeks.)

Sports Watcher for the Weekend of 9/27-28

All times PDT. All college football rankings reflect my C Ratings for teams in positive B Points.

Saturday
9-12 PM: College Football, Northwestern @ Iowa (ESPN Classic). Three teams in my top 25 and a team not in the top 25 but ranked ahead of either one of these two could conceivably go in this spot. But none of them are playing teams in positive B Points, and this might be a game to take that leap into the top 25, especially for Northwestern. Wait… Northwestern’s actually good?!?

12-2 PM: WNBA Basketball, Los Angeles @ San Antonio (NBA TV). Wait… a conference finals game on NBA TV? And it might be the deciding game?!?

Honorable Mention: 12:30-4 PM: MLB Baseball, regional action (FOX). All the hot playoff chase action! Too bad everything’s probably already determined.

4:45-8 PM: College Football, #1 Alabama @ defending 2004 Auburn-Utah title holder #6 Georgia (ESPN). Boy, how about my prediction on last week’s Watcher that Alabama would be “surprisingly strong”? Isn’t this two straight weeks CBS has screwed up the best SEC game? Not that Tennessee-Auburn is bad, per se…

Sunday
10:30-3 PM: PGA Tour Golf, THE TOUR Championship (NBC). The end of the playoff system that’s nothing like a playoff that no one cares about.

Honorable Mention: 11-3 PM: NASCAR Sprint Cup Racing, Kansas race (ABC).

5:15-8:30 PM: NFL Football, Philadelphia @ Chicago (NBC). A mediocre team and a team that was mediocre last year. But at least you got the big time markets!

Sports Watcher for the Weekend of 9/20-21

All times PDT.

Saturday
9:30-12:45 PM: College football, Alabama @ Arkansas (Raycom Sports). Look for Alabama to be surprisingly strong when the new ratings come out on Monday.

12:45-4 PM: MLB Baseball, regional action (FOX). As usual, this is the only place baseball can fit.

4-6 PM: WNBA Basketball, New York @ Connecticut (NBATV). Now the playoffs are in full swing.

6-8 PM: WNBA Basketball, Sacramento @ San Antonio (NBATV). Man, the schedule really gets cramped this week and next with all the stuff I have to squeeze in.
Sunday
9-3 PM: Ryder Cup, final round (NBC). Is it just me, or does it seem like only sports journalists and groups that cover sports (ie ESPN) care about the Ryder Cup? And gee, it seems a lot bigger now that ESPN is covering the final round…

Honorable Mention: 10-3 PM: NASCAR Sprint Cup Racing, Dover race (ABC). When I looked, both this race and the next one were identified as the “Camping World 400”, but with different “presented by” sponsors.

5-8:30 PM: NFL Football, Dallas @ Green Bay (NBC). Obligatory NFL game that has to be SNF.

Sports Watcher for the Weekend of 9/13-14

All times PDT.

Saturday
9-12 PM: College Football, California @ Maryland (ESPN). A bit of a minimalist Watcher this week, folks. And probably for most of October as well.

12:30-4 PM: MLB Baseball, regional action (FOX). To put at least SOME baseball on the Watcher.

5-8:30 PM: College Football, Ohio State @ defending 2007 Boise State title holder USC (ABC). Because all the endless hype can’t be for nothing, can it?
Sunday
11-3 PM: NASCAR Sprint Cup Racing, Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire (ABC). Yes, it’s time for the annual pseudo-playoff structure no one cares about!

5:15-8:30 PM: NFL Football, Pittsburgh @ Cleveland (NBC). To put at least SOME football on the Watcher.

Sports Watcher for the Weekend of 8/23-24

All times PDT.

Saturday
11-9 AM: Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, baseball bronze medal game, women’s handball gold medal game, baseball gold medal game, water polo semifinal, table tennis semifinals, men’s field hockey gold medal game (USA). Yes, that’s TONIGHT, in just one hour on the East Coast. If I were keeping track of any of this I’d give you pithy analysis, but all I can offer is: Can the Americans avenge their softball cousins? (I heard they lost to Japan in the gold medal game, is that right?) Oh, and pretend 6-7:30 AM isn’t part of this, that’s when the water polo semifinal is on.

9-5 PM: Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, medal finals in women’s basketball, rhythmic gymnastics, synchronized swimming, boxing, canoe/kayak, and women’s volleyball (NBC).

5-8:30 PM: NASCAR Sprint Cup Racing, Bristol race (ESPN). We just don’t have NASCAR on here enough.

9-11 PM: Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, men’s basketball bronze medal game (CNBC). Why the hell is Lithuania so good with no players I’ve heard of?

Sunday
12:30-2:30 AM: Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, medal finals in table tennis, mountain biking, boxing, and track and field (NBC). Alternately, there’s a women’s volleyball match at midnight on Telemundo.

2:30-5 AM: Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, men’s basketball gold medal game (NBC). Warning: West Coast viewers get screwed again, because this is same on both coasts! In fact the semifinal game this morning was delayed even in the Central time zone, at least in Chicago! It seems the Olympics are indeed more popular on the West Coast than on the East, though that may just be because they always HAVE gotten delayed broadcasts. Some commenters on Awful Announcing suggested putting either the live broadcast or the delay on one of NBC’s cable networks, to get around the problem of people not being home at the right times. I have a better idea: We’ve been talking about digital TV and subchannels all week, why not stick the live feed on there? It’s likely to take away “Weather Plus” time, but it’s better than insulting a wide swath of your audience by telling them New York really is the center of the universe and actually making people beg for ESPN to save them, even people who are normally ESPN haters. I’m watching this, the Closing Ceremony on CBC, and then I’m done with the Olympics. (ESPN is on record as saying they would never think of delaying events for the West Coast.)

5-9 AM: Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, Closing Ceremony (CBC). I do have to say, NBC seems to treat the Olympics as more of a special event. They play the Olympic Song and CBC just has this weird, almost-offensive, almost-more-appropriate-in-India opener. And CBC uses their own regular sports graphics instead of coming up with something unique.

10-12 PM: Major League Lacrosse, NB ZIP Championship Game (ESPN2). The worst part? This isn’t even the only lacrosse league in North America. And you probably haven’t heard of the National Lacrosse League either. Apparently it’s semi-big in Canada. Who knew? (Just barely interferes with the Olympics on USA on the West Coast.)

12:30-3 PM: Little League Baseball, Little League World Series (ABC). Does it seem a little odd that we pay so much attention to the LLWS for basically no reason? I mean, other than to be reminded about “sportsmanship” that’s basically a no-thing anyway? And why do the other three divisions have their World Series on Saturdays while neither Little League WS ends on that day?

Honorable Mention: 12:45-5 PM: National Pro Fastpitch, Championship Series (MLB.TV, second game if needed). It’s a league with a grand total of six teams. One look at their website shows how far behind they are. They don’t even have TV for their championship series, even, by all appearances, on tape delay. And this coming from one of the more popular non-football-or-basketball NCAA sports. What’s going on here?

(Oh, and perfect timing. Aren’t all your good players in the Olympics?)

5-8 PM: MLB Baseball, LA Dodgers @ Philadelphia (ESPN). I’ve banned NBC’s Olympic coverage from this space!

Next week, the first weekend of the US Open, and can you feel the football start?

Sports Watcher for the Weekend of 8/16-17

All times PDT.

Saturday
12:30-6 AM: Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, diving and the medal final in the women’s 10km track race (12:30-2 AM), plus primetime replay (2-6 AM) (NBC). Same on both coasts. You could watch USA on the East Coast to get closer to the start time of the next item.

10-6 PM: Little League Baseball, Junior League, Senior League, Junior League Softball, and Big League Softball World Series…es (ESPNU). Not necessarily in that order. The Little League Softball World Series ended back on Wednesday. That’s the only LLWS that doesn’t end on the weekend. Get with the program! Is it just me, or does the marquee age division of the LLWS seem arbitrary considering it’s the youngest group? We completely lose sight of these kids as they move up through Junior, Senior, and maybe Big League, then we regain sight in the College World Series, then we lose sight of them again until they get called up to the bigs because we pay no attention to AAA whatsoever.

7:30-12 AM: Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, track and field and swimming and the awarding of medals in both (NBC). Same on both coasts, so there’s interference with Little League on the East Coast. I had been thinking about writing a post about the rising tide of discontent on the West Coast at being told events are “live” when they’re still tape-delayed. Then I saw that more than half of the top five highest-rated major markets, and almost half of the top 17, are in the Pacific and Mountain time zones, and almost all the largest markets in those two time zones (eight of the top nine, with Seattle’s ratings depressed by being able to see events truly live on CBC) are averaging at least a 21 rating for the Olympics, which I believe is higher than NBC’s nationwide average. Which means one of two things: people on the West Coast are more into the Olympics than people back East, and I see no reason why that should be so, especially in Mountain time; or NBC’s decision to tape delay events is HELPING ratings in the Pacific and Mountain time zones. I have a feeling NBC may decide they’re never pulling strings to get events live in primetime for a non-American Olympics again (starting in 2012, that is). On another note, this is the last medal Michael Phelps needs to pass Mark Spitz, and it’s also women’s marathon day.

Sunday
12:30-6 AM: Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, beach volleyball, track and field, and the primetime replay (NBC). Same on both coasts. I’d put USA here but it interferes with NBC’s primetime coverage.

11-2:30 PM: NASCAR Sprint Cup Racing, Michigan race (ESPN). Because the Sprint Cup Series isn’t on here often enough.

3-5 PM: Little League Baseball, Venezuela v. “Saudia Arabia” (ESPN2). Yes, that’s how it actually appears on ESPN’s own web site.

5-8 PM: MLB Baseball, Philadelphia @ San Diego (ESPN). The Phillies may be in NL East contention, but you can tell this game was decided on before the season started.

9-11 PM: Beijing 2008 Olympic Games Softball, United States v. China (CNBC). Looking back over what I said last week about CNBC’s coverage, I’m not sure what they think their audience is. I accused them of misreading their audience last week, yet that was for a time slot that included tennis, which fits right in with the rich-snob demographic. I was focusing on boxing, yet that so often gets called the “sweet science” and seen as so much superior to the supposed bloodlust and chaos of MMA, as though boxing was as tame as golf. And then there’s softball, and the only way I see this fitting in with CNBC’s “male demographic” is if they’re thinking “Ooh! Boobs!” Yet at the same time, the fact that it’s softball and not some other female sport tells me it’s an old male demographic that remembers when baseball was the national pasttime (AS IT SHOULD BE!) and isn’t into all this football stuff the whippersnappers are into. Which… adds up to a pretty disturbing demographic.

11-11 AM: Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, water polo, synchronized swimming, canoeing, kayaking, field hockey, basketball, and table tennis, including the table tennis gold medal match (USA). Prepare to march back into work on Monday and fall right asleep, stay there till quitting time, sleep all the way home, and sleep the rest of the day.

Sports Watcher for the Weekend of 7/19-20 (UPDATED)

All times PDT.

Saurday
11:30-1 PM: AVP Crocs Tour, AVP Crocs Slam Brooklyn, men’s final (NBC). Yes, despite the British Open we’re scraping the bottom of the barrel this week.

1-4 PM: MLB Baseball, regional action (FOX). Tune in immediately upon the end of volleyball. Because it didn’t end in a tie I originally wasn’t going to comment on the All-Star Game, until people on TV started commenting on it anyway. The “this time it counts” era was supposed to prevent this sort of thing, and it’s obvious that it didn’t. Now there’s a lot of hand-wringing about adding more pitchers to the roster, but how about tackling the problem at its source? Here are the problems with the ASG and their sources:

  • The players and managers treat it like an exhibition, instead of as a source of pride for their league. “This time it counts” was supposed to fix that problem, and strangely, it’s being credited for fixing that problem. We may be able to attribute to “this time it counts” the fact we could have gone into the 16th whereas 2002 ended after 12, and the managers were prepared to use position players to pitch instead of ending the game in a tie.
  • The managers feel obligated to use every player that’s willing, to mollify them but even more to mollify their fans. In the old days, it wasn’t uncommon for position players to play the whole game.
  • Teams’ concerns about overworking pitchers.
  • The rise of middle relievers and closers. Have a look at the 1968 All Star Game, the year before saves became an official stat. You see the same pitching carousel we see now, with a few more multi-inning pitchers – but every last pitcher was a starter, in an age where it was rare for pitchers to fail to go seven innings. The 1967 All-Star Game went 15 innings with no problem; Catfish Hunter pitched the final five innings for the AL (and ultimately lost), a feat that seems inconceivable today. Now teams protect pitchers more and gobble up large chunks of their rosters with relievers. Now pitching is not a position where players are interchangable at will – replacement pitchers have specific roles in theory – and thus is not a position well suited for all-star games. The NBA All-Star Game may well be the best all-star game, followed by the NHL, because their games actually feel like real games, unusually strong offense notwithstanding.

I’m not sure if anything can be done about any of that at this point, but if anything can, it’s worth thinking about.

6:30-9:30 PM: NASCAR Nationwide Series racing, Gateway (ESPN2). Because I rarely get a chance to put up a Nationwide Series race and there’s no Sprint Cup action this week.

UPDATED 7/19: ALTERNATE: 6-9 PM: Ultimate Fighting Championship, Fight Night (Spike TV). Not sure how highly to rate this since it’s not what would normally be considered a PPV, but I don’t want it to go unmentioned. Live on both coasts, so 9-12 on the East Coast.

Sunday
5-10:30 AM: PGA Golf, British Open, final round (ABC). If there’s a golf tournament, and Tiger isn’t playing in it, does it make a sound?

10:30-1 PM: IndyCar Racing, Honda Grand Prix at Mid-Ohio (ABC). Last year ratings were inflated by the British Open. Look for history to repeat itself.

12-2 PM: LPGA Golf, State Farm Classic, final round (ESPN2). Girl Power Sunday again!

2-4 PM: US Open Series, Bank of the West Classic, women’s singles final (ESPN2). Girl Power Sunday and Scraping the Bottom of the Barrel Weekend again!

6-8 PM: The ESPY Awards (ESPN). Because there can exist nothing for which there is not an awards show of some kind. And no network should have to go without an awards show.