Category Archives: Softball

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 5/31-6/1

All times PDT.

Saturday
9-2 PM: College Softball, College World Series, second round action (ESPN). Quick format explanation: Teams that lose in round 1 play a second first round game, then play the second round loser from the other half of the bracket. Then they move on to the semifinal tomorrow, but if the team that lost a game wins the first game, they play a second game. It’s really simple! The best-of-three final gets played over the next three days.

5-7:30 PM: NHL Hockey, Detroit @ Pittsburgh (CBC/NBC). For a while there were reports that NBC was decreasing its Stanley Cup Finals commitment so low that some potentially deciding games would be cut. Buf if you cut a deciding game, make it Game 4. If it’s 3-0, it’s a sweep if it ends and that’s boring. If it’s 2-1, well, it’s not a deciding game, is it?

In fact, if this year’s Finals has shown anything, it’s that if you’re going to cut any game, in any sport’s best-of-seven series, deciding or non-deciding, from broadcast, make it Game 3. After the first two games, everyone was thinking the series would have little suspense and would be done quickly. I have to imagine that depressed viewership for Game 3, despite the currently-reported relatively strong ratings. Now viewership will pick back up again for Game 4. I think a structure putting the first two games on broadcast, priming the pump for everyone to watch, and the last two or three games on broadcast, makes sense.

9-11 PM (both coasts): EliteXC Mixed Martial Arts, Saturday Night Fights (CBS, both coasts). The only place this doesn’t interfere with hockey is on the West Coast; otherwise it’s merely an honorable mention. This thing better knock my socks off in the ratings or it will not get any sort of a protected spot in future Watchers.

Sunday
2-10 PM: French Open, 3rd round action (Tennis Channel). I write this a day in advance. I have no clue what to expect.

10:30-3 PM: NASCAR Sprint Cup Racing, Best Buy 400 (FOX). I will be watching the IndyCar race starting at 1, but I’m sure you’ll go gaga over this without me. I’m a bit distressed at the most logical reasons why ESPN still doesn’t cover NASCAR as much as its popularity suggests it should, that is to say, on shows like Around the Horn and Pardon the Interruption.

5:30-8 PM: NBA Basketball, Detroit @ Boston, if necessary (ABC). Hey, Detroit residents don’t need to decide between basketball and hockey anymore!

If Boston wins Game 6:
5-8 PM: MLB Baseball, LA Dodgers @ NY Mets (ESPN). Because I have to make some mention of OMG JOE TORRE’S COMING BACK TO NEW YORK EVEN THOUGH HE ISN’T PLAYING HIS FORMER TEAM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!111!!!1111!!1111!!!!eleven!

Can I mention that in my hunting around the world of sports, looking for something, ANYTHING to fill any conceivable hole in the schedule, the Sports Watcher is still a labor-intensive excersize that still drains a lot from me, even with the ability to finish it a day or so in advance? I may abandon it again in August or so when the Little League World Series dies down.

I have an inkling of an idea to do a rundown of EVERY sporting event on TV, not just one for each timeslot. But of course that would be MORE work. A part of me wants to refer people who want that sort of thing to HD Sports Guide, but a) it doesn’t include end-of-time-slot info and b) it only includes HD stuff. And if I do that, I might as well do a schedule of EVERY SINGLE SPORTING EVENT BEING PLAYED ANYWHERE EVER. That would be beyond my capacities and would probably mean a whole other web site. You might find Sports TV Insider or DirecTV’s My Game Schedule useful, though.

I may do a Watcher-like rundown of just stuff on each sport’s own network. If you have any suggestions for how to reform the Watcher, leave a comment and I may have a poll up next week, running until I finally do end the Watcher again in August.

Sports Watcher for the Weekend of 5/24-25

Read this post to get introduced to Sports Watcher. Basically, I run down what a sports fanatic would watch if he wanted to watch as many sports as possible over the weekend. That means only one sport in a given timeslot, as many sports as possible, and as important a contest as possible. All times PDT.

Saturday
9-11 AM: College lacrosse, Syracuse v. Virginia (ESPN2). In one of my previous stint of Sports Watcher posts, I noted that the Frozen Four seemed to be the biggest college sport that wasn’t football or basketball. If ESPN is any guide, baseball, softball and lacrosse may give it a run for its money. Of course, that may just be ESPN looking for any spring championships to fill time. The final, incidentially, isn’t until Monday. The second semifinal, Johns Hopkins v. Duke, is out because otherwise I get no baseball.

12:30-4 PM: MLB Baseball, regional action (FOX). Mets/Rockies, D-Backs/Braves, Angels/White Sox. The Rockies stink after making the World Series last year, and the Mets having a .512 record (as of Wednesday) would be more impressive if they weren’t second-to-last in their own division. The other two games are more interesting, especially Angels-White Sox which pits two division leaders (again as of Wednesday) against each other, but I doubt as many people will get D-Backs/Braves as should.

5-7:30 PM: NHL Hockey, Pittsburgh @ Detroit (CBC/VS.). The NHL’s dream Stanley Cup finals for American dominance starts.

7-10 PM: Ultimate Fighting Championship, UFC 84 (PPV). Yes, there’s an overlap. It’ll start with dull undercard matches anyway, it’s not much of an overlap. Besides, I bet you can’t afford it anyway.

Sunday
10-1:30 PM: IndyCar Racing, Indianapolis 500 (ABC). Or as ESPN is calling it, “The 92nd Indianapolis 500 telecast presented by GoDaddy.com”. First of all, it’s not the 92nd TELECAST, TV not being arouns 92 years ago and all, and secondly, this is what they’re calling it on their ticker even when referring strictly to the race itself! But who cares? It’s all about unification, baby! And Helio winning Dancing with the Stars! And Danica winning her first race! Wait, the latter already happened on a race on ESPN Classic that wasn’t Indy?

Honorable Mention: 12-3 PM: Champions Tour Golf, Senior PGA Championship, final round (NBC). Sheesh. I once created an imaginary system where all the championships could be scheduled on one imaginary network, because usually there’s no more than one at a time (this later evolved into Sports Watcher). Key word, usually, because in 2006 the MLS Cup interfered with the Chase for the then-Nextel Cup. Now I’m considering having two tracks of Sports Watcher. Get more high-profile sports onto the main Watcher, you know?

2:30-5 PM: College softball, super-regional action (ESPNU). If you’re not familiar with college baseball or softball, super-regionals appear to be pairs of regionals. 8 teams advance from the super-regionals to the College World Series and get placed into a bracket only once they get there. Regular ESPN actually airs softball during the Indy 500!

Honorable Mention: 4-6 PM: College lacrosse, women’s championship (CBS College Sports). It’s not because of the softball that I bumped this, violating my all-championships policy in the process. It’s so early in the softball tournament that I wouldn’t cry to lose it. It’s because it just barely interferes with…

5:30-8 PM: NBA Basketball, LA Lakers @ San Antonio (TNT). A Celtics-Lakers final would be heaven for NBA brass and ratings, as much of a godsend as Pens-Red Wings is for the NHL; a Spurs-Pistons final would be hell. Keep a very, VERY close eye on the officials in both series.

Soccer… MMA… softball?

College softball is a bigger deal than the WNBA or MLS, and is getting to be almost as big as UFC.

That’s what I have to conclude after the Women’s College World Series pulled off an average 1.5 rating, including a 1.8 for the rubber match between Arizona and Tennessee, admittedly according to ESPN itself.

I don’t know what ratings for the men’s College World Series are, but if they’re higher they’d have to poke into the twos, which is a bit mind-boggling.

So let’s go out there and start a pro softball league! Well, first of all, the Women’s Final Four gets pretty good ratings, roughly comparable with this, but the WNBA stinks up the ratings somewhere in the vicinity of .4. That said, we already have one, and I’d barely heard of it before last year. It’s six teams with hope for expansion, but despite having MLB as “official development partner”, you probably haven’t heard of it either. It’s not actually part of MLB but it seems to have failed at marketing compared to WNBA and MLS nonetheless. Of course, also part of its problem is that it has teams in Chicago AND Rockford, but none in NY or LA.