2020 is the year of parity. Will it continue in to future years? That remains to be seen. We will have to see how the “one and dones” are affected by the eventual NBA rule that will allow high school players to go straight in to the league.
It used to be kids wouldn’t declare for the NBA draft unless they were going to be a lottery pick. Then it drifted to kids leaving if they were going to be a first round pick. Last year, 175 players declared for the NBA draft. There are only 60 players drafted each year. This is evidence that a lot of bad advice is being given, some kids just don’t like going to class, and many kids are willing to go overseas to earn some money playing basketball. I don’t get it, but the proof is in the pudding.
Thus, we have parity. As defined above, parity means equal. And that’s what we have this year. A lot of teams can beat a lot of other teams. So if you like the three weeks of March Madness, you should be ecstatic this year. You are getting three months of madness.
Its only January, but check out these numbers courtesy of ESPN.
Part of the fun of watching sports is not knowing who will win. This year you literally don’t know who will win most games. I’m not even sure upset is the correct word for most of these results. There is still a month and a half of regular season mayhem before we get to the mayhem of March.
Oh, and good luck to the selection committee as they attempt to parse through resume after resume, and they all look the same. Picking the best 65 teams will be difficult enough, and seeding teams correctly may be next to impossible. It could be that nobody has a complaint, or everyone will have a complaint.
If you are a fan of rollercoasters, then the 2019-2020 college basketball season should be right up your alley. Sure the talent and skill level is down, but it’s not like you are watching a rec league game. There are still some really good players around the country, and there are some that will have long NBA careers.
I enjoy watching veteran teams with a lot of juniors and seniors. It is refreshing to see guys who stuck around, enjoyed the college experience, and got their degrees. After all, that is what college athletics is supposed to be.
In conclusion, if you are one of the haters then go back to your VCR and pop in a video cassette of Rick Barry shooting underhand free throws. Let the rest of us enjoy the craziness.
Just remember if you have a rooting interest, make sure your defibrillator is handy.
Two Cent Takes
~This week numbers 3(twice), 4(twice), 5(twice), 8, and 10 lost games. Just for good measure, numbers 12, 16(twice), 17, 19, 20, 21, and 25 also lost. For those bad with math, that is 16 top 25 losses this week. See opening column above.
- Overrated: Auburn– two losses this week exposed the warts this team had all along. Bruce Pearl is a master motivator so don’t count them out just yet.
- Underrated: Seton Hall– I’m a big Kevin Willard guy, and he has his Pirates playing really well. Plus, Myles Powell may be the best player in the country. This should be a top 12 team.
- Sleeper: Houston– The Cougars were a top ten team a year ago, but lost a bunch from that squad. But here they are again, on top of the AAC standings after a big win over Wichita State.
~The big win this weekend was Louisville over Duke, for their first win at Cameron Indoor Stadium since 1983. Duke shot 29 foul shots to Louisville’s 17, yet Coach K complained about the officiating after the game. The guys obviously a great coach, but this stuff gets old. He does this way too often.
~The one thing you can count on with Duke, since the beginning of time is them having an annoying white dude that annoys everyone not wearing Duke blue and white. Let me introduce you to this year’s version, Joey Baker.
That is lil’ Joey sticking his nose in where it didn’t belong. Classic Duke.
~You better win at home in the Big Ten. Penn State did that in a big way on Saturday, quieting the Patrick Chambers haters at least until the next game.
It’s more than fair for Nittany Lions fans to feel anxious after a couple of losses because they’ve read this book authored by Chambers before. The difference this year is literally every team in the country is going to go through these stretches. I still think Penn State will be fine.
~Jay Bilas is really good at his job.
~Sidney Crosby is back, and he looks like he hasn’t missed a beat. That’s what superstars do. Heading towards next weekend’s all star game, the Penguins are the forth best team in the entire NHL.
~Philadelphia finds itself in a battle for a wildcard. As of now, it looks like a four team battle. The Flyers will need to find more consistency in order to claim one of those spots.
~LSU claimed the national championship last Monday night. It was my pick from the start of the season, and I’m thrilled for head coach Ed Orgeron. At the risk of sounding like a fuddy duddy, i was not thrilled with the celebration. I thought the cigars were a bad look, and I know OBJ slapping a cop’s butt was a very bad look. It’s a great tool for your university to bring back famous alumni. Unfortunately OBJ is an idiot. Handing out cash and the butt slap took away from an otherwise spectacular night.
~Is LSU the best team of all time? Based on results, it has to be considered. The Tigers beat seven top ten teams, four top five teams, and the Tigers beat Alabama, Oklahoma, Georgia, and Clemson by an average of twenty points. Those are impressive numbers.
~The usual suspects will be atop the polls when September rolls around, and most likely the usual suspects will be in the playoff conversation. If you are looking for a team to take a flyer on next year go with Texas. The Longhorns have top ten talent, and maybe the coaching staff changes will ignite them.
~You can count on the Kansas City Chiefs making the Super Bowl every 50 years.
~The Chiefs own the NFL’s best offense by far, and they have added enough pieces to their defense to make it respectable. Patrick Mahomes is the best quarterback in the NFL, and that’s not close either. Keeping them under 28 points is a feat.
~My only regret in seeing the Chiefs in the Super Bowl is that Tyreek Hill gets to go. In most other lines of work Hill would’ve been fired after being accused of child abuse. The audio tape from the incident made it pretty clear his infant was scared to death of him, and it isn’t a stretch to think he was probably also abusive to his girlfriend.
~The Titans were fun to watch. They are well coached, but they did get away from their game plan far too quickly on Sunday. I still don’t think Ryan Tannehill is good enough to get them to the next step.
~The Packers some how managed to only lose three games this year. I don’t know how. They never really looked like a championship team. Their best offensive player was named Aaron, but not Rodgers. It was running back Aaron Jones. As for Rodgers, he looks old. How many throws that right arm still has in it is anyone’s guess.
~Jimmy Garoppolo threw eight passes yesterday. He didn’t need to throw that many. The San Francisco 49ers simply ran the ball down the Packers throat. They used a stifling first half defense and the legs of Raheem Mostert to dominate the NFC championship game.
~There is no doubt the two best teams made it to the Super Bowl this year. It has a chance to be a very good game. Can the 49ers dominating front four slow down Patrick Mahomes? Will Jimmy Garoppolo actually have to get loose? We have two long weeks to debate these matters.
~Kudos to the Chiefs and 49ers for the throwback logos.
I love the old two bar face mask. Takes me back to the good old days.
A Penny For My Final Thought…
Too bad Tom Hanks never mentioned anything about cheating in baseball.
The Houston Astros sign stealing scandal is appalling.
Sure there has always been “cheating” in baseball. From Gaylord Perry’s spitballs to Sammy Sosa’s corked bats, players have always tried to obtain an advantage. This, however, was next level cheating. This wasn’t a runner at second base trying to steal signs or George Brett putting too much pine tar on his bat. This was complete and utter systemic cheating by an organization.
Bravo to Rob Manfred, baseball’s commissioner, for coming down hard on AJ Hinch, the Astros manager, and Jeff Luhnow, the Astros GM. They accepted responsibility, but Luhnow, in particular, made it clear this was a dugout driven scheme. That brings about an important question. Why are the players not being punished?
Sosa was suspended 8 games for the corked bat. Pitcher Kevin Gross was suspended 10 games in 1988 for having sandpaper in his glove. In that same year Dodgers pitcher Jay Howell was suspended 3 games in the playoffs for getting caught with pine tar on his glove. Everyone this side of Gaylord Perry caught cheating has suffered suspensions.
We are keeping Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and others out of the Hall of Fame for using steroids. It was viewed steroid usage gave those players an unfair advantage. More recently players in both the major and minor leagues have been suspended for steroid use. Since 2005, 82 major league player have been suspended anywhere from 10 games to 211 games for steroid use. Why? Because it gave them an unfair advantage.
Ask anyone who has played baseball at a level higher than little league if knowing what pitch is coming is advantageous. If you are an average hitter it makes you an all star, and if you are an all star you become a hall of fame player.
The evidence is piled a mile high against the Astros players. It was already proven that they were banging garbage cans as a signal to hitters. Now there is mounting speculation that players, including all star José Altuve, were wearing electronic wires under their uniform in order to get illegal communication on pitches. Check out the clip below:
Altuve making sure he keeps that jersey on (via r/nyyankees) pic.twitter.com/OO32FVFxTi
— Kenny Ducey (@KennyDucey) January 16, 2020
Hmm…I wonder why Altuve doesn’t want his teammates ripping his jersey off after his AL Championship winning home run? He sprinted to the dugout, and into the clubhouse before reappearing with a change of shirts for his post game interviews. What a joke.
Instead of demanding suspensions for these players, just like every other player caught cheating over the years, some are making them in to martyrs. ESPN’s Jessica Mendoza was angry with former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers for “ratting” the Astros out. No mention of her disgust with the cheating players. ESPN would be wise to fire Mendoza, who aside from this bad take, is terrible at her job.
Baseball has enough problems attracting fans without black marks like this. A level playing field is already hard to come by in baseball. There are enough unfair advantages($$$) already built into the game without adding this kind of unsavory garbage to the list.
It puts teams like the Pirates even further behind because we all know Bob Nutting would never shop at Best Buy to buy the proper equipment to pull off a scheme like this. He would go to Walmart and get refurbished wires that just shock the players. Thus creating the new 2020 Pirates slogan: Too cheap to cheat.
Just my two cents…
Tim Clark is a columnist and editor for PennSports.LIVE, and a wonderful writer of words. He is a lifelong sports fanatic with an eclectic mix of favorite teams including USC Trojans football, Louisville Cardinals basketball, and the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pirates, and Penguins in pro sports.