Friday, July 5, 2013

Sports this 'n' that

This happens every year in the New York-Penn League. One team gets off to a hot start, then fades quickly. Usually, it's because one or more of that team's best players are promoted within the parent club's organizational chain.

That's exactly what's happened with the Tri-City Valleycats. Two weeks into the season, the 'Cats have seen their lead in the Stedler Division shrink to a mere game over 2nd place Lowell, after the Spinners won Thursday night. Following Tuesday's doubleheader split in Vermont, OF/DH Dan Gulbranson was promoted to Quad Cities, ending his tenure with the 'Cats, just two weeks into his 2nd season with the team. Gulbranson was hitting just shy of .400, and was the team's offensive centerpiece. Tri-City has lost two games since Gulbranson's departure, meaning that there is a certain amount of psychological distress affecting the team that needs to be addressed ASAP. Still, Tri-City is a tidy 7-2 at home headed into play tonight vs. Lowell, and there's 2 months left in the season. Plenty of time for things to change for the better.

A week ago, the wrestling community lost a veteran performer in Matt Borne, whose peak years were in the 80's on the West Coast, mostly in his native Oregon and in Texas (with World Class), but then created the character of Doink the Clown in WWE in 1992-3, first as a villain, then as a beloved fan favorite after a midget sidekick, Dink (Tiger Jackson) was added to the act. However, by that time, I think, Borne was gone, and another man donned the makeup. Long time WWE mainstay Steve Lombardi was the last man to assume the identity of Doink a year ago, losing to Heath Slater on Monday Night Raw.

It wasn't too long ago that a man using the Doink ID appeared for Ultimate Wrestling East on the undercard. I do not know for certain who essayed the character that day. Unfortunately for Borne and the WWE, online headlines made it seem as though Doink himself had passed away right along with his originator. I would think WWE would have something to say about that, as they, to my knowledge, have not acknowledged Borne's passing.

Speaking of Ultimate Wrestling East, their next two shows, the last shows of 2013, will be on Saturday nights (Sept. 28 & Nov. 16), to avoid a conflict with the NFL. I can see the rationale there. UWE will move back to Sunday matinee cards in January, even though that still puts them in conflict with the NFL playoffs, especially if the Giants are in the hunt for the Super Bowl. Another benefit to an evening card is that there might be crossovers with Ballston Spa-based In Your Face Wrestling, which regularly books Saturday night shows, and just opened a training camp in Lansingburgh. Some of the UWE wrestlers, such as CJ Scott and GM JP Black, also work for IYFW, which makes cross-promotion a very real possibility.

The next thing either promotion could stand to add is a deal with Time Warner Cable that would allow for tape-delayed broadcasts of the cards to air on public access channels. It wouldn't hurt.

The NCAA needs to wake up and embrace the 21st Century.

Yahoo! reported on Thursday that Baylor women's basketball coach Kim Mulkey would be suspended for 1 2014 tournament game for criticizing officials during this year's tournament. What irritates me is how the NCAA and pro sports leagues insist on fining players and coaches for making remarks about the officials when it's clear that some of these boneheads in zebra stripes have to be held accountable for making mistakes that have a damaging effect on games.

In Mulkey's case, her star player, Britney Griner (now in the WNBA) was getting brutalized in the paint, and it seems the referees were holding their whistles and holding back on calling fouls. That happens all the time in the men's game, both pro & college. While there are those who have accused the NBA of fixing games to benefit their television partners (ESPN/ABC, TNT) for the sake of ratings, who's to say that the NCAA isn't doing the same thing (ESPN has exclusive rights to the women's tournament, and TNT shares rights to the men's tournament with CBS)? The archaic, allegedly august body that calls itself the NCAA needs a total overhaul, preferably yesterday.

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