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MSR’s Good Idea/Bad Idea?: November 28, 2011

It’s time for another edition of “Good Idea/Bad Idea.” You know how it works: I address an issue, and make my verdict – is it actually a good idea or bad idea? Couldn’t be simpler. So, let’s get to it:

Issue: Adding another Wild Card spot to the MLB Playoffs, potentially beginning in 2012

It came down the pipe last week: the Houston Astros will pull a Milwaukee Brewers and switch leagues, from the National League to the American League, starting in 2013.

Two years from now, the Astros, who currently play in the NL Central, will play in the AL West, with teams like the Oakland A’s, the Los Angeles Angels, and, fellow Texan team, the Texas Rangers. While the move will reverberate through the major leagues like a tidal wave, one side effect in particular is in regards to changes in the playoff system.

Particularly, with 15 teams in each league, it has provided MLB with a new basis for adding another playoff team – a second Wild Card. In this case, two Wild Card teams in each league will battle it out in a one-game playoff to see who goes on to play in their respective League Division Series.

Now, I can understand that people may be hesitant to the change – while it allows another team to make the playoffs, some have considered that it may cheapen the importance of the postseason. Then there is the idea that adding another playoff team is akin to fixing something that was never broken. When you really think of it, what would be the point of basically having a 163rd game as a play-in to get into the “actual” postseason?

Why the hell would we want more of this?

Then again, that’s exactly the point.

Let’s skip the obvious financial reasons for having a play-in (i.e. it would bring in more revenue for MLB). When it really comes down to it, what would be the fundamental problem with an extra playoff game in both leagues? It would excite two more cities that would get a chance to perhaps play for the World Series title.

And, after all, nine Wild Card teams have reached the World Series since 1994, when the original Wild Card format was established, and five of them have won the Fall Classic – including this year’s St. Louis Cardinals. It adds to the excitement – and, as one Jeff Sullivan puts it, the “drama-filled randomness” – of the postseason.


Issue: Awarding the University of Houston a BCS Bowl bid if they go undefeated

The Cougars are one game away from a potentially magical season. Or not.

As they stand, the University of Houston is 12-0, after a 48-16 win at Tulsa. They have a chance to go undefeated for the season, should they win their next game against No. 24 Southern Mississippi. They are hailed as the team with one of the most dynamic offenses in the country, headed by Heisman candidate QB Case Keenum. They possess a passing attack that gains an average of 449.7 yards per game, ranked best in the country. They are also ranked first in points per game (52.7), and outscore their opponents by an average of 31.8 points per game.

So, with those lucrative numbers, why, you might ask, would they be denied a BCS Bowl berth – especially if they go undefeated?

Could it be those all-red uniforms? No?

The answer is quite simple: the Cougars play in Conference USA – perhaps one of the weakest Bowl Subdivision conferences in the country.

It’s the perennial “Boise State” argument for why small, non-BCS schools don’t “deserve” to play in a big-time BCS bowl: they played no one worth a grain of salt during the regular season, to warrant any consideration. This ESPN article by Brian Fremeau sums it up – the quality of opponents they have played throughout the regular season lend to an argument that Houston may equate more to the 2007 Hawaii Rainbow Warriors, than to last year’s TCU Horned Frogs. And, sure – if anyone remembers the 2007 Sugar Bowl, rest assured that no one wants to see that again.

Ouch. Sorry, Hawaii.

But, c’mon. That’s a classic “Sins of The Father” argument, which, for sports, really doesn’t apply. We shouldn’t penalize this team – that could go unblemished for the entire regular season – for what happened four years ago. If they go undefeated, no matter who they play, it must mean they’re good. And, who wouldn’t want to see the potential for that high-powered offense against a team like Virginia Tech, Arkansas or Stanford?

Think of the storylines leading up to the game: Case Keenum vs. Andrew Luck. The next non-BCS school to reach a BCS bowl – the Cinderella story. Why wouldn’t you want to watch – especially if they surprise everyone and hang with their opponent, or even win. And, hell – even if they don’t, how damaging can it be to the BCS as it is already? If anything, playoff supporters will have yet another call to arms.

Just give them a chance.


Issue: The Houston Texans bringing in Brett Favre to finish the season at QB

Well, they’re in for it, now.

Just two weeks after the Houston Texans lost starting QB Matt Schaub to a season-ending Lisfranc injury, they are now without their backup QB, Matt Leinart, with an apparent shoulder injury that could shelve him for the season, as well. For a team that is 8-3, and well on their way to winning the AFC South, this can only spell disaster for their hopes of a playoff run – that is, if they can hold off the Tennessee Titans for the remainder of the season.

With the prospect of third-string QB T.J. Yates captaining a Texans offense that is ranked second overall on the ground, Houston’s front office may have to look elsewhere for a signal-caller to lead them into the postseason.

How about looking in Hattiesburg, MS?

“Hi, there.”

That’s right – despite sticking to his third retirement, rumors have been flying that Brett Favre should come back to play for the Houston Texans, in his fourth stint in the NFL, at age 42. Many think that, as a short-term solution, it would be a match made in heaven – Favre would be rested; the Texans could use his gun-slinging ways as a check for NFL defenses to keep the defenses honest for their stellar run game; and perhaps he would still have something left in the old tank.

Ugh. Give me a break.

First, if there was anything I learned from his last comeback, it was that he was done with football – maybe it was the fact that it wasn’t really his decision to come back the last time around, or maybe he just didn’t have anything left. In any case, his play in 2010 said it all – the magic was no longer there. I can all but guarantee that if he is called back to the NFL, for necessity’s sake, it might not be pretty.

This happened last year. How do we not remember this?!

Second, I don’t think the publicity surrounding such a lucrative move would be all that great for the Texans, in general. The media circus that would swarm all over Houston wouldn’t be productive for a team that had quietly ascended the AFC ranks with an 8-3 record. Somehow, they are still sneaking up on teams. That won’t happen with Favre around.

And third … just … stop. Just stop. Enough. I am sick and tired of Brett Favre coming in and out of the league, and I don’t think I’m the only one. Hopefully, he lets sleeping dogs lie, and, if the Texans come calling, he just says NO.


Issue: Making skirts mandatory for female boxers in the 2012 London Olympics

In the name of gender equality, I wish I was making this up.

Apparently, the International Amateur Boxing Association (IABA) is currently mulling over, with women’s boxing featured as a new Olympic sport, whether the participants should be required to wear skirts during competition. The requirement would begin in the 2012 games.

It would be a good PR move for the IABA, especially with such a high-profile event like the Olympic games – and officials have said that the skirts would set female boxers apart from the men.

That being said … Are you freaking kidding me?

Granted, it’s been clarified recently that skirts for women boxers would not be mandatory, but encouraged. But even then – the fact that they would encourage this … is embarrassing. It’s hard enough being an woman in a sport that is associated with machismo, toughness – all things associated with “being a man”. The gender politics, alone, are enough to cause a controversy with the sport, itself. Most, if not all, of these women are boxing because of their passion to do it.

And if you think this is a stock photo of hot girls “pretending” to box, click the photo and think again, stud.

But the thought of having them wear a skirt – it just isn’t right. Now, in the scheme of things, it doesn’t seem like a big deal. But, one must realize that it reinforces the image that these athletes aren’t boxers; they are women boxers. Why not try to appreciate these athletes for the sport they compete in, and not for the attire they have on to compete?

No skirts required, please. Let them focus on fighting.



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