We’re two weeks into this young NHL season and I think it’s time to admit that the league has a fighting problem. The NHL is currently on pace for 241 fights this year, its lowest total in over 18 years (I couldn’t find stats from before 2000). We’re currently looking at 0.19 fights per game and only 16.84% of games with a fight. Just 10 years ago there were 0.60 fights per game and 41.38% of games with fights. (All stats courtesy of hockeyfights.com) So what’s the problem? People aren’t fighting enough!
When Ohio State takes the field this weekend against Tulane it will be the first time this season that they’ll do so with Head Coach Urban Meyer. Meyer returns to the Buckeyes, who enter the game as 37 point favorites over the Green Wave, after serving a 3-game suspension. During Meyer’s absence, Ryan Day did a more-than-serviceable job filling in. While he never faced much adversity during the first two weeks of the season, the Day-led Buckeyes faced a huge test on the road against TCU in week 3. After a relatively lackluster first half, and facing a 21-13 deficit late in the 3rd quarter, Day made the necessary adjustments and rallied the team for a 40-28 victory. Given his stellar performance as interim Head Coach, I think Day deserves another shot at the spotlight, which is why I think the Buckeyes need to roll with a two-head-coach system from here on out.
Now I know all of you naysayers will be quick to spout off all of your meaningless cliches: “But there’s only one headset”, and “If you have two Head Coaches then you don’t have one”, or “Ryan Day’s job title is Offensive Coordinator, he isn’t a Head Coach”. All I hear when you say that is “I’m old, stubborn and stuck in my ways and I’m afraid of anything that’s new and different.” Sure, Day may get to take the reins in mop-up duty this week against Tulane, but I want to see him get some meaningful time at the helm when it matters, like next weekend in Happy Valley. As long as they implement it correctly, like rotating them in and out after a set number of series, then it’s going to keep opposing teams on their toes and can lead to nothing but success (just look how great their two-QB system worked a couple years ago). Hell, I wouldn’t mind seeing the Buckeyes run them both out as head coach at the same time for a couple plays. It’s going to confuse the shit out of the players and everyone knows that the only way to combat chaos like that is to perform at peak levels, so it’s guaranteed to maximize production from the OSU players.
Some of you may be asking, “Is it really fair for a guy to lose his job to his backup just because he misses a few games for something small like an injury or terribly mishandling a domestic violence situation with a member of his coaching staff?” Fair question, but this is a “Next man up”/”What have you done for me lately?” kind of game. Urban should know that better than anyone. Nobody is irreplaceable (shout out Beyoncé), so if Day steals some reps from Meyer after all of this then he’s earned it. And I think the Buckeyes are better off for it. It’s time to introduce a new wrinkle into the game. This one-coach mentality is starting to get stale.
Joey Votto is arguably one of the best Canadian-born baseball players of all time. So it’s no surprise that many Canadians were displeased to hear him come out and say that he doesn’t “give a rat’s ass” about Canadian baseball. In a recent interview for Yahoo Sports MLB Podcast, Votto was asked about fellow Canadian James Paxton’s no-hitter that he threw recently in Toronto. While Joey did say he was happy for Paxton as an individual and as a fellow baseball player, he said that he didn’t care about the fact that Paxton did it as a Canadian or that he did it on Canadian soil. Votto went on to explain that having spent almost half his life in American baseball, he really doesn’t feel a strong connection to Canadian baseball anymore. He later apologized for what he said, and for how bluntly he said it, but many Canadians are still not happy with him. At least according to Twitter.
It’s no secret that Bengals fans are fed up with the organization right now. After five straight years of first-round playoff exits, they’ve failed to make the postseason the past two years. The team seems to be headed in the wrong direction, and without much promise for a quick turnaround. Sprinkle in a handful of on- and off-the-field incidents and you’ve got a level of discontent in the fan base that’s at an all time high. Most feel that the majority of the blame falls with head coach Marvin Lewis, who’s failed to deliver a playoff victory after 15 seasons. For a brief moment this past season, it felt like change was finally on the way when reports surfaced that Marvin did not plan to return next year. That hope was short lived, however. Marvin came out and denied the reports the next day, and Mike Brown offered him a two-year extension after the season ended. For many fans, that was the last straw. Now the team’s leaders are faced with the task of replacing the fans that they’ve driven away. Luckily for them, there’s a massive college fan base just a couple hours up I-71, and they took some pretty obvious steps during the draft to tap into that fan base.
People often ask me, “Whitty, are you satisfied with the career choices that you’ve made in life?” A
wildly minimally successful blogger writing for a website that is literally read by millions dozens of people every week? Of course, what’s not to love? I have no regrets about the choices I’ve made that have led me to this point in my career. At least I didn’t until I learned that Fortnite scholarships were a thing. You mean to tell me you can get paid to go to school as long as you promise to play video games competitively for them? Where do I sign up?
Henrik and Daniel Sedin just played the final game of their career on Saturday night. In case you missed it, the Sedins announced their retirement on Monday. After 18 years with the Vancouver Canucks, the world’s favorite pair of Swedish twins have decided to hang up the skates in order to spend more time with family. I’m not typically one to nitpick, but when you’ve played on the same line as your twin brother for your entire career, don’t you pretty much spend time with family every single game? Seems like a piss poor excuse to me, but I digress. I always hated the Sedins. Not because there was anything unlikable about them personally, but because they were just so damn good. I hated when my team had to play against them. It was almost unfair how much chemistry they had on the ice, but I guess when you’ve grown up with someone your entire life and you share the same set of genes, you’re going to be pretty in tune with each other. They were incredibly talented, and I think there’s no doubt that they’ll be headed to the Hall of Fame some day. Still, if they want to boost those chances, they may be better off lobbying to be inducted as a single person. They’re practically the same person anyways…
If you aren’t into video games (or aren’t in a relationship with someone who is) then you may not be familiar with the game Fortnite. But even if you’ve never seen or played the game, chances are you’ve seen or heard references to it on TV, in the news or on social media. It’s one of the most widely popular video games I’ve ever seen. Where else can you get a professional video game player, a rapper and an NFL athlete all coming together to play a video game streamed live for over 600,000 people? When Drake, Travis Scott and some NFL receiver joined pro gamer Ninja for an evening of Fortnite, they broke streaming records. Athletes, celebrities and moderately popular bloggers everywhere are squadding up with average Joes like you and me and I’ve never seen anything like it. The newly released mobile version of the game brought in over $15 million in just a few weeks, and it’s a free-to-play game! As my good friend Jefe put it, Fortnite is changing the world of gaming as we know it.
On Tuesday the NFL announced that it had approved a rule change to expand the scope of the helmet-hit rule. Under the new rule, any player who lowers their helmet to initiate contact with an opponent could be subject to a 15-yard penalty. Depending on the severity of the infraction, the player could also be ejected. In addition to this change, the NFL is currently working on a “targeting” rule similar to the one in place today in college football.
Player safety has been a hot topic over the last few years, fueled by recent studies into the long-term effects of brain injuries and by the numerous highly publicized struggles of former players who suffered from CTE. I’m certainly in favor of making the game safer. I also agree that rules changes are going to be necessary to protect the lives of NFL players, not just while they’re playing, but long after they’ve retired. That being said, a poorly implemented “player safety” rule can have a negative impact on games, so the NFL will have to be careful with how these rules are implemented. The college targeting rule, for example, has led to many unnecessary penalties and unwarranted ejections, even with the aid of replay. Let’s take a look at some hits that, under the NFL’s newly updated helmet-hit rule, could have led to a penalty and even a possible ejection.
The Final Four is set. On one side you have two basketball powerhouses in Villanova and Kansas. On the other, a second-rate school with a shitty athletic program that somehow managed to luck their way into the Final Four, and the Loyola Ramblers. (And for those of you keeping score at home, my “Perfect Bracket” turned out to be not even close.) The Ramblers, and their #1 fan Sister Jean, are on an amazing run, becoming just the fourth 11 seed in NCAA tournament history to reach the Final Four. None of the other three managed to make it into the finals, so if Loyola can knock off michigan on Saturday they will be in unprecedented territory. And if that happens, we have a serious question to answer: Who is the bigger story of the 2018 NCAA Tournament, Loyola or UMBC?
UPDATE (3/20/2018): Many of you have been wondering just how perfect my “Perfect Bracket” turned out to be following the madness of the opening weekend of the tournament. Turns out the answer is “not very.” Now I know what you’re thinking: “Whitty, I trusted you to give me the perfect bracket, and you let me down.” You’re right. I’m sorry. I fell victim to some shitty officiating that I didn’t account for in my simulations. I also may have applied my analytics at the the wrong time (in retrospect, I probably should have aaced uniform color for the sweet 16). Again, I’m sorry. In the words of my good friend Jim Calhoun:
So just how bad was it? Well, I accurately predicted 3 of the teams in the Sweet 16, so really not too terrible. That’s almost 19%, which, in terms of batting average, would almost be good enough to hit leadoff for the Reds. And I still have 2 Elite Eight teams left! That means that even though I can’t achieve my goal of perfection, I’m sure I’m still in the running for top bracket in then ESPN bracket challenge. As long as none of the 15.9 million people ahead of me get any more picks right, I may still have a shot. If UMBC can shock the world, why not Whitty?
If you missed my original picks, be sure to check them out below: