Hump day hot takes: NHL bungles Winter Classic again, MLB extra innings drag on and more

Color me surprised: the NHL screwed up another major announcement and MLB continues to prolong games for no reason whatsoever. 

Nothing like Major League Baseball doing its damndest to compete against the excitement of the NHL playoffs and inevitability of the NBA playoffs like a couple of 18-inning games! We’ll tackle those three subjects, along with the NFL in the newest edition of this sports take palooza. Catch up on the last one if you haven’t already.

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1. Can the NHL please feature some new teams in the Winter Classic?

Kudos for the NHL for making a major announcement during the playoffs. I actually respect that. But, when the announcement has been known for months, it takes a bit of the sting out of it.

Anyways – the Winter Classic is headed to Citi Field for the Rangers and Buffalo Sabres on New Years Day 2018 is such a meh matchup that won’t generate much buzz. Sure, it’s the biggest city in the country, but the Rangers aren’t even the closest team to Citi Field, and outside of northern New York, nobody really gives a hoot about the Sabres. This will be just another example of the NHL not expanding its arm outside the general favorites for outdoor hockey.

How about Nashville – the darlings of the 2017 playoffs, getting in on the action? Or maybe Columbus, after a fantastic seasons that ended at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins? Or if you’re looking for some new blood, the Panthers-Lightning at Tropicana Field could be quite a spectacle.

But instead, we have the Rangers (on the road nonetheless, because of some dumb clause with MSG) against Buffalo. Nothing like a New York-centric matchup that won’t generate much buzz outside the Tri-State area. A hearty boo to Gary Bettman, but at least he’s used to that.

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2. I’ll say it again – the NBA Finals are already set, and these current series are just useless

I’m not much of a stat guy – that’s left to the job of Stat Tardiff (who had a 100% accurate take on Derek Jeter that you should read) but one has very much so jumped off the page at me this past week. That stat: 16-0.

That’s the combined record of the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers through 2 rounds of the playoffs. Not only have the Warriors and Cavs won every game of their two series, but they’ve breezed through the playoffs. It’s like a varsity team taking on a JV team. It’s not fun to watch. It’s easy, too fucking easy. Regardless of what the players will tell you.

Just like last week, I’ll stand on my mountain, the old man yelling at the clouds, proclaiming just how dumb the NBA playoffs have become. It’s the teams with the highest amount of superstars waiting to battle for the trophy. There aren’t upsets. Hell, there aren’t even really close matchups. Why are we kidding ourselves and prolonging things? It will be Cleveland and Golden State in the NBA FInals (AGAIN) and that’ll be the most entertaining series all playoffs.

Everything else before than is simply useless. The product on the court is up for debate on the entertainment value. Until the Cavs and Warriors meet up again, I’m not tuning in.

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3. Extra inning games continue to ruin my interest in baseball

Ah yes, the yearly tradition that gets me pissed off: crazy long baseball games in April and May. On the biggest night for the sport every week, the New York Yankees and Chicago Cubs battled for 18 innings into the wee hours of the morning on ESPN. When the hundreds of fans at Wrigley and on TV finally saw the final out, I can’t imagine the twisted sense of accomplishment they felt.

Why in the world are these teams burning their bullpens for an interleague game during the first month of the season. Does MLB recognize that their are 162 games a season, averaging around 3 hours per game? If they do, then it would make a lot of sense to figure out a way to stop a game like that from continuing. It’s already the middle of the following week, and both teams are still reeling with pitcher availability over a Sunday night game.

Maybe a home run derby isn’t the way to do it, but we can’t have baseball games going for 18 innings in the early stages of the season. I’m sure the baseball purists will say that every game matters and all that garbage, but we have to be practical here. If baseball wants to lower the average age of its fan below the age of 50, then 3-hour games 162 times a year including the possibility of a marathon game randomly thrown in there, good luck with that. I’ll be out having a life.

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Boston Celtics

4. I’m hesitant over the proclaimed success of the New England Patriots

Maybe it’s because I’m pessimistic about my favorite teams. Or maybe it’s because I’m realistic. Either way, I’m not quite ready to jump on board the New England Patriots having this wagon of a team looking to defend their fifth Super Bowl.

Don’t get me wrong, I like their moves of Brandin Cooks, Stephon Gilmore and Mike Gillislee (along with the one-year deal of Malcolm Butler), but there’s a lot of turnover at key positions that will need to be addressed headed into 2017. Gilmore’s signing is the one that has me most perplexed.

Rarely do you see first-day free agent signings being worth the money. Gilmore has always been a solid cornerback, and the Pats got to see him twice a year when he was with Buffalo, so he has a level of familiarity, but he never blew away anybody. So when New England gave him a huge contract, I was a bit concerned.

The Butler situation still has me worried, and Cooks’ ability to learn the New England system isn’t exactly a given. Teams that win the offseason usually celebrate like they’ve won the Super Bowl (see Bills, Buffalo), but the Patriots aren’t usually like this. I like the aggressiveness, especially with Tom Brady’s age continuing to grow, but I’m still a bit hesitant on hanging the sixth banner at Gillette Stadium.

That’ll do it for Tim this week. He’s inching back into his hot takeness and is glad that the hate has returned. Follow him on Twitter @culvey13

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