It’s easy when writing a regional sports blog to get caught up in all the local goings on without keeping a perspective on what is happening on the national stage.  Moreover, as a reader I am sure you probably pay attention to sports news outside of Maryland (if you’re desperate, anyway).  Back when I was with Around the Harbor I write a piece every Friday to end the work week that tried to cover some random musings from around the world of sports, and I have decided to dust it off from a few months of rest and bring it to BSR.  It won’t all be national, but it will all be random.  Welcome to Free Kicks, boys and girls.  Let’s line up for the kick…

The NFL is a Media Beast that Cannot be Fed

We gave it September-January, only to watch it annex February and August in quick order.  Then April became the draft and only the draft, confining college basketball to the month of March- appropriate, until you consider the length of the college basketball season.  The NBA playoffs retained May and June, but only until OTAs begin and god forbid training camp in July.  Baseball takes second fiddle the moment the NFL season is on the horizon- they should hope the NFL doesn’t go to the 18 game schedule.  I understand it; people want their football.  But why do we even have to tune in to hear about what team is preparing itself through this weak free agent class, or how the 5th round tight ends look at the combine?  Not only is the combine all but meaningless, but so is all the chatter in any month before September.  Last year I experimented by tuning out just about all NFL news aside from my team’s draft from the moment the Super Bowl ended to the opening kickoff (to the regular season, not preseason), and I was no less informed of a fan, nor did I have any worse idea of what was going to shake out during the season.  Let’s not tune in to irrelevant banter, there are other great sports out there.

Some People Take Spring Training Way Too Seriously

No, I am not talking about my compatriots at BSR or O’s fans in general.  I am talking about Barry Zito plunking Prince Fielder as retaliation for his bowling impersonation following a walk-off home run back on September 6th.  Zito, who doesn’t exactly have the kind of performance in recent years to validate puffing out his chest like this, had clearly been thinking about getting back at Fielder for unsportsmanlike conduct by… being a terrible sportsman.  This is Spring Training, and a great way to retaliate for Fielder’s behavior might be to not allow him to hit home runs against you.  Being as his ERA hasn’t been under 4 as a Giant and he carries one of the biggest wastes of a contract in recent memory, that might be difficult.  However, it sure is better than holding a grudge for 6 months and then hitting the guy.  Plunking a player is a childish act reserved only as retaliation for the other team targeting one of your guys.  Fielder didn’t do that.  He had fun in a September game.  So sue him.  Better yet, try to beat him.

Open Letter to University of Maryland Students/Fans

I’m sorry Maryland fans, but it’s gotta stop.  You know what I am talking about- the fires, the arrests, the pseudo-rioting after wins (or losses), etc.  It doesn’t matter that it’s not as bad as it is made out to be.  The reputation has been established that Maryland is a destructive school when it comes to sporting events (well deserved), and so any small indiscretion is going to be noticed and picked up.  Every time Maryland wins a big game, the arrests and damage are mentioned alongside it.  It isn’t that most schools do it and Maryland just gets picked on- they do it more than most and it needs to stop at some point.  Not because it means Maryland has bad fans (though it does indicate a lack of class), but it paints a picture of the University that is very negative.  Acts like that after games make the whole school seem backward, the antithesis of a high level research university.  It isn’t just the sporting world- the very stature of the University is affected.  As someone who works in higher education fundraising, image is everything when it comes to a university.  UMD has a wonderful reputation for burning couches.  So does West Virginia University and Michigan State University.  Do we really want to be the MSU of the South or the West Virginia of the East?  I shudder to think about it.