In case you missed it, a couple of weeks ago we completely overhauled our website. New look, new features, new content — it’s a feast for the senses. Jesse Chambers and I put our new apps through their paces soon after the launch by Twittering, live-blogging and video-recording Alabama’s A-Day game. You can log on to BhamWeekly.com for all of the archived coverage, but there are a couple of housekeeping issues that must be cleared up before we close the book on Alabama’s spring game.
First, the national spring football game attendance record — 92,138 in 2007 — that Alabama has so dearly clung to these past couple of years has been broken by Ohio State. The Buckeyes crowded 95,722 fans into the Horseshoe in Columbus last weekend, giving them spring bragging rights for now — at least until the Bryant-Denny expansion is complete next year.
Second, let the record show that the question heard ‘round the world following A-Day — the one that prompted Nick Saban to blame the fan base for the embarrassing Sugar Bowl loss in January — was proffered by non other than my colleague Mr. Chambers. Little did we know that the answer would push the sports agenda in this state for the better part of the following week!
Now that we’re done talking about Alabama football (at least in the short term), we shift east to the Plains, where Auburn is preparing for its first season under new head coach Gene Chizik. How the Tigers will adapt to their new offensive and defensive schemes remains a mystery at the present time. What’s evident is the Chizik policy of making quarterbacks hittable during practice hasn’t paid dividends to this point. The Tigers have already lost incoming freshman Barrett Trotter — a player that ran a similar scheme to the one being installed by Gus Malzahn — to a torn ACL.
This is the time of year where everyone wants me to forecast their team’s record for the upcoming season. This tradition began in 1999, after my bold prediction that Louisiana Tech would beat Alabama at Legion Field came true. The legend grew from that point forward. If you’re curious as to how I see both Alabama and Auburn’s seasons playing out, I’m afraid you’ll have to go to BhamWeekly.com and read for yourself. (That’s called “driving traffic.”)
Pro football has been in the news as of late, what with the NFL Draft and all. I gave my best shot at a mock draft several weeks ago, updated it the day before the numbers were called, and finished with very limited success. The thing about mocks is that you can’t prepare for the draft wild card – trades. Once Cleveland passed up Michael Crabtree and allowed the Jets to trade up for Mark Sanchez, I was toast.
Cleveland wasn’t the only team that snubbed the dynamic Texas Tech wideout. The Oakland Raiders, a team in desperate need of help anywhere they can find it, took Maryland wide receiver Darius Heyward-Bey with the No. 7 pick instead. Heyward-Bey has two of the three primary characteristics you want to see in a NFL receiver – great size and great speed. Now if he could only catch the football, the Raiders would be in business.
America’s favorite pastime
I’m going to be real here for a minute and tell you that April is not my primary baseball-watching month. With spring football, the Draft, the Masters and the NBA playoffs all on my viewing menu this month, I simply don’t have time for pitchers, hitters and catchers just yet. Apparently, neither do the rest of you.
Two weeks ago, I pointed the remote at ESPN to watch the Yankees and the A’s, but a rainout forced them to switch to the Pirates/Marlins game in Pittsburgh, where there were seven people in the stands behind home plate. Seven, swear to God! I started checking sports blogs trying to get to the bottom of the story, only to find out there was no story. Official announced attendance for the April 20 game: 8,090. That’s a crock. According to people who were there, less than half that figure actually showed up. And by the time I tuned in, less than half of the half who showed up still remained.
The thing is, attendance is down about 7 percent throughout MLB, spurred on in large part by the stinking economy, but no doubt aided by the ridiculous prices that teams are charging for tickets these days.
For instance, some seats at the “new Yankee Stadium” are going for $2,625 a pop. That’s per game! You could buy a Yugo for that. Even Hal Steinbrenner, the Yanks’ general partner, admits that some of his club’s tickets “might be overpriced.”
You’ve got to hand it to the Yankees; this year they actually have me buying into the concept of karma. Most baseball fans were slack-jawed when the team finished construction on the completely unnecessary “new Yankee Stadium,” complete with computerized lockers, an on-site art gallery and enough exotic marble to make the Taj Mahal look like a White Castle. Then visiting teams started swinging for the right field fences and hitting the upper deck…26 times in the first six games alone!
Yes, it appears that the Yanks have spent $1.5 billion on the world’s most decadent wind tunnel, not a good trait for a team that prides itself on a legacy of outstanding pitching. The Weekly wishes general manager Brian Cashman lots of luck signing free agent hurlers next season.
The NBA playoffs began on April 18 and will not end until at least June 11. That’s 54 days. Therefore, this concludes our discussion of the NBA playoffs until next month, at least.
I think I’d rather have swine flu than sit in 90-degree heat with 140,000 sweating NASCAR fans at Talladega.
Watching cars move around in a circle is equally as mesmerizing as watching water circle the drain in my commode at home. However I did experience some fascination with the impromptu aerial display performed by someone named Carl Edwards on the final lap of the race last weekend. Seems as if this Edwards fellow was somehow turned around while trying to pass this gentleman Keselowski, when suddenly his car became airborne and flew toward the grandstands. Through some miracle of thermodynamics, the only thing that separated “minor cuts and bruises” from full-on vehicular homicide was a chain-link fence.
Now they are talking about eliminating the high banks at the racetrack in hopes putting the kibosh on crashes similar to the one Edwards experienced. What a terrific plan! Step one: Remove the defining trait of an iconic racetrack. Step two: Eliminate the possibility of spectacular crashes (which is what all the rednecks come to see in the first place). Step three: Profit!
But then again, what would you expect from a sport that charges folks admission to watch traffic?