bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Daytona is a big mess once again

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For the third time this season, NASCAR foisted the joke that is restrictor plate racing onto its fanbase. Everything about this race was bad, although not all of that was the governing body’s fault. The summer race at Daytona has been going on for a very long time, and this year’s edition was just a mess from start to finish. I guess it is my own fault for paying attention.

The truly amazing part of this to me is how unaware NASCAR and its partners seem to be of the mess that these plate races have become. There are 36 races each season, and in 32 of them, the best cars and the best drivers have a significant advantage over the also-rans and the hangers-on. This is as it should be, as those teams have worked hard and have the resources to put themselves in that position. At Daytona and Talladega, though, the field has been leveled by restrictor plates. For those who are unfamiliar with this concept, a restrictor plate limits the air flow to the engine to cut down the horsepower and slow the car down. This started at these two tracks back in the eighties after speeds simply got too high at these massive ovals. The problem is that when you cut the top-end power off of these motors, all the cars become essentially equal. Add in the effects of the wind draft, and you have cars that run in a giant pack and can’t get away from each other. Not only does this take away most of what I like about racing, it also produces gigantic wrecks when someone in that pack messes up even a tiny bit, as cars simply have nowhere to go.

This week’s race was supposed to be on Saturday night under the lights at Daytona. Rain prevented that from happening, so the race was postponed until Sunday morning. I put the broadcast on my phone as I was starting my long run on Sunday and quickly regretted it. Rain began again as the race got underway, so there were numerous delays. You haven’t heard inane conversation until you have listened to NASCAR commentators trying to kill time. Even when the race was going, it’s hard to have much to talk about when every car is part of a huge bunch. I don’t like to mess with my phone once my run starts, so I was stuck with this dreck for the duration. A number of times during the broadcast, the announcers waxed poetic about the fact that racing at Daytona is the great equalizer, as anyone can win. I found myself yelling (in my head) at these guys, which does wonders for a running cadence, by the way. Don’t they see that “anyone can win” is not a good thing? The fact that David Gilliland and Reed Sorenson started on the front row is a joke. Each of these guys has started every Sprint Cup race this season, and neither of them has finished in the top ten even once. There’s a reason for that.

There used to be a racing series called IROC, or International Race of Champions. Each year, top drivers from a number of different racing series (NASCAR, IndyCar, Formula One, etc) would compete in a few races, each one driving a car that was set up indentically to all of the others. That was fine for that kind of series, but for NASCAR, I have no interest in seeing all of the cars be equal. Part of the beauty of this sport is seeing the way the best teams differentiate themselves. Artificial parity has no value here.

Two big wrecks, the second of which was massive, wiped out much of the field on Sunday. To make things even worse, the race was stopped for rain after 112 of the scheduled 160 laps and never went back to green. Aric Almirola, another marginal driver, was declared the winner because he was in front at the time the race was stopped. Woo hoo. Glad I wasted my time on this one.

Bad sports, continued:

2) Neymar, yet another single-named soccer star from Brazil, will miss the rest of the World Cup tournament after he broke a vertebra on Friday when he collided with a player on Colombia’s squad during a match that Brazil won, 2-1. He is generally reviewed as Brazil’s best player, so this could be quite a blow to their chances.

3) Josh Gordon’s terrible off-season continued this week when he was arrested for drunk driving in North Carolina on Saturday. The wide receiver from the Cleveland Browns appears less and less likely to be allowed to play at all this year.

4) Dion Jordan, the defensive end that the Miami Dolphins took in the first round of the 2013 draft, has been suspended for the first four games of the upcoming NFL season after he failed a test for performance-enhancing drugs.

5) The second inning of a game between the Cincinnati Reds and the Milwaukee Brewers became a bit of a circus on Sunday when a fan interfered with a ball that was still in play. The idiot prevented Milwaukee outfielder Logan Schafer from making a catch by reaching over the outfield wall with his baseball glove as Schafer jumped to catch the ball. The hitter, Ramon Santiago, initially rounded the bases for an inside-the-park homerun, as it was unclear what had happened once the fan failed to actually catch the ball. I sure hope the guy was ejected.

6) A defensive lineman from Ohio State was arrested for cocaine possession at a strip club in Ohio. Tracy Sprinkle has since been kicked off the team.

Good sports:

1) The Toronto Blue Jays did something very smart and pretty unconventional on Thursday during a game against the Oakland A’s. Manager John Gibbons actually used one of his replay challenges to reverse a call that had originally ruled one of his own runners safe. The changed ruling meant that a play at the plate, during the same sequence, was no longer a force play so a run scored when it previously hadn’t. Well done.

2) Tennis player Novak Djokovic won Wimbledon for the second time by beating eight-time champion Roger Federer in five sets on Sunday. This was Djokovic’s seventh major championship.

Bad sports, good sports appears early each week

Alan Spoll is a software quality assurance director from the suburbs of Philadelphia where he lives with his wonderful wife and children. He has spent his entire life as a passionate fan of the Eagles, Phillies, Sixers, Flyers, and Penn State. Recent Phillies success aside, you will understand his natural negativity. Follow me on Twitter - @DocAlan02
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One Response to “Bad sports, good sports: Daytona is a big mess once again”

  1. Alan

    I have been a “toe in the water” NASCAR fan and my only real interest is to see that Tony Stewart does not finish any race. Why I can’t stand the guy, I cannot say… but I can’t stand the guy.

    On another subject, there was a story that DeAngelo Williams gave up his upgraded airline seat to a man dressed in Marine Corps dress blues. Williams tweeted the event with photos, and I do not think that was self-serving nor out of line. I like to see that kind of thing any time and every time. I thought that was a good gesture, and tweeting it is a good way to highlight the subject and hopefully pass on honor and respect toward veterans.

    Unfortunately, it seems the man to whom Williams exchanged seats may have been a faux Marine. I checked the photo and it’s obvious to any Marine that the guy is out of uniform in a few important aspects. What was interesting was how people who never served were so upset in their Twitter posts that other people pointed out that this supposed Marine was out of uniform and possibly a poseur.

    I guess the point is don’t worry about the facts…just feel good. In DeAngelo Willaiam’s case, I fully congratulate and thank him for doing what he believed to be a gracious gesture. Nobody expects a civilian to know about USMC uniform regulations. Williams did right and he is to be commended. But people posting on Twitter who were informed that this man was probably posing as a veteran, and then went on to condemn other vets for calling him out, was discouraging. It appears that style (and just being nice and tolerant) truly beats substance in today’s culture.

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