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McGair: World Series still rules (for some of us)!

October 24, 2011

Brendan McGair empties his notebook in this column.

Some quick-hitting observations/notes to pass along …
It almost never fails. Every time a major sporting event fails to reel in the viewing public, there’s some sort of announcement bemoaning how interest is down.
An email showed up Monday afternoon, detailing how Americans by and large aren’t tuning in to the World Series. More specifically, the email contained a telephone survey regarding why so few are interested in the matchup between the St. Louis Cardinals and Texas Rangers. Conducted by some group called “Poll Position,” the study revealed that of 1,110 registered voters nationwide, 55 percent announced that they have zero interest in the Fall Classic.
To that end, I say big deal. This series was never destined to be a ratings bonanza, something that people were lamenting once the participants were finalized. The Red Sox, Phillies or Yankees weren’t involved, which in turn likely kept the casual follower away.
That doesn’t mean the World Series should be contested on the moon. It’s the sport’s biggest spectacle, and so what if the usual big-market bullies that dominated the landscape during the summer months aren’t participating? Believe it or not, baseball is actually played in other cities that aren’t located along the eastern seaboard. That may be hard to fathom for some, but as fans of the Cardinals and Rangers will attest, there’s nothing wrong with infusing the sport with new blood.
If anything, this survey reveals just how much as a nation we are driven by star power. Name recognition is the key to attracting an audience, but if the names don’t resonate, chances are that the only ones watching are the hardcore followers, whose loyalty should never be questioned.
Speaking of “Poll Position,” the group wrote that the survey was conducted on Sunday, which was foolish timing on their part since Sundays are reserved for the NFL.
The sad thing is that the audience was probably greater for the Saints-Colts game on Sunday night than Game 4 of Rangers-Cardinals. We know what the better game was – anything that doesn’t involve a 62-7 score, which is the beating New Orleans laid on Indianapolis – but it seems we’re in the minority.
***
Ed Cooley has already created enough goodwill before coaching his first game at Providence, but let’s not forget that he has a major task ahead of him this season.
It’s one thing to inherit a group of players you didn’t recruit, but it’s another matter altogether to take those same players and try to rid them of all the bad habits that were accrued the past few seasons. That’s exactly the task facing Cooley. First, he must de-program the ways of ex-coach Keno Davis, a process that figures to take time.
Once the Friar players truly understand where Cooley is coming from basketball-wise, the real work can begin. PC fans could very well see a tale of two squads this season – one that is trying to distance itself from Davis’ style and one that’s trying to fall in line with Cooley’s defensive philosophy.
***
Hearing that it’s down to Frank Iannetta and Fred Saunders regarding who will fill the athletic director post at St. Raphael Academy. A decision should be forthcoming soon.
***
Certainly it will be refreshing to hear some actual baseball news coming out of Fenway Park on Tuesday when Ben Cherington takes over as general manager. Chicken/Beer Gate was taking on a life of its own, with the media sharing some of the blame in pursuing stories that had little to do with why the Red Sox failed miserably down the stretch.
***
The idea of creating a lively atmosphere at high school sporting events is more than acceptable – so long as it’s within reason. With that in mind, good for the officials at Saturday’s Tolman-Ponaganset football game for stopping the music, which was being played while the actual game was taking place.
It’s one thing to pump up the crowd with tunes after a change of possession or during a timeout. Yet what was going on served as a disservice to those on the field. One official remarked afterwards that he contemplated assessing Ponaganset with a 15-yard penalty, but thankfully it never got to that point.
If anything, the lack of music was the perfect chance for the crowd to get more involved, which to their credit they did.
***
Saturday’s 2-2 draw involving the Shea boys’ soccer team and La Salle Academy conjured this image – what happens if this same scenario reappears in the playoffs?
Answer: the worst kind of deciding factor, which is a shootout. There will be a couple of overtime periods, but if things remain unsettled, a shootout will enter into the equation.
To me, shootouts should not be used. Let them play on, which would allow the outcome to be determined on the grass surface, the proper way. To see a season boil down to a series of kicks seems unfair and anti-climatic.
With that in mind, teams had better work on perfecting their penalty kicks, knowing that said practice could come in handy.

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