Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Monday, April 23, 2012

Monday Grab Bag: A perfect weekend

Apologies to Buff Nation, but today's grab bag will start off with the 21st perfect game in baseball history.  I will, however, also be talking about how CU gets its funding.

Click below for the bag...

A funny thing happened Saturday afternoon -

I don't know what everyone else in the Boulder-Denver Metro Area was doing Saturday afternoon, but I was glued to my computer, listening to Philip Humber (the 'H' is silent) mow through the hapless Seattle Mariners lineup.  Over 2:17 and 96 pitches, the mostly anonymous 5th starter for my beloved White Sox pitched his may onto the most exclusive list in baseball.  A perfect game from one of the more unlikely of sources.  Have fun hanging out with Kate Upton, Phil.
A thing of beauty.
They call it "perfect" for a reason: nine innings, no runners allowed.  27 up, 27 down.  It's the ultimate expression of individual excellence in professional team sports.  The most incredible part is that it seemed almost effortless.  Only once did the Mariners manage to make the defense sweat with a ball put in play, and that was a rather easily corralled line drive to right field in the 4th inning.  Compared with the heroics required to secure the last perfect game in White Sox history, Saturday was rather tame.

By far, the most dramatic moment in the game was the final out.  Faced with a do-or-die full count with two outs, Humber, only one strike shy of perfection, squeezed the slider a little too hard, and sent an obvious ball four careening wildly away from Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski and towards the backstop.  Pinch-hitter Brendan Ryan, caught up in the moment, began to swing anyway, only to realize how far off the plate the pitch would end up being.  His attempt to check his swing was to no avail, however, as plate umpire Brian Runge immediately called it a swing and strike three.  Ryan stood there arguing with Runge for a moment, allowing A.J. enough time to find the ball, and get it to first to complete the strikeout.  An imperfect ending to a perfect game.

On first glance, it didn't look like a swing to me.  You can judge for yourself:

Unfortunately, FOX decided against showing the side-angle replay we've all become accustomed to, leaving everyone guessing if Runge got the call 'right.'  For-what-it's-worth, Jim Margalus at South Side Sox had this to say:
"Lump in that bat position with the other elements of his swing -- he carried the bat forward with his upper body way out in front and shoulders turned, and he started taking his base before attempting to undo the body parts that committed to swinging. Taken all together, there are a lot of reasons Runge would make that call in the third inning of a 4-3 game, and nobody would think anything of it. So why wouldn't he make it in the ninth of a perfect game?"
Regardless, it was called an out on the field, baseball was saved another 'Galaragga moment,' and Humber got mobbed on the mound.  It couldn't have happened to a more humble guy, and gave a team I once though potentially embarrassing a shining moment to be proud of.

(I'd like to tip my hat to the Seattle fans.  They gave up partisanship in the 9th, and were obviously rooting for history.  They even gave Phil a deserved standing ovation post-celebration.  That fanbase has had more done to them than for them over the years, yet remain one of the classiest bunches in the league.  Kudos.)

Blacked out perfection -

Long after the game had finished, I was left with one dominating non-Humber thought: baseball once again got in it's own way.  What should've been a moment of unbridled celebration was shrouded by the fact that very few baseball fans were allowed to watch the game in its entirety.  Because FOX had chosen the game as part of it's "national" Saturday coverage, anyone outside of the blue area was blacked out from watching the game.

And when I say blacked out, I mean it.  I cut a $120 check each year to MLB so I can watch games on my computer.  I chip in another $15 so I can watch them on my phone.  Yet there is no amount of money I could have paid Bud Selig and FOX for rights to watch Humber's perfect-o as it happened.  Short of buying a plane ticket back home, I was stuck with audio-only.  (FOX cut into the Red Sox/Yankees game for the 9th inning, but this is a problem every weekend.)

I've talked about this problem before, but baseball's antiquated media rights system continues to keep the game in the dark ages, while other professional sports rule the digital age.  Just to be clear, I'm not just going to watch whatever game FOX and MLB want me to, so when the black me out, they black out potential revenues based on my viewership.  Baseball and FOX are literally telling me to keep my money, they don't want to take it.  Their prerogative, but it seems like bad business to me.

Why are we a public university? -

The gang at AllBuffs had some interesting information on where CU gets it funding, and how little of it actually comes from the State of Colorado.  Beyond the point that no state money gets distributed to the athletic department (the AD is wholly self-funded), is the fact that the State only chips in a paltry 2.64% of CU's operating budget.  I knew it was around that low, but 2.64% is crazy low.

I never again want to hear the State of Colorado complain about how CU spends it's money.  I don't want to hear complaints about tuition increases, professor salary pool, or political issues with curriculum.  If the State wants a voice on University matters, then they had better start putting some money behind the demands.  It's bad enough that the Regents are directly elected by the public (many of whom admittedly have CU's worst interests in mind), but for 2.64%, the State already has an outsized influence on events.

Happy Monday!

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