Slant Pattern Odds and Ends

* I've got to be real with you: I'm not feeling the NBA in-season tournament. I think the bottom line is that it's too early in the season for anyone to give a damn.

By "anyone," I mean the fans, not necessarily the players and teams. Let's look at the most famous basketball tournament in the U.S. if not the world: March Madness. What makes it special? I think the biggest part of it is the Cinderella stories, the upsets.

So what sort of upsets have happened, or can happen, in the 2023 edition of this tournament? Well, we don't know, do we? The thing about U.S. pro sports is every year, some teams rise and fall dramatically. Parity is the reality. We don't really know whose successes early in the season are a playoff run prelude, or a mirage.

I write this during the last night of group play in the tournament. As of this writing, two teams are poised to make the in-season tournament playoffs that did not make the regular postseason last year: Indiana and Orlando. Are they Cinderella stories? Or are we just finding out that they are legitimately good?

Teams will play as many as 7 games in this tournament that also count towards their regular season records: only the championship game does not. So I say, in the future, make those games 61-67 out of the regular season. With each team having 60 games under their belt, we know who the haves and have-nots are.

I doubt the NBA will do that, because I think a point here is to drum up some early season excitement for the NBA. Alas for them, I don't really thing there's anything they can do to take eyeballs away from football.

* Another breaking as-I-write-this story for the night is the CFP playoff rankings ahead of the conference championship games were just released. As an Ohio State fan and alum, I want the Buckeyes to somehow sneak in, but they are now ranked #6 (fair, by the way) and will need a lot of help.

One thing that I think is working against them is I imagine there's at least subconscious distaste (in the minds of not only the CFP committee, but media and fans, as well) for the same scenario to play out in two consecutive years: for Ohio State to back into the playoffs coming off a loss and thereby getting to avoid an extra game.

But more a obvious factor plays a role this year, too, which is we have a crazy-high number of teams that are good enough to win it all and are either undefeated or have just a single loss: Georgia, Michigan, Washington, Florida State, Oregon, Ohio State, Texas, and Alabama.

Of these, Florida State is probably the weakest due to losing Jordan Travis, but you can't count that against them when they haven't lost. The other seven would not surprise me if they won the whole thing, and there are paths to the semifinals for each of them. Still, it is astounding to see so many good teams, and it really underscores how much an expanded playoffs starting next year is a welcome development.

* Oakland won't be baseball-free after next year after all. The independent Pioneer League, which heretofore only had teams in Utah, Colorado, and Big Sky country, will welcome the Oakland Ballers to the fold next year. Their colors and green and gold they will go by "the B's." It very much reminds me of how it works when an English soccer team with a fair amount of fan support folds, relocates, or gets sold to an owner a segment of the fans hate: they just start a new club, with clear references to the former club, and work their way up from the bottom.

They will apparently play at the baseball field of a local junior college, and I can't find a seating capacity stated anywhere, but what an opportunity Oakland baseball fans have next year to raise a giant middle finger to A's ownership as they play out their final season in Oakland at the same time as the first of season of the B's: see to it that the B's outdraw the A's. At least on one day.

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