Yowza. When I woke up this morning I was certainly not expecting such a Word Press-erific day, but I’ll happily take the traffic and appreciate the encouraging comments from so many people out there! On to part deux of my sports-viewing discussion.
First of all, for optimal American sports viewing it’s basically imperative that you get Foxtel. It’s kind of expensive and doesn’t hold a candle to DirecTV, but it’s the only way to get ESPN (Australian version, wonk wonk, meaning Premiership soccer when they could be showing football), three channels of FoxSports (generally disappointing) and One HD. I think One is available even without Foxtel, and it’s a good channel: it shows three NFL games/week (the two nationally-televised games plus one more randomly-selected Sunday game), college football, MLB, the NBA Playoffs and, according to its website, March Madness. Since it shows games live, though, you’ll want to have a DVR so you can record those 4 am East Coast afternoon games. Fox Sports also shows all of one game sometimes (how generous of them, especially since there are three freaking Fox Sports channels).
One seems to show about two college games per week (typically Big Ten or Pac-10 from ABC and an SEC game from CBS), and when we’re lucky ESPN HD and ESPN-normal show two different games. Thus far, my husband’s been able to watch his favorite team (Ohio State) play twice, I’ve seen Michigan once, and Cal is yet to appear. Of course, Cal has blown its two super-huge games (vs. Oregon and USC, ugh) so I guess I didn’t miss much. The ABC primetime Saturday night game always airs (that’s become our new Sunday morning ritual, which is hard to get used to), so as the season goes on you can rest assured that the most high-profile game will probably be watchable.
I’ve lucked out with the Patriots thus far, as they played the opening Monday night game to start the season, and One has shown two of their afternoon games (one of which was vs. the Jets, and almost caused me to throw objects at the TV). Rex Ryan may have replaced Don Zimmer as the fat New York coach I’d most like to roll off a cliff. When the Jets delightfully blew it against the Dolphins yesterday on MNF, my idol Bill Simmons tweeted that Ryan must have not used his timeouts because he ate them instead. “U can’t expect him to stand for that long w/o food,” he explained.
Love it. Anyway, there are a couple options for catching your team when they’re not on TV here. The easiest is to buy a Game Pass subscription from NFL.com. As you can see, that ish is expensive ($209 for a “Follow Your Team” pass). And I thought I was financially dedicated when I bought a $2.50 can of PBR at George & Walt’s in Oakland every Sunday morning to watch the Pats on satellite. My solution for this week’s big game against Denver was to DVR the game on my parents’ Slingbox, then watch it later in the day. This was seemingly free, though of course the wonderful Internet rates are capped here so it cost us in our montly GB allowance. I never thought I would miss Comcast or even (gag!) Time Warner Cable so much.
To my initial delight (way back last week, in happier times), I discovered the MLB playoffs were being shown in their entirety, both live and in primetime replay, on both Fox-regular (NOT HD) and One HD. Even better, TBS had the broadcast rights to the divisional series, so I didn’t have to mute the TV to drown out the inane blather of godawful Fox announcers Joe Buck and Tim “they must call him Papi because of all the pop in his bat” McCarver. Although the Sox never seemed to really hit their stride this season (due mostly to pitching injuries and the sad decline of David Ortiz), they’ve always ALWAYS had the Angels’ number in the playoffs, so my hopes were high. The pitchers showed up (until Papelbon took the mound in game 3, anyway)– it was the Sox’ bats that went cold. All in all it was an incredibly frustrating series to watch, particularly from halfway around the world in a totally different time zone. There’s something about watching a night game when it’s daytime that just makes me feel particularly disconnected.
Of course, I’m partly to blame because I didn’t wear my #1 good luck shirt (it’s short sleeved and it was SOOOO unseasonably cold here last week that I could only wear my sweatshirt!). And then I mixed up my times and completely missed game 3 because I thought it was on after the hated yankee game. Under normal circumstances I wouldn’t be caught dead missing a Sox playoff game (work? psaw!), but again there’s something about being so far removed from the action that I managed to screw it up. But, much like with the Cal games, maybe it was for the best: The Sox took a 6-4 lead into the ninth inning, and were one out (and just one little strike!) away from ending the game on three separate occasions, but formerly-clutch (and ever-crazy) closer Jonathan Papelbon managed to give up a walk and three hits to let the Angels back into it.
Adding insult to injury, the Patriots lost to the Broncos in overtime shortly thereafter. They looked great in the first half (save for Tom Brady overthrowing Randy Moss on a surefire touchdown pass that he would’ve made ten times out of ten in 2007), and then Brady sucked it up in the second half. Personally I blame Gisele; he’s way too flash and Hollywood these days and dating back to the Super Bowl against the Giants his head just hasn’t been as in it. It was a rough day for Boston sports fans, who have unreasonably high expectations to begin with and have been so spoiled over the last decade. One of my favorite snarky sports blogs, Deadspin, had an admittedly funny post about the whole thing, mockingly referring to that depressing day as “Black Sunday.”
On the bright side, at least I have something new to look forward to here: Cricket season. I’ll write a more in-depth post another time, but some of my newer readers may be surprised to hear that I actually quite like cricket, dating back to when I studied abroad in the UK in 2003. There is plenty of silliness about it, believe me, but it’s close enough to baseball (while also eccentrically different in certain ways) that I really enjoy it. And I love that it’s so popular all around the world (see my inexplicable love for Jamaica).
So here’s hoping the Patriots return with a vengeance, that the yankees get swept, that MLB umpires learn how to do their jobs, and that the Windies field a full-strength team for their upcoming Australian tour. If all that happens I can live with Black Sunday.