Stories indexed with the term ‘playoffs’

Column: Hockey Fans Ask – Now What?

John U. Bacon

John U. Bacon

Most sports fans are happy just to see their team make the playoffs. But Detroit Red Wings fans have been able to take that for granted for a record 22 straight seasons. The last time the Red Wings didn’t make the playoffs, not one current NHL player was in the league. Some of the current Red Wings weren’t born. Nine current franchises weren’t yet created.

But the record seemed doomed to be broken this season.

To start, there almost wasn’t a season at all, thanks to the contract dispute between the players and the owners, who both thought the other side was making too much money.  And, of course, both sides were right – setting up a game of chicken between self-destructive lunatics.

When a federal mediator finally brought them to their senses in January, they had just enough time left to play a 48-game schedule – which actually seemed about right. But the Red Wings came out flat-footed, falling so far behind they had to win their last four games just to sneak into the seventh of eight playoff spots.

In the first round, they faced the Ducks of Anaheim – formerly the Mighty Ducks – which is already an affront to everything that is holy about hockey.

Amazingly, the Red Wings beat them in seven games – quite an upset. Their reward: an even tougher opponent, the top-seeded Chicago Blackhawks, who earned at least one point in their first 24 games, which is a record.

But for hardcore hockey fans – and really, are there any other kind? – this series was a reward. [Full Story]

Column: “Fix” Is In For College Football Playoff

John U. Bacon

John U. Bacon

Well, it’s finally upon us. No, not the apocalypse – the Mayan calendar be damned – but a bona fide, Division I, college football playoff.  A committee of 12 university presidents – not coaches, or even athletic directors, but presidents – recently approved a plan to create a four-team college football playoff, the last major sport to have one.

So what if college football somehow survived without a playoff since its inception in 1869?  That’s 22 years before James B. Naismith invented the game of basketball, 34 years before the first World Series, and 51 years before the National Football League was even formed.

But yes, we need a playoff now.  Because clearly, the first 143 years of college football were pointless, meaningless and worthless – because they didn’t have a playoff.

It’s true that college football’s popularity – in attendance, TV ratings, merchandise sales, and just about any other way you want to measure it – has never been greater.  But yes, we need a playoff now. [Full Story]