How to Solve Lapped Cars in Your Lane?? Shrink the Field

There’s one way to fix the issue Kyle Busch had Sunday at Las Vegas– shrink the field for races. Even 40 is too much for races, what’s the issue with shrinking it to even 32??

If you hadn’t seen– Kyle Busch wrecked his car when he ran into Garrett Smithley’s bumper during Stage 3 of Sunday’s Cup race. Honestly, you can debate if Kyle should have gone high or low, but the point is that they knew he was running the middle line and Smithley’s spotter assured the 18 team they would move to let him go…and it didn’t happen. I’ll say that I don’t care if Kyle had space high or low– lead-lap cars have preference of line over lapped cars, especially ones like Smithley– WHO BASICALLY STOPPED TO A HALT IN ONE AND TWO— in which Kyle ran into him, ruining his run from two-laps down and possibly salvaging a good finish despite early blunders. After the race, Kyle said some things and here we are.

Now, don’t get it twisted– I dislike Kyle Busch. He has talent, but he’s not my cup of tea thinking that he’s owed anything from everyone. That said, Smithley shouldn’t have been in a spot where he’s in the prime racing line for a lead-lap car. While I enjoyed the Honest Abe Roofing scheme, the fact he was out there just cruising around is indicative of the state of NASCAR in that they don’t care your talent level, you have the money to race– we’ll let you race– shoutout Gray Gaulding and BK Racing.

So what’s the big issues with shrinking the field maximum from 40 to 32?? This way, you actually have some kind of competition for qualifying, you can weed out the teams who are running the Cup series just for the extra money it brings into their pockets because the monetary system in the Xfinity Series is broken (as is the Cup drivers running in those races, but that’s another post for another time), and you can also not have also-rans out there getting in the way of playoff contenders and ruining their day because they didn’t understand what was being said on the radio or just ignoring their spotters altogether.

Plus, this will also make teams more competitive and actually try to make the race rather than falling back on the fact there hasn’t been many maximum entry races and the charter system– which in and of itself is a farce. All these smaller teams that are serious about improving– like Rick Ware Racing– will actually have to improve if they want to make the field rather than just getting because of no one else being around.

Smithley said he was running his line and what-have-you, which is true; but when you’re that far down that late in the race, some kind of decorum is needed for guys who are actually racing for something more than seat time in a Cup car and a bigger paycheck.

Summer Reading: Fanatics, the NHL, and Merchandising Monopolies

2b7ad8e665cb055e1f75b73a67208094

In October of 2016, the NHL had announced that Fanatics would be the exclusive apparel outfitter for the NHL starting in the 2017-18 season and that it was a long-term (16 years) agreement between the two companies. They would pretty much be in charge of everything, aside from the authentic, on-ice gear– which Adidas would be in charge of. After the first year of Fanatics, it’s been something of a roller coaster for them, especially when you look at their first hack at the Stanley Cup champion turnaround gear.

Many Caps fans have been keen to point out the mistakes that were made with their orders from Fanatics following the Caps Stanley Cup win, as well as the timing for their “fast turnaround” for their Conference Championship gear to be sent out. Not only that the integrity of the products have been called into question (check out that whole thread– it’s a riot), as well– which sucks for the amount of money they are charging for it.

It’s almost the old adage of it’s better to get it right than get it first. It’s not just for journalism, but it’s for any facet of life. Benefit of the doubt, though, as it is their first year doing this and Fanatics may not have been prepared for the onslaught of orders they were going to get from the Capitals faithful. But when the selling point of this deal was the “quick turnaround” aspect of Fanatics, this is a major black mark on this 16-year deal.

(Personally– the stuff I’ve gotten hasn’t been off at all that I saw. Fanatics seems to really excel on autographs, plaques, that kind of not-wearable stuff. The shirts are okay and the sizing is somewhat on-point, but nothing to write home about; the hats seem okay, though pricy as hell; and it doesn’t seem like Fanatics likes to do many second-run items on special events– which is something I encountered with a hat I liked, but they told me once they were gone, that’s it. Luckily I did find it elsewhere. Demand does not mean you will get the supply, apparently.)

Fanatics has a monopoly on sporting merchandise, with the NBA, NFL, MLB, MLS, and NASCAR to compliment their NHL deal. However, their customer service leaves something to be desired and their products are….decent, at best. Design wise, many may enjoy that– but the actual put together pieces aren’t anything to write home about when it comes to quality; especially with their price point being what it is. It pretty much kills any competition and despite the low-grade apparel, fans seem to be pretty much stuck with the limited choices out there now because of this deal.

However, when it comes to teams and players– does the deal make sense?? While it’s not known how things are divvied up, it was exposed how the NASCAR deal works out with Fanatics when it comes to teams and drivers. Of course, there’s some kind of different with the travelling side show of NASCAR, the percentages were quite eye-opening when you look at it– especially when you see the cut the driver’s get. Plus, it allows some lower series drivers to actually create merch for their fans to buy, which they’d NEVER get through NASCAR.com or at the tracks through Fanatics. There’s something to say about the folk-hero driver or player.

NASCAR writer Jeff Gluck revealed last summer that Fanatics takes 75% of the revenue from the merchandise they make in NASCAR. Of course, there’s plenty of overhead and travelling costs– but my god– that’s a lot. Teams get 9% of the revenue, with their drivers each getting a percentage of that in their contracts. The sanctioning body of NASCAR as a whole gets 1%. But, the fans hated the experience of the big tents they set up that Fanatics had to totally revamp their “superstore” because people didn’t know about it. However, it’s well known that NASCAR doesn’t have a marketing department because if they did– they’d know how to do justice to their sport and gauge fans interest…but that’s another story for another post.

Obviously, the NHL is probably much different with the league getting a bigger cut and then cutting the teams into that percentage, but with how much they have to dish out– what’s the overhead for Fanatics in different arenas or do they only take from the NHL exclusive events like outdoor games the playoffs?? How much does the NHLPA get a cut for the shirts and replica jerseys sold with their players names on it and are they getting as screwed over as NASCAR drivers have been??

Or will the NHLPA go on the route some NASCAR drivers have by creating their own website to sell merchandise and thus getting a bigger cut of the profit?? Names like Kevin Harvick, Kyle Larson, Clint Bowyer, and Jimmie Johnson have been selling their wears on Driver Direct Apparel, which seems to give a bigger cut to the drivers that they wouldn’t get from Fanatics.

It’s also very much akin to what independent wrestlers do thanks to Pro Wrestling Tees, which has the profits for each wrestler’s merchandise going right to the wrestler. Don’t know if the NHLPA would do something like that– especially since they probably would have to get over the hurdle of getting the rights to use the NHL club logos on their merch– but that’s for bigger people to figure out legalities.

In the end, it was a rough first year for Fanatics. They’ve got 15 more years to go, but they need to learn from their first year mistakes and hope to not make it a second time.

NASCAR Mid-Week Races Will Happen…When You Sacrifice the Summer Weekends


Denny Hamlin had mentioned that NASCAR is thinking of and probably will implement weekday races soon, which is something people have been clamoring about since the ratings and attendances have been down. However, there’s only one way that this works and it isn’t something that current race track owners in ISC are going to like.

NASCAR needs to scrap the schedule from the July Daytona Race until mid-August and runs weekly weekday races…in NON-TRADITIONAL NASCAR MARKETS AND TRACKS. You want to have that “NASCAR is about America and small-time racing” culture– this is how you do it.

At the end of the July Daytona race, drivers will then have their point positions split up with the top-30 being involved in the Summer Shootout Series. The 15 odd numbered positions drivers will go in one loop, the 15 even numbered position drivers in another loop. They will only race for bonus points in the bigger series and they will run at smaller track around America in locations that NASCAR doesn’t travel near or cater to. For instance, the upper Midwest and the Pacific Northwest would have great small tracks for these drivers to race on, get locals a chance to see the top drivers, and give a boost to the local tracks and popularity of NASCAR. Hell, with the gimmick as it is– and how short the races would be– the TV ratings could see a bump, too.

The racing would work as drivers roll in on a Tuesday, practice Tuesday night, then at about 5pm local time, they’ll qualify the 15 drivers; then race for 100 laps. It’ll take maybe an hour tops, but last no longer than two hours. It would give the fans at home a nice compact race to watch, while also seeing drivers a little out of their element and going into their old school mentality of short-track racing again. All killer, no filler– which NASCAR has forgotten about.

Not only would it be great for the small markets and small tracks, but it would give more exposure to the drivers in areas they wouldn’t get exposure, since their racing for bonus points, it will shake up the standings possibly when they all get back together, and it would give drivers, crews, and fans the weekends in the summer to enjoy summer rather than be at the track or in front of the TV– which is probably the reason people aren’t watching now.

Of course, the thing is that NASCAR wouldn’t do it because it’s too smart. Why would you want to move away from the big tracks who only fill maybe 50% of the stands and leave the ratings that are marginal at best for the local tracks that will probably be 90% capacity and the ratings would see a bump because people will be at home after work to watch the race itself happen and know it’ll end at a reasonable hour for them to go to sleep??

This is what needs to be done NASCAR. You need to swallow your pride and realize that the way to get more people into the sport is to get more people into the stands. That’s by going to them rather than them coming to you.

The State of Wazz Address

29512847_10156124527175420_7091578427480438771_n

The State is Maryland….always has been, always will be.

In any case, it’s a new NHL season today since contracts for players only go to July 1st, really screwing over the broadcasters who have to cover this event in Canada on their Independence Day– but that’s the NHL for you. However, with a new year– probably time to give some kind of update about what will happen this upcoming season with regards to blogging, podcasting, and the like. New year, new me, right??

BLOGGING

Okay, so I took some kind of break because there’s not much to write about and there’s only so much John Tavares content people can bear. It’s been a fun time with the Capitals playoff run, but it won’t all be about the Caps and Maryland Black Bears– it’ll be a very heavy influence; but as the season goes on, I’ll get back to all the Tepid Takes and other “feature-esque” work that I’ve done in the past. It may be a little slow in the summer months (as it always is), but it’ll pick up from there I hope.

There’s a possibility I’ll do some minor league stories, but to be honest– I fell out of love with minor league hockey. It was something to try and reinvent myself for a bit and it worked for a while. Then things changed and I lost the passion for it. Maybe the bug will come back, but I really don’t think it’d be the same as it was during the FOHS Farm Report/The Sin Bin time. Interests changes, things happens, and you have to move on from something you’ve lost interest in if it’s completely a by-the-numbers role you’re playing.

There’s an off chance that there could be more NASCAR coverage, so if you’re into that– awesome; if not– that’s cool, too, but don’t get annoyed if it does happen. I mean, I do co-host a NASCAR podcast so….

PODCASTING

There’s not going to be major changes in the substance of the podcasts– let that be known. It’s just a matter for us as a whole to be better with the promoting and things like that. Expect Face Off Hockey Show and The Soderstrom Bubble to be more active promoting things overall. If we want to leave any kind of mark where we can’t be denied about our participation in big NHL events, this is the way to do it. We will hope that you help in that process for promoting stuff you like about our Media Faction. Even if it is talking about our Patreon to others to help offset costs and things like that for the show.

That said, there could be a new Untitled Podcast coming your way from the FOHSMF– that just depends on time, effort, and actually doing it. Stay tuned around early September for a decision on that.

In The Draft Show with Wilson and Wazz will continue on as normal– which I know you’re all happy about. Or not. I really don’t know the feeling about my readers and NASCAR.

OTHER LIFE THINGS

Aside from the whole “try to eat better and workout more” and other usually January 1st resolutions….there’s a project I’ve been collecting things for. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do, but just keep putting off and doubting myself in terms of what the response would be from it. It’s really just a matter of actually doing it– as it goes with most projects– so I’m going to try and be better with actually making that come to life.

And be a little more present in life and actually thriving in the moment. Yeah, it’s zen BS, but it’s my zen BS.

…and that’s what’s up. It’s the update you didn’t know you wanted and probably still don’t care much for. Such as life and it’s an outlook on what you can expect from me this summer and moving forward.

NASCAR: Xfinity Championship Four is What’s Wrong With the Series

NASCAR_Xfinity_Series_logo_2017.png

As we get ready to roll into Championship Week at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the biggest thing shouldn’t be whether or not Martin Truex, Jr. can grab his first title or if Kevin Harvick or Kyle Busch can get their second title or whomever gets into the final spot can pull off an upset– it really should be about how NASCAR needed to make the decision about the lower levels years ago.

If you hadn’t kept up to date with the Xfinity Series– and I can’t blame you if you haven’t– the Championship Four consist of Justin Allgaier, Elliott Sadler, William Byron, and Daniel Hemric. All four of those drivers are Chevy drivers and three of them drive for the same company– JR Motorsports. It’s always fun when a development series has three drivers from the same team in the final– right?? Plus, in all honesty– Byron and Hemric are really the only development drivers of the four in there.

The point is that while Kyle Busch is being a piss-baby about NASCAR changing the rules to REALLY limit Cup drivers coming down and taking seat time from drivers– it needs to be done in order to save a fledgling series and to ensure the Cup Series sticks around. For those saying the Cup Series would never fold– Monster Energy, the new title sponsor, only is around for one more year and is hemming and hauling at an extension. The sport is in bad shape.

It’s of NASCAR’s own doing, though. They allowed Cup drivers to get into lower division seats and take away seat time for guys who could be developing for the Cup Series. NASCAR thought taking away points from those Cup drivers would be a big deal– but it wasn’t about the points. It was about the money and then maybe putting that money into their own teams. Of course, Kyle Busch proved that wrong when he said he’d pull his teams from the series if he personally couldn’t drive in said series.

Guys like Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Brad Keselowski did the right things for the lower series by investing in them thoroughly. Keselowski, sadly, had to shut down his team after the money just wasn’t there in the Camping World Truck Series anymore and it was hidden under the guise of him wanting to be a Cup Series owner. Dale, Jr., however, really had this thing sorted out. That #9 car has been a proving ground guys like Chase Elliott and Byron the past couple seasons, while he’s also had plenty of guys come though his team to help them develop– like Keselowski, Danica Patrick when she made the jump, and lesser known drivers like Shane Huffman and Mark McFarland.

Sure, JR Motorsports did have cars that had Cup drivers in them, but it was only one car– which was designated as such and never took over from one of the four drivers that had every-week spots. Not only that, but JR Motorsports also allowed drivers to try and reclaim their spot in the Cup Series by giving them good cars. You see that now especially with Sadler, Allgaier, and Michael Annett behind the wheel– all former Cup guys looking to get another break in the show.

There are teams out there who have spots for rookie drivers– like Richard Childress Racing has with Hemric, Stewart-Haas Racing has with Cole Custer, and Roush-Fenway Racing has with Ryan Reed– but by and large, it’s Cup drivers taking over seats where younger drivers should be developing– like other RCR cars and the majority of Joe Gibbs Racing’s Xfinity squad.

Not only is it taking away seat time– but it’s taking away sponsorships, as well. It’s already hard enough for young drivers to get noticed when they are in inferior equipment and running against Cup guys in top-of-the-line stuff, but it’s even harder when they have to pay for their seat by getting some sponsorship. It’s hard to get sponsor support when you’re never on TV because you’re only shown wrecking– so a bond and brand can’t be formed. You can say that’s why Roush-Fenway dumped Bubba Wallace.

In the new rules where Cup drivers can only drive in five Xfinity races a season, it actually allows young drivers to develop, it allows drivers to become faces of brands, it allows for fans to see the new faces of NASCAR before they get there….if they get there, rather. In any case, it makes the Xfinity Series stronger in the long run– so long as sponsors believe the vision of what NASCAR is doing and what they should have done years ago to keep the series healthy.

There’s a lot of problems in NASCAR– like….A LOT. But this change is one that is long overdue and probably has set the development of some drivers and teams back a good five years because of the insistence of having Cup drivers go down and steal money and sometimes points away from developing drivers and developing teams.

Darlington: NASCAR’s Winter Classic

2017-Monster-Energy-NASCAR-Cup-Series-Bojangles_-Southern-500-ticket

It’s Darlington weekend coming up in NASCAR, which means the most gimmicky regular season race is happening in full-force. To appeal to the nostalgia crowd, Darlington Speedway decided that since NASCAR moved the Southern 500 back to Labor Day weekend; they would make it a “Throwback Weekend” where drivers and teams alike can really get into the old-time racing attitude and have fun with their paint schemes and their look and really by into that “Good Ol’ Boy” mentality that some think the modern NASCAR has been missing.

While it has been great to see the old paint schemes from yesteryear, the tributes to lesser known racers, the old-time broadcast effects, and the antics that the drivers put on; it’s still getting very, very stale very, very quickly. In fact, a lot of the teams aren’t trying anymore. There’s three cars this Sunday that look like they have the exact same red-white-and-blue scheme (Dale Earnhardt, Jr.Danica PatrickClint Bowyer), the #3 and #31 have just about the same paint scheme, and like always– the #43 is going to have a Richard Petty STP scheme on the track.

The Darlington Weekend is becoming like the NHL’s Winter Classic in some aspects. While the heart is in the right place for a different kind of feel, as it keeps going year-after-year, the whole vibe to the thing wears off. We all know who’s going to be there, you can be assured of what they’ll look like, and while it’s well-hyped– it comes off very “meh” by the end of it.

When the NHL starting doing their annual Winter Classic in 2008 (there was a one-off outdoor game in 2003 which started the wheels in motion for this), it was a great hype vehicle. It allowed for the NHL to go to historic venues of other sports to play their game and get a ton of revenue through ticket sales and merchandise. However, the biggest problem was over-saturating the market when the formula worked. Once they saw the Winter Classic work, they moved to a Stadium Series of multiple outdoor games, the Heritage Classic games in Canada, then when those faded– they started using the teams that people would watch and make the other fans annoyed with a team like the Chicago Blackhawks getting into all the outdoor games.

The NHL lost the plot because they killed a golden goose.

Yes, other markets wanted games, but you can’t blow the wad of outdoor games as quickly as the NHL has seemingly done. Hell, in 2014 alone they had six outdoor games. Last season, the NHL had four outdoor games– but I bet people maybe remember one. Sure, they have gone to places like Wrigley Field, the Big House in Michigan, and Fenway Park; but they’ve also played in BMO Field (Toronto), Investors Group Field (Winnipeg), and Levi’s Stadium.

While this race only happens in Darlington, the drivers and teams are going to the well too many times with the same thing. Not only the Richard Petty STP scheme, but the #13 always going with the Smokey Yunick scheme, and RCR going with some sort of Dale Earnhardt, Sr. scheme. The originality is starting to fade and there’s not much they can do to regulate it– unless they just kill the idea altogether– which they won’t do because then they can’t exploit it.

For this Darlington race, at least, it could be a tool to distract fans from realizing how much NASCAR has bungled this season with the segments, the mismanagement of how points are distributed through said segments, and just the overall lack of hype for the new ideas that NASCAR has tried to instill with their “activation” with Monster Energy. The sanctioning body is a detriment to themselves and the sport. Darlington Weekend is a passing fad that seems to be getting less and less interesting by the year due to the fact we’ve seen it all before and nothing really changes but the looks of the cars.

PODCASTS: FOHS, SB, and ITD

Here’s the weekly dump from me about my podcasts

Face Off Hockey Show: The Jon and Scott show happens where we rambled about people not checking their DMs, the Carolina Hurricanes, and other ramblings.

DOWNLOAD HERE


The Soderstrom Bubble: Jen and I talk about the evolution of hockey equipment through the years. From skates to pads to sticks. We ramble on about it all.

45a0-4675-45ad-a4e3-44345aae219b

DOWNLOAD HERE


In The Draft: Wilson and I talk about the big news about Dale Jr.’s replacement in the 88, what it means for the sports, the recap on New Hampshire and Eldora, plus what domino could be the first to fall in Silly Season.

1200x630bb

DOWNLOAD HERE