Dave’s Free Play, Monday 11/30/15

  • November 30, 2015

It was simply a matter of time.

The never ending expansion of meaningless college football bowl games has now reached the point where there aren’t enough bowl eligible teams to fill out the matchups. That means some schools that weren’t even good enough to win half their games will now be getting a trip to someplace for an extra game.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have any problem with this. I think the only folks who will are going to be those who illogically felt these silly bowl games meant something. Once upon a time, they did, as there was some serious tradition and even if they weren’t actual championship games, they were absolutely huge.

That ended ages ago, and now it’s reached a level of absurdity. If diehards want to still make believe the Rose Bowl is a big deal, go right ahead. But the reality is that it’s now a game between teams that weren’t good enough to make the playoffs, and it’s nothing more than a glamorized consolation game. And that’s the top of the non-playoff bowl game food chain.

My only complaint is that this is more proof the playoffs need to be expanded to eight teams. Going from zero to four was a good start, but now it’s time to take the next step. The argument about extra games cutting into class time, travel issues for schools and fans, and so on has already been rendered as phony.

It’s really simple from where I sit. We’re now past the point of the bowls in general having any real credence. Sorry, but when there aren’t even enough .500 teams to fill the slots and 5-7 schools are now going to “qualify”, it’s time to just say to hell with it, basically give anyone who wants an extra game a spot, and focus on a handful of games that actually matter.

One other note. The rant against the playoff was always the fear that this would reduce the meaning of the regular season to rubble. That was a garbage argument, and in fact we’ve seen that with the playoff now existing, the regular season actually now means more. Expand the field to eight games and it’ll get even more exciting.

My belief is that we’ll see the four-team playoff for only another couple of years. I’d say that by 2018 we’ll see the eight-team version. There’s too many dollars to be garnered for this not to happen, and by the way, it’ll also be more fun.

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Nice job by the officials stealing a win from the Titans, and costing me as well. Bitter? Yeah, absolutely. The stripes flat out blew it on the biggest play of the game and allowed the Raiders a chance to win a game they’d just lost. Couple that with Mike Tomlin’s lunacy throughout the Steelers/Seahawks game and my Sunday ink went from black to red. The college hoops salvaged the day to some extent.

Tonight’s card will feature one college basketball game I’ve already played, and I intend to add the NHL game I’m using as today’s free play. I won’t be involved in the NFL hookup, as I don’t want to lay points with Cleveland and there’s just no way I’m risking my money, or that of my clients, on Matt Schaub. For info on how to receive all my plays along with an iron-clad guarantee that might well be the best in the business, shoot an email my way at cokin@cox.net.

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No beefs with the loser on the Giants, as that was just a good old fashioned wrong side from the outset. I like one NHL game this evening, and that’s my Monday free play.

Note there is no line on this game right now, but I would anticipate the home team being in the -130 neighborhood. If that’s the case, I’ll be on it.

OILERS  at  MAPLE LEAFS

Take: MAPLE LEAFS

It’s debut time tonight in Toronto, as Garret Sparks will make his first NHL start in goal for the Maple Leafs as they host Edmonton.

Sparks has been sizzling on the farm in the AHL. With James Reimer injured and Jonathan Bernier struggling mightily, head coach Mike Babcock doesn’t have much choice but to start the kid. But I see this as blessing in disguise. Toronto had been playing its best hockey in ages till losing their last three, and with Reimer sidelined, they simply can’t afford to rely on the currently hapless Bernier. Better to call the hot minor leaguer up and give him his chance.

Edmonton arrives off a nice upset win at Pittsburgh on Saturday, and that was on the heels of a tough OT loss at Detroit where the Oilers had fought back impressively after falling behind. But this is still a team that’s somewhat shorthanded right now thanks to key injuries, and playing a third road game in four nights looks like a difficult task.

I have always liked the idea of rolling with first time starters. I do it on a regular basis in baseball, and the thought process is similar on the ice. Nerves can always be a concern, but at the same time I feel the pitcher has an advantage going against players who’ve never seem him and might not know how to attack whatever weaknesses exist. Same deal with goalies with the unfamiliarity on the opposition being an asset at the outset. It helps that in this case, I’m banking on a goalie who has been stopping almost everything fired his way wth the Marlies, and I like Sparks to be tough on the Oilers tonight.

The Edmonton goalie is unknown presently. My guess is Anders Nilsson, as he’s simply been more reliable than Cam Talbot. So I’m obviously hoping it’s Talbot. But either way, I want to cast my lot with the Leafs first-timer. Assuming I don’t get priced off the game, I’ll be on Toronto tonight.