The Final Word – NASCAR vs Baseball – the battle of the playoffsBy Ron Thornton
One contest was missing a star performer, as Dale Earnhardt Jr sat one out due to his concussion. The other saw Derek Jeter leave the field due to a fractured ankle. One saw Brad Keselowski surrender a chance to win to pick up fuel; the other had Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano, and Curtis Granderson unable to win as they were discovered to have no gas in their tanks thus far in the playoffs. One was exciting, with the outcome in doubt to the end, the other was a race in Charlotte.
Yet, to be fair, the long expected outcome did not materialize in North Carolina. After watching Brad, Jimmie Johnson, and Denny Hamlin pretty much represent the boys up front all day, it was Clint Bowyer who wound up with the sticky shower as he picked up his third win of the season. Once again fuel mileage decided this one, and thank goodness it did. While no one ran out of gas to get their hearts broken, the possibility was there and the outcome was in doubt. In fact, even the winner proved to have little to spare, with Clint having to walk to his post-race celebration and his car needed a push to get there. In a way it was like Sunday’s ball game in San Francisco, where St. Louis went up 6-0 to seemingly have a lock on things, only to see the Giants storm back with four of their own to put it in doubt. The one difference is that while San Francisco held on to win, Keselowski did not.
I have not seen the ratings from Saturday night, but I would be interested as to how the race fared against the baseball playoffs. The boys on the diamond featured some action that had folks talking about what they had seen after the lights went out. I’m not so sure they were doing the same after the race. I loved Talladega, some did not see it was real racing. Charlotte bored me, yet some might think it was just dandy. Maybe it comes down to taste. I can’t stand watching basketball or soccer, yet others love those sports. Maybe it is just me. Then again, the television ratings these past few years seem to suggest I am not alone.
Other than Junior’s injury, there does not seem to be many story lines here. The new rides for Regan Smith, Kurt Busch, and A.J. Allmendinger were noted, but not exactly riding the heights as a trio of Yankee stars batting a combined .101 between them in the post-season. Of course, there is also Jeter’s injury, the brutal performance collapse of a Detroit reliever, the performance of older gentlemen named Ichiro or Ibanez, or a team losing the face of the franchise during the off-season only to contend once again for the championship. In NASCAR, we have Keselowski on top, now seven points ahead of the former five-time champion, and 15 ahead of Hamlin. Until such time as Keselowski does something akin to a crash and burn, at least enough to allow his challengers to catch up, that is how it will remain over the next five weeks. In a world with no distractions that might work, but unless you are a racing fanatic that is not the way things are.
This Sunday, the action moves to Kansas where Bowyer would love to win one at the track just a 90 minute drive from his hometown. Even so, he remains in fourth, 28 points out of the hunt. At present, our sole purpose in watching will be to see if Keselowski has enough of a problem to allow Jimmie or Denny to move up. If that is not enough for you, there is always the chance that there will be a ball game on at the same time.
As I think about it, I think if NASCAR had changed up its points system first, they might not have even needed a Chase. Today’s points system is more forgiving over the long haul than the old one, but brutal for those who stumble over the short run. If they had reversed how they had done things, and forgot the whole Chase concept, Johnson would be leading the standings by 9 over Keselowski and 16 over Greg Biffle. It might even be a reason to turn on the boob tube to catch the action. Let me know what you think..