Seemingly out of the blue — at least it wasn’t anywhere near our radar — the NBA announced it will test out a 44-minute game when the Celtics and Nets meet in the preseason Sunday.
Both head coaches sound like they’re on board, and the experiment in general comes on the heels of coaches telling the league they want to find ways to tighten up games.
On one hand, this is certainly intriguing. Any league willing to look at ways to improve pace of play is smart, and if the likelihood is that the bulk of the minutes in a shorter game would get taken away from the reserves, there wouldn’t seem to be much of a quality sacrifice.
On the other hand, we’ve never really thought NBA games were too long. Each team is afforded too many timeouts, so squeezing those would be a way to increase the pace, but most games clock in at 2 hours, 30 minutes or less — certainly reasonable. Playoff games take longer, but playoff games are awesome. Also, it’s strange to think of the impact on statistical comparisons between eras — akin to baseball, when it went from 154 games to 162.
Finally, 11 minutes seems downright weird. Either go all the way to 10 minutes — 40 minute games, same as the NCAA and international play — or leave it the way it is.
Sunday’s preseason game is merely an experiment and no changes are imminent. If you want to see what 11-minute quarters look like, the game is being shown on NBA TV. We bet it looks like a regular game, only shorter.
Lead announcer Mike Goldberg ham-handed his way through Sunday’s Vikings-Lions broadcast on FOX, then sparred with fans on Twitter afterward.
Goldberg was scheduled to call the Vikings-Bills game this Sunday in Buffalo, but has been removed from the crew. Tim Brando will replace him. Brendon Ayanbadejo, who also worked with Goldberg for the Vikings-Lions game, remains the analyst.
Ayanbadejo was certainly no wordsmith at Sunday’s game, but it’s likely that Goldberg’s crime, in Fox’s eyes, was his unprofessional behavior on Twitter.
Goldberg is the former TV play-by-play guy for the Wild, and made his name nationally calling UFC.
It’s not hard to listen to comments from Terry Ryan and Dave St. Peter in two different venues — a recent conference call with season ticket holders, and again in interviews with the Star Tribune’s Phil Miller — and reach this conclusion: 2015 will be more of the same from the Twins, by design.
Or, in perhaps more flattering terms: the Twins are going to hope that 2015 is the kind of year they had hoped 2014 would be, and they are a year behind schedule in their rebuild because of injuries to key minor league players and the underperformance of players on the major league club.
How else would one react to quotes from Ryan such as these?
“I don’t want to punt on 2015, but it’s still going to be a struggle.”
“Sometimes you make decisions that ultimately are going to benefit you down the line that don’t look exactly like what you want right now.”
The Twins have decided they aren’t going to budge much on payroll from 2014 to 2015, meaning it again will be around $85 million and that almost all of it is already tied up in existing players. We don’t necessarily think this is a bad idea, but let’s be clear: this is a choice, and an artificial spending cap. If the Twins wanted to spend more, they certainly could (remember, 2014 was the start of a major bump in national TV revenue for all MLB clubs).
Ryan is right when he says spending foolishly could set the club back even further (at least if they guessed wrong on big-ticket, long-term deals). He is also right when he notes that teams can be competitive with payrolls comparable to what the Twins project to have next season.
But what it adds up to is a season of hoping, not realistically expecting, that things will not devolve into a fifth consecutive 90-loss season. There were good signs last season, particularly with young hitters and Phil Hughes, but without the influx of more established players via free agency, Minnesota will be banking on two guys who will make up between 40-45 percent of the payroll combined (Joe Mauer and Ricky Nolasco) to live up to their contracts and for other young players to make meaningful contributions (while the ones who made strides this year avoid a step back, which is easier said than done).
Before Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano and others essentially lost the 2014 season, we imagine the Twins’ blueprint was something like this: ride improved pitching and young hitting to a .500 record in 2014, get onto the fringe of contention in 2015 and then really make a run in 2016 and beyond. Now we have to imagine .500 is the goal next year, and we can clearly see the Twins don’t intend to try to spend their way to a few more victories.
It’s not right or wrong, but it is the choice they have made.