Tuesday, March 11, 2008

And that's my cue.......

I was waiting for an adequate amount of time to pass before my next post for a couple of reasons: one being that Diesel's preseason round table post is a tough act to follow, and the other being that I wanted to afford the blog-viewing public ample time to soak in the awesomeness of that monster of an entry.

Self-imposed moment-of-silence over.

So, what to talk about? It is kind of a weird time in the sportsworld right now, where one is more excited about what is about to happen than what has actually occurred. On one hand, Major League Baseball is bereft of any current major news outside of the Rolen deal, Randy Moss's domestic violence case has been dropped (but we all knew that he was innocent, anyway), Shaq continues to drag the Suns back to earth, the ASU baseball program is riddled with cheaters, and the great, Santa-booing town of Philadelphia has picked up an MLS franchise. Meh. Actually, there is one among us who is actually pretty amped about this.

On the other hand, Selection Sunday looms (please, oh, please, let Arizona be among the 64), the F1 season approaches*, and UEFA Champion's League action is heating up. I'm throwing-in with Roma, by the way, because if they don't win, I'll have to keep Diesel from cutting himself. He's pretty damn committed to the Giallorossi, and I am really only a casual Liverpool fan (although they look really, really good right now). Let's just hope that the lupi don't play Manchester United again.

P.S. ESPN has ditched Sean Salisbury whilst simultaneously making an effort to bring back Battlebots! W00T! This is teh l33t shizNiT!

*= I know that no one cares, but good God almighty is it an exciting time to be an F1 follower. The talent level (both driver and technical) is at an all time high in a season that will be the most challenging in recent memory (the loss of traction control is a biiiiiiiiig deal). In other words, F1 has created the perfect opportunity for drivers to showcase their talent, and there will be no lack of it this year. For all the (well-deserved) critique/hysteria that the organization has received/ created, the sport has somehow managed to revive in spectacular fashion. The teams are incredibly balanced, diverse, and well-equipped, and someone other than Ferrari, McLaren, or Renault has a genuine shot at winning the constructor's cup this year. Gheeeeeeee!


b said...

Big C – I’ve been meaning to ask you about F1 for some time now. I’m very novice in my knowledge and fandom, but I’ve always found F1 to be, at the very least, interesting, because of the courses and the fact that the world’s best manufacturors go head to head. Nascar bores the crap out of me. That’s like watching 737s race (and only turn left), while F1 was more like going to an air show. I always thought that F1 was fun to watch, if I happened to be flipping across a channel it was on at my convenience, but one of the odder moments was when I was in Spain and the Spanish driver won his first grand prix and la gente went nuts.

Without sounding too much like people who constantly ask me this question with soccer, but why is F1 so popular worldwide and not so much here? To me, F1 seems like the most American form of sport - capitalism + prestige + money = supreme competition - whereas I cannot fathom Nascar’s popularity in the least. I know F1 didn’t get off to a good start here, and that we generally dislike events that take place outside of our time zone, but F1 seems to be a real gear-head and engineers’ league. Maybe I just answered my own question - Euros are more interested in the finer parts of automobiles, while we tend to like our muscle cars. Is it an offshoot of the problem that Chevy and Ford can’t compete with Ferrari and BMW? And why is there so much griping in F1? I bet the reasoning is similar to what makes soccer popular, but I figure I’d get the ball rolling here. I have many questions.


Big C said...

Wow. That is, a lot of questions. Good ones, though.

The short-form answer(s): F1 isn't so popular here (it is gaining increasing popularity, though, and American owners/companies figure quite prominently in the sport) because the American racing market is saturated with a myriad of other (some of them quite decent) forms of racing. To wit:

-NHRA (drag racing, me likey)
-NASCAR (the exception to the rule, booooooring)
-IRL (Danica Patrick and company)
-CHAMP Car (the other Indy car league, more internationally-minded)
-Sprint racing (those funky little cars with the huge top wings that drift on dirt tracks)
-Monster trucks (not really racing, but entertaining as hell)
-Baja 500, motocross racing, etc, etc......

Indeed, as far as auto racing is concerned, America really is the sport's Mecca in terms of diversity and total fan base/money. When you add the popularity and revenue from all of the United State's racing entities, Europe pales in comparison. Really about the only, things that Europe really has on us are F1 (as opposed to IRL/Champ Car) and the WRC (rally cars, also very cool).

So, the theme here is focus versus diffusion. When all you have is F1 and rally car, you're going to get a high percentage of attention form the available fanbase. Give them (Europe and Asia) drag racing, monster trucks, motocross, stock car racing, etc., and F1 and WRC are bound to lose market share. I actually feel the same way about soccer, but that's a whole other can of worms.

And let's get one thing straight about NASCAR. It is a well-known fact that it is not my cup of tea, but that is not to say that it isn't an incredibly well-run and superbly marketed product. I don't really understand it either, but some people just like watching paint dry. The soap opera-esque drama and clever product placement have supplanted the fact that all of the goddamned cars are the fucking same, old, pushrod/carburetor technology clunkers in the average Joe Sixpack's mind. To me, it is a shame that when people think American racing, they think NASCAR, but whatever.

You are absolutely right in that F1is the racing form for the technically-minded. This is what draws me to the sport, for sure. F1 really does embody almost everything that a racing league should be (not the draconian bureaucracy part, though) as it emphasizes technical merit and driver performance (unlike NASCAR, which only does the latter) while pushing each to its limits. A surprising number of Americans know this, and if they only had a few more races here (Indy is by far the most boring track on the schedule, btw, why not Watkins Glen, or Laguna Seca?), it would catch on more. It is important to remember that if F1 is being avoided by Americans, it is because F1 has largely avoided America, most likely because it knows that it will not be the only show in town, as is the case in Europe. But this is a mistake, in my mind; there should always be room for racing's purest form! But F1 needs to give America a chance to love her. Until then, fanboys like myself will just have to admire from afar.

The Ford/Chevy versus Ferrari/BMW thing is a whole different ball of wax, and the most intriguing and nuanced one of all. Again, the theme is focus. I could get really deep into this, but to keep this reply under a million words, I'll just say that Ford and Chevy (don't forget Toyota!!!) could bury the others if they wanted to. (Side note: GM owns 10% of Fiat, which owns Ferrari, and there was a time when Ford dominated F1 (70's).) Remember that just because Ford made the Pinto, it does not mean that they are not capable of making the GT-40. With the money, resources, and engineering talent that those two things breed/attract, their potential is virtually infinite. For an example of a company that makes shit consumer cars and wins manufacturer's cups in F1, see Renault circa 2006. So, the question is not whether or not they can compete, it is why in the hell they don't want to compete. I have no idea.

The last question is easy: They bitch because they are European. Italians are involved, end of story.

Big C said...

Forgive the poor grammar: that first line should read: 'Those are a lot of questions!'

b said...

Wow, thoughtful discussion – on Formula One of all things. TGWNA really is growing up, and out. I hadn't really thought of the oversaturation factor as to why F1's popularity here is limited - not only is F1 competing vs. many sports, it's competing against many kinds of sports in its own genre. That'd be like Australian Rules Football or Hurling trying to break into the US. The parallels between F1 and soccer are so many, we could actually devote an entire show to them!