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The (Unofficial) NFL Champions

Recently I came across a Wikipedia page for the Unofficial Football (Soccer) World Championship.  I was intrigued so I read on.  The Unofficial Football World Championship started after Scotland beat England in a friendly on April 15, 1967.  Since this was England’s first loss since winning the 1966 World Cup, Scottish fans joked that they were the unofficial World Champions.  In 2003, a freelance journalist took the idea further, writing an article in a magazine and a book.  There is also a website that tracks and maintains the progress.

After reading about this championship I couldn’t help but think: who would be the unofficial champions in some of the North American leagues?  Since the bulk of my interest is with Football and Baseball, I will only track the unofficial champions for those leagues.  To keep things simple, I will start with the NFL.

In order to determine who the champion is, it is first necessary to determine a starting point.  For the NFL, this is easy.  I will start with the 1970 season; the first season after the NFL-AFL merger.  The reason is that until this point, professional football looked much different than it does today.  Formats changed and many teams that competed no longer exist. 

One further side note is that there were two Super Bowls played before the merger.  The reason I have not started with Super Bowl I is that the unofficial champion and the Super Bowl champion is not necessarily the same team.  Since there were two leagues, there would potentially be two unofficial champions thus making for a confusing train of events.

Some final rules are: if the champion ties a game that is considered a push and they retain the title.  When a team defeats the championship team, they become the champion and hold the title until they lose.  Regular season and the playoffs all count but pre-season games do not.

So without further adieu, I present the Unofficial NFL Champion.

Starting Point

The first ever post-merger game occurred on September 18, 1970 between the Los Angeles Rams and the St. Louis Cardinals.  The Rams won the game 34-13 thus becoming the first unofficial champions.  They held the title until week 4 when they lost to the 49ers.  I reckon that Detroit fans will enjoy this championship as the Lions claimed the title in Week 10 with a 28-7 victory and held the title until the playoffs.  The 1970 season finished with the Baltimore Colts as both Unoffical and Super Bowl champs after their victory over Dallas in Super Bowl V.

God decided to put his hatred for Cleveland aside as the Browns became unofficial champions in Week 2 of the 1971 season but the celebration was short lived as they lost it to the Oakland Raiders the next week, marking the shortest reign as unofficial champions.  The Colts regained the title in Week 11 but lost to the patriots in Week 14.  The Patriots did not make the playoffs marking the first time the unofficial and Super Bowl champions were not the same team.

In 1972, teams seemed to play hot potato with the unofficial championship.  It changed hands 10 times over the course of that season, from Week 3 until Week 10 it changed hands every week and no team successfully defended the title twice.  Cincinnati had two reigns and unofficial champs that year as did Cleveland, Kansas City and Pittsburgh.  The LA Rams and Oakland Raiders also held the title for a week each with the eventual unofficial title going to Miami along with the Super Bowl.  A fun fact about 1972: although Miami was undefeated that season, they did not claim the unofficial title until the Super Bowl.

1973 was slightly less eventful.  Miami lost to Oakland in Week 2. Kansas City, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Dallas all enjoyed another reign with the title while Denver and Minnesota took their first titles.  However, Miami got it back with their eventual Super Bowl victory.

1974 saw a quick title change with New England defeating Miami.  Buffalo kept the unofficial title in the AFC East with a Week 6 victory over the Pats and held on until their Week 11 loss to Houston.  Dallas and Oakland also had reigns as champions before the unofficial title went to eventual Super Bowl champion Steelers.

In 1975, the unofficial title made stops in Buffalo, New York with the Giants, St. Louis, Miami and Baltimore before finishing the season back in Pittsburgh.

The Kansas City Chiefs took the title in 1976 with a Week 14 victory over the Cleveland Browns marking only the second time that the unofficial champion did not win the Super Bowl.  The title made stops in Oakland, New England, Detroit, Washington, Dallas, Atlanta and Houston as well.

1977 saw many title changes with a new unofficial champion in each of the first 5 weeks.  Cleveland began their second reign of the year in Week 5 and defended until a loss to Cincinnati in Week 8.  They kept the trend of futility going with a Week 9 loss to Minnesota, who in turn lost the next week to Chicago.  Chicago held the title until the Divisional round when they lost to eventual Super Bowl champion Cowboys.

1978 was the first season with a 16 week schedule.  The unofficial championship however did not make it through to the playoffs as the San Diego Chargers won off of fellow first timers the Seattle Seahawks in Week 15 and then failed to make the playoffs.  The LA Rams, New Orleans, Pittsburgh and Cleveland also held the unofficial title at some point that season.

The Chargers kicked off the 1979 season with three consecutive defences before losing to the Pats in Week 4.  Green Bay captured their first unofficial title in Week 5 and promptly lost it to Atlanta in Week 6.  Oakland, the Jets, Houston and Cleveland had brief reigns as champs before it settled in Seattle after Week 16.  Seattle did not make the playoffs so for the second consecutive year, the Super Bowl and unofficial champions were different teams.

San Diego kicked off the 80s with a Week 1 regaining of the title from Seattle.  Buffalo enjoyed 2 separate regins as unofficial champs.  Baltimore, New England and Atlanta also held the title with the LA Rams becoming champs in Week 16 and taking the title into the playoffs for the first time in 3 years.  The title changed hands 3 time during the playoffs with Dallas winning in the Wild Card round, Philedelphia in the NFC Championship game and Oakland claiming it in the Super Bowl.

In 1981 the San Fransisco 49ers took the title into the playoffs and held on, becoming the first team to hold the title through the entire playoffs.  Before that, the unofficial title changed hands on an almost weekly basis with stops in Denver, Seattle, Oakland, Detroit (x2), Tampa Bay, Kansas City, San Diego and Cincinnati.

The Raiders began their time in Los Angeles with a Week 1 unofficial championship.  They would hold on until aWeek 4 loss to Cincy and then regain from San Diego in Week 9.  In the playoffs, the title went through the Jets and Dolphins before ending up with eventual unofficial and Super Bowl champion Washington Redskins.

The LA Raiders finished the 1983season as both Super Bowl and unofficial champions with their victory in the big game over Washington.  Washington regained the title from Dallas who held it for the first 7 weeks of the season before losing to eventual champion LA Raiders.  Seattle and the St. Louis Cardinals also held the title during the season.

1984 did not see much movement with the unofficial title with LA holding on until a Week 5 loss to Denver.  The Broncos held the title until Week 13 when Seattle became champs.  Kansas City won the championship in Week 15.  The Chief’s week 16 win combined with failure to make the playoffs allowed them to carry the title to the offseason.

In 1985 the unofficial title spent most of the season hanging out in the AFC East.  With the exception of a 1 week reign by the Lions, the Dolphins, Jets and Patriots combined to hold the title for the season after Miami took the title from Kansas City in Week 3.  This held true until the Super Bowl which New England lost to Daaaaaaa Bears.

With their Super Bowl victory in 1986, the Giants regained the unofficial as well as official title.  Minnesota, Cleveland, the Raiders, Eagles and Redskins all held the title at some point in that season.

New Orleans spent a good portion of 1987 as the unofficial champs, winning it initially in Week 5 and then holding the fort from Week 9 until the Wild Card round.  Washington gained the title in the conference championship and finished the season as the unofficial champions to go along with their Super Bowl rings.

1988 was another year where the title changed hands frequently.  In Week 1, the Giants took the title away from Washington, who would get it back in Week 14, but not before San Fransisco, Atlanta, Dallas, and the Rams enjoyed a week with the title.  New Orleans was the most successful of the year holding the unofficial title from Week 5 until Week 9, with the Eagles holding from Week 10 until losing to Washington in Week 14.  Dallas and Philly enjoyed weeks 15 and 16 respectively with the title and the 49ers finished the season as unofficial and Super Bowl champs.

1989 was one of the less common years where the unofficial champion at the end of the season did not make the playoffs.  The Chargers captured the crown in Week 15 but did not make the playoffs so the good people of San Diego could take some comfort in the fact that their team were unofficial champs.  The title spent time in LA with the Rams, Buffalo, Atlanta, San Francisco, Green Bay and Kansas City.

Buffalo spent Week 13 until Week 17 of 1990 with the title when they lost to Washington.  The Bills had a chance to regain the title against the Giants on Super Bowl Sunday but lost to the Giants who retained the unofficial title.  It could be said that the Giants deserved the unofficial title (as well as Super Bowl) as they held the unofficial from Week 2 until Week 12. 

The Redskins managed to win the Super bowl and unofficial title in 1991.  The Saints had a nice run as unofficial champs in 91 and the Chargers nearly pulled their signature move of winning the title and then not making the playoffs.

With the exception of 3 weeks where it was held by Philly, Kansas City and the Rams, 1992 saw the unofficial title held exclusively by the Cowboys and 49ers.  The Cowboys reclaimed in the conference finals and defended through year 3 of the Bills Super Bowl futility.

Dallas repeated as both Super Bowl and unofficial champions in 1993 after winning both from Buffalo on Super Sunday.  Dallas spent a few weeks with the title as did the relocated Phoenix Cardinals, Redskins, Falcons and Oilers.

The Detroit Lions spent much of 1994 as the unofficial champs of the NFL.  A week 17 loss to Miami started a chain of events leading to the winner of the Battle of California Super Bowl being crowned. 

The Washington Redskins finished the 1995 regular season as unofficial champs and failed to make the playoffs.  The Carolina Panthers welcomed themselves to the NFL by holding the title from Week 16 to Week 17.  Detroit had the most successful defences that year with 2.

In 1996, the Cincinnati Bengals pulled out some Week 17 heroics to snatch the title from Indianapolis.  Once again the unofficial champion differed from the Super Bowl champions.

In 1997 the unofficial championship changed hands in every round of the playoffs.  Minnesota, San Francisco and Green Bay each had the title for a week before Denver took it along with the Lombardi trophy.  The Jacksonville Jaguars and Baltimore Ravens each saw their first franchise unofficial titles in this year.

1998 was the closest a team came to carrying the unofficial title throughout the whole season.  Denver held on until their Week 15 loss to the Giants who finished the year as unofficial champs.

The 1999 Colts had a nice run as unofficial champs.  They lost to Buffalo in Week 17 who in addition to losing the Music City Miracle also lost the unofficial title.  If it’s any solace (to Buffalo fans), Tennessee lost the unofficial title along with the Super Bowl on the 1-yard line to the St. Louis Rams.

In 2000, it was Week 17 heroics that once again won the unofficial title.  The Atlanta Falcons finished the year at the top of these arbitrary and unsanctioned standings.

2001 saw what is possibly the earliest crowning of the unofficial champions.  The New England Patriots took the title from the Jets in Week 12.  They never let it go on the way to the franchise’s first Super Bowl.

After holding the unofficial title until Week 4, the Pats relinquished to the San Diego Chargers.  After that it went to Denver and Miami for a week each, Buffalo for a fortnight, back to New England, to Oakland as revenge for the Snow Bowl, back to Miami and finally ended in Minnesota.

2003 was another year that saw the unofficial championship change hands in every round of the playoffs.  The Pakers took it with a Wild Card victory over Seattle, lost it to the Eagles in the Divisional Round and the Panthers took their second unofficial championship on their way to their first official championship game.  They of course lost both to the Pats.

2004 was the least eventful year for the unofficial championship.  It went from the Patriots to the Steelers in Week 8 and then back to the Patriots in the conference championship game.  This was the fewest times the title changed hands in a single season and the fewest number of teams to hold the title during a season.

In 2005, the unofficial championship did not make it out of the regular season.  Seven different teams held it at one point during the season and the only one to successfully defend more than twice was the eventual champion Miami Dolphins.

At the end of 2006 the St. Louis Rams were unofficially the champions of the NFL.  That is all I will say about 2006.

The Patriots won the title off of the Colts in Week 9 of 2007.  They finished the season 16-0.  The Giants won the unofficial championship as well as the Super Bowl in what was possibly the greatest moment in sports ever.

Indy could have had a fairly long streak and taken the title both into and out of the playoffs in 2008 but their inability to win in the post-season (most years) eventually lead to Pittsburgh taking the title.  Cleveland held it for 1 week.  Maybe God doesn’t hate Cleveland after all.

Pittsburgh won the title in Week 15 of the 2009 and then failed to make the playoffs.  Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas and Green Bay also held the title for a period that season.

The Patriots finished the 2010 regular season with the title but lost it to Sexy Rexy and the Jets in the divisional round.  The Jets lost to Pittsburgh and then Pittsburgh to Green Bay in the Super Bowl.  Once again the team that brought the title into the playoffs failed to bring it out.

Week 17 magic struck again in 2011 with San Diego taking it from Oakland.  Oakland took it from Kansas City who took it from Green Bay in Week 15, Green Bay’s only loss of the regular season.  Week 15 was the latest in the season that a team held onto the title.

In Week 3 of 2012 San Diego lost the title to Atlanta.  Atlanta lost it to New Orleans in Week 10, right when they got hot.  They lost it to the even hotter San  Francisco 49ers, who made it all the way to the Super Bowl.  They however did not make it with the unofficial title as they lost it in unlikely fashion to the Rams, who then lost it to the Vikings.  The Vikings won their last two games and made the playoffs with the title.

The fun with the Unofficial Football World Championship is that it is held by a team that although a force to be reckoned with, is not a current title holder.  The current Unofficial Football World Champion is Argentina, who won it from Sweden who won it from North Korea.

The NFL however has given us a rather anti-climactic ending, however given the stats, a not unexpected one.  Some late season upsets nearly lead to a terrible team being considered a championship team in the NFL.  What we have learned through this (and should really have been blatantly obvious) is that if the team who holds the title makes the playoffs, the Super Bowl winner will also be unofficial champions.  Therefore, due to a late season surge by the Vikings which saw them grab a Wild Card spot, the current Unofficial NFL Champions are the defending Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens.

Some Fun Facts

Considering the buzz kill that was the result of this survey, let’s take a few moments to address some fun facts.

Every team has held the title on at least one occasion.  Arizona has not held the title since changing to the Arizona Cardinals.  The longest single run as champion was the Green Bay Packers in 2010-2011.  They won the title along with the super Bowl and held onto it until Week 15. 

No team has ever held the title through the entire season.  Also, no team has entered the playoffs with the title and won the Super Bowl in the same season.

Despite being undefeated in 1972 the Dolphins did not win the unofficial title until the Super Bowl.  The Patriots in 2007 did not win the unofficial crown until Week 9 meaning that across two undefeated seasons, the undefeated team held the title for a combined 7 regular season weeks.

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Access Copyright v. York U

Recently, Access Copyright has filed a claim in the Federal Court against York University.  The claim alleges, in a nutshell, that York allowed unauthorized copies of Access works to be produced despite the fact that York has opted out of the license.  Much has already been written about the effect the Supreme Court’s Copyright Pentology and the expanded definition of Fair Dealing may have on this claim but there are a few other questions that I feel should be addressed both academically and by the courts?  Here they are,in no particular order.

The Effect of the Collective Copyright Sections of the Copyright Act and the jurisdiction of the Federal Court

Collective societies such as Access are given their authority by the Copyright Act.  Since they are creatures of statute, they are limited by that statute. In order to have the authority to do something, that authority must be granted by statute.  The issue with this action is that Access may not even have the ability to bring this action or alternatively, the Court may not have the authority to grant the relief they are seeking.  The second twist here is that the Federal Court itself is a creature of statute and like Access can only exercise the authority expressly granted to it by statute.  In order to even hear a case, the Court must be granted the authority by statute.

So the first question that I hope to answer in the coming weeks (ok I lied. There may be a particular order) is whether Access has pursued this claim through the proper channels and whether Access is entitled to the relief that it seeks.

How Will the Recent Developments in Fair Dealing Effect this Action

As infuriating as it is that Access brought this claim, there is a very obvious bright side: if it goes forward, we will get judicial commentary on the new fair dealing rules relatively quickly.    As the addition of education is new and untested, it will be interesting to see how the Courts will actually apply the new legislation.  Although the Supreme Court did weigh in during the summer, those cases were before the change to the legislation and were not in the post-secondary environment.  The specific facts at play here are sufficiently different that we cannot assume that the recent decisions will be followed exactly. 

Do Collectives Still Offer a Service that the Market Wants to Buy

Is this action actually about enforcing a tariff and representing the best interests of the creators that Access represents? Or is it really about something more?  Maybe what this really is is a last ditch attempt by Access to force an outdated business model on the market.  From a big picture standpoint, this action is really giving the academic and the legal community another opportunity to ask the question of whether collective societies have outlived their usefulness.  Whether stronger IP laws actually encourage innovation is the subject of much academic debate right now.  Maybe its time to ask the question of whether strong collectives are still good for innovation.

These are just a few of the questions that I hope to answer in the coming weeks.    

Some Thoughts on Doping

Although somewhat indirectly,doping in sports seems to have made its way into the media again this week.  Between the Baseball Writers Association of America failing to elect a single new member to Cooperstown and the reports that Lance Armstrong will admit to doping in an interview with Oprah, this is a topic that has been unavoidable this week.  

So what have we learned from this week? Will dopers be forever held out of Cooperstown? Highly unlikely.  Bonds and McGuire will likely get in at some point as new blood trickles into the BBWAA.  Will Lance Armstrong be forgiven? Also highly unlikely.  What we have learned is the true level of ridiculous that the debate on doping has reached.

The Hall of Fame snub has been hashed out by sports writers all week and I do not intend to speak much on the topic in this post.  All I will say is that there are a handful of people, specifically Tim Raines and Jeff Bagwell that deserve to be in the Hall but still are not.  Instead of assuring that these deserving players, who were never linked in any way to doping, were elected, many writers chose to send in blank ballots as a form of protest.  Because of this, no player managed to get the necessary 75% to be enshrined in Copperstown’s hallowed halls.  This “protest” was misguided, uninformed and moronic.  Yes you kept Bonds out of the Hall for another year but at the expense of Tim Raines, a guy who by all metrics deserves to be there.  It is a shame that Raines is not in the Hall.  Arguably more of a shame than if Bonds had been elected.  

Bonds, Clemens and McGuire will be elected in to the Hall at some point.  I have little to no doubt about it.  All three have the stats to support a Hall election.  Bonds and Clemens had Hall of Fame numbers before they were linked to doping and McGuire, aside from having the numbers, drew fans to the game at a time when people were at best indifferent.  People criticize now but did anyone complain in 98 when McGuire was breaking the record? Or did we all start paying attention to baseball again?

Now lets turn to Armstrong.  I want to preface this by saying that I do not fault Armstrong for doping.  The fact that they cannot award those 7 Tour de France titles to someone else because the runners up have also been banned for doping proves that everyone in cycling was doping.  Lance was just better at it than everyone else.  At the end of the day, is not the purpose of competition to reward those who are the best at what they do?  Whether you like it or not, doping was part of cycling during those years and still is.  By stripping Lance of his titles we are not saying that we disprove of doping and that doping will not be tolerated in sports.  We are punishing someone for being the best at their sport.  

Those arguments aside, Lance admitting to doping at this point is possibly just as, if not more ludicrous than the witch hunt that has taken place over the past decade.  If you were going to admit to doping, why now?  Why not 7 years ago when there was still a chance that you could redeem yourself in the public and sporting eye?  Why not before all the lawsuits an investigations?  Why would you subject yourself to that level of scrutiny just to give up the fight and then admit to what you had so adamantly denied for years?  Even if he admits to doping and apologizes it is too late.  He won’t be given back all the titles that he lost.  The public will not forgive and forget.  He won’t be reinstated into the sport.  He won’t get his endorsements back and his reputation will not be repaired overnight.

At the end of the day, nothing has changed.  Alleged dopers will end up in the Hall and Lance will still be shunned from his sport.  The BBWAA has not taken a productive step in the right direction and Lance, if anything will lose even more respect and further damage his reputation.  We need to accept that doping was a part of our sports culture for years, accept that people have cheated in the past and will continue to cheat, and move forward. 

 

Reaction to the (pending) Dickey Trade

It would appear that Alex Anthopolous is finally delivering on what he has promised since taking over as the Blue Jays GM.  After a few years of minimal off season action and a seemingly perpetual state of playing for next season, AA is finally saying that the Jays will compete this season.  He is showing that he is not afraid to flip some of the stockpile of top prospects in the Jays system for top notch, Major League ready players who will make a noticeable difference on the field this coming season.  And it really couldn’t have come at a better time.

The latest reports are that the Jays have agreed to send Travis d’Arnaud, Noah Syndergaard, John Buck and a non-elite prospect to the Mets for reigning NL Cy Young winner R.A Dickey, Josh Thole and a non-elite prospect.  This trade is contingent on the Jays negotiating an extension for Dickey, who would otherwise become a free agent at the end of the season, by Tuesday at 2pm.

So the question is how does this trade look for the Jays?  On first glance, they are giving up two top prospects in exchange for a 38 year old knuckleballer coming off one great season.  It is understandable how a casual fan may not see this as a great deal from the Jays perspective.  On further examination however, this trade makes the Jays a considerably better team and further strengthens the argument that they will be the favourites to win the AL East.  They are not getting a pitcher that is coming off one great season, but rather a pitcher who has been one of the top pitchers in the Majors for the past three years, coming off a season where he finally got recognition as one of the league’s elite arms.  

Saying that Dickey is an aging pitcher who had one great season ignores a number of factors and stats.  Statistically over the past three seasons, Dickey is comparable to pitchers such as David Price, Cole Hamels, Matt Cain, C.C. Sabatiha and Felix Hernandez.  If you were to replace Dickey with any one of those players, there would probably be arguments that the Jays underpaid, and there would certainly be no question that the Jays were favoured to win the AL East.  It should also be noted that Dickey’s numbers over the past three seasons have not seen drastic variance.  He has remained relatively consistent which reduces the likelihood of regression.  At 2.73, his 2012 ERA was the lowest it has been in three years, but not by a wide margin.   In 2010, he posted a 2.84 ERA and in 2011, he posted a 3.28, the highest of the last three seasons, and yet still a respectable number.  His K/9 was considerably higher in 2012 than in previous seasons, an obvious side effect of his considerably  higher number of strike outs.  But this is an overrated statistic that does not tell the whole story.  If we look at some of his other numbers, the prospect of a regression in strike outs is not very troubling at all.  The rise in strike outs corresponds to a drop in ground balls, while fly balls and line rives have remained relatively consistent.  Over the past three seasons, he has had lower fly ball and line drive percentages than Justin Verlander, who is widely considered to be the best pitcher in the game right now, and has had a higher ground ball rate.  The point is, a decrease in strike outs likely results in an increase in ground balls, which often lead to lower pitch counts, do not often result in extra base hits and almost never result in home runs.  His ground ball rate has been in the neighbourhood of Roy Halladay, who had tremendous success pitching in Toronto.  

Moving on to advanced metrics, his ERA- and FIP have been among the best in the majors over the past three seasons, and again have been relatively consistent.  Based on the advanced metrics, Dickey is comparable to David Price, and Matt Cain, who in the past three years have a Cy Young and two World Series rings between them.  His WHIP and LOB% are comparable to Verlander, with Verlander posting a 1.16, 0.92 and 1.06 WHIP compared to Dickey’s 1.19, 1.23 and 1.05. Over the past three years, Dickey has consistently been one of the best in the league at getting betters out.  This past season was not a fluke but rather a continuation of a trend.  The high level of consistency also suggest that between a repeat performance and regression, the former is the more likely outcome.  

There is no way to present the story of what is going to the Mets other than as trading future potential for current success.  d’Arnaud and Syndergaard at the first and third ranked prospects in the Jays system and when we include the earlier Marlins trade, AA has taken a sizable piece out of the Jays farm system.  That being said, he by no means sold the farm.  For pitching prospects, the Jays still have Drew Hutchinson, who although is still recovering from Tommy John has shown that he can handle Major League hitters, number 2 prospect Aaron Sanchez and Daniel Norris.  That list does not include Kyle Drabek who may still become a serviceable 4th or 5th starter.  And lets not forget that Ricky Romero and Brandon Morrow are on the right side of thirty, in their prime and have both shown that they could potentially be front end rotation guys.  

Syndergaard, as good as he projects to be, has yet to pitch in the majors and best case scenario, probably does not pitch any meaningful games in Toronto until 2014.  There are also numerous catching prospects in the system many of whom are expendable.  The most notable of the young catchers is a player by the name of J.P. Arencibia who is a proven Major League catcher.  His one base percentage and average could use some improvement  however his defence is getting better, he has shown that he can handle a pitching staff and he has power.  d’Arnaud proved that he could hit, but this was in hitter friendly Las Vegas and he missed a large portion of last season with a torn knee ligament.  Those result in two big question marks for d’Arnaud and mean that Arencibia probably emerges from Spring Training as the Opening Day starter behind the plate even with d’Arnaud in the system.  

Of course there is the argument that the Jays should substitute Arencibia for d’Arnaud.  Although Arencibia is a good player, with the potential to be an above average big league catcher he is by no means untouchable.  The difference is with Arencibia you get a catcher with two years in the bigs and that you know has the ability to hit in the 20 home run range and drive in anywhere between 70 and 90 runs at that level.  You also know that he can handle being an every day catcher at the big league level.  d’Arnaud may transfer his Triple-A numbers to the Majors, but he may not.  And either way some drop would be expected given that Major League pitchers are considerably better than Triple-A pitchers and the Pacific Coast League is notoriously hitter friendly.  We also do not know how he will handle a big league pitching staff or if he can handle the every day duties behind the plate.  These are a lot of question marks that seem to have tipped the scales in Arencibia’s favour.  Keeping d’Arnaud likely means keeping Buck as well, and paying his entire $6 million salary for 2013, while having him sit on the bench for a good portion of the season.  The other possibility is that Buck is forced into the everyday role, and between Arencibia and Buck, Arencibia is the better choice.

At the end of the day this trade falls into the same category as the Marlins trade that brought in Reyes, Buhrle an Johnson; a trade of long term potential for short term success.  Dickey gives the Jays the front line starter that they need to compete and gives them much needed depth in the rotation, with J.A. Happ and Brett Cecil among others waiting in the wings in the event that one of their starters falters.  Most importantly, this trade is the exclamation point on the statement to fans.  Ownership and management has been saying for years that they Jays are ready to compete in the AL East.  Now the fans can believe them.  I cannot think of a time where I was more excited about the start of a baseball season as I am this year.       

Copyright Reform-Are We Seeing a move into the 21st Century?

The Republican Study Committee in the US recently put out a brief report that outlines a few myths about copyright and proposes some suggestions to fix the law.  Unfortunately, it has since been removed and now we must wait in order to see what, if anything, will come as a result.  Here is the link to the since removed report.

http://ia601204.us.archive.org/0/items/RscThreeMythsAboutCopyrightLaw/rsc_policy_brief_–_three_myths_about_copyright_law_and_where_to_start_to_fix_it_–_november_16_2012.pdf

Despite the fact that it has been taken down the fact that it was authored is a breath of fresh air.  Does this means that governments are finally starting to realize what academics have been saying for years? Does this mean that people in power are realizing that strong copyright laws only serve the interests of big corporations and content producers at the expense of the general population? Although the report is not perfect and I am sure will be criticized by big business and examined at length by academics there is one very important part that it gets right. The purpose of copyright is to encourage innovation and creation and current copyright law is not an effective way to accomplish this goal.  Although this report is based on American copyright law, Canadian copyright law is based on the same basic principle.

Recently in Canada, changes to the Copyright Act came into effect.  Among other things, these changes have expanded the definition of Fair Dealing and have created new possibilities for user generated content.  If anything is to come of this report, it could be the next step in governments finally revising copyright regimes to suit the 21st Century.  Although it does not seem like much, we might be seeing the beginning of a return to the ideals of the Founding Fathers and an effective copyright regime that encourages creation and innovation.  Society will be better for it.

The NBA Gains a Fan

The fact that I am now writing a sports blog does not surprise me.  It’s something I have wanted to do for a while now but just never got around to starting.  But now the planets have aligned in just the right way and here is my first post.  My goal is to have it read by at least one person.  I know that’s not exactly aiming high, but I figure that it is unlikely that my blog, like so many of the sports teams I will be writing about, will disappoint me.

What is coming as a shock to me is that my first ever sports blog is about basketball.  Of the Big North American 4, it is the only one that I do not follow with any sort of regularity.  I can’t name many of the players other than the most popular ones and I have been to the same number of NBA games as I have English Premier League games.

However with the NHL lockout apparently digging in for the long haul and my patience for the players, owners and game in general wearing very thin I felt that it was time to find another sport to fill the void.  Many sports writers last year seemed to fill their basketball void with hockey to some success, so I figure it should work the same the other way around.  So now I need to pick a team.  Although I do have an obvious home town choice, that hasn’t exactly worked out so well in other sports. (I am from Toronto. The Leafs and Jays have been terrible and it’s been nearly 8 years since either has played a post season game. There are only so many non-playoff teams I can cheer for).  So with no allegiance to any team, let the picking begin.

This should also provide an interesting topic to blog about.  As I learn more about the sport, and increase the frequency with which I blog, I should be able to increase at very least to quality of my basketball posts.  Might also be interesting to track my progress from casual observer to fan throughout the season.

In order to pick my team, I have devised a completely arbitrary and equally ridiculous process of elimination.  Some teams will meet more than one of the criteria and some may conflict with each other.  One will outweigh the other and as with the criteria themselves, which is which will be completely arbitrary.

I’ll start by eliminating what I will refer to as “hype teams.”  These are the teams that get all the hype and media attention.  Two teams fall into this category: the Los Angeles Lakers and the Miami Heat.  In a way I’m shooting myself in the foot.  I have carte blanche to pick a new team in a new sport and I am arbitrarily choosing to eliminate the (arguably) two best teams in the league.

Next will be the “bandwagon teams.”  These are teams that have one or two big name players so for that reason are eliminated. The obvious choice here would be Blake Griffin and his Los Angeles Clippers.  I’m also going to place the Knicks and the Rockets in this category.  The Rockets because of Jeremy Lin and the Knicks because of… well almost every player on their roster.

Next will be all the teams that really have no hope in hell of making any sort of run at the playoffs.  Since I do not have a great deal of basketball knowledge, I will base this elimination solely on teams that did not make the playoffs last year.  This eliminates the Bucks, Pistons, Raptors, Nets, Cavs, Wizards, Bobcats, Suns, Trail Blazers, Timber Wolves, Warriors, Kings and Hornets.

There seem to be certain teams that, although they made the playoffs last year are not in a great position to make a run this year.  I am basing this solely on what I have heard on various podcasts and other sports articles.  This category claims the Celtics and the Magic.  Even if the argument can be made that the Celtics do not belong in this category they are eliminated by my general dislike for Boston sports teams.  I can’t bring myself to cheer for a team from Boston in any other sport and I don’t think that basketball will be any different.  I’m sure Celtic fans will not mind.

In a rather logical move, I am going to eliminate teams that I know very little about and am therefore concluding that they are not terribly exciting to watch.  These teams are the Nuggets, 76ers, Pacers, Jazz, Hawks and Wizards.  Although I have read a blog that claims that 3 of these teams are among the 5 most exciting teams with a shot of winning, all 3 are West Coast teams, meaning I will have the opportunity to watch very few teams.

So that leaves the Spurs, Mavricks, Bulls, Thunder and Grizzlies.  The Grizzlies were at one point a Canadian team so I am awarding them an arbitrary point.  The Grizzlies are also a team that has seemed to quietly put together a few great seasons recently and always seem to be at or near the top of pre-season Power Rankings.  They strike me as a bit of an underdog.  Same with the Thunder.  They also get some credit for being the only major pro sports team in their state and I think it would be neat to see a major sports title go to Oklahoma.  They also have made a questionable off season trade recently which gives them something in common with most of my other sports teams.

The Mavs get points because of my general liking of Mark Cuban.  Actually I am going to go so far as to say that I greatly like Cuban and this give the Mavs a person, albeit the owner, that I enjoy watching.  The Spurs seem like they could be an exciting team to watch.  The fact that they share a nickname with my English Premier League team does not work in their favour, but I’ll let it slide…For now.

At the end of the day I have no way to narrow this list down any further.  I am a little disappointed with myself but at the same time I can see a bright side.  This will give me something to watch and follow over the first couple of weeks of the NBA season.  I’m sure that one of those 5 teams will do something to suggest that their bandwagon is the bandwagon on which I should jump.

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