Friday Fodder: NHL saying Viva Las Vegas? | NevadaAppeal.com

Friday Fodder: NHL saying Viva Las Vegas?

Joe Santoro
For the Nevada Appeal

Sports fodder for a Friday morning … Could Las Vegas support an NHL franchise? Of course it could. All it needs to do is cover the arena with a ton of neon, let two dozen showgirls and a dozen fat guys dressed like Elvis walk around the concourse and offer a free buffet between periods and the place would sell out. Las Vegas, Seattle and Quebec appear to be the frontrunners to join the NHL for the 2016-17 season. Yes, of course, nobody in Las Vegas knows anything about the NHL but all the NHL cares about is the $500 million franchise fee it would collect. Hockey could definitely work in Las Vegas. It would just be Siegfried and Roy on ice with a little boxing and mixed martial arts thrown in for flavor. But would anyone in Nevada north of Beatty care about an NHL team in Las Vegas? Doubtful. It would help instill some state pride if the NHL would call the team Nevada instead of Las Vegas but that would require the good folks down in Las Vegas to finally realize they are located in Nevada. And, plus, the Nevada Wolf Pack would probably sue for using the name Nevada.

•••

The Wolf Pack football team should be at least 6-2 overall and 4-0 in the Mountain West heading into its final four games starting Nov. 5 at Fresno State. The Wolf Pack’s first Mountain West division title will come down to road games in November at Fresno State, Utah State and San Diego State. Two victories in those three road games (as well as a rout over San Jose State at home on Nov. 14) should be enough for the Pack to win a weak West Division. No team in the West Division last year, after all, won as many as eight games. The Pack might be the only one to do it this year. Winning games in November and later, though, hasn’t been a Wolf Pack strong suit in recent years. Since 2010, the Pack is 6-12 in games after Oct. 31. That’s a trend that has to come to an end for the Wolf Pack to show any real progress and not simply some more Brian Polian Propaganda.

•••

How do you keep Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers out of the All-Star game? Well, one way is to allow the San Francisco Giants manager (Bruce Bochy) to pick the pitching staff. That Giants-Dodgers rivalry is real, folks. Bochy, though, should have picked all Dodger pitchers for the All-Star game and ruined their arms. Hey, what’s more important? An All-Star Game or the National League West title? Kershaw, who still might be an All-Star via a fan’s internet vote, was the biggest All-Star snub this year. The dumbest pick was Kansas City manager Ned Yost’s selection of Brock Holt of the Boston Red Sox to the American League team. Yost picked the roster (two Royals set-up relievers and one from the Baltimore Orioles are on the team) as if he had to play a 162-game schedule. The All-Star game is supposed to be a showcase of the game’s most exciting players. It should be for the fans. Nobody wants to see Brock Holt play.

•••

Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder A.J. Pollock became the first former Reno Aces non-pitcher to make a major league All-Star roster this month. Pitchers Wade Miley and Ryan Cook are the only other Aces players (not including major leaguers on rehab assignments) to become major league All-Stars. Pollock hit .318 for the Aces in 2012 with three homers and 52 RBI. He already has 11 homers for the Diamondbacks this year. He was drafted by the Diamondbacks in the first round out of Notre Dame in 2009, eight picks ahead of where the Los Angeles Angels picked New Jersey high school outfielder Mike Trout. That Pollock pick isn’t so embarrassing now.

•••

The NBA world is amazed by DeAndre Jordan returning to the Los Angeles Clippers for $88 million over four years. Jordan reportedly agreed to a four-year, $80 million deal with the Dallas Mavericks but then changed his mind and went back to his former team. Who can blame Jordan for returning to Los Angeles? He will make more money with the Clips and have no pressure other than to simply continue to rebound and block shots and make an occasional lay-up (certainly no free throws or jumpers). With Dallas he would have been joining an aging, thin roster where he would have been counted on to lead the team with a broken down Dirk Nowitzki. The Clippers are the kings of Los Angeles right now while the Mavericks are just the third best team in the state of Texas.

•••

Jordan leaving the Mavericks at the altar is nothing new in basketball. All he did, after all, was give Dallas a verbal agreement. High school players ignore their verbal agreements all the time and sign with another college team at the last minute. It’s not rare for good high school players to play with two or three different high schools. And don’t talk about player loyalty and how they should honor their word. Organizations lie to players all the time. Organizations treat players as if they are merely good or bad contracts to be moved in and out. Just ask Luke Ridnour, who was recently traded four times in a little more than a week, was ultimately released and is now out of a job. So why is it evil for a player to lie to an organization, even if he does it to simply squeeze more money out of his former team?

•••

Which baseball teams should throw in the towel and sell off their valuable assets before the trade deadline later this month? The Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, Oakland A’s, Seattle Mariners, Miami Marlins, Philadelphia Phillies, Cincinnati Reds, San Diego Padres and Colorado Rockies come quickly to mind. The Padres and White Sox have been the most disappointing teams this year. Both had active off-seasons, adding numerous new parts. And, well, all that optimism couldn’t even get them to the All-Star break. The Padres already fired their manager (Bud Black) and the White Sox should do the same (Robin Ventura).

•••

The Home Run Derby at this month’s baseball All-Star Game could teach the NBA’s Slam Dunk Contest a lesson in marketing. Baseball still sends some of its top sluggers to its Home Run Derby. Joc Pederson, Kris Bryant, Manny Machado, Josh Donaldson, Todd Frazier, Anthony Rizzo, Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder will all take part. Donaldson, Rizzo, Bryant and Pederson all played at Aces Ballpark in recent years. The NBA gave us Zach LaVine, Victor Oladipo, Mason Plumleee and Giannis Antetokounmpo in the Slam Dunk fiasco this past winter. Nobody even knows which team any of those guys plays for. If baseball gave us nobodies in the Home Run Derby like LaVine, Oladipo, Plumlee and Antetokounmpo, the sport would never live it down. ESPN would do a 10-part series about the decline of the former national pastime.