Leave The Gimmicks To Others

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Have you seen what the NFL is talking about doing? They are seriously considering moving the spot of the ball for the extra-point, from the two-yard line back to the twenty-five. The reasoning is that the extra-point has become almost automatic and this will put some excitement into the game. This is clearly a case of trying to fix something that isn’t broken. Why do they always feel the need to change something for change sake?

Most know that I absolutely abhor change, especially when there is no need for it. I have always lived by the mantra that change is bad. When things are genuinely improved, I’ll jump on board. Clearly, the iPhone 5 was a vast improvement over the antiquated model I owned. I made the move two days after they came out and loved it. So don’t think I’m a total curmudgeon that longs for the days when the 8-track will regain its popularity. By the way…can anyone tell me why vinyl records are making a comeback? I haven’t missed warped records that scratch, hiss and make it tough to find a particular track. But for whatever reason – records are once again soaring in popularity.

NASCAR has made drastic changes (again) to their “Chase for the Sprint Cup”. The manufactured drama of their version of playoffs has always seemed contrived to me, since it was first introduced for the 2004 season. Now it just seems absurd. Under the new format, sixteen drivers will make the chase. Then after every third race, the lowest ranked four drivers are eliminated until there are only four drivers left entering the final race. Then, the points are reset where the final four drivers are even. Whichever of the remaining four drivers has the best finish in the season-finale at Homestead will win the championship.

Although it seems to contain a lot of artificial drama – I don’t have a huge problem with the new format until it gets down to that last race. Then, everything has the potential to go terribly wrong and unfair. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. has rabid fans. As of right now, Dale, Jr. is the early Sprint Cup points leader, after a win at Daytona and a second-place finish at Phoenix. Let’s say Earnhardt continues to have a strong season and leads the points from February through the season-finale at Homestead. To even further demonstrate the point, let’s assume he wins the pole for the final race. After a completely dominating season, he gets caught up in someone else’s accident and stuffs his car into the wall. Suddenly, after leading the points wire to wire for nine months – Earnhardt finishes fourth in the championship. How excited do you think Junior Nation will be?

So often, sports entities decide that something needs to be tweaked or revamped when it really doesn’t. It’s just change for the sake of change.

All of us have had various complaints about the IndyCar Series over the years. It seems those complaints have grown louder over the past few months. They have made some unnecessary rule changes and done unneeded makeovers, like the proposed changes to the qualification format for this year’s Indianapolis 500. It can drive an anti-change person like me through the wall.

But I will take my hat off to the powers-that-be in IndyCar when it comes to the championship point-system – they have wisely left it alone for the most part. The only change they have made recently was adding a bonus point per race to a driver for leading at least one lap in a race. Winning the pole is worth another point and leading the most laps in a race is worth two points. Winning the race is worth fifty points, placing second will net you forty points, third earns thirty-five points and it continues to decrease down to twenty-fifth position paying only five points. Anything lower than that, still pays five points.

It sounds pretty simple, but it has worked to perfection over the years. In fact, the last time that the IndyCar championship did not go down to the final race was in 2004, when Tony Kanaan wrapped up the title at Fontana with a race still to run at Texas. Last year marked the ninth straight season that the championship went to the final race. Those nine years have produced some unbelievable moments in the season finale.

While almost every sport makes tweaks to make their sport more exciting for their fans, IndyCar has no reason to change their point structure. To their credit, they haven’t.

There are things about IndyCar that even a person like me who despises change, will admit need to be made in order to improve things. Thankfully, they have chosen to not adopt gimmicks and massive rule changes for their on-track product. A “chase” is probably the last thing that IndyCar needs. Hopefully, those in charge on 16th Street across from The Speedway will always realize this and not follow the lead of NASCAR and the NFL in making ridiculous and unnecessary changes. Change is bad!

George Phillips

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13 Responses to “Leave The Gimmicks To Others”

  1. Yes George, I can tell you why “records” are making a comeback: in the digital age transferring music recorded onto Master tapes to the digital format of CDs and such (think anything recorded before 1985 basically) has predominantly resulted in that older music sounding crystal clear (due to the expanse of frequencies in the digital world) yet harsh in many ways, especially in the “high-end” (or treble) frequencies while exposing little “mistakes” or inconsistencies in the actual performances or recording on the Master tapes. Add to that the fact that many pop, country and rock producers in the past twenty years or so have learned to “squeeze” new recorded music into a certain “band” of frequencies so the music “jumps out” of your listening device, yet because of this technique the music today is not coming out of your speakers as “Hi-Fi” as the music did “back in the day.” Audiophiles (folks who LOVE recorded music) have been complaining about this almost since the inception of CDs as they believe (as do I) that the old format of “LPs” (albums) & “Singles” (45 rpm two-song records) have a natural “warmth” to them (especially at the bottom-end, or “bass,” while smoothing out the highs) that has been missing lo, these twenty-five years or so. Vinyl has never gone away totally, but in the past couple of years it has really seen an increase in the numbers of artists insisting on their recordings being released on vinyl as well as in digital media.

    Here’s a good example: I am a Beatles freak, and my favorite song of theirs is She Loves You. When the CD of it came out in 1984 I was shocked to hear that my song was actually a combination of four different “splices” taken from two or three different “takes” of the song in the studio. One can actually hear it on CD where the splices are! I was outraged! I have been listening to that piece of music since it came out in the US in 1964 and never heard those splices and cuts before, and it was incredible to me; I hated it! See, all those years the vinyl had smoothed-over and masked those sharp splice noises and we as fans were none the wiser. That harshness is just one reason why vinyl is making a comeback, not to mention the fact that Audiophiles born after 1985 have never heard music reproduced this way and are falling in love with it!

    Hope this helps!

    Phil Kaiser (35 year long musician and recording artist)
    Indianapolis

    • Ron Ford Says:

      Thanks Phil. I think you nailed it. In most cases the vinyl sounds better, at least to my ear.

      • TheAmericanMutt Says:

        I’ll not be framing any of mine, but cover art looks ten fold better in 12 x12. I do have an extra copy of Alices Resturant that may end up on the wall.

  2. Records making a comeback—Hipsters. Little brother is the perfect example. He even moved to Brooklyn. Has been buying up records the last 5-10 years.

  3. I was going to write a response and did not see Phil’s. It sounds like he nailed it and he would know more than I. Records or LP’s actually sound better than a cd or an mp3. Sonically it is more robust and its analog foundation is more dynamic and sounds better. Digital sound is compressed and, in the modern age we have all become so used to it . In actuality it really is not very good. The only people that know the difference are the old fogies that actually heard lp’s.

    Back to the matter at hand: I myself don’t even try and understand the points system in NASCAR. I agree it has gotten so doctored up it actually cheapens the sport. They need to boil it down to its essence and make it simple again. What drives me crazy is the owner points for the Daytona 500 and how it shoes a driver in because the car owners past performances. I don’t even understand “the chase” so I will not even pretend to comment on it.

    I think if IndyCar keeps the points system as simple as possible it is better. Think about it, racing is all about who can get around the track the fastest on a given day. In an arena of almost unlimited variables, track specific set ups, driver experience and talent, physical conditioning, track temp, ambient air temp, wind, track surface irregularities, engine power (in a non-spec world) tire, suspension and aerodynamic set ups all factored in make for a pretty complicated situation. No reason to make things any more complicated with a stupid, contrived, complicated points system. I think IndyCar can keep a leg up on NASCAR by keeping its points allocation as simple as possible.

  4. What the NFL is proposing and what Nascar is doing with the chase makes no sense. I had more than one friend say goodbye to Nascar when the “chase” was first implemented. Its not a true champion. The season matters. I guess not enough believers in management for the sport itself.

    The NFL has lost its mind. My prediction is you won’t recognize the NFL in ten years. I had season tickets for 20 years but even I only half recognize what the NFL is today. And I don’t think we’ve seen anything yet.

    Indycar has joined the insanity by destroying the month of may and especially Pole Day. They (like the other leagues mentioned) are relying on marketing experts, not experts in their own sport. I think you would be shocked how little these experts Indycar is now relying on to make more money know about auto racing, let alone Indy Car. Many of us know positive steps Indycar can make to improve the sport and the Indy 500. Its amazing how little of that they do.

    I still cannot believe MLB went to a wild card system and forever said goodbye to pennant races.

    Too many people I think become negative of the status quo and start harping for change. Of course, its the change they want that they picture in their minds. Often they do not get it. They need to start looking at change as opening a door into a dark room where you are never sure just way awaits you. Use a little more caution (and dare I say common sense).

  5. billytheskink Says:

    I was going to agree with Phil on vinyl records, but as a Betamax enthusiast and the only person on the planet who enjoys single-car oval qualifying I figured I would probably hurt his argument.

    The Indycar points system works remarkably well, I think, both in balancing winning and consistency for the championship contenders and in separating the backmarkers (necessary as long as the Leader’s Circle exists). Still, there have been a couple of quirks to the Indycar points system in recent years, some that I liked and some that I did not.
    I did not like awarding half-points for each of the Texas twins in 2011. If you are going to adjust points based on the race distance, you ought to do so across the entire schedule (like the old USAC points system). This concept was thankfully abandoned for last year’s double-headers.
    Two tweaks that I did favor were the addition of bonus points structures for Indy 500 qualifying (2010, I think) and the Iowa qualifying heat races (2013). With a desire to make these two events as competitive as possible and without extra prize money to throw around, the extra points were probably Indycar’s best tool to incentivize competition.

    NASCAR and the NFL are offering solutions in search of problems. This is especially silly in the NFL, which has far, far more important issues to tackle (sorry) than fans not getting excited about PATs.

  6. I think the NFL should just do away with PAT’s, award 7 pts for a TD and get on with it. Of course, I also believe you should not be allowed to win a game by kicking a field goal, so maybe my anti-kicker bias is showing.

    The Nascar thing is beyond stupid. It should get great TV ratings for the last race at the expense of deciding a legitimate champion.

  7. Chris Lukens Says:

    I agree that the IndyCar points system works really well. However I don’t like the idea of awarding a point for leading a lap. It seems silly that a last place car can wait a lap to pit under yellow, pick up the lead, then pit and come back out on the track again in last place but one point richer.

    As far the new Indy qualifying rules, I can see exactly where this is headed. After a few years after a Penske/Gannassi/Andreditti car walls it on Saturday and cannot make the race and/or Sunday is rained out, this new schedule will be deemed a failure and a “new and improved” schedule will be released.

    Friday – Practice,
    Saturday – Quals,
    Sunday – Concert Day ( at one time called Carb Day ),
    Monday – The Race.

    The Month of May will be over and done with in a single weekend, proving what the Cart-Clique has been saying all along; the Indy 500 is just another race.

  8. just read the new qualifying rules: as I understand it everyone qualifies on Saturday. Then everyone qualifies again on Sunday.

    Redumb-dant.

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