A couple of weeks ago I was getting frustrated with my TiVo constantly being out of available space. I have a fairly low capacity 40-hour Series 2 which, when combined with the horribly poor reception I receive from the non-boxed cable signal that requires me to record pretty much everything on one of the highest quality settings (thus taking up more space), often leads to issues where things don’t get recorded not due to scheduling conflicts but lack of available disk space.

After a particularly frustrating couple of days earlier this month during which I had this happen to me several times, I went through and fiddled with my Season Passes to try and help the problem. One of my solutions was that I trimmed the “Keep at Most” option of several high-profile SPs (shows I watch pretty much right after they air or at least no more than a day later) down to “1.” My thought process was, “I’ll always watch and clear these shows out, so why keep them around?”

Well, here’s why: Nik and I both watch Lost. But Lost comes on at 9:00 PT and I never start watching a one-hour show any earlier than twenty minutes after it has begun airing. The reason is that after twenty minutes you can usually skip through all the commercials because you’ve built a sufficient buffer and by the end of the show you’ve only just caught up to the live broadcast. But 9:20 is pretty close to when Nik heads off to bed. Being a more night-owl type (or just being more content to zombie-walk through my day) I don’t mind staying up until after ten or even after eleven. But Lost night is kind of tricky because I work in an office full of Lost fans. If I don’t watch the show the night it airs the inconsiderate TiVo-less hacks that work there will spoil the whole episode with their water cooler chatter before I even have a chance to watch it.

So this season we’ve been splitting the views up; I watch the show Wednesday night and then sometime during the next week Nik sits down to catch up and I re-watch it with her (because Lost usually is good for at least two viewings).

Well, last week the episode (“Further Instructions”) was pretty weak. When I griped about it, Nik faltered on wanting to watch it and in the end never got around to firing it up (actually, getting her to watch any sort of TV, including rented DVDs, has been something of a chore lately since she’s clearly addicted to playing Ticket to Ride online). But I forgot that I had changed all my Season Passes so I didn’t think to delete the previous episode before this week’s began. When I snapped on the set around 9:30 to start watching, I was confused that Lost wasn’t being picked up. It took me a few minutes to piece together what had happened and by the time I did I ended up with only the last twenty minutes of the show recorded.

I was pretty annoyed but I figured that it wasn’t a huge deal because makes a big to-do out of offering episodes of their shows online. Yeah, that may be theoretically true but the actual execution of those online episodes leaves something to be desired. I tried four different times with three different browsers on two computers to try and watch the whole show on ABC’s website. I only ever got the first fifteen minutes in before it would restart from the beginning or just stop playing and refuse to ever start again. After copious frustration I ended up settling for those first fifteen minutes and then the last twenty I had caught on TiVo and tried my best to piece together what happened in between.

Nik and I decided we would download the episode from iTunes Music Store later this week to watch the whole thing together but I don’t know that I can properly describe the level of frustration I was feeling yesterday.

And that was before I watched the Sharks game.

I Hope He Got a Big Bribe

I’ll give the Nashville Predators one thing: Their forecheck was phenomenal last night and the Sharks didn’t seem to puzzle out what was being done to them all night, even when they were pressing in the Nashville zone. It was clear from the sidelines that the Preds struggled in their own zone and knew it so they were going to do everything they could to keep it out of their zone as much as possible. Checking the boxscore, you might think that plan simply worked.

But you would be overlooking the one other part to the Predators’ plan which was obviously to grease the officials’ pockets with fat wads of cash to ensure that the Sharks lost, no matter how unfair it was.

I’m sure I’ll be accused of seeing the game through teal-colored glasses but I challenge anyone to watch the full game and not feel like the Sharks were the victims of bad call after bad call as well as having blatant, dangerous plays made against them in full view of some ref and there was no whistle to be heard. I think even Nashville fans should worry about the officiating in that game because if the Preds think they can play that way and get away with it every night, eventually they are going to jack someone up badly and have one of their players end up suspended or fined or put on a five minute major penalty.

I’ll go ahead and ignore the first boarding call that was blatantly overlooked late in the first period. Whatever. The guy wasn’t hurt and as much as I griped about it at the time, I would find out soon enough that it could get much, much worse. Third period comes and Toskala is whacked by several late coming after-the-whistle Predators. A minor melee ensues in which offsetting minors give the teams some 4-on-4 time. Questionable maybe but one could shrug it off. Then a few minutes later Toskala moves behind the net to play a puck and is promptly boarded by a forechecking Nashville player.

Was he really boarded? You better believe it. His face was to the wall, he was playing the puck and the Predators player hit him square in the numbers and tossed him in the boards. It wasn’t incidental contact, it wasn’t the result of some defender pushing him awkwardly: He flat-out checked the goalie and did so in a very dangerous way with the referee standing no more than five feet away.

No. Call.

Actually, there was a call on the Sharks defender following up on the play who put his stick down on the Predators player and got called for cross-checking. Cross checking. I’ve seen superstar goalies get goaltender interference calls for accidentally tripping them up behind the net by spraying ice on their pads, but Toskala gets full on checked in the back toward the boards where he could have easily been injured in full view of the ref and there’s a call on the Sharks? Absolutely unbelievable. And what makes it really suspect is that this happened right at the end of the game with the Sharks down by one and pretty much in full press on Nashville and threatening to score.

Maybe I’ve been watching too many online conspiracy theory videos lately, but I’m just saying that seemed like the worst possible call at the worst possible time.

But my suspicions would amount to nothing if the Sharks had been ahead or tied at the time. And the fact is, they were, only the scoreboard didn’t reflect it because the referee straight up stole a goal from the Sharks. It went down like this: The Sharks rush Tomas Vokoun who stacks the pad and goes down. A Sharks forward crashes into him and the puck rebounds clear and is stuffed home by the trailing Sharks player. The goal light goes on, the Sharks start to celebrate… and then the ref skates up with speed flinging his arms wildly in the “no goal” motion. No goal? What play was that guy watching? Even if he lost sight of the puck, he was in a bad location to see it and certainly shouldn’t have whistled it down that quickly.

So they checked the tape. Clearly a goal. Then they decided the call must have been that the whistle blew before the second Sharks player actually buried it in the net. So they play it real-time with on-ice audio. And the puck sails into the net a full three seconds before any whistle is heard, even from the bribed mistaken referee.

At this point the Sharks fall prey to my biggest pet peeve in all of sports: The non-reviewable call.

Okay so let’s assume for a moment that you aren’t one of those technophobes who think that instant replay doesn’t belong in sports. What is the rationale for including instant replay review in a sporting contest? To get the call right. I mean, why else? The assumption there is that the officials are fallible humans who don’t always have the benefit of watching plays from various angles and in anything slower than real-time (which in a game like hockey is pretty fast). So you offer them an “out” by allowing calls to be corrected based on video evidence.

Now I understand that certain plays or calls don’t work from a review standpoint. For example, if a player fumbles a ball in football but the play is called dead by an official which stops the progression of both teams, it’s hard to fix that because the teams should have had the opportunity to try and recover the ball and make a play with it. Overturning a call on a play whose result can’t be re-created simply won’t work.

But in this case we’re talking about a goal. A goal. This is a binary play: Either it was a legitimate goal, or it was not. A referee can’t say “I meant to blow the whistle earlier” any more than a player can say, “I didn’t mean to sock that guy in the head during his breakaway.” Intention doesn’t matter. In this case the on-ice call was no goal but so what? We reviewed the play and the no-goal call was flat incorrect. But it’s not like something happened that couldn’t be re-created. It’s easy, you called it no goal but you were wrong because the video replay shows that it was a goal so you overturn the on-ice call to “goal” and give the Sharks the point they deserve and swallow your pride.

Although I’m sure it’s easier to stand your ground with all the money in your pockets weighing you down.

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