Saturday, June 29, 2013

Danica isn't a racer and the Blackhawks raise the bar for class

From where I sit it looks like Kyle Petty is in trouble...for being right.

The former Petty has a very legitimate point about Patrick. Sorry, she's not that good. Yes, she's quick, even has a couple poles, but really isn't all that accomplished as a racer. Take a look at her numbers. One win. That's it. Six podiums in 114 races in Indy Car. NASCAR has been worse. Even at lower levels she's lacking in results. In what's now the Atlantic Championship, Danica Patrick had 0 wins and 5 podiums in 24 races. As comparison Simona De Silvestro took 5 wins and another 5 podiums in 35 races. Patrick is a sell. Plain and simple. Is she a great spokesperson? Yes. However, she's not a racer. If it wasn't for marketing Danica Patrick would never have made it out of the lower ranks. Naturally, Patrick laughed off the comments from Petty. And so she should. I wouldn't expect her to come out and say, “He's right, I'm here for my looks.” The best drivers at all levels share one thing in common, they win. So Patrick is left with a simple way to get many critics to shut up. Win. And I don't see that happening any time soon.

The NHL presented a brilliantly sentimental commercial during the Stanley Cup final...

The simple hand shake after a series remains one of the more powerful sights in hockey. Two teams battling for up to 7 games, then sharing a hand shake. The Chicago Blackhawks have taken the respect to a whole new level. This ad ran in the Boston Globe on the same day the Blackhawks held their victory parade:

Much is made of the 'me first' attitude of many sports figures. There is a champion every year, in every sport. But to win with class is almost unheard of. Sure, every winner pays tribute to their opponent, but a full-page ad is a gesture I've never seen. It's fun to have a rival, it's great to have a rival you respect. Well done Blackhawks.

At least that's how I see it...and I sit in the cheap seats.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

the Stanley Cup thrills while the CFL kicks off

From where I sit it looks like a fantastic Stanley Cup final with an amazing ending...

Although it didn't go 7 games there's nothing preventing this final from joining the ranks of other classics. Three overtime games, almost every game decided by a goal (game 3 was 2 goals). This series manged to showcase the NHL delightfully. Speed, aggression, finesse, intensity, toughness. Everything the League wants fans to revel in. From Tukka Rask stopping damn near everything in games 2 and 3; to game 4's 11 goals. From Patrice Bergeron being held together with medical tape; to the Bruins game 6 collapse. It seems hard to believe the season was almost wiped out. This takes a big piece of that sting away. Now, don't do it again!

The CFL season kicks off this week...the importance of this depends on what you look for in football.

I am an NFL fan, but I still enjoy the CFL. Its style of game is wide open. A free flow of offense. It's a fun game to watch. But, sadly lacks the promotional power and star names of the NFL. The NFL is the best league being played by the best players.  That will never happen north of the border. So the CFL remains a 2nd tier league. Honestly, the League would be best served to embrace that.  Most players who come up here have no clue that Canada is like, or even some of the basic rules of the Canadian game. But they grow to love it. So, what if they leave for a bigger paycheque?  I still want to see the highest quality players available.  In smaller centres the players become major celebrities. The passion shown by fans in Saskatchewan, Winnipeg, Hamilton, Edmonton and Calgary rivals anything seen south of the border.  The biggest difference is...this is our game.

At least that's how I see it...and I sit in the cheap seats.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

A Heat repeat, a new coach in Vancouver and trouble in Calgary

From where I sit it looks like the right team won the NBA title...however, I do see a couple of issues.

The biggest one is the series format. Unlike the NHL, the NBA uses a 2-3-2 series, but just in the final. The rest of the time it's 2-2-1-1-1. My complaint is, since when has travel been a problem in the NBA? Game 7 was great, but game 6 was a marvel. Certainly the Heat came through in the clutch and the Spurs simply couldn't put them away. However, how much different could things have been if the game was in San Antonio? Would the Spurs have gotten more calls from the refs with support from the home crowd? Could Miami have rallied against the noise, instead of with it? 

Secondarily, I have a bone to pick with Danny Green. Sure, he's friends with LeBron James, but did he need to show up at the Heat party? Send a text, a tweet, whatever, just don't show up at the party. Hell, even show up at a party next week. But on the night you lost the championship...not such a smart move.

In the NHL, Boston and Chicago are helping fans forget the lockout with a thrilling series. Meanwhile, several teams are filling coaching vacancies.

The Canucks are, perhaps, making the biggest change. John Tortorella will keep life interesting for the players, fans, and most importantly the media. The big question will be if the team can follow orders from Tortorella. In spite of a mass of talent in New York, the Rangers were a defense first team, trying to stifle creativity from both sides. If the team can be brought into line, and the Sedins, Kesler et al can still produce, they will again challenge. However, if there's another New York...well, I think we won't be needing Larry Brooks to get more quotes from Tortorella.

One other NHL related thought. Calgary has been hit by heavy flooding, including severe damage to the Saddledome.

I am not now, nor will I ever be a fan of any team from Calgary. Not the Flames, not the Hitmen, not the Roughnecks, not the Stampeders. However, this not a time for sports rivalries. The city is in need. So are her people. When the time is right I will lustily boo Calgary teams and cheer anyone they play against. Until then, stand tall Calgary. My thoughts and prayers with everyone affected.

At least that's how I see it...and I sit in the cheap seats.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Playoff talk and the NHL to Seattle?

From where I sit it looks like another pivotal-do-or-die-must-win game.

I am sick and tired of all the playoff talk. No, not discussing it. I enjoy talking sports as much as I love watching it. However, the mindless use of words or phrases gets quite tiresome by the middle of June. I don't need a reminder that it's a pivotal game. Or a must-win situation. And I really don't need the myriad of stats that accompany whatever game is being discussed. There are numbers to support every eventuality of every game, no matter what the outcome. I do have sympathy for sportscasters. It's not easy coming up with new ways to talk about the same issues every day. For 2 and a half months. I love the playoffs...I just would like more words to stave off the levels of repetition...shit.

The NHL is looking at the possibility of another team relocating.

I think Seattle would make a great NHL city. But not now. The problem is Key Arena. It's not designed for hockey. At all. It will only seat 11,000, with 2,000 of those having some sort of obstructed view. Seattle is a great sports city. The Seahawks, Mariners, Huskies, Sounders and Hydros are all well supported. The would put an NHL team in immediate competition. And with a terrible, outdated rink that would be a huge disadvantage. Key Arena has some great memories for basketball fans, but it is not a hockey rink, and certainly not an NHL arena.

At least that's how I see it...and I sit in the cheap seats.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

No purses in the NFL and Quebec Soccer faces backlash

From where I sit it looks like NFL stands for No Female Luggage.

I have been to plenty of sporting events with lots of different people. Only once have I been with a female who didn't bring her purse. My daughter. She's 7. The League claims this is an effort at increased security. That seems logical. After all, most fights in the stands are two women getting in a brawl, swinging their purses around clobbering everyone in sight. What will be banned next? Pockets in men's jeans? It's an arrogant move by the NFL. For them to think nobody would notice is simply stupid. The only thing this will prevent is people attending games.

Speaking of moronic rules, the Quebec Soccer Federation continues to stand by it's rule banning religious head gear.

Given international soccer's lengthy problems with racism and discrimination you know it's got to be a bad rule if FIFA disagrees with it. Once again 'safety' is at the centre of the rule. And just like the NFL this is only leading to headaches for the Quebec Soccer Federation. With 20 teams cancelling from a Montreal tournament there's no question the bite back is being felt. Change is, in all likelihood, coming soon. However, the damage is already done. How much discussion was done before the rule was passed? Did anyone stop and ask if this was right? Or smart? To paraphrase Dr Ian Malcom from Jurassic Park, the QSF was “so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should.”

At least that's how I see it...and I sit in the cheap seats.

Update: Quebec has changed their minds and eliminated the rule.  That doesn't preclude the fact that it should never have been there in the first place.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Cup final is set and the Riders get hitched

From where I sit it looks like a great match-up in the Stanley Cup Final.

This is the first final featuring an Original Six rivalry since the Canadiens thumped the Rangers 4-1 in 1979. They haven't met since 1978, when Don Cherry's Bruins swept the series in 4. In 6 all-time meetings the Bruins have a 5-1 lead. With the lone Chicago win in 1975, 2-1. All of that proves...nothing. As useless as any stats you can ever see. It's a couple of teams that can play aggressive, exciting, tough hockey. I'm looking forward to it.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders are getting into the wedding party business.

Let's get one thing clear right off the hop: these are not weddings! They are parties to celebrate marriage, any marriage, of any length. So, no, nobody will be getting hitched during the Riders game on August 17th. It's a cute idea. Also a typically unique CFL-style promotion. At the same time, since when does Saskatchewan need help selling tickets? This is the kind of idea used by minor league teams in a desperate attempt to drum up interest in a moribund club. Not, the kind of thing needed in the CFL's most stable market. The Riders generate sell-outs the vast majority of the time. And I've got no doubt this will sell out too. No matter how screwy an idea it is.

At least that's how I see it...and I sit in the cheap seats.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Big changes for the NHL rule book

From where I sit it looks like the NHL is making some big strides.

Although it's late for some players, the new visor rule will save so many others from pain. Naturally there are some who won't think it's a good idea (ahem, Don Cherry). But, today's players have spent their entire junior career with a visor, so it's not going to be an adjustment. The fighting rules will be changed to continue to allow scraps, after all everyone wears visors in the CHL and there's still plenty of fighting.

I'm also pleased to see progress on hybrid icing. I'm fine with a no-touch icing, there must be a stop to injuries like these...

I haven't read what the style of icing will be tested, but honestly anything will be an improvement. The races seldom, if ever materialize. I cringe every time I see players charging head-long towards the wall. The other aspect of hybrid icing is players will have time to make decisions and brace for possible impact. Instead of having 2 players at almost a dead stop with a live puck, there will be 2 players continuing their motions with a live puck. It will be an improvement in the speed and flow of the game...and more importantly an improvement in player safety.

Of the other issues discussed the big one that jumps out at me is changing the size of equipment. The goalies in particular. Prior to December 29, 2009 the NHL shutout record was held by Terry Sawchuk. He spent most of his career tending goal like this...

I'm amazed it lasted as long as it did and that there aren't any challengers with today's goalie equipment...

The sooner the goalies get smaller the better.

At least that's how I see it...and I sit in the cheap seats.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Another attack at a game and the CFL gets a new team

From where I sit it looks like a couple of morons giving sports fans a bad name...again...

Let's start with the fact that these two idiots were attacking Matt Fortese for wearing a Yankees hat. Look, I don't like them either, but I wouldn't waste my breath chirping at someone over it. Never mind, throwing a beer. How drunk do you have to be to throw a beer at a sporting event? In addition the game was in Baltimore...against the Washington Nationals. These idiots (no, I'm not using their names) started a fight over a team who wasn't even there. I'm glad they have been charged. Further to that, convicted or not, they both should be banned from attending games. There's no excuse for an attack like that. Ever.

With CFL camps underway, the League's newest addition is set to unveil it's name and logo...that was leaked last week.

It can't possibly be easy to pick a team name. Even harder, when a league is returning to a city with a long, storied history under another name. But honestly, RedBlacks? How much work did they put into this? It's a bland name. There is very little evocative about it. This is a league with Lions, Stampeders, Eskimos, Roughriders, Blue Bombers, Tiger-Cats, Argonauts and Alouettes. All bring an emotional response in one way or another. But, RedBlacks sounds like a college team. Further to that, what will fans use as a nickname? RBs? I don't know if I could cheer for a team where it sound more like I'm asking for a roast beef sandwich as football tickets.

At least that's how I see it...and I sit in the cheap seats.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Rangers look for a coach, the NBA refs blow a call and Sochi faces corruption

From where I sit it looks like the New York Rangers have a couple volunteers for head coach.

Both Gretzky and Messier bring impressive players. Only Gretzky has any professional coaching experience, and that was hardly inspiring. In 4 seasons behind the bench in Phoenix, the Great One was 18 games under .500. He had 1 winning season (38-37-7 in 2007-08) and never made the playoffs. As for Messier, he coached Canada to a third-place finish at the Deutschland Cup and a second-place finish at the Spengler Cup in 2010. Hardly inspiring numbers from either of them. For Glen Sather, the only benefit this brings is a distraction for the media for his search for a proper head coach. I hope. There are plenty of high quality candidates looking for work. Alain Vigneault, Lindy Ruff, Paul Maurice are all on the market. Dallas Eakins is ready to move up from the AHL. However, Sather's judgement hasn't been the best since he landed in New York, so nothing would surprise me.

It's a 1 game suspension for Miami's Chris Andersen for game 6 of the East final.

That's a fair judgement for what he did, but my question is on the referees. Commissioner David Stern says Andersen should have been ejected. For all the Major League umpires get hammered every time they blow a call, why isn't the same being done here? Sure, Andersen only had 4 points, but he played 18 minutes, second on the team to Ray Allen's 21 from the bench. How the refs watched the same replay I saw and decided Andersen should be allowed to keep playing is beyond me. That looked more like an NHL playoff style decision...did Hansbrough die? No? Ok, Andersen can stay. The NBA is supposed to get the call right, no matter what. A foul in the 1st minute is a foul in the last. Please, keep it that way.

And in the latest edition of corrupt Olympics, Sochi is added to the list.

So, $30-billion is missing. And it's not like the venues are all ready. It shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that the Olympics is facing allegations of corruption. When you're dealing with that big an organization, with that much political influence and, depending on the country involved, little to no oversight, disappearing money is almost expected. More surprising to me is that it's been caught this early. Russia is a country without a good history of financial or political openness. So, this is a positive sign. Sure, there's corruption, but their system is showing signs of working.

At least that's how I see it...and I sit in the cheap seats.