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Wordplay

 

Today I placed some premiere Superbowl bets.  One of my wagers is on who the Superbowl MVP will thank first (I didn’t take God because I don’t think the Cardinals will win, therefore Warner won’t get the Mic).  Other bets placed include what colour the gatorade dumped on the winning coach will be (orange) and an over/under on John Madden food references (I took the under on 1.5 and immediately regretted it).  How great is that?  I couldn’t damn well figure out who to put my money on, so I opted for the ridiculous bets.  I plan on fully enjoying the game.  Another offered category was an over/under on the amount of times they show Kurt Warners wife.  Curious that they seem to do this so much.  I mean, I get it if they’re hawking Mrs. Tiger Ohmygodshe’shot, but Mrs. Warner?  I mean… Kurt has a trophy wife too, but apparently it wasn’t first place. Ohhh, that’s not fair, I kid.  Plus, that joke is a blatant rip-off from Steven Wright (“the weather here has been crazy, it’s like the earth is bipolar”.  He’s got some great one-liners).  Anyways, the fun for me on Superbowl Sunday is going to be rooting for orange Gatorade and for Madden to keep his love of fried foods suppressed until commercial breaks.

How about David Justice this week.  In  regards to steroid accusations, he recently told a reporter: ”thats a bald-faced lie”.  Bald-faced?  Maybe he feels that lies from a shaven face are more vicious than ones from a bearded man?  How did he feel about the ”Mission Accomplished” part of Bush’s tenure as President?  Would it have hurt less had Grizzly Adams been standing under the sign?  HommeeeRunnn.

Sure, people in sports say ridiculous things (and they all have to pay royalties to Sean Avery when they do).  But what rattles me is how often people use sports metaphors that don’t seem to go as planned.  One of my  favourite songs by The Postal Service is “Nothing Better”.  But it drives me hair-pulling insane that in trying to stop a girl from leaving him, he says “And I will block the door like a goalie tending the net / In the third quarter of a tied-game rivalry”  Tending … goalie… quarter… wait.  What?  What sport could he possibly have been thinking of?  Sports have lingos.  The soccer field?  Call it a pitch.  You call a segment of a baseball game an inning.  And you describe a guy like Troy Aikman as queer as a football bat.  There’s a few terms to know, thats all. 

Even a great writer and sports fan like Mitch Albom stumbles occasionally.  He recently wrote a wonderful article in Sports Illustrated on Detroit fans (and the city), describing them as scrappy, hard working fighters (I assume he’s referring to the remaining population, while the rest ambled to a town with people, jobs and sunshine).  In describing the  hockey passion of the city, he says something along the lines of  ’what other entire city erupts when that blue light goes on?”  Every single reader in Canada just went “the goal light is red, bud”.  This is the stuff that I’m going to be yelling when I’m wearing that really nice jacket my kids got me, you know, that stark white one with the buckles, straps and funny sleeves?  Alright, I’m done ranting.

Lastly, I’ll just say that Chris Berman is one of the best sports personalities left on television (with Skip Bayliss as the worst).  He’s the most level-headed, entertaining mediator in football, earning him a spot on the 21st century’s all-broadcast team, with nominations to Ron McLean of CBC, Bob Cole and Harry Neale of Hockey Night in Canada (both have made every all-broadcast teams from the 1840′s to present) and Dick Vitale of AnythingHeSaysIsFunny.  I spent a little time in the Idaho Steelheads booth with a banged up knee this year as the colour guy, and it’s a blast.  I got good reviews, but I don’t think I was making any of the greats nervous.  Plus, Vitale sets the bar so damn high.  Get a load of this guy:

My vote for worst Dicky V was George Karl’s high-pitch rendition.  But come on.  This guys a legend!  Random shout out: Neal DeGrasse Tyson for another awesome interview on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.  He’s the Dick Vitale of Astronomy.

And lastly, a friend just sent me this link.  Now here’s the best speecher in America.

Aw, Sidney. You're A Good Boy.

 

I figured it out Canada.  I know why hockey isn’t being embraced by the rest of the world (read: the United States).  Personality.  Thank God Ovechkin showed up, he’s given our game a chance.  The problem started with great ambassadors to the game like Gretzky.  Sure, the Gretzky trade to L.A. was probably the single biggest influence in bringing the game to Americans, but it wasn’t his playing or his personality that damped enthusiasm.  It was his level of class.  

It didn’t do harm in his era, because there was still a volume of loud mouth entertainers playing at the same time (Tiger Williams used to ride his stick.  Actually.  That happened).  The  problem became that kids grew up idolizing Wayne and in turn were speaking with respect about their opponent and modestly about their own contributions. I respect Gretzky’s public persona, and wish we could sell that game to the US without a little unnecessary flair, but I’m not sure it’s possible.  They love that stuff. 

Kids wanted to be Gretter.  And our parents wanted the same.  Whaaattt a wonnnderful example he set.  Cordial, polite and professional, he simply achieved the highest goal:  Win.  Facts and polite smiles at every turn.  Other leagues have their biggest stars saying the most obscene things and creating sub-plots fit for theatre (Slapshot reference: how about the implied storyline that never develops any farther then “He’s been living in semi-seclusion in Northern Quebec, Andre “The Poodle” Lessard…”).  These sub-plots are everywhere in hockey, but they exist behind closed doors.  Frankly, the media isn’t savvy enough to dig them up.  I think the guys covering the NFL wiretap the room or something.

But take Sidney Crosby, Gretzky’s protege.  What a player.  Whether you think he’s the best, or a baby, or whatever, you can’t deny that he’s good.  But he’s the last thing the NHL needed.  A superstar saying the right thing.  Sean Avery wasn’t a fair representation of the NHL (though he was of himself), but, man.  ESPN couldn’t get enough of this guy.  I literally didn’t know Mats Sundin played for the Canucks until I got home on the weekend.  But I knew how many pinstripes were on the suit Avery was wearing at his internship for Vogue.  I knew his dating history, his slightly effeminate manner for an agitator, and could have diagnosed him with a psychological condition. 

If Mike Comrie would say”I could care less that we lost, I’m going to Hannah Montana, er, Hillary Duffs birthday party tonight”, like he’s actually thinking, people might follow our game a bit closer.  Everyone in America cannot wait to hear what Terrell Owens says after he finishes a game with 1 catch for 8 yards.  It’s a soap opera.

(I enjoy both the hat, and that the clip helps my case at the start, in the middle, and to finish)

And thats whats lacking in our game.  We don’t need constant rule fixes, highlighted pucks or outdoor games (but those are great, keep those going).  The teams and the league need to stop worrying so much about bulletin board material.  You know, those apparently motivating comments like “The Islanders defence sucks” before you play the Islanders.  You know what?  The Islanders defence does suck.  Just because they know that you think it, doesn’t mean they can stop anything. 

This black-balling of flair from the game may be the NHL’s biggest turn-off, including Gary Bettman.  Coaches love to warn their team about the evils of disrespecting your opponent in the media and how it’s going to give them fuel.  It’s just not true.  Plus, you can respect your opponent and still say something interesting and relevant into the microphone can’t you?  Hockey definitely leads major sports in regurgitated answers.  Phrases like “gut check” are nauseasting.  I used to think it was because hockey players aren’t that smart (they aren’t), but I reeeeeaaalllly don’t think basketball or football players finished with higher GPA’s.  But it’s just not necessary to be so wary of what we say.  Never once in my career have a I thought “I can’t believe Steve Defenceman doesn’t think our team can score.  I’m gonna score so many more goals now to prove him wrong”.  I was already trying to score. 

Please, coaches, Gary Bettman, team captains… loosen up.  Let the fans see a little of that passion,  and a few of those storylines that stay buried.  I promise it will be more fun if they notice that right from the drop of the puck #17 has been clipping #22 in the mouth with his elbow everytime they line up for a face off.  I promise if will be more fun if more people notice your game.  Enough Sidney.  You’re a good boy.  You’re a good boy.

     Okay, maybe we could use a liiiittle censorship. 

I haven’t seen an NHL highlight in the US since that clip.  Loosen up boys.

It Bloggles My Mind.

 

Are you over the NBA slam dunk yet? I cannot believe that anybody is still impressed by this. I mean, these guys are huge.  There’s a lot of huge people in the world.  This league has selected the very best athletes of the very huge. Hugesketball. And we’re impressed that they put it in something highSlllaaaamm Dunk!  I’m not trying to take anything away from the NBA (it wouldn’t be fair, what with all those soccer players out there… and leagues that begin in “W”), but this sport seems to have an odd quality.  It seems to be the only sport you can beat.  In a way, you can beat the game like when you had that cheat code for Super Contra (left-right-left-right-a-b-b-a, was it?)

There’s is no physical way to overcome a golf course.  Nobody gets to begin the hole a lick closer than the next person. Sports like hockey, football and soccer are played against other players, on a surface with the goal on the ground.  But in basketball, we could literally see the day where some monster has arms that go above the rim, and he stands there and sets the thing in the peach basket  (note: that guy looks like a Hobbit beside Yao).  Scouts who judge a players potential seem to use a sliding scale of size and talent.  For every inch you drop below seven feet, you need to be a half point better on the talent scale to make the NBA.  A 7 footer needs a talent rating of about 4/10 to make it. If you’re 6’11″, you better be at least a 4.5. You say you’re 6′ 10″?  We’ll take you as a 5, sure.  You could completely phase out the need for talent if you were tall enough.  I think it’s possible. At least the guys trying to stop Giants running back Brandon Jacobs  (6-foot-4 and 267 pounds) can grow with him.  That poor lil orange circle, however, cannot.

Basketball is a wonderful sport.  A ton of fun.  Out on the playground, and in the gym, there is a huge basketball following, including myself.  But for the elite of the elite, the most monstrous of the monsters, the game has become silly.  I’m starting a campaign to raise awareness for all you NBA players out there.  You looked ridiculous when you celebrated that dunk just there.  There was nobody in your way and you’re 6’6″ with long arms and a 40 inch vertical.  Celebrating needs to have some correlation to the difficulty of the play (listen up, NFL safety’s. As Bill Simmons pointed out, if the guy you’re covering drops it, you don’t get to face the camera and wave the “nu-uh” finger)  You did well for your team, you can celebrate, don’t get me wrong.  But did you really just flex?  Growl?  You’re the best -insert player name here-.  You’re the f@#$ing best. (That was Kevin Stevens, and one of the classiest men in hockey, Bryan Trottier assaulting Brian Bellows.  Ha…now that’s classy.)

 

 We would love to dunk.  We dunk on our nephew’s Fisher-Price hoop.  We dunk on the lowered hoop that neighborhood kid’s family owns. We dunk our garbage.I like to see some dunks mixed in to my NBA game.  And I don’t want the rims at 12 feet (is 10.5 out of the question?) I just want youuu tocalmtheFdown.  Proof that a slam (ps, is there a sporting term more lame than “slam dunk”?) anyways, proof that a slam dunk is as easy as convincing someone that  “PC” has lost the war of advertising versus the Mac (Bill Gates is Justin Long’s bitch), is that we have a contest to see who can do the most stuff in the air before the dunk.  Human beings have a max hang time of like, a second, and this task is so mundane that these guys have time to spin, switch their ball hand and switch the pocket they carry their ridiculous roll of money in.  The term itself has become synonymous with not difficult.  “Is that guy going to use our company for the job?”  “For sure… It’s a slam dunk”.  As in “there’s no chance of it not happening”.  A kicker going for an extra point in football is more likely to miss than the guy going for a dunk.  And during the Steelers game, I tried to bet a buck during live betting that the kicker would convert, and my return was 3 cents.  And to this, Sportscenter devotes 6 spots out of every top 10.  “Ohhh!! That one’ll be on a poster! I wonder if he’ll sign it for himhahaha” HAHAHA!  Ha.

                                 (SHE DUNKED IT!)                                                    ((I LOVE that the female commentator chips in about 2/3 of the way through and goes “BOOM!”))

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