In sports, it’s what we watch for in teams as they react to the move of an opponent. At the Harry Caray’s and in this space, it’s my reaction to the world around me. As always, please remember, I spend most of my time as the sober guy in a room full of people that are drinking. Whether that distorts my view is subject to debate.
I found funny -- not funny haha, but funny -- the doom and gloom of Blackhawks fans before Wednesday night’s Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final. I understand that the Game 3 effort was not one of their best, but for whatever reason, they had not won a Game 3 yet in these playoffs. But one thing you would think we’ve learned is that this team can take a punch. More to the point, I think they learn from their mistakes and solve the riddle.
They have in each series curiously seemed to at times, play the game of their opponents. That is to play a slower, more physical game, zone to zone. When we have watched this team at its best, it is when they use their incomparable team speed and relentlessly attack when on offense or on the forecheck. Speed kills. It is the advantage the Hawks possess over every team in hockey. When they crank it up, I don’t think they can be stopped. So don’t fret my little Tommy Hawks, the Blackhawks have figured this out, so has Q by the way by reuniting Taser and Kaner, and are coming home to start a best-of-3 for the Cup. Tuukka who?
Oh and another thing, as much as we can see that every shooter in the NHL is going to go to Corey Crawford’s glove side, Rask can be had as well. Crash the net. Crash the net. CRASH THE NET!! Funny how when the Hawks were scoring all night, there were guys in front of the net. It’s a dangerous place, but the reward is worth it. Climb inside Tuukka’s mask!
One side effect of watching a lot of one sport during the playoffs is commercial nausea. As much as I want to get started on Games 2 and 3 being on the NBC Sports Network, I’m going to bite my tongue. Sort of. (Quick aside: I have been doing TV on Comcast SportsNet for seven years now. If I had a nickel for how many times I’ve had to explain what the channel is and how to find it, I wouldn’t have to bartend anymore. Hardcore fans know, the peripherals don’t. It is very frustrating, but a fact of life.) The Stanley Cup Final should be marketed to as many fans as possible. I understand that NBCSN (What?) has had its largest ratings ever and is staring to take footing as a network, but even the four-letter network puts its winter sports finals all on network TV. It’s just going to be a larger audience. That’s the math. As a hockey fan, I would think that is better for long-term growth. The games 1 and 4 numbers on NBC were much larger. I would love to see hockey grow beyond being a niche sport, but that can’t happen when its marquee event has games on a niche channel. How do I know it’s a niche channel? How many commercials for the Tour de France do I have to endure? The Tour de Everyone is Doping is not going to draw ANY attention in this country for a long, long time. Although, maybe the Tour promos are better than the Cialis commercials that are going to repeatedly pop up on my TV during the MLB playoffs.
Malibu-Ya? Seriously? Talk about jumping the shark. Somebody got paid for that idea? At least give it a little energy and not be a nerdfest. When you Boo-Ya, you need to crank it up! BOOO-YAAAAA!!!
And because when I bite into something I can’t let go: The four-letter network can show me all the WNBA promos and Brittany Griner profiles they want and I’m not going to watch. Don’t care. I would rather watch NASCAR on and endless loop. What? NASCAR is an endless loop? Never mind. I’ll just patiently wait for the Barclay’s Premier League.
One of the big questions around the bar is: What in the world are we going to do when hockey is over? Baseball in this town is bordering on unwatchable. As a Sox fan, following them right now is just short of torture. 12 games under .500! Can’t hit. Can’t field. Can’t win. How long before everyone can’t watch?
The question now is not when they will turn it around, but rather when will the fire sale start? Sox fans can’t wait to see what GM Rick Hahn’s first response to an under-achieving team is going to be. I would dangle Jesse Crain in front of the Tigers yesterday.
And when the big news on the Northside has to do with the tweets of a backup third baseman in Des Moines, you know it’s business as usual. What I don’t understand are: 1) Why in the world did you sign him to a $2 million contract after what happened last season? Was there a mad rush of teams out there to sign him? 2) After signing him to said contract, why would you expect him to not want to keep the money, even with being threatened to rot in Siberia/Iowa? I can sit on a bench and ride buses for $2 mildo. On my head!! So why the outrage? Figure out a plan. You took a chance on a under-performing high draft pick from another organization and it didn’t work out. Move on. Part of “the plan” is to throw guys like this against a wall and see what sticks. Stewart obviously did not. Why compound the mistake? On another note: Late night texts = bad!
And because I have to: At least I’m not alone, judging by the ratio of non-Heat fans in a packed bar Tuesday night, but why I’m still bothered by the Heat is beyond me. I really have enough other things to worry about. Still they are just annoying (by how they act) and frustrating (by how good they can be) and represent a lot of what I don’t like about the NBA. Not all on the court mind you, they have earned most of that. LeBron is the best player on the planet, by far. It’s just that I’m starting not to believe any of what I see due to the officiating. The calls at the end of regulation in Game 6 all but guaranteed a Game 7. I know that the Spurs were given the chance to hit free throws and didn’t, but when the game started I knew if it was close that the Heat would get the benefit of the doubt and they did. It’s as old as time, or at least as old as the David Stern NBA. I can still see Ray Allen tackling Manu Ginobili on the final drive of regulation. Where’s the whistle? Why, it’s in Never-Never land. As in an official will never make a call if it would take away another game of profit and headlines. Then we have to listen to Bosh? Seriously? This guy is along for the ride and he’s woofing? Whatever. I know they are the champs and I guess that means something, but to me it rings of the WWE, you know, with the scripted endings. I guess Lebron can hang out with the Hulkster and they can talk about how many titles they have won.
Finally, I was very saddened to hear of the passing of James Gandolfini on Wednesday. That he’s the same age as I am made it hit close to home. That he has young children like I do made it even worse. We all have too little time on this earth. The lasting memory of course will be his portrayal of a mob boss on “The Soprano’s.” That show was the probably the best written and acted in my lifetime, not to mention my favorite show ever. Gandolfini became a superstar in the lead role. His portrayal was nothing short of mesmerizing. You could only think of him as Tony Soprano. Of course he was much, much more and he will be missed. RIP JG.