Archive

Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

The Press (and the NHL) Won’t Give The Blues a Break

March 9, 2012 3 comments

With last night’s win at home against the Anaheim Ducks, which brings their records to 43-18-7 and 93 points, the St. Louis Blues sit at the top of the Central Division, the West Conference, and yes, the NHL. The Blues are this year’s Cinderella-comeback-kid-underdog-rise-from-the-ashes-success story after struggling to make the playoffs only once in the past five years, and undergoing numerous personnel changes. The only problem is, no one outside of St. Louis seems to notice.

St. Louis sports fans are perhaps used to being slighted in this way. Anyone who watched the Cardinals in last year’s playoff contest on TBS, NBC, or listened on ESPN Radio, knows that non-local broadcasters are hesitant to give any credit where it’s due, nay-saying and undermining the team frequently throughout each game. And now it seems the Blues are catching some of the same flack. Despite winning their last three games in a row, the first headline in this week’s NHL Newsletter read “Canucks show who’s No. 1 by beating Blues,” a story that would have been relevant at the end of last week, but now seems a little late and off the mark. Click through to the NHL’s website and you’ll see nothing of the Blues’ recent success, despite being on a hot streak and gaining the No. 1 position. ESPN.com seems to have also forgotten that the Blues still exist.
This past Wednesday, Bleacher Report’s Nicholas Goss put together his list of the “NHL’s 50 Players Who Will Decide the Stanley Cup Playoffs.” Included were all the big names and favored teams you’d expect: New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Detroit, Boston, etc. The only Blues mention was Jaroslav Halak, the seemingly unstoppable goalie who’s been swapping shifts with the surprise All-Star Brian Elliot. The Hockey News recently put out its own Top 50 list, and to no one’s surprise, St. Louis is nowhere to be found. How long will it take before sports reporters learn the names T.J. Oshie, David Backes, andy McDonald, and Alex Pietrangelo?

Blues goaltender, Jaroslav Halak, once played for the now defunct Long Beach Ice Dogs in the ECHL.

Maybe this rant is premature. We probably need to finish this season strong to earn a better showing in next season’s All-Star game. Some of our well-known players name’s might carry little weight outside St. Louis because they’re still growing and proving themselves. We have historically tended to be one of the youngest teams in the NHL, after all. But the 200-2012 season is the perfect underdog story that the media loves to tell. The rivalry match-ups this year have been intense, to say the least: The Blues recently bested Chicago 5-1! So maybe this Cinderella story won’t come into focus until it’s complete, but the team has fought hard for their spot as a top contender and it’s clear they’ll be appearing in the post season this year. Is some recognition for their achievements in the here and now too much to ask for?

The current landing page for the Blues' website. This quote is perfect.

McCourt and Pujols: How to Lose Fans and Alienate People

February 20, 2012 Leave a comment

First off, let me start by saying that I’m not a huge baseball fan, but being from St. Louis, I sometimes consider myself a Cardinals fan by default. St. Louis is, after all, a baseball town. That said, I do love sports. I do love being a part of the game day festivities. I do love when my city wins.  And I do love celebrating my city. Call me a fairweather fan, but I think I’m in a nice position of being able to “Go Crazy!” when the Cards win, but not ending up in tears when they lose. Now that I live in Long Beach, I have two MLB teams located roughly the same distance away from me and I see just as many people wearing Angels gear as I do Dodgers. Unfortunately, baseball in LA has already put a bad taste in my mouth.

Dodger Drama

The drama started before I even moved out to California. Maybe bringing hotshot “Lazy” Ramirez to LA was a bad omen. Former Dodger owner Frank McCourt has generated more negative attention toward himself and his team than I can express. For months it seemed like the morning headlines on KPCC had something to report involving the drama of McCourt’s infamous divorce proceedings, charity scandal, and ownership problems. The year after being proclaimed “Power Couple of the Year” by the Los Angeles Business Journal, the McCourts decided to split, and Frank fired his wife from her position as the “First Female” Dodger CEO the day after the team was eliminated from the playoffs. Maybe she deserved it after having an affair and dipping into the team’s bank account to pay for her lavish lifestyle, but Frank wasn’t much better, and personally benefited from some $130 million of Dodger money in the form of personal dividend payments to himself. After fighting over who owned what portion of the team, Major League Baseball itself was called in to bring a quick end to the drama. Deals were made, and then rejected, while McCourt struggled to find the money to pay the team he was fighting for. Eventually the team filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy and the MLB put the team up for sale. Then there was the salary of Howard Sunkin, Frank’s buddy and chief executive of The Dream Foundation- the charitable arm of the Dodgers- which was nearly equal to one-fourth of the charity’s entire budget.
After all this, the Dodgers still don’t have an owner and are suffering from a tarnished reputation. This gross display of greed, ineptitude, and corruption on the part of the McCourts has no place in professional sports. Here we have a man who continually raised ticket prices beyond what most teams dare to charge, failed to meet payroll obligations for his players, and involved one of the most storied baseball franchises in history in his personal affairs, all while raking in wild profits to support his image and lifestyle. And I haven’t even mentioned the beating of Giant fan Brian Stowe.

A Tale of Betrayal

Fast forward to December 2011. After leading the Cardinals to their 11th World Series victory, Albert Pujols was suddenly a free agent and the rumors began to fly. Of course we all thought he would re-sign with St. Louis. And by “we all,” I mean pretty much everyone who knew who he was.
Pujols is a St. Louis icon. He is part owner in a restaurant that bares his name. He began some ambitious and highly successful charity work there. There is an adult mental health facility named after him. He helped the Cardinals to the World Series three times, and won it twice.  He was given the nickname “El Hombre” by St. Louis fans. Unfortunately, he is also partly responsible for shutting down the only classical music station in the region (the 62-year-old Classic 99) to replace it with the christian rock station Joy FM, even though Joy Fm already had a home on two frequencies. Despite the loads of evidence suggesting Pujols would remain a Cardinal, he left town as soon as the LA Angels offered a bigger, better contract. Money, not loyalty, no matter what Albert and his wife might say, was the real issue here. Now all along the freeways in Los Angeles and the surrounding areas, you’ll find billboards depicting Pujols from the rear, swinging for the fences, alongside captions like “El Hombre,” “Big A,” “Now PlAying,” and “OMG!” How convenient that the Cardinals colors also happen to be red and white- they didn’t even have to photoshop Albert into an Angel’s jersey!

I couldn’t help but smirk and even cheer after reading Tom Schlafly’s most recent Top Fermentation column, where he, with tongue in cheek, quotes “Casey At The Bat:”

Oh, somewhere in this favoured land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
And in Mudville there is Joy-FM‚—Albert Pujols has sold out.
Unfortunately, the Cards don’t play the Angels this next season. So this spring when the Cardinals do come to Los Angeles, for a three-game series against the Dodgers, I’ll hope to grab a seat near the visiting bullpen for all three nights. If you’d like to join me to help pray away the parking-lot assault, you’re more than welcome.