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Indy 500 Time!

May 27, 2012

Yup, I’m actually blogging today. I know, I know, it’s been awhile since I’ve written anything. You can’t blame a girl for stepping away from the keyboard for a bit.  It’s no coincidence that my hiatus from blogging hit during the Sabres January swoon. There’s only so many different ways that one can say “for the love of god, these guys suck.”

So today I’m back, and I’m writing my annual live blog of the Indy 500.

11:15am – ABC is showing a tribute to last year’s Indy 500 winner, the late Dan Wheldon. Wheldon was killed in a horrible wreck in last year’s Indycar season finale in Las Vegas. The network sat down with Wheldon’s fellow drivers and widow Susie for an emotional and powerful interview to discuss his career, Indy win and life outside the track with his two beautiful children Sebastian and Oliver. I’m not ashamed to admit that it brought tears to my eyes.

11:50am – After a lunch break, I return to watch the debut of James Hinchcliffe’s ad campaign to succeed Danica Patrick on the GoDaddy homepage. (Hinch took over Patrick’s GoDaddy sponsored Indy car this season after Patrick left to chase her NASCAR dreams.) I highly approve of Hinch’s effort as this dude is charming, witty, Canadian, has a great social media presence, and has no problem making a complete and utter ass of himself. I mean, how many athletes do you know that are willing to film themselves going through a dog wash?

12:00pm – Driver introductions include a special guest – Bullseye the Target dog. I apologize to Mr. Bullseye, but he is in no way the most famous dog in the great state of Indiana. That honor goes to the tweeting bulldogs of Butler University – Blue 2 and Blue 3.

12:05pm – The persons at ABC that are responsible for the features during this broadcast deserve a ton of kudos. The visit to Arlington with a veteran’s mother to visit her son’s grave was incredibly well done. It put into proper context what this weekend is about. I would be remiss in not thanking all of the veterans out there for their service.

12:10pm – In case you were wondering, a fire suit can be made for a pregnant lady. ESPN pit reporter Jamie Little is pregnant and is wearing a maternity fire suit so she can work in the pits safely.

12:16pm – Green. green, green! The drivers make it through Turn 4 in eleven beautiful rows of three before snarfing it all up on the front stretch, as the grid becomes a free-for-all as they pass the start line. Ryan Briscoe takes the green flag in first position before engaging in quite the duel with James Hinchcliffe.

12:23pm – The first pass for the lead occurs as James Hinchcliffe passes Ryan Briscoe.

12:29pm – The first yellow occurs as Bryan Clausen spins on the front stretch on Lap 14.

12:32 – Pit road ruckus! EJ Viso punts Dario Franchitti in rear on pit road, sending Franchitti spinning into another pit box, luckily not hitting a person, just a tire. Franchitti requires extra time in the pits to put a new nose on the car. Estimated price tag of that carbon fiber nose & wing assembly: $12,000. Franchitti drops to last place on the grid.

12:36pm – The restart from this yellow flag leads to a five wide stampede down the front stretch. It’s a miracle they all made it to and through Turn 1 without someone going on Mr. Toad’s wild Ride.

12:42pm – Broadcaster Eddie Cheever gives us our first physics lesson of the day: two cars driving together move faster than one car driving on its own.

1:11pm – Brett Mussburger brings up “The Andretti Curse,” discussing the numerous ways that the Andretti family has snatched defeat from the jaws of victory at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I feel that bringing up The Curse this early in the race is a way of tempting the racing gods. (If you think the hockey gods are vicious, they ain’t got nothing on the racing gods.)

1:20pm – More pit road shenanigans. Mike Conway comes in for a penalty after hitting two of his crewmen during a pitstop.

1:21pm – While exiting the pits after his penalty, Conway gets loose while getting back up to speed and spins, collecting Australian driver Will Power along with him. During the wreck, Conway’s car gets up on his side and skims the top of the outside retaining wall. I shudder when Indy cars get airborne, as so much of the driver’s head and torso is exposed and ready to make contact with walls, fences, etc. Thankfully, both Conway and Power are ok.

1:25pm – Conway’s car owner AJ Foyt reports that Conway got squirrelly (technical term) on the track as a result of a broken front wing from colliding with his fuel man. I guess I’m a little confused as to why Conway couldn’t come in and fix his front wing before serving his penalty for colliding with his fuel man? You would think that safety would come before penalty, but what do I know from racing rules?

1:36pm – Scott Goodyear continues his “Racing Commentary for Dummies” lesson by explaining that oversteer means that the back end wants to pass the front end. This insightful commentary comes during an explanation of how Brazilian driver Ana Beatriz spun out. Scott Goodyear is like the Pierre McGuire of racing, but with 50% less creepiness.

1:37pm – Its shocking to see how much of the pit road grandstand is empty. The broadcasters assure us at home that the seats were sold, but it’s just so horribly hot in Indy that people are looking for any shade possible. Now, I’ve sat in races in hot weather and gotten the sunburns to prove it. Most people don’t get up and leave, preferring instead to sweat it out, knowing that the burn of hot aluminum will be much worse than any sun, sweat or grossness that will result from staying put.

1:46pm – The camera finds Dan Wheldon’s widow Susie on pit road. She’s watching the race on a computer monitor from the relative shade of a war wagon. Good for her for making it to the track today for the race.

1:53pm – Marco Andretti reports at just over the halfway mark that it’s so hot in his car that his boot is starting to melt to his metal gas petal. The weather in Indianapolis is just over 90 degrees, and the race reporters are sharing that both the air temperature and the track temperature are increasing.

2:55pm – Ed Carpenter spins from the third position and miraculously does not hit the wall or any other cars. That spin was a “hang on for dear life and ask for a clean pair of shorts when you get back to the pits” kind of spin, as at least four cars came incredibly close to hitting him mid-spin.

3:01pm – After one hell of a chaotic restart, Brazillian driver Tony Kanaan pole vaults from 6th place to the lead of the race. He holds the lead for one lap before being overtaken by Dario Franchitti.

3:05pm – The Andretti curse strikes again, as Marco crashes hard into Turn 1. It appears that his car hit the white line and he just spun out. Marco’s wreck happened just as Tony Kanaan made a beautiful pass for the lead (and the crowd went wild).

3:12pm – The restart after Andretti’s caution allows four cars to get around Kanaan, putting him back in fourth place.

3:19pm – A battle for the lead between Takuma Sato and Dario Franchitti ends in Turn 1 of the final lap as Sato spins it out trying to make a pass. Franchitti wins the 500 under yellow for his third Indy title. That’s right, he came from DFL after the first pitstop to win the race.

3:24pm – After racing 500 miles, Franchitti’s hair in Victory Lane is perfectly coiffed. He pulls on the traditional victor’s wreath and dumps the bottle of milk over his head. As I sit here in the comfort of my air conditioned living room, I can’t help but think how nasty his fire suit has to smell between the sweat, milk and other body fluids that shall remain nameless.

3:27pm – Franchitti’s wife, actress Ashley Judd, arrives in Victory Lane for smooches & celebrations & weeping. There’s also a nice touch of bagpipers playing in the background. I would expect nothing else for a gentleman from Scotland.

I have to say that it was refreshing to see an Indy 500 without the umpteen updates discussing what/where/who Danica Patrick is doing. I’m glad to see Franchitti win even though a last lap wreck is not how I wanted to see him win.

 

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It’s So Eggciting

January 14, 2012

In an article in Thursday’s Buffalo News, Sabres owner Terry Pegula compared the Sabres to that famous egg Humpty Dumpty, claiming that the Sabres would get better once all the pieces fell into place again. This comparison does make some sense if you forget the fact that Humpty Dumpty suffered irreparable damage that none of the kings horses nor men could fix. (And why are horses trying to fix an egg, anyway?)

Just think about it for a minute. Sometimes, when you have a broken egg, you can add a few tasty ingredients and some cooking skill and end up with a delicious omelette. If the Sabres trade away one of their current eggy bits, they may get some tasty ingredients in return. A little magic from Chef Lindy and poof…we have an omelette. Whether it’s a Stanley Cup winning omelette is a discussion for another day.

I can also see the Humpty Dumpty analogy working in a slightly different way. Imagine Lindy placing a cardboard cutout of Humpty in the locker room. Every time an injured player returns or the team wins a game, part of Humpty is put back in place. By the time the season is over, the egg should be whole again. Humpty could become this season’s version of The Pigeon, accompanying the team on road trips and playing a prominent role in post game interviews.

And because this post isn’t cracked enough, I leave you with another famous Humpty…The Humpty Dance, that is. Enjoy!

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Post Hoc…

December 21, 2011

…ergo propter hoc.

The above line is the title of the second West Wing episode of the first season and translates roughly to “after it, therefore because of it.” This line keeps running through my head when people bring up one specific reason for Miller’s streak of average play.

Some of those “in the know” are theorizing that Miller’s marriage is the cause of his less than spectacular play of late; that his thoughts are with his sweetums back in California instead of focused on the ice in Buffalo. The “after the wedding, therefore because of the wedding” explanation for his poor play is a joke.  I mean, unless his wedding ring is somehow giving him flesh eating disease or he’s indebted to Russian gangsters as a result of the festivities, what happens in his personal life shouldn’t be used as a justification for poor play UNLESS MILLER CHOOSES TO MAKE THAT EXCUSE. And, he hasn’t. The “woman equals bad” argument also becomes even more ridiculous when those “in the know” point out that he was playing so well in the 2010 Olympics. Well guess what, he was dating his now-wife while playing some fantastic hockey.

Call Miller out for his hockey performance (or lack thereof), but leave his wife out of it until she’s done something to deserve the press. The end.

Before I fall off my soapbox, in case you want to see the “post hoc ergo proper hoc” scene from The West Wing, you can watch it here. It’s worth the viewing, just for Richard Schiff’s impish little grin.

 

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They Shouldn’t Give Up Their Day Job

December 8, 2011

So while perusing the internets, I stumbled across two of the newest commercials from the fine folks at Dave & Adams Card World.

Sad Pommers and Sad Tyler are just too much. Also, a jpg of players holding a “sale” sign should be included with every single Darcy Regier trade proposal. How could a GM say no to a hockey player holding a for sale sign?

This one is just noteworthy because of Pominville’s barely restrained laughter and Myers exuberance at having a whole two lines to say.

This is what the Sabres have driven me to; critiquing their commercials.

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Black Friday at the Sabres Store

November 25, 2011

I’m not a fan of Black Friday shopping. I hate crowds. I hate being crowded. I hate getting stumbled into because people need to have that thing that’s on sale OMG RIGHT NOW! So of course, what do I do today? I go to the Sabres store for their Black Friday sale. There were A LOT of people at the store when I got there at ten after ten.

There were some things the store did right and some things that they could fix. And of course, since I can’t find the darn suggestion box on the Sabres site (whether it’s buried or removed is to be determined), I’m blogging about the experience. Let the record show that I recognize that problems with shopping are a total first world problem and that there are much bigger problems for the organization to be dealing with. Like that whole pesky “can’t win at home” thing or that troublesome “keeps giving up two goal leads” thing.

Since the store was incredibly busy, the Sabres had all the registers open, and all six register lines snaked through the store. People were handling the crowding well and moving around the store politely (there were lots of “excuse me’s” to be had). However, let’s talk briefly about the few things that can be fixed or altered to improve the shopping experience for future Black Fridays.

1. Make a cash-only line. I know, it’s radical for people to pay with cash these days, but a cash-only line would allow for customers to move in and out without having to wait for people to swipe cards, sign receipts and the like.

2. Have a table set off to the side/back/front of the store so that people could complete the required paperwork for custom jersey orders without having to delay the rest of the line. If you were buying a custom sweater, you had to have a 3×5 card filled out with your contact info & the size/color/personalization of the sweater you were buying. The cashier then had to match up your 3×5 card with the receipt number so the transaction payment was reflected on the card. If you were someone that was buying multiple sweaters, you were holding up the line just filling out paperwork. I think the management realized that this was somewhat problematic, as they did have people walking the lines to assist in filling out the cards, but these staffers just could not reach everyone.

3. Set up a kiosk or table outside the store for people that just wanted to buy Sabrebucks cards.

4. Have the registers set up to accept UPC code scanning. This was the strangest thing for me. Each item had a UPC code on the tag, which meant that at some point in it’s journey through the Sabres store, it was scanned. However, the cashiers had to individually enter each product code into the register AND enter the code for the 30% discount. It seemed like there were a lot of extraneous steps for what should be simple transactions.

Not that everything was all bad…

1. The store was incredibly clean and organized. The staff was working hard to keep merchandise racks full and neatly organized. There were also plenty of people walking around on the floor assisting customers. The Sabres seriously need to export this level of customer service  & organization to some of the big box stores, where one busy day makes the entire store disheveled.

2. There was a gift wrap table set up outside the store. I have no idea what organization this table was benefitting, but it was obviously good for those people that needed things wrapped immediately to avoid prying eyes.

3. The free Tim Hortons was a nice touch for those people leaving the arena after shopping.

4. The organist playing Christmas songs & game tunes on his keyboard added a festive touch to the shopping experience. I did get a giggle out of hearing Silent Night segue into Let’s Go Buffalo segue into Sabre Dance. And there was this one precious little girl using the organ music to practice her ballet moves. The only downside to the music was that it was pretty loud. You had to shout to be heard at the registers.

5. Did I mention the free parking was awesome? Because it was. I wonder if the free parking was one of the main reasons the crowd was so large? In past years, I can remember having to search for an on-street parking space or take a risk double parking.

And because I’ve been on a YouTube kick lately, I want to end this post with one of my favorite scenes from A Charlie Brown Christmas, just because it’s so precious and does deal with a lot of the materialism of the season.

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Some of This, Some of That

November 22, 2011

- Did anything further ever come out of Sully’s comment on Twitter last week about Miller remarking that the media is lucky that the Sabres let them in the locker room? Was this just a teaser comment, an airing of dirty laundry or something said publicly that shouldn’t have been?

- If the Buffalo media thinks Sabres players can be difficult to deal with at times, would they like to trade places with the NASCAR media that deals with Kurt Busch? During the course of this past NASCAR season, Mr. Busch has accused an AP reporter of fabricating a quote, ripped up the transcript of said quote when confronted with the actual words, and called noted ESPN reporter Jerry Punch a mother-effer (NSFW).These antics make Cranky Miller or Angry Lindy look like a Sunday stroll through Forest Lawn.

- Is Vanek’s ‘stache part of the Movember movement, or is he just growing it for kicks and giggles? Does he feel the need to start growing some facial hair so that he can be the Sabres player with the most talked about facial hair? Vanek doesn’t appear to be one of those guys that shaves at 8am and has a 5 o’clock shadow by 10am, so I really want to see where he’s going with this.

- I think it’s awesome that Biznasty scored a goal on the night where his mother was in the audience for the first time. That’s really not bad for a hockey player that has more Twitter cred than hockey player cred. It’s also cute that Mama BizNasty doesn’t mind the topics of her son’s Tweets, but minds that they have bad grammar.

- I would rather the Sabres take two points against the Bruins tomorrow night than have some massive retaliation or stupid fight result in a Shanaban. Call me a wussy, but the big picture is what matters.

- And because this post isn’t completely random enough, here’s one of my favorite Thanksgiving clips:

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An Opinion on an Opinion

November 11, 2011

So by now I’m sure we’ve all read or heard about Bucky’s column in today’s paper. I don’t disagree with the News’ decision to publish a column about Pegula & Penn State, nor do I disagree with the need to ask Pegula about his thoughts on what’s happening in Happy Valley. This is a story that transcends whether one is a college football fan or a graduate of the school. This story is no longer just a sports story, it’s now a “real” news story.

What I do disagree with is the apparent need for Pegula to immediately be all fire & brimstone in public, immediately revoking his donation, burning his PSU diploma, wearing sackcloth & ashes or whatever else he needs to do to show his hate and rage. While Pegula has spoken openly & warmly about his love for Penn State, I don’t doubt that he is even more shocked and horrified than non-alumni by what has happened at his beloved college. However, is it any of our business who he talked to, when he talked to them or whatever? I’m sure conversations have been had ($88 million is a lot of money for PSU to gamble with), but who am I to judge T-Pegs reactions as appropriate or not?

As much as he may be hurt by what happened at PSU, I can understand why Pegula is not reneging on his financial commitment to the school. The hockey kids had nothing to do with the football team follies & mismanagement. Why punish them for the indefensible actions of a few? On the other hand, if Pegula would have requested the money back, I can only imagine the word artistry & legal shenanigans that would ensue.

With all of that said, I’m stepping off my soapbox now and moving on to much more lighthearted fare. You know, like this photo gallery, where Cody McCormick’s hat and Derek Roy’s tastefully arranged scarf battle for the title of most surprising accessory found in the Sabres locker room. (If the photo link doesn’t work for you, head to the Sabres Facebook page. It’s the photo gallery labeled “Veterans Day.”) The scarf is artfully draped around Roy’s neck, but McCormick’s hat has that certain je nais se quois that makes it truly special.

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