Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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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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Marketing to Women Sports Fans

June 26, 2011

I was catching up on some of my e-newsletter reading at the office when I came across this MediaPost column in my queue. In case you don’t feel like clicking through and reading the whole thing, the gist of the article is that women remain an untapped market for sports teams, that teams are often just scratching the surface of what it means to get females involved with their particular sport.

However, do females really need special marketing tactics? The advertising/marketing side of my brain says they absolutely do. But the sports fan side of my brain says no. The game should be what sells or creates fandom, not special marketing techniques. For example, ladies should be able to appreciate the finer points of a 5-on-3 penalty kill without having to be talked down to or reminded that the players are pretty when their helmets are off.

I do have complaints about three things the writer mentions (or doesn’t) in his column.

1. He neglects to mention the NHL as a major sport. I understand that for 95% of America, the NHL is just the sport played by some crazy Canadians with a few, good, honest Americans and no-good Russians thrown in. (And if this Nielsen poll is to be believed, America really doesn’t know it’s ass from a hockey puck when it comes to the NHL. Take a look at number 6 on the list to see what I mean.) However, I would think the most recent ratings from this year’s Cup Finals would have shown that the NHL is still alive and kicking.

2. Using Alyssa Milano’s apparel line as an example of connecting with female fans. While I do commend her for trying to make sports apparel more lady-friendly, it appears to lack some mass market appeal. Baby tees and form fitting shirts only appeal to certain ladies who can fit into them. If you don’t have the perfect body type, most ladies sports apparel is off-limits to you. And don’t even get me started on pink apparel, LOL.

3. Suggesting that women will pay more attention to the sport if we’re given more human interest features. This idea is both bad and good. On the bad side, everyone complains during the Olympics when we’re told the sad tale of woe of the athlete from Tralalalastan who survived brutal beatings, the death of his parents, the loss of a beloved dog and a cross country run barefoot to make the games. We all just want the story to end so we can watch the action. The stories will write themselves. What’s the old adage? Show not tell? Show me the competition so I can determine who to root for. Don’t tell me who to root for.

On the other hand, I know I have advocated that intermission breaks during Sabres games should include more of the human interest stuff. Will seeing team members visiting sick kids or palling around with Sabretooth create new fans? Probably not. But it does bring forth the personality of the players on the ice. And most of these players do have personality & character in spades. It’s a very fine line, I guess. You don’t want to alienate people by forcing them to root for the guy with the biggest sob story, but you also need to promote the guys on the field/ice.

I can completely sympathize with teams as they tackle this marketing conundrum. You don’t want to be patronizing, ignore women completely nor turn your players into pieces of meat for women to ogle. It’s situations like this that make you almost wish the product on the field/ice was enough to sell itself.

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The Greatest Spectacle in Racing…and Viewing: The Indy 500

May 29, 2011

I’ve been fairly blunt about the fact that I like auto racing. Today marks the 100th anniversary of the Indy 500. Aside from a brief interruption for WWII, the race has been run continuously since 1911. It was great to see a lot of the old winning cars driven around the track in today’s pre-race ceremonies.

This year was also unique in that there were four women in the field of 33, which is the most ever for an Indy race. It’s no secret that I am not really a fan of Danica Patrick. I get annoyed by her whining, sense of entitlement and quite obvious willingness to trade on her sex appeal (and ensuing complaints that she really is more than just a pretty girl.) But I digress. I would have been thrilled to see a woman win today’s race, especially if that woman was Simona deSilvestro. She is quite the BAMF, driving this race with 1st & 2nd degree burns on her hands after this wreck earlier this month.

I turn into a baby if I accidentally touch a hot pot. I can’t imagine what it feels like to drive a racecar for hours on end with severe burns on the hands. That takes (lady) balls to do so.

This year’s race also had some added drama during qualifying. At Indy, the rule is that the fastest 33 CARS qualify, not the fastest 33 DRIVERS. I know what you’re thinking: how can that work with how driver & sponsor contracts are structured? Well, trust me. It somehow does. And usually, the fastest 33 cars qualified by the fastest 33 drivers do take the green flag on Memorial Day weekend. However, this time, we had a bit of a situation. Ryan Hunter-Reay – an American driver with a fully funded, sponsored ride at Andretti Autosport – failed to make the field. If this was any other race, RHR would be a good teammate and spend the race schmoozing in a hospitality tent somewhere. But since this is INDY and RHR has PAYING sponsors, his team owner (Michael Andretti) pulled out his checkbook and made a deal with fellow team owner (and Indy legend) AJ Foyt. Foyt kicked out his driver, Bruno Junquiera, and replaced him with Hunter-Reay. The car’s paint scheme was a combination of the two team’s sponsors.

This deal – while technically legal within the letter of the law – violated the spirit of the law. The Andretti team should have accepted their fate and learned from it. Instead, they caused a lot of ruckus and upset feelings both within the Indycar driver/team family and with the fans. Twitter this past week had been an enlightening source of discussion regarding this situation, as many drivers & fans have taken their 140 character allotment to discuss their displeasure with Andretti & Foyt’s actions. Neither Andretti nor Foyt won themselves any new fans with this maneuver.

- From the fun stats file, Graham Rahal competed today on the 25th anniversary of his father Bobby winning his only 500 race.

- After watching today’s race, I’m more convinced than ever that Scott Goodyear is the racing equivalent of Pierre McGuire. No, I don’t mean the designated short, kind-of-creepy Canadian. I mean the “hey, I’m going to say something completely redundant and obvious now” kind of broadcaster. This point was driven home when Goodyear mentioned that the cars that drove in the first 500 were vastly different from the cars that are racing today. Umm…duh? Who wouldn’t know that? That’s like me saying a Ford Focus is drastically different than a Model T. I think we’re all aware of that.

- I’m officially hating that I was subjected to a Weezer song (that I like) approximately 87,000 times during the course of this race because the song is a background of an Izod commercial. (Izod being a series sponsor, mind you.)

- The start of the race is supposed to be all cars rolling in rows of three. Well, they come close. If by three you mean two cars, then one car, then three cars. In other words, their competitive spirit got the best of them and they all forgot how to freaking count.

- I spent a lot of the (very frequent) commercial breaks reading this article from ESPN regarding the last days of Derek Boogaard. It’s a beautiful piece of writing, and really does summarize Boogaard’s troubles without venturing too far into salacious tabloid territory.

- During the first series of pit stops, a miscommunication between crew members at the front & back of the car allowed Will Power to leave the pits before one of his rear tires was fully secured. As a result, Power pulls away and the tire goes bouncing down pit road, thankfully not seriously hitting any other crew members or cars. Power is forced to limp back around the track and get a new tire. Everyone sing with me: “you picked a fine time to leave me, loose wheel.” Yea, I know that’s not an original joke at all. Deal with it.

- Poor KV Racing: the first two cautions of the race were caused by their cars wrecking. This scenario is not a new development for KV, as their drivers tend to crash more often than your average driver. I believe last year they ran through something like 40 wrecks through four drivers in a 17 race season. In other words, they rack up quite a bill for parts, chassis & tires.

- Speaking of wrecks, the drivers were darn lucky there weren’t more of them today. This race utilized a different restart procedure. Normally, any race restarts at Indy are done single file. This year, the series altered the rules to make double-file restarts the norm. This led to many drivers trying to take things 3-4-5 wide at some points, including one special snowflake who almost bounced off a stanchion that starts the wall that divides put road from the track. Things could have gotten ugly very quickly, but thankfully, they did not.

- During a long series of green flag laps, we’re told that one of the drivers in today’s race, Charlie Kimball, is a diabetic. His insulin is constantly monitored during the race, with the readouts appearing on the steering wheel. If his insulin level reaches a certain threshold, Kimball receives an insulin shot on the next possible pit stop. His tire changer, after finishing his tire changing duties, stabs a pre-set insulin needle into Kimball’s leg (through the firesuit and everything) and Kimball then goes back about his business of driving the race car. Raise your hand if you started wincing after hearing that. I hope the adrenaline from driving the car deadens the pain of the needle, as this just sounds like it would hurt. Thankfully, we did not need to see this procedure carried out in the pits today.

- Poor JR Hildebrand. He’s going to be the headline on Sportscenter tonight and for all the wrong reasons. He was leading the race, and on the final corner, while avoiding a slower car, he got out of the main racing line and took it into the wall. While he was plenty angsty on the track while waiting for a ride back to the pits, by the time he spoke with the media, he had completely regained his composure. You could tell that he was upset, and disappointed for his team, but at the same time, he took 100% full responsibility for overdriving the car right into the wall. I guess we can say that while Dan Wheldon won the Indy 500, JR Hildebrand won the Indy 499.75.

And finally, on this Memorial Day weekend, to all that have served, will serve or are serving now, I say thank you. This is the land of the free because of the brave.

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You Know…

April 13, 2011

- If Miller was THIS EXCITED about just making the playoffs, can you imagine how freaking excited he’s going to be once this team actually WINS something in the playoffs?

- The fake Butler & Stafford Twitter accounts that were set up within the past 72 hours are just completely repulsive and taking things way too far. Parody or satire accounts are one thing, impersonation and cruel/inappropriate/disgusting remarks are not. Shame on whomever pulled that stunt.

- If you haven’t read ESPN’s list of the 75 reasons the playoffs are great, please go and do so right now. Nice work by all involved in capturing why this sport is so great at this time of year.

- In case you’re wondering, in Round 1, I’m pulling for the following teams: Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Montreal, Rangers, Coyotes, Ducks, Canucks and Sharks. Regardless of who wins each series, I hope that we have some good, clean, exciting hockey to look forward to with no to minimal shenanigans by the players or the fans.

Go Sabres!

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Well, Finally

October 21, 2010

I knew those little stinkers would finally win a game. Despite the excitement of a winning hockey game, I fell asleep shortly after Vanek’s goal. Did I miss much? Yeah, didn’t think so. Now here’s a couple quick thoughts:

- You must look at the photo accompanying the game story in the hard copy of today’s TBN. Staffy looks like you just told him that he won the Stanley Cup and a Grammy on the same day, while Vanek appears to be passing a kidney stone.  It’s quite the ridiculous photo, but it’s making me smile.

- The empty seats in Atlanta were quite disheartening to see as a hockey fan. I’d still bet that the only reason the team is still around is because the league makes money off all the “Yankee” transplants coming to see their hometown team.

- I was quite saddened to see the Yankees win yesterday. I am not a Yankees fan (that’s what having a Mets fan for a father does to you) by any means, so I do delight in seeing them struggle. The ad geek in me knows that media buyers & advertisers would salivate over a Yanks/Giants World Series just because of the size of the media markets involved (not to mention the notoriety of the aforementioned Yankees), but I always root for the underdogs. So go Rangers! And that shall be the last time those words are even written on this blog.

- And I’m betting 5 games in the “how long will Rypien be suspended for” pool. Manhandling a fan – a paying customer – must rank slightly higher on Colie Campbell’s Wheel O’Justice that mimicked fellatio and head injuries, right?

 

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Happy Birthday USA

July 4, 2010

I have a hockey post in the hopper, but it needs some serious tweaking. So in the interim, please enjoy the Muppets on this Fourth of July.

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