The football playoffs have taught us all something.
Expectations, nor pedigree, mean anything in the playoffs. The New York Jets have rolled by two of the hallmark quarterbacks in the NFL in Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. Neither were easy victories for the Jets, but it just goes to show. Rings nor pedigree mean a thing.
Then look at the other end. The Eagles were touted as a “favorite”, so to speak (even though the makeup of their team was flawed from day one) and blammo, gone. Jay Culter doesn’t exactly have the pedigree, but here he is, in the championship game to fight for the right to get to the Super Bowl.
It’s always been something I’ve always wondered about. Do rings automatically give your team an edge in the playoffs? I don’t seem to think so. Last season, the Philadelphia Flyers only had one Stanley Cup championship winner on their team in Chris Pronger. Something tells me it just means nothing.
Honestly, it takes playoff experience to do well in the playoffs–a bunch of kids won’t make a bunch of noise without some seasoning. But the degree of how many championship winners a team has is not something I think makes sense. Look no further than the Pittsburgh Penguins. The team was wonderful during the regular season, but were ousted in the first round of their first foray with Sid the Kid and company. The next two years, they made it to the Finals, with one Cup under their belt.
Does that play favor to Pittsburgh’s playoff success this year? They”ll know what it takes to win, but I doubt it gives them automatic rights to the championship. Pundits love to give teams just free right to the championship just because they won it before.
Not sure if I like that assessment.
What do you out there in the world think? Should expectations be thrust so willy-nilly on teams just because of favoritism? As they say, the teams have to play the game to get the result. Look no further than the Seattle Seahawks and the New Orleans Saints. You tell me how many people bet against the Saints.
They play the game for the reason.
Funny how this blog is coming from a Philadelphia fan himself, but I have to say this.
After scouring the Flyers message boards, or looking at numerous comments on news outlets and blogs, listening to Philly sports talk radio and talking to the personalities that back those stations up, it has come to my attention that reactionary opinion is the most outstanding trait that plagues this fanbase.
I’ll go on what today brought us. The Eagles lost 21-16. It was a game that was full of mistakes, and ones that they can’t go back and fix. It’s done. Game over. The Packers are moving on. But at the end of the game, cries of “fire Reid” and “fire McDermott” and “trade Celek” and “release Akers” come from everywhere, and it’s a shame.
I have one piece of advice. Shut up. If you have no good argument, then get over yourselves. All too often on sports talk, the hosts need to put these callers in their places. We may be a passionate fanbase, but we’re not always the brightest. You can’t just say these things without backing yourself up.
Okay, fine, Reid isn’t the best at clock management. McDermott doesn’t utilize his lacking defense well. The trade Celek thing came out of nowhere. Akers has been a reliable kicker for several years. This team is successful, just not…all-the-way successful.
Would you like to be a team like the Carolina Panthers right now? I thought so.
Get over yourselves.
One of the worst things I heard post-loss is that Pitchers and Catchers report in 35 days or so. Yeah…while that’s exciting, did anyone remember there’s a team that is first place in the Eastern Conference, dominating some of the most powerful teams in the National Hockey League? You know, the team that reached the Stanley Cup Finals last year?
Honestly, this blog post is a little hypocritical. I mean there were times on my NHL Fans blog that during the Flyers’ long rut of losses that I thought they would never dig themselves out of their issues, and that it would be absolutely hilarious if they didn’t even make the playoffs. And yet somehow I stuck with them, and each playoff victory was like a developing dream. I have reserved myself to eating my words that I said. It’s all about faith.
“There’s always next year.”
I will say this. When we band together in victory, it is a wonderful experience. But once defeat touches us, it’s like the world is crumbling, and everyone has done everything wrong. Can we not reserve ourselves to say a better opponent defeated us?
We have gone through Ryan Howard striking out looking against Brian Wilson. We lost to the eventual World Champions. How about when the Phillies lost to the Yankees? We lost to a better team. The Flyers against the Blackhawks? The Hawks were admittedly better. The Eagles and Cowboys last year? They were better. Packers and Eagles were rather evenly matched this time around, they just made less mistakes.
It all happens. So when in doubt, just get over yourselves, there’s always next year, and whatever happens will happen.
We’ve seen the same commercial on many networks for the past few months. We see Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin standing across from each other at Heinz Field as the elements come pouring down on them. Two faces of the NHL stand ready for battle.
Yeah, too bad these two players didn’t factor on the scoresheet in this game, and the marketing was so focused on these “factors” where they weren’t even factors in the game to start with. Crosby had a couple of nice passes on his typical move to the point, but that’s about it. Ovechkin had a goal waved off with four minutes left in the third.
There were quite a few things I found that were wrong with this Winter Classic.
The first was location. Pittsburgh, and not only Pittsburgh, but a relatively new arena in Heinz Field. In the past, Winter Classics were held in classic venues like Ralph Wilson Stadium (built in 1973), Wrigley Field (built in 1914), Fenway Park (built in 1912)
…but Heinz Field? That was built in 2001! It doesn’t seem like a classic venue by any stretch. Part of the feel of the Winter Classic dealt with these classic venues. It added a special ambience that the NHL could build on.
Also, Pittsburgh again? I mean, give us hockey fans a break and give us something else. Rumor has it the Flyers and the Penguins may be going at it in a Winter Classic next year. Yeah, sure, ratings, yeah, I’ve heard it before, but come on. Even if it’s the Flyers in another classic, I won’t be the slightest bit happy.
Other teams deserve a chance.
Secondly, the marketing for this game was so off. I mentioned this earlier, but the marketing for this game dealt with two players, and that’s it. The Winter Classic proved hockey’s truest fact—it is a team game; it won’t be dominated by these two players all the time. Eric Fehr and Mike Knuble factored in the scoring for the winning Washington Capitals.
I’m pretty sure first-time viewers were thinking Ovechkin would give you a hat trick in this one. But I didn’t notice him over any other player out there.
Thirdly, this rivalry has needed so much exposure to exist…it doesn’t feel like a rivalry. Back in the day, the Flyers had a huge rivalry with Boston, but they didn’t need constant media exposure to make it happen. How about when Detroit and Colorado had those gigantic battles back in the day. That was a real rivalry fueled by team star power, and some really key moments.
It’s the soundbites, it’s the Kris Draper hit, it’s the Claude Lemieux fights, it’s the drama, the multiple playoff series, and the lack of media shoving that made this rivalry a possibility. It’s deep-rooted, it’s dramatic…but this rivalry doesn’t make much sense.
For example, someone tweeted at me yesterday saying “this fighting at the end of the game = a rivalry”. I told him, what about when the Flyers and the Senators had a line brawl? I can barely say the Flyers and Senators are rivals. He told me “you know that fighting is only one part of a rivalry”.
Yeah, well you told me fighting equals a rivalry! Geez…
Listen, the NHL has been cramming this “rivalry” down our throats. We have to hear Crosby vs. Ovechkin all the time. And for HBO dramatics, the “hate” between these two teams may be completely fake and for dramatics. All this “rivalry” has going for it is one seven-game playoff series and a few good regular season games.
This rivalry needed to grow on its own. It didn’t need all of this exposure to create this picture that may not exist. It’s called agenda-setting.
My last complaint with this year’s Winter Classic was the weather. The prime time thing was genius, sure, but it wasn’t supposed to be like that. The rain fell for most of the game, dictating a very slow pace of play, and beyond terrible ice conditions. The stars didn’t have time to shine because they were too worried about which way the puck was rolling.
If you’re gonna play, play when it’s either snowing, or it’s clear. The rain made it look like hockey was impossible. And honestly, the fact that these players were checking every single move before moving because of the rain made the game slow, and boring.
First-time hockey viewers wouldn’t want that.
I honestly thought it was the weakest Winter Classic, and it was not a fun game to watch. The game needs a classic venue, two teams with a rich history, and two teams with a developed and time-tested rivalry. Nothing made up.
Here’s to next year. Hopefully not including anyone that has had one already.
Are you watching HBO’s amazing 24/7 series? If not, shame on you.
HBO’s 24/7 series hyping the upcoming Winter Classic between the Penguins and Capitals is one of the best shows to watch on TV, period. Hockey is an interesting beast. Its violent, yet graceful; its brutal, yet subtle; its a beautiful mix of a chaos and strategy and I find myself falling in love with the sport. I am also a huge fan of HBO’s 24/7 series which originally started to hype boxing matches. Its a really cool concept, follow the team around on and off the ice to see what life is really like for athletes. You see players bonding with their teammates with pranks, soccer and team dinners. You see coaches in their offices religously going over game notes and tape. Its drama at its best.
Here a few things I’ve learn from watching 24/7 Penguins/Capitals
- Bruce Boudreau says “Fuck” more than any human on the planet. Seriously. He even says in a sentence where it makes no sense. He also says it with a weird emphasis on the U. It comes out like Faw-huck-ing. Its pretty funny to hear.
NSFW unless your boss is Boudreau.
- Pen’s Coach Dan Bylsma, on the hand, is probably the nicest guy in the NHL. He comes off with this “Cool Dad” vibe, maybe its the glasses. He never screams but he uses a Dad voice to make sure his players listen. Adopt me Dan Bylsma, please.
- Sidney Crosby is a decent human being. This painful to admit as a Flyers fan but this show is actually making Crosby somewhat interesting. His “stache” is awful but good lord is he an amazing hockey players, even a living legend at this point and he’s only what? 23? Insane. His cursing needs work though, maybe Boudreau can help him with that. Also, he has a lucky cup that he’s been wearing since he was 7.
- NHL referees do not give a shit about people think about them. One of the cooler moments of the show is when they mic the refs and listen to them talk on the ice during scraps. They basically just let them guy nuts on each other until they get bored of the fight and break it up. Also, they like to kick back and drink beer after the games. It turns out, referees are people too.
- NHL players are the toughest people in the world. Caps’ Mike Knuble’s mouth looks like a scrapyard after he SHATTERED his jaw. He sucked it up (probably through a straw) and only missed 3 games. Pen’s D-man Ben Lovejoy stopped a puck with his face and it swelled up like Elephant Man and he can say is “can you tell I got hit?”
- Evgeni Malkin’s nickname is Geno and Mike Green drives a Vespa. D-bags.
I am rather excited for the Winter Classic even though the forecast says its going to be 50 degrees and rainy. More like Smarch weather if you ask me but who da thunk that Pittsburgh wouldn’t be freezing in the middle of winter. Damn Global Warming.
Yes, I am full-grown man and Yes, I still watch pro wrestling. In fact, as I have gotten older, I’ve started watching more wrestling then I ever did as a kid. I still watch Raw every monday and I try to watch Smackdown! whenever I can on friday nights. Yes I’m fully aware that its “fake” but I don’t care, I still love it. Also, it’s not fake, its staged. There is a difference.
I like to consider myself a “Smark”, a portmanteau of the term “Smart Mark” or someone who understands the innerworking of the wrestling biz. I grew up in Northeast Philly watching ECW on channel WTGW 48 during the years of Tommy Dreamer vs Raven, Taz and his Path of Destruction and Mr. 420 RVD (as a young kid, I had no idea what 420 meant but now I look back and a laugh at how ridiculously Van Dam was during his promos). I stuck with ECW until the end and I openly wept when Vince McMahon revived and destroyed my ECW. I still wear my ECW whenever I’m feeling nostalgic.
I also grew up during the “Attitude Era” of the WWF. I remember screaming my head off for Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, The Headbangers and The Undertaker. I watched Raw is War faithfully every monday but for some reason, I guess I grew too old for Rasslin’ so I stopped watching from about 2001 to 2005. I remember sitting in front of my Tv one night being bored and I flipped on Raw and I remembered how much I loved wrestling and I fell off the wagon again and became a Wrestling fan once again.
As much as I love WWE (still feels weird to say especially after that awesome Old School Raw with the old logo), I have to say I LOVE the indy scene. I’m a huge fan of Ring of Honor, Pro Wrestling Guerilla and Chikara. The guys in the indy leagues aren’t huge but they make up for with amazing Athletism. They do things that the WWE could never get away with and they make Wrestling fun again. It’s a strange mix of Drama, Humor and Awe-Inspiring Athletics. Chikara Pro is especially my favorite. It’s like a live action Comic book. Over the Top Heels, Guys in Luchador Masks, Fighting ICE CREAM CONES! I can’t put into words how Chikara changed my views on wrestling. The WWE is trying make wrestling PG and more family friendly, but they really should watch Chikara because they understand how to make Wrestling Fun.
My final thought about Wrestling is about my favorite wrestler in the world. Bryan Dani…I mean….Daniel Bryan. Here is a guy who went from wrestling in front of 50 fans in high gyms to 500 fans in a Bingo Hall to 50,000 fans in Japan and now he’s wrestling in front the of the entire world in the WWE. He is a guy who treats Wrestling like an art form, he trains in MMA and he honestly makes you forget that wrestling is booked because of the amount of passion he has for his craft. I had the honor of meeting him at a Chikara show and I was amazed at how humble he was for all of his accomplishments. He got shafted when he first joined the WWE, jobbing to everyone on the roster but now he’s garnering praise from Jim Ross, Shawn Michaels, CM Punk, William Regal and he could on his way to being one of the top guys in WWE. His success feels like my success because I’ve been his fan for years and I’ve seen him grow from an Indy legend to a WWE United States Champ.
So yes, I am a grown man and I can proudly say, I love Pro Wrestling. Now, if you excuse me, I have some Smackdown Vs. Raw 2011 to play.
Did you see that near perfect lariat that Gaby Sanchez landed on Nyjer Morgan last night during the Marlins/Nats game?
I was rather impressed with Sanchez’s technique but Morgan totally no-sold the move. By the way, it’s not a clothesline because Sanchez wrapped his arm around Morgan’s neck and drove him to the ground. I only know that because I am a total Wrestling Mark.
It’s like a perfect storm of awesomeness. Ian Driben makes an amazing one-handed catch but he also keeps all the food on the tray and on top of that, he does it so nonchalantly. It’s like he’s a professional Bad Ass. Its rare enough to catch a foul ball but he does it while not spilling a single calories. The food may cost 20 bucks but being that awesome is priceless. What an amazing feat.
congratulations Ian Driben, You win at life