I suck at titling my posts, but I'm quite proud of the theme for my Friday night posts generally and this title in particular.
Signs your local NHL team is going out of business: a friend of mine at work and a buddy have had Thrashers tickets since the team's first season, and good tickets at that. They decided after last year not to renew because of the utter ineptitude of the team and ownership's complete lack of caring. After the buddy broke this news to his ticket rep, his ticket rep showed up at his office unannounced. With an autographed jersey. And Thrash. Yes, Thrash was waiting in the lobby of a major law firm to thank a season ticket holder for his years of ticket purchases. Doesn't that strike you as sweet, but utterly desperate? It's like you break up with a girl and she responds by coming over to cook Chateaubriand and give you the girl-on-girl fun you always wanted. It's like Chris Farley trying to keep dancing after losing the Chippendale's competition to Patrick Swayze. I heard that story and thought "this team is headed for Chapter 11." The Thrash cannot be making much from local TV and the NHL makes almost nothing from national TV deals. If the ticket base shrivels up, then the team either folds or Atlanta Spririt write a fat check. It's a shame because this would be a perfectly good hockey market if the league and the team weren't run by boobs.
Since I didn't have time this week to write about Bill Simmons column about NBA refs, I'll give you the short version: incoherent. Is the problem that there are too many fouls? That the refs are inconsistent? That they need to call the game according to the book? Each problem has a different, mutually exclusive solution. The only point that he made that made sense was that superstars hurtling at the basket with no intention other that getting a call is a bad thing, but this has been going on at least since Jordan. It cannot be a coincidence that the playoffs suddenly suck the round after the Celtics were eliminated.
Signs that having a rooting interest cures anything: I am excited about watching some of the Michigan-Florida softball game tonight. Fast-pitch can be fun to watch. There's something cool about a ball being thrown at 70 mph at extremely close range with the third baseman right on top of the play. As a soccer fan, I can appreciate a game in which scoring is very difficult.
In 2007, Barcelona struggled against quality opponents in part because Frank Rijkaard was not the same without his tactical ace, Henk Ten Cate. Manchester United fans, I submit that the same happened to you this year without Carlos Queiroz. The decline wasn't as sharp because Fergie refused to let his Ronnie ruin the chemistry, but it happened. Bad tactics always show up in games against top opponents, the ones that United couldn't out-talent.
I wish there were something to say about the Braves other than that we do not have an outfielder who can hit and no team can win with that dead weight. Francoeur raus!
After Kanu knocked my question about Euro/Champions League winners out of the park, I have a new query: do I have the only two years old in the US who can belt out el Can't del Barca? Both verses?
My friend Ben (the Ben of "Five Outlandish Predictions" fame) called the 800 number listed on Phil Steele's site to ask if he could get an advance copy of the Preview...and the Godfather himself answered! I would have peppered him with questions about the stats that he uses, but Ben (who has more gall than I ever will; he's a plaintiffs lawyer) just complimented Steele on his magazine and that was it. Steele's mag is a real milepost for me. I don't opine on teams until I've read it. I feel naked without Phil, even if he uses the wrong stats. Honestly, does anyone but his special teams numbers?
Friggin' Dylan is coming to town when I'm taking my summer beach trip. His last trip to Atlanta was on Yom Kippur. And NY&G, I know that I owe you a take on the new album. My initial thought is that it picks up steam, but I need to immerse to get the full flavor.
I feel like listening to "Actung Baby."
Visca el Barca!