Archive | May, 2010

World Cup ball slammed

31 May

Adidas World Cup ballForget that the new World Cup ball from Adidas has 11 colors to represent the number of players in a team, or that it cleverly reflects the 11 official languages and communities of the host country. Thing is, nobody likes it.

According to a report in Sports Illustrated, several players have complained about the new ball, claiming that it sways in a weird way. In fact, Italian striker Giampaolo Pazzini went as far as to call it a ‘disaster’. Tell us what you really think Giampaolo.

But the players with the most worries, are understandably the tournament’s goalkeepers. Australia’s goal minder Mark Schwarzer, also unimpressed by the ball, called it ‘difficult’, while Brazil’s Julio Cesar used the word ‘supernatural’ in his review. Adidas must be calling for a ceasefire.

The company admits the technology on the ball is “radically new”: apparently small dots on its surface help improve reliability in the air, providing a “stable” flight. Seems the final descent and landing are another matter however.

Flyers v Habs – buckle up!

15 May

Mike CammalleriOn Sunday night the No.7 seed of the NHL’s Eastern Conference, Philadelphia, will battle the No.8 seed, Montreal. There’ll be no Sidney Crosby, no Alex Ovechkin and no Ryan Miller. Just two hard-working, underdog clubs, playing thrilling hockey.

The Flyers weren’t even meant to be in the playoffs were they? Now they’re overcoming goal deficits, series deficits and even a talent deficit to earn a spot in the final four. If there’s one thing the Canadiens should know heading into this series, it’s that Philadelphia don’t go down easy. Like Rocky Balboa, they keep swinging until the final bell. And in that vein, the Bell – as in Centre – won’t intimidate them either.

For the Habs, it’s all about control. This team isn’t fancy. It’s disciplined. Precise. Determined. Humble. And these qualities are best exemplified in their ascending winger, Mike Cammalleri. The Ontario native has 12 goals these playoffs, with the promise of more to come, and maybe a shot at breaking the post-season record of 19.

As The Toronto Star wrote this week, Cammalleri plays hockey “the Toronto way”, meaning he doesn’t jump around after a goal, showboat or disrespect his opponent. No, Montreal’s No.13 plays with coolness and class, which makes it tough to bet against him and his surprising team.

Jets flying home to Winnipeg?

12 May

winnipeg jets logoIt’s true – the Winnipeg Jets are being wished back into existence, remarkably after being exported to Arizona as a potential “cash cow” (or, er, coyote).

So much for that idea. How much was the Phoenix Coyotes’ bankruptcy price, $140 million? And according to The Toronto Star, the club is now a further $20 million in the hole after this season. We give you Gary Bettman ladies and gentlemen – a man with a dream.

Incredibly, the idea that Canuck teams are too small time to make good money, is now being shunned by pundits because Canadian locales are surely better off than struggling post-GFC American cities, as Randy Turner explained in The National Post this week.

And there’s the moral of the story. How can anyone, in any pro sport, seriously contemplate relocating a popular team again for the sake of a few bucks? It’s nuts. It doesn’t matter which way you slice it – fancy new TV deal, the promise of more bobble head sales, or potentially robust attendance figures – loyal fans always deserve to keep their team, and in the end, will stand by them.

When the chips are down, do the ambitious movers and shakers of business really believe fans in the desert, on the beach or cruising the bayou will really be enamored with hockey – on ice? These people have football, basketball and baseball. They prefer ice in their lemonade to ice in their arenas. It’s just common sense.

Hey, nobody’s disrespecting the fans that do support the Phoenix Coyotes, or the Nashville Predators for that matter. In fact, we tip our inflatable hockey hats to you. But the way in which the Winnipeg-Phoenix saga has played out needs to be a lesson for all: tradition and passion count for more than the bottom line (at least in Any Town, North America). As long as us – the fans – are happy, who cares about the league’s desire for expanding markets?

Following a sports team isn’t a game for us, as it is for many owners. It’s an emotional relationship, in which nobody wants their heart broken – especially not for a few dudes wanting a better lining in their pockets.

Hopefully the potential re-relocation of the Jets reinforces this message. And while we’re at it, maybe there’ll be some recognition that you don’t mess with a classic sports brand. The Jets logo, after all,  was – and maybe is – one of the best to ever grace a rink.

Sounders refund for unsound soccer

11 May

seattle sounders

The Seattle Sounders big wigs have announced that after the team’s 4-0 drubbing to San Jose Saturday, season ticket holders will be refunded their money. In a rare act of generosity by a pro sports club, credits will be awarded to fans against their 2011 season tickets for the Sounders poor showing on the field. Well played Drew Carey. Well played.

Giro d’Italia on your iPhone

11 May

giro d'italiaLike your cycling? Akamai Technologies has set up live video streaming for the iPhone of the Il Giro d’Italia this month. The event, in its 93rd year, is said to be the second toughest stage race behind the Tour de France and has already attracted 120,000 app downloads. The Giro is being broadcast live from eight o’clock each morning (EST) and is available via the GazzettadelloSport app.

LeBron to New York, assumes NY Mag

10 May

LeBron James New York MagNew York Magazine has a great feature this week entitled, ‘Hey LeBron, Welcome to New York‘, which lists the top reasons why King James is destined for Broadway. Amongst the best is a proposed LeBron sandwich at The Carnegie Deli, “The MVP”.

Flyers need song, stamp and more to win

10 May

Kate Smith stamp

The Philadelphia Flyers are working with the US Postal Service to unveil a stamp of legendary singer Kate Smith at the Spectrum this month. As The Inquirer recalled yesterday, Smith performed “God Bless America” before the Flyers played the Boston Bruins in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals in 1974. And she’s been a good luck charm ever since because the Flyers won that game and the series. If only the Philly players could take the tune on the road, maybe play with their iPods on or something. They’ll need it against the Bruins in Boston, where they haven’t won a playoff game since 1976.