A Little Game I Like To Call “NHL Game 7 or NFL Draft?”

Thursday night was a big night in the Big Apple as both game 7 of the Rangers/Senators NHL playoff series and round 1 of the 2012 NFL Draft are set to start at roughly the same time.

On the surface, it might not seem as if there are many similarities between these two major sporting events. However, if you look a little closer I think what you’ll find is that they share much more in common than you would have originally thought.

As I recount the action from both Game 7 and the NFL Draft, see if you can guess which sporting event I’m talking about.

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7:01 – Participants enter the arena on a scuff free red carpet to avoid any dings to their all important footwear.

A – NFL Draft: Since when did the NFL Draft turn into the Grammy’s? The crowd outside of Radio City looks like something you would find at a movie premiere. Looks like a good night to avoid Midtown Manhattan. Meanwhile, head a few blocks down 7th Ave and we’re only minutes away from start of Rangers/Senators game 7. My bandwagon beard hangs in the balance.

7:08 – Attendees are being interviewed before the main event begins. These jocks remain the most humble, honest athletes in all of professional sports.

A – Game 7: Hockey players are such great interviews because of their congenial humility and self deprecating sense of humor. Football players are a close second. Baseball and basketball players lag well behind.

7:13 – Public enemy numero uno serenaded by the fans with the first “ASS-HOLE” chant of the night.

A: Game 7 – Give it an hour and these chants will be directed by Jets fans at NFL Commish Roger Goodell. For now, it seems Chris Neil has a way of bringing out the best in Rangers fans. For all his thuggery and hard nosed play, Neil has also been a difference maker on the offensive end this series. If the Rangers go on to win this series I hope Brian Boyle recovers in time to play against the Capitals.

7:20 – Great energy exhibited by all parties involved.

A – Game 7: First break in the hockey action reminds me of what an exhausting competition the playoffs are to watch on television. They barely even give you enough time to go to the bathroom. Speaking of energy or lack thereof, Bill Belichick was just interviewed on NFL Net and he looked like he was being held captive in the Tora Bora region of Afghanistan. For all we know he could have been discussing the terms of a hostage release instead of what the  Patriots are planning on doing with their two first round draft picks .

7:46 – Former star now fashion icon takes center stage.

A – NFL Draft: As much as I love Ron Duguay’s flair for the dramatic, no former professional athlete turned talking head sets the trends quite like Deion Sanders. Speaking of Prime Time, I’m surprised he was able to keep his composure during the telecast what with all the current commotion in his life.

8:07 -Here is one rookie who is guaranteed to make an immediate impact.

A – Game 7: Nothing against top pick Andrew Luck who, according to most pigskins soothsayers has all the requisite “measurables”, but the first year player generating the most buzz tonight is Rangers rookie forward Chris Kreider. And remember, it was only a few weeks ago that Kreider was still popping pimples in his Chestnut Hill dormitory. Second period has also just gotten under way and we’re still knotted up at double goose eggs.

8:10 – A young man in blue takes one giant step closer to Washington DC.

A – Game 7: Marc Stahl puts the Rangers on the board first with a nice looking one timer past Anderson. Meanwhile, RGIII to the Redskins is now official. Have to respect Griffin for his popsicle inspired blue raspberry sport coat.

8:26 – Commentator just referred to a player as a “pocket rocket”.

A – NFL Draft: No, this was not Sam Rosen referring to Maurice Richard. Mike Mayock apparently has nicknames for all players involved in the draft. “Pocket Rocket” refers to Baylor WR Kendall Wright who must now spend the majority of his rookie season in the NFL fighting to regain some measure of street cred.

8:36 – Nepotism on full display in the owners box.

A – NFL Draft: Was that Jerry Jones grandson lurking in the background of the Cowboys war room? Also, who thought it was a good idea to put cameras in these NFL team conference centers?  Might as well be showing us video from the main ballroom of the Radisson in Humboldt, Texas.  Of course Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett had a shit eating grin on his face after Dallas traded up to #6 for LSU corner Morris Claiborne. Back to MSG, Rangers maintain 2-1 lead after nice looking goal by the Senators Daniel Alfredsson.

9:00 -Some sporting events are just easier to follow on twitter.

A – NFL Draft: One of the more startling, albeit not that surprising, trends from the 2012 draft was that twitter consistently scooped the television broadcast. Most picks were announced in 140 characters or less nearly 5 minutes before Roger Goodell sauntered to the podium. Still doesn’t change the fact that the NFL Draft will draw a much higher television rating in NYC than the hockey. Football is king after all.

2-1 Rangers early in the 3rd but the action is starting to heat up. Chris Neil continues to finish his checks while back in Radio City some guy named Dontari Poe nearly makes out with Goodell.

9:24 – ACCESS DENIED!!!!!

A – Game 7: Hank is coming up huuuuge for New York. Anticipating the puck beautifully and denying Senators on the doorstep. 5 minutes remain and this one is coming down to the final whistle. Speaking of access denied, upon being drafted #13 by the Arizona Cardinals Michael Floyd takes a call on his mobile. I thought the NFL banned cell phones in the green room?

9:35 – Extended handshakes and hugs lead to a delay in post game programming.

A – NFL Draft: While it’s true that there is nothing in sports more honorable and authentic than the post NHL playoff series handshake, things are really getting out of control in Radio City. On average I would guess that each draft pick has taken approximately 5-10 minutes to hug and gyrate with every member of their constituency. At this rate the 2nd and 3rd round will take place simultaneously.

Up next for the Rangers are Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals. Should be a fun series. My bandwagon beard rejoices!

view from MSG courtesy of @alanhahn

 

How To Turn Your Place Of Employment Into An Actual Real Life March Madness Bracket

What if life were like March Madness where the hierarchy of every business/place of employment were determined by a bracket? As a high school history teacher I am absolutely fascinated by this concept. Who hasn’t spent endless hours during their lunch break comparing their value to that of Jim over in accounting? What if during contract negotiations your boss were to rank all of the top employees in the company from 1 to 64 and go through the bracket, matchup by matchup, region by region, until a winner, or most valuable employee, was determined? Isn’t this a meritocracy at its best?

I also think it would be interesting to assess what your own personal seeding would be heading into the tournament. For instance, I’m one of 60 or so teachers at my school and that number isn’t even counting administrators, support staff, coaches, etc. Would I even make the top 64? If I don’t, should I be worried about my long term job security?

If I were to make the field it would probably be as an automatic bid from the Southern Conference. I would most likely enter as a #13 seed and take on a high powered at large bid out of the development office. Think Davidson vs Wisconsin. Once the brackets are announced I all of a sudden become a very trendy upset pick, probably because most teachers don’t really understand how the development team got to be a #4 seed in the first place. Then you have guys like Doug Gottlieb and Digger Phelps picking me to make it all the way to the regionals in Phoenix where I would end up taking on a #1 seed like Kansas. Here is were my Cinderella story through March comes to an end as the Dean of Faculty beats me into submission before we even reach the half.

But, as a history teacher, I can feel good about making it to the Sweet 16 especially when very few colleagues predicted me to make it that far. Hopefully my performance in the office value bracket would allow me to keep my job for at least another year until we are ready to start the madness all over again.

view from Madison Square Garden courtesy of @chrisfreezy17

Jeremy Lin Throws A Garden Party Like Only an Ivy Leaguer Can

 No Melo for 1-2 weeks means much, much more Linsanity. The hesitation right handed dribble around a high screen and roll followed by a bounce pass between defenders leading to an easy layup was a move perfected by our favorite Canadian Steve Nash. Jeremy Lin, while he is no Steve Nash, has shown, for at least the last two games, a similar ability to drive to the basket and set his teammates up for easy scoring opportunities. Embattled head coach Mike D’Antoni will continue to give Lin a shot at being the starting point guard for the New York Knicks as long as the team keeps winning or maybe until a healthy Baron Davis returns to action.

How ironic is it that Lin has a chance to save D’Antoni’s job in New York, a position he earned because of the time he spent with Nash in Phoenix during the halcyon days. The Amare connection makes it all the more real and while this J-Lin Garden party probably won’t continue for much longer, it certainly has made for an exciting New York sports story. Not that there are any shortages of them these days.

 

British Airways Fake Out Spells Doom For New York Knicks

I break out in a cold sweat every time I hear this story out of the UK about a British Airways flight travelling from Miami to London that mistakenly alerted passengers that the plane was about to crash. Can you even imagine? Not what you want to hear when travelling at 35,000 feet. Granted it was all just a massive fake out but even still, does make you wonder how things like this happen.

My biggest question: what button was the pilot really trying to press when he “accidentally” pushed the one for “we may shortly need to make an emergency landing on water”. What other recordings do pilots have at their disposal? How about “please clear the aisles as my copilot is about to make creepy small talk with a flight attendent before occupying the lavatory” or “look no hands”.

Speaking of planes that may or may not need to make an emergency landing over the Atlantic, what’s going on with the New York Knicks? They are riding a 3 game losing streak all the way to a sub .500 record that, depending on which crazed fan you ask, may or may not spell the merciful end for Mike D’Antoni and his glorious mustache. The team defense has improved but where is all the offense? If it’s not Carmelo hoisting up an egomaniacal number of fade away j’s then it’s the “neophyte” Iman Shumpert taking control of an inexperienced backcourt. Things promise to get better when veteran PG Baron Davis and his lower back return to action in the next few weeks. Until then, Amar’e Stoudemire needs to use those rickety knees of his to take the ball strong to the basket and help keep this Knicks offense above water.

view from MSG on MLK Day courtesy of @jlaox11

College Hoops: The Stage is Set

College Basketball is here and, thanks to the NBA, the stage is theirs for the foreseable future. I have trended away for NCAA hoops these past few seasons, usually waiting until March Madness rolls around and the conference tournaments begin before consuming copious amounts of basketball. So while the NBAPA decertifies, and players wait by the docks to catch the next steamship overseas, basketball fans have little choice but to delve into some early season college basketball live from exotic locations like New York City, Maui, Puerto Rico, Anchorage, and Uncasville, Connecticut.

I for one am always surprised by the high quality of several early season marque matchups. If college football programs were to adopt a similar path – tough, early season out of conference scheduling – then we may have a BCS Championship Game featuring teams with two losses apiece. Of course, the CFB season is much shorter than the CBB marathon, therefore a single loss is much more damaging to a football team’s chances at a championship. Yet another reason to eliminate the BCS in favor of a true postseason playoff in college football.

Here are a few quick observations from Tuesday night’s Champions Classic live from Madison Square featuring Michigan State/Duke and Kentucky/Kansas:

i – I’m happy for Coach K. Passing his mentor Bob Knight for the most wins all time is an impressive feat to say the least. Since the demise of Joe Paterno at Penn St., a few cynical twitter voices – are there any other kind – have wondered when the skeletons will emerge from the squeaky clean Duke program. If there are any cracks in the Krzyzewskiville armor, however unlikely, I highly doubt they rival anything close to the evil emerging from Happy Valley.

ii – Michigan St. still plays with a little chip on their shoulder. Their play has always modeled the gruff exterior of head coach Tom Izzo who has found great success by recruiting the mean streets of Flint and Detroit. Spartan opponents can usually expect a wayward elbow or two.

iii – Another Plumlee? Pretty soon the sports world will be run by Plumlee’s, Pouncey’s. and Pelini’s.

iv – It’s impossible for me to watch Kentucky without wondering how exactly Caliparai acquired this fresh crop of talent. The scars of two vacated Final Fours still linger as skeptics continue to wonder how it is so easy for the Wildcats to reload after losing so much talent year after year to the NBA Draft.

v – If you’re a current NBA player, one of the good things about the lockout is that now you have a chance to watch your alma-mater play in person. On a slightly different note, wouldn’t it be something if the NCAA all of sudden allowed NBA players to regain years of college eligibility? Where would LeBron go? Ohio State? And what team would be favored to win it all? UConn? Kentucky? Texas? The possibilities are endless.

view from MSG courtesy of @thechiver