Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Halloween Hockey League: Zombies vs. Vampires

Happy Halloween everyone! Since this is a holiday that celebrates the ghoulish and there is a lockout, I created my own NHL Halloween league. I read somewhere that the ancient Greeks believed that redheads would become vampires, and that reminded me that during the 2012 All-Star Game, the Red Team (Team Alfie) created the Ginger Line. As I thought about it, there are a surprising number of redheads, gingers, or Day Walkers as Cartman calls them, in the NHL. In fact, you can fill an entire roster if you really try (some players may not be true gingers but have at least a reddish tinge to their hair). Here is what Team Vampire would look like:

            Left Wing                                    Center                                Right Wing
           Daniel Sedin                               Henrik Sedin                       Daniel Alfredsson
          Scott Hartnell                                Eric Staal                              Claude Giroux
     Tomas Fleischmann                    Nicklas Backstrom                      Johan Franzen
           Raffi Torres                                Jeff Halpern                            Danny Cleary

                                    Defense                                                 Goalies
          Brian Campbell             Duncan Keith                       Jimmy Howard
          Christian Ehrhoff          Marc Staal                            Cory Schneider
          Kimmo Timonen           Matt Greene                          James Reimer
          Bryan Allen                   Mike Commodore

This is a very talented team with several Stanley Cup winners and All-Stars. There are many goal-scorers, some play-makers, and scrappers. The defense has both defenseman who can score and those who are non-stat guys that can block shots and turn the puck over. The goalies are even talented. Jimmy Howard is an All-Star, and Cory Schneider is a promising franchise goaltender. Even Reimer has shown some potential. This is a complete team that would be hard to beat.

But what rival could take on this undead team? Well, Team Zombie will, of course! A zombie is described as an animated corpse. While this isn't a zombie team in the traditional sense, this is a group that has missed considerable time due to concussion issues or plain-old horrific injuries. In the NHL, what else can be closer to being dead and coming back to life than a brain injury? Here is what Team Zombie would look like:

           Left Wing                                    Center                             Right Wing
         Simon Gagne                              Sidney Crosby                      Nathan Horton
         David Perron                            Jonathan Toews                   Colby Armstrong
 Guillaume Latendresse                Pierre-Marc Bouchard              Matt D'Agostini
       Max Pacioretty                             Jochen Hecht                          Jay Beagle

                                    Defense                                                 Goalies
               Kris Letang               John-Michael Liles                  Ryan Miller
             Michael Sauer                Joni Pitkanen                       Rick DiPietro
             Keith Ballard                 Steve Montador
             Mike Mattau                  Radek Martinek

Team Zombie features the NHL's Christ-child Sidney Crosby, which will probably lead to my being struck down by lightning, but it is undeniable that he is one of the players who has lost significant playing time due to concussion issues. The team does have some stars in Horton, Toews, Gagne, Letang, Liles, and Miller. However, unlike Team Vampire, they lack the star power throughout the roster. Although when the injury reports were released which inspired jokes that it basically named an All-Star team, Team Zombie clearly does not.

If Team Vampire and Team Zombie were to face off, I would expect a 6-4 win for Team Zombie. I think Crosby would have a great game and get a couple goals and a few assists. However, the Sedin twins would probably give Miller and the defense a hard time. Hartnell and Letang might drop the gloves at some points. After all, the Vampire-Zombie rivalry would be the new Philly-Pitt rivalry. While the goaltenders will make some unbelievable saves, I think Miller would have his hands full with the Vampire roster. The lack in depth would be the fatal flaw of Team Zombie, but it will stay close and the last goals might even be an empty-netter in an attempt to force overtime. And with that, have a happy and safe Halloween!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Trick or Treat: Sports Pranks

Trick or treat, smell my feet. Give me something good to eat! If you don't, I don't care. I'll pull down your underwear! In the spirit of Halloween, I have compiled a list of sports pranks. A very special thank you to @KevinJ42, Peter in California, and Mark in California for their submissions! Oh, and as far as I know, everyone still has their underwear and there were no stinky feet.


@KevinJ42 submits the hidden ball trick. This is a prank in which the third baseman pretends to hand ball to pitcher, but instead, he conceals it in his glove and tries to tag out the third base runner as he walks back to the base. 


Peter in California submits that Chris Cohen pranked the Warriors for about fifteen years.

Mark in California submits a prank that Charles Barkley pulled on Manute Bol. Charles shows him several food items that are under silver covers. As Bol removes each one to see the food, he finds one with a teammate who frightens him.

College Football:
I remember hearing this story on a tour of Harvard. This is probably one of the more famous college football pranks of all time. During the big game against Yale, some Yale students mixed up the Harvard tiles to spell, “We Suck.”


During the Chicago Bears training camp, Charles “Peanut” Tillman put Rex Grossman on a dolly and wrapped toilet paper around him. He ran around the field screaming that Hannibal Lector was out. This is the story that first endeared Tillman in my heart.


While with the Vancouver Canucks, Brad “May Day” May with his teammates tormented Matt Cooke. One day Cooke showed up what has been described as what might be the ugliest sweater ever known to man, and the guys took to teasing him a good bit. While Cooke was busy putting on his equipment, May took the sweater out of the locker, and with the help of some of the guys, they taped his number on the back of the sweater and put it up in the rafters. When Cooke came out to the ice, the guys started looking up to try to get him to see what they had done. As he realized what he was looking at, May Day turned to him and said, “Well, your number may never be retired, but that sweater is!”

Brad May went through his teammates’ pants pockets to retrieve their keys while the guys finished practice. He took all the keys off the rings and dumped them in a shoe box. As the guys began to leave the rink to get into their cars, they would stop to reach for their keys. Once they realized that they were gone, the players headed back to the locker room. No one was too happy that they had to find their keys amongst everyone else’s keys. Despite the fact that May put his own keys in the box, he was ratted out and the guys plotted their revenge. At the time, MayDay was driving a BMW convertible. It was a nice day in Vancouver, so he had driven with the top open. The guys had purchased those large tins of popcorn you can usually find during the holidays and filled the car with it. When May went to his car after practice, he had to play it cool as a few teammates were hiding in the bushes trying to get his reaction on camera.

Perhaps one of the most storied pranks is that of Taro Tsujimoto. In the 1974 NHL draft, GM Punch Imlach of the Buffalo Sabres became tired of the long and laborious process of telephoning draft picks and decided to have a little fun. With his 11th round draft pick, Imlach chose Taro Tsujimoto of the Tokyo Katanas. Once the draft had finished, the NHL recorded the pick and printed media guides as usual. However, Imlach did not admit to his prank until training camp was about to begin. There was no Tokyo Katanas and no Taro Tsujimoto. The NHL was not so happy about this, but Buffalo Sabres fans have kept the legend of Tsujimoto alive throughout the years.

I can’t find who the pranksters were now that I’m trying to find them, but there is one LA Kings prank I remember well. Two Kings players decided to prank Brad Richardson after a game. For all games, players are required to wear suits and nice dress shoes. The pranksters took his shoes out of his locker and cut off the bottoms, not completely so that he could put on the shoes and take a few steps before the bottoms would fall out. They waited just outside the locker room, and they were puzzled as Richardson strolled out... with his shoes. From inside, they heard a loud, “What the---?!” from inside. When they realized it was a fuming Wayne Simmonds, the pranksters laid low and ran. I think they mistook Simmonds’s #17 for Richardson’s #15 which were probably right next to each other.

If you would like to contribute, please use the comment box below, tweet me at @SportingAJenda, or email me at Thank you for reading and have a happy Halloween!

Monday, October 22, 2012

A New Home for BobbyLu?

Over the weekend, I saw a blurb that Roberto Luongo might be headed to the Toronto Maple Leafs. This isn't the first time that this rumor has floated around, but the Florida Panthers and the Edmonton Oilers also seem to be in the mix this time. There are some things I like, but there are a lot of things I just don't understand about this move. Maybe I should start with what I do know.

There is absolutely no way that Roberto Luongo can return to the Vancouver Canucks for whenever this lockout ends. Well, they may take him for half a season, but unless he wins the Cup, he will not be returning for the next full season (and even at that it's probably iffy). Why do I say that? No matter the team, the goalie is almost always the player carrying the brunt of criticism when teams lose. There is no difference here. When the Canucks are losing, fans are quick to criticize Luongo's play. And part of that stems from the fact that he carries a huge contract. He still has ten years left on his twelve-year contract with a $5.33 million cap hit. The expectations that come with a contract like that are huge, and in Canada, forget it. The Canucks are expecting to win the Cup, and when they appeared but lost in the Finals in 2011, a lot of fans blamed Luongo. And this past season, when they lost in the first round to the eight-seed Los Angeles Kings, Vancouver fans were calling for his head. To be honest, losing to the Bruins in the Finals was not all Luongo's fault. That team played like they were running out of steam, and it very well could have been because the Western Conference is far more competitive than the Eastern Conference. But there are no excuses, you have to be playing your best hockey when it comes to the playoffs. The Canucks that year just weren't playing as well, and the Bruins were on top of their game. This past year, they entered into the playoffs without one of their best forwards, Daniel Sedin. Luongo was pulled from this series, but I'm not sure that if he was playing at the top of his game that the Canucks still would have won the Cup or even that series. I say this mostly because of the absence of Daniel Sedin, but Kevin Bieksa also wasn't contributing in the way that he usually does. But also, the Kings kicked into high gear and went on a historic run to win the Cup. However, what happened, happened, and the team began reconsidering the value of the Alain Vigneault and Roberto Luongo. When the team extended A.V.'s contract, attention turned to the goaltender yet again, despite the fact that he has a no-trade clause. But the way that the city reacted to the disappointing playoff run, it became more and more clear that BobbyLu was no longer welcome in Vancouver.

Enter Toronto Maple Leafs. This is a struggling team. It should be noted that the struggles aren't just on the ice; they also have some monetary constraints and have had to be creative when it came to making trades and free agents. With Luongo's contract, I'm not entirely sure how this will work, but I'm guessing if the rumors are true that the organization has approached Mike Gillis, then they must have some sort of plan. They have made great improvements over the last few years, but they still haven't been able to make the playoffs despite the promises of Brian Burke. One of their weaknesses is at the goaltender position. They had been rotating between James Reimer and Jonas Gustavsson, but neither of them are truly a star goaltender. I think that Reimer shows promise, but I don't know if he will ever be elite. When the team traded Gustavsson to the Jets (Winnipeg not the Tebow ones), it became clear that the Leafs would be in the hunt for a goaltender. It would make a lot of sense that the Canucks are looking to unload one while the Leafs are trying to acquire one. But does Toronto make a lot of sense for Luongo? This is where I struggle. The Leafs are not a Cup-contending team, even if he does go there. Right now, I think they are concentrating on getting into the playoffs more than anything else. But again, he would be playing for a Canadian team who have now made this big trade to acquire him in an effort to inevitable make a run at the Cup. The pressure is huge again. However, I read an article on the Yahoo! Puck Daddy blog by Greg Wyshyski (article here: that points out Luongo could legitimately put the Leafs into the Cup race and that he would be a "savior" of the team rather than a scapegoat. I can see this as a possible scenario, but I'm struggling to accept this as a likely one. I think it will boil down to what the Leafs are going to have to give up in order to acquire the goalie. I believe that Luongo will put the Leafs in the hunt for a seed in the playoffs, but for a trade of this magnitude, I would think you would want a little more. In the Eastern Conference right now, the eighth seed is not going to be enough to make a deep run into the playoffs. If this trade does happen, it will be extremely interesting to see how this team does.

The Florida Panthers are also in the mix. BobbyLu did spend some time with the franchise before Vancouver, so there is some familiarity there. The Panthers made a lot of roster changes and produced a great team that secured a playoff spot for the first time in twelve years. Like the Maple Leafs, this team is not without its financial problems, as they have had to fire their mascot, but this team has already made significant strides to make playoff runs. One of their weaknesses is at goaltender, which makes this trade intriguing, but it is unclear whether they would like to take a veteran or look to their developing prospects. I would think that Luongo might be more interested in the Panthers because they have a stronger team that has already produced results, and he won't have to deal with the intense Candian media and fan scrutiny. But I think it's really a question of how interested the organization is in the goaltender.

Now, here is where things stop making sense. The Edmonton Oilers have expressed interest in BobbyLu. This is the youngest team in the league and has made every effort in developing a team that is not only young but also talented. The aim is to create a team that can make the playoffs for many many years and contend for the Cup. When the lockout ends, the Oilers may be presenting the first line of consecutive number one picks in Taylor Hall (2010), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (2011), and Nail Yakupov (2012). The only reason they wouldn't be debuting Yakupov is if they apply the same philosophy that they did with Nugent-Hopkins and wait to see him in training camp to decide if he is ready to play at the NHL level. It was revealed in an episode of Oil Change that Steve Tambellini was willing to put Nugent-Hopkins in the AHL or juniors until he was ready. He did not want to interfere with the player's development. This is an organization that clearly has every intention in getting the most from their draft picks (which have been high because they're horrible) and have faith in the farm system. While they have been awaiting Devan Dubnyk to be that franchise goalie they would like him to be, they have put Nikolai Khabibulin in net. If the Oilers acquired Luongo, they would be severing ties with either Dubnyk or Khabibulin. Let's say they drop Dubnyk, then the team has two veteran goalies, which isn't the end of the world, but unless they are getting something more valuable by moving Dubnyk, it's probably not the direction that the Oilers are trying to go. Like I said, they've been trying to go younger. So if they drop Khabibulin, we're looking at a Luongo-Dubnyk tandem. The problem is this is that they will be in the same conundrum as Vancouver. Luongo is a big contract, so you're going to have to start him. But Dubnyk is a young potential star, if he begins to shine like the Oilers think he will, then you're going to want to eventually start him since he is younger. As a long-term plan, you'll want to go with Dubnyk. However, with the money you had spent on Luongo, you're not going to want him on the bench counting towards the cap, but it'll be even harder to move him since he's older now. I find this rumor to be the least believable, but from what I understand, the Oilers were just interested in hearing some numbers to assess value. It was a sniff, so to speak. However, I still don't understand it for the above explanation.

And the last thing I don't really understand is the timing. Well, that's not entirely true, I get it but I don't get it. Right now, we're looking at a lockout in which owners want to shorten contracts and bring down the ceiling on how much players earn. BobbyLu has a TEN-year contract, which was drafted up by the owners in the first place. I understand that this deal was made a couple years ago and that what's done is done, but if we are to go forward, why is this contract being circulated now? Obviously, there wasn't enough interest before the lockout started, and I am guessing that that is because owners didn't want to take a large contract before the new CBA was in place (though that didn't stop some). But right as owners are trying not to honor the large contracts signed just before the lockout, this Luongo rumor is going around. I don't understand that. I know he can't stay in Vancouver, but why isn't this deal hammered out once the CBA is agreed upon and the money issues are settled? It's not as though the season is about to start in a few days.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

How To Spot a Fake Giants Fan or How To Avoid Looking like One

For this blog, I decided to do something a little different. I am not a big baseball fan, but I have listened to enough sports radio to follow what is going on in the league, especially with the home teams (San Francisco and Oakland). What I've noticed is that all of a sudden people you know who were never interested in sports, suddenly become big fans of teams. Well, I've decided to create a truth detector to allow you to figure out if the person you're talking to is a real or fake fan. Of course, I could not do this alone. I enlisted the help of Matthew (@figslee on Twitter) who has been a San Francisco Giants fan since in the womb. A special thank you to him for collaborating with me on this guide.

It's October.  The most exciting time of the year, if you're a baseball fan.  It's time to put all regular season stats and match ups aside and begin the tournament that crowns the World Series Champions.  It's the playoffs and when the playoffs arrive, it is inevitable that people all of a sudden become "die-hard" fans of the hometown team. True fans of the team bemoan this as the bandwagoners seem to grow in numbers. After the Giants won the World Series in 2010, fans, new and old, flocked to the stadium.  After a disappointing season in 2011 in which they failed to make the playoffs, some returned to only paying attention to when the playoffs came around this year. First it should be pointed out that aside from the core pitching staff,  a lot of key changes have occurred for the Giants.  Namely the fact that only two starting position players, Buster Posey and Pablo "Panda" Sandoval (just to remind you why you bought that panda hat), remain from that 2010 World Series winning team.  So here are a few tips to help you spot the bandwagon fans and how to avoid looking like one.

1. Brian Wilson is not an active player. The 2010 World Series introduced the world to Brian Wilson, arguably one of the best closers in baseball. But what really held people's attention is a playoff beard that inspired the slogan, "Fear the Beard." This 2012 playoff, there will be no beard. In April, Wilson underwent Tommy John surgery and has not played since. Thus, not mentioning this player or wondering why the Giants aren't putting him in is probably a good idea. Please leave your Beard shirts at home, thank you.

2. The other memorable character of the 2010 World Series is Tim Lincecum, the Freak. After signing a two-year, $40 million contract and turning down a five-year, $100 million contract before the beginning of the 2012 season, Timmy just hasn't lived up to the extremely high standards that he set for himself, for the majority of this season. There were a lot of theories circulating about why he was struggling so much. Maybe it was the money, a curse of the Giants, his losing a ton of weight, or his laying off the weed. However, he bounced back and is looking to return to Freak form after winning a sudden death playoff elimination game four against the Cincinnati Reds. I only mention this, so you avoid saying something like, "Well, he's been doing this all season."

3. Barry Zito doesn't suck anymore. For years after the Giants signed Zito to a mega-contract, the pitcher was never quite able to live up to the expectations that came with it. However, when Lincecum struggled, Zito stepped up his game and helped the team win. Thus, no lamenting about why he's in the lineup. You can trust him.

4. MELKY Caberera played for the Giants, not MIGGY Cabrera. This is an easy mistake to make if you're the casual fan. The two have the same last name and very similar first names. Miggy Cabrera plays for the Detroit Tigers and won the Triple Crown. MELKY is NOT on the Giants roster, as he had been suspended for using performance-enhancing drugs. Just to avoid confusion, you should know this.

5. Andres Torres plays for the Mets now. Yes, a lot of you reading this blog or someone you know bought his jersey and loved him dearly, but the Giants have Angel Pagan patrolling center field now.  Matthew would like to for those trying to fill the Torres void to give him a chance because he promises you will love him just as much, if not more. Maybe you can eBay your Torres jersey and buy the Pagan.

6.  Jonathan Sanchez, who pitched a no hitter for the Giants against the Padres in 2009, is also no longer with the team. He was a fan favorite, especially for his bold words and great performance on the last day of the season in 2010 to get the team into the playoffs. Don't be surprised if you hear a surly response to your "where is Jonathan Sanchez?" question; he was traded to the Royals for Melky Cabrera (see number 4).

7.  Hunter Pence is a new face to the lineup, picked up just before the trade deadline this year from the Phillies. What Pence brings to the team is a big bat to address the problems on offense the team has had. He might look awkward in just about every aspect of his game, but he's a really good baseball player. Maybe you can be the first to suggest the appropriate animal hat for the newest member of the team.

Though some of the faces of the team have changed since the magical 2010 World Series run, this 2012 team has a lot of characters to really cheer for.  It is embarrassing to be caught jumping the bandwagon, but this is a guide to help you not break your ankle on the way up. By the same token, this can also help you spot who is trying to pass himself or herself off as a true fan. If you were enthusiastic enough to buy tickets, hopefully this list prepares you in some way to fight off the parking lot jeers and scolding you will receive on your way to true fandom. Welcome to AT&T Park (forgot to mention that's where they play), enjoy the ride.

Monday, October 8, 2012

An Open Letter to Travis Rodgers

Dear Travis Rodgers,
I am a big fan of yours. Your wit and humorous take on sports is entertaining and never fails to make genuinely make me laugh. I really do love your show! However, I'm not such a big fan when it comes to your views on hockey. I realize that hockey is not part of your deal, and I'm okay with that. I know that it hockey fans amuse you like children are entertained by clowns, but I still feel the need to vocalize what the lockout means to hockey fans, or at least to me.

Fans do care about the lockout, and they are upset that the first two weeks are cancelled. It isn't simply about the two weeks, which in all fairness are like you pointed out not entirely germane to a season of 82 games. What fans are upset about is that these first two weeks being cancelled are a big indicator that at least half if not the entire season could be in jeopardy. The last lockout was like the end of World War I. There was a CBA that was signed, but neither of the sides had resolved anything and resentment still lingers. This new CBA that has to be put into place is bringing out those old feelings of hate, and up to this point, the owners have been much like Goodell resisting coming to an agreement with the referees in that they really just don't care about the fans. So when fans are upset about the first two week, they aren't really upset about that but what it means. Right now, all signs point to December as a realistic deadline for the NHL with January 1st being the opening week if there is even any season at all. Fans are coming to the realization that this season is in some real trouble.

I'd also like to point out that while the casual fan may not care about the regular season, hockey fans care about it. I am a passionate Los Angeles Kings fan (and have been one since 2002 so didn't just jump the bandwagon), and I watch EVERY game. If I don't watch it live, I watch it later. What draws me to watch is that the games count, especially in the Western Conference and more specifically in the Pacific Division (which FYI includes the San Jose Sharks, Anaheim Ducks, Phoenix Coyotes, and the Dallas Stars). In the last few years, the there are only a few games that differentiate a 3rd place team from the 8th place team in the playoff hunt (and 16/30 teams make the playoffs, not 94%, and yes, because I say so). Not to mention the 9th and 10th place teams are usually a game or two or even a tie-breaker away from the last spot into the playoffs. It is often not guaranteed that a team will make it into the playoffs unless they win their division. And no, hockey people don't just watch in May when the playoffs start. The hunt really begins in February with the mid-season trade deadline and last stretch of games to make it back onto a playoff campaign. A lot of hockey people like to watch because these games are so critical and can be dramatic. For example, a couple years ago the Kings started in 12th place as they entered into a game against the Detroit Red Wings. They went on to win the game, and they took 5th place. However, because the game was in Detroit, and there were other games to be played in the Pacific Time Zone, the Kings ended that day in 10th. I realize that I am not like the majority of other hockey fans, but I watched the other games since they did have an impact on my team and I just enjoy hockey that much.

And casual fans do care about at least one regular season game. Most people enjoy the Winter Classic, the one outdoor game of the year. The NHL has made it into an event and has been successful in attracting even those who may not have even considered watching hockey at all. Hockey fans who usually only watch their own team play will tune in to watch this game. I think the NHL gains viewership with this hallmark game.

I can't argue that the NFL is king because you're right; it is. And the NHL might be vegimite. But it's my vegimite, and as a hockey fan, I just had to say something. We hockey fans care that the first two weeks are gone, and we really do think the regular season is important. This is where all the drama is. Sam Gagner of the Edmonton Oilers had the first eight-point game in 24 years, putting him in the ranks of Mario Lemieux, Wayne Gretzky, and Paul Coffey. Sid the Kid tried to come back after suffering a concussion the season before. He played a few games before having to be placed on injured reserve again after a few hits. However, he did return with a vengeance in a game against the New York Rangers (who you would probably be a big fan of since they are the Broadway Blueshirts) and brought to rest the question of whether he would ever be the player he had been prior to the concussion issue. Rick Nash was the biggest player a team could try to steal away from the Columbus Blue Jackets (yes, that team that had been offered all of the New York Islanders draft picks and declined). Nash is like the Tom Brady of the Blue Jackets in the sense that he is iconic of the team and is its best/most important player. Nash had a no-trade clause, but rumors had been circulating that he was willing to be traded. During the regular season, the Los Angeles Kings went from being the worst offensive team in the league during the first half to being in the top fourth in offense and snagging the last playoff spot. The top NHL draft pick, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Edmonton Oilers, had his first hat trick (that's three goals in a game) in his third game. Meanwhile, Shane Doan of the Phoenix Coyotes, who is one of the team's consistent top goal-scorers, finally got his first hat trick in his 1,161st game. So a lot happens during the regular season that hockey fans love to see.

In any case, I had to get that off my chest. I do love your show, and I enjoy it immensely. I'm sure this little rant of mine will just make you laugh and provide some entertainment, but hockey fans care. And yes, hockey is a thing... to some people, even non-Canadians.

A big fan,