Friday, October 31, 2008

Sports and Politics



I wasn’t so shocked to see that Monday Night Football has decided to run interviews with Barack Obama and John McCain during the broadcast on the night before the election. ESPN seems to have taken its place in pop culture as the sports channel that is also an “all around” news source. Many times I hear about current events that are not sports related on sports radio. Colin Cowherd talks a LOT about things that are not sports every day as does Dan Patrick. I guess they figure that some of us will never watch regular news so they should do this as a sort of PSA to keep the sports junkies informed about the rest of the world. I do keep up with mainstream news as I think we all should to an extent.

Sports figures and politics have a long history of cross pollination.

Duke Kahanamoku: Back in the early part of the last century, the Father of Surfing and Olympic swimming medalist was not only the sheriff of the city and county of Honolulu but very involved in much of the politics of Hawaii. He was the unofficial greeter and ambassador of the island chain to the world.

Arnold Schwarzenegger
: The onetime bodybuilding star is now the Governor of California. Who would have thought?

Jesse Ventura: Bodybuilder/wrestler becomes governor of Minnesota.

Back in 2004, a Canadian source compiled a list of 10 athletes from the NFL, CFL, figure skating, and beyond that became politicians.

There are several politicians that played college sports and even a few more that were in the MLB. Oh, and don’t forget that a large majority of politicians play the game of golf. We know that Obama plays but I haven’t seen any video or info about McCain being a golfer. I've actually seen an article that says he hates golf but it was from a less-known source so I can't be certain of that. (I'd hate to make anything up about a politician after all!) What is an interesting factoid about the presidential candidates is that they are both left handed. In fact, Obama golfs lefty. This means that regardless of the outcome, the next president will be left handed. Bill Clinton and Papa George Bush were both left handed also. I guess that maybe lefties have a fast track to the White House in modern times? Does that mean I have a good shot of winning the presidency by that logic – a lefty and a golfer? Yeah, it is a stretch…

Watch out everyone, I’ll get Vin Scully to run as my VP and we’ll be on the ballot in 2012! Or not.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Glimpse Into Cricket



Some time ago I asked for someone to help me out with information about the sport of Cricket. Here in the United States many don't follow it but the sport has a very dedicated following outside of this country. Fortunately for me, the call for help was answered by a fan of the sport. Katharine Sinderson volunteered to help me with this post about what is going on in the sport today. She hails from Grimsby in the north of England which she proclaims is not very interesting. Having never been there I’ll have to take her word on that. She is quite the sports fan, particularly of cricket and has helped me with some of the latest happenings in the sport. She first contacted me to say that:

“The Indian Cricket League is actually a new league which is considered an unsanctioned one by the Indian cricket authorities, the BCCI. There is also an official league called the Indian Premier League to which the Board of Cricket Control in India have given their blessing. Both of these leagues, which are effectively in competition with each other for the time being, feature the shortened version of the game known as Twenty20 cricket. This involves matches which are similar in length to baseball games, rather than the more traditional forms of the game which take all day, or several days. Twenty20 competitions have been springing up all over during the past few years, basically since people started realizing that there was money to be made from them, not least, if I am going to be cynical, by attracting as spectators people who are not necessarily interested in, or knowledgeable about cricket, or even sport.

It has been up until now the international game, country against country which has been considered the most important aspect of cricket, and domestic teams are expected to release players for the national team in way that would make MLB managers apoplectic. Increasingly, the top teams in England are essentially 'farm' teams for the national team, and since it is an honor to play for your country, equally it is an honor to have 'your' player picked to play for the national side, even though you lose him for most of the season. Nowadays, most players are essentially owned by the national side if they are picked to play for it; this is the case in England where most national team members are now 'centrally contracted' and the national team coach has to give his permission for a player to play for his domestic team. Such a situation has only really been the case for the last few seasons and there are still rumblings of discontent about it, not least from some fans, but since everyone basically wants the national team to win and the upshot of that is that England must call the tune, it has been grudgingly accepted.”

I had to know more. I had no idea that so much controversy surrounded the sport. I also didn’t realize there was so much money and politics were involved in the sport. I had to know more so she sent me a note that said:

“There is a series of unprecedented exhibition matches about to be played in the Caribbean, to which equally unprecedented sums of money have been attached, and which has caused some controversy about the direction the game is taking.”

I asked her to help me out further by writing more about this particular set of events. Lucky for me, she obliged:

“It is not so long ago that when a national side from overseas started their tour of England, they first played a fixture against the exotically named Lavinia, Duchess of Norfolk's Eleven. Yes really! This would be an invitational team, probably including a couple of players who had recently retired, and was really just intended to get the tour underway before the serious business of international contests began. Nobody pretended that such a match had any real cricketing significance. It was just a fancy exhibition game. When the series of games known as the Stanford Series got underway Saturday 25th October, it could be argued that these also have about as much cricketing significance as those involving Lavinia, Duchess of Norfolk's Eleven, but with 'filthy lucre' attached.

When American businessman Sir Allen Stanford offered the England team $1 million a man to play a game against the 'Stanford Superstars' there were those who believed that the England and Wales Cricket Board should have nothing to do with it. The BBC cricket correspondent, Jonathan Agnew called it "a vulgar and completely unnecessary exercise". Yet, after negotiations looked like coming to nothing, a series of games, leading up to the big one, where the winners will receive $1 million each, but the losers get nothing, is about to get underway.

Compared with the top American sportsmen, cricketers are not well paid, although the leading players are comfortably off. Kevin Pieterson, the charismatic England captain who was appointed in the summer, has already said that he will give a portion of his winnings, presuming there are any, to charity, though he will put no pressure on his team mates to do the same. He has also said that in the current economic climate, with people losing their jobs and homes, there will be no overt celebrating in the event of an England win. Named in the Stanford Superstars team meanwhile, at the other end of the cricketing scale from experienced international players, is one Lennox Cush, a member of the United States team, whose regular job is as real estate agent in New York.

There is no doubt that these games will attract some publicity and are going to make some people pretty happy when they realize that they are suddenly dollar millionaires for around three hours work. The shortened form of the game, which has taken cricket by storm recently, is still not the real thing to the many purists however, and it is the upcoming tour of India and the home series against Australia, playing 'proper' cricket, over several days, that is the real cricketing concern of players and fans. And it remains to be seen just how "divisive", to use Jonathon Agnew's description, these games will be, when the dust settles, between the newly created “haves and have-nots” among England players.”

There has been a lot of negative publicity around the event and many wonder how the investor will recoup his money. Any way you slice it, the matches are an interesting drama in the sporting world that I am grateful were brought to my attention.

Thank you to Katherine Sinderson of Grimsby for diligently sending me all of this information. I am now even more curious about cricket and hope that I have done justice to all of the investigation that you have sent me.

What do you know about cricket? Does anyone else follow the sport?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wild World of Wednesday - October 29, 2008



MLB: The World Series is quite wild this year. There hasn't been a rain delay like this in recent memory and the very rules of baseball are being questioned. Phillies fans are coming out of their skin and Rays fans are holding their breath. The game restarts in the bottom of the 6th inning with the Phillies coming up to bat and a 2-2 tie. Whatever happens with this will be blamed for winning or losing I'm sure.

And by the way - Frank McCourt is still waffling instead of signing Manny Ramirez. How ridiculous is that? How many times to I have to complain about this? How much longer must I listen to everyone complain on sports radio? Let me guess, he's trying to poll exactly how many of us will actually stop going to the game or be fed up enough to stop buying merchandise? With record crowds and a huge television contract there must be enough money for him and several other stars. How about NOT building that unnecessary mall at the stadium if you're so strapped for cash?

NFL: If you look outside you'll see animals that previously had no wings in the air and flying. Yes, the Tennessee Titans are 7-0. Who would have bet on that? This is just the continuation of a very wild year in the NFL. No one is laughing at my choice of the Titans defense for my fantasy football team anymore...except me...


Today in Sports History


1942 - Branch Rickey is named president/GM of the Brooklyn Dodgers

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Blogspotting - October 28, 2008



Megan at …Because I Played Sports has penned another brilliant post - this one is a new, weekly roundup of women’s sports news from the blogosphere. Great job! I also appreciate the link love!

The Athletic Women Blog asks what will happen to women’s MMA since EliteXC is no more. Megan also talked about this recently. Look for an interview related to women’s MMA and reactions to the news in the future on Women Like Sports…

Did you know that Lisa Guerrero has a regular feature on latimes.com? She is always speaking her mind and throwing in some humor so check it out!

I’m still jealous of Nola and her travels. It looks like she is having a great time! It doesn’t hurt that the Saints won on Sunday…

Women’s Football Talk has an interesting project that they are reaching out to women’s football teams with.

What other interesting news in women's sports is going on this week?


Today in Sports History

1997 – The NBA announces hiring Dee Kantner and Violet Palmer as the first women to officiate a major-league all-male sports league

Monday, October 27, 2008

5 Questions With Sarah Spain



After sending me an email to check out her video proclaiming her intention to reverse the Cubs curse, I just had to know more about Sarah Spain. Her time in the spotlight starts with an idea of how to get tickets to see the Chicago Bears in the Super Bowl a few years back. She was a great sport and let me interrogate her for today’s five questions:

1. Alright, I love my Los Angeles Lakers but I would have never in a million years imagined putting myself up on eBay as a "date" to try and get tickets to the Finals. Was your decision really a move to get to see your Chicago Bears or just a clever scheme cooked up for exposure ('cause it sure worked if it was)? What did it really feel like to put that listing up?

While few people believe me, I can honestly say that I had no idea what I was setting into motion when I put the e-Bay ad up. About 5 minutes after the Bears beat the Saints, I went online and bought a flight to Miami--I figured I could get tickets, lodging, etc. with my friends who had agreed to head down to the game if the Bears made it. Unfortunately, they all bailed. I was on my own and needed to find a way to either raise the $4,000 (or more) for a ticket or win one somehow. After seeing "Screech" make a website to have fans help pay off his mortgage, I thought maybe I could make a "help me go to the Super Bowl" website and try to get people to donate a dollar each or something. Unfortunately, I didn't know html, nor did I know how to promote a site like than in the span of 3 or 4 days. So I was at work a few days later talking to my boss at Fox Sports about how much I wanted to go the game and I mentioned the website idea. He said "Why don't you just go on e-Bay instead?" I'd never used e-Bay and I thought maybe I could just tell a couple local radio stations about it and see if they'd give me a ticket through a contest or something. I put the ad up at 11pm and the next morning I had over 500 emails in my inbox. That's when I realized that I'd gotten myself into something way bigger than I thought. If you look at the wording I made it clear that I was NOT an escort--that it was just a "date" and nothing more. I told people I didn't want to be bought--so they shouldn't "bid"--I had no "buy it now" price so no one could claim to have won, and the day the auction ended was after the game. Clearly I didn't intend to actually go to the game with a stranger. While some people thought I truly wanted to be "bought" by someone or that I thought I somehow deserved to have someone PAY to take me to the game, the truth was, I was just hoping some company with a box would have an extra unclaimed ticket or, like I said, that the e-Bay stunt would just lead to a radio station giving me a ticket or something.

2. Have you always been a sports fan or is this your "shtick" since you're a tall, athletic woman? What sports have you played in your lifetime, organized or otherwise? Do you still participate at all? What are your favorite sports/fitness activities to engage in?


I've always been a huge sports fan. Growing up in the Chicago area during the Jordan era, it was hard not to be. I still have the ESPN 18-hour Jordan marathon on VHS, along with every MJ video, book, commercial, t-shirt--even MJ candy. To say that I'm a HUGE Jordan fan is the understatement of the year. As for the Bears--I was only 5 when the '85 Bears won it all, so for my whole life the city has been looking back on one of the greatest teams ever--one that I was too young to enjoy rooting for. The Cubs just recently broke my heart....again. I'll leave it at that. It's too painful to discuss right now. My love of sports was a direct result of my involvement in them personally. I played USTA tennis starting at a very young age, did gymnastics 'til my parents realized I was gonna be a giant, and rode horses up until high school. I did field hockey, basketball and track & field in high school and I was All-State in field hockey and track and recruited for all three sports in college. I ended up doing Division 1 track (heptathlon) at Cornell and was the captain of our 2-time Ivy-League Championship-winning team. I still LOVE to play any sport--softball, kickball, basketball, volleyball, flag football. I will literally play any sport or try anything athletic. I've just moved back to Chicago, so I'm particularly excited to get into the Chicago Sport & Social Clubs--a huge network of sports leagues and events. So yeah, I'm the real deal. I think it's unfortunate that women have to "explain" their interest in sports and that people think it's a "shtick" or a way to impress men or a million other things I've heard in my lifetime. I can't count how many times I told men I was an associate producer at Fox Sports only to have them ask "Oh, do you like sports?" Or when I told a guy a few weeks ago that I was a huge Cubs fan and he said "Oh yeah? Name four people on the team." Those are just questions a man would never get. True, there are more male sports fans than female, but that doesn't diminish the passion those select women have for their teams. There are plenty of female sports fans out there that are paying attention to more than the uniform colors or which team has the cutest QB.

3. Who do you consider role models, sports or otherwise? Additionally, what women in sports do you particularly admire - on the press, coaching, or athlete side? While we are here, do you consider yourself to be a role model?

Michael Jordan, of course. While I don't kid myself into believing he's perfect (the gambling, the women, etc.) I've looked up to him as an athlete and a competitor since I was a little girl with MJ posters all over my room. My mom has been a huge role model for me, too. She's a full-time lawyer with equal partnership in my parents' law firm, but she's always been there for her children as a mom, too. In her "free time" (I don't know how she has any) she tutors inner-city kids for the SATs, bakes dozens of cakes for her church's soup kitchen, quilts, has a rose garden...it sounds made-up, but she's legit Superwoman. I think the confidence, drive and ambition both my sister and I possess is directly related to the example our mother set for us as a career woman who can balance her work with being a mom and a million other things. Kenny Mayne is a huge role model of mine. I love how he combines his knowledge of sports with sarcasm, intelligence and a desire to entertain while informing, His "Mayne Event" videos are the kind of thing that inspires some of my funny, sports-centered, videos. As far as women in sportscasting, I respect Michelle Tafoya a lot. She knows her stuff and delivers her point of view with confidence, but in a conversational tone. As a woman working in sports (or any male-dominated industry, I suppose), sometimes it feels like you have to prove yourself over and over. I like how Tafoya seems comfortable and never forced. Am I a role model? Well, for everyone out there who doesn't know me as a person and only sees my e-Bay auction or my Bartman video, I can't imagine I am. On the other hand, I'm an Ivy-League educated, hard-working, honest person who has never sold out or bought into the b.s. that comes with trying to work in the entertainment industry. If someone cares enough to look back at the 60-something interviews I did during the Super Bowl fiasco, they'll see that I turned the conversation back to football and the Bears every chance I got and never let interviewers try to goad me into disrespecting myself or acting like a bimbo. If given the choice, I would always choose being funny and smart over being sexy (except, perhaps, in the bedroom!) I think that's a refreshing attitude in today's society, where people base their self-worth on being the prettiest, skinniest, most done-up person in the room. In LA, I watched people fly by me professionally because they were willing to give up their values or self-respect. I'm going to have the career I want without doing that--it just might take a little longer.


4. Do you get a lot of flack for your approach to exposure and press? People in the public eye always have critics, but how do you handle your particular critics? Does it even cross your mind or are you one to believe that any press is valuable?

I'll keep this one nice and simple: you can't please everyone. As I said, I had no idea my e-Bay auction was going to draw the press it did. When presented with an opportunity to not only go to the game (my initial goal) but also to work with and get to know people in the sports world, it was a no-brainer. I had been working at Fox Sports for several years, so I was qualified and experienced when the opportunity arose; I didn't suddenly decide I wanted to be a sportscaster because of my sudden exposure. I dealt with interviewers in a professional way and showed them that I wasn't an "attention whore" or faking my fandom. As a result, I got several job offers and have worked with at least 50% of the radio stations, websites and TV personalities on other projects or stories. So while many chose to view what I did in a negative light, the truth is I had a great idea and it worked. As for the Bartman video: that was for my job at MouthpieceSports.com. We're a start-up website with amazing content but limited awareness. By combining the soul-crushing playoff losses of the Cubs with humor, pop-culture and a viral appeal, I managed to get tons of exposure for our site. I certainly don't believe any press is good press--for instance, I'd never sell-out like Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt, making myself look like an idiot and a press-hungry freak show every day. My goal is be a knowledgeable and entertaining sportscaster and writer. If I get press for being one or all of those, then great.

5. We'll - you've been on a date on eBay and claimed to be getting intimate with Steve Bartman, what's next for Sarah Spain?

Well, I'm actually in a huge transition period right now. After 5 1/2 years in LA, I just moved back to Chicago to do reporting/writing and athlete relations for MouthpieceSports.com. It's exciting to work directly with the athletes and get to do out-of-the-box, creative videos and stories. I'm happy to be back in Chicago working with the teams I love--even though the Cubs didn't give me a very good homecoming. I hope to continue to do freelance writing for websites and newspapers, like the Chicago Tribune Red Eye, too. The way things have been going recently, I know better than to try to guess what's ahead. I just enjoy it as its happening and hope for more adventures (smile).

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sunday Sports Wrap - October 26, 2008



NFL: The San Diego Chargers are in London, England today to play the New Orleans Saints. It looks like everyone's favorite Saints blogger is there and will be posting the details of the game. How fun that must be! The stadium is ginormous compared to those we have for football in the States. I'm jealous.

MLB: The World Series continues tonight with Game 4 in Philly. The Rays are down 2-1 for now. I watched a silly segment on SportsCenter the other morning where they discussed the Philly curse. Just because a team hasn't won in 25 years, there is a curse? The Dodgers haven't won in close to 20 so are they cursed as well? I'm guessing its actually because owners of other teams spend a whole bunch of money to assure they win the titles. I can think of two in particular...

MLS: DC United are off to play the Columbus Crew and FC Dallas come to play the Los Angeles Galaxy. I can only shake my head at the latest David Beckham shenanigans. I guess I can't blame him for wanting to go sign a contract in Milan. I would probably get every ounce of money out of my career as well. My question is this - when are people going to tire of signing him for all of this money? Don't get me wrong, he's a great player but he certainly didn't do anything near what they hoped for the sport in America. He gets more attention for walking the red carpet here in Los Angeles than he does for his athletic prowess.

Today in Sports History


1863
- Soccer rules are standardized and therefore rugby starts as a separate game.

1981 - The Los Angeles Dodgers beat the New York Yankees 4 games to 2 in the 78th World Series

Saturday, October 25, 2008

NFL Juice



Yup, you knew it was only a matter of time. I refuse to believe that Saints fans will be the only ones to deal with the latest sports steroid scandal. In fact, a member of the Texans also stand accused.

First off, I do NOT condone the use of steroids. You should not use steroids. Steroids are wrong. That said, until the NFL money machine that involves owners, players, and fans stops putting the pressure on the athletes this will continue to happen. I am beating the dead horse that we already discussed when the whole Mitchell Report thing happened.

Enough said.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Blogpotting - October 24, 2008



This week has seen some interesting newsworthy events in the sports world. Hop over to …Because I Played Sports for these gems:

Kacy Stuart is Cleared to Kick on Football Team!

Perry Lee Barber: First Female Umpire in Major League Baseball. There is even a comment from Perry!

In fact, just check …Because I Played Sports every day. Megan always has great articles.

Pretty Tough also has some great reads:

Word is that Iranian women skiers will be a part of the next winter Olympics!

They also point out the women athletes in the long-running “Faces in the Crowd” feature of Sports Illustrated.

Women’s Sports Blog found a fun gem about Lorena Ochoa.

What is your favorite bit of women’s sports news lately?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Tales From The Inbox (and Mailbox) – October 23, 2004


Vis4Victory.org/Girls from GoGirlWorld on Vimeo.

The Real Deal: Lyndsey D’Arcangelo is not only the sports fanatic behind Girls Dig Sports but a real, published book author (as opposed to my publishing history of scientific publications and sports articles in smaller periodicals). I’ve just started reading her new book The Trouble with Emily Dickinson. As I’m going through the book I totally get why Lyndsey is billed as “the gay Judy Blume”. The book takes you through teen issues of acceptance and uncertainty while still maintaining a light tone. Amazon.com describes it this way:

Josephine Jenkins, better known as JJ, is in her senior year at Sampson Academy. She's a closet poet, a talented writer suffering from stage fright, and she's committed the ultimate lesbian faux pas - she's fallen in love with a straight girl. Kendal McCarthy is the ultimate prize. She's the school beauty and a popular homecoming queen. Though she may seem to have it all, she's tired of being known as the pretty girl with no brains. When she and JJ inadvertently cross paths, their lives suddenly become a bit more interesting in ways that neither of them ever imagined. Filled with unique and witty banter courtesy of Queenie McBride, JJ's over-privileged confidant, this tale of innocent young love exposes the reality of what can happen when two polar opposites collide in the most unexpected way through the poetry of Emily Dickinson.

I’m about halfway through and totally hooked – I can’t wait to read how it ends! You can get your copy from Amazon in paperback or in the Kindle edition.

V is for Victory: Did you realize that the gym and athletic facilities for girls are still very sub-par compared to those for the boys in most high schools? V is for Victory is a campaign from the Women’s Sports Foundation that aims to change that:

If you're like many parents, former athletes or sports fans, you may have sensed that young women are not being provided the opportunities to play sports that they want or deserve.

Title IX is a federal law that requires schools to provide female athletes with equitable equipment and uniforms, facilities, schedules for "prime time" games and competitions, and opportunities for participation.

The Women's Sports Foundation is bringing awareness to this issue with their V is for Victory campaign. To learn more and take a quiz about your daughter's opportunities at school, visit this link now.

The Women's Sports Foundation was founded in 1974 by Billie Jean King and is a national charitable educational organization dedicated to advancing the lives of girls and women through physical activity. We are the only national organization promoting all sports and physical activities for women of all ages and skill levels and are acknowledged by the media as the expert resource on all women's sports issues.


Southern California Breakers: It’s that time of year again to prepare for the coming season of women’s football! Here’s the latest press release:

The Southern California Breakers Women's Football Team Announces Tryouts for the 2009 Season

The Southern California Breakers are now recruiting women who have the desire to play full-contact football on a professional level. Tryouts have been scheduled for all women interested in joining the Southern California Breakers for the 2009 season.

November 2, 2008 at 10:00AM
Velocity Sports Performance - Irvine, CA

November 15, 2008 at 3:00PM
Velocity Sports Performance - Irvine, CA

December 6, 2008
Time and location to be announced on website.

Tryout Fee: $30 (Covers 2009 League Registration)

Copy of identification and proof of medical insurance will be required before trying out. No prior football experience necessary. Must be at least 18 years old to play. Velocity Sports Performance in Irvine is located at 40 Tesla, Irvine, CA 92618.

For additional information on tryouts, please visit the Breakers’ website.

ABOUT THE SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA BREAKERS

The Southern California Breakers is a women's full-contact football team participating in the Pacific Southwest Division of the Independent Women's Football League. The IWFL has over 1600 women playing for 41 teams across the United States with consistent expansion.


Vote for And One!: Hop over to LA Ball Talk and vote for your favorite basketball blogs for each team in the NBA. My favorite basketball blogger extraordinaire Carolyn from And One is in the mix so go over and give her a vote! You'll find her in the Cleveland Cavaliers section.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Wild World of Wednesday - October 22, 2008



MLB: The World Series starts today in Tampa. The buzz claims that it will be dull and receive very low ratings. Really? So it isn’t worth watching unless the same teams are there every year? Is everyone writing this opinion from Boston or New York? I think it is great to see a new team in the Series. Setting aside my obvious slant toward the Rays - why is it a ratings nightmare to have a team that had an atrocious record the previous year go to the Series? What happened to pulling for the underdog or rooting for the “little guy”? One player on that team in New York makes a bigger salary than the entire Rays team. How is that dull? Has everyone just become sheep? Everyone just wants to see the same 2 or 3 teams every year? Wake up and think for yourself, folks. Really.

NBA: I still can’t believe basketball season is here. What is quite amusing is that the Lakers website can’t spell the player names right. I wonder how long they’ll leave the typo "Jordan Farmer" up? I’m sure plenty of Lakers fans will notice and email them. I hate when I have typos and I certainly am not perfect but I know the Lakers website is a much bigger operation. Tighten up! (Yes, I am being a bit sarcastic…)


Golf: Tiger Woods was back at Torrey Pines this week as a caddy. A lucky golfer won a contest to have the world’s best cart around his clubs. Tiger didn’t actually physically carry the clubs but drove them around in a cart. Any way you slice that, it is still an awesome thing. I’d be hounding the man for swing critique and tips the entire time.


Today in Sports History

1939 – The first NFL game is televised with the Philadelphia Eagles vs. the Brooklyn Dodgers (Yes, that is the team name and not a typo – look it up! They later became the Brooklyn Tigers before disbanding completely.)

1973 - Ichiro Suzuki is born today.



And the winner is...

Doret!

Thank you to all who entered the 5 Questions Contest! I appreciate all of the feedback and realize just how shy you all are since most all entries were via email!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Rays The Roof!!



Yeah – as corny as it is, I just had to say it. Congratulations to the Tampa Bay Rays. Finally! Matt Garza deserved that MVP award and the team deserved the win. Rocco Baldelli is an amazing story and Evan Longoria is a first-rate player. All of the Rays deserve to bask in this victory. From the worst record in baseball last year with 96 losses to the best in the AL this year and 97 wins. You showed the Angels, Yankees, and Red Sox that you are a force to be reckoned with. In fact, you owned the Red Sox this year. What a ride!

So Tampa Bay, realize that you are a bona fide sports town. When I was in college there I saw that sports were an integral part of life. There are fans of all sports from all over the planet that converge there. Now you just need to support the local teams. The Bucs have won a Super Bowl and the Lightning have won a Stanley Cup so realize that Tampa isn’t just the place to see your favorite team come into town to play against. Support Tampa.

GO RAYS!!

P.S. Don’t forget…today is the last day to get in on the 5 Questions Contest. Thanks to all of you that have entered so far. I really appreciate the feedback that I have received.

Monday, October 20, 2008

5 More Questions With The Homeless World Cup



Kat Byles, Media and Communications Director for the Homeless World Cup has been a quest before. Since the event is nearly here, I thought it was a good time to catch up with what is going on with the event.

1. As the time draws near for the Homeless World Cup in December, what sort of final preparations are going on? Are there any shortcomings that you are facing? Has support been what you have expected or better?

With only about 6 weeks to go we are now in to all the detailed implementation of the Event. Currently the only shortcoming is the sheer magnitude of the actions that need to take place for an Event to go off beautifully. Support in Melbourne is fabulous. It claims a spot in the top 5 most abundant cities in the world and again for Events Cities in the world, plus Australia is sport mad. So the national and local community is right behind the Event. The Melbourne 2008 Homeless World Cup legacy is 30 street soccer programmes rolled out across the country by our partner there The Big Issue. This will involve 1500 people who are homeless every year and $3million funding has come from the government to achieve this.

However, we are currently seeking support for a number of the National Teams from Africa to attend. Anyone wanting to help can make a donation here.

2. How many teams are participating this year? How does this compare to previous years? Have there been many new entries?

48 nations attended the Copenhagen 2007 Homeless World Cup. 56 nations will be united this year for the largest Homeless World Cup ever. This includes 8 women's national teams for the first Women's Cup ever too. Yes, lots of new entries that includes Belgium, Columbia, Cambodia, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Philippines, Romania, Sierra Leone, and Timor Leste.

3. What are some of the challenges in pulling of this sort of event? How overwhelming are the logistics to manage such a major, worldwide event?


The logistics are not a problem. We have a great team in place in Melbourne with a lot of experience of putting on international events.

There is the challenge of moving 500 people who are homeless, some often without (legal) identities, across borders to one place for the tournament. Often some great work is done with the players before hand to secure a passport and national papers which then means that they have all the important documents needed to secure employment.

There is the challenge of securing enlightened partners corporate, organizations, individuals, to support the event financially and with their core competencies to make the Event happen. Internationally we work with UEFA, Nike, and Vodafone Foundation has recently come on board. We need to see another 4-5 partners take their innovative lead.

4. Are there any teams that already seem to be the favorites or the ones to watch? Are there particular athletes that we will be hearing more about? How many of these participants do you expect to transition into permanent sport/soccer related careers/lifestyles?

Every year it is a new team so we never know which ones will shine from one year to the next. Scotland, last year's champions, will want to make their presence known early on. Poland have finished the top 4 in four Homeless World Cup's but the championship has just been out of their grasp so they will want to change that I am sure. All the new nations participating may surprise us too! Currently over 70 per cent of participants participating will experience a significant life change, such as coming off drugs and alcohol, moving in to jobs, homes, education, training, reuniting with families. You may see around 20 per cent move in to coaching positions or take up with a soccer team. For example, David Duke, Manager Team Scotland led the team to victory last year, he was homeless himself and played at the Gothenburg 2004 Homeless World Cup. Michelle from Team Brazil last year now plays for the national U21's women's side and nearly 80 per cent of players stay playing soccer afterwards, isn't that great.

5. What can those of us around the world still do to make a difference in the lives of those participating? How can we keep up on the latest happenings and watch the event.

Share the story with your friends

Support your national team

Make a donation to the Women’s Cup here

Join us throughout the event here

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sunday Sports Wrap - October 19, 2008



MLB: Yes, I have a special video to emphasize just how exciting that I feel a Phillies vs. Red Sox World series would be. And yes, that really is my very own animal companion. At any rate, Garza is pitching for the Rays today in Game 7 of the ALCS against the Red Sox. He's done a great job of keeping his emotions in check so far...GO RAYS!

NBA: The preseason continues with three games today. The Los Angeles Lakers are at the bottom of the preseason standings. So what! The NBA preseason does not dictate how a team will do in the actual season. Seriously, the Clippers are on top of the Pacific Division and we all know how long that will last.

NHL: I still can't believe hockey has started again. Two games happen, with one being the Anaheim Ducks vs. Carolina. Let's see how the Ducks pull the season out. We know it will be better than the Kings. When will the Los Angeles Kings be a team again? *sigh*

And yes, there is plenty of NFL today - there are also plenty of people covering it and you'll likely get my complaining about it at some point later in the week.


Today in Sports History


1951 - Babe Didrikson-Zaharias wins the LPGA Texas Women's Golf Open

1981 - The Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Montreal Expos for NL pennant (ah, those were the days).

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Tired of the East Coast Bias



In case you didn't notice, I would like to see the Tampa Bay Devil Rays go to the World Series. I know you find it hard to believe that I am not a Red Sox fan (sarcasm). In fact, I am a fan of any team playing against a Boston team. In addition, I feel the same about New York teams (except for that last Super Bowl). Sure, both cities have won a lot of titles...blah, blah, blah. I remember it wasn't all that long ago that the beloved Patriots were a complete joke. The NBA Season is starting up and now I get to hear all about how awesome the Celtics are. Yawn.

To cheer myself up that the Rays didn't put Boston to bed when they had the chance and that the Dodgers are totally out, I thought I would link to past and current articles/blogs that feel the same way I do.

The headline of this article makes me smile.

I find it very amusing that people will actually pose the question of whether a team is good on Yahoo! Answers.

This thread is funny and sad at the same time.

This website title makes me smile even though they haven't updated it in a long time.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Baseball Blogspotting



Well, just because my Dodgers have petered out it doesn’t mean that baseball season is quite over yet. The Rays had the shot to end the Red Sox season last night but didn’t get it done. Urgh.

If you want to wallow in the misery of the Dodgers loss check out Dodger Blues. They always seem to capture the essence of our feelings about the team.

I never thought I’d find something to link to on this "blog" but TMZ has a slideshow telling the rich posers to get off of the bandwagon. I wish they would stay off, they are taking up my seats and driving up ticket prices.

And to further wallow in my misery – even a New York Mets fan feels the pain that I do of the McCourt rule and points out the absurdities that we must put up with as Dodgers fans.

Some Rays fans are already looking to next year.

Others have posts we can revel in regardless of what happens next.

We can also revel in bad Rex Sox jokes.

Oh, and this isn’t a blog but it cracks me up.

But, I’ll probably wear this one instead (yeah, still not a blog).

Thursday, October 16, 2008

In Mourning



I knew it! I knew it! I knew it! I knew that the Los Angeles Dodgers actually making it to the World Series was too good to be true. On the 20th anniversary of the very day the famous Kirk Gibson home run was hit the season is over. Argh! I’m really not surprised. The Dodgers will always be like that – you know, like that relative that promises to show up to your birthday every year and never does. They are my uncle that swears he’s gonna bring me a cake and we sit there and just wait but he never shows up…

Okay Mr. Frank McCourt, you listen here. First of all, BRING BACK MANNY RAMIREZ. Let me just be clear about that – BRING BACK MANNY. You know the guy with the hair that can hit the daylights out of the ball? Don’t be a total chump and let him go. He belongs here. While you’re at it – make sure Rafael Furcal, James Loney, Russell Martin, Matt Kemp, and Jeff Kemp stay too. Don’t be tempted to trade away Andre Ethier or Blake DeWitt either. Keep Brad Penny, Jonathan Broxton, and the whole bullpen while you’re at it. In fact, don’t get rid of anyone that has made a name here in Los Angeles. Don’t trade away all of the good players just to fund that freaking mall you’re building at Chavez Ravine to squeeze more money out of the fans.

A colleague tried to tell me that I should be grateful that they came this far. Whippee. So what? They made it to the NLCS. Sure, it is admirable. It is nothing to be unappreciative of. But for crying out loud, let’s keep the momentum. Build a team. We deserve it. You get record-breaking attendance all the time. We show up to the stadium and buy the merchandise. WE DESERVE A WINNING TEAM. By winning I mean the entire thing - not just a good record and appearance in the playoffs. Why can’t the Dodgers be the elite franchise? We don’t want to wait 100 years or anything like the Chicago Cubs.

That said - congratulations to all of you Philly fanatics. Shane Victorino is actually a class act as much as that sentence makes me want to hurl as I write it. The Philadelphia Phillies are in the World Series. I’ll only be watching if the Tampa Bay Rays make it in. Seriously, I’ve already mentioned how absolutely boring I think a Phillies – Red Sox World Series would be. Yawn.

Go Rays!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wild World of Wednesday - October 15, 2008



MLB: Wild? Yeah, that ALCS game last night was wild alright – 13 runs for the Rays! I’m still going to only be cautiously optimistic since the lid isn’t on this one yet. The announcers don't believe the Rays will pull this out at all. They continuously mention that the Red Sox have come back in the past and hype up all of their players. They act as if playing this series is merely a formality and that it doesn't make a difference how far behind they get. I’m loving it so far though – let’s see some new teams in the World Series! Go Rays! As for my Dodgers...urgh...I can't even comment right now.

NFL: The Browns beat the Giants? Eli Manning threw a slew of picks and the whole team was on another planet. How about those games this week that were won in the last few seconds? This nutty season has me at a loss for good picks! I did enjoy the Bucs vs. Panthers game very much though. I wonder how many times in a day does John Fox bite his tongue? I bet he wishes he could just smoke cigarettes on the sidelines. I'm not certain that he does smoke, but the way he chews whatever it is in there he sure does with conviction.

Premier League: I am so grouchy that I have been unable to keep up so far this season. Right now Chelsea is on top with Liverpool. The points are very close throughout so it is entirely too early to speculate what will happen.

Today in Sports History

1987 – The NFL Players Association orders an end to the 24 day strike

1988 - With 2 outs in bottom of 9th, an injured Kirk Gibson hits a dramatic 2 run homer to gives Dodgers a 5-4 win in 1st game of World Series…we all still get chills here in Los Angeles about this

1989 - Wayne Gretzky passes Gordie Howe as NHL's all time top scorer (as a member of the Los Angeles Kings – the video above says 1990 but all other sources point to 1989 although all agree on October 15)

1995
- Annika Sorenstam wins the LPGA World Championship of Women's Golf

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Boston Bandwagon Broken?



Just when I was stewing about the fact that Tropicana Field was full of red – lo and behold – Fenway Park had Tampa Bay Rays fans! Bwahaha. I’ve read several blogs recently that basically called the Rays fans a bunch of backward folk. Having gone to college in Tampa, I can say that this is not always the case. Most of those nuts you see out there have migrated from other places (I’ll spare you the details on the exact locations, but you know what I’m talking about if you’ve been there). Newsflash: Florida natives are actually normal people. They get a bad rap just like we do here in Los Angeles. Go ahead, ask 95% of those nutty residents where they are from…not originally the Tampa Bay area. Conversely, there are many transplants that are normal, upstanding citizens as well so I don’t want you to get the totally wrong idea.

At any rate, I’ve complained that Tampa residents need to stand up and claim their Rays –regardless of where they are from. I didn’t stop being a Dodgers fan when I was in Tampa, but I certainly never disrespected the home stadium of where I was living by wearing the opposing team jersey if they came in to town. Of course, I had the luxury of that not happening too often since the Rays are in the AL.

But alas, back to my original point…there were several people at Fenway Park wearing Rays garb. How does that feel Boston Red Sox fans? You look at those folks with disgust, don’t you? Ha! Now you know how the rest of the baseball world feels when you grace us with your presence in our home stadiums.

Oh, and I just have to point out how you all Red Sox "faithful" started to bail out in the 8th inning after Rocco Baldelli of the Tampa Bay Rays belted out that three run homer over the Green Monster. I don’t EVER want to hear you try to talk about Los Angeles Dodgers fans leaving early from games ever again. The Red Sox “faithful” were leaving the stadium in droves. So much for in it until the end, eh? By the way, those folks you see arriving late and leaving early to Chavez Ravine are generally posers there to stargaze. Sure, some fans can’t get there in time since we have no public transportation and traffic can be a challenge. For the most part, diehards get there and take the abuse until the game is over. Yeah, if you wait until all of the bandwagoners have left there is no problem leaving the parking lot.

Alright, I’ve gotten off point several times here – the intent was to point out that the Boston Red Sox bandwagon must be broken since I saw Tampa Bay Rays fans in the stands. I was just as amused by that and the home team fans leaving early as I was with the Red Sox loss. No, I’m not talking trash guaranteeing a Rays win of the ALDS. I would hate to jinx them like that. For now, I’ll remain cautiously optimistic and dream of a Dodgers – Rays World Series. Deal with it.

Monday, October 13, 2008

5 Questions Contest



Alright gentle readers, I’ve shaken you all up a bit this past week with my political post and uncharacteristically risqué post. The numbers from the various sources that show me readership and subscribers remained unchanged (yay...phew). So this got me wondering…

I don’t really intend to change much of anything but I thought I’d use today’s five questions to ask you to give me feedback. I have five questions for you about this blog that I would like you to please answer. You can either comment or send me an email with your answers. Either way, I would really appreciate your feedback. I like to know what those of you that stop by really think. I know that participation must sometimes be encouraged, so I’ll pick one person from the responses (both email and comments combined) to win a $10 iTunes gift card. The only condition is that you answer all five questions and get the answers in before the deadline mentioned below. My email address to use is sportswriterchick(at)gmail(dot)com. If you don’t get the anti-bot speak then click the link to view my profile and email me from there.

Alright, without further waffling…the questions

1. What do you like most about this blog?

2. What do you like least about this blog?

3. Do you prefer my general G rating or would you prefer things to be a bit more shaken up?

4. What would you like to see more of on this blog?

5. What would you like to see less of on this blog?

Don’t be afraid to fire away honestly. I would really prefer that. You won’t hurt my feelings. Of course, constructive criticisms are preferred. All responses must be in by Tuesday, October 21st (2008) at 11:00 pm PST in order to qualify for the contest.

Thanks in advance and good luck!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sunday Sports Wrap - October 12, 2008



Is it really mid-October? Wow! I lose track of the months (and always have) considering we don't have extremely significant weather changes or fall foliage around here. I know I'm supposed to start breaking out a jacket when World Series talk begins and it takes me by surprise every year. It was even worse in college since I was in Florida. Trust me, I'm not complaining at all. I've been in a city where it snows at sea level and that just isn't right to me. Snow belongs on the mountains that are in the distance. I know, pity me.

Anyhoo...I'll stop waffling...

MLB: The Dodgers need to step it up today. I mean seriously, how BORING would a Phillies vs. Red Sox World Series be. Do I really need to answer that? Speaking of which, I am so tired of seeing red in the Rays stadium. Stand up Tampa! I went to college there so I am in on the fact that there are a bunch of Boston transplants. I just want to know how that if Boston is such an awesome place - why did you leave? Please root for the Rays if you now live in Tampa. Have some respect. Those of you here in Los Angeles can either root for the local teams or leave as well...

NFL: I am 0-5 in one Fantasy League and in 3rd place out of 12 in another. Go figure. I'm watching the Bucs v. Panthers game today with great interest and thinking that the 49ers v.Eagles will be a good one to watch also.

Today in Sports History


1972 - The Oakland A's take the American League pennant with a 2-1 win in Game Five of the ALCS over the Baltimore Orioles. The A's Reggie Jackson steals home, but pulls a hamstring in the process which sidelines him for the World Series.

1989 - Herschel Walker is traded from the Dallas Cowboys to the Minnesota Vikings for 12 players (talk about an ego boost).

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Golf Cross – Yet Another Creative Way To Play Golf



Blogger extraordinaire Carolyn from And One sent me this little tidbit a while back and I am finally getting to post it. I’ve seen people do variations on the wonderful game of golf such as faster, farther, shorter, etc. Carolyn found the story of Golf Cross over at the blog Brain Blenders. Here’s what they had to say:

"Golf Cross originated from New Zealand, due in a large part to the fact that the natives didn't have the room, or the course management capacity to make original golf work. So, develop a game that doesn't take smooth fairways and pristine putting greens - hello Golf Cross. The key is the new golf ball, and net. The ball is oblong, like a rugby ball, and instead of putting into a hole - you chip into a net. Apparently the ball flies straight and true. Lean it to the left in the special tee and it goes left, right and it goes right, etc...People are juiced about a game that involves the mechanics of golf without all the difficulty of spin, shanks, and otherwise tedious ball control."

The oval ball is the key to the game and the Golf Cross website describes it this way:

"When you play with the oval GolfCross® ball you’ll be playing with a genuinely smart ball which, despite appearances, is actually more aerodynamically stable than the round one you know so well. Amongst other things it will enable you to:

1. Hit the ball straight every time.

2. Perform controlled slices and hooks with ease.

3. Adjust the degree of fade or draw you require.

4. Generate backspin — even with a wood or out of the rough.

5. Apply top spin to achieve long low running shots and,

6. if you really want to show off, do double curves and play tunes."

I’ve looked for this in other places than New Zealand but have only seen websites for it in Scotland. Let me know if you find it or have played it. I always enjoy trying a new sport!

Thanks for the info, Carolyn. You sure have a nose for sports news. Please visit her over at And One and you'll see things you've never imagined about basketball. Oh, and lots of LeBron James.

Friday, October 10, 2008

She's Doing Steve Bartman?



WARNING: By watching this video you will notice that my blog’s G rating will be pushed just on the other side of PG-13. There are bleeps so it is basically safe to watch in the office but they spell out and have some clear signs of the word they are using. Yes, they are dropping the F-bomb. And no, usual readers, simply because I have posted about politics and a risqué video this week it does not mean I am changing my entire M.O. I’m just gonna go ahead and shake things up a bit, just this once. After this, you will have your everyday, neutral, diplomatic blogger back that only every so often talks about her dislike for certain teams in a somewhat gentle way…

That said, the link to this video landed in my inbox from the lovely Sarah Spain. Check out the aforementioned link and you’ll see just how creative this sports fan can be. I found her very amusing and decided to pass it on.

Sarah is in a bit of a dilemma. You see, she’s a Cubs fan and…well…my beloved Dodgers have swept her team out of World Series contention. I feel her pain as a fan even though my boys in blue have won it all in my lifetime. Lately, it feels like it has been 100 years since the Dodgers have won to me.

At any rate, she is taking matters into her own hands and is determined to break the curse. Watch the video and you’ll see what I mean. This is like that Sarah Silverman and Matt Damon video a while back…

All of this has got me thinking…if the Dodgers don’t beat the Phillies and then win the World Series, does that mean I have to get intimate with Vin Scully or Tommy Lasorda. I love them both dearly, but not in that way…

GO DODGERS!



If you can't get the video to play try this link

Thursday, October 9, 2008

NHL 2008-09 Western Conference Breakdown



Back again, our buddy Casey from Bringing Hockey Back and the Penguins Analysis Blog has taken the time to break down the West for us. As I feared, my Kings will be at the bottom of the pile. I'm afraid I will have to agree with him on that one (sad face).


With the full North American NHL season about to open up later this week, it's about time to continue the predictions and breakdowns. Let's just jump right into the Western Conference.

Central Division

#1 – Detroit Red Wings – If it was possible for this team to get better than the team that dominated its way to the Stanley Cup last season, they found a way. Marian "Judas" Hossa turned down a long-term deal with the Penguins to sign a one-year deal with the Red Wings.

Sounds like a guy desperate for a ring to me, but that's his own prerogative.

Also new to the mix is the backup goaltender from the runner-up Pens in Ty Conklin. I don't necessarily agree with this move. The Wings have a great young goaltender in the farm who is probably ready to at least be a backup in Jimmy Howard.

The absence of the now once again retired Dominik Hasek freed up a roster spot for Conklin who can expect to get between 15-20 starts behind the aging Chris Osgood. If Osgood gets hurt and the load falls on Conklin and Howard, the Red Wings might be vulnerable. Outside of that, expect another near wire to wire division title and long playoff run.

#2 Chicago Blackhawks – I'm surprising myself with this one too. However, with the young core on this team and a solid goalie in net this doesn't seem too farfetched.

Sensations, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp are back to terrorize the league. The Hawks signed Cristobal Huet in the free agent market and have placed last season's starter Nikolai Khabibulin on waivers. Expect him to be moved or bought out soon.

They also brought in free agent defenseman Brian Campbell who decided to take the money and run from the Sharks.

Young teams are dangerous in the new NHL and in this incredibly weak division, Chicago fans may once again be reminded of what hockey is.

#3 – Nashville Predators – There are a lot of question marks with this team this year. Alexander Radulov is gone. So are Marek Zidlicky, Martin Gelinas, Darcy Hordichuk, Jan Hlavac and goaltender Chris Mason.

What they were able to do is lock up Shea Weber and Ryan Suter who will now patrol the blue line for years to come. Not a bad move, but can this team rebound with the loss of all the guys listed above?

Dan Ellis will be the main man in goal this season and if something happens to him, rookie Pekka Rinne will have to step up.

The Preds shocked me last year by making the playoffs with a depleted roster, but I don't think we're going to be experiencing déjà vu this Spring.

#4 – Columbus Blue Jackets – The Jackets made a ton of offseason moves and on paper have a much improved team over last year's squad.

The problem here is the guys they landed aren't exactly A-quality players. The best move they made was acquiring Raffi Torres from the Oilers.

The also added Christian Backman, Fedor Tyutin, Mike Commodor, R.J. Umberger and Kristian Huselius.

The Rangers won't lose sleep over the loss of Tyutin, but Backman could be a very solid physical defenseman. Commodore is another good signing and Umberger and Huselius will need to prove that their success wasn't just a fluke due to the lines they were on in Philadelphia and Calgary respectively.

The other question I'm having trouble with is about goaltender Pascal Leclaire. He put on a very good show last season and was a surprisingly good fantasy pickup for GAA and save percentage. Is he for real? Are the new acquisitions for real? Could this be the season that the Jackets make the playoffs for the first time in franchise
history?

These guys could challenge for a playoff spot, but there will be no playoff hockey for the Jackets this year.

#5 - St. Louis Blues – Woof. It does not look good for the Blues at all this season. There is a youth movement going on and with any youth movement, there's a learning curve of a couple seasons before you see
results.

Welcome to the beginning of the youth movement in St. Louis.

Blues fans will have to wait another season to see defenseman Erik Johnson again, who tore two ligaments in his right knee in a freak golf accident.

The Blues were able to go out and sign Steve Bernier away from the Canucks and he should help contribute on the offensive side of things.

For this team to have any success whatsoever, Bernier, Keith Tkachuk and Paul Kariya are going to have to take the team under their wings. Don't expect much in St. Louis this year, but looking down the road a couple years should make Blues fans smile.

Northwest Division


#1 – Vancouver Canucks – Is this the year the underachieving Canucks finally take a run at the Cup? Not sure, but I do see them winning this wide open division.

The major knock against this team was the lack of offense they had. Basically if you scored 3 goals and some could argue even 2, you would win against these guys.

They are going to be without Markus Naslund who left for Broadway, Brendan Morrison and Trevor Linden.

At the draft they snagged Kyle Wellwood away from Toronto in a brilliant move. This kid is going to be a stud in the league for years to come. They also added veteran Pavol Demitra to the mix. If Demitra can stay healthy, he's a proven scorer and could ignite some more guys to get in on the act.

The best aspect of this team is their defense and especially in net with Roberto Luongo. Look, Luongo is a fantastic goalie, but he needs help. If the Canucks can find the back of the net, Luongo can lead them to the promised land.

#2 – Edmonton Oilers – This was one of the busiest teams in the league during the summer. They acquired a major threat on the blue line in Lubomir Visnovsky from the Kings. To make room for Visnovsky, the Oilers shipped Joni Pitkanen to Carolina for Erik Cole and sent Torres was sent to Columbus for Brule.

They are returning with a young core of guys including Dustin Penner and Ales Hemsky who will need to continue to put up big numbers.

Sheldon Souray is returning from an injury plagued season and I would think he would play with Visnovsky. I'd be afraid to skate into the zone with those two on the ice. Seriously, keep your head up.

A lot of people are taking these guys to win the division. I'm not totally sold yet, but I'm encouraged by what I've seen so far.

#3 – Calgary Flames
– I'm not so sure about the moves they made this summer. They allowed guys like Eric Godard, Owen Nolan and Alex Tanguay to get away.

They then went out and got Mike Cammalleri Curtis Glencross nd Rene Bourque. I like those acquisitions for the most part and thought they were on a war path to the division title.

They follow this up by adding in glassjaw Andre Roy and inexplicably go out and sign Todd Bertuzzi. I don't understand the Bertuzzi move at all considering we are only a few years removed from one of the most horrific moments in NHL history, which ironically happened between two teams in this division. Now he's back in the division with a different squad.

Anyway, the Flames do have one of the better goaltenders in the league in Miikka Kiprusoff. However, Kipper has looked a little old over the last couple seasons. Maybe it's the lack of consistency the team has shown that's getting to him, but we'll see.

It will be up to Jarome Iginla to spark the team and if the new guys step up and produce, this is another team that could win the division.

#4 Minnesota Wild – This is kind of low for a playoff team from last season, I know. However, these guys lost some very key guys and are on the verge of losing another.

Gone are forwards Brian Rolston and Demitra. Mark Parrish is also gone after being bought out. The one guy who may be on his way out? Marian Gaborik. The Wild and Gaborik are trying to get a long-term extension worked out and if that doesn't happen expect a blockbuster trade to happen sooner than later.

If Gaborik leaves town, that would mean the entire top line from last year is gone and a big chunk of the second line is gone as well. The new additions of Nolan and Antti Miettinen from Dallas will help, but they're not Demitra, Rolston and Gaborik.

This is shaping up to be a bad season for the Wild, but I didn't expect them to do as well as they did last year either. Maybe they'll do it again, but it's going to be very tough.

#5 Colorado Avalanche – This is a team that just keeps getting older and as a result it's going to be a long year in Denver.

Joe Sakic has returned and the team brought in Darcy Tucker from Toronto. They also locked up defenseman John-Michael Liles to a long-term deal. Those moves are solid and all, but what did they do to help the biggest weakness being goaltending?

Not a whole lot.

Peter Budaj will be the number one guy and he's either on or he's not. They lost Jose Theodore to the Capitals and replaced him with Andrew Raycroft. Razor was basically exiled from Toronto after his sub-par play with his big contract and is looking for another fresh start. I wouldn't expect to see these guys in the playoffs, but stranger things have happened I suppose.

Pacific Division

#1 – Dallas Stars – Fresh off a Western Conference Finals appearance, the Stars are back and are poised to make another deep playoff run.

The Stars made a somewhat peculiar move in letting Miettinen walk and replaced him with super agitator Sean Avery.

Brad Richards was acquired at the trade deadline for goaltender Mike Smith and was a pleasant surprise during the stretch run and playoffs for Dallas. Now that he's had a chance to play with the club and get used to his new surroundings, look for a big year out of Richards.

Mike Modano and Jere Lehtinen are another year older, but bring a veteran presence that you can't put a price tag on. This division is the polar opposite of the Northwest, which is wide open due to mediocrity. The Pacific is wide open because there are 3 powerhouse teams and any one of them is deserving of this No. 1 spot.

#2 – San Jose Sharks – I don't think any team improved its defense more than the Sharks this summer. I'm still in awe of what they were able to get.

They had Campbell who they got at the trade deadline. I was a bit puzzled to see the Sharks just let him leave town and not lock him up. Then they go out and land veteran Rob Blake from the Kings.

In addition to Blake, the Sharks made a trade and landed fantasy stud Dan Boyle and Brad Lukowich from the Lightning. That's 3 guys who will vastly improve this defense and could very well shake the playoff curse that hangs over the Shark Tank.

Evgeni Nabokov proved he is a workhorse last season starting 77 out of 82 games last season and winning 46 of them. Maybe this time around the Sharks will tone his load back a little to keep him fresh for the playoffs.

Should that happen and Joe Thornton continue to light the way for the Sharks, this could be the year they give Stanley a tan.

#3 – Anaheim Ducks – At face value, this is the exact same team as last year's roster. The only major acquisition was Morrison from the Canucks.

However, last season both Teemu Selanne and Scott Niedermayer delayed retirement and joined the team late in the season. This time around, both are signed and ready to go on opening night. They'll have their skating legs under them and regardless of what they have in the tank still, you know they will produce.

Jean-Sebastien Giguere is once again the main guy between the pipes and I must say, a very solid fantasy choice. He finished last season with 35 wins in 58 games with a 2.12 GAA and .922 save percentage. You'd be crazy not to pick him in your drafts.

Either way, the Ducks have a ton of young talent with Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and former number-two draft pick Bobby Ryan. Ryan should be on the opening night roster and if the hype about him is correct, he could make a huge impact.

#4 – Phoenix Coyotes – The Fighting Gretzky's just missed out on the
playoffs last season and could very well be in the hunt again this year. The biggest problem for them is that they're in a division with the Stars, Sharks and Ducks.

The Coyotes improved by subtraction this offseason. Gone are defensemen Keith Ballard and Nick Boynton, both dealt to Florida for Olli Jokinen.

I absolutely loved this move. Jokinen figures to be a top line player and they unloaded two defensemen, who are average at best. Yes, they're physical guys but I would have done the same thing to get Jokinen.

The other move that could end up looking more brilliant than it was last season, is the signing of goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov who will need to be solid once again for this team to have a shot.

#5 Los Angeles Kings – Well, the good? Anze Kopitar, Alexander Frolov, Patrick O'Sullivan and Dustin Brown are a very nice core to have. Defensemen Jack Johnson is also a nice commodity to have on you team,
even with how young he is.

The bad? That's about all that's on this team. Rob Blake and Visnovsky are gone from the top defense pairing, another scoring threat in Cammalleri is also gone and they have no goaltending to speak of. Jonathan Bernier is still a year away or so, but unless he gets a defense to play in front of him, it will be a rough go of it.

Jason Labarbera and Erik Ersberg may not be bad goaltenders on paper. However, there's a saying that a goalie is only as good as his defense. In this case, these guys are in trouble.

Baring a miracle of Biblical proportions, the only thing the Kings will be battling for in the Spring is the No. 1 draft pick.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Wild World of Wednesday - PSA Edition



In the interest of social responsibility I am going to take a cue from blogger Kellex at The Sports Dollar. I saw his post a few days ago saying that the above video was being used in the blogosphere to play tag in order to go viral. The idea is this – post this and link to five other blogs which comes from the video asking you to send it to five friends. So you can just send it to five friends or copy Kellex's idea as I have and link to 5 (or more) blogs. Hopefully, those 5 will link to 5 more and so on…

Whatever your affiliation and whatever you believe, there is no reason to complain if you don’t make your voice heard. I was in college in Florida during the famous “hanging chad” fiasco of 2000. Before the election, I was involved with a bi-partisan group of students that executed a major effort on campus to get other students registered to vote and then to exercise that right to vote. I remember walking into the campus coffee shop on Election Day wearing my “I Voted” sticker. The guys behind the counter and I had engaged in several conversations about how we were going to vote the days prior. Guess what? When I asked them where their indicative stickers were I got excuses instead. “I couldn’t find where I was supposed to go.” In the days that followed, they felt quite idiotic knowing that they didn’t make their voices heard. Don’t let this happen to you.

Again, if you’ve been here before you know that I am pretty darn neutral and diplomatic and allow everyone to express themselves freely. I won’t tell you how to vote, I just want to remind you to please vote. Please? Thank you.

Tag – these blogs are “it”:

That Mutt

TheHappyNappyBookseller

Women’s Sports Blog

…Because I Played Sports

Sarah and the Goon Squad

And for good measure I thought I would go ahead and overdo it and tag Girls Dig Sports, Pretty Tough, Chicks in the Huddle, And One, and Women’s Football Talk.

You’re it!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

What's A Raiders Fan To Do?



Alright, I’ve previously written about my feeling of nostalgia and connection to the Oakland Raiders. During the time they played in my hometown of Los Angeles they brought a Super Bowl win to the area. It was a happy time. The eccentricities of Al Davis didn’t seem so bad. Everyone knew he was nuts. Raiders fans dealt with it. The team was winning. The Black Hole was in full force and a scary place to be without a silver and black jersey. Well, actually that last part hasn’t changed.

But what now? I still wear my faded Los Angeles Raiders t-shirt and Super Bowl champion t-shirt from their win against the Washington Redskins back in 1984. At times I get snarky comments from non-Angelinos and other smarty pants fans. I have no problem wearing these around town. I can tell my fellow Angelinos as they are the ones smiling and giving me fist pumps as I pass by. You just aren’t a Los Angeles native unless you own at least one article of clothing or cap that says RAIDERS on it.

I have to admit – Al Davis is making this a very difficult time to continue wearing my garb. I’m not even one of those die-hards that gets all dressed up in the chains and face paint. What are these fans thinking? How can they bear to put on the costume every Sunday and feel good about themselves?

Let me just put it out there – I think firing Lane Kiffin was a bad move. I refuse to believe that the son of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive mastermind Monte Kiffin could possibly be that bad of a coach! Warren Sapp reportedly said that when he was a player for the Oakland Raiders that they only gave the younger Kiffin half of the team to coach. The offense and defense never got to meet together. What the heck sort of plan is that? Even Denver Broncos coach Mike Shanahan weighed in on how absurd Davis’ firing was.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – someone please take the team away from Davis before he hurts anyone else. This is not the 1970s and 1980s. The game has changed. You have a massive fan base. They deserve more!

Help us…someone…anyone…

Monday, October 6, 2008

5 Questions With Pretty Tough



Another Monday and another interview with a remarkable woman from the sports world! Have you checked out the Pretty Tough website? You need to. I’m truly honored to have Jane Schonberger as my guest and I think you’ll enjoy what she has to say. I’ll allow the mastermind to introduce herself and answer my five questions:

I’m originally from the East Coast where I attended high school and college. I began my professional life in New York and moved to Los Angeles in the early 1990’s to work as an entertainment executive. I’ve spent much of my career developing and producing content for Disney, Fox and other studios.

I’m now the mother of two daughters and as such have come to intimately understand the role of gender bias, especially in the media. I don’t want my girls to ever encounter a glass ceiling and I feel more compelled than ever to address the imbalances that exist in both media representations and real life.

As my young daughters began to play sports, I quickly saw the many benefits of athletic participation. I also saw the partiality that exists between male and female athletes – even at a young age. For example, little boys easily conceive of themselves as pro athletes with little more than a ball and delusions of talent. Little girls, even those that excel, are rarely encouraged to entertain such fantasies.

Navigating a life course is filled with variables, and girls in particular have to make hard personal choices to express their identity. They struggle with a bewildering array of challenges to their self-image. Through their performance, their bodies, activities, etc. they try to chart a course that lies acceptably within ideas of what it is to be female.

Raising girls, I became fascinated with the idea that a person’s identity may not be reducible to just one personality. We can have constitutive or “non-competing” identities (for example being a girl and being an athlete or being a girl and being president). I don’t want my daughters to be pigeon holed (“Nobody puts Baby in a corner”) and I’m intent on presenting as many opportunities as possible without regard to gender stereotypes.

The good news is that the range of what is acceptable for girls is broader than ever. As my daughters get older, I see first-hand that a young woman’s femininity and desire to play hard and be strong can co-exist. Girls who play sports and enjoy 'spirited or competitive' activities aren’t out of the ordinary – in fact just the opposite is true – they’re extraordinary.

With a vested interest in eradicating gender stereotypes, I’m focused lately on creating opportunities for young women, through athletics, business, entertainment and other platforms.

1. How did you come to start Pretty Tough and how did you decide on the name? Who is your target market and what are your goals with the site and brand?

Pretty Tough came about as a result of both personal and professional experiences. As a development and marketing executive for entertainment and lifestyle brands, I noticed a void in the marketplace when it came to female athletes. And as the mother of two female athletes (and a former/wannabe athlete myself), I know how transformative an experience sports can be.

After some preliminary market research, we learned that our audience has a very visceral connection to being Pretty & Tough. They embrace the duality and intuitively understand that the two terms are not mutually exclusive. Hence, the company name.

We like to say Pretty Tough girls are as comfortable in cleats and a pony tail as high heels and glitter. As a company, we recognize that girls kick grass on the field but enjoy a bit of glam before and after the game. We’re all about celebrating the different personalities and attitudes that make up the female athlete. Learning to be comfortable with who you are - hardly an easy task for even the most self-assured girl - is what Pretty Tough is all about.

Our mission: to be the premier brand and media property providing high-quality, specialty content, products and services for young female athletes nationwide. We hope our brand empowers and motivates young women to embrace their femininity and athleticism while encouraging them to lead active, healthy lifestyles.

At our core, we are a lifestyle company and I think it’s important for girls to understand how sports and leading active lives are central to a healthy lifestyle. Pretty Tough girls who live a “sports-inspired life” are also interested in fitness, beauty, fashion and entertainment – essentially they want to be physically competitive while keeping in touch with their girly sides.

Over the past couple of years, PrettyTough has grown to include three distinct elements:

PrettyTough.com
is the online turf for sporty girls. It’s a place for female athletes and fans of women’s sports to blog, socialize, find training tips and information to help improve their abilities, and stay up to date on their favorite sports and sports personalities. There are also a number of services available including a robust database of sports camps, clinics, and leagues for girls and an event calendar. And of course there are feature articles that appeal to a female athlete’s feminine side – articles about beauty, fashion and entertainment.

PrettyTough Publishing - We’ve quickly established ourselves as one of the key players in the field of teen sports books. Partnering with Razorbill Books (Penguin Group) we’ve published a series of YA novels that illustrate the life of female athletes in a way that's never been done before. We show the grittiness and sweat that champions must endure along with the challenge of balancing sports, school, family, and a social life. We created the Pretty Tough books because we love to read, and as teens, we could never find good books with a strong female athletic protagonist. So far, there are two books in the stores: “Pretty Tough” and “Playing with the Boys” both written by the extraordinary Liz Tigelaar with more on the way.

PrettyTough Products
– We’ve created a number of products specifically for female athletes from apparel and accessories to health & beauty care. Just because girls love sports doesn’t mean they lack style so our products reflect that unique blend of attitude and style. We’re currently in discussions with a number of licensees to grow this part of the business and make more products available at retail – an exciting development.

2. What sports did you play growing up - for fun and for competition? What sports do you continue to be involved in?


I’m definitely more of an athlete now then I was younger. Growing up I played sports primarily on a recreational level. I leaned more towards the creative - studying art, literature and photography in school.

I played competitive tennis as a teenager although not at an elite level. Now, I love being athletic – with biking, hiking, kayaking, swimming– regular pursuits. I still play tennis and I play basketball on a Moms League which is really my first team experience.

I’m also an avid spectator – one of my daughters is an elite level soccer player, the other is a fencer – and I love going to youth sports competitions as well as college and professional sports events.

3. What are the most significant sporting events throughout history for women in your opinion? What is the most meaningful event that is sports-related that you have personally participated in?

Probably the most significant event for women in sports was Billie Jean King’s 1973 victory over Bobby Riggs. We all know she was at the height of her career while he was on the downward slope so the match itself wasn’t that spectacular but Title IX had just passed and the match sparked a revolution for women as well as a heightened awareness of female athletes.

The Women’s World Cup in 1999 was the first sporting event I attended where I could literally feel popular opinion shift. With nearly 100,000 fans in the stands, the most-attended women's sports event in history, the U.S. Women’s National Team held the appeal of rock stars. These players were Title IX babies who embodied the best of what women in sport stands for. And the match was incredible! It was as good a competition as any sporting event, male or female, I’ve ever attended.

More recently, Danica Patrick winning an Indy race put to rest the notion that women can’t compete against men. Drivers like Janet Guthrie and Lyn. St. James had already put a stake in the ground but Danica got the checkered flag and will go down in history.

On a far more personal level, I’m involved in supporting girls in our community via sports events with the Los Angeles Parks & Recreation Dept. and the Girl Scouts. And as a company, Pretty Tough sponsors girls across the country that are involved in both traditional and non-traditional sports. I find participation at this kind a micro level is extremely meaningful.

4. What is the most rewarding thing about covering sports for you? The most challenging?


The most rewarding aspect of covering sports has to be the many inspiring stories about girls and women doing remarkable things. The most challenging would have to be the scarcity of information on women’s sports.

I don’t think of PrettyTough.com as strictly a sports news site as we cover lifestyle stories equally. My favorite part of writing and editing for the site is finding stories that have impact outside of the sports arena.

For example, did you know that 80% of female executives at Fortune 500 companies played sports when they were girls? Or that singers like Ashanti and Queen Latifah were successful high school athletes? Or that Serena Williams is a fashion designer as well as a professional tennis player? I love connecting the dots and seeing how sports impact women’s lives in unexpected ways.

5. What do you think it would take for professional women athletes to be compensated the way their male counterparts are? Tennis and golf come closer than most other sports - but how can women gain the respect and recognition that they deserve as athletes in your opinion?

Tennis players and golfers are definitely the highest paid athletes. Maria Sharapova is the biggest earner but Venus and Serena Williams, Annika Sorenstam, Lorena Ochoa and others have also broken into eight-figure earnings territory. IndyCar driver Danica Patrick is very close to being part of that club.

When the All England Club announced it would offer equal prize money across the board to both men and women tennis players it was a milestone – in fact women actually get paid more than the guys based on the number of sets they play – truly a first!

Not only do sports have a direct influence on the American way of life - an estimated 100 million people regularly participate in sports and hundreds of millions more watch sports events on a regular basis – but sports are also serious business. It’s not just about filling stadium seats; it’s about media rights, ancillary products and merchandise as well.

I think women are beginning to get the respect and recognition they deserve but pay equality has clearly not caught up. As more and more young women become role models, they’ll begin to get more corporate support. Olympians Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson have legions of fans and so it makes sense for companies like General Mills (Wheaties) to Procter & Gamble (Secret) to employ them in their recent marketing efforts.

Unfortunately female team-sport athletes still have a ways to go. WNBA stars like Candace Parker, Diana Taurasi and Lisa Leslie don’t get nearly the same money from corporate sponsors that LeBron or Kobe command.

I think we’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg however with women’s sports. Just as college sports exploded in the past couple decades; women’s sports will be the next huge growth area. College basketball games used to be played in empty arenas. Today there are entire cable networks devoted to college sports and they’re big business for all involved. Women’s sports will follow a similar trajectory.

In the short-term, companies should recognize that women involved in sports and living a healthy lifestyle are a valuable demographic with enormous spending power. Hopefully more corporate executives will focus on utilizing female athletes, teams and events in their marketing efforts to both fuel the growth of women’s sports as well grow their bottom line.

And of course, everyone needs to support the effort by attending women’s sporting events, watching televised programming and buying products endorsed by female athletes. As they say in that great (smile) film High School Musical, “We’re all in this together.”