In Loveland, Colorado on July 7, 2021, it ranged from the mid 60’s to the high 80’s with a blue sky sporadically dotted with white clouds. It was a perfectly beautiful day, but not an ordinary one.
Honey my Foxfire Red Lab and I walked that day – a lot. She didn’t want to go back inside. 5AM-5:30AM we saw more than I’d expect from the wild and domesticated kingdom. Baby bunnies played in the grass in front of us. A large raccoon came out of the bushes, sat down and watch us walk. Her current best buddy, Jaxson the cinnamon lab, came strolling by with his human pal Bridgette and did a quick nuzzle. The birds, most of them, came out in force. A great horned owl swooped down right in front of her followed by a white pelican. Mallards swam toward her. Swallows dove in and out, and a lone cardinal played its song.
No geese though. Very unusual for a typical morning, but not so unusual for they knew – she hated geese. What else did she hate? Fireworks but only if she saw them as she seemed to think we were under attack. Cats, but cats hate pretty much everything. People moving without moving their feet – like kids on scooters or skateboards and people coasting on their bikes. She once took a kid right off his scooter. Didn’t hurt him, just knocked him off like a safety taking a wide receiver out from under his feet.
I thought I’d take a big giant step onto a frozen pond and take a look into the NHL playoffs. After all, they started two days go. Perfect timing… except the NHL, while starting Round 1 of the playoffs is STILL MAKING TEAMS FINISH THE SEASON WHO DIDN’T MAKE THE PLAYOFFS.
Seriously, CAPS is the only way I can make a statement here. This is so blindingly stupid I cannot even put it into words other than MAKING THEM ALL CAPS. The Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames, two teams who haven’t been in any contention whatsoever to snag any playoff spot in the Scotia North division since, I don’t know, mid-March, have two regular season games left. The play tonight and tomorrow. This is going on DURING ROUND 1 OF THE PLAYOFFS.
Does this make any sense? Is it me? Have the NHL brass been playing pond hockey without helmets again? Traditionally – well hell let’s just throw tradition right out the window into a snowdrift shall we – the playoffs begin when the season ends. Every single major sport does it this way. Why you may ask? So the entire focus is on the playoffs and not wondering how the bottom tier teams are going to do tonight and what impact it has on their draft slot. WHO CARES?! NO ONE!
By the time the season ends for the Flames and Canucks, four of the first-round matchups will be done with Game 2 of their respective series. This is so incomprehensibly stupid I cannot get my head around it SO I JUST HAVE TO USE CAPS.
Sigh. Deep breath. STUPID. Try again,. Sigh. Deep breath. Meditate. Don’t think. Let it go. Frozen. Frozen. Canada. Flames. Canucks. DAMMIT. I’ll be back.
First off, I am a San Francisco Giants fan. Ergo while I will love this series, it’s Giants first for me. Have been since the mid ‘80s when I moved to Los Angeles and found the Dodger faithful about as lackadaisical a fan base as I have ever witnessed. Show up in the 3rd inning, leave in the 7th. Loved Dodger stadium, Dodger dogs, and the game. But the fans? Not so much. When I was able to go to the NLCS in 1985 and watched as Jack Clark cranked out a 3-run homer so the Cardinals could advance and leave the Dodgers at home and watch Pedro Guerrero throw his mitt up in the air in disgust, I smiled. The team may not have deserved this fate, but the fans did. The Dodger were up 2 games to nil and had lost 4 straight, with the last two being losses in the top of the 9th behind their closer Tom Niedenfeur, who was then dubbed Tom Need-in-fewer-games.
So, I jumped onto the Giants bandwagon and have been a fan ever since. After all, they were the Dodgers main rival no matter how far behind them that season they were as the Giants ended up an awful 62-100 in 1985. By 1987 I had moved from Los Angeles to northern California and the Giants were a team on the come. The rivalry grew more intense, intense enough that on April 21, 1987 in Candlestick Park, someone threw a battery (along with beer) at Dodgers first basemen Mike Marshall who made an ass of himself rounding the bases after hitting a 3-run homer. It wasn’t a car battery, don’t be ridiculous. I think it was a D and I’m pretty sure it didn’t hit him plus other small hard objects were tossed as well (and more beer). Hence, we started calling every Giants home game when they Dodgers came into town “Spark Plug & Battery Night.” Needless to say, security got beefed up a bit more.
The Giants fans were far more rabid. They had to be. Before the jewel the Giants play in now – Oracle Park – Candlestick Park was their home and was one of the worst stadiums ever. When you went to a game in July and sat in the cheap seats, you didn’t just bring a jacket, you brought a sleeping bag. The fog coming in off the bay was so cold it could turn a mild California summer day into a Midwestern winter one. 1988 saw the Dodgers get to the World Series and they upset the favored A’s led by a blindered Tony Larussa who just couldn’t see how his two main hitters went from normal big men to ginormous hulks. By 1989, the Giants had caught up and got to the World Series the summer I moved to Chicago. I intensely watched and cried. Not because they were swept by the A’s, but because of the devastating earthquake that hit during the beginning of Game 2.
I could go on and on about the Giants, Dusty Baker pulling the same crap Larussa did except this time it was one player rather than two, and the three World Series victories they captured in the ‘10s once they got a far better manager in Bruce Bochy… who came from the Padres. But this is not about the Giants, it’s about the current rivalry between the Dodgers and the Padres.
This could be thought of two ways – the NHL has reached the 80th percentile on their way through the regular season… or the NHL is really playing at about 80% overall right now.
In truth, it’s both.
This article was all set to run Monday morning… as in Monday the 19th of April. Sunday the 18th was supposed to be Colorado Avalanche game number 45, the benchmark for roughly 80% through the regular season.
The Avalanche finally reached the 50% mark, actually a game over as they dominated the Wild yesterday afternoon with a 6-0 victory. Yes it is half the season – even if the Stars have only played 26 games and a few teams are at game 34. The Stars are in Dallas which is in Texas which believes COVID is a Democratic conspiracy done in conjunction with China.
Halftime. You sure? Those of who are observant of hockey, there is no halftime in a game. I once took a date to a Blackhawks game and at the end of the first period, she asked me “Is it halftime?” In hindsight it would have been easy to explain to her the game is divided up in thirds, but I just stared at her. Thusly the conversation went as such: “Is this halftime?”
“It is, right? Let’s go get snacks.”
“Actually, it’s the end of the first period. There is no halftime in hockey.”
“You’re an asshole.”
Couldn’t blame her. The stare was a little harsh. But the date was not going well anyway. Let’s move along, much as I did after that date.
It’s snowing in Colorado today. We’re supposed to get somewhere between 18 inches and 3 feet, depending upon what part of the front range your domicile resides. As such, why not give you some great Oscar moments in time.
There may have been a better title for this, but I’m not going to spend a crap-ton of time mulling that over. I’m not a headline writer nor do I have one at my disposal.
Do I think my kids hate sports? Hate is such a strong word, but I’m sure they do not appreciate them like I do. In fact, I’m not sure within the past 30 or so years of two wives, two different families and my own family anyone likes sports as much as I do. I spent a considerable amount of time watching football by myself at various Thanksgivings. Of course, my first marriage was into a family of scholars and scientists and for Thanksgiving they brought out flow charts and graphs about their latest work (I’m not kidding). Brilliant people, but criminy it’s Thanksgiving. As such, the TV became my friend… but not the Lions, never the Lions.
Okay, the only person who ever had the same zeal for sports that I have was my father. That’s where I got it from. Whatever team I wanted to win; he’d want the other. That was the nature of our relationship. He was certainly athletic, one of those multi-sport high school stars who ran roughshod over his opponents. He was good. Country good as he grew up on a farm, but not Jerry Sloan country good. That’s a far higher level.
Back to my kids. They were treated to a ton of games as they grew up. I was in advertising, and one of my clients for five years was WSCR The Score. So yeah, we went to a lot of games. While my fandom was certainly sated, I think I completely overwhelmed them.
But they played sports. Not as much as I did. I had something to prove – that I could beat my dad in basketball. Even though baseball was my favorite sport, it’s too hard to beat another individual at it and frankly he was a better hitter than I. No, I picked basketball. It took a lot of effort, and finally when I was 14 or so I beat him at HORSE. I know it hurt him as he was not the best at sportsmanship. Pretty sure he accused me of cheating. But that was normal. Accusations of cheating caused us to stop playing cards and board games when I was growing up. I was 9 when we stopped.
It’s spring training and all the teams are out there getting prepped for the six months of regular season ahead of them. Baseball, since its season is so long, is a weird sport and team fortunes can change pretty quickly. However, I am not going out on a very long limb by stating this could possibly be the most lopsided season we’ve seen for a long time. The disparity between awesomeness and sorry-ass, to me, has never been wider.
For some teams the season will be far longer than they want. As such let’s start in reverse, like a spinning bunt that hits fair but slowly trickles right over the foul line to ultimately just be a strike… or in these collective teams’ cases, an out.
The ‘Keep your Bats in the Rack” Group
Colorado Rockies – they traded their best player, Nolan Arenado, to the Cardinals for a sack of seeds that no matter good the soil is and how carefully they water, will never germinate to anything of substance. They will be so bad that if California slides into the ocean, the Rockies still won’t win the NL West. They’re destined to be bad for a minimum of 5 years. Are there other teams worse than the Rockies? I believe yes, at least two.
I probably should have divided up like periods and done thirds, but as promised I waited until the Avalanche reached game 12, aka 25%ish, to file a report on how the NHL season is going. Twelve games. The season started in early January so my math would have the Avalanche playing game 12 on February 4th. Nope – make that February 14th.
Why the delay? COVID. Five games postponed. I guess since they played Game 12 on Valentine’s Day COVID now stands for Colorado Valentine’s Isolation Day.
On another aspect, isolation made sense. The morning temperature on V-Day was a whopping -6˚F at my place. Deep freeze people, deep freeze. COVID has thrown the whole schedule into a blizzard. I wish it were a Dairy Queen one which actually sounds kind of good and my local DQ stays open until midnight and is the size of a Culver’s which is crazy, but alas that is a negative. How is the schedule playing out you ask? Bwa, Ha and Ha. The Vancouver Canucks have played 18 games, the Avalanche 12. The New Jersey Devils? 9.