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.
If you’re like me and you wait until the dust has settled before deep-diving into prop bets for the Super Bowl, you my friend are in luck. I have discovered some choice prop bets for Super Sunday and will simply give you the winners. All you have to do is donate some of your winnings, let’s call it a bet-tithing, to your favorite comic so they can do something positive with it. Me? I’ll be donating to Matt Drufke. Why? Because he’s a good guy and I know any money given to him will be going for something noble. Perhaps a college fund for his boys. Maybe a new re-fill for his waterbed. Or he could just blow it on a fur-lined mic.
As for the game, it’s the Chiefs vs the Buccaneers. In spite of their victory last year and their refusal to change their name or stop that insipid tomahawk chop, I will be very reluctantly rooting for them. It’s not the Buccaneers team as a whole that’s so disturbing, in fact I’d love the see former Bronco Shaq Barrett dismantle the QB machine known as Mahomey. It’s Brady. Tom Brady has been in nearly 25% of all Super Bowls. His teams are 6-3. That’s enough. He needs to lose and lose badly. I don’t bet on the game itself. It ruins the enjoyment of it for me. Therefore, I think I’ll hit the prop (proposition or ‘side’ bet) bets. Let’s take a quick look at a few of them now.
How Many Commercials will have a dog in them? This is an over-under bet and sits at 4.5. Since a half-dog is pretty much impossible let alone gross, take the over. Biden is in office now so dogs are front page news.
Will there be a COVID vaccine commercial? A ‘no’ means you need to bet 160 to win a 100. However, it’s likely there will not be one specifically about the actual vaccine.
Super Bowl Gatorade shower color? No, it’s not a weird new shower product, it’s about what color the liquid is when it’s poured onto the winning coach. Since the Chiefs will win, I’d go with red/pink. It’s at +300, so $100 wins you $300.
Total TD passes by Mahomes? The over-under is set at 2.5. Over means you need to drop 150 to win a 100. I’d do that.
Apparently the Zambonis have all been finally fixed and are able to smooth the ice so the NHL can begin their season January 13th. Luckily the 13th is not a Friday, but it may as well be. Yeah I know, it’s not the Zambonis’ fault they haven’t started the season. It was NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman’s fault. Fine, it was COVID… or how best to navigate COVID. But, Bettman is such an awful commissioner he’s always the person to point at for NHL problems.
Last year, as you may recall it since the season just ended in the middle of September, the Tampa Bay Lightning took home Lord Stanley’s Cup. It’s so 2020 to have a team that never has any ice outside of its arena claim the Cup.
Yeah, I know. That was so last Fall. So who’s going to hoist the Cup this year… whenever the season ends given the specter of COVID? The season is slated for 56 games, roughly 2/3rds of a normal season. But for the NHL, 56 games is enough to determine who should make the playoffs and who shouldn’t since nearly every team makes the playoffs anyway. A full 16 out of 31 teams make the playoffs. Next year it’ll be a full 50% as the Seattle Kraken are coming. Damn it I love that name.
A side note: before we get into the deep chasms of ice and hand out predictions easier than a dirty carny hands out tainted sno-cones, we have a couple rule changes to go over.
Number 1 – Offsides is now determined to not occur until the offensive players last skate completely crosses the blue line. Ergo, if a skater’s foot is in the air, but still behind or above the line when the puck completely crosses the blue line, he is onside. I am dubbing this the “phantom foot” as I can envision a lot of extended time being allotted while the NHL replay monitors in Toronto spend minutes drinking Labatt’s and deciding if the foot was or wasn’t over as it hovers in frozen time threatening to cross it.
Number 2 – the Colorado Avalanche are allowed to play with an extra attacker the entire season.
Fine, the second one doesn’t exist. It should though. It’s only fair as their goalie situation is still as shaky as spring pond hockey. That’s the reason why they didn’t make it to the final and soundly whip that team from the south. Should I go on with my predictions? Isn’t that enough?