NHL Report: The Quarters

AKA the conference semi-finals, but only the NHL cares THAT much about the Conference Finals. It’s all just window dressing to get hockey fans slobbering about the Stanley Cup Final.

Don’t think I am going to go on about why it’s called “Final” as opposed to “Finals” again. I won’t as it’s too silly to be discussed. Okay? Okay. Great.

As I am writing this, I’ll do a “live” report on the Oilers-Flames series. Right now, it is 0-0 because they’re six minutes away from dropping the puck for period 1.

Now let’s check out The Quarters by taking a deep dive into a frozen pond and scope out the Eastern Conference. As expected, and I predicted – as if it’s that big of a deal it was not hockey magic like an Edmonton goal from someone else besides Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaiti – only the Hurricanes, Panthers and Lightning stand a chance of hoisting Lord Stanley’s Cup. The four teams left, those are three. The other is the New York Central Park Rangers who are currently down two games to one versus the Hurricane. The Hurricane are the team I picked to win the Eastern Conference, but they must contend with a scrappy Ranger squad then the Tampa Bay Lightning. The TBL (to shorten it so I don’t have to keep typing their insipid name) are up three games to nil against the Florida Panthers. The cake is baked on that series so all that’s left is the icing.  Man I am hungry. Time to prep dinner – broiled teriyaki salmon with brussels sprouts, garlic and spinach.

Time for the Western Conference. First, we have the Avalanche versus the Blues. On paper this should be a 5 or 6 game series and still might be. The Avs are up two games to one but really got hammered at home 4-1 in game 2. They rallied big time and crushed the Blues 5-2 on St. Louis’ home ice Saturday night though. Tomorrow night is Game 4.

The keys to this series? Keeping the Blues off the power play. They are really good at scoring on the power play. They only team better this year than them are the… yep, you guessed, the Avalanche. As such, each have the same goal so to speak – keep everything 5 on 5 as much as possible. Key 2 is the same as it is on every team left – good goalie play combined with solid defense. One’s goalie can only do so much – we will get to that in a moment. Suffice to say the team that may be in danger are the Blues. They lost their number one(ish) goalie last night, Jordan Binnington when Avs forward Nazem Kadri was going after a loose puck and got shoved into Binnington by Blues player Calle Rosen. Of course, Blues fans – the blind ones – can’t see how Kadri didn’t hit Binnington on purpose but completely fail to see if Binnington had made a clean glove save and not had the puck bounce off him to sit at the front of the net this wouldn’t have happened. And, as it is St. Louis, Kadri is now getting racist death threats. How sweet of the hockey ignorant.

Time Out. I am going to go make dinner now. I’ll be back to report on Game 3 of the Oilers-Flames matchup in a while as well as continue with the Western Conference in general.

Brussels sprouts are roasting, it’s nil-nil 7 minutes into period 1.

Back to the report. I am not done with the whole Kadri brouhaha. Effectively, I just want to go on the record for two items – one, Kadri has been known to mix it up a bit too much and in fact was suspended last year during the playoffs. Two, you Blues fans who are acting like asses, look at the damn play. It clearly was not on purpose and clearly was Kadri going after a loose puck in front of the net. If you all want to really bitch about something, bitch about how your team decided the right time to pull your goalie was way too early. Goal 4 the Avalanche scored via Gabe Landeskog was declared an empty netter but it was kind of comical watching Blues goalie Ville Husso struggle to try and get back to the net to no avail.

oh Landy, you came and you scored without their goalie and it iced the game, oh Landy.

Let it be said the Avs also lost a player yesterday. Speedy defenseman Sam Girard was checked into the boards by the Blues forward Ivan Barbashov. Now if you’re thinking “hey, he sounds like he’s Russian” he certainly is, so let’s just get this out of the way to keep Avs fans frothing “gO BaCk to ruSSiA U coMmiE!” It was a clean check, just a rough one. Girard is out for the rest of the playoffs with a broken sternum. Ouch.

As for the Oilers-Flames matchup AKA “The Battle of Alberta”, you may scroll up to take notice to see how I wrote “one’s goalie can only do so much.” That particular goalie for the first tow games has been starting Oiler goalie Mike Smith. The Oilers lost Game one 9 to 6. Granted it wasn’t all his fault. He was pummeled with 10 shots in the first 6 minutes and let 3 of them into the net. As such he was pulled.

Now it’s still nil-nil at the end of Period 1, but the Oilers are the aggressors outshooting the Flames 21 to 7 at this point. Brussels Sprouts are done, the salmon is broiling, and the Oilers look like they may be cooking the Flames. There’s something poetic about that last part.

For game 2 the Oilers stuck with Smith and they won 5-3 as he stopped 37 out of 40 shots. The Calgary Flames are not going to take it easy on him whatsoever or any Oiler goalie for that matter. For Game 1 they had 42 shots. It may be tied at 1 game each right now but I cannot see how the Oilers are going to win a series when their goalie(s) have to withstand that much pressure. The Oilers can fire away too, but they are “down” 82 shots vs 68 shots through the first two games.

Food is done and delish! FYI, listening to the Flames radio broadcast via the web is pretty hilarious. Lots of “oh-ffense” and many “a-boots” plus for the first intermission you get “Flames history on this date” which was nothing but talking about the move from Atlanta 42 years ago and three coach firings. So weird.

GOOOOOOAAAAALLLL! Not sure why I am so excited. I don’t care about either team, but the Oiler Zach Hyman (AKA The Virgin) just scored for the Oilers. Maybe it’s the whole “Battle of Alberta” deal. Calgary and Edmonton are a mere 3 hours AKA a case of Labatt’s (for the passenger c’mon now) apart, don’t cha know.

Just went through the Flames playoff history. The Oilers had Gretzky so we know they won Stanley Cup after Stanley Cup. The Flames have hoisted the Stanley Cup once in 1989 with co-captain and legend Lanny McDonald.

Opah! Another GOOOOOOOAAAALLLL! The Oilers are working very hard to prove me wrong. I used OPAH because I just heard their commercial on Alberta Flames radio. It’s the largest Greek Mediterranean franchise in Canada, don’t cha know. And the Oilers just scored again, Evander Kane for the second time. It’s 3-0. I’m done with this game. OPAH! It’s now 4-0 and Kane has a flippin’ hat trick in one period. Now I have to take back my snarky comment about just McDavid and Draisaiti scoring for the Oilers. I’m also REALLY done with this game.

What else don’t cha know? My original prediction is still gold – I have the Hurricanes versus the Avalanche in the Stanley Cup Final. The Hurricane are good, but not good enough. Avalanche takes them in 7.

See you for the Stanley Cup Semis, AKA the Conference Finals.

The USFL Report: What? Yep.

Hey kids, remember a couple years back when the XFL had their inaugural season derailed by the pandemic (allegedly) and then the whole league disappeared like a fart in the wind?

Good times.

Well, we here at Fancy Boys Club HQ feel as if by writing about the XFL, were an integral part of the league taking a swan dive right into an empty swimming pool. Now we are out to do it again.

Welcome to the USFL Report.

The USFL? Now hold on just a second there fella, wasn’t that the league that Donald Trump was a part of and didn’t it, like a vast majority of his enterprises, go into the crapper? And was it about 40 years ago, too? Yep. They had three seasons from 1983-1985. For the 1986 season “they” planned on moving the league from the summer to compete directly with the NFL. None of us are privy to any audio of their board of directors meeting before the 1986 season, but I think the conversation probably went like this:
Owner A: Let’s not play in the summer anymore. Too hot.
Owner B: Spring?
Owner A: No, fall.
Owner C: So you want to compete directly with the NFL?
Owner A: Yes.
Owner B: I’m out.
Owner C: Out.
Owner D: Out.

Owners E, F, G and H in a tenor-style chorus: OUT!

And BTW, Owner A was New Jersey Generals owner Donald Trump.

Right after this alleged meeting of which we have no audio, the USFL folded faster than a Japanese kid doing origami.

The Birmingham Stallions looks like a bad marriage between the Denver Broncos and the Florida State Seminoles

Now, the USFL is back baby with a new range of fat cats ready to bankroll the new USFL and probably take the tax write-off they have been dreaming about. Not only has the USFL has a Phoenix-like rise (without fighting for water rights just to create a city way too large to exist in a desert), but they have also taken the original names of the franchises.

There are eight teams in two divisions: The New Jersey Generals, Birmingham Stallions; Houston Gamblers; Michigan Panthers; Philadelphia Stars; New Orleans Breakers; Tampa Bay Bandits; and the Pittsburgh Maulers.

Before we get to the team evaluation portion, let’s look at some of the unique rules the USFL will be playing under.

Continue reading “The USFL Report: What? Yep.”

Opening Day: Reporting on the other 98%

Opening Day – FINALLY – is upon us. The MLB and MLBPA did their darndest over the winter to dangle us like stale cotton candy stuck on a wad of freshly chawed chew to delay Opening Day via what seemed to be endless negotiations, but they merely delayed it by a week. Spring training was shortened so we may see some crazy-ass baseball for a few weeks, but it ought to be fun.

It will be full regardless how much the Cubs will suck and they will suck. Photo courtesy of me – yeah I shot it.

I took a swing at the teams and thought about writing a prediction – who will suck, who won’t, who will make the playoffs despite their roster or manager or owner – but said to myself, “no, let’s not do that. Let’s talk about the MLB farm system. – the other 98%,”
Personnel volume-wise, it is not 98%, but by player salaries it has to be close. The baseball farm system, in case you do not know, is a place where you get what you want to make everything better for yourself on the cheap. This is also known as MLB owners collectively stating, “we’re going to drag your sorry asses all over the place via bus just for you to get a chance to get to The Show.”

The MLB, Major League Baseball for those who do not know, has consolidated their minor league ranks into the MiLB, or “Minor League Baseball.” The reason why they consolidated is the reason why owners of teams do everything, to save some money. Yeah, you’ll still see minor leagues unaffiliated with MLB, but those players are seriously toast. They are done, have been done for a few seasons, and are just there to tip their hat, strike out or throw a hammy, then limp back to the dugout. That’s more of a sideshow circus than baseball IMO, but people still go to see it. The Schaumburg Boomers, part of the Frontier League which I believe is an MLB “Partner” league (AKA you don’t really exist in their eyes, but it is baseball so whatever now pay us), would be one of those teams.

Okay, let’s check out the MiLB right… now.

Continue reading “Opening Day: Reporting on the other 98%”

Scott Hall 1958-2022

Scott Hall 1958-2022

Very few people can say they were the face of a seismic shift in an industry. No matter the medium, more often than not the status quo reigns supreme. Often, when someone helps author massive change, it isn’t appreciated until after the fact. Luckily, Scott Hall’s career apexed at a point when he did bring change to the wrestling industry, it was felt in the moment. Scott Hall is one of the most important people in the history of wrestling, and has a great responsibility to what wrestling evolved into.

Hall passed away on Monday due to complications relating to hip replacement surgery. His body was eroded by three decades in the wrestling industry coupled with a hard lived life that caused many to believe he wouldn’t make it this far. Nobody gets out of wrestling in one piece when you are a part of it for as long as Hall was and the history of wrestling is littered with stories of people Hall, but very few reached such heights and helped redefine the business.

Continue reading “Scott Hall 1958-2022”

Baseball, Art Out of Time: Touch ‘Em All, Joe

Baseball, Art Out of Time: Touch ‘Em All, Joe

There are two ways to end a baseball game- either the final out is recorded, or the winning run is driven in. In the 1992 World Series, the last out was a failed bunt by the Braves’ Otis Nixon, easily scooped up by Blue Jays pitcher Mike Timlin and tossed to first. It was a simple play, one that Joe Carter had fielded hundreds of times before. As he clenched the ball, he started jumping around like a kid, elation overtaking his body. Carter had caught the last out of the season.

The following year, the Blue Jays were back in the World Series. Back then, home field advantage merely alternated between the leagues. So that meant game six in 1993 would be played in the American League park. The Phillies held a 6-5 lead going into the bottom of the ninth, hoping to force game seven. Rickey Henderson was at second, Paul Molitor was on first representing the winning run. Mitch Williams ran a 2-2 count on Carter, regaining the advantage on a slider inside. The next pitch was a near carbon copy of the one Carter had missed, but he swung again anyway.

Continue reading “Baseball, Art Out of Time: Touch ‘Em All, Joe”

This Isn’t The Player’s Fault

This Isn’t The Player’s Fault

Last week, MLB players were supposed to start Spring Training. Currently, they are sitting at home, waiting. Due to an ongoing lock out, Major League Baseball has been put on pause, with the threat of part of the baseball season being cancelled. As with all things such as this, there is a lot of acrimony involved, and unfortunately, a lot of the negativity is being directed towards the players. This is wrong.

The players are not to blame for this fora number of reasons, but the biggest reason is this: The players are not on strike. The players are ready to go back to work immediately under the parameters of the most recent Collective Bargaining agreement. The owners have locked out the players in an effort to further restrict player’s abilities to make money while maximizing profits for teams that are not currently putting in an effort to win games.

Continue reading “This Isn’t The Player’s Fault”

California Knows How To Party: Dr. Dre, Sexual Anarchy, and Where This Super Bowl Halftime Show Ranks

California Knows How To Party: Dr. Dre, Sexual Anarchy, and Where This Super Bowl Halftime Show Ranks

First off, let’s get the disappointments out of the way: there was no hologram Tupac on Sunday night.

Continue reading “California Knows How To Party: Dr. Dre, Sexual Anarchy, and Where This Super Bowl Halftime Show Ranks”

An Agnostic Football Fan Guide to the Super Bowl

An Agnostic Football Fan Guide to the Super Bowl

So it’s that time of the year. The biggest sporting event of the season is happening and your favorite team is long since eliminated from contention. The elimination could be heartbreaking (49ers/Chiefs) or predetermined by fate (Jaguars/Lions). Thirty fan bases are left out in the rain on February 13th. And the remaining fanbases?

Bengals fans have been so embarrassed by their team over the past three decades that they didn’t really claim their own existence until a month and a half ago.

The Rams….well, they don’t have fans. I can speak to this because I was in St. Louis over the weekend, when they beat the 49ers to go to the Super Bowl. The team, who existed in the STL until just a couple years ago, do not have many fans (more on this later). The team now exists in Los Angeles, which doesn’t give a damn about them.

Over 70 million people watch the Super Bowl each year. The vast majority of those people are not fans of the Bengals or Rams. Welcome to the Agnostic Football Fan Guide to Super Bowl LVI.

Continue reading “An Agnostic Football Fan Guide to the Super Bowl”

The NHL Report at the All-Star Break

The NHL in the first ‘half’ (we are beyond the halfway point but the All-Star Break is a reasonable spot to be considered halfway), we saw the league do some good things. One, they pulled their players from participating in the Olympics. Frankly, just preventing the players from being exhausted for the stretch run it would have made sense. Protecting them from possibly being more exposed than they already are to COVID is another. Two, COVID protocols have seemed to work. There have been times when teams have had to take time off because their ranks have been decimated by the virus, but that lay-off doesn’t really seem to affect good teams. And bad teams are, by definition, bad so who fucking cares.

Regarding good teams, let’s slip on some skates and glide around with my favorite team, the Colorado Avalanche. They played Trashville on December 16th and got their ass handed to them, losing 5-2. Due to COVID, they didn’t play again until January 2nd. Basically, they got a public-school Christmas Break. A long layoff ought to make a team pretty rusty, right? Umm, large no on that one. They won their return game, roasting the Ducks 4-2, then proceeded to go 14-1 for January, vaulting themselves into first place in the Western Conference. They’re 8 points above the Trashville Sabre Cats (Yes I know they are the Nashville Predators, but look at their dumb-ass logo) with two games in hand.

Nazem Kadri of the Avalanche is having a hell of a season. Here’s hoping he keeps his head on straight and doesn’t do anything stupid to get suspended like her did for the playoffs last year. Photo via The Hockey News shot by Jeff Curry – USA Today Sports

What does two games in hand mean? I’ll get to that. Tighten the laces on your skates and let’s continue.

Continue reading “The NHL Report at the All-Star Break”