Sunday, November 22, 2009

Decent Proposal

The World Series is long over now. The Yankees won, blah blah blah. I've mentioned before, I'm not a huge baseball fan. But during the playoffs, I did read an interesting tidbit in SI's For The Record. Susan Finkelstein, 43, was arrested and charged with prostitution and other offences for "offering sex for World Series tickets".


And I don't mean "What??!? A woman offered sex for tickets??" I mean, "What??!?!? A woman was charged with prostitution for offering sex for tickets??"

I did some intertubes searches and found the report of her Craigslist ad:

"DESPERATE BLONDE NEEDS WS TIX (Philadelphia) Diehard Phillies fan--gorgeous tall buxom blonde-- in desperate need of two World Series Tickets. Price negotiable--- I'm the creative type! Maybe we can help each other!"

So the Bensalem Township police baited her and she allegedly offered to perform unnamed sexual acts for an undercover officer.

After her arrest and charges, her name (sorry, here too) and her picture were plastered across television and the internet.

As a diehard fan, if I thought I could get final playoff tickets for my team, any team, by offering my best assets, wouldn't I do it? Would you do it? But more importantly, it should be allowed.

Rant For the Day

The sudden death rule is bullshit. Both teams should have equal chance at possession. A quarterback rallies back and plays an amazing 4th quarter and watches from the sidelines while the other teamgets the glory in OT....for winning a coin toss??!! I'm not saying the NFL should adopt NCAA rules, but they have got to put the kybosh on sudden death. Players make millions a year and only play 16 games a season. A few extra quarters in the off chance of OT once or twice a year wouldn't kill them. And especially to know that this rule might ruin a team's (rhymes with Hotlanta) chance for a wild card spot. To a team (rhymes with mallice) who beat the Redskins 7-6!!!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Send me to the Olympics!

I wrote the piece "Warm Heart in the Frozen Tundra" for a Journalism contest with the Globe and Mail. I had to shorten it significantly to submit it. You can read the edited version and VOTE FOR here!!

Thank you!

Warm Heart in the Frozen Tundra

We left Chicago at 7:00 am on a Sunday. We drove north along Lake Michigan, into Wisconsin. By the time we hit Milwaukee, every radio station was fixated on one thing. Kickoff was at 1:00 pm. We were in Packer Nation. When we arrived in Green Bay, the town was painted in green and gold and I was wearing red and black. I was a long way from home, but the Atlanta Falcons were much further from theirs.

It is truly remarkable that a city, population only 100,000, and its team can captivate NFL fans around the continent. It felt like a pilgrimage of sorts. Green Bay, the mecca of American football, and the winner of the first two world championships after the merge of the AFL and the NFL.

Up until that year, I had never seen the Atlanta Falcons win a game on the road, or even at home in Atlanta. People at home in Ottawa had warned me about being a visiting fan in Lambeau Field. I scanned the crowd of over 72,000 people for my fellow cheer section. We looked like a thin string of red Christmas lights on a towering green tree. The friends I travelled with were rooting for the Packers. To keep us in good rapport with the locals, they claimed.

My quarterback, Matt Ryan, was a rookie and the leader of a team deep in the rebuilding process. I wondered what it might feel like to come to a field such as Lambeau, as a rookie, to play against a storied team with fans as loyal as Packer Nation. Could it be the American equivalent of a young Canadian boy dreaming of lacing his skates to play in the NHL? Could it be the same as walking into Maple Leaf Gardens or the Montreal Forum to play a team that’s humble beginnings were over a century ago?

Ten minutes into the scoreless first quarter, while I’m making friends with the cheeseheads surrounding me and the Falcons are marching up the field, they score a touchdown on a goal line pass. The Falcons are on the board first and the game is on. A field goal for us and a 44-yard touchdown for the Packers ended the first half with a score of 10-7. Leadership was proven for the Falcons with a 90-yard, 9-play touchdown drive in the 3rd quarter. The Packers answered with a field goal in the same quarter and a touchdown in the 4th, to tie the game with only seconds more than 10 minutes to play. Though Packer penalties and special teams errors were the demise of their game, the Falcons proved themselves winners with strong defense and vision from their rookie quarterback and offensive line who kept possession of the ball throughout the end of the game to score the winning field goal.

After 60 minutes of trying to ruffle the Falcons’ feathers, it was over. I stood up, clapped, and took it all in. I looked around at the famous names on the stadium boxes: Vince Lombardi, Willie Davis, and Curly Lambeau, among others. There I was, 87 years later, watching the Falcons win for the first time. As people started filing out of the stadium, a man tapped on my shoulder. I turned and he was standing with a boy maybe 10 years old. They were dressed in green and gold and holding their Packer flags that staff had given to every person entering the stadium. He said, “Good game.” I smiled and replied, “Thank you, yes it was.” “We’re from Green Bay and it’s my son’s first time at Lambeau Field. It’s hard to get tickets, you know.” I looked at the boy and pondered the idea that he likely lived a walk or short drive from the field and had never been inside. “Are you from Atlanta?”, he asked. I laughed and said, “No, I’m from Ottawa, Canada.” “Well, we’re glad to have you. Do you mind if I get a picture of you with my son so he can remember his first game?” You can imagine my amazement. I sat and posed and got a shot with my camera as well.
We carried on with the festivities surrounding the stadium that day. I was happy to be getting back to urban life in Chicago, and then home, when we left. I couldn’t help feeling, though, that I was leaving the Frozen Tundra with a warm heart.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Meet Tony Gonzalez, Falcons' Tight End

Imagine my surprise, and glee, when I saw this in today's paper. Thank you, thank you. GO FALCONS!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

HHOF bling much bigger than Kanye's

Oh I laughed when I saw this today in the Ottawa Sun. I didn't watch the Hockey Hall of Fame Inductee Ceremony last night. But I heard Yzerman's speech was great. You can see it here.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009



If you're thinking you'd like to get in on the action and don't want to wait until 2010 to start your new pursuit, the exciting "season-ending championship of Thoroughbred racing" is this weekend!

The Breeder's Cup is a young race but has now become "the richest two days in horse racing" every year with a purse of over $25 million!! (I wonder WHICH celebrity the equine winner will be dating after collecting that loot!)

My boy, Mine That Bird, will be there trying to sneak past undefeated Zenyatta. Zenyatta, a mare, is the latest story of girl power at the races. (Rachel Alexandra was the tough girl on the beat this summer).

Mine That Bird's Derby win

Zenyatta's Lady's Secret Stakes win

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Big Hats Off!!

I'm not a gambler. Well, except for sports gambling. I love it. Putting a little bit of your money down, ready, set, go, and then cheering your pick on to victory. It takes some savvy sports knowledge sometimes, but mostly it doesn't. Your starting QB gets injured. It might rain or snow. Your team loses the coin toss. There are always sure bets, of course, but why bet on those? Your odds are so high, there's no pay off. And we all want the pay off. We all want the feel good story. Like that horse from the quiet barn in the backstretch. Mine That Who??

I subscribe to SI. The best time of year for issues is the fall (NFL!), March (NCAA Madness!) and May (NHL playoffs!). What I like, though, about having a subscription is that I have read about so many sports I wouldn't normally. And the photography is fantastic.

And so it was, in the second week of May this year, that I read the remarkable story of a horse and his brave jockey. I was energized! I wanted to name everything in sight, Mine That Bird (including my friend's unborn child due the next month). Mine That Bird became synonymous with beating the odds, taking every chance you've got and showing everyone that you can win. I started looking up the Triple Crown races wondering what it would be like to attend one. The following month, a friend of mine in England dressed up with a group of her friends and went to the Royal Ascot. Her pictures were fantastic! I thought, why don't we all do this? Why is horse racing not on the map of the fabulously cool sporting events to attend? I say bring back the hats! Bring back the ties! Bring back the watch fobs! It's all so glamorous. Look beautiful, drink champagne, make your bets, and yell at the track!! My idea of a good time.

Then came the story of Rachel Alexandra (I'll save that one for another time) and I was hooked on horse racing writing! I read another story by Tim Layden, the author of the original Mine That Bird article, that had me fascinated about the Triple Crowns and what it takes to get all the goods.

The idea, that preparation and writing about the races is harder than other sports because you can't talk to the horses, is interesting. It adds to my wonderment of why we don't watch the races more. It is the ultimate betting thrill isn't it? You can't control at least one half of the equation. You can't ask the horses how they're feeling in pre-race interviews. The horse's popularity doesn't depend on which celebrity he's dating, what kind of car he drives, or which couture line he wears. The horse doesn't ask for more money. He just gets out on the track and does his job. (We can all think of a few athletes we wish would do the same).

It will be my new sports resolution for 2010: watch more horse racing. Maybe even attend a Triple Crown one of these days. I can think of a few country girls who'd go with me. I might even get them all in big hats. And I'll put my money on the two spires horse.

If you want to read the oringinal Tim Layden article about Mine That Bird, you can see it here

Friday, October 23, 2009

Colour Me A Fan

A friend and I were going to see an MLS game in Toronto with two others. One of the others was an NHL hockey player. We were eating and relaxing at my friend's place before the game watching sports update on TV. We were commenting on this and that and my friend says to the guys, "Little loves sports and knows a lot about sports." So myself and the hockey player got into chatting and he asks what sports I play. Oh I run, bike, play a little tennis, shoot hoops in my backyard, you know. So you don't play any organized sports? Not really, anymore. So you're just a sports fan?

JUST a sports fan? Ok, so I'm not the quarterback on a local co-ed football team, or the girl who scores 3 goals a game in soccer (like a couple of amazing girls I know), and I'm not the co-captain of my basketball team anymore. But I think I understand more about sports than I ever did and understand more about what makes certain players the greatest and certain teams the greatest upsets of all times. Not only that, but I'm thinking to myself when this guy makes his comment, would you like to play in an empty stadium? Fans pay your salary! He wasn't a bad guy. I got the sense he just felt entitled(?) to know more about sports or was the most leading authority on them in the group because he was a professional athlete.

It got me thinking about what it means to be a sports fan. A small percentage of the population actually has the physique, skills, and mental strength to make it in a professional sporting arena, whatever the sport. The rest of us are just fans. The rest of us read about it in the daily paper, obsessively discuss who will win and what it means, and look forward to that evening or day of the week when we head out to our local pub and meet with like-minded people to watch the games on full volume. Anyone who knows me, knows not to call me on a Sunday from September to February. If you want to see me, you know where I'll be.

My brother is not a huge sports fan, but he knows I am. So in addition to joining me for nachos and beers on gamedays (he's more of a nacho and beer fan), he sent me this article not long ago. I like the idea that one's sporting clubs become a life constant. You can always feel the change of seasons with sports. I never want summer to be over, but there's something about the anticipation of NFL football in August and the start of the season in September, that makes me less afraid of the change of weather and activities to come.

I looked in my closet one day where I have all my jerseys and other sporting gear hanging. I noticed something I hadn't before when contemplating or wearing each jersey individually. ALL my teams have, amazingly, the same or at least 2 colours in common:

Hockey--Calgary Flames--Red, black, yellow; Team Canada--Red, white
Football--Atlanta Falcons--Red, black, white
Soccer--Toronto FC--Red, white, grey; Real Madrid--Black, white; EspaƱa--Red, yellow, blue
Basketball--Chicago Bulls--Red, black, white
Baseball--Chicago Cubs--Red, white, blue

I'm not a huge baseball fan and only adopted the Cubbies last year while in Chicago and after falling in love with that city. And I love their logo. And by the looks of it, their colours? Can we have allegiances based on colour? Based on a city we like? Are there patterns in our sports fandom? The article would suggest that this could be true. It creates a constant for us. The first teams I remember being a fan of we're the Mustangs (Red, white, yellow) and the Rangers (Red, white, blue)...both from my hometown.

I have many friends who can tell you everything about their hockey team. How many Stanley Cups they've won (damn those Habs fans), or those of us with only one Cup, where we were when they won the Cup, and every detail of the game. When the Flames win again (this year), it will create a new era in my fan life. My new adult Flames fan life. But that can wait. In my yearly cycle of fandom, I'll see the Falcons through to February 7, 2010.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Post That Started It All

September 7, 1979

"If you're a fan what you'll see in the next couple of minutes, hours, and days to follow may convince you you've gone to sports heaven."

--Lee Leonard, first ever broadcast of ESPN
, the quote that started it all

Now, I can't guarantee that what you're about to read, or see, in the coming days, months (maybe years) will lead you to any kind of sports blog heaven. I just needed an outlet for my daily ramblings about everything sporty. I love any kind of banter about who's going to win the superbowl, whether or not English Premier or La Liga is better soccer, and why the hell Detroit is in the NHL Western conference???

So it begins. I can't imagine I'll be limited to my 3 favourite sports (above). I love a good sports story. Mine That Bird anyone?
I love an upset, a last minute heroic. That's why they play the game.