Archives for: 2009, week 15

04/17/09

John Madden Retires!

Permalink 12:00:00 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs  

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-Digger's Daily-

Thanks for the memories John Madden.

One of the NFL's most popular celebrities is calling it a career. John Madden made his official farewell speech this week. He's done. He was one of the very first coaches I learned of as a kid just learning football while watching games with my father. Don Shula and Tom Landry were the others.

Madden was one of the games best while pacing the Oakland Raiders sidelines. After coaching, he called games in the booth for 30 years. He quickly won over viewers on his way to a stellar broadcasting career. Some of his calls in the booth are the NFL's version of Yogi-isms.

Madden signed up with EA Sports and produced a blockbuster best selling hit, Madden NFL. The games video technology are second to none. Curse believers have noted how most players featured on box covers soon become "jinxed". The "Madden Curse" was born. Garrison Hearst, Eddie George, Marshall Faulk, Michael Vick, Donovan McNabb, Sean Alexander, Vince Young & Brett Favre are former covers who suffered a bit afterwards via injury, production slip off, missed playoffs etc. Too funny. I wonder what goes thru the minds of players when approached by Madden or EA Sports? San Diego's star halfback Tomlinson was rumored to be negotiating with EA two years ago until there was an outcry from fans. He later cited contractual differences as reasoning for terminating consideration. Funny, I don't really believe in curses unless it comes to sports. Quite frankly, I think the players put the kahooky on themselves. Once thoughts of curses gets into their heads... they're doomed.

Love him or not, there's only one John Madden. Nobody can duplicate his colorful style of commentary. He and Pat Summeral were great fun to hear in the booth when watching games. Madden's Thanksgiving Day turkey leg giveaways to players of the game were usually a hit too (as were most of his game mvp type awards). Don't forget about the All Madden Teams or his fear of flying. He travels the country in his famous custom "Madden Cruiser" from which many NFL specials and interviews were filmed. Talk about a homerun by the networks smart enough to sign up Madden. He's earned them plenty of dough.

Ok, so when does the Madden Steakhouse open? So long John. Thanks for the memories!

Mets Fans Revolt Against New Ballpark!

Permalink 01:00:00 am, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs  

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-Digger's Daily-

New York Mets fans have voiced major complaints about their new stadium. Fans flooded airwaves, blogs, newspapers and whatever other means to state their obvious disappointment and outrage over Citi Field. Most of the outrage is how there is no representation of any Mets history. I agree wholeheartedly (as previously blogged). No mention of former players, World Series Championships, Division Titles, legends, Hall of Famers, former owners, William Shea... you name it, and it's probably not found in Citi Field. But, there's plenty of Dodgers and Jackie Robinson. Might as well call this place Jackie Robinson Field. My friends and I felt like we were watching the Mets play a road game.

Next up on the growing list of concerns is plenty of obstructed view seats from upper levels, behind the left field wall and Pepsi Porch. Not only obstructed by beams, wires and the like... but, also from lack of direct views of the field. Even Mets commentators complained they can't tell if balls hit are fair or foul down the right field line unless they look at their television monitors.

Food service opening night was pitiful on the lower level. Fans are still complaining as Mets management tries to get a handle on how to speed things up. Long lines clog up corridors and keep fans away from live action. We had a tough time even finding vendors on foot selling sodas to fans in their seats. When I went for a Nathan's Hot Dog and a drink I stood on line for 15 minutes before walking around the entire lower level searching for shorter lines. NONE! Ok, this is just my pet peeve and probably can be chaulked up to growing pains. Right? Maybe not.

Here's a replay of WFAN's Mike Francesa interviewing Mets Executive Vice President of Business Operations Dave Howard. Howard fumbled through his answers. Many of his responses were either inaccurate or inept. Especially when he's a EVP.

Some of Howard's choice answers to concerns raised during the interview:

(On Citi being more of Dodgers than Mets)... “There is NO homage to the Dodgers! There is, an appropriate tribute to a great American, someone who singlehandedly probably did more for the advancement of civil rights in our country than anybody, and by the way did that in New York … so we think that’s entirely appropriate, we’re honored and proud to do it … Rachel Robinson is thrilled … it’s not about the Dodgers, it’s about Jackie Robinson and all he did for America …”
My response: Hey that's great. How about a tribute for the team this stadium was built for? Prior Champions? Honor the people who created the Mets organization? Later on Howard fumbled and stated something will be done down the road. COP OUT.

(On obstructed views)... “Here is the issue, this is with regard to seating in fair territory in the outfield, which is something different that we have at Citi Field, that we really did not have much of at Shea Stadium. … the reality is … a little seating we had in fair territory in the outfield at Shea Stadium did have some blind spots on the field, it is NOT obstructed. The way we characterize “obstructed” is if you have an obstruction, something in front of you — a beam, a pillar, something that’s blocking your view. That’s not the case here. It is a function of the geometry of the building. And it is a conscious decision that we made along with the designers and the architects, that we wanted people to be lower and closer to the field, and have great views, and great views of the action. By doing that in fair territory, you are going to have situations where you are going to lose certain blind spots in the deep outfield of those sections. That is something we understood to be a factor. It is true in every new ballpark that has seating in the outfield …”
My response: Someone should take him on a tour of Citi Field. Pictures from obstructed view seats have been photo'd and are all over the internet.

(On parking concerns and concession lines)... “Two significant things about the parking, number one is, we now operate it, and we think we’ll do a better job of driving a better customer experience with regard to parking. … parking will be a significantly better experience all the way around … from a concessions standpoint … based on the last four events … we have been setting records — not just Mets records, but records for Aramark — in terms of business that we have done, so there’s no question that this ballpark, especially with regard to the infrastructure, and the way we have designed the food and beverage and the merchandise layout, it has responded very well.”
My response: So what's your point? Better parking experience? Setting record food sales? Or, just that Mets are making a killing? The way everything is designed actually inhibits the free flow of foot traffic between the foul poles. Try it sometime David.

Well, that's enough griping on Citi Field. It is what it is. And, more importantly, what it is not!

(www.allworldallsports.com)

04/16/09

New Yankee Stadium... A Touch of Class!

Permalink 05:14:25 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs  

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-Digger's Daily-

New Yankee Stadium officially opened this afternoon. Baseball's Grand Cathedral was filled with thousands of awestruck fans. The lucky ones arrived early to view anything and everything Yankees decorating the Stadiums interior and exterior. I can't wait to make my first appearance to see it for myself. Descriptions from friends who attended the Cubs/Yanks exhibition games were not to be believed.

I did get to walk around the majestic Stadium while under construction. It's exterior is like no other and very close to the original Stadium. New Yorkers who grew up watching their old stars claim it's an exact replica.

Yankees Dynasty has a new home. A few superstitious types are worried the ghosts of Babe, Lou, Mickey & Joe D might be lost. We'll soon find out if the Yanks can find their lost magic or if they've got what it takes to create new ones? The stars of old are long gone. Yankees stars of today... Jeter, Rivera, Posada, Sabathia & Teixeira... will soon be making headlines on their way towards many Championships to come.

Unfortunately for fans a game was played today. Yanks hosted the Cleveland Indians this afternoon to christen the ballpark. Yanks were too gracious. They handed Cleveland 10 runs and got scalped 10-2. Not quite what owners, fans and players had in mind for the first game. It's ok as everyone in baseball knows New York will win far more games than they lose here.

(www.allworldallsports.com)

04/15/09

2008-09 NHL Playoff Predictions

Permalink 08:13:08 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs  

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-Digger's Daily-

NHL Playoff Coverage from NHL.com

Playoff predictions are always fun. This year, NHL Playoffs feature a few red hot teams. Anything can happen. Here are my picks for the opening round.

Eastern Conference:
(1) Boston Bruins vs (8) Montreal Canadiens
32nd Playoff series between these two old foes. Bruins are much better this time. Bruins win in 5.

(2) Washington Capitals vs (7) New York Rangers
Washington's #2 power play unit faces Rangers #1 penalty killing team. Rangers will win this series in 7 hard fought games.

(3) New Jersey Devils vs (6) Carolina Hurricanes
Red hot Carolina brings their A game vs NHL's winningest goalie. Brodeur too tough in playoff hockey. Devils in 5.

(4) Pittsburgh Penguins vs (5) Philadelphia Flyers
Both teams finished the regular season with 99 points and 264 goals scored. It'll be a fight from start to finish. Penguins win in 7.

Western Conference:
(1) San Jose Sharks vs (8) Anaheim Ducks
Sharks eat Ducks. Sweep in 4 no contest games.

(2) Detroit Red Wings vs (7) Columbus Blue Jackets
Detroit knows how to win Playoff games. Wings in 5.

(3) Vancouver Canucks vs (6) St Louis Blues
This could be one of the most entertaining matchups. Could be high scoring games. Vancouver in 7.

(4) Chicago Black Hawks vs (5) Calgary Flames
What ever happened to the great Chicago teams? Flames win in 6.

Stay tuned for round by round blogs.

(www.allworldallsports.com)

R.I.P. Harry Kalas

Permalink 06:49:37 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs  

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-Digger's Daily-

The man behind one of the most distinguishable voices in sports broadcasting history collapsed and died Monday night. Harry Kalas, 73, is a household name in the City of Brotherly Love. He was the voice of Phillies baseball since 1971. Kalas' career stretched far beyond Philadelphia sports. Anyone familiar with NFL Films can easily recognize Kalas voice narrating thousands of play by play highlights.

His voice was one of my all time favorites. Anyone who knew of Kalas could easily recognize his voice much in the same way most can single out James Earl Jones.

Kalas' work in the sports world spanned beyond Philly & NFL Films. CBS Radio, Mutual and Westwood One were some of his other avenues covering the major sports. He even lent his voice for Alcoa Fantastic Finishes and a variety of commercials.

Not many old time announcers remain in professional sports booths. There's been a changing of the guard within recent years due to untimely deaths of famous aged voices.

Kalas memory and voice will live on forever in highlight films. A true class act.

(www.allworldallsports.com)

04/14/09

Citi Field Opens to New Generation of Mets Fans!

Permalink 02:45:00 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs  

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-Digger's Daily-

Say goodbye to rustic, old, run down, antiquated Shea Stadium. Citi Field officially opened last night as the new Mets home. New York's new stadium is an eye catcher. I was one of the fortunate fans to be at opening day. Citi's exterior design replicates an old NY favorite, Ebbets Field. It's entrance pays tribute to Jackie Robinson (Robinson Rotunda). Fan reaction has been wide ranging and thoroughly mixed.

Citi Field will provide the new generation many great memories. It's very pleasing to the eye. Each seat is angled for optimum field views. Fans can watch games from most locations while walking around the park. New field dimensions will challenge both hitters and fielders. Tall outfield walls, deep distances from home plate, Pepsi Porch in right field. Outstanding new centerfield scoreboard. And, yes, the Mets Big Apple was transported from Shea and now sits in center too. Better concession stands highlighted by Nathan's Franks and specialty foods. It really is a great place to watch a game.

Transportation couldn't be easier from rail accessability to parking. Security was in plain sight and plentiful. Even New York's finest were on hand using their most technological surveillance including bioligical warfare dectectors, helicopters and sharp shooters who were stationed in not so descrete locations.

For younger Mets fans... it's a great place soon to create memories spanning generations. They'll love it. Tradition rich older fans... it's tough love.

I've been thinking of how best to represent Citi Field in this brief blog. Most of my childhood baseball memories were from days spent rooting on my favorite New York team from great seats in Shea Stadium. At Shea, there was no mistaking it was home to the New York Mets. The famous scoreboard in right field was one of a kind when first built. Mets memories splashed everywhere within its' vast structure. Mets pennants blowing from flagpoles. Shea hosted some of baseball's most memorable moments. It also hosted many great venues from famous concerts to religious leaders. Let's not forget, this was also home for the New York Jets football team too.

I, and many others in attendance last night, had an overwhelming feeling while viewing the game. I felt as though I was watching the Mets in someone else's beautiful new home stadium. Los Angeles Dodgers players will love it. It was built more for old Dodger fans than old Mets fans. Mets Owner Fred Wilpon grew up as a Brooklyn Dodgers fan and it shows. More tribute was paid to Brooklyn than to the Mets. How odd!!!!

Citi Field barely displays the Mets name. I counted 4 places where the Mets were represented. 1) "Let's Go Mets!" on the scoreboard. 2) Big Apple in center. 3) A "few" banners buried outside the park. 4) 1969 & 1973 banners on one flag pole. That's it! Nothing, zero, nada on interior walkways, corridors. No Mets emblems. No pictures of current/former players. No World Series moments. No Willie Mays, Tom Seaver, Rusty Staub or player tributes. Nothing to speak of for "Mets" history. Not even outfield fence colors represent the Mets!

Plenty of Dodgers stuff though. Laughable. Citi's main entrance features Robinson Rotunda filled with Jackie related "Brooklyn Dodgers" moments. Complete with engraved marble flooring, a huge Dodger Blue "42" (Robinson's uniform number) and plenty of Dodgers pictures in panoramic view. Interior walkways are filled with Ebbets Field references with no Mets themes. I appreciate the exterior design emulating Ebbets Field. A tribute to Robinson is also nice but NOT as the main attraction for a "New York Mets" team. In practical theory, there's absolutely no connection between Robinson and the Mets.

It's obvious to me Mets owner Fred Wilpon is still infatuated with Brooklyn Dodgers memories from his youth. Most Brooklynites from back then still rightfully hold their deep love and appreciation of their childhood Dodgers stars. However, with Citi, Wilpon seems to set aside the plain and simple fact this is home to the METS!

Funny little known fact is there's more of a historical Mets connection to the New York Giants. Mets first owners (Payson) were also co-owners of the Giants who fiercely opposed their moving to San Francisco. Giants director, Donald Grant, also voted against the move. He became the Mets Chairman of the Board. Mets team colors closely resembled Giants old Navy/Orange. Mets played their first two seasons in the Giants home (Polo Grounds).

A beautiful stadium with a sour taste. How can anyone build a new park which does not honor the home team for which it was built? I'm hoping additions will be made representing Mets history but don't expect to catch me blue in the face from holding my breath! Without some sort of team history, Citi Field is nothing more than a new generic ballpark.

As for the Mets first ever regular season home game. 6-5 loss to the San Diego Padres.

(www.allworldallsports.com)