Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

Orange You Glad We Met?

With the ascendance of Syracuse  University to #1 in college basketball, I’m reminded of an indirect brush with greatness.

I grew up in the ’60s and early ’70s in Delaware one house away from a cul de sac — we kids called it The Circle. One of the dads on the block was the older brother of Syracuse coach and former star player Jim Boeheim. Boeheim (pronounced BAY-hime) has been involved with the Orangemen basketball program for, well, forever. Actually since 1963. He has been the head coach since 1976 and coached Syracuse to the NCAA title in 2003.

I don’t recall if Jim Boeheim ever graced The Circle with his presence. Maybe a couple of my dedicated readers will have some recollection on that score.

Pity I ripped this picture removing it from the photo album, but the boy is coach Boeheim’s nephew — one of the three Boeheim kids I played with in The Circle. In fact, this picture was taken in The Circle. Chez Boeheim is in the background. Notice his not-so-athletic pose. This picture was taken after he broke his leg in a skateboarding accident. The poor guy had a difficult recovery and seemed to lose his inclination toward the sporting life.Here I am circa 1967 with two of coach Boeheim’s nieces. We are posing with my family’s new puppy, Terry, who is chewing on a toy steak. This shot in our minds — well all but Terry’s I suppose— was the “album cover” for our band named, with great originality, Terry and the Pirates. Never mind that we didn’t have any songs or instruments, what was important was that we had an album cover. I hope Terry wasn’t our lead singer …

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Sadly, Westbrook is Done

Philadelphia Eagles running back Brian Westbrook is done.

It pains me to say that as he has been such a great player for the Eagles over the last several years. This video shows one of his best (h/t Phinally Philly).

He’s a smart player too. I’d forgotten about how he passed up a touchdown with two minutes left in a 2007 game to ensure the Dallas Cowboys, down 10-6 without any timeouts remaining, would not get the ball back.

But Westbrook has lost his burst.

This was apparent to me the last few games of the 2008 season. Remember the expression “three yards and a cloud of dust”? With Westbrook anymore it’s a yard-and-a-half and a mob of tacklers.

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Yo-die, Adrian!

Oscar Palmer Robertson

Image by cliff1066™ via Flickr

This one falls in the realm of what my sons refer to as “Dad’s stupid stuff”. In the ’60s (mostly) there was this NBA player — an all-star — named Adrian Smith. His nickname is Odie.

So in the playground in my mind every athlete named Adrian becomes Odie.

I alternate between finding this irritating — and amusing.

The most prominent case currently is Adrian Peterson. I should say two cases because, as unlikely as it may seem, there are two Adrian — uh, Odie — Petersons in the NFL:

While I was recently reading the excellent book Looking Back 75 Years of Eagles History: Special Edition by Eli Kowalski, which I received as a birthday gift from Mrs. QC, I was reminded that my favorite NFL team, the Philadelphia Eagles, once had a quarterback — back in the ’50s before I was born — named Adrian Burk. He shares the league record for most touchdown passes in a regular season game, 7, with four other quarterbacks. I’ve rewritten his tombstone, so to speak, to read “Odie Burk.”

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No Balls, Some Glory

Declaration of DerbyI’m psyched to be going tomorrow to the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia to watch the quarter-finals and final four of the Women’s Flat Track [Roller] Derby Association (WFTDA) national tournament, aka the Declaration of Derby. The tournament begins today and ends Sunday with the awarding of the Hydra trophy to the winning team.

Roller derby? Hell yeah!

To paraphrase a hackneyed phrase that appears in some form in almost every mainstream media article on modern roller derby, it’s not the roller derby of my youth. That is to say, the sport of “classic roller derby” I watched in the early ’70s on UHF TV was a scripted spectacle in which an impressive degree of athleticism was secondary to fighting and pro wrestling-style hero-and-villain posing.

Modern derby is played as legitimate sport. Unsurprisingly to me, it works. When the modern derby movement started in 2001 in Austin, TX, the founders initially planned to play it as spectacle. They quickly found it was more fun — not to mention safer — to play for real.

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NFL — Haves and Have-Nots

Blowout

Image via Wikipedia

“On any given Sunday …” the promotion arm of the National Football League used to trumpet. Pro football has become so popular the NFL put away the trumpet — heck, they probably sold it. Sure — on any given Sunday — or Monday or Thursday — a favorite can fall to a heavy underdog. Indeed, many weeks there are one or more significant upsets.

In recent years, though, there is less and less parity between NFL teams. Recall New England’s undefeated regular season in 2007 and Detroit’s winless season last year — both firsts for the league since the 16-game schedule started in 1978.

Well, the trend toward less parity is accelerating, alarmingly so, this season.

Exhibit A is this past Sunday when there were six — count ’em, six — games with winning margins of four or more touchdowns!

Ouch — times six! A rout, a smearing, a burial, a rollover, a demolition, and a drubbing! These scores resemble early season college football — when top-ranked teams host cupcake opponents, yielding pay days for the visitors sufficient to fund their athletic programs for entire seasons.

I’d say now on any given NFL Sunday — or Monday or Thursday — there is a pretty good chance your crappy team will get blown out by my playoff-contending team.

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Think of “The Zink”

UPDATED 6/25/09, 9:54 pm:
I found this 1984 Sports Illustrated article on The Zink. (H/T “rlee” on the Association for Professional Basketball Research forum)


As many Philadelphians know, the 42-year old Wachovia Spectrum arena — simply “the Spectrum” to aged purists like myself — is scheduled for demolition later this year. The Philadelphia 76ers of the NBA, one of the Spectrum’s principal tenants from its opening in 1967 until the opening of the CoreStates Center (now the Wachovia Center) in 1996, will return to the Spectrum for a single nostalgic farewell game this Friday night, March 13, against the Chicago Bulls.

I am happy to pass along word that the Sixers will not neglect to pay tribute Friday to their legendary former public address announcer, the late Dave Zinkoff. I loved “The Zink”. He worked the Sixer games at the Spectrum and before that, Convention Hall, until his death on Christmas Day, 1985. (In this 1982 picture, from Wikipedia, he evidently was working a pro wrestling event — look at the build of the athlete next to him.)

As reported by Dan Gross in the Philadelphia Daily News via Philly.com:

Late great PA announcer Dave Zinkoff‘s voice could be heard booming through the Spectrum the other day. It wasn’t Zinkoff, or a ghost, but comedian and master impressionist Joe Conklin, who was rehearsing and recording classic “Zinkisms” that the Sixers will play Friday when they face the Bulls in the team’s final game at the Spectrum, their longtime home.

Awesome! I’ll skip the game, as fun as it would be to be there, due to budgetary constraints (tickets were still available as of this morning starting at $19.76). I will, though, count on Conklin’s recordings eventually finding their way online at Sixers.com or JoeConklin.com.

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Batting Cleanup — Moe Howard

UPDATED 3/10/09, 7:50 am:
Joe Conklin posted the Moe Howard/Ryan Howard comedy bit described in this post on his own site. To hear it go to Conklin’s media page. The bit is in the “Audio” column; it’s currently at the bottom.


Yesterday morning comedian Joe Conklin did a 3 Stooges bit on the WIP radio morning show. The inspiration for the bit was an interview in which retired baseball star/manager/disgraced gambler Pete Rose referred to Ryan Howard (pictured), the slugging first baseman of the Philadelphia Phillies, as head Stooge Moe Howard.

It took several minutes searching, but thanks to Google and USA Today, I found the interview. It turns out the interviewer was WIP’s veteran afternoon drive host Howard Eskin and the interview was originally broadcast on, not surprisingly, WIP. Rose’s gaffe occurs about three-tenths of the way into the interview — unfortunately the WIP audio player doesn’t display elapsed time.

Now Rose’s error is funny on its own. Most current events relatable to the Stooges are — to me at least.

The error becomes doubly funny when one recalls Rose wore his hair in the “bowl cut” style as an active player — the same hair style sported by Moe Howard when he was in character. One need only google “Pete Rose” “Moe Howard” to verify that this comparison has been made by many over the years.

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Raining in Baskets

What a day brightener! Only minimal basketball knowledge is needed to enjoy this CBS Evening News clip (running time 2:45):

Thanks to my friend Pete S. for posting it on his Facebook profile.

An ESPN clip on McElway has more detail and the game footage is in color, but the cheesy music is distracting in my opinion — plus it’s twice as long as the one I’ve embedded. The detail I thought most interesting is that McElway actually missed not two but six shots. But that hardly detracts from his achievement.

I can imagine Tom McGinnis, the excitable Philadelphia 76ers radio play by play announcer, calling McElway’s hot streak. By McElway’s third three-pointer, you’d hear McGinnis’ trademark “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?”. The fifth would cause McGinnis’ head to explode — leaving you to deduce from the crowd reaction and buzzer that McElway hit a sixth to end the game.

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Yeah, But Can He Do It with Hands in His Face?

In this three-and-a-half-minute video, Australian David Black proves shooting baskets is easy when no one’s defending you.

“Wow” seems insufficient. Talk about honing a skill …

(Music: “Good Times” by Tommy Lee)

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“Mo Mentum” Changes Sides

It’s fun when watching a football game to see a quick, dramatic change in momentum, especially when a team’s offense immediately capitalizes on a momentum change initiated by its defense (or vice-versa). Throw in a record-breaking or record-equaling play and it’s a sequence worth a post here.

Last night I watched on TV as the Minnesota Vikings defense made a goal-line stand to prevent the visiting Chicago Bears from expanding a four-point second quarter lead to 11 points. The Vikings offense then took the field with the ball on their own 1-yard line, and on the next play, 99 37-year old Vikings quarterback Gus Frerotte (#12) hooked up with wide receiver Bernard Berrian (#87) on a 99-yard bomb.

99 yards! Successful plays from scrimmage don’t get any longer than that — because they can’t. The touchdown gave the Vikings the lead for the first time in the game, 10–7, and they would not relinquish it, winning 34–14.

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