The Winter Classic…Fenway Park

10 04 2009

The Green Monster and Fenway Park are not your typical setting for a hockey game, but that is exactly what will take place this coming New Years’ Day.  For the NHL, the Winter Classic has been a gold mine of sorts bringing new fans to the game, and tv ratings that haven’t been seen for hockey games in far too long.  The past two have been at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo and this past year at Wrigley Park in Chicago and were viewed as wildly successful.  Bringing hockey to an open air environment has so much upside and for the most part little downside involved.  If this is an event that the NHL can manage to recreate in some form or another each year, thereby not running the risk of overuse this may become the foundation of the return of the NHL to national consciousness.

Boston Herald Graphic

Boston Herald Graphic

The odd part about this whole thing is the speculation that the opponents being debated between are the Philadelphia Flyers and the Washington Capitals.  Clearly, I would never dream of belittling the team of my current city and the Flyers and Bruins do have a fairly big rivalry, but I just don’t see it.  The management of the Boston Bruins has been pushing for this game pretty much since its inception and the thought was always that this would be an Original 6 game.  It only seems appropriate, Boston has one of the most storied franchises in the sport and why would you not want to pit them against one of their oldest and fiercest rivals for an event of this magnitude.

I understand the rationale behind putting the most exciting player in the whole sport onto the sport’s largest stage.  But in some respects the rivalry in itself should be enough of a draw, although admittedly I am probably not the target demographic for the NHL.  Watching fans at games, every time Alexander Ovechkin touches the puck there is a palpable excitement running through the crowd.  With that in mind, I can imagine my friends watching the game explicitly because the Great 8 is in the game and tangentially because it is a cool event, hockey outdoors in Fenway Park.  Obviously, not your typical hockey game.   The league obviously has a strategy behind the cities they choose for this games and the teams they ask to play in the Winter Classic.  Since they are so adamant about bringing the young guns to the forefront of the game then there could be no better choice than the Washington Capitals.  I truly hope that when all is said and done that the Boston Bruins are facing the Washington Capitals at Fenway Park in Boston on January 1st, 2010.

How do you say no to a man that can sing and dance like this…

Especially when he can do something like this…

I guess I understand why the NHL is leaning away from the Bruins and the Canadiens and to a team with that man on it.


The Joys of Radio

7 04 2009

I think that people of our generation tend not to appreciate the role that radio announcers play in the world of sports. There is the cult of personality that endears partisan fans to their local announcers, but this is something different. In today’s day and age, when so many teams have their own television channels and when you can watch a game online with the click of a button less and less people are listening to games on the radio. Without a doubt there remains in my head this romantic vision of the family gathering around one of those old school radios to listen to the Brooklyn Dodgers. But it would be too easy to write this off purely as romanticism.

Over the course of my fairly regular visits to Ohio and Connecticut I have spent many an hour frantically pressing the Scan button on the radio hoping to pick up a strong signal to listen to whatever happened to be on. In the past year or so I  have been in the car for March Madness, the Big East Tournament, the Super Bowl and Opening Day of the MLB Season.  Clearly, there are some things you will always miss out on by listening to the game rather than watching, but of course that is why we have YouTube.  TV announcers seem to have this desire to be funny and likable, rather than talking about what is going on in the game, filling up space with idle chatter, normally not related to the game or even the sport (I’m looking at you Monday Night Football Crew!).  Play by play announcers for the radio seem less concerned with their public personas willing to make their broadcast about the game and only the game. While you may not be able to see that crazy dunk, or just how far that home run traveled, you are going to hear the emotion in the announcers voice and you are going to feel like you are a part of the crowd.

I’m not advocating that people toss out their 40 inch HD tv’s but once in a while sit down and listen to the radio broadcast of the game instead.  I’d even take a compromise of listening to the announcers while watching the game on tv if you must.