Thursday, June 5, 2014

It's Old Hat by Now

A friend walked by Bryant Park this morning, on his way to work amid the rain. All the trappings that made the park Rangertown on Wednesday were packed up overnight. It was just a park this morning, which made it safe for me to walk through it while wearing my ratty Kings hat.

It was early enough in the morning that I doubt any hockey fan in the area would have their eyes in the best shape to spot the lettering or the logo on the front. Which is good. I don't need to deal with any issues, in the rain, early in the morning.

Maybe after a few barrels of Joe I might have an interest in debating the merits of my cap to one with a Rangers logo, but probably not.

This is a short one because I am still trying to process Wednesday's game, which I listened to rather than watch because of some home improvement projects taking place. At least I had the radio feed from Los Angeles, which was just what was needed to get me through a night of moving furniture, removing light fixtures, bringing up painting supplies, etc.

Reminded me of the days when the radio was a primary way to follow a game. Fewer graphics, celebrity sightings, annoying promotions of television shows or just about anything else. Just the game.

There is something to be said for that.

More later.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Behind Enemy Lines

I'm keeping my Kings gear under wraps when I am not in the Lounge.

I have no need to go walking around Manhattan, looking for someone to want to take a shot at a rather large target like my nose, just because I am wearing a new Kings hat, or my more familiar ratty Kings cap.

Last Wednesday night, as I was returning from a play, I was standing in the Times Square station waiting on the platform for the Shuttle to Grand Central Terminal. A family, all dressed in Canadiens sweaters, stood nearby. The Rangers had just won the Eastern Conference finals, and many fans had apparently remained down near the Garden. But a few had made their way uptown and were finally reaching the Shuttle platform. Soon, there were a few obscenities directed toward the family, who grew uncomfortable underground.

Finally, a minute or more later, an uptown 1 train made the platform in Times Square. "Let's Go Rangers" filled the station, as did a louder, more creative selection of obscenities. The family huddle grew tighter, and then the father loudly said, "Let's go grab a cab."

Wise move. The rest of us on the platform did our best to ignore or suffer this crowd. (Suffer is my word, unless you happen to like the smell of beer and piss along with loud belching, in which case this group was for you.)

Duly noted. Only games in the Lounge for me.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

A Free One at the Bar for Bob Cole

It is the final free-standing season of Hockey Night in Canada on the CBC. Next season, Rogers and TVA take over the national NHL rights from the CBC, TSN and RDS.

HNIC will remain on the CBC for the moment, but it will be Rogers producing the show, calling the shots and collecting all the money for the English side of the contract, while TVA takes the keys from RDS on the French side.

So, there had been some question as to which announcers would be with HNIC season with a new landlord. Bob Cole appears to have made the cut, and that is good for anyone who goes to either NHL Game Center Live, NHL Center Ice or the NHL Network to pick up the HNIC feeds on a Saturday night.

If you haven't heard him in a while, he is an old friend waiting at the bar to guide you through a game. Sure, he can get excited, but he keeps it under control and in context, very much unlike the annoying Doc Emrick, who makes you want to switch to another bar to avoid hearing, "she wedges behind the spigots, and OH MY! Fresh peanuts FOR EVERYONE!!!!"

That's a reminder to cut Emrick off at none should he step up to the Lounge.

Numbers Go Where Words Fear to Tread

Too many newspaper columns and features trade in the same tired "here's a good guy and now I'll tell you why" formula that has left me numb.

Don't get me wrong. I wouldn't mind if my team or yours had on its rosters any number of good, likable guys with fun stories. But these articles tell me nothing about what they will do when the game is on the line.

Can you win the faceoff repeatedly? Can you score? Can you stop the puck? Can you put their scorer butt-down on the ice? The rise in analytics, or the attempt to quantify the game as a means to explain what is going on, holds my interest while newspapers and some websites, tied to the old formula, go in the discard bin or are tied with string and put out on the curb.

If you have not visited Hockey Prospectus yet, you had better get to that mostly free party before they close the doors on you. The site's preview of the Stanley Cup finals deals with none of the these good human interest stories versus those human interest stories. You get the numbers and what they may mean or what they don't come close to showing you. In other words, numbers with context. Not adjectives with little purpose.

Compare the above analysis with that of ESPN the Website's Pierre LeBrun, whom you can usually count on for quality information. But notice the lack of hard information in this preview. Now, take an extended walk with me on this one. Which type of analysis would you want when going to put your hard cash down for a car?

Would you want one that tells you the tragedy that has befallen Salesman A at the dealership or how, prior to said tragedy, he was only responsible for 25 percent of the lemons that were driven off the lot. But he's still a good guy because he is trying.

Or would you want to know, in clear numbers, Salesman A will rob you blind, Saleswoman B is not much better and the owner of the lemon dealership is happily taking all this cash and putting it into a second Olympic size pool in his spacious back yard (a former citrus grove). (Note the work at FiveThirtyEight, which sprinkles in quite a few more words for those of you who require a few more vowels while digesting your numbers.)

Your time is limited so make the most of it when it comes to previews and treat the Cup finals the way horse players treat a day at the track. Look at the numbers and run them around in your own head. Come up with your own pattern. Remember to show your work.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Crying Into His Empty Glass

Ed Sherman, a sports media writer, weighs in with some sad rat's tears after the Chicago Blackhawks were eliminated in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals. This journalist's research on the passion for hockey covers front page grabs of the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times. For Los Angeles, he posts the front page of the Los Angeles Times and the ... curveball ... Orange County Register.

So this Lounge owner offers this journalist the idea that perhaps it was the Los Angeles Register that he needed to dip into.

And then I felt that perhaps I was being too stingy with this journalist. So I offered a few more front pages. And if we were dealing with the 1980s, then maybe this theory would have held more weight, considering that newspapers used to be a good window on their community. But this being the Twen-Teens and the fact that I don't require a print edition of a newspaper unless I need to start up my fireplace, I feel there is more out there that a journalist with a desire to tell a real story might be able to cite or dig into.

And, OH THE HORRORS, he found things placed below the fold! Last century, Mr. Sherman. Time to find a new metric, or five. (Which I am sure you can find, and with which you just may prove your point correct. Just sayin.)

And to my point about a group of Chicagoans and the Los Angeles Times. I apologize if I offended anyone with whom I worked and who are still there, doing their best amid trying conditions. I should have said ravaged, pillaged or ransacked rather than ruined, which has a note of finality to it.

OK, I am fired up and ready for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals on Wednesday.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

A Short Cold One

With a balky pipe in my downstairs bathroom and the continued deep freeze in New York, I am of two minds about watching the Dodger Stadium game from the Lounge.

I want to watch a game in a warm setting, but I would prefer that the warm setting be in my bathroom pipes. So I have two things to consider when I put the game on the big screen late Saturday night. I must not become too envious of the folks living in an area that I chose to abandon for New York. And I must remember to limit the visits in the Lounge's downstairs bathroom.

"What's that yellow snow?" the neighbors might ask.

"Neighborhood dogs," will be my reply.

That should work.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Tortorella and That Hissing Sound

Pump yourself up like a balloon and somebody is going to take a poke at you.

The Canucks, proud and chests fully extended after their manly display -- oh, yes, and their 1-0 loss to the Kings -- left Southern California with nothing to show for it but a string of losses.

Anaheim's 9-1 victory was filled with lessons for all. For Canucks Coach John Tortorella, who went into his Mute Rockne act in front of reporters, there was nothing he was willing to offer in terms of insight on why he failed to get his team under control, why he continues to fail at getting his team to perform or come close to expectations. He's keeping a lot of things inside the room, as he likes to say, but the room is where the players are. What is going on in his room?

He won't say.

Ben Kuzma, the beat writer for the The Province, whose Twitter feed was upbeat after the Canucks' loss to the Kings, took a more sober view of the road ahead after the loss to the Ducks on Wednesday night, wondering what might be waiting for the Canucks in Phoenix.

But as far as insight, don't go there. Tortorella cannot offer what he doesn't have to give. So we will leave you with a blog post from The Province, which takes on the role of the angry fan because, is there any other type of fan in Vancouver? (At least one not linked however slightly to a news media organization that covers the team.)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Taking Advantage of Being Shorthanded

When Jordan Nolan decided to ignore Tom Sestito's urgent invitation to fight last night, fingers quickly began to pound keyboards, touch screens and anything else that might eventually be set in print or posted on the Internet.

The Kings' Nolan had fought Sestito back on Nov. 9, when the Canucks skater was busy compiling a major, a few runs at players and two penalties for charging. This time, Nolan takes a pass, and now we are all wondering what topics will be on the table April 5, when the Kings face the Canucks for the final time in the regular season.

Did Coach John Tortorella get his players to believe that they will be dictating the terms of the game from here on out. Did Nolan's turtle play actually put the Kings on the defensive, image wise and on the ice, for any other games between the two sides.

All good questions, or good conversation topics before the puck drops. But if you are a Canucks fan, you have to be pleased with the failure rate of the Kings' power play. Anytime your team can survive and thrive while a man or two down is only good for morale. The Canucks did not have to worry about Davis Payne's mind coming up with anything worthwhile yet again.

A terrible power play is not what you need when handed seven minutes to put the game out of reach. The Kings won the game, but their special teams should trouble them.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Where Have You Been?

That was one long weekend getaway.

In 2012, I went to North Carolina's Outer Banks around the start of NHL training camps. I came back on time, but the league decided to lock the players out until late January. And the time did not fly by.

In mid-September 2013, I left to enjoy a cool few weeks in Maine (above)and Atlantic Canada. I came back round, which is the new lean in my book, an attractive specimen of a man who enjoys his seafood. But I kept the Lounge closed for the rest of the year. Sometimes you need to push away from the table to have a few relevant things to add to the conversation later, when it counts.

In short, rather than bomb you with endless junior, college and minor league (KHL, AHL, ECHL) scoreboards, I kept the locks on the doors.

Now the doors are open, and even if my experience is like that of the retired priest giving a sermon to an empty room at the midweek 6 a.m. Mass, I will give it my best shot for the rest of the season, audience or no.

Grab a stool. It should get interesting.