Monthly Archives: February 2010

Miller Time

(Photo from ESPN.com)

A few disjointed thoughts immediately upon watching Team USA defeat Team Canada 5-3 in tonight’s game.

First, I get that this wasn’t a medal game and that’s fine and all, but that was surprising. I’d never go so far as to say that Team Canada was taking anything for granted but I’d venture that no one expected that. Of course, it’s not like Team USA is a bunch of no names, they’re all NHL players who make millions of dollars and have tens of millions of fans worldwide. Let’s not pretend that this is a pond hockey team from Billerica taking on the big, bad Canadians. That said, nice work, boys. You done us proud.

MIKE ERUZIONE!

Sorry, can’t help it.

Also, Ryan Miller looks like he should be hanging out in Central Square and bumming cigarettes in front of the Middle East rather than standing on his head in goal for Team USA during the Olympics. I was mostly hoping they’d let the poor boy sit down immediately after the game instead of insisting on interviewing him and expecting him to form a cohesive thought other than, “Seriously? I need a drink. And a nap. And a chiropractor.” But he done good. Of course, my heart wants to see Tim Thomas in goal but I surely understand the reasons and I’m proud of my team.

Team USA is now undefeated and with this loss coupled with their just barely eking out a shootout win over Switzerland the other day, Canada is looking anything but bulletproof. Plus, the Russians have lost to Slovakia and don’t have the swagger they once did. And the US is playing like they do not care to be thought of as underdogs or also rans, thank you very much. And I don’t know about you, but I like my hockey teams with a bit of attitude.

So this is the beginning. They haven’t proven anything tonight. But it’s a good start. Nice work, boys.

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Oh, Canada (shakes head)

(Photo from Deadspin)

I have several questions about Vancouver’s shall we say, lackluster opening ceremonies on Friday night (and into Saturday morning because, damn, Canada, it’s not like any of us need to sleep or anything.)

For instance, I’m fine with First Nations and giving tribute to your ancestors and all that. Really, that’s cool. I can get with that. I can even get with a giant glowing statue of a bear because, while it’s not quite as awesome as the Alaskan ice bear or the other Alaskan ice bear. Or the Alaskan ice bear turned fighter pilot (seriously, watch those videos. You will thank me), I can get with some ursine imagery.

But slam poetry? Come on, Canada, you can do better. It’s not bad enough that we had to listen to Bob Costas proclaiming Canada a warlike nation before the actual ceremonies got underway, but then we had to listen to a Canadian slam poet telling us that Canada is not a joke, thank you very much and respect us, dammit. I mean please. If that’s okay with you.

Because the thing is, I totally respect Canada. It’s lovely and every time I’ve been the people have been nothing but friendly and welcoming and wonderful. But if your Prime Minister needs to hold a press conference to tell the Canadian people to not be afraid to be loud and boisterous while cheering for their athletes (essentially: “Don’t be scared of the obnoxious and batshit Americans”), then come on, Canada. It’s something you shouldn’t have to be told. We’re all for politeness and we do appreciate you hosting the world for this Olympics party but Canada, I have to tell you to grow a pair.

We like you, Canada, we do. Many of us have threatened to move there time and time again and we certainly do appreciate the influx of your hockey players. But stand up for yourself, dammit. And stop being so polite.

Buck up, little camper. We all like you just fine.

That said, my primary question about the opening ceremonies, other than it often resembled a second grade talent show where everyone who wanted to tap dance or spin plates got a chance, was that the organizers totally blew it when it came to lighting the cauldron. No, I don’t mean the technical malfunction, that can happen to anyone. I mean the actual manner of lighting it. Because what’s awesomer than a flaming arrow shot into the cauldron by an Olympic archer like in 1992 in Barcelona? What’s cooler than a scrolling screen of fire like 2008 in Beijing?

A flaming slap shot, obviously!

Dudes, Wayne Gretzky was RIGHT THERE. He was holding the fire even! No one thought to give that man a stick and a flaming puck and have him launch the Olympic flame into that cauldron to light the torch for the next two weeks? No one realized that not only would that be incredibly Canadian but also totally badass and it would make everyone forget about the slam poetry and the odd Riverdancing and the children wearing Christmas lights? Come on, Canada, I expected more from you.

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Victory tastes like Jambalaya

(Photo from Boston.com)

Beth, a family friend who is really more like family and who has lived in New Orleans for the past ten years called me with about six minutes left in the fourth quarter.

“I had to call someone who understands because I needed to talk to a football fan and oh my god, we might actually win this and I don’t know what to do and I’m freaking out and holy shit this is awesome and I think I might die!”

I asked her where her boyfriend, Kevin, a life-long New Orleans resident was.

“He had to put himself in time out because he was afraid he was going to hurt himself or someone else because he can’t take this because OH MY GOD WE MIGHT WIN THE SUPER BOWL!”

“I will tell you two things,” I said. “One, when a Manning is involved, don’t celebrate until the very last second because they have a way of stealing all your fun and ruining everything and 2) go party. Enjoy this one. And tell New Orleans I said congratulations.”

Because it’s true, I can’t remember being happier for a team that isn’t actually my home team, um, ever. And the airwaves and interwebs are sure to be flooded with “Saints Save New Orleans” stories for the next year now, but you know what? I’m fine with that. We all know that a football team can’t save a city on its own, but it has been a long, hard five years for the Big Easy and she deserves this party. I mean, think about it. The team who calls the Superdome it’s home – the same building that served as a tomb for so many people five years ago – has won the Super Bowl and brought a lot of joy to that city. And maybe I’m a giant sap and am too easily swayed by these kinds of stories, but I’ve always been a sucker for the healing power of a common interest, sports included. New Orleanians are special, resilient, unique people. And they should enjoy this as much as they can. They’ve spent the past five years earning a moment in the sun and they deserve it.

So congratulations, Who Dat Nation. New England would like to shake your hand.

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“Who dat say dey gonna beat dem Saints?”

This week’s NESN piece in which I explore, with the help of two of my very favorite New Orleanians/New Englanders, just why, exactly, we should all be rooting for the Saints.

Look, even I understand that sports is only sports and no game is capable of saving the world. But sometimes, it really does mean more. I’ll leave it to Ryan to make that point for me:

“I tend to think that the Saints reflect the recovery that has been happening in New Orleans. We are fighting not to get back to where we are, but to what we can and should be. The city is by no means perfect: the city government is often inept, crime is rampant, poverty in some areas is crushing, and flagrant inequalities rarely are questioned on a large scale.

The same, in a much lighter way, goes for the Saints. It often seems they underachieve. This year, however, we have an offense that can trounce anyone in the league, a quarterback with better accuracy than an Olympic archer; yet, when a starter on defense goes down, it’s immediately noticeable, and folks like Jason Campbell look like ’07 Brady and the team is losing to the Buccaneers at home. Yet, criticize our rebuilding or our team, tell us we’re failing or don’t deserve to rebuild, tell us our team is overrated. Where are we? Fighting. We’re fighting for home, and many of us are back or working with neighbors to get our communities back; then we’re gonna work to get even better. In the past the Saints fought to have a winning record; now they are fighting for the Super Bowl crown. We’re winning, bit by bit. We say “Who dat say dey gonna beat dem Saints?” but, the connection between team and town is so strong that we can easily ask “Who dat say dey gonna keep us down?” And even when we’re 3-13, we know the answer: no one. New Orleans right now has the potential to be a theatre for great, positive social change. The Saints, within the confines of the NFL, mirror that.”

What he said. And Geaux Saints!

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