Saturday, June 28, 2008

Thank you, Shawn Bates

I have witnessed precious few truly exciting sports moments live and in person. In fact, I can only think of three. I saw Jimmy Connors start his legendary run at the 1991 U.S Open against Patrick McEnroe. I saw the Newark Bears win the Atlantic League championship last year (hey, it was exciting to me). And I saw Shawn Bates score that penalty shot goal against the Leafs in Game 4 of the 2001-2002 playoffs:

I would have to fill you in on far too many personal details to explain how much that playoff game--and most of that season--meant to me, but I will tell you that I have never felt quite like I felt when Bates capped off that ridiculous third period with that goal. With that one goal and the subsequent eruption it caused in the Coliseum, Bates made all those years of frustration that came with being an Islanders fan seem worth it.

So, even though it was inevitable, the official news of the Islanders severing their ties with Bates still leaves me a little sad. Sure, there were far too many times we saw a mouthguard-chewing Bates after flubbing a scoring attempt, but who cares? If the only goal Bates ever scored was on that penalty shot, he would still be one of my favorite Islanders.

The Reverend and I shared an elevator at the Coliseum with Bates last year, and I was standing right next to him. It occurred to me that I should thank him in some way, but after he didn't hear me say, "Hey, Shawn," I decided not to push the matter. I'm sure I would've embarrassed myself, so it's probably for the best.

But consider this my thank you to Shawn Bates. Good luck wherever life takes you.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Chiming In.

I was at a strip club Friday night, watching the ticker on the bottom of a big TV showing the college world series. I had a Labatt ($4), and a little mosquito net so nothing jumped into my hair or beer, and I was prepared to leap into the air in excitement when I saw Filatov drop, drop, dropping down the order.

And then I was confused.

I don't take the time to enter people's phone numbers into my cell phone, so I couldn't get in touch with the other denizens of the Isle. So I turned to a man from Spain, who was a member of the bachelor party, and I said, simply, "what the fuck?" He said, "I know, she's a little rough -- but I saw some better ones walking around."

Oh well.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Flirting with Disaster

There's nothing quite like watching a disastrous situation unfold before your eyes. Sure, you can see clips on TV or read all about it in the paper, but there's no substitute for being there when the wheels come off.

And, so, I am ultimately glad I got to see this year's NHL Draft live on the scoreboard at the Nassau Coliseum. Sure, I could've gotten a sense of the collective "Wha' happened?" on the Islandermania message boards, but it wouldn't have been nearly as memorable as being there when the trade with Toronto was announced to a hearty chorus of boos...which was topped mere moments later when Garth Snow traded down again, setting off a cacophony of grumbling, shouting, and wailing (and later the "Garth Snow...SUCKS!" chant). When Gary Bettman said that he had another trade instead of announcing the Isles' No. 7 pick, there was that palpable feeling of "No way...not possible." And then it was possible, signaling the mass exodus and the all-too-familiar walk of shame from the stands back to the parking lot.

To echo the thoughts of the Mediocre One and many other Isles fans, I have nothing personal against Joshua Bailey. In fact, I feel bad for him and worried that he would get a muffled reception when he showed up on the screen for his live interview (he didn't...the true-blue Isles fans rallied together to give him a proper, if slightly subdued welcome). I wish him the best and hope to see him on the Island for years to come. He seems like a bright kid, and there is certainly a significant upside to him. But Snow's outright refusal to nab one of the seven consensus immediate-impact players was crushing for those of us who had decided to spend their Friday night staring at the Coliseum scoreboard and sifting through Brent Sopel and Ryan Smyth shirts on the clearance tables. This was supposed to be the blastoff on the rocket ship back to the top of the division. It was supposed to be a moment for Isles fans to bask in the glow of that thing so often in short supply in the hearts and minds of those who come to the Coliseum: hope. Instead, it just seemed like business as usual.

Though I was initially gut-punched by the trade down (but I stayed until the bitter end, until they turned the scoreboard off and told us to leave), I feel a little better after reading about some of the guys taken in Rounds 2 and 3. Believe me--I would like nothing more than to see Bailey and the guys taken with the extra picks form the core of a new dynasty (or at least a team that can finish higher than eighth) and for Garth Snow and his scouts to be declared geniuses. And, if so, I was there when it all got started. Otherwise, I was there when it all fell apart. We'll see.

Here are some photos from Friday night:

John Buccigross interviews Josh Bailey live via satellte:

Future stars (pleasepleaseplease) Robin Figren and Jack Hillen, both of whom seemed like swell guys:

For the good times:

Another example of poor Islanders management: these Sock-'Em Yashins were in a playhouse for kids; let adults have at these guys for $5 a session and watch the money pour in. (make up some Snow ones while you're at it):

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Guess Who's Coming to Training Camp

I guess it can be said that Garth Snow is not easily swayed by public opinion. And I guess that's a good thing. He's supposed to be the expert not the fans. That said, I really don't see the sense in the draft strategy. Time will tell, of course, and the draft may have been deep, but when the guy you're drafting doesn't quite get it, how the hell are we supposed to? This is from Newsday and I'm guessing you've already read it:

"I asked them straight up," Bailey said. "I said, 'You're picking fifth. What's your incentive for bringing me in?"

Now I understand that there are two theories of drafting. One is to get the best player regardless of your team's needs while the other is to get the best fit for your team. Ok, I'm not smart enough to say which is right. I do know that the Isles need goals. Everyone knows that.

Yet they passed up on a chance to draft Nikita Filatov who is considered an all-around (can I use a hyphen? I'm all nervous after the cow bell-man incident) offensive threat in the mold of Ovechkin. Ok, I can accept going against the grain a little bit. What have you got, Garth? Josh Bailey? What's his story?

"Bailey is not expected to be a high-end offensive player in the NHL but has good skating ability and vision on the ice. Said to have the makings of a future captain, he figures to be a mainstay on a checking line and the penalty-killing unit."

Really? I don't have the words...

Monday, June 9, 2008

This can't possibly be true

I was reading a story in the New York Post Page Six magazine (keeping track of Sean Avery's whereabouts) about the multimillionaire in charge of granting medallions to NYC cabdrivers when I came across an interesting nugget. The main crux of the story was that the guy has his own box right above the players' entrance for every event in Madison Square Garden. Yes, every event--Rangers games, Knicks games, concerts, circuses, Ice Capades (they don't still have the Ice Capades, do they? I'm old), whatever he wants. That's how life is when your born into a ridiculously lucrative line of work. Must be nice.

Anyway, back to that interesting nugget. Check this out:

"When MSG offered to put leather captain's chairs in the box, he said no. 'It was too showy.' When they suggested turning his area into a jury box during hockey games by putting a spotlight on the seats and asking his section to give a thumbs up or down on whether or not to pull the goalie, he said, 'No, I don't think fans should be making those decisions.' It's hard to say what's more jaw-dropping. That MSG offered, or that he turned it down."

Seriously? The offer was on the table to have this douche and whomever he brought to the game decide if the Rangers should pull their goalie? That has to be a joke. I would say that the reporter should have confirmed this story with the Garden, but it's the Post (and a ridiculously vapid offshoot of the main paper at that), so that's asking too much. But if this is, in fact, true, it might just represent a new low for the Rangers, or at least a low not seen since the Sassoon days. I'm trying to imagine a stoppage in play with a minute left in the game and the classless baboons in the stands at the Garden turning their eyes to the spotlight that shines on a multimillionaire and his clients who will dictate the team's strategy for the rest of the game.

Oh, how I wish the guy agreed to do it.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Still the Queen

Since it's been quiet around here and I'm in a hockey kind of mood again after watching last night's triple-OT game, here's the new video for Kathleen Edwards's "I Make the Dough, You Get the Glory," costarring Marty McSorley. It's a keeper.