Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Minor Struggles

I attended a minor league hockey game with my son this week and the good news is that he enjoyed it. The bad news is that I didn't. We watched the home game between "our" Phoenix Roadrunners and the visiting Victoria Salmon Kings of the ECHL at USAirlines Arena (or as I still call it, "America West"). The game was not well-played and though our Roadrunners had plenty of shots, they didn't seem particularly powerful or well placed (many went right off the middle of the goalies chest pads). Worse was the crowd. We're talking tiny. Like maybe 1000 people. I have no idea how the Roadrunners are making this work financially but I wish them well. With Coyotes tickets so expensive, its nice to have a lower cost alternative. But if quality of play is your priority, then the Coyotes are a must. I do like the Roadrunners logo so they have that going for them. I hope I just came on a bad night. Go Roadrunners!

The Arena Football Arizona Rattlers have also been struggling the past few years. They used to sell out and the atmosphere at "America West" was outstanding. But since the Dbacks came to town, season ticket numbers have dwindled. The team has also struggled on the field the last few years as well. The good news is that team owner Brett Bouchy took over last year and has already started turning the franchise around under coach Kevin Guy. Last year was a largely new roster and the team showed potential amidst the growing pains. The crowds have increased just a bit as well (though they'll probably never get back to the pre-DBacks days).

This off-season the Rattlers signed former Rattler QB Joe Germaine (yes, the same guy who led Ohio State to a victory over ASU in the Rose Bowl back in '97) of Glendale and they just announced they've hired former coach Danny White as the offensive coordinator. Read the story HERE. This is great news for Rattlers fans, but I wonder what Coach Guy thinks about having White looking over his shoulder?

Perhaps more interesting is what the Arena Football League itself is doing to stay competitive. After 22 years of surprising success, the league is now moving to a "single entity ownership" structure in order to combine marketing and sales strategies. Read more about that move HERE in the Sports Business Journal. $100 million should provide some much-needed cashflow in these tough economic times.

Phoenix is full of professional sports options, and perhaps too many. I mean TWO hockey teams in the desert?! We've also had pro indoor soccer, pro indoor lacrosse, USFL football, minor league basketball (and all signs are we'll have it again with the Phoenix Fury at the Fairgrounds Arena) and all kinds of minor league baseball. Hopefully our "good" minor league franchises (the Roadrunners and the Rattlers) will find away to get the attention of the ticket buying public and keep their franchises moving forward.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Silly French

S.I. reports HERE that France is threatening to cancel French National Team Soccer matches if fans of opposing teams boo or whistle during the French National Anthem.

Of course this is an idiotic idea, based on politics and race. Seems that France has a huge population of folks from its former colony in Tunisia. There are repeated ethnic/racial clashes in France and the people of Tunisian origin are often targeted. Those folks still have some nationalistic pride for their former homeland and on occasion they misbehave by making derisive noise during the anthem. Are they rude and inappropriate? Of course.

But French Soccer Hero Michael Platini is advocating for reason. He calls the threats to cancel "absurd" and points out that many of the folks who whistle and boo probably root for the French side when it is playing other European teams. Platini is correct on all counts. Politics does not belong in soccer or any other sport, and calls to cancel the games is unworkable (can you imagine sending home 80,000 people who travelled from all over to attend --not to mention the TV backlash and demind for rights fees refunds and damages) and is the worst sort of Pandering.

Welcome Back Bruce

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have announced that they will start a "Ring of Honor" next year and that they are going to wear their throwback orange uniforms at least once. Story HERE. I think it is a great idea. The world is a better place with good ol' Bucco Bruce. Tampa didn't win much, but those unis were certainly unique.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


My fantasy football team is in trouble, in part because Fast Willie Parker (RB Steelers) has been injured. Word was that he would be playing this weekend against the Bengals. But not so fast my friend! The latest update (read HERE) is that he is injured again.

"How?" you ask. At practice he stepped in a hole and reinjured his ankle. Now we have all probably twisted our ankle by stepping in a hole or an indentation while hiking or working in the yard. But Parker wasn't out hiking. He was practicing with his pro-team on a multi-million dollar practice field designed specifically for football. Is it really that hard to avoid HOLES that might injure a million dollar player? What kind of clowns do the Steelers have running their lawn and garden program, Carl Spackler?

Monday, October 6, 2008

Another Black Eye for John Dowd

As I watched the latest Youtube thriller, I couldn't help but notice John Dowd's involvement in the Keating scandal. Dowd, you remember, came to prominence when he served as a lapdog to management in banning the alltime Hit King from baseball. More recently he served a businessman-turned-politician (Fife Symington) and a bimbo (disgraced DOJ employee Monica Goodling). Who could remember, though, that he also represented John McCain during the Keating Five scandals? Let me get this straight: he bans one of baseball's greats for off-field activities; and he defends a sneaky politician for his on-court deals on the Senate floor.