Welcome to a weekly grab bag of thoughts and observations from the past few days and/or decades of NHL hockey.
The Three Stars of Comedy
Recognizing the three NHL personalities from around the league who produced the most comedic fodder for fans.
The third star: Ben Scrivens and Alec Martinez bicker passive-aggressively on Twitter
Kings backup goalie Ben Scrivens is one of the league’s more underrated Twitter follows. He’s an Ivy Leaguer, Jeopardy! fan, and Ted Talk aficionado. He’s also apparently one of those guys on an airplane, as teammate Alec Martinez was kind enough to point out.
The second star: Brandon Bollig is trying his best
Patrick Kane impressed everyone with his stickhandling skills in this recent ad. Teammate Brandon Bollig figured he’d give it a try too. I like his version better.
The first star: Patrick Roy is who we thought he was
OK, who had “Game 1” in the “When will Patrick Roy go berserk and start destroying things” pool? [Checks list.] Everyone. Everyone had “Game 1." Congratulations, we are all winners.
No, really, we’re all winners. The Patrick Roy era is going to be amazing.
We didn't expect much out of college football's first weekend of games. We got so much more than we asked for, however, and so much more than we deserved. Today, we sift through the cornucopia and plot data points for the course ahead.
We Went There
First: Six thoughts from the Georgia Dome, including a necessary recipe detour.
1. "We have to create an identity as a team," Nick Saban begins, settling into his seat in the underground media chamber of the Georgia Dome. He could be echoing any other coach in a Week 1 postgame press conference: "I don't know that we did that in all phases of the game today."
He goes on from there, in an almost singsong recitation, checking off all the August football coachspeak boxes: There were good and bad things happening on the football field Saturday night; there were players who needed to improve and players who performed well. And then Saban starts talking about showing his Alabama team footage of Michael Jordan's final championship:
"The guy makes every play in the game. Makes a shot. Steals the ball. Makes the next shot to win the game. And what did he have to prove? That was his sixth championship. The [second] time they'd won three in a row. And this guy's playing at 35 years old like there's no tomorrow. And you know, it was interesting — for a guy that had nothing to prove? He was out there playing like he had everything to prove."
We live every day in near-sobbing relief that social media didn’t really get big on even a campus-wide scale until we were almost out of college. Would you like to read about the time we got ourselves and a dozen underclassmen in our charge sent to Judicial Services for putting shaving cream and glitter on the testicles of the Europa & the Bull statue? Because we would’ve shrieked about that injustice via whatever means we had available to us — to say nothing of the time our tap teacher sent us back to change for wearing a tie-dyed Spider-Man T-shirt to a performance* ... or the time our film professor flunked us in a critique because we said a classmate’s 10-minute close-up of his blinking eye watching CNN was not a “profound meditation on the human condition.”
You want to talk parking tickets? Our roommate almost didn’t graduate because of a FIVE-FIGURE BILL she owed to university parking services for parking in the staff lot every day, because she thought separate faculty parking facilities were class warfare.
With that in mind, here are hypothetical (so far) situations we would rather be writing about than the Twitter account of 20-year-old Johnny Manziel:
Athletes are mostly boring. We wish this wasn’t true. After all, the athlete lives an exceptional life and it stands to reason that exceptional lives require exceptional people. This underlying assumption has launched a thousand profiles written by a countless number of writers, the vast majority of whom come away with notebooks filled with boilerplate about hard work, dedication, and the importance of teammates and championships. Some coherent narrative must be stitched together from the clichés, and we, as sportswriters, generally follow one of two templates.
One of the striking things about seeing these topics fill up Twitter was that, by and large, they seemed to pass each other in the night (or morning or midday, depending on your time zone). Many politicos are sports fans, and the sports world is becoming increasingly politically aware, but often the sports and hard-news spheres stay separate.
These types of intersections are rare, and can make for memorable media consumption. So as Mitt Romney takes aim at Obamacare on the campaign trail, and Anthony Davis begins house shopping in New Orleans, let's revisit a few other days when news and sports competed for the front page.
Tonight is a perfect storm of sports. There are two Game 7s in the NHL playoffs, eight NBA teams playing for better seeding on the final night of the regular season, and the NFL draft begins. Thus, there could not be a better night for Grantland Live.
Sunday was the debut of @GrantlandLive, the new Twitter feed where you'll find our live tweets for big games, important events, and uh other stuff, to be determined later. Thanks to those who followed Lakers-Celtics with us. We're looking forward to the next one!
At LAL-Celts and Rondo is wearing sunglasses in the layup line. Hmmmmmm. PS: Taking my tweets over to @grantlandlive during the game.
On July 28, Jared Bloom started the Twitter feed @fakegrantland, filled with what purported to be rejected stories from this website. We quickly realized they were better than a lot of what we were coming up with in our ideas meeting and greenlit them. (Not really.) Here are excerpts from the best of the (totally made-up) stories he came up with this month:
"Schott Caller: The 1990 Reds Playoff Run and the Birth of Midwest Hip Hop"
"... although, in fairness, his flow is only a little bit whack.
If Jose Rijo was the Reds' Nelly, then Chris Sabo was clearly its Bone Thugs. He brought harmony to a team that was delicately balancing the heavy-breathing gangsta lean of Rob Dibble with the studied stoicism of Ken Griffey, Sr. Is it any wonder, then, that 'Tha Crossroads' was released almost exactly 5 years and 7 months after Piniella and the Reds lifted the World Series trophy? ..."
Last night Kutcher sent the following tweet, which has been deleted, after learning that Paterno was out at Penn State: "How do you fire Jo Pa? #insult #noclass as a hawkeye fan I find it in poor taste."
Itwasnotwell received. You'll find Kutcher's subsequent Twitter meltdown below, including some tweets that have since been wiped from his feed.
We've got a bona fide Twitter superstar on the podcast! Logan Morrison, left fielder for the Marlins and proprietor of the excellent Twitter feed @LoMoMarlins, joins the show to talk about the virtues of on-base percentage, his thoughts on clubhouse chemistry, his own rising career, what it was like to almost get traded for Ozzie Guillen, and how he plans to adjust when the Tampa Bay Rays inevitably swoop in and trade for him. He also weighs in on the World Series.
Then Jon "Boog" Sciambi, ESPN broadcaster deluxe and friend of the show checks in from St. Louis. We talk about insider vs. outsider access, gaps in human cognition, the meaning of sample sizes, and whether or not Bernie Williams was the biggest choker of all-time. (Spoiler alert: he wasn't.)
By all accounts, Arian Foster is something of a new-age goofball. His father actually named him after the Age of Aquarius, he majored in philosophy at Tennessee, he writes poetry, and he named his child Zeniah Egypt, in part because of his high regard for Discovery Channel programming. He is not the prototypical NFL mercenary, and so perhaps we should not have been surprised that Foster tweeted this spiritual observation about a hamstring injury that could keep him from playing in the Houston Texans’ season opener:
"Why does the Little League World Series stop becoming a double elimination tourney at the American and foreign champ games? Makes no sense," he tweeted.
My first reaction when I saw this tweet wasn't to wonder why Battier, a professional basketball player, cared about fair play in youth baseball. Instead, I nodded my head, and felt a tiny bit vindicated. I'd been annoyed about the same thing all day, and thank god for Twitter, because where else could I find a venue for addressing the unfairness of something so small?