Monday, March 29, 2010

Gary Bettman and the NHL's Fatal Southern Attraction. (Also Final Four Chatter)

As we know in the 1990's the National Hockey League went rather expansion crazy. This included moving a couple Canadian franchises to the states. One of those two were the Winnipeg Jets. They were taken out of a hockey crazy Manitoba and put into...Phoenix, Arizona. For a while, it seemed to work. In this most recent decade however the health of that franchise is on life support. It is clear the community doesn't get the sport and doesn't care. It's not exactly a place where people can relate to the game.

A couple years ago a major push was made by a Canadian businessman to purchase the stricken franchise and move them back to the homeland. Hamilton, Ontario was the goal, a far Southern "suburb" of Toronto with over a half-million people and highly succesful AHL organization. Truth be told, they would have sold the season out in 15 minutes. If you pay attention to the rhetoric from the NHL's propaganda, errr, public relations department you know the purchase was denied by the league, backed by the city of Phoenix.

The move of getting the Federal government to help you block the purchase was absolutely confusing in the utmost to the more knowledgeable hockey fan. It went to symbolize to a lot of REAL hockey fans the incompetant-ish nature of Gary Bettman's management of the league. He's not doing what is right for the game, rather, what is right for his (and his investors) pocket books. The downright outraged position the league offices took when plan for purchase was announced was sad. They gave Jim Balsillie, the proposed buyer of the bankrupt team, no shot from square one. They virtually refused to hear his arguement and had made up their mind before anything was even announced.

Well, what we have a year later is the complete proof of just how terrible a decision that was. There is nothing that can save this franchise, nothing. They have their own brand new arena, so the venue is not lacking. True, in the 2000's they had been quite dead on the ice, with not a lot to cheer for. Here, however, is the clincher.

This season the team was won it's division and already has over 100 points in the standings even before April! They are back and back big time. So one would expect Bettman to be able to gloat over the newly risen Phoenix (pun intended). Instead, the Coyotes are dead last in the league in attendance. They are averaging only a little over 11,700 a game, which to their home capacity puts them at about 67% of total seats. For a city that size with a team that good that is an absolute travesty. Canadian fans would be rioting in the streets over something that good!!
I can give you more examples of why a lot of Southern NHL teams need to be axed or moved the Canada. Nashville is very good this season, but only averages 14,900 a game, and is 26th of 30 teams in attendance. The Avalanche are well above .500 and looking to make the playoffs, they only draw 13,712 and are 27th. Atlanta is in the playoff hunt in the East and is 28th, drawing less than Colorado. Opposite those numbers, Toronto is DEAD LAST in the Eastern standings and operates at a 102.5% percent attendance margin EVERY NIGHT. Detroit is the worst economic situation in all the country and yet they STILL average almost 20,000 a night. Buffalo and Minn. also operate at nearly 100% capacity.

What's my point? The NHL made a serious mistake when appointing a former NBA guy their fuhrer. He's using NBA style marketing concepts with the NHL, and what works for one is not going to work for the other. NHL fans are different than NBA fans, there's a reason the Grizzlies never worked in Vancouver. You can further see it by his Idol-worship creation of Sydney Crosby. They pour all their marketing money into one player (well maybe a little Ovie too) and fans not wearing Penguins jerseys are starting to get tired of the charrade. Furthermore, fans and hockey knowledgeables are getting tired of the smell too. Gretzky bailed from Phoenix and Don Cherry rips Bettman every time he's on the air. It's time for Bettman and his ignorant plans to go.

Okay, the Final Four in Indianapolis next weekend is set, and my God they did it again! The Sparty party lives and has lived by the seat of it's pants all tournament long. In highly unlikley fashion green and white nation gets has again a shot at a title. They're underdogs to Butler this coming Saturday, but if they win, they're capable of anything. With or without Lucas.

On the same note is became apparent today that the University of Oregon and Nike want to lure Tom Izzo to Eugene to coach the Ducks. Their incentive is the largest contract ever offered to any college coach. What that will be is yet to be seen. I am truly hoping Izzo stays in Michigan, I simply can't see the man in any other shade of green after 15 seasons or so in East Lansing. He's a Michigan boy, so I'm leaning more that he'll stay, but one never knows.

All the best, and you stay classy Mitten State!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Beer Review: Bell's Special Double Cream Stout

Good evening peoples of the interwebs! Time for another review. Got a six pack of this last week before they stopped making it for the year. Bell's Special Double Cream Stout is always a favorite, and rather price competitive as well if you find a good store. It's a basic milk/sweet stout, kicked up a little on the flavor note.

A- Pours an old oil black, with a thick tan head that rises a whole inch. This one certainly looks inviting. The head eventually falls to a thin 1/4 inch layer, but leaves nice lacing all the way down.

S- Deep roastiness comes through, heavy, dark malts and cocoa. There is a mocha quality to it, as well as espresso. This one is very chocolatey, it smells a little like a Hersey bar still in the packaging, but more pronounced. It's a smell you really can't get enough of. Definitly very sweet, no roughness to be found anywhere or harsh bitter aromatics.

T- A deep, smooth, roasted cocoa flavor is simply, utterly undeniable. It cannot and will not be held back. Lots of dark roasted malts and earthiness. Chocolate, a little coffee...mocha...etc. There is no hop bitterness anywhere, even on the finish. They call this a milk stout for a reason. Very balanced however and certainly not overpowering. It's like a big hug!

M- Mouthcoating most certainly. It has consistency, but it's not too chewey or resiny. This one has some carbonation, but it's balanced enough so that you still know your drinking a thick stout, not a bombed-out hop-rocket.

D- This guy is awesome. To me, it's a Bell's Kalamazoo Stout with the flavor tweeked and turned up, which is just perfect. If you can find this one, it's certainly a session beer. It'll make a cold, wet March evening more enjoyable and bearable.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Beer Review: Founders Nemesis (2009)

So I grabbed a single of this at my local tonight. I've needed to try this one and have anticipated it's release. It's a bourbon barrel aged wheat wine, weighing in at 12% abv. Very cool label artwork as always from Founders, so let's get this one cracked and explore!

A- Pours a gorgous, deep golden amber. Almost like thick, moderately dark honey. Very hazy, love the haze. Small bubbles float inside the glass, and it looks like a rare gem in my wine glass. No head has formed at all, but the color makes up for that!

S- Wow, bourbon right off the first whiff. I'm getting a lot of barelywine scents mixed in there. I can faintly smell what resembles the nose of a Dirty Bastard! The second swirl pulls out the ethel alcohol and wow, I realize how bad this dogs bite is going to be! Oh Schnapp's, here we go! Dried fruits in the nose? Mmmmmm

T- My first sip reveal a lot, but the beer is still quite chilled. It's very complex, and the alcohol warms as it goes down. I get a very malty base coming in, just like a barelywine but more pronounced. I taste dried fruits...apricot? Man, the twang on the alcohol really comes through everything. There is hop presence...I'm really digging to detect it through the ethel alcohol barage. A little less alcohol on the pallet and the hops would be delicious. I've never had a wheat wine before, and there are some differences I notice between it and a barelywine, although I can't put my finger on them. Is it a texture thing? Okay, third sip now.
Oookay, there's the bourbon! Mmmm, Knob Creek...Wild Turkey! I get it now, I'll be slowly sipping for a while.

M- Mouthfeel is rather dry, yet viscous. There is a resinous mesh that covers the pallet like any super ipa or barleywine. The hops remain on your pallet even long after your swallow, like an ipa. The alcohol does too, same as sipping a fine, neat bourbon or scotch.

D- Umm, this beer is for those who really have a pallet to enjoy it. The resources and efforts put into this creation would be wasted by someone who would simply spit out the first sip and commence drainpour. It is quite intense, hence the sip and savor. One will do you all night long.

Overall, I am rather impressed! I need to let it warm a little to pull out all the nuances, but they've done a good job balancing this one! Cheers to Founders!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Another Weekend and Sparty Madness

So last week was the start of the tourney. Eveery year, crazy games happens and we all lose our heads over it. This year however, I somehow neglected to fill out a bracket (sacriligous right!?). I was hoping to have a bracket breakdown update at this point in the tournament tonight, but I guess this will be a much shorter post.

Friday night Michigan State survived a late surge from New Mexico State to advance to the second round of the field. Today, they faced off against the 4th seeded Terps from Maryland. It's odd for MSU to be the "underdog" this early in the tournament, but that's how I viewed the matchup going in. Sparty had been just too inconsistant.
Well, throughout the game the big green machine held a good lead. With two minutes to go in the game however, Maryland decided it would not go quietly into the night. They pulled ahead by one with under a minute to go, 81-80. A quick jumper got MSU back into the lead 82-81 with just under :30 to play. With only 7 seconds to go, Maryland took an 83-82 lead and all of Terp-nation was going nuts. It wouldn't be out of the norm for MSU to blow a late lead and lose, but not tonight. For the second game in a row, fate favored Tom Izzo's squad. The Spartans ran the length of the floor and as the clock hit :00 and the buzzer sounded, Korie Lucious's three point shot sunk through the net. Elation for one, heart break another. So close, so far. On to St. Louis, on to the Sweet Sixteen!

With star Kalin Lucas out, the Spartans now face an even tougher battle this coming Friday against ninth seeded Northern Iowa. The Panthers upset overall number one ranked Kansas, a team many had picked to win it all in Indianapolis, in a stunning and powerful fashion. This will be no scrimmage. Northern Iowa can now taste what lies ahead. The only problem for them may be a let down. If MSU can pull off a win, it will be by 6 points or less. This team is gassing and beat to hell. It's been a long, rough ride for them. After the dissapointments of February, a share of the Big Ten regular season title and a Sweet Sixteen appearance are something not to be ashamed of if the run ends this Friday.

Enjoy the moment folks, for those who are Spartan fans anyway. Of the hundreds of schools with a Division I basketball program, only sixteen got to this point. Once again, we get to enjoy the priviledge. Don't take it for granted.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Frightening and Sobering Reality Sixty Five Years Ago, Still True Today

On May 8th 1945, the war in Europe officially ended. Hitler had committed suicide a week earlier in his bunker in Berlin as the Soviets fought only blocks away in the streets above. Such a solitary and pathetic ending seems anti-climactic for the man that threatened the freedom and security of the entire world less than a decade earlier and is responsible for the deaths of over 50 million people. He almost wiped the country of Germany off the map, as well as it's people whom blindly followed him to the end. Just how close the Nazi party was to actually WINNING World War Two is a chilling reality that stares historians and those aware in the face in the new century.

The basic truth is that Hitler cost himself the war in his impatient rush to invade Europe and his benevolent, arrogant need to control his armies, instead of his far more intelligent generals. He ignored all warnings and wishes from his military staff, which had he heeded their calls the world would most certainly be a frighteningly different place today. "Had it not been for Hitler, they probably would have won it..." said a war veteran in the documentary piece below.

Taking a chilling look back at what could have been in an even worse case scenario, we reveal the truth. Military tacticians and historians continually state that had the Nazi's waited five more years to begin the war, they would have had that much more time to strenghten their military and gauge their adversaries. Had the Germans not stopped bombing the British airfields in favor of bombing London, they would have destroyed the RAF and been able to invade England. With his armies racing across central Russia and closing in Moscow in the fall of 1942, he made a fateful decision. Instead of taking Moscow and most certainly mortally wounding the Russians, he decides to go for Stalingrad in the South. As a result, the Germans get bogged down trying to beseige the city and lose two million soldiers as winter sets in. It's the beginning of the end in the East. On the morning of June 6, 1944 more fateful mistakes befell the Nazi's. Hitler held his massive panzer divisions in the rear and near Calais, far North of Normady and unable to attack. Furthermore, he was not awakened for hours after the attack, thus costing the German's the ability to throw the attack back into the sea.

These are simply a few of the hideous military mistakes made by history's most hideous ideology. In reality, Hitler and the Nazi's could have left the United States alone to defend itself on it's own shores from both Germany and Japan.

As the son of a World War Two veteran, this clip is incredibly moving to me:

Saturday, March 13, 2010

I Saw The Writing on the Wall

So last night I went out with some friends and had a damn good time. They were going to an Uncle Kracker concert, and since I'm not a fan I wasn't going to go. Since one of them photographs shows for the venue, he could get us in free. While at dinner downtown, they convinced me to go. I'm glad I did, because one of the opening bands won my heart. They are Rehab, from Georgia. They are a large, interracial band that covers a wide range of sound. They have three guitarists, a lead singer, vocalist, drummer and a guy working a turntable and keyboard.

They seem to follow the trend started by Linkin Park, and they do a damn good job at it. They played songs ranging from a rap battle to something resambling Blues Traveller and a hard-rock jam session with some crunchy guitars. Their talent and versatility impressed me, as well as their no BS approach. They tour nationally, but still have the raw sense of a band not being restrained in what they say by a national label.

Here's a sample of their work, I really dig the sound.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Flint and Detroit

An article in the Flint Journal gives some insight on hoow Michigan's two fastest shrinking cities are dealing with the issue of having too much abandoned housing and land. Both cities are taking different stances on the issue and dealing with it in their own way, both with good and bad sides.

The bottom line is you can't have it the way it was anymore, we've gone past the point of no return. We have to reinvent those cities, and that means some very hard, long and drastic changes both geographical and psychological.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Michigan Weather Game

So it's officially time for the weather game in Michigan. Spring is great, but early, early spring sucks. Mother nature pulls out a lot of rope-a-dopes and bait-and-switches.

This whole week in Michigan it's been in the upper 30's and 40's with clear, sunny skies. For early March (still winter in MI) that's really amazing! One might think we're in for an outstanding spring this year, but we've all seen this movie. It starts out too good to be true; and it always is. What will happen come April is anyone's guess, but I'd put my money on several weeks of rollercoaster-like weather entertainment.

Opening week of April will cause havok on spring break travelers, airport delays will be the order of the day, for days. It will start out with copious amounts of rain, several inches of the wet stuff in two or three days. No, it won't be a warm rain, rather cold and blowing. Right on the heels of that beauty will be our usual spring snowstorm. Look for anywhere from 4-10" of snow, mixed in with intermmitent freezing rain as the cold front keeps fluctuating.

By now you'd think we've paid our dues for our March fun right? Oh no, this is Michigan. Buckle up big boy. More torrential downpours will follow our snowfall. Temperatures in the 50's and even more rain upon what we had gotten only a week earlier will compound the spring flooding problem on the Grand River. Poor Abrigador Trail will once again be swollowed whole along with the several dozen residences on it's watery path. There will be more flood-plain anguish further down river on the Grand on our way to the lakeshore. Once scenic river-front properties will find themsevles in the middle of the ever-expanding and rising currents. You'd think people (or at the very least insurance companies) would learn.

Finally, the lashing begins to subside as the month wears on. By now we are so weather-beaten we feel further from summer than we did in March. Sure enough though, as it always does, May will greet us with a fantastic start to another spectacular Pure Michigan summer.

We have to pay the toll to get out summer kicks here in the mitten state, but in the end the results are well worth the price. We're almost there friends, don't give up now!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Child Directs Air Traffic at New York JFK!

Now, I'm all for take your kid to work day and what not and getting your kid familiar with the job you do. This however is another story, an air traffic controller at New York's JFK International Airport allowed a child to make multiple interactions with planes, including flight instructions.

Blue Dream

I found this little work of art while mindlessly surfing Youtube this afternoon and thought it really captured part of the essence and wonder that flying gives those of us who are actually in-tune enough to understand what a momentus accomplishment it really is. It's pretty cool, just give it a whirl and I think you'll enjoy it.

Monday, March 1, 2010


Have I ever fallen off the wagon with this thing lately or what?

Had a great weekend starting off with a low-key Friday night at home. Saturday entailed a good cardio workout and then heading downtown for RailJam with Travis, Eric, Amanda and Lora. Great time had by all, until I started to feel like crap at the end of the night at the Intersection. Left early and grabbed a cab home. I hate being a fun-wrecker but I think Ritz Koney got to me in a bad way.

I really like the concept of Railjam and I'm glad to have seen such a large and boisterous crowd present. The event took place in The B.O.B.'s parking lot and was definitly a close-quarters event. They had a band stand erected, as well as several vendors including a large beer tent with a great selection of beers and mixed drinks. They have a VIP deck, and a normal grandstand for spectators, but plenty of room for people to just stand around and watch. Also included was a large video screen for replays for those with less-than-ideal vantage points.

Sunday I lazed around before heading to Dan's to watch the US-Canada Gold Medal game. Great times, even though the hated Crosby scored the game winner for Canada. Stupid little....okay I'll stop. So here we are, one day of work down and four to go! Well, actually 3 to go. I've got a really, really easy day ahead of me Friday which will be a pleasure entering the weekend.

What next? Well, I've really been digging a weekend trip lately and I've been pricing everything from airfare to Amtrak to get out for a couple days! I'm a travel freak, and I wish I had more money to do it more often. If you've got some airline award tickets laying around you're willing to donate, let me know!

Small goal for March, keep up with this thing!

Peace kiddo's!