Tag Archives: New York Rangers

The Stanley Cup playoffs are awesome, and tonight I get to see them live. Skateboarding with dogs looks fun. And a minor-league team hosts a “Seinfeld” night.

rangers-flyers

The Stanley Cup playoffs began Wednesday night, and like I do every year, I looked forward to it like a Christian kid on Christmas.

We had great action in all three games, a hellacious overtime between Tampa Bay and Montreal (note to the Lightning: You need a better goalie if you’re gonna win this series, because Anders Lindback ain’t gonna get it done), and a wasted chance to steal a win by Columbus.

I’ve preached it here many times before, but the hockey playoffs are by far the best postseason in sports, for drama and excitement.

Tonight, though, is the night I’ve really been looking forward to: For the first time in my life I’m going to a Rangers playoff game live, and I am super pumped. Rangers-Flyers, Game 1.

It’s funny, I was a sportswriter for so many years, going to hundreds and hundreds of games as an impartial observer, that you almost forget what it’s like to go to a “big game” as a fan.

The nervous excitement all day, the anticipation of walking up to the gate and handing your ticket to the usher, the rush of walking into the arena. As a reporter, you ignore such things, mostly: You’re worried about Internet access, how far your seat is from the playing field, what your deadline is, yada yada yada.

But the last couple years since leaving the daily grind has made me appreciate being a fan even more. I plan to savor every moment tonight, and scream my lungs out, and curse anything in orange and black.

Should be a great time. It’s the Stanley Cup playoffs, what could be bad? For my hockey fan readers, here’s the alway s-goosebump-inducing Hockey Night in Canada 2014 playoff montage…

**Next up, this is definitely an event I will try to get tickets for: On July 5th the Brooklyn Cyclones minor league baseball team is holding a “Salute to Seinfeld” night at their game.

There will be Keith Hernandez “Magic Loogie” bobbleheads given out, the Cyclones will take batting practice in puffy uniform shorts (but they’re not playing in cotton uniforms, amazingly! Love that episode where George convinces the Yanks to play in cotton), and there’ll be an Elaine dance competition.
My favorite part is that the Cyclones’ home park is going to be renamed Vandelay Industries Park for the night, and latex salesmen get a special prize.

Can’t wait.

 

**And finally, nothing to see here, just a man skateboarding really fast with a handful of dogs on a leash:

 

 

“The Americans’ ends on a really high note. A rough sports weekend for me. And a legless Marathon victim inspires.

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It’s been a few days since it aired but I feel like I must blog about the season finale of the best new show since “Homeland.”

“The Americans” had its season finale Wednesday, and it was a fantastic end to an incredibly strong first season (Spoiler alert for season finale here, but people, you really should’ve watched by now if you’re a fan).

What this show did in bringing us inside the lives of two Russian spies living in the U.S. in 1981 was sensationally entertaining, thought-provoking, and at times, scary.
What I loved about the finale is that of course not everything was resolved, but there were enough loose threads that you can’t wait for Season 2.
I loved that Granny fought with Elizabeth for so much of the season, knows that Elizabeth tried to have her reassigned, yet she still feels protective of her when she learns Elizabeth may be wanting into an FBI trap.
I love that the Jennings’ daughter is finally getting curious as to what goes on in her parents’ basement.
I love that Nina came clean as a double-agent caught by the FBI and now confessing to the Russians, and we really don’t know what she’s going to do next (she says she’s going to try to turn FBI agent/her lover Stan into a KGB supporter, but I don’t see that happening.
I also loved that it looks like Elizabeth is going to live even after getting a gunshot wound to the stomach from Stan in Phillip and Elizabeth’s escape.

So many great storylines, so well written, and Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys are awesome as the protagonists.
If you’re not watching “The Americans,” I highly recommend catching up on episodes through OnDemand or the FX website.
It’s one of those shows that has a chance to be an all-time classic. The first season was that good.

**Here’s something that should inspire you. Jeff Bauman is one of the heroes of the Boston Marathon bombings. Bauman, if you remember, was the man who lost both of his legs in the explosion, but when he awoke in the hospital scrawled a note to police reading: “Bag, saw the guy, looked right at me.”

That may have been an important clue to police about how the bomb exploded; even if it wasn’t, it’s pretty sensational that even after his trauma, he was still trying to help.

Saturday night Bauman was a special guest of the Boston Bruins before their playoff game. Check out the chill bump-inducing video above (the good stuff starts at the 1-minute mark)

NBA: Playoffs-Chicago Bulls at Brooklyn Nets

**Finally, it was another rough sports weekend for yours truly. Miserable performances by the Rangers and the Nets, but only one of them truly stunned me.
The Rangers, I sort of expected to struggle in this playoff series. It angers me that after four years under John Tortorella they still have no freaking clue how to run a power play. It angers me that they’re playing below their skill level against a team (Washington) that isn’t really that much better, yet looks 10 times better in the first two games. The Rangers have ONE goal in two games. ONE. You realize how hard that is to do against a goalie like Braden Holtby who’s not that good?
The Rangers aren’t dead, down 2-0 with Game 3 tonight, but they’re pretty close. I have zero confidence they’ll come back to win this series, but again, not really shocking that they’re in this spot.

The Nets, though… what a disgrace.  They’re at home Saturday night, in Game 7, against a Bulls team that’s missing two of its top four players (Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich) and is on the road having lost its last two games in the series.
And the Brooklyn boys, with SO much to play for, with the intensity of the home crowd behind them … fell behind by 17 at the half and never completed a furious comeback.
Pathetic. No bloody excuse in the world to explain why the Bulls had so much more heart, so much more desire. Joakim Noah (above) destroyed all of the Nets inside players, and he’s playing hurt!
P.J. Carlesimo got fired as coach Sunday, but that’s not enough. This team needs a legit power forward, some better bench options, and they need a full season of a healthy Deron Williams (who was great in the playoffs).

What a waste of a first season in Brooklyn, to go out like that Saturday.

Tales from my first month as a substitute teacher. The NHL is back, whoo-hoo! And a Super Mario Bros. spoof I loved.

subphoto.cartoon

It’s been about a month now that I’ve been substitute teaching in the New York City school system.

Just as I expected, it hasn’t been boring. Every day brings a different challenge ( I’m actually subbing three days a week, so I can keep doing the freelance writing I do), and there have been more highs and lows than I can count.

Subbing is hard, it’s thankless, and it doesn’t pay a whole lot. But so far I’m liking it, mostly.

Some stories from my own personal Sub Files…

— One day about two weeks ago I walked out of the teacher’s lounge at a Harlem high school and started to walk down the stairs.

Then I saw something on fire in the stairwell. It looked like a sock, with a piece of paper wrapped around it. My first thought was , “go put it out.” My second thought was, “Are you crazy?” Go call security.” So I went back upstairs to the lounge, one of the regular teachers got security, and soon the stairs were safe again.

Turns out it was the second fire of the day in that school. “But that’s very unusual,” a security guard told me. That doesn’t explain why his uniform was flame-retardant.

— The lack of respect for me as a sub, by students, I expected. But just the incredible lack of respect they have for me as an adult, was a little jarring. Never in a million years would I have imagined talking to a grown-up the way some of these kids have talked to me. (“Get away dude, you’re just a sub, you don’t count” was one of the nicer things I’ve heard).

But it’s a different world, and a lot of these kids were not raised to respect authority. Makes me sad.

— Similarly, the feeling of powerlessness is something that’s been hard to get used to. More than once a kid has said to me “You’re just a sub, you’re here for one day, I’m here every day. You don’t matter, I don’t have to listen to you.” And they don’t. I’m just a blip in their academic life, and I have no power to get them to behave or do their work.

— Some of my most interesting days have come at elementary schools; I’m not really trained as a elementary teacher, but I’ve filled in for a few days. The adorable kids, the crazy names (I’ve taught two Syncere’s, a Joelmy, and a Washier, among others), and the things that come out of their mouths keep me laughing.

Two of my favorite comments from the little people set:
“Mr. Lewis, they’re just acting wild because Mrs. V. isn’t here. They feel like they have freedom now.”
And “Mr. Lewis, you a good grown-up and a good worker. I wanna shake your hand.” I had to bend down to reach the boy’s digits, but it was still nice of him to say.

— The cell phone/iPod epidemic is incredible in NYC schools. Every junior high or high school class I’ve been in, at least 5-6 kids are trying to sneak texts or earphones. It’s like putting out little fires; you yell at one kid to put the phone away, and two others across the room are busy texting.

 I always knew subbing was hard, but man, my respect for the job increases every day.

More stories to come, I’m sure.

**And now, an interlude from the incredibly awesome Nintendo video game “Super Mario Brothers.” If you are at all like me, you spent hundreds of hours playing this instead of doing homework as a kid.
Here’s a bizarre video of Dallas Mavericks forward Shawn Marion, acting as Mario as he navigates the first board of the game.
I laughed pretty hard.

**Well it’s about damn time.
After months and months of arguing and posturing and abusing the loyalty of the most dedicated fans in sports, the grand poobahs of the NHL finally came to an agreement with the players on a new labor deal Sunday morning.

Four months after the season was supposed to begin, we are finally getting NHL hockey, in about a week.

I know I’m supposed to be bitter about how ridiculous this lockout was, and I am, a little.
But I can’t lie: I love, love, love this sport, especially at its highest level. And I’m very excited to have it back, especially when my Rangers have such a good shot at a Stanley Cup this year, having added Rick Nash.

Can’t wait for the puck to drop. A pox on Gary Bettman, the league owners, and Donald Fehr for dragging this lockout on so long.

Finally, we can think about hockey. I watched the video above and got pumped up big-time.

Let’s go Rangers!

R.I.P. Sally Ride, a true American pioneer. Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David, just hanging out, hilariously. And a big day for the Rangers: Rick Nash is coming to NYC

The thing that surprised me most when I read that the first American woman in space, Sally Ride had died Monday night? Her age.
For a person who accomplished as much as Ride did, and to be only 61 when she passed away due to cancer, was eye-opening.
This was a woman who was a true pioneer, becoming the first woman accepted at NASA as an astronaut in 1978, and who then flew two missions.

As discriminatory barrier after barrier falls away as society becomes more enlightened and less beholden to the past, you sometimes forget how big a deal it was when certain blockades fell. In the middle of the feminism wave of the 1970s, Ride literally proved women could go anywhere men could go, all the way to outer space.

She was a wonderful role model for girls who loved science, and a terrific representative for all who had the imagination to go where few had gone before.

Hers was a life cut short too soon, and she will be missed. But as long as the tales of traveling in orbit are told, Sally Ride will be remembered.

**Jerry Seinfeld, whose post-“Seinfeld” career hasn’t been all that, you know, funny, may finally have something worth watching again. He’s got a new Web-only show on Crackle.com called “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.” Which is exactly what it is.

For episode one he had his old partner Larry David on, and it was fantastic. These two are just so clearly, perfectly in tune, that it’s like watching jazz, seeing them riff off each other. A definite good use of 13 minutes of your time; watch the clip above (and enjoy the real spit-take around the 8-minute mark).

**Finally, on a day when the New York Yankees acquired the great outfielder Ichiro (who may or may not be washed up, we’ll see), I was much more excited by another trade one of my favorite teams made Monday.
After months of negotiating, and trade talks stalling, the deal was finally cinched: Star goal-scorer Rick Nash is coming to the Rangers. My Blueshirts had to give up a few good players, but nobody anywhere close the quality of Nash, who scored 30 goals every year on a terrible team in Columbus. Imagine what he’ll do playing with Ryan Callahan and Brad Richards every night!

This trade makes the Rangers a lot better. If there’s a hockey season this fall (and that’s a big if, with an owners’ lockout looming), I’m very pumped for the Rangers’ chances.
Rick Nash, welcome to Broadway. Now don’t screw up.
 

A very cool ad tests the buttered bread/cat theory. The Rangers drive me crazy, again. And a “Wheel of Fortune” contestant makes me very sad

It’s a question as old as time itself: If a cat always lands on its feet, and a piece of buttered bread always lands butter-side down, what happens if you strap a piece of bread to the back of a cat?
I know, I know, you’ve spent hours pondering it. Well, a Brazilian ad agency has solved the problem with this creatively awesome ad for an energy drink.

**Rangers-Devils, Game 2. Once again, my beloved Blueshirts fail to take command of a series. Three times this playoff season they’ve been up 1-0, and now all three times they’ve blown Game 2 at home.

Lot of wacky stuff happened Wednesday, especially when there was a 10-minute delay in the second period when the penalty-box door broke and, hilariously, they tried to fix it by having a MSG crew guy kick the door really hard, three or four times (that never works at my apartment, not sure why it would work there).

In the end , my boys blew it again. They’re just trying to make me sweat. Or, they’re just not that much better than any of these teams, so every series, every game is going to be a struggle.
Some quickie thoughts from another very entertaining game:
— Henrik Lundqvist is the best goalie in the world, and it’s obvious even on a night he lets in a few. He made two or three ridiculous saves Wednesday night.
— Chris Kreider, wow. That kid is going to be a superstar for the Rangers with a capital S.
—  Because it’s a Rangers-Devils series, I feel obligated to link to this David Puddy clip from “Seinfeld” at least once. It has to be done.
— MSG crowd was dead most of the night. Why? Because real fans, who know when to cheer and when to boo, can’t afford the insanely-priced playoff tickets. It’s a damn shame that real sports fans can hardly afford to go see their teams play.

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**Finally, I love 1980s music as much as the next guy. OK, way, way more than the next guy. Which is why this woman playing “Wheel of Fortune” and guessing what she guessed makes me really, really sad.
Come on lady, really????

Jon Stewart on Passover vs. Easter: Not a fair fight. The Stanley Cup playoffs begin and I am happy. And the No. 1 reason you shouldn’t text while walking

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To begin this fine Thursday, I give you the nearly-always funny Jon Stewart, who seems to have a wonderful knack for making religious differences between Christians and Jews funny (If you want proof, Google his bit about how with Lent lasting a month and Yom Kippur only 24 hours, “even in sin, you guys are paying retail!”).
The other night he had me laughing pretty darn hard when he compared Passover to Easter, and emphasized that we Jews just aren’t winning the P.R. war on this holiday battle:

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**The Stanley Cup playoffs started Wednesday night. Outside of March Madness, the NHL playoffs are my favorite sports postseason. I’ve said it once, I’ll say it 1,000 times: NHL playoff overtime is the greatest thing in sports. As pumped as I usually am about the race for Lord Stanley’s silver chalice, I’m even more pumped because my Rangers are entering as the No. 1 seed in the East.

I don’t think my favorite team is good enough to win the Cup this year, but seeing them make a deep run for the first time in 15 years sure would be sweet. They have the best goalie in the world in Sports Illustrated cover boy Henrik Lundqvist, offensively they’re a lot better than they were last year, and the defense has been solid all year. I’m feeling like a run to the Eastern Finals is very do-able, as long as they don’t run into Pittsburgh.

For my fellow Rangers fans out there (I’m looking at you, Mark Mahoney!), here’s a nice pump-up video (above) to get you excited about tonight’s Game 1 against Ottawa.
Couple thoughts about Wednesday night’s three openers (and yeah, this blog will have at least some hockey in it for a while).
— Stunned to see the Penguins choke a 3-0 lead away at home to the Flyers, and lose 4-3 in overtime. Happy to see it, but stunned. The Flyers play great against everybody but the Rangers.
— Disgusting, awful, stupid play by Nashville defenseman Shea Weber in the closing seconds of the Predators’ win over Detroit, ramming Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg’s head, WWE-style, into the glass.

He ought to be suspended for at least 2-3 games for that. Just so stupid.
— My official Cup prediction: Blackhawks vs. Penguins. I just have a feeling about Chicago this year.

**Finally today, there are all these warnings and laws now about texting while driving, and I fully applaud that. Texting while driving is extremely dangerous and really, really stupid.
But sometimes, well, texting while walking with your head down can also be kinda scary.
Check out this video, particularly the :14 second mark and the :45 mark, when a bear that was on the loose on the street in California runs into a dude who was busy texting…

California dreamin’ on a winter’s day. The Rangers are kicking some serious butt. And the Christmas carolers you don’t want to hear.

The blogging may be a little lighter than usual for the next week or so, my dear readers.

After going almost non-stop to grad school for the past six months, I’m taking a little vacation. My lady and I are headed from N.Y. to California for a week with friends, their babies who we haven’t met, and a hopefully gorgeous drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

I love Northern California so much; we’re going to be stopping in Monterey, a place I’ve been to twice and think is about as pretty as it gets. Maybe take a vineyard tour; always wanted to do one of those. Maybe do some things in San Francisco first; one of the world’s great cities, in my opinion. Such great food, great people, and OK, so it drops 40 degrees at night. Not the worst thing in the world.

Anyways, will probably post a few times but not every day like normal. Somehow, I feel you’ll survive.


**One of the great parts of moving back to NY last summer is I’m getting to fully enjoy the incredible season my New York Rangers are having. Seriously, my boys are playing phenomenal hockey right now. They beat the hated Islanders again Monday night (that never gets old) and as of this writing have the most points of any team in the East.

Getting to see a lot of the games, I have to say that this Rangers team is extremely likeable. They’ve got some young kids who are really coming along, like John Mitchell and Carl Hagelin, vets like Marian Gaborik and Ryan Callahan are playing up to their potential, and King Henrik is in net.

They’ve had streaks like this in past seasons, but they’re 35 games into the year; this is no streak. Definitely starting to get excited for playoff time…

**Finally, this is what happens when some people decide to go caroling in the middle of the night, waking people up. I don’t blame these homeowners at all; I’d kick ’em out too. Pretty funny, though…

The next “American Idol” is in my family. The great photos of sport. And the best of hockey hugs

Continuing my Good News Friday theme, I present today a new singing star, some awesome photography, and the best in hockey hugs! Follow me on Twitter here.

Clearly the first part of my blog headline today would provoke gales of laughter from anyone who knows me well. I have a terrible singing voice, truly awful, though that doesn’t stop me from karaoke-ing to my heart’s content whenever I get the chance. (There’s a bar on Carolina Beach Road in Wilmington, N.C. where, if you stopped on a weekend night sometime in the late 1990s, chances are you were subjected to my vocal stylings on “Born to Run” or “Don’t Stop Believin”).

So yeah, I stink at singing, and no one in my immediate family is likely to get Clive Davis or L.A. Reid to perk up their ears. Fortunately, though, I can now claim a great singer among my tribe. My step-niece Malynn is about to turn 9, and the kid has major pipes. She lives in Florida, is as shy as Don King (ha), and loves to perform.

My stepmother made this YouTube of her singing last week on her visit to N.Y. Check it out; I think the kid has real talent.
Maybe if she gets famous she’ll let me do a duet with her…

**One reason I love sports photography so much is because athletes’ faces always show exactly what they’re feeling. Joy, despiar, confusion, it’s all right there.
My friends at boston.com have come up with another fantastic photo essay, all featuring sports pics. Check it out here.

**Finally, one of the 4,683 things I love about hockey are the goal celebrations. Because you never know when a goal will be scored, and each time the puck goes in it’s a minor miracle, it seems, the spontaneous eruptions of joy among hockey players are always so cool.
And of course, what do hockey players do when they score? They hug. Hockey guys hug more than any other sport’s athletes, and isn’t that a good thing?

The great hockey blog on Yahoo! Sports has put together a new category of “Hockey Hugs,” saluting the top 5 of the week (the one above is my favorite, because it’s just a great shot and my beloved Rangers are in it). Here are some great shots…

An all-good news Friday! Nikki Minaj makes a dream come true. Remembering No. 11 on 11/11/11. And a blind teen runner finds her way

It’s Friday and I’m all about bringing you good news. I’m going to try to make this a weekly thing here on the blog, only writing about positive, optimistic, upbeat stuff on Fridays (because don’t we all want to feel good heading into the weekend), but like with a lot of things on this blog, I don’t always follow through on my “regular feature” ideas.

Anyway, we’ll see how it goes. So to start Good News Fridays, I give you a clip of someone I’ve never, ever written about. Nikki Minaj is apparently a famous singer who dresses weird and I suppose I should be embarrassed, pop culturally, to admit I know nothing else about her.

But because of this clip I just saw for the first time, I’m a big fan. On the “Ellen” show last month two little girls appeared who are huge fans of Minaj’s, and well, pretty darn talented singers as well. Check out what happens…

Next, on 11/11/11, I think it’s appropriate to pay tribute to the greatest No.11 in sports history. A man who accomplished something for the New York Rangers that I never thought could be done.
Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Mark Messier, and a very short video of his hat trick in Game 6 of the 1994 Eastern Conference finals. I never, EVER get tired of watching this…

**Finally, a heartwarming story about an Ohio teenager named Sami Stoner. She suffers from Stargardt’s disease, a form of macular degeneration which leads to complete blindness.
Sami loves running, but in her deteriorating condition it seemed she wouldn’t be able to compete in races with her high school team.
But then Sami got a seeing-eye dog, and well, read this and realize once again the power of the human spirit…

A fantastic book I highly recommend. Rangers sadness. And a mascot lawsuit waiting to happen

Read a really terrific, absorbing and impossible to forget book on the plane back to Florida.
David Finkel, a Pulitzer-Prize winning writer for The Washington Post, spent nearly a year embedded with the Second Battalion, 16th Infantry regimen of Army soldiers in Iraq, a group specifically sent there as part of “the surge” in 2007. The book is called “The Good Soldiers,” and I could not recommend it highly enough.
Finkel, a fantastic reporter with excellent eye for detail, introduces us to a colorful cast of characters, led by Ralph Kauzlarich, the man in charge who leads frightened but cocky young men through some of the horrors of war.
There are so many great parts of this book; the scenes of battle are great, sure, but it’s the little things, like the emails from the soldiers’ wives back home, and the harrowing aftermath of the wounded back in America, struggling to survive in VA hospitals, that really pierced my heart.
Finkel draws such wonderful portraits of his subjects, kids like Jay March, hot-tempered but scared inside, and a remarkable Iraqi interpreter named Izzy,  that you find yourself rooting for them intensely, and when one of your favorites dies, even though you know they’re in a war, it comes as a shock. (I actually whispered “No!” out loud when one of my favorites died; the woman in the seat next to me looked at me weird).
It’s as good as war book as I’ve ever read, right up there with Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried” and Dexter Filkins’ “The Forever War.”
Here’s the New York Times review of the book when it first came out.
Go get it at the library or buy it here. You’ll thank me.
And you’ll never forget the men of the 2:16.

**Ah, this made laugh. The Portland Timbers are a soccer team in Major League Soccer. They have a mascot called “Timber,” who’s really just a scaring-looking dude in a funky helmet.
Anyway, Timber’s job, after each Portland goal, is to take the chainsaw he carries, walk over to this huge hunk of wood behind the field, and slice a big log off while the crowd goes wild.
Let’s see: A man with a giant chainsaw slicing logs with 30,000 fans in the crowd. What could possibly go wrong here?
I’m sure they have plenty of insurance for Timber in case, you know, wood chips start flying like projectiles into the crowd.

**Watched the Rangers pathetic offense get only 22 shots on the Washington Capitals Friday night. Watched the Caps score twice. My Blueshirts now have one lousy goal in two games. To paraphrase Bob Uecker in “Major League,” one goddamn goal??? Hey Marian Gaborik, how much money are you getting from the Rangers and you’re doing nothing? Just wondering.
Ugh. Two more games and the Caps put the Rangers out of their misery. No, I’m not totally giving up. But the fat lady is in her dress and waiting for her cue.