The Play by Play
Let’s Play Hockey
There are now three, that’s right, three professional sports seasons happening concurrently, as hockey (known as the NHL- not to be confused with the NFL) skates onto television and into our lives on Wednesday, October 4th. The Pittsburgh Penguins, last year’s Stanley Cup Champions, face off (gotta love hockey puns) against the St. Louis Blues at 8pm EST. The Pens are all set to raise their championship banner beforehand, joining the other 4 that are already hanging in PPG Paints Arena (not the coolest of stadium names, I know).
Here’s what you need to know in preparation for the 82 game season. There are 31, both US and Canadian based, teams in the league. The reason for the odd number is that this season there’s a new team in town, the Las Vegas Golden Knights. The team is comprised of players from the other, pre-existing NHL teams, selected in an expansion team draft over the summer. As the first professional sports team in Vegas, it will be interesting to monitor fan attendance, as well as the potential for serious gambling. If you are trying to figure out your team of choice, here’s a brief overview of each one, including star players and prospects. Perhaps it’s a scheduling decision, and you have to choose a team that tends to play games on a night of the week that is more convenient for your work/social schedule. Either way, it should be a great season.
Reunited At Long Last
The bromance (thanks Brody Jenner for the term) that may be considered the ultimate in the NBA, has been reunited. Dwyane Wade, of the Chicago Bulls, signed a one-year contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers, bringing him to a new team but back together with Lebron James. The duo built an empire down in Miami, winning back to back championships in 2012 and 2013 and making it to the finals four years in a row. In the midst of crafting an all-star team, they forged an all-star friendship. Wade’s wife, actress Gabrielle Union, recognizes brotherly love when she sees it, acknowledging that ‘Bron probably knows more about her husband than she does, a statement that neither basketball player refutes. Even when on separate teams, the past two years, we saw continued dinner dates, joint workouts and even friendly wagers. Who could forget when LeBron sported a full Chicago Cubs uniform after the Cleveland Indians (‘Bron’s team) lost to the Chicago Cubs (Wade’s team) in last year’s World Series. Do the Cleveland Cavaliers now have the team to beat?
The Faces and Facts
Rick Pitino (College Basketball): A Hall-of-Fame men’s basketball coach for Louisville caught up in a recent FBI investigation into fraud and corruption within the NCAA. It’s come to light that certain sponsors, like Adidas, have been paying high school athletes to attend certain universities (such as Louisville) where their coaches (such as Pitino) were then paid to convince those players to sign contracts with said sponsors, creating a continuous circle of bribery, none of which is legal. While many more schools and coaches have been impacted by the investigation Pitino is taking center stage.
Aaron Judge (Baseball): In his first season with the MLB, playing for the New York Yankees, Judge set the rookie single season home run record, having hit 50 (and now 51) home runs, passing Mark McGwire’s 49 set back in 1987. Only 27 players in history have passed 50 home runs (McGwire’s done it 4 times), let alone in their debut season. All Rise indeed!
Giancarlo Stanton (Baseball): Another big hitter and players to reach 50 home runs in a season. Yet this year he is making a run for 60, a feat only 5 players have done previously. With two games to go, he currently stands at 59 homers (The Marlins play tonight at 7:10 so his tally may shortly increase). Stanton plays for the Florida Marlins. You may notice he wears a helmet with extra face protection. This precaution is due to an errant pitch that hit (and severely damaged) his face back in 2014. Thank goodness for some top notch reconstructive surgery because he’s still as handsome as ever.
Pittsburgh Steelers v Baltimore Ravens: Another one of the NFL’s biggest rivalries, with some recent bad blood. These two teams met in last year’s AFC North Championship game, to decide who went to the playoffs and whose season was over. Antonio Brown, one of the league’s best receivers, stretched over the goal line in the final seconds to give the Steelers 31-27 victory and a 3rd straight playoff appearance. ‘Twas a very merry Christmas for the Steelers and now the Ravens are out for revenge.
Minnesota Twins v. New York Yankees Wild Card Game (most likely matchup with a few games left): Added in 2011, the Wild Card Game is a one-game playoff, the winner going on to the next round, where it becomes best of 5, and the loser going home, season over. After losing 103 games (out of 161) last year, the Twins are excited to simply be in the postseason. However, if history is any indication, their luck may be running out. These two teams seem to ALWAYS meet in the first round of the playoffs, with the Yankees frequently coming out on top. Tune in Tuesday, October 3rd at 8pm EST to see if the Twins can make some magic.
The Social Hour
If you are fortunate enough to attend a sporting event, or generous enough to give tickets as a gift, it’s crucial to know not only what to wear but what to eat in order to make the most of your experience.
Food: It all depends on whether you’re striving to eat healthily or not. If you’re on your best behavior, thankfully stadiums are starting to provide more options, ranging from smoothies to salads. It also isn’t unheard of to bring your own snacks, perhaps lower calorie popcorn or healthier nuts, like almonds. That way you’ll save yourself not only the guilty feelings but also some money. If calorie counting isn’t your jam, the choices are innumerable. Hot dogs (in 2015 it was estimated that 18.5 million would be consumed during the MLB season alone) are a stadium must. You also can’t pass up nachos, with all the fixings. Not only is it easy to share, it also might make headlines, as was the case when Addison Russell knocked a tray of nachos out of a fan’s hands when diving for a ball.
Outfit: Not everyone wants to shell out $100 for an official team jersey. But that doesn’t mean you can’t add accents to show your support. Find a solid sweatshirt or sweater that matches the team’s color schema. Fall is also synonymous with flannel, so see if you can find one that coordinates well with the home jersey. And let’s not forget the possibilities that makeup and nail polish produce. Clearly no one informed Carson Palmer, the quarterback of the Arizona Cardinals, of appropriate game day clothing, as he was seen sporting a less-than-conventional outfit before Monday night’s game. Apparently he lost last week’s Quarterback Bucket Challenge (where players try to throw a football into a garbage can). With Halloween right around the corner, you too could rock the unicorn look. Stay tuned for an entire Social Hour dedicated to sports-themed costume ideas, both individual and group based.