Monday, March 12, 2012

Split Sunday



Yesterday was a split day for yours truly. The Devils won, the Red Bulls lost, and the Yankees split their squads and got one win and one loss.

The Major League Soccer season opened on Saturday night, and the New York Red Bulls started yesterday afternoon, away to FC Dallas (formerly the Dallas Burn), and quickly fell behind, 1-0. They allowed a 2nd goal before a comeback pulled back only 1, losing 2-1. According to the guys following the game on Twitter (yes, I'm on Twitter, but under my real name, not "Uncle Mike"), the Red Bulls never looked like winning this game.

Not good. And the Yanks' spring training split, well, as the late, great (and sometimes grating) manager Billy Martin would have said, "It's an exhibition game, George, it doesn't mean anything!"

Besides, I had bigger fish to fry: The Filth.

That's short for the Philadelphia Flyers -- not to be confused with The Scum, a.k.a. the New York Rangers.

Speaking of whom, it was also a split day for Madison Square Garden. A day after the Big East Conference Tournament Final, the Knicks hosted the Philadelphia 76ers. And got beat badly. Perhaps not on the scoreboard, 106-94 -- but the Sixers have been terrible the last few years, and Knick fans were talking big, with Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire having been joined by Jeremy Lin. Losing to the current Sixers at home, for Knick fans, was cruel and Lin-usual punishment.

The Garden grounds crew had just 4 hours to convert The World's Most Famous Arena from basketball to hockey, and not just any hockey, but what English soccer fans would call a "derby": Rangers vs. Islanders. The home fans were a lot happier about this one: The Isles blew leads of 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2, as the Rangers won with a Marian Gaborik goal with 10 seconds left in overtime.

*

Meanwhile, with financial and scheduling conflicts momentarily out of the way, I finally made it to my first NHL game of the season, with my mother having gotten a great ticket deal in the mail. We sat in Section 122, with a new fan club, "The Diablos," going nuts, but also with a lot of Flyer fans around us.

Fortunately, the ones sitting next to us were older and mostly calm, and, for the most part, everybody behaved themselves.

The game was a sloppy one. The first period was awful, and despite good saves by both Martin Brodeur and Flyer goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, neither side looked like they deserved to win. Then, in the last minute of the period, Braydon Coburn committed a typical (or at least old-school) Flyers penalty, slashing. Patrik Elias scored a few seconds later, and the first period ended One-Nil to the Jersey Boys.

The second period wasn't much better. Both teams showed a little more life, but it ended still 1-0. Just 16 seconds into the third period, Flyer sniper Claude Giroux tallied, and the game was tied.

My mother thought her infamous jinx, dating back to the early Sixties when her high school's football team only won when she didn't go to the games, was back. She offered to head to the bathroom, or to at least cover her eyes so she couldn't see the Devils.

She needn't have worried. The Flyer defense collapsed, and the Devils took advantage. Anton Volchenkov, the big Muscovite defenseman, gave the Devils the lead at 2:45. Then he and Maxime Talbot got into it, leading to offsetting penalties and a 4-on-4, and Ilya Kovalchuk scored his 30th goal of the season. Captain Zach Parise put the icing on the cake with his 28th with about 6 minutes to go.

Final score, Devils 4, Flyers 1.

So I was focused on 4 games: 2 by the Yankees (only possible in spring training), 1 by the Devils, 1 by the Red Bulls. And won 2 of them.

Good thing 1 was the one I actually paid to see!

*

Hours until Arsenal play again: 6, home to Newcastle United.

Days until the Devils play another local rival: 1, tomorrow night, the 2nd half of a home-and-home against the Flyers, at the Wachovia Center in Philly. The next game against The Scum is next Monday night, at The Garden. The next game against the New York Islanders is Tuesday night, April 3, at the Prudential Center.

Days until the Red Bulls play again: 5, this Saturday night, at Real Salt Lake.

Days until the Red Bulls' home opener: 13, on Sunday afternoon, March 25, at Red Bull Arena, against the Denver-area-based Colorado Rapids. Under 2 weeks.

Days until the Yankees' next Opening Day: 25, on Friday afternoon, April 6, at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg against the Tampa Bay Rays. Under 4 weeks.

Days until the Yankees' home opener: 32, on Friday afternoon, April 13, against the Whatever They're Calling Themselves This Year Angels of Anaheim. Just over 1 month.

Days until the next Yankees-Red Sox series begins: 39, on Friday night, April 20, at Fenway Park in Boston.

Days until the Red Bulls next play a "derby": 40, on Saturday night, April 21, vs. DC United at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium in Washington. They next play the New England Revolution the following Saturday afternoon at Red Bull Arena, and the Philadelphia Union on Sunday afternoon, May 13, at PPL Park in Chester, Pennsylvania.

Days until the last Nets game in New Jersey: 42, on Monday night, April 23, against the Philadelphia 76ers, at the Prudential Center. Just 6 weeks before New Jersey no longer has an NBA team.

Days until the U.S. National Soccer Team plays again: 75, Saturday night, May 26, against Scotland, at EverBank Field in Jacksonville -- formerly known as Jacksonville Municipal Stadium and Alltel Field, home of the NFL's Jaguars. Under 11 weeks. Their last game was their first victory ever over Italy, 1-0 on a Clint Dempsey goal, in Genoa.

Days until the 2012 Olympics begin in London: 137 (July 27). A little over 4 months.

Days until the next North London Derby: Unknown, as both contests have been played already (2-1 to The Scum at White Hart Lane, 5-2 to The Arsenal at New Highbury). The Premier League announces its schedule for the upcoming season on the 2nd Friday in June, and the new season always starts on the 2nd Saturday in August -- meaning that the next Arsenal-Tottenham match can't be any earlier than August 11, 152 days (5 months) from now.

Days until Rutgers plays football again: 173, on Saturday September 1, at the Superdome in New Orleans against Tulane University. Not exactly a rivalry game, although Tulane was founded by a Princeton man. And thus will begin the Kyle Flood Era. Good luck...

Days until East Brunswick High School plays football again: 186, on Friday, September 14, opponent and location to be determined. About 6 months.

Days until the 2012 President election: 239, on Tuesday, November 6. Register to vote... and on November 6, vote!

Days until the next East Brunswick-Old Bridge Thanksgiving clash: 255.

Days until Alex Rodriguez collects his 3,000th career hit: 495 (estimated around July 20, 2013). About 16 months.

Days until Super Bowl XLVIII at the Meadowlands: 692 (February 2, 2014). Under 23 months.

Days until Alex Rodriguez hits his 700th career home run: 765 (estimated).

Days until Alex Rodriguez hits his 756th career home run to surpass all-time leader Hank Aaron: 1,600 (estimated).

Days until Alex Rodriguez hits his 763rd career home run to become as close to a "real" all-time leader as we are likely to have: 1,634 (estimated -- estimating 28 home runs a year, he should get it late in the 2016 season, maybe around September 1, at age 41).

2 comments:

nutballgazette said...

I remember way back in the eraly 70s they would play Basketball and Hockey the same day. But it would take about 6 hours to convert so the Hockey Game would start at about 9:30 PM which I loved because I listened to all the games back then. Marv Albert would do both games

Uncle Mike said...

Do you also remember how Channel 9 was the original "MSG Network," broadcasting the Mets live, and the Knicks, Nets, Rangers and Islanders (no Devils yet) on tape-delay at 11:30 PM?

I still remember an intro saying, "Live, from the Checkerdome in St. Louis, Missouri," as the Rangers prepared to play the Blues. Ralston Purina owned the Blues at the time, so, in connection with their "Checkerboard Square" logo, the St. Louis Arena (opened 1929, demolished 1999) was named the Checkerdome for a few years. Calling it a Dome, rather than an Arena or a Coliseum (they didn't usually call them "Centers" in those days) led me to think it held a lot more than its official capacity of 17,188.

I also remember a Knick broadcast from that era, not who they were playing or where, but because of the cartoon black hand twirling a ball on its fingertip, and also that it was the first time I'd ever heard an TV show announced as being sponsored by more than two companies. I think it was five.