Mmmmm...Fall Break

I'll be posting rather randomly this week while I stay at my parent's house rotating between dentist appointments (all together now...."THANK YOU PEPPER LOUNGE") and family meals.
I will hit you all up this week with a preview of this weekends Notre Dame v. University of Southern California football matchup...and maybe one more column. We shall see.

But, I will leave you with a few sports notes:

-As much as I dislike the sport of football (if the Green Bay Packers folded and ND lost their football program, I would never watch another football game again) the onside kick is the third most exciting play in sports. The top two?

1) Basketball: 20 seconds left to play on the inbound pass...game tied...and you know who's goning to take the big shot...will he take it against heavy presssure, or will he pass it to the open man...and will he knock down that shot? (example: Game 6 of the 1997 NBA Finals. Obviously Jordan is going to take the shot...heavy pressure and he kicks the ball to Steve Kerr in the corner and he fires...The Chicago Bulls have won the 1997 NBA Championship!) In my opinion Jordan's best play. It shows the fact that he made his teammates better (so, so much better) when he was on the court.

2) Baseball: Down by one, runner on third, two outs, bottom of the ninth. All the pressure is on the pitcher; or all the pressure is on the batter. This is the one case in sports where the glass is both half empty and half full. It's all on how you look at it. Either way, it's winner take all. Why baseball is the best sport? It is always, at it lowest element, one on one. Pitcher v. Batter.

Anyhoo...my buddy Josh wrote me from Iraq today and asked me about my thoughts on the NHL lockout. I had honestly not thought twice about hockey in the last few years, but here is what I fired back at him with:

Subject: Hockey...it's really just full contact Curling

Truth be told, I don't think there will be an NHL again. There might be a hockey league named the NHL again, but it won't be the same one that we grew up with.

NASCAR has already replaced it as the country's fourth sport. With a strong US showing in the 2006 World Cup (which I plan on attending in Germany, I hope to see you there as well) and the fact that more and more kids start playing it every year, soccer will easily pass hockey in popularity.

The demise of the NHL is the league's fault. They moved teams from great, historic hockey locations to warm, exotic locations where the last thing anyone wants to do is go to a hockey game (minnesota to pheonix as an example.)

They also expanded well beyond their limits. Columbus, Ohio had a team for christsake! A league with that great of an infrastructure is going to have a hard time generating revnue and turning a profit.

As for the players themselves, they are now back in their respective homelands playing for more appreciative fans and still making a sizeable income. Would you really care about coming back to the States?

The true hockey fans in America don't seem too upset. Sure they miss their team, but there is other hockey to watch. College hockey has one of the best tournaments out of any college sport (The Frozen Four is the most under-rated sporting event in the United States.) And when Minneapolis-St. Paul lost the North Stars, the good people of Minnesota really weren't that upset. They had great youth, High School, and College hockey programs to watch. If you really want it, it's not to hard to get your hockey fix in America.

Sure, they'll be an NHL again...but will people really care? It'll take another Gretzky caliber player (preferably from the US) to get hockey back into mainstream America. It really hasn't been that mainstream in 10 or 15 years, anyway.

So, anway that's my take. I hope it didn't suck. Happy Holidays everyone.

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"I'll be dead in the cold, cold ground before I recognize the state of Missouri."