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High 5 Headlines! Rose Wilts, Worries for Winston, and Puppy Snuggles Cost Me the BEST NFL GAME EVER!

chester

Football, or fuzzy kisses? Chester is the clear winner, no OT.

1) It is a testament to the snuggliness of my dog (and maybe some wine) that I fell asleep with him on the couch last night and missed the end of an incredible NFL comeback. Denver visited Boston and brought along many storylines: two of the best quarterbacks, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady squaring off again; Denver receiver Wes Welker returning to play his former Patriots for the first time, and coming off a concussion last week; and temperatures colder than polar bear poop. Denver led 24-0 at the half, but Tom Brady returned reborn in the second,  completing more than 80 percent of his passes to erase the deficit–that Manning shredded with one last touchdown, sending the game into OT. Boston won on a field goal 34-31. Brady inked his 38th career game with 3+ TD passes and no interceptions, the second-most all-time to–guess who–Peyton Manning (42).

2) By the way, the Patriots’ Bill Belichick isn’t the only coach in the family. His daughter Amanda, a Wesleyan University grad, is the head women’s lacrosse coach at Wesleyan, where Dad himself played lacrosse in the early 70s. Both Belichicks were captains of their teams as seniors.

3) That slapping sound you are hearing is Chicago NBA fans’ collective foreheads this week as Bulls star (aka Michael Jordan 2.0) Derrick Rose is once again out for the season, requiring surgery on a torn meniscus in his right knee. He missed last season after tearing the ACL in his left knee. Rose has been Rookie of the Year, Most Valuable Player, and an NBA All-Star, so his frustration must be only slightly worse than Adidas, who just launched his new shoe collection and “The Return of D Rose” campaign. (Or the frustration of Memphians like me, who had our national-runner-up 2008 season erased by the NCAA over allegations that Rose had someone else take his SATs for him. Sigh.) But Rose is only 25, having turned pro after just one year of college play (otherwise snarkily known as a “one and done”). Steve Nash (39, Lakers) and Manu Ginobli (36, San Antonio Spurs) are just a couple of superstar starters playing for super teams well into their 30s. And Chicago still has their NHL champion Blackhawks, currently among the top of the Western Conference.

4) The slapping sound you are still hearing is me. My forehead. Because it just couldn’t be a football season without a sexual assault case. Oh wait, my bad. Just before the season, a group of Vanderbilt players were indicted on counts of aggravated rape and sexual battery against a victim in a dorm room. (The case is ongoing and getting uglier). Now, Florida State quarterback and Heisman Trophy hopeful Jameis Winston is at the center of a potential rape charge stemming from an encounter in December 2012. Details are still unclear, but we at least know the following: 1, The victim reported the event a year ago and asserts it was not consensual. 2, The case was only referred to the Florida State Attorney General two weeks ago. 3, There is a DNA evidence match confirmed. 4, Some affidavits support Winston; others support the alleged victim. And 5, Winston is a redshirt freshman leading the Seminoles to their first potential championship since 1999. Whatever the outcome, we can hope whoever is telling the truth will see justice, and that the athletes of a storied program won’t see their hard work overshadowed by scandal. But I have to wonder if either will happen.

5) OK, let’s end on a funny note. If you missed it last weekend (and I did because I haven’t found “Saturday Night Live” reliably funny since 1982. Yeah, I said it. Except for episodes with Justin Timberlake, also from Memphis. Naturally.), SNL really did come through with a parody of “The Red Zone” channel. Each Sunday, Red Zone allows fans to see any potential NFL scoring play–when the ball is within 20 yards of the goal line, aka “the red zone.” (I must admit I do have this channel.) But if you’re not into sports, you now have “The Rosé Zone“–a women’s channel with all the best (worst?) reality TV moments without the charity benefits and fashion shows. As one “viewer” puts it, “B*tches be crazy. But not all the time. Sometimes b*tches just be standin’ around and thinkin’.” <cut to Kim Kardashian staring vacantly>. “And mama ain’t about that.” Hilarious.

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Hockey Help for Southerners and Other Ice-Uninformed

I have a confession to make. I love sports, but hockey makes me feel like a kitten chasing a laser pointer. I’m from the South, y’all: ice is for popsicles, not pucks.

But I respect the game immensely. Goalies dropping into splits Prince would admire. Giant men skating 30 miles an hour, or what’s harder – stopping. Hockey skates don’t have toe picks like figure skates do. Unless you can turn and dig in at a sudden 90 degrees, you will, like myself, spin yourself into a centrifugal seizure.

Couples skate, anyone?  (Patrick Sharp)

Couples skate, anyone? (Patrick Sharp)

In other words, hockey is the only sport that makes me feel like…a girl.

On the other hand, did I mention the giant men? Hockey orthodontics have improved quite a bit since “Slapshot” (one of my Best Romantic Sports Movies), ladies, I suggest you pay attention. May I present Exhibit A, Patrick Sharp, a captain for the Chicago Blackhawks who face the Boston Bruins tonight in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup?

For other tips on tonight’s game, I turned to Washington DC’s First Family of Hockey, and my favorite Washington Capitals season seatmates, the Labres: Yvon, former Caps captain and defensive legend whose jersey graces the Verizon Center rafters, and his son Cory, hockey genius and awesome sports dad to girls and boys.

Watch on a large flatscreen, in HD. I myself only dumped my analog box a few months ago, so if you don’t have one, go to a local bar. You see more of the ice, and the puck and jersey numbers are sharper. With a little practice, you can see plays develop and anticipate what will happen next. But…

Don’t sit too close. If you’re not used to hockey, watching the close-ups make it hard to follow.

I like to pick one type of play or rule and watch for it. We all see goals, but when you recognize an assist, a penalty, or a power play, it builds your confidence and you can apply that knowledge to more complex action.

Go skating. OK it may be too late for tonight’s game, but there could be a Game 7. You are more likely to appreciate a sport’s difficulty if you try it at the local rink, diamond, or just in the backyard with the kids.

Watch with someone who (like my boyfriend) plays the game and (NOT like my boyfriend) can calmly explain things even when his beloved Blackhawks are on the ropes, and I tell him don’t give up, and he stomps off frustrated, and they wind up winning (again) in overtime anyway, and I just laugh and laugh and laugh…

Pick a player to focus on, like Sharp or “Patrick Kane, USA born, and he is on fire,” says Cory. “Such fast, great hands and he controls the game–when he has the puck, they can’t catch him or hit him.” For the Bruins, center Patrice Bergeron is their best guy – if he’s healthy enough to play tonight.

Above all, have fun (and for my fellow Southerners – two months to FOOTBALL!)

“High Five”: A Jockey’s Triumph, Rainbow Gorillas, Goodbye to a Golf Great

I know I say this a lot, but the reason I write this meager little sports offering isn’t home runs and hockey goals, but the stories that stay with you, get you thinking. Or are just uber-cool. Here are five of the best headlines (out of dozens), and some other notes to know for the upcoming week:

1. Higher Power at the Preakness
Kentucky Derby winner “Orb” didn’t take the Preakness, but the real story Saturday was jockey Gary Stevens. Already a Hall-of-Famer, now-fifty-year-old Stevens retired in 2005 with debilitating knee pain and became a TV commentator. But he returned to the track in January this year after struggling with alcohol, depression, and a sense of loss that only racing could fill. Undergoing an intense physical and psychological rehabilitation program last year, he shed 25 pounds and embraced total sobriety. Riding Oxbow, Stevens led wire to wire for the win.

"Rudy" or "Rrrrow"? Either way, he will be missed.

“Rudy” or “Rrrrow!”? Either way, he will be missed.

2. Venturi Highway to Heaven
I admit I had never heard of Ken Venturi when it was announced the golfer had died of pneumonia complications at age 82. Great people die every day, and 82 is a pretty solid life.

But Venturi was the “Rudy” of golf (though quite a handsome devil). He overcame a severe stutter, suffered repeated just-this-close losses in big tournaments, struggled with lasting injuries from a car crash, and endured a years-long slump that would have most people typing up new resumes. Then in 1964, in 100-degree heat and with life-threatening dehydration, Venturi finally won his first major title at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md., nearly collapsing in tears of joy and exhaustion. He became a longtime CBS golf analyst and member of the World Golf Hall of Fame.

PS–2013’s “Congressional” as most call it (officially the “AT&T National,” but I won’t say that until AT&T’s 4G isn’t full of it) with Tiger Woods and his frenemy Sergio Garcia starts June 27.  And on a lighter note, take a look at the video of Belgian golfer Nicolas Colsaerts at the weekend’s Volvo World Match Play, in which his ball lands in, let’s just say, a place that caused some “toilet humor.”

3. Baylor Stars Speak out on Gay Rights…and Wedding Gifts
After years of the speculation that—come on, people, we all do (out loud or in our own minds) about people with certain affectations–Baylor basketball phenom Brittney Griner has publicly confirmed she is a lesbian. Now an alum of the private Baptist school, the Phoenix Mercury WNBA rookie is openly discussing what she feels is the rainbow gorilla in the room of women’s college basketball—don’t ask, don’t tell, just rebound. She claims coaches and other advisors told her not to discuss her sexuality because it would hurt Baylor’s recruiting. More to come in the next ESPN the Magazine.   

Meanwhile, Baylor-star-turned-Redskins-QB Robert Griffin III is getting married July 6, and naturally some fans located his gift registry on Bed, Bath & Beyond. But when the 2013 Rookie of the Year Tweeted a picture of thanks—him standing in front of a mountain of opened boxes—detractors spoke then and did not hold their peace. Obviously a star athlete hardly needs help from the public to furnish a 10,000-square-foot house, so demands for him to return or donate the gifts to charity flooded his phone (as well as jokes—“put a better defense on the registry” said one Skins fan). Whatever he does, I personally want to thank him, at least, for his store choice. As a multi-platinum bridesmaid who once attended a bride registered at Tiffany, a $30 Lazy Susan option is always appreciated.

4. Jayhawks Hatch Fledgling High School Star
Whenever you doubt your kids will emulate you, take heart in this one. The #1 high school basketball recruit, Andrew Wiggins, announced last week he will attend Kansas. The 6-8 small forward (here I demonstrate “small forward” with awkward family photos) can play multiple positions and is as good a defender as offensive player. His father is former NBA player Michael Wiggins, and his mom is Canadian Olympic sprinter Marita Payne-Wiggins. They gave him great athletic genes, but they also ensure he maintains his 3.2 GPA at West Virginia’s Huntington Prep.

But, Wiggins is already a heavy favorite for the 2014 NBA Draft. Like, next year. Which is something to discuss with your kids as this year’s draft starts tomorrow. Should a player be allowed what they call a “One and Done?”—one year of college, then on to the pros? What is the proper balance between money and education? How do you prepare for a future if your original dream fails? Lebron James is doing just fine, and he didn’t go to college at all. But far more professional athletes find that dreams of fame and money lead to bankruptcy, addiction, and worse. Speaking of Lebron…

5. Playoffs Continue on Court, Ice
The Memphis Grizzlies/San Antonio Spurs and the Indiana Pacers/Miami Heat NBA matchups are now underway. Winners of the two series will meet for the finals beginning June 6. Sadly, my hometown Grizzlies (key names: Pau Gasol, Zach Randolph) were declawed Sunday 105-83 (Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, once married to “Desperate Housewives’” Eva Longoria), but the teams meet again in the best-of-seven series on Tuesday. The Pacers (Roy Hibbert) will meet Lebron’s Miami Heat for Game 1 on Wednesday.

In hockey, the Chicago Blackhawks (Patrick Sharp – or as I call him, “Why Wasn’t HE Cast Cast as the New Superman?”) and the Detroit Red Wings (Henrik Zetterberg) series continues this week, along with:

  • Boston Bruins (David Krejci) vs. New York Rangers (Derick Brassard)
  • Current champions L.A. Kings (Mike Richards – also Hollywood worthy) vs. San Jose Sharks (Logan Couture)
  • Pittsburgh Penguins (Evgeni Malkin) vs. Ottawa Senators (Sergei Gonchar)

Now go forth into this good week and conquer, ladies, knowing that your kids look to you, that no one can tell you how to live your life, and that you can conquer anything if you just Don’t. Give. Up.

Like Winning? LIKE our New Facebook Fan Page!!!

Felicia sporting hometown rally spirit.

Felicia sporting hometown rally spirit.

Welcome, new Facebook fans! (And if you are not yet, please LIKE our new fan page!) If you are visiting from Facebook, then the answer to my lovely designer Felicia’s trivia question is as follows:

 A “rally cap” is a cap worn inside-out or backwards (all sorts of goofy ways, really) to “rally” a losing baseball (usually) team to a win late in the game.  (A Missouri gal, Felicia proudly models that of the 2011 World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals).There are many theories as to the rally cap’s origin, but the most popular is from the 1986 World Series between the Red Sox and the New York Mets, who were trailing in Game 6.As some Mets players tinkered with their caps, Boston first baseman Bill Buckner bungled an easy play, essentially allowing the Mets to win the game and the championship.

Now, ladies, you really, REALLY need to know this one: Buckner’s play (around 1:28 in this clip) is widely considered the worst baseball blunder of all time, despite his otherwise solid 21-year career. He was taunted and even received death threats from fans desperate for a title since losing Babe Ruth to the Yankees in 1919. But in 2008, Buckner returned to Fenway Park for, at last, Boston’s World Series ceremonies and was welcomed with a lengthy standing ovation.

Meanwhile, Charlie Sheen purchased the “Buckner Ball” at a 1992 auction for $93,000. (Charlie himself had pro baseball aspirations–see my entry on Romantic Sports Movies for more….)

Did I mention to LIKE US??? Thank you!!!

Put Down the “Big-Un’s,” Al Bundy! (or, Why It’s an Awesome Chicago Sports Week)

Wins, and all that jazz. (Jeff Gunn)

Wins, and all that jazz. (Jeff Gunn)

OK ladies, I know stats may seem dull, but (as I explain here), keeping up with the major ones can go a long way in making sports more fun. And Chicago is having fun right now.

Unless you were like me last night, watching the Washington Capitals’ Eric Fehr score the winning overtime goal after a jaw-dropping, let’s just leave early to beat the crowds comeback (0-3 to 4-3) against the Boston Bruins, you might have noticed a few other astonishing accomplishments by the Chicago Blackhawks. In defeating Minnesota, they nailed a 10-game, franchise-record win streak and extended their streak of “points” to 23 this season, and 29 straight since the 2011-12 season. (Two points are awarded, for example, for a team win.)

(Ladies, an interesting little fact is the Blackhawks’ 23 points are the same numeral as Michael Jordan’s famous jersey. Bet your husband didn’t catch that. See? Kinda cool.)

Speaking of Jordan:

Things were looking pretty good for point guard Derrick Rose when he was drafted number-one by the Chicago Bulls after one season at the University of Memphis. He got to return to his hometown and earned Rookie of the Year followed by MVP the next season, the youngest ever. Then came the ACL tear that has kept him benched for 10 months now.

But tonight, maybe, just maybe, the team Michael Jordan built might just get to see its phenom–oft-compared to Sir Michael himself–return to the court against the San Antonio Spurs. Coach Tom Thibodeau is calling Rose “day-to-day,” but he has reportedly been going full-contact at practices.

Unfortunately the Bulls will meet the NBA’s top team (47-14) at San Antonio. But at least the weather will be a little better–and the Spurs are currently missing their own injured point guard Tony Parker (sound familiar? He’s the former spouse of “Desperate Housewives” star Eva Longoria–now, ironically, the new host of NBC’s new show, “Ready for Love.”)

Maybe Al Bundy will get to strike his famous “Polk High” touchdown stance once again.