Training camps have begun for the World Cup of Hockey. So many questions.
Right off the top, there is "why are we playing this?"
Is it to stem the galaxy-wide divide between the presenting of the Stanley Cup and the opening of NHL training camps? You know, the one that stretches for an interminable twelve weeks? If that's the case, please just get to the point where the Stanley Cup Final is being played while all the other teams that didn't get there begin their training camps. So that hockey season never ends and The Cup is being handed out every nine months. Just keep 'er rollin'.
There are other "whys," too. The jerseys to be worn by most every team are a bit of a "why?" My personal belief is that organizers wanted uniforms so unflattering that fans would actually demand that corporate branding be added to them to make them more attractive. "Please! Cover it with muffler shop logos!" Genius plan, Gary. Genius plan.
The trophy to be awarded is its own special version of "why?" Apparently, it will be the same thing awarded back when the World Cup was last played, just with some modifications or something. NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly was quoted, last spring, as saying it will be "kind of a variation" on the spiffy head-scratcher that the likes of Mario Lemieux got to hoist back in 2004. The one that absolutely looks like a wastepaper basket from the set of one of the Star Trek re-boots, or one-of-a-kind receptacle that Kanye West had commissioned so that he could always have a place to collect his urine for safekeeping while he's away from home.
The Why Cup of Hockey. You know we can just watch football and baseball until NHL season begins, right? We were good, thanks.
THE LITTLE THINGS
Someone in New Brunswick carved a Jose Bautista portrait into their cornfield. I've heard people say, metaphorically, "you could get lost in Jose Bautista's beard." Now, you can do it literally. Wondering, has anyone ever done a cornfield portrait of Ty Cobb?
Tennis player Marcos Baghdatis was charged with a code violation at the U.S. Open when he used his cell phone during a break in his loss to Gael Monfils. He says he was texting his wife. I think he was googling "Gael Monfils weaknesses," though.
Team Europe is looking for some kind of lyrics-free anthem to play at the World Cup of Hockey. Since they are represented by players from eight different countries, they're looking for something they can all embrace. Don't know why they don't just opt for "Final Countdown," by you know... Europe. It does have lyrics but also long stretches of instrumentalness. Other suggestions: "Classical Gas." "Popcorn." "Love Theme From St. Elmo's Fire." Screw it and go with "The Rockford Files." You know you can't do better.
Colin Kaepernick jersey sales have skyrocketed in the last week, according to the San Francisco 49ers. I'll reserve judgment on what that means until I see what lighter fluid sales totals are doing over the same period.
Some of the players are complaining at the U.S. Open.
That beautiful new roof over Arthur Ashe Stadium, so fondly serenaded by the one and only Phil Collins during a ceremony on opening night, is causing some problems.
Yes, it provides some daytime shade as even when it is open, it's not completely open, with support overhangs ringing the entire building. Yes, it means organizers can keep a decent schedule together because they can close the thing and lock out the rain.
However, the overhang, apparently, keeps noise in. As you would expect. When the place is half full, the noise from the stands is greater than ever and when it is at capacity - some 23,700 - the constant buzz from chatting spectators is palpable.
That's a problem for some of the players, who are used to library-like conditions at some of their matches, as paying patrons are expected to provide them with the quiet reverence of a Sunday mass. They find it distracting. They find it harder to hear the ball coming off their opponent's racquet.
Time for tennis to drop a little of the formality during matches, anyway. Players can just get used to it. At least at the U.S. Open and it would be good if they did that beyond Flushing Meadows too.
I've heard the chair umpire shushing the crowd at Arthur Ashe on a number of occasions during the first week of competition and while that is expected and necessary if yokels are yelling out as a player is getting ready to serve or just generally heckling someone, it shouldn't be happening when spectators are merely talking among themselves. You know, the way they do at pretty well every other sporting event.
Check the prices at Ashe for any session and you'll see upper bowl prices that reach $270.00 in the corners. Upper bowl. Trickle down into the lower bowl and you'll see people like Kevin Spacey in seats that run you about three thousand bucks. I don't know about you but I am not in the mood to be shushed if I'm in either of these seats, just having a casual conversation with the folks around me. Keep shushing me like that and I'm bound to eventually say "thanks, I'll save my money and watch at home."
It's nice that tennis still demands a certain amount of decorum at its matches; let's keep some of that. But when you're treating the paying customers like they're naughty, fidgety children at a funeral service, it's time for you to change, not them.
You built a 23,000 seat stadium and then enclosed it. There's gonna be noise, so let the players get used to it. And let the paying customers have a reasonable amount of fun.