Typically, July is a very boring sports month – all around. The NHL & NBA have finished their finals, it’s the middle of the MLB season, NFL & college sports haven’t started …
However, living across the country from your favorite baseball team makes any time they’re in town fairly exciting (especially if you, like me, don’t have the MLB package). I love being able to see the Yankees in HD and I’m lucky enough that they’re on ESPN and Fox fairly often, but when they’re in Anaheim (as they were this weekend), it’s great to see them in person. Granted, they often lose, since Anaheim is the only team with a winning record against the Yankees in the last 13 or so years, but it’s still good to see them play. In their first two games this weekend, the Yankees scored 14 runs against the Angels. Very good, actually… except for the fact that the Angels scored that many on Saturday alone and 24 on Friday and Saturday. Today’s game was a lot closer though the Angels still won. The Yankees had been one of the hottest teams in baseball before meeting up with the Angels, so hopefully they’ll get back to that after the All-Star break.
This weekend was also the LA Kings’ development camp for their young players who haven’t made it into the NHL yet. It’s always good to see the players who’ve been chosen. I don’t follow that much minor league hockey, so I never know if I agree or disagree with the rankings before the draft or have much of an opinion on how various teams did in the draft. The development camp puts it into perspective a bit, since you can see the players in person and judge them for yourself.
It was nice to see the large turnout today at the development camp in El Segundo. Everyone says it was about as crowded Friday and Saturday, too. Since Friday was during a work day and Friday and Saturday had great weather and (as always in southern California) plenty of options for fans to spend their time, it’s great to see how many of them chose to spend time inside to get a glimpse of the Kings’ future. Hockey has the shortest off season, but it can still seem to drag at times. Development camp is definitely a way to get a good hockey fix in person.
Hockey Fest in the end of August at LA Live is really the next major event for hockey fans in southern California. The more I hear about Hockey Fest, the more interesting it sounds. I think it’s something all southern California hockey fans will be able to enjoy (yes, even the Ducks fans). Of course, southern CA hockey fans who haven’t visited the Science of Hockey exhibit at the Discovery Science Center should check that out to kill the time in the off season.
To read more of my thoughts on the NHL and other sports, check out Press Box Perspective.
Tags: development camp, Ducks, ESPN, fans, Fox, Hockey Fest, Kings, MLB, NHL, Science of Hockey, Yankees
The NHL couldn’t have scripted last night’s game with Crosby vs. Ovechkin better (though I’d bet they would have picked Pittsburgh to win, since they want the series to go to 7 games). In spite of the fact that Malkin won the NHL scoring title this year and until last night had more points than Sid in the playoffs, all the buzz has been about Sidney Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin. Alexander Semin had more points than Alex Ovechkin until last night, too. Now, advertising Sid vs. Alex seems to make sense. Crosby stands alone in 2nd place (behind Ryan Getzlaf and no one is going to talk about him – he’s from a southern California team that people still seem to think is lucky for having beaten the Sharks). Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin are tied for 3rd with 11 points, though Malkin’s 1.38 points per game beats Ovechkin’s 1.22. At least now they’re talking about the top scoring player on each team, which they weren’t before last night’s hat tricks.
Who would have ever guessed that Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin would both get their first playoff hat tricks in the same game? The league really couldn’t have planned it better unless it was in game 7 of the conference finals. That would be a bit better. Otherwise, it was perfect. The two players the NHL cares to market both got their first playoff hat tricks in the same game. Alex’s third goal in his hat trick was the game winning goal. It really was perfect.
The only problem is that the NHL has no clue how to market itself. Drive around and look at the billboards in any major city and you’ll see ads for the MLB, NBA, NFL – I’ve even seen one for tennis. I’ve never seen a billboard with NHL stars telling me I should watch the NHL. Watch the NHL on NBC and you’ll see ads (I stopped fast forwarding to watch it, since it looked interesting) for watching poker. They even have a hockey themed ad for poker explaining how the games are similar and why those watching the NHL game should stay tuned and watch the poker tournament that follows. Conversely, if you watch the poker tournament or baseball or anything other than the NHL on any channel other than Versus, you’ll never see the NHL playoff ads. The NHL could really use a better marketing director.
Perhaps the NHL will prove me wrong this time, but I’d be completely stunned. They don’t seem to realize that advertising during a hockey game for a hockey game is pretty pointless. I’m already watching. Heck, knowing what channel Versus is on my DVR is a huge step – it’s something your average person on the street wouldn’t know. Ask them where they find ESPN, though, and I’d bet you get a much higher percentage of correct answers and 0% of the people going “What’s that?” Somehow, I think if you polled people on a street corner asking where they can find Versus on their cable or satellite, you’d get a lot of puzzled looks and people saying they’re not sure if they get that channel – and they might not. Versus is a part of my sports package, though ESPN & ESPN2 are both standard. Those of us who are already watching Versus don’t need to be convinced. We watched Sid and Alex both get their first playoff hat tricks last night, but non-hockey fans could have been won over last night. A lot of hockey fans who don’t normally watch other team’s games got sucked into the Ducks/Red Wings game Sunday, since it was exciting. A game going into 3OT where there is one winner and one loser (and no point for losing in overtime) is exciting – especially when it’s a fast-paced game like hockey. Since that game was on NBC, perhaps a few people who don’t normally watch hockey did stumble upon it and get sucked into the action, but without a better marketing strategy I don’t see how the NHL can improve their ratings.
Of course, some cities are better at advertising than others. This may be where some of the people saying that southern California shouldn’t have NHL teams get the support for their argument. In Pittsburgh, during the playoffs, there are banners all over. I drove through Anaheim Saturday night and there was no way anyone could possibly tell that just a few blocks away was the home of the Ducks – in round 2 of the Stanley Cup playoffs. I don’t have experience with the surrounding areas of most teams in the playoffs, but I know that in Pittsburgh stores have signs in their windows and are happy about the Penguins being in the playoffs. That doesn’t happen around here and without the NHL having billboards or any other advertising to let people know, it’s no wonder people only care about the NBA playoffs. If you live in the US and haven’t seen a TNT billboard for the NBA, I’d be pretty surprised. I haven’t watched a playoff NBA game since Rick Fox played for the Lakers, but I know what channel it’s on if someone asked me in random conversation. It just goes to show you that the NBA knows how to advertise. I have a DVR and don’t even watch most games live, but I see ads in magazines and billboards. It would be nice if someday the random person on the street could tell me where you could find the NHL playoffs, just as someone who doesn’t care about the NBA playoffs still knows where to find them.
Tags: Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, Capitals, Ducks, ESPN, Evgen, fans, hat trick, Hockey, MLB, NBA, NBC, NFL, NHL, overtime, Penguins, playoffs, Red Wings, Ryan Getzlaf, Sidney Crosby, TNT, Versus
Jonathan Quick has been performing amazingly well since he was called up from Manchester when Erik Ersberg got injured and seems to have a permanent spot on the Kings’ roster, since they traded Jason LaBarbera to Vancouver. Tonight’s game against the Flyers led Quick to his first NHL overtime and shootout, where he shut out the Flyers. Of course, it was also helpful that the Kings (who haven’t been performing well in the shootout this season) scored two goals in the shootout. Terry Murray’s strategy in the shootout has always been to shoot first in the hopes of scoring and putting pressure on the competition. Unfortunately, it hadn’t been working that way for Murray until O’Sullivan scored leading off the shootout for the Kings. Apparently, when scoring on the first try, Murray’s approach works. Kopitar missed his shooutout attempt and Dustin Brown scored ending the shooutout before the Flyers’ third shooter.
With 31 saves (33 counting the shootout) and a save percentage of 96.9%, Quick earned the first star of the game and is listed as ESPN’s 3rd star of the day. Though Ersberg is healthy now, he remained on the bench due to the great performances Quick has been giving. I’m sure Ersberg will be in goal again for the Kings, since I can’t imagine Terry Murray not giving him another chance after his injury, but long stretches of starts have been common this season for all three of the Kings’ goaltenders.
The Flyers only had 3 power play chances today, but were held without a power play goal. After only scoring one last night, Philadelphia definitely didn’t look like the number 2 power play in the country when visiting southern California this season. The Kings did score a power play goal in one of their 6 chances against the Flyers, which means they had one more power play goal than the Flyers, just like the Ducks last night.
On the bright side for the Flyers, they went into tonight’s game tied in points with the Rangers (though still ahead of them for the Atlantic division lead because of playing fewer games) and came out of it as the sole division leader and third in the eastern conference. The Kings also moved up in the standings (to 12th from 14th in the west and back into 4th in the Pacific.
The Staples Center announced attendance tonight was a sellout of 18,118. It didn’t break any records or include any SRO tickets and there were many empty seats, but most of the empty seats were in the PR section & the suites (sold out for every sporting event in Staples Center). Clearly, the Flyers are a huge draw in southern California.
Tags: Anze Kopitar, Ducks, Dustin Brown, Erik Ersberg, ESPN, Flyers, Hockey, Jason LaBarbera, Jonathan Quick, Kings, NHL, Patrick O'Sullivan, power play, sellout, shootout, Staples Center, Terry Murray
Who thought the last game played in Yankees Stadium would be played in September? I certainly wouldn’t have bet on it. Of course, five years ago I doubt most people would have guessed that Johnny Damon would hit a home run as a Yankee the last time the Yankees played in Yankee Stadium.
I’m very glad that ESPN televised the last Yankee Stadium game in HD so I could enjoy the final game. I also appreciated the extras they included in their broadcast. They scrolled stats through the years of Yankee Stadium on the bottom line and mentioned many interesting facts throughout the show. ESPN also had a lot of special guests Yogi Berra is always a fan favorite, but I like that they included as many of the Yankee greats as possible in their broadcast. There are a lot of things ESPN does (like barely covering hockey) of which I’m not fond. However, I must give them credit for doing a wonderful job with the final game in Yankee Stadium. They even mentioned the New York Cosmos (the soccer team that called Yankee Stadium home). I remember going to Cosmos games when I was little and it’s nice that the Cosmos were mentioned.
The first home run in Yankee Stadium (as most Yankees fans know) was hit by Babe Ruth. The last was hit by Jose Molina. Sure, if it had scripted by someone in Hollywood the final home run would have probably been hit by Derek Jeter (when he had the bases loaded in the bottom of the 6th, probably). It’s great that Jose Molina was back in the lineup and able to have such a special moment on the last night the Yankees played in Yankee Stadium. Derek Jeter was playing injured today and you can’t perfectly plan real life. Although I’m sure Jeter is bummed that he went 0-5 in the last game at Yankee Stadium, I’m also positive he’s glad he played in the game, even though he was injured. How could anyone who told his parents he was going to be a Yankee as when he was young miss playing in the last game in Yankee Stadium when he has that chance? Jeter did get a standing ovation by the crowd when he took the final Yankee at bat in the final game at Yankee Stadium. I’m sure this night wasn’t as he pictured it, but Derek Jeter batting the final at bat by a Yankee in the game and the Yankees winning definitely fit perfectly.
It’s perfect that Andy Pettitte started the final game in Yankee Stadium (he was also credited with the last win) and Mariano Rivera ended it. I’m glad Girardi paid attention to the importance of the final game in the house that Ruth built and made sure the two pitchers who came up through the Yankee farm system pitched in the final game. Frank Sinatra’s version of New York, New York has played for the last time in the original Yankee Stadium and the Yankees wandering around the field waving to their fans as it played a few times was the perfect way to say goodbye to the home of the Yankees. I wish I could have been there for this final game, but I’m glad I got to visit the stadium one last time before it closes the last time I was in the city.
I’m sorry that Jorge Posada couldn’t play in tonight’s game at Yankee Stadium. He’s one of the remaining 4 players on the Yankees who won the 4 World Series in 5 years (ending with the Subway Series in 2000). The other 3 are Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, and Andy Pettitte. It’s good that Posada was there to share in the memories, but I’m sure he would have preferred to be playing in the game.
It’s also too bad that Joe Torre couldn’t be there to share in the last game in Yankee Stadium. His current team, the Dodgers, look like they will be making it into the playoffs this year. I wish he could have been there for the last game in Yankee Stadium, but I’m glad he’s doing well with his new team.
The last time the Yankees missed the playoffs, it was 1994. So much has happened since 1994. I, personally, had two weddings (and the associated divorces), graduated from Penn State, and moved (more times than I care to count now, but three states and 7 cities were involved). It’s amazing what can happen in 14 years. The price of gas in 1994 was around a dollar and California experienced the horrible Northridge earthquake. Hopefully, it will be another 14 years before the Yankees miss the playoffs again and the new stadium opening next year will be a new start for the Yankees in this millennium.
Tags: Andy Pettitte, Baseball, Derek Jeter, ESPN, fans, HD, Joe Torre, Johnny Damon, Jorge Posada, Jose Molina, Mariano Rivera, MLB, playoffs, Yankees