The NHL has ruined Canada Day!

July 1st. Canada Day. This day is meant to be one of relaxation and mid-day intoxication. But the NHL has screwed us. They have taken a day meant to be one when we tune-out, tune-in to The HIP and find a lake to jump in, to one where making sure we’re near a radio at Noon (or a phone with push notifications) overwhelms any ability to just hang-out.

Listen, I love FA Frenzy, and hearing breaking news about big time player signings that shift the NHLs power structure…on paper anyway. But please pay some respect to the most passionate of all Hockey Fans and move FA Frenzy to July 2nd. That would give Canadians TWO holidays in a row every year.

Note: yes, yes there are passionate hockey fans outside of Canada, but nowhere else is it the 1st descriptor that comes to mind when you think about a country. 

If the Jersey Fits....

Free agency is national shopping day in the NHL, and for a girl who knows a thing or two about spending I've scouted the best looks for those available athletes this upcoming season. Sometimes a wardrobe change is all a player really needs to get his career back on track. Sometimes it's a franchise who desperately need the makeover and they're willing to swipe the plastic to git er done. In the end though but beginning Sunday, it's up to these unrestricted free agents to decide which colours to sport and if it fits their style.

Sports for Singles

With only three games remaining in the Euro 2012 tournament and a month or so away from the London Summer Olympic Games, now's the perfect time to get your international grove on and meet some new and exciting people! Here are some tips...

Why People Love to Hate LeBron James

Do you remember when you were little and some kids would always say mean, hurtful things just to see you squirm? And when you got home to your mom and told her about it she said to just ignore those kids because they're jealous? Well, that kid is LeBron James and he's all grown up now and not taking any more abuse.

Ever since he entered the league in 2003 (I can't believe it's been that long), Bron Bron has always had a target on his back. Not just because of his talent, which is truly marvellous, but also because of his personality and how he handles his business. There's been high expectations for a long time and each time he falls short there's a big applause from the better part of America. He's been called an All-Star, a ball hog, an MVP, a cry baby, LaPrince James and many more, but the one thing he hasn't been called is an NBA champion. He's gone as far as the Finals but each time he fails the public is ready to scrutinize; "He's not ready yet", "he doesn't deserve to win" and "one player can't win a title" have always been thrown into the mix. And while the majority of the population would rather see him lose, after 9 years in the league can you really hate the guy for finally being a game away from greatness? 

James has always shown he has a good sense of humour. From his retro days on Sprite commercials to his camera-less team photo ops before each game, it's even more easy to dislike a talented athlete who can laugh at himself and then torch the opposition. But things weren't so funny when he decided to leave Cleveland (his hometown and the team that drafted him) for the bright lights of Miami. From torched jerseys to manipulated billboards, James recruited a whole slew of haters when he decided to be part of the Big 3 playing for the Heat. Why not though? He sure made it easy for everyone to have an opinion by tormenting viewers with a one-hour special actually titled "The Decision". Gross. Even I was completely turned off by the unnecessary media circus that found its way on ABC. But boy did his decision to play alongside Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh get tongues wagging. 

It was obvious, nobody wanted the Heat to win other than the people of Miami. With a combo like that, how could you not win an NBA title? Well, that's the best part, it didn't just happen and it's been two years in the making leading up til tonight. That's way longer than the statistics would have projected in 2010, and a relief for people who thought it would happen right away. So there you have it, a veteran of the game who grew up before our eyes and never played on our team. I think that's why they hate him, because everyone's jealous he's not on their team and if he was they would love him! If LeBron can finally put his lips on the Larry O'Brien trophy this week, I'll be happy for him because it's been a long road travelled and a job well done. 


How the Olympics Compare to Haute Couture

When I think of Haute Couture the words elaborate, high quality, attention to detail and excessive come to mind, just like the Olympics. For almost a century haute couture has been the most elite form of high fashion, as its status represents a custom-order only kind of collection that eerily resembles the talents and qualifications athletes require to participate in any Olympiad. 

Host cities, like designers, must try to out-do previous "collections" and claim a reputation that lasts well beyond the glory of the moment. Many cities and fashion houses vie for an opportunity to showcase their best work to the world, but very few countries or designers can ever claim they've done so; which is considered an honour in both the fashion and sports industries.   

Golf for Beginners - My Day at the Driving Range

I did not grow up playing golf, watching golf or mowing the lawn, so when I went to try my hand at the driving range this weekend I had no idea how hard it would be. Inspired by 17-year old amateur Beau Hossler, who at one point led the U.S Open, and the ladies of Big Break: Atlantis (my first season watching this golf-centred reality competition), I said to myself maybe I AM a golfer and I just don't know it yet. 

I had done Niagara Falls mini-putt, on television it looked easy enough, and in one of my favourite films 'Happy Gilmore', Adam Sandler as an out-of-luck hockey player turned unconventional golfer gives me a warm feeling inside that you don't have to be high society to play golf.
So I got a jumbo bucket of balls (117 balls to be exact), a ladies driver and took to the field. My left arm still hurts. I had a mini lesson on the basics from a great help, and what stuck out the most was "eye on the ball". Out of the jumbo bucket, I think 3 of those balls went by the 150 yard marker. At least 40 of them got to 100 yards, and the rest were within rock throwing range. Four of my shots landed where I was aiming, including the one that ricocheted off the golf-ball collector truck (or whatever it's called)... which I am told is something to be proud of. 

I learned many things that night including the lesson that hitting it hard doesn't mean you will hit it all, I think I had about 10 practice swings to loosen up. Focus on the swing, making contact with the ball and worry about the power later. I also found out that training for a day on the course can be extremely exhausting; with each stroke the turnout can change drastically based on the accuracy of your swing. So the more swings you take on the range, the better... but one more lesson - be patient!

Now that I've had a taste of something more challenging than Golden Tee,  I've really learned to appreciate the game and all its self imploding struggles. Congrats to Webb Simpson, who had to wait for Jim Furyk and Graeme McDowell to bow out on the 18th hole before he could hug his wife and child and relish in his first Major victory. That's a great way to spend Fathers Day. All in all I have decided to pursue improving my golf game and one day play on a course. I don't want to make a fool of myself now that I know what it's like, so I'll be hitting up the range hopefully every week, and mixing it up with a couple rounds of mini putt to focus on my short game. I don't think I'll be able to qualify for Big Break next year, but the year after that, look out. 


The Shutout, the No Hitter and the Perfect Game - Explained

The shutout, no hitter and perfect game are some of the toughest feats in baseball. In honour of San Francisco pitcher Matt Cain's perfect game against the Astros last night, here's a quick lesson on the difference between them.

The Shutout
The starting pitcher plays the entire game and does not allow the opposing team to score a single run. Opposing players can reach the bases and have hits, but there are no runs scored so it will end something  like this: 5-0. If two pitchers combine for the effort, the team can be accredited a shutout, but statistically neither pitcher will record the shutout in the books which looks like this: ShO or SHO.

The No Hitter
This one is easy - no hits. Also called a No-No, this feat is often also a shutout because it is extremely difficult to reach home plate without any hits. Steals, walks and errors can attribute to a run by the opposition, but it is rare - it most recently happened on July 27, 2011 when the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim won 3-1 against the Cleveland Indians thanks to Ervin Santana. The pitcher plays the entire game and cannot give up a single hit allowing a runner to reach base. Players at the plate may advance to first base via a walk, a hit batsman or an error, but that's it.    

The Perfect Game
 It is just that - absolutely perfect. Not a single hit, walk, run, error or hit batsman... only strikeouts and great plays. Nobody gets to first base, to make it clear. The pitcher often faces some full counts, loads up on strikeouts and he plays the full game. There's only been 22 of them ever to be recorded in Major League Baseball history, and two in the last two months. This is not just about the pitcher however, this is a lot to do with the supporting cast. In every perfect game, there are always moments where it can be taken away by just one bad pitch or one mishandled catch, but somebody always comes through . It's the ultimate team effort and one of the greatest accomplishments in sport.


Our Relationship with Sports

For all the sports widows who constantly have to battle for attention with the TV screen, radio or anything that streams your lover's favourite sports team or anything to do with the franchise or game, let me make it simple as to why your whining will never get you anywhere. 

Kings of Hockey... So What?

Canadians take hockey so seriously we forget how belittled the Los Angeles Kings are in comparison to the other sports franchises in the area. Sure their glorious march to greatness is something all sports teams should be admirable of, but let's be honest, the Kings had to reach the Stanley Cup finals before the city could really turn their attention away from broken basketball dreams. 

Taking One for the Team

To "take one for the team" means to put yourself out there and do something the others aren't able to handle for whatever reason - fear, uncertainty, pain. It's a blocked shot, an unfair fight or a tumble into the stands. It's often the high road to peer pressure and a great way to show participation skills as you give up your sense of security to ensure success. This is why I'm representing InGamer at the Accelerator Program Paintball day tomorrow, where I will be taking on some of our business neighbours in a not-so-friendly competition of skill and stealth.

Am I nervous? Absolutely. Unlike the Poker Classic which had me pitted against various depths of mind strength and the ability to just walk away the loser, paintball actually involves physical pain and athletic skill that could leave me with scars lasting much longer than those emotionally. It's like human hunting but with splats of neon to make it cartoon-like, something we all long for when we attempt to do something so seemingly inappropriate. Am I ready? Absolutely. I've been a veteran of first person shooter video games for the better part of my life, and take pride in building kill streaks that propel me to prestige as soon as possible. The adrenaline rush I feel when I play Call of Duty should be minor compared to the almost real-life services I will be providing to my employer come tomorrow afternoon. With my platoon of two, possibly three InGamers, I will lead the charge like Kevin Durant and roll like Thunder to my first on-field victory. I will go in as the decoy, the mole, I'll stand in the front lines of battle, anything to make the InGamer name heard loud and clear.

I'll take one for the team, maybe two or possibly six depending on how strong our brigade is. I'll be the coach, the captain and the substitute, but I will not be the first man down, er, woman down. I won't be the nurse either. Just because I'm a lady it doesn't mean I'll be limited to the recovery efforts of the injured or the replenishing of other men's ammo. It will be messy, dangerous and compromising to the relationships I've built with the people in this building, the beautiful Lang Tannery here in Kitchener, but in all sports, especially ones with (paint) loaded guns, it's survival of the fittest and I've got my war paint on.


Euro Cup 2012

Canadians may not be as involved with soccer as the rest of the world, but when it comes to representing the various countries that take part in this year's EuroCup 2012, the culture definitely comes alive! We've already seen them set up shop those flag dealers, at street corners and abandoned retail spaces all over the country... they'll probably make a killing throughout the duration of the tourney. Why? Because nothing beams brighter than national pride in the game of sport, more importantly, the game of soccer. Whether it be Portugal, Germany, Russia or England... Canada has a home for them all. With big districts like Little Italy present in cities like Montreal and Toronto, and prevalent German communities in places like Kitchener, Ontario, home of the largest Oktoberfest in the country, it's not hard to spot a homer when the breeze is going strong on the highway.

The Cup is In the Building

The last time the Los Angeles Kings were this close to the Stanley Cup, they lost to the Montreal Canadiens. I know I know, why am I mentioning the Habs right now? Is it because I'm clinging to the only bright memory that surrounds my favourite hockey team, as they blow the candle on yet another poor coaching decision? Is it because I can safely say the Habs were the last Canadian team to lift the Cup and I can use that for as long as the Hockey Gods let me? Yes, it's a combination of both - internal affairs shame, and national letdown from every other Canadian NHL franchise. Moving along however, the Kings will not face the same fate as before and will in fact reign supreme on a ridiculously dominant playoff performance. 

They've only lost 2 games and are unbeaten on the road. They've got the Devils by the horns and checkmate is around the corner. Goalie Jonathan Quick has the highest save percentage (.950) with the lowest goals against average (1.36), making him nearly invincible. They are the 8th seed and have never won the Stanley Cup in their 45-year history. They closed out all six of New Jersey's power plays in Game #3 and are the most impressive team I've seen to date... and possibly ever. They came from nowhere and manhandled everybody.

It is never meant to be easy to win a championship of the highest calibre, but the Kings are putting a new crown on the word Champion. The Lakers, the Celtics, the Habs, Yankees and the Steelers have never made such a dominant push to the title the way the Kings of L.A are doing right now. It is epic, monstrous, game-changing; monumental for sport. Take notice of what you witness, a feast for the eyes; three rounds of 3-0 leads and the possibility of back-to-back sweeps. Brooms will be bought all over the city today, and the town will be exposed to something new. Something so shiny even Hollywood will clamour and non hockey fans will be in awe. Next season there will be a new following of fans, and everyone will know who the Kings are. Not the Sacramento Kings, not the Kings of Comedy, but the Los Angeles Kings, kings of the hockey world.


Recovering with Sports

I got to say I was pretty ill last week (hence the lack of posts), but if there is any better way to recover from anything that's been hankering you lately -whether it be an injury, hangover or a flu, sports on Sunday always does the trick. Something about watching people push themselves to physical and mental limits while you whine about water and food temperatures just makes the end results always extra rewarding. I could barely relax all week despite being quite immobile, missing out on fully indulging myself in Stanley Cup finals hockey and NBA conference final dramas, due to the frequent use and effects of Gravol and other medical substances. But by Sunday morning I was starting to smell the fresh air in France, and by the 16th hole of the Memorial I was back in full swing.

Don't know why, but watching golf and tennis are just so relaxing. I mean, so is baseball if you have the patience, but sometimes it can be tedious with a long schedule to look forward to. Golf on the other hand,  is not played every day. Neither is tournament tennis. These sports take pride in instances of glory in the form of a Major or a Grand Slam, where a couple times a year the world's best come together to compete. The Memorial isn't one of them, but when the roar of Tiger rumbles through the course yesterday like it did so many years ago, any tour win with Woods involved makes it a Major for everyone else playing.

A day-long couch adventure is always worth it when you've got low energy and athletes seek high reward. Didn't you ever wonder why the NFL is primarily on Sundays? It also happens to have one of the shortest seasons ever with just 16 games. Just throw in a couple clouds and a potential BBQ and you've got the best recovery day ever! Sunday is always about focus - focus on getting your strength back for work on Monday and more games to come Monday night.

I am certain the next Sunday I'm down and out, some athlete will be on the ball and doing every bit to make me feel better. So thanks for the memories!

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