For those of you know don’t know me, I like sports. A lot.
I like watching sports, playing sports, thinking about sports and – most of all – writing about sports. “Thoughts from Left Field” will be a regular feature here. Hopefully, I can think of a better, more pun-worthy name for it. But in these features, I will just talk about whatever the heck came to my mind recently in the world of sports.
One of the best things about April 30 was not just the fact that I came out of the closet – the Stanley Cup Playoffs started! What a perfect way to cap a momentous day.
Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, the first two games went to overtime.
Playoff. Hockey. Overtime.
There is nothing greater in sports.
I don’t need to sit here and blab about how great overtime is in the NHL playoffs. I already wrote about it in The Pitt News a few years ago.
(If you’ve reached this page because you thought this was just a blog about gay issues, then do yourself a favor and read through that article. And better yet, do yourself a favor and watch a playoff hockey game. You don’t need to know anything, just observe.)
I was talking to a friend yesterday who doesn’t pay much attention to hockey. I told him I was spending the evening watching the playoffs. He said, “sounds relaxing.”
I made a point to explain that the NHL playoffs are anything but relaxing. It’s the most exciting event in sports. I hope to soon convert that friend into watching hockey. His life will be better for it.
All that said, playoff hockey overtime is unnerving when your team is playing. I was a wreck during Game 3 of the Penguins-Islanders series on Sunday. Luckily, the Penguins won in overtime, but my heart was racing for about an hour after the game.
This leads me to my next topic.
This Pens-Isles series is one of the worst I’ve ever watched. It’s almost disgraceful.
On the Penguins end, you’ve got players slamming Islanders’ heads into the ice. You’ve got post-game fights after they already lost. You’ve got a Norris Trophy finalist cross-checking a referee. It’s embarrassing. I’d be willing to write it off as a bad series, but this is exactly what happened last year against the Flyers. It’s becoming a pattern, and it’s not okay.
On the Islanders end, you’ve got a goalie shamelessly diving because Matt Cooke is in the vicinity. You’ve got fans cheering injuries and throwing things on the ice. And those same fans are spewing sexist (and homophobic) chants like “Princess Crosby!”
Both teams should be eliminated. That way, we can all get on with enjoying the playoffs.
And in case you’re wondering…I picked Chicago over Boston to win the Stanley Cup.
College Basketball – A modest proposal
I know it’s the offseason, but big news broke yesterday. Pitt will finally be playing Penn State! No, not in football – we have to wait until 2016 for that. The Nittany Lions basketball team will visit the the Petersen Events Center in Pittsburgh, which is always voted one of the toughest places to play in the nation, thanks to Pitt’s raucous student section, the Oakland Zoo.
For those of you not familiar with the Pitt-Penn State rivalry, it has been mostly dormant since 2000. That was the last time the two schools played in football (and Pitt won 12-0!). A certain “legendary” coach decided he didn’t want to play one of the game’s most storied rivalries anymore, but I won’t get into too much detail.
Anyway, Penn State doesn’t really care about basketball. When they knocked off No. 1 Michigan last year, attendance was so bad that they curtained off the upper deck. So, a Pitt-PSU basketball game probably won’t be that exciting. But you can bet that everyone in the Pete will be ready to take out their anti-PSU frustrations during that game.
But why did we have to wait until the Big Ten and the ACC matched these two schools up together for a game like this. Better yet, why don’t ALL the Pennsylvania schools play each other? There should really be an early-season tournament. I realize there are already way too many early-season tournaments (The O’Reilly Autoparts Classic, the Legends Classic, the Maui Invitational, etc.), but this one would be an instant success.
Think about it…
We can call it the Keystone Classic.
Yeah, it’s been used before, but it’s too alliterative to not use. You can have an eight-team tournament and almost all of the schools are in different conferences now. Rotate the tournament between Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh and the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia every year.
We could have seven teams play in it every year (Pitt, Villanova, Penn State, Temple, Duquesne, Robert Morris and Bucknell), then rotate in one more Philadelphia school every year. The fans would love it, and this would immediately boost everyone’s non-conference slate.
Look at how successful a similar event in Indiana has been. Indiana, Purdue, Butler and Notre Dame play games in Indianapolis. The place sells out and people go crazy for it.
The Keystone Classic needs to happen. And I’m sure a major network would pick it up.
So for all five of you actually reading this, make it happen. Thanks.