Monday, April 14, 2014

Atlanta Silverbacks 0 at New York Cosmos 4 (NASL) - April 13, 2014


When I was much, much younger, soccer was on the ascent in North America, due to the North American Soccer League (NASL). Helped by Pele (still popular here as you can see below) and the New York Cosmos, who enjoyed average crowds over 40,000 for three straight seasons, it looked like soccer might become a major sport, but overspending on player salaries soon ended that dream and the NASL folded after the 1984 season. Still, the league had given the sport a foothold in North America, enough that the 1994 World Cup was awarded to the U.S. just a few years later.



As a requirement for the World Cup, a Division 1 league needed to be formed. A year before the World Cup was held, the U.S. Soccer Federation selected Major League Professional Soccer to be this league; two years later the name was changed to Major League Soccer with ten teams beginning play in 1996. After a rough start, the league flourished over the next decade and the American soccer pyramid became a legitimate development tool. The United Soccer League had two divisions below the MLS that essentially operated as the second tier in the pyramid, although without the promotion and relegation that characterizes European leagues. The organization was sold by Nike in 2009 and some teams decided to breakaway to form another, more professional league to fill the void between the MLS and the USL, which was not strong enough to be considered a true Division 2 league. These teams chose to name their new circuit after the old NASL, to honour the pioneering spirit shown by that league.

The new NASL began play with eight clubs in 2011 and although one team in Puerto Rico was suspended and the Montreal Impact moved to MLS, the league has acquired new franchises, including a reboot of the Cosmos, who joined midway through last season. With the league playing a split campaign, the Cosmos skipped the spring session, beginning play in August and using the James M. Shuart Stadium on the campus of Hofstra University as their home ground. The stadium was used by the original Cosmos who won their first championship there in 1972 and the mojo must have remained as the new club promptly won the fall season and then defeated the spring champion Atlanta Silverbacks in the Soccer Bowl in Atlanta.

The team had the winter to further establish themselves as a sporting alternative on Long Island, and as one of the local Stadium Journey correspondents, I decided to visit their home opener to judge their progress.

James M. Shuart Stadium



Hofstra is located right next to the Nassau Coliseum, which is painfully far on public transit for those of us in New York City. Fortunately, the Cosmos run a free shuttle from Mineola LIRR station which makes getting there a whole lot quicker, although slightly more expensive with one-way, off-peak tickets from the city running $8. If you do drive, parking is $5 across the street and $10 nearer to the stadium.



Game tickets range from $15 to $35 (well, there are $95 club seats but I can't imagine anyone paying that as there isn't a bad seat in the place). With a capacity of nearly 12,000 and average crowds just over half that, there is always plenty of room along the sideline, especially high up which is the best place to sit for soccer. In other words, pay $15 for a ticket and sit where you want as there are no ushers anyway.





The supporters sit behind the north goal and make noise throughout the game, but the highlight to me was when they set off a fire extinguisher just before kickoff.



There are also Cosmos Girls who run around after a goal and perform at halftime. As was pointed out to me by a fellow Stadium Journeyer, you know when you are in the northeast when all the dancers are brunette!



Overall, this is a decent place for a game, but the marketing effort put in by the club shows. Nearly 8,000 were on hand for the opener with plenty of families showing that soccer has a bright future here. The way the Cosmos played, I'd guess they have a pretty bright future as well.

The Game



The game was a rematch of the championship with the Silverbacks in town. The Cosmos kicked off (above) to start the proceedings and after a slow start, began to dominate play, attacking the goal with some regularity. Their persistence was rewarded in the 23rd minute when captain Carlos Mendes, a Mineola native who spent seven seasons with the New York Red Bulls was able to direct home a rebound with Silverbacks keeper and Salvadoran international Derby Carillo on his back after he made a great save off a free kick from Marcos Senna (below).



Nine minutes later the Cosmos again attacked an Ayoze banged home another rebound. Just six minutes after that, Mendes was left unmarked off a corner kick and slotted home to make it 3-0, with all three goals coming from defenders. For Mendes, the brace marked his first professional goals in over ten years and the local fans were quite happy for their hometown hero.



With the game pretty much decided in the second half, the Cosmos played more defensively and Atlanta had some chances but could not manage a goal, although they looked good in their attempts as Deon McCaulay, who led CONCACAF with 11 goals for Belize during World Cup Qualifying, demonstrated with a bicycle kick (above). Against the run of play, New York managed a fourth goal when Norwegian Mads Stokkelien headed home a cross from Sebastian Guenzatti in the 72nd minute to close out the scoring. If you care, you can watch the highlights on YouTube.



Overall, this was a fun game to attend and for me, a bit of an eye-opener. There is a lot of talent here, some of it young and unproven while others are on the downside of their career, much like AAA baseball or the AHL. I should have studied the lineups beforehand. Unfortunately, the location of Shuart Stadium precludes regular visits for me but the NASL is a league worth following if you enjoy soccer.

Notes

Mendes was named the NASL player of the week for his efforts.

The Ottawa Fury began playing in the NASL this season and will be using the 24,000 seat TD Place as their home ground. I hope to get up there for a game this summer too, but if you happen to live in the area, get out there and support your team!

Pele was in attendance as a new plaque was unveiled in his honour and Pele t-shirts were handed out to all fans, you can see one below.



Next Up

Lots of baseball. I keep saying I'm going to cut down on my games, but I'm an addict and when there is cheap pro baseball, I have to go. Tomorrow Wednesday afternoon, the Cubs are visiting the Yankees with Masahiro Tanaka on the mound in the first games of a day-nighter, which necessitates my third trip to Yankee Stadium this season. Then the Mets are hosting the Braves on the weekend, so I'll make my first visit to CitiField in 2014. I won't be updating my blog for these repeat visits, but after that, there's 4 NCAA baseball fields I need to cover for Stadium Journey so keep checking back to see how things are going during my first summer in New York City.

Best,

Sean

Sunday, April 13, 2014

NHL Playoff Predictions


The NHL playoffs are set with a true bracket. Only one wild card switches to the other conference, the Dallas Stars, who move to the Pacific and take on Anaheim in the first round.

I like to play out the whole playoffs using season series results to see who would win the Stanley Cup. Of course, the regular season results won't hold up through 15 playoff series; when I did this in 2011 and 2012, the Finals had Philadelphia and Nashville. I'm using a variation on NHL tiebreakers when teams have the same number of points against each other:

1) Regulation, then overtime wins (not regulation and overtime wins).
2) If an odd number of games was played, ignore the first game played in the city with the extra home game.
3) Better team - I ignore goal differential here.

So what happens this year. Let's do this by division.

Atlantic
Detroit over Boston 3-1
Tampa Bay over Montreal 3-0-1

Tampa Bay over Detroit 4-1

Metropolitan
Pittsburgh over Columbus 4-0
NY Rangers and Philadelphia split their series with each team winning both home games. The Rangers finished with the better record, so they advance.

Pittsburgh and the Rangers also split their four games, with each team taking a 4-3 shootout win on the road. Pittsburgh had the better record, so they move on.

Central
Colorado over Minnesota 3-0-1
St. Louis beat Chicago 3-2 in games, but 2 of their wins were in the shootout, meaning the teams tied in points at 6, and Chicago moves on here due to 2 regulation victories.

Colorado over Chicago 4-1 (interestingly, St. Louis won the season series over Colorado, so the regulation wins means something here)

Pacific
Dallas over Anaheim 2-1
Los Angeles over San Jose 3-1-1

Dallas over Los Angeles 3-2

Conference Championships
Pittsburgh over Tampa Bay 3-0
Colorado over Dallas 4-1-1

Stanley Cup
Colorado over Pittsburgh 1-0-1

So look for Patrick Roy's surprising Avalanche to raise the Cup in two months time.

Personally, I expect Pittsburgh to beat LA in the final, so let's see if either of these ends up correct.

Best,

Sean

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Baltimore Orioles 14 at New York Yankees 5 - April 8, 2014


When I was much younger and still in school, I remember wishing for the day that I was old enough to be able to go to weekday afternoon baseball games. Next thing I knew, I was living in Japan, where there were no weekday afternoon baseball games, at least at the top level. Then I moved in Singapore, where there is no baseball at all. Now I am in New York and not working, so for the time being, my wish has finally been granted. The Yankees opened at home against Baltimore yesterday and I skipped that one as I had other commitments, but today, game 2 of the series was also a 1:05 start. With nothing on my schedule, I took the subway from Queens to the Bronx via Manhattan and settled back for a wonderful afternoon.



This picture above was taken from my seat in section 420B, row 8, directly behind home plate. A $28 face value, it went for just $6.50 on StubHub an hour before the game. Have you seen anything more beautiful than a ballpark from the upper deck? Perhaps just the line score below, as the Yankees got hammered by Baltimore. The game took 3:28, but it was due to lots of action as the pitches per minute (PPM) was 1.649, better than the average this season.




In fact, the game would have even been shorter, except for a couple of idiot fans. In the bottom of the 8th, with the game well in hand, two drunken morons jumped on the field, running from the left field foul line towards the infield. Security was a bit slow off the mark but caught up to them soon enough, taking them down near second base while the Orioles looked on bemusedly.

The same thing happened last year at the All-Star Game at CitiField, although in that case the lunkhead was drunk on Twitter fame rather than booze. At the time, headlines raged about a year in jail, but the guy is out and still tweeting away like the twit he is. It seems like there is no real punishment meted out for these fools, which I find extremely frustrating. You might consider them harmless pranksters, but they are wasting my time, and that of everyone else in the ballpark. So rather than threaten them with legal penalties that will never be enforced, let's create a more meaningful rule. For every minute of time wasted by a fan running on the field, they spend that time in jail. Simply take the paid attendance, multiply it by the number of minutes their incursion took, and send them off to prison for that time. For example, today's game had 35,864 fans (although most had left by then) and the little pinhead adventure lasted about 3 minutes. That turns out to be nearly 75 days (107,592 minutes). So simply have these two sent to Rikers Island for 2 1/2 months and I'll be satisfied. Or even better, create a jail in the bowels of the stadium and have them stay there, unable to follow their team other than to hear occasional cheering from the crowd. A steady diet of cold hot dogs and warm soda would certainly have them thinking twice about doing the same thing again.

Will this ever happen? Not in today's world. There is no room in real jails for minor offenders like this; instead the punishment likely will be a slap on the wrist and a stadium ban. Even though these two may never see the inside of Yankee Stadium again, you can bet more drunken dopes are already planning the same thing for later this season. So expect to see more instances of buffoons claiming their 15 minutes of fame at a baseball diamond near you.

Best,

Sean

Friday, April 4, 2014

Toronto Blue Jays at Tampa Bay Rays - April 1-3, 2014




After entering Club 122, I took a day off to relax and bask in my accomplishment. The Blue Jays were opening the season in Tampa Bay that day, but they faced David Price and it wasn't worth the drive from Orlando to see them get smoked, which they did 9-2. Instead, I arrived in St. Petersburg, home of Tropicana Field, on Tuesday and attended the final three games in the series.



The Trop is the worst ballpark to visit in early April, when the Florida weather is still free of humidity and perfect for outdoor baseball. I am not the only one who feels this way, as the average attendance for the 3 games was 10,497. The Rays made the playoffs last year, if you recall. Can you tell the top rows in the upper deck are covered in tarp? That reduces capacity, but doesn't help matters.



Look at this picture of the upper concourse, taken during an inning break. Not a soul in sight, and this was for the second game of the season.



The main atrium is where you'd get your food options, and you don't have to worry about lines. The shot below was taken near the end of the game though, when most of the concessions were closing up.



The Trop does have a lot of attractions though, including the Ted Williams Hitters Hall of Fame and a touch tank where fans can touch live rays (below).



But those will only delay you for about 15 minutes before you enter the seating bowl. Sit where you want as long as you are not down low between the bases, where ushers will check your tickets.



Despite the horrible atmosphere, Tropicana Field might be the best value in the majors. You can park for free along 2nd Avenue between 6th and 7th, where there is 2-hour parking until 6 pm. Get there at 4, stop in at the Brass Tap and then walk over, where you can find tickets starting at $15 for one of the best young teams in baseball. If they could rip the roof off this place, it would finally match the product on the field.

Game 1 - Blue Jays 4, Rays 2

No point in paying more than $15 to get in, the view from section 308:



The Jays won 4-2 in a game that took 3:22, for a ridiculously low 1.458 pitches per minute (PPM). More on that later.



Game 2 - Blue Jays 3, Rays 0



Mark Buehrle (above), who is well known for working quickly, started for Toronto and went 8 2/3 shutout innings before giving up a liner that Brett Lawrie should have caught. It was generously ruled a hit and John Gibbons decided that Buehrle had reached his limit at 108 pitches. Arrrrgggh. The Jays were up 3, give him another hitter! Anyway, Sergio Santos came in and walked a batter to bring the tying run to the plate in the form of pinch-hitter Matt Joyce. Brett Cecil came on and struck out Joyce to get the save, leading to a big sigh of relief from myself.



Jose Bautista hit two solo shots (the second above) to lead the offense. The game took 2:55 for a 1.629 PPM. Not bad, but still slow considering Buehrle pitched nearly the whole game.



Game 3 - Rays 7, Blue Jays 2

I covered this game for Stadium Journey, so received a credential and sat in the press box level (200s). There are TVs here that let you see replays, but it is pretty dark as the third deck covers much of the seating here.



The Blue Jays lost 7-2, splitting the series. The game took 3:21 for a PPM of 1.527. Over the three games I saw, the PPM was 1.532. This is terribly slow and I'll be writing more about the pace of baseball in a couple of days.

For the Jays, their defense was excellent over these four games, their pitching acceptable, while the offense was worrisome, going just 4-29 with runners in scoring position and totalling 11 runs over the series. The caveat is that the Jays have struggled in Tampa historically and gaining a series split is a good sign. I have hope!

Notes

The mascot race here involves three bottles of Pepsi products, including Lipton Ice Tea. Every game they had a different trick, on Thursday there was an usher on the field checking tickets. Oh no, Lipton Ice Tea didn't have a ticket and the race was won by Diet Pepsi in a photo finish (below). For me, this was the highlight of the final game and the lasting memory I will have from Tropicana Field.



Next Up

Time off. Other than a New York Cosmos game next weekend, I am going to spend April looking for a job and avoiding baseball for the most part. This MLB season has seen a PPM of 1.56, about 2.8% slower than last season's 1.6 at the same point. This is simply not fast enough to keep my attention. I stopped going to Japanese baseball because the games took too long, and I'm on the verge of doing the same for the majors. I'll post a detailed analysis in a few days, so check back for that next week.

Best,

Sean

Monday, March 31, 2014

Toronto Raptors 98 at Orlando Magic 93 - March 30, 2014


I wanted my final venue visit for Club 122 to involve a Toronto team on the road, and the NBA scheduler obliged by sending the Raptors to Orlando on March 30th. I had visited the Magic back in 2010, but that was during the last season of Amway Arena. My rules of Club 122 stipulate active arenas, although it has been pointed out to me that anybody who sees a game in all Big 4 venues at some point in their lives deserves a membership. Hard to disagree with that, given that so few people have actually accomplished it. And now I am one of them!

Amway Center



Located at the corner of Church Street and Hughey Avenue right next to I-4, the Amway Center is the centrepiece of Orlando's revitalization plan dubbed Master Plan 3. There is a parking garage right next to it sponsored by Geico, but that should be avoided as free street parking is available on Orange Avenue north of Jefferson, about a 10-minute walk away, through a street lined with bars and pubs.



The front of the arena is closed off to traffic and a small party plaza is set up. There are a number of Florida-specific displays including one with live animals, such as a baby American alligator that you can hold (above). These creatures will be re-released into the wild once they are rehabilitated; from what I could tell they are generally taken from residential areas and then relocated to their natural surroundings, so this little fellow should be swimming freely in a few weeks.



Entering into the Disney Atrium (above), you can take an escalator to the 100 level. If you want food,  better to find something here as the upper concourse has fewer options. I did not partake during either of my visits though. There is a guest assistance booth with the designated driver program allowing you to get a free small soda. Judging by the confused look I received when I tried to redeem my coupon, few patrons take advantage of this offer.



As you walk around the lower concourse, you might realize that you cannot see any of the floor from most locations. Only at one end does the concourse open up with a view (above). In other cases, you have to walk down a long flight of stairs to reach the seating area, where you will be asked to show your ticket. Mentioning that you are just going to take a photograph will usually allow you a quick pass, but don't loiter. I should mention that having the stairways below the club seats does allow the them and the upper deck to be closer to the floor.



The main weakness of the Amway Arena was its lack of luxury seating and alternative areas, and this has been rectified in the new building, with over 60 suites and 68 loge boxes between the 100 and 200 levels, as well as 14 MVP Tables which seat 4 fans each. Prices for some of these locations are not outrageous if you want a unique experience when visiting the Magic. There were even seats available on TicketMaster the day of the game. Other special areas include 'Ronas and 'Ritas, an outdoor lounge with a view of the highway (below).



As mentioned, the upper bowl is actually not that far away from the floor compared to other multi-use venues, the photo below is from my seat in the first row of section 212. The seats in the foreground are part of the Club.



Overall, Amway Center is an excellent venue in terms of design and amenities, and it can be quite affordable as well. Unfortunately the team is struggling and fans are staying away, as you can see above. This lack of atmosphere really hurts the gameday experience and had me yawning at various points throughout the contest. When the Magic return to respectability, I would expect Amway Center to me a more engaging place, but until then, expect a lacklustre affair should you attend.

The Game

The Raptors had just clinched a playoff spot and I was worried that they wouldn't be too motivated for this one, and they started slowly, falling behind 22-21 late in the first quarter.  They then went on a 23-4 run to take a commanding 19-point lead into the half at 57-38. The story of the half was foul shots, as the Raptors committed only 6 infractions compared to 12 for Orlando, which led to 14 Toronto points on perfect free throw shooting. To make matters worse for the Magic, they went 0/7 from beyond the arc. Jonas Valanciunas (below) led the Raptors with 16 points.



I fully expected the Magic to mount some sort of comeback as it happens so often in basketball, but I wasn't prepared for what happened. The Magic went 10/15 including 3/4 from downtown to win the 3rd quarter 26-16 and close the gap to 9 points. Jameer Nelson (below) led the way with 12 for Orlando.



The fourth quarter saw the Magic make 3 quick treys on their way to tying the game at 76. I was furious by now at how Toronto had played without any intensity and allowed one of the worst teams in the league to get back into it. Didn't they know it was my Club 122 game?! Thankfully, the Raptors woke up and took an 85-80 lead, helped by the Magic finally missing some threes. When DeMar DeRozan sank a couple of free throws (below) to make it 87-80 with five minutes left, I breathed a little easier.



Of course, things were not quite over. Of course. Down 93-84, the Magic went on a mini 9-3 run to get within three points with just 30 seconds to go. Kyle Lowry missed a layup and the Magic rebounded and called timeout with just 8.9 seconds on the clock. They would have a single chance to tie the game. Maurice Harkless took the ball on the sideline and looked for an open teammate. The Raptors managed to cover everyone and Harkless failed to pass the ball within the allotted 5 seconds resulting in a turnover. DeRozan was fouled immediately and sank both shots to make the final 98-93.



Although the Raptors won, the ending was anticlimactic. I would have much preferred that Orlando take a shot, even if overtime was the result. The referee who made the call, Scott Foster, did the same against the Raptors last season, so perhaps it was fitting after all.

DeRozan led all scorers with 28 points, including 15/16 from the charity stripe. Orlando outshot Toronto from the floor 55% to 45%, but Toronto's 26/27 rate from the line earned them the road win. In particular, Orlando played extremely well in the second half, sinking 22 of 33 from the floor, but it was their lack of aggressiveness inside that cost them in the big picture.

Interestingly, the game in New Orleans had a similar score, won 98-96 by the Pelicans, but this one was a stinker, with 34 turnovers and generally poor play all around. The media will have you believe that a close basketball game is a good basketball game, but that is not necessarily the case. For me, at least Toronto won, allowing me to celebrate my Club 122 entrance happily.

Notes

Grevis Vasquez came in off the bench late in the first and received a cut on his cheekbone that required 5 stitches, forcing him out until the second half. He returned and played nearly 15 minutes, finishing with 5 points. That's him below with the bandage on his cheek.



The Magic are celebrating their 25th season by winning 25% of their games (28.4% actually but why let reality get in the way of a good joke).



My wife joined me for the game, allowing me to have a good picture taken of myself for a change. She was happy that the Magic scored five three-pointers as all fans get a free sandwich from Chick-Fil-A on Monday. Needless to say, I was not happy, leading to some spirited discussions of how we root for Toronto in this family.



Next Up

Major League Baseball was kind enough to have the Blue Jays open the season in Tampa so I'll be heading there for three games in that series, skipping opening day. Check back on the weekend for a recap.

Best,

Sean

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Evansville Icemen 4 at Orlando Solar Bears 5 (ECHL) - March 29, 2014




Casual hockey fans might think that Florida has but two pro hockey clubs, the Lightning of Tampa Bay and the Florida Panthers. Actually though, there are a few other teams that skate in the Sunshine State: the Florida Everblades and Orlando Solar Bears of the ECHL and the Pensacola Ice Flyers in the SPHL. I've seen a game in Estero where the Everblades play and stopped in Pensacola during my NFL Road Trip, leaving just Orlando. The Solar Bears are a relatively new team, having begun play in 2011 and taking the name of the IHL team that folded in 2001 along with the league. In 2013, the Solar Bears started an affiliation with the Maple Leafs, who join the Iowa Wild as the NHL clubs supplying players to Orlando.



The team plays in the Amway Center, also a new addition to the community, opened in 2010 to replace the outdated Amway Arena. Although the Orlando Magic are the primary tenants, the arena was designed with hockey in mind as well, allowing the Solar Bears to be formed.



The upper bowl is closed off for hockey, but the club seats are open and on one side, they look pretty cool, resembling a press box with tables as you can see in the upper portion of the picture above. Known as the Loge Boxes, they seem like a good deal at at $42, given that the cheapest box office ticket is $16.



There is also a standing area behind one of the nets that offers a good view of the whole ice surface (above). I spent the third period here after sitting low in the corner for the first two.  Concessions here can be overpriced as they use the same pricing structure as the Magic, but $4 for a pretzel seems fair. As I'm coming back for basketball, I didn't spend much time touring the facility, but it works very well for hockey. Given that the Florida Gators were playing in the Elite 8 at the same time, you would expect a sparse crowd but there are a lot of sports fans who haven't been seduced by the hype of March Madness and they were rewarded with a very entertaining game.

The Game

The Evansville IceMen cameth into Orlando for a 2-game series. The division-leading Solar Bears won the first match on Thursday and wanted the sweep to all but clinch a playoff spot. Evansville is out of the playoff race but not eliminated yet. Cody Reichard (below), who made SportsCenter's top 10 plays last month, started for Orlando against Mike Clemente.



Early on, league-leading scorer Mickey Lang had a breakaway for Orlando, only for the puck to be tapped off his stick by a diving defenseman. Lang fell over the d-man as the puck skittered away and the referee awarded a penalty shot, which was not correct according to rule 57.3, as Lang had lost control.  IceMen coach Jeff Pyle strenuously disagreed with the call (below) but the ref couldn't change his mind and Lang took his penalty shot, only to have it saved by Clemente.



Midway through the period, Connor Goggin (below) opened the scoring for Orlando, beating Clemente with a hard shot from the point. Evansville tied the game on a power play and that is how the first period ended.



The second period saw the teams trade early goals, with Goggin scoring his second to tie the game at 2 just 1:17 in. Then Reichard let a softie from Daultan Leveille beat him over the shoulder and when Kellan Tochkin banged home a rebound just 41 seconds later, Reichard was done for the evening. He was replaced by Maxime Clermont (below), who played junior for Gatineau, where I saw him play in 2010.



That seemed to spark the Solar Bears, who scored two quick ones from Taylor Matson and Jacob Cepis and send us to the final frame knotted at 4.



With just seven minutes to go in the game, Cepis took a pass from Lang, skated in, and beat Clemente with a perfect slap shot to send the crowd of 8,458 into a frenzy. Later on, Ian Slater had an empty net after skating around Clemente, who threw his stick to break up the play. Yep, another penalty shot, this time Slater missed wide (below) to keep the IceMen in the game. They tried furiously to tie, but Clermont was equal to the task and Orlando won 5-4.



With the Maple Leafs historic eight-game slide from second place to tenth, I'll take this as small consolation: at least one affiliated Toronto hockey team won today.



Notes

Speaking of the Leafs, Carlton seems to have been used as inspiration for Shades, the Solar Bears mascot.



There was a charity game played earlier in the afternoon with former players Allan Bester, Dave Christian, Mike Ramsey and Marcel Dionne on hand. They were on the ice during the first intermission for an award presentation and signed autographs during the second. Bester finished his career in Orlando back in the mid-1990s after being run out of Toronto, much like what is happening to James Reimer now.



The fans behind me were obsessed with shots on goal. In particular, they felt that anytime the goalie touched the puck, it should be a shot (not true) and when the "shot" was not added to the total, they felt the stats guy wasn't doing his job. I wanted to turn around and explain to them the criteria for a shot on goal, but held my tongue. Nobody likes snotty Canadians explaining the intricacies of hockey. Safe to say there is no conspiracy in Orlando to hold down the home team shot total.

Next Up

The Raptors are in Orlando tonight and I'm heading back to enter Club 122. That means I will have seen a game in all 122 active venues of the Big 4 sports! Check back tomorrow for a recap of that.

Best,

Sean