Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Poem - The Off Season

Even though  there are plenty  of  other sports to enjoy, baseball always will be my favorite. So here is a poem on a pitcher dealing with the off season.

The Off Season

Snow is on the ground
Blanketing the pitcher's mound
Leaving one to imagine
Where the rubber must go

Oh, to toe that slab
Looking for the sign
Place my hands to the set
And grip the ball just right

My arm will cock back
One foot will slide up
As that batter will see
That fastball I throw

This thrill that I need
Will just have to wait
Through a long cold winter
That can't end soon enough.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Poem -Why Watch the Games?

As I watched football games today involving teams with losing records I started asking myself why I was doing this.  To answer this, I came up with the freestyle poem.

Why Watch the Games?

It doesn't matter which game
Which teams or which players
If it's a sporting event, it's show time
With an ending you do not know
Sure it's entertainment
And you might see the team a lot
But each day, each game is new
And you never know how it will end.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Grey Cup Drabble

After a hiatus from writing, I am coming back and will be posting poems, drabbles or essays on whatever is on my mind.   I will TRY to do a post at least every other day, and Decemeber is just as good a time to start.  Today, my sports mind is on the Grey Cup, the championship trophy of the Canadian Football League.  I watched the 2014 game last night, a thrilling win by the Calgary Stampeders over the Hamilton Tiger Cats, and wrote a drabble about comparing the Canadian and American games.  For those who have not read my earlier posts, a drabble is an essay of exactly 100 words that tells a complete story or thought.  Here is my Grey Cup drabble.

Grey Cup Drabble

Football is football, no matter where it is played.  So there are three downs instead of four and ten extra yards to run – who cares?  As a fan, I love to watch the game.  There is a championship that captures a nation’s fancy.  The Grey Cup is the Canadian version of the Super Bowl.  Watching the fans cheer loudly for the players, the teams, the trophy – it is a wonderful sight.  Whether the green and gold jerseys are for the Green Bay Packers or the Edmonton Eskimos, those colors represent champions.  Grey Cup or Super Bowl – they are champions.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A basketball poem- The Beauty of the Shot

Just realized as I am reading a book of poems that was sent to me by Debra George that even though the October challenge is over, it shouldn't keep me from regularly writing here.  Even if only a short poem or a paragraph on my thoughts, it's time to make an early New Year's resolution to write here regularly, even if only once or twice a week.  So to that thought, here is a poem on basketball, which is the sport that I am watching right now as my favorite team, the Minnesota Timberwolves, are on tonight playing the Brooklyn Nets.

The Beauty of the Shot

Leaving his hands, it's nothing special
Just a big orange ball flying in the air
But the path it takes
And the movement it makes
Will leave me in awe
At the artwork I have seen

The arch is perfec
Rotating in sync
To the path along which it moves
Directly to the hoop
It may clang off the rim
Smack against the backboard
When the art is lost

But this shot is true
It moves with such grace
Nothing will stop in its way
Toward the center of the circle
Touching nothing at all
Until the leather hits nylon

The sound of that swish
Music to my ears 
Is the reason that this game
This moment
This shot
Is simply a thing of beauty

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Day 16 - Journey of a Fastball

Keeping it simple today.  Since there is more baseball to play, staying with that sport.  It is the best one after all!

Journey of a Fastball

Speed is of the essence
It must get there fast
White sphere of horsehide
Screaming toward the plate

Catcher' s mitt is waiting
This is where it ends
That fastball zooming in
Avoiding the swinging bat

Hearing that sound
Of ball hitting leather
Makes a pitcher smile
Knowing he did his job

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Day 15 - Celebration

Today's poem is inspired by the Kansas City Royals, who won the American League Championship today to go to the World Series for the first time in 29 years.  Seeing grown men making millions of dollars leaping, hugging and crying made me think of how they are still kids playing a kid's game.

We Won It All

We can't believe it
We are really the champs.
Our dreams have been like this
Since those dreaded training camps.

What do we do now?
We are all grown up
But oh no not now
We'll frolic on the field like a pup

We scream we laugh
We hug and we cry
This is why we play
This is why we try

Now the money doesn't matter
No worries about contract talks
This is more than the dollars
Even more than hits and walks

It's about the wins
How we did not stop
We have come all the way
We made it to the top

Monday, October 13, 2014

Day 13 - Colorful Teams

Today's prompt at OctPoWriMo was about color.  It got me thinking about team names, especially for college sports teams, that have a color in their name.  There are many, but I limited this haiku poem to three of the better known teams.  In a way that is good as I can save some of them for future writing!  I hope you enjoy this poem.

The Colors of Teams

School teams have color
Crimson Tide and Blue Devils
The Green Wave as well

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Day 12 - Sports Obsessed

For the second day in a row, the prompt at OctPoWriMo has helped me create a poem.  Being a huge fan of so many different sports, I wondered if the topic of obsession would fit - well, maybe it does.  So I jotted down my thought on that topic as it related to my sports fandom.  I hope you enjoy reading this.

Sports Obsessed
What is it about sports
That makes me go crazy?
I do things that normal humans won’t
Only for this form of entertainment.

Such as screaming at the TV
Over a human failing, an error
Something every human does
No matter how talented.

Scanning newspapers and computers
For mostly meaningless stats
Printed in agate type
So as to prove that point.

Yet a day can’t go by
Without SOME type of sports fix
I have tried to break free from this,
But no success with any of the tricks.

So I just carry on
Each day feeding
This endless obsession
With games people play.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Day 11 - Kid's Sports

Today I did something different for my poem - I went to the OctPoWriMo site for the daily prompt.  It is about children today and that got me to think about what it was like when I was playing sports as a youngster compared to today - and how it should really stay in a kid's world, not the adults.  Here is my selection on children's sports.

Being a Kid

Children’s games
Even if grown men are paid to play
Should be just that – children’s games
From the joy of a home run
To the elation of the swish
Scoring that touchdown
Fulfills a young person’s wish

But sadly these are dashed
As these kids progress
For adults see the future
Clouded by dollar signs for them
Or maybe they tried
But didn’t do so well at the games
So they too live the dream
Through the actions of their offspring

This should not happen
Not one adult should complain
When a child is at play
No matter what game
Let that youngster have fun

And not become an adult

Friday, October 10, 2014

Day 10 - Another baseball poem

Realizing that I nearly forgot to write today's poem as the Kansas City - Baltimore game was about to start, I quickly jotted this down as I realized how much I was anticipating watching this game.  I offer no excuses - I am a baseball junkie and this describes how I feel when a game is about to start.

The Game I Love

Bat in hand, standing in the box
Feet getting set, eyes are locked.

The pitcher gets set,
Winds up and throws.

Whistling toward the plate
While the tension grows.

The moment is here
Will he sit or swing?

This is why I am here

This is my everything.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Day 9 - A True Fan

I always believe a true fan is loyal - he or she sticks with one team, no matter the record or how others may not agree.  I wrote today's poem as an acrostic of that special quality - being loyal - of a true fan.


Love to be a huge fan

Of only one team.

Yet they may have a bad season

And my fandom is questioned?

Leave me alone – I still love my team!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Day 8 - The Beginning (of hockey season)

With the start of hockey season tonight, I thought it was only appropriate to make today's entry about that wonderful game.  A haiku about the winter game is written below

The Beginning

Our skates are sharpened
Ice is as smooth as the glass
Drop the puck NOW, please

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Day 7 -Don't Be Silent

Today's poem was inspired by the prompt at OctPoWriMo for silence.  Most athletes don't want silence.  They want to hear the cheers and feedback.  This poem is what one of them might say to us.

Don't Be Silent

I am an athlete
I need the noise

Don't stay silent for me
Don't be silent for an opponent

Break the silence by cheering
Or break it by a boo

As long as you provide that feedback
I will do my best for you.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Day 6 - Perfect game haiku

Today's prompt for the October Poetry Challenge called for using the word "perfect" or a variation such as perfection.  I thought about the rarity of perfect games pitched in baseball history.  Yet I was able to come up with a simple haiku poem that tells just how simple the requirements are for a perfect game.

The Perfect Game

Twenty-seven up
Perfection from the pitcher
Twenty-seven down

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Day 5 - Baseball poem - Get a Grip

The baseball playoffs are in full swing and there has been some great pitching performances.  Those pitchers were the inspiration behind today's poem for the October Poetry challenge.

Get a Grip

"Get a grip" I was told
Those words were like gold

Since a grip is a key part
Of my pitches at the start

Whether it's four fingers or two
Loose or so tight I turn blue

How I hold the ball
Will be how I tell all

That my pitches will be 
Something the batters will never see. 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Day 4 - A College Athlete

Before settling in for all the college football games today, I decided to make that the subject of today's poem on the fourth day of the October Poetry Challenge.   This could be about any college football player.  I wanted to dedicate it to them because without their hard work, us fans of the game would not be able to enjoy Saturdays in the fall in this way.   Here is "A College Athlete."

A College Athlete

Long practice hours will be the end of his day
Even after classes where professors have much to say.
Coaches yell, blows delivered, sweat flows
But the young man’s skill set grows.
Tuition is paid for by enduring this grind
Even so, his finances could be in a bind.
Playing for no more than the school on his chest
The proud football player will always give his best. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Poem after watching baseball

After staying up very late watching the thrilling game between the Angels and Royals I decided to pen this poem for Day 3 of the October Poetry Challenge.

A Late Night

Morning comes much too soon
I wanted to try to sleep till noon

You see there was a ball game last night
It was a close one, taut, very tight

Pitches were thrown with such great speed
That hitters were swinging at what was a seed

Inning by inning neither team scored
Taking the risk that fans would be bored

But not this fan. Oh no not me
For this meant more baseball I could see

The more innings played, the longer it went
The more sleep lost, I knew I was spent

But the game, the game oh what a game
I just love it so much, and I have no shame.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Poem - Everything in Twos

Today's poem was inspired by the prompt to use the number 2. I thought of the many different times two has a special place in sports - this poem reflects those times. 

Everything in Twos 

Two is the perfect number 
As it reflects love quite well 

Whether the romantic love of couples 
Or the love of sports by fanatics. 

Twos are plentiful 
In many of our games 

A team getting two outs 
“Turns two” in baseball. 

After a touchdown 
Football teams “go for two.” 

Good shot in basketball? 
Means a two point reward

While a bad act in hockey 
Earns two minutes in the sin bin. 

Two is the perfect number 
For all lovers of sport.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Shortest Race


The blocks are on the ground
My feet are placed inside
Kneeling down in position
Thinking about my stride

It has to be long and true
As well as extremely fast
For this is only one hundred meters
Only 10 seconds will it last

The starter is here
He raises the gun.
I hear it go “BANG”
It is time to run!

Pushing off the blocks
Other runners I see
Moving their fastest
But not as fast as me.

The finish line is near
I only see the tape

Raising my arms in victory

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Entering the October Poetry challenge

I did this last year and while I fell short of the 31 poems in 31 days, I had a lot of fun and decided to do this challenge again in 2014.  Unlike last year, when I limited myself to one sport (baseball), one type of poem (acrostic) and trying to create one for every team, this year I am just going to write whatever comes to mind for the day.  It may be an acrostic, it may be a simple four-line poem or it may have multiple stanzas.

I am ready - hopefully you will enjoy reading them as much as I will writing them.  See you tomorrow - first poem on October 1!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Strikeout drabble - pitcher's thoughts

A Pitcher’s Strikeout

Just one more strike is needed – just one more.  Some call it a strikeout, others a punch out.  If it happens, I call it the end of the inning.  The ball is gripped for a four-seam fastball.  Smitty gives me the signal.  I nod, wind up and fire.  It felt good out of my hand.  My elbow and forearm are at the perfect angle.  The batter has a confused look.  He doesn’t know what to do!  He thinks my pitch will rise, but I know otherwise.  The spin and location are perfect.   He is frozen.  “Strike three!” A glorious sound!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Another baseball drabble

Wrote a drabble on a runner that was caught stealing second base, inspired by the game I am currently watching when a runner on my team was nailed on an attempted steal.  

For those who are not familiar with the term drabble, it is a complete story told in exactly 100 words.  This one is the story of a runner who fails to steal second base.

Caught Stealing

Waiting for the throw from the catcher, the shortstop has his glove ready.  A fast runner barrels down on him.  But he holds his ground at second base.  Popping up from his crouch, the catcher guns the ball at the target given him.  The shortstop finally moves, his glove now closed with the ball inside.  A smooth swiping motion is made at the runner.  The head first slide is what the runner does to try to avoid a tag.  But that doesn’t work now as he now feels the glove slap his back before he reaches second.  He is OUT!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

It's All Mental

This is a poem for fellow weekend hackers who just enjoy being on the golf course

It's All Mental

Standing in the tee box
Driver in my hand
Get the feet properly planted
Into the solid dry land

Teeing the ball up
At just the right height
Stepping back a bit
To ensure everything's right

Line up the club face
To align with the ball
Wiggle some in the stance
Then stop and stand tall

Bring the club back
Keep that left arm straight
But darn, this first tee shot
Flew over hole number eight!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Poem on a ballpark vendor

Ode to a Beer Vendor

"Getcha Cold Beer Here!"
Such magical words to hear
To the fans who need a brew
This vendor's wares shall do.

They flag him down with a wave
Indicating they need two
Like a flash, he pops the caps,
Pours and passes to their laps.

The fans pay up and tell him
"Keep the change"
It's just another sale for him
Nothing special, nothing strange.

This happens many times
During each and every game
The man loves serving the fans
And "Beer Man" is his name. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Relief from baseball withdrawl

It's time to get writing again and the best way to do it is to just write what is on my mind.  So, with that thought, it's time to celebrate the official end of my acute sickness that came from baseball withdrawl.  There was no baseball on a TV, mobile device or computer in the house for TWO WHOLE DAYS!

Yes, I know, one will ask how I can stand it through the winter or in past years during the All-Star break. In the winter, there are other sports such as hockey to pass the time until pitchers and catchers report.  As for the All-Star break, this year was torture because the season didn't resume until Friday.  In the past, baseball was back after the break on Thursday.  That meant only one day between the All-Star game and "regular" games.   But two?  That's just torture.

But now, all is well.  I just saw Matt Holiday of the Cardinals take Dan Haren of the Dodgers deep.  This game on MLB Network is the perfect medicine to cure this illness.   It looks like the Cardinals are threatening to score more, so time for another dose of the best medicine.

So I will end this short essay by saying it's good to have two of my favorite things back - the best sport in the world and the urge to resume writing.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Cross Check from Hell - a very short story

            Hell found me.  Since Hell and I had a couple of prior confrontations, this was expected.  In the first one, Hell overpowered me and I slumped to the ice.  Then I got the better of the second skirmish, and Hell was determined to find me.  Hell did just that.

            Before describing those tussles, I should explain that I played ice hockey.  It only seems that Hell confronted me whenever I would pull on my beat-up Montreal Canadiens sweater and lace up my old Tucks pair of skates.  Away from the rink, I led an ordinary life.  I had a regular job, regular family, and regular routine.  I played hockey for variety, to get away from the regular.  I didn’t think that Hell would take me this far from regular.

            While the league called for no checking, this rule was bent as much as a mountain road.  While no one got his face smashed into the Plexiglas, that didn’t mean that these were non-contact games.  I was no different from any other player when it came to this rule.  I liked to throw a good hit now and again.  Like any other hockey player, I also took my share of solid blows to the sternum or back. These were common occurrences in our games.  One particular player delivered some of the most vicious hits that I have seen in any level of hockey in this “recreational” league.  

            Hell was excruciatingly painful.  Hell knew that when I was not at the rink, I was an ordinary accountant.  Crunching numbers on the 10-key and balancing figures on spreadsheets was not Hell’s idea of fun.  So, Hell left me alone while I was working.  But on game days, when I left the desk to play right wing, then Hell always got a wake-up call.

            In one of the prior confrontations, Hell cross-checked me while I skated along the boards.  The stick caught me squarely across my Adam’s apple and I laid flat on the ice.  Fortunately, Hell only knocked the wind out of me.  As a volunteer EMS worker and a teammate helped me to the bench, I developed a plan of revenge. It would happen on the next shift.  Sure, I had just been knocked out cold and I was still seeing stars, but, hey, I was a hockey player.  Hockey players are tough, and I was not going to be anything less than tough.

            I got that chance on the next shift and I delivered my payback as soon as I hit the ice.  I spotted the culprit who delivered that illegal hit (for which no penalty was called since the referee “didn’t see it.”) and took three long strides toward him.  I crashed into him like a freight train smashes into a stalled car on the tracks.  After sending this punk flying into the boards, I heard a whistle.  Hell got in my face at that point, screaming at me while I skated to the penalty box.  Hell must be a tough hockey player.  I faced Hell with all my might in that brief tussle.  Not only did Hell take all my fury, Hell also vowed to find me when my time in the sin bin expired. 

            That was the longest two minutes I have ever encountered in my hockey career.  I was never penalized before, so sitting in the penalty box was a new experience.  It was well-named, since this space was no bigger than a box.  Three players were supposed to be able to fit in this tight space, but I could not understand how that could happen.  I felt like a caged animal in that tiny spot with only one foot between the small bench seat and the back of the boards forming the shape of the rink.  I could not understand how so many players in the pros would be willing to spend so much time in this spot.  Maybe this is how Hell was paying me back.  That was my line of thinking while sitting on that hard wooden bench.  Then freedom came!  The door of the penalty box swung open and my sentence ended.  I took two strides toward the center of the rink, then…..

            THUD!  That was the sound that reverberated across the entire building as my head hit the ice surface before the rest of my body followed.  There is nothing else I recall from that evening except that I woke up in a hospital bed.  That was an hour after the hit.  Here, I must disclose that the rest of the events described here are my retelling of the story as was told to me by the volunteer EMS worker.  When one is lying unconscious on a two-inch layer of ice on top of a concrete floor, he might have a hard time recalling many details that took place.

            The reason I fell in that manner is what Hell did to me when he found me.  He didn’t like it that some “punk-ass” accountant knocked him down, so he vowed to find me when my penalty time expired.  He did find me and gave me another cross-check, this time to the small of my back and completely out of my line of vision.  I was told that this hit was so hard, Hell broke his stick on this play.  The rest of the details are still fuzzy to me, even after hearing the story from others.  It doesn’t really matter.  My hockey career is over after three games.  When one meets Hell in the manner I did, he won’t want to ever do so again.  Hell is a mean, tough hockey player.  Good for Michael Hell, an executive for the same firm that employs me – he can have the title!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Poetic Pop Out

Thought of this non rhyming poem while riding home from the Mets game last night.  An attempt at a poem on an ordinary at bat.  Enjoy!

A Poetic Pop Out

The batter steps into the box
While the catcher sets in his crouch
All eyes on the pitcher
That guy with the ball
He looks in for the sign,
Nods and then winds
Screaming with speed
The ball does arrive
Batter swings his wood
Connects with horsehide
A beautiful arch
So graceful and true
Comes crashing to the end
Into a fielder' s glove.
A promising at bat
Results in an out
Sulking back to the dugout
Ready to pout
Our batter is angry,
Hurt and upset too
He's had a bad game
And we're going to play TWO?

Saturday, May 10, 2014

First baseball game of the season

Tonight I am going to my first baseball game of the season.   While the season is about six weeks old at this point, I always look forward to this event.  I have been to at least one major league game every year since my first one in 1969, so why should 2014 be any different?

Fellow baseball lovers understand this passion for the game.  It doesn't matter to me what level - college, minor leagues, major leagues - there is something special when you are at that ballpark and everything is uniform.  The distance between the pitching mound and home plate is always sixty feet six inches.   It is always 90 feet between each base.  There are always 9 players with gloves at their position in the field.   There is always a batter in the box, and there is always an umpire behind the plate ready to call balls and strikes.

There will always be three outs to the inning for the batting team, always three strikes for an out, four balls for a walk and fans who will cheer for each out, each hit, each strike.  Just taking it all in for the first time in person is a thrill for me each season.  For the 2014 season, that will be tonight when the Philadelphia Phillies play the New York Mets in New York.  I will be there, cheering on the Mets and enjoying the American Pastime.  In the spring, it just doesn't get any better than that.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Pine Tar Drabble

Here is my 100 word version of what was going through Micheal Pineda's mind when he took the mound with the infamous glob of pine tar on his neck.

The Pine Tar Drabble

It’s just a little spot on my neck.  No one will notice anything there.  On this cold night, I need something to grip the ball better.  Sure, I tried this trick before – but not like this.  Those guys didn’t notice anything then.  No one told me anything was wrong and it worked.  I threw the ball well and it was even colder that night.  So, I am doing this again – for our team.  We have to beat the defending champs, our hated rivals and their crazy fans.  Time to take the mound and shut them down with the pine tar. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A running drabble - One Foot In Front Of the Other

In honor of the Boston Marathon, and also my own adventures while running at my slow pace, I decided to write a 100 word drabble on something that every runner will think at one time or another. Here is the drabble titled "One Foot In Front Of the Other" 

“One foot in front of the other”. That’s our mantra. It is what we tell ourselves when we believe we can’t keep running any longer. I need to remember that now. I am at mile four and need one more for this run. Just put one foot in front of the other. The music isn’t inspiring. The blisters on my feet are killing me. Just put one foot in front of the other. I see the five mile mark up ahead. Can I do it? Put one foot in front of the other. This run is over – my best yet!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Getting back in the swing - a hockey poem

Admittedly, this site has suffered as I have been reading a lot of books lately and also watching more games, especially as the NHL playoffs have started and they are the best championship tourney.  So, I was guilty of simply letting this go.  But now, while watching one of these playoff hockey games, I got inspired to write

Grace and Violence

How can one game with so much passion
Turn to uncontrolled mayhem so fast?
Is it pent-up emotion, a check, a big hit?
Or is it emotions that are finally unleashed?

A threaded pass that was suddenly deflected
Found it's way to his teeth, taking two out
The victim was enraged, and it didn't matter
That it was accidental - this meant war!

Reason departed, equipment shredded
Fists were now flying, on-skate balance ended
Lying on the ice, punches are thrown
The gaping smile is readily shown

But the officials dive in, breaking it up

Restoring order and sanity soon.
The fighters leave the ice, into the box
Soon we will skate again, awaiting what is next. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

You've Come a Long Way Baby

Some people may recognize this title as the slogan for Virginia Slims, a cigarette that was marketed to women before cigarette advertising was banned on television in the early 1970’s.   However, after watching the gold medal game in women’s hockey between the United States and Canada during the 2014 Winter Olympics, I believe this slogan can also apply to the gains that this sport has made, not only in the skills of the players, but also in the excitement and interest generated.
The sport was introduced to the Olympics in 1998 with these same two countries, the United States and Canada, playing for the gold medal and the Americans coming out victorious.   Since then, the two countries have established themselves as the two best countries for developing the game, increasing interest in the game among females, and playing some exciting matches.   While the Canadians now have an 11-5 advantage in matches between the two nations for either an Olympic gold medal or a world championship, there is no shortage of bad blood between the teams.   The interviews shown on television with players on both sides showed that there is respect for the other squad, but an unbridled passion in which to win. 
This year’s game proved to be no different.  While the rules forbid checking in women’s hockey, there was no shortage of physical play.   There was a lot of hitting, extracurricular activity after the whistle blew (especially in front of each net) and the usual jawing between players.   In other words, it was much like any good game between two excellent teams. 
As a hockey fan, this game sucked me in from the start and did not let up.  The United States scored the first two goals and seemed to have the game in control until Team Canada scored on a beautiful shot late in the third period to make it a one goal game.  As any fan knows, a one-goal difference late in the game will result in more pressure and chances taken by the team trailing, including pulling the goalie.  That is just what Canada did, as they controlled the play and removed the goalie with a minute left.   Then a series of activities brought out a roller coaster of emotions in both fans and players alike.
A clearing attempt by the United States team looked like it was going to be stopped by a Canadian defenseman, but the linesman inadvertently assisted the puck out of the offensive zone.   The puck slowly slid toward the empty net, looking like the clinching goal for Team USA.  But instead the puck hit the right post and just lay outside the net.   A charging Canadian player picked up the puck, skated back down the other end, and on the ensuing rush, Team Canada scores the tying goal.  In that entire sequence, I was so spent that the overtime in which Canada scored and won the game seemed anticlimactic.   This was one of those games that I was glad to have witnessed, no matter the outcome.  
This game is what the sport is all about – heart-stopping moments, thrilling stickhandling and skating, physical play and both teams leaving everything they have out on the ice.   It doesn’t matter that these were not the male professional stars – this game had everything that makes hockey so great.  These ladies deserve a lot of praise and credit for raising the level of women’s hockey to a new height.  I can’t wait to see when this will be even better. 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

USA vs. Russia - 1980 vs. 2014

While awaiting this morning's Olympic hockey game between the USA and Russia, I could not help but think about when these same two nations met in another Olympic hockey game 34 years ago in Lake Placid, a tiny village in the Adirondack mountain range in upstate New York.  There had been many video clips showing highlights of that game and newspaper articles complete with interviews in the build up to the latest meeting between these two nations on a sheet of ice with two goals.  But I didn't need those highlights or stories to remember that game and draw comparisons to the 2014 meeting, which thus far has been the best game on the tourney thus far.

Let's get the obvious out of the way.  There is no Cold War between the two countries now like there was in 1980.  Oh sure, there are still some political tensions but there are no threats to set off a nuclear device on the other one or a military occupation of another country.  Both hockey teams are now manned by professional players. That is not the same as back then when the Russians were THE dominant team in international hockey and were compensated for playing the game and the Americans were a bunch of college kids mostly from Minnesota and Massachusetts thrown together to represent their country.  No matter the outcome in 2014, it would not produce another Miracle on Ice, Al Michaels would not ask the television viewers if they believed in miracles and it would not set off the patriotic fervor in Sochi if the host country won like the young lads did in Lake Placid.

No, all this game could hope to achieve was to produce intense, inspired hockey in front of passionate fans in the arena and viewers around the world.  On that, the 2014 version of USA vs Russia delivered.  On top of that I did find some similarities between the two games when focused on the ice.

Like in 1980, Russia struck first with a nice goal.  Unlike 1980 when Vladimir Krutov deflected a slap shot into the net, Pavel Datsuyk split two USA defenders to give Russia a 1-0 lead. When Cam Fowler tied the game up seven minutes later I had flashbacks to Mark Johnson scoring with one second left in the first period in 1980 to tie up that game 2-2.  At least Fowler' s goal didn't lead to a goaltending change like the Johnson goal did.

In the third period, Joe Pavelski (almost wrote Pavelich, a 1980 Team USA member named Mark) and Datsuyk traded goals, setting up an unbelievably tense last 10 minutes.  Unlike 1980 when the US was desperately clinging to a 4-3 lead , the two teams filled with NHL stars were trading punches, not giving in.  It seemed that Team Russia was going to send its fans home happy when they drilled in a shot from the left point with about four minutes left.  But here was the 2014 Miracle for the US - the goal was waved off because the net was lodged off its moorings on an earlier save by goalie Jonathan Quick.

The teams stayed tied and want to overtime, something that wasn't done in 1980.  Sergei Bobovsky made a great save on a breakaway by Patrick Kane that was the best scoring chance of overtime.  The tension by now was as much as it was for me as a fan as it was in 1980.  In 1980, I was standing in front of the TV for the last five minutes screaming at every save made by Jim Craig.  In 2014 I was standing during the overtime, screaming for Kane to convert.  Didn't work as well 34 years later, so now it was onto another new wrinkle in Olympic hockey since the pros started participating...the shootout.

Unlike the shootout in the NHL, a team can use the same players to shoot after the first three attempts.  In those first three, each team scored once.  T.J. Oshie scored for Team USA, Ilya Kovalchuk for Team Russia.  After that, it was a duel between these two snipers save for one missed shot by Datsuyk.  Both of the shooters and both of the goaltenders were incredible during this shootout, with Oshie prevailing by putting a puck past Bobovsky with a move that seemed to be in slow motion.  Again I had a flashback to 1980, but to a much quicker shot by Mike Eruzione that put the US ahead for good in that game.

Because the 2014 game ended in a shootout instead of skaters throwing their equipment in jubilation doesn't mean the latest game didn't have a touching moment at the end.  When Oshie turned around after scoring the winning goal and pointing to Jonathan Quick, I thought of Jim Craig skating around the rink wrapped in the flag looking for his father.  Both Oshie and Craig, heroes for their teams in thrilling wins against great Russian teams, both wanted to share the moment with someone special.  I guess you can repeat history in Olympic hockey, even if everything seemed so different.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Winter Olympics thoughts

This won't be a story, drabble or any structured essay about a sport.  Admittedly I have spent the time that I would otherwise read or write during the last week watching the Winter Olympics.  I certainly like them more than the Summer Olympics as I have already watched much more of these games than I did during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

While watching the women's curling match between Great Britan and the United States, I couldn't help but feel bad for the American ladies when the Brits scored 7 points in one end. It had to be tough on the wrong end of a record  like that.

Having seen several hockey games thus far for both men and women, I have to say the only disappointment with those tourneys so far is the officiating.  Between the goal for Team Canada that clearly went into the net after the whistle blew and Jonathan Quick losing his shutout on a goal that shouldn't have counted because of a blown offside call, I hope the men and women in stripes get better as more games are played.

I felt a lot of heartache for those Nordic skiiers who were collapsing at the finish line because of the heavy snow that made their races even more physically demanding than they already were.

While I don't pay a lot of attention to snowboarding, it is interesting to see other nations have caught up to the country that invented the sport, namely the United States.

Finally, while it's hard to believe that it's already been one week, it is also comforting to realize that there is still a lot more of these Winter Olympics to go.  I am loving them so far and hope that you are as well.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Biathlon drabble

Now that the Olympics have started, time to write about some of the sports that won't get the same exposure as those like hockey and figure skating. Today's selection is on the biathlon - a mixture of cross-country skiing and shooting. Happy reading.

My sanity has often been questioned. Not just by others, but by myself as well. What joy is there in grinding out kilometer after kilometer over hilly terrain in skis, only to be required to shoot a rifle when I reach that goal? Then, I need to actually hit the target with each shot? What the heck am I, some type of superman? Between my slow times on the trails and my inaccuracy with the gun, I never thought I would be a biathlete. But here I am, in the Olympic stadium, representing my country in biathlon. I made it!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Outdoor Hockey Haiku

As the NHL Stadium Series winds down, I wrote a quick haiku on the outdoor hockey games that have been played - with the exception of the one at Dodger Stadium as they did not experience this type of weather.  I hope you enjoy this short little poem.

Outdoor Hockey

Windy, cold and snow
Ice is shiny and solid
Pucks fly into nets

Monday, January 27, 2014

Pairs figure skating drabble

Continuing with the Olympics theme, today's excercise is a drabble on pairs figure skating and what the audience would see when one of the more common routines is performed. I hope you enjoy reading it.

Skating Elegance

This couple has it all. Look at how they complement each other in every way, with every move. They glide together on one skate in tandem. He lifts her effortlessly. When he tosses her, it would be expected to hear a gasp from spectators. But not for these two – instead she turns two complete spins in the air, plants her right skate deeply into the ice and gracefully moves in a circle. He rushes to her side, holds her at the waist and guides her to the rink’s center. They move gracefully as the crowd awaits the next majestic routine.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

An Olympics haiku

The Olympics

Nations gather here
Every four years at the site
Celebrating sport

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Thoughts on rediscovering something you love

Instead of a drabble, poem or story today, I wanted to just share a thought I had about rediscovery last night.

I have watched very little professional basketball this year, something that is strange for me as I have been a fan for a very long time and it was the sport in which I played the longest in my younger days.  This season, I just could not get interested as both of the teams here in the New York metro area had very bad starts to this season, and I have only got to see my favorite team, the Minnesota Timberwolves, once this year.

Last night, I decided to turn on the Brooklyn Nets as they have played very well since the start of the new year.  They faced the Dallas Mavericks and it turned out to be a very good game with the Nets winning 107-106.   It was the first game that I watched start to finish this season.   I felt like I was rediscovering basketball.  Even though I could never say I "hated" it, I just didn't have the interest.  Now, it feels like an awakening.   I now wish I hadn't stayed away for so long.  I felt like I missed a lot.

But that was in the past.  Like someone who has fallen out of love, then back in love, the future is what is important.  Don't be beaten by what wasn't, instead look forward to what will be.  I am looking forward to seeing more games, hopefully many wins by both the Nets and the Timberwolves, and enjoying the rest of the NBA season.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Curling drabble - Papa Was a Sliding Stone

Soon the Winter Olympics will be upon us. That means my once-every-four-years addiction to curling will soon be here. To get ready for it, I wrote today's drabble on curling. Specifically, the adventure of that stone gliding down the ice.

Papa Was a Sliding Stone

As I glide down the immaculate sheet of ice, I am wondering what will become of me. Will I settle into the kitchen? Will I be a shield, always a fun job? Will I just be out of place and removed for the game? Oh, the agony of waiting. But I have confidence in the skip. She will set me free at the right time and speed. Her sweepers are awesome, clearing a path for me in rapid rhythm. As they move away, the end of the journey is here. BAM! I knock another stone out! Take that, stupid rock!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Boxing drabble - Taking a Punch

It's nice when a quick thought pops in my head and I can create a short story or essay about it right away. I was thinking about those images while watching a boxing match when a punch is thrown. We viewers get to see some amazing sights, and those were on my mind when I wrote this drabble about a punch in a match.

Taking a Punch 

It was as devastating as it appeared. As soon as the leather of the glove made contact with the boxer’s jaw, many objects took flight. Beads of sweat, hairs off his head, even his mouth guard moved in an upward flight when the sharp uppercut punch found its target. The victim’s resolve was evident in his face. His eyes, already partially shut by earlier punches, reversed their closure. His legs grew wobbly, but amazingly he stayed on his feet. This was simply another punch. He has taken thousands of them through the years. What’s one more? This one won’t hurt.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Hat Trick Drabble

Today's drabble is about a fan who has seen a hat trick at a hockey game, but has a crisis. What is that crisis? Why, read the story and find out! (You didn't think I would give the whole thing away did you?) Enjoy!

The Hat Trick 

I have been wearing this cap at every game for the last four seasons. In all that time, I never had to make this decision, as I always brought another lid just in case. I always used that spare if the situation arose. But I forgot it tonight and now am troubled. Smith put the puck in the net for the third time tonight. Of course that means I toss a hat on the ice. In my rush, I didn’t bring another one. So what do I do? Hat tricks are rare – so naturally I tossed it.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Short essay of an item at a ball park

This is a common site at baseball games everywhere. No matter the level of play or the size of the park, everyone who has been to a baseball game has seen a similar sight. In order to understand what I mean, read this short essay I wrote about an ordinary occurrence at the park. 

A Ballpark Journey 

Quietly a flight takes off. The object was propelled by the wind, unsuspecting to both it and the people in the vicinity. No warnings were issued. A simple gust was all that it took to launch it from its anticipated resting place and into uncharted territory. 

Because this item has no engine or any other means of propulsion, it is left to the mercy of the winds. Those were enough on this day, however, to carry it to great heights. After leaving the stunned crowd, it leaped high in the air – high enough to sail over any object in its path to the lush green grassy field. 

There it joined many other items of similar backgrounds. Some of them took different paths to this final destination. Some came from the east side, some from the west. Some of them were twisted and swirled in many different directions before eventually coming to rest in this soft landing spot. 

This particular hot dog wrapper, however, gently floated to the grass just behind the pitcher’s mound. It was a moment of pure bliss before someone picked it up and sent it to the final resting place. That journey would not be as peaceful and simple as this one.

Monday, January 20, 2014

A Speed Skating Drabble

With the Winter Olympics fast approaching, it's time to get into the spirit of the Games.  To do so, I wrote tonight's drabble on one of the sports of the Winter Olympics, speed skating.  There will be more selections on Olympic sports as the Games get closer.  Enjoy this first Olympics drabble.

A Speed Skating Story

The ice is smooth and the lanes are marked.  Standing on the toe of my skate, I am dashing with short choppy movements as soon as the horn sounds.  Gliding along the sheet of ice, I cross my legs to change lanes.  The ease of these movements makes me feel so free.  As I approach the starting point and change lanes again, I realize that my strides are now long, graceful and infrequent.  The finish line is approaching and I have never felt more relaxed than I do right now.  My world is here in the rink. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Basketball shot drabble

For my next drabble, I decided to write about a shot in basketball from the ball's point of view.  I must say that I am finding drabbles a great way to write something every day.   It isn't easy to tell a story in exactly one hundred words - but I sure enjoy creating them.  I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I did writing it.

The Journey of a Basketball Shot

I was scared.  I left the warmth of a man’s hands and now am wayward.  He jumped before letting me go.  The last touch I felt from him was his fingertips.  He let them glide over me until I was free.  I noticed that I was higher than ever before.  But then I started a downward spiral.  I was spinning faster, destined to crash into an orange object.  There was an opening!  I hoped that I would pass through it.   While I did, I also felt a brush of nylon.  Success!  A good shot!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Drabble about a penalty kick

Another day, another drabble - the best way to try to meet the goal of writing something every day.  Today's selection is told from the goalkeeper's point of view and the subject is the soccer penalty kick.   

Keeper’s Dilemma

It taunts me. The ball resting on the penalty mark is torturing me.  I must decide which way this evil object will fly so I can keep it out of the goal. High or low?  Left or right?  The pressure is killing me!   Here it comes – struck by the right foot of the faker who drew that stupid foul call.   No more time to think – I must move. I will dive low and to the left. Alas, I was wrong. That bloody sphere hit the net in the upper right corner. Another penalty kick that sailed past me. 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Hockey Drabble about a goal

Realizing I had not written anything here for awhile, I am getting back on the wagon. After watching my favorite hockey team score four goals last night, decided to make my next drabble about a goal. Enjoy.

He Shoots, He Scores!

The defenseman was perfectly positioned just inside the blue line. He caught the gliding puck deftly with the curve of his stick. Turning to face the goal, target in sight, the blade rose swiftly above his head. It came back down with blinding speed, striking the black disk with immense force. Momentum shifted hard from stick to puck, sending the biscuit flying rapidly only inches above the ice. It screamed past one opponent, one teammate and finally the goaltender, not slowing down until that puck struck white twine. It’s a goal! The celebration can now begin.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A Home Run drabble

In honor of Frank Thomas being elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, I decided to write a drabble about something that he did 521 times during his career - hit a home run.   Here is my latest baseball drabble.  I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I did writing it. 

The Home Run

I knew that it had a chance as soon as contact was made. The ball looked huge. My bat moved just right.  The crack – oh, that crack is such a lovely sound – was crisp and sweet. The trajectory was high, straight and majestic. The pitcher immediately turned his head around.  The catcher just stood.  The center fielder did not move a muscle.  Everyone in the park knew what this meant. The ball sailed over the wall. I started my jog, accepting congratulations from my coaches.  I touched home plate, said a brief prayer, and took my seat.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Fumble Redemption - a football drabble

For my first entry of 2014, I decided to write a drabble inspired by one of the most incredible football games I have watched.  During the Indianapolis Colts' huge comeback against the Kansas City Chiefs, Colts quarterback Andrew Luck recovered a fumble for a touchdown.  I decided to write a drabble about that play.   I hope you enjoy "Fumble Redemption" and feel free to leave a comment.  Happy New Year!

Fumble Redemption

It was a horrible game for the quarterback.  Passes were dropped, snaps were missed and the team was losing badly.   Just when it seemed that it couldn’t get worse, it did.  A poor exchange with the fullback resulted in a fumble.  The ball was like an infant, waiting for anyone to pick it up. 

That was the moment when everything changed.  Instead of wallowing in pity, the quarterback’s instincts took over.  He scooped it up, lunged two steps forward, and dove forward like a stunt man. This dive was into the end zone!  Touchdown!  He now felt redeemed.