Thursday, June 19, 2008

I can't wait for 8-8-08!

Welcome to the summer sports doldrums. The NBA finals -- which I actually watched this year -- are now over and it is months away from football season. How is a gal to amuse herself?

One could make the argument that baseball is in full swing, and of course, it is. However, the Braves aren't doing anything exciting right now, other than Chipper making a run at a .400 season average, which would be the first player to do so since Ted Williams way back in 1941. He is exactly at .400 right now, after suffering a short slump in the last week or so. A yearly tradition, I wait with bated breath in hopes that he doesn't have yet another season-ruining injury, which has happened the last umpteen seasons. John Smoltz, another one of my "vintage" Braves favorites, is already out for the season and has been for several weeks. The Braves have a phenomenal home record but can't seem to buy a victory on the road... yet somehow they are in the hunt. They are currently 5 1/2 games back and tied for third in the NL East.

All these somewhat interesting storylines aside, it's the down-and-dirty middle of the season where players are worn out, many of them slumping, and it's way too early to make any meaningful post-season projections. Stanley Cup ended, as did the NBA Finals. College football and NFL are months away.

In the relative abyss though, there is something I can't wait for: the Summer Olympics! Thank goodness this year is an Olympic year, because the barren sportscape for the summer is too much of a depressing thought to take. (Though I guess there's Eurocup soccer, which I've been watching a decent amount of at work. I swear it's on for everyone, not just me!)

As most of America knows, the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics start on 8-8-08, thanks to NBC's recent advertising blitz. And to use a hackneyed old adage, the world will be watching. The unabashed evidence of corporate sponsorship during commercials for the month of August, the political implications, and oh yeah, some of the best displays of athletic prowess we'll see in years to come... all boiling in a cauldron of the "only-once-every-four-years" excitement, how can anyone deny it?

While all these storylines are indeed interesting to me, I am (obviously) most exuberant about the sports. I live to watch the swimming events all day, and love to cheer on the Red, White and Blue as they destroy (or attempt to) the Land Down Under in relays. I marvel at the incredible maneuvers athletes are able to accomplish in both gymnastics and diving. And what sort of uncivilized person doesn't enjoy watching track and field? And then there's volleyball, water polo, soccer, basketball, and other countless entertaining team sports. And while I may not understand synchronized swimming, I must admit, it's baffling how much people can accomplish while holding their collective breaths underwater. And other than the wedgie-picking, I love beach volleyball too.

So needless to say, August 8th can't come soon enough. Another stellar Olympics is coming, and I can't hide my enthusiasm! Here's to hoping the next month and a half zoom by so we can get 'em started!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


So the poor, poor deprived Boston fans got themselves another championship. Celtics beat the Lakers in game 6 of the NBA Finals. Yawn. Since I am neither a celebrity nor a Lakers fan, I found myself somehow pulling for Boston in a league in which I'm incredibly indifferent.

I did however learn today that LSU's "Big Baby" Glen Davis is on the Celtics today. Who knew? I told my roommate this today and it's so true... when a college player goes into the NBA, for me he pretty much fades into obscurity. Kinda strange considering that very same event signals his entering the consciousness of most of the rest of the population.

At least there is one statistic the non-bandwagon and non-New England part of the population can find solace in: 18-1. I will be laughing about that one for quite a while. Here's a picture reminder for good measure.

That picture is a beaut!

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Advertising Ivy League

So today I was internet-ing and I stumbled upon (though not by using StumbleUpon) a list of advertising agencies that allegedly compose an unspoken Ivy League. I've thought about the concept a few times and was curious if anyone had ever ventured to publish a list, and somewhat serendipitously found this today.

According to the daily (ad) biz, these are today's Ivy League advertising institutions (as of May 2008):
And of course Honorable Mentions... aka "Bubble Teams":
While I don't pretend to know any more than the next ad enthusiast, I'd be surprised to see CP+B, Goodby, and W+K not on the list. TBWA is a far from shocking inclusion as well. I was happy of course to see Virginia is for Lovers' (of old) (The) Martin Agency on the honorable mention short list though.

In an industry so volatile, you can never be certain how long any agency can maintain Ivy League status. This list (though a blogger's opinion) could well be obsolete in a matter of months. Either way, it was enjoyable to see a blogger venture to rank the advertising world's titans for the rest of us to contemplate.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Honk for the Pens

So during my two weeks on the East Coast I got some time to travel to some of my favorite places: New York, Pittsburgh (for my brother's graduation and to see relatives), Richmond, and even a quick jaunt over to soak some rays in Virginia Beach. I did lots of flying, and even had a quick mini train trip up to DC. Lots of places in not a lot of time.

My dad picked me up from the airport in Pittsburgh and chauffeured me to my grandparents' house where I spent a few days relaxing with relatives. The hockey playoffs (though not Stanley Cup) playoffs were in full swing, and as usual the city was bleeding black and gold, though for once, not always for the Steelers.

We drove on (PA) Route 51 to my grandparents' house and my dad and I suddenly noticed that lots of people decided to start honking their car horns for no apparent reason. Then all of a sudden I saw what was stirring the commotion:

Yes, on the side of busy Route 51 was a large Stanley Cup erected from aluminum foil ("tin foil" to use proper Pittsburghese). The chintzy yet endearing masterpiece was accompanied by a "Honk for the Pens" sign. Based on my limited sampling, the message was greeted with substantial success and lots of honking.

I tried my darndest to get my camera out of my bag and snap a picture before we sped by, but of course I failed. I vowed to myself that I would try to find a picture later, but since neither my grandparents nor parents have non-dial-up internet, I figured the story most likely would end there.

However, this morning I remembered the silly and amusing roadside spectacle and ran a search in Google for it. Sure enough someone had blogged about it already! Fantastic. They also were able to get a picture (albeit blurry), so I was exceedingly pleased.

Anyway, I'm sure Librari[d]an will never read my blog, but if for some reason he ever does, I just want to let you know that this find made my day. Go Pens (and my utmost affection for the city of Pittsburgh for its boundless enthusiasm and fandom)!

Friday, June 6, 2008

June is for Hockey, of course

So other than a very brief stint in elementary school, I've never really watched much NHL. I remember one Christmas when I was younger I got a Pittsburgh Penguins jacket and was pretty psyched, but growing up in the Richmond area, there just weren't rinks around for hockey, let alone ice skating. We eventually did get a rink, in late high school, but by that point I had already picked up just about every other sport and had been playing for years. Other than the semester I briefly considered taking it for a PE credit (and instead opted for skiing), the sport rarely entered my radar.

Anyway, my brother just graduated from college in Pittsburgh and I got to spend a few weeks on the East Coast during this past month, and during much of it I had some quality time to hang out with him. Well apparently in his last year he's become quite a fan of the hometown Penguins. It was fun talking to him about it, and his sudden enthusiasm certainly piqued my interest. We caught a few moments of an early playoff game at a bar right before his graduation dinner (in Pittsburgh) and I caught several more of the Stanley Cup games this week.

Anyway, like any good kid who has over 30 (40? 50?) relatives in the Pittsburgh area, I have (re-)decided my team was the Penguins. I caught several of the games this past week including an unbelievably exciting triple-overtime Stanley Cup game 5. The last 3 minutes of game 6 weren't a slouch either. After an electrifying win in game 5, the Pens fell in the waning tenths-of-a-second in game 6, to the Detroit Red Wings. It was a hard fought series, and hopefully NBC's decision to air several of the final games will result in the sport gaining more fans. I know this is one of them. I look forward to the return of Crosby, Malkin, and the boys, and their taking of the Cup next year (bandwagon much?).

Pittsburgh's game winning goal for 4-3 victory in triple overtime of Stanley Cup game 5.

Other headlines: Celtics vs Lakers in the NBA Finals. I can't bear to listen to any further ESPN analyses rehashing past Celts/Lakers matchups from the Magic Johnson-Larry Bird era. I can almost guarantee that in the coming years the current (2008) Finals will be of no comparison to the nostalgia of the old contests.

Picture Source: NY Daily News