Olympics Open Under a ‘Cloud of Suspicion’

The Games of the XXX Olympiad, London 2012, get under way today, and that’s mostly good news – except that I recently became aware of a grave injustice that was perpetrated just days before the opening ceremony: The competition to choose the official cheer squad for the UK Olympic squad, or Team GB, was rigged!

Yes, the bombastic squad of hard-working and highly talented young ladies known as The Crystals – who cheer for the Crystal Palace Football Club – won two public votes to select the squad, but the voices of the people were overruled by the person in charge, Alesha Dixon, who is a judge on BRITAIN’S GOT TALENT, who selected another group of girls – the North London Wildcats, who perform a more modest and stunt-oriented routine. (Does this have anything with the Roman numeral for the 30th Olympiad being three X’s?)

Needless to say, we should not let this tyranny stand! In solidarity with The Crystals, I present their audition number, set to Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe,” so that these young professionals can get the proper exposure they deserve!

The Crystals showed what a class act they were by Tweeting to their supporters:

“Thanks everyone who voted for us to be Team GB cheerleaders. Despite winning both votes, we did not win. Congrats to North London Wildcats! We won the public vote but unfortunately didn’t get chosen.”

Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist Captures Vezina Trophy

Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers was finally awarded the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s outstanding goalie for the 2011-’12 season. Lundqvist capped his seventh pro season by winning the accolade on his fourth nomination.

It’s hard to express how proud I am of Hank, who was like a brick wall in backstopping the Rangers to their best finish since the 1993-’94 season, when they won it all. In my book, he should have won the Hart Trophy as the league’s MVP, because the Blueshirts would have gone nowhere without the King between the pipes, let posting the best record in the Eastern Conference (and second in the league) and surviving deep into the conference finals.
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Happy Anniversary, New York Rangers!

It was on this date in 1994, a mere 18 years ago, that the Blueshirts ended a 54-year drought quest and brought the Stanley Cup back to New York at last. This feat was accomplished by the Messiah, Mark Messier, whose leadership of the Rangers crowned one of the most incredible careers in NHL history.

But the Captain didn’t quite do it alone; he had help from the Rangers other stars, Brian Leetch and Adam Graves — who scored the other two goals in the 3-2 victory — and all-world goalie Mike Richter. And let’s not forget the contributions of role players like Steve Larmer — who took so many crucial faceoffs in the final moments of the game. I can remember watching this at home with my brother and our good friend Brian, agonizing over those final ticks of the clock! And then… jubilation! I’ll never forget that win. As the sign said, “Now I Can Die in Peace.”
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Matt the Torch-bearer

It’s the big Memorial Day holiday weekend here in the States, so I don’t have much time to fulfill my blogging obligation. (Plus, I know those of you not in the USA couldn’t care less about our holidays and want a new post!) I saw this fun photo and thought it would be appropriate.

Current Doctor Matt Smith carried the Olympic torch through Cardiff, Wales, today, though not in character — he was acting strictly as himself. I think he looks like he’s having fun.

There was significant clamor in the fan community to have David Tennant not only carry the torch but light the flame in the Olympic stadium in character as the Ninth Doctor, since he’d already been seen doing it in the much-maligned second season episode Fear Her. I hear that David was offered the chance to carry the torch but nixed it. So I’m glad Matt literally took up the torch and carried on for Whovians everywhere.

Goodbye, 2011-’12 Rangers

This is the way the world ends: a pileup, a scrum, and a little black blip skitters into the net.

I don’t know who scored, and I don’t care who scored. All that matters is he was wearing a red sweater, it was overtime, and my New York Rangers have been eliminated from the Stanley Cup tournament. The finals are next for some folks, but not me; the NHL season is over. My Rangers are out.

After a long, hard-knock season that began in Europe and ended in the swamps of the Garden State; after winning the Winter Classic and featuring on HBO’s 24/7; after my brother and I went to dozen of home games at MSG and sang the goal song in the balmy humidity of Indian summer and the frigid depths of a cold, virtually snowless winter; after all that, it’s all over.
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Shanahan Springs Into Action!

In the words of Ronald Reagan: “Well, there you go again…”

Former New York Ranger and longtime New Jersey Devil Brendan Shanahan, who is currently the NHL senior vice president of player safety, has scheduled a hearing for tomorrow morning to pretend to listen to New York Ranger Brandon Prust’s side of the story in the case of a high elbow from Saturday’s game against the Devils. Then Shanahan will mouth some tripe about “player safety” and suspend Prust for one to three games.
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Will Shanahan Challenge Ovechkin?

OK, so here’s the situation, as detailed in this video clip: Washington Capitals star forward Alex Ovechkin leaps off the ice to deliver a tremendous blow to the head of New York Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi. Ovechkin was handed a two-minute penalty for charging, which he clearly did. However, this case also clearly calls for supplementary discipline from the league — suspension and fines — but it looks like that probably is not going to happen.

Ovechkin, who apparently likes to leave his feet to deliver savage blows only slightly less than he enjoys breathing, more than fits the criteria established by Brendan Shanahan, NHL senior vice president of player safety, as a repeat offender. The video also shows that the primary point of contact was the head.

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NHL’s Shanahan Fails Yet Again

Brendan Shanahan, NHL senior vice president of player safety, has once again proved that if he is not flipping a coin to decide whether to discipline players, he must be trying to confuse the players and fans. His rulings – and non-rulings – have been so wildly inconsistent as to beggar the imagination. If he was purposely attempting to make people believe that he was ruling randomly, he could not do a better job.

The man does not mete out justice fairly. He is so scattershot in his rulings, that there is no way players or clubs could possibly anticipate what he is going to do next. The one thing – the one thing – an authority figure should be is consistent. Even if he Shanahan is unfair, he should be unfair to everyone. Parents need to present a united front in order to instill discipline in a child. If Dad decides one day that the penalty for sneaking a cookie before dinner is no TV before bed, and the next day there’s no punishment, and the day after that the kid is grounded for six months –what’s the penalty for sneaking a cookie? Who knows? Ask Brendan Shanahan.
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Farewell, Mario and Brandon…

Manningham on the run...

So, it has begun again: The New York Football Giants are releasing players and letting a talented receiver sign with another team. Can this be a harbinger of another title next season? After all, it worked last year…

After delivering his second Super Bowl title in five years, General Manager Jerry Reese has earned my trust. He had a secret plan that he shared with no one during the last offseason, so I will not question his moves this years. The man has an uncanny knack for identifying talent, so he deserves our indulgence. As long as the master plan ends with Eli Manning hoisting his third Lombardi trophy, I’m all in!
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Pressing Issues at Sports Press Conferences

Rex Ryan

I want to take a look at a couple of interesting announcements that came out of the world of sports yesterday, both involving guys named Ryan: Rex Ryan of the New York Jets, and Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers.

Calling last year’s guarantee of a Super Bowl victory a “huge mistake,” New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan refused to make a similar boast to reporters yesterday at this year’s NFL Scouting Combine. The fact that the combine is traditionally held in Indianapolis – the city in which Ryan’s cross-stadium rivals, the New York Football Giants, won Super Bowl XLVI over the Jets’ divisional rival, the New England Patriots – surely had nothing to do with Ryan’s newfound humility.
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