Hope Springs Eternal February 24, 2008Posted by Amy in sports.
Tags: Amy Yen, baseball, Bryan Curtis, MLB, sports, spring training, StrawGrasping, Texas Monthly, texas rangers
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Really loved this “open letter” to Texas Rangers fans by Bryan Curtis in Texas Monthly. Here’s the first paragraph:
“Welcome to the 2008 Texas Rangers season! We’re glad you’ll be joining us for year 36 of our eternal rebuilding project. You’re one of the hardy few who still make the trek out to Arlington, lay down $70 for an infield seat, and by the third pitching change of an error-filled, 12—3 blowout are lying facedown in the Jose Cuervo Gold Club. (An actual stadium club, mind you, not Rangers fans taking the bottle.) We’re writing to salute you, Rangers fan. You have a special psychological condition that has allowed you, in the face of utter hopelessness, to remain, well, slightly hopeful.”
Great stuff, especially I’ve been hearing quite a few overly optimistic statements lately despite the fact that once again, we have done pretty much nothing to improve during the offseason. The Rangers are the worst kind of team too, because they always seem to get monumentally better immediately after there is absolutely no chance of them making the playoffs, causing fans & management to stupidly think, hey! Maybe this thing isn’t as far away as we thought! There’s no need to do anything during the offseason! And then, of course, they come out in the spring & they’re still the same old horrible Rangers they were last year. God, why do I care??
BTW, I especially love that, through all this, ticket prices continue to go up.
“What’s the difference between Vincent Lecavalier & Tom Brady?” February 3, 2008Posted by Amy in sports.
Tags: Amy Yen, Brett Hull, Dallas Stars, hockey, marketing, Matt Niskanen, Mike Modano, NHL, sports, StrawGrasping, Tom Hicks, Versus, Vincent Lecavalier
Really enjoyed this article on Canada.com on how Brett Hull is doing now that he’s gone from “Ambassador of Fun” to co-general manager of the Stars in the span of about six months. Sure, it’s a little unstable that Hull suddenly went from having responsibilities like appearing in TV commercials to help Mike Modano campaign for the All-Star team to responsibilities like making a serious decision about whether or not to trade the most promising rookie the Stars have seen in years, Matt Niskanen, for a scoring winger for Mike Modano’s line. And you kind of get the feeling that Tom Hicks gave him the job because Brett Hull is the only name he recognized on the payroll that he could promote when he fired Doug Armstrong. But you can’t say that it hasn’t worked out so far.
I liked this bit from Hull. Good to see he can still talk about nothing at all when he feels like it:
“My God, you drink a lot of coffee in this job. I mean, you practically can’t function without a venti latte from Starbucks to start the day. On the road, there must be 40 ounces of coffee going in a day. You get up, you have coffee, you go to the rink, you have coffee, you want to meet with someone, you say ‘let’s have a coffee.’ You’re in the press box, you drink coffee. Game’s close, you drink more coffee.
“That’s a lot of coffee.”
The article also talks about one of the things that kills me the most about the NHL…Hully agrees with me:
“For the life of him, Hull can’t understand why the league isn’t plugging its talent more aggressively. He’s not alone there. Those commercials a couple years back, Room Service featuring Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin, or the Swedish Twins, starring Daniel and Henrik Sedin, were bright, breezy and generated a ton of interest.
More like those, please.
‘We’ve got to bring out the personalities…I mean, look at Lecavalier. Male model looks, six-foot-four, a stud. A marketing dream, right?
‘I turn on the TV or pick up a paper and who do I see? Tom Brady. Why don’t I see Lecavalier everywhere I turn? What’s the difference between Vincent Lecavalier and Tom Brady?’ “
You can’t make marketers use NHL players for endorsements, but you can use the commodities that you’ve got—these players who all have these awesome, selling personalities—and you can use them to market yourself. To be real, there really isn’t much wrong with the commercials they’re running…the problem is, they only run them during hockey games. Preaching to the choir. If you want to reach a wider audience, run ads during football & basketball games. The problem with hockey is, since the national broadcasts are now on a channel that nobody ever just surfs to—I mean, you have to really be looking for it to come across Versus—people never just come across a game & sit down to watch. They just forget about you. You have to remind them you exist & you’re awesome & they should drop in sometime because they’re missing out on a great show.
Maybe Tom Hicks didn’t know what he was doing when he put Hull in a position where people have to listen to him, but regardless, he’s there now & he’s talking, & that’s a start.
Ad Post: Nike: 35 Years of Greatness January 30, 2008Posted by Amy in advertising, sports.
Tags: advertising, Air Jordan XXIII, Andre Agassi, Brian Urlacker, Ilya Kovulchuk, Lance Armstrong, Marcus Naslund, Marion Jones, Michael Jordan, Michael Vick, Nike, Nike ads, Nike hockey, Randy Johnson, Serena Williams, Shawn Merriman, sports, Steven Jackson, Tiger Woods, Wieden+Kennedy, YouTube
So I thought the most important day of the year for advertising (although I’m starting to think we’re going to be disappointed again, based on some of the sneak peeks we’ve been seeing) coming up this weekend was a good excuse to put up a post I’ve been wanting to do for a while. Of all the commercials out there, there’s no brand whose spots I enjoy watching more than Nike. Perhaps you’ve seen their latest for their Jordan brand:
Air Jordan XXIII 1:00 spot
Agency: Wieden+Kennedy Portland
As Nike advertising so often does, it takes something as simple as still photos & old footage, builds it up with powerful music & a powerful message & makes it inspiring. Nobody does it better.
So when I was looking for that spot, I got trapped in a YouTube timewaste watching other Nike commercials. Here are some of my favorites…what are yours?
See Lance Ride
There are no words in this poignant ad, just a lovely instrumental soundtrack & buffalo, bikers & young cancer patients, all drawn to Lance Armstrong as he rides through the countryside. This ad came out in the height of the Live Strong yellow bracelet craze, during the summer Armstrong rode to his historic sixth Tour de France win & I interned at the Lance Armstrong Foundation & read letters from people all over the world, drawn to him, just like in this spot.
“A little bit of history being served up to us by Tiger Woods.”
A utterly whimsical spot takes video of six-year-old Tiger Woods playing golf and sliced it seemlessly into footage of the since-more-accomplished Woods’ play at the British Open. In the background, Ron Wood & Ronnie Lane of the The Faces sing, “I wish that I knew what I know now, when I was younger…”
Is there an ad that better depicts the spirit of football? At the end, right before the screen goes black, with Steven Jackson versus six guys, that last moment… that is all every fan wants of every athlete they root for.
“This guy can do anything!”
In terms of innovation, who but Nike would do this? Andre Agassi playing baseball, Marion Jones doing gymnastics, Brian Urlacker & Michael Vick playing hockey (“Two minutes for roughing for Vick & obviously not happy about it”) & Lance Armstrong boxing, tell me the last line doesn’t give you goosebumps.
Notes from NHL All-Star Saturday January 26, 2008Posted by Amy in sports.
Tags: Alexander Ovechkin, All-Star Saturday, Amy Yen, ESPN, hockey, Ilya Kovalchuk, Manny Lagace, NHL, NHL All-Star Game, Rick DiPietro, Sidney Crosby, sports, StrawGrasping, SuperSkills competition, Versus, Young Stars Game
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Okay, so here’s what I don’t understand. You’re the NHL. Nobody cares about you except for me and like four other people. You insist on signing a three-year extension to continue wasting away in the sightless oblivion known as Versus instead doing what any league that really cared about reaching a wider audience would have done, which is crawl on hands and knees back to ESPN2 and beg them to squeeze you in around the Spelling Bee & drag racing.
Alright, so you say on Versus, you’re their top priority so you’ll be showcased more and get as much airtime as you want. But that hasn’t been the case at all. You’re still only showing games a couple of times a week. There’s no nightly highlight show in the vein of the great NHL2Night. And All-Star Weekend, an event specifically designed to showcase your biggest stars, receives the same limited coverage it always has.
What, do they need to keep the airways open for bass fishing and the rodeo?
This is why the NFL is awesome December 27, 2007Posted by Amy in sports, TV.
Tags: Amy Yen, football, NFL, NFL Network, NHL, sports, sports broadcasts, StrawGrasping
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Why is the NFL the undisputed top sports league in America? Because when they make a big marketing mistake–such as allowing the NFL Network to have exclusive rights to a number of games each season–they recognize it as such…and fix it. Hello? NHL? Are you paying attention?
Having games exclusively on the NFL Network not only forced the millions of fans who don’t have, & in many cases, can’t get, the channel to go to a bar to watch the game, but it also subjected those who did watch to a shamefully inferior broadcast production. Even worse, some of the games that the network received this season were among the most anticipated and important of the year, including the battle between the top teams in the NFC, Dallas & Green Bay, &, most disasterously of all, this week’s New York/New England game when the Patriots will have a chance to complete a perfect 16-0 season…& millions of fans weren’t going to get to watch.
So what did the NFL do? They made a deal with their regular broadcast affiliates, CBS & NBC, to nationally simulcast the game, so their entire audience would be able to tune in & potentially witness history.
Now that is remarkable.
It’s not about the goals December 25, 2007Posted by Amy in movies, sports.
Tags: Amy Yen, Bob Dill, canada, hockey, Ian Laperriere, Montreal Canadiens, movies, Rocket Richard, Sean Avery, sports, StrawGrasping, Vinny Lecavalier
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I finally got a chance to see “The Rocket,” the movie about NHL scoring legend Maurice Richard the other night. Being the long-suffering hockey fan that I am, it probably would have been one of the few movies I would have shelled out $10 to see on opening night, except it was only released in theatres in Canada & a few major American markets. So it was nice to able to finally see it on DVD, about two years after its release.
In the grand tradition of sports movies, ultimately it wasn’t about the hockey at all. “The Rocket” is the story of Maurice “The Rocket” Richard, who was a French-Canadian playing for the Montreal Canadiens back in the 1940s & 50s. The movie mostly depicts the apalling racism Richard had to overcome on his way to his legendary “50 goals in 50 games” record.
It was interesting to see that even back then, the NHL failed to recognize & optimize its best chance at relevancy. Blinded by prejudice, the league refused to protect Richard as the superstar he was, even as he was gunned at & blatently threatened by other teams’ goons. Richard was forced to protect himself, eventually sparking the Richard Riot of 1955 in Montreal when he was suspended for hitting a linesman in the middle of a violent brawl in the Boston Garden.
Overall, I was very impressed by how well filmed the movie was. It’s visually captivating. The hockey scenes were also extremely well done & I found myself gasping at Richard’s goals, even while knowing they were dramatized. It was a shame that the movie wasn’t marketed in the US since it did a really nice job of including some actual current NHL players in the cast, including Vinny Lecavalier & Ian Laperriere. But the best casting choice of all was to use current professional irritant, Sean Avery, as New York Rangers goon Bob Dill, whose threat against Richard was taken so seriously in the film that the Habs coaches almost took Richard out of the game for fear that Dill would kill him. Avery, one of the most hated players in the game today, doesn’t have to do anything but sit on the bench with his familiar wolf-like smirk to convey that Dill had every intention of fulfilling his threat. Coincidentally, Avery also plays for the Rangers.
Anyway, I highly recommend the movie. It’s one of the best done & well-acted sports movies I’ve seen in a long time. Check out the trailer here:
The NHL drives me crazy December 17, 2007Posted by Amy in sports.
Tags: Alexander Ovechkin, Amy Yen, Dallas Stars, Gary Bettman, hockey, Ilya Kovalchuk, NHL, Sidney Crosby, sports, StrawGrasping, Vinny Lecavalier
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So, this is a slightly dated topic, but I was just reading Mike Heika’s latest Dallas Morning News newsletter on the Stars & it got me all annoyed again about the NHL scheduling change.
Archive Post: baseball purgatory December 4, 2007Posted by Amy in Archive Posts, sports.
Tags: Amy Yen, archive post, baseball, sports, StrawGrasping, texas rangers
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In honor of the Rangers’ projected general non-action at the Winter Meetings, here’s a re-post of a rant from early this summer, back when I still had the energy to care about that abomination of a team.
Originally posted to my LJ, 06.04.07:
I have a new guilty pleasure & that is listening to people talk about how horrible the Rangers are. (more…)
Archive Post: vacation notes from seattle & vancouver December 2, 2007Posted by Amy in Archive Posts, sports.
Tags: Amy Yen, archive post, basketball, canada, eddie belfour, florida panthers, gm place, hockey, key arena, new york knicks, seattle, seattle supersonics, sports, StrawGrasping, todd bertuzzi, vacation, vancouver, vancouver canucks
Originally posted in my LJ, 02.02.07:
late vacation post
Ignore the fact that it’s February. Notes from Seattle & Vancouver…