NFL


Bucket List: Visiting All Sporting Venues

I was putting together a bucket list earlier which I will post once it is fully developed later on this summer and someone mentioned to me that going to all the sports arenas and stadiums should be one of the items on that list. That got me into thinking exactly how many of those places I have seen myself.

The list is a little bit longer than I would have originally thought it to be although it includes not only the places I have actually seen a game (indicated in bold) but also the stadiums/arenas that I have seen in person but didn’t necessarily watch a game there. The current list stands at 39 sporting venues, which includes repeats such as Air Canada Centre and Madison Square Garden as they play host to multiple professional teams, or 32 unique ones. Those venues span over 9 states, 1 province and two different countries.

A few rules to counting the sporting venues:

  1. It counts as long as you physically saw it in person whether for a few seconds or were actually inside the stadium.
  2. Repeats count but just have a separate unique list
  3. Old Stadiums still count as long as they were playing host to the professional team at the time of your visit.
  4. Venues of professional teams only, College and Minor League stadiums/arenas do NOT count.
  5. Venues must be located in North America.

I have attended events in 12 of those venues which comprise of 5 baseball stadiums, 3 hockey arenas, 2 basketball stadiums, 1 soccer field and boxing match.

I’m hoping to add a couple when I am in Dallas this summer with the Mavericks, Rangers, Cowboys and Stars but I’m not sure how much time I will actually have but that is definitely on the to-do list.

I’m sure there are plenty of you out there with a longer list than me, let me see them or if you have done more in a single sport, let me know!

Sport (Physically Seen – Attended Game)

Major League Baseball (13 – 5):

–         Rogers Centre (Blue Jays)
–         Yankee Stadium (Yankees)
–         New Yankee Stadium (Yankees)
–         Fenway Park (Red Sox)
–         Camden Yards (Orioles)
–         Wrigley Field (Cubs)
–         Comiskey Park (White Sox)
–         Citizens Bank Ballpark (Phillies)
–         Nationals Park (Nationals)
–         Citi Field (Mets)
–         Shea Stadium (Mets)
–         Three Rivers Stadium (Pirates)
–         Jacobs Field (Indians)

National Hockey League (9 – 3):

–         Air Canada Centre (Leafs)
–         Maple Leafs Garden (Leafs)
–         Madison Square Garden (Rangers)
–         Prudential Center (Devils)
–         Wells Fargo Center (Flyers)
–         TD Garden (Bruins)
–         Verizon Center (Capitals)
–         United Center (Blackhawks)
–         HSBC Arena (Sabers)

National Football League (7 – 0):

–         Giants Stadium (Jets / Giants)
–         Soldiers Field (Bears)
–         Lincoln Financial Field (Eagles)
–         M&T Bank Stadium (Ravens)
–         EverBank Field (Jaguars)
–         Ralph Wilson Stadium (Bills)
–         Three Rivers Stadium (Steelers)

National Basketball Association (6 – 2):

–         Air Canada Centre (Raptors)
–         Madison Square Garden (Knicks)
–         IZOD Center (Nets)
–         Wells Fargo Center (76ers)
–         TD Garden (Celtics)
–         United Center (Bulls)

Major League Soccer (2 – 1):

–         BMO Field (Toronto FC)
–         Red Bull Arena (Red Bull)

Boxing (1 – 1):

–         Prudential Center (Welterweight)

Horse Racing (1 – 0):

–         Belmont Park (Triple Crown, 3rd Leg)


Is The Baseball System Really Broken?

I had yet to decide whether I thought the baseball system as it is, was broken or not but after doing just some simple research, I think I am ready to say that it is okay… for now.

There is no denying that there are the lopsided salaries in just a handful of teams but there have also been 9 different World Series champions (Arizona, Anaheim, Florida, Boston, Chicago (AL), St. Louis, Philadelphia, New York (AL), and San Francisco) in the past 10 years as well as 14 different teams (add Colorado, Detroit, Houston, Tampa Bay and Texas) who have played in the World Series in that same stretch of time. That is just about half the league.

After that, make note of the fact that Minnesota, Detroit, Cleveland, Oakland, Seattle, New York (NL), Atlanta, Chicago (NL), Cincinnati, Milwaukee and San Diego have also made the playoffs in the last 10 years and that brings the total up to 25 teams leaving just the Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Royals, Washington Nationals, and Pittsburgh Pirates to not make it into the postseason.

That is a pretty awesome system where 83% of your league has been in the playoffs in the last decade but baseball has done a really poor job in trying to capitalize off of that. Instead all we hear in the news is of steroids, players not signing extensions and botched efforts to try and keep the all star game relevant.

I would also be interested in seeing similar numbers for other major sports and if I had to guess, I would say NBA is the worst in terms of percentage of teams making the post season in the last decade but I would think NHL and NFL are right up there with the MLB. Maybe if I get time over the weekend, I will pull up those numbers as well.

As for the 5 teams left to make the playoffs since the 2001 season, who do you think will make it there first? I will say either the Washington Nationals or the Toronto Blue Jays but I don’t think either of those two will happen this year, or the next.


Sports Teams In Toronto

The one down side to summer is that there isn’t a lot of variety available in terms sporting events to go watch in person. The Raptors and the Leafs have finished up, leaving the Blue Jays who were the only team I saw in person when I first lived here, the Toronto FC and I suppose you have the Canadian Football League but I’m not really interested in seeing much of that in person although I am interested in trying to get tickets for the Bills in Toronto game this year against the Bears.

That being said about the Jays, I haven’t been to Rogers Centre since it was renovated, revamped and renamed – that place will always be SkyDome to me. I am thinking of going there towards the end of September when the Yankees roll into town for a 3-game set. Who knows, maybe the Jays continue this good stretch and cut the 10.5 game deficit into something manageable heading into the last few series. Especially with the stadium within walking distance from my work, it is no excuse not to make a couple of games down the stretch of the season.

Most importantly, I can’t wait for hockey season to start up again. I was in elementary and middle school when I lived here for 5 years so I would always every game and eagerly await Hockey Night in Canada but never really got a chance to see them play in person. Hopefully this is the year they will finally stop the drought and make the playoffs. I wonder how much a couple of decent seats will cost me since every single home is sold out irrespective of the fact that they haven’t won a title since 1967 but then again people still go out to see the Cubs too.

Even though Bosh has gotten up and left in hopes for a ring, I’m still hopeful that the Raptors can at least compete for a playoff spot in the East. A few years back when the Raptors played the Nets in the playoffs, I remember going to the games in Jersey where the fans in attendance were split 50-50. There was such a lack of interest by the local fans there coupled with the fact that the Raptors growing fan base was willing to make a trip since it was easier to get Raptors tickets in NJ than back home. They should have another decent shot to finish second in the division but whether that will be good enough to make the playoffs, we’ll see.

Back in 1994 when I was still in Pakistan, we all used to get up in the middle of the night to watch the FIFA World Cup games. Even though there was a slight translation difficulty when we moved with a tiny kid like me asking people if they wanted to play ‘football’ and getting weird looks in return, the passion for the sport did not fade. With my elementary school being within walking distance, I would come home during lunch breaks just to catch parts of the game and update the rest of the class upon my return. I will admit that I don’t think I have seen more than a handful of the Toronto FC games but with all these arenas and fields located centrally around my work place, it makes it very convenient on days I want to do stuff right after a tiring work day.

I’m still not sure how actively they show collegiate sports here north of the border, but I will have to keep track of RU football and eventually college basketball once that rolls around. Unfortunately, I can probably already assume that March Madness will not be the same here as it is there and that’s an unfortunate sacrifice I will have to make.


Peyton Manning’s Contract Extension

By far one of the best explanations of why athletes deserve the money they get. I have never taken a position against athletes getting paid as much as they do, simply because what they do in such a high capacity is rare to find even though every one of us at some point or another tried to play a sport or two. There is not a better athlete on the field when he is playing and you would be hard pressed to find a fault regarding something he has down off the field that has brought him, his family or his team bad press.

Manning deserves the biggest contract in the league. When all is said and done, he could very well replace John Elway as the best QB ever to play. In addition, he’s what the model of a league should be. Down to Earth, funny and not a walking ego. The reason people in the military don’t get paid millions is because they take anyone and anyone can do it if they so choose. While it is a valiant thing to do with your life, it’s not a selective profession. The same goes for teachers, police officers, firefighters and other public service occupations. Anybody can get those job if they want them. There are very few who can play QB at the professional level and an even smaller number who can play as well as Manning. That’s life in Capitalism, the very thing the military fights to preserve, by the way. – Enicklo2

The comment was from the article ESPN.com Len Pasquarelli article titled “Irsay Plans To Break Bank For Peyton” where he talks about and quotes Colts management into how easy a decision it is going to be to pay Peyton what he wants because of his talent and what he has done in the league for over a decade now.

Given the salary spiral, his stature in the league, and the likelihood that 2010 will be an “uncapped” season, it is not unthinkable to project that Manning could receive an extension pushing $20 million per year, and with a signing bonus of about $50 million.


No Dispute About Defensive POY

There is no argument in my mind about who should have been this year’s NFL Defensive Player of the Year and that was Charles Woodson who did end up getting 28 of the 50 votes with New York Jets’ Darrelle Revis coming a distant second with 14.

According to the ESPN.com article, “the versatile Woodson tied for the league lead with nine interceptions, returning three for touchdowns, and was a key to the Packers’ turnaround on defense. His role in Green Bay’s performance — second in the league in overall defense, first in interceptions (30), takeaways (40) and turnover margin (plus-24).”

Following the Packers all year long certainly made it obvious that he should win even though the local Revis came on strong towards the end of the season shutting down key #1 receivers but this is an award for the entire year, not just the first half or the second half of the season.

One thing to notice from today’s announcement was Rex Ryan’s reply and standing up for his player. He said, “a number that I think is interesting is eight.  No, that’s not the amount of touchdown passes Green Bay gave up against Arizona.  That’s the amount of touchdown passes we gave up all season.  The biggest reason for that is Darrelle Revis.”

The Jets’ coach has a big mouth but he always backs his team and doesn’t hold anything back. You can respect that in a coach but no way was he winning the award this year. This year it belonged to Charles Woodson.