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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Hockey vs. soccer

The last couple of nights, in the lull between the pro basketball regular season and playoffs, we watched on television two sports that we don't follow much: soccer and hockey. The soccer game match, on Thursday, was the Timbers' opening game match as a "major league" team side, and the hockey was a couple of Stanley Cup games, particularly one involving the Vancouver Canucks, last night.

Aside from mild indigestion at the thought of how much public money has been blown on Jelled? When? Field, the soccer literally bored us to sleep. The agonizing slowness of the "beautiful game," being played at a decidedly lower level of skill than the World Cup, coupled with the obnoxious drone of Portland's unemployed, drunk creative class chanting whatever it is they chant -- next thing we knew, it was morning. And what's with the British accents on the announcers? Are there no Americans willing and able to call a game on television? No wonder the average Joe in the States has no interest.

The hockey was a completely different experience. It moved at lightning speed -- huge, garbage-truck-sized guys hurtling down the ice, among the best in the world in their sport. Many shots that actually have a chance of going into the goal, followed by equally dangerous shots at the other end just seconds later. The Vancouver skaters (from the real Vancouver) are amazing passers, and their split-second execution was thrilling. We were sorry when the games were over for the night, and will definitely be squeezing a little more hockey into our viewing schedule in between pro hoops playoff games, which start in less than an hour. Go Canucks!

Comments (34)

And our hometown Winterhawks are playing some pretty good hockey, too.

Hey now! My understanding is that the Portland team (side? whatever you call it) scored some goals. THAT had to be exciting, as the boys jump all over each other and scratch each other's buns.

I confess, I didn't even realize that the event was televised. Of course, I don't see much tv anyway. I spent some time watching a classic dvd, though: Tron (the original version).

And I went to the fights, but a hockey game broke out.

As a Minnesota native, I was raised on hockey and think it's the most exciting game to watch. The state high school hockey tournament is almost a holiday in St. Paul, and those are some of the best games to watch ever! Not a lot of fighting, but good, hard, aggressive skating by a bunch of kids with heart. Most of em have been skating since they were 2 or 3 and playing the game from about 5 on up.

Yay hockey!

"The agonizing slowness"

The other annoyance is the cluster that follows the ball.

They should get rid of the offsides penaly to open up the play instead of kicking the ball back and fort from one group to another. Plus you'd get something other than a 1-0 score 90% of the time.

Jack: get with the flow, hockey is so North American. Football (please don't call it soccer) is European. Like cycling. And mass transit. Three hour dinners which start at 8 pm. Flexible hygiene.

Good for you Jack. You're never too old to try something new. I would encourage you to catch a Winterhawks game live. There is nothing like hockey in person. The Winterhawks game last night VS Kelowna, with Kelowna on the brink of playoff elimination was one of THE BEST hockey games I have ever witnessed!! Absolutely AWESOME! Hawks lost 2-1 in OT. But WOW. Just WOW!

I've had some live hockey experience. Went to quite a few Winterhawks games in the mid-'80s (Glen Wesley era -- our friends were billets for teenage Glen). I even saw the Rangers play in Madison Square Garden around that time. After watching the junior leaguers here in Portland, I was shocked to see how big the NHL players were -- monstrous. As I say, like garbage trucks, going 90 mph, on ice.

Im pretty disgusted with how things happened with Paulson and PGE park financially. But not being a fan of the NBA or even basketball in the slightest, the soccer game was something new and fun to watch. (On TV, I wasnt going to go sit in the rain.)

However, I do question how buying into an MLS franchise magically makes your current players MLS quality.

I thought the soccer match was at the upper end of excitement for this level. The refs are crap so they let a lot of violence go, and that's a positive. There is some genuine soccer talent on display here, but the main thing that made it exciting is that neither team had the quality to play possession-style soccer. If a team is skillful enough to keep the ball, that's when you get those insurmountable 1-0 leads.
The Timbers kept charging forward, rather than sit on their lead, probably because they had to, and that was fun for me to watch.
I'm going to separate my feelings about the ownership, from the team just as I overlooked the "AIG" on ManU's jerseys one season.
We're having record daily rainfalls - 2 recently - it's gloomy, and I'm willing to pull for the Timbers if it's like the other night. In fact, they should enhance this rowdy style of play with a keg on the sidelines.
Go Timbers.

One thing I can't stand about soccer is all the flopping and diving by the players. Something's wrong when faking injuries is considered part of the game.

In today's Detroit Red Wings hockey game a player was checked face-first into the boards. He was taken to the dressing room and came out with 21 stitches, a bandage on his forehead, and gauze plugging one of his nostrils...and played the rest of the game.

My question about Timbers ownership is whether they follow the Goldman Sachs model? Now that the Paulsons have sold MLS to Portland, do they bet against the success of the league?

Go Blazers.

If you're going to watch, consider abandoning your naïveté in the realm of professional football via the highly rated film "Green Street Hooligans" (2005), featuring erstwhile hobbit Elijah Wood:

"A wrongfully expelled Harvard undergrad moves to London, where he is introduced to the violent underworld of football hooliganism."

Although American soccer, may prove entertaining, it would be more democratic if voters were permitted to decide how our public moneys are spent. For instance, it would be useful to be allowed to vote on whether we have a well-funded education system or a pro soccer squad.

Bill McD, I thought it had been made pretty transparent that the Paulsons will not suffer loss if the Timbers go down: taxpayers in the City of Portland will, in the GS fashion, pay for failure and realize no gain from success.

The Goldman Sachs way goes beyond not taking any losses. You must make an obscene profit from your failure while passing the suffering on to someone else.
I wouldn't be surprised if there's something buried in Portland's contracts with the Paulsons that leaves us vulnerable in ways we don't fully comprehend. Remember, Henry Paulson has been involved with destroying the financial health of entire countries: Greece, the United States....I doubt if Randy and Mayor Samsonite put any fear into him.

I would classify Timbers fans as obnoxious, but I've been to plenty of college football games and they are just as bad.

Soccer in the US will be ephemeral. Entertainment dollars can go only so far.

Hockey is basically the same game as soccer just with sticks, ice and less flopping. You also get the same boring scores and ties.

Baseball's boring too, but there's nothing better than going to a game on a warm, summer day.

Oh yea, and there's no ties in baseball.

Actually, ws, there are no longer ties in hockey, either. During the regular season any game that ends in a tie goes to a five-minute overtime, and if the game is still tied it goes to a shootout.

During hockey's playoffs they play as many overtimes as it takes until one of the teams scores.

The ugly side of top-level soccer is Nationalism. In Europe and Asia, *countries* compete against each other, and the stakes are high and nasty. Hence the sensationalism of it all.

The truth is, in Europe, basketball is watched on television by more people than soccer/football, and it's growing. Teams across the continent routinely sell out games and seasons well in advance.

In America, we can choose from several national level sports. The way overhyped, carefully curated "frenzy" of the Timbers and teh "Timbers Army" isn't anything special, and neither is soccer. I remember being an usher for the Timbers at Civic Stadium in the 70s, and the hopes and promises about it are repeated verbatim today.

When Paulson finds the enterprise running deep into the red, he'll cut and run. 100% guaranteed. One other fact: the number of profitable clubs in the MLS has decreased to two: Seattle and Toronto. Seattle "sells" lots of tickets (which are often given away in bulk via corporate programs); Toronto too. Both teams are barely in the black. The trend is downward, not upward. In the next 2-3 years, you won't find a profitable MLS team--all will be in the red.

The truth is, in Europe, basketball is watched on television by more people than soccer/football, and it's growing.

I hear this a lot. I seriously doubt that it's true.

I wouldn't be surprised if there's something buried in Portland's contracts with the Paulsons that leaves us vulnerable in ways we don't fully comprehend.

There is Paulsons stadium involvement,
Goldman Sachs involved with city bonds?

Excuse me, but when were there ever ties in hockey?

Maybe I missed something in the 30 some years since I've been in high school?

Excuse me, but when were there ever ties in hockey?

In the NHL, from the 1921-22 season through the 2003-04 season.

Best game of any type I ever attended was the seventh game of a series between the Washington Capitals and the New York Islanders on April 17th and 18th 1987. I'll never forget the sound of Pat LaFontaine's turn around slap shot clanking off the pipe behind Bob Mason just after 2:00 am in the fourth overtime period (with probably 18 of 19 thousand seats still occupied), nor have I forgotten the feeling of deflation that ensued. Nothing is better than NHL playoff hockey, win or lose.

Couldn't agree with you more Jack! Nothing beats playoff hockey. The intensity of the game amps up dramatically. Pulling for the boys from Van this year. Cup is long overdue getting back to the motherland. Oh, and go Hawks!

No one has mentioned that approximately 4,500 seats in the main grandstand were covered up at Jeld-Wen Field.

If the match was "sold out" well in advance, why would Paulson not want to sell those 4,500 seats?

Prior to this year, PGE Park's official seating capacity for soccer was 19,566. The new grandstand has 3,780 seats. That adds up to 23,346 seats (minus a few dozen existing seats that were removed). And yet the attendance at the Timbers home opener was 18,627 (with apparently very few no-shows).

So, why was it necessary to spend all that money, and reconfigure the stadium, only to end up with a net loss of close to 1,000 seats?

Vancouver has a great chance, Jack -- so long as Luongo doesn't have his usual twilight zone episode in the playoffs this year. The San Jose Sharks might just eat him up in the Western Conf. Vancouver's "Green Men" fan duo were a real continental sensation last year, btw.

The Green Men at the Playoffs vs the LA Kings (2010)

Vancouver Green Men on ESPN
(with their shout-out to Phila. creator)

Drabble comic strip

Meanwhile, in the East -- keep an eye on the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Boston Bruins & the Buffalo Sabres. The best goaltenders in the league are on those teams -- and they have exciting offensive talent and team styles, as well as top-notch defenses. Forget the Washington Capitals, they're the Portland Trailblazers of the NHL.

I think the people have spoken, Jack, and hockey (especially playoff hockey) beats soccer. And FYI, Winterhawks play at Kelowna tonight at 5 to try to wrap up the series and go to the Western Conference Final!

I played hockey and soccer. I love them both. I was never varsity caliber.
I roared as the bearded Islanders punked the Great One as the fans around us showered the ice with baby dolls.
I was in Brazil when they won the World Cup with Ronaldo and Ronaldinho's athleticism rolling over the defense playing machine-like Juggernaut of Germany. It was an unforgettable three weeks preceding it, too. Samba insanity and an electrified world.
I watched an over 40 men's soccer match yesterday at Cleveland High Field, bodies crashing into each other and was impressed. Monday morning these guys will still be hurting. Tthey loved every minute of it.

anyway, I just wish I was 20 years younger and still playing these games.

Hockey is for people who are uncoordinated sans skates.

I don't get hockey fans' indignation about soccer. They're the same game. Even some of the rules overlap.

I'm no soccer fan, but hockey is just a slightly more dangerous version of soccer.

One thing I do hate about soccer (in America) is the canned European way of cheering. Flags, chantings, blah blah blah. When I go to a game, the last thing I want is some a-hole blocking my view with an obnoxious sign.

The creative class isn't so creative, I guess.

Well, fine, but there's a bonus: Little Merritt's soccer program gives our neighborhood helicopters swooping low overhead before, during and after the game. You don't get that with hockey.

Oh well - I hope all you kickball fans enjoy your little game before the League goes bust in another three to four years, just like the last MLS League did. When the league starts running out of franchise fees the party will be over fast. The big money people will drop their sponsorships and ownership deals like the proverbial hot potato..

Seattle "sells" lots of tickets (which are often given away in bulk via corporate programs)

It helps to have big corporations willing to spend millions on ticket packages.

Here in Portland, we have...well...Nike (who probably won't be doing it given that the team is sponsored by their competition). Oops. Most of the teams' sponsors are relatively smaller companies like Burgerville; while Alaska Airlines got burned when it turns out that the Timbers can't even use Alaska to fly to many of their out-of-city games (they had to fly Southwest to at least one city and have plans to fly Southwest several more times...Alaska won't even bother to put up a chartered flight.)

That's a very sentimental analogy for me. My parents both served in France during World War 2 - my Mom was in the Red Cross - but they met after the war on the Pacific Islands you refer to, where there were indeed Japanese troops still holed up in the jungle.

Comparing what the Timbers and the Timbers Army did this weekend to the victory in the Pacific is a good start but why the restraint? Where's the right degree of respect? Clearly, Merritt Paulson is another General MacAuthur saying, "I shall return, except to Lents."

And the Timbers Army is certainly worthy of comparison with the American forces. Who needs, "The Sands of Iwo Jima" when we have our brave army starring in "The Pints of Jeld-Wen Field"?

Wait, darn, if those Japanese soldiers had blogs, I'm not sure their Internet cloud would reach far enough.
Oh, and the American forces at Guadalcanal weren't wearing scarves.
But other than that you pretty much nailed it.

The Timbers goalie did make a tremendous save on Sunday. It probably reminded you of Patton during the Battle of the Bulge. Remember when General McAuliffe and the 101st Airborne Division were surrounded in Belgium, and Patton came to their rescue? That was a great save too.

The Nazis had given General McAuliffe an ultimatum to surrender and the General fired off a one-word reply that perfectly captures your analogy about Japanese soldiers blogging after World War 2: "Nuts!"

Peter Apanel: Since Merritt Paulson took over the Timbers they haven't sold more than 15,418 tickets to any event. The Timbers sold exactly that many tickets several times last season, and that was the exact number they stopped at, even when it was a sellout well before game time (a friend of mine got turned away by the box office a half an hour before a game).

It probably reminded you of Patton during the Battle of the Bulge. Remember when General McAuliffe and the 101st Airborne Division were surrounded in Belgium, and Patton came to their rescue? That was a great save too.

The Nazis had given General McAuliffe an ultimatum to surrender and the General fired off a one-word reply that perfectly captures your analogy about Japanese soldiers blogging after World War 2: "Nuts!"

Another perspective:

"When the two divisions, the 101st and the 82nd had first been deployed……A spur-of-the-moment decision had sent the 101st to Bastogne and there, cut off and encircled, the Screaming Eagles became immortalized by the press…..while the 82nd’s desperate duel with three panzer divisions to hold the northern shoulder of the Bulge had gone unnoticed.

The surrounded 101st became America’s heroes for its energetic defense….and for the war’s most famous messages: “Nuts!” Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe’s answer when asked to surrender the city…..If the Bastogne story needed any more glamour, that was supplied by the attack from the south by the flamboyant Patton and his legendary drive to reinforce the defenders.

Yet, many students of the battle conclude that it was the tough and unglamorous action of units like the 82nd at the shoulders of the break that destroyed the German plan.

Time and the maps of the battle, which show the Bulge reaching its greatest extent to the south, have caused many to forget that the Germans were trying to push north. It was their failure to crack the northern shoulder that caused the Germans to fail in their thrust for the Meuse bridges and Antwerp, forcing them southward.

The significance of the part played by the 82nd was that Gavin’s force, in an emergency, was thrown into a role for which it was in no way trained or equipped, with no armor, no effective tank defenses except captured Panzerfausts, and little artillery.

Yet the 82nd had dramatically outfought the enemy. They had withstood the assault of four of von Rundstedt’s best remaining divisions and wrecked the northernmost and quickest German route to Antwerp".

From Paratrooper: The Life of General James M. Gavin
By T. Michael Booth and Duncan Spencer

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