Red Sox Fans Treated Like Kings of New York at Citi Field

Big Ern visited his second new ballpark of the season last night – Citi Field in Queens, New York City – home of the Mets.  Upon arrival, we were pleasantly surprised with the presence of a phenomenon unheard of in Boston – a PARKING LOT.  A PARKING LOT for all of the FANS who were coming to the game.  As Red Sox commentator Joe Castiglione asks so well, “Can you believe it?” 

After two innings of National League baseball between the Mets and the Padres, the skies opened in a deluge and a one-hour rain delay ensued.  It was during this time that my pal and I went to Caesar’s – a closed-off bar area for patrons.  Although this bar area was nothing like Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas at all, it provided a fun atmosphere to watch other sports on HD TVs (or even the baseball game itself from a dry spot) during the bad weather.   Caesar’s had different kinds of tables you could sit at, all of which with great views of the TV screens.  You could also sit at the cool-looking bar.  The food was still concession-style, encircling Caesar’s and allowing the fans to buy their burgers, hot dogs, sausages, pulled pork, rueben sandwiches, etc.  You can also get sushi, which is cool. 

At Caesar’s, a bunch of Mets fans at a nearby table spotted my blue Red Sox tee-shirt.  “Hey, look it’s a Red Sox fan,” the loudest of the New Yorkers indicated to his three buddies.  “Did you hear the news today?” he inquired of me.  “No,” I answered, “What happened?”   “You didn’t hear about Bill Buckner?” asked Mr. Met in apparent amazement.  “No.  What happened?”  “He got hit by a truck,” answered Mr. Met.  Boy, just when I thought things couldn’t get worse for the former Red Sox first baseman, life seemed to have thrown him another outside curveball.  I felt awful and said as much.  “That’s awful,” I softly reflected in dismay.  “What a shame.”  “Yeah,” echoed Mr. Met.  “The truck went through his legs!!!   Ha, ha, ha!!!”  True royal treatment for Red Sox Nation!

Then as the rain began to slow, in a wave of serendipity on our way to our seats for the third inning, all of the televisions in the concourse were showing the 1986 New York Mets World Championship memories video.  This made us walk faster and faster toward our seats.  Unfortunately, the rain wasn’t slowing fast enough and the video was on every single television.  We could not escape reliving the Mets win the NL Pennant over the Houston Astros.  Then in an act of valor, the field crew started to remove the tarp from the field, just in the nick of time before the World Series part of the video.  Whew!  That was close! 

We had great seats on the first base line, field level for only $60 each.  Then in the fourth innning, the Mets PA announcer came on and apologized for all of the fans having to splash through the rain down to the park on such a lousy night and stated that the Mets would also honor these tickets for Friday night’s game against San Diego.  What?  When would that ever happen at Fenway Park?  My friend and I started laughing because we thought it was a joke.  But then we heard the New Yorkers behind us all trying to figure out if they could attend the game the next night.  The Mets were serious!  Because they inconvenienced the fans, the ballclub gave them free tickets, to another actual regular season game! 

Needless to say, we were pretty impressed by our Citi Field experience, even in rough weather.  You can see the game from anywhere, including the concourse as you walk around and buy concessions.  The 45,000-seat state-of-the-art stadium has a traditional coliseum texture with a refreshing and colorfully innovative atmosphere.  With all of the bright lights, vibrant advertisements, the massive HD scoreboard, and the roaring of planes taking off from LaGuardia in the backdrop, Citi Field (despite the corporate spelling) is appropriately named.  I would recommend that any baseball fan check out this marvelous new palace.        

 

 

Color of the Day – Greene !!!

Yeah, the Big Ern used Greene Freshburst Listerine this morning.  Then, he put on his Greene N’Awlins Bachelor Party tee-shirt.  Then, he slipped on his Greene Oregon Ducks Nike running shoes.  It could only be in honor of one guy:

 

 

 

Wild Winter Sports Weekend in City of Angels

The Los Angeles winter sports teams have taken over the Staples Center this weekend. 

Last night, Kobe drained 36 points and all 18 of his free throws to lead the Lakers over the Oklahoma City Thunder and back into their NBA Western Conference Semifinals series (down 2-1).

This afternoon, the Los Angeles Clippers will host Game 3 of their NBA Western Conference Semifinals series against the San Antonio Spurs. 

LA Clippers star Blake Griffin is trying to lead the "Clip Show" back into their series with the Spurs. (Source: zimbio.com)

 

 

After that game, the Staples Center crew has to get the Clippers fans out so they can filter the Lakers fans back in to the arena for tonight’s game against the Spurs.

After the Lakers game, the Staples crew has to remove the basketball court so they can start getting the ice ready for Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Western Conference Finals tomorrow afternoon between the LA Kings and the Phoenix Coyotes. 

 

 Rob Scuderi (Big Ern’s pal from BC’s 3rd Floor of St. Thomas More dorm) has got his LA Kings one win away from the Stanley Cup Finals! (source: sports.yahoo.com)

 After the hockey game, the Staples crew has to go find the pieces of that basketball court and start laying those down because the Clippers have to play San Antonio again that night in Game 4 of the NBA Western Conference Semifinals.

Got the schedule straight?

The big question is: When Big Ern touches down in LA for business on June 3, will Rob Scuderi and the Kings be in the Stanley Cup Finals?

Person of the Day – Angela Merkel

German Chancellor, Angela Merkel (source: dealbreaker.com)

 Sometimes, a Greek guy needs a jump start from the Germans to get the day started off right.  That’s why the Big Ern hops into the Beamer and cracks open the sunroof. 

Yesterday, German Chancellor, Angela Merkel proclaimed that despite the evaporating Greek economy; Chancellor Merkel wants the Greeks to stay members of the Euro.  Good for you, Angela!  These Greeks need a kick in the pants to get the money moving. 

Remember Tina Fey’s (fellow Greek American) SNL skit when she was the Greek grandmother visiting her US relatives, only to see Greek men and women of her age working at the New York City breakfast deli.  Fey’s character says something to effect of “This is the worst place I’ve ever seen.  Get me on a plane and back to the old country and the beach.”

The point is – the Greek people need to go back to work!  The Euro is the money over there now.  They’re not going back to Drachmas.  It’s time for the Greeks to get moving.  You tell ’em, Angela!

Number of the Day – 49

Big Ern’s Number of the Day is 49.

That’s because yesterday, Colorado Rockies 49-year-old starting pitcher Jamie Moyer became the oldest player in Major League history to drive in a run (record an RBI).  He did this with an infield single. 

Jamie Moyer (Source: zimbio.com)

 Moyer used to pitch for the Red Sox about 17 years ago.  Remember Roger Clemens and Erik Hansen and Dana Kiecker?  Yeah, he pitched with those guys.  However, most of his 27-year Major League career has been spent in the National League where those pitchers get to swing the bat (the way it ought to be)!

Moyer started with the Cubbies back in 1986 and has recently been in the spotlight for contributing WORLD SERIES innings for the 2008-09 Philadelphia Phillies.

Picture of the Day – Josh Beckett

Red Sox Starting Pitching Turns the Corner

The Red Sox trio of aces (Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, and Clay Buchholz) are turning the corner down in Tampa this week as we head toward Memorial Day Weekend and the One-Third Mark of the 2012 season. 

One of the big reasons is this guy:

ErnBlog.com thanks the artistic genius of Dante Kappotis for this lasting image of Josh Beckett!

One More Title Run

Source: sportslogos.net

The final championship run for a legendary NBA group begins tonight at Boston Garden.  The Celtics are playing their best basketball of the year.  Paul Pierce is playing the most complete basketball of his career.  Like Michael Jordan got better and smarter each year until he hoisted his final title in Chicago, Pierce has emerged as a leader of men – a symbol of excellence in this much troubled NBA.    
 
On Tuesday night in Atlanta, Rajon Rondo made a mistake in the closing seconds.  He lost control of the ball while preparing for a series-winning shot and allowed the Hawks to escape.  But the Celtics, like champions do, rebounded on Thursday to stomp out the Hawks in Game 6 and earn a trip to Round 2 against Atlantic arch-rival Philadelphia. 
 
These Celtics don’t have much of a history with the Sixers.  I’m even a little too young to remember the wars between Bird and Dr. J from the early eighties. The Celtics and Sixers met three consecutive times for the Eastern Conference Championship between 1980 and 1982, with Philadelphia winning twice.  In the spring of 1980, the Sixers spoiled the end of Larry Bird’s Rookie of the Year season by advancing past the Celtics to an NBA Finals matchup against another rookie – Magic Johnson and the Lakers.  Only in 1981 was Bird able to lead Boston past Dr. J and the Sixers in the postseason (coming back from a 3-1 series deficit in the process); with Boston eventually winning the NBA Title over Houston.  The 1982 Eastern Conference Finals gave birth to the “Beat LA!” chant at Boston Garden.  In the closing moments of a clinching Philadelphia victory at the Garden, the Celtics fans accepted defeat and urged the 76ers to “Beat LA!” in the NBA Finals.   
 
Today I’m honoring the Celtics-76ers rivalry by wearing a green Larry Bird Number 33 tee-shirt given to me by Jen this winter for my 33rd birthday.  But this Celtics group, under the tutelage of sage Doc Rivers, seems to be better at forging its own history rather than looking to the past.
 
In 2008 these Celtics defeated Atlanta in seven thrilling games, bounced LeBron and the Cavaliers in seven games, finished off Detroit at The Palace to win the Eastern Conference, and then trounced the Lakers in Game 6 of The Finals to celebrate Banner Number Seventeen at the Garden. 
 
In 2009 these Celtics lost Kevin Garnett to injury, but still rallied to defeat the young Chicago Bulls in seven thrilling games (three went to OT).  In Game 6, a game the Celtics lost to Chicago in Triple Overtime, Ray Allen set a record for three-pointers converted in an NBA Playoff game.  Once again, without Garnett, Boston took eventual Eastern Conference Champion Orlando to seven games.
 
In 2010 these Celtics reached the doorstep of a second NBA title in three years, falling just short in Game 7 to Kobe and the Lakers, squandering a 3-2 series lead on the West Coast.  
 
The Celtics’ homecourt advantage over the young Sixers begins tonight at Boston Garden.  Philadelphia is coached by former franchise star Doug Collins.  26 years ago, Collins led a similar Chicago Bulls team into a playoff series against Boston.  Despite a 63-point explosion in one game by Michael Jordan, Boston still prevailed.  Led by Andre Iguodala, these Sixers are fiesty and can run the floor with the NBA’s best. 
 
But the 2012 Celtics are poised for another championship run.  At no point in Games 2-6 against Atlanta was there any question of which team was superior.  The one extra home game should give this veteran team a sizable edge.  If Garnett can give Boston two games similar to his Game 6 outburst against the Hawks, the Celtics should be able to advance. 
 
If Boston is fortunate to beat the Sixers, the Miami Heat would likely be next on the docket.  The Celtics have OWNED LeBron and Crew in this abbreviated NBA season.  At that point, anything goes.   

2012-13 NBA Season to be Full

NBA Commissioner David Stern (Source: sportszonenow.com)

 NBA Commissioner David Stern was a telephone guest of ESPN’s Mike and Mike in the Morning today.  Despite recent rumors, Stern confirmed that the 2012-13 NBA season will consist of a full 82-game schedule.  The rumors were circulating that the NBA may consider having another 66-game schedule like this year’s edition.  The shortened 2011-12 schedule was the result of labor negotiations.  Many NBA fans really enjoyed the abbreviated schedule because each game was more individually meaningful and because teams were forced to contend with more challenging scenarios (3 games in a row without a night off, several back-to-back games, etc.).  In Boston, it was remarkable to watch the Celtics (one of the league’s older teams in terms of average player age) withstand the rigors of the compressed schedule in order to attain a favorable playoff position.

So why won’t the NBA consider the same schedule for next season? 

Stern described three major points of rationale:

1) NBA cities and arenas have economic plans built around 41 regular season home games. 

2) Television/Radio.  What will these companies broadcast without November-December NBA games?  Hmmm?  Let’s see: Christmas specials, intriguing network dramas written by smart people, Football, more Football, even more Football?

3) Player Durability.  Do you have any idea the strenuous task that this past NBA regular season was for the players?  Between the playing back-to-back nights and the travel?  Oh yeah, the travel?  Do you know who else travels?  Regular working Americans.  Cry me a river!

So in short, the NBA will not consider shortening the regular season (an idea popular to some of its most loyal FANS – people who PURCHASE tickets) for two major reasons -MONEY and WORK.  Companies would lose MONEY and players would have to WORK harder.  I think that we can extrapolate the NBA’s dilemma with our own economic situation in America.