Category Archives: Sports

Twitter Game on Point: Strombone1

If your not in the realm of hockey fandom than I wouldn’t expect many to know who this account belongs to. If you have any exposure to the Vancouver Canucks than you’ll know who I’m speaking of. To those who don’t; his name is Roberto Luongo, former #1 Canucks goalie, Team Canada member for 3 winter Olympics, multiple Northwest division titles, many trophy awards and nominations, and most importantly the goalie who cruised the team to the Stanley playoffs. I know many people devalue and underestimate his talent and worth as an elite goalie, but looking at his stats he’s consistently in the top ten for goal % (dropping outside the top ten only a few times). During Luongo’s finals few years, post-stanley finals, the media did a tip top job of ripping him apart and more than likely contributing to the drama that was unfolding between the coaches and owners of how to play out this media storm that was created around their #1 goalie and his underwhelming return to the game since the play-offs. Vancouver city certainly showed its passion for the sport, look how happy they were during the 2010 Olympics, but 2011 showed an ugly side to the world. I had friends over in Latvia telling me their news were reporting about the riots that broke out after game 7 in Vancouver after Canucks lost their lead and cup to the Boston Burins, LATIVA! Tim Hortons all over BC changed the name of the Boston Cream Donuts to Vancouver Cream Donuts. It had been ten years since the Canucks had made the finals and the whole northeast, and eventually country (canada vs usa 4ever, lol) were backing this hockey fevered city team. The way I’ve looked at it, the Canucks have been recovering from that playoff since. Boston both mentally and physically destroyed many of the players. The city needed someone to blame and they chose their Olympic hero, Luongo because in the mind of many “why couldn’t he do what he did for Canada for the Canucks?” the feeling of betrayal was real for fans. I was more upset with how the media, fans, players, and coaches didn’t do everything they could to bring the balance of team moral back and straight up tell news outlets to “shut it!”

I think what Luongo has done in terms of media savyness is pure brilliant. He’s created this direct line of communication to fans of the sport for a more candid relationship. If you read his tweets it’s pure hockey comedy. He laughs at himself, with other players, and random current event news snippets (i.e. using kim kardashian’s “breaking the internet” photo to photoshop a goalie stick being held in her butt) so well I think it surprises many who find his account considering how much the media love tearing into his skills as a goalie. He’s kept his twitter account relatively unknown for the longest time, many were curious to find out if this @Strombone1 was a hockey player or not as he kept his profile posts pretty cryptic and his profile picture is an outline of a blacked-out goalie (still is) for the longest time. In terms of NHL twitter rankings, this does exist, he’s again in the top ten (#5).

Tell me your not laughing
Tell me your not laughing

I’m never sure what kind of point or purpose I have when I’m writing a post that’s discussing a public figure other than trying to express in a clear way how I’ve interpreted the information provided and the information I intentionally seek out. There’s always going to opposing opinions on various public figures in the world and my goals (philosophy sounds too contrived for me to use just yet) are always to try and take in stories from both ends and digest them at my will. This is also my way of saying that I just got “writer’s block” regarding this post and lost my train of thought while writing… let’s blame kim.k shall we?? he he he.   Update: I totally forgotten that I had written this post, its a little (a lot) late but I still wanted to post it. I did a double check to see if Luongo is still actively using his active and he is, just not the same volume as previously.

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Australian Open: Week 1 Wind-up

This season is definitely one that’s opening to a multitude of various outcomes. There’s always the strong belief in particular athletes, however the nature of tennis is always evolving to get past those Goliath players. After this first week of the Australian Open here is a list of note-worthy points.

  1. Del Potro Withdrawal: I was so excited to see him return to the tour, it was a shame that his wrist wasn’t prepared.
  2. Raonic’s new shirt: I think everyone is glad Charlie Brown’s shirt was retired after last season stint with it, way too distracting for me to watch him when all I kept thinking was “What’s Charlie wearing then?”
  3. Murray with Under Armour: Now I get that this initially football brand is trying to branch out into other sports via sponsorship, etc. I hope for Murray’s sake that his kit suits his needs and comfort levels. I know when my team was switched from Nike to Under Armour the quality and specs expected for athletics weren’t as pleasing as Nike. I think many athletic brands can significantly improve their relations with buyers by taking in what professional athletes have to say about the feeling and durability of the apparel.
  4. Federer is Out: His earliest exit from the Australian open in…. ages. Feds just wasn’t on point from the start and couldn’t recover in time. He said in his post match interview not to think/look too much into this as anything other than a bad day so.. till next time Federer.
  5. Aussie Aussie Aussie… Oi Oi OI!: Aussies Gave a good run during the first week, a trio of young blood boys and wild attitudes to match. Kyrgios, Tomic, and Kokkinakis definitely tried to mix their own style into play that may come off as “young arrogance” but looks to me as though they’re just feeding off the excitement of having home court advantage. Sam Groth was great also. I’m always a fan of any professional athlete that has attempted playing other sports than their specialty (i’m referring to his 2011 venture into soccer)
    1. Kygrios makes it to 2nd week! crazy 5 set match.
  6. Murray looking amazing: I didn’t know what to expect from him in this tournament, but he’s been very impressive this first week, looking strong and sure of himself. At this point I’d say Semis are definitely in his future.

Minor distinctions:

  • Nike athletes being dressed up like their back in the 80’s fitness era with their neon coloured kits burning the eyes.
  • The wave is back it seems, Australians always know how to enjoy themselves and their way of entertaining themselves (and probably the players also) is by marathon-ing the heck out of the wave. “Quiet Please” ha ha ha
  • Murray is looking not only physically strong, but mentally. Too bad he’s on the same side as Nadal for the draw or I’d be rooting for him to make the finals.

So among my second week expectations I had some right and wrong.

Right: Nadal, Milos, Djokovic, Wawrinka, and Berdych

Wrong: Federer, Monfils, Dimitrov, Ferrer and Robredo

Unsure of making it: Murray and Nishikori (but they did)

After writing this all down I do realize I was way off in terms of body numbers making the second week.

Second week expectations

Murray vs Kyrgios: Winner Murray

Nadal vs Berdych: Nadal  Winner: Berdych

Wawrinka vs Nishikori: Nishikori  Winner: Wawrinka

Milos vs Djokovic: Milos  Winner: Djokovic (not surprised)

Disappointing with how these quarter finals played out. All within 2 hours in straight sets doesn’t evoke much excitement for the rest of the tournament. 

Post-Semis Update:

Murray vs Berdych: Winner Murray

This was the kind of match I was expecting during quarters. These two men both played professionally considering the drama the press were making in this “work triangle”  between Berdych, Murray, and Vallverdu. You could tell that frustrated Murray during his post-match interview that the off court drama was taking away from discussing  the match itself.

Berdych is always more honest and emotional when discussing his matches. It comes off a bit crass, but his belief in himself and his skills is something every player has (Nadal might be the exception, read his biography). I think anyone new watching his matches and post-match interviews might initially feel thrown off by his confidence, but that’s just a tolerance level one has to develop when following Berdych on tour. For me, I always feel like he has this look on his face that says “Are you really going to ask me these stupid questions? Did you not just watch the match yourself?” which I’ve learned to be amused by… took me long enough.

I don’t know what kind of water he’s (Murray) putting in the cool-aid, but I’d like some please. His energy and style of play just looked and feels to me much more focused, refined and fresh at the same time. Like a light switch being turned on, you watch him play and believe that he is capable of winning this grand slam. His prior slam wins always seemed to me like a combination of him playing his top game, but also his opponent having an off day. Whereas now, he’s playing as if his opponent can having a good match but he’ll still top it. Very excited for his appearance in the final.

Djokovic vs Wawrinka: Winner Djokovic

Awesome match until the final set, becomes almost a formality when the score is 5-0 to finish. It was amusing to see Djokovic lose track of the score so without noticing he finished a game he won the point for. I don’t think Wawrinka cracked a single smile or altered his facial expression during the entire match.

Bye bye 1,280 points Wawrinka earned from his title. His ranking is going to drop somewhere to the lower top 10 area. Murray’s guaranteed 1,200 points for making the finals will have him return to the top 4, thus restoring the true original “Big 4” of men’s tennis (Federer, Nadal, Murray, Djokovic). Think Murray will go up to #3 and Nadal drops to #4, but I’m not 100% sure.

Not going to pick a winner because that for me is like picking the lesser of two evils. Doesn’t matter who wins at this point. Not saying either are bad players, just personal preference has me favoring other players over these two guys. 

2015 Tennis: Australian Open, Expectations

I wish I could say I know tennis, cause I am a tennis player, alas that’s not the case. Just an avid fan of the sport since I was 16 and saw Rafael Nadal win his first French Open. Yes I was suckered into the sport by this Spaniards adorable face, his intense concentration, the fist pump celebrations, and other traits that made watching him a great introductory player to the sport. Since watching the 2007 French Open on my dingy ’90s television from my living room my love for the sport has grown exponentially. To the point where my friends who are actual tennis players, and have been since their toddler years, say I keep more up-to-date on the professional circuit than them. They were busy actually playing the sport.

He's so estatic!
He’s so ecstatic!
Love's biting that trophy...
Love’s biting that trophy…
This photo was straight up exploitation. ;)
This photo was straight up exploitation. 😉

I think that would be a dream job for me, just following the ATP circuit writing up articles on various tennis matches, and conducting interviews with the players themselves. However I wouldn’t interview the top ten players too much, but more of the guys just below them because if you watch many of the top ten players interview there’s a bit of a formula that makes them a bit mundane, Thomas Berdych might get the exception. However go outside those guys and you find Gulbis, Monfils, and Tongsa and they’re quite funny when they’re in the mood to be. I think its a matter of the media trying to find any sort of “off-court” drama to fill their pages with so it makes it difficult for the players to say some random off the cuff comment without it being taken out of context or even a story with some truth in it being blow out of proportion. For example, Wawrinka and Federer’s Wife during his and Feds match at the O2 arena for the ATP world finals: she heckled at him from the sidelines taking him way out of his game frame of mind. The head ref. had to rear him in, and in the end Wawrinka lost the match. All the media took away from that match wasn’t how well they both played, but what kind of drama was unfolding between Wawrinka and Federer’s wife and how was this going to affect the dynamics of the Swiss team since both Federer and Wawrinka are apart of their country’s David Cup team. They were fine, so fine their team won the Davis Cup Final for 2014 beating France.

 

Does this look like drama?
Does this look like drama?

These past couple years for the men’s tennis have shown the top 4 men, “The Big Four” (Murray, Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic) to be mortals, despite these guys having dominated for the past decade. I think this year will definitely be interesting because 2014 already had two new names to the pretty steady nadal/djokovic/federer mix of grand slam winners. Last year Stan Wawrinka won the Australian Open to an injured Nadal (a win no less) and Marin Cilic defeated Kei Nishikori in the US Open Final. This year is hard to say who could be the dark horse since there are dozen of variations and outcome, and I’ll try to do some post during the Slams as well. What I will say is who I’d like to see make it to the second week of matches.

Left: Men's Trophy Right: Woman's Trophy
Left: Men’s Trophy Right: Woman’s Trophy

Emma’s Second Week Expectations:

  • Nadal (I know this pick is bias)
  • Federer
  • Ferrer
  • Monfils
  • Dimitrov
  • Robredo
  • Milos

Those are mine, and I know others whose chances are more than good to reach second week:

  • Djokovic
  • Wawrinka
  • Berdych

There are a few I left out purposely cause I’m not sure at what state they’re in physically or mentally, so I’ll need to see them play

  1. Murray: His whole back and switching coaches put this past year in a funk compared to his previous 2 years I’ll say. Not sure how much of the past season issues will carry over this year. He’s definitely more relaxed as an individual.
  2. Nishikori: He had his best season yet last year, I’ll even call it his “break out year.” So I think his aim should be about consistency this next season, and I have no clue how he’ll do this tournament. I’ll say he makes the second week.
  3. Cilic: I honestly not sure how to regard this player because he was banned for “accidentally” consuming illegal performance enhancing substances (he was cleared because he stated he unknowingly consumed it because his team provided him these tablets, “Blind Trust”) and his suspension was cut down to four months so he could be apart of the ’14 tour season. He won the US Open guaranteeing him a spot at the ATP Final in London and then went quiet again. So for now I’ll label him the “lazy talent”, he can play well but doesn’t show the same passion as other top ten players. He’s another big guy like Milos and Del Potro, all of them being 6’5″ plus.
  4. Del Potro: I initially placed him up with my expected 2nd week players, but I second guessed myself and placed him here. It’s been almost a year since his last match before undergoing surgery for his wrist and he does frequently post on social media his recovery progress. In recent interviews as well he’s been honest about the pain level he need to tolerate when playing high intensity matches or his backhand in general. I’m excited for his return because he was performing well before taking this medical leave. Had a grand slam win under his belt, especially considering it was during the Nadal vs Federer rivalry domination. So, even though I’d place him in my expected 2nd week round players, explanation was needed. He’s ranked seriously low from essentially being absent all ’14 losing all his earned points from ’13. UPDATE: Del Potro Withdraws from AO due to persistent pain from wrist surgery/injury. Get well!
This year's Dark Horse?
This year’s Dark Horse?

I’ll make a minor note that I don’t follow the women’s circuit as much, there hasn’t been a player to get me uber excited to watch the women matches. The Williams sisters (mainly Serena) have been such dominant players that it almost makes me feel disinterested intentionally. Like, why watch when you know whose going to win? Players like Bouchard, Halep, Kvitova, and Kerber have been shaking things up the women’s circuit; dethroning Serena a few times and just overall showing amazing athleticism for the sport.

Additional Player Alert: Ivo Karlovic

This happening just before the Australian Open is crazy! Tallest player in the ATP at 6’11” and 34/35 years of age he might also mix things up in Melbourne depending on his placement in the draw. Them tall guys doe… they know how to ace.