Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Lord Stanley's Cup

The Cup. Flyer's fans now have their eyes fixed on this legendary sports trophy. We were teased by dreams of temporary ownership of this Hockey Holy Grail last June. We had those dreams surgically ripped from our guts by a soft, bad angle goal allowed by the now banished re-tread Michael Leighton in Game 6 OT last year in the Finals. After last evening's trouncing of the Sabres, Flyers faithful are feeling the visceral stir of renewed Cup coveting. While we await the outcome of tonight's games and the identity of our opponent for the next round, we look at the only trophy in North American Pro sports that is not newly produced each season: The Stanley Cup.

The Stanley Cup was originally donated in 1892 by Lord Stanley of Preston, the Governor General of Canada.Lord Stanley ahd been appointed by Queen Victoria and he became a big-time hockey fan. The Cup eventually became the Championship Trophy for the NHL in 1926. The Cup itself was made in Sheffield, England and cost about $48.67. This bit of bill of sale trivia was shown on the big screen at the Flyer's game this Friday when my son and I were in attendance.
Unlike other trophies, the Stanley Cup has engaved names of the players,coaches and management of each winning team. As a resuly of this yearly addition of data, it has been necessary over the years to add "rings" to the cup.
This piece of hardware has not resided in the Quaker City since 1975. We came close in 1987 and 1997,and again last year. The NHL playoffs are long, arduous and entertaining. For now, a team in pursuit can only focus on the next team and the next best-of-seven.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

More On Crests and Coats of Arms

Heraldry, and hoopla. There are many examples of Crests or Coats of Arms floating about in our daily lives: Teams we like, Family symbols and Organizations to which we belong or lend our allegiance. Coats of Arms date back to the late 11th and early 12th century and were used on the Mideaval battlefield to distinguish one's allies from one's enemies. Later, these symbols were used to show other organizations including Civic and Ecclesiastical groups and continue to this day in our own Great Seal of the U.S. and the Sports teams we follow and the Universities we attend.
Some of the examples displayed here represent things from my orbit. For instance, the Coat of Arms with the chest in the main field is of my Mother's maiden name. The purple and yellow example is from a certain Greek organization of which I am quite fond. Then we have some Sporting elements such as the Jockey Colors crest representing the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup and the Symbol for the Indy 500 (which is coming up in just a few weeks and is very close in orbital range) and West Ham United, my favorite "football" team from the English Premier League. The lacrosse crest is the local team I coach for and for whom my son plays attack.
Then we have examples of one fan expressing his affinity for his team by having it permanently etched in his epidermis in ink with a needle. Perhaps this is too far? On balance, we have the lovely Kate Perry merely wearing the crest of "the Mighty Hammers" in a less permanent but more aesthetically pleasing medium. Above that we have the crest I designed for my firm...which is a great conversation piece and gets uniformly positive feedback.
Whether it is T-Shirts or tattoos,flags or signet rings, these 800 year old contrivances are still ubiquitous and interesting....but not tattooing anything thank you.

P.S. Do not get me started on the lame psuedo-crests that Ralph plasters all over anything that ain't moving...such poseur patches do not enter into this discourse.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Maryland Grand National

We did not get to attend this race but some friends did. They reported fairly nasty weather but an exciting main event.
Private Attack, Ridden by Blythe Miller Davies, won the $30,000.00 Grand National in 6 min. 39 seconds. Blythe had won this race back in it was a long time between victories for her at this venue. I have seen Blythe race numerous times at Radnor and she is a damn fine steeplechase jockey. Congratulations to her and her team on a fine win.
Parenthetically, what can we say about the choice of pants for the two "gents" pictured above? On a wet, windy and raw day are these really the pants you pull from the closet?....a bit too much "oooh look at me I'm a zany Prep-guy" for true Steeplechase afficiandos.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Overtime for Easter

This weekend began with my son and I going to game 5 of the Flyers/Sabres hockey play-off game. The game got off to an ugly start with 2 soft goals allowed by Brian Boucher. Amazingly, the Flyers battled back to tie the score, only to get beaten in overtime. The look of elation on my son's face in the 3rd period when Danny Briere scored the tying goal was wonderful...the look of dejection when the Sabres scored in overtime was heartbraking. We had a great time regardless...and we were ready to camp out in front of the 42 inch HD Samsung for Easter Sunday's game.
Today's game also looked bleak from the start. However, once again the Flyers showed some serious testes and fought back to tie the game at 4-4. The Easter ham in the oven and the scalloped potatoes and the asparagus....they all had to wait for another white knuckle round of Overtime hockey. When Lieno punched the puck past Miller, the sprawling Sabre net-minder, my son and I both jumped up and screamed in triumph. The Flyers won and we'll be ready for an exciting game 7.
For this Sportsman and his son, there really is nothing more exciting in the realm of spectating than play-off hockey. The action is intense and the end to end play is a completely different thing than we see during the regular season. GO FLYERS!!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Wishful Thinking

Busy day/week here in the trenches of Law Practice and Boxing Management in the Quaker City. It dawned on me that vacation is still 3 1/2 months away. I would certainly like to be on my boat on Upper Saranac Lake enjoying sunset cocktails right about now. Too bad this photo will have to suffice.
My wife and 2 daughters are in Vero Beach Fla. visiting my Mother-in-Law for their Spring Break. My Son opted to stay home with me due to Lacrosse practice and the off chance that I would take him to a Flyer's Playoff game. His gamble cashed in as he and I are attending game 5 of the now ugly Flyers v. Sabres series tomorrow night.
Earlier in the week we went to Germantown Cricket and played several games of Squash and had dinner. That was a great Father-Son evening!
For now imagining the waters of Upper Saranac lapping against the hull,the sharp quinine and lime taste of Meyers's Rum and Tonic and the contrast of crisp white canvas shorts against my Wife's legs which have been tanned by the Adirondack Sun.

Mike Richards elbows Patrick Kaleta in Game 4

A really bad call by Officials in tonite's Flyer's game. Kaleta is a known goon and was running at be the judge.
Here is what fellow Flyers had to say:
Versteeg:I think (Richards) was just protecting himself becse you never know what Patrick Kaleta is capable of," Kris Versteeg(notes) said. "He is a dangerous player out there when it comes down to it. You never know if he's going to run you from behind or if he's going to hit you without the puck. Richie was just protecting himself, it's unfortunate that he had to go to the box for that long."

"It look like he (Richards) was getting run," Peter Laviolette said. "He's got his arm up. I don't think that's the intention of the five-minute (call). It was difficult to see. I think he just got his arm up and there was a collision along the boards. But I didn't see any intent in there."

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

It Was Not Broken

The crests, or logos, of my Alma Mater. Several years ago the Administration decided to change the crest to the stylized version with the heart and the book and no words...esentially "modernizing" the look of the symbol. This change was made despite considerable Alumni criticism and even a large amount of resistance from the students. I can only imagine the meetings where some marketing wanker sold a bill of goods to the President and others, using buzzwords like "branding" and "engagement" and "target prospects" and "motivation"...all tawaddle in my estimation as relates to an original University Seal designed and used since 1866. After all, is not a University of Lehigh's caliber and reputation trading on tradition and history? Perhaps the Administration was capitualting to a visceral reaction to childish criticism of the original seal since it contains the word "Homo."
I felt the change was stupid and wrote a lengthy letter to the President in opposition. In my opinion, the new logo sucks.
The University engaged in further wholesale change when in 1995 they changed the Sports Mascot from "Engineers" to the "Mountain Hawk." Alumni and students once again rebeled against this breach of tradition. We speculated this was a concession to the Business and Liberal Arts programs who felt unfairly pigeon-holed by the reference to Lehigh's long standing (and cherished) reputation as a top flight engineering of the Nation's best. Forget that the Non-engineering discilpines have also enjoyed a fine reputation, the Administration went ahead with another change. There is no such thing as a "Mountain Hawk" per se, (Lehigh is on a Mountain and there are hawks around)....but that did not stop them. Would Yale lead out a new more bulldog...but a penguin perhaps? What would the retired naval officers think if instead of a goat, a Llama was brought onto the field at the Army-Navy game? You get the point.
As a loyal and contributing Alumni I never liked these changes and could only think: "If it ain't broke don't fix it." These changes crystalized somewhat as my daughter awaits word from the "wait-list" as to whether she will go there in the Fall. Actually, I believe her first choice lies elsewhere so it may become "academic" in any event.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Steeplechase and Lacrosse Weekend

This weekend saw the running of My Lady's Manor in Monkton,Maryland.This Race is basically the kick-off of the Maryland Racing Season. The $35,000.00 purse was taken by Bon Caddo, ridden by Blair Wyatt. It was a close race with the winner besting More Fascination by barely 3/4 of a length. This 10 year old had a strong late season last year and I saw him finish 2nd in the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup Race in the Fall.
The next two weekends features The Grand National and The Maryland Hunt Cup. Stay tuned.

Following up on the Lacrosse report, Haverford Prep did defeat the Nationally 4th ranked team from Darien, Ct. to retain it's coveted and deserved spot as the National No. 1 ranked High School Lacrosse team. Haverford spanked Darien quite nicely, beating them 11-5. One of my buddies sons scored 2 goals and it was an exciting game. The weather was nasty( it started to rain so hard at one point I watched from the dry confines of my car for a fair part of the second half) but it was top flight lacrosse action on par with nearly any college game one could watch.
Further, the other Main Line team I mentioned in the recent post, Conestoga, crushed the Greenwich,Ct. team 13-5. So much for the Connecticut "Gold Coast" teams trying to hang with the Main Line boys.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Private Box and the Gypsy Kid

Back in the early '90s my wife and I attended a Charity Event for Thorncroft Therapeutic Riding Academy. Thorncroft is a local outfit that does great work assisting mentally and physically challenged kids thru horseback riding therapy.
Part of the event featured a Silent Auction. I am a sucker for silent auctions when there is quality swag presented,I have on-loaded several cocktails, and the cause is sympathetic.
One of the items up for Auction was a Private Box for the Season at Atlantic City Race Course. If you have seen Connery and Kelly in "Marnie" you have seen A.C. Race Course;it is featured in a scene in this Hitchcock masterpiece. It was a showplace when it opened in 1946. Like most tracks, and racing in general, it was now on the decline. At the time, there was still racing all Summer and the idea of having a private box was appealing to both my wife and I and the bidding was failry quiet on this item. It also helped that we had a Share in a Beach House in Bay Head NJ for the Summer and no kids at the time. The notion of spending several nights at the track in a Box with friends seemed wonderful.
We won the Auction and could hardly wait for the Summer Race Meet to open.
One night in June we headed down from Bay Head to A.C. with friends intent on enjoying the "Sport of Kings", wagering a few bucks and consuming some drinks.
When we arrived, we were thrilled to see our names engraved on a brass plaque designating our private 6 person box of seats. We arranged ourselves in the box, started studying the Racing Form and procured some Gin & Tonics.
If you have been to the track in the past several years, or even over the last 2 decades, you will concur that the general demeanor, dress and socio-economic level of most patrons is on par with a Cock-fight or the Unemployment office in a bad neighborhood in the Florida Panhandle. Of course, Derby Day at Churchill, Saratoga and perhaps some days at Monmouth are exceptions. But like Paulie said in "The Pope of Greenwich Village","you go to the grandstand you're wit every garbage can walkin' the wind up with crabs over there..." Racetracks used to attract millions every year and had dress codes. Now it's all dirty jeans, tatoos and spandex.
As we readied our wagers for the first race and sipped our drinks, the fact that we looked a bit out of place became apparent. Wearing sport coats and loafers, and the ladies in dresses, we stood out.We stood out like a turd in a punch-bowl as my Grandfather used to say. In fact there was a large group of Gypsies in the seats just behind the box section immediately behind us... and they were loud, loutish and just plain looked dirty. (Literally Gypsies-For many years the inland areas near A.C. attracted a fairly large "Romani" community-and they love horse racing.)
Shortly after the 3rd race, a race which found me winning a nicely priced Exacta, one of the Gypsy kids began a loud protest and sleeve pulling campaign to get his Dad to take him to the restroom. Father Gypsy was too engrossed in his race program and his pick for the next race to consider the long walk to the Head. None of the Sisters or Wives would lend a hand and the kid kept wailing about his urgent need to take a leak. Finally the Dad yelled: "Ya gotta pee." He proceeded to grab the 5 or 6 year old boy, face him away from the other Gypsies, yank the kids pants to his ankles and told him to let loose.
If you have ever been to the A.C. Racetrack, you will recall that the whole Box and Grandstand area was purposely sloped down toward the Track. This was an design innovation at the time which afforded all the spectators a good view of the Finish.
A few seconds later a reeking rivulet of urine came trickling down the concrete and coursed right thru the middle of our Private Box. This young Gypsy must have had a Linebacker's bladder and must have consumed 11 Cokes and a bushel of Asparagus. The stream of piss became a torrent running down toward the track, right under our seats. Gypsy Dad yelled at the boy: "There now shut up and sit down." I yelled something about Gypsy scumbag riff-raff and then summoned a Security guy who was at least 70 years old and completely disinterested. We moved down to the Rail for the next race, then left. We never went back to our Private Box for the rest of the Summer.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Lacrosse Hotspot

Interesting news released today by ESPN. It seems The Haverford School is ranked No. 1 in the Nation in High School lacrosse. Haverford is a private all boy's school on the Main Line and obviously has a tremendous Lacrosse team. I know the Coaches from Haverford and they are dedicated men who know their stuff and do great things with the talented kids in their program.
The No. 2 School on this ESPN list is Conestoga High School. Contrastingly,Conestoga is a public high school about 10 miles down the road from Haverford.
Clearly, these rankings establish once again that the Main Line is a powerhouse region for boy's lacrosse. I believe much of this success is do to the really wonderful youth programs we have in the area. Ashbee lacrosse, the team my son plays for and for whom I coach, is one of those programs. These youth leagues start the kids learning the game at an early age and produce skilled players who go on to do well in High School.
I hope my son is going to be one of those kids. Such hopes are bolstered by his play last Thursday. He scored 4 goals at his Middle School game and then went right to his Ashbee league game and scored a Hat-Trick. I was one proud Dad.
This Saturday Haverford is playing the No. 4 ranked team from Darien Connecticut. My son and I will attend that game for sure as it proves to be an exciting match-up.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Sportsmanship for Parents

Here is a splendid piece borrowed from one of the websites from another Youth Lacrosse program in our area. I certainly wish certain people would read these guidelines each season:

As a parent, you play a special role in contributing to the needs and development of youngsters. Through your encouragement and good example, you can help assure that all the boys and girls learn good sportsmanship and self-discipline. With your help, young people can learn to work together, to sacrifice for the good of the team, to enjoy winning and deal appropriately with defeat - all while becoming physically fit and healthy.Best of all, they will have fun.

Support Your Child
Supporting your child by giving encouragement and showing interest in their team is very important. Help your child work toward skill improvement and good sportsmanship in every game. Teach your child that hard work and an honest effort are often more important than victory - that way your child will always be a winner despite the outcome of the game!

Always Be Positive
Parents serve as role models for their children. Become aware of this and work to be a positive role model. Applaud good plays by your child's team as well as good plays by the opposing team. Support all efforts to remove verbal and physical abuse from youth sports activities.

Remember That Your Child Wants to Have Fun
Remember that your child is the one playing lacrosse, not you. It's very important to let children establish their own goals - to play the game for themselves. Take care not to impose your own standards and goals on them. Don't put too heavy a burden on your child to win games. Surveys reveal that 72% of children would rather play for a losing team than ride the bench for a winning team. Children play for the fun of playing.

Reinforce Positive Behavior
Positive reinforcement is the best way to help your child achieve their goals and their natural fear of failure. Nobody likes to make mistakes. If your child does make one, remember it's all part of learning, so encourage your child's efforts and point out the good things your child accomplished.

Don't Be a Sideline Coach or Referee
Coaches and referees are usually parents just like you. They volunteer their time to help make your child's youth lacrosse experience a positive one. They need your support too. That means refraining from coaching or refereeing from the sidelines. As a volunteer organization, there's usually always an opportunity for you to take your interest in coaching or refereeing to the next level and become one yourself!

Playoff Hockey

The Flyers flogged about and the end of the Season and looked fairly pathetic at times. However,the NHL playoffs are essentially a whole new Season. The Philadelphia faithfull are looking forward to some exciting games and we only hope we can get back to the Cup Finals. There is talent on our Club for sure, and with some solid goal-tending great things could happen.

P.S. Stay tuned for a post about my Happy Hour with the Tin-Man from The Trad last Friday.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

More Brewerianna

Ebay call this type of item "Brewerianna." I call it commercial sporting art. I also call it mine. This Miller advertisment is a clasic...showing the activities of the various Seasons. I am all for the hunting, fishing and so much. I gave up golf in 1988 when I got out of law school. With the exception of a few buckets at driving ranges at a friend's clubs in these lunch-hooks since then.
In retrospect, dropping golf is one of the best time saving moves(and money saving probably) I ever made. When the kids were little, I could still hang a good part of the day with them and also get in a few rounds of trap or skeet in a fraction of the time of playing golf. This scored points with the Wife as well.
The copy in this Ad is of a genre not seen today. "Every Sportsman has his favorite Season..." Today, the big breweries pimp their suds with a constant stream of jokes, sight gags, boobs, bimbos and the occassional trained dog.
When we look at this Ad we can imagine Don Draper sucking on a lucky strike and inspiring his staff to create something of this type. "National Champion of Quality"...indeed.
This "vintage" piece is due for a trip to the frame-shop and a spot on the wall in my Poker room.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Germantown Cricket Club

It is not Merion Cricket or Philadelphia Cricket...but to this Sportsman it is Club enough. Germantown has a pool, which Merion does not...and does not have a Golf Course...which Philly Cricket does...but I do not play Golf so do not want a Club with the attendant expenses of maintaining a Course. The food at Germantown is better than Philly and as good as Merion. The dues and initiation are reasonable.
Spring is here so the lawns are being readied for grass court Tennis. Germantown has perhaps the largest and best array of Grass Courts in the area. The Squash facilities are great as is the Pool. It is a fun day with the kids to play some squash, bowl a few games and have lunch on the porch over-looking the grass courts.
The Clubhouse is slightly frayed around the edges but in a comfortable Old Philadelphia way. The staff is top flight and the barmen know their business.
Cricket is actually played here and while I am still learning the game as a spectator, it is an enjoyable game to watch while sipping a few Meyers's and Tonic.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Sportsman I Envy

If you have ever been a spectator at a Steeplechase race over the last 30 years, it is very likely you have seen at least one horse in one of the races that was trained by Jonathan Sheppard. Mr. Sheppard has the distinction of having won over 1000 Steeplechase races as Trainer and over 2400 Flat races.
Sheppard came to the States in the early 60's. His Father was a racing Official in Sheppard's native England. In the interest of fairness, British rules prohibit Family members of Racing Officials to train for outside Clients.So across the Pond he came. He trained his first winner in 1966 at My Lady's Manor in Maryland and since then has trained 4 Breeder's Cup Grand National Steeplechase winners. Sheppard also holds the record for the most ever Colonial Cup Winners at 11
Sheppard has also had great success at flat track racing. He teamed up with Main Line Legend George Strawbridge. They saw their Horse win the Breeder's Cup Filly/Mare Turf in 2008.
This Hall of Fame trainer is a quiet and charming gentleman. I had the pleasure of meeting him briefly at Radnor. He just looks like a man who can train horses and deserves to outside doing so. I envy this man and his abilities and his unique professional skill. In another life I would love to be a Steeplechase trainer.
As for all you Men's fashion wonks out there in the Blog-world...this guys sets the standard for tasteful country and sporting attire.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Sporting Report

It is Opening Day here in Philadelphia and spirits and confidence are extremely high for our Phillies.We have what could likely be the best pitching staff ever assembled.Yes we have injuries to Chase Utley and Lidge and there are some question marks. Nevertheless, opposing players will have a hard time in the batter's box this season.
On another sporting note, my Welterweight takes to the ring this evening for a 6 round tilt against Mike Demby. About 20 of the guys will be attending...including D.M. (who writes the splendid blog Brohammas) Bro is a transplanted Utah guy living here in Philly. I was supposed to meet him and Tintin of Trad fame a few months ago when they planned a meeting but work got in the way. I am looking forward to meeting him tonite. I hope he wears flame retardant clothes!
Lastly, my son scored 2 goals in the opening game of his Middle School's Lacrosse season. The photo above is not him...but it is nearly excatly how the shot looked on the second goal in form and action. He actually came damn close to a Hat-trick but could not find the handle in the crease on the 3rd. My head almost exploded with pride as I attended the game and was standing on the sidelines.
Here's hoping JMW's Kentucky team does well this weekend in NCAA action...she writes " A Place to Dwell" and I am very fond of her Blog and her perspective.