"There's still a Philly flu," [Bernie Parent] says. "Only it's different. It used to be out on the ice, but now it's mostly in the crowd. When we won, I used to say 75 per cent of our success was the crowd."
Last night, it might have been closer to 100 per cent for the first two periods of the Flyers' 3-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens...
There was no need of the scoreboard announcer welcoming "the most intimidating fans in hockey" to the Wachovia Center. They know who they are — a crowd that would have made the lions wet themselves in Nero's Rome.
The atmosphere in the lead-up to the game was, well, surly, both inside and outside the Flyers' rink.
At the turnstiles, they handed out orange T-shirts with "Crush the Canadiens!" stencilled across the chest. They flashed "Vengeance Now!" across the wraparound scoreboard.
They offered a blistering booing in accompaniment of the Canadian anthem — "I didn't like it," Philadelphia goaltender and Quebec native Martin Biron said at game's end. They cheered through a long rendition of God Bless America, with Lauren Hart, daughter of the late Flyers' play-by-play announcer Gene Hart, joining in a duet with the late Kate Smith, Smith coming in from some other dimension courtesy of grainy film....
They were handed blowup orange thundersticks and, for a select few, blowup sledgehammers just in case the visiting Canadiens didn't get the point.
The scoreboard announcer predicted a "nasty, bloodthirsty" game to answer the "nasty" Montreal Canadien, Tom Kostopoulos, who offered up that controversial "face wash" to a Flyer to end the previous game in Montreal, which Philadelphia had won to even the series at one game apiece.
They showed a few select brawls on the scoreboard, particularly concentrating on those times in the past 41 years of Flyers history where they have pounded various Canadiens players to the ice, if not quite to a pulp.
They paraded out Ed Hospodar, Philadelphia hero of a famous 1987 pregame brawl between the Flyers and the Canadiens, and Hospodar brought the fans to their feet by rolling up his sleeves and doing a little shadow boxing.
They showed clips of what outside media — in this case Washington, home of the Capitals, the team the Flyers beat in seven games in Round 1 — had to say of Philadelphia's famously partisan fans and invited these fans to roundly boo any outside condemnation of their behaviour.
Apr 29, 2008
From the National Post (as seen on KuklasKorner) ... the spirit of Kate Smith fills Wachovia Centre again this year in the playoffs.
More than 20 years after her death, the Philadelphia Flyers continue to channel the spirit of singer Kate Smith.
Born in 1907, Smith was a famous broadway, stage and radio singer whose name became synonymous with the song God Bless America after she sung it to glowing reviews on Armistice Day in 1938.
Even the song’s composer considered it sappy but in the hands of Smith, a big lady with a bigger voice, the song stirred patriotic feelings at a time when many Americans wanted nothing to do with the simmering conflict in Europe.
Years later, Flyers president Lou Schienfield hoped to tap into these patriotic feelings when he ordered Smith’s rendition of the song to be played prior to a Flyers game on Dec. 11, 1969, in lieu of The Star Spangled Banner.
The switch angered some but the Flyers beat Toronto 6-3 that night, and the Flyers soon developed a penchant for winning on nights when Smith’s song was played.
According to the fan Web site www.flyershistory.com, Philadelphia went 19-1-1 over the next three years when Smith’s song was played and 31-38-28 when it was left on the record shelf.
Smith’s first of four live performances at Flyers games did not happen until the home-opener of the 1973-74 season, a Stanley Cup year for the Flyers.
Click here to see a youtube video of Smith’s performance prior to the Flyers Stanley Cup-clinching victory over the Bruins on May 19, 1974.
The team turned to Smith again the following season, when she sang prior to a Game 7 semi-final win over the Islanders en route to Philadelphia’s second straight Stanley Cup.
Smith’s last live performance at a Flyers game was on May 16, 1976, a 5-3 loss to the Canadiens in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals. The win completed a 4-0 sweep of the Flyers and started a run of four straight Cup wins for the Canadiens.
The Flyers erected a statue outside the Spectrum in tribute to Smith in 1987 — a year after her death — in honour of her role as the team’s eternal good luck charm.
Singer Lauren Hart sang God Bless America at the Wachovia Center prior to Monday’s Game 3 of the East semi-final, but it was accompanied by film of Smith’s performances from the Flyers' Stanley Cup years.The Flyers beat Montreal 3-2 on Monday to take a 2-1 series lead, proving perhaps that Smith’s song has not lost its magic when it comes to spurring on the Broad Street Bullies.
Check out some Lauren Hart & Kate Smith duet videos here.
Apr 28, 2008
Yesterday I went to a Giants baseball game. It was Little League Day, so there were about ten thousand young boys running wild in the stands. It was also free bat day, courtesy Bank of America.
I will pause while you digest this concept.
Do you know what happens when you hand an 8-year old boy a new bat, sit him behind the exposed heads of several adults, and ask him to sit patiently for four hours while nothing much happens on the big field in front of him? Do you think he fiddles with that bat?...
My memory of the afternoon goes something like this: “TREVOR, PUT DOWN THAT BAT! YOU ALREADY HIT THAT LADY ONCE! I SAID, PUT IT DOWN! I MEAN IT! I WILL NOT TELL YOU FOUR HUNDRED MORE TIMES!” This was followed by the sound of wood making solid contact with skull, cursing, repeat.
My wife took a solid blow to the shoulder. Later, one of the tykes kicked some guy’s beer out of the back seat holder, so we sat in a puddle of beer, while the sun cooked us. I was one pinch of salt from being a recipe.
I tried to use the restroom at the stadium. This is no place for the shy. Unlike most public men’s rooms, where there might be a small privacy shield between urinals, this place was designed to handle high volume, shoulder-to-shoulder peeing. I saw an opening where I could poke my penis between a bearded guy and a guy with a fanny pack, just over the left ear of a Little Leaguer, but before I could make my move, someone filled the slot. I decided I could wait another three or four hours.
I wish someone would invent a device that allowed you to watch sporting events from your home. I think that would be popular.
Apr 25, 2008
Apr 20, 2008
BANGALORE, India, April 18 -- Squeezing through the gates of a sold-out 55,000-seat cricket stadium in steamy evening heat, Hashim Kerala made no attempt to hide his reason for coming to the season's opening match: Cheerleaders. Washington Redskins cheerleaders, to be specific.
In white go-go boots, yellow spangled short shorts and bikini tops, they pompomed their way onto the field, bursting right through local notions of modesty. The result was something that few in this cricket-obsessed nation thought possible: tens of thousands of male cricket fans finding it hard to keep their eyes on the game.
In many corners of the world, cricket is seen as slow-moving and stodgy, a vestige of British colonialism that is a cross between baseball and napping. Organizers of the newly founded Indian Premier League are hoping to drastically change that perception overseas, and bring new verve to the game for the home crowd as well.
So they've brought in 12 Redskins cheerleaders, who, in addition to performing, are mentoring a squad of Indian women. The league is also trying to win fans over to a shortened format of the game that is formally called "Twenty20," known colloquially as "cricket on crack." It condenses nearly a week of match play into three hours, with shorter "overs," which are similar to innings in baseball....
Beer and airline billionaire Vijay Mallya, who calls himself the king of India's good times, agrees. He owns the Bangalore Royal Challengers cricket franchise and invited the Redskins cheerleaders to the game, which pitted his team, on home turf, against the Kolkata Knight Riders.
They're owned by Shah Rukh Khan, India's top movie star. His team fielded its own cheerleaders, both male and female. But their black-and-gold uniforms were much less revealing than those worn by the Americans.
The Redskins cheer choreographer, Donald Wells, said the Indian cheerleaders he's working with are already adept at shaking their hips and staying on the beat. He noticed that Indian cheerleaders were very expressive with their hands -- Indian classical dance has countless hand motions -- and joked that they probably wouldn't need pompoms....
Cricket purists complain that the abbreviated version of the game is cheapening its traditional stately tone.
"Twenty20 Terror?" read the headline of an editorial in the Times of India, a major English-language newspaper. The paper noted worries that money might spoil the "good taste of cricket," but it also saw the shortened game, which was invented in England, as a sign of the times.
But it is often not only the fast-motion format of the new game that offends cricket purists.
The American women's presence has caused a stir across India, a conservative, Hindu-dominated country where even at the beach, women often shun swimwear in favor of saris, which are made of at least six yards of billowing fabric that covers everything from the neckline to the ankles, sometimes leaving the belly exposed. It's a country where the top female tennis star, Sania Mirza, who is Muslim, is often criticized for wearing short skirts on the court.
Some TV pundits pointed out that the Redskins cheerleaders are showing more skin on the cricket pitch than most Indian men will see before marriage.
At the game, the crowd roared every time the cheerleaders appeared on the big screen. "I wish I could wear a bikini, but that's not allowed for Indian women," said Bollywood actress Rakhi Sawant during a heated pregame debate on an Indian cable sports channel. Across South Asia, modesty is still an essential part of everyday life. Public affection is severely frowned on. Protests erupted last year after Richard Gere publicly kissed Bollywood starlet Shilpa Shetty....
Friday's event went smoothly. Though some newspapers had predicted protests, there were none. But there were Indian rock bands, smoke machines, stilt-walking butterflies, ballet dancers in clear plastic cocoons, trapeze artists, a laser-light show and a fireworks display. And, of course, cricket.