May 29, 2008

Altoona Curve to reschedule Procrastination Night

A brilliant headline and story from Curve puts off Procrastination Night

(via Ben's Biz Blog)

May 23, 2008

Sportsnet interviews Stompin' Tom Connors

From, Perry Lefko interviews with Stompin' Tom Connors about "The Hockey Song", better known as "The Good Old Hockey Game". Highlights from the interview:

Q: You mentioned "Bobby scores" in the opening stanza. Was it in reference to any particular Bobby?

A: There was so many Bobbys out (in the National Hockey League) that I thought if I was going to put a name in the song at all that somebody was going to score, it just had to be a Bobby. If I had said Pete or Harry or something like that, I wanted to cover as many bases as I could.

Q: Were you surprised that some 20 years after its release, The Hockey Song suddenly enjoyed a second coming when the Ottawa Senators played it at home games?

A: It didn't take off overnight either. I didn't even know the Senators were playing it. I heard the same as anybody else. I hadn't even heard it watching the games. People were telling me they're playing your hockey song (at Senators games). That's how I got wind of it. It became a sleeper and what I mean by that is radio didn't care to know anything about it, I guess. They still don't play it.
Q: But when the Senators started playing it, the story goes Leaf coach Pat Burns heard it and wanted it played at Leaf games. True?

A: Some of the Leafs when they were younger had heard the song, too, in their local arena and they said, 'Hey, the Senators have a great idea here.' So then the Leafs started playing it and before you know it, American teams were right on it and they started playing it.
Q: This was a song that as soon it started playing regularly at the Air Canada Centre everyone started singing it, kind of like Take Me Out To The Ball Game, and it arguably is now the anthem of hockey. Would you agree?

A: I have heard the expression and, yeah, I'm honoured they would think of it that way.

Read the entire article...

May 21, 2008

Michael "Let's Get Ready To Rumble" Buffer on American Idol

Darren Rovell has the details on Michael Buffer's appearance on American Idol last night ... plus some more juicy business tidbits on the man behind the "Let's Get Ready to Rumble" catchphrase.
Buffer, who recently recovered from throat cancer surgery and treatment, is back to his grueling schedule after a brief hiatus needed to recover.

Since the surgery, Buffer – whose famous line has yielded more than $400 million in gross retail sales of licensed merchandise – has been the ring announcer for the Bernard Hopkins-Joe Calzaghe fight (April 19) and the Oscar De La Hoya-Floyd Mayweather fight (May 3).

As we speak, he’s on a plane right now to London from Los Angeles, where he uttered his famous line on “American Idol,” to announce the Ricky Hatton-Juan Lazcano fight.

After “Idol” decided to go with the boxing theme between David Archuleta and David Cook (I can’t believe they carried it out that far putting the guys in robes and splicing in sound from Jim Lampley), Buffer discussed the idea of him being part of the show with the show’s executive producer Nigel Lythgoe.

His brother Bruce --who serves Michael’s business manager, the voice of UFC and recently a mainstay on the Poker circuit – negotiated the deal.

Bruce told me that the fee that his brother received for “Idol” was comparable to what he makes for a fight, but that wasn’t why he did it.

Bruce also said that he and Michael are working on a “Rumble” bar and restaurant franchise that will role out in different cities.

Said Bruce: “The phrase is not about fighting. We call it the ultimate clarion call to the pure integrity of the competitive spirit.”

Read the entire article...

Here's a video of Buffer's performance... and for more about Michael Buffer, check out this previous post: "Let's Get Ready To Rumble Snitch Line"

May 18, 2008

NHL playoffs opening videos

Here's a round-up of pre-game show videos from the 2008 NHL playoffs. We can't find anything for New York, Nashville, Anaheim, or Colorado.

Some notes:
  • Nice light show in Detroit. Looks like a about 24 or 32 Mac 2000's or something similar -- it's a simple effect but used very effectively.
  • Washington had some great music choices.
  • Minnesota had one of the nicest overall arena shows that we saw, with nice integration on-ice projection, video scoreboard, and LED signage.
  • I like the green Stanley Cup on the Dallas video
  • Philly's added some nice video projection for Round 3

Playoff open (music: The Hives - Tick Tick Boom)

Playoff arena show

Youtube vids of the arena show: 1 2 3 4

Youtube vids of the arena show: 1 2

Highlight vid (music: Foo Fighters - The Pretender)
Playoff open (music: Papa Roach - To Be Loved)
Year in Review (music: The Bravery - Believe)

Playoff open
Round 3 video projection

New Jersey
How Far We've Come
Don't Stop Believing

Arena show

Playoff open (music: In Your Honour / Foo Fighters)

San Jose
Arena open Youtube vids: 1 2

Playoff open
Arena open

Arena open Youtube vids: 1 2

May 17, 2008

Mascots perform OK Go treadmill act

Nice find by Jon over at The Denver Nuggest mascot Rocky & friends performing on treadmills to the OK GO song "Here We Go Again".

May 13, 2008

David Stern on basketball music

Here's what NBA commissioner David Stern thinks about music at NBA games:
"How do you spell Simon and Garfunkel? Or Billy Joel? Or The Beach Boys? I'm lost. But that's OK. I appreciate it is their new-age music, the hip hop, the rap. It's fine. The reality is I think that what has happened is that very well-intentioned people feel that it's their obligation to root their team on to victory, to urge them. What they do is that they think if you turn up the loud speaker, it's going to help them perform better, even though there are babies in the building. I think it's going to be interesting. I think we should have it as a time capsule item, because in some future century people are going to look and say, ‘What were they thinking about?' And I'm positive — I just saw [Dan Shaughnessy, Boston Globe columnist] — I'm positive that [late Boston coach] Red [Auerbach] is watching and getting ready to call me. I think we've gone over the top." Source: National Post "Posted Sports"
(see previous: Commissioner Stern: "the noise, the fire, the smoke, is a kind of assault")

Commissioner Stern: "the noise, the fire, the smoke, is a kind of assault"

NBA commissioner David Stern wants a review of music and pyro used in pre-game shows. Here's an article from the Canadian Press:

CLEVELAND — On the subject of the NBA's infatuation with pre-game pyrotechnics, smoke and noise, commissioner David Stern was loud and clear: He's had enough.

"I think they're ridiculous," Stern said Monday before Game 4 of the Cavaliers-Celtics second-round playoff series. "I think that the noise, the fire, the smoke, is a kind of assault that we should seriously consider reviewing in whether it's really necessary given the quality of our game."

His comments came just a few minutes before Cleveland's over-the-top player introductions, which include fire - hot enough that fans can feel the heat in the stands - shooting out of four swords on the scoreboard.

Such pyrotechnic displays have become common around the league. The barrage of fireworks in Boston is so intense it leaves a fog hanging over the court for most of the first quarter.

"It may be that these are the maniacal rantings of a fan from a different era and I recognize that, but you know I'm sitting there waiting for the next cannon to go off and then the fire heats up the arena," Stern said, "so the temperature in the arena raises by 15 degrees. That's if you can see it because you're still waiting for the smoke, which is chemical, to clear."

Cavs forward Ben Wallace says the smoke in Boston contributed to the dizziness that forced him to leave Game 2. Wallace didn't go onto the court for Game 3 in Cleveland until the onslaught of smoke and fire had ended. Anderson Varejao ran onto the court in his place.

The special effects aren't limited to pre-game introductions. White residue from fire extinguishers delayed Game 1 of the Spurs-Hornets series for 19 minutes between the first and second quarters after a mascot soared through a ring of fire for a dunk in New Orleans.

Another thing that annoys Stern is the non-stop loud music and other noise that isn't generated by fans.

"I always bite my tongue because I say, 'Well, maybe I'm not the demographic that likes to be assaulted by loud rap, smoke, pyrotechnics and chemicals,"' he said. "I'm outdated, but I think it's time for us to say, 'Hey guys, lets look at it one more time."'

There's rarely a quiet moment in Cleveland's arena where the video screen routinely displays a metre registering over 100 decibels, as loud as a rock concert.

Stern, more of a Simon and Garfunkel fan, says he's got nothing against hip hop and the music appreciated by younger audiences, but says the volume is over the top.

"What's happened is that very well intentioned people feel that it's their obligation to root their team on to victory, to urge them ... they think if you turn up the loudspeaker it's going to help them perform better even though there are babies in the building," he said.

AP Sports Writer Tom Withers contributed to this report.

Read the entire article...

I blogged last week about the mascot fire stunt at a Hornets game that caused a delay lasting more than 20 minutes, and speculated that the incident could be the beginning of the end of fire stunts in the NBA.

The NHL has already banned most pre-game pyro due to concerns about ice conditions (not to mention the smoke and haze that interferes with sightlines for fans & broadcast).

And one of my students pointed me towards this article about Rai Henniger, the senior vp of marketing for the Triple-A Colorado Springs Sky Sox. Last year he was severely injured in a pyrotechnics accident at the ballpark. (Thanks JV for the pointer.)

Safety for fans, safety for players, arena playing conditions ... there are plenty of reasons for every sport to consider a ban, or at least severely limit, the use of pyrotechnics.

Rai Henniger returns to Colorado Springs

Here's a remarkable, must-read story about Rai Henniger, senior vp of marketing for the Colorado Springs Sky Sox (Triple-A).
"A year ago, a pyrotechnic accident nearly killed him: "It's been precisely a year since a 2½-inch spherical titanium shell shattered Henniger's face, turning Security Service Field into a makeshift battlefield scene, and a glance in the mirror is all it takes to remind him that his life will never be the same."
Henniger is back at the ballpark, inspiring others with his remarkable story of recovery. I'll let you read the article for the entire story, but I do want to highlight some of Henniger's creative and caring approach to game entertainment:

At age 48, Henniger is a cross between Mike Veeck, proponent of the "Fun is good" mantra, and Tom Hanks dancing on a giant keyboard in the movie "Big." Amid the wide-open spaces of Henniger's imagination, there's no such thing as a bad idea -- merely occasional tinges of regret from concepts unexplored.

He's the guy who conceived "Bark in the Park" night, when baseball fans cavort with Cocker Spaniels and Pomeranians, and he was at the forefront of the first ballpark hot tub (even though the PR guy and groundskeeper had to twist his arm to do it). He designed the costume, name and educational theme for Sox the Fox, the Colorado Springs mascot, and once wore a homemade TV set over his head during Comcast Night in Colorado Springs.

As the proud creator of Assorted Animal Snout Night, he ordered thousands of cheap barnyard masks from China, passed them out to the crowd, then cued the pigs to "oink" and the cows to "moo" just as the opposing pitcher went into his delivery.

And during his signature promotion, Computer Geek Night, he dressed up in high water pants, a pocket protector and nerdy glasses and did a poor man's Myron Noodleman impersonation. When the Sky Sox weren't holding Bill Gates and Dilbert look-alike contests, they were designating fans to be "Spam blockers" -- sending them to the grassy hillsides behind the foul lines and firing gobs of lunch meat at them from a sling shot.

"I would have loved to be in the meeting where they talked about shooting meat into the berm," Ensor says. "Someone makes a dumb joke, the ignitions are firing, the lights are going off, and Rai's formulating a promotion. And he's the best at it. I like to think I'm pretty good, but he's got one more gear than everybody else."

It's only fitting that he met his future wife at the park. One night the scheduled participant in the "Pitch to Win" contest failed to report to the gift shop as instructed. Henniger, desperate for a replacement, approached an attractive young woman on a group office outing and asked if she could bail him out of trouble.

"What is this, some sort of sexist thing you do to make women look foolish?" asked the then Heather Mooney.

She won a $50 gift certificate by throwing a baseball through a hole on a board and revealed during a casual conversation that she was a trained vocalist. Henniger invited her back to sing the national anthem, and the story ends with 12 years of marriage, three beautiful children and a lovable, panting Australian Shepherd mix named Bosco.


Fellow employees tell a story from years ago, when a little boy designated to be the Sky Sox's junior announcer was so panic-stricken he wet his pants in anticipation of the big event. It was Henniger who cleaned him up, encouraged him to overcome his fears, and made the experience one to cherish.

"A time like this is a telling sign of how somebody treats other people," says Dan Karcher, Sky Sox radio broadcaster and Henniger's longtime friend. "I don't think Rai has an enemy anywhere in the community. He's one of those guys who's able to light up a room whenever he enters it."

Read the entire article...

May 10, 2008

Yes, players do watch the video scoreboard

Here's a story from last fall about Detroit Lions defensive tackle Shaun Rogers, who says he used the video scoreboard to help score a touchdown:

Rogers said he knew he'd have to stiff-arm Broncos running back Selvin Young on his 66-yard interception return for a touchdown because he saw him gaining ground on the huge Ford Field scoreboard screen.

Corey Smith tried to block Young, but didn't get enough of him to knock him off course.

"I looked at the Jumbotron and saw a guy coming up on my left. I caught a glimpse of the Jumbotron and saw (Smith) trying to throw a block to my left. I turned my head around and there he was. I tried to put that big arm out there to keep him at bay,'' Rogers said.

And why was Rogers looking at the big screen?

"It just happened that way. We have a beautiful stadium and a beautiful Jumbotron,'' he said.

Read the entire article from

May 9, 2008


Check out this amazing ukulele cover of the arena favourite "Blitzkrieg Bop".

The Art of Hockey

Check out this article from The Coast about a new hockey art exhibit opening up at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia (AGNS) in Halifax. My favourite is "Hockey Organ" (pictured above) by Graeme Patterson: "...a souped-up STIGA rod-hockey game with its own "Jumbotron." Instead of pulling rods to make the players move, you press organ keys, which in turn play music."

(There's more about "Hockey Organ" here.)

You can check out the AGNS web site for a video preview of the exhibit -- definitely worth a look.

May 8, 2008

The best ballpark traditions has a list of nine of the best ballpark traditions in major league baseball. A sample:
1. Roll Call, New York Yankees: ...From the chants that fit neatly into a four-syllable meter -- "DE-REK JE-TER" -- to the ones that don't - "A-Rod," "Ro-bin-son," and "Bob-by" -- this Bronx cheer works, and is a lot more family-friendly than the rest of the Section 39 utterances heard throughout a game.

2. Rally Monkey, Los Angeles Angels: ...the Angels are losing late in the game, they get a runner on base, and they show a monkey jumping up and down under the words RALLY MONKEY. The fountains by the faux rock pile beyond center field go off, they play "Jump Around" by House of Pain, and the fans go wild.

3. Sausage Race, Milwaukee Brewers: It's worth going to Miller Park just to see this tradition, which occurs after the bottom of the sixth inning as a promotion for the Klement's Sausage Company. Five mascot-dressed links square off in a race on the field, and you choose your personal preference...

4. "Sweet Caroline," Boston Red Sox: ...This Neil Diamond staple caught on during the 2002 season and is now a sing-along ritual in the Fens, with the fans adding the "So good, so good, so good" echo in the middle of the chorus. It's so good that Diamond himself will come sing it at the diamond this year. Now that's a powerful tradition.

5. "OK Blue Jays," Toronto Blue Jays: ...It starts with, "You've got a diamond, you've got nine men, you've got a hat and a bat, and that's not all," and it goes on from there, peaking at the chorus of, "OK, Blue Jays, Let's ... play ... ball!" Ardent Jays fans appreciate the 1980s references in the original song, such as, "Dave's put down a smoker," which apparently means former Jays hurler Dave Stieb threw a strike, and didn't castigate a patron holding a cigarette.

6. "Thank God I'm a Country Boy," Baltimore Orioles: You don't mess with a tradition that dates back to the 1970s,... right after "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," you'll hear this John Denver chestnut -- written by John Martin Summers, by the way -- and you'll see the kooky fan in the straw hat and overalls dancing around on the JumboTron.

7. Rally Fries, Seattle Mariners: ... During a game last June, the Fox Sports Northwest TV cameras caught a fan scattering his fries down the right-field line while chasing a foul ball. Mariners broadcasters Mike Blowers and Dave Sims eventually came to the decision that he deserved a new set of fries, so Blowers had one of the Mariners interns deliver them. The next night, signs calling for free fries were all over Safeco Field, and soon enough, the Mariners were scoring runs when the fries were delivered, prompting the "Rally Fries" moniker that has stuck -- even on the road.

8. "Nasty" Rally, Tampa Bay Rays: Only in a yard like Tropicana Field will you catch a professional wrestler with a blond Mohawk ranting and raving about his Rays in a jersey with ripped sleeves in a videotaped late-innings rally motivational message for the hometown nine. His name is Brian "Nasty" Knobbs, he's a season-ticket holder, and he's part of the famed Nasty Boys tag-team duo...

9. Home Run Apple, New York Mets: The lovably dented, bizarre, kitschy-chic apple that pops out of a top hat for every Mets home run has withstood mammoth blasts off the bats of Darryl Strawberry, Mike Piazza and Carlos Delgado since its inception in 1980...
Read the entire article...

May 7, 2008

A call for more french music at Montreal Canadiens games

From CBC Sports:

A prominent Quebec publisher is calling on the government to force the Montreal Canadiens to play more French-language music at the Bell Centre.

Michel Brule, publisher of Les Editions des intouchables, circulated a petition demanding the Quebec and Canadian governments set a quota for how much francophone music is played in the arena.

Brule said he was shocked the arena's disc jockey played only one French song during Game 7 of the Habs' first-round series against the Boston Bruins.

The petition calls on politicians to create content rules similar to CRTC regulations, and demands French-language songs make up at least 65 per cent of the tunes that echo through the Bell Centre. Read the entire article...

The article has generated over 60 comments from readers so far -- just about all of them against Brule's idea.

May 6, 2008

Speedo Guy: Master Distractor

Here's a fun video about "Speedo Guy": a Duke fan who used a speedo to distract the visiting UNC basketball team.

(via Partnership Activation)

May 5, 2008

Fire stunt delay @ Spurs vs. Hornets game

Here's a vid from a mascot stunt during Game 1 of the Spurs-Hornets NBA playoff series.

Between the first and second quarter, Super Hugo (the Hornets mascot) jumped through a hoop of fire. The stunt went fine (thankfully), but then the gameday crew couldn't extinguish the flaming hoop. The game was delayed 19 minutes as the fire was extinguished and the resulting mess cleaned up.

This could be the beginning of the end of fire stunts in the NBA.

May 1, 2008

Does Kansas City have the biggest video scoreboard?

The Kansas City Royals say that they have the biggest video scoreboard in the United States. A massive new Daktronics HD board measures 85 feet wide by 105 feet high, and sits smack dab in the middle of the outfield, soaring up above the stadium.

At 85 x 105 feet, that's 8925 square feet, it's bigger than the Arizona Diamondbacks display - 154x52 feet = 8008 square feet. If you know of a bigger video scoreboard, please post the info in the comments below.

Some info:
  • TV Technology: At almost 9,000 square feet (85-by-105), the giant Daktronix screen is powered by a Ross Switcher and a couple of EVS replays, Deko 3000s for graphics and Pro-Bel routing gear. The towering board—the nation’s largest, according to Daktronix—debuted at the Royals’ home opener against the Yankees Tuesday at Kauffman Stadium ... The screen, at 1584x1980, amounts to about two 16:9 screens on top of each other ... The $8 million-plus system board replaced a 17-year-old Sony.

  • Business Wire: Daktronics HD-X LED technology will be installed in a huge outfield structure behind center field measuring more than 100 feet high by 85 feet wide, topped with the familiar Royals iconic golden crown. The LED display will contain more than 1800 full-color lines of resolution with lines on 16 millimeter (.63) spacing. The display will be the largest HD LED board in the world, surpassing the former record holders designed and manufactured by Daktronics for Dolphin Stadium in Miami and Darrell K Royal Texas Memorial Stadium on the campus of the University of Texas in Austin
    Additional equipment will be installed prior to the start of the 2009 season. Two LED displays will be positioned on the fascia of the upper deck seating along right field and left field. These ribbon boards will measure approximately 4 feet high by 380 feet long. Also included will be two additional LED displays positioned in the outfield above the new restaurant/bar and above the new Hall of Fame, each to measure approximately 5 feet high by 108 feet long. Fans near the Little K baseball field, and by the Taste of KC plaza area, will also be able to catch the action on Daktronics LED video displays.