Day: September 16, 2011

New York Manscapers

Henrik Lundqvist didn’t just have me at “I am from Sveeden, ya?” but when he mentioned in Time Out New York this week that he wore suits four-five days a week.

*SWOON*

Much of it is an occupational thing — after all, he plays hockey that much per week, and wears suits as he travels with the team. Plus, I had the opportunity to get some photos of him at the Manhattan Center for a Rangers subscriber event and I think it was either Brandon Prust or Brian Boyle who said, “The invite said ‘business casual’ and Henrik looks like he’s going to the Prom!”

Sean Avery is clearly a goon on the ice, but he’s well-known in fashion circles, and even interned at Vogue for a time.  I’m one of the few Rangers fans who actually loves Avery.  I also like that he’s been outspoken against bullying and for marriage equality.  Sports guys are supposed to be seen as “tough guys,” and though there’s no question about Avery being one, I admire that he’s so passionate about these things, stuff no sports guys ever were to talk about.

Oh and Brad Richards, our new guy?  Made an appearance at Fashion Week

More eye candy for the ladies came in the form of Mark Sanchez’s spread in GQ.  Damn, he looks good in green, doesn’t he???  The cover story said “Thank God It’s Football Season.”  All I could think is…let’s thank her for Mark Sanchez!!

Make no mistake: I am a sports chick, and I love attending games and watching them on TV…Hell, my husband and I might get divorced this weekend because I am pulling rank to watch the Jets game over the Mets game (on at the same time, thanks for the TV geniuses who didn’t consult with MY schedule).

That doesn’t mean, I can’t appreciate a good looking man, especially one in uniform.

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The Myth of the Franchise Player

Synonymous with Mets is Tom Seaver.  “Tom Terrific” is known as “The Franchise,” the player who was singularly responsible for making the Mets relevant.  Adding him to the pitching staff with the likes of Jerry Koosman, Gary Gentry and Nolan Ryan, and coupling him with players like Cleon Jones and Tommie Agee, caused the Mets to win their first championship in 1969.

Legend has it that the Mets were never quite the same after Dr. Evil himself, M. Donald Grant, traded away the Franchise, literally and figuratively, for some spare parts. It was true, in a way, but then again, so was the dynamic changing in baseball. Indirectly relating to the trade of Tom Seaver was the underlying notion that he wanted to be paid up, suckas.  Grant didn’t think Seaver was above the Mets name, and subsequently got rid of him by planting some unfavorable quotes in the NYC sports “tabloids,” if you will.

But the dynamic was also changing because of the era of free agency.  And to that, I ask, is the “franchise player” still relevant?

You know who that is: the guy who is known for playing for one team; who made his mark with one team; who may have played for another team, but was never quite the player he was with that synonymous team.  I think the closest we might have today is Albert Pujols. That, however, may change this offseason due to his contentious situation with being the best player in baseball (well, maybe Alex Rodriguez takes umbrage with that) and being a free agent.  I think his brand with the Cardinals is significant, but as my friend Bill Ivie has said, the Cardinals were a great franchise before Pujols, they’ll still be a great franchise without him.  Time will tell.

But then look at Carlos Beltran.  Perhaps one of the most divisive Mets in recent memory, his injuries may prevent him from ever making the Hall of Fame.  Yet, I had a Twitversation the other day with some other Mets fans about him playing a few more years, uninjured. I think if it walks and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck, and Beltran cannot stay healthy.  I said, the harsh reality is he could be another Moises Alou, a great player whose injury-marred seasons keep him from getting his call to the Hall.  However, someone said, if he DID come around with great numbers and played into his 40s without as many injuries, it would be hard pressed to have him go in as a Met, even though he did play seven years with them.

I guess I am raising these questions because of the Mets’ own “Franchise Players” and “Faces of the Franchise,” David Wright and Jose Reyes.

The Mets and those of us who live, breathe and eat any information surrounding the team have a contentious situation on their hands, especially regarding Reyes’ status as a free agent after the 2011 season.  Couple that with David Wright, which is another contentious situation in and of itself.  While not a free agent, he has an option that he can decline if he gets traded (which makes him a less attractive trading candidate), but then he’s had a noticeable drop off, but on the flip side he’s had one of his first injury-plagued seasons in recent memory (he’s been relatively healthy, considering all the injuries this stupid team has had in the last three years).

It gives me pause because they are still young and productive, yet I wonder if perhaps we all need a change of scenery.  Meaning we, as fans, with the same “cornerstone” players, and the players themselves.  M. Donald Grant may have been a Douchecanoe Deluxe, but perhaps he was prophetic in trying to set with us, that a player isn’t above the Franchise.  Well, he was wrong in the case of Seaver, but the dynamic of the game has changed since then.

Look at the Dodgers.  Their two franchise players, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, are essentially the equivalent of our Reyes and Wright.  They even have an A+ starter in Clayton Kershaw.  And they STILL can’t fucking win or make money!

Look, the Mets situation is precarious, and perhaps I am too close to it.  I was discussing on Twitter (and if you aren’t following me you SHOULD!! @Coopz22) the other with my friends over at the Daily Stache about the Reyes situation.  Basically, I feel like the issue is now that the Mets are mailing it in (something that Terry Collins is NOT happy about), we are going on our third straight losing season, our legs and asses are cramped up from wanting to jump for joy but we can’t because there is nothing making us do that, and now the prospect of losing guys we feel should be in Mets uniforms forever is something we are nonchalant about.  “Whatever,” has been my philosophy at this point.

I know things will change once the postseason is over, and who knows, maybe the Mets and Reyes will come to an agreement and we’ll be happy.  But I think what will make us happier is WINNING.  Reyes and Wright certainly has not been enough.  The onus is on the personnel to seriously evaluate the team and not attend to what the fans want.  Yes, I know Reyes makes us a lot of us happy.  And his injuries are a cause for concern, especially since they basically have said his running game (what makes Jose Jose) has been halted because of his hamstring issues this year.

I know I would hold onto Reyes simply for emotional reasons because I love him and want him to be a Met forever.  The other more rational side of me says that the time is not now. This team is a few years away from winning, and would it make a huge difference to lose with him or without him.

The Darker Side of Hockey

This hasn’t been a good summer for hockey.

I guess I’m pretty much like most hockey fans, that I like a good fight (or as my friend Merkakis points out, “I went to a fight and a hockey game broke out.”).  I like oafs picking fights with other guys. I like penalties.  I like seeing punches thrown.

Yet, there is a very high price we pay to see those happen, with the so-called “enforcers” on the ice.  Three deaths occurred in hockey over the summer that were shocking, but also preventable and in a sense, predictable.  The Rangers own Derek Boogaard died of a drug overdose, newly retired Wade Belak and soon-to-be Winnipeg Jet Rick Rypien both committed suicide, dealing with depression (even Rypien suffered from the affliction openly and welcomed the opportunity to discuss it).

We may poke fun at certain players for being open about depression, which as the saying goes, is a flaw in chemistry not in character, but this is a very serious affliction that needs to be addressed and accepted.  Even the Mets’ Taylor Buchholz notably went on the DL midseason, claiming depression as the reason.  It makes us take a step back that perhaps these players are just like us, even if they perform on a worldwide stage and make millions.

What was also noteworthy, going back to the hockey hit men, is that if they also have a flaw in chemistry, the brain injuries they suffer as an occupational hazard gives players some pause to the very role they play on a hockey team.  As an example, Boogaard’s family has donated his brain for studies to see about the physical stress that the game tolls on their bodies, most notably their brains.

I love seeing fights, but it gives me pause, as a fan, to think about what these players go through as a result.  Sure, they wear lots of padding, helmets, protective gear, but at the end of the day, they are essentially hunters and it takes a different mindset to be an enforcer.

Specifically, the deaths of Boogaard, Rypien and Belak have shined a light on the psyche of hockey enforcers.

“It’s stressful,” said the Hawks’ John Scott, who is one of the most feared players in the league because of his fighting ability. “There’s always stress being a tough guy in the league. Every day you’re worried about fighting, keeping your job (and) getting in the lineup. It weighs on you.”

Lastly, I’ve been processing the death of the KHL Lokomotiv in a tragic plane crash last week.  It’s beyond any processes to comprehend the loss of an entire team, and even a former Ranger, Alexander Karpovtsev died in the crash.

It’s gonna be a tough year for hockey.  Friends and guys they’ve considered family have died and very tragically.  I know the saying is that the show must go on and all that.  And it will, but I will be hard pressed to find another sport with such a tragic offseason leading to question marks in how the game will be played from now on.