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Musings

Posted by Sean Rowland on December 13, 2017

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Time for another round of Musings channeling my inner Frank Costanza…”I’ve got a lot of problems with you people and now you’re gonna hear about it!”
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– If I see one more close up of Matt Patricia (New England Patriots Defensive Coordinator), I’m going to throw my remote at the TV! Why do producers love him so much? Is it the beard? or the red sweatshirt? or that he is portly? I would love someone to keep count of air time for an OC or DC and see how far out he would be in the lead. Only Rob Ryan got more unjustified TV shots.
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– College Basketball. You’ve done a lot to irk me in the last few years, with replay reviews being at the top of my list. I’ve got three more things to add. 1) The fake camaraderie of going to help a teammate up is pathetic. Every time someone goes down, you see three teammates sprint over to help them up. Is this being taught in practice? It’s quite over the top. 2) Speaking of over the top: Guards who get touched and blatantly throw their body around like it was the biggest hack ever. I thought refs were supposed to call fouls on them for overacting. 3) Speaking of refs: Why do you have to insist that benches sit down? What is the harm in bench players standing when the game gets tight or celebrating while the play is going on as long as they are off the court.
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– Listen for this because it happens a lot: Commentators at the end of the game saying: “Let’s take one more look” at a replay, when it is the very first look.
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– At the end of last-second victory, why does the camera have to go right to the coach? What is the obsession with coaches? Players play, they won the game, I want to see them celebrate on the field/court. I love emotion and it drives me insane (especially in college basketball) when there is a buzzer beater and you get 2 seconds of players piling on, followed immediately by 10 seconds of a coach going to shake the other coaches hand

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– The newest trend in soccer the last few years: For the player who commits a foul to scream at the player that was fouled to try and show that they were faking (of course there are times this is the case). It now happens all the time and it does nothing to persuade opinion now. Just makes them look like a fool

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– Taylor Twellman: Just Shut Up

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– In minor-league sports, we’ve seen a trend in recent years where baseball has gone local. Teams across the country have ditched generic or affiliation names for something more local. Last season, the Binghamton Mets became the Rumble Ponies and a few days ago, the Single-A Tampa Yankees are changing to the Tarpons. Zany yes, but it’s for the better. Why can’t hockey do this? Instead, we’ve seen an opposite trend. This past offseason in the AHL, we’ve seen three teams all become closer to their affiliate in location/colors/nickname: Belleville Senators, Binghamton Devils and Laval Rocket (though that was already the case with the first two). That’s why it was with such a relief to recently see the Maine Mariners unveil their great name and logo. Let’s hope what is happening in minor-league baseball starts to infiltrate minor-league hockey.  


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Bucket List – Football Stadiums

Posted by Sean Rowland on January 9, 2017

Camp Randall Stadium

There are a decent few I can cross off the football part of the Bucket List

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When I started laying down the foundation of this stadium travel hobby some 20 years ago, I never had a specific goal in mind, as hard as that may be to believe for those that know me well. The idea was just to visit as many arenas, stadiums and ballparks as possible. That continues to be the case, but I thought it would be fun to create a Bucket List. Even if the goal isn’t necessary to get to them all, this list might help me with trips to places that I really want to experience. There are 92 stadiums on this list and I’ve happily been to 20 so far. Most places are part of the five main sports in North America and over the next month or two, I’ll share my desired places to visit. Since we’re closing in on the end of the football season, let’s start there. Feel free to share your thoughts if you think one should be added to the Bucket List.

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Albertsons Stadium – Boise State Broncos:  The Blue Turf and the history of being one of rare non-Power 5 schools to break the mold in an increasingly money-driven era
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Arrowhead Stadium – Kansas City Chiefs:  Old-School NFL, yet modernized. Awesome, loud fans
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AT&T StadiumDallas Cowboys:  Don’t know if I like, just know I have to see for it’s sheer massive size (that’s what she said)
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Autzen StadiumOregon Ducks:  Loud! Though 2016 probably wasn’t the season to go visit
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Beaver Stadium – Penn State Nittany Lions:  Been Here! Enjoyed my game, though the atmosphere was somewhat lacking since it was against an FCS opponent
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Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Florida Gators:  Doing The Chomp in the The Swamp sounds like fun. Just not on a hot September Afternoon
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Bryant-Denny Stadium – Alabama Crimson Tide:  Because it’s Bama
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Camp Randall Stadium – Wisconsin Badgers:  Been Here! Lived up to expectations and Madison is an awesome place. Jump Around and the 5th Quarter were the highlights
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CenturyLink Field – Seattle Seahawks:  The 12th Man
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Darrell K. Royal Texas Memorial Stadium – Texas Longhorns:  I’ve been to a Texas baseball game and want to replicate on a bigger platform the “Hook em Horns” sign with “Deep in the Heart of Texas” playing
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Doak Campbell Stadium – Florida State Seminoles:  The Tomahawk Chop and Chief Osceola. Goosebumps
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Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium – Oklahoma Sooners:  I know this is on a here for a reason. Tradition? Boomer Schooner? Not at the top, but still want to attend
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Harvard Stadium – Harvard Crimson:  Oh the history. Love the Ivies
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Husky Stadium – Washington Huskies:  That View! And the recent renovations made this place even better. Seattle football fans have it made
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Jordan-Hare Stadium – Auburn Tigers:  Toomer’s Corner and everything else that embodies the SEC
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Kinnick Stadium – Iowa Hawkeyes:  Don’t know why, but I’ve always had a soft spot for Iowa football. Maybe it’s the water tower in the background that gives Kinnick a homey feel?
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Kyle Field – Texas A&M Aggies:  The Original 12th Man. What a sight when each seating deck sways with people
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Lambeau Field – Green Bay Packers:  No words
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Lane Stadium – Virginia Tech Hokies:  Enter Sandman
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LaVell Edwards Stadium – BYU Cougars:  There’s plenty of stadiums with nice views, but this one is hard to beat
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Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum – USC Trojans:  A crappy stadium, but important for it’s history. Great fight song too
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Memorial Stadium – Clemson Tigers:  Howard’s Rock and the run down to the field. Not to mention a darn good team the last few years
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Memorial Stadium – Nebraska Cornhuskers:  It’s not just the SEC where football is a religion. 
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Michie Stadium – Army Black Knights:  Been Here! The Setting, the Traditions, the Cadets. As good as it gets!
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Michigan Stadium – Michigan Wolverines:  Been Here!  A better stadium than I expected. The band really enhances the experience. Hearing “Let’s Go Blue” makes me think of an October Afternoon on a Saturday
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Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium – Navy Midshipmen:  I’m not too familiar with Navy’s game-day, but I would imagine it’s good
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Neyland Stadium – Tennessee Volunteers:  Rocky Top is my favorite fight song
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Notre Dame Stadium – Notre Dame Fighting Irish:  Been Here!   A walk throughout campus is just as memorable as the game. If you can’t tell by now, I love college bands and all of their music. ND has a good one in Celtic Chant
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Ohio Stadium – Ohio State Buckeyes:  OK, now I’m starting to wonder if I made this Bucket List solely on Marching Bands. Dotting the I and other great tunes are what I want to see (and hear) at the Horseshoe
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Razorback Stadium – Arkansas Razorbacks:  Wooooooooooooooooo Pig Soooooeeeeyyyyy
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Rose Bowl – UCLA Bruins:  A boring bowl of a stadium and an eh fan base for football…but one that has huge imporance in sport
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Sanford Stadium – Georgia Bulldogs:  Between the Hedges as about half the SEC made this list
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Tiger Stadium – LSU Tigers:  Death Valley. The pre-game food. The noise. At Night. Oh yeah!
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Vaught-Hemingway Stadium – Mississippi Rebels:  Really just want to go tailgating on The Grove
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Yale Bowl – Yale Bulldogs:  Been Here!  The place is literally falling apart…but, it was important to see

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The Year In Visits – 2016

Posted by Sean Rowland on December 23, 2016

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Locations of each stadium visited in 2016

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It’s the most, wonderful time, of the year…I enjoy recapping the year in stadium visits as it gives me a chance to reminisce before they become a little more distant in the memory bank. My goal each year is 12 new stadiums and that was met in 2016 with a varied assortment of facility types and locations. It’s been fun and memorable, so let’s take a look at the past year in stadium visits:

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Favorite New Stadium:  Robins Center……This was a lot harder than I thought, but the home of the Richmond Spiders narrowly gets the nod. Taking into account all-around experience, this was the best and it also has to be near the top of my all-time list in terms of arena design. A renovation turned this into a beautiful, classy place that is perfect for college basketball. Richmond is spoiled in that they have two great programs within miles of each other (the other being VCU).
………Honorable Mention: Siegel Center, Michigan Stadium

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Worst New Stadium:  Eunice Kennedy Shriver Stadium……My apologies to The College at Brockport as this one is a little unfair since Shriver Stadium is a D3 Football stadium, which means there should not be much expected. Still, there are better places to watch a game, even within the conference. This was as vanilla as it gets and I walked around aimlessly at times to just fight off the cold and occasional boredom.
………Honorable Mention:
Rynearson Stadium

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Favorite New City:  Ann Arbor, MI……A2 lived up to the hype as this is an awesome place to both live and visit. Downtown is full of great little shops and restaurants, while the sidewalks are always bustling with people. When researching places to eat before visiting, I bet that somebody could have an enjoyable meal at a different restaurant every night for half a year. The University of Michigan is close to the center of town and we walked a good portion of it with several sights to see along the way. 

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Most Memorable Moment:  VCU Peppas……Mesmerizing. They are amazing and elevate the game experience to a whole new level. I spent so much of the VCU game just enjoying their jams and while they have a reputation as one of the best in college basketball, it is hard to imagine a better band. After I returned home from this trip, I was on YouTube for an hour watching them at work.
………Honorable Mention: BLM Movement at Eastern Michigan, Hearing Hail To The Victors

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Best Restaurant:  Shiloh Grill…..Located in the Mount Washington section of Pittsburgh, this was an eclectic restaurant that delivered with an enjoyable meal. I had Fish Tacos that were exquisite, while my brother had an amazing Turkey Burger. People close to us probably thought we were crazy as we couldn’t stop re-enacting the Seinfeld scene from “The Outing” when Jerry and George are at the coffee shop (“No, No, I will not keep my voice down!”).  
………Honorable Mention: District Kitchen in Pittsfield, MA;  The Continental in Richmond, VA

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Best In-Stadium Food:   Primanti Bros.……This could go above too as we did visit the original in the Strip District while we were in Pittsburgh, but you can also get this at the Consol Ener…er, PPG Paints Arena. A local staple in Pittsburgh, this sandwich is a messy combination of everything, so it’s probably best to eat it at a counter in the concourse instead of a seat. The Pitts-burger and the Capicola & Cheese are two sandwiches offered, both good choices.
………Honorable Mention: The several Food Trucks at the Connecticut Tennis Center

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Best Game  Eastern Michigan vs Wyoming……Incredible to look back at this game as going in, these looked like two of college football’s bottom dwellers. Now, Eastern Michigan just reached their first bowl game since 1987 and the Cowboys completed a six win turnaround from the year before. This was a wacky game that featured mind-boggling turnovers, lead changes and off-field distractions. In the end, it was the Eagles who drove the length of the field for the winning score with a minute left to play.
………Honorable Mention: VCU vs George Washington;  Brockport vs Cortland; Pittsfield vs North Shore
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Championship Teams:  Pittsburgh Penguins……Walking out of the arena in downtown Pittsburgh, it would have taken a lot of persuading for me to believe that the Pittsburgh Penguins would win the Stanley Cup later in the Spring. We watched them go through the motions in a listless loss to Calgary that had the fans walking out in the middle of the third period. But, since that March loss, they played much better and it continued into the playoffs on the way to a second Cup.
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Best Drive:  US-20 between Pittsfield and Albany…..By default, this was the winner. Nothing special here, but there are trees and hills on a two-lane road making for a nice ride during the day. 

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Worst Drive:  I-87 in NY on a Summer Sunday……I know New Yorkers like to go “upstate” on weekends, but didn’t realize how congested they make the NY State Thruway in the Hudson Valley. The traffic and rain combined to delay me 1.5 hours and I later found out this is the norm in the summer months as everyone heads back to The City and surrounding areas.

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Weather:  6-6……That is 6 wins and 6 losses. The Pittsburgh and Richmond trips featured good late winter weather, while the Michigan trip was very pleasant. Everything else stunk as I fought an early season snowstorm (Ithaca), cold October winds (Brockport), a heat-index well into the 90s (CT Open) and rain (several places). Thankfully, the rain was light enough to get through the baseball games in Ramapo and Pittsfield, but I was not that lucky in Troy, where my luck ended as I had my first rainout.

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Best Side Trip:  Virginia State Capitol……My second visit to Richmond allowed me to visit another state capitol building and this one was the best I’ve seen yet. The original building dates back to Jefferson’s design in the late 1700s and as you would expect from this commonwealth, there is an abundance of statues and history here. Plus the grounds are well-maintained and there is a nice view from the hill.
………Honorable Mention: Ithaca Falls in Ithaca, Pinball Pete’s in Ann Arbor

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Best Return Trip:  Michigan Stadium……Simple, yet stylish. You have the “M” at midfield and the “Michigan” in the endzones which are both nice and traditional. My favorite touch is the different direction the fake grass every five yards. The slight differentiation in color is a good look.
………Honorable Mention: Siegel Center

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Olympic Sports

Posted by Sean Rowland on July 10, 2016

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Indoor Volleyball is a great sport to get behind during the Games

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Since I was a kid, I gravitated towards the lesser popular things in sports. The minor leagues, mid-major basketball teams, etc. I guess it is that underdog appeal, just taken to the next level in following those teams and stories from the beginning, not just near the Cinderella end. So it should come as no surprise that when the Olympic Games arrive, I enjoy Archery just as much as Swimming. In fact, I remember being younger and imagining a TV channel where each channel was dedicated to a sport. That wish has materialized during the last few games as each sport is broadcast live online (through NBC Sports), giving us the joy to pick which sport and event to watch. Needless to say, my production drops off during those two weeks.

This Summer Olympics feels different because of the awful going-ons in Brazil. There are certainly issues (see this NY Times article) and one should not ignore the many problems for Brazilians directly caused by hosting the games. But despite my guilt, I (just like the rest of the world) will tune in and follow/watch these games. Stadium Journey has a nice preview of the stadiums and venues, so I wanted to highlight the sports you should check out. Here in the United States, we have a remarkable variation of sports with many options for both participation and attending. Thus, it is hard for a “foreign” sport to squeeze in and find attention. The Olympics provide a great opportunity to learn, follow and enjoy something you may not be used to with competition at it’s best. Even though the popular Olympic sports only shine once every years, I invite you for a couple nights to skip the heavy dosage of prime-time swimming, storytelling, track, commercials and beach volleyball and check these out…
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1)  Handball

A combination of basketball, soccer and hockey…what’s not to like! I know that anyone that is a general sports fan would love this. Europe is the continent that plays the most and it certainly is a mix of our favorite sports. Enjoy some highlights.

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2)  Volleyball

While the beach is fun, I prefer the 6-on-6 indoor game. High Schools and Colleges have decent participation and I played in an intramural league in college that was a blast. The last few years, I’ve visited a couple NCAA venues and really enjoyed watching the contest. The strategy involved is intriguing and the matches are quick and fun to watch. Have you ever noticed how happy the women’s volleyball players are? I think this is the only sport with so many smiling athletes. 

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3)  Table Tennis

OK, there is a bias here because I had some heated ping-pong battles in high school. It can be hard to follow with the speed of the ball, but the rallies are intense. I love when someone throws a drop shot in there. Like tennis, there is both singles and doubles.

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4)  Badminton

Similar to table tennis, the birdie goes at light speed (like 200mph fast) and unlike a bright, yellow tennis ball, the white shuttlecock is hard to pick out. Nonetheless, it’s great to watch and it would be even better if NBC brought back Bill Clement to commentate.

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5)  Trampoline

Anytime this comes on, I feel like everyone collectively says “Oooohh Cooool”. Visually appealing, trampoline offers remarkable routines and skill. The intricacies and scoring of the sport make it hard to completely get in to, but there is certainly a hook that will have observers glued on it for awhile.

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The New Stadium Journey

Posted by Sean Rowland on July 2, 2016

SJ

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Many of you know that I also write for Stadium Journey, an expansive venture that provides readers with informative reviews of stadiums around the world. As you would think, it is right up my alley and the network that founder Paul Swaney has built is quite remarkable. With SJ being the primary source of information for those looking to head to a new sports facility for the first time, the growth has necessitated development in the website. I’m blown away how time is flying as I’ve done reviewing there since 2010 and as Stadium Journey gets closer to their 10th anniversary, it is with great excitement to see the website revamped and launched yesterday. With Scout’s vast resources, bigger and better things are on the horizon and the new site really helps navigating the hundreds (thousands?) of stadiums reviewed. My favorite aspect of the website is the Forums. As an avid sports traveler, our niche has lacked a centralized place for like people to communicate and share thoughts and ideas. This is exactly what stadium aficionados like myself need. In addition, there are many times, where I’ve had to surf and sift my way through the internet to try and find true feedback from locals about their team home. They not only provide valuable information on key review aspects, but also can help as I plan a trip in regards to restaurants, parking, parts of a city to visit/avoid, getting tickets, etc. I’m hoping both stadium lovers and general sports fans converge on these boards to get conversations going on the stadium experience. I’m truly excited for the new SJ website launch and you’ll see me active on the forums as sports traveler nuts now have an online social home!

 

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Musings

Posted by Sean Rowland on June 15, 2016

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Time for a round of Musings…this time, focusing on the world of sports watching not from a stadium perspective, but from the couch.
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– There will be a time when I get into talking about the best and worst announcers for each sport, so I will try not to digress. While some of the random mixing of announcer pairings for Tennis on ESPN annoys me, their coverage is far superior to the Tennis Channel / NBC and that was quite evident during the French Open. In the latter stages of the tournament, when I wanted to watch a much more compelling match, not only was there no online option to choose my match (well an online option without an extra fee), but I was stuck with TC’s full coverage of the nauseatingly boring Serena Williams match, which was a blow out. This is the time for that network to shine and it failed miserably. NBC’s normally terrific all-around sports coverage has it’s lone weak spot in Tennis with their often-ridiculed tape delay, despite the presence of NBCSN.
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– Fox Soccer…Holy crap are they awful and their winning of the World Cup broadcast rights makes me want to vomit. While they made strides in their Women’s World Cup coverage last year, the Copa has taken two steps back. I don’t have to watch any studio garbage, but what little bit I saw, it certainly made me avoid it at all costs. Lalas is being Lalas, but now we have Fernando Fiore. Yes, he has done soccer, but he also is more known as a TV entertainment guy, which is classic Fox to bring him in. He’s polarizing and you can put me this opinion’s corner. The good thing: no Wynalda. The actual game coverage has not been immune from errors and the most egregious is the failed sync of sound and video during the US-Columbia match, leading to the TV audience hearing Columbia score a goal 1 second before the ball went in. Could you imagine that happening in a World Cup?! But, I bring you back to what I wrote last year in that if it’s the World Cup, America still doesn’t really care. I will say that I really like John Strong and I think Stuart Holden has done very well thus far. Which brings me too…..
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– ESPN’s world soccer coverage is terrific and continues to be so. Everything with their Euro coverage is terrific and it starts with The General, Bob Ley. He is masterful as studio host and most of the other pundits are great as well. Tirico, for his short time left at ESPN, is a very solid #2. The only thing I would change, is get rid of the often snarky Taylor Twellman. He has no chemistry with the excellent Ian Darke and I am thrilled when I hear Macca paired up with him instead. A Holden for Twellman swap would be welcomed. Otherwise, great stuff from them and that music! Oh that theme gives me goosebumps when I hear it. It was one of my top TV theme songs and I often get memories of a celebrating US team post-match with that gradually crescendo-ing theme in the background. Glorious!
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– If I ever watch Final Round golf coverage of a non-major, it is often on DVR before I go to bed. This is the ONLY way to go if the event is on CBS because of the insane amount of commercials. How this topic has never been broached, I don’t know (well, I guess I do, it’s non-major golf!), but the next event, I am going to keep track of how many sets of commercials are run. My guess…12 separate sets at a total of 24 minutes. I’ll update after this happens.
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The Mass Transit Systems

Posted by Sean Rowland on November 1, 2015

DC Metro (image from Wikimedia Commons)

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Having now been to many stadiums located in large city centers, I have often opted for mass transit. As long as I can find a convenient Park & Ride, going the route of train/subway/bus typically is cheaper and less stressful. Well, most times the stress is reduced as that is not always the case if the system is confusing. I am by no means an experienced rider, so my thoughts may differ from those that ride on a daily basis. However, I represent the typical visitor to a city and have found some systems to be great, while others…not so much. Below are some thoughts in order from favorite to least favorite:

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1. DC Metro

My first experience with the DC Metro was around 15 years ago, when as a senior, my High School Government Class took a trip to see the inauguration of George W. Bush as President. Varsity Metro Riders was the running joke I think. Anyway, a visit back to DC this summer with a heavy use of the Metro made me realize how excellent the system is. Navigation is easy and the stations are generally clean. Little touches really help out visitors, like having vertical signs showing each stop on the line and direction you are heading in. The florescent lights on the floor that illuminate when trains are coming is excellent too.

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2. NYC Subway

This one may be a little bit more challenging to navigate with all the different letter and number lines, however the sheer expanse and ability to go almost anywhere in the City makes the network great. Add in the other train authorities like NJ Transit, Metro-North and the LIRR that all funnel into either Penn Station or Grand Central (which has subway connections) and you can see why a car is not needed at all in NYC. The whole Metrocard is a little antiquated, but it works. There is almost a bit of a grimy charm to the underground stations and that is seen when they get replicated in other spots (SNL’s music stage, the Brooklyn Nets floor).

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3. Chicago’s “L”

The “L” is short for “Elevated”, which unlike many of the East Coast subway options, Chicago’s is mostly above ground. To be honest, I don’t actually remember much about using this system a few times back in 2011. I guess that’s a good thing. The process seemed simple and I never got confused figuring out how to board and buy a pass. I also really enjoyed seeing parts of the city through the window instead of being underground.

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4. Boston’s “T”

It has been more than a decade since I have ridden the “T”, Boston’s “T”ransportation Authority. Undoubtedly, I’ll be back up to the area at some point for various stadium visits. I need to re-visit to add any more thoughts on this one.

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5. SEPTA in Philadelphia

Blah…what a crap experience I had here for the Eagles game a few weeks ago. I believe I am at least somewhat intelligent and I could not figure out how to use the transfer ticket from NJ’s PATCO. The ticket counter person was incredibly rude and unhelpful. The other time I took the subway from Center City to South Philly for a Flyers game several years ago, I remember thinking how rundown it felt. Add in a confusing fare structure and the uncertainty of an express train and you’ve got a really poor, unfriendly service.

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Other Notes
While out west, I had the option to use TriMet in Portland, OR and the Light Rail in Denver, but choose to drive instead as it wasn’t too difficult or expensive to do so in those cities. From what I read before each trip, both systems are excellent and well worth using as a visitor.

Pittsburgh and Baltimore were two other places that had a light rail option. Though each system is small, I may try it on one of my next visits. In particular, plans are being made for a Pittsburgh Penguins game and I’ll probably use their “T”, which is free downtown!

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Stadiums and Arenas Map

Posted by Sean Rowland on July 27, 2015

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Finally, after a few years of sporadic work, I completed getting markers for all of the arenas, ballparks and stadiums from
 The List on to Google Maps. In the beginning of this hobby all the way back in the early 2000s, to geographically see the venues on The List, I used Microsoft Streets & Trips, because frankly Mapquest sucked (and still does). I put a pushpin on all the cities that had a facility and this was a great tool to not only see where I had been, but also to make trip plans. I still use this program (a version from 2010, which I hope survives on future computers) as it helps immensely.

But this did not resonate online well and even though, I put screenshots of the maps online, it was a pain and not practical to update. So, very slowly, I built a Google Map with each of the 1300+ arenas, ballparks and stadiums marked. The cool thing is the satellite feature allowing me to put the marker exactly where the facility is (and with a nice overhead shot to boot). Red markers indicate that I have yet to make an official visit to that facility, while the Green ones are for those that I have visited. Blame Google for not being able to sort the markers in each category alphabetically. Extremely frustrating as I’m able to see and do that on the creator’s end, but not as a visitor. It’s also irritating how one can not properly set the default view (satellite and an appropriate zoom). Despite these drawbacks, the map came out pretty well as I’ll be keeping it up to date and using it as a planning guide along with still holding on to old-school methods. Check out the map above (click the brackets in the upper right to enlarge) or go to: https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=zhu3olRqLfQI.kWEuQjCl4q98

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Musings

Posted by Sean Rowland on July 8, 2015

US Soccer

Yes, Soccer fandom is certainly growing nicely in the US, however let’s stop equating World Cup viewing eyeballs to the sport becoming “mainstream”

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– The Women’s World Cup pulled in some decent TV ratings, specifically the final, which garnered the highest viewing audience for a soccer match ever in the USA. With this news, the accompanying articles came flying in this week, talking about the growth of the game and how it is becoming mainstream. These stories come out after EVERY World Cup and the approximate number of eyeballs watching (and most of the public does not realize how much insane guesswork goes into these so-called Ratings) does not equate to the “growth” of the game. The majority of these people that watch US soccer get caught up in the patriotism as we Americans love getting behind the U-S-A, no matter the event. Take an informal poll of people that you know watched the women’s game and see how many genuinely have or will become fans of domestic or international soccer? A better question would be to those people that did watch the women, how many knew about Copa America going on around the same time, arguably the 3rd biggest soccer tournament in the world. While I do absolutely love our patriotism, comradery, passion and youthful energy for these events, let’s hold on the seemingly annual discussion of how the game is exploding in popularity because people watch a World Cup. We can safely say that the soccer momentum is gradually building (see the American Outlaws and the MLS Supporter Groups) and it’s been a thrill to both be a part of it and watch it over the last decade, but it will be awhile until the overall game is “mainstream”.
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– What’s the deal with tennis players touching each other now at there post-match handshake at the net. Does anyone else notice that instead of just shaking hands, male tennis players have a relatively new tendency to gently touch the opponent’s stomach, chest, or my new favorite, the cheek (see Jo-Wilfried Tsonga during the early Wimbledon rounds). I’m not opposed, but it’s a little weird and why is this now the hip thing?
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– Does anyone else get annoyed with the sports ticker at the bottom of the screen during events on ESPN, Fox, etc. NBC Sports Network at least does it right by not using it during events. I find the use of a ticker incredibly distracting when watching event and wish we would get away from this during games. I feel like in this day and age with smartphones, fans can get the info they want pretty quickly instead of seeing the gibberish at the bottom that has 75% useless “news” or scores. Good news are decent trends as the 24 hour sports networks have stopped using the bottom ticker during bigger sporting events.
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– Less than 60 days until Football is back….Yes! Yes! Yes! 

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Top Mascots

Posted by Sean Rowland on May 5, 2015

The Original Moose, mascot of the Rochester Americans of the AHL (image from FrontierField.org)

The Original Moose, mascot of the Rochester Amerks of the AHL (image from FrontierField.org)

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Ah the mascot. A staple in the sports stadium scene as this costumed character is in charge of bringing fun to the crowd. While they cater to kids, a truly great mascot is one that can entertain both child and adult. Normally when I am out visiting a new sports facility, I hardly notice the mascot roaming around, so if they are able to make a good impression, it is noteworthy. Below are the top mascots that I’ve seen in the over 150 stadiums visited so far.

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1) The MooseRochester Americans (AHL)
Full disclosure on this one as I grew up in Rochester and have probably been to 50 Amerks games. With that being said, I still think The Moose is as good as it gets. The costume is “classic mascot” with the teddy bear like body and stuffed animal face that kids just eat up, while the antics are loved by adults that still are a kid at heart. My favorite move is when The Moose would go to the side board near the net and he would put on the glass a stick-on toy. There was this button he would be holding where the toy (designed as a boy) would pull down his pants and moon the other side. Loved watching him do that as the opposing goalie took a break and wandered towards the glass.

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2) SluggoEugene Emeralds (Northwest League)
Sluggo is downright for adults. His mischievous antics are well-known throughout the circuit and I was first introduced by watching him throw water balloons into the opposing team’s dugout. Think about that for a second. I laughed more than a few times throughout the game and could not believe some of the stuff it got away with.

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3) Otto the OrangeSyracuse Orange (NCAA)
He may be a little over-hyped thanks to ESPN’s love of Syracuse, but he is adorable! Who can result a puffy orange ball with a happy face? He is not only fun to look at, but you’ve also got to love his moves that fit the character so well like the disco thing he likes doing with his hands and those somersaults where he tucks his feet in.

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4) Philly PhanaticPhiladelphia Phillies (MLB)
Here is a classic that still shines. The Phanatic has provided nearly 40 years of phun at Phillies games and his shtick never gets old. Quite a bit of time has passed since the Lasorda/Phanatic dust up in 1988, yet after watching it again, it’s almost impossible not to laugh out loud. It’s good to see some people have lightened up years later.

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5) The HawkSt. Joseph’s Hawks (NCAA)
The Hawk Never Dies. More of an exhibitionist than entertainer, The Hawk spends the entire game flapping his wings, not once stopping. You can’t help checking in on it during stoppages of play just to see if those wings are still going. And they are.

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