Monday, July 31, 2006

Heat wave in the Midwest

Happy Monday folks - I am sitting in the Crowne Plaza in Minneapolis and it has been hotter here than Atlanta.

Was here for the Holiday Inn Ultimate Road Trip and it was just so freakin' hot outside the Metrodome. Stood there for two days and had a ton of people come by and check us out. Was great to meet all kinds of people. The coolest part is the Big Green Bus. This is the way to travel the country and see baseball.

Actually got to see the Tigers-Twins game on Saturday - we sat in the last row of the upper deck on the 3rd base side. Not great for baseball - but for sure it's good for football. Reminded a few friends of how the Falcons loved the Dome. Didn't go over well here - all responded that Atlanta may like it for football, but not for baseball. Fair enough.

Thankfully - heading home after a promotion at the Holiday Inn Select in Bloomington, which is right next to the Mall of America.

Went there yesterday with the Myers clan and it's cool. I had been there before - but it's just funny as heck that a kid from the mall capital of the world (NJ) is impressed with a mall. It's got a roller coaster, log flume, all kinds of great stuff for kids and shopping as well. But it's just huge. And if you think it's packed when it's cold in the winter, yesterday was jammed so people could cool down.

Anyway - that's it for now. Off to Aspen next week for our Wexner program ... should be a very interest program considering what's going on in the world.

One last thought... I think I know a way to pay off the national debt and the war(s) - let's kick that piece of trash Kofi Annan and his moron friends in the UN out of our country and sell the land on the East River to a developer. Sure it will fetch a great price. Can someone remind Mr. Annan that if they had actually followed up on res 1559 for Hezbollah - this would not be happening. Nevermind the fact that the two Israeli soldiers were kidnapped right next to a UN watching station. WHAT pray tell, are you watching if you let this happen? The UN is useless and antisemetic for sure. If they ever did what they were supposed to do - the world would be a lot better. Instead the only thing better is Kofi's pockets...

Have a great week.

Monday, July 24, 2006

But for the grace of God go I...

Not sure about y'all (Southern term of endearment I still don't get) - but I can't stop myself from watching the news.

By the way - I hope and pray that all of you are watching ANYTHING other than CNN. The only thing more left of them and the New York Times is a car on the NASCAR circuit in turn three. And we have canceled our subscription to the Times as well. I am sick and tired of seeing dead Arabs on the front page and dead Israelis on page 6 and beyond. Bunch of freakin' clowns. I wrote a letter to the editor ripping them and telling them they should move their offices to Beirut!)

Sorry - where was I? Oh yeah, I wake up and go to sleep watching the Middle East crisis. I don't even know what to call it anymore because it's not a crisis - it's now or never for Israel.

Never before have they had a chance to go do what they are doing with many countries in the world that "dislike them immensely" saying they aren't happy with them - but then quietly cheering their moves.

Israel is doing the world's dirty work. Plain and simple. Why else is the Bush administration being as supportive as they are? They are going after a group of people that are part of the "Axis of Evil."

Evil. There is no better word to describe people that hide behind civilians. There is no word to describe how they hide their rockets and weapons in villages and then when Israelis target that village - they say, "Innocent civilians were killed." Gee - when that's where you put the bad stuff - what did you think was going to happen? But has anyone said that? Has anyone condemned the Hezbollah for killing their brothers and sisters?

You see the pictures of Israelis running for their bomb shelters on a nightly occasion and it's hard not to think back to the 50's and 60's when people here in the U.S. had bomb shelters. Maybe someday soon, we will need them again to protect us from the Islamic fundamentalist walking around right now on U.S. soil.

I remember my first day at Northeastern University - President Kenneth Ryder in his yearly speech to freshman said, "Look to your left. Look to your right. One of those people won't be here in three years." We can change that to say, "Look to your left. Look to your right. One of those people could well be an Islamic Fundamentalist." It's possible, isn't it? You don't actually think our borders are safe, do you? Heck we have more Mexicans living amongst us than live most of Mexico does. If they got in, you don't think others could too?

When will this end? When will these people understand reality? From the looks of things - not for a long, long time. Scary, scary thought for all.

My Aunt Michele is in Israel right now and I think about her and her USYers she is with. I hope and pray for their safe return as well as the safety of all Israelis. The soldiers are fighting for not only their peace - but for our as well. Let's hope they succeed. I am afraid for the free world if they don't.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Survivor Long Island

Somewhere in the afterlife, an old friend of mine is laughing his ass off.

Somewhere former University of Maine head coach Shawn Walsh is playing golf, smoking a cigar and telling stories about his former goaltender Garth Snow.

I can hear him now, "Unfreakin' believable. Just wild, kid, just wild."

Yesterday, Snow woke up, retired and was hired as the General Manager of the New York Islanders. Just 40 days after owner Charles Wang hired Neil Smith to do the job, he was gone and replaced by a player.

It's happened twice before, Bobby Clarke with the Flyers and Serge Savard with the Canadiens. Savard did well and Clarke has and is still struggling. Time will tell on Snow, but it may not be fair to judge him from this situation.

After all, it is Wang who has destroyed a once proud franchise. It starts with Mike Milbury and how in the heck he kept his job as long as he did. He went through coaches like Steinbrenner went through managers.

If you look back on the last decade of Islander drafts, they could have had a team to beat all-teams. Some of the names that could be Islanders right now are Heatley, Luongo, Chara, Berard and Jokinen. Not a bad start right? Well, instead of that, they have the mess that Wang has created now.

CNN/SI's Michael Farber has a great column on the Islanders with an opening paragraph to end all paragraphs on the subject:

"From the franchise that brought you scam artist/owner John Spano, those fishsticks uniforms and enough egregious hockey and bumbling management to all but destroy the legacy of one of the National Hockey League's dynastic powers of the 1980s, we now have the curious one-month reign of general manager Neil Smith."

Somewhere, Shawn Walsh is turning to his golfing partner and saying, "With two former Black Bears as GM's (Dave Nonis - Vancouver), I would have been coaching in the show by now. I wonder if Mike Dunham is going to back up Snow as his assistant GM. Just wild, kid."

Not wild, Shawn, predictable on the Island. The only question is how do Islander faithful vote off Mr. Wang?

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Motel, hotel, Holiday Inn.....

OK, admit it. You loved Rapper's Delight from the Sugarhill Gang.

I know I did and still do.. everytime I hear it, I reminisce back to the Rink in Bergenfield, N.J. It was a cheesy a place there was - but I used to have a blast going roller skating.

It's always funny how little things throw you back to your past.

But speaking of the Holiday Inn, I am working on a project right now for a friend for the Holiday Inn. I am working on the Ultimate Baseball Roadtrip - helping blog, PR, etc.

They are out with a contest that the winner gets two tickets to every ball park in the country and hotel in each city as well. How cool would that be to win? Make sure to click on the link and try it out. Also tell your friends and throw a link on your page to it for me as well.

Check out the blog and contest ... it's great stuff. Have a great week.

Monday, July 10, 2006

ZZ flips his top

Happy Monday. Hope everyone had a great weekend.

I was going take today off in honor of turning 38, but something stupid happened along the way this weekend that I can't get past.

I watched the World Cup final yesterday. I know many of you out there in TV land think that soccer is one of the most boring sports ever played. But if you watched any of the last two weeks of soccer and thought that, you need not read further.

You have not, will not and just plain don't get the beauty of international athletics. This is the biggest thing in EVERY country other than ours. Billions of people around the globe gathered to watch this sporting event. BILLIONS!

Think about that? People without TV sets in every room of their homes found a set somewhere to watch this. Americans, for the most part, wouldn't cross a street to watch soccer.

Growing up in the New York City area in the 70's, I was fortunate enough to have the New York Cosmos of the North American Soccer League to watch. Pele, Chinaglia, Beckenbauer, and Messing. Some of the greatest players ever - but most of this country still doesn't get the sport.

Just insane.

And speaking of insane, let's talk about one of the greatest footballers of my life time, Zinedine Zidane. He was the most dominant player in the 2006 World Cup. France had only been to one World Cup final before Sunday and it was in 1998 because of Zidane.

On Sunday, the 34-year-old was about to take a team that no one thought would be in the final, back to the top of the mountain. He scored the first goal of the match seven minutes in on a penalty kick. Just calmly walked up and knocked it in. He then dominated play - including an incredible header that was brilliantly saved by Italian keeper Gianluigi Buffon.

Zidane got hurt in the 80th minute of the game and almost came out of the match after he fell on his shoulder, but he wouldn't quit. It brought back memories of Franz Beckenbauer playing with his arm in a sling for Germany many years ago. He was about to ride out into the sunset in legendary status in his last match.

But then IT happened.

In the 110th minute, Zidane went postal for a split second. He was walking away from Italian defender Marco Materazzi when he turned around and slammed his head into Materazzi's chest.

Read that last paragraph again. I can't believe I typed it, still.

Here he is, 10 minutes away from penalty kicks to win the World Cup, and Zidane lost it. We could find out what the heck Materazzi said to him, but does it really matter? Things get said in the heat of battle all the time and this rarely happens.

In my mind, I try to think of Mark Messier in 1994 with 10 minutes to go in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals, turning and slashing someone and getting tossed from the game. Even so, it wasn't Messier's last game nor was it for his country's honor. Joe Montana? Michael Jordan? Pick a star and a game. Doesn't matter. I can't see it.

With Zidane and Thierry Henry out, Italy dominated the penalty kicks and won 5-3.

It's almost impossible to come up with a scenario like this, because the great athletes almost never lose it like this on the grandest stage of all. Think of your favorite athlete of all-time in his biggest game ever. They may have not played well and lost, but they never snapped like Zidane did on Sunday.

After the match, Zidane wasn't even allowed to come out and receive his second place medal.

The picture of Zidane walking off the pitch with his head down as he walked past the golden trophy he and his teammates worked so hard for, summed up his shame and frustration of losing it for a split second.

One second.

All of the great things Zidane did for the game of soccer, gone in a blink of an eye. Or in his case, a butt of his head.

One second.

It's a second that will haunt and follow Zidane for the rest of his life. It will baffle the soccer world for a lot longer than that.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

38 or 6 to 4

One may wonder why I love Chicago.

The city, not the band.

Even though I love the original band, there's nothing like an afternoon on the North side of town when the Cubs are home.

I went up there with a few friends last week for 40 hours to see the Chicago Cubs play two games. One night game, one day game. For those who haven't been, you have to make this trip if you enjoy baseball in the slightest bit.

I am a Cubs fan - win, lose or draw. This is what baseball is supposed to be. There is no stadium like Wrigley. Fenway is close - but the atmosphere of an afternoon game on a Wednesday when the Cubs are playing poorly is incredible.

There were 40,000 people at the game. Plus there must have been another 15,000 people at Murphy's and the Cubby Bear just to watch the game there. Doesn't anyone work in Chicago?

Actually the hardest workers are the vendors at Wrigley. My one friend, Seth, commented that he hadn't seen that many people working that hard in Atlanta's stadium in 30 years never mind one game. You could have a new beer every 10 seconds - not a bad thought.

The Cubs even happened to split two games for me ... even though Ryan Dumpster shouldn't have blown the first game, but it's what he does.

But it doesn't matter. Cubs fans love Wrigley, the atmosphere and their team. I will keep going back as long as I am alive and I can't wait to take the kids to Wrigley.

I was sitting there, looking at the ivy and I was reflecting about life. Monday will be the start of my 38th year on this planet ... I can't believe it. I don't know what's scarier - the fact that I am 38 or have two kids? Both are mind boggling to many of you as well. But let's not stop there - Saturday will be my sixth anniversary. How is this possible? How does time fly like this?

It seems as if one day I was in high school and the next day I am sitting on the 4th of July holding my kids and watching the fireworks in Atlanta from my parents apartment. I am the same person, only with more white in my hair and beard, right?


I have added pieces to the puzzle as life has gone by. I have made great friends, have made a wonderful family, have changed careers and have kept the core of me the same. Not bad for a kid from Jersey?

Billy Crystal talks about the "One" thing that matters in City Slickers after he found out what it was - but he wouldn't share it with anyone. You had to figure it out for yourself.

It took a while - but I think I got it. Family, friends and even the Cubs makes me smile. Even listening to Chicago the band can, "Make Me Smile."

What does it for you? Stop for a minute this week and ponder how lucky we are. I know I am soapboxing ... but why not? Enough people bitch and moan. If you are one of them - give it up for a day. Find your happy thought and go do someting to make yourself smile.

Consider it a birthday present to me. It's cheaper than the postage of sending a card....