Category Archives: Daniel

The L.A. Kings & America’s Underachievers

Last night the Los Angeles Kings completed an improbable postseason run by dispatching New Jersey 6-1 in game six to capture their first ever Stanley Cup.

After limping into the postseason as the eighth seed in the West, the Kings stunned the Canucks and then proceeded to knock off both the Blues and the Coyotes en-route to the Finals. An eighth seed no longer, the team had seemingly evolved into a powerhouse overnight, losing only two games through the first three rounds and being undefeated in all road games. Not surprisingly, they headed into the final round matchup against the Devils as touted favourites.

The Kings’ 3-0 series lead in the Finals quickly evaporated with Martin Brodeur rediscovering his form and the Devils claiming games four and five, bringing the series back from the dead. With a hyped and expectant Staples Center behind them for game six, the Kings would stamp out any hopes of New Jersey completing their comeback and they took an unassailable lead early. The Cup was theirs.

For the Kings and their fans, this day had been a long time coming. Forty-five years in fact.

Not even The Great One could bring a title to LA

The Kings franchise began in 1967, seeking to cash in on the success that had met Los Angeles’ other professional teams: the Lakers (moved from Minneapolis in 1960) and the Dodgers (moved from Brooklyn in 1958). The Lakers and Dodgers quickly became woven into the fabric of the city but a professional hockey team did not find it as easy to acclimatise. The combination of Marcel Dionne, Charlie Simmer and Dave Taylor (one of the highest scoring trios in league history) in the late 1970s brought immense promise but failed to yield results. Over time, the team started gaining a good fan-base in the city and their cause was made infinitely easier in 1988.

Wayne Gretzky’s arrived in the City of Angels in 1988 on the back of a nine-year stint with the Edmonton Oilers, with whom he won four championships. In addition to bringing results on the ice, Gretzky legitimized and popularized pro hockey not only in Los Angeles but state-wide, paving the way for two more expansion teams in California: the San Jose Sharks (1991) and the Anaheim Ducks (1993). With the help of the ‘Great Gretzky’, the Kings made it all the way to the Finals in 1993 but fell short to a Montreal side intent on getting their franchise’s 24th championship. This momentum did not last and the franchise constantly failed to replicate their 1993 success, only making the playoffs six times since.

No longer.

This year’s ensemble led by Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown and Jonathan Quick have laid the doubts to rest.

With no NFL team in Los Angeles and both the Lakers and Clippers bowing out early in the NBA playoffs, all eyes in the city were on the Kings and they delivered. Right now, they truly are the Kings of LA.

By finally reaching the summit, the Kings removed themselves from the unenviable position of being a chronic American underachiever.

This category is crowded but there are some teams which stand out more than others. Let’s look at some of the more famous examples, from each of the other three major leagues. To qualify, teams must have been in existence for over forty years and be without a major, modern-day title.

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A Pilgrimage to Wrigley

Last September I was fortunate enough to cross off a bucket-list item well before I ever thought it would be possible. I made it to baseball’s Mecca: Wrigley Field.

My brother and I were in Chicago for a few days and we landed tickets to the second game of the Cubs’ series with their fierce divisional rival the Cincinnati Reds. We arrived at the ballpark as the sun was setting over the north side of Chicago after a beautiful early-fall day.

Truth is, the end of the regular season was fast approaching and the Cubs stood no mathematical chance of making the postseason. Still, the ever-faithful fans filed into the park in time for the first pitch at 7pm. After wandering around the concourse and taking a few pictures, we found our seats and watched the action unfold.

The Cubs were looking to notch up a series win after narrowly beating Cincinnati the night before. They got off to a slow start however and watched the Reds take a 2-0 lead in the sixth off the bat of Joey Votto. The score remained this way heading into the bottom of the ninth. After the second out, Cubs fans collectively groaned and they started getting ready to head for the exits. However, an error in the outfield allowed Starlin Castro to advance to second and the fans’ attention returned to the game. This attention turned into jubilation when Bryan LaHair homered to right field and tied the game. The Wrigley faithful erupted.

Unfortunately, the Cubs left too many men on the bases in extra innings and Joey Votto lifted the Reds to an eventual 4-2 victory after 13 innings. Still, when you get 13 innings and a game-tying two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth, you know you have gotten your money’s worth.

As great as this game was, I will probably soon forget how it all unfolded. It is the other memories that will stay with me the longest.

Achievement unlocked: Watch a Cubs game at Wrigley

Memories like chatting with the ballpark ushers who are mostly elderly volunteers (one of whom gave us a very warm welcome seeing as it was our first visit to the park). Memories like watching the vendors go up and down the aisles all night long, each trying to out-do the other with their own unique take on Budweiser (“Get your Bud!” or “Bud Bud Bud Light” or BUUUD-WEISSSSSSER”). Memories like being a part of a mass exodus of frustrated fans headed towards the mens-room after the Cubs left the bases loaded in the bottom of the 11th. Memories like taking in a ball-game with my brother and substantially upgrading our seats once some fans started leaving in extra innings. Memories like admiring the beauty and authenticity of the ballpark, complete with its ivy outfield walls and its grandstands on rooftops across the street.

The description of baseball as “America’s pastime” rings true when you watch the Cubs play at Wrigley. Regardless of whether the Cubs win or not, you feel the history; you feel part of something special.

Naturally, I found Rich Cohen’s recent article in The Wall Street Journal very troubling.

Cohen quite rightly points out the Cubs have had nothing but heartache ever since they have called Wrigley home. The ballclub, which had its inaugural season in 1870, originally inhabited the West Side Park and they won back-to-back World Series championships there in 1907 and 1908. Eight years later the club relocated to Wrigley and, famously, a third title has proven elusive. Since 1945, the team has failed to even make an appearance in the World Series.

According to Cohen, it is time to part ways with Wrigley. He candidly calls for the ballpark to be destroyed and annihilated, claiming that the franchise and its fans need to start afresh and wash their hands of a ballpark that carries a century-old tradition of losing.

I couldn’t disagree more. Wrigley Field is still virtually untouched by corporate America and it is as authentic a baseball experience one can have. To rip it apart and replace it with a flashy, new, sterile stadium would be a tragedy.

The Cubs will win the series one day; it will happen. But if they win it at some soulless and corporatized new ballpark instead of at Wrigley, it won’t mean half as much. Don’t mess with history and don’t mess with America’s game.

Tagged , , , , ,

The Curse of London?

No London club has ever won the UEFA Champions League.

And no, I’m not just talking about the revamped tournament that began in 1992; I’m talking about its predecessor – the  European Cup – too. This of course means that, since it all began in 1955, none of the many London sides have been able to claim European glory for themselves.

In fact, throughout this 57 year span, London teams have only ever reached the final twice: Arsenal in 2006 and Chelsea in 2008. As history has it, an in-form Thierry Henry could not thwart Barcelona in ’06 and, in ’08, John Terry’s spot-kick was famously denied by the right upright.

Excluding the sham that was the UEFA Cup Winners Cup (I mean, the name itself is self-defeating), London has performed poorly in the other major European club contest as well – the UEFA Europa League (formerly known  as the UEFA Cup). Tottenham Hotspur won a rather weak inaugural contest in 1971 and won again decisively in 1984 but, ever since, there has been nothing but shortcomings. In the 2000 finale of the competition, Arsenal lost on spot-kicks to Galatasaray and Fulham’s cinderella run to the last dance in 2010 was stamped out by Diego Forlan and Athletico Madrid.

When London’s domestic success is examined, this lack of results in continental play is very surprising.

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

NBA Playoff Preview Part 2: who’s sleeping around and who’s using their hand?

For Part 1 of our preview, CLICK HERE

Tier 3: *IT’S COMPLICATED*

These teams could win the NBA title. But they’d need a pretty big break to go their way. Maybe an injury to an opposition player, a bench clearing brawl which decimates the opponent, or a few friendly whistles from the officials. Ironically, two of these teams happen to be playing each other in round 1.

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The 2012 NBA Playoffs: who will find true love and who will be forever alone?

The past year has been pretty good to me. My Mavericks finally broke through and won a ring for our beloved German, and in the most memorable and satisfying way imaginable. My Patriots made it all the way to the Superbowl, and although the game ended in heartbreak for me, it was great to see Tommy boy on the big stage once more. Hell even Arsenal won a trophy (fuck). On top of all that, I got into law school, I started this blog, and the immortal Andrew Mulligan follows me on twitter (along with 1600 others but still). But there is still one thing that still eludes me – the love of a good woman. 60% of the writers here at Double Technicals are in loving long terms relationships, and as a passive aggressive way to show how jealous I am of them, I have ranked the playoff teams in tiers, according to how steady a relationship they have with the Larry O’Brien trophy.  I know it sounds a little convoluted but I promise it’ll make sense as you read on. Being full time students, none of us could do the preview by ourselves, so we decided to split the preview up between three of us. To do this we did a “fantasy draft” of teams we would write about, and went in turns to pick the teams in order of most likely to winning the title this year.

Here we go.

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Jackie Robinson: Sixty-Five Years On

To commemorate the sixty-fifth anniversary of Jackie Robinson becoming the first African-American to play major league baseball in the modern era, players in all of last Monday’s games donned Jackie’s famous number 42.

This fitting tribute was in recognition of a watershed moment not just for baseball but for American society as a whole. Robinson’s breaking of the colour barrier not only helped usher the game towards the modern, diversified form we know now, it much more importantly served as an inspiration for the Civil Rights Movement that was to come and paved the way for black athletes to succeed at the highest degree.

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , ,
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.