Archive for June, 2008

Say It Isn’t So!

Sunday, June 22nd, 2008

Phooey. Mere days after he re-signs with the team, word comes that  Hartinger is off to play hockey with the Sterzing/Vipiteno Broncos next season. [From his link, scroll down to see him with a Broncos patch photoshopped onto the Scorps jersey.]

Hey hey! He’ll be playing in what’s apparently called the DiscoArena. Just a hunch, but I’m betting they play the BeeGees “Stayin’ Alive” when the Broncos goalie makes a great save with a one-goal lead.

And pro cycling sprinter phenom Tom Boonen was busted for blow.

Southern TirolBolzano Italy - 45 miles south of Vladimir Hartinger's new team

In all fairness to Harti, he deserves it. While rumor has it the Italian league is, for the most part, comparable to Double-A hockey, it does pay its players better.

I’m guestimating Sterzing is about 45 miles north of Bolzano. That whole region is amazingly beautiful. It’s very close to the Austrian border, so while technically the town is in Italy, the population speaks mostly German rather than Italian. Fun country, great scenery, and yummy food. The site linked above claims “Yoghurt Days” as one of the year’s “most important gastronomic events.” I’m dying of curiosity.

In case you’re not getting the information elsewhere, Scorpions head coach Randy Murphy isn’t having much of an off-season in the way of R&R. Busy recruiting, Murphy has re-signed D-man rocket-shooter Chris Robertson in close quartersAaron MacInnis – this year as a player/assistant coach. Chris Robertson has also signed for a third season. New guys include Bill McCreary and Russell Smith. Rookie Sylvain Michaud will play in net. Can’t remember seeing an exclusive announcement about goalie Andrew Martin, but the presser about Michaud said he’d work well with Martin and his name appears on the  updated roster, so presumably the team is set between the pipes.

Boon – outta here

As for Boonen, clearly he can afford that rock-n-roll lifestyle. An uberstar in his native Belgium, he presumably gets all the sex, drugs, and club invites a pro cyclist has the energy for. But it’s caught up with him. Alas, we won’t be seeing one of the world’s premier sprinters in the Tour de France.

Can he afford that?

I was watching him kick arse in a race a few weeks ago when the camera panned to the back of the pack, where other cyclists had hopped off their bikes to run up a steep and slippery, cobblestoned hill. I was imagining the guy in the back and what was going through his mind (speaking from experience – being in the back, that is). Of course, not every cyclist can be as strong as Boonen, even if they are pro. In contrast to the thoughts of the cyclist previously linked, on a day like this, that last guy might have been thinking:

Dammit. I hate being in the back! F*** this. I do everything right and there’s no way i’m ever gonna be as strong as Tom. He just blows right by me – and I didn’t even have a beer last night. This totally sucks! I’ve been training my ass off and he’s making it look frickin’ effortless. Screw it. I’m having that damn beer tonight.

Aaron MacInnis launches a rocket Around the bend

So… it’s a given y’all like beer but how ’bout wine? Anyone out there like a good glass of merlot with your spaghetti? Me too! I’m gonna ask the new GM of the Scorpions, Gary Gelinas, about wine country in Canada.

Wha?

Oh you heard me right. Gelinas says they make some great wine in the southwestern region of Canada, where he’s from. Crazy talk – I know!

Meanwhile, i’m counting down the days to Le Tour de France. 12 days and 8 hours to go….

Techno-curse

Sunday, June 8th, 2008

Get this: i’m mucking around in my computer files for the Randy Murphy interview i mentioned in the post below and it hits me. OMG! I’m gonna have to check my tapes!!! Remember those? The weird things encased in plastic that you had to manually spin the wheel of, to take up the slack? And if you didn’t, sometimes the thin, brown, endless fettuccini strip would get caught in the player and you couldn’t get it out without tearing it, or you tried in vain (no one ever succeeded) to untangle the twisted mass of a streamer, spitting out filthy words until you gave up and tossed the whole contraption out your car window? (Remember all those clusters of brown ribbon you’d pass on the street?)

Nowadays, i use a digital recorder for interviews but sure enough, Murphy’s interview is on a mini tape cassette. The sound is absolutely horrible and none of my headphone sets fit in the little hole on the recorder marked “ear.” I had to listen to the static-filled, barely audible interview repeatedly and with utmost intensity to understand what the heck was being said. I pray i heard it right.

Don’t say i never did anything for you.

Randy Murphy on Elmira Jackals ice Below is an excerpt of the conversation – the part relating to player contracts – with current Scorpions head coach and former player Murphy just before he moved from New Mexico to Elmira, NY in the summer of 2001:

IE: How does the change in the salary cap effect your decision to play for Elmira rather than New Mexico?

Murphy: “For myself, it was more like, the things that i was getting in the off-season couldn’t be done. So that was a big factor – having a guarantee in the off-season in Elmira.”

IE: There are a lot of things that go into the contract negotiation process other than salary, right?

Murphy: “Each guy’s contract is a personal thing. It’s what you’re used to i guess, since you’ve been playing pro. You have a few things set in your mind that you definitely want before you even consider talking to a team. One of the things i wanted to be able to go to Elmira, I was guaranteed, whereas the things here in New Mexico, i wasn’t. That was a major part of my decision [to move], aside from being closer to my family.

“Among the guys, in minor league sports, we don’t really talk about how much money we make. It’s pretty much just the coach or GM or whoever handles the contracts. It’s not like major league sports where they talk about it in the paper. It’s a weird situation. You kinda know what you make, you might know what another guy makes, but you don’t talk about it. We’re not playing for millions. It’s kind of a humble thing.”

Downshift – cycling

Alberto Contador, overall winner, 2008 Giro d'ItaliaSeems like as soon as it starts, it’s over. The Giro d’Italia has come to  an end and Spaniard Alberto Contador of team Astana won the race overall. Get this: Contador left the beach, tossed the tropical drink down the drain, shook the sand out of his swim trunks, and hopped a plane to Italy. Once there, he jumped on his bike, suffered like a dog with lethargy legs for the first week of the race, found his legs in the second week, barely held on to his lead for a few days and then kicked ass on the final day (an individual time trial) to win the whole freaking thing. How ya liking him now?

You see initially, team Astana wasn’t invited to the Giro due to doping allegations in the previous year. It’s an overhauled team though, including Contador, who won the Tour de France last year. Finally the organizing body caved and invited Astana to the Giro this year. Team Astana had to drop everything and show up in Italy for the start. Hence Contador’s beach-side location prior to the race. Now we wait to see if the organizers of the Tour de France change their minds and invite the defending champion and his team….

Get this: the original race route covered a total of 3,424 kilometers. At least one day, maybe two, was shortened by about 30 kilometers. i thought i heard a total number that was 2,000+ kilometers after all was said and done, but i’m sure that number was still closer to 3,000 than 2,000. Still if we simply convert 2,000 kilos to miles we get about 1,242. I’m guessing i total a little less than that on my road bike and maybe about the same if i also add in mountain biking miles – in a season. I can only assume the pros wear a more expensive chamois than i do.

And if you’re wondering what invades the mind of a cyclist as he spins the pedals and stares at the backside of the rider in front of him for a few hours in a day, check this pro cyclist’s journal. He rides for the new Team Slipstream-Chipotle (yummy) and his name is Will Frischkorn.