Sunday, January 30, 2011

The All-Star Game

I listen to a lot of sports talk radio. When my alarm goes off in the morning, the radio is tuned to my local radio station the Team 1040. I get up and have a shower. In that shower is a waterproof radio, tuned to the Team. If it's really early I shower one handed so I can hold that radio to my ear so I don't wake my kids. When I am shaving that same radio moves to the extendo-mirror next to the sink. As I go down stairs to cook breakfast, I turn on the radio in the kitchen. Then it's out to the car, where the presets and search buttons are just for show, and finally on to work where I slip in one earpiece attached to my iPhone that streams 1040 till I need a recharge, which happens 2-3 times a day.

So I'm a fan. I came by it honestly. I was a huge hockey fan that became sick of the shitty music local radio stations played. I still go through it every sunday when my beloved sportstalk is reduced to americans argueing about third string DB's in June or some cuban's E.R.A. in December, so I am forced to mash my way through the buttons of shitty song after shitty song. "Oop! That one was good! buuut now it's over and shit,shit,shit awww what's on CBC? Bark sculpter's memoirs.... Fine. Whatever." The sports guys know the score "hockey, hockey, hockey, baseball but don't go anywhere we're gonna talk hockey right after this" aaaand repeat. I eat it up.

I also find myself bouncing from (pure propaganda), to, to various blogs, to my twitter account where I am able to get the exact same information from tens of hockey writers that all break the same stories at the same time and retweet each other so I get the same info hundreds of times. Isn't it fantastic?! Anywhoo all this is not to impress you. Nor is it for you to pity my sad existence, but it is to say that I am plugged in to the hockey media machine. I ebb and flow along with it's moods and manias. I laugh at it's jokes and jeer it's villains. Like I said, I'm a fan.

If there is one thing I have learned from the media is that it HATES the All-Star game. Clever writers and pundits from across the country ridicule this semi annual event. They mock it's open shinny style. They tell us ad nauseum that the players don't want to be there. They dismiss it as nothing more than a corporate shmooze-fest and regale each other with humorous quips of what they would rather be doing than covering it. They brainstorm on countless roundtables as to how to make this out-of-date dodo watchable and pine for a replacement. Of course all this distain is tempered by a half-hearted "but the kids love it".

I believed them. How could I not? They're all so smart and I am just the stormtrooper waving Obi Wan and his buds through and telling my boys "These aren't the droids we're looking for". They all hate it so much! I must too.... Right? No. Wrong. Fuck that. Fuck those jaded fuckers that get to see every game from the pressbox and see these superhuman atheletes day in and day out. Their perspective is skewed. Yes, I know the All-Star barely resembles an NHL game. I know there is no hitting, the goalies get hung out to dry and everyone is going at 3/4 speed. I know there will be many awkward pauses as the CBC tries to manufacture excitement and intrinsically Canadian moments out of thin air. But it's this departure from reality that makes it watchable (not the CBC part. They do that shit every Saturday). I would propose that it's the Winter Classic that is in fact unwatchable.

The Winter Classic is essentially a regular season game handicapped by weather, pomp, circumstance, expectation and repetition. It was kinda cool once, in Edmo, with the Habs, in super frikkin cold weather. That's it! After that I just don't get it to be quite honest. I certainly couldn't imagine GOING to one. Picture yourself being half a football field away in row 86 watching ants scuttle about on an icecube. I think my upper deck row 8's at the call centre are shitty. No way I'm shelling out for that!

The All-Star game brings together most of the major stars in the game (Detroit gets to sit it out) to strut their stuff. So there are awkward interviews and technical delays. Hockey doesn't take itself so seriously that it can't laugh at itself. At least it shouldn't. I found myself watching the fantasy draft this year with anticipation for each name called. Sure there were some "three's company" moments, but that is to be expected. Look away.... It'll pass. The skills competition is honestly one of my favorites. Who IS the fastest skater? Who DOES have the hardest shot? Yes, the shootout challenge is stupid, but "holyshitdidyoujustseewhatPerrydid?" That stuff is gold Jerry... GOLD!

And the game itself? Who doesn't love watching their heroes go out there and play the best game on earth with the greatest skill on earth with no pressure, just for fun for once? I know I do. I love it. I'll have a smile running from ear to ear watching them float around and not hit because it isn't a real game and nothing is on the line except a car. A shitty $30,000 car for a bunch of multimillionaires. So if it's just for the kids, count me as one of 'em.

Don't believe everything you hear. Adios muchachos!