Jan

05

Wii Sports: A Homerun of Success

In case you didn't know, the Nintendo Wii is a new console created by Nintendo, one of the largest video game companies in the world.

Wii Sports is a complimentary game that comes with the Nintendo Wii upon purchase at no extra charge. Usually freebies are cheap, and tossed to the side, but Wii Sports caught my attention. Wii Sports is a compilation of five different sports– Baseball, Bowling, Boxing, Golf, and Tennis. Each game for these sports are unique, and there are extra games created for each sport as well such as Power Bowling, and much more.

Let me give you a run down of each individual sport on Wii Sports.

Baseball

Baseball is a game in which you only hit on single player, but if there are two players you alternate between pitcher and hitter. There is no running involved, the computer does all of that for you. For the pitcher there are four different kinds of pitches: No Buttons = Fastball, A Button = Screwball, B Button = Curveball, A +B Buttons = Splitter. In order to hit you hold the Wii remote like a bat, vertically, and swing. In order to pitch you throw overhand, the faster the sensor moves across the screen, the faster the pitch will be. However, in two player mode it is not best to always throw fast. Mix it up a bit with slow and fast pitches, and variate in type of pitches as well. I think there's 3 innings altogether.

Bowling

Bowling is my favorite game by far. In bowling there can be up to four players. Obviously, each person goes individually. When throwing the ball, you hold the B Button to make your character walk up to the throw line, while also bringing the controller back at the same time as if you were really bowling. In order to release the ball you must let go of the B Button, and raise the Wii remote as if you were really bowling. In order to make the ball spin turn the remote to the left or right, depending on which way you want the ball to spin. You can also turn your character somewhat by hitting the A Button before you throw, and select a new angle at which you would like to throw the ball. Like a real bowling game, there are the full amount of frames. Once you hit 1,000 points, you reach the Pro status and gain access to a new ball. The best side game, in my opinion, is the bowling Power Bowling game in which you get ten throws. As each throw goes on you get to a new lane, and the quantity of pins increases dramatically till there are about 90-100 pins on screen on the last throw. When gaining a strike on any lane, the score doubles for that throw. Usually the formula for that game is 1 Pin = 1 Point.

Boxing

Boxing is the only Wii Sports game that you need the Nunchuk portion of the controller for. Boxing is a single or two player game. In order to throw a right punch you use the Wii Remote, to throw a left punch you use the Nunchuk portion that connects to the bottom of the Wii Remote. Hold the remote and the nunchuk as if you were really boxing for blocking. When playing there are circle health meters to show the amount of health left for you, and the other player. Counter hits usually deal the most damage. When a player or computer is knocked down, there is a chance that they may get up after some time. In order to move out of the way, or dodge an attack, lean the controll and nunchuk in the way you would like your character to move.

Golf

Golf is a game in which up to four people can play. There are several courses for Golf in Wii Sports. In order to start playing Golf on Wii Sports, hold your remote as if you were seriously playing golf outside of the Wii. When swinging you hold the A Button to get close to the ball to actually swing. Not holding the A Button will result in a practice swing where you don't even hit the ball. In order to choose the power of each hit there is a power meter on the left hand side of the screen. The power meter correlates with the distance the ball will go. For example, if you hit the ball at 50% on the power meter, it will go 50% of the way the line shows on the map, which is located on the bottom right hand side of the screen. When you max out the power meter, the ball drifts either to the left or the right also. In order to change clubs use the Directional Pad by pressing left or right. For putting it is the same deal as if you were hitting regularly, except don't swing the Wii Remote as much, and do it a steady speed in order to get the ball into the hole to score.

Tennis

Tennis is the last sport I am going to talk about. In order to play tennis, hole the Wii Remote as if you were really holding a tennis racket. The timing of your stroke shows where the ball is going to go in the tennis court. Up to four people can play tennis at the same time. In order to serve you swing the Wii Remote overhead, and for the forehand and backhand you swing the Wii Remote as if you were really swinging a tennis racket. There are no buttons to press really, it's all about swinging the Wii Remote as if it were a real tennis racket.

Wii Fitness

Wii Fitness is a compilation of a few sports– tennis, baseball, and bowling. For each portion there are different tasks. For tennis you hit 50 balls, for baseball you try to hit homeruns, and bowling you keep bowling and trying to pick up spares that are specifically set up. After you are done completing all of the specified tasks the Wii takes a minute and figures out your "age". Your Wii age basically means how well you did, 20 being the best, 80 being the worst.

Training

The training portion of Wii Sports is basically a compilation of games for each individual sport. There are three additional games for each individual sport in Wii Sports. In order to gain access to these you must play them in chronological order. I will go into the Training in Wii Sports more in depth in a seperate article since it contains so much in depth information.

Overall, Wii Sports was a great hit, and the best part is that it was FREE. For a good time when it comes to video games, and you don't feel like playing Halo again, I suggest setting up your Nintendo Wii and playing some Wii Sports.…

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Jan

04

10 Top Sports Songs

Sports songs pump you up and get the adrenaline going. It adds to the mood and gets the crowd watching, it celebrates a moment or it is so closely associated with a particular sport we hear one and think of the other. Then there’s others that can apply to many sports. Music is life – and sports are certainly a part of life!

We Will Rock You/We Are The Champions – Queen made this into a stadium anthem not only for their concerts but for sporting events everywhere. It was the song to play as the Black Hawk East Community College Warriors chased a state basketball title to the semi-finals and it’s been sung in a wide range of sporting events since.

“And The Crowd Goes Wild” opens with a NASCAR story and has a chorus of “you’re shining like a superstar baby”. It is applicable to concerts and sporting events alike and Mark Wills still performs the crowd favorite in concert.

“Run for the Roses” was Dan Fogelberg’s tribute to the once in a lifetime chance to stamp destiny. The foals grow in western Kentucky and on one day as a three year old there is a chance to win one of the most famous of races, the “most exciting two minutes in sports” – the Kentucky Derby. It doesn’t matter what they do the week before or after – that first Saturday in May stamps their name in the sport’s champions forever.

“All My Rowdy Friends Are coming over tonight” is Hank Williams Jr’s most famous song, arguably. But the opening strains of the keyboards say “FOOTBALL” before the first word is sung. As the theme for the Monday Night Football it’s firmly stamped as a sports song.

“Jump” is Van Halen’s contribution to the sports music lineup. Hearing the opening strains of it gets the blood pumping whether it’s for a soccer game or a bull ride.

“Another One Bites The Dust” is another Queen anthem fans have sung when a player is pulled from a game or, for some in a star season at the end of a winning game.

Steam’s “Na Na Hey Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” has long been a rallying cry sung when someone strikes out, fouls out or is pulled from the game. Rival teams use it in the last minutes of a game also when they are winning easily over an opponent.

Take Me Out To The Ball Game has lasted since 1908 and seems it’s always been a baseball song. For 101 years the chorus has been sung. So popular has that been the rest of the lyric is largely forgotten.

“Centerfield” – John Fogerty gave baseball a new cry with “put me in coach!” which could be used for many sports but only one pays homage to Joe Dimaggio and the spring ode to baseball.

There’s been sad ones such as “The Blind Man in the Bleachers” and others too – but these represent sports either for a particular sport or for all.…

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Dec

10

Price's Sports Cards a Home Run for Milwaukee-area Collectors

A few weeks ago, I visited Price's Sports Cards and Collectibles. Located in Southridge Mall, Wisconsin's largest mall at 5300 South 76th Street in Greendale, Price's is a well-known name among Milwaukee-area sports card and memorabilia dealers.

A visit there is always a treat. Not only is the inventory massive, spanning across many decades, brands, etc., but the shop's employees are honest, friendly, and very knowledgeable. One can easily tell that the employees are genuinely passionate about what they do. Once in a while, if they know a customer is making a sizeable purchase, they'll cut some deals, not just on cards and memorabilia, but on supplies, as well.

As a young kid, I had quite an extensive sports card collection, mostly in baseball, my first love. Now 28 years old, my card collection is significantly slimmed down compared to its glory days, but I still collect once in a while, and visit Price's at least once every couple of months or so.

For those in my age group who remember the stars of our childhood, Price's has us covered. The shop has an extensive inventory of unopened boxes, sets, individual packs, and single cards from the 1980s and 1990s, not only in baseball, but football, basketball, and some hockey, as well.

When I purchase cards these days, I still mostly stay with my old childhood favorites because, not only do I already know them well, but many of them are now either Hall of Famers or are most certainly headed there one of these days. If I can get a good deal on them, I'll also purchase stars from the 1970s whose careers I'm familiar with.

On this particular visit a few weeks back, my latest, I left with what I would argue is a small gold mine. I happened to stop in when a big sale was going on in order to make room for new inventory.

Near the cash register on the counter sat a large box of single cards in baseball, football, and basketball. Each card was individually priced. Most of them were priced around $5, but there were also a good number of cards priced in the $10-12 range, as well. They spanned from the 1970s through present-day. I was told that any card in that box would be just $1 each.

I walked out of the shop that day with numerous duplicates of Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder rookie cards, both stars with the Milwaukee Brewers baseball team. I walked away with numerous rookie cards of Green Bay Packers stars, including B.J. Raji, A.J. Hawk, and Greg Jennings. Having just won Super Bowl XLV a week ago makes this particular purchase that much more fun and exciting.

In addition to these cards, however, I also walked away with eight rookie cards of pitching great Randy Johnson (1989), and a lot of cards from the 1970s and early 1980s of baseball greats like Tom Seaver, Mike Schmidt, Steve Carlton, Pete Rose, Dave Winfield, Rod Carew, Nolan Ryan, Don Sutton, and Phil Niekro.

On top of all that, I also scored nice deals on early 1990s unopened baseball, basketball, and football boxes. Pulling 20-year-old Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Joe Montana, John Elway, Cal Ripken, Roger Clemens, Tony Gwynn, Nolan Ryan, and Ryne Sandberg cards fresh from the pack in mint condition is, for this collector, almost the equivalent of paradise on earth.

All in all, for a purchase of just under $200, I walked out of Price's that day with at least $500 worth of sports cards…but also many priceless childhood memories relived.

Price's Sports Cards and Collectibles
5300 South 76th Street (Southridge Mall)
Greendale, Wisconsin 53219
414.855.0711
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Sep

21

10 Best Sports Songs

1. "We Will Rock You" (Queen): Perhaps the ultimate stadium anthem. Nothing makes you want to watch your team kick some butt like Queen's foot stomper. When the song begins, you know two powerhouses are about to face off…

  1. "Eye of the Tiger" (Survivor): Intensity. Passion. Fiery. The fight is about to begin…. Or the ending credits, depending on which Rocky movie you're watching. Either way, this is the quintessential "training montage" song, sometimes used as parody such as on The Simpsons and Family Guy.
  2. "We Are the Champions" (Queen): …And, when your team finally wins the big one, this uplifting song is what you'll want to hear.
  3. "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" (Jack Norworth): What baseball game would be complete without a rousing chorus of this song during the seventh inning? It's simple, catchy, and an American treasure.
  4. "Bugler's Dream" (theme for the Olympics) (Leo Arnaud): While this lacks the booming chorus or over-the-top passion of some of the other songs, it evokes the spirit of the Olympic games, and the strength that Olympiads represent.
  5. Rocky Theme (Bill Conti): Like "Eye of the Tiger," this instrumental in an intense motivator, one that will power you through a few rounds in the boxing ring (or a brisk run through your home city). It's an anthem for the underdogs.
  6. "Chariots of Fire" (Vangelis): There are few who haven't at some point in their life gone jogging or running or even hit the treadmill with this song running through their head as they envision winning the 100 meter dash for the gold.
  7. "Rock and Roll Part 2" (Gary Glitter): Despite Glitter's troubled personal life, this tune will always be an energetic crowd pleaser that makes you want to scream at the top of your lungs with it's chorus of simply, "HEY!"
  8. "Centerfield" (John Fogerty): Regardless of age, generation or team loyalties, this song evokes summers at the ballpark and playing in little league. The lyrics, "I'm ready to play" just make you want to throw on a uniform.
  9. "You're the Best" (Joe "Bean" Esposito): Another training montage song (best known from the family classic The Karate Kid), this one is more inspirational then intense. Listen to this when you need to feel like you're at the top of your game.
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Jul

08

Top Ten Songs in Sports

Music is woven into the very fabric of what it means to be human. At its core, music is artistic expression of the diversity and complexities of human emotions and experiences. Sports are a manifestation of mankind's insatiable appetite for competition, his indomitable spirit, and his constant need to meet and overcome challenges. When blended together in the precise dosages, music and sports have forged many indelible moments into the hearts, minds, and memories of humanity. When done properly, the marvelous fusion of the artistic and the athletic has helped to raise the profile and enhance the value of each individual component far beyond what they would have been had they stood alone. I have taken to the task of compiling a musical top ten list in sports in order to highlight those instances where competition and composition collided to produce majesty.

For clarification purposes, when I talk about music in sports I don't necessarily mean that the song has to be about sports or that the song had to be specifically written for a sporting event. My criteria in forming my list was to examine those songs that have, for some reason or another, become so associated with a sport or sports franchise that they are virtually inseparable. So, for example, "Sweet Caroline" by Neil Diamond has been adopted by my hometown Boston Red Sox and their fans as the official song of the team since 2002. Even though that song has nothing to do with baseball, the city of Boston, or the people of Boston, it has become so ingrained into the identity of the franchise (since they sing it the middle of the eighth inning of every game at Fenway Park) that it now qualifies as a sports song in my evaluation for this list. Sadly, however, "Sweet Caroline" did not find its way to this Top Ten. Without further ado…

  1.  "Roundball Rock (NBA on NBC Theme) – John Tesh.

For the legion of NBA fans who were weaned on Michael Jordan games in the '90s like I was, "Roundball Rock" was our lullaby. The moment we heard the initial chord progressions we knew exactly what that meant: the NBA on NBC, and most likely, another national television appearance and virtuoso performance by our idol, His Airness. I still get goosebumps hearing this beautiful, instrumental ditty. This is just yet one more reason to say nightly prayers of thanks for the musical genius that is John Tesh.

  1.  "New York, New York"- Frank Sinatra

Composed by John Kander with lyrics written by Fred Ebb and originally performer by Liza Minnelli as the theme for the Martin Scorsese film of the same name, "New York, New York" has become synonymous with the success of New York City sports franchises. Most notably the New York Yankees play the Frank Sinatra rendition after every home game. For better or for worse, I cannot think of this song without conjuring up images of those loathed pinstripes; and I cannot think of the most recognizable American sports franchise (sorry Boston Red Sox and Dallas Cowboy fans, its true) without hearing Old Blue Eyes "start spreading the news."

  1.  "Eye of the Tiger"- Survivor

"Eye of the Tiger" is possibly the most covered song in all sports arenas; it unquestionably is a top workout song in all gyms, public or private, on this planet. The theme from Rocky III arouses images of the indefatigable strength and determination that we love to witness in our champions and heroes of sport. It is often said that sports are a microcosm of life; if this is true, then "Eye of the Tiger" promotes the perseverance and courage needed to succeed not only in the athletic arena, but also in the game of life.

  1.  "The Victors" (Hail to the Victors) – University of Michigan Wolverines

When conducting this list, I knew I had to include a major college sports fight song to represent America's obsession and intense loyalty to their alma maters. My decision came down to the fight songs of four schools: Ohio State, Southern California, Notre Dame, and Michigan. After much intense deliberation and a strenuous elimination process, I had to select "The Victors" to represent college athletics in this musical list. With all due respect to fans of the Buckeyes, Trojans, and Irish, the Wolverines' fight song is the most recognizable tune in all major collegiate athletics in the nation. However, if you disagree with me, feel free to just substitute your alma mater's or favorite university's fight song in place of "The Victors" in the number seven slot on this list. You won't offend me at all.

  1.  "Star-Spangled Banner" (National Anthem) – Francis Scott Key

The singing of the national anthem has become as prevalent in and integral to professional sports in America as billion-dollar television deals and overpriced concessions. The ubiquitous presence of our nation's anthem at the start of sporting events, however, has not dulled or waned my anticipation to witness the spectacle because you never know what you might experience during each performance. Easily one of the most difficult melodies to sing, the "Star-Spangled Banner" has been tweaked and rearranged many times by various performers in hopes of modifying the tune to fit their unique vocal abilities in order to belt out a memorable performance.

The singing of the anthem always provides a spark of entertainment for me. Whether it engenders an act of kindness by then-Portland Trailblazers coach Maurice Cheeks or is a complete train wreck the likes of which Olympian Carl Lewis and actor/comedienne Roseanne will never live down, there's entertainment fodder for everyone when the national anthem is involved. And once in a generation you may happen upon a transcendent outpouring of talent like Whitney Houston at Super Bowl XXV.

  1.  "We Are the Champions"- Queen

Attend any sporting in the world where they play music in the stadium and try to NOT here this classic played. I dare you.

  1.  "Chariots of Fire"- Vangelis

Created as the main theme for the British film of the same name, "Chariots of Fire" is such an inspirational and uplifting piece of music that perfectly parallels the inspirational and uplifting biographies of Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddell. I get chills up and down my spine every time I hear that magnificent score.

  1.  "Take Me Out to the Ballgame"- various

This time-treasured song can be heard sung at every baseball park in America for at least six months and 162 games every year. Baseball is the national pastime and this is baseball's official theme song. While you can hear the simple beauty of this jingle at every baseball park in America, no rendition of this beloved song is more precious than the performances at Chicago's Wrigley Field during the 7th inning stretch.

  1.  "Monday Night Football" Theme- Hank Williams, Jr.

While baseball may still be America's pastime, football has long since taken over as America's passion. With the possible exception of the release of the latest Madden video game every August, nothing is more synonymous with football in America than the "Monday Night Football" theme. Growing up, the only way I knew it was time to go back to school and that a brand new NFL season was upon us was to listen closely for Hank Williams to inquire, "Are you ready for some football?" I know I cannot be alone on this, right?

  1.  Olympic Fanfare and Theme- John Williams

The magnitude and reach of the Olympic Games numbers well into the billions of people affected. The global impact and appeal of this once-in-four-years international display of athletic competition is due in large part to the marvelously sublime score written by John Williams. This epic piece of music transcends social, racial, political, and religious affiliations and highlights to the valor, grit, toughness, and victory of the human spirit. Williams' beautiful piece captures and puts on prominent display the striving for hope that is at the essence of humanity.…

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Jun

13

The Top 5 Most Annoying Sports Sounds

According to a recent ABC News poll the Vuvuzela, made famous by the FIFA World Cup, was voted the second most annoying sports related sound of all time. But, what might be annoying to some may not be annoying to everyone. Some of the most annoying sounds voted by readers of ABC's news website are part of the culture for a certain area or what identifies the fans of a sports team.

This article will discuss the various sounds and instruments many sports fans all around the world find annoying. Whether it is watching the World Cup Match or a baseball game on TV, or being in the stands at a sporting event and having to sit behind someone blowing or hitting a noisy object or instrument.

Cow Bells –

The cow bells are something a lot of fans have used over the years at various games, but usually not a large amount of users, just the occasional ring of the bell can be heard. The cow bells became famous after the Tampa Bay Rays started handing them out as promotional items at their games.

I myself have been at a Red Sox vs. Rays game on the day the bells were handed out. I wouldn't call the overuse of the bells annoying as much as I would the people deliberately ringing them in the ears of Red Sox fans. Throw some alcohol in the mix and you might see a fight or two break out in the stands.

The Tomahawk Chop –

The Tomahawk Chop started at Florida State University and became famous during the 1991 World Series when fans of the Atlanta Braves adopted the chant to support their team. Many people complain the noise some of the fans make is just too much and is up there with Grunting during a Tennis match by the players, We Will Rock You by Queen, the YMCA by the Village People and the Gary Glitter sports staple Rock and Roll Part 2.

The Tomahawk Chop also has the distinction of being labeled racist and insensitive by many people and several Native American groups have pushed to have it banned at sporting events. The level of the sound depends on the fan making it, and a lot of times ego and alcohol play a big part in this being named an annoying sports sound.

Drums –

Drums are a staple at any sporting event, from football to basketball and baseball, you are guaranteed to find several fans beating a drum and chanting during a game. The drums at the games usually come in all shapes and sizes and many fans sitting in the stands have complained and pushed for the drums to be banned.

But you will also find many sports fans who enjoy the drums and call them a little nuisance. The most die-hard fans to get the drums going are usually football fans who enjoy getting dressed up, wearing their team colors in paint on their bodies and dancing around before or during the game. Many teams, like the Atlanta Braves still hand out drums during special occasions to little kids who come to see the games.

Vuvuzela –

With the FIFA World Cup Soccer matches in it's finally stages the Vuvuzela has been one of the noisiest and most recognizable musical instruments on television right now. Many viewers have taken to online message boards, YouTube videos and social networks to vent their frustrations at the often piercing sounds made by the vuvuzela's.

A vuvuzela is a long traditional horn in South Africa where many cultures identify with it outside of sporting events. But the instrument seemed to go viral and explode overnight. It has been parodied everywhere from Jimmy Kimmel to Jay Leno to the Daily Show, and has spawned its own fan pages on the Internet and countless jokes on Twitter and Facebook. The noise got so bad many times before matches started officials had to ask the fans not to play the vuvuzela's during games or press conferences. But it seems the instrument is here to stay and has already started popping up at many other sporting events around the world. Time will tell how long the vuvuzela has before it fades out of sports fans sounds to make during a fame.

Thunderstix –

If you don't know what a Thunderstix is, you might consider yourself lucky. The Thunderstix was voted the most annoying sports related sound in the ABC News poll. These inflatable plastic tubes first became overwhelmingly popular when the Anaheim Angels made it to the 2002 World Series championship. They have since popped up elsewhere at other sporting events. Fans love them because the louder they are the better they are for cheering their team on.

Basically with the Thunderstix you bang them together and they make a lot of really loud noise. But, the average TV viewer might not hear the scope of the noise since the stix have a way of making a loud noise in the general area they are being played in. The sound they make is more of an annoyance to the people around you in a sports stadium.…

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May

26

The Darth Chronicles – “Darth as a Sports Coach”

Darth was recently given an Empire-cal Premier League second-division men's Soccer team, 'Force', to coach, who made wooden-spooners last year in 2013. Darth was at first reluctant to take the role as coach of these wooden-spooners, mainly used to dealing with the top cream-of-the crop. But when reminded of his Empire-cal power and how he can turn things around, he saw it all before him – 'Of course, that's it'.

When Darth first laid eyes on these wooden-spooners, who came from far and wide in the galaxy, it was mixed emotions. It was like an image of the galaxy in one team. There were short or tall, fat and skinny, different nationalities and humans and creatures. Darth did not know where to start – 'Well, it looks like we might have something here'.

The team resembled a bunch of misfits, you know the story, but like they said, Darth could see something more in them. When Darth gave his first speech to the team, it was on the field at the local sports ground and they were distracted and dispersed – 'If I can have your attention please everyone. I was about to call you a bunch of misfits, but now I know you are only misinformed and misguided. Today and tomorrow, you will be on top-of-the-table, yesterday as wooden-spooners, stirring the pot, is no more. With the variety and unique skills and abilities I can see before me, we can put together an Empire-cal Premier League second division Soccer team none the Empire has ever seen. Don't believe, we shall see. I don't see misfits in front of me ('stop calling us misfits', one of the players said), and I'll change that word very soon, don't worry, I see my Empire-cal country men standing before me. Are you with me? I said, are you with me? There were ad hoc shouts and yells that came from the bunch, which showed a case of in-between being happy and dismal. Darth said, 'we have some work to do here'.

Now Darth got down to the business end of his new coaching role, Darth's favourite, 'strategising'. Darth chose an initial 2-4-4 formation which can change at any time, given the circumstances. There were two Strikers, Four Mid-fielders and Four Backs, and a Goalie.

Two tall and mobile Strikers were chosen in twin brothers, Skimpy and Dimpy. There were two attacking mid-fielders and two defensive mid-fielders who did swap from time-to-time during the game. Roley and Foley, smaller, lean and fast creatures, were the two attacking mid-fielders, and Blocky and Stocky, who were bigger and bulkier speedsters, were the two defensive mid-fielders and humans. The Backs had two big and strapping blokes in the centre as Stopper and Sweeper with Big-T, a creature, as Stopper, and Billy, a human, as Sweeper. The defensive wings resembled a more slower version of the defensive mid-fielders with Mathow, a creature, and Timmy, a human. The Goalie was Jumpy, a half human-half creature, who jumps and moves all over the place, hardly sitting still. On the bench were four replacements for each of the areas, Strikers, Mid-fielders, Backs and Goalie. Respectively, there was Bit-T, Grovel, Lancaster and Jumpy. On the bench were four replacements for each of the areas, Strikers, Mid-fielders, Backs and Goalie. Respectively, there was Bit-T, Grovel, Lancaster and Smoaty.

And then the team was born and the time had come for the season ahead.

Darth devised a marketing plan with management to market the team and Force brand to the Empire. And hey, it worked; at first former and new supporters were a bit reluctant, but they wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Some supporters came to watch the side at training.

The 2-4-4 formation and Darth's players found it hard to begin with, making mistakes and arguing with each other all the time. But a tough off season with plenty of drills, skills and fitness had the boys primed for Empire-cal greatness – 'Is that it? Are we finished yet Darth?' Darth had made-up a little book of tricks to get his team into ultimate winning mode, and no one knew about it until the season started.

The team had a dismal start to the season of the 38 games played for the year. They lost their first five games, even with the cheerleaders, and by the fifth match, players and supporters were beginning to lose hope. Near the end of the fifth game, Darth disappeared from the side-lines and into the Force dressing room where he studied his book of strategies and tricks a bit more in depth. He began to make changes at training, and with another inspirational speech, along with a threatened two-finger throat crush, obviously scaring the players, things started to change.

The 'Force', won all their games to make it to the finals. Darth was the man and his players and management were more popular than ever. Other coaches were wondering how Darth had come up with his tricks and strategies to create a very fluid style of play for his team. But Darth somehow kept it guarded for the whole season, blaming it on chance and luck.

The Force make it to the semi-final, one match from the Grand Final, and deep in the second half, Roley let's fly with a screamer from outside the box on the left, to Bend-It-Like-Beckham. This is when the match is level 1-1. Roley has won the game, and the Force supporters go ecstatic. The Force are into the Grand Final against Empire 1, the darling of the second division and Premier League, and who have lost just one game all season. The Force lost one of their five opening games to Empire 1, being thrashed 6-1.

The players and management, confront Darth before the game, and want him to sign on as Head Coach for some more years with the Force, win or no win in the Grand Final. Darth, a bit hesitant, states, 'oh, oh, why not. Hoohahaha.'

Almost like a slow-motion play, the players enter the field and the supporters erupt. Both supporters are kept separate for the game in case of any disruptions, with Empire 1 fans making chants about the Force. Photos are taken of each team, as well as some heated photos of each coach, including Head Coach Cluesie of Empire1, looking eye-to-eye with the Empire-cal Premier League second division trophy. The Empire Anthem is played, and what is it, who knows, use your imagination. Now somehow, Darth's book of strategising and tricks has gone missing. Darth, a bit worried, thinks nothing of it, and that his players know everything by now.

The whistle blows and the Empire 1 team are red-hot. Most teams in the Force's winning run would not even reach the Backs of the Force team, but Empire 1 were doing at ease. What was going wrong, Darth was wondering. Then the Empire 1 strikers unleash on Goalie Jumpy, over and over, until, 1…2…3….4 goals go past in the first half. Empire 1 top striker, Ulsee, has done most of the damage. Feeling the game was over, the Force players head for the dressing room, heads down, at half time. Darth begins to join them, then all of a sudden he sees Head Coach Cluesie with his book. Darth figures Cluesie has found out the team's game plan and is furious. But he remembers his days with the Jedi, and he calms down and begins to re-strategise.

Darth gives one hell of an inspirational speech to his players and goes over some new tactics, including bringing the Backs up to attack the Empire 1 goal, along with the Strikers and Mid-Fielders. Darth's Force team take a long time to enter the field, with the Empire 1 team waiting with the referee for kick off. Whatever Darth did, he did it. The Force immediately penetrate the Empire 1 line and defence to put 1…2…3….4 goals away by the Force Strikers and Mid-Fielders and two by the secret weapon of the Backs. Both teams get ready for a Penalty shoot out. But Darth, catches Big-T's attention, the Force Stopper who has a tremendously big foot and was seen practicing by himself at training sometimes. Darth signals to the team the new strategy he went over at half-time.

The match goes back and forth with only a few minutes remaining on the clock. The Penalty shoot-out looks eminent. The Empire 1 supporters begin to sing their winning chants, and smiles appear on the Empire 1 players, who have acknowledged a good match. But Big-T has other ideas, pretending to give a half effort running to the Empire 1 line, then a sudden dash and pass back to Jumpy, the Force Goalie, who has secretly entered the Empire 1 half and kicks another screamer from just inside the box, right in front. The Force supporters and camp hold their breath. The ball curves to the right and manages to just slip past the Empire 1 Goalie, Slimuth, to reach the far right of goal. The Force has won the Grand Final in the remaining seconds.

Darth and the Force camp cannot believe it. From wooden-spooners to top-of-the-table, just like Darth had promised. Darth had won the day and the hearts of the Force supporters.…

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May

02

Some Sports Records Are Safe

You hear the phrase quite frequently — "records are made to be broken." Or "this record will never be broken." The next thing you know some breaks the record.

Some 20 years ago we probably thought Hank Aaron's all-time career home run record would never be broken. Then, in early August 2007, San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds breaks the record. That mark, however, might just get broken sometime within the next 6-14 years.

After all, balls continue to fly out of the yard for a few reasons. For starters, expansion has watered down the quality of pitching worse than a flat Budweiser. Secondly, ballparks are smaller and hitters look more like middle linebackers. Keep in mind, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa broke Roger Maris' single season home run record (61) in 1998. It only took Bonds three years to break that record with 73 home runs in 2001.

Cy Young's 511 career victories are certainly not going to be broken, at least by any modern-day pitcher. New York Mets left-handed pitcher Tom Glavine, who played many years with the Atlanta Braves, is likely the last 300 game winner we'll see for a long time. Glavine achieved that feat earlier in the 2007 campaign. You see, pitchers getting wins is largely dependant on how good the team is but with more five-man rotations, it's going to be harder to pile up wins on a consistent basis.

I also don't see an NFL team going undefeated any time soon, which is a feat the 1972 Miami Dolphins achieved. For one thing, the season is longer. It was 14 regular season and three playoff games in 1972 and 16 regular season games and three postseason games today. That's two more chances that a team has a change to lose a game. Two Super Bowl championship teams from the 1980s came close by going 18-1 (1984 San Francisco 49ers and 1985 Chicago Bears).

The 49ers lost their lone game in Week 7 against Pittsburgh (17-14) as Ray Wersching missed a 51-yard field goal that would have sent the game into overtime. The '85 Bears lost their long game in Week 12 on Monday Night Football, 38-24 to Miami. Nowadays, if a team wins its first 12 games the pressure (i.e. media and fan scrutiny is enormous). Another reason why it's highly doubtful to see an unbeaten team is because of the salary cap it's much harder to keep teams together, which makes injuries that much more difficult to overcome.

Most people might not rank the New England Patriots and the NBA's San Antonio Spurs among their respective sports' all-time best despite winning three titles in four years for the former and four titles in eight years for the latter. However, what cynics fail to realize is that those teams have sustained their success in an era when dynasties were thought to be a thing of the past.

You can also forget about Rickey Henderson's single-season (130) and career (1,406) stolen base record being challenged. Keep in mind, when Henderson set the season mark in 1982, he also attempted 172 stolen bases. How many players even get on base that many times today?

Keep in mind, with the emphasis being so heavy on home runs; managers do not want to take the bat out of their sluggers' hands by risking the base-runner getting thrown out trying to steal. Even the quality of base-running has diminished in today's version of baseball because fewer coaches who were base-stealers in their heyday are coaching in the minor leagues.

You certainly are not going to see back-to-back no-hitters, set by Johnny Vander Meer in 1938 because which pitcher in heavens name is going to do it three straight outings let alone two? These days if a pitcher throws a no-hitter there is a flood of media attention. Plus, pitching a no-hitter takes a little bit of luck too. Maybe, the hitter mis-times his swing on a pitch he normally hits hard. Maybe, the pitcher gets bailed out by a great defensive play. Or maybe, on a judgment call a fielder gets charged with an error instead of the batter getting awarded a hit. Who's going to get those kind of breaks three straight outings?

UCLA basketball's 88-game winning streak is likely safe. Basketball teams simply do not stay together long and sometimes not at all. While the 2006-2007 Florida Gators are not likely to enter any all-time great discussions, it is impressive that they won consecutive NCAA titles by keeping largely the same team together because it's so rare today.

Look at the underclassmen leaving school early for the NBA or for that matter going to the pros straight out of high school. Tim Duncan and Shane Battier are two modern-day college players that are the exception but not the rule in that those individuals stayed in school all four seasons. The early departures have also created more parity in college basketball. That means even the best teams in college basketball are going to lose a conference road game here or there.

Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak is not likely to be topped. Pete Rose came the closest in 1984 and still came 12 games short. To break this record, players have to be so enormously consistent. They also have to catch a break. Baseball is such a strange game that way. You can hit the ball super hard but it's right into the glove of a fielder. You can hit a blooper that either takes a spectacular catch to record an out or it finds a hole. Then, there's judgment calls by the official scorekeeper that can be scored a hit or an error.

You can also forget someone scoring 100 points in a basketball game like Wilt Chamberlain did. Kobe Bryant scored 81 two years ago against the Toronto Raptors, whose defensive play won't make us forget an of the great Detroit Piston teams. Given the fact that NBA teams have put a greater emphasis on defense for the past decade, there are teams not even averaging 100 points per game. All the more reason that no one individual will score 100 in a game. Unless a game goes into six-tuple overtime.…

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Apr

24

Top Sports Songs

Part of what makes a sporting event – wither live or on TV – so much fun is the accompanying soundtrack. Here's a list of my top ten sports songs – some sports-themed, others just great "arena music."

Centerfield – John Fogerty. "Put me in coach!" Fogerty's ode to the national pasttime is as popular today in ballparks as it was 20+ years ago when it was released.

Kiss Him Goodbye (Na Na Hey Hey) – Steam. While the song is actually about breaking up with someone, the chorus – "na na na na hey hey hey goodbye" – has become an arena, stadium, and ballpark end-of-game anthem for dismissing the opposition. Not bad for a song that was a B-side.

Bleed It Out – Linkin Park. I liked this song to begin with, but when I heard it played during a pre-game skate at a Buffalo Sabres game, I appreciated it in an entirely new way.

I Can't Drive 55 (or 65) – Sammy Hagar. A great song originally about the National speed limit, it was re-recorded a few years back as "I Can't Drive 65" for NBC Sports to reflect that the National speed limit was now 65; it was used by NBC and TNT during NASCAR telecasts in the early 2000s.

Fifty-Mission Cap – The Tragically Hip. The story of Toronto Maple Leafs player Bill Barilko, who scored the winning goal for Toronto to help them take the Stanley Cup in 1951; he disappeared in a plane four months later. The wreckage was found in 1962 – the year the Leafs won their next Stanley Cup.

Let's Get It Started – Black Eyed Peas. Used in many arenas as a game-starter.

Start Me Up – The Rolling Stones. Another opening face-off/kick-off tune.

The Final Countdown – Europe. The ultimate down-to-the-last-play arena anthem (I've heard this played at a number of Sabres games).

We Will Rock You/We Are The Champions – Queen. This double-A-side single is perfect for a team on their way to a championship – I heard it at Buffalo Bandits lacrosse games a couple of times (for their two championships I witnessed).

Take Me Out To The Ballgame. What can be said about this song besides…as American as baseball itself.…

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Mar

10

Top 10 Nissan Sports Cars

Nissan and Datsun have produced many sports cars over the years; however not all of them made it to U.S. soil, with stringent emissions, crash test safety regulations, and performance restrictions some were just not allowed in the U.S.. Below is a list of the top ten Japanese and American market top Nissan and Datsun sports cars.

1) 1970- Datsun/ Nissan 240z-the Datsun 240z was the predecessor of all Z cars; the founding father of Datsun/ Nissan performance coupes. The 240z was lightweight, weighing only 2400 pounds with a 2.4 liter inline six powering it. 150 horsepower and 150ftlbs of torque was delivered through a four speed manual transmission to a limited slip rear end. The S30 chassis became famous as being a poor mans Jaguar. The 240z performed the best out of the three generations of z cars in its era (being the 240, 260, and 280z cars) with a zero to 60 mph in 7.8 seconds; this was thanks in part to a lightweight chassis, twin Hitachi side drafts carbs, and a 9.0:1 compression ratio.

2) 1989-91 Nissan Skyline GT-R-nicknamed Godzilla the R32 chassis Skyline GT-R was the first of its kind; a completely reveloutionary sports coupe for the time. The Nissan Skyline began production in 1958; however it was not until 1989 when the most powerful and sophisticated Nissan Skyline hit the streets. Powered by a 2.6 liter in-line six cylinder fitted with twin turbos it produced 276 horsepower; although this factory released power figure was slightly skewed as the R32 Nissan Skyline produced closer to 300 horsepower. Mated to a five speed manual transmission and an all wheel drive system it would go from zero to 60 mph in just 4.7 seconds and blast the quarter mile in 13 seconds flat. The Nissan Skyline dominated JTCC from 89-94.

3) 2008-present Nissan GTR-the new Nissan GTR is truly a super car; taking advantage of all of Nissan's performance tricks over the years. This R35 chassis is equipped with a 3.8 liter twin turbo V6 mill that produces 474 horsepower and 434ftlbs of torque. Putting the power to the ground is done by an all new dual clutch semi-automatic six speed transmission mounted in the rear. The new Nissan GTR can go from zero to 60 mph in only 3.2 seconds with launch control activated and it rips through the quarter mile in 11.6 seconds at 120 mph.

4) 1999-02 Nissan Silvia Spec R-the Spec R Nissan Silvia is a drifters dream; with 250 horsepower on tap and a robust dual ball bearing turbocharged 2.0 liter four cylinder it puts serious power to the ground. The Nissan Spec R is a more than capable competitor only weighing in at 2700 pounds with a six speed gear box it has many upgrades over a factory Nissan Silvia such as more aggressive camshafts, sport tuned suspension, and a free breathing intake and exhaust.

5) 1990-96 Nissan 300ZX Twin Turbo-named in the top ten sports cars of the year, seven years in a row by car and driver the Nissan 300ZX twin turbo was a highly sophisticated piece of machinery for its time. Powered by a twin turbocharged 3.0 V6 it would produce 280 horsepower and 274ftlbs of torque. With a 3475 curb weight this Nissan would go from zero to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds. The Nissan 300zx twin turbo was one of Nissan's best handling rear wheel drive cars utilizing HICAS (all wheel steering) to maneuver around sharp turns at blazing speeds. Unofficially the Nissan 300zx twin turbo produced a recorded 300 horsepower, 20 more than its factory output rating.

6) 1991-94 Nissan Silvia-perhaps the most popular Nissan sports coupe ever; the Nissan Silvia is one of the most sought after cars for the drift scene. In 91' Nissan introduced the 2.0 liter turbocharged sr20det, which even to today's standards is one of the best four cylinder motors ever produced. The aftermarket following for this chassis in America and Japan is limitless for the 225 horsepower engine. With sharp looks and rear wheel drive there's a reason it made the list.

7) 1990-94 Nissan Pulsar GtI-R-perhaps one of the most complicated cars built for its time was the Nissan Pulsar GTI-R. This puppy came with big 440cc injectors, t28 turbo, individual throttle bodies, awd, and a big intercooler. Known for its rally racing heritage this awd five speed came with 230 horsepower and would blast the quarter mile in 13.9 seconds at 101 mph from the factory. There is a huge aftermarket following for the Nissan GTI-R and is also one of the best kept secrets of the performance car world.

8) 1984-89 Nissan 300ZX Turbo-ah, the beginning of the modern Nissan Z chassis. This 300zx was powered by a SOHC 3.0 liter V6 engine that was turbocharged, but non-intercooled. The engine had 7.8:1 compression pistons and a Garret T3 turbo that created 205 horsepower. This was the first Japanese car to be the fastest out of the lot with a top speed of 153 mph. The Nissan 300zx turbo would go zero to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds which wasn't bad for the time. There were 300,000 of these Nissan units sold.

9) 1998 Nissan Pulsar VZ-R N1-a very limited production Nissan Pulsar was the N1. The Nissan N1 boasted a normally aspirated 1.6 liter that generated 197 horsepower from a free flowing intake manifold, 70 mm throttle body, tuned header, and very aggressive camshafts. The Nissan Pulsar was the most powerful four cylinder for its time creating 125 horsepower per liter. These limited edition Nissan N1's only came in black and white and were designed to compete against the Japanese Civic Type-R with it 6.4 second zero to 60 mph jaunts.

10) 1991-94 Nissan Sentra SE-R-an American market Nissan Sentra was outfitted with a robust 2.0 liter sr20de that made 140 horsepower and 135ftlbs of torque. Tuners found engine transplants to be limitless from the sr20 family of motors and this old shoe box of a car has a fantastic aftermarket following. This was the first performance oriented naturally aspirated four cylinder car that Nissan produced.…

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