Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Thursday, January 01, 2021

taking it outside
The second (annual) coming of the NHL Winter Classic earlier today came off about as perfect as it could. Unless you’re a Blackhawks fan, and had watch the home team blow a 2-goal lead to the Red Wings en route to a 6-4 Detroit win in the frozen confines of Chicago’s Wrigley Field.

But aside from the hometown letdown, it was a great game to watch, and a second consecutive picture-perfect outdoors showcase for the National Hockey League. Maybe better, mass-market wise, than last year’s 2-1 shootout win by the Pens over the Sabres, since ten total goals provided more than enough offense. (I generally prefer a defensive struggle.)

Some assorted thoughts from me:

- About the only thing that would have improved the spectacle would have been some snowfall, like last year in Buffalo. Didn’t happen, which actually improved the on-ice action. Besides, what snow there was in Wrigley was decorative:

To give the outdoor setting a more wintry look, the league pumped in some faux snow to fill in the outfield and surrounding areas around the rink. There were only two places on the Wrigley playing field that weren’t covered by the white stuff: the pitching mound and home plate. Who’d figure you’d need fake snow on New Year’s Day in Chicago?

- Speaking of the ice, it was well-praised by everyone involved. From what I saw, it looked like it was actually too cold, in that the puck had little glide under it for players to accomplish the standard long-range passes. That said, puck movement was crisp enough, and the shot totals (43-37 favoring Detroit) indicate that there were no problems.

- I thought the sight of the players emerging from their locker rooms, and climbing out of the baseball dugouts to get to the rink, was a nice touch.

- The selection criteria for future Winter Classics sounds interesting:

The league is expected to seize on the successes of the first two Winter Classics to establish a bid process not unlike that which determines hosting the All-Star Game and the entry draft. Teams and cities will have to put together a plan outlining why they deserve to host the game…

Look for the NHL to closely consider staying in baseball stadiums as opposed to NFL facilities, even if the number of fans would be far greater and the sight lines in baseball facilities aren’t necessarily ideal. Baseball facilities don’t pose as many scheduling headaches, and the field is flat as opposed to crowned, which was the case at Ralph Wilson Stadium a year ago.

All of which makes sense. As much as I’d love to see the Rangers host the 2010 edition here in New York (at Yankees Stadium), I have a feeling that next year’s event should take place well within the Western Conference. To me, the ideal host would be the Colorado Avalanche, playing in the MLB’s Coors Field during a wintry afternoon in Denver. Going up against either the Minnesota Wild or San Jose Sharks.

- And if the Avs want to clinch that, they should acquire the one player who’s now a fixture at these outdoor flings:

Detroit goaltender Ty Conklin was actually playing in his third outdoor NHL game, having been in the nets for the Oilers in the [Heritage Classic] in Edmonton a half-dozen years ago and again for the Penguins in Buffalo last January. The feeling, he said, never gets old.

- On the business side, I’ll be anxious to see the ratings report and other economic impact from this Windy City spectacle. Early indications are promising. And from my screengazing view, it looked like the league and NBC reeled in some high-caliber advertising, with Super Bowl-level spots on display. In particular, Go Daddy’s attention-grabbing commercials had a toned-down trial run today; I’m wondering if that could be a future trend, at least in years when the same network carries both the Classic and the Super Bowl.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 01/01/2021 11:21:15 PM
Category: Hockey, SportsBiz
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annual checkup
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that I’m not the only one who wondered what will become of this decade’s most distinctive New Year’s novelty eyewear mask:

The first decade of the new millennium allowed novelty manufacturers to use the double zeros as the spot for the “lenses.” Although the side-by-side zeros will no longer be an option next year, 2010 still leaves a possibility.

“With 2010, you still have the two zeros. But 2011, it will be interesting,” said Bill Furtkevic, vice president of marketing for Party City. “We’ll have to wait and see what they do.”

The party-junk manufacturers have something up their sleeves for two years down the line. But they’ll have to do it without the original inventors of these specs, who are giving up.

As you can see above, the year doesn’t have to contain consecutive double-zeros for face-strappable fun. So not only does next year’s 2010 work, so will 2020, 2030, etc. Not that a once-a-decade frequency is a particularly sustainable business model…

I also wonder why these goofy glasses didn’t catch on twenty years ago. The ’80s and ’90s would have lended themselves well to this numerical creativity, with 8s and 9s having that closed-loop effect. I guess it took a millennium to make it happen.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 01/01/2021 12:16:00 PM
Category: Comedy, Creative, Fashion
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Happy New Year! Usher in 2009 with a hangover cure for the mind and soul, if not the drink-ravaged body:

Yet to come is what Kingsley Amis called the “metaphysical hangover”: “that ineffable compound of depression, sadness (these two are not the same), anxiety, self-hatred, sense of failure and fear for the future.”

Amis admonished readers to see these symptoms for what they are: “You have not suffered a minor brain lesion, you are not all that bad at your job, your family and friends are not leagued in a conspiracy of barely maintained silence about what” a skunk you are, “you have not come at last to see life as it really is.”

That’s one way to see the light of day at the top of a fresh year: Take stock of all your foibles right away, and negate them just as quickly. Call it the January Catharsis. Beats making resolutions.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 01/01/2021 11:40:44 AM
Category: Comedy, Creative
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