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Sports Then and Now



The Zamboni: Baddest Maintenance Vehicle in Sports! 4

Posted on November 30, 2015 by Mike Raffone

The ZamboniMy guess is that the look and speed of the sports world’s most famous maintenance vehicle is the same now as it was back then, making it a perfect entry for today’s Sports Then and Now blog.

Driving this clunky ice resurfacing machine on wheels would satisfy nearly every hockey fan’s fantasy.

Who hasn’t yearned to climb behind the wheel of this giant tractor and take charge on the ice?

Perhaps the baddest maintenance vehicle in all of sports, whose top speed runs at just a mere 9 miles per hour, the Zamboni cruises in

The boxy Zamboni tractor scrapes, collects, washes, resurfaces and smooths the ice for hockey games and skating competitions.

In addition, the monster machine sprays and then squeegees 140 degree water and transforms once rutted and scarred ice into a shimmering surface that mirrors polished glass.

Founded by Frank J. Zamboni in Southern California in 1949, the Zamboni ice resurfacing machine has become the standard throughout arenas around the world. Approximately 200 custom made machines, at a price of $75,000 each, are manufactured each year.

The Zamboni’s iconic fame has extended beyond the boards of the hockey rinks it resurfaces. In the classic sitcom Cheers, Carla’s husband Eddie supposedly got run over by a Zamboni.

And, in a Peanuts comic strip, a fictional miniature Zamboni once cleaned the ice in a birdbath for Snoopi’s pal Woodstock

This heavy duty “bad to the boni” machine is dear to all who have watched it perfectly restore chunks and grooves in previously pock marked ice during intermissions at NHL, NCAA an biddy league games.

All the while these same hockey fans were dreaming they were ones behind the wheel of the Zamboni chugging down the ice at a speed most people walk…backward.

Now what fan could possibly argue that the Zamboni ranks as one of the best things about sports?

MIKE on sports!

Favorite Iconic Sports Sayings 10

Posted on November 16, 2015 by Mike Raffone

Chris BermanToday’s Sports Then and Now blog highlights some of my favorite iconic sports sayings.

They’re timeless expressions that we’ve all used at some point while describing a game or in a simple conversation.

Julius Caesar’s “Vedi Vidi Vici” (Latin for I came, I saw, I conquered), Jesus’ Golden Rule “Love your neighbor as yourself,” and the poet Horace’s adage “Carpe Diem” (seize the day) are as nearly well known today as they were in centuries past.

In the world of sports, expressions, clichés and iconic sayings have also been memorialized.

Some are just as popular now as they were back then.

Sports fans learn these iconic sayings at an early age and repeat them regularly throughout their lives. They apply them not only to sports games they watch, but even to the everyday problems they face.

In this case, these iconic sports sayings fit nicely into today’s blog.

Here ya go…

Whenever we don the name of a certain company’s athletic apparel, we’re reminded to “Just do it!” as Nike’s marketing campaign suggests, whether on the playing field or strategizing in the boardroom. Read the rest of this entry →

History of Notre Dame Football’s Touchdown Jesus 3

Posted on November 09, 2015 by Mike Raffone

Touchdown JesusAlong with the beautiful 218 foot tall bell tower of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart and the gleaming 187 foot tall gold dome of the school’s administration building, the 210 foot tall Hesburgh Library forms the skyline of America’s most recognized Catholic university.

A gorgeous mosaic named the Word of Life adorns the south side of the entire Hesburgh Library and towers over the north end zone scoreboard of the University of Notre Dame’s 80,795 seat football stadium in South Bend, Indiana.

This famous mosaic showcases Christ the Teacher. He’s reaching out to others, and with his raised arms, appears to mimic a football official signaling a touch down. It’s obvious to onlookers that he’s presiding over the action from on high.

Known universally throughout the college football world as Touchdown Jesus, this Word of Life mosaic doesn’t need a Hail Mary Pass or an Immaculate Reception to ascend into today’s Sports Then and Now blog.

Though unintentional, Touchdown Jesus quickly found its way into football lore when fans of all religious beliefs recognized Jesus’ innocent, but obvious, pose on this monstrous mural. Read the rest of this entry →

Stop the Spitting in Major League Baseball 5

Posted on October 19, 2015 by Mike Raffone

Spitting in Baseball

This cheeky comic may make your toes scrunch, but it speaks volumes about a vile habit that remains unchecked in America’s favorite pastime.

It started way back THEN in the 1800’s when baseball first blossomed and chewing tobacco was all the rage. Unfortunately, spitting in baseball has continued til NOW in 2015 as the sport thrives.

So, it’s about time someone like me addresses this scourge in sports by writing about it in today’s Sports Then and Now blog.

Spitting in baseball is a major league problem.

While watching this weekend’s ALCS and NLCS playoff games, I once again found myself disgusted by the disturbing discharges emanating from eminent National and American Major League Baseball players.

These orally induced actions seriously sully my spectating enjoyment and probably yours, too.

My guess is that all of America agrees with me on this issue. Baseball players, coaches and managers spit waaaaay too much. Read the rest of this entry →

The Heckler: A Big Mouthed Sports Fan 3

Posted on September 28, 2015 by Mike Raffone

The HecklerBecause I enjoy his antics, this big mouthed sports fan is an easy choice for today’s Sports Then and Now blog.

This big babbler has been barking from the stands at sporting events since the first chariot races in Rome and original Olympic Games in Greece.

He’s that garrulous guy who plays the role of the annoying fan at games. He’s been seen and heard at every pro game in every sport for as long as fans can remember.

Many observers would say he’s just as bothersome, or entertaining, “now” as he was back “then” at sports events!

The colorful and, at times, irritating big mouth sits court side at NBA games, in the end zone at NFL games or behind home plate at Major League Baseball games and creatively maligns the opposing team’s players. His duty is to toss barbs at the other team and their fans.

Universally known as the Heckler, this super fan ironically may not boast too many fans of his own.

Some fans may find him insulting, but I like him and think he’s an expected, entertaining part of attending a professional sports event.

He’s pretty funny, especially if he’s rooting for the same team.

Plus, I can handle his non-stop heckling – provided he’s seated far enough away and doesn’t make the little hairs on the back of my neck stand at full attention with his non-stop jibber-jabbering.

And, I get a kick out of watching rival fans deal with the Heckler during a game. The guy’s entertainment factor wears off quickly, especially when he’s not cheering for their squad.

Soon, opposing fans within earshot realize this guy has a bullhorn for a voice box and no off switch for his grating trash talk.

During the rest of the game, these same rival fans are constantly on edge, much to my delight and that of all of my fellow fans.

For the rest of the game, I’m entertained by watching these rival fans try to keep themselves in check.

In a fight to the end, they struggle to restrain themselves from dumping their beer on this loud mouthed Heckler.

Because of the entertainment factor he has always provided at games since fans can remember, this timeless irritant and big mouthed sports fan secures a spot in today’s Sports Then and Now blog.

Out of curiosity, what’s your favorite Heckler line?

Let us know. Just keep it clean and leave everyone’s mother out of your response. Lol

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

 

Remembering College Football’s “Galloping Ghost” Red Grange 2

Posted on September 21, 2015 by Mike Raffone

MIKE Comic 72 Galloping GhostToday’s Sports Then and Now blog features an incomparable college football player with the unforgettable nickname – The Galloping Ghost.

In 2008, ESPN.com called this electrifying running back and kick returner the greatest college football player ever.

However, nearly 90 years earlier it was Chicago sportswriter Warren Brown who attributed The Galloping Ghost name to Harold Edward “Red” Grange.

Grange earned the moniker because of his race horse speed and quick, ghostlike movements that avoided tacklers in the open field.

Tackling Grange was like trying to lasso a fast moving cloud driven by a strong wind in a large open field. Few defenders ever succeeded.

A three-time All American at the University of Illinois, the 5’11” and 175 lb. Grange led the Illini to an undefeated season and college football’s national championship in 1923.

The Galloping Ghost’s best college game was against Michigan on October 18, 1924. Most college football fans called it the greatest individual performance in the history of college football.

Against the Illini’s fiercest rival, Grange spooked the Wolverine defense by racing the game’s opening kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown. He scored three more times on runs of 67, 56 and 44 yards – all within the first 12 minutes of the game.

There was no television or internet back in The Galloping Ghost’s era. Instead, TIME Magazine highlighted Grange’s amazing college career by including The Galloping Ghost on the cover of its October 1925 issue. It was a huge national honor.

An original member of both the College and Pro Football Halls of Fame, Grange signed with the Chicago Bears immediately after college. Grange is also a history maker for the professional sport of football. Back in the 1920s, professional football was only beginning to form nationally, and Grange became instrumental in its initial success.

Grange participated in a 67 day, 19 game cross-country series of exhibition games. For his efforts, The Galloping Ghost pocketed an incredible $100,000 for his role. The other players were paid only $100 per game.

Chicago Bears Hall of Fame owner George Halas called Grange the greatest running back he had ever seen. Unfortunately, The Galloping Ghost suffered a terrible knee injury in 1927 that inevitably shortened his professionally career.

The highlight of #77’s NFL career came in 1933. Grange made a heroic game saving play on defense in the closing seconds of the NFL’s first ever Championship Game held at Wrigley Field.

The spirit of this Galloping Ghost will always live on. And, today’s Sports Then and Now’s blog rekindles the fiery spirit of this amazing college football player.

Red Grange passed away in 1991, but today let’s remember the elusive, fast gridiron great whom ESPN.com recognized as the best college football player of all time.

MIKE on sports!

 

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