Streaming Sports is Truly Amazing

I’m not a cord cutter, nor am I one of the many who believe cable is dead/dying (though it could certainly stand to reinvent itself).I like being able to turn on my television and everything is ready to go.
That said, it’s impossible to be home and in front of your tv every single night.
Such was the case this past Thursday night, as I was the producer for Bulls Radio broadcast of a USF men’s basketball game.  As the producer, I stayed back in the studio and made sure everything ran smoothly.  Not only is that a thankless job, it is also very boring at times.
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An empty studio and seemingly nothing to entertain myself for the next few hours.

Simultaneously, the Lightning were playing the Buffalo Sabres in Buffalo, NY.  In years past, it was either looking up an illegal stream of the game and braving the risks that go along with that, or you were basically out of luck.
But out of luck no more, are you.
This year, Lightning games and games of other NHL teams affiliated with a Fox Sports network, are streaming live and for free (with a cable provider authorization) on Fox Sports Go.
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The front page of Fox Sports Go, as seen from a desktop computer.

Fox Sports Go is not a new service, it was launched in October 2013, but was only available to customers of a limited selection of cable providers and, even if you were one of the lucky few, only offered a handful of noteworthy events were broadcast.
Gradually, Fox reached deals with cable providers, large and small, to bundle Fox Sports Go with cable service, all the meanwhile striking deals with sports leagues to allow streaming on the service.
Presently, subscribers with access to Fox Sports Go can watch locally broadcast NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL games, a large selection of college games and Fox’s national sports networks, FS1 and FS2.
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Promotional material for Fox Sports Go (NHL.com)

You can’t watch out of market Fox Sports games, however.  For example, if you live in Tampa and wanted to watch the Arizona Diamondbacks of MLB or Arizona Coyotes, who broadcast on Fox Sports Arizona, you would still need MLB.tv and NHL.tv respectively.
ESPN launched a similar service in 2010 which also includes a large selection of niche sport leagues, such as the North American Soccer League.  ESPN also nationally televises NFL, NBA and MLB games, too.
NBC also streams live events too, including nationally broadcast NHL games and the Olympics.
So, gone are the days of being stuck away from a tv and not being able to watch a live game.  The new day of streaming is upon us and it’s gonna be great.

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Opinion: Sometimes, it really is Quality over Quantity

I go to a great number of sporting events per year.
So much, that I don’t even count anymore.
I’ll typically look for the cheapest way in just so I can be inside.  Needless to say, I spend a lot of time in the upper decks of stadiums and arenas.
Typically, things are pretty decent up top.  Usually the amenities aren’t as amazing as the lower levels, but the fans are typically more engaged in the game and the experience evens out to a positive.
But every so often, it’s nice to shake it up and spend a couple of extra dollars and see the game from a different perspective.

I was able to gain that different perspective on Saturday night during the Tampa Bay Lightning’s game versus the San Jose Sharks.  I was able to sit six rows from the glass, directly next to the player bench for the Sharks.
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A view of the empty benches before faceoff
For someone who spends a lot of time upstairs, it was such a nice change of pace being down low.  From the bathroom lines being shorter to the beer selection being better, it was just a great experience.
Plus, the game action is a whole lot closer.
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The Lightning and Sharks await a faceoff in the Lightning zone
The downside of being that close is, while you get an amazing view of the action on your end of the ice, things on the other end of the ice can be difficult to see.  Though this crutch is offset by the huge scoreboard above center ice.
Ultimately, the Lightning did not prevail on the ice, dropping the game 3-1.  But I was able to watch most of the fourth quarter of USF football’s victory over Memphis at Amalie Arena’s outside party deck on the upper level of the building, so I at least got to see one victory that night.
It’s weird how quickly I wound up back upstairs.  It didn’t even take until the next game.

Cubs championship transcends fandom

It’s hard to believe that until this week, the last time the Chicago Cubs won the World Series, radio as we know it had yet to be invented, let alone television.  It’s hard to believe that the Ottoman Empire still existed.  I could go on, but I’d be beating a literal dead horse at this point.

I am not a Cubs fan by any means, but I couldn’t help but feeling happy when Kris Bryant fielded what would become the final out of the team’s first World Series title in 108 years.

Think about that.  108 years.  It is an almost certainty that nobody who witnessed the clinching game 5 of that series is still alive today.

108 years is a long time.  There is no denying that.

But it went deeper than that.

The Cubs had not even been to the World Series in 71 years, last winning the National League pennant in 1945.  The first televised World Series was in 1947.  Joe Buck was the first person to call a Cubs World Series telecast, a feat he did not take for granted.

But it went deeper.  After 1945, the Cubs next appearance in the postseason was not until 1984.  They’d return again in 1989, but not again after until 1998.

In spite of all this, Wrigley Field was always full, day in and day out.  Cubs fans continued to support their team and remain loyal just as if they were perennial contenders.

They did this as they watched their arch-rival St. Louis Cardinals win 11 World Series since their team last won it all.  They watched their crosstown rival White Sox win in 2005.  There must have been jealously, sure, but the Cubs fans stuck it out.

So this championship was more than just another group of baseball players winning a title.

This was about a group of fans, long suffering, finally being rewarded for their suffering.

The Cubs winning the World Series gives hope to every fan base that no matter how bad things may seem now, someday it will pay off.

It is a moment that transcends fandom.

It is a moment that transcends sports.

 

Buccaneers induct John Lynch to Ring of Honor

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers inducted team legend John Lynch into their Ring of Honor at halftime Thursday night, November 3rd, during their 43-28 loss to the Atlanta Falcons at Raymond James Stadium.

Lynch, now a color commentator for the NFL on FOX, spoke briefly to the crowd after his name and number were unveiled on the ring of honor to the left of fullback Mike Alstott, also a member of the Super Bowl XXXVII championship team.

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John Lynch’s name shines in the Buccaneers Ring of Honor at Raymond James Stadium next to Super Bowl teammates Mike Alstott, Derrick Brooks and Warren Sapp

Lynch thanked the Glazer family, his teammates and the fans in Tampa for all the support he received during his career.

Unlike his teammates  Derrick Brooks and Warren Sapp, Lynch has yet to be elected to the Hall of Fame, though he is hopeful that one day he will join them in Canton.

Lynch certainly has a case, between his 1,058 tackles and 26 interceptions over a 14 year career and always seeming to make a play when it was needed most.  It remains to see if Hall of Fame voters agree with Lynch, who is a finalist for the Hall again this year.

 

Bishop’s 23 saves not enough as Habs best Bolts

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Alexander Radulov (#47) and Jason Garrison (#5) battle for the puck October 27th at Bell Centre (NHL.com).

The Tampa Bay Lightning fell on Thursday night, October 27th, to the Montreal Canadiens 3-1at Bell Centre in Montreal.

Alex Killorn opens the scoring in the second period

Entering the third period, the Lightning led the Habs 1-0 on the strength of an Alex Killorn second period goal.  The Lightning would then surrender three third period goals, including the game winning goal by Max Pacioretty at 10:23.

Max Pacioretty gives Montreal the lead

While Ben Bishop would make 23 saves for Tampa Bay, Montreal goaltender Carey Price would make 29 and improve his record to 4-0-0 as the Lightning dropped their first game this season against an Eastern Conference opponent.

The Lightning continue their road trip with a matchup versus the New Jersey Devils, a team the Lightning have already defeated at home this season, tomorrow night, October 29th, at 7 p.m. on Fox Sports Sun.

Lightning strike six times to take opener from division rival

The Tampa Bay Lightning showed resilience Thursday night, October 13th, beating Atlantic Division rival, the Detroit Red Wings, 6-4, in front of a sellout crowd of over 19,000 at Amalie Arena.

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A commemorative puck, featuring the logo of both teams, with Downtown Tampa in the background

After the pomp and circumstance of opening night that included a message from team owner Jeff Vinik and the introduction of Lightning players and staff, an actual hockey game remained to be played.  And what a game it was.

It didn’t start the way the home fans had hoped for.  Red Wings newcomer Thomas Vanek scored a power-play goal at the 3:12 mark of the 1st period to give Detroit an early 1-0 lead.  Just over five minutes later, Vanek scored again.  That would be it for scoring for the opening period, but before even half of that period had been played, it was 2-0 Detroit, and quite frankly, the Lightning looked lost.

Jonathan Drouin opens the scoring for Tampa Bay

Jonathan Drouin would open the scoring for the Lightning at 7:23 of the 2nd period with a power-play goal of his own.  Less than a minute later, however, Frans Nielsen would put the Red Wings up 3-1 to almost immediately take any life that had returned to Amalie Arena away.  Cedric Paquette would score an unassisted goal for the Lightning at 13:05, and through 2 periods it was 3-2 Detroit, but after the Paquette goal, it seemed the Lightning had new life.

New life they indeed had as Brian Boyle would tie the game at 3:17 of the 3rd, Tyler Johnson would give the Lightning the lead at 8:34 and Alex Killorn seemingly sealed the deal at 16:50.  However, one of the weirdest goals you’ll ever see in a hockey game happened shortly thereafter to make it a one goal game again.

Tyler Johnson gives the Lightning the lead

With Red Wings goaltender Petr Mrazek making a break for the bench for an extra attacker, a seemingly normal dump in by Danny DeKeyser of the Red Wings, a play which mainly serves as an attempt to get the puck into the offensive zone while making a line change, took a funny bounce off the boards and somehow bounced off of Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop and into the net to make it 5-4 Tampa Bay.  Over two minutes remained to play and in a one goal game now, anything could happen.

Danny DeKeyser scores from center ice

However, crisis avoided for the Lightning as, with Mrazek out of the net in favor of an extra Red Wing skater, Valtteri Filppula would score an empty net goal at 18:39 to seal the deal and give the Lightning a hard earned opening night victory.

It’s hard, if not impossible, to make any meaningful conclusions off of this one game.  Especially a game where Tampa Bay looked downright lost during the first 20 minutes.

It’s easy to say that this is a team that will never quit, even when down two goals after the first and even when they go back down two goals, as was the case shortly after Drouin’s goal.  It’s also easy to blame the same cast of characters who dug the 2-0 hole in the first place.  It’s easy to blame Ben Bishop for giving up four goals, just as it’s easy to absolve him of the blame on the goals, especially that last freak goal.

Ultimately, the only real conclusion that can be taken from this game is that the Lightning were able to get six goals from six different scorers to take two points in an Atlantic Division rivalry game.  At the end of the night, it wound up being a good start to the season, but it’s important to remember that it’s just one of 82.