Thursday, March 06, 2014

How outdoor hockey at Soldier Field rattled my son's brain

Photo: Chris Sweda, Chicago Tribune
My 8-year-old son is slowly becoming a sports fan. 

We live in a rural part of the country where there are no absolute local sports teams to root for, so he’s picked the Penguins – he loves penguins – and Bears as his respective NHL and NFL teams.

So, it sort of blew his mind Saturday night when I flicked the TV over to the Penguins v. Blackhawks Stadium Series game being played at Soldier Field.

“Wait, the Penguins are playing hockey in the Bears’ football stadium?” my son asked, trying to grasp that whole "what-tha…" concept.

“Yep,” I replied.

“Ok,” he said. “Change it back to Sponge Bob.”

Anyway, the Soldier Field game turned out to be another one of those NHL outdoor weather classics, at least in terms of the stunning visuals as we watched snow flow down to the ice. Not many sporting events can look better.

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville, whose team won 5-1, said it was “probably the greatest setting you could want. With how hard it was snowing it was like, 'Wow, these are amazing conditions.’ I think everybody went back to when they were kids."

We always hear the line – the one about going back to your childhood – from coaches and players when they speak about playing in the outdoor games.

As for the playing conditions, Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp said the ice was “very good, but that first period it was tough to see and handle the puck. It really felt like a real outdoor game. There were no real systems or structure. We were just kind of hoisting the puck, slapping it around and having fun."

The Chicago Tribune’s website has an excellent gallery from the game.


-- snow --



Friday, December 20, 2013

Friday Football Forecasts

Getty Images
When it comes to bad weather football games, I’m more of a fan of rain than snow. I get it: snow looks nice and it’s sort of fun, for a while, to watch the players slip, slide and fumble around the field.

It’s all great. But to me, nothing beats a good gully washer of a rain storm. I love watching games were rain is pouring down on the players and fans are getting soaked.

It’s not likely well see anything that dramatic this weekend, but rain showers are forecasted for many of the NFL cities. And for you snow fans, there is mention of the white stuff for games in Kansas City and, of course, Green Bay, where if you look right now (2:20 p.m., Friday, Dec. 20, 2013), you’ll see Lambeau is already covered.

So, without further gibberish – I love that word – here are your forecasts for this week’s 14 NFL outdoor games.

Dolphins at Bills: High of 51/Rain

Colts at Chiefs: High of 25/Chance of light snow

Vikings at Bengals: High of 58/Rain likely

Cowboys at Redskins: High of 73 (Wow! In December?) / Showers likely

Browns at Jets: High of 64/chance of showers (And a good chance Geno will turn the ball over at least three times.)

Saints at Panthers: High of 73/Showers

Titans at Jaguars: High of 81/Patchy fog (I’d love to see another Fog Bowl, but not for the Titans and Jags.)

Broncos at Texans: High of 68/Mostly sunny (If Peyton Manning stinks this week –that’s unlikely against the two-win Texans – no one can blame the temperature.)

Cardinals at Seahawks: High of 48/Rain likely (Great! I love the look of the Seahawks playing at home in the rain.)

Steelers at Packers: High 25/Snow (The low for Green Bay Sunday night is -3. Burrrrr!)

Raiders at Chargers: High of 67/Sunny

Patriots at Ravens: High 71/showers likely

Sunday Night
Bears at Eagles: Low of 33/Showers likely (The high in Philly Sunday should hit around 71.)

Monday Night
Falcons at 49ers: Low of 48/Mostly clear


-- rain --

Do the Lambeau shovel

Lambeau Field webcam
It’s that time of year when lots of snow pours down on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field and the Packers organization asks fans to come out to help shovel the seats and aisles.

With three inches of snow expected to hit Green Bay, the Packers are paying up to 650 folks 10 bucks an hour to shovel snow to prepare the stadium for Sunday’s game with the Steelers.

If you look right now at the Lambeau web cam, you can see the shovelers.

This just in: Aaron Rodgers has not been medically cleared to shovel today.

-- snow --

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Sherman: Best game ‘can’t happen in the snow’

In a piece for SI.com, Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman makes a good argument against playing the Super Bowl outdoors in a cold-weather city.

Sherman, who says he’s never played football in snow, writes:

“Snow happens, and that’s fine for a regular-season game or even an AFC or NFC Championship Game. A team in a cold-weather city can and should earn the right to host a game in conditions it’s familiar with. Baltimore and Pittsburgh built legacies and winning traditions on cold-weather football.
Yet the Super Bowl city is decided years in advance, and the game is supposed to be played on a neutral site. Teams that make it that far have played through the heat of training camp, winter on the road and in the comfort of domes. Whether their rosters were built for the snow or not, they probably overcame it at some point in the season. The Super Bowl should be a clean slate that showcases the athletes, not the stadium or the city they’re playing in.”
 You can read the entire column at SI.com.

Talk of a Super Bowl bizzard not going away

I’m the dude who gets his kicks writing a blog about how bad weather adversely affects sporting events, but I have to tell ya: Even I’m sick of hearing about potential snow storms and how flippin’ cold it’s going to be at the northern New Jersey Super Bowl.

Seriously, the NFL weighed all the potential negatives and said, “yes, let’s have our biggest week of the year and our biggest game of the year in an outdoor venue in the Northeast in February.”

So, it’s set. Nothing is going to change.

Well, things could change a little. NFL officials said Wednesday that the date of Super Bowl XLVIII could be moved, ahead or back a day or two, if a crippling snowstorm hits or is predicted to hit the area on Super Sunday around the 80,000-seat MetLife Stadium. Can you imagine the Super Bowl being played on a Monday or Tuesday?

Oh, maybe we’ll get that Saturday Super Bowl so many people who are too lazy and too hungover to get up and go to work the next day have been clamoring for over the years.

However, a date change is not likely to happen. When the NFL said “heck yes, let’s put this game in a locale where it snows on average more than two inches in the first week in February,” you knew they would be ready for almost anything.

On Wednesday, the NFL, and a few others involved, gave us insight into what will happen to make sure the game runs smoothly as possible. Their plans include stadium chutes that will funnel falling snow into melters that can take in about 600 tons per hour. By the way, have you seen those massive snow melters?



Wait, wouldn’t it kind of stink if we had a snow storm at MetLife Stadium, but the field was dry?

Anyway, transportation officials said Wednesday that 821 plow trucks will be available to clear a 30-mile radius from the stadium, and nearly 60,000 tons of salt could be scattered on the roads.

With that kind of preparation and snow-fighting measures, it’s hard to see a storm scenario that would alter the game date.

Now that we know the NFL’s plans, I’m still eagerly awaiting a press conference from Bruno Mars revealing how he will sing and perform in the event of a mega super blizzard.

After that, I’m done with all the Super Blizzard talk.

You’re up, Bruno!

-- super blizzard --

Hail, United 2.0


The Stoke versus Manchester United Capital One Cup quarterfinal match on Wednesday had a little weather excitement when torrential hail littered the pitch around the 30th minute, forcing both teams to the dressing rooms.


I wrote a little about this shortly after the delay happened, but I bring it up again only so I can post this cool Action Images photo of United’s Danny Welbeck driving through a couple of Stoke defenders while everyone was being peppered in the puss by freezing, screaming hail.

-- hail --

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Rainout Blog Hall of Fame? Yes… let’s do this

How about we start a Rainout Blog Sports/Weather Hall of Fame?

Not just me, all of us. You, too.

I’ve been thinking about doing this project for a while, ever since I made a post about Rick Dempsey way back in July, 2007.

So, what makes a Rainout Blog Hall of Famer? I’ve been wrestling with that question for a while.

(Warning: Here goes a lot rambling…)

At first, I was thinking of individuals who have had outstanding performances in a bad weather games. While his performances did not happen while games were in play, Dempsey certainly made his mark performing on soaked tarps during rain delays.

To me, the notoriety Dempsey received for his acts make him a first-ballot Rainout Blog Hall of Famer. Also, I think we need to give Dempsey credit for the rash of rain delay antics we saw a few years ago by college baseball games. With those 1970s performances, we may not have seen those elaborate, choreographed acts performed by want-to-be thespian college ball players. 

So, we’ve established that qualifications for entry into the RoBHoF are not exclusive to great on-field game performances. If a player, or coach, or fan, or whomever – how about a horse? Sure! – performs in a manner that is widely recognized, then that person, or whatever, can be considered for induction. 

A performance that is good or bad, right?

Right.

That brings us to Leon Lett. 

Remember Lett’s gaffe in the snow during in the 1993 Thanksgiving Day game that snatched defeat for his Cowboys from the jowls of victory? Of course you remember. We all remember.

I’m not comparing the moment to far more significant historic events, but I remember exactly where I was when the play happened.

For that one play in the snow, an unusual snow game for Texas Stadium, Lett is a Rainout Blog Hall of Famer. 

First ballot? We’ll debate that later.

So, who else? Hmmm. 

We’ll, LeShean McCoy had more than 200 yards rushing to lead the Eagles to a win over the Lions in blizzard-like conditions a couple of weeks ago. Does that qualify? 

Maybe.

It was great day for McCoy, but is it his performance that stands out about that game?

No. It’s the snow.

Ok. So, do we induct events/games in to the hall of fame?

If so, the Ice Bowl has to be the leading candidate. And when I think of weather games, I immediately think of the Fog Bowl playoff game at Soldier Field in 1988. There are many, many others to consider.

If I’m going to do this, take the time for such an uber fun project as creating a sports/weather hall of fame, it’s going to take a lot of time, thought and research. 

Wanna help? 

If you have suggestions or creative ideas for the project, I’ll gladly accept. Send me an email or tweet (@TheRealChadOz).

Hail, United!

The weather outside is frightful at Britannia Stadium where homestanding Stoke is hosting Manchester United in a Capital One Cup quarterfinal match.

At around the 30th minute, the teams were forced off the field by a driving hailstorm. 

Play resumed moments later, and the game is now at halftime with neither teams having netted a goal.

Update: Weather was a non-factor following the 9-minute, 47-second hail delay in the first half. Manchester United tallied two second-half goals for the 2-0 win.

-- hail --

All the elements

It's the time of year when we can see a lot of different weather types affect our outdoor (sometimes indoor) sporting events. 

Last week, when I was spending a little time recapping the snowy NFL games from the previous Sunday, my pal, Chad, sent me a link to this web page, which contains 30 superb photos of NFL games being played in snow, rain, mud, fog and... well, that's about it.


Premier weather conditions

I love waking up with Rebecca Lowe.

Let me rephrase that so my wife doesn’t bop me in the puss with a snow shovel.

 I love crawling out of bed on weekend mornings, tuning the telly to NBC Sports and watching the English Premier League, where during pregame, halftime and postgame, Lowe is the lovely presenter.

This weekend, Lowe and her supporting cast will be talking about a slew of games taking place in locations around the UK where much of the weather will be rainy and windy. No monsoons, but the conditions could be a bit sloppy. 

Wind could be a factor, however, when Sunderland hosts Norwich. The extended forecast is calling for gusts of more than 40 mph.

The sloppiest of all, if the forecast holds up, could be the Arsenal versus Chelsea match Monday in North London. A lot is on the line in that match, where rain showers and wind are predicted.

-- rain --

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Snow delay

Photo: Bulent Kilic
I've been slipping on my soccer world football coverage lately, but I couldn't pass on this uber cool photo of Juventus' goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon walking off the pitch last Tuesday, Dec. 10, when heavy snow postponed a UEFA Champions League match between the Italian club and Galatasaray at the TT Arena Stadium in Istanbul.

The match was called at the 32nd minute after snow and hail made pitch conditions unplayable.

The match resumed the next day and Galatasaray scored a 1-0 win, eliminating Juventus.

-- snow --

Monday, December 16, 2013

Weekend wrap

Before fans could file into Cleveland’s FirstEnergy Stadium for Sunday’s Browns-versus-Bears tilt, this had to be done:

Photo: Associated Press

Approximately five to eight inches of snow piled up on seats and in aisles prior to kickoff, and according to team officials, the Browns had more than 150 people working Saturday evening to clear the way for spectators to see their Brownies blow the game fall in dramatic fashion to the visiting Bears, 38-31.

After all the snow clearing, the intensity of the snow storm blew more snow back on to some of the seats before the game, Browns officials claim, forcing some fans to clear their own way as they arrived at their seats.


In other sports weather news, Navy once again rolled over Army, 34-7, with a little snow in the field in Philadelphia. The win is the 12th in a row for Navy.

Photo: Associated Press

Believe it or not, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has never played in a snow game despite playing college ball at Wisconsin. He told the New York Times he was disappointed the snow stopped in New York – I know it’s actually New Jersey – Sunday before his team thrashed the Giants, 23-0. But, as the article says, maybe Wilson will get another chance to play in the New York snow when the Super Bowl in played in MetLife Stadium in a couple of months.

Photos: Seahawks Instagram

Friday, December 13, 2013

Snowy Friday of Football

In case you need a snow football game fix -- wasn't last Sunday enough? -- Towson and Eastern Illinois are battling it out right now on a slippery field on ESPN2 in an FCS quarterfinal playoff game.

The playoff game is being played in Charleston, Ill. -- that's home to No. 2 Eastern Illinois -- where three to six inches of snow is forecasted.

Towson, the No. 7 team in the nation, had a bit of trouble this week preparing for tonight's contest because of snow and freezing rain.

Anyway, if you  guessed the photo above is of the main monitor in The Rainout Blog World Headquarters, you would be correct.

Football Friday Forecasts

Photo: Hunter Martin/Philadelphia Eagles/Getty Images
Last Friday, I was trying to think of creative posts topics for The Rainout Blog and eventually a bright idea developed in mostly functional brain: "Hey, I'll post the weather forecasts for this week's NFL games."

Not a bad idea for a sports/weather blog, eh?

So, with three weeks remaining in the NFL regular season, I think I'll make it a weekly feature.

Better later than never, I guess.

Taking a gander at this week's slate of games, I see a chance of snow for only one game: Chicago at Cleveland. So, no repeat of last week's snow-filled Sunday, which I think we all can agree was fantastic.

Ok, let's get to the weather forecasts for this week's 10 outdoor games:

Bears at Browns: High of 26/chance of snow
Cardinals at Titans: High of 35/Mostly sunny
Patriots at Dolphins: High of 85/Slight chance of showers
Seahawks at Giants: High of 37/Mostly sunny
Bills at Jaguars: High of 66/Showers likely
49ers at Buccaneers: High of 76/Scattered showers
Jets at Panthers: High of 53/Mostly sunny
Chief at Raiders: High of 61/Sunny
Packers at Cowboys: High of 52/Sunny

Sunday Night
Bengals at Steelers: Low of 26/Mostly cloudy

There you have it, a mostly dull and boring forecasts if you’re looking for a little weather flavoring in your Sunday NFL watching experience. Now that I think about it, may be posting the forecasts every week – particularly in the first half of the schedule when the weather will not be a factor – is not such a great idea.