Friday, August 29, 2008

Top Songs in Sports

Today while listening to my iPod during my "workout" at the ESPN gym, one of my favorite songs came up, The Who's "Baba O'Riley". Roughly the first minute of that song is all instrumental and it just gives me chills each time I hear. Mainly it's because I associate it with being in Yankee Stadium on a brisk October night starring Aura & Mystique.

What that did was jog my memory of a list of other songs that I'll always associate with sports.

"Bro Hymn" by Pennywise - This song was written for in remembrance of a deceased member of the band. But when I hear it, I immediately think of the Flyers or Ducks scoring a goal at home. It's just a great song that has an awesome sing-song chant that's very catchy.

"We Will Rock You" by Queen - An easy one. I can't name one game I haven't been where I didn't hear this song. Even if it's just the easy stomp-stomp-clap. If you've done that, you've done your part to keep this song alive.

"Sirius" by The Alan Parsons Project - What by who? If I said, "You know, the song the Chicago Bulls would use to announce their starting lineup to," then I think you might know what I am talking about. It's tough to not get pumped up when you hear that song. Plus it's the instrumental that leads into one of the more underrated songs of the early 1980s, "Eye in the Sky".

"Workaholic" by 2Unlimted - You might know them better for their hit song "Get Ready For This". But the reason why this song appears in the list is just for the first 10 seconds. It's played every time the Yankees score a run or when a road team takes a penalty at an Ottawa Senators home game.

"Right Now" by Van Halen - If that piano intro doesn't get you ready for a game, you might want to check your pulse. This is the essence of why Van Halen was BETTER with Sammy Hagar. If I ever made it to the Major Leagues or the softball team in our league that brings a boom box to the games, this would be the song I would come up to in my first at-bat. Arguably the best 5:21 in music history.

"Enter Sandman" by Metallica - There might not be a song that better describes why it's played in sports. Mariano Rivera comes in and 90 percent of the time at Yankee Stadium, it's been prophetic, the team he faces goes to sleep and the game ends. Just the mention of the first note has gotten 50,000+ people on their feet roughly 35 times a year at Yankee Stadium. Another classic

"Rock & Roll Part 2" by Gary Glitter - For the moment, let's put aside the fact the performer of this song was convicted and imprisoned on child pornography charges. It's one of the most popular songs in any sports stadiums. I'd like to think one of my favorite teams indirectly helped bring it to light in sports. The song was reportedly first used in a sport stadium during Colorado Rockies games -- no, not the baseball team, but the hockey team that later became the New Jersey Devils. The New York Islanders used "Rock & Roll Part 1" when they scored a goal. After Glitter was arrested, the NFL asked teams to stop playing the song. I'll always associate it with the Minnesota North Stars as the song they played during their memorable run to the 1991 Stanley Cup Final

"Kernkraft 400" by Zombie Nation - Some people might think I just got the title and name of the performer reversed. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. I don't know, I don't care. The Sport Chant remix is the most popular version that you'll hear at sports stadiums. The song gets over 100,000 people at Beaver Stadium to start bouncing up and down. But it's the song I hear when the Devils score a goal at their new home, the Prudential Center. It was also the song used after the Oilers goal horn during their run in the 2006 NHL playoffs.

Feel free to add or comment on your faves!

Monday, August 4, 2008

20th Anniversary of "The Trade"

On August 9, it will be the 20th anniversary of one of sports' most controversial trades. On that day, Wayne Gretzky, arguably hockey's top player of all-time, was traded to the Los Angeles Kings in a move that changed the game forever.

It was just hours after the Oilers won their fourth Stanley Cup in 1988 that Gretzky learned from his father the team was looking to possibly trade him. It was during his honeymoon he received a phone call from then-Kings owner Bruce McNall, who was interested in acquiring the Great One. After discussions and negotiations, McNall and Gretzky came to an agreement on a deal and only one thing stood in the way. Gretzky had to request a trade.

It was on August 9, 1988, "The Trade" happened. Gretzky was traded along with defenseman Marty McSorley and center Mike Krushelnyski to the Kings for Jimmy Carson, Martin Gelinas, the Kings first-round draft picks in 1989, 1991 and 1993 and $15 million in cash.

Needless to say, this upset not only Oilers fans but all of hockey fans across Canada. It had such an effect that even the Canadian government tried to block the deal. However, when the dust cleared, Gretzky would be off to Los Angeles and his impact was immediate. The team switched their colors from the Purple and Gold that mirrored the Los Angeles Lakers to the Silver and Black that was associated with the Los Angeles Raiders.

In that first season, Gretzky and the Kings faced the Oilers in the Smythe Division Semifinals. Facing a 3-1 series deficit, Gretzky and the Kings rallied and won the series in seven games.
He made many popular returns to Edmonton. The first time back in 1988, Gretzky received a four-minute standing ovation. When he came back in 1989, Gretzky would break Gordie Howe's career points record with a goal.

Gretzky's effect in Los Angeles spurned many things. Two more franchises were born in California (Sharks and the-then Mighty Ducks). Non-traditional hockey fans were selling out the Forum, a building more known for the other sports tenants, the Lakers. It also proved that hockey below the Sun Belt, could exist and be popular.

After nine years in Los Angeles that saw Gretzky guide the Kings to the 1993 Stanley Cup Final (where they lost in five games), Gretzky was traded again. On Februray 27, 1996, Gretzky was traded to the St. Louis Blues for Patrice Tardif, Roman Vopat, Craig Johnson and two draft choices. Gretzky played out the remainder part of that 1995-96 season with the Blues, leading them to the Conference Semifinals. Unfortunately, it was Gretzky's giveaway in Game 7 which led to Steve Yzerman's famous double-OT goal in a 1-0 Red Wings win.

Gretzky would finish his career with the New York Rangers, but he failed to do what he did four times with the Oilers -- win a Stanley Cup. But that doesn't overshadow what most people remember as one of the most memorable days in sports history. Many people will never forget where they were on August 9, 1988, the day hockey (and sports) changed forever.

Other famous hockey trades:
May 15, 1967
The Boston Bruins acquire Phil Esposito, Ken Hodge and Fred Stanfield from the Chicago Blackhawks for Pit Martin, Gilles Marotte and Jack Norris

Dec. 6, 1995
The Colorado Avalanche trade Martin Rucinsky, Andrei Kovalenko and Jocelyn Thibault to the Montreal Canadiens for Patrick Roy and Mike Keane.

June 30, 1992
The Quebec Nordiques trade Eric Lindros to the Philadelphia Flyers for Peter Forsberg, Steve Duchesne, Mike Ricci, Kerry Huffman, Chris Simon, Ron Hextall, two draft picks and $15 million

Other famous sports trades:
The Cubs trade Lou Brock to the Cardinals for Ernie Broglio

The Mets trade Tom Seaver to the Reds for Pat Zachry, Doug Flynn, Steve Henderson, Dan Norman.

The Athletics trade Mark McGwire to the Cardinals for T.J. Mathews, Eric Ludwick, Blake Stein

The Baltimore Colts traded John Elway's draft rights to the Denver Bronocs for quarterback Mark Hermann, the rights to offensive tackle Chris Hinton and a first-round pick in the 1984 draft (Ron Solt).

June 9, 1980
The Golden State Warriors traded center Robert Parish and the No. 3 pick in the 1980 draft (Kevin McHale) to the Boston Celtics for the No. 1 pick in the draft, which they used to take center Joe Barry Carroll, and the No. 13 choice, which they used on guard Rickey Brown

October 12, 1989
The Dallas Cowboys trade Herschel Walker to the Minnesota Vikings for five players, six conditional draft choices and a 1992 first-round pick. The Cowboys would use those draft choices on running back Emmitt Smith and safety Darren Woodson.