The Blue Jackets, The Chris Gethard Show, and Sports Passport: While We’re Waiting

Good Tuesday, gentle readers. Not unlike Jason Giambi circa 2013 I have been called in to pinch hit on this morning’s WWW. Whether or not I deliver a memorable walk-off homerun of flame out like Michael Martinez, I will leave to your judgment. This time of year serves as the calm before the sports storm with March Madness about to begin, the NFL lying quiet, baseball sequestered to the desert, and basketball enduring its dog days. Instead, can I interest you in some olde time hockey?

Longtime WFNY readers will recall that in October 2015 I attempted to sell everyone on the merits of the Columbus Blue Jackets and their rising star in the National Hockey League. Surely, I argued, Ohio’s capital was destined to become home to one of the finest hockey clubs on the continent. Predictably, the Jackets took that hype and goodwill and promptly stepped in it. They opened the season with eight straight losses, fired head coach Todd Richards, and proceeded to mope through a regrettable season. The Jackets finished dead last in the Metropolitan Division, a full twenty games out of the final playoff spot. As far as predictions go, mine fell somewhere between Punxatowny Phil and Y2K panic.

In an effort to prevent a repeat jinx I have remained silent on the hockey front this season. However this Blue Jackets club cannot be denied. With yesterday’s 5-3 win over Philadelphia the club set new franchise highs for wins in a season (44) and points in a season (94). They are all but assured a playoff berth with only seeding to be determined. Their 94 points would rank first in the entire Western Conference, but the Metro’s teams boast an unnatrually high point count.The CBJ sit in third place, one point behind the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals who are tied for first (Caps lead by tiebreaker). The NHL’s unusual playoff seeding means that division winners play two wild card teams while the second and third place finishers in each division play each other. The idea is to foment rivalries. While the marketing and financial implications make sense that does not change the fact that I do not want to play Pittsburgh.

Penguins fans travel very well. They regularly fill opposing barns and have felt more than a little at home in Nationwide Arena historically. While hatred for Pittsburgh and its sports teams flows through my veins as readily as hemoglobin, this aversion is not simply out of spite. The Pens are defending Stanley Cup Champs and could conceivably repeat with a hot streak. The Jackets’ best bet is to either overtake the once unassailable Washington or strategically drop to the first wild card spot which would allow them to play an inferior Montreal Canadiens team. I would happily sacrifice home ice for a more manageable opponent.

Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky anchors the club defensively. The man they call “Bob” ranks second in the league in goals allowed average (2.07), third in save percentage (.930), second in wins (36), and third in shutouts (6). Right winger Cam Atkinson has netted 30 goals (10th in the League) as part of 57 total points. The CBJ rattled off sixteen straight wins earlier in the season and currently are on a 7-2-1 run. Everything that went wrong last year has worked in 2016-17 as a mix of veterans, rookies, home grown, and imported players are meshing well with the potential for a deep playoff run.

Current Internet Obsession:

While Netflix and HBO offer you cutting edge, exclusive comedy designed to fit every niche and market, I’d like to bring your attention to a New York public access/obscure cable channel show that does not have any new episodes scheduled. “The Chris Gethard Show” embodies the notion of “misfit, punk rock comedy.” What began in June 2011 on public access’s Manhattan News Network grew into a YouTube treasure trove before eventually evolving to a full hourlong program on Fusion. If you need a jumping off point, I recommend the Fusion season 2 episode “One Man’s Trash.” That episode’s premise involved viewers calling and Skyping in to the program to guess what’s in the dumpster in the studio. That’s all. The show is undoubtedly strange, but always entertains. (vaguely NSFW)

The show questions what topics can be discussed and still be considered comedy. Gethard covers mental illness, censorship, conspiracy theories, and family dinner. It is a bit of an acquired taste and may not be for everyone, but there are hours of episodes online if it tickles your funny bone. Currently the show’s namesake is performing his one-man show “Career Suicide” and it is not clear when (if ever) the show will return. Even if there are no more episodes there is more than enough online to hold you over.

Random Sports Thing of the Day:

If you’re reading this then I’m willing to bet you have attended a professional or collegiate sporting event in person. If you have every wanted to track the games you attended or see how your favorite teams have played in your presence I highly recommend Sports Passport. Available in your app store, the app is easy to use and allows you to see the visual representation of your fanhood. Below is the bar graph of how many games I have attended overall sorted by year (15 already in 2017, yes I have a problem).

SP 1

Or if you prefer a geographic view, the app works with Google Maps to place digital pins on your travels.

SP 2

The app offers stamps for various accomplishments – all Big Ten football stadiums, all AL Central ballparks, etc. It’s free, addictive, and gives an extra sense of purpose to traveling out of state for a minor league baseball game. I recommend.

That’s all for today. Best of luck on your brackets!