Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I Liked Indiana Jones, But That's Not What This Column Is About

By Joe Chandler

It’s a great time at The Kept Faith. The Padres are terrible and I have a feeling that it directly correlates to the best thing I’ve got going right now. Hockey is having a resurgence and while many of you have been suffering through Albert Pujols injuring Friars willy-nilly, I’ve been watching the greatest show on earth. Nor have I been alone: The first game of the Stanley Cup Finals was the highest rated finals game in several years. The fall of the Padres may seem unrelated to the rise of hockey, but I assure you, it is not.

For the last several years the Padres have been “good.” You’ll notice that good is in quotes, the reality of whether or not the Padres were ever really competitive is questionable. During the Padres run of upper level mediocrity hockey has suffered through a dearth of writers questioning the reason for its existence, a lockout and general lowering of reputation. I’ve of course loyally followed the sport that I grew up loving, much as I followed the Padres through their suffering as a child. While I was following awful Padres teams as a kid, hockey was experiencing unprecedented growth. The playoffs were widely recognized as the most exciting in sports and the ratings were pulling dead even with basketball right around the time I was graduating high school.

Now that the Padres have faltered (in a much more real way than hockey ever has) people have begun to notice how exciting hockey still is. The ratings have gone up and has been running hockey stories on the front page. Sportscentre (that’s how it’s spelled in Canada) has been leading with hockey stories and featuring Don Cherry (he invented Canada). Frankly, it feels like the finals are actually being covered by the mainstream media. The final series features the future of the sport Sidney Crosby (not the next Gretzky (but maybe the next Messier)) versus the Detroit Red Wings, who might be better than they’ve ever been. Things could not be rosier for the National Hockey League and people have stopped looking down their noses at me when I talk about my passion for the game.

There is no way the rise and fall of the Padres and the National Hockey League are not directly linked. The Padres recent “success” was clearly causing the recent “failure” of the NHL, just as the very real failure of the Padres has been pushing hockey into the spotlight. So I invite you to abandon a lost season and watch the last few games of what has been an exceptional hockey playoffs. Channel 7 (in San Diego) is just a few clicks away from Channel 4. The Padres might beat the Nationals tonight, but it won’t matter because Chris Osgood hasn’t given up a goal in the Finals and the Penguins are going to put up a huge fight before giving away the series to the big red machine. Seriously, watch, because you might see something like this:

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