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Author: Eric

Do Conference Championships Matter? The NCAA Basically Says No

Do Conference Championships Matter? The NCAA Basically Says No

The NCAA announced the 62 team field for the Division III Men’s Soccer Championship today and I want to know who the Babson College team knows on the selection committee as they received the draw of the century.

Yesterday I went to the New England Women’s & Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Men’s Soccer Championship Game to support my alma mater Springfield College and two players, who are Sport Management students, that I got to know and watch develop into some great guys both in the classroom and on the field. In the Championship, Springfield played against Wheaton College who had beaten Babson the previous day in the semifinals. It was a hard fought game between both teams and ultimately Springfield came out on top which earned them an automatic qualifying bid into the NCAA Tournament.

Fast forward to 1:00 PM today. The selection show has started and it is now time to see who Springfield will face in the first round. The host is going through all of the regions until he eventually says the Rowan will host a region and play against Lehman and the other game in the region is Springfield vs. Tufts. Tufts was the 2014 National Champion who this year was upset in their league quarterfinals. While I think this will be a great match-up between two New England teams, I think it is fair to say this is a tough draw for a Springfield team who finished the season at 18-1-1 especially when you consider what happened later in the bracket.

After a couple more teams were said, the selection show host announced the next host team would be Babson. I thought there must have been a mistake at first, there was no way that Babson who had just lost in the NEWMAC semifinals was getting to host their group as a top seed. I could understand them making the tournament with an at-large bid but not being a top seed for a group. Babson posted a record of 11-5-3 this season and in the most recent rankings were #3 in New England behind 2015 National Champion and 2016 NESCAC Champion Amherst and UMass Boston, 2016 Little East Champions with a record of 17-1-2. From these rankings, you would assume both teams higher than Babson would get to host their group as well. Well, you would be wrong to assume that. Amherst does have that opportunity as the #1 seed on their side of the bracket along with a first round bye. UMass Boston on the other hand has to make the trip to Haverford, PA for their group.

I would love to be able to sit in on the meeting with the Division III Soccer Committee and hear how they could possibly come up with a reason to explain how Babson gets to host this upcoming weekend when UMass Boston, who was ranked higher than Babson, and Springfield, who won the NEWMAC Championship which Babson is a part of, both have to travel to Pennsylvania and New Jersey, respectively. This committee could not have been impartial in this process and seems quite biased towards Babson.

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watch the throne, five years later: top kanye collabs

watch the throne, five years later: top kanye collabs

This is the week of Monday, August 8th and the date marks the fifth birthday of Watch The Throne – a beautiful, pulsating, gilded, collaborative musical effort by Jay and Ye. This is an important – near perfectly produced and enunciated album – that’s a biased opinion but regardless this thing deserves a lot of attention so we’re hosting the first annual Watch The Throne week here at The Open Field in honor of as much. A feature a day, maybe more, and fun stuff in between. na na na. 

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As you already know from reading the other posts this week, it is the five year anniversary of Watch the Throne. This album was one for the ages with two titans of the music industry coming together at a time where both were at the peaks of their careers. Two years prior to WTT, Jay Z had released his 9th consecutive album to reach #1 on the US charts in The Blueprint 3. A year later and one year before WTT, Kanye West released My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy which was also his fourth consecutive album to reach #1 on the charts and one that some people consider to be his best album.

 

This got me thinking, why hasn’t Kanye (my favorite artist by the way) collabed with anyone else since then? Of course last week after I have this idea, news broke that Kanye was going to collab with Drake. It makes sense that Drake would be the artist to collab with Kanye as Drake is involved with anything that is relevant at the time. Personally, Drake isn’t my first choice of artists that I would love a collab from so below is my top five that I want with Ye.

 

#5 – Taylor Swift

Before anyone jumps down my throat, hear me out. Obviously I do not think this will happen nor do I think it would be musically good. The reason I would love this collab is because I still think the whole situation with the video of Taylor Swift agreeing to Famous is a publicity stunt. Imagine all of Taylor Swift’s fans who were going after Kanye and Kim defending their idol only to have her go full villain and connect with Kanye to sell albums. This album would also sell like crazy between the Yeezus disciples and the TSwift diehards.

 

#4 – Future

Personally, I’m not a huge fan of Future but since Watch the Throne was a collab of huge artists it’s hard to not include Future in this list. Future is one of the biggest names in music right now whether he is putting out his own albums or getting on other tracks.

 

#3 – Nelly

Yes, that Nelly. I know he hasn’t been to relevant in the music industry lately but he always stays in people’s minds. Whether it’s playing in a celebrity baseball or football game and crushing it or having a random verse every once in a while, Nelly never seems to go away. A couple weeks ago, Country Grammar became only the 8th Diamond Album in Hip-Hop history joining rappers like Eminem, Tupac, Notorious B.I.G., Outkast and MC Hammer. Pretty good company to be in with. Take Nelly’s smooth Midwest flow, put that over some Yeezy beats and you have an album with plenty of catchy hits that are sure to always be around. There isn’t a time when Ride Wit Me comes on and the listener doesn’t know the words.

 

#2 – Gucci Mane

Fresh out of prison, Gucci Mane released an album with Kanye on it and also hopped on a verse for Champions. Knowing that they started working together right away means Kanye knows that Gucci has much more to come after sitting in jail. That time lets a man think and I’m sure Gucci has many more verses up his sleeve. Out of my list, I feel like this one would be the most likely to happen as Kanye is always down to do something that gets publicity (prison release) and Gucci Mane probably wants to do something huge that people will remember.

 

#1 – Eminem

It’s almost impossible not to have Eminem on a rap list of any kind and this one is no different. Kanye has even said that Eminem is the greatest of all-time.  Em’s unique style paired up with Kanye is something I can only dream of. When Kanye is in the zone he is one of the best lyricists ever and if you doubt that listen to some of his freestyles, The College Dropout or even his verses in the Power Remix. Eminem is no different when in comes to lyrics so having nonstop verses of those two for an entire album would be bigger than Watch the Throne.

That’s it. My list of who I would love to see Kanye hop in the studio with for an entire album. I would love to hear some other thoughts from people about who is on their list.

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What I’m Listening to — Scoring Position

What I’m Listening to — Scoring Position

After a much needed long weekend and trip to New Hampshire, it was back to work on the 5th which for me meant heading into Cambridge, MA. As a quick backstory, for the past two years I had been working in ticket sales for an AHL hockey team. I knew that I did not want to do sales for the rest of my life so when the team was sold in April I made the decision to further my education and get my master’s degree while I had the opportunity. So for now, I am working at a school in Boston full-time and will start working towards my master’s in the fall.

Getting to Cambridge is not an easy commute and for those who take public transportation as part of their commute know how crucial it is to have something that passes the time. For me, that something is podcasts. For those who don’t know what they are, podcasts are basically radio talk shows that are made in episode form so that you can listen to them when you would like. While I have subscribed to many different podcasts, there is one I have recently started that is a hidden gem: Scoring Position.

Scoring Position falls under the KFC Radio umbrella of podcasts but isn’t as well known due to the hosts not being Barstool Sports personalities. That doesn’t stop hosts Amanda and Alyssa from being just as comical and ridiculous with some of their responses. The basic premise of the show is that they talk about sports and dating whether it’s their own dating lives or giving advice to others. And before you start saying women can’t talk sports, I’d have no problem betting on Alyssa against any guy I know in sports knowledge (Amanda not so much).

While Amanda does not contribute much to the sports discussion, she does bring a lot of humor with stories of her dating life. Even when they start talking about what athletes are good-looking, I can’t take her opinions seriously as she thinks Johnny Damon is the best looking athlete. Has she seen Tom Brady? Another quick fact about her is that she is Alyssa’s best friend which is her sole reason for doing the podcast.

Now for Alyssa Rose, the star of the podcast and daughter of Islanders play-by-play announcer Howie Rose. Besides knowing an incredible amount about sports especially hockey, her personality is also top-notch. She has the whole self-deprecating schtick but in reality her one flaw is she got catfished (this story alone is worth the download). It is also apparent that she loves guys who eat steak or any meat for that matter as it comes up once an episode. Alyssa is essentially a dream woman for most men. So Alyssa, if you read this, there is an open invitation to an Islanders/Bruins game in Boston with a reservation to Ruth’s Chris Steak House included.

As for the show itself, some highlights include the Three Stars of the Week, the 53-man roster and surprise guests. The stars of the week are three athletes who excelled that week who Alyssa and Amanda think all women should be able to discuss with guys at the bar. The 53-man roster is constantly changing with athletes being added and dropped each week. The additions usually include charitable donations, saying something funny or a new good-looking athlete they have found. Arrests, suspensions or just being stupid typically lead to drops like Tavaris Jackson and Johnny Manziel.

I don’t want to give too much more detail on the podcast so that you have some surprises to listen to. Hopefully my recommendations of Peaky Blinders and this have not disappointed.

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With the First Pick in the 2016 NHL Draft…

With the First Pick in the 2016 NHL Draft…

Well it happened again… much to my dismay I wasn’t taken with the first overall pick, or any pick for that matter. Even though all 30 teams decided to pass on the 24-year-old former club hockey player, I still had an incredible time at the Sports Management Worldwide NHL Draft Conference and the draft itself. During my time in Buffalo, I met some great people, learned a lot and made important connections for my professional development in sports.

Before I get to the details of my stay in Buffalo, I want to give advice to anyone planning on going there soon. I would not recommend making that drive alone. If it wasn’t for my two cans of Red Bull and some new episodes of KFC Radio and Pardon My Take, I probably would have dozed off from seeing the same scenery every mile after Syracuse.

Besides the drive out there, Thursday was an overall fun day at the draft conference. I kicked off my night at Sidelines Sports Bar & Grill for some dinner before the networking event there that night. Huge shoutout to the bartender Hillary for the incredible service and hospitality for someone not familiar with the area. My night at the event was entertaining as I quickly learned that everyone at the conference thinks they are the next big thing and I played middle man to a few debates.

Friday morning the real fun started. The first speakers were Brian and Patrick Burke, two of the most influential men in hockey. The father-son duo spoke their minds and got the audience laughing first thing in the morning. We also got an inside glimpse of how hectic the hockey industry can be as Brian Burke had to leave early as trade talks heated up just hours before the draft. This ended up being the Brian Elliot trade.

The rest of the day consisted of a variety of topics with different expert speakers. Of the remaining speakers, I got to speak separately with a few to get some more specific pointers and advice on succeding in the hockey industry. I would like to thank Trevor Whiffen, Roger Shannon and Rick Curran for their time at the conference and for some of the best advice I’ve received. Trevor is the Governor of the London Knights of the OHL who had seven players selected in the draft. Roger is the Director of Hockey Operations/Scouting for the Moncton Wildcats of the QMJHL. Rick is an NHL agent at the Orr Hockey Group who used to have an office in Boston due to their local ties with Bobby Orr, you might have heard of him. One thing that was said by a speaker was that they had never met a bad person working in hockey. This is definitely the case with these three guys who didn’t just brush off a 24-year-old kid who is determined to make it big.

Draft 2

Once all the speakers were done, the fun really started. As I started to walk from the Buffalo Convention Center to the First Niagara Center I met up with a few other conference participants. The five of us realized  it was too early to go inside the draft so we decide to head to 716 Sports Bar for some drinks. While inside the bar, where everyone was wearing jerseys, we started to get some looks from people deciding if we were prospects or not. We definitely stood out with our suits and with my clean-shaven face I could have passed for an 18-year-old prospect about to be drafted. Once we got settled we realized it wasn’t that crazy as the second overall pick, Patrick Laine, was in the same bar except in a private room.

Draft 3

After killing some time, we decided to head over a little early to the draft so we could see the Stanley Cup and then settle into our seats. While it wasn’t my first time seeing it, it is always special seeing the greatest trophy in sports. Eventually I got to sit down and enjoy the draft although that was short lived when the Bruins passed on a few of my favorite players that dropped to them.

My trip finally ended on Saturday when I caught the second round of the draft with a former colleague who was covering the draft for the team she works for now. After catching up and seeing a few more picks I made the trek back home with a lot of memories. Needless to say, there is a very good chance I will head to the NHL Draft next year after my experience at this conference.

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So You Think Hockey is Done? Guess Again, I’m Going to the NHL Draft

So You Think Hockey is Done? Guess Again, I’m Going to the NHL Draft

 

(Editor’s Note: Completely unplanned, but I am very excited for Eric. He will be at the NHL Draft, as he explains later on in this article. I am looking forward to the content he brings from that, and also for him to get the chance to meet some of these next-gen stars. )


The Stanley Cup Playoffs are finally over and congratulations to the Pittsburgh Penguins on an incredible run this season especially with a coaching change mid-season. I also want to say I am actually happy Phil Kessel won a Stanley Cup even though it was not with Boston. He did not want to be in Boston when he was traded and they return they got for him turned out to be Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton. Although they didn’t turn out well, the Bruins got their cup in 2011.

Phil Kessel is also a great American role model for young kids who may be on the heavier side but still want to succeed in sports. Kessel was one of the best players this playoffs and he looks like he could have gone to Camp Hope to learn from Tony Perkis.

HSBC_Arena_Sabres

 

 

While you may think you have a couple months off from hockey, think again. Hockey season never ends. Next weekend is when stars are made, the NHL Draft. This year the draft will be held in Buffalo and you will get an inside look at what goes on there as I will be heading out there a week from today. For four days, I will be in Buffalo at an NHL networking conference and also get to attend the draft. When I get back I hope to have some unique stories about meeting players, coaches and some general managers. If I do not come back and write about my experiences then just know it is because a first round pick has decided to make me his agent.

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Previewing Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals

Previewing Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals

As a hockey fan, Thursday night was a great night for me. A San Jose Sharks win means that there is still some more NHL hockey to watch. This Sunday, the Sharks will take on the Pittsburgh Penguins at home and look to force a game 7 for the Stanley Cup. After how Thursday night’s game ended I’m sure Sunday will be an exciting one and is a great way to end your night.

The three players from the Penguins who are going to really control the outcome of the game are the ones that have been talked about all playoffs. Phil Kessel, Sidney Crosby, and Matt Murray. If the Penguins win the Stanley Cup then I think Kessel gets the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Stanley Cup Playoffs MVP. He has been controlling the pace of the game and leading the Pens in the playoffs getting just under a point a game. If he continues his play and gets the match ups he likes, Kessel will be hoisting the Cup on Sunday. All this from a guy who will definitely use the Cup for eating in it rather than partying.

Kessel

As for the other two, Crosby and Murray will always have the attention focused on them as one is a league superstar and the other is the goalie. No matter what part of the season it is, Sidney Crosby always has eyes on him as he was “The Next One” and has to live up to those expectations. It is moments like these where a superstar has to just take over and show why they are elite. Obviously Matt Murray is another reason for the Penguins success as you cannot win without a hot goalie. Murray hasn’t looked like a rookie thus far but now this is when the pressure really comes along when you just have to win one final game.

Shark tank

The biggest advantage the Sharks have is that they are back on home ice for game 6. It is well-known that the Shark Tank is one of the hardest places to play in hockey as their fans get loud. Look for the Sharks to jump ahead quick on some early emotions and adrenaline. Even though Pittsburgh already won there once this series, I don’t think the Sharks let it happen again.

Burns thornton

The two players I will be watching the closest on Sunday for the Sharks are the Bearded Boys, Joe Thornton and Brent Burns. Thornton, age 36, is appearing in his first Stanley Cup Finals of his career since he entered in 1997. After he was stripped of his captaincy a couple seasons ago, people started to question if his career was winding down. Well Jumbo proved them wrong as he is fifth in scoring these playoffs and second in assists with 18. Let’s hope he keeps going with assists rather than goals. If you don’t know what I’m talking about search “Joe Thornton four goals”.

Finally my favorite player in the series, Brent Burns. He is the epitome of a two-way player as throughout his NHL career he has played both forward and defense for the team’s he has played for. Burns is a true gamechanger as he can block a shot or lay a big hit in the defensive zone and then take the puck coast to coast and score a goal. If Burns is as fired up as he was the other night then look for big hits and a lot of energy from him.

Sharks win game 6 and force the most exciting thing in sports, a Stanley Cup Finals game 7.

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RIP to a Legend – Mr. Hockey

RIP to a Legend – Mr. Hockey

The hockey world lost one of the greatest players of all time today. At the age of 88, Gordie Howe also known as “Mr. Hockey” , passed away this morning. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Howe and how important he is to the game of hockey let this sink in, Wayne Gretzky tweeted out “Unfortunately, we lost the greatest hockey player ever today, but more importantly the nicest man I have ever met.” Wayne Gretzky, who most people consider the best ever, let everyone know who he really thinks the best is, Mr. Hockey.

Besides Gretzky, the amount of condolences from both current and former NHL players is incredible and add on to them the millions of fans showing support.

Gordie Howe’s career was quite impressive to say the least. He played 26 seasons in the NHL and another six seasons in the WHA. He played his 26 NHL seasons in five different decades, 40s through the 80s, with his last season in 1980 at the age of 52. Jaromir Jagr was 44 this past season and people thought he was a medical mystery. He still has eight years to go on Mr. Hockey. During those 26 seasons, he racked up a long list of accomplishments.

Some of his most impressive accomplishments included:

  • being in the top five for scoring for 20 consecutive seasons
  • most consecutive 20-goal seasons with 22
  • 23-time NHL All-Star
  • 4-time Stanley Cup Champion
  • Hockey Hall of Fame Inductee in 1972

However, the one thing that stood out the most about Mr. Hockey wasn’t his hockey. It was how great of a guy he was. While he was one tough player on the ice, off the ice he was considered one of the nicest guys by his peers. Of all the condolences I saw today, most of them weren’t remembering Gordie Howe the hockey player but rather Gordie Howe their friend.

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