Report: 2011 Winter Classic will be Capitals-Penguins at Heinz Field

If the Post-Gazette is to be believed, an announcement confirming the NHL’s next outdoor New Year’s Day game will be made tomorrow by commissioner Gary Bettmen in Chicago prior to the start of the Stanley Cup Finals. The 2011 Winter Classic is set to feature the Washington Capitals playing the Pittsburgh Penguins at Heinz Field. This means several things:

  • In the NHL, all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others. In just its fourth year, the Winter Classic is set to include the Penguins and Sidney Crosby again. Why the NHL has put so much focus on a twice-bankrupt franchise, from a region that has been losing population for 50 years, above all others is beyond me. As for Crosby, he’s not exactly Mr. Charisma. Alex Ovechkin, the Caps two time Hart Trophy winner is a rock star, but the NHL has been gun-shy including him in broad marketing campaigns.
  • Apparently, Pittsburgh’s stadium authority doesn’t have high expectations of the Steelers hosting a playoff game in early January.
  • The Caps are almost certain to break out the original white sweaters with the stars on the sleeve. I approve.
  • I may have a viewing conflict on New Year’s Day if Penn State is playing in a bowl game that day.
  • I have no interest in being there with 60,000 drunken Pittsburghers.
  • The New York Rangers have got to be wondering what they have to do to be involved.
  • A Winter Classic in Penn State’s Beaver Stadium between the Penguins and the Philadelphia Flyers is probably not going to happen any time soon. The NHL may love the Penguins, but not that much. Despite my antipathy for those two teams, I kind of like the idea of a battle for Pennsylvania with one side wearing orange and the other side wearing black.
  • The visiting team has always gone on to win its conference title.

Hey, I’m liking this more already! Actually, the first two visiting teams that won then went on to lose the Stanley Cup finals in game 7. The only visiting team to lose, the Flyers, lost this 2010 Winter Classic to the Boston Bruins at Fenway Park, but are going to win the Stanley Cup this year. Write-it down and remember patterns are perfect predictors of sporting events.

UPDATED
Washington Capitals will play Pittsburgh Penguins in 2011 Winter ClassicThe Post

Capitals vs. Penguins Winter Classic set for Heinz Field 2011 – Puck Daddy, Yahoo!

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Penn State announces noon kickoffs for first 2 home games

Nittany Lions’ First Two Home Games Set For Noon KicksIntercollegiate Athletics
The first two home games of the Penn State Nittany Lions 2010 football season will be noon kickoffs. Opening day will be on Big Ten Network, but the second home game will be on ESPN or ESPN2. Hello Pam Ward!

I’ll get an updated schedule here later, WordPress doesn’t like PRE tags, so I have to format it into a table.

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Lincecum is no Atilano; Nats beat SF Giants

Washington Nationals batter Tim Lincecum in 7-3 win over San Francisco GiantsThe Post
Taking down the bestNats Insider
After learning of the Washington Nationals victory over the San Francisco Giants and ace Tim Lincecum, I have one question. Is MissChatter going to do another “Rookie vs. All-Star” commercial for MASN now?

While it is not as shocking as Levale Speigner beating Johan Santana, the Nats roughing up Lincecum for 6 runs over 4 2/3 innings is up there, isn’t it? Of course, Nats Insider totally called it yesterday. In his sixth MLB start, Luis Atilano out-dueled Lincecum by throwing 5 1/3 innings of 4 hit, 2 run ball.

Ian Desmond
had 3 RBI. Adam Dunn tripled! The Nats stole 4 bases and Nyjer Morgan did not even get caught stealing. They were the first stolen bases since May 10. The win was also the first by a starter since the 10th.

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Bad PR for the Nats if Strasburg doesn’t start on June 4

The current line of thinking has Stephen Strasburg making his Washington Nationals debut during the June 8 – 10 series (nationals.com) against the Pittsburgh Pirates. For the last week or so, speculation by fans and media based on his schedule with the AAA Syracuse Chiefs made the June 4 game against the Cincinnati Reds a good bet for being Strasburg’s major league debut. Tickets for that game are nearly sold out based on that speculation. If Strasburg appears after that date, the Nats are going to need some serious damage control, even though they had specifically said that the date of his first start has not been decided.

To those who bought tickets, that’s tough luck, but expecting a sure thing is kind of naive. If Strasburg doesn’t start, you still get to go to baseball game — one more baseball game than I’ll be going to that night. Granted, I stand to benefit if Strasburg’s debut is June 8 because I have tickets to that game. However, I’m not going to be mad if that isn’t the day, if it is, that’s a bonus. If I were the team, I’d rather have Strasburg start twice on the homestand, so the 4th sounds like a good idea from the box office perspective. It would keep people happy for one thing.

There is some skepticism and cynicism out there about the Nats motivations for not committing to June 4. Some have said that June 4 being a near sellout has created the incentive to have Strasburg start on a different day and get another sellout. Now, maybe I’m being too forgiving, but I have trouble buying that theory. After all, if Strasburg pitches on June 4, that puts him in line to pitch on June 9, also at home. I’d like to to believe that the Nats are not that bad that they’d move the start a single day to get another sellout. However, given the problems the Nats have had over the years — most recently reaching out to groups of Phillies fans for Opening Day tickets instead of giving the general public a chance to buy them, the team stands to take a lot of heat even though they don’t necessarily deserve it. Their obligation is to the long-term goals of the team and the player and not the 15,000 to 20,000 ticket buyers hoping to see history. The backlash though, deserved or not is what happens when a franchise deals in bad faith with its fanbase as it did by recruiting ticket groups from Philadelphia for Opening Day. Hopefully, they will heed this lesson moving forward so that they don’t expose themselves to accusations.

The morals of the story — buyer beware and act in good faith all the time, so that people don’t assume its bad faith when it isn’t.

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