At the races

4 Fun Facts About the Indiana Pacers

The Indiana Pacers were founded in 1967. That was a crazy year. That year the Smothers Brothers comedy show premiered on CBS, and employed a young writer named Steve Martin. Steve Martin became a star in the basketball comedy, “Pacertown Punk,” the story of a star Pacer rookie with a heart of gold who can’t break away from his criminal past of boosting golf carts from local courses.

The Pacers were a founding member of the American Basketball Association and joined the National Basketball Association in 1976 when those two leagues emerged. The other ABA teams to join the NBA included the Denver Nuggets, New York Nets and San Antonio Spurs. The NBA made the ABA teams pay an expansion fee of more than $3 million. One Pacers fan said, “I pay an expansion fee, too. Everytime I have a bag of donuts, my waist expands another six inches. So far my expansion fees total a 75-inch waist.”

While the Pacers were in the ABA, they won three championships. That’s kind of like being the best comedian in Cold Lake, Iowa. There isn’t a lot of competition. In fact, in Cold Lake, Iowa, the only comedian is Johnny Kornpone. Johnny Kornpone is famous for his catchphrase. “What? You’ve never milked a cow? Well, jibber, jibber, jibber!”

The Pacers have several players in the Hall of Fame: Alex English in 1997, Adrian Dantley in 2008, Gus Johnson in 2010, Chris Mullin in 2011, Mel Daniels in 2012, Reggie Miller in 2012, and Roger Brown in 2013. Rick Smits, the Dunking Dutchman, was also in the Hall of Fame. Not the NBA Hall of Fame, but the Tallest Players in the NBA Hall of Fame. At 7 foot four, he anchored the Pacers from 1988-2000. He is the highest paid Dutch athlete ever. The second highest paid Dutch player is Pim van Hop, a soccer player who would hop like a Kangaroo every time he score a goal.

At the races

3 Fun Facts About the Memphis Grizzlies

The Memphis Grizzlies were founded in 1995. That was a crazy year. On January 11, 1995, the 104 day NHL Lockout ended. The Lockout began because owners wanted players to wear capes that flowed behind them as they went down the ice, and the players didn’t want to do it. A league spokesperson said, “The idea was the capes would make the players look like superheroes. We could then merchandise them with comic books, movies, and action figures. Instead of Spiderman, we would have The Enforcer, Penalty Killer Man, and even Super Zamboni Driver. He drives over evil doers with the Zamboni and embedding their dead bodies beneath the ice.”

The Grizzlies play home games at the FedEx Forum. The arena has a music theme, with restaurants such as the Blue Note Lounge and Opus Restaurant. On the main mezzanine, bands play for attendees all through the game. The most popular band is called the Memphis Grizzlies Bench, which consists of Grizzlies players that warm the bench and have never seen playing time. An arena official said, “The Memphis Grizzlies Bench band gives benchwarmers something to do during the game, and fans love the music. It’s also probably the tallest band in the music industry.”

It was also the first arena to use “see-through” shot clocks that don’t restrict the view of fans that sit behind the clock. FedExForum was also the first to use see-through basketballs, see-through hot dogs, see-through nachos, and a special see-through tickets. One fan said, “It’s cool. The ticket is completely see-through, but the Ticketmaster service charge is still $750 per ticket.”

At the races

3 Fun Facts About the Columbus Blue Jackets

The Blue Jackets were founded in 2000. That was a crazy year. That same year, Lars Ulrich of Metallica started a lawsuit against Napster, which was a file sharing program that allowed people to share songs for free, which is of course illegal. But why did Lars file the lawsuit? He’s the drummer. Maybe James Hetfield said to the band, “Listen, boys, let’s have Lars file the lawsuit. It takes the heat off the band a bit, and everyone knows drummers are a little crazy.”

The Blue Jackets name recalls the state’s history in the Civil War. Not the War Between the States — The War Between the Real Estate Companies. A professor at Ohio University in Athens explained, “Legend has it that Ohio was ground zero between the battle of the real estate agents with yellow jackets and the local group with blue jackets. The battle lasted 21 days, ending only when the blue side sold a four-plex next to a strip mall for 20 percent over market value, soundly defeating the yellow jackets.”

The Blue Jackets play at Nationwide Arena. A company spokesperson said, “Of all the great things about Nationwide Arena, we are perhaps best known as the home of the world’s largest T-shirt launching Gatling gun. We can launch 1,000 T-shirts every minute into the crowd at hockey games, basketball games, and many other events. It’s not flawless, though. Normally, it moves back and forth as it fires the shirts into the crowd. One time it got stuck, and shirts kept piling up on this family from Coshocton. It took us three days to dig them out.”

At the races

3 Things You Should Know about Ohio Stadium

Ohio Stadium, also known as “The Horseshoe,” or more commonly “The Shoe,” and home of the Ohio State University Buckeyes, opened for business in 1922. It was built largely to handle the crowds who came out to see Buckeye legend Chic Harley, who was an amazing player both offensively and defensively. One Buckeye fan said, “You know it’s the same with my wife. You have to be good on both offense and defense. On offense, you need to be creative with the stories you tell her. On defense, you need to be able to bob and weave quickly to avoid being hit by various pots, pans and kitchen utensils.”

Ohio Stadium is the third biggest football stadium in the country. Columbus, site of the Ohio State fair, where they show the third largest rooting pig in the country. His name is Henry, and he is owned by farmer Oliver P. Pickle. Mr. Pickle said, “Henry is an eating machine. That boy will eat just about anything you set in front of them. One time, we came back from church, and we had stopped off to the local diner for some post church breakfast. Well, we walk out on the sidewalk and we see a fellow they’re selling leather billfolds, wallets and other whatnot. I need a new leather scabbard for my Japanese sword I bought on QVC, so we bought one of them, and cousin Ivan selected a nice variety of wallets that he plans to give out to his nephews at Christmas. Well, no sooner had we got out of the truck, but Henry stuck his big nose in there, pulled the bag out of the floor next to the passenger seat, and proceeded to eat every wallet, billfold and scabbard we had purchased that day. I mean it was a tragedy. But it didn’t hurt Henry but none, in fact I think he was walking a little prouder after that. Gosh darn if I can explain it.”

The original seating capacity of Ohio Stadium was 66,210 fans. The population of the city at that time was approximately 250,000 people. That means that 25 percent of the city could fit inside the stadium. “Yes, we knew right away that we could use the stadium for much more than football,” a city official said. “In the off-season, we use to open a summer camp for kids. We blocked off the open side of the shoe with giant fences made of buckeyes, mud, straw and peeled off labels from root beer bottles. Then we’d fill up the issue with water so the kids could swim from an zoned to end zone. Some of the more athletic kids would get up on top of the field goal markers, swing their body around to get some sharp typical force going, and fling themselves out to the 50 yard line before they splashed. One kid hit wrong, and he had more red marks on his body then a slice of pimento loaf.”

3 Fun Facts About the Boston Bruins

The Boston Bruins started back in 1924. Now, that was a crazy year. That year Jelly Roll Morton recorded the hit “Jelly Roll Blues.” The lyrics go like this:

I bought some jelly rolls today
Just as I was about to pay
Somebody stole them, my coffee too
I’ve got the jelly roll blues

The Bruins are the third-oldest team in the NHL, and the oldest in the US. The team was started by grocery king Charles Adams, who purchased the franchise for $15,000. “Fifteen thousand dollars?” said a fan. “Today that wouldn’t pay for what the Bruins spend on hockey tape!”

Adams hired Art Ross as the general manager, and he became the front man for the Bruins for three decades. A former star player, like Bobby Orr did years later for the Bruins, Ross liked to rush down the ice with the puck rather than pass it forward. That’s why the called him “Art Ross, the Hockey Puck Boss.”

At the races

3 More Fun Facts About the Winnipeg Jets

Did you know the farm team for the Winnipeg Jets is the Manitoba Moose. The Manitoba Moose is named after a real moose. The team’s spokesperson explained, “The owners were at lunch trying to decide a name for the team. Just then a giant moose strolled in the restaurant. Right there in downtown Winnipeg! The press picked up the story, dubbing the hungry moose The Manitoba Moose, so the team just went with it.”

The first ever goal scored by a current Jets player was by Nik Antropov in the team’s debut against the Montreal Canadiens in 2011. When he joined the league from Kazakhstan, one Toronto Maple Leafs executive said he had “world class hands.” The term “World class” is batted around pretty easily these days. Like a restaurant saying they have “world class” pancakes. How do we know they don’t make better pancakes at some dingy diner in say, Kazakhstan.

That game featured a rock show by legendary Canadian rockers Bachman Turner Overdrive singing “We Just Got Back the Jets,” a takeoff on their hit song, “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet.” Alternative titles they considered were “Winnipeg Never Forgets” and “At Least We’re Not the Nets.”

3 Fun Facts About the Winnipeg Jets

The original Winnipeg Jets were founded in 1971 in the World Hockey Association. The World Hockey Association only played from 1972 until 1979 before merging with the NHL. A hockey expert explained: “The WHA was like the little engine that could…if it would have had some coal to fire the engine, and if the engine would have been bigger than the size of the motor in a Hyundai Sonata.”

Despite a strong core fan base, the Jets struggled financially and moved to Phoenix as the Coyotes in 1996. But never count Winnipeg Jets fans out! The Jets rose from the ashes! The new Jets, the current Jets, started as the Atlanta Thrashers in 1999. They moved to Winnipeg in 2011 as the Jets, but the original Jets history stayed with the Coyotes. One fan said, “It’s confusing as hell. There are more criss-crossed marriages and divorces in this league than an episode of the Real Housewives of Moose Jaw.”

The Thrashers were founded in 1999. That was a crazy year. That year President Bill Clinton was embroiled in a famous sexual harassment lawsuit, at one point he was cited for contempt of court. They cited him for “intentionally false statements.” My cousin Hemple told me, “Joe, a similar thing happened to me. I told my wife I was getting the car fixed, but she found me with these ladies from work at the bowling alley. She broke my bowling thumb right in front of everyone. Didn’t stop me. I just don’t use the holes, sort of cradle it and then roll the ball off the end of my good fingers.”

At the races

3 Fun Facts About Sergio Garcia

After his big Masters 2017 win yesterday, I want to say, “Congratulations, Sergio Garcia on FINALLY winning your first Masters and major championship!” With that in mind, let’s look at three fun facts about Sergio Garcia.

Did you know Sergio Garcia started playing golf at the age of three? That was in 1983, which was a crazy year. That year, Seve Ballesteros, Sergio’s idol, won the Master’s. Woooaaaahhhh, spooky! When Seve won, he said in Spanish, “Me alegro de haber ganado porque no podía jugar más hoy. Mis pantalones están muy apretados.” Which loosely means, “I’m glad I won because I couldn’t play anymore today. My pants are way too tight.”

Sergio turned pro in 1999, and was quickly recognized as a star, although he didn’t win a major for almost two decades. One golf fan said, “The only dry streak longer than that was went I went without a date from 5th grade until my wedding day. Yes, it’s true, I met my wife on my wedding day in one of those TV reality shows. It was called, ‘Married Today, Divorced Tomorrow,’ which is also on every ‘Welcome to Las Vegas’ sign.”

In his early days, Sergio’s swing had a loop in it that reminded people of Ben Hogan. A golf fan commented, “A lot of people tell me my swing is similar to Ben Franklin, meaning it looks like I’m trying to avoid being electrocuted by lightning during a thunderstorm.”

At the races

3 Fun Facts About the New York Rangers

The New York Rangers were founded in 1926 as an expansion team in the early days of the NHL. 1926 was a crazy year. That year the first lip reading tournament was held in America. One participant said, “My wife and I were in the contest, and it so happened that I had to read her lips. She said, “I would like a divorce and I’m taking the house.”

The Rangers are true OGs of the NHL, not only one of the oldest teams in the league, but considered one of the Original Six that includes the Bruins, the Blackhawks, the Red Wings, the Maple Leafs and the Canadiens. League play became sort of tedious with only six teams, so they worked in an extra team for variety called the Minneapolis Mad Hatters. A former Mad Hatter said, “We settled on Mad Hatters, but we also seriously considered the Minneapolis Mary Tyler Moores and the Minneapolis It’s So Cold I Can’t Feel My Toes.”

The Rangers were the second NHL team in Madison Square Garden — the New York Americans started play the previous year. The Americans went out of business in 1942. A league official explained: “Their last season they became the Brooklyn Americans, with the slogan, ‘No Sleep Till Brooklyn!’ And no profits either, apparently.”

At the races

3 Fun Facts About the Atlanta Hawks

The Atlanta Hawks basketball club started life in 1946 as the Buffalo Bisons. 1946 was a wild year. The Buffalo Bisons football team was also founded in 1946, and also were originally called the Bisons. What, two teams in one town with the same name? It was actually common in those days to name a Buffalo sports team “The Bisons.”

A fan remembers: “Yes, it was confusing as hell. Someone would say, ‘Are you going to the Bisons game?’, and you would say, ‘Football, basketball, baseball, hockey, lacrosse, curling, Olympic decathlon or checkers?'”

The Buffalo Bisons struggled to gain fans, and were only in town for 38 days when the GM, Leo Ferris, decided to move the team to the Tri-Cities area, which consists of Davenport, Iowa; Rock Island, Illinois; and Moline, Illinois. Upon hearing the news that the team would be moving to the Tri-Cities, each and every team member said, “What the hell is a Tri-Cities?”

But the Tri-Cities is noteworthy because that is where they changed the name to Blackhawks. The Blackhawks then became one of the original founding teams of the NBA when it formed in 1949. It wasn’t long before they moved to Milwaukee as the Hawks. A basketball expert explained, “First they were the Blackhawks, then the Hawks. It’s kind of like how Kanye West became Kanye, then Kimye. Pretty soon he will be a symbol: The Artist Formerly Known for Recording Good Music.”

At the races

Things You Should Know About the Oklahoma City Thunder

The Oklahoma City Thunder basketball club was founded in 1967 when the team was the Seattle Supersonics, who debuted with the NBA that year as an expansion team along with the San Diego Rockets, now the Houston Rockets. The Supersonics moved to Oklahoma City as the Thunder in 2008. 2008 was a crazy year — that year Boston College beat Notre Dame in what is known as the “College Football Holy War.” A fan at the game commented, “They sell holy water in bottles. That’s right. They sell bottled holy water at this game. What’s next? Priests taking confession on the bench for players shaving points? Come on now.”

The Thunder play at Chesapeake Energy Arena. An arena official said, “We can seat 17,000 for hockey, 18,000 for basketball, and 217,000 for the annual Oklahoma Farmer Hat Trading Show.”

“Every year I can’t wait for the Farmer Hat Trading Show,” one fan said. “Last year I traded my 1947 John Deere retro hat for 2 1963 Caterpillar tiller blade hats. I wear one to work and one to church.”

The New Orleans Hornets temporarily played games at the Chesapeake Arena after Hurricane Katrina. The strong fan support for Hornets game was partly why the league was convinced it would be a great market to move the Supersonics to. “Yes, it’s true, a league official said. “We like Oklahoma City because they love basketball. Also, there’s very little else to do. Around here for excitement, they drive to Pottawatomie county, get ice cream and try to drive back before it all melts.”

At the races

3 Fun Facts About the Los Angeles Clippers

The Los Angeles Clippers basketball club was founded in 1970. That was a crazy year. That same year, they staged the second Atlanta International Pop Festival, which had anywhere from 200,000 to 400,000 people in attendance. One fan said, “Or, if Trump was there, he’d say there was 5.7 million people.”

The Clippers franchise started out as the expansion Buffalo Braves. The Braves moved around a bit and landed in San Diego in 1978 where they were called the San Diego Clippers. They picked up again and headed north to LA in 1984. Like many expansion teams, they didn’t do real well for a long time, and only began really winning consistently when Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and others joined the team. “I didn’t do real well my first years either,” a Clippers fan said. “I was a virgin until I was 37, and that only changed because the lady who cuts my hair took pity on me.”

At home, the Clippers use Staples Center, as do the LA Lakers, LA Kings, and LA Sparks. A Staples Center spokesperson said, “It’s expensive to have all these teams here. But we save money where we can — for example, after every Kings game, we bust up the ice into cubes and use them for drinks in the private sky boxes.

At the races

3 Unbelievable Things You Should Know About the Early Days of the NHL

The National Hockey League was spawned from its predecessor, the National Hockey Association. See, there were four teams, but they couldn’t get along with Eddie Livingstone, owner of the Toronto Blueshirts, so they formed a whole new league and froze that guy out. A hockey historian explained: “It would be like if the Rolling Stones couldn’t fire Brian Jones, so they started a new group called the Rolling Rocks and left him out.”

In additon to the NHA/NHL, two other professional leagues were running in the early part of the 20th century. The Pacific Coast Hockey Association introduced many innovations, some of which are an integral part of the game today. They came with the blue line, penalty shots, playoffs and numbers on jerseys. Our hockey historian said, “There was a lot of innovation in the early years. Heck, they didn’t even have a penalty box. You had to stand in the corner and think about what you did.”

One of the teams in the Pacific Coast Hockey Association was the Vancouver Millionaires. Their home games were played at Denman Arena, the first rink in Canada with artificial ice. Their official song had these lyrics:

On the ice and in da club
We’re the best, ain’t no scubs
We’re the Millionaires, we run this game
We’re poppin bottles and makin’ it rain