Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Wish I Were Going To Green Bay!

Weather forecasters are saying that it could reach -13 on Sunday in Green Bay. Wasn’t that the temperature during the “Ice Bowl” when the Packers beat the Dallas Cowboys 21-17 in the 1967 N.F.L. Championship Game? There’s no snow in the forecast for Sunday, so they won’t be able to replicate what happened 41 years ago. I’m wondering if they’ll be having any specials on ice cream like the one pictured above that the Calgary Hitmen are offering?

Still, I would love to be able to go to the great Lambeau Field, even though I expect the Giants to lose this one by a pretty good margin. There is a side of me - which I know I am kidding myself - by hoping that this could turn out to be a legendary game between two storied franchises. That would truly turn this Giants’ run into something magical. Although I expect Eli Manning to look more like Scott Brunner than Phil Simms this week. One thing is certain, though, and that is that the game is being held at the perfect setting and I wish I was going.

So why do I have such a strong desire to travel to Green Bay, Wisconsin? I’ve always been a Rangers, Giants, Yankees, and Knicks fan (in no particular order), but I also have a favorite team in each sport that I root for when my guys are no longer in contention. Those would be the Green Bay Packers, St. Louis Cardinals (not as much anymore, but big-time when “Big Mac” was there), Toronto Maple Leafs (wish I was alive for Ted"Teeder”Kennedy), and the L.A. Lakers (Celtics used to beat the Knicks so I would pull for the Lakers). Anyway, there are two places that I’ve always wanted to see a game, one being Lambeau Field and the other being the Maple Leaf Gardens.

I got inside the Toronto Maple Leaf Gardens until a custodian told me they were “closed.” Naturally, this was in 2002, so yes, they were indeed closed. I did get to see the Leafs beat the Nashville Predators at the nearby Air Canada Center, which is a great arena but not as special as the Maple Leaf Gardens. When the doors were open at the Gardens you could see the rink from outside on Carlton Street. This is much different from Madison Square Garden where the rink is actually on the fifth floor of the building. Maple Leaf Gardens still stands and there is a ton of controversy in the picturesque city of Toronto over what to do with the old arena. Point being, that unless I am able to procure the use of a time machine, I won’t ever get to see the Leafs play the Rangers inside the Maple Leaf Gardens.

But there is a chance with Green Bay! The stadium used to be called City Stadium until 1965, when it was renamed after the Packers’ founder, former coach, and former player, Curly Lambeau. Oddly enough, Vince Lombardi wasn’t too thrilled about this, as he had hopes of the stadium being named after him one day. Nice to be humble, eh?

I haven't been to all of the sports landmarks, but most of the ones I've wanted to go to. I've been to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, which is a fantastic place and in a real nice city; I’ve been to the Baseball Hall of Fame, which has great history, but there’s about as much to do in Cooperstown as there is in Hartford, meaning zilcho! Yankee Stadium: many, many times. Really, there aren’t many sports arenas or stadiums that I have a real desire to go to except one…

The Giants are in Green Bay this Sunday and boy do I wish I was going!


Rob Adams said...

Lombardi got a trophy named after him that gets mentioned almost as much as Lord Stanley's, so I guess things worked out OK.

True, there's no nightlife (or much of any life) in Cooperstown, but I love it. It's small town USA (though I was sad to see the golden arches finally make their way there), and I make a day of it walking up and down Main Street, through all of the shops.

I can still remember when lunch in Cooperstown meant sitting at the counter in the JJ Newbury's (or some Woolworth's-type store) near the Hall of Fame. I think it's the "Cooperstown General Store" now, or something like that.

MarkSmallwoodReturns said...

Doesn't Coach John Hogan live in Cooperstown now with his bus driving girlfriend? Great place to raise a family for Coach Hogan, who should be in the Greenwich High School Hall of Fame someday.

Sean G. Kilkelly said...

A bus ride to Green Bay with Hogie would be a long, albeit adventurous one. I've also heard that Hogie may run for mayor of Cooperstown. Anyway, where have you been Coach Smallwood?

Rob Adams said...

OK, this is too freakin' funny.

I'll see Coach Hogie Tuesday night when Greenwich hosts Wilton. My old friend Mark Rosen could have been my partner for this one, but he seems to have disappeared into the Florida sun...