Monday, December 13, 2010

Good Thing I Didn't Buy That Ticket To Minnesota

At the beginning of every NFL season I take a look at the schedule to see what trips I might be interested in taking around the country. Because the Giants only visit teams in the AFC once every eight years, those, clearly, are at a premium. Look no further than last season's trip to Kansas City, this season's trip to Indianapolis or next year's planned jaunt to New England for evidence of that. NFC trips I still like to make, but there is far less urgency, and it might be for that reason that I opted not to go to Minnesota this season for the Giants' Week 14 showdown with the Vikings.

Given that I have a good friend at the University of Minnesota and I have a soft spot for the upper midwest, it was certainly a consideration, but boy am I lucky I opted to pass on that trip this year. For those of you who haven't seen, a blizzard hammered Minneapolis this weekend, which despite the Giants' best efforts to beat the snow to the punch -- they left 3.5 hours earlier than scheduled -- the weather was so bad New York was actually diverted to Kansas City for the night. There were serious concerns Saturday night over the fairness of holding a noon CT game Sunday afternoon that would require the Giants to leave Kansas City at 7 a.m. for a game five hours later, and while the Vikings pushed for the game to stay on schedule -- with the inherent competitive advantage, who could blame them -- the logistical nightmare of mobilizing an entire football team at such short notice finally pushed the NFL to postpone the game until tonight, still to be played at the Metrodome.

At this point, with Monday and Tuesday off from work at ticket prices dropping precipitously in Minneapolis due to the scheduling change, I once again began looking up plane flights, and very nearly purchased one that, because it was cheap, was nonrefundable.

Good thing I chose to wait a few hours. While most of us were sleeping, God intervened.

Yeah, that's right. The inflatable roof of the Metrodome collapsed and tore open in the middle of the night, pouring tons of snow on the field and, clearly, making the building unusable for the forseeable future.

With the structural challenge of holding a game in Minnesota the NFL was left to scramble for an alternative venue, with places such as the University of Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium and New Orleans' Superdome discussed, before the NFL finally decided to truck their entire operation to Detroit and hold the game at Ford Field. Ironically, it will be the first Monday Night Football game at the home of the Detroit Lions, who will not be playing.

While this is, undoubtedly a bizarre situation, it is not without some precedent, particularly for the New York Giants. Famously, a Giants-Saints game was relocated to Giants Stadium in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina had decimated the Superdome and the Saints were left entirely in limbo for the course of a season. Less well-remembered is a Chargers-Dolphins game that was shifted to Tempe, Ariz., due to wild fires in the San Diego area in 2003.

This may be one of the more bizarre and unexpected game relocations in recent memory, however, and with a crowd of nebulous rooting interests awaiting -- tickets were free to the Detroit public and disappeared in 90 minutes -- no one is quite sure what to expect. The Vikings, however, may be disappointed with a lack of anticipated fan support. The only Viking who may be happy is Brett Favre, who just may get to keep his vaunted streak alive with the delay.

And the rest of the world very much is disappointed with that possibility.

In other news, before I sign off, something bizarre happened in hockey that I'm sure none of you are aware of -- nor can you find in today's excellent Blackhawks-Avalanche preview -- that is pretty wild. In a showdown between Minnesota and Anaheim, the Wild's Mikko Koivu stole the Ducks' Bobby Ryan's stick right out of his hands after losing his own. And the result? Bobby Ryan picked up Koivu's stick and scored a goal. Of course. The craziest part? Koivu's stick curved in the wrong direction for the right-handed Ryan. Check it out for yourself.

You may have to watch it a few times to grasp the whole exchange, but boy is it bizarre. If nothing else, I'm convinced that karma, at least in hockey, exists.

As for whether or not it exists in football, well, we might find out tonight in Detroit, though really, aside from how bizarre the situation is, I'm not really sure of anything with this game -- least of all whom might be favored by that karma. All I can do is watch.

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