April 13, 2010

Stadium Dogs and Snakes on the Ice?

Yesterday, the Minnesota Twins opened their new downtown stadium by beating the visiting Boston Red Sox by a score of 5-2.  Foreshadowed by my earlier post this week, the reception for the new digs was unsurprisingly positive from both media and fans: "state-of-the-art," "an intimate palace," "stunning," "a fantastic place,""top of the line,"and - interestingly given the product placement below - "a bull's eye."

While I was taking in the game via ESPN's online video feed, I couldn't help but take note of a very interesting viral placement, as noted by SportsByBrooks, in the stadium:

That's none other than Target mascot Bullseye sitting in a premium seat ($275) behind home plate.  The best news about having a dog it in a $275 seat?  Apparently, he lasted for just the first half-inning.  At this point, it should go without saying that Target is the title sponsor of the new stadium - adding the baseball field to their sponsorship stable, which includes downtown-Minneapolis' Target Center.

To be fair, there is a lot more going on at Target Field than dogs perched in the stands.  The following video piece from a local television station does a nice job reporting on the many historical elements of the park - especially those cultivated by Twins curator Clyde Doepner.  The collection on display at the stadium is first class.

As for the other animal development in the sports world this week, I am making specific reference to a development surrounding the NHL's Phoenix Coyotes.  No, there are no Coyotes on the loose in Glendale, Arizona. Follow the jump to see what exactly I'm talking about...

Instead, Coyotes diehards (yes, there are some) are looking for ways to energize the home crowd as Phoenix returns to the playoffs for the first time since 2002.  And while there is cause for optimism with the team's most successful regular season under their belt, the Coyotes face the 12-time Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings knowing that their franchise has never advanced past the first round of the playoffs.

Some of these Coyotes diehards have become even further agitated knowing that transplanted Red Wings fans will most likely use the Jobing.com Arena for one of Detroit's most hallowed playoff rituals: throwing an octopus onto the ice.  This bizarre ritual began in 1952, when the eight legs of the octopus were equivalent to the number of victories needed to win the Stanley Cup playoffs.  And, even though the NHL has expanded the post-season tournament in recent years (teams must now win 16 games to clinch the cup), the tradition persists to this day.

As a result, one such fan - the operator of the Coyotes' blog Five for Howling - came up with a brilliant idea to counter the octopi tradition: throw snakes onto the ice.  Not real snakes, mind you, but plastic snakes.  But, joyless as they are, the NHL and the team went ahead and kiboshed this brilliant idea by citing a rule created after Florida Panthers fans deluged the team's ice with plastic rats in the 1996 playoffs.

The plastic rats were a huge hit in Florida in 1996.

Still, this hasn't stopped the Internet momentum of the "Throw the Snake" movement, as it has blown up on Twitter (#ThrowTheSnake), hockey blogs, and even clever Internet t-shirt merchandisers.  That's right, you can now buy your very own "Throw The Snake" t-shirt.

With more and more people jumping on board to support the movement, I join them in hoping that the plastic snakes fly on Wednesday night when the first round playoff series commences.  Because if you can't have snakes on a plane, aren't snakes on the ice the next best thing?

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