Archive for the ‘Fanatico Guides’ Category

The Masters - Preview Day 2On Thursday, April 11th, the first major championship of the 2013 golf season will begin, as the Masters will be played from the world famous Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia.

Many of golf’s memorable moments have taken place inside the hallowed grounds of Augusta National, and those who are fortunate enough to win the Masters have their place permanently etched into the fabric of the game. No matter what they do or don’t do from that moment on, they will always be known as a Masters champion.

There are so many factors that make up what’s special about the Masters, and I’ve put some of them together in the Fanatico A-Z Guide To The Masters.

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UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) WelOn Saturday, March 16th, Georges St-Pierre, the UFC’s welterweight champion, will fight Nick Diaz at the Bell Centre in Montreal as the main event of UFC 158. It will be the 26th professional fight of his career, and his eighth straight title defense. In a sport where even the best are only ever a punch away from being knocked out, St-Pierre has emerged as dominant of a force as can be imagined. Comparisons to the great Anderson Silva are not uncommon, and while the UFC’s current middleweight champion boasts an undefeated record – sixteen straight wins – with the promotion, his weight class doesn’t have the same class of depth as St-Pierre’s.

Watching St-Pierre fight is something special. Despite his tactician-first, entertainer-second approach in The Octagon, his status among fans is reminiscent of the godded up pugilists from the past that inspire even the most cynical of grandpas to talk glowingly. He possesses just enough vulnerability to make his dominance endearing, and perhaps above all else, he wins. He almost always wins.

St-Pierre’s appeal goes beyond his dominant victories. He’s a unique athlete, a unique person, whose humility in both victory and defeat has represented his violent sport well and led to his promotion finding an enormous market for their product in Canada. He isn’t easily encompassed or grasped by a quick biography or a feature interview, and so it’s my pleasure to present the A-Zs of GSP.

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Andre Dawson Tim RainesIt happened about a week ago. I was walking to the subway after work when I spotted a former co-worker coming toward me on the sidewalk. I was friendly with this person when we worked together. We went out for drinks a couple of times. We liked/hated the same people around the office. We shared common stories about our past. We got along well. So, of course, upon seeing this person walking in my general direction, I crossed the street at the first opportunity presented to me in order to avoid any and all contact.

Of all the luxuries afforded professional athletes, the time-honored tradition of dodging former co-workers is rendered almost impossible by the close-knit world of highly competitive sports. Pro sports leagues are small ponds full of the most elite fish in the world, most of whom have grown up together from the time that they were guppies, participating in the same activities designed for elite performers. By the time they reach their peak, their pool has been decided with only the smallest portion of annual restocking and retirement.

Athletes are bound to come across former teammates from time to time and be expected to compete against them. This, much like our own exchanges with those to whom we were once forced to associate, can be difficult. Unfortunately for professional athletes, there aren’t any streets to cross or stores to duck into as a means of avoiding a former colleague on their respective fields of play. Instead, awkward confrontations are inevitable.

Here are a number of simple steps athletes can take to keep awkwardness at a minimum, and spin a potentially negative situation into a positive outcome.

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On Friday of last week, the New York Rangers of the National Hockey League published a helpful guide on the team’s official blog, designed to assist members of the fairer sex in following the Blue Shirts. Unfortunately, the useful manual was purged from the website after an abundance of negative feedback was expressed through social media. A cached version is still available.

Due to the helpful nature of the guide and its accessibility to the female demographic, one can safely assume that those taking offense could only possibly be upset because the set of instructions wasn’t extensive enough. I understand these concerns. With the NHL lockout finally ending, the Super Bowl scheduled for this coming weekend, the NBA in the throes of its regular season schedule, and pitchers and catchers less than three weeks away from reporting to Spring Training, it seems foolish to focus on one team when there are a multitude reasons for girls to expand their knowledge beyond celebrity gossip, folding sheets perfectly and recipe creation.

Ladies, don’t you worry your pretty little heads. Let a man do the heavy lifting for you on this one. These rules apply to all women, whether you’ve found a man to take care of you or you’re still looking.

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For eleven months of the year, Melbourne Park is open to anyone. In January, though, the 28 Plexicushion courts that make up this monstrous complex are off limits to the ticketless public. There’s a tournament to be played. From what I’ve been told, Melbourne Park is a wonderful place, combining a raucous party atmosphere with high-level tennis and sweltering heat.

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to explore the grounds in person this year. My plan to stowaway in a cargo freighter destined for the Pacific fell through. The folks at the High Commission in Sydney weren’t thrilled with the idea – something about ‘legality’ and ‘diphtheria.’ Ah well. I would’ve missed not going to sleep anyways. The lure of the Australian Open, for me at least, is its ability to destroy one’s life thanks to a schedule that calls on viewers on the east coast to be up from roughly 8:30pm to 7:00am. Try explaining that to your boss/love interest/doctor.

It’s a tough sell, but as I learned last year, the first Grand Slam tournament of the year has an appeal that isn’t easy to overcome. Melbourne 2012 saw Novak Djokovic vanquish Rafael Nadal in a five set marathon, and we witnessed Victoria Azarenka win her first major, quieting complaints regarding her need to feign death after every shot. Grunting: a case for the mute button.

In addition to the guttural sounds of athletes and the crowning of champions, this is what you’ll hear and see over the next fortnight.

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