September 6 – ABC

A Good Read

With school coming back into session for many little sippers out there (although not here in B.C., where it looks like we might have the makings of a long teacher’s strike), it might be time to snatch some good reading material. While I would never classify myself as an avid reader, there have been some books I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. Mrs. Sip would love to see me sit down more often with a book, but TV’s warm loving embrace is just too much to break. Here are my favourite books/series throughout life:

#5: Goosebumps Series by R.L. Stein

One of the only things I enjoyed about elementary school (save for gym, recess, and spelling tests… what can I say, I was born to write) was the monthly Scholastic book catalogue that came out, providing me an opportunity to grow my Goosebumps collection, which sits to this day in a drawer at Ma and Pa Sip’s home. I still fondly remember some of these stories, such as Attack of the Mutants, A Night in Terror Tower, and The Phantom of the Auditorium. The covers on these novels alone were enough to chill your blood and get you pumped for your next classroom quiet time. There were 62 releases in the original series and a TV show followed, but when it came to screen screams, I was more of an Are You Afraid of the Dark fan.

goosebumps report

#4: The Rebel League: World Hockey Association by Ed Willes

The World Hockey Association had a brief life, but it changed the landscape of professional hockey and in some circumstances, the entire sports world. Journalist Ed Willes takes the reader through the league’s tumultuous existence from conception to absorption by the NHL, right through a mess of teams going out of business or being relocated. The dichotomy of the league, with its highly-skilled players meshing with fight-filled contests, is just one aspect of a mesmerizing story. Willes captures all the sordid tales and behind-the-scenes dealings that made the WHA such a fascinating flash in the pan. Largely based on this book, I was able to rank the WHA #1 on my list of top defunct sports leagues. I only wish I had been able to experience some of the action in-person.

#3: Get Fuzzy Treasuries by Darby Conley

I never really got into comic books as a youngster, fancying my superheroes on the screen, as opposed to in my hands (save for some of the sexy female heroines). That said, I do prefer to look at brightly coloured pictures, rather than printed words, and that can come in the form of some lighter entertainment. My hands down favourite daily funny is Get Fuzzy, which focuses on the interactions of human Rob Wilco with his pets/roommates Bucky Katt and Satchel Pooch. Bucky is a little terror, who is constantly trying to run (scratch that, ruin) the household, while Satchel is a sweet and gentle pup, happy to have a chew toy and a quiet place to nap. Rob just gets stuck in the middle, just like your typical real world pet owner.

GF

#2: Uncle John’s Bathroom Readers by Bathroom Readers’ Institute

I really enjoy learning unknown tidbits about subjects I’m interested in and this series is perfect for exactly that. Thanks to these books, I’m an integral member of any trivia team I’m invited to join (aside from my wonderful personality!) and the lesser known facts my brain is able to absorb have garnered me a fair bit of free booze! The best thing about Bathroom Readers is that you can read one piece or a selection of articles… I guess it depends on how long you’ll be in the bathroom. I personally prefer to not have a book in my hands while I’m on the pot, but admittedly, that is what these releases were meant for. My favourites from the Uncle John library include TV, Movies, and Hockey.

#1: Have a Nice Day by Mick Foley

While my favourite books are sports-related, Mick Foley’s wrestling autobiography is a no-brainer to top this list. And I’m not alone in my fondness for this story. Books released by wrestlers exploded after the success of Mick Foley’s first attempt and the string of publications is going strong to this day. In Have a Nice Day: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks, Foley guides us through the earliest days of his life and career with a wit and warmth that makes it extremely hard to put the book down… even for a non-reader such as myself. I have yet to check out Foley’s other two non-fiction releases, but have heard good things about both and should really take the time to pick them up.

Super Saturday Shot Day: ABC

ABC Shot

  • 0.5 oz Amaretto
  • 0.5 oz Bailey’s Irish Crème
  • 0.5 oz Cognac
  • Garnish with Orange Wedge

Given my penchant for wrestling reads, I would also recommend autobiographies by Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Ric Flair, and Chris Jericho, as well as the book WrestleCrap: The Very Worst of Pro Wrestling. There are a number of others I would endorse, but it’s time to get back to the library and go silent!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
You layer the ingredients in A-B-C order and that allowed me to finally use the layering tool I received a few months back. It worked out really well and looks great, am I right!? The shot tasted fantastic, especially when the Irish Crème kicked in following the two liquors, which move a little quicker. Too bad I couldn’t think of a D-garnish to continue the ABC theme.

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May 31 – False Start

Legendary Leagues

Most leagues fail within their first year of operation. If they survive long enough to hand out their inaugural championship, then they usually face other elements of strife, such as low attendance, trouble landing a TV broadcasting deal, and teams folding or relocating. The waters are rough, but if a leagues treads long enough, it just may endure. Here are the top 5 defunct sports leagues and their intriguing stories:

#5: X Football League

Because the NFL just wasn’t fun enough, along came the XFL from World Wrestling Entertainment mogul Vince McMahon. Ironically, while most believe the ‘X’ stood for eXtreme, this is not actually the case and the ‘X’ was never defined. In partnership with NBC, the league only lasted one season. With a few rule changes that were meant to spice up pro football, the eight-team league was dogged by the stigma attached to professional wrestling and what many thought was an inferior quality of play. Ratings were initially strong, but dropped in half from week one to week two and continued to decline over the course of the year. The XFL fizzled out following the season-ending Million Dollar Game and closed up shop on May 10, 2001. Both McMahon and NBC reportedly lost $35 million each in the joint venture.

XFL

#4: SlamBall

A sport with trampolines and full body contact… sounds like a recipe for success to the Sip Advisor and the one time in my life I was mildly interested in the sport of basketball. When TNN (now Spike TV) was making strides to change its image from a country music station to a network geared towards male viewers, one of their early experiments was SlamBall. Unfortunately, the league only ran seasons in 2002, 2003 and 2008, but did hold an international tournament in 2012, in China. Created by Mason Gordon, SlamBall grew from six to eight teams for the 2003 season, but a disagreement between Gordon and Warner Bros. ended with the league being dissolved. The 2008 season returned to a six-team format and the winning coach was Samuel L. Jackson… er, I mean Coach (Ken) Carter.

#3: Roller Hockey International

The early 90’s were a wonderful time and part of that amazing period was the advent and popularity of rollerblades. So, along comes the RHI, hoping to capitalize on that fad. Games were even broadcast on ESPN2 during the early years, showing the potential popularity the sport could have harnessed. The high-scoring (RHI averaged 16.7 goals per game, compared to the NHL’s seven at the time) league played from 1993-97 and also in 1999. Played 4-on-4, a number of NHL alum also strapped on the blades, including Hall of Famer Bryan Trottier. Unfortunately, a planned Super Nintendo video game never materialized, although that fact probably saved me hours in front of the TV and instead, I was outside playing roller hockey! RHI folded operations for good in 2001, despite some of the best team names ever seen in sport.

RHI SNES

Sadly, it never came to be!

#2: United States Football League

Looking to compete with the NFL and offer fans an alternative to fill their growing football needs, the USFL may not have succeeded, but many of the innovations they brought to the game, as well as markets they used for franchises, would eventually be adopted by the NFL juggernaut. Backed by Donald Trump and others with deep pockets, the league produced a number of stars who also enjoyed success in the NFL, as well as two future wrestling World Champions in Lex Luger and Ron Simmons. The crushing blow to the USFL came when they filed an antitrust lawsuit against the NFL, claiming it had established a monopoly. Despite expecting a substantial windfall, the USFL was awarded $1 (that’s not a typo). Heavily in debt, the league ceased operations. The ESPN’s 30-for-30 documentary Who Killed the USFL? examines the league’s brief existence.

#1: World Hockey Association

Launching in 1972 with 12 teams, the WHA made an immediate big splash with the signing of NHL star Bobby Hull to a 10-year, $2.7 million contract. In all, 67 players jumped ship from the NHL to the WHA for the inaugural season. Sadly, the league was plagued with difficulties, including financial struggles, arena issues, teams relocating, and franchises folding. Four WHA franchises still exist in today’s NHL: the Edmonton Oilers, Winnipeg Jets (moved to Phoenix), Quebec Nordiques (moved to Colorado), and Hartford Whalers (moved to Carolina). The league’s legacy also lives on via European stars coming to North America, higher salaries, and a lower draft age. For an in-depth look at the WHA’s seven tumultuous seasons, check out Ed Willes book, The Rebel League: The Short and Unruly Life of the World Hockey Association.

Super Saturday Shot Day: False Start

False Start Shot

  • 0.4 oz Cider
  • 0.4 oz Bourbon
  • 0.4 oz Brandy
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Garnish with an Apple Slice

Honourable mentions include the American Basketball Association, which was loosely spoofed in the Will Ferrell film Semi-Pro, and the Arena Football League, which cancelled their 2009 season, but has since been resurrected under new ownership. Which defunct sports league do you miss?

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
This shooter went down very easy and was fun thanks to the bubbles of the Cider. The Bourbon and Brandy flavours do play a role, but not too aggressively. That makes for a couple good Cider recipes for me in the last little while and I might be experiencing a change of heart as far as the beverage goes!