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!

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April 12 – Drunken Bunny

Bunny Style

It’s the season of the bunny… which means copious amounts of sex, right? Hmmm, apparently it just means lots of chocolate, jelly beans and other candy… I’ll take it! Here are the top five hippity hoppities (a colloquial term for rabbits):

#5: Br’er Rabbit – Song of the South

Ol’ Br’er Rabbit is always getting himself into trouble, which means the Sip Advisor has to bail him out and end up plummeting into the Splash Mountain briar patch, resulting in getting soaked. You know, sometimes I want to see Br’er Bear and Br’er Fox get their hands on the damn rabbit and tear him limb from limb. Together, we could celebrate with a jug of moonshine, some rabbit stew, and a barbecue cookout with all the trimmings. We could even watch Song of the South, providing we can find a copy of the banned film.

briarpatch

Why does Br’er Rabbit look happy to be thrown off a cliff into a briar patch!?

#4: Roger Rabbit – Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

You have to give a ton of respect to anyone (and I mean ANYONE) who can land the vivacious Jessica Rabbit. Sure, all Roger wants to do is play pattycake with her and that’s why I invented a sexual maneuver with the same moniker. Back to Double-R, I wonder if they’ll ever get around to doing the long-rumoured sequel to Who Framed Roger Rabbit? It’s taken more than two decades to sort things out, but producers don’t seem any closer to working on the prequel project that would apparently see Roger in his earlier days.

#3: Greg – Greg the Bunny

This adorable Fabricated-American isn’t just cute and cuddly… he’s naïve and innocent to boot. By chance, Greg joined the cast of Sweetknuckle Junction (inadvertently replacing his idol Rochester Rabbit), a children’s show akin to Sesame Street. The difference being that off-screen, his fellow puppets Warren the Ape, Count Blah, and others have a bad side that includes sex, drugs, and alcohol – sounds like fun, don’t it! Greg has to work hard to keep up with his cast mates, all while living the life of a second-class citizen among all the humanoids.

gregbunny

A meal with Gilbert Gottfried… Fabricated-Americans get all the lucky breaks!

#2: Babs and Buster Bunny – Tiny Toon Adventures

Babs and Buster, no relation, are a mischievous duo that head the crop of Acme Looniversity students and are looking to be the next generation of cartoon stars, following in the footsteps of the fabulous Looney Tunes gang. With school principal Bugs Bunny acting as their mentor, the two are the heir apparent to the Looney Tunes throne. Buster is Bugs’ intelligent, calculating side, while Babs represents Bugs’ manic, wild side. The couple comes together for a perfect mixture of mayhem. And I can’t be the only one who found Babs kind of attractive with her spunky attitude and sweetness. I mean, at least if you’re into animated femme fatales.

#1: Bugs Bunny – Looney Tunes

There’s no other way to say it: Bugs Bunny is an icon! His feuds with Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd, Yosemite Sam, and so many others are legendary. The great thing about Bugs is that he’s not impervious to his own battles and doesn’t always end up on the winning side. Surprisingly, the creators of the character didn’t think it would be the smash Bugs ended up being. Bugs has entertained his way to being a symbol for the entire Warner Bros. company (well, him and that damn singing frog!) and is still used in numerous media today.

Super Saturday Shot Day: Drunken Bunny

Drunken Bunny Shot

  • 0.5 oz Orange Rum
  • 0.5 oz Blue Curacao
  • 0.5 oz Melon Liqueur
  • Top with Whip Cream
  • Garnish with Mini Eggs Bits

I have to give out some kudos to some bunnies that are best associated with company logos and mascots. This would include the Playboy Bunny (logo or girls, they’re all good), the Cadbury Bunny (I love me some crème and mini eggs), and the Energizer Bunny (we all wish we had its stamina). Which rabbit would you have liked to see shoehorned into this list? Happy Easter y’all!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
This is actually a cocktail recipe that I’ve adapted into a shooter, which I seem to have to do a lot around here! The liquid is delicious, although I had to combine White Rum and Grand Marnier to achieve the desired Orange Rum. The Mini Eggs Bits at the end of the drink were a very nice touch and were easy to crush up for the shooter.