St. Valentine’s Day: A chance to show your significant other exactly how much you love and appreciate her, with chocolate, jewelry and pink things (like The Badger Herald masthead today … yech) typically being the medium of choice to convey such a message.However, that’s not the way I’m looking to celebrate this Valentine’s Day (Sorry, babe, no shinies this year). No, instead of appreciating what we have, it’s time to look for something better, an upgrade if you will. So now I will don my cupid wings (but no diaper), grab my bow and arrows and set out to play matchmaker with the sporting world’s finest.First on the list would be the terminally crabby owner of the New York Yankees, George Steinbrenner, who is as controlling an owner as you will ever find in this world. The cantankerous, impulse-spending cretin certainly will not like me and my arrows telling him who he is in love with, which is (drum roll, please) … former Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott. Sure, she is no longer living, but that won’t stop her from finding ways to insult whoever Georgie-boy doesn’t. The pro-Hitler chain smoker, Schott would be the perfect match for Steinbrenner, especially since he couldn’t get rid of her (you can’t divorce a dead person, or so I hear), which was a real problem for George in the past as he has changed managers 20 times during his tenure as owner.Steinbrenner’s decision making is over second-guess, much like my next victim.Boxing chump Mike Tyson has been a little misguided (understatement of the year candidate) over the past few years and probably could use a little companionship to stabilize his career, which has fallen further than Vanilla Ice’s. We’ll match Iron Mike up with someone who can match his instability mood-swing for mood-swing: former Olympic figure skater and current celebrity boxing punching bag Tonya Harding. Even though Mike would have trouble beating a rug at this point, his self-esteem would rise if matched with Harding, who has often been accused of sabotaging her own career to avoid failure. Tyson wins, Harding loses, everybody’s happy. Though Tyson would have to wear knee braces and kneepads 24-7, I’m guessing that won’t be a problem for a guy with tattoos on his face.As much as a facial tattoo can help a guy stick out in a crowd, Shaquille O’Neal is a pretty recognizable figure too. As one of the only landmarks that can be seen from the surface of the moon at 7-foot-2, 330 pounds — plus, he is one of the most beloved athletes in the world, but has a reputation for being lazy. So, in hopes that some work ethic rubs off we’ll pair him up with someone who always gives it her all: former Olympian pixie Mary Lou Retton, who tops out at 4-foot-9, 95 pounds. Could they have any more in common? Both have gold medals from the summer Olympics, both have brown eyes and Retton reportedly can’t shoot free throws, either.Staying with Oympians, softball great Jennie Finch has been seeing mediocre MLB pitcher Casey Daigle way too long. One of the greatest pitchers in the history of her sport needs to be matched with someone having a comparable resume. Phil Mickelson is that man, as he is unquestionably the “pitcher” (man with a pitching wedge) on the PGA tour. Plus, he would then assume his rightful position in second-place to Tiger Woods, for having the best trophy wife.When it comes to trophies, few women have accumulated more than Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summit. Summit is quite the intimidating figure, often wearing all black and screaming like a raving, enraged banshee at games. In short, she has a definite masculine edge to her. To offset the balance, we’ll bring in Illinois head man Bruce Weber, who loves to run (as oppose to fight down low), often wears bright orange and tends to “yell” and talk in a voice of much higher timbre than your average man. Put them together and you have the hormonal balance of your average couple.With only one arrow left, we’ll put together a duo that together could make large strides to repair the national debt: Wayne Gretzky’s current wife, Janet Jones, and Pete Rose.These two are the reason Las Vegas makes so much money. Jones allegedly bet $5,000 on the coin toss of the Super Bowl (the coin toss!), and over $100,000 total in a major hockey gambling ring. Rose only threw away his immortality, by betting thousands, possibly millions on major-league baseball, thus earning himself a lifetime ban from the Hall of Fame. These two would have a blast together, betting on everything from the winner of the Little League World Series to how old the star pitcher actually is for the champion team.Wow, what a superb Valentine’s Day it would be if those were our relationship role models. Pink would no longer be the color of the holiday (yes!), since instead we’d probably have to go with black and blue.
Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on October 11, 2015 at 8:46 pm Contact Matt: firstname.lastname@example.org Melissa Piacentini stands a few steps in front of the double doors that lead into the Syracuse locker room. She turns, thoughtfully, and points to the set of benches to her left just over her shoulder.“I still remember,” she said. “It was this bench right over here against Lindenwood.”Syracuse’s all-time leading scorer is talking about the only time she was ever benched.Piacentini wasn’t playing up to her abilities, and Syracuse head coach Paul Flanagan pulled her out and didn’t put her back in. It happened right before Christmas break during her freshman year. Piacentini had a month to mull things over.“It made me sit back and think about my mistakes and think about how I had been performing back then,” Piacentini said. “It really made me mentally focused and come back ready to be stronger.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textPiacentini called it the “best coaching decision” Flanagan had ever made for her. The move came at the perfect time and she was forced to view things through a different lens. Four years later, one of the most decorated players in Syracuse ice hockey history is gearing up for her final ride. Last season, Syracuse lost in the College Hockey America conference finals. With one last chance, Piacentini is hoping to take care of last season’s unfinished business. “Honestly I can’t say enough good things about her,” Flanagan said. “I’m already dreading losing a player like her to graduation.”Despite standing just 5-foot-2 on the ice, Piacentini can’t be missed. She’s a scrappy, physical player, and has already notched three goals and an assist in two games this season. Goalkeeper Jenn Gilligan played her first season at Syracuse in 2014 after transferring from New Hampshire. She went head-to-head against Piacentini twice, and remembers the shifty, speedy player with a nose for the puck.“Every single time there was a loose puck in front of the net, I just remember her being right there,” she said.In the third period of Syracuse’s season opener against Clarkson on Oct. 6, Piacentini corralled a loose puck off a deflection on the left side of the net and wrapped around to the right side, flicking the puck into the goal.She’s made a living of using her small size to dig out pucks around the net in her time at Syracuse.Gilligan joked that even during practice, Piacentini gets in her grill, acting as a “pot stirrer” in front of the net. After experiencing it from both sides, Gilligan is content just watching. “Every single time I’m in the net against Tini, I just shake my head because I’m like, ‘Thank goodness I don’t have deal with this again against her,’” Gilligan said. Yet for all the fire Piacentini brings to the ice, she also brings to it a sense of calm. In her four years, Flanagan said that Piacentini’s greatest development has been in the cerebral part of her game.From the moment she walked onto the ice as a freshman, Flanagan said, her fundamentals have always been ahead of the curve. Her progression has been a matter of polishing the little things and refining the mental parts of her game. “I think I’ve grown as a person,” Piacentini said. “Just being in the locker room they kind of instill those different life lessons in you and the mental toughness aspect of it all. I think over the years, I’ve just grown to become more mentally strong in terms of staying focused.”As a freshman, Piacentini found herself looking on from afar with four weeks to think things through. Now, she’s better adept at reading and handling situations and recognizing her own mistakes. “Her hockey knowledge just seems to calm everybody down on the team,” Gilligan said. “When she’s out there, we don’t panic as much as maybe we necessarily should.”Against Clarkson, Piacentini skated out for her final home opener. But the emotions were kept in check, and the focus was solely on winning the first CHA conference title and proving Syracuse could compete against anyone. And this time, Piacentini wasn’t on the bench. “I think Tini’s just going to do Tini,” Gilligan said. “…She’s just going to go after it and get done what she needs to get done and I think everybody else will follow after that.” Comments