Friday, August 29, 2008

Around the Horn

Chad Johnson has just taken the cake and we all must bow to him...He has reportedly legally changed his surname to 'Ocho Cinco'
This may not be "He Hate Me" but it is close. Even Manny being Manny thinks this is over the top.
From (There was a basketball player in the 80’s - World B. Free was an NBA player in the 1970s and 80s who changed his name from Lloyd Bernard Free in 1980. It’s long been considered the benchmark for novelty names.)...until now.

Kicker Jay Feely was cut by the Kansas City Chiefs, the after signing a one-year deal.
Almost as bad as the time that Rob Ducey was essentially traded for himself...not a proud moment for either guy.

When the news came out about Russia and Georgia how many people thought that it was the first out of conference game for the Bulldogs vs the New Red Army?

Michael Phelps had better sign up fast and get in the World Series of Poker if he hopes to keep his streak of SI covers intact. I don’t think that appearances on the VMA’s and SNL are enough to do it.

Michael Strahan decided to stay retired.
$8M to play and get hit and banged up every week or $2M to sit at Fox in a fancy chair, even with his divorce settlement I think he made a smart choice.

Shawne Merriman has decided to play this year with a tear in both his posterior cruciate ligament and lateral collateral ligament.
Is this a case of being: A Warrior? A Great Teammate? Loyal? OR Stupid, Selfish, or just plain not bright? Shut it down and get the surgery.

The LPGA is adopting a policy that players must be able to speak conversational English- at first glance this is just wrong and unjust.
On second glance it comes down to $$$ English = no schmoozing of sponsors = no sponsors = no tournament= NO TOUR

Which event was more choreographed The Opening and Closing Ceremony at the 2008 Beijing Olympics or Barak Obama’s acceptance speech at Mile High Stadium in Denver last night?

In a report by La Presse Friday, the Montreal Canadiens plan to retire jersey No. 33 of goaltender Patrick Roy in November.
I just hope that his acceptance speech in front of the crowd goes better then the last speech that he had as a Canadien which was one-on-one with then president of the team Ronald Corey during a game which ended with him in Colorado (...stupid Mario Trembley).

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Foul or Fair?

The Youth Baseball League of New Haven, Conn., has banned a 9-year-old from pitching, banned him because he throws too hard and too accurately.
Isn’t that the idea, throw hard and accurately? How do kids learn from this? How do the others get better?
The parents claim to be protecting their kids from being hurt. Fact is young Jericho Scott hasn’t hit anybody. Sounds like they are more concerned about protecting the kids from striking out not a ball between the numbers.
I used to play against a kid who had a beard and he was 13, I am not talking scruff I am talking a full out beard and he had a fireball for an arm, only difference was he wasn’t as accurate and I don’t recall anyone whining then.
And it goes both ways too. It is like when they put a kid on a pitch count in Little League games, I used to play ball 1on1 with a tennis ball half a day every day in the summer playing as my favorite team, switch hitting with the current lineups and then organized ball at least twice a week during the week, and occasionally just going out for a game of catch or pop 500...I don’t recall any pitch counts then.
Over protective parents are just hurting these young talented kids who are just looking to have fun and learn to play and get better.
No wonder why MLB pitchers gt hurt so often, they have been babied since the age of 9.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Flame Has Been Extinguished

The Olympics are over and surprisingly I am a little upset with that. I liked having the option of turning on the TV at any hour, any day and getting to see a sporting event that was not only some what interesting but occasionally compelling. I don’t know why it was compelling, there is no reason for it, I wouldn’t choose to watch fencing or water polo at any other time, but for 2 weeks I did, and enjoyed it as well. I guess I just gave into the Olympic spirit for 2 weeks and just enjoyed.
I am resigned to the fact that yes I am sure either within weeks, months or even years that there will be some sort of drug controversy or form of performance enhancing scandal and that yes the Chinese gymnasts were in fact not 16 nor even 14 and maybe not even double digits at all but that is OK.
There were a record number of world records broken, I believe in the neighborhood of 43. The pool was “juiced” the track was “juiced” the air didn’t seem to be as much of a factor as first thought.
There was a little bit of everything and there was a little bit for everybody, Triumph of a favorite winning the gold as everyone predicted like with USA’s Beach Volleyball and Basketball, the heartbreak of the favorite placing 8th like with Adam Van Koeverden. The tears of joy from a long shot getting on the podium like with former Russian-now German Oksana Chusovitina at age 33 (twice the age of some competitors and possibly 3 times the age of some of the Chinese gymnasts) who moved to Germany so her son could receive the health care he required. There was also the horrible sportsmanship of the athlete who took off his bronze and threw it to the mat claiming he was not there for 3rd place, or the Cuban who pushed a referee and snap-kicked a judge in the head after he was disqualified from a match-now under a lifetime ban.
After the terrible attack and early and murder of US Men’s Volleyball coach’s in-law the games went on without a hitch or reported incidents.
It is too bad that few will care about diving, table tennis speed walking and badminton for another 4 years but when it is London’s turn in 2012 lets hope for more of what we just got. The bar has been set high, but the athletes are probably high too so i guess it is fitting.
All I know is I enjoyed it and hopefully everyone else did as well.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Around the Horn

Firstly, Congratulations to Phil Dalhauser and Todd Rogers on their 3 Set Gold Medal win last night 23-21, 17-21, 15-4. in the men’s beach final. It was a great match and I was glad I was able to stay up for the duration. The 3rd set was taken over by the best player in the world, Dalhauser who made the Great Wall of China pale in comparison to his giant wing span . He was blocking everything in sight as the US team dominated the Brazilians to claim gold. It was hot, humid and sunny for the match, a far cry from what Kerri Walsh and Misty May had to play through the day before.
Now the Beach is closed in Beijing.

Swedish wrestler Ara Abrahamian threw his bronze medal to the mat, and walked off the podium.
What a child, everyone knows that a bronze is the second best medal. If it was a silver I would understand.
Gold= Win
Bronze= At least you get something
Maybe he just had to put his medal down because his soup was ready (Huh Mr. Sundin??)

So they are canceling Woman's Softball from the Olympics because the US is too good?
Interesting, if that were true would Japan not just upset them, Explain to me that logic.

U.S. 400m relay teams drop their batons and will miss the finals
Someone must have said " is that a syringe coming behind you?" and they panicked and it dropped (allegedly)

Water Polo is impressive in the fact that they never touch the bottom of the pool during a match.
What is even more impressive is that it is the closest thing to a death sport in the Olympics... it would probably be the closest thing to MMA at the games. Water Cube or cage...Think I’ll take the cage...what happens under the water stays under the water

I just saw BMX as a sport being demonstrated in the Olympics
The is the Olympics not the X games, get out of Beijing and go back to Cleveland.

Jose Calderon has a ‘strained adductor’ not good news for the Raptors and their point guard
We here in Ottawa know all too well that a strained adductor can prove to be more troublesome then the actual injury itself...Dominic Hasek, I am looking in your direction.

IOC president Jacques Rogge made some comments regarding Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt for showing a lack of respect to other competitors
This guy is head of the IOC - not the most credible organization in the world, clean up your judging (actual event judging and not your judgemental high and mighty judging first) Just remember about people living in glass houses.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Dream In Gold

Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh managed to do a couple of the more difficult things in sports last night. Misty and "6 Feet of Sunshine" didn’t need any sunshine as they played in a driving rainstorm that perhaps helped the Chinese even the playing field a bit. Not only did they go into Beijing as the favourites (not ranked #1 which makes no sense but whatever) to win gold in Beach Volleyball but that is what they actually did! Not always easy to live up to lofty expectations. They not only accomplished that but they did it without loosing a single set and have pushed thier record to 108 matches since their last loss and 14th straight at the Olympics. That is over a year of competition both domestic on the AVP Tour and Internationally and covers this and the Athens Olympics. They also are the first team to ever win back to back gold at the Olympics.

With the 21-18, 21-18 win the duo have cemented them selves as the greatest female team ever on the beach and have made a strong case as the greatest team ever - male or female. For Walsh, the win marks her 100th career victory, becoming the youngest and fastest to ever reach the 100 wins. Misty has 103 wins. They are the only 2 women in an elite group that includes beach volleyball legends Karch Kiraly, Sinjin Smith, Randy Stoklos and Kent Steffes.

The only troublesome thing now is that both May and Walsh are looking to start families very soon and will most likely take 2009 off to have babies. Hopefully this isn’t the end of this dominating pair and they have at least 1 more Olympics left in them and a few AVP seasons left.
As Misty joked following the match maybe they can both start the next great pressure for any yet to be created babies. But wouldn’t that be something?!

Like Misty says; individually they are good, together they are GOLDEN!

I am a huge volleyball fan and love to watch the game even if TSN and Sportsnet think that fat guys playing poker, dog shows and spelling bees are more compelling and offer higher ratings. If that is true then that is just wrong.
You know that I will be rooting for "The Thin Beast" Phil Dalhauser and "The Professor" Todd Rogers to grab the men’s gold tonight but it is not as sure a thing as May Walsh I am afraid, should prove to be a good match.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Positively Beaming

The US Golden girl is finally golden. Shawn Johnson has won gold on the beam. Not the gold that she may have wanted but a gold none the less. For a while it looked like the projected superstar for the US Gymnastics Team may have had to settle for only silver as she continued to fall just short of gold in every event. I started to really feel for this young girl who was so highly touted to be draped in gold by this point of the games. She fell short in the Team All Around. She was beaten out by teammate Nastia Lukin in the All Around and grabbed yet another silver in the Floor Exercise. I was rooting hard for this athlete who came in with so much pressure on her (legitimately)16 year old shoulders. After each blow that she took she always had those big eyes and that huge smile and a hug for a teammate or fellow competitor. Sure 2nd is a huge accomplishment but gold is gold. She is now one of the most decorated Olympians in US Gymnastics and the gold just helps solidify that. To be able to stay as focused, through all the disappointment and to come through in her last event was what the Olympic games are supposed to be about. Determination, perseverance and excellence. Way to Go Shawn!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

LPGA CN Canadian Open

On Thursday I had the opportunity to go to the first round of the CN Canadian Open held at the Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club an event that was both historic and of great interest to me. It was the 100th anniversary of the course, possibly one of or more likely the last professional tournament that Hall of Fame golfer and probably the greatest women’s golfer of all time Annika Sorenstam, plus just the opportunity to be there in person and see a live golf event firsthand. Though no longer a major many still feel that it is and the is why they managed to get some 48 of the top 50 players on tour into the field.

The event itself was first class all the way, well organized, good course and very accessible, great field and the fact that they managed to raise over $1 million for CHEO was just a great feat.

From a more selfish or perhaps a more personal angle, getting to go that round was awesome. One thing that find very difficult is to get people to go to important events such as this with me which has forced me to miss some things in the past that I would have liked to do and/or taken in but I guess that is out of my control. This time I supposed the stars aligned and I was able to take advantage and I am so glad that I did.
I got to see and follow some great golf from great players and see them all up close and personal.

That is where things hit the pinnacle for me on a personal level. As someone who enjoys acquiring autographs this was the perfect event. From what I hear and what I now know the two best professionals that make themselves the most accessible are NASCAR Drivers and LPGA Players. Big or small those ladies were terrific. I noticed it early with a ton of people walking around with signed hats that had been gotten during the Pro-Am and practice rounds. To make a long story short I managed to get a few ladies autographs some well known and some lower tier but at that point it didn’t matter it was still cool.
The ladies went out of their way to sign as much as they could and when you think of the demand on them it make is all the more impressive with how well they handle it and how good they are.

The two that I would have liked to get but was unable to was World #1 Lorena Ochoa whom I missed just because of bad timing and Michelle Wie who just passed me by but I was unprepared and didn’t get the book and Sharpie out in time…Rookie Mistake.
I was side by side Canadian favourite Lori Kane, Bombshell Natalie Gulbis, and walked with the rising star Paula Creamer. The highlight though for me was the main reason I wanted to go in the first place and that was to see Annika, whom I have loved since I was in high school, before she was the Hall of Fame golfer she is now. I watched her hit puts for maybe 20 minutes after her round. I not only did I manage to get her autograph on the cover of the program but was able to walk with her for a bit.
The beauty of this was there was no velvet rope or fence between us, no imposing police man or bodyguard, just her caddy and maybe 3 other people. She was nice made some small talk and was gracious the full time to all that were there.

So with that, thanks to the Ladies for making my week, month and probably more, and showing how great of people and golfers they truly are!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Around the Horn

Congratulations to Michael Phelps on his 7th gold (with plenty of room to spare, 1/100th of a second) of the 2008 Olympics. It was an unbelieveable race and a thrill to watch. All I can say is WOW!!

Around the Horn will not be seen this week and has put on hiatus for re-tooling.
Actually I just don't have the drive to write it this week and plan for it to be back in all its glory next week!

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Ontario Summer Games

As the 2008 Ontario Summer Games have descended upon the city taking control of the various fields, arenas, pool, rink or gymnasium. I canʼt help but remember when I was a participant in the games. I attended the games in 1996 and represented Fastball when the games were held in London. That was the closest that this former athlete has come to the actual Olympics. Just like this year it was also an Olympic year with the Summer Olympics in Atlanta. As I recall we were set up at the University of Western in the dorms. The ball teams took over the wing for the duration of the tournament and it was just like a set up at the Olympic Village (I would imagine). Just like the Olympics we were marched into the stadium in our warm up gear and team swag, did a lap around the track and the football field waiving to all the fans and families in the stands. ID badges to wear around our necks with our names and sport. Kind of makes you feel like a a big shot.We had our vouchers for food and coupons for various tourist type things, we were taken care of pretty well.
We went out early mornings, and started our games, the cool dewy mornings gradually dissipated and the hot summer sun came out as we played... just the way the Olympics were meant to be, for the joy of the game and the thrill of great competition and competitiveness. Although we did not return with a medal that year it was still a great experience both for great ball, team building but also personal accomplishment. I am sure Ottawa will do it up great and I hope the kids have as much fun as I did.

Gold Rush

Michael Phelps, perhaps you have heard of him, swam into history as the winningest Olympic athlete ever with his 11th career gold medal - and fourth world record of the Beijing Games. Phelps is now looking to go for a record number of gold in a single Olympics at the Beijing Olympics. The magic number is 8 to break and 7 to tie Mark Spitz. He is sitting on 5 right now and is just over halfway there. How many will he end with? Is he the greatest of all time? What happens if he doesn’t break the record? What if he comes second in an event and only gets a silver is it a failed Olympics, is that a failure? These are some of the many questions that will be answered in due time. The sad thing is that he can’t surpass expectations only equal them. It is not his fault that the bar has been set so high but the is little that can be done about that now. In the worst explanation out there...”it is what it is”. Maybe if the media wanted to assure them selves of having a story like this is to stack the deck in its advantage. You already know that there is a pretty good chance that he will be close to that magic 8 in the pool between his own and his relay team events, why not go that extra step? Make him an extra on the Men’s basketball team as a 12th man, throw him on the volleyball, baseball, field hockey, water polo or any other heavily favoured team event. Then he can sit on the bench and or enter the event for a few seconds and then leave get credit an share in the medal, that would all but guarantee a record and take away all sorts of pressure.

Regardless of what happens from here on out I have seen 4 world records broken, one by close to 5 seconds and Phelps has now eclipsed the record number of gold overall as well. I hope that he does break the record. As I have stated may times before, I am a fan of seeing history being made that is what I would love for this to be one such event.

Monday, August 11, 2008

'Heese' So Close

Mark Heese is one half of the 1996 Bronze Medal winning Beach Volleyball team for Canada in Atlanta. He teamed with John Childs and the two were long time partners. Heese now plays with Ahren Cadieux and the two had hopes of playing in Beijing in this years Olympics, that will not be happening. How about this for a kicker to a former Olympian and medalist the top 24 teams in the world go...they are ranked 25th. They had the potential to get the invite if another team were forced to withdraw but at this late date it looks unlikely and they will be forced to set their sights a little lower to the Canadian National Championships in Toronto. For Heese he will be going for his 11 such title but that surely pales in comparison to going to Beijing and at 39 this will be his last shot. As a huge volleyball fan and a proud Canadian I do feel for them and it would have been great to see them compete on the largest stage (as volleyball seldom gets any press let alone face time on TV outside of Olympic years).

Friday, August 08, 2008

Around The Horn

Brett Favre has finally moved and maybe now we can all move on to talking about football...the actual game!
You can call him Broadway Brett! I guess green really is his favorite colour for more reasons then one.

In a related note, Chad Pennington the Jets starting QB the last few seasons has gone Dan Crowley (Ottawa Renegades former starting QB) and was released by the team. Not even demoted...released

First it was Paul now it is Morgan. The two USA Gymnast brothers have been forced to sit out the Olympics with injury
I will take the Won Ton Soup and the #29 Special....Hold the Hamm

The European’s record at the PGA Championship is not great, none of the US players are playing particularly well.
Should make for an interesting final Major, Tiger must just be itching to be in this field for an almost guaranteed victory, probably still would be the favorite right now even on one pin.

Are any of the athletes this year actually going to be clean?
Vegas will have its work cut out for themselves setting the over/under for athletes getting pinched by drug tests

The Manny Ramirez trade is being investigated by MLB
After the way the ARod (or the Lightning Rod, as i know him) contract was handled by Scott Boras last year during the World Series there would be an outside chance that ther may have been something greasy going on there

J.P. Riccardi the Jays GM stated that Cito Gaston will be back in 2009
Does that open the door for Beaston and Gillick to come in too?Apparently what was old is new again in TO....Was that just an Allan Bester sighting??
After this regime some more "new/old" faces may be a good thing

As stated on The Colbert Report last night Michael Phelps will be one to watch this year in the pool as he goes for a record amount of Gold. It is a wonder that he has the kind of time required to train while playing Jim on the Office and QB’ing the NY Giants to the Super Bowl

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Beard Bares It All

American swimmer and multiple gold medalist Amanda Beard staged the first athlete protest of the Beijing Olympics. She unveiled her nude, anti-fur campaign poster for PETA on Wednesday morning at a function just outside the athletes' village.Apparently the launch was planned for a hotel conference room but officials locked it down, citing security concerns. Beard who has already posed for Playboy in the past is speaking out against cruelty of animals or more accurately the message of not wearing fur, but really it is all just semantics. With the games being held in China the possibility of more athletes speaking out on many social issues is very high. The fact that this was a little more risque will only enhance the weight that this message will have, especially with the star power of Ms. Beard. Although I may not share her or PETA’s ideals, that fact that she is putting herself out there for something she believes in, I can respect that.I am guessing that any other protests that will come in the coming weeks may not get quite the same response, honestly how could it?We all knew that China would have some difficulties with political issues from some athletes and many other protesters, I am just glad that this was peaceful and didn’t turn into an international incident.

We can all admit that she has come a long way from that 14 year old who brought her Teddy Bear to the pool with her in Atlanta in ‘96. (I think it is safe to assume that the Teddy Bears fur was synthetic, I would hate for her to be deemed a hypocrite)

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Beijing Olympics are almost here

Sure it may technically be the dog days of summer as they are know traditionally in the sports world, but we may be lucky this year. With the Olympics starting in just a few days we get to bypass the mid-month doldrums from baseball, the gap between what can’t be considered football at all as it refers to NFL Camps, NFL Pre Season and the CFL regular season.Tennis’ US Open is a ways away and as an added bonus with no Tiger in golf right now the Olympics will attack that itch that otherwise would have been difficult to scratch.Perhaps it is the lesser of two evils but I say bring on the tram-bamp-oline and the woman's field hockey, the steeple chase and root for the Ethiopian that is sure to take the 38,000 meters.

So settle in front of the TV, order your #39 Special with Fried Rice, Garlic Spare Ribs, Chicken Balls and the Won Tong Soup...careful of the fortune cookie, one wrong bite and they can cut up your mouth pretty bad...and enjoy.

The Olympics, it’s coming....

Monday, August 04, 2008

The loss of a legend

Forgive me if I sound like an old man here for a second but here it is.We all have that voice that we associate with our favorite team or sport. In Canada it would likely include Tom Cheek and Jerry Howarth, Danny Gallivan or Dick Irvin. In the US there would be many like Howard Cosell or Ernie Harwell among others depending on your sport of choice. I remember as a youngster watching my beloved Braves play ball on TBS throughout their 14 consecutive division titles and the voices of those that came into my home each telecast. Joe Simpson, Don Sutton, Pete Van Wieren and the man that was the backbone of the broadcasts, Skip Carey. Skip passed away Sunday at the age of 68 after a series of health issues, though he didn’t let that stop him from continuing to do Braves home games on the radio.Skip was the son of legendary broadcaster Harry Carey who was famous for doing Cub games and the father of Chip Carey who also worked on Braves games. Skip had done games for the team since 1976. Skip had a style all his own, many people didn’t care for it as much as he rarely got overly excited but did openly root for the Braves on air in what some would consider a “homer” broadcast style, but that was part of his charm. With TBS the Braves were America’s team because they were one of the first teams shown nationwide on the Superstation and people were more exposed to them then any other team and Skip was the voice. I will remember him not only as the voice of the Braves for my entire time as a Braves fan but also for his announcing of what was going to be on TBS after the game or during a rain delay. I think that I will probably think of Skip every time I see a Matlock or an episode of the Andy Griffith Show.

He was a legend and one of my favorites and he will be missed.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

History made in Montreal NASCAR Race

As I have written before I like when I get a chance to watch history being made, especially in the world of sports. That is why I root for Tiger and not try to tear him down, why i was even more proud to be a Braves fan during the time that they were on their 14 consecutive Division Title run, the back to back World Series wins by the Blue Jays, the modern day dynasty that is the Patriots, and watching the great years leading up to and including the championships by Jimmie Johnson. Now I have one more that can be added to the list with the Nationwide NASCAR race, the NAPA Auto Parts 200 in Montreal. This was the first time that a race has been run in the rain and with rain tires and wipers. Though it was shortened due to just too much precipitation and extremely low visibility it did reach the required length.
The race was won by Canadian Ron Fellows with Patrick Carpentier coming in second, thus adding to the storey with Canadians finishing 1-2 in the only Canadian race on the schedule. I was wanting to attend the race in person but it was probably more enjoyable to take it in on TV in HD, a little dryer and got to see more.The Monteral race for the record has only been run twice and both times have stood out for what it brought to the world of NASCAR. Last year was the first race in Canada and had a great controversial end and then this year with the rain, wipers and rain tires. In a side note Marcos Ambrose was once again snake bitten by circumstances after dominating the race. He was in line to win last year but was a victim of Robbie Gordon and this year took a very costly penalty after dominating the race and leading the most laps. All in all it was great to see history being made and a welcomed alternative to last weeks Sprint Cup Gong Show at Indy.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Around The Horn

LPGA Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam has called out Michelle Wie for playing with the men and skipping the British Open. I can’t be any clearer then Annika: "You know, I really don’t know why Michelle continues to do this," Sorenstam said. "I mean, we have a major this week, and if you can’t qualify for a major, I don’t see any reason why you should play with the men."
This princess has to quit the sideshow..we are all tired of it and now the players are vocal about it too!

NASCAR apologised for the tire debacle last Sunday.
Nice that they admitted the mistake but a little too little a little too late. Where do I get my refund for the 4 hours I invested into that gong show?

Maria Sharapova withdrew from the Rogers Open after her 2nd round victory.
I am glad she did, take the time now to rest up so I have a reason to watch tennis at the Olympics.

Olympics 8 8 08
It is almost that time where we get to watch gymnastics and not feel dirty after, well except after the floor routine, though Stewie Griffin would like to remind everyone that it is absolutely not gay.

It is week 6 or so of the CFL Schedule
Does anybody know how anyone in the league is doing and does it even matter until November? Not so much

Blackhawks name Scotty Bowman as a Senior Advisor, Hockey Operations
Seems like that may have been a good title for him to have in Toronto, had they again not screwed things up. Leafs suck.

Brett Farve has reportedly been offered up to $20 Million to stay retired.
1. Why would you work if someone gave you that kind of cash to not work
2. Ricky Williams had to pay almost half that not to play
Brett, go Steve Miller Band on this...Go on, take the money and run!

Jonathan Roy was charged with assault from his fighting/beat down incident in March during a QMJHL game.
How does it take some 4 months before this decision was made to go ahead with criminal charges? I thought this was done with. I guess rogue fists are more frowned upon then stick swinging infractions or skate stomping