Sunday, December 21, 2008

Bringing the Heat- Dany Heatley Book Signing

It is fairly well known that my favorite hockey player is Dany Heatley of the Ottawa Senators. Ever since he was acquired from the Atlanta Thrashers for Marian Hossa and Greg de Vries. I admired his play before that as a 2nd overall pick in the June 2000 Entry Draft and his winning the Calder Trophy as Rookie of the year in 2001-2002 with Atlanta but it wasn’t until he came to Ottawa that I truly became a big fan.I have tried in the past at other events to meet Dany in person but come up short. I managed to get a co-worker to get a jersey signed by him at a closed door event in Kanata the first year he was with the team and that still is the highlight of my collection. I would have loved to have met him but acquiring the jersey was the next best thing.

Last weekend I got the opportunity to finally meet Dany in person at his book signing. I knew that he was involved in producing a book authorized by him and written in the first person. I found out when he was having his official book signing at 2 local Chapter’s in the Ottawa area. So Sunday I got up and made my way to the east end and went to the Chapter’s in Gloucester. I got there about 1:30 for the 2pm event. I was given a copy of the book at the door and was told to get in the line and pay for the book, next I was moved to another line where I filled out a ballot for a jersey and a post-it note for how I wanted the book to be inscribed and got a wristband to ensure that I was “entitled” to get the book signed. I was then directed to a third line where i would wait and eventually move through the store serpentining through what felt like 70% of the store, isles and velvet ropes. Then I reached the pinnacle and the promised land. Since i was again by myself I was forced to convince an employee to take my picture with Dany and he did a half ass job and managed to get a great shot with Heater’s head down, but I digress. I got the picture, I got the book signed and personalized and even managed to shake his hand which made the entire endevour worth while. So after all that it was 3pm and 1 1/2hours later i came away a very happy hockey fan.
As for the book itself it is an 80 page autobiography that is aimed at young readers and is more light then perhaps it could have been. The book only briefly touches on the accident that he was involved in that took the life of friend and teammate Dan Snyder but that is to be expected in a book style like this. Hopefully sometime down the road or after his playing days he will write a more comprehensive autobiography that will encompass his entire life and career that may include how one can cope with such tragedy and be able to move on.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Week 15 NFL Picks

GB with the help of Aaron Rogers and Ryan Grant and hopes that MOJO doesn't single handidly run over the GB defence
Indi at home vs winless Lions with no Caulpepper or Johnson
Washington because Cincy is just a train wreck still
Atlanta at home with Roddy White and Matt Ryan
Miami- SF is without Gore
Seattle because they are playing STL.
Buffalo to keep the points close
Tennessee- they are still a very good tram that runs well
SD- LT is due for a big day sooner or later
Arizona air attack to limit Peterson being used effectively
Pittsburgh defence is just a powerhouse
Denver offence should keep game at least close
New England *** only if Cassle plays otherwise that is a lot of points
Giants are still a good team and if Jacobs can't play Ward should replace him well
Philly- not sure what is going on in Cleveland and Dorsey will be in tough

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Maddux Was A Master

He ended his career similar to the way that he played throughout it, quiet, professional and classy. Most players that are not only the best at their position during their time in the game but one of the best of all time would announce their intentions up to a year before so they can get all the fanfare they can and be in the news as a final Harrah! Greg Maddux is not that type of person or player an announcement at 6pm on a Friday night is about as obscure a time as one could ever choose. But that is the most fitting way for this 4 time Cy Young, 18 time Gold Glove winner, 3,000+ strikeout, 355 game winner.

Maddux was one of the least imposing superstars ever to play. A man who looked more like an accountant then a pro ball player was for the majority of his career like a surgeon on the mound. Now a days a pitcher like this probably would never get a chance to get to the majors let alone become one of the best ever. Scouts won’t even give you a look if you can’t hit 90mph on the gun. Maddux learned early that it was more about movement, location and changing speeds then velocity and that was how he became the master.
There is little doubt now that he will be the face of pitching during this era. Maybe it would have been Roger Clemens before his recent troubles but not it almost has to be Maddux. In the steroid era he was never linked or suspected of any improprieties and will possibly be the last pitcher to achieve that many wins in the new age of pitching with 5 man rotations and the way bullpens are used.

In his prime he anchored one of the greatest pitching staffs ever assembled with himself Tom Glavine, and John Smoltz with the 14 time Division Champion Atlanta Braves and was the ace of the staff in 1995 when the Braves were World Champions.

I got the pleasure of watching him pitch in Montreal during an Expos game and saw in person just what a special player he was. Hopefully in 5 years I will get to see him where he belongs…in the Hall of Fame and going in with an Atlanta Braves hat (and not a Cubs one).

Congrats on a great career and for the great memories during your time in Atlanta.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Week 14 Early Picks

My apologies for missing last weeks picks. US Thanksgiving caught up to me and by then figured the rest of the week was a wash. Back this week and hoping for the best! Lets play some Fooooooootbaaaaaaallllllll!!!!

-San Diego is a disappointment and Oakland seems to either be close in games or get blown out it is feast or famin with them
-Indi in hopes that Peyton throws better then last week which was just embarrassing
-Jacksonville is a disappointment and the coach seems to have forgotten how to manage a game
-6.5 is too big a number for Green Bay to cover
-With no QB Cleveland will have a terrible time staying with the Titans
-Petterson to run all over the Lions
-Giants on the arm of MVP candidate Eli Manning? not Peyton, Eli? Ok
-Atlanta with NO being too inconsistent Brees still throws for 325+
-NE needs a win and Seatle is as good a team as any to do so
-The Gun-Singer Farve will let it fly in San Fran
-Miami because the Rogers Centre roof will be closed-watch out for Ginn Jr.
-Denver-Cuttler needs to have a good game
-Warner needs to run the college offence and spread it out and let it fly
-Dallas to get the offence rolling again
-Baltimore because i can't watch a 'Skins game no matter how good a team they are they just don't look entertaining
-Tampa Bay...I still can't trust Carolina and Jake D

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Cost of an Autograph

It is nice to see that there are still good guys in the NHL. Coming off the Sean Avery fiasco a somewhat positive story is a nice change of pace. Alex Burrows, Taylor Pyatt and Ryan Kesler said they will pull out of what could have been a controversial signing session near Metrotown on Dec. 21.The three Canucks players were to be the main attractions for an autograph signing at a supplements store at a cost of $30 for a small Item and $40 for a large item. This was not at a convention or card show either just a promo event that usually brings in people to get foot traffic into a store not try and make a lot of money from the fans.
It isn’t just the fact that they were charging for the autographs but the high cost that they were to be asking $5-$10 max...$30 is ridiculous, especially for less then "premier" players. It is good to see that they had the common sense to get out of that deal or they would have run the risk of looking bad.

I collect autographs myself and have gotten cards signed by Kesler at least and have had no trouble and got them back through the mail (TTM) in a timely fashion at no cost (except postage of course). I would have been disappointed had he followed through and this tarnished him in any way. Burrows said of his autograph: "I don’t think I’m worth $30, not my autograph. You can’t even recognize my autograph, so I don’t think it would make sense. I don’t want to be the kind of guy to do something like that."

Apparently, Andrew Cogliano and Sam Gagner of the Oilers had a similar problem that garnered national attention when they were at a card show that was charging $25. Gagner is another player that I have gotten an autograph from in his junior days so at least then he was very forthcoming. Perhaps as a pro things have changed.

In my experience hockey players in general are some of the best at signing and returning autographs both from the NHL level to the Junior ranks. It goes to show that for the most part they are a pretty decent bunch and it is good that we can include Burrows, Pyatt and Kesler in that group.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

This Years Sportsman of the Year - Michael Phelps

Michael Phelps continues his great year with yet one more major accolade. There is little doubt that this was going to be awarded to Phelps and he is certainly a deserving recipient. For 2 weeks in China this past August the Olympics were all about Phelps and his quest to become the most decorated Olympian in history. He walked out of those games with 8 golds the most in one Olympics. Even the casual observer couldn’t help but become captivated by the story in the pool. What he managed to do, and in some cases his team was not only compelling but it brought a spotlight to swimming that will now become obsolete for the next 4 years until the next Olympics. It is too bad that this sport only gets recognition every 4 years along with the likes of gymnastics.
Technically he was sportsman of the 2 weeks even though the 4 years of training leading up to the games will no doubt be overlooked.

As for Phelps himself, he is a commodity and you can see him everywhere either in ads or just randomly in public. Does he run the risk of being over exposed? Perhaps, but in his role as a swimmer he almost needs to exploit himself and stay in the news for as longs as possible because once the light goes down on his star it will be 4 years before he can hope to get it back. It may not be right but that is just the way things go for amateur athletics (just ask Daniel Igali).

In any event Phelps is the big winner this year and we should all applaud what he was able to accomplish.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Plaxico’s Giant Mistake

Does the NFL have a gun problem or do sports in general have a gun problem or again can we just chalk it up to an overall social problem?
Why is it that you hear these stories about NFLers and not so many NBA players or MLB players, is it just the number of people that a team carries or is it more then that?

On Friday night Plaxico Burress of the New York Giants was involved in a club shooting. Burress accidentally shot himself in the leg with his own gun. Luckily he didn’t permanently hurt himself or anyone else but that is besides the point. He still had a loaded, concealed weapon without a permit in a club and no good can come from that. After the Pacman Jones issues in Vegas that left a bouncer paralyzed this issue has gotten a lot more media attention. Granted there is a culture that many people may not understand about where some of these guys come from and "carrying" is common and in some cases a necessity but sometimes common sense must play a roll. Sean Taylor was killed in his home and another NFL player was robbed just outside his house at gunpoint, but that is very different, that is at home. Have a gun to protect your family... many people get that, but maybe not at the club. Why? Maybe you shouldn’t be at the club- No good comes from being out after 12:30am in a club, nothing. Not the last drink, the last conversation, the last woman or the last piece of pizza. Just go home.
Athletes are targets, we all know that, both for the good and the bad and it may be hard to tell if a person want an autograph or your watch and money. But after midnight in a club it is more likely to be the latter. Here is a novel idea, hire an off duty cop or detective to be around you when you go out, maybe not to be an imposing figure but to at least act as a deterrent or someone to de-escalate bad situations.

Plaxico has had a rough year with fines and suspensions from the team but this will no doubt be the last straw. His issues affected mainly just him but this recent issue brought teammates into it, namely Antonio Pierce who was apparently there and may or may not have been involved in some way, possibly involving the gun itself.

It is doubtful that Burress will play for the Giants again with the injury as well as the NFL’s personal conduct policy, not to mention that New York has one of the strongest anti-gun laws he could be in more serious trouble and could get anything from probation to 5 years in jail. This doesn’t look like being a star athlete is going to help get him off the hook this time. Playing football will be the least of his worries for the next while.