Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Dany To Edmonton?

It looks like Dany Heatley is soon to be an Oiler. It seems like we are just waiting on him to officially waive his no-trade. Proposed to come to Ottawa is Andrew Cogliano, Dustin Penner and Ladislav Smid.

We will see how this plays out and the effect that it has on tomorrow's Free Agent Frenzy

Free Agent Frenzy

Tomorrow is a celebration! July 1st, Canada Day. The birthday of our country. I hope that everyone celebrates or at least acknowledge it for what it is and appreciate how great it is to live in this great country. Many people for a long time have not only worked to make this country great but also those who have fought to keep this country safe and free. Happy Canada Day to all.

With that being said there is also another event that will be happening at the same time and that is in the form of Free Agency in the NHL. Usually there are a few big names that will go early...so early in fact that it would be impossible for it to be done legally. There is no way that deals can be struck within seconds at 12:00am but it is what it is, tampering doesn’t apply in this case I guess. (Suppose that the draft day deal between Calgary and New Jersey had nothing to do with Brent Sutter becoming free to coach the Calgary Flames). Once the big names start to fall it allows for some of the mid and lower level players to fit into place and teams can see where they stand leading into the summer and through training camp.

It is sure to happen that a couple players will get very overpaid by GMs who are feeling the heat from above and some teams who will make some shroud moves and go under the radar by just tweaking and those may become the most impactive deals that will be made.

I hope for the sake of my TV viewing and the 5 hours of programming that TSN has lined up from 12-5 tomorrow that it is some what eventful. Also linked to this will be my announcement of my Western Conference Favorite Team that I have still yet to divulge as I am really trying to do my due diligence between the final 2 teams on my list and the last chip to fall for that decision to be made.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Sens Get Big On Defence

The Ottawa Senators seemed to do pretty well at this years NHL Entry Draft in Montreal. Where they did not do well was on the trade front in any attempt to move Dany Heatley. As far as the draft itself goes it looks like the Sens looked ok and managed to get some good players as well as fill some organizational needs. I was fairly pleased with the selection of big defenceman Jared Cowen with the 9th pick. Cowen was ranked 9th By Central Scouting. It was well publicized that they were looking at Nazem Kadri but he was plucked by the Leafs, that was the one benefit of having Leafs GM mic’d up.

I must say I was glad that Brian Burke decided to go that way and take Kadri from London who was listed 15th by Central Scouting. Kadri is a good offensive player but I just don’t have much interest in him and not sure if he is a true sure thing at the 9 spot let alone the 7th, only time will tell though . I think having a big strong D-man is harder to find. After seeing how the Zedeno Chara/Wade Redden decision went having the big guy seems a little more valuable... especially if you factor in Erik Karlsson who is penciled in to be the more offensive puck mover within the next few years. Cowen suffered a knee injury this year but hopefully he makes a full recovery. If he is able to do so he should be a force for Team Canada at this years World Junior Tournament in Saskatoon.

In the second round they filled an organizational need picking a goaltender Robin Lehner. There isn't too much left on the farm and this guys is thought to be the best goaltender in the draft and comes from a good pedigree (his father was the goaltending coach for Ranger goalie Henrik Lundqvist). The other player picked up was another Swede, a forward, Jakob Silfverberg. Hopefully with the 2 picks in the second round being so high that they can develop into some quality players in the near future.

Beyond the 2nd round it is a much longer shot to make the team but maybe one of Chris Wideman, Mike Hoffman, Jeff Costello, Corey Cowick, Brad Peltz, Michael Sdao can be one of those diamonds in the rough

Friday, June 26, 2009

Draft Day 2009

The Ottawa Senators are poised and ready to go with the number 9 pick overall in tonight's draft in Montreal. I don't know if a Dany Heatley trade is going to happen or not. There is a lot of speculation from - There is a team to beat and there is nothing out there. If there is a trade it will probably involve the 9th pick in some way, and I hope that it does. I don't care if they only move to 8 or move back to 10...just not 9.

My prediction is if they end up with the 9th pick they will probably end up with Nazem Kadri. One of the players that I don't realy was to see in Ottawa. The last time the Sens had the 9th pick was in 2005 in the Sidney Crosby draft and they selected Brian Lee. Who should they have picked? Anze Kopitar or Marc Staal, but probably Staal and I even said that when it happened. I think Kadri to the Sens would be a mistake even with an impending loss of Dany Heatley. In that area of the draft there is the possibility of Magnus Svensson Paajarvi , Oliver Ekman-Larsson or perhaps a Dmitri Kulikov or Jared Cowen (D). Any of whom I would rather see in the red, white and black.

The time is ticking down, what will happen, what big deals will be made? Have to tune in and watch, should be some good theatre at least. I hope that GM Brian Murray knows what he is doing and is able to get this team in the the right direction going forward.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Around The Horn

I don’t know if I should be more impressed with the news that LA Kings Centre Jarret Stoll as reportedly broken off his wedding to Rachel Hunter or the fact that he did it by email. Not knowing the inter workings of the relationship you have to figure that Stoll either has something even better on the horizon but to drop a bomb like that by email is a ballsy move. The only saving grace is that he didn’t do it by Twitter.

The United States made soccer history when they stunned the No. 1 ranked team in the world making the finals of the Confederations Cup with a victory over the Spain. Maybe it is the "Miracle on Grass" maybe not, If this is what it takes for the US to care about soccer then this victory greatly upsets me. I have little or no respect for anything that may, in any way promote this game. I know that America is very patriotic about anything that makes them feel big and mighty but they need to just forget about this one for the greater good....soccer sucks.
Shaquille O’Neal is headed to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Big ‘Shaq-tus’ is headed from Phoenix to Cleveland to be a big man that LeBron can work with in his quest to win a championship. Does he have anything left? Good question, but it is interesting to see how many more big deals will be made before or during tonight's draft.

Wimbledon is in full force and Roger Federer is looking to surpass Pete Samprass at the All England Club. In sad news Russian Maria Sharapova was ousted early. Watching her match, the talk of curbing the level and volume of grunting clearly hasn’t filtered down to the players (Maria managed to turn up the volume to a staggering 101db during her first-round). I figure that a little yelling and grunting on shots isn’t too bad. However it should be outlawed on the men’s side.
Lance Armstrong’s bike was stolen some time ago and just recently the verdict came down for the punishment for this crime. 40-year-old Lee Crider is to be sentenced to three years in prison for burglary and theft.---Dante Stallworth hit and killed a pedestrian while being intoxicated...he got sentenced to 30 DAYS in jail, Mike Vick is already out of the pen for his involvement in the dog fighting ring. That is some even justice system.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Draft Season

In the next two days some of the most entertaining and potentially important events will take place in the NBA and the NHL. The direction of teams and the balance of power could be affected for years to come. Thursday evening the NBA will be holding its draft and Friday the NHL will be doing the same for it’s brand. This is a fun time for fans who like to speculate on who is better, who should go where, where players will go and what deals are out there to be made.

There are some subtle differences between the way we will view each of these entities. In the NBA there are only 2 rounds and 2nd round players are a long shot at best for not only getting any playing time but just making the team. The players who are drafted will enter the league next year and be on the roster and playing. Another thing is that with the popularity of the NCAA Tournament plenty of people are well aware of the majority of at least the mane of the players that are going to be coming out, which allows for fans to identify and be more familiar with who their team is selecting.
In the NHL it is different. There are multiple rounds and sometimes there hidden gems late in the selection process. The players are younger and come from junior teams in smaller locations with minimal coverage. Outside of the very top players there are many 1st round picks that there are a lot of players that people just don’t know unless you either research or follow junior hockey. Players selected past the number 4 or 5 pick have little or no chance of playing in the league. Most will be sent back to junior or stay with their club teams overseas for more seasoning and for the players to mature. It will usually take 2-3 years before many players even make the team, let alone make an impact.

The beauty of the NHL Entry Draft is that there is usually the most wheeling and dealing on the floor as compared to the other major sports. There has already been one significant deal in the NBA so far but there usually not a lot of movement. In the NHL GMs seem to get a little more trigger happy and the potential for players and picks being moved is much greater and makes for some fun and exciting viewing.

Both drafts have to potential to help shoot a team towards the top or make other teams tumble to the bottom in the years to come. Every draft has some sleepers and others have their busts and only time will tell who will emerge as the victor.

Monday, June 22, 2009

NHL Awards Little Pop, Even Less Substance

Thursday night the NHL decided to take their Awards Show on the road and away from the usual location at the center of the universe, Toronto. Destination - Vegas Baby! Vegas! It had some big stars on hand, unfortunately all the stars were the hockey players and not the entertainment or the presenters. The NHL at least got it right in their choice of host, well it wasn’t so much the NHL but Jeremy Roenick, he’s good. And did a decent job.. As many know, Roenick is not shy behind the mic or in front of the camera but still I was a little disappointed that Gretzky wasn’t there for JR to make his head bleed for superfan-99 overhere.

Where there was a huge drop off was in the show itself. You would think that in Vegas that they would be able to find a celebrity or two, maybe someone good as the entertainment, is that too much to ask? Shaka Khan, seriously? Shaka Khan as your main singer? Weak at best! CSI Producer Jerry Bruckheimer was there as a presenter, could he not have helped or at least been consulted to bring up the production value? Then there is the NHL players themselves, not the most compelling speakers at the best of times. Jean Beliveau was good but the rest all were stiff and looked forced. In the players defence the majority of the winners were Russian’s and their English was not flawless. They did a good job but it was a little rough. That brings us to the more awkward moment. With all the international flavour and majority of Russians who were recipients of awards, presenter Glenn Anderson made a quip that he thought he’d ended up in the wrong place - "down the road at the Russian awards.". It was funny but maybe not the most appropriate thing to say.

This presentation makes a good case to do the awards like the NBA, NFL and MLB and just release the name and give them an award in person and not try to make it a sceptical. For example, until the MLB EA Sports Game commercial with Dustin Pedroia, last years AL MVP, I had no Idea what that award even looked like.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Who Was That Guy?

If the Atlanta Braves weren't playing the Boston Red Sox tonight in Boston I would be quite sure that I had a celebrity sighting in town today.
I could swear I saw Mike Lowell 3rd baseman of the Red Sox at the Chip Stand in Merrickville. Since I know that this was defiantly not the case I will chalk it up to the next most reasonable conclusion... It must have been Mike Lowell's Doppelgänger. It truly is the only explanation.
~ I have a critique of the NHL Awards show that is currently unavailable to me at this time due to circumstances beyond my control. I will post it on Monday morning. For those that appreciate the movie Swingers they should appreciate it.~

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Jays Fall Out Of Nest - Boston's Embarrassment Of Riches

The Blue Jays have been hit again my the injury bug and have sent 3 pitchers to the disabled list. Closer Scott Downs, Casey Jansen and ace of the staff Roy Halladay. They join 3 more pitchers on the DL in Dustin McGowan, Shaun Marcum and Jesse Litsch. This team’s pitching staff has had been decimated by injuries not only last year or this year. It is almost a wonder that there is even anyone left in the rotation. It is a wonder that they are still only 2 game out of first which is almost amazing. How long they can keep this up is questionable but if they can manage to hold on and keep things close until they can get a few pitchers back it could go a long way in showing the rest of the league that they can become a potential player in the pennant race.

This brings us to the Boston Red Sox, who seem to be trying to change the way teams set up their starting rotation. The Jays can hardly get enough arms to play the games, the Sox are getting ready to run out an unprecedented 6 man rotation - and a good solid one at that. Former Braves ace and future Hall of Fame member John Smoltz is set to make his season debut for his new team next week. I guess this is just a case to the rich getting richer. Smoltz will join a staff that will include; Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Tim Wakefield, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Brad Penny and Smoltz. Not a bad luxury to have, that is a pretty deep pool to draw from. Will this work? Maybe, but it is a great problem to have.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Heat Is On Everyone Involved

So with the impending move of All Star, Superstar and Team Canada Rep. Dany Heatley from the Ottawa Senators there have been many things that have been put on hold. He has somewhat handcuffed the Sens and have forced them to shop his services and his contract to teams in the league. There are obviously teams that would be interested but it is a matter of either having enough room to make a deal, be creative enough to manage his salary into your own system and/or having enough to offer Bryan Murray in terms of an interesting package of players-prospects and picks.

Not only have they done this to Murray he has done this to me as well. Being a big Heatley fan I am probably am in the minority in the Ottawa area who still like the guy but he gave us 4 years, plenty of goals and plenty to cheer about. I have written him for an autograph and he came through and that was awesome! I met him at his book signing and got a copy of his book signed, also awesome and got a pic with him which was nice. I have also had the fortune of getting a autographed jersey of his as well so I consider that the tri-fecta. I am not going to bail on the guy for doing something that happen in all sports all the time. Where he is holding me back is until he is dealt I am concerned to name my official 1A favorite Western Team until his move goes through. I am not saying I am going to automatically start rooting for that team but I had narrowed it down to the final 2 and have previously made it clear that it was down to the LA Kings and the St Louis Blues. If in some way he goes to one of these 2 teams it may make a difference in my final decision. Until that goes down I may need to hold off before making a final call.

Pro scouting is hard! I just hope that by the draft that I can gain some direction but that is only a couple weeks away so we are on the clock. Work some magic Mr. Murray.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Best And Worst Of The Weekend

Marc-André Fleury save at the end of Game 7 diving in front of the puck shot from Nick Lidstrom like he was a Secret Service agent protecting Obama. Then that being followed by his interview with Scott Oake when asked what he was thinking in the dying seconds of the game with the Red Wings applying pressure and Fleury responded ‘Oh Shit’ and the 7 second delay was not in effect. Then Oake’s response was basically ‘fair enough’.
Jimmie Johnson leading the race in Michigan for 146 laps of the 200 lap race, leading at the end then with less then 2 laps left running out of gas and being forced to pit for gas after the race and cross the finish line on pit row. To his credit he did finish but to fall from 1st to 22nd is a tough pill to swallow when you clearly had the most dominant car on the track.

Alex Rodriguez pops up to Louis Castillo of the Mets, a routine pop up to end the game.....then dropping it. To Mark Teixeira credit he actually ran the play out as was rewarded with a win. Then they actually interviewed A-Rod. What do you say? ‘I popped up, should have cost the team a win, but he dropped it and we won’.

Rumor has it that the Five-time Wing Bowl champion Bill "El Wingador" Simmons will take on Jose Canseco in a boxing match. Just when you think that Jose can’t fall any lower this come to light. Guess his knee has recovered from getting pummeled by that large Korean dude.

Black Mamba Kobe Bryant and The Zen Master Phil Jackson along with the LA Lakers win the NBA Championship. Kobe gets #4 and first without Shaq, Phil gets his 10th and becomes the winningest coach in NBA history. ‘Zen-Sational’, ‘10-4 Ko-Jack’, ‘Shaq, tell me how my Brass Tastes’, ‘Kobe: I Did It My Way’, ‘4 for 24’ or maybe ‘Purple Reign’...and so on

It was reported that eight officers have suffered minor injuries during downtown disturbances that erupted amid street celebrations of the Lakers’ NBA championship victory over the Orlando Magic. Even if you lose there is not reason to act like a jackass. It makes less sense that if your team wins you hit the streets and instead of celebrating you decide to set fires, vandalize store fronts and throw rocks and bottles at police. Of the 18 people arrested 3 were juveniles.

Milton Bradley Losing the ball in the sun and it dropping in for a hit, then even better he forgot any math that he learned and thought there was 3 outs when there was only 2 and runners on base who came in to score. It was almost shocking that he didn’t have a huge Bradley style melt down.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


I will give credit where credit is due and congratulate the youngest captain to win the cup in Sidney Crosby and the rest of Pittsburgh Penguins on winning the Stanley Cup. Also the fact that he grabbed the Conference Trophy and was not concerned with avoiding it or some sort of voodoo thing was good to see. In one of the best post seasons for the NHL in many, many years and for the game to go to a 7th game that was decided by 1 goal, even a Red Wings fan must admit it was a good series. Perhaps they aren't happy with the outcome (and who could blame them) but as a hockey fan and a fan of the league nobody could have asked for more.

With that said there are a few things that have come up that have, i don’t want to say tainted but as shed a bit of a bad light on the whole thing. The fact that the Red Wings feel that Crosby snubbed Nick Lidstrom in shaking his hand is a bit of a concern. I will give Sid the benefit of the doubt it was his first time raising the cup he is still young one can forgive him for being a little excited and maybe not being as prompt with protocol as perhaps he should have been but this is pretty minor. No real harm, no real foul. What is more of a concern is the poor officiating that took place. The whistles went away and the standard that was supposed to be set was thrown out the window. This is one good reason why the Pens may have had a bit of an advantage because their less mobile players had an advantage when it came to interference, plus the fact that the Jonathan Ericsson penalty that was called for interference was only called once and turned out to be a turning point in the series. It also goes the other way where Johan Franzen’s hit on Crosby in the 2nd period of game 7 was interference and it tweaked Crosby’s knee and essentially knocked him out of the game and could have become a big deal had Pittsburgh lost. The NHL has got to decide on rules and stick with them...pass interference in the first quarter of a pre-season game in the NFL is also a pass interference in the 4th quarter of the Super bowl. Nobody wants it to go back to the way it was in the mid 90’s (except maybe the New Jersey Devils)

Friday, June 12, 2009

Fishing For A Championship

Derek Fisher once again did what he does and that is make clutch shots at clutch times. After slumping during the season and early in the playoffs and I guess even in game 4 last night it was great that Phil Jackson as well as his team still had faith in him. One could compare his shot in game 4 of the NBA Championships to any number of shots made in the past by other playoff magicians like Robert Horry...or Derek Fisher. For those who can remember it was Fisher who hit that amazing shot versus the Spurs with 0.3 seconds left in the game. This time Fisher had a little more time to work with and got a great assist from Jameer Nelson who’s terrible decision making and questionable defence allowed Fisher to make a shot he never should have even had a look at taking. That being said he hit it and forced the game to overtime. In overtime he also made a shot in the home stretch to seal the deal and put the Lakers in the drivers seat with 99-91 to capture a 15th NBA Championship. Kobe is still the straw that stirs the drink, Pau, Lamar and Trevor Ariza, are a great supporting cast members but it is Fishers calm and experience that helps bring the team together.
One can’t overlook either another major reason on why that shot was able to be made and that was the dreadful free throw shooting from the Magic. Between Hedo Turkoglu and Dwight Howard at the line, it opened up the door so wide for the Lakers to steal that game and effectively end the Magic’s season. Game 5 goes Sunday night and that could very well be the end of the line for the NBA season and the Gold and Purple can get ready for the parade.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Quick Hits

Buffalo Sabers owner Tom Golisano (67) is on my list as one cool guy. No it isn’t for his political dealings or his billions of dollars, or the fact that he owns a hockey team (though the money doesn’t hurt). No, it is the fact that he is reportedly with former tennis star Monica Seles (35). Asked if they were a pair, he wondered why reporters wanted to know but finally responded, "Monica and I see each other." ... She is looking great lately and seems to have a grip on the eating disorder she has struggled with in the past and that, that is just great.

Mike Tyson has been married for the third time. Tyson’s wedding comes less than two weeks after Tyson’s four-year-old daughter Exodus died tragically after accidentally hanging herself on a treadmill at her mother’s home.
I find this as an interesting time for these nuptials so soon after the tragedy with his young daughter. This may be a way to get some comfort and support from the situation or help in the healing and the grief but the timing seems quick. In any event best of luck to both him and his new bride.

The Blue Jays drafted a Canadian pitcher in the second round of the baseball draft. This could be a very good thing in terms of not only the ability of the player but the fact that they choose to grab a Canadian with a legitimate chance of becoming an above average player. This is both good for the team on the field as well as the team from a front office point of view. The Jays have had some Canadians in the lineup before but never a true star. Rob Ducey, Corey Koskie and Rob Butler are not headliners and truth be told Matt Stairs, though good is more of a journeyman. This pick could go a long way towards the Jays in fact becoming Canada’s Team by the fans and not just themselves.

Manchester United has accepted a transfer offer for Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid. on Thursday, This allows him to negotiate personal terms with the Spanish club. The Premier League champions received an unconditional offer of 80 million pounds (C$145.2 million) for Ronaldo. Kind of puts the Dany Heatley potential move seem a little less off putting from a numbers perspective. Then again it is Footy and who really cares.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Oh Dany Boy

So for a day that was supposed to be full of excitement and the potential to crown a champion it could not have fallen any shorter then what it did. There was bad news sprinkled in with worse news with a dash of terrible news. Just like they say, it came in 3’s.

First off the Pittsburgh Penguins decided not to roll over as they should have and won game 6 at home. Sure in a small way it is good to see a game 7 but now it looks like Pittsburgh is going to complete the comeback and take game 7 on the road in Detroit and become the Stanley Cup Champions. Not that I am cheering for one side over the other but more I didn’t want Pittsburgh to win. No real reason one way or another...just because.

2nd in the line of disappointments was the Magic-Lakers game. Again I was looking for LA to take a strangle hold on the series and basically put it out of reach with a win and go up 3-0. That didn’t happen and the Magic got right back into the mix as they held serve at home with a 4 point victory 108-104. The magic shot the ball with an unbelievable percentage throughout the game but it was also tight the whole way. If the Lakers can continue to play the team game they have been and Kobe manages to get out of the shooting slump he hit from the 2nd quarter through the end of the game.

Last and maybe the most difficult to swallow was the News that Dany Heatley has requested to be moved by the Ottawa Senators. It was like getting hit by a sledge hammer, running into a brick wall. Professional athletes often ask to be moved or request trades but this one is a little too close to home. If it was just about any other player I would not have an issue with it but we’re talking about Dany here. He is my favorite player on my favorite team and so I am doubly affected. My team takes a hit and now I am without a favorite player on the team. I will remain a Heatley fan, I was not just a fan because of the team but it sure made things a l lot easier. On the bright side I should be able to get a Heatley jersey on sale now. It is now up to Bryan Murray to work out a deal to bring in someone I can throw my weight behind and support, maybe I should be consulted on possible deal proposals.

To try and put a positive spin on this is that there is the potential for the team to get a new look and build in another direction and open up some space to be able to make some moves, whether it be through draft picks, prospects and/or an established player/players. If Murray can get a decent return then this could be a good thing for the TEAM going forward....but on a personal level, this sucks and I am now torn.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Best and Worst of the Weekend

Roger Federer wins 14th Grand Slam and completes the career grand Slam.
Can retire the voodoo doll of Rafael Nadal he recently had made.

The performance that the Penguins showed in game 5 in Detroit.
After getting shellacked 5-0 and looking completely outmatched they will need to do what they did in games 3 & 4 at home or summer will be coming earlier then expected.

Tiger Woods wins for the 4th time at Jack Nicklaus’s Memorial Tournament.
Not only did he come from well back but made yet another career shot in the process. The man must have ice water in his veins. Guess the cooling strip on those Gillette Fusion razor blades really are working for both him and Federer.

Bad luck on a yellow flag pit stop for Jimmie Johnson and a gamble on fuel by Tony Stewart shoved Jimmie to a 7th place finish at the 500 mile race at Pocono.
Jimmie had a dominant car and deserved the win. I would feel bad for him but I have seen the money he makes the 3 consecutive Cup Championships, being one of the best NASCAR drivers and of course I have seen his wife...now that I think of it, maybe I don’t like Jimmie anymore.

Best and Worst
Kobe and the Lakers defeated the Magic in Game 2 in overtime to take a 2-0 Lead in the series. Kobe is taking not only his leadership but also his play to another level. Not only is he a player he is a coach on the floor.
It was good to see a close fought basketball game but at times it was just dreadfully painful to watch how inept the teams were when shooting. Good defence is one thing but to not be able to hit open jump shots or layups as a professional basketball player should be more then a little embarrassing. Maybe it is just the culture where flash and street ball moves at the development level is more focused upon then fundamentals.

Brett Favre apparently has recently had arthroscopic surgery on his throwing shoulder, This could be a sign that the former Falcon, Packer and Jet is considering coming out of retirement.
Is this yet another case of Brett crying wolf? Usually it is a guys play at the end that tarnishes the legend or the legacy, not his soap opera style "will he or won’t he" saga that Brett seems to forever be in. I won’t be able to look at another pair of Wrangler Jeans the same again. At least when one of the top running backs left, Barry Sanders it was other people speculating that he would come back and not him but even that got old fast.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Historic Win - Federer The Best Ever?

Roger Federer’s win today at The French Open has probably solidified himself as the best tennis player of all time. He has tied the record for most Grand Slams in a career tying Peter Sampras with 14, in addition to that he became the 6th player in history to win a title at each of the 4 Grand Slams. He has been in the discussion for a long time, but right now, with this win over Robin Soderling you would be hard pressed to come up with an argument against him being designated as the best ever. His buddy Tiger Woods has 14 Majors he has 14 Majors coincidence? Probably but still cool.

In a match that he looked like he was always in control and the outcome not in doubt there was 1 brief moment when you thought that if anything was going to stop Roger it was going to be this incident. A knucklehead fan came out of the crowd and made a turn towards Federer. Roger backed away not knowing what to do or what was going on and more importantly what was going through the knucklehead fans mind. The guy took out a flag and began waving it. He was quickly grabbed but it at the very least shook up Federer or affected his concentration for a brief few moments. It was at that point the entire feel in the stadium changed. It could have gone off the tracks at that point but the mentally tough Federer managed to re focus and take control once again. It wasn’t until the last game that there was any real sign of emotion from the workmanlike performance from Roger. You could see him getting a little emotional knowing just how close he was to getting to his desired final goal.

Then it happened the ball from Soderling went into the net, Roger dropped to his knees and there were tears in his eyes that almost matched the rain that was now flowing from the sky. He had done it - 6-1, 7-6 (1), 6-4 a straight sets victory.Very rarely in a sports event does so many people root for and want 1 single person to succeed but that was clearly the case at Roland Garos, it was a pro Federer crowd that know that they had the chance to be part of history.
In a classy move during the speech Soderling congratulated Federer by saying "Roger, really, congrats to you," .... "You really gave me a lesson in how to play tennis today. And to me you're the greatest player in history. So you really deserved to win this title." and showing more humor and credit stated that "Yesterday, me and my coach were joking," Soderling told Federer during the trophy ceremony. "You've beaten me nine times in a row, and we were joking nobody can beat me 10 times in a row. But we were wrong."

With Rafael Nadal hurting and pulling out of the Wimbledon warm up tournament it could be the opening for Federer to look to surpass Sampras with win #15 and just how fitting would it be for it to happen in England at Wimbledon.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

A March To History?

The French Open may not have the storybook final that we all might want pitting Roger Federer against his nemesis Rafael Nadal who was eliminated in the fourth round but there is reason to watch. The player that ousted Nadal - Robin Soderling has made it to the finals in a run of epic proportions. If he is able to pull one more rabbit out of his hat and take out Federer it will be one of the greatest runs at the French Open, if not of all the majors ever.

That being said if Federer can manage to pull it all together and take this elusive title he will take that one big leap to becoming the greatest of all time and not only finally gather his own personal Grand Slam and bring him that 1 step closer to overtaking Peter Sampras’s record. A win will tie Sampras with 14 Grand Slams and make Federer only the 6th playerever to complete a career Grand Slam.

Soderling has done Federer a big favor in his defeat of Nadal but he can’t take anything for granted and not take the match lightly as Soderling has made it to the finals for a reason...he is playing some good tennis. Roger did make a major statement in his last tournament, a clay court tournament in which he won and proved that he can in fact win on this surface.

Nay sayers will tell you that a victory at Roland Garros for Federer should come with an astrix denoting that it was not earned versus Nadal and there for doesn’t carry the full weight or should not carry the same accolades but a Grand Slam title is still just that, a Grand Slam. Sunday will prove to be very interesting and history will be made one way or another but a Federer win could be the storey of the tennis year...except for Maria Sharapova coming back to competition.

Friday, June 05, 2009

A Great Halladay This Summer

With all the playoff fever of late and the ongoing Championships in both the NBA and NHL baseball has slid a bit under the radar. Once the two leagues crown the winners there will be a clear lull as far as sports goes and that will be baseballs time to shine and take a hold of the sports viewership. After all it is the Great American game, America’s Pass time and may well be one of the best sports out there. With that said, I would like to give the casual viewer something to keep an eye on and give out some credit where credit is most defiantly due to an under appreciated player:

He is probably the best, most durable, most dominant pitcher in baseball today. He is the throwback pitcher like they used to have in the game before specialization and lefty righty match ups became en vogue. He is the Doc.

Roy Halladay could very well be one of the most underrated pitchers in all of baseball. He consistently is either leading or at the top of the list when it comes to complete games on a yearly basis. His innings pitched and pitches thrown are among the league leaders as well. For lack of a better term he is a horse, the stud of the Blue Jays pitching staff. When he goes to the mound every 5th day you know that you are at the very least going to have a chance to win and that he is going to give you a quality start and save a few innings on your bullpen.

I find it a bit of a shame that he has not been given more to work with under JP Riccardi and the Jays organization over his time. Sure being in the East versus the Sox and the Yanks the hope of gaining a championship is next to impossible but it would be nice if he could get a little more of a reward or more recognition at least on a personal level. Sure he has won a Cy Young and is a front runner for one this year after a 9-1 start. He just doesn’t seem to get lumped into the same league with other top name pitchers despite probably being better. Halladay set a personal best of 14 strikeouts this week in a victory over the Angels and is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon. He is a pro’s pro - he even seemed to be one of the best pitching coaches since he had managed to turn around the often wandering attention and consistency of AJ Burnett

Jays fans know that Roy is Roy. I just hope that other baseball fans can appreciate him just as much.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Magic Show vs Late Show - Game 1 Set To Go

The Match up is set. The teams are ready. The players are hyped up and prepared for battle. The NHL is nervous. On the line - an NBA World Championship and a piece of history.

Game 1 is slated to get going at the Staples Center in LA- Home of the Lakers (even if there are no lakes anywhere near the place) at 8:30 on ABC. Which should be interesting to see how the ratings are on Versus for the Stanley Cup Finals after they were boasting on how well they did on NBC over the Weekend.

The Orlando Magic come into the series as the decided underdogs but after disposing of the Cavaliers is short time they are surely not to be taken lightly. This has all the makings of being a very fast paced series with a lot of quick transition play and even more 3pt shot attempts. One thing that these two teams can agree upon is that shooting 3’s is fun.

Which superstar will impose his will on the other team? Is Dwight Howard going to be Superman or Clark Kent? Is Kobe going to be the Black Mamba or play a more passive facilitator role and get his team involved first and then just pick his spots? I guess that is for the coached to decide.
That is another interesting match up, the Zen Master Phil Jackson who is very laid back and usually has little to say while on the court, saving is strategies for the locker room and Stan Van Gundy who is usually screeching at a level so high that only dogs can here him. So if the Magic look out of sorts at times it is probably because they missed the play call. These two coaches are the perfect 2 to play the NBA’s version of the odd couple, with their styles as different as night and day.

The Tomahawk Chop

It is a melancholy day to be an Atlanta Braves fan. The team made a good quality baseball move yesterday in acquiring Nate McLouth an All Star center fielder from the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Braves gave up 3 top prospects right-handed pitcher Charlie Morton, left-handed pitcher Jeff Locke and outfielder Gorkys Hernandez. More so in baseball then most other sports prospects are traded for established players so a good deep farm systems can go a long way towards improving your club without those young players ever playing for your team. It is said that the braves have a stockpile of pitching prospects in the minors and we all know that the Braves like their pitchers and that is the backbone of the organization. The Braves were in dyer need of some outfield help as Jeff Francoeur has been struggling, an aging Garrett Anderson is a tad inconsistent at this stage and young Jordan Schafer who is batting .204 and Gregor Blanco or Matt Diaz just weren’t the answer on an everyday basis. McLouth was solid last year and is only 27 and should help out both with his glove and is bat (especially if he has Chipper Jones protecting him in the lineup). He has solid starts this year batting only .256 but with good run production with 9 home runs and 34 RBI.

The worst part of this deal by far was what they had to do to seemingly make it work cost wise and what thy had to give up, and that was not the 3 prospects. In a move that was announced prior to the acquisition of McLouth was that future Hall of Fame lock and long time favorite Tom Glavine was released from the organization. Glavine was just finishing up a rehab stint in Class A Rome and ready to join the team when he was let go. I am sure that it was a money issue at least in part. I don’t mind that they decided to let Glavine go, I mean he is 43 and not the Glavine of old. The Braves under former GM John Schuerholz were known for making moves with star and well liked players while they still had 1 good year left rather then stay 1 year too long, I just don’t like the timing. A guy works that hard to rehab and get to a point where he can get back to the major league level only to be told that instead of getting a start he is getting the boot. It is also a bit annoying that the team seemed to stick with former player Mike Hampton over various seasons full of injuries and arm trouble while he was basically stealing money from the team where a pillar and icon like Glavine was escorted out unceremoniously.
I guess you always must say goodbye at some point. We went through it when Glavine left the first time when he joined the Mets but after Greg Maddux left and John Smoltz left, Glavine came back and it was supposed to be a nice homecoming and allowing him to go out as a Brave, that seems to be in doubt as it looks like he wants to continue in his comeback.

All in all I hope that Glavine does well with whatever he does or where ever he goes and at the very least see him go into the Hall with an A on his cap.
In turn I hope that Nate McLouth can slide into the Atlanta lineup and get them going and make a run towards the top of the division.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Rodney Dangerfield Gets More Respect Then The NHL

Could you ask for any less respect then what NBC is giving/has given to the NHL and the Stanley Cup Playoffs? They force the league to play 2 games back to back for the first time since the 1950’s. They have them start the series with virtually no rest for the teams who earned the right to play for the cup. They only show the first 2 games at which point they decide to hand over the broadcast to Versus for games 3 and 4. These are usually critical games when trying to decide a champion so one would think they would want to show that. Being on Versus where all year they struggled to get people to tune in. 1) because it was hard to find and 2) because it was so limited to how many subscribers actually had access to the channel through their cable or satellite providers.

While game 3 was being played, somewhere in the states on a channel nobody knows exists NBC was airing an episode of "I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here" and a non time sensitive special on Inside the Obama White House. NBC can not claim that it had any better programming that forced the games out of a prime time network time slot, there was no need for these shows to be on instead. They caught a break that Pittsburgh won game 3 and prolonged the series at lest enough for one more weekend broadcast.

Can you imagine if FOX decided to put the World Series on FX because they wanted to show an episode of "I Want To Mary A Millionaire" and an old rerun episode of the X-files. People would be up in arms. Maybe if CBS decided to put the Super Bowl on the Food Network instead (football... tail gating it is a perfect mix). It would never happen. Partly because the leagues wouldn’t bend over like the NHL does, actually respects the league and the game and because they actually pay to broadcast these games where as the NHL gets virtually no money and little or no exposure from NBC and Versus coverage. For the greater good it looks like the league needs to go crawling back to ESPN and pray that they can get something...anything and not come out looking like amateurs.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

On the WINGS not a Prayer

The Detroit Red Wings may be considered as a modern day version of a dynasty. Now I am not handing the Championship to them and I may not be a big fan of the them and I am far from wishing or rooting for a victory but I am about giving credit where credit is due. They are looking like the NHL’s version of the New England Patriots, not only for the titles but the way they do business. If you look at New England they keep loosing players not only due to salary cap reasons but also due to injuries. What happens when top players get hurt? They plug in someone that you have never heard of before and then all of a sudden that person doesn’t skip a beat and there is a seamless transition from backup to starter. It happened when Tom Brady came in for an injured Drew Bledsoe it happened when nearly their entire secondary went down and they even had to turn to a wide receiver to play cornerback and he was as good or better then what half the teams had as starters.

That is the same deal in the Motor City (that was not a shot at GM, that isn’t good for anybody...back to sports) You lose your captain and one of the best defencemen of all time for a few games, just throw out a 45+ year old Chris Chelios or Jonathan Ericsson fresh off of an appendectomy 3 days prior to going back into the lineup to eat some minutes, Without a grinding forward like Kris Draper, lets throw rookie Justin Abdelkader into the fire after like 3 game played in the NHL regular season. Hey a potential MVP candidate in the past and one of the best 2 way forwards in the game Pavel Datsyuk hurts his foot and can’t play...OK that is just too much to overcome. Oooppps nope ... we will put the speedy firecracker Darren Helm out and have him play huge minutes in key situations. Helm could walk into camp next season with 2 Stanley cup Rings and still be up for the Calder trophy for Rookie of the Year. Sic.

It is with that kind of depth and incredible team standards they are by far the best run club right now. Sure that doesn’t make them a lock to win the cup, far from it, but it does put them head and shoulders above any other club in the NHL right now from the ice to the front office.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Best and Worst of the Weekend

The Montreal Canadians have decided on a new coach and it is former Sens bench boss Jacques Martin. This is a great decision for the Sens. That’s right the Sens, maybe not so much for the Habs. Since there are rarely trades among division rivals and Martin is no longer GM in Florida where he never seemed warm to dealings with Ottawa after he was relieved of duty here. Now maybe that opens up another trading partner for Bryan Murray

Detroit won the first 2 games at home in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
This is only bad for 2 reasons:
a) There are only a possible 5 more game maximum left before the season is done.
b) If Pittsburgh doesn’t win Tuesday night then it is very likely that there will only be 2 more games and a sweep for Detroit....meaning even less hockey.
The first 2 games have been played at a high pace with great physical play. Maybe a few penalties could be called, a penalty in game 30 should still be a penalty in the Championship Finals.
Orlando upset Cleveland in the NBA Conference finals knocking out LeBron James and taking away a Kobe-LeBron showdown. This is far from the best for David Stern and the league as far as ratings go but it was funny to see LeBron walk off the court-not shake hands-ditch the media and walk out to the bus with his headphones on.
Also, the chance for Kobe to win a championship without Shaq and get the "taste of ass" out of his mouth.

Canada’s Aleksandra Wozniak’sr run at the French Open ended on a loss to second-seeded Serena Williams. Since I have little or no use for Serena I would have loved to see that upset. I have no problem with sister Venus but Serena just seems to complain a lot and comes off a little snarky.
Earlier in march there was an epic basketball game with Syracuse and UCONN that went to 6 over times. When I was down there on Campus a week or so later everyone was wearing Marathon Men Shirts. Well as it turns out they may have to forfeit their crown to the Texas Longhorns baseball team. The Longhorns ended up on the winning end of a 25 inning game versus the Boston College Golden Eagles in the College World Series. The final was 3-2 and was the longest game ever played in NCAA history. I guess that would be considered a pitchers dual. The game started at 6:02 p.m. Saturday and ended 7 hours and 3 minutes later at 1:05 am Sunday. The crowd observed three 7th inning stretches. Texas reliever Austin Wood went 12 1/3 innings without allowing a hit - his pitch count was 169, including 120 strikes.

Footy, aka Kickball, aka Soccer was played somewhere and it was televised, some people actually watched.