Friday, July 31, 2009

Lakers In The Primetime Era?

First it was Showtime led by Magic, then The Late Show with Kobe and Shaq and now maybe it will be Primetime with Kobe, Gasol and Lamar Odom. Looks like Lamar is staying with the Los Angeles Lakers. This is probably the best case scenario for all involved. Odom appears ready to sign a four-year deal worth $33 million, with the fourth year at the Lakers’ option. After watching last years playoffs Odom made himself a very important member of the team and allows for some potential match up problems when playing other teams. Lamar Odom as a Laker greatly increase their chances of repeating as champs tremendously. He is a big man who is strong enough to play against a power forward but is quick enough to guard a smaller player as well. Odom is a good ball handler and can jack up a 3 ball if need be or go down in the post and grab you a rebound or post up.

Him going back to LA gives the Lakers so many more options and so much more versatility and has to make them one of the favorites to win the NBA Championship and have a chance to repeat. With a core that has Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, Ron Artest and Odom they are set up well. It will be interesting to see if the loss of Trevor Ariza and the addition of Ron Artest makes a difference one way or another. Ariza may be better offensively but played good D, Artest is a lock down defensive player who can score if called upon. The bonus of having Ron Ron instead is that he can play the role of stopper which frees up Kobe to focus on scoring and distributing while helping keep him fresher (he has a lot of miles on those legs already).

It will be interesting to see how things progress involving the other teams in the league. The Cav’s added Shaq, always interesting when there is a chance that Kobe and Shaq will meet up, The Celtics look interesting if KG can return, Orlando is still strong but what will Vince do? Toronto made major moves but it is doubtful that they will get to that class, even with Hedo Turkoglu. San Antonio got sneaky good bringing in Richard Jefferson (100+ pounds lighter after dropping his fiance late in the 4th quarter) There is an array of teams in the West that could be good just because they are in the West.

LA is poised for a good run at least but they do need to get as far a possible away from Adam Morrison. It is just not right that he have any championship rings when Barkley, Reggie and Malone not have one. At the very least someone buy him a bic or a Mach 3 Turbo to get rid of that terrible joke of a 'stache.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Return Of A Champion

Not sure how many people saw the crash last week involving Felipe Massa, the F1 driver for Ferrari but it was not pretty. A piece of debris hit him in the head while driving on the track. Thankfully there have been great strides made to safety involving the cars and innovations in regards to the helmets. After being hit he lost control and the car ran into a tire barrier that was 5 or 6 tires deep, crumpling the car. It appears that Massa will be ok but does have an eye injury that may prevent him from driving again.

In the short term it looks like former world champion and Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher will temporarily end his retirement and fill in in that seat.
"The Formula One chapter has been completely closed for me for a long time," Schumacher said in a statement Wednesday. "But for reasons of loyalty to the team, I cannot ignore this unfortunate situation. As the competitor, I am very much looking forward to facing this."
The only reason that I ever watched F1 was to see Schumacher dominate the F1 ranks and cruise to championships (Schumacher is a seven-time F1 champion, winning five consecutive titles for Ferrari from 2000 through 2004 - 91 victories and 154 podium finishes) . As I have mentioned before I admire greatness in sports and when someone is that good and that dominant it is great to see. A lot of people don’t like that and would prefer parody but I choose greatness over mediocrity. Now I will be the first to admit that maybe the reported $80 million a year in the last five seasons at Ferrari was pretty excessive and made him probably the highest paid athlete in the world but no one can argue with results. There is a lot of money in F1 and I suppose by comparison his salary makes some sense. Sure there are people out there that say that it is more the car then Shumi but they have not dominated the sport since he gave up his seat. Just like Jimmie Johnson, people say that it is the car that is the athlete not the driver, in some cases that may be true but putting Casey Mears into the 48 Lowes probably doesn’t win 3 consecutive Championships.
It will be interesting to see how Schumacher responds after such a long layoff. Is this going to be like Michael Jordan coming back to the Bulls the first time to still be the greatest or will he be Michael Jordan coming back as a Washington Bullet errr, Wizard. We will see during a Grand Prix coming to a major European City near you.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Art Of The Trade Deadline

The baseball trade deadline is fast approaching, but does it really mean anything? This is more of a suggested deadline but isn’t a drop dead date. Deals done before Friday can go through as any normal trade would. This is just the non-waiver trade deadline. Deals can still be made later on, provided the players clear waivers. The true deadline comes later in August when deals have to be completed in order for the players who are moved are eligible to play in the post season.

It is interesting how much different the emphasis is between the major sports as it relates to trades and trade deadline day.

MLB - In baseball there is a bit of movement usually. Deals are done primarily with 1 prominent player in the last year of a contract being moved to help a team either win a division or solidify a team that is assured a post season appearance. The asking is almost always top prospects (or package of prospects) not too often are Major League ready players exchanged for each other.

NBA- In basketball is either feast or famine at trade deadline day. With the salary cap the way it is only minor deals are made but there is the occasional huge deal that will go down. Of those big deals they are so complicated that you need a calculus degree to figure it out -" I’ll trade you my guy with no Bird rights, for your player without Bird rights a second round pick and my small forward who is retired, but I will also give you $8 million so you can buy him out and that will give us enough cap space for a mid level exception player this year and max out my star next year and you get Keith Van Horn". Not a lot of draft picks are involved in deadline deals in the NBA.

NFL - In football there is nearly no deals that are made, there is almost no reason to have a trade deadline. The only one I recall in the recent past was the deal that sent WR Roy Williams to Dallas from Detroit. The way the cap is set up and the non guaranteed contracts make it far less important and far more difficult to pull off a deal for any player as most funds are allocated by July and there just isn’t room to deal.

NHL- In hockey it is one of the must see events- it should almost be a national holiday in Canada anyway. It is all hands on deck, tv stations dedicate a day to programming and breaking anything that might even be possible or probable. These are almost all for rental players to help a team make a run not just for the Cup but in some cases just to make the playoffs because they need to try and keep their team afloat in the "non traditional" hockey markets. Nothing is off limits- players for players, prospects, draft picks and sometimes for that much needed bag of pucks.

Each league has different ideals and how valuable is a player? How valuable is a top prospect? How valuable is a draft pick? Do I try to win now by mortgaging the future or do I hold onto the unproven guy who may become a superstar or may never crack my lineup.
By this Friday we will know what some baseball GM’s have decided what is more important.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Superman Does It Again

Superman? that may still be debatable but they may be in the same class. Mark Martin seems to think so. Martin’s Hendrick Racing teammate, Jimmie Johnson, once again proved why he is the 3 time defending NASCAR Sprint/Nextel/Winston Cup Series (or whatever the official sponsor is right now) Champion. At the storied Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis it was a familiar name at the end of the day atop of the leader board. Jimmie became the first driver to go back to back at the Brickyard 400. Yet another chapter in the novel that Johnson is writing on the track in attempt to become one of the best of all time - The Legacy and the Legend.

Johnson, even without the beard that he has been sporting for the better part of the year, grabbed an improbable victory at Indianapolis Motor Speedway when a speeding penalty to Juan Pablo Montoya ruined the day for the most dominant car in the field. Juan Pablo was so upset during the next caution that he told his crew chief...and anyone else who was monitoring his radio "I swear on my children and my wife that I was not speeding!" he shouted over his radio. "There is no way! Thank you NASCAR for screwing my day." Sounds to me like someone who was pretty sure that he thought he was in the right but I guess he misread his tachometer . Not only did that miscue cost him near certain victory but it also dinged him in the pocket book which probably hurts nearly as much. At $223,953. It was the most expensive speeding ticket in NASCAR history: Jimmie earned $448,001 for the victory, while Montoya, who fell to 11th-place had to settle for a mere $224,048. Yeah I know it is all relative, 200k is nothing to shake a stick, but even in NASCAR world that is still a big loss.

You almost get the sense that Jimmie won’t get the true recognition that he deserves until after he is done driving. It seems like he doesn’t get the respect that he deserves as a driver nor does Chad Knaus get as his crew chief. With the records and resume that both these guys are putting together you would think that they would get more national publicity. Maybe it is because it is a NASCAR thing. Tennis has Federer, Golf has Tiger still just isn’t the same recognition for Jimmie.

Friday, July 24, 2009

A Wise Decision - Burhle Throws a Perfect game

Manager Ozzie Guillen looked like a genius when he decided to put in Dewayne Wise as a defensive replacement for the 9th inning of yesterdays game. Bringing in a good defensive player into the game is not uncommon in baseball, but this was perhaps the most important move in quite some time considering the situation.

The White Sox starter Mark Buehrle was in the midst of going for history when he took a Perfect game into the 9th. The first batter, Gabe Kapler hit a shot to deep center, Wise went back to the the wall...lept...grabbed the ball and brought it back from over the wall..jarring the ball loose from his glove, and grabbed it with his throwing hand as he fell to the ground. To come in cold and under that pressure and knowing what was on the line to make that play makes it just that much more impressive - one of the all time great grabs. I guess that is what a defensive replacement is supposed to do.


Mark Buehrle threw the second no-hitter of his career, this time perfection.
More people have walked on the moon in the last 40 years then thrown a perfect game. Only 18 perfect games have been thrown and 2 of them were in that late 1800’s. It is true that when a pitcher throws a perfect game, it is the team that plays a perfect game. The catcher has to call a perfect game and I guess Ramón Castro did just that. It takes no walks, no errors, and usually involves one or more great defensive plays. Sometimes that happens late when you know it is a big deal, sometimes it is in the first inning and you don’t know how important it is until after. A great example of this is the grab that Paul O’Neil made in the first to preserve David Cone’s perfect game.

Since Buehrle had been there before he seemed to be more at ease with the situation as he was seen talking to teammate Jim Thome in the dugout. Often in no-hit situations teammates won’t go near a guy with a no-no on the line... baseball players are some of the most superstitious in all sports.

To top it all off President Barack Obama, a very open White Sox Fan, called and gave some advice for Chicago White Sox White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle - Buy your center fielder a "big steak dinner." Obama called Buehrle from Air Force One.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The CFL - Is It Un-Canadian To Not Care Much About This?

The CFL is far from my favorite sports league. I know that it is not the NFL and never will be nor can it be viewed in the same way. I have been a season ticket holder in the past when the Renegades were still in Ottawa but even that didn’t make me a huge fan of the game. I enjoyed going to the games and the atmosphere more then the game itself.

I don’t agree and in some cases understand a bunch of the rules, some of the scoring, tactics and the way they operate the clock. It makes it very difficult to actually enjoy the game as being football. I know that the caliber of play won’t be as high but sometimes it looks like a CIS game would be played at a higher level. Just saying that sometime the execution of plays is severely lacking. I find the sport to be more interesting for 1 week a year and that is Grey Cup time in November. 1 game That’s about it.

In this league it seems like there is more turnover then any other league making it very hard to be a casual fan. So many players change teams or leave the league or come back to the league that it is hard to associate them with a team. Outside a few top line players there just aren’t any household names making it hard to root for them. That was made even more difficult this past week when they went retro. All the teams broke out the old style jerseys that was really more confusing then anything else. The Toronto Argo’s were the only team that had players names on the back. When you hardly know the players to begin with that is a big disservice to the viewers. When you do it so early in the season as well, even an avid fan won’t know a lot of the numbers and would be hard pressed to know who is who. Another sticking point to this is the fact that a lot of the uniforms were such a far cry from what they are now you would have no idea what 2 teams were playing. There were some logo’s that most people have never seen before. You wouldn’t know if it was Montreal or Calgary playing.

Sure they may go Retro to sell some more jerseys and merchandise but really, when was the last time you were walking down the street and saw someone wearing a CFL jersey? Unless you are in Edmonton or Saskatchewan chances are you won’t. A retro jersey is not going to motivate too many people to go "Cool, I gotta have me that sharp Alouettes throwback!!"

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Erin Andrews - A Victim Of Beauty

In a sad commentary about today’s society there has apparently been a great injustice done against a very popular sports "celebrity". ESPN reporter Erin Andrews was secretly videotaped in the nude while she was alone in a hotel room and the video was posted on the Internet, Andrews was reportedly filmed by a peephole spy camera . The blurry, five-minute video shows a nude blond woman standing in front of a hotel room mirror. It was confirmed by the network and her attorneys that it was in fact Andrews. The violation of her privacy that was unknowingly recorded and the video uploaded has since removed from most video sharing sites but which continues to live in a cached version on the Web, and has topped Google searches for the last few days.

Andrews plans to seek criminal charges and file civil lawsuits against the unknown cameraman and anyone who publishes the material. Her attorney has stated "While alone in the privacy of her hotel room, Erin Andrews was surreptitiously videotaped without her knowledge or consent," "She was the victim of a crime and is taking action to protect herself and help ensure that others are not similarly violated in the future."

Erin is one of the most popular and recognizable people at ESPN and has been referred to as "Erin Pageviews" for the amount of attention she gets from photo’s and video clips. She was a A former dance team member at the University of Florida and has been named by Playboy as the "sexiest sportscaster" in both 2008 and 2009.

To be honest I am both a fan of her and her work, and why not? She is a beautiful woman but also she is very good at what she does for ESPN as a sideline reporter. I feel bad that she was put into this situation. Sure she may use her sex appeal to help et ratings in her work covering sports but that is no reason for her to be subjected to all this. Just because she is popular and sexy that she doesn’t have some right to privacy.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Fairytale That Almost Was

There was no fairy tale ending. But what a buildup. It was a close to a made for TV movie as anything in recent memory.. It was on par to be one of the best stories that sports has seen in quite some time, and probably in the top 3 of greatest in golf. A 59 year old making a run at one of golfs biggest tournaments and not just a run but 2 shots from being crowned the champion. Tom Watson, an 8 time Major Champion carried a 1 shot lead into the final hole at The Open Championship. All Watson needed was a par on the last hole and he could have done what no one could have ever imagined that he or anyone else of that age could do. He hit a perfect shot into the center of the fairway and was in a perfect position to make his par and get his name engraved onto the Claret Jug . His second shot went threw the green and into the first cut of ruff. He needed to get up and down in 2 and the tournament was his. What happened next was just gut wrenching for not only Watson but everyone on the course and millions watching on TV. The tone of all the announcers was that it was a forgone conclusion that Watson was going to win. A marketable put was wide and short and never had a chance to drop. That bogey dropped Watson to a tie with eventual winner Stewart Cink at -2. The tournament wrapped up without much drama as Cink took control of the 4 shot playoff early and Watson could never really recover.

In a tournament that was in need of a great story for the weekend got just that. Tiger Woods missed the cut for only the 2nd time in 49 Majors (the only other one was after the passing of his father). Without the #1 player in the world there was some worry that ratings would be low without his star power and also no Mickleson in the field, Watson more then made up for it.
I find it kind of funny that the 2 biggest stories of the tourney were 2 let downs - Watson and Tiger, not the winner who played some good golf, I mean he must have he won.

It is a weird situation right now, and I feel almost as bad for Cink as I do for Watson. Cink, who has never one a major before yesterday is now a Champion (which no one can take away from him, but how he and it will be remembered will be interesting. Will he be the guy that took the Open from Watson. It will be the tournament that Watson almost won not the tournament that Cink did win. They always say that you never remember who comes second...this might be the one very rare exception that that is not true.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Let The Rebuild Begin

The Toronto Maple Leafs are very close to the New York Yankees in the list of professional teams that I just have little or no use for. The coverage that they get in the media and the fans that they have don’t help their cause. I think that it is actually the fans that I have more of a problem with then the team itself. If they weren’t so ignorant and self-righteous I may not have the same destine for them. In an effort to be unbiased I am going to give credit where credit is due. Brian Burke has come in and put his stamp on the team in a very short period of time.

Pierre McGuire has said many times that this would be close to a 5 year re-build but in this cap system I am thinking that it may take far less time then that and they look to be off to a running start, especially when you have a little extra money to play with. Despite the fact that they currently have little or no one that can put the puck in the net they also won’t be allowing too many in their own. It may come down to a lot of 2-1 losses and/or shootout games. So far in just 1 off season they have done a great job at building from the goal out. They have 2 solid options in goal with Vessa Toskala and Jonas Gustavsson that can split time and add a good level of competition between the two tenders for the number 1 job.

They currently have 9 + guys on defence and will have to whiddle that down to probably 7 so some of those guys may be available in deals that can acquire something up front that can step in and help out the offence. The pickups of: Francois Beauchemin, Michael Komisarek and Garnet Exelby add size and solid play. When you add in Jeff Finger, Tomas Kaberle, Luke Schenn, Ian White, Mike Van Ryn, Jay Harrison and Anton Stralman you have formidable back end.

Right now there is little or nothing in the cupboard up front in either the minors or on the roster. the Colton Orr pick up clearly does not fill that need but there are pieces in play that could be added through trade or a mid level free agent move. Don’t look for Jason Blake Alexei Ponikarovsky or Matt Stajan to become dynamic scorers anytime soon. They have already signed their first round pick from this year in Nazem Kadri.

I still hate those dirty Leafs, but again, coming from a neutral position you have to give ol’ Burkey at least a head nod for a good step forward. It makes you wonder how just about every other regime since ‘67 could have been so inept.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Technical Foul? At Second Glance, Maybe Not

Is he the Runaway Groom? Depends on who and what you want to believe.

As it was first reported, former New Jersey Nets and San Antonio Spurs forward Richard Jefferson decided that ~maybe I don’t want to get married~ so then he let his fiancé Kesha Ni’Cole Nichols know about his decision just hours before they were to exchange wedding vows. She immediately called her family and friends Jefferson choose a different approach and kept quiet for a while. Some of his friends had already shown up last Saturday for the $2 million spread. As a make up he reportedly gave his best friend his Black Amex (credit card) for the night and his guests made good use of the credit card to party at his expense.
According to reports the would-be bride was stunned, but "not entirely caught off-guard," said a friend of the family.

"She just wants to keep this as quiet as possible and move on. She’s doing just fine," a Nichols family insider this point I don’t think that that is going to happen. You gotta feel for this lady, at least a little bit.

Jefferson now has come out to clarify that he had called things off the Monday prior and emails were sent out to his people on the Monday and her people Tuesday. He made it clear that the wedding was not actually going to cost the reported amount but he did give her money to start over. He said that it was not a settlement but a gift because he felt like it was something that he wanted to do not something he had to do. I am sure there is some truth to one side and some truth to the other. It is easier to indict a player before he has time to get the truth out because it is easy to believe that a rich person is more capable of thinking that he is bigger then he is or can just do as he pleases.

I guess in the grand scheme of things even if it wasn't $2 million up front it was probably an expensive affair that was planned...whatever the figure was, for a wedding that didn’t happen is still cheaper and less painful then a divorce later down the line. All the press now is bad but would be even more intense with people saying that it is just another athlete who can't have a successful marriage or was spoiled and even more rumors would probably be spread. One can argue that he could have handled the situation a little better but he had no way of thinking that there would be such a firestorm.
A belated congratulation is extended to Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox. Bobby recently won his 2000th game as a manager of the Braves over 2 stints in Atlanta. He also has over 350 wins from with his time leading the Blue Jays in the mid 80’s. Cox managed the Braves through their historic run of 14 consecutive division titles and guided then to a World Series Title. Bobby is clearly a players coach, hence him being able to have such longevity with one team. If nothing else he will stand up for his team and its players as he holds the all-time record for ejections in Major League Baseball with 145.

Cox currently ranks 4th on the Baseball All-time Managerial Wins list behind only Connie Mack 3,731, John McGraw 2,763 and Tony La Russa 2,500 and just above Joe Torre. Bobby has been named Manager of the Year four times (1985, 1991, 2004, and 2005) and is one of only four managers to have won the award in both the American and National League.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

All Star Games - Good, Bad or Ugly?

Last night Major League baseball held the Home Run Derby as part of their All Star Festivities. An event that is really not as exciting as one would hope, even with Chris Berman’s "Back, Back, Back, Back, Back, Back...Gone". Sure there have been a few memorable moments in the past. The Josh Hamilton show that he put on last year was a treat when he just went off for 28 in one round, Bobby Abreau who lit it up for 41 and last night when Prince Fielder, the winner, who slugged one 503ft. Other then that there isn’t a lot to it. It is just glorified batting practice. It would be cool to be in the bleachers in person for the event but it doesn’t really play that great on TV. It is way more pageantry then anything else. They even went old school Fox and had the electronic trailer on some of the balls hit to track the flight.

Truly the highlight of the show wasn’t even the Home Runs, it was Erin Andrews, sideline reporter for ESPN doing interviews with competitors and other Major Leaguers. I must say she is very talented in what she does. I would classify myself as a fan. Yet another reason why we should be able to have the opportunity to get ESPN and other American stations like Fox Sports and the like.

All the major North American sports have bits and pieces that are great about their All Star Breaks but none have the whole package.
Baseball has the best game and the most true to an actual game. The game just lends itself well to being able to play at a high level where there is much less chance of someone getting injured. There "skills event", the HR Derby is where they fall short.
Basketball would rank at the second closest to actual game play but it is more a show time atmosphere where there is little or no defence and a lot of over passing and show time- ally-oop style play. Occasionally you might get a moderate 4th quarter if it is still close but it is still a far cry from 100%. There Skills competition is by far the best because basketball lends itself well to their fundamentals being shown in a showcase form and the Slam Dunk Competition is still enjoyable to watch. There guys are so athletic that it makes for an entertaining show.
Hockey may look like hockey light there is a lot of free skating but there is no edge because of the risk of injury. With the fact that there is a goalie and guys with sticks it is still difficult to do anything spectacular. There same criticism goes for their skills night. Even the breakaway challenge is boring and that is the most exciting part of actual games during the regular season...if there is nothing on the line the interest just isn’t there.
Football is just brutal. Always has been always will be. It is strictly a vacation to the players and nothing more. It is a violent game that played at less then 100% is more dangerous then at full speed.

Tonight is the game and hopefully it will be some what entertaining. The president will be there to throw out the first pitch which is always interesting to see if he will throw a strike or not. Fortunately it is on Fox and we get to hear Joe Buck call the play-by-play and interview the President Barack Obama. Unfortunately it is on Fox and we have to hear Tim McCarver provide colour and there will be no Erin Andrews, just Ken Rosenthal.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Just Call Him The Machine

In honour of The MLB All Star Game I think it should be brought to the fore front the greatest player in the game Albert Pujols. Pujols was voted to be the starter at 1st base for the National League in his hometown in St Louis. In addition he has also been chosen to be the player to catch the first pitch by President Barack Obama ...not too shabby. Doesn’t hurt that he is ripping it up in the first half. (73 runs, 102 hits, 32 HR, 87 RBI, 10 SB, and a .322 AVG and .723 SLG). Those are just this years half season numbers, at least 85% of players would take those numbers for a full season. He is a former World Champion, gets along with the media and is a fan favorite (which is more then what can be said by some of the other "stars") and also holds a Gold Glove award. Just goes to show you that he is not just a one trick pony, he is an all around great player.

When all is said and done there is a good chance that we will be able to look back and say that Albert Pujols was the greatest slugger of his era. It is too bad that it will probably be grouped into the steroid era but maybe that makes it even more impressive as long as he stays out of the steroid cloud. You don’t want to come out and say that this is the one guy who is doing it clean because we have been saying that for years then are shocked when "anonymous" tests are leaked to the media but of all the people in the game we want to believe that Pujols is doing it the right way. If in fact he is clean, as most believe that he is, he has a chance of going down as one of the true greats. Over the course of his first 9 seasons he has continued to throw up gaudy numbers and not just in one category. He is an all around hitter, he hits for Average, Power and RBI Production. Nothing proves this more then his numbers from this year. At the All Star break his has a legitimate chance of taking a run at the triple crown (leading his league in average, RBI and home runs). The last time that has happened was 1967 when Carl Yastrzemski managed the feat.

He is so good that almost every time you hear his name on the radio or on TV during the highlights the announcers always say "Why do they keep pitching to this guy??" The guy is a machine (as seen in this SportsCentre commercial ). That is a good question, I hate seeing players intentionally walked all the time like Barry Bonds did when he was hitting everything in sight but the comes a point when you just can’t justify having this guy beat you every night. It should be that if you can’t get the guy out, get someone who can, but it isn’t that simple apparently. I suppose that the main problem with that plan is that there doesn’t seem to anyone out there who is up to that daunting task. You can’t really stop him you can merely hope to contain him. As Dan Patrick says that only way he can be stopped is with a shot gun and league rules frown upon that.

Fans are in for a treat every time he comes to the plate. If he makes a run for the triple crown then you will start seeing cut ins on other sports every time Albert Pujols steps to the plate.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Thunder Rolls - RIP Arturo Gatti

It came a some very shocking news that yet another celebrity has died and in terms of the sports scene the deaths have a lot of intrigue. It was bad and shocking when Farrah, Billy Mays and MJ but all seemed to die because of health. Arturo "Thunder" Gatti and Steve McNair are sports stars who have been involved in some foul play. Both were know for being warriors in their respective sports and both were involved with young women who may have been involved in their deaths. McNair looked to be murdered by his 20yr old girlfriend (who apparently then turned that gun on herself in a murder suicide). Gatti's wife 23 is being held after there were inconsistencies in her story including how she and he young child were in the hotel room with Gatti for 10 hours and didn't notice that he was already dead. Thankfully the couples young son was not harmed and has been put in the custody of Gatti's wife's sister. It is sad that these two young men have been taken out at such young ages.

It has been reported that Gatti may have been strangled by a purse strap and had a noticeable trauma to the head. A family friend has stated that he knew there were issues between the two and the couple may have been close to separating. Details are still coming but it is looking like there is a lot foul play in sports deaths lately.

Gatti was known not for his technical boxing style but for being a warrior in the ring. He was a boxer who would stand in and take a beating and take hit after hit. He would have been glad to have taken 10 shots to the head or more just for the chance to maybe get one in. The Boxer who was raised in Montreal was known and revered in both his hometown as well as his adopted home in New Jersey. There was always a home court advantage anytime there was a fight in Atlantic City, he was their boy.

Never one to shy away from a fight he was most known for putting his Granite like chin out there in an epic trilogy versus Micky Ward. That branded him as one of the most exciting fighters of his generation. He retired in 2007 with a record of 40-9 with 31 KO.

There are still many questions that need to be answered but it is clear that there is more to this storey and it will be interesting to see what comes out over the next little while.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Around The Horn

Michael Jackson apparently would stay at Shaq’s House when he was in the ares. The house is 67,000sq ft. It was so big that it could hold MJ’s entire entourage and you wouldn’t even know they were there.

Cubs pitcher and Canadian Ryan Dempster broke is toe on the field a few days ago. No it wasn’t kicking out the leg to stop the ball from going into centre field like he was Roberto Luongo...nope he broke it jumping over the railing of the dugout in celebration of a Cubs win. Sometimes it is the stupidest things that can take you out of the lineup.

Washington Nationals broadcaster Rob Dibble unloaded on the team saying This isn’t a Major League baseball team I’m watching out here....It’s pathetic. I’ve never seen a team that is ok with losing....Some guys are mailing it in, and it’s hard to watch.". Not taking the "Homer" approach to telecasts. If anyone in DC cared about the team he could have be in trouble....good thing he isn’t a Cubs broadcaster.

Blue Jays cut ties with BJ Ryan, on the hook for some $15mil. It would appear that no one had any interest in his services especially Cito Gaston. After having to swallow that much money maybe it opens the Jays minds to rid themselves of Roy Halladay and Vernon Wells’ contracts in a deal like what the Marlins and Red Sox did in the Josh Beckett-Mike Lowell deal...Want one? gotta take both.

Xavier guard Jordan Crawford apparently dunked over "The King" LeBron James at his camp. Nike reportedly confiscated videos of the dunk. Is this worse PR then him not shaking hands? Could have been a good commercial, they choose to take it another direction.

OAKVILLE, ON. - John Daly is coming to the Canadian Open. The Beer Store has been put on alert and Casino Rama has been notified.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

The Underrated All Star

I know what you are thinking, but no this is not about Roy Halladay, this is about the National League's representative to have this title. Tim Lincecum. This is one special pitcher and one to watch for many years to come. I don't know if this helps or hurts him but he is a dead ringer for 2 other young up-and-coming-stars - Mitch Kramer (from Dazed and Confused) and Kelly Leak (from The Bad News Bears)

One of the best pitchers in baseball is also one of the most unknown. The fact that he plays in San Francisco does not help his overall exposure on TV or in the media. Not unlike Halladay who is hurt by being in Toronto and not getting the coverage he deserves, Lincecum, playing on the West Coast doesn't get the same viewers or publicity that he probably deserves from those in the East. That actually is only 1 thing that connects him with Halladay...they were almost teammates at one time. There was a very good chance a season or 2 ago that the Jays may be willing to move a then very good young prospect in Alex Rios to San Fran in exchange for Lincecum. If I am not mistaken it was the Jays who were the ones who balked at the proposed deal (my how hindsight is 20/20). For San Francisco the best deal was the one never made.

Tim Lincecum has emerged as a great young throwback fireballer who is looking like the real deal. He has that old throwback style with his delivery with the full leg kick and arm motion. This is the type of delivery that allowed the old school guys like those from the 30's, 40's and 50's to be capable to throw complete games, in short rotations and win more games without breaking down and have long careers. In this age of specialization and limited pitch counts it is nice to see a pitcher that is taking an old school approach. His dad is the one who worked with him to throw in that style and is probably the best pitching coach he will have during his career. There is a reason why pitchers threw that way. Good mechanics are effective in a game and on a career (just look at the Jays who have started 12 different guys in the rotation this year and have probably more injuries to starting pitchers then any other team in baseball history).

Lincecum just picked up his 10th win Thursday, allowing three runs over 6.2 innings against the Padres. In addition he actually took a no-hitter into the seventh inning, when his 29-inning scoreless streak ended....29 innings, that is like over 3 full games without allowing a run. The 149 K's is nothing to sneeze at either! He has fast become the most dominant starter in baseball all at the tender age of 25. After this years All Star game there is a good chance that his time flying under the national radar will be over and fans will see just how good he really is.

Now if we can just get him to trim up the mop top he will have the total package.

Raptors Update

Basketball Overload- And Its Only July

With the Blue Jays slipping, the Toronto Raptors are taking this time to get back into the headlines and remind people that there is a major team I may have been a little pre-mature with yesterdays blog about the Raptors.

Props to G-to-the-E for pointing out to me that there would need to be more dominos to fall for the Raps to get into a position to pull everything off and get all that they need to do done. I bow to his capology in regards to the NBA and the Raps

Apparently Bryan Colangelo had some other cards up his sleeve and the deal proposed with the Mavs was only part of the story. It now looks like there is a complicated 4 team deal that will free up even more money for the Raps and the Magic and move around even more players.
As it stands now Shawn Marion and Kris Humphries will be sent to Dallas in return for Devean George and shooting guard Antoine Wright from the Mavericks as well as small forward Hedo Turkoglu from the Magic. Dallas would then move Jerry Stackhouse to the Memphis Grizzlies with at least $2mil to allow for a buyout of his contract, who will also receive Raptors combo guard Quincy Douby, and the Grizzlies would send shooting guard Greg Buckner to the Mavericks.

Once this happens it will allow the Raps to go out and get a mid-level free agent or resign either Carlos Delfino or Anthony Parker. This makes for an even better deal then just getting Hedo Turkoglu and possibly Stackhouse. It is one of the first times that people not only in the NBA but the media that covers it that Toronto is being acknowledged as having a successful off season... now all they need to do is actually have a successful season and long playoff run.

MLSE must be pretty pleased on how their sports interests are actually making an effort to making the teams on the court and the ice worth watching again. Maybe some late spring games will be in their future soon. Imagine what can happen when you have a competent front office and don’t meddle in the Basketball and Hockey operations. You had to figure that they would see the light eventually.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Revamping The Franchise

Apparently Free Agent Frenzy isn’t limited to the NHL. The NBA has gone above and beyond and possibly surpassed that of the hockey world. There were some huge moves that has made a few teams much better and have reshaped other teams into contenders. They even managed to mix in a few trades just to fill in some of the gaps. Shaq to the Cav’s may or may not be a good move, it will be interesting to see how he can go with LeBron. Richard Jefferson to the Spurs makes them much more dangerous.Rasheed Wallace to Boston, especially with the unknown health of Kevin Garnett is a big pick up. Trevor Ariza to Houston is interesting and connected to that Ron Artest basically trading spots with him and going to play with Kobe and the Lakers.

A little more close to home the Toronto Raptors seem to be doing their best to make their team a little better right now to show pending free agent Chris Bosh that they are serious about building a playoff team that is looking to contend. They apparently just locked up former 1st overall pic Andrea Bargnani for their big man, they have apparently have a deal ready to go for former Orlando Magic star Hedo Turkoglu to complement Chrs Bosh. They currently have Shawn Marion but are in talks with the Mavericks on a potential sign-and-trade deal that would see a Jerry Stackhouse to TO. Now if Jose Calderon can play at his near All Star level that he was 2 years ago and Anthony Parker and Joey Graham can contribute they may actually be able to field a very competitive team in an increasingly more difficult Eastern Conference.

The Raps may be a little weak on the bench, especially in the back-up point guard position so we will see if that gets addressed or if they see who on the current roster wants to step up and perform in that roll. For the first time in a few years it looks like they are actually ready to take a run and go a little deeper into the playoffs.

Like I said earlier, this could go a long way to convincing Bosh that he should stay past next year and not get mesmerized by big lights, by a big stage and a truckload of money.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Quick Hits

The Tour De France is now in full force which means we should hear about a bunch of positive drug tests, Lance Armstrong allegations and criticisms, poor North American ratings and if all goes well 1 or 2 huge crashes. Other then that there is little to hold ones interest until the last day...when it is over.

The Toronto Blue Jays are reportedly shopping the service of ace Roy Halladay, guess that is the white towel we have been waiting for. Halladay is almost the only pitcher on the team without a broken wing and can actually throw strikes so I guess it is time for him to move on. It is too bad that they can’t rid themselves of the albatross that is Vernon Wells and his massive contract.

The Reds managed to loose last night 22-1 to the Phillies. That is the worst loss in team history. This is not an expansion team either that means it was the worst loss in some 119 years, not good. The Phillies plated 10 in the first inning, not a great way to set the table for the rest of the game.

Remarks by Maple Leafs’ head coach Ron Wilson on a Toronto radio station could prove to be very costly. The Leafs are being investigated for tampering as it relates to the Vancouver Canucks Sedin twins. Wilson stated "You’re hearing right now, and this sounds very contradictory but, there’s a real possibility, I would think, that we would be going after the Sedins. Let’s just speculate there."
This they investigate but they look the other way when Brian Burke was rumored to go to the Leafs as GM. Seems like the NHL only investigates things that they feel like sometimes. Guess that is how 1 owner can lend money to the prospective buyers of a team or another can buy a team with no money. Guess It is very selective and subjective.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Alex Kovalev Ottawa Bound

The Ottawa Senators have now signed Alex Kovalev to a 2 year contract for a reported $5mil per year. This is an interesting signing to say the least. Kovalev is one of the most talented players in the NHL and fits the bill for Ottawa who has been looking for a to 6 forward to add to the lineup so that solves one issue. Where we may have a bit of an issue is the knock on Alex that he doesn’t always show every night. That being said it has the potential to bring to town another ready made whipping boy for post game crybaby callers. Heavens forbid that he ends up on Spezza’s line - talk about a lightning rod for controversy is everything doesn’t go perfect every game.

Outside of the actual hockey issue is the fact that this signing puts Ottawa well over the salary cap for next season and they are going to have to drop a significant amount of money to make this work. Does this meant that a Heatley deal is close? Are there more deals in the works involving say a Jason Smith, Chris Kelly maybe even a Mike Fisher? Makes it look like there are going to be a lot of young players playing next season just for the fact that they have a low cap hit. This is going to make the team look a lot different entering camp and depending on what deals can be made a very young 3rd and 4th line and back end to the defence.

More on this when more details become available for sure

Sunday, July 05, 2009

One For The Ages...Again!

Breakfast at Wimbledon almost became Supper at Wimbledon

Last year at this time I wrote about probably the greatest Wimbledon Final ever and possibly the greatest tennis match ever played. Today may be the 1A to that match. Different game, different opponents but an epic battle none the less. The only thing that remains the same is the Tournament and Roger Federer, maybe there is a pattern here? Roger Federer and Andy Roddick played in a match that one can only relate to a heavyweight boxing match that should end in12 rounds but is now in its 20th and still going strong with little or no sign of fatigue from either competitor. This was truly a battle of the titans. What makes it even that much more compelling is the fact that Roger Federer is looking to surpass Pete Sampras with 15 Grand Slams. Pete and his wife were also there on hand arriving just after the first ball was struck.

And Roger Federer just did it - he just broke Andy Roddick’s serve for the first time in the Championship Federer is the Wimbledon Champion for the 6th time and is now at he top of the All Time Tennis Mountain and arguably the greatest of all time. 5-7, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5), 3-6, 16-14.The 30 games in the fifth set established a record for the most games played in any set in a Wimbledon singles final. The previous overall record for games in a set was 24, and 16 games for a decisive fifth set...unbelievable! The longest finals in Wimbledon history.

This match was just a fight with two great competitors both whom relied on huge serves t bail themselves out of trouble. The conditioning of both the finalists was truly amazing there was no let up no giving in. Roddick was still serving at speeds of 136 and 133mph. At times it looked like the net was going to fall with the power behind some of the first serves. I am not a big fan of Andy Roddick. I found his attitude in the past to be that of a jerk, spoiled, a bad winner and an even worse loser. His emotions would get the better of him and when he pouted he did nothing to help his image. Also, perhaps I am little jealous of him as his wife is SI Swimsuit model Brooklyn Decker. But today I feel for the guy, he played the match of his life and really only made 1 mistake...literally 1 mistake and that was all Federer needed to seal the deal. He played composed, kept his cool and unfortunately someone had to loose - deserving or not.

This was like the song from the Lamb Chop song except instead of the Song the never ends it was game that never just goes on an on my friends.

Any way you look at it the last 2 Wimbledon finals have been instant classics! Bank on this though not everything comes in three’s. There will have to be something ridiculous to happen next year to even come close to what we have seen.

We were just lucky to have gotten the chance to see these matches and this player.
Congratulations Roger Federer.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Drugs In NASCAR - A Dangerous Situation

NASCAR has been put into an interesting position in regards to the Jeremy Mayfield suspension. Mayfield failed a drug test and tested positive for methamphetamine. A judge recently retracted his suspension and open the door for him to race and enter a car into NASCAR sanctioned races. The sport is dangerous enough going 200mph with 43 other drivers and not having to worry about the guy 3 inches from your bumper being impaired in any way.

Two team owners won’t put Jeremy Mayfield in their cars this weekend at Daytona International Speedway, one because of sponsor concerns and the other because Mayfield is "marked" following his legal battle with NASCAR.

By many accounts Mayfield isn’t the most liked guy in the garage and also has a rep for being a little bit of a party guy. That alone is not a bad thing but having a few drinks and getting drunk is a far cry from doing Meth.

Big name drives such as Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson have filed affidavit expressing their feelings about having their lives endangered by having someone racing on a track agents them who may be driving at a less then sober state. He will be tested as soon as he shows up at the next race whether he drives or enters a car. The problem is it takes close to 4 days to properly run A and B samples to avoid any false results. A test on Saturday doesn’t get results until Wednesday and that doesn’t do any good.

What is even more important is what this means in terms of other sports. The Federal Judge basically is allowing an athlete to test positive for drugs and be allowed back onto the field because he needs to be able to make a living. If this was Many Ramirez does the same rule apply? Manny's 50 game suspension cost him some $7 million is wadges does that mean that he should be able to play to make a living? The potential for this grey area could be a potential issue.

Even though the sport has alcohol companies sponsoring cars like Bud, Coors and Miller. They are more socially responsible and accepted. You do not nor do you want cars sponsored by Ricky’s Meth Lab Owners and Dealers, although the colour scheme on them would probably be cool and make for a nice die cast.

Still Very Quiet On The Western Front - What Is The Endgame?

The first day of free agency has come and gone and Ottawa looks about the exact same as they did the day before. I was hoping that Dany Heatley would help out Bryan Murray in handcuffing him enough that he wouldn’t be in a position to make any bad moves or be trigger happy and overpay on anyone. Sadly that was not possible, he tried and he tried but in the end Murray did manage to find the time to make 1 bad decision and over pay on money as well as term on Chris Neil. 4 years and $8 million. I would much rather have a sub $1mil on a Cody Bass or someone of that nature. I fear that this was a knee jerk reaction to Bryan Burke and his moves to get bigger and a little tougher on defence with his moves as well as trying to keep him away from Burke getting him in a Leafs jersey as well. After seeing how the Kadri situation on draft day went between the two teams, I just hope the deal wasn’t made out of spite even if it was just a little.

As far as the Heatley situation goes I am not in the majority of calling him out as much as everyone else. Sure I am a little disappointed that nothing came from all the talk and speculation about going to Edmonton but only a little. After looking further into the deal it began to look less and less great from an Ottawa perspective. I was never a Penner fan, and questioned the offer sheet that he was signed to by Kevin Lowe, Smid is a decent young player and a nice piece coming back and Andrew Cogliano is a decent player but I have been looking at him with Maze and Gold coloured glasses from his Michigan days and thinking that he is a better player then what he is.

The $4 million bonus that has had to be paid to Heatley sucks from an Ottawa perspective but maybe it allows the Sens to get a bit better of a deal and be able to either get a better player or pick or maybe move out a little more money by throwing in a Jason Smith, Chris Kelly or Christoph Schubert contract into the mix and freeing up and recouping some of the $4 mil. If that doesn’t happen then either another team needs to step up or there will have to be some major Reconstruction to the bridge that was burned to have him back in Ottawa at the start of camp.

In an update on the 2 team showdown of my Western Conference favorite between the St. Louis Blues and the LA Kings there is little to report just yet. Both teams were very quiet yesterday with the Blues only adding Ty Conklin in net. LA still has a lot of space left which is important going forward but showed good restraint in not spending money recklessly and overpaying on either risky guys or over hyped players. Having a plan and sticking to it is impressive. Sometimes the move not made is the best move. I will give it a little longer as there are still lots of mid level free agents left out there that may sign but also may come at more of a reasonable price.