Monday, August 31, 2009

Damp Day For NASCAR In The MTL

NACSAR came roaring back to Canada in the only true NASCAR event of the season. Sure there is a NASCAR Canada series but when you have former Montreal Canadians defence man Patrice Brisbois driving in those races chances are it isn’t an All Star event. At the 2.7-mile Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Carl Edwards passed Marcus Ambrose on basically the last turn on the last lap in a race that saw Ambrose lead for the majority of the race. It was 1 mistake that was mad but it was a big one at just the wrong time when he jumped the curb and became airborne opening the door for a quick move to the lead. Ambrose was none too pleased as this was the 3rd time he has been screwed over in some way at this race. Twice it was his own doing but it really seems like he is snake bitten on this track. He always seems to have a great car and a great race right until the end when the "wheels come off" and he has to settle for a finish that he clearly did not deserve.

Again at the Montreal NASCAR Nationwide race it was, I don’t want to say was marred but was affected by rain and tough driving. The marathon race lasted nearly four hours, with 11 cautions and 31 laps run behind the pace car It seems that this race is scheduled every year during the rainy season in Montreal. The only saving grace is that it is a road course and they are able to break out the Goodyear rain tires. I believe this was the first place that NASCAR has gone to these tires and got to do so again. There was a delay as teams were allotted 5 minutes to install rain tires, wipers, tail lights, apply Rainex, and some guys even changed visors from the regular tinted ones to a clear style.

Canadians were well represented in this race yet again with varied success. Veteran Ron Fellows had a bad day that ended early. Patrick Carpentier who finished second in each of the first two Nationwide events in Montreal was forced to retire after engine trouble only 15 laps in. On the positive side Andrew Ranger managed a 3rd place finish. In shocking news Jacques Villeneuve actually finished the race for the first time in what seems like EVER and managed a great fourth place finish. Relative unknown Jean-Francois Dumoulin scored a seventh place finish.

What is great is despite the weather the fans stayed throughout. The city seems to love auto racing either NASCAR or F1 or Cart and that support should keep the race coming back as they move forward.

As a weird little side note, it is the only NASCAR event held outside the United States and it produced a rare statistic -- three of the top five finishers were non-American (maybe a sign that it is getting more international and continuing to separate itself from the southern red neck stereotype that still lingers).

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Storming The Banks Of Lake Minnetonka

Not unlike Sports Illustrated who ran a cover that said 100% Favre Free Issue, I hope that this is one of the few postings that I will have to make regarding Brett Favre. I hope that everyone enjoyed my little song that I wrote a week ago.

Who said that the Circus isn’t alive and well? To prove that look no further then Brett Favre back in the NFL with Minnesota ...Shocking! Does anyone remember the story of the boy who cried wolf? Clearly no one in the media does. To any of those who thought that he was actually going to walk away and not play this year were either in denial or delusional. This guy for the last, probably 4 years has played the same game with the media and played out his decision for as long as he could. Do I blame Brett for not knowing if he wanted to play or not, NO. Do I blame Brett for waiting so long every year, NO. Do I blame the media for continually bringing up rumors and speculation about a potential return, ABSOLUTELY. Everyone should have learned long ago that with this guy believe it when you see it. Just don’t bother to speculate, don’t guess, just don’t give it any lip service. It does no one any good.

Now I am not going to let Brett off the hook. The way that he has handled things throughout his "later years" has been for lack of a better term unsavory. Just say your body takes longer to recover and your not sure if you can do it or that training camps are too much then we are ok. Just don’t insult the media, the fans and the league by standing at a podium twice and announcing in a tearful speech how you are retiring and you know the time is right, if there is doubt let it be known, enough with the dog and pony show. He could have saved face and not come out looking like a douche had he just been a little more up front and honest.

Nothing is much worse then his latest press conference when he was talking about his daughter and how she told him to go out a win one more Super Bowl. I find this all a little over the top, you can use the family to spin things but even this is a little over the top. It isn’t a Disney movie and he is not Denis Quaid (I’m sure that it will be soon after he actually retires in 3-5 years). That whole thing was a series of, I don’t want to say lies but lets say untruths. The time lines about calls and contracts was very transparent. The only people I feel worse for then the fans and the public were the 2 would be Vikings QB’s John David Booty, Tarvaris Jackson, and Sage Rosenfels. They were the true victims and it would have been nice if the Management and the coaches treated them like professionals.

All that is left now is to see how his arm holds up and place bets on how long until he shows up on an upcoming season of Dancing With The Stars.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Crosby Staals and Nash!

Here is the new addition of CSNY (For the purposes of this to work I will throw Yzermans name into the mix). Coming on the heals of the Olympic Camp that was held in Calgary over the last couple of days I figured it was time to start looking at a possible roster. The camp culminated with a Red/White Scrimmage that packed some 19,000 people for an exhibition game into the Saddledome (and they can’t get 9,000 in some NHL cities for regular season games)....but no hockey works in Phoenix, Florida and Atlanta.

It is true that Canada could probably field 2 or maybe even 3 teams and would have a good chance at getting at least 2 medals. With that being said, it certainly makes it difficult to widdle down the long list of potential players to just 1 roster. Players need to be able to adapt to new roles, different positions and be willing to buy into what the management and coaches are looking for. There is an embarrassment of riches at the center position so there will be probably a couple of players moved to the wing. Having the ability to be one of those versatile players who have the ability to shift around could greatly help their chances on making the team.

The interesting thing about this process it the word team. It is not going to be, nor can it be just the top players or the biggest names. As we see during the playoffs it seems to come down to the 3rd and 4th line grinders and which ones show up and play bigger roles. The same thing will have to happen on this team and that may allow for some lesser known players to slide into the mix and in turn leave some very big names off the lineup.

Here is my early selection of what Team Canada 22 man roster will look like. Then just before the rosters are announced I will give a revised list and see if there has been any movement based on guys play at the beginning of the season, also taking into consideration any possible injuries that may crop up between then and now.

Just as they did during the 2006 Olympics I will also include a 3 man Taxi Squad or Black Aces as it were. Lets see how much different this team looks and time goes on. (Also I will admit that I have Jordan Staal on the team both for is penalty killing and energy but also to help with this blogs title).

Jarome Iginla - Sidney Crosby- Simon Gagné
Rick Nash - Ryan Getzlaf - Dany Heatley
Eric Staal - Mike Richards - Jonathan Toews
Shane Doan - Jordan Staal - Milan Lucic
Jeff Carter

Scott Niedermayer - Shea Weber
Chris Pronger - Dan Boyle
Jay Bouwmeester - Dion Phaneuf

Goal: Roberto Luongo, Martin Brodeur, Marc-André Fleury

Taxi Squad: Vincent Lecavalier Mike Green Corey Perry

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Why Dany Heatley to the LA Kings is a good idea.

Even with all the bad feelings in Ottawa in regards to Dany as well as the situation in general one thing is for sure, he is still a good player with a proven track record and can help just about any team. All parties involved are sure to be just about ready for the circus to fold up a go so hopefully a quality resolution is going to come soon.

Personally I am still on the fence about which team to throw my support behind and am pretty much just waiting the Heatley shoe to drop. If he goes to LA then that will probably seal the deal and slide them ahead of St. Louis. As it stands now it is 1 and 1A and both may get a bit of love from me going forward, I think that may be the only fair alternative.

- As far as Ottawa is concerned it may be in their best interest to pull off a deal before camp if nothing more then to just put the whole ordeal behind them. After a long summer of speculation getting a fresh start would not be a bad thing
- Getting a decent current player and maybe a defensive prospect or and a draft pick or another young body could be just what the doctor ordered for Ottawa
- If Heatley goes to LA they would get a true scorer which they really need. There is some good talent coming down the pipeline but they a still a bit away.
- The Kings are in a position financially to fit Heatley into the mix and still leave them with some flexibility as well.
- LA has some very attractive pieces that I think could be potentially be moved that Ottawa could be or even should be interested in.
- Heatley would fit well in that market if in fact he wants a bigger role, this is a young team that struggles to score so he could go in and be a leader on the ice in regards to scoring, ice time and power-play time.
- The market may be good too, LA is LA, nice weather and not a lot of media attention. There is so many other famous people around that he would be able to blend into it all. A move there would be big but by no means is he going to overshadow Kobe.

A lineup that would have a look like this could make them into a team that could fight for a playoff position in the coming year, Just think, wouldn’t this lineup look good for the Purple and Silver? This is just a hypothetically if the trade were to take place and say a Frolov-Moller-Hickey deal. Sure the back end is a little thin but that can leave room for a young kid to step up and earn a spot and maybe surprise some people.

C-Anze Kopitar F-Dustin Brown F-Dany Heatley
C-Michal Handzus F-Justin Williams F-Ryan Smyth
C-Jarret Stoll F-Wayne Simmonds F-Ted Purcell
C-Brian Boyle F-Trevor Lewis F-Brad Richardson

D- Drew Doughty Rob Scuderi
D- Jack Johnson Matt Greene
D- Sean O’Donnell Colten Teubert

G-Jonathan Quick G-Erik Ersberg G-Jonathan Bernier

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Shaq VS

For those who haven’t see the show yet the premise of it is for The Big Aristotle, Shaquille O’Neal challenging star athletes to a competition in their respective sports. There are rumors that he may have stole the idea from former teammate Steve Nash - This may or may not be true but Steve Nash does have an Executive Producer credit, so draw your own conclusions.

He did manage to get some good names to sign on to the project:
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in football, Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, retired boxer Oscar De La Hoya, St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols, tennis pro Serena Williams, and beach volleyball Olympians Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh. Cyclist Lance Armstrong may also get involved .

The show was actually not as bad as I initially thought it would be. That being said, I think for the most part after last nights episode that pitted Big Shaqtus against AVP players and Olympians Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh I may be done with it... the novelty has now worn off. I watched part of the first one with Ben Roethlisberger and it was ok at best.

I made it a point to watch all of the Beach Volleyball for a variety of reasons. I am a big volleyball fan and actually watch the AVP during the year even if it is not just an Olympic year when it is en vogue. I am big fans of Misty May (whom was cool enough to send me an autograph) and Kerri Walsh (who is not as cool just yet). Plus as an added bonus they are clearly not hard on the eyes, especially in HD. I think that these ladies doing this show in combination with everything else they do have made a big impression towards the mainstream sports scene and help keep it in the minds of the casual observer. Lets face it as much as the AVP may try and do the national coverage of the sport is weak at best. You just don't see highlights on Sportscenter in either Canada or the USA nor do you get much actual match coverage on TV, except a crappy half hour show on Sportsnet when they need to fill some time and they are out of episodes of Poker After Dark and you don't even get the entire match.

The show itself was pretty decent as the sport lends itself well to adapt to that style.
Shaq and his partner, which alternated between "The Professor" Todd Rogers and Casey Jennings (who is married to Kerri Walsh), engaged in a 2-on-2 match on Hermosa Beach. The competition consisted of a best of three, match with rally scoring, 1st to 11 points. The net was set at a height for women’s beach volleyball. The favorites - May/Walsh ended up taking the event 11-6, 11-8. For loosing Shaq had to walk down the beach in a giant pink Speedo...that was, well unpleasant for all.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Making the Cut - Olympic Edition

Even back at the 2006 Olympics they were already looking towards Vancouver in 2010. They said that there was going to be a youth movement for the Men’s Olympic Hockey team in 2010. While there will be a much younger flavour to the team regardless of who is chosen and who is left off there will also be a decent number of return players as well. It will be interesting to see what mix that Steve Yzerman decides to go with. It is believed that he and his management team are going to fill roles and not just take a team of offensive skill or household names. That may open up the door for players that have some versatility and can be used in a variety of positions. Drew Doughty, Milan Lucic and Patrick Sharp are a couple of that type of player that people may not think of right off the bat but offer several options for Mike Babcock. Lets just say that they are an upgrade from others that have filled that role in the past (Rob Zamuner and Scott Hannan, I’m looking in your direction)

There is sure to be much debate as for players and lines but also the leadership. Mario is gone, Yzerman is gone and Sakic is gone. Do you give the "C" to Sidney Crosby, fresh of a Stanley Cup win but not being on the last Olympic Team and having limited international experience. Is Scott Scott Niedermayer a real leader or just a guy that is successful and has won everything? Maybe Jarome Iginla might be the direction to go. He is a guy that has played a lot for Canada, been the leader of the Flames and plays a 2 way game- skill and physical play both come naturally to him. It shows that he can also lead by example as well as with words. I have to say that he would be my first choice but there will probably be a lot of pressure from outside people in hockey as well as the sponsors and marketing people to get Crosby the "C". I am sure that Pierre McGuire will put his vote in for Sidney sooner rather then later. (Is Sid allowed to wear a Nike Team Canada Jersey in his role as Mr. Reebok? Just askin’.)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Memphis Tigers Wish They Were The Bayside Tigers

Mr. Belding would not have let this kind of test cheating scandal happen on his watch. Give credit to Derrick Rose for being a better con man then Zack Morris.
There are bad losses in sports, none may have been as bad, strictly by the numbers as what the Memphis Tigers basketball team. The season doesn’t start for months and yet they lost 38 games and a tournament appearance in one day...not good.

The NCAA announced its decision to strip Memphis of its National Championship-game appearance and Final Four appearance along with the team’s 38 wins in 2008. It was found that after an investigation earlier this year, former Memphis star point guard Derrick Rose cheated on a standardized test to gain admission into the school. It is unclear at this time what it really means as far as school records or the record of former coach John Calipari . Essentially it is more about giving back the money that was awarded for that season then anything else. It does not appear that the University will have any other sanctions against them, just the bad press. It does not appear that the school or coach did anything wrong so there should be no other fall out.

Well, nothing wrong may be an slight over statement especially as it refers to the coach. John Calipari , who is now in Kentucky has had issues with kids at both his last 2 stops. Nice to leave two programs and be the Teflon man where nothing sticks to him. Few people even remember his issue at Umass and now he has skated right to the top to one of the biggest jobs in all college basketball. Marcus Camby took money from an agent and not this news with Rose. What he did "wrong" is recruiting kids that are easily manipulated into making bad decisions. Character clearly takes a back seat to skill. Coaches and athletic departments are more likely to look the other way if a kid can put wins on the board, money in the pockets and sales of apparel.

Lets call it as it is - saying that a team is stripped of wins means very little. The kids that won those games know they won - you can’t tell them it didn’t happen. All I can say is it was a good thing that they choked away that game and lost to Kansas, stripping a team of a National Championship could have been an ugly and messy process and one that would have been met with a lot more hostility then what this case will have.

These kids are going to these schools to be athletes not for an education anyway. They know that they can’t go straight to the pros so it is just a place to kill time between games and when they can go pro and start cashing the cheques.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Brett Favre Vikings Song

Here is my Brett Favre Vikings tribute song.
It is set to the tune of Elvis' In The Ghetto
Let me know what you think - patent pending

As the snow flies
On a cold and gray Minnesota mornin’
Another interception ball is thrown
In the Metrodome
And his head coach cries
‘cause if there’s one thing that he don’t need
it’s a pick 6 on another missed read
In the Metrodome

People, don’t you understand
the gun slinger needs a helping hand
Adrian Peterson, he's looking your way
Take a look at you and me,
are we too blind to see,
do we simply turn our heads
and look the other way

Well the world turns
and a grizzley ol’ boy with a runny nose
plays in the dome as the cold a/c blows
In the Metrodome

And his hunger for a Superbowl burns
so he starts to roam the sidelines Sunday night
and he learns how to play action
and he learns to fake right
In the Metrodome

Then one night on a desperation throw
an old man’s shoulder breaks away
He grabs his arm, bootlegs the ball
tries to run, but he don’t get far
And his head coach cries

As a crowd gathers ‘round an angry old man
face down on the turf with a football in his hand
In the Metrodome.

As his QB lies,
on the purple and white Minnesota turf,
a second string starting QB is born
In the Metrodome

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Aftershock - Bolt destroys 200-metre record

For the second time in less then a week Usain Bolt crushed his own world record by a blistering .11 seconds after running a 19.19s 200m race at the World Championships in Berlin. Bolt set the record in China at last years Olympics with a time of 19.30s.

Bolt got a killer start and blew away a fast but over matched field with his nearest competitor finishing 0.62s behind.This is just even more proof that the guy is a freak and a once in a generation athlete.

It is almost unbelievable what he is able to do.
Ben Johnson raced that horse and a car that one time, I bet Bolt could maybe even be able to win a race like that without any head start...sick!

New Team Canada Jerseys

Now that the Canadian Olympic Jersey has been unveiled for the 2010 Hockey Teams I am proud to say that I ALREADY HAVE A TEAM CANADA JERSEY and don’t need to get another one, especially not this one. Needless to say I am not a big fan. With a $135 price tag, I find the design uninspired and not esthetically appealing.

I hope to not step on any toes but I find that the design, especially the leaf is too native. The embossing of the artwork on the new Maple Leaf is filled with images of gold medals won by Canada’s men’s, women’s and sledge hockey teams, a thunderbird, an eagle, First Nations symbols, a fleur-de-lis and other animals and items.

If it is a one off for just these games in Vancouver I guess it can be accepted but it is far from an inspiring design. If the games were in Edmonton would the leaf be embossed with an Oil Rig and a picture of the West Edmonton Mall?? I just hope this is not a keeper going forward. The old jerseys with the Hockey Canada Logo were cool and recognizable and hopefully will continue with all other International events like the World Juniors. Speaking of that the Hockey Canada Logo is still there on the shoulder, I thought that the problem was that they couldn’t use that logo at the Olympics and although not prominent it is still there... Riddle me that Batman.

My hope is that any of the other apparel for the Vancouver Olympics that HBC will have will be better then the Hockey Jerseys are.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Lightning Bolt Strikes Berlin

(Standard disclaimer for anything related to Track and Field - At the time of this, there are no indications of any performance enhancing substances)

Sure it is sad to have to say but in this era where just about every league or sport has either a problem or at best a few instances of usage one just never knows for sure. With all that being said Usain Bolt is possibly the biggest freak in all of sports. It is one thing with him setting the Olympic and then World Record at 9.69 despite kicking it into cruise control at like the 80M mark.

What he managed to do at the World Championships on Sunday left little doubt that he is the premier athlete not only in track but maybe the world. In a much anticipated match up between himself and American Tyson Gay it was like Gay and the rest of the field were jogging. Bolt shattered the World Record by an astounding .11 seconds leaving everyone in his wake. That is the biggest margin of change since electronic timing in 1968. Most of these records are beaten by 100th of a second not a 10th of a second. The magnitude of that is just ridiculous. There probably won't be another sprinter that will run a sub-9.60 in at least the next 20 years that isn't named Bolt (I will leave the window open for a Bolt offspring). I still think there is room for him to break his own record. He has said in the past that he does not run for records but he thinks that maybe he can get in the 9.4 range.

This just in from The Canadian Press: The IAAF has announced that there were no positive doping cases in the men's 100 metres, the marquee event of the world track and field championships. Steeplechaser Jamal Chatbi of Morocco is the only positive athlete of the championships so far after more than 600 tests were analyzed. -- I am sure that there were a lot of very happy people in the track world that this is the case...just remember you can only test for what you know about. I'm not saying, I'm just saying.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Y.E. (S) - Yang Hold Off Tiger In An Upset

When the weekend started it looked like it was just going to shape up like any other August weekend a bit of baseball, some NASCAR, a smattering of tennis with a sprinkle of golf. What it turned out to be was all that and the traditional bag-of-chips.

I don’t think that anyone would have thought that Tiger Woods who was the leader in the 4th and final Major on the PGA tour from nearly wire to wire would succumb to an unknown South Korean named Y.E. Yang on the final day...while entering with a 2 shot lead. 2 Shots on a Sunday to Tiger is like money in the bank. Up until yesterday that has never happened when he was either leading or had a share of the lead. That is just part of what makes this such a huge deal. In the US it is a Tiger gave it away which is somewhat true but then there is also the other side where in South Korea Yang is now a hero in the country and instantly became a household name. In probably one of the most unlikely situations Tiger couldn’t rise to the occasion and get his putter working to fight off Yang. He shot well enough to win but just couldn’t close out the way that he needed. The amount of puts that he missed by 1/4s of an inch...he should have breezed to another major. But hey that is golf and it is a game of fractions of an inch.

To Yangs' credit he hung in like a champ and didn’t get rattled by Tigers imposing shadow. Maybe not knowing the language, not knowing what he was doing was so monumental was the key. Yang was playful down the stretch throwing a ball into the crowd, waving to the CBS cameraman, it was almost like he was too relaxed, maybe that was his strategy to keep his mind off the impending pressure. At the end he grabbed his golf bag and lifted it over his head like it was a championship belt or the Stanley Cup. Either way he got it done. It was one of the largest upsets ever in golf and will probably go down as one of the bigger ones in sports. Being the stage it was on and the fact it was the first time that someone was able to stand up to Tiger and live to tell about it...through an interpreter.

What I hate was hearing form some people that Tiger choked and has not had a good year because he has no Majors and lost yesterday. The only way the you can come to this conclusion is if you put Tiger vs Vintage Tiger. 5 wins in a year coming off a "MAJOR" (pun intended) injury to his knee and going out with 2 wins and a 2nd place finish. All in all that isn’t bad. Is being the Player of the Year the sign of having a bad year, since he is probably going to win that again? I am going to say only maybe to Tiger.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Vick Takes Flight From Falcon To Eagle

A leopard can't change his spots can a Falcon change his feathers?

Michael Vick has signed with the Philadelphia Eagles. Is this a good thing, a bad thing or nothing? At this point should it be more of a football issue then a society issue? I say yes.

Since we all found out about his involvement in the underworld dog fighting scene, it has been "what a terrible thing he did, how could he?" Everyone knows what he did was wrong and it was cruel but there comes a time when you just have to let it go. I am not saying to forget and maybe not exactly forgive but just not let it fester anymore. He has paid his debt to society he has done significant time in a federal prison. He got a lot more then Dante Stallworth got for killing a human being. That is one big issue I have, All living thing has great value but rightly or wrongly there is a class system that comes into play. I am on the side of the fence that places a far greater value on a human life then a dog. Sure it is not like an extreme thing like a mosquito versus a cat but the parallel is there.

Vick will begin practicing with the Eagles soon, doing what is unsure. Does he get a lot of reps as a QB, do they use some Wildcat setup, does he line up as a wide receiver, a running back, slot type player that should be more of a burning question at this point. It could be an interesting look with Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook if they are all on the field together. He’s got a good QB to help get things going in the right direction and one that is willing to help him in his transition onto the field. Now it is just a question of how well can an athlete come back after 2 years removed from not only the physical game but the mental part and the prep that goes into being a professional football player.

I don’t agree that there should be a lot of negative reaction to the signing but it is Philadalphia and it is a huge storey so that won’t help stay under any radar. If it is negative I hope that they focus on the fact that he was signed sight workouts or anything. Any backlash should be on the merits as they relate to football and not outside factors.
People always say that people deserve a second chance, lets see how hypocritical that these people are.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

On The Rebound?

At one time Montreal could be considered a great sports city, can the same still be said? Some say yes some say no. The loss of both the F1 race as well as the demise of the Expos greatly hurt the overall standing.

Maybe a small comeback is perhaps now in progress. No there is no talk about a baseball rebirth, although it would probably be better supported now if there was some decent ownership in Montreal then in Washington (or Florida and Tampa for that matter). It couldn’t be too much worse. Too bad that the same issues are there that led to the team leaving in the first place.

It is reported that there is a tentative deal in place to get the F1 Grand Prix back to the MTL for the 2010 schedule. Montreal was dropped from the 2009 F1 calendar after negotiations with race organizers collapsed.
Bringing a true NASCAR Nationwide event is a huge deal and is well supported. The success of the Rogers Cup Tennis Championship that is currently being played is also a major event for the city. Rumor has it that the X-Games are also in talks to come and hold there premier event in the city sometimes in the near future as well.

The city still has its Canadiens, one of the most historic teams in all of pro sports. Sure it is like pulling teeth to have junior hockey supported in the city but it too is coming along with the Montreal Juniors in the QMJHL.

The MLS may also be on the horizon, not that that should matter - It has the Montreal Impact in some other "footy league" and neither should count as a plus for being a sports city. The Montreal Alouettes are as successful as one can be as a CFL football club.

On the whole Montreal is probably teetering as being a fairly big player in the sports world. It is good venue based just on the number of events, although some are at perhaps a 2nd or lower tier level.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Day The Majors Died

It was 15 years ago today that marked not only end of the 1994 Baseball Season but it was the beginning of the end of the Expos as a franchise. The Montreal Expos finished the season with the best record in the Majors with a 74-40 record . The ‘94 Strike was the eighth work stoppage in baseball history, as well as the fourth in-season work stoppage in 23 years. It lasted 232-days and lasted until April 2, 1995 - Wiping out the World Series for the first time since 1904.

This not only affected the Expos, who at the time had the second lowest payroll in baseball, and their attempt to bring a championship to Montreal but would have put an early halt to the Atlanta Braves record run of consecutive division titles. I guess on a personal note it was a good thing for my Braves but bad for me as now I can’t go see them play anymore because the Montreal team is gone.

Had the Expos either won or at least made a good run there would have been a great chance that they may have been a better chance to get a downtown stadium built and kept the team in the city. After the strike there were a lot of fans that were so upset with baseball that they just turned their back to the game and it showed not only in the ratings but more importantly in Montreal, at the ticket gate. Dwindling attendance and ownership that either didn’t want to spend, didn’t know what they were doing or just flat out wanted to move alienated fans and political officials alike.

Today is a sad reminder of what could have been and that if things could have played out differently there could still be baseball being played somewhere in the city of Montreal to this day. It would probably be in a nice state of the art stadium too.

Here is the Roster of the Expos that could have changed the landscape of baseball before the fire sales that eventually happened:

Pitchers: Jeff Fassero, Rod Henderson, Butch Henry, Jeff Shaw, Brian Looney, Pedro Martínez, Heath Haynes, Denis Boucher, Kirk Reuter, Ken Hill, Gabe White, Joey Eischen, Mel Rojas, Tim Scott, John Wetteland
Catchers: Tim Spehr, Darrin Fletcher, Lenny Webster
Infielders: Mike Lansing, Jeff Gardner, Sean Berry, Wil Cordero Freddie Benavides Juan Bell, Cliff Floyd, Randy Milligan
Outfielders: Lou Frazier,Marquis Grissom, Moisés Alou, Rondell White, Larry Walker
Manager: Felipe Alou

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Vick and Heatley - Who Will Be More Welcome?

Is there that much of a difference between the Michael Vick situation and the Dany Heatley situation? Both are players that are looking to come back the their respective leagues and resume playing their sport. The difference is Vick is trying to come back to a league that needs to embrace him where Heatley may need to come back to a team and a fan base (baring an unlikely trade) that will have to forgive and, well, maybe not forget, but not hold a grudge.

Michael Vick has paid his debt to society, is that enough? Probably it is for fans, it is just the extreme protesters that will be the big hurdle now. Dany will have to pay a debt to merely a city and a fan base. A tough task but a sincere apology or simple admittance that an error was made can go a long way toward the healing process. In all truth what has he done so far that is so bad that we can’t forgive and forget? He is not the first and surely not the last to make a request (we still don’t know if it was a request or a demand to be moved). Fans of teams are, by nature, a very forgiving bunch. Many a flaw can be covered by team colours a helmet and a number. A what have you done for me lately mentality is usually out there.

In both instances it is a player having to go into a locker room that may strongly disagree with the situation and guys that are indifferent to the whole thing. In probably every locker room there are players that don’t like each other, just like any other job place, but that doesn’t mean you can’t co-exist. Players may be dog owners or lovers but when you get right down to it winning football games and getting paid probably are more important than principals or position on the subject. One only has to look as far as the amount of players using performance enhancing drugs. They all know it is wrong but that is a little deterrent.

In Heatley’s case everyone associated with the team of late that has said anything says that he is a great teammate and a good guy and that is why it was so shocking. All would want an explanation but seem willing to take him back. Vick also may be a good guy a good teammate, but a guy that made a major mistake. Most would say he already done enough to be allowed to move on and try to get not only his career but his life turned around.

Vick looks poised to sign on with a team soon and Team Canada will be having its summer camp soon so both, one would think/hope they will have something to say and prove to help start up the healing process among Teams, players and fans alike.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Tim Tebow - A Hard Guy Not To Root For

Some call him Tim Tebow, some call him the Chosen One. Maybe the latter is more accurate. It is hard to dispute what this one college quarterback has done at such a young age. Unlike most other star colleague or amateur athletes what he has done off the field is either as important - no more important - no as important as what he has done on the field. He is one of the best college quarterbacks of all time. A Heisman Trophy in 2007, a 2 time BCS Championship winner for the Florida Gators and coming back again for his final year for a run at a 3rd. Even that may come behind his accomplishments off the field.... had to believe but true.

Right from the start he had an uphill battle - His mother while in the Philippines serving as Christian missionary suffered a life-threatening infection with a pathogenic amoeba. The drug used put her baby in jeopardy and there was worry of a possible stillbirth and recommended an abortion to protect her life. After praying and having faith She carried Tim to term, and both survived. Tebow now stands a solid 6’3" and 235 pounds. Lets call that Exhibit A.

As a home schooled kid played football during the school year and then he spent his last 3 summers in the Philippines assisting with his father’s orphanage and missionary work. Lets call that Exhibit B.

There is no questioning his leadership on the field as well. Still with 1 year left on eligibility left Coach Urban Meyer had the speech that Tebow gave after a loss last year vs Ole Miss engraved on a plaque and placed outside the front entrance to the new football facility at Florida Field. Now he is a profit too. Exhibit C.

He is also a self-proclaimed virgin and is "saving himself" for marriage. This might be the greatest testament to just how impressive this guy is and how strong his beliefs are. He is a national name - a starting QB for a Championship Division 1 NCAA school one of the best athletes in the nation and could probably pick up any girl he wanted without even trying - on second though I don’t know if he should be praised or ridiculed. If he pulled a stunt like that between the lines he would be accused of wasting his talent.

Upon becoming the first home-schooled athlete to be nominated for the Heisman Trophy, Tebow remarked, "That’s really cool. A lot of times people have this stereotype of homeschoolers as not very athletic – it’s like, go win a spelling bee or something like that – it’s an honor for me to be the first one to do that."

It is almost comical how one can be the best at a position in college and be so widely discounted as being able to play at the next level. College is almost by definition a vehicle to prepare you to go forward, make you better and instill knowledge. Not the case for football at the NCAA level. The spread offence is en vogue and a pro style offence is very, very rare of any of the top teams. QB’s who play in that style are head and shoulders above others in the eyes of pro teams. That is why Tebow despite all of his accolades on the field is being bandied about as a tight end or an H-Back rater then a starting QB.

A lot of people may be Tebow’d out just because of the coverage that he gets. Hopefully people can separate media coverage from the player and the man. Hate the media for the coverage but don’t punish him for doing everything the right way.

Regardless of what happens next he may just be the Chosen One.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

5000 STRONG - Thanks!

I have now managed to hit the 5000 hits mark on my blog.
Thanks to those who read this and continue to come back to it every day or on a regular basis.

It may not be as much as other blogs or have a lot of pictures that help gain hits but the fact that people are reading is great and It is much appreciated.

I enjoy writing in this forum and sharing some news, information, thoughts, interests and sometimes even a little bit of humor.

Thanks again to all and keep coming back!

Friday, August 07, 2009

The Pitfalls Of The Summer Lull

Now is the time of the year and things are about to become slow and it will be up to baseball to keep the sports interest intact. Boston playing New York in a series that actually counts is a good start but that is just 1 series. Sure there is NASCAR and the regular Canadian pass time- off season idol hockey speculation and for myself AVP Beach Volleyball. But as far as the games themselves there is a huge drop off at this time of year. The occasional tennis or golf tournament may happen to take the edge off but that is about it. NFL Camps are open now but until the games actually start for real and not the useless pre-season games where the real players play 1 series and then shut it down. Summer hockey camps are starting up but they arn't games and realy don't decide anything so that doesn't help things. Without any other distractions every day is now What will happen Dany Heatley? Also no good comes from that.

Canada Day is always a great day to be patriotic and celebrate living in a great country but sadly it also marked the kick off of the new CFL season. No good can come from this. Over coverage on TSN and overpower the airways with lack luster games with players we don’t know or don’t much care for. Even worse is the coverage that it will surely get from the local sports radio station Team 1200. The afternoon show right now that is almost on the verge of being unsustainable now with the move of the annoying and less then interesting hosts Glen Kulka and Lee Versage will become even worse with the increased addition of CFL chatter to go with the MMA talk. The CFL hour is a write-off in the afternoons as well. Almost as bad as having a soccer show in that slot, which they now have on Saturday mornings (The Team 1200 programing time on a Saturday morning is like a mule with a spinning wheel, he doesn't know how he got it and danged if he knows how to use it.

For a city who is still without a CFL team and not much news happening on that front there relay isn’t too much need for too much focus. We can start to care about the CFL late in the fall, playoff time and the Grey Cup...the only time it really matters.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Team Canada Olympic Camps

Draft Day is over. The Free Agency Frenzy is over and it is now down to the mid-tier players and outside of some restricted free agents that have offer sheets tendered and arbitration hearings there will probably be a bit of a lull over the next little bit as far as the NHL is concerned. Probably the only time of the year where hockey doesn't lead off the sportscasts of every show on Sportsnet and TSN. Guess that it will be about time to jump over the NHL and look to some other hockey, this one with a little international flavour. The World Juniors are ready to hold thier annual invitee camp to see what type of players they may have an eye on and check on some of the returning players and help decide who they may want in the more condensed selection camp in December.

Then there is the big boys, the Men’s Olympic Team. The list has been made public of the invitees to the summer camp by Steve Yzerman. Weather or not all these players are there due to the recent news that they will need more insurance or if they get hurt at a camp that they could be suspended without pay when they report to training camps later this year. Also, as far as we know Dany Heatley is planning on attending so yeah, that could be interesting, no conflift there with members or friends of Hockey Canada.

Goaltenders: Martin Brodeur, Roberto Luongo, Marc-André Fleury, Steve Mason, Cam Ward (Carolina Hurricanes).
Defence: Jay Bouwmeester, Dan Boyle, Scott Niedermayer, Chris Pronger, Robyn Regehr, Dion Phaneuf, Marc Staal, Shea Weber, François Beauchemin, Brent Burns, Drew Doughty, Stéphane Robidas, Mike Green, Dan Hamhuis, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook.
Forwards: Sidney Crosby, Shane Doan, Simon Gagné, Dany Heatley, Jarome Iginla Rick Nash, Joe Sakic, Martin St-Louis, Eric Staal, Joe Thornton, Vincent Lecavalier, Ryan Smyth, Jeff Carter, Ryan Getzlaf, Milan Lucic, Patrick Marleau, Andy McDonald, Brenden Morrow, Corey Perry, Michael Richards, Derek Roy, Patrick Sharp, Jordan Staal, Jonathan Toews, Dan Cleary.

Now this is just a list for the summer, that is not to say that due to injury or if someone come out of the gate in the fall like gang busters then they will not get a look. This is just a preliminary list. That being said there were a few interesting omissions including Chris Osgoode who was mentioned during the playoffs that he would be a good 3rd goaltender who would know his role... then he lost 1 game and all of a sudden he is undeserving?? Also there were 2 very glaring omissions up front in the way of Jason Spezza and Stephen Stamkos. Both these guys played for Canada this year at the World’s and both played well. Stamkos was an offensive dynamo and Spezza played defence for the first time since Minor-Midget. Sure there is always someone who ss going to be left off any list but these were surprising. All 3 NHL Staals' were selected to attend.. begs the question if their mom makes them take little brother Jared along (like having to take your kid brother to the park with you to play).

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

NCAA Football - The Most Important Regular Season In Sports

The pre-season power rankings are in for the NCAA football season and once again the favorites are who you’d expect 1 through 5 are the usual suspects - 1. Florida, 2. USC, 3. Oklahoma, 4. Texas, 5. Georgia. This is a good list for starters just because there is no Ohio State Buckeyes listed- hate the Buckeyes. Even if Michigan is bad and STILL rebuilding there is always room to hate on Ohio State.

A lot of people have little interest in NCAA football up here north of the boarder until of course it is Bowl time and it is perceived that the games mean more then anything... especially on Proline. The beauty of the NCAA football season is that every game is like a March Madness game if you are one of the top teams.

When each week is a must win it puts a lot of importance on each game. The only other sport that come to mind that places that much emphasis on winning during the regular season is tennis. It is the only one that offers a match play type setting and 1 bad day will end your chances for a tournament victory. 8-8 can get you to the playoffs in the NFL, 40-45 wins usually get you in in the NBA, 90-72 may get you moving to post season play in MLB. In golf you can have a bad round but you can have make a comeback in the 3 remaining rounds. NASCAR you can crash out a couple races but still have enough points to qualify for the Chase.

1 loss usually means that you are out of the running for a national championship. Every week is a must win and that makes for some exciting games. Sometimes you can get lucky and loose early and have enough time to get back into title contention. Lose late and you are almost assured of playing yourself right out of contention. Talk about a lot of pressure on kids who for the most part don’t "get paid"... I’m not saying, I’m just saying.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Another Arms Race For The Braves

John Schuerholz may not be the GM of my favorite team, the Atlanta Braves, anymore but he is now even higher up in the organization and his ideals have seemed to filter down to current GM Frank Wren. Schuerholz the architect to the record setting Braves team of the 90’s and early 2000’s who won 14 consecutive division titles and a World Series in 1995. How did he do it? One of the main things was building the team with pitching...sure it is one thing to have good pitching but quite another to have 3 future Hall of Famers tossing every 5 days for you (Maddux, Smoltz and Glavine). Throw in there 2 very good guys in the 4 and 5 spots (like Neagle, Schmidt, Smith, Avery, Millwood ect..) and every night the team was in a great position to win.

Looking at the rotation as it stands right now that same idea is being used. The Boston Red Sox, when healthy may have the best rotation with Beckett, Lester, Matsuzaka, Wakefield, Penny and Smoltz...oh and throw in a kid that has already thrown a no-hitter in the majors in the minors that they can call upon in Buchholz. Atlanta has got to be near that level with the arms that thew can throw on any given night. Right now the Braves mound can have any of Javier Vazquez, Derek Lowe, Jair Jurrjens, Kenshin Kawakami, and rookie phenom Tommy Hanson. They too have a bit of an ace up their sleeve that they are hoping to have Tim Hudson return from injury at some point. Not too shabby. It is clear that this was a priority since the pre season when they took a run at the big name free agent pitchers, especially AJ Burnett.

Granted it seems like the offence may be a bit of a weaker spot but looking at the lineup they should be more consistent then they are. Even with future Hall of Famer Chipper Jones in the lineup the team seems to be very streaky as far run production and wins are concerned. As a team the regular lineup boasts an average of .293 (not including the pitchers spot)..that is fairly decent. I guess it is just a matter of being more clutch and/or consistent. The mid season acquisition of Nate McLouth, Adam LaRoche's return and the Franceour/Church deal may help that a lot too.

A slow first half have put them behind early but with that pitching and if Rafael Soriano can be a good closer they that have a decent chance of taking a run at the Phillies for the East title or possibly the Wild Card. Don’t give up on the ATL too soon.