Friday, October 30, 2009

Injury Concerns

There seems to be a rash of injuries of late in the NHL. Some have been pre-existing issues that have carried over from before the season began. It does seem like there are a lot of big name players that are on the IR, some for longer then the others but the numbers continue to rise. What is the most alarming is the number that are big name or franchise players.

Now every year there will be players hurt but not as many superstars in these numbers and this early. Being an Olympic year the schedule will be a little off balance and crammed up to accommodate but thus far it has been pretty laxed for most teams and most have had a decent amount of rest so that shouldn't be to blame for this problem. When you are seeing players like: Phil Kessel , Milan Lucic Simon Gagne, Johan Franzen, Patrik Elias, Jean-Sebastien Giguere, Ilya Kovalchuk, John-Michael Liles, T.J. Oshie, Daniel Sedin, Sheldon Souray, Evgeni Malkin, Sergei Gonchar, David Booth, Marian Gaborik, Roberto Luongo, Andrei Markov, Jonathan Toews, Kari Lehtonen, Marian Hossa (and that is just the big name guys) hurt makes you wonder why that is and can’t help but worry teams about what they are going to look like after a tight schedule and then the strain of the Olympics. These are actually injury situations and unrelated to the flu situation, either swine or other.

All these injuries I guess may be better that they happen now, early, and not later during a stretch run towards the playoffs but you don’t want to get to a point where you take yourself out of contention early. In addition to what the teams are losing with these players out the same can be said of some of the players who need this time to play their way onto an Olympic team. There are a handful of players who have pretty much sealed their fate by being injured. Gagne, Savard and Lucic are three right off the bat that needed to have a strong start to be in the mix.

In a less important angle, well less important unless you are the owner of some of these players is that of the fantasy owner or hockey pool participant who needed these guys healthy all year. You know, so the secretary at work that joined the league for fun doesn’t win because they thought that certain guys had a cute names and that is why they picked them.

It is never good for any league, especially the NHL to lose too many stars at one time. In a gate driven league the more stars you can have active and playing at a high level the better for everybody. For some of the teams in the southern US only associate a team with 1 maybe 2 guys, if they are hurt and not in the lineup that is just one more reason not to go or to watch.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Raising Arizona?

I find it interesting that there is possibly another group that is interested in the Phoenix Coyotes. Toronto Argonauts’ co-owner’s Howard Sokolowski and David Cynamon plan to meet with Glendale city officials next week with an eye toward putting a bid together for the financially-troubled NHL franchise. These two guys were part of the Ice Edge Holdings that was involved in the bankruptcy hearing with the NHL and the Jim Balsillie bids. It looks like they have as many as 12 other investors lined up looking into acquiring the team. With that said, just remember Tampa Bay. They only have 2 partners and they couldn't agree on much especially on the players on the roster, 12 could prove to be cumbersome unless they are just money men.

Ice Edge Holdings were looking at playing 5 home games in Saskatoon and possibly 5 in Winnipeg while keeping the team based in Phoenix. They also seemed to be the only group that was either interested or willing to have Wayne Gretzky involved at any level. There have been questions on if they have the money and/or where they are getting this money but they have made it appear that they want to make it work in Phoenix. That may be a bit of ostrich thinking and burying their head in that plentiful Arizona sand. In an attendance driven league it may just have too many obstacles to overcome. Filling a building in the desert is not an easy thing to begin with and even if you fill the arena the people in there need to actually pay to get in for that to mean anything. Papered attendance and free ticket giveaways may indeed make it look pretty but smoke an mirrors only work for so long.

Having the two Argonauts dipping their toes into this desert mirage certainly leads one to believe that they may like to bring it closer to the team they presently own in Toronto. Sure that would make 2 teams in Toronto and we know what the lay of the land is there with everyone having an opinion - from the Prime Minister to the NHL - from MLSE and the Buffalo Sabers. The difference is they may be more liked by the board and the league. If the league ends up owning the team then they are in the position to call the shots and maybe something could happen. Sure it may be all very pre-mature at this point but it is an interesting development.

Maybe they will Make It 7 at some point - be it in Winnipeg, Quebec City or Southern Ontario.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Aces Wild? Time To Play Ball!!

Former teammates and the last two American League Cy Young Award winners square off this evening in the Brox in the first World Series game to be played at New Yankee Stadium. This will be just the 6th time former Cy Young winners will face off in the World Series and the first time since the1999 World Series when Roger Clemens and John Smoltz faced off. This will be the 105th edition of the World Series and it gets underway tonight in the Bronx. The Yanks are throwing out CC Sabathia and the Phillies are countering with Cliff Lee. The Phillies will be looking to spoil the party in hopes of going Back to Back as the Champions of the World.

It wasn’t that long ago that these 2 pitchers were on the same team in Cleveland and dreaming of being in this game...only together. But as we see in all sports, economics and a bad team in Cleveland has reared its head and forced moves that have landed these 2 aces elsewhere. Cleveland’s misfortune are great gains to the Yanks and Phils. Without these 2 guys these teams probably wouldn’t be in the position they are in. These 2 guys are workhorses - especially CC and it will be interesting to see how the strategy plays out. Depending on each teams position, it will dictate how many times you see these guys in the series. The potential, because of the TV induced off days may allow them to throw games 1-4 and 7. That may not be an ideal setup but I guess at this point you have a lot of time to rest before the start of next season.

Weather will have to be a factor, face it these are 2 Eastern teams and it is the end of October and heading towards November and it is supposed to be cold and wet. CC is well insulated so it shouldn't be an issue for him but the rest of the pitchers will have to stay warm. Maybe it will go the other way, maybe it will become an issue for the bats, will it be them that freeze up. Just like early April days hitting is at a premium when it is cold. What will the threat of rain do? What if there is a delay or postponement and you lose the service of a pitcher, that could sway a series one way or another. Time to brush off the baseball almanac and see if anyone’s parents are mudders. Maybe his mother is a mudder...his father is a mudder.

My question is how good does Alex Rodriguez have to be for Yankee Stadium to be deemed the house that ARod Built or does that designation still fall to George and/or Jeter??

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

New Chief For Kyle

Kyle Busch will have a new crew chief after this weekend’s race at Talladega Super speedway, with Joe Gibbs Racing replacing Steve Addington on Tuesday after a season that fell far short of expectations.

“We evaluate all of our teams on an ongoing basis and believe this is a change that will make the 18 team stronger as we prepare for next season,” said JGR president J.D. Gibbs.

After last nights appearance on WWE RAW it looks like John Cena will have the inside track for that position.

Tee Up To Tip Off

T- minus 8 hours and counting. NBA you are on the clock.

The 2009/2010 season is almost here and is set to get started. There has been a lot of off season changes throughout the league by many of the teams. It looks on the surface that the rich have gotten richer and more then likely the powerhouses that you saw last year will remain the same or may be even better. The defending champion Lakers effectively swapped forwards in bringing in defensive shut down man Ron Artest from Houston and Houston has taken Trevor Ariza, That leaves the Lakers with Kobe, Lamar, Ron-Ron and then throw in a Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynam (health permitting) plus whom ever you choose to run the point. The Spurs picked up Richard Jefferson in a solid move and the West will once again be tight and loaded with talent. The Rockets without Artest, Yao Ming and depending on how Tracy McGrady comes back could be in the worst shape.

In the East there is probably more of a gap between the top tier teams and the lower but the ones at the top should prove to be right there with some of the best from the West. Shaq has joined with Lebron in Cleveland so it will be interesting to see how that marriage works out and if Shaq can keep up with the speed of the game that the Cavs are used to playing. In a sneaky move the Celtics picked up Rasheed Wallace and that can only make the team deeper. A lot of people think that ‘Sheed is too emotional but there is no dispute that he is a winner and a talent. If Boston gets a healthy Kevin Garnett back they will be one of the favorites to come out of the conference. The Magic pick up an older Vince Carter so it will be interesting to watch what they do in Orlando. Last year they had a great run but time will tell if the chemistry has changed for the better. What will also be interesting to see, as we look close to home is how a completely revamped lineup will come together and if they can gel enough to put up some good numbers and secure a solid playoff spot. Into the mix with All Star Chris Bosh is returnee Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon and in his first full year Head Coach Jay Triano are newcomers Hedo Turkoglu, Demar DeRozan, Reggie Evans, Antoine Wright, Sonny Weems, Amir Johnson and Jarrett Jack.

It is going to be nice to have another pro sport up and going to complement the Baseball and World Series and NASCAR and the Chase who are in the home stretch. The NHL is a month into it’s season, and the NFL and NCAA football is in full force. Right now is not a bad time to be a sports fan. Enjoy!!

Monday, October 26, 2009

The October Classic

Last night the New York Yankees finally sealed the fate of the LA Angles of Anaheim. The Yanks put their foot down and killed any chance of a game 7 - 1 game do or die scenario. On paper it probably was closer then it should have been. When you are outspending the team you are playing by about $90M you are expected to win. That being said they have been outspending every other team for years it is just a matter of spending money wisely. of that $90M you are basically talking about 3 players extra, Mark Texteria, AJ Burnett and C.C. Sabathia. Granted those are a pretty good players.

Now we can look forward to what should be a very entertaining World Series and The Yankees from New York take on the Phillies from Philadelphia. As is usually the case it will likely come down to the best run of pitchers and this series has some solid rotations. The Yankees have a bit of an edge as their starters appear to be a bit more consistent but at any given time these guys can shut sown a team. If the Phillies hope to hang they will continue to need good solid performances from Pedro Martinez, AJ Happ Joe Blanton and have Cole Hammels rebound a bit.

Both these teams have lineups that they can throw at you that doesn’t give you a chance to relax 1 thru 8 and 1 thru 9 are jam packed with offence and no one can be taken lightly. That will keep the pitchers defenders and managers on their toes. It will be interesting to see who will see more pitches to hit ARod or Ryan Howard. Both are pretty close to that place where it is a safer bet to just walk the guys an not let them hurt you. Sometimes it is just easier to stomach having Nick Swisher or Shane Victorino beat you.

As much as I don’t want to see the Yankees win since they are still the Evil Empire I also don’t want to see the Phillies do well just out of principle. The Phillies are coming out of the National League East and that is where MY Braves should be. All that being said one of these two teams are going to come out the victors and with the staff that the Yanks have and Mariano Rivera at the back I have to give the edge to NY and they will likely take the series in 6 games. If and when they do win the World Series it will also probably be in spite of and not because of Manager Joe Girardi. I don’t trust his judgement and he has had a bit of a rocky run not only in this years playoffs but over his tenure as team manager. An interesting side note to this series, if the Yankees do win, does that finally make ARod a true Yankee?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Week 7 NFL Picks

So last week was another sub .500 week with a record of 5-9. The games this week don't make it any easier to make up any ground either. I think there are a lot of trap games in here and I am thinking that playing the Proline this week is even more futile then usual so this may just be a week of watching as a fan and not someone who wants to part with his money.

With that being said here are this weeks picks and we will hope that we can straighten out this arrow.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Keeper Pool

So I have entered into a Keeper Hockey Pool for the first time. I usually play a variety of Fantasy sports over the course of the year. I had a couple baseball Leagues, a NASCAR team, a Football team and a few different hockey teams and now a Keeper Pool. For those who are not aware this is where you select a team and that is now your team, you are the GM and keep the same team year in and year out.

Since this is the first year there was a 22 round live draft with the other 8 participants for a total of 9 teams to make up the rosters. Each team has 15 players from the original 22 man roster that will count toward the pool totals. The top 8 forwards, 5 defence and 2 goalies points are eligible. Each team also gets 5 draft picks per year that can be used as part of trades or selections at the beginning of the next year. At the end of the year you can only protect 15 players + 2 rookies. It makes it so that GM’s need to be decent at not only pro but amateur scouting.

This will prove interesting to see how it goes as there are a few people in the league that have been involved in leagues like this before or currently and have already worked on strategies that they believe will work to build a team. Will that be an advantage or will the fresh ideas play better or worse, time will tell.

I would like to introduce you now to YOUR Los Louis Blue Kings!! At Forward - Pavel Datsyuk, Jarome Iginla, Martin St. Louis, Simon Gagne, Brad Boyes, Martin Havlat, Johan Franzen, Phil Kessel, Brenden Morrow, Cody Hodgson, Jamie Langenbrunner, Ray Whitney, Shane Doan, and Kyle Turris.
On Defence - Shea Weber, Dan Boyle, Brent Burns, Marek Zidlicky, Jaroslav Spacek, Alex Pietrangelo
In Goal - Marc-Andre Fleury, Ilya Bryzgalov
I am not displeased with my team at this time, some of my players have stumbled out of the gates a bit but it is still early and hopefully they can turn it around soon. The loss of Franzen will hurt with him being out for at least 4-6 months. Where I think I will have problems is once I have a player I become very loyal and perhaps overvalue them and it may make it hard for me to agree to making deals. I also like the idea of pulling the trigger on a blockbuster so that will be the internal fight.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Is That Stevie Wonder At Third?

I understand that there is a lot of pressure being an official both at the amateur and professional level. There are always calls that are a matter of interpretation or differ from the angle and position that the individual is in at the time of the play. I know that in pretty much all professional sports the percentage of the call that are made correctly far outweigh those of the ones that are missed. As is the case in most any situation, people don’t comment on plays that go well only those that are missed or messed up. There was a call where the "phantom" double play called the runner safe because the defender was not on the bag...that call is never made, but it was here. Then Mark Teixeira’s foot may or may not have come slightly off the bag and that is now a huge issue "He’s off the bag" Guess each base has its own standards and I suppose double standard. Guess that a game of inches only applies in certain circumstances.

That being said the umpiring in this years baseball playoffs seem to have too many of these oversights. Sure an umpire, not unlike a player can have a bad night and that is what seems to have happened a few times already this post season. First there was just a pitiful call made by Phil Cuzzi on a Joe Mauer flare down the line in the ALDS where a ball that was so fair that you could have landed a plane in the area between the balls landing area and the foul line. What makes that a little worse is that the umpire that made that call would not usually be there during the regular season. In the Playoffs they add the 2 extra umps down the lines for just that reason, it is likely that ball would have been called right had it just been the normal 4 man crew.

Then there was Tuesday nights gong show of calls. There were 3 calls that were made that were either incorrect or highly questionable. In a span of 11 batters, umpires Dale Scott and Tim McClelland blew three calls so badly that you have to wonder what is going on. Scott called Nick Swisher safe on a pick off play at second base in which he was tagged on the hand. Next was McClelland who took a run off the board when he called Swisher out on appeal for leaving third base early on a sac fly to center field. He was behind Swisher looking to the outfield and in no position to make the appeal call. Lastly McClelland somehow called Robinson Cano safe after he was tagged when he was standing still, two feet off third base. Looking at the picture (which says 1000 words or perhaps beyond). These were not cases where you had to run replays several times from several angles to figure out the proper call.

They use replays to determine home runs but that is all. I don’t want replay to take over baseball, and it is, of all the sports the one need the human touch to be true to itself. Ball and strikes should not be subject to change but maybe some calls that are more black and white should be subject a second look. With high-definition cameras, super-slow motion replays and other technological advances of broadcasts maybe some calls should be reviewable. I’m not a fan of more instant replay because the more you allow, the more cumbersome it gets but these were blatantly awful calls and not an issue where replay should have even been needed. It is just good that it did not impact the outcome of the game, but the thought that it could be is the big issue.

Here is a short list of other blown calls this post season:
1. Brandon Ing being hit by a pitch on his jersey
2.Kevin Youkilis tagging out Howie Kendrick at first base
3. At least 3 check swings that aren't even close
4. Ronnie Belliard being called safe on a stolen base

Fisher Dons Manning Jersey

The Tennessee Titans got it handed to them on Sunday versus the New England Patriots 59-0. The team sunk to a woeful 0-6 and it looked like the players just gave up on the game. Some people may blame the Patriots for running up the score but I don't believe that is even close to the case. The Pats and especially Tom Brady have been questioned on just how good they are and in Brady's case if he is not the player he used to be coming of the major knee injury he sustained in the first game last season so this was a perfect opportunity in the snow to show and tell everybody that they can still put up numbers if they want and offers a warning to opponents in the upcoming weeks. There is also the old adage - If you don't want me to run up the score, do something to stop me. You I am not going to take my foot off the pedal until you make me hit the brakes.

As for the Titans they have been a huge shock at just how bad they have been. On the lighter side of this is Coach Jeff Fisher. Fisher was to introduce Tony Dungy but before he did, he removed his jacket and dress shirt to reveal a blue Peyton Manning jersey underneath. Fisher stepped back up to the microphone and said, “I just wanted to feel like a winner,” drawing laughter and applause from the crowd of about 2,500. If I was a Titans fan I too may have found that a little bit of a slap in the face but come on, funny is funny and after a game like that you can't help but poke a little fun. It was all in good nature and was done as a clear joke and not as shot to the team or the organization. Some people are just a little too sensitive.

Fisher later apologised on his radio show saying "This is a very worthwhile and needy benefit and I was honored to be there. & I'm sorry if I offended anybody but if I had to do it again, I would do it again." He also said "I was introducing Tony, just having fun with it and I really apologize if I offended anybody, but if you're offended over the nature of that type of thing, then I think you need to rethink things."

I couldn't agree more sometimes political correctness goes to far. If it isn't offensive, mean spirited or racist/bias in any way the best thing to do is what the 2,500 people in attendance did - Laugh and Applaud I mean come on Funny is Funny

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Around The Horn

~ Sad news from the tennis world. One of my favorite players when I was younger was the Swiss Miss, Former No. 1 Martina Hingis won’t be making a comeback to competitive tennis. Hingis, Now 29 who retired 2 years ago after a small run in with a positive cocaine test (which she denied direct use, for whatever that is worth). Hingis said: "I’ve got a nice house, my four horses. ... On the tour, I had no life." She will be fondly remembered on the court and maybe she will get a change of heart, but at age 29 that is close to the end for a woman tennis player.

~Hendrick Motorsports must feel pretty good right now. They have the first 3 spots in the NASCAR Chase for the Championship. Jimmie Johnson currently leads 2nd place belongs to Mark Martin and 3rd goes to Jeff Gordon. Now I will be the first to say don’t count any eggs before they hatch. There are a lot of races and time left for things to happen but at present time it must be nice. As for the 4th driver on that team, the once thought of decent driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. wallows in 22nd place. It is like he is one of those holdings that you expect to lose money on so you don’t have to pay as much tax. His name seems to be a blessing and a curse, he is famous and rich just for his name but had little or no chance to live up to daddy’s legacy and may not be as good a driver as people think he is or thought he could be.

~ Chase Utley has made two costly throwing errors, and bounced a ball to first from 2nd base and his name is now being mentioned with Steve Sax and Chuck Knoblauch. Even Rick Ankiel and Todd Hundley feel bad for this guys arm. He is lucky that right now his team is good enough to insulate his mistakes. I hope for his sake that it doesn’t continue to the World Series when they get there.

~ The Phillies mounted quite the comeback in the ninth inning of Game 4. Those who stayed to watched were rewarded in getting the chance to see it live. Many Ramirez was not one of these people. Taken out for defensive purposes he was back in the clubhouse taking a shower. Sure he could have stayed in the dugout with his team and been cheering for them but instead he chose that he needed a shower right away. Manager Joe Torre didn't seem too concerned saying:
"Manny has so much confidence," Torre said. "When we get a lead late in the game, and I've taken him out, whether it be for defense or we have a big lead, when we go up to shake hands after the game, he's in his street clothes. "So, it's really nothing different than he's done before. I don't think it's disrespect or anything. He wasn't going anywhere until the game was over, and we can't put him back in the game."
That may be true but the is something to be said about sticking with your team...Just Manny being Manny I guess.

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Good Case Of The Mondays

Big day for a Monday upcoming the plate is full and the cup runneth over. There is a big game coming up in the NFL Monday night’er between the Bronco’s and the Chargers. This actually sets up to be a big game that was probably on nobody’s radar at the beginning of the season but that should be a good one. It will be interesting to see if San Diego can pull this out as it is almost a must win so they don’t fall back too far in the division.

Even better there are 2 baseball games today and the beauty is that one of those games are actually going to be played in the afternoon or early evening depending on your location. The fact that it is a Yankee’s game that is not the one in prime time is probably the biggest shock of all. There is something to be said for having a game played while just about the whole country is awake to see it. Sure an afternoon game in LA is going to be pretty hot but that is part of the fun. In the second game it looks like the Phillies will be able to finish off the Dodgers after laying the boots to them last night. After a game like that it will be tough to come right back in an elimination game.

The NHL may only have 3 games on the sched but of those 3 games Dany Heatley and the Sharks are playing the 7-1 Rangers and then at 8:30 the Kings take to ice in Dallas so this is a case of quality over quantity. Not too often that you can get so many Western Conference games shown before 10pm eastern. Now that I like the Blues and Kings there is much less of a west coast/east coast bias over here and the more games that I get to see from them the better.

And of course one can’t forget that the special guest host for WWE Monday Night Raw is none other then the D-O double G! That’s right Snoop Dogg will be in the house and lending his hand at running the Sports Entertainment show. The potential for Ron "The Truth" Killings and Chryme Tyme getting in some rhymes with the Dogg is enough to make you...switch to the baseball game.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Week 6 NFL Picks

After another rough week I am looking to bounce back. The week 5 results almost managed to meet the .500 mark but alas it fell ever so short with a final of 6-8 versus the spread. Most of the outrageously large spreads were covered, guess that is because the teams that they were playing are just plain bad. I am looking to break out of this sub .500 funk soon, maybe this week will be the week. Lets see how week 6 plays out.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

What Grinds My Gears!!

Now I know that I may be "sampling" the title from a few sources including another blogger but in a case like this I think that it is not only warranted but may even be embraced.

You know what Grinds My Gears? You CBC and CRTC ... F#^% You - When the Toronto based CBC shows a crappy Leafs Game in HD and not the Ottawa-Montreal game I get a bad taste in my mouth.

The Montreal Canadians are playing the Ottawa Senators on a Saturday Night. This is good, after all it is Hockey Night in Canada. What is better then the most successful team in NHL history versus another great Canadian team from our Nations Capital? I can tell you what it should be and that is the availability of the game being shown in HD. This is the most ridiculous thing I have seen in some time. What game does the CBC decide to show...the NY Rangers and the WINLESS Toronto Maple Leafs.

So when you have 2 Canadian teams facing off that are not only divisional rivals but separated by a mere 200 or so kilometers on a Saturday night, on a Canadian network and you show a winless team who is in such a bad place right now that their practices now consist of playing dodge ball on the ice with tennis balls.

What just made things worse, just this second... they were just interviewing Tomáš Plekanec and it was Cassie Campbell conducting the interview. Yeah, I was just robbed of seeing Cassie in High Def.

Ok, sorry, back to the issue at hand. I was recently notified by Bell that I am now going to be charged monthly for a local television fee. First off there is no "local tv" they don't even have the Ottawa CTV on my satellite, I get the news and like Regional Contact or something on some alternate channel. All the other "local programming" is simulcast programs from American networks. That is a far cry from local. If I am going to be charged for local programming, which I am already paying for I would think that a Senators-Canadians game should apply. I don't think that is too much to ask. I have had a big issue with the CRTC and how limited the options are when watching sports and getting sports channels and it is just getting worse. It is just like having games blacked out. I know that that is partly the sports leagues bylaws but I still think that if I am paying for Sportsnet West and there is a Flames-Oilers game I should have the right to watch it.


Friday, October 16, 2009

NASCAR Hall Of Fame

For some reason it has taken until now for NASCAR to decide to have their own Hall of Fame. With the loyalty of the fans in that sport having a Hall of Fame say in North Carolina where most of the teams call home and host of 2 events a year the ever image conscious racing series would have been well served to have a shrine set up. You know what they say...If You Build It, They Will Come. With the way that the sport has escalated from the deep south and running moonshine and racing on beaches to the sophisticated machines you see today, drivers and fans alike have always had a soft spot for the history of the sport. The nostalgic days of NASCAR are always brought up, the old drivers are held in such high regard by all connected to the sport.

I guess it is better late then never but perhaps setting such a restricted number of inductees may have been a poor decision. When you have an entire lifespan of a sport to take from setting a limit of 5 may be a tad short sighted. The inaugural class will include: NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., Bill France Jr., Dale Earnhardt, Richard Petty and Junior Johnson. All deserving and that is not an issue but it is hard to overlook David Pearson, his exclusion surprised many...including Petty. "Anybody that won 105 races and didn’t make the cut -- somebody ain’t adding right," Petty said of Pearson.

NASCAR did not release the voting totals and said the order in which they were announced did not reflect the results. A NASCAR spokesman said Pearson, Cale Yarborough and Bobby Allison were the next three highest vote getter's but did not reveal in what order. As in any Hall of Fame vote it is easy to question the ones who were excluded and where do you draw the line so you can only do what you can do but for the first year maybe cap it after more then only 5 people.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Baseball Fever - Catch It!

It all begins tonight. The Phils and Dodgers get their NLCS rematch underway at Chavez Ravine. Dodger Stadium will host game 1 tonight for the right to represent the National League in the World Series. The Yankees will begin their series tomorrow in game 1 of the ALCS versus the LA Angles.

The Phillies, defending World Series Champs will throw ace Cole Hamels up against 21-year-old left-hander Clayton Kershaw. Hamels took the loss in Game 2 of the NLDS but may have a bit of an excuse as his wife went into labour during the game. After he was taken out he was notified and was rushed to the hospital. Hamels said: "Best cop ride I had ever been a part of when I wasn’t in the back, Just being able to be there with my wife and my family and then to go through that process of the labor and then all of a sudden the birth -- it was definitely an emotional day." He may be a little more focused this time around and will have to be facing a difficult Dodgers lineup.

Don’t discount the young arm that LA is throwing out there, Kershaw has shown that he may be big time and deserving to take the ball in game 1.

What is interesting but not necessarily a good thing, all 4 teams involved in the LCS’s have payrolls that surpass $100M. It is good that they seem to have spent their money wisely enough to get to this point but it also reminds us that in baseball you seem to need to spend money to compete.

In any event it is October and it is baseball and that is truly what is important. This is time for baseball fever and unlike the Swine Flu this fever is ok to catch!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Quick Hits

Word out of Cleveland is that the hapless Browns are currently shopping young QB Brady Quinn. The question there a market for him? Quinn has just put his home up for sale. Foreshadowing? What is funny about the situation is it appears that coach Eric Mangini doesn’t think that he can be a starting QB in the NFL. My question is who has made the decision that Mangini can either a) coach or b) evaluate talent. I have not seen any supporting evidence.

From the files of "I could have seen that coming". Vancouver Canucks D-man Sami Salo is out 4-6 weeks with a sprained MCL. This is a guy that has a load of talent and a shot that would break the glass but has just about the worst possible luck when it comes to injuries. You may not know when or where but sooner or later Salo will do something to take him out of the lineup. His luck is so bad that he would be the guy that would go Titanic and run into a iceberg in Phoenix and dislocate his shoulder.

The Toronto Maple Leafs are currently 0-5-1 and their "top" 2 goaltenders, Jonas Gustavsson and Vesa Toskala are hurt. Joey MacDonald is next in line. Maybe they gave up on Justin Pogge too soon. Word is Allen Bester and Peter Ing are both hanging out near their phones awaiting a call.

Junior Seau is doing his best impression of a boxer or pro wrestler. Seau has decided to yet again unretire and re- join the New England Patriots. The 40-year-old, 12-time Pro Bow linebacker has signed on and will likely be in uniform soon. As much as I find it funny that he keeps coming back it is much easier to tolerate then the way Brett Favre did his dealings. This was quiet and just happened, now big press conferences or public suggestions that he may want to return for 3 months. He wanted to play they needed him and it happened, no big production nothing. Not even a Sears commercial.

Who is the more alienating potential owner in pro sports? Jim Balsillie in the NHL or Rush Limbaugh in the NFL. Right now I am thinking it is a 1a 1b thing. The is no love for Balsillie by Gary Bettman or the Board of Governors and the likelihood of getting a team is not great at present. Limbaugh has been linked to a possible bid by Dave Checketts to buy the St Louis Rams. The Colts owner Jim Irsay vowed to vote against him and commissioner Roger Goodell said the conservative commentator’s "divisive" comments would not be tolerated from any NFL insider. It is nice to see that even the mighty NHL machine can have ownership controversy too.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

With The First Overall Selection, I will Select....

So upon further review and after numerous self imposed deadlines have passed it looks like we may now have a winner for my affection in the NHL’s Western Conference going forward. As I had listed previously there were a few teams in the running. The Blues, The Coyotes, The Kings and The Blue Jackets.

The league essentially is in control of the Phoenix Coyotes as a caretaker and not an owner, at least as it stands now. The future still in doubt both as a franchise and the location of the city. There is also question marks regarding the how the team may be structured in the near future because of this move I am just not confident hitching my wagon to this horse. The coaching staff is now as solid as it can be but that just isn’t enough. The Blue Jackets were a surprise dark horse and managed to prove that they are on the right path, but the management still doesn’t re-assure me and that took them out of the running. the endorsement of Antoine Vermette didn’t help their position.

So then it went right down to the wire between the Kings and the Blues...The Blues and the Kings. Where to go? What to believe? Is one better off in the next few years, is one poised to be better in the long run? St. Louis is looking strong up front but LA looks deep on the back end. Should I just go with the prettiest colours and nicest logo? Can I allow Chris Mason’s former beard sway my decision? Does the speculation about Jack Johnson’s attitude play a factor? All these things factored into the agonizing decision. Both have great Pros and even the Cons aren’t that bad. The Blues made the playoffs so that gives them a head start, good young offence and a promising defence. The Kings have some cap space, prospects and a nice first rounder from last year in Brayden Schenn in their back pocket. This makes them comparable or equally appealing.
Well since right now not much can really happen either way for either of these teams until likely the trade deadline or a major injury, I may as well just go ahead, take the plunge and make a decision. The decision has been delays....I am going to tell you....i’ll do it right now...

The team is...
THE LOS LOUIS BLUE KINGS, and I suppose that is going to have to be my final answer. Cheap call? Perhaps. I don’t consider it sitting on the fence. It is just like a goaltending situation in hockey or a running back situation in football. It is a 1A/1B deal or like they call it a two headed monster. I went back and forth so many times that I decided if it was such a close race what is the harm in a tie. It also occurs to be that both have good solid Gretzky ties and that is not a bad thing, Share the wealth.

So now with this selection I now have an Eastern Conference team to root for in the Ottawa Senators and a pair Western Conference teams in the LA Kings and the St. Louis Blues. I guess now I may have to go in search for my favorite player on all my teams. In Ottawa it was Dany Heatley without a doubt. Dany is still number 1 overall but as for the team that is questionable. I will also have to think about an LA and St. Louis player as well. That will be the next tall task, hopefully it will be easier then picking the teams were.

The beauty of LA is that they have 3 distinct looks and that gives one options when it comes to merchandising. I can go new with the Purple/White Crown (Drew Doughty style), retro with the less desirable Yellow and Purple Crown (maybe Brian Kilrea Style) or the Straight outta Compton - Grey and Black look (old school Gretzky style). St. Louis pretty much just has the 1 true look so that limits any possible decisions.
Yes, I think this sound may play well here. I think the correct decision has been made and I have come to peace with it.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Week 5 NFL Picks

So last week I managed to go back to the sub .500 area with a record of 6-8 versus the spread. There were some assumptions made that teams were not as bad as I thought. Clearly I was wrong. This week is a tough week too. The point spreads are high due to some miss-matches and the are some big injuries that may effect how teams approach the games and if teams keep the foot on the pedal or decide to coast. That is what is going to make things interesting. Time will tell.

So without further delay here are my Week 5 picks.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Who's Shooting & Who's Scoring

In an ode to the immortal Elvis Presley last night it was- One for the money, Two for the show, Three to get ready, Now Go, Dany, Go. Only difference is that Dany’s shoes are now Teal or perhaps a Sea foam Green and not Blue Suede. In the San Jose Sharks home opener the newly acquired winger Dany Heatley hit the ice with his stick afire. He gave the home fans just what they wanted to see...a goal and then followed that up thricely netting himself a Hat Trick. Not a bad way to welcome yourself to a new team, new city and new fan base.

After a summer of turmoil, speculation, questions and complaints nothing could have been better for not only Heater but for the Sharks. Joe Thornton ended the night with 4 assists and the line of Heatley, Thornton and Setoguchi looks to have clicked so far.

This was almost just as bad as it could be for his old club, the Ottawa Senators. Seeing what they are missing and what could have been can be nothing but a kick in the "pads". Sure they managed to squeak out a victory over the NY Islanders 3-2 in overtime but when you not only look at the difficulty that they had with a lesser opponent but also the struggle to score.
Granted that it is still VERY early in the season but not too early to tell that this team is going to have major difficulties scoring. The top looking lines have been the "energy lines" or "3rd and 4th lines". They are outplaying the others enough that the coach even rewarded them with power play time. The top lines don’t look like they are great at creating a lot of offence and nor does the rest of the team. Just take a snap shot of the 2 regular time goals that were scored. The Peter Regan goal was a lucky jam play after the puck left the ice surface, hit the mesh and came back in...the players all stopped, the reffs didn’t see it and then the puck was in the net...Fluke. The second by Matt Carkner was a bank shot from behind the goal line that banked off the goaltenders stick and trickled over the line. Sure a goal is a goal but these type of goals are not something that can be counted on in a game by game basis . Then look at the goals Dany scored, wrap around top shelf, snap shot while storming in down the wing and finally a penalty shot for the Hat Trick. Not only were they goals but they were pretty goals, goals that seemed not effortless but easier.

It could be a long season if they aren’t going to be able to manufacture goals 5 on 5. Again, it is only 2 games in and there is a lot of time for the guys to get thier feet wet and have the new guys get used to playing with one another. I am just saying that matching the number of goals is one thing matching the threat is quite another. I will presume that a goalie is going to be a lot more intimidated with Dany Heatley coming at him then Jonathan Cheechoo.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

The Hunt For October Success

Last nights play-in game between the Twins and the Tigers was one of those games that you don’t want to miss. It may not have been the prettiest games ever played and it may have been far from flawless but it had a bit of everything. There were some awful plays, questionable decisions, great plays, blunders, heroics, small ball, long ball, pitching yourself into a corner, pitching out of a jam...everything. The game went to 12 innings with 55,000+ people in the Metrodome yelling and screaming and only a small portion actually using their seats.

It was relay a true taste to just how special and magical October baseball can be. When every pitch is magnified, every scenario could mean the difference on whether or not you will be playing tomorrow. That is what is so special about baseball. Some find it slow and in some cases many regular season games are like that but come playoff time all bets are off and anything is possible. One of the best things about the game was that it was a 5pm EST. start and all the drama happened in prime time where people could actually see it and not at 1am EST or 10pm PST finish (the late games are always an issue when we hit this time of year).

So the matchups are set and the games are a foot...well the games are just games actually.
***Colorado - Philadelphia *** Minnesota -NY Yankees*** St. Louis - LA Dodgers ***Boston - LA Angels of Anaheim.

It should be interesting to see how the series' will all play out, Minnesota will be running on fumes and are 0-7 vs New York, the Angles always has trouble with the Sox in the playoffs but this year thay have more pitching and that could make the difference this year. The Dodgers almost gave up a huge September lead to the Rockies and are not looking great. While Philadelphia's pitching staff is great at the top and deep.

Moving on to the ALCS I see Boston vs New York again and the NLCS I see St. Louis taking on Philadelphia

Should be a fun October however it shakes down.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

No Good Happens After 1:00am

Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers can’t be too proud of the position that he has put himself and his team into. The Tigers are in a 1 game playoff or play-in game versus the Twins today at 5pm. The winner goes on to play the New York Yankees, probably tomorrow, the loser goes home until next year. You would think that in a race that was so tight that every win would count and every game was like a playoff game you would prepare as such...not the case. Sure ball players will go out, even during playoff time..I did when I was playing competitive ball - the whole team did and...we lost the next day, despite being the better team, also we were 16 and not making $150+ million to play. If this was just an alcohol thing that would be one thing we all know about the legendary story of Mickey Mantle hitting a home run by "swinging at the one in the middle," or David Wells pitching his perfect game while hung over.

Leave it to another Detroit team to be involved in an alcohol story at playoff time. In the spring of 1988, a half dozen Detroit Red Wings stayed out after curfew drinking at an Edmonton bar called Goose Loonies on the eve of a Stanley Cup Western Conference final game against the Oilers in which the Wings sought to stave off elimination. They did not.

Cabrera played in last Friday’s loss versus the White Sox, then after while talking to reporters he suggested he planned a quiet night at home to prepare for Saturday’s game. That didn’t quite happen, actually nothing could have been further from the truth. According to reports Cabrera managed to find his way home at around 6am Saturday morning following a night of carousing with some White Sox players. That may not be the best idea at the best of times but even more so when you are your teams best hitter and seen as a leader on the team. If that was the worst thing that happened all would be good, sadly it was not. It was at this point when he got into an altercation with his wife. Fighting with your wife is never good but doing so while intoxicated can only lead to bad things. Regardless on who instigated the altercation it was the wife that made the call to police. Cabrera had scratches on his face, it was not reported if they were inflicted by had or by a weapon like a knife. The police came to the house and took Cabrera to the station where he blew a 0.26 - 3 times the legal limit to drive- legally drunk. The police seemed to hint at the "legal limit to dive" as a way to perhaps lead people to believe that he may have driven himself and not taken a taxi or car service (not that he could afford one with his eight-year, $152.3-million US contract). If that is true this storey could be even worse.

Allegedly, Tigers president Dave Dombrowski was the one who picked up Cabrera at the police station early Saturday morning. When he made it to the ballpark, and asked to explain his facial lacerations Saturday, Cabrera suggested they were the work of the family dog, noting it was a particularly big dog...the cover-up just is not a good idea. Cabrera was in the line up for the 4pm game on Saturday where he stranded 6 runners and went 0-4. At least the baseball gods got that one right. Suffering from the combined effects of a hangover, sleep deprivation and a physical confrontation, you wouldn’t expect one to have the best eye at the plate...and he didn’t.

It is bad enough that he put himself and his team in that situation but should they come up short there will be a lot more questions that people will ask. My question is: If this was a regular guy would he have been let out of jail so quick, just released when his boss showed up? Just seems like a bit of a double standard. Dante Stallworth killed a guy and served virtually no time in prison, is this a money can buy justice type thing? You be the judge. I just hope that the Tigers don’t win, there is just something wrong with him being seen as a hero and celebrating a division title in the clubhouse with a bottle of Champagne and a cigar. I would much rather see him face the public in Detroit or better still a judge in Detroit.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Battle Of The Blades

I blame The San Diego Chargers for coming out of the blocks way too slow and not being able to make the Sunday night NFL game interesting until late in the 4th quarter when they started to blaze down the field and started putting up points and made the Steelers sweat a bit. It is because of that that I began to roam around the stations just for a look see. It was the last regular day for baseball so ESPN did not have an 8pm baseball game. All 15 NHL teams played Saturday so it was a rare night, especially early in the season that the lights were off in the league and there wasn’t 1 game on the schedule. NASCAR had wrapped up with Jimmie coming in 9th due to a small mistake by Chad Knaus to take on 4 tires instead of just 2 and losing valuable track position.

At that point I stumbled upon Battle of the Blades on CBC. This is a Canadian version of Dancing with the Stars...on Ice. They match up former NHL players with well known Canadian female skaters. The lineup includes: Claude Lemieux and Shae-Lynn Bourne, Jamie Sale and Craig Simpson, Ken Daneyko and Jodeyne Higgins, Stephane Richer and Marie-France Dubreuil, Bob Probert and Kristina Lenko, Glenn Anderson and Isabelle Brasseur. Ron Duguay and Barbara Underhill and finally Tie Domi and Christine Hough-Sweeney (her husband is former NHL player and current Asst. GM for the Bruins Don Sweeney).

I feel like there was a level of entrapment on the part of the producers. I was tricked into watching with Ron McLean hosting and Kelly Hrudey as one of the judges. I am a fan of both these guys on Hockey Night In Canada and find that Kelly Hrudey has become a great analyst and is a pretty funny I watched. It felt wrong but it was compelling. What was an even dirtier move was the fact that they put up Shae-Lynn Bourne and Jamie Sale up first, back to can you not watch these two stunning ladies??

Hrudey was MR. Complement and was in charge of complementing the ladies on how well they skated and how great they looked..and even extended a few interesting remarks to some of the guys...Ravishing should not be a unisex word by the way Kelly.

Overall it actually was a lot more watchable then I thought it would be and the hockey players for the most part actually handled themselves pretty well. I do have a fear that these guys will try to do to much or make a mistake and hurt on of the ladies. Marie-France Dubreuil was already knocked out earlier in the week after hitting the ice. Who I do feel a little bad for is Kristina Lenko, she looks like a sweet girl but I think Probert may be the first to be on the way out. The other one I feel bad for is Christine Hough-Sweeney, having to skate with Tie Domi.

I may be forced to keep watching for a little while...but it still feels wrong.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Week 4 NFL Picks

So there was a bit of a bounce back last week in my picks department. After just a brutal week the week before I managed to go a respectable 10-6 versus the spread. This week has a lot of games that on paper are mis-matches, but the games arn't played on paper so that is where things will be interesting. It isn't so much who will win but more who will manage to put up enough points to cover.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

JP Out For The Jays

The ax finally fell in Toronto and the rocky reign of J.P. Ricciardi is now over (Pimp'n Ain't Easy!). The Toronto Blue Jays fired the GM of the team after eight-years where the best finish was a 2nd place finish in 2006 with a 87-75 record. The team never did get even close to a sniff of the post season during his time leading the club. Granted he did have a lot of injuries that kept cropping up and took the steam out of any possible movement in the standings but even that excuse began to wear thin. The players that entered the lineup while all these players were hurt and carried the load was good to see but it goes to show that identifying talent was his greatest attribute. Sure he had the players in the system but to not be able to identify that the players were ready to progress at the next level ultimately helped seal his ticket out of town.

He was given a lot of money over the years to help compete in the very difficult East with Boston and New York and as a “Money Ball” guy that should have been a great was not. He had the money and spent it unwisely. Horrible contracts were given to BJ Ryan after only 1 good year as a closer, way too much money and term for Frank Thomas, a bad contract to Alex Rios and not trading him when he had the chance (Tim Lincecum for example). $17-million, three-year deal for Canadian Corey Koskie and of course there is the killer contract that he signed Vernon Wells to. As he never proved that he was worthy or was going to reach the level of play that a player making that much money should be at, it was just another over valued player by JP. As an armature scout or a draft guy he was pretty good, he aquired some good players and very good pitchers but no real Elite players. Identifying pro potential... he was not good.

It seems like every season it was the same thing for the Jays a hopeful start, a sudden collapse, a lack of resources to turn things around, a spate of injuries, some painful decisions related to bad contracts and ultimately, pessimism for the future. The team would also come on strong every mid to late September that would give false hope and make the final record not look as bad as it was. It is a lot easier to win games late when you are so far out of it and the games mean just about nothing.

The Jays now give the keys to Canadian Alex Anthopoulos, 32. Maybe they are hoping that he can be the next Theo Epstine. The team needs to have stability from the top down to get this ship righted. It is interesting timing as there have been reports out of TO about the players having given up on Cito Gaston and there are questions on weather he will stay with the club. With a new GM it is likely that he will want a chance to bring in “his guy” and put his mark on the club. That will be an interesting thing to see going forward. In any event JP’s time was longer than many would have liked but it is over now and it is time for all to move on and hope that it isn’t so broke that it can’t be fixed.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

2009/2001 Pre Season Predictions

So to get the season started I figured that I would throw out some early prediction on NHL Awards and Team final standings. At the end of the season I will go back and revisit the sellections and stee how many...if any I managed to get right. Sure, a lot of things have to go right and injuries will play a role as well. It will be interesting to see if having the Olympics this year affects things either positivly or negativly. Hopefully only for the positive or there may be very few players playing in the next one - except of course for the Russians.

Hart Memorial Trophy, MVP - Alexander Ovechkin, Washington.
Vezina Trophy, goaltender - Roberto Luongo, Vancouver.
James Norris Memorial Trophy, defenseman - Zdeno Chara, Boston.
Calder Memorial Trophy, rookie - Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay.
Frank J. Selke Trophy, defensive forward - Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit.
Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, most gentlemanly - Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit.
Jack Adams Award, coach - Rick Tochett, Tampa Bay.
King Clancy Trophy, humanitarian contribution to hockey - Mike Fisher, Ottawa.
Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, perserverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey - Paul Kariya, St. Louis .
Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award - Mike Richards, Philadelphia.
Art Ross Trophy, points scoring leader - Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh.
Maurice Richard Trophy, goal-scoring leader - Alexander Ovechkin, Washington.
William M. Jennings Trophy, goalies with fewest goals against, minimum 25 games -Roberto Luongo, Andrew Raycroft
Lester B. Pearson Award, outstanding player - Alexander Ovechkin, Washington

Number of 50 goal Scorers -3
Number of players with 100+ points -7

Olympics: Gold- Russia, Silver- Canada, Bronze- Sweden

Eastern Playoff Teams: Washington, Boston, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Carolina, New Jersey, Tampa Bay, Ottawa
Western Playoff Teams: Chicago, Detroit, San Jose, Calgary, Vancouver, St. Louis, Los Angeles

EAST: BOSTON - Philadelphia - Washington

Stanley Cup Showdown: Canucks - Philadelphia
Stanley Cup Champions - Philadelphia

Hockey Starts Here

So tonight is the night when it all gets started. The NHL will drop the puck with 4 games on the schedule, (Washington at Boston 7:00 PM, Montreal at Toronto 7:00 PM, San Jose at Colorado 10:00 PM , Vancouver at Calgary 10pm), and it is about time. After a very long off season, especially in Ottawa without making the playoffs some real games on the ice will be a welcome change. A very difficult off season brought on by the Dany Heatley saga, the turmoil within the ranks of the NHLPA and worst of all the situation in Phoenix a real distraction of actual games will be welcome.

After yesterdays court decision to deny both bids by Jim Balsillie and the NHL to own the club it looks like, at least for the time being that the NHL will operate the club and help look for a "suitable owner" and figure out a plan to get out of the quagmire that is the Coyotes. It appears that Mr. Balsillie has decided not to appeal and is resigned to the fact that he will not be able to get control of this team. Will he try another team and go about it in a more up front way... probably at some point, but at least for now it should be over. With some of that mess gone maybe the NHL can keep the dealings on the team out of the media for a while and we can only hope that the next major public announcement on this matter is they have a new owner ready to step in and take control.

A good line up of games to get things started will be very welcomed. It should be interesting to see 2 original 6 teams and rivals go head to head, both with vastly different teams with that of what they ended with last year. New Looks and new attitudes will be on both benches tonight and should be interesting. Along with that the Sharks will be in action after an interesting and eventful off season. They too have had a lot of turnover, not only in player personnel but also in leadership. Heatley is in, Christian Ehrhoff Milan Michalek and Jonathan Cheechoo are out. Patrick Marlow had the "C" taken from him and that was given to Rob Blake and an "A" was given to Dan Boyle and back to Joe Thornton.. That will surely also be an experiment worth watching throughout the season.

Tomorrow there will be 2 mid-day games from overseas involving the Blues, Wings, Blackawks and Panthers in the NHL’s attempts to grow the game and the NHL brand in Europe. This will be a good chance to see what the Blues look like with back to back games. They are still in the running for my affection and are just jostling for the position of 1A and 1B with themselves and the LA Kings (I figured that if I am this torn between them, perhaps it isn’t fair to just cast one of them away... sometimes it is good to play the field a little). I am sure to have something more to say on that front soon enough.