Monday, November 30, 2009

2009 Sportsman Of The Year

Derek Jeter has just been named as the SI 2009 Sportsman of the Year. I will submit that he is a worth candidate and is the captain of the team that won the World Series, he is the ultimate team player, his numbers are either holding steady or are better now at an advanced age then when he was in his prime which is remarkable PLUS he is a very likeable figure. All that said I do not think that he should have been given this award. Perhaps it is more of a "lifetime achievement award" but even still I think there were some more deserving people.

Tim Tebow is one that comes to mind. He has the Heisman, he has the National Championships he has the looks the leadership and that is just what he does on the football field. When you add onto all that with his humanitarian work and everything he does and has done off the field it is hard to saw that he is not deserving of the award. The fact that there are questions about how he will be as a pro should have been a factor as well. This may be the only time where he will be in a position to win the award and that is now gone.

My vote would have gone to Jimmie Johnson. He has done what no one has ever done in the history of NASCAR winning 4 consecutive Championships. He is doing something that in any other sport would be deemed as super-human and the coverage is weak and the fact that he was overlooked as SI’s Sportsman of the Year is just another bit of proof that there is a double standard. Maybe it is because he is only part of the equation and technology is a big part of it. I find that a weak explanation or excuse, it is a team sport where he uses what he is given, the car is only a small part of what makes him so great. I am guessing that the voters have held his sport against him. When you are at the top of the mountain and not getting the respect that should come with it must be at least a little frustrating. Guess the millions of dollars and the trophies and the super attractive wife make up for that.

Other people that were in consideration were Manny Pacquiao, Kobe Bryant, Usain Bolt and Roger Federer. All these guys deserve to be in the conversation but just didn’t have enough to take the title.

With all that Tiger Woods did over this past year he very well could have been in this list. Imagine if he had won and was going to be honored at the awards night and on the cover after what has gone down regarding himself his wife and his very secretive car accident. That could have made for a very awkward situation for all involved.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Grey Cup 2009

Since it is Canada and it is Grey Cup time I will enter my prediction for the game.
Montreal is favoured by 9.5 points. I presume that they should be able to cover this with ease.
The only problem with that is that they always seem to play close games in the Grey Cup regardless of how big a miss match the game looks on paper. Montreal I think will still win but covering the 9.5 is not likely.

The game is in Calgary but the stands will be a sea of green and if anything it is a home game for the Roughriders. Why Montreal is always so good until the Finals then they struggle. Maybe it is that they never have any adversity during the regular season. The East is so bad they they have 1st wrapped up by Thanksgiving.

Either way enjoy this Canadian Tradition. It is the only game of the CFL that most people will watch and that isn't a bad thing.

Tiger In Trouble?

Tiger Woods appears to be in a bit of hot water right now. After it took nearly 12 hours before his accident to be reported (especially in a world of Twitter and such) lends itself to many questions. At this point all there is is questions and really no answers. The say that alcohol was not a factor, and that may well be true but in the absence of information from either Woods or the police who knows. Maybe there was a domestic situation that led to him leaving after 2am, hitting a fire hydrant and then a neighbours tree.

When it was first reported it said he was seriously injured which made you wonder how this would affect his run at Jack Nicklaus and his records. As probably the best golfer ever it has been widely assumed that the only thing that could de-rail him is injury. I am sure there was a collective gasp when the news was first reported.

They say that his wife, Elin Nordegren aided him out of the automobile by using a golf club to break out the back window...possible, or maybe she broke it out during a fight. We don't know, no one is talking. How bad is he injured? We don't know he is held up in his gated community home. he is usually known for being a man of few words but now it is making him look a lot worse.

I do feel a little bad about the exposure that this is getting but I guess that is the price of being a celebrity. This is also coming at an interesting time as the usually squeaky clean woods has had some bad press in the Tabloids regarding his involvement with another woman (Rachel Uchitel) . Does this have anything to do with the situation...maybe, maybe not. Again we won't know until someone talks.

It is expected that Woods will talk to State Patrol today (Sunday) and the 911 call will likely be released Sunday as well. Maybe that will shed some light. This will be interesting to follow as information trickles out. I am just glad that everyone involved is still alive. Sometimes, not only in sports but society in general it is a much more tragic story.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Week 12 NFL Picks

After Thursday's games hopefully Sunday will provide us with not only better results but closer and better games. The bar has been set pretty low as the Turkey classics were far from that. Football fans deserve some games that are watchable.

With that here are the pics for week 12...fingers crossed.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Volleyball And My TV

Recently, as there usually is on TV , the provider gives you a free preview of new channels or featured channels that may be struggling or are perhaps unknown. In the grand scheme of things all it comes down to is a drug dealer "offering you a free ‘taste’." You accept an bang! Next thing you know you are on A&E on an episode of Intervention.

This is what Bell ExpressVu did with the Centre Ice Package. They give it to you for a month, get you hooked then when you get accustom to having every game at your fingertips they rip it from you like you were a breast feeding baby forced to go bottle. You still get some games via TSN and the like, but not everything. You don’t get all the goodness of total variety but you get a good mix. 1000+ games was tempting but I choose to pass, maybe game centre on next year (especially after I adopted not 1 but 2 Western out of market teams to my favorites list).

Bell has decided to do this to me again with the introduction to the CBS College Sports station. Right now the main focus is College Football but they also have gotten my attention by throwing some NCAA Woman's Volleyball (the A-10 Conference Championship and the Conference USA Championship). Outside of an hour and a half of beach volleyball maybe 3 or 4 times a year on NBC when they show the AVP or if it is an Olympic year you might get a little more coverage...but just a little, there is not a lot of volleyball to be found.

The beauty of the game is that it is fast paced, strategic, athletic and entertaining. What is not to like about that? Also because there really isn’t a Pro League, at least not in North America you aren’t spoiled by having 1 big name or team. You can enjoy the game for the game and even if you don’t know the participants you can still be entertained by the game and not be blinded by the hype of a name.

It is because of this that I will have to put some serious thought into adding this channel to the package. It is sad that it has to get to this point just to see volleyball on TV but what can you do. Anything to get just a little exclusive American sports on my TV has to be taken VERY seriously.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Or Football Day?

It may not be as good as a day off but I suppose it is the next best thing. It is that time of the year where the traditional Thursday football games are on the radio during the day. Sure it would be better to be watching the game but there is something to be said for the good ol’ days when the theatre of the mind was where it was at. At least in the NFL there are not two teams in the league with the same name like there was in the CFL for so many years...just imagine listening to a game on the radio and what you hear is " Rough Riders have the ball, here is the snap, there is a fumble Roughriders and the Rough Riders are in a scrum...Roughriders recover". How does your head not explode?

It seems that the majority of the games over the last few years have been stinkers but almost any NFL football is good...even if it is the Lions. The their credit they did try to give the game some hype this year after a good comeback win versus the hapless Browns in a shoot out but even with that it cost them the health of Matt Stafford and there is questions on if he will be able to play. Likely it will end up being Dante Caulpepper and that does not scream exciting game even with the Packers on the other side of the field. Gotta figure that the Pack will be back and on track and take this game with ease.

Then you look at the next game on the sched and after just a horra-awful game last week managing a 1 point victory versus a team they should have pummeled. Playing the Raiders who are coming off an upset themselves should make this game closer then it should be. Only problem with that is that a close game is a far fetch from a good game...especially on the radio so that should prove to be interesting.

In a welcome addition the game on the NFL Network for the more recent 8pm game addition should be the game of the day with the Giants taking on the rapidly falling Denver team. After such a strong and surprising start Kyle Orton and Co. have fallen back to earth and look like the team we thought they were before the season started....a very bad one. Hopefully Eli and the G-Men can light it up, they may be the best bet to see a team move the ball into the opponents end of the field.

So get your Swanson TV Turkey dinner with all the trimmings ready and take thanks for a triple header of football. Happy US Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

To Honor Or Retire?

LeBron James wants NBA players to give up their No. 23s to honour Michael Jordan. "King" James has worn 23 since he was a high school sophomore and stated recently that he believes players should pay tribute to Jordan for the Hall of Famer’s impact on the game. I have no issue with that. There is no denying that Jordan was the force that has marketed the game of basketball internationally and grown the NBA in popularity so If players want to honour that he is probably the greatest player even then so be it. Do I think that the number should be retired? NO.

He may be at the top of the mountain now but to be fair the only reason there is a mountain to be on top of is because of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. That 1on1 rivalry and the Lakers-Celtics rivalry all but saved a league that was in major trouble and in need of a major image change. If their numbers 32 & 33 aren’t retired 23 should not be either.

Lebron is not the first to either change a number or even think about doing so. For years you would see #8 Bryant Lakers jerseys everywhere. Then as part of his image re-birth after his off court - court issues he re-invented himself and his image and boom now he is 24. Lebron has said that if he were to change his number it would be to 6. That Maybe not the best idea either as Bill Russell was #6 and he has the most rings and is regarded as one of the best team players of all time...can you honor one and snub another and not be a hypocrite? I guess if anyone can it is the King. Also lets be clear, he will change his number. That is the beauty of merchandising, all the Lebron followers will be ready to make the switch too. They will embrace the change and purchase the new swag.

What is the true motivation, a tribute to MJ or a padding to Lebron’s increasingly rising pocketbook? Probably a little from column A and a little from Column B.

Monday, November 23, 2009

4th Championship In A Row - The Best Ever?

So in breaking with tradition and I suppose superstition I bit the bullet and decided to watch the NASCAR race from Homestead Miami Speedway yesterday. Ordinarily when there is as much at stake and I was as emotionally invested as I was in something happening that I would tend not to watch. Sometimes it comes down to a case of what I don’t know won’t hurt me, especially in an event where something so small as a loose wire could de-rail a performance of historic proportions. I was rewarded with my decision when Jimmie Johnson made his successful run for a unprecedented and record 4th consecutive NASCAR CUP Championship. Other drivers may have more (Earnhardt and Petty with 7), but one has to argue that the quality of the fields are not comparable. The drivers that have come before and paved the pay are legends but even at his young age Jimmie has to be put into the same level as those other drivers if not even above.

Jimmie Johnson made history on Sunday with a 5th place finish at Miami which clinched the title and solidified him and his team as one of the best ever. No one in the sport has won 4 in a row, only 1 other had won 3 and a half dozen at best has ever won back to back. Even with that Jimmie’s should be viewed even more impressive as he is doing it in a time where the quality of the other drivers week in and week out are far better and much more even. In addition to that, the equipment that is being used is all so regulated by NASCAR to be similar and universal to ensure parody in the sport. That is what separates the 48 Lowes Impala SS from others over the course of history. There is such little wiggle room to make adjustments under the rules that gaining any advantage is more difficult then any other time in the sport. Granted the 48 team in the past has been known to bend the rules a bit or toe the line as close as possible but that is what any championship team has to do...sprint to the wall but manage to stop right before you crash into it.

What made this last win even better is that he WON this championship, he didn’t just coast and play it conservative and raced the race not raced to protect a lead in a prevent defence (Similar to how Matt Kenseth did the year he won the championship). With 3 races left in the season an early crash saw him land a mid 30th place finish, cutting greatly into his lead. After that terrible run he managed to re-focus and come back in the last 2 races and win one and got a top 5 in the next. There was no let up just business as usual...get in the car and race to win, just like a true champion. Not only was it the 4th for Johnson but Hendrick Motorsports went 1-2-3 atop of the Cup standings (Johnson - Mark Martin- Jeff Gordon...the first time that has ever happened).

This victory is one of the greatest feats in sports in some time and sadly is not getting the recognition that it deserves. For how monumental a 4-peat is the appreciation in the media just doesn’t seem to be what it should be. This is as great or greater then winning all 4 Golf or Tennis Majors in one year yet the hype just isn’t there. It is too bad that If it was Tiger or Federer that did the equivalent in their respective sports it would be everywhere on TV, in the papers, on the Internet, Twitter’d, Facebooked the whole 9 yards. On it was 3rd behind 2 featured results from the CFL..that is just mind boggling and on Sportsnet it wasn’t even a foot note. Foxsports, ESPN mentioned it and SI at least had it one of the leads. The only redeeming factor is that there is the likelihood that SI will name him Sportsman of the Year. They almost have no choice, If Favre could take it last year there is little or no excuse not to have Jimmie take it this year. That is the one problem with the way NASCAR does it and there is really no way to avoid it. You can’t have a big must see one day production like a Super Bowl or a best of 7 Playoff Series when points are the measuring stick (Denny Hamlin actually won the race yesterday but that is overshadowed by the coronation of a champion...the Must See TV Pizzazz just can’t be done with this format).

Regardless of any of the outside factors Jimmie has done something that has not and may not ever be done again and it was and is a pleasure to be witnessing it while it is going on.
Congratulations to Jimmie Johnson, Chad Knaus and the entire Hendrick 48 Lowes Team

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Week 11 NFL Picks

This week if an interesting week. Not only for games but of the point spreads that are in play.

A lot of the games have very inflated spreads...9.5 and greater. Of late even the high scoring teams are having trouble covering the high numbers. Some of the better teams seem to be satisfied with just a comfortable win but not going for the big kill and running up the score like they may have earlier in the season. Probably a way to try to keep players healthy as we get closer to the playoffs.

With that said here are this weeks picks!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Home Sweet Dome

Are you a Detroit Lions football fan? Or Want a piece of history? Got $583,000? If so then maybe the Pontiac Silverdome could be for you. Not unlike what Rogers did when they bought the Jays and the SkyDome (now Rogers Centre) at a huge discount a Canadian Real Estate company won an auction and are now the proud owners of an old arena with no tenant right now for the price of a decent home, depending on your location.

The Silverdome was the home of the Lions from when it was built in 1975 at a cost of $55.7 million. To put that into perspective, if that were to be built today it would cost in the neighbourhood of $220,000,000. The stadium obtained the name "Silverdome" due to a silver-like reflection caused by the sun, mainly noticed from the sky. The roof was constructed with Teflon-coated fiberglass panels, and supported by air pressure inside the stadium. It remained the teams home until they moved into Ford Field in 2001. The stadium could hold 80,311 for football games..the largest stadium until 1997 when FedEx Field opened. It was also the home of the Detroit Pistons of the NBA from 1978–1988. They then moved to. The Palace of Auburn Hills.

There were many events that were hosted there over the lifespan of the dome, most notably the home of some USFL Teams and various NCAA Bowl games. It did also host four first-round games during the 1994 FIFA World Cup, where they used real grass over the Astroturf that they grew on pallets and in between games they would take the grass outside into the sun and would be watered and cared for until the games then brought back in for the matches.
The Silverdome’s largest crowd was on March 29, 1987 for WrestleMania III, with a reported attendance of 93,173. This was followed by an April 30, 1977 concert involving Led Zeppelin with 76,229 in attendance, which at the time narrowly outdid The Who who had 75,962 people.

The dome was recently sold to Canadian investors for the previously mentioned $583,000 which goes to show a) How expensive the upkeep on a venue that size but also the state of not only the economy but the Real Estate Market in Detroit. The new developer intends to use the Silverdome to host Major League Soccer games. A few years back there were proposals of upwards of $19 million to sell a few years ago but those were rejected. In hindsight maybe thy should have taken that offer.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Champions Crowned

Shae-Lynn Bourne and Claude Lemieux versus Craig Simpson and Jamie Salé. Clearly the battle that everyone probably expected and were rooting for to be crowned as champions of the Battle of the Blades. After Monday’s results show the winners were announced and it was Sale and Simpson...and I could not have been any more pleased. They were both my pick and my choice to win. Perhaps it had something to do with my continuing crush on Jamie Salé but they were the best and most creative pair in the competition.

As for the concept and the show itself, looking back at it was a good idea and turned out to be much more credible then I would have thought. The Hockey players did a good job to adapt to the sport of Ice Dance. They were far less awkward then I would have thought. That speaks volumes about the level of commitment and effort that they put into it. The fact that the winning pair took home a cool $100,000 for their charity of choice (Salé and Simpsons was spinal cord research.) is a huge bonus. I don’t know exactly what the ratings were for this but it appears that it was fairly well received by the public.

The way I look at this is the same way I look at other "reality" shows and many movies for that matter. The original is usually best and should end with that. The first editions of - Survivor, Paradise Island, The Apprentice - I watched and enjoyed. Had they ended there I would have been laughing, but sadly they did not and continued to churn out season after horrible season of crap. They are not going to top what they have done and it can only go down hill from here. Just like Dancing with the Stars is experiencing now they will run out of stars. That just hurts the credibility and the watch ability.

If this could be a one hit wonder and end there they I think everyone would be better off. Sometime it is best to do the Seinfeld thing and go out on top and not end up having to "Jump The Shark".

Monday, November 16, 2009

Just Another Classic

Football and Hockey and NASCAR, Oh My!

This weekend marked a great weekend in sports. There was a good lineup on Saturday with a good spread out schedule of hockey beginning with the Sens game at 2pm and ending with the Canucks game at 10pm with the meat in that sandwich being a Calgary victory over the Leafs. Throw into the mix some very good NCAA college football games where USC was made to look like UC Chattanooga versus Stanford where Stanford was accused of running up the score...since when does USC not do the same thing in that situation??? There was alos a Florida game versus The South Carolina Game Cocks where the Chosen One Tim Tebow was playing.

Where things got the most interesting was that Sunday schedule. Granted the quality is going to ramped up when you have the NFL involved but there were some very compelling storylines throughout the day. There were a lot of games that must be classified as surprises. Either teams that should have won but didn’t, teams that had no right being in the game but making things very interesting and a ton of injuries to some very big name key players. Dallas should not have played so poor versus Green Bay, New Orleans should not have had the difficulty with St.Louis.

The two best events of the weekend without a doubt were of the Championship level. If we can get this much excitement come Super Bowl time we as sports fans will be laughing. Jimmie Johnson took his Lowes 48 Chevy Impala to Phoenix International Raceway and took the race, led the most laps and got max points to extend his lead in the race for the Sprint Cup and his 4th Consecutive Championship. With the win Johnson added to his lead over teammate Mark Martin and the 5 Car. What Johnson needs to do now is finish the race in one piece in 25 place or better at Homestead Miami Speedway in the last race of the season. If he is able to do this he will have to be considered one of the greatest of all time.

Now onto the NFL Game of the year. Not since the Patriots were on their run to go undefeated has there been so much hype for any regular season game. Even the Brett Favre-Green Bay game and storyline wasn’t at this level. This was one of the better games you are going to see, either regular or post season. The game from start to finish was entertaining but it had one of the wildest finishes you are going to see.

The Patriots, who were up 6 in the 4th late in the game when Bill Belichick made the decision to go for a 4th and 2 on the thier own 28 or whatever...deep in thier own end anyway. Instead of punting and putting the Colts probably back on thier on 40 yard line or so, they decided to go for it and came up a few inched short when Kevin Faulk bobbled the ball and was knocked back. The Pats have been slammed since then for that decision. "How can you give the ball to Peyton Manning on the 30 and expect to win?? I have to say I can’t say it was the worst thin in the world. If you actually look at the situation it isn’t as bad a call as it would appear at first glance. The Colts were basicly unstoppable in the 4th quarter, the Patriots defence (who played well all game up to that point) were gassed with hands on thier hips and knees and showing signs of being worn out. The Colts had just scored in under a minute and a half and were rolling. Manning was in a rhythem and carving up a tired defence. Many commentators are saying that Belichick’ showed no confidence in his defence and that would be a bad thing in the lockeroom going forward. I don’t see it like that. I think that he showed the ultimate vote of confidence in his franchise and one day Hall of Fame quarterback (with Randy Moss, Wes Welker and Kevin Faulk) to pick up 2 yards. What I saw was if you give the NFL MVP the ball anywhere on the field you are going to lose. Like Herm Edwards said " YOU PLAY TO WIN THE GAME!" Tom Brady’s arm gives you the best chance to do that, couple that with a tired defence...why not? Maybe they were saying If we can’t get 2 yards then maybe they don’t deserve to win. They can aford the loss in that divison so the risk reward made it woth it.

It is just like in racing do you race for points and go concervative or do you roll the dice and try to win, even if you run the risk of running out of gas on the back stretch. Sometimes you just have to go for the win.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Week 10 NFL Picks

Still looking for that undefeated week. It is not looking too good for that to happen so I will try to keep my eyes on a .500 record each week.

Lets see how things shake out this week!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Team Canada Roster Update

We are only 3 months out from the Olympics and closing in on that 20 game evaluation mark in mid November where NHL Teams will begin to evaluate just how good, or bad their teams are. I think I will take the time to update my proposed roster for the Canadian Olympic team. Back on August 28th I submitted a list during the Hockey Canada Evaluation Camp outlining who I though may be early favorites to make the squad. In that time things have changed slightly based on both play at the beginning of the season and some injuries and injury concerns.

Steve Yzerman has come out recently and announced that the team will be unveiled on December 31st, likely during the Word Juniors as part of those festivities. That will either make this list something of a mid season report. I may have 1 more after this before the 31st deadline but this should be a good measuring stick on what direction I think the team is going to look like and be shaped. 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 before the next revision.

Jarome Iginla - Sidney Crosby- Steve Stamkos
Rick Nash - Ryan Getzlaf - Dany Heatley
Martin St. Louis - Mike Richards - Jonathan Toews
Shane Doan - Brenden Morrow - Corey Perry
Patrick Marleau

Scott Niedermayer - Shea Weber
Chris Pronger - Dan Boyle
Jay Bouwmeester - Drew Doughty

Roberto Luongo, Martin Brodeur, Marc-André Fleury

Taxi Squad:

Mike Green, Joe Thornton, Jeff Carter

Still on the radar I have James Neal and Dion Phaneuf

For the record the players that have changed/ been dropped from either the team or the Taxi Squad from my early evaluation in August include: Simon Gagné, Eric Staal, Dion Phaneuf, Milan Lucic and Jordan Staal I have taken off the team with Vincent Lecavalier off the taxi squad. In nets, up until this past week I would have had Marc-André Fleury being the starter but have gone back to Brodeur as the # 1. There has been a lot of turnover already in my list. It will be interesting to see what changes I will have next time.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Pigskin Thursday

It may not be a marquee match up like Colts and Patriots but tonight kicks off the NFL mid week game with the Bears and 49ers facing off. Granted that these games are scheduled on Thursdays on the NFL Network so they can help bolster the ratings for a station that on the whole doesn’t get a whole lot of viewership. In Canada, even though we have that channel we can’t watch it there, we get it on Sportsnet. I will leave that alone for now as every time there is some sort of TV availability issue I get a little riled up about the lack of options that Canadians are given. It has become a big pet peeve for me, so I will drop it...for now and just this time.

Having this Thursday match up just means that we are getting close to the American Thanksgiving and the Lions and cowboys traditional double header. Good times.

It makes for a nice option to have on a Thursday, there will be lots of flipping with football, plenty of hockey (Sens-Flyers), some good NBA games (LA Lakers & Phoenix) and if there is time between periods and quarters mix in some of the comedy shows on NBC. One thing for sure is more football is not a bad thing. When you can get Pro Games on Monday, Thursday and Sundays and some NCAA games on Saturdays, that ain’t not bad. You know you are going to miss it when it is gone in February.

Thankfully the CFL is in playoffs and not eating up valuable TV time on Friday nights (however the only good thing about the CFL, the Grey Cup will be happening soon).

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Winter Meetings

With World Series just beginning to fade in your mind, MLB GMs are already focusing on next season. The baseball GMs have come together in Chicago for thier winter meetings and it is no different then any other year. Sure they will talk about the business of baseball but unless there are some huge changes in schedules or rules or maybe even the expansion of instant replay most fans don’t relay care or pay attention to it. What they do pay attention to is the time in between and after the "formal meetings". This is a great place will all the big decision makers to get to talk 1 on 1 and perhaps get a positive dialogue going in terms of making a possible off season deal.

With the World Series over we now know who is available on the Free Agent Market and teams will have a good idea on who is out there and who they may need to target from other teams. Last year my Braves dipped their toes into both areas in getting some new players. Unfortunately they chased a few that got away and were shunned buy some others but that is all part of the game. They worked on the starting rotation last season, now it looks like they are looking for a bat and may be willing to move one of their top starters to get someone to help bolster the lineup. That has been the knock on the Braves for years, always known for a strong rotation but maybe not the most consistent lineup top to bottom.

The Blue Jays are also in an interesting position at these meetings. With a new young GM this will be his first meetings while leading the team. The team is in shambles and the direction unclear at this time, not a good position to be in. That being said, if he want to put his mark on the team now may be a great chance to do that. With Roy Halladay only signed to the end of the year, the opportunity for a deal involving some major prospects or quality talent may be out there and at these meetings may be an opportunity to get some talks going. There are also some other players that if they are able to purge somehow could start a positive rebuild. Lyle Overbay could be on the move and is movable, Vernon Wells needs to be moved but is unlikely to be able to be moved because he has so much money owed and so much time remaining that he may be virtually un-moveable.

We will all watch with interest and see how things shake out.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Hockey Hall OF Fame

Last night the Hockey Community came together to celebrate the great careers of 1 great broadcaster, 1 great front office/builder and 4 of the creme-de la-creme in terms of players. John Davidson, Lou Lamoriello, Steve Yzerman, Brett Hull, Luc Robitaille and Brian Leetch were all honoured in Toronto at the Hockey Hall of Fame.

The Hall opened its doors to possibly one of the best cast of characters that the Hall has ever let in in a single year. Next to the Messier group a few years ago this would have to rank right there. It is a different type of players this year but their contributions to the game can not be denied. Not only can you look at the body of work in the NHL but also what they have done on the international stage with various national teams and tournaments. That is one thing that people often forget to realize, it is the Hockey Hall of Fame not the NHL Hall of Fame. That is why it is a shame that there are so many players out there that are probably deserving to be in even if they either didn’t play in the NHL or had a limited career in the league. Getting more Russians in that may be deserving will be a start (Igor Larionov was a good start) and the eventual inclusion of women who will be inducted hopefully will happen in due time.

One thing that kind of jumps out with this years group is the American influence that is going in this year 3 of the 6 name mentioned above are from the USandA...provided you count Hull as full American. This is a bit of a shift as we often see more Canadians inducted each year.

Also it is interesting to notice that in this group 3 of the inductees played together on the same team and won the Stanley Cup. There are as many as 10 players from that group that could one day be enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame -- and that doesn’t even include coach Scotty Bowman who has already been inducted. That has to rank right up there as one of the best teams ever assembled.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Best And Worst

Best: Mark Martin caught a lucky break when on lap 3 a "less experienced, non cup contender lost control of his car and caused front runner Jimmie Johnson to crash out and wind up well over 100 laps back in 38th place. Johnson was in the garage as his car was pretty much rebuilt over the course of 1 hour plus. Watching the pre race interview with martin it looked like he wasn’t too worried about being as far back as he was. Kinda makes it look a little suspect. I am sure that it was in fact an accident but for Johnson to go down lap 3 and Martin to snag a solid finish and close the gap to well under 100 points. I am sure there are going to be some conspiracy theorist out there, I just hope that everything is on the up and up.

Worst: Cam Ward of the Carolina Hurricanes. He was helped off the ice and sent to hospital where he stayed for observation. Ward was accidentally cut in the leg by Rick Nash’s skate. As he left the ice he left a nice clear trail of blood that was so visible that Hansel and Greddle could have followed it. Ward will be out for several weeks at lest forcing the Canes to sign Many Legacy. Any outside hope that he may have had for a shot at the Olympics is now gone.

Best: The Tampa Bay Bucks shocked the Green Bay Packers an managed the first and probably only win of the year. No worries about matching last years 0-16 season posted by the Detroit Lions. After the high and then eventual low of the loss to Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings it looked like all the wind was out of their sails. It was probably more the lack of good play by the Packers then plays made by the Bucks.

Worst: This worst may actually be best. Woman’s soccer is possibly one of the furthest thing to legit sports and just because it is soccer - let me be very clear on that, not because it is woman, because it is soccer. After the recent video that has made its way around between BYU and New Mexico where Elizabeth Lambert, recently suspended, after grabbing a BYU player’s ponytail and slamming her to the ground. On the heals of that there is another story about 2 girls in a high school game in Rhode Island getting into a post game brawl who threw punches, pulled hair and sparked a brawl in the bleachers. The fact that these girls got up and are actually hitting each other is commendable. Usually in soccer they flop around without ever being hit and cry foul for no reason or because they didn’t get their half time oranges.

Best: Peyton Manning - nothing else, he’s Peyton Manning how is that not a best

Worst: Jaroslav Halak’s agent Allan Walsh. Walsh Twittered "Interesting stat of the night....Price is 10W, 32L in last 42 starts. Hmm.". This is why I find Twitter so stupid. It is one thing to say some funny comments but what the real purpose of it is I just don’t know. The fact that these people still don’t realize that what they put up may actually be read by the public is mind blowing. You have to figure that people are going to have a issue with an agent slamming a clients teammate is not good and neither is using gay or racist slurs. It is funny that the celebrities and sports people who hate all the extra attention and photographers will Twitter and tell all about what is going on...crazyness.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Week 9 NFL Picks

So after just a terrible week of picks I hope to rebound this week, even if just a little.
It is getting difficult to handicap these games as there are so many real good teams out there and an equal number of real bad teams. It is just a matter of deciding who is going to keep the foot on the pedal and who is going to just coast to a victory. The spreads are so high in many of the games that it makes things tough. Lets see how this week goes.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Dazed And Hilarious

San Francisco Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum is facing misdemeanor marijuana charges following a traffic stop in his home state of Oregon. When I heard of this I was almost giddy with joy. For those of you who remember my post a few months back (Thursday, July 09, 2009 - The Underrated All Star) on how good Lincecum is and his unbelievable likeness to the actor who played Mitch Kramer (Wiley Wiggins) from Dazed and Confused. This cult movie favorite is a classic and has had some classic quotes and scenes. The fact that the movie had such a connection with the use of marijuana makes this storey even better.
Mitch: "Uhhh, no not on me man."
Wooderson: "It’d be a lot cooler if you did."

An officer approached Lincecum’s 2006 Mercedes and smelled marijuana as the pitcher rolled down his window. The police spokesman said. Lincecum immediately complied with a request to hand over the drug and a marijuana pipe from the car’s center console. The amount measured was 3.3 grams which was deemed it in the range for personal use, well below the maximum of 40 grams before possession is classified differently and carries a more severe penalty. The police said "It’s not really out of the ordinary. It happens every day," in regards to the amount that was seized "It was about the size of a thumb, the whole thumb."

I am not here to pass judgement, as a professional athlete maybe he should have known better then to be driving around and smoking the stuff in a high priced car but in the grand scheme of things not a huge deal. Other players are surely doing a lot worse more often. All I am saying is there is a time and a place so you avoid this bad pub...HOWEVER of all the star athletes to have this happen to Thank You Mitch...errrrr...Tim you have made my day!!

Lincecum is currently scheduled to appear before a judge on Dec. 22

Thursday, November 05, 2009

The Evil Amongst Us

Well Baseball is done for another year and the Champions have been crowned, and it is in fact the Evil Empire. The New York Yankees have dismissed the Philadelphia Phillies in 6 games. This was a big win for the already history heavy Yanks. To manage to win the title in the first year in moving into the brand new New Yankee Stadium will be brought up until it is closed and a third version is built. Will it ever live up to the original stadium with all the ghosts? Probably not in the beginning but perhaps over time, knowing how crazy and the blind loyalty fans have for this team that they will make it the shrine that they already believe that it is and should be.
It is now the question who built this stadium ARod, Rivera, Jeter? I just hope that it is not Matsui...granted he had a great game but that is what it was 1 game. I was pretty shocked when they named Matsui as the MVP that was I guess was a convenient cop out in a series that didn’t have a defining player or moments that you could say there was no other choice. Rivera would have been a better choice in my mind but what can you do?

I pose the question is there anyone who is less deserving of any praise in this championship then the duo of Joba "The" Chamberlin and manager Joe Girardi? Maybe it isn’t his fault but if there is one thing that I havn’t been able to understand or tolerate is the "Joba Rules". It is things like that that is ruining pitchers and not allowing them to progress to the level that they could get too. Young pitchers with strong arms are not china dolls. If they are treated like babies that is what they will develop to be. That ties in with Girardi who help enforce that strategy in addition to over managing in game situations with that novel of a stat book that he has on his bench. You ever see a manager pull out a bible like that and make decision after decision based on that? The absence of a "gut" feeling takes away some of his credibility.

I guess that you have to give credit where credit is due. When you pay for starting pitchers like AJ Burnett and CC Sabathia and mix it in with Mark Texteria then add that to the rest of a star studded high priced lineup it is hard not to win it all.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Who Are You Rooting For vs Who Will Win?

It is an interesting question whether you have a vested interest in either team or not. Obviously If you are a Yankees or Phillies fan you will clearly be rooting for your team to pull out the win and for one - close out the series and become 2009 champions or for the other- Prolong the series and brig it to a 1 game do or die showdown.

This is where the managers make their money in deciding what to do with their pitchers. Each manager will have some decisions to make and one and maybe even both will get it wrong but for sure in the long run one will come out on top. It will be interesting to see looking back, which of these 2 managers come out triumphant and will their team have won the World Series because of or in spite of the decisions that they make.

As a casual fan who enjoys the game for what it is or enjoys watching history unfold most will want this to reach a game 7 and hope that the Phillies can pull it out. The interesting thing about baseball is that of all the major team sports, baseball’s game 7 is the greatest in sports. When you look at it, game 7’s in other sports are just a continuation of what you have seen up to that point. The game plans are basically set and the rosters see little or no change. Basketball is what you see is what you get. Hockey is the same. When it comes to baseball the biggest variable is that of the 2 starting pitchers. Who gets the nod, do they go out on full or short rest, do you go all hands on board and every pitcher, starter or otherwise is at the ready? How much does age and experience factor in. It is questions like this that makes the baseball game 7 the most compelling in sports.

In a selfish way I just want to see more baseball and don’t want to wait until next March to see a game. It is an added bonus to have the Yankees lose to force said game 7 but that is not the sole reason to want it to turn out like that.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Who Is Your MVP?

The Phillies sent out ace Cliff Lee to toe the rubber last night in game 5 of the World Series on full rest, the Yankees countered with AJ Burnett on short rest. Cliff was old school good and AJ got lit up like the 4th of July. What is interesting on how just the smallest thing can change the outcome or flow of a game of baseball. In game 2 the ump was giving AJ the wide outside strike allowing him to dictate each at bat. Game 5 the ump calls strikes-strikes and balls off the corner as balls. That made Burnett throw his fastball over the plate where he got tagged and was ineffective for the most part.

Chase Utley just keeps mashing and is getting to the point where regardless of who wins the World Series, he may be in a real good position to be named MVP. If the Phillies mange the improbable and do somehow pull the upset then it isn’t an issue but if the Yankees do manage to close things out at home then who is most deserving of the honour? Utley is tearing it up so far and has tied Reggie Jackson’s home run record, his hits are coming in important times and not just meaningless tag on runs. Does Mariano Rivera finally get credit for not only a post season but career of being the best of the best at that position. Does Jeter or Damon get the nod for having some multiple hit games and scoring a few runs? ARod has had a decent series on the whole. He hasn’t lit it up but the 3 or 4 hits that he has got have been big or game changing. As well his overall numbers over the course of the playoffs are very good. An MVP and a World Series win just might finally make him a true Yankee.

Despite the fact that the series has been fairly interesting, which is a change from the last few years of being anti-climactic, there has not been a clear cut dynamic performance by any one person. It is that team effort thing and not the one guy saying ‘jump on my back and i’ll take you there.’ That is what makes it such a tight race for the award. Since this is baseball I guess it is anyone's guess until the ballots are counted.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Best And Worst

Best: Jimmie Johnson finished 6th extending his lead in the NASSCAR Chase. He was in 30th position with as little as 15 laps remaining at Talladega when all it took was Ryan Newman to flip his car repeatedly and have it come to rest on its roof requiring them to flip the car over and cut the top off to get Newman out. another crash that he narrowly avoided that saw Mark Martin end up on his roof for a moment and then car after car run out of gas. not too bad to be able to get out of that place in one piece and have your two closest rivals have trouble on the last few laps.

Ryan Newman...His car flipped repeatedly and he had to be cut out of it. People are always praising NASCAR for how safe the cars are that someone can actually survive a crash like that and actually walk away. Maybe the focus should not be so much that the car can withstand that impact and be more on avoid having these cars put in a situation where it is not only possibility of happening but almost guaranteed. Restrictor plates merely restrict the drivers to drive safely and prevent passing making for un-exciting racing. Lets be clear, flipping cars and crashes are not racing that is a demolition derby...2 very different sports.

Best: Brett Favre went back to Green Bay, he played the Packers, he beat the Packers. he was boo’d by Packers fans. There it’s done, please let it be done. The story has run its course, the intrigue is no longer there if it was ever there to begin with. The fans got their say so now it is up to the media to JUST LET IT GO, let the Vikings become a regular football team and let Favre become just another 1 of 30 starting QB’s in the NFL.

Worst: The fact that the Lions couldn't beat the Rams, the Titans won a game with Vince Young at QB, and JaMarcus Russell makes soooo much money in Oakland and is basically useless. There is nothing worse then watching an overpaid under-achieving un-motivated player. Why is it that the most undeserving people always seem to fall ass backward into good situations or get all the benefits??

Best: The bankruptcy judge has approved the Phoenix Coyotes’ sale to NHL. That is one major hurdle towards getting this team out of the news for all the wrong reasons and perhaps some acknowledgement to the fact that they are actually playing half decent on the ice.

Worst: The NHLPA for, well I don’t know. Not being able to keep its own house in order I Suppose. Yet another high ranking employee has either resigned and/or been dismissed and it is once again a rudderless ship. As annoying as it is to hear about it is just as bad for the NHL and any potential talks in the future regarding the next CBA. the sooner this gets fixed and out of the public the better. Fans are tired of it, I am sure the players and the NHL are tired of it and it had better not be a reason that there is another work stoppage. The sport probably isn’t strong enough to bounce back from another potential PR nightmare.

Best: Cliff Lee pitches tonight in the World Series. Hopefully sending the series back to New York for a game 6. If he pitches like he did in game 1 it will be things that World Series lore is built on. His last time out he looked like a throwback to the way a pitcher looked in the 1960’s. If he loses then the title will go to the Yankees, which is not good and the baseball season is done for another year, also not good.

\Worst: David Beckham will return to Milan on loan from can you be on loan to another team? This is yet another reason why soccer sucks. You don’t see Derek Jeter loaned to the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters (This is actually a real team, they are associated with the Arizona Diamondbacks...awesome) of the Japan Baseball League.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Week 8 NFL Picks

Last week I managed to claw my way back up to a plus .500 record for the week. With a record of 7-5-1, I am right on the cusp of having a respectable week. I managed 1 tie or push as one of the games had a 3 point spread and that was the margin of victory.

I actually won on a Proline ticket too, sure it was a very modest victory but a victory none the what a week.

Now there are some tight games this week so I may be on my way back toward a bad week but maybe I can get lucky and catch lightning in a bottle. So withlut furthur delay here we go!