Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Report: Cutler To Be Traded

First he was gonna be traded...then he was gonna say...now this:

From SI.com

Apparently convinced that their split with Jay Cutler is irreconcilable, the Broncos have decided to pursue a trade for their disgruntled quarterback before the April 25 draft.

In a stunning turn of events, Broncos owner Pat Bowlen released a statement at 9 p.m. ET Tuesday saying both he and coach Josh McDaniels had been unable to get Cutler to call them back over the last 10 days.

Bowlen said he spoke with Cutler's agent, Bus Cook, on Tuesday and came away convinced "that Jay no longer has any desire to play for the Denver Broncos."

Well, this can't be good now can it? The people in Denver are gonna be miiighty pissy come morning.
I guess it was inevitable, you can't have a QB who thinks he's more important or more powerful than his coach, he just had/has to go.

Lions...get on that phone!
Jay Cutler: The One Man Detroit Stimulus Package (LSB)

This Is The Reason God Invented Email

I will keep the intro as short and sweet as humanly possible as the body of this posting is not to be missed...
Michael Kinahan is the now ex-coach of the Scituate, Mass. 6-7 year old, girls soccer team....

Here's why:

"According to my wife, my emails get too wordy, so for those of you read too slowly, are easily offended, or are too busy, you can stop here. For the others……"

They should have taken his advice...

Here are two excerpts from his email (remember, six and seven year old girls):

It is imperative that we all fight the good fight, get involved now and resist the urge to become sweat-xedo-wearing yuppies who sit on the sidelines in their LL Bean chairs sipping mocha-latte-half-caf-chinos while discussing reality TV and home decorating with other feeble-minded folks. I want to hear cheering, I want to hear encouragement, I want to get the team pumped up at each and every game and know they are playing for something....

...OK, here's the real deal: Team 7 will be called Green Death. We will only acknowledge "Team 7" for scheduling and disciplinary purposes. Green Death has had a long and colorful history, and I fully expect every player and parent to be on board with the team. This is not a team, but a family (some say cult), that you belong to forever. We play fair at all times, but we play tough and physical soccer. We have some returning players who know the deal; for the others, I only expect 110% at every game and practice. We do not cater to superstars, but prefer the gritty determination of journeymen who bring their lunch pail to work every week, chase every ball and dig in corners like a Michael Vick pit bull. Unless there is an issue concerning the health of my players or inside info on the opposition, you probably don't need to talk to me.

I believe winning is fun and losing is for losers. Ergo, we will strive for the "W" in each game. While we may not win every game (excuse me, I just got a little nauseated) I expect us to fight for every loose ball and play every shift as if it were the finals of the World Cup. While I spent a good Saturday morning listening to the legal liability BS, which included a 30 minute dissertation on how we need to baby the kids and especially the refs, I was disgusted. The kids will run, they will fall, get bumps, bruises and even bleed a little. Big deal, it's good for them (but I do hope the other team is the one bleeding). If the refs can't handle a little criticism, then they should turn in their whistle. The sooner they figure out how to make a decision and live with the consequences the better. My heckling of the refs is actually helping them develop as people. The political correctness police are not welcome on my sidelines.

America's youth is becoming fat, lazy and non-competitive because competition is viewed as "bad". I argue that competition is good and is important to the evolution of our species and our survival in what has become an increasingly competitive global economy and dangerous world. Second place trophies are nothing to be proud of as they serve only as a reminder that you missed your goal; their only useful purpose is as an inspiration to do that next set of reps. Do you go to a job interview and not care about winning? Don't animals eat what they kill (and yes, someone actually kills the meat we eat too – it isn't grown in plastic wrap)? And speaking of meat, I expect that the ladies be put on a diet of fish, undercooked red meat and lots of veggies. No junk food.

Who's with me? Go Green Death!

and just for fun, here's how he opened his follow up email:

Team, After careful consideration, I have decided to resign from all coaching responsibilities related to Team 7 this season. Unfortunately, it has come to my attention that some parents and the Board of Scituate Soccer failed to see the humor in my pre-season email.

The Clutch

After Tiger Wood's dominating Sunday performance this week, it got me thinking the same sort of questions a lot of other pundits have been thinking lately: Who is the best big-time performer in sports history?

By big time, I don't mean big name players or even championship players. I'm talking about guys who you KNOW will pull it off when it counts. Guys who leave you in shock and awe when they miss, not when they make. Clutch performers.

There's Michael Jordan, whose litany of buzzer beating shots and six NBA Finals MVPs to go along with his six NBA championships certainly put him high up on the list. But before he won any of his trophies, his team lost in the conference finals two years in a row. Not a black mark on a career, but a sign that it took him a few tries before he reached his pinnacle.

There's Wayne Gretzky, who though he had transcendent talent, was never particularly known as a 'clutch player'. His Stanley Cup rings and virtual takeover of the NHL record book are not to be slighted in the least bit, but Gretzky always played on excellent teams and therefore wasn't always expected to carry the full load and pull it out in the clutch. In fact, there was often no 'clutch moment' for his Oilers in the '80s since the teams were so good in the first place.

His one shining moment (if you can pinpoint just one) came in game seven of the 1993 conference finals (a game I remember, well, not so fondly...) when he scored a hat trick in Toronto to eliminate the Maple Leafs and send the Kings to the Stanley Cup Final. He still calls that his greatest NHL game ever.
But, L.A lost in the Final to the Montreal Canadiens in what many regard as still the prime of Gretzky's career. In that instance, The Great One couldn't close the deal.

There's Joe Montana, or as he was called, 'Joe Cool'. Montana's four Super Bowls rings and three Super Bowl MVP's as well as his penchant for late game heroics are legendary. Montana's throw to tight end Dwight Clark in the back of the endzone, throwing off his back foot, with three defenders on him, in the waning moments of the NFC Championship game versus Dallas, or 'The Catch' as it's lovingly referred to, is the stuff legends are made of. A more appropriate title would be 'The Throw'.
When people compare Tom Brady to Montana, they do so hoping that one day can compile a record as impressive as his. Brady can, but it's still to be seen if he will. Brady had a chance to match Joe Cool's record of four Super Bowl wins in 2008, but lost to the Giants in the final game of what could have been a perfect season.

But in my mind, the argument begins and ends with Tiger.
To go along with his 29% career winning average (think of that like the Habs winning a Stanley Cup every three years...if there were 100 teams in the NHL to compete against every season), Woods record in the clutch and in big time events is unheard of.

Woods hit the ground running by winning the first Masters he played in as a pro in 1997 by 12 shots. The learning curve, what learning curve?

Woods also, since he turned pro 14 seasons ago has compiled 66 victories, third all-time and only seven behind Jack Nicklaus, who by the way, took 25 years to reach his total. In fact, if you check the list of all-time victories, not only is Tiger already third on it, but the next player to have compiled a similar amount of W's in the same time span is Horton Smith who won "just" 32 tournaments in 14 years on tour.

The four Majors, the measuring stick with which all great golfers are tested, have become Tiger's plaything. He has 14, only four behind Jack Nicklaus' record once thought impossible to break. Nicklaus won his final major at the age of 46. Tiger won his 14th before he turned 33.

Tiger is the only golfer in the modern era to own all four major trophies at once, winning the US Open, British Open, PGA Championship and Masters in a row for what has become known as The Tiger Slam.
And when one writer wrote last month that he could equal Nicklaus' mark of 18 with the grand slam this year, he wrote it with no tongue in cheek and people actually believed it!

Tiger not only wins, but he doesn't seem to lose either. His record in playoffs is 15-2, his record when entering the Sunday of a major with at least a share of the lead is, you guessed it, 14 for 14. And he can come from behind also. Just last week he made up a five-shot difference on Sunday to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational, the second time he's come back from five on the final day of a tournament.

He also owns a record of 1-0 when it comes to winning the US Open with two broken bones in his leg and a torn ACL, while needing a long birdie putt on the 18th on Sunday to force an 18-hole playoff the next day, which he also birdied to win.

When you watch Tiger on TV, (which you certainly do; this week's tournament had higher viewership ratings than any other since Tiger's knee injury last July, including the two majors he missed, the British Open and the PGA Championship) you simply get the feeling that he can't and won't lose. When he stands over a putt he needs to make, he makes it. This week alone he was perfect from 15 feet and in. The announcers must have mentioned half a dozen separate times how he was the greatest par-putter in the history of golf.

You could spend hours watching countless shots Tiger has drained in the clutch and I defy you to find a putt Tiger has had to win a tournament that he missed. I'm sure it's happened once or twice, but heck, I can't remember when.

You know the saying, 'drive for show, putt for dough'? Well, Tiger Woods has plenty of 'show' and 'dough' to go around.

He, more than anyone else in history, more than Jordan, more than Gretzky and more than Montana, elicits a sense of fear in his opponents and a sense of confidence in himself that any shot he needs to make, he will make. I find myself watching him before an impossible shot and even before he hits it I think I will be more surprised if it doesn't go in than if it does...It usually does.

We are not surprised anymore by his greatness. We know he will be, if not already is, the greatest golfer, if not athlete, of all time. We are simply in awe of everything he has done and everything he continues to do.

Forget the fist pumps, forget the hundreds of millions of dollars he counts as his own, forget the inspirational story of a black golfer being brought up in a society that disallowed him from playing in some of the countries pre-eminent courses. For his volume of work alone, Tiger is the greatest clutch performer in sports history.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Weekend Musings: CIS and The Return of The Roar

There was a national championship tournament going on this weekend that had drama, intrigue, upsets, big comebacks and exciting play....and it wasn't March Madness.

Playing out a long distance - not just geographically - from the public's gazing eyes in Thunder Bay, Ontario was the Canadian University Hockey Championships.

With almost no fanfare or media hype, six teams representing the Atlantic, Ontario and Canada West conferences all vied for the Cavendish Cup and in the end it was only the University of New Brunswick who were able to come out on top.

The round robin style of the tournament lent itself to some exciting action. The six teams were broken up into two divisions with each team playing a game against the other two. After the round robin was to be completed, the top team from each division would play in the championship final.

This was further complicated due to the tie-breaker in the standings being goal differential, meaning that coming into their final game of the round robin, Western (my alma mater, Go Stangs!) not only had to beat St. Mary's to get into the championship game, but because of their previous results, had to beat them by at least three to finish ahead of them and take first place in the group.

After one period the score was 2-1 St. Mary's, essentially a four-goal deficit to climb out of and after two periods it was 2-2, leaving a slim shot at making it to the next day's championship game.

But all of a sudden, Western opened the third period with a fury of action and ended up scoring five consecutive goals to win the game 7-2, sending them to their first championship game since they last won the title in 2002.

Unfortunately for them - and the home fans - the Mustangs weren't able to face off against their arch rival Lakehead Thunderwolves who lost to UNB the day before. What would have been a spectacular final turned out to still be a pretty darn good one as Western erased a 2-0 deficit to tie the game in the third period, but were ultimately defeated 4-2 (including an empty netter) in a thrilling final game on Sunday afternoon.

Now is not the place for my rant, but as a former university hockey (and other sports) broadcaster, I've always believed that CIS hockey doesn't get the recognition it deserves for being a high calibre brand of the sport. Furthermore, the league shoots itself in the foot by not offering the level of athletic scholarships available in the USA and therefore limiting itself with the kind of talent it attracts.

That being said, there were several high NHL draft picks playing in this tournament and nearly all of the players had previous spots on CHL rosters before they hit the age limit.

For a combination of skill, speed, rivalries, emotion and pure love of the game, it doesn't get much better than University Hockey.


Tiger is back....
Ok, so he's been back for a while, but by coming from five shots back on Sunday, needing a long birdie on the 18th, in the dark and getting it to win his sixth Bay Hill Invitational by just one shot, he's REALLY back.
Tiger has now won tournaments in 14 straight years (Arnold Palmer, the host at Bay Hill, holds the record with 17 straight) and owns a career winning percentage of 29%. That is insane for a golfer to win almost a third of every event he enters....just insane. Watching Tiger on the back nine on a Sunday when he's in contention is one of the most spectacular things in sports.
...Augusta and The Masters is only a few weeks away, beware.

So much for Justin Pogge being the Maple Leafs goalie of the future, he looked absolutely awful in a 7-5 loss to Boston on Saturday night. He was constantly out of position and didn't seem to be able to read the play with any level of consistency.

Mark Cuban, the outspoken owner of the Dallas Mavericks was fined $25,000 over the weekend for using Twitter to criticize the refs after a Mavs game. He then did a double zinger by posting the following to his page:
"can't say no one makes money from twitter now. the nba does )"......zing!

The Raptors all of a sudden have won four games in a row and are starting to look like the team people thought they could be when they started the season 3-0 before major disappointments along the way to fall out of the playoff picture. In yesterday's OT win over Chicago, Chris Bosh had 31 points and 15 rebounds, Andrea Bargnani had 28 points and Jose Calderon had 22 points and tied an all-time franchise best with 19 assists.
This year is pretty much a wash with the Raps seven games out of the last playoff spot with only nine games to go, but it could be a sign of what to expect next year if Calderon can stay healthy, Bargnani continues to prove he was worth a first overall pick and Bosh decides to commit to Toronto for the long haul.

With just seven games or so to play in the regular season, the NHL's Western Conference is unbelievably close at the bottom with just four points separating 7-11th place. The most surprising contender for a playoff spot would be the St. Louis Blues who almost nobody picked to be even close to the mix this year.
A group of young guns (Patrick Berglund, T.J Oshie, David Backes and David Perron) have all stepped up and played beyond their years to get them to the cusp of the post season. While I don't think they would have a matzah ball's chance at a seder to make it past Detroit or San Jose in the first round, it would certainly be a great story if they finished in the top-eight.

The Final Four is set...Villanova will face North Carolina in one semi-final while UConn will face Michigan State in the other. I'd be really scared to play Mich. St. right now, not only because they're playing out of their mind, but also because the Final Four just happens to be in Detroit, a practical home game for the team whose campus is just 78 miles away.

I just realized something odd about one of those Guitar Hero commercials from yesterday that I posted....A-Rod is in big trouble stemming from his steriod confession, Michael Phelps is in hot (bong?) water over his racy smoking pic, Kobe Bryant was accused of and went to trial for rape several years back, and Tony Hawk...well, he's a skater, so you know he's done somethin'.
Is Guitar Hero inadvertantly going after the coveted 18-34 felon demographic?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

New Guitar Hero Ad

This is just awesome....in the spirit of the NCAA Tournament the fine folks at Guitar Hero have made a new commercial featuring four all-time great NCAA....coaches?? Former coach (and chair thrower) Bobby Knight, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, Louisville coach Rick Pitino and North Carolina coach, Roy Williams are in the ad and it's awesome...check it out.

Here's another one they did with Heidi Klum....

And one with Michael Phelps, A-Rod, Tony Hawk and Kobe Bryant...

There's a few more on youtube including ones with American Idols David's Cook and Archuletta.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

That's Really Nice Guys, But...Uh, I Didn't Order Mushrooms...Aaaawkward

Since enduring a long mid-season slump and making a coaching change, the Pittsburgh Penguins have really delivered to their fans. No really, they actually did deliver...the pizza.

As a token of appreciation, Pittsburgh Penguins players Marc-Andre Fleury, Jordan Staal, Max Talbot, Kris Letang, Tyler Kennedy and Pascal Dupuis delivered pizza to workers at the new arena construction site on Tuesday. (WXPI)

I get the part about why they would come and pay them a visit, it's a nice thing to do in your community and especially for the people who are building your new arena. But pizza? Why?

There was a big joke last season about how the Pens had pizza in their locker room during a long overtime game in the Finals versus Detroit (the owner of the Red Wings, Mike Illich, also owns Little Ceasar) and the players made a point of saying the pizza was from Dominos. But the pie they delivered yesterday was Pizza Hut, so who knows what that means.

Still can't beat this though, the ultimate Pittsburgh Penguins public appearance moment...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Thank God That's Over, Now We Can Get Back To What Really Matters

The WBC finally ended last night (long exhale).

Japan beat Korea in what was actually a pretty entertaining 10-inning matchup in front of a packed house of vocal supporters of both squads in LA.

A lot has been said about how nobody in North America (where the final rounds of the tournament is played) cares about the WBC, about how it's too long, played at the wrong time of year...etc.

I think this comment from TSN.ca summed it up pretty well:

Who really cares about the WBC? It's played at the wrong time of year, the format is disjointed and it just gets in the way of Curling, Hockey, Basketball and Golf coverage.

Damn straight, how dare baseball get in the way of hockey, basketball and curli....wait. huh?

Tukka Rask Goes Bonkers

Looks like the Bruins goalie (currently with Providence, their minor league affiliate) has been getting some coaching tips from Patrick Roy....

...to be fair, the play should have been blown down once the puck was poke-checked and momentum was stopped.

But wow...just wow. Gotta give him creativity points for the milk-crate though.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Sweet 16 Bracket Update

12 of 16 teams...all Elite Eight still in contention, I'd call that a successful bracket so far. Although a USC win over Michigan St. was oh so close to becoming a reality.

As always, click to enlarge.

Sunday Night Syndrome: A Brief Explanation

Despite the NCAA tournament going on and a few other important events taking place this past weekend I'm going to spend the majority of this column discussing an issue plaguing what I can only assume to be mass proportions of the 30-and-under population in this world. The issue that I am speaking of, is what I shall to refer to as "Sunday Night Syndrome".

Sunday Night Syndrome is a condition that is both extremely simple in its manifestations, but scientifically complex in its explanation. Allow me to begin with the symptom as it is most straightforward to explain.

Mondays suck.

Yup, that's pretty much it. You hear the buzzing of your alarm clock at whatever time you have it set for (7:15am...oy) and your eyes open to check because it can't possibly be time to wake up yet. You even get mad at the clock when you realize it truly is time to get up, as if it has a choice in the matter. You're pretty much groggy and grouchy all morning, if not all day. This is nothing a strong cup of tea or coffee can't cure, but at the same this is a different kind of sucky you feel. This is a sucky that is not felt when your mother in law comes to visit, or when your favourite team loses by 30 in a game they absolutely, positively had to win. No, this is a special Monday morning sucky. We all know it.

But where does this come from? Why don't we feel this bad on any other day of the week?

Well folks, I have a hypothesis.

As a university student not too long ago I experienced this feeling as well, except it wasn't on Monday, it was on Tuesday. Why, do you ask? Well, my schedule at school was so unbelievably fantastic that I not only had no classes on Friday, which is actually not so out of the ordinary, but on Monday as well.

This allowed me a continuous, four-day weekend through my entire fourth year in school. It also allowed me to develop this theory as to why Mondays, or in my case at that time, Tuesdays, sucked.

You see, the fact that your Monday mornings suck have nothing to do with waking up on the morning at all. It all stems back to when you woke up the days before.

Working so hard and diligently during the weekdays and waking up at unruly hours of the morning sure tires a guy out, eh? So the only natural thing to do would be to give yourself the opportunity to sleep in on the weekends. This does two things; Firstly, it allows yourself the chance to rest and recoup some of the sleep you've lost during the work week. But secondly and more importantly for this argument it alters your sleep patterns enough from the work week schedule to affect your Monday mornings.

You see, it's only natural that when you when you wake up at 10, 11, even noon or later, you're going to be tired later in the night than you would have been had you woken up at say, 7:15 (...oy). This means you go to sleep on Saturday night later than you would have on Friday or Thursday (not taking into account going out the night before). Sleeping in further on Sunday both extends your ability to sleep even later and reinforces to your body this new, 'weekend' sleep pattern that will become such an issue not even 12 hours later.

This brings me the meat of the thesis, Sunday Night Syndrome. The problem begins when you try to get yourself back into your regular work week sleep schedule and fall asleep at a reasonable hour for waking up early the next morning (7:15am...oy). This, of course, is not possible. Your body now is so used to waking up and falling asleep later than normal, it simply will not allow you to fall asleep at 10 or 11pm as you would like. So 11 turns to 11:30, which turns to 12:30, which turns to 1am...

Maybe you fall asleep at 2, maybe 2:30, maybe even a much less ridiculous hour like 12 or 11:30. But the point is it is much later than you'd normally like to fall asleep on a work day. Thus making your Monday mornings...well, suck.

I am a Sunday Night Syndrome sufferer. I have experienced this malady for several years (beginning of course as Monday Night Syndrome in school as I explained previously) and for the past two years in its current manifestation. There is no way out of this vicious cycle before getting married and having children (we all know parents with small children don't get to sleep in on the weekends anyways, thus eliminating the problem), but there still may be hope.

I tell you this story not for your pity, but so you can better understand a condition that affects so many people around the world and perhaps one day, help find a cure to eliminate it.

Happy Monday morning people, if there is such a thing...

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Latest Bracket Standings

Still more green than red but a few upsets and close games brings my record down a little bit.
Still in the top-20 of my Facebook friends which is pretty decent.

Again, click to enlarge.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Next Star Of David

I stumbled upon this excellent article from SI.com on Dimitriy Salita, the junior welterweight boxer who is the number 1 contender for the title belt and also happens to be an orthodox Jew from Crown Heights, New York.

Whether you're Jewish or not, the story is pretty inspirational and amazing in how a young immigrant from the Ukraine has been able to balance such fervent practicing of his religion along with athletic performance at such a high level (his professional record is 27-0).

HBO produced a few small webisodes on Salita earlier this year which are equally, if not more intriguing and enlightening as the article. I have attached all three parts below, make sure to watch them.

Here's an excerpt of an interview Salita did with HBO:

HBO: Jewish Pride is important to you. What effect do you think your newfound visibility will have in that area?

DS: Historically, boxing has been an ethnic-driven sport. Latin fans are driving the sport today, and somebody like Manny Pacquiao has got the support of his whole country. In the Philippines Manny is like Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and Barack Obama all rolled into one.

Some Jewish people who are not connected will have seen the episodes, and it's going to make them feel good about being a Jew, and hopefully give them a sense of pride.

HBO: How did your religious leader from Chabad react when you first asked him if HBO could shoot you during a prayer session?

DS: He jumped right in! He was super excited. Chabad uses every media available to speak the word of God. All the rabbis in Crown Heights were very favorable toward the filming. They feel the more media coverage Judaism gets the better.

HBO: What lies ahead for you in both your secular education and religious training?

DS: Religious training is my life. You become a better person the more rules and things you know about God. Knowing God takes a lifetime. There is so much more to learn. It's like a mountain you have to climb. As for my education, I plan to finish Touro College here in Brooklyn. After I get my degree I want to pursue further education. When I finish boxing, I hope to be an entrepreneur and go into business. We'll see what the future holds.

Spring, Gus Johnson Have Been Sprung

Today, March 20, brings not only the second day of March Madness, but also the first day of the vernal equinox and, more importantly, the return of Gus Johnson to the March Madness CBS airwaves.

Gus Johnson, to put it simply, is the greatest college basketball play-by-play man in the history of the universe. The only problem is that CBS must always be on watch that his head might explode every time he calls a game...no, seriously.

I don't even care who's playing today, or how close the scores are in the other games, I want to watch nothing but Johnson and his screaming, wild-calls.

He and his crew are stationed in Minneapolis for the first and second round and today will be calling the following games today:
Kansas vs North Dakota State (in progress)
Dayton vs West Virginia (3:00pm ET)
USC vs Boston College (7:20pm ET)
Robert Morris vs Michigan St. (9:50pm ET)

It Was So Hot, Burger King said "If You Want It Your Way, Make It Yourself"

Here's the Ovechkin video...apparently his celebration had something to do with the stick being "hot, hot, hot"...still not really sure what that means....

Explanation from Ovie is around the 1:40 mark

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Was The Stick So Excited It Had A Heart Attack?

Alex Ovechkin has just scored his 50th goal of the season in the first period on the road against Tampa Bay and celebrated by placing his stick on the ice and pretending to give it CPR....at least I think that's what he was doing...I really have no idea.

He now is the first player to hit the half century mark this season and does it for the third time in his four NHL seasons.

Sill looking for the video and I will post it here when I find it

Well This Can't Be Any Good For The Economy

Sorry for the lack of posts today...I've been a little under the weather.

The good news is that I've had plenty to keep me busy in between the sneezes and coughs.

Today began the NCAA March Madness Tournament and with it billions of dollars in productivity at work has gone down the drain for the next two weeks or so.

You can of course watch the games all day everyday on TV on CBS or The Score in Canada, online for free, or even download an app to watch on your iPhone....oh yah, this won't make the recession any worse.

I have probably four or five brackets on the go, but the one that I always put the most stock in is the one I have on Facebook, mostly because I get to compare it to all my friends and everyone else gets to see it and make fun of me if it sucks.

Here it is...as you can see, I'm 6/8 up to this point, which is pretty good, but not spectacular (click the pic for a larger version)

I'll be updating my Facebook bracket every day from here on out so you can see how I'm doing...my hopes aren't high. But post in the comments if you think I'm nuts in any of my selections.

I've included a live scoreboard to aid in procrastinating from whatever it is you were supposed to be doing now.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Marshawn Lynch Vows To Change His Ways, Profile Picture

Lynch, the running back who is preparing to enter his third season in the NFL with the Buffalo Bills had a face-to-face meeting with NFL commish Roger Goodell yesterday stemming from a misdemeanor gun charge from February. The incident which was his second run-in with the cops in less than a year but now says he's a changed man.

"It has kind of sunk in, and I felt that this was the next step to letting you guys know that there will be a change," Lynch said. "I never had the intention of getting into trouble or anything like that.

"I honestly see a suspension coming, but that comes with the consequences," Lynch said.

The next step in his recovery, getting a new profile picture for ESPN

This was the beautiful grill I had to stare at last season every time I played an opponent who owned Lynch in my fantasy football draft (which I, by the way, dominated and won)...well, at the very least I'm sure it instills fear into the opponent and probably his own mother as well.

In other somewhat related news...
Why do we feel somewhat unsurprised when we read on an NBA injury report "Out 1-3 weeks: Gun Shot Wound" as we did today with Carl Landry of the Houston Rockets when he was reportedly accidentally shot near his home?

Has it come to the point where a gunshot wound in basketball is on par with 'strained oblique' and 'separated pinkie toe' in the level of intrigue it incites?

Obama to UNC: Yes They Can!

Here is what President Barack Obama's NCAA tournament bracket looks like (click the picture for a high res version)...

While I'm pretty sure that Obama picking you should be inspiration enough for the NCAA to just hand you the title, I guess technically the games still have to be played.

He picks Louisville, Pitt, Memphis and UNC to go to the Final Four with UNC defeating Louisville for the title.

Interesting choices...while some may say the Prez took the easy way out in selecting three one seeds and one two seed, I see some ulterior motive behind his choices...

Let's go to the map...

Of his Elite Eight picks, only two come from red states in the 2008 Presidential Election, that being Louisville (Kentucky) and Memphis (Tennessee).
The rest are blue to the bone and in some cases even helped him win the election. Those teams would be Mich St., UConn (Connecticut), Pitt (Pennsylvania), Syracuse (New York), Duke (North Carolina) and UNC (North Carolina).

Sure he picked two red states to make it to the Final Four, but that was clearly just to pander to the opposition and in a classicly brilliant Obama move, selected them from the same side of the bracket so they would face each other and knock one out.

Is it really such a surprise then that UNC came out on top of Louisville in the final?

That's what you get for dissing the leader of the free world...you'll do better to vote blue next time if you wanna have a shot at winning it all.

Why We Are In a Recession

Because there is a market for this....

And in case you were wondering, yes that is in fact a Mercedes-Benz SL600 covered in 300,000 Swarovski crystals.

...and this

This iPhone is worth 1.79 million Euros (around $2.45 million). The phone doesn't just feature a generous sprinkling of brilliant cut diamonds around the edges, it also features a home button with a 6.6 carat diamond. The diamonds are set in white, yellow and rose gold. And just in case that wasn't audacious or supercilious enough for you, you can also get diamond headphone covers for your earbuds...


Don't Mess With Hogtown, We've Got Friends in High Places

Ever wake up in the morning and feel like someone's been whacking you over the head with a baseball bat while you slept...?....Maybe?

Hence...short post this morning

So apparently I'm not the only one who thinks the World Baseball Classic is waaay too long.
The tournament, which began over 10 days ago and has not even played it's semi-final round yet, has been getting lots of criticism from its' players as well.

While I tend to agree with most of their assessments, Chipper Jones took his view one step too far...

"Just way too many days off,” he said to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We stayed in Toronto for a week and played three games. I don’t know if you ever stayed in Toronto, but it’s not exactly Las Vegas. To say that we were plucking our eyebrows out one at a time would be an understatement."

Whooaaaaa now...I get the whole too many days off thing. I actually checked the MLB schedule, most teams average about two days off per MONTH during the season, so I understand how three games in seven days can seem like being promised tickets to a Jai Alai match and a lawn bowling tournament breaks out...
But don't mess with my city.

Chipper, you are officially on my 'don't draft' list for this year's fantasy baseball season...Boo-yah!

Here's what Wilbon and Kornheiser had to say about the issue on yesterday's PTI on ESPN and TSN in Canada.
Hint: They got our back.

Watch from 3:40-1:55...hey, it's not my fault the timer counts down

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Quick Update

The New Jersey Devils just defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 to make Marty Brodeur the all-time winningest goaltender in NHL history.

To celebrate? In true March Madness form, Brodeur took scissors onto the ice to take the net home with him.

Long time Devils broadcaster Mike "Doc" Emerick summed it well when Brodeur had a little trouble cutting the mesh...

"Well it should be tough, it was meant to stop pucks...just like Marty"

Is this some sort of St. Patrick's Day Joke?

Ok...last time I checked it wasn't April 1 yet...so this must be true.

According to ESPN.com, President Barack Obama has nominated his next Ambassador to Ireland and it is none other than....Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney??

I mean...I guess it kinda makes some sense...maybe

In the 1970s, Rooney helped found the American Ireland Fund, an organization that has raised millions for advocacy of peace and education in Ireland. His legacy is reflected in a Steelers-themed bar in a disused linen mill in one of the roughest parts of northwest Belfast.

The "Rooney Rule," which requires any team with a head coaching vacancy to interview at least one minority candidate, was developed by an NFL committee Rooney chaired. Rooney has also participated in labor negotiations between the league and players.

So maybe there's a fit there, if you consider opening a football themed pub in Ireland a qualification to be ambassador. I'm pretty sure I could open a Get Punched in the Face With Every Pint You Order themed bar in Ireland and have it be a success.

My only question...isn't he already kinda busy, ya know...owning and running a professional football team?

Passing St. Patrick

Ah top o' the mornin' to ya lads and lassies...

Ok, I think that's enough of that.
Happy St. Patrick's day everyone and for all of you reading this who might be in university, may your face be as green as your beer.

It's kind of a funny day because not only is it St. Patrick's day, the holiday where god told us to celebrate beer in all it's wonder, but it also may turn out to be St. Patrick's last day.

On Saturday night, Martin Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils beat the Montreal Canadiens 4-1 and in doing so equalled Patrick Roy's all-time mark of 551 career victories.

Tonight, Brodeur will take his shot at passing St. Patrick (as he was known from his time in Montreal) at 7:30 in NJ versus Chicago.

The debate of which is truly the greatest goalie of all time is one that can not and will not be resolved here, but we can at least make an argument can't we?

Brodeur and Roy are tied atop the all-time list with 551 wins, but Roy got there in 1029 games where Brodeur did it in 986. However, it should also be accounted for that Brodeur has played the most recent four years of his career in an a game that had no ties and included shootouts.
Since the NHL instituted shootouts as part the game beginning in the 2005-06 season, no goalie has posted more wins in the format than him, with 27 against only 14 losses.

If those games would have all ended in ties, like they did for the beginning of his career and for the entirety of Roy's, Brodeur would still be 27 wins BEHIND Roy's totals. Consider the following:

Until he missed a significant portion of this season with an elbow injury, Martin Brodeur had averaged slightly over 41 wins and 72 games played the past 11 seasons; Those 27 wins he would be missing equate to slightly over half a season's worth of production (57%); As it stands now, Brodeur is 43 games ahead of Roy's 551-win pace.
If you factor in those 27 extra wins Brodeur would have needed had shootouts not have been implemented, based on his average Brodeur would have had to play 45 games - according to his winning percentage - to get there, bringing his hypothetical games played total up to...1031, two games BEHIND the pace of Roy who did it in 1029.

That makes that wins/game average seem a little more even, now doesn't it?

Comparing the two head to head hardly gets us closer to picking a champion, as those totals have more to do with the teams surrounding the goalies than themselves, but let's do it for fun anyways.

In 18 regular-season meetings, Brodeur came out on top with a 10-8-0 record (18 starts), two shutouts, a 2.06 goals-against average, and a .922 save percentage. Roy (17 starts) went 8-9-0 with four shutouts, a 2.34 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage.
But when it counted most Roy took the cake when his Colorado Avalanche beat the New Jersey Devils in a 2001 seven-game Stanley Cup Final, their only meeting in the playoffs.

The one category that Brodeur does have a decided egde in would be shutouts.
Roy finished his career with 66, whereas Marty currently has 100, only three away from tying Terry Sawchuk's once thought unbeatable record. But that also has less to do with individual talent as it does the team playing with you and the coaching philosophy they implement.

Brodeur has played his entire career with an organization that prides itself on its defensive play and shutting down other teams when it had a lead. Roy played on very talented teams in Montreal and Colorado, but teams that were just as happy winning a game 7-5 as 2-0. The same could not be said for New Jersey.

Brodeur has three Stanley Cups, four Vezina's, a calder trophy and an Olympic gold medal.
Roy has four Stanley Cups, three Vezina's but three Conn Smythe's as well.

So if it happens to be tonight, on St. Patrick's Day that Martin Brodeur passes Patrick Roy to become the all-time winingest goalie in NHL history, or any other night for that matter, the question will be the same: Who's really the best?

I guess it just comes down to a matter of taste, like would I rather have a Guinness or a Heineken as my first pint o' the day?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Jay Cutler: The One Man Detroit Stimulus Package

So we've heard the rumours about Jay Cutler demanding a trade out of Denver (I know you have because I wrote about it this morning).

The real problem is where would he go and what could Denver get in return?

Cutler is, to say the least, a stud. At only 25 years old (a virtual baby as far as NFL standards are concerned), he is coming off the best season of his short three year career, throwing for 25 TD's just 11 INT's, over 4,500 yards and being named to the AFC Pro Bowl roster.

Problem is, Cutler got a wee bit pissy a few weeks back when he heard his name being thrown about in relation to some trade rumours. Word on the street was that he might be sent packing to Tampa Bay in a three-way deal that would see Matt Cassel, the new wunderkid, arrive in Denver from New England (this was before Cassel was dealt to Kansas City).

Cutler and his new coach, former Patriot offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels (hence the trade proposal), tried to smooth things over on the phone but apparently only made it worse. Things then came to a head this weekend when it was reported that Cutler met face to face with his new coach and apparently the meeting went so well that he decided to put his Denver area house up for sale and ask for - demand, depending on what publication you read - a trade (don't worry, he's not on the streets quite yet, he still owns a penthouse apartment downtown.)

So the Broncos are faced with a dilemma. Keep Cutler and hope the kid can suck up his feelings of hurt and resentment to return to his pro-bowl form; or trade him now.

While a few teams immediately come to mind as possible trade partners with Denver (Minnesota, Chicago and Tampa Bay are the most notable), none of them make as much sense as would a trade to the Detroit Lions.

The Lions are bad...like stinky cheese that's been sitting on the counter for too long in the middle of summer bad. In 2008 they gained the dubious distinction of becoming the only team ever...EVER...to finish the year 0-16.

Their prize for this run of futility; The number one overall pick in this year's draft.

The Lions are strongly considering drafting Matthew Stafford, a QB out of the University of Georgia at the one spot. Some, however, are questioning whether Stafford deserves the top pick, despite him being the consensus number one QB on the board, or if the Lions are better off using it to draft someone to help shore up a defense that was likened to a siv...if instead of having a ton of little holes, the siv just had one big ginormous hole that let everything through it...kinda like that.

Now, in addition to the first overall pick and the 33rd pick in the draft (first choice of the second round) the Lions also own the 20th overall selection which they gained early last season as part of a trade that sent receiver Roy Williams to Dallas.

Here's the deal that makes sense to me: The Lions acquire QB Jay Cutler from the Denver Broncos in exchange for the 20th and 33rd picks in the 2009 draft.

Here's why it makes sense.

The Broncos have no QB depth to speak of behind Cutler, why would they? When you have a 25 year old franchise guy, you don't waste high picks or big free-agent money to back him up.
That being said, Denver would understandably want from any trade either a proven NFL QB or a pick high enough to draft one.

Getting the 20th overall selection would allow the Broncos to pick one of the top two or three QB's in draft. Because the Broncos also own their own first round pick this year at number 12, they could either take the best QB available there, or use the 20th pick as leverage to move up in the draft if they fear Stafford and USC QB Matt Sanchez will both be gone by then.

Shrewd usage of those three picks in the first 33 could undoubtedly garner a top-line quarterback of the future if done correctly. Plus they would use the other two picks acquired to shore up any other needs the team sees fit.

What Detroit gets in this deal is pretty obvious: A proven, NFL quarterback who they know can handle the rigours of the day in, day out grind that is the NFL. On top of that, they get to keep the first overall pick to use on a defensive player, probably LB Aaron Currey out of Wake Forest, DT B.J Raji from Boston College or DE Brian Orakpo from Texas, all of whom ESPN.com rates above Matthew Stafford on their list of top draft eligible players.

Quite frankly, the Lions offense - minus the QB position - really isn't so bad. Calvin Johnson is one of the best young wide receivers in the NFL, heck take away the word 'young' from that statement and it's probably still true. Kevin Smith emerged as a solid rookie running back last year who can handle the load with a reliable passing game to back him up. Sure they still need a good second WR option and little more help on the o-line, but who couldn't?

What Cutler would bring to Detroit is not only offensive stability, but a sense of excitement that a city, who for anyone who hasn't lived under a rock the last eight months or so knows, is desperately in need of some good news, on and off the football field.

This trade, if consummated, would give them exactly that.

Really...? You Didn't See That Coming At All?

A man was caught trying to rob a joint this weekend...nothing so unordinary about that, right?

Except this genius decided it would be a good idea to rip off a Tae Kwon Do studio....while class was in session...

The results, as they say, should not have been entirely unexpected...

The robber thought he could quietly slip in and out of David Kang's studio in Fox Point with some loot. What he didn't realize is that he would encounter a Tae Kwon Do master who wasn't about to let him off the hook.

Kang was giving a private lesson Tuesday and heard someone in his office. Kang found the man going through his closet, grabbed him by the neck and sat him down while he called police.

The robber took off and Kang gave chase, finally catching up with the man and holding him by the neck until police arrived (Yahoo)

Yet another reason why dumb criminals are awesome!

Weekend Musings

It's that time of year again...where millions of people who haven't watched a second of college basketball all year instantly become the biggest fans and experts on the planet by randomly picking winners of games in very much the same fashion they select horses at the race track. I hear Oklahoma St. has a secret pre-game recipe for their pasta with grilled re....no, I've said too much already. But believe me, it's a no brainer. They can't lose.
(Even at this very moment I am eavesdropping on a fellow co-worker spouting some bull about how Florida State and Duke would be an epic matchup and how FSU is so underrated because of their size and skill...mhm)
I'm tempted to begin an "Overheard in the Office Blog" involving ridiculous March Madness statements...I'll get back to that idea later.

It's finally beginning to feel a little like spring here in Toronto. It was a momentous occasion today when I busted out the spring jacket for the first time. It's the little things in life that give us pleasure.

Jay Cutler, the QB for the Denver Broncos who was so insulted that his name was floated out in trade rumours earlier in the month has shown his loyalty to the club by doing what any other player trying to prove to a new coach that he wants to stay would do...sell his house and ask for a trade....wait, what?

The Raptors absolutely destroyed the Pacers yesterday afternoon at home, winning by 23 points. Taking a huge step forward in his journey towards becoming a new crowd favourite was Pops Mensah-Bonsu. Not only is he tenacious in his rebounding and pretty much attempts to break the rim down on every dunk, but how fun is his name to say!?! Mensah-Bonsu to the rim!... Mensah-Bonsu slams it down with authority!...Mensah-Bonsu poster-izes the defender!!...mhmm, love it.

The Canadian University Basketball Championships took place this weekend in Ottawa. Crowned champs for a sixth time in seven years were the Carleton Ravens. Carleton nearly missed out on the final for a second straight season though after needing a buzzer beating jump-shot to defeat my Alma-mater Western Mustangs in the semis.
But no fear, the Stangs were crowned Ontario champs this weekend in men's hockey and will go to Thunder Bay from March 26-29 to play for the national title.

Is the World Baseball Classic still really going on? Does anybody even care at this point...In future years the organizers really need to tighten up the event and make it much shorter than the 18 days it is now...heck the entire Olympics only last 17.

I don't care what bar in what city you are in, 10 bucks for a bottle of beer is way too much!

Rumours are the Buffalo Bills will carry some more star power into their annual game in Toronto this year. In addition to the recent signing of Terrel Owens, reports are that the Bills opponent in this season's regular season game at the Skydome will be Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts...thank god, maybe someone will actually be interested in buying these stupid tickets I paid way too much for last year.

Ok...some actually really disturbing news out of Iraq from this weekend.
A soccer player was shot and killed on Sunday right on the pitch in the middle of a match. Worse is that this apparently had nothing to do with terrorism, Sunni and Shiite aggression or even reaction to the Bush shoe thrower getting sentenced to three years in prison (three years!?!). No, apparently the player was taking the ball and about to score a tying goal when an opposing fan decided he liked the score of the game as it was at that point, thank you very much.
...Wow. Note to self: When playing Iraq in any sport, be sure to give them the little sister treatment (ooh look at that, your slow rolling dud went right through my wide open legs. Great goal!)

Tiger Woods made his triumphant re-return to pro golf this weekend by appearing in his first stroke play tournament since last summer. The other players must not have been informed of his presence though because nobody, despite what the commercials might lead you to believe, laid down and disqualified themselves due to Tiger-phobia.
How dare they actually "try hard" and "believe they can win" when Tiger is in the field...for-shame! Don't they know there are TV ratings to be counted here...sheesh.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Don't Mess With Ron Wilson

That's Kinda The Point, George

As I mentioned in yesterday's quick hits blog, the NHL GMs began meeting yesterday in Naples, Florida and right at the top of items to be discussed was the role of fighting in the NHL and what, if any, rule changes could be made to make it safer.

To nobodies surprise, the old boys club wouldn't even consider removing it from the game, however they did institute a few rule changes to be recommended to the competition committee that might be in place as early as next season.

Among the rule changes:
Players who fight immediately after a faceoff will be penalized now with a 10 minute misconduct on top their fighting major.

A player who starts a fight after a hit is delivered legally to a teammate will be subject to a more aggressive interpretation of the instigator rule, which is already in place, but hardly ever called.

What these rules mean is that the NHL is attempting to eliminate two categories of fights, but not fights entirely.
According to NHL statistics, approximately 24% of fights occur immediately after the drop of the puck and have nothing to do with the flow of the game (There were four such fights that took place last night alone).
As well, 20% of fights occur after a clean hit is delivered, meaning that fully one fifth of all fights occur when a player is asked to 'stand up for his actions' that weren't illegal in the first place.
These are the fights the NHL is trying to eliminate from its' game.

What's to stop two fighters from lining up on the faceoff, jawing to each other and then instead of dropping the gloves right away, skating around in circles for 15 seconds before doing it? I don't know.
The fact that the NHL wants to take a more aggressive line in calling instigator penalties is really nothing more than an enforcement of an already existing rule.

But there is one person who believes these rule changes will completely alter the game as we know it, and his name is George Laraque.

Laraque is a 13 year NHL veteran and now plays (well...plays is a strong word, collects paychecks from) the Montreal Canadiens.
Laraque, a serious NHL heavyweight who rarely plays more than six or seven minutes a night, feels his job as enforcer is now in danger.

"Stupidest thing ever! I think it's a joke. They might as well take fighting out of the NHL...fighting won't be safer; it will be eliminated because an added 10 minute misconduct is too much."

But wait...there's more.

"This will take the one-dimensional player out of the NHL because that's who they will say starts a staged fight."


Well...duh! Isn't that kinda the point? To take players who do nothing but fight out of the game. Why should teams have to waste a roster spot on someone who can't skate, can't score, can't defend and all he does it throw punches and warms the bench?
I know what you're saying, technically teams don't have to dress guys like that. They could ice a roster of guys all 5'8 and under if they wanted. Sure. But it's awfully tough to keep up with the Jones' in this world if you ain't got what they got, if you know what I mean.
As long as some teams are allowed to do it and feel they can gain an advantage from it, they will and other teams will be forced to follow suit.

That's why this rule is great.

Laraque's comments, you see, are fundamentally flawed. He claims this rule will eliminate jobs in the NHL. While true, it's slightly misleading as well. Laraque and his cohorts of bash brothers will eventually be fazed out of the league and will no longer be able to collect their massive salaries, but it's not like NHL teams will suddenly only dress 19 players for a game instead of 20. NHL owners won't be jumping at the opportunity to pay one less player a contract. Quite the opposite.
These spaces will be filled with skilled players. Players who can skate, puckhandle, pass and defend. And yes, players who are tough and strong as well, but those who can also hold their own in other departments.

Like one writer in my office said to me, "If I were an NHL GM approaching the draft, what I WOULDN'T be saying to my team is 'boy, what I'm looking for this year is one dimension, yup that's it. I want a guy who does one thing really well and nothing else at all.'"
Those days are over. No longer will a more talented player be left in the minors or kept on a farm team because some 250 pound oaf with iron fists is taking the last spot on the club.

If the NHL wants to keep fighting as a part of the game, I'm OK with that (there still is, however, much more to be done to make the fights themselves more safe). But let it happen naturally and as a direct result of the emotions and flow of the game. No more of these staged fights that do nothing but waste everyone's time.

Listen close around the 45 second mark

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Quick Hits

Guy Carbonneau was fired as the coach of the Montreal Canadiens last night, not even a full year after signing a contract extension with the club that was reportedly 4-years in duration. Though it was a bit of a shocker, I really don't feel bad for the guy at all. Especially in tough times like these, there really is no better gig than being a fired coach. Honestly, they're gonna pay you for the rest of your contract....NOT TO WORK!!!.....That's like, the best severance package. Ever.

Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel has won the award for Best Airport in the Middle East for the second year in a row, narrowly edging out That Strip Of Dirt and Gravel In Between The Palm Trees Over There.

Seriously Canada?!? Losing 6-2 to team Italy to be eliminated from the World Baseball Classic...in Toronto!?!?!....Italy!?!?!

Congratulations to Gary Roberts who today called it a career and retired after 21 seasons in the NHL. Roberts should be especially proud that he get's to go out just like every pro athlete dreams of....by being waived by one of the worst teams in the league and not picked up by anybody else.
Seriously though, Roberts was one of the most iconic Maple Leafs of past 15 years when he played here from 2000-04 and the only one I can think of who left before he wore out his welcome (Ed Belfour, Tie Domi and Mats Sundin should've taken note). In fact, the only time Roberts choked up during his conference call today was when he recalled his time in the T-Dot.
We'll miss ya Gar...well, I mean the NHL won't, cause nobody wanted you anyways, but you know what I mean.

The NBA has decided to formally acknowledge it's Latino heritage by having "Noche Latina" all over the NBA.
Last night in Miami, the home team wore jerseys that read "El Heat" and in Dallas a few nights back, the game versus San Antonio featured jerseys of "Los Mavs" and "Los Spurs". The Lakers (Los Lakers) and Knicks (Nueva York) have already sported the new threads as well.
I wonder how this trend would manifest itself in other sports?

Would the NHL pay tribute to it's European history by making all players wear a visor for a night?
Would Major League Soccer recognize it's Italian roots and mandate all taps to the shin be followed by a theatrical dive and gurney ride off the pitch?
The NFL could harken back to it's origins in rugby and play a week of the season pads-free.
Maybe MLB can honour it's blue-collar American history by laying off all it's players for a night.
NASCAR can pay homage to it's southern fan base by asking all drivers to grow a mullet.

...who knows, the possibilities are endless.

My First Hockey Memory

I remember my first game of pond hockey.

Now, I should clarify myself. This probably wasn’t the first time I had actually skated on a pond and definitely wasn’t the first time I played hockey, but none of that matters. This was the moment I became a hockey player.

I was probably six or seven years old at the time and absolutely loving the game. I had “played” since I was probably a few years old (knocking sticks and pucks on the ice with my dad qualifies to me as playing) and by this age I had learned how to skate, albeit hesitantly, but was slow on my curve. I hadn’t even learned to raise the puck.

This particular weekend I was away visiting my grandparents who lived about 45 minutes from me. Before I left to come home at the end of weekend my father suggested we go out to a pond a few blocks away and play a little hockey (he had brought both mine and his skates and sticks with him to pick me up). It was a beautiful, late winter day and I was only too excited to get outside.

We spent the first half-hour or so shoveling the ice – well, he shoveled, I helped – and then dropped a puck and began to play. It was just the two of us, but at stake was the Stanley Cup and neither was willing to lose the chance to hoist it in the bitter cold.

I don’t remember what we talked about, if anything. In fact, very few details of that day remain besides the big picture of it all. I do, however, remember taking a shot and having it go wide of our net that we had set up with two shoes on the ice and drifting over the snow bank we had built. I climbed over the snow that couldn’t have been more than six or eight inches off the ground and flicked the puck to get it back into play…I had raised it over the bank.

I looked up at my father with eyes that only a child doing something so brilliant and magical for the first time could give and said, “I did it, I raised the puck!” I don’t remember what my father’s response was, or anything that happened later in the game, but I know that was the moment I truly became a hockey player.

Today, you can play at any number of thousands of local ponds all over the world, skate all winter on the Rideau Canal in Ottawa, or even register for the World Pond Hockey Championships in Plaster Rock, New Brunswick. The game though and what it means to countless kids, teens and adults around the world, remains the same.

You can have your fancy multiplex arenas and heated benches all you want, I’ll be out back raising the puck over the bank.

Monday, March 9, 2009

These Are Tough Times We're Living In

So, funny story to pass along from the office today.

One of the other slaves (I call us interns 'slaves'. The paid staff really appreciate it when we say it to their face) was out on Saturday night with some friends and decided to hop over to Gretzky's for dinner.

For those unfamiliar, Gretzky's is a bar/restaurant in downtown Toronto located about a block and a half away from the Skydome (I know, I know...I don't care what they call it now) conveniently located at 99 Blue Jays Way....get it?...get it?
I went there once when it opened and the food was terrible so I haven't been back, but if someone with some pull happens to be reading this blog I would definitely accept a gift certificate or at least a free pitcher to sway me into coming back.

Anyways, this co-slave had just sat down at his table and was looking over his menu when who came up to take his order? None other than Walter Gretzky, that's who.

Now, I presume Walter is doing ok financially (his son, Wade I think (?) reportedly makes upwards of 7-8 million a year coaching the Phoenix Coyotes), but still it must have very bizarre to see the father of the greatest hockey player of all time asking you if you want ceasar or house salad with your burger.

I asked my friend if he got a chance to ask Walter what he was doing, or if he took a picture or got an autograph and alas the answer to all three was no, so I have no actual proof of this taking place. But if anyone else spots a quasi-celebrity in an unusual place, lemme know!

I wonder if ol' Walt pooled his tips.

No Hunny....I Don't Find This Funny At All...

...because that would be inappropriate

Alex Ovechkin Plays Wii Boxing Against Sidney Crosby

...what's that?
Ok, I'm being told this is not actually Sidney Crosby and is, in fact, just a little girl....enjoy!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Weekend Musings

Not in a million years would I have guessed Terrell Owens would end up in Buffalo. Is it just me or does T.O not really seem like a 'Western New York' kinda guy?

The CFL evaluation camp (right) took place this weekend in Toronto. I know what you're thinking, "Pokeroo, I missed it again!?!". Well good news, there's an entire website dedicated to giving you the stats, photos and videos of all your Canadian university football heroes. And so you don't miss out again, the CFL Canadian University Draft is May 2 and the Hamilton Tiger Cats are on the clock.

On Sunday morning we set the clocks ahead one hour. Say what you will, there aint nothing spring about this forward. Waking up this morning felt like it was mid-December again, between the snow and the pitch black.

John Tavares scored 3-goals (aka...a 'hat-trick') in Windsor on Sunday to become the all-time career goal scoring leader in the OHL with 215. For a kid with so much pressure put on him when he joined the league as an underage 15-year-old, he sure has performed damn well. He is widely expected to be (lets just say it, he WILL be) the number one overall pick in this summer's NHL entry draft.

The NHL GM's meetings begin today in Naples, Florida. Among the topics expected to be discussed is, of course, fighting. Everybody is gonna be keeping a close watch on what sorta discussions take place and what action, if any, is taken.

If anyone ever tells me again that having veal for dinner is like eating a cute baby animal, I'm gonna punch them in the face. If god didn't want us to eat animals, he shouldn't have made them taste so good.

I was at the Canada vs. USA World Baseball Classic game on Saturday. It was an awesome game to be at along with 42,000 of my closest friends. Canada has a fantastic lineup with some of the most potent hitters in the game (Justin Morneau, Jason Bay, Russel Martin, Joey Votto) but gave up three homers to a USA squad that reads practically like an All-Star lineup (Derek Jeter, Chipper Jones, Dustin Pedroia, David Wright, Adam Dunn...etc) and eventually lost 6-5 despite scoring a run in the ninth inning and leaving a runner on second base with Jason Bay at bat. If Canada had any of their major league pitching staff in this tournament it would've been a much different game.
One question that came up amongst myself and the people I was there with was why Russell Martin wore a jersey reading "J. Martin". Apparently, 'J' is Martin's mother's first initial and he is wearing it during the tournament and some spring training games in LA as a tribute to her.

As someone who loves to travel as much as I do, I've gotten totally addicted to the show "Departures" which airs on OLN in Canada and National Geographic Adventure in the USA and other countries. Now in it's second season, the show follows a pair of 20-somethings who drop everything and travel the world for a (now second) year, capturing their adventures on film along the way. The cinematography is almost as beautiful as the scenery itself (the show won a Gemini award for outstanding photography). Check out when it's on and don't miss it.

A-Rod has decided that he can't take the jeers and boos he will undoubtedly get upon his return to the MLB after his steroid revelation, so instead he's announced he will be undergoing surgery on his hip and will be out until May...karma's a bitch.

Finally today, two happy birthdays to announce: Today 'Barbie' turns 50 (so I'm told) and also we mark (technically yesterday) the 30th anniversary of the first ever release of the Compact Disc. Originally created by Phillips, it was released under the prototype name of 'Pinkeltje'...I think I speak for everybody when I thank Phillips for deciding to go with CD instead.
Guess which one of the two birthday products has had more impact on my life...?
An awesome no-prize for whoever gets it right!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Owens and Buffalo Will Not Get Along

For once, an article about Terrell Owens will have no mention of his character, reputation or temper.

What we're talking about here is purely statistics driven.

That picture to the right is of the week 17 game this past season between the Bills and the Patriots in Buffalo. The wind and cold that day was absolutely insane...I should know, I was there.

So my first thought when I learned that Owens would be playing this coming season in Buffalo was, "how the hell is he gonna play in that cold weather?". Now, T.O did have two seasons in cold Philadelphia in between stops in balmy San Fransisco and Dallas. But I decided to go through his numbers and see how he's fared in cold weather games throughout his career.

Here are the criteria for my study:
Any game, home or away, in which T.O dressed and played in December or later (including playoffs) in cold-weather cities with outdoor stadiums (Detroit does not count because the Lions play in a dome...for example).

Here's the full list, followed by the statistical breakdown (Catches-Yards-TD):

2008: Dec 7 @ PIT (3-32-1)
Dec 28 @ PHI (6-103-0)
2007: No Cold Games
2006: Dec 3 @ NYG (8-84-0)
Wild Card Game @ SEA (2-26-6)
2005: No cold games
2004: Dec 5 vs GNB (8-161-1)
Dec 12 @ WAS (6-46-0)
Dec 19 vs DAL (2-24-0)
San Fransisco
2003: Dec 14 @ CIN (8-127-1)
Dec 21 @ PHI (1-20-0)
2002: No Cold Games
2001: Wild Card Game @ GNB (4-40-0)
2000: Dec 23 @ DEN (3-35-0)
1999: Dec 5 @ CIN (9-145-0)
1998: Dec 20 @ NWE (3-61-1)
1997: Dec 21 @ SEA (2-37-0)
1996: Dec 15 @ PIT (3-45-1)

Here's how those stats break down:
15 games
68 catches (4.5 receptions per game or RPG)
986 yards (65.7 yards per game or YPG)
5 touchdowns (0.33 touchdowns per game or TD/G )

On the surface, those numbers are actually not too bad. Most mere mortals would be thrilled to have numbers like those spanning a 13-year hall of fame career. But Owens' career numbers tell a different story.

If you take his career averages of 5.0 RPG, 74.7 YPG and TD/G ratio of .73, then subtract his cold weather numbers to account for those games lowering his career averages, you get a completely different set of numbers. These statistics we will refer to as his "warm weather games".

In "warm weather games", Terrell Owens averaged slightly over 5 RPG, slightly over 75 YPG and a TD/G ratio of .76).

"Warm vs Cold"
RPG: 5 vs 4.5
YPG: 75 vs 65.7
TD/G: .76 vs .33

...as they say, the numbers don't lie. Owens has struggled over his entire career in cold weather games.
Even when you look at games played in the last week of November in cold weather stadiums the numbers are no better - three games, 13 catches (4.3 RPG), 152 yards (50.6 YPG), 0 TD's.

You may say, 'ok so his numbers dopped a little bit, but that's to be expected. It's only human nature that a person's performance will be better when one is warm and comfortable than when one is cold and tight'.

If there would be one number I could present to you to persuade you once and for all that Owens performance drops more than a reasonable amount when he plays in cold weather, it would be this:
In warm weather games, over 15% of Owens catches went for touchdowns. That is an astounding number, especially for someone with such a long career and so many receptions.
But, that average practically gets cut in half when looking at his cold weather numbers, all the way down to 7%.

So not only were his catches down, but his quality catches and his ability to make big plays was also significantly reduced. That clearly shows he is both less comfortable in those scenarios and looked to less often in key situations.

All this of course means nothing until Owens puts on that Bills jersey and actually proves what he can do when the real weather shows up.

But for all you Buffalo fans out there who can't wait for T.O to help your team make a playoff push - regardless of if he keeps his mouth shut and is the ideal teammate - once the wind, snow and ice arrive, I wouldn't hold your breath.