Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Dog days of August

Well it's been a good run for the Blue Jays...there's a month and a half left in the season (oh baseball, you go by so fast!) and the Jays sit 7.5 back of the Damn Yankees and 8.5 behind the defending champion White Sox for the wild card.

They had a rough road trip a while back but have since played better...unfortunately it hasn't translated into gaining any ground.

Their one last realistic shot at making some noise comes the rest of this month, with 3 of 4 series against beatable teams (Tampa, Baltimore, Cleveland). If the Jays have any hope at all, they have to at least win those 3 series and ideally take two of three against Oakland.

I'm optimistic they'll do well, but not so optimistic that they'll move up very much in the standings...just too many good teams ahead of them.

Congrats to Roger Federer for winning the Rogers Cup over at York University, his 40th career victory and 17th straight finals appearance. The guy is just ridiculous...he has almost no competition, outside of Rafael Nadal, and that's only on clay.

The scary part is that he's only 25...he's already the best in recent memory, and he's on his way to etching his name with the likes of Sampras, Agassi, Lendl, Borg and the other male tennis greats.

And last but certainly not least, a big shoutout to my favourite player in the NFL, newly-retired Junior Seau. He was the most dominant linebacker of his day, going to twelve straight Pro Bowls...TWELVE. Most NFL players don't even play 12 seasons...this guy was at the top of his game every year.

He sparked my interest in NFL football and my subsequent love of the Chargers which still burns to this day, thanks to LaDainian Tomlinson and the hopes of a contending team for years to come.

And his retirement press conference wasn't the usual washed-up-football-star-gets-all-weepy affair.

"Listen, I win. I'm not going to cry. You know what? I won."

"Today is my graduation day. Retirement means that you'll just go ahead and live on your laurels and surf all day in Oceanside. It ain't going to happen."

"Respect the game. Love the game. Stop pushing the game away, youth. Because you know what? The game is going to go anyway. The game's going to leave you anyway. So why not embrace it? I loved that game."

Words of wisdom from one of the game's best. Seau deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, and a broadcast career is definitely in his future. I wear the 55 on my back partly because of him...thanks Junior, you were great.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Forza Azzurri!!!

I still can't believe it.

Once again, it's all about justice and redemption.

We won despite another bullshit-of-all-bullshits penalty call in the early going (he didn't even touch that diving bastard)...justice.

Zidane's crossbar-bouncing penalty just barely went in, but Trezeguet's penalty didn't...justice.

Trezeguet not scoring...redemption for Euro 2000.

Italy winning in a penalty shootout for the first time since, well, ever...redemption.

As for Zidane's headbutt...well that was just shameful. Not the way you want to go out in the last game of your international career...certainly a blemish on his legacy.

And so closes a great tournament with the greatest possible outcome...doesn't get much better than that.

Two championships in my lifetime (I was like two months old in 82). I'll guess this means I'll be 48 for the next one.

At least this time I got to celebrate...walking and cheering amongst thousands of Italian supporters on College St and St Clair Ave...I'll never forget it.

Forza Italia...forza indeed.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


The Azzurri are in the finals!

They soundly outplayed the Germans and deserved to win...it was a great game.

Next up France or Portugal...either revenge for 1998 and 2000, or the battle of St. Clair and College. Should be great either way.

Forza Italia!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Italy vs Germany

The final four...here we are.

I'm confident and yet pessimistic at the same time

Germany really hasn't had a tough game all tournament, and they really didn't see the best of Argentina, who foolishly sat back and tried to hold the lead instead of attacking.

And yet the home field advantage makes me think they'll make it to the finals for sure.

With all of the bad press surrounding Italian soccer between the scandal and some questionable plays/playcalling, can they really make it to the finals? If they do, one of two interesting scenarios await them.

Either France, who I'd love to beat to exact revenge for 1998 and 2000 (the amount of extra time added in the 2000 Euro final grows every year...we're up to 10 minutes now), or Portugal, who I'd love to beat to shut up the Portuguese fans and reclaim St. Clair Ave and College St as Italian territory.

The Azzurri have yet to concede an actual goal in the World Cup (the own goal against the US doesn't count), and they're more than capable of breaking down a suspect German defense.

Hopefully they will learn from seeing Argentina try and fail to play a shut-down style of game and bring the attack to Germany...if for no other reason than an exciting match.

Forza Italia...let's kick the farfennugen out of ze Germans!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Italy vs Ukraine

Worlds are colliding! It's on...this is the finals for our group of friends.

I'm predicting another 1-0 win for Italy, mostly because Ukraine will sit back like they did against the Swiss.

It'll be boring, and somewhat ugly (not as bad as some of the other games...I'm talking to you, Portugal) but a win is a win.

And oh yeah, for all the people who are bitching about the supposed no-call in the Australia game...it's called justice. Materazzi's red card was bullshit (it was no more than a yellow)...and Guus Hiddink had it coming after getting every friggin call in 2002 when he coached South Korea.

Plus if you look closely, the Aussie defender was definitely trying to impede Grosso. Just because he didn't slide tackle him doesn't mean he wasn't trying to trip him up. You might not like the timing, but it's a penalty...deal with it.

Forza Italia...let's make perogies out of the Ukraine!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Italy vs Australia

Well, Italy has already surpassed my World Cup expectations by winning their group and thus avoiding Brazil in the first round.

The Aussies will be a difficult team to play against, as they're quite aggressive and it seems the Italians have trouble playing non-European teams, ie. tying the US and the South Korea debacle four years ago. Those two teams have something in common: Australia's head coach Gus Hiddink coached the Koreans in 2002.

This troubles me slightly. However, Italy should prevail, meaning an Italy-Ukraine match is highly possible, provided the Ukies take care of the Swiss as well.

England beating Ecuador was no real surprise, however I was disappointed in the Dutch for not taking advantage of a shorthanded Portuguese squad. It was a dirty game and frankly both teams should be ashamed of their antics...it's given England a huge advantage, as Deco, Costinha and possibly Luis Figo will be unavailable for the match due to red cards/suspensions.

Germany/Argentina is going to be a classic, and Brazil/Spain or Brazil/France will also be a dandy. Ghana is a good team but I can't see them knocking off the Brazilians.

So far a very entertaining World Cup...Forza Italia, let's kick some Kangaroo ass!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Carolina Hurricanes...2006 Stanley Cup Champions

Congrats to the Canes...they were the best team in the Eastern Conference for most of the season, made the best moves at the trade deadline (Doug Weight, Mark Recchi), and were the best team in the playoffs.

So many long-suffering veterans finally get to hoist the Cup: Weight, Glen Wesley, Ray Whitney, and the most deserving of all, Rod Brind'Amour, the definition of a class act.

I will wear my Hurricanes jersey with pride (whenever the hell it decides to show up).

Kudos to the Oilers for coming back when everyone counted them out...but they just couldn't complete the comeback. I will say that even though they're a Canadian team and I'm supposed to root for them, they knocked out my pick in the West (San Jose), so frankly, I ain't cryin for em. Plus I just can't fully get behind a team with Mike Peca on it...I hate that guy.

And so the book closes on another season of NHL hockey...let's hope they can build on this successful year and learn from the mistakes of the lockout and the boring pre-lockout style of play.

Until then...let's go Blue Jays.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Uh oh...the Oilers are in trouble.

After blowing a three-goal lead and losing Dwayne Roloson for the rest of the series, the Oilers look to be...oh what's the expression...fucked.

Here's another expression: sometimes it's better to be lucky to be good, and the Hurricanes have certainly been lucky. After beating maybe the best goalie in the league in Martin Brodeur, they took advantage of major injuries on Montreal and Buffalo (Saku Koivu, Tim Connolly and pretty much all of the Sabres' top defensemen) to move on. But let's not go so far to say it was a fluke: I recall everyone picking Carolina as the favourites to go all the way post-trade deadline, when thy picked up Mark Recchi and Doug Weight. This is a stacked offensive team, and they've beat three straight hot goalies. I'll be proud to wear their colours, and willing to withstand the boos, rotten fruit and office equipment thrown my way at work.

As for Dwayne Roloson, well...while I don't wish injury on anyone, he might have had this coming. He's been flopping around, diving and drawing penalties pretty much all postseason. Some would call them the actions of a wily veteran. I call it cheating. Perhaps Roloson will curl up with an old favourite whilst on the shelf: Peter and the Wolf. When I saw him sprawled on the ice, I wasn't immediately convinced he was legitimately hurt, and that speaks volumes about his character.

So it appears the Oilers magical run is over. They upset two Cup favourites in Detroit and San Jose, and got by another Cinderella team in the Ducks, but it looks like the Canes will be too much, especially now that they're forced to go with Conklin or Markannen (comically dubbed Conkkanen by Oilers fans). They'll be back, though...they've got a great mix of youth and veterans, and will learn a lot from this experience as a group.

In other possibly more important news, the World Cup starts this week, and is about the only thing that can push the Stanley Cup Finals to the background...(if the Jays make the World Series, then we'll talk).

The four-year buildup is over...and while many things have changed, one has stayed the same: Brazil is the clear favourite. They are just a ridiculously talented squad, and even the most blind fan of any other team has to acknowledge the Brazilians as the team to beat.

I'd like to say Italy has a chance...but frankly it'll be difficult enough for the Azzurri to get out of the group stage...and once there, Brazil likely awaits them, unless they can edge out the Czechs for first in Group E, which again is no easy task. I have the Czechs making it all the way to the finals to face Brazil (and losing).

An unlikely (but pretty cool) scenario would have the Italians finishing first and defeating Croatia in the round of 16, setting up a match versus Ukraine, pitting myself and all my Italian friends against the one Ukrainian in our group. Needless to say, serious smack-talk and various Seinfeld references will be flung around like so many pizzas and perogies.

Realistically though, Italy is out in the first knockout stage. I'm picking Holland and Mexico to join Brazil and the Czechs in the final four. As for upsets, look out for the Ivory Coast, the strongest African team in the tournament.

"The Beautiful Game" brings the world together like no other event, even the Olympics. So enjoy the World Cup, whoever you happen to be cheering for.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Imagine being in line for a beer at a ballgame...

And a retirement plan literally falls into your hand.

38-year-old Andrew Morbitzer, a San Francisco native, is the proud owner of Barry Bonds' 715th home run ball.

He caught it with one hand, after it dropped off the roof and into the concession area.

Luckiest. Bastard. Ever. If it were me, I'd sell it and allow the good times to subsequently roll...life is too short for working and that bullshit.

As for Bonds, the record means nothing to me on any level. He still cheated, he's still a jerk, and he's still second. He's 40 away from Hank Aaron, and at his current rate, he ain't gonna do it.

And frankly, I'm glad: Hank Aaron is all class. Remove the first two letters from class, and you have Barry Bonds.

Of course, congrats to the Oilers...first Cup final since 1990...and even though my Carolina Hurricanes jersey is due to arrive for the Stanley Cup, I'm backing the Oil.

Going to the Jays game after work to catch Doc Halladay & Co take on the Red Sox...after taking two of three from the defending champion White Sox and still 5 games over .500 without 3/5 of their starting rotation, they're still in good shape I think.

So go Jays, go Oilers, and um, go catching a money ball while in line for a beer.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Anaheim, Buffalo, Carolina, Edmonton

Your final four in the new NHL...yep, it's new alright.

I was 3 for 4 on my predictions...and I'm happy to do the Canadian thing and support Edmonton.

I'm going with Edmonton and Buffalo in the finals...

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm hunting for red Sabres, red Hurricanes and the alternate Oilers jerseys (black Sharks too, if I can find em).

Sunday, May 07, 2006

A little basketball comment

There's been quite the debate over Steve Nash being named MVP for a second straight year, ahead of Kobe Bryant and Lebron James.

Tonight in Game 7 of the Phoenix-LA series, Nash showed why he at least deserves the honour over Kobe.

He played into the fourth quarter on a sprained ankle, completing a 4% probability comeback in Game 7.

As for Kobe? He took a grand total of three shots in the second half, in a game that was a blowout from the get go.

Advantage: Nash. Kobe is a punk.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

First round of the playoffs = over.

The first round is always unpredictable, but this is ridiculous: the top 4 seeds make it through in the East, while the top 4 seeds in the West are eliminated. No one could have drawn up that scenario.

The biggest shock for me was Calgary losing to Anaheim...nothing against the Ducks, but the Flames looked good even after stretching the series to 7 games. With the other top seeds out, the Flames had a golden opportunity and squandered it.

Here's a quick look at each series, complete with predictions from yours truly:

Ottawa vs. Buffalo - This will be far and away the most exciting second round matchup. Both teams can score in bunches and are fun to watch. I really, really want to pick the Sabres in this one, but the Senators are...oh what the hell, I'm picking the Sabres. In six. I must be nuts.

Carolina vs. New Jersey - In previous years, this matchup would have been a snoozer. But both the Canes and Devils have pretty good offenses. I like the Canes a lot, but Jersey is just too hot to go against, especially with Brodeur in net. Carolina can gain the advantage in this series by winning Game 1, just to break the Devils' ridiculous winning streak and to cast a shadow of doubt. If they drop the first two again like they did in Montreal, there won't be another comeback. So either the Canes in six, or the Devils in five. Everything hinges on the first two games.

Edmonton vs. San Jose - I must say, I am impressed with the Oilers. I didn't expect them to even challenge Detroit, who decided to revert to their usual we-absolutely-suck-in-the-playoffs form. I thought that schtick would be over with Babcock behind the bench, but evidently not. Of course I had three Red Wings in my office hockey pool, which pretty much ends my chances already. So I'm both bitter and grudgingly impressed at the same time. All this being said, the Sharks are my favourite team in the Western Conference, and I think they take this series. This team was scary even while they were floundering in 10th and 11th a few months back. I remember looking at the standings and at the team's recent record and thought: How are these guys not in the playoffs yet? What do they have to do? They kept up their torrid pace and finished 5th, to which I thought: That's better. San Jose has three huge performers in Thornton, Cheechoo and Marleau, and Edmonton won't be able to stop all three of them. Sharks in six.

Anaheim vs. Colorado - Two teams I didn't even think would make the playoffs are suddenly facing each other in the second round. Give credit to Anaheim for outdefending the best defensive team in the league in Calgary. The Avs meanwhile laid a whupping on Dallas, who looked listless and uninspired the whole series. I had no feelings for the Stars coming into the postseason, and I'm glad I don't have to waste time creating any. I'm gonna give this series to the Ducks, solely on the fact that they already beat a team vastly superior to Colorado in the first round. Six games oughta do it.

Early Stanley Cup matchup: San Jose vs. Buffalo. I would watch every minute of those finals.

One final playoff thought: take a look at the starting 8 goalies in the second round...there's one big name in the bunch, and that's Marty Brodeur. Theodore is a borderline big name, and then you've got Ray Emery, Ryan Miller, Cam Ward, Dwayne Roloson, Vesa Toskala, and Ilya Brzygalov. Every single one of these guys was an afterthought going into the season, except maybe Miller, who got hurt at the beginning anyway. In my fantasy hockey leagues I seriously devalued all but a handful of goalies, because nobody knew what the scoring was going to be like, or which goalies would adjust to the new rules and equipment. I figured a bunch of no-namers would come to the forefront, and unfortunately it took until the playoffs for that notion to be correct.

Oh well...second round, here we come.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Leafs vs. Pens

Well, at least it was a good game...even though it meant nothing. Of course I would have tickets to the last game of a non-playoff season...sigh.

Anyway, here are a few shots from the game...I have a lot of great ones (gotta love 10x zoom lenses)

Friday, April 14, 2006

A disturbing discovery.

I visited my folks' house this weekend, and instinctively picked up the sports section.

I rifled through it at a much faster rate than normal, and then it hit me: I knew about everything in it already.

Wow...my sports knowledge actually beats the morning paper now. Scary.

The Jays sit at 5-4 after taking the series from Boston...ah Boston, always good for a couple beatings. We own the Red Sox for whatever reason.

Next up is the World Series champion White Sox, and the debut of AJ Burnett. What am I looking for from him in this start? Coming out of it healthy. That's all I ask...he can get torched, I don't care. We need him and Halladay (who will be back next week) firing on all cylinders by the end of the month.

As for the Leafs...well, they've decided to play their best hockey of the year after every intelligent person wrote them off, maybe as a hockey-stick sized middle finger. I wouldn't have expected them to be 3 points out with three games remaining...but I'm still not getting on the bandwagon. I will attempt to regain a foothold on said wagon, however, if three things (and I mean all three things) occur:

1) Tampa Bay loses to Carolina tonight
2) We beat Ottawa on Saturday
3) The final game of the season against Pittsburgh (which I have tickets to) means something.

The first looks quite possible. The second not so much, although there hasn't been a better chance for it to happen, given Ottawa's recent struggles and the Leafs' sudden surge. The third obviously depends greatly on the first two...either way, it'll be a chance to see Sidney Crosby and there might be free stuff, since it's the last game of the season.

It'll be an exciting week for Toronto sports...and I won't need the paper to tell me that.

Friday, April 07, 2006

2-1...Jays looking good so far.

Aside from the 13-4 second-game debacle, the Jays are off to a good start.

The new guys look great...BJ Ryan got a huge ovation for almost every pitch on Tuesday. Glaus and Overbay have gone deep already. And Bengie Molina had a moonshot to left on Tuesday...wow. They were chanting his name after that.

The best part about winning on Opening Day: 50,000+ people were entertained and went home happy, with the thought of coming back. Couldn't have worked out any better for the Jays. And the Skywalk was JAMMED with people, cheering and chanting Let's Go Blue Jays. You'd have sworn it was October 1992 again.

There are a few not-so-good things, naturally. Like bad defense...four errors in the first two games is a little troublesome.

However, I'm not worried. Because baseball is the only major sport where defense does not win you championships. It helps, sure, but it's not what gets you there. Nobody could tell me that the 2004 Red Sox were a top defensive club. And there are no Detroit Pistons or Minnesota Wilds or Baltimore Ravens in baseball; teams that are defense-first simply don't exist. Pitching and defense will get you far, but the emphasis there is on pitching, not defense.

A more important concern for the Jays is the health of AJ Burnett and Ted Lilly. It looks like we've dodged two bullets so far, but I'm not convinced until they each make it through a couple of starts. Josh Towers is a decent pitcher, but as he showed on Wednesday, he is not a #2 guy.

Next up, a three game tilt with Tampa Bay...I expect nothing less than a 4-2 record headed into Boston on the 11th.

I will leave you with a final baseball-related thought, courtesy of the great Bill Simmons of ESPN:

I think the world is separated into two kinds of people -- people who loved "Field of Dreams," and people who don't have a heart.

Couldn't agree more, man. Welcome back, baseball...let's go Blue Jays.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Opening Day!

It's finally here...I can't friggin wait.

I'm heading to the park in about 2 hours to try and get tickets...it says sold out but having worked at the Dome I know that's BS.

They always hold tickets for gameday, and two Jays cronies confirmed that for me today.

Couple of funny baseball-related items from Opening Week:

-Someone in San Diego threw a syringe at Barry Bonds...genius.
-One of the Jays' promotions at the park this year is Gustavo Chacin Cologne Day. That's right, they're giving out bottles of cologne. Those marketing guys are wacky.

Fantasy Update: A barrage of home runs gave me the early lead in both my money fantasy leagues. Thank you to Albert Pujols, Scott Rolen, Chris Shelton, Adam Dunn, David Wright, and the rest. Keep it up, boys.

As for my pitchers, mixed results...kudos to Curt Schilling, Jake Peavy and Oliver Perez for solid outings. Special thanks to my relievers for the added bonus of saves and garbage-time wins...Billy Wagner, Scot Shields, and Francisco Rodriguez, you rule.

As for Derek Lowe, Carlos Zambrano, Scott Kazmir Jason Schmidt, Bartolo Colon...get it together, or you're dead to me.

Stories and pictures from Opening Day 2006 to come, hopefully.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Gamblor is rearing his ugly head.

Uh oh.

20 bucks for the baseball pool at work, 15 US bucks for a Yahoo money league...and yesterday I broke a 20 at work by buying a $5 Pro Line ticket (which I already lost, thanks Detroit for losing to the Blackhawks!)

I gotta be careful here.

But you know what, why shouldn't I be betting on sports? I'm more knowledgeable than the average guy, and I've learned so much more from working at The Score.

Winning free Yahoo leagues is fun and all, but for all the time and effort I put into it, I'd like to see something back, other than an online trophy and a little bit of pride.

As long as I can keep the betting under control (which, I'll admit, could be difficult), it shouldn't be a problem.

And it's bound to be somewhat lucrative...I bet on the five least-risky hockey teams on that ticket, and would have won 36 bucks; over 7 times what I put in.

So I'm not worried, much...*resisting urge to bet on George Mason*

Saturday, March 25, 2006

C'mon Leafs...give it up.

It's over, guys...quit teasing us.

Beating Carolina means nothing after laying two straight first-period eggs against Montreal (the team they had to beat twice to have a legit shot).

There is a glimmer of hope, however. I read this article and got excited: http://www.canada.com/nationalpost/news/sports/story.html?id=88fe637a-c56e-40aa-8301-4ffce4931d2b

Here's the gist of the article: the Leafs' plan for the future is to:
1) rebuild the team by developing young talent
2) jettison some veterans
3) not let the public know that's what they're doing

So basically they're doing what I've been saying they should do...they've just been keeping it quiet, fearing backlash from ignorant fans.

Well fear not, John Ferguson and MLSE...you're doing the right thing.

No matter how bad the team is, the Leafs will sell out every home game...so revenue is not an issue.

Quotes like these makes me feel so much better about the club's future.

Ferguson, to MLSE's board of governors 18 months ago: "Guys, we've got to be building talent, we can't just buy it anymore."

Anonymous MLSE source: "Everyone said this team was no more than a .500 team. Everyone knew this was a transition year and it was going to be painful. The club is now looking to build a solid franchise, not buy a championship at the last minute."

This means that come the 2006-2007, Quinn should be gone, Belfour should be gone, Domi and other veterans should be gone, and depending on how far they wanna go with this thing, Sundin might be gone too.

Paul Maurice will almost certainly be in as head coach, and the team will put the franchise in the hands of guys like Alex Steen, Kyle Wellwood and Mikael Tellqvist.

For years, young guys like Steen and Wellwood have never gotten the opportunity to contribute to a veteran-laden Leaf squad. They come to the big club and crack under the intense pressure put on them by and have been shipped out of town for more veterans. Now guys like Steve Sullivan, Brad Boyes, Alyn McCauley are all thriving on other teams, while the past-their-prime geezers like Owen Nolan are long gone.

It sounds like this trend is about to change, and I couldn't be happier.

So to all the Leaf homers out there...suck it up, it's going to get better, and more importantly, it's going to get done right.

Friday, March 24, 2006

It all comes crashing down...Duke and Gonzaga out.

Well, that pretty much seals it. Two of my final four out in one night...bollocks.

I'm sure there's weeping and gnashing of teeth at work tonight.

Anyway, I'll still pay attention because it's damn entertaining...and I didn't lose any cash, so it's all good.

The Jays already have their first major injury scare...and it's coming from the most likely source: A.J. Burnett.

Some scar tissue broke off in his elbow, which apparently feels just like a ligament tear...which must have given a heart attack to many a Jay (including A.J.).

We'll know by the weekend whether he's OK, but they're already preparing to not have him the first week of the season...we only need a fifth starter three times in April, so there's no sense in rushing a pitcher we have for 5 years and 50+ million.

I pray to the baseball gods that he's OK...we need him big time.

12 days till Opening Day!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

75% success rate = why didn't I bet on this thing?!?

Damn...I could have been sitting on quite the pile of money right now. You just know that I'll do it next year and lose big-time...that's the way this stuff works.

Anyway, I picked Northwestern to beat Iowa, which not many people did (including no one in my friendly pool...take that!) I got a couple more upsets right, including NC State over California and Bucknell over Arkansas.

Of course, I was not without blemishes...Kansas screwed me over in the Oakland bracket, which would have been perfect otherwise. I also blew two more in the Washington bracket, my worst bracket by far, with only 50% right (thanks a bunch UAB and Michigan State). However, a lot of people got screwed way worse than me by Iowa, Kansas and Michigan State...some folks had them going as far as the Final Four.

Therefore, with newfound yet relatively unearned confidence, I present to you my picks for Saturday:

Duke (already won), Syracuse (eliminated in the 1st round), UCLA, Gonzaga, Tennessee, Illinois, Florida, and Boston College (all still to come).

Let's see how the second round treats lil' ol' me.

Friday, March 17, 2006

11 out of 16 in the first round.

A 69% success rate my first go around...not too shabby. I aced the Oakland bracket (including upset Alabama over Marquette), got 3 out of 4 in the Atlanta bracket (Syracuse fucked me over for the next two rounds, had them making the Sweet 16) and split the Washington and Minneapolis brackets (thanks for nothing Utah, Seton Hall, Nevada and Oklahoma).

Gonzaga and Boston College gave me scares...having my two finalists nearly knocked out in the first round definitely makes me realize I have a long way to go with this thing.

Still, I'm satisfied so far, and I'm pleasantly surprised at how into it I am. Makes me regret not giving NCAA basketball a chance before...I won't make the same mistake again, it's great stuff.

Big big congratulations to Team Mexico for knocking the US out of the World Baseball Classic, and for pretty much ending the chances of there being another one. All you had to do was watch the games that involved Latin American or Asian teams, and then watch a USA game. The difference was striking: you could even see it on the players' faces; the Americans just didn't care. They treated these games like spring training, whereas the other nations were playing with passion and pride.

The Cuba/Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic/Venezuela games were outstanding...and at least Canada played some exciting games. The Americans were boring by comparison. If you throw away the 17-0 shellacking of South Africa, Team USA scored a measly 16 runs in 5 games...that's an average of just over 3 runs a game. That's pathetic, given their lineup. I wonder if Roger Clemens will retire now...not the way he envisioned going out I'm sure.

This tournament also confirmed that Buck Martinez is one of the worst managers in history. Seriously, this guy could coach the Harlem Globetrotters, and they would come out and lose to the Generals.

Stick with the broadcast booth, Buck...that's your bread and butter.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Catching March madness for the first time.

Hoo boy. Talk about in way over my head, outta my league and with very little idea what's going on.

Thanks to my wonderful job at The Score, I'm getting exposed to sports I knew very little about before, and US college basketball is one of them.

I'll admit I had no idea why college hoops was so popular before, but I sure do now. Man are those games competitive.

As for being knowledgeable enough to enter a pool, forget about it. I'm doing a free Yahoo thing with some friends this year to get a taste, and then maybe I'll go money next season.

As for my picks, if you want them (why you would, I don't know) are as follows: Duke, Gonzaga, UConn and Boston College in the Final Four...and just to emphasize my inexperience, I'm picking the two would-be massive underdogs Gonzaga and BC in the finals, with the Zags winning it all.

What can I say? I'm a sucker for mustached white guys and teams with cool names. Go Gonzaga!

Nintendo All-Star Fantasy Baseball Team

YES. This is great.


Thursday, March 09, 2006

Miracle on Grass.

Congrats to Team Canada for beating the US in the WBC. They ended up just hanging on, but I was watching it when it was 8-0, thinking: "Jesus Christ, we are up 8-0! What the hell is happening?"

Way to go, Team USA...you just got beat by Adam Loewen and Adam Stern, two guys who likely won't be in the big leagues this season. Ouch.

What sucks for Canada, however, is that they may not even make it to the next round, thanks to the WBC's retarded tiebreaker: runs allowed. Not runs scored, but runs allowed.

So if Canada doesn't beat Mexico later today, they can only allow a couple of runs or they'll be eliminated.

Runs scored makes sense...run differential even more so...but runs allowed? That's just wacky...I've never heard of anybody using how many runs or goals or points you allow as a tiebreaker.

In about three hours, the NHL trade deadline will have come and gone. As of this posting, not many major moves have been made...mostly defencemen for draft picks.

One intriguing move was Montreal trading Jose Theodore to Colorado for David Aebischer. The Avs must be hoping he's the next Patrick Roy...there are some similarities I guess; both were having their worst years as Canadiens, both have won Vezina trophies...one big difference is that Jose Theodore is not, and never will be, Patrick Roy. Early advantage goes to Montreal, as they now have two hot goalies in Aebischer and Cristobal Huet. The Habs should sew up the 8th spot at least.

As for the Leafs? They traded Ken Klee to New Jersey...and then got Luke Richardson. So those two moves pretty much cancel each other out: one slow old D-man for another.

Oh how I wish they had lost that game to Montreal on Tuesday. Fucking Leafs...they lose games they're supposed to win, and win games they're supposed to lose.

So much for seeing a different Toronto team come next season, or even this season...now they have delusions of making the playoffs, and won't jettison the dead weight on their roster...instead they'll likely add even more dead weight, aka. "veterans" in the hopes of making a run.

I suppose there's still time for moves to be made, but I'm so off the bandwagon now that anything less than trading for the future will be a disappointment.

I bet they fire Quinn and/or Ferguson right after the season's over, start over with a new face (Paul Maurice) and then rebuild the club.

At this point, I'd be satisfied with that.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The World Baseball Classic, or "Please Lord, don't get injured..."

Watching my first WBC game as I write this...the Dominican Republic vs. Venezuela.

It's been a great game, but the Dominicans are blowing it open in the top of the 9th.

This clearly means a lot more to the Latin teams than other teams; the fans are going crazy with every play, running around in the stands and jumping on the railings.

Something tells me we won't be seeing that for Canada and Mexico, or Italy and Australia.

A lot of players will be treating this like spring training, and so a few games might be going at a 60-70% clip. Their teams are holding their breath hoping none of their stars get injured.

Even though this tournament is designed so that the Americans make it to at least the final four, it would be nice to see an upset, a la Argentina in basketball.

Unfortunately an early US exit would likely sound the death knell for the WBC after just one go-around...this tournament needs American interest to be sustainable, which is a shame.

This is truly the "World Series" of baseball...we'll see if it lasts.

Monday, March 06, 2006

R.I.P Kirby Puckett

He will be missed...one of the last true franchise players.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Lost in the shuffle of Torino: softball.

The IOC has eliminated softball in 2012. You probably didn't hear about it because they announced it during these Winter Games; the story garnered one line on our ticker. The reasoning behind the move seems to be that the Americans have dominated the sport, and there is no competition.

I'll agree that the timing of the announcement to axe softball was carefully placed, so as to avoid media coverage.

But the argument for axing softball because the Americans keep winning is a fair one. Take women's hockey. Many people are saying that women's hockey shouldn't have been at the Olympics until 2010. Why? For the same reasons they're axing softball: a lack of competitive balance.

Watch women's hockey. I mean, really watch it. It is, for lack of a better word, brutal. The US-Sweden semifinals game was easily the worst display of hockey I have ever seen. More than half of the attempted passes never made it to their intended targets. It's not from a lack of effort, it's from a lack of ability. The Americans lost for two reasons: they played maybe the worst game they've played all year, and they ran into a hot goaltender. They have a lot in common with the Canadian men's team, now that I think about it.

Al Strachan at the Sun thinks a team of 15 year old boys could beat the Canadian women's Olympic team. I disagree with that particular matchup, as Canada's team is clearly the class of the sport. As for the other national teams (save the United States), those 15 year olds would beat their brains out. These nations need the time to develop their programs and field competitive squads. I don't pretend to be an expert on women's softball, but if the American dominance is as pronounced as people say, then I must infer the situation for other nations is similar.

And keep in mind that it took decades for the rest of the world to catch up in men's hockey. Canada, the United States, and Russia won every gold medal save one from 1924 to 1994.

The fact is that the rest of the world has simply not caught up to the Canadians and Americans in women's hockey. Women's hockey and softball will get better, no question about it; but putting a sport where only two teams are competitive into the Olympics is simply unreasonable.

And that's why softball is getting thrown out at the plate.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Well, we lost.

Given the way they played, I can't say I'm surprised.

They didn't adapt to the international style of play, and continued to play spaced out and take stupid penalties. The bigger rink and defensive-minded European squads was too much.

Don Cherry did some post-game stuff, his usual schtick (which is usually right)...and then Brian Williams asked Cherry who he thought would win between the Finns and Russians, and the Czechs and Swedes.

Cherry looked at him square in the eyes and said: "I don't care," with a shrug.

Williams then asked, "Well, are you going to care by Friday?" Because apparently Cherry is supposed to do first-intermission and post-game stuff for the semis, I assume since Canada was supposed to be in them.

Cherry looked at Williams again, turned to the camera and softly said, "Nope."

Gotta love that Cherry.

Bill Simmons

If you haven't heard of this dude before, make yourself acquainted. He is the wittiest sportswriter in the business (besides me, of course).

Here's his recap of the NBA All-Star Weekend...it's brilliant.


Congrats to the women's hockey team for getting the job done. The men's team faces Russia later today...if they play they way they're capable of, they'll win. But with guys like Kovalchuk, Ovechkin and Malkin, Russia will make them pay for any mistakes or uninspired play. Should be a good game.

Is there anything less interesting than hearing curlers discuss their strategy? Whose brilliant idea was it to mic these guys up? It's totally unintelligable...viewers need a Curling-to-English dictionary.

I'm thinking that the second the Olympics are over, I will catch full-blown baseball fever.

It will infect me, and I will embrace the sickness.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Wow...that was a great slam-dunk competition.

I haven't watched it since Vince's last one, but I happened to be at work.

Gotta love little Nate Robinson...modestly listed at 5'9", he jumped over fellow little guy and former dunk champ Spud Webb...that was incredible.

Andre Iguodala deserved to win, though...his behind the backboard dunk was unreal...and the behind-the-back was also stellar.

Definitely the best one since Vince.

People are shocked about Canada losing to the Swiss...this proves is that in a short tournament, a hot goalie can carry you far. Kudos to the Swiss...stop freaking out everybody, we'll still be there at the end.

And Jose Theodore's worst year ever continues...he slipped on frozen stairs at home and broke a bone in his heel...out 6-8 weeks. Jeez...I can't think of a worse year for a goalie to have.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Heh...well shut my mouth.

Eight medals since my rant there...looks like I lit a fire under Team Canada's ass.

We're about halfway through the competition now...with two hockey medals in the bag, and a few other good chances in bobsled, skiing, speed skating and elsewhere, this might be a good Olympics for Canada after all.

Though I stick by what I said...it won't matter the day after they're over.

The Olympics are good for something, though...and that's watching enemy players go down...Hasek = hurt, Ottawa = fucked...thank you very much!

And seeing the reports from Spring Training in Dunedin is driving me crazy...I did my fantasy rankings just to do something baseball related. I'm psyched already.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Medal count is at a whopping...three. Way to go Canada.

One of each colour...yippee. As usual, our overhyped athletes choke.

It's unfortunate that no one realizes how little the Olympics matter until they're over. All that money that goes to amateur athletes benefits...um, amateur athletes. Whereas our tax dollars are (supposed to, at least) benefit all of us.

Just because I'm a sports fan doesn't mean I can't identify what a solid investment is. Athletes bitch and whine about how little support they receive...well, rarely do they deliver on the expected medal haul, so that shouldn't be a surprise.

The bottom line is if a Canadian athlete wins a gold medal in moguls, or a silver in skiing, or a bronze in speed skating, it doesn't affect me at all. Nationalism or patriotism aside, it's just a poor investment.

Now you might say, hold on a second...by that logic, if the Blue Jays win the World Series this year, that shouldn't affect me either. You'd be wrong. There's incentive for me to spend money to help the Jays. First off, I get to actually watch them play...not many people can afford to travel to Torino or whereever to follow the athletes. It also stimulates the city's economy, during a time of the year when no other major sports are going on. And maybe most importantly, money spent at the ballpark increases their revenues, which in turn results in a better on field product.

At this point, you're probably furious. If you spend more money on Olympic athletes, wouldn't that result in a better product from them? Not necessarily, and that's the key difference between amateur and professional athletes.

Generally, if you spend millions of dollars on a professional athlete, you pretty much know what you're going to get: at the very least, a serviceable player that can help your team win a game. But with an amateur athlete, you're expecting nothing less than a medal, fairly or unfairly. And because of the level of competition, that's highly unlikely, no matter how skilled the ahtlete may or may not be. How many of our athletes were "projected" to have won a medal by now? Certainly more than three. And why spend money on an athlete with absolutely no chance of winning a medal? So that he or she can have a personal best? Big whoop. There's no incentive there. At the end of the day, it's all about winning, and if you aren't going to win, you ain't getting squat.

Call me unpatriotic if you want, but know this: when I buy Blue Jays tickets, I know that my money is going towards making the team better in some capacity. If I buy a lottery ticket with the proceeds going to Canadian amateur athletes, I may get absolutely nothing in return.

And that's the definition of a bad investment.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Tocchet and Gretzky and Theodore, oh my!

Shit's getting crazy!

First Rick Tocchet gets implicated in this gambling ring thing, then Wayne fucking Gretzky!

Wow. Wiretapped conversations and everything...Jesus.

There's a lot of stuff being said without being proven, so I'm waiting for this to all shake down. Still, another black eye that hockey really doesn't need at this point.

And how about Jose Theodore testing positive for a banned substance? As if it couldn't get any worse for him...damn.

Crazy times in the world of hockey...and the Olympics start tomorrow...um, go Canada?!

Monday, February 06, 2006

Move over, Gregg Zaun.

The Jays have a new catcher in town: Bengie Molina.

Another solid bat for a pretty sweet looking offense...he'll slide in nicely at the 7 spot.

Bengie also lights up left-handed pitching to the tune of .395, the best in the AL last year. Zaun struggled against lefties big-time...I doubt they'll platoon, but this move definitely improves our squad. We have depth on our team for the first time in a while. Real depth, not Frank Menechino depth.

I feel bad for Zaun (especially since we just did an interview with him about how excited he was for 2006 and that he was ready to be better than ever) but he's a team guy and I'm sure things will work out.

More excited than ever for the start o' the season...and FYI, my fantasy baseball team name this year is...

The Garth Iorgasms.

If you get it, good for you...you are a true Jays fan.

Working Super Bowl Sunday.

Not a huge deal really...the game was pretty good, I just wasn't all that interested.

Congrats to the Steelers...good to see some classy guys get a ring...Jerome Bettis, Bill Cowher, Hines Ward...yay.

Football is over, and with the Leafs and Raptors tanking, you know what that means...time to start getting ready for BASEBALL!!!

Must avoid the temptation to start fantasy leagues before spring training starts...we'll see how that goes.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Wow...Carolina is scary good.

The Canes just picked up Doug Weight, giving them three top centers along with Staal and Brind'Amour.

They're already tops in the whole NHL, and getting a guy of Weight's, um, weight, makes them a Cup favourite.

I almost don't want the Leafs to sneak in at the eighth spot, just to avoid the embarrassment of being destroyed by these guys. They ain't the same team we should have beat in 2002.

And in the "Holy Shit" category, Darryl Sydor needed SEVENTY stitches to close a severe facial laceration near his kisser from Saturday's game.

I hope he has a wife, and a pre-nup, because he is going to be one ugly motherfucker for a while...not to mention a little loopy from a likely concussion.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Jason Allison to the minors?

I've been hearing this rumour being kicked around lately...here are my thoughts on it: it's stupid.

The guy has been playing well all year...he's second on the team in scoring, and this from a guy who hasn't played hockey in over two years.

If you haven't heard, his contract pays him $222,222 for every five games he plays over 35, so long as he maintains a .65 points-per-game scoring average.

He's easily surpassed the games and scoring average requirements...and because he's playing well, they wanna ship him to the AHL.

This is the kind of backwards logic that makes me crazy. The whole team is playing like shit, and let's demote the guy who's playing half-decent, because he's too expensive! Wow.

If we were really interested in clearing cap space and making a run mid-season, why did we pay a million plus to dead weight like Tie Domi and Aki Berg? OK, so that's hindsight, fine...then how about we look at a guy who's making almost 7 million, and has a paltry 10 goals in 38 games?

That's right...Mats Sundin. Why don't we trade him? We could get a ton of good players for that amount of money.

Oh, but you say, Sundin was hurt, and is behind the curve...well guess what? He chose NOT to play during the lockout, and that's cost him just as much as the eye injury. Jason Allison was out of hockey for a full year longer than Sundin, and he's doing about as well...for about 5 million dollars less.

I'm not advocating trading Sundin or Allison...this season is pretty much a writeoff, and I didn't expect this team to get past the first round of the playoffs anyway.

Bottom line: paying Jason Allison for playing well is the least of our worries. If 2 million bucks is breaking our bank, then the front office is stupid for putting themselves in that situation, given the tenuous health of, like, half the team.

The Leafs need to face reality, bite the bullet and ride this season out...if they miss the playoffs, fine. Let's remember that the salary cap is likely going up next season, so it'd be foolish to panic when there might be relief up ahead. Rework the team in the offseason, jettison the overpriced guys, and have a competitive team for 2006-2007.

I know this must be scary for Leaf fans...but let's actually "rebuild" for once; it's not a dirty word.

Crap. I jinxed them.

I bought my first Leafs jersey on January 1st. Since then the Leafs are 2 and 9.

I'm sorry! I didn't mean to! I just wanted the sweet-looking third jersey! Damn your sexy jerseyness!

8 in a row!

Eeeeeeeeeeee...this is getting ridiculous.

What's the answer? Firing Quinn? Trading Sundin?

How about bitch-slapping the players who take stupid penalties?

In another the-NBA-is-fucking-retarded move, Chris Andersen was banned from the NBA for testing positive for an "abuse drug", ie. cocaine, heroin, etc.

Fun fact: The same result can be achieved after testing positive for steroids four times. FOUR TIMES.

This means that you could be roiding it up your whole career and get caught four times, or do one line of coke and get the same penalty...unbelievable.

It's the Ross Rebagliatti marijuana thing all over again. Those drugs don't enhance performance (if anything they hinder it), and yet they are given the same weight as steroids.

Andersen was a character, but also a great teammate, and it shocks a New Orleans team that's already dealt with a lot of adversity this season. And he can't even apply for reinstatement for two years, and there's no guarantee he'd get back in.

Chances are his career is over, and it's sad. Professional athletes everywhere are cheating every day with steroids and stimulants and whatever else they can get to give them an illegal edge...and Chris Andersen does a recreational drug that has nothing to do with his on-court performace, and he's out of the league.

Fucking. Retarded.

Friday, January 27, 2006

The Mighty Ducks will no longer be mighty.


Somewhere in a dark alley, Emilio Estevez is sobbing uncontrollably at the loss of the last breath of his career.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Two blowouts = mediocre football weekend.

Both games weren't even close by the half...didn't make for exciting football.

But congrats to Jerome Bettis and the Steelers for getting to the Super Bowl, and to the Seahawks for their first trip in franchise history.

Say it with me now: The Leafs are in ninth place in the conference. And you know what? They deserve it...these blowout losses to Ottawa are pathetic.

There's a lot more weight on that off-the-bandwagon foot...and the other foot is getting itchy.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The NBA gets another black eye.

Antonio Davis got suspended five games for going into the stands last week.

When you put it like that, it seems like AD didn't get enough. But I say he shouldn't have been suspended at all.

He rushed into the Chicago crowd because he thought his wife was being assaulted.

But thanks to Ron Artest and that band of idiots in Auburn Hills last year, he gets suspended just for entering the stands, even though it was for a good reason.

It turned out that it was just a misunderstanding, but you can't fault Davis for fearing the worst when it comes to the people he cares about the most.

Whenever I hear the term "zero-tolerance" in any kind of ruling, I get nervous, and usually with good reason. Why we can't treat situations like this on a case-by-case basis is beyond me. Seems to me that "zero-tolerance" is another way of saying: "We're too lazy to think."

Let me ask Stu Jackson, David Stern, and every member of the NBA league office: wouldn't you have done exactly the same thing if you thought your wife was in trouble? Damn right you would, if you were any kind of a man.

It's rare, but in this case, quotes from the athletes themselves are the most poignant:

Knicks guard
Jamal Crawford: "His wife and kids were up there. If you see your family in harm's way, you're going to go protect them. You're the man of the house, and at that point you're thinking like a regular human instead of an athlete."

Knicks coach Larry Brown: "That thing that happened in the stands had nothing to do with the two teams. That's a man concerned about his family."

Davis: "I witnessed my wife being threatened by a man that I learned later to be intoxicated. I saw him touch her, and I know I should not have acted the way I did, but I would have felt terrible if I didn't react. There was no time to call security. It happened too quickly."

In a league full of wannabe gangsters who refuse to practice or wear a shirt and tie to work, the guy who stands up for his family gets suspended. Shame on you, NBA.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

All is not well in Leafland.

We've lost 3 in a row (possibly four, down 4-2 to Minnesota in the third), Lindros is hurt bad, Tucker is hurt bad, McCabe is possibly hurt bad, and Belfour is stinking it up.

The Leafs are only two points away from being 9th in the conference...is it time to panic? Maybe.

What's worse is that this year we have very little room to make trade deadline moves, being so close to the cap.

But unfortunately, management has delusions of winning the Cup, so they won't do the things necessary to make the team viable for the future (ie. making Tellqvist #1, trading for young defensemen, etc).

Unless we magically get healthy come playoff time, this is a one-and-done team. Ottawa, Philadelphia, and Carolina are far superior clubs, and I doubt we'd make it past Buffalo or the Rangers at this point.

You can call this me taking one foot off the bandwagon, and kinda letting it drag on the road...and if things don't get better, I might start putting some weight on that foot.

Monday, January 16, 2006


Only got two this time...and 50 points in the Carolina/Chicago game ain't a defensive battle, though I was right about Steve Smith...anyway.

I'm excited for the Carolina/Seattle matchup...I am officially backing the Panthers as my Super Bowl pick. I'm not as excited about Denver/Pittsburgh...don't really care about either of those teams, and having Indy and New England out of the running kinda takes the steam out of things. Those teams had stories behind them...the other two, not so much.

So go Panthers!

Monday, January 09, 2006

Well, 3 out of 4 ain't bad.

My predictions were pretty good...might have been perfect if Carson Palmer didn't tear his ACL and MCL on the first pass of the game...poor kid. You hate to see that happen, and it's nice to see remorse from the guy who did it...shows there's still some class and a sense of community amongst professional athletes. They're not all me-me-me guys. Hopefully Palmer comes back strong, because he was arguably the best QB in the NFL this season.

There's a lot of controversy as to who would have won if Palmer was healthy...and the answer is, who knows? The Steelers put up 31 points, and that had nothing to do with Palmer, but then there's that pesky momentum X-factor. Much like in the Canada-Russia gold medal game when the Russians scored but the ref missed it. That goal would have made the score 2-1, and possibly changed the complexion of the game. But, it didn't, so we'll never know. Why is everyone so obsessed about what might have been? It's another example of society's intense desire to play God; to control the uncontrollable, and to know the unknowable. We've got referees, computers, video instant replay, and a jillion camera angles...just let it go, people, and accept the fact that sometimes we fuck up.

On that note, some predictions for the next round:
Seattle beats Washington and avoids the overrated label for another week
New England squeaks by Denver in a typical Patriots last-minute field goal type fashion
Indianapolis soundly defeats Pittsburgh
Carolina defeats Chicago in a defensive battle decided by one big offensive play (likely from Steve Smith)

And RIP to Betty Hockin, the grandmother of Wayne Gretzky. Tough times for the Gretzky family, just three weeks after his mother died...best wishes to Wayne & family.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Some more stuff for today.

Mikael Tellqvist. WOW. Anybody who says he shouldn't be the #1 goalie for the Leafs after Belfour retires better have watched tonight's game, because he was amazing.

I'm not sure why people don't think he's capable of starting...he's perfect for the Leafs' style of play, which in case you need a refresher course, is as follows:

1) Don't play defense.
2) Goalie stands on his head.
3) If #2 is happening, increase #1.

If Eddie calls it a career, I'm backing Tellqvist...unless they can snag Roberto Luongo or something.

And also, please kill Joe Theismann. PLEASE! He is the worst fucking football announcer on the planet. At least John Madden is unintentionally hilarious...Theismann is just a goddamn idiot.

In today's Skins-Bucks game, Redskins safety Sean Taylor got thrown out of the game. They showed on the replay that Buccaneers running back Michael Pittman whacked Taylor in the helmet, and Taylor got penalized. Theismann says, over and over, "That's a terrible call, that's just a bad call, ridiculous", blah blah blah. It was later revealed that Taylor spit at Pittman, and that's why the ref tossed him. Without flinching, Theismann goes, "Well he deserved to get tossed then." AAAUGH! The ref knows better than you, jackass! He's on the field, and you're orbiting Uranus (heh). Especially after he just sung the praises of the refereeing staff as being the best in the NFL. He is so infuriatingly stupid and is almost always completely wrong. The only time he's right is when he states the absolute obvious, like "That was a big hit" or, "They need to get him the ball so that he can make plays."

He also starts every comment he makes with either, "We talked to so-and-so" or "You talk about so-and-so". It's like those two qualifiers kick in his commentating auto-pilot, and then he blathers on about shit that either has nothing to do with the play, or describes exactly what just happened on the play, as if we weren't just fucking watching it.

Can we pay the dude that ended Theismann's playing career to end his commentating career as well? Because that would be super.

Even better...what's Terry Tate up to these days?

Ah, Hockey Day in Canada...

All 6 Canadian teams playing each other...doesn't get much better than that.

Although it brings to mind one major problem I have with the new NHL: the terrible, terrible schedule.

The Leafs are on the Western Canada road trip right now...Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver...they don't go back until 2008. What the hell is that about? You'd think it'd be a no-brainer that they'd be there every year. And we don't play Detroit or Chicago at all this season. That is just plain wrong. Original Six teams have to play each other. Instead we play the likes of Minnesota and Anaheim. That simply won't do.

And I think they're going a bit overboard with the new rivalries...Vancouver played Colorado three times in I think 5 days...all in Denver. That's just stupid...and don't tell me it's got nothing to do with the Todd Bertuzzi/Steve Moore incident. There's manufacturing rivalries, and then there's just overkill. After the Leafs resume their, um, heated feud with the Wild *cough* on January 18, they don't play a single game against the Western Conference for the rest of the year...sheesh, let's get some balance for Christ's sake.

I can understand building new rivalries and such, but that shouldn't come at the expense of killing old ones. Just because it's the "new" NHL doesn't mean that previous seasons' traditions should be overlooked.

For those of you who care, here are my NFL playoff predictions for this weekend: Washington over Tampa Bay, New England over Jacksonville, Cincinnati over Pittsburgh, and Carolina over the Giants.

And thanks to Corey Koskie for the half-year of subpar, injury-riddled baseball. You were the odd man out, and you quickly found out that just being Canadian doesn't give you the benefit of the doubt. Just ask Paul Quantrill, Paul Spoljaric, or Rob Ducey. Have fun in Milwaukee, if you can find any.

Enjoy the hockey and football.