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'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 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, 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 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, 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 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.