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:

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're doing the right thing.

No matter how bad the team is, the Leafs will sell out every home 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 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 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 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 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 of the last true franchise players.