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Friday, February 29, 2008

Outside Looking In

Now that the trade deadline has come and gone, it's time to take a look at the teams battling for the final playoff spots in both conferences and see who has the best shot of getting in and who's going to be playing golf early.

Eastern Conference

#8 Philadelphia Flyers 71 Points

As of right now with tonight's win over the Ottawa Senators, the Flyers are back in the playoffs as the 8-seed. If the Flyers can tread water until guys like Mike Richards and Joffrey Lupul come back from injuries they should be able to sneak in and maybe even get the 7-seed.

They have proven that they can be a competitive team with their play prior to the last 12 games when all the injuries happened and could be a dangerous team in the playoffs.

#9 Buffalo Sabres 71 Points

I don't see how Buffalo gets into the playoffs now. Trading away top defenseman Brian Campbell is going to take its toll sooner than you'd think.

Think of it this way, you're at a bar. You see this smoking hot woman sitting three stools down from you. Your buddy leans over and convinces you to go for it. You take a deep breath and get up from your stool and begin the walk across No Man's Land. As you're about to introduce yourself you trip on some bar nuts and dump your drink all over her, thus killing your chances and leaving you humiliated and settling for a dirty movie later on.

The Sabres just might have been able to make the playoffs before the Campbell trade, but there was no way they were making a deep run so they'll have to wait until next season to get up the nerve to approach another hot woman.

#10 New York Islanders 69 Points

Can there possibly be a more inconsistent team in the league than the Islanders? A couple weeks ago they were floundering like a fish out of water and putting their entire fan base on suicide watch.

Now all of a sudden they're 7-2-1 in their last 10 games and just two points out of a playoff spot. Depending on which team shows up down the stretch and potentially the playoffs, they could make things interesting or help out the teams ahead of them in the standings.

#11 Washington Capitals 66 Points

Two words will suffice here. No Chance.

They made some great deals at the deadline, namely getting Cristobal Huet, but it might be a little too late for them to make a push. The only way they get in is if Carolina takes off the rest of the season and plays like they are trying to hit a wiffle ball in a tornado.

Western Conference

#7 Vancouver Canucks 73 Points

If there is a team that could potentially fall out of the top eight, it's them. This team needed to go out and get a scorer at the deadline and could only get Matt Petinger? Are you kidding me?

With the amount of defensive talent that the Canucks have, they should have been able to land Olli Jokinen or Vinny Prospal.

Roberto Luongo is completely capable of putting a team on his back and carrying them to the promised land, but a long cup run is a pretty steep endeavor.

#8 Colorado Avalanche 72 Points

There is no way this team doesn't make the playoffs. They've basically re-assembled the Stanley Cup Champion team from 2000-2001. The only key players missing are Alex Tanguay, Ray Bourque and the greatest goalie of all-time Patrick Roy.

I'd be willing to bet Roy still has some game left in him and if I could persuade him to come back and was coach of the team I'd go with him in a second of Jose Theodore and Peter Budaj at this point.

If the Avs go on to win the cup this year, watch for more teams to go out and get players of old to re-claim glory.

Side note: You know how ESPN and other sporting outlets do those "Which team would win? The 1992 Pittsburgh Penguins or the 2007 Penguins?" What the Avs are doing right now is about as close to the real thing as we will ever see.

#9 Nashville Predators 72 Points

The only way this team gets in is if Luongo can't get the Canucks in on his own. Yes they're tied right now, but with a 4-4-2 record over their last 10 games, this could be the slump that sinks this ship.

#10 Phoenix Coyotes 71 Points

The Fighting Gretzkys have a fighting chance to make the playoffs and annoy us all with another "White Out in the Desert." (If you don't get that reference go back and watch tape from their last playoff run and here's some advice: wear sunglasses to save your eyes from the glare.)

What is going to help them is getting Al Montoya at the trade deadline from the Rangers. (Nice move NY, if Hank goes down, so does any chance you have of winning the cup this year.) Wayne has actually done a good job with this team this year and with a little luck they may just sneak in as the 8-seed.

I don't see a long playoff run, but within a couple years they could be a very dangerous team.

Take these with a grain of salt obviously as some of my recent predictions haven't panned out so well, but you got to get back up on the horse even after he kicks you in the head and then stomps on your manhood.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

NHL Trade Deadline Madness

After yesterday's mad scramble of wheeling and dealing, I am motioning that NHL trade deadline day become a national holiday. How am I supposed to go to work after seeing my Penguins make the biggest trade of the day and land Marian Hossa?

Anyway here's a look at some of the more notable deals from yesterday's trade deadline.

Rangers Receive: G David LeNeveu, F Fredrik Sjostrom, F Josh Gratton, Conditional draft pick For: G Al Montoya, F Marcel Hossa

This trade had be scratching my head and then wiping away tears from laughing so hard. The Rangers have been so high and mighty on Al Montoya since they drafted him and now they trade him for David LeNeveu?

Montoya is going to be a stud in the league within 3 years. Scratch that. Montoya would have been a stud in the league within 3 years had he not been traded to Phoenix.

This deal showed up just minutes after the Rangers acquired Christian Backman from the Blues. I was talking to Gopher as the deadline approached and he has this to say about getting Backman.

Gopher: "I like the deal, our defense sucks."

Me: "True, (laughing) but why would you trade Montoya?"

Gopher: (The true profanity whipping around the room is not allowed to be published here, so we're gonna go with "I'm not a happy Gopher")

Stars Receive: F Brad Richards, G Johan Holmqvist For: C Jeff Halpern, F Jussi Jokinen, G Mike Smith, 2009 fourth-round pick

I really thought that this was going to be the only big deal of the day before the Hossa trade. I like this trade from both sides. Brad Richards has shown he's still capable of being a solid player and should fit in just fine in Dallas.

Johan Holmqvist was obviously not the answer in Tampa, which has no goaltending at all until now. I was surprised to see Mike Smith be dealt away due to the fact that before this season there were rumors flying that the Stars were looking to trade Marty Turco and give Smith his due time in goal. If I'm a fantasy owner with some weak goaltending and felt like taking a flier right now before the league playoffs, I'd grab Smith in a second.

Jussi Jokinen wouldn't be a bad pick-up either depending on what line he ends up on. If he replaces newly departed Vinny Prospal, Jokinen could be a big sleeper pick, especially for power play time.

Capitals Receive G Cristobal Huet For Second-round pick

Here's what went through my head as soon as this was announced.

"Are you %#$&ing kidding me?!!"

The Caps made out like bandits in this trade. As an organization, they just told their 12 fans that they plan on making a push for the playoffs and being good for years to come.

This makes no sense from the Canadiens side of things. 20-year-old Carey Price is not ready to be the #1 goalie in Montreal. I've had this guy on 4 separate occasions this season in my fantasy league. He's inconsistent, but you know why? CAUSE HE'S 20!

I think Bob Gainey screwed the pooch on deadline day in such a way that isn't fathomable. With all the rumors flying around that Hossa was going to the Habs or Senators, I think Gainey bought into the hype and forgot to make a solid offer to get Hossa and include Johan "Moose" Hedberg.

Somthing had to have fallen apart for Gainey yesterday. Why else would you trade Huet who has been great all season and not get another goalie to come back? Habs fans don't seem too happy over this and I don't blame you.

Sharks Receive: D Brian Campbell, 2008 seventh-round pick For: F Steve Bernier, 2008 first-round pick

This should pretty much keep Sabres fans away from the arena until next season. It's a good trade in that at least the Sabres got something for a high priced player they couldn't sign. Think back to last summer when as soon as the UFA market opened, Chris Drury and Daniel Briere went running like they stole something.

Bernier should fit in well in Buffalo, but anyone who has Ryan Miller (Gopher) has go to be a little nervous about how his numbers will be for the rest of the season without his top d-man in front of him.

Campbell gives the sharks another weapon on the powerplay and at even strength. He can move the puck well and could be the trigger man on the man advantage. San Jose should be able to sign him this off-season and keep him in California for years to come.

Now on to the biggest splash of the day, the one you've all been waiting for:

Penguins Receive: F Marian Hossa, F Pascal Dupuis For: F Erik Christensen, F Colby Armstrong, C Angelo Esposito, 2008 first-round pick

Not even I saw this deal coming. At no point leading up to the deadline did I hear anything about the Pens being a player in the Hossa sweepstakes and then BOOM! we land him.

This was a tough pill to swallow at first from a fans perspective because I like Colby and Erik a bunch. Colby was a solid gritty player who gets under opponent's skin and Erik has one of the quickest releases in the league. The reason nobody knows that much about Christensen is because he played on the same team as Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jordan Staal, Marc-Andre Fleury etc.

Christensen will fit in well and will have a familiar face to help him along in Mark Recchi.

Now onto how this helps the Pens.

As if I need to say this. Here's how it helps. IT'S MARIAN HOSSA! Hope that makes it clear. But seriously, with how well the newly formed line of Malkin, Ryan Malone and Peter Sykora have been without Crosby, I don't see how you can break them up when he does come back.

Malkin is a natural center and has flourished since Sid went down and has now taken over the scoring lead in the NHL. While Crosby is clearly the best player in the world, you need to give him another scoring threat to play with.

I was thinking they'd go get Vinny Prospal and wouldn't have to give up a whole lot to get him, but this is just nuts.

Now that they have Hossa, when Crosby gets back you put them together. Crosby may be back by as early as next week. Gary Roberts may miss the rest of the season, but time will tell.

The Pens have enough young talent right now where losing Colby and Erik isn't as damaging as one might think. They've had half of their AHL team up this season are currently 1 point behind the Devils for the top spot in the Easter Conference. The problem is lack of playoff experience, but still the kids have proven they can play and win.

What remains to be seen is how and if the Pens can sign Hossa long-term and retain Malkin and Staal without killing their cap. I don't think this was a nervous move by Ray Shero at all. If we can't sign him, I could see a sign and trade move coming so we have something to show for this steep price other than just Dupuis. If we can't sign him, the Pens will make a big splash in the free agent market this summer, but for the time being sit back and enjoy the times when Hossa, Sid and Malkin will be on the ice together.

Not to mention if you have Hossa in your league (Gopher) despite seeing your whole team traded and screwed, you ran a lap around your living room when you saw this deal.

The Pens also acquired Hal Gill from the Maple Leafs and I absolutely hate this deal. Yes, Gill is a big boy and will block a lot of shots. However, he is slower than molasses running uphill and for a team built on speed this makes no sense to me.

He's a big body and the Pens need a big body on the blue line, but I really don't like this deal at all.

Anyway, I think the Stars, Penguins and Capitals were the big winners on deadline day while the Canadiens take the trophy for worst team of the day. Time will tell how these deals pan out, but in any event yesterday was a very exciting day to be a hockey fan.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Potential Trade Frenzy

This is going to be relatively short, but here's a list of 5 big names in the NHL who are the subject of trade rumors. This is where I feel these players will end up by tomorrow's 3:00pm trade deadline.

Now before you jump down my throat on these "predictions," this is just hypothetical and does not take the salary cap into consideration. This is just my thoughts on teams who have a legit shot at the cup and where these 5 guys would be best suited. Think of it as a conversation with your buddies about which celebrity you'd do.

#5 Dan Boyle

Boy am I glad I don't play in Tampa Bay. Not to mention being a defenseman in Tampa with a serious lack of competent goaltending. Boyle brings an added offensive threat to any team, especially one who could use power play help.

Let's do this Oscars style...

And Dan Boyle goes to... the New York Rangers.

Here's why: The Rangers top power play unit is terrible. Trust me. Terrible. If you're a Rangers fan and have a problem with that statement, you obviously just became a fan yesterday.

The top unit with Brendan Shanahan and Jaromir Jagr has been a huge disappointment. Here's a clue boys, shoot the puck on goal and crash the net. Take a note from your second unit with Fedor Tyutin, Chris Drury, Scott Gomez, Nigel Dawes and Petr Prucha. Those guys pound the puck on net and hack away until the red light goes on.

Of course as soon as I finish typing this Boyle has re-signed with the Bolts for 6 years and $40 million.

With that said....

#4 Brian Campbell

See above explanation as to why the Rangers power play is awful and instead of going through more uselessness here's the quick info.

Campbell will shoot the puck on the PP. He'll get the puck there so listen up Shanahan do me a fantasy favor and go to the net and start scoring some PP goals.

Side note: Just read a rumor that the Rangers are interested in getting Pavol Demitra.

(Wipes tears away caused by an extreme fit of laughter)

This would just be dumb for a ton of reasons. Mainly, they already have enough scoring depth and need someone to play defense. Also, if Sather thinks he's getting a top 4 d-man for Marek Malik I want the cops searching his home for narcotics.

#3 Olli Jokinen

As a Pens fan I'm hoping he gets traded out of the Eastern Conference. This guy kills the Penguins. That said, I took a look at a team that could use some leadership and added scoring depth.

And Olli Jokinen goes to...The Vancouver Canucks.

Here's why this deal would help the Canucks. I know he's a center but you put him with the Sedin twins. Look what they did with Anson Carter who got a big head and is now out of the NHL. Just imagine those three playing together. Any fantasy owner of those three would sign up for this in a heartbeat.

#2 Patrick Marleau

I think he should have gone to Toronto in the first place in the Vesa Toskala deal, but now that they're still set on trading him here's who would be a good fit.

And Patrick Marleau goes to...The Ottawa Senators.

I know what you're thinking..."but all the rumors are saying Hossa is going to the Senators so there's no way this is happening." To you I say, see #1.

#1 Marian Hossa

Ok here's why Hossa should not go to Ottawa. They already have Jason Spezza, Dany Heatley and Daniel Alfredsson. They do not need more scoring talent. What they need is defense help. Supposedly the Sens are trying to get a package deal of Hossa and Garnet Exelby, which still wouldn't be much of an upgrade.

So where does Hossa end up? Could this possibly be the out of the ballpark prediction that would appear to look like I found Sather's stash? Yes it is.

And Hossa goes to....The Boston Bruins.

Here's two words why this makes sense and would make the Bruins dangerous. Marc Savard.

These two played together in Atlanta on the same line with Ilya Kovalchuk and tore up the league. If these two get re-united and the B's somehow keep Phil Kessel, wow. Even if they have to pull the trigger on Kessel to pull it off, you put Marco Sturm on the other wing, sit back and watch the fun.

As I said before, most likely none of these deals will happen but if they do you know what the next blog will be about. If they're wrong I'll just comment on the deadline deals. In any event, the next few hours should be fun to watch.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Fantasy Surge In Standings

The past two weeks the fantasy gods have been quite kind to me. Not only have I cut the lead Gopher had on me to a mere 15 points, (explanation coming on how this is nothing) but I have rocketed up the standings to second place. If the playoffs in our league started today I would have a first round bye, which after how this season has gone, would be a massive accomplishment.

For those of you who are not well versed in fantasy sports here is how I set up our league. We have 17 statistical categories up for grabs every week in a head to head format. Each week you play someone different in the league. There's 23 weeks in the regular season, top six make the quest for glory (a.k.a. playoffs.) Top two seeds get a bye in the first round thus guaranteeing at least a fourth place finish.

You earn two points for every category you win each week and earn one point for every category you end up tied in, so as you can see one big week for me and one bad week for Gopher could propel me back to the top of the mountain where I belong. Keep in mind; I did set this league up.

Anyway, two weeks ago Gopher and I faced off in what could quite possibly be a preview of the league finals and a rematch of last year's finals. As would be expected, this was a hotly contested battle between two of the best teams in the league. Heading into that Sunday's action, Gopher had a slim 8-7 lead on me. However, I had a full roster of players going to his measly two and as would be expected (borrowing from Mike Lange here) I ended up beating him like a rented mule 9-4.

The main reason I can tell for this recent surge is the play of Evgeni Malkin and Brian Rolston waking up finally and putting the puck in the net like we all know he can. If you're reading this Brendan Shanahan, you're dangerously close to being dropped or traded so step up and start putting points on the board.

Once the week was over I messaged Gopher to announce and gloat about my demoralizing victory. As would be expected he retorted with, "Whatever, I'm still in first place by a lot. I've been on top all season and will be at the end anyway."

Granted he may be correct in assuming I'll get to the finals of our league for a third straight season only to watch my team (quoting Larry the Cable Guy here) act like a retard in a room full of bouncy balls and see Cheech or Gopher rip the title away from me again.

Moving on to last week's match-up which was another barn burner. Mr. Tully who has been in and out of the playoff picture needs to put a big run together to sneak into the playoffs as the 6-seed. After last week, I'd be shocked if he gets in considering he played the 2-seed in me and is now playing numero uno Gopher.

Once again Gopher is cleaning up and soaking in the rewards of my domination. Tully had a slim 7-6 lead on me heading into Sunday and once again I made a big stand and walked away up 9-5 and with a four point lead over Cheech in the standings. Now Gopher is driving the stake into Tully's chances where he will now battle to defend his consolation bracket title from last season.

Last year Tully was the low man on the totem pole, but put an impressive run together in the consolation bracket to prove to the world that his team was the bad luck team of the century. He was actually looking like a lock for the playoffs this season, but a big slump due to some injuries, namely Sidney Crosby have sunk any hopes of that happening. On the bright side, he'll most likely have the 1-seed in the consolation bracket. As was the saying in Boston for 86 years, "There's always next year."

This week I am locked in another mid-week battle with Army pal "The Mick" who is currently the 9-seed. His team isn't all that bad, but due to him being in Iraq defending our freedom back here in the States and allowing me to be able to entertain you with these random thought processes that run through my head, don't allow him to check his team very often.

In any event, the NHL trade deadline is fast approaching and in the next post I'll try to make some predictions on where some stars could be heading.

Monday, February 18, 2008

5 Best Announcers In Sports

As promised at the end of the last installment, here is the list of the top 5 announcers in sports.

#5 Marv Alberts

I know what you're thinking, "Really? Alberts? I can list at least 10 other people who should be on this list."

You know what, you're probably right, but Marv gets the nod for two reasons.

Reason number 1: His trademark "For the win....YES!!" when someone wins at the buzzer has worked itself into my watching of other sports. For example this year's NHL Winter Classic. Sidney Crosby with the game on his stick. First thing out of my mouth to Gopher was the above line. This is just one example on a long list of things this has been used in.

Reason number 2: Celebrity Death Match's Death Bowl 1998. Pamela Anderson's breasts bounce back into place and Marv is stuck on repeat "Let's see that again...YES!" for the entire show. Classic. Him being made famous in clay gets him on the list.

#4 Gary Thorne

This man is one of the reasons I wanted to get into sports in the first place. I always enjoyed watching hockey on television, but Thorne brought the viewer into the game like few can.

I'm amazed that Bill Clement can even hear anything today after being in the booth with Thorne for years. Thorne was like you and I watching our favorite team. He lived and died with every play. You could hear his heart jump up into his throat when someone drilled the post in overtime.

One of the greatest things EA Sports could have done was putting Thorne in their NHL series games. I'd sit there with the volume cranked just to hear Thorne scream. It didn't matter if I was up 12 goals in the second period. That game never got old.

Here's a message to ESPN. Please for the sake of all hockey fans in this country bring back hockey. Thorne shouldn't be calling baseball, he needs to be calling hockey. The man makes the Little League World Series feel like it's a life or death situation and the kids are 11 and 12 years old. Bring hockey back!

#3 Gus Johnson

Can you really picture March Madness without this man? You know you count down the hours or sit impatiently through Selection Sunday just to hear Johnson go nuts during the 16 vs. 1 drubbing. Never mind if that 16-seed is keeping it close through the first half like Fairleigh Dickenson three years ago.

If Johnson calls the eventual 16-seed upset, there better be paramedics nearby to revive him. Gus Johnson is by far the most entertaining basketball announcer out there. Imagine if he and Marv teamed up for the NCAA tourney? As if you wouldn't tape every game as proof that something that unreal actually happened when you woke up from the self-induced coma after watching your office pool bracket go up in flames?

#2 Mike Emrick

My roots are in hockey and as a result of living in the NY/NJ market I get the pleasure of hearing Emrick go nuts in the booth all the time. As the main man for the New Jersey Devils he actually makes their games entertaining even if the team plays the most boring hockey on the planet.

I especially love listening to him call non-Devils games on Versus and NBC. His call of Crosby's winner in the Winter Classic had me jumping around my basement throwing fist pumps and yelling at the top of my lungs.

The Mrs. had just left for work so there was no potential of landing a haymaker and having to explain to the cops that I was overly excited about my team winning an unbelievable hockey game. It might fly in Canada, but I highly doubt it would here.

Anyway, I don't care who's playing if Doc is calling the game. Like Thorne he just appreciates a good hockey game and if I wasn't a Penguins fan he'd be numero uno.

#1 Mike Lange

If you are a Pens fan you know and love Mike Lange. How can you not? With all his wacky sayings after goals that have you laughing while cheering? It's impossible to not like the man.

My personal favorite line is when the Pens get on the board early in the game. "Get in the fast lane grandma, the bingo game is ready to roll!" His sayings make no hockey sense at all, but that's what makes him great. Lange gets so into the game. Yes he's biased toward the Pens, but he also gives the other team credit for good goals and nice plays.

For a long list of lines that Lange uses CLICK HERE AND ENJOY

I have a small bone to pick with FSN Pittsburgh though. Last year I finally decided to get the NHL Center Ice package and as soon as I got off the phone with the cable company I was beaming with the thought of listening to Lange.

Literally one week later, FSN announced that they were letting him go. This put a damper on why I even bought the package in the first place. Then the Pens announced he would be the radio man. At this point I decided I could watch the games on television and listen to Lange's goal calls over the net.

If you think I'm joking, ask the Mrs. who just looks at me and shakes her head whenever Lange says one of his classic lines.

Thus completes the top 5 list. Stay tuned for updates on the fantasy team's recent surge up the standings as we close in on the playoffs and how Gopher is growing more and more anxious for my entire team to be involved in freak accidents.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

5 Worst Announcers In Sports

Just the other day I was thinking back to my college days and how much fun it was. My roommate for three years, Cheech, and I had one of the greatest room set-ups ever. We are both big sports nuts, so rather than fight over which game we were going to watch, we what any reasonable man would do. Get two televisions.

This was a genius decision especially when playoff time came around in any sport. We'd feature one game on his larger TV and have another game on mine and rotate at commercials and long stoppages of play. A key deciding factor into which game went on which TV was the announcers. If it was a good game but had horrible announcers, the game went on my TV unless there was nothing else on. This debate only happened when there were two or more games we wanted to watch on at the same time.

Looking back on these decisions I decided to make an overall top five list for the best and worst announcers. Enjoy!

Worst 5

Before we get to the list I would just like to state that the mute button is a wonderful thing. The people below are the people you put on mute and then call the game yourself. Even if you're drunk in your living room, you could do a better job than these people.

#5 Tim McCarver

Why is this guy even on television? I don't get it. His color commentary makes me question why I even like baseball to begin with. At times I swear he has money on the games he's calling with how biased he can be. Classic line from McCarver during the 2004 World Series after a home run. "That's the thing about ground balls Joe, they don't leave the park."

I seriously start to question whether or not I'm in some bizzaro world whenever I see him on TV due to the insane McCarverisms that make no sense and are not entertaining.

#4 John Madden

This is the only man in sports broadcasting that makes me keep a copy of NFL rules handy. The man oversimplifies everything and just rambles on about nothing making crazy sound effects.

Here's how we make Madden enjoyable for everyone. Remember the old Batman series that would flash words like "Bap," "Pow," and "Zap?" NBC should flash these during his lovely squiggle drawings. You think the ratings are high now? Just watch what would happen if NBC went ahead with this.

#3 Joe Beninati

This pick stems from 2004 when he was calling the NHL playoff series between the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks. This was one of the best series of the entire playoffs that year and he nearly killed it.

If any of you watched the games you know what I'm talking about. This guy must have set the unofficial record for announcing who was announcing the game while announcing the game. In one five minute span he said "I'm Joe Beninati with Tony Twist here at the Pengrowth Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta."

The guys in the truck running the graphics that show up on your television sets had to have gone home with Carpal Tunnel after dealing with him for seven games.

To his credit, he has gotten much better now that he's the Washington Capitals main man. Live and learn I guess.

#2 Michael Kay & Suzyn Waldman

If you don't live in or around N.Y./N.J. consider yourselves lucky. I felt it necessary to put the two of them together as a tandem because these two could out-suck any duo of all-time if they ever joined forces.

Kay calls games for the YES network and Waldman used to. This may sound corny, but I've been saying NO to these two for years. If there were ever two people who were more biased in a broadcast, I don't know who they are.

I used to think McCarver was bad until I was subjected to the suck-fest these two put on.

I'm sure Waldman's work wouldn't be as bad if it wasn't for the voice. Ever heard a cat get stuck in the intake manifold of a car? I'd prefer that than listen to her A) Talk, B) Talk about my hated enemy Yankees.

Here's the problem I have with Kay. I understand being a little biased to one team if they are paying you to call games. That's fine, most announcers do it, but this is ridiculous. You'd think he got kicked in the junk by his high school girlfriend every time the opposing team wins against New York. Plus, watch out if the Yanks make a great play or do anything productive. He instantly becomes any of us watching the game at home yelling at the TV in excitement and dancing around the living room. Show some professionalism....for all of us.

#1 Joe Buck

If I wasn't a Patriots fan, I would not have watched the game. The only reason I have for that is because Buck was calling the game. His lack of enthusiasm during the game was deplorable. Hey Joe...YOU'RE AT THE SUPER BOWL! GET INTO IT ALREADY!

I can trace back the moment I realized I didn't like him calling games. 2004 World Series. Boston Red Sox vs. his hometown St. Louis Cardinals. Listening to him for those four games of glory were torture. You could hear his heart being ripped out of his chest on national television. He called one of the greatest moments in Red Sox history and sounded annoyed to even be calling the Sox champs.

Flash forward to the 2007 World Series. I thought things might be different and gave him a chance to rebound. He failed...again. I think McCarver is getting to him. I suppose if you've worked with the guy long enough you would probably have to say just about anything to get him to shut up.

My dislike of him made me take a poll of people I knew to see what they thought. 99% of the people I talked to were on board with me. This eventually turned into an online petition somewhere to get him off the air. No, I'm not joking

I'm going to pull a Howie Mandel here. I know I said above that this would be a top 5 best and worst list, but I'm going to continue this time here on Blogger!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Give It Up Clemens

I know this is a bit unusual to see two posts in one day, but today is the day that Roger Clemens testi-lied in front of Congress.

I am not one to normally go off on rants; OK you got me I do. Here's the thing about Roger. I used to like the man. I'm a Red Sox fan, how could I not like the Rocket? He was one of the guys I looked up to while growing up in New England. Then his numbers started to take a hit and Boston management felt he was losing it and let him go.

Miraculously the man pitches for what seems like 40 years and practically gets better with each season? How did no one suspect him of using steroids or performance enhancers years ago? Were we really that blind? Seriously, Barry Bonds goes from twig-boy to the Incredible Hulk and everyone jumps on him.

With all the evidence that appears to be piling up against Clemens I have this to say:

The longer this goes on, the bigger the hole Roger digs for himself. Just admit you did it already. It's not like MLB will have the grapes to take away your awards or change your stats. Also, it's not like you care about the Hall of Fame anyway as you vehemently stated during a press conference, so what's there to lose? Either admit it, or go to jail for lying to a grand jury.

Just had this exchange with Gopher:

Gopher: I can’t wait until this is over.

Me: I just want it to come out that he did it, but it probably won’t come out until the DNA test comes back.

Gopher: He's so royally screwed.

Me: The camera man who gets the stunned look on Clemens' face can retire that instant.

Gopher: They should hold the test results on The Maury Povich Show.

Me: During the infamous who's the daddy show?

Gopher: Yea, definitely.

Me: Can you just picture McNamee jumping up and down on stage laughing and doing the "I TOLD YOU! I TOLD YOU! HAHAHAHA" act?

Gopher: Then, Roger runs back stage crying as the cameras follow him.

Me: Maury follows behind "So what are you feeling?" Meanwhile, the camera cuts back to the stage with the crowd screaming and laughing as McNamee break-dances on stage in celebration.

Yes, we actually take the time to play out these scenarios for your enjoyment. In closing I'd just like to say that there's a saying about Texas that goes "Everything's bigger in Texas." If you're reading this Roger, be the bigger man and admit your faults. You were a great player and it's a shame that it's come to this.

New Proposal For NHL Playoffs

Since the NHL went to this six division format with the guaranteed 1-3 seed for the division winners, I have felt like there was a thorn in my side. Especially from last season's final results.

Before I get into this proposal of ideas, I would like to send out a heart felt thought to Florida Panthers winger, Richard Zednik. As I am sure you are all aware, Zednik's carotid artery was severed when Olli Jokinen's skate came up after being hit. If you haven't seen this gruesome event click this link to a YouTube clip. I am warning you now, if you have a weak stomach do not watch this.

Anyway, Richard get well soon and I hope to see you back on the ice in the near future.

As you can all probably tell from previous posts, I am a Penguins fan. Last season they finished tied with Ottawa with 105 points. Due to tiebreakers the Pens ended up as the 5-seed while Ottawa got the 4-seed. That's fine and dandy, but if you look at who got the 3-seed you can see why this is a little irritating.

The Atlanta Thrashers won the division with a whopping 97 points, which was good enough for what should have been the 6-seed. Now I'm not sore over the Pens being kicked around in a five game series with the eventual Eastern Conference champs because I finally didn't have to worry about people making wise cracks at me in my Pens apparel walking down the street.

What annoyed me was that the Thrashers were handed the 3-seed. The New York Rangers earned the 6-seed and basically a first round bye by playing Atlanta. If you'll recall, the Rangers swept the Thrashers in what was probably the worst series of the entire playoffs.

I have a proposal and will show examples of this as I go along.

Part 1

I am comfortable with the division leaders being given a playoff spot. I am not comfortable however with them being given a 1-3 seed just for winning the division when there are other teams with more points. Here's how the standings looked at the end of last season.

1. Buffalo - 113 Points
2. New Jersey - 107
3. Atlanta - 97
4. Ottawa - 105
5. Pittsburgh 105
6. New York Rangers - 94
7. Tampa Bay - 93
8. New York Islanders - 92

I propose that the teams with higher point totals move up in the standings over division leaders if it is possible. To illustrate this point, here's how the final standings would have looked if my method was in place. The changes are in bold.

1. Buffalo - 113 Points
2. New Jersey - 107
3. Ottawa - 105
4. Pittsburgh 105
5. Atlanta - 97

6. New York Rangers - 94
7. Tampa Bay - 93
8. New York Islanders - 92

This would have resulted in the Penguins having home ice against Atlanta in a series they most likely would have won, while Ottawa would have had a tough time with the Rangers but probably would have still won in 6 games.

This isn't much of a tweak and does not have any major issues unless you have a situation we are fast approaching in the Eastern Conference this season once again involving the Southeast Division.

Part 2

As I am writing this after all the games have concluded on Feb. 12, 2008, the Carolina Hurricanes are the 3-seed with 60 points. The Boston Bruins are the 9-seed with 61 points.

Now I know what you're thinking, "you just said you were fine with division winners getting into the playoffs so what now smarty pants?"

I'm glad you asked because I thought about this at length and discussed this with Gopher.

I propose a play in game in this situation. A winner take all qualifying game where the winner gets the right to play the 1-seed.

If the season ended today, here's how I would picture this going down.

On the day after the end of the regular season, Boston would travel to Carolina and play one game. Winner gets into the playoffs. Simple as that. The reason Carolina gets home ice in this game is as a reward for winning the Southeast Division.

In the event that the nine and 10 seeds have higher records than a division leader, normal tie breaker procedures would apply to determine the 9-seed who would travel to the 3-seed's barn for the play-in game.

Part 3

I propose a 3-2-1 point system for the regular season. I, for one, am tired of seeing teams like New Jersey play for overtime just to avoid losing in regulation and as a result getting zero points in the standings.

What I would do is award three points for a regulation win. This gives teams more of an incentive to go for it in regulation. This would also make the playoff race more exciting to watch.

I would then award two points for wins in overtime or a shootout. I am a big fan of the shootout. Knowing that two points will be awarded at the end of every game is a great thing as a fan, especially if you know you have a good goalie and a couple of guys who can dazzle on breakaways.

Lastly, I would still award one point to teams that lose in overtime or a shootout. I feel that if you get to overtime you deserve at least one point, but teams should be rewarded for winning games in regulation.

I know none of these ideas will ever actually be put into action, but if a league official sees any of this and gets it voted on and it passes...I want the credit. This site has a time stamp for a reason and I could always use the publicity.

Thanks again for reading and stay tuned for more soon.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Hello World, I'm Back

It's been a week since the last post and there's a very good reason for it. No it wasn't writer's block or lack of time. I went into hiding this week and have finally left my hiding place to return to society.

As you probably know from the last post, I am a Patriots fan. I also live near New York City and unless you've been under a rock for the last week like me, you know that the New York Giants beat my Patriots in one of the greatest upsets in Super Bowl history.

This faced me with a brutal situation. This town hates anyone wearing anything with a New England sports team logo on it. As an example, I wore my Boston Red Sox hat to work one day. Now I have to park several blocks from my building. Within four city blocks, two guys sitting on porches decided to rip into me.

Man #1: "Are you F%#@ing proud of yourself for wearing that &^%$ hat?!"

I'll admit, if I was back home in New England and saw someone wearing a Yankees hat or shirt and I was in the comfort of my own home, or in a place where I knew the person wouldn't come after me, I would have said something similar to this fine gentleman's splendid use of the English language.

Man #2 two blocks later: "You've got a lot of balls wearing that crap around here boy."

At this point I picked up the pace and speed walked to work.

Anyway, I knew the day would come when a NY team would win something in some sport and I would have to see everyone and their brother sporting the team's colors. I had never thought about how I would deal with such a thing so I kind of made it up on the fly this week.

I decided to entirely block out of my mind anything that happened last week. The Pats didn't lose because they didn't play the game. There was no Super Bowl. Didn't happen. You can try to convince me otherwise by even showing me the blog I wrote about it.

Here's the thing, I don't care. I've seen more Giants jerseys and jackets and hats this week than I have ever seen in my life. So rather than ponder how many of these people are actual fans and the ones who are bandwagon ones, I decided to just immerse myself back in hockey and specifically the Penguins.

I honestly don't know how a team so plagued by injuries this season is currently in first place in the Atlantic Division by three points over New Jersey. It's remarkable to see guys like Jeff Taffe and Nathan Smith stepping into the league and playing as well as they are.

Not to mention Evgeni Malkin who now has 21 points in the 10 games that Sidney Crosby has missed due to the high ankle sprain. I have never seen Malkin look this good. The kid is thriving off being the go-to man and being back at his natural center position.

As a Pens supporter, I was praying for them to just stay in the hunt until guys like Crosby, Gary Roberts and Marc-Andre Fleury came back from injuries. All of them could be back in the coming weeks. The question then becomes what to do with them?

Here's what you do.

You keep the line of Malkin, Ryan Malone and Peter Sykora together. How can you not? The line is simply on fire and they obviously have great chemistry.

When Sidney returns you can put him on a line with Jordan Staal and Erik Christensen. Staal and Christensen have been playing together for the last couple games with Maxime Talbot and have been getting some very good chances and have put up a couple goals.

When Roberts returns you put him with Colby Armstrong and Talbot. Seems like a bit of an odd combo doesn't it? All three of these guys are grinders and guys that will knock opponents off their game. They pound people in the corners and make defensemen nervous to move the puck.

When Fleury returns you try to send Sabourin to the minors. He has a one-way deal, so he would have to clear waivers. The Pens tried this last year and Vancouver pounced on him. Ty Conklin has been unreal since being called up and I think he has earned a spot on the team. For as much smack as I talk about him, I have been very pleased and surprised with how well he has played.

They finally got a win against Philly in their fifth try of the season after going 8-0-0 against them last season. Granted Philly has gotten much better with the signings and trades in the off-season, but the Pens were just awful against the Atlantic Division for the first half of the season.

Things seem to be turning around for the Pens right now and hopefully it continues, but no one will want to play them in the playoffs when this team starts to get healthy.

Stay tuned for the next post which will detail how the NHL needs to re-evaluate how teams qualify for the playoffs. Here's a clue. As of this very moment, the Washington Capitals are the #3 seed with 59 points. The #9 seeded Buffalo Sabres have 60 points and are on the outside looking in. I've got a solution and it will be explained soon.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Super Let Down

It seems fitting that I should at least post something about Super Bowl XLII. I should explain that I am a Patriots fan. No, not a bandwagon fan. I grew up in New England, enough said.

There's not much to say about the game other than that the Patriots did not play their best game and as a result lost. The Giants defensive line was incredible with how much pressure they were able to get on Tom Brady. To me it seemed that some of those wide open receivers that Brady missed during the game were due to "happy feet." You know he had to be thinking he was going to get drilled again if he didn't get the ball out quick. The Giants knocked the Pats out of rhythm and that was why they won.

Just going to throw this out there too. Eli Manning's pass to David Tyree to set up the game winning touchdown was incredible. What's more amazing is that the Giants have been notorious for missed tackles leading to big plays and yet at least four Pats couldn't bring the little weasel down.

A sack there makes it fourth and a mile and all but locks up a perfect season. Just writing that last part pains me. We were 35 seconds from perfection....35! Argh! Suddenly, horrible suppressed memories of past sports moments that ripped my heart out came flashing back. Here's the quick top 3.

#3 - Bill Buckner - Granted I was about two-years-old at best, but even then I know something bad happened. They say you're too young to remember things from that age, I disagree. My little self wasn't prepared for the anointment of being a New England sports fan and thus, blocked it out entirely.

#2 - Pens Lose In 5OTs - I can still hear Steve Levy's call. "Primeau in over the line, pulls up, shoots...AND THERE IT IS! IN THE 5TH OVERTIME!!" Local time was about 2:30am and it was a school night. I would have been just fine had the Pens won that game to take a 3-0 lead in the series on home ice no less. Instead they go on to lose the series.

#1 - Aaron "Bleeping" Boone - Game 7 2003 ALCS. Seven of us are gathered in Bricks room. I called my grandfather in the sixth inning and the excited conversation was something I'll never forget because it ended with me saying "I'll call you after the game."

Then Grady Little leaves dead arm Pedro in, who naturally blows it. We go to extras and Tim Wakefield gives up the bomb to Boone prompting me to walk back to my room, take my keys out of my pocket, throw them against the wall, grab a wiffle ball bat and proceed to unleash hilarious hell on various pillows. The holes in the wall from the keys were still there on graduation day. Talk about leaving a legacy.

In time I'll get over this loss and accept the fact that it was a great game. The Pats just didn't play their best game and paid for it as a result. I guess we'll just have to wait another year for them to pull off perfection.