The NHL Just Doesn’t Get It

March 16, 2011 Leave a comment

NHL and Zdeno Chara:

Zdeno Chara was back at it again on Thursday night when his Boston Bruins played  Buffalo, in a 4-3 over time loss.  Chara took a two minute penalty for boarding a penalty drawn by Steve Montador.  While Montador was kneeling on the ice Chara checked him from behind into the boards.  Montador got up somewhat limping after the play.  I thought Chara was a clean player?  This all comes after the illegal hit he put on Max Pacioretty Tuesday night leading to the Montreal Canadiens player suffering a broken neck and concussion.

The consistency, in officiating and discipline in the NHL is a joke.  The same incident could occur 10 times with 10 different results as far as the NHL sanctioning the offending player.  Another lightly discussed aspect of the hit on Max Pacioretty is that the NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell has a son playing for the Boston Bruins one Gregory Campbell.  So is the decision not to discipline Chara because the Disciplinarian of the NHL has a soft spot for his son’s team and fortunes?  Add this to the fact that Gary Bettman has shown utter disdain for the opinions of the people of the entire Province of Quebec, NHL corporate sponsors like Via Rail and Air Canada all of whom expressed concern for what happened Tuesday night to Max Pacioretty, and the health and welfare of all the players in his league. Also add in the obvious shady deal to fool people into thinking the Phoenix Coyotes are worth nearly $200,000,000.00 dollars when if the Mathew Hulsizer deal is completed the Coyotes are being sold for about 54 million and you get the picture that the NHL is being run like a mafia.

While Bettman continues to ignore the changing times everyone else seems to want change.  Joe Thornton had the following to say about the non suspension to Chara:

“It’s just something with Boston; it seems like they have a horse shoe,” Thornton said before Thursday’s game between the Canucks and Sharks.

“There’s just something about Boston and the disciplinary [decisions] are on their side. I’m not sure why that is or anything. I’m not assuming that Colin’s kid being on the team, that’s why.  “We saw the Lucic cross-check to the head a couple of nights earlier and there’s no disciplinary thing,” Thornton said. “It’s just really bizarre.”
“What are you doing to do the next time Trevor Gillies comes down and runs a guy into the thing? You can’t give him anything. And you tell the guys [Chara] has no history, so the next time he does it he still has no history because he didn’t get suspended. I don’t see the reasoning behind it. Give him at least something to show that’s not acceptable.  “I’ll tell you this: if you say that you don’t know where things are around the ice, I think you’re not telling the truth,” Sedin said. “You play the game for 20 years, you know it’s there. It’s gotten to the point, you have to suspend guys if you hit the head. You have to do it even if guys say they didn’t mean to do it or it’s an accident. You have to start somewhere.

“I don’t think players know where the limit is. That’s the bottom line.”

People these are two of the absolute best players in the game speaking out.  A few weeks back I dissed Don Cherry Ron McLean and John Davidson for chiding one Brad Ference for speaking out against Danny Paille’s hit on Sawada of the Dallas Stars.  Players are speaking out now more and more.  How much longer will Bettman turn a deaf ear?

Perhaps the best player in the game one Sidney Crosby maybe considering retirement as Bob McCown of the Fan 590 suggested Crosby’s family maybe encouraging the young Penguins superstar to do so.  Whether this is true or not my advice to Crosby would be to do just that.  The young man has nothing to prove to anyone else and he has a long future ahead of him.  He certainly does not want to suffer any further complications from concussion and surely would like to enjoy the fruits of his labour with good health.  Crosby has not been happy with the leagues handling of illegal hits.  Crosby on both January 1st and January 5th was first hit in the head by Washington’s David Steckle on a interference head shot body check that the league claims to want out of the game and then by Tampa’s  Victor Hedman on a hit from behind both hits cutting short what uptil then was a brilliant season from a skilled player.  Hedman was penalized but not suspended  and Steckle was neither penalized nor suspended.

Folks keep claiming that the Chara and Hedman hits were not illegal, they are.  In both cases Max Pacioretty and Sidney Crosby have moved the puck, a hit on a player without the puck is at least interference.  Further, hits from behind in the Hedman case or boarding should carry game misconduct penalties and suspension.  In Chara’s case if he does not interfere with Pacioretty there would have been no injury.  These are not hockey plays as Mike Murphy, Colin Campbell’s assistant disciplinarian claims.  If every instance similar to these hits are sanctioned the same without prejudice, and applying the rules as they are written players would smarten up especially if sanctions for these acts started at 7-10 games and went up  or doubled with each occurrence.  Finally, in a CBC piece done by Elliott Freedman Mike Camalerri spoke about how the players are taught in junior hockey to hit to harm or if you take a penalty break a bone.  This is absolutely sick, but when you hear a statement like that how can anyone doubt 7 years ago that Marc Crawford demanded of Todd Bertuzzi or someone on the Canucks to exact revenge in a brutal way against Stephen Moore.  It’s a culture that has to change and now.  The fact the players are speaking out about and against these dark issues in the sport suggest the time to change is now.  However, in November 2010 Gary Bettman received a new 5 year contract to represent the owners of the NHL.  Change will not come anytime soon.

National Hockey League Players’ Association executive director Don Fehr made the following statement Thursday. “Player safety has always been, and continues to be, a great concern to the Players’ Association. In that regard, issues involving the boards and glass in NHL arenas have been a longstanding focus for the players. The serious nature of the injury suffered by Max Pacioretty in Montreal this week reinforces the importance of maximizing the safety in this area and highlights the need to look further into the matter. We will be inspecting the rink in Montreal, and elsewhere as needed, to make sure the appropriate padding is in place. We will continue to gather feedback from the membership, to ensure the safest possible work environment for our players.”  This is not enough.  Yes, they need to fix the glass partition to make it safer but there is more going on when Chara shoves Pacioretty’s head into the partition and other players including Pacioretty believe that Chara knew what he was doing.  This is unnecessary violence occurring on the ice and until someone takes a stand to stop this insanity a hockey player will die sooner than later.

NFLPA Decertifies Union

March 16, 2011 Leave a comment

NFLPA Decertifies Union:

The NFLPA has been decertified as of Friday March 11, 2011 and the 16 day labour negotiations in mediation between them and the NFL have been halted.  Experts had been suggesting the players would use this tactic for weeks now and it became even more realistic once the owners were caught in mediation for accepting $4 billion from their tv network contracts simply to wait out the union in CBA talks by way of lockout or strike.

All of this means the players by majority vote removed the NFLPA as the “exclusive bargaining representative” of the employees-the players.  This now gives the players access to the Anti-trust laws where in court they will need to prove that the NFL owners have been engaging in anti-competitive practices.  A benefit to this move is a judge could possibly grant an injunction preventing the NFL from locking out the players which in fact the owners have done.  The players could also go to an impartial arbiter to settle the matter.  Ultimately though if the owners/NFL are guilty under anti-trust laws their ability to negotiate at the bargaining table could be dramatically restricted.  The NFL 2011 season though is in serious jeopardy now as talks between the players and NFL has broken down completely.

As it stands now at least 10 players as of Friday have participated in filing the Anti-Trust suit on the grounds that the lockout is a restriction of trade against the NFL.  This  suit included players  Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees.

Essentially Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson has been condescending to player reps like Peyton Manning throughout the negotiations.  The owners and commissioner Roger Gooddell have not taken the players union seriously as the owners throughout the mediation have had 1 or 2 owners show up for the negotiations, when several owners were available to attend a round of negotiations after Justice David Doty’s ruling only New York Giants  owner John Mara and Green Bay Packers owner Mark Murphy attended.  The players union asked for 10 years of audited financial statements and the owners have been reluctant to do this.  Thursday afternoon the players union was advised by that they would be called  before 4:30pm to come back for a second round of negotiations.  It was after 5pm that the union representatives learned via a reporter’s twitter  account that the owners attending the meeting were in a conference call with the other owners.  When the Union called the mediators office at 6:15pm Thursday evening they were advised the owners and commissioner were packing up to nothing more would be done Thursday.  Even on the fateful day when before the decertification of the players union the owners showed up late for a 3:30pm meeting knowing that the players union had already threatened that they would decertify no later than 8 hours before the expiration of the CBA which would be 4pm.  Therefore the history here suggests the owners were calling the players bluff, not really taking the union seriously and have been flippant throughout the negotiation.   Ultimately, without a player’s union the lockout is  improper essentially what you would call collusion.  The Anti-Trust Law becomes an issue now because the owners are preventing the players from trading their services.  The two sides are quibbling over 9 billion in annual revenue.  The owners last offer wanted to set the salary cap in 2011 back to the level of 2008 when it was $116 million per team.  The cap was 127 million in 2009.  The recently expired CBA gives the players about 60% of all revenues earned.  The owners have had a salary cap in play for a long long time but continually allow that cap to rise year after year and like the NBA the cap is linked to revenue.

Some of the comments made:

” In a statement, the union said it “renounced its status as the exclusive collective bargaining representative” of NFL players.  The NFLPA will move forward as a professional trade association with the mission of supporting the interests and rights of current and former professional football players,” the statement said.

“To our fans – I give you my word that we as players are doing everything we can to negotiate with the NFL towards a fair deal,” Brees wrote. “The NFL brought this fight to us – they want $1 billion back, we just want financial information to back up that request. They refuse to give that information to us. They think we should just trust them. Would you? We have a responsibility to our players – past, present, and future, to advance this league forward, not take 3 steps back.”

“While we are disappointed with the union’s actions, we remain steadfastly committed to reaching an agreement that serves the best interest of NFL players, clubs and fans, and thank you for your continued support of our league,” Goodell wrote.

MLB 2011 Preview Team By Team

March 1, 2011 1 comment

American League East:

Toronto Blue Jays:

The Blue Jays have always managed to be just on the outside looking in at the AL East leaders.  The Jays have not spent big to keep pace with Boston, New York or Tampa Bay but always seem to develop great young players especially pitchers.  This year it will be a rotation of Ricky Romero, Brett Cecil, Brandon Morrow a returning Dustin McGowan and either Kyle Drabek,Scott Ritchmond or Rzepczynski, Marc forming the starting rotation    The first three played major roles in the Jays successful season last year.  Their bullpen is solid now as well Jon Rauch, Octavio Dotel and Frank Francisco probably able to handle the set-up and closer roles.  Pitchers like David Purcey, Jesse Litsch, Jason Frasor and Casey Jansen round out the relievers.  The Jays are probably weakest at catcher with Jose Molina and rookie J.P. Arencibia behind the plate.  The infield will feature Adam Lind as a DH/1b, Aaron Hill at 2nd, Yunel Escobar at ss, Jose Bautista may see plenty of time at 3rd base as Edwin Encarnacion has been inconsistent.  Encarnacion may see time at 1st base, if he sticks with the team freeing Lind up for DH duties and John MacDonald is still in the mix as a utility guy.  The Outfield will feature Rajai Davis in centre field, Travis Synder and Juan Rivera.  The Jays say bye to Lyle Overbay, Vernon Wells, Scott Downs and Kevin Gregg.  The unknowns is how will former Red Sox Pitching coach John Farrell run the Jays?  Will Adam Lind and Aaron Hill rebound and provide the Jays with better obp, ba,?  Will the Jays hit and run and steal more bases?  Will Jose Bautista repeat his MVP like numbers?  If the answers to these questions are yes and Farrell has a good grasp of running this team and  pitching continues to develop positively this Jays squad could win 80-85 games this year.  Jose Bautista needs to hit at least 35 homers to be successful this year and the Jays need somebody to protect him in the order and Lind and Hill have to hit closer to .300  mark than they did last year.

Tampa Bay Rays:

Made a number of changes.  After making the playoffs in 2010 it was clear the Rays could not hit very well.  However, for a small market franchise the biggest  concerns were attendance and salary.  They still have David Price, and Jeremy Hellickson, Evan Longoria and B.J. Upton.  Their starting pitching isn’t bad but they did trade Matt Garza and let go or traded a number of members of their bullpen like Benoit, Soriano, Balfour and Qualls. Carl Crawford left as a free agent.  They did sign Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez which may help put seats in the stands but neither of these guys are what they used to be at the plate.  Manny had his worst power production stats of his career last season.  The Rays probably dwell in the AL East basement this year.

The New York Yankees:

The Yankees starting rotation is weak especially after Andy Pettitte retired leaving the rotation to a trio of C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes.  After years of trading prospects for stars will Ivan Nova and any other Yankee prospect round out the rotation without a hiccup?  Their bullpen is solid especially for 8 and 9th inning duties with Rafael Soriano and Mariano Rivera andJoba Chamberlain helps in mid-relief.  As far as fielding and hitting, with Robinson Cano, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Nick Swisher, Curtis Granderson, Derek Jeter and now Adruw Jones,  the Yankees can still put runs on the board.  The Yankees major problem is starting pitching and if by July 1st it is a glaring problem they’ll just spend 50 million or more to fix it.  That ability to free spend makes the Yankees a threat to win this division every year.  If they spend to fix their problems they probably take 1st in the East if they don’t they may be 3rd or 4th.

The Baltimore Orioles:

Did this team really get as good as they claim or will they struggle a long as usual?  I say they still struggle.  They picked up an aging and declining Derek Lee, they added Mark Reynolds a strike out king, they added Vladimir Guerrero and former Jay closer Kevin Gregg.  Other than Nick Markakis there really isn’t much to get excited about.  If Tampa is the the basement this year, in the east,  I see Baltimore in the cellar under the basement.

The Boston Red Sox:

This is the class of the division this year.  Their starting rotation Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester,  John Lackey and Dice K.  This is the most complete rotation in the east.  The bullpen is anchored by the likes of Bobby Jenks and Jonathan Papelbon,  but is a weak spot overall but with the rotation so strong it may not be needed much.  The offense is also potent with Carl Crawford, Jacoby Elisbury, J.D. Drew, David Ortiz, and Adrian Gonzalez.  This team has power up and down the line up.  The Red Sox should win the division hands down!!!

American League West:

Los Angeles Angels:

First off,  this team has long had an identity crisis.  Anaheim, California and now Los Angeles make up your mind who you represent.  Anyway, their key departures are: C/1B Mike Napoli, OF Juan Rivera, DH/OF Hideki Matsui and their big acquisition was Vernon Wells.  Wells was a fall back plan after the Angels hard chase of Carl Crawford fell short.  Their starting rotation is strong featuring Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, Ervin Santana and Scott Kazmir. But the bullpen is definitely weak.  They did add former Jay Scott Downs but who will close?  The bullpen closer incumbent is Fernando Rodney but he had a horrible ERA last season.  The pen is rounded out by Matt Palmer, Kevin Jepsen, Jason Bulger and Francisco Rodriguez.  The Angels may struggle offensively with Eric Aybar and Maicer Izturis in the line up.  Vernon Wells and Torii Hunter are past their primes as well.  Bobby Abreu is the full time DH.  This team may still win over 80 games this year.

Seattle Mariners:

The Mariners rotation isn’t great but not bad either with Felix Hernandez, Jason Vargas, Doug Fister, and Luke French pitching in a pitcher’s ball park.  The bullpen featuring David Aardsma, Brandon League and Daivd Pauley  is average at best but there are worse bullpens.  What is a problem is the offense.  Ichiro is clearly their best hitter.  However, Chone Figgins, Milton Bradley and Franklin Gutierrez don`t really scare anyone.  Mariners are lucky to win 70 games.

Oakland Athletics:

The A`s have a solid 4 man rotation needing only to figure out who goes fifth.  However, Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson, Gio Gonzalez, and Dallas Bradon are all under thirty and pretty good starters.  The acquisitions of Grant Balfour and Brian Fuentes along with closer Andrew Bailey makes for a solid bullpen .  Offensively they added DH Hedeki Matsui, and traded for former Royals OF David DeJesus to add to the likes of Josh Willingham, Ryan Sweeney and CoCo Crisp the A`s look to be on the rise this year.  Expect them to challenge the Texas Rangers for the Divisions.

Texas Rangers:

C.J. Wilson, Colby Lewis and Tommy Hunter are still a solid rotation even if Cliff Lee left for Philadelphia.  The Rangers have added former Diamondbacks`ace Brandon Webb on a 1 year deal as the 4th member of the rotation.  Closer Neftali Felix  along with Darren Oliver , the ageless Arthur Rhodes, Matt Harrison and Darren O’Day form a great mix of youth and experience coming out of the bullpen.  While offensively they lost Vlad Guerrero they have added 3b Adrian Beltre.  They do have an issue though now with Michael Young demanding a trade due to the fact that he is being asked to change positions.  This team is complete in all facets of the game and could win 95 or more games this year.

American League Central:

Minnesota Twins:

Francisco Liriano, Scott Baker, Carl Pavano, Brian Duensing and Kevin Slowey make for a solid if unspectacular starting rotation.  It remains unchanged from last season.  They did lose relievers Matt Guerrier and Jesse Crain along with Jon Rauch (Joined the Jays)  which hurts their bullpen.  The offense is in good hands with Delmon Young, Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Jim Thome.  However, the Twins got great contributions from unusual suspects last season on their way to a playoff berth, but  I don`t see that happening again.   They probably are good enough for 80-85 wins.

The Chicago White Sox:

The Sox feature a good starting rotation of Jake Peavy, John Danks, Gavin Floyd and Edwin Jackson and Mark Buehrle.  The Bullpen has one question mark who will close but is a solid group as well.  They have Paul Konerko returning and added Adam Dunn to the line up.  If all goes right this may be the class team of the Central Division even if their manager Ozzie Guillen has none.

The Detroit Tigers:

With Miguel Cabrera continually getting into trouble with the law and his alcoholism, and he claims he is not an alcoholic, its hard to see how this team can just focus on the task at hand.  If we are talking baseball,  then this team has a solid core of Miguel Cabrera, Austin Jackson, Ryan Raburn, Victor Martinez and Jhonny Peralta which provides rbi`s, hit, power and speed.  The starting rotation is a concern.  Justin Verlander is the ace Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello have tons of potential followed by Brad Penny and nothing else.  I say 75 wins but not much more.

The Kansas City Royals:

There`s always one or two franchise that there just isn`t anything good to say about them.  Momma always said if you ain`t got nothing nice to say just don`t say it.  This would be one of those times.  The Royals will probably win 60 games

The Cleveland Indians:

Are not much better than the KC Royals.  They have a lot of young developing pitchers and not a lot offensively to get excited about.  They have Travis Hafner, Shin-Soo-Choo, Michael Brantley and Matt Laporta.  Expect the Indians to be better than the Royals in the Central.

National League 2011 Preview:

National League East:

The Philadelphia Phillies:

This should be a no brainer.  This franchise  is the class of the National league.  They added Cliff Lee to the likes of Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt and Joe Blanton.  This staff is lights out.  The bullpen almost doesn`t matter but they have an ace closer in Brad Lidge.  Offensively they struggled last year and Ryan Howard needs to be more consistent.  They did lose to  Free Agency  Jayson Werth but there is enough here to do damage.  The East is the Phillies to lose.

The Atlanta Braves:

In any other Division,  the Braves probably win out right.  They will most likely battle for a wild card.  Their rotation is led by Tim Hudson and Derek Lowe.  It is solid but not overwhelmingly great.  They added Dan Uggla to the line up but he is a free swinger so its feast or famine with him.  The Braves do have enough to challenge for a wild card spot.

Florida Marlins:

Lost Dan Uggla, Cody Ross, Jorge Cantu and Ronny Paulino from last years squad.  They are led by a young explosive ss Hanley Ramirez and have a good young core with RF Mike Stanton, LF Logan Morrison and 1b Gaby Sanchez.  The pitching rotation which is strong includes Javier Vazquez, Anibal Sanchez, Chris Volstad, Josh Johnson.and Ricky Nolasco who is now healthy.  The Marlins could challenge for a wild card but won`t make the playoffs.

New York Mets:

Will be without ace Johan Santana until at least June.  That`s bad news for this franchise.  With Carlos Beltran, Jason Bay and Jose Reyes you`d hope to have a star studded and dominant lineup.  But Bay was hurt last year and Reyes had thyroid gland problems.  Beltran had knee surgeory in the off season.  Even if they are a good hitting team the pitching is lacking.  70-75 wins at best here.

Washington Nationals:

The Nationals could be a factor in the wild card picture this year.  The club has added Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche, but they lost Adam Dunn and Josh Willingham, so it’s a bit of a trade off. The signing of Rick Ankiel strengthens the bench a bit.  The real weakness here is the starting rotation.  Stephen Strasburg  is out most likely for the year after arm surgeory last year and the Nats struck out several times chasing free agent starters from Garza to Cliff Lee.  65-70 wins is probably where Washington winds up.

National League Central Division:

St. Louis Cardinals:

The Cardinals are expected to make the playoffs but they just learned that SP Adam Wainwright needs elbow surgeory and is essentially done for the year.  This weakens a rotation that puts more pressure on ace Chris Carpenter.  The bullpen isn`t outstanding either.  Offensively the Cardinals feature the best player in the game in Albert Pujols and along with Lance Berkman and Matt Holiday the offense is in good hands.  However, Pujols is in a contract year and they don`t need the distraction.  The Cardinals will win no more than 80 games and miss the playoffs.

The Cincinnati Reds:

Made a return to the playoffs for the first time in 13 years last season.  With the Cardinals misfortune, Adam Wainwright `s injury, may mean the Reds may make a return to the playoffs again  this year winning their second straight divisional title.  The Reds have a good rotation an average bullpen but offense is their strong point.  Withn Ramon Hernandez, Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Scott Rolen, and Jay Bruce they have some players who get on base and are productive with the bat.  The Reds may win the Central again, if not they`ll be in the wild card hunt.

Milwaukee Brewers:

Corey Hart, Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder  and Casey McGehee provide power and production in a potent offensive line up.  They upgraded the pitching as well.  They picked up Zack Greinke who automatically becomes the ace of this staff and they traded for Blue Jays Shaun Marcum another solid starter slotted in as the #3 guy.  The Brewers will challenge for a wild card spot  at the very least.

The Chicago Cubs:

This team is in rebuild mode.  They have a pretty decent starting rotation with Matt Garza, Carlos Zambrano, and Ryan Dempster.  The bullpen is perhaps mediocre and the offense led by Marlon Byrd, Alfonso Soriano and Tony Pena is really not that dominant.  The Cubs are saved from being last place thanks too……

The Pittsburgh Pirates:

This is another horrible team they will finish last in the National league`s Central Division.

Houston Astros:

Are hoping for a .500 season.  They were Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde last year.  The first two months of the 2010 season were just horrible.  They are hoping for good things from pitching prospect Jordan Lyles.  Overall their pitching rotation and bullpen is mediocre.  Hunter Pence and Chris Johnson are the best hitters of a mediocre lot.  Carlos Lee had his worst statistical season last year and hopes to recover.  Don`t expect much from the Astros.

National League West:

San Francisco Giants:

After winning the World Series the Giants still have  a dominant pitching staff.  Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Barry Zito Jonathan Sanchez and Madison Baumgarner were great last year and I expect much of the same again this year.  The bullpen is strong as well with closer Brian Wilson having secured 48 saves last year and posting a 1.81 ERA.  The Giants should be better offensively with a number of injured guys last season healthy and ready to go now.  Expect great things from sophomore catcher Buster Posey who had a great rookie season.  Aubrey Huff, Cody Ross and Pat Burrell are hoping to make significant contributions with the bat this year.  They have also picked up the bat of on Miguel Tejada as well.

Colorado Rockies:

The Rockies will hit well but have little pitching.  Led by Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez the Rockies will excite at the plate but don`t expect much else.

The Los Angeles Dodgers:

This is a team that has a bit of pitching and a few bats but not enough of anything to challenge even for a wild card.  Clayton Kershaw, Jon Garland and Ted Lilly are the top three starters and the bullpen is also mediocre.  Andre Ethier and Jay Gibbons are th best of a line up that includes Juan Uribe, Raphael Furcal and Casey Blake.

San Diego Padres:

The Padres are young and rebuilding.  Don`t expect much to happen with this team.  They did sign former Twin  2nd baseman Orlando Hudson and traded for Rays  ss Jason Bartlett.  There is not enough hitting or pitching on this team to be taken seriously.

Arizona Diamondbacks:

Another team not expected to win very much is the Diamondbacks.  They traded away Mark Reynolds and Dan Haren.  They do have some offensive talent but defensively have question marks at 1st and 3rd base.  Both spots are currently manned by Juan Miranda and Melvin Mora respectively for the time being.  RF Justin Upton  and Stephen Drew are splendid with the glove defensively  the rotation is led by Joe Saunders but there`s not a lot to get excited about on the mound with this team.

Donovan McNabb Hall of Fame Worthy

February 27, 2011 Leave a comment

Yahoo Sports had a list of locks, on their way and maybe maybe nots to make the Football Hall of Fame.  Well on the list of Maybe maybe not is one Donovan McNaabb.  It is absolutely frustrating to witness the lack of respect this man has received over the years from Philadelphia faithful and management and now with the Washington Redskins.   All McNabb has done is toss for 35, 139 yards.  He has also thrown more than twice as many touchdowns as interceptions with 225 td’s to 111 interceptions.  This is the second best ratio next to Tom Brady.  He is 1 of only 6 qb’s to have more than 25, 000 yards passing and 3,000 or more yards running. He is currently holder of the third highest winning percentage among active QB’s.    For a scrambling Qb he has the 20th most pass attempts all time.  He led his Eagles team to 4 consecutive NFC East Division Championships and 5 NFC Championship games and one Super Bowl.  In that Super Bowl he threw for 357 yards and had 30 receptions.  The Eagles didn’t lose that Super Bowl because of McNabb.  The Philadelphia Eagles really didn’t have any explosive wide receiving group during the majority of McNabb’s time there and most of the offensive productivity laid on his and all purpose back  Brian Westbrook’s shoulders.  Folks will insist the following:  McNabb ranks 27th in completion %, McNabb has thrown more interceptions than TD’s this season and McNabb is the second most sacked QB in the league.  Well sacks are directly related to your o-line. So if you go by that stat Ben Roethlisberger has ben a horrible quarterback for 4 years when you consider how often Big Ben is sacked.   Completions and interceptions yes can be related to the quarterback but the receivers in Washington aren’t exactly household names.  Further, McNaab’s career Touchdown to interception  ratio is extremely good.

When you look at the so-called QB’s who are locks for the Hall of Fame since 1998 Peyton Manning has had 2 Super Bowl Appearance  winning 1 and only 9 wins in 19 playoff games and a reputation for not winning the big game. Tom Brady has 3 Super Bowl Championships, 2 Super Bowl MVP’s.  McNabb should fit into this group quite easily but the elephant in the room is black and scrambling quarterbacks are still not respected.

This season was another prime example with the Shanahan led Redskins mis-using and degrading McNabb, the Eagles wanted to and did  start Kevin Kolb ahead of Michael Vick before coming to their sense, Jeff Fisher’s Titans usually won when Vince Young started games but Fisher has spent 5 years pining for the useless Matt Leinhart  (who he wanted to draft instead of Young) and attempting to destroy Vince Young’s career at the same time.  It took years before the NFL appreciated and recognize the value of  Randall Cunningham, Warren Moon and even Doug Flutie’s (because he was small discrimination is discrimination) scrambling and overall abilities.  The NFL is in love with the stand in the pocket QB.  While there are more Quarterbacks of ethnicity today than ever before their unique skill set to move the pocket and make things happen off the run has been resisted.  However, those same abilities were revered in the likes of Steve Young, Brett Farve and now Aaron Rodgers.   McNabb is hall of fame worthy no question no doubt.

Trade Deadline Deals and News in The NBA

February 25, 2011 2 comments

Be careful what you wish for cause you may just get it.  Deron Williams wanted Jerry Sloan out as coach of the Utah Jazz and now he plays for the one of the NBA’s outposts.  Wednesday it was announced that the New Jersey Nets who failed in the highest profile off-season in NBA history, failed to acquire Carmelo Anthony after 6 months of negotiating with Denver settled for  plan C or worse.  The Nets have given rookie forward Derrick Favors, point guard Devin Harris, two first-round draft picks and $3 million for Deron Williams.  They also made a smaller deal in significance  where they’d receive of Brandan Wright and center Dan Gadzuric from the Golden State Warriors in a while the Warriors take on forward Troy Murphy’s expiring contract.

Utah gets a great chance to retool their roster with the two first round picks as even with Deron Williams they are just 8th in the Western Conference.  Derek Favours also gives them a lottery pick from the most recent draft and Devin Harris is a good young point guard himself adequately replacing Deron Williams.  Plus Andrei Kirilenko, Al Jefferson, Paul Milsap, Mehmet Okur and C.J. Miles was a decent nucleus to start with.

The Nets, yes get a star player who I’m sure hates the fact that he’s in New Jersey and is probably hopping mad at this deal.  Williams who early this season stated he wanted to retire a Jazz suddenly decided about 2 months ago he wanted out of Utah and recently hinted he’d like a deal to New York.  His feud with the coach led to Jerry Sloan re-signing from a position he held for 23 years.  Williams probably felt like he won the NBA Finals forcing the long time Jazz head coach out of Utah.  He probably also felt like Carmelo Anthony and so many other players he had the Jazz over a barrel and could write his future anyway anyhow.    However since he signed a 4 year 70 million dollar deal back on July 18th 2008 and won’t be a free agent again until July 1st, 2012.  This now means that he is stuck in one of the NBA’s outposts (New Jersey) until then unless he forces another deal over the summer (trade Deadline was Thursday).  He apparently knew nothing of this deal to New Jersey.  The Nets only have Brook Lopez  their 2008 lottery pick and Travis Outlaw to boast about along with Deron Williams now.  New Jersey is really no better for having made this deal and probably have a disgruntled Williams to deal with , but Utah gets rid of a potential contractual  headache in Deron Williams and add pieces that will help today and in the future.

New York Knicks:

Wednesday night the Knicks got to display their new roster for the hometown faithful.  They bested the Milwaukee Bucks 114-108 with the hometown crowd chanting a raucous “Melo” throughout the game.  Anthony poured in 27 points and 10 rebounds.  His ex-Nugget teammate Chauncey Billups had 21 points and 8 assists.

With the trade deadline in the NBA now over (Thursday at 3pm) the Clippers and Cavaliers swung a deal in which Baron Davis was sent to the Cavs from the Clippers for Mo Williams.  This deal involved two struggling franchises swapping point guards. They The Cavs also sent Jamario Moon to the Clippers for a first round pick in 2011.   I give the edge to Cleveland because they get the 1st round pick which will help in their rebuild post LBJ although this years draft is not considered a strong.class.

The Atlanta Hawks and Washington Wizards have a deal in place.  The Hawks will receive Kirk Hinrich and center Hilton Armstrong from the Wizards for point guard Mike Bibby, forward Maurice Evans, guard Jordan Crawford and a first-round draft pick.

Former Raptor Jarred Jack was arrested Sunday for drunk driving in Georgia.  He was traveling 66 mph in a 45 zone and his Mercedes benz was weaving.  He also failed a sobriety test on the scene.

The Boston Celtic have weakened their team in two weird deals beating the trade deadline.  First, centre Kendrick Perkins who was the difference in the Boston v L.A. series before he got hurt in the Final last spring was shipped along with Nate Robinson to the OKC Thunder for Jeff Green and Centre Nenad Kristic who hasn’t been a significant factor since his days in New Jersey dating back to the 2006/07 season.  Then Danny Ainge sent rookies Luke Harangody and Semith Erdin to the Canvaliers for a second round pick.  So they have essentially reduced their roster by 2, gotten smaller as Jeff Green is under sized, Erden was a big body to help staving off Joakim Noah of Chicago, Roy Hibbert of Indiana and  Dwight Howard of Orlando for the playoffs and without the aggressive play, rebounding and lane intimidation of Perkins the Celtics are left with Shaq and Jermaine O’neal in the centre spot.  Nate Robinson is a guy that can light up the score board at any moment so that’s a loss on the bench as well.  Clearly Danny Ainge has lost his mind because change for change sake is not always good.

The Charlotte Bobcats in a cost cutting move traded Gerald Wallace to the Portland Trailblazers for Joel Pryzbilla, Dante Cunningham, Sean Marks and a conditional 2011 1st round pick.  Nazr Mohammed was also sent to the OKC Thunder for D.J. White and Morris Peterson’s expiring contract.  The Bobcats will also waive several players to make room on their roster.

Mark Cuban is angry that the NBA owned New Orleans Hornets just assumed a huge contract in acquiring Carl Landry for one Marcus Thornton.  Since all owners are trying to promote the idea of payroll roll backs and cost cutting they don’t want to see this type of deal.  Marcus Thornton makes just over 760 thousand while Landry makes 3 million.  Mark Cuban is definitely not a fan of the David Stern and the two are always at war.  However, if all the owners, who yes have a stake in New Orleans successes or failures due to revenue sharing, start going don this road of working together to restrict player salary sooner or later someone will shout out collusion.

the Houston Rockets have traded Shane Battier to the Memphis Grizzlies for former No. 2 pick Hasheem Thabeet and a first-round draft pick.  Shane Battier who has played for the Grizzlies before is expected to replace the injured Rudy Gay.  The Rockets also sent the under performing Aaron Brooks to Phoenix for Goran Dragic and centre Demarre Carroll and a lottery protected 1st round draft pick.

Deron Williams Traded Fitting Justice

February 25, 2011 Leave a comment

Deron Williams got what he deserved on Wednesday February 23rd, 2011.  He and his ex team mates apparently heard about the deal while watching Sports Centre.  Williams signed a 4 year 70 million dollar deal to play in Utah!!!!  The key words are he committed play 4 years in Utah.  First play means to use his basketball acumen and athleticism to entertain on the basketball court, second do that for the fans in Utah for 4 years.  Therefore, to all the Chris Paul’s, Carmello anthony’s and Deron Williams, demanding a trade 1 or 2 years before your deal or commitment ends is a breach of contract.  In my opinion,  any player actively seeking to break a commitment (a contract) should have their deal null and voided immediately.  Its funny how these players expect the terms of their deal to be honoured when they force their current franchise to send them to their dream destination, which invariablely 2-3 years from now will have to deal with the same issue again, expect to maintain their pay under the old or original contract that they breached.

Now this may sound like I have a bone to pick with the players and that I’m a owner/management guy.  Not necessarily but this growing cancer in pro sports and in particular the NBA of the player/manager/agent/owner player is getting old and real fast too. I am not a military guy either but there has to be order and I believe in a chain of command.  Owners hire GM’s to manager player personnel through drafts, signings and trades and development.  Coaches take those assets, the players and indoctrinate or coach those players to execute certain schemes, plans, plays, systems or whatever your choice word is for the madness that becomes reason in a basketball game.  Players need to employ these plans by learning them and then executing them on the court first in practise and then duplicating it before a live crowd on game day.  Kordell Stewart was called “Slash” because of the multiple positions he could play which is different from the “slash of today “player/owner/everything.  While one has to applaud the business sense of most athletes today that empowerment gets lost in translation because they have gone way to far with their power.

When it started who knows.  There are always players who are upset with coaches, unhappy with pay, hate losing, or don’t like the city they play in.  At some point even your average person becomes disinterested or frustrated with their work environment.  However, the average person has to seek out other employment, quit their current job-stop taking money from the current employer – and start a fresh somewhere new.  Every athlete though knows if you are lucky enough to make the pros you may find yourself getting cut, traded and multiple times in a short period, and waived.  However, these are decisions for a GM on the advice of his coach and at the permission of the owner.  The Player plays.  Some how this fundamental distinction or separation of management and player got blurred.  It seemed to start when owners not willing to annoy fans listen to their star player over the coach and GM like what Deron Williams did to get Jerry Sloan fired although Williams claims he did not force Sloan out of Utah. Maybe it started when the New York Knicks made a trade to obtain Latrell Sprewell after he had choked his coach P.J. Carlissimo.  I mean if a player who can’t take direction and  chokes his coach what would make any Gm or owner feel they could rehabilitate that player?   By the way Sprewell left the NBA because a 3 year $21 million dollar contrct could not feed his family and he has now lost his home in bankruptcy.   Maybe it was when Vince Carter talked his way into becoming a shooting guard and not a small forward allowing him to play on the perimeter more frequently.  Whenever it was that this madness started, players are managing and telling  the owners of pro sport franchise what to do more than ever before.  LeBron James’ departure from Cleveland is vilified not because he chose to leave as a free agent, but because of the decision and the fact that he forced the owner to fire 2 coaches and a GM especially and specifically Mike Brown and Danny Ferry weeks before he left.

Players today have too much power.  All these super power teams are what makes the MLB fan base mediocre because everyone knows the Yankees and Red Sox are going to make the playoffs meaning fans in other cities in the American League East, where the Red Sox and Yankees play,  have no hope and don’t care what happens.  The reverse is true in the NFL where the Carolina Panthers who were awful in 2010 could dominate 2011 because of the parity therefore fans stay invested in the franchise.  Right now look at the NBA, Toronto, New Jersey, Cleveland, Memphis, Utah, Denver, and even Orlando right now is scred to death of losing Dwight Howard,  are like outposts.  They get lottery picks on a regular basis, which means these players are trying to get established in the league and don’t have the voice or power to demand a trade or change their situation so they may re-sign like Chris Bosh did with the Toronto Raptors in 2007, and like Deron Williams in 2008 for 3 or 4 years.  However the first chance these players get, they demand the team spend over the luxury tax like Bosh suggested the Raptors do while  he refused to give a clear indication what he wanted to do re-sign in 2010 or leave.  As I mentioned before LBJ forced Cleveland to change their management and coaching staff in the 2010 off-season only to walk away from Cleveland.  As I say I don’t know when it happened but owners and managers have become almost enchanted, if not servants to these players when in essence it should be the other way around.

While everyone understands that the players bring the fans out,  the fans want to know that their local team has a chance to win.  When all the good players demand to be group together on 4 or 5 franchises in a league of 30 teams that leaves fans in 25 cities frustrated and annoyed.  The players have no loyalty to their fans anymore and the slightest hint of rebuilding or losing and these players want to leave.  Gone are the days of a player starting and finishing his career with one team.  When you think Majic Johnson you think LA Lakers.  When you think Larry Bird you think Boston Celtics.  But when you think Vince Carter what team comes to mind?   Long ago the players began demanding that this player be signed or that the owner spend x amount of dollars otherwise they aren’t going to stay.  What they fail to realise is they are the problem too.  When one player makes $23 million dollars out of  a $57 million dollar salary cap that leaves 34 million to be distributed amongst 14 other roster spots.  That is less than 3 million per player.  What kind of team do you expect to play on?  Its up to the owners if they want to pay the luxury tax and have multiple stars on their team but that should be the owner’s choice profit or championships.  The New York Knicks until 3 years ago were proof that spending over the luxury tax does not guarantee wins either.

This is a two fold problem where the owners need to start saying no more often.  Further, the Utah Jazz handled the trade of  Deron Williams quite nicely.  While I wish the situation  hadn’t cost Jerry Sloan his job when a player acts up the best way to solve the problem is a trade to a poorly performing franchise and retool your team for the future.  The Jazz did quite nicely in this deal with New Jersey for their present and future.  You will also notice that Utah did not make a lot of noise about the situation between player and coach and while Deron Williams thought he had won, he had no clue what the game was.  It may seem cold but players are commodities to be traded to the highest bidder.  Its always best to make that trade when the player is in peak performance like a well performing stock, sell high.  If more of these types of trades would happen, instead of the public fiasco the Carmello Anthony saga became, the players would act more appropriately because the reality is they could be traded into a worse situation.  Carmello Anthony’s desire to move to New York was weird because Denver won games with him in the line up.  I get New York is a bigger market but again he committed to Denver for 5 years and this isn’t about honouring your word it wasmore serious as it was in  black and white in permanent ink that he was property of Denver.  Essentially the trade demand to break a commitment for greener pastures is exactly what a child does to his mother when trying to test what he/she can get away with.  The more the parent gives in and allows,  the more the child will  try to get away with and then patterns of behaviour form from these tests.  Right now the NBA is an Asylum run by the inmates.  This deal between Utah and New Jersey is a step in the right direction because Deron Williams should not have been able to dictate a trade away from Utah to start with.  This trade is what things used to be like and believe me many are missing the old days in more way than one.

Ron MacLean And Don Cherry Part of The Problem

February 23, 2011 Leave a comment

Once again I will reiterate my disgust with Ron McLean and Don Cherry regarding the whistle blowing comments about Brad Ference’s comments on the Dan Paille hit against Dallas’ Sawada a couple of weeks back.  Ron McLean has to realize that as an on air personality like any athlete is held to really high standards and considered a role model, using his position to  admonishing some for “whistle blowing” is akin to the whole I witness a murder but I’m no snitch.  In other words, when a citizen refuses to talk to the police and give his /her witness statement that murderer could kill you next, but you’re not a snitch.  What happens when Ference is nolonger a Paille team mate and Ference is drilled on n illegal hit from Paille?  If Paille’s hit a couple of weeks ago was an accident well discussing it and dealing with the issue now may make him a better more conscientious player who avoids those scenarios next time out.  As for Don Cherry his put down of Mario Lemieux’s comments are comical and revisionist.  Saturday night he discussed how the League made Lemieux rich.  Does anyone not recall how Lemieux had to buy a bankrupt Pittsburgh Penguins to recoup the $30 million he was owed because the previous owners mismanaged the team so poorly.

So when Lemieux called the league a “garage league” he was right.  Yes, at the time Lemeiux referred to the clutch and grab in the game,  but only a garage league couldn’t pay its players either especially its star player.   If you don’t follow consider the Atlanta Thrashers situation right now, the mess in Long Island, Phoenix and other teams.  Oddly enough Phoenix is not the worst scenario in the NHL right now.     Yes Lemieux was a bit hypocritical for complaining about illegal hits on his team and how they were punished when he employs the worst offender in Matt Cooke.  Don Cherry and Ron McLean are painted on the side of Leaf Goalie James Reimer’s helmet,   if anyone doubts the impression these personalities on HNIC have on the youth, players and faithful followers of the game of hockey.  Somebody needs to clean up the diarrhea that spews from their lips soon.

It is clearly Cherry’s stereotypical and neanderthal attitude and Ron MacLean’s stupidity are essentially the core of the problem in the NHL which is why hits to the head only became an issue when star players starting missing seasons at a time and retiring from the effects.  These attitudes are the reason Sidney Crosby is out of the Penguins line-up.  With weekly rants about foreign players being soft and making money off of Rock’em Sock’em Hockey Don Cherry and Ron MacLean’s Coach’s Corner needs to be phased ou soon or replaced on Hockey Night In Canada.