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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Replacing Canadian Club as my fav C.C...

The Yankees rode a superb CC Sabathia start and took advantage of a jittery Anaheim Angels squad and cruised to a not-as-close-as-it-sounded 4-1 win in the series opener. Of concern for the Yanks is that they're not getting a lot of hitting out of guys not named Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez or Jorge Posada, though Johnny Damon showed signs of life last night. But when the pitching is on like that and the defense is air tight, those three can be enough. Game 2 is set for tonight but sounds more likely to be rained out and played tomorrow afternoon.

And there goes that Philadelphia Phillies bullpen, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. The Phil's were up 1-0 in the bottom of the 8th when the Dodgers rallied for a pair to win the game 2-1 and even the series at a game apiece. No surprise there that their pen blinked really. What was a shock was Pedro Martinez jumping in his DeLorean, cranking up the flux capacitor to 1.21 gigawatts and producing a retro 7 inning, 2 hit no run outing.

The United Football League's opening week last week pulled higher ratings than the NHL did on Versus. Sure, some of that is down to curiosity and football being so huge in the U.S., but really, is that anything other than embarrassing for the NHL and Gary Bettman?

I really can't figure how Toronto FC added Julian De Guzman and Dwayne De Rosario and with two games to play, they're in the same spot as last year largely, fighting for a playoff spot. They host Real Salt Lake today in the curtain closer on the home portion of the regular season. Kickoff is 4pm on CBC. A tribute to Danny Dichio from the fans, funded by the fans, is also planned.

In the NCAA, the Red River Classic goes today with #3 Texas facing #20 Oklahoma. Here's hoping it is more entertaining than last week's Florida win at LSU.

Quebec City is planning to build a new arena with the hopes of luring an NHL team. They do know that Hamilton tried that same thing, right? Like, 25 years ago?

There were over 6,000 unsold tickets at Yankee Stadium for Game 1 of the ALCS last night. It must've been either cold and raining, they fans are assuming victory...or they're charging too freakin' much. Mostly the latter, one would assume.

English Premier League action resumes today. Liverpool will be minus Stevie Gerrard and Fernando Torres but should still have plenty enough for Sunderland. Manchester United will welcome back Edwin van der Sar in goal, but are minus Wayne Rooney when they face Bolton today. And the most attractive matchup of today is already in the books, and saw Aston Villa down visiting Chelsea, who likely will no longer be top of the table as a result.

The New York Rangers will be salivating at the thought of facing the woeful Toronto Maple Leafs for the second time in a week. Hardcore Sports Radio's Gabriel Morency figures the Leafs may not break 50 points this year, a huge under from the 87 point over/under total that Vegas had posted. Morency also figures the Leafs will not win in October. Honestly, I'm praying for that kind of trainwreck.

Have a great Saturday.

Friday, October 16, 2009

First blood

The Philadelphia Phillies took Game 1 of the NLDS with an entertaining 8-6 win over the home side LA Dodgers. Neither team can feel very positive about starters Cole Hamels for the Phillies or Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers, but at least the Phillies got a save out of Brad Lidge instead of his usual blow up he's delivered in 2009.

The ALCS gets under way tonight, assuming the rain holds off. Or snow. It'll be interesting to see what the long break - both have been off since Sunday - does to both the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Orange County. With CC Sabathia and John Lackey starting, and cold weather and bats not in a groove, it could be a real low scoring one at The Stadium. Me, I've got the Yankees to win this series in six. You?

Dallas Cowboys
owner Jerry Jones says that there are "no circumstances" under which he'd fire head coach Wade Phillips. None? And yet he once parted ways with the ├╝ber successful Jimmy Johnson. Figure that. Regular reader BK passed an awesome piece from the Sports Pickle that suggested the "players coach" was about to get axed and become the "players friend". A satirical piece shows again that truth is stranger than fiction.

Two things about Manny Ramirez. One: why does he have snakes growing out the back of his head? Two: how does a guy born and raised in Washington Heights of New York City have a complete Hispanic accent?

St. Louis Cardinal Albert Pujols has a contract that expires after next season, albeit with a club option for 2011 that surely gets picked up, and he's arguably a top three player in the game, if not tops. He has to have Cards fans in a panic after saying he's in no hurry to talk extension. What do the Cards do? Probably not declare that they're going to trade him at the All-Star break and repeatedly tell teams they need to be blown away to make the move.

Hard to believe that not only do the Toronto Maple Leafs pay among the most for their atrocious defenceman at a combined $23 million, but three - Tomas Kaberle, Mike Komisarek and Francois Beauchemin - are/were under Olympic team consideration for their respective countries.

Canadians, and Canadian lawmakers and law enforcement particularly, are way too sensitive about people peacefully crushing a few beers in public. Why else would some fans be facing future charges if they continued tailgating at Windsor Spitfire games? South of the border, on the other hand, yours truly, Bukakke and others were hitting it hard in Baton Rouge last weekend prior to Florida and LSU. In a church parking lot. That they let us park on the lawn at. And left the doors open should we need a bathroom. Lighten up, Canadaland.

Early NHL surprises of the positive variety have to include the New York Rangers and Colorado Avs. Of the negative? Detroit Red Wings and Boston Bruins. Check the standings here. As for the defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins, check out their rings for last year's win. Infreakincredible.

Despite the frustrating up and down year, at least Toronto FC and its supporters can be happy that they got their three first round draft picks right in the last draft.

What is wrong with the city of Cleveland? They've had a lake on fire, the Browns have stunk since returning to the NFL despite repeated high draft picks and only lead the league in staph infections, the Indians were a total disaster this year, and they're getting set for LeBron James to leave the Cavs on July 1st, 2010. So what happens in between? LBJ gets treated for Swine Flu. Come to think of it, Cleveland sounds a lot like Toronto in a sporting sense if only they had a hockey team and a soccer team.

There are a lot of solid sports books out there, and I'm almost certain that Theo Fleury's bio will be one of the most amazing, for reasons good, bad and ugly, if this preview is any indication.

Have a great Friday. Go Yanks!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

NLDS time

ESPN Baseball Today's podcast says that this decade, World Series winners have only won a series the next year a total of four times, with the Philadelphia Phillies the latest. And people say there's no parity in baseball.

The Toronto Maple Leafs bandwagon is emptying quicker than a bust in a brothel if the whining about town is any indicator. Funny what happens when the real bullets start flying.

Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Derek Lowe thinks the first round of baseball's playoffs should always be seeded 1 vs. 4 and 2 vs. 3, even if it means two teams from the same division line up that way. Can't say he doesn't have a point.

The National League Championship series starts tonight and amen to that. The LA Dodgers have home field advantage in the 2-3-2 format. I've got the Dodgers to win in 6 on the strength of a better bullpen. Frankly, you cannot trust Brad Lidge this year or his understudy Ryan Madsen. Who are you liking?

The Buffalo Bills took two offensive coordinators, no touchdowns by the first unit in the pre-season and a 1-4 start with a sputtering offense to figure out that the no-huddle offense needed to be ditched. Seriously, if the Bills were to play the Toronto Argos, what do you figure the over/under would be? 18.5 or so?

In other Bills news, word is that Terrell Owens may be dealt with the Chicago Bears a rumored destination. Wise move, really. T.O. isn't likely to stay in line much longer on a rapidly sinking squad, and he could be an important piece for a team looking to get an experienced big-game proven wideout. But, it is the NFL, and trades are rare, though this piece from CNNSi.com does list a few possibilities. For his part, Bears QB Jay Cutler is staying silent on the subject.

World Cup 2010 qualifying got another step closer as Europe wrapped up 8 qualifiers, along with determining which 8 will playoff for four other spots. In South America, Argentina wrapped up a direct qualification with a couple wins in the final two games. More here on all the qualifiers.

There are certain terms used in sports that annoy me for their pretentiousness. Football and the "serviceable" quarterback when "average" would do. Basketball and its vaunted "basketball IQ" when a simple "intelligent" or not would do, or hockey and the all important "sandpaper" 'gritty" or "banger" type. Self explanatory. Annoying, all.

Have a great Thursday.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Black out, I really had a black out...

Love the "Rex the Hutt" and Princess Sanchez pic, which comes courtesy of SB.

Despite being a 4-1 squad, and having every game finish in thrilling fashion, the Cincinnati Bengals are looking like their game will be blacked out locally this weekend when they host the Houston Texans. That will mark the first time since 2003 that the Bengals haven't sold out.

Speaking of blackouts, I've got a funny feeling you'll be seeing one in Toronto when the Buffalo Bills host the New York Jets. Can you see a blackout?

Another night, another loss for the last place and winless Toronto Maple Leafs, this time 4-1 at the hands of the Colorado Avs. But good to see they're not panicking, as they're likely the first team this NHL season to start their third string goalie.

Why is it that airplanes still have the "no smoking" lights illuminated at every row of seats? Seriously, is there anybody that doesn't know you can't smoke on planes for, oh, the last 30 years or so?

Cannot believe the the Toronto Blue Jays had a couple offers for Alex Rios at the trade deadline, one from each of St. Louis and Boston, for some lesser prospects but that would take on his salary, and JP Ricciardi passed. There's already word that Ricciardi may land as an assistant with the New York Mets. How fitting. A disaster being foisted upon a disaster. "Foisted" is such a great word.

Is Brady Quinn on his way out of Cleveland? If he's not, then he's at least looking for a new place to live as his house is for sale. Maybe he's looking to downsize with a lockout looming in 2011. If starter du jour Derek Anderson went 2 of 17 Sunday against Buffalo and they're keeping him, that's quite the indictment on Quinn, no?

As smack goes, it is tough to top New York Giants Antonio Pierce saying that playing the Oakland Raiders on Sunday felt like they were merely scrimmaging.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Baseball's final four are set

What a great finish in yesterday's series closing win for the Philadelphia Phillies, 6-5 over the Colorado Rockies. The Rock's took a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the eighth inning and the Phillies roared back for four of their own in the top of the ninth. Not sure I recall the last time three of the four divisional round series were over in three games. Shame they're waiting so long to get the next round started. One thing I know for sure: of the remaining squads, the New York Yankees bullpen is far and away the best of the bunch. Been a long time since that applied. And A-Rod has thankfully shut down a lot of critics. A close second for my first round highlites was seeing Johnathan Papelbon pitch the Boston Red Sox out of the playoffs on Sunday.

Shocked. That's the only word I've got for not hearing these words today: "Dick Jauron has been relieved of his duties by the Buffalo Bills, effective immediately." That the Bills only gave up two completions to the lowly Cleveland Browns and still managed to lose a dull 6-3 game on Sunday should fire most coaches, nevermind one who is now 2-14 his last 16. Personally, I was hoping the Dallas Cowboys would lose their game at Kansas City on Sunday and see Wade Phillips hit the unemployment line. Not sure it is possible to hate a team I support more than I hate the Cowboys right now.

I never ever would have figured that Jon Gruden would turn out to be a glorified cheer leader on Monday Night Football. He's going to give Suck Chwirsky a run for biggest shill on a sports broadcast.

Don't look now, but the Prime Time Picks are at 5-6 on the year now and four of the last five.

So that plan for the Toronto Maple Leafs to be a tougher side physically and defensively to play against isn't exactly panning out to date, as the Leafs sit DFL - Dead Freaking Last - in the NHL and are winless to date. The Leafs were on the wrong end of a 7-2 curbstomping at the hands of the New York Rangers last night.

Have a great Tuesday.

Monday, October 12, 2009

PTP

Playing the Miami Dolphins tonight at -3, -105. Good luck!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sabathia's Grandfather?

If the Buffalo Bills are going to do anything this year, having the lowly Cleveland Browns in for a visit is as good a place to start as any. A loss and you can all but guarantee that Dick Jauron will be out as coach because, as the good people at ProFootballTalk note, they're 3-12 their last 15 going into this one.

The Sports Pickle has a great picture of CC Sabathia's could-be grandfather, who goes by the name of Jay-Z.

The Tennessee Titans may not be much on the field this year, but their cheerleaders are definitely something that they've got to be proud of.

A woeful 3-6 on the year for your Prime Time Picks (-434) but on the upside, we're 2 of 3 so hopefully a sign that last year's 60% could well happen again. For those unawares, 60% in sports gambling is a fantastic record. Tonight, the Indianapolis Colts visit winless Tennessee and the Colts are 5 point favs. While I generally avoid any road favs in a night game, it is tough to have any faith in the Titans when they've got nothing going on offence, get little pressure on defence, and are giving up big yardage to QB's nowhere near the level of Peyton Manning. Seems too easy, but am playing the Colts at -5.

It has been a great week for Detroit Tiger Miguel Cabrera. First the domestic dispute with his wife, then revelations he blew a .26 blood alcohol content that night after partying with the Chicago White Sox while his Tigers were blowing the AL Central lead they held since May 10th, a weekend he went hitless in. And now comes word that he had previously been advised to stay away from the hotel where he had been boozing after a previous incident in which he got on a fan about his weight and needing to hit the gym, and then when said fan and his friends voiced their disapproval, intimated he had a gun in his vehicle. Oh, the fan? He was 15. Well done, Miggy. Not sure how he gets on anybody about a lack of fitness, given his own portly frame.

Have a great day. Back with a PTP tomorrow.