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Saturday, October 9, 2010

Ankiel slays Giants

For openers today, in honour of what should be the official start of the NHL season - it being Saturday after all - we've got The Sports Pickle's Official 2010/11 NHL pickup lines.  By the way, nice tramp stamp, Ovechkin.

The Cincinnati Reds went "slo-pitch squad" in the 7th inning last night, with mistakes you have to see to believe. That, as part of four errors and three hit batsmen by the Reds, helped the Phillies rally to a 7-4 win to take a 2-0 lead in the series.

Sometimes redemption takes a long time to come around, but after one-time pitcher Rick Ankiel, who famously couldn't find the plate in a playoff game a decade ago and switched to outfield permanently, brought the Atlanta Braves back to even footing with a dramatic 11th inning homer yesterday to give the Bravos a 5-4 win in San Francisco.  Both NL game three's go tomorrow.

A pair of MLB playoff games today, American League only after last night's all-NL schedule. In two games, the Tampa Bay Rays have eight hits and one run.  Makes their freaking out over a checked swing not called a strike three in game two ring pretty hollow, even if it led to a run.  They've got Matt Garza on the hill today facing Colby Lewis, 5:07pm first pitch.  The Rangers, of course, are up 2-0.  The New York Yankees go home to try to close out the Minnesota Twins, with Phil Hughes and Brian Duensing the starters.  I'm thinking the Rays win one with a strong Garza outing, and the Yanks close out Minny.

The Brett Favre news went to the mainstream media yesterday, and Deadspin sums up the coverage here.  Jason Whitlock says that "Roger Goodell needs to resolve this prickly dilemna" and that this makes the Jets/Ines Sainz issue earlier in the year seem like a "bunch of third graders playing spin the bottle."  Whitlock also says that if the media had a field day on Tiger Woods once they got his voicemails, they should be doing same with Favre.  Love Whitlock.  The NFL now admits it is looking into the allegations, and there is even more stories coming out about Favre's act in NYC.

It is a dark weekend for soccer leagues around the Europe with another bout of  Euro 2012 qualifying slated for yesterday and today.  Only two games today with France hosting Romania and Israel hosting Croatia.  Yesterday, Italy were held to a shocking draw at Northern Ireland, who aren't exactly powerhouses.  Portugal got off the schneid with a 3-1 win over Denmark, and the shocker of the day saw Serbia lose - at home - to EstoniaRest of the games wrapped up here.  All the games and scores here.

The good news for Manchester United: they had a record operating profit last year of £100.8.   The bad news: they still lost £83.64 million.  With the Boston Red Sox set to own Man U's rival Liverpool, am hoping that the New York Yankees get in and save Man U from this mess.

Alex Rodriguez his last 19 playoff games: batting .368 with five doubles, 7HR, 20 RBI and 18 runs.

Have a great Saturday, back with more tomorrow.

Friday, October 8, 2010

OHB exposed

For months now, there have been rumors about Brett Favre being less than the faithful husband while he was in New York with the Jets.  Well, what a coincidence then that just days before Favre and his Minnesota Vikings are to visit the Jets on Monday Night, out comes voicemails with someone who, if it isn't Favre, is one great impersonator who is creeping on a 25-year old Jets sideline reporter, and knows a lot about the Jets staff, and, well, there are some pecker shots text messaged as well.  Deadspin provides the evidence.  Wonder if Roger Goodell, umm, cock blocks Favre?   Note: this is the first time he's been referred to by name in these parts in over two years.  Wanted there to be no confusion who was being referred to.  There's video below of Favre getting asked about the reports at the bottom.

The San Francisco Giants opened their playoff series with the Atlanta Braves with a 1-0 win, led by Tim Lincecum's 14 strikeouts.  I predicted that would be a really low scoring series, but didn't figure on a 1-0 game.

The Tampa Bay Rays are done, for all intents and purposes.  After dropping game one at home, they came back and were lifeless in a 6-0 whitewash at the hands of the Texas Rangers.  Now, I routinely hammer the five game set as being not a legitimate test when a team just played 162 to get there, but the way the Rays are playing, they might even prefer if it was a 2-of-3 and call it a day.

Then there are the New York Yankees and their wholly owned subsidiary, the Minnesota Twins.  The Yanks won again last night, 5-2, to run their record in Minnesota to 7-0 in playoff games.  The Twins have had 11 leads in the last seven playoff games against the Yanks and have blown every one of them, losing all those games.  They weren't so unfortunate last night as the Yanks went wire to wire with another strong Andy Pettitte playoff performance.  For those that haven't been paying attention, Curtis Granderson is on fire the last month plus.  Since 1997, there have been 66 playoff saves of greater than one inning pitched, and Mariano Rivera has 31 of them.  31 of Rivera's 41 career playoff saves are more than one inning pitched.  He might or might not get the most saves record, but is there any doubt he's the best there is, was or ever will be?

Up today,  Cincinnati tries to get a hit in Philly at 6:07, and the Atlanta Braves try to score a run in game two of their series in San Francisco, 9:37 first pitch, all times Eastern.

The Buffalo Bills will be blacked out for the first time since 2006, with 12,000 tickets left unsold.  What, the entire world doesn't want to see them host Jacksonville?

What is it with wives, present and former, of Roberto Alomor saying that he had unprotected sex with them as an HIV carrier?  Maybe that's why the current wife is divorcing him?

Former Tampa Bay Buc Derrick Ward gets off one of the blasts a team never wants to hear: his former teams doesn't actually want to win.  Ouch.

Yep, as predicted, Facebook is on fire with lame Leafs and Habs smack, as if one game in early October means a bloody thing.  Word is the Leafs won 3-2?

This is called "winning a trade": the New England Patriots gave up a 4th round pick for Randy Moss when they acquired him.  A few years later, they dealt him for a 3rd rounder.

Check out the Vikings press conference yesterday in which the subject of Brett Favre's stalking voicemails and more came up.  Love that he said "I've got my hands full".  Sure did!  Haven't seen someone haul that hard off a water bottle since Roger Clemens was getting grilled after his steroid allegations came up.

I'm really happy for Roy Halladay, who by all accounts is as solid a guy as he is a pitcher.  But the world did not need this.  Dude did it in his mirror, no less.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Roy Throws a No-Hitter

Roy Halladay is probably wondering why he didn't get out of Toronto sooner if this is what playoff baseball is for him.  A no-hitter to open the NLDS, including driving in a run, as his Philadelphia Phillies beat the Cincinnati Reds 4-0.  Not sure one hitter really had a hope yesterday.  Having a laugh at the Twitterverse putting him up there with Don Larsen.  Didn't know that throwing a no hitter in the divisional round was the same as throwing a perfect game in the World Series.

The New York Yankees rallied from a 3-0 deficit and ultimately were 6-4 winners after Mark Teixera broke a 4-4 tie with a 2-run Tex Message into the right field stands.  If you're in to patterns, last year, Alex Rodriguez opened game one of the divisional series with Minnesota with a fly to right field, then a strikeout, before getting on his third at-bat and going on to dominate the playoffs.  Last night?  Opened with a flyout to right field and then a strikeout, then worked a walk into a stolen base and scored the Yanks second run.  If September's AL Player of the Month stays hot, could get real interesting for the Yanks.  The Yanks have to be salivating over facing former teammate Carl Pavano tonight at 6:07pm.

Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon has set himself up for some serious second guessing going with James Shields in Game 2, especially after losing the opener 5-1 led by a dominant Cliff Lee. Shields allowed 246 hits this year, tied with Mark Buehrle for most in the bigs.  The Rangers will send a hot CJ Wilson to the bump.  One reason to cheer against the Rays: Maddon, who I generally like, is encouraging Rays fans to show up to the park in plaid.  As if the cowbells weren't annoying to one sense, now they're aiming to assault your vision, too.

The New York Islanders top line has John Tavares earning $900k, $800k to Blake Comeau and $600k  to P.A. Parenteau for a total of $2.3 million.  By way of comparison, the New Jersey Devils have eight forwards making more than that individually.

Seriously, I have a hard time believing that the New York Yankees (1) create (2) sell and (3) have any of their fans buy this stuff.  I generally don't buy gear with dates on it, and certainly don't buy it for a Wild Card for a team that has won 27 World Championships and has been a playoff fixture since 1995 save for one year.

On the heals of the Randy Moss deal back to Minnesota, Moss will become just the 6th player to play 17 games in a season since bye was instituted in 1990.  That assumes, of course, that he stays healthy.  For the record, the Pats won no rings with Moss in the lineup.  Jason Whitlock says that the move reeks of desperation for the Vikes.

There are five NHL games on tonight to open their far-too-long schedule, including the Montreal Canadiens visiting the Toronto Maple Leafs, which can only mean one thing: Facebook is about to be inundated with a lot of ridiculous posts about how the losing team sucks based on one game.  Watch baseball tonight people, at least that actually means something right now.

Merely the latest best thing ever...

A ridiculous goal scored in Northern Ireland.  Be sure to watch closely.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Playoff time!

Texas and Tampa Bay will get the MLB playoffs under way at 1:37pm (Eastern), with Cincinnati at Philadelphia at 5:07 followed by the New York Yankees in Minnesota at 8:37.  Gonna be a good day for sports. The Big Lead has a great little feature: The 2010 Hater's Guide to The MLB Playoffs.  What is most impressive in this is the sheer consistency of the bile spewed.  Worth printing off and enjoying over a few coldies tonight.
It started innocently enough last night with Bill Simmons - aka The Sports Guy - thinking he was direct messaging someone on Twitter.  Instead, he posted a blurb for all to see that he had information that the New England Patriots were going to move Randy Moss to the Minnesota Vikings.  Shortly after, Twitter threatened to take down the internet for all the word flowing after that. Looks like the deal could be completed as soon as this morning.  Makes next week's visit by the Dallas Cowboys to Minny even more interesting: revenge plot for last year's playoffs, and Moss has historically shown up big against the team he most resents for not drafting him.  Somehow, you have to figure the Pats know what they're doing here.  Moss does have only nine catches on the season.  Edit: ESPN is reporting the deal is now done.

Liverpool looks like they'll have new ownership any minute, and replacing American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett could be John Henry.  Yes, the very same John Henry that owns the Boston Red Sox.  Personal Hate Level: climbing.  There's an Asian bid in the mix too, and the current owners are fighting for their lives against a board that is pushing them out the door.  Meantime, Liverpool sits third last in the English Premier League.  "Disaster" might not be the most accurate word, but it is the first that springs to mind.  Edit: And now comes word that the purchase by John Henry and the Sox ownership is now complete.

It is getting better for Tour de France champion Alberto Contador, and by better, I mean "worse".  The latest is his blood has shown traces of plastic in it consistent with having had a transfusion performed, something that he previously denied, and of course, is performance enhancing.  But hey, his people say he didn't do it.  Good enough then.

The danger of deferred money for sports teams is gobs of "dead" money down the road.  The Detroit Tigers are looking at around $13 million in dead money next year payable to Gary Sheffield, Pudge Rodriguez, Maglio Ordonez, Edgar Renteria, and Jose Valverde, who at least remains with the team.  The Tigers will be paying Gary Sheffield between $1million - $2.5 million between 2010 and 2019.  Ouch.

In a year of great baseball injuries, it is never too late to add another to the pile.  Baltimore Oriole Brian Roberts admitted a couple days ago that the concussion-like symptoms he's been feeling the last couple days might be from getting hit in the head by a bat.   Swung by one Brian Roberts.

Thanks to our friends to the south, the 25 Funniest Defaced Dollar Bills.

The New York Rangers may have sent Wade Redden to the minors but it isn't all bad for the $6.45 million man. While in the AHL, he won't be paying an 18% escrow payment so he effectively got a raise. Further, there is no state tax in Connecticut so Redden is going to make more money than ever.
Since 2001, the Detroit Lions are 8-66 on the road.

So Dwayne Wade lasted all of three minutes and change last night in the Miami Heat's pre-season opener before leaving with a bad hamstring.  Looks like my voodoo doll is in mid-season form.  Wait til I start poking at Chris Bosh and Lebron James knees.

For the Jays fans out there, here's a look at all 54 of  Jose Bautista's home runs this year.  Nice editing work from the Jays though, cutting out the ball actually leaving the park so you can't count how many landed in an empty seat at Rogers Centre.

I love a game show trainwreck, and there are all kinds here in the Top 10 Dumbest Answers in Family Feud History.  And nothing better than a ridiculous answer followed up by "good answer!"

Think San Francisco Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum is ready for the playoffs?  Check this out.  Warning: objectionable language for some that may be around you.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Back after a day on the down low after a wild one in Buffalo on Sunday.  The game sucked, but had a great time.

The MLB playoffs are set to start tomorrow, and the first round is never one I'm fond of with the far-too-short best of five format which can see a team that had a far better regular season wiped out in a few days.  That said, in the American League, I'm liking the New York Yankees to take out Minnesota in four, the Tampa Bay Rays to take out Texas in three.  In the National League, I'm going to pick San Francisco to take out Atlanta in five low scoring games, and the Philadelphia Phillies will wipe out Cincinnati in three games.  With regard to the Twins, they'll be minus Justin Morneau for the duration of the playoffs, still suffering from post-concussion symptoms suffered in July.  Would like to see him out there, frankly, Yankee loyalties aside.

Toronto Maple Leafs draft pick of 2009 Nazem Kadri's, sent down to the Marlies in the AHL yesterday, would have made an NHL salary of $810,000 had he made the big club. Kadri's AHL salary: $67,500. Or broken down: $4500 a day in NHL; $375 a hockey season day in AHL.  That'll get you motivated if anything does.  Personally, I'm glad he's down, mostly so we can stop with the coverage that is treating him like he's the second  coming of Gretzky in Toronto.

A fantastic piece here from a Toronto FC blog called View From The South Stands (no, it isn't me) that looks at Dwayne De Rosario's consisting whining over his contract, an annual event now going back into his days in Houston.

Bad news for those that can't stand the grunting/screaming of a tennis match.  Research suggests that the louder the grunt, the more likely the player is to hit a winning shot.

Buster Olney's pick's for the MLB awards for the 2010 season: NL MVP: Joey Votto. AL MVP: Robinson Cano. AL Cy Young: Felix HernandezNL Cy Young: Roy Halladay. AL Rookie of the Year: Pedro Feliz NL Rookie of the Year: Buster Posey. AL Manager of the Year: Ron Gardenhire.  NL Manager of the Year: Bud Black.  I could see all of those coming through, though I think David Price and CC Sabathia are better Cy Young choices than a 13-12 guy who skipped his last start to stay above .500, ostensibly.

Not sure I remember a team ever giving up more special teams big plays than what the Miami Dolphins did last night.  That was comical, unless you're a Fish fan.  New England stomped the Dolphins 41-14, and more important, Prime Time Picks are now at 66.7% on the season.

By the way, if you've not checked out HBO's Boardwalk Empire yet, be sure to get on it.  Exceeds the hype coming in.

Manchester City's Nigel de Jong, who famously drop kicked Spain's Xavi in the World Cup final, is back to his butchering ways, this time breaking the leg of Newcastle United's Hatem Ben Arfa with a nasty tackle that broke both his fibula and tibula.  Not for the squeamish. 

Counties Manukau loose forward Fritz Lee has been suspended for three weeks for a dangerous tackle on Northland scrum-half Luke Hamilton.  Translation: dude delivered a hell of a clothesline.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Most NFL eyes will be focused on Philadelphia today, where Donovan McNabb makes his return with the rival Washington Redskins to face the Eagles, led by Michael Vick at QB. Guessing when McNabb lobbied Eagles management to bring Vick in, he probably didn't figure it would end this way.

Why the Boston Red Sox could bounce back real strong next year: they had their full lineup for only eight games all year.  Presumably, they don't have Josh Beckett and John Lackey combine for a 4.99 ERA next year either.

Girl power?  A recent graduate at Duke produced a PowerPoint that has gone public detailing all her hook-ups, including several with known athletes at the school, and breaking each down into impressive detail on conversations, crank size and so on.  Funny that she deducted points for "rudeness or being Canadian".

Pittsburgh Steeler Hines Ward says that 18-game NFL seasons will shorten careers.  Wait a minute.  You mean to tell me that if you have a limited quantity of something and you increase the frequency with which you do it, said quantity disappears more readily?   Smart man, that Hines.  Guess he didn't figure out that shorter careers also lead to fewer contracts leading to more controllable salary scales.  Ultimately, people don't care if a guy plays five years or six, as long as the guy coming in is perceived to be as good or better.  Looking forward to someone reminding Ward his blind-side "blocks" also shorten careers.

The New York Mets are finally going to do what most have expected for well over the last year: they're going to tie a can to GM Omar Minaya and manager Jerry Manuel.  Somewhere, Joe Torre is placing phone calls.

Lord Alan Sugar, a prominent government member in England, spoke on foreign ownership of English Premier League teams and said he has fears over the futures of Liverpool and Manchester United, both heavily leveraged by their owners and paying massive sums just to cover off interest payments.  He raises some good, an ominous, points.

Steve Davis at looks at Toronto FC's Dwayne De Rosario's act last week and how it illustrates the problems of the "designated player" rule in the MLS, which allows teams to sign three players that only count for a limited number against the salary cap.

Bill Simmons - The Sports Guy - took some real heat for a column saying that he was rooting for Michael Vick and talked of the hypocrisy of people - himself included - in condemning his dog fighting ways.  For those that don't have ESPN Insider, I'll include this Deadspin piece on it that includes the key points.  The last point on his having paid his debt and seemingly being rehabilitated is dead on in my book.

Playing the New York Giants tonight at -3.5 as the Prime Time Pick.  Not loving that one, but always like to take a team in a pretty desperate situation at home, particularly when facing a team that has overachieved this year in the Chicago Bears and coming off a short week after their Monday Night win over Green Bay.  The Giants have out-gained their opponent in their two losses so far, and if Eli Manning can stop turning the ball over, they should take care of business tonight.

Off to Buffalo. Go Bills!