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Saturday, December 4, 2010

Red Sox bust the block

A wild baseball weekend is shaping up: the Boston Red Sox are about to acquire Adrian Gonzalez from the San Diego Padres for a package of prospects. Helluva move when you don't touch your major league roster and pick up that kind of player. And then there are the New York Yankees: about to re-sign Derek Jeter for $19 million a year and three years, and you know how I feel about that, so a bit more of a response would be nice. Word is they're looking at inking Carl Crawford and dealing one of Nick Swisher or Brett Gardner is a good start, and the Cliff Lee chase is heating up. The Texas Rangers are also chasing Lee and looking at dealing for Zach Greinke, 2009's AL Cy Young award winner.

Qatar are going to build a 46,000 capacity stadium in a town with a population of 5,400.  Sometimes the jokes come without saying them.

How valuable is Dion Phaneuf to the Toronto Maple Leafs? Leafs have lost just 15 of 37 games he's played in regulation.  On the downside, they've won just 3 of 13 without him.

In English Premier League action, leaders Manchester United were to visit Blackpool, but the game has been postponed after a run of bad weather. The game of the day should be fourth place Manchester City hosting surprising sixth place Bolton, but a lot of interest in seeing whether Chelsea starts pulling it together in a month where they'll face United and Arsenal on back to back weekends. They're hosting Everton today.

The Ultimate Finale goes tonight from The Palms in Las Vegas. Michael Johnson faces Jonathan Brookins for a UFC contract at 155lb. I think Brookins has more game overall, and a bigger gas tank, and wins this one.  Catch it - free - on Rogers SportsNet Ontario at 8:30pm (Eastern).

Jayson Stark says that after Cliff Lee and - gasp! - Carl Pavano, the list of available free agent pitchers turns into gambles and reclamation projects.  Stark quotes a pair of baseball execs who laugh at the suggestion Lee is going anywhere but to the YankeesKen Rosenthal says the Rangers would be better off losing out on Lee.

Red Nation Online says that Toronto FC are in a solid salary cap position for a New York Red Bull-style reload for 2011.  Forgive me if I'm taking a firm "I'll see it when I believe it" approach.

Until winning its World Cup bid for 2022, here's what 113th ranked Qatar was best known for, a moment that came just weeks ago.

Everything you needed to know about Hip Hop.  Awesome.
THIS IS HIP-HOP! from Airwave Ranger on Vimeo.

Friday, December 3, 2010

World Cup, LeBron in C-Town, and the Leafs suck

So much for all the talk of England and especially the U.S. being slam dunks to host the World Cup in 2018 and 2022.  Instead, it'll be mob-run Russia taking the ball in 2018, and a whole-lot-more-head-scratchingly Qatar in 2022.  Yeah, a  World Cup in the desert in mid-summer, in a country that doesn't widely allow people to drink, what a great idea!  For their part, Qatar is saying that they plan on air conditioning outdoor stadiums.  At least that isn't ridiculous.

Not sure what my fav moment was in the Miami Heat blowout of the Cleveland Cavaliers last night: the "like father like son" chant in warm-ups (LeBron's dad, of course, left the family when he was a child), the  "We should have drafted Darko" sign, or one of the Cavs assistant coaches telling 'bron to, well, pretty sure you can read his lips here (oh, and LOADS more below the vid...just mixing things up):

And speaking of the Heat, my GOD is Chris Bosh ever invisible there.  He looks as lost as Rafael Araujo did in his Toronto Raptors days, and that is some tough task.

Did I hear Deion Sanders say about Michael Vick:  "From Levinsworth to the limelike"?  I think you mean "limelight", PrimeVick was fantastic in last night's entertaining 34-24 win (and Prime Time Pick win) over the Houston Texans.

What could Rogers buying Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment mean for Hockey Night in Canada?  The end, speculates the Toronto Star.  

In case you didn't know, Dan Shulman is the new lead guy on Sunday Night Baseball.  This is a very, very good thing.

A breath of fresh air is new Toronto Raptor Jerryd Bayless, who writes in this piece of how excited he was to come to Toronto, and how excited he is to be a Raptor.  He keeps up with that attitude and he'll be a far greater fan fav than a defensively bankrupt never-was who holds up six fingers to indicate a three pointer.  Thanks to Boris D for that linkage.

A good week is about to kick off for the New York Yankees. Mariano Rivera is about to sign a two-year, $30 million deal today, after turning down three-years and $45 million (or more) from the Boston Red Sox, who clearly don't trust Jonathan Papelbon, and the LA Angels of Anaheim.  Hope you're paying attention, Captain Jeter.  The Cliff Lee chase is going to get heated up, with some predicting it'll be done before the end of next week, and Jeter should re-sign too with talk the Yankees may slightly - and wrongly - up their 3-year $45 million offer.

One thing this sports fan could do without: the big story of Tuesday-Friday of each NFL week being what guys are being fined.  Heard one laughable stat that Richard Seymour's fine for punching Ben Roethlesberger amounted to one quarter of a percent of his annual salary.  Yeah, that'll hurt.  So for the average guy making $50,000 a year, that's $125.  Back breaking stuff it is not.

None of Phil Jackson's 11 championship teams has ever lost four straight games in a season, something this year's LA Lakers have already accomplished.

Christmas gift idea for a New York Yankee fan: PlayStation 3/XBox MLB 10 The Show, because Derek Jeter will still be half decent in it.  Next year's edition won't be so kind.  If anybody has that game or another sitting in their desk drawer, send it my way.

So sour that the powder LeBron James throws up before the game wasn't swapped out for anthrax.

So the alleged Public Enemy #1 in Ottawa Dany Heatley made his first return to Ottawa with the San Jose Sharks last night and was met with plenty of empty seats.  Speculation is a rumor was floated that Heatley would be driving one of the buses moving fans out to Kanata.

Somehow, this guy dated Kate Moss.  What a freaking world.

Explain to me how Ron Wilson still is employed as coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs?  When they're not blowing late leads like they did again to Tampa Bay a couple nights ago, they're getting shut out by last year's league doormat, the Edmonton Oilers, home.  Predictably, fans booed.  But they'll be back next game, they always are.  And if you're wondering, that makes you more sucker than fan.

Best hockey goal celebration ever?  Easy button?  Awesome.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Lyin' King comes home

If you are like most basketball fans, odds are you're pulling - heavy - for the Cleveland Cavaliers to dish out a little bit of revenge to LeBron James tonight when he brings his talents back to C-Town for the first time with his Miami Heat.  Cavs fans have a little something ready for LeBron too, as this official chant sheet - split out by 6 minute intervals each quarter - shows.  And if Cavs fans have been bringing signs already this season, am guessing they're going to paper the place like Monday Night Raw tonight.

Houston visit Philadelphia tonight in NFL action.  Considering what Michael Vick did the last time he was on Prime Time TV against Washington, he may break records tonight against a team as horrible against the pass as the Texans are.  I'm playing the Eagles at -8.5 for the Prime Time Pick.  I don't normally like going over a total at 51, but this one could be threatened early.

And your World Cup hosts for 2018 and 2022 are (drum roll)...being announced at 9:30am (Eastern).  You can watch here. If the stories are to be believed, Qatar has moved ahead of the U.S. as the likely winner for 2022.  Can't imagine what the rea$on$ behind that might be. 

This NFL season represents the first time in 51 years that every team has at least two losses at this point in the season.

A WWE themed wedding?  Sure, why not?  Not sure what I liked better, the Bret "Hitman" Hart routine, complete with sunglasses, the "Orient Express" entrance music for the Asian couple (Bill Parcells "Jap plays" think that was over the top), the Best Man rocking the theme from Karate Kid, or the groom going Mr. Perfect with his hankerchief...or Howard Finkel in house to announce it all.  Awesome.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Rogers to buy Leafs/Raptors/TFC/Marlies?

Rogers Communications is in talks to drop $1.3 billion to buy the Ontario Teacher's Pension Fund'sMaple Leaf Sports and Entertainment share in .  The move would make Rogers the largest shareholder in MLSE, and give them control of the Maple Leafs, Raptors, Toronto FC and the Marlies, the Air Canada Centre, Ricoh and BMO Field, in addition to their ownership of the Blue Jays and their building.  That'd be some powerhouse of an ownership group, but if I'm a Jays fan, can't imagine I'm thrilled to be in bed with the Leafs, who dominate all things Toronto.  Glad to see my monthly contributions to Rogers by my cell, cable, internet and home phone bills aren't at all profitable.  At least they get those right, their sporting record is poor, at best, if you consider their Jays run and how well their "Bills in Toronto" investment has gone.  Buried in all that talk is word that MLSE President Richard Peddie will be packing it in on December 31st.  Unfortunately, 2011 and not 2010.  He's a shoe-in to be Gary Bettman's speech writer, given how well he does smug through repeated failure.

A thief, and the suspicion is it is somebody that knew the family and certainly the circumstances, broke into the van of Pat Burns widow during his funeral and snagged a bunch of memorabilia that was due for a charity auction.  If there is a hell, that clown has a special spot reserved I'm hoping.

As if the Minnesota Vikings weren't already treating their fanbase so well this season, with one circus after the next, they're upped the ante: they're talking moving to Los Angeles now.  The Vikes lease at the Metrodome expires after next season, whether there is one or not.

If you're at all an NBA fan, and want a great look at the drama queens that are the Miami Heat, check out this podcast with Bill Simmons and Dan Le Batard in which they dissect where the Heat are, and where they're goingSimmons figures Chris Bosh will be ultimately dealt - I'm hoping somewhere really happening like Sacramento or Memphis - while Le Batard says it'll be Dwayne Wade that gets moved.  Great stuff.  The Heat, if you haven't heard, are in Cleveland tomorrow night.

At even strength, where he plays the majority of his shifts, Toronto Maple Leaf winger Phil Kessel is tied for 160th in NHL scoring. He's 2 points ahead of defenceman, and not exactly scoring machine, Mike Komisarek.  Oh, and the Leafs blew a 3-1 lead and lost in overtime to the Tampa Bay Lightning.  Can Ron Wilson anytime now, will you?

Another week in the NFL books, another fine for Pittsburgh Steeler James Harrison.  This time, Harrison was fined for a helmet shot to the chest of Buffalo Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick who was allegedly defenceless.  Looking at it, seems Zinedine Zidane's famed head butt to Marco Materazzi in the World Cup final of 2006 was a stiffer shot, minus pads, and didn't get dinged $25k if I recall.

Jim Rome says Derek Jeter doesn't just need to drink some "reality potion", as someone in the New York Yankees organization has suggested, but that a keg of would be more appropriate.  When one of the top shortstops in the game - in his prime - in Troy Tulowitzki signs for $16 million a year, how does Jeter figure he's worth more?

Tomorrow, FIFA will announce which nations will play host to the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.  There's a breakdown for 2018 here, for which Russia is the fav, and one here for 2022, for which the United States is expected to win the bidding.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Barcelona bitch-slap Real Madrid

Barcelona left no doubt who the best side in Spain, if not the world, are after an absolute dominant performance against visiting Real Madrid. Barca shredded the Real defence wide, in the middle, over the top...whatever way they wanted to attack they did, and rendered guys like Mehmet Ozil and Cristiano Ronaldo invisible. Damn impressive. 5-0 final, and could've pushed double that with the odd break.  Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho says Real weren't humiliated says , as the loss is easy to deal with given how emphatic it was. Deadspin has the highlites here if you missed it.

Jon Heyman at takes a look at MLB's hot stove league, which should heat up considerably in the coming days, and where certain players may end up.

How important is Tom Brady in the New England area?  Important enough that stories about whether he's having hair transplant treatments makes the news.

ESPN Radio's Colin Cowherd says Derek Jeter is the "family values politician who has an affair...selling one thing and doing another".  Presumably he means selling he's all about team?  Cowherd also argues that Jeter has been overpaid his entire career because power hitters and aces make the kind of money he's made, not guys whose numbers compare to Alan Trammell, Barry Larkin and Roberto Alomar historically.  He finished comparing Johnny Damon's 2009 against Jeter's 2010.  Damon hit .283 with 82 RBI and a .365 OBP, Jeter .270, 67 RBI and .340.  The Yankees wouldn't pay Damon, who Cowherd says was still better defensively and more useful at the top of the order, $7 million.  So offering Jeter $15 million is extremely generous.  Interesting take.  Oh, and someone in the Yankees camp says that Jeter needs to take a "reality potion". Remember how sour Jeter was for years after A-Rod's comments about Jeter never having to lead and it being different hitting in the #2 hole?  Have to figure this has him carrying a lifelong grudge by comparison.

NFL jersey's...camouflage style.  No, for real. If you rock one of these, you're a certifiable piece of trash.

The Miami Heat are said to be questioning whether Erik Spoelstra is the right coach for them.  I'm going to guess he's got a few issues with the make-up of his team in response.  So if they move to Pat Riley and they remain a poor team, albeit a better than .500 team, what then?  Here's a damning stat: LeBron James has 11 offensive boards on the entire season.  11.  0.6 per game.  If that isn't the sign of a guy content to put it up from the outside, or watch someone else do the dirty work, I don't know what is.  That average represents a career low.  

I couldn't even count how many versions of the same we've had, but here's the latest look at the top WAG's - wives and girlfriends - in the soccer world.  A top 50, if you will.

If you like your toast in the morning, maybe you'll like it even more with the logo of your favorite team burnt onto it?  Warning: word is the Toronto Blue Jays version sees the toast pop out extra early.

Best interception ever?

In a month that has been polluted by creepy 'stache's, it is only fitting that the close of the month sees the ante raised with "Hedo Rick" and his dance below.

The final submission for FIFA Goal of the Year comes from Barcelona's Lionel Messi with this gem against Valencia.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin...

Wonder if the Indianapolis Colts still think not going for perfection last year was worth it?  Since then, they were upset in the Super Bowl and have slid badly this year. But hey, they gave Peyton Manning a massive contract. Some of these things are more a cause of their problems than others. And why was Manning still in the game last night with 4 minutes left trailing the San Diego Chargers 36-14?  Oh, and the Colts are 6-7 their last 13.

Can we all finally agree that the myth of "Grey Cup games are always great" is permanently dead and buried?  That has no more truth to it than "Super Bowl's are boring". Lately, the latter has produced far more entertaining games than the three down version has. Oh, and Montreal beat Saskatchewan 21-18 to repeat. And just when I thought the NFL had the market cornered on halftime acts older than God, the Grey Cup exhumes Bachman Turner, and not quite sure what happened to Overdrive, for yesterday's half-time show in Edmonton. Literally can't think of another act that is older and alive to say "what, 'x' weren't available?"

New York Giant Brandon Jacobs was fined for obscene gestures and obscenities after last week's visit to Philadelphia.  Isn't that kind of like fining tourists for speaking Italian in Rome?

The Buffalo Bills had every opportunity to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers yesterday in regulation and overtime, including a dropped pass in the endzone that Stevie Johnson had both hands on.  That led to Johnson going to Twitter to question, well, God, as you can see at right.

Sidney Crosby is the only player in the entire NHL scoring more than a point a game at even strength.

After Saturday's 3-0 loss in Ottawa, that's five shoutouts on the road of the allegedly ornery and tough Toronto Maple Leafs. Teams that get shut out that regularly not only lack talent, they lack commitment, and defenceman Luke Schenn called out some teammates for playing soft.

Under coach Tom Coughlin, the Giants are 25-32 from November through the end of the season.  They picked up one of those wins yesterday with an impressive comeback against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Chelsea continued their recent struggles with a draw at Newcastle United, which, when mixed in with Manchester United's 7-1 beatdown of Blackburn, in which Dimitar Berbatov scored five times, sends United top of the table alone.  Fantastic game yesterday between Tottenham and Liverpool, with the Spurs winning 2-1 with a last gasp goal from Aaron Lennon.  Not sure there are teams with more dynamic midfields than the Spurs send out in Lennon, Luka Modric, Rafael Van der Vaart and Gareth Bale.

An anonymous NFLer writes in ESPN The Magazine that he figures four in ten NFLers are using HGH.

In the minutes after actor Leslie Nielsen died, the Sports Pickle got off this gem on Twitter: "Leslie Nielsen died? That sucks. Shoulda been you, Detective Nordberg." Nordberg, of course, was the character played by O.J. Simpson in the classic comedy starring Nielsen, Naked Gun. Perhaps Nielsen died returning a pair of sunglasses to Nordberg's ex-wife?

The New York Knicks are 6-4 in their last 10 games, while the Miami Heat are 4-6.  It could be worse, it isn't like LeBron James is bumping into his coach.  Oh...wait...nevermind.

Toronto FC fans can vote for one of five submissions for one of the teams uniforms.  Personally, option one wins in a weak, uninspired field overall.  Kinda like TFC for most of 2010.

As far as match-ups go, they don't get much bigger or better than Spanish and global soccer powerhouses Real Madrid and Barcelona locking horns at 3pm Eastern today on GolTVReal Madrid manager Jose Mourinho has the mind games full on ahead of this one, while Cristiano Ronaldo is downplaying talk that this is a match pitting him against Lionel Messi, the two best players in the world in most books.  We know this much for sure: not everybody likes Messi, as you can see in this video from last week's Champions League game in Greece.

It isn't often that football fights are particularly violent, but Houston Texan Andre Johnson took Tennessee Titans dirt merchant Cortland Finnegan to the woodshed in a pounding that you can see here.  Love it, AJ.

Check out this kid falling from the stands in the UCLA/Arizona State game on the weekend.  Word is he not only was fine, but didn't even shed a tear.  Tough kid.

And finally, Linus Hallenius delivers another FIFA Goal of the Year candidate for Hammarby.  This has to be my fav of the bunch.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Prime Time Pick

Playing San Diego tonight at +2.5, liking them to win the game outright obviously. Back tomorrow with a big entry after a big sports weekend.