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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Quick one today, as Christmas festivities get into full swing.

Another big weekend in the English Premier League this weekend got mostly wiped out by snow in England, headlined by Manchester United visiting Chelsea tomorrow, where they have not won a game in eight years. No idea when they'll be made up.

After Thursday's beatdown in San Diego, the San Francisco 49ers have now lost five games this season by 18 or more points.

The Miami Heat seem to have found their stride, winning their 11th straight last night in New York.

The NCAA bowl season gets under way today with the barn burning New Mexico Bowl that will pit a pair of 6-6 teams head to head.  I can barely contain my yawn.  Here's a full list of all the match-ups, a bit of a preview and a watchability rating.

Check out the 75 best protest signs of 2010.  #5 is my fav.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Check out the absolutely incredible headkick by Anthony Pettis last night in his WEC 53 bout with Ben Henderson, in what may have been the best MMA fight I've ever, ever seen.  That'll be the last WEC event as that organization and its array of lightning fast, small fighters gets folded into parent company UFC in 2011.  Pettis won the wild bout with Henderson in a five round decision.

The Champions League draw for the round of 16 games went off this morning, and here's what we've got: AS Roma-Shakhtar, a lock-to-be-entertaining AC Milan-Tottenham Spurs matchup, Valencia-Schalke, Inter Milan-Bayern Munich in a rematch of the 2010 final, Lyon-Real Madrid, a juicy Arsenal-Barcelona matchup, Marseille-Manchester United, and FC Copenhagen-Chelsea.

The 50 dirtiest players in sports history, complete with video evidence.  Love it.

Finally, that overpaid, sack and interception prone Minnesota Vikings QB has been put on the IR and is done for the year.  No, not Brett Favre unfortunately, the other one.

Just in case you missed Boston Celtic Nate Robinson's face plant in New York a couple nights ago, here it is. 

We mentioned a few days back that the New York Yankees are taking a flyer on Mark Prior.  Great tweet from Joel Sherman of the New York Post: "Story from March 4, 2011: Prior looks great in #Yankees camp. Story from March 22, 2011, Prior to see Dr. James Andrews."  Not exactly a reach, is it?

Christmas wishes, delivered by Chicago White Sox Manager Ozzie Guillen, as only he could possibly deliver them.

What is it with them Terry boys and other guys women?  First John Terry, Chelsea captain, gets with then-teammate Wayne Bridge's ex, creating severe tension and a split from the English national team for Bridge, and now we get word that JT's brother Paul was having an affair with a lady whose boyfriend was - you guessed it - a teammate of Paul's, who then proceeded to hang himself.  Their mom will be so proud at Christmas!

HBO has always been known as an envelope pushing network in terms of the content it runs.  But Washington Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau is taking the language to levels that The Sopranos, Entourage and Boardwalk Empire might find embarrassing in the new series 24/7 that follows the Caps and Pittsburgh Penguins around ahead of their New Year's Day Winter ClassicMore here.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

For a change, a brief one

The NFL's lead negotiator says that the key piece in their view towards labour piece is an 18-game schedule.  So here's how this play's out: the NFL wants to ratchet down the percentage paid out to players.  The players don't want to lose money.  So throw them a little cut on the former, with a gain on the latter thanks to an additional 12.5% on the schedule, mix in some better benefits and pension upon retirement, see a season in 2011. 

Orlando Magician Dwight Howard says his days in the Slam Dunk Contest are done.  Also done?  The Slam Dunk Contest.  Long past due.

Not sure who owns this Cleveland Browns bus, but it sure is awesome.

The Phillies now have as many players making $20 million or more (Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, Ryan Howard) as the New York Yankees (Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia).  Unlike the rest, only Sabathia and Texeira are under 30.  Think this Phillies fan is a bit excited that Lee is back in town?  Do not look at that link if you've got vertigo.

Refreshing hearing UFC boss Dana White muse on the judging in sports and shake his head and say "ours have to be the worst" during a visit to the George Strombolopolous show a couple days ago.  You'd never hear boxing, figure skating or others that rely on judges ever criticize their judges like that. Of course, it is each commission that provides the judges, not the UFC

The Sports Pickle looks at what being a fan of certain teams says about you.

The San Francisco 49ers are the sacrificial lamb being served up tonight in Thursday night NFL action when they visit the San Diego Chargers.  It may seem a suckers bet for how easy it appears, but we're playing the Bolts -9.5 tonight, and you should too.

Wild brawl in Russia's KHL, all of six seconds into the game.  I'm sure it wasn't pre-planned or staged in any way, it is just the passion that can errupt in a game that is six seconds old.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Jets tripping

Now that he's retired, Brett Favre and his true love - no, not Jenn Sterger - finally got around to getting married like they've long planned yesterday.  Good luck, you crazy kids.

Seems the New York Jets defence isn't taking well to coach Rex Ryan saying they weren't good enough on Sunday in their 10-6 loss to Miami Says defensive end Shaun Ellis: "I guess we needed a shutout."  Think there's a divide in that team between the offence and defence?  I'd bet that.  Hard.  Former Miami Dolphin (among others) Zach Thomas looks at the tripping incident Sunday in the Jets/Dolphins game and provides pretty compelling evidence that the Jets lined up people to get in the way intentionally with Sal Alosi tripping a Dolphin, as we all now know.  Dirty.

Very classy of UEFA boss Michel Platini and FIFA boss Sepp Blatter to pile on the losing bids for the World Cups in 2018 and 2022.  Platini calls the Qatar win for 2022 "something beautiful" while BlatterEngland "bad losers" called for their complaints in the aftermath of the 2018 vote in which Blatter declared England the best technical bid that ended up receiving all of two votes, most likely given Blatter's huge influence over the lesser lights that comprise most of the voting committee.  Franz Beckenbauer, as respected a man as there is in the game, hammered FIFA for the leaking of vote totals, which were to be secret, and said he's lost confidence in the organization of which he is a part.  Oh, it gets better:  there's now word that Qatar paid $10 million for each FIFA vote.

Wallace Matthews at says Derek Jeter's anger at the press conference announcing his new contract is misplaced, and he should be ecstatic to get the contract he receivedMatthews also says if Jeter was sour over the negotiations, wait until he hears from GM Brian Cashman and manager Joe Girardi that he isn't fit to lead off or play short stop every day.

Manchester City's Carlos Tevez sure changed his mind about being on the right side of Manchester after leaving United in the summer of 2009.  Nevermind that he was scoring with great regularity, that the team is improving greatly and a threat to win titles, or that he is the highest paid player on the team, or that he's the team's captain, he wants out in the January transfer window because, in the end, it really is all about Carlos Tevez.  Shame really, he's a fantastic player who works hard, but clearly is a bit of a headcase.

Remember the giant controversy over the Dallas Cowboys scoreboard being too low and punts hitting it?  Well, it hasn't happened in a regular season game yet.

Las Vegas over/under on New York Knicks wins this season was set at 35.5. They'd reach 36 by going only 20-37 rest of way

Jose Canseco is going off the deep end any moment now, if he hasn't already. Check out his tweet at the right.

NBC Sports looks at the Cliff Lee signing by the Philadelphia Phillies and says it is too early to pencil them into the World Series.
Cliff Lee is the first major free agent the New York Yankees targeted in 20 years (Greg Maddux being the last) that the Yankees missed out on.  Pretty decent track record, and pretty decent record over the last twenty years.  So far, the Yankees Plan B includes Canadian catcher Russell Martin - nice - and Mark Prior, a big reach albeit with no risk on a minor league deal.

The first time Toronto Raptor Jose Caleron missed a game due to soreness, I was impressed because nobody had ever to my knowledge missed a game before for that reason.  History is always impressive, no?  After that, I started to question his toughness.  The times after that - I've lost count - I started to think maybe I was being too harsh.  Who could expect a guy with a contract pushing eight figures a year to show up for work and play through a boo-boo?  And now that he's missed another road trip, well, I'll say it: he's a pussy.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I may get carpal tunnel after this one...

To start with Brett Favre or Cliff Lee?  Hmm.  One is done, another not, so Lee it is.  In a stunner, Cliff Lee turned down a seven-year $148 million offer from the New York Yankees and looks like he'll take 5-years and $120 million from the Philadelphia Phillies to be the #2 to Roy Halladay.  First thing: why even have an agent?  Lee is said to have reached out to the Phillies himself to put the wheels in motion, and left nearly $30 million on the table.  For this you pay a guy 5% or $6 million?  Second thing: that is one hell of a rotation the Phillies will be trotting out with Halladay, Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels as your top four.  Now, let's not get crazy and say they're better than what the Atlanta Braves rolled out in the 1990's, but that is damn good, although three will be 33 or older before 2011's season is done. Third thing: the Texas Rangers, in the game for dollars and years, have to be stinging in losing Lee, given they traded prized prospect Justin Smoak for four months of Lee.  Fifth thing: Yankees GM Brian Cashman will regret not throwing in Ivan Nova alongside Jesus Montero back in July when they were minutes from acquiring Lee.  I'd wager heavily that had Lee moved to New York then - and he wanted to - he might not have even hit free agency.  George Steinbrenner will be rolling in his grave here, this wouldn't have happened under his watch.  Sixth thing: history may show Texas and New York are happy they didn't have Lee for six or seven years, but short term, they won't be happy.  Sixth thing: the Phillies offered Lee three years and $54 million last winter, so he gained $66 million and two years by going away for a year.  Not bad!  Seventh thing:  my guess is with Albert Pujols vowing he'll go to free agency if he doesn't sign in the next 10 days, the Yankees will be approaching St. Louis for one of their pitchers, likely Chris Carpenter most readily available given age/risk, for a short term fix.  Eighth thing: cannot wait for next season!

In a gritty one, Manchester United were the more impressive side than sloppy Arsenal, who repeatedly gave the ball away, and were 1-0 winners to jump on top of the EPL by a pair of points with a game in hand. 
Arsenal have lost 10 and drawn one of their last 11 games against Man United and Chelsea in all competitions, scoring only five goals.  They cannot get it done when it matters most.  Chelsea and Man U will play Sunday in London.

And then, there is Brett Favre.  His vaunted streak of 297 games came to an end yesterday, and with the reaction on the sporting networks, you'd have thought he died for the treatment he got.  We can only dream.  It looks like Favre is officially done for the year as he's likely to be placed on IR, replacing "INT" as the way he ends a season for the last couple years.  But fret not for Brett, within minutes of word coming out that he wouldn't be playing in Detroit last night, his website was selling "297 starts" balls for a mere $499.99.  

Jon Heyman at has repeatedly referred to a "mystery team" being in the Cliff Lee running on Twitter, and has since seen a strong backlash from colleagues including Keith Law, Peter Gammons and most fiercely, Buster Olney, mocking him for being a mouthpiece for an agent looking to create leverage, among other things.  Funny stuff here. Still, in the end, Heyman either knew something, or guessed right, and he's not hiding his smugness over it.

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told 60 Minutes that not only was he good friends with George Steinbrenner, but that he has no doubt that if Steinbrenner were alive and owned the Cowboys and Jones were GM that he'd "no doubt" be fired. Yet he keeps himself on the job.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter hasn't taken enough PR hits of late, so he's adding fuel to the fire by saying that homosexuals "should refrain from any sexual activities" during Qatar 2022.  The Pope thinks this guy has overstepped his bounds. has an article touching on the top sports moment's of 2010 where you can vote for what will be the top moment on its annual Christmas Eve year in review show.  Not sure how the World Cup didn't get a mention.  The Toronto Star has an article on The Lou Marsh Award, for Canada's best athlete.  You can make your picks there as well.  Inexplicably to me, Joey Votto is trailing Sidney Crosby.

Jim Gray was allegedly paid $500,000 to try to give credibility to the joke that was LeBron James "The Decision".  Shame he cost himself any and all cred if that is true.

Carmelo Anthony is beating the trade drums again and says he'll only accept a move and sign an extension with the New York Knicks.  If I'm the Denver Nuggets, I make the deal now.  The Knicks want him, he wants to go there, and adding him gives the Knicks ensures the Knicks make the playoffs, and are a threat to do some damage.  May as well get something for him before he jumps for nothing.  Of course, word comes this morning that Anthony - again - says that he wants to remain with the Denver Nuggets. Sound familiar?

My bad for not mentioning UFC 124 in Montreal this past weekend.  When Georges St. Pierre said he'd shut Josh Koschek up, I assumed he just meant his mouth.  Didn't figure he'd shut his eye with some impressive jabs in the first round.  The fight was all GSP, a 30-25 shutout on all the scorecards.  Guess GSP's work with Freddie Roach, Manny Pacquiao's trainer, on his boxing worked a bit. Be sure to see the video at that link from 15 seconds on to get a glimpse of Kos' eye.  More importantly, GSP emerged healthy and should headline the massive UFC 131 coming to Toronto at the end of April.

The Sports Pickle has a great piece in which Al-Qaeda claims responsibility for the collapse of the roof on the Metrodome in Minnesota.  Nice.

113,000+ watched a hockey game in Ann Arbor, Michigan as Michigan hosted Michigan State this past Saturday, a world record.  That's about as many as watched the average NHL broadcast south of the border.  Impressive!

Buster Olney says it is time that MLB does away with its divisions and goes back to a balanced schedule, league format, with the key benefit being that the Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays don't have to worry about topping the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees every year with other spots available.  Who could argue against that?  A balanced sched is a far more fair test for all.  Article here, Insider only unfortunately.

Oh yeah, Baltimore beat Houston in overtime - and covered! - while the New York Giants beat the Minnesota Vikings, who appear to have packed it in for the season.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The usual mega-Monday edition...early!

Over the last nine quarters, the New England Patriots have outscored the Detroit Lions, New York Jets and Chicago Bears 103-10 combined. Tom Brady has won 21 of 22 games against NFC opponents. Pretty impressive run to say the least.

The Dallas Cowboys can't stop anybody it seems, but their games are sure entertaining, and they don't blow their brains out like they did earlier in the year.  The covering the spread machines covered the +3.5 against Philadelphia last night in a 30-27 win that might be remembered most for running back Tashard Choice, who should have all but ended Marion Barber's days in Dallas the way he's been playing relative to MB3, asking Michael Vick for his autograph post-game.

Up next for the struggling New York Jets, who were a bumbling mess in a 10-6 home loss to the Miami Dolphins: road games in Pittsburgh and Chicago.  9-6 is well within reach, Jets fans, and judging by the look on Fireman Ed's face, he knows it.  And as if that isn't bad enough, then there is Sal Alosi, Jets strength and conditioning coach, who took it upon himself to trip a Miami Dolphin racing down the sideline. 

Speaking of reeling, the Washington Capitals have lost six straight, and were hammered 7-0 by the New York Rangers yesterday, who were sporting one of the nicer third jersey's in recent memory.  Alexander Ovechkin got in the second fight of his career and it didn't turn the fortunes of his team.  But wait, I thought that fighting always picked your team up?  Weird.

Manchester United and Arsenal will tangle today in Manchester with first place in the English Premier League on the line.  There's a 3pm (Eastern) kickoff there, and I'll be shocked if it isn't three points for Man U when all is said and done.  Chelsea continued their struggles with a draw at Tottenham in a game they were outplayed for the most part, but had a chance to win in the dying moments only to see Didier Drogba denied on a penalty kick that would have won it.  Remember when the talk was that Chelsea would have the title wrapped up around Christmas?  They might be out of the race by Christmas the way they're going.

How important is it to have a defensive gem like Carl Crawford in left for the Boston Red Sox?  Well, they did have Manny Ramirez out there for years. And who do you suppose is the most interested and potentially upset over the Sox dropping that contract on CrawfordHow about Liverpool, the soccer club in England's Premier League now owned by Sox owner John Henry.

Toronto FC's main man Jurgen Klinnsman told Soccer Central that he hopes to have a coach and GM - likely the same person - in place by Christmas.

Mentioned above that the New York Rangers were rocking some nice third jersey's.  At the other end of the spectrum, there's the Florida Everblades of the ECHL, rocking the most hideous jersey's of all the times.

Detroit's win over Green Bay was their first in twenty games against divisional opponents.

After yesterday's showing by the Kansas City Chiefs, their QB Matt Cassell, out after an appendectomy, might be in line for some MVP votes.  Why?  In his absence, the Chiefs generated all of 67 yards total offence yesterday.

If you've been under a rock and have not seen the video of the Metrodome roof collapsing in Minnesota, check it out below.  The only way this would have been better is if #4 was standing underneath it.  Of course, there's some suggestions that Favre might have been on the roof with a buck knife and snow suit to give him a chance to keep his precious streak alive.  The Vikings will now "host" the New York Giants in Detroit tonight, with tickets available for free in a nice move by the NFL in a city that could use some nice moves.

Here's Jets assistant coach Sal Alosi tripping Miami Dolphin Nolan Carroll.

Here's a new way to score in hockey, from an Under 20 game in Sweden.  Watch closely.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Prime Time Pick

Playing Philly -3.5 -105 tonight. As usual, expect the big weekend wrap edition tomorrow, likely morning.