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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Silly, silly Anaheim

Notice anything wrong in the picture at the right?  Look closely.  Answer below.

I don't know if Toronto Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopolous has some incriminating pictures of his counterpart in Anaheim, but the fact he unloaded Vernon Wells contract for anything of value, nevermind a real nice player in Mike Napoli who could easily produce more than VW is damn impressive.  When your payroll is in the $80-$90 million range for 2011 and you ditched a guy slated to make $23 million of that number, you've done a damn fine job.  Maybe executive of the year worthy before the season even starts.  Okay, I'm just gushing now.  A good day for Jays fans.

Interesting study on NFL announcement teams and how many words per minute they spew. Kevin Harlan and Solomon Walcots ranked as the most verbose due at 189.20 words per minute.  They must not have included the Monday Night team, as I'm pretty sure that Jon Gruden would approach that himself, and all syrupy at that.

Busy weekend in the English Premier League with six teams playing twice in the next few days to make up games put off by bad weather, including leaders Manchester United, who will look to extend their lead at the top with one of the two games in hand they hold on second place Manchester City.

I only have a peripheral knowledge of Glee, but I love hearing that Slash will not allow Guns 'N Roses songs to be used by the show.  No word if he's licensed Velvet Revolver tracks.

The picture above has Rob Niedermayer's name spelled incorrectly.  He actually played three games with it that way.  Guess he can at least say he's not worried about the name on the back.

Jimmy Kimmel provides some song suggestions for the next Britney Spears record...

Kim Clijsters pwns Todd Woodbridge at the Australian Open.

Friday, January 21, 2011

LA Kings GM Dean Lombardi can anticipate a serious, serious fine from NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman after this comment last night with regard to a video review of a goal:  "When the guy in Toronto making the decisions on the goals, in Ottawa and the one tonight, wanted the G.M.'s job in L.A. and was not happy about not getting it, you have to assume you are going to get those type of calls.''  Guys that run leagues love when you call the integrity of the game into question.

Last month's issue of Playboy says that 60% of NBA players are bankrupty within five years of retirement and 78% of NFL players are bankrupt or in serious financial stress within two years of retirement. Wonder if the NFL owners are paying attention to the latter before putting a gun to the players heads negotiating the new labor agreement?

New York Yankees GM has a simple request for Andy Pettitte as he contemplates retirement: "don't Brett Favre us."  Awesome.

I really, really hope the lack of talk from the final four NFL teams is not a product of Roger Goodell telling teams to curb the trash talk.  Solid piece from the Tampa Tribune that says Goodell is out of line for reigning teams in.  

ESPN's Jim Caple ranks all 30 major league baseball logos.  Memo to Toronto Blue Jays fans: prepare to scroll.

Mean Gene Okerlund says that New York Jet Bart Scott's post-game rant on Sunday reminded him of work.

Wherever Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho goes, drama follows.  And he's throwing fuel on the fire with talk that he may not stay beyond this season.

Silly Pittsburgh Penguin fan...

"Put dirt on the roads"?  Only Emmitt Smith, discussing Super Bowl preparations in Dallas.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Endless, nameless

I'm not sure there are three quarterbacks historically that I have despised and viewed as overrated more than Dan Marino, Peyton Manning and especially - surprise - Brett Favre.  Might it be their combined playoff record of 30-31?  Probably.  Marino checks in at 8-10, Manning 9-10 (and sinking) and Favre is 13-11, but with the awesome achievement of back to back playoff runs ending with crippling interceptions.

Not sure if the MLS understands simple "supply and demand", but why entertain the notion of a second New York franchise in 2013 when the first isn't even selling out?  Sure, they franchise is reaching into the past by going with "Cosmos" as the franchise name - they often played to a full Giants Stadium in the 1970's with Pele, among others, on the team - and even hired a gem of a soccer name in Eric Cantona to run things.

Toronto Blue Jays (2010) slugger Jose Bautista is looking for $10.5 million in arbitration this off-season, the Jays have countered with $7.5 million.  The best thing the Jays could do with Bautista is see if he comes back in 2011 and produces like he did in 2010 on a one-year deal.  Even if he produces and it costs them extra millions on an extension, it would be less of a gamble than extending him now only to see him revert to the form he showed, well, every other year of his career.

The New York Yankees and Carl Pavano entertained a one-year deal for the free agent pitcher. Seriously.  Guess the Yanks didn't learn enough from their second go-round with Javier Vazquez last year?  Pavano agreed to a two-year deal with Minnesota that could see him pull $17 million.

Clearly, I didn't know Caroline Wozniaki like I thought I did.

Phil Anschutz, billionaiire sports owner of the LA Galaxy, LA Lakers and LA Kings, has agreed to finance an NFLLA if certain conditions are met stadium in , among them a tennant.  Enter the San Diego Chargers.

Hello, Dallas Stars ice girls.

The Miami Heat are 1-7 in games decided by 8 points or less.  Not exactly a recipe to get started on those five, six or seven rings LeBron et al mused about last summer, is it?

Quietly, the San Antonio Spurs are on pace for a 70-12 season.

Still can't believe that Al Davis presser a couple days back. Vince McMahon thinks this guy is over the top.  Here are 10 highlites from it, and yes, that picture of AD is from Tuesday.

Sidney Crosby is said to be so sour the NHL hasn't done more to eliminate head shots that he's essentially boycotting the All-Star Game.  Good for Sid, but it would help if he were more vocal about it. Question: how does the NHL eliminate head shots without eliminating fighting?  Isn't that nothing but head shots?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Karma hits you in the face, like an 18-pound sledge...

Ever since LeBron James "karma" blast on his former team, his Miami Heat have gone 0-4.  God is indeed watching, self-proclaimed Chosen 1.

ESPN SoccerNet looks at the potential moves to be made this month by EPL sides Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal and Liverpool.  Apparently, all is quiet in Manchester as far as they're concerned.

Will there be an NBA lockout next season?  Carmelo Anthony says "without a doubt".  Imagine a stretch next fall with potentially no NFL or NBA

Since losing to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Super Bowl in 2003, the Oakland Raiders are 37-91.  And why can't the NFL get over the Roman numeral thing and just call it "Super Bowl 2011", for example?

Now that is a Lego project at right, a replica of Ohio State's Horseshoe.   Thanks for the hook up, Bukakke.

Sports Illustrated has a piece in an issue next week that ties Lance Armstrong to a doctor connected to performance enhancing drugsand blood doping.  If true, baseball has to be thrilled.  After all, nobody has more vehemently denied usage, or profited from his image and story than Livealie "Livestrong" Lance.  Not surprisingly, Lance is denying.  If there's one thing SI is great at, it is getting its story in line every year around this time on a drug case.

The NFL Players Association has filed collusion charges against the NFL, because if there's one thing a union knows about, it is collusion.  SI's Peter King says, however, that there are some owners that would rather lose the entire 2011 season than to continue under the current system.  I'll believe that when I see it.  Besides, if NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has time to think about defining what is over the line in trash talk, then all must be well, right?

Milwaukee Buck Andrew Bogut has put together a hell of an auction to benefit Australian flooding relief on eBay.  This is as good a package as a sports fan with a pile of cash will ever win.

10 must-see sporting venues

Green Bay Packer Ryan Grant is telling Packers fans to book their flights to Dallas in early February for the Super Bowl.  Of course, said fans will have as much impact on the game as Grant, who has been sidelined since Week 1 with an injury, so not sure why he's talking so much.

Sergio Ramos, about as good a defender as there is in the world, wants out of Real Madrid after a bust-up with Cristiano Ronaldo and Jose Mourinho.

The Indianapolis Colts are set to make Peyton Manning the highest paid player in the NFL.  Not sure why, given he'd rank below Tom Brady, Ben Roethlesberger and probably Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers on most people's lists of best QB's right now, and certainly not going forward in his mid-30's.

A little food for thought as you contemplate the NFL Conference Championships this weekend:
only three teams have won three straight road games to get to the Super Bowl: the 1985 New England Patriots, 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers and the 2007 New York Giants.  Seems plenty are thinking that total will grow by two this weekend with Green Bay and New York Jets wins.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Gang green?

Since I've beaten up on the New York Jets quite a bit the last month or two, here's one for the Jets fans: what do the New England Patriots and Zsa Zsa Gabor's leg have in common?  Both were owned by Gang Green.

Going into last weekend, the AFC was a 4 point fav in the Super Bowl.  It is now down to AFC -1. Updated Super Bowl odds from The Hilton: Pittsburgh 2-1, New York Jets 7-2, Green Bay 8-5, Chicago 9-2.

So the Toronto Blue Jays told Russell Martin they'd match whatever the New York Yankees offered to bring him to his homeland.  He still chose New York.  The Jays were in hard on Brian Fuentes.  He chose Oakland.  More than a few second place finishes for Toronto, which, of course, is a vast improvement.  Oh, the Jays did sign Jon Rauch yesterday, but I wrote the previous bit before that happened and didn't feel it worth ditching over that mere detail.

For signing former Tampa Bay Ray Rafael Soriano last week, the Rays will get the Yankees first-round pick, adding more to Tampa Bay's huge haul of picks for this summer's draft, which is thought to be the deepest in years. The Rays will have nine picks before the start of the second round.  Of course, it bears mentioning that the baseball draft remains a crap shoot.  After all, Tim Beckham, who was a No. 1 pick for the Rays, is struggling mightily, and Tampa Bay, who do drafting perhaps better than anyone, passed on San Francisco Giant Buster Posey to take Beckham.

ESPN's Buster Olney says the St. Louis Cardinals have about a month to sign Albert Pujols to an extension.  After that he's going to be intent on exploring free agency.  Betting his agent wishes the Yankees and Boston Red Sox didn't have first base already tied up.  Pujols is said to be after A-Rod money, and the Cards don't seem willing to oblige.

Toronto boy and reigning NL MVP Joey Votto signed a three-year extension with Cincinnati worth $38 million.  Good for Votto, good for the Reds.

Don't let the "Brett Favre has filed his retirement papers" fool you too much - he can ask to be reinstated, and has before.   But, he is shilling "Thanks for the memories" memorabilia on his website, and in what is likely a bid to suck up to the Packers fans, he's picking them to win the Super Bowl.

1,023.  That's the number of league managers that have been sacked since Sir Alex Ferguson took over as Manchester United boss in 1986. Mindblowing.

Those voodoo dolls of mine are in fine form - LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Ringo Bosh all missed practice yesterday with injuries. Maybe they just needed some time to "chill".

If you're wondering what every happened to former first rounder of the Toronto Raptors, Rafael Araujo, here he is, shattering a backboard this past weekend.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Shocker in Beantown (suburb)

Yep, that's Ray Lewis hanging in effigy in a Pittsburgh back-yard.  No word if the dog used him as a fire hydrant.

I really, really cannot say I even gave the New York Jets a 1% chance of winning yesterday in New England.  Not with Tom Brady et al's home record over the years, not with the Jets poking the Patriots all week with their smack talk, not when the Patriots had their way with them just 6 weeks ago in a 45-3 beatdown. But credit in particular to the Jets secondary, who stuck to the Pats receivers for long periods and gave Brady nothing to throw to all day and the Jets won 28-21.  I have a feeling that's their Super Bowl, however, and the Green Bay Packers are now the likely winners.  The Jets will travel to Pittsburgh next Sunday, where they are 3.5 point underdogs.  Patriot Deion Branch, who before he dropped a key fourth down pass late in the game taunted the Jets bench after an earlier catch, called the Jets classless, and refused to shake hands with certain players post-game, as did a few of his teammates.

On the NFC side, the Chicago Bears were easy 35-24 winners over Seattle in a game nowhere near as close as that score suggests, and will host Green Bay next Sunday in the early game.  Somehow, the Packers have opened as 3.5 point favs.  Don't get me wrong, I think the Packers win, but how are the Bears home dogs like that?

Not sure if it is a sign of the apocalypse, but there have been thousands of dead birds in Arkansas, and this weekend, another 53 won't be making it back to their respective homes in Baltimore or Seattle, and 53 more perished in Atlanta.

Credit to the Jets through, if they're going to go the distance, they will and may have to navigate some pretty impressive quarterbacks in Peyton Manning (fading, though he may be), Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, and potentially Aaron Rodgers.

After the Jets win, Bart Scott channeled his inner WWE Superstar with this promo

And speaking of the WWE, if you're wondering where Randy "Macho Man" Savage is these days, turns out, everywhere. Amazing site.

I have to ask: why couldn't Fireman Ed have been in the Twin Towers?

The 2008 0-16 Detroit Lions lost seven games by at least 15 points. The Seattle Seahawks were a late run yesterday from losing their tenth.
Manchester United and Tottenham played to an entertaining scoreless draw - yes, it is possible, people - in London yesterday that sees the Reds through.  Spurs dominated the first and last 20 minutes, the latter aided by a weak red card call on RafaelNemanja Vidic was an absolute rock in the back for the leaders. Spurs manager Harry Redknapp figures there's no chance that United stays undefeated for the year if they couldn't do it a couple year's back when they had Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez in the lineup.  The way they defend, I wouldn't put it past them.

Christal Bosh whined after an opponent had the audacity to go to the ground after a loose ball, which resulted in Christal getting a boo-boo.  Wince Carturd thinks this guy is embarrassing with the whining.  Bosh says you shouldn't dive at loose balls around players legs.  One, I'm pretty sure that would be the only ball around Bosh' legs.  Two, I don't recall a time - ever - where there has been a loose ball on an NBA floor without a guy around it.  Shut your mouth, Christal.

So Christina Aguilera is singing the U.S. anthem at the Super Bowl. Two things. One, is the game still slated to start on time?  She might delay the start 20 minutes with a less-than-faithful rendition. Two, what year is this?  Xtina to open, Black Eyed Peas at the half? 

I finally figured out why Ben Roethlesberger wears a visor: because mace stings.

One thing I won't be doing on January 28th: watching this lame NHL draft for the all-star game. Get Dr. Kevorkian, stat.

Things got testy in Los Angeles last night as the "visiting" Clippers downed the "home" Lakers.  With 5.7 seconds on the clock, four players were ejected.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Pats/Jets finally get it on

Yesterday's Prime Time Picks worked out about as well as one might have expected for all the confidence shown in them.  Nice of the Baltimore Ravens to extend Christmas into January and give away a game that they had signed, sealed and delivered.  One thing I'll promise: if the New England Patriots win today, and they will, they will have an easy time with the Pittsburgh Steelers next weekend.  Far too sloppy, Steelers.  So yeah, I'm playing the Pats -8.5 today.  They may not go 45-3 like last month, but suspect we're looking at 38-17 or something thereabouts.  This one could be 1,000-0 and it'll be worth watching for all the bile spewed this week.

In the NFC yesterday, the Atlanta Falcons started well and then lost their game in a hurry as the Green Bay Packers roared back and absolutely crushed them 48-21.  Silly me for giving the Falcons love after a year of thinking they were way overrated.

Today's NFC contest is about the least appealing of the bunch this weekend, so it'll likely end up being a gem the way the Seattle/New Orleans game was last weekend.  The Seahawks are 10 point dogs in Chicago today, a place they won earlier in the year as 7 point dogs.  I really, really can't see the Seahawks winning - they're 8-9 on the year, travelled to a cold city across the country, and are facing a team that has been up a lot more than down all year - so lean to Chicago.  It would be funny seeing a Seahawks win, however, as they'd host the NFC Championship with a win.

A guy who knows a thing or two about delivering when it matters - Reggie Jackson - had some choice words for the New York Jets, telling them to shut up and focus on playing instead of a meaningless campaign to trash talk the New England Patriots. Says Mr. October:  "Go look at the hardware, dude. Walk through the lobby up there and look at the stuff that's there. You don't have that, you don't have anything close to that [what the Patriots have]. You might want to shut up, you might learn something. Read, you might figure something out. Watch film, you might get educated. If not, you have a chance to get embarrassed on Sunday.

The big game of the English Premier League this weekend comes from London, where first  place and undefeated Manchester United will visit Tottenham.  Historically, these two play some wildly entertaining games, but I suspect a far tighter affair with so much at stake for both teams.  Wayne Rooney and Nemanja Vidic are back to health for United.  Should be a cracker, as the saying goes.  11am on Setanta Sports.

Enjoy the games!