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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Colangelo = Ricciardi?

UFC 127 emanates from one of my fav places on earth, Sydney, AustraliaBJ Penn has a pivotal fight against Jon Fitch in the main event, and I'm liking Penn to win.  Rest of the card here.

Damn you, English Premier League schedule maker, for bumping what would've been a fantastic Arsenal vs. Tottenham match off the fixture list today. Instead, we get a handful of far less interesting fare. Leaders Manchester United are at Wigan, and yours truly has a healthy sprinkle on United at Pinnacle at -1 +105.  A full preview, with picks, here.

Good of the Toronto Raptors to follow up a pleasantly surprising win over the Chicago Bulls with a 35-14 deficit in the first quarter at home to Phoenix last night, en route to a 110-92 loss.  What says "we're glad we didn't get traded" more than that?  GM Bryan Colangelo has been on the job five years now, and save for a grating personality, has he really done anything more than former Toronto Blue Jays GM JP Ricciardi did?

Cathal Kelly at the Toronto Star goes yard with this assessment of UFC 129 in Toronto and what fans can expect to see, which can be summed up with "very little", big screens aside. 

Buster Olney says the Toronto Blue Jays have the toughest schedule of all American League teams to start, with 38 of their first 44 against teams that were .500 or better last year, and after opening with six at home, then facing 20 of 25 on the road.

Check out the Top 10 songs played at professional sporting events in 2009-10.  Man, are there ever some bad tracks on there and the clowns responsible for that in stadiums and arenas are so stuck in their way.  Ever listen to what gets played during a Toronto Maple Leaf game?  The same bloody songs every night, virtually at the same time.  And to save those that hate the Leafs the joke: "How did Van Halen's "Hot for Teacher" not make the list?"  That song, of course, is played whenever the opposition scores.

Very professional of Detroit Pistons Tracy McGrady, Tayshaun Prince, Richard Hamilton and Chris Wilcox to skip the team's pre-game shootaround as a protest against coach John Kuester, who they'd like to see fired.  I'm sure the fans in that town will be thrilled to see somebody pushing for someone's unemployment.

ESPN's Jayson Stark looks at how Jose Bautista has become the face of the Toronto Blue Jays.

Cam Newton: Dallas Cowboy?  Could be, though one wonders if he can play corner or offensive line as well.

Awesome interview with Charlie Sheen on Alex Jones Show.   No wonder he's a fan of San Francisco Giant closer Brian Wilson, they talk the same.  Well worth the time listening to this one.

And the best news of the day: baseball spring training starts today.  We're that much closer to the real thing, and springs itself.

Chris Bosh proves that hoopsters can dive without being touched too, in Miami's loss to Chicago on Thursday night.  Not sure what is more embarrassing, the dive, or Bosh's 1-for-18 from the floor shooting on the night.

Best drunken interview of all the times...1:39 on is absolutely epic.

Friday, February 25, 2011

A whole heap of baseball

I'm trying to figure out how the St. Louis Cardinals losing the awesome Adam Wainwright, who needs Tommy John surgery, with an elbow injury means they're now likely to deal Chris Carpenter, with the New York Yankees already a rumored landing spot.  Carpenter says he wouldn't object to a trade. Unless they're trying to blow up the team and alienate Albert Pujols, how do you throw in the towel before March has even hit?  Very classy of Cincinnati Reds Johnny Gomes and manager Dusty Baker to make light of the injury though.  Careful crossing the street, fellas.  Hey, wasn't Gomes the guy that had a heart attack?  Jayson Stark looks at how awesome Wainwright has been the last few years.

Tough times being a New York Met fan these days.

Yes, the NBA trade deadline passed yesterday, and there were a flurry of moves. 

Bruce Arthur at the National Post looks at the NHL without Sidney Crosby, and says they should be terrified.

How will Carmelo Anthony adapt to life in New York?  Joel Sherman looks at that in light of some of the successes and failures that moved to the Yankees over the years.

Detroit Tiger first baseman Miguel Cabrera finally showed up to spring training yesterday after his arrest for drinking scotch from a bottle on the side of the road, and being utterly hammered while doing so.  He did the usual apology routine, and while I'm no 12-stepper, I'm going to guess that saying you're not a doctor and therefore are incapable of assessing whether you're an alcoholic or not is not exactly in the "admitting you have a problem" bucket.

I'm sure Toronto Blue Jay fans will be thrilled at the news that 38 games this year - almost a quarter - will appear on Rogers SportsNet One.

Eye Magazine in Toronto recently worked with a bunch of celebrity and quasi-celebrity judges to get a new nickname for Toronto"El Toro" emerged as the winner.  Not bad, to be honest.  Certainly better than the incredibly lame entries DiverCity, The Big Maple, The Hub, Pronto (based on what?  The Gardiner?), and Global City.  Two things: what happened to T Dot?  Also, did like the T-Bone entry as well.  In the end, guess "PreTentiOus" wouldn't have lent itself to too many marketing angles.  Here's some of the Twitter react.

The Toronto Raptors host the Phoenix Suns tonight and Doug Smith actually lays out an interesting, non-Calderon-slurping, scenario: "Steve Nash is leading the break and the fans are waiting for something magical to happen.  He lofts a brilliant pass just over the out-stretched hand of a Raptor defender and the joint goes crazy with cheers. Vince [Carter] catches it, dunks and the fans stop mid-cheer to boo."  It could happen.

This is a whole new way to draw a foul in soccer.  Pathetic.

But, all is not wrong in the soccer world when the best in the game (or at least, nobody better than) doesn't dive, as this three minute compilation of Lionel Messi getting butchered will show.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Crosby done for the year?

Inter Milan gave up a goal in the dying moments to give Bayern Munich, last year's finalist, a huge 1-0 road win heading to Munich for the second leg. For Inter, that's their first European loss at home since November 2008.   Manchester United drew at Marseille in a game they could have put away early.  They're back in Manchester in two weeks for the second leg.

Nick Kypreos appeared on Prime Time Sports and relayed that Sidney Crosby, out with a concussion, has done nothing for seven weeks beyond "testing the waters", and typically shutting down quickly.  7 weeks off is more than most guys take in a summer, so he'd be looking at quite the grind to get back in game shape. Kypreos said he'd be "absolutely shocked" if Crosby played again this season. Ouch. Glad the NHL still waffles on head shots when they might see Crosby as the next Lindros, a great player whose career was shortened by head injury.  And while I don't believe the shots he took were intentional, the NHL would be wise to get any head contact out - no excuses - before they lose another all-time talent.  And yes, that would mean no fighting.

Can't fathom why you would, but people are selling tickets to a Yankees and Red Sox game for $750 per.  The game is on March 14th.  Yes, a pre-season game is selling for $750.  Insanity.

AC Milan midfielder Gennaro Gatusso was suspended for four games for his act last week in Champions League play, and obviously will not be playing against Tottenham next week in the return leg in London.  That said, he won't even be in attendance as he's been advised there are 47,000 looking to slap him.

Bill Simmons long rumored project will be a new website that is 70% sports, 30% pop culture which is probably no different than his ESPN work.  What is different is that the website will be separate from ESPN and not be branded ESPN.  Does that mean he won't have to dance around "Delonte West banged LeBron's mom" talk anymore?

I'm a big fan of Apple, but am no means among the Apple Nazi's who slurp everything that comes out of Apple as the greatest thing ever and think they've never created a poor product, and even less so think that you need fourteen thousand apps of anything - who has the time? - but here's a fantastic baseball app that is mindblowing when you consider the amount of data this sucker packs.  You're just looking at video there, not a download about to happen.  MUST SEE.

Forget the rumors of a Mark Texeira for Albert Pujols deal.  Tex says he's got a no-trade deal and isn't going anywhere.

The 30 Most Annoying Things Fans Do.  Definitely love #24.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Clean-up in the Cubs dugout

Small wonder FC Copenhagen were in way over their heads yesterday, despite Chelsea's struggles. It was the Danish sides first competitive game, thanks to their winter break, since December 7th. Chelsea were 2-0 winners. Real Madrid's struggles against Lyon continued, but they did emerge from France with an important away goal and a 1-1 draw. Up today is one of the best of the eight matchups this round with Bayern Munich visiting Inter Milan. Manchester United are at Marseille, and should win comfortably there where they are a tantalizing +130 with the fine folks at Pinnacle.  Want to hedge?  Bet United to win and tie.

Guess Dusty Baker wasn't too popular as the Chicago Cubs manager.  A couple year's back, towards the end of his run in Chi-Town, he walked to his usual spot in the dugout to find someone had grown a tail in the spot he usually stood.  Coincidence?  Dog?  Nope, Dusty was positive it was the work of a human.

The Boston Red Sox told Carl Crawford before they signed him they had been following him on and off the field and were comfortable with who he was in both areas.  Creepy much?  Didn't George Steinbrenner once get suspended for doing the same with Dave Winfield?

Maybe Toronto Raptor DeMar DeRozan has it right when he says he doesn't like the fact the NBA Slam Dunk Contest has turned into a prop heavy gimmick, one where he wouldn't be shocked if somebody rolled out a trampoline?  And let's be serious, would it shock anybody if someone did at this point?  Here's what one of DeRozan's dunk's looks like in super slo-mo or as we call it, "Calderon on defence speed".

The quote machine known as Hank Steinbrenner says that "At some point, if you don't want to worry about teams in minor markets, don't put teams in minor markets, or don't leave teams in minor markets if they're truly minor.   Socialism, communism, whatever you want to call it, is never the answer."  That last bit on socialism/communism might be the best sports quote of the year, mostly because anybody that hammers those two areas is a friend of mine.  Joel Sherman at the NY Post says Hank is at his best when he's not talking.

Speaking of Hank, after the comments on Monday that some players were "too busy building mansions", Derek Jeter went Derek Jeter and said he didn't figure Hank was referring to him because his name didn't come out of Hank's mouth.  Oh Derek, be assured, he most definitely was talking about you first and foremost.  You can't just take all the glory.

After trading its highest scoring defenceman last week in Tomas Kaberle, what is highest on Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke's wishlist?  Why, an offensive defenceman, of course.  Extreme Makeover Maple Leaf continues.  And speaking of rebuilds, it might be an Ontario thing, with the Ottawa Senators looking to dynamite their club.

Just a small sampling of how New York Knicks fans felt in the hours before the Carmelo Anthony deal was made official with the news that Isiah Thomas was involved behind the scenes in the Anthony dealings.  Well worth the read for the anger The Big Lead throws around.

Which MLBer would you figure gets flown in to hang with Charlie Sheen over the weekend?  If you guessed the awesome San Francisco Giant Brian Wilson, you are correct.

Speaking of Wilson, here's 10 major leaguers it'd be great to have a beer with.  Not sure how Johnny Damon doesn't make the list.

With the MLS season just weeks away, Soccer By Ives looks at which clubs had the best off-seasons.  Hint: it isn't Toronto.

Another day, another "Atlanta Thrashers are having trouble and should leave that team without an NHL franchise for a second time" piece.  Can't happen soon enough.

The new Foo Fighters single "Rope" can be heard here.  It is good.

Why Brian Wilson is awesome, among the many thousands of reasons.

More ladies brawling in the streets, this time over the All-Star weekend in L.A.  Vicious!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The great Melodrama of this NBA season is finally over, with Carmelo Anthony getting dealt to the New York Knicks with a whole mess of players going each way, including Chauncey Billups joining the Knicks.  Billups, by the way,  is hitting 44% of his 3-pointers and 92% of his free throws this season. Dude ain't done.  'Melo was on Conan last night, taped before the deal was announced, and obviously coy about where he was going.  Conan had a solid jersey created for him.

Champions League round of 16 play resumes today with Lyon hosting Real Madrid, and FC Copenhagen hosting the realing Chelsea.  Both games go at 2:45, and I'm taking the visitors in both.  Speaking of Real, star Cristiano Ronaldo needed all of 51 games in Real to score his 50th goal.  Anybody in the NHL come close to that recently?

The loose cannon Steinbrenner brother, Hank, talked of how the New York Yankees seemed a bit too complacent last year coming out of 2009, and were "too busy building mansions".  Of course, as far as I can tell, only Derek Jeter is known to have been building a mansion recently.  Safe to assume DJ heard the comment.

TMZ reports that Dallas Cowboys running back Marion Barber was detained in Beverly Hills with this headline: "NFL Star Marion Barber Detained At Bev Hills Hotel".  Tweets Tim McMahon of “Major factual error in TMZ story about Marion Barber.  Headline calls him ‘NFL star’.”  Awesome.

Another abdominal strain for Philadelphia Philly Cliff Lee? He missed the start of the 2007 and 2010 seasons with similar problems. 

There are some things I will never get.  Cricket is among them.

Alex Rodriguez, cleared for full workouts the first time since his hip surgery a couple years back, is down 10 lbs and dropped his body fat from 12% to 9%, is looking comfortable at Yankees camp, on the field...and off.

In the Greek soccer league, fans of hated blood rivals Olympiakos and Panathanaikos got loose post-game, with predictable results.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Spreading a little venom on Family Day

The best thing about yesterday's Heritage Classic in Calgary?  It looked like an outdoor game should look like.  No lame coverings on the surrounding area, just real legit snow.  No rain, just cold.  The Flames were 4-0 winners over the visiting Montreal Canadiens.

Over the past three years, New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera has a 1.64 ERA. It is not only the best in the majors for that period (with a  minimum 150 appearances), but it is the best three-year run at any time in Rivera’s Hall of Fame career. Think about that, his age 38-40 seasons have been better – at least ERA wise – than any other three-year run in his career.  Crazy how great he is.  For me, the most important Yankee of the last 15 years, hands down.

Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho saw his team win on Saturday, marking 9 calendar years that teams coached by him have gone without losing a league home match.  No matter what you think of the man, that is incredible.

Very classy of Don Cherry to crack on Mario Lemieux on Saturday night's "Coaches Corner"segment as being a hypocrite for hammering the NHL's handling of the post-Isles/Pens brawl last weekend.  Grapes called Lemieux a hypocrite because he's got Matt Cooke on the roster.  Now, I'm not fan of Cooke, but Cherry calling anybody a hypocrite is sheer hilarity, nevermind a guy with the class and resume of Lemieux.  Question: what says "hypocrite" more than the clown in the checkered suit above flipping the bird to the nation who markets videos largely of fights to the same kids he pretends to care about?  Word is Grapes hard-on for Cooke is the result of Cooke confronting him last season in Toronto over comments Cherry made previously, and the old clown has been on the war path since.

Canadian Milos Raonic is lighting up the ATP tennis tour, losing a dramatic final yesterday to Andy Roddick in Memphis yesterday that will see him rocket up to #37 in the world, when he started 2011 deep past 100.  Says Roddick of Raonic: "Coming from an old guy who's seen a lot of players, you have a very, very bright future."  Roddick won the match with a ridiculous shot that you can see here, and Raonic said "Even here, as a finalist, I think I might be on one of YouTube's most-viewed points."  Roddick called it the best shot he's ever hit.  Yeah, I imagine it was.

Did you see the mask Montreal Canadien Carey Price was rocking yesterday in Calgary?  I'm torn.  Is it the worst mask ever...or the best? The mask was a tribute to the original worn by Jacques Plante.

Why I'm still optimistic, regardless of what the Boston Red Sox have done, heading into the next Yankee baseball season: last year, CC Sabathia was wonderful, but Andy Pettitte (hurt) and Phil Hughes (fatigue) faded in the second half, AJ Burnett and Javier Vazquez had two of the worst seasons for regular starters in Yankees history, and the three plug-in starters — Sergio Mitre, Dustin Moseley and Ivan Nova — combined for a 5.24 ERA. The Yankees had 25 games in which a starter gave up six or more runs — six more than any other playoff team, and they still made the playoffs and won 95 games and got off the gas late to do it.

Somehow, Isiah Thomas retains huge influence in the player movements of the New York Knicks.  What the hell does he have on the Dolan ownership that let's him usurp - love that word - the power of current (alleged?) GM Donnie Walsh?

NBA in Vancouver?  Don't believe the hype.

If you're on Twitter, or wondering why you should be, just follow The Iron Sheik.  Sheer hilarity.

From what I saw on Saturday, and it wasn't much, not sure how Blake Griffin won the sLAME Dunk Contest.  And how do you score a 50 when you repeatedly miss attempts at a dunk?  Shouldn't you be penalized for that?  At any rate, a compilation of actual relevant dunks, in competition stuff from Griffin.

Here’s A (Nearly) Exhaustive Video Compilation Of Blake Griffin Dunks from Deadspin on Vimeo.