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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Toronto FC opens at BMO Field today against the Portland Timbers, with a high of around freezing expected.  Guess that happens when you have your earliest start in franchise history.  That said, I expect good times with the crew in 114 in particular.  And maybe even a TFC win?  I'll stick to expecting the good times...that's a lock. Kickoff is 2pm on TSN.  Vancouver is in Philadelphia with a 4pm kickoff on TSN.

Not that I think you can visually indict someone based on how they look of having used something, but this is one case one might be prepared to make an exception.  Regardless, Barry Bonds was still probably the most frightening player I saw in the last 20 years or so, and as I often like to say, broke no rules in the game.

Call me crazy, but I think Bret Hart's latest art piece, to be auctioned for charity, tends to suggest he isn't a fan of Hulk Hogan.  See how I segued that from the above bit on Barroid Bonds?

Linesmaker Bodog has set the over/under totals for team wins this season.  Local ball fans will be interested to note the Toronto Blue Jays over/under is set at 76.  I'd have to bet the over, frankly.  Suspect the Jays finish somewhere around 82.  And no, that isn't playing a reverse jinx.

The European soccer calendar is dark this weekend with an international break on the go for Euro 2012 qualifying.  Not a whole lot of interesting match-ups today to be fair, Wales hosting England has the most storylines really.

Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter must still be bitter he was let go by the New York Yankees back in 1995, just as the Yankees started banging out World Series titles, or he's trying a strange path to motivate his squad now by taking bizarre shots at Derek Jeter for diving out of the way of what he calls balls last year, and Boston Red Sox manager Theo Epstein, saying Theo wouldn't get guys like Carl Crawford or Adrian Gonzalez if not for the Sox big budget.  Umm, okay.  Stay in your lane, Showalter.  Guess he forgets the Orioles didn't even sniff a World Series in the late 90's with the highest payroll.

I'd be very afraid right now if I were a Philadelphia PhillyChase Utley has knee issues, and Roy Oswalt got crowned by a comebacker from Manny Ramirez this week, and now Brad Lidge is hurting with shoulder problems.  Beware the Atlanta Braves, Philly.  They're young, and coming on fast.

I can't imagine what kind of attention starved fool goes to a lawyer and says "hey, I'm going to sue the NFL for potentially not having a season because I paid a seat license to see football."  Pathetic.

Duke allegedly had the third most efficient defence in the NCAA this season, but somehow Michigan shot 50% against them, and Arizona shot 54%.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Duke is dead, long hate Duke

Looks like the New York love affair with the Knicks is over in a real hurry after a series of uninspiring performances, and the impression that Carmelo Anthony wants the offence to run through him first, second and third.  They'll be fine, after another off-season and training camp, though with the NBA labor deal up soon, might be a couple years if you believe the doom-sayers.

Any March Madness tourney where Duke gets exposed for the fraud they so often are is a good one in my book, and did they ever get exposed last night in a 93-77 curbstombing that saw them outscored 55-33 in the second half.  Butler topped Wisconsin to continue their run in the tourney, and UConn topped San Diego State.  I mention those three games first as I had all three wrong.  Fantasic!  At least Florida beat BYU like I predicted.  Four more games tonight to get down to the Elite Eight.

Colin Cowherd's Rock Band March Madness is into the Final FourGet your votes in here.  Looking like it'll be The Beatles taking on Led Zeppelin in the finals.

Quite a difference a day makes in Toronto, as preparations are under way for the TFC 2011 home opener at what will be a frigid BMO Field tomorrow at 2pm.  The Portland Timbers visit and if the expansion team wins, it is going to get really, really nasty in the stands I suspect.

Not sure what world Mark Recchi of the Boston Bruins, who last I looked doesn't have MD behind his name, is operating in, but he says that Montreal Canadien Max Pacioretty's injuries after Zdeno Chara maimed him a few weeks back is "an embellishment".  Yeah, broken vertebra are something you can just "kind of" have.  Nice work declaring the concussion, diagnosed as "severe", as a "non-factor" and something he was over a day or two later.  "Stupid hockey player" is redundant, but fitting.  What isn't an embellishment is the 7-0 beatdown the Bruins dropped on the reeling Habs last night.  The Habs have been shut out in two straight, and have lost five of eight.

ESPN's Baseball Today mentioned that Toronto Blue Jay Adam Lind hit .117 against lefties last year in 145 plate appearances.  Ouch.  Is that random and a small single season sample, or what he is?  Surely he can push that into Mendoza Line range.

Incredible interview with the always interesting Mike Tyson, who drops this line in on when he was at his lowest point: "I didn't even deserve a prostitute with AIDS".  If you haven't seen The Champ of late, you almost wouldn't recognize him from recent years.  Looks like he's dropped 50lbs and 10 years off himself.

Curious how New York Jets coach Rex Ryan can guarantee a Super Bowl but not be able to guarantee a season or clarify the quality thereof.

For those getting their MLB fantasy on, a quick stat: the average number of closers who lose their job to injury or performance from the start of the year through end are 13.

What will Toronto Blue Jay Jose Bautista do this season?  A few projections at this link here, and none have him hitting even 40 homers.

Back tomorrow, bright and early, for an increasingly rare Saturday edition.  Check on in, ya hear?

Look what San Diego State's loss last night did to my first place run in the big March Madness Pool:

Thursday, March 24, 2011

March Madness resumes tonight with four games including a pair of #2 vs. #3 matchups in BYU vs. Florida and UConn taking on San Diego StateDuke takes on Arizona.  Go 'Zona! Wisconsin takes on Butler in the other game.  I've got Florida, San Diego State, Duke and Wisconsin winning tonight.

The Dallas Cowboys are among five NFL teams fined for having illegal contact with players in the "dead period" that has come out of the expiration of their labor agreement.  Also believed to have been dinged are Miami, Cleveland and San Francisco.  My guess is the remaining teams simply haven't been caught yet.

One week from the start of the MLB season, Victoria's Secret has launched a line of baseball shirts and undergarments.  Sorry, Toronto Blue Jays, you don't exist. And the hits just keep on coming for the Jays when Ken Rosenthal and Kevin Kennedy preview the AL East but don't even mention the Jays.

Mother Nature is a whore.  Check out the scene at BMO Field in Toronto yesterday, four days ahead of Toronto FC's home opener.

Not sure how or why at this point, but Derek Jeter was the top selling jersey in baseball last season.  You'd think anybody that was a Jeter fan already had one.  Maybe they wanted the George Steinbrenner patch really, really badly?  Rounding out the top five were - in order - Joe Mauer, Roy Halladay, Chase Utley and Cliff Lee.

Wake me up when the Barry Bonds trial is over.  Blows my mind that the U.S. government is spending millions upon millions in this environment.  They must have everything else taken care of.  

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban says he's not interested in cutting a cheque for $800 million to buy the New York Mets and not having his ass kissed to do it.  Love the way he put it.  Great thinking on Bud Selig's part looking for sheep to fall in line.  The current Mets situation is soooooooo much better.

Terrible, terrible story on what Toronto Blue Jay reliever Chad Cordero and his family have gone through.  If there's a Jay I wish well, it is Cordero.

New UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Johnny "Bones" Jones will appear tonight on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.  Well, not exactly Letterman, but a good news story for Jones and the UFC.  Him riffing on the "lock up your kids" guy - Antoine Dodson - of web fame last year after busting a guy for breaking into a car before his fight in Jersey was awesome.  Jones is a gem, not make guys in sports with a better personality.

Sara Jean Underwood was in a cake fight.  Not sure if she won, but we did.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Rocky said we can all change, but I'm not believing

Quick one today from my frost-bitten fingers after tossing my winter gloves last week when they ripped only to go out and clean my driveway this morning with some paper thin alternatives.  Bad, bad idea.

Suspended Pittsburgh Penguin Matt Cooke says that he needs to and will change, and the proof will not be in his words but his actions.  Funny, haven't we heard the same from Lyndsay Loskank and her kind?  We know how that ended.

Since January 18th, the Colorado Avalanche have won 2 of 25 games. That is a Cavalier-esque run they're on.

8 days til baseball season, so you can expect a whole lot of ball thoughts, stats and facts.  Up today: Babe Ruth, widely regarded as the best player and hitter ever, actually threw as many career shutouts as Pedro Martinez.

Is it a sign that Derek Jeter's role with the New York Yankees is being diminished when the Yankees are openly entertaining two lineups?  One that would see him bat first against lefties, with Brett Gardner taking the top spot against righties.  Whatever the case, the Yankees got it half right, they're a better team with Gardner leading off.

A forecast of -2 and all the snow that fell overnight won't exactly help Toronto FC sell the remaining overpriced tickets, but it will give them a nice excuse to explain it away for a few days, as noted by GBVH. I'm sure the SoccerbyIves MLS Power Rankings won't help either, unless TFC is taking the "only one direction to go" approach.

21,046 - that's the average attendance for the first week of MLS action is higher than the overall average for every previous MLS season.

I've seen some funny goal scoring celebrations before, but never have I seen this one pulled off by Inter Milan's Giampalo Pazzini at the :14 second mark.

Cleveland Brown Scott Fujita's of the wife takes a sledgehammer to the NFL for how they treat players.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Cooke gets cooked

Well lookie here, the NHL finally got around to figuring out that maybe - just maybe - Matt Cooke's act in Pittsburgh had finally gone over their very, very thick line.  His latest goon attack landed him a ten game suspension - the rest of the season - and the first round of the playoffs.  Better still is it appears the Pens have had enough too.  Coach Dan Bylsma talked of how the suspension was deserved and he needed to change, and word is Mario Lemieux told him to get his game cleaned up or he'll be gone.  Good for the Pens.

Joel Sherman at the New York Post looks at some similarities between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox: "In fact, the top of the Yankees and Red Sox rotations have some synchronicity: The lefty aces (CC Sabathia vs. Jon Lester), the promising young righties (Phil Hughes vs. Clay Buchholz) and the Florida Marlins refugees trying to recover from a dreadful season (A.J. Burnett vs. Josh Beckett). Win these matchups, and you probably win the AL East.

Love the bomb dropped by Bayern Munich's Franck Ribery, with his team on the outside looking in right now for a Champions League spot next year:  "The Champions League is incredibly important for the team, the club and the fans, the Europa League is rubbish and we have got to avoid that.  The best way is not to even think about that. Playing in the Europa League is no fun at all."

English Premier League club Fulham have announced they're unveiling a statue outside of Craven Cottage, their stadium.  A former star player?  Nope.  Owner Mohamed Al Fayed?  Nope.  Michael Jackson. 

If you missed EpicMealTime on Jay Leno last week, here it is Love Harley referring to Leno as "Leno".  What a character. 

Add Tampa Bay Bolt Vinny Lecavalier to the list of NHLers who have a hate on for Montreal Canadiens rookie PK Subban 

Survey says: 25% of Canadians will be watching less hockey because of the mayhem that they've seen the last while.  Way to go, Gary Bettman!

Just what everybody wants to hear: the NFL hasn't ruled out using replacement players.  Yeah, that'll get people paying hundreds for tickets, and in some places, loads more, excited for some football.

Good news for Toronto FC and soccer in Canada: this past Saturday's game in Vancouver drew a TV audience of 280,000, the largest for an MLS game in Canada.  Not bad considering it was prime time, and head to head with Hockey Night in Canada.  Bad news for Toronto FC: the always great MLSE, who could screw up all the best things in the world simultaneously, has played the team's home opener into a non-sellout to date, thanks to four year's of bungling, price gouging and bad blood.  Admittedly, some of these are my own conclusions.  I'm betting they don't sell out more than three games all year.

A member of the Houston sports media looks at a year and change in Chris Bosh quotes from Houston's perspectiveBosh, of course, is a guy Houston had much interest in.  Some funny stuff.

At Fox Sports, Ken Rosenthal and Kevin Kennedy present their picks for AL and NL MVP's in the coming baseball season (next week!).  My fantasy squad has three of the four selections, with Albert Pujols missing.  Me=happy.  One of the MVP nods goes to this guy, who is killing the ball this spring, and is well on his way to being an all-timer with an all-time team.

Want to see one way to mock a trap in hockey?  And in this case, learn how to count to 16 in French?  Sadly, when Rimouski finally tries to break the trap, they fail and turn the puck over.

There are barely 100 views on this one at this point, so be among the first of the millions - and millions - to check out the latest from Epic Meal Time in "Meat Cars", which will look familiar if you caught the Tonight Show with Jay Loser last week, or checked the clips on RM yesterday.  Does Harley look like Ben Roethlesberger, or is it just me?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Now THAT was a sports weekend!

I literally was thinking to myself yesterday afternoon, in the midst of a fantastic day of EPL and NCAA action, "man, it has been a couple days since something stupid happened in the NHL."  Mere moments later, I stumble across a mention by the good man behind Empties Crushed - and noted Pittsburgh honk - about Matt Cooke doing something stupid and costing the Penguins a game.  It didn't take long for the Twitterverse to provide video evidence of this gem:

Now, we already know the immortal answer to the immortal question of "does a fool ever learn", but some of these knuckleheads continue to remind us, while the NHL fiddles as Rome burns.  If this isn't the epitome of a head shot, blind sided, and the kind of dirty play that any other sporting organization with any sense would look to avoid, I don't know what is.  But really, does anybody know with the NHL?  He might get 5-8 games.  Or, he might have already served his penalty with five minutes and the game misconduct.  And isn't that the problem?  How does that clown look Sidney Crosby in the eye knowing what Sid is going through and has endured the last couple months on far less dirty plays?  If it weren't Cooke, I'm sure Don Cherry would be prepping a speech saying you have to know who's on the ice, but since it is, he'll come down hard.  And that kind of inconsistency is the cancer here.

Insurance giant AON - who sponsor Manchester United - had their CEO Phil Clement declare that the club sells more jersey's annually than all NFL teams combined.  I'd wager so do Barcelona and Real Madrid, for starters.

Not sure if it is being repeated again, but glance at The Comedy Network's schedule this week and if you can catch the Donald Trump Roast, do so.  My ribs still hurt I was laughing so hard.  Except for when The Situation of Jersey Shore fame got up, that was really, really bad.

Trouble in the land of the New York Knicks?  Not only are the Knicks struggling along around .500 in the 'Melo Era, the Denver Nuggets are winning games, and plenty of them, well north of .500 since the deal.

The Champions League quarter-final draw went Friday morning and we've got some juicy match-ups for sure.  I'll list the match-ups with my winner listed first.  Barcelona vs. Shaktar Donetsk, with the winner getting the winner of Real Madrid vs. Tottenham (though Ronaldo is nursing a sore hammy and may be out three weeks), and the winner of Manchester United vs. Chelsea and Inter Milan vs. Shalke meeting in the semi-finals.   The first legs go April 5/6.  Can't wait.  Prediction overall?  Barcelona vs. Man U/Chelsea in the finals (I think that one is that close, especially with Man U's problems with player health on defence).  Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp says his club wanted a date with Real.  They must've been really looking forward to it on Saturday when they drew 0-0 against lowly West Ham.  Maybe Redknapp figures it being Real's first trip to the quarters in seven years so there isn't much to be afraid of?

The less said of Toronto FC's opening 4-2 loss in Vancouver on Saturday, the better.  They were outclassed in every way, and their defending has never, ever looked worse.  A gutless performance mostly, though they did control the ball for stretches better than anytime in recent memory.

Jon "Bones" Jones is the new UFC Light Heavyweight Champion after a ridiculously dominant win over Mauricio "Shogun" Rua on Saturday night.  Bad ass.  Jones is also the youngest champion at 23 years.  In other fights, Cro Cop lost to Brandon Schaub.  How about you just Cro Stop?  Embarrassing seeing an alleged legend get his head handed to him like that.

Chad Ochocinco is on a try-out with the MLS squad Sporting Kansas City He calls it his childhood dream.  Of course, the MLS came into being when he was 18.

This is hard to do.  I have two entries in an NCAA pool, 43 entries deep.  I currently sit in first (and 99th percentile overall among Yahoo! entries), and last.  Some fantastic action this past weekend for what, to me, is always the best run of the tourney in the opening two rounds.  Wild finishes, bonehead plays (Pitt especially), and more than a few questionable calls, and way, way too much of the "Wiserhood".   Phil Jackson thinks I'm mostly just lucky lobbing a dart around the board.