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Friday, April 1, 2011

A whole lotta baseball, and more

Seems a bit much to go and do my MLB picks with a bunch of games in the books, but here you have it nonetheless: AL East - Boston; AL Central - Minnesota; AL West - Oakland; AL Wild Card - NY YankeesNL East - Atlanta; NL Central - Milwaukee; NL West - San Francisco; NL Wild Card - Philadelphia.  

San Francisco opened their title defence last night on the wrong end of a 2-1 loss to the LA Dodgers, with Clayton Kershaw pitching a gem.  Milwaukee homered twice to open the game, and led the entire way until the end in a wild 7-6 win for Cincinnati, and Jered Weaver was dominant in the Anaheim win over the Kansas City Royals.  Oh, and Curtis Granderson looked fantastic in the field and at the plate in leading the Yankees to a 6-3 opening day win.  Hope you played the over there as advised.

Why I think it is ridiculous that Boston is being handed the AL East, nevermind the division: Is it crazy to think that CC Sabathia can match or outdo Boston’s lefty ace Jon Lester? Of course not.  Can Phil Hughes not be the equal or better of Boston’s young, high-ceiling righty Clay Buchholz? Sure can.  Can AJ Burnett not rebound better than his one-time Marlins teammate Josh Beckett, whose 5.78 ERA last year was actually far worse than Burnett’s? Why not?  And can Ivan Nova and Freddie Garcia - or whomever gets looked at come June - not provide a back-end competence similar or better than John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka?  That's the only one that's really a question to me.  Not a question: the Yankees have a better offence, and bullpen.  I'm fully expecting a great race in the East and wouldn't be shocked in the least if the Yankees ended up winning.  Don't think Tampa has enough bullpen - Kyle Farnsworth is closing, after all - and Toronto and Baltimore aren't quite there yet.

When, other than April Fool's Day, would the Toronto Blue Jays home opener be more fitting?  And if you're down with April Fool's Day, you're a loser.

They won't make the playoffs this year, but the second half Toronto Maple Leaf run sure has to be making Brian Burke and the Leafs brain trust feel better about their prospects for next year.  The Leafs won again last night, besting Boston with a 4-3 shootout win.  And don't you miss the days in the NHL when "shootout" meant high scoring, open game, and not penalties to break a tie?

Love that the same guys that call NHL fights "entertaining" hammer the shootout, which is certainly entertaining, and at least necessary by the rules today.

Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal will play today on U.S. soil.  Somehow, it is only the first time in six years.  How'd that happen?

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Opening Day!!

Opening Day of the MLB season is here, and it is always one of my personal favorite days of the sporting year.  Still don't understand why MLB hasn't thought to open in warmer, southern cities or domes as much as possible, and am sure there will be that debate renewed the first time a city gets hit with heavy cold or snow in the next couple weeks.  At any rate, in honour of the season starting, here are 40 celebs, mostly hot, throwing out opening pitches.  ESPN's panel of experts have their predictions for who we'll be seeing in the playoffs come October, and who will come out as the World Series winner.  If you hate the Boston Red Sox, you will not be happy as 33 of 45 picked the Sox to win the World Series.    UniWatch covers the latest in team jersey's.  Didn't know the Jays were ditching the powdered blues.

It doesn't matter who beat them, but the Detroit Red Wings, who have been good for what feels like decades now, got pounded 10-3 last night by the St. Louis Blues.  That won't do wonders for the question marks around their goaltending heading into the playoffs in less than two weeks.

I'm sure that Toronto FC will be thrilled to hear their highest paid player, Julian De Guzman, say this of his club: “I’ve never had a chance to be a part of an organized [soccer] structure since I’ve been here, and once I am fit I’m looking forward to being a part of this system.”  JDG is at least a few weeks away from health.

If sports leagues aren't concerned about head injuries, they haven't been paying attention to articles like these on Boston Bruin Marc Savard, who continues to suffer from memory loss, post-concussion symptoms and memory loss.

An over/under of 96.5 for Philadelphia Phillies wins?  I'll bet the under on that.  I don't care if  you've added Cliff Lee, an offence that struggled last year loses Jayson Werth and now sees Chase Utley "hoping" to be back at the All-Star break cannot be good.

If New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera were given a nickname, "Metronome" might be about right.  He has been a closer for 14 years. In his first seven seasons as a closer, 1997-2003, Rivera led the majors with 278 saves. In his second seven seasons as a closer, 2004-2010, Rivera led the majors with 276 saves.  That tank is not close to empty.

Yankees and Tigers on Sportsnet at 1pm, if you've "got an appointment" to make this afternoon.  Word is the weather is cold and rainy, so if it goes, an "over" play on 8 might be in order.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

While most will love to hear that the Cleveland Cavaliers pounded the Miami Heat last night - 102-90 - and even more will laugh at LeBron James for being "in the bathroom" during player introductions, after showing up to the arena wearing a jacket saying "Long Live The King".  Nobody will have enjoyed the win more than boxer Floyd "Money" Mayweather, who dropped $50,000 on the Cavs to cover the +12.5.

If Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski will ever leave that program to take an NBA job, you'd have to think this summer and the LA Lakers might be the time and place with Phil Jackson seeming committed to retirement.  He's been close before to heading to the Lakeshow, by his own admission, and certainly is tight with Kobe Bryant by all indications.

It is a felony aggravated assault with a deadly weapon charge for Tampa Bay Buc Aqib Talib, and his mother.  It could be worse, he could've used Evan Longoria's AK-47.

Not sure what this means, but 11 of the Washington Nationals players are Scott Boras clients.  Maybe he's got an ownership stake we don't know about? 

Somebody didn't let the 5,000-1 odds scare them from dropping a tenner on VCU to win the NCAA tourney, and now they're a mere two wins away from a killer $50,000 payday.

Speaking of gambling, here are the odds on the Toronto Blue Jays finishes in the division, as well as over/under for attendance, at  1st 16/1, 2nd 7/1, 3rd 2/1, 4th 3/2 5th 2/1. Jays average attendance Over/Under is 20,000.  

The Ultimate Fighter's new season starts tonight on UFC's exclusive Canadian partner in SportsNet.  Note the nice scar under Brock Lesnar's left eye that was left by Cain Velasquez when he took the Heavyweight title several months back.

Tom Verducci at looks at 11 storylines heading into the 2011 MLB season, which of course starts tomorrow afternoon.  Here are some more MLB predictions from Ken Rosenthal.

If you didn't get your final vote in for Colin Cowherd's Rock Band March Madness, you're too late.  The winners are...The Beatles.

Why the Ottawa Senators, and their fans, suck:

I love that Chad Ochocinco loves soccer, as you can see in the joy on his face when told he'll get to play in a reserve game, and spoke in glowing terms about the talents he's seen while working out with Sporting Kansas City, but watching this background vid below, it is clear to me he should be around a pro soccer about as much as Michael Jackson belonged around a kids tee-ball game.  Simply put, he's terrible.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Oh that Tiger Woods, back up to his old tricks.

Euro 2012 qualifying resumes today I the only one underwhelmed by these match-ups?

A Todd Bertuzzi flying tricep that got the Detroit Red Wing booted last night resulted in Ryan Johnson needing part of his ear being sewed back on.  Eeew.  Video here.  Love Mike Johnson at TSN taking up for him in an abuse of the language.  The suggestion his previous "one off's" shouldn't be a frame of reference for this discussion.  Right, and a guy busted for drunk driving once shouldn't have a drunken brawl brought up from year's back.  Please.

Forbes magazine has published a report on TV revenues in baseball and reported that the New York Yankees TV network produced $400 million in revenue last year.  By way of comparison, the Texas Rangers signed one of the best deals - said to be top two or three in the game - that sees them pull $75 million a year.

Start your clock on Andrea Bargnani's time as a Toronto RaptorThe end is near, and not a moment too soon. 

The spring training home of Tampa Bay Rays Evan Longoria, David Price and Reid Brignac was robbed of around $56,000 in cash and goods, including Longoria's AK-47.  Who hasn't had their AK ripped?

Joel Sherman puts forth a pretty compelling argument that CC Sabathia might be the best Yankee free agent signing ever.  My fantasy squad sure hopes he continues on that path.  Sabathia will have a hell of a gun pointed at the Yankees heads when he opts out of his contract after this season.

The Florida Marlins will cease to exist after this season, coming back in 2012 as the Miami Marlins.

Early yesterday, a poll at the Toronto Star had 35% of the 7,000 or so voters picking the Toronto Blue Jays to win the AL East this year.  Still a whole lot of suckers out there, it seems.

Stay classy, Gregg Zaun.

One guy you might not be seeing on Hard Knocks if indeed it covers the Tampa Bay Bucs is cornerback Aqib Talib Allegations of pistol whipping your sisters boyfriend and then firing shots at him as he fled on foot tend to be bad for the image, if we know Roger Goodell in the least.  Not to mention what John Q. Law thinks.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Chalk walks

How is this for crazy: there were 12 NCAA Tournament games since Thursday. Underdogs won 8 of them.   At, only 2 brackets out of 5.9 million-plus entered in Tournament Challenge got the entire Final Four correct.  Personally, I'm pulling for Kentucky to take it as the the last 6 times they've won, the New York Yankees have won the World Series the same year. I'm with Ashley Judd.

If Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter was looking for a reaction to his criticisms last week of Derek Jeter and Theo Epstein, he got a couple.  Jeter hit him with a nice and sarcastic back hand here - rare for him to take a stand - and it was backed statistically that he receives more bad strike calls inside than Showalter would have you believe, and Tito Francona took up for his boss with a solid rebuke of Showalter. 

MLB trivia time: what active MLB pitcher has the most post-season wins?  Answer below.
Freak NHL stat: Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury has had shutouts on March 25th in 2011, 2009, 2008 and 2007.  The Penguins didn't play on that day in 2010.

It seems more and more like MLB will add a second wild-card team to each league for the 2012 season, which ought to make fans of the non-big two in the AL East happy.

NFL Draft geeks will be happy to know that the NFL Draft is in one month.  Get your popcorn ready!  Speaking of popcorn, word is this year's HBO Hard Knocks will follow the Tampa Bay Bucs, assuming of course there is a camp to video.  If you've not seen Hard Knocks before, run down a torrent of it.  Always good stuff.  

Trivia answer: New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera.

Have finally thawed out enough to add this magic goal from Javier Martina that secured Toronto FC's 2-0 win on Saturday at BMO Field over the Portland Timbers.  It wasn't a pretty effort, but I'm thinking we'll be lucky to see a goal as nice as this all season.

As there has been in plenty of games around the globe of late, the soccer world has been observing a moment's silence in respect for Japan and the people that have lost their lives in the earthquake and tsunami a few weeks back.  The U.S. hosted Argentina on Saturday night in New Jersey, and as you'll see at the 0:37 second mark or so here, not all are entirely respectful.