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Saturday, April 16, 2011

El Clasico!

Not sure if it was the spirited debate in yesterday's "comments" section, but there actually turned out to be two pretty entertaining games in the NHL playoffs last night, with goals to boot.  Crazy, I know.  Shame it happened on the night the fewest people watch TV.   Not like the NHL to screw things up badly at all, after all.  For tonight, Zdeno Chara is questionable for the Boston Bruins after a bout of "dehydration" yesterday that landed him in the hospital.  Weird.

GolTV has what is sure to be the sporting event of the weekend as Barcelona visit Real Madrid at 4pm.  The best news on GolTV is that they're going HD.  Amen!  That game will lead into a decidedly less quality Toronto FC hosting of DC UnitedTFC need a win at home, if only to mix things up after a series of draws.

FA Cup action today with a Manchester derby in the offing in a little under a half hour at Wembley.  Tune into Setanta Sports for what should be a cracker of a game. 

The Toronto Blue Jays dumped the Boston Red Sox to 2-10 on the year now.  This is getting awesome in Beantown: the Sox suck, the Celtics limped to the regular season finish and look very flawed entering the NBA playoffs, Zdeno Chara is "dehydrated" with his Bruins in a virtual must-win before heading to tough-to-beat-at-home Montreal, and Tom Brady is turning into a weird, weird dude.

Winnipeg is about to start a season ticket campaign for their allegedly pending NHL squad.  Guess they missed the NHL's reaction to Jim Balsillie doing same in Hamilton?  Heard a comment that it costs about $90 million to operate an NHL team a season, and at an average of $100 a ticket, the Winnipeg squad would pull in $60 million in their 15,000 seat arena.  That leaves a pretty sizeable gap to fill from corporate sponsorship, TV and radio and so on.  Doesn't seem overly workable, does it?

It is Record Store Day, get on down to your local store and buy something.

I think national anthems at sporting events are largely pointless, but the fans at MLS expansion side Portland Timbers show us all how it is to be done.  Goosebumps. There was no lame screen prompts required to get the trained seals yelling "GO!" here.

Kiss cam fail at the ACC, courtesy of Jables.

Never have I seen better use of a ladder in a wrestling match, unintended though it may be.

Friday, April 15, 2011

If figuring out how many decimals you can calculate pi (or π ) is dull, what does it say that through 7 playoff games last night that the NHL had combined to average 3.14 goals a game?  Same as pi, minus a whole lot of decimal places.  The Montreal Canadiens downed the Boston Bruins 2-0 last night to take the lead in their seemingly annual playoff series.  Buffalo topped Philadelphia 1-0, and San Jose beat LA 3-2 in overtime to bump the average goals per game all the way up to 3.375.  No, those scores aren't typos.    Somebody needs to tell Brendan Shanahan et al to get back to the drawing board for ways to open up the game.

Now that the Houston Astros held on to win last night, every team has twice as many wins or more than the Boston Red Sox. The Toronto Blue Jays open a four game set in Boston this weekend where they'll look to pile on the Sox miseries.

Good thing the New York Yankees pulled it out in the 10th. Will gloss over Derek Jeter hitting - wait for it! - another feeble grounder to finish the 9th with a runner in scoring position. It would have got real hot if not for that.  So thank Tex, A-Rod and Swish, DJ.

The Detroit Red Wings were the Winnipeg Jets playoff opponent their last year before they were sent packing to Phoenix.  It would only make sense that the Wings were the Coyotes last opponents before the team goes back to the 'peg, no?  Of course, the NHL denies that a move is imminent.

Crazy what old Yankee Stadium looks like right now.  You can only recognize it by the bat in the distance.

Atlanta Brave Jason Heyward has walked 11 times this year and not once scored a run on those. Alex Gonzalez is 1-11 following those BB.  Maybe don't bat him 6th, Bravos?

The Tampa Bay Rays drew 10,042 last night.  What do you figure they'll draw in the middle of August if they aren't in the race?  Could be NHL-in-the-south crowds in attendance.  Move them or get a new stadium.  There's no other option.

Steve Simmons says that Toronto is futility city.

It should frighten Dallas Cowboys anytime you hear their coach Jason Garrett wants them to be like the Washington Redskins, but he's referring to how the 'skins players worked out during strike years and how that lead the team to Super Bowl wins.

Minnesota Twin Joe Mauer is on the DL with "leg weakness".  That's the weakest thing I've seen since Jose Calderon repeatedly going to the "soreness" card to skip out on games periodically.

The Toronto Blue Jays are seeking government cash for missing their home series against Philadelphia last year because of the G20 meeting.  Classy.  Guess they forgot who paid for that stadium that they ended up buying for pocket change.

If you were at all interested, the Miami Heat win four less games (57) than the Cleveland Cavs did last year when it was LeBron James and a bunch of relative nothings.

Back for more tomorrow, two vids to close out.

Check out what Alex Ovechkin calls teammate Alexander Semin during a post-game, broadcast through the arena and on TV interview. Hilarious.

Watch out for that chair, backyard wrestler.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Opening night of the playoffs and I didn't manage to catch a minute thanks to a night of Foo Fighters "Back and Forth" documentary in theatre's for a night, followed by Toronto FC on the PVR.  Doesn't sound like I missed too much in the way of electric games, though the Washington Capitals scored late to tie the New York Rangers before beating them in overtime.  Nashville did manage to win in Anaheim by a 4-1 score.  They were the lone visitor and underdog to win.  

Real Madrid downed Tottenham 1-0 to punch their Champions League semi-final dates with Barcelona.  The two will now face each other four times in 18 days adding those two games with a date in Madrid Saturday, and a Copa del Rey date next Wednesday.  Expect magic.  Real's Cristiano Ronaldo took the time to remind everyone that Barca are indeed human.  I have this feeling that Real just might down them in Champions League play.  Real manager Jose Mourinho has now reached the Champions League semis with four different teams, a record.  Damn impressive.  The other Champions League quarter saw Schalke finish off Inter Milan's disappointing campaign with a 2-1 home win.  They'll face Manchester United next in the semis, and United are in fine, fine form of late.

It was only the first day yesterday, but it was interesting to note that TSN Radio brought interviews with sporting types under the age of 40 to the airwaves. The Fan590 had me convinced it wasn't doable. On the downside, The Jim Rome Show wasn't on the air as originally advertised, with TSN instead picking up the ultra drab Dan Patrick and his show.

It pleases me to no end that New York Yankees starter AJ Burnett is now 3-0 after he pitched the Yanks to a win over Baltimore last night, which gives him one more win than the Boston Red Sox.  Let's hope he can finish ahead of them on the season. 

This spot has the 25 most terribly awesome ESPN baseball head shots.  Be sure to check out Toronto Blue Jay Travis Snider's entry.

Since Manny Ramirez "retirement", ESPN writer Buster Olney was discussing his Hall of Fame possibilities and essentially said he'd vote for Mark McGwire, but not Man Ram. Basically, his premise is that MLB did nothing to police juicing in the 90s/early 00s - as evident in there being no rules against such use - so how can you penalize everyone? But Manny broke an actual rule, so a different story.  I've been saying the same thing for year's.

The good news for TFC after last night's draw with the LA Galaxy: they're undefeated in four, and haven't choked a game away they were in with just minutes in the game like they so often did the past two seasons especially.  Julian De Guzman is looking closer to healthy, and made some solid plays last night, as did Adrian Cann for the second straight game.  Alen Stevanovic is a player. The bad: while they were playing one of the better teams in MLS last night in the visiting LA Galaxy, they took a step back from their play on Saturday in San Jose, and you really can't afford too many draws, especially at home. As for the Galaxy, David Beckham leads the league in yellow cards, so there is that.  Beck's picked up his fifth of the season last night and will now miss a game.  Post-game, Beck's ripped the officiating in the MLS, saying the refs are becoming the stars of the league.  Ouch.

Five NHL playoff games, and a mere 19 goals total.  Hope you were all pounding the under.

So after Kobe Bryant calls an official a "faggot" and then says he "didn't mean it like that", he gets nailed for a $100,000 fine.  Twitter brings the following courtest of DeKev:   "So a homophobe, a rapist, and a black guy walk into a bar, and everyone's like 'Can I have your autograph, Kobe?'"

David Beckham insists this Pepsi ad in which he hits three garbage cans with a shot is legit.  Frankly, I believe it.

Looks like last night's Sacramento Kings season closer may have been their last in north California, with a move to Anaheim likely.  Nice of the owners, the Maloff brothers to not even show up.  The announce crew got pretty emotional with it.

We'll call this backyard wrestling move "Powerbomb gone wrong".

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Playoff time in the NHL...who ya got?

Manchester United won a pulsating game over Chelsea 2-1 yesterday to book their spot in the Champions League semi-final.  Chelsea looked much better than last week but were undone especially by the play of Wayne Rooney, Ryan Giggs, Javier Hernandez and J.S. ParkChelsea did get the game to a draw with time to spare, which would have seen them advance had they scored another, but Didier Drogba's goal was canceled out 51 seconds later by Park.  They'll get the winner of the Schalke-Inter Milan quarter-final, which goes today.  The German side hold a 5-2 lead on aggregate, a huge hole for Inter to climb out of.  The other quarter yesterday saw Lionel Messi score his 48th goal in all competitions to lead Barcelona to a 1-0 win at Shaktar Donetsk.  They'll get the winner of the Real Madrid-Tottenham quarter which goes today, with Real holding a huge 4-0 lead on aggregate.  If I'm a betting man today, I'm hitting Inter Milan and the Real/Spurs over, and saying we'll see a Schalke-Man U and Real-Barca semi-finals pairing.

I'll spare my seemingly annual rant on how I miss the days where one conference in the NHL would play one night, the other the next and back and forth til the end.  Far easier to follow than this "who plays when?" scheduling to pander to the American networks.  Would've made doing half the picks today and half tomorrow  easier, so instead, all today.  In the East, I've got Washington topping the NY Rangers in six, Philadelphia in seven over Buffalo (though an upset wouldn't shock me there), Boston in six hard fought games over Montreal, and Tampa Bay topping Pittsburgh in six, though that could swing the other way if the Pens get anything out of Sidney Crosby.  In the West, I don't imagine the President's Cup winning Vancouver Canucks are too thrilled to get the defending champion Chicago Blackhaawks in the opening round, but they'll prevail in six games that expose the Hawks housecleaning last summer as a true mistake, unavoidable though it may have been.  I've got the San Jose Sharks knocking off the LA Kings in five, Detroit in six over Winnipeg Phoenix and Anaheim over Nashville in six games.

Toronto FC host the LA Galaxy tonight with David Beckham suiting up for the visitors.  This is the middle of three games in seven days for TFC, with kickoff at 8pm.

Well that didn't take long: Vernon Wells has already been benched in Anaheim for "trying to do too much".  

One final Chelsea item.  They're now another year on without winning the prize owner Roman Abramovich wants more than any other in the Champions League.  And since the millions he dropped on Fernando Torres haven't exactly worked out, here's a great little website that is not-so-cryptically entitled "Has Torres Scored For Chelsea".

Nice of the NFL to release its pre-season schedule for 2011.  That ought to get them all the attention they're after.  Why not announce the half-time entertainment for the Super Bowl next?

The Texas Rangers are 9-2, but they lost Josh Hamilton yesterday for 6-8 weeks with a busted arm thanks to a headfirst slide that he probably could've done without.

Granted, it is only an entertainment pub, but love this bit in Exclaim! entitled "Chris Bosh: from Canada's hero to America's punchline."  Guess that says something about us Canucks, huh? Oh, right, the Toronto Raptors are Canada's hoops punchline.

I love when the Yankees are sitting at home for two days, and still pick up a game.  Thanks for that, Boston and Toronto.

More backyard wrestling fail, and this might be the best one yet.  Love the barricades.

Have you seen the since-removed trailer for Hangover 2?  Check it here.  Awesome.  It was removed around the world for the "monk-ey" scene.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Check out Citi Field, home of the New York Mets, 17 minutes before first pitch last night. Imagine what that will look like when the Mets are 20 games out?

Two Champions League semi-finalists will get confirmed today.  Barcelona is all but a sure thing thanks to their 5-1 home demolition of Shaktar Dontesk last week and the return match in Donetsk all but a formality (2:45pm on TSN). But here's where it gets real interesting: Chelsea visit Manchester United with United having won the opening leg in London 1-0 last week, so a Chelsea 1-0 win sends this one to extra time.  Is that what I expect?  No, not with Fortress Old Trafford in play for the Red Devils.  I'm again going conservative here with a 1-1 draw, with coverage on Setanta at 2:45.

The Tampa Bay Rays entered last night having scored 20 runs for the season, a far cry from their pace last year where they scored the third most in the game.  Last night's 16 on Boston will have aided things.  And Memo to MLB Teams: do not buy the hype on any Japanese pitcher coming over for a giant posting fee and salary.  The names Hideki Irabu, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Kei Igawa are cautionary tales, one and all.

Perhaps the most impressive number in Steve Nash's huge collection of: for 9 straight seasons, his teams lead the NBA in offensive efficiency.  That comes to an end this year.  Hall of Famer, slam dunk.

Here's one to make a few Buffalo Bills fans I know shudder.  Rumor has it that wherever Cam Newton gets drafted, a QB that shares the same agent will also go to mentor him.  Yep, Brett Favre.

Ron Wilson is the only coach in Toronto Maple Leafs history to lead the team to three straight years without a playoff appearance - and the Leafs have certainly afforded many opportunities to achieve three straight misses - and it looks like he'll keep his job. Meanwhile, coaches all around him on the outside-looking-in list are getting canned.

The Toronto Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners entered MLB in the same year. The Jays have two World Series to the M's none. Beyond that, they share empty stadiums in common. See that "crowd" last night with King Felix Hernandez on the hill?  Just over 13,000, their lowest number in 12 years at Safeco Field. They could deal him to New York and I'm not sure any locals in the Pacific Northwest would notice for weeks. Some exaggeration there, admittedly.   Oh, and if you're like me, you missed the Jays implosion last night.  Up 7-0, they lost 8-7.  What the hell was manager John Farrell thinking intentionally putting the winning run on base?

ESPN is among the bidders for the NHL's hockey rights, where they'd show games on ESPN2 and the Stanley Cup Finals on ABC.  $200 million a year isn't much, but better than any U.S. package I can ever recall.  If Gary Bettman has an ounce of brains, he jumps to be on the sports leader.  Come on Gary, prove that a blind squirrel can find a nut.

Derek Jeter's 2011 so far: of the 28 outs he has recorded this year, just three (including a sacrifice fly) have been made in the outfield.

Hands up, who had the Cleveland Indians with an 8-2 record and leading the AL Central?  Me neither, figured they'd be dead last wire to wire.

22:05.  That's the total time, in minutes and seconds, that Manny Ramirez spent at the plate and on the bases as a Tampa Bay Ray.  Graphic evidence here.  Amazing what people come up with on the interweb.

AJ Burnett is 7-0 as a New York Yankee in April historically. Now to convince him every month is April

A little Bridge Burning for a Tuesday morning.  Get on down to your local record store and grab Foo Fighters "Wasting Light" today.  You'll thank me later.

See Charlie Villanueva's act last night in Detroit?  He got into it with Ryan Hollis, and once both were ejected, CV took a run at him again and challenged him to finish in the locker room area, which I didn't see Hollis rushing to take him up on.  Not shown: security and police keeping CV from entering the Cavs locker room later.  Somewhere, that false tough guy Kevin Garnett has to be sweating.  When was the last time you saw a Toronto Raptor care like that?

As versions of the U.S. anthem go, this one is my favorite.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Weekend wrap...

Weird, but true: Montreal hosted the Olympics in 1976 and won the Stanley Cup in 1977. Calgary hosted the Olympics in 1988 and won the Stanley Cup in 1989. And after hosting the world last year, Vancouver looks to do the deed this year.  As much as they've struggled at times this year, I would not want to be facing the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks in the first round, however.

Add St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke to the list of American owners investing into the point of majority ownership of an English Premier League team.  Kroenke is poised to be the majority owner of Arsenal.  He joins Tampa Bay Bucs ownership in  Manchester United, Cleveland Browns in Aston Villa and the Boston Red Sox who own Liverpool among U.S. owners in the EPL.

After watching a bit of the Toronto Blue Jays 14-inning loss on Saturday in Anaheim, I'm thinking Travis Snyder should have music for when he goes out to left. Here's my suggestion.

At what point does penciling in Derek Jeter to hit first or second become a fireable offense for Yankees Manager Joe Girardi?  Jeter is looking terrible.  He was only the flattest of a flat Yankee squad last night in a 4-0 loss in Boston.  Starting pitcher CC Sabathia has given up one run in 12.2 innings pitched over his last two starts, and the Yanks lost both.  That's not going to work for a team that almost needs to win 70% plus of the games he starts with the question marks starting behind him, only made worse by Phil Hughes lost velocity.

Strange NHL playoff stat: the state of California has more playoff teams than Canada.

I'm no expert on concussions, but doesn't it seem odd that if a Toronto Maple Leaf suffers a concussion, they send him home to Toronto in a limo rather than flying him, while the Toronto Blue Jays fly guys around?  The Jays flew Yunel Escobar to the coast on the weekend, as they did with Aaron Hill previously.

Only in Canada would an election debate be moved so as not to conflict with the Montreal Canadiens start to the playoffs on Thursday.  Here's a thought for Habs haters out there: suggest to your Hab friends the debate be pushed back a week as the Habs won't be in conflict anymore at that point.  And then duck.  Second thought: ask them how they like their Habs.  When they ask if you do, suggest you like them Chara Broiled.  Pulled that one out yesterday and even my Hab loving friends loved it.

An English police chief said that if it had happened in his jurisdiction, he'd have had Manchester United's Wayne Rooney arrested for swearing a couple weeks back.  At least he's not being ridiculous.  Man U boss Sir Alex Ferguson tore the chief a new one in this amazing bitch slapping.

Going to guess that Tiger Woods wasn't all that impressed with the questions from Bill Macatee at CBS.  The way the response went on Twitter after this, you'd have thought people expected pre-2009 Tiger to feed people pablum. 

More backyard wrestling fails.  Am I the only one that loves these?