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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Finally, RM is here for today...

Apologies for the delay.  Real life got in the way today, happens about once a month.  So a relatively quick one here, while I wish you all a great long weekend.

Something tells me that Arcade Fire singing "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" at Wrigley Stadium this Saturday during the 7th inning stretch isn't going to go over all that well.

I would just like to confirm, for the record, that I am not Steve Buffery at the Toronto Sun, but he might well be an RM reader.

Why the hockey playoffs suck
By ,Toronto Sun

TORONTO - Sitting in my hell hole of a rec room on Monday night, watching the Boston Bruins lumber past the Montreal Canadiens, I thought to myself: If I’m forced to witness one more intercepted pass or one more blocked shot, I’m going to scream.

Two seconds later, I screamed. And that, unfortunately, drew the ire of a certain teenager upstairs, who ordered me to “pipe down.”

According to Bubba, fathers should be seen, not heard — and seen only during the weekly “handing out of the allowance” ceremony.

Even then, I’m not supposed to speak. I’m like one of them Buckingham Palace guards — stay alert, but don’t talk.

Anyway, here’s the deal with playoff hockey: I don’t consider guys diving in front of shots exciting.

It’s brave. The guys are tough, no question, taking one for the team and all that, hip hip, Bob’s your uncle, etc., etc. But is it exciting? No.

But that’s playoff hockey.  It’s all about passion. Which is good, to an extent. In the playoffs, unfortunately, they seem to pipe up the intensity and dull down the skill. Just like a federal election.

Listen, I absolutely love the intensity of playoff hockey.

I love good, clean hits.

I love the atmosphere in and around the arenas during playoff hockey, particularly how Rangers fans last night serenaded Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau.

I love all them analysts and experts and the guys who stand at those bright, shiny desks who “hear things” from sources. It’s great.

I even don’t mind the those filthy playoff beards.

It’s the actual hockey I’m not really digging. By and large — and I emphasis that — it’s been less than great.

Yes, there have been some exciting games. My colleague, Steve Simmons — who’s a big fan of the rock garden at the Thornhill Golf & Country Club — actually emailed me last night to suggest that it was a bad night to write that playoff hockey was boring. He pointed out that most of last night’s games were good. And, indeed, they were. But one night does not a playoff round make. Overall, in the first week of action, the post-season, in my opinion, has been lacking.

It’s not just that there aren’t a lot of goals some nights, though last night the floodgates opened somewhat.

It’s just that the teams are over-coached and, unfortunately, teams seem to be over-coached on defence, not offence. I can only guess that it’s easier and safer to coach defence than offence.

Everybody is always in position now, at least defensively. Nobody seems to be open. There’s no room to create skilled plays. Odd man rushes seem to occur only when there’s a bad line change, which happens all the time because the coaches are anal when it comes to matching up lines and timing shifts.

I won’t more creativity. I want more flow. I want some wide open action.

Look at the Boston Bruins roster. Wouldn’t you expect more than the dull way they plod up and down the ice?

I want bigger ice, dammit (but that’s a rant for another day).

What you get now (and, yes, there are exceptions) is tons of intercepted passes (yawn) because there are no open guys. You get neutral zones being clogged up. You get eight guys standing in front of the goaltender looking for, and trying to prevent, garbage goals — which are the norm in playoff hockey. Too many guys score goals in the playoffs look like they’re digging onions.

And this is what you get after games. You get TV, newspaper and radio guys interviewing the always illuminating Colin Campbell, instead rehashing great plays and wonderful rushes. They might not want to interview Colie, but they have to. Colin Campbell is the guy to talk to after the NHL releases its daily ‘suspension roll call.’

And after that, you get 25 TV analysts discussing whether a hit deserves a one-, two- or three-game suspension.

Who #$%^&*@ cares?

As our associate sports editor Jon McCarthy, who lost his H back in the blizzard of ’94, points out, there is no Sidney Crosby in these playoffs, no Evgeni Malkin and Steven Stamkos has but one assist.

But, hey, but at least there’s Phoenix Coyotes relocation talk. That’s always really exciting.

That'll be it til Monday, enjoy the long weekend, and more than a few sports options.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Chicago Blackhawks aren't going to go out without making some noise at least. The hammered the Vancouver Canucks 7-2 last night, and Vince Vaughn gave Roberto Luongo the business.  The 'nucks are up 3-1.

ProFootballTalk says if you look at the NFL schedule, released last night, and the pile of marquee games slated for Week 1, you have to take it as a sign the league doesn't believe they'll be missing any games that early.  A thought on why you release a schedule with no labour deal: gets the players competitive juices going, and  thinking about the paycheques they'd be pulling around then, don't it?

Tough night for the fans of L.A. sports teams: the Kings blew a 4-0 lead - at home - before losing a 6-5 thriller to the San Jose Sharks, while the L.A. Dodgers allowed 8 runs in the 9th in a 10-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves.

It won't be too often that the New York Yankees pen of RoJoSoMo doesn't get the job done, particularly the "Mo" part of that, but he and it failed last night in a wild ninth in Toronto.  If there's one thing to be impressed with about the Jays early, it is that they're not sitting around waiting to hit homers like they did during Cito Gaston's reign. The Jays won a 6-5 extra inning affair.

The Minnesota Twins have scored the fewest runs in the majors (50), have drawn the fewest walks (40), have the worst slugging (.315) and have hit the fewest homeruns (5).  Other than that, they're doing great.

More information has come out in the case of Detroit Tiger Miguel Cabrera's drunk driving case.  In addition to pounding scotch from a bottle, he was also driving the wrong way down the road (solid!).

The NHL signed a $2 billion deal with NBC/Versus to continue to carry their games.  Oh, it is for 10 years?  Nevermind, not a big deal, unless you consider they're getting peanuts right now.  Wonder what they might have got if they were smart enough - hell, even the WWE figured this one out - that if you clean up the nonsense in the game, you actually grow it and don't lose your hardcore fanbase?

New York Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni was saying before last nights narrow loss to the Boston Celtics that Carmelo Anthony is "the best finisher in the last 10 years" of the NBA, which prompted this awesome response from Charles Barkley: "Is Kobe Bryant dead or something?"

Backyard wrestling moves never grow old.  Bonus points to these clowns for the authenticity of the ring.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sheen gets blowtorched

Cannot help but laugh at the picture at right that the was posted yesterday at The Score.  Simply entitled "Pasta Diving Jeter", it makes so much more sense when you say the "pasta" slowly and remember what happens all too often with Jeter at short.

The Montreal Canadiens got away from that which has made them successful the last two years in the playoffs: they went and outshot their opponent last night so, of course, they lost.  The Boston Bruins won 4-2 to get back in the series, albeit down 2-1.  Bruce Arthur at the National Post looks at the "admirably boring" Canadiens.

All four roadies were winners in the NHL last night, with Detroit putting Phoenix on the brink of elimination, possibly as a team in Phoenix.  Philadelphia now holds a 2-1 lead over Buffalo, and Pittsburgh leads Tampa Bay 2-1 in their series.  Can't figure out how there are only two games on the schedule tonight with eight series in play.  Lame.

The home cooking was working in the NBA, with both home sides winning last night.  Chicago beat Indy by a 96-90 count to take a 2-0 series lead, and Miami hammered Philly 94-73 to take a 2-0 series lead.  Lot fewer upsets in the NBA if history tells us anything.

Crazy MLB stat: after last night's win, the Chicago Cubs have been 1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, 5-5, 6-6, 7-7 and now 8-8 on the season.  Bet accordingly.  Another crazy one: the New York Mets were swept on double headers twice in three days last week.  They're going to redefine the term "trainwreck" this year.  And hands up, who had the Cleveland Indians tied for the best record in the game at 12-4 at this juncture?

Cam Cole at the Vancouver Sun says that after hometown player Raffi Torres was not suspended for his head shot on the Chicago Blackhawks Brent Seabrook, it is clearly open season on behind the net head shots.  Love that he references the "Campbell Wheel of Justice".  Funnier still are the comments from Canucks Fan going off on him for not having Torres' back.  Just shows who is ready for 4:20 tomorrow and who isn't.   Damien Cox at the Toronto Star took the "circus" that is the NHL to task, again.

Word is the NFL schedule is out today. Don't imagine it will have the usual buzz attached to it.

The Philadelphia Phillies have outscored opponents 15-0 in the first inning this year.

25 funniest "that's what she said" photos.

There are roasts, and then there is this.  Roastmaster General Jeff Ross takes a blowtorch to Charlie Sheen.  An incredible 9 minutes that you must see.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Boston Bruins are 0-26 when trailing 0-2, which they are after dropping another game at home to the Montreal Canadiens.  The Vancouver Canucks have the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks on the ropes with a commanding 3-0 series lead.  Shame the salary cap cost the Hawks so much of their roster from last year, most of them home grown players.  Nashville leads Anaheim 2-1 in a series that has seven games - and probably overtime - written all over it. The Detroit Red Wings lead Phoenix 2-0 in their series, and the rest of the series are all at a game each if I'm not missing something.

The New York Knicks choking away a game they looked to have had well in hand in Boston yesterday comes off as one of those "there goes the series" losses.  Not sure how you recover from that one.  Carmelo Anthony better have some kind of game two before they go back to New York or he might wish he never asked to go there.

The New York Yankees have blown two saves this year, both in starts by CC Sabathia.  If this keeps up, he's going to start thinking it is a ploy to keep his numbers down before he enters free agency at the end of this season.  The Yanks pulled it out in the 9th anyways with Eric Chavez capping a week in which they won series' from two division leaders at the time in Baltimore and Texas.

The Boston Red Sox won their second straight over the Toronto Blue Jays yesterday, leaving only the Houston Astros and Minnesota Twins as teams that have yet to win two straight.  On the other side of the coin, the Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies and Colorado Rockies are the only teams who haven't lost two straight.

The Orlando Magic got 46 points and 19 rebounds from Dwight Howard on Saturday and still lost their series opener by 10, at home.  I'm sure they'll be just fine when he leaves after next year for free agency and the LA Lakers.

The New York Rangers won a 3-2 decision over the Washington Capitals to halve the series lead for the Caps.  That Brandon Dubinsky winner for the Rangers was a real work of art but as Bobby Heenan used to say, sometimes it is better to be lucky than good. Come on DeKev, you know I had to.

ESPN's Michael Wilbon says the cost of investigating Barry Bonds was FIVE TIMES the cost of the 9/11 Commission.  Well done, USA.

Tom Verducci at looks at why some pitchers are so difficult to hit.

Maybe Toronto FC are struggling under new manager Aron Winter because they don't have the right players to work his system?  They sure don't in the wide defenders.

World map of average breast size.  The Russian ladies are bringing the heat!

Foo Fighters blast through their new record, live from their Studio 606. A great way to spend 49 minutes at the office.  This was recorded on the 17th anniversary of Kurt Cobain's death, hence the "K" taped on Dave Grohl's guitar.

This is from Friday, but New York Rangers coach John Tortorella once again went off on NY Post columnist Larry Brooks.

Dynamite goal in Dutch league play in the last round of games.  Love the celebration too.

Come to find out that in backyard wrestling, when you go into a flaming sheet of plywood, the flames occasionally like to light your clothes and skin on fire.