I just don’t get it

September 10, 2008

http://www.cbc.ca/gfx/images/sports/photos/2008/09/08/federer-roger-392-cp-080908.jpgby Aaron O’connell… If someone can give me a legitimate reason why the men’s U.S. Open final was not televised or where it was televised in Canada, I would give them a million bucks.
The fact is there’s no possible reason why Canadian tennis fans had to suffer by missing a piece of tennis history.

It may not have been a shot at a fifth straight Wimbledon title which is declared as tennis’ greatest tournament, but lets face it, five straight U.S. Open titles isn’t bad either.
Roger Federer has now won 13 major championships, one behind ‘Pistol’ Pete Sampras for most career grand slams and is pushing his status as the top player tennis has ever seen.

If people don’t think that Canada has die-hard tennis fans then they are wrong because a few friends and myself sat in front of a laptop watching for every time another game won, was added to the score on the official U.S. Open website.
And because we weren’t in the U.S. region we couldn’t actually watch the match online, we just simply had to watch the scoreboard.
Trust me, we were not the happiest group of tennis fans, but we had to follow the match somehow.

I know that the actual final was supposed to be played on the Sunday and was pushed back a day due to rainy weather. I understand that sports channels already had something booked in their five o’clock Monday time slot, but you would think at least one of them would clue in and say, ‘hey we could make a lot of money if we broadcasted the U.S. Open tonight’.

It didn’t turn out to be a five set Nadal-Federer marathon classic like everyone was hoping for.

Instead it was the young Scotsman, Andy Murray making history of his own, playing in his first grand slam final.

Even though Federer took the match quite easily in three sets you can bet that it won’t be Murray’s last grand slam final of his career.

The 21-year-old has had tennis fans on their feet all year whether it be showing off his all-around game, winning hard-battled five-setters, or pumping his fist while pointing to his bicep after winning a huge point.

As tennis itself added another chapter to its history, Canadian fans unfortunately will have to skip this one. Yes I’ve watched the high lights numerous times, but it’s not the same as watching the actual match start to finish.

Someone will be scratching their head wondering why on earth they didn’t broadcast the match.

I guess next year if there’s a rain delay and the tournament is pushed back, I’ll just have to hop on a plane and take a trip to New York to watch it live. I mean it might only be a chance to see Federer win six in a row. Big deal. Right?

Leafs D Need To Show Some Guts.

September 10, 2008

by Ross Vennare… The Toronto Maple Leafs finally got rid of Bryan McCabe. What’s next?

I’m not going to get into much discussion about this because it’s kind of old news and I really don’t care. I’m just going to say a few things about this team.

I remember when I was just ten years old, a defensman who wore number two (2) for the Maple Leafs. His name is Sylvain Lefebve. He was one tough SOB who made the opposition think twice about getting in front of the net or going into the boards with him. Add Jamie Macoun to that mix and the Leafs were the second best defensive team in the league during the 1992-93 season. Now, they are just about the worst.

The Maple Leafs made a fatal mistake when they traded Jason Smith away after he punished his opponents
to help his team advance to the third round of the 1999 playoffs. Ever since he left, the blue line turned red. Tomas Kaberle looked like the only defenseman that teams were actually worried about. The way that guy stick handles and moves the puck, he could be easily mistaken for a power forward. He is able to skate the puck out of his own end and create a good play under any circumstance.

He’s a guy you can use in any given situation and he will never, ever disappoint. There is a reason why he has been here since he played his first game against the Detroit Red Wings to open the 1998-99 season at Maple Leaf Gardens. Ten years later, he is still here and currently sports the ‘A’ on his sweater.

The Leafs are going to have to start watching the flashbacks on Leafs TV and see what worked for them in the past. Take out the old VHS tape ‘The Passion Returns’ and see how guys like Todd Gill kept the dogs away from ‘The Cat.’

If this team is going to have any hope of making the playoffs, they’re going to have to make sure that Vesa Toskala is not overworked and make his job easier. Don’t make the guy make the second and third save because you’re too busy chasing your shadow around. Show some guts and get the hard hat and the hammer out - make ‘em pay! Commit to defense, express yourself on offense.

That’s all for today, folks!

In the Pocket

September 10, 2008

http://blog.masslive.com/sports_impact/2008/09/large_brady_injured.jpgby Daniel Reiter… By now the word about Tom Brady’s knee injury has made news across North America as everyone waits in anticipation to see which direction the suddenly vulnerable Patriots will go at quarterback.

Thinking about how this has changed things in the AFC East is mind blowing. The affect it is going to have on the Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets is massive. Without Brady leading the way for the Pats and with damn good performances from the Bills and Jets in week one it seems that any of these 3 teams could win the AFC East.

The Bills came out with guns-a-blazin’ against the slightly favoured Seattle Seahawks and blew them out of the water 34-10 with impressive performances all around. The Bills made the clear choice in going with QB Trent Edwards as the starter. He has obviously improved since last season and will probably get better as his confidence improves as the season wears on. As a rookie last season RB Marshawn Lynch was impressive and in week one picked up right where he left off rushing 18 times for 76 yards.

The Jets’ big offseason story continues to play out as a fairytale with Brett Favre impressing in his Jets debut taking down an improved Miami Dolphins 20-14. Granted the Dolphins are not a wildcard threat this season but they are not the same team that was circling in the toilet bowl last season. Favre went 15/22 for 194 yards and 2 TDs while veteran RB Thomas Jones is looking towards another +1000 yard rushing season pounding out 101 yards on 22 attempts in Sunday’s win.

Each of these teams will play the Brady-less Patriots twice this season, and guess what? Their chances of winning just got a whole lot better. Now all of a sudden the 9-7 Jets could be 11-5 same goes for the Bills, with a little luck the Dolphins might actually pull out a close game or even a win over the Patriots as well. Okay maybe not, but it will certainly be interesting to see how the Pats now perform against teams who they surely would have demolished without Brady in the lineup.

The real test will be in week two when the Jets take on the Patriots in their first full game without Brady and still probably riding a high after finding out that Favre still has something left in the tank.

Let’s not take everything away from the rest of the Patriots team though. They are still packed with talent, so who will pick up the slack? Well it certainly won’t be at quarterback with Matt Cassel who should be a career backup that might get the Patriots a split over the rest of the season after barely beating the Kansas City Chiefs last week, a team the Pats would normally walk through. Over his 4 year career Cassel has thrown for a whopping 405 yards completing 35 of 57 passes. By comparison Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb hit 21 of 33 passes on Sunday for 361 yards, only 44 yards shy of Cassel’s entire career yardage.

Laurence Maroney should not be overlooked at all. On a team that is dedicated to its passing game Maroney still managed to run for over 800 yards last season, and with Brady’s injury can probably expect his first +1000 yard season as they will probably not be going to the air as often.

Randy Moss is also a factor who will make any quarterback look better than they are, but his life was much easier when he was catching passes from one of the game’s best. He almost caught 1500 yards worth of passes last season and without Brady in the lineup you can expect that total to drop a little. Pint sized receiver Wes Welker will also miss Brady’s presence as he had a breakout season last year with over 1100 yards receiving. His production will probably drop quite a bit as any quarterback taking over will likely not be use to passing to such a small target, regardless of the fact that he puts up big stats.

Overall the loss of Brady can be looked at by just one overwhelming stat from last season, his QB Rating of 117.2. No other QB was even close to this last season with Ben Roethlisgerger coming in at 104.1 but still passing for 1700 fewer yards than Brady. Or how about the 50 TD passes Brady made last season, which eclipsed Tony Romo’s second best 36 TD passes with arguably equally good receivers in Dallas, and possibly a better offensive line too boot.

There is obviously no replacing Brady’s production and stats aside just having him on the field puts faith into the rest of his offense that he will make something happen when they need it to happen.

So who’s left for the Patriots to choose from?

Recently retired Daunte Culpepper may be persuaded out of retirement to play with former teammate Randy Moss, but his knees are a big question mark after failing miserably in Miami and Oakland in the waning years of his career. His time may be passed, but his experience and presence may be what the Patriots need to forge on.

His name hasn’t really been passed around either but 44 year old Vinny Testaverde might be a good option to start few games or even back up Matt Cassel to avoid having to go to their third stringer who Testaverde even in his old age is probably better than. Testaverde did have a brief stint with the Patriots during the 2006 season and may be familiar with the offensive system and some of the players.

Other options for the Pats could be more failed Dolphins quarterbacks in Cleo Lemon who is currently backing up David Garrard in Jacksonville and Josh McCown who is third string in Carolina with little chance of seeing the field behind Jake Delhomme. Draft picks might be an attractive lure to either of these teams at this point in the season if the Patriots are willing to part with them.

It is likely that the second Brady walked off the field the big brains in the Patriots head office went to work finding out who was available and explored all the aforementioned options. They came out with the name Chris Simms, formerly with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers; the 28 year old free-agent is 6’4 220lbs with a career QB rating of 71.2 he played most of the Bucs 2005 season alongside Brian Griese clinching the AFC south, but losing in their first playoff game to the Washington Redskins.

Quick note to the Patriot’s offensive line: THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT! It may have been only one lapse in judgment or one missed blocking assignment allowing Bernard Pollard to get close enough to take Brady down at the knee, but it is certainly not Brady’s fault because he’s just perfect, isn’t he?

Classless Red Sox buying their way back atop East

September 10, 2008

http://www.yardbarker.com/m/2179/xl/Boston_Fan.jpgby Michael Seff… What is it with all of these also-ran teams willingly handing over solid veteran players to the Boston Red Sox for virtually nothing? Are most baseball general managers just green with envy over Theo Epstein? The same can be said about teams’ quick willingness to help out the New York Yankees as well.

When most teams in most sports suffer injuries or ineffectiveness, it’s up to the bench players or minor league players to step up and fill the voids. But with deep deep pockets, the Red Sox and Yankees have an easier solution — just go out and buy a player because something isn’t going their way.

J.D. Drew whines about back spasms, and so naturally Mark Kotsay is in Boston within days. Tim Wakefield needs a cortisone shot, so the Red Sox pick up rabid HGH user Paul Byrd. Hideki Matsui goes down for the Yankees, and Xavier Nady comes by and hits another 15 home runs down the stretch.

It is a crying shame the Tampa Bay Rays didn’t go out and stock up at the trade deadline, and in some ways kudos to them for showing class and not abusing the system like the financial demons above them did. But it is coming back to bite them now, as they will be buried back in second place in the American League East within a matter of days.

Welcome to Detroit City

September 10, 2008

by Drew Singh…

Perhaps the biggest and most unexpected free agent signing of the summer was Marian Hossa going to the Detroit Red Wings. Hossa has finally made his way to Detroit in anticipation of training camp in Traverse City. Hossa skated with his new teammates for the first time on Monday. Hossa will be living with teammate and fellow Slovak Tomas Kopecky until he can find a home of his own.

Mike Babcock indicated early last week that Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk would not be playing together this season. He did not rule out reuniting the dynamic duo of the Euro Twins in certain situations. Babcock plans to have Hossa play on a line with Pavel Datsyuk and Tomas Holmstrom. That leaves Zetterberg centering a line that will likely consist Johan Franzen and either Mikael Samuelsson or Daniel Cleary.

The Wings will not look much different than the team who won the Stanley Cup back in June. Well, except for the fact that the only player who was a true menace for them in the finals last year will be on their side this time. Hossa said that he had to choose between Pittsburgh and Detroit. He went with the latter because he saw a better chance to win and so he could get a chance to play with the puck moving defensemen of the Red Wings. On Friday Hossa told the media that he has long been a fan of the puck possession game the Red Wings play. Hossa should have no problems fitting in with the Red Wings and if he stays healthy there is no reason why he cannot score at least forty goals this season with Pavel Datsyuk feeding him the puck.

I do feel that this is a one shot thing for Hossa to win a Cup. Obviously he signed a one year deal but he claims that he has aspirations to sign long term if the Wings are willing to. That is kind of an awkward thing to say when he does not even have an assigned number yet. But in any case, I doubt he will play more than one year as a Red Wing because the Wings must first sign both Johan Franzen and future captain Henrik Zetterberg to long term deals prior to doing anything else. Hopefully Hossa can help the Wings become the first team to repeat as Stanley Cup Champions since umm…the ‘97 and ‘98 Detroit Red Wings.

Tags: Detroit Red Wings, Drew Singh, Hockey, NHL, Marian Hossa.