J.P. Ricciardi Insane? Toronto Blue Jays GM Expects To Stand Pat In Offseason

September 22, 2008

by Brandon Warnes…

He has an ego as big as his nose and as wide as his forehead. Sadly, his reputation and credentials as a GM aren’t as big.

Let’s face it, JP Ricciardi has been a mediocre GM at best often making foolish deals or deals he later regrets. Since he joined as GM the Jays best achievement to date has to be finishing second in the American League East ahead of the Red Sox. Other than that it’s been a disappointing tenure for Ricciardi and the Jays often barely winning 82 games.

One of his “strange” deals may have been the signing of Frank Thomas to a two-year deal. Thomas was struggling in his second season with the Jays so Ricciardi planned to limit Thomas’ at bats so an option could not be picked up on his deal that would have paid him 10 million.

Sure avoiding that deal may have been an alright move, but the signing in the first place is questionable as he could have signed someone else or put the money to good use. Letting go of Carlos Delgado and many other great players only adds to the list of bad moves done by Ricciardi.

He has also tarnished his reputation as a GM by making fun of players or calling them out, offending both the player, agent, and GM. This year he called out Adam Dunn saying, “He’s not a guy who likes to play baseball, or enjoys what he does.” This makes players not want to come to Toronto and makes it harder to trade with the other GMs in the league.

Now with the season drawing to a close, some insight was given as to what Jays fans should expect to see next season.

“We’d like to upgrade DH, but if Snider takes over in left or Lind becomes DH, or vice versa, we might not have to go that route,” Ricciardi said. “We’d like to upgrade at short but if we had to go with Scutaro or McDonald we’d be happy with that.”

My only concern is that there is probably a more worthy DH available via free agency or trade. Same with shortstop, McDonald is get defensivley and Scutaro has been great in all areas this season but McDonald hits light and Scutaro isn’t always consistent.

If Hill returns next season it leaves the middle infield a mess as both McDonald and Scutaro may want spots and Inglett and Hill need somewhere to play as well.

Ricciardi hasn’t been too happy with free agency for a little while so he’s cautious about doing anything this year. He notes that some guys have had better years in the past and now they are struggling, so he wants to step back and see them play another year.

Two notable free agents are lefty CC Sabathia and Angels Slugger Mark Teixeira. With Burnett, Zaun, and the prior departure of Frank Thomas, they have about $15 million to spend this off-season.

Ricciardi is aware of what the club needs, a shortstop, a power-hitting DH/first basemen and some help behind the plate. Snider has only played two games in the majors and has upside but he would be better off starting in left field.

If Burnett leaves they don’t have anyone on the team currently who can be a solid No. 2 starter and Ricciardi would be crazy to believe they do. Marcum, Mcgowan, and Litsch have all struggled this season and never quite found their stride.

Whatever the case Ricciardi needs to spend some of that money on whatever area he finds urgent at the time. If he fails to spend any money in the off-season he is crazy, and there’s no way this team can improve.

Most Jays’ fans are calling for his head after the season is over, but there’s one bright spot Ricciardi could look forward to if he stays and chooses to stand pat in the off-season. His reputation as a GM may finally be able to match up to the size of his c, just not for the best reasons.

Behind Enemy Lines - A look at the Montreal Canadiens

September 22, 2008

by Miah D…For Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau, his possible line-ups seem to be ready—despite the newest addition to the team, Robert Lang.

But let’s have a little breakdown of the possibilities.

Forwards

First line: Andrei Kostitsyn - Tomas Plekanec - Alexei Kovalev

The “Three Amigos” have been under the high lights all season long. Their respective statistics (53, 69, and 84 pts) are the proof of their on-ice chemistry.

Both Kostitsyn and Kovalev are strong enough to handle the work in the corners, and all three players have a lot of speed and scoring abilities. They also developed themselves as penalty killers, in addition to their great work on the power play.

Suggestions:

Robert Lang posted his career bests with Alex Kovalev back in Pittsburgh. Looking forward to create this chemistry again, Lang seems to expect a spot with the AK-27, which would probably result in a line of Kostitsyn - Lang - Kovalev.

However, this first line as it stands should not be broken up unless we see a big splash this season, which I don’t think will happen at all. Of course, the season is long, and the two former teammates should be reunited at some time in those 82 games.

Second trio: Chris Higgins - Saku Koivu - Alex Tanguay

Tanguay is a LW, and hasn’t played right for a while. However, the new Canadiens acquisition stated in an interview that he would not mind being RW on a line with Saku Koivu. Meanwhile, both Koivu and Higgins should finally see this sparkle they were waiting for in their new linemate.

Two years ago, they were the first trio of the team, with Michael Ryder on the right. But since Ryder’s struggles, things haven’t be looking bright for Koivu and Higgins either. Coach Carbo tried to put the three so-so players together to have their 2006-07 sparkle back, but three wrongs did not make it right.

Suggestions:

In the case that Higgins struggles again in the traffic, and Guillaume Latendresse shows those improvements he talked about during summer, Tanguay might move back to left, creating a line of Tanguay - Koivu - Latendresse.

Latendresse already played on Koivu’s line a few times in the past, with great results. If Latendresse develops a more-imposing type of play, he could be a great help for Koivu. That would move Higgins on the third.

Third line: Sergei Kostitsyn - Robert Lang - Guillaume Latendresse

Kostitsyn was on the first line for the days when Ryder was benched.  With amazing speed, a strong style of play, and great passing skills, he can become a great replacement for Kovalev to Lang.

Guillaume Latendresse, coming to the end of c, should be able to hold on to the third line without that much trouble. Hopefully faster, stronger, and with a better puck control, he should do fine.

Suggestions:

I would not change that. Of course, in the case that Lang moves up to the first line with Kovalev, Plekanec becomes the third-line center. And if Latendresse moves up to the second with Koivu, that would give us Kostitsyn - Plekanec - Higgins. But I doubt very much that will happen.

Fourth line: The rest of the team - The entire Bulldogs Lineup - The fighters !

Well, we have a situation here. But it will probably go with Steve Begin - Max Lapierre - George Laraque.

On the left, Steve Begin could share a spot with newcomer Greg Stewart. On the center, Lapierre might receive a visit from Kyle Chipchura. And finally on the right, Tom Kostopoulos and Mathieu Dandenault are also still on the list.  But Lapierre already expressed a willingness to play along with Laraque.

Suggestion:

What about moving Laraque to the third line to share the spot with Latendresse? He will also be a better muscles addition to Lang, along with the young Kostitsyn. That would leave the possibility to have an occasional Begin-Lapierre-Dandenault line, a lot of speed and a lot of hits. Great spectacle!

Note: A writer here on BR told me not to expect Stewart to graduate soon, with the muscle already in place with Laraque and Kostopoulos. Probably right.

Defense

Mike Komisarek - Andrei Markov

They have been the Laurel and Hardy of the team so far. A big body and a robust type of play from the one, and smart defensive abilities from the other.

However, it should be interesting to see Markov’s new mate on the PP, since the departure of Mark Streit has opened up a spot. Patrice Brisebois has been on the point a few times back in 2008, but I can’t picture the duo.

In the case that Mathieu Carle graduates, and he can develop a more precised role in the defensive squad, his slapshot would be well welcomed. The kid just broke the glass at the Bell Center earlier in the week. But having a rookie on the PP, despite his shooting strength, is risky.

Roman Hamrlik - Ryan O’Byrne

Hamrlik has been helpful for Dion Phaneuf back in this latter’s rookie days in Calgary. Having played a certain number of games last year with O’Byrne, he will be a good mentor for the young defenseman. He could also be a valuable asset on the PP.

In the case that Carle gets onto the Montreal roster, Hamrlik would be the most complete defenseman to take him under his wing.

Francis Bouillon - Josh Georges

Georges has established himself a name on the blue line with his smart plays and great speed. Bouillon represents a stronger type of player—lots of hits, and a lot of work in the corners.

Patrice Brisebois - Someone in there who would graduate.

The rookie would play with Hamrlik, while Brisebois would make a nice pair with Ryan O’Byrne.

But he would have the spot of seventh defenseman, which involves a few nights watching games from the stands. Eventually, he would replace O’Byrne.


The Power Play

The players appreciated Carbonneau’s initiative to keep the same lines during the man advantage. We should then expect to see the first two lines on the power, along with Markov, Hamlrik, Brisebois, and maybe Mike Komisarek.

Of course, we should expect a few surprises—as always—from coach Carbonneau.
Personally, my curiosity brought me to imagine a Tanguay - Koivu - Kovalev line, or Lang instead of Koivu. It would be also a great scenario to have Plekanec between the brothers Kostitsyn.

Talking about scenarios, the movie “Pour toujours, les Canadiens” features Hockey legends like Jean Beliveau. A few members of this year’s squad, such as Saku Koivu and Carey Price, will also be seen on stage. In theatres in 2009.

Toronto Maple Leafs 2008 Opening Night Projected Lineup

September 22, 2008

by Dane Freeman…

Well, I know this is not a very original article, but I actually did my homework on this one.

First off, a lot of this is actually based on comments by Leafs GM Cliff Fletcher and/or those by coach Ron Wilson. Also the Leafs had one of their first team practices of the year in which most players were present.

The first line is a bit of a surprising one. No shocker that Nik Antropov is there—or even that Poni is the LW on the “top line”. What is very surprising is that Wilson wants to give Mikhail Grabovski every opportunity to start on that line as well. Given his inexperience, it seems surprising that Grabovski appears to be the team’s opening-day No. 1 center.

Line 1: Ponikarovsky Grabovski Antropov

Wilson has also stated recently that Steen and Stajan will be the teams second and third centers. It appears the Leafs are attempting to go with three balanced “scoring” lines.

Fletcher has said numerous times that Nikolai Kulemin would not only make the team out of camp, but will be likely be playing on one of the top two lines—and both he and Wilson have agreed that speedster Alex Steen would likely be the best fit as his centerman.

I would have thought that Blake would have started the year flanking Matt Stajan, whom he appeared to have a lot of chemestry with late last year. However, it appears he will begin the year on the second line with rookie Kulemin and Steen.

Line 2: Kulemin Steen Hagman

As mentioned before, Matt Stajan appears set to anchor the third line to begin the year, with two-way winger Niklas Hagman and sophomore Jiri Tlusty on the wing.

Line 3: Blake Stajan Tlusty

The fourth line appears to be the only real battle for playing time up front.

It has already been confirmed numerous times that Mark Bell will definitely make the cut. Wilson had Bell in San Jose and is a big supporter. Jamal Mayers, whom the Leafs traded for this offseason will also most definitely be featured on this line. The center to start the year will likely be one of Dominic Moore or Boyd Devereaux.

Line 4: Bell Moore/Devereaux Mayers

The spares up front will consist of either Moore or Devereaux—depending on who gets the chance to start—tough guy Ryan Hollweg and one of Boyce, Earl, Newbury, Ondrus—or the most likely candidate, Jeremy Williams.

On the back end, the top four—again, according to Wilson—are Kaberle, Kubina, Finger and Frogren—who will be wearing McCabe’s former No. 24.

That leaves defensemen Carlo Colaiacovo, Anton Stralman, Mike Van Ryan, and Ian White to battle for the final two spots.

It is very unlikely that Colaiacovo gets sat unless he is injured. When healthy, he still shows flashes of his first-round potential.

The primary reason Frogren was brought in was to mentor international partner Stralman. The two have worked very well together internationally, and the Leafs brass loved what they saw. Based on this reason, along with his high ceiling (in terms of potential), it appears that the sixth spot will be his to lose.

That being said, if Mike Van Ryan shows he is healthy and can revert to his 2007 form, expect him to get a lot of playing time—including on the second power-play unit.

Wilson has also stated that he intended to split up Kaberle and Kubina at least to start the year, in order to provide a more balanced lineup, and that Finger was the likely candidate to start the year with Kaberle.

Taking all this into account here are the likely defensicee pairings:

Kaberle Finger

Colaiacovo Kubina

Stralman Frogren

Mike Van Ryan will likely open the year as the teams spare defender. And obviously I do not have to put up the goalies on here.

So again, here is the likely opening-night lineup for the 2008 Leafs:

LW C RW

Ponikarovsky Grabovski Antropov

Kulemin Steen Hagman

Blake Stajan Tlusty

Bell Devereaux Mayers

LD RD

Kaberle Finger

Colaiacovo Kubina

Stralman Frogren

Spares: Moore, Hollweg, Van Ryan

Side Notes

Wilson has said the most likely scenario for team captain will be a rotating captaincy deployed by teams such as the Sabres, Wild and Wilson’s former team the Sharks—before they decided on Patrick Marleau).

Kaberle has taken himself out of the consideration for team captain due to his quiet nature. Due to recent comments that he is “shocked” by the changes on the team, it is very likely that he will waive his no-trade clause on or before the deadline this year.

Fletcher raised eyebrows earlier this week when he declared Nik Antropov the team’s only legitimate first line forward, and Ponikarovsky the only other player close. This apparently struck a nerve with Jason Blake and fired up Alex Steen.

Again, I realize I’m not the first person to write a similar report as this. But being that most of the others were guesses—and yeah that’s probably much more fun than this was—I decided to actually do a bit of research and put together the opening-day lineup (barring injuries), based solely on comments by the GM and coach.

To those of you who read this entire article—you must indeed be Leafs Fans.

The Cult Of Football: A Religion for the Twentieth Century and Beyond

September 22, 2008

by illya mclellan…

During the eighteen hundreds, there was a philosophical and scientific movement away from organised religion that influenced the world in many ways, some that we still see today.

Skepticism emerged of old enduring religious ideas and concepts that had been taken as indisputable for centuries. There were also lingering economic and political theories that are still taken into account in our modern lives.

The great German thinker Karl Marx was once quoted as saying during this time that, “Religion is the opiate of the people.”

But as the world moved on from this time there arose a new opiate of the people and, in its own way, a new religion. A religion that would in some ways inspire more devotion and fervour than its tired counterparts that were still mired in the doctrines of yesteryear.

This new religion was none other than “Football”, or “The Beautiful Game” as some like to call it.

As this new phenomenon took a hold of the people across the globe, it led to the construction of stadia that would in effect become the new churches of this religion, where the faithful could visit to see the prophets (players) they admired conduct their demonstrative sermons from week to week.

It would in fact be very easy to classify football as a religious faith because of the impact it has upon those who follow it with such passion.

Fans who would follow their team across the earth in an effort to be there when the team they love and worship is crowned a champion of some kind. Managers and players are held up like saints and prophets of old and often deliver moments of genius that some would say are biblical in proportion.

Who could deny that football has crossed the line into the territory of religion when in Argentina, if you so desire, you can visit the “Church of Maradona”, and worship with devoted followers of the living “God”, Diego Maradona.

Now, this is very far-fetched for a lot of people, but the fact of the matter is that because these people believe this then it is real for them and though it is easy to condemn them for this it is actually just as easy to think “Oh well, each to their own”, and get on with your life.

In terms of the functionality of football as a religion it is plain to see that every week across the world millions of followers and fans of the game enter the “churches” across the planet in hope of that glorious, golden moment in which they can once again feel the illumination they experienced when they first knew that this was a pastime like no other—something they would always try to recapture for the rest of their days.

Even today, as games across the world commence, there will be new followers caught up in the passion of football as they see the genius and dedication of various masters of world football.

Perhaps in England, during the match-up between Chelsea and Manchester United, a young fan will sit in the stand and say to his father, “Daddy, who is that man who runs so quickly with the ball and does all those tricks and fancy kicks?”, and his father will say, “Why son, that’s Deco/Joe Cole/Cristiano Ronaldo/Nani”, and the child will say, “wow”, and so another youngster will begin a love affair with this strange religion that is often so good, but also so very bad.

So before you leave for “church” or sit down to watch some “televangelism” today, say a little prayer for football and remember the saints of yesteryear, and the miracles they conspired to commit so that we today are able to experience the grandeur of modern football and the beautiful thing it has become beyond all the politics and money.

Football will no doubt endure for many years to come and shall remain part of our collective consciousness for as long as the religions that control so much of the world still do.

Into the future what will it become? It shall remain whatever it was to a certain extent, but in the meantime we can enjoy it as time slips into time.

We should still rejoice in the beloved spectacle of it and hope for the miracles that sometimes happen. Because, besides all the attached administrative rubbish and economics that have become so much a part of the modern game, there is still very much the magic of the beautiful game itself and the spiritual moments that are created.

It is a great thing to remember these moments and to truly remember why we all love the game so much.

This world encompassing passionata, this “Beautiful Game”.

Bills’ Win Over the Raiders Was an Eye Opener

September 22, 2008

by Todd Morse…

As Scott Norwood lined himself up to kick the Bills to victory in Super Bowl XXV, the pressure was too much. As a 12-year-old in Buffalo, all I knew were the Bills; they were all I cared about, and this was Buffalo’s chance to turn things around.

I was agitated, anxious, and unreasonable, so while they prepared for the kick, I turned the TV off. It was an initial reaction to plan for the worst. My family immediately erupted with pleas for me to turn the TV back on, and I did, before the kick happened.

My second action was to ask God for help. My family had never gone to church, nor had we ever really been religious, so this was a strange reaction, but nevertheless, I prayed. “Hi, God? I know you’re busy, but I know we don’t really talk much. I never ask you for anything. Anything! If you do exist, and are real, please show me. Give me this. Please.”

We all know what happened next. Over the years, I have tried numerous versions of this. Appealing directly to the Football Gods—which resulted in the Tennessee Titans beating the Bills on one of the most ridiculous, and hilariously fun (unless you’re a Bills fan), plays ever constructed in football history, the homerun throwback.

I prayed to the Hockey Gods—which proceeded to end the Stanley Cup finals in the most controversial way possible, as well as squashing numerous requests for Sabres wins or comeback attempts.

I prayed to the Baseball Gods—who seemed to really really like Derek Jeter for a long time, who allowed two steroid kings to enter the record books as home run champions, who wouldn’t let my Tigers get out of the cellar for years, and who wouldn’t give good guys like the Atlanta Braves’ pitching staff a break.

As I have aged and experienced more hardships, I have slowly learned that maybe sports isn’t as important as I once ranked it. I promised myself I would be different, now, and try harder to prioritize. And yet, there I was, sitting in the stands at Ralph Wilson Stadium watching the Bills and the Raiders duke it out.

Going into the game, it seemed like the Bills should have won the game handily. With the Raiders going through off the field turmoil and facing player injuries, the Bills, coming off two well-rounded victories over two of the NFL’s upper-echelon teams, were easily in the driver’s seat.

But that is why they play the games, I guess. The Bills’ passing offense didn’t click for the first three quarters and the Bills’ running game, while somewhat better, continued to prove fairly anemic. Trent Edwards didn’t hit his short game early and clearly couldn’t find a rhythm, thus disallowing the Bills to sustain drives and keep the Raiders off the field.

But the Raiders got their chances, and did enough to score 23. The way the Raiders scored was very much like how the Bills scored against Seattle—fake. None of their scoring drives, save for the big TD pass, was longer than 27 yards. A couple of big returns setup some short drives for field goals. A couple of turnovers gives the Raiders the ball in good field position and they capitalize.

Lucky for the Bills, the Raiders’ quarterback was JaMarcus Russell, and he is just bad. If the Raiders had J.P. Losman running that offense, they would have killed the Bills. Killed them. Also lucky for the Bills.


[Side Note: The Raiders ran a few plays with McFadden at QB and they worked fairly well. McFadden just handed the ball to Michael Bush. I couldn’t understand why they worked, as it was fairly obvious he wasn’t going to throw. It's little things like these which annoy me about coaches.]

The Bills did good things. Overall, they contained the Raiders’ rushing attack and held them to under 100 yards. The Raiders got their yards at times, but the defense was stout. The offense wasn’t as good. I think I was wrong when I said the Bills don’t face a real defense until late; the Raiders’ defense is good, and Rob Ryan is a good coordinator. He did what I said and had Edwards both pressured and somewhat confused for three quarters.

Strangely, he backed off somewhat in the fourth quarter, and this changed the game. I don’t know if he backed off because the guys were tired, because the Bills changed schemes, or because the Bills just figured it out, but the game changed significantly. The Bills began exerting their will, and drove 96 yards in 16 plays on the suddenly porous Raiders.

Maddeningly, the Raiders struck back almost immediately, on a third down quick slant to Johnnie Lee Higgins. The Bills were clearly thinking run, and Higgins outran everyone to the house. Interestingly, Donte Whitner was flagged for a penalty for tackling Huggins five yards into the end zone as Huggins as showboating into the end zone and dancing it up after the TD, and Whitner wanted to do a “not in my house” play.

One has to wonder the impact of that play on the Bills psyche, as the Bills immediately punched back again and drove 69 yards, mostly on the arm of Edwards, for another touchdown.

After the next kickoff, the Bills held the Raiders to a quick three and out, to one of the loudest crowds I can remember. The only louder crowds I remember were Monday Night 2007 against Dallas, and, of course, the Houston comeback game in the early ’90s.

It became pretty clear how the game was going to end when Edwards and offensive coordinator Turk Schonert, as in the previous two drives, began orchestrating another harmonious drive. They gashed the Raiders for a good 25 yards to get to the 21-yard line, then, as they had only one time out left, that was close enough for Lindell.

It wasn’t perfect, but it worked. I would have liked to have seen the Bills try to score a touchdown, as they clearly had all the momentum and had the Raiders on their heels, but Dick Jauron is Dick Jauron. He isn’t Manny Ramirez.

Even though the Bills were down two, the looks on Raiders’ fans faces around us made it feel inevitable. For many Buffalo fans it may have felt inevitable, but for me, knowing Buffalo’s history, it is never over until the clock says zero.

Waiting for the clock to count down for the Bills to call timeout seemed like forever. So many thoughts were running through my head. I had seen the New England-Miami score already; Miami killed them. If the Bills win today they are alone in first place in the division. Seriously! The Bills are about to go 3-0!

Lindell is the Bills’ most clutch kicker and most accurate kicker ever. Edwards has already shown his clutchosity. This would be another comeback victory for him. Nine points down with four minutes to play? Are you kidding me? These are how his days at the office are going to be.

I wanted to close my eyes, look up and ask. I do this thing, where I kind of zone everything out and just sort of think internally. I can’t really explain it.

With my arm around my fiancée to my left, and my sister standing next to her, and my son under my arm to my right, I took a moment and enjoyed everyone. I looked at the score, the Bills fans anticipating a win, and the Raiders fans anticipating the loss. I looked at the field. There stood 22 behemoths paid millions of dollars to play a game we all love to watch, wager on, write about, dissect, and argue about.

I strangely thought about how great of a game Josh Reed had. The same Josh Reed who fans hated and wanted the Bills to cut played his heart out, and made at least four or five critical catches and a few key blocks. I thought that this Bills team is a team that the fans of Buffalo who have been holding onto the mentality that we’re still a blue collar town with a blue collar attitude should love, but has enough nuance and flavor for everyone. Things felt alright.

“God?” I asked.

Then I paused.

“No, never mind, it’s just football,” I thought.

And with that, the kick sailed directly through the middle of the uprights.

Amen.

check out Todd’s blog at:www.buffalomainevent.com

JT O’Sullivan Used to Be Our Backup QB!

September 22, 2008

by Bob Biscigliano …

The Lions were losing 21-3 at halftime. I seriously considered turning off the game because I had a school paper to write and I was losing time and hair. I guess I can be happy that I didn’t go to a bar to watch the game like I usually do.  I might still be there, crawling.

Another incentive for listening to the game was that I was hoping to hear Dan Miller snap and go off on an expletive-laced rant. I really wish he had. There were about 56 different times I wanted to pound my laptop up against a wall in a fit of rage.

I know Dan Miller had to have been dog cussing Kitna and the Lions during all the commercial breaks. Also, I was thinking if I heard Dan Miller mention that a San Francisco wide receiver was “wide open” one more time, I might freaking lose it.

Also, the Lions apparently declined to try at the end of the first half. They had a chance to extend the first half because the 49ers had a penalty as time expired. The Lions declined the penalty.  End of the first half.  Throw up the white flag, why don’t we.

I was not able to listen to the last half of the fourth quarter because I had dinner with my girlfriend’s family.  I’m always thankful for these blessings in disguise.  It’s a shame that in about 20 some NFL cities in America, a man would absolutely hate to miss his team’s final quarter to have dinner with potential future in-laws, while I put on my Sunday best and went over with glee.  We had pasta and it was delicious.

When I returned from dinner, I listened to the post-game wrap.  I heard that a 49er fell on Kitna’s knee.  It was at that point that I prayed for a non-life but season-threatening injury.  The curse lives on: Kitna says he should be just fine to play in week five after our bye week.

As I said in my last article, giving you all the one reason why the Lions would not start 0-3, there is a silver lining to starting 0-3.

In 1995, the Lions started 0-3 and battled back to make the playoffs as the NFC Wild Card. Just like then, everyone will throw their JT O’Sullivan at us thinking they can just walk all over us.  That’s when we will blindside everyone and win seven straight.  I still have faith.

As for now, I’m decorating my brown paper bag and cracking open the tub of cookie dough as we speak…

Check out Bobs blog Detroit4lyfe.com.

Fernando Alonso Thinks Over a Guinness In Singapore

September 22, 2008

by Long John Silver…

Top Things on Alonso’s Mind (Over a Guinness with his amigos in Singapore)

Ohhhh Jeez, if only this stupid thing goes a lil’ faster, I would have woken up an hour early for practice today morning, my motivation is nada.

Is that Flavio in the corner table? I thought he was having a meeting with the engineers tonight?  Wait … is that Heidi with whom he is having dinner with, I thought they split? Whatever …

Should I kiss and make up with Ron D? Or buy him some good Spanish cava?

May be I should kiss and make up with Lewis? Oohhhh. no. Am losing my mind?

May be I should BMC (bitch, moan and complain) less?

I heard Singapore women are hot … and kinky

Or maybe, I should ask Pedro to send some more of that Ferrari technical data, this time to Heikki? Use Fed-Ex overnight … but the envelope should be a bright red color.

May be I should call Bernie and tell him Mclaren are doing dodgy things again. He bought it the last time, may be he will this time too, and shut them down. But, that does not help me now does it? (I need one more Guinness).

(He orders another Guinness).

Ross Brawn thinks I can do for Honda what Michael did for Ferrari. But, he won’t even share some of his bananas with me. Wait, that’s irrelevant … I’m even more confused (where is that darned Guinness?).

I think Red Bull ROCKS; it will go well with my bull impersonation after the race, every time I win, but will I win?

People think I won’t get along with Kimi—how can’t I? Try picking a fight with someone whom you have to pay for him to say some words. Kimi is as dead as a door knob. Get him drunk on vodka, maybe he will talk then …

I am all for Felipe, Bravo—Bravo Felipe, beat the kids’ ass… he screwed me over last time.

Oh wait—I am torn. If Felipe wins a championship, I will never be able to wear Scarlet? (Darn it, where is that Guinness?).

Kimi should really retire in life. I told him so last year when he won the championship… even offered to buy him vodka for the rest of his life if he retired

(As his cell phone buzzes), is Michael texting me again? Is telling me “I really should have not won the 06 championship?” He told me if he won, he would’ve gotten me into Ferrari…. Darn it

(As he gazes over), she is hot? Maybe hah …. Maybe tonight …

Fernando Alonso: (In his vintage Spanish accent) – excuuz me, I ordered a Guinness 10 minutes ago?

Barman: Sorry Sir – the bar is closed

Fernando Alonso: Bravo—Bravo … this is beautiful, now am horny, sober and… even more CONFUSED!

Toronto Maple Leafs: Are The Playoffs Really Out Of The Question?

September 22, 2008

by Shane House…

All I am hearing amongst Toronto Maple Leafs fans is that we should bomb the year, that we should just give up before the season even starts, but the sad thing about it is that I believe we can not only compete, we can win.

So how are the playoffs out of the question?

They aren’t.

The Maple Leafs this year are going to be a defensively solid team. All there skilled players are on the defensive corps and most of the forwards are solid two-way players.

Vesa Toskala can be one of the top ten goalies in the league. He has the ability to steal a game and besides his size, has no glaring weaknesses in his game. This, along with a solid defensive corps, makes for a pretty decent team.

But with no offense, how can we win?

To be honest, we can still win with little offense.

The New Jersey Devils have been a good team for years and have won Stanley Cups with only a solid goalie and a great defence. All the players on their team are two-way players and have to be held accountable in their own end.

Sound familiar?

The only thing keeping the Toronto Maple Leafs from making the playoffs is experience. Experience can go a long way towards making the playoffs but I think we got enough of it.

Jason Blake has been in almost every situation when it comes to situations with a team. Tomas Kaberle has been a top defenseman in Toronto for ten years and Pavel Kubina has already won a Stanley Cup as a key contributor on the 2004 Tampa Bay Lightning.

The final thing that makes me believe it is possible is the Minnesota Wild. In 2003 the Minnesota Wild, in only their third year of existence, went all the way to the Western Conference Final. I dare you to name a player on that team that wasn’t Marian Gaborik.

If a team full of unknowns can make it all the way to the Conference Finals, then why not the Leafs? They have all the components that the Minnesota Wild did. They have a lot of defensive players in a defensive system with a solid goaltender.

I, for one, am going to keep my faith in the blue and white. The Maple Leafs may not have the most talent, but they have a team of players that want to prove themselves, and sometimes that’s all you need for a team to be successful.

Gary Bettman Has Fibromyalgia

September 22, 2008

by Mark Kane…

Undisclosed sources within the catacombs of the NHL Head Office have revealed that commissioner Gary Bettman has been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia.  A controversial, some call vogue, diagnosis that is without positive test results, but is understood as a symptom complex of generalized aches and pains, perceptions of ennui, pressured nasal speech along with a myriad of subjective complaints.

Bettman’s well known smarmy mannerisms and mandarin contempt for all, while atypical, are also understood to be a feature of his condition.  Sources closer to the commissioner simply report he hasn’t been laid in years despite buckets of cash and pleadings from an army of lawyers.

Scampering boffins within the League Office vociferously deny that two work stoppages, the loss of Canadian markets in lieu of problematic Sun Belt franchises where a mustard seed would struggle, and obsessive tinkering with the game have anything to do with Bettman’s state of mind or lack thereof.  Those “

remain incredibly excellent initiatives,” said the same anonymous source within the League Office.

Indeed, other sources within the League office loudly whispered that a deal with Mongolian TV is imminent that will bring untold prosperity to the league.  It was later acknowledged that compensation will be in Canadian Tire money or horse dollars, both apparently replete in the Mongolian Kingdom.  Go figure.

Recent musings about expansion to Europe are now said to be feasible because “Gary has developed a matter transport system” that will limit road trips to mere seconds.  All this after Senator McCain admitted that his invention of the Blackberry was based on “Gary Bettman’s pioneering work.

Bettman’s endorsement of a series of criminals as NHL owners drew nonplussed reactions and was described as minor hic cups on an otherwise smooth sail.

Bettman will not be undertaking any specific treatment for Fibromyalgia as none exists except receipt of disability benefits and copious amounts of self absorption.  Bettman, however, will continue working and quoted Alfred E Newman stating, “What me worry?”

That apparently is being left to fans of the NHL.

Naturally, Yankees help Sox–ESPN should be all over it

September 22, 2008

http://images.zwani.com/graphics/funny_pictures/images/funny-pictures340.jpgby Michael Seff… I’ve stopped reading ESPN.com, much like I’ve stopped watching ESPN TV. That’s easy in Canada, where they don’t have it. While the Yankees were busy parading their history and their tradition in front of my hapless Orioles, lost in the fold was some simple math. Like the number one, Boston’s magic number for clinching a playoff berth.

While the schedule makers clearly aired in not making the Yankees’ final home game against the Red Sox, the extra insult came in that a Yankees lost would have allowed Boston to clinch a playoff berth prior to their season-ending seven-game homestand. While I don’t condone that fact, it is, at this point, inevitable. It would have been much better to have the Red Sox celebrate quietly in the confines of their individual homes rather than tomorrow night at Fenway Park once they get through dismantling the woeful Indians.

So as usual, Red Sox bandwagoners have something to be happy about. This time, they can thank the Yankees for winning and allowing their team to clinch at home in front of the so-called greatest fans in baseball (try telling that to the Wrigley die-hards).

ESPN and its undying Boston-New York bias did not get around to mentioning this in its 12-hour Yankees memory-lane trip today, but given the opportunity it most certainly would have. In an age where the baseball gods are smiling down at the Red Sox 24-7, this is a new low for inconvenient truths.