September 29, 2008

by Daniel Eddy… The Toronto Eagles today booked themselves a shot at their third Premiership in a row, when they defeated the Broadview Hawks by 57 points. The two clubs who played in last year’s final match (Toronto & Etobicoke) will meet again to decide who takes out the 2008 OAFL Grand Final.

After their shock loss last weekend to the Kangaroos, the Eagles came out a more focused group and were determined to not go out of the finals in straight sets. The game was all but over at quarter time with Toronto leading by 30 points. The next three quarters were a lot more even as Broadview started to be more attacking at the ball, but they could never get close enough to really threaten on the scoreboard. Tarquin Netherway was the standout up forward for the winners with 4 goals, while Lachlan McDonald kicked 3.

All attention now turns to the Grand Final which promises to be a tremendous event, this year being hosted by the Etobicoke club on their home ground, Humber College’s South Campus in Toronto. Festivities kick off at 11am with the main game to be played at 2pm. Please see the official Grand Final poster (attached) for details, and visit our website at www.ontariofooty.com for further updates throughout the week. All our league sponsors and the media are invited to attend this big day, and family and friends are always welcome.

The official score from today’s Preliminary Final was:

Sat Sept. 27th -        Preliminary Final
Toronto Eagles        Def.    Broadview Hawks
14.9.93                              5.6.36

How We Remember the Late Paul Newman

September 29, 2008

by  Shane House…

When I was on NHL.com yesterday, I read the terrible news that the great Paul Newman had passed away at the age of 83.  One of the great, iconic actors has died.

Everybody has memories of Paul Newman—mostly from movies, mind you, but those still count. Like in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Robert Redford says, “I can’t swim!”  Paul Newman looks at him after laughing and says, “You can’t swim! The fall will probably kill ya!”

When I was 11, I barely knew who Paul Newman was. I thought he was some old actor that my parents always talked about from way back in the day.

One day, I remember telling my mom that I wanted her to rent me D2: The Mighty Ducks. When she returned from the local store, she handed me a movie and said, “Sorry, honey, they didn’t have

The Mighty Ducks, so I got you this.”  She then handed me a movie with a picture of a guy holding a “for sale” sign.It was Slap Shot.

At first, I was angry because I couldn’t watch Charlie Conway or Gordon Bombay, but out of that I discovered the great Reg Dunlop, as played by Paul Newman.

As I watched the movie, I was lost in watching the Hanson brothers destroy every team that tried to score.  I saw Denis Lemieux go on his rants saying things like “Trade me right f$%@ing now!”

But the biggest things I remember is Paul Newman giving those great speeches, talking about old time hockey and Eddie Shore.

After the movie, I was proud to say how much I liked the movie. I asked my mom and dad who that was and they said Paul Newman.

The next day, when I came home from school, I looked in our movie cabinet, searching for a movie that had Paul Newman. After about three minutes of digging around, I found The Hustler. As I watched Fast Eddie Nelson go through the struggles of trying to beat the great Minnesota Fats, I realized then and there that Paul Newman was a great actor.

I later on saw him in other great movies like The Sting, Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid, and coming back as Fast Eddie Nelson in The Color of Money, but I will never forget how I felt when I watched Slap Shot for the first time.

You will be missed, Paul Newman, and may you.

I encourage anybody who has a memory of Paul Newman to leave it as a comment so everybody can enjoy.

End It Boxing, It’s Over

September 29, 2008

http://www.reviewjournal.com/lvrj_home/2006/Feb-26-Sun-2006/photos/2mosley.jpgby Jamie Uyeyama… Let’s get a quick show of hands: How many of you were excited for Mosley vs Mayorga this weekend?

How many of you even knew they were fighting?

That’s how far boxing has fell. People barely even know it exists anymore. It’s sad how far a once great sport has fallen. But it has fallen and fallen hard. Somewhere around the time when boxing got too greedy for its own good, young people stopped wanting to be boxers. That’s always the beginning of the end.

Mosley vs Mayorga is the symbol for everything that is wrong with boxing. It is the main event in a night of fights that should all be considered undercards. It’s a hasbeen and a never was squaring off in the ring. It’s the kind of fight that would be on the “May Not Be Telivised” portion of a UFC card. That’s what all the main events seem like these days with boxing. Unless Mayweather or De La Hoya (who is only a name now, not a great fighter) are fighting then no one other than boxing purists seem to care.

Really the only true fans that remain are the boxing purists. Mixed martial arts has completely usurped boxing’s place in the athletic world. If boxing is the sweet science then MMA is Physics, Calculus, and Organic Chem combined. Boxing is the past and MMA is the future.

I don’t care what happens in the fight and I don’t even know when the next “big” fight is either. It’s bad news for boxing because nobody else cares either.

For more you can check out his blog Top Cheddar at www.topcheddar.com

BT’s 2008-09 NHL Season Preview: New York Islanders

September 29, 2008

by Bryan Thiel…

Preface: We’re in the home stretch now, and I think I’m panicking.

My original goal was to have the season previews done by October 4—the opening of the NHL season overseas.

Well, as I’ve been taking Saturdays off from the previews this month, I took last weekend off, and I’ll be away next weekend attending the University of Western Ontario’s homecoming, I’d have to do two today, two tomorrow, one Friday, and then one per day every day next week to make it in time.

I guess we’ll see what happens…

Roster Additions: Mark Streit-D (F.A.), Doug Weight-F (F.A.)

Roster Subtractions:
Bryan Berard-D (F.A.), Josef Vasicek-F (Europe), Miroslav Satan-F (F.A.), Wade Dubielewicz-G (Europe), Ruslan Fedotenko-F (F.A.)

How did 2007-08 go?
35-38-9, 79 points, 13th in Conference, fifth in Atlantic

2008-09 Goal:
Top twelve in conference.

Let’s break’er down…

Dee Karl and I both have the 2002 Playoffs entrenched in our minds. We don’t know it, but we became almost like brother and sister during that year—a very estranged brother and sister mind you.

There was the hit on Michael Peca: Like a brother and sister, I loved it, she hated it.

There was the hit on Kenny Johnnson: Like a brother and sister, I loved it, she hated it.

There was the fact the Leafs won the series: Like a brother and sister, I was elated, while she was crushed at the idea that that could have been her team’s year too.

Then Martin Gelinas happened, and we reunited in our sorrows. I don’t like Martin Gelinas very much.

Some people might think that what I just told you was only written to fill space before we get to the actual breakdown.

They’d be right.

Little Ricky, how’s your hip?

“Attention ladies and gentlemen. Now entering the third year of a fifteen-year contract, your starting goaltender for the 2008-09 season….RICK DIPIETRO!!!”

That should be something along the lines of the introduction the Rick receives entering this season.

Over the past few years, DiPietro has looked like he can be the goalie to take the Islanders back to their glory days. Going into last season he was working on back-to-back 30-win campaigns, and one of the best save percentages (.919) of his career.

Last season, though, injury problems—like seemingly every year before—caught up with DiPietro. After suffering through various lower body ailments and a late-season neck injury in 2006-07, DiPietro hoped he could stay healthy. Well, a knee injury and a hip surgery later, DiPietro was shelved for the season with a mediocre save percentage (.902) and fairly high goals-against average of 2.81.

If DiPietro can stay healthy, then the Isles have a goalie capable of 30 wins, and consistent enough to post a goals-against average in the neighborhood of 2.30, while keeping his save percentage around .910.

If DiPietro can’t stay healthy, though, the load will fall to former Canadien Yann Danis, who’ll be barely adequate as a spot-starter, while Joe MacDonald may only be effective for four or five games.

Granted, Wad Dubielewicz wasn’t the most experienced option, but he was certainly a commodity proven—to an extent—to have as DiPietro insurance. Now, if No. 39 gets hurt, his team will be in trouble.

Ollie Ollie Oxen-Campoli!

On the back end, the Isles’ defense is a mix of youngsters who need to prove themselves, and mediocre NHL defenders.

Granted, the Islanders went out and signed the 61-point-producing Mark Streit, but 34 of those points also came on the power play. Although his strong skating will come in handy, don’t expect Streit to produce at the same rate this year—especially with the possibility of him being a one-hit, 30 year-old wonder—or be what the Islanders need to survive in their own end of the ice.

Both Brendan Witt and Andy Sutton provide a big, physical presence on the back end for the Islanders, but neither will put up a ton of points. If they can be consistent on the back end and play some steady D, then the Isles may be in an adequate position.

Radek Martinek is another fairly underwhelming veteran defenseman, who could rack up between 13 and 17 assists this season, with a few goals to go along with it.

Chris Campoli is one young defenseman that I’m excited to watch this season. Campoli really came into his own in 2005-06, when he registered nine goals and 34 points over the course of his first full NHL campaign. Following a year split between the AHL and the NHL, Campoli looked to be back on track for the Islanders, with 18 points in the first 46 games of last season, before his time was cut short by shoulder surgery.

Campoli looked to be getting back on track last season, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see him come in close to the 30-point plateau once again this year.

Bruno Gervais is another young D-man who could turn in a solid season on the Island. He’s poised, and can move the puck fairly well—but he still has a little ways to go before he develops into a consistent NHL-calibre defenseman. Granted, the concussion late last season didn’t help, but if Gervais can overcome that, look for him to continue his improvement from last season.

Freddy Meyer is also another quality late-pairing guy who can provide some consistency for the Islanders from the blue line.

The Islanders also have two young defensemen who could benefit from seeing regular NHL time this season.

Dustin Kohn is a big-bodied kid who’ll benefit from filling out a little still. He’s developed a solid offensive game in the WHL with Brandon and Calgary, and also had a solid debut in the AHL with 12 points and plus-nine rating in 62 games.

Jack Hillen, the puck-moving defenseman coming out of the WCHA, really came into his own last season with Colorado College, and could surprise people for a few games this season, despite his small stature.

Okposo or Ocho Cinco? Oh, and Oso Cinco is five bears in Spanish, I think

The New York Islanders have three veteran forwards that—if this were 2000-2003—would give them one of the top line combos in the NHL, and a quality two-way center.

After Mike Sillinger’s solid 59-point campaign in 2006-07, people wondered if his fall-off would be imminent the following season, or if he could maintain some semblance of that form.

Unfortunately, Sillinger fell hard, posting 26 points and a minus-10 rating. With the influx of young talent in Long Island, don’t expect ‘Sills’ to really step it up this season, especially with a reduced role.

Bill Guerin and Doug Weight got their wish—to play together one more time. After spending 2006-07 together in St Louis, Guerin fled to be the leader of a young Islanders team, while Weight split the year between the Blues and Ducks.

Weight was fairly ineffective last season, netting only 11 points with St Louis, and just 14 points with the Ducks, while Guerin was a little more successful, posting a 23-goal season—but that came along with a minus-15.

All three of those players are hitting the “over the hill” period of their careers, so if you’re expecting hard-core contributions from them on the scoresheet, you might be disappointed.

As far as other names go, I’m really intrigued by Trent Hunter. Over the past four years, Hunter has been the definition of inconsistent. In 2003-04 Hunter scored 25 goals, tied up neatly with 51 total points. The season after the lockout, Hunter posted a measly 35-point season, with only 16 goals. Hunter followed up the next season with a 20-goal season, but had another 35-point showing thanks to a poor showing in the assists column.

Last season, Hunter became a bit more of a playmaker, but struggled to sore goals finishing with 12 (41 points overall). I personally believe that this will be the season Hunter puts it back together, and we maybe see another 50-, or even 60-point season from the much-maligned winger.

Mike Comrie is the other big scoring threat on this team who hadn’t been born by the time the Watergate scandal got President Nixon indicted. Last season, Comrie posted a solid 49-point season, and could be inching his way back to the 60-point range, as he’ll spend his second-consecutive full season in the same system—something he hasn’t done since his Edmonton days.

Blake Comeau and Frans Nielsen may be primed to start their ascension through the Islanders’ ranks. Blake and Nielsen are both solid playmakers who are going to have to continue to work hard as they make their way through the organization.  But they could easily pair up with a guy with a goal-scoring mentality—possibly Trent Hunter?—and create a pretty flashy second line.

In his brief Islanders’ career, Sean Bergenheim is starting to develop into a strong third-line player, who—if he adds some bulk and finds a little more offense—could really become a fan favorite on the Isle.

One hockey name you might recognize on this roster though might be that of Tambellini—Jeff Tambellini (yes, the son of Steve). Once a pick of the L.A. Kings, Jeff does what he can to work beyond his size and perform both offensively and defensively once he steps on the ice. If his scoring rounds into form at he NHL level, Tambellini could be great if surrounded by the right players.

The biggest gem in this equation though, is Kyle Okposo. The 20-year old had a solid debut with the Islanders last season (five points, plus-three in nine games), and is in the forefront of the Islanders’ plans in the future.

Although his production could tail off to 30 or 40 points his first full season (or two) in the NHL, Okposo will be the name and the face of this franchise going forward—and a feisty leader the Isles may not have seen since Brian Trottier.

So what’s it all mean?

The New York Islanders have struggled to find consistency the past few seasons. They’ve had their highs, they’ve had their lows, and they’ve also been mired in between.

If the Isles do end up locking up a top-five pick in the draft next season (and not trading it to Toronto—although I did appreciate that), then drafting a big, strong centerman could be the key to moving up in the division. Or a stud defenseman.

Either way, the Islanders have depth (Especially in the likes of Richard Park, Jon Sim, and Ben Walter, all of whom I neglected to mention), but the quality just isn’t there yet to compete.

With a few more pieces and a few more years though, the Isles could find their way back up the standings.

And I mean, they’ve got the time—DiPietro is there for another 13 years.

Fifth in Atlantic

But that’s all nice and dandy in knowing what I think, but what about the aforementioned Dee Karl?

Frankly, her knowledge of this team puts me to shame. Just sit back and enjoy this…trust me:

Yes, all eyes are on Rick DiPietro, our Bionic Goalie. But truth be told, he has the makings of a Hall of Famer. When he’s on—he’s DEAD on! When he isn’t, well, let’s just forget about those games.

Jon Sim will be a man possessed. I saw him so many nights standing in the tunnel in a suit, eyes burning to be on the ice with the team. He will fly and and surprise. No two ways about it. Trent Hunter is just “damn good” as is Richard Park, our short-handed goal scorer. They are consummate hockey players who produce when they’re needed.

You touched on a few of my personal favorites, and considering that I AM the Seventh Woman, I am allowed to have favorites and not just be objective. Campoli and Gervais needed each other. They are BOTH home-grown talents that deserve a year without injury so they can shine. One always looks for the other.

I hope that Scott Gordon realizes it. Bruno and Chris are like matched bookends. They don’t even need to see each other. They just know where the other is. They will be very important to the Islanders this year.

My boy Sean (Bergenheim)—as I have been calling him since he’s 18 and was our first-round draft pick—has come very far, and with luck and ice time, will continue to impress. Hell, the man impressed Scotty Bowman.

He’s got the feet, he just needs to work on his hands. And by the way… he can’t bulk up any more than he has. He’s a brick wall on the ice. (Campoli could use a few cheeseburgers though, since he’s been out so long.)

Jack Hillien could be one of Garth Snow’s best pickups. I just loved the way he skates. So close to the ice. He is unique.

You hit the nail on the head with Kyle. He will be the face of the franchise. I hope they are not pushing him too much. Blake Comeau has a great shot and a great attitude, and he clearly may overshadow Jeff (I’ve got the Islander bloodlines) Tambellini. But that’s why it’s a game. Every day things change.

Joey MacDonald may not be the best back-up goaltender for certain situations, but I’d take him in a brawl any day. He’s got a fire that will scorch if it has to.

Guerin and Weight… well… we’ll have to wait. They are both excellent hockey players. And they are warriors. If they have to play through pain, they will.

Witt is in a class by himself, and Comrie, to me, is an enigma. Sorry. We can only hope that Hilliary Duff is in the barn every night, because he seems to play better when she’s there. But to be fair to the man, he played hurt last season.

Our most important asset this season will be Scott Gordon. The Islanders have found themselves an “x’s and o’s” coach who can teach, instruct and plan. When they tell me that there are now THREE computer monitors on the coach’s desk, I can tell this is a man that has an attention to detail that we were so lacking.

No, we have no superstars on the NY Islanders. But what you will end up seeing is hockey as hockey should be played. With passion and desire. Hey… in this game, some days WILL beats SKILL. And that’s what I’ll hope for.

Ladies and gentlemen…your Islanders virtuoso!

Halladay fought the good fight, and won…

September 29, 2008

by Navin Vaswani… Yesterday, I sang the praises of A.J. Burnett and how wonderful he was against the Red Sox and Yankees this season. Now, it’s time to lavish praise on his brother in arms in the fight against the evil empires, Roy Halladay.

Really, what can I say about Roy Halladay that I haven’t said already? He is the greatest pitcher I’ve ever known. Doc picked up his 20th win of the season the other night and when it was all said and done, I wanted to take him in my arms, much like how A.J. did (pictured, yo).

What a performance from Halladay this season. Simply outstanding. He reached the 20 win plateau for the second time in his career and did it with another complete game gem last night, throwing only 96 pitches. For the good Doctor, anything less than a complete game masterpiece would have been uncivilized. It was his ninth complete game of the season and if that statistic doesn’t blow you away, it should. It really should. No, seriously, it should.
Halladay finishes the season with a 20-11 record, 2.78 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 206 strikeouts, and an opponents batting average of .237. He walked only 39 batters all season. In 246 innings. If that statistic doesn’t blow you away, it should. It really should. No, seriously, it should.
To put things in perspective, because that’s what I do around here, let’s compare Halladay’s 2008 season with his 2003 Cy Young Award winning campaign:
22-7 W/L, 36 games started, 266 innings pitched, 96 earned runs, 26 home runs, 32 walks, 204 strikeouts, 3.25 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, .247 opponents batting average, nine complete games and two shutouts.
20-11 W/L, 33 games started, 246 innings pitched, 76 earned runs, 18 home runs, 39 walks, 206 strikeouts, 2.78 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, .237 BAA, nine complete games and two shutouts.
You know, it’s hard to argue against Cliff Lee winning the Cy Young. He’s had a phenomenal season. So, here’s what I propose: they split the award. Co-winners, know what I’m saying? If Lee is deserving of the award, and he is, equally so is our Doc. It’s been well documented that Halladay has faced stiffer competition and, well, just go back a paragraph and have another look at Doc’s 2008 stats. He shaved almost half a run off his ERA from 2003, and threw nine complete games to Lee’s four. Nine complete games! Nine! I’m truly starting to believe The Ack over at The Tao of Stieb when he says that Halladay is a pitching machine from the future, sent back in time to save all of humanity.
Speaking of that stiffer competition, check out the layout below to see how Doc fared against the evil empires this season:
Doc vs NYY in 2008 (including last night’s bonerific start)
Games started: 6
W/L: 5-1
Innings pitched: 45
ERA: 2.40
WHIP: 0.91
Hits: 34
Runs: 12
Earned Runs: 12
Walks: 7
Strikeouts: 31
Opponents Batting Average: .211
Pretty impressive, eh? Two of those starts were complete games, and one was a two-hit shutout which I had the pleasure of being in the ball park for.
Halladay vs Boston Red Sox in 2008
Games started: 5
W/L: 3-2
Innings pitched: 38.2
ERA: 2.56
WHIP: 0.98
Hits: 32
Runs: 12
Earned runs: 11
Walks: 6
Strikeouts: 24
Opponents Batting Average: .224
Doc threw two complete games against the Sox, both in Fenway Park. One of them was actually a 1-0 loss; damn flaccid offence. Actually, of the nine complete games Doc tossed, three of them were losses. The three losses came during a stretch of four consecutive complete games Halladay threw in April. Yep, you read that right: four consecutive complete games. If that statistic doesn’t blow you away, it should. It really should. No, seriously, it should.
I think I began to truly appreciate Doc’s greatness this year. He is a superstar in every sense of the word, and I’m a better person for having had the chance to watch him, live and on the tube, every five days. When I grow up, I want to be just like Harry Leroy Halladay III.
Doc, along with his best friend forever A.J. Burnett, fought the good fight against the evil empires. And although we’re again on the outside looking in at the post-season, my boys, Doc and A.J., they triumphed over evil. For that, I salute them, especially Doc. A.J. is who he is today because of Roy Halladay.
Thanks Doc, for one hell of a season.
check out  Navins blog

Calgary Flames Look Good…Real Good!

September 29, 2008

by Daniel Sallows

As a Calgary Flames fan, I have had to endure numerous seasons of missing the playoffs, followed by a winning goal that never was (in Game Six of the Stanley Cup Finals in 2003-04), to mediocre play in the regular season leading up to a first-round exit.

This season, however, there is optimism the team has not had since that fabulous run of 2004. Yes, it is still exhibition—and I know I shouldn’t jump the gun, because even the no-name Canucks hold a 3-0 preseason record.

That being said it is hard not to get just a little excited after watching this new Flames team pick apart the Florida Panthers 8-2 on Friday night, all the while without their captain Jarome Iginla in the lineup.

If Todd Bertuzzi and Mike Cammalleri stay on either side of speedster Matthew Lombardi, than the Flames may just have a genuine second-line threat—which is something the team has lacked in numerous years. If Friday night’s game is any indication, Keenan would be smart to keep that line intact.

That would leave Iginla and Daymond Langkow to play with either Rene Bourque, Curtis Glencross, or David Moss, whom all scored in the whitewash of the Panthers as well.

I didn’t agree with Sutter trading Tanguay for basically peanuts, but the moves he made this summer was nothing short of brilliant.

If anything, this year’s installment of the Calgary Flames is deeper than any they have iced in the last 13 years.

With eight more-than-capable defencemen in Adrian Aucoin, Anders Eriksson, Mark Giordano, Dion Phaneuf, Robin Regehr, Cory Sarich, James Vandermeer, and Rhett Warrener, this team is not done making trades to improve just yet.

If Mikka Kiprusoff can rebound from a mediocre year, the defense-rich Flames play to their capabilities, and the roster stays healthy, there is no reason why this season’s installment will not make a run in the playoffs.

We may just hear Johnny Cash “Ring of Fire” blaring come June, and Jarome Iginla hoisting the Stanley Cup he has longed for—and deserves.

Is Sport a Reflection of Life…or a Mirage?

September 29, 2008

by Long John Silver …

Haven’t we all at various points in time claimed that sport is a reflection of life? I am sure I have many times, and the claim does have a certain degree of authenticity to it. On the other hand, here is why that reflection sometimes is a mere mirage.

When a top tennis athlete steps between the lines, it becomes an all-consuming entity. One wonders how can someone like Federer (who embraces serenity) play scintillating tennis in a chaotic, constant evening bustle of New York?

Fair question…it is because once Federer steps on the court he probably is completely unaware of what transpires outside the lines.

Kind of like how a writer is completely unaware of his ambiance, when he/she is in the process of writing.

When you are involved in something you enjoy consummately, everything else ceases to exist or fails to intrude even remotely. In a similar way, I am sure it’s the same for the rest of the top-level athletes.

In such a vacuum, every second on court is an opportunity for them to create something, which for a split-second defies reality.

Here are two examples: Federer and Nadal. In real life, we are faced with realities day in and day out and are reminded of our limitations. Top-level athletes are no more or no less human than you and me.

But for those few hours between the lines, they create something that tingles your senses to go “How did he do that?” Those few hours every day presents them with an opportunity to create something novel, refreshing, and however terse it might be…for those few fleeting moments, something “unrealistic.”

Those two seconds make an individual superhuman, sort of how Federer or Nadal felt at the conclusion of the two points presented above.

That’s the feeling that normal human beings will not experience, those two seconds of unconstrained, infinite, amorphous and boundless sensation of being c.

The second reason is less abstract than the first one: “living in denial.” Conventional wisdom professes it is to be avoided at any cost, for at best it can exacerbate the situation. Acceptance is the first step to addressing the problem and arriving to an acceptable solution.

Common problems such as marriage issues, addiction, reckless spending, for all of these and many more, accepting that there is a problem in the first step to solving the problem. Living in denial is not accepting the mere existence of the problem.

Think about the case of top-level athletes. Living in denial is an extremely important tool in their repertoire.

Consider someone like Lleyton Hewitt. He held an 8-1 record against Federer, and now it stands at 8-11.

In the past four years, Federer has had many victories against Hewitt, with each victory different from the previous one. He has beaten, out-slugged, grinded, whipped and completely decimated him.

Each victory has been different, but the end result has been the same. Hewitt almost has less than a 0.001 percent (in non-geek math terms, it’s a zero) probability of beating Federer.

It’s like saying, I can hope to come up with something equivalent to E=mc2, in my future. Sure, I have a non zero (the same 0.001%) probability too, but what the odds it will actually happen?

The next time they meet, what are the probabilities that Hewitt will swallow a huge dose of reality and think along those lines, though? He has to live in denial; it’s imperative he does. There really isn’t much point in stepping onto the court, if he believes he cannot beat Federer.

Of course, one can always counter-argue the easier option. It’s not that Hewitt lives in denial, but he sincerely swallows the reality where he knows he will not beat Federer.

Somehow after watching the south Australian for eight years, I fail to believe that. He lives in denial (which in this case is terrific for his chances as a top level tennis player) trying to draw any possible inspiration from the fact that he has indeed beaten Federer eight times previously…and then he steps on the court.

There really isn’t any other option for him. I am not claiming that living in denial will have the intended effect, but accepting reality is even worse.

Reversing roles, Federer himself has displayed such thought processes many times before. He turned around his losing records against Hewitt (from 1-8) and Nalbandian. Embracing reality would have done him no good.

Other than the fact that he improved in leaps and bounds as a tennis player, a minuscule part of him must have lived in denial until he managed to turn the rivalry around. That little voice deep inside that says, “You will eventually beat him.”

Here is one for the future. How many of you seriously think Federer can beat Nadal at Roland Garros on a day, when all things are equal, and both of them are playing their best.

If it was me, I am not sure I would invest any money on Federer (I would love for him to pull it off, though) but logic does not recommend such an investment.

Given the way the 2008 final was a clinical rout, do you really think that Federer will embrace reality the next time he meets Nadal in the Roland Garros final? There is no real possibility he would do that.

The only attitude that he needs to embrace (if and) when he plays Nadal in the 2009 Roland Garros final is, “I am not going to allow myself to think of last years’ final. I know I can beat Nadal on clay. Let’s get the job done today; let’s hit some of those winners.

It makes sense to me, that’s precisely what he must and should be thinking: live in denial. If I were him, that’s precisely what I would do.

“Feeling Super-Human” and “Living in Denial” are certainly two characteristics of sport that do not reflect life.

In two such unique cases, Sport does not mirror, nor is a reflection of Life; it is merely a Mirage.

P.S: Mate, if you love tennis to any extent that I do, you would love this article in the New York Times. Take my word for it; its a must read for every tennis junkie. It’s long, but it’s worth its weight in GOLD.


It’s raining 6’s!

September 29, 2008

by Aaron Kumar… http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/tms/_44127350_flintoff203.jpgBeing ticked off can make people respond in different ways, particularly in top level sport. I have however never seen a response quite as emphatic as the one by Yuvraj Singh of India against Andrew “Freddy” Flintoff (England), in the Twenty20 World Cup in South Africa last year.

Flintoff was obviously annoyed that his team were having no joy against the Indian’s, so just before the second to last over of India’s innings he went up to Yuvraj and said a few words in a heated manner. In Cricket this is what you call “sledging” Yuvraj was clearly pissed off with whatever Flintoff said to him, as the Indian batsman furiously followed after a back pedalling Flintoff.

One mistake and you are gone, is the reality facing batsman at any level, with that in mind it seemed likely that a fired up Yuvraj would go for a reckless shot and commit cricketing suicide right? …. Wrong, what followed was some of the most unbelievable scenes in the history of the game. Flintoff looked as though he was ready to cry his eyes out, but he can take some consolation from the fact that he is most likely the catalyst to one of the most amazing feats to be achieved in the sport.
Stuart Broad, a young England opening bowler, ran in to bowl to Yuvraj first ball of the second to last over, …. Crash! The ball went way back into the crowd for a towering six one of the biggest of the tournament. Ravi Shastri the commentator seemed more fired up than Yuvraj himself “CRUNNNNCHING SOUND as the ball hit willow”.

So Yuvraj hits the first ball over for a six, now he has got rid of all his frustrations right?… Wrong the next ball of the over goes for another maximum two sixes from two ball!
Broad clearly getting the backlash of Yuvi’s anger looks quite dazed by it all, as he runs in again… same result this time. Yuvi smashes him for a six this time on the off side over extra cover, one of the hardest shots in the game! Three in a row!
It was getting desperate, now Broad tried bowling from the other side of the wicket, Yuvraj was late on the shot! But such was his confidence the big man still slashed the ball over third man for another six, now people were starting to talk about the seemingly impossible. Shastri clearly thought it was on“he has the license, now to go for the full Monty, six out of six”
Who are we to argue with Ravi? Yuvi smashed the 5th ball of the over for a six, perhaps the biggest of the over .
Hitting 6 6s in an over is such a rare feat (it had only been done three times before and never against a main International team), that one would expect some tension before the final ball off the over. However, there was no doubt on this occasion where the 6th ball of the over was going! And that was the same place as the previous five , Yuvi launched the final ball of the over for yet another towering six.
My favourite part about this was Yuvi’s body language , having just completed one of the most amazing feats in the game he hi5’s his captain before turning towards Flintoff and letting rip as if to say “who is the daddy?”
About 5 minutes on from Flintoff’s outburst Yuvi had achieved something spectacular, yet all that was on his mind was making sure Flintoff saw the fireworks!

Well done Freddy you helped create history!

Rookies And Sophomores; Who Will Breakout This Season?

September 29, 2008

by Mark Ritter… The leaves are beginning to turn, the air is getting colder; for Hockey Fans it can only mean one thing, Hockey Season is just around the corner. With that in mind, one starts to wonder which rookies will crack the “Big clubs” roster? Which second year players will continue to grow? Which freshmen will disappoint? Here are my top 10 Rookies and Sophomore players to look at this season.

There are several key Rookies to look for this season, some for their offensive abilities, others for their overall games. Let’s look at ten players that should have an impact on their clubs this season….

1.    Steven Stamkos- The Tampa Bay Center will be surrounded by a multitude of talented players. Early pre-season results suggest that Stamkos will not only make the Lightening lineup, Stamkos should see top six forward duties and perhaps even a little Power Play time. Stamkos will announce his presence with, as “South park’s Cartman” once said, “authorit-ha”. 70-75 points are very realistic.
2.    Fabian Brunnstrom- Dallas was able to sign this European phenom in the offseason. He plays Left Wing and should see plenty of action on one of the top two lines. Look for Brunnstrom to hit the 50 point mark and show glimpses of brilliance.
3.    Zach Bogosian- Might get an opportunity to play alongside newly acquired veteran Defensemen Mathieu Schneider, if that happens, look for Bogosian to have a great season. This dude is one mean son of a Be-otch! He’ll stay with the big club and be a household name by the All-Star break.
4.    Drew Doughty- I had the pleasure of watching Doughty on a couple of occasions last season in the OHL. The kid is gifted folks, and besides, who the heck else are the Kings going to put back there? Doughty will learn the hard way, but should be able to hold his own. Doughty should easily hit 30 points, but he will struggle with his frustration level and defensively as well as the Kings have very little in the way of defense to begin with.
5.    Mikkel Boedker
- Boedker is ready for Phoenix; he should see top six forward duties and should hit the 40 point mark. He skates well and has a nose for the net. Boedker will be a star in this league before long, book it!
6.    Luke Schenn- I wince at the thought of Schenn having to endure a full season on Toronto’s blue line in 2008/09, but it’s looking more and more like he might just crack the lineup. Big hits and the ability to control the defensive zone are the highlights to his game. If Schenn does crack the lineup, look for him to get some time on the Penalty Kill, but not the Power Play. Schenn won’t score many goals, but that’s not his game, he’ll still have an impact on the Leafs season and that’s all you can ask for.
7.    Nikolai Kulemin- Evgeni Malkin says he’s going to be a “good” NHL player, that’s good enough for me to pick him as one of my rookies to watch. Kulemin had 33 points in 57 games in the Russian league last season, he has a great opportunity to stick with Toronto, but must impress early if he intends on staying. Could score 15 if given the opportunity.
8.    T.J. Oshie- This guy can flat out score and the St. Louis Blues need all the scoring they can get. Look for Oshie to get every opportunity to stay with St. Louis as a top six forward. His offensive abilities should endear him to some playing time on the power Play with Paul Kariya, what’s not to like about that?
9.    Kyle Turris- Ok, so he needs to eat a sandwich or two and gain some size, but there is no denying he has the offensive prowess to compete in the NHL this season. Phoenix will likely give him a chance to play this season, but he may fall back if he can’t take the “heat”.
10.    Claude Giroux- A star in the Quebec League, Giroux will get a look-see from the Flyers’ braintrust this season. Look for Giroux to hit the 40-50 point mark if given the right opportunity. A second line job is his for the taking; the question is how bad does he want it?


Many of these players have already established themselves as great, good or decent rookies. The question is, who will continue to climb the ladder and who will falter? Here are my top ten sophomore year players and their projected totals this season….

1.    Johnathan Toews- The Chicago Blackhawks had two of the best rookies in the league last year, Jonathan Toews and Patrick kane. Look for Toews to improve his totals from an injury riddled 2008/09.  Toews will be a force in the NHL for the next decade, look for him to put up 80 points and embrace the Captaincy as the Blackhawks leader and the new face of the organization.
2.    Patrick Kane- So, you saw this coming, huh? Yeah, Kane is another awesome talent on the Chicago Blackhawks roster. Like Toews, Kane will continue to grow and should mirror Toews numbers.
3.    Patrick Sharp- Ok, I know, enough with the Chicago Blackhawks already! Sorry folks, Patrick Sharp has been getting kicked around like a dog this offseason with many Fantasy Hockey poolies looking for a reduction in Sharp’s statistics. Ahh, No! Sharp will play on the first power play and should see a regular shift on the first line alongside Toews and Kane. If Sharp doesn’t hit 70-75 points and net 30 goals along the way I’d be shocked.
4.    Carey Price- when all was said and done Price had a bit of a rough playoff, that said, Price looked pretty good in the first series and the majority of the regular season games he saw action in. Look for Price to continue his dominance. An All-Star birth is not out of the question. Price nets 30-35 wins easy.
5. Milan Lucic- Boston has a great talent here with Lucic. Some have even had the guts to compare him to Cam Neely. Can’t say that I am convinced that Lucic is the second coming of Cam Neely, but I do see him making a considerable improvement on last years totals. Lucic should see his fair share of first line duties and may even get some Power Play opportunities. Playing alongside Patrice Bergeron or Marc Savard, Lucic will hit the 50 point mark and could score 20-25 goals.
6.    Drew Stafford- The Sabres are looking for Stafford to have a huge season. Like many before him, Stafford will have to play both ends of the ice if he is to endear himself to Coach Lindy Ruff. Stafford should net you 50 points, 20 of them goals.
7.    Valterri Filppula- This lucky son of a gun is projected to be playing alongside –Johan Franzen and Marian Hossa, talk about a sweet ride! If Filppula doesn’t put up 60 points there is something very wrong. Who knows what Filppula is capable of, one things for sure, he will have every opportunity to put up huge stats down the road, this season is only the beginning.
8.    Sam Gagner- Put up 33 points in the second half of last season. Should see plenty of action on the second line and also on the second Power Play. Gagner has the speed to elude most Defensemen and a decent set of hands. 60 points comes easy, 70 still may be a stretch.
9.    Patrick O’Sullivan- O’Sullivan is still trying to iron out some contract issues with the Kings, so we may have to treat him as a “wait and see” guy. He’s just two seasons removed from putting up 93 points in the AHL, going forward, I see O’Sullivan as a pivotal player on this Kings roster, or wherever else he ends up playing. If he plays the whole season with the Kings he’ll end up with a brutal Plus/minus…A cautious 60-70 points is possible; just keep checking his contract status.
10.    Dan Ellis- Ellis was very impressive against the Detroit Red Wings in last years Playoffs. Nashville will play him often in 2008/09, thus his totals will rise accordingly. Look for Ellis to hit the 30-35 win total and be amongst the leaders in Save Percentage

There you have it, 20 players to keep your eye on this season. Let the games begin!

Is Claude Lemeuix On Drugs?

September 29, 2008

By Joshua Khan…

Turtle’s back.

Yep, it’s true. The established hockey player who once pussied out during the prestigious 1997 Detroit Red Wings-Colorado Avalanche brawl is planning a comeback to the National Hockey League. Despite being 43 years old, Claude Lemieux actually thinks he can do something in a league full of young superstars.

Whether its for Colorado or for another NHL organization, the Hall Of Fame hopeful has stated that he actually thinks he can lead a team to the playoffs and maybe even hoist the Stanley Cup once again. Like a smart human being, Lemieux knows its going to take a lot of work to achieve such goals and is willing to even play for a team’s minor league affiliate first. Such confidence and wisdom is a positive thing, but does Lemieux have what it takes to play in the new NHL?

Steve Reinprecht seems to think so.

Then again, who gives a fuck about what Steve Reinprecht thinks?

Lemieux’s statistics help his case because believe it or not, Turtle actually has 80 career playoff goals which is ninth all-time in NHL history. Along with such an honor, the old geezer has four Stanley Cup rings, a Conn Smythe Trophy and nine 20-goal seasons to his name. But a professional hockey team isn’t going to sign Claude Lemieux for his “astonishing goal-scoring talent”. At most, Lemieux will get about 15 goals playing on the third or fourth line for a team. 20 goals maybe if he plays for Nashville.

The only reason a team might sign the 20-year veteran is for his grit. Lemieux can be a complete wuss at some times, but he’s actually tougher than most people give him credit for. With the amount of posers who love-tap each other in the league today, it would be nice to see a real, bloody fight for once. I for one, would love to watch Lemieux beat the crap out Steve Ott because it’s better than seeing two nobodies tug at each other’s jerseys like a couple of princesses who are afraid to break a nail.

It’ll be interesting to see how Colorado and the rest of the league reacts to Lemieux’s decision. Lately, old veterans haven’t been treated well (Petr Nedved got booted despite having a great preseason) and are pretty much long shots to make teams full of talent (Bryan Berard in Philadelphia, Jeff O’Neill in Carolina). It would be nice to see Lemieux in an Avs or even a Devils jersey this upcoming season, but only time will tell.

If he makes a team, I’m hoping for a good show, even if it involves turtling.

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