UP TO SPEED - Do As I Say-But Not As I- Say?

October 31, 2008

http://www.daymented.com/2004/0504_hockey.jpgby Dan Silver…

I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard during coaches corner as I did  during the leaf suck-fest against the Habs.  Don Cherry lashed out against the Leaf management for publicly stating their low expectations of the players and organization.  Cherry insists the Leafs are much better and stronger than they were last year.  Ron Mclean then asked Cherry if the Leafs would make the playoffs in which Cherry responded- “No-not this year”.

Welcome to the third line checking unit Don.

Pen Pals

Bryan Dudenhefer was arrested fifteen minutes after being released from prison for trying to steal a car…..in the police parking lot in which he was released.  That might give some comfort to the second dumbest person in the universe-that being Ryan Hollweg of course, who annihilated Alex Pietrangelo of the St.Louis Blues from behind.

Hollweg came fresh off a 2 game suspension for annihilating Jay Mckee of the St.Louis Blues from behind a week before.  Maybe Bryan and Ryan can one day share a cell together in St.Louis and trade stories.  They could even videotape their escape attempts, (most likely minutes after they arrive in sing sing) and send it to America’s funniest home videos!

Maybe prison will teach Hollweg the true hart of getting hit from behind.

Idiots.

No Pals Of The Pens

I recently went to a movie called “Traitor” with absolutely no idea what it was about, I just assumed it starred ex-penguin Marrian Hossa leaving his cold battered baby penguins to die.

I mean, to abandon your mates only to join the team who stole the cup from your old ruffled feathers should be considered treason!  No trial, no jury, just carve him up like a Turkey and be done with it!

The worst part is how Detroit fans have made him the poster boy for their attempted repeat of being Stanley cup champions.  Has anyone done their research on Hossas before squandering millions of dollars?

Hossa just might go down as the worst playoff performer in NHL history!  Still don’t believe me?  The high flying sniper has accumulated a whopping…….are you ready……brace yourselves…….13 goals in 56 games in 7 years of playoff runs!!!  That’s about one goal every five games!

Just think of all the Octupus one can get for that dough.

Playoffs require hard work, commitment, and sacrifice….three words you won’t find in the Slovakian dictionary.  If you can’t beat ‘em might as well join ‘em huh Marrian?

Pathetic.

Jolly Green Giant

If we morphed Nik Anthropov and Alexi Ponikarovsky into one giant Eurpoean meatball, it would stand over 13 feet tall, weigh over 5oo pounds, and it still wouldn’t hit, fight, or score.

The Habs pulverized the withering buds all night at the home opener, and they did it without Laraque, Higgins, or Francis Boullion!

And the only response from the Leafs was from pipsqueak Dominic Moore who took a ten step running crosscheck into Mike “The Wall” komisarek.  Naturally he was penalized for it, and luckily for Moore the dirty hit probably felt like a mosquito bite to Komisarek, which could have had him suspended.

Moore better kiss his wife twice goodbye next time the Habs are in town, if he’s smart he should avoid entering Komisarek-ville for a while.

Now That’s Gotta Hurt

After re-hab, a long term suspension, and prison, Mark Bell was denied a spot on the “new leaf” roster, and was sent back to prison!…..ok ok maybe not prison, but junior hockey aint too far off.

You telling me a back to back 20 goal scorer for the Blackhawks who hits and fights aint good enough for the Leafs???  The earth shattering hit he layed on Alfredson in the last game of the season last year should have granted him captaincy!

Hell the sound of Alfie’s head hitting the ice should be the theme song for Hockey Night In Canada!

For that-I’ll always remember you Mark.

Perhaps it’s bad P.R. to have 2 guys on the same checking unit with a criminal record.  I wonder which dummy will complete the package?

A FIRST: THE TOsports MAILBAG

October 31, 2008

By English Paul…

Today I present my first mailbag for TOsports. A big thanks to those who contacted me with your contributions.

Please be advised that the views expressed in this column are purely those of English Paul. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of anyone connected with TOsports, expect for any comments on how bad the Cincinnati Bengals really are.

The first email was received in connection to the quote I started my last column with.

Q. Hey, while I agree with the quote (Maurice Clarett is one I thought you would use for sure) I think there is one man who finally reached his limit for stupidity……Lawrence Phillips.

EP. Yes, Maurice Clarett is someone I’m familiar with, as a result of the Broncos drafting him in 2005. Believe me, the list could have gone on forever with all the people I was thinking of. I actually put Isiah Thomas on at one point, but decided to give him a break after the recent headlines surrounding him. Ironically, his apparent accidental overdose and subsequent attempts to put it on his daughter offer even more proof that he belongs on the list.

Turning to Lawrence Phillips, I don’t actually think he HAS reached his limit yet. Let’s be honest, this guy has been to the last chance saloon about fifty times, yet he’s still screwing up. Phillips is on a path of self-destruction and doesn’t seem willing to hit the brakes (no pun intended.) It’s sad to say this, but another meltdown is imminent, whether in prison or whenever he gets out.

Q. Steve Stamkos has zero points so far this season in the NHL. If he wasn’t the number one draft pick, do you think Tampa would have sent him back to junior level by now?

EP. As much as Stamkos (I have to admit, I typed his name as Stankos by mistake) has been struggling, I wouldn’t send him back to the juniors. Tampa Bay is thinking long-term with this guy. Sometimes, it’s best to just go out there and get ‘stuck in’. Take your lumps and bruises and learn on the job. You find out a lot about someone in how they deal with adversity.

Yes, he’s the number one overall draft pick, but I hope too much is not being expected just yet. Come on! The kid’s only 18 and he’s playing for a team, which, let’s face it, stinks. Tampa Bay had the least points in the NHL last season and aren’t doing much better in 2008/09. Stamkos will continue to get better as his physical strength improves and he gains experience. Trust me, he’s going to be special.

(Ironically enough, since I received this question, Stamkos has earned his first point of the season in a win against, who else, the Toronto Maple Leafs. Snotty-nosed little punk. Who the hell does he think he is?!)

Q. If you were able to choose who graced the cover of EA sports Madden 2009, who would you pick and why? How about the NBA, MLB and NHL versions?

EP. If Brett had stayed retired, I would have stuck with him. As things stand though, I would have picked Tom Brady. Super Bowl loss or not, he passed for 50 TDs’, was awarded league MVP and won 18 straight games. And his season-ending injury would have been perfect, adding further evidence to the ongoing ‘Madden cover curse’ theory.

For the NBA cover, I’d go with Chris Paul. He was sensational last season, in the running for league MVP and to my knowledge, never had any rape charges made against him. The NHL cover is a no-brainer. It has to be Sid the Kid. Overchkin may have won the MVP award, but he was on the cover in 2007. Besides, Crosby is the game’s biggest name and he’s started to fulfil his potential, helping Pittsburgh advance to the finals last season.

Finally, there’s no EA sports game for Baseball, but if there was, I’d vote for Barry Bonds, in honour of breaking the career home run record. I’m joking of course. I’d go with Johan Santana, who has the advantage over the other three of not getting knocked out of the playoffs. Then again, he didn’t even MAKE the playoffs. Geez, what a bunch of losers.

Q. If you had to go with 10 players on the field for an NFL game, which position would you delete…………..in other words, which is the most irrelevant position. This applies to both offence and defence.

EP. Let’s assume we are talking about standard offensive and defensive (3-4 or 4-3) formations on first and 10. Removing a position from one side of the ball would automatically influence how the other side line up and who they take out. For example, if you remove one of the wide receivers on offence, you can take out a cornerback from the defence. Likewise, remove the halfback and one of the safety’s could come out.

It also depends which team you’re talking about. For example, if an offence is stronger in the passing game, then an element of the running game could theoretically be removed, but who? The fullback, who can stay in to block or the halfback, who can catch passes out of the backfield? What about an offensive lineman? If the defence is a superior blitzing team, you need all the help you can get in protecting the quarterback. And the tight end can help out with both elements so that counts him out.

In conclusion, I don’t think any of the positions on a team can really be considered more irrelevant than the rest. Apart from the third-string quarterback on any Brett Favre team, the New Orleans Saints punter and the entire Cincinnati Bengals team.

Q. Toronto question given your Toronto bias is blatantly obvious. Jose Calderon has officially become the ‘undisputed floor leader’ for the Raps according to local media agents. Do you think he’s proven he can handle the pressure, extra playing time, etc?

EP. In a word, yes. The improvement made by Calderon between his first year with the Raptors and last season has been impressive and, if the truth be known, pleasantly surprising. The injuries to T.J. Ford also helped speed up Calderon’s development. This was especially true last season, when Ford had extended periods on the sidelines, thus proving that Jose can handle the extra pressure and extended playing time. And don’t forget his excellent decision-making, leading to the best assist to turnover ratio in the entire NBA last season.

All in all, I reckon Calderon will become one of the NBA’s top five point guards this season. But that could just be because of my blatant Toronto bias.

Q. Why was it such a big deal to postpone the World Series by two days? Sure it got rained out…..it’s not like they have to squeeze games in later because of scheduling conflicts.

A. What do you want from me? You’ve pretty much answered it yourself! I agree though, I don’t understand why there was such a fuss. It made prefect sense to me. You couldn’t continue in those conditions. Baseball isn’t meant to be played in the rain. If anything, the MLB is lucky that they’ve never had to deal with this problem before, given how long the league has been around.

Q. Forbes recently valued all the teams in the NHL and the average value was $220 million ($448 the highest, $142 the lowest.) The average value of NFL franchises is over 1 billion dollars. Why the massive discrepancy?

A. Great. Just what I need. A question where I actually have to give the answer some serious thought.

There have been a lot of new stadiums built in the NFL over the last ten years, more so than the other leagues. I’m thinking this is part of the reason.

But possibly the main reason, and I only discovered this recently, is because the NFL forbids corporate ownership of teams. This is not the case with the other leagues. As such, the teams are normally bought/owned by individuals with lots of money (prime example Daniel Snyder.)

The NFL is the most popular league in North America, often commanding the biggest T.V. contracts. This is helped by the fact that the league is renowned for being more competitively balanced than the NBA, NHL and MLB. This results in lots of close and exciting games and more teams capable of winning the Super Bowl.

What does all of this actually mean? People with serious money are prepared to bid big dollars to own an NFL team. A lot of these owners then almost treat the team as their toy. They have so much money that they are prepared to pump lots of cash into the organisation to improve the facilities, playing conditions, etc, thus increasing the value of the team further.

Q. Didn’t some athlete make a comment a while ago about $37 million not being enough to support his family? He either turned down the money, or was traded or something of that nature. I know nothing much about this, but one of my friends mentioned it to me in passing the other day.

EP. This gets the award for ‘most enthusiastic yet clueless e-mail attempt of the week.’ Nice effort though. I have NO idea who the hell you’re talking about. I think we can all safely agree though that $37 million not being enough to support your family is utter bollocks.

Ok, that seems like a good place to end the first TOsports mailbag, but hey, let’s do this again sometime soon.

Paul Taylor can be contacted at

Wake Up with Horror Movie Hotties

October 31, 2008

Because it is that time of the year, here are a few of your favorite and ours. Horror Movie Hotties! Thanks to Uncle Buck for putting the great list together. How many can you name? My score was 14, not bad, can you do better?

Now if you’re looking to get your hands on a published version of TOsports, you better get out there and pick one up, I know you want to! In the next few days The Captain is The Paperboy as he distributes “The Magazine” around the GTA and beyond.

Look under Magazine in the Navigation Bar and click on “Where to Get it” and you will see a list of the fine people that are helping us distribute TOsports. Our promo team will be in front of the ACC this Saturday. In the November issue Maria, our Cinnamon Girl, graces the cover. When you see her ask for an autograph.

Toronto Raptors 2008-09 Season Preview

October 30, 2008

by Carter… Jermaine O’Neal did everything he could in Indiana and some things he shouldn’t have done during the infamous Pacers-Pistons brawl at The Palace. And when his time in Hoosier country ended, the broad-shouldered big man did some crying. O’Neal shed tears of joy. Tired of losing and all the extra-curricular things that happened with Indiana the last several years, he wanted out. When Toronto completed the blockbuster deal with Indiana for O’Neal, the Raptors were one very happy organization with one very happy perennial All-Star.

“Sometimes you lose that love and you need a move or something else to get that fire back in you,” O’Neal says. “When I got the call, it was like a whole new life and I was really excited about it.

“My knee is healthy and I finally got that situation taken care. I’m ready to play some basketball and compete for a championship.”

After finishing 41–41 and being bounced from the first round of the playoffs for the second straight year, Toronto sent T.J. Ford, Rasho Nesterovic, Maceo Baston and the rights to the No. 17 pick (Roy Hibbert) for O’Neal and the rights to pick 41 (Nathan Jawai).

In O’Neal, the Raptors believe they’ve shored up some weak areas — interior defense and rebounding — and got someone to help franchise player Chris Bosh. They also hope they acquired this year’s Kevin Garnett, and that O’Neal flourishes with a change of scenery and in turn, Toronto reaps the rewards.

Like Garnett did with Boston last year, O’Neal, 30, comes to a team that has an established star. The one difference is Garnett was healthy; O’Neal, a six-time All-Star, hasn’t been the same player for a few years due to his left knee. O’Neal had surgery to repair a torn meniscus last offseason and sat out about half of ’07-08 because the knee was bothering him. Toronto team doctors did a battery of tests and found the knee to be fine. O’Neal worked hard all summer, said he feels great and is ready for a retro season.

Frontcourt

O’Neal already has said it’s Bosh’s team. But Bosh, no doubt, welcomes the help. He had another All-Star season last year (22.3 ppg, 8.7 rpg), but teams loaded up on him more than ever. They won’t be able to if O’Neal is out there. Together, Bosh, the power forward, and O’Neal, the center, could form the East’s most formidable frontline. Already, the Raptors are throwing around the Tim Duncan and David Robinson comparisons — a little off, but you can see the connection. After O’Neal was acquired, coach Sam Mitchell said he started watching tapes of the Spurs to see what he could take from studying Duncan and Robinson playing together.

“My message to the other players is they better get out and run if they want some shots,” Mitchell says, “because when we come down to set up, the ball is going into Jermaine or Chris, and we’re going to play from there.”

Like Duncan and Robinson, Bosh and O’Neal should receive a ton of attention inside and as a result make their teammates better. It’s up to Toronto’s sharpshooters to make teams pay for leaving them open. One of them is Andrea Bargnani, the No. 1 pick in 2006. It’s a big year for Bargnani after an up-and-down second NBA season. The versatile 7-footer should benefit from O’Neal’s presence on both ends of the floor.

The Raptors tried to upgrade the small forward position and reportedly had trade talks for Richard Jefferson and Gerald Wallace. Nothing ever materialized, so Jamario Moon, Jason Kapono, Anthony Parker, Joey Graham, Hassan Adams and occasionally Bargnani will man that spot.

Moon, who signed a non-guaranteed deal last offseason, wound up starting 75 games and finishing second on Toronto in rebounds (6.2). Everyone wants to see what the high-flyer can do in Year 2. Kapono, last summer’s big signing, probably likes being a Raptor more than ever. The league leader in 3-point accuracy the past two years will shoot for a three-peat in 2008-09.

Graham could be playing his final season in Toronto if he doesn’t step up. He regressed last year but worked hard in the offseason and willingly played for the Raptors’ summer-league team, which most players with three years of experience don’t do. Power forward Kris Humphries took on a bigger role last season with Jorge Garbajosa out all but seven games. The Raptors bought out Garbajosa, so Humphries’ role might expand, more so if O’Neal’s knee acts up.

Backcourt

Jose Calderon is running the team — full-time now. The Raptors chose him over Ford, giving the ever-improving Calderon a five-year, $40 million contract extension over the summer. A great decision-maker and shooter, Calderon finished fifth in the league in assists (8.3) last year and knocked down 51.9 percent of his shots, including 42.9 from three. Having Bosh and O’Neal should help all those numbers, but Calderon also will battle first-team guards more often now.

Mitchell has to try to keep Calderon fresh, too. He is expected to play major minutes unless Croatian rookie Roko Ukic, who’s played overseas since Toronto drafted him in the second round in 2005, is an instant hit. Ukic played well in Italy last year. Former Clemson Tiger Will Solomon was signed as insurance. A former second-round pick of Memphis, Solomon has played overseas since 2002.

Parker, an underrated shooting guard, plays both ends effectively. He averaged a career-best 12.5 points per game and set personal highs in 12 other categories last season. The league’s seventh-best 3-point shooter (43.8 percent) probably is visualizing all the wide-open corner shots he’s going to get with Bosh and O’Neal. Ditto for Kapono, who can play some shooting guard.

Adams, a former Net, is one of the many Raptors who can play multiple positions. His specialty is defense, so he could carve out a spot for himself.

Final Analysis

Despite making the playoffs the past two seasons, the Raptors have finished in the bottom six in rebounds and blocked shots each year. O’Neal has averaged a double-double three times and has blocked at least two shots per game for eight consecutive seasons. The bottom line: O’Neal is a risk, but he fills some major needs. If his health matches his hunger and he can play into May, the Raptors could get out of the first round for only the second time in their history.

Carter’s Prediction:

3rd in Atlantic Division

8th in Eastern Conference

Loses to Boston Celtics in 4 games in Eastern Conference Quarterfinals

Make Yourself At Home, TFC

October 30, 2008

[tfc+scarf.jpg]

by  Navin Vaswani… Toronto FC’s season is over. A season that began with so much promise ended with so much disappointment. BMO Field must wait to pop its playoff cherry.

Honestly, I didn’t watch enough of TFC in 2008 to tell you where it all went to hell. I’ll leave that to the professionals. In this case, The Toronto Star’s Cathal Kelly.
I know, I know, there’s a lot of hate out there amongst soccer aficionados pointed at my man Cathal, but I enjoy his work. I loved his coverage of Euro 2008 this past summer. His blog was hilarious. In my humble opinion, the man can write.
Cathal’s take on TFC in 2008? The team just wasn’t that good. And you can blame TFC’s director of soccer Mo Johnston for that.
Johnston promised big things, and he didn’t deliver. If Mo was the man in charge of any other Toronto sports franchise, he’d be out of a job. I don’t think he’s taken enough heat for TFC’s brutal season, but my man Cathal brought the fire. Read his column.
Here’s hoping shit changes in the front office down at BMO Field. Major League Soccer has been a huge success in Toronto, but there has got to be a better squad on the field, plain and simple.
TFC is already looking all too comfortable in the city’s sports scene. They’re fitting in rather well, actually. The club is printing money, but the playoffs are nowhere in sight. It’s absolutely shocking that they’re owned and operated by MLSE.
If it weren’t for the Toronto Raptors, these might be some of the darkest days in Toronto sports history. The Jays, Leafs, Argos (yikes), and TFC aren’t exactly knocking my socks off.
Required Footy Reading
If you’re looking to satisfy your Canadian footy/TFC blogging needs, because God knows I’m not getting ‘er done, check out The 24th Minute. Duane Rollins, he of Out of Left Field fame, is your amiable host. And, yes, the blog is aptly named in honour of TFC’s first ever goal, scored by Danny Dichio in, you guessed it, the 24th minute.
Also, the gentlemen over at The Passion That Frustrates Us All have posted part one of their TFC Season Review. Check out the layout, they’re good people over there.

Dont forget to check out Navin at Sports And The City

Matt Stairs: The Humble Hometown Hero

October 30, 2008

by Abby Pond… Last night, Matt Stairs achieved a lifelong dream he once thought was out of reach.

Days of nail biting rain delays had passed. The Rays and the Phillies took to the dampened field and Philadelphia walked off as World Series Champions for the first time in thirty years.

For forty year old Stairs, it must have been the pinnacle of a long, turbulent career. Yet you won’t hear his name listed among the heroes credited with the win. He isn’t the series MVP, the fastest outfielder, or the biggest slugger.

Stairs is another type of hero entirely—the one you find between the lines of the major news stories, bolstering his teammates with experience, confidence, and leadership.  More importantly, he is the easy-going hometown idol for many young baseball players in New Brunswick.

Canada isn’t known for producing vast numbers of major league baseball stars. Hockey reigns supreme, for the most part.  Even Stairs can’t escape it entirely—he coaches hockey during his off-season at a private school in Bangor, Maine. High caliber athletes often play hockey in winter and baseball during the warmer months.

It’s been almost a century since a New Brunswick native baseballer played in the World Series. Despite the lack of big league idols to emulate, baseball has a loyal following, particularly in New Brunswick and British Columbia.

Stairs grew up outside the city of Fredericton, not far from my hometown. When I was a teenager, he was playing for Oakland and putting up some of the best numbers of his career.  Everyone knew who Matt Stairs was, and were bursting with pride over the fact a local boy had made it big.

Rural New Brunswick is a difficult place to grow up, and a hard place to make a living. Even more so now than when Stairs was a kid. Dreams are very important things. Matt Stairs is a hero because not only does he foster dreams through his achievements, he fosters them through his actions.

Matt is the guy that will stop and chat with you at the local general store.

He’s the guy that enrolls his kids in the local public school instead of sending them to private schools.

He’s the guy that wanders around the clubhouse in a jock strap and a Santa hat to lighten up his teammates.

He’s also the guy that shrugged and got on with business after his pivotal home run in Game three of the NLCS.

Congratulations, Matt. My seven year old nephew, who lives ten minutes from your old house, can’t wait to see your ring.

Knowing Matt, my little nephew won’t have to wait long.

Adam Mair, The Phillies, and The Matt Cassel Theory—31 Scary Halloween Ideas

October 30, 2008

by Bryan Thiel…

If you don’t know that tomorrow is Halloween, then someone had a bit too long of a nap between Game Five and Game 5.2 of the World Series this week.

With the scariest day of the year tomorrow (and the one night that you shouldn’t leave pumpkins, eggs, or your grandmother out on your front porch tonight), I’ve reprised a little tradition I’ve had the past few years: The 31 Scariest Things of the Sports World.

Here we go…

1. Amare Stoudemire’s Brand New Sports Goggles: I don’t think there’s ever been a positive to someone donning the “sports goggles,” just ask Eric Gagne. Amare’s meanwhile have me worried. If you haven’t seen them, they look like Dolce and Gabbana (I had to Google this to spell it correctly, so don’t get any ideas) designer shades which worries me for two reasons:

1) People that have no discernable connection to sports are going to start wearing them, turning the idea of the eye protection into a novelty.

2) Kids everywhere are going to be begging their parents for them, leading us into the most style-oriented generation of sports stars ever. This worries me.

That and Rip Hamilton may file for copyright infringement.

2. The umpiring was so atrocious in the World Series even I was complaining: That’s right, I finally had it last night and it only took 3 1/2 innings.

I know that there’s no exact rule on check swings—it’s basically if the umpire deems that you went around—but I’ve never seen two “called strike on the swing” calls quite as bad as the two on Eric Hinske and Chase Utley last night. Granted you would’ve thought something else would’ve put me over the edge, but no. It was that.

I’m not sure what to believe in anymore.

3. Brad Lidge had a “perfect season”: The New England Patriots can’t seal the deal but Brad Lidge can? I’m offended. What good is Tom Brady’s chin dimple now? It just got outdone by Brad Lidge doing this…

4. Speaking of Brady, what do we NOT know about his knee?: Seriously, what is his surgery mark at right now? Five? Was Eric Mangini the head surgeon or something? I think I’d rather have Dr. Nick Riviera doing the surgery on Brady after this chain of events.

All of the sudden last season’s Matt Cassel theory doesn’t seem so crazy…

5. How come all of these random milestones happen against the Leafs?: So let me get this straight: Steven Stamkos doesn’t score in his first seven NHL games, and all of the sudden he barely taps a puck and gets an assist against Toronto?

Why don’t we just face off against Eric Godard every night? I’m sure he’d grab himself a hat trick. Or he’d destroy Matt Stajan’s face…one of the two.

6. What happens on the bottom of a baseball pileup?: I started wondering this at the end of the Phillies/Rays game last night: If baseball players just slap each other on the rear-end when they’re getting pulled from a game, what goes on down there?

I guess we can take solace in the fact that Carlos Ruiz was wearing protection.

7. What would happen if Scott Boras and Drew Rosenhaus made an illegitimate love-child?: This was originally “How much money is Manny going to make?” and while the alliteration was charming, the idea of this is frightening and hilarious. Would they create the first-ever $30-million dollar bill?

The better question is who’s face would be on it? I say Johnny Depp for two reasons:

1) He’s getting paid twice that much to star in Pirates of the Caribbean Four

2) I think it would be hilarious to watch all of these stars go broke thanks to their wives wanting to spend all day at the mall with Johnny.

8. The Tennessee Titans are undefeated: I’m sorry…what? I think this only bothers me because Kerry Collins is the starting quarterback.

9. If the Philadelphia Phillies hadn’t won a championship since 1908, how bad would this “drought” have been?: I’m not saying that Philadelphia doesn’t deserve a championship, but even though it had been 28 years since the Phillies last won, this was on par with the idea of the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series—that’s how passionate and heart-broken the fans of sports in this city—not just of a franchise but a city—are.

Imagine the insanity if this had been 50 years in the making.

10. Is Greg Oden made of glass?: On the bright side, you at least got to see him for one game this season Trail Blazers’ fans. You can’t be serious though: Out another 2-4 weeks?!? Maybe we’ll get lucky and he’ll play a full season by the age of 28.

11. How much are Toronto Maple Leafs tickets going to cost now?: Forbes just announced the Leafs as the most valuable franchise in the NHL, about $30-million more than the closest competitor. Tickets already average $90 so how much worse is this going to get?

People are worried about the economic emergency ruining the rest of the world, but what about the people in Toronto. The rate of homeless people will rise, the average education level will drop, and strippers will be at an all-time low for income if the tickets go up any more.

The City of Toronto: Don’t let this happen! Save yourselves now!! (and give me your spare tickets)

12. How often is the “Rocky” theme going to be played now?: Was I imagining it being piped through the loudspeakers at Citizens Bank Park? Is this going to become a trend if Philadelphia teams keep winning?

Sylvester Stallone is mumbling quietly to himself in a corner smirking.

13. Can Filip Kuba break Bobby Orr’s assists record?: The record is 102 in a season, and Kuba has 11 in nine games, meaning he’s on-pace for 100. This is another one of those “we can’t let this happen” kind of things.

Where are the Philadelphia Flyers when we need them?

14. How much longer is Brad Johnson going to start?: Seriously? This is about as bad as Gus Frerotte and Kerry Collins except Johnson has the tools around him, it’s just his age holding him back.

Actually, I’d like to ammend this fear: How many plays into Sunday’s game before Terrell Owen’s ego eats Brad Johnson. I hear Daunte Culpepper is still available…

15. How angry can Adam Mair get?: I’m sorry but this was sweet. I can’t wait for the Sens and the Sabres to play again, just to see what happens.

Random question: Could Adam Mair defeat Chuck Norris in a shouting match?

16. Ryan Hollweg got an assist last night: I took some time and thought about this one and yes, it still scares me.

Despite the fact he got demolished in a fight with Mike Rupp last night, Hollweg’s assist will probably lead Ron Wilson to thinking “Hey…he can produce…let’s play him more.”

On the bright side, the more he plays, the closer he gets to that 90 game suspension for being Ryan Hollweg.

17. Could this be the season we see TWO 0-16 teams in the NFL?: Seriously…Ryan Fitzpatrick and Dan Orlovsky? These are the two Quarterbacks standing in the way of this? I think I’d win more money if I put a bet on one of these teams winning a game.

On the bright side, we’re only a Chicago Bears collapse away from a corny headline on draft day reading: “Lions and Tigers, and Bears Oh My: Detroit, Cincy, and Chicago pick one, one, three in this year’s draft”.

18. Claude Lemieux is trying to make a comeback to the NHL: Seriously? He thinks he can come back? Claude…YOU’RE 45!

Then again, if I was Kris Draper, I may be a little worried.

19. Who (or what) is hiding in Eric Bruntlett’s beard?: Aside from the horrid weather in Game Five, this was the most memorable moment of the entire series: looking out into the field and just seeing Bruntlett and his beard.

My favorite Beardlett moment? TBS was showing shots of the outfielders and Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth were trying to keep their hands warm while Bruntlett was just standing there, warm as can be, thanks to his beard.

And my grandmother thinks facial hair is disgusting…What’s a little egg in the beard if it keeps you warm?

20. New Orleans is 4-4 with Drew Brees playing like he is: Brees is on pace to tie his completions record from last season (440), he’s got over 2,500 yards at the halfway mark (the record is just over 5,000), and while it’s not a record, Brees is on pace for 30 touchdowns. And this team is .500?

I guess this speaks volumes about the value of defense.

21. Who retires first: Brett Favre, Kurt Warner, or Vince Young?: Kurt Warner battled with the decision a few weeks ago, Brett Favre battled with the decision (and kind of made it which should disqualify him but it doesn’t) all through the offseason, and Vince Young wanted to retire from the NFL before he was even drafted.

The prospect of this isn’t really scary, but think about this: If all three of them retire, we’ll be subjected to more of those Just for Men hair color commercials, more Viagara spots, and probably more comeback rumors. That and Fox (or ESPN) would have themselves three new NFL analysts.

22. There are 13 new Japanese Imports ready to sign on with Major League Baseball: I don’t know how good Kenshin Kawakami and Koji Uehara are going to be, but before they even get paid, the teams have to pay to talk to them.

Remember when the Boston Red Sox paid $51 million just to talk to Dice-K? How high are these “negotiating rights” prices going to climb?

23. Marian Gaborik and his mysterious “lower body injury”: Does this not happen every year? Should we not have expected this? Should I have known better when I traded for Gabby?

The answer to all three of these questions is yes, and I’m still hoping that Nathan Horton, Ed Jovanovski, and Cam Ward all mysteriously decide to go and play in the KHL so I feel better about the trade in Bleacher Report’s fantasy hockey league.

24. Alexander Ovechkin’s performance: I can’t be the only one who’s perturbed by this can I? To further compound Ovechkin’s season, he missed Tuesday’s game to be with his ailing grandfather, which would weigh heavily on anyone’s mind.

The other scary thing to come from this aside from Ovechkin’s under-performance? Alexander Semin is the Evgeni Malkin of the Washington Capitals (Lose your star and look at who steps up), and the Capitals are still winning games, 1-point ahead of the Carolina Hurricanes for the division lead.

25. The Toronto Maple Leafs: They’re scaring me because I’m trying really hard not to get my hopes up for this team. It’s a big rebuilding year, the kids are working hard (which is great to see), and they’re winning games (which is super).

I’m just afraid of having my heart broken in April once again if they miss the playoffs by a point or something like that. It’s just hard when they’ve looked so good early on.

26. Where does Mike Singletary go from here?: Jim Mora worked his way into his “PLAYOFFS?!” rant. Herm Edwards had a history of…well…being Herm Edwards. Dennis Green wasn’t sitting at his first tea party either when he told us exactly who the Bears were.

But Mike Singletary just gave it all away in the first press conference—it’s like starting a concert with your best song: you’ve doomed yourself to try and get better. Does he scream about being 50? Does he punch a podium? Does he go to the Bobby Knight school of chair-tossing?

Suddenly the San Fransisco 49ers are a scary team, and it’s all thanks to the steaming head at the top of the pile.

27. What would’ve happened to Bud Selig had he called Game Five in favor of the Phillies?: Remember, this is the guy who had the All-Star game tie, the Steroid Era, one strike, and another close call, so calling a World Series after 5 1/2 innings and awarding it to the team who led after the last full inning isn’t that much of a stretch.

Would the entire country of America revolt and lock him in Bernie Brewer’s giant mug of beer? Does he go on the Dr. Phil show while Captain Moustache asks him “What are you THINKING?” Does he become the next mayor of Philadelphia? Does Gary Bettman go to him and start asking him for advice on how to start contraction rumors but not actually do anything?

Here’s hoping the Phillies’ World Series DVD is released with a series of “alternate endings”.

28. Matt Stairs and Jayson Werth are the two newest former-Jays with World Series Rings (along with Pat Gillick): This has become a disturbing trend. Last year it was Eric Hinske, Royce Clayton, Kevin Cash, and Bobby Kielty. This season it was another two castoffs from the Jays.

That’s not to say that any of them finally getting their World Series Rings are a bad thing, but it’s just frustrating to watch.

The next thing you know, John Gibbons will take over as manager of the Kansas City Royals after Trey Hillman gets fired 16 games into next season and the Royals are your 2009 World Series Champions.

I need a sedative.

29. Some of the New third jerseys in the NHL: The Tampa Bay Lightning are now called the “Bolts” on their new jersey, we have no idea what the Ottawa Senators’ new jersey will look like (although rumor has it that it’ll say “Sens” going diagonally from the lower left to upper right), while Atlanta is…well….Atlanta.

Apparently anyone can design a jersey now.

30. What if Miguel Cabrera and Vladimir Krutov went to an all-you-can-eat buffet?: It seems that every generation gets a sports figure who just likes to eat. When Krutov came over to North America for the 1989-’90 season he battled weight problems, and now the poster boy for the pudgy is Miguel Cabrera.

How many buffets go out of business? Do cows officially go extinct?

Fortunately enough for the Detroit Tigers, they’ve got one of the better young hitters in the game (weight jokes aside), even thought they’ve also got the most expensive Single-A player in history.

31. How long is this party going to go on for in Philadelphia?: Seriously…this could be dangerous.

There were shockwaves going throughout the NHL when fans in Montreal started tipping cars after the Canadiens first-round win last season, but what happens now? I mean people aren’t going to realize that the Philadelphia Flyers have a losing record until December at this rate.

Raptors Start Season Strong With Win In Philly

October 30, 2008

by TJ Zwarych… Well, the season is finally here and the Raptors started it out with a big 95-84 win against the division rival Philadelphia 76ers. Jermaine O’Neal played a great game in his start with the Raptors, and the Raptors’ defense was also great.

“I feel really good,” O’Neal said. “I said from the time I got here that I wanted to be part of the team and bring playoff-type intensity every night. We have to treat every game like a playoff game.”

He sounds happy to be in Toronto, and when you decide you want to come to Toronto instead of Cleveland to play with Lebron and the Cavs, he must really feel strongly about the Raptors organization.

After starting out cold and only scoring 18 in the first quarter, the Raptors soared in the second quarter scoring 33 points taking a 51-45 lead at half time and they did not look back. Their defense did not look like the Raptor defense of old as they held a Sixers team who has many offensive threats to only 84 points.

Chris Bosh had a fantastic start to the season as he went off for 27 points, 11 rebounds and four assists, Jermaine O’Neal and Jason Kaponowere the other two highest scorers for the Raptors as Kapono had 15 and O’Neal had 17 and also eight rebounds.

The leading scorer for Philly was Andre Iguodala who had 15 points and six assists.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Finally Seeing It All Click

October 30, 2008

by Shane House… It has been a long time since I have actually enjoyed watching the Toronto Maple Leafs. I mean, I have always liked watching the Leafs, but didn’t actually like what I saw on the ice.

They were slow, and when they played faster teams, they were dominated.

Things have changed as of late.

Ron Wilson said coming into this season that the team would go through some growing pains, but they would never stop working hard. This team would be hard to play against every game, whether they were winning or losing.

I am starting to see what he was talking about.

Except for one game against Montreal, this team has been in every game. This team loves to forecheck all the time and make plays constantly. They use their speed to make plays, and how often have you been able to say that in the past decade?

Even though they lost Tuesday night against the struggling Tampa Bay Lightning, they were in it all the way, and even though they were down, I found myself still thinking that they could come back. If not for a hot Mike Smith, they would have. They were all over the Lightning and deserved that win.

The past few games have been fun to watch; the Leafs have been an exciting team that you can see starting to click. Now I can’t wait to see the results.

Ronaldo Eyes Return To Brazil

October 30, 2008

by Rafal Ladysz…

You don’t have to follow soccer to know the name.

One of the legends of the game, Ronaldo has decided to quit European football for a move to Brazil. A possible contract may be in store at Flamengo.

The 32-year-old is returning to the game after recovering from a career-threatening knee injury eight months ago with AC Milan.

He told SporTV: ”If everything is okay, I want to stay (at Flamengo). I’ve been in Europe for 16 years. Flamengo are my favourite, but I don’t want to play there as a favour. I want to deserve to play there.”

With Ronaldo, it’s not necessarily a matter of talent. Injuries have slowed his career down, and returning to top form could be too much to ask for the striker.

He said that if he cannot get back into good shape, retiring might be his only remaining option.

“I could hang up the boots…If I think I am not fine, I will retire. It’s useless if you are physically fit but you are not fast. I already lost some weight, but I must lose more.”

The three-time FIFA World Player of the Year has played for PSV Eindhoven, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Real Madrid, and A.C Milan. His career is somewhat parallel to Henrik Larsson’s, who played for several big name clubs before returing to his homeland at Helsingborg, which was his childhood team.

Larsson still plays for the Swedish national team, and Ronaldo too has hopes of returning to the international stage for Brazil.

”I am a wounded soldier who is recovering, but not dead. The national team is part of my life. I have big history with it, with a number of titles and defeats. I am making a big sacrifice and I do dream of the national team.”

With 62 goals, he is currently the third highest all-time goal scorer for Brazil, trailing only Zico and Pele.

The last time we saw him in the yellow jersey he was a bit overweight at the 2006 World Cup. If he can get at least half of his game back and stay healthy, I don’t see why a move to Flamengo is out of the question.

However, it will be a tall order for Ronaldo to fill. Whether or not we see him on the pitch again, the Brazilian has ensured that his name goes down in history as one of the greatest soccer players of all time.

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