Monthly Archives: June, 2007

I’ve been busy…

The Party of the Pants, with the Deadspin
If you had told me that you were flying off to NYC to meet 20ish people that you only knew from snarky comments on a sports website to see a Mets game, I'd say you were nuts. Of course, that didn't stop me from doing exactly what I just described.

Great company, great conversation, and (dare I say this about a Mets victory?) a great game.

If you get the chance, I highly recommend it. It is so choice.

Penguins Draft
NHL scouts are like the worst gossips in high school. How else can you explain Alexei Cherepanov falling to the Rangers at 17, and Angelo Esposito landing from a Brady Quinn-like free-fall with the Penguins?

Scouts soured on Esposito when his production dropped off this season in Quebec. Somehow, the gossips turned "the Remparts lost a lot of talent to the pros last year" into "Espo has an attitude problem".

Fleury, Malkin, Crosby, Staal, Esposito. Have Craig Patrick and Ray Shero had angels on their shoulders for these drafts or what?

Penguins Free Agency
In: Mark Recchi, Gary Roberts. Geritol dealers around town will be happy. OK, that was mean. Both will provide plenty of veteran experience in the locker room. I think every hockey fan in Pittsburgh who didn't already have a man-crush on Roberts will have one now. He turned down the chance to talk to Ottawa, the defending Eastern Conference champions, because he believes the Penguins give him the best chance to win the Stanley Cup.

Out: Michel Ouellet. At least for the moment. He'll become unrestricted on July 1. If the Pens had given him a qualifying offer as a restricted free agent, they'd most likely have ended up in arbitration, where the judge would have given Ouellet way too much money to be mediocre. He could still develop into a good player, but his salary is out-racing his talent right now.

Rush
Went to see Rush Monday night, for the third time in four tours. (I couldn't make the R30 show, for reasons I no longer remember.) My cousin, who had never seen Rush before, and her teenage son were with me.

Damn, I say, damn!

If you're a Rush fan already, you knew that, of course. For those who haven't experienced Rush live, call the box office, right now. I can't think of a single band of this era that has the potential to still produce music of this caliber 30 years from now, live or in the studio.

To say they were supporting the new album, Snakes and Arrows, is an understatement. They played nine of the album's thirteen songs! And while they hit the obvious highlights (Limelight, Spirit Of Radio, Dreamline, Tom Sawyer, YYZ, etc.), they selected the rest of the set list by finding old tracks that had some thematic connection to S&A. Thus, we got to hear obscurities like Entre Nous, Between the Wheels, Circumstances, Digital Man, Witch Hunt, and Mission.

The new material sounded great, and was well received by the audience. The Way The Wind Blows and Workin' Them Angels really clicked. Or maybe I'm just projecting, because they're my favorites from S&A.

I highly recommend this show if it hasn't already been through your town. They'd play all night if local noise ordinances let them, so they'll make sure you get your money's worth.

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FIFA: Toying with us, or just slow to learn?

Once again, the US men's soccer team is rising in the FIFA rankings. I'm beginning to detect a pattern here.

Let's see if I have the timeline straight:

  1. Fresh off the 2002 World Cup, and their deepest advance since Methuselah was but a wee lad, the US goes on a rampage through CONCACAF.
  2. FIFA raises our ranking to #4 in the world.
  3. US draws the Group of Death for the 2006 WC.
  4. Czech Republic 3-0 USA
  5. Italy 1-1 USA
  6. Ghana 2-1 USA
  7. FIFA drops the US team back down to #31, effectively declaring them the second worst team in the 32-team field.
  8. Fresh off their utter humiliation in 2006, the US goes on a rampage through CONCACAF.

Now we're back up to #16, between Greece and Sweden. I'm sure winning the Gold Cup will boost that ranking even more. Barring a big letdown between now and the next WC qualifiers, I expect to see the US team back in the top 10 by time the 2010 group draw comes around.

Hey, winning your region earns you a place in the field, but that doesn't mean the US deserves to be over-promoted. Penn's men's basketball team won the Ivy League this year, but the NCAA wasn't foolish enough to give them a top-3 seed in the Tournament.

CONCACAF is like the National League West: A bunch of not-bad to decently good teams who struggle outside of their own division.

To quote the sanitized-for-television Winston Wolfe: Let's not start sucking each other's popsicles quite yet.

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I go to the loser bracket for two minute and feel shame

Well, voting is complete in the first round of the Ladies… Hot Blogger Bracket.

Ouch.

Well, being a hockey guy, I should throw my support behind one of my fellow puckheads…

Damn. Scorched earth rink. Not one hockey post made it to the second round.

I know some Canadians were bitter that Anaheim won the Cup, but this is ridiculous. Do they even get the internets in Manitoba? And where was McErlain? Mirtle? Golbez? Come on, when the Ladies… got a bracket going, we can't have our top line disappear like Spezza and Heatley!

Well, there is one post comparing commissioners Gary Bettman, David Stern, Roger Goodell and Bud Selig, but isn't kicking Bettman a little too easy? The sky is blue, water is wet, Bettman sucks. Even if you don't know what a blog is, you can do that without screwing it up. (Nothing personal, Shorty, but by hockey blog standards, that's weak sauce.)

So I'm throwing what little support I have over to Tecmo Bowl Bo Jackson at Pittsburgh Sports and Mini Ponies. Yinzers and ponies are a can't-miss combination!

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Another year, another ruined arm

The Pirates have selected yet another pitcher for their first round pick in the entry draft. This year's victim prospect is Daniel Moskos, a left-handed reliever from Clemson who has a 96 MPH fastball.

Over-under on his first Tommy John surgery: Two weeks from Saturday.

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Anaheim wins the Stanley Cup! (Write your own duck puns.)

That crashing sound you heard off in the distance was Ottawa's bandwagon, veering off the road and into the ditch.

For most of Game 5, the Senators looked like the Kanadian Keystone Kops. With the exception of two goals, one short-handed, by Daniel Alfredsson, the Sens' offense was just plain inept. Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley were mere wisps of steam in white-and-red jerseys. Ray Emery reached the limits of his skills. The defense in front of him spent too much time running around. Worst of all, Anaheim's Cup-winning goal was an echo of Edmonton's Steve Smith: Chris Phillips, skating out from behind the net, got too close to Emery at the right post, losing the puck in the goalie's skates as he returned to the crease. Emery didn't know where the puck was until it was across the line. Travis Moen, as the last Duck to touch the puck, will go down in history as "scoring" that goal.

For the Ducks, this game perfectly captured the style of play that got them to the finals. They beat the Senators to every loose puck, cycled well, and forced Ottawa into dumb penalties. They were ragged, occasionally sloppy, but took advantage of every opportunity. Jean-Sebastien Giguere had it fairly easy, facing only 13 shots, but with a lot of help from his D. Francois Beauchemin and Todd Marchant each stopped shots destined for empty nets behind Giguere.

All that was left was the jubilant dogpile in Giguere's crease, the roar of the standing-room-only crowd, the great tradition of the handshake line, and the best trophy presentation in professional sports. No owners, no presidents, no general managers. Just Gary Bettman having the Stanley Cup practically ripped out of his hands by Scott Niedermayer, who raised it in triumph for the fourth time in his career, then handed it to his brother Rob, who has just won his first. Then to Chris Pronger, who was one game away with the Oilers last year. Then to Teemu Selanne, in what may be the twilight of a stellar NHL career.

Pierre McGuire had two of the most stirring moments of the post-game celebration. First, he needed to give Selanne a minute to compose himself. McGuire caught up to Selanne just as he met his wife on the ice, and the Finn was overcome with emotion. When asked if this, his 14th NHL season, would be his last, Selanne simply answered, "I don't know." Later, when McGuire spoke to Chris Pronger, he asked why Pronger had missed so much ice time in the first period. Pronger revealed that he separated his shoulder on an early hit against the boards, and it was popping in and out of the socket. He played his regular shift through the second and third periods, lifted that Cup, and just to make crystal clear the heart it takes to win in the NHL, lifted his son into his arms as he told that story to Pierre.

And so another season of NHL hockey pours out its last drops of heart, sweat, and soul onto the Honda Center ice. A victory parade in Anaheim and a black tie affair to hand out awards in Toronto make a sweet coda. Then the next season gets rolling with the entry draft in Columbus on June 22-23.

October can't come soon enough.

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The Luck of the Ladies… Draw

Is this what Bruce Arena was thinking when he saw "Italy, Czech Republic, Ghana, United States"?

I went and submitted an entry in the Ladies… Hot Blogger Bracket. I now find myself in the AFC North regional, looking up at Sports Gone South, and wondering what I've gotten myself into. I will never pick on a mid-major again. (I still reserve the right to ridicule the Play-In Game, if only for it's undying loyalty to Dayton, OH.)

It could be worse. The other #1 seeds are Deadspin, Dan Shanoff, and EDSBS.

But it would be foolish to look ahead. Right now, I have to take this one game (and overworked cliche) at a time. My first round match: Brien at East Coast Bias.

UFC live-blogging? Seriously? I can't lose to mixed martial arts! No way. Not happening.

Vote early, vote often. VOTE VINNY!

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No offense to those of you who work in marketing…

Here's what happens when a bunch of terminally stodgy old men try to derive "cool" from focus groups:

And here's how they modify that logo for the usually under-promoted disabled games:

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