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Friday, August 31, 2007

Canada Takes 3-0 Lead In Super Series


Team Canada was facing the Russians today in the 3rd game of the Canada/Russia Super Series. Canada was trying to keep the momentum going from last game, a game that they won 3-0.

The Russians were starting the game with some bad news, as one of their best players, Alexei Cherepanov was out for the rest of the Super Series. Cherepanov suffered a concussion when he collided with Canadian forward Brandon Sutter in the first period of Game 2. He did not skate this morning and is still in hospital.

So Russia came into the game a little short-handed, and it sure showed. Sam Gagner started Canada off with a quick goal, and then, on the powerplay, Kyle Turris blasted a shot above Russian goaltender Semen Varlamov. Russia answered back though when Pavel Doronin scored a short-handed goal. But near the end of the period, Colton Gillies scored on a breakaway to give Canada the 2-goal lead.

After a 2nd period where Russia scored 1, Canada turned it on in the 3rd. Claude Giroux scored a beautiful goal in the slot to start off the Canadian team, and then Stephan Legein wired a slapshot over the Russian goalie to give Canada a 3-goal lead. From then on, Canada coasted, scoring another one just to be sure. The final score was 6-2 for Canada.

The Canadian team had four power-play goals, including two to open the scoring. Goaltender Leland Irving of the Everett Silvertips got the victory. The next game will be tomorrow in Omsk, and then the scene shifts to Canada.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Oh Canada

NHL training camps are opening up in a few days, and all 30 teams are starting off fresh. New players, new staff, a new season. That's the beauty of training camp. There are 30 teams that think they have a shot at the Stanley Cup. But as always, only 2 lucky teams can get into the Final. Last year, one of those lucky teams were the Ottawa Senators, who seemed to have shaken off their playoff jitters from years past, only to lose in the Finals. Now they and 5 other Canadian teams hope to bring the Cup to Canada for the 1st time in 14 grueling years. But which of these Canadian teams actually have a realistic shot at bringing back glory to Canada. Well here's what I think.

Calgary Flames - The Flames made the playoffs last year by 1 point, just beating out Colorado. This year though, it seems that the Flames will be going for a much higher spot than 8th. This off-season, the Flames big signings were Owen Nolan and Cory Sarich. Nolan had 16 goals and 24 assists with Phoenix last year, while Sarich had 15 points with Tampa last year, all assists. But Sarich's job isn't to score, it's to fill Roman Hamrlik's spot. Hamrlik spent 2 years with Calgary before leaving for Montreal this off-season. The Flames also acquired Adrian Aucoin from the Blackhawks via trade. Not much has changed for an already solid offence. Veteran winger Owen Nolan should bring some swagger and all-around nastiness up front. Jarome Iginla will have his usual strong supporting cast , as Matthew Lombardi, Alex Tanguay, Kristian Huselius, and Daymond Langkow all had career seasons.

This team looks like a 100 point type of team and could go all the way this year. They will probably get the 4th or 5th seed, seeing that the Avalanche and the Canucks are in their division. This is a team that is made for playoff hockey. They have gritty and skilled players, so watch out for the Flames, they could win the Cup.

Edmonton Oilers
- Edmonton's season went from bad to worse last year when Ryan Smyth was traded at the trade deadline to the Islanders. The Oilers finished the season with a measly 71 points. But Edmonton made some changes in the off-season, getting powerplay specialist Sheldon Souray from the Canadiens, Dustin Penner from the Ducks and Mathieu Garon from the Kings. But the Oilers did lose some good players as well, as Petr Sykora, Jason Smith and Joffery Lupal are all on different teams now. If there's one thing GM Kevin Lowe could be looking at sooner than later, it's a top-six forward who can play on the second line. They are likely prepared to part with one of their nine NHL-ready defencemen and a prospect or two to try and get it.

But unless the Oilers make that kind of trade, I don't see them making the playoffs. They lack talent and they don't have a "wow" player, that all teams need to lead them. They will finish 10th-13th in the Conference and last in their division. They are not threat to win the Stanley Cup.

Montreal Canadiens - The Habs missed the playoffs barely last year after losing to their arch rival Toronto Maple Leafs in the final game of the season.

But during the off-season, Montreal looked to get some good players to help them this year. They made great offers to Paul Karyia, Ryan Smyth and even Quebec native Daniel Briere, but none of them signed. But the Habs did get some guys. They signed Roman Hamrlik for the defencive end, and Bryan Smolinski for faceoffs. The Canadiens did lose some key guys during the off-season though. Sheldon Souray went to Edmonton, Alexander Perezhogin left for Swedan and Radek Bonk left for the Preds. At this point, it looks like the additions were made to off set the loss of other players. But Smolinski is a solid faceoff man - something the Canadiens desperately needed.

Faceoffs though don't get you you into the playoffs. I expect the Canadiens to finish 9th-11th in the Eastern Conference. Montreal just lost too many goals with Souray, Perezhogin and Bonk (39 goals between just Bonk and Souray). They are not a threat to win the cup.

Ottawa Senators - The Senators got all the way to the Stanley Cup Final last year, but ended up losing to the Ducks. Ottawa didn't really make any big moves during the off-season, as their only notable loss was Mike Comrie, and their best signing was Niko Dimitrakos. The Senators may not score as many goals this season, but the drop-off will be insignificant. The team is also expected to play a more physical type of game. With players like Chris Phillips and Antoine Vermette, many people expect more hits.

Ottawa has almost the same exact lineup from last year, and they made it to the Final with that lineup, so I have to put them as the front-runners to win the Eastern Conference and the Northeast Division. They are a real threat to win the cup.

Toronto Maple Leafs - The Leafs missed the playoffs by 1 point last season after the Islanders beat the Devils in their final game. But the Leafs made some moves this off-season to make sure that wouldn't happen again. Toronto signed Jason Blake to a long-term contract, and traded for Vesa Toskala and Mark Bell on draft day. The Leafs did lose some people as well as Micheal Peca and Yanic Perreault found new homes.

Those losses aren't that great though, and the Leafs signings will do lots of good. The addition of Toskala will put pressure on Andrew Raycroft to perform better in training camp, or his starting job will be taken away. Blake will be a great force up front, and Bell will help Kyle Wellwood on the 2nd line. I expect the Leafs to finish 5th-8th in the conference and 2nd in their division. Even with those high expectations, I see them as only a minor threat to win the Cup.

Vancouver Canucks - Vancouver is coming off a great year that ended at the hands of the Ducks. The Canucks had 105 points last year and had the 3rd seed in the Conference. During the off-season, Vancouver didn't really sign anyone that can make a difference for them, and they didn't lose anyone good either. They have basically the same team as last year, which is pretty good.

I think that Vancouver will have another great year behind Roberto Luongo and get the 3rd-5th seed in the Western Conference. They are a pretty good contender to win the Stanley Cup.


So out of all these teams, I think that the Ottawa Senators have the best chance to win the Stanley Cup. They have the talent, the grit and the goaltending. But over the past few years, there has always been a surprise Canadian team in the Final. So we'll have to what and see what happens.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Canada Takes 2-0 Lead in Super Series


After Team Russia dominated Canada in the 1st 10 minutes of game 1 of the Canad/Russia Super Series on Monday, the Canucks turned it up a notch. They came back and won the game 4-2. Today, they were looking to keep the momentum from that game going, as they faced Russia in game 2 of the Super Series.

The Canadians got the lead in the 1st from Kyle Turris after a great give-and-go with David Perron. Canad brought the lead into the 2nd. In the 2nd frame, tempers were flaring. A simple push started a huge fight in which almost all players on the ice contributed in. But Canada got their revenge with their play.

With a minute left in the 2nd, Stephan Legein blasted the puck past the Russian goalkeeper to give Canada a 2-0 lead. In the 3rd period, fog started rolling into the new arena in Ufa, Russia. But the teams kept on playing. The players participated in a few fights during the period, and Canada sealed the win when David Perron scored to give Canada a 3-0 lead with less than 5 minutes remaining. The final score was 3-0 for Team Canada to give them a 2-0 in the best of 8 series.

The Canadians did everything right in their game today, and were much more disciplined than last game. The Canadians had excellent goaltending for the second game in a row. Lewiston's Jonathan Bernier earned the shutout.
Related Info

Games 3 and 4 of the series are Friday and Saturday in Omsk. The Canadian team has a two-hour flight to Omsk on Thursday.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Canada Wins Game 1 of Super Series

35 years ago, something special happened in hockey. It was the Summit Series between Team Canada and Team Russia, or guess back then, The Red Army. Canadians watched as their dream team, which included Phil Esposito and Bobby Orr lost 2 games and tied 1 in the 1st 4 games at home! It was apparent to both Canadians and Soviets that the Canucks had a fight a head of them.

When Team Canada arrived in their opposing teams country, they again lost. But with a new found respect for the Soviets, Canada turned it on for the final 3 games and won all of them. It was Canada's greatest accomplishment in their history with sports.

Today, Canada and Russia honoured the great series by playing another one. But this time, we got to see Canada's juniors represent in what is called, "The Canada - Russia Super Series.

The 8 game series started off in Ufa, Russia today with both teams ready to roll. The Russians though were the ones who started off with an edge as they scored 2 quick goals to take the lead. But Canada responded with goals 45 seconds apart, one of them off a penalty shot from Kyle Turris to tie it up. In the 2nd period, Canada grabbed the lead when Sam Gagner scored early in the period, and extended that lead later in that period.

From that point on, London Knights goaltender Steve Mason stole the show. He made many spectacular saves the keep the 2-goal Canadian lead and rarely gave up a rebound. He stopped 40 of 42 shots to lead the Canadians to a 4-2 win in the 1st game of the Super Series.

The key to the game was Canada's penalty kill. They killed off 14 penalties plus 2 2-man advantages. If Canada had let even one of those powerplays score, than nobody knows what could of happened with a 1-goal lead.

The second of the eight-game series is Wednesday (Sportsnet, 9 a.m. ET) in Ufa and then two games will be played in Omsk on Friday and Saturday.

Georgia Wins Second Straight LLWS


My 1st post since last week is definitely an exciting one. Japan and Georgia were playing in the final of the Little League World Series.

The game was very exciting the entire way through. The Japanese got got 2 quick runs during the 1st 2 innings, but Georgia came back getting a 2-run double courtesy of Keaton Allen. From then on, the pitchers took over. Not a run was scored for the rest of regulation, so the game had to go into extra innings.

The 1st 2 1/2 innings of extras were also scoreless, until Georgia's Dalton Carriker came up to the plate in the bottom of the 8th. . The slugger, hitting .769 entering Sunday's game, was 0-for-2 with a walk when he came up in the eighth.

He said a little prayer before settling himself in the batter's box. "God, please give me the strength to get a hit and help my team out," Carriker said in recounting his prayer. He did more than just get a little single or double though. He blasted a pitch to right field that easily cleared the 225 foot fences. As he was rounding the bases, Carriker said he couldn't feel his legs. "I felt like I was flying, like Peter Pan," Carriker said. "I didn't know what I was doing."

It was a bitter end for the Japanese team though, who had ironacly gotten to the big game off a walk-off home run yesterday againstCuracao. Japan manager Youichi Kubo, who managed Japan to the 2001 Little League crown, tried to console his pitcher afterward.

"I told Junsho that when you are a reliever these things can happen," Kubo said through a translator. "I told him that he has a bright future and not to let this homer affect that."

Well no matter how any of this will affect these little leaguers careers, both teams can hold their heads high. Playing in the LLWS Championship Game is a huge accomplishment.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Alert!

For the next week I'm going to be away. I will be back on the weekend and get back to covering sports. See ya.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Canada Wins It's LLWS Opener


The Little League World Series started out with a bang yesterday with one of the most dramatic games in recent memory. By today, many people were still buzzing about the play that Michael Rando made, but for a lot of the LLWS teams, they had games to play. One of those teams were Canada, who were playing their 1st game of the tournament against Saudi Arabia.

The Canucks sent 6 foot 2, 200 pound Shaylen Buis to the mound, and started off smoking. His 1st 6 outs were all off strikeouts and took a 5-0 lead into the 5th. But the Saudis equaled Canada's 5 to tie it up and chase Buis out of the game. But Canada's bats were not fazed by the shaky inning.

Parker Stefaniuk and Jackson Temple both homered in the inning, which highlighted the 8 runs the Canucks scored. Canada then shut down Saudi Arabia for their 1st win of the tournament. Temple said his players weren't discouraged despite blowing a five-run lead.

''These guys have been in this position before,'' he said. ''They knew what had to be done. There was no panic. We weren't heading for the lifeboats.''

Canada's next game is Monday afternoon against Japan (1-0), the favourites in Pool D. The Japanese pounded the Caribbean 10-3 in their tournament opener Friday, and if they are not careful against them, they may be heading for the lifeboats after all.

The Great Home Run Race

I saw this picture on ESPN Page 2 and I was amazed. I knew that J.D Drew had been having a bad year, but not that bad. I think that Drew is just another disappointment who was pressured by to much money.

If you take a look, many players are having bad years after signing lucrative contracts. Vernon Wells and Frank Thomas are both having some of the least productive seasons of their careers. Barry Zito was signed to the biggest contract for a pitcher ever in the off-season, and, well lets just say that a guy named Chuck James in his 2nd year is having a better year. I think that GM's around the MLB should just take a little closer look at free agent signings, or they might come back to bite you.

Walpole Wins Little League World Series Opener


When your 12 years old, most kids are getting ready for high school, hanging out with their friends and just being kids. Things are much different for the kids who play sports at a high level.

If you play baseball or hockey at Triple A level, then a lot of pressure is thrust upon you. It becomes more than just a game. Parents and coaches are focused more on winning than their kids, and many kids do this and end up hating the sport. Many of the kids who don't end up hating the sports won't make it in the professional ranks. But there are a select few who fight through the tough times and get a future in their sport. It was obvious to the crowd at the Little League World Series Opener yesterday that Michael Rando is one of those kids.

The Walpole Americans were facing the Great Lakes regional representative West Side of Hamilton, Ohio yesterday. The Americans were down 1-0, heading into the top of the sixth. Through five innings, Great Lakes starter Kyle Cotcamp had allowed just two hits and struck out nine.

But Walpole’s Matt Bender hit a one-out single to right, with P.J. Hayes pinch-running for him. A wild pitch moved Hayes to second, then Great Lakes decided to intentionally walk Adams. Another wild pitch then put both runners in scoring position for Johnny White. White fell behind in the count before working it full. He then stroked one over the left fielder’s head for a double that scored Hayes and Adams. Mike LaVita greeted new pitcher Tyler Richards with a single to move Adams up a base before Sam Falkson laid down a bunt for a base hit that scored White for a key insurance run and a 3-1 lead.

Then, in the bottom of the 6th, John Cornett came up with 1 man on and 2 out. He hit a 226 foot blast to centre fielder Micheal Rando. Rando tracked it and came to the wall. He jumped and stuck his glove out, hoping he would catch it. He did. Before he even touched the ground, he had the ball in his hand, showing it to the amazed crowd. His teammates mobbed him at centre. "I thought I had a chance to rob it," said Rando, still clutching the ball in his hand during postgame interviews. "I knew it was going out, but I thought I had a chance to rob it - so I went back to the fence and I caught it."

"I couldn’t believe it," said Rando.

The victory gives Walpole American (20-1), the New England representative, a 1-0 record in Pool A play - while also handingWest Side its first loss of the summer. Walpole has today off, returning to action tomorrow.

For more on the Little League World Series, see ESPN Little League World Series 2007

Friday, August 17, 2007

Zambrano Gets 5-Year Extension


Carlos Zambrano is having the best season of his young career. Today he got rewarded for it.

The 26-year old has signed a 5-year, $90 million dollar contract extension with the Chicago Cubs. The new deal runs through the 2012 campaign and includes a vesting option for a sixth season.

Zambrano is is 14-9 with a 3.86 earned run average in 26 starts this season in the MLB. He is one of the Cy Young candidates in the National League and is leading the Cubs to a possible playoff berth.

Zambrano signed this contract to stay with the Cubs, as he was a free agent at the end of the season. "Not everything is about money, you know," Zambrano said. "I know if I got to free agency there were a lot of things that would come to me and offer me. I feel comfortable here. I feel good here and my family feels good here."

"We were within earshot of this thing, completing a deal near Opening Day. But due to the sale of the Tribune (the Cubs owners, Tribune Co. was sold this season), it changed everything," Zambrano's agent Barry Praver said.

Zambrano will now spend 5 years on a playoff contending Cubs team.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Rizzuto Dies at Age 89


Phil Rizzuto, one of the best shortstops in MLB history has passed away.

Rizzuto had pneumonia and died in his sleep at a nursing home in West Orange, N.J., daughter Patricia Rizzuto said Tuesday. He had been in declining health for several years.

Rizzuto played 11 years for the New York Yankees getting an MVP award in 1950 and 5 all-star appearances. Popular as a player and beloved as a broadcaster, the New York Yankees shortstop was during their dynasty years of the 1940s and 1950s. "I guess heaven must have needed a shortstop," Yankees owner George Steinbrenner said in a statement. "He epitomized the Yankee spirit - gritty and hard charging - and he wore the pinstripes proudly."

After his playing career, Rizzuto immediately became a broadcaster. He was known for his catch phrase, "holy cow". Rizzuto also became known for saying "Unbelievable!" or "Did you see that?" to describe a great play, and would call somebody a "huckleberry" if he did something Rizzuto didn't like. Phil always did know who to keep it fun in the press boxes. Rizzuto would typically refer to his broadcast partners by their last names, calling them "White", "Murcer" and "Seaver" instead of "Bill", "Bobby" or "Tom."

Rizzuto broadcasted some great moments in baseball, which include Roger Maris' 61th home run. After a long wait, Rizzuto was voted into the hall of fame in 1994.

Just to show how good Rizzuto was, Ted Williams claimed that his Red Sox would have won most of the Yankees' 1940s and 1950s pennants if they had had Rizzuto at shortstop. Rizzuto was a great player on the field, and a character at the least off it.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Coyotes Sign Auld


Alex Alud has been signed by the Phoenix Coyotes.

The 26-year old was signed to a 1-year contract today by Phoenix. He had a record of 7-13-5 last season with the Florida Panthers. Auld should prove a good backup for David Aebischer.

Auld has a career record of 46-44-13 in five NHL season with Florida and Vancouver. He also has a 2.89 goals-against average and .902 save percentage.

Auld is now part of a good goaltending crew in Phoenix with Aebischer and Mikael Tellqvist.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Is It Over?


Tiger Woods is one of the most clutch athletes ever. If he is playing his best golf, he is head and shoulders above everyone else on the PGA tour. Right now, he is playing his best golf and has a 3 shot lead heading into the final round of the PGA championship. Right now, the question is, "is it already over?"

Whenever Tiger has gone into the final round of a tournament with the lead, he has never given it up. With a 3 shot lead on Stephan Ames, is there anyone that can catch him. Well if someone is gojng to catch him,it's going to be Ames. If you have ever seen him play or seen him in an interview, you know that he doesn't put much pressure on himself. He just goes out there and does his thing. I saw him on a hole this tournament where he missed a long par putt but an inch, and just laughed. But gaining 3 shots on Tiger during the final round is very difficult.

Neither of the golfers really made any move yesterday, as both of them shot a 1-under 69. "I accomplished my goal today," said Woods, who wore a blue towel over his shoulders in the chilly, air-conditioned media pavilion. "My goal was to shoot under par and increase my lead."

Many reporters have been questioning Ames om his comments during the 2006 WGC-Accenture Match Play. Ames, (who keeps saying he's miss-quoted) said anything could happen with the way Woods was spraying the ball, but the comments blew up in his face when Woods won 9&8. The comments were similar to Rory Sabbatini's when he said Tiger was playing as poorly as ever before going into the final round of a tournament with Tiger. Woods promptly won the tournament.

Tiger also has extra motivation for this major, as it is the last one before the end of the PGA tour regular season. So with all of these factors, I believe that the PGA championship is over, unless Tiger has some uncharacteristic blow up. And if something like that does happen, Stephan Ames will probably be the one to benefit from it.

Update! - Tiger Woods had won the PGA Championship with a 2-shot win over Woody Austin. It is Tigers' 13th major and the 1st this season.

Blackhawks Get Adams From Phoenix


The NHL free-agent frenzy is now virtually done, and many teams got who they wanted. But some teams didn't really sign anyone good, so they have to trade. The Chicago Blackhawks were in that position yesterday.

The Blackhawks traded for forward Kevyn Adams in exchange for Radim Vrbata. The 32-year old Adams split his season last year with Carolina and Phoenix, piling up 3 gaols and 9 assists, while Vrbata at 26 years scored 14 goals and 27 assists last year.

''In Kevyn Adams we're getting a veteran player who is extremely versatile, is a good skater and is a very good face-off man,'' said Blackhawks general manager Dale Tallon. ''Kevyn has won a Stanley Cup and is a proven leader.''

Even with all of those qualities, it seems Vrbata is a better player than Adams. At 32, Adams isn't very good offensively and Vrbata is young and a great forward. In his NHL career, Vrbata has appeared in 346 games scoring 75 goals while adding 95 assists fro 170 points with 104 penalty minutes. He has also appeared in nine career playoff games and has not scored.

This may be the start of a whole bunch of little trades in the NHL.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Baseball MVP and Cy Young Previews


The MLB's 2007 regular season is coming to an end soon. Just 2 more months left for teams to get into the post-season and play in the World Series. It also means that there are only 2 months left for players to beef up their stats, and show off their numbers to the sports writers who vote for the MVP and Cy Young Awards. There are many players that might win the awards, but I'm going to look at all those players and see whose most deserving of the MVP and Cy Young Awards.

American League MVP

Candidates

Alex Rodriguez - 36 Home Runs, 109 RBI, .298 Batting Average
Justin Morneau - 28 Home Runs, 89 RBI, .287 Batting Average
Magglio Ordonez - 18 Home Runs, 94 RBI, .348 Batting Average

Out of these 3 players, I believe without out a doubt, (and it pains me to say this as I am a Blue Jays fan), Alex Rodriguez is the American League MVP. After a huge April, A-Rod has been going strong ever since then. No one in the entire league can match his power numbers, and he is leading a Yankee team that could very well lock up the Wild Card be early September by the way they're playing. Morneau is having another great year, but just doesn't have the numbers of last season. Although many say that Ordonez is the MVP, putting up power numbers and a stellar batting average, I believe A-Rod is the AL MVP.

American League Cy Young Award Winner

Candidates

Josh Beckett - 14 Wins, 5 Losses, 3.31 ERA, 132 Strikeouts
C.C Sabathia - 14 wins, 6 Losses, 3,52 ERA, 154 Strikeouts
Dan Haren - 13 Wins, 3 Losses, 2.46 ERA, 127 Strikeouts

This is a tough one. It took me a while just to figure out the candidates, as there are 11 pitchers with 12 or more wins in the AL right now! All these pitches are deserving of the award. But I have to choose 1 and I'm going with Dan Haren. The all-star game starter has been dominating so far during the season and his numbers show it. I think it's the 2.46 ERA that hooked me. And all of this on a sub .500 team in Oakland, unlike the other 2 who are on World Series contenders (nothing against Beckett and Sabathia). If Haren keeps it up, I believe he will be the American League Cy Young Award winner.

National League MVP

Candidates

Ryan Howard - 32 Home Runs, 93 RBI, .271 Batting Average
Prince Fielder - 34 Home Runs, 86 RBI, .287 Batting Average
Jose Reyes - 54 Stolen Bases, .308 Batting Average, 83 Runs Scored

My favourite player out of these 3 is Prince Fielder. I like the way he plays and when he got that inside the park home run, I was cheering for him all the way. And the way the Brewers have been playing, many think he should be the MVP. But I'm going to go against my natural instinct and go for the player who really deserves it - Ryan Howard. Although he has 2 less home runs than Fielder, Howard has more RBI and a stat that many will overlook, has 71 less at-bats than Fielder. Reyes has had a good year, but speed demons rarely get the MVP. So with that being said, I believe Ryan Howard will be the National League MVP at the end of the season.

National League Cy Young Award Winner

Candidates

Carlos Zambrano - 14 Wins, 8 Losses, 3.69 ERA, 139 Strikeouts
Brad Penny - 13 Wins, 3 Losses, 2.66 ERA, 104 Strikeouts
Francisco Cordero - 34 Saves, 3.28 ERA, 61 Strikeouts, 46.2 Innings

He's been my personal favourite to win the Cy Young Award since the beginning of the season. Brad Penny has, like Haren been dominant. Penny also like Haren has an amazing ERA for the MLB level. Zambrano has fought through some tough times this year. Many can remember his fight with former teammate Michael Barrett. The way he's gotten past all of that is great, but he has to many losses for me. Cordero has also been great, as many claim he is the best closer in baseball at this moment. But only once has the Cy Young gone to a closer, and that was when Eric Gagne didn't blow a save the entire year. So I think that Brad Penny will be the National League Cy Young Award winner.

There you have it. 4 awards and 4 predictions. Be sure to look back on this post when award time comes around.

It's Miller Time


Reggie Miller, one of the greatest playoff performers in NBA history is pondering a comeback. The career Indiana Pacer at 41 years of age may join the Boston Celtics.

The Celtics contacted Miller and asked him to think about joining their revamped team in a reserve role, playing about 15 minutes per game. "[I have] contacted Reggie and he is contemplating a comeback with us," Ainge told The Associated Press through a team spokesman.

If he does join the Celtics, than he will join Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen as the stars of the team, and all of whom have not won an NBA Championship. "I'm always flattered when my name is mentioned as someone who can still help an NBA team win a championship," Miller said Wednesday in a statement relayed to The Associated Press by U.S. cable network TNT. "I've had limited discussions with Celtics management about their roster and a potential role for me. At this time, I'm enjoying my role as an analyst with TNT."

Over the course of his career, Miller scored 25,279 points, with an average of 18.2 points per game during his career. He shot .471 from the field, .395 from 3-point range and .888 from the free throw line. Miller made the All-NBA First Team three times throughout his career and received his only MVP votes in 1998 and 2000.

If Miller joins the Celtics, make sure to mark November 13th on your calender. Boston Celtics vs Indiana Pacers in Indiana.

Ankiel Returns To Cardinals


It seemed that Rick Ankiel was going to be a good pitcher for some time. That's what everyone was thinking in the summer of 2000. But during the playoffs, Ankiel folded giving up an unprecedented 5 wild pitches in 1 inning. He would not pitch much more after that. He then struggled for a few years in the minors, and it seemed that he had lost his chance. But in 2005, Ankiel made the sudden announcement that he would be switching to outfield.

After a shaky 1st year, he turned it up this year. He was a starting outfielder for the Triple-A All Star Game, and by August 8th had 32 homers and 89 RBI! The Cardinals then decided to bring up Ankiel for a 2nd try at the majors, and this time, Ankiel would not disappoint.

It was the 7th inning, with the game still tight at 2-0 for St. Louis. Ankiel came up to bat with 2 men on against San Diego pitcher Doug Brocail. He blasted a pitch to right-field for a 3-run homer! When he got to the dugout, he came out for a curtain call, and Ankiel got the biggest cheer of his life. The Cards would go on to win the game 5-0.

Ankiel seems to have the making of a great hitter, as even the pitcher was in awe of how Ankiel hit that ball out. "I pitched the report," Brocail said. "I have no idea how he hit that ball. It's good to see the kid back, though. You know, he wasn't too bad of a pitcher."

"I guess Babe Ruth was the last," said manager of San Diego Bud Black, referring to pitchers converting into power-hitting outfielders. "It's quite a show of athleticism and quite a show of being a baseball player.

Ankiel though seemed the most excited out of all the people. "Unbelievable," Ankiel said. "You almost can't put that into words."

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Jays Beat Up On Yankees


The Toronto Blue Jays were embarrassed 2 nights ago. They got their revenge on A-Rod for May 30th, but it was bittersweet as New York won 9-2. But yesterday, they were ready to go.

What seemed like a big pitching matchup was everything but. 12-5 Roy Halladay was facing 13-5 Chien-Ming Wang. Toronto got to New York early as the Blue Jays scored 3 runs in the bottom of the 1st. But Robinson Cano quickly cut that lead down to 1 in the top of the 2nd when he hit a 2-run blast to right field. The Toronto really got the bats going. Without any home runs, Toronto scored 5 runs in the bottom of the 3rd with a couple of doubles. From then on the Jays just kept pounding New York. They scored 6 more runs by the end of the game and won easily 15-4.

This game was not just good for Toronto because they won big against New York, but because of the players that produced. Frank Thomas continued his hot streak with 3 RBI, and Vernon Wells had 4 RBI. Matt Stairs had 2 doubles and 3 runs scored. It was a great all-around effort. "Guys really wanted to keep on them," Jays ace Roy Halladay said. "That's probably residue from yesterday. Nobody wanted to let down. They wanted to keep going, keep hitting, keep scoring, and I think that was the biggest difference from yesterday."

With A-Rod sitting out, the Jays could just focus on baseball. "I've been around hockey too long and too many hockey fights to know that the next day it's over with," Stairs said. "It's the same in baseball. ... It's done, hopefully. We can get on with playing baseball. We made our statement and they made their statement."

The Jays will now start a 4-game set against the Kansas City Royals on Friday.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Hockey News


Yesterday was Barry Bonds' day. He hit his 756th career home run and passed Hank Aaron to become the all-time home runs leader. But lost in all of the excitement was the big day in the NHL.

The 1st thing that happened was about the Edmonton Oilers. The Edmonton Investors Group, the group that owns the Oilers announced that the group rejected the latest bid from local pharmacy tycoon Daryl Katz to purchase the team for $185 million.

This is the 3rd time that Katz's bid has been rejected by the Oilers. And Katz will probably not get another chance to buy the Oilers because the Investors group has voted to take the 'For Sale' sign off the franchise. Katz will still be a part of the Oilers, as he owns the Rexall Pharmacy chain, and Edmonton's arena is named after Rexall.

''Clearly I'm disappointed that the ownership group has elected not to proceed with a sale but I accept their decision and wish them well,'' said Katz in a statement. ''As an Oilers' fan and the franchise's largest corporate sponsor, I will continue to be a major supporter of the team.''

Chairman of the Investors group Cal Nichols said that after some research, the money was not all it seemed. "This morning, our shareholders voted resoundingly to reject this offer," Nichols said at the news conference in Edmonton. "The reported sale price was $185 million, but in fact, it is actually closer to $160 million after capital adjustments and adjustments for tax treatment."

''I hope that this, at least for the near term, puts an end to the offer thing because this has been a bit of a circus for four months and no one in our group was going to continue doing what we were doing,'' Nichols told reporters in a news conference at the city's tony Petroleum Club."

The real problem in Edmonton is getting a new arena. This latest rejection of Katz's bid hasn't shed any light on how the Oilers are going to get the money for the new arena and when it will be built.

One bid to buy a team did go through though, as former Panthers coach Doug MacLean bought the Tampa Bay Lightning yesterday. A group led by MacLean bought the Lightning yesterday in a deal that includes the leasing rights to the Lightning's arena and adjacent properties.

''Typically, you come into a situation where ownership has been an issue,'' MacLean said at the news conference. ''We're following a great ownership group that took the Tampa Bay franchise and really put it on the map.'' When asked about re-location, MacLean quickly answered. "0% chance of that happening".

MacLean led the Panthers the Stanley Cup Final and will look to get Tampa back to their winning ways.

The final news of the day was the resigning of Mike Cammalleri. The forward for Los Angeles had 34 goals and 80 points last season, but will only be making $3.1 million next season after an arbitrator awarded him a 2-year deal worth $6.7 million.

''We got there the hard way,'' Kings GM Dean Lombardi told the Times. ''Nobody wins at these things. I think it is safe to say it came out closer to our end. But these situations aren't for winning and losing.''

Bonds Hits 756


Barry Bonds was 1 home run away from getting to 756 homers in his MLB career yesterday. In front of the San Francisco fans, he did not disappoint.

Bonds came up in the 5th with no one on. He had a full count against pitcher Mike Bacsik. Bonds drove an inside pitch way out of the park. As soon as the ball was hit, Barry raised his hands in triumph and trotted around the bases like he did the other 755 times. He was greeted by his son, and his teammates. After the homer, Bonds gave a salute to the San Fran fans. ''Thank you very much. I got to thank all of you, all the fans here in San Francisco. It's been fantastic,'' he said shortly after crossing home plate, his godfather, Willie Mays, at his side.

Hank Aaron was also there and congratulated Bonds on the record. ''It is a great accomplishment which required skill, longevity and determination,'' he said.

''Throughout the past century, the home run has held a special place in baseball and I have been privileged to hold this record for 33 of those years. I move over now and offer my best wishes to Barry and his family on this historic achievement.

But many people will not recognize this achievement, as many think the record, "will always belong to Aaron", or "the record is tainted forever". For all the people that think that, just be quiet. Bonds has never tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in his life. Just because he made a large improvement in body stature when he went from Pittsburgh to San Fran doesn't mean he took steroids. It was around that time that athletes did start training more.

This guy had Hall of Fame numbers before all of the controversy came up. Don't forget that Bonds had quite a few MVP's and 30-30 years before the steroid problems came up.

"Right now, I'm very happy that it's all over with," Bonds said long after the Nationals defeated his Giants, 8-6. "I'm really happy with my teammates. That's the most important thing. And the fans, like I said, the fans here are my family."

"No one will ever take that away. No one can ever take that away."

Monday, August 6, 2007

Tiger Wins ESPN's "Who's Now"

For the past month and 5 days, ESPN has been doing a daily series called "Who's Now". ESPN analysts plus viewer votes would determine the ultimate sports star by considering both on-field success and off-field buzz. Based on fan nominations, ESPN Research selected 32 finalists to square off in a single-elimination bracket.

The athletes competed in a single-elimination, bracketed tournament (like the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship or a typical tennis tournament). Each day a winner would be announced on ESPN's SportCenter. Participants were placed in one of four eight-way "regions" named for historic athletes that, in the judgment of ESPN, best exemplify the qualities of "now": Michael Jordan, Billie Jean King, Babe Ruth, and Muhammad Ali. Each bracket would have 8 athletes which were seeded and faced against each other. In the 1st round, the number 1 seed would face the 8 seed, 2 seed would face the 7 seed and so on.

Tiger Woods, Dwyane Wade, LaDainian Tomlinson, Steve Nash, Peyton Manning, Dale Earnhardt Jr., A-Rod, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Jeff Gordon, Derek Jeter, Reggie Bush, Tom Brady, Maria Sharapova, Tony Parker and Shaq all passed the 1st round. Then those players would face off. Every 2 players on the list I just wrote would be matched against each other (Ex- Tiger vs Dwyane, LT vs Steve Nash). Tiger, LT, Peyton Manning, A-Rod, LeBron James, Derek Jeter, Tom Brady and Shaq all went into the 3rd round of the competition. They would face off the same way as last time. The 4 athletes in the semi-finals were Tiger, Peyton Manning, LeBron James and Shaq. In the semi-finals, Tiger was matched up against Peyton and LeBron was matched against Shaq. Tiger won with 63.8% of the viewers votes, and LeBron won with 60.4% of the vote. That meant that Tiger Woods and LeBron James would face off in the final of "Who's Now".

Yesterday, the champion was announced, and by a rather larger amount than most would expect, Tiger Woods beat King James with 65.1% of the vote! I would like to congratulate Tiger Woods on his win and that he does well in the up coming PGA championship. But I really thought that LeBron would win this match up. I think it's safe to say that more people in USA watch basketball than golf. And with Tiger in his little slump in terms of majors, and LeBron leading the Cavs to the NBA Finals, I though James would get the majority of the vote. But, that's just my opinion, what's yours?

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Glavine Joins 300 Club


It has been a historic weekend for baseball. Barry Bonds tied Hank Aaron's all-time home run record, and Alex Rodriguez became the youngest player ever to hit 500 home runs. Yesterday, Tom Glavine could get a milestone of his own, as he was going for his 300 career win.

Glavine looked flawless as he pitched 6.1 innings, and gave up 2 earned runs. But even with the Chicago Cubs scoring, the game was never in doubt for the Mets from the get-go. They scored 5 runs through the 1st 6 innings, and extended their lead after Glavine left to 8-3. All Glavine needed for the win was a good inning by closer Billy Wagner. Wagner shut down the Cubs to seal the 300th win for Glavine.

After the game, the Mets swarmed Glavine, and when he was able to escape the mob of players, he was swarmed by a mod of media. "I think the feeling right now is probably relief. At some point in time, I don't know when, the historic side of it will sink in. I know the company I'm in, and I'm as proud as can be to be in that company."

He is the 23rd pitcher and 5th lefty in MLB history to win 300 games, and may be the last pitcher to do so. The fact that no pitcher had 20 wins last year signals the end of an era. Pitchers will be going up against the best batch of hitters that the MLB has ever seen, so being dominant on the mound will not be so easy. Randy Johnson is closest to 300 at 284, but back surgery threatens to end his career.

If this is the last time that we see a 300 win pitcher, than I think we should really enjoy what we saw yesterday. And there is something that is for sure. Cy Young's 511 wins is a record that will never be broken.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Crazy Eights


The Toronto Blue Jays continued a rather good tend at home today at the Rogers Centre.

Coming into today, the Jays lead the majors in winning percentage at home with a 27-10 record (.730). Toronto had won 7 straight games coming into todays game with Texas and looked to get a sweep.

The game started out like the previous 2 in the series, and Texas scored a run off starter Dustin McGowan in the 1st. And just like the previous 2 games, the Jays bounced back tying up the game with a Frank Thomas single with Matt Stairs on 3rd. Then, after 3 1/2 scoreless innings, Matt Stairs doubled in Ray Olmedo, a call-up that got the start today. Then the Jays really opened things up 2 innings later, as Stairs and Wells both picked up a RBI to give the Jays a 4-1 lead. McGowan would shut down the Rangers for another inning, and Jeremy Accardo got his 20th save of the year as the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Texas Rangers 4-1.

The game was dominated by 2 people - an up and coming super-star in Dustin McGowan, and an old, Canadian boy celebrating his 1,500th game in Matt Stairs. McGowan was up to his old tricks looking un-hittable at times, and Stairs hit 3 doubles that cashed in 2 runs and scored a run himself.

"He's a good professional hitter. If you give him a pitch in the zone when he's ahead in the count, you're actually not expecting to get the ball back. He got me in a couple of big situations that I'd love to go back and do over again." -- Rangers starter Brandon McCarthy on Stairs.

McGowan seemed to blow away former teammate in Frank Catalanotto, who left for the Rangers just last season. "He's finally put it all together," Catalanotto added. "We always knew he had the stuff but now he's putting it together, mentally too, and being able to execute."

Toronto will now try to extend their home winning streak of 8 games to 9 against the New York Yankees tomorrow with another young star on the mound, Jesse Litsch.

Making History


It's been a long time coming for both of them. Alex Rodriguez and Barry Bonds were both mired in their longest slumps of the year. But yesterday, they both got out of those slumps.

Barry Bonds and the San Francisco Giants were facing the San Diego Padres yesterday. Barry came up to bat as the lead-off man in the 2nd. He hit a opposite field shot that measured 382 feet! It cleared the left field fence easily. As Bonds ran around the bases, the San Diego crowd, a crowd that included Bud Selig gave Barry a standing ovation. When Bonds touched home plate, he lifted his son and carried him almost all the way to the dugout.

It had been eight days and 28 plate appearances since Bonds hit his 754th home run, and he came out for early batting practice Saturday, hoping to break his slump, which he did. Bud Selig talked about watching history unfold, and his plans to attend the next few Giants games. "No matter what anybody thinks of the controversy surrounding this event, Mr. Bonds' achievement is noteworthy and remarkable," Selig said in a statement.

Selig said either he or a representative would attend the Giants' next few games "out of respect for the tradition of the game, the magnitude of the record and the fact that all citizens in this country are innocent until proven guilty."

The other milestone yesterday also came via the home run. Alex Rodriguez, who was in a huge slump after hitting home run number 499 looked to finally get number 500. He was going up against a good team to do it against also. The Yankees were facing the Kansas City Royals, a team that he hit his 1st ever home run against.

Rodriguez came up with 2 men on in the 1st inning and didn't waste any time. He swung at the 1st pitch he saw and blasted to left field. Rodriguez just stood their in silence, looking at the ball to see if it was fair or not, as were all of the other players on the diamond and in both dugouts. When it finally went into the stands, Rodriguez trotted around the bases in excitement, giving high 5's to anyone he saw in pinstripes. When he touched home plate, his teammates mobbed him at the plate. When he took a curtain call, the Yankee crowd gave him the biggest cheer A-Rod had ever heard in a Yankee uniform.

Rodriguez is the is now the 3rd Yankee to hit 500 home runs, joining Mickey Mantle and Babe Ruth. "It takes a lot in New York. I've conceded the fact that you can't worry yourself to hit a home run," noted Rodriguez. "I tried hard for five days, and you wish you can shake every fan's hand and thank them, but it's great to hit the home run at home and do it in a winning situation. I think I got a good pitch and gave it a ride. It was a good swing."

"It means the world. I didn't realize that until a week ago that Mantle was the last one to do it at home," added the young slugger. "To wear this uniform and do it here, that is so special. I've had some good times and had some tough times, and a day like today brings it full-circle, and maybe there's a happy ending for me somewhere."

A-Rod is now the youngest player in MLB history to get to 500 home runs. Before today, Jimmie Foxx was the youngest player to hit 500 homers at 32 years and 338 days. A-Rod is only 32 years and 8 days old. Other notables on the list of youngest players to hit 500 is Willie Mays at 34 years and 131 days, Sammy Sosa at 34 years and 143 days and Hank Aaron at 34 years and 160 days. That is some elite company.

It seemed fitting that Rodriguez would hit his 500th on the same day that Bonds hit his 755th. Rodriguez will probably be the all-time home run leader some day, and may be the 1st player to 500 homers.

Next stop for A-Rod is 600, and next stop for Barry is the all-time home run record.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Ti-Cats Get First Win

Although I haven't done any CFL posts yet, I'm going to start right now with the Hamilton Tiger Cats and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

The Ti-Cats were looking for some redemption after last week, the Bombers ran up the score on Hamilton, going for a last minute field-goal while already leading 36-18. But the Tiger Cats looked their old selves as Milt Stegall scored with just 3:20 minutes gone by. After that though, it was all Hamilton.

On his 25th birthday, Jesse Lumsden ran a 69 yard run for a touchdown to tie it up. The Ti-Cats then scored 14 more points by the beginning of the 3rd quarter to get a 14 point lead. After a touchdown by Winnipeg, Hamilton came right back with a touchdown near the end of the 3rd. After that, all Winnipeg could muster up were field goals. Lumsden had another long run for a touchdown, and Jojuan Armour had a 62 yard fumble return for a touchdown. The final score was 43-22 for Hamilton.

After the game, all of the talk was about the birthday boy. Lumsden, scampered 211 yards on 12 carries and got 2 touchdowns. ''This is the best thing I could have ever asked for,'' Lumsden said as he sat in the dressing room surrounded by reporters and checking his Blackberry. ''We didn't let negative things get us down.

''We climbed back. We finished everything. We did everything we needed to do to win.''

Hamilton will have to play like they did this week against the Edmonton Eskimos next week.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Ducks Decline Offer Sheet for Penner


Brian Burke and the Anaheim Ducks have decided not to match the Edmonton Oilers' offer sheet to Dustin Penner. The offer sheet was worth over $4 million dollars per year, which seems to much for the Ducks to pay.

This means that the Oilers will owe Anaheim their 1st, 2nd and 3rd round picks next year. Last season, Penner scored 29 goals and added 16 assists for 45 points in 82 games. In the Ducks run to the NHL Stanley Cup, he scored three goals and added five assists for eight points in 21 playoff games.

Earlier in the week, Brian Burke, Anaheim's GM lashed out at Kevin Lowe. "I have no problem with offer sheets, they are part of the CBA," Burke said on a conference call. "I think it's a tool certainly a team is entitled to use. My issue here is this is the second time this year in my opinion Edmonton have offered a grossly inflated salary for a player, and it impacts on all 30 teams and I think it's an act of desperation by a general manager who is fighting to keep his job."

"I have not (called him) and I don't plan on it," Lowe said on a conference call. "I have one responsibility and one responsibility only - and that's to the Edmonton Oilers fans and the Edmonton Oilers ownership.

"I'm not in the business of trying to make friends. Never have, never will be."

Edmonton is now gradually getting back to the level that took them to the Stanley Cup Final 2 years ago. They got Penner, and they also signed Sheldon Souray during the free-agent frenzy. People should be looking out for them next year.

Despite all of the this controversy about "a grossly inflated salary", the Oilers still got their man. He will play a big part next year for the Oilers.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Overrated?


The latest edition of the NHL players survey has just come in, and it seems that the majority of the players have a grudge going.

The most hated player in the NHL as voted by it's players is Sean Avery by a landslide of 66.4%. He was also voted the most overrated player in the NHL with a much smaller 8.5% vote, just ahead of Bard Richards and Bryan McCabe at 8.0%.

Personally, I believe that Sean Avery is one of the most underrated players in the NHL right now. He is the present-day version of Dave "Tiger" Williams. He is already known for his physical play, but many people overlook his stats. After a few shaky years breaking into the NHL, he turned it up last year getting 18 goals with both the Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers, a 3 goal improvement on his 15 the year before.

One game against Toronto that I watched, Avery was the most dominant player on the ice. He was getting into the opposing player's heads before the puck even dropped, got in a fight which got the Rangers going, and got 2 goals and an assist!

Just a few days ago, Avery went to salary arbitration with the Rangers and was awarded a 1-year contract worth $1.9 million dollars. Many think this is a lot for Avery, but I believe that the Rangers got lucky. Under $2 million is underpaying a great player like Avery.

Link: http://www.thehockeynews.com/en/news/news.asp?idNews=24100