Thursday, July 28, 2011

He Said It: Albert Haynesworth

“You’re not going to remember Albert Haynesworth as a bust.” – Albert Haynesworth, speaking of himself in third person after signing a seven-year, $100 million contract with the Washington Redskins as a free agent, February 28, 2009.

Albert HaynesworthFast forward two and a half years, $41 million in guaranteed money and a training camp holdout later and that’s exactly where Albert Haynesworth finds himself this morning.

The Washington Redskins, who tried to get “fair value” for Haynesworth via trade for the past year, shipped him to the New England Patriots for a junior in college who might not make it in the NFL – also known as a 2013 fifth-round draft pick.

Not only will I remember Haynesworth as a bust, I’ll also remember him as a quitter thanks to this clip posted on YouTube late last season.

I have no idea what the Patriots see in Haynesworth but hey, it’s not my team’s problem to deal with.

Friday, July 22, 2011

New Logo Of The Winnipeg Jets

The New Winnipeg Jets Logo:

I like it better than going back to the old logo.  The Red Maple Leaf under the jet makes the jet pop.  Although the blue circle with the cut out of the top confounds me.

Their two alternate logos:

I wish that the top alternate logo would have played up a little of their old logo with a jet trailspray forming the cross of the t and the upper line of the s and the Maple Leaf forming the rear outline of the Jet somehow.  The bottom logo in my opinion is a good looking one.  I can see that one on the shoulders of all their uniforms.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

More College Football Realignment Coming

The college football realignment rumors are up and running again.  And we are going back to the 2010 rumors about the Big 12 being no more.  The school that is starting to fuel these rumors:  Texas A&M.

A source told Sporting News on Wednesday that both Texas A&M and Oklahoma are so concerned about rival Texas gaining a recruiting advantage with the newly formed Longhorn Network, the two institutions could turn to the SEC if the problems can’t be figured out. The core issue: The Longhorn Network will televise live high school football games in the state of Texas, an obvious recruiting advantage for Texas.

And this from CFT:

Texas A&M’s Board of Regents was already set to meet this Thursday and Friday to discuss a variety of topics. Now, they’ll add a closed-door session to discuss the specifics of Texas’ Longhorn Network, set to launch next month.
A source close to the situation told the Houston Chronicle that the agenda item has been named “Big 12 Conference“.
Everybody that was happy that realignment of college football ended last year will not be happy with this news.  And I also can see a couple of more years of realignment.  And all the conference commissioners and school officials can lie about the reasons that they are doing this, but it is all about the money.  That is the reason that all these conferences are trying to get 12 teams.  That money that comes with a conference championship game.  Expansion also allows for the conferences to renegotiate their TV deals, and you know that the $2 Billion that the SEC has signed for in TV revenue will go up if the SEC does allow Oklahoma and Texas A&M into the conference.

A couple of predictions: The WAC will be eliminated as a conference.  The Big East will stop being a football conference.  The Pac-12 will become the PAC-16 with Texas, Texas Tech, Boise State, and either Baylor or Houston.  The Big 12 will no longer be a conference.  The Big 10 will expand to 14 teams.  The ACC and MWC will also expand. 

Tessie (a baseball history lesson)

Whether you've heard the song "Tessie" by the Dropkick Murphys and wondered why it's become an anthem of sorts for the Red Sox or whether you've never heard the story of the Royal Rooters (and their original Tessie chant) of the early Boston Red Sox (ne Americans), the connection to the Kennedys or Nuff Ced McGreevy, I thought I'd throw together some links and the lyrics; and I hope you enjoy this trip down old baseball history as much as I do.
Four of us waited out a rain delay in the modern McGreevy's a couple of years ago. 
Unfortunately there is no embed link available for the video but the link is below as well as the lyrics.
Tessie is the Royal Rooters rally cry

Tessie is the tune they always sung
Tessie echoed April through October nights
After serenading Stahl, Dineen and Young
Tessie is a maiden with the sparkling eyes
Tessie is a maiden with the love
She doesn't know the meaning of her sight
She's got a comment full of love

And sometimes when the game is on the line
Tessie always carried them away
Up the road from Third Base to Huntington
The boys will always sing and sway

Two! Three! Four!

Tessie, 'Nuff Ced McGreevy shouted
We're not here to mess around
Boston, you know we love you madly
Hear the crowd roar to your sound
Don't blame us if we ever doubt you
You know we couldn't live without you
Tessie, you are the only, only, only

The Rooters showed up at the Grounds one day
They found their seats had all been sold
McGreevy led the charge into the park
Stormed the gates and put the game on hold
The Rooters gave the other team a dreadful fright
Boston's tenth man could not be wrong
Up from Third Base to Huntington
They sang another victory song

Two! Three! Four!

Tessie, 'Nuff Ced McGreevy shouted
We're not here to mess around
Boston, you know we love you madly
Hear the crowd roar to your sound
Don't blame us if we ever doubt you
You know we couldn't live without you
Tessie, you are the only, only, only

The Rooters gave the other team a dreadful fright
Boston's tenth man could not be wrong
Up from Third Base to Huntington
They sang another victory song

Two! Three! Four!

Tessie, 'Nuff Ced McGreevy shouted
We're not here to mess around
Boston, you know we love you madly
Hear the crowd roar to your sound
Don't blame us if we ever doubt you
You know we couldn't live without you
Tessie, you are the only, only, only

Don't blame us if we ever doubt you
You know we couldn't live without you
Boston, you are the only, only, only
Don't blame us if we ever doubt you
You know we couldn't live without you
Red Sox you are the only, only, only
This link is for the story of Tessie and this one for The Royal Rooters.  One of my favorite parts of the story is how the Royal Rooters would change the lyrics to "Tessie" to fit the moment, such as this stanza towards Honus Wagner during the 1903 World Series.  "Honus, why do you hit so badly? Take a back seat and sit down.  Honus, at bat you look so sadly. Hey, why don't you get out of town?" 
Another great part of the story is that the Dropkick Murphys decided they wanted to re-release "Tessie" in an effort to bring back the spirit of the Royal Rooters to Fenway Park.  That was in 2004 and we all know what happened later that year.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Raise a pint to Darren Clarke

As the British Open unfolded, it became clear for me that my sentimental pick to win this major would be Darren Clarke, a man much more likely to buy a round of Guinness at the pub than to go to the gym, a throwback player who practiced very hard on his game but not so much on his body, a less flamboyant version of Miguel Angel Jimenez, he of the cigar and old school calisthenics.
I certainly wouldn't have minded seeing Dustin Johnson win it either, a young man with all the talent in the world but now after losing yesterday, a man with Phil Mickelson's perchance for epic disasters in majors.  He's already given two major wins away and it could be argued that had he not hit that shot out of bounds yesterday, he could have put some pressure on Clarke.  Darren Clarke has been oh so close before and lost.  So you never know what pressure demons are possible. 
But Clarke didn't face any real pressure from his competitors on Sunday.  Phil Mickelson teed off several groups in front of Darren, five shots back, and proceeded to shoot five under par in the first seven or so holes to catch Clarke with an eagle on the 7th but then Clarke eagled the 7th as well and then Phil eventually came undone and finished two under for the day, several strokes behind the steady Clarke, who was the best all tournament from tee to green.  Phil did get his best-ever finish at The Open Championship, tieing Johnson for second.  Perhaps we have some reason to now be optimistic about Phil in this major going forward; BUT this is a man who only has now two top 10s at this tourney and how many second place finishes in majors?  I think more than can fit on one hand.  As is the tradition at this tourney, awards are given on the 18th green to the winner, the low amateur and the 2nd place finisher(s), which included Mickelson, whose wife has been dealing with breast cancer.  There was a moment prior to the presentation on the green where Phil put his arm around Darren and whispered something to him for a couple of minutes.  It appeared to be a moving moment and I'd love to know what was said.
But it was Clarke's day and Clarke's tourney; and for those who know his story of losing this tournament several years ago in bitter fashion and then losing his wife to breast cancer, all the while being tough and sensitive, it was hard not to be extremely happy for him, despite yours truly being a huge Phil Mickelson fan.
Of course, Rick Reilly says all of this much better than I can.  That's why he makes the big bucks watching sports.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

MLB All Star Game

My favorite part, along with the game itself, has always been the player introductions.  I played organized baseball (and none of that T-ball shit) from the time I was five years old.  Nothing was cooler to me than seeing the likes of Willie, Hammerin' Hank, Yaz, et al, trotting onto that beautiful green field in the uniforms they wore every game.  Keep in mind that I grew up in an era where a baseball game on television was not an everyday thing.  The Sox were on during the weekend, which was a great thrill, and there was a national game of the week and that was it.  Obviously the 24 hour cable sports outlets didn't exist, nor did the internet.  So your daily baseball fix was listening to the game at night on the radio, reading the write-up of the game in the paper the following morning and perusing the box scores.  So you didn't get to see these players literally all the time like you do now.  Maybe that's why the All Star Game was such a big deal?
I remember all those years where the American League never won and when the Red Sox weren't very good but I would always be excited for this game, root for the AL and hope our lone All Star, usually Yaz, would give us Sox fans something to cheer for.  Remember, if you can, that the AL won roughly two All Star games between the time I was born in 1961 and 1982.
So I'm sitting here watching the player intros and I'm still excited to see the Red Sox announced, hope our players do well and that the AL trounces the NL yet again; but I'm also wondering why this game has lost its luster in the last few years.  Is it simply the most obvious reason, that with all of the player movement it's difficult for the players and the fans to really care about winning this game?
When you watched the player intros, didn't you envision yourself in your team's uniform being introduced as an All Star?  Then why is it that many of the games greatest players don't appear to care about this game anymore?  Jeter's tired?  Come on, man.  I hate the Yankees with a seething passion but I've always respected this guy; and even though he didn't deserve to be on this year's team, he was voted in and should have humbly accepted and showed up and played.
This is still the best by far of the major sports all star games.  It's played during the season when the players are sharp and the fans care; the players wear the uniforms you're familiar with, and there are still plenty of stars on parade.  So why would the players rather not be there and does that sentiment in part explain why this game is not as highly anticipated by the fans as it once was?

UPDATE:  Alas, the American League lost but I thought it was a well played, entertaining game -- great pitching, clutch hitting and some excellent defensive plays.  I thought the Sox players acquitted themselves well, especially AGon's homer, though I'm concerned about Beckett's knee.  Did you see the list of AL All Star pitchers who were not there for various reasons and or couldn't play, like Beckett and Lester?  Would that have made an impact on the outcome of the game?

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Bruins Cup Parade Pics and Sox Game

The one thing that Zeb didn't get the full experience of before the Sox game was "Flagger Dude". We had gone to CVS for a cold drink and well deserved Snicker's Ice Cream bar, this is where FD first entered our lives. He had his orange flag, tattered and torn, barely hanging on the stick. He was in CVS looking for tape to do the needed repairs. As Zeb and I took up residence on the bus stop bench, FD took up his station at the corner. He devotedly waved his flag directing traffic toward Fenway. The problem is that there were only 3 people that appeared to understand his motives: Himself, Zeb and I. The lights changed, the flag waved and motorists completely ignored him. It wasn't long before he was chatting away. At first I thought he was just taking to himself, until I saw the hands free ear piece and mic. At one point Zeb nudges me and I turn to look and FD is about 3 knuckles deep, digging for the green gold. Pedestrians walk by all trying very hard not to notice. A short time later a traffic cop shows up and starts directing traffic, now Zeb and I are really confused. FD has just been rendered redundant...but the cop says nothing to him, just goes about his business directing traffic.

At some point Zeb runs out of cigarettes and needs to make a run. So there I sat perched on the bus stop bench when I catch FD out of the corner of my eye. It's at this point I start looking for the hidden cameras, I could hear the voice the over. "Here we have 2 guys from Detroit Me, visiting the big city, let's see how they react to some local color...". This comes to mind because what I saw out of the corner of my eye is FD elbow deep in his pants just a digging away! Here again everyone trying not to notice but having no luck.

It seems we were on the wrong side of the street, not an uncommon thing for a couple of Basford boys in the big city. Tim Thomas apparently had the cup, he was on the same Duck Boat as Chara, who I got a few pics of, but was on the other side of the boat from us so we didn't get to see the cup. Here are the better pics, I'll post all of them to my Facebook and tag Zeb so they'll all be available there.

Enjoy the pics:

Championship wall at Fenway.

This is the guy that saw Zeb's Sweeney jersey and pointed it out to Sweeney.

Coach Claude Julien

I think this was as close to the cup as we got, Tim Thomas and presumably the cup are sitting behind Chara.

Gotta Love Wild Owner Craig Leipold

While on KFAN with the voice of the Vikings, Paul Allen, Wild Owner Craig Leipold talked about division realignment in the NHL and said who the Wild would be in a division with.

“Our division would include the Winnipeg Jets, us, the Blues, the Nashville Predators, the Dallas Stars, Chicago Blackhawks, and maybe the Columbus Blue Jackets… maybe not depending on if they go east or west. I am all in favor of that. I think that is a grand slam, home run, hat trick for our team.”

So it does appear that the NHL is going 4 divisions and 15 teams in each Conference.  Because you have Vancouver, Colorado, Phoenix, San Jose, Anaheim, Los Angeles, Edmonton, and Calgary out west.  That gives you 15 in that conference.  The only thing that I would do different is keep Detroit in the North Star Division, and move the Blue Jackets into the Thrasher Division.

“Everybody’s talking about it. We’d love to have Winnipeg. It’s a natural rivalry for us. The closest team in the NHL [for us] is Winnipeg. We’d love to have them in that division. I think with Chicago and St. Louis the old North Star divi… I mean Norris Division. Come on… How much fun is that?”

We could have the 4 divisions named after defunct teams.  The Whalers division, The Thrashers division, The North Star Division, and the Golden Seals division.  Unique to say the least.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Give Burkie An “A” For Effort

The Toronto Maple Leafs didn’t overpay Brad Richards yesterday but general manager Brian Burke made two moves in the past twenty-four hours that I really like:

  • Tim Connolly ($9 million, 2 years) – Connolly is a short term solution for the Leafs and will be their #1 center until either Nazem Kadri or Joe Colborne develops into one. He will be partnered with Phil Kessel and most likely Joffrey Lupul on the left side this upcoming season. I like this deal because Connolly can be counted on to feed Kessel the puck, unlike Tyler Bozak, who on a good team would be no better than a third-line center.
  • Cody Franson & Matthew Lombardi (via trade) – Nashville needed to make a salary dump, most likely in order to re-sign Shea Weber, and Burkie acquired the young Top 4 defenseman along with Lombardi’s salary in exchange for the vilified Brett Lebda and minor leaguer Robert Slaney. If Lombardi is healthy, he will be a great second or third-line center for the Leafs. Franson will join a crowded blue line, which makes me wonder if either Keith Aulie or Carl Gunnarsson will become trade bait– or will Mike Komisarek be on the move? Either way, we only gave up a minor leaguer and a seventh defenseman for these two and it’s a low risk deal for the Leafs.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Saturday Five: Worst NHL Free Agent Signings This Weekend (So Far)

Part of me wants to bitch about the Leafs not signing anyone so far since free agency began at 9am PST yesterday but I’ll bite my tongue. There’s another part of me that wants to laugh because there were some signings in the past twenty-four hours or so that didn’t make sense, even if the teams involved were trying to eat up cap space in order to reach the salary cap floor.

Here’s five free agent signings that were the worst, in no particular order:

  1. Ville Leino, Buffalo Sabres ($27 million, 6 years) – I get it. The new ownership of the Buffalo Sabres wants to prove to their fans they’re serious about contending for a Stanley Cup. The Christian Ehrhoff signing was a smart move, but $4.5 million a year for a guy who had a career-best 19 goal season? A guy who couldn’t crack the Detroit Red Wings lineup not too long ago? I don’t know why the Sabres spent more on this guy than they currently pay for a real, certified goal scorer like Derek Roy but hey, it’s not my team’s cap problem.
  2. Tomas Fleischmann, Florida Panthers ($18 million, 4 years) – Fleischmann has never been a point-a-game player at the NHL level and was out most of last season with an “upper body” injury. What makes an injury-prone forward with so-so defensive skills a $4.5 million player? Only a general manager who has a history of mismanaging a salary cap can answer that question.
  3. Ed Jovanovski, Florida Panthers ($16.5 million, 4 years) – What’s worse than a general manager overpaying for a player? Dale Tallon overpaying for THREE players. The second one to make this list is a guy who hasn’t been to an All-Star game in three seasons and is clearly on the decline. What makes this contract worse than the one given to Scottie Upshall is that it’s going to hurt for a long, long time. Jovanovski is 35 years old, which means his $4.25 million annual cap hit is going to be on the books until 2015 whether JovoCop makes it that far or not.
  4. James Wisniewski, Columbus Blue Jackets ($33 million, 6 years) – This punk had his first 10-goal season but he’s more noteworthy for making an obscene gesture to Sean Avery and delivering cheap shots to his old Chicago Blackhawks teammates. Yet general manager Scott Howson thought it was a great idea to ship a fifth-round draft pick to Montreal for Wiz’s exclusive negotiation rights on the eve of free agency and then pay $5.5 million a year for a second pairing defenseman. When a signing makes Mike Komisarek look like a bargain, you know it’s a bad deal.
  5. Brad Richards, New York Rangers ($58.5 million, 9 years) – We can always count on the New York Rangers to overpay players that are over 30 years of age and this contract will be on the books until Richards turns 40 and/or the team buys him out. He’s a great player but the fact is in 10 seasons he’s only been a point-a-game player in three of them. This is way too much money for a guy who’s on the wrong side of 30 and has had a recent concussion. What makes this contract bad is that it’s front loaded. Richards will make $50 million during the first five years, which makes salary cap maneuvering a little tricky – unless Wade Redden gets a new, very expensive teammate in Hartford.

Realignment Coming For The NHL

With the Atlanta Thrashers no more and having the Winnipeg Jets in the Southeast Division, the NHL has decided that major realignment is worth doing.  According to league sources, the commissioner and others in the league office are trying to decide how to realign the league.  Here is the one that has the most steam behind it.

1.  Have 2 conferences with 4 divisions.  15 teams in each conference.  The Divisions would break down as follows:

I don't like the split here.  I would move Detroit back to the Midwest.  I would Columbus, Pittsburgh, and Philly into the South.  And finally I would put New York Islanders, Rangers, and New Jersey in the East. 

Here are other realignment proposals. 

I am glad that the NHL will realign the teams into different divisions after this year.  It will be interesting to say the least about which team goes into which conference.

Friday, July 01, 2011

How I Would Solve The NBA Lockout

It seems like there in no major sports league that isn't having problems.  The NFL is in there lockout for over 100 days.  The owners and players are crying about having to share profits as far as the eye can see.  The NHL in 2012 is going to have it's own problems with revenue sharing and labor.  MLB's system is so far out of whack that small market teams get the shaft each and every year.  Sorry, Derek Fisher, but the MLB system is broken.  And the 4th sports league here in America that is having problems is the NBA.  They have instituted a lockout, but this is different than the NFL.  Why?  Because both the owners and the players have acknowledged that there are teams losing money each and every year.  So here is how I would solve the strife in basketball.

1.  Basketball Related Income (BRI) should be set at 52% for the players.  Yes, it is 5% less than what they are making now, but I didn't see one basketball player in 2008 or 2009 during the recession coming forward and telling their owner that I will give you 10% of my paycheck because of the economy.  So you are going to have to take a hit on this at these negotiations.

2.  No soft cap, no flex cap, but a hard cap.  God, this would hurt all the top teams.  I would put the hard cap at $69 Million.  Just for 2011.  Then we index the Salary Cap with the BRI.  And we also bring out the dreaded salary floor.  Of course we are going to be smarter than the NHL and not have a set $ amount for the difference between the cap and the floor.  I say put the floor at 70% of the cap.  So the floor for 2011 would be just over $48 Million.  Considering that the Sacramento Kings were the lowest payroll in the league last year at $44 Million, that shouldn't be that hard to do.

3.  The elimination of the "Larry Bird" Exception.  With a hard-cap, the Larry Bird exception should and would die.  Also, the mid-level exception should die as well.  If we are worried about cost certainty, and I would be with the fluid situation that some NBA teams are in right now, getting rid of these exceptions would help the clubs.

4.  The lengths of guaranteed contracts being reduced to 5 years if a player resigns with a team.  4 years if the team signs the player in Free Agency.  I understand that this makes players unhappy because there is less guaranteed money for them in a contract.  However, if you look at the way teams need to evaluate and look at talent, they need some sort of relief when players like Eddy Curry all of a sudden go off the rails.  And shaving off a year at $12 million off a contract for some player that sits on the bench each and every night just makes good business sense.  Also, the elimination of every contract being guaranteed.  You want big money, go earn it.

5.  Eliminate the Guaranteed Raises.  Right now, a player that resigns with his old team get an automatic 10% raise.  Free Agents get 8%.  Eliminate those.  Why should a player get an automatic raise?  If the Miami Heat want to resign, Mike Miller, for example, they need to up the money to resign his ass.  That in turn make other players at the same talent level want more money because someone else got it.  And in my example, if mike Miller does get his 10% for resigning with Miami and all of a sudden he turns into Eddy Curry, well, the Heat are paying him because he is under a guaranteed contract and he got a automatic raise.  Seems stupid for my vantage point.

6.  Amnesty Clause.  I would allow the clubs to eliminate one contract that they have and strike it from the hard salary cap figure.  So say Miami wants to eliminate the Wade contract from Salary Cap consideration, they have that opportunity.  And that one contract stays off the salary cap figure for the length of that contract.  No signing somebody else to a contract and then switching the one that is off the salary cap books.

7.  Maximum amounts in contracts.  $12 Million per year for a player.  Rookie Wage scale that gives them Restricted Free Agency in 3 years or Unrestricted in 4 years.  All rookie contracts will have a team tender that is due after the 3rd year if the team want to keep the rookie for the 4th year.  Compensation for signing a Restricted Free Agent would include Draft Picks and money.

8.  Revenue Sharing.  All clubs will give 3% of their local gate and TV revenue to the league to put into a pool which will be distributed to the 5 teams that are the worst off financially at the end of the year.  A team can only receive revenue sharing once in three years.So if the team gets revenue sharing funds in 2012, the next time they will be eligable is 2015.

9.  Probably won't come up in the labor negotiations, but implementing a rule that says you have to have 2 complete years after the completion of High School before you can be drafted or play in the NBA.  That will allow teams to become better when evaluating players, because they will have grown up just a little bit more and the scouts will have more data to evaluate talent.

10.  This one would never fly from the owners, but an audit of every teams books by someone that the player's choose.  Of course there would have to be oversight of those books by said teams, but until we actually know what is going on with the teams that are losing money, you can't fix the problems.  And if the organizations are found to be stashing money or playing games with the books, you can hit them with jail.