Archive for the ‘other sports’ Category

Links around the Web, since the league didn’t do much for me this week

November 7, 2009

I am not a baseball fan. Of all the “major” sports, America’s ex-pastime is the one I have the most difficulty commenting on. Really, the most pointed analysis I provided in the Yankees’ run to the World Series was “C. C. Sabathia reminds me of a brontosaurus when he extends his neck.”


Maybe I’m just seeing things.

That being said, I couldn’t help but feel a little uneasy about the Yankees’ championship victory. It was as if the blond haired evil skiing high school quarterback steals the leggy blonde, but John Cusack is nowhere to be found.
Vance from Bangin Panger brought a great blog post by Joe Posnanski to my attention … it accurately captures my feelings of unrest. Even Chicago Blackhawks fans should be glad the NHL went with a salary cap after reading a piece like that.

Although ESPN the Magazine is at best the ugly stepchild of Sports Illustrated, they had an offer for a $3/year subscription so I thought, “Why not?”

I’m not sure if you’ll be able to read these because they’re “Insider” stories (let me know in the comments), but the “Player X” columns have been some of the more interesting/odd pieces I’ve read in a while.

On a bittersweet note, it’ll be pretty shocking if the magazine survives my 3 year, $9 commitment …

By now you’ve already seen Ohlund‘s vicious (but perfectly legal) hit on Phil Kessel, but it’s been a slow week in me caring about the hockey blogosphere so let’s bask in its barbarism:

Daaaang.

It would be useless – and quite futile – to point out a specific post; instead, I will just implore you (if you’re a blogger, a writer, a business person, if you have a pulse) to take a look at Seth Godin‘s blog. You might feel better about yourself, but you’ll probably also feel the need to do a little soul searching.

I know I’m far from being done with that, myself.

***

Did you write something interesting this week? Or maybe you read something that simply should not be allowed to float off into the wild blue irrelevant? E-mail me your links at cyclelikesedins@gmail.com. Please?

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A Tribute to Bridesmaids

November 3, 2009

As newspaper pages yellow and hairs become gray, time tends to remember only the winners and people who break other people’s necks. It takes a Super Bowl savant to even remember the losers, let alone the many teams that couldn’t even get there.


This post could just be a one-shot deal, but the hope is to find out about missed dynasties and could’ve been champions from days of yore. So please let us know about some of the most interesting Hypothetical Champions from hockey’s elder years too.

Recent Memorable Almost Champions from Hockey and Otherwise
The St. Louis Blues of the 90’s

OK, so this squad never got especially close to a Cup but that’s part of what makes their completely failed dynasty perplexing. Brett Hull Al MacInnisChris Pronger Adam Oates. They had all four of those HoF-caliber performers for big chunks of their primes but could never really put together even a deep playoff run. Perhaps those teams weren’t constructed well or simply lacked goaltending, but it still is pretty stunning those guys didn’t break through the Dallas/Detroit/Colorado gamut at least once.


The Drury-Briere Buffalo Sabres

Awww, now this one is still pretty sad. Sabres fans are frowning and muttering “Open Wounds, James. Open Wounds.” Let’s take you back, though: after teetering on the edge of bankruptcy and contraction the Sabres suddenly became hotter than Emma Stone. With a solid goaltender in Ryan Miller, a makeshift band of defensemen lead by “Tepid” Teppo Numminen and line after line of flighty forwards, it was pretty difficult to not love those Sabres. Even with their goofy old logo:

And their even more terrible new logo:

Still, despite those logos, it was pretty much impossible to root against the Sabres until they played against your favorite team.

Sadly, a big part of what made those Sabres team so difficult to play against (rolling line after line of quality forwards) is what made them so difficult to sustain in a small market, salary cap world. Their most important forwards went on to be grossly overpaid; with Briere and Drury going to other teams and Vanek staying in Buffalo for a crap ton of money.

Basketball Teams

The Barkley Era and Steve Nash Phoenix Suns

This one hits close to home. As a kid, I didn’t choose sports teams based on geographical convenience but rather who captured my immature imagination. Naturally, the brash, bald and bold Charles Barkley captured my attention like no basketball player before him.

Those Barkley-Kevin JohnsonThunder Dan Suns teams were outrageously fun to watch. If you want to find the key to my heart, make sure that you find a solid and charismatic coach, an explosive and quirky offense and a largely terrible defense. Is that a formula for a championship? Almost definitely not. But perfect defense and coaching usually kills fun (see: Devils, New Jersey and Spurs, San Antonio).

After Barkley was traded away, I thought that a basketball team would never captivate me in the same way again. Jason Kidd lobbing alley oops to Shawn Marion was entertaining but … eh. Stephon Marbury nearly killed basketball for me.

Just as I thought I’d never care again, floppy haired banger of Elizabeth Hurley Steve Nash came along and captained the priceless “Seven Seconds or Less” Phoenix Suns. And it was good.

You can conspiracy theorize all you want, but those teams ultimately fell short because they didn’t want to pay to get to the top and because they couldn’t play defense. So what? They were a joy to watch and I miss them terribly (since Steve Kerr murdered them with terrible decisions).

Seriously, though, fuck you Steve Kerr.

The Webber-Ugly Dude Sacramento Kings

Much like the Nash Suns, the Chris WebberMike Bibby-hairy European Sacramento Kings were a lot of fun to watch. Also a lot like those Suns teams, the Kings probably had as many flaws as strengths.

If nothing else, the Kings will always make me smile when I remember that Shaq referred to Vlade Divac as “a flopping bitch.” Good times.

The Cuban-Nowitzki Mavericks

It’s crazy how close that team came to a championship before getting absolutely screwed in the Finals. But let’s face it, they’re done.

Football Teams

The Jim Kelly Buffalo Bills

No sense kicking this dead horse anymore. No sense bringing up Scott Norwood‘s name. That would just be mean.

Late 80s Bengals/Browns

The state of Ohio actually came pretty close to winning a Super Bowl. For the Browns, it was their epic choking and John Elway that kept them from glory. For the Bengals, it was Joe Montana.

Addicted to Vampires? Take a look at Nashville pro sports …

October 24, 2009



We live in a sports culture of “what have you done for me lately?” Although the trend hasn’t been consistent in the NHL lately, it’s not uncommon for a coach to win an annual award one year and find themselves in the unemployment line merely two years later. In a salary cap age, it’s more understandable for owners to expect coaches to catch lightning in a bottle.

That’s what makes Nashville’s NHL and NFL teams unique; both of their coaches have basically lead their teams since they came to Tennessee.* Forgive my horrific pun, but I feel the urge to re-define the region as Tennessee-vania.
* Apparently Barry Trotz was a scout for the Predators’ first season, though.
Now, obviously if the Titans’ current meltdown continues, Fisher might find a pink slip attached to a stake in his heart, but it really is stunning that the two made it this far in the same city. After all, Fisher is the longest tenured NFL coach and Trotz is the second longest tenured coach in the NHL.
First, here’s Trotz’ career stats via his Wiki page:

And now, Jeff Fisher’s from his Wiki page:

Of the two coaches, Fisher’s bulletproof tenure makes the most sense (instantly at least). He lead the Titans to a notably competitive Super Bowl match up against the St. Louis Rams, managed an unexpected 13-3 record last season and has only four seasons with a losing record in his 15 year reign. Only Andy Reid (who started in 1999) can reasonably compete with Fisher in two treasured categories: longevity and mustache dominance.

Trotz’s run seems the most vampiric (and in general, the guy conjures up images of various D & D inspired creatures). On one hand, Trotz managed to squeeze points out of teams that were among the league’s worst in star (and fire)power. You cannot fault him for failing to transform Nashville into a juggernaut.

Which form of the undead is more exhausted: vampires or zombies?

That being said, many franchises would get antsy with his results. While he managed to break them into the playoffs for four seasons, the team was knocked out in the first round each time and never even made it to a Game 7. They’ve never won their division and some might say the main reason they were No. 2 in the Central for those years was because their other division mates rarely managed to muster even the slightest competition. Over the years, the Predators ceiling has been “frisky.”

Such middling results kept the Predators from getting many premium draft choices and you wonder how many elite players are on that roster … who beyond Shea Weber will truly threaten greatness? Oddly enough, Trotz shares a lot in common with Lindy Ruff, the only guy who has been sitting behind a bench for a longer period of time. Buffalo is off to a great start – and like Nashville – has a nice array of competent players. However, you wonder if the team could benefit from tanking for a season or shaking things up.

My question is: is the city of Nashville that loyal? Is everyone just so preoccupied with fixing the Vols that they don’t even care what happens with their pro coaches? Or could it be that Fisher and Trotz feast on human blood and sleep upside down every night?

I must know.

Afternoon Cycle: Brodeur and Friends

March 16, 2009

  • Before we get to the meatier portions, CLS must acknowledge its namesakes when they are in the news. In case you were unaware, the Sedin twins are at some sort of impasse with the Vancouver Canucks when it comes to twin contract extensions. (Spector by way of Puck Daddy)

The Sedins are more than a novelty act, but my feeling is that the pairing should probably knock a million off their asking price if they want to continue to be a package deal. And it would be wrong if the two were split up. Wrong and foreign. Like a pair of male ginger twins dancing at your bachelor party.

Two three-year contracts for $5.5 million per year strikes me as a reasonable compromise. I mean, they only have one digestive system anyway, right? RIGHT?

  • Things might be a little light on the contributor front for the next week or so. Chris Kontos is going on a wild’n’crazy five week adventure, our other contributors are possibly kidnapped in a trunk somewhere and the Next Decade team process will be pushed to the summer.

Hopefully my limited brain power can produce a few worthwhile posts in the meantime. Please don’t leave me. This world is cold and lonely.

  • With an malnourished inbox, the quest for the best Brodeur clips will just have to amount to what I’ve come across so far. However, if you stumble on this list and feel your work is missing simply drop me a line and it will probably be updated. Probably.

Perhaps the most comprehensive Brodeur study was made by friend of CLS Joe Pelletier. He did a great job of breaking down Brodeur’s career against the work of his best contemporaries Patrick Roy and Dominik Hasek.

Eyes on the Prize featured an amusing take on the Brodeur vs. Roy debate: “Ten Things Martin Brodeur will never have on Patrick Roy.”

James Mirtle picks Roy by a hair at From the Rink.

John from in Lou we Trust points out that while career milestones are nice, the goal for this season is for the Devils to raise their fourth Cup. He also makes the point of saying, “what good is a 2.00 GAA if you only win 20 games a season?”

Much like ESPN following Barry Bonds until he broke Hank Aaron‘s home run record, NHL Network will follow Brodeur until he slides above Roy for the all-time wins record. At this point, I love NHL Network to the point that if it beat me up, I’d be back the next day with sunglasses to mask my black eye and a fresh “I fell down the stairs” excuse. Yup, it’s my umbrella.
Whenever someone quits an online NHL 09 game early so my team cannot record a shutout, my message is always a snarky “Stay Classy.” Apparently, Frozen Fiend shows that you can use the term in a non-derisive fashion. Go figure.

The New York Times hockey blog rightly questions Greg Millen’s strange statement made right after Brodeur tied Roy’s record: “You think this isn’t a hockey market?” Finally, the Montreal Canadiens show that hockey can work in Montreal, the NASHVILLE of CANADA! Seriously, though, what was Millen thinking? People rioted in Montreal after they won a first round series. Hopefully Millen was drunk.

Maybe the “but he has shootout wins!” argument would matter more if this was Brodeur’s retirement tour, but MB will probably pad his record pretty comfortably as long as he remains durable. Can we please stop with this argument unless he retires with less regulation wins? Please?

Lastly, the Program has some Brodeur videos for your viewing pleasure.

Crosby vs. Ovechkin: Everyone needs a good villain

February 25, 2009

After Sunday’s Washington – Pittsburgh game got a little ugly, it seemed there was a line drawn in the sand.

On one side, there are people who think Alex Ovechkin is light years ahead of Sidney Crosby. People who cannot stand Crosby’s whining or bland, vanilla personality.

On the other side: Penguins fans.

For a long time, it seemed like Crosby just needed to open up. Over the years, there’ve been rumors of Crosby being gay (whether those rumors are faint, in my head or Tom Cruise-level widespread is irrelevant) and that didn’t seem crazy to me. The guy still lives in Mario Lemieux‘s basement (doesn’t he?) and to my knowledge has only been photographed with women while promoting his Reebok clothing line. No saucy Russian blondes wrapping themselves around Sid the Kid. At least not in public.

That’s the strangest thing. For a league that barely generates high-end marketing, Crosby is the closest thing to “overexposed” the NHL can muster. Yet, does anyone really even know the guy? He could be gay. He could be a huge fan of “comedian” Sinbad. Hell, he might collect Pogs and Magic cards. None of this seems unreasonable because I know nothing of “the next, next one.”

But maybe that’s for the best because every league needs an “Elvis vs. the Beatles” type debate. And like NBA officiating, NFL replays and the BCS, controversies get people arguing and generate free publicity. If hockey fans found out that Crosby actually is a pretty solid guy, it would take all the fun and the fervor out of it for many Sid-haters.

The NBA’s breakthrough era came with the Bird vs. Magic rivalry, two players who seemed both sublimely skilled and diametrically opposed. Magic played for the run-and-gun Lakers, coached by then-Hollywood-ized Pat Reilly; Bird was the leader of a Celtics team soaked in tradition, the last basketball team to win championships with two goofy looking white dudes as their best players.

You could appreciate both teams, but ultimately it came down to a choice. And that’s a lot more fun than being in the middle.

When you talk about “best player” it’s a Malkin vs. Ovechkin vs. Crosby battle, but the fight that sells tickets is Crosby vs. Ovie. Two players who couldn’t be more different. Ovechkin takes nine shots a game, throws his body all over the ice and is wilder than a tornado. Passing is an afterthought to him. Crosby threads some of the prettiest passes you’ll ever see, plays an all-effort game on both ends of the ice and is as bland as unflavored yogurt. He over-passes almost to a fault.

On some level, we need to sit back and enjoy this. Keep in mind: this is far from settled; Crosby can barely buy a six-pack right now.

I’ll leave you with this thought originally posted on Battle of California:

“Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs. “The Hitman” Bret Hart: Not a bad parallel to the Alex Ovechkin vs. Sidney Crosby rivalry when you think about it. Austin/Ovechkin appeal to the simple fan with brashness and aggressiveness; Hart/Crosby are vaguely whiny, undeniably talented Canadians. Crosby might even have a disturbing obsession with baby oil and strange sunglasses for all we know.”

Thanks a lot, A-Roid

February 15, 2009


Just turned on the NBA All-Star Skills Competition and …

Dwight Howard was on camera. And the camera showed his forehead and it looked kinda swollen … then I thought about him being a “freak of nature” …

Well …

Not accusing him of anything. Just saying. Every superhuman effort must be questioned now.

All-Decade Team: Coach

February 3, 2009

Somewhere in the cosmos, Herb Brooks’ soul just blew a whistle and screamed “Again!” at my taking-the-Finns-lightly self. When imaging an All-Decade Team, how could the coach be forgotten? Stunning.

What makes a coach of the decade candidate? Let me see:

1. Championships

Let’s face it, for head coaches it’s all about raising the Cup. Sure, it takes a hell of a team to win a title, but usually that team will face at least one worthy adversary. At least one bit of turmoil. It’s the great coaches who can mold a lump of clay potential into a vase of victory.

(The lights just turned out. Jim Carrey‘s chubby friend from The Truman Show just looked at coach Brooks with that, “wait, you’re STILL making them do Herbies?” expression and people are barfing on the ice.)

Emmerich to Russell: “Did that chubby guy just call me ‘that chubby friend’?”

2. Longevity

Bobby Bowden and Joe Paterno have a lot of great things in common, but there might be one similarity that gets them atop the coaching win ranks: no one in their right mind would fire them. Really, the two goals of any coach is to keep his or her job and win.

(Ted Nolan just nodded sadly)

Lindy Ruff knows nothing of what mere mortals call “unemployment.”

3. Lemons to Lemonade-ability

Sadly, the third category decides an insane amount of Coach of the Year victories. Still, there are stretches where a good coach can make a ragtag bunch of misfits believe they can defeat the finest collection of Russian hockey players ever built.

(Whoops, wait, that’s “Miracle” again.)

ANYWAY, while Lemons to Lemonade-ability isn’t everything … it does say something about a coach. So it at least should be in the discussion.

4. Wins

Not quite as good as championships, but they’re pretty cool too.

Things that will NOT determine Coach of the Decade

1. Jack Adams awards

The sad irony of coach of the year awards is that the “of the year” is quite profound. Those guys lose their jobs like hot cakes. While trophies don’t always go to the rightful owner, it’s usually safe to say that the Norris trophy winner still had at least a very good season. That’s why those awards are listed in those other posts.

But when Scotty Bowman’s only won something twice, you know that it’s either a) insanely difficult to win or b) being decided by sleepy journalists.

Marc Crawford … probably not gonna make it.

2. Sound bytes/looks/other superfluousness

John Tortorella might be a great quote; Ron Wilson fights with the media to the amusement of all. But those two have an equal opportunity to lose to bland coaches like Jacques Lemaire and troll-like coaches including Barry Trotz.

***

So, the idea of including coach of the year literally came to me within the last hour. Besides proving how dumb I am, it provides a big question: which coaches deserve to be considered for Coach of the Decade? I’d love to hear your suggestions. In fact, I think I might be in over my head so any recommendations would earn disproportionate friendliness.

(Screams to doubtful Herb Brooks: I AM A HOCKEY BLOGGER!)

Manalysis: Mike Milbury is the NHL’s Matt Millen

January 7, 2009
Remember kids, not everyone who wears glasses is automatically smart.*


Rarest are the times when the planets align; when everything comes together in an angelic jambalaya of perfection. Hockey and football certainly have things in common: both are violent, look great in HD and employ large quantities of meat heads. That being said, it’s unusual to see a pairing more joined at the blundering hips than “Mad” Mike Milbury and “Fire” Matt Millen.

Allow me to elaborate …

Backgrounds marinated in likability

Giving Mike Milbury a tip of the hat for his playing days is the only sane thing to do. For christ sakes, the guy went into the stands … AND BEAT SOME JACKASS FAN WITH HIS OWN SHOE. Remember in grade school, when you forced your “friends” to play the “stop hitting yourself game”? This was the NC-17 version of that.

Seriously, does it get any manlier than taking off someone else’s shoe and beating the shit out of them with it? How does that guy look himself in the mirror? Imagine what it must be like for his buddies: do they tease him about it or is it such an emasculating experience that they just stay away?

That might be worse than trying to look your friend in the eye after sleeping with a 300 pound woman.

(Um, or so my cousin says.)

Millen, also a defensive player, did almost as well: he won four Super Bowls during a journeyman career. Almost as good as beating someone with their own shoe.

Tormenting fan base by making horrendous trades, idiotic signings and baffling draft moves (and sticking around as GM for an awkwardly long amount of time)

Mike Milbury spent an astonishing 11 years making the New York Islanders so atrocious that most young hockey fans forget that the team once won four straight Stanley Cups. Eleven years. It’s amazing what kind of damage an idiot person can do in that much time:

  • First trade essentially sent away Wade Redden for Bryan Berard and Martin Straka. Remember, this was “someday I’ll make $6.5 million” Redden not “a crazed Rangers fan might kill me someday” Redden. And they received post-eye injury Berard and non-Jagr enhanced Straka.
  • This is also the first guy to trade Roberto Luongo.
  • Traded away Darius Kasparitis for Bryan “meh” Smolinski. Kasper becomes a part of Penguins lore after concussing Eric Lindros.
  • Traded away pre-prime pre-neck breaking Todd Bertuzzi and Bryan McCabe for Trevor Linden. Oddly, Bertuzzi and McCabe are among the most openly mocked players in the NHL right now, but for a few years they were considered “stars.”
  • Drafts Rick Dipietro instead of Dany Heatley (although that did keep Heater away from dangerous New York traffic. Too soon … still?)
  • Trades Zdeno Chara for Alexei Yashin. Proceeds to sign Yashin to perhaps the most openly ridiculed contract in the NHL history (with the possible exception of Toronto signing that Finger guy who’s so irrelevant I forgot his first name). Chara develops into a $6 million D who was so hardcore he wanted to be awake during his shoulder surgery (!).
  • Oh, and guess what: the pick he traded to Ottawa turned into Jason Spezza. So essentially he traded away Chara and Spezza (core members of the Senators near-dominant teams) for franchise-killing pouty bitch overpaid center Yashin. Gadzooks.

That’s just astonishing. Millen certainly isn’t a slouch in the clusterfuck department, either. He drafted three WRs in the first round: one is basically out of the league, Roy Williams is a semi-bust and Calvin Johnson may never recover from slumming it up on a Millen-engineered 0-16 Lions team. Let’s not even dwell on Joey Harrington (that’s just cruel).

Is that the same photographer who had Brian Burke pose in the middle of an empty row? If not, someone might have a case for photo op infringement.


Shit, the guys almost share the same freaking name

Just switch it up: Matt Milbury and Mike Millen. If you read them real fast you might not even know there was a typo. This is getting creepy.

And of course, they pick up a TV job almost without missing a beat

The big debate regarding Millen is “how can you be credible when you clusterfucked a franchise into a 0-16 season” while everyone in Canada’s too busy booing American Junior players to care that some atrocious GM is on the intermission reports (kidding, they’re too busy eating flapjacks). Here they are – two of the worst decision makers their given sports have ever seen – already lapping up a nice TV contract.

And, you know what? Who cares. When you look at the parade of morons networks trot out for their shows (Terry Bradshaw … Keith Jones … DEION SANDERS?), maybe Millen and Milbury are the smartest in the room.

Sometimes it just comes down to Einstein’s theory of relativity – which after some skimming, contains no mention of shoe-based brutality.

*Question: did Milbury dramatically remove his glasses while making a draft pick or announcing a franchise crippling trade? Because if so, then forget that I ever criticized him.

Mind blowers

December 29, 2008

The Czech Republic vs. USA World Junior Championship game is on my TV right now, but there’s only so much mental commitment that can be made to that after an unreal day of NFL football. Usually, football bores me with its endless commercial breaks, three-and-outs and awful announcing but today was truly a special day.

And every game pales in comparison to the jaw dropping clusterfuck that was the Cowboys – Eagles game. If that was duplicated in a game of Madden save files would be erased, friendships would become estranged and a disc would be shattered. People throw words like “meltdown” around often nowadays, but make no mistake about it.

That game was an unmitigated disaster. A pigskin A-bomb.

In the next day or two we’ll look back at some of the hockey meltdowns of somewhat similar severity and relevance. If you have any suggestions leave the scores and your recollections in the thirsty comments section.

From the "out of left field" department

December 20, 2008
Patrik Elias is having a sneaky good year.
  • After reading all those New Jersey season obituaries after Marty Brodeur injured his elbow, you’d think there would be just as many headlines about the Devils’ astounding offensive run. According to the awesome highlight show NHL on the Fly, the Devils have scored 26 goals in their last six games. That’s more than 4 goals per game.

It’s been a banner year for the fascinating blog Brodeur is a Fraud and hockey pundits who downplay the importance of a franchise goaltender. Seriously, Tim Thomas?

  • Couldn’t find a high quality version of David Krejci‘s spectacular goal one night after the fact, but this video still includes it. One of my absolute favorites of the year.

Who saw Krejci coming? It seems like he’s legitimately good, too: his 32 points in 31 games is pretty unreal for someone who’s supposed to be a third-liner. Seriously, he’s hotter than Carla Gugino right now. It’s pretty hard to top 23 points in 13 games and points in all but one.

  • The NHL Network, NHL ’09 and the hockey blogosphere are like a potpourri of crack for a puck nerd. Until the NHL Network, it looked like NHL Center Ice would be for next year but now my addiction is too severe.
  • Late 2008 is, dare I say, an almost unprecedented period of cross-sport regular season dominance.
Not since the days of Big Van Vader have we seen such dominance

Even though they’re floundering in a worrisome way now, the New York Giants were steamrolling teams week after week. The Sharks’ reign of terror broke a few irrelevant “at 30 games played” all-time records. Last but not least, the Los Angeles Lakers, Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics are on paces that challenge the best video game seasons in ridiculous winning percentages.

It looks like 2009 might be “reality check” time, although that probably won’t be the case in basketball. The Lakers and Sharks going on the road more often will give those teams their truest tests.

  • Everyone probably knows this already, but make no mistake about it: Mats Sundin went to Vancouver for money. That doesn’t mean he’s wrong or that the Canucks aren’t worthy, it’s just hard not to roll your eyes when people try to paint any other picture.

Surely, having a shit load of Swedes doesn’t hurt either.