Archive for December, 2010

I think the Christmas season has made me slightly lazy so no full post here just a few thoughts, musings and observations on the world of sport.

NHL – The Maple Leafs are still playing uninspired hockey and are certainly a long shot at this point to make the playoffs.  I still write about them, quite regularly at one of the best hockey sites on the net “Maple Leafs Hot Stove”. 

NBA – Well, the Miami Heat (whom I just wrote about) are playing some very solid basketball and are now 24-9 on the season and only 2 games behind the Eastern Conference leading Boston Celtics (24-5).  I for one can’t wait for the playoff matchup between them.

The Christmas day games were busts, offering the viewer little in actual NBA basketball.  If I were a betting man (wait, I am) I would have taken the under on both ABC games and made out like a bandit as there was some awful shooting (especially the Lakers) and lack of interest most of the game.  My question is why waste the best matchup(s) on a day when most of the players want to be with their families.

Blake Griffin (Rookie, Los Angeles Clippers) is a beast, a man-child, a – you get the point.  He makes Vince Carter (in his prime dunking days) look like Eric Montross.  The kid plays above the rim, like way above.

Orlando made some big moves acquiring Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkuglu (yuck) and Gilbert Arenas and while I feel it likely makes them better this season, it’s all window dressing at this point, they can’t beat Boston or Miami in a series and I think they know it.

The Toronto Raptors play hard and are well coached but I don’t mind seeing a few losses as it gets them closer to a better pick in the lottery.

NFL – Michael Vick is the MVP, comeback player of the year and when I start my Madden 11 franchise, likely the QB I will target!  Tom Brady will likely win the actual MVP award but Vick is most deserving.

MMA – Georges St. Pierre is the undisputed pound for pound best fighter in the world.  He didn’t finish Koscheck, so what, give Kos credit, he hung tough but in the process took one of the worst beatings of his career.  Worse for him (Kos) is that GSP said he won’t ever fight him again, tough luck kid.

I love Anderson Silva and the muay thai approach and laser guided strikes but Chael Sonnen just showed us how to beat him – great wrestling, ground and pound and heart.  GSP is a superior wrestler (MMA wise) to Sonnen, has shown a better ground and pound and of course has great heart and outstanding cardio.

GSP would take him down, and with his vastly superior BJJ (to Sonnen) would not likely have gotten caught in that triangle choke (that caught Sonnen late in the 5th round).  If they fight, I will wager on GSP, hard.

MLB – A lot of people questioned the Jays decision to move our “top” starter in Shaun Marcum for top prospect (and Canadian) Brett Lawrie.  I didn’t mind the move and it’s not because I am overly sold on Lawrie (he will be a solid 6 or 7 hole hitter and likely play RF) but we were dealing from strength (starting pitching). 

Talent wise I would have ranked the Jays hurlers Morrow, Romero, Cecil and then Marcum.  With Kyle Drabek on his way up Marcum might have even ranked 5th at the end of the 2011 season if still with the team.  So they were proactive with an eye towards 2012 and beyond, while adding the highest ever drafted Canadian in the confident Lawrie.

I am involved in a minor league draft in my simulation DMB league and the first round is now completed.  I now see why MLB has such an amazing product, TALENT TALENT TALENT.  There are some unbelievable talents that make their MLB and MILB debuts every season and it is almost a never ending supply.  I picked 16 out of 16 (yeah, my team is that good) and here are the results:

Bryce Harper, OF
Dustin Ackley, 2B
Michael Pineda, P
Jesus Montero, C
Mike Trout, OF
Zach Stewart, P
Julio Teheran, P
Martin Perez, P

Eric Hosmer, 1B
Matt Dominguez, 3B.
Jacob Turner, P
Wil Myers, C
Jameson Taillon, P
Matt Moore, P
John Lamb, P
Mike Moustakas, 3B

 I was shocked when Mike Trout wasn’t automatically taken after the prodigious Bryce Harper and I think Pineda was taken maybe a full round too early, but when it comes to prospects, who really knows?  Zach Stewart probably could’ve lasted another round (maybe two) as his stock took a slight hit this year but the rest of the picks look pretty damn solid.

 I was pleasantly surprised to see Moustakas hanging around when my pick came up and I think he will rank in the Top Five in most “Prospect” publications/circles after a massive 36 HR campaign as he was also named the top player in the Texas League (AA) by Baseball America.  Possesses massive power, and though some feel he might not stick at 3B, his bat plays anywhere on the diamond.

 For those of you unaware the Kansas City Royals are poised to join the elite in the AL Central with one of the strongest minor league systems in the history of the game.  Eric Hosmer, Wil Myers, John Lamb and Mike Moustakas are just four of the many that are ready to make a contribution at the big league level in the next 3-5 years.  Watch out MLB.

Lebron James and Dwyane Wade have been on quite a roll over the past few weeks as the Miami Heat have fired off a ten game winning streak since last tasting defeat on November 27, 2010 to the Dallas Mavericks (in Dallas).  Some have anointed them as the best team in the game now and they have finally “arrived” or “gelled” but until last night nobody has seemed to mention that another team in the Eastern Conference is on quite a little tear as well.

When Paul Pierce went into his trademark dribble drive followed by a pull-up 12-13 foot jump shot and nailed it with 0.4 seconds to go in a thrilling comeback victory for the Boston Celtics at Madison Square Garden (a great game by the way) people discovered that the Celtics are on a bit of a streak as well.  The final dagger was almost nullified by a last second three-point shot that came just after the buzzer by New York Knicks stud power forward Amar’e Stoudemire. 

After the replay showed the shot was no good the Celtics had officially won their eleventh game in a row and are continuing to show that the East runs through them, the “Big Two” in Miami be damned.  Now I am not going to say the Heat haven’t been playing a more inspired brand of basketball and to reel off ten wins in a row is an accomplishment to itself but the Heat haven’t exactly been playing the stiffest of competition.

The cumulative records of the teams they have recently defeated (including beating the Cleveland Cavaliers twice) was an uninspiring 101-147, a .407 winning percentage.  Not exactly a who’s who of winning ball clubs and their only real impressive victory over the past ten games was a road victory in Utah against the super strong Jazz.  Sure, New Orleans (15-10) and Atlanta (16-10) have decent records but truth be told both teams have been playing horrible basketball for nearly a month.

This is not to say the Boston Celtics haven’t roughed up a few lacklustre NBA teams but since their last loss in Toronto versus the Raptors on November 21, 2010 the Celtics have beaten the surging New York Knicks, steady Denver Nuggets and the tough Chicago Bulls.  Combined the records of the past 10 teams they have defeated (they beat New Jersey twice) is 122-145, good for a .457 winning clip.  Again nothing to brag about but a pretty big difference when compared to the Heat’s hit list.

A lot can happen with so many games left to be played but as I see it now barring a Carmelo Anthony trade to the New York Knicks it appears the East will be a two team battle all season between the defending conference champion Boston Celtics and the “chosen” team down in South Beach.  This would make for an interesting playoff series with the hardnosed, battle tested Celtics trying to stave off father time and the new kids on the block from Miami.

A lot of interesting story lines, matchups, beefs and grudges in what could prove to be one of the best playoff series in recent memory.  Whichever team emerges victorious in the bloody battle had better hope they have some gas left in the tank as the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers will be anxiously awaiting the survivor, and will give no inch or show any mercy.

Not with the deadliest assassin since MJ firmly in control, the ruthless Kobe Bryant.

I found this link from Forbes.com about teams that actually have more money than the Yankees but are unwilling to spend on their on-field product. 

Interesting read, here it is:

If the Yankees sign Cliff Lee you can expect this from MLB pundits: New York has just bought another World Series. Even if the Yankees were to win the championship in 2011 that statement misses the big picture, which is this: There are several team owners with a lot more money than the Steinbrenner family who simply are not willing to invest in their teams like the Steinbrenners.

Start with the Atlanta Braves, who are owned by Liberty Media. Liberty has $2 billion in cash, which exceeds the total revenue generated by Yankee Global Enterprises, the Steinbrenner’s holding company for the baseball team, YES regional sports network and Legends Hospitality concession business. Lee would certainly help the Braves get serious about a title.

Than there are the Toronto Blue Jays, owned by Rogers Communications. Rogers profits exceed Yankee Global’s revenue. How about the Washington Nationals, who lost rookie pitching sensation Stephen Strasburg in August to a serious arm injury? Why doesn’t team owner Ted Lerner, worth a cool $3 billion, pony up for Lee?

Then there’s Michael Ilitch, who owns the Detroit Tigers and has a net worth of $1.5 billion, roughly 50% more than the Steinbrenner family. Ilitch, who also owns the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings, is trying to buy the Detroit Pistons of the NBA for around $400 million, probably with the idea of starting a regional sports network similar to YES.

And of course there is Drayton McLane, who owns the Houston Astros and is worth $1.5 billion. It seems you only hear from McLane every three or four months when he publicly says his team is not for sale unless someone wants to pay him a rich premium.