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Cloud9 Sports: Opinionated musing on the sporting world.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Brian Burke and the Media Orgy In Toronto: STFU

Quick post because it's way past my bed time. Seriously, I'm not accountable for this unpolished rant. Enjoy...

How many times have you heard some surly, unmotivated journo describe sports executives as the 'men behind the scenes'? What happens to an organization where these men step out from behind the curtain and assume center stage? Bobby Clark told the TSN audience tonight that it's big trouble for the organizational chemistry, I think its a storyline that's nauseating.

You can probably infer I'm talking about Brian Burke, the Toronto Maple Leafs and the decisions being made by television producers, newspaper editors and anyone with a pulse also in the sports-related media.

They have all gone too far. I'm about as interested in Brian Burke's personal life as I am in knowing the taste of my own feces. Information pertaining to his dietary standards, familial relationships inclusive to both wives and sets of children and his Thanksgiving plans have no place in a sports broadcast. You are there to analyze the game, talk smack about the fight of the night and solo-effort game winners, please save your tabloid commentary for Sunday Tea.

I recognize that MacKenzie, Dreger, Kipreos, Cox, Shoalts and Simmons all want to be Brian Burke. Others pretend to hate him, but incessantly pollute their programming with Brian Burke banter. They've assessed and diagnosed, investigated and proclaimed, marginalized and condemned everything from drafting the Sedins to the piece of lint floating on the surface of his spittoon (which contains Straight Skoal, because that's what badass lawyers from Harvard chew).

The opportunity to run the biggest franchise in its sports is a monumental event, and I'm glad the media has capitalized on this. However, appealing to the lower common denominator with CCN-like saturation of an unfounded and speculative nature is shitty journalism and it's bad programming. Step your game up.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

All-NHL Podcast: Studs and Shockers

Length~ 22mins.

Topics: Pretty well a complete recap of the NHL landscape, with some notable highlights:

Eastern Shockers -- Thomas and the Bruins, the struggling Flyers, Penguins and a brief look at the other playoff contenders.

Western Front -- Vancouver and Dallas: Righting my wrongs, What Cup hangover for Detroit?, How good are the Sharks?

XMp3 Review to go with this from earlier in the week. Cheers and Enjoy.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Free Agent Pitchers: Blue Jays need a new Wing

Updated: 11/19/08:
And by wing I mean arm, but you should have known.

There are several arms available, but the value is not there for most of them. Sabathia, Burnett, Sheets, Dempster, Lowe, Moyer and Johnson complete the list of reasonable choices for JP Riccardi and the Blue Jays. When you get below the surface of these men you're really looking into some skeleton-filled lockers.

Sabathia and Burnett have been marathon men over the last two seasons. In fact, they have literally thrown more innings in the past two years than any other in the MLB. "Carbs and Calories" Sabathia and his cohort "Agitated Jerk" Burnett blew past career highs in IP in pretty impressive fashion last season -- C.C. in an effort to push the Brewers to the World Series, and A.J. attempting to aid the Jays' futile playoff drive. These two are perched atop the risk:reward pyramid with abused and potentially fragile arms and due a Kings ransom. Let the Yankees have them both, as I wouldn't be shocked if either man supplies the highest bidder a full compliment of starts (in Burnetts case I'll set the prop at 22 starts +/-, 25 for CC).

Sheets and Dempster are in the second tier -- notably, the one which I think offers the most tolerable risk (on a cost basis, of course). Sheets can hurl with the elite class of SP's in the major leagues, but has stumbled with injury recently (22,17,24 starts in 05-07, with 31 last season posting a solid 13-8, 3.09 ERA, 1.15 WHIP). The only way you should price Burnett above Sheets is if you've been seduced by the formers' stuff (and almost everyone is).

Ryan Dempster is another fiery right-hander with an interesting past. He started a mere 6 games in the four seasons from '04-'07 posting staggeringly high ERA coming out of the bullpen, most often in a closing role. The case for Dempster as a Blue Jays is an interesting one, and I can't pretend to possess sufficient insight to diagnose it correctly, so lets roll play.

Dempster's Agent: Coming out of the bullpen reduced the volume of innings he's thrown over his career, his ERA is historically lower when starting, playing in his home country would provide a comfortable atmosphere and ensure performance.

JP Riccardi: There is added pressure with pitching in Canada for Canadians and given his weak performance in the clutch during the playoffs I am doubtful of your last assumption. Also, we have a stocked bullpen and thin rotation, if Dempster struggles demotion is not an option. When coupled to the anomaly that was his most recent season, why should I pull the trigger on your boy?

Dempsters Agent: Pleeeease, have you checked the ticker recently? My investments are in the shitter and I need this commission like I've got the clap and it's the cure!

JP: Fine, 25mil over three years. Team option after year one and two...

End tangent. Bottom line is that Sheets trumps Dempster in nearly every category. I expect both will pitch slightly above average as a 2nd, 3rd man in whatever rotation they end up in.

Lowe, Moyer and Johnson are the grizzled veterans lingering for another kick at the can. Granted, Lowe is only 36 and clearly a better option than the ageless lefty's listed above. Lowe -- unfortunately for the Blue Birds -- has many suitors which could elevate his price north of Sheets-Dempster, while remaining to the South of Burnetts' plunder. Having pitched in the AL East before gives Lowe a considerable advantage over those new to such a daunting task. That being said, if Moyer or Johnson are willing to come North and bring their rubber arms with them, I'd welcome a grandfather-like figure who'd be willing to take a more vocal leadership role (I'm thinking Johnson could be one of the best player-coaches in baseball history and all he'd have to do is glare at people!).

A list, to capitulate all my speculation, non-sense and postulation. If I am JP, here's where I'm at:

1. Ben Sheets (rumours around Texas and Milwakee at the moment. Incentives will be the name of the game for this guy and his hamstring-of-the-arm tear. Flaky elbows aren't in line for solid dough.)

2. Derek Lowe (Boras client is asking 5-year at 18 mil per. Not really a surprise given the market, but I'm certain that prices him out of the range Riccardi would stomach. 4 years at 15 per might be a little more reasonable, but I'd let the Braves have him at that price.)

3. Ryan Dempster (signed 4 years, $52mil with the Cubs. Good luck, I hope for everyones sake he's healthy and can reproduce his walk-year performance... About that, Cubbies fans don't like my gut.)

3. Randy Johnson (Dodgers are reportedly interested, Angels are not. Cubs are "on the short list" according to his agent who is clearly fishing for offers after the Diamonbacks shortchanged them with 25% of the $8M/year he wanted.)

4. Jamie Moyer (Looks like he'll stay kozy and re-sign in Philly. Might be asking multi-year in excess of the $7M he was awarded last year. Dude, retire on top fo the game, you'll be 46 next year! Why does no one respect the Elway-way anymore?)

5. AJ Burnett (from MLB.com "As of Wednesday morning, every American League East team except Tampa Bay, plus the Phillies and Braves, were believed to be prepared to make an offer or were considering making an offer for Burnett." This will get interesting... he might fetch 16-18 million a season. WOW, he not coming back for that price.)

6. CC Sabathia
(six-year, $140mil offer from the Yankees on the table. Reckon the Angels could steal him for $130?)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Triumphant Return + XMp3 Satellite Radio and Mp3 Player


After my annual Fall hiatus I am back in my home after visiting Vancouver, Seattle, Whistler, Banff, Calgary and everywhere in between. It was a far cry from my trip to Australia and New Zealand last year, but it was still incredible.

I got the pleasure of visiting both Qwest Field (Nov 02, V. Eagles) and Pengrowth Saddledome (Flames v. Leafs on Nov 11th). Tons to say about both of those and I will do so in their own posts very shortly.

While away I was contacted by Matchstick Marketing and asked to review the new XMP3 device from XM Satellite Radio (availble in stores in the next few months, my guess is before Xmas). It arrived today and I want to get my initial impressions off while still fresh (pics and video to come as well).

The device itself it very similar in size to a Blackberry Pearl. It is small enough to be portable, but offers a rich display with solid color and good contrast. The quality of the earbuds is worth noting as I was very impressed. They are in-ear with cushioned, noise-reducing synthetic plugs which surround the audio-producing portion of the bud. The sound is robust making both music and talk sound much better than standard radio and almost on par with my iPod.

While moving around the house I did experience some inconsistency with the reception. I assume going outside will alleviate some of this, but have yet to get out and about with it. I will report back on this, and other long-term observations (battery life, etc) very shortly so stay tuned.

More sports to come, including this weeks ALL NHL podcast very shortly. Cheers, Derek.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

AL Playoff Breakdown: Youth v. Experience, Power v. Power.

Hurray for my 1-year Anniversary as a sports blogger! My first post was a year-ago to the day and can be found here for those curious of my humble beginnings.

The American League
There are some serious match-ups between the heavyweights in the strong AL: Can the Angels follow their 100-win season by finally defeating the Red Sox? Are the Rays going to prove themselves as one of the best young teams ever, or will the streaky-Chi Sox roll them with their veteran poise? The answers lie within...

Los Angeles Angels v. Boston Red Sox
-- For the third time since 2004 these two clubs are battling in the shortened-divisional series. This go around however the Angels feel like they're due to get the upper hand, and certainly have it when it comes to starting pitching with three excellent and reliable starters (Santana, Saunders and Lackey). The addition of Mark Teixeira and Torii Hunter (two of their top-3 bats to go alongside Vlad Guerrero) is also sure to improve the outcome for the Angels. Many are concerned with a lack of intensity from the Angels after slaughtering their abysmal division and waltzing into the playoffs, but these players know what on the line and Scioscia will have them ready to play.

The Red Sox are the defending champs and are playing like they yearn for another. There are incredibly balanced as exemplified by their regular-season numbers all atop the
league: hitting (3rd in RS/G, 5th VORP), pitching (3rd VORP) and defence (7th RA/G, 5th by efficiency). They are suffering from the wear-and-tear that goes along with (being old and) making the playoffs 5-of-6 seasons with Lowell and Drew below-top health, and their Ace Josh Beckett starting game three due to physical set-backs (they say oblique, I say his arm is still bothering him).

Other Notable players: K-Rod and Pap (the closers for each team will be pivotal to holding slim leads under pressure). The Managers: two of the finest in all of baseball will joust until the bitter end.

Grading The Edge:
Starters: Angels A+ , Red Sox A
Bullpen: Angels A , Red Sox B+
Bats: Angels A, Red Sox A
Winner: Angels in 5

-- The Angels are too talented and well-managed to blow it AGAIN vs. the Sox (who aren't as strong in the rotation as previous years w/o Beckett and Shilling).


Tampa Bay Rays vs. Chicago White Sox

-- this is scary series to pontificate on since there are two arguments that could easily be made:
1. Despite their inexperience, the Rays are plainly too solid to lose.
2. The veteran core of the White Sox just strung together 3 victories in succession under must-win circumstances, therefore they are apt win as the underdog.

The Rays are everything you think: young, confident, loaded with potential and well-built. They win with pitching (2nd VORP with Shields, Kazmir, Garza and Sonnanstine) and defense (1st by efficiency) and don't lose at home (21-3 down the stretch at Tropicana). The Chi-Sox on the other hand win with their veteran sluggers (most homers in the MLB thanks to Quentin (out), Thome and Dye).

When young pitchers face experienced hitters the convention wisdom might favour the latter. I am confident this series will contradict that school of thought with the spry Rays' talent and efficiency trumping the gritty effectiveness of the White Sox.

Other Notable players: Gavin Floyd (a young stud SP who could steal a win in Game 3 v. Matt Garza). BJ Upton (needs to avoid the inconsistency we've seen this year).

Grading The Edge:
Starters: Rays A+, White Sox B+
Bullpen: Rays A-, White Sox A-
Bats: Rays A , White Sox A
Winner: Rays in 5

-- I think the White Sox will chase a starter once and squeeze out another, but the Rays are too strong to go down.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The NHL Franchise Fire Sale of 2008.

There is no secret that people are losing a lot of money in the US right now. Consider that alongside the state of several conceivably insolvent NHL franchises. Phoenix, Tampa and Atlanta are barely scraping by at the best of times -- there screwed now that people aren't spending their money.

What about franchises in regions that have been hit hard with foreclosures? There are two teams in California, notwithstanding the surrounding areas of Detroit or Florida where corporate dollars are scarce and the fan base is frugal. Its a tough way to run a franchise and they talked about the pressure of the economic on the Fan 590 today (credit to McCown, Brunt and Kypreos) when the trio threw out the figure of 8 or 9 franchises which could be for sale courtesy of cash-deprived owners looking down the barrel of a creditors gun.

Awesome. There is nothing better for hockey than leaving poor sunbelt cities. Full Stop. Contraction and subsequent re-location would be a legacy event: some suit in on the NHL board of governors would get a plaque in the Hockey Hall of Fame uprooting these failing teams and sending them over the pacific.

Hockey in Europe

Their economy is shaky as well but the NHL in Europe should be made to work. If the NHL was really smart, they would institute relegation in a fashion modeled after the European Premier Leagues. It's crazy and bold, but it will work if crafted appropriately.