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Cloud9 Sports: Opinionated musing on the sporting world.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Cloud9 Sports: State of Sports Address Part I (MLB & NHL)

MLB: Roger Clemens' lawyer is a tool. An 18,000 word document laden with statistical analysis is no way to prove your case in the sports world. Sports are bound to emotion. The thrill and excitement, and often the sadness and disappointment we feel after either watching or participating in competition has touched us all. To deny this as the most fundamental component to sports is erroneous. Likewise, it should be centric to the arguments proposed in Roger Clemens defense – a fact that has been lost on his council, Rusty Hardin.

Stats have no emotional context. They are bland and lifeless – much like most statisticians I've ever met (nothing personal, but seriously: are they ever the life of your party?). The statistical delineations contained in the most recently published document from Clemens and Co. fly aggressively in the face of the emotional and irrational sports fan, and bounce off their oft receding hairline right over their head. We can handle a few key stats, but 44-pages worth – not happening Roger, which is why you need to gas a resignation letter onto the desk of your lawyer, Mr. Hardin.

Or perhaps use the split-finger pitch which reportedly saved your career in its latter stages? Since we've addressed the cited rationality for Clemens longevity, we should ask whether a split-finger pitches also add several pounds of muscle and decrease recovery time from injuries? Hmm, I guess the physical transformation of a 40yo man must have been an aberration due to training, eh Roggie? By this line of thought, your next excuse will be a 20-page thank-you letter to Jack Lalanne for his exceptional tutelage.

Look forward to the days surrounding Clemens Congressional Hearing on February 5th to shed some more doubt on the increasingly convoluted defense of his reputation. Other notables to testify in these hearings include former teammates, Chuck Knoblauch and Andy Pettite and former personal trainer Brian McNamee. With the content of their testimony very much unresolved, but not lacking speculation, we can only place our misguided hope in the proceedings to provide some tangible answers; something as of yet unaccomplished via Congressional involvement. At the very least we'll have training camp upon us shortly to mix up the steroid-focused MLB news feed.

NHL: To absolutely no ones surprise Teemu Selanne is back with the defending Stanley Cup Champion Anaheim Mighty Ducks. Following the path of former captain Scott Neidermayer whose return has marked a notable turn-around for the Ducks, Selanne brings his back-to-back 40+ goal, 90+ point campaigns into an already formidable offensive attack.

Things are different this go 'round for Teemu since his linemate and setup-man Andy MacDonald has departed to St. Louis. Further, he joins a Ducks squad with a first line (Perry-Getzlaf-Bertuzzi) intact and capable of rivaling the most effective in the NHL. While his ice time may be reduced, we can anticipate Selanne to play a key role on the powerplay, having led the league in PPG's last year. Insofar as his regular role, which will likely feature an equatable setup-man in Doug Weight and (potentially) Chris Kunitz on an intimidatingly powerful second line, I like the Finnish Flash to flourish and peak at the as the playoffs loom.

Selanne should be commended for the haircut he took in the salary department, raking in a meager 600K throughout the balance of the season. However, the11 goals and 0.78 pts/game pace Selanne have amounted in the past two playoff runs in Anaheim will allow him to recoup lost income thanks to the playoff incentives undoubted written into the contract.

Lastly, is anyone else amazed at how good Brian Burke is? There are few men in hockey, not just GM's, that rival this mans' organization abilities. Since leaving Vancouver for sunny Anaheim, they have been perennial threats in the tough Western Conference. The maneuvering this season has been calculated since the end of last year and I assure you there are few people, other than Ken Holland (Detriot), who possess the moxie to orchestrate this type of unprecedented success in the salary cap era.

Come back tomorrow to check in on Cloud9 Sports: State of the Sports Address Part Two on the NFL and PGA. Thanks for reading, Cheers – Derek.

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