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Cloud9 Sports: Opinionated musing on the sporting world.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Ode to Roy Halladay: Best in the MLB?

I read a piece earlier today which called Roy Halladay over-rated and instantly tore through an excruciating emotional cycle.

I refuse to link to the original piece, so you'll have to take my word for it that someone actually wrote (and hence, believes) that Harry Leroy 'Roy' "Doc" Halladay is bloody over-rated. I submit to you the fragile introspections that brewed following the sight of such baseless criticism of one of baseballs' finest.

Denial: There is no way someone is dumb enough to believe that Halladay is over-rated. No sane person can ignore his career stats, the significance of his 5 All Star selections and the Cy Young Award of 2003?

Anger: How could I stand idly by while an individual grossly disrespects the only reason baseball is worth watching in Toronto?

Aggression: I'd like to meet this guy and beat some sense into him -- a solid 3:1 ratio of K's to BB's like Halladay will suffice (and by K's I mean strikes to the face, throat and sternum, BB's of the boots to the ass and kidneys variety).

Depression: Beating stats into people will never cause them to change their opinion of someone. If you're foolish enough to claim Halladay is over-rated, you probably dislike his trademark beard, rather than his ability on the mound. This hopeless neglect is deeply saddening, my waning motivations are powerless in face of such dire futility.

Bargaining: But wait, there's more -- he finishes nearly 1/6th of the games he starts, has an insanely low career WHIP of 1.21 (Top 10 Active) with opponents managing a hit against him but 1/4th of their at-bats, and has been one of the best pitchers in baseball since 2002 (3rd Active W/L- 106/45, Top 10 Active ERA+, youngest Active member of the 11SO Club, finished 1st, 3rd and 5th in Cy Young voting, and is feared and respected by his accomplished peers).

Acceptance: 50% of the population is below average intelligence, so there are bound to be idiots everywhere. It's a shame they have to write about things in which they have failed to give adequate consideration to, but their short-comings ultimately benefit crusaders of truth and accurate characterizations like myself. I win, life is great.

Thanks for stopping in, returning is made easier if you subscribe. Cheers, Derek.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Basebrawl: Arrests, Ejections, Fun.

Too lazy to read? Listen to this entry:


The impetus to post about a minor-league baseball scrap needn't be described, it is best seen:

I mused on my love for fighting in baseball ages ago. In fact, my two favorite sports are those which allow (and backhandedly endorse) fighting: hockey and baseball. Don't get me wrong on the NFL, their inability to fight is easily overshadowed by the level of violence observed every snap.

The greatness of this brawl is highlighted by a few inexplicable mental lapses. When the fight kicks off about 24s in, you can see a black player run towards the left of the screen. This player -- a pitcher -- decided the best way to settle an argument between the two managers was to hurl a ball into the oppositions' dugout. In contrast to his transparent peace-making motivations, the pitcher misses the dugout completely, sent a fan to the hospital, and "has been charged with felonious assault." Ball players aren't known for their keen cognitive abilities, but come on...

The ensuing battle is best described as a cat-and-mouse-style conflict. What amazes and entertains me so much about basebrawls is the reluctance on the part of the players to actually fight. Watch the video: the vast majority of the players are taking evasive action, throwing punches and running; clutching and dancing in a circular pattern throwing bombs with reservation almost prematurely aware of the consequences.

Those who do legitimately square off are doing so almost exclusively in defense of one of their own. Their altruism rewards the fans with the brilliance of anarchy, and endows the athletes with the burden of reduced playing time. 15 players were ejected, but then concomitantly re-instated so the game could be finished. Ahh, the glorious flexibility and beloved subjectivity unique to umpires and NBA ref's on the take.

Thanks for stopping in. Click to subscribe and we'll be on good terms. Cheers, Derek.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Dealing with Crooks is Gary Bettmans' Fatal Blunder!

Well, it appears the perfect image from melroserocks blog has been eaten by the internet. What a shame, thankfully here's an equally compromising shot. ---------->

tough to fire people for being stupid, because doing so implies the error was that of the hiring agent and not the discarded individual themselves. However, firing someone for being dishonest and subverted is contrarily fun and easy. Assholes that are ignorant (or arrogant) enough to lie and deceive others deserve the guillotine when they get burned for their covert practices. Why the tirade in light of my ongoing pursuit of positivity?

Bad judgement is like a disease, I believe this axiomatic. That Bettman has failed in numerous respects as a commissioner of the NHL is unto itself lacking the fatal qualities of his most recently publicized decisions. Because Gary Bettman, the lawyer, ex-NBA official, rat-lookalike, general douche bag and current NHL commissioner has finally made a critical error inspiring the venom spewed above. Others have taken him to task for his part in the back-door non-sense that awarded yet another unfit investor an NHL franchise, but I feel responsible for ensuring this is his last mistake.

Perhaps the firing squad has finished their inexhaustible supply of cigarettes and liquor. Perhaps now they can draw up their guns and inoculate the NHL of its most crippling and virulent problem: its leadership. Gary has made but 30 friends during his tenure in the league: The 30 owners who have reaped windfall profits while the fans have suffered bad TV deals, poor coverage on major networks, rising ticket prices (associated with non-NHL-related cost of living increases) and a slue of inconveniences analogous to being given the short-end of the stick (or taking a fisting for those under 35). Enraged, but powerless the fans have persevered while the owners remain gleaming like silver, safe and proud above the hot struggles of the poor.

I am hopeful this incident will incite action among those of sound morality and adequate influence. I am hopeful change will fix the NHL. I am realistic and disheartened by its unlikelihood. "I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repeled by the inexhaustible variety of life."

Cheers and thanks for reading. Come back soon. Subscribing helps... Check out the radio show tomorrow night (Tues 6-9pm, 101.5FM or live online).

Friday, July 18, 2008

NHL Futures, HNIC Song and Wild 3-Way's.

I've screwed the pooch like it was paying my bills of late, so I figured writing something -- regardless of the quality -- would be an invaluable exercise in blog-preservation. This time of year leaves many of my ilk jonesing for topics that don't include guys with initials B.F., the Yankees or Red Sox. So at the risk of owning a shitty and unkempt weblog, I'll rip one off for what feels like old time sake.

How about off-season NHL stuff? There is a rumor courtesy of the Ottawa Sun that is sure to keep the "ink-stained wretches" busy hacking away greedily. Since Ottawas' balance sheet has listed Gerber as a liability for nearly his full tenure with the team, it's not surprising they are looking to dump the underwhelming and inconsistent 'tender. However offering Andrej Meszaros to sweeten the pot gives the Sens a package that someone will inevitably see value in, which explains the willingness of the other two teams to get involved.

For the Kings to move Kopitar would take an exceedingly generous offer in the eyes of most, which is why this rumor draws skepticism. Is their value in moving their best young point-producer? Sure, but the return better include more than Gerber and Meszaros. Kopitar is a game-changer, an asset immeasurably valuable by traditional quantification. The aforementioned Sens are but cogs in the wheel of a solid, balanced NHL club, something that LA desperately needs after losing out on both Rob Blake (Sharks), and Brad Stuart (Wings). The previously-coachless Kings have significantly re-tooled in the off-season and appear poised to elevate themselves in the challenging Western conference. With their back to the wall, they seem willing to sacrifice some flash for functionality, a move that will doubtlessly frustrate Kings fans.

Remember the uproar when the Hockey Night in Canada theme song changed hands? I poo-pooed the loss then and have mounting evidence in favor of its insignificance. The song is associated with the game, not with a network or a program (which implicitly concedes that CBC may have lost out). The new HNIC song will have no bearing on viewership of CBC hockey broadcasts. Their relatively poor play-by-play, below-average camera angles and PJ Stock on the other hand will. TSN has been chipping away at CBC's lead in the quality standard department for some time, hence attention is due in areas vastly more significant than their anthem contest.

NHL Futures are up and everyone already knows the favourite. I see value in the Bruins, Blackhawks, Capitals and Flyers. Long shot on Columbus or St. Louis if you feel like gambling. Safe plays: New York Rangers v. Detroit Red Wings for Lord Stanley. Man up and post your call in the comment section: I dare you.

Thanks for reading and subscribe for the win, Cheers, Derek.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Radio Show on Now...

Hey folks, thanks for checking in. If you're around the computer from 6-9pm check out the live streaming of my radio show.

On tap tonight:

-- its my birthday so whatever the hell I please!
-- Lots of NHL talk,
-- being great and endless success
-- Blue Jays and MLB
-- Michael Vick is bankrupt
-- what is reality (and how does quantum physics explain it)
-- a tribute to dead fat comedians
-- remembering Karl Marx
-- how to use the internet
-- making your life easier by saving the world
-- What makes Pixar so awesome?

Cheers, Derek.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Best-Ever Tennis, Russian Cheerleaders and Brett Favre v. Mats Sundin

Sometimes its the little things in life that matter. Russian cheerleaders for example will bring a smile to your face. And when they happen to be brought to your attention on the same day as the greatest tennis match of all time, everything is coming up Milhouse.

Except if you're Brett Favre, who is more than obnoxious with his persistent desire to be important. We all may make decisions in life we regret, it is unfortunate in this instance that the very conundrum facing Favre is most frequently one which ends disastrously. Few things are as sure-to-disappoint as Pacman Jones or a new Will Ferrell movie, but a pro athlete set to come out of retirement rivals our most of epic letdowns. The numbers are not in Favres' favour if the Vikings think he'll be their saviour, and I think we'd all prefer if kept his musings to a simmer and made decisions behind closed doors like a grown up.

I am confident my neighbors in the US would rather watch the clinical removal of a hangnail than another sports-news clip featuring Brett Favre rumours. As a small consolation you can take solace knowing we have endured parallel suffrage in Toronto and -- although to a slightly lesser degree -- Canada. Mats Sundin is as enigmatic and annoying as the Old Boy Favre, but notably every bit as talented and potentially valuable. He's got offers from nearly a third of the league to join their club, with the Vancouver Canucks deeming a debatable top-15 player worthy of the largest contract in the league. He's not worth all that bread, but at the risk of wasting one of the best goalies in recent memory Vancouver is desperate to put a winning club in front of Roberto Luongo.

On a rather gossipy note, Kevin Lowe dropped a bomb on Brian Burke recently and I am thrilled. The saga is well documented. Who isn't interesting isn't piqued by the successive manifestations of two executives clashing through public channels? It is truly better than fiction. In The Ego and the Id (1923), Freud said, "...the ego uses borrowed forces" which fittingly meanders us to the root cause of this quarrel: Lowe broke the a gentleman's agreement in the NHL (by soliciting a restricted free agent on Burkes' team to a very generous offer sheet) effectively nailing the stones of the Ducks GM to the wall. Slighted and betrayed, Burke pushed back and the carousel thankfully continues. Sadly, their interpersonal spat doesn't go near the real problem: salary inflation in the NHL will eventually force the league into contraction (a tactic I've long been in support.) Much of what Burke preaches has merit, but the message is often muddled by his palpable infatuation with his own grandeur. This tabloid-like feud has guised the legitimate problems like salary inflation and the nature of RFA offer sheets (which do skew the market undesirably for the league and owners). Look forwards to more on this later, as it deserves it own piece.

Thanks for reading and support the site. Check out the Cloud9 Radio show tomorrow (Tues. Listen Live here) 6-9pm and subscribe to show some love. Cheers, Derek.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Who scored on NHL Free Agent Day? (Full List inc.)

Who scored on free agent day? Here is a list of the 30+ most notable moves along with commentary on who got the better of whom:

[Updated Fri 11:40.
04.07; Happy Ind. Day to all the American readers... Even though we CDN's party harder on weeknights.]

San Jose Sharks sign UFA defenceman Rob Blake to a one-year, $5 million contract.

-- Had to replace Campbell with another anchor on the back-end. Someone should have told Wilson not to replace him with an actual bruce. Tough to hate on Rob Blake, but he's no longer the spry whippersnapper of days past.

New York Rangers sign UFA forward Markus Naslund to a two-year, $8 million contract and UFA defenceman Dmitri Kalinin to a one-year contract.
-- Kalinin is a respectable D (which the Rangers needed after trading away too solid blue-liners yesterday). As for Markus Naslund, it's clear the Rangers want to win now. I imagine he had a host of offers in the 3.5 range before New York opened its wallat and once again overpaid for 20ish goals.

Montreal Canadiens sign UFA forward Georges Laraque to a three-year, $4.5 million contract.
-- interesting more so is dilemma of his former team: who is going to fight to protect Sid and Malkin next year?

Pittsburgh Penguins sign UFA forward Miroslav Satan (1-year, $3.5 million), & UFA forward Ruslan Fedotenko (1-year, $2.5 million).
-- to me this smacks of an attempt to fill a few gaps left by the departure of Colby Armstrong, Ruutu and Malone up front. An attempt, much to Pens fans consternation, that has fallen notably short.

Detroit Red Wings sign Marion Hossa to a one-year deal worth $7.4 million
-- Steal. This is how you play the game:
1. Get bad teams with cap space to bid up your price on the first day (July 1)
2. Pool these offers and present them to the best teams in the league with the notion that you'd be willing to play for their winning squad at a discount
3. Sign with the best team willing to play ball and fill your fingers with rings.

Pittsburgh Penguins have extended the contract of Evgeni Malkin (five-years, averaging $8.7million)
-- I love the fact he's on board at the same price as Sid the Kid (we all know dick swinging is greatly influenced by who's got the cake, and winning clubs need leadership). With their battle raging onward for the next 5 years, Pens fans better stop and thank the hockey gods for providing two phenoms for the same team. (Cough.. ur bullshit....)

Columbus Blue Jackets sign UFA winger Kristian Huselius (4-year, $4.75 million per year)
-- So, they overpay for Commodore (see below) and now throw a grossly oversized chunk at Huselius? Kristian can score, but doesn't like to defend, or play physical, or so much as offer the illusion that he is working hard in his own end, but once again the demand for goals drives up percieved value. He'll average 50-55pts over the next 2 seasons and then get traded because the coach hates the way he plays. Muh.

Dallas Stars sign UFA Forward Sean Avery to a four-year, $15.5 million contract.
-- I have been open with my support for Sean Avery. I don't care if he slept with your grandmother, (if hes not breaking the law) its what he does on the ice that counts. He is a renaissance player cut from the same cloth as Esa Tikkanen and Claude Lemieux -- guys whose teammates readily offer high praise for their ability to fight, agitate, score and win.

Boston Bruins sign forward Michael Ryder to a 3-year deal worth $12 million
-- this is the new CBA taking effect where one good year gets you paid. There is such a lust for a player with goal-scoring potential that GM's reluctantly risk big dollars for flash-in-the-pan's. This deal will disappoint as Ryder will become a cog in the defensive-minded Bruins wheel. Over/Under Goals for the 3 year term: 50. I'm under.

Ottawa Senators sign UFA Forward Jarkko Ruutu to a three-year, $3.9 million contract.
-- Check out the Senators finally getting some toughness and grit (notably, on the cheap)! Too bad about the Nobel Prize-worthy cancer present in their room has left them destined for nothing but grim death.

New York Islanders sign defenceman Mark Streit to a five-year contract worth $20.5 million

-- Islanders get a steal. Streit will suffer a drop in points on the Isle (his Habs scored the most goals in the league last season), but is a solid offensive defender. Three cheers for Garth Snow.

Pittsburgh Penguins sign UFA defenceman Brooks Orpik to a six-year, $22.5 million contract.

-- finally a GM gets a defender to sign a reasonable contract. Rumors had Orpik in the 4year-20mil range, which would indicate that he took a hometown discount to play with Crosby, and the soon-to-be-signed-to-$10mil/year Malkin. Good on Brooks whose career decisions reflect his character: sound and steady.

New York Rangers sign UFA defenceman Wade Redden to a six-year contract worth $39 million

-- Wow. Smart people make decisions based on value. Glen Sather apparently doesn't give a shit what other people do and just ridiculously over-paid for a slightly above average defender. This deal was the worst of the day.

New Jersey Devils sign UFA forward Bobby Holik to a one-year contract worth $2.5 million

-- Back to the old stomping ground to finish off his once promising, but ultimately disappointing career.

Toronto Maple Leafs sign UFA forward Niklas Hagman to a four-year contract worth $12 million

-- A respectable price for a decent player. Unfortunately, the Leafs are repeating many of their past mistakes by looking to compete too soon. Cliff Fletcher has fallen into the trap all men with an ego must avoid: instead of mandating an in-the-shitter-type season to ensure a franchise draft pick, he has convinced himself that he can build a contender. This season will prove he's wrong and Burke will be left holding weak contracts instead of the rights to a potential superstar.

New York Rangers re-sign UFA defenceman Michael Rozsival to a four-year deal worth $20 million

-- good re-sign for the Rangers. Rozi has turned up his game over the past few seasons and looks like s strong defender with top 2 potential.

New Jersey signs UFA forward Brian Rolston to a four year deal worth $20.25-million

-- Here's an odd one. Rolston was desperate to leave Jacques Lemaire 's eye-stabingly boring system in Minnesota and he signs with Lou Lamarello and the Devils... The price and the term are very Lou L. -- he held his ground and got market value for a fairly talented player.

Columbus signs UFA defenceman Mike Commodore to a 5 year deal worth $18.75-million

-- Breaking: the pool of free-agent defenders was NOT very deep this year. Nearly all the defensive free agents got over-paid and Commodore is no exception. Heres hoping his work ethic leads to some more offensive production (because I know it won't help his decision making).

Chicago signs UFA defenceman Brian Campbell to an 8 year deal worth $56.8-million

-- Another example of a demand-inflated contract, but with much greater returns. Chicago clearly decided on contending this year and thus will be counting on Campbell immensely. Keep in mind his disappearing act in the playoffs and relatively brief track record – he's not a lock for All-Star appearances as the dough would indicate.

Tampa Bay signs UFA goaltender Olaf Kolzig to a 1 year deal worth $1.5-million (plus bonuses).

-- A bit of a slap in the face to Mike Smith (who was one of the big pieces in return for Brad Richards). Taken together it looks like a tandem approach in Tampa until someone grabs the bull and goes off – a scenario Olly was reluctant to embrace when Huet rolled into Washington.

Colorado signs UFA forward Darcy Tucker to a 2 year deal worth $4.5-million

-- Fair market value for an aging (and sure to disappoint) 3rd liner. With the $6mil in his jeans from the Toronto buy-out, I'm sure he didn't mind taking the haircut.

Chicago signs UFA goaltender Cristobal Huet (undisclosed)

-- Why is he leaving a good thing in Washington? I could speculate on that all day, but I really like this play in Chicago's favor. Huet showed that he can play this year in the playoffs, and I wouldn't doubt his ability to be a solid anchor for the Hawks in the post-Khabibulin era.

Florida signs UFA forward Cory Stillman to a 3 year deal worth $10.6-million

-- I hate the idea of giving old guys money, and this suites the mantra. He'll under-perform and retire with the rest of the snowbirds on the beach in FLA.

Toronto signs UFA defenceman Jeff Finger to a 4 year deal worth $3.5-million a season

-- Bad, bad, bad. I have no idea what the Leafs thought they were paying for here, but I can promise you this is the best day of Jeff Fingers life. The costly buy-out process the Leafs have undergone recently mustn't have taught them enough about bad contracts...

Washington signs UFA goaltender Jose Theodore to a 2 year deal (undisclosed)

-- Clearly Huet priced himself out of Washington because most scouts/GM's would take Cristobal over Jose any day. Theodore is like violent diarrhea – unpredictable and streaky.

Anaheim re-sign forward Corey Perry to a five-year deal worth $26.625-million which will average $5.325-million a year.

-- Life-long winner and a future 40+ goal scorer. I like the deal on all fronts and anticipate Perry and Getzlaf to have another solid year in Anaheim.

Detroit Red Wings and veteran defenseman Brad Stuart have agreed to terms on a 4 year contract that averages 3.75 per year.

-- A nice chunk of change for a solid piece of the pie. Stuart seems to have found a suitable niche in Detroit where the lofty expectations are removed, and his forwards provide endless defensive support.

Washington re-signs defenceman Mike Green to a four-year deal worth $21 million (average of $5.25 million per season).

-- Much like the Perry deal this one was a no-brainer. Green is one of the most talented young defenders in the game and Washington did well to get his signature at an otherwise fair price.