Monday, May 31, 2010

Kerrzy's Notebook: Distractions

Life is full of distractions.

Some are big, some are small – some only distract some people and not others, others distract everyone. Do you give in? Do you hold out? Life is also full of choices.

With the World Cup beginning in just under two weeks, it’s now up to the manager of each national team to try and limit the distractions for his players. You might be surprised where that conversation heads though.

Argentina’s national team will be in tough in the battle to avoid distractions, given that their manager is none other than Diego Maradona, a man who seems to be a walking oddity/controversy generator.

For example, on the oddity side of things, Maradona has requested a remodeling of the bathrooms where Argentina will be staying during the World Cup, asking that luxury toilet seats be installed. Then, he threatened to proclaimed that he would run naked through the streets of Buenos Aires if Argentina wins it all.

On the controversy side, he recently ran over a camera man's foot while driving his car to the Argentine Football Association’s training complex and then yelled at the guy for putting his foot under the wheel.

See what I mean?

Well, Argentina’s national team is back in the news, as last week the team’s doctor addressed another potential distraction: sex.

Dr. Donato Vallani says players will be allowed to have sex with their regular partners during the month that they’re in South Africa, which I’m sure they’re all happy about. According to the Associated Press, Vallani says sex is just a part of life, adding “players are not Martians.”

It’s not all fun and games though – Vallani says players shouldn’t be up at 2am with champagne and Havana cigars, instructing his men to keep on a regular sleep schedule.

South African publication The Times reports that Brazilian coach Dunga took it a step further, saying he would leave it up to his players to decide whether or not to abstain from sex, “and other sensory pleasures,” whatever that means.

While we’re on the topic, here’s another interesting tidbit:

It turns out, if you gave German soccer fans a choice, they’d rather see their team lift the World Cup than have sex says Yahoo!, citing a Readers Digest survey.

The survey also suggests whoever wins the World Cup might see a bit of a population spike:

“Germany's success on the field can turn up the heat in the nation's bedrooms: there were a flood of new-born babies here nine months after the national side finished third at the World Cup four years ago.”

Imagine that, eh?

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Kerrzy's Notebook: Mistaken Identity

Usually in sports, the fans are a big part of what gives a team home field advantage – if you’re the Toronto Blue Jays though, it all starts in the customs lineup.

Last week the MLB players association sent a warning to its members (titled “Immigration Problems for Players Entering Canada") that if you’ve been arrested or convicted of something, you should get in touch with the union before you head to the great white north.

A copy of the memo soon found its way onto the web:

"Individuals who are not Canadian citizens may be detained at the border and, in certain cases may not be permitted to enter Canada at all, if they have any sort of past criminal record. Recently, Canadian authorities have stepped up enforcement of these laws, resulting in several non-Canadian players traveling to Toronto with their teams being detained at the border because of a past criminal record."

The memo went on to say that even something that happened years ago could wind up getting a player detained – and could wind up affecting their ability to enter the country at all.

Well, embarrassingly enough, the first player I’ve heard about actually being detained was wrongfully detained.

The Huffington Post reports that Baltimore Orioles All-Star outfielder Adam Jones was held back for a few hours on Thursday night, but it turns out they mistakenly thought he was a different Adam Jones - perhaps the one who plays football and was arrested something like six times since being drafted in 2005.

"They said I had a criminal record. My mom raised me better than that. I've never done anything like that, been involved in anything criminal in my entire life. It was a long, pointless situation because of the circumstances, but I'm glad everything got cleared."

Jones was eventually let go after a few hours later (at around 5am).

Looks like he could have used the extra shut-eye too – on Friday night, he went 0-for-4 at the plate with one strikeout in a 5-0 loss.

If someone at customs mistook this Adam Jones for that Adam Jones simply based on his name, that’s absolutely outrageous. While they’re at it though, the Jays have the Rays and the Yankees coming to town next…

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Kerrzy's Notebook: Biological Passports

It seems like anytime something exciting happens in the world of cycling, it’s got something to do with drugs.

For one, they’re always testing the riders, so every now and then someone gets busted and it gets people talking. Sometimes a more high profile rider gets busted and it gets non-cycling fans talking. Other times, a cyclist wins a whole bunch of races and becomes a household name – which is when people start asking “I wonder if he’s taking something?”

Like I said, it seems like anytime something is happening in the world of cycling it’s got something to do with drugs – and right now is no different.

According to ESPN, former Tour de France winner Floyd Landis has been speaking with the US Anti-Doping Agency, giving them some in-depth information on how cyclists get around the hassles of constant drug testing during competitions.

The UCI, Cycling’s international governing body, uses something called the “biological passport analysis system” which sounds a lot cooler than it is – basically it’s just a record of all of your tests used to track abnormalities. Rather than test for specific banned substances, it looks at your body’s levels and watches for spikes and drops of certain things.

Landis, who had his Tour de France win taken away after a positive test, says teams with enough resources have known for years how to get around the passport system.

He says some members of his team strategically timed when they took a certain performance enhancer in the lead up to his ’06 win and were able to do so because his team usually had advance notice of when the “random” drug tests were going to be.

I won’t get into all the scientific details of what they did, but basically Landis says they had the equipment and were smart enough to run the tests before the drug testers got there, to make sure they’d pass. What’s more, he says he’s “fairly certain the UCI knows about it.”

Looks like Landis is the Jose Canseco of the cycling world, but lets not forget – Canseco was right about a lot more than people will give him credit for.

Reading this made me think of an article I saw earlier this month where the World Anti-Doping Agency was getting on the NHL about not testing players enough.

WADA says the fact that the NHL only tests during the regular season and not the playoffs or the summer is disappointing, adding that they’ll be trying to get the league to be “code compliant” as soon as possible.

I’m sure it’ll be an issue when the league and the Players Association have to try and crank out another collective bargaining agreement in a year or two (God help us). I hate to say it, but if we’re seeing athletes in every sport from cycling to baseball to football using performance enhancing drugs of one kind or another – what makes it so unbelievable that it’s happening in hockey too?

Do you think there are players in the NHL that would fail drug tests if WADA got the league to up its testing policies? Leave me a comment and let me know how you feel!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Kerrzy's Notebook: Random Friday Thoughts

That's Amore

We all know Europeans can be very passionate people, but former Inter Milan and current Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho took that to a whole other level this week.

Days after a Champions League triumph in Madrid, Mourinho packed his stuff and left Inter's training grounds on his way back to Spain. "The Special One" got in the back of a waiting car, but as it pulled away, he spotted one last person he had to say farewell to. He got out of the car and walked over to central defender Marco Materazzi, who says he tried in vain to convince his skipper to stay.

Mourinho held Materazzi tight and had a good cry, pulling his head back into his shoulder as the player tried to pull away. I'm not sure what length of time constitutes awkwardness, but this hug lasted 21 seconds before a tearful Mourinho walked back to his car and drove off into the night.


Anyone But Argentina

Earlier this week I told you about a bizarre request from the Argentina national football association regarding the toilets in Diego Maradona's room at the place they'll be stationed during the World Cup.

Today's odd Maradona story comes courtesy of ESPN's Soccernet: The Argentina manager says he'll run naked through the streets of Buenos Aires if his team lifts the hardware in South Africa. What?!

After a 5-0 thumping of Canada, Maradona told reporters he would "run naked to the Obelisk in Buenos Aires." I think it's safe to say nobody wants to see that! Asked why he didn't include Leo Messi in the lineup against Canada, Maradona said if something had happened to him "I'd have been shot - you know where."

To be fair, that's probably true. Speaking of the World Cup, who knew it was so hard to find a North Korea soccer jersey?

Cell Mates

Remember that episode of Seinfeld where Kramer's phone number is a couple of digits away from the movie listings number?

Meet Rajesh Kumar, a 24-year-old engineer from Delhi, India - as Fanhouse tells us, when he lived in Cleveland he wound up with the old cell phone of recently fired Cavaliers coach Mike Brown. Chris Tomasson writes that initially Kumar would get calls and texts here and there from people thinking they were contacting Brown, but it was never too full on.

Then Brown got fired.

"I have gotten over 150 phone calls since (Monday)," Kumar told Fanhouse. "I took a nap and I woke up and I had 37 voice mail messages."

The best part of the story is that Kumar is a cricket fan who had never heard of Brown or even LeBron James, so he had to resort to Google to figure out what was going on! Has this ever happened to you? I would imagine you could have some fun with it once you figured it out!

Big Boys

Two Boston pro athletes - David "Big Papi" Ortiz and Glen "Big Baby" Davis - were both in the news this week and really the only thing these two stories have in common is that both Ortiz and Davis' nicknames start with the word "Big"...

First, Big Papi:

After another slow start to the season, David Ortiz has finally started to get it going in Boston and he now has 10 homers on the season. As Wezen-Ball.com points out though, he takes his time getting around the bases. Larry Ganillo says Ortiz is the first player this season to take more than 30 seconds to run the bases after putting one into the stands (and in fact, has six of the 10 slowest times this season), taking 30.59-seconds to get from home to home against Tampa Bay.

Now, Big Baby:

If you've been watching the NBA Playoffs you'll know that the Boston Celtics are battling the Orlando Magic in the East Final and risk becoming the second Boston team this spring to blow a 3-0 series lead.

Well in game five, 6-foot-9, 289-pound Celtics forward Glen Davis was battling just to stand up after taking an unintentional Dwight Howard elbow to the chops. It happened late in the third quarter when Howard went up with the ball in the Boston end and Davis wound up flat on his back.

It was a scene you see more in hockey than in baseball, but it definitely looked like Davis was trying to walk around on ice - check it out:


I feel bad for that ref - I don't know what I'd do if I saw 289 pounds of unbalanced man coming at me!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Kerrzy's Notebook: Money to Burn

Fancy yourself a sports memorabilia collector? Have you got money to burn?

If you answered "yes" to both of those questions, you'll want to read on. If not, you'll still probably get a kick of out of this story:

First, some background: Former San Diego State University and US Olympic team pitcher Stephen Strasburg was the number one pick at the 2009 MLB draft, going to the Washington Nationals. Since then, he's been putting up dominant numbers in the minor leagues - for example, in four starts with the AAA Syracuse Chiefs he is 3-0 with a 0.39 ERA, allowing just one earned run.

If you think that's impressive, get this - before he's even a rookie, someone out there is prepared to pay a small fortune for his (very) limited edition "Superfractor" rookie card.

The card in question (from the 2010 Bowman Chrome set) is the only one of its kind and is currently being sold on eBay, with the auction ending sometime on Saturday night. As I write this the top bidder is willing to dish out $16,001, which as Yahoo!'s Big League Stew reports, is about the cost of a new vehicle.

It's no Honus Wagner, but $16,000 for the card of an unproven prospect (albeit one who will probably end up being a superstar) seems a bit intense, doesn't it?

What if he gets to the Major Leagues and totally flops?

I guess we'll find out, at least in the short term, sometime between June 8th and 10th when Strasburg is penciled in to get a start against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Kerrzy's Notebook: Dives, Bowls and Goals

Dives

If there’s one unfortunate thing people associate with soccer (and Dan Carcillo), it’s “simulation,” or the act of diving.

There’s nothing that frustrates spectators and fans alike more than a high-end player flopping around like he’s just been shot, only to get up and take the ensuing free kick. Well, with the 2010 World Cup less than a month away, ESPN's Ravi Ubha has compiled a list of the 10 worst divers in soccer.

From Cristiano Ronaldo to Didier Drogba to Steven Gerrard, divers come in all shapes and sizes when it comes to pro soccer – get educated on who to watch for before it’s too late.

In the meantime, here’s a random YouTube clip with some Oscar-worthy material:







Bowls

While everyone else is thinking about the World Cup, Diego Maradona’s mind is, at least partially, somewhere else at the moment.

Britain’s The Daily Telegraph reports that a special request was sent by Argentina’s national football association to the University of Pretoria (where they’ll be based during next month’s tournament) asking for Maradona’s bathrooms to be remodeled.

We’re talking new washbasins, toilet bowls, taps and…luxury toilet seats.

The “E-Bidet” is the model he’s after, which features “a warm air blow-dryer and front and rear bidet wands,” according to the Telegraph, and it retails for over $400! I’m glad I read this, because I think I can honestly say now that I’ve likely heard it all.

By the way, Argentina put the boots to Canada on the weekend in a 5-0 win – ESPN’s Soccernet put it this way on the front page: “Minnows thrashed.”

Okay, so we’re not good at everything. At least we’ve got hockey!

Goals

Days after managing Inter to its third Champions League title, The Special One is already looking ahead to his next challenge.

Jose Mourinho has now won the Champions League with two different clubs, a UEFA Cup and six domestic league titles in three countries – and his next goal is the “grand slam.”

The legend of Mourinho, or “The Special One,” began with Portuguese side Porto where he won a UEFA Cup one year and a Champions League title the next. He then went to England’s Chelsea where he won back-to-back league titles (four straight league titles from Porto to Chelsea). His latest stint had him with Italian side Internazionale where he won two Serie A titles and the treble this season (league, Coppa Italia, Champions League).

What’s next? Real Madrid.

Mourinho told Spanish newspaper Marca on Monday that he wants to be the first coach or player to win a league title in each of the “three important leagues” – England, Italy and Spain.

One thing you have to admire about Jose Mourinho is his passion to be the best – he’s just won three trophies with a team and he’s ready to move on to the next challenge.

Seventeen trophies, not to mention countless individual honors, since 2002 is hard to argue with!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Kerrzy's Notebook: The "New" Courtside

One of the most famous arenas in all of sports is getting a facelift –which includes the addition of the biggest sports oxymoron since the term “instant replay.”

New Yorkers will be introduced to “premium nosebleed” seats at Madison Square Garden starting in 2013-14 after an $850-million transformation project.

Yes, starting in a few seasons there will be front row seats, decent middle seats, nosebleeds and…”premium” nosebleeds.

Photobucket

Those seats will be in the form of two sky bridges that’ll be built five stories above the ice – part of a project that’ll see MSG build an entirely new arena inside the shell of the famous building, says the NY Post.

Some of the other additions to the arena will be a redone upper bowl with the incline being increased to give fans a better view, and some suites under the playing surface which were reportedly sold for upwards of $1-million.

It’s interesting to see what other cities are doing with their old rinks when we’re going through a debate of what to do here in Edmonton – build a new rink or stay with what we’ve got.

The idea of just rebuilding the entire rink from the inside out is kind of cool, except that I think we’re looking for a little bit more room in a new building here, not to mention all of the “entertainment complex” additions.

Speaking of the Oilers, TSN reports that former Oil owner Peter Pocklington is offering up two of his Stanley Cup rings as part of a plea deal in a bankruptcy fraud case.

Reports say he’ll also give up some artwork and pay the US taxes he owes in exchange for probation and six months of house arrest (he could have faced 10 years in prison).

He should have offered up Wayne Gretzky too!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Kerrzy's Notebook: Random Friday Thoughts

Facecrook?

Remember the Montreal journalist who had his car trashed by rowdy Flyers fans last weekend?

Yeah, he found the guy that jacked his license plate…on Facebook. Not sure how he did it, but Pat Hickey apparently found pictures of the guy, Dan Flannery, showing off the Quebec plate. He's giving the guy a chance though: Hickey says he won't press charges if the vandal makes a public apology and donates $1,000 to a Philadelphia charity.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Flyers parent company, Comcast-Spectacor, has turned the name of the suspect to Philly police and the team is "ecstatic" about Hickey getting to the bottom of this.

When will people learn that if you steal some stuff, you shouldn't post pictures on your Facebook account? What a dummy!

Creepy Mascots

When did mascots get so damn creepy?

Organizers of the 2012 Olympics in London have unveiled the two characters that they hope will bring in over $23-million in merchandise revenue.

The Telegraph describes the mascots, Wenlock and Mandeville, as "two parts Pokemon to one part lava lamp with yellow 'Taxi' lights on their foreheads," which is fairly accurate. The names have significance in England as "Much Wenlock in Shrophshire is considered by many the birthplace of the modern Olympics" and "Stoke Mandeville's famous spinal injuries unit...was where the Paralympic movement began," says the Telegraph.

It's probably tough designing something like this, but these two creatures will no doubt make some kids cry. I wonder what they'd come up with if the Olympics were here?

Singing for LeBron

While there are many people that believe LeBron James has played his last game as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers, the good people of Cleveland are doing everything they can to make sure he stays.

That includes, as you'll see below, breaking out in song.


If a bunch of local celebrities embarrassing themselves doesn't show King James how much they love him, nothing will!

Favre Watch 2010

Well, it's that time of year again; the birds are chirping, fair skinned people are getting sun burns and people are once again wondering whether or not Brett Favre will be back for another season in the NFL.

As of right now it's anyone's guess, Minnesota coach Brad Childress says he hasn't spoken with Favre yet, but the 40-year-old has finally given us something to grasp onto. ESPN reports Favre told the Southern Miss baseball team that if they make the College World Series again this year, he'll be back with the Vikings for another season.

I guess it's fitting that the Golden Eagles aren't a sure shot to make the CWS - Favre isn't the type to give out clear-cut answers when it comes to this type of thing.

Southern Miss has a 30-20 record so far and will need to pick it up if the Vikings want Favre at pivot this season.

Hustle and Throw

Quite the night for New York Mets outfielder Angel Pagan on Wednesday.

He started by hitting the first inside-the-park home run in Nationals Park history and then started the Mets' first triple play since 2002. That's the first time in 55 years that a player has done both of those things in a single game.

The last guy to do it was Phillies shortstop Ted Kazanski on Sept. 25, 1955 against the New York Giants. Here's a look at both plays:



Breakin' the Law

Hey NFL, you think you're tough? Well, the NBA is so badass even the parents of players are getting arrested!

There were three NBA-related arrests this past week, starting last Saturday when the mother of Phoenix Suns forward Amar'e Stoudemire was taken into custody for not having an "ignition interlock device" on her vehicle. Apparently she's had some trouble with DUI's in the past and told the officer that pulled her over that she was on her way to an alcohol class.

The Arizona Republic reports she's been in jail "dozens of times" for everything from drug possession to prostitution.

On Tuesday, the stepfather of Boston Celtics guard Marquis Daniels not only got arrested, but he was also "Tased" at Orlando's Amway Arena during game two of the East Final. Willie Buie was charged with resisting arrest after officers responded to a disturbance in Buie's section. The Taser was needed when Buie wouldn't let officers handcuff him.

A little later on Tuesday, NY Knicks guard Wilson Chandler was charged with criminal possession of marijuana when he was pulled over for driving without his headlights.

Take that NFL!

Kerrzy's Notebook: Saying No

A big story this week, as the World Hockey Championships continued in Germany, was an article posted on the IIHF website by director of communications Szymon Szemberg.

It’s called “Saying No to Your Country,” with the subhead: “Too often players forget what brought them riches and fame.”

As you can imagine, it comes off sounding a bit over the top and stupid, going after players like Sidney Crosby, Henrik Zetterberg and Nik Backstrom for not suiting up for their respective national teams once they were out of the playoffs.

First of all, the World Championships is a bit of a joke in that you never get the best players available to come out. When the tournament happens in the same year as the Olympics, it really looks like the “second tier” competition that it is.

Szemberg says there’s no way a 22-year-old like Crosby could be too tired to play in the Worlds. Lets break it down: Crosby has played in 201 games in the past two years including this year’s Olympics – roughly 35 more games during the same timeframe than Ilya Kovalchuk, who is playing for Russia.

Not only that, but he scored a pretty big goal for Canada in the important tournament this year.

Listen to this garbage from Szemberg:

“Tired is a miner who works in a damp pit in Miktivka, in the Donetsk Plateau in Ukraine, who never sees daylight and who provides living for a family of five in a modest two-room apartment. That is tired. Tired is a divorced mother with two young kids who double shifts as a nurse assistant and cleaning lady to make ends meet.”

His list of “excuses” from players who turned down their country’s invitations (100 to 120, says Szemberg) is just as ridiculous. Here are a couple of the real gems:

-I am injured (…but had my team advanced to the next round of the playoffs I would have played)

-I don’t want to leave my family. Three weeks is an awfully long time away from home.

-I have no contract for next season. If I am injured, my career is in jeopardy.

Yeah, belittle a guy for making a decision based on wanting to spend time with his family. The IIHF should be embarrassed that something like this is on the website and therefore representative of the views of the entire organization.

The latest development here is that Hockey Canada has now formally complained to the IIHF about Szemberg’s article. Later in the day, IIHF president Rene Fasel apparently called Sidney Crosby's agent and apologized. Pat Brisson says Fasel sounded sincere - but there are other reports that he approved the article before it was posted, so who knows.

Maybe the NHL should stop sending players for a year – then they’ll realize how lucky they are that anyone comes out.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Kerrzy's Notebook: Brotherly Love?

After ousting the President's Trophy winners and then the defending Stanley Cup champions, things have seemingly taken a turn for the worse for the Montreal Canadiens.

The Habs opened up the Eastern Conference Final with a 6-0 loss in Philadelphia against the Flyers on Sunday and have now been outscored 9-0 in the first two games of the series. The real low point though might have come after that game one loss, at least for one Montreal journalist.

ESPN reports longtime Canadian sports writer Pat Hickey emerged from the Wachovia Center late on Sunday night to find his car, a 1999 Honda Accord, covered with beer cans and other assorted bits of garbage. Flyers fans had also slashed his back tire, ripped his bug guard off, snapped a hubcap and stole his Quebec license plates.

He wasn't the only one to feel the wrath of Philly fans either - a Radio Canada broadcast was interrupted when someone pulled some cords from a mobile broadcast unit and poured beer onto the control panel. Brotherly love my elbow.

Hickey addressed the incident in the Gazette on Tuesday, calling out the idiots among the fan bases of both Philly and his home base.

"Some Philadelphia fans - not unlike fans in other cities including Montreal - have never learned that there's a fine line between supporting a team and criminal behaviour," Hickey writes. He says he was disgusted by the "riot" in Montreal after the Habs' game seven win over the Penguins last week and the conduct of some fans in Philly - adding there's nothing wrong with chirping opposition fans but when it gets physical, it's beyond acceptable.

Hickey is absolutely right - this kind of thing is just stupid. We all know it's a lot of fun to beak, especially when it's a blowout, but sometimes you wonder how different it would be if they didn't serve booze at sporting events as "liquid courage" more than likely accounts for 90% of this type of over-the-line stuff.

I wonder if any of the people that enjoy smashing stuff in Montreal will seek out some revenge when the Philly media descends upon La Belle Province.

More importantly, can the Habs rebound from two bad losses? I guess we'll find out on Thursday.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Kerrzy's Notebook: Big Whiffer

When he's not doing Gillette commercials with Tiger Woods and Derek Jeter, Roger Federer plies his trade on the tennis court as the number one player in the world - but even the best have their off days.

Federer's biggest rival scored an "interesting" win over him this past weekend at the Madrid Masters, proving once and for all that no matter how good you are at something, you can look silly.

It really is something to see: Federer launches a serve towards Rafael Nadal, he returns it, Federer tees up a forehand - and misses completely!


"Well, I've had more beautiful match points... I decided to take a chance, and it didn't pay off."






With the win, the Spaniard improved to 15-0 this season on clay and captured a record 18th Masters title - one more than Andre Agassi and two more than Federer.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Kerrzy's Notebook: Random Friday Thoughts

Congrats Rush!

It was a benchmark season for the Edmonton Rush this year in the National Lacrosse League - their first playoff game, their first playoff win and now some individual accolades for members of the organization.

First up, Derek Keenan took home his second GM of the Year Award and his second Les Bartley Award as coach of the year (sharing it with Washington Stealth coach Chris Hall). On the field, Brodie Merrill is the NLL's Transition Player of the Year after putting up 17 goals (tying a career high) and 36 assists (a career high), while picking up 190 loose balls. Merrill was also the only Edmonton Rush player named to the league's All-Pro team, earning First Team honours.

It looks like the Rush are definitely heading in the right direction after a pretty darn good year - they were just a game away from playing for the NLL's Champion's Cup this season and I'm sure they're looking forward to next year.

Good work fellas!

Not Doing Enough?

Vancouver Canucks defenceman Willie Mitchell is sounding off on NHL Vice President Colin Campbell over what he calls the inconsistent way the league handles head shots.

Speaking for the first time since he was sidelined in January by an Evgeni Malkin hit from behind, Mitchell said he was disappointed in the league and in Campbell, who didn't fine or suspend the Penguins forward for the hit. Mitchell missed the rest of the season and the playoffs with a concussion.

"As we've seen (he's) been very inconsistent with how he's handled himself in those situations," Mitchell said, referring to a long list of suspensions and non-suspensions that have us all scratching our heads trying to figure out what is and isn't allowed. Here's the dagger though:

"I think the league needs to, along with our players' union, take a look at how they run the discipline in the league. Colin Campbell had a lot of relationships with general managers and ownership and stuff like that. It's very tough to hand down decisions on matters like this when you are friends with people."

Mitchell's solution? Bring in a third party to make the discipline decisions.

You know what, I think that's a pretty good idea. It's clear the league has lost a handle on how to keep players in line and I'd say they've probably lost the confidence of their fans. Head shots will be a part of the game until the league makes it too uncomfortable for players like Matt Cooke to bare.

Until then though, we'll just keep spinning the Wheel of Justice.

Cheering for the Enemy

The Toronto Star's Cathal Kelly penned (or typed, I guess) a piece on Wednesday ahead of Montreal's series clinching win over the Penguins that gave me a good little laugh.

It was called "7 reasons Torontonians can't root for the Habs tonight," proliferating and reasserting Toronto's hatred for it's fellow Original Six team (the better, more successful one). It starts by saying if aliens show up to take over the planet, he'll stand and fight - but if they announce that the Habs are the first to go, he's willing to talk.

Now, I like this not only because it's funny - but also, I don't like the whole "Canada's team" argument. Just because a Canadian team is left that isn't yours doesn't mean you should drop any hatred you have for them just so a Canadian team wins!

Some other gems from this article include Kelly pointing out that either way, people in Montreal will riot and break stuff, and the possibility that a popular French Canadian singer might feel a "sudden infusion of creative vigour" should the Habs win.

King of the Cavs-stle?

Pardon the lame title - but this is a serious issue for Ohio sports fans.

Despite a 27 point, 19 rebound, 10 assist performance by LeBron James on Thursday night, the Cleveland Cavaliers bowed out of the NBA playoffs with a 94-85 loss to the Boston Celtics, losing the series four games to two.

With the Cavs out of the playoffs, the King James era in Ohio could be over. LBJ is a free agent this summer, along with big names like Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, and if he leaves that'll deal a huge blow to the Cavs obviously...but it wouldn't be the first time the city has suffered.

Sports Illustrated's Michael Rosenberg wrote this week that "good sports things never happen in Cleveland" as he discusses the prospect of a LeBron-less Cavaliers team. He's right - the last Cleveland team to win a championship was the 1964 Browns - that's 46 years ago!

The article is definitely worth a read, but this pretty much sums up what it's like to be a Cleveland sports fan: "long periods of suffering broken up by brief periods of feeling hopeful, followed immediately by worse suffering."

If LeBron James leaves the Cavaliers, it'll be just another thing to add to the list.

McGwire Stripped

It has come to my attention that former MLB superstar and noted steroid user Mark McGwire has been stripped of one of his highest accolades.

Unfortunately for purists of the game, it wasn't any of McGwire's baseball-related accolades - it was his highway.

USA Today reports that Missouri lawmakers gave final approval on Thursday night to rename the "Mark McGwire Highway," a stretch of the I-70, in St. Louis. It was renamed in 1998 after McGwire hit 70 home runs in what was a historic season until Barry Bonds broke his record in 2001. They're replacing the slugger-turned-batting-coach with Missouri author Mark Twain, who the highway was originally named after.

I wonder if there's anything named after Bonds?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Kerrzy's Notebook: Sleepless in Seattle

There's a controversy brewing in Seattle involving the MLB's Mariners, a local sports icon and a newspaper...oh, and naps.

It all began last Saturday when, after an extra-innings loss to the LA Angels, two anonymous Mariners players told a reporter from the Tacoma News Tribune that Ken Griffey Jr. missed a chance to pinch hit because he was asleep in the clubhouse. The players said he went back there in the fifth inning to get get a jacket and didn't come back - falling asleep in his chair.

One of the players went more into it, saying Griffey has a tough time sleeping at home and is more comfortable in the clubhouse. Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu denied that the 40-year-old was asleep, telling ESPN that not using him was a coach's decision.

The team held a players-only meeting on Tuesday to deal with this situation and support Griffey, who was apparently quite upset and hurt by the story. Mariners DH Mike Sweeney organized the meeting and "chastised the anonymous young players for speaking about something that had happened in the clubhouse."

Since the report was published, Griffey has taken the high road, trying not to turn this into anything more than it is, but you know he wants to know who these "anonymous sources" are:

"I can't win this, and I'm not trying to. I don't have a blog. I'm just hoping that whoever said it is man enough to come to me and talk about it. It's my word against two unnamed sources. It is what it is and I will just let it go."

Further to that, Sweeney is suggesting that the News Tribune's Larry LaRue might have made this whole thing up (to distract from their woeful start to the season, perhaps?):

"We don't think there are two players who said that [about Griffey sleeping]. I challenged everyone in that room, if they said that, to stand up and fight me. No one stood up."

The latest development here is that the News Tribune has been shutout by the Mariners players - refusing to speak to the media until the reporter from that newspaper left the room. Larry LaRue is the one that sparked this whole controversy and, like a good reporter, refuses to name his anonymous sources (if there are any).

This is a sticky situation for the Mariners, but they need to look on the bright side here. At least it made them newsworthy for a whole week!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Kerrzy's Notebook: Medical Bills

Everyone's (Twitter's) favourite NHL player agent is at it again - this time taking the Tampa Bay Lightning to task:

"Everyone thought that with respectable new owner, things would change in Tampa. Time for Mr. Vinik to step up and do the right thing here."

Octagon Hockey's Allan Walsh is referring to a situation facing one of his clients, Stephane Veilleux, who is being left out to dry when it comes to the medical bills for a postseason shoulder surgery.

Walsh says the team is claiming it's not financially responsible for the procedure, which will treat a "spinoglenoid cyst," a condition that compresses a nerve in the shoulder causing a loss of strength. Tampa Bay Online says the cyst could be the result of a torn labrum in the shoulder.

So - both sides agree that surgery is required but the team is implying that the injury isn't hockey-related, which would make it Veilleux's problem.

Walsh told Tampa Bay Online that Veilleux was cleared in his postseason physical exam in Minnesota at the end of last season and again before training camp in Tampa this season, but at his end-of-the-season physical the team's doctors discovered the problem. He says the Lightning have no evidence to prove that the player in question injured himself away from the rink and shouldn't be hanging him out to dry.

"In all my years in this business, I have never seen an NHL team with such total lack of respect for the health and well being of one of their own. Here is a player with integrity, honour and a strong work ethic which is being completely abandoned by the team he played for this year."

According to Walsh, the Lightning say they can't pinpoint an exact moment on the ice, so it must be a non-hockey injury. He says the team's interim GM, Tom Kurvers, is suggesting that Veilleux injured his shoulder playing ping-pong at one of the Lightning's facilities. The 28-year-old Veilleux is a free agent come July 1st, so getting this sorted out in a timely fashion is key if he hopes to find another place to play for next season.

A lot of people are blowing up Allan Walsh's Twitter account with some fairly interesting points - the most common (it seems) though, is the question of 'would Kurvers pull this if it was Lecavalier, St. Louis or Stamkos needing surgery?'

My guess is NO. Is the fact that Veilleux isn't a superstar, nevermind a guy they're clearly not re-signing, playing into this decision?

To me, this is a despicable situation and one that could do a lot to hurt the team's reputation around the league. Tampa Bay's front office has been a bit of a joke in the past year or two as it is, with squabbling owners and the like often deflecting attention from the on-ice product (which hasn't been great).

Speaking of the on-ice product, we all know that free agency provides general managers a great opportunity to improve their clubs - do the Lightning really think this is a move that will draw players to the organization?

You stay classy, Tom Kurvers.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Kerrzy's Notebook: Stick it, A-Rod

Does the name Dallas Braden ring a bell?

Unless you're a big Oakland Athletics fan, you probably didn't know who he was until this year - for a couple of reasons. I first became aware of the 26-year-old, three-year pro, back in April when he made a name for himself by getting into a bit of an altercation with NY Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez.

Rodriguez apparently broke one of the "unwritten rules" of baseball by running across the pitchers mound following an out on April 22nd. That subtle action caused an eruption of anger in the head of Dallas Braden, who gave A-Rod and earful (watch here) and then took his cause to the media afterwards.

Braden on-field:

"Stay off my mound. Stay the [expletive] off my mound! (Throws something, kicks Gatorade cups, throws glove)"

Braden post-game:

"He should probably take a note from his captain over there and realize you don't cross the pitcher's mound in between an inning or during the game. I was just dumbfounded that he would let that slip his mind, being someone of such status."

"I don't care if I'm Cy Young or the 25th man on the roster, if I've got the ball in my hand and I'm on that mound, that's my mound ... He ran across the pitcher's mound foot on my rubber. No, not happening. We're not the door mat anymore."


For his part, A-Rod basically laughed the whole thing off and pointed out that Braden only has "a handful of wins" in his career (18 in 53 starts).

Braden may not have a lot of career wins, but this weekend he was back in the spotlight when he pitched a perfect game in a 4-0 win over the Tampa Bay Rays, his first career complete game. It's just the 18th regular season perfect game in MLB history and the second against the Rays in under a year. In fact, as ESPN reports, Tampa manager Joe Maddon points out he's now been on the wrong side of three perfect games and four no-hitters!

Another cool thing about Braden's big day is that, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the first time a pitcher has tossed a perfect game against a team that entered the day as the best in the league. Not bad!

Anyway, while Alex Rodriguez has pretty much stayed out of this whole "controversy," Braden keeps chirping, even as recently as last week on a Bay Area radio station...and it's getting just silly. Here are some examples - Braden on A-Rod as a player:

"He plays for the name on the back of the jersey, not the front. I don't know if he's noticed, but he doesn't have a name on the back over there so he should play for the name on the front."

Braden on A-Rod dismissing his comments because he's not a veteran player:

"One, I was always told if you give a fool enough rope, he'll hang himself, and with those comments, he had all the rope he needed. No. 2, I didn't know there was a criteria in order to compete against A-Rod."

Braden on wanting to throw down if A-Rod touches his mound again:

"Out of respect to my teammates, out of respect to the game. I think he's probably garnered a new respect for the unwritten rules and the people who hold them close to their game. But I think you're right, we don't do much talking in the 209."

Even Braden's grandmother is chiming in, telling A-Rod to "Stick it."

Braden says they don't do much talking in "the 209," but the very fact that he's been running his mouth for about half a month now tells a bit of a different story. As stupid as this whole thing is, wouldn't it be fun to see A-Rod at least run in the direction of his mound a couple of times when the Yankees and A's meet again in July?

They'd better make sure to have the Philadelphia Phillies security team on hand incase things get out of control!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Kerrzy's Notebook: Random Friday Thoughts

Indecision 2010

The Phoenix Coyotes saga has got to be one of the most ridiculous and drawn-out storylines in the history of sports.

First, they're in financial trouble. Next, the Blackberry guy wants to buy them. It doesn't work out. They got to court. That takes forever, but he eventually loses. The NHL buys the team and puts it on the market. A few groups make legitimate bids with the NHL backing Jerry Reinsdorf, the owner of the Chicago White Sox and Bulls, as their favourite. A watchdog organization comes out and says the Reinsdorf bid is no good, but Glendale city council votes overwhelmingly in favour of it anyway...

And that's where we are right now. As of Thursday night (when I'm writing this) there are now reports that say Glendale is bringing Ice Edge Holdings back to the bargaining table as a backup because the Reinsdorf bid "is in jeopardy" and there's a risk it may fall apart. In fact, ESPN says the proposal has now been abandoned.

That's funny, because Glendale city council voted 5-1 against the Ice Edge bid last month.

The city apparently has to guarantee a bunch of things to the NHL (covering operating losses for next season, etc) before the league will sign on to something like selling the team to Ice Edge, and this is where things get even more interesting.

If things don't work out (quickly) with the city of Glendale, there are rumours that the NHL will try to finalize a purchase agreement with Canadian billionaire (no, not that one) David Thomson and move the team to...Winnipeg.

That, my friends, is the circle of life. Hakuna Matata.

Spittin' Mad

I blogged last Tuesday about the on-ice and off-ice tension in the Ontario Hockey League Final between the Barrie Colts and the Windsor Spitfires, which included indefinite suspensions handed out after game three. Well, the Spitfires swept the series and captured their second straight J. Ross Robertson Cup, but things didn't end there.

The Windsor brass is still livid that the Colts selected Kerby Rychel, son of Spitfires GM Warren Rychel, in the OHL draft last Saturday.

They're so mad, in fact, that Windsor coach Bob Boughner and the rest of his staff refused to shake hands with the Colts coaching staff following their series clinching 6-2 win. Boughner later told the National Post that it was the first time in his career as a player or coach that he's skipped the handshake.

Why are they so mad? Warren Rychel apparently sent a letter to the other OHL general managers saying he wanted to pick his son in the second round - which is apparently a normal practice in the league. That didn't happen though, because the Colts selected Kerby Rychel with the final pick of the opening round.

Oh, the drama!

Tweet, Tweet

Isn't social media fun?

I mean, something like Twitter gives people yet another medium to get quick information, keep up with whatever they're interested in and, in some cases, obsess over celebrities/pro athletes that also use the service. The latest example of this comes to us courtesy of the Toronto Raptors.

You see, Raptors star Chris Bosh will likely be testing the free agent waters this summer, which could deal a devastating blow to his current team after a season where they just barely missed the playoffs. In fact, he's one of a handful of big name players that could find themselves wearing different uniforms next season, joining names like LeBron James and Dwayne Wade.

Bosh added some fuel to the fire this week via Twitter - that is, if you're the type of person who likes to analyze, over analyze (and maybe even over over analyze) the details of a person's Twitter profile.

As TSN reports, a week after "tweeting" Should I stay or should I go?," the former Georgia Tech forward changed his location part of his profile from Toronto to "everywhere" and took out the part that lists him as the captain of the Toronto Raptors. Oh no! Is this a sign of things to come? Has Bosh become some type of omnipresent being? Will that affect his basketball career?

So many questions!

A Tale of Two Quarterbacks

After earning $39-million and leading his Oakland Raiders to a mere seven wins in 31 starts (0.22 win percentage), JaMarcus Russell is now looking for a new job.

Yeah, you read that right - seven wins and $39-million for Russell, the former first overall pick, during his stint with the Raiders. According to ESPN, he becomes only the second number one pick since the draft began in 1967 to be released this quickly into his career.

Russell hasn't had an ideal run in the NFL - his career started with a one-year holdout and he's struggled ever since. Most recently, he was fined for being overweight when he showed up to training camp...and then threw just three touchdown passes all season in 12 starts.

On the other side of things: Tim Tebow was drafted 15th overall this year by the Denver Broncos - a move that is already paying off in Colorado.

Laughing in the face of his detractors, the former Florida standout is already leading the league in...jersey sales, which is not bad for a 25th overall pick. He's apparently got the best-selling rookie jersey since the league started keeping track in 2006 and he can thank his alma mater for that as 30% of the orders came from Florida.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Kerrzy's Notebook: Shocking Behaviour

Slowly but surely, Philadelphia Phillies fans are making a real name for themselves this season around the Major Leagues...

Back in April, a guy in the stands intentionally puked on an 11-year-old girl and then punched her dad, an off-duty police captain, in the face before being hauled off. The newest fad? Running onto the field mid-game. You can thank 17-year-old Steve Consalvi for that one, though the outcome of his little escapade may turn other people off from following suit.

Here's what happened:

It was the bottom of the eighth, and the home team was down by four to the visiting St. Louis Cardinals - an eventual 6-3 loss. All of a sudden, Consalvi hopped the fence in the outfield at Citizens Bank Park and began running around like a boy possessed, initially eluding the clutches of a few security guards. His fun wouldn't last much longer though.

Probably tired of chasing the little jerk around, a police officer decided to take it to a "whole notha level" and brought his Taser out.


DOWN GOES CONSALVI! DOWN GOES CONSALVI!

According to Philadelphia Police the officer in question was just following protocol, using his Taser to help arrest a fleeing suspect, but internal affairs is still investigating. Some critics say there was no danger of Consalvi actually getting away, so maybe an electric shock was a little much.

Do you know what the best part of this whole story is though?

ESPN reports that prior to running onto the field, Consalvi called his dad to ask permission to run onto the field. Wayne Consalvi says he told his son he didn't think it was a good idea, but he replied "This would be a once in a lifetime experience!" The elder Consalvi says his son wasn't drunk or on drugs and didn't pull this stunt as a result of a dare or a bet.

What do you think: should the officer have "tased" him? I think so - if you're going to run around on the field like an idiot, you should pay the price!

Kerrzy’s Notebook: Not So Saintly?

There’s trouble a-brewing in New Orleans these days.

Months after an impressive season ended with a Super Bowl, the former director of security for the NFL’s New Orleans Saints, Geoffrey Santini, has filed a lawsuit regarding the theft of prescription drugs from the team’s drug locker.

Santini, who is also a former FBI agent, refers to the alleged culprits as Senior Staff Member’s A and B in his lawsuit, but reports are surfacing that head coach Sean Payton and his assistant Joe Vitt are the ones being accused of stealing 130 Vicodin tablets over a four month period early last year.

According to Sports Illustrated, each NFL team’s training staff keeps prescription medication “under lock and key” and gives it out if the team doctor prescribes it. At the end of the year, each team then has to account for the drugs it gives out.

It gets more interesting: Saints GM Mickey Loomis could also be in trouble for attempting to cover up the theft of prescription drugs, which is a felony.

Santini claims that Vitt was being prescribed Vicodin for a medical problem, but was stealing additional pills and that Payton didn’t have a prescription but was using them.

The SI article says Loomis had a security camera installed that caught Vitt stealing pills, but that when Santini told Loomis this was a crime that had to be reported – he was told to “let it go.”

Could it get more interesting, do you think? Absolutely.

Apparently Santini told the team that for $2-million he wouldn’t file the suit, but the team didn’t budge.

Basically this is what it all boils down to: If Payton and Vitt could be in big trouble for stealing prescription drugs and Loomis could be reprimanded for covering it up. If they didn’t do it though, we’ve then got a former FBI agent that made up a story with some big time accusations.

Either way, it should be fun to see how this all unravels.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Kerrzy's Notebook: Bad Blood

As the countdown to the Memorial Cup in Brandon, Manitoba, continues, things are heating up one province over.

Here's the background: The Barrie Colts are on the brink of elimination in Windsor tonight, as the Spitfires look to clinch their second straight J. Ross Robertson Cup as OHL champs - but that's not why people are talking about this series.

It's been a strange one right from the start - game one was highlighted by Barrie fans throwing boxes of macaroni and cheese onto the ice after a 4-3 overtime loss. "The easy-prep meals, intended to be used as noise-makers, were to be donated to the local food bank," says the Belleville Intelligencer. That plan, however, was scrapped with "thundersticks and clappers" being supplied instead.

So let me get this straight - the Barrie Colts encouraged fans to bring boxes of macaroni, use them as noise-makers and then donate them on the way back out of the rink? Maybe it's just me, but that sounds a little bit ridiculous. After scoring the OT-winner, Windsor's (and maybe soon Edmonton's) Taylor Hall said he thought about taking some home, which probably just riled up the fans even more!

Fast forward to game three - Adam Henrique scored three times and Hall put up three points in a 5-2 Windsor win, but things got really interesting in the final 50 seconds of the third period.

It started with Windsor's Adam Wallace running into Colts forward Matt Kennedy and then punching him repeatedly. That was followed by Barrie's Darren Archibald running Spitfires goaltender Philipp Grubauer and Zac Rinaldo, fresh off a 12-game suspension, getting into an altercation with an official. Wallace, Archibald and Rinaldo were each suspended indefinitely and both clubs were fined $5,000 for the incidents.


Off the ice there's been some interesting happenings too, with the Colts pulling a fast one on the Spitfires at the OHL draft this past weekend.

They did so by choosing Kerby Rychel, who was rated as a second round pick at best says the National Post, with the final pick of the first round. What's so controversial about that, you ask? Well, the Detroit Belle Tire winger is the son of Windsor general manager and co-owner Warren Rychel!

The Post says that most OHL teams invite prospects out for a look at the town and give them a rundown on the organization that they may soon be a part of, something the Colts never did for Rychel. His dad apparently made it clear that he'd be choosing his son with his team's second round pick and there's a so-called "gentleman's agreement" when it comes to family ties.

If anything, this should make for an exciting game four - especially if the game is out of reach early on!

Kerrzy's Notebook: Bruins/Flyers or Tyson/Holyfield?

Marc Savard is really making a name for himself in the first two games of his playoff season.

The Boston Bruins forward was the victim of a Matt Cooke cheap shot back in March, missing the final 18 games of the regular season and the first round of the playoffs - 24 games in total - before returning to the lineup this weekend for the start of Boston's second round series with the Philadelphia Flyers.

Savard made an immediate impact in his return, blasting a shot past Philly goaltender Brian Boucher to secure a game one overtime victory, but his name was being mentioned for different reasons on Monday night.

"He bit me. Men don't bite."

Those are the words of Flyers grinder Dan Carcillo, who claims Savard chomped down on his finger during a scrum about six minutes into the second period of a 3-2 Boston win.

"Last time I was bit was in grade school - it's not a good feeling and it's pretty cowardly."

As Savard pointed out after the game though, Carcillo isn't the most honest player in the game and has been known to flash his acting skills here and there.

"Under the pile he tried to pull out my front teeth - if that's a bite, I don't know what to say. I don't know if he wanted me to look like him, but he pulled on them that's for sure. He embellishes a lot of stuff so I think that's what's happened there."

Here's the thing, I've never been at the bottom of a doggy pile with someone jamming their fingers into my mouth in a threatening manner...but anything you do in that situation short of opening wider could be considered a bite, couldn't it?

Also, lets be real here: if you put your stinky, hockey gloved finger into someone's mouth you pretty much deserve it. There aren't many things more smelly than a well-used hockey glove.

So did Savard bite Carcillo? If he did, it wouldn't be the first time.