Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Kerrzy's Notebook: Going Upstairs

For all the progression we’ve seen in the NHL in the past few years, there is still, in my opinion, one aspect of the game that could do with an upgrade – video review.

There’s one problem with the current video review system, and the word “inconclusive” pretty much sums it up.

A quick YouTube search reveals plenty of examples of a goalie’s body blocking the camera, a goalie’s glove smothering the puck on (or over) the line, or the “war room” simply not seeing enough camera angles to tell for sure whether a goal has been scored.

And I think I might have the answer.

I recently spoke with Christian Holzer of Cairos Technology, a Germany company that has developed a form of goal-line technology for soccer, about crossover potential into hockey.

Here’s how it works:

Thin cables are installed underneath the playing surface, which generate a low magnetic field, and there’s a sensor in the ball (or puck) that sends a signal to receivers when the ball (or puck) crosses the goal line. At that point, the referee is notified by a signal on his watch that a goal has been scored – all in a split second.
Photobucket

“The system is measuring position, it doesn’t care in which product it is integrated, so it works in ice – that’s not an issue,” Holzer says. “The housing can be a soccer ball, it can be an American football, it can be a puck – it doesn’t care.”

“We can implement it into hockey, that’s not an issue. If you know somebody who can help us there, we are more than happy to talk to them!”

As for cost, Holzer says it’s not a big investment for a sports federation to bring this technology into their game.

“The business model we suggested was that we are charging the federation with 25% of their average referee costs per game for using the system. That includes everything – services, installation, hardware maintenance, software and so on.”

While I applaud the NHL for being as open to change as it has been, after speaking with Mr. Holzer I feel this is something the league should at least take a look at.

I’ve done some research into all of the goal-line technologies available right now and this is the only one that seemingly eliminates the problem of not getting the right camera angle, or not knowing where the puck is. To me, it’s a problem that creeps up frequently enough that if there is a solution, the NHL should act on it.

Oh, and don’t worry – there’s no glowing streak that follows the puck around. In fact, Holzer says no one is even really aware that the system is being used.

What do you think – should the NHL look into this form of goal-line technology, or leave the current system alone?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Kerrzy's Notebook: Pit Stop Redemption!

Well folks - mine is a story of redemption...

It's not your traditional rags-to-riches sports story, but I had some fun on Thursday afternoon after the Capital Ex parade and became just a little bit more manly than I was when I woke up on that fateful day.

I was asked by my boss to take part in the "Honda Edmonton Indy Media Pit Stop Challenge" in the heart of the downtown - an event put together by Honda and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Now, before we even get to the event itself, lets talk about the journey there.

Forgetting that it was parade day, I drove up and down trying to find a damn parking spot, and eventually ended up with half of my car on the grass in a makeshift parking spot next to some other people (which I paid for!). I ran down the sidewalk to try and make it to Rice Howard Way by 12:30 and suddenly realized I'd have to cross the parade route to get there - which, thankfully, other people were also doing at the time.

Photobucket

With all that in my rear-view mirror I finally got to the scene of the event only to find out I didn't have a partner, so I'd be paired up with one of the actual pit-crew guys. Bonus, right? Only if I didn't bite the big one on my turn...

Here's how it worked: There was a tire mounted on this wall and you had to get the nut off with the torque-gun thing, put the tire down, pick up another tire and screw the nut back on with the gun thing. Yes, the gun thing. I'm very good with cars if you didn't know.

After watching the first few people have a go, it was finally my turn.

Photobucket

With the emcee of the event and Canadian Indy Car driver Paul Tracy watching on, I proceeded to totally bung it up and register a time of well over a minute - far longer than anyone else. They all had a good laugh at my expense and I hoped really hard that the ground would swallow me up, or that something crazy would happen nearby that we could all turn our attention to...but that didn't happen. Instead, I watched the rest of the participants go through the motions and waited to re-embarrass myself during round two.

In the second round everyone was better, including myself as it turned out. When my turn came around, I got down in front of that tire and torqued the heck out of it, cutting my time by well over half! That was nice, but I was still pretty thoroughly embarrassed by my first-round flop and Tracy was long-gone by the time I got up on stage for the second time - but he'd factor in the story a little later on.

Once everyone was done, they tabulated the scores and we all lined up for a group picture and the presentation of the first, second and third place trophies.

To be honest, I can't really remember who came in second or third, because when it came time to hand out the first place trophy, they said MY NAME! Imagine that! From total loser to tire changing phenom, all in the span of about half an hour.

For all my hard work, dedication and perseverance, I was presented with a trophy and got to sign Paul Tracy's racing uniform, which (they say) he'll be wearing this weekend.

Photobucket

Even better, I got to cross something off of my "bucket list" - along with a guy from Honda, I got to hand someone a giant, novelty cheque! It was definitely all for a good cause - $1,000 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, $1,002 if you count my little pre-competition donation.

From there I had to rush away to a media availability for a few Indy drivers over at the City Centre Airport - one of whom was Mr. Paul Tracy. I could see a little smirk on his face when I leaned in to ask my question, then he nailed me with this: "I'm glad you're not doing my pit stop!"

Ahhhhh good times. Are you heading to the race this weekend?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Kerrzy's Notebook: Random Friday Thoughts

The Favre Files

Now that we’ve got LeBron James out of the way, it’s time to question the future of another pro athlete – who else, but Brett Favre.

With training camp coming up, it’s time for the Favre watch to really crank into high gear…but don’t expect an answer anytime soon from the guy who is notorious for not liking the whole ‘training camp’ process.

The latest is that he wants to come back, but it’s really up to his surgically repaired ankle. Favre told ESPN this week that he hoped his ankle would be a bit better by now, eight weeks after his surgery, but that he would “love to play and be the best [he] can possibly be.”

“When you wake up in the morning and your feet hurt it kind of makes the rest of your body hurt. And if you’ve been sacked 700 times that usually adds to it.”

Earlier this week he was singing a slightly different tune, telling a magazine “playing another year probably isn’t going to make a difference,” as far as his health goes.

Get to used to this for the next couple of weeks folks…and thank LeBron James that this is the first we’re really hearing about it!

The Power of Twitter

Here’s a interesting story from the world of Twitter – the ever controversial (or at least headline-grabbing) Chad Ochocinco got people talking last weekend with a few choice tweets.

The Cincinnati Bengals receiver was coaching a team in the “Entertainer’s Basketball Classic” at Harlem’s Rucker Park on Saturday. That night he decided to hit the town, and what followed involves a fight with a bouncer, Starbucks with the NYPD and “cranberry n red bull”:

Photobucket
Ochocinco refused to talk to reporters about the story afterwards and then later tweeted that the whole thing was a big joke.

“That’s the power of twitter.”

Unsigned Hype

Perhaps “the Ocho” should try and use the power of Twitter to help out his boy T.O. land a job…

Terrell Owens was with Ochocinco at that basketball tournament all weekend and took some time to vent a little bit about the reputation he’s got around the league as a “troublemaker.”

“Some of the gold boys that they kind of highlight throughout the course of the season, those are the guys that are getting in trouble [off the field]. Somehow I get lumped into those topics, which blows my mind. I’ve never been in any trouble. I know right from wrong. I try to make the right choices and judgments when I’m out in the public.”

Owens is obviously referring to guys like Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger with those comments – Big Ben has faced some serious allegations this off-season, but has managed to avoid having any charges go through. Apart from him, there are tons of NFLers getting into trouble for one thing or another on any given week.

With T.O., the problem isn’t the off-field stuff though – it’s the sideline spats with teammates and such over the course of his career that might have some GM’s wondering if they should take the risk. Or maybe it’s his stats – 55 catches for 829 yards and five touchdowns.

“It’s almost like I didn’t play last year…It’s not like I can’t play. There is some type of influence that they’re making on the minds of teams and owners and GMs.”

Whatever the case, Owens says he’ll be ready to play as soon as someone signs him – and I’m sure they will. It’s interesting to see how a bad reputation can follow a guy though…

Nuts and Bolts

The World’s Fastest Man won’t have The London Eye on him at next month’s Crystal Palace Diamond League meeting – and organizers can blame the taxman.

Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt decided to skip the London meet because the money wasn’t right – it’s not that they weren’t going to pay him what he wanted, but his agent told him he would actually lose money by competing!

How could he lose money, you ask? His agent Ricky Simms says that in Britain, foreign sports stars have to pay taxes on their worldwide endorsements – which he says is pushing more and more big stars in other sports away from Britain. So, if I understand this correctly – Bolt would be taxed on the money he’s making from every sponsor he has, even though he’s just there running a race and then leaving?

Seems fishy, but don’t worry track fans – the rules don’t apply for the Olympics, which are in London in 2012.

The Waiting Game

Okay – so I’m starting to think we will never see Manny Pacquiao vs. Floyd Mayweather Jr.

I’m also starting to wonder if “Money” Mayweather really wants the fight in the first place. Initially when talks broke down, it was because Pacquiao wouldn’t agree to stiffer drug tests than any boxing commission in the land, which included blood being drawn within two weeks of the fight.

Since then, his camp relented and Pacquiao agreed to the conditions (even though it’s a moot point because the Nevada commission said no to blood tests and that’s likely where the fight would be held).

Now, we await the response from Mayweather’s camp. They’ve got until the end of the day today to agree to a deal, otherwise Pacquiao says his camp will start to look for other opponents (Antonio Margarito or Miguel Cotto).

It would be a real shame for the sport of boxing if this fight doesn’t happen – lets be honest, the average person doesn’t care about boxing like they used to back in the glory days. This is a fight that would put the sport back at the forefront even if we're only talking about a few weeks of front-page headlines.

After all the smack talk about steroids from the Mayweather camp, we better see a damn fight!

Celebrate Good Times…Come On!

Did you know that post-goal celebrations actually increase your chances of winning a game?

It may not actually be true, but that was the finding of sports scientists in the Netherlands, published in the Journal of Sports Science (what do they say about jump-kicking opponents, I wonder?).

According to the New Zealand Herald, the researchers found that the “teams with the most exuberant celebrations were more likely to win,” studying goal celebrations during penalty shootouts.

Dr. Gert-Jan Pepping says the enthusiastic behavior of a good old-fashioned celebration gives the rest of the team a positive attitude.

This study is actually kind of funny – Players who looked down after scoring were more likely to be on the losing team.

If a player celebrated by gesturing with both arms, rather than one, the following kicker from the other team was twice as likely to miss.

Come on. Let that be a lesson to you – celebrate with both hands!

Speaking of celebrations…here is a video of all 145 goals from the World Cup (until it’s taken down by someone).






Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Kerrzy's Notebook: Cap'n Crunch

The NHL season has been over for about a month, and the rebuild continues in…Chicago?

It’s not really a “rebuild” per se, but the Stanley Cup Champion Blackhawks have undergone quite a few changes since parading the trophy down Washington and Wacker – and there are likely more changes on the way!

This is the reality of the salary cap world, and the Hawks got an extra dose of that reality this summer, with CapGeek.com reporting that they’re facing a “cap reduction” of $4.15-million because of performance bonus payouts…ahhh the price of success.

At this point, NHLNumbers.com lists Chicago as having 15 players under contract (nine forwards, five defensemen and one goalie) and only $158,000 worth of cap space to work with.

That’s after the team got rid of playoff hero Dustin Byfuglien, Kris Versteeg and five other players! There is more work to be done too, with RFA goalie Antti Niemi taking the team to arbitration at the end of the month.

Last year, Niemi had a 26-7-4 record in the regular season before going 16-6 in the playoffs – all while making just $827,000.

This puts the Chicago brass in a tough spot – they just matched an offer sheet for defenseman Nik Hjalmarsson, which gave him a $2.8-million raise, and Niemi will more than likely see a decently sized raise as well. Even if an arbitrator decided he’s only worth his 2009/10 salary, it would put the Hawks over the cap - so something’s got to give.

One thing the team will have to consider is moving goalie Cristobal Huet. It won’t be easy though, as he’s got a cap hit of $5.625-million for each of the next two seasons and GMs seem to be moving away from paying the big bucks for goaltenders (see Nabokov and Turco). Huet may still end up being Chicago’s number one though, if they’re forced to walk away from an arbitrator’s ruling on Niemi’s worth.

The rumor mill is churning about what other moves the team could make to create some much-needed breathing room, and it looks like Patrick Sharp could be the latest casualty of Chicago’s cap crunch.

Sharp is due $4.1-million (with a $3.9-million cap hit) next season and is coming off his fourth straight year with at least 20 goals (20, 36, 26, 25). He’s not crazy overpaid and therefore would be a solid asset for any number of team’s out there, especially a group that’s looking for that final piece of the puzzle.

The other option involves moving defenseman Brian Campbell, but he’s got a no-trade clause and a $7.14-million cap hit for the next four seasons…and his numbers don’t exactly justify paying him that much money. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a good player – but that’s a lot of money for “good.”

What to do?!

In a perfect world, the Hawks would be able to dupe some sucker into taking Huet’s contract and Campbell would get upset and demand a trade (and again, they’d be able to dupe some sucker into taking on a big contract). That would give them a whopping $12.76-million of extra cash this summer, which would be a good start!

It seems like subtraction has been the big story this off-season, instead of addition…

If YOU were the GM, what moves would YOU make?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Kerrzy's Notebook: Fatheads and Fines

A week after "The Decision," the fallout from "The Letter" continues...

Remember when Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert ripped into LeBron James (in Comic Sans MS, no less) on the team's website, following the announcement that he'd be leaving Ohio to join the Miami Heat? Well, that open letter has opened up a whole other set of storylines to follow in these, the dog days of summer.

Since posting "The Letter," Gilbert has been fined by the league, he's faced criticism from Jesse Jackson, and somehow he's gained some street cred with Cavaliers fans. Not to mention the whole "Fatheads" thing...

Starting with the fine, NBA commissioner David Stern says Gilbert's response was "a little bit extreme," which is why he is making him pay $100,000 for it. Stern said he wasn't totally happy with how James presented his final decision though, since he told the Cavs he was leaving just minutes before the one-hour ESPN special began. In fact, Stern called it "ill-conceived, badly produced, and poorly executed," but that's no excuse for what Gilbert said.

Gilbert's comments also led to Jesse Jackson saying he spoke like a man with a "slave master mentality," saying the Cavs owner treated the situation as if he sees LeBron as a "runaway slave." In response, Gilbert said he strongly disagreed with the reverend's comments, but that's all he was going to say. Stern chimed in on this one too, saying Jackson may have been well-meaning, but he was mistaken this time around.

As for the 'street cred' - a group of Cavaliers fans have offered to pitch in to help Gilbert pay the NBA-imposed fine. While most of us were left scratching our heads after reading "The Letter," a team spokesman says they've received "thousands" of emails and phone calls since the fine was dished out by the league. Weird eh?

Gilbert says he'll pay the fine on his own, but he appreciates the gesture from the fans.

Now, onto the most bizarre storyline I've seen since King James vanquished his throne: Dan Gilbert is apparently getting historical on LeBron through one of the companies he owns, called "Fathead."

If you're unfamiliar with that company, they make life sized wall stickers of professional athletes for you to decorate your room with. Well, not surprisingly, the LeBron James "fathead" (which is funny on its own) has gone from retailing at about $100 to $17.41. What's significant about that, you ask? According to Bloomberg, that's the year that colonial army officer Benedict Arnold offered to surrender West Point to the British for money during the Revolutionary War ("you simply don't deserve this kind of cowardly betrayal").

Photobucket

The other LBJ sticker goes for $17.76, which I've determined (from a list of things that happened in that year I found on Wikipedia) to be the year that the Liberty Bell rings for the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence.

Is that supposed to represent Cleveland moving on from the King James era?

It's all pretty strange if you ask me. However, there is one more thing - and it may be the worst thing of all: TSN is apparently planning a hockey-themed "The Decision" featuring Ilya Kovalchuk...

God help us.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Kerrzy's Notebook: Random Friday Thoughts

Purple Drank

JaMarcus Russell’s fall from grace continued week – the former Oakland Raiders QB, who is now looking for a job, is now also facing a drug charge!

The number one pick in 2007, and current ‘one of the NFL’s biggest draft busts of all time’ was caught with some codeine syrup and no prescription at his Alabama home – part of an undercover narcotics investigation.

If you’re unfamiliar with the recreational side of prescription codeine syrup, let me fill you in: In a trend that seemingly started in Texas, people get high by mixing cough syrup with 7Up and Jolly Ranchers. Listen to a random assortment of Texas hip hop and you’ll more than likely hear a reference to this concoction, which is known as Purple Drank and lean, among other things.

What makes this story awesome though is that CBS Sports columnist Mike Freeman actually made himself some of that purple stuff and TRIED it!

“Dear law enforcement: Please do not arrest me. The following was done for journalistic purposes only. My syrup was legally obtained from a doctor. My Purple Drank was not distributed and the leftovers were flushed down the sink. Except for the 7-Up. And the Jolly Ranchers.”

Incase you’re wondering, Freeman says it’s a stupid idea (“Even sniffing glue calls Purple Drank stupid”), though I wasn't really expecting him to endorse it!

Goal Line Hand

FIFA says it’s going to consider changing the rules after that Luis Suarez handball that kept Uruguay in the World Cup and led to Ghana heading home.

Remember that one? With seconds left in extra time and the ball heading towards a goalie-less Uruguayan net, Suarez reached out and batted the ball from danger, earning himself a straight red card – but Ghana missed the ensuing penalty kick and then lost on penalties.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter says they’ll sit down in October and have a look at what can be done.

The only rule that would have sent Ghana through won’t be one of the considered changes though. Blatter says a rule that would see a goal given when a handball clearly prevents one won’t be brought in.

So basically he’s saying…nothing.

The International Football Association Board will also look at goal-line technology...like, you know, a camera…that’s already in the net anyway…Knowing them though, they’ll decide against it.

As for this weekend’s matches, I may not have gotten all of the results right, but the piece of paper on the wall of my parents’ house says I picked Spain to win the whole tournament. It’ll be a good game, but I think the Spanish defense will shut down Holland and their possession game will lead to enough chances to put it away. What do you think?

Blanc Cheque

The French Football Federation, fresh off a horrid showing at the World Cup, already has a new coach in charge – and he’s mad!

Laurent Blanc says he’ll only use the players he trusts when he rebuilds the national team, calling the behavior of the players an “outrage.”

Have you ever noticed that when english is someone’s second language, they tend to be a little more poetic when giving sports-themed interviews? I notice it a lot with European hockey and soccer players. Blanc had a good line that falls into that category for me:

“What bothers me is that, after the World Cup, a new coach should be able to lean on a hard core. This hard core is not even a melon’s pip!”

I dare say you would never hear that phrase at an NHL press conference. Imagine hearing a coach describe his team’s performance with something like this:

“They played like the seeds of a tomato, in search of some dirt in which to blossom…”

Anyways – Blanc has been handed the task of sorting through the rubble of the French implosion in South Africa and picking up the still useable pieces. It sounds like a big part of the problem was the old manager though, Raymond Domenech, so it might actually not be that tough to get the team back on track.

Barca Bankrupt?

It seems anytime you see a story about the finances of Europe’s big soccer teams, it’s never good.

They make tons and tons of money, but seems to spend far more than they earn, and so they’re caught in a kind of bizarre financial purgatory where they’re hundreds of millions (if not billions of dollars) in debt, yet they’re making hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

The latest team to fall into that category is Barcelona – team president Sandro Rosell says they’re dealing with “cashflow tensions” at the moment.

The “tensions” are serious enough that the club has been forced to take out a loan of about - you might want to sit down for this - $198,800,000 Canadian.

The problem lies with the team’s TV partner, Mediapro, who just went into receivership and may not be able to honor the TV rights deal that runs until 2013. I’m sure you’re wondering what kind of crazy amount of money that deal must be worth to force the team into take out a $200-million loan…well, here it is: $1.325-billion.

Wow! The amount of money in pro sports is absolutely amazing. Maybe it’s time Barca gets a corporate sponsor for that jersey (they’ve never had one, believe it or not, and currently give Unicef the spot for free!).

Tour de Drama

So Floyd Landis is taking shots at Lance Armstrong again as the Tour de France gets going over in…France, I suppose.

A little while ago, Landis, who had his title stripped in 2006 for failing a drug test, went in-depth with his claims that plenty of riders do the drug thing, but they just know how to not get caught. His information was pretty thorough and gained a lot of attention, and now the World Anti-Doping Agency is involved.

The Wall Street Journal, who first published the Landis emails, says WADA and Interpol are working together to get to the bottom of this.

Yeah, you read right. The international police are involved. Watch out! If they plan on sending an officer undercover, he better be comfortable wearing spandex, otherwise he’s still out like a sore thumb!

Back to Landis’ latest comments about seven-time Tour winner Lance Armstrong – he says the two of them took two prohibited blood transfusions during the 2004 race and that Armstrong gave him banned testosterone patches along the way.

Armstrong (of course) refuted those claims though, with a pretty awesome quote (which is right up there with the melon’s pip):

He says whatever Landis is saying is like “a carton of sour milk: once you take the first sip, you don’t have to drink the rest to know it has all gone bad.” Boosh!

Meanwhile, Armstrong’s sponsors say they’re all still on his team…at least until we find out that Landis was telling the truth!

One more thing…

If you didn’t hear, Portuguese soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo announced this week that he’s now a father – though the identity of Cristiano Ronaldo Jr. remains a mystery.

Here’s a somewhat funny video of some British person with a camera harassing the Real Madrid striker:






Have a great weekend!

Kerrzy’s Notebook: What’s Eating Gilbert’s Grape?

As legions of Cleveland Cavaliers fans come to grips with the fact that their star player is moving on, the team’s owner seems to have gone downright crazy.

On Thursday night, Dan Gilbert posted an open letter to the fans trashing LeBron James…which I think is just a little bit really ridiculous (because nothing says I'm so totally mad right now like "Comic Sans MS").

Photobucket

Here are some of the parts I found most interesting, with my thoughts in brackets (make sure you scroll down to the bottom though, there’s more craziness!):

- - -

As you now know, our former hero, who grew up in the very region that he deserted this evening, is no longer a Cleveland Cavalier.

(He was a free agent…it’s not like he just up and left!)

This was announced with a several day, narcissistic, self-promotional build-up culminating with a national TV special of his "decision" unlike anything ever "witnessed" in the history of sports and probably the history of entertainment.

(Okay, the one-hour special was a little much...but as for the "self-promotional build-up" - I'm pretty sure LeBron James doesn't control the throngs of media that followed him around from closed-door meeting to closed-door meeting.)

You simply don't deserve this kind of cowardly betrayal.

(He was a free agent that accepted less money to join a stronger team...are you serious right now? Do you not understand the term "free agent"? I’m starting to think James got out of there at the right time!)

"I PERSONALLY GUARANTEE THAT THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS WILL WIN AN NBA CHAMPIONSHIP BEFORE THE SELF-TITLED FORMER ‘KING’ WINS ONE"

(Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh...You better start looking for free agents – oh wait, Miami just took them all!)

I can tell you that this shameful display of selfishness and betrayal by one of our very own has shifted our "motivation" to previously unknown and previously never experienced levels.

(Perhaps if your motivation had reached those levels anytime in the last seven years you wouldn't be in this position...)

Some people think they should go to heaven but NOT have to die to get there.

(I don't get it...who died? When did Miami become heaven? Does God know?)

This shocking act of disloyalty from our homegrown "chosen one" sends the exact opposite lesson of what we would want our children to learn. And "who" we would want them to grow-up to become.

(Seven years of service is hardly disloyal…and as for this “opposite lesson, what would that be? Don't put the issue of money aside and go for what will make you the happiest and give you the best chance to be successful...?)

"...this heartless and callous action"

(Current and future Cleveland Cavaliers, take note: Anything but extreme and undying loyalty to the cause is deemed both heartless and callous by your owner. What is this, North Korea? LeBron, how could you be so heartless?! I hope Dan Gilbert isn't sitting in the corner of his office singing Kanye West's 808's and Heartbreak...)

Until he does "right" by Cleveland and Ohio, James (and the town where he plays) will unfortunately own this dreaded spell and bad karma. Just watch.

(Why is the word "right" in quotations? He seems to do that a lot in this letter. What is that supposed to mean, anyway? Until he goes back in time, reverses his decision and bows to Dan Gilbert and his weird letter, he'll be cursed? I think Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade might have something to say about that...like a lot.)

Sleep well, Cleveland.

Tomorrow is a new and much brighter day....

I PROMISE you that our energy, focus, capital, knowledge and experience will be directed at one thing and one thing only:

DELIVERING YOU the championship you have long deserved and is long overdue....

(I think this is probably one of those things you write out of frustration, but shouldn’t send until the next day when you've calmed down. This whole thing makes Dan Gilbert look like a crazy person in my opinion. Have fun attracting high profile free agents after this nutty episode Dan…)

- - -

That wasn’t all though…

Gilbert also took the time to speak to the media about what a rotten, horrible person LeBron James is.

“He has gotten a free pass. People have covered up for [James] for way too long. Tonight we saw who he really is…It’s not about him leaving, it’s the disrespect. It’s time for people to hold these athletes accountable for their actions. Is this the way you raise your children? I’ve been holding this all in for a long time.”

Gilbert went on to tell the Associated Press that James “quit” in the playoffs, saying Cleveland’s loss to Boston was “unlike anything in the history of sports for a superstar.”

This guy is bonkers. Is this the way you raise your children? What does that have to do with anything, and is that a shot at LeBron’s mom? Watch yourself Dan!

Based on these statements, I really hope James and company absolutely destroy the Cavs the next time they meet – I’m talking like beat them into oblivion. What free agent in his right mind is going to want to go to a team with an owner like Dan Gilbert?

What do you make of all this?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Kerrzy’s Notebook: FA Coup

Thursday night could mark a regime change in the NBA.

ESPN reports that LeBron James is leaning towards announcing the Miami Heat as his destination during a one-hour TV special called “The Decision” – giving the Heat all three of the most sought-after free agents on the market.

On Wednesday former Toronto Raptors star Chris Bosh announced that he’d be joining Dwyane Wade in FLA – but the addition of James to the fold makes this a very scary proposition (for everyone else).

Lets look at the numbers: These players make up three of the top nine scorers in the NBA.

To put that in comparison, last season the highest ranked to players from the same team were Monta Ellis and Corey Maggette of the Golden State Warriors at 6th and 17th. The highest ranked trio from one team was Zach Randolph, Rudy Gay and OJ Mayo of the Memphis Grizzlies at 13th, 18th and 34th.

With these three guys, we’re talking second, fifth and ninth in last year’s scoring race, with each player actually surpassing their career averages.

LeBron leads the way with 29.7 points per game, 8.6 assists and 7.3 rebounds per game. Dwyane Wade averaged 26.6 points, 6.5 assists and 4.8 rebounds, and Chris Bosh had 24 points per game and 10.8 boards, on average.

The thought of these three guys on the same team is almost too much – 80 points between them on any given night? Come on.

Granted, who knows how one guy’s numbers will be affected by sharing the court with two other big names, but you have to assume it’s going to be a positive rather than a negative. Just look at how the US “Dream Team” performs. This could get farcical!

As I write this, nothing is final and even ESPN notes that a change of heart could occur from the James camp.

With all the people pleading with him to stay and Ohio being his home, you’d have to think it’s weighing on his mind. On the other side of that though, the report quotes a source close to James saying that he doesn’t want to risk signing a long-term deal with Cleveland and ending up “31-years-old with bad knees and no title.”

Obviously each player will make a bit less money than if they were the lone star on the team, but it’s not like the kind of money you or I make. As Dwyane Wade said:

"I'm going to make a lot of money, no matter what happens. I've been blessed. I'm not counting every dollar and every cent. Let's sit down, let's see what the best thing is for us, for the long haul."

Bosh and James could have both signed for about $30-million more with the team’s they’re coming from, but I think the feeling here is that it’s a rare opportunity to really stack the deck.

What do you think, should James sign with the Heat?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Kerrzy’s Notebook: Free Agent Madness (NBA edition)

While NHL free agency hasn’t quite dazzled the way it sometimes does, the NBA has a really good thing going these days and it should come to a head very soon.

The NBA’s free agent class features some of the best players in the game right now, including LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, and the three of them have been scheming for a while now as to where they might all end up.

While it’s customary for teams to line up to meet players and try to woo them, it’s not as common to see the big three of an FA class get together to discuss who is going where – and the latest of those meetings goes later today.

Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Tuesday night that James, Wade and Bosh will hold a conference call today to try and inch closer to final decisions.

Here’s how it’s shaking down, starting with the Canadian interest: In terms of a sign-and-trade (which would benefit the Raptors), the Cleveland Cavaliers lead the way in the Chris Bosh sweepstakes. ESPN reports Toronto would get Anderson Varejao and/or J.J. Hickson, Delonte West and maybe Anthony Parker as well as a potential draft pick for Bosh. LeBron James has apparently tried to lure Bosh to the Cavs, but he isn’t too keen on moving to Ohio.

Dwayne Wade could easily end up back in Miami (as they could offer him more money), but he likely won’t do so unless he’s bringing a player like Bosh or James along with him. His other options seem to be New Jersey or Chicago, where he has family and where the team is already set up pretty nicely.

As for King James, well the city of Cleveland wants him bad but so does everyone else. Just like Wade, the Bulls and Nets seem to be his other two main options.

Some people out in the blogosphere, like Brooks over at Sports by Brooks, are speculating that all of these meetings we keep hearing about with LeBron and various teams are nothing more than sports reality TV. He thinks James “never had any intention of leaving the comfort of Cleveland” despite the big act.

I guess we’ll find out for sure on Thursday night when ESPN hosts a one-hour special that will conclude with James’ decision – my god it does sound like reality TV, doesn’t it? Which team will get the rose, or the key, or immunity until the next round of free agency?

While we’re on the topic, have you seen any of the pleas from people in Cleveland to get James to stay?

Cleveland.com reports one local company has offered to produce a massive world-class fireworks show for him if he stays, while another is offering him free beer for life.

Then there was Betty White’s attempt at wooing LBJ, and of course, Clevelanders for LeBron James:





Monday, July 5, 2010

Kerrzy’s Notebook: Free Kobi

There was a bit of controversy in the world of competitive eating this weekend, believe it or not, after a post-event scuffle between a former champ and police.

The incident happened after Joey Chestnut claimed his fourth straight Coney Island Fourth of July hot dog eating championship belt, with his biggest rival looking on from the crowd. Takeru “The Tsunami” Kobayashi didn’t take part in this year’s event because of a contract dispute with “Major League Eating” (which is actually a real thing).

The 32-year-old, wearing a “Free Kobi” shirt, snuck onto the stage after Chestnut downed 54 hot dogs in 10 minutes to claim the title. When security guards approached him he grabbed onto a railing and held on for dear life, but was eventually subdued and led away in cuffs.

It was a bizarre scene – it was as if he was really trying to make some kind of political statement with this act of defiance. It was even more bizarre to hear the people in the crowd chanting “USA!” as the whole thing went down.






Kobayashi’s contract issues with MLE were over his participation in non-sanctioned events – hence the “Free Kobi” shirt.

For all his trouble, the third ranked eater in the MLE was charged with resisting arrest, trespass and obstructing governmental administration – they take their hot dog eating competitions seriously down in the US!

As for Chestnut, he ate 14 less dogs than he did last year but still won the contest by nine full wieners, claiming his $20,000 purse in the process.

Imagine that, $20,000 for ten minutes of hot dog eating…what a strange world we live in!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Kerrzy’s Notebook: Suarez the Swindler?

Is he a national hero or a low down, dirty cheat?

That’s the debate right now in soccer circles after Uruguayan forward Luis Suarez’s actions on Friday morning in his side’s controversial win over Ghana on penalties.

In the final seconds of extra time, with Ghana pressing and a Dominic Adiyiah header floating towards the back of the net, Suarez used his hands to keep the score tied by clearing the ball away. For that he was given a straight red card and the Ghanaians were awarded a penalty, but Asamoah Gyan struck iron and the last African nation left in the tournament went out on penalties.

Ghana missed not one, but two opportunities when it came to penalty kicks, losing 4-2 – it probably shouldn’t have gotten that far though, but for a blatant display of unsportsmanlike behavior and a disregard for the notion of “fair play” at the World Cup (maybe Maradona was right about that being absent).

So, is Suarez a straight-up cheater, or is he a ‘hero’ for sacrificing himself for next game and doing whatever it takes, red card and all, to win?

If you ask his teammates, who carried him on their shoulders after the game, it’s the latter. Just ask Diego Forlan:

“It is a pity, he made a great save today. Suarez is one of the heroes. He didn’t score a goal but he saved one and now we are in the semi-final…Suarez saved us.”

If you feel like Suarez is scum because of his actions, you won’t like what he had to say after the game about himself:

“I think I made the best save of the World Cup…the way in which I was sent off today – truth is, it was worth it.”

Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez tells ESPN he doesn’t see his player as a cheater:

“I think [calling him that] would be too far-fetched and too twisted. To think that Suarez, when he committed the handball, knew what was going to happen afterward would be something superhuman. The hand of Suarez is the hand of God and the Virgin Mary -- that's how Uruguayans see it.”

The coach’s comments come in the wake of news that FIFA is studying the Suarez incident to see if he deserves a longer suspension than the customary one game.

If Uruguay win on Tuesday, they’re in the final and if they lose, they’ll play for third place, so a two-game suspension would really punish the forward for what he did. Should he get a two-match ban though?

For me, it’s a tough one – I know there are people who think you should do whatever it takes to win, even if it means breaking the rules for the greater good. Those people might say this is no worse than Carlos Tevez knowing he was a mile offside but still knocking the ball in, or a player taking a fall in the box to dupe the ref into giving a penalty…but I’m sorry, it is worse.

Had Suarez not (intentionally) used his hand to stop the ball from going into the net, Ghana would be through to the semi-finals. It came at a point in the game where it was all Ghana and a goal would have been well deserved. The most important thing here though is that it happened with literally seconds left in the game.

Sure, giving a penalty kick (not to mention a red card) should have been the advantage for the Ghanaians, but on the day it wasn’t.

In hockey, if a player is skating towards an empty net and he’s taken down, the ref just gives the goal – that should probably have been what happened here. The goalie was nowhere to be seen and the only thing able to stop Uruguay’s exit from the tournament was an action that warranted a straight red card – why not just give the goal?

The Hand of God and the Virgin Mary? Please.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Kerrzy’s Notebook: Random Friday Thoughts

Fair Play?

There was some interesting stuff coming out of the Argentina camp this week, as the side prepares to face Germany in quarterfinal action.

Manager Diego Maradona, famous for (among other things) using his hand to score in a 1986 quarterfinal game against England and then scoring one of the nicest ever World Cup goals, says “fair play doesn’t exist” at the tournament.

Before the tournament even started Maradona was talking about fair play, but isn’t happy with how his young star, Leo Messi, is being treated by other players. That’s not even the interesting part though:

Carlos Tevez was the big hero for Argentina in their 3-1 Round of 16 win over Mexico, emulating his manager a bit by scoring a controversial goal, and then a beautiful goal to seal the win. Tevez was way offside on Argentina’s first goal, but the call was missed by the officials and stood – a decision made worse by the fact that they showed the replay immediately on the big screens in the stadium.

Afterwards though, Tevez told reporters he knew he was offside and was just playing to the whistle:

“At first I thought he (the ref) was saying that it was not a goal, then I saw the signal and I started (celebrating) and I was happy. I know I was offside, I know it was selfish, but as long as they say it was a goal it’s OK for me and the team.”

You know who it’s not OK for? Referee Roberto Rosetti! He, along with Jorge Larrionda (of the England/Germany game) have been left off the list of referees for the rest of the World Cup, according to the Associated Press.

The other refs left off the list are the guy who disallowed what might have been a game-winning goal for the US against Slovenia for a phantom foul and the ref who sent Brazilian Kaka off for ‘fouling’ a player who ran into the back of him.

Sacre Bleu

No team suffered worse than the French at this year’s World Cup – not only did they have a poor on-field showing, but a player was sent home, the team refused to practice at one point (which at least one player now admits was a mistake) and now heads and rolling.

If that wasn’t bad enough, FIFA president Sepp Blatter is warning the French government that if it interferes with the country’s football federation, he could suspend the entire program.

France’s government is holding an inquiry into what went wrong for the national team and former captain Thierry Henry has already met with president Nicolas Sarkozy. Since then, FFF president Jean Pierre Escalettes has announced that he’ll be stepping down.

The problem arose, says Sky Sports, when sports minister Roselyne Bachelot made a comment that was in violation of FIFA rules.

Nigeria’s government took things much, much further this week though when they suspended the national soccer program for two years because of their bad showing at the tourney.

President Goodluck Jonathan says there were also some allegations of corruption, though no specifics were given.

Nigeria hasn’t won a tournament game since 1998 and earned just one point in the group stages – FIFA says it’ll be investigating them too.

Happy Birthday?

From football, to the other football – Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick could be in some serious trouble once again after an incident that happened last weekend.

There was a shooting outside a Virginia Beach restaurant, which was hosting Vick’s 30th birthday party, police say. Initially, Vick’s lawyer said he was long gone by the time in happened, but a spokesman for the restaurant says that’s not the case.

According to ESPN, Allen Fabijan turned some surveillance footage over to police that he says shows Vick leaving the establishment minutes before shots are fired.

It gets interesting when we learn that the shooting victim is apparently a man named Quanis Phillips, a co-defendant of Vick’s from the dog fighting case that sent him to prison. He’s still serving three years of probation and isn’t allowed to associate with anyone convicted of a felony.

Hmm…I hope he had nothing to do with this, otherwise things could get very ugly for Michael Vick, very quickly.

Loew Pick

Did you, umm, ‘pick’ Germany to win the World Cup this year?

While English fans were ‘picking’ themselves up off the ground following a goal that should have been, green with disgust, and the players had their ‘noses’ back on the grindstone, there was something funny happening on the sidelines.

I hope you don’t think I’m being ‘snotty’ by pointing this out, but…okay, well I’ve run out of booger-themed puns, so I’m going to just lay it out there:

Cameras caught German coach Joachim Loew giving his nose the business during the game (hat tip to Deadspin):






I like the transfer from his left to right hand, all the while maintaining his “game face,” before he decides to chow down.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Kerrzy's Notebook: We Were Robbed!

The phrase “We Were Robbed” is likely one you’ve been hearing all week long if you work with anyone who is, or claims to be, an English soccer fan – and they don’t know how right they are!

Never mind the fact that FIFA president Sepp Blatter apologized to the English Football Association for a blown call in Sunday’s 4-1 loss to Germany, there is some other, more literal, evidence to back up the claim.

The Daily Mail reports that five people who worked as cleaners at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Campus got a taste of swift South African justice this week when it was learned they had stolen ‘personal items’ from the rooms of several English players. The team was staying at the resort near Rustenburg for the duration of their trip to the World Cup.

A police spokesperson told The Mail that five suspects were arrested on Sunday after England was robbed of an equalizer in the first half of their tournament-ending loss to the Germans. When officers went to the homes of the suspects, all of the missing items were found safe and sound.

They were convicted of theft that night and were sentenced to fines of 6,000 rand (about $820 Canadian) or three years in jail – police say none of them could afford the fines, so they were taken to prison.

In all, a FIFA gold medal, several USA jerseys (from the post-game swap) and about $760 was stolen from the players, but it has all since been returned. Not only did cleaners take jerseys and money from the rooms, it is also being reported that they stole underwear from the players!

No word on if investigators got their Hanes on any of the missing knickers though.