The Future of this Blog

I know that I’ve been pretty terrible at updating this blog with new posts over the better part of the last year. No rants about player/fan/coach/franchise behavior, no living and dying with my favorite teams. At times it seeming as if I’m oblivious to the world of sports going on beyond my face.

At this stage, I don’t know if I’m going to continue with this as a sports blog, or if I’ll focus on a single team/sport, or if I’ll just turn it into a random thought blog. Needless to say in regards to sports, this past year has been one frought with disappointments across the sporting spectrum for me. From the lackluster performances day in and day out by Newcastle United last season, to the Oakland Raiders and Detroit Pistons during their seasons. From the promising but disappointing ways the season ended for both the Detroit Red Wings and Oklahoma Sooners, to the current plummeting of the Chicago White Sox from contention to a 3rd place finish provided they wake up enough to remain ahead of KC/Cleveland. To a degree, I feel a bit emotionally drained from this past year, not only from sports, but from personal losses in my family over that period of time.

I guess we’ll see what the future holds, and what I decided to do with this blog from there.


Suspensions? Are you kidding me Bettman?

Apparently last year the NHL and the GM’s got together and decided to punish injured players for missing the All-Star game. I get the fact that the league is using all of the stars to sell the brand of the NHL to increase viewership and revenue. But, to punish a player who doesn’t participate because they are injured? Can you imagine the screaming and yelling that the MLBPA would be doing if they tried doing this in baseball where players don’t even need to be injured very much to find a way to skip showing up for the All-Star game, or the NFL, where a lot of players are pretty dinged up and miss out on the All-Pro game.

What can be a realistic criteria for suspending players? What exactly is the threshold for missing time? If a player leaves the final game prior to the all-star break with an injury and that injury is considered to be “day-to-day”, why should that player be “forced” to sit out a game if they are capable of playing? I’m going to use the case of Pavel Datsyuk for this argument. Datsyuk left the game last Tuesday night against the Phoenix Coyotes in the second period and didn’t return. The Red Wings aren’t scheduled to play again until this upcoming Tuesday night. That is one full week off for an injured player who is listed as “day-to-day” on the injury report.  The week off is more beneficial to the player, their team, and in the end, the league by getting that rest instead of potentially worsening the injury by participating in on ice activities for the All-Star weekend.

What about the player that was voted in by the fans (What a joke), who has been out injured most of the season and is scheduled to come back right before the All-Star break? Is the league going to compensate his team if he reinjures himself participating in the All-Star Weekend? I highly doubt it. Oh, and putting the blame on the two Detroit players who were picked by the coaches as the scapegoats for enforcing this “rule”…totally classless. But it’s what is to be expected from this pack of fools that runs the NHL. Watch them manage to blow a potential return to ESPN in 2011.

As if one needed more reasons to hate ClearChannel

Earlier this week, ClearChannel pulled the plug on the local on air talent at WDFN 1130-AM. Shows that had been on the air for a very long time such as Stoney & Wojo (14 years), and It Is What It Is (6 years) were just gone in a moment as part of ClearChannel’s “cost cutting” methods that resulted in over 1800 jobs nationwide being pink slipped, primarily in their sales departments. Situations like this really should make a 90 day no compete clause null and void.

My first grievance with ClearChannel is that well, their programming on music stations sucks in the first place. And their proclivity to change format on a station multiple times within a 5 year span is borderline ridiculous. People dislike the product that ClearChannel provides because if the product was any more generic and sterile it would be wrapped in medical packaging and opened at a doctor’s office. Continually killing any life and flavor a station may have in a certain market might make some sort of twisted “financial sense”, but a sense of the community in which the station broadcasts should come into play.

It’s no mistake that a majority of the quality talent in the radio market has been making a transition to putting their shows exclusively on Satellite radio. The mere existance of ClearChannel is akin to CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox, and PBS all being bought out by one conglomorate and showing essentially the same programming around the clock. Why would anyone watch network TV if “Lost” was going to be on every station at some point during the week? Where would the creativity for new shows come from if it became bland genericness for broadcasting standards?

Personally, I think the biggest insult is not only did ClearChannel basically kill what was a fun Sports Talk station, but they replaced that programming with the mental abortions that Fox passes off as Sports radio. Seriously, if you are going to kill our market, at least give us programming that we don’t get locally. I’d rather have someone find a way to pipe in Chicago’s ESPN-1000 than to listen to this tripe that Fox considers entertainment on the radio.

Christmas Presents for my teams.

Well since today is Christmas, we’ll go through the presents and things that my favorite teams need in alphabetical order by team.

Chicago White Sox – Our present for you is a true leadoff man/centerfielder. Right now you have Jerry Owens pencilled in for that role, and that’s fine for now. But, at some point we need someone who can get a decent ops in that slot. Stocking stuffers are more pitching depth including a 4th and 5th starter.

Detroit Pistons – My first choice of present would be to undo the Billups for Iverson trade. But, since we can’t do present is that this team finds out it’s identity as quickly as possible. I have the feeling this season has been given up on for free agency. So the only true wish I would have would be to go back in time and convince Joe D. to draft Chris Bosh instead of Darko Milicic.

Detroit Red Wings – Your present is that you get over your post-Cup hangover and start playing defense the way you are capable of and that Chris Osgood begins to regain his form.

Newcastle United – The present for this team would be that Michael Owen decides to remain with the team, and that Joe Kinnear (or potential successor) is able to find that right central midfield player with creativity to get the ball to the forwards in the right position to score. The current team is almost the best defensively that we’ve seen in a long time.

Oakland Raiders – My present here, is that we manage to find some offensive linemen to help protect Jamarcus Russell. We’ve got runners, and our receivers aren’t terrible. But by god, help the QB and the defense by blocking consistently.

Oklahoma Sooners – My present here, is that we are able to turn everything back in the face of the media by winning on January 8th 2009 in Miami. Number 8 would be that much sweeter if we can pull it off.

I excluded Barcelona from this list because they’re running at the top of La Liga, so the only present I could give would be to maintain status quo and win the Trebel with league, champions league, and kings cup trophies.

Battle of the Top Two

Thursday night in San Jose will be the battle between the top two records in the Western Conference as the Wings face the Sharks. The Sharks currently have the fastest start to an NHL season with the best record ever at the 30 game mark with a 25-3-2 record. Detroit is sitting second in the conference with their misleading 20-6-4 record, and today got the news that Goalie Chris Osgood may miss time with a groin injury. At this point it remains to be seen if the Wings will call up one of their goalies in Grand Rapids, however it’s likely with them on a West Coast swing.

The odds would say that the situation favors the Sharks, who have been strong offensively and solid defensively. Whereas the Wings have been inconsistent offensively, and sluggish defensively. This looks like it could be the kind of game where the challenge of facing the team with the best record could get the Wings to play their best effort of the season for a full 60 minutes. So far this season that commitment to defense hasn’t been there, and it’s been frustrating for both the team and the fans.

However, it is a long season and there is plenty of time to right the ship and move forward.

On a side note, is anyone really surprised that the Dallas Stars are 6-4-0 in their last 10, and the winning percentage in that time seems to coincide with the suspension and all but cutting loose of Sean Avery? I certainly don’t.

Southside Small Market or Youth Movement?

Over the course of the past two weeks the Chicago White Sox have traded Nick Swisher to the Yankees for prospects, and Javier Vasquez and Boone Logan to the Braves for prospects. Add in the signing of 19 year old Cuban talent Dayan Viciedo a little over a week ago, and you have a team that appears to be getting younger. GM Ken Williams decided not long after the postseason was over to let Ken Griffey Jr. go, and the rumor mill is hot and heavy with potential deals involving Jermaine Dye or Bobby Jenks. Add in the fact that the Sox at least at this point don’t plan on retaining 3B Joe Crede (3B of now/future Josh Fields is coming off of knee surgery), and expect another team to take SS Orlando Cabrera off their hands while gaining a couple of extra draft picks for Cabrera, and one is left with a choice of two conclusions.

Conclusion One: The White Sox are trimming the payroll, dumping higher salaries in a way relatively reminiscent to earlier in the decade and restocking the minors with servicable talent. This method would be following the “Small Market” mentality that the rest of the division has at this time. Both Minnesota and Cleveland have been very successful this decade using this model. You can also look to this year’s AL Champion Tampa Bay Rays and within the past few years Colorado Rockies and Florida Marlins as advocates of using this model.

Conclusion Two: The Sox are going with more of a small ball, with speed and defense mentality. Certainly players like Griffey, Swisher, Cabrera, and Crede aren’t really the type that fit in a system that relies on singles, doubles, stolen bases, solid base running with the occasional home run. Then again, arguably neither are Jim Thome or Paul Konerko, along with the previously mentioned Dye. However, even those teams that play small ball need those big bats in the lineup to keep their opponents honest. If this team is willing to play hard nosed Ozzieball, then this would be the way to go with the roster. Players who can get on base definitely make the middle of the Sox lineup far more dangerous, and with a solid centerfielder, the defense in the outfield improves greatly.

No matter which of these two paths Kenny Williams is determined to lead this franchise, one thing is for sure. The Chicago White Sox, and the AL Central will likely be the one division worth watching against this upcoming season.

You knew it was only a matter of time

Before Sean Avery would open mouth and insert both feet. On Tuesday the NHL suspended Avery for comments he made to the media in Calgary before the Stars game against the Flames (won by the Stars 3-1). Avery in his typical style couldn’t resist taking a shot at Flames defenseman Dion Phaneuf by saying.

“I am really happy to be back in Calgary, I love Canada,” Avery said on camera this morning in Calgary.  “I just want to comment on how it’s become like a common thing in the NHL for guys to fall in love with my sloppy seconds. I don’t know what that’s about. Enjoy the game tonight.”

I warned my friends who were Stars fans when they signed Avery, that the guy would cost them more than he would benefit them. There was a 50/50 chance that he’d piss off his teammates, and be alienated in the locker room. Things that happened to Avery in all three of his previous stops in Detroit, LA, and New York. I really think there is an obvious connection between the Stars winning Tuesday night, and Avery being indefinitely suspended pending his meeting with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. Or maybe it’s the vaunted Sydor effect that I told those same Stars fans about last spring.

Regardless it was a good move for the NHL, as it’s a league trying to gain fans and mainstream appeal to get closer to the rest of the “Big 4” sports. There are a lot of thoughts that go through players minds that are better left inside their heads.