Thursday, October 11, 2007

Bucking the Trend

With the exception of the Red Sox, the participants in both of this year’s League Championship Series were not expected to make it this far – just ask our man Quikdraw. This was the year many non-partisan fans were hoping to see the Red Sox face the Cubs in the World Series – it would have made for a great story.

The dream match-up was derailed by the upstart Diamondbacks who handed the Cubs’ collective can back to them – the lovable losers go down in defeat again with no Steve Bartman to blame. What about the Phillies? They are losers – but are hardly loved in their own city, let alone anywhere else. They stage on of the all-time great late season charges to win the NL East and fall apart against the Wild Card Rockies. Still though, a Phillies vs Red Sox match-up would have been compelling given Philadelphia’s abysmal post-season record (think Hazel would smile with the memory of Joe Carter of the Blue Jays taking Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams deep?).

The Yankees? Meh. For those of you in New England, Hazel and her gang have you covered on that series, so we don’t have to say anything.

Apart from the Red Sox vs Angels match-up, nothing has gone according to plan or the hopes of the majority of baseball fans whose teams haven’t made it this far. So we are going against the experts (again, see our man Quikdraw) and picking both of the underdogs in the League Championship Series.

The Sacrificial Lamb Series – Colorado over Arizona in six games.

The Rockies have been playing unbelievable baseball for the better part of a month now – they lost one game going down the stretch and kept up their torrid pace by slapping the Phillies around.

The Rockies have the unenviable task of facing one of the National League’s premier pitchers in Brandon Webb – but the same was being said about them having to face Cole Hamels of the Phillies. The Rockies are doing everything right and getting some breaks – which every team needs in order to get to the big show. Truthfully, we don’t really think either of these teams is ready for primetime – so we’ll go with the team that has more momentum coming into the series. Rockies get it done.

The Unofficial World Series – Cleveland over Boston in seven.

We said we were bucking the trend. Boston has a few clear advantages in this series – Papelbon over Borowski; 3-4-5 hitters; and behind the plate. Having said that, the Indians had a great series against New York coming up with two out hits; they also have the x-factor leading off in Grady Sizemore. If Sizemore gets on, expect him to create some havoc and force Boston’s D to adjust.

In terms of starting pitching – we see Sabathia and Carmona vs Beckett and Schilling as a saw off; mainly due to Schilling’s up and down season. We’ve heard all the talk that Schilling excels at this time of year – but can you really trust him with the way his season has gone? The difference will come down to Paul Byrd vs Dice-K – seemingly a mismatch, but Byrd’s off-speed junk might be just enough to keep Ortiz and Manny off balance for a game or two. The top of Boston’s order has struggled of late – and it isn’t going to get any easier against the Tribe’s top two. Sorry Red Sox Nation – we are going out on a limb on this one and calling for the Indians to win.

Speaking of bucking the trend – we’ll have to find some time to take a look the future of the NHL with the strong Canadian dollar. For those of you in the U.S. who haven’t been paying attention, our dollar is trading at $1.02 U.S., which has a profound effect on the bottom line for NHL franchises in Canada and league revenues as whole. The NHL is cagey when it comes to talking about how much of the league’s overall revenues come from Canadian-based teams. Some have pegged Canada’s contribution as high as 33% - at a time when the greenback was worth $1.20+ Canadian.

The effect of the strong Canadian dollar is two-fold and seriously impacts US based teams. First, the increase in overall revenues attributed to the rise in the dollar – based on 2006/07 revenues could be in the order of $600M, resulting in a cap increase of anywhere between $2.5 to $3.5 M. U.S. based teams struggling to make money will now be faced with a higher cap and lower minimum spending threshold making hockey even less viable. The NHL’s worst fear could be realized – U.S. based teams relocating to Canada (Quebec City and Winnipeg would be the obvious choices).

Second, an “at or above par” Canadian dollar means that cities in Canada that couldn’t support a team when our dollar was weak can now suddenly operate and make money. Canadian cities will have to be considered, if not in terms of relocation of existing franchises then, for expansion when it inevitably comes. A league with more Canadian teams will be a tough sell to U.S. television viewers. The league’s revenues will undoubtedly rise with the addition of more Canadian teams – but the fan base won’t; actually, it is likely to decrease and kill any hopes for a television contract.

The ultimate irony – could a strong Canadian dollar kill the NHL as we know it? Some of us could only hope…GO LEAFS GO.

San Jose Sharks winger Milan Mihalek has both goals in a 2-1 win over the Blackhawks in Chicago last night.

Minnesota Wild G Niklas Backstrom stopped all 21 shots in a 2-0 win over Edmonton Oilers.

Anaheim Ducks C Ryan Getzlaf had a goal and an assist in the Ducks’ 2-1 win over the Bruins.

That’s right – the stars were from yesterday’s Three Play winners.

Another tough night going 3-2 and winding up $25 in the red – total for the week stands at - $155. Tonight’s suggestions

TORONTO over NY Islanders – the Leafs couldn’t be worse than they were against Carolina on Tuesday night, Paul Maurice will have them ready for the Islanders who played the Rangers last night. If that isn’t enough, how about Hazel Karma? Lay $100 on the Leafs - $180.

BUFFALO over Atlanta – the Sabres aren’t going to be as good as they were last year, but they are better than their 0-2 start. They’ll get it done against a Thrashers team that won’t have Marion Hossa in the lineup. Lay $100 on the Sabres - $200.

NASHVILLE over Phoenix – the Coyotes are awful, they are going to be awful all year. Nashville took a big hit this summer, but their goaltending with Chris Mason is much better than the Coyotes’ with Mikael Telleqvist. Lay $100 on the Preds - $200.

That’s it for today gang – Tilt only cuts and pastes, he won’t post links. Thanks for taking the time to check in. Have a great one peeps.

Hazel, we hope things are groovy in your world.

Pogue OUT!!


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