Friday, November 30, 2007

No time to exhale if you are JFJ

Hey Peeps and anyone else checking in. A special “Hey” goes out to Hazel Mae if she is checking in.

The “Fire JFJ/Richard Peddie” movement/watch is still in full force – notwithstanding Toronto’s 4-2 win last night in Atlanta. Many in the media are patting themselves on the back for suggesting that getting out of Toronto for a couple of days might be the best thing in the world for a beleaguered coach and his struggling team – not to mention the embattled GM who sees the wagons circling around him. Well congratulations for stating the obvious guys (and gals) – not much of a stretch when you consider that Toronto has been a better road team for the better part of the last two years.

Last night’s result shouldn’t change a damn thing in Toronto – while everyone was saying the right things – they are no better off than they were two days ago, two weeks ago, or even two months ago. Fighting tooth and nail to make the playoffs shouldn’t be the goal/objective, or even a reason to keep a GM who has failed this organization miserably. The issues are still the same – and for the first time this year, we’re holding the coach accountable too. For the record, we applauded the hiring of Paul Maurice – he was a fresh face and someone who would give young players a chance to prove themselves while he taught them about the NHL game, unlike his predecessors, Pat Quinn and Pat Burns.

For the most part, he has done that – but where he has failed the team, and Leaf Nation, is his insistence to force his team to play a style of hockey they aren’t capable of playing. We’ve said before that the NHL is a copycat league – and defensive hockey is en vogue right now. Every single coach and player starts off any conversation with being “defensively aware” or about “defensive responsibilities” – the Maple Leafs have been talking about that for two months and what has it gotten them? – the worst goals against in the NHL and eight games under .500 (if you count OT and Shootout losses).

Maurice has insisted on trying to play a defence-first style of hockey with defencemen that are soft (Kaberle and White), slow (Gill and Wozniewski) or just downright dumb (McCabe and Kubina). Sound defensive hockey is premised on having players who fundamentally sound, fast, physical and move the puck quickly and safely – unfortunately for Leaf Nation, our defence is non of the above (except for Kaberle who is a great skater and moves the puck well). Early on in the season – the Leafs were playing a brand of firewagon hockey that had them at .500, albeit with a few embarrassing beat downs, but – they were at least competitive. Instead, Maurice has insisted they play to their most glaring weakness – defensive hockey – sacrificing the one strength they seemed to have – scoring goals.

We are reminded of one of the most exciting Maple Leafs teams in recent history (ok, we’re dating ourselves here but) the 1989-90 Leafs – featuring Eddie O, Gary Leeman, Wendel Clark and others. The knock on the team back then was the same as now – bad defence and suspect goaltending. The then coach, Doug Carpenter, adopted a firewagon type of game that often saw the Leafs give up a lot of goals, but he counted on the offence to keep them in games – and they did, surprising most of the league by having a .500 record and making the playoffs. When asked about his defence – Carpenter’s answer was classic – “If we can’t keep the puck out of our net, be can at least try to keep the puck out of our zone – the other team can’t score if the puck is in their end.” It didn’t work out as well as Carpenter had hoped – but at least he played to his team’s strength and made the playoffs. All Leaf Nation is getting these days is “We think we are good enough to make the playoffs.” Paul Maurice should stop worrying so much about other teams and live and die with his team trying to score goals. At least it would be entertaining.

Speaking of entertaining – How about those Dallas Cowboys huh? Another win against those stinking cheeseheads, and as an added bonus Brett Favre gets smoked by Nathan Jones. Cowboys’ fans are used to dealing with the haters – so we’ve heard all the excuses today: Al Harris’ “shoulda been” a pick in the first quarter, the interference calls (BOTH were penalties), and how “had Favre stayed in the game it woulda/coulda been a win”. Much was made of Green Bay’s injuries to Charles Woodson and “KGB” – and? People forget the Cowboys have been playing without their starting nose tackle (Jason Ferguson) and had to slot in Jacque “burned like toast” Reeves in for a banged up Anthony Henry. Romo torched them, Barber ran through them – period.

The Cowboys’ D dominated the Packers offence with and without Favre when they had to. They played soft when they were up by 17 and tightened considerably when the lead was down to 10 and then 3. We’ve said since day one that the Pack is counterfeit – people forget they play in the NFC North. We’ll be the first to say that there will NOT be a rematch in January in the NFC Title game – Green Bay won’t make it. To our friends who follow the Patriots – we’ll see you in Arizona in February 2008.

Not sure how much attention this is getting – but Rogers Sportsnet reported yesterday that the Yankees had entered into the Johan Santana sweepstakes. With the Yankees rumoured offer of Melky Cabrera and Phil Hughes or Ian Kennedy – can’t see Lester/Crisp and prospects getting it done for Boston. We’ll see.

Toronto Maple Leafs Captain Mats Sundin scored a beauty in Atlanta yesterday and, from all accounts, was a dominant force in a 4-2 win over the Thrashers. We still want to see JFJ fired (have we said that often enough?).

Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo was 19 of 30 (with at least three dropped passes) for 309 yards and four touchdowns (would have been five had Owens not dropped a catchable ball in the endzone – which wound up being intercepted).

Nashville Predators LW J.P. Dumont had a goal and three assists in a 6-5 win over the SenaTards last night – you know the rule, anyone who punks the Tards gets love here.

Finally a good night last night – we’ll keep it going tonight.

Dallas over Pittsburgh – upset special. The Stars have been playing great lately, losing only one of their last seven – the Penguins have had all sorts of problems. Lay $100 on the Stars + $145.

Carolina over Washington – the Canes have burned us lately, but we think they get things back on track against last place Washington tonight. Lay $100 on the Canes - $180.

Chicago over Phoenix – both teams are playing better than expected, but we are going to lean to the Hawks who have won four in a row at home. Lay $100 on Chicago - $170.

That’s it for today gang – thanks for taking the time to check in.

Before we sign out – we are dedicating a song of the day today to our favourite Boston Boricuas – crazy sisters Anita and Bernadette – who are in need of some cheering up as they have been going through a bit of a tough stretch. To brighten your day – the song of the day here is

The Way I Are – Timbaland

(Voice in Background)
State of Emergency
Yeah yeah
Yeah yeah
Remember the time baby (echos)
Yeah yeah

I ain't got no money
I ain't got no car to take you on a date
I can't even buy you flowers
But together we can be the perfect soulmates
Talk to me girl

[Bridge - Keri Hilson]
(Oh) Baby, it's alright now, you ain't gotta flaunt for me
If we go dutch, you can still touch my love, it's free
We can work without the perks just you and me
Thug it out 'til we get it right

[Chorus] - Keri Hilson & (D.O.E)
Baby if you strip, you can get a tip
'Cause I like you just the way you are
(I'm about to strip and I need it quick
Can you handle me the way I are?)
I don't need the G's or the car keys
Boy I like you just the way you are
Let me see ya strip, you can get a tip
'Cause I like, I like, I like...

[Verse 2 - Timbaland]
I ain't got no Visa
I ain't got no Red American Express
We can't go nowhere exotic
It don't matter 'cause I'm the one that loves you best
Talk to me girl

[Bridge 2 - Keri Hilson]
(Oh), baby, it's alright now, you ain't gotta flaunt for me
If we go and touch, you can still touch my love, it's free
We can work without the perks just you and me
Thug it out 'til we get it right

[Chorus] - Keri Hilson & (D.O.E)
Baby if you strip, you can get a tip
'Cause I like you just the way you are
(I'm about to strip and I need it quick
Can you handle me the way I are?)
I don't need the G's or the car keys
Boy I like you just the way you are
Let me see ya strip, you can get a tip
'Cause I like you just the way you are

[Verse 3 - D.O.E.]
Yeah, baby girl, I don't got a huge ol' house I rent a room in a house
Listen baby girl, I ain't got a motorboat but I can float ya boat
So listen baby girl, once you get a dose of D.O.E. you gon' want some mo'
So listen baby girl, when I make it I want you there, want you there, want you there, yeah

That’s it for today gang – thanks for taking the time to check in.

Hazel, we hope things are groovy in your world.

We’re Out!

Friday Fox

Enough said.

Back later with more.

We're Out!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Hey Bettman - You can't be Goodell

Hey Peeps and anyone else checking in. A special "Hey" goes out to Hazel Mae.
The driving force behind the NFL's push for parity can be summed up by their unofficial slogan - "On any given Sunday…" The NFL, with big time help from Vegas and the betting public, believes that parity is the way to keep their fan base and grow it as casual fans tune in to watch the games (read: see how they are doing in pools or with their bookies). Parity in the NFL is helped largely by Vegas who sets lines for the games - thus making every game interesting to the largest number of people possible, instead of just for fans of whatever two teams happen to be playing. It is the ultimate business model - and professional sports being what it is today, every professional league tries to reach the NFL's level of success.

The NHL, under the "leadership" of Gary Bettman has tried hard to promote parity as the way to grow the NHL and attract more fans - the premise being put forth, much like the NFL, is that you never know who is going to win. To promote parity and "improve the game" the NHL instituted a salary cap and tightened rules on how games would be officiated.

The theory was that there was too much clutching and grabbing in the league, which thus prevented the best players in the game from demonstrating their skills. The NHL was banking on a more free flowing game with more goals and excitement to attract new fans. A few years later, what we have is parity in its ugliest form - boring, unwatchable hockey. Goals haven't gone up, the offensive skills of the league's superstars aren't being showcased, and the game is worse than it was before the league's "zero-tolerance" policy.

Parity has given rise to a number of teams playing crap hole hockey, we speak of the likes of the New York Islanders, the Vancouver Canucks, the St. Louis Blues and a few others who are playing a version of "kitty bar the door", banking on great goaltending performances to keep them in games and relying on a counter attack to score the occasional goal. These teams aren't playing to win - they're playing not to lose; so they employ systems like "the wedge" (St. Louis), to "the trap" (Vancouver), to five men behind the red line (NY Islanders) in order to kill the flow of the game. The Devils and Wild have used some or all of these systems to achieve success over the last few years.

The league's new "zero-tolerance" policy has made a number of donkeys look like visionaries and team builders. We speak of the Montreal Canadiens - a crap hole hockey team if there ever was one. Canadian so-called "hockey experts" point to the Habs as one of the league's best teams - funny, from our vantage point, they seem like a below average hockey team, whose fortunes are directly related to how many power plays they get. Montreal, over the course of the last few years, has been outplayed, out muscled, and outscored badly in 5 on 5 action - but having one of the league's best power plays has saved them from being on of the league's worst teams. Montreal's results can be directly linked to the officiating in the game - if the referees call everything, Montreal wins with a few power play goals; if the refs let the players play, they lose - its as simple as that. Is that the measure of a good hockey team? We think not. You can lump in the Pittsburgh Penguins, this year's Chicago Blackhawks, and the Carolina Hurricanes in with the Canadiens.

The NHL is hoping to sell parity to the casual hockey fan as a way of generating interest/revenue - seriously, they're selling it for $20 - $30 bucks a month in the form of the Center Ice Package. After watching a period of last night's Tards/Isles game - we can't imagine why anyone would want to pay for the privilege of watching the "shyte" they called hockey last night. It was a classic example of a team holding on for dear life to get a point (Isles) and then pulling a win out in a shootout (another stupid "innovation"). It is becoming commonplace in the new NHL - does it mean that "on any given night" any team can win…sure, but who cares? Who is watching? Who wants to watch anyone but his or her hometown team? (Unless you are an out of market viewer who wants to catch a NESN broadcast - hahaha).

The NHL will never generate enough interest in the game to get to where they want to go, they're failure to realize that they are making the game worse will end up being the killer in a league that already has four or five franchises failing miserably in terms of revenue.

On one of those rare days where having Canadian broadcasts beat the US - we all get to watch Tony Romo and the Cowboys take on the Green Bay Packers - we don't need the NFL Network when we have TSN! A lot has been made about the dream season the Packers are having - the latest "expert" to bow before Brett Favre's altar is "Peyton Manning ball-washer" (used by a Peep who goes by the name of Sparky) Pete Prisco of CBS Sportsline - everyone loves their offence and the way their defence is playing. We have one question - just WHO has their defence played, other than a Chargers team that had their heads up their asses when they played at Lambeau? The dream season turns into a nightmare tonight in Big D, when the Packers face the Cowboys.

After ranting about the state of the NHL - no three stars today; they're all crap!

We won't get burned by San Jose or Anaheim again - they're both on the crap list (though we think the Ducks get it done tonight in Calgary). Tonight's suggestions:

Dallas -7 over Green Bay - everyone thinks this spread is too high, they'll change their minds by the end of the 3rd quarter. We've maintained since day one that the Packers are counterfeit, Romo and the Cowboys prove it tonight. Lay $100 on the Boys.

Vancouver over Columbus - read above, crap hole team, but they have the best goalie in the league. Lay $100 on the Canucks - $180.

NY Rangers over NY Islanders - the Isles bank on DiPietro which gives them a shot most nights, it won't tonight though - not with Henrik Lundqvist in goal for the Rangers. Rangers win a yawner (read unwatchable game). Lay $100 on the Rangers - $200.

That's it for today gang - sorry for the late post - thanks for taking the time to check in.

Hazel, we hope things are groovy in your world.

We're Out!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Sunny Side of the Street

Hey Peeps and anyone else checking in. A special “Hey” goes out to Hazel Mae if she is checking in.

Today is one of those days where no news is bad news. While many in Leaf Nation, yours truly included, believed/hoped that last night’s loss to the Canadiens would result in news from Toronto that General Manger John Ferguson Jr. had been relieved of his duties, such has not been the case.

Still though, we are looking for the silver lining today; we’re going to take a walk on the sunny side of the street.

Normally, we’re pretty crusty after a loss by the Leafs – we could be ranting about blowing two two-goal leads, another failed shootout, the questionable officiating where touching a Montreal player resulted in an interference/hooking/slashing or holding call, or how two of JFJ’s donkeys (McCabe and Andy Wozniewski) were in the penalty box together on Montreal’s third goal (second power play goal) of the night.

Remember, sunny side of the street; there were some positives in last night’s game:
• Captain Mats Sundin scored his 400th goal in a Leafs uniform, with less than 30 seconds left in regulation, to tie the game and get a point. Sundin also tied a Leafs record with at least one point in 14 consecutive home games.

• The loss last night should pretty much seal the fate of John Ferguson Jr. Another unacceptable performance that highlighted how “not ready for primetime” some of JFJ’s signings have been. Hello Andy Wozniewski!

Ok, so it may not really be “some” positives – unless our dream of Richard Peddie being removed from everything to do with the operation of the hockey team comes true. Oh what a Merry Christmas that would make for.

UEFA’s Champions League was in action yesterday, with Sporting Lisbon visiting Old Trafford to take on Manchester United. Again, we don’t normally celebrate losses by Portuguese teams – but Cristiano Ronaldo scored the game winner three minutes into injury time to secure a 2-1 win.

Toronto Maple Leafs Captain Mats Sundin scores a late goal to hit two milestones – the exclamation point on his night came when he made Habs goalie Carey Price look like a donkey in the shootout.

Manchester United Winger Cristiano Ronaldo scores the winner against his old team to lead the Red Devils to a come from behind 2-1 win over Sporting Lisbon.

Lyon Midfielder Juninho scored a game-tying goal on a penalty in the 80th minute against Barcelona.

VfB Stuttgart Forward Ciprian Marica scored the game-winning goal in the 85th minute against Rangers.

Why the three football players? We were on the verge of ripping up a Pro-Line ticket when these three goals took place within minutes of each other – a 50-1 long-shot ticket (long-shot except for Man U) comes through. It’s going to make for a great Friday night…right Tilt?

Still trying to figure out how the NFL came to the decision to let Pittsburgh and Miami play Monday night. The total for the week stands - $190. Today’s suggestions:

Colorado over Edmonton – the Oilers have been better of late, but they don’t have enough to win in Colorado; Avs get it done tonight. Lay $100 on the Avs - $220.

San Jose over Los Angeles – this one burned us on Saturday, but San Jose won’t lose two in a row at home to the Kings. Lay $100 on the Sharks - $220.

Ottawa over NY Islanders – the Tards have been embarrassed in their last few games, so we’re expecting them to respond on Long Island tonight. Lay $100 on the Tards - $150.

That’s it for today gang – thanks for taking the time to check in. Special thanks to Tilt for posting this. Have a great one peeps.

Today’s song of the day – what else but:

Sunny Side of the Street – The Pogues

Hazel, we hope things are groovy in your world – Erin Andrews ain’t got nothin’ on you kid.

We’re Out!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Dumb & Dumber

Meet Toronto's version of Harry and Lloyd:

Above is Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager John Ferguson Junior - architect of horrible trades, overseer of awful drafting (in the case of draft picks he hasn't traded), fairy godfather to the likes of Bryan McCabe, Hal Gill, Pavel Kubina, Jason Blake and too many more to mention, and scrooge to the likes of Paul Maurice, the coach he hand picked and tried to fire last weekend for the team's failings.

Below JFJ is Toronto Maple Leafs President Richard Peddie - Corporate big wig with no knowledge of the game of hockey entrusted to provide the organization with vision and leadership (when his head is removed from the collective rectum of the Ontario Teachers' Pension Fund representatives on the Board of Directors). Mr. Peddie is man of real integrity who admitted earlier this week that he may have made a mistake in hiring a GM with no experience to run Canada's team - he only admitted this five years after the fact and it had nothing to do with the fact he is trying to distant himself from this mess and save his hide.

Don't bother looking for these two at the Air Canada Centre - they're more likely to be found at a Service Canada office applying for "Pogie" (get it Leaf Nation?).


Monday, November 26, 2007

Monday Musings

Hey Peeps and anyone else checking in. A special “Hey” goes out to Hazel Mae if she is checking in.

It looks like the lack luster performance put in the by Toronto Maple Leafs this past weekend has sealed the fate of John Ferguson Jr. The talk in the media and call-in shows has shifted from whether or not he will be fired to the list of potential candidates to replace him. Over the weekend, the names of Mark Messier, Steve Yzerman and Ron Francis were being mentioned as potential successors/saviors to inherit the mess created by JFJ.

A scan of this morning’s papers has shed a bit more light on who might be next in line to take one of the most high-profile management jobs in all of professional sports. As has become customary, Leaf Nation was sold a bill of goods on this one. It seems that the leading candidates are TSN Analyst Glen Healy, who is on record as saying he would hire a man like Messier to help him fix the mess that is the Toronto Maple Leafs, and NHL executive vice president and director of hockey operations Colin Campbell, who many believe would bring former Red Wings great Steve Yzerman on as an assistant GM.

While both may have their merits, neither are what the Maple Leafs need. The Maple Leafs are in the enviable, or unenviable (depending on how you look at it) position of being in the center of the hockey world – forget Montreal, Toronto is where its at. The politicking that goes on in the Leafs boardroom necessitates a strong and very well-respected hockey person to take the job – a larger than life figure that would command the respect of the Leafs Board of Directors (read, wouldn’t be afraid to tell the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Fund where to go), along with being able to handle the pressure from the media.

Glen Healy and Colin Campbell are not the guys to do it – Mark Messier would be a natural choice with Steve Yzerman coming a close second. While Messier and Yzerman have not had any real hands on experience in running a team – they both know what it takes to build winning teams, having spent years playing for winning organizations. Both would bring an attitude of winning to the organization; instead of what we have now, where the goal is simply to make the playoffs and hope for the best.

While some might laugh off the hiring of Messier or Yzerman as nothing more than a PR move from a desperate hockey team – we would expect to hear the term “figurehead” being thrown around – both are proud men who wouldn’t risk their professional reputation to be “yes men” for a Board of Directors that only cares about the bottom line. Their star power and sheer strength of character would be enough to quiet the suits in the boardroom and focus the organization on building a winning team as opposed to building a winner on the Toronto Stock Exchange. The respect these two command in the world of hockey would enable them to have their pick of the best and the brightest to help them reshape, retool or rebuild this team in relatively short order.

Here’s hoping that, for once, Maple Leafs Sports Entertainment does the right thing and hire someone who can attract the right people to fix the mess JFJ built.

Thoughts and observations from Week 12 of the NFL

Lost in the wake of the Eagles/Patriots game is how much of a donkey Donovan McNabb really is. We aren’t buying the injury talk, McNabb has played through worse injuries – he took his ass out because he was afraid of facing the Patriots after questioning the legitimacy of their Super Bowl win over the Eagles. The Eagles can spin it any way they want – but you have to think he lost a lot of respect (or what was left of it) from his teammates for saying he couldn’t go. Terrell Owens was criticized for what he said about McNabb – but with each passing season, it looks more and more like McNabb can’t be counted on when the going gets tough.

Giants QB Eli Manning proved this past weekend that he is a real team guy – when asked about his performance against the Vikings, Manning spread the blame around, talking about how when you fall behind you press to make things happen. Manning throws the whole team under the bus instead of taking full responsibility for throwing four interceptions, three of which went back for touchdowns. We’re waiting for someone in the Giants front office to realize that they made a mistake with this guy and that he isn’t going to lead them to anything but disappointment.

Losing begets losing. How else do you explain the Arizona Cardinals losing to the 49ers in overtime? The Cardinals had the game in their hands, an almost automatic 32-yard field goal to win the game and they not only manage to miss it, they fumble the ball in their own end zone on the next possession. It sounds cliché – but special teams cost the Cardinals the win; one blocking from behind penalty costs them 25 yards of field position on their last drive in regulation, a second penalty put them back on their own three yard line in overtime, leading to the game ending fumble.

Why is everyone dumping on Bengals WR Chad Johnson for yesterday’s TD celebrations? For the record, we’re down with Ocho Cinco – he brings some personality and humour to the “No Fun League”. Ya, maybe it isn’t a great idea to be celebrating TDs when your team is 4-7 – but he’s in the midst of a tough season…let him celebrate a great game.

Is there a dirtier player in the NFL than NY Giants LB Antonio Pierce? Watch a Giants game and there will be at least three instances where Pierce hurls his body to hit a guy that is already down. If anyone ever deserved the Albert Hainesworth foot stomp to the throat – it is without a doubt Antonio Pierce.

Mike Shanahan – rising up the ranks as most hated person in the NFL? We’d say yes.

Saskatchewan Roughriders DB James Johnson picked off three passes, taking one back 3o yards for a TD, to lead the Riders to a 23-19 win in the CFL’s Grey Cup game.

Chicago Bears KR Devin Hester sticks it to Mike Shanahan and the Broncos, returning a punt and a kickoff back for touchdowns to lead the Bears to a 37-34 win over Denver.

Cincinnati Bengals WR Chad “Ocho Cinco” Johnson caught twelve passes for 103 yards and three TDs in a 35-6 win over Tennessee.

We wrapped up our worst week ever here – no excuses, just apologies to those of you who check in for our picks. To those who were nice enough to email us about the cash you made going against us – congratulations, we dare you to keep doing it. The total for the year is really ugly (- $2,400), but we have 40 weeks to make that up and get back on the right side of the balance sheet. Our suggestions for tonight

Pittsburgh –16 over Miami – if the Steelers weren’t smarting enough from a loss to the Jets, you can bet they were watching what happened in New England yesterday. No let down for Pittsburgh tonight – they’ll pound Miami. Lay $100 on the Steelers.

Philadelphia over Boston – the Flyers are coming off a big win against the SenaTards on Saturday night, so you can expect that to carry over tonight against the Bruins. Lay $100 on the Flyers - $180.

Buffalo over Washington – the Caps have won two in a row under their new coach, but they’re facing a Sabres team that is playing their best hockey of the season. Clock strikes twelve on the Caps tonight. Lay $100 on the Sabres at even money.

That’s it for today gang – thanks for taking the time to check in. Special thanks to Ottawa_Tilt for posting this. Have a great one peeps.

Hazel, we hope things are groovy in your world.

We’re Out!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Sunday Afternoon Suggestions

For those of you checking in for Three Play - we're a little late.

Arizona -105. over San Fran - the Cards get it done in a big way today. Lay $100 on the Cards.

Chicago -1 over Denver - the Broncos don't travel well so you'd be wise to lay your coin against them. The Bears need this game. Lay $100 on Chicago.

Baltimore +9.5 over San Diego - the popular pick will be the Chargers, but don't trust them to cover this big of a number, especially against a Ravens team that might have discovered some offence. Lay $100 on the Ravens.

Good luck if you play them - we're out!

Things hit rock bottom in Toronto

Hey Peeps and anyone else checking in. A special "Hey" goes out to Hazel Mae if she is checking in.

A brutal night in every sense of the word last night - highlighted (or low-lighted) by the Leafs getting embarrassed by the Phoenix Coyotes. The wagons are circling in Toronto today - JFJ is about to be burned at the stake, likely taking Paul Maurice with him. Talk in Toronto is that three former greats are being considered to replace Ferguson Jr. as GM of the Maple Leafs - Mark Messier, Ron Francis and Steve Yzerman are thought to be front runners.

Some will say that this shows desperation on the part of the Maple Leafs - maybe, but we'll tell Leaf Nation why this is a very good thing. More to come later, or more likely tomorrow - but we applaud this thinking...if its true.

Grey Cup Sunday up here with the Saskatchewan Roughriders and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers meeting in Hazel's hometown, at Hazel's old stomping grounds - the Rogers Centre. Saskatchewan is heavily favoured as Winnipeg is forced to turn to Ryan Dinwiddie as their starting QB, after Kevin Glenn suffered a broken arm in the Eastern Conference finals. Former Seattle Seahawks safety Kerry Joseph, Saskatchewan's starting QB, is poised to lead the Green Riders to their first Grey Cup in 20 years. Factoid about today's Grey Cup - the game features the teams with the CFL's worst records in Grey Cup games; together they have lost 25 Grey Cup games. We're think Hazel might take a break from her NFL Sunday to take a peek in on the big game.

There were some star performances yesterday - likely more than three - but in the wake of yesterday's embarrassment in Phoenix, we can't bring ourselves to check scoreboard to nominate anyone.

We were beyond bad last night - a first ever - an 0-5 night; we should have picked NCAA Football yesterday, because we were 7-0 and have the Pro-Line ticket to prove it. We'll add up to total tomorrow; today is all about chipping away at the ugliness. You don't have to take our word for it - but the law of averages says we have to rebound eventually...might as well be today. Today's suggestions (if you are still with us)

KANSAS CITY -4.5 over Oakland - we know all about the divisional games, but does anyone expect Culpepper and the Raiders to keep this one close after an abysmal performance last week? Didn't think so. Lay $100 on the Chiefs

ST. LOUIS +3.0 over Seattle - the Rams seem to have gotten things together (after an 0-8 start) and get points at home to the road wimp Seahawks? You have to take the points in this one - Rams will win outright. Lay $100 on St. Louis + $105.

CAROLINA +2.5 over New Orleans - the Saints seem to be the betting public's favourite today, but we aren't trusting these chumps. Carolina hasn't won at home yet, you have to figure they'll eventually win - so why not take them against a team that has been up and down (mostly down)? The X factor in this game is that Jason David will be taking the field for the Saints - so you can expect a monster game from Steve Smith. Lay $100 on the Panthers - $105.

TAMPA BAY -3.5 over Washington - the Bucs can take their division by the throat with a win today - Redskins still have injury issues in secondary which means Garcia to Galloway will be mentioned often today. Bucs get it done today at home. Lay $100 on the Bucs.

We'll check in before 4 pm with a few more picks - if you are still with us.

That's it for today gang - we're feeling under the weather today, which may explain our awful night last night - thanks for taking the time to check in. Apologies to all the Three Play readers...we were awful, but we'll rebound.

Hazel, we hope things are groovy in your world; enjoy your NFL Sunday.

We're Out

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Saturday Night Three Play

Hey Peeps and anyone else checking in. A special "Hey" goes out to Hazel Mae if she is checking in.

No time today - so we're doing tonight's picks in the NHL. Total for the week is a little ugly (-$600) but we'll chip away at that tonight. We've looked it over and tonight's picks are solid.

Montreal over Buffalo - Habs will be looking to avenge their loss in Buffalo last night - back to back games usually split. Lay $100 on Montreal - $160.

Detroit over Columbus - Blue Jackets played great yesterday in Minnesota (much to our chagrin) but we like the Wings tonight who are rested and waiting in Columbus - they call these "ambush games". Lay $100 on Detroit - $170.

San Jose over Los Angeles - another match up that has killed us in the past, but we are going back to the well with the Sharks who should get it done tonight against a Kings team that has been struggling of late. Lay $100 on San Jose - $230.

Toronto over Phoenix - Leafs are playing to save Paul Maurice's job - a loss tonight could result in big changes. Expect Mats Sundin to be dominant tonight as he tries to rescue the team from this mess. Lay $100 on Toronto - $110.

Colorado over Calgary - the Avs have won 8 of their last 10 vs Calgary and will be looking to avenge their recent loss to Calgary. Avs get it done tonight. Lay $100 on Colorado - $150.

Also consider Philadelphia over Ottawa and Pittsburgh over Atlanta.

That's it for today gang - thanks for taking the time to check in. Have a great one Peeps.

Hazel, we hope things are groovy in your world - if you're checking in, Leafs need some Hazel Karma tonight. Leaf Nation would appreciate anything you can do to help us out in Phoenix tonight.

We're Out!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Friday Night "Threep"

For those of you checking in for night games.

Carolina over Tampa Bay - the last time these two met in Carolina, it was ugly as Carolina got caned by Tampa - expect a reversal tonight. Lay $100 on the Canes - $150.

NY Rangers over Florida - Rangers are playing really well right now, no reason to expect it to come to an end. Lay $100 on the Rangers - $130.

New Jersey over Atlanta - the Thrashers are playing well, but a team that plays good D will give them some trouble. Lay $100 on the Devils + $110.

Bonus Pick - go with the Maple Leafs tonight - Hazel Karma plus the fact that the Leafs watched the Cowboys yesterday from a luxury seat in Irving. Leafs will win this one tonight...just ask Hazel.

That's it gang - we'll do our NFL picks tomorrow.

We're Out!

It's called Turkey Day for a reason

Hey Peeps and anyone else checking in. A special "Hey" goes out to Hazel Mae if she is checking in.

A belated Happy Thanksgiving to our friends south of the border. What is there to talk about on Thanksgiving Friday other than NFL Football? We enjoyed an afternoon off with all the fixins - yes, Canadians celebrate American Thanksgiving (well, NFL fans do).

First off, we are thankful that the Cowboys laid a beating on the Jets yesterday - it wasn't one of Tony Romo's best performances, but it was enough to get the win. The 10-1 started is the best ever for the franchise. We still think the Cowboys teams of the 90's lead by Aikman, Smith and Irvin are the best in the franchise's history - but we aren't complaining about this year's team. On another note, it really has to suck to be a Jets fan these days.

Its time to close the book on the 2007 Detroit Lions. They started out the season talking about winning 10 games - we didn't buy it then, and we certainly aren't buying it now (especially since we wasted a six point pick plus the points in the pool). The Lions are the poster boys for parity in the NFL - they built their early season record against some pretty weak teams and get pounded by good teams. From now on, we are going against the Lions regardless, of what the spread is.

Colts beat the Falcons - so much for Atlanta stepping up to play their Super Bowl. Ya, we put one point on the Falcons + 12.5; you have to take some chances to win a week in the pool.

Bad news from Europe - England announced that they had fired Manager Steve McClaren after England's collapse against Croatia on Wednesday night at Wembley. We say "bad news" because we are sad to see that England won't be at the Euro 2008 tournament in Switzerland/Austria - with England out, it only leaves the Netherlands as our bitches. Yes, Portugal goes into every international tournament knowing that we can and will beat the English and the Dutch.

We're pressed for time today so we have to boot.

For Thanksgiving Thursday we are highlighting the turkeys (more like donkeys).

The Ottawa SenaTards blew a couple of two goal leads in losing 6-5 to Pittsburgh in a shootout. Normally we would celebrate a loss by the Tards - but they blew up a pretty good Pro-Line ticket, so we aren't in a celebratory mood.

Detroit Lions QB Jon Kitna really stepped up yesterday - with everything to prove, he laid an egg - 19/40 for 224 with an interception. You can't be taken seriously if Kitna is your QB.

We've had a tough week so far, but we'll get back on track with a few afternoon games - we'll be back later for the night games.

Boston over NY Islanders - Irregardless of the start both teams are off to, we still think they'll be lightweights by the end of the season. We're all caught up in the love for Tuukka Rask (though he probably won't play today) - does Hazel bring the Bruins good karma by showing up at the game today???? Lay $100 on the Bruins - $130.

Minnesota over Columbus - the Wild dropped their last home game to the Canucks, so expect them to come out on fire today against Columbus. Lay $100 on Minnesota - $170.

Anaheim over Phoenix - this game has killed us in the past, we are going with Anaheim one last time - if they blow another against the Coyotes, we're done with them. Lay $100 on the Ducks - $210.

That's it for this morning gang - thanks for taking the time to check in...for those of you who are off today, enjoy your Thanksgiving long weekend.

Hazel, we hope things are groovy in your world.

We're Out!!!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Wednesday Rant

Hey Peeps and anyone else checking in. A special "Hey" goes out to Hazel Mae if she is checking in.

As sports fans our daily ritual consists of opening up the sports pages of our favourite newspapers, visiting our favourite websites, or checking in on our favourite blogs (Thoughts of Hazel Mae perhaps?) to see what is being written about the teams we follow.

We look for the "behind the scenes stories" or some insight on what is happening in the world of sports - but most days, the "behind the scenes" stories are just filler with standard lines and information (rumours) from "sources close to the situation"; at best, the "insight" we are getting doesn't amount to much more than a PR/Communications function for the team or being trying to be provocative or controversial by focusing only on the negatives, from the Dan Shaughnessy school of "journalism".

Some days you have to ask yourself - "Why bother? What's the point?" (again, hopefully you don't say those things about our little corner of the internet). A few examples of what has us saying "Huh?"

Mike Lowell and the Boston Red Sox held a press conference yesterday to announce that they had reached an agreement on a three-year contract worth $37.5M. While not being members of Red Sox Nation, we can understand the excitement about the announcement - an important part of the 2007 Championship team has re-signed for three more years. Everyone said all the right things during the press conference - "Don" Epstein said that getting Mike Lowell back to Boston was his main priority; Mike Lowell says it "wasn't all about the money" and how he wanted to stay in Boston; let the love affair between Lowell and Red Sox Nation be rekindled - we're all about being warm and fuzzy here at Thoughts of Hazel Mae. But seriously, the write-ups on the announcement were pretty much off the shelf material:

Start with rumours of potential suitors who missed out on Lowell - make sure to mention the words "money left on the table";
Sprinkle in a few quotes from Mike about how much he loves the city and fans;
End it with some news on transactions

Presto in 15 minutes you've satisfied your editor and presumably Red Sox Nation with a neat little wrap up that has everyone wanting to throw a log on the fire and cuddle up with Mike Lowell. - it's Miller time now baby!

Then we have the write-ups about the Leafs vs Bruins game from last night - a game, that from the perspective of some was almost "unwatchable". Luckily for the print media in Boston and Toronto there were story lines to follow - there was some "insight" to be given on this particular game.

We some of the crustier members of the Toronto media reveling in the fact that a former Maple Leafs prospect won his first career NHL start against the team that traded him away - in their own building no less. You could almost see the smug little smile on a certain "journalist's" miserable mug as he typed out yet another "I hate the Toronto Maple Leafs" article (if you call his particular brand of drivel "an article"). You could almost see him giggling with glee as he regaled his readers with another article how about bad the management in Toronto is - because in his mind, only HE can see this - and how this management will regret trading away prospects.which , of course, is something HE would never have done.

On the opposite side of the spectrum - you have print media in Boston who, for the most part, recapped the game's salient points (as beat writers should) - but somewhere along the way go WAY off the deep end about a very good performance by a goalie making his first career start. We're down with giving Rask kudos for winning last night (you happy now Quikdraw???), but seriously, when a beat writers says "One day, we may look back on last night's game vs. the Maple Leafs as a key moment in history: The day Tuukka Rask introduced himself to the NHL", you really have to ask this guy "how long have you been watching hockey?" As much as we love our Maple Leafs, they are still a middle of the pack team and this guy is going to annoint a rookie goaltender with number one status based on one game against a team that has struggled at home all year long? The dude needs to be shaken - or provided with the very long list of goalies who have won their first career game and NOT become players of historical significance. Geezus man, how bad are things in Boston when it comes to the Bruins?

Admittedly we're a little crusty today - 3 inches of snow in a surprise storm, our "counterpart" buzzing us with taunting emails about Rask burning Toronto last night and no clear cut "lock pick" for this week's NFL pool (maybe that's a good omen) - so apologies in advance if we were overly snarky today. Oh yeah, NO three stars today - we're good sports.just not THAT good.

Today should be better though - we hope; Portugal hosts Finland on the last day of qualifying matches for Euro 2008. The boys in maroon and green only need a tie to advance to the big tournament - normally, we'd feel pretty confident about that happening, but strange things regarding officiating have been happening down the stretch. We've got our fingers crossed that the game won't be decided on one or more questionable calls and that it unfolds the way it should - Portugal 2 - 0 Finland. We'd ask for Hazel Karma.but we're pretty sure she isn't down with the Euro qualifiers.

Tough night last night in more ways than one - the week starts off on an awful note - $180. We'll give you three winners tonight.

Detroit over St. Louis - the Wings normally dominate teams in their division, they've had a couple of hiccups lately, but they'll get things straightened out against the Blues tonight. Lay $100 on Detroit - $250.

Minnesota over Vancouver - there's some bad blood in this game, stemming from the Mattias Ohlund incident with Koivu - you probably saw the slash. Canucks missing three regulars on D and go into Minnesota where the Wild are lights out. Lay $100 on the Wild - $160.

Carolina over Philadelphia - aside from the fact we hate the Flyers, we still think they are over-rated. The Canes are solid at home and should benefit from last change tonight to beat Bob Clarke's boys (no matter who is coaching, or who is GM - it will always be Bob Clarke's team). Lay $100 on the Canes - $145.

That's it for today gang - thanks for taking the time to check in.

Hazel, we hope things are groovy in your world.

We're Out!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Godfather Part IV - Don Epstein

The prevailing wisdom is that success in running a professional sports team comes down to how well you, as a manager, can adapt and copy-cat what successful managers are doing – winning organizations become “model franchises” for other managers and organizations who aspire to win the big prize.

The NFL’s model franchise is New England, but others point to the on and off-field (read “financial”) success of teams like the Colts and the Cowboys; changes in the style of play in the NHL have always followed what the Stanley Cup winning team did to get there – Brian Burke’s success in Anaheim has teams talking about being bigger and tougher…you know, “harder to play against”. We’re not big NBA fans, but teams like San Antonio and Phoenix seem to have put together great organizations (Steve Nash will eventually win one).

Major League Baseball has been the last to adopt that kind of philosophy – sure, “moneyball” was the buzz word for a few years, but for the most part it was a case of the Yankees, Red Sox, Mets, Braves and Dodgers with money to spend, with the rest of the teams picking over the scraps. MLB’s free-agent season was often characterized by GMs blowing their loads faster than 14 year old boys on the verge of becoming “men”; you need look no further than what Theo Epstein’s AL East counterpart, J.P. Ricciardi, did in signing over the hill DH Frank Thomas to a 2 year $20M deal – or Ned Coletti (Red Sox West) signing Jason Schmidt to a 3 year $47M deal.

Things may be changing, and MLB Owners and GMs have Theo Epstein to thank for it. Epstein had the unenviable task of negotiating contracts with two fan favourites in the wake of winning another World Series. Chants of “Sign Mike Lowell” were heard during celebrations in Colorado – later to be followed by a Curt Schilling’s public campaign to be re-signed by the team.

Rumours of big money deals being offered to both didn’t phase Epstein and Red Sox Management – we’re guessing in the case of Schilling, most of the rumours were started by him; in the case of Mike Lowell, likely by his agents who miscalculated the interest in their client. If that wasn’t enough to deal with, Esptein also had to answer questions about his interest in ARod – you remember the game 7 fARod/Scott Boras fiasco – where Boras said his client would opt out of his contract to test free agency and that it would take $350M to get his client’s attention.

The pressure was on Epstein who was coming off a less than impressive 2006 off-season (J.D. Drew and Lugo) and had to deal with the looming presence of the New York Yankees who were looking to reload in a hurry.

Epstein ignored the numbers being thrown out in the case of both of his free-agents and didn’t even bother with Boras and ARod. He knew what he was dealing with – on one hand, a blowhard who’s main concern is his own legacy, and would be willing to accept a pay-cut (in his mind) for a chance at another World Series ring which would likely guarantee his spot in Cooperstown; and on the other hand, a good player who’s inflated numbers were probably more a result of him playing in the perfect situation than an indication of future production.

Epstein pretty much called the bluffs of his free-agents, their agents and every other GM who were “considering tendering an offer”. Some may argue that it was easy for him, as he was dealing from a position of strength – but the possibility of being second-guessed and questioned about allowing vital cogs in his championship team walk still makes his call a gutsy one.

Epstein’s stance has already has a profound effect on the 2007 free-agent season – certainly it is no coincidence that when he didn’t jump at the chance to talk to Boras about his client, ARod decided to re-sign with the Yankees, citing his warm and fuzzy feelings for New York. Epstein’s refusal to get into a bidding war over this year’s crop of free agents has taken away a major negotiating ploy for agents – pitting teams against each other for their client’s services. Scott Boras doesn’t seem so scary anymore.

Epstein may not have tendered Lowell and Schilling “offers they couldn’t refuse”, but it was pretty close to making them “offers they wouldn’t refuse”. Epstein has to be considered the Godfather of MLB General Managers.

As an aside, we always find it particularly funny when fans applaud their team’s management for “not overpaying” for a player – we all like to be armchair GMs and owners, but seriously, get over yourselves, you aren’t paying the tab. Before pointing to ticket prices – stop, the price goes up every year, whether our teams sign big name players or not.

So we’re pretty sure Hazel’s attention will be on the great city of Toronto tonight where HER Maple Leafs host the Boston Bruins at the ACC. The Maple Leafs are coming off their best performance of the season, beating the SenaTards by a score of 3-0 on Saturday night; while the Bruins are coming off a 7-4 drubbing at the hands of the Canadiens. There’s speculation that former Leafs’ prospect Tuukka Rask will start between the pipes for the Bruins tonight – we’ll say what we said before last Thursday’s game – BAD IDEA; but then again, the words “bad idea” can pretty much sum up GM Peter Chiarelli’s brief tenure with the team. Bruins get a beatdown tonight – with or without “Hazel Karma” (though Leaf Nation would like to think it’s the former rather than the latter).

Thanksgiving Thursday means our NFL picks have to be in early - we’ll post our picks for the games being played on Thursday, with the rest to follow on Friday as usual. We’re liking Lions plus the points, the Cowboys minus the points and the Falcons plus the points – but we’re still thinking about it.


Florida Panthers C Olli Jokinen had two goals in a 4-3 win over the Washington Capitals – for those of you who haven’t seen him play, he is one of the league’s most under-rated superstars.

St. Louis Blues LW Paul Kariya had a goal and an assist in a 2-1 win over Nashville.

NY Islanders G Rick DiPietro stops 19 shots in a 2-1 win over the New York Rangers.


We finished up last week on a tough note – winding up - $50 for the week. The total for the year, going back to week 1 of the NFL season is - $750. Tonight’s suggestions:

Toronto over Boston – Hazel Karma or not, Leafs get it done tonight. Lay $100 on Toronto - $160.

Edmonton over Vancouver – the Canucks have been on fire, but they’ll be missing three regulars on defence; it is going to catch up with them sooner or later. Lay $50 on the Oilers + $110.

Colorado over Calgary – the Avs are in a bit of a funk lately, but they have owned the Flames over their last eight games. We’re calling for an upset (mild one) tonight. Lay $100 on the Avs + $115.

That’s it for today gang – thanks for taking the time to check in. Have a great one.

Hazel, we hope things are groovy in your world – enjoy the game tonight and don’t be afraid to scream Go Leafs Go.

We’re Out!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sunday Late Game Three Play

For those of you checking in for late games

St. Louis -3 over San Francisco - Lay $100 on the Rams.

Pittsburgh -9 over NY Jets - Lay $100 on Steelers

Chicago +6 over Seattle - Lay $100 on Bears.

That's it for this afternoon.


Sunday's Best

Hey Peeps and anyone else checking in. A special "Hey" goes out to Hazel Mae if she is checking in.

No time to gloat about the Leafs win over the Tards and Portugal's win over Armenia - we're just chalking it up to Hazel Karma; at least in the case of the former. Today's Three Play suggestions:

Oakland +4.5 over MINNESOTA - we like Culpepper to keep it close (yes, we can't believe we're saying that). Lay $100 on the Raiders.

PHILADELPHIA -9.5 over Miami - another Donkey (McNabb) will probably look like a champ today. Lay $100 on the Eagles.

Cleveland -2.5 over BALTIMORE - the beginning of the end for Brian Billick. Lay $100 on the Browns.

INDIANAPOLIS -14.5 over Kansas City - this is going to be an ugly one. Lay $100 on the Colts.

That's it for this morning gang - we'll post the 4pm picks later. Thanks for taking the time to check in and enjoy your NFL Sunday.

Hazel, we hope things are groovy in your world - Leafs were really good last night.

We're Out!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Football Picks

Hey Peeps and anyone else checking in. A special "Hey" goes out to Hazel Mae if she is checking in.

We usually post our NFL picks for the week on Saturday - if you are one of the regular readers, you know the drill. The spreads are locked on Wednesday and the pool is weighted. We had a tough week last week (stinking Saints) but we'll rebound this week.

16) INDIANAPOLIS -14.5 over Kansas City - the Colts get Marvin Harrison back this week; that is the last thing the Chiefs need, considering they'll be facing an embarrassed Peyton Manning who will be looking to atone for last Sunday night's awful performance. Chiefs have issues everywhere and are turning to Brodie Croyle to start at QB. This one could, and probably will get ugly.

15) Oakland +5.5 over MINNESOTA - this should not be interpreted as having any faith in Daunte Culpepper - it has everything to do with the fact that we don't believe the Vikings can generate enough offence to cover without Adrian Peterson. Oakland has kept themselves in a number of games this year against teams with much better offensive units.

14) St. Louis -2.5 over SAN FRANCISCO - the Rams finally won - much to our chagrin; but what you need to know about this one is that Steven Jackson of the Rams has had huge games against the 49ers; if that isn't enough for you, Trent Dilfer is starting for San Fran.

13) Cleveland -2.5 over BALTIMORE - the Browns have too much offence for the Ravens, they have proven they can score points against anyone; all the Ravens have proven is that they can't score. They'll be calling for McNair's head in Baltimore on Monday morning.

12) Tampa Bay -3.5 over ATLANTA - Bucs coming off a bye week and their defence should be well rested and ready to get after Happy Feet Harrington. Look for Joey Galloway to be a factor on Sunday.

11) Pittsburgh -9.5 over NY JETS - the Steelers usually beat the crap out of bad teams (as long as they are in an Eastern time zone), expect them to pound the Jets after surviving a scare against the Browns - they're thinking about bye on Wild Card Weekend. The Jets won't put up much of a fight.

10) DALLAS -10.5 over Washington - the Skins have won three of their last four against Dallas, but they SHOULD be 1-3. Romo and the Cowboys are feeling it right now so they'll get their points against the Skins. The Boys will bring Roy Williams up into the box and dare Jason Campbell to beat them - not likely.

09) New England -15.5 over BUFFALO - Bills will be without Marshawn Lynch against a rested Patriots team - do you think J.P. Losman can lead the Bills to 14 points? They're going to need at least that much to cover against the Pats. Didn't think so.

08) PHILADELPHIA -9.5 over Miami - you know how McNabb plays against lousy teams, he'll look like a Pro-Bowler again on Sunday against the Dolphins. The Eagles play the run tough - so they'll neutralize Miami's run game and make the Dolphins beat them through the air with rookie John Beck at the helm...again, don't think so.

07) GREEN BAY -9.5 over Carolina - the Panthers haven't lost on the road this year, that all changes on Sunday at Lambeau. We still don't think the Pack is all that - but their defence has more than enough to keep Testaverde and Smith in check and you know Favre and the Packers will be good for 24 points or more.

06) JACKSONVILLE -2.5 over San Diego - the Chargers were lucky to beat an under-manned Colts team last Sunday night; they'll find things considerably tougher against the Jags. Don't forget, the Chargers are crossing three time zones to play this game. The Jags offence should be able to move the ball with David Garrard back at QB.

05) Tennessee +2.5 over DENVER - Titans D should be able to pressure Jay Cutler into making a few mistakes and their offence should be able to move the ball a little against a suspect Broncos D. We like Vince Young and LenDale White on Monday night.

04) Arizona -3.5 CINCINNATI - the Bengals finally showed up last week, but we like the Cardinals to keep this one close with their balanced offence being able to move the ball on that awful Bengals D. This one stinks of a backdoor cover.

03) DETROIT +2.5 over NY Giants - like we said on Thursday, the Giants are the worst 6-3 team in the league. The experts are pointing to Detroit's lack of a running game as the deciding factor - obviously they forgot what Tony Romo did through the air. Count on Mike Martz to find a way to exploit a suspect Giants secondary.

02) HOUSTON +1.5 over New Orleans - still hating the Saints. Seriously though, it looks like Andre Johnson and Matt Schaub are back for the Texans - unfortunately for New Orleans the same can be said for CB Jason David. Johnson will have a huge day against Jason David - like every other wide out has this year.

01) Chicago +5.5 over SEATTLE - we believe in the Monday night hangover. The Bears should be able to generate enough offence against a so-so Seahawks D - the Seahawks aren't the toughest bunch on offence, so expect them to fold if the Bears get physical.

More football - you guessed it, Euro 2008 Qualifiers go today with Portugal hosting Armenia. Portugal needs a win and a tie in their last two home games (Wednesday against Finland) to guarantee their spot. We expect Ronaldo to be his usual dominant self - so we're looking for Ricardo Quaresma and Hugo Almeida to have big games; it would be nice if Deco finally showed up at some point. We shouldn't have to say it, but - we're looking for Hazel Karma this afternoon (ya, we know Hazel doesn't do "World Football", but there's no harm in asking).

Speaking of Hazel Karma, we can really use it tonight - the Maple Leafs hope to end their three game losing streak when they host the SenaTards. The speculation is that Vesa Toskala will be back between the pipes tonight - unfortunately for Leaf Nation, Bryan McCabe will be playing. We're looking for the recently united line of Sundin-Antropov-Ponikarovsky to have a big game tonight at the ACC. We're pretty sure Hazel will send those good vibes back home to the boys in blue and white.

NY Islanders G Rick DiPietro made 26 saves in a 1-0 win over the Devils - we like anyone who beats the Devils.

Tampa Bay Lightning C Vincent Lecavalier had a goal and two assists in a 5-2 win over Washington. Forget Crosby, Vinny is the best player in the NHL right now.

Dallas Stars LW Jussi Jokinen had FOUR goals, including a hat-trick in the second period, in a 6-1 win over Colorado last night.

We had a tough night last night, going 1-2 and taking a hit $225 hit on the total, which now stands at + $75 for the week; we'll get it back tonight. Tonight's suggestions:

LA Kings over Phoenix - Kings are up and coming, Coyotes aren't there yet and won't be for a while. Lay $100 on the Kings - $180.

NY Rangers over Pittsburgh - the Rangers have things figured out in their own end, the Pens do not. Look for the Rangers to counter attack all night and win. Lay $100 on the Rangers - $105.

Carolina over Florida - the Canes have been screwing us lately...but we're have faith they'll get it done tonight against Florida. Lay $100 on Carolina - $185.

We might post a couple more before the action starts tonight. That's it for this afternoon, thanks for taking the time to check in. Have a great one peeps.

Hazel, we hope things are groovy in your world.

We're Out!

Friday, November 16, 2007

For love or money

What is more important – the undying devotion and love of baseball’s most passionate fan base, Red Sox Nation, or money? That is the million-dollar question being considered by Mike Lowell and his family.

The “Re-sign Lowell” faction of Red Sox Nation has implored Sox management and Mike Lowell to come to terms on a deal that would see him stay in Boston for at least the next three years. Red Sox management has a 3 year/$36M deal on the table for Lowell, should he choose to accept it; depending on who you believe (you know, those guys who start columns out with “A source close to the negotiations/situation”) there may be teams out there who are willing to offer Lowell a 4 year deal worth between $55 and $60M.

The Nation seems to be behind management’s offer of a 3 year deal – in what could be interpreted as something akin to emotional blackmail – the Nation is asking Lowell to take “the hometown discount” in exchange for their undying love and devotion. From our humble perspective, the deal on the table for Lowell is more than fair – as it the deal put on the table for Johnny Damon before he left for New York – but our stance remains the same as it was for Damon; money talks.

Some of the messageboards have fans asking Lowell to consider how much is on the table, and go on to ask “How much more do you really need?”. To a man, woman and child, Red Sox Nation believes that Mike Lowell should leave anywhere between $19 and $24M on the table for the privilege of playing at Fenway Park. For those of you who subscribe to this line of thinking – we would ask you to really consider that same argument if you were in Lowell’s shoes. The response from 95% of you would undoubtedly be “Hell Yes” – but think about it from an athlete’s perspective and not from the perspective of us average everyday Joes. We’re not saying their perspective is right or wrong – we’re just saying “consider it”.

The lifestyle these players are accustomed to is beyond comprehension to the average fan – they like each and every one of us want the best possible life for ourselves, our families and future generations to come; an extra $19-$24M in your last three or four years of work can go a long, long, long way to ensuring your grandkids and their grandkids will be well looked after. Which one of us wouldn’t want that? Managers, agents, mansions, hired help, vacations, private schools, etc…it all adds up.

For those of you who point to fans love and adoration – they’ll get that anywhere they go; just ask Johnny Damon. Red Sox Nation loved him until he left – these guys know the score. Love from a team’s fan base is fleeting at best – a bad year or two and the love and adoration turns to disappointment and boos; money, if well-invested will always be there and grow. We won’t get into the fact that half of these guys complain about how intrusive fans are on their lives – what makes you think they want the love in the first place?

Either way, Mike Lowell wins – he comes out with a great contract, be it in Boston or somewhere else – and he deserves it, he’s had a solid career and came up with a huge year at the most opportune time. Why shouldn’t he cash in on it? Why should he leave that much money on the table to sign with an organization that is making money hand over fist anyways? Red Sox management has done a masterful job of marketing themselves as the little guys – everyone knows that isn’t true; if they really wanted Mike Lowell, they’d sign him.

Whatever Lowell decides to do, he shouldn’t be loved or hated for it – he’s just another man trying to do what is best for him and his family…something we should all understand and respect.

Word is there was a hockey game at the TD Banknorth Garden last night – we’ve blocked it out of our mind.

A great way to start off an abbreviated week – three wins. Tonight’s suggestions:

Tampa Bay over Washington – the Lightning have been lights out at home so best to stick with them; the Caps are off to a slower than expected start. Lay $100 on Tampa.

Carolina over Atlanta – the Canes should roll over the Thrashers tonight at home, they had their bad home game for the month, so expect them to get back on track tonight. Lay $100 on the Canes.

Montreal over Buffalo – we hate back the Habs, but you have to against a Sabres team that lost last night and is still having trouble scoring. Lay $100 on the Habs.

We’ll post the money lines tomorrow when we recap the night that was.

That’s it for today gang – thanks for taking the time to check in. Have a great one peeps.

Hazel, we hope things are groovy in your world.

We’re Out!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Thursday's Rants

Hey Peeps and anyone else checking in. A special “Hey” goes out to Hazel Mae if she is checking in.

We’re back after a few days away, including a great night/day in the great city of Toronto. Trying to recap the weekend/week that was from our particular viewpoint can be best summed up with one of the preferred ways of rolling up the events of a few days into one post – another installment of The Good, The Bad, The Ugly and The Downright Ridiculous.

Boston Red Sox 2B Dustin Pedroia wins American League Rookie of the Year – we’re on a movement to have Portugal in the next World Baseball Championship. Starting lineup includes – Pedroia, Mark Texeira, Jonny Gomes, Shane Costa and Kevin Correia; we’re working on recruits.

Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys continue to roll, beating the counterfeit Giants at the Meadowlands by a 31-20 count; four touchdown passes for Romo, including two to Terrell Owens who was a force on Sunday. The Giants are the worst 6-3 team in the NFL.

It was a quiet few days in terms of “The Good”.

The Maple Leafs drop two games in overtime (one in a shootout) – losing to the Rangers in a shootout was bad, especially after clawing their way back to tie the game at two in the second period; losing to the Habs in overtime on yet ANOTHER brain cramp by Bryan McCabe was awful. We’ve been calling for John Ferguson Jr. to find a way to move this guy – for anything; the time has come. McCabe can’t play in Toronto anymore – his confidence is completely shot and he seems clueless about how bad he really is out there, judging by his post game comments. McCabe’s views that “they played well enough to win” completely misses the point about how his actions were directly responsible for plays that ended the game. McCabe for Jovanovski – MAKE IT HAPPEN JFJ.

To make matters even worse in Toronto – Leafs rookie Jiri Tlusty is in the middle of a controversy after a website posted pictures of the kid “in all his glory” partying with friends of his last year. The media is having a field day with this one – looking to devour the kid for displaying bad judgment. The Leafs are sticking together in this one – trying to shield the kid from the likes of Leafs haters like Damien Cox (inside joke on that one – trust us, its funny) and Steve Simmons who are chalking up the ill-advised actions of an 18 year old to what’s wrong with Hazel’s hometown team.

The New Orleans Saints, have joined the San Diego Chargers on the “Thoughts of Hazel Mae” shit list. The Saints took us out of a pretty decent size suicide/survivor pool with their loss to the Rams on Sunday. For that, we hope they lose each and every game for from here on in. Over the last couple of years, Drew Brees has been talked about like he’s an MVP type player – from our perspective, the only award he is going to get this year is Tilt’s Donkey of the Year. Brees’ numbers were helped when the Rams went into a prevent in the fourth quarter – but the damage was done; two picks, BAD ONES, the main factor in the Saints loss. Thanks for nothing Brees…

Indianapolis Colts QB Peyton Manning throws six picks in a loss to the Chargers – we’ve heard the Manning apologists talk about how the injuries were a big factor in his performance, or lack thereof. We’re having none of it – he’s supposed to be a leader and a field general who makes those around him better. He threw the ball into double and triple coverage on some of those picks – he was awful; admit it and move on.

So the word out of New York is that ARod has talked to the Yankees to convey his interest in coming back to the team. Steinbrenner’s off-spring, Hank, has gone back on his original statements that if Rodriguez opted out of his contract, his days with the Yankees were over. Rodriguez for his part is saying he has a lot of ties in New York and wants to work a deal. Scott Boras is saying that “his client has instructed him to talk to the Yankees”. So much for the $350M man – though $271M is nothing to sneeze. Three despicable characters who deserve each other.

If we were managing the Sox – ARod would get plunked on his first at-bat of the season against Boston, for pulling that crap during the World Series and going back to the Yankees.

On to this week and the only game that matters tonight. The Maple Leafs pay a visit to Boston tonight – while we’d love to see Hazel show up at the game wearing the blue and white, we understand that the likelihood of that happening is zero. Still though, we’re hoping she brings the Leafs some Hazel Karma tonight – they need it. Before all three of you Bruins fans out there email us about how Rask should start tonight for Boston – we’re way ahead of you. Claude Julien is just about at the point where he is going to play hunches and feelings to make it look like he has a plan for the Bruins. If Rask plays tonight – Bruins get shelled…count on it; he isn’t ready for what the Leafs can throw at Boston’s average (at best) defence.

Our last round of picks on Sunday were pretty good – leaving us with another break even week. We are going to start this abbreviated week off right – with three winners.

Ottawa over Buffalo – we hate calling for a Tards win, but the Sabres and their non-existent offence are going to get pounded tonight. Lay $100 on the Tards - $200.

Minnesota over Edmonton – Oilers won in a shootout against Vancouver last night in a game that was described as fast-paced and very physical – the after effects of a game like that will hurt them tonight against the Wild. Lay $100 on Minnesota - $155.

San Jose over Phoenix – the Sharks, like Edmonton, are playing tonight after winning in a shootout last night – doesn’t matter though, they have the Coyotes number. Lay $100 on the Sharks - $135.

That’s it for today gang – thanks for taking the time to check in. Special thanks to Tilt for posting. Have a great on e peeps.

Hazel, we hope things are groovy in your world – enjoy the game tonight if you are going. Go Leafs Go.

We’re Out!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Sunday's Suggestions

Hey Peeps and anyone else checking in. A special "Hey" goes out to Hazel Mae if she is checking in.

Today's NFL Picks - we explained the "whys" yesterday.

1 p.m

Philadelphia +3 over WASHINGTON

Buffalo -2.5 over MIAMI

Cincinnati +3.5 over BALTIMORE

NEW ORLEANS -10.5 over St. Louis

4 p.m.

Dallas -1.5 over NY GIANTS

Chicago -3.5 over Oakland

8 pm

Indianapolis -3.5 over SAN DIEGO

Rough night last night (don't ask) - so this about all we can do today; enjoy your NFL Sunday and good luck if you play'em; we think this week's picks are solid.

Hazel, we hope things are groovy in your world.

We're Out!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Week 10 NFL Picks

Hey Peeps and anyone else checking in. A special "Hey" goes out to Hazel Mae if she is checking in.

Before we get to this week's picks - we have to talk about the Toronto Maple Leafs and their 3-0 win over the Sabres last night in Buffalo. The score was not indicative of the play last night, but turnabout is fair play. The Leafs have dominated the Sabres in their last few trips there - only to see two goal lead go poof.

Last night it was the Sabres that dominated the early part of the game; had it not been for Andrew Raycroft standing on his head in the first, the Leafs would have been blown out. Raycroft's performance was by far his best of the season. The Leafs were also outplayed for most of the second and were lucky to get a goal with less than a minute left in the period by Leaf Nation's favourite whipping boy Bryan McCabe. The goal seemed to give the boys in blue some life as they came out and took it to the Sabres. A goal by Mats Sundin made it 2-0 and pretty much sealed the game. Boyd Devereaux scored the third goal late in the period to put it away.

Some so-called "experts" picked the Sabres to be a force again this year - even without Daniel Briere and Chris Drury - we didn't buy it then and we certainly aren't buying it now. The Sabres may be fast, they may be quick, they may be physical (cough cough - at home - cough cough) but they have no finishers in the offensive zone and they have NO heart...a reflection of their coach.

The Sabres were counting on last year's second and third liners to progress from their breakout seasons last year (Thomas Vanek, Derek Roy, Paul Gaustad) - the only problem is that their success was achieved playing against the third and fourth lines and third defensive pairings; they are finding it pretty tough to go against the opposition's top players. Buffalo will NOT make the playoffs this year, and we couldn't be happier about it.

On to this week's picks. Last week was ugly - serves us right for check the "experts" picks. We are going back to picking the games without looking at others' picks. We expect some dogs to cover and, in more than one case, win the game outright.

16) Indianapolis -3.5 over SAN DIEGO - Manning and the Colts will be looking to make someone pay after dropping one to the Patriots last week. San Diego has gotten themselves back into playoff contention - but they aren't anywhere close to being the team they were last year. The Colts are going to pummel the Chargers on Sunday.

15) Detroit +1.5 over ARIZONA - the Lions are playing as well as they can right now, the offence is making plays and the defence is finally playing good football. The Lions should be able to get some big plays against an Arizona D that is prone to giving up some big plays early and falling behind. Who would have thought the Lions would ever be a 15 point pick.

14) Dallas -1.5 over NY GIANTS - the Giants are counterfeit - those applauding the play of the Giants defence over the last six weeks seem to forget they haven't played anyone with an offence half as good as Dallas'. We'll take Romo/Owens/Barber over Manning/Burress/Jacobs.

13) KANSAS CITY -4.5 over Denver - both teams will likely be missing their most important player on offence; the Chiefs can turn to Priest Holmes to fill in for Larry Johnson - the Broncos might have to turn to Patrick Ramsey...ugh. Denver is downright awful, tough to see them winning at Arrowhead. For those wondering, Hazel rule still in effect - we just think the Chiefs have enough to win.

12) TENNESSEE -4.5 over Jacksonville - the Jags will play with eight in the box and try to put the game in Vince Young's hands; the Titans will do the same thing and force Quinn Gray to make plays. If you had to choose between Young and Gray, who would you choose? We thought so...Titans win.

11) Cincinnati -5.5 over BALTIMORE - the Ravens are brutal; that offence is so bad they'll make the Bengals look like Pro-Bowlers. The Bengals have been a huge disappointment (just ask Tilt) but Carson Palmer will find a way to get enough offence to cover...if not win it outright.

10) Cleveland +8.5 over PITTSBURGH - we still think the Steelers are counterfeit; they're good, but they aren't anywhere near the level of the Patriots or the Colts - they can be had. We like Cleveland's offence to keep this one close...backdoor cover a real possibility in this one.

09) NEW ORLEANS -11.5 over St. Louis - the Saints offence has finally gotten things together, which is not very good news for a Rams defence that has been given up huge plays in the second half. The Rams are getting Jackson back - but it won't be enough. Saints roll in this one

08) Minnesota +6.5 over GREEN BAY - two teams with good defences and one-dimensional offences. The Vikings should be able to control the ball with Adrian Peterson, thus keeping Favre & Co. off the field. Remember, the Pack have been ordinary at home over the last couple of years.

07) Buffalo -3.5 over MIAMI - the Bills recent history in winning games to put them over .500 is ugly, but they won't blow this one against the Dolphins. Buffalo will put the game in Marshawn Lynch's hands and play field position against the anemic Dolphins.

06) Chicago -3.5 over OAKLAND - the Bears are coming off a bye week, so they should be fired up on Sunday. All we know is that the Raiders aren't very good.

05) Philadelphia +2.5 over WASHINGTON - we hate them both, but we can't see an offence lead by Jason Campbell getting it done against a decent Eagles D. McNabb will probably look like a champ on Sunday - ugh.

04) Atlanta +4.5 over CAROLINA - Panthers haven't won at home this year and have issues at QB - Atlanta has enough to cover in this one.

03) San Francisco +9.5 over SEATTLE - the Seahawks offence isn't what it used to be. We think San Fran gets a backdoor cover in this one.

Toronto Maple Leafs G Andrew Raycroft stopped 30 shots in a 3-0 win over the Sabres - Razor was unbelievable last night.

Toronto Maple Leafs C Mats Sundin had a goal and an assist in last night's win - he had a tough night in the face-off circle, but he willed his team to win.

Vancouver Canucks winger Henrik Sedin had both goals in a 2-1 overtime win over Colorado.

We had a tough night last night with most of the favourites winning. The total for the week is - $145.

Carolina over ATLANTA
- the Canes will be facing a Thrashers team that won last night in Florida - they'll be looking to make up for an ugly loss on Thursday against the Lightning. Lay $100 on the Canes - $145.

SAN JOSE over Phoenix - its time for the Coyotes to remember that they are the Coyotes. San Jose gets it done tonight at the shark tank. Lay $100 on the Sharks - $200.

Montreal over OTTAWA - the Tards are due for a bit of a letdown, the Habs will get it done tonight with their power play. Note, it looks like the Tards are going with Ray Emery again tonight. Lay $100 on Montreal +$165.

CALGARY over Edmonton - the Battle of Alberta is always entertaining, but the Oilers go into this one unable to match up with the Flames at every position. Lay $100 on the Flames - $240.

That's it for today gang - thanks for taking the time to check in. Have a great one peeps.

Hazel, we hope things are groovy in your world.

We're Out!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Friday Fox - Bonus

Say what you want about mixed martial arts, but damn when you look as good as Lyra Gracie (yes, from the world famous Gracie clan). A 5 time Brazilian and State Champion in mixed martial arts, I'm sure that she'll give you a damn good workout. For me, I prefer her softer side :-)

Friday Fox - Shae

Shae owns 100 pairs of socks, which, as the picture shows, are all she needs to make a killer outfit. “My feet get cold easily, so I’ll just keep those on and wear nothing else,” she says. “The rest of my body doesn’t seem to mind the cold.”Shae socks it to you in her video.

Counterpart's Counter-Point

Hey Peeps and anyone else checking in. A special “Hey” goes out to Hazel Mae if she is checking in.

As mentioned here before, we usually defer on all things “Boston sports” to Quikdraw – after all, he is in the nerve center, so who are we to question him? However, on the issue of Curt Schilling’s new contract, a few points merit further consideration. The “counterpart” will made in with a counter-point, from a strictly “me, myself and I” point of view.

So it is no secret that Quikdraw isn’t at all down with the contract – not with the base salary or the incentive clauses (don’t get him started talking about “fat porkers”). For the most part, the signing was still a shrewd move on Theo Epstein’s part.

The base salary reflects close to market value on what you would pay for a guy who is way past his prime, but can still give you a dominant start every once in a while and give you somewhere close to a quality start every second or third time out. Schilling’s win-loss record will always be flattering with the offensive support he gets – so $8M for a guy that will wind up winning 10-12 games isn’t bad.

The “weight clause” isn’t as ridiculous as it sounds. When I first commented on it, it was based on a report I saw on a Boston newspaper’s website that said something to the effect that Schilling had to meet a certain weight on all six weigh ins and that the weights he had to reach would decline with each successive weigh in – making it highly unlikely he’d collect the full amount.

Now, given the way things have been going lately, with articles being pulled off websites, perhaps the writer or “his sources” (and I) were mistaken (my bad). However, if Schilling gets down to the weight the Sox want him to get to, doesn’t it stand to reason they think that would make him a better pitcher – and by extension much more effective than he had been at certain points last year? If he loses the weight, feels stronger/healthier, and comes anywhere where he was in 2004, wouldn’t a $10M contact (if he collects the full $2M) be reasonable for a good pitcher? Can you argue with a guy who is considered better than average getting $10M? I mean…we aren’t talking about a Roger Clemens’ contract here.

The weight clause, while on the surface ridiculous, is probably the cornerstone of this contract. Maybe the Sox think that if Schilling commits himself to getting into, and staying in, shape this off season, he can be much more successful – thus making the team better. If losing the weight results in increased strength and stamina – doesn’t it stand to reason it would also be accompanied by better results?

For Schilling to collect the full amount of the contract would mean he would have to have a dominant season – can he? Don’t think so…but IF he did, the Sox would pretty much be a lock for their third World Series in five years.

For those of you out there who love Schilling and wipe a tear from your eye whenever you think of the bloody sock game – this shouldn’t be interpreted as support for Schilling. The way he conducted himself before and after the negotiations is sad – from practically begging for a contract, to employing emotional blackmail, to threatening to leave for any one of up to 10 teams, to acting like he was the architect of this deal and that he did it for the great fans of Red Sox Nation. Don’t buy a word of that garbage.

Schilling (in his mind) took a discount (left money on the table or however else he wants to describe it) for one reason and one reason only – for himself. He’s a blowhard, but he is astute and knows enough about the game to know that he isn’t a shoe-in for the Hall of Fame. He signed with Boston knowing that another World Series and a shot to win a few more post season games will likely get baseball writers to ignore his won-loss record (no way he gets to 300 wins) and vote him into Cooperstown based on winning four World Series and picking up wins in each of those World Series runs. Schilling left money of the table for a chance to win three or four post-season games to make his October record the stuff of legends – that’s it.

So for those of you lauding this guy for loving Boston and wanting to stay in the community – think about it. It has always been all about Curt – so what makes any of you think he would give up $4-6 million bucks to win another championship for you? He gave it up because it wants into Cooperstown and this edition of the Boston Red Sox is the best chance for him to make one last impression on the baseball writers of America.

So, to wrap things up – I’m not in total disagreement with Quikdraw, I’m just looking at things through a different lens. But what do I know? I’m just a Los Angeles Dodgers fan living in Canada who is more concerned with the plight of the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Dallas Cowboys, and the Portuguese National Football team than the Red Sox.

Washington Capitals C Viktor Kozlov had a goal and two assists in a 4-1 win over the SenaTards – that will always get you some love here.

Phoenix Coyotes D Ed Jovanovski had a goal and two assists in a 5-2 win over Dallas – we’re liking Eddie, especially with rumours swirling that he may come to the Maple Leafs for Bryan McCabe.

Dallas Stars C Mike Modano became the highest scoring U.S. born player on Wednesday night when he had two goals against the San Jose Sharks. We’ve said it before – the guy is a class act.

We haven’t kept up this week – but we aren’t really in the hole, so that’s a good thing. Tonight’s suggestions:

Florida over Atlanta – Kovalchuk has been hurting lately and he may not play tonight; gotta like the Panthers. Lay $100 on Florida - $155.

Toronto over Buffalo – the Maple Leafs have outplayed the Sabres on their last three trips to Buffalo – they’ve all been losses, but that changes tonight. Lay $100 on Toronto + $130.

San Jose over Anaheim – the Ducks are having problems at home, San Jose is one of those teams that can really play effective road games. Lay $100 on the Sharks + $115.

That’s it for today gang – thanks for taking the time to check in. Special thanks to Tilt for posting. Have a great one.

Hazel, here’s hoping things are groovy in your world.

I’m Out!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Sox dye has been cast

Hey Peeps and anyone else checking in. A special "Hey" goes out to Hazel Mae if she is checking in.

Ok, before you even think it, the subject line has nothing to do with Curt Schilling's bloody sock - we don't have $1 million bucks to bet on whether or not it was Curt's blood or a foreign substance on the sock.

Curt Schilling announced that he had reached an agreement on a 1 year/$8 million deal that includes a number of incentive clause - from innings pitched to keeping his big mouth shut (by that we mean eating less) over the off-season, to getting a single vote for the Cy Young award. All told Schilling's incentives could reach $5 million; if he were to hit all of them - which is highly unlikely - would mean he would make the $13 million he told Red Sox Management (and the Nation) it would take to sign him to a 1 year extension at the beginning of last season.

Schilling will get part of the $2 million for innings pitched - no way he hits 200 innings to collect the full 2 mil; he'll be a number 4 or five starter, meaning he'll probably get 30 starts. The likelihood of Schilling reversing the decline in his game over the last two years to be a 7 inning/per game pitcher isn't going to happen.

The incentives for his weight are again believed to be so hard to reach that it will be almost impossible for him to collect the full 2 mil.

The $1M for receiving a single Cy Young vote is almost a given - we hate to say it, but there seems to be a growing dislike for the Red Sox, meaning some crusty, bitter old baseball hack will cast a vote for him just to stick it to the Sox.

When it all comes out in the wash - Schilling will probably earn somewhere in the neighbourhood of $10 million; which is about right for a guy of his abilities, at this stage of his career. As much as we can't stand Schilling, the Red Sox have to be applauded for the signing. They took the safe way out - signing an experienced starter who can give them 15 to 20 decent starts and pick up anywhere from 10-12 wins (depending on the support he gets) - and more importantly, gives the team another year to slowly develop future starters like Clay Buchholz and John Lester.

The annoyance that goes along with being a member of "Curt's World" is something the management team has decided they can live with. In weighing the Pros and Cons (that's not a joke about Schilling's weight) it was decided that Schilling could remain with the Sox provided the number was right (again, NOT a weight joke).

We've given Theo Epstein some grief on this page (look up J.D. Drew) but he really deserves a lot of credit for this very shrewd move. This move has a lot to do with maintain clubhouse harmony - if Big Papi can take a "hometown discount", so can everyone else - and even more to do with signing Mike Lowell. By signing Schilling to a contract that he heavily laden with incentives, Epstein is putting down a marker to Red Sox Nation favourite Mike Lowell. The message the Schilling signing sends to Mike Lowell is loud and clear - "you want to stay here, we want you to stay here, but we aren't going to pay an outrageous amount for a career year".

Epstein has surveyed the lay of the land - the Yankees are in flux, the Jays are (and will continue to be) a joke - and decided that it is better to go with established guns that will almost guarantee you the AL East, than to take a chance on a couple of young starters who might not be ready for prime-time and guy like ARod who would have a very tough time co-existing in a clubhouse that has a pit-bull like Jason Varitek, and (in the words of our man Quikdraw) a "media-whore" like Curt Schilling who wants to be front and center.

This is a move that Hockey God, Brian Burke, would be proud of. Sign a guy that you could do without (Schilling) in order to attract/retain a guy that will be an important part of your team (Lowell). Burke did it a couple of years back when he signed Rob Niedermayer to a relatively big deal (leaving some hockey experts scratching their heads) in order to get his brother Scott Niedermayer to take a little less to play there. We're not suggesting that Schilling and Lowell are brothers - but you have to think Lowell would think twice about leaving a team that has all the pieces in place to win again next year for a couple of million somewhere else (remember Johnny Damon?).

Same old story for the Maple Leafs last night - another night of defensive miscues, misreads and misunderstandings, couple with an anemic power play sealed their fate as they dropped another one to the SenaTards. And we skipped this week's Hazies for that?

The silver lining yesterday was that FC Porto got a goal from Lisandro Lopez in the 79th minute to beat Marseille by count of 2-1; of course Ricardo Quaresma was the architect of the goal, hitting in a beautiful cross that Lopez headed home. The win pretty much guarantees that the "Dragoes" will advance to the knockout phase of the competition - FC Porto are the equivalent of the Minnesota Twins in terms of European Football. Unfortunately, things didn't go as well for Benfica as they lost 1-0 to Celtic in Scotland.

We'll defer to Quikdraw for yesterday's three stars - we'll give you 18 of them, as he posted the Gold Glove winners from both leagues.

We should have left well enough alone last Sunday - a tough day meant that the total for the week was - $300 - the total for the year stands at - $700. We are GOING to get well this week - bank (bet) on it. Tonight's suggestions:

Tampa Bay over Florida - the Lightning lost to the Panthers on Monday night, so they'll be looking for revenge tonight; plus, they are pretty tough at home. Lay $100 on the Lightning - $145.

Colorado over Edmonton - the Oilers are a disaster right now and the Avs are flying, after beating up on the Flames on Monday night. This one could get really really ugly if things go according to form. Lay $100 on the Avs - $270.

Anaheim over Phoenix - this particular matchup cost us HUGE last year. Anaheim won't take the Coyotes lightly, having already dropped one to them this year (no we didn't suggest a play on the Ducks in that game). Lay $100 on the Ducks - $220.

That's it for today gang - thanks for taking the time to check in. Have a great one peeps.

Hazel, we hope things are groovy in your world.

We're Out!

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