Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Champs & Chumps

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

Another installment of the Champs & Chumps – a look back at the last seven days or so and highlight the notable newsmakers from the world of sports. Some have distinguished themselves with stellar performances, while others have managed to fall a little short in their pursuit of athletic excellence. We honour the Champs with a “Hazie” award and bestow the title of “Hazel’s Hero” for the week; those falling in the category of less than stellar get no award, but do have the title of “Hazel’s Zero” tagged on them. This usual disclaimer is that Hazel hasn’t approved this week’s choices, but we’d like to think she’d smile and give a “thumbs up” if she was checking in today.


Spain’s Iker Casillas turned in an unbelievable performance in a shootout win over Italy on Sunday – preserving the hope that perhaps the most prized trophy in the beautiful game will be won by a team that plays the game the right way. Casillas made two unbelievable saves in regulation time and saved two penalties to lead the Iberians to a 1-0 win over always boring to watch Azzurri.

Russia’s Andrei Arshavin has embraced the spotlight and emerged as one of the most exciting players in the tournament. Arshavin shredded the Dutch defence and was a threat all afternoon as he led his team to a 3-1 win in extra time. He came into the tournament relatively unknown – that all changed on Saturday.

Honourable mention goes to Portugal striker Nuno Gomes – his goal in a 3-2 to Germany made it three successive European Championships in which he managed to score, the first ever Portuguese player to do so. He is by no means a world-class striker, but he finds a way to score.

Often the butt of jokes around the NHL – the Toronto Maple Leafs scouting staff looks like they hit the jackpot at the NHL’s 2008 Entry Draft. The Leafs traded up to get a future shut-down defenceman in Luke Schenn and followed it up with what more than one scouting service have called “steals”. The Leafs used the 60th overall pick to select New Englander Jimmy Hayes, a kid who would have been a top 10 selection last year had he been eligible; and then followed up by using the 98th pick to select Mikhail Stevanovich, a kid scouts say has “top 10” potential if he somehow manages to combine his natural ability with intensity and consistency. Let the rebuild commence.

Atlanta Braves 1b Mark Texeira hit three home runs on Sunday to lead the Braves to a win over the Mariners – for good measure, he homered from both sides of the plate. Not bad for a Portuguese kid huh?

Maeple Leafs OF Jermaine Dye was named the American League Player of the Week after posting a batting avg of .417 with 5 HR and 13 RBI – it wasn’t enough to win the week for the Leafs in the Yahoo league though.


This one is a little late, and will likely anger my man Johnny P, but the Greek National team’s appearance at Euro 2008 was not only a disaster, but also a complete and utter embarrassment. When they danced in the streets of Lisbon four years ago, they claimed a new era in Greek football was about to begin. Did it ever – the missed the 2006 World Cup, and followed it up by becoming the first defending champions to not advance past the group stage – they managed one goal in three games. They proudly stated that no one could take the championship win away from them…true; but, from now on, when referencing their win at the 2004 Championships, it will be followed up by the embarrassment of such a pathetic defence of their title.

Germany Midfielder Michael Ballack’s theatrics last Thursday were an embarrassment, to both him and his country. The Germans have long been regarded as tough, honest, physical players – but watching Ballack writhe around on the pitch, clutching his shoulder like it had been separated, was absolutely pathetic. Replays showed a Portuguese defender won the ball from Ballack and touched his shoulder (actually grazed it) before starting a rush up field – Ballack lay their clutching his shoulder like he had been shot. His recovery was miraculous – it felt so much better in the second half that he had enough strength to push a Portuguese defender in the box to get a head on the ball for a goal. Remember this Michael – your smile is going to disappear pretty fast when you get to London and Scolari is your coach…if you are anywhere near as ineffective as you were last year…expect to have plenty of time to nurse your shoulder in one of those big comfy sideline chair you piece of crap.

Italy gets a team award for making the beautiful game an ugly, boring event to watch. The Italians came into the tournament like they always do – playing a “tactical” game and seizing opportunities to score. In other words, we don’t have enough creativity to play with the talented teams – so we’ll grind the game to a halt and take our chances in penalties…the Italian Job. It was one sweet consolation to see you lose to Spain.

Toronto Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi was the big newsmaker in the world of baseball last week. Ricciardi fired long time friend John Gibbons and “announced” that former Jays GM Cito Gaston was coming back to replace Gibbons (better known here as Boomhauer). You would think that Ricciardi, feeling extremely fortunate to have kept his job, would try to keep a low profile. But the Chickenhawk can’t help himself from making matters worse – out of nowhere, Ricciardi craps all over Adam Dunn of the Reds when asked if Dunn would be a good fit with the Jays. From the man that signed the likes of AJ Burnett, Frank Thomas, David Eckstein and many more – just what makes this guy think he is an evaluator of talent? This guy has got to go – he makes John Ferguson Jr. look like the second worst sports executive in Toronto.

The SenaTards – just for being the Tards.

Lines to be updated later.

San Diego over Minnesota – Jake Peavy goes for the Padres tonight, and he is pretty much money at home. Lay $100 on the Padres.

New York over Seattle – the M’s won’t have Felix Hernandez hitting tonight – while Oliver Perez doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence, he inspired more that R.A. Dickey. Lay $100 on the Mets and pray.

Kansas City over Coloardo – Go with Greinke tonight, whatever the line. Lay $100 on the Royals.

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

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

I’m Out!


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