Monday, August 31, 2009


"The 2010 Vancouver Games could be the end of the NHL's brief participation in Olympic hockey. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told Reuters on Tuesday that, following Vancouver, his league may rethink its policy of suspending play in mid-season so players can compete in the Olympics. That means the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, could be the first since the 1994 edition in Lillehammer to not feature hockey's best men's players." (CBC)

The NHL doesn't make any money off the Olympics. In fact, they probably lose a buck or two. And much like when the League decided to sign a TV deal with Versus, instead of ESPN, the NHL sees things only in dollars and cents. They don't see the Olympics as a way to grow the game, particularly in European markets. They don't see that if Team USA were in the Gold medal game, many people in the States would become fans of the game.

The NHL doesn't have much going for it, but it does have two things the other leagues don't. It has players who would all kill to represent their countries, and it has more international appeal than every sport except basketball.

So instead of using these tools to grow the game in burgeoning hockey markets like Germany and Britain, the NHL wants to make sure the Ottawa Senators can play the Atlanta Thrashers without any interruption.

The NHL is dying. As BMack wrote earlier, the players aren't happy with the CBA. Teams like Phoenix are hopelessly bankrupt. Then there's an ever-growing threat in Europe called the KHL: A potential pan-European league that wants to someday contend with the NHL.

Right now, leagues like the KHL are prevented from signing NHL players, but more and more Russians are staying home instead of competing against North American players.

The NHL could grow a pair, let things like the Olympics be played, and work together with the KHL to one day have the first truly global sports league. But instead, they'll sign TV deals with Versus, constrict the salary cap to piss off players (because revenues are down because nobody in Miami cares about hockey), and prevent hockey fans from seeing Finland play Canada, and the US play Russia, and Germany play Belarus, and the Czech Republic play Latvia.

The biggest miracle in hockey history isn't the US Olympic team in 1980, it will be if the NHL is still alive in 2020.


Every team in this conference (except Purdue) can piss up a rope. Legacy conferences like the BigTen and the Pac-10 are the big roadblocks to any sort of playoff system. There are two sick teams in the Big Ten this season (Penn State and Ohio State), then a significant dropoff after that.

Don't forget that Penn State was 11-2 last year. Their first loss came on the road in a windy Iowa City, their second loss was to USC in the Rose Bowl. That's hardly a season to be ashamed of. Their defense is ferocious against the run. Their passing game won't be too sharp, but they can control the clock with the running game. I picked them to win because they play Ohio State in State College.

Key Games:
9/26 vs. #22 Iowa
11/7 vs. #6 Ohio State

11-2, Big Ten Champions, Rose Bowl loser

You know what I'm sick of? The word "the." It was one thing when OSU players referred to their school as THE Ohio State. But now "The" precedes "Ohio State" on bumper stickers everywhere. Fuck "the."

OSU will fall to Penn State because their offense will be one man. Shut down Terrelle Pryor, and you've shut down the Buckeyes. He's a dynamic QB, rushing for 631 yards, and throwing for 1,311. But now he's by himself, and will underperform in big games.

Key Games:
9/12 vs. #4 USC
11/7 @ #9 Penn State
11/14 vs. #22 Iowa

10-3, BCS Bowl berth and an embarrassing loss

The rest of the previews will be alphabetical...

The Illini boast incredible talent in the skill position with guys like QB Juice Williams (3,173 passing yards, 719 rushing yards) and WR Arrelious Benn (1,055 receiving yards), but that's essentially all they have. Their O-Line is full of holes, as is their defense. Their games will be exciting to watch, but Illinois will be raped by quality opponents.

Key Games:
9/5 vs. Missouri
9/26 @ #6 Ohio State
10/3 vs. #9 Penn State
11/27 @ Cincinnati

Indiana sucks. They finally sorted out their QB situation, but any team outside of the WAC that resorts to utilizing the "pistol" offense is both desperate and bad. Their defensive backs will allow lots of Big Ten QBs to pad their stats.

Key Games:
10/3 vs. #6 Ohio State
10/31 @ #22 Iowa
11/14 @ #9 Penn State

Here's a girl dressed in an Indiana Jones costume:

The most forgettable team in college football. The good news for the Hawkeyes is that Iowa City is a tough place for opponents to play. The bad news is that they have to travel to State College, Columbus, and East Lansing. But they wisely threw in cupcakes like Northern Iowa, Arkansas State, Iowa State, and Michigan.

They'll be in and out of the Top 25 all season, feasting on the weaker BigTen programs, and being gobbled up by the giants.

Key Games:
9/26 @ #9 Penn State
11/14 @ #6 Ohio State

The Wolverines might be the 3rd best team in Michigan, behind MSU and CMU. Their QB position continues to have more question marks than a XXXL Riddler costume. They'll once again occupy airtime with pundits asking "Will Michigan return to form?" And for now, the answer is a deafening "FUCK NO!"

Key Games:
9/12 vs. #23 Notre Dame
10/3 @ Michigan State
10/10 @ #22 Iowa
10/24 vs. #9 Penn State
11/21 vs. #6 Ohio State

Setpember 19th. That's when we'll find out if MSU can be a contender. They play #23 Notre Dame in South Bend. A win there, and they might be for real.

And here's another reason why the Big Ten sucks. MSU doesn't play Ohio State. They simply don't play each other. Penn State has to play both MSU and OSU. But Ohio State and Michigan State benefit from softer conference schedules. Just force Notre Dame to join the Big Ten, make 2 divisions, and have a title game.

The Spartans have to sort out their QBs, but they return 8 defensive starters, and have good receivers for whoever winds up throwing the ball. They also get to host Iowa and Penn State.

Key Games:
9/19 @ Notre Dame
10/24 vs. #22 Iowa
11/21 vs. #9 Penn State
Never vs. #6 Ohio State

Too many teams in this conference have two word names. Lame. Minnesota returns 10 offensive starters, but they failed to run the ball consistently in '08, and will continue to do so. Their defense blows. They allowed 142 points in their last 3 games of '08. That's 47.3 per game.

It won't help that they play PSU, OSU, and Iowa on the road.

Key Games:
9/19 vs. California
10/17 @ #9 Penn State
10/24 @ #6 Ohio State
10/31 vs. Michigan State
11/21 @ #22 Iowa

The Wildcats don't have to play Ohio State either. Their defense boasts plenty of playmakers. But their offense will be a major struggle. QB Mike Kafka can run, but his passing has yet to be tested. They lost their top 3 WRs to graduation (Northwestern players actually graduate), and have no definitive ground game. Low scoring and boring games for the Wildcats.

Key Games:
10/17 @ Michigan State
10/31 vs. #9 Penn State
11/7 @ #22 Iowa


Their mascot is a train. How could you not love that?

Purdue finished 9th last year, and things don't look much better. No QB, no receivers, and their running game is completely untested. They don't have to play Penn State, but they have to play Oregon in Eugene, and host Notre Dame.

My God, how many BigTen and Pac-10 cupcakes can Charlie Weiss and Notre Dame devour?

Key Games:
9/12 @ #16 Oregon
9/26 vs. #23 Notre Dame
10/17 vs. #6 Ohio State
11/14 vs. Michigan State

Wisconsin begins their season with home matches against Northern Illinois, Fresno State, and Wofford. That should be against the rules.

The Badgers might surprise some people this year. They have a formidable offensive line, and a burgeoning D-Line. If they catch lightning in their platooning QB and CB situations, they could finish in the top 4 of the conference. Penn State doesn't have to play the Badgers, which might determine who wins the Conference title. Fellow 2nd tier contenders Michigan State and Iowa both have to play in Madison, which is an extremely hostile environment.

Key Games:
9/26 vs. Michigan State
10/10 @ #6 Ohio State
10/17 vs. #22 Iowa


After some dreadful preseason performances, the Patriots waived Kevin O'Connell. He was 12 for 26, with 2 INTs, and an abysmal 25.8 QB rating. Against Washington, he was 3/10 for 18 yards and threw 2 picks.

So it looks like Andrew Walter is the #2, with Brian Hoyer at #3. Although I wouldn't be shocked if the Pats signed a veteran.

USA Today


Every weekday from now until the NFL season kicks-off, Boston Blood Sox will preview one group of Patriot players. Today we start off with the most important position in the game, with the most valuable player in the game.

For the first time in his career, Tom Brady will be making a start after missing games due to injury. He hasn't played a full a game since Super Bowl XLII. So that's February 3, 2008 to September 14, 2007. Nearly a 20 month gap.

It would be crazy to expect Brady to put up the kind of record-breaking numbers he put up in 2007. He will have a similarly stacked receiving corps to throw to, but the offensive line is weaker, and the running game might be better.

In '07, the Pats were accused of running up the score when they'd throw the ball late in games instead of running it. What the morons of the world failed to comprehend was that the Patriots had no dependable run game to get first downs and dependably salt games away. I think the Patriots depth at RB in 2009 will help Tom Brady by giving him more 2nd & 6, 3rd & 2 type downs.

From the preseason games, there's a bit of reluctance on Brady's part to fully step into throws. But that could be rust as much as it could be hesitation. He didn't show much fear during or after some big hits he received in the Bengals game.

I think Brady will throw 30 to 35 TD passes, be around 63% accurate with his passes (that's his career percentage), and keep INTs to a minimum. I don't foresee much difficulty with him barring another injury.

The Patriots don't have the same kind of QB depth as they had last year with Cassel as the back-up. But remember those idiots clamoring for the Pats to keep Cassel just in case Brady's knee wasn't healthy? How would the Pats' salary cap look like if these clowns ran the team?

Andrew Walter has a bit more experience than O'Connell, but a guy who can't cut it in Oakland even as a backup worries the hell out of me.

So basically, if Brady goes down again, it will be a worse feeling than it was last year. O'Connell has shown some sparks, but the Patriots without Brady are like a ship lost in a storm with no compass.



It was a tale of two innings in Manchester, NH. Daisuke Matsuzaka allowed 5 runs off 4 hits and 3 walks for AA Portland yesterday. He bounced 8 sliders in the dirt, and threw 49 pitches. He was only slated to throw 55 pitches, but convinced the Portland coaches to give him an allowance of 10 pitches in the 2nd inning. He threw 9, and retired the side in order.

So is this good news, bad news, or what? Overall, the line score of 2 IP, 5 ER, 4 H, 3 BB looks dreadful. Although the 58 total pitches for 2 innings sounds about right for Daisuke.

After the game, Daisuke stated (via a translator):

"In the first inning, I think I got into the game at about 60-to-70 percent of maximum output for me. That’s how I was approaching it. There were a few things that I wanted to work on, and that’s why I wanted to get into the game gradually. Mind you, I didn’t think I’d get hit up quite that badly, but I think in the second inning I just applied a few of those things I worked on in the first."

If he's telling the truth, then I guess this rehab outing is somewhat positive. Then again, the Sox need him to throw more then 1 good inning a game. Then again, when was the last time Daisuke only needed 9 pitches to get through an inning?

Daisuke makes his next rehab start Thursday for AAA Pawtucket.

Boston Herald

Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Jim Cole


Last night, it was announced that Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi would be retiring. It was a surprise, but not a shock. Bruschi's certainly lost more than a step these past few seasons. And with the Patriots seemingly committed to using more 4-3 defenses this season, it was Bruschi who would be the odd man out.

Bruschi was a member of 5 Patriots teams that made the Super Bowl, and all 3 that won it. He was part of the Homeland Defense that controlled the NFL in 2003 and 2004. He was a true playmaker.

In 189 regular season games for the Pats, Bruschi compiled 1,065 tackles, 668 total tackles, 30.5 sacks, forced 18 fumbles, intercepted 12 passes, and returned 4 of those for touchdowns.

He was never a big numbers type of player, but he came up with big plays at big times. He set an NFL record by returning 4 straight interceptions for TDs. He forced big fumbles, made big tackles, and changed games with just one big play.

The last few seasons, he's been a ghost on the field. Not only was he not making big plays, he was struggling with regular ones. He was a starter almost by default. To his credit, he never let up. If it was possible to try harder than he did when he first came into the League, he was doing so these last few years.

He's not going to the Football Hall of Fame. But you can bet the farm that he'll be inducted into The Hall at Patriot Place as soon as possible.