Monday, March 27

Could I get any more nervous?

With only a handful of games left in both the NBA and the NHL, the playoff lineups are starting to solidify. We all know the Flyers have been playing great and slowly creeping up the list of 8 teams that will compete for the Cup from the Eastern Conference. We all know the Sixers are almost completely inept and are struggling to hold onto that 8th seed as they have lost 8 of their last 10 games. Here's where the problems begin.

As it stands now, you can give up on the Sixers. They're best finish might leave them in the 7th slot, but any way you look at it, they're playing a team that should sweep them in the first round. I never had much hope for them, but it seems like Cheeks is just gonna leave them in the same position that the beloved Jim O'Brien did. Awful.

It seems like the prospects for the Flyers are better, and they are, but don't get too confident. As of now, they're slotted to play Tampa Bay in the first round, and if that happens, I most likely will end up puking due to nervousness. They've been a thorn in the Flyers side for the past few seasons, and nothing's changed. But the other possible matchups aren't really any better. Buffalo could easily beat the Flyers, they had immense trouble with Montreal all season, and the Rangers weren't any easier. So I find myself rooting for the Devils. And that makes me throw up a little in my mouth just thinking about it. I've often said that I hate the Devils more than I like anything, in the world. And it's true, my intensely burning hatred for them is almost indescribable. The goalie controversy (as much as Hitchcock denies there is one) is too much for me to handle, and I find myself just hoping that the first round will be over with and we can all move on. I'm so nervous.

Monday, March 13

So I'm starting to get pissed...

It's getting down to the wire.
Less than 20 games left.
A few teams have sewed up a playoff spot.

And the Flyers still can't decide on a goalie. They can't decide how to score on a powerplay (or a 7 minute powerplay). They can't figure out how to keep a lead, or regain one. They can't decide how, in Gauthier's case, to fight after getting punched in the head a few times. Honestly, it doesn't seem like there's much they have figured out lately, and after a few horrible losses, Hitchcock is starting to look less like the genius he is, and more like a donut loving doofus.

If you know hockey, you know this team is good. You know they should be a 3 or 4 seed in this conference. But what I know is that they don't deserve much better than a 5 or 6, and probably not even a 7. I know that I'm getting flashbacks to the 94 Stanley Cup, and Hextall and stinking Garth Snow switching every game. That might be the worst part in terms of history, but in real-time, the lead blowing, bad overtimes, and lack of toughness make me scared for this team.

Now there's still time to pull it together, and that "together" better start getting pulled right now.

Wednesday, March 8

Diamond in the Rough

Somehow, the World Baseball Classic is actually entertaining. I've been strangely compelled to watch a couple games the last two days, and I'm totally floored by the fact that is watchable. This came as a huge surprise on the heels of a well-boring Olympic Hockey run, and could lead to the eventual U.S. domination of Olympic football (as Troy Polamalu and Lofa Tatupu combine for 45 tackles and 6 sacks in a losing effort for team Samoa). By my account, the WBC (don't worry about that other WBC, no one watches boxing more than thrice a year anyway) has at least 10 things going for it.

1. Players can relate to each other and chase after a team goal other than money and babes
Money and babes are prime motivators, but in the rest of the world (and in America during wars that 75% of the population aren't opposed to), nationalism reigns supreme.

2. Pedro Martinez(ankle)
3. Hideki Matsui(porn)
4. Kazuo Matsui(respect for national integrity/game of baseball)
5. Barry(the truth, now in hardcover!)

6. Junk
After watching two days of world baseball I have come to the expert conclusion that four seam fastballs do not exist in the Latin world, which has made them elevate their game to the extent that they only throw ridiculous 92mph three-feet breaking junk. It's fantastic. Just hide your birth certificates and maybe you can get a scout to believe that you'll hold up for another eight years. Oh, you already lost your records, great.

7. The Cuban Defectors
Judging by quotes from team Cuba, they plan on using some version of the buddy system to ensure that everyone makes it back to the island at the conclusion of the classic. Hopefully they brought along their victory cigars.

8. You can take the tiger out of the jungle...
But when you put him back in, he's a tiger all over again. I've always found it terribly sad to watch great players that you know have tons of charisma wallowing on MLB benches because they can't speak english and hate white men. Well, here's your chance to see everyone in their natural environment, speaking their native language (except for Piazza, more on that later), spending time with a bunch of guys they grew up with. Try to imagine for a second how much fun Tejada and Papi are having with Fatdalis Perez right now. See- you can't. It's not comprehensible. It may even be incomprehensible. I'm confused just writing about it.

9. Completely Insane Fans
Living in America through two Presidents who fought over the big piece of chicken in the same house in Texas has washed away any hope of nationalism that my Grandmother had in store for my sister and I when she marched us around with American flags as five year olds, so it always catches me off guard when I see three thousand lunatics waving Panamanian flags and screaming their heads off. More than anything else I'm envious. It would have been nice to see a North Korea team and watch the fans cheering at gunpoint, but you can't have it all, I guess.

10. Mike Piazza
I'd try and make an argument that someone born in America, lived in America all their life, received their paychecks from American companies, and raised their family in America should play for team U.S.A., but in Mike's case, please Italy, he's all yours. I hope no one tries to steal second on ya'll.

For my money, I'm taking the Dominican's all the way, although it would be nice if they could get Pedro out there for three and a third every fifth day. But then he wouldn't be able to help the Mets find a way to blow it in September.

Thursday, March 2

Fat Monday? Ash Thursday?

Square on the heels of what would have been (and still may be) the greatest salary dump in the history of pro sports, the NFL has extended its free agency deadline until Sunday night. This move will allow teams like Washington and Oakland more time to trim the fat, and give cap-rich teams like Minnesota and your 2006 Philadelphia Eagles time to put on their bibs before they sink into the meatiest free agent class in recent memory. Go here for anyone's best guess at the current cap situation. It is equally likely that this was a P.R. move spurred by league officials who thought that "Bloody Thursday" didn't have enough ring to it. Even more likely, owners and players want a little more time so they don't feel responsible for being the downfall of the most popular sport in America. Here's to hoping a bunch of rich guys can sit down this weekend and come to grips with the fact that the salubrity of a professional sports league is more important than buying a third 250 foot yacht.

Comin around the stretch..

The Olympics are over, as you may or may not have noticed.

With everyone in the NHL having played 56-59 games, there are roughly 25 games left in the season. The Flyers are holding onto the 5th spot in the East, and with most of their players coming back from injuries (save Primeau, who I will get to shortly), they hope to move up and clinch a 2 or 3 spot. The trade deadline looms as well, and the Flyers have always been a team who makes adjustments at the deadline. So who we gonna get??

A short list of possibilities includes one Jeremey Roenick (who we basically rented to the Kings for that classic "player to be named later" AKA himself), Keith Tkachuk of the St. Louis Blues, and Olli Jokinen of the Florida Panthers. I think the clear best move is for Jokinen, by far the best of all available players, with the best contractual side effects. The Flyers have always moved to get playoff-experienced veterans before the deadline, and while Jokinen is young for an NHLer, and has virtually no playoff experience, he's by far the best player, with the most up-side. The point is this: the Flyers will definitely make a move.

The question is can they pull it all together in time for the playoffs. Having lost only 2 more games than the no. 1 team, with the deficit coming in overtime losses and shootout losses, you'd hope that much of the gap between them and the first spot can be attributed to the new end of game rules. Rules that will not continue in the playoffs, where it reverts to sudden death, endless overtime. If they are unable to secure a 2 or 3 seed for the playoffs, they will most likely face a team like Buffalo or Tampa Bay. Teams that are entirely beatable, but will take more than 4 games to defeat, and the NHL playoffs are all about sweeps.

So now we start sweating. And hoping for no more injuries. And sweating some more.

On My (chopping) Block

If you're reading this right now, that most likely means you've found your way to, as we are having major publishing problems at (which is why you haven't seen anything new in over a week). Everything is expected to be resolved by the end of the week, until then, please bear with us and let people know where to find the site.

Things are getting completely out of hand in the NFL as I write, and it looks like half the league is about to purge their rosters to get under the $95 million cap ($10-$15 million lower than expected). More than a few huge names are expected to be shown the door as clubs scramble to field squads for '06. Further complicating matters is the looming '07 uncapped year, which has the counterintuitive effect of NOT allowing teams to sign players (especially rookies), because no one has any idea how things will look if and when the cap is restored.

Although this is terrible news for approximately half the league, the Eagles should be able to tread water and pick up a few stragglers here and there. They are reportedly $14 million under the new cap, although no one actually knows what their cap status is because it is impossible to find out. Every now and then it seems like ESPN's John Clayton has an in, but he seems to be only slightly more educated with his guesses. As I recall, the Eagles made a few contract extensions during the year (Westbrook, Akers) which used up most if not all of their available space. This has been their normal course of action and one of the happenings most often misunderstood by fans screaming about our wasted cap dollars.

What is always an important day for big-name players to be released should take on a monumental stature this year with the cap far lower than expected, resulting in talented and maybe even young players up for grabs. Rumor mills, which are about as accurate as a weather forecast, have the Eagles targeting a handful of top-notch o-linemen, including the Jets' Kevin Mawae and New Orleans' LeCharles Bentley.

Get out your umbrellas and ponchos, because the chopping block is out and heads are gonna fly. If you've got one of those Gordon's fisherman costumes put that on too, and don't forget the hat.