Saturday, October 2, 2010

Taiwan's International Athletes

So after a long hiatus from the world of blogging...... I AM BACK!
Since I've been in Taiwan for the past bit, I will write about the world of sports and culture here.

I think Taiwan is starving for an International superstar for political leverage and something to unite the country. The political issues surrounding Taiwan and China is a long and complex one, but within Taiwan, the country is divided into two pending on which political party you are supporting. Let's face it... Taiwan is not the most well-known country in the world. The best and easy way to get a country's name out there..... is through the means of sports, media, and culture.
Politics aside... lets take a look at Taiwanese athletes representing the country.

Chien Ming Wang
Former starter.. and arguably the ace for the Yankees few years back. Wang posted back to back 19 wins seasons in the tough AL East but failed to perform in the playoffs. He definitely united the people of Taiwan exemplified by the flags seen at Major League stadiums whenever the Yankees visited different cities. Yankee merchandises sold like mad here in Taiwan.... not to mention the fake Yankee knock-offs.

Hong-Chih Kuo
Breakout season for this pitcher playing for the Dodgers. Playing in a major market in LA i would expect the fanfare to be just as crazy as Chien Ming Wang during his hay-day with the Yankees. With a record of 3-2 and a minuscule ERA of 1.22 he is definitely one of the best pitchers in the majors this year. I think another reason why Kuo is garnering less attention than Wang is because 1. Dodgers is no Yankees 2. Starting pitcher > Setup Pitcher 3. Wang was the first real Taiwanese baseball superstar playing in the majors.

Yani Tseng
This is an amazing case... especially political factors surrounding Tseng. Recently she was offered $25million U.S and a private jet from a Chinese company, but she rejected because one of the stipulation was for her to change her citizenship to Chinese instead of Taiwanese. I was shocked when I heard this. Didn't know you can "buy" a person and make this person a citizen of your country. This just proves the political intensity surrounding Taiwan and China. You don't see Kobe Bryant... Tiger Woods... David Beckham having this problem. A superstar is a superstar at his or her sport and it crosses race and Nationality... thats the beauty of sporting competition.

Looking at Tseng Yani's statistics, she has broken many records from being the youngest person to win tournaments to the youngest person to make a certain amount of money. She is only 21 years old and her future is bright. What is even more impressive is her patriotic ways representing Taiwan not selling out for the money. She is the sweetheart of Taiwan.
Tseng Yani Stats:
- 3 majors - McDonalds LPGA Championship, Kraft Nabisco Championship, Ricoh Women's British Open - 10 Professional Wins
- LPGA Rookie of the year 2008

Politics is funny... it just makes things that much more complicated. Sports break down barriers and unites people but politics does get in the way. People can argue and have wars... but everything just stops when theres a sporting competition. Lets face it... I'm not naive... sports sometimes add more fuel to the fire concerning politics but more often than not... it unites people.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Prediction: Sundin to the Canucks

Mats Sundin rumors have been and will be the center of attention in the NHL for the next month, as we are coming closer and closer to the day he signs with a NHL club. I am saying the words now - Mats Sundin will be in the Vancouver Canucks lineup come January 2009. Sundin will be signing with Vancouver sometime in December and suit up near Christmas time.
I previously spoke about Luongo's injury and if it was for an extended period of time - Sundin will be going elsewhere. Now we know it is only a "week to week" injury, so when Loungo is in the lineup, so will Sundin. There are still many teams in contention for the Sundin sweepstakes, but I think Vancouver will come out on top.

Reason to sign:
  • Chance at a cup: I guarantee you Gilles has or will tell Sundin that if he signs with the club, he will make a blockbuster trade at the deadline to stack the team in an attempt to make a run this season and the next. Why have Luongo and Sundin secured in the lineup for the next two years without making a run. The window is starting to close and the chance at the cup is now.
  • Added scoring: Vancouver is currently 8th in NHL teams in scoring just behind the Pittsburgh Penguins. Vancouver coming into the season is once again plagued by the question of where the offence is going to come from. 1/4 through the season, the Canucks are not as offensive challenged as many predicted, but help is definitely needed. Sundin will secure a solid first or second line with the Sedins on the other.
  • Captaincy problem: Whatever team Sundin goes to will have a leadership conflict. A captain throughout his career, Sundin will continue to lead. How this situation is perfect in Vancouver is that Luongo is the captain of the team and Sundin can help with the offensive unit while Luongo still wears the "C". If Naslund was still a Canuck with Sundin coming in, the situation will be a lot more difficult compared to going the unconventional route with Luongo as the captain.
  • Olympics: I personally don't think this is a big deal, but if he joins the Canucks he can represent Sweden in the 2010 Olympics playing in front of his hometown fans. This might not be the ultimate decision maker for Sundin, but it doesn't harm the cause for the Canucks.
  • Money: One simple word - MONEY. Canucks has not taken off the 2 year-10million dollar contract they offered Sundin on July 1st. No other team came close to the offer and money is definitely in anybody's consideration when signing a contract.
  • Salary Cap Room: Canucks still has close to 10 million dollars in contract space and they are the only team in the running that can deliver the contract to Sundin today and have him sign it without altering the team. All the other teams need to free up cap-space and dump salary in order to sign Sundin. Trades are not easy to make in the NHL - Montreal and New York Rangers will basically be throwing away players in order to free up cap-room.
  • Travelling: One of the biggest set-back in Vancouver's attempt to sign Sundin. Western teams are disadvantaged in the scheduling as proximity of cities in the West are farther apart than the East. As Sundin says himself, travelling is no longer an issue with a shorten season for him.

Conspiracy Theory:
- Sundin and Gilles already had a verbal contract worked out in the off-season stating that Sundin will sign with the Canucks in the middle of the season. Why I say this is that how can a first time GM be so patient and leave so much cap-space knowing far too well he needs more scoring. Who knows when Sundin will make up his mind, and by then maybe the Canucks are already so far out of playoff contention they need to blow up the team. Leaving that much cap-room open seems a little skeptical to me. But maybe thats why he is the GM and I am not.

- Sundin signing in the middle of the season also cuts down the labor of travelling out in the West. He doesn't want to go through all the travelling of the season so he waits till middle of the season to sign with the Canucks.

- Naming Luongo as captain eases the awkwardness of bringing in Sundin to a team mid-season. They could have easily named Willie Mitchell as the captain, but when Sundin comes in, the chemistry of the locker-room will be different. But with Luongo, he is the undisputed Captain of the team.

With all these events adding up, it seems like Gilles and Sundin already had everything planned out. I can't think of any other teams or situation that is more perfect for Sundin than than the Canucks. Everything that he would consider, Vancouver comes out on top. Sundin as a Canuck come 2009!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Ottawa Senators on the Decline

How the mighty have fallen - the Ottawa Senators have dropped 3 straight games to the horrible New York Islanders and are just 2 points in front of Dallas, the worst team in the league. The same Ottawa team that set a new NHL record for the best start after the first 16 games last season. Many would argue that the record is unjustified and this is a bump in the road to success. I on the contrary believe the once powerhouse Senators team is on the decline and dropping fast.

Reasons for the Decline:
- Defensive players such as Redden, Meszaros, and Corvo has been replaced by Kuba, Picard, and Smith. Although Kuba is a pleasant surprise, Corvo is having an excellent year in Carolina and Redden/Meszaros are all top-end NHL players in my opinion.

- The Dominik Hasek experiment was to sure up the skeptical goaltending situation Ottawa has been receiving for the past decade. That turned out to be a bust. Fast forwarding to 2008, Ottawa is still having problems in net - and with an unacceptable defensive unit, the Ottawa back-end although stats-wise seems decent, it is definitely not as good as previous years.

- Surprisingly, Ottawa has been struggling to put pucks in the net this season. The power line of Spezza, Heatley, and Alfredsson is contributing, but not tearing up the league like we're accustomed to. Secondary scoring has practically disappeared. Behind Alfredsson, Heatley, and Spezza, the next three scorers are defenders and Jarkko Ruutu.

What to Do:
1. Here is a suggestion. Blow up the team and make a trade with Vancouver. Start rebuilding the team from the back-end by acquiring a defence from Vancouver (Ohlund? Bieksa?) and Cory Schneider for one of the top forwards on the team (Spezza? Heatley?). Vancouver has Luongo and Cory Schneider is a top-end goalie that might very well be expandable for the right price.

2. Time to rebuild the franchise. Alfredsson recently signed a long-term contract to stay with Ottawa for the rest of his career. Restructure the team for couple of years around Alfredsson and either Spezza/Heatley with a solid defensive core and make a run in a few years time.

3. Continue to go in the tank and hope for Tavares or Hedman. Previously i suggested for Vancouver to throw away the season if Luongo was out for an extended period of time in hopes of picking up one of the two prospects. Throwing away a season for a draft pick might not be the best idea, but when the top two picks has the caliber of Tavares or Hedman, finishing last is not a bad idea.

Something needs to be done in Ottawa to turn the franchise around. If they think things will just improve as is, they are in for a big surprise. There are too many flaws in the team to have a legit shot for the playoffs. Scoring was the key to the team for the past few years and do they really think Alex Auld or even Gerber can carry them into the playoffs. Key to the Sens - Make a Trade!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Brian Burke in Toronto

Brian Burke is soon going to confirm what we all have known/speculated over the past year or so - he is ending up with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Brian Burke in Toronto.. hmm... just seems so perfect, but is it really. Let us analyze what the next six years will be like in Toronto under Brian Burke's reign of chaos.

5 Reasons why Burke will succeed in Toronto:

1. He is a loudmouth GM that will do anything to stick up for his players. I'll always remember during the Canucks playoff runs he will step up to the mic after the game and start his rant on the refs making lousy calls and defending the Sedins - "Todd bertuzzi does not play for detroit" -
"Sedin, is not english for punch me or headlock me in a scrum." The thing with Brian Burke is when he is in charge, you know he's in charge of the team. He is one person you know that is not going to take crap from anyone up at MLSE.

2. Ron Wilson. Burke lucked out with the Ron Wilson hiring. He is someone who Brian Burke is comfortable with and many would argue that the Leafs hired Wilson to entice Burke. Imagine if he had a coach he didn't want, let's say, Paul Maurice. He will give Maurice 1-2 years to see how he does, but once the team goes sour, he'll be fired. This leaves Burke and his new coaching staff with only 3-4 years to turn around a dismal team.

3. There is nowhere to go but up for Toronto. Although everyone there thinks he's a saint that will revive the Leafs organization, this just puts the bar a bit higher for him. What constitutes as success? Making the playoffs? Stanley Cup? A competitive, 4th/5th place team? He has plenty of time to try and retry a successful formula in six years. If success means improving on the past couple of years, I think he will have success there.

4. He will definitely bring the centre of attention back to Toronto. The hockey capital of the world if not going to win the Stanley Cup, they will definitely be the loudest franchise in the world. With bold moves and constant media attention, the Leafs will be in media outlets around North America and especially Canada even if we don't like it.

5. Finally, who else would be more perfect or suited for this position - Scotty Bowman? Lou Lamoriello? Although they are valiant candidates, they don't have the charisma and attitude that Burke has. Who knows if on a managing and constructing a team point of view if Burke is more qualified than Bowman or Lamoriello, but for a thick skin and daily encounters with the Toronto media, Burke is the man.

- Keep in mind I didn't put his great GMing skills as one of the reasons for success in Toronto. Mostly his success in Toronto has to do with his personality as I am still a little skeptical on his construction of a team. He did do a great job in Vancouver, but what was left of the team when he left was pretty bad.

Summing it up
Now it is up to Burke and see what he does with this franchise for the next six years. This will make or break his career and legacy in career imo. If the Stanley Cup ultimately lands in Toronto before 2014, Burke will go down in history as the best GM and hockey person in NHL history. On the contrary, if the team is still battling for playoff spots and contemplating rebuilding year after year, Burke might very well be crucified in Toronto. John Ferguson Jr. had his escape route ready with being a first time GM and inexperience playing a part in the failure. Burke will have no such excuses for failure. Starting December 2008, the hockey landscape will change with Burke in Toronto.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Whistler Blackcomb Peak 2 Peak Gondola Opening

For all you jibbers and shredders out there. Whistler Blackcomb is opening their long awaited peak 2 peak gondola this winter.

Peak 2 Peak Explanation
For people who is not familiar with Whistler Blackcomb - Whistler is one mountain and Blackcomb is another mountain. They are next to each other, but the whole area is often just referred to as Whistler in the tourism industry. The gondola in essence connects the two at the peak hence the name peak 2 peak. Before, riders would have to make their way down near the bottom to cross mountains, but now they have virtually created one big mountain with the gondola.

Best Runs on Both Mountains
The Whistler Blackcomb magazine has put together a list of "bests" on both mountains now that the gondola is finished - a list of Best Runs specified by categories. The time to cross from Whistler to Blackcomb (or vice versa) only takes approximately 11 minutes now instead of riders picking only one mountain to spend their day.
Best Powder: - Harmony Bowl, Whistler Mountain
Scariest Line:
- Air Jordan, Whistler Mountain
Best Park:
- Nintendo Highlest level, Blackcomb Mountain
Best Cruising: - 7th Heaven, Blackcomb Mountain
Best Storm Riding: - Christmas Trees, Whistler Mountain

The hype around the mountains and the peak 2 peak gondola is enormous. Events are being set up from auctions to be the first one to ride the gondola to a virtual experience and a Google Earth Flyover of the area.
With the Olympic tickets being sold and the torch relay route planned and scheduled, we are nearing the Olympics where the peak 2 peak gondola will be showcased to the world.
The Peak to Peak Gondola will start operation and take commercial customers on December 12, 2008 - The countdown begins.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

LeBron VI Big Apple foreshadows Lebron as a Knick

LeBron James will be debuting his new shoe - the LeBron VI Big Apple - Nike Zoom Lebron VI tonight at Madison Square Garden. Part of the reason why this is getting so much hype is because, well its LBJ, but also the rumors swirling around him signing with a New York based team in the Nets or Knicks come 2010 when his contract ends with Cleveland.

This special Big Apple version of his shoe is foreshadowing his ultimate demise in Cleveland and a beginning in New York. He has, in my opinion already laid down the foundations to his depature. He was booed after dribbling out the last few seconds of their previous game where by hitting 100 points, everyone would receive a free Chalupa. The game ended with the Cavaliers stuck at 99 points. The heavy criticisms and boos can be and will be used as the "not being appreciated" card when he decides to leave Cleveland.
I do think that the Knicks need a league star like LeBron - I predicted that he will be the MVP this season, and with that on his resume, he will be perfect in white, blue and orange. L.A has Kobe, New York needs Lebron. Now we're just all waiting for 2010 the Summer of LeBron.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Is Junichi Tazawa worth $6 Million

Junichi Tazawa is not yet a household name, but he might soon very well be. Boston Red Sox offered this 22 year old Japanese pitcher a $6 Million contract. No big deal right - Ichiro, Daisuke, Johjima, Matsui all had major contracts with their respective MLB team. Here comes the catch - this player is only 22 years old as he requested not to be drafted by a Japanese team so he can sign with a MLB team immediately. Unlike Ichiro, Matsui and friends, that were proven stars overseas before they were offered a hefty contract by MLB teams. Tazawa is still young and he can very well be the next Matt Garza or the next Érik Bédard (who ultimately was a bust).

Nomo, Daisuke, and all the Japanese pitchers paved the way for this young man to have a chance to sign with a MLB team before showcasing his skills in Japan. So far the Japanese pitchers (and also players) that have made the transition from Japan to North America has been very smooth. These players have taken the league by storm and represented Japan well with their stardom in MLB. The track record they have laid down ultimately paved the way for Tazawa to be considered by teams.
Who knows how this will pan out. Not every Japanese player is the next Daisuke or Okajima - the Red Sox is taking a chance with him, but one thing we do know is that Tazawa will be in good hands learning from Daisuke and Okajima. I think this is the beginning of a trend with touted oversea rookies being scouted by MLB before turning pro in their respective countries.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Roberto Luongo Injured: Future of the Canucks

Seems like we need to wait another day to find out the diagnostic and extent of Luongo's injury.
Now lets look at the consequences if Luongo is done for an extended period of time.

One of, if not the most important player to a team in the league - Luongo the captain, the leader of the Canucks is the key to the successful 13-6-2 record. Without Luongo, the future of the team looks bleak.
- No Playoffs. No Money: Although the Canucks are sitting comfortably in a playoff position right now, we are only 1/4 through the season and a downward fall in the standings can happen with a bad month in the super tight Western Conference. By making the playoffs a team is guaranteed AT LEAST two games at home. With revenue coming in from attendance and television deals, by missing the playoffs, the team is losing out on millions of dollars. No Luongo, no playoffs.

- Say goodbye to Sundin: A Canucks team without Luongo is exactly like the Dallas Cowboys without Tony Romo - the team is not going anywhere. With the Sundin talks heating up, money, success of the team, and chance of winning is the key to Sundin's considerations when choosing a team. Everyone knows the Canucks aren't going anywhere without Luongo so why would Sundin come to a team that has no chance.

- Time to Rebuild? : Looking at the situation in the most pessimistic angle possible, is the Luongo injury going to force the Canucks to rebuild? If the team starts going in the tank and fall far down in the standings, the Canucks might have to be sellers when the trading deadline comes. With upcoming free agents - Sedins and Ohlund, the team might dump these players for some young players or draft picks - the Canucks rebuilding process begins.

I know its not easy to find a silver lining when the franchise player goes down, but lets see if we can find any positives in this situation.

- Cory Schneider: The Canucks have already called up Cory Schneider from the Manitoba Moose to back up Curtis Sanford in case Luongo is unable to play. Schenider the future goalie of the Canucks (or at least a trade bait) can finally have some NHL playing time with Luongo injured. He is posting an impressive 10-1 record and 1.37 GAA in the AHL, and it seems like he is ready for some NHL action. Tony Romo, Tom Brady, and Cam Ward were all beneficiaries of stepping in and showcasing their skills when the no.1 (QB or Goalie) went down or struggled. Maybe this is Cory Schneider's time.

- Tavares or Hedman: Two great picks in the 2009 draft in Tavares and Hedman. If the season really goes sour for the Canucks, maybe there is a chance of picking up Tavares or Hedman in the upcoming entry draft. These two are considered future franchise players and if the Canucks are lucky enough to grab one of the two, losing Luongo this season and finish at the bottom of the league will not hurt as much.

Now we just have to wait and see on Monday what is going to happen with the Canucks future. I have already discussed the Stars troubles losing Morrow, losing Luongo will devastate the Canucks franchise - maybe I'll be wrong with the Canucks continuing to push for a playoff spot - or maybe Luongo is not hurt at all. We Shall See.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Vancouver 2010 Olympics Relay Route

The Vancouver 2010 Olympic Torch Relay Route has been announced and it is taking a 106-day track all around Canada from the Queen Charlottes, the North West Territories, to Cape Spear in St.Johns.

For those who needs a history lesson on the Torch relay - it is a symbol of the Olympic Games to honor Prometheus stealing of Zeus's flame in Greek Mythology. But in contemporary society, the Olympic Torch relay is more of a symbol of human rights, equality, and liberalism now it seems. The Beijing Olympics caused major uproars in many areas the torch travelled through. Many activists tried to distinguish the fire to make a political statement. Majority were upset with the violation of human rights in China, specifically Tibet. Now with the Torch route announced, I wonder if the demonstrations will happen this time around.

Detailed route of the relay:
- Five Days on Vancouver Island
- Flown to Northern Yukon
- Then to the Canadian Forces Base up North (northernmost settlement in the world)
- Travel to Northern Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba
- Newfoundland
- Then make its way back to BC spending 22 days there
- Finally to BC Place for the opening ceremony

Friday, November 21, 2008

Morrow out for Season - Stars are done - Time to Rebuild

Brendan Morrow is sidelined for the season with a torn ACL - what now for the Dallas Stars. As of November 21st, 2008, the Stars are tied for second last in the league with 15 points and now losing their captain for an extended period of time, its time to throw in the towel. Season over for the Stars.

Reason for the downfall
The beginning of the end for Dallas came on July 2nd 2008 when they offered $15.5 million to the one and only, Sean Avery. We all heard the impressive numbers the Rangers racked up in the 07/08 season with Avery in the lineup, and the horrible numbers without him. Dallas took a chance on a player who is often referred to as a cancer in the locker room and signed him to a long-term contract.
Lets take a look whether this deal worked out or not. Dallas is posting one of the worst numbers in their recent history - Turco's number is a ridiculous 3.67GAA and .867sv%. The team won one game in their first eight games and their longtime face of the franchise - Mike Modano spoke out publicly on the antics of Avery and Ott against the Bruins.

"Tonight, it was idiotic and stupid," Stars center Mike Modano said when asked what the team identity was. "It was one of the most embarrassing things I've seen. If that's what we're going for, then they need to find me an office job."

Time for a Change
This star studded lineup is supposed to contend for the Stanley Cup. Having lured Brad Richards from the Lightning last season, everyone thought they were a force to reckon with, but who did they give up to get him, Mike Smith. With the Turco struggles this season and Mike Smith posting up impressive numbers in Tampa, that looks like one bad trade for the Stars. With Morrow done for the season, it is time to blow up this team and start from the bottom up. This team had their chance at a Stanley Cup, but with players aging, goalies playing bad, and Sean Avery on the team, change is needed while the players are still considered a commodity.
I predicted the Stars to miss the playoffs, and now they definitely will. This team is not going up, it is on the decline. Time to blow it up Brett Hull!

Advertising in Sports

Sports advertisements has become more prevelant in the recent years with major corporations buying stakes in sports teams as well as stadiums to have their name associted with the culture of sports. For example Disney owned the Anaheim Mighty Ducks and AOL Time Warner owned Atlanta based sports teams in the Thrashers, Braves, and Hawks.
In Disney's case, they had a whole marketing plan for the Mighty Ducks. They were hoping by releasing the Mighty Ducks Movie, sweaters and tickets of the team would be swiped off the shelves immediately. They were wrong.

Now what is the present and the future state of Advertising in sports

GM place, Philips Arena, Rexall Place, TD Banknorth Garden, Bell Centre - these are just samples of arenas named after major corporations. Looking around major sports teams in North America, probably 90% of the teams play in stadiums named after corporations. In hockey the iconic Maple Leafs Garden and Montreal Forum has been replaced by Bell Centre and Air Canada Centre. At least the new Yankee Stadium is keeping its' name.

Superbowl, the cultural phenomenon in the United States has many entertainment values on several levels. Besides the game itself, the half-time show and Superbowl Ads are always heavily anticipated. Companies are willing to spend $2.6million dollars for a simple 30second spot during the game. These ads are incredibly creative and it begs the question, what is the relation between sports and advertisements when millions of dollars are exchanged for a 30second commercial

Advertisements in baseball
Remember back when Spiderman 2 was about to release and MLB was about to have ads of the movie on the bases. Baseball, the most traditional game in North America was about to take a huge leap to the right wing. The deal eventually fell through in part to the dismay of the traditional fans. For once the little people had a say and stopped the corporations from doing whatever they want. I just think that this event is just foreshadowing the inevitable mass advertisements in baseball.

Just recently, Olaf Kolzig and Mike Smith (goaltenders for the Tampa Bay Lightning) used their masks as billboards for the upcoming movie SAW V. The creativity was beyond my imagination. I thought ads would be on hockey sweaters or even along the ice before the goalie mask. It made perfect sense however. Whats next, goalie pads, blockers, and gloves painted for advertising? Imagine this, Luongo's pads, mask, blocker, and glove is painted in bright red and yellow with the McDonald arch all over it. Well, what do you know, Luongo signed a $50Million contract with McDonalds just to put these ugly yellow arches on his red equipment.

Red Bulls New York. Yes that is an actual soccer team in the MLS named strictly after a corporation. Doesn't seem like such a bad idea. Although it might seem ridiculous, but there are far worst team names out there and this is definitely an easy way to have your company name part of the sports culture. Just look at the Yankees, the team itself and the NY logo is already a brand. The Yankees brand. Don't laugh now, this can happen to your favorite sports team. Boston Celtics to Boston Coca Cola - has a nice ring to it.

I think in the future, we will be basking in stadiums filled with advertisements from jerseys, seats, floor, ice, and whatever you can think of. It will be so part of the norm that no one will have second thoughts about it. Can you imagine an NHL rink without advertisements along the boards now? In a consumerism society we are living in, its a win-win situation for everybody regarding advertisements. The teams are receiving revenue from advertising companies - Us consumers are the pack of sheeps that purchases whatever these social elites are telling us to buy - and these major corporations are making more money from sales of their items to us.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Marion Gaborik on the Move

The question is, Where and what team is Marion Gaborik going to? We are weeks, if not days away from the inevitable trade of Marion Gaborik from the Wild to a team that is risking a lot for an injury prone player who when on top of his game is one of the best in the NHL.
Here are the teams that are rumored in the running as well as my thoughts:

Vancouver Canucks
I know the Canucks would love to grab Gaborik to play alongside his good friend Demitra, but it is highly unlikely for Minnesota to trade their franchise player to a North West Divisional Rival. Demitra/Sundin/Gaborik. WOW! Instant Stanley Cup contending team with that line.

Montreal Canadiens
Montreal has been in all the big talks this season first with Hossa then with Sundin. Gaborik will be joining a heavily stacked Montreal team that is definitely pushing for the Stanley Cup this season.

New York Rangers
I can never rule out the Rangers. They are a star-hungry team that wants to load up on superstars instead of considering about the fit. I have no idea how they are going to make it work with Gaborik, but another superstar that can score will never hurt.
Maybe its a New York thing, with the Yankees doing the exact same thing.

Philadelphia Flyers
A baby Rangers in my opinion with the team always hungry for superstars. Sundin, Forsberg, and now Gaborik. The team was a Stanley Cup contender in many people's mind at the beginning of season, but with the underachievement, changes needs to be made. Although the back end is what I think the team needs, but maybe they will take the route of outscoring the opponents. They took a chance with Forsberg and his injury, we know they will too with Gaborik.

Chicago Blackhawks
I still think Chicago is a year or two away from being a Stanley Cup contender, but they have been in all the major trade talks and signings this season. Rumors about Chicago wanting Nylander just stirs the pot even more. If the trade falls through, I can imagine them dumping Khabibulin or Huet to Minnesota for Gaborik. Sundin, Nylander, and Gaborik - they can only choose one. Who will it be.

Teams trading for Gaborik hoping to sign him instead of a Loan:

Atlanta Thrashers
Although they are rebuilding, I can see Atlanta making a trade for Gaborik to play alongside Kovalchuk. The team will be rebuilding around these two players.

Carolina Hurricane
The team has cap space to deal with. A current strong team that wouldn't mind the offensive help Gaborik will give to Staal.

New York Islanders
Also a rebuilding team that would not mind building around Gaborik. With Charles Wang and Garth Snow in charge, anything crazy can happen on Long Island.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Bears playing Hockey

This is one of the most amazing clips I have ever seen. We've seen monkeys playing sports and elephants playing soccer. Have you ever seen bears playing hockey?
Keep watching until around the 1:54 mark and you'll see the crap the refs have to deal with

Roger Clemens and Mindy Mccready

How fast can Roger Clemen's career and legacy fall into the gutter. The once dominant pitcher who threw 20 strikeouts in one game on two separate occasion has now been labelled as a cheater on and off the field.

On the Field:
Barry Bonds was once the lone sacrificial lamb of the steroids era in baseball but now with allegations from Brian McNamee, a dark cloud overhangs the legitimacy of Clemen's career and legacy.
What will always stick out in my mind is during the subway series between the Yankees and Mets in 2000 - the Clemens and Piazza feud - when Clemens threw the broken bat at Piazza is an exact depiction of a steroid user exemplifying roid rage. At the time we all thought it was intensity and competitiveness ended up being steroids.
If Barry Bonds has an asterisk beside his accomplishments, I think Roger Clemens should too.

Off the Field:
His affair with Mindy Mccready really put a stamp on what kind of person Roger Clemens really is. She was only 15 YEARS OLD! He is 13 years older than she is.
There are also allegations of Clemens involved in three other extra-marital relationships. The real victim is definitely Debbie Clemens who has to live with his roid-rage, extra curricular activities, and personality.

The once legend is just part of the bigger picture of the steroid usage era in Major League Baseball. Records were falling left and right from Barry Bonds home run record to Roger Clemens pitching dominance. Arguably the two best pitcher and hitter in history resided in this time period. Clemens was lucky to have kept away from all the controversies and hate Barry Bonds was receiving until his name was dragged into the dark clouds. It is interesting however that both Clemens and Bonds have off-field issues and are not the most well-liked people in baseball. The longer this drags on, the hate for Roger Clemens increases. I wonder if he will ever make it into the Cooperstown now. Funny how in a few simple years, someone can be at at the pinnacle only to fall off the mountain in an instance.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Eri Yoshida - 16 year old girl Drafted by Pro Baseball League

Eri Yoshida, a 16 year old girl was drafted by Kobe 9 Cruise to play alongside men in a new independent Japanese league. She joins the likes of Danica Patrick, Michelle Wie, and Hayley Wickenheiser to play against the men in their repsective sport.
This is just the beginning for her as she wants to play pro in a higher league and be just as good as Tim Wakefield.

I think this could work. She is a knuckleball pitcher who in no way is trying to overpower the hitters. She might inspire highly skilled girls to pursue a career in baseball now. From what I understand of the mechanics of the knuckleball - you release the ball with hardly any spin on it hence the ball changing direction many times before it hits home plate. It also works in soccer when someone toe-punts the ball without giving it any spin it moves the ball erratically. You could all try this out - as toe-punting a soccer ball is a lot easier than throwing a knuckleball. Nonetheless, if she has a good enough command on the knuckleball, her chance of success is very high.
For all you scientists out there, you could read about the scientific reasoning to a knuckleball. I say Good For Her - and good luck.

Here is a funny spoof of what we might be seeing from Eri Yoshida.

Now here is a real clip of her.