Friday, May 18, 2012

“He's like John Wayne on the mound. He commands that respect.”

(That quote is from Don Baylor.) 

Kerry Wood. Mark Prior. Dynasty.

And then the Baseball Gods, with an assist from the Lizard Man. And aided by the devilish henchman, Steve Bartman.

Gang, I'm a Cubs fan, and all Cubs fans fell in love with that 03 team. And he was the ass kicking Texan on that club, which made him The Man on the team.

The Man is supposed to be immortal, you know?

I wanna remember the good times.

Kerry Wood once struck out 20 batters in a game.


And here is Kerry Wood cementing himself into Cubs lore.


Damn. I gotta tell you, when that happened, it was over. The Cubs were going to the World Series, baby. The Yankees were old; the Cubs had pitchers who hit home runs. Goats across the world were pissing themselves in fear at the prospects of the grand comeuppance that was about to happen.

Enter Steve Bartman. But as every Cubs fan knows, it was the play immediately after that ripped our hearts out. A routine ground ball is hit to SS. The Cubs have Alex Gonzalez manning the position; Gonzalez had the highest fielding percentage in the MLB of any SS that year. And he drops the ball.

I'm going to cry thinking about it.
...

Here is Kerry Wood's last mound moment. 
...

I've said this many times: There's one other pitcher [besides Kerry] that I recall that on any given day is unhittable—and that was Sandy Koufax. I feel very strongly about that. … Kerry Wood is in that category because of the velocity he throws with. Plus, he has a breaking ball. I know I shouldn't be stacking Kerry Wood up against the great Sandy Koufax, but to me, he is in the Koufax neighborhood.” - Quoteth the Great Ron Santo.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Slovakia?

Slovakia!

Brent Sutter, you know, the guy all who talks politely to media and hence enjoys a reputation falsely inflated like Beyonce's rack, coached an All-Star team to defeat against the vaunted and much feared hockey juggernaut that is the Slovakian national team.

You know, the team featuring Hossa? Marcel Hossa.

Remember when Eric Francis was publicly begging to have Sutter brought back as head coach? Can somebody explain to me what makes Eric Francis a hockey expert of higher quality than, say, the drunk at the bar? Is it his last name? Because I think it is his last name.

Sutter's team took 27 minutes worth of penalties in the third period of a 'playoff' game. But this guy can coach, his allies in the media assure us. The team managed six shots in the first period. But Sutter is a great leader of men, the media says.

What a joke. His team shows up unready to play in a playoff game, registering just six shots in the first period, and then his captain melts down in the third. But Brent Sutter is a good coach.

Whatever.

The silver lining in this is that when you lose as coach as Team Canada, you don't get another kick at the can. And we also don't have to listen to the pom pom waivers defend this guy based on his 'undefeated' record in international play.

I know I am in the minority here, but firing Mike Keenan looks like a huge mistake. I'd bring him back to coach. Bertuzzi isn't on the roster anymore.

But of course I'd try to see if Wickenheiser was available first.
...

UPDATE


Canada losing calls for a sad Merkel.




Furthermore, I think Peter Loubardias Ken King should be fired.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Semin\Cervenka\Radulov


It gets pretty tight. But they could do it.


Did a few things. Semin is slotted in $7 million and Radulov is slotted in at $5 million. The rest of the RFA's are brought back at salaries similar to what they made this year, as none of them really deserve a raise (Backlund at 1.3, Jones at .7, Irving at .6). I also did what every real Flames fan should be demanding, and bought out Matt Stajan.

Now I gotta say, I am not exactly in love with this roster. I would rather Cammo play on the wing where his real plus skill, his shot, would be more of a threat. But besides that one issue, I think the hypothetical forward ranks would be pretty strong. (Assuming, I guess, that the 'top' line would be able to get the puck out of their own zone every once in a while.)

The rest of this hypothetical team has problems. The defence is weak as shit in this configuration, and Kipper would probably have to play 82 games.

Lets start with the goalies first. In short: sucks to be you, Kipper. Actually, in my mind, this area here is one of the ways you can see if the GM of your team is any good or not. A lot of teams seem to be able to get value out of their backups, who they pay less than a million dollars. If your GM isn't able to find value in this range, then you have problems. You either have to overpay for a decent, capable backup (ie: allocate more money to the goalie position) or you lose games. In the Flames case, historically the team has chosen the 'lose games' route.

In the above scenario, Irving is going to be asked to play 20 games. I have no idea if he can do that.

The other issue with this hypothetical team is, of course, the blueline. Because damn, that is one Gwyneth Paltrow (thin ass, get it?) blueline.

I see But7er, Brodie, Smith and Babchuk as bottom pairing defencemen. Giordano runs around a lot, but I will squint, and say him and Bouwmeester are top defencemen. That leaves a gap in the defence of two players. Maybe Brodie and But7er will have big years and continue to develop and improve at the NHL level.

Banking on 'maybe' is a good way to get poor, though.

The other major issue is that with this hypothetical club, there isn't cap room for the team to sign the 13th forward or the 7th defenceman. If the team bought out Babchuk, that would save them 1.67 million dollars. That would create enough room for the team to sign three guys at the NHL minimum contract level. I would try and simply move Babchuk back to Europe to try and not have to pay the buyout, which would give the team more flexibility in the UFA market. But King didn't have the brains to do that with Kotalik, so I won't hold my breath.

So yeah, that is what it is. They could do it if they wanted to, but it would be a tight fit, and the defence, which in my mind is not very good, would stay not very good. The hope would be that the extra firepower up front keeps the puck in the bad guys zone more often than it is in ours.

(Just looking at who is available on the free agent list...I don't know if you could improve the defence enough by going that route. You can improve the offense that way, which is why I 'spent' the money on the forward ranks.)

Now I didn't get into term with the two new additions in Semin and Radulov. I'd go nuts and offer them 5 year pacts. Vodka. It's what's for breakfast.

Furthermore, I think Peter Loubardias Ken King should be fired.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Is This Something?

An article went up on SNET today. Here is the link.

It is about Brent Sutter. But the article is written as a sort of compare and contrast with his time with the Flames. The first line of the thing is: "Brent Sutter has completely moved on."

Hmm. Then, just in case you didn't get it, they hammer smash the reader with this flashing neon sign:
"There's been an undeniable enthusiasm radiating from Canada's coach throughout the IIHF World Hockey Championship -- a job opportunity that came directly on the heels of a mutual decision to part ways with the Calgary Flames last month."
So this article, and the stuff in the article, is going to be about what Sutter finds different about coaching the IIHF team compared to the team he used to coach, the Calgary Flames.

And the quote most people will key on is probably this one:
"With everything that happened there so quickly (it was good) to get away from it and come over and coach a team that's about all the right things. These guys have all jelled together as a team, the leaders are tremendous team guys, it's a talented group, it's a young group with some experience on it that knows how to win."
For fairly obvious reasons. There is a section of the fanbase who thinks the players on this team, and by that I mean Jarome Iginla, do not care about winning, and the lack of 'leadership' is one of the reasons this team loses. Why these people excuse managements inability to build a competitive roster and instead blame the hero of the 2004 Cup run for not scoring 60 goals at the age of 34 is beyond me.

(Sure, I'll be even more blunt, why not. I'm going to bold the important part of the quote I just listed. Before I start, guess how many bolds I will have. Guess where they are going to go. It's easy. Ready?
"With everything that happened there so quickly (it was good) to get away from it and come over and coach a team that's about all the right things. These guys have all jelled together as a team, the leaders are tremendous team guys, it's a talented group, it's a young group with some experience on it that knows how to win."
Did you guess right? Did you have 'It's a talented group with some experience'? If not, you may be Eric Francis.)

For those of us who wonder about the management of this team, and how it is that a team with a future Hall of Fame winger and a Vezina trophy winning goaltender on it has only ever made it out of the first round of the playoffs one time (in the teams current formulation), there is another quote in the article that is a little more...meaty.

Well, it's a quote, and it is some of the author of the article doing some scene setting:
On a number of occasions, he has raved about the experience of working with Hockey Canada's impressive management team, which includes Edmonton Oilers president Kevin Lowe, Toronto Maple Leafs director of hockey operations Dave Nonis and four NHL general managers: Peter Chiarelli (Boston), Steve Yzerman (Tampa), Ken Holland (Detroit) and Doug Armstrong (St. Louis).

"It's been first class all the way," said Sutter. "All of these guys have had success. At some point in time in their career, they've won and they know what it takes. ... There's no insecurity involved -- everything is about trust.

"It's been really good. When you're on good teams and teams that won, those things are huge for you."
This intrigues me. BOMBSHELL ALERT!

First, Kevin Lowe is going to want to have that paragraph frames, because you don't often see his name preceded by the words 'impressive management'. Second, somebody pull Sutter off of the Flames front office. This is what, the second time in as many weeks he has gone and taken a swing at the organization? He's going all Dome Beers with it.

But let's look at that quote: "All of these guys have had success. At some point in time in their career, they've won and they know what it takes. ... There's no insecurity involved -- everything is about trust. It's been really good. When you're on good teams and teams that won, those things are huge for you.". 

I mean, that is big. Hey, who is that guy that keeps pushing the storyline that the Flames have a huge trust deficit within the organization, and that is one of the reasons the club is run so magnificently? Oh right, that would be me. Well, me and Brent Sutter, I guess. But who is counting.

(For the record, to me, the 'There's no insecurity involved' is really, really big. Because we have all heard the rumours of King boasting about how he could be the (titular as opposed to de facto) GM himself, etc. But beyond that, the organization is selling a whole new 'consensus' approach to management. Which I always thought was a little fairy-tale-ish myself, having observed how people operate in offices, especially when prestige and reputation are up for grabs. And the silliness of that notion (or more accurately, the implementation of that notion) seems to be something Brent Sutter, much closer to the situation than I, picked up on too.

Or to put in in another way: After observing Ken King for three years, Kevin Lowe is impressing Brent Sutter.)

Furthermore, I think Peter Loubardias Ken King should be fired.