Random Thoughts from Sweeney’s Corner – Sept 20-something

I want to apologize to my faithful reader(s?) in advance, this may not get out in time for your Saturday morning read.  It may get out early, but my strong procrastination gene will likely not allow that.  It may not get out until Sunday evening…which would be nearly pointless. Well, if there was a point in the first place.

Truth is, this is a form of therapy for me. I find myself missing the days when I could talk sports nearly all day.  Adulthood gets in the way now.  I am no less a sports nut, I just see many of my fellow sports addicts far less often.  So you, readers, are an outlet for me.  I am sure that is why it is so gratifying to get positive feedback, though in reality, I would write it even if nobody read.  Thank you Doug Millar again for infecting me with this bug.

Without too much preamble, let’s jump right into it, there is so much to get to!

NASCAR

Updating my lead from last week, Fastline Motorsports had some celebrating to do, as by starting the race in Kawartha, Cayden Lapcevich secured the Pinty’s series championship, and title of youngest touring series champion in NASCAR history.    And I am sure it was a celebration worthy of the decades of effort in getting there.  It was pretty cool watching this ride from the couch, and often twitter feed, throughout the year.

Cooler still hearing Cayden interviewed on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio today during the “Trading Paint” show.  Hosts Chocolate Myers and Jim Noble showed genuine joy for this great story, and Cayden’s whirlwind media tour.  For those of you who are SiriusXM junkies, it is available ON-Demand if interested.

Switching to the Sprint Cup Series, the Chase has started, and sadly, not without controversy.  I will admit, I do like the Chase, which is NASCAR’s version of a playoff system.  I didn’t like it at first, but will admit NASCAR got this one right.  Goes against the traditions of racing, but certainly creates excitement, and as close as you can come to a “sudden death” scenario in this sport.

The controversy however, comes from another rules change, and it seems NASCAR can’t get out of their own way sometimes.  This time, it is due to the winner, Martin Truex Jr. (and his Canadian Crew Chief Cole Pearn – whoop whoop) failing post race inspection.  I am not sure I can do this one justice, but let me try.  The team (along with the 48 team of Jimmy Johnson) failed post-race technical inspection.  NASCAR has added a Laser Inspection Station to their tech process, which measures the geometry of the rear wheels of the car.  This became necessary as teams were essentially twisting the rear drive wheels of the car to improve handling (there are more technical terms to be used here, but I don’t think it will improve the explanation).  Essentially, the left rear tire was out of alignment  approximately ten-thousandths of an inch, which was likely caused by contact during the race.  Please keep in mind two things:

  • this is a very small deviation.  It requires laser measurement, and would not be measurable by the human eye.
  • The car passed pre-race technical inspection, so the team brought a legal car to the racetrack.

So, many will say “cheating is cheating”, how does he still win.  This is not cheating folks, this is a rules infraction, that will be punished suitably by fines and/ or point penalty, but is NOT deserving of losing the win.  Taking away the win, and potentially eliminating Truex from the chase, would be as draconian as Mr. Goodell’s suspension of Brady for deflategate.

I understand the angst though – how can you cheat and still win.  Best way I can say it is this. In hockey, you can get a high sticking penalty and still win the game.  You take your punishment and move on.  Same as football, it is essentially a holding call. Illegal, but not cause for disqualification.  In my opinion, NASCAR should not be doing these measurements post race, limit these measurements to pre-race tech only.

And this opinion is not based on a certain ruling at a Delaware CASCAR race in May of 1994, for a quarter of a CC in one cylinder, costing a team a race win.  Nope, just reinforces my opinion that there are gross and minor infractions.

World Cup of Hockey

Once again, a lesson has been learned.  Always trust your gut!  And my growing gut was right on this one initially.  Where to start?

The obvious place is the whole Team North America phenomenon.  What a thrill ride this team has taken us on, and sadly a 2-1 record MAY not get them beyond the round robin.  Game 3 against Sweden, won in OT by Nathon MacKinnon, was an instant classic, that would be diminished somehow if it doesn’t get the young guns in.

What is really clear in watching this North American Team is the evolution of the game.  Hockey over the past 5 years has seen a rapid move away from the size and “truculence” game to a speed and skill game.  Don’t misunderstand that point.  Hockey will always be a “grit and desire” game, it takes a certain amount of courage to play this game at high speed, and go to the areas where you know you are going to get hit. This North American squad is exhibit A in the transformation though.  They are not going to run around the ice and try and outhit anyone.  They are going to play a game of “catch me if you can” at speeds that are simply breathtaking. They do however make and take hits to make plays, and that is the true definition of “hockey tough”

Exhibit B of course is the failed “Tortorella Experiment”.  Game 1 of the exhibition appeared to be Team USA’s holy grail.  I came away feeling a mixture of “could this really work” and a “Canada looked a little annoyed that these guys in red, white and blue didn’t get the memo that this was an exhibition”.  The latter became reality two nights later when Canada seemed to say “OK, we will play this game tonight” and was in bold and underline for the real game.

TJ Oshie was quoted as saying (and it is all over Twitter):

If it comes to 100% skill, they win.  100% grit, we win”

That’s the problem with this Team USA team in a nutshell; this game has never been 100% skill or 100% grit, it has always been a healthy mix of both.

Exhibit C of course is the final exam in this text, Team Canada.  This team, even more so than the Sochi Olympic squad, has been clinical in it’s domination.  It was almost humorous watching Team USA try to “out tough” Canada, and watching Crosby, Thornton, Getzlaf and the boys seemingly ignore them like annoying little brothers.  This Team Canada has that look that can play the game any way you want to .  Speed game, down low game, cycle game…no trouble, we’ll just be better at it than you.  Having said that, still a lot of hockey to play, and don’t for a second think that Sweden, Russia or Team North America will give them a much harder test in the semi-finals than the have seen so far.CANADA US.jpg

 

And I was wrong about another thing too…in a rare occurrence, I think Mr. Bettman was right to give us eight highly competitive teams instead of eight national teams.  This has truly been great hockey!

Oh, three more quick random thoughts:

  • How great is that Ron McLean “intro” or whatever you call it, which goes on to tell us to truly understand Canada, you need to sit down in front of a TV on a Saturday night.  So true.  And just reminds us how great it is to have Ron back in the host seat of Hockey Night in Canada.  The hockey world seems back on it’s axis.  Now just keep Glenn Healy out!
  • Love those commercials which paste together a bunch of great hockey goals/ calls together with kids playing street hockey and re-enacting them.  Pretty much describes my childhood!

Somehow I can’t find either video to insert!  @#(*@#*&@*(&(*

  • Phil Kessel – you won Twitter last night. Well played sir!  (And Grapes you are dead wrong on this!)

kessel.png

Of course, several players (I hear you TJ Oshie, you too David “did you play in the tournament” Backes) from Team USA were butthurt by Phil’s tweet.  Boys, let me speak for Phil.  He had no ill-will for any guy wearing that Team USA jeresy.  This was a well crafted shot a the management of Team USA.  And it hit the mark with GM Dean Lombardi, who I quote:

If your talking Justin Abdlekader…Brandon Dubinsky…David Backes, I’ll take those guys any day”

That’s the point Dean.  You brought the wrong team.  You don’t need guys that are “tough to play against” in a best on best tournament, where one game can get you knocked out. You need your best players. You need to score goals!  I don’t think Team USA had a good view of what this tournament was going to be.  They didn’t win the last iteration in 1996 “out hitting and out gritting” anyone.  They had the more skilled team on that occasion.  Maybe this also gives us some insight into the slow decline of the LA Kings?

NFL Week 2

I am going to have to hit my quick thoughts here, no surprise I have went a little long.  Any wanna-be editors looking for some pro-bono work?

Surprise of the Week:

Plenty to choose from here, but I am going to save my second for a rant elsewhere.  Has to the LA Rams once again confounding all logic and beating the Seattle Seahawks. As good a coach as I think Pete Carroll is, and as consistently mediocre as I think Jeff Fisher is, why does this keep happening.  Four of their last five against Seattle for the Rams?  Defies logic.

fisher

Thanks Coach Fisher, I am now out of the “Loser” pool!

Something that Really Bugged Me This Week?

This will not always involve the Chiefs.  Mostly because I dont always get to watch the Chiefs.  I am too responsible (read cheap) to buy Sunday Ticket anymore.

No, my beef this week, sort of a new take on last week, was the Monday Night Football broadcast.  Seems John Gruden is trying to be more profanely profuse in his praise than Chris Collinsworth now.  This weeks target was Carson Wentz.  It seemed like a legend was born in a terrible game that saw the Philadelphia Eagles (fly Eagles fly!!!) dismantle the Chicago Bears.

Don’t get me wrong, Wentz has had an impressive start to his career, and is making Howie Roseman and Coach Doug Pederson look really smart. Not only did they draft this kid (hey Cleveland, want THAT draft pick back!) but they traded their starter, Sam “driving range QB” Bradford to Minnesota.  Bradford of course was Collinsworth’s “Man Crush of the Week” Sunday night, and set a high bar on the “blowing smoke meter”.

But if you tuned in to the fourth quarter of the Monday Night Broadcast, you would think he had 450 yards and 5 touchdowns.  Kid threw for 190 yards and a touchdown, for an 86.6 QB rating.  Took care of the ball.  Won.  But C’mon man…lets see how Dennis Green feels.

 

Something That Made Me Smile

Nothing.  It was an awful football week.  Out of the loser pool.  8 of 16 picks right.  Did get through Survivor week 2.  Lost all 3 of my Fantasy Football leagues.

fantasy.jpg

A few more things I think I think?

  • OK, after the Thursday night victory by New England (another wrong pick), can we just hit pause for a minute. I think the league actually should stop everything, carve a Belichick bust, and put him in the Hall of Fame before another game is played this season.  Also, award him the Coach of the Year trophy right now.  The Patriots are now 3-0 on the season, after dismantling the previously 2-0 Houston Texans.  And he did it with:
    • No Tom Brady, due to the Roger Goodell “prove I am the Man” suspension.
    • With a 3rd String Rookie QB who hurt his thumb at some point in the game.
    • A leaky offensive line
    • A token decoy appearance by Gronkowski.
  • I give him credit, as I usually bash Michael Irvin.  He did a bit in the pregame where he said “if New England wins tonight, I will no longer call the Super Bowl the Lombardi trophy.” and followed up post game with a picture from home that night with his “3 Belichick Trophies!
  • irvin.jpg
  • Thats Twitter Gold right there!
  • I think Cleveland is suffering from the “Curse of Firing Belichick!”  See below for a live look at Browns practice.  Rookie QB, lost their best WR this week in practice. Not good!

browns.jpg

  • Should be a good time for the Adam Gase and the Dolphins to get into the win column.  Spoiler alert – they are my Survivor Pick this week, so you’d be wise to stay away from this game!
  • Can it get any worse for San Diego…now Antonio Gates, the only guy on the offence left who Phil Rivers even knows by name?  Talk about an injury bug!
  • The Anti-Belichick is Rex Ryan.  Just a clown show, he has his bearded lady (brother Rob), the only thing missing from a full on carnival is a Merry-Go-Round and some cotton candy.  No point me going to much deeper on this, except to say “Poor Mr. Pegula.  Please end this insanity.  At least you have the Sabres!  I will leave you with “he’s my guy” Adam Schein, who will give you the full Rex Ryan joke in the link below:

http://www.newyorkupstate.com/buffalo-bills/index.ssf/2016/09/buffalo_bills_rex_ryan_are_a_comedy_show_says_nflcoms_adam_schein.html

Other than that folks, I got to hit send on this thing.  It was opening night Thursday for my hockey season, as the Staggered Edges resumes their spectacular losing ways at the Gateway Center.  Nothing like starting with a 10:30pm game.  This guy is out of shape, and to quote Pierre McGuire, I was “sucking dirty pond water” most of the night.  I will get this posted Friday at some point for your reading pleasure, as I head north for the weekend.

I’ve said it all.  I’ve said too much.  Thanks for reading.

 

 

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Random Thoughts from Sweeney’s Corner – Sept 17th

OK, week 2 of this blog thing.  Lots on the mind, but on a rainy and gloomy day, it is a good time to bang out these thoughts.  Trying to add a couple of “running themes” this week, as I am sure that will aid me in writing this…or at least give me a little structure as a launch point.

Such a crazy time of year, with CFL in the second half of the season, MLB in the stretch run, NFL kicking off, and NASCAR entering playoff season.  In the “real” world we get into the kids school routines (which for us means the craziness of dance and hockey is upon us!) and the days get a little shorter.

If you are anything like me, I hang on to the last breath of summer as long as I can.  I refuse to wear pants outside of work for as long as I can, leave my pool open a little too long (hey, as long as it is in the 70’s, life is good for this polar bear!), and generally squeeze as much golf in the next 6 weeks as I did the months of June thru August.

Have found myself feeling a little nostalgic this weekend.  I think the coming fall always brings that mindset for me.  This summer has seen me make a couple foray’s into my past, as for the first time in several years, I went to the racetrack.  For those that don’t know, stock car racing was the playground of my youth.  Most summer weekends from the time I was 5 or 6 through my mid twenties I was at the track.  And then, as I hit my mid-twenties, I burnt out.  It is funny, because I have watched so many of my friends who were in minor hockey hang up the skates, and I couldn’t understand it.  Hockey has always been a love of mine, and I didn’t play any minor hockey.  I played a ton of ball hockey, but never had the joy of being handed a jersey and socks from “the team”.  Yet so many of my friends who played Rep no longer skated, and here I was playing twice a week.

And then recently it hit me…it was the same burnout that took me out of racing.  Sometimes, when you sacrifice all the other joys of youth in pursuit of something, you reach a point of life where you seek balance.  You try to discover all those other things that you missed.  It is not that you don’t still love your childhood sport. It is not even a sense of regret.  I know for me, I loved every minute I spent at the track.  Then I hit a wall…and little things started to bug me.  I saw “what others were doing” and sort of wished I was doing some of that.

But this year, I found myself being pulled back towards the race track.  I still have plenty of friends in that world, and I found myself interested in the events again.  Two distinct storyline’s had me following along with great interest.

The first has been building for a couple of years, but really “redlined” this year.  My old racing team, Fastline Motorsports, has had a phenomenal year.  The seats have been turned over to Jeff’s two sons, Cayden and Treyten, and the results have been historical, and that is not hyperbole.  Cayden at 16 years old is just waiting for the call of “Drivers, start your engines” to claim the Nascar Pinty’s series title.  This will make him the youngest touring series champion in Nascar history.  That is not “Nascar Canada” history, but Nascar history.  He will break Joey Logano’s record by almost a year.  It is big folks.

cayden

I could write an entire article on this historic run, but I know that this is not my audience.  Few of my friends follow racing. What I will say is this – the narrative will be about the age at which Cayden has accomplished this, beating a roster full of racing lifers to take this crown.  And that is a great story.  Some will cite “overnight success”, and that is where I would disagree.  This story has been decades in the making at Fastline Motorsports, going back to the days when Jimmy and Jeff (Cayden and Treyten’s father)  were 16, and paying their dues racing across the country.  This is the vision of “Papa Joe” finally coming to fruition. It is a story of immense sacrifices of the Lapcevich family, and all the “guys back in the shop” who put in the late nights (and early mornings) to get cars to the racetrack over the years.  Having been part of that, a long time ago, I can tell you that the amount of work that goes into the sport at this level is on par with the life of the hockey parent. Instead of “early mornings in the rink” it is “late nights in the race shop”, but the same dedication and perseverance is present.

And all the while, Cayden’s younger brother Treyten has wrapped up a rookie season at Sunset Speedway that will see him finish third in points, and breaking Cayden’s previous record for youngest winner in the Super Stock division.

treyten.jpg

The picture doesn’t lie folks. Treyten is 12 years old.  He is winning features against adults, in perhaps the most competitive division in the province.  And you will not find a more well-spoken, humble 12-year-old anywhere.

To say it has been an amazing run simply sells it short.  And I will have to sell it short, because I am running out of time.  Let’s just say I am proud to be a “Fastline Alumni”!  I hope that corporate Canada will step up and help these two young men pursue their dreams.

I will also admit, going back to the racetrack a couple of times allowed me some chance to reflect.  It was my Dad that brought me to the racetrack.  So many hours each summer, when I worked with him, were spent talking about racing.  I wish I could have spent some time this summer talking about these runs.  He wanted to go to Sunset this year, I wish we could have done that.  I miss him greatly, and today is his birthday.  I hope he enjoys my ramblings.

OK, I better get back into my lane, which is “stick and ball sports”, before l lose the last of my four readers.

World Cup of Hockey:

Was amazed the other night on my 2 night stay in Detroit to find hockey on TV.  I know, for a Canadian, this is a universal right to see hockey on television every night.  We have talk shows that go year round.  TSN shows repeats of hockey all summer.  Training camp draws TV crews.  In the U.S. however, finding a hockey game on TV is a challenge. I have spent many a night driving around U.S. cities (especially come playoff time) to find a bar with a game on.  Hotel TV – good luck!  It simply doesn’t happen. As much as my good friend Gary Bettman goes on about his great TV deal in the U.S., NBC Sports is NOT a cable network.  It is a specialty channel in the U.S.  So finding the game on a TV is a challenge.

But there is light at the end of the tunnel…maybe, if Bettman doesn’t mess it up.  ESPN has jumped in to cover the World Cup. I am sure they are trying to gauge interest of the american viewer.  I saw both Team Canada and Team U.S.A pre-tournament games on live TV.  They have Chris Chelios and Brett Hull as in studio analysts, which brings some cache and entertainment value.  And the broadcasts have been excellent.  One can only hope that this succeeds, because the game needs a presence on ESPN. Last spring, trying to find highlights or updates on scores even across the ESPN channels was akin to finding a full set of teeth in the Come by Chance.  If you waited around a couple of hours, it might happen. But you were more likely to get a 7 minute segment on Lebron James breakfast than a playoff update.

In terms of the tournament, I am going to have to change-up my predictions on this tourney a little bit, as I was unaware of the pools or the structure.  I couldn’t find a proper image, but here are the groups:

Group “Easy Street”

  • Canada
  • USA
  • Team Europe
  • Czech Republic

Group of Death

  • Finland
  • Sweden
  • Russia
  • North America

So based on these groups, and top 2 teams moving on, I am compelled to go back on both of my previous bold predictions: the USA will not miss the playoff round, and Team North America will.  If you switched their places within the pods, or simply swapped Europe and North America, I would stick to my guns.  The tournament organizers clearly want Canada and the US going deep in this tournament, as that is the best case for ticket sales.  And make no mistake, this tourney is all about:

So, here is the way I now see it.

Group “Easy Street”:

Canada is first, USA is second.  After that, I expect that Team Europe has a little more juice than the Czech’s.  I know it is always dangerous to count out the Czech’s, they have a long history of upsets in these formats.  I just don’t see it here.  I think the only question here is will the US be able to upset Canada in the round robin.  For the answer, I turn to Meghan for the answer:

 

The Group of Death:

I so badly want to be call Team North America here.  I do.  It would be great for hockey.  It would (sadly) justify this farce of a tournament on some level.  I just hate the odds.  It would require this team of limited facial hair to knock of 2 of the Russians, Swede’s and Finn’s.  Mr. Bush, what say you?

Are they going to end one of those countries dreams though?  Yes, yes they are.  I feel it.  They are not going 0-fer here.  Who is it going to be?  That is where I struggle.

OK, are y’all ready for this.  (Yes, that song is playing in my head!)

Russia.  They are going to beat Russia.  I think their defence is better than Russia, and i think they can score with Russia.  However, it wont knock Russia out.  It’s the Finn’s who are going to be the victim, because when Russia loses to McDreamy’s crew, they will then be in a must win versus Finland.  And they will sneak in the back door, as the Russian’s so often do.

I think this group could be very close.  I can see goal differential coming into play here, as I can foresee all of Russia, Sweden and Finland finishing up 2-1.  In fact, there is still a part of me that wants to put North America through.  I just don’t see them sneaking up on these good teams.  So I will go Sweden first, Russia second, both knocking off Finland on goal differential.  North America though will give these teams some scares.  They could just as easily knock off Sweden or Finland, as neither team can dangle with them…but neither team will try!

CFL:

OK, what in the name of Montford is going on with the Ticats.  Labour Day has passed, it is time to get serious about this season.

OK, last video I promise.  I am getting carried away.  But really, last second field goal to beat Montreal.  Me you and 10 friends (CFL, 12 guys on the field dumb dumb!) can beat Montreal.

I think there are a couple of issues.  The secondary is bad.  Has been for a long time.  The bigger issue though, in my opinion, is the offence.  There are too many mouth’s to feed.  On top of that, I think the loss of Coach Condell is proving bigger than anticipated.

I think it is a year of transition, we know Coach Austin is a control freak, and has his finger’s deep in the offence.  I do think he gave Condell a lot more freedom than he has given new Coach Ptaszek, which is difficult.  More than X’s and O’s (I am resisting the urge to add a song here), it is the relationship side that “haunts” Austin.  I think Tommy Condell was a buffer for the players for the very intense Austin.  I think Coach Ptaszek is cut from the same cloth as Austin. They are blunt, and demanding.  The players are not getting any break from these two coaches now.  And it is hurting the performance on the field.

Good news is this is the CFL, and the East division is not deep.  Only the silly boys in lumber jackets stand between our Ticats and a return trip to the Grey Cup.  I will still take my chances with that!  Would love a chance to wipe that smile off of Henry Burris’ face.

NFL:

I’m going to do a bit of a quick fire “Notes and Nuggets” from the NFL each week.  I want to start each week with a couple topics…let me know what you want to see.  Here we go.

Surprise of the week?

For me, the surprise of the week, for the second year in a row, was the San Francisco 49ers white wash of the perennial 7-9 Jeff Fisher.  28-0.  Really, is this the way we are going to welcome the Rams back to LA?  Maybe this is not the surprise of the week though, maybe the news later in the week of an extension for Jeff Fisher for another 3 years was.  Let’s just go ahead and reward mediocrity.

Trend or Aberration?

The Minnesota Vikings won their opener over the Tennessee Titans, on the strength of their defence.  That will be a trend.  Adrian Peterson being held to 31 yards, and an average per carry less than 2?  I hope that is not a trend.  Drama of his parenting skills aside, this is a generational player we are watching here, and I sincerely hope we are not witnessing the end of an era.  We will learn a lot more when Minnesota open their fancy new stadium against the Green Bay Packers.

Something that really bugged me this week?

The first half of the Kansas City Chiefs season.  Yep, awful.

Chris Collinsworth’s ability to make every player in his weekly telecast “the best in the NFL”?  Yep, I otherwise enjoy Chris as a television analyst, but please stop telling me how great (insert otherwise unknown player’s name here) is this week, on every broadcast.

Something that made me smile?

Surviving week 1 in my Survivor Pool, as I more often than not lose week 1.  My old “Stelco” pickem league makes us take 2 games in the first two weeks.  Though there were scares for both Seattle and Houston, I got through.

Scary this week too – I have Panthers and Bronco’s.  Yes, I gag in my mouth saying Bronco’s.

A few things I think I think:

  • I have grudgingly been saying it for a few weeks now, but the Oakland Raiders are on the rise.  They finally have competent management, evidenced by no longer throwing money around like drunken sailors to every free agent, and drafting well.  Khalil Mack is a legitimate difference maker.  Derek Carr and Amari Cooper are going to be making plays for this team for years to come.  A sleeper in the AFC.
  • So when I see the Patriots as 6-point underdogs last week, I thought “when did that happen last?”  Answer apparently is 2009.  Then it went to 9.5 points in Vegas.  So of course the Patriots won.  In Belichick we trust, the rest pay cash.  Of course, the rest of the AFC East lost…so already, one week in, and the AFC East is the Patriots to lose.
  • They did it with Tom Terrific sitting his first of 4 games of his “Deflategate” suspension.  This is an absolute joke, which I will not waste much of your time on.  Everyone knows this is a farce, if you don’t, go back to Mr.Yakimov’s Churchill Grade Nine science class and ask him about the Ideal Gas Law.
  • Speaking of farces, how much longer will Rex Ryan be flapping his gums and masquerading as an NFL Head Coach?  He is a clown show, and brought his brother to the show this year.  Rob Ryan’s last good defence?   2013 New Orleans.  And this has not been a trend, beyond that one season, he has been nothing but mediocre.  So Rex’s solution to an 0-2 start – fire Greg Norman, the Offensive Co-Ordinator.  Yep, it was his fault that Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker shredded your defense.

Game of the Week:

Has to be Pittsburgh and Cincinatti.  This is rivalry at it’s worst, as evidenced by the debacle that was last years playoff game, where the Bengals simply imploded in impressive fashion.  This will be a throwback game, with big hits, and a ton of chirping on both sides.  What will decide it though is which defence can do a better job of limiting the star wide recievers – Antonio Brown and AJ Green.  Let’s just hope we don’t see this again:

AB twerk.gif

I broke my promise, I couldn’t resist adding this.

Once again…I have said it all, I have said too much.

 

 

Random thoughts from Sweeney’s Corner

Going to try something a little different as we head into the fall.  I am an avid sports reader, and my favorite writers, in no particular order, are Peter King, Steve Simmons, and the now retired Jim Hunt.

If you are a NFL football fan, and not reading Peter King’s “Monday Morning Quarterback” column (not to mention all the related content from his website “MMQB”) then you really are missing out.  I would equate it to an East End kid who never had a Glow Sub or Go Go’s pizza.  Sadly only one of those two options can you still correct in your life.

Steve Simmons I know is a very polarizing figure.  I don’t always agree with him, but his Sunday column in the Toronto Sun is another gem, and it is close to the format I want to take here.  Just stream of consciousness thoughts – no deep dive analysis.  I view it more as a conversation starter than a thesis presentation.

Jim Hunt was another Toronto Sun columnist, who wrote a Tuesday column “Things I think I think”.  Again, it was a fun and random ride, and generated conversation well before “social media”.

So, that is the preface.  Open to suggestions here.  I can’t promise this will be a “Saturday am” column, but I expect to get something out there most weekends.  So let’s get to it.

World Cup of Hockey:

wc

It is a strange thing for a “hockey nut” like me, but I have limited excitement for this tournament so far.  I had hoped seeing those Canada jerseys on the ice last night would have stoked the flames…and it moved the needle, but I am not stoked yet.  I know it will be great hockey, and a gift to us all given the early start.  There are a list of “potential culprits” to my “meh” reaction, in no particular order:

  • It is a blatant cash grab by Bettman, and a potential “bait and switch” to the true test of hockey supremacy, the Winter Olympics.  I don’t want this in place of the Olympics Gary.  Not acceptable.

It is a time of year when so many other sports are gobbling up my attention.  The “real” start to the CFL season (Labour Day – more on that later), the NFL kicks off this week (as does slow cooker Sunday!  Can’t wait for the first batch of chili!), and baseball is finally into the meaningful part of the season (I will also have more to say on this!).

The whole “adult portion” of my life is a little crazy, with work and back to school and back to activities for the kids.

The weather is still awesome.  It almost feels worse to be huddling around a TV now, with a precious few weeks of summer left, than playoff hockey in June feels.  Hockey is what gets us through winter, not escorts us in!

Having said all that, I am sure I will get sucked in once the meaningful games start. Canada has a great shot to win once again.  Please Canada, resist the urge to go all “Chicken Little” over the pre-tourney loss to the U.S. last night.  In my mind, the U.S. played that game like a game 7, and for the first 40 minutes, Canada looked at those blue jersey’s like they were the guy backchecking during a shinny game.  It also looked to me that the Canadian “skill game” was just a little off.  Passes just a little behind guys, puck bouncing a little.  To quote Aaron Rodgers “R-E-L-A-X”.

My only game thoughts from last night:

  • Can we dress John Scott tonight?  The U.S. seemed to go out of their way to take every cheap shot and late hit at Canada.  I say lets give John a 16th minute of fame.
  • I didn’t think I would like it, given Brad Marchand is on my “clothesline in an airport” list…but that Crosby -Bergeron- Marchand line looks very effective.
  • Nice to see Carey Price back, looking like Carey Price.  No issues there, nothing to see, move along.
  • Not sure how I feel about these jerseys in general, but I am definitely solidly in the camp of “it’s enough already with the constant jersey changes”!  In all sports.  Yes, I am becoming a grumpy old man, pull your pants up and get off my lawn!
  • I want to go on the record right now.  The North American “Young Guns” will be in the semi-final.  The U.S.A. will not.

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NFL:

It’s here, it’s really here!  NFL kicked off Thursday night with a Super Bowl rematch, and what a game it was.  A few thoughts from the game:

  • I think we may have been a little premature to right off the Broncos based on the Quarterback position.  Trevor Siemian illustrated nicely why Coach Kubiak felt no need to keep the Sanchize on the roster.  I will steel a Bill Parcell’s line, we don’t need to anoint him just yet, but he showed some moxie in tough spot to start your career.  And let us not forget, he is replacing “Cable” Peyton Manning, not “Dish” Peyton Manning.  With that defense, he doesn’t need to be top 10.  Just don’t turn it over.
  • I think I can’t believe the lack of flags on headshots to Cam Newton.  I have no skin in this game, but it seemed to me there were a lot of headshots, and I mean real head contact, not glancing or inadvertent blows, that went without flags.  I am the first one to complain QB’s are overprotected, but given the normal standard that is applied, it was a glaring lack of penalties.  Me thinks several envelopes will be delivered to Denver this week seeking cheques from Broncos defenders.
  • If there is one thing that can derail the seemingly unstoppable NFL train, it is the lack of consistency in officiating.  I will provide the caveat that I think the NFL and NHL are extremely difficult to officiate at the elite level, given the speed of the games and the ambiguity of the rulebooks.  With instant replay, HD, and slow mo, the stripes are always being second guessed.  Having said that, there are plays in every game that just baffle you.  I am so grateful for the Twitter feeds of Mike Pereira (@MikePereira) for football (he does college too!) and Kerry Fraser (@kfraserthecall) for hockey.  Both gentlemen call it as they see it (not blindly side with the game officials like some TV experts…cough cough “Mike Carey” cough cough.  Both guys have really helped me understand some baffling calls, and sometimes just confirm that I am correct and the call is baffling.
  • I am not going to do a deep dive into the weekly picks for the season. There are plenty of vastly more qualified opinions out there.  I will give my picks each week for your personal amusement:
    • Carolina (stupid kickers!)
    • Philly
    • Minnesota
    • Houston
    • NO
    • GBay
    • NYJ
    • kc
    • BAL
    • ATL
    • SEA
    • NYG
    • DET
    • PIT
    • SF
  • Obviously this is a tough opening week.  Tougher is that in my long time “Stelco boys” pickem pool, we are required to submit 2 Survivor picks for the first two weeks. This tends to cull the herd quickly.  I went Houston and Seattle in week 1.  Why am I showing no confidence in my Chefs?  I know they will win, but I have a long developed rule for Survivor picks – avoid road teams, avoid division games.  Divisional opponents tend to be more unpredictable, given the familiarity that comes naturally from playing twice a year.
  • New wrinkle for our pickem pool is a “Loser” pick each week.  Despite wanting to avoid at all costs having the same game in Survivor and Loser, I saw no better alternative to Miami.  Seattle is good, and has a huge home field advantage, being second loudest building in the league.  (Yes, Arrowhead has the record!)

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CFL:

  • I will admit, I don’t truly follow the CFL, I am that guy that just pays attention to the Ticats.  I am a believer that the CFL season doesn’t really start until Labour Day.  And boy did the Ticats ever make a statement (or two) during the Classic.
    • They are more than capable of beating themselves, as was readily apparent in the first half.  It almost had me finding something else to watch in the second half.
    • Zach Collaros is a difference maker at QB…maybe the best QB we have had under center in black and gold since Danny Mac.  And I could make a case that he is better.  However, I think he needs to win a Grey Cup to take than mantle.
    • Is there something in the league rules that requires Ticat DB’s to be incapable of tackling, and play 20 yards off the receivers?
    • Reality is in the Hammer, if the Tabbies win Labour Day, the season was a success.  Nobody blows like the Argooooooooo’s.

Blue Jays:

  • Saving the worst for last, as this team feels like a polar opposite of last year.  They are playing their worst baseball as we enter the stretch.  Where is the energy from last year?  Why is nobody “stirring it up”.
  • I know I am amongst a chorus of detractors, but I think this team needs a true manager, not a sunflower seed spitting soundbite.  “Hit away” is not always the answer.  How many times can you have runners in scoring position with no outs, and not score?  Good teams don’t do that. It costs them against the Royals last year, and is consistently killing them this year.
  • Sign Edwin – please.  I am not ready for the Jays to go back to irrelevance for 20 years.  I am not ready to lose the Edwing.  And I certainly don’t want to see parrots in Fenway!

 

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Thanks to both of you that got to the bottom. I didn’t promise it would be short.  I hope it was mildly amusing.  Be interested to see what you think.  I doubt it will always be this long…some weeks it will be much longer.  Mr. Pyett was right all those years ago at Hillcrest middle school.  I have verbal diarrhea!

I have said it all, I have said too much.