Saturday, June 21, 2008

Couple of things

The plane from Lambert-St. Louis International Airport takes off at 5, and I have to be out of here in half an hour, so I'm using my time to make this post.

* Three big league managers were fired this week: Willie Randolph (New York Mets), John McLaren (Seattle Mariners), and most recently, John Gibbons (Toronto Blue Jays). For each of those skippers, er, former skippers, playoff aspirations were within reach. Didn't happen. Each of these were understandable because to put it bluntly they did not do their job.

I do have a problem (as many people do) with the Randolph firing. The way they did it was classless and gutless. I'm sure by now you know what happened and I don't need to reiterate it, but it bugs me how Omar Minaya did it in that fashion. Jerry Manuel is the interim manager. I do not think that the Mets will make the playoffs this season, the Phillies offense will carry them to the division title and the other teams in the National League (Cardinals, Brewers, even the Marlins) will have a better chance to compete for the Wild Card position. Unless Manuel can restore order in that clubhouse, I don't see it happening.

John McLaren's team has been the most disappointing for me (next to the Tigers). As of now they own the worst record in the big leagues (26-47) and had some big expectations at the beginning of the season. I picked them to win the American League West. Now the Erik Bedard trade looks like the Orioles got the better of it and the pitching staff is one of the worst in the league, sporting a 4.65 ERA. Jim Riggleman takes over for the Mariners. Honestly, I have no idea who that is so I know nothing about this replacement. Good luck.

Cito Gaston takes over for the Blue Jays. He led the Blue Jays to two World Series wins back in 1992 and 1993, so this has potential. The Jays are 10 1/2 behind the AL East leading Red Sox. The Tampa Bay Rays are ahead of them. As with the Mets and Mariners, this team had big expectations for this year and so far have failed to live up to them, digging deeper and deeper with every game. The pitching staff is phenomenal, it's the offense that needs work. They are 10th in the AL with a .257 batting average, next to last in home runs, and last in slugging. The only thing I can get of is beg and plead Bud Selig to get them out of the East, but I don't see that happening.

* The NHL Entry Draft was last night in Ottawa, and Tampa Bay bolstered their offense by taking forward Steven Stamkos with the number one overall pick out of Sarnia. Stamkos will play alongside former number one pick Vincent Lecavalier, forming a 1-2 punch that should be deadly for years to come. Here's how the Top 10 rounded out:

1. Tampa Bay -- Steven Stamkos, c, Sarnia (OHL)
2. Los Angeles -- Drew Doughty, d, Guelph (OHL)

3. Atlanta -- Zach Bogosian, d, Peterborough (OHL)
4. St. Louis -- Alex Pietrangelo, d, Niagara (OHL)

5. Toronto (from NY Islanders) -- Luke Schenn, D, Kelowna (WHL)

6. Columbus -- Nikita Filatov, lw, CSKA 2 (Russia)
7. Nashville (from NY Islanders via Toronto) -- Colin Wilson, c, Boston University (Hockey East)

8. Phoenix -- Mikkel Boedker, lw, Kitchener (OHL)

9. NY Islanders (from Nashville via Florida) -- Josh Bailey, c, Windsor (OHL)

10. Vancouver -- Cody Hodgson, c, Brampton (OHL)

Obviously I like the Stamkos pick, but some other picks I liked were Toronto's pick of Luke Schenn and Boedker of Phoenix. My Red Wings took Thomas McCollum, a goalie, with the 30th pick. Looks like our goalie of the future is this guy, or Jimmy Howard.

There were many trades too. Ollie Jokinen went to Phoenix for two defensemen, which further makes me love what Phoenix did yesterday. The Flames made some moves, trading away center Alex Tanguay to the Montreal Canadiens, then basically filled Tanguay's spot by picking up Michael Cammalleri from the Kings in a three-team trade.

* Curt Schilling's career may be over. He announced that he is having season ending surgery that might force him to hang up the cleats. Should have listened to the doc, eh? Anywho, like most people, I will remember the bloody sock and his amazing playoff performances, and I think he deserves a shrine in Cooperstown.

* The EURO 2008 tournament has been a great one. Turkey has had some excellent come from behind victories and will face Germany in the semifinals. The other semifinal match will be determined today, as Holland takes on Russia and Spain will play Italy.

I think Turkey's run ends as Germany will take them down off a Ballack goal (he's been on a tear). The Dutch will defeat Russia today and Italy will take down Spain. That will set up a rematch of the "Group of Death" game and I think the Netherlands momentum will carry them to the title game to play Germany.

I can't pick against the Dutch right now, so I am going to say the Netherlands will win it all after a 3-2 win.

EDIT: As soon as I get home tonight, I learn the Dutch lose. I was wrong. Screw it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great article Nick. I'm really excited about you and Zak getting back to your writing. You both have unique skills.

One thing that really impresses me about this entry is that it was written "on the road." Professional journalists have to do that a lot.

The pass system here is screwed up. So, it's me, Robert a/k/a Cannon Fire even though it says anonymous.

Once when I was delayed in STL and really bored--I tried to hop in Lindberg's plane hanging in the concourse, but was stopped by security. Geez... all I wanted to do was a couple of barrel rolls through the Cattleman's Lounge.