Sunday, October 31, 2010

For $150K, you too can buy Maple Leafs season tickets

To be fair, they are pretty good seats. If there was any wonder why Maple Leaf Sport and Entertainment doesn't really care all that much about improving the fortunes of the Leafs, Raptors or Toronto FC, it may be because there are people out there who think that selling the right to buy season tickets (for life!) is a possibility. On Kijiji, of course, for $150K.

Unfortunately, they're at the end where the Leafs shoot twice, meaning you'll only have the play in front of you one third of the time.

Friday, October 29, 2010

A (very) brief look at this week's CFL games

Last week the Lions managed to somehow a) hold onto a lead and b) win at McMahon for the second consecutive time. That gave the Lions just as many wins at McMahon Stadium this year as they have all year at Empire Field.

Point being, it looked like the Leos playoff fortunes will secure until Jared Zabransky went all not-Ricky Ray over the Roughriders. He didn't put up astonishing numbers, even for a rookie, but he held onto the ball and let the Esks running game control the flow.

By the way, last week was the first game in which Zabransky played start to finish since the 2007 Fiesta Bowl against Oklahoma as a member of Boise State, in what remains the most entertaining football game ever played.

Oddly enough, the most important game this week is Edmonton/Winnipeg, in which Paul LaPolice is starting fourth-string quarterback Joey Elliot. It is officially October.

In the Eastern playoff race, Toronto need a miracle to get another home game. They need to win both games, backs-to-back against Montreal, and for Hamilton to lose both of theirs. The Als have locked up first place in the East, but they've never been a team historically to slow down once clinching. Maybe this changes with Anthony Calvillo having been injured earlier this year.

We don't have a cold weather game alert this week, but we do have rain in forecast in Vancouver for Sunday, in what will surely quell Lions fans love of Empire Stadium and make them pine for that $545 million roof.

Montreal @ TORONTO (+4)
Hamilton @ CALGARY (-4)
Winnipeg @ EDMONTON (-7)
Saskatchewan (+3.5) @ BC

Signoff... not an optimist right now.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Leafs strategy: Send Orr after goalie

Canucks cash in on ridiculous 40th anniversary festivities

Ever wonder why nobody has written a book called 'The Senators before Daniel Alfredsson: A Retrospective' or commissioned a painting entitled 'Accomplishments of the post-expansion era Leafs' is because those are fucking stupid ideas that swell those teams' fanbases with disgust, scorn and regret.

So what's different between that and this drawn out 40th Anniversary celebration the Vancouver Canucks have pulled out this year?

Side note: Canucks ownership, to their credit, have milked the 'vintage' program that the National Hockey League rolled out a few years ago. The Canucks were able to sell a buttload of blue and green merchandise before emblazoning a differet logo on it a few years down the road and selling a buttload more.

Now, this 40th Anniversary Celebration has everything. A book commissioned by the Canucks celebrating their history. Jerseys without nameplates. Honouring former pluggers who scored 62 goals with the team and never having played a playoff game with them.

Sure, it may be fun to look at the past, but when three quarters of your all-time team are in the starting lineup in late October, you should probably lay off on the pomp and ceremony until you win something.

As a Canucks fan can best tell you, here is a brief history of the Vancouver Canucks, sans colourful pictures or waxing poetic about Jack McIlhargey:

1970: The Canucks enter the NHL as part of the Eastern Division and fail to take advantage of any 'Eastern Bias' and go 24-46-8.

1982: Roger Neilsen surrenders in a playoff game against Chicago. This somehow starts the third most popular playoff tradition in Vancouver: Waving white towels at home games. The other most popular playoff traditions are bitching about how we started the towel thing, and bitching about Roberto Luongo on sportstalk radio.

1985: The Canucks allow 401 goals, a league high.

1988: Trevor Linden.

1993: Pavel Bure.

1994: Kirk McLean.

1999: Brian Burke wheels and deals to land two high draft picks, giving the Canucks the Sedin twins, who will eventually become the best players in franchise history and the most reviled by fans.

2004: Hockey punch player.

2010: After years of suffering, a Canuck finally wins the Hart Trophy as the player who has been judged most valuable to his team. Tangible value in the playoffs: absolutely none.

Other sports books that have been commissioned by Canucks Sports & Entertainment include 'Counting to 13' by Jason Armstead and 'How to make friends and influence people' by Hedo Turkgolu.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Monday morning statgeek: Player volatility Vol. II

The term 'player volatility' is the number of goals scored on both nets while the player is on the ice per 60 minutes of play. A player with a high volatility means that they're at a risk to score and be scored on when they step out on the ice.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Dear me, Americans don't like hockey

Wally's Lament, and other CFL Week 17 storylines

I am very proud of the Globe and Mail's Matthew Sekeres:
If his name weren’t Wally Buono, there would be grounds to fire the man in charge of the B.C. Lions.
The rest of Sekeres' story 'Buono's catchet begins to fade', is required reading.

Wally started the season by not having enough non-imported starters and ended last week by fluking out an overtime game with a 48-yard field goal from a kicker he didn't even know he had dressed.

You can forgive the occasional coaching mistake during the course of the game because things are happening so fast on the sideline and you need to get the right personnel on the field. Hours before gametime, not so much. Buono put backup kicker Sean Whyte on the 42-man roster and accidentally left actual kicker Paul McCallum off of it.

Wally was always a fan of cutting players before they hit their career decline (except for any player who was important during the 2004 season) but David Braley's failure to let Buono go before he went batshit senile turned out to be the difference between landing Eric Tillman as your new GM and anybody not named Eric Tillman.

With the playoff races decided for the most part, the story shifts to concussions. Andrew Bucholtz, as always, was on top of this one in the CFL Internet world.

Three NFL players were fined for helmet-to-helmet hits last week, and that's a step in the right direction. James Harrison of the Steelers, recipient of one of the fines, said that he's contemplating retirement because he feels the ability to go out onto the field and acting like a brutish, braindead asshole are compromised. If Harrison retired, there would be another step in the right direction.

Football is a physical game, but the more concussions are in the game, the more likely we won't have any football to watch because some sappy political organization, likely NDP contributors, named Mothers Against Violence in Football (or, as Jon Stewart would say: NAMBLA) will try to stop everybody's kids from looking like roid-induced maniacs at the linebacker position.

I equate the concussion problem in football to the clutching-and-grabbing problem that was apparent in hockey before the lockout. The NHL came out in their post-lockout season with a slew of new rules that made it impossible to watch a penalty-free game. Watch a game now compared to one from ten years ago, and you notice a lot less stickwork and players have more room to move. As a result, youth coaches and players are learning to avoid stick infractions and the like, and in fifteen years, as a result of this, the game will be better still because players won't know to use their sticks or hold when somebody blows by them--they'll turn around and skate to catch up to them.

In football, we'll see a similar thing: youth defensive players will learn to stop leading with the helmet, reducing the liklihood that a strong safety will be able to press a running back's brain against a newspaper and create a print impression.


Montreal (-1) @ Hamilton
BC @ Calgary (-9.5)
Toronto @ Winnipeg (-3.5)
Saskatchewan (-2.5) @ Edmonton

Early notice: there is a chance of precipitation in Edmonton on Sunday, and the early forecast calls for a low of -1. A snow game? Pretty please?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Rick Rypien has at least one Toronto Star writer on his side

In the defense of John Shorthouse and John Garrett, Canucks play-by-play guys, anybody who didn't have an eagle eye on Rick Rypien and the Wild fans in Section 116 at the XCel Energy Centre last night could have reasonably thought that the fan started something with Rick Rypien.

After it became apparent he wasn't, many intelligent, reasonable people, including (but not limited to) Barry Patchesky of Deadspin, Yankee Canuck of Nucks Misconduct, Nick Costonika of Yahoo! Sports, Greg Wyshynski of Puck Daddy, Jim Neveau of The Hockey Writers, and Jason Brough of the Kurtenblog pretty much said that Rypien was in the wrong.

Rick Rypien straight up assaulted a fan for heckling and mock-clapping and has since been suspended indefinitely, awaiting NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell to administer his customary random punishment.

But one Toronto scribe, fresh off his public indictment of James Wisniewski, one who hates sports and entertainment so much that it's a wonder why he became a sportswriter, has jumped to the defense of Rick Rypien.

Preach, Damien:
"I find it fascinating that many who were willing to exonerate the Wiz feel Rypien should get hammered. Interesting standards."

"But if u let a guy off so easily for what Wiz did, how is grabbing a guy's shirt so bad, exactly?"

"All these tough guys who demand fighting in the game now suggest shirt-grabbing is assault."

"A minority of fans are jerks and pretend tough guys who love to abuse players from a distance. I don't feel any need to protect them."

"It's just this perception that all fans are innocents and deserve protection doesn't quite square with reality."

"It's kind of like Twitter. really. People can be so brave, so tough, so threatening from a distance under the veil of anonymity." [ed. note: I think he's referring to the fan being anonymous in this instance]

"So the Philly dude who fell into the box with Domi, he deserved to be protected? Domi shouldn't have touched him?"

"Fan safety? Really? You honestly believe that fan was in danger of anything?"

"All these folks so irate about Rypien must still be upset about Sundin getting only 1 game in '04 for throwing stick into stands."

I guess this means that if you go up to Damien Cox in public and grab his shirt and shake him viciously, he won't mind.

Although the one fan, who escaped unscatched, isn't making it any easier to like him as he is apparently ready to press charges the bottom line is that athletes shouldn't do that, in any sport. An arena shouldn't have to put guardrails everywhere players are within striking distance. Every now and then you get some douchebags like the fan in Detroit who ran onto the court to punch Ron Artest, but this instance wasn't that. Very likely the guy had a few beers, knows that it's dumb to pick a fight with Rick Rypien and mocked him a little because the score was 5-1 and Rypien looked like a goof going after Brad Staubitz.

Damien doesn't absolve Rypien of blame, but he does seem to give a heck of a lot to the fan. In Damien's world, the fans don't show up to sports games. They are too loud and noisy and you can't hear player chatter.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Trainspotting with the 1-4 Ottawa Senators

Choose Ottawa Senators hockey. Choose a goalie. Choose defensemen. Choose a centreman. Choose a Swedish captain. Choose an arena with one entrance 25 km out of the city. Choose one highway exit. Choose a parking logjam. Choose red, black and white. Choose an easily confused GM. Choose an injury prone goaltender. Choose a more reliable backup. Choose to leave Jason Spezza on the first line, God knows why. Choose, of all possible San Jose Shark options, Jonathan Cheechoo and Milan Michalek. Choose not to accept that Daniel Alfredsson is not Daniel Alfredsson from five years ago. Choose a piggybacking PP specialist over a proven shot-blocker. Choose an over-the-hill Russian superstar. Choose to boo young defensemen. Choose not to attend games. Choose instead to unpack Leafs gear stored away in 1992. Choose to wear childish third jersey to game. Choose Jarkko Ruutu and Chris Campoli. Choose to keep Chris Phillips playing as your top defenseman, regardless of the fact that he has been on the ice for more goals at even strength than any other defenseman so far this season. Choose to be the team that shoots more than the opponent, but still get outshot 40-19 on national television. I choose not to choose Ottawa Senators hockey.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Holy hell, the Lions cut Casey Printers

Well this is an interesting turn of events. After putting Casey Printers in for no reason on Monday against the Bombers, Wally Buono turned on a dime on the heels of an overtime pick-six to give Casey a proper send-off.

Not the way you want your CFL career to (likely) end. Video at 7:13 here, with bonus Rod Black screaming and yelling.

It's not quite leaving him behind in the parking lot, never to bring him back, but a few years ago, Wally Buono had an eye for all kinds of quarterback talent. He had brought in Casey Printers (first-time Casey Printers. MOP Casey Printers) and Buck Pierce and Jarious Jackson, all of whom had success throwing to one of the most complete receiving corps we've seen. Jason Clermont is gone. So is Ryan Thelwell. Geroy Simon is at the twilight of his career.

Addition by subtraction. Printers #2 was a selling point for fans. I still dream of yelling "NOOOOOOOOO" when Printers #2 put up that ball on 2nd and goal in that overtime game against Saskatchewan while on the run, throwing across his body.

For better or for worse, this team is now Travis Lulay's. The Lions are still in a good spot to make the playoffs, a game up on Edmonton and Winnipeg, but it's clear that from here on out, the Lions will be in a rebuilding period, hopefully culminating with Wally Buono stepping down at the end of the year.

If anything, the failed Printers #2 experiment has proved to the Vancouver media that Wally is not infallible and that packing your team full of evangelical Christians is not always good from a football perspective.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The hockey media is up in arms over the Wisniewski gesture

thus they continue to direct attention to the Wisniewski gesture

It's not a throat slash. It's not anything violent. It didn't put anybody in physical harm. It didn't involve anybody except for James Wisniewski and Sean Avery, and shouldn't really offend anybody.

Sunday's hockey games offered a lot for the hockey media to pontificate on. New Jersey dressed 15 players due to salary cap contraints (there's a legal issue here), there was a big brawl in the St. Louis/Anaheim game that was out of reach (there's an unnecessary violence issue here), there have been nine head injuries so far this season (there's a player safety issue here).

So James Wisniewski told Sean Avery to blow him. I'm sure that nobody has ever done that. I'm sure no fan has ever done that. I'm sure that Sean Avery has a squeaky-clean track record and sensitive personality that would make him feel totally uncomfortable by a gesture like that.

Or completely the opposite. Preach, brothers.

Larry Brooks compares what Wisniewski did to what Sean Avery said about Elisha Cuthbert a few years back that led to a six-game Avery suspension.

"But I'm sure nothing is going to happen to him because nothing ever happens.

"It's interesting you get a warning [from the officials] for something like that. Imagine if I did that. I'd be sent to rehab."

I thought what happened on the ice stayed on the ice, or something. (Somebody needs to re-write the unwritten code) Sean Avery displayed his inability to let go of Elisha Cuthbert to the media the way a crying failed contestant on American Idol yells to the judges that "ya'll haven't heard the last of me! Ya'll missed your chance!" James Wiesniewski didn't. He told Sean Avery to blow him. The only way this is a controversy is if Graham James is involved.

Damien Cox decided to compare the Wisniewski action to the Niklas Hjalmarsson hit, also from yesterday, which sent Pominville off the ice in a stretcher.

Ugly hit, yes. Suspension-worthy, yes. Malicious, no. Hjalmarsson is a guy who had 20 PIMs last year, all minors. Like Pominville, he got caught out of position and had a momentary lapse of judgment. This is the type of hit that puts somebody into the 'repeat offender' category and nothing more.
Does the NHL value class or safety more? Does is despise vulgarity more, or actions which put other players in unnecessary physical danger?
Class or safety? The only player who isn't safe when Hjalmarsson is on the ice is Marty Turco (Hjalmarsson is a -4 already this year)
After 20 years of seeing various nefarious misdeeds on the rink, I can't tell you with any honesty what will transpire in either case.
Nefarious misdeed? Is that a synonym for "isolated incident" which is what both of these cases are?

If Damien Cox is so concerned about class and protecting the children, maybe him and the rest of the hockey media who are so concerned should stop talking about it. TSN ran the video in their highlight package, except they blurred the gesture. Again, if TSN is concerned about the children, then don't show it.

It reminds of when Paul McCartney was asked by an interviewer whether he did drugs. McCartney said yes. The interviewer asked whether he was going to be seen as a bad influence, to which McCartney replied "I'm not the one publishing it."
Will one action deserve only a slap on the wrist, or both? Will Colin Campbell decide enough is enough and hammer both Wisnewski and Hjalmarsson?

Only Campbell knows, and as he awakes this morning, he probably doesn't know, either.

Well that makes a whole lot of sense. Thanks for clarifying it for me.

For what it's worth, Hjalmarsson deserves two or three games and a target on his back for the next time he does something like this, which may be never. Wisniewski deserves nothing until he starts slandering ex-girlfriends in the press or acting like a pest for being a pest on the ice reccurently and actually becomes a threat to the 'class' of the game.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Monday morning statgeek: An early look at volatility

We aren't as close to having Gabriel Desjardins analyze player trends and bring expert predictive analysis to Hockey Night in Canada, but for what it's worth, Ron MacLean wore a suit on Saturday that looks a bit like the one Sheldon Cooper sometimes wears in The Big Bang Theory.

[Twitpic courtesy of Ryan Classic]

Volatility, loosely explained, is the calculation of how many goals a player will be on the ice for in a 60-minute timespan, both for and against, powerplay and shorthanded. The idea is that your players with higher volatility are unpredictable and more can happen when they're on the ice.

Seeing as its so time-consuming and there's no guarantee that it will offer me any insight into player trends because it turns out goals are a completely random occurence, I'm only taking into account players for Canadian teams in these statistics.

Notably high players:

Mathieu Darche - 8.7 MIN played, 1 GF, 1 GA, 13.79 VOL
Zack Storini, 9.1 MIN played, 1 GF, 1 GA, 13.19 VOL
Nikolai Kulemin, 30.5 MIN played, 3 GF, 3 GA, 11.80 VOL
Mike Komisarek, 25.9 MIN played, 3 GF, 2 GA, 11.58 VOL
Mikael Grabovski, 31.5 MIN played, 3 GF, 2 GA, 3.52 VOL

Notably low players:

With several players at 0, it's best to note that Dan Hamhuis has played the most minutes without having been on the ice for a goal. The player who has played the most minutes without having surrendered a goal is Tomas Kaberle. The high forward is Tyler Bozak.

The other thing I get looking closer into the plus/minus stat is to determine goals for per minute and goals against per minute.

High goals for ratio:

Mike Cammaleri: 7.10 GF/60
Jim Vandermeer: 7.06 GF/60
Mike Komisarek: 9.95 GF/60

High goals against ratio:

Chris Phillips: 7.46 GA/60
Raitis Ivanans: 7.23 GA/60
Tanner Glass: 7.06 GA/60

These are early numbers, so take them with a grain of salt. Is Mike Komisarek not a steady stay-at-home defenseman? Should Ron Wilson skate Nikolai Kulemin instead of Phil Kessel as an extra-attacker? Is Raitis Ivanans better at blocking punches with his face than he is blocking shots? Will I get laid this month?

Statistically speaking, the sample size isn't high enough to generate a sure answer for all but one of those questions, but Monday morning statgeek will take a look at volatility ratings bi-weekly (the one that means once every two weeks, not the one that means twice a week).

Vancouver host Florida and Ottawa are in Washington tonight. Ottawa has two goals in two games, so if you were lucky enough to pick up Michael Neuvirth in your pool, today would be a good day to start him.

Friday, October 8, 2010

A brief look at CFL Week 15

This week features four rematches of last week's games, two of which were oddly compelling.

Edmonton @ Hamilton - Friday Night. Hamilton weather is sunny, high of 23, low of 9. Weather should not be an issue.

Toronto @ Saskatchewan - Saturday evening. Similar weather to Hamilton, but the wind is often an issue at Mosaic Stadium, and is certainly more of an issue where (presumably) half the kicks will be fielded by Chad Owens.

Calgary @ Montreal - Monday afternoon. A little chilly at McGill, but that's about it.

BC @ Winnipeg - Monday evening. High, sunny temperatures at CanadInns Stadium. It's friggin October, are you meaning to tell me that we won't see anybody's breath, Mr. Weather Report?

First things first: Saskatchewan can clinch a home-field game with a win and a BC loss, but if neither scenario pans out, it's not exactly a problem. They have enough of a lead to not have to worry about losing out on ticket revenue at Mosaic in November.

In the East, both losers of two-straight, it appears that Hamilton and Toronto have entered "choke-off" mode into determining the final home playoff position. This week, it's advantage: Hamilton, who play at home against the league's second worst team. Well, unless the magical accountability board has anything to say about it.

Pick: Hamilton -4

Saskatchewan is favoured by 11 points in Saturday's tilt, which is hovering around league average for point spread, until you consider that Vegas only expects 49 points out of this game. Toronto's offense sucks, and I really hate to say it, but Jim Barker may want to think about giving Danny Brannagan some snaps. Like it or not, people will be looking at Brannagan to start for this team out of camp next year unless the Argos make serious changes at the QB position.

Pick: Toronto +11

Just sit back and enjoy the Montreal/Calgary game. Montreal are clearly going to head into the playoffs headfirst rather than wading in and playing safe in the last few weeks. Calgary need to secure home field. Ballhawking secondaries and laser rocket arms on both sides.

Pick: Montreal -3

With Buck Pierce still on the shelf, the Bombers have decided to turn toWashington St. Cougar Alex Brink at quarterback on Monday. Unless he can Lulay leap, I'm not scared:

*Sound editing not done by me*

Pick: BC +4

Also, here are your import roster additions who you will begin to hear more of next year.

Yeah, so this Jordan Eberle kid is alright

So, these Edmonton Oilers are fun to watch, aren't they? Or at least just this one time. This is probably the goal of the night, also featuring Ian White refusing to take both the man and the puck, and TJ Brodie somehow being outskated by Jordan Eberle.

Outside of Hedley and a long, convoluted, corny Olympics-esque opening ceremony at the Air Canada Centre, it was a pretty good return of hockey. Toronto and Edmonton had wins at home against a depleted Montreal team and a Flames team that's really just terrible, respectively, but it signaled a return of hope to two teams that looked in disrepair at January of last season.

Eberle notches his first goal in Oilers win
A good start in a year Leafs will fight for relevance

Buffalo are in Ottawa tonight. I guess I can't wait for that.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Good Old Hockey Game - A look at the NHL season

The NHL season starts tomorrow, and every blog likes to put together a gimmicky look at the season. There's no reason The 'Eh' Factor can't get involved in this. Here are some lulz and predictions to get you ready for the season.

Cincinnati vs. Philadelphia - Who ya got?

The MLB playoffs start today, which are always compelling to watch, but this season, there's a little more riding on the line than cop cars in the championship city.

His worship Roy Halladay did not take long to get into the playoffs playing for a good team. A lot of Blue Jays fans took a lot of pride in the way Halladay pitched for the Phillies this year, and while it would be bittersweet to see Doc win with another team, it's certainly deserving of the best pitcher the Blue Jays have had in their history. Halladay's postseason appearance has already generated an online tag of 'Doctober'.

However, Halladay and the Philadelphia Phillies will start the postseason against the upstart Cincinnati Reds, who are led by a breakout star from Toronto named Joey Votto. Votto led the majors in OBP and the National League in slugging and even though he lost ground at the tail end of the season in the homerun chase, losing out to not only Albert Pujols but Adam Dunn as well, Votto is a good bet to be the first Canadian player to win the National League MVP since Larry Walker in 1997.

It should be a great series, compounded by the fact that if you're a Canadian baseball fan, you probably have a rooting interest in this one. First pitch is at 2:07 pm from the hands of the Reds' Edwin Volquez. Halladay. Halladay Edwin Volquez is slated to go for the Phils Reds.

[TSN series preview]

A shame though, is that the 2006 American League MVP Justin Morneau will be on the shelf for the whole of the Minnesota Twins' playoff run.

[CBC - Votto tops list of Canadians in MLB Playoffs

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Toronto media continues to pile on Leafs prospect, and other hockey stories

Nazem Kadri, to nobody's surprise, was sent down to the Toronto Marlies yesterday, and Leafs nation's Barilkosphere outlets responded quite rationally. I still have yet to read a post from a reputable Leafs source which has declared Kadri a "bust" or other fancy terms Canucks had reserved for Cody Hodgson after his dissapointing preseason last year.

So, what say you, Toronto Sun?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Raptors intrasquad watched by half-empty gymnasium

The Toronto Raptors are in Vancouver this week practicing out at UBC in preparation for their pre-season tilt at Rogers Arena against the Phoenix Suns Wednesday night.

So what better way to open up the team to fans than to hold an on-campus intrasquad game, with the proceeds going to charity?

Everything, as it turns out, if you're charging $15 for a scrimmage. Hundreds of seats remained empty throughout the event. Perhaps they should have advertised that Jarrett Jack would be singing Justin Bieber songs.

[Video update of Jack's aforementioned performance here]

While it's a good concept, charging money for the NBA in Vancouver is pretty well heresy after Michael Heisley stuck a knife into the city, and twisted it, taking away the beloved-yet-miserable Grizzlies.

Ubyssey editor Justin McElroy made the point on Twitter that when the Grizzlies took their training camp to the University of Victoria, the event was free for students.

Although at least UBC filled up half the gym. My school can't fill up a bus. For $35, Thompson Rivers University students get two-way transportation from Kamloops to Vancouver and a ticket to the Wednesday exhibition game. Spots are still available.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The ultimate in douchebag apparel - an Ultimate Figher replica jersey

MMA fans tend to have it rough. Many bars here in Kamloops don't allow entry to patrons sporting Tapout, Silverstar or Affliction t-shirts because of their apparent connections to gangs. While evidence is possibly around to support this, this isn't really the issue I'm taking at hand here. A hockey fan can wear a hockey jersey. A basketball fan a basketball jersey, ditto with all sports all the way down to rhythmic gymnastics. But how can a fighting fan support their favourite fighter?

Hopefully, not like this. I came across this at the local Jersey City, yours for just $69.99 (minus a 10% mall employee discount!) This, to the unfamiliar, is a replica "jersey" of what Ultimate Fighting Championship hopefuls wear while training on the set of 'The Ultimate Figher' competing for a six-figure UFC deal. Montreal's Georges St.-Pierre, UFC welterweight champion and generally regarded as one of the top pound-for-pound fighters on the planet, is coaching half the fighters. Hence, 'Team GSP'.

I pose to whatever commentariat we have one place where wearing this shirt would be appropriate. Even if you're steadily training in MMA, putting on a $70 'Team GSP' jersey is just out of mind ridiculous. If you see a 'Team GSP' jersey being worn in public, please send me the picture.

Related: Courtesy of Puck Daddy, this abortion of a Leafs jersey.

Friday, October 1, 2010

A brief look at the week's CFL games

So you may have noticed that this blog's CFL coverage is scaling backwards. No, this doesn't mean a series of layoffs have hurt the 'Eh' Factor's editorial content, it just means that the CFL playoffs race has become vapid and uninteresting, and while I still love watching the games, meaningful play is become increasingly rare in this 18-game, 6-out-of-8-teams in the playoffs puzzle.

Even though Calgary has dropped a couple and find themselves just a game ahead of Saskatchewan, they still have another game between each other. Toronto and Hamilton are neck-and-neck in the East, but as it turns out, you can't look at either team and say that they deserve home-field.

The way to fix this is to hold off on gimmicky late-season games in Moncton and actually expand the league by two teams and reduce the number of playoff teams to four. Fewer matchups against the same opponents and more games that will tangibly matter. Though your most intriguing matchup on paper this week is Calgary/Montreal, the one that really matters is BC/Winnipeg.

Ah well, enough with the whining.

Montreal/Calgary - Tonight at 9:

Unfortunately, with a bit of a sunny spell hitting Western Canada, its October and there's no cold weather games to speak of this week. Anthony Calvillo threw for 477 yards last week and could have hit 500 if it weren't for some illegal play by Winnipeg defensive backs. Also, he's an absolute beast. Ben Cahoon hit 1000 career catches last week, with two big ones on that final drive, and needs seven to pass former Alouette Terry Vaughn for the all-time record.

Calgary have dropped two straight, with last week's performance against BC going down as one of the dreaded good-teams-looking-like-pure-shit games. This isn't an important game for the Stampeders with just the standings in mind, but if they lose here, they go on the road for consecutive weeks into Montreal and into Saskatchewan, which is the only really tough stretch on their schedule.

Interesting stat: While Henry Burris and Anthony Calvillo have pretty well locked horns for Most Outstanding Player finalists (after all, this can only go to a quarterback, right?) their respective backups Drew Tate and Ricky Santos boast perfect passer ratings at 158.3.

Winnipeg/BC - Saturday at 10:

Holy hell, the Lions have won 3 of 4! Travis Lulay is going to start! The Lions invaded McMahon with a balanced offense last week! Yonus Davis is a little bit of awesome running back kicks (see what I did there?) Things are looking good in BC, although with six weeks left in the regular season, I'm weary they make be peaking too early.

Winnipeg have dropped 3 of 4, (the loss last week, though, can ENTIRELY be chalked up to the officials, though, right?) Steven Jyles had a QB rating of 137 last week, put 40 points up on the board against the apparently vaunted Montreal defense and still managed to lose.

Thanks to the cross-over, this game, and their subsequent matchup at CanadInns Stadium are quite important. Can BC, already one game up, stare down Winnipeg from their rearview mirror once this is all over, or will the Bombers leap-frog the Lions for that chance to go play at Mosaic in the middle of November? Or, more likely, will the teams split the home-and-home and have a choke-off in the final month to determine entry to the playoffs?

Saskatchewan/Toronto - Saturday at 3:

Toronto get to debut their new starting quarterback, Dalton Bell. We know this story: since Lemon made the team coming out of camp, it would be unfair for him to lose his job due to an injury. This means Bell will put up good numbers for the couple of weeks Lemon is out, and Jim Barker will completely not pull an Andy Reid and bring Lemon back to continue getting sacked, throwing interceptions and underthrowing mid-range receivers.

Hamilton/Edmonton - Sunday at 4:30

I hate to say it, but do you know what looks better to watch from a fan perspective on Sunday? All four late afternoon NFL games, yes, even Houston/Oakland. Hamilton are a mediocre 6-6 beating the week teams on their schedule. Edmonton flat-out suck, pulling a decent performance out of their asses ever so often. This could not be a more unintriguing matchup, unless a freak blizzard hits Edmonton. I would gladly watch a 7-6 game for that.