Sports... Well, they rule

Jason Gregor
April 18 2009 06:25PM

What a great day to be a sports fan. Hockey, basketball, hockey, beer, hockey, baseball, basketball, hockey, beer, UFC and more hockey.

A day like Saturday is why I love being a sports degenerate. My flight from Colorado, after another tough Rush loss, landed at 11:20 a.m. and I got on my couch at 12:06 p.m. The beginning of eleven continuous hours of watching sports, and the storylines were all intriguing.

VARLAMOV?

I tune into the Caps/Rangers game and I’m stunned trying to figure out who the hell is Simeon Varlamov. The 20-year-old Russian got into six games for the Caps this year, and in his five starts he went 4-0-1 with a .920 Sv% and a 2.4 GAA.

Gutsy call by Bruce Boudreau to go with the rookie, and he even though they lost 1-0, Varlamov was considerably better than Jose Theodore was in game one. Varlamov stopped 23 of 24, but Henrik Lundqvist was the story stopping all 35. In the first two games the Caps have dominated but they can’t score.

Boudreau has to stick with Varlamov the rest of the way, but unless Ovechkin, Green and company can score it won’t matter who is in net.

My picks are getting spanked right now. I had the Caps, Blues, Sharks, and Canes moving on. Not looking great right now. And I don’t even want to check where I’m at in the NATION pool. If I’m behind Wanye I will be bombed before the Habs game starts.

And if you have never heard Mike Emrick call a game, make sure you do before the playoffs are over. He is outstanding and brings great energy, enthusiasm and intonation to the booth.

BULLS RETURN TO GLORY?

During the 2nd intermission of the Caps/Rangers game I switched to the SCORE to check out the Bulls and the defending champion Boston Celtics. The Celtics aren’t going anywhere without KG, and after watching Derrick Rose they might not get past round one.

Rose was phenomenal for the Bulls. The Rookie tied Karim Abdul-Jabbar, for most points by a rookie in his first playoff game with 36. Wilt Chamberlain (35) and Tim Duncan (32) were the others in the top three before Rose came along, so he is definitely in some select company. He also added 12 assists and was a perfect 12 for 12 from the free throw line before fouling out in OT. The Bulls won 105-103, after Paul Pierce missed a free throw with 2.7 seconds to go in regulation time.

Rose's poise, speed, quickness, strength, patience and ability to make the tough shot at the key time were impressive. No one should compare him to the legend, Michael Jordan, but along with Tyrus Thomas and Joakim Noah the Bulls have some great young talent. The most refreshing part about Rose was how humble and soft spoken he was after the game. Make sure you check out Rose and the upstart Bulls against the Celtics later this week.

YOU THINK HORCOFF’S CONTRACT IS BAD?

Even though Shawn Horcoff’s contract has yet to kick in, many are already questioning how he can possibly produce enough to earn that kind of coin. While Horcoff’s deal puts him in the top 20 worst in the NHL, it doesn’t come close to the albatross in Toronto.

Vernon Wells is in year two of a six-year $126 million contract. He takes home a cool $18 million per season. Wells signed the extension after the 2006 season when he hit .303 with 32 homers and 106 RBI. Similar to Horcoff Wells had one year left on his existing contract that paid him $5.6 million in 2007, when he signed the extension.

Like Horcoff, Wells underperformed in the final year of his deal, before his monstrous ticket kicked in. Wells hit a gawdy .245 with 16 dingers and 80 RBI.

He did rebound last year a bit hitting .300 but he only had 20 homers and 78 Ribbies.

Why did I bring this up? After the Rangers and Bulls won, I switched to see the Jay. What can I say I’m a sports junkie, and the Jays are off to a great start. They are absolutely tearing the cover off the ball, leading the league in batting average, runs, doubles, hits, RBI and are tied for 1st in homers.

Yet, Wells has two round trippers and a meager five RBI. He hits in the middle of the order on a team that crushes the ball, yet he only has five RBI? OUCH.

Yesterday in the bottom of the ninth in tie game, Wells came to the plate with one out and runners on first and third. The infield was in, and Wells grounded to second and the A’s promptly threw out Scutaro at home and the Jay needed 12 innings before winning 4-2.

Wells’ contract could easily put him in the top ten worst of all time in MLB when it expires in 2014.

And the Jays are now 9-4. I still have a soft spot for them, even though I know it is only a matter of time before their pitching collapses. But right now they are fun to watch, regardless of how grossly overpaid Wells is.

FAVOURITE ATHLETE TO WATCH

It is 2:00 p.m. and I’ve already watched parts of three games, had a few bevys, a turkey sandwich and part some Easter chocolate and now I tune into the watch the Cavaliers schooling the Pistons. This game is a must watch for me because of Lebron James.

The top-five athletes I would pay to watch live include Ovechkin, James, Anderson Silva, Roy Halladay and Randy Moss. I know Tiger Woods is great, but watching golf is not a priority for me. I want to sit in my seat, crush a few beers and check out some cheerleaders, rather than have to run from hole to hole trying to get a good seat. Golf not a sport I care to watch, unless I could hover above in an air-conditioned hover craft.

James is a 6’8”, 260 pound freak. He is the Ovechkin of hockey. He scores, passes, plays good D and has an infectious personality.

James -- I hate when announcers use Lebron and Kobe -- had 22 points in the first half, including a half-court-buzzer-beater, and the Cavs had a comfortable 12 point lead.

He ended up with 38 points, a team-high seven assists and eight rebounds as the Cavs won easily 102-84.

*** What made this game even better was learning that ABC will finally air a new Desperate Housewives episode Sunday night. That’s right boys and girls, I like DHW. It is a guilty pleasure. I know the writing isn’t great and the story lines are predictable, but something about it keeps bringing me back. And that something is the hot cougars: Teri Hatcher, Eva Longoria, Nicolette Sheridan and even Felicity Huffman.

Is Edie seriously injured??? She better be, because those bastards at ABC have made us wait three weeks to see what happened to her. How sad do I sound right now, getting amped up over DHW…whatever it is Super Sports Saturday, so I need some female thoughts to balance things out.

PICTURE IN PICTURE A GREAT INVENTION

Just had time to squeeze in a little nap before the Wings and Jackets fire up the hockey playoff train again. This series doesn’t excite me that much.

I hate Calgary so that is a no-brainer. Oveckin is easy to watch, the battle of Pennsylvania is enticing, Habs v. Bruins is always intense, Ducks and Sharks are stacked with great players and the Blues are a great story, even though they are down two games already.

The Devils and Wings’ series don’t do much for me, yet, since I’m a degenerate I will be watching.

While I wait for to see if Mason can stand on his head I discover this little nugget….

When the Wild axed Lemaire and Risebrough, I thought that might give the Wild a chance to re-sign UFA Marian Gaborik, but after reading this (link story) http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=275499 I doubt it.

Consider this the first volley from Salcer. If the Wild are going to keep his Gaborik, they will have to come close to the $8 million-a-year offer they had on the table last year.

It isn’t a good sign when a player, or his agent, publicly criticize the team’s medical staff.

Since I’m not a fan of the Habs, Bruins, Flames or Hawks I wonder which game do I watch when they overlap one another? Which one goes in the small picture in the picture-in-picture feature?

I’m also intrigued to see if Chuck Liddell gets rocked again tonight in UFC 97. If he gets knocked out he has to retire, or at Dana White should stop putting him in the ring. If Rua can’t beat Liddell then he won’t be part of a main event anytime soon.

And does anyone think the “Spider” won’t win? Silva is a destroyer in the cage, but remember that Patrick Cote did last three rounds before his grotesque injury gave Silva the win. I think Silva might want to prove that that fight was a fluke for Cote. Thales Leites will be lucky to get out of the second round.

Enjoy the rest of the day, and of course tomorrow should be just as fun for a sports fan. In fact, it will be better because DHW is on at 10pm, when all the hockey, basketball, baseball are done.

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One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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#1 Jay
April 18 2009, 06:45PM
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you think Horcoff's contract is bad? try Jerome James of the NBA. The Knicks signed him to 5 year 30 million dollar deal. The guy basically rode the bench full time. played 9 minutes a game for 45 games in 05-06, 7mpg for 41 games in 06-07, and only played in 4 games in the last two years. 30 million?! RODE THE BEENCH!

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#2 Magicmeatbag
April 18 2009, 07:03PM
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Spring time is always a good time to be a sports fan as there is always something on =D

But i think with this year being the way it was next year will be better for a lot of the Oiler players stat wise.

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#3 Rusty Shackleford
April 18 2009, 07:04PM
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I still think Starbury's contract in New York is one of the worst ever. Boston got a deal on him now, but wow did he ever make the bench shine for the Knicks.

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#4 Rider
April 18 2009, 07:35PM
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Its true, spring time is the most exciting time of the year. Come home from school, watch a basketball game and a hockey game, nothin' better. Actually, i take that back. Watching an OILER hockey game and a basketball game would be the ideal.

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#5 BeeDoubleRYouIn
April 18 2009, 08:23PM
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I'd like to think of next year as a chuckwagon race for the Oilers. This year the man at the reins had all but driven way past his time, he blamed his horses for the poor starts and even poorer runs. He had his team re-worked and brought in a lighter wagon faster horses and yet the same result. His time had come and his time has past, let the new guy let these horses run..... or something like that. The new coach will let the young guys do what they do best and what got them to NHL in the first place.

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#6 heavyd
April 18 2009, 08:40PM
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Spring is here, the golf courses are open, and esks football is around the corner.

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#7 jeanshorts
April 18 2009, 09:51PM
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Chuck Lidell's career = Over. Thanks for the memories.

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#8 Jonathan Willis
April 18 2009, 10:00PM
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I miss Alexei Yashin's contract. That was always worth a laugh.

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#9 esa tikkanen
April 18 2009, 10:19PM
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Jonathan I wrote some comments in the Searching for a Head Coach on your Schremp article from Feb, would be curious to know what you think of my thoughts...

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#10 Hemmertime
April 18 2009, 10:22PM
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Interesting, I might have to tune in to final 2 innings of a Jays game. Thats about all the baseball I can handle unless storyline like McGuire (Sp? I think W in his name) or Bonds. But man, I feel for WSH. They have to be getting frustrated.

How much you guys think Gaborik signs for next year? 1 year contract for semi decent money to show hes not made of glass, or lock in for long term on some overpaying gambling team (Tampa Bay!)

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#11 esa tikkanen
April 18 2009, 10:32PM
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nice to see the flames lose. too bad this probably means they lose the series and Keenan gets fired and Brent gets hired in Cowtown. Did anybody notice Crawford was 75 games over .500 in Vancouver in his career there? That wasn't that good of a team, he must be a decent coach. That team in LA was brutal, and offsets the success in Colorado where I could have coached and won the Stanley Cup

It will be interesting to see how Tambo and the coach look at this assembly of talent and redirect it. Really the Oilers have some very good assets, it is the lack of complementarity that is frustrating. Too many small playmakers, not enought bigger players or one shot shooters, of course no penalty killing expert at forward or on defence. My fear is the Oilers will do their usual overkill and trade all the small playrs and have too many big galoots who can't skate or score. 2005-2006: good team, no goalie 2006-2007: lots of shooters/goal scorers (smyth, Sykora ,Lupul), no playmakers. lots of defensive defenceman, good penalty killers, not one puck moving dman 2007-2008: seemingly only 10 veteran NHL players, a bunch of kids, small team, skill, no toughness, miracle ending almost makes the playoffs 2007-2008: mish mash of talent. lots of small playmaking forwards, no goal scorers, not enough toughness, not enough faceoff or penalty killers up front, lose more battles to the puck than any group I have ever seen, no forechecking. Lots of puck moving defenceman, not one really good dman good at penalty killing, not one really good shut down dman. ALso lose more battles to the puck than any group I have ever seen.

Despite all the gnashing of teeth in Edmonton the last few weeks, this is not a team that needs to be gutted. They need to trade their surpluses to replace their deficits...

Trade one of their good offensive dman and one of their small forwards for one proven top 6 gritty forward who does not make plays but finishes them in the net. Trade another small forward for a journeyman veteran dman who is good at killing penalties. Trade another small forward for a third line center who can fight, win faceoffs and kill penalties. Do those three things and this should be a playoff team. If the small center we keep is Gagner and he progresses, and Horcoff does not have to run a marathon every game and scores a few more goals. If the new coach threatens Penner to go to the minors if he does not make three hits per period, and if the new coach uses a system that actually forechecks, this could be a very good team...

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#12 Archaeologuy
April 19 2009, 12:41AM
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DHW? That's weak but I'll give it to you. I was bored the other day and ended up watching all 361 hours of Titanic. I revoked my own Man-Card that day. I'm on probation. I need to re-watch Band of Brothers and Rome before I can get it back.

Worst Contract? That is Rick DiPietro's title to lose.

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#13 Jonathan Willis
April 19 2009, 12:48AM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

Worst Contract? That is Rick DiPietro’s title to lose.

I've never been able to decide if the DiPietro series of events was more or less tragic than the Yashin series of events.

DiPietro: Milbury trades Luongo and Jokinen for Kvasha and Parrish because he has a new franchise goaltender; #1 overall pick DiPietro. Meanwhile, Dany Heatley is passed over and falls to #2. DiPietro is then signed for 300 years at a reasonable rate.

Yashin: Milbury trades Chara and the #2 pick (Jason Spezza) to Ottawa for Yashin and subsequently signs Yashin for 200 years at an incredible rate.

Lesson: Never let Mike Milbury run your hockey team.

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#14 Shaun
April 19 2009, 12:58AM
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too bad basketball sucks

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#15 Archaeologuy
April 19 2009, 01:08AM
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@ Jonathan Willis: No Kidding! Yashin's was bad but the majority of it was pre-salary cap. DiPietro's was made at a time when everyone knew that bad moves would hinder your chances at fielding a quality team or moving parts out via trades, and they STILL signed the guy who breaks down more often than the Mir space station until he's 40. If both were to have happened post lockout then Yashin wins (loses?).

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#16 Harlie
April 19 2009, 07:53AM
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man watching Calgary CHOKE last night was almost as gratifying as watching an Oilers win. hahahaha at the Flameoids!

P.S - How's the Red Mile doing this year? Got the parade route cancelled yet? Bahahaha!

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#17 SkinnyD
April 19 2009, 07:58AM
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Shaun wrote:

too bad basketball sucks

Can be hard to watch on TV, but if you ever get a chance to see an NBA game live - DO IT. Not only is it a great game, the cheerleaders are awesome too!!

Teri Hatcher is dreamy...

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#18 roughneck
April 19 2009, 08:56AM
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can we discuss the great 8s back check after his giveaway? It was kovalev esque.. and I notice that it hasnt been mentioned much. Not an OV hater but cmon MVP, a bit of I give a damn is requisite behavior in da playoffs. I guess theres no celebration for accountability.

Bad contracts... Bobby Holik from sather... simply awesome!!

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#19 Smokin' Ray - NNC
April 19 2009, 11:00AM
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@ esa tikkanen: BTW. Vancouver had a great team when Crawford was there. I had the unfortunate pleasure of watching them for those years. However, they did not have a good goalie to help them get over that cusp. The Bertuzzi/Morrison/Naslund line was one of the best in the league (at that time). The team went to crap when the Moore incident happened. And he was finally canned for it.

Sadly for Canuck fans, if Luongo was there then, they could have been Stanley Cup champs. *spits on floor* I can't believe I said that.

Bottom line. Crawford only was good with good teams already in place. He can't coach a regular plain jane team with no substantial talent that is ready to go. ie: LA Kings. Then again, he did bring that goalie that couldn't win in Van with him to LA. Would he bring him to Edmonton? Hope not.

Now has anyone listened to Crawford on CBC? He had a clear displeasure for the Oil when he was doing the color commentary. Now a coaching spot opens up and he's the first one to say "Pick me. I love the Oilers".

Why did no one pick him up last year to coach if he is that good of a coach?

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#20 Archaeologuy
April 19 2009, 11:02AM
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@ roughneck: I saw his back check, he was at the end of a shift that lasted 1 min 04 secs and he managed to out skate 3 of his teammates who were a heck of a lot closer to the play than he was. It wasnt even close to his fault.

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#21 john
April 19 2009, 12:20PM
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Astonishingly thing about Lebron James is that he was recently weighed and weighed in at 272 lbs. There are NO other small forwards that weigh 240 and not that many power forwards at that weight. Plus he is super quick....freak

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#22 Jay
April 19 2009, 03:44PM
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@ john: not sure about the truth to lebron's weight. i had my doubts when i heard him claim he weighed 260 a week or so ago. I mean, dwight howard is 6'11'' and massive. He dwarfs lebron, but only weighs in at 265? one of these numbers doesn't make sense

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#23 Steve
April 19 2009, 05:02PM
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Speaking of Lebron being a freak, i had this conversation with my friend a little over a year ago.. i called out the A-ROID situation, and i have a weird feeling with Lebron as well.. he was a tank in high school, perhaps he was taking steriods throughout highschool.. Think about it...

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#24 Jack "FMNF" Bauer
April 19 2009, 10:00PM
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Hey Gregor, you forgot to add the Nascar race that was on Saturday night to your list.

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#25 Greg MC
April 20 2009, 10:52AM
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Wade Redden's contract looks pretty horrible.

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#26 Archaeologuy
April 20 2009, 12:10PM
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I thought you'd take more flak over desperate housewives gregor, this lack of mockery suggests there are a few closet fans out there. Perhaps i should check this show out.

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#27 Bob Loblaw
April 20 2009, 01:42PM
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If Crawford makes it as coach, put me down for the "FCNF" campaign.

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#28 IM BRIAN FELLOWS!!!!
April 23 2009, 02:16AM
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If dousche bag Crawford becomes coach... We Riot.

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