Are you ready for some football?!!

(NOTE TO MY READERS: I will be blogging for a little while at my new site. sign-up is free or you can just click HERE to read my blog. I will be blogging here with more in-depth stuff but join fanpage and you can connect with fans from around the world and have your own blog and find other bloggers there.)

"I'll watch the highlights every now and then but, as far as watching the game, I feel like I am the game" - Terrell Owens

Kickoff is T minus 6 hours and thanks to an exploding appendix we are about to be subjected to watching the 2007 NFL season kick off with Charlie Batch (who??!!!) as the starting QB for the reigning Suberbowl champs.

I decided to make a list of top ten random things I am looking forward to for this upcomign season...

  1. I can't wait for Donovan McNabb to burn the Cowboys but this time with Terrell Owens wearing the blue and white.
  2. Reggie Bush confirming that the Texans are morons for passing up on him as the #1 pick
  3. Matt Lienart staying out of Paris Hilton and going back to playing football ... he did give up some crazy guaranteed money by staying in school for that extra year
  4. Can McNair revive his career or is he going the route of Steve Francis of the Knicks
  5. Ben Rothelisburger staying out of the hospital long enough to play a few games this season
  6. Chad Pennington is a bust... now lets see if he can prove me wrong!
  7. Can't wait to see the ruckus after the inevitable sideline confrontation between Parcels and Terrell Owens
  8. Miami is actually a good team... Culpepper needed this lets see if he can turn it around...
  9. I will miss MNF on ABC... Look forward to seeing the chemistry with the new guys in the booth
  10. Is Washington ever going to be as good as they look on paper??
.... All this said... I must just sleep so tomorrow can come sooner and i can burn my Owens jersey as a tribute to the start of the new season!


Fiba Fever

TEAM USA: Mission = Incomplete!!!

Turns out I was right about only 1 thing... Spain would get a medal.

Team USA with a young team of All-Stars just wasn't prepared for the Greek team who had never beaten them in previous tournaments. I understand that this was a warm up to see how they fared against the rest of the world and did not matter as much as the Olympics but it was clear that the rest of the world has caught up. Lebron James and Dwayne Wade are very talented but the issue was not talent it was working within the way the international game flows. USA showed a lack of energy gettin down the floor many times and were terrible when it came to rotations and help defence. 3rd place is better than 6th but coach K has a lot of work ahead of him hopefully for the Olypics he will have the likes of Amare, Kobe and gang to work with.

Spain on the other hand dominated throughout the tournament and were clearly more comfortable in the environment and with the style of play. They managed to capture Gold with their star player cheering from the bench. As a Toronto Raptors fan this tournament was a thrill in terms of the Spanish team as 2 raptors represented and played a significant role. I hope they use this to motivate them for the NBA season. They won amongst the best now its time to show it on a nightly basis for 82 games.


Out with the old... In with the new

Gone are the days of dominance. After a bronze medal performance at the 2004 Olympics and a 6th place finish at the last World Championships, USA Basketball took a new approach to putting together the dream team of the future. They targeted youth and athleticism and above all players who can make a long term commitment to the team and are hungry to win. With the youth on board they brought on Coach K, one of the best in the business and he brings with him a ton of experience dealing with young gifted athletes.This is a test

At first glance the roster is hardly overwhelming as its not a team full of superstars but more a balance of role players and defensive specialist to complement the superstars. One third of the roster is made up of players from the class of 2003 (probably one of the best draft classes in the history of the NBA) and the average age is closer to 20 than it is to 30 for this men's senior team but if they learnt anything in the past is that the game is played different and this team was put together with that in mind. The players representing the USA are the best suited to the international game in the opinion of the mastermind behind this program Jerry Colangelo. The team is on their way to China to begin this quest for gold and it will be about a month until they can prove that they are once again the best in the world.

Living in Canada isn't very conducive to getting basketball coverage on television but with the help of TVUplayer I was able to watch the exhibition game between USA and Puerto Rico.

Observations after a first look at team USA...

  • The Average age of the starting 5 of Melo, Wade, Bosh, Lebron and Chris Paul is about 22... Wow!
  • Carmelo Anthony looks like a man on a mission and from every interview he seems to be the guy most of the coaching staff was surprised by. He was on the last team that captured bronze and received a ton of negative press in the aftermath of the Olympics. He is lookin' for redemption and looked like the most game ready player on the court yesterday.
  • Dwayne Wade is going to be the most unstoppable player on this team as he looked to be in playoff mode still. Wade is matured a ton after this years playoffs and it showed in his game on this night
  • Chris Paul is a Star! He is going to be the man that gets everyone going and he is the right guy for the job as his speed will be an asset during the tournament.
  • The team seemed to have a logjam at the guard position so when the roster is trimmed to 12 I expect only one player from the group of Joe Johnson, Bruce Bowen and Hinrich to survive.
  • Lebron James shot was flat and he was outshone the whole time by Melo and wade.
  • Carlos Arroyo looks like the next coming of Allen Iverson when playing for his country... I wonder if this Arroyo will ever show up in the NBA
  • Shane Battier looks like a dad amongst this team but his veteran presence will be welcomed. He brings something different to the game and was effective off the bench
  • Dwight Howard may be just 20 years old but he is a beast and opponents are going to have a tough time keeping him out of the paint. Also, he can be effective with pulling rebounds off the rim and stuffing them down without worrying about basket interference.
  • Brad Miller hit some shots but he really didn't look like he fit in well to the style. He seemed to be moving at a slower pace down the court and in the future his roster spot will probably go to Amare.
  • The team started out looking a little mechanical and were trying to get the perfect shot but after the half they made the adjustments and came out flying
  • The players effectively implemented college style full court pressure and that created turnovers and steals and at the same time they made good adjustments to the constant zone defence they faced.
  • Joe Johnson had a good shooting night and him along with Elton Brand were effectively hitting the mid-range jumpers
  • Gilbert Arenas and Chris Bosh looked a bit over anxious to start but that can be said of a lot of the players as the team got off to a slow start with a lot of turnovers and fouls as they were forcing the issue
  • 3 Pointers didn't fall as easily as I had expected but this needs to be a weapon that the team can use often during the tournament

  • Random Notes
  • After the first half I had to turn the game on mute as the sound of Bill Walton's voice was giving me a headache...
  • Pat Riley was in attendance and he looked burnt to a crisp! I think he might have fallen asleep in the tanning bed or sumthin...
  • 10 minute quarters are going to take a little time adjusting to...
  • This concept of pulling rebounds right off the rim after a missed free throw is crazy...
  • Seeing Coach K. pacing the sidelines and talking to Battier and Brand during timeouts is surreal...
  • Monday

    The "IF" factor: An early look at the MLB pennant race

    The "IF" factor post I did for the NBA playoffs was received well by you guys so I decided to go with the same format to break down the playoff race in the MLB. This time with a little more truth and a little less humour but before I get down to business it must be said that I have separated the pretenders from the contenders and bottom line is...

    "IF" baseball allowed 30 teams into the playoffs then I would be talking about the following teams: Kansas City Royals, Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Florida Marlins, Baltimore Orioles, Cleveland Indians, Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies, Washington Nationals, Houston Astros, Miwaukee Brewers, Chicago Cubs, Pittsburgh Pirates, Arizona D'Backs

    Now lets break it down...

    American League East
    "IF" Big Papi slows down on the big pimpin'
    "IF" Jonathan Papelbon keeps the Mohawk for the season
    ... then the Boston Red Sox will win the AL East

    "IF" A-Rod can concentrate on baseball rather than writing bedtime stories
    "IF" Bobby Abreu and Corey Lidle can make up for the loss of the entire outfield
    ... then the New York Yankees will win the AL East

    "IF" The Jays actually go 1 month with the same pitching rotation
    "IF" The Yankees and Red Sox beat up on each other in September
    ... then the Toronto Blue Jays have a chance to win the AL East

    American League Central
    "IF" the rookie pitchers can hold down fort for the next two months
    ... the the Detroit Tigers will win the AL Central

    "IF" Ozzie Guillen stops taking the spotlight away from the team
    ...then the Chicago White Sox will win the AL Central

    "IF" the team keeps beating up their division
    ... then the Minnesota Twins will win the AL Central

    American League West
    "IF" Barry Zito is still in Green come September
    ... then the Oakland Athletics will win the AL West

    "IF" they revert back to being the "Anaheim Angels"
    ... then the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim will win the AL West

    "IF" they decide to play like they can and go on a mini run
    ... then the Texas Rangers will win the AL West

    "IF" Kenji Johjima can find an easier way to communicate with his pitchers
    ... then the Seattle Mariners will win the AL West

    National League East"IF" the earth keeps revolving
    ... then the New York Mets will win the NL East

    National League Central
    " they can get help in the outfield or at the mound
    "IF" Busch Stadium can avoid further natural disasters
    ... then the St Louis Cardinals will win the NL Central

    "IF" Ken Griffey Jr. can get his mojo back
    "IF" Elizardo Ramirez is still making headlines in September
    ... the the Cincinnati Reds have a chance to win the NL Central

    National League West
    "IF" they can get Mike Piazza to show them how to go on a win streak
    ... then the San Diego Padres will win the NL West

    "IF" Bary Bonds is vindicated
    ... then the San Francisco Giants will win the NL West

    "IF" they keep up this "revival" approach for the rest of the season
    ... then the Colorado Rockies might win the NL West

    "IF" Jered Weaver can keep up this record breaking pace of wins/starts
    ... then the Los Angeles Dodgers will win the NL West


    The grass is greener across the pond

    AP-Luca BrunoI went on record saying Italy and Portugal were my two favourites going into the World Cup. As the tournament went on I was told to chose 1 by my friends so I went with Portugal but silently cheered for Italy as well. When Italy won their game I began dreaming about having my two favourite teams in the finals but that's all it was a dream. Zizou broke my heart as he converted on a penalty kick against Portugal in the first half of the semi-final game. Setting up a Italy v/s France final and this would mark the end of a few international careers. Zidane, DelPiero have decided to make this their last appearance on the world stage and things were set up for an exciting final.

    Exciting it was, as Zidane once again converted on a penalty kick early in the 1st half (questionable call... in my opinion) France was leading but it wasn't long before a brilliant free kick was converted into a goal as Materazzi's header found the back of the net halfway through the 1st half. The next hour was more of a defensive battle with both teams only getting a handful of chances but the two heroes of the day were not done. With just minutes left in extra time, Zidane was involved in some words with Italy's goal scorer and it is not yet known what was said but we do know that this caused the "header heard around the world". Out of nowhere he turned around to ram his head into the chest of the Italian player like a raging bull. This might be expected from an emotional Italian player but not from Zidane who has always displayed a level of poise on the field. On this afternoon Materazzi obviously got under his skin which led to an early exit from the game and a sad way to end his International career. The game went on to be decided by penalty kicks and the Italians emerged victorious (to my delight)

    After all that went down Zidane was awarded the "Golden Ball" as the player of the tournament which I felt should have gone to the Italian goalkeeper Bouffon. Overall the World Cup was as exciting as always and it was noted by me that the competition was very balanced creating for some major upsets in the earlier rounds as the Czech's went home before making it to the elimination rounds. Germany did a good job hosting the event and on a personal note I was glad I didn't have to listen to the coverage and broadcasting work done by ESPN. I do love the sport but after a whole month of watching soccer everyday I still cannot say that I will turn my TV on to GOLTV during the next 4 years and start following a league or team. So Until 2010 when I will hopefully make it to South Africa this is the last of the soccer talk on here.

    Another major tournament took place on the grass courts in England as Roger Federer defend his Wimbledon title for the 4th year running and Amelie Mauresmo emerged victorious on the women's side. Men's tennis hasn't been this exciting since the days of Boris Becker v/s Stefan Edberg and Sampras v/s Agassi. Federer v/s Nadal is becoming a staple as these two young'ns are on top of their game. Nadal won the French Open and has won most of his games against Federer but if the streak was going to be broken it was on grass where Federer remained king. Besides one or two hiccups along the way Federer controlled the game the entire time. Nadal is more exciting to watch as a sports fan as he wears his emotions on his sleeve but one cannot question Roger Federer's talent and determination. He was clearly the better player on this day and we can now look forward to the US Open.