Wednesday, May 31, 2017

BM's Muddled Mindtrip:May 31st,2017

Five random thoughts from this very random sports blog that  I will share weekly.

1) "Tiger out in the Woods"

The rise and fall of Tiger Woods was well documented in the Winter of 2009 where his personal indiscretions made waves globally and basically from that point forward it was Eldrick's mission to garner back respect from so many that it had been lost through. Little did we know(okay perhaps some called his career trajectory to fall off a cliff) that his adulterous ways were just the beginning into this unfortunate chapter that forced him on the mend several times in way of chronic injuries.Let the record be shown that when it came to the mid two thousands Tiger/Phil debate,I was firmly on the side of lefty and to put it bluntly it hasn't upset me whatsoever that Tiger has fallen off the golfing scene,and that was before the arrest on Monday,May 29th for a DUI was made public.The fact of the matter is this,during his record breaking run he gave off vibes of sheer arrogance,as if to say he was bigger then the PGA Tour. Karma has came back to bite him in the you know what and I have a difficult time imagining he'll ever reach major prominence again.

2) "OHL skillset translatable to the 'Chell?"

The 2017 Memorial Cup has concluded which you would've thought may have hushed the critics who closely follow the Arizona Coyotes but quite to the contrary where Coyotes prospect Dylan Strome was handed the tournament's Most Valuable Player award.In lieu of this proceeding,Arizona faithful are now re-examining whether the right selection was made when in 2015 it chose Strome over the polarizing Maple Leaf phenom Mitch Marner,two OHL stalwarts. I've never been a huge proponent of Dylan as although I admit his skating has made great strides, when I compare it to the NHL level,even Marner, it's not comparable.While tensions from the aforementioned Coyote fanbase may ease in the immediate, I'll say I told you so right now that there will calls to send Strome down to the AHL within a couple years, not dissimilar to Curtis Lazar and Jake Virtanen. Great junior player capped of a marvelous junior career but let's not get ahead of ourselves.

3) "More the Merrier"

Kudos to Curling Canada this past week by making the executive decision by adding two additional teams into both it's men'sand women's "Road to the Roar" pre-trials event.After careful deliberation, it was determined that when weighing the closeness of the races for the respective genders that as opposed to denying the olympic dream to four deserving rinks, preventing what was originally going to be a tiebreaker amongst Briane Meilleur and Karla Thompson, this appeases the majority if not all the parties. However the interesting loophole with all of this pre-trials 'drama' is teams manipulating the system to retain a spot even though after this 2016-2017 season a couple teams publically declared disbandment only to conveniently do some roster tinkering to maintain eligibility.It's one thing to pursue the Olympic dream,  I can only imagine the satisfaction in that but I would hate to be those select teams who just missed out because teams you won't see play together on tour in 2017-2018 take  a crack at the Olympic can at their expense!

4)"No Jim Van Horne or Teresa Kruze"

Any child that grew up in the late eighties through the mid nineties would've been mesmorized by the sultry, transcendent voices of the likes of Jim Van Horne, Teresa Kruze,Gino Reda among many others on the iconic TSN Sportsdesk highlight shows.It's a random thought, well aware of that but the vintage Sportsdesk tapings shaped who I am  today as it began my evolution into the sports fanatic I've become. Those shows back in the earlier Sportscenter days were memorable for the simple fact that unlike the modern era we're not seeing thousands of permutations and combinations in relation to who's hosting the nightly shows. The bottom line, settling in with familiar duos will allow TSN's modern era, headlined by Kate Beirness and Nabil Karim to form unbreakable chemistry and allow the viewer to grow up with a known pair. It's what made Jay Onrait and Dan O'Toole so popular before there endeavour to Lbaos Angeles(glad they're back on Canadian airwaves in September) and what made the likes of the aforementioned Van Horne,Kruze,John Wells and so many other legendary broadcasters stalwarts on Canadian television.

5) "In hibernation"

I'll be the first to admit, I prognosticated a National Central repeat for the Chicago Cubs as a sheer inevitability. Fast forward to the completion of May 31st on the baseball calendar and shockingly the Cubbies find themselves at 25-27, good enough for third place in the division. So what's happened through the confines at Wrigley that's led to the sudden dehumanization of the once lovable losers? I have a couple theories. To begin with, although manager Joe Maddon is often celebrated for his innovative tactics, perhaps he's let his own convoluted mind get in the way of fielding the best possible lineup.  Baseball pendants credit Maddon for coming up with having the pitcher bat eighth which due to the copy cat society that we live in, many other managers have preceded to follow suit but to me this strategy only works when you have a competent swinging pitcher in the lineup. From a Cubs perspective it works when Kyle Hendricks and Jake Arrieta are on the hill as both can hold their own but when hurlers like Brett Anderson and John Lackey arrive at the dish,some would argue within the Chicago fan base that former Blue Jay Alfredo Griffin may be a preferable option(youtube Alfredo Griffin). Secondly, I respect the loyalty that Maddon has towards his disciples coming off the 2016 World Series triumph but at some point he has to start rewarding players for,  for a lack of a better phrase, who give a damn. Ironically enough Kyle Schwarber didn't play a prominent role in the Cubs attack until his late return against Cleveland in the World Series, yet is thrown  to the wolves daily hitting a concerning .174. If it's injury related then I would be willing to scale back the criticism as to why Javier Baez has been relegated to a secondary role. My biggest point of contention is that Albert Almora Jr and Baez aren't being thrust into more important assignments and Schwarber who hasn't shown the propensity to hit a beach ball can do no wrong. Favouritism much!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

BM's Muddled Mindtrip:May 24th,2017

Five random thoughts from this very random sports blog that  I will share weekly.

1)"PR over Performance"

From a very young age, Jordan Spieth was anointed as golf's "next one". Given the state of the PGA Tour, filled with parody, was this label a fair one? Not necessarily from my vantage point considering when you breakdown the game of Spieth, statistics will suggest that he doesn't excel in one particular category that knocks you out of your chair however it's the methodical, course management approach that has become his bread and butter but the reason this Texan came to the forefront was how he's been trending as of  late, of note in 2017 and whether buying his own press is affecting his own brand. Case in point his 2017 season where granted he's picked up a W at the historic Pebble Beach but has missed the cut three times, most recently missing consecutive cuts. In his hay day Tiger Woods wouldn't miss three cuts in three years let alone in two months. What I've been noticing is that when you tune in to a Spieth press conference, the common denominator is he continuously harps on patience and course management which as mentioned has become his calling card but to transition back into the Dustin Johnson and Jason Day category, he has to start to stop concerning himself with perception from media and fans alike and begin concentrating on the facets that will carry the twenty three year old to the winners circle more frequently.

2)"Mem Cup Dub Flub"

The Seattle Thunderbirds bowed out last night at the 2017 Mastercard Memorial Cup by going winless at 0-3. The early prognosis on the aforementioned outcome after perusing message boards was one of disgust. Here's the truth of the matter, if league commissioner Ron Robison had even the faintest hope of success for Western Hockey League champion Seattle Thunderbirds and for any future league winner then its about time he have a spirited conversation with CHL  head honcho David Branch about the trading practices in other leagues as with the way the Ontario and Quebec rosters construct the rosters comparatively to that of the WHL, it's next to impossible to compete in the modern day Memorial Cups. Take a  look at the Erie Otters and host Windsor Spitfires specifically and how in the year 2017 they were expending draft picks in 2025! It's re-assuring noting that some kid playing novice hockey just beginning to skate is being affected by these transactions. Expendng future assets to ensure not parting with anything or anyone in the immediate vicinity has zero consequence on these organizations and needs to be kiboshed immediately. By doing so, it'll put this great championship back on a level playing field.

3) "Maria Maria"

Controversy ensued this week as organizers of  tennis' Rogers Cup enabled Maria Sharapova with  a wildcard main draw entry  days after Roland Garros executives had just laid down the proverbial hammer by denying Maria an invitation to participate in the upcoming Grand Slam. The Roland Garros decision makers were lauded by fans and fellow players for determining that Sharapova should not be rewarded for her cheating behavior in which she tested positive for a banned substance that led to a year ban already so to throw this back on those who were adamantly opposed to Maria getting awarded main draw perks, has she not already served her time? In a long winded instagram post when the suspension was first announced,Maria illustrated repentance for her actions and admitted her mistake I can't help but feel she is unfairly being made the poster child and has become the victim of gender bias. Why is it that when greats such as Yankees pitcher Andy Pettite or Milwaukee Brewers star Ryan Braun commit similar infractions are they not ostracized from the powers to be in the sport but when Maria had tested positive she was egergiously condemned. The very same critics in the media roasting her have to be held accountable when citing similar examples and need to self-assess how they treated past incident which I can assure you are nowhere near as severe as what I'll classify as "Sharapova-gate"

4) "What's fair is fair"

Let me qualify this below rant by stressing that you won't find a bigger fan of TSN's James Duthie than myself but his opposition to the shootout for this past Sunday's IIHF World Championship gold medal final is counter productive for his network desperately trying to increase it's rankings. Listen, Duthie is a hockey purist and understandably any hockey purist won't appreciate a hockey game decided by a glorified skills competition HOWEVER for a casual fan of hockey and sport, the finality of a shootout becomes extremely exciting and I guarantee there were a few nine year old kids, after Sweden had claimed the gold medal over Canada that scurried out to the streets to re-enact their favourite players move.I know my nine year old self would've done this.As someone pointed out on radio this week, the World Cup of Soccer has long been notorious for having the shootout decide instant classics and you won't find a more popular event globally then the World Cup. The  message I'm attempting to get across is no, the shootout isn't "fair" but fair doesn't necessarily  always breed ratings.Excitement does.

5) "Medicine Hat Pats"

Have the Medicine Hat Tigers and Regina Pats ever become recurrent trading partners! From the October 2013 acquistion that brought Regina overager Boston Leier to Medicine Hat shipping in stalwarts Dryden Hunt and Kyle Burroughs for their 2014-2015 playoff push, the two sides engaged in yet another deal this time with Matt Bradley coming over to Regina to aid their 2018 Memorial Cup hosting push. By doing so, the Pats had to unfortunately say goodbye to former first round pick goaltender Jordan Hollett. Nothing against the 2015 Montreal Canadien selection  Bradley but my hope was and would've been that our most appealing trade chip in the eighteen year old Hollett would've netted more then a twenty year old in return. Pulling away from my thoughts on how this deal effects the on ice product, this deal was spearheaded primarily by Coach and GM's John Paddock's loyalty. The Leaderpost did a feature on the acquisition and in a quote from Paddock he indicated that in his exit meeting with Jordan he told the youngster that he would be playing next year and that he just couldn't guarantee that would be in Regina. Again, you can rightfully argue if enough was extracted for Jordan but with him being a good soldier, a two year backup, he did him right by ensuring he'll go somewhere where he'll see the crease. This type of operation bodes well for the future as any parents who may have reservations with sending their kid to the Western Hockey League will now have seen that this ownership group looks after their players and optimizes their potential by ensuring they're in the proper environment.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

BM's Muddled Mindtrip:May 17th,2017

This blog has been guilty of inconsistent entries and the  onus for that falls squarely on my shoulders.  I used to pride myself on endeavouring on essay pieces and while that will happen from time to time again,it donned upon me that there was a certain randomness that differentiated this sports blog from many others so it's important(in my opinion) that I encapsulated on that and as opposed to sticking to singular themes, to drive the passion and to maintain consistency I'm hellbent on publishing a weekly segment focused on five musings from the World of sports in no particular order or reason that I deem worth ranting about. As the avid readers of the blog are well aware, the Western Hockey League remains an entrenched passion of mine thus comprehensive coverage will be attempted to be continued throughout the season but as the "off-season" has begun compounded by my willingness to reinvigorate this enterprise, I thoroughly hope you'll enjoy what I'm choosing to title,"BM's Muddled Mindtrip" 

1) "Si woo-ing major titles"

It's happened. Many in the golfing industry we're hesitant to acknowledge this obvious ascertation in the yester-year but similarly to that of the LPGA tour,, the PGA Tour is in the midst of it's own "Asian invasion" and debate is rampant whether this is a good or bad thing for the tour.  The standard argument is that the language barrier hurts marketability amongst the majority of the Asian stars but that's flawed when surmising that global growth has skyrocketed and just take a look at the winners list of the last two years to understand that it takes a very naive individual to believe that golf is singularily America's game for it is now. Hideki Matsuyama may be labelled as the modern men's game pioneer and his two 2016-2017 PGA tour wins,four altogether validate that hypothesis but there is a particular twenty one year old Korean star by the name o Si Woo Kim that broke through at the 2017 Players Championship and assuming he can circumvent his required military duty) an immediate major title is in his vicinity. 

2) "Low of Oil"

Peter Chiarelli and coach Todd McClellan have rejuvenated the City of Champions pertaining to their professional hockey team but after bowing out in the seventh game of round two against the Anaheim "should be mighty" Ducks, critics out of Northern Alberta have since begun to chime in over the futures of Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Reports went so far to suggest that Jordan could be exposed to the Vegas Golden Knights which I chalk up as a ridiculous notion. The bias is certainly beaming through being as Jordan once shone for my hometown Regina Pats and for the record I haven't been the biggest fan of his play over the last calendar year but shame on those trying to tell me that he has negative value and couldn't bring back  B level defensive stalwart,I refuse to believe it.  Ladies and gentlemen, this is a player who tallied fifty one points often times getting relegated to third line duty.If you accept the fact that he'll never be a first line winger, topping out as  a complimentary second liner then a team looking for an upgrade at wing will reap the benefit. I predict that the Oil will wrongfully elect to hold on to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins while packaging out Eberle.Prediction is that by July 1st, Jordan will find himself alongside Noah Hanifin and the Carolina Hurricanes.

3) "Unwarranted loyalty"

A fascinating topic worth discussing is what is the proper way of handling loyalty for organizations that reign victorious is balancing loyalty versus grading performance. Case in point,Cubs lead off hitter and left fielder Kyle Schwarber. This  is as unique of a case as ever because while manager Joe Maddon rigthfully looks to reward the escapades from a year ago, Schwarber up until the World Series against the pitching deprived Cleveland Indians wasn't part of the picture as he was rehabbing an earlier suffered 2016 injury. The cold hard truth is that Kyle is hacking at a measly .187 pace, in other words not the type of statistics that a very innovative manager in Maddon would condone or stroke the ego of.  SIx home runs in one hundred and thirty nine plate appearances is respectable but perplexing at the same time for why he isn't being dropped down to a more power position in favour of a Kris Bryant or Addison Russell, who's on base percentages have greatly exceeded that of Kyle.I could never question the tactics of Maddon but perhaps it's time to take a page out of the book from Ned Yost where the 2015 champions have demoted once leadoff staple Alex Gordon to the nine slot.

4) "Cosmo Kramer"

When news broke that the City of Regina in partisan with "Soccer day in Saskatchewan" was announcing that Spanish soccer giant Valencia FC would rival the New York Cosmos in a friendly my first thought was the Valencia had agreed to play a power from the MLS. The false original presumption was that the Cosmo's were New York's,MLS organization but further research proved that the New York City FC were property of the MLS and the Cosmos were a member of the previously unheard of North American Soccer League. Second observation related to this is what is a team that lays claim to international superheroes in Nani and Rodrigo doing in the same galaxy against what would be the equivalent of a ECHL hockey team locking horns with the New York Islanders. My fear is, not a big enough fear to not attend as the announcement intrigued me is Valencia will use the friendly for developmental  purposes and field their "C" team. The closest that Nani and Rodrigo may come to Regina is the iconic "Hotel Regina" located in Milan.

5) "Lonzo lottery"

The NBA draft lottery is complete.The lottery capitvated me so much so that I failed to tune in but it was the aftermath that lured me back in  Any astute basketball fan knows that the Boston Celtics engaged in a trade with the Brooklyn Nets, perhaps in what will go down as the worst basketball transaction in history where, courtesy sent Kevin Garnett,Paul Pierce,Jason Terry and D.J White to Brooklyn in exchange for Gerald Wallace,Kris Humphries,Marshon Brooks and Keith Bogans and Kris Joseph ALONG with three first round picks, the last of which in 2017 ended up being first overall. This deal was conssumated in 2013,essentially around the time where the prime of the great Garnett and Pierce began to wind down. If this very deal transpired in 2003 I wouldn't even wink an eye but given the state of the current franchises, the soundbite given by then Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov is now legendary as at the time he stated" Today, the basketball gods smiled on the Nets". No Mikhal, that day you aided a now young juggernaut Celtics franchise. The embarrassment of riches the Celtics now have in the stable is borderline unfair. From Kelly Olynyk to Jae Crowder to Isiah Thomas, the proud Celtics project to be dominant for many years. The only caveat is it has created an interesting dillema for Celts management with what to do with the selection. Do they trade the pick to enhance the 2017-2018 regime? Do they pick Washington alum Point Guard Markelle Fultz pairing him up with another Huskie alum in Thomas OR do they do the inconceivable and welcome in Lonzo Ball and his nutcase father Lavar. The latter is very unlikely as knowing Lavar he'll probably demand they replace the statue in front of the Boston Gardens of Bobby Orr with one of his son.