Thursday, July 29, 2010

Quiet End For a Super Bowl Hero

Ralph Vacchiano tweeted this news. Here's the full story.

David Tyree has signed a one-day contract with the #NYG and will officially announce his retirement from the NFL tomorrow morning.

Now I wrote last year about how much Tyree means to me and that is just as true today. This picture still is the background of my Twitter page and will always be unless something drastic happens. Hell, there's a small chance I name my future son David Tyree Stewart. We all remember The Helmet Catch, but we tend to forget he was a great special teams player, a poor man's Steve Tasker. He also had another huge catch, scoring the touchdown that gave the Giants a 10-7 lead early in the fourth quarter of that Super Bowl. There hasn't been a more unsung hero in NFL history and the fact his career ends quietly, without another catch after his epic catch in Super Bowl XLII should only punctuate that point.

So this is goodbye, so let's honor him the right way with a YouTube tribute. This is from America's Game for the 2007 Giants.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Randomness That Doesn't Involve The Decision

The biggest sporting event of 2010 will take place today, when Spain and Netherlands will faceoff in the World Cup Final. The Dutch have quietly been the best team in the tournament, while the Spanish have hung around and reached the final. David Villa is the man I've found as the MVP of this tourney and the reason Spain is playing today. Prediction: Netherlands win 2-1 with Robin Van Persie scoring the winning goal.

The scariest story I've ever read, the Daily News reporting that Isiah Thomas could come back to the Knicks. If this was to happen, Isiah officially becomes the Freddy Kruger of sports. He killed the Knicks before, the lost draft pick this year was the sequel and a return would be in my mind, Nightmare on 33rd St III. News like this make me want to drink a Molotov cocktail.

Even worse, what does this mean for Rangers. Does Glen Sather ever leave? Did I just answer my own question?

The Ilya Kovalchuk saga continues in hiatus as almost no news has occurred since the Kings pulled out a second time. We're still waiting to see if he goes to the Devils, Kings, Russia or if there's another team out there (Rangers?) willing to make the move for the great scorer who doesn't play defense. Actually, he sounds like a fit for the Knicks. The Devils, according to Larry Brooks, have offered him 17 years/$100 million. That would be ridiculous and would in a way combine the bad contracts of Alexei Yashin and Rick DiPietro that the Islanders signed them to.

Two weeks until Mad Men is back on.

It's time to change the Home Run Derby. No longer do the top HR hitters participate and waters down the event. Everyone is scared of having a second half like Josh Hamilton had in 2008 which he didn't snap out of until this season. Robinson Cano was supposed to take part, but the Yankees told him not to do it and was replaced with Nick Swisher (so it's okay for Swish to do this?). He's the idea, make it either 6 or 8 contestants and the top two or three get to swing in the final and we go back to 5 outs in the final round. I don't know why they changed the final round to the full 10 outs, 5 was better and more dramatic. It's not that serious where a better HR hitter is really screwed out of victory.

Finally, it's a very sad day as longtime Yankees PA and NY Giants PA Bob Sheppard died at age 99. Let's find a place for him in heaven alongside John Facenda, Marty Glickman and Foster Hewitt, the voices of the NFL, NBA and NHL. Watch this tribute for the great man, the Voice of Yankee Stadium.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Welcome to Miami, Prince James

We just watched LeBron James announce he's joining Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami. He did so in a made-for-TV special that was as contrived as any reality show finale. The difference, of course being that instead on watching the end for many attention-hungry individuals, we had just one who felt it was okay to screw over his hometown team in the most cruel and public way possible. Here's basically how it happened. It's worse than The Fumble, Jose Mesa and The Shot. It's worse than Game 5 of the Celtics series, but it foreshadowed the fact that LeBron quit on Cleveland.

However, I don't want to harp on the this angle or the size of LeBron's ego to go about it this way. For that, read Gregg Doyel's piece, who writes what most of us are thinking. Most people say there's no way you compare him to Jordan, Russell, Bird or Magic. And each of them are right. In fact, now he must worry about competing with Scottie Pippen because he's officially a second banana.

By signing with Wade, James has told everyone that he isn't capable of being a guy you build around to win a title. He's Ewing, Malone, Nowitzki. Nothing wrong with that to be fair, except that each of those players had to settle for being lesser than superstars, whether they wanted to or not and none of those guys left their teams in their primes (includes Dirk for resigning) to make things easier. Dr. J had a span from 1976 (when he was sold to the Sixers) to 1982 where he lost some of his luster because his teams never won. What happened? He waited until Philly added Andrew Toney, and Moses Malone and the Sixers won in 1983. LeBron tonight decided, at the young age of 25 that he can't wait for the Cavs to build the right team.

Now, don't get me wrong, it was fine for LeBron to seek a better situation (not to be a dick and put this decision on TV in a self-serving way). Chicago was perfect, he had the perfect Robin in Derrick Rose, plus Joakim Noah as a relentless defender/rebounder and with Carlos Boozer signing there, LeBron fits like a glove and the Bulls become the favorites in the East, since they have the hig-end players and prerequisite role players you need to have to win (think Horry, Fisher). The Knicks added Amare Stoudemire and actually LeBron could have been the point guard or at least until they see if Chris Paul or Tony Parker comes in. The Nets and Clippers, well, are still the Nets and Clippers (despite the Russian billionaire). He goes anywhere, he's going toe-to-toe with Kobe, Durant, Howard, Wade/Bosh and the Celtics for next year. Instead, he chooses the easy way out and joins Wade/Bosh.

If LeBron was 30 or older, you can understand, the same way you understood why Kevin Garnett had to go the Boston. He spent 12 years in a city, at least in NBA circles, similar to Cleveland (cold weather, no prospect of signing players) and all Garnett did was play hard every game he played for them. He didn't ask out until the T-Wolves shopped him before the '07 Draft. He was screwed over by his management more than LeBron was, with the Joe Smith illegal signing and not taking care of Sprewell and Cassell after the '04 West Finals run. The team was toiling in obscurity and that was the perfect time to put ego aside and win a title. LeBron isn't there yet, he's 25 and should still be trying to beat the best, not join them.

LeBron is a franchise player, a guy you go to war with and have a chance to win a title. Look at the Cavs next season and try to tell me different. He should be competing with likes of Kobe, West, Kareem historically. Instead, it's now Pippen, McHale and Sam Jones for him. It's not a bad thing for Chris Bosh, who isn't a superstar to deal with, but it is for LeBron. It cheats us of watching an all-world talent try to see if he be discussed with Jordan or at least Kobe. He settled for deferring to Dwyane Wade. Oh sure, you're going to hear out of everyone's mouths that they are sharing the team and how this will be like the '08 Olympic Team. They'll be lying.

What happens in the first close game for Miami, who gets the ball. Likely Wade, because it's his team. Then, one of two things happens; either LeBron gets mad like Pippen did when Toni Kukoc took the last shot in Game 3 of the '94 Knicks-Bulls series or accepts it, making him a complementary player. No longer can he potential join Jordan, Magic or Kareem. No longer with Duncan, Kobe or Bird. Neither Olajuwon or Shaq. The best case I'll give you is that he's Elgin Baylor (superior athlete) to Jerry West (more clutch). As far as I'm concerned, LeBron James is fighting to beat out Pippen for best sidekick in NBA history (difficult unless LeBron wins multiple rings) which is a letdown for all our expectations from him.

He wanted us to refer to him as "King James". Kings don't become subjects to others, at least not willingly. Hence, I must agree with Skip Bayless, he will forever be Prince James to me.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

NHL Free Agency Day 1 Wrap-Up

I needed to finish off the analysis of a few more NHL moves before I go with an NBA review for tomorrow. Let's start with Anton Volchenkov going to the Devils for 6 years/$25.5 mil. The thing I like about this is the Devils have rebuilt their blueline despite losing Paul Martin. This is the best Devils defense with the additions of Volchenkov and Tallinder since Scott Stevens was still playing. That's also the thing I hate about this, considering it's the Devils. They also signed Johan Hedberg, who I think is overrated, but he can play about 15 games, giving Marty Brodeur more rest in a year.

The other big contract was Dan Hamhius, who signed a 6 year/$27 mil deal with the Canucks. Vancouver has addressed their blueline with this signing and the Keith Ballard trade. This means Willie Mitchell is gone (someone teams should look at if healthy) but the Canucks have 7 defensemen, all of whom are good. They also picked up Manny Malhotra with a 3 year/$7.5 mil deal as a third line center. It was killed by Pierre McGuire, who thinks prospect Cody Hodgson should ask to be traded. I must say, I think the Canucks are the early favorites to win the West with the moves made and no more excuses for Roberto Luongo, not with that blueline in front.

The Oilers signed Kurtis Foster to a 2 year/$3.6 mil deal, which should spell the end of Sheldon Souray's time in Edmonton. He's been linked through trade to the Rangers, who resigned Vinny Prospal to another 1 year deal for less than Boogaard's cap hit. Seems like the Rangers really felt that if they had beat the Flyers in the shootout, they would go to the Stanley Cup Final. They have to make another move soon.

The Hawks finally signed someone, in Josh Scott. That's after trading Andrew Ladd to the Thrashers as Stan Bowman looks to win repeat titles, one in Chicago and one in Atlanta. I like how the Thrashers have made their team better since the Kovalchuk trade. It's been very impressive and they should be a playoff team. Signing Chris Mason at $3.7 mil over 2 years only makes them even better.

The last moves of note: Matt Cullen goes by the Minnesota Wild for over $3 mil a year for three years and also add Eric Nystrom for three years as well. The Blues resign Alex Steen and they have plenty of cap room. I'd make a run at Kovalchuk if I were them. Saku Koviu is staying in Anaheim, but the fact Bobby Ryan didn't sign an offer of 5 years at $5 mil per is alarming. Two former Hawks have moved on as Adam Burish tries to create the combo with Steve Ott that Sean Avery spectacularly failed at in Dallas, while Colin Fraser left for the Oilers. Finally, Dustin Boyd and Jordan Leopold don't listen to phone calls from Darryl Sutter trying to bring them back to Calgary, and sign with Montreal and Buffalo respectively.

Even David Kahn is Laughing

And he just gave Darko Milicic a four year deal, which will lead to Al Jefferson being traded.

It started when the Flyers signed Jody Shelley to a three year/$1.1 million per deal. This says my reaction to the move. Shelley not only filled the void that Colton Orr left as the enforcer, which Donald Brashear never did, he exceeded him by showing ability as a all-around hockey player. The Rangers decided he wasn't worth that much.

It would have been defensible until they signed Derek Boogaard for 4 years/$1.65 per. Boogaard, who's while being one of the most intimidating enforcers, has no ability to do anything other than fight. The last four years, Boogaard hasn't scored a goal, so I guess if he scores once for the Rangers, this move worked. This was the worst contract given of the day because of the length more than the money, though the money sucks. And the entire hockey world was laughing.

Then, Darryl Sutter came in and stole the thunder, by bringing back Olli Jokinen. Yes, that Olli Jokinen. The same guy who's lost the shootout for the Rangers on the last day of the regular season, missing the playoffs and letting the Flyers go to the Stanley Cup Final. The same guy who was such a disaster in Calgary that they took on the remaining two years of Ales Kotalik's deal to get rid of him, when all they needed was to let his contract lapse. Yet, they sign him and Sutter supposedly said they should have never let him go in the first place, or something to that effect, which Darren Dreger of TSN reported on the air. It inspired this tweet from Dreger. It was laugh-out-loud funny to everyone in the hockey world and yours truly.

The question of course, which was the more ridiculous move, Boogey to the Rangers or Olli to the Flames. This one I will have to put as a new poll, already next to the LeBron poll. I'm curious how this poll turns out.

More NHL Signings

Plenty of moves happened that don't really deserve a stand alone post. Let's start with Antero Nittymaki going to the Sharks. Most of the reaction has been negative, but I think the Sharks are getting a steal with him. Let's face it, getting a top flight goalie didn't matter for either Cup participant, plus Nabokov was right to let leave and Marty Turco is to me buyer beware. If the Sharks get another top-4 D-man, Nittymaki will be fine.

Dan Ellis is headed to Tampa, another good move for Steve Yzerman. Ellis is a very capable goalie and I think give Mike Smith a run for his money to take his job. And at two years/$3, not a bad deal salary-wise as well.

The Leafs made their first move by signing Colby Armstrong to a three year/$9 million deal. He'll fit as either a bottom forward with some scoring or a top forward as Kessel-protection. Doesn't turn them into a playoff team.

The Penguins got their second defensemen, signing Paul Martin to a five year/$25 million deal. Martin will add to the Pens blueline as a smart, puck moving D-man. Still, the Pens haven't addressed their lack of wingers and I don't think they ever will in Ray Shero's tenure.

Derek Morris was resigned by the Coyotes which goes to show that Phoenix is the only place Morris is considered a valuable player. They also signed Ray Whitney to a two year/$6 million contract. I like the Whitney move since he hasn't really declined yet and will proven invaluable to a young team learning to win. The question for the Yotes, does this mean the end for Matt Lombardi?

The Buffalo Sabres lost a couple players, it's an annual tradition for them. Toni Lydman leaves for the Ducks, signing for a 3 years/$9 million deal. Meanwhile, Henrik Tallinder signs for 4 years at $3.375 per with the Devils as Paul Martin's replacement. His key role will be mentoring future Swedish defensemen the Devils have coming up. Stay tuned for more moves.

St. Louis resigns and Michalek to Pens

The best move of the day occurs in Tampa as they resign Martin St. Louis to a four year/$22.4 million extension. Great move by Yzerman, who keeps Marty for about half what they did for Vinny Lecavalier. He'll continue to help Steven Stamkos turn into perhaps the best player in the NHL in a few years. If not best, top 5 for sure.

The Penguins recovered from losing Sergei Gonchar and signed Zybnek Michalek to a five year/$20 million deal. Michalek appears to be the start as Dan Hamhius or Paul Martin are on the Pens radar. Good move as Michalek was a cheaper, but better version of Anton Volchenkov, the most overrated in the market. Z can shut players down and has some offensive upside. Stay tuned for more.

Gonchar to the Sens and more

The biggest signing of the first hour was Sergei Gonchar signing with the Ottawa Senators for 3 years/$5.5 mil per. According to Pierre LeBrun, the Pens would have signed him to that deal if he wasn't over 35. This means Volchenkov is definitely gone and now the Pens might be in on two defensemen. I think three years for Gonchar can work, but the first year must be good. If not, then it will be a bust. Remember, Gonchar gets hurt a lot, and that's why I was wary to sign him.

The Rangers resigned Erik Christensen to a two year deal just days after everyone in NY questioned his sanity for rejecting a deal. Looks like Christensen got a little more with about $975K/year. Good move by Rangers since any move that isn't a cap crippling move is a good thing. That's what its come to for the Glen Sather Era, don't f--- s--- up too much.

Also, Alex Tanguay is going back to Calgary for one year at $1.7 million. If he has anything left, this is the best place to see, with previous success. The big story for the Flames is a rumored Marc Savard-Robin Regehr trade. Both guys have no movement clauses, both solve issues for both teams (Flames need a playmaking center for Iginla, Bruins find a taker for Savard and get a good D-man for their trouble). Stay tuned.

Biron to the Rangers and more

Rangers made the first signing of the Free Agency period by signing Martin Biron to be Henrik Lundqvist's backup (I'd link the story, but almost every relevant NHL writer tweeted this move). The deal is for 2 yrs/$875,000 per. I must say, this move was expected and honestly, you can do a lot worse. Johan Hedberg is only good against the Rangers, so that move would have been a failure. Arturo Nittymaki and Dan Ellis probably wanted to have a chance to start and would of cost more. Biron works and should get about 20 games for the next two years.

The other big move before we started was Andrej Meszaros going from Tampa to Philly for a 2nd round pick. Tampa clears $4 million in cap room which Steve Yzerman can now use to sign a better defensemen or a goalie (Nabokov, perhaps?). Meanwhile, the Flyers keep adding defense, meaning it's Leighton's team next year.

First Deal of the Day

No, it's not a big name free agent or team, but Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that Drew Gooden agreed to a 5 year/$32 million deal with the Bucks. The Bucks have been looking for size, seeing as they drafted Larry Sanders and Keith Gallon. Fact is, we won't hear about Gooden again until his last year of the contract when his $6 mil/year salary would be a good expiring. This is immediately one of the worst 20 contracts in the league. But the Bucks won't be made or broken by this move, since no top player would ever sign there. The more I think about it, this move really is reminiscent to '01 when the Bucks signed Anthony Mason (a past-his-prime, out-of-shape Mason) and it completely derailed a Bucks team that went to the East Finals and led to Ray Allen being traded. Let's hope Gooden doesn't cause the same if you're a Bucks fan.