It's the Friday roundup. At last, with the holidays just ahead. The cash registers should be ringing with gusto the next couple of days. But enough about Vernon Wells' house.
We're down to the final couple hours in the Christmas auction for a set of NBA guides, and Bob Brown is in the lead, turning this into his own Santa Claus tradition (or, as my grandson simply calls him, "Claus!"). Nobody's topped Bob's $175 bid yet. Window closes at 3:30 pm.
One last read. James Mirtle had a good post Tuesday on exactly what is a .500 NHL team now, and whether the traditional term even is relevant (check out the comments too, for a solid bit of discussion). What exactly does .500 mean in the new NHL, with its OT and shootout losses counting for points in the standing?:
It's a decent question to ask, especially given that, heading into tonight's games, 13 of the 15 Eastern Conference teams had at least as many wins as losses (thereby earning the designation of being 'at .500' or better.) The thing is, however, if everyone can hit that mark, it's certainly not as valuable as it used to be back when .500 teams were those bound for the playoffs.
One more last read. Mike Wilbon, one of the best around, on the raging Phoenix Suns, stop No. 1 on the Raptors' upcoming road trip on Tuesday:
Even as Mike D'Antoni experiments and tinkers, the Suns' importance to the league has grown as Shaq has gotten older, as Iverson and Kevin Garnett have been marginalized, as the Lakers try to rebuild around Kobe in the post-Shaq era, as LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony try to have as much success in the playoffs as they have on Madison Ave. The Suns, without an iconic player, might be the most important team in the league. And right now, as Riley suggested, they're playing like it.
No iconic player? Not even the reigning, two-time MVP?
|DON HEUPEL/ASSOCIATED PRESS|
|McCabe vs Briere: New NHL mismatch.|
One last e-mail. Rick Akin noted in the latest Leafs penalty stats posted here that Bryan McCabe was bringing up the rear in penalties/penalties drawn +/-, and decribing himself as a "Leaf fan, without the blinders," goes off some on Mr McCabe:
His usual playoff meltdowns notwithstanding, the guy is having a classic McCabelike year. He does have some pizazz on the Leaf PP, as he shoots the puck pretty well. But after that, where's the beef??
There is very little that this player does at a high level, except get paid. Now, I am not saying he isn't an NHL calibre defenceman - he just isn't a top NHL defenceman, or even close. The NHL is now a pretty fast league, and McCabe's slowness of foot is really exposing him for what he is.
Did the Leafs have to give this guy the big money? Maybe so, it can be argued, and I was one of those who said, albeit reluctantly, go ahead and sign him for the big dough. Hindsight being mighty good stuff, though, would suggest the Leafs should have spent the five mil' on someone else - a good D man, a good forward, or maybe a goaltender. Any number of those Leaf kids who play defence, and can skate in today's NHL, would have been a better dollar value, and maybe, just maybe, have contributed more to the Leaf cause than McCabe.
Hey, it isnt Bryan McCabe's fault that he is Bryan McCabe, and will struggle mightily with the wide-open style the league has adopted. But, he will be in Hogtown for five very long years, and by then even the masses who insist on wearing the blinders will be giving him the Larry Murphy treatment. Perhaps some of those jeers should be directed elsewhere.
One last alert. The World Fishing Network sent along this Christmas morning programming note: The Festive Fish Tank - "It’s for those who’d rather watch the hypnotic, relaxing beauty of an aquarium instead of a burning log," the release says. Commercial free!
One last retrospective. The history of the Air Force. The shoe, that is.
One last funny. McSweeney's pitches 12 Contract bonuses for fantasy baseball players, including this one for incoming Blue Jay Royce Clayton:
If he finishes the season with a batting average above .220, the Blue Jays pay him an extra $1 million. Finishing between .221 and .230 gets Royce a handicapped sticker on his car and the key to every bathroom in the city. If he does the impossible and hits above .231, Royce gets to choose any three people, players or citizens, to get beaned by B.J. Ryan fastballs.
Sports around town. The Sam Ashaolu Charity Prep Showcase goes at York Memorial tonight (6:30 pm start) and tomorrow (12:30 pm start), including plans for a ceremonial dunk by the Duquesne basketballer from Toronto who was shot in the head three months ago but continues to make a remarkable recovery.
Not watching. Ski School, Monday, 3:30 a.m., Moviepix. I recall stumbling across this early-90s bit of CanCon crap a while back and watching in grim fascination for maybe three minutes. It was all I could stand. Now there's a weekend assignment for you: what's the worst sports film ever made? Can you top Ski School?
No pooch punts today. Gotta get out of here and put off the Christmas shopping for another weekend.