Saturday, February 28, 2009

Your Hockey Brawl of the Week

Well, it's Saturday night and I got one last post for you suckas for the night. It's part of a new feature here on Hangar 39, The Hockey Brawl of the Week. The idea is to post up a famous or crazy line brawl from the NHL's past and present and post here for your amusement.

Our debut brawl is from the 1984 playoffs and its one of the most famous brawls in the history of the league: the Vendredi Saint(French for Good Friday)Brawl between the Quebec Nordiques (now the Colorado Avalanche)and the Montreal Canadiens.

Before I put the clip up, let me just provide a little backstory. The NHL in the 80s was the golden age of great rivalries. The league was a smaller place (21 clubs) so teams played each other more often and were able to develop some real animosity towards each other. You had the Battle of Alberta (Calgary vs. Edmonton), Montreal-Boston, Rangers-Islanders, Caps-Flyers, Chicago-St. Louis, among others. One of the nastiest in the first half of the decade was the Battle of Quebec between the Canadiens and Nordiques. The action was heated enough on the ice but throw in the completely insane French-Canadian fans and you get this, probably the signature moment of the rivalry. Pay attention to after the first part of the fight, how the PA announcer continues to read off the penalties, even as the teams start fighting again. Also keep an eye out for future Cap Dale Hunter doing Dale Hunter-like things. It has been said that the rivalry between these clubs died the minute Hunter was traded to DC.

Caps 4 Bruins 3 (OT)


That's all I can really say about today's match with the Boston Bruins. After watching today's game, as a Caps fan, I want to see these two teams lock up in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Caps and B's have played four times. All four games were decided by one goal, two of which went to overtime. The good news for the Caps is: they've won three of them.

What I love about the matchup between the Caps and B's is that these teams play games that have a great flow to them. These games have been tough, hard-nosed but clean hockey games. That's the key for me. There's none of the nonsense that happens when the Caps play, say, the Flyers or Penguins. There's no Scottie Upshall's out there taking dives and there's none of this ridiculous "Crosby-Ovechkin" hype. No, just well-played and smart hockey.

This game left me exhausted. Every time it looked like the Caps were going to take command of this thing, the B's would come back. To be honest, the game going to overtime really favored the Caps because 4 on 4, the Caps can ice a much better team than the Bruins. And because the overtime period came at a point when the Bruins had really started to dominate the game. They forced the Caps to take penalties and they forced Jose Theodore to make some very tough stops. That line with Marc Savard and Phil Kessel was all over the Caps D, especially at the end.

One thing I thought was odd was: for such a well-played game, its funny that the last three goals scored by both teams were flukey tallies. Tomas Fleischmann gave the Caps a 3-2 lead in the 3rd period with a goal that went off a defenceman's skate. Then, Zdeno Chara tied the game up again with a goal that Theodore should have stopped. And then Alex Semin ended the game with Don Cherry's patented Hardy Astrom Special: a 70-footer that trickled under goalie Tim Thomas's pads.

Game pucks for this one go to Semin (goal and an assist)and Theodore. Despite giving up a shaky goal to Chara, Theo kept the Caps in the game and made a number of huge stops, including a gorgeous kick save on Patrice Bergeron in the 2nd period. As for Semin, he was once again a force. He is clearly very comfortable working on a line with Sergei Fedorov and Brooks Laich and his shorthanded play has been a revelation. He plays very well on that side of the puck because teams have to worry about him stealing the puck and going the other way. If nothing else, selecting Semin allows me to use this picture again...

So with this win the Caps move within seven points of Boston for 1st spot in the Eastern Conference and stay two points ahead of New Jersey for 2nd spot. The Devils crushed the Caps opponent tomorrow, the Florida Panthers, 7-2. It will be interesting to see if there is a mental letdown tomorrow after such a hard-fought game today. A win tomorrow against the reeling Cats would all but lock up the Southeast Division for the Caps with 18 games to go. We'll see if Coach Bruce Boudreau puts Michal Neuvirth in goal tomorrow after Theo saw a lot of shots (37) today. But that discussion is for another day. Today we'll call more for the good guys.

Saturday links...

Hello and good morning my humble readership. Today I am coming to you LIVE from my mother's house where I'm spending my weekend making sure these two little terrors...

...don't cause too much mischief. Of course, their real purpose in life is to keep me awake at all hours of the night. They say a dog can hear a tick yawn at 50 yards (not my words, Sports Illustrated's) and I really wish that were not the case. These two dogs will bark at anything. They'll hear a squirrel moving around outside and start yapping. They'll hear the neighbors dogs and start yapping. They'll see a bird at the bird feeder in the backyard and start barking. I know what you're thinking. How bad can two little Yorkshire Terriers be? Well, if you value your sleep, as the Sam the Drummer told Dewey Cox, "you don't want no part of this shit!"

Anyway, on with the links, if you can dig it, SUCKAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!

-I don't always agree with everything Mike Preston says, but in both of these cases, Big Mike is absolutely right on. First off, Preston lets Ray Lewis have it for his disastrous attempt to create a market for himself. Then he gives a blog post about maybe the happiest man in Baltimore when Albert Haynesworth signed a $100 million deal with the Redskins: Haloti Ngata.

-O's lost their second exhibition game to the Marlins, 3-2. Japanese import Koji Uehara had a very solid two innings of work, holding Florida to no runs and one hit while striking out three of eight batters. In other news, Mark Hendrickson still sucks. Believe me, I know, I got a regular look at Hendrickson during his stint with the Dodgers in 2006. The only difference between him and Danys Baez (who I also got a good look at with the Dodgers before he signed with the O's) is that Hendrickson, thankfully, is only on a one-year deal.

-THE Towson University hoops team closes out its season tonight in Fairfax against George Mason. The game in prime-time on MASN at 8 p.m.

-The Tank over at the WaPo has all your info regarding today's Caps-Bruins game. The big news from the Boston side, per Tarik, is that two members of the Bruins top line, Milan Lucic and Marc Savard are questionable. For those not familiar with Lucic, here's a sampling of his work...

...Poor Matt Bradley may not want to remember this one...

Non-Sporting links:

-Icon vs. Icon has a link to an absolute MUST READ interview with the one, the only W. Axl Rose. Pretty much kills Slash and the old Gunners from beginning to end. Classic musings from either a musical genius or a certifiable madman.

-Much thanks to my fellow blogger, movie critic and fellow Towson Tiger, Greg "Snake" Maki, for the shout-out.

-Roger Ebert blogs about snarking. Very well-written (as if anything written by Rog wouldn't be) and kinda puts the whole function of blogs like Perez Hilton and Kissing Suzy Kolber (although I like KSK) into a different perspective.

-One more from Rog. Nobody does a bad movie review quite like Roger Ebert and these are two of my favorites. The first is for 2005's "Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo" and the other is for 1991's "Dice Rules"

-Finally, today's YouTube clip to swing your heavy metal hair to is from the old school, "Holy Wars...The Punishment Due" by Megadeth.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Ravens free agency notes...

Well, quite an adventure today on the Ravens free agency front. The purple and black was able to make one signing, bringing in cornerback (and former Maryland Terrapin) Domonique Foxworth on a 4-year $27.2 million deal.

My opinion: meh. Foxworth certainly fills a need at cornerback and he clears the way for Corey Ivy to hit the bricks. No complaints there, but if we lose Corey, who will replace his "let the guy make the catch 15 yards downfield, then tackle him" coverage style?

At the same time, Foxworth seems like another Fabian Washington, which isn't too bad, except for the fact we already have the actual Fabian Washington, a guy with good coverage skills and top-end speed but whose tackling could best be described as "boo-fooing." I guess what I'm saying is, to make a long story short (too late)as long as Foxworth can cover receivers better Corey Ivy and tackle better than Fabian Washington, we'll take him. But shouldn't you get more bang for $27 mil than that?

- Looks like Ray Lewis' efforts to create a market for his services didn't work out so good on Day 1 of free agency. This shouldn't be too surprising, since Ray tried to get himself out of Baltmo before, in 2005, and found there to be little market for him then. It was also little surprise that now he is telling his buddies over at the NFL Network that he is quite amenable to coming back to Harm City. Looks like he's finally figured out what a good many people in B-Mo already knew: there is only one team that has high demand for his services, one team that can pay him what he wants and only one team that will put up with shenanigans like this - the Ravens.

- Bart Scott is now a New York Jet after signing a 6-year $48 million deal. I have to say, I think Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome played this one brilliantly. He knew Scott, looking for his big payday, was going to the highest bidder. He had to know that the Jets were likely going to overpay and that there's no way Bart would be worth what the Jets were likely to pay. And while I think he was giving an earnest effort, I think in the back of Ozzie's mind he wanted to see how high the Jets were willing to go. And let me just say, having watched him his whole career, Bart Scott is NOT worth that much money. He's a good player who's spent his whole career playing in a great system. He's not Lawrence Taylor or Ray Lewis in his prime.

However, his departure will allow me to tell a story. Now, Bart was known as a loquacious (had to go to the thesaurus for that one)guy who loved to talk. This is the guy who once threatened to kill Hines Ward and once said after injuring Reggie Bush that he put some "hot sauce" on Mr. Kardashian's ankle.

So this year, I'm covering the last preseason game against Atlanta and I'm planning to do a story about the team's prospects in the season opener against the Bengals. So I talk to a couple different guys and have quotes from Coach Harbaugh, but I feel like I need one more quote. Lo and behold, there's Bart Scott sitting by himself. I figure Mr. Hot Sauce would be a good one to cap things off with, plus, I'd never really talked to him before, so I also wanted to see if I could establish a rapport for future quotes.

"Hey Bart, do you have a second for two quick questions?"

He looks up at me, annoyed, like I just told him somebody fucked his mother.

"Make it two QUICK ones."

I ask him a question on what the defense needs to do to have a successful game against the Bengals. It's a softball, and worse, I didn't ask it that well, but I figured he'd know where I was going, realize I was serving him up a meatball and then he'd hit it out of the park. Or at least give me a typical athlete cliche.

Nope, he looks at me like I have three heads and mumbles something that I can barely understand. I'm standing two feet from him. In my head I'm wondering, where's Hot Sauce? When did he go to the Willis McGahee School of Linguistics?

Ok, we got off to a bad start. Maybe he just swung and missed because I worded the question poorly. So I try to lob him another one about how the defense can bounce back after a tough year in 2007. Really, I'm not looking for much here. I ask the question a little better this time. I get the Bart scowl, with a bonus eye roll. And he once again mumbles an answer and I start trying to conceal my letdown.

Mercifully, I ended that interview and didn't go back to Bart the rest of the season. Mostly because after that interview I started reading stories saying the same thing I was thinking then: that he wasn't the 2006 Bart Scott anymore. Maybe it was the contract situation this year, maybe he was tired of pesky media guys looking to him for juicy nuggets, maybe it was because I didn't have a TV camera with me or maybe it was because he was an asshole. Whatever the case, me and Bart Scott didn't get off to a great start. But Bart, thanks for the memories. You've been a great Raven and even if you didn't provide me with a great interview, we'll always have this...

-Looks like Jason Brown is history. He signed with...the St. Louis Rams? Really Jason? Not sure I agree with Ozzie letting this guy get away. You spent all that time building up that young O-Line and now you let the best guy get away? Strange. But it's Oz, so I will assume he has a Plan B.

Ok, enough Ravens, I will go ahead and give some of this forum to the Redskins, who made a big splash by signing d-tackle Albert Haynesworth to a 7-year $100 million deal and re-upping cornerback DeAngelo Hall to a 6-year $55 million deal. To get the 'Skins perspective on things, I exchanged texts with comrade, 'Skins fan and attorney at law Patrick Thomas. Let's just put it out in the clear that Pat HATES the Ravens. This was our exchange of texts after the Ravens signed Foxworth, a fellow UMD alum.

Me: Looks like your boy Domonique Foxworth is going to be wearing purple and black this year.
Pat: I didn't know he was gay! Haha!

You get the point. Here now is our exchange regarding the Haynesworth and Hall signings, cleaned up from the original text-ese.

Me: You ready for your blogging debut? What do you think about Fat Albert signing on with the 'Skins?
Pat: I think the move was a good one on paper, given the need to upgrade the d-line and a guy like that makes the guys around him better. That being said, free agency has never proved to be a cure-all or recipe for prolonged success in the NFL. Ask me again in four years and my answer may be different. On paper they have more talent than they did yesterday but talent doesn't always win titles.

Me: So you're not worried that you just gave $100 million to a guy that's 340-lbs with a temper who's going to be spending summer training camp in the Mid-Atlantic where the temperature is 90 degrees every day?

Pat: There is always a risk of injury. Do you worry about Ngata's fat ass? Personally, I don't think anyone is worth $100 million but at least he's an elite player.

Me: How dare you insult Ngata Ngata the Slender!

But I see your point, at least Fat Albert is one of the top d-tackles in the league. What about giving you boy MeAngelo Hall $55 million?
Pat: He was their best CB last year. He got interceptions. He's a Pro Bowl player. Sure, it's a lot of cash but he is a very good corner and Haynesworth should make him and the secondary better by helping to generate a pass rush. Then again, maybe they'll be 3-13 again and it will all be for naught.

Me: Maybe. That's an awful lot of money to give out for a guy who bombed with the Raiders. Do you realize within the same calendar year, DeAngelo has inked a $70 million deal with the Raiders and a $55 million deal with the 'Skins? That's insane.
Pat: Al Davis is retarded.

Me: From DeAngelo's Wikipedia page, he got $24.5 mil in guaranteed money from the Raiders and $23 mil from the 'Skins. It also says, "he failed to adopt to the Raiders man-to-man style of defense & was regularly beaten by opposition receivers during the opening half of the season." Just the sort of guy I'd want to give $55 mil.

Pat: He was playing for the Raiders. They are horrible.

Me: True. Just planting seeds, that's all. Hell, we just signed Foxworth who's Fabian Washington II. At least it hopefully means no more Corey Ivy. So who else do you think the 'Skins should go after?
Pat: They are looking at Derrick Dockery, who they originally drafted. I'd like for him to come back (Dockery signed with Washington after this exchange). I think the focus has to be on the offensive line. They have pretty good depth on the d-line. Maybe draft a linebacker, running back or tackle.

And...scene. That is all for tonight but I'll be back tomorrow with some links and a recap of the big Caps-Bruins tilt from the afternoon. Hasta Manana, don't get any on ya.

Sports Guy story/Yet another hockey rant

I've never posted an NBA link on here before and don't have much urge to start. But in this case I'll make an exception. Bill Simmons has a column about the NBA's financial woes and where it may lead. It's extremely well-researched and well-written but I must say I took umbrage with one little item...

"Looking at the big picture, the league won't struggle even 1/10th as much as the NHL in years to come -- of all the wildest predictions I heard in Phoenix, the craziest came from a connected executive who predicted that fifteen NHL teams would go under within the next two years (and was dead serious)"

Now, I must say up until I got to this aforementioned sentence, my reaction to this piece was "NHL ain't looking like such a bad option, is it ESPN?" After all, as a Caps fan, I've been stunned by the hockey renaissance in DC. I know I linked to it once already but this Dan Steinberg piece warrants mentioning again. Similar situations have cropped up in Pittsburgh (who were finally able to secure a new arena deal thanks in part to the buzz of getting Sidney Crosby), Boston and Chicago, plus the league has always been near or at the top of the sports heap in places like Detroit, Philadelphia, New York (for the Rangers), Minnesota and the Canadian cities (Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary).

So it got me thinking, who are the 15 that he's talking about? Is this Simmons, who along with his employer has a history of this sort of thing, taking shots across hockey's bow again? I emailed the Sports Feller to find out so we'll see if I get a response.

As far as I know, in my limited knowledge of the topic, there are at least six franchises that are in serious trouble. The Phoenix Coyotes, whose financial troubles are well documented. Ditto for the Nashville Predators. Florida, Atlanta and Tampa Bay are all towards the bottom in attendance. Throw in the New York Islanders, who are owned by lunatic and have had serious arena problems for over a decade now. So you have six teams. If you want to include New Jersey, who have had attendance problems - again - you can. That's seven, about half the number the Sports Guy is saying.

Now, other than the Devils and Islanders, what do all these teams have in common? They are all teams in the Sun Belt. In the southeast, where by the time the season starts, the temperature is hovering around 85-90 degrees. They are places where Prince Gary Bettman should not have expanded or allowed hockey to go. They are, other than Phoenix, expansion franchises that Bettman added when the league was desperate for cash flow. No disrespect to the fine fans of the 'Yotes, Bolts, Panthers, Thrash and Preds, but Nashville, Phoenix, Miami, Tampa and Atlanta are NOT hockey cities. They just aren't. I don't know much about a lot of things, and I maybe don't have a real valid argument, but having watched and played the game for over 20 years, I know a place that can support hockey when I see it. These cities have as much right to be hockey cities as Lewes, Delaware and Linkwood, Maryland. They don't pass the Eye Test. You know why? Because, other than mayyybe Nashville, it never gets fucking cold in those places!!!! Hockey is not meant to be played in a place called "Sunrise." Nobody in Miami sees ice unless its at a Panthers game or in their mojitos.

The point is, yes, the NHL does have its share of problems, as this apocolyptic Toronto Sun column points out. (and identifies the seven franchises that I just did off the top of my head. Damn, I'm smooth). But is it really that bad? Especially considering that EVERYONE is hurting these days: sports leagues, Wall Street, newspapers, you name it. And is the fact that the Sun Belt franchises are doing poorly (especially when their teams are towards the bottom of the standings) really news? Ok, I will now step down from the soap box.

Friday lazy links..

Hello to all out there, you cheeky bastards. I'll have a couple of posts later today, the first will be getting a Redskins fans' take on the signings of Albert Haynesworth and DeAngelo Hall and the second will be related to my babysitting of two small dogs. I'm sure you're waiting with baited breath. Until then, here are your links...SUCKAAAASSS!!!

-Here's the lowdown on last night's Caps win from from Japer's and the Tank.

-The Orioles won their first exhibition game of the season, 11-3 over the St.Louis Cardinals. The Sun has the details.

-Another O's story, this one about new shortstop Cesar Izturis. He may not be able to hit a lick, but there's not a chance he's any worse than Freddy Bynum or Alex Cintron.

-Free agency has begun in the NFL and Bart Scott, Ray Lewis, Jason Brown and Jim Leonhard are all out there for the Cowboys and Redskins to overpay for. I love Ozzie and I trust him, but how in the world could he not get a deal done with ANY of these guys before they hit the market?

-From last night's Caps game, my new Facebook friend Donald Brashear vs. Eric Boulton.

Non-sporting links:

-Icon vs. Icon has some info about Kiss, who are going into the studio to record their new album "The Search For More Money."

-More from the Icon regrding DMX beating up a prison guard. Nice to see that life behind bars has changed him.

-Finally, today's YouTube clip to swing your heavy metal hair to is "Let Me Give You A Hand Throwing Yourself Out" by Killwhitneydead. One of the most violent music videos ever made.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Caps 4 Thrashers 3

A bounce-back win for the Caps tonight, if not a fairly up and down one. The Caps were dominant for most of the match, punctuated by a few brainfarts that turned a game they should have won handily into a one-goal game.

It looked like this one would be a laugher early. Just like Tuesday night's game with Philadelphia, the Caps jumped out to a 2-0 lead on power play goals by Alex Semin and Brooks Laich. But much like Tuesday, the opposition goalie (Kari Lehtonen in this case) settled in and the Thrash were able to get a power play goal of their own by Ilya Kovalchuk after a foolish roughing penalty by Alex Ovechkin (yes, Ovie was mad after the Thrash got away with a high stick, still no excuse to lose your mind and put the team shorthanded.) The defense had two breakdowns and both led to Atlanta goals.

Nonetheless, the Caps were able to take complete command of this sucker after Eric Fehr got his 10th goal, showing some stick-to-itive-ness on a blocked shot and dribbling one by Lehtonen. Mike Green got his 9th goal of the month, 23rd of the season and 15th on the power play. Greener also had an adventure of a shift in the 3rd period: He had a bad giveaway at the blue line, hustled back into his own end and absolutely creamed Colin Stuart with as good an open ice hit as you will see. I think I am starting to believe the Norris hype a little bit.

Michal Neuvirth played well in his second start, although, other than the two breakaways and Kovalchuk's power play goal into an empty net (set up by a pretty piece of passing by the Thrash) the Caps D did a good job of limiting the shots. Neuvirth did a good job of staying in front of the shoots he did see. I'm starting to think Bruce Boudreau should give the kid a few more starts, if for no other reason than the fact that the defense seems to protect him a little more than Jose Theodore. The Caps limited the Thrash to just 24 shots on goal.

However, the star of the game was Alex Semin. The guy flat out terrorized Lehtonen and the Thrashers D all night, going to the net, utilizing his superior puck handling ability and lightning quick release to create quality scoring chances. Semin finished with a goal and two assists. A motivated, hard-working Semin, like the one we saw tonight, can be absolutely lethal. Now if only we could get him to not look so tool-ish in his glamour shots...
Now we shall see how the Caps get up for the challenge of this weekend, with back-to-back games in Boston and home vs Florida. Jose Theodore should be back in net against Boston but I'd like to see Neuvirth against Florida. Since its two afternoon games, important afternoon games, Theo will probably be in net for both but I hope Coach Boudreau sees the difference in the team defense when the kid is in there and lets him play a few more games leading up to the playoffs.

So until Saturday, let's chalk up one more...for the good guys.

Metal Albums I Am Addicted To

This is a quick little item that I'm going to try to make a regular feature here at Hangar 39, because if there is anything I like more than some Caps, Ravens and O's, its some goddamn heavy metal music. So since I now have the space to do it, I'm going to give a short synopsis on why I love this particular record that will hopefully encourage you to get it. (if you don't own it already)

Today's record is....

"The Blackening" by Machine Head

To say this record is epic almost does it a disservice. There are two songs over 10 minutes long, two songs over nine minutes long and not one of the 8 songs on there is less than four and a half minutes. The thing is, its never boring. It doesn't lull for one minute, if its possible to do that for such lengthy songs. The guitars shred viciously right from the 10-minute opener "Clinching The Fists Of Dissent." Throw in Robb Flynn's scream of "GOOOOOOOO!!!!" and the record commences kicking your ass.

It's hard to pick one track that stands out because the whole album is great as a whole, something you don't see much anymore. You don't need to fret about skipping tracks. Just put this puppy on and let it rock. From the fist-pumping "Clinching" to the almost pretty "Halo" to the epic "A Farewell to Arms," this album has it all. If I was to choose at gunpoint which tracks are my favorites though, I'd go with "Aesthetics of Hate," maybe the angriest song ever recorded or "Wolves," which I'd want as my theme music if I ever became a pro wrestler, with Flynn screaming "UNLEASH THE WOLLLLLVES!!!" in the intro.

By all means check this shit out if you are looking for some ass-kicking guitar riffs, screaming vocals and thoughtful vocals as Flynn tackles issues such as war, death and religion. This shit fucking rocks.

Thursday's lazy links...

Can you dig it? SUCKAAAAAAA!!!!

-Since I've been such a Nancy Negative lately, here's some positive news to start the day, THE Towson University took home a 75-74 win last night over Delaware in men's hoops. On Senior Night no less. Hoo-rah!

-Some more positive news from the B-Mo Sun. It appears the Ravens and LB Bart Scott are close to a deal. Ozzie says, "We're making progress," on a deal with Ray Lewis. That could mean just about anything but certainly being close to a deal with Scott serves as a fall-back option in case Ray Lew flies the coop.

-Jamison has the lowdown on this year's free agent class. To say it's underwhelming is an understatement.

-Excellent work from Wyshynski over at Puck Daddy regarding the Caps new all-female fan club, Club Scarlet. Funny thing about those "beefcake" style photos of the Caps. Besides the fact they show them on the video board at the Phone Booth, I've noticed that several of them (I know Michael Nylander is one) are wearing the same leather jacket. Did the team only have enough money in the budget for one leather jacket? And does noticing this make me gay? Not that there is anything wrong with that.

-Not a good start for the O's in their exhibition opener as they fall 9-3 to the Mets.

-Hoo-rah Part II: Viktor Kozlov is expected to be back in the lineup tonight against Atlanta.

-Nice work from the WaPo on the current popularity of the Caps. Is it bandwagoneering? Sure, a little bit. Many of these folks that are coming aboard wouldn't know John Druce if he walked up and introduced himself. Or why he holds a special place in the sub-cockel region of every longtime Caps fan.

Nonetheless, the more people that get into hockey, and hopefully stay hockey fans, the merrier for me. Lord knows we have enough freaking basketball out there.

Non-sporting links:

-Do you love your guns? God? The Government? Fuck yeah! Three points to whoever can guess where that reference comes from.

-Anytime people are attacking "Comedian" Rush Limbaugh (I didn't think of the name, Keith Olbermann did), I'm a happy guy.

-Finally, our YouTube clip to swing your heavy metal hair to is one the coolest, yet eeriest clips I've ever seen, "Eyes of the Insane" by Slayer.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Kevin Hatcher All-Stars

Since I am now in love with lists these days (and really, who doesn’t love lists? They’re as lazy a crutch for a writer as posting other people’s shit as links. Whoops.) I’m going to put together another. I mentioned in a previous Caps recap about the “Kevin Hatcher All Stars,” or my least favorite Caps. Doing a list of my favorite Caps is easy. Hell, just now I could rattle off some of my favs that come to mind right off the jump:

Alex Ovechkin
Al Iafrate
Geoff Courtnall
Dino Ciccarelli
Peter Bondra
Scott Stevens
Alan May
Donald Brashear
Stephen Peat (who I used to record an astounding 700+ penalty minutes with in NHL ‘04)

And so on. Anyway, I’d mentioned my least favorite Caps and it got me thinking, who would I put on such a list? What would be the criteria? Well, for one, it would have to be guys who weren’t just bad to mediocre players. In other words, I couldn’t have a list full of Rob Zettler’s, Josef Boumedienne’s, John Tucker‘s, and Joel Kwiatkowski’s. After all, if you have a guy that could be considered least valuable, he had to at least be a regular and not just a regular but a guy that got significant ice time. Of course there are also personal reasons. Obviously, since this list is subjective and my opinion. So if you have any suggestions, feel free to comment or share a thought. I decided to select a standard line of 6 guys, one goalie, two defenceman and three forwards. Ok, enough talk, one with the list.

G-Don Beaupre- Beaupre wasn’t a bad goaltender. In fact, he was twice an All-Star (one with Minnesota, one with the Caps) and is #2 in franchise history in wins. No, the problem with Beaupre was that he was emblematic of the David Poile Era Caps. Good enough to win a lot of regular season games, not good enough to win the Stanley Cup.

The main reason I selected Beaupre though was because it will allow me to tell the following story. Then-Caps General Manager David Poile’s son used to play for Bowie in the old Capital Beltway Hockey League and when they came to Easton, the Caps had an off-day so Poile came to watch his son play. So Poile’s off standing by himself and just watching the game.
Me and my buddy Paul, our goaltender, both fancied ourselves general managers by the age of 13. We used to have fantasy-style drafts where we would pick guys from all over the league and compare rosters and fight over who had the best squad (He ALWAYS picked Ron Hextall, his favorite player, first. I ALWAYS picked Cam Neely, my favorite player, first). We also used to work out our own trade scenarios. They usually involved me either 1) giving up half the Caps roster for Neely or 2) doing some lopsided NHL ‘93 style trade for Neely. Like say, trading Mike Lalor and a 5th round pick to Boston for Neely. Hey, Boston could use some help on the backline. Suffice to say, girls had not yet entered the picture for us yet.
In any case, our team was following Poile’s kid’s team, so me and Paul worked up the guts to go up to David Poile and give him advice on trades. We go up to Poile, say hello and then right off the bat, Paul tells him he should trade Beaupre. Poile gives him a look that’s a mix of amusement and disdain and mumbles something like, “He’s doing pretty good now,” and walks off.

D - Kevin Hatcher - What? You didn’t think I’d have a team called the Kevin Hatcher All-Stars and not have the actual Kevin Hatcher.

Let me preface this rant by saying this: I know being a hater is all part of the blogger pose. I am sure Kevin Hatcher is a very nice man who was and is much better at the game of hockey than I’ll ever be. That being said…
I cannot think of a Cap I disliked more than Hatcher. He was a maddening player, a big man (6’3 220 lbs) who played a small man’s game. I don’t know where I started to not like Hatcher’s style of play. Early in his career, he was a force at both ends, a physical player who could score goals. But somewhere along the way, he stopped playing physical and played like a guy who had just seen a rattlesnake. My thought always was that the worst thing that happened to his career was scoring 34 goals in ‘92-’93. From that point on I think, in his mind, he thought he had to be a goal scorer at the expense of his physical game. Maybe it was the fact that by ’93-’94 he was putting pressure on himself to score goals because Poile would never acquire the sniping winger the club needed to take the next step. Maybe it was that after his 34-goal season, the club named him captain and he felt pressure that way. Or he developed bad habits along the way. Maybe he didn’t look as good because he didn’t have either Scott Stevens or Rod Langway back there to cover up for him.
Whatever the case, the fans quickly turned on him and started giving him the Larry Murphy “woop-woop-woop” treatment and that made him play even worse. By the end of his Caps tenure and mercifully, for us and for him, he was shipped to Dallas for Mark Tinordi.

D - Phil Housley - This was a hard spot to fill. Other than Hatcher, I couldn’t think of another d-man I actively disliked.

Larry Murphy was an option, but he did provide one of (if not the) most famous assists in team history. Sure, he was mercifully heckled because, physicality-wise, he made Hatcher look like Ray Lewis, but that was never his game anyway.

I was actually never a huge fan of Langway (too young to remember his Norris Trophy days). But without him there wouldn’t be a Washington Capitals.

For those with really long memories, I was tempted to put Chris Felix on here. For anyone that remembers him, Felix was part of Poile’s fabled “farm system.” He also had an awesome porn star mustache. My memory of Felix was being about 13 years old and going to a Baltimore Skipjacks game (they were the Caps minor league affiliate at the time) and hearing some guy yell “You suck Felix!” for about two and a half hours.

Jason Doig was tempting for his brain fart against Tampa Bay in the 2003 playoffs.

But no, I’m going with Housley, a guy with Hall-of-Fame numbers who came here towards the end of his career. Besides wearing one of those really hideous JOFA helmets, Housley was a complete liability defensively. He was so bad back there, in Game 2 of the 1998 Stanley Cup Finals, in an overtime game no less, Coach Ron Wilson glued his ass to the bench and went with 4 defensemen. While his memories with the Caps weren’t anything to write home about, I should say that, in his prime, Housley was Mike Green before Mike Green.

F-Kevin Miller - Kelly and Kip’s brother is on here for one reason: he was the guy who came over here in return for one of my favorite Caps, Dino Ciccarelli. Trading Dino for Miller is, to me, the worst trade Poile ever made.

There were circumstances behind it for sure. After the 1990 playoffs, four Caps - Dino, Scott Stevens, Geoff Courtnall and Neil Sheehy - were accused of sexual misconduct with a girl in a limo. All four were quickly jettisoned in one way or another - Sheehy was let go, Stevens was allowed to walk to St. Louis for five 1st round picks, Courtnall was traded to St. Louis for Mike Lalor and Peter Zezel and Dino was moved to Detroit for Miller.
As a teenage punk who didn’t know shit about anything, I hated the Dino trade. Kevin Miller? Dino was a 40-goal scorer with a mean streak who the fans absolutely loved, something that does not come along often. And all we get for him is Kevin Freaking Miller?

F - Jaromir Jagr - The would-be savior. The man who was going to put fannies in the seats and make fans care about the Caps. The man who was going to lead the Caps to glory. Um, nah.

Instead Yammy became known for his massive contract (7 years $77 million), feuds with then-Coach Bruce Cassidy, a host of off-ice problems and the fact that he couldn’t get the Caps out of the first round of the playoffs.
Funny thing is, since the rise of Ovechkin, do most people even remember that he even played in D.C.? He seemed out of place when he played for the Caps anyway. Seeing Jagr in a Caps uniform was like seeing James Hetfield fronting U2, sure it was the same guy, but the chemistry was all off. He was always going to be known as a Pittsburgh Penguin and for his fun-tabulous mullet.

F- Michal Pivonka - Finally we have Pivonka, who was a productive enough player during his long career with the Caps. But much like Beaupre, he was emblematic of the playoff failures of the David Poile Era. Pivo was a decent player, but when he was your leading scorer, you weren’t going very far. Actually, now that I think of it, Pivonka was a Michael Nylander-type: he could pass and pile up points over 82 regular season games but once the shootin’ started, so to speak, you knew Pivonka wasn’t going scare anybody.

So there you have it, the Kevin Hatcher All-Stars. I hope you are as thoroughly depressed as I am thinking about these guys. Anyone with suggestions, have at it.

Lazy links...

Here are some links to tide over the few, the proud, the Hangar 39 readership. I'll be back tonight with at least one new long-form post. Time will dictate if there is a second. If you can dig it...SUCKAAAAA!!!!

Lots of stuff from the Baltmo Sun today regarding the O's and Ravens.

-First up, is a story from Jeff Zrebiec on the O's left field situation with newcomers Felix Pie and Ryan Freel and holdover Luke Scott. I think O's manager Dave Trembley will be able to manage all these guys, giving Scott the bulk of the DH work while throwing him the occasional bone in left field. Freel will face left handed pitching and can play anywhere on the field except pitcher and catcher. You know management will want to see what Pie can do out there, so barring injury, he's going to get his chance. As a side note, how many headlines like this can we expect this year given the English pronunciation of Pie's (pronounced Pee-yay) surname?

-Zrebiec and the Schmucker have the story of another new face, pitcher Rich Hill. Hill, much like Pie, is another low-risk, high reward guy the O's got from the Cubs. He won a bunch of games for Chicago in 2007 before losing it last year. If he bounces back, he could give the O's a competent 3rd starter, something they haven't had since the halcyon days of Jimmy Key.

-Another one from the Schmucker about the optimism in O's camp this year.

-Jamison Hensley has the scoop about Ravens center Jason Brown, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent. Brown is looking to be paid like a guard (where he played in 2006 & 2007) while the Ravens want to pay him as a center. Oh boy. Personally, I wonder why Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome decided to use the franchise tag on Terrell Suggs and not Brown. I know he didn't want to risk Sizzle going onto the open market, but if you locked him up first and then franchised Brown, you would have to pay Brown a whole lot less than you're going to pay Sizz.
As a sidenote, I hope the Ravens are able to get Jason signed. He was the first Raven I ever interviewed for the Cape Gazette and I've always found him to be one of the nicest, quotable and most-accessible of Ravens along with Derrick Mason and Haloti Ngata.

-Recaps from last night's Caps game by Japer's and Tarik.

-Another one from the WaPo (Katie Carrera this time) about Nicklas Backstrom's unheralded play this year.

Non-sports links:

-Icon vs Icon has the details on this year's Crue Fest.

-Rejoice fellas, Megan Fox is back on the market. What the hell was she doing with Brian Austin Green anyway? (link found via The Big Lead & US Weekly)

-Music is causing teens to have sex. Really?We're breaking out this old hat again? Funny, when I was a kid I listened to Axl Rose sing about his serpentine and tell a woman to "Back Off Bitch," and yet I never had the urge to try any degrading sexual practices. Nobody I ever knew as a teenager ever had the urge to try them out after hearing Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg sing about "Deez Nutz." Maybe we were different? Or maybe kids today are just fucking stupid, did we ever think about that?

Finally, today's YouTube clip to swing your heavy metal hair to is "Taking The World By Storm" by Kataklysm...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Flyers 4 Caps 2

Ugh. That's about all I can say about tonight's game with the Philadelphia Flyers. Just a frustrating game all around. The Caps had plenty of chances but did themselves in with penalties and missed opportunities.

Oh, the missed opportunities in this game. Nicklas Backstrom hit the post on a breakaway. Sergei Fedorov was foiled by a nice defensive play by Flyers D-man Randy Jones on a 2 on 1. Dave Steckel missed the net on a breakaway. Brooks Laich was stopped by Flyers goalie Antero Nittymaki on another breakaway. Mike Green had one of his textbook backdoor plays and he was gunning for the top shelf, as he always does. Only this time he missed the net.

With all the missed chances, combined with another rash of minor penalties and you just knew the Caps were not going to get away with this one. A good team like Philadelphia will not let you get away with it. Sure enough, down 2-0, the Flyers started the comeback during a 5 on 3, a perfect tic-tac-toe passing play. By the time the 3rd period rolled around, Jose Theodore had played well but you could just sense things weren't right. Sure enough, Scott Hartnell ripped a shot over Theo's glove and the dam broke. The Flyers scored two more in rapid succession and the, until that point, mostly quiet Philly fans could be heard quite loudly at the Phone Booth.

I must say that I worry about a Philly matchup in the playoffs. This is the one team in the Eastern Conference that has had the Caps number. The Flyers have a style that works against the Caps: force the Caps to attack down the middle and then counter attack. Tonight was even more disturbing because Philly didn't have Kimmo Timonen, who for my money plays the best defense against Alex Ovechkin out of anybody in the league.

Much like the Pittsburgh game on Sunday, the Caps held a parade of guys heading to the penalty box. And while the penalty kill played very well under the circumstances, they were out there entirely too long, especially in the 2nd period. Some of the penalties were very fishy, such as the "roughing" call on Theo towards the end of the 2nd. It was a wishy-washy, ticky-tack kind of foul, although the real disgraceful part was watching big, tough (sarcasm alert)Scott Hartnell, who was challenging Donald Brashear earlier in the game, lay there on the ice like somebody stabbed him in the chest. Other penalties were flat out stupid, like John Erskine spearing Scottie Upshall in the groin. It was not only dumb because it occured after the whistle, in full view of the ref, but also because it was Upshall, who has a reputation for theatrics, shall we say. When the Caps last saw Upshall, he was flopping all over the ice like a fish during the Caps-Flyers playoff series last year.

Probably the best thing that can happen for the Caps though is that they get to come right back out on Thursday night against Atlanta. Any athlete will tell you after a heart-breaking loss like that, you just want to get back out there again. The only question is, will the team be able to summon up the intensity one more time after two playoff-style games against their two biggest rivals. My hunch is Michal Neuvirth will give Theo a rest on Thursday to have him ready for Saturday afternoon in Boston. The Caps have a good habit of bouncing back after tough losses and facing a Southeast Division opponent like Atlanta, should give them enough to come out with a better effort.

So until the Thrash come to town, let's say good night to da bad guys...

12 Worst Orioles of the last 12 years (+2)

Ed note: I would have put more links in this one but I'm also working on a writeup of tonight's Caps game so this one is going strictly off memory. Anybody that wants to fact-check this thing and point out my errors, have at it.

When you’ve been as bad as the Orioles have been the last 12 years, you don’t get there without some effort. In order to remain stuck in futility like the O’s have, you almost have to have the perfect storm of badness:

Bad ownership-check

Bad management-check

Bad players-check

Tonight, we’ll focus on those bad players. Actually, its also a reflection of bad management since all but two of these players were brought in from outside the organization. These are the bad contracts, the poor attitudes and of course, the accused and proven steroid users that have contributed to the culture of losing that General Manager Andy MacPhail is trying to undo. This is in no particular order (and strictly my opinion) the worst 12 Orioles from the last 12 years plus two bonus picks.

Albert Belle - How shall we count the ways. Belle was already well known as a head case before he got to Baltimore. When he opted out of his contract with Chicago, owner Peter Angelos was so desperate to keep him away from the Yankees, he handed the productive but wholly unlikable Belle a 5-year, $55 million contract. He hit a home run in his first game with the O’s but it was pretty much all downhill from there. His production slid badly and by the end of year 2 of his contract, Belle had a degenerative hip condition that would end his career. Since this is Albert Belle, he did not go quietly into retirement. He was accused, and went to jail for, that most difficult of habits to break - stalking an ex-girlfriend.

Marty Cordova - We’ve already been through this one. Let’s just say that if the highlight of your tenure after you sign a 3-year $20 million dollar contract is burning yourself in a tanning bed - things didn’t exactly work out.

Sammy Sosa - Instead of analyzing this one or making a snide comment, I will relate a story that sums up Sammy’s one year in Baltimore.
I was at Sosa’s third ever game with the Orioles against Oakland. At one point, facing the immortal Kirk Saarloos, Sammy hit a high fly ball towards left field. We all stood up. Sammy did his homer hop. This was it, Sammy’s first home run as an Oriole. The ball soared high into the night….and died on the warning track.

Will Clark/Chris Richard - I put these two guys together because at one point they were traded for one another and they were quite similar - surly, arrogant, unproductive and with an inflated sense of self. Richard thought he was the second coming of Babe Ruth, while Will Clark was well…Will Clark.
Quick story on the man known as “The Thrill.” I was going to school at Towson and my sister was going to Western Maryland (I refuse to call it McDaniel). My mother came up to visit and we went out for dinner at a Mexican joint in Owings Mills. Who walks in the place but Will Clark and his family. The Orioles were in Boston but Clark was on the disabled list at the time. He was a balding, dumpy looking guy. He looked more like a slow-pitch softball player than a professional baseball player. I turned to my Mom and said, more as a rhetorical question, “That’s Will Clark?”

Paul Bako - This one really has little to do with Bako and more to do with the fact that the Orioles have had some very shitty #2 catchers over the past decade or so: Brook Fordyce, Geronimo Gil, Tommy Davis, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Bako is just one of those guys whose name screams "crappy baseball player." Fordyce was another. Others include Pat Tabler, Steve Balboni, Rob Fick and Brad Fullmer.

Sidney Ponson - Sir Sidney (he’s a knight in his native Aruba) was mostly just a maddeningly inconsistent pitcher for the bulk of his Orioles tenure. In 2003 he put together his best season and was traded to San Francisco for an underwhelming package that included Damian Moss and Kurt Ainsworth. He was brought back the next year and instead of being a talented enigma, he was just a fat enigma who couldn’t find a uniform that fit. He outdid himself at the end of his O’s tenure. Sir Sid got drunk and punched a judge in Aruba, picked up his second DUI and had an ERA over 5. Tired of his act, the Orioles simply fired him. Terminating his contract without buying him out.

Victor Zambrano - Zambrano will forever go down as the man the Mets traded Scott Kazmir for but he also helped contribute to a nightmarish August and September for the 2007 Orioles.
Just to refresh the memories, the 2007 O’s were having a surprising season led by the pitching of Erik Bedard and Jeremy Guthrie. However, by mid-August, Bedard and Guthrie were out with injuries (this was around the time of the infamous 30-3 game against Texas) and the O’s pitching staff was in desperate need of bodies. Enter Zambrano. Things go from bad to worse, including a game where the O’s gave up 11 runs in an inning against Tampa Bay. Zambrano was gone by the end of yet another season in 4th place.

Daniel Cabrera - Sir Sidney without the DUIs. D-Cab was the sort of guy that could throw a one-hitter at Yankee Stadium or walk the ballpark and be gone by the second inning. Not having him around this year will save a good many heart palpitations for O’s fans.

Jay Gibbons/David Segui/Jason Grimsley - Three of the most prominent members of the Orioles steroid era.

Segui was right up there with Cordova and Belle as terrible free agent signings. Not even HGH, which he admitting to using, could help Segui stay healthy, which says a lot about a guy’s propensity for getting hurt considering HGH is meant to help you RECOVER from injuries.

Grimsley might go down as one of the most disastrous trades in O’s history. He was bad on the field but he did even more damage off the field as he outed Miguel Tejada, Gibbons, Brian Roberts and Segui when he was busted for distributing HGH.

Gibbons had two rather productive years of 20+ homers and 100 RBIs. But his glass slipper soon turned into a pumpkin, and he morphed into a complete liability at the plate before getting suspended for steroids and being released.

Bonus picks:
Trenidad Hubbard - Hubbard is maybe the most fitting symbol of Orioles trade futility (up until the Tejada and Bedard trades).
In 2000, with the O’s languishing in 4th place again, GM Syd Thrift was tasked with getting an aging roster younger. So he held what became known as “The Great Fire Sale of 2000.” Gone were veterans like Harold Baines, Charles Johnson and Will Clark. The most heart-wrenching trade was that of B.J. Surhoff, a popular and productive player who cried at the press conference where it was announced he had been traded to Atlanta.
And what did the O’s get in return? Hubbard, a guy who was neither young (he was 34 at the time) nor much good and he was promptly gone by the end of the season.

Larry Bigbie - Another symbol, this time for bad O’s drafting. Even steroids couldn’t help Bigbie, who was a first-round pick who never panned out. He then made things worse by ratting out Brian Roberts and ‘Stumblin’ Jack Cust, among others. Thanks for the memories Larry.

Lazy links...

This morning I'll send a few links up related to the sports teams collectively known as "the good guys" (that would be the Baltimore Ravens, Baltimore Orioles and Washington Capitals for those who haven't figured it out yet). This is lazy blogging at its finest, but since I'm doing this while on the clock, there's no time for a long dissertation. For the few of you that like that sort of thing, I'll be back later tonight with an Orioles related post and a recap of tonight's Caps-Flyers tilt. Until then, enjoy...SUCKAAAAAASSSSSS!!!!!

- Japer's Rink has a preview of tonight's Caps game. Let's see how the team responds to another rivalry game. Surely, the Flyers will not fold like a tent when the Caps play a little rough with them like Pittsburgh did.

-More from On Frozen Blog regarding the Crosby-Ovechkin business from Sunday

-I mentioned Felix Pie in my O's post from this weekend. Well, he is just now getting to spring training due to visa issues in the Dominican Republic. The Schmucker has the details.

- Ken Murray of the Sun has the antidote to all Ravens fans out there fretting over this Ray Lewis to the Jets or Cowboys business. Personally, I couldn't agree with Murray more on this one. The other thing, if you read Peter King's piece and see some of the ESPN coverage on the possible "Ray to the Cowboys" thing, do you notice a certain glee these national nitwits have when talking about it? Funny how some of these same nitwits were calling Ray a murderer nine years ago. I see, but he's ok now that he may be signing with the national media's beloved Jets or Cowboys. National media, meet my middle finger.

-But if you're a Ravens fan and you are losing sleep over Ray Lew's potential departure, this news from Jamison Hensley ought to perk you up.

Non-Sports Department:

- My old buddy Greg "Snake" Maki has a review of Oscar night.

-Speaking of pimping the blogs of friends, here's Icon vs. Icon's interview with the director of the Razzie Award winning film (Paris Hilton-Worst Actress) "Repo! The Genetic Opera."

- More bad news for the newspaper industry. Both the Philly Inquirer and Daily News are filing for bankruptcy. I actually applied at the Inquirer about a year ago and now am quite glad I did not get the gig.

-I try to keep this site apolitical, but reading this story on Yahoo!, I couldn't resist. A "Where Are They Now" on officials from the Bush Administration. I hope when they do this 10 years from now, prison is included for some of them. I'm looking at you Dick Cheney.

-Finally, our YouTube clip to swing your heavy metal hair to is "Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck" by Prong.