The View From Wisconsin

Just a random set of rants from a Sports Fan from Wisconsin.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

So Much For Canada Day

I guess my prediction of a CBA by Canada Day (July 1) is out. However, I will make the following predictions:
  1. The NHL will be back and in full force by Labor Day weekend.
  2. There will be a lot of "Wow!" and jaw-dropping when everyone gets a hold of the CBA.
  3. There will be mass chaos when it comes to free agency, but in the end, every player will go where they want to go, which won't be a bad thing.
  4. Every hockey fan will dislike one or two of the rule changes the league will make, but they'll all eventually grow on us. (Like fungus, of course.)
  5. There will be 29 very unhappy teams when the winner of the Sidney Crosby Derby (aka the NHL Draft Lottery) is announced. Somewhere in the first round, however, is probably some kid who'll win more Stanley Cups than Sidney.
  6. The Nashville Predators will make the playoff in 2006. (Lots of room on the bandwagon, folks...)

War, Windows and Who Knows

Get ready to span the globe:
Now, it's off to find out how you set a laser printer to "stun" - and then get it to clean itself afterwards...

Sunday, June 26, 2005

The Rest of the Best

Playing with numbers once again:

Mark Buehrle (9-1, 2.48, 73 K in 116.0 IP, 1.026 Ratio, 24.8 CYP) and teammate John Garland (12-2, 3.40, 48 K in 100.2 IP, 1.123 Ratio, 23.3 CYP) are the primary reasons why the Pale Hose on the South Side are dominating the AL. Though I suspect that our friends at THT will say Roy Halladay (11-4, 2.51, 91 K in 122.0 IP, 1.000 Ratio, 21.4 CYP) and Kenny Rogers (9-3, 2.46, 44 K in 98.7 IP, 1.338 Ratio, 15.9 CYP) are the other two main Cy Young candidates in the AL, I'd give some credit to Joe Crain (6-0, 0 saves, 0.83 ERA, 13 K in 32.2 IP, .888 Ratio, 23.2 CYP) and Cliff Politte (5-0, 1.32, 30 K in 27.1 IP, .768 Ratio, 16.1 CYP) as outstanding setup men in the bullpen.

(all stats are through Friday's games)

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Cy Young Thoughts

The gentlemen over at The Hardball Times have brought forth their mid-year NL Cy Young Candidates. I don't have much dispute over their five choices, but there are two guys who are just as deserving of the nod.

The problem? They play for a team that has no TV contract to speak of, and not many people are paying attention to them.

I'm talking about Livan Hernandez (10-4, 3.01 ERA, 101 K in 104.2 IP, 1.18 Ratio) and Chad Cordero (2-1, 24 Saves, 0.97 ERA, 1.03 Ratio) of the Washington Nationals. Yeah, that's right - the Washington Nationals.

Quietly, those two have been a big reason why the Nats are three and a half games ahead of the Braves for the NL East lead. They're cruising to a 95-win season (something the franchise hasn't seen since 1979 - and the city of Washington hasn't seen since 1933).

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

CBAs, Sales and Bad "Tyres"

The NBA has, it appears, come to an agreement with the NBPA for a new collective bargaining agreement. If reports can be believed, the age issue has apparently been dealt with by raising the eligibility age to 19, instead of 20 or 22 (as wanted by some in league circles). My only frustration is that the NBA didn't go through with their lockout. It would have been fun to see the NHL have a new CBA while the NBA went dark.

In a related story, it appears that the Dolans are tiring of the sports biz. They are looking to sell off their sports "assets" (their words, not mine) from the parent corporation, Cablevision. That would mean the Knicks, Rangers and the MSG are now for sale. The only question is, who would be stupid enough to buy the sports equivalent to the Three Stooges?

Exhibit #327 that someone at ESPN does not like Cheeseheads: when SportsCenter starts its 50 States in 50 Days "extravaganza", the last state that will be visited is Wisconsin. That's not bad enough: the site of SportsCenter's "extravaganza" won't be Lambeau Field, or Camp Randall Stadium, or Miller Park, or the Bradley Center. No, they will be here in the state to cover… the Highlander Games in West Allis? I can just see the "backwards hicks" commentary already.

And as we're on the subject of jokes, let's not forget Formula One racing. The whole fiasco at Indy over "tyres" not being able to withstand Turn One of Indy is just more proof that F1 is about as relevant to the sporting public in the US as English Premier League Football – though it's more likely that some youngster in the heartland will have a Chelsea kit than a poster of Michael Schumacher. Schumacher wouldn't last two laps in a typical Nextel Cup race, and probably would be a DNF if he tried any of the lower-level series in NASCAR or ASA. And I'm not convinced that, if he were allowed to by the gods at Ferrari, to race in the Indy 500, that he'd even make the field, let alone manage to finish the race. Heck, I think even Ms. Patrick could easily put him in her rear view mirror.

The problem with F1 is that they see themselves as travelling gods, gracing various nations of the world with their presence and ungodly expensive vehicles. Truth is, it's smoke and mirrors. They don't have any sort of real connection with their fan base, nor do they truly wish to have one. Watching F1 is like watching the royals play a game of polo at the club – or, more appropriately, watching EPL soccer.

Mike Mulhern, in the Winston Salem Journal, quoted FIA president Max Mosley in a comment that sums it up completely: "Formula One has become divorced from reality."

Card update: I bought a wax-pack box of '91 Topps Baseball Tuesday, but only managed to knock my "need" list down for that set by 18 cards. The box was shy the full 36 packs, so it was 18 cards out of 510 possible. I'm 16 cards shy of 30k total cards in my collection, and it's definitely looking like I'm going to need to get another box for my cards – mostly because the sets aren't "even" that they can be split between boxes. Between my two "big sets" (1990 Score and 1991 Topps Baseball), I have over 3,600 cards alone.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005


There is no way that Neifi Perez makes that play again in his lifetime. He can play until he's 50, and he will never grab that ball, flip it to the second baseman covering, and turn the double play like he did to essentially end the Brewers' chances of winning Monday night. Of course, that once-in-a-career play was probably brought on by the Baseball Gods, who didn't care for my rant about razing Wrigley. Then again, maybe those Baseball Gods are still ticked that the Braves up and moved to Atlanta.

In other unrelated news, it appears that I will actually have a contract before the NHLPA does. WSEU has apparently signed off on the remaining 10-days or so of our 2003-05 contracts, and have also agreed not to take any back pay in exchange for not having to pay for health insurance back to July '03. It is what you call in the business "a wash" of a deal. What's ironic is, I doubt that we'll actually ratify the contract before it actually expires on July 1.

Speaking of those silly people on skates, I'm a bit chagrined over the "reports" about what the CBA consists of in those bastions of media accuracy, the New York Post and Daily News. Any deal which would essentially make two-thirds to three-fourths of your membership temporarily "unemployed" can not be a good thing. I sincerely believe that this was a line of BS fed to the hockey scribes to throw them off the scent of the real thing - which would allow it to appear that the PA actually won something in the end.

I've actually done some cataloging of my sports card collections, and discovered something about my 91-92 Topps hockey set: I'm missing Jagr and Messier - two cards that are pretty much guaranteed to be high-priced in trying to build the set.

Monday, June 20, 2005

The Cubs, Relics and Lauries Leaving

It's Cub Week in Milwaukee, and that means it's time to dump on the Cubs. Never in the history of sports (with the possible exception of the Brooklyn Dodgers) has there been a franchise that has made so much money out of being pegged as "losers" as the Cubbies. They are the baseball personification of Murphy's Law: if anything can possibly go wrong in the game of baseball, it will go wrong for the Cubs. From billy goats to the death of Kenny Hubbs, from the Brock For Broglio trade to the ground ball dribbling between Durham's legs, and Sammy's corked bats and season-ending tirades, the team from the North Side can't win for losing.

And it all begins with their ballpark. You have to wonder if there was some sort of curse placed on the grounds after the Catholic seminary that was on the site was torn down for Charles Weegham's park. It's been over 90 years, and the place is really showing its age. Chunks of cement, rusted fencing and gates, lousy facilities for both home and visiting teams – all of these indicate that it would better serve the Cubs if they just tore it down and started over.

A Chicago Tribune writer agrees with this sentiment, though he feels somewhat ashamed of this fact because the White Sox's Carl Everett also believes the park should be demolished. Personally, if the Cubs gutted the place and rebuilt it with a completely new interior, they'd be miles ahead in the long run. And if the Tribune Company really had cajones, they'd buy out the land owners on Waveland and Sheffield, and petition the city of Chicago to close off those two streets to traffic permanently to turn them into a pedestrian mall. Then, sell off the buildings as condos with luxury box seating – even better than "club seats", because you can actually live there.

Alas, the Cubs and the Trib Co. don't have the stomach for the fight that it'd take, and the only way the Cubs would end up out of Wrigley would be if or when the city condemns the place.

On a somewhat similar subject: I have never completely understood the fascination with "relic" cards – sports cards that contain, wedged inside the slabs of cardboard, a piece of a jersey, a bat or stick, a helmet or other piece of sports history. Even though I personally own about four or five of these things, I guess I don't understand the rationale for their existence. Wouldn't it be a better thing to own a complete Mantle or Maris or McGwire jersey, instead of a tiny one-inch-by-one-inch square glued in between some cardboard?

Still, these things are hot property – a 1999 Upper Deck "A Piece of History" bat and autograph card of Hank Aaron goes for up to $1,200. Even a 2005 Topps "All-Star Stitches" relic card of Albert Pujols' practice jersey before the 2004 All-Star Game in Houston is selling at $20 a pop.

Speaking of the All-Star Game: I want Brady Clark to make the All-Star team, I really do – but do you honestly think he's going to be voted in as a starter? I didn't think so. And after LaRussa brings "his" guys along – Edmonds, Pujols, Matheny, Morris – there won't be much room for any of our guys. Knowing LaRussa, he'll probably choose Carlos Lee and Doug Davis, leaving Brady to spend the break at home. A pity, actually.

On to the NHL: Everyone keeps saying, "this is the week, this is the week, this is the week" when it comes to the NHL. I personally think that the lawyers who are going over the fine print of the documents are just stringing both sides along so they can get the most amount of money out of them – and so they'll be forced to keep them on retainer. They'll get it done before Canada Day, that's pretty much for certain.

It does not surprise me that the Lauries have finally realized that owning an NHL franchise isn't as fun as it appeared to be. When team owners openly pine for an NBA franchise instead of doting heavily on the NHL team they have, you know you're in trouble. Hopefully, someone will buy the team that's actually interested in putting a product on the ice that can win some hockey games. As long, of course, as those hockey games aren't in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

All of a sudden, it looks like 2009 will be the year that New York City actually got new ballparks built. The Mets are now benefactors of the failed West Side Stadium plan, as they are slated to get a new stadium to replace the slightly-outdated Shea that will (hopefully, at least in the minds of city officials) host the 2012 Olympics. Tie that with the Yankees' plans for a new ballpark just north of their current place, and you've got a sudden influx of stadium construction in the largest city in North America. New Yorkers will find a way to complain about it to no end – no one can ever agree on anything in that city, anyways – but it looks pretty much certain that the two teams will have new homes within a decade.

The Spurs managed to pull one out of their posterior last night over the Pistons, and may be one win away from yet another title. If I were an NBA general manager, I'd just sign Robert Horry for the playoffs, since he has a knack of hitting one big shot after another in big games. Too bad that if the Spurs win their next game at home, it'll be the last NBA game for quite some time… aw, who am I kidding? I want them to get locked out, prefereably for the entire season. That way, the NHL won't have any competition once they get back on the ice.

I want to know exactly how the AHL intends to put together a schedule for 27 teams. The only thing I can think of is to divide the league up into two conferences of six divisions each, with the majority of teams (15) in the East and the rest (12) in the West. That way, scheduling won't be so nightmarish (though it'll still be hell for Manitoba). I also wonder how long it's going to take before the Coyotes sue the pants off of the Elmores for suspending the Grizzlies as a franchise.

Friday, June 17, 2005


Okay, last card update for a while: The 1978 and 1980 sets are now complete. I got the checklist and the Lance Parrish card to complete the two sets. I now also have all but one card in the 1997 Topps base set as well.

As for other things in life:


A lot of quiet out there right now.

The NHL labor talks have quieted down to a whisper - to where you're led to believe that they're on the brink of something.

Meanwhile, I'm stuck waiting on some trading cards to come to complete my 1978 and 1980 Topps baseball sets - and help finish my 1997 set, too. And, also very quietly, I managed to grab a 1956 Topps Hoyt Wilhelm - in G/VG condition - for my collection.

Now, if I could only find out what my 2005 Pacific Hockey Authentic Game-worn Jersey Dan Cloutier card is worth...

Monday, June 13, 2005

Almost There

I now have only one card missing in two of the four sets that I am trying to build to complete.

My 1978 and 1980 Topps Baseball sets now have only one missing card each - a checklist card and Lance Parrish, respectively. I'm still waiting on some singles for my 1997 Topps base set, which will put me at one card in that set as well.

The other two sets are 1982 (78 cards) and 1991(32 cards) Topps Baseball. It's somewhat unlikely that I'll complete the 1982 set, as one of the missing 78 cards happens to be Cal Ripken's rookie card (can you say $40?). I don't know about the 1991 set; I may do the online store thing to fill it in, but I'm starting to run out of card box room. I am now at 29,048 total cards, with 23,696 singles - and that doesn't include the 15 Bob Uecker 1963 Topps reprints I have sitting around. (The reprints were made to sponsor the Miller Ride For The Arts bike tour, back in 1988. They were handed out for free at Milwaukee County Stadium that summer, since Ueck was the sponsor of the event at the time.)

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Even More Cards

Watch out now... I've found a little card shop just down the road (figuratively speaking) from me, and he's got a whole bunch of cards and "wax boxes" for sale. He purchased a lot of cards from an estate sale, and he's selling a great bunch of them for only $5 a pop.

I bought a wax box of '91 Topps (40th Anniversary) baseball cards - and eliminated about 80% of my need list for that season.

I'm now working on a set I never had - the 1991-92 Topps Hockey set. 510 cards, and every single one is new for me. It's also the first set that has Sharks cards - which I'm all for.

The total amount of cards is at 28,932 as of this moment. I'm psyched - even though I had to pause when I saw a Steve Chiasson card in the set.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

What I Believe About the Lockout

Five things that I believe about the lockout at the present time:
  1. I believe that the CBA, in essence if not in totality, has already been completed. The major issues and "roadblocks" that have kept the two sides apart have been dealt with, and there are only minor issues - dates, exact numbers and figures, and such - that haven't been finished.
  2. I believe that the reason why there's been little word out of the two parties as of late is that lawyers have been going over the completed CBA with a fine-toothed comb. They're just checking the document for legalities and wording and dotted-I's and crossed-T's.
  3. I believe that once this CBA goes before the Board of Governors, it will have more than the required two-thirds super-majority for approval. Bettman preached so long about "cost certainty" in a new CBA; it would look absolutely foolish on his part not to support a deal that contains it - as it is very likely it will have, from all accounts.
  4. I believe that the NHLPA will also ratify this agreement in short order. The scuttlebutt is that the "Get It Done" faction of the PA outnumbers the "hardliners" by a two-to-one margin, and that a majority of players are itching to get back to playing hockey.
  5. I honestly believe that the two sides will conduct their votes on the new CBA by the end of June, if not earlier. And once this is done, the utter chaos that will ensue from free agency signings and the draft lottery will commence.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Deep Eklund?

I have been musing somehwat over the information over at Eklund's Hockey Rumors, the webblog that puts forth what appears to be happening in the NHL/NHLPA negotiations.

Since the revelation of the identity of Deep Throat from the Watergate scandal, there's been a minor cottage industry in trying to determine what other big mysteries there are in the world today. Right now, the identity of our Mr. Eklund is a big one.

Based on what I've read and ascertained from the so-called Mr. Eklund, I have come to the conclusion that he is probably one of the following:
  1. A former GM or assistant GM. The manner in which he refers to sources on both sides of the aisle indicates familairity with both sides, and a GM would be more likely to have "ins" with both sides. However, his slant towards the players' side indicates that he might not have been a GM as much as an assistant - or, perhaps even a scout.
  2. A former coach or assistant coach. This would explain his rapport with players, while still having an "in" with the owners and management.
  3. A former player - though not neccessarily the real Pelle Eklund. He may have had some hand in the last negotiations, or he may have been familiar with the ousting of "The Eagle" back in the early 1990's. His understanding of what is happening in the negotiations seems to indicate that he knows how it's done - which means he may have been a member of the NHLPA at one time.
  4. A former and/or current player's agent. Some of the intricacies of the deal might be related to this aspect of his analysis of offers. It would also explain the trust by players - but wouldn't explain his contacts on the other side of the aisle.
  5. A former member of the hockey media. Someone who used to cover the NHL on a regular basis, but either retired or was let go a few years back. I'm not as inclined to believe this part, as his lack of use of a spell-checker is somewhat obvious. Then again, no one said you had to be able to spell to cover hockey (other than getting the word "Kovalchuk" right).
  6. A combination of any or even all of the above. It's entirely possible that he started as a player, then drifted into coaching and GM-ship, maybe tried his hand as an agent and then in the media. That, however, would really limit the number of possible people he could be - to either Barry Melrose or Darren Pang.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Four Years

Boy, it doesn't seem like it, but it is.

Today, June 4, is the fourth anniversary of the dissolution of the International Hockey League.

With a simple press release, league president Douglas Moss announced the IHL was ceasing operations.

And, with that, over 50 years of hockey went down the drain.

The worst part, of course, is that a certain team that I know and love never got the chance to win the trophy named for Joseph Turner, the Detroit area native who lost his life in the European theater in WWII.

The best part? Every single season since, an original-IHL team has won the AHL Calder Cup.

Of course, the Woofs are doing their best to try to reverse this trend, but that's another story.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Paris, France and Padres

More randomizing in my brain: