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The all-star lineup

After 15 years of having the Yankees (and to a smaller degree, the Red Sox) as the MLB team with the killer roster, it took me longer than it should have to realize that it’s now the Phillies who have that role – and in the NL, to boot, for ages considered the weaker league.  Rollins, Utley, Pence, Howard, Victorino, Ibanez.  6 quality hitters that can generate runs any inning.  Compares well to Jeter, Damon, Teixeira, Rodriguez, Matsui, Posada, Cano (2009 Yankees), or even to Henderson, White, Alomar, Carter, Olerud, Molitor.  Not only that, but they have one of the best pitching rotations I’ve ever known.  Halladay, Lee, Hamels, Oswalt, and young Vance Worley?  Scary.   Their fourth starter was the ace of his previous team.

I tend to cheer for the underdog in sports. (I wonder what that means psychologically…)  When the Phillies were coming together, I was enjoying their pursuit of a championship.  I’m still not tired of them, because this group has only won one Series.  And I really want Doc to win a ring, because we in Toronto still have a collective major crush on the best player ever to wear a Jays uniform.  It’s sad for us that he’ll probably enter the Hall of Fame as a Phillie.

Not to say it always happens.  I booed the Yanks even when they started winning in ’96.  But the rising of the Red Sox and Rays earlier this decade was enjoyable, despite them also being division rivals.

 

I think that the all-star lineup is far more common in baseball, with it not having a salary cap, meaning a team with a lot of money can go out and buy a good team.  The NFL seems to have the most different playoff-bound teams and champions.  The NHL might be the biggest test of good management, with a tight salary cap forcing good drafting and development, and scouting projection as necessary in order to build a winning team.  (Detroit Red Wings, I tip my cap to you.)

The NBA has a few all-star rosters, and is far more disparate than MLB.  I hate how a few teams absolutely dominate the league, and that’s pretty much always the case.  I don’t have the stats, but I’d bet that the NBA has the fewest playoff upsets of all major leagues.

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Burrows!

Does it make a difference to a hockey team if the player who takes a penalty is a defenceman rather than a forward?  I’ve never played hockey, but it seems like it would be worse to have a defenceman in the box.  Because a power-play unit is usually 2F, 2D, that might tire your 5 defencemen a little more.  Or would it not really matter?

What a good night for Burrows.  And Vancouver.

Why the Canucks deserve to win

When I noticed that Vancouver had handily won the Western Conference, but the other four teams in their division didn’t even make the playoffs, it begged the question, did Vancouver do well just by beating up on crappy teams in their division, or were they great, and teams like Calgary struggled because they had to play powerhouse Vancouver six times.

With a breakdown of record by division, it stands out that the western playoff-bound teams beat up on the Northwest division, but only Vancouver also beat up on the Pacific and Central.  Only San Jose came close to Vancouver’s record, but they didn’t hold up against the East.

Vancouver is legit.  Hopefully they can turn regular season success into a long playoff run.  Anything less than taking the conference final to 7 games should be considered a failure.  Go ‘Nucks!

Olympics/TTC

On the subway today, the TTC made an announcement saying that Canada had won Women’s Hockey gold. It was a great moment, and a great gesture by the TTC.

Go Canada!

Thought 3: The Hamilton Coyotes

I would love for the Phoenix Coyotes to move to Hamilton. It seems clear to me at this point that Gary Bettman has a personal vendetta against Jim Balsillie. I wonder if it’s just Bettman who has the dream of southern hockey, or if many other NHL executives share this vision. It really doesn’t seem like it’ll work…

One of the main reasons the newspapers touted at first for this resistance was that if the NHL expands, the new team has to pay a few dozen million dollars directly to the other owners. If the Phoenix franchise were to fold, rather than relocate, the league would have an open spot for expansion, and create that revenue for owners.

Another reason suggested was the territorial claims of the Leafs (and maybe to a lesser extent, the Sabres). If the teams have veto power, then the anti-trust argument should stand up in court. The Leafs even admitted believing they have such a power. I wonder how the NHL will get around that.

Something the media hasn’t mentioned is the salary cap rules. Many teams are already struggling to meet the minimum salary range, which is tied to overall league revenue. If granted, a Hamilton franchise would probably find itself in the top 25% of revenues, up from the bottom 25%. This would mean a significant increase in both the salary cap and the floor, and the already-struggling teams (in the south, of course) would be pressed even harder. It’s possible as much as one-third of the owners would veto a move to Hamilton, based solely on their own teams’ finances.

Interestingly enough, the Toronto Maple Leafs might in fact benefit from a Hamilton team, because of the competition it would create. The front office has been able to sit back on a low-talent team for years, because they have no shortage of die-hard fans. They sell out every single game at extortionate prices. But this means the desire to assemble a winning team is secondary. However, with a Hamilton franchise, the threat of Leafs fans embracing (and paying for) the new team would make the Leafs front office work much harder for a Stanley Cup. The Air Canada Centre would almost certainly remain packed night after night. And it would be a blessing for Leafs fans and Leaf haters alike in this hockey-starved market.