Archive for July, 2010

Ross Ohlendorf’s Head Trauma Understatement

July 29, 2010

Ross Ohlendorf was nailed in the head with a line drive in the first inning of Wednesday’s 6-2 Pirates win over the Rockies, on a 93 MPH fastball that Troy Tulowitzki lined up the middle and off the right side of Ohlendorf’s head, resulting in the ball popping up in the air and landing all the way in shallow right field. Ohlendorf fell to his knee, braced himself, and eventually got up and talked to the Pirate trainer at the mound, but was taken out of the game and rushed to the hospital for a CT scan, which thankfully proved negative.

Ohlendorf’s reaction to the incident? This was his postgame quote:

“My head doesn’t feel as good as it did before it got hit, but it doesn’t feel bad at all.”

That sentence rules. Get this dude another government internship – is there an “Awesome Statements After Near-Death Experiences” Department?

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NEWS IN BR…F: Wednesday, July 28th 2010

July 28, 2010

  • Strasburg Shows Flashes Of Hall-Of-Fame Shoulder Inflammation



  • Bryant: “I’m Not Here To Carry Pads, I’m Here To Field Questions About Carrying Pads For The Next Seven Weeks”



  • Devils Propose Efficient, Hard-To-Watch Defense Of Kovalchuk Contract



  • Bengals Sign Owens To Distract From Distractions



  • Rangers Successfully Convince Frolov The Colby Amstrong Deal Never Happened

Penguins PA Announcer John Barbero Dies

July 27, 2010

Bummer. He was the best.

I hope that he goes out properly, with someone introducing, “Aaaaaaaaaaa Pittsburgh funeral, his first of the season, honoring number 65 (year old),

JOHN… BARBEROOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHHH… [Cheers]

Aaaaaassisted by number 10, Rohnnn FRAN-cis!

Let’s Make Fun Of Stupid Objections To The 17-Year Kovalchuk Deal

July 20, 2010

[UPDATE 7/21: The NHL has tentatively rejected this contract, bringing up a whole new mess of issues. Regardless, here’s what I wrote before we learned the NHL was able to do that]

After a lengthy negotiating process, Ilya Kovalchuk has indeed signed a 17-year, $102 million contract with the New Jersey Devils. The length appears striking at first, but the last five years of the deal are all worth $550,000, and $750,000 in the year before that, so in essence, Lou Lamoriello has jumped on the Marian Hossa / Chris Pronger / Henrik Zetterberg bandwagon and taken advantage of the salary cap by dragging Kovalchuk’s average annual cap hit down to just $6 mil with dummy years at the end of the deal that he’ll almost assuredly buy out.

There may be a handful of tricky seasons in between Kovalchuk’s formative years and his inevitable buyout/retirement, but basically, Lamoriello has shrewdly taken advantage of an increasingly-exploited salary cap loophole to keep a bona fide superstar with his franchise at an exceedingly reasonable annual cap hit.

Still, that “17 years” just looks really, really crazy on paper, and it’s brought up a whole series of objections — some legitimate, but most just angrily uninformed — which Scott Burnside lays out in this somewhat-bewildering post. Let’s dissect the four oddest paragraphs:

Some will immediately draw a line between the Kovalchuk deal and the 15-year contract that made netminder Rick DiPietro and the New York Islanders the butt of jokes around the sporting world. Too much. Too long. Those were the prevailing comments in the wake of the much-anticipated signing.

They will? Then “Some” are stupid.

Burnside isn’t making this point himself, fortunately, just relaying the general implication that the Kovalchuk deal is comparable to the albatross the Islanders gave Rick DiPietro (I’m pretty sure they had him sign his name on a literal live albatross), which is completely unfounded. DiPietro’s deal earns him exactly $4.5 million in every year of his deal, for an annual cap hit of $4.5 million — the length of the deal wasn’t deliberately lengthened to drag the cap number down, the Islanders just wanted to lock up DiPietro for fifteen years.

The Kovalchuk deal, by contrast, was deliberately lengthened by the Devils so they could pad the end of the deal with $500k seasons, drag down the average annual cap hit of the contract, and pay Kovalchuk fair market value over the next decade without totally destroying their cap space, giving themselves the option to buy him out with 5-7 years left on the deal once most of the money has been paid and allow Kovalchuk to retire, sign a latter-day NHL contract, or finish his career in the KHL. It’s far more similar to the deal the Blackhawks gave Marian Hossa; the 17-year Kovalchuk deal appears oppressively long-term on paper, but it’s actually far less restrictive to the franchise than, say, a 7-year, $60 mil deal with a $9+ mil cap hit would’ve been.

The Devils will have an awkward decision to make when Kovalchuk turns 36 with 8 years remaining on the contract, about when to precisely buy out his deal — do they take a $6 mil cap hit at age 36, then buy out 7 years, or take another $6 mil hit at 37 and buy out 6 years, or wait further? — but these concerns won’t arise for nearly a decade when the cap will have increased and a new CBA may be in place, and the concerns aren’t nearly as suffocating to the Devils as a shorter-term deal with an $8-10 mil cap hit would have been.

Also, Rick DiPietro is an average goaltender (who’s constantly injured, though he wasn’t before the deal was signed), while Kovalchuk is a perennial 40-goal-superstar. These mysterious “Some” who are comparing the contracts because the number 17 is close to the number 15 are hopelessly uninformed.

Moving on…

(more…)

The Devils Should Trade Martin Brodeur, Though Not Really

July 19, 2010

The Devils aren’t going to trade Martin Brodeur. If they did, any positive press they gained by locking up Ilya Kovalchuk to a (really) long-term deal and temporarily loosening Lou Lamoriello’s dubious reputation as an anti free-agent-splash, defense-first-to-a-fault franchise patriarch would be immediately bulldozed by media types declaring Lamoriello more cold-hearted than ever, and the Jersey season ticket vendors don’t need that.

So when I suggest in this post that the New Jersey Devils should trade Martin Brodeur this offseason, I do it with the full knowledge that this suggestion operates in an objective fantasy world free of sentimentality and public perception, and, therefore, I’m not actually suggesting they should do it, just that from a purely analytical hockey perspective, it would make a lot of sense.

Here’s why:

(more…)

Crosby Wins ESPY For “Best Hockey Player,” Proving Again That Fans Are Smarter Than Hockey Writers

July 15, 2010

Sidney Crosby may have missed out on the Hart Trophy this year (finishing third in the voting behind Henrik Sedin and Alex Ovechkin), as well as the Lester Pearson Award for MVP as voted on by the players (Ovechkin), but last night he won the ESPY Award for Best NHL Player.

The ESPY award doesn’t specify parameters, so Crosby’s Olympic-winning goal likely swayed some votes, and all three players had comparably unmemorable postseasons, so even if the Crosby verdict was just a byproduct of casual fans voting for the biggest name, the decision by the ESPY voters is a fairly logical one, especially when Crosby deserved the Hart over Sedin to begin with.

I realize this evaluation is borderline conspiracy-theory-ey, especially coming from a blogger with a Pens logo in his banner, but I still believe that North American hockey writers were influenced by the opportunity to promote someone other than Crosby or Ovechkin for a change and leapt at the chance to vote for Sedin knowing it would benefit the league as a whole from a promotional standpoint, especially after Ryan Miller’s Olympic run was such a captivating event .

At this juncture, I would like to post my monthly “hockey writers are stupid” reminder that Jaromir Jagr won 5 scoring titles and only 1 Hart Trophy in his career, and that doesn’t include the year he finished 2 points behind Joe Thornton but scored 25 more goals and Thornton still got the MVP. I’ve said multiple times that complaining about MVP voting is the most useless endeavor in sports besides complaining about All-Star selections, and yet I get pulled into it again and again every year. It’s like heroin, without the upside.

NHL Free Agency Remains Slow – I Blame Colby Armstrong

July 14, 2010

The NHL Free Agency signing period has slowed to a trickle (today’s blockbuster Brian Willsie deal notwithstanding), even though many of the league’s most prominent free agents remain on the market and a number of teams remain significantly under the Cap.

Some might speculate that teams are waiting for the Kovalchuk domino to fall before the other non-Kovalchuk dominos can fall (I good at analogy!!), but if the Kovalchuk talks are indeed limited to L.A., New Jersey, the Islanders, and Russia, then what are other teams waiting for?

My theory? Every free agent conversation has gone something like this:

Every Team: We’re interested in signing you – how does a 2-year, $4 mil contract sound?

Every Free Agent: But Toronto gave Colby Armstrong 3 years, $9 million, and he’s Colby Armstrong!

Every Team: Oh come on, we all know that deal doesn’t count.

Every Free Agent: Fine. I’m calling Toronto.

Every Team: Fine!

[Standoff Continues x Infinity]

Demolish Mellon Arena, Or Just Fill It With Awkward Emptiness?

July 14, 2010

Strange story in today’s Post-Gazette:

For some, it’s a pipe dream. For Aubrey Bruce, it’s a mission.

A former music promoter, Mr. Bruce hopes to save Mellon Arena by recruiting an arena football team, a Women’s National Basketball Association team and an American Basketball Association team to play there.

“Our goal is to save the Civic Arena,” he said. “It’s symbolic of Pittsburgh shedding its industrial skin and moving into the electronic age. It’s a very important symbol, I think, of Pittsburgh.”

Ehhh…

Some of my fondest childhood memories involve the Civic Arena, a feeling surely many of my Pittsburgh peers also share, but to me, the thought of demolishing the Arena is far, far less depressing than the idea of keeping it around so people can walk past the giant brand-new Consol Center to go watch a WNBA game in a 50-year-old building that’s 90% empty. Or the thought of people going to watch a WNBA game under any circumstances, really.

I’m all for preserving the town’s history, and my relationship to the Arena is as personal as anyone’s — well, besides maybe “BEER PEANUTS HERE!” man — but the theoretical idea of keeping the building intact as a symbol probably just don’t make long-term sense compared to the non-practicality of maintaining a building of that size when it serves no reasonable purpose, especially when it’s just feet away from a new, awesome, fully-equipped facility. That won’t stop me from posting the obligatory “RIP – CIVIC ARENA” Facebook status when the building finally comes down, but it’s reality.

Also, the ABA is still a thing? Hrm. Learning all over the place today.

LeBron, Come To Minnesota!!!

July 8, 2010

My friend Kevin and I made this video, in honor of LeBron Day. Can’t believe we convinced Bob Dylan to be in it:

Aww, Poor Cleveland

July 8, 2010

That’s not a sarcastic title – this ESPN poll map really does make me feel bad for the state of Ohio:

At least New Mexico is kinda on the fence about him leaving too!

:_( :_( :_( :_( :_(