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XP PSP s01e03: Chelsea’s Dagger

June 1, 2013 Leave a comment

In our third episode, we catch up on/discuss:

1) the first two rounds of NHL playoff eliminations, previewing conference finals, and catching up on the NBA playoffs, and our predictions across both sports.

2) 8th seeds running wild in the playoffs, and the legitimacy of an 8th seeds playoff threat across sports.

3) Which sport’s playoffs are the hardest to win.

4) The audacity of people calling close, low scoring playoff games boring.

5) cheering for players vs teams; former players becoming/succeeding as coaches (Roy, Gretzky), Tortorella benching Brad Richards, “contract years”….

….and plenty more.

Click here to listen: xppsp.podbean.com

Download_on_iTunes_Badge_US-UK_110x40_1004Subscribe and download us on iTunes as well!

Categories: Hockey, Podcasts, Sports, XP PSP Tags: , , , ,

XP PSP s01e01: Evenflow

April 29, 2013 Leave a comment

Fun little venture I’ve started up with some fellow sports-minded fellas here in Korea; We’ve started the Expat Pro Sports Podcast — XP PSP — and basically myself, Sachin Mahajan, Harold Dale, Jason Hiltz, Ryan Brown, and who knows who else will rotate in and out to chat about everything going on in the sports world for about 30 minutes at a time. For those expats out there who are missing their favorite multi-million dollar athletic competitions back home, we hope this scratches your itch just a little.

In our premier episode, we chatted about:

-The NHL playoffs, previewing a few of the first-round series.

-The NFL draft, Manti T’eo, and whether owners should touch the championship trophy first or not.

-The NBA playoffs, and whether the Miami Heat can be beaten.

-Why the Toronto Blue Jays are still bad.

-Whether coaches or management are to blame for a team with good players being bad.

-much, much more. Well, a little bit more.

Special thanks to the talented Ralph Hass of http://www.hasthevoice.com/ for providing our intro voice-over.

Enjoy the first episode! Leave a comment with some feedback, tell us if you like it, and what you’d like to hear in the future.

Click here to listen: xppsp.podbean.com

Download_on_iTunes_Badge_US-UK_110x40_1004Subscribe and download us on iTunes as well!

Hockey, Sports, and Non-Sense: These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things….

March 31, 2011 4 comments

Ok, first some shameless self-promotion…. I’ve been published! Like, in a real newspaper! “The View” in Lake Country will be printing my stuff every two weeks, both in ink and online. Here’s a link to the first one. If you live in the Winfield/Lake Country area, be sure to pick up a copy and have a gander. Check out their website too, and follow them on Twitter.

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Ok, some hockey…..

Wish as you might, you're no Gretzky's.

As much as I hate the Vancouver Canucks, I do have to be objective from time to time, and give them their due. They’ve had an unreal season. The Sedin’s are running things. Can you imagine how many points Daniel would have had last season, had he not gotten hurt? Nearly comparable to what Sid Crosby might have ended up with minus his concussion this season. That ‘C’ might even have ended up on his sweater, rather than Henrik’s. Well, enjoy your President’s Trophy win. And remember, that award is for REGULAR SEASON accomplishments. If you’d forgotten that the playoffs are a whole other world, I’m sure a first round meeting with the Blackhawks will jog their memories pretty quick.  For the past 2 seasons, the President’s Trophy winner has lost in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs (Bruins, Captials), and it has been a curse to many other winners too.  Vancouver residents, have you purchased your 2011 riot protection gear yet?

Also, Alex Burrows leads the NHL in all-time most “what, no call?” looks at referees.

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Speaking of Crosby…this is out of line, but it’d be funny if his returning to the NHL now because Mario Lemieux told him if he didn’t play again, he’d have to move out of his house and get a real job. Luckily for Sid, he’s been out of Mario’s for a while now. Supposedly.

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"Say you're sorry, Mark!"

I don’t get why a respected veteran like Mark Recchi would say something stupid like a guy with a fractured vertebrae was embellishing. He said it was to take some heat off of Zdeno Chara after the Pacioretty incident, but I mean come on man, that’s pretty low. Those who argue his “veteran savvy” in diffusing a volatile situation can’t possibly compare what Recchi said to Gretzky showing up at Marty McSorley’s trial and drawing the media to the front of the building while Marty made a slick escape out the back. This is more like Chara did something regrettable, so Recchi went all topper, and said something stupider than Zdeno actually performed.  Just seems unnecessary, unclassy, and disrespectful, especially coming from a 2-time Stanley Cup champ, multi-time all-star, and future hall-of-famer.  Whatever. The Bruins slaughtered the Habs in the rematch, and basically just pwn them all around now.

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TSN’s Oilers documentary, “Oil Change” seems like it was named with wishful thinking. They’re still awful, just like last year. What is it exactly, that changed? I’d still like to see more of this and HBO 24/7’ish NHL programming next season; and as I’ve mentioned before, it’d be unreal to shoot a show like this in the Cup finals.

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Sports Shorts….

With the baseball season underway, go ahead and try to justify why MLB teams need to play 162 games a season. No really, go ahead, I dare you. Can’t do it? Shocking.

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I loved this little quip from President Obama on the NFL labor dispute, especially the little smirk at the end: http://youtu.be/-x9NDSxGV90  Figure it out NFL.  Or your fans may be forced to endure a “New NFL“, too.

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Is it just me, or does Andy Roddick seem like he’s trying WAAAY too hard to be the John McEnroe of this generation of tennis, verbally? I guess pro sports are entertainment after all; I’m sure sports not included in the “big 4” need to try a little harder to compete for viewership and advertising/merchandise sales.

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Annnnnd, some non-sense……

I’ve purchased 3 Tim Hortons’ Roll-Up The Rim To Win Cups, and had one winner (coffee), leaving me with a .333 winning percentage. Could be better. But then again, it could be worse, and I could be addicted to coffee.

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If you can’t pay your debt to the mafia, and they break your legs, or whatever, does that clear your debt, or do you still owe? Do they keep breaking more things until your cough up the cheddar, or does the bodily harm cover it?

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If we all collectively start ignoring Charlie Sheen, Lindsay Lohan, & Justin Bieber, will they all go away and disappear from conversation?

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Piers Morgan is the worst interviewer on TV. And of all-time. Someone make him go away. Who thought he’d actually work out as a follow-up to Larry King?

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Scream 4? Come on….seriously? They actually thought it was a good idea to make another one of those?  The Arquette split must’ve been more expensive than either David or Courtney realized it would be.

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Instead of going on detox diets, why don’t people just not-tox in the first place? Wouldn’t that save a lot of time, pain, and money?

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Is it just me, or do most minimum wage jobs require a lot more actual, physical work than most high paying jobs?

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Whomever ended up with 555-5555 as their phone number must regret accepting those digits.

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The band Rush, to me, is as rap music is to my dad: Bothersome noise. Turn that crap off!

 

Hockey Talkie: Hodgson Hype, DiPietro’s Judgement Deficiency, Collapsing Thrashers, Franzen, Ovie, and TSN’s WWF Playbook Move.

February 5, 2011 Leave a comment

For the Canucks’ sake, Cody Hodgson better turn out to be the second coming of Crosby, like Vancouver media would have you believe. He seems like a good kid, and a really good player, but the more that Sportsnet West jams him down all our throats, they more I start to undeservingly hate him by default. Just let him season a little, or at least get the birdcage off before the greatness assessments start flying; that’s all I’m asking.

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He'd played 20 games already, he was due for a rest.

So after years of unplanned injuries, New York Islanders’ goaltender, Rick DiPietro, voluntarily pursued one the other night when he squared up with Pittsburgh’s Brent Johnson; where he found himself a broken face, twisted knee, and another visit from the Injury Fairy. You would think that someone that’s clearly so fragile would try to avoid blatant threats against his health; especially with the dark cloud of trying to live up to his first-overall draft selection and his lengthy/exorbitant contract hanging over his reputation, and contending against his minimal activations, frequent and lengthy IR stints, and overall average performance. I’d say Islanders’ GM Garth Snow and owner Charles Wang are almost ready to one-punch him too.

A thought on goalie fights… as even casual fans seem to love them, why can’t NHL goalies that fight just sit in the box for 5 minutes to serve their penalty like everyone else? There’s no real reason why teams couldn’t just put their backups in until the penalties expire; both would be coincidental penalties, giving the goaltenders opportunity to reset after they are released. I’m sure the reason it’s frowned on is all to do with something along the lines of “not encouraging that kind of behaviour” or another hypocritical cliché.

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Another Atlanta Thrashers’ player collapses during a game? As much as I wouldn’t want to, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear about a Performance Enhancing Drug scandal in Atlanta in the future, especially now that it has happened to two players on the same team.  Had their been two seperate instances involving unrelated players, this might fly under the radar, but it’s hard not to wander towards suspicions after this revelation.  These are the most elite athletes in the world; you don’t just collapse for no reason while doing something your body has been trained to do for its entire existence.  With Freddy Meyer now experiencing a similar mid-game fainting episode to that of Ondrej Pavelec’s invisible banana peel slip earlier in the season, I’m going to go ahead and speculate with nothing beyond my own opinion that these guys are putting something into their bodies that is causing their systems to operate in an unnatural way – and is causing unnatural reactions. Regardless of whether my suspicion turns out to be true or not, it’s always dangerous to put things into your body that alter the normal operations of your heart or your brain; and if we can look to MLB for any indication of what drug scandals can do to your sport, I hope I am completely off-base, for the players’ and the NHL’s sake.

that's messed up.

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I really think Detroit’s “Mule”, Johan Franzen could be the best player in the NHL if he could be consistent. 5 goals in one game? A 4-goal game in the playoffs last year after being benched by Mike Babcock the night prior? Who else do you know that scores in bunches like that? He’s got a well-known streaky dominance, but an equally well-known follow-up of extreme average-ness for extended periods of time.  After the 5 goal game, Detroit was shut out by Columbus the next night, and Johan missed at least one wide open net.

A further player assessment; for a one time “best hockey player in the world” candidate, Alex Ovechkin’s…. kiiiiiiinda average at hockey now. Well, among the top 30 players in the world that is.  Even with an injured Crosby, Ovie’s still 8th in NHL scoring, and 15 pts off first place overall.  His hardest shot round at the Skills Competition was nothing short of comical; broken stick, unregistering radar, and swimming through tripped over TV cables and all. I wonder how rattled CCM was that Ovie blew up his CCM stick and then borrowed an Easton stick to finish the shootout? Luckily for CCM, the Easton blast was nothing spectacular. Still, having your poster boy tote someone else’s product in a globally viewed performance review couldn’t possibly be an option written into the product endorsement contract.

Also on the All-Star Game, I never understood why the NHL’s “All-Star” level goalies get so bad at stopping pucks in that showdown. I get that the defence and physicality is limited, while the offensive output is maximized, but isn’t that scenario the goalies’ show-off time too?

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I find TSN’s stealing signing of rival sports channel’s broadcasters (Darren Dreger, Steve Kouleas) like the WWF stealing underutilized WCW talent in the 90’s. To be fair, Sportsnet did pick up TSN patriarch Jim Van Horne at one point in time too, so it’s not like it’s a one-way street. Interesting talent joust. Sports channels are possibly the most entertaining they have ever been nowadays. Viewers win.

Giants Win, Bonds Rages? Bush – Ranger Danger Quiz, Expressed Written Consent, and Another CFL Improvement Thought.

November 2, 2010 8 comments

Congratulations, San Francisco Giants on winning the World Series.  You guys had the guy with beard, and the young guy with the long hair… I mean with that cast of characters, and the storyline of ending your championship slump (doesn’t the slump notion seem like a reoccurring theme every year now when someone wins?) you were destined to win. 

I can’t help but think that, somewhere, Barry Bonds is spinning in his grave though. Wait, he’s still alive? Well, surely he’s jealous at least; probably a little mad too that the Giants put him out to pasture right after he was done showing off how many homeruns he could hit. Can’t you just hear the Giants brass’ sarcasm laced speech to Bonds,

Thanks for everything over the years Barry.  Ok now that you’re done doing YOUR thing (you know, the thing with the ‘alleged’ steroids, and the history/record tarnishing thing), WE’RE gonna go win the World Series. Yeah, remember that big shiny trophy that all the baseball teams try to win every year?  Yeah, we decided that winning it is actually important now that we don’t have you around to hit baseballs into the harbor and boost ratings and ticket sales.”

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Did having George Bush Sr and Barbara skew your results? How about the allegiance with MLB legend Nolan Ryan? Does hanging out in the public eye with people that are actually historically liked make W more likeable now that he’s no longer collapsing the stability of his country? Explain your answer.

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MLB is sure sticking to their guns on that “expressed written consent” requirement, aren’t they? Still to this day in 2010, broadcasters make that announcement, mid-game. Must it be pen & ink? Is text or email ok? If I write in now and get permission, I should be able to see the World Series in 6-8 weeks, best case scenario.

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Dear CFL,

Just move the upright post in the CFL from the front to the back already, seems like a no-brainer to avoid injury and embarrassment.  I get it, you’re different than the NFL, that’s fine, but why not try my idea?  Structurally sound?  I can’t prove that, but I think we have smart enough people out there to make it work somehow.  Just don’t let Shaq hang on it, and we should be fine. 

 

 

A Clean Conscience Over Artificial Success?: The Steroid Sublimination.

February 7, 2010 4 comments

 

With Mark McGwire’s recent tearful admission of steroid use throughout his baseball career after plenty of speculation, we’ve all gone and (rightfully so) pointed our fingers, called McGwire and other players who have admitted (or that we speculate) taking performance enhancing drugs, as cheaters; tarnishing world class baseball, and to an extent, world class athletics and their athletes in the process.

Now lets get one thing straight before we go any further; these guys are cheaters.  But that’s not the major point I’d like to discuss.

Before we factor in the advantage of performance enhancing drugs, can we at least admit that these athletes are simply talented individuals, gifted in their field?  McGwire made some good, or at least arguable, points throughout his admission interview.  When Bob Costas asked him if he believes he could have hit the record breaking 70 homeruns, or his 600 career homeruns, without the assistance of drugs, McGwire replied,

You mean, it wasn't the milk afterall?

Absolutely. I was given this gift by the man upstairs; to hit home runs.  I started studied pitchers. I started understanding how they try to get you out. During that, my swing was changing. I started off as a raw kid, who had the ability to hit from the back leg and hit wall-scrapping home runs. Over the years, as you saw, my swing became shorter and shorter, and I learned how to hit through the baseball…  The only reason I took steroids was for my health purposes. I did not take steroids to get any gain for any strength purposes… I’ve always had bat speed. I just learned how to shorten my bat speed. I learned how to be a better hitter. There is not a pill or an injection that is going to give me the hand-eye – or give any athlete – the hand-eye coordination to hit a baseball. A pill or an injection will not hit a baseball… As I look back now I can see why people would say [that I cheated]. As far as the God-given talent and hand-eye coordination and the genetics I was given, I don’t see it [as cheating]… I look at my swing and look at how it evolved over time.  That’s from a lot of hard work. That’s from many, many hours of hitting off the tee. I was the first one to the ballpark and the last one to leave… I just believed in my ability and my hand-eye coordination. And I believed in the strength of my mind. My mind was so strong, and I developed that on my own. No pill or no injection is going to do that.”

Former McGwire teammate, Jose Canseco, recently spoke via Twitter on the admission interview.  Though he claimed McGwire hadn’t been entirely truthful about what he said, he did make some agreeable sentiments, saying,

“Bat speed, timing, hand eye coordination, balance…. you either have it or you don’t.  Talent and hard work are key components to success as a professional athlete. Steroids do help, but you have to have the foundation.”

A 2008 documentary entitled  “Bigger, Stronger, Faster*” made some interesting points that many people may not know; such as Tiger Woods’ laser eye correction to 20/15 vision, which gives him an very unfair advantage over his competitors.  Of course, he’s really good at golf for a lot of good reasons, but this seems like an unnecessary loophole, doesn’t it?  Does he need to be talented, and have the ability to see the cup from the tee box 500 yards away?

I really believe that the best players in sports are simply better than the rest of the people on the planet at what they do.  On a level playing field, not a lot of people would be anywhere close to as good at baseball as McGwire, or as Woods in golf, or any other celebrated athlete.  Those guys are just better than you.  The players I feel bad for are the ones with that raw talent who stayed clean through their careers but were only potential major league fringe players at best, but get beat out by another player of the same talent level that didn’t stay clean, and had to watch a cheater fulfill his dream instead of him.  At least those guys will have marbles for nuts in the end.

But beyond pro sports, some people use drugs called Beta Blockers, like Propranolol, to avoid stage fright, tremor, performance anxiety, panic, pounding heart, cold/clammy hands, increased respiration, sweating, and other conditions that could cause less than optimal performance.

Many professional musicians use these anxiety reducing drugs to calm nerves and increase focus prior to performances.   So next time you’re auditioning for a spot in a band, and that guy who was no good last month suddenly gets awesome at his instrument and beats you out for a spot and becomes a big rock star while you stay home playing Guitar Hero, maybe there’s more to it?

Even students use them to improve test, homework, and school scores.  Wouldn’t you hate to think that someone got the last spot into a prestigious school, or won some sort of competition over you because they were on something, and you weren’t?

Some doctors and surgeons use the same stuff before performing procedures.  Wouldn’t you want your doctor at the top of his or her game before opening you up and playing with your life?

So the question is, are these people cheating too?  If we shine the spotlight so prominently on baseball players, pro wrestlers, bodybuilders, and other professional athletes; should we not hold people competing in entirely different fields of play accountable as well?  Where should the line be drawn?  Why can Arnold Schwarzenegger do steroids, gain fame, become a movie star, and eventually a governor; why can Sylvester Stallone beef up with HGH for the latest Rocky installment, be a hero and make a ton of money; why can countless other people in other professions put these same substances in themselves without a word of objection from anywhere, but as soon as Bonds or Sosa hit an absurd amount of homeruns, all of a sudden their reputation is tarnished forever and everything they do gets an * beside it?  Both sides are putting on a show to “set an example for the kids”, but isn’t it interesting which people become the bad guys and which carry on as they were when the truth comes out?

 

Major League Baseball Bobbles and Blunders.

November 2, 2009 5 comments

A few thoughts on baseball before the Yankees win the World Series again (not saying I like them, but it’s inevitable at this point… sorry Philly Phanatics), and nobody cares about the sport for a couple of months.

Can you believe the Houston Astros play with a 90 foot wide incline in theearly retirement just waiting to happen.  middle of center field that also features an inanimate steel flagpole placed in the middle of it?  How many centerfielders, home and opposing teams alike, must just absolutely refuse to chase after a ball hit in that direction?  If there was ever a career ender, it would be running straight into that pole at 25km/h (average human running speed) while looking over your shoulder and trying to make a catch.  It’s known as “Tal’s Hill” after team president Tal Smith, who must not like centerfielders very much.  It would be a different matter if it was an amateur team in a low-budget league, and they had to build their field around this obstruction due to a city injunction (like the terraces at “Sulphur Dell” In Tennessee and Crosley Field in Cincinnati), but this is a world-class, professional, multi-million (billion?) dollar budget team and league that consciously chose to put this little gem in the middle of play.  It’s not like they can’t afford to do it right.  While they are classy little acknowledgements to historical figures, these “features” only serve to injure players who teams have already invested a pile of money in to make their team better; it just doesn’t serve any logical rationale as to why the team and the league would allow for these pending disasters.   

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Alex Rodriguez and Nomar Garciaparra need to stop playing with their batting gloves before EVERY SINGLE PITCH and just hit already.  They’re on your hands, your fingers are in the holes, and the Velcro is done up – what more does a person require from a batting glove?  I understand the element of being in “The Zone” and the quirky rituals that players across all sports subscribe to to keep them mentally in check; but these guys are taking it a little too far, and bothering everyone who is forced to watch them every time they’re up to bat.

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Can the franchise known as the “Angels” please, once and for all, identify where they’re actually from?  Los Angeles Angels, California Angels, Anaheim Angels, and now… The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.  Luckily, they’ve played out of the same stadium since the 60’s, but if the casual fan didn’t know that, how in the heck are they supposed to know what city and field to go to to see his team play?

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Is there any chance of Major League Baseball adopting a home-run derby to settle deadlocks instead of extra innings, in the fashion of how the NHL reverts to a shootout to settle tie-games?  Is there any chance we could just change standard 9 inning baseball games directly to home-run derbies? Man, that’d be sweet.

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