August 2011

Hockey

Denis Hamel and life in the AHL

It’s no secret every young hockey player dreams of pulling an NHL team’s sweater over their head one day. Unfortunately, thanks to supply and demand, that task is easier said than done. Some players enter the league at the wide-eyed age of 18 and never look back. For others – for most – it can be quite the journey. Enter Denis Hamel – a Lachute, Quebec native who, to date, has played just 192 games in the…

Hall of Fame

Putting Shaun White and Travis Pastrana in perspective

Over the past weekend, Shaun White and Travis Pastrana were busy adding to their own legends at the 17th annual X-Games in Los Angeles, California. The popularity of the X-Games has grown steadily since they began in 1995. Sponsorship for and attention towards the ESPN-owned mega-event has skyrocketed, throwing once-called “extreme” sports into the mainstream and making household names out of the X-Games’ biggest athletes. This year the X-Games took over the Staples Center in…

Football

Tyler Thigpen and Buffalo’s quarterback carousal

When it comes to the Buffalo Bills, it’s often almost as important to keep track of their backup quarterback as it is to keep track of which player is starting at the position. The reason for this is simple. Since Jim Kelly retired after the 1996 season, no fewer than 14 different players have seen in-game action at quarterback for the Bills, many – if not most – of them backups or even third-stringers. Even in the franchise’s early-1990s heyday, when they…

Basketball

Zero titles or less: Looking back at Mike D’Antoni Suns

Moments after Game 6 of the Finals, after thinking about how great it was to see Dirk Nowitzki finally win a championship, I started thinking about the rest of the team. As I wrote a while back, the 2011 Mavericks were a team made up of people who had been close before but had never gotten over the hump. Nowitzki lost in the 2006 Finals and Jason Kidd’s Nets were defeated back-to-back in 2002 and…

Baseball

The overrated concept of closers in baseball

If the movie Major League taught us anything, it’s that hair is vitally important to the success of a closer in baseball. Charlie Sheen’s Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn rode a wild fastball and equally wild hair to the pennant. If a fictional character played by America’s biggest train wreck doesn’t convince you of the importance of closer hair, what more evidence do you need? Tiger blood? Obviously it worked for Jonathan Papelbon in 2006 but he’s been in a…

Hockey

History of skill and toughness defines WHL

The Western Hockey League might be the youngest of all in the CHL, but that hasn’t stopped it from becoming a top-notch developmental league. Since being sanctioned as the top junior league in western Canada in 1970, the WHL has won 18 of a possible 41 Memorial Cups and currently has the most teams out of any of the big three Canadian junior leagues. Known for producing tough, two-way players, the WHL certainly has an alumni list of…

Basketball

The Kardashian distraction: Lamar Odom and the Lakers’ implosion

The Los Angeles Lakers are coming off their least successful season in half a decade. With the greatest head coach of all time making his supposed victory lap, the two-time defending champions came up way short of expectations. Things were especially ugly at the end, with the Lakers squeaking past the New Orleans Hornets only to be swept by the champion Dallas Mavericks, routed heartily by 36 points in Phil Jackson’s final game. Sadly, the twice-reigning champs…

Football

Twists, turns and mediocrity: UNC football after Butch Davis

Starting last Wednesday, there were rumblings around the University of North Carolina football program that something was going to happen. Given the last year of scandal surrounding the program, there was a feeling that news probably wasn’t good. However, few predicted what it was going to be: the firing of head coach Butch Davis. Davis’ firing came at a curious time, as he spoke to the media just two days prior at the ACC Media Day and appeared to have…

Hockey

Outlook grim for Phoenix Coyotes

This offseason, Ilya Bryzgalov and the Phoenix Coyotes split due to the turbulence surrounding the ownership and the club. The world-class ‘tender grew tired of his team’s financial state and constant rumors of relocation. He leaves behind a Coyotes franchise who has nothing but charts of poorly executed and unproductive years to look at. What separates Phoenix from other lower end squads such as the New York Islanders is that after a 14-game losing streak, six different goalies, and…

Baseball

Life in the organization: Jays prospects battle one game at a time

A writer for Baseball America is on the phone. She asks for Jake Marisnick and Marcus Knecht. The two Blue Jays prospects are found next to one another in the Lansing Lugnuts’ home clubhouse. Earlier today, they were practicing a new handshake routine on the field. Now they sit and count the minutes before they need to shower and dress for the evening game against Beloit. The carpeted hallway outside the clubhouse is dimly lit and stained, leading down past a…