Thursday, September 18, 2014

Farewell Captain!!

Check out the new Gatorade spot with Derek Jeter as he prepares to call it a career...

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Week 3 NFL Preview

Week 3 of the NFL season begins in Atlanta Thursday night with the Falcons taking on Tampa Bay, For a complete look at Week 3, click here

Josh Harding Suffers Setback

Days before the start of training camp, the Wild’s goaltending soap opera took an unforeseen twist.

Josh Harding, looking to resurrect himself after missing the second half of last season because of complications from multiple sclerosis, has been sidelined by an ankle injury.

Harding didn’t take part in the team’s captain’s practices the past two days at Xcel Energy Center, is walking with the use of crutches and will miss at least the start of training camp when players take the ice Friday, according to multiple sources. The injury occurred off the ice and blindsided a team eager to see if Harding could return to his dominant form of last year’s first half.

General Manager Chuck Fletcher returned to the Twin Cities from Michigan, where the Wild participated in a prospect tournament, on Tuesday night. On Wednesday, Fletcher is expected to talk with orthopedic surgeon Joel Boyd to determine the extent of Harding’s injury. Fletcher and coach Mike Yeo will meet Wednesday, a day before players report to St. Paul.

Harding, 30, is in the final year of a contract that pays him $2.1 million and led the NHL in goals-against average (1.66) and savespercentage (93.3%) although he played only 29 games.

Veteran Niklas Backstrom, the winningest goalie in Wild history with 189 victories, is 36 and coming off season-ending abdominal and hip surgeries. But he said last week he was healthy and confident he could return to the form of two seasons ago when he tied for the league lead with 24 wins.

“Backy’s kind of been the forgotten soldier right now,” Yeo said Monday before learning Harding was injured. “Nobody even talks about him. He’s won a lot of hockey games for us, there’s been many games where I know he stole games for us. He’s a guy who can come in and do that again this year. I think he’ll be motivated.”

The team has been playing hardball with unsigned restricted free-agent goalie Darcy Kuemper. The Harding injury could have implications on that negotiation. Kuemper wanted a one-year, one-way contract; the Wild offered a two-year deal, with the first year being a two-way and the second year being a one-way.

However, if Harding’s injury will keep him out long-term, the team may look to bring a veteran in on a tryout. In fact, Fletcher already reached out to Ilya Bryzgalov. After Kuem- per sustained a concussion last season, the 34-year-old Bryzgalov helped the Wild into the playoffs with a 7-1-3 record and 2.12 goals-against average. Last month Bryzgalov said he hoped to return to Minnesota, but Fletcher was uninterested because Harding and Backstrom were healthy.

Harding didn’t reply to a text message Tuesday. Last week, he sat down with the Star Tribune and discussed how great he felt on and off the ice.

“It’s one of those summers where everything clicked, and I feel even better than I did last summer and feel like I’m in better shape,” Harding said. “With the year of knowledge of what I’m dealing with, with a different mind-set and different mentality about what I did this offseason, I think it’s definitely going to help out tremendously.

“Physically, mentally, knowing everything that’s been working for me, I believe I’m going to show I’m capable of playing a full season.”

Last year, Harding was in the midst of a sensational season, reeling off 18 victories by Dec. 17 before missing a road trip for what doctors felt would be a minor adjustment to his MS treatment.

That season would be stopped in its tracks. He returned to start two games, including one where the Wild blew a three-goal lead to the Islanders. He didn’t play again after Jan. 1 — the second season in a row he missed significant time due to the debilitating illness.

It’s clear Harding had a relapse.

“Without going into big details, one plus one equals two. The changing of the medication, the changing of the treatment over the Christmas break, things happened and things happened quick,” Harding said.

Last week, Harding ironically said the only thing that has kept him from being an everyday No. 1 is health. Even before being diagnosed with MS, Harding was often derailed by injuries.

(Mpls Star-Tribune)

MLB Postseason Picture Sept 17

It was a lovely Tuesday night to be out and about along the Beltways. How often do you get a chance to celebrate division titles by two home teams in one night? The Orioles wrapped up their first American League East title since 1997 with a romp at home against the Blue Jays, and the Nationals made it twice as nice by chopping down the Braves in Atlanta to claim the National League East crown. All four leaders of the other divisions lost.

According to ESPN, Tuesday marked the third time since 1969 that two MLB teams from the same metro area clinched a division title on the same day. The last time it happened was in 2004, when the Angels and Dodgers clinched.
The closest division race moved the Pulse of the Postseason meter. The Tigers let a ninth-inning lead get away in Minnesota, but they maintained their 1 1/2-game AL Central lead when the Royals also were unable to hold a lead against the White Sox. Carlos Gomez and Hector Gomez manufactured the decisive run in the 12th inning of the Brewers' 3-2 victory in St. Louis, shaving the Cards' NL Central lead to 2 1/2 games over the Pirates and four over the Brew Crew.
With a 2-1 decision in Arizona behind Jake Peavy coupled with the Dodgers' 10-4 loss at Colorado, the Giants moved back within three games of Los Angeles' NL West lead. The A's and Royals in the AL and Giants and Pirates in the NL retained their Wild Card edges.

American League
Wild Card: Royals at A's
Division Series: Wild Card at Angels | Tigers at Orioles
National League
Wild Card: Pirates at Giants
Division Series: Wild Card at Nationals | Cardinals at Dodgers
• Postseason picture

Giants (Bumgarner, 18-9) at Diamondbacks (Chaffin, 0-0), 3:40 p.m. Preview
Giants turn to their ace, Madison Bumgarner, to keep the pressure on the Dodgers in the NL West race.
Nationals (Treinen, 2-3) at Braves (Wood, 10-10) 7:10 p.m. Preview
Even after clinching the division, the Nats have motivation in trying to finish with the league's best record for home-field advantage through the NL postseason.
White Sox (Sale, 12-3) at Royals (Ventura, 12-10), 8:10 p.m. Preview
It doesn't get any easier for the Royals as they bid to overtake the Tigers in the AL Central. Chris Sale (1.99 ERA) is simply dominant.
Tigers (Price, 14-11) at Twins (Gibson, 11-11), 8:10 p.m. Preview
David Price needs to lock into one of his familiar grooves with so much at stake for the Tigers.
Brewers (Fiers, 6-2) at Cardinals (Wainwright, 18-9), 8:15 p.m. Preview
Adam Wainwright is on a roll, driving his team to another postseason, but Mike Fiers has been just as good except for one highly unfortunate pitch to Giancarlo Stanton in his most recent outing.
Mariners (Paxton, 6-2) at Angels (Wilson, 12-9), 10:05 p.m. Preview
The Mariners are fighting for postseason survival, and James Paxton has been brilliant, while the runaway Angels are hoping Wilson finds and maintains consistent command.
Rangers (Holland, 1-0) at Athletics (Samardzija, 6-12), 10:05 p.m. Preview
Derek Holland has been virtually flawless (17 strikeouts, no walks, 0.68) since coming off the DL, and Rangers can get some spoilers' satisfaction against their rivals.

To calculate a team's magic number, take the number of games it has remaining and add one. Then subtract the difference in the number of losses between that team and its closest pursuer.
AL East: Orioles clinched on Tuesday
AL Central: Tigers 11 over Royals
AL West: Angels 2 over A's
AL Wild Card 1: A's 12 over Royals
AL Wild Card 2: Royals 12 over Mariners
NL East: Nationals clinched on Tuesday
NL Central: Cardinals 10 over Pirates
NL West: Dodgers 9 over Giants
NL Wild Card 1: Giants 10 over Pirates
NL Wild Card 2: Pirates 11 over Brewers

(MLB Media)

Regina Pats Tweak Logo

The Regina Pats Hockey Club is pleased to announce an update to its familiar logo. The clean new face of the franchise stays true to the Pats tradition, honouring the long, rich heritage of junior hockey in the Queen City.

“With all of the energy and investment being poured into the Pats brand, it was clear our identity deserved a minor re-work to improve its impact, design quality and legibility across a broad range of applications,” says Regina Pats President Todd Lumbard. The updated logo respects the immense value of the existing brand and repackages all of the elements Pats fans know and love in an energetic new visual.

This upgrade is just one of many still to come for a resurgent new Pats brand and signals a heightened level of pride, professionalism and a relentless commitment to winning working its way into every corner of the organization, sparked by the new ownership group. “This is not about a quick fix; we are making changes we believe will create long-term stability and success for this franchise and deliver outstanding value for our fans. We’re in this for the long haul,” comments Regina Pats Governor Anthony Marquart.

The updated design will begin to appear immediately in promotional items, advertising, signage, etc., with ongoing upgrades throughout the upcoming season and will culminate in all-new uniforms, set to appear at the start of the 2015 season.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Baseball's Post-Season Picture September 16

One down, nine to go. The Angels became the first team in the Major Leagues to clinch a postseason berth when they beat the Mariners, 8-1, in Anaheim on Monday night. They have a magic number of three to win the American League West. Meanwhile, the Nationals got closer, winning in Atlanta to cut their magic number in the National League East to two. A win Tuesday over the Braves on Tuesday and they're in. And the Orioles' number to clinch the AL East is down to one, which they can accomplish on Tuesday against the Blue Jays.
Got all that? Good. Because those are the obvious ones. The rest of the picture is still a bit muddled, especially in the AL Central and AL Wild Card races. The Royals did what they had to do in a big way on Monday, though, rallying in the bottom of the ninth inning to walk off with an improbable 4-3 win over the White Sox. Now Kansas City is still 1 1/2 games behind Detroit, which won Monday, in the AL Central, and two games up on Seattle for the second Wild Card slot. Idle Oakland remains in the first AL Wild Card position, a game up on the Royals.
In the NL, the Nationals got very close to clinching while the Dodgers inched nearer to that goal in the West. Los Angeles won big against Colorado while San Francisco lost to Arizona, giving the Dodgers a four-game division lead. Otherwise, all three of the NL Central contenders (St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Milwaukee) did not play Monday.
American League
Wild Card: Royals at A's
Division Series: Wild Card at Angels | Tigers at Orioles
National League
Wild Card: Pirates at Giants
Division Series: Wild Card at Nationals | Cardinals at Dodgers

Blue Jays (Hutchison, 10-11) at Orioles (Jimenez, 4-9), 7:05 p.m. 
Baltimore signed Ubaldo Jimenez  to a lucrative contract and he hasn't lived up to it yet, but he can make up for some of it here if he pitches his team to a win to clinch the AL East.
Nationals (Roark, 13-10) at Braves (Harang, 11-10), 7:10 p.m. 
Tanner Roark has been a huge factor in the Nationals' rotation this year, and he can log a memorable win in this game. Washington will clinch the NL East with a victory.
White Sox (Bassitt, 0-1) at Royals (Hendriks, 1-2), 8:10 p.m. 
The Royals will probably prefer to get the lead early and put the pressure on the young and inexperienced White Sox starter. They need to win to stay on the heels of Detroit in the AL Central race with the games running out.
Tigers (Porcello, 15-11) at Twins (Nolasco, 5-11), 8:10 p.m. 
Detroit has been taking care of business lately against lesser teams. They'll rely on Rick Porcello to keep that going with the Royals not giving an inch in the AL Central.
Brewers (Peralta, 16-10) at Cardinals (Lynn, 15-9), 8:15 p.m. 
The Brewers enter this series five games behind St. Louis in the Central and 1 1/2 games behind Pittsburgh for the second Wild Card slot in the NL. That says it all about how important this game is.
Mariners (Elias, 10-12) at Angels (Rasmus, 3-1), 10:05 p.m. Preview
The Mariners are not out of it, but they need a win here in a bad way after looking offensively stagnant the last three games. Cory Rasmus  has been excellent for the Angels and should prove tough to beat.

To calculate a team's magic number, take the number of games it has remaining and add one. Then subtract the difference in the number of losses between that team and its closest pursuer.
AL East: Orioles 1 over Blue Jays
AL Central: Tigers 12 over Royals
AL West: Angels 3 over A's
AL Wild Card 1: A's 13 over Royals
AL Wild Card 2: Royals 12 over Mariners
NL East: Nationals 2 over Braves
NL Central: Cardinals 10 over Pirates
NL West: Dodgers 9 over Giants
NL Wild Card 1: Giants 11 over Pirates
NL Wild Card 2: Pirates 12 over Brewers

Someone Wants The Argos!

Toronto Argonauts owner David Braley, facing heightened media criticism over the team’s uncertain future, said that Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment are not the only ones in the picture to buy the Argos.

Braley said he has been approached by two new potential bidders.

Just two weeks ago, a prospective buyer emerged with the idea of setting up the Argos as a not-for-profit corporation. The economic model would be similar to the community-owned teams which are successfully run in the Western Division.

“I’m trying to evaluate how that one would work,” Braley said.

Another offer came in about six months ago, and Braley is not sure how strong the proposal is.
MLSE, the owner of the Maple Leafs, Marlies, Raptors and Toronto FC, approached Braley last year, but made no offer and there are no current discussions.

Braley is interested in working out a lease for city-owned BMO Field with MLSE, which manages the stadium. The stadium, which is home to the soccer team, has natural grass and would provide a more intimate fan experience.

For the not-for-profit idea to work, there would have to be enough interest in the community for each party to buy a share in the team so there is enough working capital.

In this scenario, Braley wouldn’t necessarily give up ownership.

“What might happen is I just might end up with the lease with Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment and I own the team,” Braley said. “My job is to find a place for the team to play, and the only place that I can see where the team can play right now is BMO Field.”

The Argos’ lease at the Rogers Centre runs out at the end of the 2017 season.

The cavernous stadium, when it’s not getting 40,000 to 50,000 fans, doesn’t make for a fun football experience and a smaller, 20,000 to 25,000-seat venue would be a better fit.

New cozy stadiums in Hamilton, Ottawa, Montreal and Winnipeg are seen as the new frontier for the CFL.
Braley, who is 73 and owns the B.C. Lions as well, has said he wants to sell one team before he turns 75. Most of the speculation is that Braley would unload the Argos.

Not so fast.

“Maybe the Lions get sold first and I still own the Argonauts until I can fix them,” he said. “There’s nothing cast in stone. Whatever is good for the team. Whatever is good for the league, and whatever is good for the city of Toronto and B.C., that’s how it’s going to happen.”

The smart money has MLSE buying the Argos (both sides have a partnership already allowing the team to practise at Downsview Park next to the Toronto FC training facilities) and move them to BMO Field.

However, some critics suggest the window might close because MLSE president and CEO Tim Leiweke has announced he will be leaving by June 2015, or until a successor is appointed. The other moving part is that CFL commissioner Mark Cohon has announced he won’t be seeking another term after his contract expires in April.

“I’ve never had a negotiation with a football team while the season is on,” Braley said, adding he doesn’t want to cause a distraction to the 3-8 Argos.

Braley bristled at criticism he is running the Argos on a shoestring budget. Some players have complained that they were unhappy with the changing practice facilities.

“Financially, (the Argos) have all the money they need,” Braley said. “They have brand new practice facilities. We were two weeks getting into them, yes, I apologize. I had no choice.”

Braley is deeply troubled by the sagging fortunes of North America’s oldest professional football club.

The team is not a success at the gate or on the field.

“Right now, the marketing has been somewhat less than adequate,” Braley said.

Braley doesn’t disagree with critics who say he is to blame for the attendance woes that have crippled the team pretty much since he bought the franchise in 2010.

“I’m not doing a good enough job,” he said. “Isn’t that the truth? We haven’t sold enough tickets. We haven’t sold enough sponsorships. I have to take the blame. That’s my job to hire the people do it, and that’s why we’re making changes in those people.”

(Toronto Star)