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The Toronto Raptors March 25, 2010

Posted by huymix in Sports.
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I’m a big Toronto Raptors fan and have been following them since my first year of university. I’ve been through the highs (Atlantic Division Champions) and the lows (drafting Araujo, the whole Vince Carter trade). If you are not following the Raptors as an existing fan, I cannot recommend following the Toronto Raptors this year because:

  • Effort. They do not play with a consistent level of effort. They tend to play to the level of their opponent. The problem is if that opponent raises their effort after the half, the Raps do not tend to rise with them. It’s all very frustrating.
  • Chris Bosh. He’s great, but why start watching him now and like the guy only to have him sign somewhere else in the summer? Let’s face it, no matter how great a city Toronto is, America does not cover games here and does not care to. They would rather watch some high school football over a Raptor’s playoff game. This lack of exposure and respect for Toronto pretty much means Bosh is out of here.
  • The Jays are looking pretty good. Young but good. The thing about the Raptors is that they seem to be a low-level Phoenix Suns and have hit a ceiling. I do not think that this group of people can ever play at a championship level. Maybe individually, but not as a team. The team’s potential is at best a second-round exit.

I do think Bryan Colangelo has done an awesome job taking over from Rob Babcock. He’s made smart and risky moves. However, that has not translated to a product that I can recommend to someone who is not already an established fan. Also, I’m sure Chris Bosh is a good guy so I don’t mean to make it seem like he’s being a jerk.

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The ’72 of 2010 March 23, 2010

Posted by huymix in Sports, Television.
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It’s sports time here on the Snuhzone. While there plenty of feel good stories about the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, I wanted to talk about what I’ve been calling the ’72 of 2010. If you were watching any of the Olympics you have to know about the gold medal game in men’s hockey between Team Canada and Team USA. This is quite possibly the biggest sports moment I have experienced because:

  • The loss to Team USA was scary. Ryan Miller was unstoppable, and Canada had to go through the Russians and 4 games to win it all. It signaled a changing of the guard between Marty Brodeur (even though in my opinion he is still the greatest goaltender in history) and Roberto Luongo. While, I didn’t like the way Brodeur got handled, ultimately it was for the best.
  • Seemingly everyone in Canada watched this game and was pulling for Canada. Unlike the NHL, a Canadian team never unifies anywhere close to as many people as this game did to unify Canadians.
  • Overtime and the overtime winner by none other than Kid Canada Sidney Crosby. About as storybook of an ending you could ever ask for, but in real life.

The whole tournament was a roller-coaster which culminated in Canadian sports history unlike anything I have seen. If the CTV Blu Ray has this game in full, I will have to get it. A big part of my memory was watching the game communally in a bar with my friends all intensely focused on the game. Everything else just cannot compare.

Brian Burke February 9, 2010

Posted by huymix in Celebrity, Sports.
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Brian Burke is the General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs and was previously the GM of the Stanley Cup Champions Anaheim Ducks a couple of years back. While his hockey moves can be controversial, there has been much made of him since his arrival midway last season. I do not believe Brian Burke is the man to turn the Toronto Maple Leafs around and is actually bad for the organization because:

  • His previous success is way overstated. Burke has been the GM of 1 Stanley Cup team. Unfortunately, not a lot of credit can really be turned his way because many of the key players were in place before he even arrived. He did bring in some key guys as well but most of the heavy lifting (ie. smart drafting of prospects) was done already. When he did GM for Vancouver for 6 years he never reached the finals. His overconfidence can definitely turn him into a JP Riccardi where he thinks he knows what’s best going forward because of some previous success.
  • Overstating his optimism to the fans. It’s funny to think before the season began what he said considering the Leafs 29th position in the league. Seriously, the team was only different in goaltending and some 3rd and 4th liners. The main exception was Kessel who is still a major unknown since the Leafs had no Marc Savard equivalent for him.
  • Unwilling to rebuild through the draft. Leaf fans are loyal enough that they can definitely afford to have a few bad seasons with the rebuilding process in place. Building through the draft is a tried and true method of sustaining success. Some of the best teams have done it this way: Penguins, Red Wings, Blackhawks and Boston. Some teams build through the draft poorly for sure (Atlanta and Edmonton) but those are more a reflection of the management and ownership rather than the method of building through the draft. Very few teams succeed long-term by trading many draft picks away.

Brian Burke’s individual moves will be scrutinized by the Toronto media rabidly and thoroughly. Deals are always done with significant uncertainty and there is no way of removing the uncertainty, you can only manage it. If you are a Leaf fan, I wish you good luck, for a Sens fan like me, I’ll just sit back and watch the ongoing Gong show that is Brian Burke and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Toronto Cyclists January 12, 2010

Posted by huymix in Politics, Sports.
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With a report that showed Toronto commute times doubling in the last 10 years, a lot of talk inevitably comes out that brings up: HOV lanes, more TTC subways/rapid transit/buses, and bike lanes. The last part comes from a relatively small, but highly vocal group of people and sometimes they have valid points. Unfortunately for Toronto cyclists, there are a few reasons why they are generally, and in the foreseeable future, dismissed by the public at large. While I can respect Toronto cyclists as people, there are a lot of reasons I dismiss them when they bring up bike lanes or other topics (generally all they talk about is bike lanes or that guy who stole a crap load of bikes):

  • All they ever talk about is bike lanes. They have the same problem that the Green Party had. The problem is that they are perceived to be a one-note group. So for the longest time the Green Party was a bit of a joke because all everyone thought the party platform was about the environment and not about other political issues. Toronto cyclists are perceived to be a broken record of “more bike lanes, more bike lanes, more bike lanes” and never really articulate anything else. That get’s played out very quick.
  • Attitude. Again I will draw a parallel here. Cyclists have the same problem as Prius drivers had (and many still have). If you cycle in to work everyday there is at least the perception (which may or may not be true) that you feel superior to those that drive. I’m not saying that everyone feels this way and that all cyclists do, but again the perception is out there for the group as a whole.
  • Cyclists play the victim card too much. Sympathy is a well that can go dry very quickly with the public (if there is any) and cyclists are too quick to dig for sympathy. What I mean is, a lot of representatives like to point out how dangerous it is to cycle in Toronto and how drivers are careless/rude/mean to cyclists which I’m sure is true. However, Toronto drivers are well aware of the dangerous and reckless cycling that goes on as well. When you see cyclists going ahead on a red or cycling between cars and sometimes hitting stuff any sympathy you have for cyclists quickly goes out the window.

At the end of the day, cyclists are a small but not insignificant group of commuters in Toronto. While bike lanes would probably help with improving cyclist safety, bike lanes will not solve the perception of Toronto cyclists. Anytime I hear someone is a cyclist I will generally reply with a “that’s good for you” but if anyone starts to moralize to me about how I should bike to work that’s when he or she will promptly be ignored.

Dany Heatley July 31, 2009

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Dany HeatleyfminusHeatleyMake no mistake, Dany Heatley can score. He is still one of the NHL’s top scorers and should be an F +. However, he’s an F -. Just a caution, he’s an F – for almost entirely personal reasons, so please do not comment back by just parroting back stats because he’s an F- in spite of his stats. Dany Heatley is an F – because:

  • He is screwing over the Ottawa Senators. The Sens are my team and this fact alone is enough for me to put him in the F – category. If Heater is going to demand a trade, and then a trade is on the table, but is vetoed by Heatley, how badly does he really want out? He’s preventing the Sens from getting maximum value in a trade.
  • To keep him is expensive. He gets about $10 M a year on his current contract. The Sens signed on the very talented Alex Kovalev who would in theory, be his replacement and score goals in bunches. The problem is, Kovalev is not cheap and neither is Heatley. So what you have are 2 expensive players and you can’t get rid of the one who wants to leave. That means the Sens can’t use that money to sign other players.
  • He relies a lot on Jason Spezza. Without Jason, his numbers would not be as high. Unfortunately, he doesn’t seem to acknowledge Jason’s contribution to his stats and overall success (he didn’t even show up to the guy’s wedding).

People talk about how Dany Heatley, if he stays this season with the Sens, will play well on the basis he’ll want to be on Team Canada for the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. I do not think it’ll play out that way since an unmotivated player is not so easily swayed. Also, even if that were true, what happens if he doesn’t make the team? Dany Heatley is going to be a drag. My advice is to ship him off to the L.A. Kings and hope he languishes there for the rest of his career.

The Ultimate Fighter (US vs UK) episode 10 June 4, 2009

Posted by crarence in MMA, Shows, Sports, Television.
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Last night was a particularly good episode of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF.) If you didn’t catch it, here are some of the highlights:

  • Really, what was Pierce thinking? The man knows that he’s on a reality TV show, surrounded by cameras watching and recording his every move and conversation. Why lie about his dealings withthe UK team when he can’t escape getting caught?
  • The first round between DaMarques and Nick was one of the best fights in any TUF season. DaMarques was leading for the first four and half minutes until Nick unleashed a salvo of punches at the end that left DaMarques reeling. I thought Nick could have finished the fight there, but DaMarques refused to give in. Good stuff.
  • It’s hard not to like DaMarques as the episodes roll on. The man hasĀ  a good blend of eloquence and smack talk. He’s a bit of a showboat, which I’m sure would annoy me if I was on the show with him. However, he’s also the top dog on that show and can back up anything he says. With Nick out, I can’t see Frank or James posing any real threat to him.

I wonder if there will be more spin-offs like this should ratings show that this season was successful – US vs Brasil? US vs Canada? East Coast vs West Coast? In the meantime, I’m going to hang on as the season nears the finish.

The Ultimate Fighter May 14, 2009

Posted by crarence in MMA, Shows, Sports.
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I remember a Saturday, years ago, when I was just enjoying a lazy afternoon. I was flipping through the channels when I stumbled across Spike TV as they were running The Ultimate Fighter3 marathon. After one episode, I was hooked, and I have enjoyed that TV series (and most things UFC) immensely over the years.

The basic idea behind the show is you have a group of aspiring mixed martial artists who are put into a house. They are separated into teams and coached by famous fighters. Each week, you get to see them train and face off against each other in elimination matches. At the end of the series, there is a sole winner (per weight category) who earns himself a 6 figure contract with the UFC. I like the show a lot because:

  • Unlike Wrestling, which I watched growing up, there is no script in the UFC. Everything is real – the fighting, the techniques, the rivalries, the emotions – it’s all genuine.
  • If you’re a fan of the UFC, it’s really cool to see how the famous coaches act outside of the octagon. Many of them act in a very different way than you might expect. For example, Tito Ortiz seems like a loud mouth braggart, but he may just be the best coach to date in the entire series. BJ Penn radiates confidence when he fights, but he made for a horrible leader on the show.
  • MMA is simply exciting to watch. There is a real science to the sport and it’s crazy when the underdog wins through superior technique or simply having a larger set of tools to beat a larger, more aggressive opponent.

MMA has really blown up over the years, and no small part of it is due to The Ultimate Fighter. If you want to see the next generation of champions get their shot at glory, you can buy the DVDs or follow the latest series Wednesday nights at 10:00PM on Spike.

Putting Edge May 14, 2009

Posted by huymix in Sports.
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Putting Edge golfingfplusPutting Edge LogoI’ve only been to Putting Edge a few times and each time I’ve had a good time. Obviously since Putting Edge is only mini-golf you can’t really take it seriously. I’ve found going to Putting Edge fun because:

  • As far as I can tell, each one has different themes. The different themes are fun to look at.
  • It adds elements of random fun. Specifically, on some holes you spin this thing and it makes you play a bit differently. For example, on one hole I had to bowl the ball with my hand instead of putt. Madness I say, madness. This type of madness I like.
  • It’s minigolf. Minigolf = fun.

The Putting Edge is a fun time. I’d say give it a shot, especially if you’re tired of doing the same ol’ same old.

Deadliest Warrior May 7, 2009

Posted by crarence in MMA, Shows, Sports, Television.
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At first, it’s hard for most guys not to enjoy SpikeTV’s new show Deadliest Warrior. It’s bursting with loads of testosterone goodness like weapons, blood, andĀ  explosions. Basically, they pick two warriors/soldiers/fighters from different eras and compare 4-5 weapons, have the expert hosts decide which weapon is superior, crunch the “data,” and re-enact a fight based on the results. While highly entertaining at first, the show quickly loses it’s sense of realism and scientific authority, and rapidly gets stale.

  • In an effort to keep you on the edge, the weapon match ups always end up being close, even when it makes no sense to do so. Deadly accurate throwing knives loses to Trident and net? Bomb with crushed glass to the eyes loses to Spear?
  • The re-enactments get sillier and sillier as the fighters have to carry most (if not all) the weapons that were showcased, or they conveniently find them behind a rock or something. Sometimes the fights are poorly choreographed too – at times a fighter is dominating but then leaves an opening or gives his opponent some recovery time that no-one in a real life would do.
  • They never take “skill” into account and assume it’s all about the weapons. For example, in Mafia vs Yakuza, they compare the nunchuks vs a baseball bat. The Yakuza expert clearly states that the nunchuks can be used to distract, disarm, and strike blows. And yet, the baseball wins due to the sheer damage it inflicts.

All in all, I’ll probably still keep watching the show because it does scratch that guy itch in me for senseless violence. I’ll just have to endure the tired format they’ve sunken themselves into. If you’re interested in checking it out, new episodes of Deadliest Warrior can be seen on Spike TV, Tuesdays at 10:00PM.

2008-2009 Montreal Canadiens April 24, 2009

Posted by huymix in Sports.
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Montreal CanadiensfminusMontreal Canadiens LogoIt’s been 100 years for the Montreal Canadiens. One of the most successful teams in all pro-sports. An amazing list of incredible hockey players. An amazing legacy. In their 100th season, what do produce? A big ol’ F- of a team. The non-Habs fan in me is happy they suck, but I’d much rather have my team put them down because its no fun watching a team implode. The 2008-09 version of the Canadiens deserved to impode because:

  • Guy Carbonneau was a wimp. I’m sorry but the coach does matter quite a bit. When the coach and the star players aren’t on speaking terms that’s gonna screw up the team chemistry for sure. Tone from the top matters, A LOT.
  • The fans are even worse than Leaf fans. What I mean is they are even more fickle, extreme and chant soccer chants. I love the passion, but the stupidity that accompanies the passion is sometimes too much.
  • Over relied on a very young goaltender (Carey Price). Goaltenders generally take a while to really develop. Very very few are elite level at Price’s age and he was overused this season.

I’m not a Habs fan in general. Most of the time they aren’t a team I care about one way or another. Even as a casual observer of the Canadiens, I could smell the stench of failure. Getting swept in the first round of the playoffs is a better send off for this disaster of a team. One thing to keep in mind, there are 11 unrestricted free agents on the team, so hopefully they can remake this team so it contains less suck. The ball is in your court Mr. Gainey, don’t screw it up.