views from canada’s left coast

views on movies, sports, and politics

I can no longer dislike Bernard Hopkins

Prior to this weekend I disliked Bernard Hopkins as a person, as far as his public image goes, and as a boxer because of his overly defensive style. After this past weekend, I have an enormous amount of respect for Bernard Hopkins and I will listen more carefully to what he says in public.

Hopkins did not just defeat Kelly Pavlik this past Saturday, he absolutely destroyed him. You might think that any time a boxer makes it to the final bell that he cannot have been totally destroyed, but I think the fact that Pavlik lasted 12 rounds just furthered his complete and total destruction. Hopkins won almost every minute of the fight. Pavlik was bloodied, bruised, and completely exhausted by the end of the fight. Hopkins may have been able to press harder and actually knock Pavlik out, but that does not seem to have ever been Hopkins style. Hopkins executed a brilliant tactical fight, and at no time did he seem to deviate from his plan, which was to counter punch effectively, stay away from Pavlik’s power right hand, and score quick one or two punch shots before getting out of harm’s way.

Bernard Hopkins deserves now, and he most likely deserved before, to go down as one of the greatest fighters of his generation. As a 43 year old man, Hopkins totally dominated a 26 year old undisputed champion. I think that Pavlik can still have a long successful career ahead of him, but he really needs to develop some more as a fighter before he can be considered great. Hopkins is clearly nearing the end of his career, but I think that with his brilliant performance this past Saturday he deserves a couple more big money fights. Hopkins has proven that he can still excite a crowd if his opponent’s style is such that it allows him to excel.

Though I think that Joe Calzaghe will likely defeat Roy Jones in their upcoming fight, and Hopkins has said he wants to fight the winner, I would rather see Hopkins fight Jones regardless of the outcome of the fight. Jones and Hopkins should have fought a rematch around a decade ago, but it is better late than never, and the end is nearing for both of these great fighters. Hopkins and Jones may be old, they may only be half of what they were in their primes, but they can both still put on exciting fights, and I for one would love to see them do battle.


October 21, 2008 Posted by | Sports | , , , | Leave a comment

Scott Richmond should be happy to be a Jay and we should be happy for him

There has been a lot made of J.P. Ricciardi’s decision to bring up 28-year old Canadian rookie pitcher Scott Richmond and take away his chance to pitch for Canada at the 2008 Olympic games. Most of what I have read is people complaining about the Jays decision. I think that it is a great opportunity for Richmond, one that he certainly could never pass up. While it would be great to play for your country at the Olympics, I would imagine that for a pro baseball player there is nothing greater than playing in the big league.

Some people think that Richmond should have either been called up earlier, given a few starts and then allowed to go to Beijing, or he should have gone to Beijing and been a September call-up. Ricciardi decided to bring up Richmond because he wanted John Parrish to move to the bullpen to cover for lefty Brian Tallet, who is on the 15-day disabled list. Clearly Ricciardi did not have to call up Richmond. Brian Wolfe could have taken Tallet’s spot in the bullpen. The reasoning that the Jays needed another lefty in the pen is pretty weak, as they already have Scott Downs and Scott Carlson, and Tallet is not very good against lefties anyway. Regardless, Richmond now gets an extended period of time to prove that he has major league type talent. His first two starts have been solid efforts, even though he is 0-1, he gave his team a chance to win in both outings, and the Jays did pick up the victory in Richmond’s second start.

So while Richmond misses out on the Summer Olympics he could be cashing in big time. If he continues to pitch well he may pitch his way onto the Jays roster for 2009, or he may catch on some place else. Earning major league minimum pay cheques is also a nice perk for anyone.

August 7, 2008 Posted by | Sports | , , | Leave a comment

Jays should give up and unload some veterans

The baseball non-waiver trade deadline is this Thursday, July 31st at 1pm pacific time. The Blue Jays going into tonight are one game above .500, 8.5 games back in the AL East and 7.5 games back in the wild card race. I think that the Jays are done for the year and should try to move some underperforming veterans for some young talent that might help them next year, or the year after.

All the trade talk surrounding the Blue Jays is about A.J. Burnett. In tonight’s game Burnett went 7 strong innings, giving up one run and striking out 10. Burnett has either been unhittable this season, or downright awful. At approximately $12 million per season Burnett is not too expensive for a number two pitcher, but he so far has never had an entire season where he performed up to expectations, though this season he is certainly coming close. I would still trade Burnett though if the offer was right. The Jays could use one or two younger arms in return, or a good shortstop or second base prospect. Aaron Hill is only very slowly recovering from post-concussion syndrome, he is lost for this season, and possibly for even longer, you just never know with concussions.

One name that never comes up, but could benefit a contending team is Scott Rolen. The Minnesota Twins are reportedly looking for a third baseman with Adrian Belte of the Mariners being the name that comes up most often. Both Beltre and Rolen are under contract for next year for similar money. Beltre is hitting a little better than Rolen this season, but Rolen arguably offers better defense. The Blue Jays might also be willing to part with Rolen for a lesser package than it would take to get Beltre. Marco Scutaro could take over at third base with Eckstein and John MacDonald getting more playing time at shortstop. I feel that Rolen has been a big bust this season and is not a very good long term option for the Jays at third base. If they could get back maybe on top notch prospect and a couple of lesser prospects then I would move Rolen in an instant.

Several lesser names on the Jays roster may get moved before the deadline. Eckstein’s name has come up often, though as a rental player with little upside he would not yield much in return. Even a lower level propsect would be a good enough return in my view though. Eckstein is not playing much in Toronto, he is a class act and deserves the chance to play more regularly somewhere else.

There has been some talk of Rod Barajas going to the Florida Marlins who are in desperate need of a catching upgrade. If I were the Jays I would want to hold onto Barajas and focus on signing him to an extension. The Jays have several catching prospects in their system with Robinson Diaz or J.P. Arrencibia expected to be the catcher of the future. Neither Diaz or Arrencibia seems ready for prime time next year though, so Barajas would be usefuly as a starter for next season and then in a platoon roll as one of the young catchers develops into starter status. It would be great if the Jays could move Greg Zaun, he is not getting much playing time with the Jays and like Eckstein he has always been a class act and deserves more playing time somewhere else. The problem with Zaun is that he is on the downside of a mediocre career and would probably not be considered an upgrade by many major league teams.

If the Jays truly want to unload and rebuild their farm system they could move some of the arms out of their bullpen. Brian Tallet was an option until today when he went on the 15 day disabled list. Scott Carlson would probably draw some attention as a very low cost lefty specialist. Jason Frasor has been decent this season and could be of help to many contenders. I would think that Scott Downs is untouchable, and B.J. Ryan is unlikely to move, largely because he still has two years left on his contract at very big money and the Jays do not have anyone else to take his place as closer. I would not worry about moving too many arms out of the Jays bullpen. Jeremy Accardo should be back before the end of this season, and Casey Janssen will hopefully be ready for the beginning of the 2009 season. Brandon League and Brian Wolfe have been decent this season. The Jays have a very deep, very cheap bullpen, even with the long-term injuries they have had this season.

I do not expect any big moves from the Blue Jays. I think that J.P. Ricciardi cannot give up on this season and have any hope of keeping his job. I also do not think that Ted Rogers would want Ricciardi dismantling the team and starting anew if he is only going to fire Ricciardi in the off-season. I think that Eckstein might go, and maybe someone from the bullpen, but that big names like Burnett and Rolen will stay put. Hopefully, Ricciardi will be gone early in the off-season and a new general manager will make a few moves to improve the underperforming, highly frustrating Blue Jays.

July 28, 2008 Posted by | Sports | , , , , | Leave a comment

Jason Krog? What the heck?

It seems as if Mike Gillis is now signing players in the hopes that someone will work out as a legitimate offenseive threat for an offensively challenged Canucks squad. Krog put up some great numbers in the AHL last year, but he has never managed to do much at the NHL level. Based on his 07/08 stats, Krog appears to be a setup man (39g, 73a, 112p), which is not what the Canucks really need, they need someone who can put the puck in the net. Krog is also small at 5’11” and 185 lbs. Maybe he will be able to be a productive member of the team, but he seems like another small centre with limited upside when the Canucks need a big, strong centre who will drive to the net.

At centre the Canucks now have Henrik Sedin, Kyle Wellwood (who could play wing), Pavol Demitra (he also plays wing), Ryan Kesler, and Ryan Johsnon, not exactly going to strike fear in the hearts of opposing defenders and goalies.

July 14, 2008 Posted by | Sports | , | Leave a comment

Morrison’s exit a good thing

The Canucks have now officially lost the old core of their team with Brendan Morrison signing with the Anaheim Ducks. I think that the Ducks gave Morrison too much money, and I am not convinced that he is still capable of playing at the level of a second line centre. I am not convinced that he was ever really that good, or if he just benefited from playing with Naslund and Bertuzzi in their primes. I am not overly thrilled that the Canucks have lost Naslund and Morrison and replaced them with Kyle Wellwood and Steve Bernier, but mabey there is a silver lining is this giant shit cloud.

Even when the Canucks were one of the league’s top teams they never managed to go anywhere in the playoffs. We now basically have a new team, almost everyone on the team now was not around back when the Canucks were tearing up the league. There is a new core to the team, and hopefully a new direction. The Canucks have not gone with a youth movement since, well since as long as I can remember, which goes back about 15 years. Upfront the Canucks will have the Sedins, Bernier, Wellwood, Pyatt, Raymond, Kessler, Burrows, Johnson, Hordichuck, Cowan, Pettinger, and maybe Grabner and Shannon.

The Sedins really are first line type players. They end up in the top 30 in scoring every year, and whoever ends up playing with them will be able to put up 20-35 goals. Kessler and Burrows make up two thirds of a great third line that can shut down other top lines and still score a few goals. Maybe Pyatt fits in on the third line, maybe Pettinger. The fourth line should be Johnson, Hordichuk, and Cowan, which makes for a very scrappy, yet disciplined fourth line. The problem spot is on the second line. A potential second line is Wellwood, Raymond, and Grabner, which could be very explosive. Grabner had a decent season last year with the Moose (22g, 22a). Raymond showed that he was ready to bust out at the NHL level. Wellwood has something to prove to himself and the rest of the league, so you would think that he would be playing with everything he’s got.

I am trying to find some positive way to spin Mike Gillis’ lack of action this off season. The Canucks still have a very strong defence, and one of the best goalies in the league. The Sedins are still very good players, and Bernier could be a great fit with them. Kessler and Burrows make up one of the better third lines in the league. The second line is a work in progress, but it is not like the Canucks had any secondary scoring to work with last year either.

July 8, 2008 Posted by | Sports | , | Leave a comment

make that “Indecisive, Stupid Mike” instead of “Mad Mike”

Now that Markus Naslund has signed with the New York Rangers (2 years, $8 million dollars) the Vancouver Canucks are left with essentially no options but to improve their offense via a trade. Even if Mats Sundin decides to accept Vancouver’s ludicrous offer he will not turn the team around on his own. Sundin will need someone to play alongside him, and Vancouver currently has no one that can do that. Mason Raymond should continue to develop but I would not want to count on him to be a top six forward just yet.  Michael Grabber might also be able to crack the lineup this year, but definitely not as one of the Canucks top scoring players. Naslund would have fit nicely with Sundin, but Naslund wisely moved on to greener pastures.

The Canucks waited too long in pursuing players other than Sundin. I am not sure if they really had much of a chance with most players out there, but guys like Miroslav Satan, Ruslan Fedotenko, Michael Ryder, Brian Rolston, and Kristian Huselius all would have added some offence without breaking the bank. I do not think that anyone in this free agent crop is really all that great, but Vancouver needs some help, and so far all Gillis has done is retool his fourth line.  I think that Hordichuk is a good pickup, his muscle will be helpful, but we will not need any tough guys to protect a team that is made up entirely of third and fourth line grinders.

I think that the Canucks do have enough defensive depth that they can make a significant trade. Ohlund, Salo, and Mitchell would all likely yield something in return, and they could even package one of them with Bieksa or Edler if they were after some real offensive help. They would then have to sign someone else to play defense, but they could go with pretty much anyone (Mike Weaver, Aaron Miller, or someone of their ilk).

The worst possible thing that could happen now is that Sundin takes the Canucks offer and we struggle through another season and miss the playoffs.  Sundin is not the answer on his own. He is a point per game player, and is more of a setup guy than a goal scorer.  The Canucks have no finishers, at all. They need two or three offensive players to step in, not just Mats Sundin. Maybe Gillis has a plan after all. It could be that the offer to Sundin was just to make it seem like Vancouver was trying to improve the team. Maybe Gillis intends to give some young guys a chance to prove themselves this year, and then spend big next year when hopefully there is more available on the free agent market.

If the Canucks want to win a Stanley Cup the time is now.  Roberto Luongo is one of the best goalies in the league, if not the best. He has two years left on his contract, and if Vancouver has not won a cup by then, or at least been deep in the playoffs, I cannot see Luongo resigning with Vancouver. Right now Vancouver is wasting the talent of their best player, and maybe the best player that they have ever had.

July 3, 2008 Posted by | Sports | , , , | Leave a comment

Mike Gillis is the new “Mad Mike”

I was very excited to wake up today, not just because it is Canada Day, but also because it is free agent day in the NHL. I had to make sure that I was actually awake when I saw that the Vancouver Canucks under new GM Mike Gillis have apparently offered Mats Sundin a 2-year deal worth $20 million dollars. I am not sure exactly how bonuses factor into the salary cap, but I do know that they definitely count against the cap, just maybe not all at once.  Regardless, the Canucks have about $20 million in cap space, and they are trying to blow half of that on Mats Sundin.

Sundin is a good player, no longer great, but still very good. Look at his numbers lately though, he has about the same production as Daniel Sedin. If the Canucks are able to get David Backes on the offer sheet they signed him to, and Sundin signs with them, they would have about $7.5 million left to spend.  The Canucks need more than just Mats Sundin and David Backes to turn this team into a real contender.

I think extending the offer sheet to David Backes was a smart move on Gillis’ part.  The Mats Sundin offer is completely crazy though.  Sundin is a point per game player who is a better setup guy than a goal scorer. The Canucks do not really have anyone to play with Sundin unless they think that Kyle Wellwood will have a complete turn around this season.

I hope that Sundin rejects the Canucks offer (I think that Sundin would much rather stay on the East Coast). What the offer to Sundin could do is show other free agents that the Canucks are very serious about bringing in some new people. Maybe more people will listen to the Canucks after seeing the big offer that they made to Sundin.  If Sundin does accept the Canucks offer then forget about contending seriously for the next two years.  There are too many holes on the team this year, and the Sedins are only under contract for one more season.  The Sundin money is the money that would be needed to resign the Sedins.  Maybe Gillis is planning on making some trades if Sundin signs with the Canucks. We can only hope that Mike Gillis has a detailed plan for the team, because if he does not, Vancouver Canucks fans could be in a for a rocky couple of years.

July 1, 2008 Posted by | Sports | , , , | Leave a comment

A weekend of boxing

For the first time in a couple of months I watched a significant number of boxing matches over the weekend.  I was excited to see Chris Arreola and Chazz Witherspoon fight, two young, undefeated American heavyweights. I have seen Arreola fight a few times and I really like his style.  He comes right at you, constant pressure, with good power, and a solid chin.  I think that Witherspoon could be a good fighter, but he lacks the power to back a guy like Arreola off.  Anyone with a strong chin, and good power can walk right through guys like Witherspoon and that is just what Arreola did.

There is some controversy surrounding the end to the fight. Witherspoon was disqualified when his corner stepped into the ring before the official end of round 3.  Witherspoon was knocked down with about 5 seconds to go in round 3, he beat the count and stood on very weak legs. Referee Randy Phillips did not seem to be aware that time had expired in the round.  Phillips should have quickly declared the round over, and then Witherspoon’s corner could have entered the ring and helped Witherspoon to his corner.  I have no problem with the stoppage, but it is unfortunate that the result is a DQ win for Arreola and not a TKO.   Witherspoon’s corner should count their blessings and be happy that Chazz did not go out for the 4th round where he almost certainly would have gotten clocked a couple of more times and then the fight would have been over.  I am always amused with boxers and their handlers who complain about stoppages when they probably just got a huge break.  It is sad to see a fight go on to long and watch one guy get his head totally beat in.  Once it is clear that a guy is going to lose the fight it is the right thing for the referee, doctor, or the corner to stop the fight.

Another exciting fight was the Arthur Abraham vs Edison Miranda rematch.  I am not sure if Abraham’s convincing knockout win proves that he is a good fighter, or whether it just proves that Miranda is not a world class type of fighter.  Miranda lost convincingly to both Pavlik and Abraham, proving that he cannot match up to top notch competition.  I think that Pavlik has proven himself to be an exceptional fighter by defeating Jermain Taylor twice.  Abraham is going to have to beat someone of Taylor’s pedigree in order to be considered an elite fighter in my view.

The last fight that I watched was the Amir Khan vs Michael Gomez slugfest from the UK.  Khan has quickly been moving up the lightweight ranks.  The fight with Gomez was fast paced and really exciting.  Gomez and Khan were both down early in the fight.  I think that Gomez is the type of fighter that could probably get up after almost any punch and continue fighting, but that just means that he takes an unneccessary beating.  Khan went down from a hard left hook but never looked like he was truly in danger of losing the fight, just that he had to weather a couple of difficult rounds.  I loved Khan’s speed, he looked great in the ring, and adapted well to Gomez’s constant pressure.  I look forward to seeing Amir Khan face some of the big names in the lightweight division.

June 23, 2008 Posted by | Sports | , , , , | Leave a comment

Welcome back Cito

Was very happy today to read that the Blue Jays have finally decided to do something serious about their quickly fading season and fire John Gibbons.  It is not too late to salvage the season, but the Jays need to start to win now and put together a strong winning streak.  Even if the Jays continue to struggle, hopefully Gaston can get some better play out of most players so that some of them might have some trade value before the July 31st trade deadline.

Cito Gaston is a hero to many Blue Jays fans, myself included.  I was just a boy when the Jays won their two World Series titles so my view of Cito Gaston is clouded by youth and inexperience.  I have to remind myself that Gaston did do a great job with a very talented team, but he also presided over an amazing fall from grace for the Blue Jays.  Teams in the mid-90s were pretty terrible.  Regardless, Gaston has the most wins of any manager in Jays history.  His status on this ball club should guarantee instant respect from his players.

The only member of the coaching squad that did not lose their job today was Brad Arnsberg, and rightly so given how good the Jays pitching has been this year.  It is nice to see that the entire coaching staff has been overhauled.  Most of the replacements are guys who used to coach with the Jays during Cito Gaston’s time.  The coaching changes might not be able to get this Jays team motivated, but at least now JP Ricciardi can say that he is doing everything he can to win.

Praise be to Cito, may he once again lead the Blue Jays to the promised land.

June 20, 2008 Posted by | Sports | , , | Leave a comment

Blue Jays have to win now

I haven’t written about sports or movies on here for a while, so today I thought I would rant a bit about the Blue Jays.

The Jays are currently 35-36, clearly a record that is not going to get them into the playoffs, but more importantly it is a record that will require quite an incredible run down the stretch to make the playoffs. The Jays sit 8.5 games back of Boston today; I would say that gap is too big to close.  The Red Sox are too good to go on a prolonged losing streak, so even if the Jays play great, there is little to no chance that the Red Sox will play poorly enough for the Jays to catch them.

The current wild card leader in the AL is the Tampa Bay Rays.  The Jays sit 6 games back of the Rays. Currently the Rays winning percentage is .580, which might be a little higher than they end the season at, but I feel confident in saying that the eventual wild card winner is going to have a winning percentage of at least .550.  The percentage works out to 89 wins, not a very high total, the eventual winner will likely have a couple more than that.  The Jays currently have 35 wins, there are 91 games left to play.  To reach 90 wins, the Jays need to win 55 out of the remaining 91 games, a winning percentage of .604.  That is not an impossible number to achieve, but it does mean winning pretty much every series from now to the end of the season.

Based on the above numbers I would give the Jays one, maybe two more weeks, before I totally right them off for the year.  Hopefully the Jays can play a little better over the next couple of weeks, and maybe make a move for some offensive help in early to mid-July, when they still might have time to salvage the season.  A.J. Burnett is great trade bait.  He has thrown some really dominant games this season, and some really trash efforts as well.  Burnett is still young enough, and still exhibits enough potential that he could be packaged with a couple of young pitchers for a real impact bat.  I think that Adam Dunn would be a nice fit, but would only be a rental unless the Jays think they could resign the impending free agent (he is likely to command too much money for the Jays to sign him to a new deal, and they already have lots of money tied up in Wells and Rios in the outfield).

I just hope that the Jays either play some winning ball in the next couple of weeks, or if they continue to hover around .500, that they can make some moves to dump some salary and maybe bring in some decent prospects.  Veterans like Kevin Mensch, Brad Wilkerson, Shannon Stewart, David Eckstein, Matt Stairs, and Gregg Zaun, could all either be moved, or take some time on the bench while guys like Adam Lind and Robinson Diaz get some playing time.  Maybe even Travis Snider will get a call up late in the season, just to give him a taste of the big show.

And one last thought, if the Jays season really is over by the middle of July, it would be nice to see them finally make the two key moves that they have repeatedly failed to make over the last couple of years and fire John Gibbons and J.P. Ricciardi.

June 15, 2008 Posted by | Sports | , , | 1 Comment