Canada and Mexico Brawl at World Baseball Classic

And they said the World Baseball Classic didn’t matter.

I would’ve expected this in the game between the United States and Mexico last night, their history is way more instances of hostility than with the peace-loving Canadians.

Mexico got upset after Canadian catcher Chris Robinson, bunted for a single with Canada leading 9-3. Within the MLB culture, there is an unwritten rule that frowns on players bunting when their team has a huge lead, but in the WBC every run counts and can aid in settling tiebreakers, so the Mexicans anger was misplaced.

So I’ll let the video pick it up from there, it was pretty exciting check it out.

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NHL Lockout 2013 – Enough is Enough!

Only days away from the start of 2013, the NHL’s highest watched game the Winter Classic is canceled.  The All-Star game is cancelled.  The first quarter of the season is already dead and gone and there is no clear path to the rest of the season if there is a 2013 season.

It is hard to find a favorite when millionaires are battling millionaires.  So I will dislike both sides.  The side I will take is the side of the fans whose average salary is about $40k per year.  They are the people who go to the games watch the games on TV and decorate their houses with the colors of their favorite team.

I have three young children, I would love to pass my love of the NHL along to them but I cannot.  This is not my fault it is theirs.  If the NHL loses this young generation they will remain that “other’ league that is at the bottom of the four major sports leagues in the US forever.

The owners and players are fighting over pieces of a very small pie.  If they get back on the ice they can fight over a much bigger pie which would be good for all parties.

Including the fans.

The only real hope is that one or more of the player’s hot wives or girlfriends says that they are giving it up until they bring home a paycheck.

Drugs In Sports

It comes as no surprise to anyone, anymore when high-profile athletes get busted for drugs. Sports headlines are filled with players testing positive for Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) or having run-ins with the law for illegal substances. This last week has been a terrible week for athletes and drugs.

In the sport of baseball, steroids have dominated the news for years. Names and legacies of Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Jose Conseco and so many more will forever be linked to scandals involving steroids. This week we saw two other big name baseball players test positive and get suspended for use of PEDs, namely synthetic testosterone. Melky Cabrera of the Giants and Bartolo Colon of the A’s both received 50-game suspensions for testing positive to the banned substance.

Whenever players get busted for such substances in the sport of baseball it spurs on a lot more talk and speculation about other players in the sport. ESPN analyst (or clown, depends on what you think of him), Skip Bayless alluded this week that he believed that the only way Derek Jeter is playing so well in the twilight of his career is because of the use of PEDs. We may never know but I do believe that it goes without being said, that there are rampant steroid, testosterone and PED problems in the game of baseball.

But is baseball the only sport with such problems?

What seems like such a simple questions tends to start varying arguments. There have been cases of juicing in professional football, cycling and even Olympic athletes. These cases tend to be smaller or somewhat brushed aside by the media but have happened.

One particular case that hasn’t been brushed aside by the media is the case of Lance Armstrong. Believed by many to be the best cyclist of all time, and even some would claim the best athlete of all time, Armstrong has been battling claims of steroid use for years and years. After winning 7 Tour de France titles, battling cancer and running one of the most successful athlete-run foundations, Armstrong has been held in high esteem his entire career. Yet claims that he was using PEDs have somewhat altered the trajectory of his legacy.

Armstrong had been fighting against the USADA (United States Anti-Doping Angency) for quite some time when Thursday night he called it quits. He said he would not fight the claims any more. He never fully confessed guilt but that is the way it is being judged by the general population. The USADA will strip Armstrong of his titles and he will be banned from the sport of cycling for life.

Despite this trouble, no one can take from Armstrong what he has done to inspire people worldwide through his foundation or just his story alone.

Performance Enhancing Drugs are not the only type of drugs that athletes find themselves getting in trouble with. In fact, in a lot of sports steroids seem to be almost completely absent. In the sport of basketball, for instance, there has been very little talk of these performance enhancing drugs. Why?

Gerald Green of the Indiana Pacers was quoted saying, “Steroids make you too big, you need to be fluid to play basketball. You’d be too slow if you used steroids in the NBA. Honestly I don’t think steroid use happens in basketball at all.”

This isn’t to say that the game of basketball is necessarily a clean and wholesome sport, full of role models and upstanding citizens. Basketball is a sport riddled with marijuana use and players getting DUIs. The people here in Portland are all too familiar with such circumstances.

Throughout the “Jail Blazer” era, the local sports media was plastered almost daily with a new drug arrest. Literally, there were multiple players arrested for possession of marijuana. Some even tried to get through airport security with their “calming medicine” wrapped in tin foil.

I am not saying that anyone is perfect and I am really not trying to be the moral police for professional athletes, they will do what they want, because they have been blessed with the money and ability to have access to anything. But that is exactly my point. As members of the media, sports fans, or even really coaches of the teams, there is very little that can be done to alter these athletes’ decisions.

Yes, the media can go on and on about certain players and scandals. Yes, fans could boycott games or even certain products. Yes, coaches and organizations could fine, suspend or trade a player. But we have seen over and over again that these things don’t happen, and if they do, they don’t factor into the decision making of the athletes.

The only thing I really wish for in a time like this is for a little perspective. These athletes live in a whole different world than the rest of us. They get paid more, live in better neighborhoods and have access to things the masses don’t have. A lot of fans see them as gods, heroes, idols but really they are just entitled individuals that will make decisions for themselves, no matter what you think.

So next time a steroid scandal rips through the local or national news, just remember that these athletes are part of a sport that is for our entertainment. Don’t get wrapped up in the scandal and investigation. It really means nothing. Just flip to the next channel and watch the game that’s on, and don’t worry about who is and who isn’t juicing.

 

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Game Theory’s Value in Fantasy Football

Jonathan Bales is the author of Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Dominate Your Draft—the #1 ranked football book in the world. He writes for the New York Times. You can purchase his 2012 fantasy football rankings for $2.99.

After Robert accepted my invitation to dominate his Dollarnaire Fantasy Football League, I posted part of a chapter from my book Fantasy Football for Smart People here at BSO. That was Part I, and this is Part II.

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Game Theory’s Value in Fantasy Football

A few years ago, I was discussing an upcoming fantasy draft with my dad (who is part of my dynasty league and was new to the game that year).  He mentioned he was thinking of taking Bears running back Matt Forte with the second overall selection.  At that time, Forte wasn’t going in the first few rounds of drafts (he was ranked No. 43 overall by ESPN that year).

Naturally, I asked him why he would draft Forte so high.  “Because he’s going to score the second-most points,” he quickly replied.

Seems straightforward enough, and if we use a traditional draft strategy (and even a complex one such as VORP), Forte might be the guy to whom the numbers lead. If my dad had him ranked far ahead of the third option such that Forte’s value made him an outlier among running backs, conventional fantasy football draft strategy says to draft him.

But we all know that isn’t right. You don’t win championships by selecting fourth-round projected players in the top two picks, even if you think they will lead the league in points. So it’s quite obvious we need to implement game theory into our draft strategies, even if it is in the form of a quick comparison to consensus rankings. The beliefs of the competition must affect our decisions. The extent to which we can utilize game theory and the methodology we employ to do so will be the subject of later analysis.

You’re So Predictable

There’s a final component of complex fantasy football draft strategy, and it is two-pronged. Predictability in fantasy football is absolutely vital to draft success, and it is one of the most overlooked aspects of the process. By predictability, I mean the ability to correctly assess the consistency inherent to particular positions, as well as each player within a position.

Let’s take an example. Suppose the top defense in fantasy football scores an obscene amount of points in a given year (we’ll again say 1,000), and all other defenses are very far behind. Securing the No. 1 defense in this hypothetical scenario obviously holds tremendous value. Do so, and you basically win the league.

Also note a draft strategy that combines VORP and game theory would lead to the hypothetical selection of your top-rated defense at every draft spot. If you project the Steelers to score 1,000 points and every other team defense to tally around 200, for example, clearly the Steelers are extremely “scarce.” Further, if every other owner has similar projections, game theory would advocate selecting Pittsburgh’s D with the No. 1 overall pick.

So why might this be obviously boneheaded move? Because if there is very little predictability within team defenses from year to year, the early selection of one is illogical. As long as there is a limit to the number of defenses you can draft, the scarcity of the top defense has zero value to an owner if it is impossible to predict which defense will score those 1,000 points. With no predictive ability, you would be just as likely to draft the top defense in the last round as the first.

As fantasy owners, we want to minimize the luck that is inherent to the game. The early selection of a position whose year-to-year rankings are basically as predictable as a roulette wheel increases the luck needed to win.

Interestingly, the lack of predictability among team defense in my hypothetical scenario is not far from reality. Actually, there is just about no predictive ability within the position. Defenses that finished high in the fantasy rankings in a given year are no more likely to do so the following year than the bottom dwellers.

Predictability Among Players

The ability to predict the final rankings within a given position is a matter of consistency; how consistent are top fantasy performers at particular positions? I will of course analyze this topic more, but another form of predictability and consistency with which we need to concern ourselves is that among individual players.

We all know certain players carry more risk than others heading into a football season. Whether it is due to poor character or an injury in the previous season, there are players we label as “high risk/high reward,” and the risk we associate with them has huge implications on our ability to predict their future performance.

In 2011, I had Chris Johnson projected to score the most fantasy points among all running backs, ahead of Adrian Peterson, Ray Rice, and Arian Foster. But I had CJ2K ranked behind all of those players because the risk surrounding Johnson’s contract situation and potential holdout made the ability to predict his 2011 performance quite volatile. The greater the ability to predict a player’s performance, the more weight that can be given to his projections.

Now, there are formulas I use to assess risk/reward (read on, grasshopper), and there are certainly times when gambling on a high-risk player is prudent. The entire fantasy draft process is a collection of calculated gambles, and with the right use of statistics, you can tilt the scales in your favor.

What To Anticipate

As you read on, try to remember the overarching concepts of VORP, game theory, and predictability that lie at the core of draft strategy.  With these notions in mind, I will take you through a more in-depth analysis of each idea, hitting on a variety of subcategories in the process. Among the topics I will discuss are:

- Why week-to-week consistency is almost worthless 

- Why you should wait until the last two rounds for a defense and kicker

- The myth of the “overworked” running back

- Why tight end is the most predictable position

- Why fantasy football is a stock market

- The value of pairing a receiver with his quarterback

- How to create power rating systems based on projections, then tiered-rankings based on your power ratings

- How regression can be exploited

- Why quarterback rushing yards are valuable

- Why quarterback/tight end might be the best 1-2 punch in 2012

- How to predict yards-per-carry (and a lot of other stats)

- How to incorporate consensus rankings into your board

- Why you should perform mock drafts

- A whole lot more

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That’s my intro folks. You can buy Fantasy Football for Smart People as a PDF, on Kindle, or in paperback.

Check out other great articles at BlackSportsOnline.

Gap Remains Between NHL Owners, NHLPA in CBA Negotiations

Twenty-four hours after receiving a CBA proposal from the NHLPA, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman told NHL.com that there is still a “wide gap” between the two parties in terms of the economic system.

 

“I think it’s fair to say that we value the [Union's] proposal and what it means in terms of its economics differently than the Players’ Association does,” Bettman told NHL.com. “And, I think there are still a number of issues where we’re looking at the world differently. I’m not sure that there has yet been a recognition of the economics in our world, and I mean the greater world and the sports industry, taking into account what recently happened with the NFL and the NBA. And, so there is still a wide gap between us with not much time to go, but this is a process that we’re going to continue to work hard on. But, I do think it’s fair to say that the sides are still apart, far apart, have different views of the world and the issues.”

The current CBA is set to expire on Sept. 15, giving the two sides little room to get a new deal in place before the season becomes jeopardized. Bettman told NHL.com that he is not ready to make a counter-proposal at this time.

 

“I’m not in a position to make a counter proposal until we see everything that they’re prepared or interested in discussing and they’re not at that point yet,” Bettman said. “I think since we started this process — [NHL Deputy Commissioner] Bill [Daly] and I met with Don and [NHLPA legal counsel] Steve [Fehr] as early as June 4, and we had a formal bargaining session on June 29 — it’s a little disappointing not to have their full slate of proposals at this point with a month to go.”

With the smell of 2004 beginning to resurface, fans could be getting weary of what may be to come. Bettman, however, says that he understands the pressures in getting a deal done.

 

“I know what the game means and I know how important it is for our franchises and our game to be healthy from an economic standpoint, and we’re working very, very hard,” Bettman told NHL.com. “You know, it takes two sides to make a deal, it takes two sides to negotiate, and it takes two sides if it all goes bad. And, we’re working very hard to hopefully keep it from going bad.”

Check out other great articles at Sports Media 101.

New York Yankees Sign Nicaraguan Prospects Corby McCoy, Luis Garcia

The New York Yankees have signed two Nicaraguan pitching prospects, Corby McCoy and Luis Garcia, reports Ben Badler of Baseball America.

McCoy, 16, signed for $150,000 and is one of Nicaragua’s best pitchers. At 6’3″, 170 pounds, the young left-hander has an athletic, projectable body. His velocity has ranged from 85-88 mph in the past, but Badler reports McCoy’s fastball has touched as high as 91 mph recently. He also has a breaking ball in his arsenal, which is still being developed. 

Garcia, who signed for $50,000, is also a 16 year-old left-hander, but has a larger frame than McCoy at 6’4″ and 185 pounds. Like McCoy, Garcia’s fastball ranges from 85-88 mph. 

With the signing of McCoy, the Yankees have spent all of their $2.9 million international bonus pool limit. If they sign another top international player before July 2, 2013, they would have to pay a penalty for exceeding the $2.9 million amount. Since Garcia signed for under $50,000, he will likely be used as one of New York’s exemptions of six players who can sign for under $50,000 each without counting toward the team’s $2.9 million spending limit.

In addition to McCoy, New York’s other top international signings were Luis Torrens for $1.3 million, Alexander Palma for $800,000, and Yancarlos Baez for $650,000

Also…

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NHL: Lots of talk, little action on NHL labor front

(PhatzRadio / AP) — NEW YORK – The Los Angeles Kings have the Stanley Cup. The Minnesota Wild won the free-agent sweepstakes by landing their $98 million stars, Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. And Rick Nash is now in the Big Apple.

A dramatic spring and an eventful summer have given the NHL plenty of buzz.

But ever so slowly, an uncertain autumn looms.

Commissioner Gary Bettman’s league faces the possibility of being the next sport to endure a labor dispute — what would be its third in less than two decades — and there is growing concern that talks over a new collective bargaining agreement are stagnating. The league and the players’ union have been meeting for weeks and still — nothing.

“The last thing (we) need to do is have some kind of a work stoppage, because we’ve made great strides with the positive spin hockey’s had,” Buffalo goaltender Ryan Miller said. “I think the years coming out of the (2004-05) lockout, we got a lot of the fan base back, a lot of positive energy. Mix that with the Olympics here in North America, a couple of good playoffs, and we have a fan base that’s loyal and, honestly, the best sports fans out of any sport.

“We can’t alienate them. This is up to the NHL and the NHLPA to just get it right.”

Easier said than done. On Wednesday, the two sides polished off another set of talks at the league offices and not much progress was made.

“The owners did flesh out their proposal a bit further,” NHLPA executive director Don Fehr said. “Gave us some of the numbers which is very helpful. It will take us some time to review that information, digest it, bottle it and figure out what the appropriate response is.”

Yet with talks about to enter their seventh week, and with only six weeks remaining before the CBA is set to expire, concern is mounting about a shortened season.

Fehr has said the players are willing to work past Sept. 15 if an agreement hasn’t been signed, as long as one is on the horizon. If it isn’t — could a year like 1995 be more likely? That’s when the NHL played just a 48-game schedule.

The key issue in all this? No surprise, it’s money.

The players now receive a 57% share of hockey-related revenues, yet the owners’ initial offer would drop it to 46. Former Red Wings great Ted Lindsay said it’s “understandable” the league is asking for rollbacks. After all, the players signed a quality deal with a quality percentage back in 2005. Now — some think — it’s the owners turn.

“Certainly they have a right to ask for anything they want, but if the players had any brains, they wouldn’t accept it,” Lindsay said. “But you have to start somewhere.”

Lindsay found it contradictory for the owners to cry “poor-mouth” at a time when record deals are being signed in a league with record revenue in excess of $3.1 billion. Defenseman Shea Weber, for instance, got a 14-year, $110 million offer sheet from the Philadelphia Flyers and the Nashville Predators eventually matched it.

Lindsay said the owners are off base.

“They have to sell this game,” he said. “Not destroy it.”

Another issue related to finances is how long a player must wait to become an unrestricted free agent and cash in, like Parise and Suter. The waiting period for most players — there are exceptions for goalies — is seven seasons. The NHL is said to want that increased to 10. The owners also want to cap contract lengths at five years, and extend rookie contracts to five years from three.

Player pensions, length of training camp and even ice conditions also have been discussed.

The owners also have put revenue sharing on the table, though Fehr said the proposed changes merely make it more inclusive. And NHLPA special assistant Mathieu Schneider said revenue sharing was not discussed on Wednesday.

“We haven’t evaluated the changes from current revenue sharing to determine whether we think it’s the appropriate thing to do,” Fehr said, “or if it misses the mark in some respect.”

So, where does that leave the situation? Well, at some point, a counterproposal from the NHLPA needs to be made. It has the records. It has the paperwork. The puck is in its end of the ice, so to speak.

“We won’t know everything,” Schneider said, “until we’ve gone through all the information.”

All that said, the talks at least appear more cordial than in 2004 when Bettman canceled the season. Eventually, a salary cap was installed, and hockey was played in 2005-06.

“They’ve been all good, very professional. I would say very few issues where you could feel tension in the room,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said of the mood between the two sides. “I haven’t sensed difficulty.”

And that’s all despite the presence of Fehr, the hardline, former MLBPA head, who has drawn rave reviews from the players. Fehr, keep in mind though, represented baseball players in 1994, when the postseason was canceled amid a work stoppage.

“There’s no one more qualified to be doing what he’s doing,” Montreal Canadiens defenseman Chris Campoli said. “He’s the best in the world.”

Miller points out that the league locked out the players last time. And the owners took the players up on an offer to roll back existing contracts 24% to ease the cost to clubs without the creation of the salary cap. In the end, the cap was installed anyway.

“I’d like to think that — compared to the other pro sports — we’ve already made our concessions,” Miller said. “We rolled back. We took big chunks off.”

Line in the sand or not, both sides realize what a stoppage would mean. There are examples all over the place. After all, the NBA just completed a shortened, 66-game season, and the NFL narrowly avoided missing time, as well, last summer.

Despite negotiations dragging on, Philadelphia coach Peter Laviolette said his team is preparing as normal, with training camps scheduled to open Sept. 16 and the season slated to begin Oct. 11.

“I think there is a lot of preparation in the month beforehand with regard to your team and what it is shaping up to be,” he said. “I don’t think anything will change that. Hopefully we move forward as planned.

“But if we don’t, I guess it gets delayed. And you move forward when they say move forward.”

When that is, however, remains to be seen.

AP Sports Writers John Wawrow, Den Gelston and freelance reporter Denis Gorman contributed to this report.

NHL: Lots of talk, little action on NHL labor front is a post from: PhatzRadio.com

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2012-2013 NHL Season Preview

Previewing the 2012-2013 NHL Season

We are less than two months away from the NHL opener. On Sunday September 23rd, the Ottawa Senators will take on the Montreal Canadiens. This season promises to be exciting as the upstart Los Angeles Kings try to defend their first Stanley Cup title. During the off season the Kings signed Jonathan Quick to a 10 year contract extension through the 2022-23 season as well as Dwight King to a two year contract. It’s clear the defending champs want to make a run at a dynasty but with a lot of big name faces in new places it will be difficult. Here’s a quick look at some of the major off season moves in the NHL.

 
Eastern Conference

The two super powers in the Eastern Conference, the Rangers and Penguins, got better this off season. The New York Rangers acquired stud forward Rick Nash from the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Rangers sent the Blue Jackets centers Brandon Dubinsky (potential fantasy breakout), Artem Anisimov, defenseman Tim Erixon and a first-round pick next year. The Rangers also received minors player Steven Delisle and a conditional pick in the 2013 draft. The Rangers gained an elite forward who has scored 289 goals in 674 career games. The Pittsburgh Penguins traded center Jordan Staal to the Carolina Hurricanes for center Brandon Sutter, the number 8 pick in 2012 draft and D Brian Dumoulin. Then traded defenseman Zbynek Michalek to Phoenix Coyotes for blue line defender Harrison Ruopp, goalie Marc Cheverie and a third-round 2012 draft pick. All of that on top of signing Sidney Crosby to a 12 year extension and James Neal to a 6 year extension.
The Philedelphia Flyers missed out on Shea Weber but they do return two of the more dominating fantasy players in Scott Hartnell and Claude Giroux. The Flyers finished with the 3rd most points in the Eastern Conference last year. They also led the NHL in Power Play goals (66).

The Defending Eastern Conference champs lost their Captain, Zack Parise, to the Wild but did resign the immortal Martin Brodeur. Backup goalie Johan Hedburg was also resigned along with Steve Bernier, Ryan Carter, Stephen Gionta, Cam Janssen, Peter Harrold and Bryce Salvador. The Devils look to make another run at the Cup in 2013.

The Devils were no match for the LA Kings this past year as Jeff Carter and company beat Broduer’s Devils in 6 games
The Washington Capitols signed a lot of new players this off season but none more intriguing than the trade for Mike Ribeiro. He was brought in from the Dallas Stars for Cody Eakin and a second round 2012 draft pick. The Capitols will be another team to keep an eye on this year. Alex Ovechkin enters his 8th season with the team. Last year was his worst season to date, his 65 points was a career low. Prior to last year he scored at least 85 points in his first 6 seasons as a pro. Don’t rule out the defensive minded Caps when postseason play begins.

The Ottawa Senators resigned their best player Erik Karlsson, the best fantasy Defenseman, to a 7 year contract. The young Senators squeaked into the playoffs last year but with a solid young base of Karlsson, Spezza, Alfredsson, Foligno, Michalek and 31 year old veteran goalie Craig Anderson, the future is bright and the window to win is only getting wider.

The Tampa Bay Lightning made a number of small signings to give Steven Stamkos a decent surrounding cast. Last year Stamkos put up a league high 60 goals, but the second highest on the team was Martin St. Louis with 25. The Lightning missed the playoffs 8 points behind the Senators and Capitols. The Lightning need more production from their blue line, Marc-Andre Bergeron lead the Tampa defenders with 24 points. That ranked him tied for 62nd in points in the league among defensemen.

The last place Montreal Canadiens signed Carey Price to a 6 year contract. The Canadiens were on the losing end of 12 shootouts last season making them a possible bounce back/sleeper team. I mentioned Carey Price in my #29 Blind Resume (Part 3 of 3).

Western Conference

The defending Western Conference top seed Vancouver Canucks, who lost in the first round to the Kings, made some adjustments in early July signing three defensemen; Derek Joslin, Patrick Mullen and Jason Garrison. The Canucks who sport one of the better front lines with the Sedin brothers, look to build on last year’s success.

The St. Louis Blues, who finished 2nd in the Western Conference last year, made some settle moves this off season including resigning future star T.J. Oshie to a 5 year deal. The Blues were 14-2-2 against the Eastern Conference last year. They were also the only team to win 30 games at home in 2012.

The Nashville Predators matched the Flyers 14 year offer sheet on Shea Weber. Weber, who is a top 10 fantasy Defenseman, will remain in Nashville.

The Dallas Stars made a handful of small moves this off season including signing the ageless Jaromir Jagr to a one year contract. They will look to improve on the Power Play as they scored the fewest PP Goals last year (33).

My Colorado Avalanche were fairly quiet this off season basically bringing back a few key players like Erik Johnson and Milan Hejduk. The Avalanche won 9 of 11 shootouts last year. The Avs could be a dangerous team this year. Young gun Ryan O’Reilly will look to build on last season’s success (18 goals, 37 assists), he is 21 years old entering his 4th season in the league. Paul Stastny is arguably the team’s best player, last year he scored 21 goals, had 32 assists and accounted for 19 power play points. The Colorado power play scoring percentage was actually better than 10 of the 16 playoff teams.
Lookout for my Avalanche this year
The Minnesota Wild became automatic players with their two major free agent pickups. They agreed to terms with F Zach Parise and D Ryan Suter on 13 year contracts back on July 4th.

If you want to discuss some of the NHL off season news and notes find me on Twitter @Awies28

Alex Wiesner
August 2nd, 2012
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Golf Tips: Mid-Season Short Game Boot Camp-Pitching and Rotation Workout

To develop feel around the greens for those shots that 80 yards or less, you need to spend tons of time practicing.  By simply hitting hundreds of pitch shots to a target, you can figure out how far to swing the club back to hit the distance you need.  But who has time to stand on the range and hit hundreds of balls? Not many of us do, but that doesn’t mean that your short game has to suffer because you don’t have the time to practice.

By simply adding in a few golf specific exercises and refining your pitching technique, you can improve your feel around the greens.

The trick to pitching is controlling the distance you hit each shot and you’ll want to do this with the rotation of your body, not by flipping the clubhead with your hands.  Here is the technique:

1. Narrow stance to stabilize lower body.  You don’t want a lot of weight shift on the backswing.  Think of a pitch as a one axis swing.

2. Open your stance, but keep your shoulders square, you still want to hit the inside of the ball.

3. Lean the shaft forward towards the target at address position.

4. Wrist Action is Key…The club must work up, so you need to hinge your wrists as you start the backswing.

5. Even though this is no weight shift on backswing you need a little on the downswing and follow-through. You need to rotate your body.

6. Hands ahead at impact.

7. Your backswing and downswing will not necessarily be the same length.

8. Experiment with the ball position and clubface angle-try different ball positions and open and close the face for different trajectories.

To learn this pitching technique check out one of my live online webcam classes.

To improve your body rotation, add these golf-specific exercises into your daily routine.  These exercises will strengthen your core to not only protect your back but improve your short game.

Do each exercise for 10 repetitions on each side.  Repeat up to 3 times. To learn how to do these exercises, check out my live online webcam classes.

V-Sit Rotation

Swiss Ball Rotation

Kneeling Rotation

 

with KPJ Golf Instruction

Find out your golf personality

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Live Online Lessons

 

Live Online Lessons With Karen

Work on your golf game and get some exercise at the same time. Check out my new Cardiogolf Live On-Line Classes.  All you need is a webcam to participate.  You can learn golf-specific exercises in the privacy of your own home.  The classes are interactive so you can ask questions and get feedback on your technique.  The classes are small and affordable.

Work on your golf swing and learn exercises to improve your strength and flexibility specific to golf. Cardiogolf Live

On-Line Classes this Week…

Golf Fitness Workout to Increase Distance and Consistency-Cardiogolf

Cardiogolf is a golf specific workout designed by LPGA Teacher of the Year Karen Palacios-Jansen. Participants learn exercises to promote better swing mechanics, flexibility, strength and balance throughout the golf swing. The routine is a combination of swing drills and golf specific exercises. It accommodates every golfer regardless of gender, age and skill level or fitness level. All you need is a 4 x 4 sq ft space to do the golf swing exercises. If you don’t have a short practice club or enough room to swing a club, you can use a soccer ball or tennis racquet to simulate the golf swing. We will be doing practice swings, but you can do all the exercises without a club as well. I will show you how. We will not actually be hitting balls, but exercises to improve your swing mechanics as well as flexibility and strength.

Click here to sign up and for more information.

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NHL labor talks produce uncertainty

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman speaks to reporters about on-going labor talks last week. (Kathy Willens/Associated Press)

(PhatzRadio / CBC Sports) — The Kings have the Stanley Cup. The Wild won the free-agent sweepstakes by landing their $98 million US stars, Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. And Rick Nash is now in the Big Apple.

A dramatic spring and an eventful summer has given the NHL plenty of buzz.

But ever so slowly, an uncertain autumn looms.

Commissioner Gary Bettman’s league faces the possibility of being the next sport to endure a labor dispute — what would be its third in less than two decades — and there is growing concern that talks over a new collective bargaining agreement are stagnating. The league and the players’ union have been meeting for weeks and still — nothing.

“The last thing [we] need to do is have some kind of a work stoppage, because we’ve made great strides with the positive spin hockey’s had,” Buffalo goaltender Ryan Miller said. “I think the years coming out of the [2004-05] lockout, we got a lot of the fan base back, a lot of positive energy. Mix that with the Olympics here in North America, a couple of good playoffs, and we have a fan base that’s loyal and, honestly, the best sports fans out of any sport.

“We can’t alienate them. This is up to the NHL and the NHLPA to just get it right.”

Easier said than done. On Wednesday, the two sides polished off another set of talks at the league offices and not much progress was made.

“The owners did flesh out their proposal a bit further,” NHLPA executive director Don Fehr said. “Gave us some of the numbers which is very helpful. It will take us some time to review that information, digest it, bottle it and figure out what the appropriate response is.”

Yet with talks about to enter their seventh week, and with only six weeks remaining before the current CBA is set to expire, concern is mounting about a shortened season.

Fehr has said the players are willing to work past Sept. 15 if an agreement hasn’t been signed, as long as one is on the horizon. If it isn’t — could a year like 1995 be more likely? That’s when the NHL played just a 46-game schedule.

The key issue in all this? No surprise, it’s money.

The players now receive a 57 per cent share of hockey-related revenues, yet the owners’ initial offer would drop it to 46. Former Red Wings great Ted Lindsay said it’s “understandable” the league is asking for rollbacks. After all, the players signed a quality deal with a quality percentage back in 2005. Now — some think — it’s the owners turn.

“Certainly they have a right to ask for anything they want, but if the players had any brains, they wouldn’t accept it,” Lindsay said. “But you have to start somewhere.”

Record revenue

Lindsay found it contradictory for the owners to cry “poor-mouth” at a time when record deals are being signed in a league with record revenue in excess of $3.1 billion. Defenceman Shea Weber, for instance, last month signed the second-largest contract in NHL history, when Nashville matched a 14-year, $110 million offer sheet by Philadelphia.

Lindsay said the owners are off base.

“They have to sell this game,” he said. “Not destroy it.”

Another issue related to finances is how long a player must wait to become an unrestricted free agent and cash in, like Parise and Suter. The current waiting period for most players — there are exceptions for goalies — is seven seasons. The NHL is said to want that increased to 10. The owners also want to cap contract lengths at five years, and extend rookie contracts to five years from three.

Olympic participation is a side issue, though one the league and players mostly agree on. The NHL likes playing in the Olympics because it helps highlight its sport and players.

Player pensions, length of training camp and even ice conditions also have been discussed.

The owners also have put revenue sharing on the table, though Fehr said the proposed changes merely make it more “inclusive.” And NHLPA special assistant Mathieu Schneider said revenue sharing was not discussed on Wednesday.

“We haven’t evaluated the changes from current revenue sharing to determine whether we think it’s the appropriate thing to do,” Fehr said, “or if it misses the mark in some respect.”

So, where does that leave the situation? Well, at some point, a counter-proposal from the NHLPA needs to be made. It has the records. It has the paperwork. The puck is in its end of the ice, so to speak.

“We won’t know everything,” Schneider said, “until we’ve gone through all the information.”

All that said, the talks at least appear more cordial than in 2004 when Bettman cancelled the season. Eventually, a salary cap was installed, and hockey was played in 2005-06.

“They’ve been all good, very professional. I would say very few issues where you could feel tension in the room,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said of the mood between the two sides. “I haven’t sensed difficulty.”

And that’s all despite the presence of Fehr, the hardline, former MLBPA head, who has drawn rave reviews from the players. Fehr, keep in mind though, represented baseball players in 1994, when the post-season was cancelled amid a work stoppage.

“There’s no one more qualified to be doing what he’s doing,” Montreal Canadiens defenceman Chris Campoli said. “He’s the best in the world.”

Miller points out that the league locked out the players last time. And the owners took the players up on an offer to roll back existing contracts 24 per cent to ease the cost to clubs without the creation of the salary cap. In the end, the cap was installed anyway.

“I’d like to think that — compared to the other pro sports — we’ve already made our concessions,” Miller said. “We rolled back. We took big chunks off.”

Line in the sand or not, both sides realize what a stoppage would mean. There are examples all over the place. After all, the NBA just completed a shortened, 66-game season, and the NFL narrowly avoided missing time, as well, last summer.

Despite negotiations dragging on, Philadelphia coach Peter Laviolette said his team is preparing as normal, with training camps scheduled to open Sept. 16 and the season slated to begin Oct. 11.

“I think there is a lot of preparation in the month beforehand with regard to your team and what it is shaping up to be,” he said. “I don’t think anything will change that. Hopefully we move forward as planned.

“But if we don’t, I guess it gets delayed. And you move forward when they say move forward.”

When that is, however, remains to be seen.

NHL labor talks produce uncertainty is a post from: PhatzRadio.com

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