CO Sports Chick

Musings on Colorado sports from a female perspective

Archive for July, 2009

Are Canadians Pouring Labatts in the Water?

Posted by The Minkster on July 29, 2009

Is it something in the water or Hollywood envy up there in the chilly part of our nation’s mid-section?  Seems like the black-and-blue division famous for big uglies, frozen tundra and smash mouth football has become more like watching a season of the Bachelor.  What has this world come to when two of those proud historic franchises (Vikings and Bears) chase after a couple of prima donna QB’s in Favre and Cutler?!

Packers vs. Bears at Chicago's Wrigley Field 1962

Packers vs. Bears at Chicago's Wrigley Field 1962

Flash back a couple of years and both those guys were considered gritty quality gun slingers and fans figured they both would retire wearing their respective uniforms at the time.  Jump to off-season 2009 and Favre is toying with the idea of signing with one of the Packers’ worst nemesis while Cutler is throwing a temper tantrum because his new kid coach is testing the trade waters with him as bait.  Where is Howie Mandel?  Is that you punkin’ us Ashton?

The Pack is going glam with their big 90th birthday party.  Of course that means using a napkin when eating brats and cheese curds, and washing it down with a Leinenkugel’s in a chilled pint glass.  Now that Favre has retired AGAIN, the Pack has to decide if they are going to do some kind of tribute to its tarnished hero.  He brought the Lombardi Trophy back to Green Bay, but his antics since the first retirement have created more controversy than the 1984 mothballing of Bernie Brewer.

Detroit isn’t without a little conference controversy although you won’t hear any jawing about it.  Aren’t many players with the cajones to play the diva role after posting a league record for futility of 0-16 in 2008.  The Viks ex-QB, Daunte Culpepper, has dropped 30 lbs. during the off-season and looks to have that speed back which made him so dangerous in his younger years.  Looking forward to that home and away series because the Lions won’t be doormats again this year.

So, what should we call the Black and Blue division?  Beavis and Butt-Head?  Diva and Donna?  Bitchy Boys?  Whine and Dine?  I’ll just let Berman and the rest of the talking heads at ESPN come up with something clever unless you got something.  Let’s hear it from the fans.


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Broncos Back in Dove Valley with Baby TO in Tow

Posted by The Minkster on July 28, 2009

The Denver Broncos finally open camp this week at Dove Valley after a crazy off-season that had the media acting like they were chasing hormonal teenagers doused in AXE.  Now that the smoke has cleared, and Baby TO realizes he needs that NFL paycheck to keep him in the lifestyle to which he (and his women) have become accustomed, the new 2009 Broncos don’t look too bad.  They certainly look as good on paper as the Dolphins, Cardinals and Vikings did at the beginning of 2008 and they all made the playoffs.

Let’s break it down.

  • Receiving corps is young but talented and quick provided Baby TO stays away from McDonald’s and ATL bars.
  • The O Line is one of the best in the league and should get even better given its youth.
  • QB has more talent than Matt Cassel, so if Coach McKid can replicate the NE offensive scheme in Denver fans will soon forget Crying Cutler.
  • Defensive secondary got good real fast with the addition of Dawkins and other veterans signed to help out Champ.
  • The 3-4 part of the 3-4 D is questionable. We really don’t have any idea what these guys can do if a defensive coordinator is allowed to coach, so let’s hope Champ doesn’t end up with team high tackle totals again.
  • Special teams could get a boost from some of the rookies and let’s hope Prater follows the path of his predecessor’s career.  By the way, Elam should have another great year with the Falcons if Ryan plays as well as in his rookie season.

Are you ready for my prediction? I’m mostly “the beer mug is half full” kind of gal, so I’m laying it out there and saying the Broncos will finish 10-6. What is your prediction?

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Rapids Crush Team That Picked Up Their B-Marsh

Posted by The Minkster on July 26, 2009

Most Colorado sports fans probably didn’t know that the Rapids went through their own version of a Brandon Marshall feud earlier this season.  The New York Red Bulls goalkeeper, Bouna Coundoul, made his first MLS start in 9 months last night at Dick Sporting Goods Park.  He couldn’t come to a contract agreement after spending two years as a starter between the pipes for the Rapids and boasting the second best 1.16 career goals against average in the MLS.  So, it was sweet payback when Colorado hammered the Red Bulls 4-0 in the Mile High City last night.

Keeper Coundoul getting ready for match against Chivas USA (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/MLS via Getty Images)

Keeper Coundoul getting ready for match against Chivas USA (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/MLS via Getty Images)

One of the rubs for the Rapids was the team posting a mere 17-22-12 record during his reign and missing the playoffs for the last two years.  Coundoul can’t be blamed for the losses, but the Rapids were looking to capitalize on the late season team chemistry after removing “interim” from coach Gary Smith’s title and making him the sixth head coach in franchise history.   Since the Rapids owned the rights to the 27-year-old keeper, management was no in no mood to pay an exorbitant amount to a keeper still under contract with a only a couple of years of pro experience.  By January the Rapids knew talks were going nowhere and swapped draft picks plus allocation money to the Chicago Fire for goalie Matt Pickens who has had a good year thus far.

Now I must admit my passion and depth of knowledge for MLS soccer and the Rapids is not at the same level as the NFL and the Broncos, but I don’t remember the entire city grabbing the torches and pitchforks when young Coundoul wasn’t between the pipes back in March.  In fact, the story line is eerily similar to Brandon Marshall’s saga that has played out during the off-season with the Broncos without the hyperbole.  Both are young guys that signed with Colorado teams right out of college, considered in the top tier at their positions, and underpaid compared to veterans putting up similar numbers because still under rookie contracts.  That’s where the similarities stop.  Baby TO is constantly having chats with law enforcement trying explain his actions, has asked to be traded because it worked for his buddy Cutler, had injuries under mysterious circumstances, and supposedly has decided his lifestyle and getting married is too expensive to manage without a paycheck so will be in camp next week.  Coundoul hasn’t been in trouble, was called up to the national Senegal team for the 2007 African Cup of Nations, has stayed healthy, and apparently had enough cash to live paycheck free so was able to skip Rapid’s camp and the first three months of the season.

Here is my question to the Colorado sports nation, why all the hoopla over Baby TO and not Coundoul?  I know it isn’t just the Broncos personnel challenges that ignite the ire of local fans as we’ve seen in the recent past with AI, Billups & Camby (Nuggets); Holliday, Jennings, Matsui and Fuentes (Rockies); and Forsberg, Foote Tanguay and Drury (Avs).  What is it that get us all riled up over the big four, but barely illicit an “hurumph” from fans and nary a mention from the lcoal media when it comes to our other pro teams?  Is it that grown men get paid millions of dollars by the big four to play games for a living?  Is it the fact that if not for the ridiculous money paid to some of these guys they would otherwise be mowing your lawn or patching your roof for a living?  Or do you think it has more to do with psychology and our need to be associated with a winning tribe that has widespread recognition?  Could it be that with the proliferation of sports media outlets other sports get caught up in the noise?  Maybe it is as simple as having the freedom to pontificate about a team without ramification?  Maybe there are other reasons.  What do you think?

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Rox Fans Can’t See HOF Career for Holliday Lights

Posted by The Minkster on July 23, 2009

Rockies fans need to brush up on how baseball works in the 21st century.  Most of those claiming allegiance to the purple pinstripes have no appreciation for what Todd Helton has done throughout his career in Colorado (see my buddy’s write-up at Mile High Sports  for the details).  Even after connecting on double #500 last night there are still fans and media talking heads that question his contribution to salary ratio.  As a future Hall of Famer it still blows my mind that people don’t understand what a complete game and the leadership qualities he brings to the team.  San Francisco treated Barry Bonds better than Rox fans treat Helton and at a much high price tag on and off the field.

Don’t get me wrong, I think fans of Colorado sports teams are extremely loyal and the metro area leads the nation in number of professional sporting organizations it supports per capita, but most haven’t yet figured out how baseball works.   Let’s break it down to the basic realities.

First rule of thumbis that each year the Yankees will out spend all other MLB teams by a ridiculous margin (approximately $65m more than their cross town rival in 2009).  The next break in payroll is at +$122m and includes other huge major metro areas with long big league histories (in descending order: the Mets, Cubs and Bosox).  So, if you want to freeze your baseballs off in the winter and deal with humidity and large bugs in the summer go right ahead and move to the northeast or Chicago.  If you like it here in the beautiful Rocky Mountains you’ll have to deal with the reality that the Rockies are a mid-market team (ranked #18 in payroll), and will never be able to throw cash around like the big dogs.  Besides, high payrolls don’t translate to winning championships (see 2008 Yankees).  Florida has the lowest payroll in the Majors at $36,814m and is only 6 games back in the NL East.

Second rule of thumbis that no team in professional baseball signs every single one of its free agent each off-season.  Also, there is a trade deadline for a reason.  Sometimes a team has depth at a position, but needs help somewhere else to make a postseason run so a popular player is traded.  Of course, the opposite can happen where a team ignites a fire sale to cut payroll in anticipation of having the budget to make moves in the off-season.  I can’t think of one player that the Rockies have waved goodbye to over the last 10 years that has turned into an Albert Pujols for another team.  Good GM’s make trades and sign deals to make a team better not to keep superstars at the expense of winning – except the Yankees. 

The third rule of thumbis slumps, injuries and roid suspensions happen to every team.  Okay, the “roid suspension” comment was directed at ManRam and the Dodgers, but you’re living in a fantasy world if you think there won’t be some shuffling going on during the season.  The teams that can best deal with these in-season adjustments are the ones that have the best shot at playing in October.

Fourth rule of thumb is that every winning team has some lucky bounces at key points in games throughout the season and playoffs.  Playing in the elements and on grass/dirt fields provides ample opportunity for funny things to happen to both players and the ball.  When a team is winning the ball seems to bounce their way and when a team is losing the ball seems to be rolling in the opposite direction.

Fifth and last rule of thumb is that winning teams in baseball are strong in all three facets of the game.  If a team is weak in pitching, hitting or defense there is little chance that it will be playing in the postseason.  Good pitchers must have a solid defense behind them or they won’t be good pitchers for long.  And on the other side, if a team is holding opponents to low run totals then it still has to have the bats working to win.  There are no ties in baseball so someone has to step-up to the plate.  The challenge for the Rockies is to plug the right players into the key positions all within a budget that is less than 17 other teams in the league to win.

So the bottom line is everyone should enjoy watching Helton play and appreciate the fact you get to watch the Rockies first entry into Cooperstown.  Quit pining over Holliday, Matsui and Jennings, and get excited over this young squad looking at another Rocktober run.

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Who Was the Underdog?

Posted by The Minkster on July 21, 2009

If someone had said before the British Open started that fans would be glued to the TV on Sunday afternoon if Lefty and Tiger didn’t make the cut folks would’ve thought that person crazy, but that is exactly what happened in Ireland this past weekend.  Tom Watson showed once again that golf isn’t about how far you can smack it off the tee, but instead pits golfer against the course and inner voices.  That second challenge is what did in 59-year-old Watson on the 18th green on the last hole of The Open.

The old guy birdied #17 while Stewart Cinksat in the club house hoping Watson would stumble setting up a playoff so he could get another shot at winning his first major.  He must have found a Leprechaun under the scorers table, because Watson’s approach shot rolled off the back of the green and took two putts to hole out from there falling into a tie with Cink.  It seemed as though a tsunami of moans rolled across the UK and US at the same time when Watson’s 8 footer lagged up toward the hole never having a chance to drop in cementing his place in history. 

Given the fact we live in a global economy and it still holds true that when the US sneezes the world catches a cold, that putt would’ve given us all a feel good boost we desperately needed right now.  The gallery on-hand at Turnberry was certainly an international smorgasbord, but it jumped on grandpa Watson’s bandwagon in his quest at the record books.  If the 70’s flashback story had not unfolded Cink winning his first major in a playoff would have made for great headlines.  It’s hard to put such a nice guy into the same category as Wile E. Coyote, Al Davis, the Joker, and George Steinbrenner, but that’s how everyone felt watching the old guard go down in flames.  Congrats to Cink and his family, but it sure would’ve been nice to have the media all over the Watson story so they could let go of Michael Jackson for awhile.

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Rockies Go Into Midsummer Classic With W

Posted by The Minkster on July 12, 2009

The Rockies position representative to the MLB All-Star game this week is heading to the Midsummer Classic flying high.  Brad Hawpe hit a walk-off double in the bottom of the ninth to give the Rockos a series split with arch nemesis Atlanta.  Seth Smith was on first with one out when Hawpe hit one in the gap in center field.  Seth’s wheels were fast enough for him to slide into home scoring the winning run and the Rockies to win 8-7.

Hugs all around in Coors Field after walk-off double by Hawpe.

Hugs all around in Coors Field after walk-off double by Hawpe. (David Zalubowski/AP)

After being down 4 runs twice in the game, the boys in purple never gave up and kept hacking away at the Braves’ leads.  Hammel had his first bad outing in awhile and only lasted 3 innings, but about half the bullpen had a good day.  Streeter did his job and shut the Braves down in the top half of the ninth to give his bats a chance to win the game – and they did!

After the All-Star game Colorado heads to San Diego for a three game series against  a division opponent that is having an off year.  Our boys should win that series if not sweep.  That kicks off a stint of three game series against West opponents and could really shake things up or put the Rox in a position to make a run at the Dodgers.  Enjoy the break and we’ll talk baseball again in about a week.

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Nuggets Turning Into Clippers

Posted by The Minkster on July 11, 2009

If you believe everything you hear in the media right now you would think the Nuggets have no chance to do anything this upcoming season and will be fighting with the Clippers for draft picks the following spring.  Now, I understand that this is a slow time of year for sports writers and they are struggling to fill air time and white space with stories, but giving playoff spots away is a bit premature.

All the crying is over who the Mavs, Spurs and Lakers have picked up in the off-season.  Along with the Nuggets, these four are considered the top teams to beat in the West.  So, let’s take a look at what has really transpired instead of the hype.

  • Lakers – Picked up Ron Artest and sent Ariza (who gave the Nuggets problems in the playoffs) to Houston.  I think this bodes well for the rest of the West due to Artest’s attitude problems and he’s never won a ring.  Can’t see Phil zenning Artest to play nice with Kobe and team.  The Lakers will still make the playoffs, but when it gets tight there will be too much infighting to win another ring.
  • Mavs – Resigned Kidd who can still manage the floor at 36 years old, but the Nuggets have the speed to compensate for intelligent play.  They traded youth and upside with Bass going to Orlando for experience and potential attitude problem in Shawn Marion.  They did get tougher on defense to help Kidd by picking up Quinton Ross.  Looking forward to K-mart and Marion tussles.
  • Spurs – Finely is coming back for another go at a ring, but at 36 not a major factor.  The Dyess Man signed with the Spurs (with Denver contributing $3m towards his salary) after dissing the Nuggets as part of the trade that brought Smooth back to Denver.  At 34 and with a history of injuries he isn’t the force he showed signs of as a youngster while in the Mile High city.  The Spurs did get some fresh young legs with the signing of Haislip after trading backups Oberto and Thomas for Richard Jefferson. A backcourt of Jefferson and Parker will be a tough defensive match-up for any team, but Denver has the speed to keep them in front.

Out of the three I would say the Spurs probably made the best moves for their team and have the best chance to keep peace in the locker room.  As we have seen with the Yankees, it isn’t about star power but playing as a team that wins championships. 

I think Denver made the steal of the draft with Ty Lawson going at #18.  He’ll get playing time this year and can learn from one of the smartest players in the league at the guard position – Mr. Big Shot.  Plus, the Nugs re-signed Birdman which was huge for fans as well as the team.  There are still a couple of possible opportunities to bring in another big man, where the Nuggets need some depth.  No need to start making bag faces for this season, the Nuggets are far from Clipperland.

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Super Joe Takes Reigns of Carpool

Posted by The Minkster on July 9, 2009

Finally Joe Sakic made it official today by announcing his retirement at the Inverness Hotel, where another local superstar by the name of Elway went through a similar emotional goodbye.  He finishes a 20 year career (16 with the Avs) tallying 1,641 points, which puts him eighth on the all-time NHL scoring list.  While in an Avs sweater he brought two Stanely Cups to Colorado and an Olympic gold medal to his homeland of Canada.

Of course, all the ladies will miss his curly locks on the ice every game and

Joe Sakic officially retired from the NHL today and hung-up his Avs sweater for good. ( John Leyba | The Denver Post)

Joe Sakic officially retired from the NHL today and hung-up his Avs sweater for good. ( John Leyba | The Denver Post)

his exciting play.  He wasn’t the bad boy that you wanted to date, he was the catch you wanted to take home to mom and dad.  We all knew how faithful he was to his wife who he met in high school, but it seemed a bit unfair to not give us Colorado girls a chance. 

Joe said he will continue to be involved in hockey by coaching his kids and hauling them to practice, and is even pondering some management job in the front office.  I’m sure the honey dew list is quit long after 20 years, so be sure and get some good insurance coverage Sakic family.  We all know how good Super Joe is with a snow blower – don’t let him loose with a chain saw! 

I for one will miss him representing the Avalanche with class, but wish him and his family the best of luck (and get the super sized first aid kit at Walmart).  Looking forward to seeing him one last time when the Avs haul his sweater up to the rafters.

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Birdman Won’t Fly the Can

Posted by The Minkster on July 8, 2009

The Birdman throws down on another unsuspecting player!

The Birdman throws down on another unsuspecting player!

The Nuggos signed Chris “Birdman” Andersen to a 5 year deal so he won’t fly coop or, as locals call it, The Can!  He’s been a fan favorite in his first year back in a Denver uni since leaving for the Hornets in 2004 and coming back from a NBA mandated 2-year drug suspension.  During this year’s playoff run, fans from 2 to 60 years old could be seen sporting a dyed Mohawk ‘do and even temporary tattoos in reverence to the Birdman.  There were even feathered bearing likenesses of Andersen on t-shirts that could be seen on random fans throughout the Denver metro area.

The Birdman will get about a $2.5 million raise this year and could make close to $26 million over the life of the contract.  Well deserved for a guy that mostly came off the bench and still came in second in total blocked shots with 175.  Only Dwight Howard recorded more as a starter.  Note that I didn’t mention Marcus Camby (okay, he was 3rd but 43 blocks behind).  Don’t get me wrong I think he is a great guy and donates his time and money to the community, but I thought it was a great move by the Nuggets to let him go.  Too many 3-point baseline shots and not enough offensive boards for my liking.  Wish we could’ve picked up at least a draft pick, but we finagled Ty Lawson (who lead Carolina to a national championship which also sports baby blue singlets) in this year’s draft so all is well in Nuggyland.

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Rox All-Star Pitcher on Roll

Posted by The Minkster on July 6, 2009

Jason Marquis de Sade pitched another gem at Coors Field on Monday night against the Washington Nationals getting the Rockies back on track with a 1-0 win.  After losing the series to NL West rival D-backs with melt downs by two solid starting pitchers – Cookie and Uby – the Rockies needed a strong outing by their starting guy on the hill tonight.  They got it!

Not only did the Marquis de Sade of hitters give the bullpen a rest (Streeter closed it out), but he has pitched 17 consecutive shutout innings.  Hopefully the All-Star experience won’t screw-up his mojo like it did to Cookie last year, but let’s not even think that way.  What a nice surprise in the three hole for the Tracy and Rockies fans.  Jason you deserve a trip to St. Louis!  I might even turn on the game.

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