The Blown Call Sports Blog examines the issues in modern day sports. It is meant to be a commentary about what is wrong and right in sports. For fantasy junkies, there will be plenty of juice here for you as well.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

My Eastern Conference All Star Ballot








EASTERN CONFERENCE


GOALTENDER:
Henrik Lundqvist - He has now played 18 games and ZERO shutouts. On the (very) bright side, he has 12 wins, and a sub 2.00 GAA, playing on a team that is leading the conference. He has been amazing, only letting 2 goals or more twice this season.
I wouldn't be disappointed if... Tim Thomas, who isn't even on the ballot get voted in. He has played lights out this year, and possibly would have stolen my vote for East 'tender, but he lost to King Henry in a shootout last week.
I would be disappointed if... Carey Price gets voted in, even though he probably will. There have been at least 2 goalies that have outplayed Price so far this season (3, if you include Ryan Miller, who would have been a good pick two weeks ago)

FORWARDS
Simon Gagne - Great comeback story. Leads the league in shorthanded goals and is keeping the Flyers afloat. He is also scoring with a ridiculous 27.5% shooting percentage. He is doing this without his #1 center, Danny Briere. Gagne deserves a nod
Evgeni Malkin - Leading the league in points. I'm going to be honest, I did not think he would be able to put points up like he did last year with Crosby in the lineup, but he is, at a torrid pace.
Alexander Semin - The breakout season will pay off for the other AL, as he deserves to be an all star. He has kept Washington competitive early in the season, while Ovechkin and Backstrom struggled for the first month of the season.
I wouldn't be disappointed if... Sidney Crosby bumps out Malkin or Gagne and plays on a starting line with Semin. This is what the NHL needs. Spark a little bit of controversy among young All Stars, see what happens and build off of it. Despite Crosby's struggled, his numbers are still good enough to start.
I would be disappointed if... Vincent Lecavalier makes the squad. I love Lecav. He's a great all around player, but 13 points in 18 games for a supposed captain and leader of a basement team does not cut it. Blame it on the circus that is the Tampa Bay management, but Vinny needs to start producing.

DEFENSEMEN
Mike Green - This pick is more of a recognition for his break out second half last year. Luckily, I can justify this pick because of his 14 points from the blueline, which ties him for second in the East. He's got a great shot from the blueline, and pinches in when need be. He is also a +11
Andrei Markov - a great start to the season. Has dropped off a little recently, but so has the rest of the Habs. Marko deserves the recognition here, and I am certain he will get it
I wouldn't be disappointed if... Daniel Girardi or Filip Kuba get voted in. These two are not on the ballot, while Ryan Whitney, Sergei Gonchar and Teppo Numinnen are. Kuba is leading the East defenseman in points and recorded a streak that Bobby Orr did not even match. Girardi (14 points) on the other hand has been the best defenseman on the best team in the East. These two both deserve recognition.
I would be disappointed if... If anyone else, but Chara and Kaberle (and the above mentioned) from the ballot get voted in. The East ballot for defenseman is weak an questionable. Some guys on the ballot have not even played. NHL has to do something about this.
After getting pumped by Milan Lucic, I will be extremely upset if Mike Komasarek gets voted in.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Take that Lundy.


Henrik Lundqvist has now gone 16 games without a shutout. By this time last year, he had 4, and led the league with 10. It's time to let King Henrik go. Go ahead and pick up Ondrej Pavalec until Henrik gets a shutout... psyche.
Despite Lundy's struggles to post a shutout, he is tied for the league lead with 10 wins and has only let in 2 goals or more twice this season... TWICE!
He beat the Devils tonight for the 14th time in 16 games for his career.
Fantastically
, keep Lundy active in all situations.

Bruce Boudreau's Frankenstein is alive. Fantasy freaks are finally rejoicing after Coach BB put Alex Semin, Nick Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin on a line together tonight. The Caps beat the Canes in a Southeast battle and the trio had their hand in every goal... EVERY GOAL! They combined for 12 points... 12 POINTS!! Semin had 2 & 3; Backs had 1 & 3 and OV had 1 & 2.
Fantastically, if you are an owner of any of these three, start sending your secret crush letters to Coach BB and book your ticket to the top of your league.

The Columbus Blue Jackets lost 5-2 tonight to the Phoenix Coyotes. Despite their 2 goals, Derick Brassard had his hand in 2 of them, tallying a G and an A.
Fantastically, if you haven't picked him up by now, you're probably too late. If he is still in the FA pool, you're league doesn't deserve to exist. Grab the leading Calder candidate now. Do not pay high for him in trade.

Craig Anderson posted a 24 save shutout over the Lightning... take that Lundy. Roberto Luongo goes for his 4th straight shutout tonight vs the Aves... take that Lundy.
Fantastically, if you want to grab Anderson, go ahead. But there is a reason why he is owne in 2% of Yahoo! leagues.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Evan Longoria: AL Rookie of the Year


It wasn't even close. Who was even considered? Alexei Ramirez... gimme a break. Become a fan of Longoria because he's going to be around for awhile.

MATT HOLLID - A's

The East gets BEAST-lier

A day after I dreamt of a dream lineup for the Philadelphia Phillies, the Okland A's have won the Matt Holliday sweeps, as they acquire Holliday for Huston Street, Greg Smith, Ryan Sweeney and Carlos Gonzalez. Buster Olney, as well as other baseball gurus have reported this transaction.

Great trade for both sides, as Colorado gets what they wanted - a major league ready contributor (Smith and Street) and two super prospects who have potential down the road.
In terms of fantasy impact, the AL West just got tougher to pitch against. But who will protect Holliday in the middle of that order? Oakland still has some work to do in the off-season (Jason Giambi, perhaps? to keep team from pitching away from their newest slugger.

A deeper look into the dimensions of Oakland Coliseum display a standard 330 ft to the poles and 400 ft to center. However, to the gaps, it is (only) 362 ft. Compare this to Coors (where Holliday was so comfortable, according to Rosenthal) 350 ft to the poles, 415 to center and 390 to the gaps.
Comparing the smaller dimension of the Colesium to the light air of Coors is something for the Discovery Channel (good show, actually. Check it out). However, I would safely predict that Holliday should not see a dip in productio. Facing the Texas Rangers' and Seattle MAriners rotation during divisional play should help some as well.

One thing remains: how does Holliday look in green and gold?

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Pink Sunday


CARMELO ANTHONY CUT HIS HAIR!
Apparently he lost a bet to his friend "Munch". I'm sure the plug for NBA 08 had nothing to do with it. Watch the video.





MATT HOLLIDAY WOULD SURE LOOK GOOD IN (PHILLY) RED The Rockies look like they are going to trade their star before he hits free agency next year. Among the teams vouching for his services are St. Louis and Philadelphia. Can you imagine a lineup with Utley, Howard and Holliday? Article: Ken Rosenthal examines Holliday's significance outside of Coors










Jake Peavy's Train has left the Station This, according to Padres GM, Kevin Towers, who has narrowed it down to Atlanta, the Cubs (and St Louis).
If he goes to Chicago, the Cubs will have potentially three 20 games winners If he goes to ATL, he will be close to home, which is nice, but with the Mets and Phillies in the same division, will be tough road to the playoffs.







TOM KOSTOPOLOUS SHOULD BE SUSPENDED His hit last night on Mike Van Ryn was brutal. What an asshole. Watch the video. Apparently this cheap hit inspired other Habs players (Saku Koivu and Sergei Kostitsyn) to take more cheap shots, this time on Mr. Hot - Mikhail Grabovski.






MILT STEGALL - FIRST CLASS IDIOT
Milt guaranteed victory last night, and lost. He wanted the stadium sold out and didn't get that either.
Here's his rant on how hockey isn't a sport. I don't like it when people bash other sports. Which is why i lost respect for Tiger Woods. If he can tell me why people should care about the CFL, I'll tell him why hockey IS a real sport. To say he would challenge a hockey player to a fight is ridiculous.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

NHL Saturday Recap


Roberto Luongo
just scored his 3rd shutout in a row. He hasn't even won 3 games in a row yet this season. He stopped 29 tonight against the Minny Wild. Nicklas Backstrom has been playing lights out as well, but Louie has been unstoppable this week. If you can somehow relate his recent success to Brodeur's injury, be my guest.
Fantastical View - The Canucks may not score more than 2 games every night (which is understandably frustrating for owners), but if Louie isn't letting up any goals, then the Canucks can score as less as they want. Keep Louie as a must start.

Danny Briere stormed back from the IR tonight with a goal. The Flyers did lose, however. In other Flyer news, new acquisition, Matt Carle was second on the team tonight in TOI with 25+ minutes. He was a -1.
Fantastical View - Lining up with Gagne and Knuble, and seeing first unit powerplay time, Briere is definitely going to have a better year than last.

In a night of "welcome back's", Olli Jokinen had a G and an A; while Kristian Huselius did not play against the Flames tonight.
Fantastical View - My prediction of the big line of the Yotes to break out against the Panthers was somewhat true. Jokinen had 2 points, Mueller had a goal, but Doan was left off the score sheet. In Huselius' place on the Brassard line tonight was Jason Chimera, who popped a goal. Brassard also scored his team leading 6th goal. Turned out to be the game winner.

Speaking of the Jackets, Steve Mason won his 3rd straight game tonight, stopping 22 of 23 shots against the (hot) Flames.
Fantastical View - Mason's recent play has forced Ken Hitchcock to take away the temporary #1 goalie position from Frederick Norena. Until Pascal Leclaire comes back, stash Mason as a good 3rd option and ride him while he is hot. Interesting turn of events in Columbus. Ken Hitchcock is not one who likes to play young studs, but is forced to because of results. Mason, Brassard and Voracek have been standouts this season. This team will be competitive for years with the addition of Nikita Filatov in the near future.

Leafs beat the Habs 6-3.

Fantastical View - Wow. That Grabovski is sure fun to watch. Even when he is getting cheap shots from Saku Koivu and Sergei Kostitsyn.

When will you slow down, Alex Semin? Another G and an A tonight for the other Alex.

Fantastical View
- 21 points in 13 games... his value will never be so high as it is right now. Sell high - it's the capitalist way of life.


Brian Boucher
got the start tonight, as promised, against the Dallas Stars. He won, no surprise.

Fantastical View
- one more guaranteed start, and maybe another one after that. If you need cheap and temporary wins, Brian's your boy.

NHL Saturday Spectacular


Danny Briere
must have been drinking lots of milk and eating his veggies over the past 2 weeks. He is expected to play tonight against the Lightning after only 2 weeks of abdominal surgery. The ETA of Briere after surgery was originally 3-4 weeks, but will be back tonight with Gagne and Knuble on his wings.
Fantastical Outlook
- Get Danny off the IR right now and insert him for tonight (is possible. Unfortunately for me, i found out too late and am unable to activate him tonight) against the defensively challenged Lightning. Briere moves back to the top line with 2 of the hottest wingers in the Atlantic, while Glen Metropolit will likely move back down to the 4th line.

In other Flyers news, they traded two Steve's (Eminger and Downie) for a Matt (Carle). And better yet, Carle will make his Flyer debut tonight against Tampa Bay! Exciting stuff.
Fantastical Outlook
- Matt Carle was supposed to be the answer to Dan Boyle's departure in TBay. That didn't work out, and he will most likely be a 4th-5th defenseman in Philly, with 2nd unit powerplay time. Expect him to come out with points in his first couple games, and fizzle out.

Hi, my name is
RJ Umberger, and I am a Habs killer. After single handedly eliminating the Habs from last year's playoffs, RJ struck again last night for the first goal of the game.
Fantastical Outlook - RJ is back on the top line with Nash and Jason Chimera. While I like the Brassard line better, if RJ can get Nash clicking again, then he will be a worthy pick up. Until then, leave him on your watch list. If Brassard is still a free agent, pick him up.

Mark Parrish had a hat trick last night... Mark Parrish? Yes, Mark Parrish. He played with Avery and Modano.
Fantastical Outlook - don't be so quick pull the trigger. Instead of Parrish, I would look at highly touted free agent Swede, Fabian Brunnstrom, who moved to the big line last night with Morrow and Ribeiro, with the addition of Parrish in the lineup.

Sidney Crosby
is questionable tonight as the Pens play the Islanders. They don't really need him for tonight's game, but fantasy owners have to be weary about Crosby's somewhat continued minor injuries
Fantastical Outlook
- every Crosby owner should simultaneously tell him to grow a pair.

Kristian Huselius
and Olli Jokinen play their former teams tonight.
Fantastical Outlook - I expect both of these players to have good games tonight. While "Juice" was not a Mike Keenan's type player, he will try and prove to his former coach what they lost. The Doan-Jokinen-Mueller line has to be better. No better time than tonight against his former team and against the lowly Panthers.

To follow up on the previous post,
Evgeni Nabokov's injury is not serious, according to the San Jose Mercury News. However, Nabby will take the next two games off, while Brian Boucher will try his bid for 2 more shutouts.
Fantastical Outlook - Great news for Sharks fans and Nabby owners. As far as Boucher, if you desperately need 2 wins, he makes a smart option.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

BREAKING: Sharks Win, Nabby Injured

Just finished watching a great Sharks-Blues game, which the Sharks won in a shootout winner by Ryan Clowe, who was the hero of the game.
HOWEVER, after making a shootout save on Patrick Bergund, it looked as if Evgeni Nabokov hyperextended his left knee. When the Sharks flooded the ice after the win, Nabokov stayed still on the ice and had to helped up by Jeremy Roenick. As he left the ice, he was putting no weight on his left knee and had to be assisted by team trainers.
Still too early to say the severity, but I would bank on Brian Boucher to make the next start.
In the midst of watching post game show. I will update when I hear more news.

NHL Thursday Night Extravaganza

Ales Hemsky is the best player ever. Overstatement. But lately, he has been unstoppable. He scored his 4th goal of the season tonight, which was also his 4th TSN Highlight of hte Night candidate nomination. The thing I love about this guy is that he is so easy to cheer for because he makes all his goals count. They aren't little tips or crease goals, they are goals that make an NBA fan appreciate hockey.
Fantasy Analysis - If you are looking to grab Hemmer, you are probably a week late. If you are lucky to own him, expect a career year at a point per game rate.

The St Louis Blues goaltender tonight is Ben Bishop. He is 6'7".
Fantasy Analysis - that's tall.

Shea Weber has 7 goals. Alex Ovechkin has 2
Fantasy Analysis - If there was any time Ovechkin would be considered a Buy Low candidate, it would be now. Shea Weber is a monster.

Nicklas Backstrom was a +1 tonight. Why is this news? Because there is nothing else to say about his season so far. While Ovechkin posted 3 assists and Semin had 2 goal night (including the winner), Backstrom continues to struggle. The dreaded sophomore jinx is an easy explanation, but how about the steady play of Sergei Fedorov and Michael Nylander, who have relegated Backstrom to 3rd line duties with Brooks Laich and Victor Kozlov.
Fantasy Analysis - Backstrom is the leading vote getter right now for 1st Team Buy Low All Star. Get him now from a frustrated owner. He is too talented and Fedorov and Nylander are too brittle for Coach Boudreau to keep him on the 3rd line.

While NicklBack struggles, NiklBack is hot, and Nickelback still sucks. The Minny goaltender won his 8th game tonight in 11 games, stopping 34 shots against the Colorado Avalanche.
Fantasy Analysis - Keep rolling him as a #1 starter. Who needs Gaborik? The Wild continue to win without him. If Gabby is asking for 8-9 million+ per year, I'd send him packing for a package of young players (maybe including Jordan Staal, who would fit right into Lemaire's defensive system)

Mike Smith, among the league leaders in SV% and GAA, will se them go down tonight, as he gave up 5 goals on 35 shots. Perhaps he was paying too much attention to Adam Voros, who he kind of dropped the gloves with, and not on stopping the puck.
Fantasy Analysis - game to forget, but the Rangers are now 3-0 against the Lightning this year. Keep Smith as a decent #2 and real good #3 goalie, who will see a lot of shots and save most of them.

Mikhail Grabovski scored his 6th goal of the season tonight. In my opinion, one of the hardest working lines in hockey, thus making them one of the best lines in hockey right now, Grabovski - Hagman - Kulemin continue to roll. Ron Wilson has these guys forechecking and using their incredible speed and hands. It is fun to watch
Fantasy Analysis - If you are in a deep league, keep these guys atop your watch list. Someone has to score for the Leafs (right?), and I'm betting it will be one of these 3 guys.

Blake Wheeler had a hat trick tonight.I've been waiting for this guy to break into the NHL for a long time.
Fantasy Analysis - I've never been a big fan of the Bruins, but they have some weapons on their team. That being said, Wheeler is a little bit down the line from being a top Bruin option.

In Tavares Watch 2009, The Atlanta Thrashers beat the New York Islanders 4-3 tonight. How did they do it? The Islanders decided to play with their off hands in the 3rd period, which led to 3 unanswered Thrashers goals.
Fantasy Analysis - a line consisting of John Tavares and Kyle Okposo looks pretty dangerous in a few years.

My take on what will happen in New Jersey: Lou Lamorello has a few options, but he is not the type of guy to go out and spend a lot on a temporary fix. Among goalies available are Nikolai Khabibulin, Olaf Kolzig, and Dwayne Roloson.
The Hawks desperately want to get rid of Bulin, but I don't think Uncle Lou wants to take on that contract.
Olaf Kolzig used to be really good, but I think I would rather have Kevin Weekes.
Of the 3 goalies, Roloson seems to be the best fit. He has proven to still be effective, not too pricey, and has a demeanor similar to Brodeur, where he knows his role.
My bet is that they will roll with Weekes for a bit to get a few wins under his belt to prove to other GM's that they are not desperate for a goalie, to lower the value of the other goalies, then Lou will acquire a goalie.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Future is Robotic

Some sound advice to the NHL: get rid of the f’n cliches!

Jeremy Roenick mentioned it at the start of the season when asked about Sean Avery’s criticism of the NHL’s lack of success in term of marketing: more and more players, especially the younger generation are becoming too robotic during press opportunities. This is part of the reason why the NHL’s marketing schemes have not been as successful as they liked. They have focused on Sidney Crosby, and rightfully so because he has been dubbed the “next one” since he was 8 and when you have a talent like that, you have to take advantage of it (unless if you are Alexander Semin). However, the other part of the NHL’s marketing problem is not their problem at all - it is the players’.



Too many times, especially after the lockout period, I have seen the younger players being too careful in what they say. Often times, I see myself predicting to the TV exactly what they will say, and more times than not, my predictions come true. The big problem is that from a young age, blue chip talent is recognized and immediately given a big thick text book on media relations. This text book will dictate that athlete’s personality for his or her career. And it is boring, predictable and in the end - impossible to market.

What makes other leagues successful in marketing and selling their game is what they do off the ice. People are interested in what players have to say. Look at the NBA with Shaq. Nothing is scripted with him and the result is that he draws interest from fans to the game. In the NFL, Chad Johnson is consistently featured on SportsCenter with his locker room chatter. Sure, there are more examples of text book media relations in those leagues than not, but the NHL rarely has anybody speaking out.

If the NHL wants to evolve, they need to convince their players to be more... interesting. Fans flock to Alexander Ovechkin, not only because he scores goals, but he allows himself to be exposed to the media and he does not follow the media relations text book. His Youtube video of he and the Caps rolling around on Segways around the city are an example of this. He is very open to joking around with the media and not afraid to censor his thoughts.

This is not to say that media relations is not important. Media relations is one of the most important thing when managing professional athletes. However, showing a little personality will do wonders for NHL’s marketing project. Even if it is Jeremy Roenick dancing on skates, or Jason Spezza sounding like an amateur in every interview, it shows personality that has the potential to draw interest from the pubic.

I point out this issue because I felt uncomfortable and disturbed as I watched James Duthie interview John Tavares tonight on TSN. Inteviewer Duthie opened the door numerous times to provide the hockey world with some personality to the potential 2009 #1 overal draft pick, but Tavares looked scared, with his head down, answering questions that I would have rather read in a text book.


Jon Toews keeping it real.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Zaun vs Kypreos

Last week, I was listening to Hockey Central @ Noon on Sportsnet (or Fan 590) as I always do during lunch on Fridays. Nick Kypreos, former NHLer and current radio/TV personality, talked about how he brought Greg Zaun, current Toronto Blue Jays catcher, to the Leaf game hte night before. While the two were in the alumni box at the ACC, among other Leafs’ alumni, “Zaunie” commented about how catching is similar to goaltending in hockey, and how he could probably play goalie. Immediately, Kypr’s voice got serious. He contended, and rightfully so, that the two positions are much different, but equally difficult.

The challenge was set: In this battle of professional athletes turned Ted Rogers’ employees (as Greg Zaun is Sportsnet’s World Series analyst, more on that at the bottom), Curtis Joseph would help Greg Zaun suit up the pads and would try to stop just one of ten shots that Nick Kypreos would shoot at him.

The Youtube video says it all. Kypr was a good sport about it: he knew that he could not sleep at night and call himself a champion unless if he challenged Zaunie’s “bread and butter” - his glove hand. Zaun did not exactly stone Kypr’s 10th and final shot, but he saved the puck from hitting the back of the net. Nonetheless, Zaun’s facial expression told the story of utter domination by Kypreo. Throughout the contest, Kypreos only had to make a slight twitch of his stick and the puck would be in the net.


Round 1 went to Kypreos, but Round 2 is set for the baseball diamond. The challenge is unknown, but what is known is that Ted Rogers certainly knows how to pick ‘em.




Greg Zaun. As a fan, you either subscribe to “Zaunbie Nation” or you loathe the fact that there is even a club devoted to him. Love him or not, he is a great baseball analyst. I was really impressed of how he broke down the game to every little detail. He commented on what some would call a base running mistake by Jimmy Rollins in game 5* and turned it into a smart play to avoid the double play. He gave tips to Evan Longoria’s hit or miss swing, that Evan evidently did not hear. This knowledge of the game innately comes with being a catcher for so many years, including a World Series year with the Florida Marlins. The catcher has to focused on every situation with every pitch in the game, and this mental focus is what persuaded him to perhaps compare catching to goaltending. If Zaun keeps up his knowledge of the game, he will be employed by Ted Rogers beyond his playing days. If there was one word of advice I would give to Greg Zaun, it would be to go to Sean McCormick for fashion tips because the zest over dress shirt look is not doing anything. Oh yeah, and stick to blocking baseballs, not pucks.

Friday, October 24, 2008

NHL Saturday Proline Picks (Winners in Bold)

New Jersey vs Philadelphia - Brodeur was peppered for 6 goals last night, so expect Kevin Weekes to get his first start and Philly putting up another 6 goals. Plus the Flyers didn't move up their game for the World Series to lose.

Atlanta vs Boston - Thrashers are on the back end of a back to back and Boston will be better after giving up a 2 goal lead to the Leafs.

Ottawa vs Toronto - This is a close one to call. But the Leafs suck, so take the Sens in a shootout.

Anaheim vs Montreal - Could be the game of the night. Take Montreal on every ticket until they lose.

Carolina vs NY Islanders - I don't like anything about the Isles, so take the Canes.

Pittsburgh vs NY Rangers - Coin flip. The Pens look like they are playing better hockey, though.

San Jose vs Tampa Bay - Even though San Jose lost last night, there is no way you can't take them here.

Los Angeles vs Nashville - The Preds are at home and Arnott is back.

Columbus vs Minnesota - The Wild are hot and the Jackets are not.. good on the road.

Washington vs Dallas - The Stars are playing better hockey mainly because Turco is closing his legs more. When is Ovechkin going to start playing?

Florida vs St Louis - Despite the Panthers' win over San Jose, St Louis is still a better option.

Detroit vs Chicago - Upset pick of the night. Take the Hawks to catch the Wings flat footed on their back end of a back to back. Tonight both teams will also unveil their Outdoor Hockey Classic jerseys.

Buffalo vs Colorado - Thomas Vanek is leading the world in goals, stick with the Sabres until they cool down.

Edmonton vs Vancouver - None of these teams are playing up to their potential, but the Canucks are playing worse.

Calgary vs Phoenix - I like Yotes and I don't trust the Flames.

Jays Sign Loewen, Claim Bullington!

According to TSN.ca, the Toronto Blue Jays have signed Canadian pitcher turned outfielder, Adam Loewen and claimed formed first overall pick, Bryan Bullington from the Cleveland Indians.

Loewen, drafted 4th overall in 2002, is well known around these parts (southern Ontario and the rest of Canada) for being the highest Canadian ever drafted in the MLB draft. After failing as a pitcher in the Baltimore Orioles' organization, he made a career move this past summer by attempting to transform himself into a position player. Hitting is not a new thing to Loewen. When he played for the Canadian National Junior team, when he was not pitching, he was playing outfield or used as the designated hitter.

Joining Loewen as the newest Blue Jay is
Bryan Bullington, who was drafted first overall in the same 2002 draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was given a short stint with the big club this past summer, but failed to win a game.

Both players were very highly touted coming out of the draft; however, since then, they have not come close to their potential. Both these moves have a low risk and medium reward, nonetheless are great moves by the Jays based on the players' talent level. Despite these two good signings from the 2002 draft, this does not hide the Blown Call that they made when they selected Russ Adams, when Tulowitzki and Hamels were still on the board.

Blown Call of the Week

Since this is my first entry, I thought it would be appropriate to start with the theme of this blog: The Blown Call. Once in a while, I will return to this theme because it is an aspect in all sports that has not changed. Whether it be a blown call by an umpire, referee, coach, player, aunt, uncle or financial consultant - we are all human, we make mistakes all the time. Because of this fact, amidst the various rule changes throughout sports history, one common theme remains: The Blown Call.

Blown Call Entry #1: October 23, 2008 - Philadelphia Phillies vs Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays, World Series Game 2
Guilty: Kerwin Danley, Home Plate Umpire
Casualty: Brett Myers, Starting Pitcher

Kerwin Danley is one of the great umpires in the majors today. He is a twelve year veteran and does not shy away from sticking his neck in the line of fire. This is best exemplified when he took a 96 mph heater from Brad Penny this year in the mask. He controls the strike zone, the game, and his emotions. However, last night was his first attempt in his career at home plate in the World Series. Broadcasters go on about how the World Series (or the Super Bowl or Stanley Cup, etc.) are the biggest stage in sports and naturally nerves will affect performance. Danley's blown call last night directly correlates to the affect nerves had on his own performance.

It was the bottom of the second inning. One out, one on and a full count to Rocco Baldelli. Myers winds, fires, and Baldelli offers. Danley's right arm goes up to what is supposed to symbolize strike three, but Baldelli jogs to first. Danley then appeals to the first base umpire, who proceeds to justify Baldelli's ball four.

Did this botched call potentially change the outcome of the game? Probably not, but it would have made the game much closer and less controversial. The next batter, Jason Bartlett, had a swinging bunt single to load the bases. Knowing Brett Myers' short temper, it is amazing that he did not blow a gasket and allow the Rays to blow the game open. (Kudos to Phillies' pitching coach, Rich Dubee, went out to the mound and assured Myers that waffles, not hoagies will be the post game meal). Two batters later, BJ Upton singled home Navarro (who was on third) and Baldelli was thrown out at the plate on the same play (so Baldelli was 2 outs in the same inning).

After the game, Danley said the quick right arm vertical movement was to ask to the first base umpire for an appeal. This explanation is very possible, but unconvincing. Judging by the immediateness of the call, Baldelli's offer to the pitch and the location of what could have been a called strike anyway, Kerwin Danley is awarded our very first "Blown Call of the Week" award. Coming in at a close second place for this award was whoever decided to let the Los Lonely Boys (really?) to sing the Star Spangled Banner in the same game.