Archive for October, 2012

Can the NHL Be Fixed?

Posted: October 26, 2012 in Uncategorized

ImageThe man on the left is Gary Bettman, Commissioner of the National Hockey League. The man to his right, Donald Fehr, is the Executive Director of the NHL Players Association. With the league currently mired in a potentially season ending lockout, these are the men whose heads belong on a stick in the minds of the NHL’s collective fan base.

Just eight years ago, the NHL lost the entire 2004-2005 season due to a labor dispute. That coming ten years after half of the 1994-1995 season was suspended for the same reason. All of this has come under Bettman’s watch. So, why do NHL fans put up with it? Our love for the game of hockey is one thing. But, there are always alternatives. The AHL, ECHL, CHL, KHL, and other foreign leagues offer competitive hockey at a fraction of the price to see NHL games. As billionaire owners quarrel with millionaire players, the fans are left out to dry. But, the NHL isn’t concerned. They believe that, much like in 2005, the fans will come back. Like picking the Eagles to cover against an 0-5 team, I think that is a bad bet to make.

For one, the players themselves have shown inclinations to not return to North America if they don’t get their way. Washington Capitals’ superstar LW Alexander Ovechkin stated that unless he is paid his full salary for the lost season, he will remain in Russia, his home country. While this may just be posturing by an overpaid and dimwitted player, it shows that the NHL is not holding all of the cards. 

The owners, meanwhile, desperately want salaries to go down. It has been reported that at least 25 teams lost money last season as a result of a rising salary cap and rocketing salaries. Of course, the argument can be made that the owners dug their own grave by signing those contracts. But, since when were rich people held accountable for their failures in this country? It is really not surprising that so many teams have been losing money. Southern franchises like Phoenix and Tampa Bay are almost forced to give away tickets in order to keep a packed house. In Philadelphia or New York, the cheapest tickets are usually at least $80-90. In Tampa Bay, a family of four can get four tickets, four hot dogs, four sodas, and four programs for $70. A smorgasbord of goodies for less than the price of one ticket in a valuable market. This is the problem with the NHL. 

Truth be told, there is no easy solution. Contraction/relocation is one possible way out of this financial mess. But, you’d have to first convince Bettman that his 1990’s expansion to the south was a failure. Good luck with that. You would then have to find enough successful hockey markets and capable venues in those markets to house the failing franchises. Teams such as Phoenix, Tampa Bay, Florida, Nashville, Dallas (more related to ownership than the market size), and Columbus are all struggling to find their niche in their home markets. 

Right now, the most viable cities for relocation include: Hamilton, ON, Seattle, WA, Quebec City, QB, or another team in Toronto. Former NHL markets that could also be considered include Hartford, CT and Kansas City, MO. But, their past failures and relatively small market size suggest that they’re longshots. 

Of the cities listed above, the most likely destinations for any team are Quebec City and Hamilton. Since the Nordiques bolted Quebec for Colorado in 1995, the citizens have been yearning for a return. So much so that they have begun building a new arena set to open in 2015. It would not surprise anyone to see Phoenix move to Quebec by that time. 

In the end, it is going to take a lot more than just relocating a few fledgling markets to bring the NHL back from the dead. It will take new leadership, a new mindset, and a willingness to compromise that seems like a lost art in today’s confrontational age.

 

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2012-2013 NBA Season Preview

Posted: October 26, 2012 in Uncategorized

ImageThe 2012-2013 NBA season is just about upon us. The season tips-off on Tuesday night, when the Washington Wizards and the Cleveland Cavaliers bring their rampant mediocrity to Quicken Loans Arena. We here at SkoodSports believe that basketball is a nice sport. But, it’s still #4 on our list. So, this preview won’t be something you’d find in a John Hollinger column. Still, we think you’ll find some insight and, if nothing else, be able to make fun of the blog at the end of the year for how dramatically wrong we were.

NBA Standings Predictions

Atlantic Division

1. Philadelphia 76ers – What a transformation this team has undergone in just one offseason. Gone are veteran leaders Andre Iguodala and Elton Brand. Welcome to Philadelphia, Andrew Bynum, Jason Richardson, and Dorell Wright. The 76ers were 6-1 in the preseason and should, barring injury, see improvements out of their backcourt that should have them thinking towards a deep playoff run. Win range: 48-54
2. Brooklyn Nets – I really like the Nets this season. Former 76ers GM Billy King went into this offseason hoping to poach Dwight Howard from Orlando. He failed in that quest. However, he was successful in acquiring Joe Johnson to go along with Deron Williams, Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, and Brook Lopez. Win range: 44-50
3. Boston Celtics – That’s right. I’m not drinking the Celtics’ kool-aid this season. Everyone seems to still consider them a championship contender (even though they haven’t won a championship since the Bush administration). Losing Ray Allen is rough. But, the real problem will be their front court. Can Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce really be relied upon to stay healthy again? Win range: 43-49
4. New York Knicks – I’m sure I’ll get some flak for this. But, the Stoudemire-Anthony experience is looking more and more like a failure. Grabbing two superstars who play no defense and surrounding them by washed up veterans is usually a recipe for fourth place in a tough division. Win range: 40-46
5. Toronto Raptors – Andrea Bargnani is a nice complimentary player. But, he and Kyle Lowry will not be enough to lift this team out of the Atlantic gutter. Win range: 22-28

Central Division

1. Indiana Pacers – This is a very talented team that will not go under the radar anymore. Paul George, George Hill, Danny Granger, Roy Hibbert, and David West compose an offensive juggernaut that should contend for home court in the Eastern Conference. Win range: 49-55
2. Chicago Bulls – With Derrick Rose, this is probably the division favorite. But, the 2011 NBA MVP will miss a majority of the season with the knee injury he suffered last postseason. Can his teammates rally enough to get Chicago back to the playoffs? I think so. Win range: 46-52
3. Cleveland Cavaliers – Just one year removed from their worst season in franchise history, the Cavaliers should approach the .500 mark behind Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters. Win range: 34-40
4. Milwaukee Bucks – Sorry, I just don’t think that a combination backcourt of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis equates to success on the scoreboard. Win range: 32-38
5. Detroit Pistons – Tons of talent on this team that could mean a bright future. Brandon Knight, Greg Monroe, and Andre Drummond should be a dynamite 1-2-3 combo in 2014. Win range: 24-30

 Southeast Division

1. Miami Heat – Miami will be the kings of the worst division in basketball yet again. Win range: 65-71
2. Atlanta Hawks – Picking a #2 team in this division was like picking the most washed up member of “The Expendables.” Atlanta lost a couple of starters from their former core. But, they added Devin Harris and have Al Horford for an entire season. They should easily be able to outgun the “Three Stooges” behind them. Win range: 42-48
3. Washington Wizards – John Wall is a great player. I think in time, he and Bradley Beal will form a lethal backcourt combination for our nation’s capital. But, the 2012-2013 incarnation of the team has no offensive presence in the front court and is too immature to buy as a playoff team. Win range: 32-38 
4. Charlotte Bobcats – The Bobcats and Magic might be the two worst teams in basketball. Getting screwed by the lottery certainly didn’t help North Carolina’s sole franchise. Win range: 18-24
5. Orlando Magic – The Magic almost had a trade that would have brought MarShon Brooks and Brook Lopez from the Nets. That alone would have almost guaranteed them fourth place in this division. But, they instead settled for a collection of raw talent and draft picks that could leave them with the #1 pick next June. Win range: 15-21

Northwest Division

1. Oklahoma City Thunder – It’s a pretty easy bet to suggest that OKC is going to win the Northwest. Their talent is undeniable and they should be either a 1 or 2 seed in the playoffs. Win range: 58-64
2. 
Denver Nuggets – The Nuggets added Andre Iguodala to an already strong defensive unit. If Ty Lawson can continue to improve, the Nuggets could give OKC a run for their money. Win range: 50-56 
3. Minnesota Timberwolves – I’m a bit torn here thanks to Kevin Love’s injury. If he, Ricky Rubio, and Brandon Roy are healthy, the T-Wolves could easily beat out the Nuggets for second place. If not, they could have trouble staying ahead of Utah. Win range: 44-50 
4. Utah Jazz – The Jazz have a nightmare front court for opposing teams to confront led by Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, and Derrick Favors. However, their backcourt is raw and I don’t think that Mo Williams is a capable starting PG anymore. Win range: 40-46 
5. Portland Trailblazers – The Blazers have been sent back lightyears thanks to their selection of Greg Oden over Kevin Durant back in 2007 and Brandon Roy’s retirement (and subsequent renaissance with the Timberwolves). They had a nice draft and should be poised to contend in a few years. But, last place in a tough division seems more likely. Win range: 22-28

Pacific Division

1. Los Angeles Lakers – Their 0-8 preseason record notwithstanding, the Lakers have the most talented starting-five in the NBA. The acquisitions of Steve Nash and Dwight Howard should set them up for a long summer. Win range: 60-66
2. Los Angeles Clippers – 
The Clippers, long the Lakers’ ugly little sister, have finally outgrown their homely past and look to contend once again behind Blake Griffin and Chris Paul. Win range: 49-56
3. Golden State Warriors – Count me as one who loved the trade of Monta Ellis for Andrew Bogut. If Stephen Curry can stay healthy, the Warriors have a dynamic offensive unit with a strong interior presence in the former #1 overall pick out of Utah. Win range: 43-49
4. Sacramento Kings – Will they remain in Sacramento for the long haul? No one knows. But, the Kings have a strong young team led by DeMarcus Cousins, Tyreke Evans, and rookie Thomas Robinson. Win range: 37-43
5. Phoenix Suns – I like Goran Dragic. But, the rest of their roster looks like one of those old 1990s Sixers teams coached by John Lucas or Johnny Davis. Win range: 27-33

Southwest Division

1. San Antonio Spurs – The Spurs are still on top. I don’t care how old Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker are getting. As long as Greg Popovich is still their coach, they will be contenders. Win range: 50-56
2. Dallas Mavericks – There’s a lot of off-the-court malarkey going on in Big D right now. But, as long as Dirk Nowitzki returns and is healthy, they should be a playoff team. The additions of Darren Collison and OJ Mayo brings some complimentary offense to the table. Win range: 48-54
3. Memphis Grizzlies – The Grizzlies have had a dynamic front court for a few years now. They replace Mayo at SG with Jerryd Bayless, which is kind of a wash. Win range: 44-50
4. New Orleans Hornets – I like where this team is going. Just a year after they were forced to ship Chris Paul to the Clippers, New Orleans looks like a viable contender in 2014. The acquisitions of Anthony Davis and Ryan Anderson to go along with Eric Gordon should give the Big Easy something to cheer for. Win range: 34-40
5. Houston Rockets – Give this team a couple of years. After the sudden declines of Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming, the Rockets were left at the alter with their shoes-untied. They gave Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin too much money. But, the talented youth they acquired in the draft should have them in good shape soon enough. Win range: 25-31


Playoff Seeding

Eastern Conference

1. Miami Heat
2. Indiana Pacers
3. Philadelphia 76ers
4. Chicago Bulls
5. Brooklyn Nets
6. Boston Celtics
7. Atlanta Hawks
8. New York Knicks

Western Conference

1. Los Angeles Lakers
2. Oklahoma City Thunder
3. San Antonio Spurs
4. Denver Nuggets
5. Los Angeles Clippers
6. Dallas Mavericks
7. Memphis Grizzlies
8. Minnesota Timberwolves

Awards

MVP
LeBron James, Miami Heat

Rookie of the Year
PG Damian Lillard, Portland Trailblazers

Coach of the Year
Doug Collins, Philadelphia 76ers

Most Improved Player
Goran Dragic, Phoenix Suns

Defensive Player of the Year
Dwight Howard, Los Angeles Lakers

Sixth Man of the Year
James Harden, Oklahoma City Thunder


Playoff Predictions

First Round
1. Miami Heat – 4
8. New York Knicks – 1

2. Indiana Pacers – 4
7. Atlanta Hawks – 2

3. Philadelphia 76ers – 4
6. Boston Celtics – 3

4. Chicago Bulls – 4
5. Brooklyn Nets – 3

1. Los Angeles Lakers – 4
8. Minnesota Timberwolves – 2

2. Oklahoma City Thunder – 4
7. Memphis Grizzlies – 1

3. San Antonio Spurs – 4
6. Dallas Mavericks – 2

4. Denver Nuggets – 3
5. Los Angeles Clippers – 4

Second Round

1. Miami Heat – 4
4. Chicago Bulls – 3

2. Indiana Pacers – 2
3. Philadelphia 76ers – 4

1. Los Angeles Lakers – 4
5. Los Angeles Clippers – 0

2. Oklahoma City Thunder – 4
3. San Antonio Spurs – 2

Conference Finals 

1. Miami Heat – 4
3. Philadelphia 76ers – 1

1. Los Angeles Lakers – 4
2. Oklahoma City Thunder – 3

NBA Finals 

Miami Heat – 2
Los Angeles Lakers – 4

Who would have thought that the “cryptkeeper” could be quite so rad? John Clayton’s life is portrayed in today’s video of the day.

The Lucky Gambler

Posted: October 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

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Anyone who has ever bet on sports knows that it’s all a game of luck. This is even more true when a high stakes parlay is played. For those not familiar, a parlay is multiple bets made in alliance with each other. In other words, one can make multiple bets and, if they all come true, a larger profit will be the outcome. However, all of the bets need to succeed in order for the bettor to receive any payout. That is, after all, what makes it gambling.

Well, this weekend, a gambler on BetOnline.ag successfully won a 23-game parlay. His $100 bet, which was a lot to sacrifice in such a large parlay, earned him a staggering $25,772 payout. Talk about a heck of a fortune. Below are the games he bet and won:

Oregon -300 (beat Arizona State, 43-21)
Wisconsin -780 (beat Minnesota, 38-13)
Bowling Green -780 (beat Massachusetts, 24-0)
N. Illinois -660 (beat Akron, 37-7)
Rutgers -205 (beat Temple, 35-10)
LSU -165 (beat Texas A&M, 24-19)
Ohio St -940 (beat Purdue, 29-22 — overtime)
Vanderbilt -260 (beat Auburn, 17-13)
Notre Dame -500 (beat BYU, 17-14)
Alabama -1100 (beat Tennessee, 44-13)
Michigan -350 (beat Michigan State, 12-10 — winning FG with 5 seconds left)
Florida State -1300 (beat Miami, 33-20)
Louisville -245 (beat South Florida, 27-25)
Tulsa -1300 (beat Rice, 28-24)
Mississippi St -880 (beat Middle Tennessee, 45-3)
Kansas St +125 (beat West Virginia, 52-14)
Florida -175 (beat South Carolina, 44-11)
Central Florida -1300 (beat Memphis, 35-17)
Texas -340 (beat Baylor, 56-50)
Fresno State -675 (beat Wyoming, 42-14)
Oregon State -400 (beat Utah, 21-7)
49ers -380 (beat Seattle, 13-6)
Clemson -310 (beat Virginia Tech, 38-17)

I wish I had the luck of this lad. But, in the end, I don’t think I’d have the cojones to bet even $100 dollars on such slim odds. 

The Kwame Brown Lottery

Posted: October 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

Unfortunately for Sixers fans, they indeed won the lottery this year. Not only that, but they handed the former #1 overall bust a two-year contract.

I guess some General Manager’s never learn.

Week Eight Picks

Posted: October 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

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Last Week: 6-6-1
2012 Season: 50-51-2

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-4) AT Minnesota Vikings (5-2)

The Spread: Minnesota by 6.5
The Pick: Minnesota
The Score: Minnesota, 27-17
The Rationale: The home teams have dominated Thursday night football for the most part this season. Couple that with Tampa Bay’s 31st rank pass defense, and I have a feeling that Minnesota is not going to have too much trouble moving the football.

Atlanta Falcons (6-0) AT Philadelphia Eagles (3-3)

The Spread: Philadelphia by 2.5
The Pick: Atlanta
The Score: Atlanta, 24-21
The Rationale: Until Andy Reid and Mike Vick prove to me that they can stop giving games away, I won’t pick the Eagles.

Carolina Panthers (1-5) AT Chicago Bears (5-1)

The Spread: Chicago by 7.5
The Pick: Chicago
The Score: Chicago, 35-21
The Rationale: Chicago kind of screwed me last week by blowing the spread by allowing a late touchdown vs. Detroit. The Panthers shouldn’t be as much competition, as Cam Newton has looked more like Akili Smith than Donovan McNabb in his sophomore season.

San Diego Chargers (3-3) AT Cleveland Browns (1-6)

The Spread: San Diego by 2.5
The Pick: Cleveland
The Score: Cleveland, 24-23
The Rationale: Cleveland, despite their record, is a team on the rise. They’ve played most of their opponents this year competitively and San Diego is just the type of team that would lose on the road to a team that is less talented than they are.

Seattle Seahawks (4-3) AT Detroit Lions (2-4)

The Spread: Detroit by 2
The Pick: Detroit
The Score: Detroit, 23-17
The Rationale: Seattle on the road (1-3 this season) is almost a polar opposite from the way they play at home. The same can be said about Detroit, which is why they’re the smart pick to pull off a win at Ford Field.

Jacksonville Jaguars (1-5) AT Green Bay Packers (4-3)

The Spread: Green Bay by 14.5
The Pick: Green Bay
The Score: Green Bay, 44-14
The Rationale: I know I have stated in the past that I don’t like picking teams that who favored by more than two touchdowns. But, there are certain exceptions. Green Bay playing at home against one of the worst teams in football is one of them. The Packers’ offense has been clicking the past few weeks and Jacksonville is without RB Maurice Jones-Drew. Blaine Gabbert is expected to play. But, is he really that much of an improvement over Chad Henne?

Indianapolis Colts (3-3) AT Tennessee Titans (3-4)

The Spread: Tennessee by 3.5
The Pick: Tennessee
The Score: Tennessee, 26-20
The Rationale: The Colts are 0-2 on the road this year and they’ve been gashed for 141.7 yards allowed per game on the ground. With Chris Johnson re-finding his mojo last week, it could be a long afternoon for Indianapolis’ defense.

New England Patriots (4-3) AT St. Louis Rams (3-4)

The Spread: New England by 7
The Pick: New England
The Score: New England, 28-14
The Rationale: This game is being played at Wembley Stadium in London. Talk about a brutal stretch for the Rams. They have to host Green Bay last week then travel halfway across the world for a matchup with Tom Brady and the defending AFC Champions. I can’t see the Rams having enough fuel left in the fire to extinguish the Pats.

Miami Dolphins (3-3) AT New York Jets (3-4)

The Spread: New York by 2.5
The Pick: Miami
The Score: Miami, 23-19
The Rationale: The Jets lead the all-time series, 49-44-1. But, the Dolphins have won 3 out of the last 4 meetings at MetLife/Giants Stadium. I like what I’m seeing from this young Dolphins team. I’ll take Tannehill over Sanchez.

Washington Redskins (3-4) AT Pittsburgh Steelers (3-3)

The Spread: Pittsburgh by 4.5
The Pick: Washington
The Score: Washington, 27-21
The Rationale: The Redskins have been an enigma all season long. Then again, so have the Steelers. I’d like to take Pittsburgh here to win the game. But, there’s just something about RGIII that makes me think that Heinz Field will be no match for his greatness.

Oakland Raiders (2-4) AT Kansas City Chiefs (1-5)

The Spread: Kansas City by 2
The Pick: Oakland
The Score: Oakland, 31-14
The Rationale: Easiest pick of the week. The Chiefs are preparing for the #1 pick by starting Brady Quinn for the foreseeable future. Brady Quinn? We haven’t already seen enough of this guy to realize that he’s not an NFL QB? Good luck, Romeo.

New York Giants (5-2) AT Dallas Cowboys (3-3)

The Spread: New York by 2
The Pick: New York
The Score: New York, 34-19
The Rationale: This is starting to look like a lock as well. The Giants are on fire, having won three straight games. They also usually play well in Dallas. Couple this with Dallas’ home woes and the injuries to their defense and I think the Giants will salvage a split of the season series with Big D.

New Orleans Saints (2-4) AT Denver Broncos (3-3)

The Spread: Denver by 6
The Pick: New Orleans
The Score: New Orleans, 38-31
The Rationale: Talk about an offensive showcase on Sunday night. The Saints are clicking just in time to salvage their season. Meanwhile, Denver has made it a routine to fall behind before coming back late. I don’t think they’ll be able to keep up with the Saints if they let it happen again.

San Francisco 49ers (5-2) AT Arizona Cardinals (4-3)

The Spread: San Francisco by 6.5
The Pick: Arizona
The Score: San Francisco, 23-17
The Rationale: Both of these teams are struggling. The Cardinals have lost three in a row after a 4-0 start. Meanwhile, the 49ers’ offense has managed just one touchdown in two games. I like San Francisco to win. But, not by a touchdown.

Islanders Moving to Brooklyn

Posted: October 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

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It’s been awhile since SkoodSports has had a chance to talk about anything positive in hockey. Well, new reports are surfacing that signal and end to the Islanders’ tenure in Long Island. ESPN is reporting that the Islanders are following the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. A press conference is scheduled for 1:00 PM to announce the decision. Just what the hipsters in Brooklyn needed.

Meanwhile, there has been no hockey played this year. But, I’m sure most Islanders fans wouldn’t notice, anyway. There hasn’t been much quality hockey played on Long Island for decades.