Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Change for the Sake of Change: Not Always a Good Thing?

Paul Lukas' always excellent "Uni Watch" column over at ESPN.com had a great article today on the real effects of the NBA's little basketball switcheroo. Forget Shaq and his whining, the real problem lies not in a of bunch of disgruntled glorified ballerinas, but in the terrible ramifications this will have on the logo's of of most basketball teams. Now this is the hard hitting investigative journalism 64 Years and Counting can only aspire to.

Twenty-one of the NBA's thirty teams use a basketball in their logo, making them overnight anachronisms of a bygone era. The Toronto Raptors aren't spared by this either. Though they ditched their (oh-so-unfortunate)
dinosaur logo, it's replacement, despite being an improvement in every sense of the word, still suffers from old basketball syndrome.

Did nobody even bother to put any thought into the b-ball change? Any at all? Did they consider the millions of dollars that would go into updating 21 logos? Obviously not. David Stern was too busy trying to run his poorly covered despotism that he likes to call the National Basketball Association.


PS. Speaking of new jerseys, the Raps open up the season tomorrow against the Nets (now that was a segue). Take comfort in the knowledge that it would be physically impossible for them to start the season worse than last year.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

A Few Words on the Worst World Series Champs of All Time

Ew. The St. Louis Cardinals are the World Champions. This is so wrong on so many levels, we don't know where to start.

Yes we do actually. Let's start with the fact that the Tigers rolled over for them, playing a painful to watch game of possum. But that analogy only works so far because the possum is supposed to get up at the end and these Tigers clearly weren't pretending. The Tigers gave away a World Series title. It was theirs to lose. Because face it, the Cards weren't exceptional themselves (though Jeff Weaver's game five performance was about as good as it gets), but compared to the boys from Detroit, they were the freaking '98 Yankees. As far wiser talking heads have pointed out, St. Louis didn't beat Detroit, Detroit beat Detroit.

The Tigers just needed some token effort for the series, and they could have had it. St. Louis now has the ugly distinction of being the worst World Series winning team ever (in most news stories, the word "worst" is surrounded by quotation marks. This is not most news stories). They won a grand total of of 83 games.

83 games.

Do you know how many games the Toronto Blue Jays won in that same season? Hint: It was higher than 83, that's for damn sure. If there was a less deserving championship team in baseball history, we don't want to know about it.

Ahah, you might say, the regular season doesn't count for peanuts in the playoffs. Just look at the Edmonton Oilers. Nuh-uh buddy, that argument doesn't fly. There was nothing special about these Cardinals, there was no heart warming underdog label, just a bunch of semi-decent (and Chris Carpenter) baseball players plodding through October. There was nothing sexy about their run.

Compare that to the Tigers, who going into the Series, had all the momentum in the world. We frankly found it impossible to even conceive that Detroit could possibly lose, especially to such a bland team as St. Louis. Not that the Tiger's weren't bland too, but they had that magical playoff aura surrounding them that transformed every player into a potential playoff hero.

Except something went wrong. In the six days between sweeping the floor with Oakland, and beginning their first World Series since before anyone at 64 Years and Counting was ever born, something happened. The Tigers' momentum evaporated. Poof, and they were human again.

What's worse is that two years ago, the last time the Cards had a shot at the title, we were actually cheering for them. With all our heart and soul even. We were desperate to see them defeat Boston. The Cards were the only thing keeping the Sox from ending the curse, a prospect we weren't thrilled with (sharing a division with them does that to you). Except they didn't win. They didn't just not win the series, they didn't win a single game.

So that's why we don't like St. Louis. A forgettable team caps off a forgettable World Series in what has been an overall forgettable affair. But just imagine if Detroit had won it. Now that would have been a story. Just a few seasons removed from a 100 loss season, turning around and winning it all. That makes for good TV. St. Louis, does not.

In other news, the Ottawa Senator continued their regular season tradition of summarily kicking the crap out of Toronto, with back to back beatings this week. The Leafs can try to salvage some respect against Montreal in glorious Hockey Night in Canada action tonight. Or they could continue to embarrass themselves. Oh, and we heard Nik Antropov might be back tonight.

Guess which side we're leaning towards?


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Sour Grapes, à La Russa

To recap: Kenny Rogers had something on his hand in the first inning of his impressive win against the Cards. And apparently St. Louis manager Tony La Russa has suddenly become professional sport's defender of fair play, integrity and all that is good and holy. Whatever. Rogers cleaned up, and went on to shut them down for another seven innings. Case closed.

And all of a sudden that's old news now (64 Years and Counting: Always Late to the Party), since the Cardinals went out and gave the Tigers their own take on good pitching, a 5-0 shut down by former Jay, Chris Carpenter (we are actually legally required to point out any player that has ever worn a Toronto uniform. Except Vince Carter). The Cardinals are up 2-1 now, in what just might be shaping up as the first actual World Series since a bunch of scruffy Marlins took down the Evil Empire.

However, all of this is in flagrant disregard for our World Series predictions, but we haven't lost faith in the Tigers yet. Tigermentum is still a go.

Detroit wins in six. Simple as that


(P.S - The Ottawa Senators are officially "Back on Track", handing out back-to-back pummellings to New Jersey and (our beloved) Maple Leafs. Also, we might have to revise our predictions for Pittsburgh - if that trio plus Marc-Andre Fleury (M.A Fleury? Ma Fleury?) is as good as they were last night, this team could be scary)

Sunday, October 22, 2006

No, I Think I've Heard This One Before

The Leafs dropped their third game via shootout yesterday against the Rangers. The Leafs are one and three in that respect. The Leafs' shootout is pathetic this season, but that's hardly surprising, the Leafs' shootout was pathetic last year too.

It was the same usual suspects out there for the Leafs, Mats Sundin, Darcy Tucker and Alexei Ponikarovsky (which is a suspiciously similar trio to the one Coach Q always sent out). You can't question Mats Sundin's place, he's Toronto's best player and the man with the big C, he has to lead by example (his miss was tempered by the fact that his Blueshirt counterpart, Jaromir Jagr also missed). Darcy Tucker is questionable for shootouts. Sure he leads the team in goals, and he had two in the relevant game (which in a coach's mind means that player is "hot"), but Tucker doesn't score on breakaways. He scores by cleaning up the garbage. And Ponikabobsky? We love him, we do, but he should be ripping slapshots from the top of the circle, not dangling pucks in front of the goalie.

Granted, the Leafs don't have too much to work with when it comes to shootouts, no super finesse players (though Kyle Wellwood deserves a crack) who can turn a goalie inside out, twice, before the puck even leaves his stick.

The Leafs have lost three points on the season to the shootout. Last year, it was pointed out by the more observant media types that had the Leafs won just a couple more OT duels, they would have had hockey in May. Let's make sure that doesn't happen again.

In other news, the Detroit Tigers opened the World Series by playing possum, taking a 7-2 beating from St. Louis. Hah, those crazy Tigers, trying to infuse some drama into what was going to be another routine AL sweep, wasn't that thoughtful of them?

Tigermentum has made a brief pit stop, but it should be back on the road for game two. The Tigers win in five. Simple as that.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Um... It Was Funny The First Six Times

We were all for Buffalo's blistering undefeated start to the season (now at 7-0 thanks to win against Carolina) until it was pointed out to us that the record for win streaks is ten games, and belongs to a certain Toronto team.

The 1993-1994 Leafs started the season with ten straight wins, and would eventually make to the Conference finals, and probably would have won too if weren't for a non-call to that bastard Wayne Gretzky. Anyways, that season is one of the few bright points in the last forty years of Leaf history (actually... it is the bright point), and well shucks, we'd be ever so obliged if the Sabres could you know... lose.

In other news, the Raptors are undefeated in the pre-season. Is it time to start planning post season games at the ACC? In a word, no.

In other, other news, the Mets didn't win game seven.

Sigh. That means we have to throw our considerable weight behind Detroit and their Tigermentum. Seriously, this isn't even going to be close. The AL dominates when it comes to this kind of stuff, and that's even without the massive rolling snowball that is Detroit.

Detroit wins in four. Simple as that.

Until then,


Saturday, October 14, 2006

"... Wouldn't Know a Hockey Player If They Slept With Bobby Orr"

Thanks Don Cherry, but we still don't think Dion Phaneuf deserved rookie of the year. Great quote though.

It was a big night down at the Air Canada Centre. Mats Sundin notched a hatrick, including an OT game winning slap shot that froze Mikka Kiprusoff in his tracks. What, a hatrick's not good enough? Well how bout if those three goals were numbers 498, 499, and 500 for the grizzled Swede?

But forget about players joining the 500 club, we witnessed an even rarer event tonight as well: the Calgary Flames scored four goals in a game, something that is just slightly more common than total solar eclipses.

The Leafs are continuing to play well, taking 42 shots in this game, in keeping with Paul Maurice's offence first strategy. They can't seem to break their bad habit of going into over time though. Through five games, the Leafs have ended up in the extra frame four times, winning twice, and losing twice, both times in the shoot out.

But we don't mind saying it, these Leafs have moxy.

In other news, there's some sort of MLB playoffs going on, or something. 64 Years has thrown its support behind the New York Mets, entirely because of Carlos "Blu J 4 Lief" Delgado. We would love to see one of the best players to never win a championship finally shed that moniker.

However, it doesn't look like there is anything on Earth that can possibly withstand the ridiculous power of Tigermentum. Detroit is rolling over the opposition like there ain't no tomorra, and it's really hard not to see them winning it all. They took down the Yanks (good on 'em too) and just tonight finished smadackering the A's in four games. Can anybody stop them? The smart money says no.

Tigermentum is a trademark of 64 Years and Counting and all of its divisions,


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

That Got Real Auld, Real Fast

It took the Maple Leafs 42 shots to beat the Florida Panthers' Alex Auld last night.

Positive: The Leafs dominated the game all night and finished with 47 shots all told.
Negative: Only one of those shots went in.
Positive: The Leafs won a shoot out and hell still hasn't froze over (they're saving that for when the Cup comes down Yonge St.)
Negative: Pavel Kubina's mid-game exit (at the hands, or knees rather, of Todd Bertuzzi no less) makes five injured defenseman.

That sums up these Leafs pretty well. Up and down. There have been promising signs, a better work ethic, more shots, above average goaltending, but then there's the only decent record(2-1-1), the overcrowded injured list, and the inability to actually put the puck in the net.

But Coach Paul Maurice seems to have them on the right track. We'll see if he can keep it up against two ostensibly good teams, New Jersey (their record, 1-1, is inconclusive) and Calgary (we still don't understand how this team gets by with Daymond Langkow as their number one centre).

Until then,


Friday, October 06, 2006

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, On Ice!

Let's put this in as plain English as we possibly can: The Toronto Maple Leafs kicked the crap out of the Ottawa Senators last night. Oh man, that was sweet.

The Leafs opened the season with a home and home against the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday night. There was a lot of doubt surrounding the Buds. Could they score five-on-five? Could they keep up with the ultra-slick Senators speed? Could the Leafs defy their critics and prove everyone wrong?

And Wednesday night they responded to those questions with a resounding "No." They lost 4-1, basically fulfilling every criticism anyone has ever laid at this team. Their only goal came on a (very generous) penalty shot. Bryan McCabe looked out of place. Hal Gill was a glorified pylon. The youngsters were ineffective. Andrew Raycroft was completely average. Their offense lacked spark.

So no one was very surprised come Thursday morning. Disappointed, sure, but not surprised. We were also left a general sense of dread regarding the follow up game in Ottawa. Thoughts of Toronto's 1-7 record last season versus Ottawa floated through our heads. Turns out, we had nothing to worry about.

The fans in Ottawa bought tickets for a hockey game Thursday night, but what they ended up with was a production of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde On Ice. Where Martin Gerber had been a rock for Ottawa 24 hours earlier, he was ineffective and didn't even manage to finish the game. Where the Leafs' forwards couldn't seem to care less in game one, they were all over the ice, forcing turnovers and taking shots for sixty solid minutes in game two.

So the question for both sides is, which performance was the real one? Can we really expect Toronto to play with that kind of passion for another 80 games? Can we really expect the Senators to be so listless for the rest of the season? On both accounts, we would advise not betting on it.

The Leafs are, for as much as we love them, not that good a team, and the Senators, for all we hate them, are not that bad.

But damn if it doesn't give us Leaf faithful some hope.

Speaking of hope, the Philadelphia 76ers have given the Raptors some in a rather
backwards sort of way.

The NBA, in an attempt to cosmopolitanize itself, has sent half a dozen teams to Europe to sell some merchandise. Oh, and play some games. That too.

This plan worked for the Leafs a few years ago when they did a preseason tour of Sweden and Finland, routing all of their European competition in the process.

However, we can't help but feel that NBA has set itself up for a rather large fall. The quality of European basketball teams is way higher than most are willing to give credit; Greece proved that by beating a certain American team in a certain world championship.

Which brings us back to the 76ers, who lost to a Spanish team yesterday (we can't make fun of them; the Raptors lost to Maccabi Tel Aviv last year). Now to the good news: The Raptors have a roster that looks like it's ready to compete for the Eurocup, not to mention containing two members of the World Cup winning Spanish team. Extrapolate people, extrapolate!

Silver lining under every cloud,


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

NHL Predictions

Sneaking in right at the deadline, here are our NHL season predictions, with our usual 100% money back guarantee. First, the East.

1)Buffalo Sabres
Buffalo is as solid a team as your going to find. Great goal-tending, great young scorers. They will be tough to beat.

2)New Jersey Devils
When you have a magician like Lou Lamoriello for a GM, good things follow. Somehow managing to sweep away two unsightly contracts that were strangling his team, he now has Brian Gionta and Paul Martin under contract, which means the good times are still on in East Rutherford. As long as Martin Brodeur is in net, this is a team to watch out for.

3)Carolina Hurricanes
Do the defending champs have another cup on them? That's up for debate, but we think they easily have another division title. They lost a few players from last spring, and a couple more are injured, but that shouldn't matter. Eric Staal has MVP numbers in him, and Cam Ward was no fluke.

4)Ottawa Senators
Tick tock, the clock is ticking on the Senators. A decade of title expectations have resulted in not so much as a Stanley Cup final appearance. Now, we'd be lying if we said we did enjoy that just a little bit, but the truth is that the Senators are still one of the best in the league. We don't see them winning any cups this year, but hopefully sweeping the season series against Toronto will make up for that.

5)Philadelphia Flyers
We're being a little generous here, but we're also working under the assumption of a healthy Peter Forsberg and improved play from Mike Richards and Jeff Carter. Will this be the season people point to as the beginning of Philadelphia's decline?

6)Atlanta Thrashers
There will champagne in the Thrashers dressing room this season as they qualify for their first post season. Losing Marc Savard hurts, but it shouldn't matter if Kari Lehtonen plays the whole season and Ilya Kovalchuk challenges for the Art Ross.

7)New York Rangers
The Rangers are going to keep riding the Jagr express for as long as it takes them, and it says in our book he's not quite done yet. Another superseason from him, plus decent contributions from his supporting staff and the sustained play of Henrik Lundqvist sees them into seventh.

8)Toronto Maples Leafs
Call this the home town discount, but we think the Leafs will make it. They will surprise some people this year. We see good things coming from their experiment in youth, from their gamble on Andrew Raycroft, and especially from new coach Paul Maurice. This is a precarious prediction, even the slightest breeze could knock the Leafs off in favour of the

9)Boston Bruins
So the Bruins dipped into the free agent market to fix their otherwise shoddy team. Stop us if you've heard this one before. Zdeno Chara and Marc Savard are great additions, but there's still something stopping us from putting them in the playoffs. The Bruins always find a way to fail, and we don't think that's going to stop now.

10)Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa Bay could go either way this season. They could return to Cup winning form with career years for Brad Richards et al, or they could continue the regressing that began last season. Guess which side we're on.

11)Florida Panthers
Does Todd Bertuzzi return to form? Does it matter? We don't think this team has it in them either way. We hope for best for Eddie Belfour, we really do, but we can't help but think that he is setting himself up for disaster.

12)Montreal Canadiens
Montreal didn't really do anything major in the offseason (Signing Sergei Samsonov doesn't count as major. Just ask Edmonton) and they will suffer for it. Don't expect too much from them.

13)Pittsburgh Penguins
Speaking of expectations, how 'bout these guys? Can Sidney Crosby improve on his massive rookie season? Can Marc-Andre Fleury remind us why he was chosen first over all? Can Evgeni Malkin live up to his Best Player Outside of The NHL label? Even if the answer to all three questions is yes, this team is still not ready for the playoffs. But damn if this isn't a good time to start buying 2008/2009 season tickets.

14)Washington Capitals
The critically acclaimed one-man show, "Alexander Ovechkin," will continue to play in the D.C area from October to mid-April. Plenty of tickets still available.

15) New York Islanders
What to say that hasn't already been said? This team is going to get a whole lot worse before it gets better. Make that 'If' it gets better.


1) San Jose Sharks
Time for Joe Thornton and Jonathan Cheechoo to give us a season long encore. Good things will happen.

2) Calgary Flames
One Alex Tanguay a Stanley Cup does not win. A Northwest Division? Sure, why not. Look for Iginla to bring the scoring back, JT style.

3) Nashville Predators
Time for the Preds to shine. Their division is ripe for the taking, and their roster is stocked with talent. Nashville in the Stanley Cup finals? You heard it here first.

4) Anahiem Ducks
Ok, so the new logo is... unfortunate, but these Ducks are not. Brian Burke has shown again why he's the best at what he does. That defensive line up is the stuff of GM wet dreams.

5) Minnesota Wild
Hey, the lockout's over! Minnesota took awhile to realise it, but here they are ready to make a splash. Pavol Demitra and Marian Gaborik say that this team makes the playoffs.

6) Detroit Red Wings
Beginning of the end for the Red Wings? That's what we said last year, and then they went and won the Presidents Trophy. Either way Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk can only do so much.

7) Vancouver Canucks
Roberto Luongo equals playoff spot for Vancouver. After that? Well, Marcus Naslund's season will go a long way to determining that

8) Dallas Stars
The Stars are grasping at straws here. Eric Lindros? Seriously? Marty Turco will ensure respectability, but for how long?

9) Edmonton Oilers
We are on record as saying Dwayne Roloson will blow up in Edmonton's face, but you can't help but love their players up front. Shawn Horcoff, Fernando Pisani, Joffrey Lupul, and the rest give Edmonton a fighting chance.

10) Columbus Blue Jackets
Not this time Columbus, not this time. Is Nikolai Zherdev as good as he thinks he is? Freddy Modin is great, but who's left in net now? Things are looking up though.

11) Phoenix Coyotes
The Wayne Gretzky Experiment is still going strong, but the Coyotes aren't. Their defense is great, Ed Jovanovski, Keith Ballard and the like, but after that? Cujo has seen better days, and as much as we love Jeremy Roenick, why hasn't he moved into the broadcast booth yet?

12) Colorado Avalanche
Final requiem for the Colorado Avalanche, as we see the end of an era. Joe Sakic and Milan Hejduk are all that remain of the glory days. Even if Jose Theodore keeps out of the Montreal tabloids, this team isn't going anywhere.

13) Chicago Blackhawks
Martin Havlat has never scored more than 68 points, or played in more than 75 games. We're not knocking the Hawks' move, we're just saying be patient. Which is something Chicago fans are all to familiar with. Don't worry, there's light at the end of this tunnel.

14) Los Angeles Kings
Does Dan Cloutier have pictures of coach Marc Crawford and an underaged Vietnamese prostitute? That's the only reason we can think of why they've been reunited in LA. This team, not exactly in the fast lane before, is slipping.

15) St. Louis Blues
The '96 US World Cup reunion tour begins in October and will tour the country featuring such former greats as Doung Weight, Bill Guerin, and Keith Tkachuk.

Ok, let's make the one prediction that really matters: Who will win the Stanley Cup? We have New Jersey and Nashville duking it out, with New Jersey coming out on top. But hey, we've been wrong before.