Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Habs and 'Canes Game 3

7:23 pm - A bit late tonight, but we're halfway through the first and tied at 0. Thus far, the Canadiens have been the more dominant team, though Carolina had the first power play. (And even then, the Habs had the best chance on said power play.)

7:25 pm - The atmosphere at Le Centre Bell is unbelievable. From the beginning where the two kids come out on the ice skating and waving Canadiens flags, to the great anthems and the crowd itself, it feels like an important game.

7:27 pm - Canadiens have a power play now, and could have gotten a penalty shot on the play.

7:43 pm - The first period has ended with no score. The Habs were the better team and had the better chances. But Cam Ward was probably the best player on the ice.

7:33 pm - Again, the Canadiens have outplayed Carolina, but Cam Ward is standing on his head right now. I'm starting to get worried here - if Carolina continues to get good goaltending the Habs will have a tough time tonight.

7:52 pm - Don Cherry just said that Zdeno Chara shouldn't be picking on Vincent Lecavalier, and Lecavalier had the heart of a lion for taking on Chara, going so far as to show how much of a height difference there is.

One thing though: Lecavalier is 6'4". Chara is just that large.

8:01 pm - Second period has started and Montreal has been dominating the play. But Cam Ward (aka The Thief) has stopped a few quality chances already. (The period is only 2:30 old.)

8:07 pm - #$%#$%#$%#$%#$@%#$%! Koivu took a stick to the face and went straight to the locker room. AND there was no call. #@$#$$#@$@#$#@$@#$#@!

8:18 pm - From the about-freaking-time department, Richard Zednik gets a power play goal. He's the guy who's going to have to step up if Koivu is out for any length of time.

8:20 pm - Momentum might be in Montreal's court here as they have another power play. And Zednik is having an issue with one of his skate edge's. He scored with a bad skate edge. IS THERE ANYTHING THAT HE CAN'T DO?

8:29 pm - Montreal just killed off a penalty, and Francis Bouillon had two good chances to score - a breakaway and a tip of a pass. Unfortunately, he showed about as much deftness with the puck as I do (and to be honest, I would be too busy flailing around trying to keep my balance to even attempt to take a shot on net). So to answer Harry Neale, I don't think Bouillon will be moved to forward any time soon.

8:50 pm - End of the second period, and Montreal is still up 1-0. I get a call from my pal, Matty P, who proceeds to begin to immediately tell me about what is happening on the Amazing Race. I have to explain to him that I am using my DVR to record it and will be watching it after the game. Luckily, he only got to tell me a small spoiler (I think), and not the complete detail.

8:55 pm - They just showed Saku Koivu coming off the ice after the high stick, and that did not look good. It looked like he was bleeding from the eye. I hope that it wasn't that severe and that Koivu is okay; he's gone through way too much in his life and could use a good break to come his way.

9:00 pm - Carolina has picked it up now. It's as though they've just now come to the realization that they are playing in the playoffs, and they are 15 minutes away from being down 3-0.

9:08 pm - Things have calmed down a bit, and Montreal still leads 1-0. Blinding obvious statement by Harry Neale: "If you want to play for the Canadiens, you need to play defense and offense. Just look at their coaches: Bob Gainey, Guy Charbonneau and Doug Jarvis"

9:15 pm - Ah fuck. This is the one thing I have noticed about Huet this playoffs - he tends to give up a lot more soft goals than solid goals.

(And now, just to completely spite me, Carolina has a power play. It's as though the refs got a call to make sure this series wasn't a sweep.)

9:26 pm - Fuckity-fuck #1: The Canadiens get a 4 minute minor with 4 1/2 minutes left in the third.

Fuckity-fuck #2: Garth Murray gets a breakaway and decides to get all fancy with a spinorama and stuff. Just shoot the puck!

9:30 pm - Montreal killed the penalty very well, and now there's 24 seconds left. The fans are rocking right now. And now we're in OT again. I guess the Amazing Race will have to wait a little bit longer.

9:49 pm - Overtime has started. Over/under on the number of times I squeal like a girl due to nervousness or excitement - 5. Already I'm up to 1 because of Vasicek's chance. (Side prop bet: Over/under on the number of times I give the finger to the refs during OT - 3. Again, up to 1.)

9:52 pm - Hope you had the under on both of the prop bets because Carolina just won. Not much else to say beyond Cam Ward kept Carolina in the game long enough for them to fluke into a goal, and then win it cleanly in OT.

Montreal needs to regroup quickly, and recover from the loss of Koivu. Just because you were the better team in the first 50 minutes of the game doesn't mean that you will win the game.

And Huet has now let in two goals where he's been completely screened and hasn't even tried to make a play on the shot. The Canadiens need to clear out the area in front of Huet better.

That's it for tonight. I might see you on Friday, depending on where I am watching the game.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Random note from the Sharks/Preds game

Kyle McLaren has the most god awful facial hair ever. Take this picture and then imagine the non-goatee facial hair more patchy and bushy.

(And as I was writing this, the Sharks managed to tie the game up. I can imagine the conversations tomorrow:

Friend: Did you see that first goal by San Jose last night?
Me: No I was too busy looking up pictures of Kyle McLaren.
Friend: [blank look] Yeah, I think I need to be going now.

I'm just kidding with you. I would never be asked about a San Jose goal because nobody in Toronto is interested in San Jose beyond Joe Thornton.)

Reason #12469 Why YouTube is fantastic

...and why I will be buying more often from Best Buy.

Click here for a Best Buy commercial from Quebec (don't worry, you don't need to worry about not knowing French).

(h/t to JABS and The Ice Block)

A Modest Proposal

I really hope this is satire. If not, then I can't begin to put into words how monumentally bad of an idea this would be.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Habs and 'Canes, Game 2

7:15 pm - After a false start, being interrupted by a doorbell and a Montreal goal, we are almost live with the blogging. (Blogger is down for maintenance right now - it should be up at 7:45pm) Nice goal by Bulis and a nice play by Kovalev to get the puck to Bulis.

7:20 pm - Montreal has gotten two chances where they have gotten two really good chances where they got behind Carolina. Carolina has the better defensive core, so this is a bit of a surprise.

7:22 pm - Buffalo is winning 2-0. I really want to see teams who play an offense oriented style to make it far in the playoffs. Maybe it will encourage some teams (*cough*Calgary*cough*) to play a more entertaining style of hockey.

7:24 pm - As much as I like the Habs, that hit on Williams was very cringe-worthy.

7:25 pm - New Jersey winning 1-0. As much as New Jersey is the king of the trap, they have a lot of guys who are very skilled.

7:30 pm - Selley and Benjamin have to be loving this game - good flow to it, with hitting. (Good to see Williams back on the ice as well.)

7:32 pm - Stupid penalty on Boullion - never leave your feet to make a hit, especially when you're taking more than three steps. This could be what Carolina needs to get back on track, because so far they've looked not so good.

7:34 pm - Maybe Boullion was trying to get revenge for the Weight/Recchi double team. Also, nice play by Souray to break up a nice pass to Staal.

7:36 pm - Williams with a not so good penalty to even things up, but bigger news is Souray on the bench hurting. (Related note - is Andrei Markov playing? Because he's been the most invisible player for the Habs.)

7:39 pm - Ribeiro is turning into quite the shit disturber. His little shot at Gerber was kinda funny.

7:41 pm - Another power play for the Canadiens. And Ryder scores to bring the momentum full swing back to the Habs.

7:46 pm - Yikes, Gerber let a questionable one in and we have a goalie change. It wasn't completely his fault - the initial shot got tipped, but Gerber hasn't looked good at all. Too many rebounds. Hopefully this doesn't swing the momentum to Carolina.

7:51 pm - It doesn't matter how Cam Ward plays if his teammates refuse to play like a playoff team.

7:55 pm - Don Cherry is relating Rose stories and now explaining how Gerber was showing that he had no confidence. He doesn't like Weight's complaining either.

(5-0 Buffalo? Madden with his second goal? Wow.)

8:05 pm - I never noticed the end to the "touching" A&W commercial before. It actually makes it almost amusing.

(And correction: Madden only has one goal - Gionta has the other.)

8:12 pm - Lucky bounce for Carolina and they are back into the game. Up to this point, Huet looked really good, but that was a bad goal.

8:16 pm - Well, that's one way to kill any momentum. After a hectic 5 minutes of action, Carolina puts the Habs back on the power play. A goal here probably ends the game.

8:17 pm - Hey, Markov showed up! Nice save by Ward after a blown 4 on 2 by the Habs. (And Aaron Ward is now hurt, putting both teams at 5 defensemen each.)

8:18 pm - How nice of Kovalev to give Carolina a power play. Very sporting of him to give them a chance to come back. *rolls eyes*

8:21 pm - Speaking of sporting, the ref gave Carolina a 5 on 3 on a horrible tripping call on Rivet. Last time I checked, playing the puck is legal.

8:23 pm - Sure enough, there's the goal. Time to buckle down for the Habs.

8:26 pm - #$%^%$^$%^$%^%$

8:31 pm - I take my 8:26 pm comment back.

8:32 pm - Craig Adams is having a bad night - gets cut on the high stick and now he's left because of an apparent leg injury.

8:36 pm - Hey look, Buffalo isn't letting up. Why did I change my Buffalo players to Tampa players?

8:37 pm - Montreal gets another shot on the power play, with a 4 on 3 power play. and Aaron Ward is back.

8:39 pm - So much for that power play.

8:44 pm - Jebus. Bouillon out because he cleared the puck over the glass. 5 on 3 for 1:50. Give me a break.

9:00 pm - I guess I'm just psychic - Madden now has 2 goals.

9:05 pm - Geez, who's the team that was down 3-0 again? Horrible, horrible play from the Habs, and they need their asses kicked in a major way right now.

9:06 pm - My laptop battery is dying - I'll be back in a few minutes.

9:20 pm - I'm sorry I ever doubted you Montreal.

(I'm back, BTW.)

9:23 pm - Random things you find when doing a search for your blog:
Apparently my blog lings are worth $183 on the blog fantasy stock market.

9:30 pm - Montreal is on the 5 minute penalty kill, but Doug Weight says "I don't think so! You must go on the power play!"

9:37 pm - Though Gainey should have had another centre out there, blame also falls on the defensemen who chose to leave 2 guys in front of Huet to screen him. Ah well, off to overtime we go!

10:06 pm - Overtime is on, and Carolina looks like they have a lot more life. They have been dominating the play.

10:07 pm - And now that I've said that, Montreal gets a power play on a questionable call. (Though they could have called a penalty on a couple of other occasions before.

10:12 pm - The same theme of the game is occuring in overtime - hectic back and forth play.

Random aside - Carolina apparently have a Storm Squad. This Storm Squad is apparently a bunch of attractive females and a guy named Mike. Words fail me.

(And yes, if you are wondering, I am trying to avoid what is going on right now.)

10:24 pm - After a Carolina rush which failed, Jim Hughson said "Almost a great defensive play to hook the puck away." As opposed to a mediocre defensive play that did the job?

10:41 pm - 2nd overtime starts the same as it ended - with Carolina in Montreal's end.

10:42 pm - Alexei Kovalev springs Ribeiro for another chance. Without a doubt, Kovalev has been Montreal's best player tonight. Maybe he wants to keep his streak of not losing a first round series in tact?


11:06 pm - Bob Gainey's press conference is going on right now, and let me tell you Bob Gainey + measured, well thought out meaningless responses = non-stop excitement.

11:10 pm - Watching the highlights of the game again, I can not emphasize how great a player Alexei Kovalev is. And Michael Ryder's goal was very pretty, though helped by 5 Hurricanes who thought that Koivu was the only player on the ice.

That's it. See you guys on Wednesday!

Friday, April 21, 2006

Bizarro World

I can't believe how many people are defending Pat Quinn after his getting fired yesterday.  (The ultimate irony is calling Quinn a victim of politics - Quinn out politicked Ken Dryden, Mike Smith and the rest of the Leafs front office for years.)

The common theme is that Quinn was limited based on John Ferguson Jr.'s poor moves coming into the season.  While true, it seems odd that Quinn wouldn't move them to the bench until forced to by injury (see Belfour, Allison).  In fact, Scott Burnside makes the exact same point in defense of Quinn:

He was unflinchingly loyal to his cast, even if it was a cast that was often overpaid and underachieving.

While loyalty is something that a coach should probably have, the ability to identify things that are not working and correcting them is also a desirable trait.  Quinn seemed to not have that trait (unless it was coincidentally able to tweak his GM - see O'Neill).  His desire to stick with a shootout lineup of Sundin, Ponokarovski and Tucker - even after their repeated failure - cost the Leafs some valuable points in the standings.  And his desire to see Ed Belfour succeed cost the Leafs more than a few games.

His use of youngsters also left something to be desired.  Matt Stajan got an opportunity to play, but only after Jason Allison went down for the season.  Wade Belak was continually played over many young defensemen, even though his defensive skills could be defined as non-existent.  Tie Domi was marched out game after game, proving why he's the most expensive 12th forward in the league.  Kyle Wellwood was given a public dressing down after attempting a creative, albeit hot-doggy, shot on net.

While Quinn had a good record of making the playoffs, the Leafs never made a Stanley Cup final (which is the supposed goal of MLSE).  Firing him after 8 years of not making the playoffsCup Finals does not seem to be that big of a travesty.

Let's be honest - the Leafs weren't that good of a team coming into the season.  And Ferguson deserves a lot of criticism for the roster he constructed.  And yet they could have salvaged a playoff spot if Quinn actually coached in the last few months of the season, as opposed to putting it on auto-pilot until it was too late. 

(Edited to correct the playoff/finals mix up)

Monday, April 17, 2006

Earl, part deux

I've been enjoying the last couple of days of Leafs teeth-gnashing over missing the playoffs, and Andrew Peters' actions last night provided me a long laugh.

Of course, karma being what it is, I soon realized that my beloved Montreal Canadiens could still conceivably miss the playoffs.  Combine that with Bob Gainey's new found love of David Aebischer and all of the sudden I'm not feeling so confident.

So, uh, go Washington (in both of your remaining games!) and Florida!  New Jersey, don't you want to give the fans an exciting shootout before winning the game?

Survivor Panama Episodes 7 to 9 Thoughts

Apologies for no report for the last two weeks.  Work/real life combined to form an insurmountable hurdle to getting it completed.

But to be honest, it was also getting difficult to write about this part of the show.  We knew that La Mina is getting Pagong-ed.  And as soon as Nick got voted out, we knew the order in which they would be targeted:  Terry, Austin, Sally.  All that was left was to see how the immunity challenges went to determine who would get voted off when.

So when Terry made his last-ditch effort to switch the game up two weeks ago, I was a bit thankful.  Not so much because I thought it would work, but because it gave me something to talk about:  Terry's non-challenge play.

In the pre-merge part of the game, I thought that Terry was playing the game on a basic level. He made his final four alliance pretty quickly and stuck to it until he wasn't able to.  He also did a good job in making Sally feel welcome so she wouldn't really think about flipping post-merge.  My issue is with how he played the game post-merge.

When the merge occurred, La Mina was in the minority.  So they went about trying to get 2 people to flip to their side and become the majority.  Which is all well and good, but La Mina was bargaining from weakness, not strength.  All they said was "We think you would enjoy our company more than your teammates", which while enticing to some members of Casaya, wasn't worth throwing away a sure final six finish on something that could improve them to final five, but at a price of getting the boot sooner if the switch did not work.

So Nick gets voted out, and La Mina is still under the mindset of "get two people", which they have been forced into now.  And they come up with a brilliant plan based on Shane's lie to Terry:  get Bruce to flip and offer Danielle the immunity idol if she flips to them.  Getting Bruce to come on side isn't too difficult - his switch is conditional on Danielle anyway and it's a lateral move with the potential of becoming a whole lot better.  And to be honest, Danielle had a tough decision in front of her.  On one hand, she could stick with her original alliance and make it to the final 6 and hope that the final 6 splinter in the right method.  On the other, she was being guaranteed final 5, and more than likely final 4.  But with that came the more than likely possibility that she would not win the game, because the jury would be filled with people who would be angry with her betrayal, and people who were going to vote for somebody in their alliance.  So I can understand why she said no.

The thing is, with Terry's Hail Mary attempt to flip the game, he has ensured that he needs to win a lot of challenges to make the final 2, let alone win it.  Revealing to Sally and Austin that he has the immunity idol is one thing - they are on his side and could help to come up with a plan to use it best.  But revealing it's presence to Danielle and Bruce only works if you know that they will flip to your side.  Should Danielle say no, then your last trick is gone.  Casaya can plan on you using the immunity idol when you don't have immunity and actually vote somebody else out.  Once they knew that the Hail Mary failed, Terry went into self-preservation mode (which is why he didn't give the idol to Austin so that Aras left).

What should he have done?  Well, I don't know to be honest.  One thing that has become very obvious is that Bruce is either oblivious to the fact that he could be the first Casaya member to get voted out or Bruce knows that he won't be the first Casaya member to get voted out and isn't interested in a deal that puts him in the same position on a different tribe (inherently weakening his position).  In both cases, the only way to convince him to switch would be to offer him something better than he already has.  And everybody else in Casaya seems to be comfortable in their position as well, so I don't know if it would be even possible to get somebody to flip.

So, what I would have is this:

    ·       After the merge but before the immunity challenge, I would have offered Bruce a guaranteed final 4 spot to flip along with the opportunity to choose who would get voted out (and thus not be on the jury).  If he asked how I would deal with the deadlock, I would just say something to the effect of "I've got it under control", leaving the hint of the immunity idol being found, but nothing firm being stated.  I'd also be buttering him up and playing the "who do you want to work with" angle.  I would need to know before the immunity challenge started whether he was on board or not.  If I hadn't heard anything, I would assume that he wasn't on board and operate under plan B - play for the win in the immunity challenge. Once I won, then I would try to get somebody to flip.  When that proved to be pointless, I would let Nick be sacrificed - it's unfortunate, but you have to save up for a shot later on.

    ·       Once the final 9 was reached, I would be looking out for me and me alone.  I wouldn't try to get somebody to flip, I'd be looking to make it to the final 8 with one of my teammates and the immunity idol.  That means that I would need to win immunity again.  It also means that I would have to sacrifice Austin to make it.

    ·       Now that I'm at the final 8 with the immunity idol and a teammate (let's call the teammate Sally), I would hatch a plan:  If I win the immunity challenge, then I would give the idol to Sally.  Otherwise I would keep the idol.  When it came to the vote, I would make sure that Sally and I voted for the same person - Aras.  And when the non-immune person gets voted out, they would use the idol and then Aras would get eliminated.  From there I would have to take my chances that the alliance fractures and then Sally and myself become more important.  All it would take is two people to feel uncomfortable and all of the sudden you had a final four alliance.

Of course Terry took another approach - the "I'm going to win every immunity challenge possible and let Casaya blow themselves up" approach.  Nothing wrong with it, so long as he doesn't lose two immunity challenges.  But with his hail mary and subsequent flaunting of the immunity idol, he's given up his one ace up his sleeve: being able to choose who will get the boot.  A smart player (like Aras) will put votes on whomever he wants to leave after Terry.  Ultimately, if Terry manages to somehow make the final two, he should probably win the game.  But if he doesn't, he might want to review what he did post-merge.

With that said, here's the latest rankings:

    1.      Terry (last list - 1)
    2.      Aras (last list - 4)
    3.      Danielle (last list - 2)
    4.      Cirie (last list - 6)
    5.      Bruce (last list - 9)
    6.      Courtney (last list - 8)
    7.      Shane (last list - 10)

Who goes this week?  Doing some math, Bruce is "in trouble", and somebody gets taken out on a stretcher.  Hmmm...Bruce doesn't get voted out, but can not continue.  Does he make the jury?  I don't know.

Monday, April 03, 2006

2006 Baseball Predictions

Pretending that last night this morning's game did not count, today is opening day for Major League Baseball.  And just in time, here are my predictions/thoughts about the upcoming season.

NL East

Projected order of finish:

    1.      Atlanta

        ·       Another year, another division title for Atlanta.  After all these years, they have earned the right to be the default choice to win the NL East, barring a divisional realignment. 

    2.      New York Mets

        ·       The Mets have improved their hitting, and David Wright is still improving.  With that said, their puzzling trades of Jae Seo and Kris Benson, along with their shunning of Aaron Heilman to the bullpen makes me wonder if they have the pitching to overtake Atlanta.

    3.      Philadelphia

        ·       Philadelphia has made some significant changes to their roster:  losing Jim Thome, Billy Wagner and Jason Michaels.  Ryan Howard and Brett Myers are going to have to step up for Philly to stand a chance to contend.

    4.      Washington

        ·       Best of luck to the former Expos - they are just lucky that they have Florida to act as a cushion for their fall.

    5.      Florida

        ·       They might have it right - win the World Series, then break up the team and start over again.  If you can get odds for the 2008 or 2009 World Series, buy Florida now!

NL Central

Projected order of finish:

    1.      St. Louis

        ·       One of the cool trends this year seems to be predicting the downfall of the Cards.  I don't know why; their team hasn't changed enough, and they still have Albert Pujols.

    2.      Milwaukee

        ·       And the trendy pick for darkhorse contender is...the Brewers!  (I can honestly say that I was ahead of the curve on this one - I have a 60-1 bet placed on them to win the 2006 World Series...placed after game one of the 2005 World Series).  They have a lot of youth (Fielder/Weekes/Hardy/Hall is one of the youngest infields in the majors), and they've added some pitching to their hitting prospects.  I don't know if that's good enough to make the playoffs, but it makes them one of the more interesting teams to watch.

    3.      Houston

        ·       Last year's NL champions have lost Roger Clemens, which I think will be a bigger blow than anybody is expecting.

    4.      Cincinnati

        ·       I was a lot more positive when they had Wily Mo Pena instead of another flyball pitcher and an outfield of Dunn/Junior/Kearns.  Pena>Hatteberg offensively as well.  But I almost feel safe in getting my Cincy Dunn jersey.  Almost.

    5.      Pittsburgh

        ·       For every one step forward they make, they take two steps back.  Sean Casey and Joe Randa are not the answers to anything.

    6.      Chicago Cubs

        ·       Carlos Zambrano and Derrek Lee notwithstanding, the Cubs are not going anywhere without a healthy Prior and Wood.

NL West

Projected order of finish:

    1.      Los Angeles

        ·       Furcal and Nomar are enough to push them over the top in the weakest division in the majors.

    2.      San Diego

        ·       Piazza can't replace Ramon Hernandez, and the addition of Brazelton is not enough to push them over the top.  Jake Peavy could be the best pitcher in the NL though.

    3.      Arizona

        ·       Watch out for them in 2007.  They just need some good young pitching to go with Jackson/Quintana/Drew/Upton.

    4.      San Francisco

        ·       Barry Bonds will hit 45 homers this year.  But watching an outfield with Bonds and Finley should be entertaining in the same way a circus is.

    5.      Colorado

        ·       Do they even have a plan for the future?  Have they even figured out how to win in Coors?  There is no proof in their team this year.

NL Wildcard:  Milwaukee
NL Championship:  St. Louis over Milwaukee

AL West

Projected order of finish:

    1.      Oakland

        ·       This year seems to be Oakland's year.  Then again, they have been saying this since 2002.

    2.      Anaheim

        ·       Garrett Anderson and Darin Erstad continue to decline offensively and this is finally the year when it catches up to them.  Or not.

    3.      Texas

        ·       Welcome to the AL West - the two tiered division.  There is a clear divide between the top two teams and the bottom two teams, but the top two teams are very close in skills, and the bottom two teams are very close in skills.  Texas could easily blow up, as the pitching they added are not necessarily suited for pitching in Texas.  But the offense they added could push them to near record totals for runs scored.

    4.      Seattle

        ·       Felix is the King of Seattle in 2006; in 2007 he will be the uber-King of the world.

AL Central

Projected order of finish

    1.      Cleveland

        ·       Set aside their choke job - this is a young team that won 90 games last year.  They will be better.

    2.      Chicago White Sox

        ·       They are better than a lot of stat-head prognosticators give them credit for being, but they have a couple of question marks with their pitching (Vaszquez and Jenks, specifically).  Throw in their reliance on hitting homers to create offense (no matter what the media says), and I think they are edged out of first.

    3.      Detroit

        ·       Meet the new AL hotness.  They would be better served to try to contend in 2007 though.

    4.      Minnesota

        ·       They have the next Johan Santana in Francisco Liriano, which goes well with the actual Johan Santana.  But most of the division has passed them by, and their reliance on guys like Shannon Stewart will hurt them.

    5.      Kansas City

        ·       Soon Alex Gordon and Billy Butler will be in Kauffman Park.  Until then, I feel bad for any Royals fans.

AL East

Projected order of finish

    1.      New York Yankees

        ·       The end of a dynasty.  Their pitching is mediocre but that offense is still really good.  2007 is not going to be their year though.

    2.      Toronto

        ·       I'm going out on a limb on this one.  I think that Burnett+Ryan+Overbay+Glaus > Beckett+Lowell+Alex Gonzalez+ Coco Crisp.

    3.      Boston

        ·       Why I'm not picking them:  All of Schilling, Beckett, Wells, Lowell and Foulke need to return to their previous level of pitching, while the bullpen improves.

    4.      Tampa Bay

        ·       Out of the basement for good, their young team is about 2 pitchers away from being really scary.

    5.      Baltimore

        ·       They are in between their rebuilding mode and their attempt to contend on last time.  2007 should bring the rebuilding effort to the forefront.

AL Wildcard:  Toronto
AL Champion:  Oakland over New York

World Series Champion:  Oakland over St. Louis