Lace Them Up – The 2021 NHL Season Preview

Apparently the Zambonis have all been finally fixed and are able to smooth the ice so the NHL can begin their season January 13th. Luckily the 13th is not a Friday, but it may as well be. Yeah I know, it’s not the Zambonis’ fault they haven’t started the season. It was NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman’s fault. Fine, it was COVID… or how best to navigate COVID. But, Bettman is such an awful commissioner he’s always the person to point at for NHL problems.

Last year, as you may recall it since the season just ended in the middle of September, the Tampa Bay Lightning took home Lord Stanley’s Cup. It’s so 2020 to have a team that never has any ice outside of its arena claim the Cup.

Yeah, I know. That was so last Fall. So who’s going to hoist the Cup this year… whenever the season ends given the specter of COVID? The season is slated for 56 games, roughly 2/3rds of a normal season. But for the NHL, 56 games is enough to determine who should make the playoffs and who shouldn’t since nearly every team makes the playoffs anyway. A full 16 out of 31 teams make the playoffs. Next year it’ll be a full 50% as the Seattle Kraken are coming. Damn it I love that name.

A side note: before we get into the deep chasms of ice and hand out predictions easier than a dirty carny hands out tainted sno-cones, we have a couple rule changes to go over.

Number 1 – Offsides is now determined to not occur until the offensive players last skate completely crosses the blue line. Ergo, if a skater’s foot is in the air, but still behind or above the line when the puck completely crosses the blue line, he is onside. I am dubbing this the “phantom foot” as I can envision a lot of extended time being allotted while the NHL replay monitors in Toronto spend minutes drinking Labatt’s and deciding if the foot was or wasn’t over as it hovers in frozen time threatening to cross it.

Number 2 – the Colorado Avalanche are allowed to play with an extra attacker the entire season.

Fine, the second one doesn’t exist. It should though. It’s only fair as their goalie situation is still as shaky as spring pond hockey. That’s the reason why they didn’t make it to the final and soundly whip that team from the south. Should I go on with my predictions? Isn’t that enough?

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The FBC live blog of the MLB’s Hell Day

The FBC live blog of the MLB’s Hell Day

I have been looking forward to this day since it was announced. I wasn’t sure it would happen, but here we are. EIGHT PLAYOFF GAMES. It may never happen again, folks. So today, we’re going to do something stupid. A live blog from first pitch to last pitch of the eight game slate. Four teams, including two of our World Series champion picks… are on the chopping block. So, here is the plan, according to Indianapolis Coastal Time (aka Eastern time).

Game 1- Reds @ Braves 12pm
Game 2- Astros @ Twins 1pm
Game 1- Marlins @ Cubs 2pm
Game 2- White Sox @ Athletics 3pm
Game 2- Blue Jays @ Rays 4pm
Game 1- Cardinals @ Padres 5pm
Game 2- Yankees @ Indians 7pm
Game 1- Brewers @ Dodgers 10pm

And here… we… go…

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The MLB’s Hot Stove League – The January Report

January’s come in with a select amount of subtlety, but in the MLB it’s been quite the wild whirling dervish of deals and free agent signings. Before I get to what individual team got and still needs, let’s take a trip around the horn and see where the big names landed like a big lake trout on a dish. Trout sounds so good right now.

Garret Cole. OK. Fine. I was wrong. Are you happy I admitted it? I thought for certain he was going to be an Angel, but neigh he decided to become a devil, AKA a Yankee. Curse you Cole!

Stephen Strasburg. I was correct, stuck with the Nationals. Bite me.

Anthony Rendon. The biggest stick in the free agent class went to the Angels. Now he’s paired with Mike Trout (which still sounds good BTW). Good golly that’ll be fun to watch!

Madison Bumgarner – I’m as giddy he didn’t go to the Twins as I am mad he went to the Diamondbacks. C’mon MadBum! Why those desert bums? Why?!

Hyu-Jin Ryu – Left baseball to start a Korean BBQ franchise called Ryu’s Ribs. OK. Fine. He signed with the Blue Jays. Canadians love Koreans, primarily due to the alliteration.

Didi Gregorius – And I was right. He went to the Phillies to re-join Joe Girardi… and to get a cheese steak.

Corey Kluber – once the ace of the Indians staff, he was traded to the Rangers for a sack of beads.

Eric Thames – not quite a huge deal as he signed a 1-year contract with the Nationals, but what’s significant is he is yet another player who doesn’t want to play for the Brew Crew… or he got tired of all that Usinger’s Sausage.

Tommy Pham – good news is the Tampa Rays traded him from a fan base whose median age is 80 to San Diego whose fan base is a youthful 77. Bad news? You have to be a Brown Shirt now, dude.

Rick Porcello – signed with the Mets. All of Boston breathed a huge sigh of relief, and ordered a pie.

Dallas Kuechel – former CY Young award winner who sat out most of last year signed with the White Sox. Fingers crossed he enjoys Sox Park, and deep dish pizza.

And who has yet to find a team?

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The MLB Playoffs… and Joe Maddon is not Mike Ditka

I’m going to sprint through the baseball playoffs and sprinkle some ‘Maddon Moments’ in to explain, in my mind, what happened to Maddon and the Cubs, while using Ditka like he used Bears fans.

By the time you read this, the wild card games – October 1 and October 2 – may be over, or at least started. It doesn’t really matter much. Those four teams can douse themselves in all the champagne they want, but it’s pretty much a cheap victory. Put it this way, it’s the same kind of victory you get when you visit your elderly grandmother at her assisted living facility and win their corn hole tournament.

But before we dig into the wild card teams, let’s just take a look at the 2016-2019 Cubs vs the 1984-1987 Bears. If you look at their timelines, they are a tad similar. And you can argue both Maddon and Ditka can only deal with the hands they are dealt. True. Think of this like Texas Holdem. Ditka was holding the king and queen of hearts and staring at the ten, jack and ace of hearts face up on the table… and threw out the king ‘aka’ Wilbur Marshall. Maddon’s hand, while good, was an ace and a ten. Still a potentially winning hand, but could have been better. Cubs management bet high on a good, but ultimately bad hand.

OK, now let’s place a hand on the wild card teams – The Rays, the A’s, the Brewers, the Nats.

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