Sports Outside the Beltway

Toronto Maple Leafs complete separate trades with Anaheim and Calgary

They acquire a defenseman and a Goalie. From ESPN-

The Toronto Maple Leafs shook up their roster with a pair of big moves on Sunday, the biggest coming in a trade for star defenseman Dion Phaneuf from the slumping Calgary Flames.Dion Phaneuf

The Leafs also acquired veteran goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere from the Anaheim Ducks for Jason Blake and Vesa Toskala.

The Leafs acquired Phaneuf, right wing Fredrik Sjostrom and defenseman Keith Aulie in exchange for defenseman Ian White, center Matt Stajan, left wing Niklas Hagman and right wing Jamal Mayers.


Phaneuf had 10 goals, 12 assists and 49 penalty minutes as of Sunday. In 378 career games over five seasons he has 75 goals, 153 assists and 522 penalty minutes, all with the Flames.

The Leafs gave up two of their top scorers in Stajan (16 goals, 25 assists) and Hagman (20 goals, 13 assists) to obtain Phaneuf.

On the surface Toronto looks to have made out well. Phaneuf is a very good defenseman. Giguere replaces Toskala who has been a bust for Maple Leafs since coming over from San Jose.Jean-Sebastien Giguere


Toronto is 17-28-11 this season, or the worst record in the Eastern Conference. There is no chance in hell this trade will get the Maple Leafs to the playoffs this year.

Giguere hasn’t been playing well this year, 3.1 GAA and .900 save percentage, and his trade comes as no surprise*. That’s an improvement on Toskala who has 3.66 and .874 respectively. Still the numbers are worse for Giggy than they are for Washington Capital Goalie Jose Theodore and regular OTB Sports readers know what I think of that Goalie.

Toronto must be hoping for a Giguere bounce back in 2010-11.

Oh you get two defensemen but trade away players(Hagman** and Stajan) who have contributed 36 goals for your team this year. I don’t see these trades helping Toronto short term and long term doesn’t look all that great either IMHO.

*- Anaheim signed their other Goalie, Jonas Hiller, to a 4-year contract yesterday. That made the high priced Giggy expendable.

It looks almost certain Hiller will be in goal when I watch Florida and Anaheim play tomorrow night. Particularly since the Ducks haven’t played since Friday night.

**- I guess that ends the Hagman to Florida Panther trade rumors. Hagman’s first NHL team was the Cats.


New Jersey committee report on horse racing states ‘the status quo is not sustainable’

It is not often that some aspect of Harness racing gets written up in the New York Times.

Meadowlands Racetrack has had some of the highest-quality harness racing in the country and dozens of the sport’s most important races. But in recent years, the track has become a money-losing drain on the state of New Jersey, which now threatens its survival.Meadowlands

A report issued this month by a committee put together by Gov. Christopher J. Christie before his inauguration to come up with solutions to the financial problems of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority made several suggestions that, if put in place, could all but gut the state’s racing industry. The suggestions included possibly closing Meadowlands Racetrack and drastically reducing the number of racing days at Monmouth Park.

The Sports and Exposition Authority is a state-run agency that owns the Meadowlands, Monmouth Park and portions of the state’s off-track betting system. The committee projected that the Meadowlands and Monmouth would lose a combined $22 million in 2010, a loss some lawmakers find difficult to justify given the state’s fiscal crisis.

In the report, the committee insisted that “the status quo is not sustainable” when it came to New Jersey racing.

“We know that the frankness of that report will have raised fears with certain interested groups and constituencies,” said Michael Drewniak, a spokesman for Christie. “In a sense, we’re glad that happened because if it wasn’t clear to everyone that these are the realities, it should be clear.”

I’m well aware of the financial realities the horse racing industry is facing at present. In spite of infusions of public money, or more often than that the addition of some form of casino gambling to race tracks, the sport continues to struggle. There just aren’t as many people interested in the ‘Sport of Kings’ as there were when my father took me and my other siblings to the races in Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey, Deleware, and Illinois when we were growing up.

Here are just a few of the posts I’ve written on horse racing’s financial woes.

Kentucky horse racing ‘in serious jeopardy’
Florida horsemen say 2009 racing meet will end 3 months early
New York Racing Association files for bankruptcy
Owner of Pimlico racecourse defaults on loan*
Rosecroft Raceway ceases operations
Freehold Raceway cuts purses, Meadowlands could be next**

*- Like the Meadowlands which hosts ‘The Hambletonian, Pimlico hosts another one of the sports grandest events- ‘The Preakness. When tracks like these can’t make money, it should be a clear sign just how troubled the sport is.
**- This post which was about New Jersey horse racing difficulties, was posted on 1-22-08.

I’ve got many more posts like the six listed above. Since I began contributing at OTB Sports in May 2006, there have been 74 horse racing posts written. Over 30% of which we re on the sports’ dire financial condition.

Should the state of New Jersey bail out the industry? Absolutely not. I love horse racing but the industry if it can’t survive on its own should cease operations. The government shouldn’t be in the business of trying to prop up any business. Public resources should be used for something more fruitful, not be wasted on something that will fail eventually even with the assistance.

On a side note. Why did the NY Times use a thoroughbred racing photo to accompany an article that specifically states harness racing in the very first paragraph? Harness racing is to horse racing, what the LPGA is to professional golf, a Rodney Dangerfield. Harness racing, even when its greatest events are taking place, barely get noticed by the media. No one need look further than both sports 3-year-old Triple Crowns. Has The Messenger Stakes, always raced in the New York City area, ever been on network television. I know it hasn’t from 1970 on.


Roger Federer wins his 4th Australian Open

It was also his 16th grand slam title. From AP-

Roger Federer dismantled Andy Murray in the Australian Open final Sunday to extend his own record to 16 Grand Slam titles and prolong the British drought.Roger  Federer

Federer collected his fourth Australian Open title with a 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (11) win at Rod Laver Arena that, apart from the tiebreaker, lacked the drama and raw emotion of his five-set loss here last year to then No. 1-ranked Rafael Nadal.

Last year, Federer sobbed when Rod Laver presented the winners’ trophy to Nadal, having missed a chance to equal Pete Sampras’ record 14 career majors.

This time, Murray was on the verge of tears, drawing deep breaths as he apologized for failing to end a 74-year-old drought for British men at the Grand Slam tournaments.

Fred Perry was the last in 1936. I’m not a big tennis fan, but recall who the last British woman is to win a Grand Slam title. It was Virginia Wade in 1977.

I did that without checking Wikipedia first. The only defect in my memory was I had Wade’s victory being in 1978 rather 77.


NHL suspends Washington Defensemen Mike Green suspended for 3 games

From AP-

Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green has been suspended three games for elbowing Florida Panthers forward Michael Frolik in the head.

The NHL announced the discipline on Saturday.

Green delivered the hit in the first period of Friday night’s 4-1 win over the Panthers. Frolik was not seriously injured and Green was given a minor penalty for elbowing on the play.

The defenseman later had to be helped off the ice after bruising a thigh in a collision with Dmitry Kulikov while going for a loose puck.

The thigh injury may have kept Green off the ice for the same amount of time as the suspension handed down to him.

Here’s a video of his hit on Frolik.

It was without question, a deliberate elbow to the face. Then why was Green penalized only two minutes last night? BTW I was watching the game at the time.

Just one more instance of cockamamie officiating and disciplinary decisions involving the NHL. Florida Panther David Booth may finally come back next week from a concussion that happened as a result of a hit from Philadelphia Flyer Michael Richards. Richards drew a five minute penalty but no suspension and Booth is lost for 3 months. Green draws a two minute penalty, a 3 game suspension and Frolik is able to continue playing. Does anyone else think this is an appalling lack of consistency?


Former NFL player and announcer Tom Brookshier dead at 78

Where do I start? I have many memories of Brookshier. He and Pat Summerall were the lead football announcers for CBS for around a decade. They appeared in the action movie, Black Sunday, as themselves. Brookshier and Summerall also did syndicated NFL highlight shows(In those pre ESPN days) like ‘Game of the Week’ and ‘This week in pro football’. I watched shows every week almost when growing up. It is very hard for me to forget who I thought did a great job describing NFL play. RIP.

Former Philadelphia Eagles star Tom Brookshier has died at 78.

The Eagles said he had cancer and died Friday night.

Brookshier was an All-Pro defensive back who played on the Eagles’ 1960 championship team. He had 20 interceptions in seven seasons with the team, earning All-Pro honors in 1959 and 1960.

After he retired, Brookshier announced NFL games for CBS. He teamed with Pat Summerall to form CBS’ top telecast team.

He is one of seven Eagles to have his number retired.


Serena Williams wins the Australian Open

It is her 12th major title, tying her with Billie Jean King. From AP-

Serena Williams put an end to Justine Henin’s hopes of a Grand Slam title on her return from retirement with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 win in the Australian Open final on Saturday.serena Williams

Williams withstood a determined challenge from Henin before securing her fifth Australian Open title and 12th Grand Slam singles championship.

Henin, who had most of the crowd support at Rod Laver Arena, couldn’t match her fellow Belgian Kim Clijsters’ feat of winning in her Grand Slam comeback tournament. Clijsters won last year’s U.S. Open on her return from a two-year retirement after getting married and having a daughter.

Williams won the last four games Saturday to clinch the championship in just over two hours, falling on her back in celebration after match point before shaking hands with Henin at the net.

Still, it was an impressive run by Henin. She lost in the final of the Brisbane International tournament to Clijsters two weeks ago.

Henin, who defeated four seeded players on the finals, is in the midst of an impressive comeback. Should players with a past track record like hers really be unseeded? I understand a player who steps away is going to drop ranking wise but when they begin a comeback and aren’t seeded, distortions in the pairings is going to happen.

Today’s win was Serena’s 4th Australian triumph in the last six years. The French Open is up in 4 months. Can she win there for the second time? Her only triumph at Roland Garros took place in 2002.


One at a time- Washington defeats New Jersey 81-79

The last time New Jersey won two games in a row was April 11 and 13th of last season. From AP-

Two days after the NBA suspended their leading scorer and another teammate, Earl Boykins and the Wizards’ reserves gave Washington a much needed lift, if only for a night.NJ-Wash

Boykins hit a jumper with 0.4 to play and Washington defeated the New Jersey Nets 81-79 on Friday night, the Wizards’ first game since guards Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton were suspended for the remainder of the season for bringing weapons into the locker room.

“You have to stay resilient,” Wizards forward Caron Butler said. “You know, this has been a tough and trying period for all of us mentally and physically, but you have to try to find a positive. That’s what we have been doing, trying to stay afloat, stay positive and keep pushing. Fortunately the city has been behind us and we have been moving forward.”

Boykins was the main reason the Wizards ended a four-game losing streak and prevented the Nets (4-41) from posting consecutive victories for the first time this season. New Jersey beat the Clippers on Wednesday to end an 11-game losing streak.

When will sports writers begin referring to single Nets wins as ‘streaks’? Will the team’s fans begin wearing bags over their heads?

I predicted the Nets not to break the worst ever record for a NBA team(9-73). Right now, I think my prediction stands a very good chance of being wrong.


QB Kurt Warner announces his retirement

I hope he doesn’t do a Bret Farve. From ESPN-

Kurt Warner has called an end to one of the great storybook careers in NFL history.

The 38-year-old quarterback announced his retirement from the game on Friday after a dozen years in a league that at first rejected him, then revered him as he came from nowhere to lead the lowly St. Louis Rams to two Super Bowls, winning the first of them.


In 124 regular-season games, Warner completed 65.5 percent of his passes for 32,344 yards and 208 touchdowns. He and Fran Tarkenton are the only NFL quarterbacks to throw for 100 touchdowns and 14,000 yards for two teams.

Warner, who grew up in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and played collegiately at Northern Iowa, ranks among the career leaders in a variety of passing statistics.

He was also the fastest player in NFL history to 10,000 yards passing and tied Marino as fastest to reach 30,000.

As it stands, I think Warner stands a good chance of being elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I wish him an enjoyable retirement, he’ll be missed.


Pennsylvania Race Track asks for probe in horse deaths

Penn National Race Course is located 17 miles east of Harrisburg. From AP-

A central Pennsylvania racetrack is asking state officials to investigate a New Hampshire horseman after 10 of his horses were euthanized on the track in 13 months – two last week alone.

Penn National Race Course jockeys have refused to ride this week on or against horses owned by Michael Gill.

Penn National says eight Gill horses broke down last year and two more last week. Several jockeys tumbled Saturday when Gill’s Laughing Moon collapsed after a third-place finish.

Ten horses having to be killed is a lot but race horses are fragile animals being used at high speed. There is a good size element of risk involved.

Nevertheless, a investigation should be conducted. At the very least if Gill is innocent he should have his name cleared.


Cincinnati Bengals LB Rey Maualuga arrested for DUI

The 2009 2nd round draft pick started 15 games this season. From AP-

Police in northern Kentucky have arrested Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Rey Maualuga on charges of drunken and careless driving.

Covington police spokesman Spike Jones says Maualuga hit a parking meter and two parked cars early Friday with his 2003 Pontiac. There was minor damage.

The 23-year-old is being held without bond at Kenton County jail, and no attorney is listed for him.

The Bengals’ 2009 second-round draft choice from Southern Cal started the first 15 games of his rookie season before breaking his left ankle.

What I find interesting in this story is the car, Maualuga was driving. How many recent 2nd round picks drive 7-year-old cars?


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