Tuesday, August 30, 2005
HOW HUBRIS LOST A WAR
And here's the thing. It didn't have to be this way. If you are a right wingnut, a fightin fundie, or just plain a hawk, you SHOULD have been gloating by now. You should be visiting liberal websites and laughing at those pantywastes who said we couldn't win this war. You should be, but you can't . All because of the hubris of the President and a small group of his advisors.
This war was lost to sheer arrogance. Because a small group of men with no military experience (and paleeeze, Bush's Nat. Guard Service, DON'T go there, just don't!) thought they knew better than the best military minds in the country or NATO. Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Wolfowisz. Chickenhawks all, willing to send others to do the dirty work they were unwilling to do. Virtually no military experience, yet convinced they knew better than the current Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the three previous Chairmen( including Desert Storm leader Colon Powell), the Marine Commandant, and the Army's top general. Were so confident that they ridiculed these men for having the hutzpah not to see the brilliance of their plan.
How much different would things be in Iraq today if Bush and his fellow Yellow Elephants had been humble enough to listen to the experts? If we had gone in full force. If we'd have had enough troops on the ground to actually secure the country? If we would have had a real plan for reconstructing the country?
Every time an IED blows one (or two, or ten) of our kids into oblivion, remember all those ammunition dumps we left unguarded because we didn't have enough manpower. Next time Rummy or the Dick bitch about foreign fighters amongst the insurgents, ask yourself how many of these fighters would be there if we would have had adequate manpower to guard the borders. Ask how much different things would be now if not for the arrogance of a few small men.
Make no mistake, this war is lost. Even many Congressmen and Senators in Bush's own party are conceding the fact. And when history deals out the blame, it's gonna fall on the lap of one man. That's when the buck he has been passing for the last 6 years will finally come to rest where it belongs!
I also lost all my site links at the same time... hopefully, I'll have them back up and running this weekend!
Sunday, August 28, 2005
DAMN NEAR PERFECT DAY
When it comes to canoeing, I am always prepared. From about the first of April to the end of November, the canoe always stays on top of the trusty S-10 pickup, the gear stays stored in the cap. So when the alarm went of at 5:45 yesterday morning, all I had to do was throw some water on the face, deodorant on the pits, swim trunks, sandal's and T- shirt on the very ample bod, and head out the door.
After a stop at Mickey D's for coffee with my pal Ron, and another to ice down the OLD MILWAUKEE, I pointed "old trusty" northeast and we embarked on the 1 1/2 hour drive to Colon MI (magic capital of the world).
I met up with my friends John, Bob, Scott, and Carol at a small diner undeserving of mention. After breakfast and small talk, we spotted Carol's Jeep Cherokee at the public access, and headed upstream to Sherwood MI.
We hit the water a little after 10. The weather was glorious, partly cloudy and mid 70's. The river was a bit low, and we had to rock over a few fallen trees, but only once did I have to get out of the canoe and pull over a fallen tree. Never did my feet get wet!
This is a very scenic stretch of the upper St. Joseph, with lots of points of interest. The remnants of several ancient Indian fish traps can be seen, along with the remains of an old grist mill, and a spectacular Indian burial mound. The mound is easily thirty foot high, and a perfect oval shape. We stopped for lunch at the mound, and while exploring, I came across a baby Massauga rattlesnake. It was barely 6" long. Massasaugas are an endangered species, and very shy creatures. Ones this size have no rattles and very indistinguishable markings. But the arrowhead shaped head is the give away. It was not pleased by my presence and made a beeline down the hill towards the river. I was amazed at how fast the little guy could move!
About a half hour before we reached our take out, Bob discovered an aluminum jon boat stuck in the crook of a tree, obviously carried there by spring floods. He got it down, it floated, so we salvaged it and he is now the proud owner of a 10' jon boat.
We were off the river around 4:45 and by 5:15 we were loaded up and headed to dinner. Dinner was at the very mentionable Curly's in beautiful downtown Colon. John, Carol and I had an excellent pizza, while Bob had the all you can eat broasted chicken, and Scott the all you can eat fish.
I arrived home about 9:15 pm. All in all, it was damn near a perfect day!
Now cooking at the The Church Potluck: FABULOUS FRIED FISH
Thursday, August 25, 2005
Okay, here we go:
7 THINGS YOU PLAN TO DO BEFORE YOU DIE
1. See my granddaughters graduate
2. Canoe the entire length of all the rivers in northern Indiana and southwest Michigan (St. Joseph, Elkhart, Pigeon, Fawn, Eel, Tippecanoe, Wildcat, Wabash, Dowagiac, Kalamazoo, Coldwater, Paw Paw, Thornapple)
3. Canoe the Erie Canal
4. Visit the ancestral home in England
5. Visit Vancouver
6. Work full time on an election campaign
7. Smoke a joint the size of Castro's cigar (just because the government tells me I can't, and tests me to make sure I don't)
7 THINGS YOU CAN DO
1. Play with the grandkids on their level
3. Rouse the rabble.
5. Show someone visiting Detroit or South Bend a REAL good time!
6. Take risks/ experiment
7. Keep a secret
7 THINGS YOU CAN'T DO
1. Tolerate intolerant people
2. Speak a foreign language
3. Make my dog behave
4. Live in a subdivision
5. Eat healthy
6. Drink decaffeinated anything
7. Type fast
7 THINGS THAT ATTRACT YOU TO THE OPPOSITE SEX
(okay that's kinda an assumption isn't it?)
1. Smile/ laugh (almost any women can be attractive if she cultivates a great smile)
2. Good body image (thinking you're attractive is 3/4 of the battle)
3. Lack of hang ups / easy going
4. Smart is sexy!
5. Outgoing / sense of humor
6. Openly affecionate
7. Curves (okay, I like boobs and butts. So sue me!)
7 THINGS YOU SAY MOST
1. Dammit Kipper.... STOP THAT!
2. What the hell were you thinking?
3. Fuck you, and your little dog too!
4. Sometimes, just getting out of bed is a moral victory
5. Excuuuse meee?.Yah, I thought so!
6. #@*^%&$##@*!!!&^^^%^#@#@!!#! Gary Bettman
7. DON'T try to behave, once you start, people will expect it all the time!
7 CELEBRITY CRUSHES
1. (tie) Mouseketeers Annette and Cheryl
2. Sky King's niece Penny ( yeah, me and Jimmy Buffet)
3. Gladys Knight - when I was in High school, I thought she was sooo hot, even if she did hang around with Pips
4. Candace Bergen - long before Murphy Brown, she was most beautiful woman in the world
5. Joyce DeWitt- cute, smart and so much funnier than that irritating Krissy. Jack, you shoulda been all over that one!
6. Queen Latifah- Beautiful, smart, and OH MY GOD cleavage. Need I say more?
7. Drew Barrymore- open, easy going, confident but not cocky, funny, sweet, cute, genuine, and ample curves. If there is anything approaching a perfect woman, this is it!
7 SONGS I AM CURRENTLY DIGGING
1. DEAR JOHN - Aimee Mann
2. THE WEATHER IS HERE, I WISH YOU WERE BEAUTIFUL - Jimmy Buffet
3. TRUCKIN - Greatful Dead
4. MOTEL SEX - Danny Cohen
5. DAMN GOOD DISGUISE - Mendoza Line
6. JACOBS LADDER - Chumbawumba
7. SPIDERS - Wilco
8. RUNNING ON EMPTY - Jackson Browne
9. KISS ME - Sixpence, None The Richer
10. HOW'S IT GONNA END - Tom Waits
11. NEIGHBORHOOD #3 - The Arcade Fire
7 PEOPLE I WANT TO TAG
since most of my regular visitors have seen this... how about
2. Bucky 4 Eyes
3-7 Anybody else from the Cotillion who wants to give it a go
Now cooking at THE CHURCH POTLUCK: Three Recipes For Your Holiday Cookout!
Monday, August 22, 2005
SOME DAYS, YOU JUST WANNA GRAB 'EM BY THE LAPELS AND SHAKE VIGOROUSLY
IF THIS IS YOUR IDEA OF FREEDOM AND DEMOCRACY, I’LL TAKE THE OPPRESSIVE OLD REGIME, THANK YOU!
So. We’re replacing the oppressive old secular regime, where women had rights equal to western women, and replacing it with an even more oppressive Islamic one? WTF? Is this what George meant when he promised the new Iraqi constitution would guarantee women’s rights? Is this the “freedom and democracy our kids are dying for? This is worth a trillion dollar investment?
According to the paper Sunday, the new Iraqi constitution says “the laws of Iraq are based on the laws of Islam”. In effect, we have replaced an oppressive secular regime with an even more oppressive Islamic one. And women, of course, will bear the brunt of this oppression.
Cindy Sheehan caught a lot of flak for saying that George Bush is the biggest terrorist in the middle east. But before you condemn Ms. Sheehan, consider this:
Did you know that more Iraqi civilians have died in just the last two months than Americans have died since the beginning of the war? That the Baghdad morgue does 5 times more” business” than it ever did under Saddam’s rule? That 5 times as many Iraqis live in poverty than ever did under Saddam? This is what W’s war has wrought. I would say that is the equivalent to foisting terror on the populace!
AT LEAST ONE REPUBLICAN GETS IT!
Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska gets it. He has all along. Unlike the Chickenhawks and Yellow Elephants who conceived, launched and direct this war, Hagel has actual military experience. Along with two Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star, and numerous citations of merit! Before we launched this war, Hagel called for us to send three times the numbers of troops we did. Rummy ridiculed him. Turned out Hagel was right and Rummy was wrong. 2+ years later, the Iraqi populace and American GI’s are paying dearly for the Donald's arrogance.
Hagel says that the US needs to develop an exit strategy for Iraq, and scoffs at the idea that US troops could remain at levels above 100,000 four years from now, as the Pentagon contingency plans call for. Some excerpts from Hagel’s appearance on ABC’s THIS WEEK on Sunday:
"We should start figuring out how we get out of there,but with this understanding. We cannot leave a vacuum that further destabilizes the Middle East. I think our involvement there has destabilized the Middle East. And the longer we stay there, I think the further destabilization will occur."
“"stay the course" is not a policy. By any standard, when you analyze 2 1/2 years in Iraq ... we're not winning”
Hagle says a stronger military presence by the U.S. is not the solution today. "We're past that stage now because now we are locked into a bogged-down problem not unsimilar, dissimilar to where we were in Vietnam. The longer we stay, the more problems we're going to have."
"What I think the White House does not yet understand — and some of my colleagues — the dam has broke on this policy," Hagel said. "The longer we stay there, the more similarities (to Vietnam) are going to come together."
As to Gen. Schoomaker’s plan to keep current troop levels in Iraq for at least another 4 years, Hagel described the Army contingency plan as "complete folly." I don't know where he's going to get these troops," Hagel said. "There won't be any National Guard left ... no Army Reserve left ... there is no way America is going to have 100,000 troops in Iraq, nor should it, in four years. It would bog us down, it would further destabilize the Middle East, it would give Iran more influence, it would hurt Israel, it would put our allies over there in Saudi Arabia and Jordan in a terrible position. It won't be four years. We need to be out."
IF YOU NEEDED MORE PROOF THAT PAT ROBERTSON IS A DANGEROUS NUT JOB, HERE IT IS!
via media matters
Pat Robertson, host of Christian Broadcasting Network's The 700 Club and founder of the Christian Coalition of America, called for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
From the August 22 broadcast of The 700 Club:
ROBERTSON: There was a popular coup that overthrew him [Chavez]. And what did the United States State Department do about it? Virtually nothing. And as a result, within about 48 hours that coup was broken; Chavez was back in power, but we had a chance to move in. He has destroyed the Venezuelan economy, and he's going to make that a launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism all over the continent.
You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it. It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war. And I don't think any oil shipments will stop. But this man is a terrific danger and the United ... This is in our sphere of influence, so we can't let this happen. We have the Monroe Doctrine, we have other doctrines that we have announced. And without question, this is a dangerous enemy to our south, controlling a huge pool of oil, that could hurt us very badly. We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability. We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator. It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with.
need I add any comment to that?
NOW COOKING AT THE CHURCH POTLUCK: Sanders Hot Fudge Ice Cream Topping. COMING THURSDAY... Recipes for your Holiday BBQ
Saturday, August 20, 2005
SOME "CHEERY" THOUGHTS
Sometimes, just knowing how badly someone else has had it makes you feel good about things. It has actually been a bad week. My carpal tunnel is killing me, I have writer's block, my ISP has screwed up my mail account so badly I have just given up and opened a yahoo account, and my cell phone provider over charged me by $62 this month. I missed canoeing today because I had to deal with all the above stuff. Yet, I actually feel pretty good today. That's partially because for the second time in a month, a person of the female persuation actually uttered the words "I love you' for my benefit (more later). But mostly, because I know people who are having much worse weeks.
Take my son Sean, for example. In the space of less than 24 hours he suffered a hernia at work, and had both family vehicles break down. Compared to that, carpal tunnel and writer's block don't seem so bad. And my best friend from hs and his wife (who just happens to be my cousin) just learned their granddaughter has a potentially debilitating disease. I'd rather be bankrupt and homeless than have that happen!
Then there is the President, for whom the bad news just keeps on coming. Not only is Cindy Sheehan not going away, she is gathering supporters every minute of every hour of every day. More and more mothers of dead GI's are turning up to support her. She has become an endless source of bad publicity for "the Dubya". The causalty count in Iraq just keeps climbing, with the size of the body count, both Iraqi civilian and US GI, growing exponentially. And that Holy Grail of Iraqi peace, the document that was supposed to turn the tide against the insurgency, the Iraqi Constitution, appears to be all but in ruins. Having already missed one deadline, they now appear to be hopelessly deadlocked.
Even worse for the pres and the congressional leadership, they are increasingly facing criticism from inside their own party. And not just the on the war. The budget deficit, health care, intelligent Design, energy policy... all receiving criticism from prominent Repubs. On NPR's "Talk Of the Nation" last week, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was openly critical of the Pres for his lack of leadership on health care, which Gingrich called a moral imperative. On the energy bill, which he described of doing 10% of what needed to be done and laden with pork, said Newt; "there is no incentive to remove pork from this or any bill if the President isn't willing to show leadership and even threaten a veto." Apparently Gingrich feels that signing a bill that falls 90% short of what is needed, while busting the budget, is a sign of poor leadership. Imagine that!
So, compared to my son, my cousin, and da prez, my carpal tunnel, writer's block and phone companies problems seem kinda inconsequential. Zippedee doo da, my oh my what a wonderful day!
And now, a brief word about our personal angel at Verizon Wireless:
Her name is Sonya, and she used to be our favorite waitress at the local Applebee's. She kinda just disappeared from there, and we wondered on occasion what had happened to her. Imagine our surprise after we changed cell phone carriers, and found her working at the local Verizon office. We almost didn't recognize her, with her long hair cut short, and out of uniform. But she recognized us and came over and said hello.
She has been our guardian angel ever since, taking care of our equipment and billing problems, patiently showing me how to use my phone features, and spending a lot of time helping Shelley get balky features on her cell phone to work.
The last time we were in, I asked her what I could do to repay her for all her help. She had apparently heard Shelley and I talking about Starbuck's, and said she loved latte's, and next time I came in I could bring her one. It was at that point that Shelley asked her if she had ever had a Moolatte from Dairy Queen. The answer was no, but it sounded really wonderful! I promised I'd bring one the next time we came in.
I had forgotten about it until about half way through the hour she spent on the phone today getting duplicate charges removed from our bill. I looked at Shelley and said "you know what I forgot, don't you?" Shelley immediately said "Moolatte".
So, upon our departing Verizon $60 richer and with Shelley's caller ID working. I immediately drove to Dairy Queen and purchased a large French Vanilla Moolatte. When I walked through the door with it, she looked at me, and in front of several dozen customers declared, "Awwwww...I love you!"
Damn! Second woman this month to tell me that! Now, if only the one lived closer than a thousand miles away, and the other weren't married.
Now cooking at THE CHURCH POTLUCK: Mexican Salad. Coming later this week: A Few Recipes For Your Labor Day BBQ!
Quick Update: Barb has just posted the recipe for a replica of Sander's Hot Fudge ice cream topping. If you are from southeast Michigan, you KNOW how good this stuff is! If you are not, it's high time you find out! And if you have a Meijer store near you, Sander's Ice Cream Toppings should be available (mom always bought it in the large cans). Beware, when refrigerated, this stuff eats just like candy! Many a time I've gone to make a Sundae only to discover that the boys had eaten the stuff by the spoonful until gone (in their defense, they learned that from their Grandpa and me).
Saturday, August 13, 2005
THE WEEK, THE ADVENTURE, THE CONCERT, THE PROBLEM (?) WITH PIZZA
The adventure: for my birthday, my kids got me 2 tickets to see Gordon Lightfoot at the historic Fox Theatre in Detroit. This was a terrific present. I have been a huge Lightfoot fan since I was fifteen, when a h.s. buddy and I snuck into this little folk club in New Center, next to the golden towered Fisher Bldg.. It also meant an excuse to fill that craving I've had for a genuine Detroit style pizza!
I hit the road for the 4 hour trip about 12:30. I figured this would give me plenty of time to pick up my friend and canoe partner Carol in Battle Creek, get to Motown, have dinner, and get to the 8pm concert. I decided to get pizza at the Cloverleaf in Eastpointe rather than Niki's in Greektown because a) I thought that the dinner and casino crowd might make parking problematic, b) It is a quick shot down Gratiot, across on Mack Ave., and down Woodward to the Fox, and c) A number of people sent me emails championing the Cloverleaf, telling me I was wrong that Niki's had the best pizza in the world (I wasn't). It was a decision that almost cost us the concert.
Dinner at the Cloverleaf was excellent, especially the appetizer bread basket. It featured freshly baked french bread, and these very unique bread sticks. They appeared to be the thick, Sicilian style pizza dough, baked and cut into sticks. These were then split in two, brushed with a combination of garlic butter and simple syrup, rolled in sesame seeds and baked on a sheet, split side down, until the bottom toasted nice and brown. They were awesome.
We left the Cloverleaf at 6:30, with plenty of time to make the 20 min drive and the 8 o'clock concert. Almost immediately, I sensed something was wrong!
Crossing from Eastpointe into Detroit proper is literally like crossing from night to day. You go from a sea of all white faces to a see of all black faces. It is voluntary segregation at its farthest extreme. I fully expected to be the only white occupied vehicle on Gratiot. And for six blocks or so I was. Then I started to notice there was an awful lot of traffic going INTO town for after work hours. And more and more of these cars were crammed full of white people. My worst fears were realized when I got to Mack Ave. Mack runs through one of the most burned out and abandoned areas of Detroit. It is usually pretty much abandoned after about 5:30. Not only was it busy, but there were an awful lot of SUV's full of white people, or black folks dressed like they were from suburbia. Then we turned on the radio and found out the bad news. In that one small 12 square block area at the foot of Woodward Ave., not only was there the Lightfoot concert, but home Tiger AND Lions games. About 100,000 people cramming into that small area all at once. It took us about an hour and a half to make that 20 minute drive. We got to our seats about 2 minutes before the show started. Had we taken our time and had a second beer at the Cloverleaf, our gooses would have been cooked for sure.
The concert: For a sixty something guy who just two year ago spent six months teetering on the brink of death after a stomach aneurysm burst, Gord looks marvelous! As spry and energetic as I have ever seen him! He still plays that 1948 vintage Martin as smooth and fluidly as anyone you'll ever see. As always, a great band backing him up, featuring bassist Rick Haynes, who has been with Lightfoot from the very beginning, some forty plus years ago. Gord's voice has gotten a little thin at the top, but he also sings with more emotion than he ever has, which actually takes advantage of the top range thinness. He did most of the old standards (minus Carefree Highway and Cattails and Pussywillows), a couple of songs off his new album, and several songs from the old "United Artist" days that I had never heard him do in a concert setting. Especially good was "Old Dan's Records", which I hope becomes a concert staple. Remarkably, given his age and medical history, he did two full 80 minute sets, and clearly enjoyed himself. He admittedly has a soft spot for the Detroit/Windsor area, where he got his start, and is still extremely popular. It was an extremely broad age range in attendance, everywhere from college age to advanced senior. Which, I guess, shows that well crafted melodies and poetic lyrics never really go out of style.
The Problem (?) With Pizza: Michigan has the distinction of being the most obese state in the Union. I am sure it is due to one factor. Michiganders, especially southeast Michiganders, are obsessed with pizza. Pizza is not a food item, it is a food group. We eat it in copious amounts, in every conceivable style and shape. Not just the signature Italian Bakery style of Buddy's, the Cloverleaf, Shields, and Niki's. Hand tossed, thin and crispy, stuffed Chicago style, double crust, we love it all. Detroit has spawned a plethora of pizza chains. Little Ceasars, Dominoes, Papa Romano's, Pizzapopolis, Dolly's, Jet's, Hungry Howies. And more Mom and Pop places than you can shake a stick at. We probably consume more pizza per capita than anyone in the world.
And while the medical establishment wrings it's hands at our passion for empty carbs loaded with fructose laden sauce and fatty meats, there is one advantage! THERE ARE NO SKINNY WOMEN IN DETROIT! Not that Detroit women are fat, but they look like real women. No waif like creatures here. Detroit women have real curves. And cleavage. And round, firm buttocks. If you see a skinny woman in Motown, call the authorities. They can follow her to the local meth lab and make a bust.
Which makes nights like last night very special. 90 degree heat, 80 % humidity, and 50,000 curvaceous women dressed for the weather. A veritable cleavage carnival. Sometimes, life is just too good!
Saturday, August 06, 2005
TRULY A CLASS ACT
from the Detroit Free Press via Christy at Behind The Jersey
Darren McCarty's Letter to Fans
July 28, 2005
Don't be sad it's over -- be happy it happened.
In the past few days, since the official word came of the buyout and as the status of my contract teetered, the reality that I'm not going to be a Red Wing anymore has set in, and I've taken some time to reflect.
I don't know if it's maturity ('cause if you know me, that's never been an issue) or the painstaking reality of the past 12 months without hockey. Either way, I'm saddened to leave an organization in a place where I've grown up, raised a family, been part of a first-class and first-rate team, won three Stanley Cups and achieved great personal success.
But looking back, what I really feel is gratitude -- thankful for the opportunity to realize a childhood dream to play for my childhood team. Grateful to Mr. and Mrs. Ilitch and their entire family for letting this boy become a man and always treating my family as one of their own. Grateful to the entire Red Wing organization from Ken Holland and his staff, to John Hahn and Anne Marie Krappmann in the PR department for their ever tireless effort. Grateful to Piet Van Zant and Paul Boyer for patching me up and getting me back out on the ice. Grateful for the support and memories from everyone at the Joe whom I will miss seeing daily, and thankful to the media for not only their endless support of myself but in the way they've always supported the McCarty Cancer Foundation and my band Grinder.
What will I miss most about playing hockey in Detroit? That's simple. The fans. From the day-to-day coffee stop or gas station conversation to the people who say hello on the street or ask for an autograph at the checkout, there are no greater fans than those in Detroit.
These are the great things about my time as a Red Wing that I will always remember no matter where I go. Thank you to all of you. But please don't shed a tear 'cause it's over -- crack a smile 'cause it happened, and no one can ever take that away. I'll always be a Red Wing at heart, and Detroit will always be my home.
Much love to you all,
Darren McCarty, Red Wings No. 25
Mark's note: I found this on the site linked above. It is a really nice Wings fan site run by 17yr old Christy Hammond. Christy is an aspiring journalist entering the University of Michigan. A graduate of Detroit Country Day HS, she was a three year staff member at the school newspaper, and captain of the track team. Besides running her own website, she is a contributing writer to ON THE WINGS. Please take a minute and drop by her site and give her an attaboy!
Curently featured at the CHURCH POTLUCK, Banana/Graham Cracker Cake!
There are times when you come across something that just does your heart good. I recently came across a web site dedicated to Red Wings fans. That in itself is cool, but what does my heart good is it's proprietors. The site is run by three teenagers from the area where I grew up. Their bios are terrific, they are obviously great kids. And their site! Extremely professional looking with lots of features. I have seen large corporations spend big bucks developing sites not nearly as professional and easy to use.
They are currently hosting the fourth Carnival of the NHL. So stop by and say hi to Matt, Brian, and Christy at ON THE WINGS. And be sure to check out those bios!
p.s. and note that our good friend d-lee's hockey blog, RED AND BLACK HOCKEY gets a mention at the Carnival!
Friday, August 05, 2005
THE TALENT DRAIN (I told you so!)
From left: Yannick Trembley (Thrashers), Marcus Ragnarsson (Leafs),
Trevor Kidd (Leafs) and Igor Korolev (Blackhawks)
When the NHL announced it's new salary cap system I predicted there would be a drain of talent to European teams that could offer more lucrative contracts, and that this would be especially true of European players. So far, some forty men who played in North America before the lock out have left for Europe. The four pictured above are by far the most significant, but at least 18 players with significant NHL experience have already bolted. So far the Maple Loafs have taken the biggest hit, losing a legitimate star in Ragnarsson and excellent back up in Kidd. But they are not alone in the boat.
The Detroit Red Wings appear to be on the verge of losing their three bright young stars, Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, and Nick Kronwall to Europe. Pavel Datsyuk has a very lucrative offer from the team he played for during the lockout, Moscow Dynamo. There appears to be no way the Wings can come up with the $4 mil it will take to sign him. Zetterberg is extremely unhappy with what the Wings have offered him so far. He has better offers from his old team in the Swedish Elite League, and from a Swiss team. If his best buddy Datsyuk flies, look for him to follow suit. Kronwell has offers in both Sweden and the Czech Republic that appear to be far better than what he is making with the Wings.
This has the makings of being a disaster for the NHL. Not only are Datsyuk and Zetterberg two of the leagues most exciting young players, they play on the leagues most important team. TV ratings, in both the US and Canada, jump 10% when the Wings play. They have the NHL's largest fan base scattered all across North America. Wings parephenalia outsells it's closest competitor, the Leafs, 2 to 1. Cutting your premier franchise off at the knees can't be good for the long term health of your league.
The talent drain is only likely to get worse. A large number of teams have spent far too much money on high profile players, leaving them little room under the cap to fill out their squads. This means a large pool of quality free agents to be signed, and a very small pool of money to sign them. So either a lot of guys are going to sign bargain basement contracts, or look to Europe for better deals. I'm guessing a significant number will opt for the latter.
Here is the list of players with significant NHL experience who have left for Europe so far:
Jason Holland - LA
Andreas Johanson - Nash
Craig Johnson - Was
Trevor Kidd - Tor
Igor Korolev - Chi
Chritian La Flamme - St. Louis
Cory Larose - ATL
Andreas Lilja - Nash
Dominic Pittis - Buff
Jamie Pollock - St. L
Deron Quint - Chi
Marcus Ragnarson - Tor
Robert Shnabel- Nash
Radovan Somik - Phi
Yannick Tremblet - Atl
Roman Turek - Cgy
Jamie Wright - Edm
Thursday, August 04, 2005
LET'S NOT BE SO QUICK....
Let's start with DMSO. This is a wonderful substance that you rub on like liniment. It absorbs very quickly into the skin and promotes healing by quickly promoting increased blood flow to a given area. DMSO is found in every college and professional locker room, every gym with serious bodybuilders, probably most hs locker rooms. My elderly canoe buddies and myself use it all the time. You can't beat it for muscle or joint injuries and soreness. But.. it's technically illegal to use in this manner. It has never been approved for use on humans, and is manufactured as an industrial solvent. It is turned into an ointment by small mom and pop companies, and you have to know someone who knows someone to get it. And this is what got NFL lineman Frank Woycheck into trouble.
One of the properties of DMSO is that you can mix other substances, aspirin for example, with it and it will rapidly decrease the amount of time it would normally take to reach the affected area. It is commonly used in the horse racing industry to speed steroids to muscles, thus promoting faster healing and recovery times, which allows the horses to race more often. Frank Woycheck's personal trainer's DMSO source? A trainer at the famous Pimlico Race track in Baltimore. Unfortunately, the trainer was accidentally given a tub of DMSO which contained steroids, Woycheck failed a drug test, and got a 4 game suspension. And while Woycheck's steroid ingestion was purely accidental, such is not always the case. Personal trainers are hired and fired on the basis of their reputation for results. More than one trainer has been known to enhance his reputation by secretly adding illegal substances to DMSO (not only steroids, but amphetamines, etc.). Especially if the guy who is paying you big bucks is less than happy with his progress after an injury. Folks will do a lot of unsavory things to protect their livelihood.
Then there are supplements. A major university in Germany recently did a study of over 600 readily available supplements for the athletic market. The kind of stuff you find at GNC. Over 15% of these products contained steroids or steroid precursors not listed on the label. How can this be? To understand it, you have to take a look at the supplement industry and its clientele.
Athletes, even weekend ones, are always looking for something to give them a competitive edge. Suppose some guy you work out with at the gym reads an article or sees an ad in Men's Health or Muscle and Fitness for some great new supplement. The guy tries it, and in a couple of weeks he is making progress he has never made before. With in a week, everyone in that gym will be using that supplement. Within two weeks, everyone at every gym in the city will be using it. Within two months, it is a national craze.
The mark up on supplements is huge, and a hot selling supplement can net millions in a very short time. So, if you illicitly add steroids to your supplement, by the time someone actually flunks a drug screen, you can be sitting on the beach on some exoctic Pacific resort island, Mai Tai firmly in hand, far from the not so long arm of the law. And if you get lucky, once you build a clientele, you can remove the steroids from you next production batch, and no one will be the wiser. The rewards of loading your supplement with steroids are high, and the risk relatively low. It's a wonder only fifteen percent were found to have steroids.
You would never know it by looking at me now, but fifteen years ago, I was the ultimate gym rat. I was obsessed. 3 to 4 hours daily, 7 days a week. The gym where I worked out, Pro Health, was right across the street from my employer, so I could go before and after work, plus on my 1 1/2 hour lunch break. They used to keep track of the mileage we piled up on the rowing machines, Airdynes and Nordic Tracs on a big map on the wall. In the space of a few months, I had Nordic Tracked across the country and back. I left everyone in the dust. Like I said, I was obsessed.
One of my regular work out partners was a gal who was a serious competitive body builder, competing in the US Naturals competitions. This is the body building federation that doesn't allow steroids, diuretics, amphetamines, or other chemical substances. She was shocked to be banned for two years for failing a drug test. While she can't prove it, the only thing she did differently in the months before her failed test was to switch supplements at the urging of a trainer.
In spite of what you may have heard, the steroid Palmeiro tested positive for, stanozolol, while normally injected, is also available in ingestible form. And, going back to the DMSO thing, it is commonly used in horse racing.
So, let's step back and see where this all actually goes, rather than just jump on the media driven crucifixion bandwagon. Raffy's been a great, steady player for a very long time. He at least deserves the benefit of a bit of doubt.
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
for a change....GOOD NEWS
ITEM#2 : THE MICHIGAN SUPREME COURT has ruled that property owners on the Great Lakes cannot restrict people from walking the beach or swimming in front of their property. In a unanimous ruling, the justices said that there is a public right of way that extends three feet beyond the normal high water mark. This will almost certainly be the final word, as the US Supreme Court has already ruled similarly on the midwest's navigable rivers, streams and creeks.
This is an extremely important victory for the state of Michigan and it's people. Tourism has passed automotive and furniture to become the biggest industry in Michigan. Tourism brings in billions of dollars and supports tens of thousands of jobs in a state with a struggling industrial economy. The tourism industry is built largely around the beaches of lakes Michigan, Huron, St.Clair and Erie, and the spectacularly scenic shoreline of Superior. Keeping the beaches open for tourists and locals is a must if southern Lake Michigan is to keep it's reputation as North America's Riviera.
I think we should start a pool on how long it will be before Ambassador Bolton blows up and embarrasses America and pisses off the rest of the world. Think days or weeks, not months.
Look for Rick Nash to be by far the best player in the NHL this year.
Don't be too quick to jump all over Rafeal Palmeiro for his steroid suspension (I'll explain tomorrow)!
Don't look now, but Indiana's Evan Bayh is outfundraising his rivals for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. And he is in Iowa kissing babies and behinds like nobody's business. More good news for Bayh, the highly respected and fabulously wealthy businessman Warren Buffet is said to look favorably on him.
Monday, August 01, 2005
TOO SOON PAST- Lake Michigan vacation is now history
It was a great week with wonderful beach weather and a whole string of sunsets similar to this one! I'll let the Patch family speak for themselves, but the Spurriers (Shelley, Savannah, Kipper, and yours truly) had a great time!
I HAVE NO CLUE WHAT WENT ON IN THE NEWS LAST WEEK!
I purposely avoided all sources of news for the entire week. The only news I caught sight of was a headline saying the space shuttle was being permanently grounded. I have no idea what went on, so... fill me in on what you thought was the most important news event of the week!
TALK OF THE NATION had a great show today on a subject I blogged on a few weeks ago. Through our consumption of foreign oil, we are funding our enemies! The very people who would like nothing better than to destroy us and our way of life! It is the number one threat to national security, yet the Bush administration has failed miserably in addressing the problem. As has the Republican congress. As (before anyone starts to gloat), did Bill Clinton. This is absolutely the most critical problem facing our country, yet Bush does his best Nero imitation, fiddling while our energy sources burn. This was a great show, and I'd encourage you to go to NPR.org and take a listen.
Hope you all had a great week (but missed me just a little)!