Tuesday, July 27, 2010

7/27/10: GTOG Inbox, part 1

By GTOG Staff

In our last Inbox, we made it clear that here at GTOG, we get a lot of emails (gettoourgame@gmail.com).  Well, you can imagine what has happened since we were linked one week ago on Yahoo's Puck Daddy for our prophetic and astute take on the Ilya Kovalchuk contract situation.  In fact, we had to go to thesaurus.com to try to find the proper adjective to describe the amount of emails we've received, and one of the synonyms for "brimming" is "impregnated."  So basically our email is pregnant.  It's even gotten to the point that we have to churn out these Inboxes before we actually think they are ready -- thus, we give you "part 1" without really having any idea when (or if) there will be a part 2.  But, we like how "part 1" sounds. 

Q:  Gentlemen, love your work.  Isn't the Kovalchuk saga yet another example of how poorly managed the NHL really is?  How could the league negotiate a CBA with such an enormous loophoole, then ignore the exploitation of that loophole in the form of the Hossa, Franzen, Luongo and other contracts, then try to crack down on the Kovalchuk deal in a transparent attempt to launch a preemptive strike in advance of the next round of labor wars?
Dan "Down" Donzi
East Liberty

Dan, thanks for reading. Mario Lemieux once called the NHL a "garage league," and, as usual, he was right.  We don't know who the league uses for legal advice - wait, actually, we do know - but we're pessimistic about all this ending peacefully.  Anyway, we have a more immediate example that illustrates how Gary Bettman and his team always seem to be a touch off the mark:  today's Winter Classic press conference at Heinz Field.  It's July 27th.  Dan, no one is thinking about hockey right now except us and people exactly like us.  That's for starters.  Second, Crosby (such a gamer), Talbot, and Dupuis showed up to represent your Pittsburgh Penguins.  The Capitals' representatives?  Mike Knuble and Dave Steckel.  Takes your breath away, doesn't it?  If you locked the average sports fan in a room with David Steckel and said, "this is David Steckel, he plays for the Washington Capitals," the sports fan would sue you for false imprisonment.  David Steckel has the electricity of a cinder block.  Really, they couldn't pick a date when someone on the Caps' top two lines was available?  You see the problem, Dan.  The best thing this event had going for it was Mario's suit.

More on the Steelers, Cowboys, NHL, Ben, and Max Talbot after the jump...

Q: Hey guys, love the blog.  With Steelers' training camp right around the corner, it's time to start the discussions about the big run test.  How do you think Casey Hampton will do this year?
Simone Mahlbach
Gascola, PA

GTOG: Simone, thanks for your email. It seems like the big story on the first day of Steelers' training camp for the past half-dozen years has been Casey Hampton's weight...is he too fat for the run test?  It's as predictable as Kirstie Alley on Us Magazine, but Hampton is 70 pounds lighter.  In 2008, Younzer Nation (we say "younzer" and not "yinzer" because it is way more hardcore when a 72 year-old female parking lot attendant at Mellon Arena says "younz go der to de left" as opposed to "yinz go der to de left") was abuzz because Mike Tomlin declared that Hampton was "overweight and he's not conditioned enough to participate at this point."  This sent the Pittsburgh media into an absolute tizzy and even spawned a Ron Cook Column that, in its entirety, would have constituted a Ron Cook poem without any editing.  We should all just agree now that: 1) Hampton is, and will be, fat; 2) there will be several articles on the first day of training camp about whether it's more important for the veterans to do the run test or be ready for the season (as if you can't do both?); and 3) Casey Hampton will declare that "I will be ready for the start of the season on September 12th.  That's all that matters."

Q: You may have noticed that Versus, the most prestigious purveyor of televised hockey this side of NBC, recently unveiled its list of the Top 10 centres in hockey (and I spell the word "centre" that way advisedly; I've earned the right to do so as a bald, bespectacled Canadian).  You may have further noticed that Mike Richards is No. 5 on that list, one spot higher than Evgeni Malkin at the No. 6 spot.  Wouldn't you say it's time you acknowledged the Flyers' captain's superiority and leadership?
Pierre McGuire

GTOG: Gee, Pierre, we don't know.  Why don't we go to the video...

Malkin says, "Take that."  Really, it's not like Versus handing out Top 10 positional honors is on par with the Nobel Prize.  What do they do, have Joe Beninati, Darren Eliot, and Ed Olczyk sit in a room together and hash this out?  What we wouldn't do not to be a part of that conversation.  The only sensible approach to this sort of a list is to ask yourself, "would I trade the player in the No. 6 slot (Malkin) for the player in the No. 5 slot (Richards)?"  If the answer is "No," then guess what?  [Ed. Note: the answer is "No."]  You've got to take another crack at your list.  By that metric, the Versus Top 10 is problematic.  Take Mikko Koivu at No. 7.  The folks at Versus are telling us they would take Koivu over, among others, Joe Thornton, Nick Backstrom, Ryan Getzlaf, and Steve Stamkos.  Nonsensical.  Look, GTOG is not saying this is easy.  With this kind of exercise, hard choices are expected.  Controversy is inevitable.  But we're not afraid to put ourselves out there, and we at GTOG humbly submit the following suggested revisions to the Top 10 list:

1.  Sidney Crosby
2.  Pavel Datsyuk  Sidney Crosby (double shifting)
3.  Henrik Sedin  Evgeni Malkin.  Last season was disappointing, but we're not trading him straight up for anybody.
4.  Jonathan Toews  Mario Lemieux (by virtue of using only his mind while sipping wine in the press box)
5.  Mike Richards  Mario Lemieux (by virtue of astral projection while talking to Gary Roberts in the press box)
6.  Evgeni Malkin  Steven Stamkos.  The guy is 20-years-old.  Last season he had 51 goals and 95 points.  He's not even close to his prime.  Compare these facts to the guys below.  Yeah, we'll take him.
7.  Mikko Koivu  Jonathan Toews.  He doesn't belong here because of his work in the regular season (he had 68 points last year), but because of his 29 points in 22 playoff games.  He totally Stepped Up 3-D (by the way, MUCH more on this coming soon...)
8.  Joe Thornton  Pavel Datsyuk.  You have to admit, the guy is a beast.  But note the drop from two consecutive 97-point seasons to 70 points last year.  He's 32, but he's still the best defensive center in the game.
9.  Nicklas Backstrom  Henrik Sedin.  Last year's 112 points was an aberration, as the previous high for the 30-year-old was 82 points.  But he is about as solid a guy to put out there in any situation as you're liable to find, and he never misses a game.
10.  Ryan Getzlaf  Nicklas Backstrom.  Hate to admit it.  And really hate to put two guys from the same draft ahead of Jordan Staal, but this kid has been on an upward trajectory in points for the past three seasons, and he's going to get better again next year.  We don't care who he's playing with.

Q: What do you guys make of Cowboys rookie WR Dez Bryant refusing to carry veteran WR Roy Williams' shoulder pads off the field after practice?  
Colleen D'Notti
McConnells Mill, PA

GTOG: You ask a great question, Colleen.  Our first thought was that this whole story was a huge misunderstanding because we assumed that Roy Williams was asking Bryant to carry his pads because Williams kept dropping them.  This whole system in the NFL whereby rookies are "initiated" onto these teams is a little ridiculous.  The NFL is not like a regular job where you advance in a linear fashion after paying your dues.  The NFL is a merit-based system.  If you are a rookie but are better than a veteran, too bad for the veteran.  It is entirely possible, if not likely, that Dez Bryant is significantly better than Roy Williams...if so, why should he have to carry Williams' pads?  Who did Roy Williams ever beat?

A lot of people think that the NFL is like Friday Night Lights where the rookies (freshmen) should have to pay their dues to the veterans (juniors and seniors).  That's nonsense.  Professional football players are just that - professional.  They come into the league making 7-8 figure salaries and the highly regarded rookies are significantly more important to their teams than the veterans.  If Dez Bryant thinks he is better than Williams, then he should have told Williams to carry his shoulder pads.  Obviously there is some value in "team-building," but how does shoulder-pad carrying help achieve that?  Imagine if Nats pitcher Miguel Batista told Stephen Strasburg to carry his glove off the mound?  Not only would Strasburg be justified in refusing, he probably would have enough clout to have Batista thrown off the team, if not assassinated outright.

Obviously rookies should be respectful of veterans, humble, etc...  We just don't see how carrying shoulder pads creates that.  Or, maybe it's just because we think Roy Williams has had such a negligible impact in the NFL that he should be carrying my laptop for me.  There aren't enough negative things that we can say about the Cowboys.

Q: Ben is a bum.  Hows-a-come the Stillers didn't get rid of him?  They shoulda shot him outta Heinz Field like a gumband!
Perry Grigson
Nitro, West Virginia

GTOG: Perry, we agree wholeheartedly that the Steelers should have jettisoned Ben, but let us speculate as to what happened.  When the Steelers found out about his indiscretion in Millidgeville, GA they wanted to get rid of him.  The problem they faced in trying to get rid of him is that at the time, his PR was absolutely toxic and no team was willing to part with much for a guy who their fans would not only not be excited about acquiring, but would probably be disappointed in acquiring.  Do you really think that a Raiders or 49ers fan would have rushed out to get a 7 jersey?  No chance.  So, as much as the Steelers wanted to get rid of him, they (rightly) couldn't justify dumping him for 20 cents on the dollar.  But....at the end of the upcoming season, we absolutely think the Steelers will be shopping Ben because they can get closer (although not equal) value in return.  To put it more simply: no one wanted to trade for Superman, but someone may want to trade for Clark Kent.

Q: Max Talbot called Ovechkin a "real douche."  Can you post the audio and do you have an opinion on this?
Darlene Ohmoranian
Mollenauer, PA

GTOG: Our first letter from Mollenauer, PA - what a beautiful place, Darlene.  You're truly fortunate to be from there.  Here is the link to the interview - Talbot definitely doesn't hold back. http://www.1059thex.com/cc-common/podcast.html

As for our thoughts on this, obviously it is funny and refreshing to hear Talbot say this.  The only concern we have is that this type of stuff comes back to backfire all the time.  Remember Lee Flowers calling the Tampa Bay Bucs "paper champions" only to have the Bucs win the Super Bowl the next season with Warren Sapp waving at Flowers in the post game interview?  Or how about Anthony Smith guaranteeing victory over the Pats in 2007?  We know how that turned out.  Max Talbot is obviously more of a superstar than Lee Flowers or Anthony Smith, but it's still a little scary.  Nonetheless, nice for Talbot to confirm about Ovechkin what everyone already suspected.


  1. Max Talbot's comments werent made in the same vain as those of Lee Flowers or Anthony Smith. Both Flowers and Smith criticized entire teams and their abilities. Talbot had nothing negative to say about the capitals as a team or their abilites as a whole. He simply stated their captain's personality is equivalent to a clensing product used by women on their nether regions............Most people should have been abe to tell this after the couple of times he decided assualt random fans with a camera around the time of the olympics.

    There is no excuse for that. And the victim mentality is laughable.

    Hate to break it to Ovi but if he wants to make 100 to 200 times what all the rest of make because of his skill set, and he enjoys the celebrity that comes along with it, he automatically forfeits his privacy and independence, and if he thinks it should be different for him or that shouldn't be the case. My reaction is HAHAHAHAHAAHA...HAHAHA..HAHA..ha..woooooooooo!

    It's like a person who marries someone making that kind of money thinking their marriage is going to be normal only with more expensive stuff...hahahahaha....I mean cmon! Really?!...really?

  2. Interesting analogy to marriage. Keep reading.

  3. I'm struggling with the analogy to marriage. Keep reading.

  4. The marriage example was used because a person doesnt even need to be the one making multi millions for their privacy to to be limited and their lifestyle to be restrictive in certain ways.

    There are plenty of people who are out to marry someone thats rich or famous but still think they will have a quaint house with a white fence, three kids and dog. MAYBE thats happens, but its an anomaly not the norm.

    Cmon people it wasnt that tough. lmao