Comments or suggestions: Gerard Van der Leun


Whoa! Catfight! Picture of the Day

Hungary’s Emese Szabo, top, wrestled Italy’s Francine De Paola in the women’s quarterfinals at the European Wrestling Championship in Vilnius, Lithuania,

Posted by Vanderleun at Apr 2, 2009 2:10 PM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Cherry-Picking the NHL: The Real Deal Behind the Bain Offer

by CHRIS LYNCH , American Digest Sports Editor

BY NOW YOU MAY HAVE HEARD about the $3.3 BILLION bid by a group headed by Bain Capital to purchase the entire NHL.

Some folks have said this deal would never happen because teams like the Bruins and Maple Leafs would never sell. Others, like Eric from Off Wing Opinion, see this as a possible PR move by Bain and Game Plan.

I see this as a Trojan horse. Bain is as smart as they come when it comes to takeovers and turnarounds. They see real value here. There is a product with a large base of loyal consumers but there is also a management in place that has consistently shown that they don't know what they are doing. I don't think Bain really wants to buy all 30 teams.

I think they might just want to buy just 15-20 teams.

Posted by Vanderleun at Mar 4, 2005 8:10 AM |  Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Nothing-But-Net Results of the Antoine Walker Deals

by CHRIS LYNCH , American Digest Sports Editor

THE RECENT NBA TRADING DEADLINE saw a rash of deals but none were as interesting as Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics trading for the guy they so publicly traded away last year - Antoine Walker.

I'm not so much interested in whether this was a good move or a bad move by the Celtics. I am interested in the simple math this trade represents and what that math says about Danny Ainge as a General Manager.

Since taking over as Celtics General Manager, Danny Ainge has had three major trades and one minor trade that I want to examine.

First he traded Walker and Tony Delk to the Mavericks for Raef LaFrentz, Jiri Welsh and Chris Mills plus a first round draft pick in 2004.

Posted by Vanderleun at Feb 27, 2005 9:53 AM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The NBA All-Snores

by CHRIS LYNCH , American Digest Sports Editor

TODAY IS THE NBA ALL-STARS GAME. The game has special meaning for my wife and me. Our first date was to watch the NBA All-Star game so today marks our unofficial anniversary.

Back in college I met my future wife at a dance. We hit it off and found we had similar interests. Among those interests was basketball and specifically the Boston Celtics. This was the mid-80's and the Celtics were riding high with Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Dennis Johnson, Robert Parish and Danny Ainge. That night at the dance we agreed to go out on a date. The date was to meet at my dorm room the next day to watch the NBA All-Star Game.

Many things have changed in our lives since that first date. We've been married for close to fifteen years and we have four kids. Many things have also changed in the NBA but those changes don't seem to be as positive.

Nothing shows the changes to the NBA better than the All-Star game. The action today will be all dunks and three pointers. The focus on those two things at the expense of all else has all but rendered the NBA unwatchable.

Back in the 80's the slogan was "the NBA - its FANtastic." Today's slogan should be "the NBA - its not FUNdamental." Somehow along the way NBA players have forgotten how to throw a bounce pass or shoot a bank shot. The fundamentals are missing from today's game and that makes the NBA difficult to watch. A game of nothing but dunks and three-pointers gets boring quick.

There is no better percentage shot in basketball than a bank shot but yet the only players who seem to use a bank shot today are Tim Duncan and some European players. It is the lack of an accurate mid-range shot by the players today that has depressed scoring in the NBA. Games with final scores in the mid-80's are the norm today and those games are boring.

My wife is representative of the fans the NBA has lost. She used to be able to name every player on the Celtics and she knew the name of each member of the All-Star team from both the East and West. Today she'd be lucky to name two players for the Celtics. The NBA no longer holds her interest because its boring.

I just hope that she still finds life with me interesting.

AMERICAN DIGEST SPORTS EDITOR Chris Lynch serves his own brew daily at A Large Regular, and contributes to Lynch can be reached at

Posted by Vanderleun at Feb 20, 2005 8:06 AM |  Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink

by CHRIS LYNCH , American Digest Sports Editor

WITH THE NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE FINALLY READY to finally pull the plug on the season, I thought this would be a good time to discuss one of my long held beliefs. I believe that Vince McMahon and the WWF made a big mistake trying to take on the National Football League with their Xtreme Football League four years ago, but I think McMahon would have been very successful if instead of the NFL he went after the NHL.

The NHL has three main problems:

1. All the clutching grabbing, trap defenses and elimination of fighting have made the sport boring to watch for the average fan.

2. Owners spend way too much on player contracts. Some owners give out contracts similar to baseball or basketball even though the hockey revenues are not close to those other sports. This makes it tough to compete for owners who are trying to be fiscally responsible.

3. The NHL has done a terrible job of marketing their product. Gary Bettman was brought in specifically to market the sport (he admittedly knew nothing about hockey when he took the job). The fact that last year's All-Star game got the same TV ratings as the first game of the season for the Arena Football League is exhibit A in the failure of Bettman to do the job he was hired to do.

An Xtreme Hockey League (The XHL) could have both addressed these problems and fixed them.

When your biggest stars, in this case Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemeiux, both publicly state that all the clutching and grabbing is killing the sport and you do nothing about it you are bound to fail. Even the best players don't care for the current NHL product. The XHL could solve this with just a few rule changes such as:

Posted by Vanderleun at Feb 13, 2005 12:11 AM |  Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Super Bowl Proposition Bet

by CHRIS LYNCH , American Digest Sports Editor

Last week I picked the Patriots to win by 18 points and earlier this week I reaffirmed that position. Picking the winner of a game is something you can do on any game though. What really makes the Super Bowl special are the proposition bets (whenever I hear or read those words I always think, "Hey bet - you going out? You're not a cop are ya?").

Coin Flip: there is a statistical advantage that says a coin tends to land with the same side up as what was up when it was tossed. Now since the Eagles are the visiting team and since they will most likely call heads and since heads will be probably up when the ref tosses the coin - take the Eagles to win the coin flip. This bet is literally a toss up.

Posted by Vanderleun at Feb 5, 2005 9:21 PM |  Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Super Bowl XXXIX: Take the 18 Canoli

by CHRIS LYNCH , American Digest Sports Editor

Let me say this right up front just so I don't bury the lede - the Patriots win this game by 18. Yup, you heard me - 18 points.

I'm tempted to end this post right here. What else is there to say after you just predicted a 18 point victory? I'm tempted but I figure I owe you an explanation of how I came to that 18 point figure.

The first and most basic question is "who wins the game?" As soon as we knew the match-up everyone said the Patriots would win. Now people are starting to talk themselves into the Eagles. People are talking about Andy Reid never losing a game which he had an extra week to prepare for and things like that. However, this is a situation where the first impression was the right one. The Patriots will win. And they'll win big!

Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 29, 2005 7:36 AM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Of Snow Flurries, Ted Kennedy, Teased Unders and the Final Four

by CHRIS LYNCH , American Digest Sports Editor

It's down to the final four. Just two more games until we have a Super Bowl Champion.
I'm so excited
and I just can't hide it.
I'm about to lose control
and I think I like it.

Atlanta at Philadelphia

The line opened with the Eagles giving 5 points. It went to 5.5 mid-week and it is now at Eagles giving 6.

When I first saw the line I thought the Falcons were the pick. I'm a big believer in sticking with first impressions but here I'm going to make an exception. Let me explain my thinking.

Both teams have excellent defenses. They're about equal as far as I'm concerned.

Both teams have MVP-caliber quarterbacks but here I was giving the edge to Atlanta. Face it -- if the draft was tomorrow Michael Vick gets picked ahead of Donovan McNabb.

My last impression of Vick was of him looking great against the Rams. But that was against the Rams and it was inside at the Georgia Dome. Tomorrow's game is outside against the much tougher Iggle defense. Being against the Eagle D is key but playing outside is keyer (Hey - just trying to add a word to the lexicon).

It will be cold. The ground will be frozen and slick and there may even be some snow flurries remaining from today's big storm. At the very least the wind will whip snow from the stands and sidelines onto the field. These kinds of conditions do not favor the quick-muscle twitch QB's. These conditions are perfect for bottling up the lightning in a bottle Michael Vick. These conditions are much better for the home town Donovan McNabb.

With Vick neutralized - what do the Falcons have left? Nothing. Thus the change of heart.

Take the Eagles and give the six points.

New England at Pittsburgh

Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 22, 2005 8:18 AM |  Comments (8)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Lynch's NFL Picks: Struggling Back from 1 for 5

by CHRIS LYNCH , American Digest Sports Editor

Last week I went 1 for 5 so I'm duty bound to try and prove I'm not an idiot by offering more picks and hopefully doing much, much better this week. (It should also be noted that professional NFL analyst Ron Jaworski went 1 for 4 last week - so I got that going for me... which is nice.)

Jets at Steelers

The Steelers are giving 9 points and the over is a ridiculously low 35 points.

Back in December these two teams met in Pittsburgh with the Steelers coming away with a 17-6 victory. That day the QB's for both teams were awful. Chad Pennington threw 3 interceptions and Ben Roethlisberger threw 2. The only passing TD that day came from Jerome Bettis.

Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 15, 2005 9:09 AM |  Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Lynch's NFL Picks

by CHRIS LYNCH , American Digest Sports Editor

OK the NFL playoffs are upon us. That means I am almost obligated to share my picks for this weekend's games:

St. Louis vs. Seattle

Seattle is favored by 4 points. Hmmmm....

The last time they played in Seattle, the Rams were able to pull off a miracle victory. Not this time. Everybody in the NFL hates Rams coach Mike Martz and Saturday Martz and the Rams get their comeuppances.

Michael Martz and comeuppances both have 12 letters. Coincidence? I think not. (I know I'm stretching it with "comeuppances" but "son of a motherless goat" was way too many letters.)

Take Seattle and give the points.

New York at San Diego

The Chargers are favored by 7 and the over/under is a relatively low

Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 7, 2005 11:28 PM |  Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Curse of the Simpsons and Big League Baseball

by CHRIS LYNCH , American Digest Sports Editor

The 1992 Springfield Nukers: Dream Team or Satan's Slaves?

Hello, my name is Bob Ley and welcome to ESPN's Outside the Lines. Tonight we look at "the Curse of the Simpsons."

First Broadcast in February of 1992, the Simpsons' episode "Homer at the Bat" featured some of baseball's brightest stars.... but now... questions: "What did Baseball's best have to do to be on the show? What terrible price did they pay for that fleeting flash of fame?"

According to the Official Simpsons Website Homer at the Bat's plot was:

Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 5, 2005 8:41 AM |  Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Why the Red Sox Will Continue to Crush the Yankees

by CHRIS LYNCH American Digest Sports Editor


Yes the Yankees just landed Randy Johnson and I wouldn't be surprised to see them get Carlos Beltran either. They are still not better than the Red Sox.

After reading Buster Olney's column yesterday - I had to remind myself that Buster was the beat reporter on the Yankees for many years and his "like" of the Yankees is well known. My bias is towards the Red Sox (but at least I'm upfront with that). I'll tell you how I see things and you decide.

The way I see it, when looking at the teams position by position - it currently stands:

  • Red Sox - 4 (first base, second base, left-field and DH)
  • Yankees - 3 (third base, centerfield and right-field)
  • Tied - 2 (catcher and shortstop)

This is assuming that the Yankees sign Beltran - otherwise Johnny Damon has it in centerfield all over an aging Bernie Williams. This also grants that catcher and short are equal (arguments can be made by either side).

The Red Sox also have a substantial edge in bench depth with Doug Mirabelli and Jay Payton coming off the bench (probably the best back-up catcher and outfielder in MLB).

Tell me Buster - where is the Yankees' advantage? Is it in the fact that the Yankees will be dealing with Giambi and Sheffield steroid's questions all year? Or do the Red Sox have an advantage in that they now have the curse of the Bambino off their shoulders whereas the Yankees get to be reminded about the greatest choke-job in history all year?

Is it in age? Because the starting line-up for the Red Sox averages 1.1 years less than the Yankees (and is therefore less prone to injury).

Starting pitching? Well lets take a look.

Posted by Vanderleun at Dec 31, 2004 9:05 AM |  Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Reggie White is Dead

A great man and a great teammate.

by CHRIS LYNCH, American Digest Sports Editor

The above simple fact is unavoidable. Reggie White is dead.

It is not clear whether he died from a heart attack or from complications from sleep apnia. Either way - Reggie White is dead.

In the next few days you will probably hear many testimonials on how great a man he was, how great a teammate he was, how great a man of faith he was and how great a family man he was.

You will also hear some people say "yes he is dead but..."

These are the people who would like to call Reggie White a racist for a speech he gave in front of the Wisconsin legislature. These are the people that would have you believe that Reggie White was some sort of black, ecclesiastic, athletic David Duke.

Without exception these people will never have had a moment in private with Reggie White. The

Posted by Vanderleun at Dec 29, 2004 6:21 PM |  Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Charlie Weis will be Successful at Notre Dame

Weis at work and at play.


Charlie Weis, the offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots, was recently named to be the new head coach at Notre Dame - replacing dismissed head coach Ty Willingham.

Before we can discuss why Charlie Weis will be successful at Notre Dame, we have to deal with two issues. Obviously, there was some hub-bub about Ty Willingham being let go in the first place. Then there was the issue of Weis not being the first choice for the job.

Ty Willingham was let go because he was not winning enough games. Period. Willingham went 21-15 at Notre Dame and that just doesn't cut it.

Yes - Ty Willingham is African American but what does that have to do with anything? The people who are arguing that he should never have been let go are doing so merely because he was a black head coach - not because he was a good head coach (and wasn't it Martin Luther King who said, "I have a dream that someday I will not be judged on the color of my skin but on my won/loss percentage"?). Where were these protesters when Ron Zook got fired by Florida? Zook was 20-13 at Florida. Was there no outrage because Zook is white?

Posted by Vanderleun at Dec 21, 2004 8:40 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Pedro to the Mets - It's Not Business It's Personal


My work here is done.

Pedro Martinez is set to cut his ties to the World Champion Boston Red Sox and sign with the New York Mets for a reported $56 million over 4 years GUARANTEED!

Many Red Sox fans are upset by this. Jilted seems to be the word that best fits.

Other Red Sox fans are disappointed but are trying to be philosophical. They want to echo Michael Corleone in the film version of The Godfather,"It's not personal. It's business." That's their adopted mantra.

I understand the business part of the deal. I understand that $56 million is a lot of money and that the Mets went to 4-years when the Red Sox were only willing to guarantee three. I understand Pedro, who came from abject poverty, would be hard pressed to turn down all that money. However, I do think the Mets and Omar Minaya in particular made a bad business decision with this offer. Because of the type of contracts Omar has given to Pedro and to the just better than average Kris Benson (3-years $21 million) - in the end I think Pedro will be with the Mets longer than Omar Minaya.

I understand that this is a good business decision for Pedro and I literally can hear Al Pacino's voice in my head saying, "It's not personal. It's business."

The thing is - I read Mario Puzo's book and I know that phrase has been completely taken out of context. This is what Michael Corleone actually said in the book:

"Tom, don't let anyone kid you. It's all personal, every bit of business. Every piece of shit every man has to eat every day of his life is personal. They call it business. OK. But it's personal as hell. You know where I learned that from? The Don. My old man. The Godfather. If a bolt of lightning hit a friend of his - the old man would take it personal. He took my going into the Marines personal. That's what makes him great. The Great Don. He takes everything personal."
The Red Sox offered Pedro $40 million over 3-years with lots of perks and he turned them down. I take it personal.

For seven years Pedro was the face of the team. He went 117-37 for the Red Sox during his time with the Sox (an incredible 76% winning percentage). His 1999 and 2000 seasons were among the best seasons by a starting pitcher in history. Pedro won two Cy Young Awards and it should have been three except he was held to a higher standard in 2002. Once I was the most passionate defender of Pedro. Now I have no feeling for him.

The Red Sox paid him $17.5 million this year. They have been very good to Pedro Martinez. $40 million over 3-years was an excellent offer from the Red Sox and Pedro turned it down.

I'm taking it personal.

AMERICAN DIGEST SPORTS EDITOR Chris Lynch serves his own brew daily at A Large Regular , and contributes to

Lynch can be reached at

Posted by Vanderleun at Dec 13, 2004 7:10 PM |  Comments (13)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Warm Up Pitches: The Top 5 Things About the First Week of Baseball

by CHRIS LYNCH , @ A Large Regular : American Digest Sports Editor

1. The Closers Implode: Blown saves seem to be the big story of the week. Mariano Rivera is Exhibit A but it seems to be a wide spread phenomenon. If you took the top 5 in saves from both leagues last year you would see that so far this year they have 9 saves and 3 blown saves. That's not a good ratio but their combined ERA is even worse. Not counting Eric Gagne who is on the DL or John Smoltz who is now a starter - the top performers from last year have a combined ERA of 5.51. That's not good. This is probably just an example of the hazard of small sample sizes but it is probably something that bears watching because my guess is at least one of these top closers will just completely melt down.

2. Cincinnati was the last team to lose a game and then they promptly lost two in a row. Currently they are in third place in their division and that's probably where they'll end up at the end of the year (if they are lucky). They will be a fun team to watch with plenty of offensive fire works though.

3. The Astros are the last team to hit a home run in MLB: It took till yesterday for the Astros to hit their first home run and they ended up hitting two - one by Jeff Bagwell and one by Jason Lane. The Astros have a pretty solid pitching staff (especially if Andy Pettite can stay healthy) but their offense looks anemic. The Astros lost the bats of Carlos Beltran and Jeff Kent; Bagwell's shoulder isn't getting any better (robbing him of most of his power) and Lance Berkman is still on the DL. With this offense the Astros are probably a .500 team at best. That second HR yesterday vaulted the Astros from last place in HR in MLB to 29th - passing the Pirates who only have one dinger so far (but who expects anything from the Pirates?).

4. David Ortiz is making a push to be the first DH to win the MVP. I know it is really early in the season but Ortizzle has been hot, hot, hot. He's in the top 5 in all the major offensive categories. Can a DH be the MVP?

5. The A's pitching staff. So far the A's starting pitching has had a dazzling 1.59 ERA - oh wait a minute - I forgot to add in the stats for former Cy Young winner and supposed anchor of the staff Barry Zito. Oops! When you add in Zito's numbers the staff ERA balloons to 5.13. What's wrong with Zito? Did Beane trade the wrong guy? Tim Hudson is 1-0 with a 1.80 ERA for the Braves and Mark Mulder is a little better than Zito with a 6.00 ERA. This is definitely something people will be watching all season.

AMERICAN DIGEST SPORTS EDITOR Chris Lynch serves his own brew daily at A Large Regular, and contributes to Lynch can be reached at

Posted by Vanderleun at Apr 10, 2004 8:56 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Franchising Hockey: Bain NHL Takeover in Stealth Mode?

by CHRIS LYNCH , @ A Large Regular : American Digest Sports Editor

HAVE YOU READ ANYTHING RECENTLY about the proposed takeover of the NHL by Bain Capital? Me neither and I find that strange.

When the proposed $3.5 billion takeover bid was announced it was viewed by some as just a PR stunt but isn't publicity normally part of a PR stunt? I have to assume that the folks at Bain could have gotten more PR out of their bid if PR was really what they were after.

We are talking about a $3.5 billion takeover here. The fact that there hasn't been more written about it makes me think that some things must be happening behind the scenes. I've written about the Bain takeover before and my feelings on the subject have not changed. In fact some of the recent developments have made my belief even stronger.

Weeks ago USA Today ran an article about a fan who wants the fans of the teams to buy the league. The fan idea seemed idiotic but the fact that they tried to compare it to the Bain offer seemed more geared to smear the Bain offer than to present this fan offer in a good light.

The NHL filed two complaints against the players association (NHLPA). Both complaints are geared toward making replacement players in the fall a reality. If the NHLPA is successful in blackballing replacement players and if the agents are told that if they represent a replacement player then they will be decertified by the NHLPA - then it becomes harder for the NHL owners to field replacement players that will be anywhere near acceptable to the paying customers.

If the level of talent is less than or equal to an NCAA college level then why wouldn't the fans just skip the NHL games and go to a local college game?

Replacement players are the linchpin of the owners plan to drive the players association into a deal that is acceptable to the owners. Without replacement players then the league is shut down for a second season or a deal has to be made that will make people wonder why the league shut down for a whole season just to return to a status quo.

If the replacement players plan increasingly looks like a non-starter then the owners on the fence become more and more susceptible to an offer from Bain Capital.

Everyone refers to a team as a franchise. And who happens to be experts in franchises? Yep - Bain Capital who along with Texas Pacific Group and Goldman Sachs Capital own Burger King (one of the grand daddies of franchise operations).

There are 30 franchises and Bain just needs 15 to wrest control of the NHL. With 15 franchises Bain could elect their own commissioner and do many things to make their dream a reality.

Think about this. Currently there are nine franchises with values below $117 million, which include teams like the Edmonton Oilers, Carolina Hurricanes, Pittsburgh Penguins, Nashville Predators, Atlanta Thrashers and Anaheim Mighty Ducks (who recently sold for just $50 million). If Bain was to offer this lower tier of franchises a premium for their clubs - say an average of $150 million per franchise - then it would cost them just $1.2 billion to gain control over better than 25% of the league (I'm assuming that Anaheim wouldn't change hands because their ownership change has yet to be approved).

Some teams would never sell because the NHL has been a cash cow for them but you have to think that Bain could get 15 teams to agree to a deal behind the scenes. I think this behind the scenes dealmaking is going on as we speak.

Bain has to keep negotiations silent because they need to announce a solid block of owners willing to sell in order to make their hostile takeover of the NHL a reality. This may be a case of the less you read the more that's going on.

AMERICAN DIGEST SPORTS EDITOR Chris Lynch serves his own brew daily at A Large Regular, and contributes to Lynch can be reached at

Posted by Vanderleun at Apr 8, 2004 9:25 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Gloves Are Coming Off

IN THE COMMENTS SECTION OF: SPORTS: Juiced - Jose Canseco vs. Mark McGwire Jason Stark Turns into Sergeant Shultz @ AMERICAN DIGEST.

I'm stepping back and have no juiced-up dog in this fight.

Posted by Vanderleun at Mar 31, 2004 5:57 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
SPORTS: Juiced - Jose Canseco vs. Mark McGwire + Jason Stark Turns into Sergeant Shultz

by CHRIS LYNCH , @ A Large Regular

"Subtract the steroids and Mark McGwire is nothing more than a Jack Clark or a Dave Kingman."

I'M NOT A PSYCHOLOGIST And I don't play one on TV, but you don't be a shrink to recognize that one of the driving motivations behind Jose Canseco's Juiced was both his jealousy of Mark McGwire, and his feeling of being screwed over by a double standard a sport that has one set of criteria for white players and a second set for players of color.

Posted by Vanderleun at Mar 28, 2004 5:26 PM |  Comments (12)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Alomar to the Hall

by CHRIS LYNCH , American Digest Sports Editor

LAST WEEKEND ROBERTO ALOMAR made it official and retired. Now the only question is whether is will get the votes necessary to be voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

I say "Yes" and here's why:
- 12 consecutive All-Star games
- 10 Gold Gloves in 11 years
- 4 Silver Slugger awards

Posted by Vanderleun at Mar 22, 2004 6:27 AM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
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