Friday, June 12, 2009

Sharks Free Agency 2009

Free agency time is upon us again. As I said before, this is looking to be the most interesting off season in Sharks franchise history. Below is a look at the UFA's the Sharks have to make decisions on and my take on each one.

Jeremy Roenick - JR is an interesting situation. He showed last season that he still could play at a high level but also showed his age with the time lost due to injury. JR will probably be one of the last players the Sharks make a decision on. I think it would be good to bring him back for one more year, albeit at a reduced price and role.

Mike Grier - The deadline deal for Travis Moen was the writing on the wall for Grier. Although he is still a valuable asset on the penalty kill, he is past his prime and with the addition of Moen and Torrey Mitchell healed and an entire off season to get himself ready for training camp, Grier looks to be expendable. I tend to agree.

Tom Cavanagh - Cavanagh saw limited playing time last season even with all of the man games lost to injury. That says a lot. At 27, Cavanagh should be at his prime. The Sharks may not re-sign him, but other teams might not either. What may decide whether Cavanagh is back or not is how the rest of the FA class goes. Personally, I have no opinion either way. If you want a veteran reserve who knows the system, keep him. If you can get someone else, go for it.

Ryan Vesce - Vesce is in the same boat as Cavanagh. Also 27, he should be taking the next step forward in his career. Unlike Cavanagh, I feel this is a player the Sharks should keep. I don't have any technical reasons for it, just a gut feeling about him.

Travis Moen - Moen is a player the Sharks need to be on the phone with right away on July 1st. Toughness and a great PK asset who is hitting his prime. If the Sharks are truly serious about making a run at the Cup, Moen will be a key piece.

Rob Blake - Blake's play last year showed that he still has plenty left in the tank. However, at $5 mil. last year, his price may be a little steep this year. The thing is, the Defence is not a position you want to be constantly making changes on. With Kent Huskins basically being a new acquisition for next season and Alexi Seminov likely being gone to make room for Huskins, how many more changes do you want to make on the blueline again? If the money is there, I say re-sign him. If the cash isn't there, I suppose that this change may need to take place.

Alexi Seminov - Seminov is another guy who's value was shown by his playing time. Splitting time with a significantly older Brad Lukowich and a much younger Derek Joslin showed that the Sharks are ready to move on without Seminov. Unlike other Sharks fans I have talked to, I'm not as dwon on Seminov. Yes, he made bad plays often, but he did make great plays as well. It's this inconsistency paired with younger and more talented players ready for the NHL in the Sharks system that makes Seminov expendable.

Brian Boucher - This is a key position for the Sharks. Boucher proved his value as a veteran backup last season, but the Sharks really need to give their younger prospects a chance to prove themselves. Boucher is actually the younger of the two Sharks goalies by nearly a year and a half. The time for the Sharks to look to the future between the pipes is now. I think the Sharks need to let Boucher try the free agent market and have a three way battle in training camp between Taylor Dakers, Thomas Griess, and Tyson Sexsmith for the backup to Evgeni Nabokov.

As far as free agent signings, I really don't think that the Sharks need to do more than go after a third or fourth line vet and maybe a vet to use as an extra man on defence. The thing the Sharks really need to do is start giving their talented youngsters a chance to make the next step. Guys like Jamie McGinn, Logan Couture, Derek Joslin, and Ryan Vesce need more ice time now.

Be sure to check back this weekend as I break down the NHL Draft and analyze who the Sharks should go after.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

I've become what I most feared...

Back in the early days of the Internet, it was considered a status symbol to have a personal website. You needed to have a certain amount of technical knowledge in order to build even a basic site. Then the self-publishing sites came along and helped you out with examples of the HTML codes you would need, but it was still basically up to you to design it, or hire a tech geek to do it.

About this time, the popularity of the Internet really took off. Seemingly overnight, the 'net went from a plaything of geeks and tech savvy individuals to being the next big thing. It was about this time that I decided that I was never going to have a personal site. I wanted to be the last person on the planet without a personal site. I can still remember the day that I made this decision. I'm originally from Appleton, WI. A city of about 70,000 people, too big to be a small town and too small to be a big city. I was driving along one day and came to a stop behind an Appleton police car at a red light. Prominently splayed along the top of the rear window was a decal showing the website of the Appleton Police Department. That is when I decided that, if the Appleton PD felt they needed or wanted a website, I would refuse to have one.

I was able to fulfill that ambition until about two years ago. That's when I started this blog in it's original form. I never really considered it a personal site for two reasons. First, my writings had very little to do with my personal life. Second, what information about me was also limited. Even in it's current form, the amount of information about me is fairly limited.

Now, however, do to a new opportunity, I have just signed up for a Facebook account. I'm still not a huge fan of the social media trend. There seems to be a lot of 'look at me' personalities out there that you have to weed through if you want to find others to have conversations with.

Now I'm faced with the issue of becoming one of those 'look at me' people. I've never been that good at making a scene, nor do I feel the need to have everyone look at what I'm writing. Up until now, I wrote for the love of writing. Now, I have to write for the masses and get the masses to read that writing. Ought to be interesting...

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Freedoms and Rights - Where The Line Blurrs

Pardon my ranting, but I'm getting a little sick of people who, the moment they are offended by something, start screaming "that's unconstitutional!" when it's perfectly clear that they have, at best, a passing knowledge of the Constitution.

The worst of the offenders I touched on a bit in my last post. Any group who uses the words 'separation of church and state' are either grossly misinformed or have never read any part of the Constitution. Those words, in that order, do not exist in any version of the Constitution I have ever seen. It's just another example of liberals in this country taking words and twisting them to mean what they want them to mean. The fact that they are using the most sacred document in this country to push their agenda is way beyond despicable.

The problem is, how do you fight it and not come off looking like you are against the Constitution? From where I sit, it can't be done. So we just have to find other ways to discredit their twisted agendas.

This next group I'm a bit hesitant to call out. Not just because they, for the most part, fall on my side of the spectrum, but because some of them are a little too heavily armed for my safety. The second amendment, as written, is archaic at best. The idea of armed citizens making up a militia in an emergency has passed. The founders, I'm sure, didn't wish this to be used to protect a few nutcases in a cabin somewhere, armed more heavily than the armies of some small nations. Being a former hunter myself (former not by objection, but by lack of land), it's a bit hard to admit that our shotguns were not what the founders had in mind. I'm sure that if we took our time, we could rewrite it to make everyone, if not happy, then content. The tripping block there is how necessarily difficult it is to get the Constitution changed.

This next one is a bit tricky. We seem to be awash with people who insist that it is their right to not be offended by anything or anyone. On the surface, that flies in the face of the other person's first amendment rights. In practice, however, this is not that simple. Everyone agrees that there are certain things that cannot be covered by the first amendment. Screaming "Fire!" in a crowded public place, for example, is not protected by the first amendment. Where that line is, however, is the key issue with these arguments.

I'll leave the FCC's obscene arguments alone for now. That's a bigger grey area than I wish to tackle right now. Nobody has really been able to clearly define where free speech ends. What makes matters worse, that line appears to be moving as well. Just look at our TV over the past thirty or so years. What was considered taboo back in the early 70's isn't anymore. There are certain things, while not obscene, just weren't shown or talked about then that are now. One good example is for the longest time, you never saw a toilet on air. Not an obscene object, but just something nobody was comfortable seeing on TV.

That seems to be a microcosm of this argument. What may have been considered in bad taste or taboo before isn't anymore. Naming is the hardest thing to pin down. People are constantly being offended by labels placed on them. We used to have labels for people that were merely descriptive which are now considered offensive. You will get slapped with a lawsuit before you can even finish speaking if you say someone is a cripple. Even medically correct terms are not accepted anymore. Apparently we have solved the problem of dwarfism because I haven't heard anyone talk about a dwarf in years.

To avoid major issues, I'll touch on this last label quickly and a bit comically. From now on, I think when I wish to refer to someone's race by describing their skin color, I'm just going to use myself as a guide. Someone is like me, lighter than me, or darker than me.

So where is the line? I'm not really sure we can even find it anymore. It has been buried under a mountain of legal battles and politically correct speech that I don't think we will ever find it again. It's not for a lack of trying though. Check any newspaper in the country and I will bet that you will find at least one lawsuit per week that has this argument at it's core.

So where does that leave us? As our melting pot continues to be added to with more and more diverse ingredients it appears to me that a middle ground may be impossible to find.

Perhaps we don't need a middle ground. Maybe if we all just give a little ground, accept that not everyone thinks or acts like we do, take a little less offense at our differences, we can take this country from a land of petty bickering and return it to the great nation it can be.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Journey Part VI

Or, how I stopped worrying and learned to hate the left.

The Journey is chronicling my thoughts and feelings as I proceed down the path of spirituality. For a detailed explanation, see The Journey Part I

Ok, this post really doesn't have a whole lot to do with my personal spirituality, but it does have a lot to do with my attitudes towards the anti-religious element that is out there.

The page

I first came across the ad for this abomination about a week ago. Where is the outrage? If this would be an attack on any other religion, you would have to get in line to protest or denounce it. I'm beginning to learn and understand that Christians are more likely to not fight back against this kind of crap and that's why people keep doing it. What I don't understand is, if most religions teach peace and understanding, why do some other religions have militant wings? Where is the militant wing of Christianity?

The funny thing is, the left love to denounce repression and injustice throughout the world, but will be the first ones to praise and support this piece of crap as a pillar of free speech.

Why won't Christians stand up and fight against this kind of garbage? My guess is that there is a bit of embarrassment to this day over the crusades that were led by Christians over 1,000 years ago. They want to avoid anything that can look even remotely like a warlike stance on anything. Yes, the crusades were some of the most bloody and violent wars in the history of the world, but come on. It was a millenia ago. Things have changed in the world.

These whackjobs are found here

I guess the thing that bothers me most about these whackaloons, besides being from Madison, is how their biggest argument they bring out when something offends them is a total load of crap.

Recently, the group Americans United for Separation of Church and State sued the Elmbrook School District over their use of Elmbrook Church for their graduation ceremonies. The school and church have had an agreement for years and nobody had a problem. until one idiot recently felt uncomfortable attending a graduation ceremony in a church. I'm so glad that U.S. District Judge Charles Clevert ruled that the schools can use the church.

The argument these morons keep using is the separation of church and state. It's obvious to anyone who has read the first amendment that the Constitution says no such thing. It says that the government cannot establish a religion, sponsor a religion, nor prevent the free exercise of religion. Period. It does not say anything about keeping religion out of state offices, keeping state sponsored institutions (like schools) from using religious facilities, nor does it say that you cannot use state buildings (like schools) for religious gatherings. I guess it's sexier to be able to scream "unconstitutional!" every time you are offended by something.

Unfortunately, because I am still a long way from being able to call myself religious, I really do not have much of a leg to stand on. Still, I can point out what I see and hope that others who can yell louder than I can take up the torch. I believe that I will be there eventually, but I still need help.

Monday, June 1, 2009

A Summer of Low Expectations, how I have missed you

As we head into June, the first two months of the Major League Baseball season is in the books. As of today, my beloved Cubs are mired in fourth place at 25-24, four and a half games back of first. As hindsight is always 20/20, I really shouldn't be all that shocked the Cubs are where they are.

First, some of the offseason moves should have been an omen. First, I think the Cubs should not have given up of Felix Pie. Yes, I know they were basically out of options considering he has to clear waivers to head back to AAA but he should have been given the chance. I would much rather have Pie in left than the headcase Milton Bradley. Given a choice between two players with similar stats, I'll take the younger one every time.

Just a show of hands. Who misses Mark DeRosa right now? The run on injuries the Cubs just went through would have been easier to take had we had him on the bench. Yes, they have received some good play out of guys like Jake Fox, Micah Hoffpauir, and Bobby Scales, but none of them were really a good fit at third defensively.

The one that could come back to bite them in the future is the Joey Gathright for Ryan Freel deal. Giving up a solid prospect for an injured, disgruntled player reminds me of some of the strange moves of Cubs teams past.

It was a lot easier to be a Cubs fan when I was younger. You knew that in any given year that the season would be a success if they didn't lose 100 games. No postseason expectations, no hype, no agonizing over losing streaks. If they won, it was a great day. If they lost, it was easier to take because in a corner of your mind, you knew they were going to lose anyway.

All of these playoff appearances in the last several years have inflated expectations. You now know that they do have what it takes to make the playoffs, so now we have come to expect it. So when the Cubs make bad roster moves and then do not have quality players to get them through injury spells, this is what you get.

Oh well, it is kind of liberating knowing that I shouldn't expect that much this year. It will make the game on any given day more enjoyable, more so when they win.