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“New 7 Wonders of the World”

Everyone has heard of the “7 Wonders of the Ancient World”, well now there is a global vote to announce a “New 7 Wonders of the World“. Check out this link….which 7 of the 21 finalists gets your vote? There is only one of the original 7 still around today. The vote is actually harder then you might thing. In the end I came down to these 7:

Great Wall of China
Hagia Sophia
Machu Picchu
Taj Mahal

I left off the Eiffel Tower, which I think will probably end up as one of the 7 anyways.

Which 7 gets your vote?

Curiosities of Hockey History

May 23, 2007

By Damien Cox

You’re going to read a lot about the history of the Ottawa Senators this week as the team prepares for the return of the Stanley Cup final to the nation’s capital for the first time in 80 years.

Since the modern Senators are only 15 years old, however, it’s not quite waxing nostaligic.

It’s more about looking back and marvelling at how the Sens landed their franchise in the first place.

After becoming an NHL expansion team in 1990, the Ottawa Senators reached the Stanley Cup final in 2007.

And probably how they didn’t deserve to. I’ll never forget being there on Dec. 6, 1990 at the plush Breaker’s Hotel in West Palm Beach as then NHL president John Ziegler sat at a press conference with Bruce Firestone of Ottawa on one side and Phil Esposito of the successful Tampa bidder on the other, announcing the NHL’s two newest teams.

Esposito was all wisecracks and smiles, having somehow convinced the NHL board of governors to give him a team. The phlegmatic Firestone looked mostly surprised. Stunned, really, as he should have been. He knew he’d just pulled a fast one.

No one has ever proven anything, of course, but it’s reasonable to assume that the undying greed of the Maple Leafs – then owned by Harold Ballard – was largely responsible for helping Ottawa get a team, an intriguing happenstance given that the Sens have now managed to supercede the Leafs as the province’s top NHL team, at least in terms of on-ice achievements.

Back in August, 1990, Ottawa was one of 11 initial bidders for two NHL franchises during the final days of John Ziegler’s rather unimpressive run as NHL boss. The other bidders were Hamilton, Milwaukee, St. Petersburg, Tampa Bay, Houston, Miami, Orlando, Phoenix, San Diego and Seattle. Milwaukee – failed suitors for Pittsburgh this year – and Phoenix – which eventually landed the Winnipeg Jets – soon dropped out.

The St. Petersburg bid was backed by Peter Karmanos, who eventually got his mitts on the Hartford Whalers and moved them to Raleigh, with Jim Rutherford set to operate the hockey team. The Miami bid was fronted by John Henry, current owner of the Boston Red Sox.

Hamilton, however, became recognized as the front runner because it was the only city that came even close to meeting all the NHL’s “requirements” for a team, including an arena, a lease, 10,000 season tickets and a wealthy owner. Tim Hortons king Ron Joyce was the money man.

Ottawa brought a marching band to the final meeting in West Palm Beach, but didn’t have the money or an arena. Firestone headed Terrace Investments, and the bid for an NHL team was largely a cover for a multi-million dollar real estate play in Kanata.

The biggest problem for Hamilton was that it would have to pay indemnification fees to Toronto and Buffalo, but the NHL refused to allow negotiations on a figure before the franchises were awarded.

That left Joyce in a tough spot. Without being able to budget his total costs, he suggested to the NHL board that he would pay his $50 million franchise fee in pieces – $5 million that day, $25 million the next year and the rest over the following seven years.

That gave the NHL governors their out. They instead took the two bids that agreed to pay the $50 million up front, Ottawa and Tampa Bay, even though neither had the money nor would ultimately be able to adhere to the payment schedule. The NHL wanted to be in the Sunshine State, so clearly Ottawa got the nod ahead of Hamilton.

The Leafs, on the other hand, didn’t want Hamilton, just as more than a decade later they didn’t want Eugene Melnyk, the current owner of the Sens, to buy Maple Leaf Gardens as a home for his St. Mike’s Majors. The Leafs didn’t have to formally “block” Hamilton – every other NHL team knew going in what the deal was.

On the basis of quality and meeting the league’s criteria, the two winning bids should have been St. Petersburg, with Karmanos, and Hamilton. But they were denied. Screwed, really. Karmanos eventually got the Whalers, while Joyce for a time owned a piece of the Calgary Flames before getting out of the hockey business again.

Would Hamilton have been more successful than Ottawa or Tampa Bay? Certainly, Hamilton would have caused far fewer headaches for the league in the initial seven or eight years after expansion. That said, rising salaries in the late 1990s might well have driven Hamilton out of business, and it’s not clear whether the city would have been able to replace Copps Coliseum over time with the top quality rinks both Ottawa and Tampa enjoy today. Maybe yes, maybe no.

That said, desperation, both financially and competitively, forced both the Senators and Lightning to eventually work out their problems and succeed. In both cases, quality ownership eventually arrived, and economic uncertainty meant both had to work a little harder at putting a good team on the ice. Sinking so low in the standings, it’s also worth pointing out, allowed both teams to add good young players over time.

The fact that the Leafs have always been terrified of competition, on the other hand, is why they’ve been able to live such a cushy existence and have never faced the urgency to win in order to stay alive.

That’s a big part of the reason why the Leafs haven’t hosted a Stanley Cup final game in 40 years, while the Lightning already have a Cup and the Sens will be the home team for Game 3 of the 2007 Stanley Cup final in 10 days.


My views on the state of Pakistan Cricket

So this World Cup campaign went about as bad as it possibly could have. A lot of changes coming, some that were forced and some that are badly needed.

First of all most importantly hopefully the cowards involved in the Bob Woolmer murder are caught fast and dealt with. It is a major black eye for cricket and an even bigger one for Pakistan. I know I was in the minority as far as retaining Woolmer past the World Cup is concerned but he did do a lot for Pakistani cricket if you look at the big picture. Do people even remember where this team was 4 years ago? Say what you want about Woolmer and Inzi but this was a very steady time for Pakistani cricket. Despite all their criticisms you have seen the internal politics and fighting within the team disappear under their watch.

The problem with Pakistani Cricket to me is more the culture of the PCB then the players themselves. Sure Inzi’s captaincy in the past 6 months took a huge step back from the strides he had made in the year and a half before that but does anyone at PCB know what they are doing? Why the constant shuffling of the lineup? Why do the same useless players keep showing up the lineup when other young promising players are shuffled in and out for no obvious reason. What does Yasir Hameed have to do to earn a spot? Why has Imran Nazir been shrugged aside for so long? What more does Asim Kamal need to do to earn a spot in the test lineup? How many more chances is Rana Naved going to get? What is Kaneria’s role on the team?

So who is the next captain? The obvious front runner is Younis Khan, a man who probably should’ve been captain 2 years ago. Does he merit a guaranteed ODI spot at this time though? Do they go with seperate ODI and Test teams and captain? I wouldn’t be surprised though if Pakistan bypasses him altogether and goes another route as far as the captaincy is concerned. Shahid Afridi, Abdul Razzaq and Shoaib Malik are 3 names you definitely will hear. These 3 will be part of whatever future the Pakistan team has. Might as well get them groomed for 2011. The 3 are still relatively young but have played long enough where experience isn’t a problem. When all is said and done though you will probably see Younis Khan as the captain for now with one of the 3 as Vice Captain being groomed for 2011.

What will the Pakistani team look like when they next step onto the playing field? Does Younis Khan even make the ODI squad? I am going to go with an assumption of yes on that one for now as I don’t think they will go to that extreme.

1) Salman Butt
2) Imran Nazir
3) Yasir Hameed
4) Shoaib Malik
5) Younis Khan (Captain)
6) Shahid Afridi (Vice Captain)
7) Abdul Razzaq
8)Kamran Akmal/Zulqarnain Haider (WK)
9)Shoaib Akhtar
10) Umar Gul
11) Mohammed Asif

There are other guys who will be on the fringe. Mohammad Sami isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Yasir Arafat will see some playing time. Imran Farhat will be around as an opening option but is there room for all 3 of Farhat, Butt and Nazir in the lineup? I really don’t see room for Mohammad Yousuf in the ODI squad anymore. Sure he still has a few good years left in him….but is he a factor for 2011?

1) Salman Butt
2) Imran Farhat
3) Yasir Hameed/Mohammad Yousuf
4) Younis Khan (Captain)
5) Shoaib Malik
6) Shahid Afridi (Vice Captain)
7) Kamran Akmal/Zulqarnain Haiderr (WK)
8) Abdul Razzaq/Danish Kaneria
9)Shoaib Akhtar
10) Umar Gul
11) Mohammed Asif

We’ve had a good U-19 team the last few years….and I’d expect a few of those guys to make the transition to the team soon enough. There is definitely no lack of talent in Pakistan. The problem is harnessing that talent. Domestic cricket, while it has improved in the past couple of years still needs a lot of fixing.

Who’s going to coach this team? Rameez Raja laid out an intriguing plan today on Cricinfo.

White’s rock quarry could net pitcher billions

Wednesday, February 28, 2007
White’s rock quarry could net pitcher billions
Associated Press

VERO BEACH, Fla. — Matt White, a journeyman pitcher trying to make the Los Angeles Dodgers, could become baseball’s first billionaire player.

“It sounds bogus even saying those numbers. I’m just a small town guy trying to get to the big leagues. It’s beyond comprehension.”
— Matt White

It has nothing to do with his arm. He owns a rock quarry in western Massachusetts.

White, who has appeared in seven big league games in nine professional seasons, paid $50,000 three years ago to buy 50 acres of land from an elderly aunt who needed the money to pay for a nursing home.

While clearing out a couple acres to build a home, he discovered stone ledges in the ground, prompting him to have the property surveyed.

A geologist estimated there were 24 million tons of the stone on his land. The stone is being sold for upward of $100 per ton, meaning there’s well over $2 billion worth of material used for sidewalks, patios and the like.

Of course, that doesn’t factor in the expenses involved in processing the stone and transporting it for sale.

“It sounds bogus even saying those numbers,” White said. “I’m just a small town guy trying to get to the big leagues. It’s beyond comprehension.”

The news has prompted some of White’s teammates to refer to him as “The Billionaire,” but the 29-year-old left-hander isn’t counting his money just yet.

“There are a lot of questions,” he said. “It takes time, it takes money, it takes machines. There are professionals who handle that stuff.”

White’s father has been involved in selling the stone, but it’s presently a small-time operation.

“I guess you could say the property is for sale,” White said with a chuckle. “We’ll have to see how things turn out. I don’t even know where to start. I’m in the process now of getting in touch with business-savvy guys, finding out how much to ask.”

White said he doesn’t feel like he’s wealthy, which he isn’t quite yet.

“Not at all. I don’t live like a rich man,” he said. “I’m a minor league guy who’s played winter ball to make ends meet.”

Dr. Peter Pannish, an adjunct professor in the department of geosciences at the University of Massachusetts, surveyed the property several months ago. He said he believes the stone was formed about 400 million years ago.

“It’s basically a slabby rock that can be used for sidewalks, building faces and stone walls,” Pannish said from his Amherst, Mass., office. “You can use it for a lot of other things, like flagstone on a patio. There are some sidewalks right here on campus that are made of that same rock.”

Pannish said he believes White could sell his property for several million dollars, or more.

“As far as hundreds of millions, I doubt if that’s possible because of all the expenses that would have to be considered,” Pannish said. “But it could be quite a bit of money. He probably needs a mining engineer or an economic geologist to come up with a good evaluation.”

White has received inquiries about making national television appearances, and has even been contacted about a possible movie. He is represented by Herbie Zucker of Zucker Sports Management in Chicago.

But for now, White is concentrating on his day job. And that’s no surprise, considering pitching in the big leagues has been a lifelong dream.

“They say lefties bloom later than righties. I keep telling myself that,” he said. “I’m here to make the big-league team. I feel confident about that, absolutely. I’ve had some pretty good years in Triple-A.

“I plan to play baseball until I can’t play anymore. My goal is to play in the big leagues, regardless of what happens with the rock quarry.”

White signed a minor league contract last December with the Dodgers — his eighth organization. He has appeared in 254 minor league games, 136 of them starts.

White pitched in three games each for Boston and Seattle in 2003, and one for Washington in 2005, going 0-2 and allowing 18 earned runs in 9 2/3 innings.

The Boston manager in 2003 was current Dodgers skipper Grady Little.

“The kid has a genuine love for the game,” Little said. “He’s quite a competitor, he’s always striving to get better. It’s not about money for him. He’s prepared himself well coming into camp and he’ll be going after somebody’s job. He’ll be given an opportunity.

“It’s a tough hill to climb. We have 28 pitchers in camp, we’ll leave spring training with 11 or 12. Before it’s over, we might need 20. He’s in there trying to get a job.”

With that, Little smiled and said: “Along the way, if anybody needs landscaping stone, we know where to find it.”


Pretty good return on investment.

Gammons:Zito never misses a beat

Zito never misses a beat

posted: Friday, December 29, 2006 | Print Entry
filed under: San Francisco Giants

The first time I saw Barry Zito was in Bourne, Mass., in 1997. He was going into his junior year, transferring from junior college to USC, but he’d been drafted by the Texas Rangers in the third round and was asking for $300,000 to sign.

He was brilliant, but a scout from the Rangers kept telling those around him that Zito’s gun readings didn’t merit $300,000. “But hitters are swinging and missing at all three of his pitches,” I offered, and was told that Zito didn’t throw hard enough to get $300,000.

So much for gun readings, and the old argument that eyes tell more than what hitters do and don’t do against a pitcher. Zito went to USC, and in June 1999 was taken with the ninth pick in the nation because Billy Beane had the guts and brains to choose players based on performance. Some 16 months later, Zito beat the Yankees in the ALDS. The following October, Derek Jeter‘s unforgettable relay nailed Jeremy Giambi at the plate to cost Zito a 1-0, eight-inning, two-hit loss to Mike Mussina, and the next year he was the Cy Young Award winner.

Understand that while Zito surfs, plays guitar with John Mayer, does yoga and has the mussed hair of a rock star, former teammate Scott Hatteberg called him “the biggest nerd in America.” Look, it takes Zito an hour or two to make that hair look uncombed.

He’s a baseball freak. He went to every baseball camp and school he could find as a kid, and his father even tried to hire Rick Peterson as a private coach when he was 17. For his six full years in the major leagues, he leads all pitchers in games started because he loves the game. In those six full years, he is third in innings and fourth in wins because he is the model of responsibility and accountability. He prepares diligently each winter for the next season and takes the four days between starts as if he were cramming for a physics final.

That is why Scott Boras was able to get him seven years and $126 million. “He’s only 28,” says Giants owner Peter Magowan, “and he doesn’t miss a start. That stands for something.”

As we should all celebrate the elections of Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn to the Hall of Fame for their reliability, so Zito should have folks tipping their caps to him. Are there concerns? Of course. Seven years, $126M? Zito’s hits per nine innings have increased from 6.2 to 8.6 since he was a rookie, and where his 2000-2002 ERA was 3.04, it was up to 4.05 the last three years.

But now Zito is out of the American League, and will be on a team that plays more than 100 games in San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego, all great pitchers’ parks. Where from 1993 through 2003 the Giants had the third-best record in the game after the Yankees and Braves, they have had two straight losing seasons and had to reconstruct; Magowan knows that Zito will be the face of the franchise this winter — and that face is familiar to everyone in the Bay Area.

Zito’s work and personal relationships with other young pitchers in Oakland make the Giants believe that he will be immensely helpful to the new generation of San Francisco arms: Matt Cain, Noah Lowry and Jonathan Sanchez. “We believe,” says Magowan, “that with Barry, we can compete in the National League West. He makes that much of a difference.”

The Giants also need Barry Bonds, reportedly on a very tough workout regimen, to be as healthy as he appears. While the government tries to nail Bonds on perjury charges, the feeling throughout baseball is that lawyers will tie up the 2003 test results in court long enough that Bonds or anyone else would not be indicted before the season, and once the season opens that no indictment would keep someone from playing out the season.

Is Zito worth $126M to the Giants? Who knows. Every time a Daisuke Matsuzaka, Gil Meche, Vicente Padilla or anyone else signs, we hear the gnashing of teeth.

The easy thing is to criticize someone else’s decision. Ten years ago, Barry Zito wasn’t worth $300,000.

This is from Peter Gammons. Say what you want about this contract but given the money that has been dished out the last 2 offseasons….Zito’s money is well worth it.