Manny being Manny

Well look who’s on his way back into the big leagues, if it isn’t Manny Ramirez.

The love-to-hate long haired Manny with a smile that goes for miles, retired from baseball last season in Tampa immediately after testing positive for PED’s for the third time. The once notorious slugger has signed a minor league deal with the Oakland Athletics for $500,000, just enough to fund this years’ prescriptions. Just kidding.

Now pushing 40, Ramirez won’t be playing until the end of May when he serves 50 games for the hiccup. When it comes to this years performance, your guess is as good as mine. Last season the DH went 1-for-17 before being busted, a long ways from the once feared slugger. With 555 career homers, this bad boy may just provide the veteran presence in the clubhouse to players like outfielder Yoenis Cespedes and second baseman Jemile Weeks.

In a tough AL West, the A’s are going to need all they can get. At $500,000 his financial risk is minor - way less risky than the $2.02 million the Rays gambled on. Despite Ramirez’s lack of swing accuracy of late, his personality and celebrity name tag should bring in a crowd for Manager Billy Bean and the boys. The talented Yoenis also expressed interest in playing with the 12-time All-Star, so give the kid what he wants. He is possibly Oakland’s brightest talent, so pairing him up with one of his idols can’t hurt. If Manny can get a couple good swings in while being a good ambassador of baseball, he could be potential trade bait for another city in need of a circus.

Last year the A’s had a disastrous time scoring runs ranking 12th among the 14 teams in the AL. Not to say Manny is going to help them get out of that slump, that’s up to each individual on the team to provide run support. But he will bring in the laughs, media attention, great career stats (which I hear Mr. Bean is a fan of), bobblehead night and possible controversy in what will be his 20th season.

Last time I checked, the A’s were all about the moneyball. Some might argue Manny's glory days are behind him and he probably won't be able to perform without 'help'. Unless Manny decides to be Manny again and shoot for the substance, this half mil move is still a bargain and may prove to be a home run.


The Sharks have Wings

It's Presidents Day in the USA and for our matinee Sunday entertainment, the San Jose Sharks will try to put a puncture in the Red Wings winning streak.

Let’s give it up for Detroit, who if you haven’t yet heard are on a 22-game home winning streak at the Joe. It’s an amazing feat no doubt; it’s never been done before. The Wings are also riding a five-game winning wave, but today in that sea of red it may just be the Sharks swimming away with the W.

The Sharks have lost back-to-back 1 goal games while the Phoenix Coyotes, hot on their Pacific division lead have cut the margin down to just 2 points. This is a big game for the Sharks, who despite seven straight trips to the post season have yet to make it to the Finals, a familiar sad ending to usually high beginnings.

Antti Niemi has been stellar against the Wings, a big reason the Sharks lead the series 2-0. He’s stopped 70 of 74 pucks fired at him, and is looking for a confidence boost after a 6-5 loss to Tampa Bay, where he was only tested with 25 shots.

Speaking of Tampa, the Sharks did some dealing with the Lightning acquiring center Dominic Moore and a seventh round draft pick this year for a second round draft pick next year. Solid move for the Sharks, who often seem to be lacking the cog that screws everything together in time for playoffs. Often underrated, Moore has played for a slew of teams over his career, SJ being his ninth "home". Things are looking bright as he brings the playoff skill the Sharks require to stay strong late in the year. Moore has 37 games of experience over the last 3 seasons with the Lightning and Habs, both teams if you can remember made excellent runs with Domi by their side. From his perspective it can’t be too hard to move to the West coast; sunny beaches, beautiful women and of course, a great hockey team with 'playoffs' written all over it.

This year the Sharks have wings and will probably have to go through Detroit a couple more times to prove it. Detroit’s not going anywhere fast though; where it stands they’re on pace to lift the President’s Cup, a small token of regular season greatness. Fortunately the Sharks are familiar with regular season success and don’t need to glorify it, they’re just out for good ol' glory.


Rivalry Renewed

It’s Mats Sundin night at the Air Canada Centre tonight as the Toronto Maple Leafs welcome the Montreal Canadiens to town.

There is plenty on the line as these two teams renew their hate/hate rivalry on Saturday night. Once the #13 jersey of Sundin is raised and the puck drops the Leafs will need to use the momentum of an upbeat crowd to slow down the surging Habs. Toronto has dropped their past two games, both one goal deficits, while Montreal will be going for their fourth straight win.

The Buds are clinging to the eighth and final spot in the Eastern Conference, just one point ahead of the Washington Capitals. Les Habitants are sitting near the bottom of the basement and would love another two point piece of the twelve point pie between these archrivals. Toronto leads the season series 2-1.

James Reimer will get the call between the pipes for the Leafs while the Habs will counter with Carey Price. Price has been a key cog in the three game streak, picking up all three victories while allowing just four goals. Most nights Carey needs to stand on his head to have his team pull out a victory. There should be plenty on rubber fired his way tonight making him a sneaky play.

The Leafs are getting all their offence from the top two lines, Phil Kessel(60) and Joffrey Lupul(58) lead the way in the scoring department, their success together this season has them sitting fourth and fifth respectively in league scoring. Tyler Bozak centers the two and has found himself on the score sheet in recent outings. All three have four game points streaks intact, which makes them all very viable options heading into tonight’s contest.

Mikhail Grabovski must like it Toronto playing in the center of the Hockey Universe; since his name has come up in trade talks he’s been the Leafs best forward. Before the Leafs two game hiccup where he went pointless, Grabo had pilled up twelve points in the six previous games. His line mates seem to struggle on consistency but….I’d roll him with confidence, especially against his former team.

Montreal has found a hard time creating offense this season; they traded away their best player when they shipped Mike Cammalleri to the Calgary Flames for Rene Bourque. They have just four players who have surpassed the 25 point mark this season. With that being said if you're looking for a producer look no further than Max Pacioretty. The former first round pick leads the team in goals with 22 and points with 41. Plus he is coming off a hat trick in his last contest, a 4-2 win over the New York Islanders on Thursday.

If you like to roll the dice, and are one of those ‘I like to be different kind’ of people, here are a couple names that might intrigue you.

Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner has been to talk of town the past few weeks, bumped around from the big boys club to the Marlies at the beginning of the season, he has really come on strong and could be Toronto’s best defenseman. He has tremendous skating ability, great vision and has found the confidence to utilizing these skills, resulting in plenty of scoring chances for him and his mates. His ice time has increased and so has his point production, he has compiled 7 points in his last 10 games. Gardiner also is not afraid to get between the net and the puck, picking up multiple block games in three of the last four outings. Overall this kid can be a solid play if you’re willing to gamble.

Mighty Mouse David Desharnais has been a pleasant surprise this season for Montreal. He leads the team in assists with 27 while picking up 37 points which is good for fourth on the team. The 5 foot 7 center has gained the trust of the coaching staff and has not disappointed. He could be good for some points and face off wins, again if you like to roll the dice.

There would be nothing sweeter to the Canadiens and the city of Montreal than to march into Toronto, scoop up another two points and spoil ‘Mats Sundin night’, all while evening the season series and exploding Leafs Nation with a three game slide.

It never really seems to matter what’s at stake or where they sit in the standings, when these two teams clash, just like an NFL divisional game, you just never know.

Captain- Phil Kessel
Joffrey Lupul
Mikeal Grabovski
Tyler Bozak
C - Max Pacioretty
PK Subban

Honourable maybe’s:
Dion Phaneuf
Eric Cole
David Desharnais
Jake Gardiner
Carey Price


Super Duper Bowl

One day when I am a silver haired senior rocking in my massage chair, I will tell stories to my technologically profound yet intellectually inept grandchildren about Super Bowl XLVI. Giants vs. Patriots: The Sequel. It was an epic night for sports and entertainment, as the two genres made 'luv' on the field in Indy, and produced a made-for-the-movies baby.

From start to finish it was everything I could ever ask for in a Final Showdown; Drama, suspense, action, injury and of course, a Hail Mary. And not to mention the supporting cast - a true team effort. Not just about Eli, not just about Tom, and definitely nothing to do with Peyton. The intermission excitement, which included the legendary Madonna, was a true experience for music connoisseurs. Not only did she show her team spirit with her futuristic cheerleader beats and vanishing field, she also took us back to the past ending the halftime act with her classic ‘Like A Prayer’, which was awesome.

Who would have thought that managing the time clock would be the ultimate factor of the game. With Eli off to a scorching start, the Giants controlled the field early. Queue the injuries to their quality tight ends, that could have thrown a big wrench in New York’s plans. Now queue Tom Brady closing the half with a touchdown to take the lead, and starting the 3rd quarter with another score. Magic in the making. When NY burned two of their time outs with nine minutes to go in the game, I felt sick because it began to seem like the few mistakes that were taking place were going to be the most costly.

What Eli and the Giants managed to do, however, on their last drive of the year was equally impressive, if not better than the climax from the original matchup 4 years ago. But was it the climax? No. Giving Tom Brady a full minute to win the game was definitely the heart pounder. And boy did this climax peak. With two dropped passes and a delicious Justin Tuck sack, it was all down to the Hail Mary. In what felt like slow motion, (11 hours according to Osi) the Lombardi trophy came spiralling into the Patriots end zone, perfectly thrown by its creator, and just half a step too late for his cameo was Mr. Rob Gronkowski. His solo contributions throughout the Pats regular season were by far the most valuable, so watching the trophy touch the ground and shatter into a million little pieces must have been the worst.

I will always go on about this game because it was beautiful and shiny and culturally inspiring. It makes me feel so privileged to witness talent displayed by the likes of Brady, Manningham, Madonna, Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks. It was a close call between Eli and Tuck, but with love like the Giants it’s no biggie Eli took down the MVP of the game. We are a lucky bunch to have watched SB XLVI, because as time goes on and technology advances, athleticism will be always be remembered and admired.


Manning Enough?

Eli has been second to his big brother Peyton on almost every level of competition, including socially, for a very long time, but come Super Bowl Sunday baby bro can finally one-up the Field General (on his turf) and possibly make an argument as to who really is the better Manning.

This challenge however, can only be trumped by the Mannings’arch nemesis; the Golden Boy aka Tom Brady and his squad of quick catching Patriots. They’ve been out for revenge ever since the Giants crushed their undefeated Super Bowl run four seasons ago. Since this year’s Lombardi Trophy winner is about as clear as my Toronto tap water, I’m going to stick with my initial bro vs. bro debate and wait for the water to settle.

Peyton Manning, prized son of former Saint Archie Manning is no doubt the beloved jewel in his family’s crest. The NFL’s most valuable player, having won the honour four times, has a plethora of accomplishments that seem unthinkable to the simple human being. Fastest to 50,000 yards? Check. Fastest to 4,000 completions? Check. How about 4,000 yard seasons? Check times 11. The man’s got more hardware than Home Hardware. The thing is, in the regular season Peyton can hardly be beat. Come the playoffs and his track record goes from proven to possible liability. The defense is always comin for ‘em; A big reason he and baby bro are tied with one glorious ring a piece.

Eli Manning is quite possibly the league’s most bullied quarterback. But this guy sure can take a hit! The youngest of three boys, I’m sure Eli’s had his fair share of unfair treatment. But look what it has turned him into – a tough, rugged Big Apple star. Growing up in the shadows is never easy, but carving a name for yourself is even harder. Despite a worst ranked defense in the regular season the Giants have transformed themselves into shutdown monsters all while Eli has hit his stride on route to Lucas Oil. The best part about Eli Manning is his ability to work in a tight situation and get the job done. I feel he’s done a better job in fewer must-wins than Peyton, which says a lot about a quarterback.

Peyton Manning wouldn’t be as beloved if it weren’t for his outlandish sense of humour. Some athletes are so talented they refuse to acknowledge their fans in a respectful way. P Mann is one of the few celebrities that can make fun of themselves without having it be a professional distraction. Eli on the other hand would rather be a deer in the headlights if it saves him from having to talk for too long. Eli is no match in this popularity contest but he seems fine with it.

Should the Giants win this weekend, I don’t think it would officially coin Eli as the greater Manning. If anything it will distinguish their family name even further as a clan of elite ball players. Should they lose, I figure the real question will be how much more do they hate Brady now?

To Gronk or not to Gronk? Super Bowl, baby!

The Captain Morgan Playoff Challenge continues and below is Sunday’s Super Bowl preview brought to you by InGamer co-Founder and fantasy sports expert Nic Sulsky. Enjoy the read and come try the coolest new sports game around at


So here we are. The biggest game of the year. I’m not going to waste words hyping the match-up. If you’re reading this, you are undoubtedly in the Super Bowl ‘know’, so to speak.

NOTE: There is a grand prize for this game AND a prize ‘just’ for your 4th quarter score. So, even if you’re seemingly out of it by the 3rd quarter, you still have a shot at a prize!!!

Here’s some fun before i break into InGaming previews.

Player(s) most likely to be the next:

Timmy Smith (SB XXII): Danny Woodhead
Harvey Martin / Randy White (SB XII): Jason Pierre-Paul & Osi Umenyiora
Larry Brown (SB XXX): Corey Webster
Rod Martin (SB XV): Brandon Spikes
Eli Manning (SB XLII): Eli Manning

OK, that last one doesn’t really fit as a lesser known Super Bowl star (no disrespect to Randy White), but i couldn’t resist subtly referencing my pick for Super Bowl winner & MVP.

The best 4th Quarter QB in the NFL will come up big on Sunday. Eli has been playing out of his mind, and he can owe a lot of that credit to his talented & explosive trio of wideouts. Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz and Mario Manningham have finally given Eli some downfield weapons to exploit. The Patriots strength is their secondary, so Eli and Co. will be in for a long day. Oh wait, reverse that thought. Forget about how the Giants will deal with the Pats big 3, the Giants air attack is going to be the story of the game. But, big ‘but’, i still wouldn’t Captain Eli for your squad. My captain pick will come later, but Eli will force an early pass resulting in an INT. I would hold off on playing Eli till the 2nd Quarter, and make sure he’s on your team in the 4th when he leads the Giants for a game winning score in the final minutes of the game.

The Giants will try and establish the run, but the Pats have been playing excellent run defense of late. With Brandon Spikes returning from injury, Jerod Mayo getting his legs under him and Vince Willfolk establishing himself as perhaps the best NT of all-time, the Pats run D will not allow either Ahmad Bradshaw or Brandon Jacobs the room to run wild. Look for Bradshaw to catch some passes in the flat, but i wouldn’t expect monster games from either of them.

All three Giants wr’s will have value, but it’s Nicks who i think will have the biggest day. His size will be way too much for the Patriots to handle and, up until last week’s 10 catch performance, Victor Cruz has been having a relatively ‘quiet’ post season. I actually think a fringe player like TE Travis Beckum or FB Harry Hynoski will find the endzone in this game. But, good luck guessing the quarter that happens in.

On the defensive side of the ball, look for FS Patrick Chung to have a busy day. Pay attention in the 1st quarter to whom the Pats line up versus Hakeem Nicks. It will most likely be Devin McCourty, so he will need to make a lot of tackles and will have the opportunity to come up with a big INT (which is an InGamer game-changer as well!). LBs Spikes, Ninkovich and Mayo will all show up with points, but i think Spikes is the guy who could make the big play or two.

For the Patriots offense, i give you the InGamer take on the story dominating the Super Bowl: To Gronk or not to Gronk? I’ll tell you one thing, I wouldn’t captain him. I think he makes a decent start, but Brady throws to the open receiver, and no one knows whether Gronk will be able to push off his ankle and get separation. In the red zone he will still be a viable target, but i think his TE partner Aaron Hernandez is in for the bigger day. Belichik has been lining him up all over the field, figuring out ways to exploit his size and speed. Wes Welker will get a ton of looks and likely end up with 6+ catches, but i have a hunch (total hunch) that Danny Woodhead could end up as the 2nd most valuable Patriot offensive player. Yes, BenJarvus Green-Ellis hasn’t fumbled in 100 years, but he is not explosive. With the Pats likely going no-huddle most of this game, it’s Woodhead’s versatility that makes him a more intriguing play for us InGamers. Oh, and there’s this QB named Tom Brady you’ll need to think about starting. But you should think about it...he has been turning the ball over lately and the Giants do know how to beat him.

The Giants D-line is sick, but the Patriots have the depth and experience to at least slow them down. That being said, this is the big stage that Jason Pierre-Paul will use to become a superstar. He is a must start in my books. Osi and Justin Tuck also have the potential to make some big plays, but it’s JPP that will shine for the Giants D. Michael Boley has the athleticism to cover one of the Pats TE’s (which one is the question) and he will make a bunch of tackles. Antrel Rolle is a playmaker and will be called on to make a bunch of them in this game. I think he and Corey Webster will play key roles on Sunday and are both very start-able...especially if you’re a gambler who wants to bet on gaining some valuable INT points.

As always kickers are the safe, but not sexy, InGamer picks and this game is no different. I think starting at least one kicker is a good strategy in this game, but you won’t win the admiration of the community by playing it safe! Nonetheless, remember that with player change potential, you can make strategic kicker changes if a team ends a quarter in FG range while facing a 3rd or 4th down.

SNEAKY PLAY ALERT: Julian Edelman. He gets kick return yards, tackle points (he play DB in Nickel/Dime packages) and may get some looks on offense.

My Starting 6:
Captain: Hakeem Nicks - WR, NYG
Lawrence Tynes - K, NYG
Wes Welker - WR, NE
Jason Pierre-Paul - DL, NYG
Aaron Hernandez - TE, NE
Michael Boley - LB, NYG

Keep an eye on: Tom Brady/Eli Manning (i know what you’re thinking, but I’m nervous about the 1st quarter for both QBs), Patrick Chung , Rob Gronkowski, Danny Woodhead

Good Luck Everyone and see you in the big game!!
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