A couple sports stories have caught my eye over the past couple of days.

I hope we’re living in a time where athletes are finding a political voice, using their position in society and culture to raise awareness and make a difference. Here’s an example of what I mean from one of my favorite pro athletes.

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A.J. Burnett has decided to opt out of his contract with the Blue Jays. First of all, can you imagine walking away from $24 million? I guess when some sucker is going to up that, it kind of makes sense. Or it makes me sick. I’m a firm non-believer in Mr. Burnett, and will argue the fact dude only pitched as well as he did last year because he know he could put himself in this position. He will be signed for more money, but I’d be willing to wager that he will never again see the kind of success that he had this year. Until his next contract year, health permitting.
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Capitals forward Alexander Semin [currently 2nd in points in the NHL] recently took a shot at NHL poster boy Sidney Crosby by saying the following:

What’s so special about [Sidney Crosby]? I don’t see anything special there. Yes, he does skate well, has a good head, good pass. But there’s nothing else. Even if you compare him to Patrick Kane from Chicago, [Kane] is a much more interesting player. The way he moves, his dekeing abilities, his thinking on the ice and his anticipation of the play are so superb.

I think that if you take any player, even if he is dead wood, and start promoting him, you’ll get a star. Especially if he scores 100 points. No one is going to care about anyone else. No one is going to care whether he possesses great skill. Let’s say you put someone in front of the net and let him deflect pucks in, and he scored 50 goals — everyone will say, ‘Wow!’ and then hand him a $10 million per year contract. That’s what they like here.

Interesting. Of course, there are potential issues of translation here, but whatever. To not see something special in Crosby is, to me, a joke. Yes he has been over promoted and there is a plethora of young marketable talent in the NHL, but Sid has won the MVP, Art Ross and been to the Finals. I think there might be something to the hype. I guess the point is that if Semin scores 50 goals and 100 points, the NHL should hold off on calling him a star and offering him a big contract. Oh, and any Canadian who is down on Sid [and for whatever reason there are a lot of them], I can’t wait until Vancouver when we’ll all love him when we win gold.

With this, and the alleged rivalry between Malkin and Ovechkin [a la Bure / Federov], let’s hope this makes for a sweet Pens/Caps rivalry for years to come.
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On a side note, Martin Brodeur got hurt the other day, and I had to replace him on my fantasy team with Alex Auld. Eek.

Can you tell I miss my North American sports?

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