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Saturday, May 7, 2011

There's a fight tonight?

The Boston Bruins exacted some payback for last year's 3-0 collapse to Philadelphia by getting to the same position and then closing the Flyers out last night with a 5-1 win.  Can't recall so many series being so one-sided in the NHL's second round.  The Detroit Red Wings lived to fight another day after their 4-3 win over San Jose last night, a game in which they almost coughed up a 3-0 lead.  Vancouver heads home tonight to try to close out the Nashville Predators.

Somehow, LeBron James thinks that the Miami Heat's recent run of form has people hopping on their bandwagon.  A rather quick and unscientific survey of some hoops fans last night tells me he couldn't be more wrong, they're as hated as ever, if not more.  Of course, it was almost a year ago that LeBron thought taking to ESPN for "The Decision" was a smart play, too.

Nice knowing you, LA Lakers of 2011.  And Ron Artest drives a Hyundai A solid reason to hate the man because I freaking hate Hyundai's - worst drivers on the road.  And speaking of the NBA playoffs, Bill Simmons looks at this year's playoffs using quotes from The Wire, one of the best shows of all time if the hype is believed, though I've only seen the first four episodes (which were awesome).

Hard to believe, but arguably the biggest name in boxing today - Manny Pacquiao - is fighting "Sugar" Shane Mosely and it barely registers with the general public, or at least it seems that way to me.  There's almost zero chance the PacMan loses this one, so maybe that is it?  Having been in Vegas for his last fight though, I'd bet heavy the whole city is watching.

In the English Premier League, all eyes are on tomorrow's visit to Old Trafford in Manchester tomorrow at 11am where Chelsea visit United.  A United win all but clinches the championship, but even a draw has United firmly in the drivers seat with two very winnable games left.  A loss, and things could well go down to goal differential.  I'm saying United win, despite Chelsea skipper John Terry saying Chelsea are confident of victory. Conspiracy theorists from the Chelsea side will have their tin foil hats on with the choice of Howard Webb, sometimes called a Wholly Owned Subsidiary of Manchester United, as the match official.

UFC ring girl Arianny Celeste hit the beach in Miami this week.  Cameras were happy.

Toronto FC host Houston Dynamo tonight.  Optimism does not abound.  Kickoff is 7pm on GolTV.

There's a documentary of Auggie Garrido, the manager of Texas (University of) in which he shows new and incredible ways to light into a team.  So worth your five minutes and change.

Inning By Inning: A Portrait of a Coach by sportsxbrooks

If Cleveland Indian Shin-Soo Choo is saying that he wasn't drunk, the police video sure suggests otherwise.

Friday, May 6, 2011

A late Friday beats no Friday edition

With most of the NHL's series at the brink of conclusion, or concluded already, please tell me they're not going to hold off until next weekend or something to get the conference finals on the go, are they?  Nothing worse than a momentum killing four or five days off, other than hockey in June when it just might actually be warm and sunny in Canada by then.

I've long been in favor of adding more wild-card teams for baseball's playoffs to keep more teams in the mix, and alleviate the "Yankees and Sox Problem" that is in the AL East, and you could argue the NL East as well, and it looks like it will actually happen for next year. Here's a look at what the format might look like, along with potential impact.  Joel Sherman at the New York Post says the wild card teams should play best of three, and not a single game knockout.  Agreed, especially when you hear the next team after the Wild Card in the AL, for example, has trailed between five and eight games in each of the last five seasons.  Not all players are in love with the expanded playoffs idea, most notably Mark Texeira, and most nuclearly, Tim Lincecum who dropped this great quote: "Nobody wants to have to worry, 'Oh [expletive], now I've got another [expletive] team in the [expletive] mix. Now we have to worry about what that takes and what they're going to do.' What if the [second] wild-card team is not deserving of getting in?"  That said, I would have preferred they go back to a single table set-up and balance the schedule to truly make things fair, but that looks like a pipe dream.

New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez hasn't won a Gold Glove since 2003, but he's made only 7 errors since start of 2010 (148 games). None this season, which, of course, means he's got one coming tonight.

Two teams in the running to move to Toronto: Jacksonville Jags, and the New Orleans Saints, which would be criminal.

After wasting year's and millions on the pursuit of Barry Bonds to convict him for steroid usage and lying about it, the U.S. government has actually decided to redeem itself by righting a more offensive wrong: why there is no playoffs in NCAA football.

If you know me at all, you know I'm a fan of the t-shirt, particularly funny ones.  Here are thirty that might be objectionable to some.

Back tomorrow, and I'll save the Maxim Hot 100 discussion for Monday when more are typically on.

This is one way to remind your Montreal Canadiens loving boss that your Boston Bruins bounced them from the playoffs.  The culprit is Kelly Park, son of former Bruin Brad ParkMore on the prank here.
RM returns mid-afternoon.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Busy brooms

Manchester United put on a mostly reserve lineup and were still good enough to hammer Schalke 4-1 in the home leg of the Champions League semi-final, setting up a final rematch against 2009 opponent and champion Barcelona.  Barca's Xavi says United are the favs to win.  Not sure I agree with him.

If you like series that run deep, and the NHL had several in the opening round, the second round is setting up as the polar opposite.  The Tampa Bay Lightning continued their roll last night and finished off the Washington Capitals 5-3 last night for a 4-0 series sweep.  The San Jose Sharks have the Detroit Red Wings on the brink after a 4-3 overtime win to push that lead to 3-0, while the Philadelphia Flyers have the Boston Bruins right where they want them after losing 5-1 to give the Bruins a 3-0 series lead.  At least the Vancouver/Nashville set has seen both teams win.

In the NBA, the likelihood of coming back while trailing series' even 2-0 isn't great, as only 14 teams have come back from 0-2 while 224 haven't. Of those fourteen, only three have come back from 0-2 going on the road, so doesn't exactly bode well for the LA Lakers who dropped both games at home to the Dallas Mavericks.

It's May 5th and the Pittsburgh Pirates now have 64% of their 2010 road win total already in the bag.  Mark them down with Kansas City as a team that has a load of young talent coming due.

San Francisco Giant Tim Lincecum is 26-years old, and last night's 12 K performance was already the 29th 10+ strikeout game of his career, which already gives him more than Vida Blue, Juan Marichal, Jack "should be in the Hall of Fame" Morris, Fernando Valenzuela and Ron Guidry.

Well, at least we know Toronto FC is better than FC EdmontonTFC completed their semi-final win in the Canadian Championships with a 1-0 home win to make it 4-0 on aggregate.  They'll now face the Vancouver Whitecaps in the final later this month.

Not all no-hitters are created equal, but some end up being pretty damn similar.  In his no-hitter Tuesday, Minnesota Twin Francisco Liriano beat Chicago White Sock Edwin Jackson, who threw a no-hitter last season. Both won 1-0 starts, and walked more hitters than they struck out. The strike percentage was also similar, 53.7% and 53%, the called strike totals were the same (24), and Jackson went to 13 three-ball counts, Liriano 11.  Now to see if Liriano gets traded the same season as he tossed the no-hitter the same way Jackson did when Arizona moved him.

Now that the NFL draft is out of the way, here are the latest Super Bowl odds from Bodog: Green Bay, New England 7/1, Pittsburgh 11/1, San Diego 12/1, Baltimore 14/1, NY Jets 14/1, New Orleans Saints, Indianapolis, Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Dallas 16/1.  I'd feel pretty comfortable in the value on the Jets, New Orleans, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Dallas.  I also wouldn't bet Indy at 50-1.

Geoff Baker at the Seattle Times says that Mariners starter Felix Hernandez won't be moved this year, but that next year, all bets are off.  As great as he is, I'm not sure why the Mariners don't search out their own Herschel Walker equivalent and take somebody's best young talent and move them west.  Not like they're close now.

The MLB draft in June is a giant one for the Tampa Bay Rays. With 12 of the first 89 picks, and they've drafted as well as anybody lately, they've got a chance to set themselves up for a real nice run.

SpikeTV's Holy Grail of Hot has Mila Kunis up against Minka Kelly.  Me, I'm a Mila guy.  Get your vote in on that, and more.

I get that leagues aspire to be like the NFL - minus the lockout part - but the NHL is following along with the other downside of the No Fun League in cracking down on the Green Men in Vancouver, who have provided a nice element of fresh aside from the tired "Go (insert team name) Go!" chants that fill every other NHL arena.  CBC's Glenn Healy is getting all sour over them, too, and made the mistake of saying if they did that in Toronto they'd be escorted from the building.  Kinda the point, isn't it Glenn?  And at least be smart enough to know that the west doesn't care a lick about what Toronto does or thinks.  Here they are at work.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Real Whiners

Very classy of Xabi Alonso and Cristiano Ronaldo to go to the tired whining about officiating to explain their Champions League semi-final elimination.  Now, I agree with Alonso in thinking the refs screwed up one goal by calling it back, but even a 2-1 win yesterday wouldn't have seen them through.  Ronaldo's comments were even more explosive, including this gem: "whoever knows anything about football knows that Barcelona get preferential treatment."  Come on CR, quit channeling your countryman and manager Jose Mourinho, you're better than that. Funny, I don't recall them complaining of conspiracies when they won the Copa del Ray a few weeks back over Barcelona, or when Barca crushed them 5-0 this season.  Barcelona will now move to the finals on May 28th.

Manchester United have a tightrope to walk today in their home leg against Schalke.  Yes, they hold a 2-0 aggregate lead, but they're also trying to rest some stars ahead of a huge, EPL-crown-on-the-line-potentially matchup with Chelsea this Sunday (get Setanta for a day if you need!).  Still can't see United not making the finals.  Too much experience, and word is they're playing their starting defenders so that ought to keep the back firmed up.

I don't understand how when the Washington Capitals, down 3-0 in their series after last night's 4-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the "Alex Ovechkin can't win" train fires up.  A little simple research will tell you that Ovechkin has won at every level but the NHL and just because he hasn't, doesn't mean he can't or won't.  That, and the Hall of Fame is littered with guys that have never sniffed the Stanley Cup.  No singular talent has ever won a Cup alone, or Wayne Gretzky would have kept on winning when he left Edmonton. Horribly weak argument.

11 periods and 9 goals in the Vancouver and Nashville series, now led by the Canucks.  To call it tight is pretty obvious.  Shea Webber must be thrilled that Osama bin Laden got bumped off, as with enough of a tan and a little dialysis, he might be a body double with that beard soon.

Shin-Soo Choo is the second Cleveland Indian to be clipped on a drunk driving charge.  Choo blew a .20, and as impressively, stopped to ask the arresting officer earlier in the evening for directions.  No word on if the cop said "Choo shouldn't be drinking and driving".  And isn't it funny that MLB is so wound up trying to find a test for HGH, which most studies now say has little or no performance enhancing qualities, but they're seeing players arrested driving loaded almost weekly now?  Think they might have a liability problem there with a player from a mega-million or billion dollar franchise leaving the park after a few post-game beers and killing somebody behind the wheel of his 7-series?

Florida Marlins ace Josh Johnson is having himself a fantastic start to the year.  His opponents' OPS is a mere .390, and he's twice gone no-hitter later than the fifth already.  Filthy, though the question remains of whether he can stay healthy.

Pittsburgh Steeler Rashard Mendenhall is going Tin-Foil Hatter in questioning the true story behind the World Trade Center, and asking how people can celebrate bin Laden's death when they have "only heard one side".  Horrible timing, Mendenhall.  Like a fumble near the goalline terrible timing.  He has since apologized for the Tweets.  Well, that takes care of that!

Doug Flutie's daughter Alexa, who we're pretty sure is taller than dad, is now a New England Patriots cheerleader.  Dad must be so proud.

The good news for the Chicago Cubs: Alfonso Soriano has a major league leading 11 home runs. The bad news: so do the rest of his teammates...combined.

Could it get ugly in New York for the media and fans with respect to Derek Jeter Sure seems so, says the New York Daily News, and the 56% in the poll who say Jeter is too old and slow to turn his season around and be a contributor to the Yankees.

Didn't manage to get this in yesterday thanks to an out of town work run, but check out Boston Bruin Adam McQuaid missing with a hit on Philly Flyer Michael Richards, and going head first into the boards.  Funnier still: there was pushing and shoving post-whistle, as though the Flyers somehow did something to him.

A cheesy grilled cheese tower, on Epic Meal Time.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Flyers clipped again

Another roadie wins in NHL playoff play last night as the Boston Bruins downed Philadelphia to take a 2-0 lead heading back to Beantown. Tim Thomas is looking fantastic in goal for the Bruins. Clearly, last season was a aberration.

Real Madrid will be at Barcelona today down 2-0 on aggregate, and minus Sergio Ramos on suspension. They've got quite the hole to climb out of and while manager Jose Mourinho is calling a big win in Barcelona an impossible task, I don't imagine Real lays back and makes it easy on them. Hopefully it isn't as ugly as last week's encounter in Madrid. The winner will advance to the Champions League final on May 28th in London.

I cannot say I care an ounce how Canada does in the second rate World Championships of Hockey. Sure I'd love the home guys to win, but calling that thing a true World Championship is a massive stretch with so many of the best tied up in NHL playoff runs.

The LA Lakers are not going to make this year's playoff run - Phil Jackson's last - a smooth one, not if they're going to drop openers to the Dallas Mavs in the second round.  I'm sure Kobe Bryant isn't at all irate over that one.  The Chicago Bulls also dropped their opener at home to the Atlanta Hawks and saw point guard Derrick Rose badly twist an ankle with eight meaningless seconds to go.

Speaking of the Hawks, have to love that they left tickets for Jameer Nelson of the Orlando Magic, who they bounced from the playoffs of course.  Even better is that Nelson was overheard telling Derrick Rose a few weeks ago they'd be seeing each other in the second round.  Awesome.

Short one today.  Work.

Monday, May 2, 2011

What a surreal night it was last night.  In the middle of the Philadelphia Phillies hosting the New York Mets on Sunday Night Baseball, you could tells something was going on in the crowd from the buzz and all the Blackberries and iPhones out and a sudden chant of "USA" errupting.  Jump to Twitter and it was there for all to see, word was that the U.S. had finally tracked down Osama Bin Laden...with a bullet to the head.  

I now know what Georges St. Pierre meant when he said "don't blink" at the pre-fight weight-in for his title match with Jake Shields in front of over 55,000 at a rocking Rogers Centre (and when was the last time you could say that?).  GSZzzzzzzz ground out another snoozer of a win that was effective, but not overly entertaining, especially when it followed an incredibly gutsy performance from Mark Hominick in his decision loss to Jose AldoHominick had a ridiculous lump - Hasim Rahman style (above at right) - on his skull (below at right), bought fought through and dominated the final round, even looking like he might win it. Overall, a fantastic card and event in Toronto, hurt only by a dull main event.  Maybe we get Anderson Silva and GSP on January 1st in Toronto?

Two calendar months ago, Chelsea was 15 points behind Manchester United.  After yesterday's 1-0 loss at Arsenal, United's lead is now down to three points with the two playing in Manchester this coming Sunday in a game that should decide the championship with just three games left to play.

The Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox are behind the Cleveland Indians by 10 games in the AL Central.  The Tribe are an MLB best 19-8.

The Tampa Bay Lightning took their second game in Washington to open up that series against the top seeded Caps, who are shooting plenty, but scoring little, by a 3-2 overtime score.  Also yesterday, the San Jose Sharks - who are getting that "destiny" look about them - downed the Detroit Red Wings 2-1 to lead that series 2-0.  Didn't figure on the Boston Bruins hammering the Philadelphia Flyers 7-3 in their series opener on Saturday.  The other series sits at 1-1 after the Nashville Preds downed the Vancouver Canucks 2-1 in overtime.

Boston Celtics: don't let me down like that again.  Beat the Heat.

Going back to August of last year, New York Yankee Derek Jeter is now at 310 at-bats since his last home run. Jeter's and the Yankees took two of three from the Toronto Blue Jays this weekend.  After watching Kyle Drabek's start on Saturday, and wondering for a time why a pitcher wears #4, it came clear: 38 balls in 78 pitches.

Pittsburgh Penguin Sidney Crosby hasn't played since January, and had a set-back that has him fearing he won't be ready for the start of the next NHL season.  That is real, real bad news for the NHLBruce Arthur at the National Post might want to update this piece he wrote after Crosby had been out two months on how afraid the NHL should be.

It is election day in Canada today and remember: if you don't vote, don't bitch.

The perils of pissing in a Boston washroom while wearing a Montreal Canadiens shirt.

John Cena, WWE champion, let the crowd know after a pay-per-view win last night that Osama bin Laden had been caught and "compromised to a permanent end".