At the Vancouver-Anaheim NHL game last night in B.C., this is what they call Row JJustice:
Thinking Gino Odjick could use a seat upgrade.
At the Vancouver-Anaheim NHL game last night in B.C., this is what they call Row JJustice:
Thinking Gino Odjick could use a seat upgrade.
If you think you’re pissed when your team is knocked out of the playoffs, try actually being the guy responsible for putting the team together. But while you might have been forgiven for hurling your remote at the TV when the Ducks lost a painful game 7, one would expect Anaheim GM Bob Murray to display a little more composure.
Murray is accused of hitting a working journalist with a chair on Thursday night after the Red Wings eliminated his Ducks. Apparently she violated the first rule of the press box: there is no cheering in the press box. She deserved what she got.
As evidenced by Wednesday night’s Pittsburgh Penguins’ romp over the Washington Capitals, not every Game 7 in hockey is something special. But let’s face it - most of them are. And when you throw overtime into the mix? It’s about as good as it gets. It’s drama that you cannot turn away from - at any second, the game and the series could be over with one thunderbolt.
So it was that the Carolina Hurricanes and Boston Bruins skated at the end of the first overtime in their Game 7 in Boston, looking for all the world like they were going to a second extra period - or more. And then out of nowhere, a shot was flipped towards the net, Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas was unable to control the rebound, and winger Scott Walker pounced to put the puck in the net for his first career playoff goal to end the game 3-2 and the series.
And the fact that it was Walker who scored the series-winner had to hurt Bruins fans doubly, since he was the person who sucker punched Bruins defenseman Aaron Ward near the end of Game 5. According to NHL rules, Ward should have been suspended for Game 6, but the league rescinded the suspension after a hearing on Monday. So he went from almost breaking Ward’s face to definitely breaking the Bruins’ hearts.
(Of course, even though it was a Game 7 overtime winner, it arguably wasn’t as impressive or as cold-blooded as how the Hurricanes scored two late goals to send the New Jersey Devils packing in Game 7 of their first-round series. If I’m the Penguins in the Eastern Conference finals, I’m doing everything I can to close them out early.)
The Detroit Red Wings’ Game 7 victory over the Anaheim Ducks didn’t go to overtime, but it sure had its share of drama. Detroit went up two goals early, only to see Anaheim claw back to level the score at 3-3. But Dan Cleary scored with three minutes to go to give the Red Wings the go-ahead goal and Detroit’s defense was able to make it stick, setting up a Western Conference Finals match-up with the Chicago Blackhawks.
Oh, you say that you prefer NBA Game 7s? Well, you’ll have your chance for satisfaction soon enough, as two teams fought off elimination to earn one deciding game. In Orlando, the subtle message that Dwight Howard sent to Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy through the media (i.e. “quit being an idiot and get me the ball”) must have sunk in, as Howard had 23 points and 22 rebounds and the Magic forced a return trip to Boston with an 83-75 victory over the Celtics. None of which apparently excited Orlando fans to show up, as there were “patches of empty seats early in the game.”
No wonder Commissioner David Stern was at the Lakers vs. Rockets game. And speaking of late-arriving - someone might want to tell the Lakers that Houston is in a different time zone, because they clearly aren’t showing up for games there until it’s too late. Much like in Game 4, Los Angeles put themselves in a huge hole they never could get out of, at one point closing an early 16-point deficit to two points but finally running out of steam and falling 95-80 to force a Game 7 at Staples Center. Meanwhile, the Denver Nuggets wait and rest.
Here’s some more sports news to digest while I try to figure out how to be part of “Bike To Work Day” when I work from home.
Tim Floyd, USC’s men’s basketball coach for the moment (and this after almost becoming a leader of Wildcats), allegedly paid a handler a thousand dollars in cash to be delivered to O.J. Mayo in a successful attempt to encourage the young point guard to follow through on joining USC for a season after signing his letter of intent. (No, the handler wasn’t Li’l Romeo. Good guess, though.)
Everyone from the handler to Floyd to USC could be in varying levels of trouble if true. Therefore, absolutely no one except YAHOO! SPORTS’ source will speak on the record. Their investigative journalism has been hit and miss, though their commitment to providing original reporting has not wavered.
It’s unclear how seriously the reporting from the site with the silly name can be taken, though, as they clearly do not have fake conversations where they hype their stories around a ridiculously small table while being filmed in black-and-white. It’s not really journalism if it’s colorized.
From one stereotypically smoky back room to another, Delaware’s legislature has passed a law permitting sports betting in a desperate attempt to fill a gaping $600 million maw in the state budget. The governor has promised his signature on the bill once the state Supreme Court has spoken to the state constitutionality of the bill.
Delaware is one of only four states with a legal exemption to a 1992 federal law banning sports gambling and the only one east of the Mississippi. State lawmakers have high hopes of becoming a gambling mecca for sports enthusiasts; one called the opportunity “an unbelievable cash cow”. Again, it’s unclear how true this can be if no one will be allowed to gamble on the Wilmington Blue Rocks.
(The only thing you can tease here is the moose, sir)
Finally, from one set of rocks to another, Boston came back to defeat the Orlando Magic 92-88 last night to take a 3-2 series lead in a highly predictable collapse from the team in blue that has only one mode: jack the three up and cross your fingers.
Houston also got a condescending pat on the head for their Game 4 effort without Yao Ming before being penetrated 118-78 by the Lakers and falling behind 3-2 in their series. The Rockets now only have one reliable position: fetal.
(”… so that’s winning! Interesting.”)
On the other hand, three fine NHL Game 7s have now been scheduled after wins by Anaheim and Boston last night. Detroit never found its offense despite approximately 40392109 minutes on the power play while Carolina’s Cam Ward couldn’t quite figure out what all that goalie equipment should be used for. One possibility: handing off $1,000 in cash to the next O.J. Mayo?
And now a hail of bullet points discovered behind the olive loaf sandwich in the break room fridge; you know, the fridge that sent half your office to the hospital…
If anyone was going to step up and hit the game-winning shot in a must win game for the Boston Celtics, of course if was going to be Glen “Big Baby” Davis, right? I mean, just look at the guy’s track record. It’s…OK, basically it’s him getting screamed at by Kevin Garnett on the sidelines and crying into his towel. So what I mean to say is that there is no possible way that Glen Davis hits the biggest shot of the season for the Boston Celtics.
But there he was, with the clock running down on Sunday night against Orlando and the Celtics trailing by one, draining a 21-footer after the Magic had swarmed Paul Pierce to give Boston the 95-94 victory to tie their Eastern Conference semifinal series at 2-2. And there he was charging down the court like he was chasing down the ice cream truck as it took off down the street, taking out some helpless kid on the sidelines in the process. Make sure you keep an eye on the kid’s friend shooting daggers at Davis:
Yeah, kid, I’m sure you could have taken him down if he just wouldn’t have run away so fast. But back to the shot: it’s not that the shot was too uncommon for Davis to hit - he does have that kind of range from the outside. But to hit that shot in that situation is just uncanny. Almost as uncanny as Paul Pierce having the guts to pass to him and let him take the shot with the Celtics’ season basically on the line. Can you imagine Kobe Bryant passing the ball to Andrew Bynum in the same situation?
Meanwhile, remember how the Rockets’ season was supposed to be doomed when Tracy McGrady went out for the season? That didn’t happen, as Houston won a playoff series for the first time in 47 years (approximately) before giving the Lakers all they could handle in their Western Conference semifinal series. But the news that Yao “Bamboo Bone” Ming would miss the rest of the playoffs with a broken foot suffered in Game 3 was surely the end of their run.
Then what in the world were the Lakers doing trailing by as many as 29 points to a team starting a 6-foot-6 center (Chuck Hayes) before falling 99-87 to have their series evened up at 2-2? For one thing, the Lakers had no answer for
Chris Rock Aaron Brooks, as the diminutive guard ripped Los Angeles for 34 points, while the combination of Ron Artest and Luis Scola held Kobe Bryant to just 15 points.
As Phil Jackson predicted, it may have just been a case of a team playing full of emotion after having their backs to the wall; and yes, the Lakers did still regain home court advantage during the two games in Houston. But watching the Lakers and comparing them to the molten hot ball of basketball destruction that is the Denver Nuggets right now, perhaps that Cavaliers vs. Lakers NBA Finals isn’t as much of a sure thing as we previously thought.
Meanwhile, in those “other” playoffs, the Bruins followed the lead of their basketball brethren from Boston, although their prospects are still far more bleak. Despite their 4-0 win over the Carolina Hurricanes, Boston still trails 3-2 and needs to win at Carolina in Game 6 (where the Hurricanes have lost just once this postseason) in order to extend things to a Game 7. And in the Western Conference, the Red Wings pushed the Ducks to the brink with a decisive 4-1 victory to take a 3-2 series lead.
Other stories you might have missed as you were voting for your mayor to shave his handlebar mustache:
It’s been said that either Manny Ramirez is incredibly dumb, or incredibly good at playing dumb, and his response to his 50-game suspension for violating MLB’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program gives proponents of either theory plenty of fuel for the fire. On one hand, claiming that a doctor gave him medicine for a “personal problem” seems like a flimsy attempt to use ignorance to cover up cheating, especially since the drug in question (hCG) is primarily used as a fertility treatment for women.
But what the “personal problem” really was personal - like he was trying to get pregnant? Maybe he saw that Arnold Schwarzenegger movie “Junior” on a plane flight and thought that sounded like a great idea. I mean, come on: Manny’s so crazy, he doesn’t even know that men can’t conceive. That’s just Manny being Manny.
(The only thing inconceivable is Manny Ramirez’s story.)
Are you buying it? Me either. As the news spread throughout the baseball world, the most shocking aspect is just how not shocked anyone who wasn’t a Dodger fan was about it. His former teammates with the Boston Red Sox seemed to be more upset that they have to talk about Manny Ramirez again than anything else, with closer Jonathan Papelbon summing up most player’s thoughts:
“I just walked in the clubhouse today and found out about it. I haven’t really thought about it all. We’ve got more things to worry about on our club. Obviously, it’s a news story, blah, blah, blah. There’s so many more things we have to go get ready for. He’s not in our clubhouse anymore, so this is something that we’re not even worried about.”
Meanwhile, the debate seemed to come not about Manny Ramirez’s guilt or innocence, but about everything surrounding his presumed guilt. Such as Brooks’ question that if everyone is doing PEDs, then do we have to let Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Roger Clemens into the Hall of Fame? Or if the Dodgers are going to symbolically tear down “Mannywood,” the section devoted to the team’s Cult of Personality.
So how did the Dodgers react on the field without their leader? In a word: shaky. Oh, it started out good, jumping out a 6-0 first inning lead on the dreadful Washington Nationals. But then it all fell apart, although this had nothing to do with Ramirez’s absence.
Blame this on the Dodgers’ increasingly leaky bullpen, which allowed nine runs in the seventh and eigth innings en route to an 11-9 Dodgers loss - which stopped the team’s record home winning streak to start the season at 13. You also couldn’t blame Ramirez’s replacement in left field, Juan Pierre, who went 2-for-4 but did make the inning-ending out in the eighth with the bases loaded.
Meanwhile, back to Ramirez’s former team again … actually, let’s look at both of them, since his original team (the Cleveland Indians) just happened to be visiting his most recent team (the Red Sox) on Thursday night. And while it might be tacky after the events of yesterday to says that Boston’s offense was on steroids, it’s safe to say that they were at least jacked up on a six-pack of Jolt colas.
The Red Sox matched a major league record by scoring 12 runs in the sixth inning while drubbing the Indians 13-3. At least we can be sure that Jason Bay isn’t juicing, unless he tests positive for having too much maple syrup in his blood.
And speaking of blowouts, let’s take a moment to congratulate the Atlanta Hawks for making it to the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs as they collect their parting gifts and head to the exits. Sure, they are only down 2-0 to the Cleveland Cavaliers, and they are returning home.
But anyone who saw just a few minutes of Cleveland’s 105-85 thrashing of the Hawks knows that this series has all the makings of a sweep. Cleveland lead by as many as 36 before calling off the dogs, and LeBron James was just toying with defenders. And oh yeah, Joe Johnson sprained his ankle and might be out for the series. Have fun at the golf course, Atlanta!
More news that you might have missed last night as you were slowly backing away from Kiefer Sutherland and avoiding eye contact as not to enrage the beast:
• A bikini-themed sports bar in San Antonio is all set to open for business - right next door to a prep school.
• A blown whistle blows the chances of the Detroit Red Wings tying up Game 3 against the Anaheim Ducks.
• NBA tells Buckeye benchwarmer Mike Titus to take his name out of the upcoming Draft, “or else”.
• The NAACP will honor L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling with a lifetime achievement award. Elgin Baylor must be thrilled.
• A lot of Pens fans are teased by a text message mistake telling them they won four free tickets to an upcoming playoff game.
It might not have seemed possible a few months ago, but it appears as if Ed Hochuli has no longer made the worst officiating gaffe of the last 12 months. That honor now belongs to NHL ref Brad Watson, who probably didn’t sleep very well after the mistake he made in last night’s Red Wings-Ducks game in Anaheim.
(I guess Brad Watson still needs that glowing puck they used to have on FOX)
Trailing 2-1 with just over a minute left, Detroit’s Marian Hossa knocked in a loose puck that squirted free from Jonas Hiller’s pads and was sitting all by itself in the crease (as you can see above) for the apparent tying goal. But, astonishingly, Watson blew his whistle just before Hossa scored, wiping out the goal because he says he lost sight of the puck (admittedly, Watson was at a terrible angle to see where the puck was) even though the rest of the world could see the thing sitting right in the middle of the crease. The play wasn’t reviewable, and the Ducks held on for a 2-1 win to take an identical lead in the series. Wings fans are irate, but since everyone else in hockey hates Detroit the screams aren’t resonating much outside of Michigan. Here’s the full video of the play:
For what it’s worth, the announcers are right that NHL refs are required to blow the whistle as soon as they lose sight of the puck. And, while Hossa’s shot clearly goes in before the whistle sounds, the rule is that the play is dead as soon as the ref decides to blow the whistle, which is a second or so before he actually does. Procedurally, Watson did everything right. But the whole thing about not seeing a puck right there in plain sight? Yeah, he messed that up pretty bad.
(Hey Watson, are your eyes ever where they’re supposed to be?)
In the NBA playoffs, The Hawks hung around for a while, but eventually the Cleveland Cavs ran away and hid, making it eight straight games involving Atlanta that has ended in a blowout. LeBron accepted the MVP award from David Stern before the game, then tossed up a ho-hum 34 and 10 in a 99-72 win. The Cavs outscored the Hawks 50-28 in the second half and lead the Eastern semis 1-0.
The Nuggets also used a second-half run to take a 2-0 lead in their series with the Mavs. Carmelo Anthony and Nene each scored 25 in a 117-105 Denver victory. Dallas was one of the hottest teams down the stretch but this just looks like a bad matchup for them. They’re now 0-6 against the Nuggets this season and, including their only home loss after the All-Star break. DALLAS MORNING NEWS columnist Jean-Jacques Taylor has already declared the series over.
The Dodgers beat Arizona 3-1 last night to move to 12-0 at home this season, which is just obscene in a sport like baseball. The win tied them with the 1911 Detroit Tigers for the best home start in Major League history. Even more obscene is that L.A. won the game with Jeff Weaver on the mound. Is Scott Erickson not with the team anymore?
In the Bronx, the Red Sox pounded Joba Chamberlain for four runs before an out was recorded, and cruised to a 7-3 win, making them 5-0 against the Yankees this season. Even though Joba got roughed up early, he recovered and ended up striking out 12 batters in 5 2/3 innings. Regardless, he still had a better day than his mother.
(The new Yankee killer)
• SI’s Jon Heyman says MLB is now “investigating” the pitch-tipping allegations about Alex Rodriguez. If you haven’t heard, Selena Roberts says in her book that A-Rod would let opposing batters know what pitches were coming in blowout games, with the understanding that they would return the favor later. There’s about a 0% chance that we’ll ever know what really happened. But it all seems a little far-fetched. Wouldn’t somebody notice this? And who are the other people in on this scheme?
• SPORTS RUBBISH brings us footage of a soccer team called Corinthians in Brazil celebrating a major tournament victory by setting their team captain (known only as “William”) on fire during the trophy presentation. They didn’t mean to, but I’m sure that’s of little consolation to the guy who was on fire:
• According to the INDIANAPOLIS STAR, the Titans will travel to New
York Jersey in September to play…the Titans?
• Remember when the Winnipeg Jets moved to Phoenix in the late ’90s and everyone said it was crazy that they thought a hockey team would work in Arizona? Well, looks like everyone was right. The Coyotes are bankrupt and the CEO of BlackBerry wants to buy the team and move it to Ontario (the Canadian province, not the dusty city in California with an airport).
• Manchester United is going back to the Champions League final for the second straight year, after throttling Arsenal 3-1 in London. Man U scored twice in the first 11 minutes and never gave the Gunners a chance to compete. Through all of this, United is still finding time to wheel and deal, reportedly offering $127 million to Bayern Munich for French star Franck Ribery.
• The Patriots’ cheerleaders just got back from a week-long photo shoot in Aruba, where they were joined by 150 Pats fans, says the BOSTON GLOBE. The girls reportedly engaged in some beach volleyball, presumably to the delight of said 150 fans.
• Shockingly, LeBron James is not going to be rolling around in that new Kia he got for winning the MVP, choosing to donate it instead, according to CARS.COM.
• The Nats and Astros played to a tie after nearly 11 innings yesterday in D.C. and then the rain came. And everyone just shrugged and said “really, does anyone think the outcome of this game is going to matter in September?” and decided to just call it off. Well, that would be the reasonable thing to do. In reality, they will resume the game in July in Houston (but the Nats will still be the home team).
• If you offer any of the Pittsburgh Pirates a beer right now, they might punch you in the face. The Bucs have now lost to the Brewers 17 times in a row after an 8-5 decision last night. It’s the longest such streak for any two teams in almost 40 years.
• Zack Greinke missed most of the 2006 season because of anxiety and depression. Three years later, he’s the AL’s pitcher of the month and one of only three pitchers in ML history to start 6-0 with an ERA of 0.50 or less (the other two are Fernando Valenzuela and Walter Johnson).
Over the past week, the sports world has gone from a sadly predictable near-tragedy to a shockingly real one. While most NASCAR fans and drivers could have told you that a scene like Carl Edwards’ car almost flying into the packed stands at Talladega was almost inevitable, no one could have predicted what happened during a freak windstorm at the team’s practice facility on Saturday afternoon: the entire thing collapsed, trapping players, coaches, staff and media inside.
When first reports came out about the accident on Saturday, it looked like any major injuries had been avoided. But Sunday brought additional news, and most of it not good: the FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAPH says that scouting assistant Rich Behm has been paralyzed from the waist down as a result of the accident. Among the 11 other people who received medical attention, special teams coach Joe DeCamillis suffered a broken vertebra but somehow was not paralyzed, while assistant athletic trainer Greg Gaither has a broken right leg.
And as horrific as the situation was, it apparently could have even been worse, if eyewitness reports from players and media members who were there for a rookie minicamp (welcome to the league, rooks). Such as former kicker and fifth-round draft pick David Buehler, who wound up with a concussion and various cuts and scrapes.
“My initial thought was, how many people are dead in this?” Buehler said tonight. “I thought I was the lucky one.”
(It should be noted that Buehler became the kicker at USC after incumbent Mario Danelo was killed in a drunken fall from a cliff after the 2007 Rose Bowl, so he’s seen enough football-related tragedies for his lifetime.)
Somehow Buehler suffered the most severe injuries of the players (I guess that armor does help), and many of the players acted as rescuers immediately after the collapse. Two players might have helped save DALLAS MORNING NEWS reporter Todd Archer from further injury after he was pinned down by falling debris:
Then I saw two pairs of cleats near me and two blue jerseys, so I knew they were defensive players. Later, I was told it was cornerback DeAngelo Smith and linebacker Brandon Williams. Eatman said Williams pushed him out of the way so he could help get me out.
With whatever was on me raised a few inches, I was able to turn on my back and inch my way out. I remember seeing players hurdle over pieces of the wreckage to make sure their teammates – strangers to most of them just a week ago – were all right.
I ran into the team’s Valley Ranch complex. Blood trickled down my right elbow. My right shin had some road rash. My left knee was sore, and as the time went by, my left shoulder and right ribs became sore.
It all took about 25 seconds, but it seemed much longer.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones cut his trip to the Kentucky Derby short and returned Sunday morning to grimly look at the resulting carnage. As you could expect, OSHA is investigating; but while you might question the safety of having a 85,000 square-foot inflatable tent in an area hit by occasional huge thunderstorms, chances are this will be just an incredibly fluky situation that had tragic consequences.
Getting back to more positive news: I know it’s a cliche that there’s “nothing like playoff hockey,” and that’s a lie: mint chip ice cream is better than playoff hockey; finding “Caddyshack” on HBO at 3:30 a.m. when you can’t go sleep is right up there as well. But yesterday’s three-OT thriller between the Ducks and the Red Wings was a reminder: the Celtics vs. Bulls series had some great games, but no one does extra time like the NHL.
Why? Because of getting a set amount of time to complete a period, the end of an OT playoff game could come at any second, on a power play, shorthanded or completely against the run of play. It’s that “lightning in a bottle” moment that makes it so unique, and often times the game-winner comes from an unusual source.
On Sunday, that unlikely hero was Todd Marchant. The ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER says the third-oldest player on the team came through when it was needed, putting away a shot from the top of the face-off circle (after breaking up a Detroit rush) to give Anaheim a dramatic 4-3 three-OT road victory to level the series at 1-1.
Think about it: this game went three overtimes - and we’re not talking fake NBA five-minute OTs either, but honest-to-God 20-minute periods. Basically, the Ducks and the Red Wings played 2/3s of an extra game, but most casual fans are too jaded (and expect this every NHL playoff time) to appreciate it. Meanwhile, the Bulls and Celtics go three five-minute overtimes and everyone freaks out.
(Now-former Dodgers beat writer Tony Jackson, enjoying a power nap.)
Finally, in baseball news: for a fundamentally flawed team, the Dodgers sure do look pretty good. They beat San Diego 7-3 on Sunday, which the LOS ANGELES TIMES says is their franchise-record 10th straight home win to start the season. Not bad for a team that supposedly lacks the pitching depth to be a contender. Now if there was only more than one beat writer covering the team.
Have you ever been elbowed in the face so violently that you just start bleeding all over the place? Odds are you haven’t, and for that, you should be enormously thankful; there can’t be many worse experiences than getting your world wrecked like Detroit’s Jiri Hudler did last night.
The hit came courtesy of Anaheim’s Mike Brown, who awaits his fate from the league office. You’d think that such wanton facial carnage, especially since it had nothing to do with the play (as you’ll see in the video after the break), would carry significant suspension time, but that’s not entirely certain. Read more…