August 19, 2013
Charlie Manuel fired as Phillies manager – With players like Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Cliff Lee, the Philadelphia Phillies were expected to contend for the World Series this year. But with the Phils more than 20 games behind the division-leading Atlanta Braves, that hasn’t happened. Because of that, the team figured that they’ve seen enough of manager Charlie Manuel and gave him the boot last week. Third base coach and Chicago Cubs legend Ryne Sandberg will take over in his place for now. Ironically, Sandberg had some prior history with the club as he was dealt from the Phillies to the Cubs before his historic career got off the ground.
Little League No-hitter – Grant Holman of California threw a no-hitter in a Little League World Series game against Michigan as the event kicked off in Williamsport, PA. A no-hitter is impressive no matter what, but making the feat even more difficult is that there is a strict 85-pitch count in the games. Holman’s no-hitter is the first in the event’s history since the pitch count rule was put into play. It’s easy to see why Holman might be a little intimidating to opposing batters. The 13-year old stands 6’4”.
Kobe says it’s Lakers or bust – Kobe Bryant announced in a conversation with Jimmy Kimmel that the Lakers would be the only NBA team he ever plays for. There’s been a lot of talk about Los Angeles possibly needing to dump their biggest star, but Kobe says he’s a Laker for life. The interview was part of a one-hour special that sold tickets to fans who could watch and proceeds benefited Bryant’s charity.
Mice on skateboards – Skateboarding is a sport, right?
MLB to expand instant replay – Major League Baseball opened a can of worms when it was announced that instant replay would be expanded to include managerial challenges. Lots has been made of baseball’s foray into the replay universe via the review of home run calls, but this is sure to anger even more fans. Personally, though, I’ve never understood the furor by those who are fine with instant replay in other sports but not baseball. Ultimately, any sacrifice in convenience by an interruption in play should be made for the sake of getting the call right. And when you think about it, baseball is actually the more relaxed game of any of the four major sports. If there’s a place where replay belongs, it’s baseball.
A-Rod group reportedly leaks names in Biogenesis scandal – The Biogenesis PED scandal just got a bit more interesting as a report broke last week that members of Alex Rodriguez’ ‘inner circle’ of friends leaked the names of Ryan Braun and teammate Francisco Cervelli after they were redacted from the original Miami New Times article. Leaking the names of anyone would be a low blow of sorts, but to do it to a teammate would trump just about all levels of scumbaggery. A-Rod, for his part, has denied the allegations.
Al Harrington signs with Wizards, almost 110% - Forward Al Harrington signed with the Washington Wizards last week after playing with the Orlando Magic. Harrington played in only a few games with the Magic last year before going down with a knee injury. He isn’t the same player he once was, but Harrington can still contribute to the frontcourt for a franchise that is on the rise with young stars John Wall, Bradley Beal, and 2013 Draft Pick, Otto Porter. And hey, if there were any doubts about Harrington’s lingering injury, the forward did his best to alleviate those fears by declaring he was ‘almost 110%’ on Twitter. Um, yeah.
Nashville Predators want to keep Blackhawks fans away – The NHL’s Nashville Predators implemented an interesting ticket policy recently as they tried to discourage fans of the Chicago Blackhawks from attending the game against the two teams in Nashville. Fed up with the large contingent of Blackhawks fans that have attended their team’s road games in Nashville, the Predators will now only sell tickets to that game with the purchase of another game. In addition, for the pre-sale, fans of certain zip codes (presumably in the Chicago area) will not be allowed to purchase the tickets at all. The tactic has been used before by other franchises but it’s hardly a guaranteed fix. In the digital age with ticket websites, message boards, and other forums to buy and sell tickets, if Blackhawks fans really want to get in, they’ll find a way.
Zach Hodskins receives college offer to play at Florida – News of a player heading off to college to play sports isn’t rare, but in the case of high schooler Zach Hodskins, it is. Hodskins was born without the lower part of his left arm because of a birth defect, but has excelled as a basketball player nonetheless. So much so that he received an offer as a preferred walk-on by the Florida Gators. Hodskins has been impressive in high school and in AAU games and watching him get his chance against the best college players in the nation will be fun to watch.
Arena Wars – No, it’s not Star Wars – it’s Arena Wars. Stick with me because this one’s a bit confusing. The Sacramento Kings’ proposed move to Seattle was blocked by the NBA and that meant the cancellation of a bid to buy the team by Seattle investor Chris Hansen who planned to relocate the franchise. The move was blocked because the city had a plan for a new arena in Sacramento but Hansen, however, was not amused. A grassroots campaign to derail the arena plan anchored by a widespread petition effort began with $80,000 in funding from a mystery donor. A political watch dog group sued the law firm that had funneled the money to the group on behalf of the donor and it was recently reported that Hansen was said donor. Oh, boy. Hansen, like the majority of Seattle residents, wasn’t happy when the Supersonics left town. Still, it’s got to be pretty embarrassing for the investor to be outed like this.
April 2, 2013
With the NHL realignment approved for next season, the league will now feature four divisions instead of six. These would be the Midwest, the Pacific, the Central and the Atlantic. The Midwest and Pacific divisions would makeup the Western Conference, while the Central and the Atlantic divisions would make up the Eastern Conference. The Central and Atlantic divisions will have 8 teams each, while the Pacific and the Midwest will each have 7 teams.
Here is what the NHL will look like next season:
The playoffs will still feature 16 teams, eight from each conference, but will not be division based with a new wild-card feature. The top 3 teams from each division will make up the first 12 teams in the playoffs The final 4 places will be filled in by the next two highest placed teams in each conference, and will be based on regular season points, regardless of their division. This means one division could send 5 teams while another could only send three.
Regular season points will also determine the seeding of the teams. Meaning, the division winner with the most points will play the wild card team with the least points, and so forth.
This plan is exactly what the league needed after two lockouts in the past 8 seasons. Something needed to change. As you can see the only two teams changing conferences will be the Detroit Red Wings and the Columbus Blue Jackets. Detroit has been crying for this move for years.
With that I give you 4 reasons this plan for realignment is a win-win for the league and everybody associated with it:
Geographic simplicity: We will see fewer issues with time zones and travel. Teams in the same conference will enjoy easier travel simply because they are now crossing over fewer time zones.
More Original 6 matchups: Detroit is now in the same division with 3 other teams from the Original 6: Boston, Montreal and Toronto. Also, the Red Wings and the New York Rangers are in the same conference.
New Playoff Format: With the imbalance of teams in each division, there is talk of a “Wild Card Format” being added to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. This could mean a play-in game where two teams play one game to become the 8th seed in the Western Conference. Another win or go home game would be genius.
Dream for Television: The Eastern Conference would have a rivalry game almost every night. Teams in Canada will get awesome exposure, with a myriad of Canadian vs. Canadian rivalries. New rivalries and big matchups will be made out West such as with the 3 California teams; San Jose, Anaheim and Los Angeles. Even more Canadian exposure is bred with Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and Winnipeg.
August 9, 2012
With the beginning of the regular season just two months away, the NHL offseason has brought some surprises, some heartbreak, and some confidence. There were many teams that have been quiet including the Vancouver Canucks, Boston Bruins, Los Angeles Kings, and the St. Louis Blues because they felt the core of their team was strong both offensively and defensively.
Then, there are the teams that gained some necessary pieces, and the teams that were not able to acquire the necessary pieces. To me, these are the winners and losers of the NHL offseason:
Minnesota Wild: Along with adding two superstars in Parise and Suter, the Wild also added some depth by signing Torrey Mitchell and Zenon Konopka.
New York Rangers: The Blue Shirts added superstar forward Rick Nash to an already solid team on both ends of the ice. The acquisition of center Jeff Halpern will make the Rangers stronger in the faceoff circle. Along with a healthy Marc Stall, they will be one of the top 2 teams in the Eastern Conference.
Detroit Red Wings: The retirement of captain Nick Lidstrom, the departure of Brad Stuart, and the loss of Jiri Hudler hurt Detroit. They also missed out on Parise and Suter, leaving them with holes on defense and without the top-6 forward the Red Wings were hoping for.
Now, the offseason is not officially over, and teams still have UFA and RFA decisions to make, but definitely look for the Minnesota Wild to contend in the Western Conference as they got off to a hot start last year, but fizzled down the stretch. There is also the Red Wings, who could change the rest of this offseason with one key signing on either offense or defense. However, for Nashville and Buffalo, they will not be as fortunate.
February 16, 2012
Nashville at Detroit – NHL – 7:30pm
As long as the winning streak continues, this is must see TV. The Red Wings are banged up, but have continued to extend what is now a record 21-game home win streak. Nashville has already been a part of that streak, and would like to prevent from being on their twice. Add to that they could earn some points against the current #1 seed in the West and this game will be intense and should start off our weekend with a great game.
Kansas State at #10 Baylor – NCAAMBB – 1:30pm
In a rematch of a 75-73 Baylor win in January, Kansas State will look to add another W against a ranked team to their tournament resume. Baylor was undefeated and #4 at the time of their last meeting, but has lost 4 games since then (all to Top 10 teams). Kansas State is coming off a loss to #5 Kansas, and will be playing #3 Missouri 3 days later, so they are in a tough stretch of games. However, they know they can hang with Baylor, so look for them to really buckle down and try and get a big win against a conference opponent.
San Antonio at LA Clippers – NBA – 3:30pm
The Clippers look to continue to prove they are the team to beat in the West against the Spurs, who were one time kings themselves. They catch the Spurs at the right time, with this game being San Antonio’s 6th game of a 9 game road trip. However, the Spurs have recently gotten Manu Ginobili back from injury, which makes them a tougher opponent. “Lob City” has been in full effect lately, and the Clippers are 7-3 over their last 10. The Spurs are 9-1, however, and 1.5 games ahead of the Clippers. Los Angeles has to go through the veteran teams if they want to earn their respect in the West.
#16 St. Mary’s at #14 Murray State – NCAAMBB – 6:00pm
St. Mary’s and Murray St. are both teams dealing with loss, something they aren’t familiar with. St. Mary’s has lost 2 of their last 3, while Murray St. received its first loss 3 games ago. In a HUGE game for both their tournament hopes, these teams will be playing this game like it is a play-in game. Both can score, with St. Mary’s 32nd in scoring and Murray St. 41st. These two mid-major teams know how hard the tournament can be on smaller schools, so watch the intensity pick up as the game goes on.
#6 Ohio State at #19 Michigan – NCAAMBB – 9:00pm
Ohio State beat Michigan pretty good Jan 29th, 64-49 at home. Michigan has yet to lose at home this season however, and will be looking to get revenge on their hated gridiron rival. This will be Michigan’s last chance to get a victory over a Top 10 opponent before the Big 10 tournament. On top of that, Michigan is only one game back of Big Ten leader Ohio State, so this is another game that should be played like a tournament game, at least on Michigan’s end.
Dallas at New York – NBA – 1:00pm
Linsanity takes the Knicks and their 7 game winning streak to the defending NBA Champion Mavericks to see if the streak can continue. Dallas has a 5 game winning streak of their own going, and has won 15 of their last 22. Dallas is tied for 5th lowest Points per Game average in the league, while New York has picked up their defensive intensity recently. Jason Kidd might be the best defender Jeremy Lin has had to go up against, but if he and Amar’e can find each other on the pick and rolls, this game should be great to watch.
Orlando at Miami – NBA 3:30pm
This game is star-studded, and should provide a great offense vs. defense matchup to watch. Miami is 1st in scoring in the NBA, while Orlando is tied for 5th in defense. Miami has won 15 of their last 18, really hitting their stride as we get close to the All-Star break. Orlando is playing well also, winning 7 of their last 10, but you have to wonder how much longer they will have Dwight Howard on their squad. Luckily, we don’t have to worry about that this game, which should provide an up-tempo game, even with Orlando’s defensive numbers.
Colorado at Winnipeg – NHL – 8:30pm
This game might not be on a lot of radars, but to me it seems like a great game waiting to happen. Both Winnipeg and Colorado are just outside the playoffs in their respective conference and see the other opponent as “beatable”. Both teams are allowing 2.8 Goals Against and 2.5 Goals per Game, so this should be a very good matchup. Look for a dogfight with both teams looking to make a push towards the playoffs.
February 9, 2012
When it comes to the Detroit Red Wings, people have grown to expect the continued success they have had in the NHL. Having won four Stanley Cups in the last 14 years and having not missed the playoffs in the last 20, winning in the regular season normally wouldn’t make headlines. That being said, their newest winning streak is above and beyond even what Detroit fans have come to expect from their team.
The Red Wings have won their last 18 games at home, adding more meaning to the nickname “Hockeytown”. The Wings play their next 5 games at home, so how long can this streak continue? I break down each game and see which one of them could be the end of the streak.
Anaheim Ducks - 2/10
Detroit won both previous contests with the Ducks, 5-0 and 4-2, respectively. Detroit is the first stop of a long, 8-game road trip for the Ducks. Anaheim will look to win early in that trip, before the road takes its toll, so look for Anaheim to be aggressive. However, the Ducks haven’t been able to keep opponents from lighting the lamp, and Detroit has proven they can do that frequently against Anaheim. I don’t think the record ends here.
Philadelphia Flyers - 2/12
The Red Wings haven’t played the Flyers yet this season, and they split a pair of games in the preseason. Philadelphia is 2nd in the NHL in scoring and will test Jimmy Howard often throughout this game. Howard should have some support though, as the Flyers give up close to 3 goals a game. The key to this game is the Power Play, as Philadelphia is very effective with the extra man, while Detroit has struggled short-handed. This game is scary, and I think the streak could end here.
Dallas Stars - 2/14
Since I am known to be wrong, we will continue just in case my Philly prediction is incorrect. Dallas has been a worthy opponent to Detroit this season, losing two contests by a goal each, 5-4 and 3-2 in a shootout. The season is winding down, and at this moment Dallas is 2 points out of the playoffs. This game would break the NHL’s all-time home winning streak record, so the Red Wings will be fighting just as hard. If the Red Wings get this far in the streak, I think they will pull this one out.
Nashville Predators - 2/17
Nashville is playing solid hockey lately, going 14-4 in their last 18 games. Add to that they should be well rested heading into the game, and this could spell trouble for Detroit. The Predators and Red Wings have split a pair of games so far this year, each winning on their home ice. This rubber match could have significant playoff implications for both teams, as the Western Conference is a tight race. Again power plays could become a factor in this game as well, as Nashville is deadly on the power play, but doesn’t do a great job of killing them. The third tough opponent in a row, I think this could be a game that ends the streak, if it hasn’t been already.
San Jose Sharks – 2/19
If things weren’t hard enough, San Jose presents yet another problem for the Wings. A team that has already beaten Detroit twice this year, the Sharks would love to end the Red Wings home streak if the opportunity presented itself. San Jose is very similar to Nashville in that they are strong on the power play and would love to gain some points on Detroit in the playoff race. Antti Niemi has done a good job keeping Detroit out of the net, and Joe Thornton has scored 4 goals against Detroit this year. However, I think it is hard to win three in a row against the Red Wings, and I think Detroit will come out ready to rebound from one of the previous losses I predicted.