White Hat Sports Headlines

Monday, March 31, 2008

Martinsville Reactions & Observations

- It was a big win for Denny Hamlin after being a favorite to win at Bristol two weeks ago. He finally escaped some bad luck to get a win.

- Some rare harsh words were said by Jeff Burton about Michael McDowell, who was holding up a lot of leaders while a lap down late in the race. The race may have ended differently if this hadn't been the case. In any event, good job by Burton to finish as high as he did with less-than-fresh tires.

- It was a big rebound race for Hendrick Motorsports with their four drivers finishing in the top-7 (second, fourth, sixth, & seventh).

- Juan Montoya finished a solid 13th place in the race, which was the highest finish for a Dodge.

- Jamie McMurray drove his heart out, and for good reason. He got himself back into the top-35 and with a cushion too. Nice finish for him, and he could use some more good finishes with his place at Roush in question.

- Elliot Sadler did a great job, racing with a bad back and all yesterday. He managed a very respectable 15th place finish after not even being able to drive in practice on Saturday.

- Aric Almirola certainly didn't last long in the top-3 yesterday. From the green flag, until his engine blew, he just didn't have it in him to play with the big boys on NASCAR's shortest track.

- Race runner-up Jeff Gordon remarked afterward, "I wondered why I had no grip, until I got out of the car and saw how wet it was." It adds to my surprise that NASCAR didn't delay the race at all.

- It was a miserable day for Matt Kenseth.

Next up is Texas.

Aaron Larsen

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Tom Brady at risk?

Do the patriots need a new or younger offensive line? Was the patriots offensive line exposed last year in the super bowl? Well according to the statistics from last season, Tom Brady was sacked the fewest in the league last year but was hit the third most. That means 45 times after he threw the ball he was hit. The patriots put Brady (there franchise player) and there long term success at risk. By making Brady throw so many times a game there is more chances for him to get hurt, and also tires out the offensive line. By the time the patriots get into the fourth quarter, one must assume that the offensive line is tired each being 300lbs or more. I think they need to work on quick screen passes and there running game like they use to; and by doing that they can protect Brady for many years to come.

The order is Hits Sack Total:

1.) Jon Kitna Lions 38 45 83

2.) Donovan McNabb Eagles 27 43 70

3.) Tom Brady Patriots 45 23 68


Pacman to Dallas?

Is Pacman Jones going to Dallas a good idea? Should it even be news? He has not played in over a year. He was a good player but there talking about him in the news and making this seem as if he was Peyton Manning or Tom Brady on the trade block.

"I really think my days being a Titan [are] over with," Jones said Saturday, according to The (Nashville) Tennessean. "I enjoyed my stay here. I just think my days as a Titan [are] over with."

Jones, appearing at a charity basketball game at Tennessee State University with rosters made up of current and former Titans, signed his name and the number 21 on a football that was being auctioned off for charity instead of the number 32 he wore in two seasons in Nashville.

Asked if that was wishful thinking, he said "that's your idea," according to the report. But Jones also said he believed Deion Sanders, whom he considers a friend, would let him wear the No. 21 that "Prime Time" wore with the Cowboys, according to the report from ESPN.

Personally I feel that this talk needs to end Pacman Jones has yet to show he can go 6 months straight with out getting into trouble with the law, and the commissioner has not even reinstated him to play in the 2008-2009 season.


NHL Western Conference playoff predictions

Western Conference Logo

Now with the the top 3 Seeds are pretty much sown up by the Red Wings,Sharks and Wild the western conference playoffs will be the must see action because its such a deep conference. With that being said here are the current standings as the season comes to a close.

GP W L OT Pts GF GA Home Away L10
1 y - Detroit Red Wings* 78 51 20 7 109 247 175 26-9-3 25-11-4 7-2-1
2 y - San Jose Sharks* 78 47 21 10 104 210 182 20-13-6 27-8-4 8-0-2
3 Minnesota Wild* 79 42 28 9 93 214 211 23-11-5 19-17-4 5-2-3
4 x - Anaheim Ducks 79 44 27 8 96 195 184 26-9-4 18-18-4 6-3-1
5 Dallas Stars 78 43 29 6 92 230 196 22-15-2 21-14-4 2-7-1
6 Calgary Flames 78 40 28 10 90 216 215 21-11-9 19-17-1 5-5-0
7 Colorado Avalanche 79 42 31 6 90 221 211 26-12-2 16-19-4 5-5-0
8 Nashville Predators 78 39 31 8 86 222 220 22-14-4 17-17-4 5-5-0

So if the bottom half remains as is in the first round you will see Detroit facing Nashville in the 1-8 match up, San Jose against Colorado in the 2-7 match up. Along with Minnesota taking on Calgary in the 3-6 series, then my favorite match up the 4-5 series with Dallas and Anaheim. Now I see the red wings easily beating Nashville, Colorado upsetting San Jose along with Minnesota beating Calgary. And i have the Ducks beating the Stars.

after the second round I have the Western Conference Finals being a rematch of last years with Detroit and Anaheim. It will go seven games with Detroit getting revenge from last year and winning the series.

~Derek Gause~

Arm Wrestling

After a night out with the guys we all went back to our dorms and chilled for a while. So around 3:30 a.am. we were flipping through channels and we happened to stumble across Professional Arm Wrestling on ESPN.

It absolutely blows my mind that this was actually being covered on ESPN. I didn't even know that Arm Wrestling was actually a sport. When I first saw it my first thought was that old Sylvester Stallone movie "Over the Top" from the 80's. Over the Top

I couldn't stop laughing while watching ESPN's coverage because I couldn't get Stallone's images out of my head when he flips his cap around and gets in the zone before his matches. It's pretty bad when you see Professional Arm Wrestling on TV and the first thing you think of is Over the Top.

Maybe next time when I'm flipping through channels at 3 in the morning im going to stumble across coverage of Professional Dodge ball or something. Sorry this one is so short but thats all I have top say on the matter of Pro Arm Wrestling.

~Derek Gause~

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Gladiators of the Coliseum

(Photo courtest of Bostondirtdogs.com)

Starting this blog off I want to give a mass answer to number of emails that I’ve received recently on this site, the answer is yes, I won’t be writing about much except the Red Sox for the rest of the season. The regular-regular season starts for them on Tuesday in Oakland and till they are hoisting the “Tiffany Flag Pin Cushion” trophy in October I’m going to be pushing through. (On a side note, you know that if they do repeat as champions I’m going to cry like a school girl just like the first two times they won and will continue to write gems about the poetry that is Mike Lowell’s wrists and how I think that Jacoby Ellsbury could beat Moses in the 100-meter hurdles for at least another two weeks after it’s all over. You’ve been warned.)
Now that we are in this scheduling oddity of playing two regular season games on the Moon, we are now in the awkward three exhibition games before games mean anything again on Tuesday. Though, as everyone is complaining about how the Red Sox are back to playing meaningless exhibition games, the game tonight has drawn my attention since I first heard about it a few months ago. The Dodgers in honor of their 50th season in Los Angeles are playing an exhibition game at their initial west coast stomping grounds, The L.A. Coliseum. The stadium which is home now to only the college football power house, USC Trojans, has been renovated for a baseball game. 115,300 tickets have already been sold to this contest and an added 5,000 people are expected as a day of game attendees.
I can tell what you’re thinking right now, and yes this would be a record. The record that it would break is for the largest crowd ever to see a baseball game. The previous record is 93,103 people to see Roy Campanella Night in May of1959. The opponent for the Dodgers that day was the New York Yankees; the Yankees won 6-2.
The original field that the Dodgers played on in the late 50’s was only 251 feet down the left field line to the 30 foot high fence at the end of it. The change for the game tonight again the Red Sox is that the fence is going to be 200 feet away but the fence at the end is going to be roughing 62 feet high. Seriously, this sounds like a video game, I’m already thinking if someone could put one over that and how hard would it be? Also who is the player most likely to do it? My vote goes to Mike Lowell or Manny Ramirez; both are righties and can turn on a ball like no others.
This is must see stuff, the largest crowd in history and the Red Sox, this is a spectacle, regular season or not.
Wait, is this regular season? It’s not, we’re sure about this?
Someone call Bud, I need a ruling.

Vote Simmons in ’08. YES WE CAN!!!
~Sterling Pingree

The Road to the Playoffs

I've decided to do the first half of my Eastern Conference projections today rather than waiting till early next week. If you missed them, you can read part one of the Western Conference projections here, and part two is here. I'll do teams 1-4 in the East now, with the bottom part to come the middle of next week. Lets DO this.

1. Boston Celtics (final projection 64-18): This team has been the best team all season, and I see no reason why that shouldn't continue into the playoffs. It's amazing that they have been relatively healthy, and they really have clicked as a team. Sure, the big three are great and work well together, but it is the role players that are making the difference. Kendrick Perkins looked like the best player on the court at times in both Celtics games I saw live this year, and Rajon Rondo has been a jack of all trades for most of the season. Add in veterans like Eddie House and Sam Cassell and you've got a really good mix of players. If they continue to play like they have all season they could very well have an easy path to the finals.

2. Cleveland Cavaliers (final projection 47-35): As I've stated before, this ranking is a mix of my personal thoughts and what has actually occurred this season. It isn't necessarily a strict ranking of which teams I think will have the best regular season records (although that does absolutely factor in). It's an overview of which teams I think will be the most dangerous in the playoffs. That is why I have the Cavs here. They won't win their division, and will likely be the 4 seed come playoff time, but they have one thing no one else in the East has. Lebron James. He is clearly the best all around player in basketball, and showed last year that he can get it done in the playoffs. They have a good nucleus of players around him, and they are the reigning Eastern Conference champs. I believe they have the best chance of any team in the East to take out the Celtics.

3. Detroit Pistons (final projection 57-25): After the Spurs you could make a case that this Pistons team has the most playoff experience as a group. They have had the same nucleus for the last few years, and are certainly expected to be major factors in the Eastern Conference playoffs. I put them as the third best team despite their regular season record because they don't have the one guy who can take over games. Say what you want about Chauncey Billups, but the fact is that since they won the NBA Championship he hasn't been Chauncey "big shot" Billups. He could return to form this playoffs, but I don't see it happening. I expect a second round playoff exit is where this team will end up when it is all said and done.

4. Orlando Magic (final projection 52-30): This is a team that could definitely make some playoff noise. Everyone knows about how dominant Dwight Howard is, but it's the other guys there that will make the difference. Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis need to play good defense, and they need to be efficient on the offensive end. They also need Jameer Nelson to step up and play the best of his career to make it past the second round. To me, they are one or two players away. They could've used Jason Kidd or Mike Bibby, but I think they are taking the philosophy that they have a rather large window to work with, and don't need to push in all the chips quite yet. At this point anything past the second round would be considered a huge success for them.

Part two of my Eastern Conference projections to come.

~Aaron Jackson

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Road to the Playoffs

Here is the second half of my Western Conference playoff breakdown. You can read part one here, and the Eastern Conference projections will be next week.

5. San Antonio Spurs (final projection 55-27): I have the Spurs 5th in my rankings despite the fact I have them projected to win more games than the Jazz because the Jazz will most likely win their division, while the Spurs most likely will not. I also don't really see this team being a huge factor in the playoffs. I know they are the defending champs, but I just don't think they have the overall talent and athleticism anymore to get the job done. Obviously they have to considered contenders, but I think when it is all said and done they will be a second round exit.

6. Houston Rockets (final projection 53-29): This Rockets team achieved a great feat this season in winning 22 straight games, but they really don't have the talent to make it in the Western Conference. Between Yao's season ending injury and T-Mac's lack of playoff wins this team is destined for a first round exit. Obviously that diminishes what they did this season some, but it still is a feat that few teams will ever hope to achieve. I do expect this team to be a contender next year with Yao though, as I think their success this season will lead to a decent playoff run next year.

7. Denver Nuggets (final projection 51-31): Obviously I have a bias towards this team as my favorite player is Allen Iverson. That being said, I truly believe this team still has to be considered a contender. They just have too much talent to not make the playoffs, and once they get into the playoffs anything can happen. If they can improve their defensive intensity come playoff time I can absolutely see them making a run, but if they can't it will be another disappointing finish for a team that needs to win now.

8. Golden State Warriors (50-32): The team that stole the spotlight in the NBA playoffs last season is in the same exact position this year. Unfortunately for them, they will go into the playoffs and face a team that has more talent and is an overall better team. They caught lightning in a bottle with the Mavericks series last year, as they faced a Mavs team unsure of themselves to the point where they tried to change what they did all season to face the 8 seed in the playoffs. Any series they play in will certainly be entertaining, but in the end they don't have enough to go past the first round again this year.

9. Dallas Mavericks (49-33): I said when they traded for Jason Kidd that it was a dumb move and that it would not help them. This proved true, with the team struggling considerably with Kidd in the lineup. Now Dirk is out as well and the Mavs will be the odd man out, failing to reach the 50 win plateau that equals a playoff berth. It's tough to believe a team that was the best team all regular season last year could miss the playoffs entirely this year, but that is exactly what I see happening. They needed Shaq more than any other team at the trade deadline, and couldn't pull the trigger to get it done. It'll be interesting to see what happens to this team in the off season, with Mark Cuban sure to mix things up after missing the playoffs.

Eastern Conference projections to come.

~Aaron Jackson

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


In these the, um, dog days of spring? It is important to have things to look forward to. I’ll insert the cliché here that the baseball season is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. It was brought to my attention that there is another midseason Red Sox book coming out this season. The prior books have gotten exponentially better, starting off with Johnny Damon’s book, continuing with David Ortiz and now rising to new heights with DEEP DRIVE: A Long Journey to Finding the Champion Within by Mike Lowell and Rob Bradford.

I am a big fan of biographies especially about athletes and sports personalities. Though one rule I try to live by with them is to go after guys who have retired from their sport, if not it just seems unfinished and usually doesn’t hold up over time. For instance I recently read Wilt: Just like Any Other 7 Foot Black Millionaire who Lives Next Door, which was written at the tale end of his career with the Lakers. The book ends with him saying he’s not sure whether or not he will play the following season, (he does but it’s with the San Diego Conquistadors of the ABA) it just feels unresolved.

Damon’s book left a lot to be desired and also leaves a bad taste in your mouth if you’re a sox fan and have Idiot on your shelf. Ortiz’s book was actually very well done and had his own voice established right from the beginning. His story is one of a lot of intrigue as to how he went from playing himself out of Minnesota and became an MVP candidate with the Red Sox.

The latest book DEEP DRIVE is looking even better perhaps. To start off with, it’s being co-authored by Rob Bradford who has a way of finding out the stories that are more interesting than news, but the one you’ll surely want to repeat to a friend. The story of Mike Lowell is one of intrigue to me, knowing that his family came from Cuba, and he battled to reach the Majors, was cast aside by the New York Yankees (bet they feel foolish now with the schlub A-Rod at third) and then his battle with cancer while he was with the Florida Marlins. I know the basics of his story, but I’m really looking forward to this book filling in the color to the story and learning a lot more about it.

The book is scheduled to be released May 6 and Mike will be doing a book signing on a Red Sox off day May 15th at the Prudential Center Barnes & Noble in Boston.
Less than two months away.
~Sterling Pingree

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Around the MLB on Opening Day

- The Boston Red Sox narrowly won their Opening Day game in Japan today, 6-5 over the Oakland Athletics. Daisuke Matsuzaka started off slowly, giving up two runs in the first two innings, including a Mark Ellis homerun. Dice-K walked five and hit one batter, before settling down and pitching 5 innings. He ended up striking out six. Manny Ramirez was 2-for-5 with two doubles and four RBI, including a go-ahead 2-run double in the top of the 10th inning. Jonathan Papelbon endured a shaky 10th inning before recording his first save of the season.

-Yankees LHP Andy Pettitte will miss his first scheduled start next week due to back spasms. The flu bug has hit Yankees camp today, and Joba Chamberlain and Johnny Damon will miss a few days and be told to stay away.

-Other injury news features Angels OF Gary Matthews day to day with an ankle sprain.

-The Toronto Star reports that Scott Rolen and BJ Ryan won't go north with the club and could miss opening day against the Yankees.

-According to the SF Chronicle, IF Kevin Frandsen will probably miss the season with an achilles injury and that leaves the Giants with a negative amount of infielders.

Aaron Larsen

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Road to the Playoffs

The NBA playoffs are coming up, and there are going to be a few teams on the outside looking in. I've decided to take an in depth look at each conference and break down which teams will and will not be making the playoffs. I'll do the Western Conference breakdowns for the first four seeds now, with the remainder to come later in the week. Next week, I'll break down how I think the Eastern Conference will pan out.

1. New Orleans Hornets: (final projection 57-25) The Hornets have been my favorite team to watch all season, and despite the fact that I am rooting for the Denver Nuggets because of Iverson, I can't help but root for the Hornets as well. They have won 8 of the last 10, and are absolutely ready to compete for a title now despite what many "experts" say. They have the true center that can score and is great defensively in Tyson Chandler, they have the shooter who stretches the court in Peja Stojakovic, they have the low post scoring option in David West, and they have the superstar guard that makes everyone significantly better in Chris Paul. They also have two very talented swingmen in Bonzi Wells and Morris Peterson, and have a game changing guard in Janeero Pargo that comes in off the bench.

2. Los Angeles Lakers: (final projection 56-26) This is the team that is probably considered the favorite to win the west at this point, but I think they will finish second to end the regular season. Obviously, Kobe is one of the greatest players in the game, but they also now have a great supporting cast around him with Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum and Jordan Farmar. I don't think they beat out the Hornets for the top spot because Gasol is injured and is probably going to rest a lot for the remainder of the regular season, and Bynum has yet to play since before the all star break. This team probably is less concerned with it's overall seeding as it is it's playoff performance, but home court advantage throughout would certainly be a big help. I definitely think that they have the best shot of winning it all out of the west right now.

3. Phoenix Suns: (final projection 55-27) I said when the Suns traded for Shaq it would take awhile to see how it would work out, and it certainly did. They looked horrible for a while, but have now won 7 of their last 10, and are really starting to come on late. They have been major players in the playoff picture for a few years running, and with Shaq on board they certainly think this it the year they get over the hump. One thing is certain for them; they need to win now, and anything less than a championship is considered a disappointment for them. They won't be able to get a seed higher than 4th because I don't have them winning their division, but I still think they have the third best record in the west.

4. Utah Jazz: (final projection 53-29) If there is one team that needs home court advantage to excel in the playoffs it is the Jazz. They are 30-4 at home, and 16-21 on the road. If they don't have home court advantage in the playoffs they probably won't go very far. They have the division pretty well locked up however, and with that they ensure at least home court in the first round. After that though they may have a struggle making it far in the playoffs despite the talent they clearly have.

~Aaron Jackson

Sidney Crosby

I was just reading an article on ESPN.com that was talking about NHL superstar Sidney Crosby. Crosby is 20 years old and is the captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins. He also has the second most points on his team with 67, behind Evengi Malkin who has a ridiculous 102 points. Malkin is also only 21 years old.
Now I'm 20 years old and wondering where these kids got their talent. And I use the term kids because they still are. These two players are absolutely dominating the NHL and there really isn't anything any other team has done to prevent it.
Malkin has 44 goals this season against professional goalies who have dedicated their lives to stopping pucks. Crosby has 22 goals this season so far as well. I just don't understand the skill level of these two kids. I simply cannot fathom being that good.
A majority of the players who play division 1 hockey are between the ages of 21 and 24. Most of the all played junior hockey instead of going straight into college. Since the NCAA only allows players to play 4 seasons of a collegiate sport a lot of younger kids try and get as much experience as possible after high school/prep school before the division 1 level.
Kids like Crosby and Malkin skipped the whole division 1 step and went straight to the NHL basically out of prep school and are dominating. I just wonder where these kids get their talent and how come I wasn't able to obtain any of it over the years.

Alarming Baseball

Besides the Earthquake that hit the Bay Area during the 1989 World Series, the only time that an alarm or a buzzer has been involved in Baseball is when the Red Sox are on the west coast and my dad wants to sleep for a few hours before he watches the game.

This was true before tomorrow morning’s Season Opener between the Red Sox and Athletics. I have my alarm all set up and ready to go for 6:07AM EST (which is the day before or the day after in Japan, I don’t really know) so I can watch the spectacle that is Daisuke Matsuzaka pitching in his homeland for the first time since leaving for America. While criticism of Matsuzaka was sporadic and easy for the Boston media, it was believed it would take a year for the finest Japanese importation since Toyota, to get comfortable in his new digs. This season it is believed that he should not only be more comfortable in the American League East, but he should also be more productive. His ERA last season (4.40) was about a point more than people expected going into the season, but his wins were just about on track. Take this quote from Jayson Stark of ESPN.com and you kind of see how the first 5 months of Dicek’s season went:

Matsuzaka's record is 13-9. In games where he gets "normal" support or better, however, he's 11-3. If he'd gotten four runs of support in his CUS games (while he was out there) instead of one or none, he'd be 17-4.

Daisuke has proved while he has been in Boston that he’s all about winning and helping the team do that, perhaps his lack of wins put him in a bad place for the last part of the season. As we remember after his loss in the ALCS against Cleveland he was seen in the Boston club house after the game shocked and humbled. This trip could be just the thing to bring him back to where he needs to be going into this season.

Matsuzaka is to Japanese sports fans as Michael Jordan is to American sports fans, it’s that simple. Even in America he is raising his mythological Legend to new heights. He won the Japanese Baseball tournament in one of the most heroic performances in memory at age 17, dominated the pro ranks and then was named the MVP of the Inaugural World Baseball Classic. In his first season in the Major Leagues, even though he lost out on the Rookie of the Year award, he did win game 7 of the ALCS and game 3 of the World Series and got a World Series Championship ring in his first season.

Now he returns to his country, and yes I mean HIS COUNTRY, as the prodigal son gloriously returning home. It reminds me of the movie Mystery, Alaska, when Hank Azaria comes home to Mystery and says he’s bringing the New York Rangers to play the local team. It has that type of feel to it, except in this case Matsuzaka is going to be pitching, the people love him and he doesn’t skate like a ……well rent the movie. Because of the expectations of him this season, the fact that it’s a regular season game and kind of a novelty. I will be setting the alarm to wake up for this one; hopefully neither Daisuke nor I hit the snooze button.

~Sterling Pingree

2008 MLB Standings Predictions.

AL East:

1. Boston
2. Toronto
3. New York
4. Tampa Bay
5. Baltimore

AL Central:

1. Detroit
2. Cleveland
3. Minnesota
4. Chicago
5. Kansas City

AL West

1. Los Angeles
2. Seattle
3. Oakland
4. Texas

AL Wildcard: Cleveland

NL East

1. New York
2. Philadelphia
3. Atlanta
4. Washington
5. Florida

NL Central

1. Chicago
2. Cincinnati
3. Milwaukee
4. St. Louis
5. Houston
6. Pittsburgh

NL West

1. Arizona
2. Los Angeles
3. Colorado
4. San Diego
5. San Francisco

NL Wildcard: Cincinnati

Aaron Larsen

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Top 10 Stanley Cup Playoff moments part 2

#4 - Keith Primeau's game winner against Pittsburgh in the 5th overtime of game 4 in the '00 playoffs. This game lasted for more than 7 hours and it also tied the series at 2 games a piece.

#3 - Montreal wins 1o straight overtime games on the way to winning the cup in the '93 playoffs.This is one of my favorite moments for one of the NHL's most historic franchise's, The Montreal Canadiens. this moment speaks for itself. I mean 10 straight overtime wins is an NHL record.

#2 - Darren McCarty's breakaway goal against the Flyer's in the '97 finals.
Not known for his scoring, Darren McCarty had one of the best and un-likely goals of all time. this goal also helped the Red Wings to the first of their back to back titles.

#1 - Keep in mind that these have been MY top 10 moments thus far and it should be to no surprise that my number 1 moment has to do with my Detroit Red wings. coming in at the number 1 moment are my Detroit Red Wings winning back to back Stanley Cups in '97-'98. I believe it's number one because they swept both series 4 games to none beating the Flyers and the Capitals. Also the second title was very important considering that earlier the past summer after their first title, the Red Wings limo wrecked and paralyzed star defender Vladamir Konstantinov. So the Wings had heavy hearts throughout the entire '98 season and post season, dedicating it all to their fallen teammate.

~Derek Gause~

Top 10 Stanley Cup PLayoff moments part 1

In the spirit of the Stanley Cup Playoffs which start April 9th, I decided to count down my top 10 favorite playoff moments.

#10 - Mark Messier's Game 6 guaranteed victory over the New Jersey Devils in the '94 Eastern Conference Finals. With Messier's New York Rangers facing elimination he took it upon himself to guarantee a game 6 win and force a game 7. Not only did the Rangers win but they did it in style, led by Messier's hat trick to seal the deal. This game was huge since the Rangers went on to win game 7 in overtime and went on to the Stanley Cup Finals and ended a 40 year drought by winning the cup.Mark Messier

#9 - Steve Yzerman's Game 7 overtime winner against The Blues. The year was 1996 and it was the first round of the playoffs when Yzerman Blasted a shot that was heard around the hockey world. He stole the puck from Wayne Gretzky and fired a slapper top shelf from the blue that St. Louis goalie John Casey Never saw as it went off the post and in.

#8 - Bret Hulls Cup Clinching goal in game 6 against the Buffalo Sabres in the '99 Cup finals.
This goal to this day is stil being argued by Buffalo fans because back in '99 players were not allowed to score goals while being in the crease.... the case can be made that hull's foot was on the red line.Brett Hull

#7 - Jarimir Jagr's valiant effort against New Jersey in the '99 quarterfinals. Jagr had been out for most of the series but made an un-announced return to the ice at Melon Arena in game 6 and scored the game winning goal to force game 7. The Penguins ended up winning game 7 and upsetting the heavily favored Devils in the first round.

#6 - Ray Bourque finally wins Lord Stanley's cup to top off his career in the '01 finals. One of the best Defense- men of all time had always been eluded by the the Stanley Cup.Hid bruins were going nowhere fast until Boston did him a favor and traded him to the cup favorite Colorado Avalanche. Bourque and The Avs beat the Devils in 7 games to hep Bourque get the one thing he always wanted... The Stanley Cup.2001 Ray Bourque

#5 - Oilers make it 5 in '90. The Team of the 80's other than the New York Islanders who won four straight cups was the Edmonton Oilers who won a 5th one in 1990 by sweeping the Bruins who were the favorites going into it. This one meant the most to the Oilers since it was their first without Wayne Gretzky who was traded to the Kings 2 years earlier. The public thought the Oilers new captain Mark Messier, couldn't lead the Oilers to the promise land.stanley cup

~Derek Gause~

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Professional Sports

So, Adam is making his way back onto the blog scene. It's time that I make my return and try and revive this suffering grade of mine. Professional sports is the topic of choice, which come to find out has been harder to write about than expected.
Anyways, I have always wondered to what degree professional athletes have had to push themselves over the years of their career. Obviously every professional has their natural talent, but natural talent needs refinement to go along with it. You cant take every person who can throw a baseball 90 MPH and make them a major league pitcher.
So the level of commitment has to be incredible for these people. Not only the physical aspect of the job, but also the commitment of being in a public eye all the time. I know for me personally that would be one of the biggest issues with being a professional athlete. I can honestly say that I can't stand a lot of sports fans simply because they dislike other teams and players simply because they play for a rival team. And I'm certainly not knocking on rivalries, because I understand it. I just think that people should just respect it and not make it out to be something more than what it is.
I've played sports since I was very young, and was pretty respectable. I just cant grasp the idea of being a professional. I have no idea what kind of motivation that would take (Hence the lack of motivation in my blogs). I mean these people must have had parents not only willing to shell out a ton of money so that little Alex Rodriguez could play for the Yankees, but also parents who must have pushed and pushed their kids to be the best thing around.
That kind of stuff worries me to some extent. I've seen it first hand myself and I've seen a lot of very good players burn out before they really got their shine because of things like motivation and parents who may have just pushed a little hard. So in the end I have to say that I truly respect these athletes no matter what side of the rivalry they are on.

Baseball In The Land Of The Rising Sun

Obviously, baseball is one of the biggest sports in the world. They have made it into a marketing machine, and are slowly going into different markets. But their recent move to playing games in Japan is extremely short sighted, and has a lot of flaws.

For one, the games in Japan take place at an extremely awkward time for the Sox. They play the two games against the Oakland Athletics that count towards the regular season record, then go back to the United States to play more spring training games that don't count. Not only that, but they play the games at the start of the Japanese baseball season, which many of the teams in Japan are not happy about. Bobby Valentine was one of the only people in Japan to come out and say it, but Japanese baseball is a very popular sport, and the MLB games being played there absolutely take away from the beginning of their season.

Another thing to consider is the pay. Each member of the team was supposed to get a $40,000 bonus for taking this trip, but MLB decided that only players would get the bonus, and not the coaches. That was resolved when the Sox players boycotted the games, and threatened to not go to Japan if the coaches did not receive their share. MLB caved farely quickly, giving the coaches the money they deserve.

It's great that we can promote sports from the United States and create huge fan bases in other countries, but we should ensure that we find appropriate times to do it. Until then we only create animosity between leagues, and can easily hurt the teams more than help them.

~Aaron Jackson

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Kobe Bryant and Duke

Kobe Bryant of the LA Lakers who is arguably the best currently player in the NBA said he regret not playing college basketball and not getting to participate in the NCAA tournament. He said he would have played for Coach K and the Duke Blue Devils, if he did attended college. Can you imagine how amazing Kobe would have been if he played in college (even for a year or two?) Kobe who is compared to Michael Jordan could possibly have been even a better player. There are so many what ifs as to if he could have broken a ton of collegiate records. In my opinion he easily would have been one of the top 20 players to ever play in college basketball, even if he only played for a year or two. It just is a big story that Kobe has any regrets considering this is coming from a man who scored 81 points in a single game, has 3 NBA championships already and has been on the all NBA 1st team and all NBA defensive team. He chose a path that he obviously was ready for and now all we can do is wonder what he could have accomplished if he gave college a chance.


No Bruins Love

Why is there no love in New England for the Boston Bruins? I under there not in 1st like the Red Sox, Patriots and Celtics were/are this season. Have we become so spoiled in New England that we consider it a failure if we are not in 1st place? The Bruins though have a long storied history bring part of the original six franchises in NHL history. The Bruins have gone on a 8 game point winning streak, there are tied for 6th place in the Eastern conference and have some great young talent on the team, as well as a new head coach who finally has them player his style of hockey. Things are only going to get better in Boston sports as now the Bruins are a force in Bean town.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Sprint Cup Power Rankings - Martinsville

1. Kyle Busch - Lost his power steering during the race and still managed a top-20 finish. I'll judge his performance on the first 3/4 of the race, when he had a top-6 car.

2. Kevin Harvick - It's a good thing he and Tony Stewart are friends off the track.

3. Tony Stewart - How many times has the driver of the 20 car led the most laps in a race and failed to win? Well, he's had three in a row at Bristol in the spring now, for sure.

4. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - He continues to put together strong finishes for Hendrick Motorsports, and is still the only driver with HMS in the top-12.

5. Greg Biffle - I think it's safe to say that Biffle is back, and it's not a fluke.

6. Jeff Burton - He might need to be a bit higher up, but he was also very lucky to win the race on Sunday. A win is a win, and Burton is performing well so far, though.

7. Jeff Gordon - He just couldn't get a handle on his car all day, but still salvaged an 11th place finish. The 24 team will be a handful at Martinsville in two weeks.

8. Kasey Kahne - Put together a top-10 run at Bristol, and still sits in the top-10 in the points standings.

9. Carl Edwards - It's funny to think that just two races ago, Carl Edwards was sitting at the top of the points standings, and now he's down in 16th.

10. Clint Bowyer - Bowyer & Co. appear to be back after a slow first three races to start the season.

11. Matt Kenseth - He probably wanted a better finish at Bristol, but like the 24 team, salvaged what they could of a subpar car.

12. Ryan Newman - He got caught up in a wreck while riding in the top-15 for the bulk of the afternoon. The momentum he had to start the season is no more.

Aaron Larsen

Monday, March 17, 2008

Lord Stanley's Cup

Steve Yzerman

The most prestigious and hardest trophy to win in all of sports is lord Stanley's cup. Now a lot of people will disagree with me on that statement but just look at that trophy. It's the only trophy that has the names of every player from every team that has won and hoisted the cup.

Of all the major sports Hockey may be the last on the totem pole, but the case can be made that the cup is the hardest prize to win when its all said and done. Hockey players have to go through seven games series in all four rounds unlike baseball which only goes seven after the wild card. The NBA has seven games all four rounds but the physical tole is no where near what players in the NHL go through especially when you factor in all the multiple overtime games that last until two or three in the morning. I think that the physical tole that guys in the NHL go through to claim the Stanley Cup is what separates it from the other championships in other major sports.

And how many other championship trophies can you drink your victory champagne out of? How many other trophies allows every member of the winning team from the players all the way down to the trainers.... to get to have the cup to themselves for a day to do whatever they want with it? How many other trophies require year round special supervision by the same two guys in white gloves to make sure that nothing happens to it and have to take it apart when it has to travel? It sounds ridiculous but to me it is the best and hardest to win given it's tradition.

~Derek Gause~

March "Parody" Madness

It's that time of year once again in College Basketball, that's right its time for the NCAA Tournament. March Madness never fails to disappoint every year because the tournament has its share of upsets and Cinderella teams.

Now to me I think that seeding use to matter in the tournament, but with the way things have gone in the past few years... my mind has changed completely on the subject. Yes as I mentioned before there are always upsets. Now it seems as though it's happening more often and I dare use the word parody as the reasoning behind it.

Parody is very interesting since it has basically taken over a lot of major sports over the past few years, but it's done wonders for College Basketball during tournament time. Myself along with most sports fans miss dynasties but other than the Patriots in NFL, they are a thing of the past. It's great to see the underdog team make it all the way to the final four in the tournament and face a powerhouse team like Duke or North Carolina. It makes for great Basketball and good ratings especially if that underdog team pulls of the impossible and wins against the powerhouse favorites. The best part of that is the Cinderella teams always mess up people's brackets when it comes to picking who's winning what regions. Along with who is winning the whole thing.

I like parody in the tournament because it makes everything so wide open and seeding doesn't really matter. It is nice to see a number one seed lose, just as long as its not your team. This year I'm sure the tournament will be full of surprises,but there is one question to be asked.... Who is this years George Mason?
George Mason

~Derek Gause~

Bristol Reactions and Observations

- It was a big win for Jeff Burton, who was just in the right place at the right time. That's all it takes sometimes, as he only led the final 2 laps of the race.

- All three drivers at RCR had top-5 cars, and it seemed like it was Kevin Harvick's race to lose there at the end. After bumping the 20 car, that's exactly what he did.

- You have to feel for Tony Stewart, after he led the most laps at Bristol for the third consecutive spring race. He's dominated the event, but each time has failed to win the race.

- It was a better race with the new Goodyear tire at Bristol than the last race at Bristol with the new car, and much better than the race last weekend. Good racing this time around, and a very eventful finish.

- Denny Hamlin once again has bad luck. He had a car that could have very well won the race, and he experience fuel pickup problems at the end. Sooner or later, he'll get things turned around.

- There were some very nice tributes to Dale Jarrett before the start of the race. It was sad to see him finish poorly, among a wave of mediocrity, but I'm sure his voice will be very influential in the sport for years to come.

- Bobby Labonte deserved a better result on Sunday than he got. Rumors of him switching points with Kyle Petty are absurd, in my opinion. Kyle Petty is a veteran driver who finishes poorly every weekend, and to switch points would be ridiculous for a guy, in Labonte, who continues to post solid results in the 43 car.

- It looked like Jimmie Johnson and the 48 bunch were finally gonna snap their streak of bad finishes until they spun the car and damaged their car after making contact with the 31 car. They finished 18th and maintained their 13th spot in the points standings, 7 points ahead of teammate Jeff Gordon, who experience tightness problems for the majority of the race.

- It must be a very happy day for Michael Waltrip Racing, knowing that all three of their drivers are in the top-35 in the points standings after the race yesterday.

Next up is Martinsville, a track where Hendrick Motorsports is bound to start turning things around.

Aaron Larsen

Monday, March 10, 2008

Grading the Champs

Finally I returned home last night from Fort Myers and the Red Sox Spring Training. I know I’ve been gone for a week and haven’t posted anything in that time. I didn’t want to bring the lap top down with me, for two reasons. 1 sometimes you just need to get away from the computer for a few days and 2 I like to just fly through the check points at airports with nothing but a book.
White Hat Sports put me up in the Crowne Plaza Hotel, right in the lap of luxury. These are the notes from Florida that I can publish on this website. Here are the Red Sox notes:
The team looks like a team that just won the World Series. They definitely have that swagger right now to them; even the younger guys like Pedroia and Youkilis are walking tall. I guess that's a good thing, right?
To make it up to you for no posts for more than a week, here are 1,262 words about the Red Sox in Fort Myers.

Here are some grades for guys:
Pedroia~ A- He looked good, hit some balls very hard and pretty much looked like the player that he was the second half of last season.
Youkilis~ B He looked like he did last year, took alot of walks so he appears to be in mid season form right now
Sean Casey A- He’s definitely looking better than advertised after coming over from Detroit. He went 4-6 in the two games I saw him play and hit for some power as well. I feel a ton more confident with him behind Youkilis at first than I was with Eric Hinske.

Papi and Manny~ A. Both guys looked very good. Manny is definitely looking stronger than he did last season. Even on his easy batting practice swings he was hitting the ball off the backstop of the minor league field next door. Papi is definitely moving alot better; there is a slight limp though when he jogs. Both guys are better conditioned going into this season.

Lowell ~ A- The only reason he has a minus behind his A is because he didn't get many pivotal hits in the games I saw him in. His performance in batting practice was outstanding. He put 3 straight balls into the left field bullpen, each looking like a carbon copy of the one before. Incredible to watch, Lowell should keep up his pace even with his new contract.
Ellsbury~ B He hit a couple of balls hard, had what would be a triple that bounced over for a ground rule double. Made a tremendous catch in centerfield, but also dropped an easier ball on the run two days before that. I think the lesson with him is that he's still young and young guys have lapses. Even Ellsbury.

Varitek~ A- Heading into a contract year and searching for a contract extension from the team he's looked outstanding. He hit some rockets in the two games I saw him in. One game he DH'd one he caught, he looked good as always behind the plate, and when he was at the plate he hit the ball very well. Still appears to have a couple years left in the tank.
Drew~ B+ He was always on base in each game I saw him in. He played in 2 out of the 3 games I saw this past week. He was hitting the ball hard but continuously on the ground. I think there will be improvement from him this season, if only because he is more familiar with the league. He definitely looks more comfortable in his swing and in the field.

The Pitchers
Wakefield~ A- As constant as gravity, this guy could win 17 games again this season. He's got movement on his knuckleball and was striking out the younger guys of the Dodgers, plenty of swings and misses.
Timlin~ B- He gave up a rocket of a home run but besides that looks pretty good and had good downward movement on his ball. If healthy he'll be the stalwart of the bullpen yet again
Delcarmen~ A Looked outstanding in the outing I saw him in. He appears ready to take Timlin's place as the set up man whenever Timlin decides to leave (not soon I hope). Blew his fast ball by hitters and his breaking ball looked improved.
Matsuzaka~ B+ He pitched well looked like his breaking ball was being used more as his out pitch instead of going to his fast ball when he has a batter down in the count. He still seems to let up with two outs though, as he allowed a few hits with two men down in the inning. Needs to close out innings better.

Lester~ B His problem is that he needs to limit his pitches and cut down on his walks. He was fairly wild in the outing I saw him in against the Reds, he got out of jams but eventually you want to see him cut that down. The rest of hit pitches looked crisp and he looks like he has finally 100% after his battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He looked great physically.
Okajima~ A I was skeptical going into the spring about how OKAJI was going to do coming into this season. But if his outing a few days ago is any indication there shouldn't be any type of let down this season.
Papelbon! A- The only reason there's a minus here is because of my nervousness which he caused by asking for more money. Made the whole week seem a little uneasy. I guess things are better now, but for a few moments there I was pretty worried.
Colon~ A Only time I saw him was behind the fence in the family picnic area. He looked pretty good, thick as always but not as bad as I first though he would be. Reports are that’s he’s been throwing well and could actually start the season as the 5th starter and that Buchholz might start the season in Pawtucket.

David Aardsma~ A- The bad news for Aardsma is that I had to write his first name on here so you’d know who he was. The good news is that he pitched well this spring while competing for the final bullpen slot of either Kyle Snyder or Javier Lopez. The grade is a little higher than it should be, but I gave him extra credit for signing an autograph for my mom. (On a side note, Scott Hatteburg would be teachers pet for the autographs he signed for my dad.)

Didn’t seem Julio Lugo or Coco Crisp play, both were out with injury. Lugo was supposed to start on Friday but was a late scratch with some continued tenderness in his groin. Crisp is out with a bad back and had a root canal Wednesday, though seemed to be in good spirits. Crisp’s lack of spring play here might keep him in the running in center field if only to show case him for a potential trade, which you can’t do when he doesn’t play. See Ellsbury above.
Lugo’s job appears safe; Jed Lowrie played okay, but definitely could use some more seasoning in the minor leagues. So Lugo’s job appears safe, for this season anyway.

That’s all for now, but stay tuned for updates on Josh Beckett’s back spasms and more stories of Bartolo Colon and what I saw Johnny Pesky do to an old woman in front of the Red Sox dugout.

~Sterling Pingree

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Sunnyvale Retirement Home

With two of the games greats retiring (for now) this past week, I thought it would be good to stick them in a retirement home with each other. Let's take a look.

Brett: "Warren, want to pass me the yogurt? I can't eat my toast, I lost my dentures in one of my three MVP trophies."

Warren: "I'll give you the yogurt the day you admit to me you gave Strahan the sack record by falling down."

Brett: "Look, you better pass me the yogurt, because if you don't I will throw this salt shaker as hard as I can right at your head."

Warren: "I'm not worried, it will just get intercepted before it gets to me anyway."

Brett: "Yeah, by your stomach. It would probably just go into orbit around that thing."

Warren (attempts to jump up but is stuck in his seat): "That's it Brett. Once I get out of this seat I'm going to take you and snap you like a twig."

Brett (smiling): "Or like a Twix. You're pretty good at snapping those aren't you?"

Warren (lunging forward while still stuck in the chair): "Let's see how strong those Wranglers really are Brett. When I'm done with you you won't need any Prilosec because I'm gonna be ripping your heart out."

Brett swings a chair at Sapp, narrowly missing his head.

Warren: "That play was a gay porn play. You can't even hit me with a chair."

Brett: "Hey, just because John Madden and I are close doesn't mean you can call us gay."

Warren: "You're an idiot. That's what we call a bad play on offense or defense with the Raiders."

Brett: "Wait, you played with the Raiders? When did that happen, I thought you retired after you left the Bucs? Warren...Warren?"

Warren passes out from lack of air in his chair, slumps back.

Brett (grabbing his walker): "I can't deal with this place anymore. I'm un-retiring. I'm only 63, I've still got a few good years left. Lambeau field here I come!!!"

Brett starts to stumble towards the door, slips on Warren's chicken bones from the night before, falls on the ground and is knocked out.

Troy Aikman (walks in the door): "Man, and I thought I had a problem with concussions. Oh well...ooooh look, some yogurt."

~Aaron Jackson