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Dorsey’s Dugout- The First Edition

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Dorsey’s Dugout- The First Edition

Posted on 20 June 2014 by Nick Dorsey

 

This is the very first edition of my new weekly column that tackles all sorts of topics in the sports world today. I have opinions on all different kinds of events or sports that are going, so the new weekly column called “Dorsey’s Dugout” is where you can find my latest take on any hot topic.

There has been so much going on lately, including two of the big four sports seasons concluded with another major sporting event that comes around once every four years. So much to write about so now let the first edition of the new column kick off starting with the NBA Finals reflection.

NBA Finals

The Spurs-Heat rematch was what everyone wanted to see after the Heat miraculously came back in game six and won the series in seven games last season. It was their second championship in a row and Miami looked like the favorite to repeat. Despite being the “2-seed” in the East, everyone knew who the beast from the East truly was and were ready to see if they could three-peat against the team with the top record in the NBA during the regular season.

Last year’s finals was one to never forget with so much going on, including Danny Green’s historic three point shooting performance throughout the series and Ray Allen’s season saving three pointer from the corner. There was a bad taste that resonated with the Spurs after the loss and Tim Duncan made no secret of that before the rematch began.

Once the first two games in San Antonio came to a close with the series tied at one heading to Miami for another two games, I thought the Heat were in full control and ready to run away with the third trophy in four years. Lesson learned here, never underestimate the power of revenge.

San Antonio looked like a different team when they hit the floor in south beach. Greg Popovich outcoached Erik Spoelstra for the remaining duration of the series and fundamental basketball was at its absolute peak of excellence.

Throughout the regular season, many fans of the NBA always made the comment about how boring the Spurs were to watch. They do not have an explosive player like a LeBron James and their style of play is not all up and down the floor with flash, but this series was a display of excellent basketball all around. It was not just one player trying to get it done; it was a team effort all around.

If I were a basketball coach trying to teach the game, I would make my team watch the Spurs play from games three through five. The way the ball was moved around unselfishly and how every teammate was willing to make that extra pass, it may have been boring for some who watch the NBA, but I found it to be a beautiful display of basketball.

The Finals were won due to basketball being played fundamentally spectacular led by the winningest trio in NBA postseason history. Duncan now has his fifth ring and solidified his place in basketball history once again. In my eyes, he is the greatest power forward of all time.

How sweet was this victory for Manu Ginobli? Manu was one of the scapegoats in last year’s Finals due to his poor play, but  this year was a different story. Manu was just being Manu scoring over double-digit points in four of the five games.

There are plenty of support players that surround the long-tenured trio such as Boris Diaw, Tiago Splitter and Patty Mills. There is not a player outside of that trio that had more of an impact on the series than Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard.

It was remarkable what the 22 year old out of San Diego State accomplished this post-season. For Leonard to be that young and not full of experience in the NBA with the responsibility of guarding LeBron James one on one, it was astonishing.

When the series was tied at one, coach Popovich made it known they needed more from Leonard to take the next step in the series. With a combined 18 points in the first two games, Kawhi answered his coach’s request with three straight 20+ point performances, including a 29 point-performance in game three. Once Leonard took his game to the next level, the Heat were unable to catch up.

What came as the biggest surprise from this series besides the rise of Kawhi Leonard was how lopsided the Finals were. After a tremendous finish last season, this year could not have been more of a blowout unless Miami never captured game two.

No one could have seen a 4-1 Spurs win before the Finals began, it would have almost been deemed impossible. What we learned most from this series going forward is “teams” win championships and the Heat were not a good enough team throughout the lineup.

The Spurs starters were clicking on all cylinders and the bench came out providing a spark. On the other side of the floor, some of the Heat starters were inconsistent and struggling.

So now the off-season begins in the NBA and there are many storylines that will unfold within the next few months. Will the Spurs veterans call it a career riding out on top of the world or come back for more? Will LeBron James opt out and force us to watch another national televised “Decision” to see where he ends up? My thoughts on the James off-season will be coming later in another column. For now, the Spurs are the champions of the NBA. They are the best overall team in every possible aspect and deserved it this season.

Stanley Cup Playoffs

The NBA Finals was not the only championship series that took place during the beginning portion of the summer time. The Stanley Cup was the other major series that went on during the nights the NBA had off.

The Stanley Cup playoffs are the cream of the crop when it comes to post-season play in professional sports. There is absolutely no other major sport that can compare to what playoff hockey provides throughout its entirety.

The best way to sum up the Stanley Cup Playoffs is the following phrase that I continuously say to those who aren’t the biggest of hockey fans. It is the best playoffs in sports, playing for the best trophy in sports and commentated by the best in all of sports.

It takes so much to win the Stanley Cup and the trophy itself is a trophy unlike any other in sports. Lord Stanley continues to grow in size each season as more teams and players names are inscribed onto the trophy after each season. As for the final part of the phrase in regards to the commentating, there is nothing better in viewing sports than listening to Mike “Doc” Emrick commentate a hockey game.

Doc Emrick is a legend in the commentating world and listening to him work throughout the playoffs is more than a gift. The enthusiasm and excitement he brings to the network every night is truly spectacular. When one team in a game is down one goal with an empty net and down to its last breath, Doc Emrick calling the last two minutes or so of a game sounds similar to a horse race. It is absolutely gripping and consistently has the fans on the edge of their seats in their living rooms.

Now for the Stanley Cup playoffs that took place just recently, the team that was handed Lord Stanley on their home ice, goes down in the history books. The 2014 Los Angeles Kings are a historic hockey team that displayed resiliency that I have never seen out of a team in maybe all of sports in my short lifetime.

The Kings were 4-1 losers to the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference finals last season, so they had aspirations of getting back to that position to avenge their loss. The Kings hit a brick wall during the first round against one of their fiercest rivals.

Los Angeles was dead in the water round one to the San Jose Sharks, as they were down three games to none. After a game three loss in overtime on their home ice, the Kings were on the verge of getting swept. It was a devastating loss and their leader in goal Jonathan Quick had given up 17 goals in three games.

A moment that will forever stand out in the Kings history is Quick acknowledging his teammates on the ice telling them he will play better and everything will be ok. He was the last man off the ice for the Kings, which is unusual for a goaltender.

After giving up 17 goals in his first three games, Quick only gave up five in the next four, which gave the Kings a golden chance to recapture the series. Jonathan Quick looked like the same goaltender that won the Conn Smythe in 2012.

The rest of the team did its part and came back from a three-game deficit to win the series in game seven. The Kings became only the fourth team in the history of hockey to come back from a 3-0 deficit and win a series. This is just the first bit of history that the Kings made throughout the playoffs.

After a first series that had the Kings fans sitting uncomfortably, the second series was another roller-coaster ride. Round two Los Angeles faced their other California rival, Anaheim. It was the first time that these two had ever met in the playoffs ever.

The Kings won the first two games on the road, but then allowed the Ducks to steal both games at home. The series was at 2 all when they went back to Anaheim for game five. The Ducks won game five and the Kings went back home for game six on the verge of elimination.

Los Angeles was once again in a situation with their backs against the wall, but they did not let the pressure get to them. They went on to win the next two games to advance to the Western Conference finals. After just the first two series, the Kings were 6-0 when facing elimination. A team that kept its composure no matter the circumstance, had its chance at sweet revenge the next round against the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Blackhawks won Lord Stanley the season before and were coming into the Western conference finals with a bit more rest than the Kings. Los Angeles had their Cup hopes crushed by Chicago last season, so they wanted to return the favor.

A team that had been battle tested and always climbing their way back into series’ consistently, the Kings fought their way for a 3-1 lead over Chicago. The Kings had always had their backs against the wall, but now were in full control. They had their chances to move on, but were unable to capitalize on the golden opportunity.

Chicago had tied up the series at three a piece and had a chance to move on to the finals for a second straight season. LA was once again in a familiar situation, on the brink of elimination despite the 3-1 lead they had. Game seven of these conference finals was as good as it gets in hockey.

LA went into the third period down one goal and looked as if Chicago was on their way to another Finals appearance. With just over seven minutes left in the third frame, Marian Gaborik scored on a rebound to even the game up at four. With the game tied at four and all sixty minutes had passed, an overtime period was needed to conclude the western conference finals.

The last time a conference final needed an overtime period to decide a game seven was twenty years ago when the Rangers eliminated the New Jersey Devils. It did not take long for the series to end as Alec Martinez threw a puck to the net with traffic in front. The puck went over and in behind Corey Crawford to send the Kings to the Stanley Cup.

The Stanley Cup Finals had a similar 4-1 series victory that the NBA Finals presented us with, but the Cup finals were not lopsided like the NBA Finals was. Three out of the five games featured overtime periods, two of which were double overtimes. The Stanley cup playoffs were hard fought, but the team that deserved it the most ended up being the last team standing on the ice.

Alec Martinez scored the game winning goal that sent the Kings to the Stanley Cup and it was Martinez who ended the long journey at home in double overtime. Game five was as intense of a hockey game as there could have been with amazing performances between the pipes from both Lundqvist and Quick.

The Los Angeles Kings won on home ice and the ride was one of the most historic runs I have ever witnessed in sports. Some of the marks that the Kings made in the history book are the following: Fourth team to ever come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a series, first team to ever win three game sevens on the road on the way to a Stanley Cup, their 26th game played in one post-season ties for the most ever and their 64 playoff games played in last three seasons is an NHL record.

Watching the Kings for the duration of this past playoff run was a historic portrayal of resiliency. A team that consistently had their back against the wall with deficits in series leads and in games never quit and overcame those deficits.

Two Stanley Cup titles in the past three years begins to raise the constant discussions on whether they are on the verge of being an NHL dynasty. They are close to doing so, but will need to capture another title. For this team, winning another Cup is not too far fetched.

They have the best goalie in the world with Jonathan Quick, the best defenseman in Drew Doughty and they are deep within the corps of their forwards. The acquisition of Marian Gaborik sparked the Kings run this post-season, as he led everyone in the playoffs in goals. What an acquisition that was at the deadline.

The resiliency that was on display for the roller-coaster ride that was the Los Angeles Kings proves that there is nothing in the same league as playoff hockey. It is the hardest fought journey for the most storied trophy in sports with the top guy in the business calling the dramatic finish. I cannot wait until hockey is back for the next season. This past year was an amazing portrayal of how dramatic the Stanley Cup playoffs are year in and year out.

The Rest of the Sports World

With the NBA and NHL seasons wrapped up, there is still plenty going on in sports. The World Cup is in full blast, the NFL mini camps are about finished and the off-seasons are ahead for the other major sports. Here are some of the topics I would like to cover and my thoughts on each.

USA over Ghana

What a game it was this past Monday when the American squad finally captured three points over the arch rival Ghana. Clint Dempsey is the face of USA soccer now that Donovan was not brought back on the team and Dempsey got the nation going from the get go.

Dempsey scored just over thirty seconds into the match giving USA the one goal lead. It was an inbounds play from the sidelines and could it have been a more pretty display of futbol?

Great inbound pass, touch pass to Dempsey and an incredible individual effort the finish the play. It got the nation rocking from the start and the rest of the game had the Americans on the edge of their seat.

Ghana tied the game up near the matches end, but that was long overdue. They had dominated the game as USA just sat back and played a defensive style of game. Klinsmann’s crew failed to establish possession in the offensive side of the field consistently throughout the match and it led to a plethora of chances for Ghana.

I wrote a major piece above talking about resiliency in regards to the Kings, but the Americans had their own version of it. After giving up a goal that you could feel the devastation countrywide, USA responded with a converted corner to win the match.

Coach Klinsmann got a major win to start off the World Cup for team USA and it is a step in the right direction if they hope to make it out of the group of death. I had been on the record for bashing Klinsmann due to some off the wall comments he has made leading up to the games in Brazil, but he did an excellent job game one.

Team USA’s next match is this Sunday against Portugal. Portugal is desperate as they lost in their first game to Germany, so the Americans are going to need to bring their best effort Sunday. If they play the same way they did against Ghana, they will be wiped off the field.

NBA Draft Chatter

Joel Embiid, arguably the top talent in the NBA Draft, suffered a foot fracture and will be undergoing surgery in the near future. This injury puts the draft in a frenzy now just six days away from the night the first card is drawn.

Before the foot injury, I would say that Embiid is the best player in this draft. His potential is through the roof, especially if you watched him play at Kansas. From his first game as a Jayhawk to his last, his improvement on the floor is a worlds of difference.

He has so much room to grow as a player still, it is potentially scary how great he could be. His back injury was a concern and now the concerns grow with the foot fracture.

If I am a GM in the top five, I cannot risk taking a chance on Embiid despite the potential. His injury problems scare me away and we have seen this same theme so many times in the draft. As a Jayhawk fan, I have strong opinions on the two stars that are in this draft.

Andrew Wiggins is perceived as the man to get this year, but I am not fully on his bandwagon. Its not because he did not live up to the hype he was given during the pre-season because that was astronomical. It is because what I saw on the hardwood floor.

Wiggins has serious potential just like Embiid in some ways because Wiggin’s athleticism is top tier. When it comes to actual basketball on the floor, I saw flaws on a consistent basis.

The way teams found a way to slow down Wiggins during the season was going to a zone defense. It prevented him from using his stellar athleticism to attack the paint and get to the rim. It forced him into becoming a jump shooter and a three-point shooter. Wiggins struggled when he was forced to take jump shots because he could never get into rhythm.

Even when Wiggins got to the rim, he struggled to finish good opportunities. Where Andrew succeeded throughout his freshman year was on the defensive end. He is a good defender one on one and is a great rebounder. He often used his rebounding ability to finish second chance opportunities in the paint.

Wiggins is still extremely young and has plenty of time to grow, but I do not take him at one. I would take Parker with the first selection. The perfect situation in my eyes for Wiggins is at the third overall selection with the Sixers.

This concludes my first edition of Dorsey’s Dugout. It is my new weekly column that brings you into my corner and allows me to give out all my opinions on anything going on in sports. There is still plenty to cover going forward and will be back next week with still more to write about. Thanks for reading and I’ll be back next week.

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 09 June 2014 by Glenn Clark

Honorable Mention: Charm City Roller Girls (Saturday 6:30pm Gardens Ice House); WNBA: Phoenix Mercury @ Washington Mystics (Tuesday 7pm from Verizon Center live on Comcast SportsNet), Chicago Sky @ Washington Mystics (Friday 7pm from Verizon Center live on Comcast SportsNet), Atlanta Dream @ Washington Mystics (Sunday 4pm from Verizon Center live on Comcast SportsNet); MLL: Boston Cannons @ Chesapeake Bayhawks (Saturday 7:30pm from Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium live on CBS Sports Network); Boxing: Ruslan Provodnikov vs. Chris Algieri (Saturday 10pm from Brooklyn live on HBO)

10. Frank Caliendo (Friday & Saturday Baltimore Comedy Factory); Pablo Francisco (Thursday-Saturday Magooby’s); Nick Offerman (Friday 8pm D.A.R. Constitution Hall); Honfest (Saturday & Sunday Hampden); Ray’s Summer Days (Friday & Saturday various locations); 22 Jump Street” and “How To Train Your Dragon 2” out in theaters (Friday); Non-Stop” and “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” available on Blu-Ray/DVD (Tuesday)

Caliendo will never stop being funny. Ever.

You know what? Just some more of this.

9. Rebelution (Sunday 6:30pm Pier Six Pavilion); Brad Paisley (Thursday 5pm Merriweather Post Pavilion), Willie Nelson/Alison Krauss & Union Station (Saturday 5pm Merriweather Post Pavilion); Tim McGraw (Saturday 7pm Jiffy Lube Live); Ringo Starr (Thursday 8pm Wolf Trap); Damon Albarn (Tuesday 8pm Rams Head Live); Playing For Change (Wednesday 8pm Rams Head on Stage); Rick Springfield (Thursday 6:30pm & 9:30pm Rams Head Center Stage); Lalah Hathaway/Ruben Studdard (Thursday 8pm Howard Theatre); MS MR (Tuesday 7pm 9:30 Club), Kelis (Sunday 7pm 9:30 Club); Bacon Brothers (Saturday-Monday 7:30pm Birchmere); Buddy Guy (Tuesday 7pm State Theatre), Leon Russell (Thursday 8:30pm State Theatre); Morrissey (Tuesday 8pm Meyerhoff Symphony Hall); Jeff Tweedy (Tuesday 6:30pm Lincoln Theatre); John Prine (Friday 8pm Strathmore); O.A.R. “The Rockville EP”, Jack White “Lazaretto” and Chrissie Hynde “Stockholm” available (Tuesday)

I would pay the same price of admission to see Willie Nelson OR Alison Krauss & Union Station.

This is perhaps the most significant song/video I’ve EVER HEARD/SEEN.

John Prine is better at making songs than Manny Machado is at throwing baseball bats.

Purchase O.A.R.’s new record with your cash or I.WILL.FIND.YOU.

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Kings Will Win The Cup, But It Won’t Be Easy

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Kings Will Win The Cup, But It Won’t Be Easy

Posted on 03 June 2014 by Ed Frankovic

In a series that was the best I’ve ever seen in my lifetime, the Los Angeles Kings defeated the Chicago Blackhawks in overtime in game seven of the Western Conference Final to move on to face the New York Rangers in the Stanley Cup Final.

The Western Conference, in terms of elite teams, is clearly the better side, but the way the Rangers are gelling, this is not going to be an easy series for the Kings. New York is playing with tremendous emotion, they have excellent speed, and Henrik Lundqvist is money in the cage. Los Angeles brings size, “deep” depth at forward, and a never say die mentality.

Let’s take a look at the match-up in terms of offense, defense, goaltending, coach, and intangibles.

Offense: The Kings lead the NHL in goals for per game in the post season, at 3.48 while New York is 8th at 2.70. Los Angeles has an excellent top six crew of forwards and the bottom six is as good, if not better, than any team in the league. Coach Darryl Sutter has a talented group of players that really filled its’ biggest need with the Marian Gaborik acquisition at the trade deadline (In a related story, Kings GM Dean Lombardi is wanted on felony robbery charges in the state of Ohio). Justin Williams, after the Kings won a thrilling series with the Blackhawks, called “Gabby” the missing piece for LA. He was dead on, since adding an offensive talent like #12 allowed Sutter to balance his lineup. The Kings survived a series of 0 goals from their best offensive player, Anze Kopitar, in the Western final, so that tells you how deep this crew of Kings forwards is. Mike Richards is mostly playing on the bottom two lines, and he’s a second line center on many NHL clubs. The Kings “That 70′s line” of Tyler Toffoli, Jeff Carter, and Tanner Pearson brings speed and energy. Carter was amazing in the series against the Blackhawks and is a big reason the Kings have a chance to win their 2nd Cup in three years. New York has not scored a lot of goals and Martin St. Louis is their points leader with 13 in 20 games. Chris Kreider has come in to give New York a shot in the arm on offense and he has 10 points in 10 games. The Rangers will rely heavily on his speed and that of guys like Carl Hagelin and Matt Zuccarello. Simply put, though, the Rangers don’t score a lot of goals. Their power play is operating at a 13+% level while Los Angeles is cruising at 25+%. In addition, the Kings can throw four interchangeable lines at you while the Rangers struggle to find a fourth unit. Advantage: Heavily for the Kings.

Defense: The Rangers have a very good top four defense in Ryan McDonough, Dan Girardi, Marc Staal, and Anton Stralman. Their third pair of John Moore and Kevin Klein is solid too. New York’s deep defense allows Coach Alain Vigneualt to not worry alot about exposing one of his pairs to a major mismatch. Any of the three pairs can face high end talent. The question for New York is what pair do they put against the Kopitar line and which one gets the Carter line? I’d imagine we see 27 and 5 go against Kopitar, Gaborik and Brown while Staal and Stralman get the 70′s line, at least initially. As for the Kings, Drew Doughty is the best defensemen in the NHL and he’ll log a ton of minutes. Doughty will make some mistakes but he’ll more than make up for that with numerous “how’d he do that type of plays?” The questions, though, for LA come with the rest of their crew. The injury to Robyn Regehr has been huge and getting Willie Mitchell back in game two against Chicago was very important. Mitchell and Doughty are great penalty killers. Slava Voynov elevated his game in the Blackhawks series and along with Jake Muzzin, Alec Martinez and Matt Greene, they are key to Los Angeles’ ability to win. Will the Rangers speed be too much for those guys? Somehow the Kings were able to overcome Chicago’s speed up front, but the Rangers are likely faster. However, the Rangers forwards don’t have the high end skill like Chicago had with Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, and Patrick Sharp. The Kings, however, are one injury away from the slow footed Jeff Schultz being inserted in the lineup. Advantage: Rangers, because of their balance and depth.

Goaltending: Does it get any better than Jonathan Quick vs. Henrik Lundqvist? These are the best goalies in the NHL going head to head for Lord Stanley. Amazingly, they both play different styles. Quick is far more aggressive and moves around much more than King Henrik. Lundqvist is the ONLY goalie in the league who can pull off the “deep in the net” style that he employs. That allows him to rarely be out of position on shots. The Rangers defense knows how #30 is going to play and they are a solid defensive unit. The Rangers are 2nd in the playoffs in goals against yielding 2.25 a game while the Kings are more leaky, at 2.86 per contest (9th overall). But those stats speak more to the style of play and defense of the teams than the net minders. Los Angeles has run into issues when they turn the puck over in the neutral zone, and that has led to a lot of odd man rushes against. Sutter must limit those against a fast Rangers club. Both goalies have had strong outings and also some poor ones, mostly because the team in front of them has struggled, at times. Overall, the Rangers have been more consistent, but they haven’t played the high end talent that Los Angeles has faced in San Jose, Anaheim, and then the 2013 Cup Champion Blackhawks. Advantage: Neither team, goaltending is a dead heat.

Coaching: I was not a John Tortorella fan and when they canned the fiery bench boss and replaced him with Vigneault, I expected marked improvement from New York. Did I think it would translate into a Stanley Cup Final run? Absolutely not. But give credit to the new bench boss (and GM Glen Sather too for some “ballsy” moves behind the bench and with personnel). He managed to survive a terrible schedule early in the post season and rally from a 3-1 hole against Pittsburgh. He’s doing a super job. Sutter is in an elite coach. He maintains an even keel so his team doesn’t get too high or low emotionally and he is a master tactician. Most other coaches would be golfing by now after facing a 3-0 hole in the opening round, but Sutter, assistant coach John Stevens, and the rest of the staff found a way to turn it around, mostly by fixing their poor neutral zone play. Sutter has a keen sense of who has it rolling on a given night and who just doesn’t have it. That’s why guys will move up and down the line-up. He somehow was able to win against the Ducks with both Regehr and Mitchell out, that speaks volumes to the coaching given that that they won with a guy who played the entire season in the AHL in Schultz. Advantage: Los Angeles.

Intangibles: Ever since St. Louis’ mom passed away unexpectedly, the Rangers have been a different team. Anyone who has played hockey, at any level, knows that it is a team game that requires intensity and an emotional commitment. New York clearly has that and throw Dominic Moore’s personal situation into the mix as well. The Rangers are on a mission. On the other hand, the Kings have won three game seven’s on the road, a feat that has never been done before in NHL history. They came back from a three game hole in the first round and were down 3-2 against the Ducks and survived. They were losing 2-0 early in game seven against the Hawks and scraped out a W. One thing that favors LA is the travel schedule. While the Rangers sat for days waiting to figure out who they would play, once they finally did they had to fly cross country to California. So I think that negates any rest they received. Both teams have played a lot of hockey. Advantage: Slight edge to Kings due to home ice.

So I think this is going to be an excellent series, but it will be lower scoring. It will be hard to top the Chicago-LA Western Final, no doubt. Both teams could win this thing, especially if the Kings can’t get net presence on Lundqvist. But I think the Kings will find a way and overcome a Rangers team that seems to keep improving.

The Pick: Despite the fact that broadcaster Kenny Albert and Rangers assistant GM, Jim Schoenfeld, are some of my favorite people in hockey, it’s Los Angeles in 6.

 

 

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 26 May 2014 by Glenn Clark

Honorable Mention: WNBA-New York Liberty @ Washington Mystics (Friday 7pm from Verizon Center live on Comcast SportsNet), Los Angeles Sparks @ Washington Mystics (Sunday 4pm from Verizon Center live on Comcast SportsNet); Golf: PGA Tour the Memorial Tournament (Thursday & Friday 2:30pm live on Golf Channel Saturday 12:30pm live on Golf Channel 3pm live on CBS Sunday 12pm live on Golf Channel 3pm live on CBS. All golf from Dublin, OH), Champions Tour Principal Charity Classic (Friday 7pm Saturday & Sunday 5pm from Des Moines, IA on Golf Channel), ShopRite LPGA Classic (Friday 12pm Saturday 2:30pm Sunday 2pm from Galloway, NJ live on Golf Channel); Boxing: Carl Froch vs. George Groves (Saturday 4pm from London live on HBO)

10. Bruce Bruce (Tuesday 8pm & 10pm Rams Head on Stage); Tim Meadows (Thursday-Saturday Baltimore Comedy Factory); Artie Lange (Friday & Saturday Magooby’s Joke House); Michael McDonald (Friday-Sunday DC Improv); Maryland Craft Beer Festival (Saturday Carroll Creek Park); Great Grapes Wine & Food Festival (Saturday & Sunday Oregon Ridge Park); Taste of Three Cities (Saturday 11am M&T Bank Stadium); A Million Ways to Die in the West” and “Maleficent” out in theaters (Friday)

I never went and saw Tim Meadows’ “Ladies Man” movie because it looked terrible to me. I have to admit however this made me chuckle.

I’m not proud.

9. Luke Bryan (Friday & Saturday 7pm Jiffy Lube Live), Journey & Steve Miller Band (Sunday 6:45pm Jiffy Lube Live); Foxy Shazam (Monday 8pm Baltimore Soundstage); Manchester Orchestra (Tuesday 7:30pm Fillmore Silver Spring), Ballyhoo! (Friday 8pm Fillmore Silver Spring); Rusted Root and The Wailers (Thursday 7pm 9:30 Club), Old 97′s (Saturday 8pm 9:30 Club); T-Pain (Sunday 8pm Howard Theatre); Matisyahu (Sunday 7pm Lisner Auditorium); Neil Young “A Letter Home” available (Tuesday)

I know ZERO about Luke Bryan. So here’s Luke Bryan playing an Adele song. I have absolutely nothing else to say.

There are people whose opinions about music I respect and they enjoy Manchester Orchestra. That’s what I’ve got for you.

I consider Rhett Miller from the Old 97′s a close personal friend after we hung out in Dallas a few years ago. I have no idea how he feels about the whole thing.

Matisyahu’s show down in DC is acoustic. This might be really good.

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Caps Trades Are Steps in Right Direction, But More Are Needed

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Caps Trades Are Steps in Right Direction, But More Are Needed

Posted on 04 March 2014 by Ed Frankovic

Caps General Manager George McPhee made some good moves on Tuesday acquiring LW Dustin Penner, RW Chris Brown, D Rotislav Klesla, and a 4th round pick while dealing out a 4th round pick and LW Martin Erat.

But is it enough to put this team in the playoffs come mid April?

Right now my answer, as it was after Sunday’s painful loss to Philadelphia, is still no.

Penner, a two time Stanley Cup winner (2007 Ducks and 2012 Kings), is a big left wing that can score. He brings a dimension to the left side of the lineup that the Capitals just don’t have right now. The 6′ 4″ power forward had 11 points in 20 games with Los Angeles during their Stanley Cup run in 2012 playing a top six role. He will be expected to play in a top six position with Washington down the stretch. Penner is an unrestricted free agent and currently makes $2M. The winger, who at times has been out of shape and not motivated, should be focused on proving himself since he needs a new contract come July 1st. Simply put, for a 4th round pick, this was a good trade and a no brainer despite the fact that he is not a fast skater.

As for the Erat deal, just moving his $4.5M salary cap hit this year and next season is a bonus. The Caps do take on Klesla’s salary with the latest CBA, even though he is going directly to Hershey. The 31 year old Czech defensemen, who has split time at the NHL and AHL level this season, carries a salary cap hit of $2.975M but is an unrestricted free agent after this campaign. Klesla, a former top 5 draft pick (#4 overall in 2000 NHL Entry Draft), has struggled of late and was not happy in Phoenix (he was on waivers in the fall). He does not have good wheels, so it appears that in order for McPhee to unload his problem child in Erat, he had to take on some baggage from another club.

Brown, 23, is an interesting prospect. He had 29 goals in his first season (68 games) in the AHL in 2012-13, but he only has 14 tallies in 51 games this year. The University of Michigan product also played for the US National Under 17 and 18 teams. He’s a 3rd line type, a big right winger who can skate in an organization that is loaded on that side.

So did the Capitals help themselves today?

Yes, it wasn’t hard to do when you get Penner for a mid round draft pick and you get out from under Erat’s remaining salary cap hits for this year and next. But there are still issues with this roster. There remains an overabundance of right wingers and some gaping holes on defense. The third pair is a big problem area now so McPhee needs to either land a top 4 defenseman to bump Dmitry Orlov down to the 3rd pair or upgrade so that Connor Carrick and John Erskine aren’t every game players.

To me, it makes sense to move one of your right wingers so that you can use salary cap dollars elsewhere to improve the defense. That would likely mean Troy Brouwer or Joel Ward would need to be dealt, which would bump Tom Wilson up into an expanded role. Moves to that effect would further balance the roster and also position the Capitals to make even more changes this summer to get back to being a Stanley Cup contender.

Currently, they are a middle of the pack club hoping to climb into the playoffs and go a round or two. Let’s make no mistake about that, hockey is a business and making the playoffs has a huge impact financially. That’s why I believe McPhee, who reportedly is in the last year of his contract, is not done making moves and will do more before Wednesday’s 3 pm trade deadline.

This organization wants to badly make the playoffs. Money and likely jobs are on the line. We saw the desperation to make the post season last year when they traded Filip Forsberg for Erat and Michael Latta. It was a win now type of move that ultimately backfired. They were focused on the short term and wanted another body due to the uncertainty surrounding Brooks Laich’s injury. The truth is, they would have still been able to make the playoffs without Erat in a weak Southeast Division.

This spring, it is not as easy with the new division configuration. Somehow the Caps need to improve enough to pass either the Flyers or the Rangers, and Columbus too. Philadelphia dominated the Caps in some important puck possession statistics on Washington’s home ice last Sunday. Add in that the Capitals upcoming schedule is rated one of the hardest in the league and making the playoffs is going to be very tough.

So the Capitals improved their position today and helped their future, but it doesn’t appear to be enough to secure a playoff position.

That’s way I say to look for more moves from the Caps on Wednesday.

PROGRAMMING NOTE: I will be on with Drew Forrester on WNST 1570 AM Baltimore talking Caps hockey at 7:45 AM on Wednesday. Listen Live at WNST.NET

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Embarrassing Weekend for Caps & NHL

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Embarrassing Weekend for Caps & NHL

Posted on 19 January 2014 by Ed Frankovic

For those following along on this blog and in my recent radio session with Drew Forrester on WNST, the fact that the Capitals have lost five in a row is not a surprise to you. On Friday they were whipped 5-1 by the Columbus Blue Jackets and on Sunday night it was a 4-1 drubbing to the despised New York Rangers. Things are bad in Caps land, no doubt.

The optimists will point to some fancy stats, particularly the Caps 5v5 Close Fenwick percentage, and talk about how the Capitals puck possession statistics are at a season high. But that and a dollar might get you a cup of coffee these days. Washington is making far too many mistakes on the ice, to include the propensity to take terrible penalties.

They are like that NFL team that can pile up the yards on offense but turn the ball over several times a game, get flagged often, and have a weak defense. Yes, the Caps have the puck more than their opposition a lot lately, but when they lose it, the mishap is resulting in a biscuit in the back of their net far more often than the puck possession edge is leading to goals for them.

Outside of Alex Ovechkin and perhaps John Carlson, there aren’t many guys playing well right now on this club. The defense is a shambles as Washington just doesn’t have six legit NHL blue liners. After Carlson, Karl Alzner, and Mike Green, the quality takes a severe drop. Dmitry Orlov, who made the terrible turnover that started the loss to New York just 70 seconds into the game, is trying to do too much on a disastrous pairing with Green. Both 52 and 81 have the same styles but because Washington is so weak depth wise on defense, Coach Adam Oates is practically forced to play them together because the other options are far worse.

The goaltending has had its share of ups and downs and the latest casualty of a horse being ridden too hard and long appears to be Philipp Grubauer. The rookie goalie was bad on goals two and three against the Rangers and yanked for the second straight contest. He likely will be heading back to Hershey since logically the way to go right now is with Braden Holtby and Michal Neuvirth in goal. As for Neuvirth, with a limited goalie trade market, it makes little sense to just dump the young goalie because he wants out. Neuvy has played well in his two recent games so the smart move for the Caps is to just go with the duo they planned on having all season and then decide what to do in the off season. GM George McPhee likely can’t get a good enough return to make it worth his while to move Neuvirth. Goaltending is a precious commodity (see Edmonton and Philadelphia for examples of teams with weak net minding) so for the Caps to move a good goalie who has won a playoff series and has a salary cap friendly contract would be foolish.

As for the offense, it stinks after you get past the Gr8. Part of the problem is the defense is not good at getting the puck out of their own zone but this crew of forwards lacks chemistry and the intestinal fortitude to get the greasy goals needed to be a playoff team. They also don’t defend well either. There is an over abundance of right wings and a dearth of left wingers. Martin Erat, who asked to be traded back in November, took three minor penalties on Sunday in New York, one of which cost Green a goal. The 32 year old winger, who is on the downside of his career, is not helping his trade case, at this point.

Basically, it’s a train wreck for the Caps right now and the schedule doesn’t get any easier with a home game on Tuesday against a speedy Ottawa team (2-0 vs. Caps this season) followed by five straight games on the road.

The embarrassing weekend has dropped the Capitals out of a playoff spot and if they don’t find a way to turn things around quickly, they will be in even worse shape heading into the Olympic break in early February.

Speaking of embarrassing, the NHL should have its’ tail between its’ legs after the events of Saturday night, which was “Hockey Day” in Canada.

Let’s start with the debacle in Detroit. The Los Angeles Kings had a 2-1 lead late in regulation when a Wings point shot deflected off of the stick of a Kings defensemen up in the air and hit the netting behind the goal some 20 feet up. The puck then proceeded to ricochet off of the netting and off of the back of Kings goalie Jonathan Quick and in the cage for what the zebras called on the ice the tying goal. Kings D-man Drew Doughty immediately put his hand up to signal the puck went out of play but somehow all four officials MISSED the puck hitting the netting. Then a bigger issue comes into play. Because pucks off of the netting are not reviewable the league office in Toronto could not disallow the goal because it is not in the rule book. What a joke. If the league doesn’t immediately change that rule tomorrow then they are a disgrace. The shootout loss cost LA a critical point that could decide home ice advantage for them and the Wings got two points they desperately need, but did not deserve, in a very tight Eastern Conference playoff race. Shame on you NHL for not having this scenario covered and double shame on the blind referees who missed this obvious call.

Now for the big embarrassment of the weekend, and those of you who follow the game will be not be surprised that Vancouver Coach John Tortorella was the main culprit. The stubborn and fiery coach, who has already worn out his welcome in Tampa and New York, is currently coaching a struggling Canucks team that just went 0-3 on a road trip. Flames coach Bob Hartley, the Canucks opponent on Saturday night, put a starting lineup together that was ultra tough. Calgary has been a bad team all year but their early season strong work ethic had recently waned. So Hartley rewarded a fourth line that had scored in the previous game with a start in Vancouver. So naturally, the man who seems to look for fights, Tortorella, overreacted and put his tough guys out on the ice to start the game. The result, as many have seen, was an instant line brawl right out of Slap Shot. It was a disgrace and an embarrassment to hockey. What made things even worse was Torts, after the first period was over, was caught on Hockey Night in Canada cameras trying to get at Hartley in the entrance to the Flames locker room. A major dust up occurred with Flames goalie coach and former Washington Capital Clint Malarchuk having to be restrained from going after Torts. Tortorella’s actions after the period was over are far worse than anything else because the game should never be played off of the ice. Torts crossed the line there and should be suspended for several games and fined heavily.

Those who try to say that Tortorella’s hand was forced aren’t going to get any agreement from me. If Torts had remained calm and thought his way through things he would have put out his 2nd or 3rd line to start the game. The line brawl would not have occurred and you can bet that the referees would have been watching closely at the Flames fourth unit and whistled any penalties had they come close to crossing the line. It was an avoidable situation for Tortorella but he was too busy being hard headed and trying to “man up” that he missed a chance to teach his team the right lesson about showing self discipline. Now he’s going to sit for awhile and his ability to get his club to show restraint seems to have been diminished greatly.

What an embarrassment for hockey from Tortorella, there is no other way to put it.

 

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Ride WNST Caps Puck Bus to D.C. for L.A. Kings (March 25)

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Ride WNST Caps Puck Bus to D.C. for L.A. Kings (March 25)

Posted on 16 December 2013 by WNST Trips

The 2014 WNST.net “Rock The Red” Puck Bus is back! This time, we’ll be taking a group of hockey fans from White Marsh and Catonsville down to Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, March 25 to watch the Capitals host the Los Angeles Kings in a 7:05 p.m. game.

All aboard another WNST Rock The Red Puck Bus to D.C. for another 60 minutes of old-time hockey with the Washington Capitals. Our Gunther Motorcoaches will depart from the White Marsh Mall at 4:15 p.m. with a pickup from Catonsville/UMBC I-95 Park N Ride (at Rt. 166) at 4:45 p.m.. All tickets are upper level in the Verizon Center and include a limited supply of cold beer (for those 21-and-over) en route and snacks, soft drinks and fun videos and giveaways.

We will be able to accommodate larger groups upon request and always keep groups together.

We hope you join us for a night of hockey and fun aboard the WNST Rock The Red Puck Bus to D.C.

As always, families are welcomed and encouraged to join us!

COST: $75 per person

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Here’s a look at one of our Puck Bus trips via WNSTv:

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Former Loyola star Malone new Sacramento Kings coach

Posted on 03 June 2013 by WNST Staff

Loyola Alum Mike Malone Named Sacramento Kings’ Head Coach

 

SACRAMENTO – Loyola University Maryland men’s basketball alumnus Mike Malone ’92 has been named head coach of the Sacramento Kings, the NBA Pacific Division team confirmed on Sunday and will announce Monday at a press conference.

Malone was a four-year letterwinner at point guard for the Greyhounds from 1989-1993 when he played in 107 games and started 39.

Over the course of his four years, which coincided with Loyola’s first four in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, Malone twice led the Greyhounds in assists, tallying 100 as a senior in 1992-1993 and 94 in 1989-1990.

He finished his career with 279 assists, a total that ranks 11th in school history. Malone scored 370 points, posted 79 steals and averaged 18.5 minutes per game.

After graduating from Loyola in 1994, Malone began his collegiate coaching career at Oakland (Mich.) University where he served for a year before joining Pete Gillen’s staffs at Providence College (1995-1998) and the University of Virginia (1998-1999). He was on the bench in 1997 when the Friars advanced to the NCAA Regional Final before falling to eventual NCAA Champion Arizona.

Malone then returned to the MAAC where he was an assistant at Manhattan College from 1999-2001 before making the leap to the NBA as a New York Knicks’ assistant from 2003-2005.

He then spent five seasons (2005-2010) as an assistant coach on the Lebron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers. Malone then spent the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 seasons with the New Orleans Hornets and Golden State Warriors, respectively.

Malone brings strong bloodlines to his first head-coaching job. His father, Brendan, was the head coach at the University of Rhode Island from 1984-1986, spent several seasons as an NBA assistant and head coach.

Malone is the first Loyola alumnus to become a head coach in any of the “Big 4” (NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB) sports.

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