Monday, June 9, 2008

Some sporting thoughts for a sweltering Monday

It's going to hit 100 degrees in my neck of the woods today, so I'm going to try not to get riled up by politics. Let's see what's going on in the world of sports........

1) My Miami Hurricanes had their back to the wall in the NCAA Super Regionals after losing Game One of their best of three series against Arizona on Friday night (6-3), but they won Game Two with offense (14-10) and Game Three with pitching (4-2) and are heading back to the College World Series as the #1 seed. ACC rivals North Carolina and Florida State will be there waiting for them, along with perennial powerhouses such as Rice and LSU.

2) One of the least orthodox but most accomplished goaltenders in modern NHL history will be hanging up his skates today as the Detroit Red Wings have called a press conference this afternoon to announce the retirement from the NHL of Dominik "The Dominator" Hasek. I've never been a huge Hasek fan, but his body of work cannot be questioned. He is a certain first ballot Hockey Hall of Fame selection.

3) Rafael Nadal continued to show why he is the dominant clay court player of our time as he absolutely thrashed the #1 player in the world, Roger Federer, 6-1, 6-3, 6-0 in the final of the French Open. Nadal has now played 28 matches at the French Open and won every one of them. He has dominated Federer completely on clay, to the point where Federer's otherwise sublime game is reduced to a joke and a bad one at that. The irony of course is that Nadal is not really a threat to win anywhere else. Until he breaks through and wins a Major in Australia, the U.K. or U.S., I'll consider him to be a one-dimensional player.

4) The Boston Celtics are up two games to none against the Los Angeles Lakers, with Games Three, Four and (if necessary) Five scheduled for L.A. this week. You can count me as being among those who are very surprised that the Celtics are up in the series, given the way the two teams were playing coming into the Finals. Of course, Boston DID almost blow a 24-point second half lead yesterday in Game Two, as the Lakers whittled that lead all the way down to two points before the Celtics hung on for the victory. The Lakers haven't lost a game at home in the playoffs so far this season, and I think that that pattern holds true here. When the series goes back to Boston, Los Angeles will have a 3-2 series lead.

5) The Top Five and Bottom Five in Baseball right now:

1) Chicago Cubs (40-24): Yeah, they're the Cubs, so you know SOMETHING will go wrong, but they're playing very well right now. Of course, it is June, and the term "June Swoon" was invented with the Cubs in mind.
2) Boston Red Sox (40-26): No Big Papi, no problem. The Sox have so far weathered the spate of injuries which has struck the team, but how long can they keep it up?
3) Los Angeles Angels (39-25): Angeles Manager Mike Scioscia is quietly putting together a Hall of Fame resume. He already has the World Series title, and the Angels just keep racking up wins.
4) Philadelphia Philies (39-26): These are the Sillies, so they'll choke somehow, somewhere. Still, to go into Atlanta and sweep the Braves, a team that was 25-8 at home before the series, is very impressive at any point in the season.
5) Chicago White Sox (36-26): Could we be looking at Windy City World Series clash? The Pale Hose are getting the pitching and plenty of timely hitting.

1) Colorado Rockies (24-39): From the penthouse to the outhouse. Was it really just last October that the Rockies were Baseball's hottest team, going 21-1 (including sweeping seven playoff games) to get to the World Series? This year's team brings back memories of the awful Rockies teams of the late 1990s and early 2000s, though losing Matt Holliday and Troy Tulowitzki to extended stays on the DL hasn't helped.
2) Seattle Mariners (22-41): The Mariners are the #2 candidate for the title of "Most Disappointing Team". A lot of money is being spent on a team that is producing nothing but a lot of "L's".
3) Detroit Tigers (26-36): The Tigers are by far Baseball's "Most Disappointing Team". Barring a sudden turnaround, they'll finish below .500 in a season where a lot of people were picking them to win the World Series, or at least go to it.
4) Washington Nationals (25-39): Yup, that switch to the new ballpark really did wonders for the Nats, didn't it? The fact of the matter is that a bad baseball team will be a bad baseball team no matter where it plays.
5) Kansas City Royals (24-39): Remember the days when the Royals were considered to be one of Baseball's model franchises? Yeah, me neither.......

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