The Eastern finals went North to Montreal, and the Canadiens answered a few big questions. Like will Cammalleri score, and will Halak stop Philly's scoring?
MONTREAL 5, PHILADELPHIA 1 (Series tied 2-1)
Cammalleri scored Montreal's first goal of the series, only 127 minutes into it. And for once, he actually got support from his mates as the Flyers yielded 38 shots, and Leighton let 5 of those slip by him. To be frank, neither team in this series impresses me. Philly showed a lot of fight in coming back from 3-0, but they got a major assist from a careless and nervous Bruins team. And the Habs beat the Caps, who have a history of choking, and the Penguins, who got nothing from the flighty Malkin. Whoever wins this series will get mauled by the Blackhawks or Sharks.
8pm: San Jose @ Chicago - Versus (Blackhawks lead series 2-0)
Friday, May 21, 2010
At the quarter post of the season, there's no team as good as the Tampa Bay Rays. 30 wins, 4.5 games ahead of every other team in baseball, 19 games over .500. They're also exciting. 2nd best offense in baseball (despite being 18th in batting average, there's a lesson there), 3rd most stolen bases, the 2nd best pitching staff in baseball (2.77 ERA, in the AL East), 3rd best Save percentage in baseball, so on and so forth.
The Rays are good, but their fans suck. Well actually, what fans they have are probably OK, it's just there aren't enough of them.
The Rays are 21st in average attendance, a mere 22,821 per game. That's only 884 more people than the Orioles draw to watch their 13-28 crime against humanity.
Then consider the cavalcade of minor league promotions the Rays stage to draw people to the crowd. Consider that most tickets are only $10 (the price of half a beer at Fenway).
The Rays have been hurt by having their home schedule thus far dominated by uninteresting teams. Kansas City, Cleveland, Baltimore, Toronto, Oakland, Seattle.
Nevertheless, this is a great team going to waste in a lousy sports town. Apart from football, and MAYBE basketball, pro sports just don't belong in Florida. And baseball certainly doesn't belong in Tampa Bay, where Yankees games draw more TV viewers in the TB Area than Rays games.
When Carl Crawford takes a bucket of cash to play for someone else, some baseball fans might moan about the poor Rays being unable to afford to keep their homegrown talent. Well you know who's to blame? Some guy in St. Petersburg who'd rather buy 10 PowerBall tickets than go to a ballgame.
It's pretty obvious by now, that Lester is the rock of the Sox' rotation. But that's not just a recent assessment. He has been for more than a season now. And unlike Beckett, who has had sporadic injuries, and has been consistently inconsistent, Lester has been reliable, even predictable. In a good way.
He was a model of efficiency last night, only needing 103 pitches to go the full 9 innings. He didn't walk anybody and he struck out 9. After a shaky April, he's settled into a typical Jon Lester groove. He's gone 7+ in 5 consecutive starts (imagine how bad the bullpen would look without that help), and he's only allowed 7 earned runs in his last 6 starts (1.44 ERA).
This is a very mediocre Red Sox team. But without Lester, it's a bad team.
Red Sox @ Phillies tonight. Lackey vs. Hamels.