Thursday, June 03, 2010


It was NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman's birthday last night, and it's safe to say he enjoyed it. Not only did this close Stanley Cup Finals continue it's 1 goal margin-of-victory trend, not only was there an overtime, but the series between the 3rd and 8th largest media markets in the country is very far from over.

PHILADELPHIA 4, CHICAGO 3 (Blackhawks lead series 2-1)

This felt like a Game 7. The Flyers acted like it were Game 7. The Blackhakws acted as if it were Game 3. Niemi bailed out his teammates more than once, but Chicago was unable to consolidate the one lead they had, which only lasted 20 seconds.

Some Blackhawks had great nights. The afore-mentioned Niemi, Marian Hossa, Toews and Kane hooked up for a goal. But some Blackhawks weren't so great. Chris Pronger stifled the monstrous Dustin Byfuglien, and antagonized him into taking a stupid penalty that resulted in a power play goal.

Special teams have been one-sided in Philly's favor this series. They're 7 of 10 on the power play (yikes!), while the Blackhawks are 0 for 6 with a man advantage. You hear that and it's shocking that Chicago's up 2-1.

The Flyers were faster, made much better decisions with the puck, dominated key faceoffs, out-hit the Blackhawks, and were better at everything except perhaps goaltending. I wouldn't say Philly dominated, but how many Stanley Cup Final games are dominated by one team or another?

Chicago needs to rebound in Game 4. They don't need to win, but now neither do the Flyers. The Blackhawks need a better effort, and they need to do things like not get outshot 15-4 in the 3rd period.

Game 4 Friday night on Versus.

Photo Credit:
The Canadian Press


I rarely feel pity for professional athletes for any on-field misfortune. They're getting paid hundreds of thousands, even millions, to play a sport. Hard to shed tears for that. But I legitimately feel just awful for Armando Galarraga, who had history ripped away from him by Jim Joyce, an umpire.

We've seen too much activism from baseball umpires this season already. It's not a new phenomenon, but unless it's checked, it will continue to grow.

Instant replay isn't the answer. Unless it's limited to coaches having one and only one challenge per game. These umpires don't just need human error to be double-checked, they need their psyche's to be checked. These are egotistical control freaks that try to run the game instead of keeping it under control.

Jim Joyce should be called to New York and forced to explain to MLB why he felt that Galarraga was bobbling a ball. A ball that he seemingly caught while covering 1st base in an attempt to record the 27th out of the game.

A big pet peeve of mine is officials "pocketing the whistle" in big moments of big games, trying not to affect the outcome with a call. I believe in consistency. But that's unrealistic. And this was the 27th goddamned out of a perfect fucking game. You'd better be 10,000% sure that Galarraga bobbled the ball in order to make that judgment.

And screw the official scorer, too. The ump deemed Galarraga to bobble the ball. Which theoretically means an out would have been recorded if a player had made a routine play. Which is also known as an error. Call it E1, let Galarraga at least keep the no-hitter going. To change the official score now would be inappropriate. But screw the official scorer of this game, which was held in Detroit, so he should sympathize with Galarraga and his hometown Tigers.

To Joyce's credit, he admitted he called the play incorrectly, and apologized to Galarraga. And to Galarraga's credit, he has demonstrated nothing but class, even defending Joyce and acknowledging the apology. He knows what he did, and doesn't need any label to confirm that he threw a perfectly pitched game last night.

But still, umpires should be like driver's ed instructors. Don't try to drive the car, just keep your feet near the extra brake pedal in case things get out of hand. The egotistic umps of Major League Baseball, and also the inconsistent weakling refs of the NBA should learn from NFL and NHL officials. How is it that the two most violent sports are also the two best officiated? Because you have to be firm, but you also have to understand that you're there to help put on a show. You're not THE show.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo


Who is Daisuke Matsuzaka? Is he an Ace, or a joker? In a sequence of three starts, we've seen Pedro-esque near no-hitter. Then a walkfest. Then a solid 6.2 inning, 3 run performance. He allowed 3 hits total in two of those three starts. He allowed 10 last night. He walked 12 men in two of those three starts. He walked 0 last night. Who is this guy?

Some of the credit for Daisuke's Quality Start should go to the A's, who are 25th in runs scored, and 24th in walks. Then again, the Rays have a solid offense, and he nearly no-hit them. The Royals are 28th in walks, yet Daisuke issued 8 free passes to them (which is 5.3% of their season total of 150).

Maybe he's just pitching's version of the Bermuda Triangle. Maybe it's like L0ST and there just is no explanation. Whatever. The Sox are beating up on a bad team, and that's good news.

David Ortiz's box score line looks like a slot machine. He was 2 for 2 with 2 runs, 2 RBI and he walked 2 times. He hit his 10th double and 12th homerun of the season. Youkilis also knocked in a pair, and Pedroia had his first RBI since May 14th.

The Sox go for the sweep this afternoon at 1:35. But it might prove difficult as Tim Wakefield faces the 2-1 record and 1.88 ERA of Brett Anderson.

Photo Credit:
Getty Images