Friday, May 15, 2009

Sports Report

So the Jays lost their second series of the year last night. The hated Yankees took 2 out of 3, but it took a come-from-behind last night to do it in 3-2 style.

Jays are still the best team in the AL, and 2nd best to the Dodgers in the Majors. They kick off another series against the White Sox tonight, with yet another potential rookie sensation in Brett Cecil getting the start. I guess a mea culpa is in order here.

I've ragged on JP Ricciardi for years now. He's used the injuries this team has had as an excuse to keep his job for the past couple seasons, and last year seemed to get lucky with a completely untested starting rotation once you got past #2. But this year, with a rotation you couldn't pick out of a lineup, they've thrived again. It seems that every time a starter goes down, there's another quality minor leaguer to take the spot. Then guys like Tallet show that they can start as well. Sure, he might only go 6, but we kept putting Chacin out there every 5 days a few years back, and Tallet has so far been more impressive. Now, a ton of credit goes to Halladay for his leadership by example on the mound, and Arnsberg for coaching the shit out of these guys, but I've got to give props to the scouting staff, and Ricciardi, for finding this much talent and getting it into the system.

Add in a healthy lineup for the first time in years, and it's shown that JP can get the right people with a stick in place too. So perhaps I've judged him too harshly. Or perhaps he's luckier than me.


Round 3 of the NHL playoffs (the best damned playoffs in any sport, bar none) kicks off on Sunday. I've said it before, and now the pundits on the sports shows are agreeing with me - best damned playoffs in decades. THREE of the four round 2 matchups went to game 7s. The 4th went to game 6. These teams have been evenly matched, and nearly every game has been a back-and-forth affair. There have been moments never seen before - Ovechkin and Crosby going hat trick for hat trick in one game comes to mind. There have been hilight real goals and saves every single night. This has been exciting, gritty hockey, where the outcome just can't be predetermined. Chicago and Carolina have surprised on both sides, and there are two Original Six teams facing off in the west. There were almost 3 of the Original Six in roudn 3 save for a Carolina goal in overtime last night.

Carolina vs Pittsburgh - Cam Ward vs Sid Crosby. That will be the story. Carolina's got heart, and a good even spread of talent and depth and veteran leadership. They've got a solid coach in Paul Maurice (I still feel bad that he was booted out of Toronto, he had a shitty team under him that wouldn't listen), and I liked the Canes as a dark horse from the start, and would love to see the coach get his hands on the cup as fuck you to the ownership in this town. But Pittsburgh has Crosby and Malkin and Fleury in net. There's a ton of talent on that team, and I get the feeling they're just getting rolling. This will be another fantastic series. The Staal vs Staal (Eric vs Jordan) subplot will be fun too.

Chicago vs Detroit - Now THIS is a storybook series. Two Original Six teams, meaning a built-in rivalry that goes back decades. Chicago - young, raw, hungry, with a top-notch veteran goaltender. Detroit - Always aging, disciplined, gritty, dominating, and experienced with a team philosophy that is endlessly impressive. Chicago has surprised me every step of the way this season and playoffs, so I can't put it past them to upset Detroit here. They have snipers from all over the place, and if they can break down the Red Wings' discipline, they'll beat them just like the did to Vancouver. The problem is, Detrot ain't the Canucks. This is a team that is simply a machine. I can't see them breaking down and going end-to-end with Chicago. They'll stifle them, pound them, and show them how veterans play. Plus, the Red Wings have the best playoff beards in the league, and you can't put a metric on how much that will help them.

I don't want to make any calls on this round, because a repeat of Detroit-Pittsburgh from last year is just as likely as Carolina-Chicago. Any way you slice it, this is going to be a hell of a round.


KenP said...

One sided conversation:
Yeah, his name is Astin, I think.
No, not from there. I'm certain he's from Toronto.
What a Homer... :)

lightning36 said...

Hawks have been great, but hard seeing them beating the Wings ... this year.

My White Sox just got trounced by your Jays ... again. It might be a looooong baseball season for me.