Tag Archives: NHL

End the all-star games!

Here’s a thought, and I admit it’s not an original one … but the National Basketball Association needs to end the annual all-star game.

The same for the National Football League and the National Hockey League. End ’em! Don’t bother putting on these charades where the athletes play zero defense.

The NBA’s latest disaster this past weekend had one of the teams scoring 211 points. 211 points! What the hell?

This is preposterous! I get that the athletes don’t want to get hurt. I don’t blame them for that. I do believe that the NBA is doing a disservice to them and to the fans who show up to watch these guys perform. Same for the NFL, which too often has players going through the blocking and tackling motions. Oh, and the NHL, which often produces all-star games with scores like 12-10.

OK, that all said, Major League Baseball should continue its all-star contests, which because of the nature of the sport can produce actual competition featuring players working hard to win the game.

Perhaps the most famous — or infamous — MLB all-star moment came in 1970 when Cincinnati’s Pete Rose sought to score a run and crashed into Cleveland catcher Ray Fosse who was guarding the plate. Rose was running full tilt down the third base line. The crash injured Fosse so seriously that he never was able to play the game at a high level; the event essentially ended his playing career.

The rest of the major pro sports leagues, though, need not bother to stage these idiotic exhibitions. They aren’t worth watching.

Waiting for the escape hatch to open

I believe I understand why the current worldwide health crisis is so unprecedented and devastating in its scope.

Let me say first that I totally understand the illness and death it has caused, creating untold misery, heartache and mourning. Its victims die alone, as hospitals cannot allow loved ones near them to hold their hands, whisper their love into their ears or just to act as comforters in time of pain and peril.

The unique quality of this coronavirus pandemic rests in the absence of any escape hatch for us to get away from the onslaught of bad news we are being forced to consume from our news networks.

Professional sports? College sports? Any sort of entertainment that allows us to sit among crowds of people who are cheering at the same performance? That’s all been put on ice.

Pro basketball and hockey has been shelved. Major League Baseball’s season has been delayed until only God knows when. The Summer Olympics in Tokyo has been postponed for an entire year ‚Ķ maybe even longer than that. College football is supposed to start later this summer, but they might not kick it off until much later.

New York’s Broadway theaters are closed. Movie theaters everywhere are closed, too.

So, we’re stuck. At home. Our governor asks us to stay put. He’ll get back to us soon to tell us where we might be able to go.

Some of us are going batty looking at the same walls for weeks on end. To be honest, we’re doing OK in our home. My wife and I happen to like each other’s company; at least I can speak for myself anyway on that matter.

This pandemic, though, is unprecedented simply by virtue of all the activities it has been on the back shelf. We are waiting now for an escape hatch to open.

March Madness now becomes March Slumber

You can rest assured that I am not a college basketball fanatic who lives, dies, eats and sleeps according to the bracket I might fill out for the men’s college basketball tournament.

However, the cancellation of March Madness — the men’s and women’s tournaments — is a big, big deal.

The coronavirus pandemic has claimed a gigantic “victim” in the form of these two major sports and entertainment events.

Disneyland has closed its park in Anaheim, Calif., the NBA and the NHL have suspended their seasons until further notice; Major League Baseball has delayed its opening day for two weeks (but I’ll bet real American money it’ll last longer than that); colleges and universities are canceling “face to face” classes; school districts are closing for two weeks.

Major disruption anyone? Hmm?

Meanwhile, the Trump administration seeks to restore some semblance of order to the chaos that has enveloped the nation. Its strategy ain’t working. Donald Trump’s speech last night from the Oval Office was meant to quell the stock market turmoil, but it made matters worse; what’s more, the White House issued a “correction” two minutes after Trump’s speech to “clarify” what he had just said in announcing the travel ban from some or most of Europe ‚Ķ whatever the case may be.

So, lots of public institutions that rely on men’s and women’s basketball teams to make money for them are going to do without. Professional team owners that rake in millions every day when their teams performing against each other are watching the turnstiles remain quiet. Same for the Disney Corp.

Oh, how I wish this wasn’t happening. Wishing it, though, won’t solve this problem or end this crisis. Patience and prudence are the rule of the day ‚Ķ and likely beyond the foreseeable future.

St. Louis Blues could make history in unusual fashion

I need to stipulate that I am not a hockey fan. I don’t watch hockey matches often. I don’t know most of the teams in the National Hockey League, nor am I even aware of most of the NHL’s top players.

But … I know a little about league history, which brings me to this point: The St. Louis Blues lead the Boston Bruins three games to two in the Stanley Cup finals series and are poised to win the Cup. If they win, they will make history in a most unusual fashion. I now will explain.

The Blues came into the NHL in 1967 when the league expanded from six teams to 12. The NHL then had the horrible sense to put all the new teams into one division and all the original hockey teams into the other.

The newbies then would play their season, along with the oldies. The newbies all had losing regular-season records. The Blues were the best of a bad bunch of teams in that initial 1967-68 season.

They qualified for the Stanley Cup finals in 1968, 1969 and 1970.

The Montreal Canadiens swept the Blues in four straight games in the first two Cup finals; the Bruins scored a 4-0 sweep in 1970, which the latest time the Blues made the finals. That was 49 years ago, man!¬†Three Cup finals and the Blues were zero-for-12 in all of ’em.

The NHL finally woke up to the travesty it created with its goofy alignment after expansion, moving the Chicago Black Hawks into the newbie division for the 1970-71 season. Well, over time the new franchises got up to speed and have been quite competitive.

However, if the Blues win the Stanley Cup over the Bruins they will have erased a 49-year blot on the franchise’s record.

For that reason alone, I am pulling for the Blues to bring home the Stanley Cup and swill the beer that will fill it.

Baseball strips its all-star game of any meaning

baseball-catcher-collision

I detest major sports leagues’ all-star games.

National Hockey League all-star matches produce 14-10 results, with players refusing to check each other hard to prevent goals.

National Basketball Association all-star games routinely end in scores such as 160-152, which are the product of dunk fests and zero defense being applied.

The National Football League might produce a 42-35 result at its Pro Bowl all-star game as the players refuse to hit each other with the same ferocity they do during the regular season or postseason.

Now we have the baseball all-star game, which until this week actually meant something. The winning league gets home field advantage during the World Series. That’s a big deal, man!

Now, though, Major League Baseball has just agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement with the players union. For the next five years — the length of the new agreement — the MLB all-star game will not determine which league gets home field advantage in the World Series.

That means base runners won’t necessarily try to stretch doubles into triples, or try to score from first base on a single, or try to take out the shortstop with a hard slide into second base.

Sure, occasionally big-leaguers play some serious hardball¬†during these all-star games. Cincinnati Reds infielder Pete Rose in the 1970 all-star game? He barreled into Cleveland Indians catcher Ray Fosse at the plate, bowling Fosse over, injuring him so severely that he never recovered fully. Must’ve been an Ohio rivalry thing.

Oh well. These big-leaguers don’t want to provide further risk to injury by playing an all-star game to a result that actually means something of value to the eventual winners of the American and National League playoffs.

It was nice while it lasted.

Meet me in St. Louis …

stlouis-landmark-480x330

It took me a few minutes to digest this little bit of trivia.

Here goes …

The unluckiest and most disrespected professional sports fans in America might live in St. Louis, Mo. You might ask: Why is that?

Consider these tidbits.

The¬†city once was home to the St. Louis (football) Cardinals, which then moved to the Phoenix area in 1987, where they’ve become the Arizona Cardinals.

Then the Los Angeles Rams decided to move to St. Louis in 1994. Beginning this season, though, the Rams are moving back to LA, leaving St. Louis — once again — without an NFL team. That’s a shame. I mean, come on! The St. Louis Rams won a Super Bowl!

Where do you think the Atlanta Hawks used to be play pro basketball in the National Basketball Association? Yep. You guessed it. St. Louis, man. The St. Louis Hawks moved to Atlanta in 1968.

Let’s go way back, shall we? The¬†Browns used to play Major League Baseball in St. Louis. They moved to Baltimore in 1954 to become the Baltimore Orioles.

OK, so it’s not all gloomy for some St. Louis sports fans.

The St. Louis Cardinals have played big-league baseball since the beginning of time and the Cards’ fan base there is as loyal as any in the MLB.

The St. Louis Blues were among six franchises added to the National Hockey League in 1968 and they don’t appear to be headed anywhere.

I’m willing to bet real American money as well that if the NFL wants to put yet another team in St. Louis that the city leaders likely will jump at the opportunity.

If I were among them, though, I’d need some assurance that their fans’ hearts won’t be broken yet again.

And that, sports fans, is my contribution for the day to your glossary of useless information.

NFL Pro Bowl a joke? Well … duh!

When a professional football coaching icon tells you your all-star game is no longer worth playing, let alone watching, perhaps you ought to pay careful attention.

John Madden, the Hall of Famer who coached the Oakland Raiders into their glory years, says the NFL Pro Bowl has become a mockery. He hates it. He detests the new draft system that allows Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders to pick the teams.

http://msn.foxsports.com/buzzer/story/john-madden-rips-the-pro-bowl-012214

He’s right.

While he’s at it, he ought to level a barrage at the National Basketball Association for its all-star dunk contest and the National Hockey League for its all-star games that produce 15-12 scores.

The only all-star game worth a damn in my view is the Major League Baseball game in which the winning league — National or American — wins home-field advantage for the World Series.

The NBA all-star game features zero defense. Same for the NHL, where defensemen don’t hit anyone.

Back to the NFL. Football is a collision sport. How in players in good conscience actually seek to hit each other the way they would during the regular season? They risk serious injury. So they go through the motions and produce a game that features tepid blocking and tackling and lots of touchdowns.

These all-star games bore me to sleep.

Coach Madden is right to call out the NFL on this one.

MLB’s big dog has been hammered

Bud Selig is now officially my favorite major sports commissioner.

Roger Goodell? David Stern? Gary Bettman? Forget about it.

Major League Baseball’s top man has done the right thing by giving Alex Rodriguez — the one-time heir apparent to Barry Bonds as MLB’s so-called all-time home run king — a 211-game suspension. A-Rod is out for the rest of this season and all of 2014, depending on the outcome of his expected appeal. (I say “so-called” because Hank Aaron, whose mark Bonds surpassed, will remain the real HR king in my eyes; he belted 755 of ’em without cheating.)

http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/alex-rodriguez-suspended-through-2014-ped-use-new-york-yankees-biogenesis-080513

Indeed, now A-Rod appears headed for another “heir apparent” role as it regards Bonds: the heir to the most soiled reputation among those believed to have cheated their way into baseball’s record books.

What makes this suspension so welcome is that Selig dropped the hammer on one of the game’s biggest stars. He didn’t reserve this harsh punishment for some utility player or pinch hitter. A-Rod has more than 600 home runs, fifth-most in baseball history. He was closing in on 3,000 base hits and a bunch of other standout numbers I don’t care to discuss today.

A-Rod’s sin has been his involvement with the Biogenesis clinic and its alleged dispensing of performance-enhancing drugs, such as human growth hormones, testosterone and other banned substances. A-Rod has been implicated in all of that, apparently with a mountain of evidence to back up the allegations.

Furthermore, Selig reportedly was steamed at Rodriguez’s insistence in calling all the shots in the negotiations with the baseball front office, which Selig would not tolerate.

Selig has demonstrated some serious manliness in standing up to the game’s great players. He’s already suspended Milwaukee Brewers star Ryan Braun — who plays in Selig’s hometown — over the use of banned substances. And today, he handed out significant suspensions to a dozen other players apart from Rodriguez.

It’s that 211-game suspension that stands out, given Rodriguez’s standing among the current players and the fact that it likely means the end of the line for the star who’s approaching 40 — which makes him an “old man” in the world of big league baseball.

Major League Baseball’s commissioner is making an example of those who think they can get away with cheating — and is setting a sparkling example for other commissioners to follow.