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Greatest Ice Hockey Game I’ve Ever Watched [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
Mar 3rd, 2010 by Dan

The Olympic ice hockey gold medal match was a while ago (on Sunday) and it was a super-exciting game, even with its disappointing ending.

Despite owning the first seed coming into the competition, Canada was the clear favorite for the match thanks to its greater star power and skill and the added motivation of bringing home the gold on their own turf. Team USA put up a valiant effort with their squad, but just couldn’t get it done.

Canada put themselves up by one in the first period, establishing their game early when both teams were still playing extra strong, but surprisingly only added one more in the second when they had clear domination over the ice. The US squad was able to add one to their score, but were still trailing going into the third. Canada continued their domination in the third, letting up only every so often for the US squad to attack, but Team USA was unable to notch their second goal until they only had 24 seconds left thanks to an extra man on the ice.

The game was lost in the first OT when netminder Ryan Miller batted away a shot to the boards that was recovered by the Canadian offense and passed out to a strangely open Sidney Crosby who launched the puck between Miller’s legs.

Like the title says, it was the greatest hockey game I’ve ever seen, but it wasn’t without some very painful moments. The US team was definitely not as polished as the Canadians. All of our goals were a result of Roberto Luongo having an off night. He just couldn’t get his glove closed to reign in some of the rebounds and we made him pay for it. Canadian goals almost all came from sloppy US play. From Miller not properly clearing the puck in OT to the second period goal that resulted from a turnover in the corner, Team USA was just not as fundamentally sound as Canada. Worse still was our power play unit, which could barely hold the puck in Canadian territory and got maybe 4 shots on goal over three power plays.

Miller’s goaltending was fantastic as was our penalty kill, which successfully defended two (was it three? can’t remember) Canadian power plays. The offense wasn’t terrible, but they just couldn’t match the Canadian defenders.

It was a great game and it’s really got me pumped for the rest of the NHL season. Now I’m really hoping that it comes down to the Penguins and Capitals again at some point this year so that I can watch Crosby’s team get destroyed and lose their chance at the Stanley Cup.

EDIT: Totally forgot to mention! Spring Training MLB games start today! They’ve been going on in the NPB for a while now! Baseball is ALMOST BACK!

Doing Quite Well Now [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
Feb 24th, 2010 by Dan

Would it be appropriate for me to take credit for US Olympic dominance in these games thanks to my little pep talk last week? As I write this post, the US is ahead in medal count with 26 over Germany’s 23 and tied for most golds (with Germany) with 7. All we’ve got to do is hold steady and we’ve got this Olympics in the bag.

Men’s Ice Hockey made some major strides in the pool play rounds by going undefeated and even beating Team Canada earning themselves the first seed in the playoff tournament. Their first game will be against a Swiss squad they already beat pretty soundly, which means we’re more or less set for the round and to at least compete for the bronze medal. Poor Canada, who plays their first game tonight, has to beat Germany and then Russia to even have a chance at the bronze. They’ve got quite the uphill climb. I almost hope they do get to the finals to play one last time against the USA only to be crushed underneath our skates for the gold on their home turf. A guy can dream, right?

2010 Winter Olympics [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
Feb 17th, 2010 by Dan

USA! USA! USA!

The 2010 Winter Olympics are upon us, which means almost nothing to a great portion of the US population, but gets me all riled up about Team USA and Olympic gold. I’m not super big on the vast majority of the sports that are part of either Olympic games, but I am pumped for ice hockey and seeing the US win, so I’m excited anyway.

We kicked off our 2010 Olympic ice hockey campaign this afternoon with a 3-1 victory over Switzerland in what seems like a fairly easy win. Our next opponent is Norway on the 18th followed by Canada on the 21st. I have no idea how good Norway is, but I know we’ve got to look out for Canada. A loss here doesn’t mean too much (unless we lose twice), but Canada will definitely be there to dog us once pool play ends.

In other Olympic news, Canada finally went and earned themselves a gold medal in a self-hosted Olympic games, which is kind of a bummer. I’m a fan of any losing streak and I was seriously pulling for the streak to continue.

Sorry I don’t have all that much to say about the Olympics, but I haven’t seen all that much. I know that we got rocked by Team China in pairs figure skating (and that annoyed me to no end), but I haven’t been keeping tabs too well since then. As of right now we’re not even first in medal count (Germany is ahead with France trailing by one), but I know we’ll turn things around and get ourselves back on top.

Wow, A LOT Has Happened [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
Jan 6th, 2010 by Dan

I’m pretty sure that I haven’t mentioned anything about the NFL this year, which I find hilarious, considering that I use a modified football saying as my sports category. Now’s as good a time as any to talk about it, I guess, since the regular season is over. As far as the playoffs go, I’d like to see the Ravens advance to the Super Bowl, but that’s just because they’re the local team. If we’re lucky, we’ll also get to see Brett Favre face-off against the Green Bay Packers (and hopefully knock them out) too in this postseason. Beyond that, I haven’t paid enough attention to the NFL this year to really care one way or another.

While I’m talking about football, I also haven’t talked too much about the Gators, who handily won their bowl game 51-24. It was Tim Tebow’s final game for UF and I’m excited to see where he ends up in this year’s draft class.

Again, let’s keep the subject on football, only to mention that I’m actually glad that the USA is in the same pool as England for the World Cup. One victory against the Queen’s team would be enough for me to make fun of Phil for the rest of my life. If Team USA can knock them out of the World Cup, I’d die a happy man, even if they were to lose every match afterward.

Beyond that, I’ve mostly been focusing on baseball (no surprise there!) in both the USA and Japan. A lot of huge moves have gone on so far, most notable among them Matsui leaving the Yankees for the Angels, but the other big move (to me) was the whole Cliff Lee/Roy Halladay trade involving Philadelphia and Seattle (and Toronto and Oakland (I think)). After seeing Cliff Lee absolutely dominate the Yankees in the World Series, it makes nearly zero sense to see the Phillies trade him away, but Halladay should be a fully adequate (and scary) replacement for the team that will most likely top the NL East yet again. Seattle also gets their hands on one of the finest pitchers in the league which should allow Wakamatsu to make a real move against the Angels who lost a lot of pitching and some offense this off-season.

In Japanese baseball news, the Seibu Lions drafted the best pitching prospect, Yusei Kikuchi, who should be ready to start tossing for the team as early as next year. Whether or not he appears in relief in 2010 is an interesting question.

My team, the Carp, avoided picking Kikuchi to go mostly for pitching, getting some of the best talent left in the pool. Their season was looking up until they lost one of their aces, Colby Lewis, to family issues stateside. It will be interesting to see if they can actually finish this season in the top three this year as they haven’t reached a Japan Series since 1991. They’re the team most removed from their last league championship and last Japan Series victory, so they’ve got a lot of catching up to do.

Man, I miss baseball season. Hurry up April!

WBC Results [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
Mar 25th, 2009 by Dan

You’ve probably heard the saying that hindsight is 20/20 on Monday morning, so just imagine how well I can call ’em two days later on Wednesday. That’s right, it’s time for Wednesday Morning Quarterback, your weekly sports round-up.

Those of you who were already watching the tournament know that the game between Japan and Cuba ended in Japan’s favor, giving them the trip to the finals that they were looking for. Their win put them directly in the path of the US team and on schedule to be world champions for another tournament.

What happened with the US game is considered by many to be the result of terrible mismanagement. The general consensus amongst sports writers is that the US team was wrongfully being managed as if it were an All-Star team and not a tournament team. As a result, the much more seriously managed Japanese and Korean teams, whose players are far less at the mercy of the MLB, were able to destroy the US and Venezuela. Anyway, we cam close, but we just didn’t have what it takes to make it to the final.

Korea and Japan played a tense, close game of stellar baseball that tied up dramatically in the 9th thanks to a small mistake on Yu Darvish’s part. The walks and single he gave up were still salvagable in the 10th as Japan plated two, leaving it up to Darvish to get rid of the rest of the batters, which he quickly made short work of. In fact, of the last six outs on Japan’s side, five of them were Yu Darvish strikeouts. I really can’t wait to go to Japan this fall, cause I totally wanna see tihs guy pitch. Will I get a chance? Who knows, it depends on what the rotations look like, but hopefully at least one Ham Fighters game will feature the phenom. It would be really special if he were to come to the states to pitch, but, sadly, he’s always stated that he has no interest in pitching in the MLB.

Congrats Team Japan on a job well done. Hopefully we can put together a much better team and lose some of our American arrogance for the next WBC.

For now, it’s time to head full tilt into the 2009 baseball season!

Miscellany [Uncat]
Mar 19th, 2009 by Dan

Too many different things to talk about!

Cuba’s been eliminated from the WBC by Japan! It kind of bums me out. They’ll play a final seeding match against Korea to decide who plays Team USA and who plays Venezuela.

Lost was great last night. Tune in to see Sawyer absolutely ream Jack at the end of the episode. The reveal of young Ben was kind of obvious, but the best Ben-related moment was the super-startling thump on the head that Sun gave the bug-eyed freak mid-sentence with Lapidus.

I might talk about some RE5 DLC on Saturday, it seems that there’s controversy about the announcement of multiplayer that’s basically in the game, but would cost $5 to unlock. At least it’s better than talking about racism!

I leave you, my loyal readers, with a fun little Domo picture I like to call Xerox Domo:

Xerox Domo

We’re Going To Round 3! [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
Mar 18th, 2009 by Dan

You’ve probably heard the saying that hindsight is 20/20 on Monday morning, so just imagine how well I can call ’em two days later on Wednesday. That’s right, it’s time for Wednesday Morning Quarterback, your weekly sports round-up.

Tensions were running high last night as Puerto Rico was up on Team USA 5-3 at the bottom of the 9th. Team USA kept their cool and played like a team, advancing runners with steals and sacrifice flies. Team PR withered and started walking US bats, loading the bases and bringing the score up to 5-4 with disasterous cosnequences. David Wright stepped up and hit a fly ball that was not caught, allowing Team USA to plate two and win.

This evening will be the final elimination game for either Japan or Cuba. Winner will go on to play South Korea. I’m not sure who I want to win this one, both teams are really great, but Japan going to the finals allows for a more dramatic win in the finals when they lose. Cuba winning allows a fantastic, relatively unknown squad to prove their mettle. Tune in tonight at 2300 EST to see the outcome or just wait until tomorrow morning.

World Baseball Classic [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
Mar 11th, 2009 by Dan

You’ve probably heard the saying that hindsight is 20/20 on Monday morning, so just imagine how well I can call ’em two days later on Wednesday. That’s right, it’s time for Wednesday Morning Quarterback, your weekly sports round-up.

Spring approaches; the season of life, new beginnings, flowers, and, most importantly, baseball! After three years the World Baseball Classic returns to centerstage to attempt to create an event as important to the world as the World Cup. This year’s tournament does not disappoint so far.

Pool A

Strangely, the only pool to complete its games, the Asian Pool A finds itself already decided by today. Last Classic champion Japan and Olympic champion Korea make up the finalists progressing to Round 2 with China and Chinese Taipei falling to the wayside in blowouts. Meanwhile, Japan and Korea split their series, but Japan’s run differential of 14-2 gave them higher seeding in Round 2.

Pool B

A strangely composed pool, B consists of Cuba, Australia, Mexico, and South Africa. Who even knew that Australia and South Africa played baseball? The only dominant force so far is the Cuban team, which placed a dark horse second in the last WBC and has yet to lose either of their games so far. Their final opponent of the pool will be either Mexico or Australia, depending on who wins. Cuba edged a win over Australia already, 5-4, but Mexico’s chances look grim since Australia smashed them 17-7 in Game 2 of the pool.

Pool C

The most important pool’s final game will be played tonight at 1830 as a rematch of sorts between Venezuela and the USA. The last game was won by a margin of 8 in Team USA’s favor, so let’s hope America keeps the dream alive of redeeming themselves after last year’s embarrassing loss to Canada. I wouldn’t quite call them the Redeem Team just yet, but let’s hope they at least make it to the finals.

Pool D

The last pool’s seeding will be decided today strangely between Puerto Rico (not strange yet) and the Netherlands. Puerto Rico makes sense and everyone can accept that, but the Netherlands? Fueled by two bizzarely close victories over the Dominican Republic, the Dutch just can’t be ruled out as contenders. No one could have guessed that this bracket would have turned out this way.

Excitement awaits us all when Round 2 starts this Sunday!

Wednesday Morning Quarterback: The End of an Era
Aug 27th, 2008 by Dan

You’ve probably heard the saying that hindsight is 20/20 on Monday morning, so just imagine how well I can call ’em two days later on Wednesday. That’s right, it’s time for Wednesday Morning Quarterback, your weekly sports round-up.

I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to be able to talk about the official end of the NY Yankees as the dominant force in the AL East. We’ve already seen them start losing to the Red Sox over this decade as the Sox have ended their long drought and started putting together some really impressive seasons, but should this season continue in the same vein it’s been going so far, this might be the first time in a long time that the Yankees do not make the post-season. At six (SIX!) games back in the wild card race, the Yankees realistically have no chance to catch up, even though they’ve got thirty games left. The AL wild card will most likely go to the Red Sox while the AL East pennant will go to the Rays.

It’s hard to really correlate why or when these things started happening to the Yankees, but it seems to me that there are a few things that I would point to:

1. Joe Torre

Swapping Joe Torre for Joe Girardi was supposed to be the magic bullet that would right the wrongs of a team on the decline. What did it do instead? Make a team set in its ways have to learn a new management style and either modify their game to be more like Girardi’s or end up forcing Girardi to manage in a way that’s unnatural for him.

2. Lagging offense

A-Rod, Jeter, Giambi, Nady, Cano. Most, if not all of them are all-stars. They all should be performing much better than they are. Why aren’t they? It’s hard to really pinpoint or decisively say anything about where the holes are, but here are a few thoughts that could point to what’s going wrong.

A. Complacency

Win enough seasons as the Yankees (and boy were they dominant in the past ten to twenty years) and you stop thinking that you can be beat. Could it be that the Yankees, despite only making the playoffs due to the wild card last season just aren’t in the proper state of mind to win? Who would have suspected that the Rays would get so awesome and ruin the easy wild card for the Yankees?

B. Age

The Yankees aren’t exactly old hens. They’re definitely not the spring chickens that the Rays are though. Is it possible that the squad whose “experience” is so lauded is starting to hit that inflection point where experience cannot overcome the deterioration of their bodies?

None of these is really quantifiable nor do they necessarily apply over a long season where you could conceivably be able to adjust your mental state. Regardless, there is something wrong with the Yankees organization that cannot be explained by the tremendous amount of money and talent that is invested in the team.

Farewell Yankees, may you continue to be obnoxiously overrated and have disappointing seasons. Welcome to a new era for the AL East, one where there are at least three competitive teams and where you will actually have to play well to be dominant.

Extra News

Team USA wins the gold in men’s basketball!

The Phillies pull ahead of the Mets in the NL East. Marlins fail to capitalize with a loss to the Braves.

Evan Longoria on the cusp of reentering the Rays lineup.

Wednesday Morning Quarterback: Men’s Basketball, Hustling Woes, Pennant Race
Aug 20th, 2008 by Dan

You’ve probably heard the saying that hindsight is 20/20 on Monday morning, so just imagine how well I can call ’em two days later on Wednesday. That’s right, it’s time for Wednesday Morning Quarterback, your weekly sports round-up.

Basketball

Delaying my post for the day has given me the opportunity to comment on the American victory over Australia in Olympic Men’s Basketball. Many speculated that this would be the game that gave Team USA some trouble, and they were right in that respect. Team USA struggled in the first half, but a clutch three-pointer in the last few seconds of that same half put the US in a winning state of mind. Kobe and Team USA burst out with 14 straight points (nine coming from Bryant) and the rest of the game was in America’s hands.

Argentina (gold medalists from the 2004 games) and either Lithuania or Spain will be the next challenges for the Men’s team on Friday and Sunday, respectively. Let’s hope that the Redeemed Team (as the media is calling them) is able to keep the momentum going. There’s no space for error in these final matches.

B.J. Upton

The Rays have been having some problems with their star players recently, but this time it doesn’t come from injuries. There have been at least two benchings on recent memory of center fielder B.J. Upton for lack of hustle and he continues to make some very lazy and stupid mistakes. I applaud Joe Maddon, the Rays GM, for benching Upton as punishment for his indolence, but I’m not so sure that it’s having any effect. More similar incidences (although not as blatant, hence, not as punishable) have been taking place that show that Upton might just be getting petulant and not quite caring that his team’s 4.5 game lead is plenty tenuous, especially against the Red Sox. Which brings us to…

Pennant Races

AL East remains firmly, but not definitely in the hands of the Tampa Bay Rays. Strong performances against the always tough Angels in two games already have kept the Rays exactly where they want to be. They’re not quite in the clear yet, with series against the White Sox, Red Sox, and Twins remaining this season, but I can’t help but think that they could clinch the AL East for the pennant. We probably won’t be seeing a magic number for the Rays until they hit late September, but I’m excited, especially since the Crawford and Longoria injuries haven’t slowed them down.

Meanwhile, my precious Marlins sit four games back from the first place NY Mets, having dropped close games against the Cardinals and Cubs to put them so far back. The Phils sit only one game back, waiting for the inevitable meltdown of the Mets due to their piss-poor bullpen, especially with Billy Wagner’s potentially season-ending injury. All the Fish have to do to get themselves back up to speed is play well in non-league play in their series against the Giants, Cardinals, Astros, and Diamondbacks. The Giants and Astros should be easy play, but the rest should be much tougher, even though the Marlins traditionally play well against the Diamondbacks, mainly because the Diamondbacks are actually in the pennant race against the Dodgers. The rest of the series are against the Phillies, Mets, and Nationals, which make for some key, very important series over these last 5.5 weeks. If they perform well, I just might get my dream of seeing an all-Florida World Series.

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