|05.24.09 at 7:28 pm ET|
Thought Jonathan Papelbon and Manny Delcarmen had you in stitches last year with their “Blame it on the Rain” remake? Check out what USF and UConn did when a five-hour rain delay was forced upon them Thursday during the Big East Tournament.
For comparison, here’s the Papelbon/Delcarmen video.
Looks like USF beat them all.
|05.24.09 at 7:22 pm ET|
For the second year in a row and 16th time in NCAA lacrosse history, the second-seeded Syracuse Orange (15-2) will play in the men’s finals, with the title game set for Monday at Gillette Stadium against the fifth-seeded Cornell Big Red (13-3).
Both teams pummeled their opponents, Duke and Virginia respectively, in blowout wins at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough on Saturday. The Orange doused the Blue Devil offense in a showdown that was expected to be much closer than the final 17-7 score. Syracuse stopped the nation’s leading scoring combo of attackmen Max Quinzani and Ned Crotty by consistently piling on the goals, giving the Duke defense no chance. Orange goalie John Galloway swatted away Duke’s attempts with finesse, allowing the last Blue Devil goal with just under 12 minutes to play in the second half.
The bigger surprise of the day came at the expense of Virginia. Cornell ousted the top-seeded Cavaliers 15-6, as the UVA offense never got going. Cornell jumped to a 3-1 lead and never looked back, finishing the first half up 8-2 on the nation’s top-ranked offense and never letting up. Attackmen Chris Finn, Rob Pannell and Ryan Hurley alone could have sent Virginia packing with three goals apiece — in all, eight different Cornell players scored.
The Orange have plenty of title game experience — Syracuse has emerged victorious in its last three championship game appearances, and holds a 10-5 record overall in title games. Meanwhile, the Big Red won the first NCAA men’s lacrosse championship in 1971, but have not revisited the finals since 1988 when it lost to Syracuse 13-8.
The teams last met during the regular season on April 7, when the Orange topped the Big Red 15-10 at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse. That back-and-forth battle ended with the Orange scoring the last three goals to finish off Cornell. In that one, Orange attackmen Chris Daniello and Stephen Keogh finished with three goals apiece and Kenny Nims had six points. Big Red freshman Pannell had one goal and five assists and Cornell again saw goals from eight different players.
Cornell will have its hands full against the defending national champions, but Syracuse cannot underestimate the Big Red as Virginia seemingly did on Saturday. Cornell needs to win the ball at the X, keeping it away from the sticks of Nims and Perritt. Likewise, the scoring tandem of attackmen Pannell and Hurley along with middies Max Seibald and John Glynn need to find a way around the invisible wall that Galloway creates in the Syracuse cage in order to take the trophy from the defending national champs.
|05.23.09 at 2:03 pm ET|
Yes, for those of you who are taking the “root against a Kobe/LeBron Finals” stance, last night was a tough one. However, if you foolishly began texting each and every “Witness” you knew exactly one second too early, as the awful, Cetera-less 80′s Chicago would say, “You’re Not Alone.”
While it’s sad to see The Garden closed, you have to give credit where credit is due. It’s still not the most insane shot C’s fans have seen him take, though.
My question is this: had LeBron missed that shot do you think he still would have rushed to Craig Sager and told him how “great” a call the refs made on his fourth-quarter travel?
|05.23.09 at 2:01 pm ET|
Johan Santana and his Mets rolled into Fenway Friday night and it wasn’t long before the Dennis-Eckersley’s-new-word hit the fan.
With the Mets on top, 4-3, in the bottom of the fifth inning, Santana plunked New York beanbag Kevin Youkilis. As WEEI.com’s Alex Speier documented at the time, the location of the pitch was hardly suspect given Youkilis’ tendency of crowding the plate. Nevertheless, the Sox first baseman reacted in typical fashion– by jawing his way to first.
Santana took exception and after the game played the “I’m a gamer” card. Always a safe choice (for those not named Kellen Winslow Jr.). Youkilis, meanwhile, said that he did not think Santana was trying to hit him, and proclaimed that he was merely joking.
Regardless of location or intention, the play was certainly evocative of another heated at-bat versus a New York pitcher, and I don’t mean Scott Proctor.
MLB has restricted the circulation of the video of Joba throwing at Youk’s head twice in ’07, so this will have to suffice.
It seems that whenever we’re talking about a beaning in Boston these days, Youkilis is at the center of it. So doesn’t it come as a surprise that on the list of active leaders in HBP, Youk sits in a tie for 85th place with 47?
Among the surprising players ahead of him:
–Reed Johnson (95), who broke into the majors a year before Youk but has never played 145 games in a season, though he has come close.
– Old friend Alex Cora (81), who at the age of 33 has only reached the 145-game mark once. Youkilis has played at least 145 games every year since 2006.
–Youngsters Rickie Weeks (62) and Grady Sizemore (53), both of whom are currently just 26 years old.
|05.22.09 at 4:33 pm ET|
As the NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Final Four approaches this Memorial Day weekend at Gillette Stadium, the lacrosse fervor seems to be building. Good thing the Krafts didn’t double book the Patriots rookie training camp earlier this week with the NCAA finals like the debacle the WWE and the Denver Nuggets faced this past week at the Pepsi Center.
The tournament leading up to the finals has been full of surprises, from the 19-goal output by Virginia against last year’s National Championship runner-up Johns Hopkins to Syracuse goalie Alex Cavalieri’s unexpected start against Maryland after starter John Galloway came down with the flu. The games this weekend should be exciting, with most of the top seeds having advanced.
No. 3 Duke faces No. 2 Syracuse Saturday at noon. The Orange will try to defend their championship while taking on a revamped offense from Duke. Galloway will be back in goal to fight off the Blue Devils, who have never won an NCAA men’s lacrosse title.
No. 1 Virginia takes on No. 5 Cornell as the Big Red look for a way to stop the nation’s top-ranked offense. While all of this seems enticing, the question remains: why should Boston sports fans want to attend the games?
“I know the sport is growing quite quickly in this area,” said Syracuse head coach John Desko said. “You see more and more players from Massachusetts in rosters across the country. My brother lives in the area and his kids play so it’s a great opportunity for kids seeing and hearing about the game to come see it.”
Max Quinizani, a Duxbury, Mass. native, said Duke head coach John Danowski often asks him about Boston-are lax players to recruit.
“I think it’s great because the NCAA is all about opportunities and by having this type of venue and these teams lacrosse fans are coming from all over,” Syracuse head coach John Desko said. “Having all the finals in Baltimore every year would not help the growth of the game.”
Gillette minus the wind chill
Patriots fans are all too familiar with the chilly confines of a winter game in Foxborough — 30 degrees with a light snow fall and a wind chill making it feel as though your toes might fall off is customary for a mid-season December game. But how about tailgating in the warm sunshine of Memorial Day weekend in the parking lots behind Gillette? An enticing proposal that will be reality for thousands of fans cramming the lots this weekend to watch the top college lacrosse teams in the country battle it out on the same neighborhood as the 2002 Snow Bowl.
This gives us a chance to look at some of the worst game conditions in recent memory in Foxborough:
3. Cardinals vs Patriots 12/21/08 — Snowy, rainy Gillette in the low 30s with 18mph winds but the Pats pulled out a 47-7 victory
2. Patriots AFC Championship game 1/20/08 — Winds up to 30mph and temperatures in the low 30s again the Pats beat the Chargers 21-12
1. The 2002 Snow Bowl at old Foxboro Stadium that featured the Raiders and Patriots 1/19/01 — The tuck rule, the Vinateri FG in overtime for the 16-13 win, you know the rest
Do not fear — this weekend should shape up to be much better. Saturday will be partly cloudy with a high of 67 degrees according to weather.com for the double header Division I match up and Monday will be sunny and 70 degrees for the final. That’s more like it.
The local flair
Between the eight teams from Divisions I, II and III on the field at Gillette this weekend, 44 players have New England representing Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire. Cornell junior defender Andrew MacDonald from Longmeadow, MA (Longmeadow HS) and freshman midfielder JJ Gilbane from Rumford, RI (Providence Country Day/Deerfield Academy) are two of the Big Red’s happiest players this weekend.
MacDonald and Gilbane will have hundreds of family and friends flocking to the field at Gillette on Saturday when Cornell takes on Virginia. Yet it feels surreal for two players who grew up not far from the stadium itself.
“Actually, my first Pats game was two years ago at the AFC championship,” MacDonald said. “Our goalie Jake Myers is from California and his dad got us tickets because it was against the Chargers. We had seats on the fifty-yard line. It’s pretty awesome to come here and play on the same field as Tom (Brady).”
As a freshman, Gilbane said he was crossing his fingers Cornell would make it to the Final Four this year in hopes of playing at Gillette.
“I come to Pats games all the time with my dad, family and friends but never been on the field,” Gilbane said. “Just being here today and walking around is absolutely unbelievable experience, something I’ll never forget for the rest of my life.”
The non-defending National Champs?
The first match up of the weekend places No. 3 Duke, with no NCAA titles, against No. 2 Syracuse, with 10 NCAA National Championships, its most recent coming last year against Johns Hopkins. Yet Orange head coach John Desko says his team is not focusing on last year.
“I’ve talked to the guys from day one,” Desko said. “Everyone says we have to go out and defend your title. We’re not defending anything. We have the 2008 National Championship trophy. It’s going to be on a pedestal shortly. I told the team to put their rings in the drawer because we’re going to focus on the 2009 season and the 2009 National Championship. I didn’t want to feel like we’re defending anything. We want to climb the mountain, not stay on top of it.”
Desko’s Orange has a tall task in order with Duke’s potent offense led by Ned Crotty and Max Quinzani. Danowski reorganized Duke’s offense with the departure of last year’s senior attackers. The head coach could not have made a better move in placing Crotty, a senior, at the attack from his natural position in midfield. Crotty leads the nation in 76 points with 53 assists, while Quinzani leads the Blue Devils with 41 goals. The Orange defense will have to be on its top game to fend of the Crotty-Quinzani combo.
Speaking of Max Quinzani…
The revamped offense did Danowski well as the Blue Devils are one of the most potent offenses in the country. Twenty different players scored a goal for Duke this season with junior attackman Max Quinzani at the lead with 41 goals. Quinzani, the Duxbury native, will no doubt pose a threat for the Syracuse defense, yet he will not let you give him any credit.
“As the year’s gone on the team has built chemistry,” Quinzani said. “There are a lot of new players at new positions. A lot of games this year we’ve had eight, nine, 10 different scorers. If everyone chips in with one or two goals I think we’ll give Syracuse some trouble.”
Duke’s two wins against the top-ranked Virginia offense this season, in addition to its three wins against perennial powerhouse UNC, make the match-up even more appealing.
“None of the guys on the team have ever played Syracuse so it’s been fun for us to prepare for a team we have never played before,” Quinzani said. “When I was growing up playing lacrosse, Syracuse was a team I looked to and watched on TV. They are the most storied program in lacrosse, they won last year; we’re excited to play them.”
Quinzani hasn’t forgotten his Bay State roots down in North Carolina. When the Bruins were in the playoffs against the Hurricanes, Quinzani and his friends attended Game 3 of the series in Carolina to support the Bs.
Quinizani’s one wish? That fans filling Gillette will be sporting Duke blue and not Syracuse Orange.
A Few Extras…
Lacrosse actually does have ties to New England as “The northeastern stick, found among Iroquoian and New England tribes, is the progenitor of all present-day sticks, both in box as well as field lacrosse”.
Philips Academy, Andover (Massachusetts), Philips Exeter Academy (New Hampshire) and the Lawrenceville School (New Jersey) were the nation’s first high school teams in 1882.
A small taste of last years NCAA Finals should make no other choice than to check out this year’s games. Can Duke’s offense oust last year’s champion Syracuse? Will Cornell be able to hold off Virginia? By Monday we will know the answer.
|05.22.09 at 8:11 am ET|
With the news of Jake Peavy’s decision to nix a deal that would have sent him to the White Sox, one’s mind can’t help but wander to other instances in which players exercised either a no-trade clause or 10-5 rights.
Peavy’s refusal (which, according to WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford, would not have been a concern for the Red Sox) marks the third time since 2005 that the Padres have agreed to a trade, only to have it squashed by the player they were dealing. Phil Nevin killed a trade to the Orioles that would have landed Sidney Ponson in San Diego, and remember how close Boston was to beginning the Brian Giles era?
If early blogs are any indication, White Sox fans aren’t happy. Cubs fans can empathize if they choose to do to so, but on a much lower level. In 2003 the Cubs tried to load up for what proved to be a built-to-spill postseason run by re-acquiring Rafael Palmeiro. The slugger turned down the deal, period.
Squashed deals break a fan’s heart. However, it’s not always such a bad thing.
#1 Trade Red Sox Fans Probably Wish was Vetoed (Note: this only applies to deals that a player could have vetoed.)
RANGERS GET: Kason Gabbard, David Murphy, Engel Beltre
RED SOX GET: Eric Gagne
This was one that Sox fans were actually concerned might not happen back at the ’07 deadline. Gagne was a legitimate candidate to kill this deal for two reasons: 1) He had a “games finished” incentive in his contract that wouldn’t be reached as a set-up man; and 2) He had taken the one-year deal in Texas so he could re-establish himself as a closer for the season. The Sox eventually paid him the $2.5 million he would have gotten from the incentive and Gagne agreed to come to Boston. Then Eric Gagne in Boston happened.
The Sox brass didn’t give up much — Gabbard is now back in the Sox system, Murphy never had a place in Boston, and Beltre has yet to display an ability to get on base at a decent clip in A-ball — and they ended up getting a compensation pick (RHP Bryan Price) when Gagne left for the Brewers, but all in all, Gagne preemptively crushing this thing could have saved Yawkey Way a headache.
It’s only May and we’ve already gotten our first sniff of a blockbuster deal. The season for rumor-mongering is officially underway.
|05.21.09 at 12:36 pm ET|
Red Sox pitcher John Smoltz is set to begin his minor-league rehab assignment tonight for the Single-A Greenville Drive against the Augusta GreenJackets. The event promises to be a huge one for any number of reasons, among them:
–After 22 seasons with the Braves, Smoltz will be pitching in Georgia as a visiting player for the first time in his life. The GreenJackets, mindful of the marketing opportunity, have prominently featured the pitcher in a Braves uniform on their website.
–The start is the first of the pitcher’s official rehab assignment, meaning that the Sox now anticipate that he is within 30 days of contributing to the major-league club.
–Smoltz may have an opportunity to take a crack at the famed Augusta National Golf Course. It wouldn’t be the first time; in a recent interview about his links (not LEEInks?) passion, he estimated that he’s played Augusta five or six times, having once shot a 72 on the Masters course.
Obviously, this is a huge development in Augusta. A ballpark that drew roughly 1,200 for yesterday’s game against the Drive (which featured the Sox’ top draft pick in 2008, Casey Kelly, taking his first pro loss after allowing four runs (two earned) in five innings) will be swarmed today. The park will likely be at or near its capacity of 4,322, in a place where Smoltz remains an iconic figure.
Smoltz’ presence, in fact, is so huge that the GreenJackets have had to alter their usual Thirsty Thursday rules for Smoltz’ outing. Because the team expects “a lot more families,” according to this blurb in the Augusta Chronicle, Lake Olmstead Stadium will instead offer a “controlled Thirsty Thursday,” with sales of $1 beers for the big day restricted to the party pavilion area behind the bleachers.
One can only wonder: how would Smoltz have impacted the appearance of Rally: The King of Bling had he started on Friday?
|05.21.09 at 11:08 am ET|
So the Magic beat the Cavs in the first game of the Eastern Conference Finals? In Cleveland? (Almost as unexpected as Big Papi’s first home run of the season last night against the Blue Jays.) Predictions have run wild that Cleveland would dominate the series after sweeping both Atlanta and Detroit, and then resting for eight days while the Magic took care of the Celtics (*tear*). Is there panic in the streets of Cleveland? Will King James not get to face Kobe in the ultimate showdown? Will we cease to see the Kobe-LeBron matchup in person instead of surreal puppet theatre?
Don’t panic just yet — not that you were. The Cavs merely fell apart in the second half of last night’s game waiting for LeBron to save the day. Orlando erased a 15-point deficit entering the second half thanks to a solid performance from Dwight Howard (30 points, 13 rebounds) and the reemergence of Rashard Lewis, who scored 17 of his 22 points in the final two quarters. Lewis turned the heat on the Cavs in the second half, going 3-for-3 on 3-pointers, while Hedo Turkoglu added 15 points and 14 assists in addition to 25 points from the Magic bench.
LeBron came out with a franchise playoff record 49 points on 20-of-30 shooting, including eight assists and six rebounds — but the Cavs remained dormant, with Mo Williams’ 17 points the most help James received on the floor. Cleveland’s top-notch defense allowed the Magic to shoot 55 percent from the floor — 59 percent in the second half — while letting the game slip away. Lewis’ go-ahead 3-pointer with 15 seconds left sealed the deal 107-106 for Orlando deflating what was left of the Quicken Loans Arena fans.
Instead of looking forward to the arrival of the Lakers, the Cavs are now forced to focus on the present threat of the Magic. LeBron consoled himself with the fact that it was only the first game of the series, but if the NBA wants its fantasy Lakers-Cavs, Kobe-LeBron matchup Cleveland needs to step up its game, because this series will not just be another sweep for the Cavs.
|05.20.09 at 9:41 pm ET|
Here is the transcript from Red Sox manager Terry Francona on Dale & Holley Wednesday afternoon:
Dale Arnold: This is a baseball philosophy question that we’ve discussed in the past but it came up again yesterday in the second inning. Mike Lowell singles, J.D. Drew walks, you’ve got Julio Lugo at the plate with runners on first and second with nobody out—do you consider bunting in that situation?
Terry Francona: Yeah but I don’t think it’s the right thhng to do. That early in the game, you’re trying to get a crooked number. If you bunt, you’re giving an out trying to score basically one run, I think we ended up scoring two anyway. The other thing is you’ve got to look at the speed you have on the bases, which we didn’t have much, and who’s coming up. We [had] George [Kottaras] coming up and [Jeff Bailey], who, although they did something good, they’re hitting eighth and ninth. So you don’t usually bunt for the bottom of your order.
|05.20.09 at 1:12 pm ET|
As Michael Vick is released from prison and looks for a new home after serving his sentence, there’s one thing on everyone’s mind. What team will take the risk and inherit the baggage of signing him?
Most seem to agree that there is a team out there who will chance their reputation on him returning to form. But who?
Bleacher Report offers one suggestion of a team that can always use some help: The NFL All-Felon Team.
John Clayton seems to think that the Patriots might be an option in his new column. “This is an example of a great organization with a head coach (Bill Belichick) who is strong enough to take a gamble on talent.”
If Vick is as serious in shaping up as he sounds, for instance, working with the Humane Society to put an end to dog fighting, it seems that his reinstatement is imminent. Clayton goes as far as saying he could be at training camp with a team in August.
With or without Vick, the Patriots are going to need all the talent they can get if they are going to live up to the hype that seems to be growing exponentially for the upcoming season.
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