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Ramblings 06/07/2010

Posted by sportretort in nhl, Sports.
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I snapped this picture of Ryno coaching 3rd base Sunday in Des Moines.A Monday morning mish-mash….

I spent a BEAUTIFUL Sunday afternoon watching AAA baseball in Des Moines, home of the Iowa Cubs and their current head coach Ryne Sandberg. I grew up a Cub fan, and visited Wrigley Field in most summers growing up. I have seen many Cub greats play in the Friendly Confines. Santo, Banks, Reuschel, Suter, Monday, Jenkins, Beckert, Grace, Maddox. The list goes on and on. I then watched the Cubs when they visited Coors Field when I lived in Colorado for the 90’s and most of the 00’s. I guess I have seen most every Cub great play in person for the past 40+ seasons. To me, the greatest Cub of all during that time was Sandberg. His Hall of Fame Career in Chicago has cemented him as one of the best 2nd baseman to ever play the game. During his career, he combined tremendous range and skill defensively with power at the plate. A rare combination at 2nd at the time. He was a 10 time all-star, won 9 gold gloves and 7 silver slugger awards. He was the NL MVP in 1994 and was elected to the HOF in 2005. In addition, he is still the last 2nd baseman to lead his league in home runs when he topped the NL in ’90 with 40 round trippers. I have been out to the ball yard a few times this season and I must admit it is still a thrill to see old #23 in Cubbie blue. My hope is to see him manage in Wrigley in the future……..

The Flyers allowed 7 pucks into their net in game 5 (photo Jim McIsaac-Getty images)

The Flyers are in trouble. They dropped game 5 to the Blackhawks in Chicago to go down 2-3 in the series. Sure, the home team has won all 5 games so far, but in the 3 games played in the Madhouse on Madison, Philly has had no answer for the energy the Hawks draw from the largest, and perhaps loudest crowd in the NHL. That place gets ROCKING during the National Anthem and the Flyers find themselves down before they gain their legs. Even if they can extend the series by winning a game 6 in the City of Brotherly Love, game 7 will be back in the Windy City. The Hawks WILL win the Cup!………

What a gutsy performance by the Celtics in game 2 of the NBA Finals. After failing to show up in game 1 against the Lakers and getting waxed in LA, Boston

The Celtics rose above the Lakers Sunday, capturing game 2 and sending the series to Boston tied at a game each (photo: Ronald Martinez-Getty Images)

came out and took a big lead early in game 2. To their credit, the Lakers refused to roll over, and took a lead in the 4th quarter. Boston then closed out a 16-4 run over the last 5+ minutes to take game 2, and home court advantage, away from LA. As the series now shifts to Boston, make no mistake about it, this will be a long series. If Beantown wants to prevail over Hollywood, they can not afford to take another game off as they did in game 1……

Finally, as I flipped back and forth between the NHL and NBA games on Sunday, I was reminded of an old addage. While the seconds of the last 2 minutes of the basketball game melted slowly away, the final few minutes of the hockey game flew by. It took twice as long to play the final 2 of the Celtics-Lakers than to play the final 5 of the Flyers-Blackhawks, reminding me that if you only have 2 minutes left to live, you want it to be the last 2 minutes of an NBA game.


Golden Nuggets 05/18/2009

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It’s the biggest event in Denver since…….well, since the Rockies run to the World Series two years ago.  Make no mistake about it.  Denver is a GREAT sports town.  And the Nuggets run to the NBA Western Conference Finals has the

Carmelo Anthony (15) and Kobe Bryant (24) provide the marquee matchup in the Western Conference Final.

Carmelo Anthony (15) and Kobe Bryant (24) provide the marquee matchup in the Western Conference Final.

 Denver fan base all worked up.  The fact that the opponent in the best of seven series is the hated Los Angeles Lakers only adds fuel to the fire.  Denver has always been, and will continue to be a Broncos town, but the city’s second oldest franchise is back on the national scene, making their first appearance in a conference finals in a quarter century.

If you look at this match up on paper, the Lakers will walk away with this series.  They are bigger along the front line boasting two 7  footers in Andrew Bynam and Pau Gasol.    Nary a Nugget over 6’11”.   In addition, the Lakers won 3 of the 4 regular season encounters.  Also, the Nuggets are 2-19 all time in the Staples Center against the Lakers ( including 0-2 in the playoffs) and LA has the home court advantage in the series.  The thing about the playoffs is that they are not played on paper.

The Houston Rockets did not have a prayer, on paper, against the Lakers in the last round.  And that was before they lost their star center Yao Ming to injury in the first game of the series.  All the Rockets did is extend the Lakers to 7 games.  They played with more heart and guts than the Lakers.  And they extended a series that should have been over in 5.  And they exposed the Lakers biggest problem.  The health of Andrew Bynam.  The big center had a knee injury towards the end of the regular season, and is not close to 100% physically.  The Rockets showed the Lakers are a much different team when Bynam struggles.

Then there are the Nuggets.  Everyone will point to the match up between Nugget Carmelo Anthony and Laker Kobe

The play of Nugget Billups  (7) is the key to the series

The play of Nugget Billups (7) is the key to the series

Bryant, both teammates on the USA Olympic team.  And these two are the star among stars on their teams.  I feel, however, that this series will turn on 3 things.  First, the Nuggets are playing defense at a higher level than they have in years, and that must continue.  The Lakers are 7-0 in this years playoffs when scoring 100 points or more, and 1-4 when they fail to reach the century mark.  The Nuggets have held their playoff opponents under 100 points in six of their ten playoff games.  The Nuggets must continue to play good D.  Second,  the Nuggets must continue their hot 3 point shooting.  They hit a sizzling 37.1% from behind the line during the regular season.  They have stepped that up to 42.9% during the first two playoff rounds.  Third, the x-factor in this series will be the leadership of Chauncey Billups.  The Nuggets have not had a floor leader like this during their last four failed playoff appearances.  Billups in the first two rounds of the playoffs has averaged 22.1 points per game, is 66 0f 69 from the free throw line and,  most importantly, has dished out 73 assists while committing only 17 turn overs.

Make mine Nuggets in 6.