Speed Read: Wings Denied By Ref’s Early Whistle

It might not have seemed possible a few months ago, but it appears as if Ed Hochuli has no longer made the worst officiating gaffe of the last 12 months. That honor now belongs to NHL ref Brad Watson, who probably didn’t sleep very well after the mistake he made in last night’s Red Wings-Ducks game in Anaheim.

Wings Ducks puck highlighted

(I guess Brad Watson still needs that glowing puck they used to have on FOX)

Trailing 2-1 with just over a minute left, Detroit’s Marian Hossa knocked in a loose puck that squirted free from Jonas Hiller’s pads and was sitting all by itself in the crease (as you can see above) for the apparent tying goal. But, astonishingly, Watson blew his whistle just before Hossa scored, wiping out the goal because he says he lost sight of the puck (admittedly, Watson was at a terrible angle to see where the puck was) even though the rest of the world could see the thing sitting right in the middle of the crease. The play wasn’t reviewable, and the Ducks held on for a 2-1 win to take an identical lead in the series. Wings fans are irate, but since everyone else in hockey hates Detroit the screams aren’t resonating much outside of Michigan. Here’s the full video of the play:

For what it’s worth, the announcers are right that NHL refs are required to blow the whistle as soon as they lose sight of the puck. And, while Hossa’s shot clearly goes in before the whistle sounds, the rule is that the play is dead as soon as the ref decides to blow the whistle, which is a second or so before he actually does. Procedurally, Watson did everything right. But the whole thing about not seeing a puck right there in plain sight? Yeah, he messed that up pretty bad.

Brad Watson and Islanders cheerleaders

(Hey Watson, are your eyes ever where they’re supposed to be?)

In the NBA playoffs, The Hawks hung around for a while, but eventually the Cleveland Cavs ran away and hid, making it eight straight games involving Atlanta that has ended in a blowout. LeBron accepted the MVP award from David Stern before the game, then tossed up a ho-hum 34 and 10 in a 99-72 win. The Cavs outscored the Hawks 50-28 in the second half and lead the Eastern semis 1-0.

LeBron MVP

The Nuggets also used a second-half run to take a 2-0 lead in their series with the Mavs. Carmelo Anthony and Nene each scored 25 in a 117-105 Denver victory. Dallas was one of the hottest teams down the stretch but this just looks like a bad matchup for them. They’re now 0-6 against the Nuggets this season and, including their only home loss after the All-Star break. DALLAS MORNING NEWS columnist Jean-Jacques Taylor has already declared the series over.

The Dodgers beat Arizona 3-1 last night to move to 12-0 at home this season, which is just obscene in a sport like baseball. The win tied them with the 1911 Detroit Tigers for the best home start in Major League history. Even more obscene is that L.A. won the game with Jeff Weaver on the mound. Is Scott Erickson not with the team anymore?

In the Bronx, the Red Sox pounded Joba Chamberlain for four runs before an out was recorded, and cruised to a 7-3 win, making them 5-0 against the Yankees this season. Even though Joba got roughed up early, he recovered and ended up striking out 12 batters in 5 2/3 innings. Regardless, he still had a better day than his mother.

Jason Bay

(The new Yankee killer)

• SI’s Jon Heyman says MLB is now “investigating” the pitch-tipping allegations about Alex Rodriguez. If you haven’t heard, Selena Roberts says in her book that A-Rod would let opposing batters know what pitches were coming in blowout games, with the understanding that they would return the favor later. There’s about a 0% chance that we’ll ever know what really happened. But it all seems a little far-fetched. Wouldn’t somebody notice this? And who are the other people in on this scheme?

• SPORTS RUBBISH brings us footage of a soccer team called Corinthians in Brazil celebrating a major tournament victory by setting their team captain (known only as “William”) on fire during the trophy presentation. They didn’t mean to, but I’m sure that’s of little consolation to the guy who was on fire:

• According to the INDIANAPOLIS STAR, the Titans will travel to New York Jersey in September to play…the Titans?

• Remember when the Winnipeg Jets moved to Phoenix in the late ’90s and everyone said it was crazy that they thought a hockey team would work in Arizona? Well, looks like everyone was right. The Coyotes are bankrupt and the CEO of BlackBerry wants to buy the team and move it to Ontario (the Canadian province, not the dusty city in California with an airport).

• Manchester United is going back to the Champions League final for the second straight year, after throttling Arsenal 3-1 in London. Man U scored twice in the first 11 minutes and never gave the Gunners a chance to compete. Through all of this, United is still finding time to wheel and deal, reportedly offering $127 million to Bayern Munich for French star Franck Ribery.

• The Patriots’ cheerleaders just got back from a week-long photo shoot in Aruba, where they were joined by 150 Pats fans, says the BOSTON GLOBE. The girls reportedly engaged in some beach volleyball, presumably to the delight of said 150 fans.

Pats cheerleader

• Shockingly, LeBron James is not going to be rolling around in that new Kia he got for winning the MVP, choosing to donate it instead, according to CARS.COM.

• The Nats and Astros played to a tie after nearly 11 innings yesterday in D.C. and then the rain came. And everyone just shrugged and said “really, does anyone think the outcome of this game is going to matter in September?” and decided to just call it off. Well, that would be the reasonable thing to do. In reality, they will resume the game in July in Houston (but the Nats will still be the home team).

• If you offer any of the Pittsburgh Pirates a beer right now, they might punch you in the face. The Bucs have now lost to the Brewers 17 times in a row after an 8-5 decision last night. It’s the longest such streak for any two teams in almost 40 years.

Zack Greinke missed most of the 2006 season because of anxiety and depression. Three years later, he’s the AL’s pitcher of the month and one of only three pitchers in ML history to start 6-0 with an ERA of 0.50 or less (the other two are Fernando Valenzuela and Walter Johnson).

Is Zack Greinke the real deal?

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Speed Read: Pacino To Play Lasorda? Hoo-aaahh!

With the Dodgers enjoying their best season since 1988, Tommy Lasorda is enjoying a resurgence in attention. So much so, that VARIETY is reporting that a Lasorda biopic is on the “fast track for development” by Miramax. And who’s reportedly in line to play the pudgy Dodger legend? None other than the star of such critical favorites as 88 Minutes and Righteous Kill. Al Pacino has been phoning it in for the better part of a decade, so perhaps he’s looking forward to playing a part where he can just eat spaghetti all day for six months. As long as Josh Brolin plays Kirk Gibson, I’ll be happy.

Al Pacino and Tommy Lasorda

The Rays and Red Sox announced that James Shields and Daisuke Matsuzaka, respectively, will start in the first game of the ALCS on Friday night at the legendary Trop. It’s just not October without domed baseball in Florida. Speaking of the Trop — there’s finally a reason for fans to show up to games, and now they’ve gone and reduced the stadium’s capacity. Unlike other stadiums that block off sections of seats during the regular season, the Rays have elected not to take the tarp off the top third of the upper deck for the playoffs (like Florida and Oakland have done previously), and in fact now have fewer seats available because an area called the “party deck” is being used as an auxiliary media area. The park once sat more than 45,000 for baseball, but will hold only 35,041 during the ALCS.

Meanwhile, Philly is preparing to host its first LCS game since 1993. Cole Hamels will face Derek Lowe in Game 1. But people are still talking about a play from the 1977 NLCS, when the Dodgers’ Davy Lopes was called safe at first on a ground ball to the Phillies’ Larry Bowa. Bowa, who is now the third-base coach for the Dodgers, still claims Lopes was out. Lopes is now the first-base coach for the Phillies and says Bowa should get over it.

1977 NLCS

The Chris Duhon era got off to a rousing start last night for the Knicks, as he went 1-for-7 with seven turnovers in a New York loss to the Raptors.  His backup scored 10 points off the bench, though. They should totally give that guy a chance to play more.

The NHL season gets underway domestically this evening when the defending champion Red Wings take on the defending perennial disappointment Maple Leafs in Detroit. The pregame banner ceremony will be a little weird for the Wings’ Marian Hossa, who lost the in Cup finals as a member of the Penguins last year.

The Cubs began putting together next year’s soul-crushing club by picking up Rich Harden’s $7 million option. The option was exercised after a medical examination determined that Harden didn’t have any tears in his shoulder. Because, being that he’s both Rich Harden and a Cub, the exam was supposed to reveal that his shoulder is comprised solely of masking tape and dental floss.

rotator cuff

• There’s nothing like getting all fired up for your team’s big rugby match and then seeing them run out of the tunnel wearing these:

Ugly rugby uniform

And you thought the Oregon Ducks had hideous uniforms.

• PHILLY.COM says that Flyers owner Ed Snider is such a booster of the McCain campaign that he’s having Sarah Palin drop the puck at the team’s home opener on Saturday.

• What do you mean there’s no Flozell Adams living in Winemucca? According to the DALLAS MORNING NEWS, somebody attempted to fraudulently register the entire Cowboys starting lineup to vote in Nevada.

• Kansas is still trying to squash the “rip his f***ing head off” chant that students shout on every kickoff, with ESPN2 rolling into town this weekend. The WIZ OF ODDS says they might go as far as having Mark Mangino address the student body.

• Washington State is punting with underinflated balls and now has an architecture student on board as a backup quarterback, according to this notebook on OREGONLIVE.COM. Peter Roberts won the job in open tryouts, and coach Paul Wulff has already forgotten the kid’s name. Cougar fever is at an all-time high.

• It’s a good thing all those Olympians gave gallon-size urine samples, since WADA is now going to go back and test every sample for new-fangled drug (AP).

• WITH LEATHER alerts us to collector’s items everyone nobody is talking about: Penn State faculty trading cards!

• This article from Japan’s DAILY YOMIURI is written in English, and yet is completely unintelligible. Something about sumo cushions, and how we shouldn’t throw them. Great headline, though.

• To recap: Fort Wayne’s sports mascots are now the Mastadons, the Mad Ants, and the Tin Caps. The FORT WAYNE JOURNAL-GAZETTE informs us that the new nickname for the city’s baseball team has something to do with Johnny Appleseed. Naturally, the team’s logo is an angry apple wearing a tin can on its head.

• A guy who was skinny dipping at a University of Massachusetts football game kneed a police officer in the groin, so says the AP (via the SEATTLE P-I). Officer gets morphine, may miss two weeks. Yes, you read all that right.

What has been the biggest factor in the Rays’ success this season?

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Blog Jam: Ex-NBAer McKie Unwelcome in Town?

• DEADSPIN discovers the welcome wagon derailed, as someone doesn’t want ex-NBAer Aaron McKie moving into their posh Pennsylvania town.

Aaron McKie keep out sign

Jorge Sedano of 790 THE TICKET believes Brett Favre’s retirement ruckus has all been just a big scam on the QB’s part.

• 100& INJURY RATE thinks it’s fabulous how newest Dallas Star Sean Avery responds to allegations that he’s gay - by telling a female fashion photographer that he’s “going home to jerk off to you now.”

Baron Davis is glad to be “bizzack” in L.A., but will still miss the Bay.

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