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: Tony Parker Drops A Double-Nickel

I knew that Manu Ginobili’s injury would lead to a few more scoring opportunities for Tony Parker this year. But I don’t think anyone thought he’d be putting up 55, even if it was on the T-Wolves. The Spurs needed all of those points too, as they struggled to get by Minnesota 129-125 in double OT.

Tony Parker Eva Longoria wedding

Parker’s big night overshadowed Amare Stoudemire’s 49-point performance in Phoenix’  113-103 win over Indiana. He became the first player in 34 years to have at least 49 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, and 5 steals in a single game. He was 17-of-21 from the field. LeBron James was the third member of the 40-point club on Wednesday, putting up 41 in a 107-93 win over Chicago after showing up to the arena in a Barack Obama t-shirt. This guy who was at the game also likes Obama, and links him to another national symbol of change (remember when Derek Anderson was popular?):

Obama/Quinn fan

Ball State got to showcase its football program on national TV for the first time this season last night, pounding Northern Illinois 45-14 to go to 9-0 on the season. The Cardinals are 17th in the BCS standings right now, with three fellow BCS-busters standing in their way (Boise State, Utah, and TCU). But should the others falter and the Cards find their way into the top 12, they could still potentially get into a BCS game. They got a big lift from injured receiver Dante Love (pictured below), who was with the team for the first time since his career-ending spinal inury and took part in the coin toss. Even if the Cards miss out on the BCS party, this has been a season of unprecedented success for the school in Muncie, Indiana.

Dante Love

Now, moving on to football teams that are having the exact opposite of unprecedented success, the Raiders have decided the key to turning things around is to cut a guy they just signed to a seven-year, $70 million contract after eight games. DeAngelo Hall won’t be getting anywhere near that much money from the team due to the nature of NFL contracts, but Al Davis did have to give up second and fifth-round draft picks to acquire him from the Falcons. The SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS’ Tim Kawakami has had a hate-hate relationship going on all year with the Raiders, and he runs with yet another opportunity to unload on Davis.

• So, that Patriots cheerleader who was booted from the team for allegedly anti-Semitically marking a friend with a sharpie? She told TMZ last night that she’s not the one who drew on him, and that being a “passed-out drunk guy with a bunch of stuff written on him” was actually his Halloween costume. She also says she didn’t see any of the offensive things drawn on him. She’s still apparently out of a job, but I’m sure she’ll have a real tough time finding new employment if she walks around wearing this:

Caitlin Davis

• A 13-year-old Chelsea soccer fan was tragically killed in Rome on Monday when a tree fell on him during a thunderstorm on his way to a Champions League match, according to the DAILY MAIL. He was supposed to die in a violent clash with Milan fans when he was 34, not like this.

• The Sex Cannon may be returning to the bench as soon as this weekend. PRO FOOTBALL TALK reports that Kyle Orton thinks he might be able to play this weekend against the undefeated Titans.

• ESPN 1360 in Cincinnati quotes Carson Palmer as saying that he’s “slowly getting closer” to making a decision about whether or not he’ll play again this year. He thinks it should take him about eight more weeks. He’ll definitely know by then.

Jason Varitek had a horrible year at the plate and will be 37 in April. So, naturally, Scott Boras is asking for somewhere in the neighborhood of four years and $50 million for his services. FANHOUSE says the Sox are unlikely to offer anything close to that (wisely), and may have to part ways with their team captain.

• CBS4 in Denver says the Broncos took a day off from talking trash to reflect on the Obama election. Brandon Marshall manages to not call out Obama for his dancing style.

• Florida sophomore point guard Jai Lucas has decided to transfer, just as the season is about to get underway. Lucas, the son of ex-NBAer John Lucas, was the starter last season for the Gators and was expected to have the same role this year.

• Buried in this Ken Rosenthal piece about the baseball offseason is how the ludicrous four-year, $48 million deal Carlos Silva signed with the Mariners last year will haunt teams in negotiations this winter. Basically, any starting pitcher who can throw the ball over the plate without dying will want at least that much, since Silva’s basically the worst possible guy you can have on the mound to start a baseball game. Oliver Freaking Perez is going to end up getting $15 million a year because of this.

• This may be stretching it a bit, but baseball and softball officials believe that the election of Barack Obama might help get the two sports back into the Olympics in the future. Reps for both sports say that “anti-Americanism” was a factor in being voted out of the 2012 London games, according to ESPN.

• RAISE THE JOLLY ROGER is ecstatic that Nate McLouth won a Gold Glove. I mean, the words “Pirates” and “award” don’t usually appear in the same paragraph. But then comes the realization that by most fielding metrics, McLouth was one of the worst outfielders in all of baseball this year.

• And finally, it’s not that impressive that a jogger in Prescott, Arizona jogger ran a mile. It is impressive, however, that she ran a mile with the jaws of a rabid fox attached to her arm.

Which of these teams is going to crash the BCS party this year?

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Patriots Combing High Schools For Cheer Talent?

We knew that Bill Belichick had a personal philosophy to rely on youth in certain positions, but we hadn’t realized this had extended into an organizational philosophy as well. Therefore, we thank BUSTED COVERAGE for letting us know about the New England Patriots’ newest cheerleader, who still had a few weeks of high school eligibility before going pro.

Bill Belichick Celtics

(Attention, Mister Belichick! Please report to the office upon entering school grounds)

While BUSTED COVERAGE still hunts for a picture of the young phenom (what, not an anonymous Facebook yet?), we press forward to an interview with her where she lets us know that “… If you have jealous boyfriends or dads, you need to have a sit-down talk with them to explain about your job that there are some things they may not like.”

Patriots cheerleader calendar work

(New England Patriots calendar photo shoot: essential to any 3-4 defense)

We’re not sure what you mean, Rebecca Lewis (not pictured, by the way). It all seems wholesome and… well, cheerful. Or, at least it did until we read your entire interview. We’re pretty sure Delilah would be approached with less paranoia than a Patriots cheerleader.

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