Crosby ‘Way More Talented Than Gretzky’? Uh, NO

Wayne Gretzky, the undisputed most dominant team sports athlete of all-time, turned 50 earlier this week.

Wayne Gretzky

(Not Great. Greatest.)

While guesting on the Dan Patrick Show today, another NHL great, Jeremy Roenick, was asked to compare Gretzky to Sidney Crosby.

Instead of the usual, reverential platitudes about both, Roenick gave an unvarnished (and much appreciated) opinion this morning that absolutely knocked me off my barstool chair.

“The era now, the players are so much better. The goaltenders are so much better. The equipment is so much more advanced, it would really hard to compare the two eras, but Gretzky was by far the smartest player but I think Sidney Crosby is definitely way more talented than Wayne.”

Bless Roenick’s heart, but no one in modern sports history was more dominant when compared to his peers than Gretzky. Save perhaps Babe Ruth in the immediate seasons after he became a full-time hitter.

As proof, the chart below shows Crosby and Gretzky compared to their peers during their best statistical seasons.

Wayne Gretzky Sidney Crosby Statistical Comparison

 (Top statistical seasons: Crosby ‘06-07, Gretzky ‘81-82)

It was tough to pick Gretzky’s best statistical season, because there were multiple years in his career that he rung up similar numbers. Crosby has led the NHL in scoring once so far in his still-young career, so his body of work is incomplete. But consider that Gretzky accrued the above numbers at age 20.


It’s folly to ascribe Gretzky’s ability to any one personal characteristic. The only evaluation you need is to look at his jaw-dropping numbers compared to the best his peers had to offer at that time to verify that he wasn’t great. No, Gretzky was the greatest. Read more…

Jefferson Jolts From Wedding, Doesn’t Tell Guests

Richard Jefferson got cold feet and decided to ditch his beautiful bride-to-be. Too bad the new Spur neglected to inform his wedding guests.

Richard Jefferson Kesha Nichols

• What’s better than $1 beers at the ballpark? How about $1 beers at the ballpark with a buxom Playboy “Hot Housewife” model?

• A British tennis coach is caught doing a little drive-by wanking near a group of 14-year-old girls.

• Nice to see Erin Andrews, Heather Graham & Kristin Cavallieri all share the same fashion sense.

• Hard to tell what looked weaker last night - President Obama’s first pitch, or the NL All-Stars’ overall play.

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That’s Not Really Sidney Crosby’s MySpace, Guys

After his Penguins’ remarkable run to the Stanley Cup, life’s probably never been better for Pittsburgh’s young phenom Sidney Crosby. If only he’d move out of Mario Lemieux’s house.

Sidney Crosby
(”Back in my day, this was what we used for a Me-Space!” “God kill me now.”)

So it seemed like a stroke of genius when his “If You See Crosby”* page on MySpace announced that he was helping raise money for a park… in Minneapolis… that was burned down… by gang members. If your BS alarm is going off like crazy, good, because it means you have a pulse.

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Speed Read: Lakers Crush Magic, TV Execs Hearts

That sound you heard in New York last night were league officials and ABC executives quietly weeping into their gin and tonics while watching Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Because what they were watching was the one thing they didn’t need: a Los Angeles Lakers blowout. For the casual fan, the 100-75 drubbing of the Orlando Magic just confirmed what they already knew, that this series is a letdown after the hype of Kobe Bryant vs. LeBron James, and the Lakers are going to crush the upstart Magic.

Kobe Bryant

Sure, it was close…for a little over a quarter. The Magic did have a five-point lead early in the second quarter, and then the roof collapsed. This is what happens when a team that relies on three-point shooting has a sub-par shooting game (going 8-for-23 from beyond the arc). Without having to fear the Magic from the outside, the Lakers could double and triple-team Dwight Howard, a form of kryptonite that even Superman couldn’t overcome, going 1-for-6 and scoring just 12 points.

Dwight Howard

So while Howard struggled, Kobe was superb, scoring 40 points while coming close to a triple-double. He had 12 points in the second quarter as the Lakers established their dominance, and was able to create opportunities for Pau Gasol and the rest of his supporting cast. And with Phil Jackson being 43-0 in series where his team wins the opening game, Magic coach Stan Van Gundy has to be sweating through his Men’s Wearhouse coat.

But if the Magic need any inspiration, they only need to look to the Stanley Cup (assuming they get Versus in central Florida). Facing a 2-0 deficit against the defending champion Detroit Red Wings, the Pittsburgh Penguins have rallied to tie the series after a 4-2 win in Game 4. Which is especially impressive since they managed to turn an early lead into a 2-1 hole in the second period, which could have easily crippled a lesser team.

Pittsburgh Penguins

And in what can only be seen as a good sign for the Penguins, Sidney Crosby had his first goal of the series, while Evgeni Malkin added a goal and an assist. So now we basically have a best-of-three series starting tomorrow night in Detroit. While the Red Wings are still probably going to win the series, at least the Penguins have made it interesting.

Randy Johnson

Finally, let’s tip our hat to Randy Johnson, who became the first pitcher since Tom Seaver in 1985 to get his 300th victory in his first attempt thanks to the Giants’ 5-1 victory over the Nationals. Thank you for sparing us of the daily update on the ESPN crawl and live game updates ruining our PBA Tour broadcasts on Wednesday nights on ESPN2. The Giants are planning a pregame celebration before their next home game to congratulate Johnson on his 300 career wins - all four of them with San Francisco.

  • The French Open women’s singles final is set, with Dinara Safina and Svetlana Kuznetsova taking each other on in an all-Russian final. In terms of eye candy, this isn’t exactly the Maria Sharapova vs. Ana Ivanovic Australian Open final from last year.
  • Dinara Safina and Svetlana Kuznetsova

  • Calvin Borel isn’t just confident that he’s going to win the Belmont Stakes on Mine That Bird to win the jockey Triple Crown, he’s guaranteeing it. (At least that’s what we think he said with molasses-thick drawl.) If he does pull this off, does this mean he gets put out to stud?
  • LeBron, here’s your slap on the wrist: the NBA fines King James $25,000 for bailing on the post-game press conference after the Cavs’ Game 6 loss to the Magic in the Eastern Conference finals. Plus, you made David Stern cry. How does that feel, LeBron.
  • You want Dontrelle Willis to succeed in his comeback with the Tigers, but then something like this happens: in 2-1/3 innings against the Red Sox yesterday, Willis gave up five runs without allowing a hit, walking five and hitting a batter.
  • Just when you thought that it couldn’t get worse for the New York Mets than getting swept by the Pirates, it also turns out that Jose Reyes has a torn hamstring.
  • John Raines, a substitute teacher and athletic trainer at Sussex Central High in Delaware, has been arrested and charged with “inappropriately touching a student-athlete while treating her injury and threatening to prevent her from playing her sport when she tried to stop his advances.” Which is bad enough, but even worse when considering he’s the second faculty member arrested on sex crimes in the past two days and the third within a year.
  • Spencer Cruise, an all-state high school football player in Iowa, allegedly bodyslammed a cop who was busting up a party and then Tasered him with his own weapon.
  • Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson has selected ESPN’s Chris Berman to introduce him before his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and PRO FOOTBALL TALK wonders if that’s such a great idea. (Seriously, was Jim Kelly busy?)
  • Former Tulsa football player Neal Sweeney apparently got into a business dispute with the wrong person, as it ended up with him being shot dead at his fuel sales company. Police have arrested the person they believe is the triggerman, and hope this leads to further breaks in the case.
  • Maurice Neal, a linebacker for the Utah Utes, has been arrested in connection with a bar fight where he took out two men. Shouldn’t Utah be the last place that a bar fight should be happening?

Who is going to be the next 300 game winner in baseball?

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Speed Read: Can We End The Stanley Cup Finals?

Let’s be honest with ourselves: the Penguins are done. Sure, technically all Detroit did on Sunday night was hold home ice advantage with their 3-1 win over Pittsburgh in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals, the same score as Game 1. But their 2-0 lead pretty much feels insurmountable - does anyone feel like the Penguins can take four of the next five games against the Red Wings? Didn’t think so.

Chris Osgood

Especially since the Red Wings and their old, tired legs, were able to outhustle, outskate and just plain outplay the Penguins 24 hours after Game 1, a made-for-TV contrivance that was supposed to be their downfall. Pittsburgh’s Big Two of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have combined for one goal in the first two games, half as many as Detroit’s Justin Abdelkader, who was playing minor-league hockey in May. And both of his goals have been beauties, including his singlehanded effort last night:

The bottom line for Pittsburgh is simple: when their main goal scorers are being held in check, and their goaltending is soft, they are going to lose. It doesn’t matter how much revenge they want, or if Evgeni Malkin tries to start fights to fire the team up - Detroit is just the better team (and doing this without Pavel Datsyuk, mind you).

Speaking of Malkin’s fisticuffs: despite picking up an instigator penalty at the end of Game 2, which should be an automatic one-game suspension, the NHL has decided that Malkin will be on the ice when the serious returns to Pittsburgh. Think the league wants to avoid a sweep?

OK, remember how Texas beat Boston College 3-2 in 25 innings Friday night-slash-Saturday morning in an NCAA baseball tournament game? Well, their following opponents were Army, and while the game ended in nine innings, it was just as dramatic as the BC contest. The Longhorns scored eight times in the ninth inning for a 14-10 win, including a walk-off grand slam by Preston Clark. Check out the highlights here:

With the win, Texas advances to the Super Regional, where they will play TCU in a Best-of-Three series that will likely come down to the final pitch of Game Three. Seriously, guys, it’s OK just to win a 5-1 snoozer every once in a while. (Or if you are Florida State, a 37-6 snoozer.)

Jamie Moyer

Finally, congratulations for Jamie Moyer for getting his 250th career win yesterday, a 4-2 Phillies win over the Nationals. (And really, shouldn’t that could as half a win?) The achievements of the 46-year-old goes to show that not being able to throw hard enough to break glass isn’t a prerequisite to being successful. And it also shows that if you are a lefty with a durable arm, even a 4.23 career ERA can’t keep you from reaching some big milestones.

  • Give Brad Childress credit for having a good sense of humor: he busted out a nifty fake wig atop his notorious chrome dome at practice, and then said that he would only wear it during the season “if it had ‘Reebok’ across the top of it.” Here’s the photographic evidence (and it still looked better than Jared Allen’s hair):
  • Brad Childress

  • BLACK SPORTS ONLINE wants LeBron James to “man up” and shake hands after getting knocked out of the playoffs, or come to the post-game press conference. Two things he didn’t do last night after the Magic bounced the Cavs.
  • The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim rallied from a seven-run deficit in the final three innings to beat the Mariners 9-8 yesterday. Talk to Texas about it, guys.
  • I’m making a list of pitchers who don’t want to go to the Chicago White Sox, and apparently every No. 1 is on the list. First it was Jake Peavy of the Padres rejecting a deal, and now the HOUSTON CHRONICLE is saying that Roy Oswalt of the Astros will exercise his veto rights to nix any deal. But I’m sure Barry Zito is still available.
  • Here’s one way to break out of 0-for-18 slump: Ali Gardiner ripped a grand slam with two outs in the bottom of the last inning to lift the Florida over Alabama 6-5 to send the Gators to the College Softball World Series championship game.
  • How not to win your first PGA Tour tournament: miss putts inside 10 feet on the final hole of regulation and the first hole of a playoff, and then have your approach on the second playoff hole ricochet off the pin and roll back more than 20 feet from the hole. Steve Stricker was the beneficiary of Tim Clark’s bad luck/meltdown, picking up the Crowne Plaza Invitational.
  • The Orlando Magic thought they had lost All-Star point guard Jameer Nelson to injury for the season back in February, but now the ORLANDO SENTINEL is saying that the rehab for his shoulder injury is “dramatically” ahead of schedule and he might be available for the NBA Finals.
  • Arkansas DT Lavunce Askew was arrested on Saturday after allegedly stealing a laptop from an apartment. His teammate Matt Marshall also stole an iPod Touch, but was not charged after he returned it to the doorstep and helped police track down Askew. See, Marshall might be a thief and a stool pigeon, but his heart is in the right place.
  • World champion hurdler Jana Rawlinson was forced to confirm an embarrassing, poorly-kept secret circulating around the track world for months. Not that she’s using PEDs, but that she had breast augmentation. You would think if there’s one sport where being busty is a disadvantage, it’s hurdling. Check out some Russ Meyer-approved before and after action:
  • Jana Rawlinson

  • A tough week for auto racing: two veteran drivers are killed in separate short-track racing incidents in the Midwest.

Other than Kobe and Superman, who is the most important player in the NBA Finals?

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Speed Read: Magic Ready To Ruin Dream Finals

Somehow LeBron James ended another game against the Orlando Magic in their Eastern Conference Finals with the ball in his hand and a chance to win the game. But unlike Game 2, he couldn’t find the miracle the Cavaliers needed, as his desperation heave from 35 feet was off the mark, wrapping up the Magic’s 116-114 OT victory. Orlando now holds a commanding 3-1 series lead, as the Cavaliers are threatening to take a page from the Ohio State football team and choke at the worst possible moment.

LeBron James

And perhaps it was fitting, since the game only went to overtime on two James free throws on a questionable foul committed by Mickael Pietrus with six seconds left - with James needing a friendly roll to get the second. (And honestly, how can the best player on the planet be so average and unreliable from the free throw line? Do you ever remember feeling nervous when Michael Jordan stepped to the line at the end of a game?)

Dwight Howard

It’s hard to blame James for Game 4: after all, he did have 44 points and 12 rebounds. Even the eight turnovers in the box score are more a reflection of him trying to do everything because he had to than any faults. No, the big problem for Cleveland is that they’ve pretty much turned back into King James and His Inept Court of Jokers this series, with his supporting cast basically providing nothing (Delonte West and Mo Williams combined to go 12-for-30 in Game 4, including 0-for-6 from behind the arc.)

Meanwhile, the Magic were unconscious from three-point range, going 17-for-38, with Rafer Alston leading the way with six threes on the way to a 26 point night. And Dwight Howard played angry in overtime - perhaps over picking up his sixth technical foul of the season, or because he thought he was fouled at the end of regulation. No matter what the reason, he took it out on the Cavaliers, scored on three straight dunks en route to 10 points in the extra session. So a dominant big man plus great outside shooting is a good thing, I guess.

Sidney Crosby

Also a good thing: having your league’s best player and leading scorer on the same team. That’s exactly what the Pittsburgh Penguins have, and why they are heading back to the Stanley Cup after a 4-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes to sweep the Eastern Conference Finals. And even though they didn’t score in the series-clincher, Penguins stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin had done more than enough, proving to be way too much for a game but overmatched Carolina side. So while the NBA is wincing at losing their dream match-up, the NHL has to be thrilled with a likely Penguins vs. Red Wings rematch.

Mike Tyson

Finally, to update a tragic story we told you about earlier today, KPHO-TV in Phoenix reports that Mike Tyson’s daughter Exodus, 4, has died from injuries she sustained in a freak accident at her family home in Arizona. No matter what you think about Mike Tyson as a person, monster or character in a classic Greek tragedy, your heart has to go out to him and his family. For anyone with a child, reading about this gets your stomach all tied up in knots.

  • So after what PRO FOOTBALL TALK had reported was a tug-of-war to sign John Lynch as an NFL analyst, NEWSDAY says that the winner is Fox, snatching the former Buccaneers and Broncos standout from ESPN. Lynch will likely be replacing Brian Baldinger, which means that he’ll need to have his finger run over with a steamroller to match the “analyst with the gross digit” quota at the network.
  • Brian Baldinger and his gross finger

  • Is this a sign that the Anquan Boldin contract mess is about to come to an end?: ESPN.COM says that the disgruntled Cardinals wide receiver has fired Drew Rosenhaus as his agent. Stepping in? This guy.
  • Ready for a career switch to the exciting and fast-paced world of sports business? Fat chance, says the NEW YORK TIMES, as tough economic times have made jobs in the industry tougher to get than ever. In fact, it’s so bad that people actually want to work for the Cincinnati Bengals.
  • A new blog is asking people to vote Manny Ramirez into the 2009 All-Star Game to prove a point about how ridiculous MLB’s stance is on steroids. I say let’s really send a message and vote Jose Guillen in.
  • A STERN WARNING digs up an old Japanese tire commercial featuring Dennis Rodman, and it’s every bit as weird and indecipherable as anything you would expect involving Japanese TV and The Worm. But at least there weren’t any midgets involved:

  • As the BOSTON HERALD says, this is how bad it’s gotten for David Ortiz: last night against the Twins, he was dropped to the No. 6 spot in the line-up for the first time in more than five years. Not that it mattered; thanks to another lousy start by Jon Lester, Boston fell to Minnesota 5-2.
  • Top Orioles prospect Matt Wieters is getting his call-up to the big leagues, and is expected to make his big-league debut as a catcher on Friday against the Tigers. CAN’T STOP THE BLEEDING wonders if the Baltimore sports media is making too big of a deal about this. (i.e. could Peter Schmuck please remove his tongue from Wieters’ mouth?)
  • The NEW YORK TIMES has the latest from Roland Garros (English translation: Ron Garrett) Stadium and the French Open: Serena Williams serves a “horrendous” performance, while James Blake is bounced yet again.
  • Just how dominant has Zack Greinke been this season for the Royals? As the KANSAS CITY STAR reports, he gave up one earned run in his fifth complete game of the season, a 6-1 win over the Tigers…and his ERA actually went up slightly, “ballooning” to 0.84.
  • Probably not what Marshall wanted to hear about their prized football recruit A.J. Graham: the TALLAHASSE DEMOCRAT says that Florida’s “Mr. Football” was arrested on robbery charges - just hours before his scheduled high school graduation.

Who is the best NBA player to never win a title?

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Speed Read: Ryan Leaf Bad At Football, Drug Theft

Ryan Leaf is an instant sports blog punchline, suitable for use anytime you need a real-life example for the words “bust,” “loser” or “train wreck.” But at least he had some shred of dignity: sure, he had been one of the biggest disappointments in NFL history, a top draft pick turned into petulant baby whose lousy attitude with coaches, teammates and the media ensured he would be drummed out of the league; but at least he wasn’t Todd Marinovich. No matter what, at least his rap sheet was clean.

Ryan Leaf

Well, you can forget that. Remember when he took a “leave of absence” from his position as QB coach at West Texas A&M (and also as - for some reason - the golf coach), and it came out that he had “asked” a player for pain medicine for an old wrist injury? It turns out there was more to that story - a lot more. Leaf allegedly really, really needed that medicine - so much so that he allegedly broke into the apartment of an injured player he knew had been prescribed Vicodin and grabbed him a handful of pills.

Ryan Leaf Starting Lineup

And Leaf apparently was about as good of a thief as he was an NFL player, since the cops traced the theft back to him, and the AMARILLO GLOBE-NEWS says that he was indicted yesterday on nine different drug and burglary charges. The district attorney says that Leaf is currently in British Columbia getting drug treatment (socialized medicine!), but the DA “hopes” he returns to the country. I can’t say that sounds promising. (And there goes Leaf’s chance of an NFL comeback.)

Also in need of a comeback: the Los Angeles Lakers. Sure, last night’s 106-103 loss to the Denver Nuggets only tied their Western Conference finals at 1-1, but after almost giving away Game 1 as well, it feels like they are staring up at a mountain. For the first two games, they were outplayed, outhustled and physical dominated by the Nuggets, and are now completely out of sync and without home court advantage. (Seriously, how does Kobe Bryant not get a shot in one of those last two possessions?)

Carmelo Anthony

So the home court advantage in the two NBA conference finals belong to the Nuggets and the Magic. I’m sure that the NBA front office is thrilled about possibly having to market a Denver vs. Orlando series. If you are an NBA Conspiracy Theorist, then rest assured that David Stern is currently making some angry phone calls to some referees today to “fix the problem.”

Meanwhile, we moved one step closer to a Stanley Cup rematch as the Pittsburgh Penguins outscored the Carolina Panthers 7-4 to a take a 2-0 series lead. Sidney Crosby scored the opening goal - again - but it was Evgeni Malkin who was the real star, notching a hat trick including scoring one of the sickest goals you’ll ever see in your life:

You couldn’t even do that in NHL ‘94 for Sega Genesis without getting your head cracked open. So while the Hurricanes’ Eric Staal might be busy complaining about his brother Jordan “cheating” during face-offs for the Penguins, everyone else is getting ready for another tilt between Pittsburgh and Detroit (and we all know that’s happening, putting NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman in a much happier place than David Stern is right now).

  • Even with his team having been blasted out of the playoffs in the first-round, world class loudmouth Jeremy Roenick still won’t shut up, as the DETROIT NEWS says he told a Chicago radio show that Detroit Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock “doesn’t like” Chris Chelios and has “got a grudge against American players.”
  • Jeremy Roenick

  • The MINNEAPOLIS STAR-TRIBUNE reports that the Minnesota Wild and Minnesota Timberwolves are set to announce their new GMs on the same day. Maybe they got a “Buy One, Get One Free” rental package on the hotel conference room?
  • Sammy Hasan, a girls’ track coach in Amherst, NY has been charged with forcible sexual conduct with a female high school student. The BUFFALO NEWS says that earlier this season, one of his runners thanked him for “helping her with her technique” after she won a sectional title. SBB PUNCHLINE CREATOR 3000 ERROR 4XQ587: TOO MANY INAPPROPRIATE JOKES.
  • WTAE-TV reports that former Tennessee basketball player Michael Brooks was arrested after being found in possession of cocaine and Vicodin. Someone check his trunk to see if Ryan Leaf is hiding in there!
  • Former Houston Texans lineman Fred Weary tried to help an ex-teammate out by hiring former Florida Gator Anthone Lott as a general contractor on four townhouses Weary was building in Gainesville. Judging by the fact that the ST. AUGUSTINE RECORD says Lott has been charged with defrauding a bank and Weary of more than $185,000, I’d say that didn’t end too well.
  • Florida high school football standout and South Carolina recruit Ben Axon was arrested and charged with marijuana possession with intent to sell, according to the BRADENTON HERALD. But at least he was honest when the cops asked him “if he had anything illegal on him” and handed them 23 small bags of wacky tobacky.
  • There’s never a great time to start drunkenly hurling swear words at the opposing team from the stands during a high school baseball game…but to do it during a stoppage for an injury is just wrong. But that’s exactly what the SCHENECTADY DAILY GAZETTE says that George “Mr. Class” Sperow did before getting into a fight and then being arrested.
  • Ferrari is threatening to leave Formula One if they institute a budget cap in 2010, so now the TELEGRAPH is saying that Formula One rightsholder Bernie Ecclestone will sue them if they do. Where else are they going to go - NASCAR? (Oh please, please let me see a Ferrari NASCAR team.)
  • Is there anything sadder than a kicker trying to hold out for more money? That’s what PRO FOOTBALL TALK says that Cleveland kicker Phil Dawson is doing as he skips the team’s “voluntary” minicamp. Isn’t there a Bahr brother somewhere who can still kick? Martin Mull? Stefan Fatsis?
  • HARDWOOD HOUDINI is concerned about the recent outbreak of VUS in the NBA: Visible Unnecessary Spandex.

Which ex-NFL QB is the biggest train wreck?

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Speed Read: Not All Game 7’s Are Created Equally

It was billed as the hockey playoff series everyone wanted to see, and for six games it was. With three overtimes in that spell — and two other games that easily could have been pushed into extra frames, too — the Capitals-Penguins second rounder felt like an instant classic heading into Game 7. All it needed was a respectable finale.

penguins capitals ovechkin

It didn’t get one.

Instead, Pittsburgh’s experienced markmen carved up Washington’s rookie goalie, Simeon Varlamov, jumping out to a 5-0 lead before finishing with a 6-2 victory in D.C., which spent much of the third period reminiscing about a strong season and wondering what might havce been.

That made for a deflating end to Alex Ovechkin’s second playoff campaign, with Washington’s transcendent star thoroughly outshone by Pittsburgh star Sidney Crosby, whose two goals and an assist paced Pittsburgh’s stunning Game 7 rout.

penguins capitals crosby

In fact, while conventional wisdom holds there’s nothing like a Game 7 in hockey, this graph from the WASHINGTON POST’s writeup of the game tells you all you need to know about what got the Caps into trouble:

Varlamov wasn’t totally to blame; he didn’t get much help from his teammates, who were outplayed in almost every sense of the word. They took bad penalties. They were beaten to loose pucks. They made mental miscues when the team could least afford one.

The game began with Ovechkin being stopped by Marc-André Fleury on a breakaway after 3 minutes 1 second with a brilliant glove save. It was all downhill from there for the Capitals.

There you go, and there go the Caps in a game which could have cemented Washington’s status as a burgeoning hockey town. Instead, it’ll just be a quiet one until training camp starts this summer.

If it helps cushion the blow, the Caps didn’t go quietly into the night alone. The Mavericks are headed to the golf course, too, thanks to a dominant performance by, who else, Chauncey Billups and Carmelo Anthony, in a 124-110 victory.

kenyon martin's mom

Only Dirk Nowitzki really showed up for Dallas, which is nice considering the fact that his pregnant fiancee most definitely couldn’t be there. And while the final scoreline shows a 14-point victory for Denver, it felt bigger than that, since the Nuggets opened up an equal 14-point lead by halftime and never really looked back.

mavericks mark cuban

Not to be overshadowed by the exploits of his own team on the court, Dallas owner Mark Cuban had his apology to the mother of Kenyon Martin labeled as insincere by none other than K-Mart himself. And he had company, with Carmelo also questioning whether Cuban could possibly be sincere with an apology posted in the middle of the night on his personal blog. In fact, while we’re at it, I’d like to apologize to my second grade art teacher. I really didn’t mean to spill all the macaroni for those zebra designs on the floor, and I really shouldn’t have laughed so loud when they flew all over the floor and you had to throw them out. If I knew how little money you made, I never would have laughed.

Meanwhile, Urban Meyer now seems to be taking the whole insular identity of college campuses a little too seriously. In the aftermath of his second national title as Gators coach, Meyer is out for vengeance against all his critics, particularly those who may have set foot on the Gainesville campus before he got there.

urban meyer florida gators

Case in point: Last fall, former Gators quarterback Shane Matthews, a proud, former greasy-haired Florida alum, offered up one of the stronger rebukes of Meyer’s game strategy after UF’s lone loss, to Ole Miss.

At the time, Matthews called the Rebels’ man-to-man defense on Florida’s wide receivers an outright affront to the team’s passing game, questioning why Meyer wouldn’t take advantage of what seemed like mismatches.

florida gators shane matthews

That led to a stern speech at a Gator Club (read: really rich alumni) rally where Meyer said former players who criticized any part of the program could buy a ticket to a game, not hob nob in the team’s athletic offices.

Needless to say, that’s made plenty of headlines because it was uttered by Urban Meyer, since anything he says at this point ends up on a front page in any state with an SEC school.

For his part, Matthews is just amazed that the entire episode has become such a media flashpoint.

“I’m as Gator as there is and very supportive of the program,” he said on ESPN Wednesday. “You can be critical of a coaching decision here and there, but that’s just being a Monday morning quarterback, everyone does that.” 

He’s that, and a well-known radio host, so it is kind of his job to critique coaches’ decisions. It’s not like he’s some Florida high school football coach. Maybe Meyer can consider that the next time he launches a diatribe, or maybe not. After all, Urban Meyer does what Urban Meyer thinks he should, when he thinks he should.

• The spiraling investigation into O.J. Mayo’s recruitment has led to, fittingly enough, O.J. Mayo. He met with federal investigators about his brother yesterday, who also may have received kickbacks from Mayo’s former handlers.

• Anyone surprised that LeBron James was a unanimous pick to the All-NBA team? Anyone? OK then.

Rampage Jackson beats up some fat mock fighter in a video game. See, it’s funny because Rampage Jackson is a crazy person. He might go steal a car and run over a smart car to celebrate!

• You know, thinking about Cuban and K-Mart makes us wonder, who would win in a fight between the two?

• This has got to be the stupidest promotional item we’ve ever seen. Even Dale Earnhardt Jr. won’t go anywhere near that thing.

Is the world ready for Kimbo Slice the boxer? We’re still not sure the world was ready for Kimbo Slice the MMAer, and we know he wasn’t ready for it.

Kimbo Slice

• Well, now we know just how young Keith Olbermann likes ‘em.

katy tur keith olbermann

Does Cristiano Ronaldo look a little too tranfixed in this video to anyone else? And if you spend 10 or more seconds looking at a boner, does that make you at least ambiguous.

• It finally happened: Videos of the 2009 U.S. Pole Dancing Championships have officially hit YouTube. And there was much rejoicing.


• Just when you thought things might finally be looking promising for the Eagles, one of Andy Reid’s sons goes and gets himself sent back to the slammer. Nice work Garrett Reid. Donovan McNabb doesn’t send his condolences.

garrett reid

Mike Holmgren may want to come back and coach, but at least we know that Dick Vermeil isn’t walking back through that door.

• Wait, so just because Al Davis hated Tim Brown, that means he hates all black players from Notre Dame? Is there a significant difference between those two classifications? How many other black Notre Dame alums have played in Oakland?

If I were Keith Olbermann, I would …

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Speed Read: It Looks Like The NHL Is Finally Back

Two Game 6 classics in one night? An OT winner from the Caps that guarantees an Ovie-Crosby grudge match on Wednesday night? A 12-goal outburst in front of an insane crowd at the United Center that cemented the Blackhawks’ return to relevance once and for all? Sorry NBA, Monday night was owned by the NHL.

Blackhawks celebrate

First, in Pittsburgh, Dave Steckel’s sweet tip-in of Brooks Laich’s wrister from the point 6:22 into OT saved the Capitals’ season and silenced an Igloo crowd that was ready to celebrate a return trip to the conference finals.

Sidney Crosby’s tying goal with just over four minutes left in regulation gave the Penguins the momentum back after blowing a lead earlier in the period. But in the end, Marc-Andre Fleury was just a little too shaky. He only stopped 19 of 24 shots on the night while his Washington counterpart Simeon Varlamov outplayed him yet again, turning aside 38 of 42. The NEW YORK TIMES sums it all up better than I can:

Five one-goal decisions in six games, three overtimes and 41 goals, with Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby striking for 13 and assisting on 10 others. The Capitals and the Penguins have played a marvelous Eastern Conference semifinal series, and after Washington’s 5-4 overtime victory Monday, it will continue, fittingly, to Game 7 at Verizon Center on Wednesday.

That just about says it all.

Caps celebrate

Meanwhile, in Chicago, Vancouver rallied from a 3-1 deficit to take leads of 4-3 and 5-4 in the third period.  The Canucks thought the last lead might be enough to force a Game 7, but the Blackhawks went nuts in the final seven minutes, scoring three times to take a 7-5 win and advance to the Western Conference finals for the first time since 1995. 21-year-old Chicago captain Jonathan Toews scored twice, and 20-year-old Patrick Kane’s rocket of a backhander with 3:43 left gave him a hat trick and sealed the deal for the Hawks (Kane actually overslept on Monday and missed the morning skate). Think this team has a bright future?

As recently as two seasons ago, the Hawks were a failing franchise that could barely fill half of the United Center. Now, there isn’t a tougher ticket in town and the team went over the million mark in attendance for the season last night. As if all this isn’t enough, they’re likely going to be facing the Detroit Red Wings in the next round (provided the Wings can win one of two against Anaheim). And, I’m just going to throw it out there now: if they do play the Wings, I’m saying there’s a 50% chance that at least one fan is going to die in an incident directly related to that series. I’ve been to regular season games between those teams at the UC that have seen near riots in the 300 level. I’ve heard Hawks fans start a rousing “De-troit sucks” chant during a game against the L.A. Kings. They’ve been waiting for this for years.

Oh yeah, the NBA playoffs were on the schedule last night, too. The LeBrons finally put the Atlanta Hawks out of their misery with a ho-hum 84-74 win to wrap up another sweep. It actually was a pretty close game, and guys like Delonte West and Mo Williams stepped up with big contributions down the stretch to hold off a scrappy Atlanta squad that just didn’t have enough healthy guys to compete. The Cavs are 8-0 in the playoffs, with all of the wins coming by double digits.

In Dallas, Dirk Nowitzki had 44 points (one for every alias used by his fianceé), including 19 in the fourth quarter, as the Mavs shook off a crapload of technical fouls and stayed alive with a 119-117 win over the Nuggets. Dallas trailed by 10 at halftime and for much of the second half as well, but finally took the lead on a Dirk jumper with less than three minutes left. Nowitzki’s heroics overshadowed Carmelo Anthony’s 41 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, and 5 steals. Denver’s still up 3-1 and doesn’t look all that beatable at home against the Mavs, so don’t look for this one to be coming back to Dallas.

• At this point, I think the possibility of getting taunted on YouTube would be more of a deterrent than a yellow card for taking a ridiculous dive in soccer. West Ham’s David di Michele boned a breakaway against Liverpool on Saturday so bad that he had to act like someone tripped him, and nobody was buying it (he needs to attend the Drogba School of Diving). THE SPOILER has the video.

Randy Johnson gave up three homers in five innings but did enough to earn his 298th career win. If he can squeeze two more out of his arm before it falls off, he may just be the last pitcher to ever reach that mark. (Do you see CC Sabathia winning 15 games a year until 2022? Me neither)

• The duo of former Miami Dolphin cheerleaders came up just a bit short in their quest to win the Amazing Race. Jaime and Cara would’ve been the first all-female duo to win, but they finished second to the Asian brother-sister lawyers.

Dolphins cheerleaders Amazing Race

Chipper Jones loved Shea Stadium so much that he hyperextended his elbow on Sunday so he didn’t have to play at Citi Field last night. Larry even claimed last night that the two seats he purchased from Shea before it was a pile of rubble never made it to him in Atlanta, but the Mets countered that the chairs had indeed been delivered and signed for by a Mr. Jones, according to the NY DAILY NEWS.

• Giants closer Brian Wilson (not the guy who stayed in bed for two years) is a bit miffed at Casey Blake. Blake, who’s not a big fan of showmanship by other players, mockingly made the gesture that Wilson makes after a successful save after he took him deep on Sunday afternoon. Well, it turns out that Wilson’s seemingly brash gesture is a tribute to his Christian faith and to his late father. Not only does this make Blake a bit of an a-hole, but Aubrey Huff’s fists pumps after taking Joba Chamberlain out of the yard were way funnier.

• The silly scheme to keep Rachel Alexandra from running in the Preakness Stakes has been squashed, and the filly will run with the big boys on Saturday. Incidentally, Rachel Nichols‘ maiden name was Alexander, so expect Rachel Alexandra to start following around a horse named Brett Favra sometime next week.

• While John Calipari has trees exhumed from his new yard, the Kentucky Wildcat cheerleaders recently got back from spring break. And, by the looks of these photos (courtesy of UNCOACHED), they had a pretty good time:

Kentucky cheerleaders

• A New Jersey teenager has been suspended for hosting an NCAA Tournament-style bracket to pick his high school’s hottest girl. Must’ve been brutal to end up in the play-in game in that one.

David Cone is now on the phone personally trying to sell the expensive seats at Yankee Stadium, according to CAN’T STOP THE BLEEDING. I suppose that means he can get his wife into the ballpark, unlike some Yankee legends/broadcasters.

• Guess who Peter King says is the best team in the NFL going into next year? It’s not the Steelers.

Who ya got in Game 7?

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Caps/Pens Upstaged by Dane Cook… and Yanni?!?

The NHL, as fans are probably aware, is just getting into the swing of what’ll probably be its best series of the playoffs: the Washington Capitals vs. the Pittsburgh Penguins. The two teams each favor one of the top two players in the league, Washington with Alex Ovechkin and Pittsburgh with Sidney Crosby, and they haven’t failed to impress thus far.

Yanni Penguins Capitals

(The show’s proximity to Game 6 means Yanni’s show will take place in the melted rink. Yanni doesn’t mind.)

Curiously, though, Games 3 and 4 will be on Saturday (in Pittsburgh) and Sunday (in Washington) - a back-to-back/travel situation that’s unheard of in just about any major sport’s postseason. And worse yet, for the sake of all this hockey, they’re missing Yanni: Read more…