Saturday, April 30, 2011

Jose Contreras hits the DL; Ryan Madson is your add

There's a downside to having a closer who's older than Methuselah; aging pitchers tend to get injured. You knew the risks, Philadelphia.

Jose Contreras and his 39-year-old elbow landed on the 15-day DL Sunday. He wasn't available for the final three games of the San Diego series (a shame for him, Philly swept). Ryan Madson closed up Friday and Saturday, with Antonio Bastardo getting a one-outer on Sunday.

Madson will be the closer most of the time going forward; Phillies beat writer Jim Salisbury�documents the appointment here. The move to Madson is a curious change of pace for the Phillies given that the organization couldn't stop bashing him this spring. The generic "closing isn't that difficult" tag applies; go get Madson anywhere you can. Brad Lidge isn't expected back for a couple of months, and we can't make any assumptions on Contreras's return.

Bastardo's 2011 stats grab your attention (0.00 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 14 Ks over 9.1 IP), but he was a mess last season (4.34 ERA, 1.50 WHIP) and most teams would prefer to stay away from using a left-handed reliever in the closing chair. He's clearly the fallback position, though the strikeout upside has to be considered.


Image courtesy Associated Press


Andre Ethier Corey Hart Yadier Molina Ubaldo Jimenez

C-a-C: If it weren’t for bad luck, Matt Garza would have no luck at all

Quick. If we were to ask you who the top-three pitchers tied atop on the Fangraphs' WAR leaderboard were and spotted you Jered Weaver and Roy Halladay, could you come up with the third?

If you couldn't, you're probably awful at reading big clues. It's Matt Garza of the Chicago Cubs. While a quick glance at his 0-3 record and 4.11 ERA through five starts might not have given you enough clues, a closer look at his stats shows what Fangraphs' WAR calculation really values. Garza leads all of baseball with a 1.93 xFIP, hasn't surrendered a homer and leads the National League with 41 strikeouts. He's also�been victimized by an insane .414 BABIP. As Garza diversifies his pitch selection more this season, Dave Allen of FG wonders if we're seeing an entirely new Matt Garza than the one who pitched for the Tampa Bay Rays.

What does any of this have to do with the picture above? Not a gosh darn thing. But�have at it anyway, amateur Internet copy editors of the world. How should this caption read?

Click below for winners from our last C-a-C featuring Bud and Frank:

This picture of Bud Selig and Frank McCourt says it all

1st ? RockDaHouse85. "I don't think this check is authentic. There's no watermark."

2nd ? Jeffrey D. "The Pittsburgh Pirates ... Manny Ramirez .... and Frank McCourt

*opens envelope*

"What three things no longer associated with professional baseball?"

3rd ? Mark. "John Paul II, a lasso, and Frank McCourt ... Name a pope, a rope, and a dope."

HM ? drethnudrib. "Selig's trying to shield his brain so McCourt's Russian physicist can't think bad thoughts at him."


Derek Jeter Miguel Cabrera Josh Hamilton Vladimir Guerrero

Behind the Box Score, where OKC and Miami are moving on

Oklahoma City 100, Denver 97; Oklahoma City wins series, 4-1

Denver didn't match up well with Oklahoma City. There's just no getting around that. Believe me, Denver tried to get around that. No dice.

Everything Denver attempted -- good depth, point guard penetration, hard fouls and occasional wing scoring -- Oklahoma City either matched or even eclipsed the Nuggies in that particular area. It makes sense, too. The Thunder have taken on the Nuggets seven times over the last month, and six of the seven games went OKC's way. They have all the answers, provided they do things right and Russell Westbrook doesn't take a ton of bad shots in the fourth quarter.

Westbrook had another bad game on Tuesday, missing 12 of 15 attempts, but it hardly mattered as the Thunder doubled Denver up in the free throw make department (a whopping 17 to 34, all earned, don't complain) while destroying the Nuggets on both the offensive and defensive glass. Everything Denver tried, Oklahoma City did better. Makes sense that it turns out this way.

Kevin Durant, and there really isn't a better way to put this in my eyes, was pretty in the win. Just pretty, on his way to 41 pretty points. Serge Ibaka had one point and five turnovers, but he also had nine blocks in what was a ridiculous defensive turn that saw him swatting mostly on recoveries in transition. John Hollinger tweeted early in the game that the OKC scoring crew had Ibaka down for five blocks when Hollinger (who charts games) only listed him for two blocks -- but oh well, that's still six blocks then. Felt like twice as many, in half a day.

OKC re-affirmed their status, even with Westbrook shooting 33 percent over his last two games, as championship contenders. I can't call them anything less.

All Denver has is questions. Par for the course for that group. Wouldn't want anything else, by the way. We'll miss that team.


San Antonio 110, Memphis 103; Memphis leads 3-2

If you want to ride momentum and emotion and prestige (worldwide) until you find a way to suss out Friday's Game 6 based on what happened towards the end of Wednesday's Game 5, I can't blame you. I won't be, but I can understand any amount of credit you send San Antonio's way.

Because the team has earned it. They were a frightening prospect even with Memphis up 3-1 in this series, and they remain as frightening even when we consider that it took two desperate shots plus overtime to stay alive against the Grizzlies at home on Tuesday. The Spurs are the Spurs and they never die -- even if we forget that we're nearly four years removed from the team's last championship.

Memphis did well to hang around in this game. Tim Duncan came out full of fire, hitting for double-figure points in the first quarter, but the Grizzlies had the Spurs at apparent arm's length by the time the end of the fourth quarter rolled around. Memphis worked its way through a, howdoyousay, "curious" night out for the referees, and banked on clutch jumpers from Sam Young and a brilliant all-around game from Zach Randolph (26 points, 11 rebounds, six assists) to nearly put the game away.

And, as you know, the Spurs struck with two massive jumpers to end regulation. Memphis couldn't hack it in overtime offensively, before they knew it they were fouling in attempts to stop San Antonio from dribbling out the clock, and the Spurs had done it again. Never really trouncing their opponents in any one area outside of the part that gives them a "W," frustrating (but hopefully not enervating) the opposition along the way. San Antonio, through and through.

Game 6 is on Friday night. Pretty pumped for that bad boy.


Miami 97, Philadelphia 91; Miami wins series 4-1

It doesn't warn nor warm nor encourage nor frighten me that the Miami Heat held their own down the stretch against the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night. It was great to see a potentially-great team do things correctly, but I also have to be mindful of Philly's defense in this loss. The 76ers strangely helped on all sorts of drives or Miami post-ups, and as a result the Heat took in endless open perimeter attempts as they moved past the first round.

Miami took 30 three-pointers, a ton, and made 12 in the win. Mario Chalmers hit six in 12 attempts, 12 good attempts, and James Jones managed the same percentage on six attempts. All while Philly's perimeter defenders looked elsewhere. I understand that you should probably pay Dwyane Wade (26 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists) a good deal of attention, as well as LeBron James (16 points after a slow start, 10 rebounds, eight assists), but this was a little silly.

So it goes for Philly, as the Doug Collins-helmed team was ridiculously inconsistent all season, but wildly entertaining in a way that didn't remind of previously Collins-coached outfits. This was a team worth falling for, as Lou Williams lost his man on the break, or Elton Brand knocked in another turnaround jumper. On paper and in our hearts, as much as we respect the talent and recent drive of this Miami team, it does surprise us slightly that Philly only took one game out of this series. These guys cared too much to go out as simple first round fodder.

That's what Miami does to teams, at least on paper. Chris Bosh was on fire with 22 points in the win, and Erik Spoelstra struck strong by starting Chalmers and Joel Anthony to start the second half.

This is the stuff that season-ending highlight videos are made of. You can't smartly say that Miami has turned a corner, nothing's been accomplished yet, but you can picture this team at its peak. And, just as it was last summer when Pat Riley put this group together, it's a frightening prospect.


Jon Beason Justin Tuck Kick returner Kyle Williams

Even Jim Larranaga thought the Miami job was Frank Martin’s

When former George Mason coach Jim Larranaga first learned earlier this month that Frank Haith had left Miami, his reaction was probably identical to most Hurricanes fans.

"I thought, 'Oh wow, I wonder if Frank Martin will take the job,'" Larranaga told 560 WQAM on Tuesday morning.

To the surprise of Larranaga and the rest of the basketball community, Miami never showed any interest in the Kansas State head coach with deep ties to South Florida. Instead Miami president Donna Shalala went a different direction, making a failed run at Harvard coach Tommy Amaker before prying Larranaga away from the George Mason program he previously led to the Final Four.

In addition to the substantial raise he received by leaving George Mason to come to Miami, Larranaga spoke glowingly during his radio interview about the opportunity to coach in the prestigious ACC. He downplayed concerns about the difficulty of either drawing fans or consistently winning at Miami even though the football-focused Hurricanes have only made the NCAA tournament five times since relaunching the program 26 years ago.

"When I was contacted by (Miami), I was very, very excited," Larranaga said. "You want to be part of a league like this, and at my age, it's probably the last, last chance I was going to have. When the opportunity arose and I was offered the job, I jumped all over it."

Among the first tasks for Larranaga at his new gig will be to rebuild the relationships between Miami high school and AAU coaches and the school. Larranaga found success recruiting the state of Florida since George Mason's 2006 Final Four run, but top prospects in Miami have often spurned the Hurricanes in favor of basketball programs with more fan support and pedigree.

While Larranaga has reached out to some local AAU coaches already, his first priority has been introducing himself to his new players and making sure they're comfortable with him. Most of Miami's top returners appear excited about the new direction of the program, but Larranaga still has some convincing to do with two important pieces of next year's team.

Larranaga will travel to North Carolina to visit in person with high-flying guard Bishop Daniels, Miami's top recruit who asked for a release from his letter of intent after Haith's departure. He's also optimistic that center Reggie Johnson will return to the team despite declaring for the NBA draft without hiring an agent earlier this month.

"We need to get those guys back and in the fold, so we can get off to a great start next season," Larranaga said. "That is one of my top priorities. I've met with Reggie. He's back on campus now. We're discussing the possibility of him being drafted, what the prospects are there. But we are very, very hopeful and I think he's excited about the possibility of returning and leading the Hurricanes back to the NCAA tournament."


Jesse Owens Jim Brown Jim Thorpe Joe DiMaggio

Stop freaking out over the Oklahoma City Thunder, people

After running out to a 3-0 series lead over the Denver Nuggets, the Oklahoma City Thunder let down their guard a bit in Monday night's Game 4. Not only was star guard Russell Westbrook roundly criticized from all angles for shooting his team's chances away, but there were also testy on-court exchanges between Westbrook and top scorer Kevin Durant, as well as Westbrook and second-year big man Serge Ibaka.

A lot of "Westbrook" in that opening paragraph, you'll notice. Which leads to a worrying thought.

Russell has been criticized all season for looking the other way when it comes time to feed Kevin Durant for his 30th and 31st point of the game, and RW's shot selection down the stretch was as bad as we've seen any good player come through with this season. Is this guy going to take down everyone's favorite feel-good team?

Probably not.

Yes, Westbrook missed 18-of-30 shots, and those long twos and unnecessary threes in the fourth quarter of Game 4 showed a shocking lack of hoop know-how for someone as gifted as him. But this has to be expected from a 22-year-old who is only in his third NBA season, someone who only got into organized basketball in college, and a player charged with closing out his team's first-ever playoff series while on the road.

To hear Durant tell it, well … get over it, guys:

"We've been doing that all season," Durant said. "That's a part of a basketball team. You're not going to always be happy all the time. … Sometimes you have to scream at guys for them to get the point. That's what we were doing.


There's 15 guys, plus the coaches, that have to stay together," Durant said. "One or two guys can't stray away from the group because you're upset. We all have to stay together. That's all I was stressing, and that's what Russell was stressing."

There are cracks in the armor, but this is how it goes when you look like the best thing the Western Conference has going for it over a two-month stretch. From March onward, the Thunder peeled off a 19-5 record to end the season, ranking first in the NBA in offensive efficiency during that term to go with a top-10 ranking on the defensive end. And though the Denver Nuggets were probably the second-hottest act to enter the Western playoff bracket, the Thunder had beaten them soundly in five attempts (including two regular-season duels) over the last month before Monday's loss.

Monday's loss included some needless strong-arm tactics from Kendrick Perkins, on-court yelling between Westbrook and Durant and then Ibaka, along with an embarrassing batch of ref-bugging from RW that allowed Ty Lawson to beat Westbrook down the court for an uncontested 3-pointer.

But this is how it goes when you grow up in public. And it would still be worth your while to invest in this team.

Thunder coach Scott Brooks thinks so, as well:

"I have no problem with it," Brooks said. "I like that stuff. Whether it gets heated, it's never personal with our team. It's always about trying to figure out ways to get better.

"We have quite a few of those conversations during the game, whether it's one-on-one as a team is shooting a free throw or during a timeout or at halftime or at the end of a game."

And to hear Durant tell it, Westbrook has already moved on. In the right direction, in Kevin's eyes:

"He wants to do so well all the time. He's so hard on himself. He's his biggest critic. He might miss a shot or get a turnover, and sometimes he lets that affect him a little bit. But he's getting past it. He's been working on that. And as teammates, we got to do a great job of helping him out and encouraging him. That's all we've been trying to do."

These are pups, relative to the rest of the NBA. Not only is it the first round of the playoffs, but it is Oklahoma City's figurative first round. And they're figuring it out. Yes, those jumpers were terrible, but it's early, and nobody will remember that this post even needed to be written in three weeks' time.


Steffi Graf Sugar Ray Leonard Sugar Ray Robinson Ted Williams

Miami’s wrapping up spring drills, and Seantrel Henderson’s demotion still stands

Like quite a few returning starters who failed to impress the new coaching staff in Miami's winter workouts, Seantrel Henderson began the spring listed with the second string. Unlike most of his fellow demotions, the former mega-recruit and freshman All-American is going to finish with the second string, too, behind unheralded classmate Malcolm Bunche:

… Bunche ? now a redshirt freshman listed at 6-7 and 328 pounds ? is not playing next to rising sophomore All-American Henderson. He's playing ahead of him.

Henderson (6-8 and 345 pounds), who will be idled by an undisclosed injury Saturday for the spring game, will end the spring as the backup.
Golden said he sees Bunche remaining at left tackle.

"You don't mess around with that position," he said. "If they're over there, it's because they have the tools to do that. That's the one position on the offensive line, other than center, that you want to make sure you have the right guy there."

At no point since Golden stepped on campus last December has Henderson, a ten-game starter in 2010 and arguably the most hyped offensive line recruit of the last decade before his late defection from USC last summer, seemed like the right guy. He was forced to fight for his job and, for now, has apparently lost the fight. (When Golden talked about starting "the five best" up front, he mentioned three other names ? guards Harland Gunn and Brandon Linder and center Shane McDermott ?�in addition to Bunche, All-ACC guard Brandon Washington and Jermaine Johnson, the current starter at right tackle, leaving Henderson out of even the top six.) Already Golden has had to put the kibosh on transfer rumors, and even then has remained conspicuously silent on multiple reports that Henderson will be suspended for the season opener at Maryland for a mysterious offense.

As his initial depth chart proved, Golden is not above demoting anyone for motivation/mind games purposes, especially if they're already in the doghouse for one reason or another. But virtually all of the other 'Canes who fond themselves in the same position at the start of the spring ?�Gunn, quarterbacks Jacory Harris and Stephen Morris, receivers LaRon Byrd and Travis Benjamin, safety Ray Ray Armstrong ?�had worked their way back to the top of the depth chart by the end of the first scrimmage, after which Golden said, "I want the depth chart to reflect performance, not potential. A lot of coaches get fired based on waiting for someone with potential to develop." He didn't mention anyone by name, but heading into the summer, the '2' next to Henderson's name says enough.

- - -
Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.


Ryan Braun Andre Ethier Corey Hart Yadier Molina

Paddy, Sergio and a panda bear walk into a bar …

Sergio Garcia and Padraig Harrington stopped by the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in Chengdu, China, and hung with one of the facility's stars. The golfers are in China for the Volvo China Open, which kicks off this week.

In completely unrelated news, the panda has since experienced continued difficulty in closing the breeding deal despite trying several different breeding methods. Researchers are mystified.


David Wright Ryan Braun Andre Ethier Corey Hart

Texas roster continues to take hits as NBA draft deadline looms

On Thursday, reports surfaced that Texas freshman big man Tristan Thompson, who last month said he planned to return to Austin for his sophomore season, would be entering the NBA draft.

That was confirmed by the school on Friday, though Thompson doesn't plan to hire an agent just yet, leaving the door open for him to return to the Longhorns before the May 8 deadline.

But, oh, there's more.

As expected, 6-foot-7 sophomore gunner Jordan Hamilton, who was the Longhorns' leading scorer this season, also declared himself eligible for June's draft. He'll sign with an agent, meaning he's officially all the way in. Hamilton's size and outside shot make him a probably first-round pick with tremendous upside.

The kicker is the decision of freshman guard Cory Joseph� ? a longtime teammate and friend of Thompson's from their days growing up outside of Toronto ?�to also throw his name in the ring.

Joseph is also opting to not attach himself with an agent just yet, but his choice comes as a significant surprise.

The 6-foot-3 point guard is oozing with promise, and showed several flashes of it during a rookie campaign in which he started all 36 games and averaged 10.4 points, 3.6 rebounds and three assists.

One thing that held Joseph back some, though, was that he was forced to split point guard duties with steady senior Dogus Balbay. What made Joseph such a force as a prep standout at Findlay (Nev.) Prep was his ability to run the show and provide a little bit of everything on both ends of the floor in the process while assuming the alpha dog role.

There's no promise that he'll be able to assume that role full-time next year at Texas, either, as the Longhorns have another top Canadian point guard prospect coming in in McDonald's All-American Myck Kabongo.

Another potential draw to the draft for Joseph? His former Findlay Prep teammate, Avery Bradley, averaged similar numbers (11.6 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 2.1 apg) in his lone season at Texas in 2009-10, left early, then went 19th overall to the Boston Celtics. If he can get a first-round guarantee over the next couple of weeks from an NBA team, the opportunity to get paid might be too tough to turn down.

But no matter what Joseph decides, Texas will likely have some major growing pains next season.

It's highly unlikely that Thompson won't remain in the draft, as both his raw potential and the decisions to stay in school made by the likes of Jared Sullinger, John Henson and Tyler Zeller has turned him into that much more of a limited commodity. Several experts have him already pegged as a mid-first round choice.

If that scenario plays out, Texas will have a very young and thin front line, complemented by an also-young back-court. Basically, they'll be pretty young no matter what, and what once looked like a sure-fire preseason Top 10 team won't have so much buzz come October.

As pointed out on Thursday, though, there's a strange silver lining to come from all of this for Texas and head coach Rick Barnes. It eases some pressure on a program that's endured two tough skids to end each of the last two regular seasons and hasn't been out of the NCAA tournament's first weekend in four of its last five trips.

Ryan Greene also covers UNLV and the Mountain West Conference for the Las Vegas Sun. Read his Rebels coverage and follow him on Twitter.


Lawrence Taylor Lou Gehrig Magic Johnson Mario Andretti

Ohio lineman Marcellis Williamson dies after leaving hospital

Ohio University has confirmed that defensive lineman Marcellis Williamson, 22, died on Wednesday afternoon of�as yet undetermined causes after a visit to a Cleveland-area hospital near his hometown. Williamson, a 6-foot-1, 327-pound senior coming to the end of his fifth year at Ohio U., started every game the past two seasons with 84 total tackles and 10 tackles for loss.

A spokesman for a hospital in Euclid, Ohio, told reporters Wednesday night that Williamson was admitted as a patient there earlier in the day, but had been discharged. Some of his friends and teammates, many of whom began posting on Twitter and Facebook about Williamson's death around 10 p.m. ET, told a student paper that Williamson died of a heart attack, but the university hasn't offered any details and there is no official cause of death.

Williamson's last post on his Facebook page, on Tuesday afternoon: "I am blessed to have waken up this morning!! Enjoy today because tomorrow isn't guaranteed!!"

[UPDATE, 3:04 p.m. ET] The university has established a memorial fund to assist Williamson's family with funeral costs. Make a donation here.

- - -
Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.


Josh Gibson Juan Manuel Fangio Julius Erving Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Ruff times continue for Sabres, as coach gets extended

The lasting memory of Buffalo Sabres Coach Lindy Ruff from their Game 7 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers was an in-game interview with VERSUS while his team was being dominated.

Ruff was exasperated, watching an injury-depleted team get worked and wondering how the game would have turned out had the Sabres' manpower situation been different.

There have been many seasons in Ruff's reign behind the bench in which the Sabres simply haven't had the pieces on the ice in critical games, due to injury or the budgetary frugality that left the roster thin. The latter condition will change now that Terry Pegula owns the team and enthusiastically intends on spending to win. And Ruff will be his guy to lead them.

Bucky Gleason of the Buffalo News reports that Ruff's contract extension, terms yetto be disclosed, will be announced today:

Ruff has been behind the bench since the 1997-98 season and is the winningest coach in team history. He has reached the Stanley Cup playoffs eight times in his 13 seasons, including four trips to the conference finals and one to the finals. He has long stated his desire to bring the first Stanley Cup to Buffalo.

Die By The Blade praised Ruff as the catalyst for the Sabres' playoff push this season:

Lindy Ruff reflected on the gratitude he felt towards his players, proclaiming that they gave him everything they had for almost four months. As modest as those comments were, the coach deserves praise because it also comes down to him getting the forwards, defensemen, and goaltenders to perform with a purpose. Players won't compete with full heart for anyone behind a bench, but Ruff believed in these men and they in turn believed in him as a coordinator.

And that's why he's been employed by the same organization for 13 years running.

And a few more, according to the Buffalo News.


Justin Tuck Kick returner Kyle Williams Larry Fitzgerald

Friday, April 29, 2011

Rick Pitino doesn’t expect to have Terrence Jennings next year

Rick Pitino expected Samardo Samuels to return to school last spring even after the center initially entered the draft without an agent, so it surprised the Louisville coach when the projected late second-round pick announced he was NBA-bound.

As a result, Pitino said Tuesday that he's approaching Terrence Jennings' flirtation with the NBA differently than he might have previously. Instead of assuming Jennings will return to school since he's projected to be selected in the late second round if at all, Pitino said he's not expecting to have the junior center back next season.

"As far as I'm concerned, he's not coming back," Pitino told reporters Tuesday. "That's the way I'm looking at it. Last time I talked about Samardo, I said, 'No, don't worry about it.' So as far as I'm concerned, this is the way I'm looking at all these situations."

The comments from Pitino are in stark contrast to what he said about Jennings as recently two weeks ago. On April 13, Pitino told the Louisville Courier-Journal that he believed Jennings would return to Louisville since a lack of an NBA summer league and a condensed training camp would make it more difficult for someone in Jennings' position to make a roster.

"(Jennings) would have to have great workouts for him to go," Pitino said at the time. "I fully expect him to be back. His situation, unlike Samardo's, is not where his parents are in dire need financially."

That Jennings would enter the NBA draft even without an agent came as a bit of a surprise since he averaged a pedestrian 9.6 points and 5.2 rebounds on a balanced Louisville team this past season.

Pitino said he'd emailed every NBA general manager telling them to contact him if they have any interest in Jennings. The 6-foot-9 junior has until May 8 to decide whether he'll remain in the draft or return to Louisville for his senior season.

Perhaps one of the reasons Pitino isn't lobbying Jennings to stay another year is because he knows the Cardinals aren't hurting for depth next season, especially in the paint. 6-foot-10 center Gorgui Dieng showed promise off the bench throughout his freshman season and highly touted 6-foot-10 freshman Zach Price also appears capable of making an immediate impact.

"We're very strong at that position," Pitino said. "We've got two outstanding five men in Gorgui Dieng and Zach Price. We're fine with that. And if another young man wants to come and join that, that's fine as well."


Willlie Shoemaker Wilma Rudolph Wilt Chamberlain Adrian Peterson

NHL Masterton Trophy Finalists: Emery vs. Langkow vs. Laperriere

Arguing why one player "deserves" the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy over another is a little squirmy, because it's essentially a contrast in hardships.

Does a disease trump a concussion? Is a personal tragedy a more formidable obstacle than a hockey-related injury? It's like arguing over which worthy charity most deserves your dollars, and we don't even get to put a magnetic ribbon on our cars after it's over.

Goaltender Ray Emery of the Anaheim Ducks, forward Daymond Langkow of the Calgary Flames and forward Ian Laperriere of the Philadelphia Flyers are the three finalists for the 2010-11 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, which is awarded "to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey."

The Professional Hockey Writers Association nominates 30 players, one from each team chapter, and then votes on three finalists. A $2,500 grant from the Professional Hockey Writers' Association (PHWA) is awarded annually to the Bill Masterton Scholarship Fund, based in Bloomington, Minn., in the name of the Masterton Trophy winner.

Here's our take on the original group of candidates, and the top five most deserving.

The trio up for the award offers its own tales of harrowing hardships and triumphs over adversities; who wins the 2010-11 Masterton?

Why Ray Emery Deserves the Masterton

From the NHL:

Ray Emery battled back from a career-threatening injury to reach the NHL and played a major part in the Ducks' successful push for a playoff spot. Emery underwent a complicated bone-graft surgery last April to repair a deteriorated ball joint in his right hip, the result of a disease called avascular necrosis which interrupts blood flow to the area and causes cells to die. After months of rehabilitation he signed with Anaheim as a free agent on Feb. 7 and went 7-2-0 with a 2.28 goals-against average and .926 save percentage in 10 NHL regular-season appearances.

Emery's story goes well beyond the injury of course: The fact that he blew his chance with the Ottawa Senators, was exiled in Russia, earned a job with the Flyers and then went through injury hell makes his a compelling narrative. There are still those who�simply don't like Emery no matter how he's reformed his life; but there are others who look beyond past foibles to accept how impressive this comeback is.

Why Daymond Langkow Deserves the Masterton

From the NHL:

On more then one occasion, it appeared Daymond Langkow's NHL career was over. After suffering a serious neck injury on March 21, 2010 against Minnesota, Langkow was twice forced to stop working out in the hopes of return. He made a third attempt and finally the recurring problems subsided. More than a year after being hit on the spine by a puck and suffering a fractured vertebra, Langkow made the comeback complete on April 1 when he laced up for his 1,014th NHL game and recorded an assist and +2 rating in the Flames' 3-2 win at St. Louis.

Again, the visuals speak much louder:

Ouch indeed. He willed his way back to the NHL, and fought through incredible setbacks and long odds to make it happen. He's a fan favorite in Calgary as well. Deserving candidate, and it's more than a little miraculous that he made it back.

Why Ian Laperriere Deserves the Masterton

From the NHL:

Ian Laperriere sustained a severe injury during the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs when he blocked a shot with his face against New Jersey and suffered a concussion and fractured orbital bone. He returned a little more than a month later to finish the Flyers' playoff run that ended two games short of a championship. Laperriere attempted to return in training camp, but could not overcome his concussion-related symptoms and has been on the long-term injury list all season. Nevertheless, he has served the Flyers in several capacities, particularly as a mentor for young players in the organization.

As we said in handicapping the field, he's a tricky candidate. No question he's made of the sort of stern stuff that the Masterton is intended to celebrate. But should this award go to someone that actually played in 2011?

The counterargument: The award is given "to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey." He didn't play, but he is a player; and there's no question that what he did while out with that injury fits the criteria.


Emery. His injury was so rare, and his rehabilitation so impressive, that we expect him to win.

Our Ballot

Ray Emery, Anaheim Ducks
Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Minnesota Wild
Ian Lapperiere, Philadelphia Flyers

Langkow is completely worthy, but we felt Bouchard was another player that persevered through a prolonged rehab filled with setbacks, false hopes and, finally, overcoming the odds to be a solid contributor to the Wild. But we also felt he was symbolic of the concussion issue in the NHL, too. If these things can have a snub, he's a snub.

In the end, Emery's tale is the stuff of Lifetime Original Movies. Which means it's the stuff of the Masterton.


Jerod Mayo Jon Beason Justin Tuck Kick returner

The Juice: Chisox’s Phil Humber quiets Yankees’ big lumber

Seven innings, seven items (thanks to a shortened schedule) to get you going. Ladies and gentleman of the Stew, take a sip of morning Juice.

1. First among equals: Among the several great pitching performances Monday, the one turned by Chicago White Sox right-hander Phil Humber might have been the most impressive.

In his sixth career start, the 28-year-old allowed one hit and two walks over seven shutout innings, mystifying the New York Yankees in a 2-0 victory at Yankee Stadium. New York had the top offense in the majors in 2010 and came in fifth in runs scored this season.

The White Sox came in 8-14, off to their worst start in 10 years and had gone 23 innings without scoring until the fourth on Adam Dunn's RBI grounder. "We got the lead!" manager Ozzie Guillen could be seen saying from the dugout. Chicago's pitchers, more or less, have needed to aim for shutouts. Humber, along with lefty Chris Sale and closer Sergio Santos, did just that.

Humber, who didn't sign with the Yankees after they drafted him in 2001, was the third-overall pick in the 2002 draft by the Mets. He was still a decent prospect when they traded him to the Twins in the Johan Santana deal, but he's never established himself in the majors.

"When I was young I had big dreams. I thought I was going to go out there and dominate every time," Humber said. "It hasn't worked out that way to this point."

His career has the makings of a blues song, at the very least.

2. Or, vote for Kennedy: The details of Ian Kennedy's first career complete game are pretty sweet. The Arizona Diamondbacks right-hander tossed a three-hit shutout against the Phillies, beating them 4-0 and outpitching Cliff Lee. Kennedy (another Yankees alumnus) also became a father early Sunday morning, and has been jetting to New York and back to Phoenix over the past 72 hours to ensure he has spent time with wife, child and team.

3. The only hope is to contain him: Jered Weaver continued his crazy start, scattering seven hits and striking out 10 (with no walks) in the Los Angeles Angels' 5-0 victory against the A's. Weaver lowered his ERA to 0.99 (which just looks cool) and his WHIP to 0.79 (which looks OK, too). The A's have been shut out three times in the past five games. Very White Sox-like.

4. Daddy power! It's a grand occasion in San Diego when someone on the Padres hits two homers in the same week. Ryan Ludwick (photographed) managed the feat in one game, double-dipping against the Braves. His game-ending two-run shot in the 13th inning against Cristhian Martinez gave the Padres a 5-3 victory. San Diego allowed/Atlanta took no walks.

5. Somethin's Fishy: With Jonathan Broxton on the mound and one out to go in the ninth, the Dodgers gave away this one. Jamey Carroll whiffed on a grounder to short for an error and Jerry Sands misplayed a fly ball to left. Regardless of the comedy, the Florida Marlins will gladly take a 5-4 victory.

Hanley Ramirez, rested because of a slump, helped ignite the rally with a pinch-hit single.

"No, I don't like that," he said. "I don't like sitting on the bench. I get kind of bored."

We hear ya, Han.

Meanwhile, check out an interview Yahoo! Sports' own Tim Brown conducted with new Dodgers steward Tom Schieffer.

6. Three times a Cubbie: Chicago shortstop Starlin Castro made three errors ? in the second inning ? which didn't harm the Colorado Rockies' chances in a 5-3 victory. To Castro's credit, a throwing error by pitcher Matt Garza helped the Rockies even more in the fifth. Way to cover for your teammate!

7. Cleanin' up: Brandon Phillips drove in three runs from the cleanup spot (with Scott Rolen out) and the Cincinnati Reds beat the Brewers 9-5. But, can Phillips do what Carlos Gomez does on this catch? I'm not sure all of these summersaults are quite necessary.

Follow Dave on Twitter ?�@AnswerDave ? and engage�the Stew on Facebook


Nolan Ryan O Oscar Robertson Otto Graham

The Shutdown Corner Podcast: Tom Brady

Safe to say, we were saving the best for last. After a number of Draft Masters podcasts, and interviews with several draft prospects, we thought we'd get some guy by the name of Tom Brady on the phone (thanks to our good friends at Under Armor) and see if he had anything interesting to say.

As you'd expect, he did.

In this exclusive interview with Shutdown Corner,�the New England Patriots superstar quarterback�talks about the reaction he had during the "Brady Six" Show on ESPN, what all those teams who passed on him missed out on in the evaluation process, how it helped him to learn behind Drew Bledsoe after the�Pats finally did take him in the sixth round, how he's managed to become that rare scheme-transcendent quarterback, how his relationship with Bill Belichick has changed over the years, and what he'd tell any quarterback the Patriots decided to draft this year.

Yes, it's a must-listen. We'd also like to direct your attention to the UStream chat and Q&A Brady did with fans on Friday morning for Under Armour.

Click on the link below to listen to our exclusive interview (or right-click to save to your hard drive)

The Shutdown Corner Podcast: Tom Brady


Muhammad Ali Nadia Comaneci Nolan Ryan O

Twins killing: Nathan yanked from ninth, grab Capps

In the world of fantasy, the closer carousel is always spinning. Stoppers walking on thin ice are one implosion away from a permanent demotion.

Minnesota's Joe Nathan is the latest to fall in.

After Nathan recorded his second consecutive blown save in Tampa on Saturday, Ron Gardenhire woke up Sunday morning with change in mind, formally replacing the former 47-save man with Matt Capps.

With the Twins free-falling and Nathan still in recovery mode ? his average fastball velocity sits at 91.2 mph, nearly two ticks down from his pre-TJ level ? the move was warranted. The veteran has tallied a gut-wrenching 8.44 ERA and walked five batters in just 5.1 innings.

Nathan was candid about his current physical state after Saturday's misstep, divulging to the Star Tribune he's "still going through the process," dealing with continual "inconsistencies." He remains hopeful extended work in middle relief will solve his problems.

Obviously, �Capps must be acquired immediately in all formats. Though adventurous in his own right this season, he has plenty of end-game experience. Splitting time between two teams last year, he logged a career-best 2.47 ERA and 42 saves. The 27-year-old, too, is also still rounding into form. According to Fangraphs, his average fastball velocity has dropped�noticeably�('10: 94.0 MPH, '11: 91.8). Still, his finer control — he's yet to walk a batter — is the primary reason for the switch. If he bombs, lefty Jose Mijares, who occasionally closed in the minors, could be next in line.

Once Nathan's speed resurfaces and consistent goose eggs are logged, he could regain his old gig. However, if Capps proves successful, the incumbent could remain in setup�purgatory.


Don Budge Don Hutson Eddie Arcaro Edwin Moses

The ‘Pitbulls’ offer another awesome finish at Bellator 41

In a highlight that should bring a smile to some fans' faces, Patricio "Pitbull" Freire scored another devastating finish for the "Pitbull" Brothers. See, the UFC doesn't have every good fighter in the world under contract ... yet.� The smaller of the two dynamos, took out a high level featherweight in Wilson Reis. "Pitbull" dominated most of the fight. Reis, a top level grappler and Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt had trouble getting Freire to the ground, and eventually wore down on the feet as "Pitbull" scored the finish at 3:29 of the final round.

Freire (16-1) advances to Bellator Season 4 featherweight final where he'll face Daniel Straus. That won't be an easy fight. Straus is a monster at 145 pounds and very good grappler. He dominated Kenny Foster, finishing with a third round guillotine choke in the other semifinal on Saturday. The win was particularly impressive for the massive Straus since the fight began with Arizona afternoon temperatures around 99 degrees.

Patricio's older brother Patricky, 25, reached the Bellator Season 4 lightweight final where he'll face Lloyd Woodard.

Joe Warren was successful in a non-title fight, but barely against Marcus Galvao. Warren, a bantamweight by trade, holds the Bellator featherweight title as well. By the looks of Straus and the Patricio "Pitbull," he'll be hard pressed to exit 2011 with that Bellator 145-pound strap. Warren and "Pitbull" met in the Season 3 final, where the American posted an amazing comeback victory after getting torn up in the first round. It looks like "Pitbull" has shored up any weakness that he had with his takedown defense.

The "Pitbulls" are on the verge of stardom. The MMA blogger for the Daily Mirror in the U.K. says they have a chance to be the next Nogueira brothers.


Mario Andretti Mario Lemieux Mark McGwire Mark Spitz

The finest shots of the weekend, brought to you by the Crime Dog

What the heck? Fred McGriff leading our shots of the weekend? Yep, he's here, along with Billy Mayfair, Jay Haas, Charlie Hoffman and Jhonattan Vegas. Some pretty shots here, tight around the green for some bottom-of-the-cup door-slamming. Please try very hard not to pay attention to the very sparse smatterings of applause around each of these shots. Still, better than anything you or I could do. Congrats, gentlemen.


Honus Wagner Jack Dempsey Jack Nicklaus Jackie Joyner-Kersee

What should the Blazers do with Brandon Roy?

This last weekend was a busy one for the NBA, with all manner of upsets and close games dominating the headlines. The clear highlight, though, was Brandon Roy's dominant 18-point fourth quarter to carry the Blazers to a series-tying win over the Mavericks on Saturday. It was an inspiring performance by a player whose knee problems have turned him from one of the brightest young stars in the league to a shadow of his former self. On Saturday, Roy was undoubtedly the best player on the court.

Lost in the hubbub surrounding Roy's stellar quarter, though, was that he played only 24 minutes in the game. That's the sort of playing time better suited for a top reserve than a star, and it helps put the game's accomplishments into better perspective. Roy did not regain his star form over the course of a game; he had perhaps the best quarter of his career while playing relatively limited minutes elsewhere. What this proves, more than anything, is that Roy is not necessarily positioned to become his team's most important player again. He just showed that he can take over a game on occasion.

The problem here is that Roy, as befits a man whose profession requires absurd confidence to succeed, has been generally unwilling to admit that he's entered a new stage of his career. At various times, Roy has claimed that his difficulties are mental rather than physical, which makes little sense based on the fact he no longer has knee cartilage. The Blazers may very well have identified that Roy cannot expect to become a star, but they likely can't make that plan clear to him without hurting his pride. It's a delicate balance to strike, and for the past year or so Portland has been stuck in a state of limbo in which Roy hasn't regularly played like his old self yet has done well enough to make his future role unclear. They have neither committed to Roy holding a primary spot in the rotation moving forward nor decided what the team would look like with him in a minor role.

Saturday's performance both clarified and muddled this situation. On one hand, Roy proved that he can sometimes be the best player on the court. However, he may now see himself as a star when the reality of the game -- again, he played only 24 minutes -- suggest he's better suited to a role off the bench. Monday night's Game 5 will help clear up how the Blazers view the situation. Will Nate McMillan increase Roy's playing time in the hope that he's turned a corner? Or will he hold his minutes steady and make clear that Roy is now the team's top scoring option off the bench?

The first option is clearly the more hopeful one, although it could also serve to keep Portland in the same state of franchise limbo it's been in for more than a year now. Roy isn't going to immediately manifest himself as a star again, and his knee problems suggest that even a few consecutive games of terrific play may be short-lived. Fans can afford to throw realism aside and get lost in the excitement of one amazing moment. Front offices and coaching staffs aren't so lucky.

If it's not clear yet, I think the Blazers should move forward with Roy as a key scorer off the bench. This decision may seem like a demotion, and in some ways it is. Yet if Roy's fourth quarter on Saturday told us anything about him, it's that he can still be the best player on the court for portions of a game. Manu Ginobili has spent much of his career playing around 30 minutes off the bench and still maintains his role as the Spurs' closer late in games. What's to say that Roy can't play a similar role for the Blazers and become a perennial contender for Sixth Man of the Year?

If Roy plays that role capably, he can keep a place in the spotlight while also hewing to more realistic goals. It's not ideal, but it's a decent solution in a league that usually isn't very kind to fantasies.


David Ortiz Hanley Ramirez Martin Prado Albert Pujols

The Texas Open happened, but you probably didn’t notice

It's interesting to think that the week after the Masters used to be one of the best weeks of the year. The first major championship, and my favorite, had come and gone but a ton of big names on the PGA Tour would head over to Hilton Head to take on one of the prettiest, and toughest, golf courses of the year. It was always interesting to see some of the names in the field following Augusta National, but when you heard about the golf course and how the resort took care of the wives throughout the week, it made sense.

But that tradition is no more, and instead, we were handed the Valero Texas Open, an event that is perfectly fine, but not anything like Harbour Town, and it showed over the weekend.

Don't get me wrong, this week in San Antonio produced some great stories, with Brendan Steele winning in his rookie season on the PGA Tour, Rich Beem making his first cut in over a year, and Keegan Bradley carding his second top-10 of his rookie season, but most of you probably only heard about one thing; the 16 by Kevin Na.

That's because the Texas Open isn't going to bring the firepower that Hilton Head did. It isn't that type of event, and as much as us media types can talk it up, it really does a disservice to both that event and golf fans in general by tossing it the week behind the Masters. My uncle remarked to me on Sunday afternoon that he used to love the Texas Open when it was played as part of the Fall Series, and even liked it in May the last couple of years, but it's just too hard for a tournament to survive after a major when it doesn't have anything spectacular to give. The Heritage has a beautiful golf course that golf fans flock from around the country to play, and it's fun to see players on the tough 18th trying to survive, even when the feel of the event seems lax compared to the week before.

This wasn't like that, and you could feel it all week.


Ryan Kalil Shaun Phillips Steven Jackson Strong safety

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Breakfast Buffet: Charles Jenkins again named New York’s best

1. What does Hofstra senior Charles Jenkins have in common with former Columbia star Jim McMillian and ex-St. John's great Chris Mullin? They are the only three to ever have captured three Haggerty awards given annually to the best player in the New York metropolitan area.

2. Katie Thomas of The New York Times wrote a terrific piece about the deception and subterfuge many institutions have resorted to to make it appear they're in compliance with Title IX. I certainly won't defend the manner in which cash-strapped schools are sidestepping the rule, but I sympathize with the motive, which is often to avoid trimming a non-revenue men's sport since the institution can't afford to add a women's equivalent.

3. Could San Diego State ever receive an invite to the Big 12? Athletic director Jim Sterk doesn't seem to think it's as unlikely as many others do. "Believe me, long-term, that could be, you never know," Sterk told the San Diego Union Tribune on Tuesday. "A foothold in California for (the Big 12's) TV (contract) wouldn't be bad."

4. On the same day that Rick Pitino said he may not wind up coaching the Puerto Rican national team as expected, John Calipari confirmed he's considering an offer from the Dominican national team. "I wanted the Big Blue Nation to be aware of what's going on in," Calipari said in a statement. "If I move forward on this, I'll be asking you to adopt the Dominican Republic national team as your third team behind your Kentucky Wildcats and Team USA."

5.'s Seth Davis offers his thoughts on some of this spring's coaching moves in this best and worst column. Davis makes an especially good point in blasting Oklahoma for firing Jeff Capel just two years after he led the Sooners to an Elite Eight. Yes, the program had slipped since then, but unless he's named in the NCAA sanctions, that firing seems a bit premature.

Xavier has made a habit of winning with under-the-radar recruits, but the Musketeers landed a fairly highly regarded class of 2011 prospect in 6-foot-5 Dezmine Wells. Ball is Life brings you some of his best highlights.

"No coach in football or basketball has ever returned [to be head coach] at Wyoming. People always escape. I like the outdoors. I like small college towns -- Laramie; Clemson, S.C.; Gainesville, Fla. My wife, Pam, enjoys cool weather. She doesn't enjoy deep heat and humidity." -- new Wyoming coach Larry Shyatt explaining why he returned to Laramie for a second tour of duty. (


Bill Tilden Billie Jean King Bob Cousy Bob Gibson

Eulogy: Remembering the 2010-11 Buffalo Sabres

(Ed. Note: As the Stanley Cup Playoffs continue, we're bound to lose some friends along the journey. We've asked for these losers, gone but not forgotten, to be eulogized by the people who knew the teams best: The fans who hated them the most. Here is the crew from the Philadelphia Flyers blog Flyers Goal Scored By fondly recalling the 2010-11 Buffalo Sabres. Again, this was not written by us. But you're probably not reading the intro anyway.)

By Flyers Goal Scored By

Tiny bits of rust fall from the sky. A group of mourners, mostly in black Dominik Hasek jerseys, sit before a medium sized tombstone in the honey barbeque sunset.

"Here lie the 2010-11 Buffalo Sabres who, in the true spirit of the city, came close before failing."

It is unseasonably hot in Buffalo on this April afternoon. As the people wait 5 Alarm beads of sweat run down their red faces, some women cool themselves by making fans from their divorce papers.

Finally, the puttering of a worn-down pick-up breaks the silence. As it pulls alongside the grave site Sabres owner Terry Pegula hops out of the bed, grabs his bindle, and offers $88 million to an old man in an Argonauts hat, who declines the money citing he has no desire to start a Division 1 NCAA hockey team in Pennsylvania. The truck limps off into the now mild sunset.

"Apologies everyone. This is my first one of these, but I do believe that practice makes perfect, or better at least, so I expect to improve as the years pass," said Pegula.

Pegula pulls out a piece of cheese steak-stained paper, unfolds it and continues to speak as the crowd sits in a daze.

PEGULA: "First of all, I would like to pass along condolences from former owner, Tom Golisano, who could not be here because he declined my invitation. I'd like to thank him for rescuing this franchise from an embarrassing two years of embezzlement scandal and guiding it through almost a decade of mediocrity."

(Pegula pauses and looks at the crowd expectantly. He momentarily losses his focus as he stares at a child in a "Miller's Mass Murders" T-shirt. He regains his composure.)

"People said I was crazy when, upon purchasing the Sabres this past winter, I remarked 'We're gonna win the Stanley Cup. Then, you know what, we're going to win it again.' Since my immense wealth and the access it provides access to life-extending drugs and futuristic machinery, I do plan to make good on that promise. Whether you are around to see it too … well that is highly doubtful. I mean, if you thought I meant this year you've been sniffing the local air."

"For starters, I came into a situation where we still have the same General Manager and Head Coach we had when Bill Clinton was just beginning his second term as President. That's no joke, I had to look it up, but it's true. What did you think was going to happen? They were suddenly going to just become winners after 13 years?

"Granted, they did bring high profile defensemen Jordan Leopold and Shaone Morrisonn to The Queen City in the off-season, but even signing the most talented free agents available, which I want to make clear they did, wasn't going to make up for the fact that we let Raffi Torres walk. Torres. For nothing.

"But I am not here to assign blame on such a sad occasion, because even though it's my first true hockey love, the Philadelphia Flyers, that get to continue on their run at a 3rd Stanley Cup as a result of our elimination, I'm still as sad as if I were actually a Sabres fan. I truly am. The pain of a bad investment is a burden no businessman carries lightly. It also makes me sad that the wonderful citizens of the second largest city in the state, that's right, number two, give yourselves a hand..."

(Miroslav Satan puts his thermos under his arm and claps zealously in the background.)

"...It makes me sad that a team led by one of your very own, a local hero�from the half-man half-goat community of Angola, was unable to feed off of the success that teams usually have when they waive their captain in the middle of the season.

"Also, sad that assembling a group of no-name players like Kyle McCormick and Bobby Butler didn't lead to Lake Placidian levels of success, especially with the Olympic MVP in net. And I know the Olympics were 15 months ago but I'm still going to say it - Olympic MVP. There."

(A "boo-yah" comes from a small man in the LaFontaine sweater, members of the slowly sobering crowd nod in agreement.)

"Now, I cannot personally speak to the decisions made over the past few years, but when I look back, as a self-made billionaire business man, I do see an overarching and important trend: constant improvement. I believe the darkest of times are behind us. When the Sabres didn't make the playoffs with a 90-point performance in 2008 what did the franchise do? That's right, they came back next year and didn't make the playoffs with a 91-point performance. And then in 2010 the trend continued and your Buffalo Sabres won the Northeast.

"But only going six games into the playoffs, fans were still left unsatisfied. You cried for more improvement, so banished to the NHL wasteland otherwise known as not-the-Sabres were key defensive components and leaders Toni Lydman and Henrik Tallinder. Brought to the Sabres was Rob "The Rocket" Niedermayer, and improvement you got.

"Seven… We went seven games into the playoffs, not six like last year. And I'll promise you this right now because I'm a promising type of guy -- we will make it into the second round next year before being knocked out by a team whose skill and investment to winning far exceeds our own. I've already commissioned a local artist to turn that distracting Rick Martin tribute behind the net from a '7' into a '2', so we do not forget our dreams and ambitions for the 2011-12 season.

"Yes, the future is bright. I stand here now and think about how much our team achieved with centers Mr. Glass and Ludo, of our child-sized wingers, of our teenage defensive core, our Olympic MVP goalie who we've luckily only wasted 9 years of his pro career, and it makes me tear up with joy.

"This is a happy time for Buffalo. This is a watershed moment in the city's history. For we well strive to achieve "A New Level of Almost" in this city in the coming years. A level of almost that would make the 1999 Buffalo Sabres cringe with ecstasy. We'll make the Bills of the early '90's jaws fall off with how many years we don't win in a row. Using Mike Grier's fielding skills and Tyler Myers' height skills we'll leave our newly formed MLB and NBA franchises in the rearview mirror of our used Miatas.

"So please leave this solemn occasion filled with hope. Hope that one day you'll look back and say, 'Hey Bubba, remember when we used to lose those early playoff series? That was way easier to take than this.'

"Believe in the sweet and sour, believe in the light and dark. Because I promise you, again, that your children might see a championship in this city one day. And your children's children definitely might."


The sun is now all but set and most of the crowd has dispersed. Rick Jeaneret plays "Amazing Grace" on the organ as Terry Pegula pensively watches a chubby man in a tight and worn No. 18 jersey disappear over a hill into the horizon. He takes out his phone and searches for "Sabres Grosek."

The eulogy was written by Flyers Goal Scored By. We can't stress this enough.


Ty Cobb Walter Johnson Walter Payton Warren Spahn