Wednesday, October 31, 2007

10/30/07: Game 11: Penguins 4 - Minnesota 2

It's never an easy game when you head into Minnesota to take on two-time Jack Adams Award winner Jacques Lemaire and his Wild team. The franchise disregards common practices around the NHL, and does so quite successfully, currently sitting atop the Northwest Division.

Heading into the game, I was a little concerned that the Penguins would look somewhat discombobulated next to such an efficient squad. But instead it was the Penugin's who may have finally proved their mettle, in was possibly their best 60 minutes of hockey this season.

The first 2 periods were close, the Wild's conservative play minimalized scoring opportunities, taking the game into the 3rd tied at 2 a piece. But the Penguins offensive eventually broke through, scoring 2 in the 3rd and going on to defeat Minnesota 4-2.

Evgeni Malkin continued his dominant play scoring the first 2 goals, and assisting on another. Sykora scored on the power play in the 3rd. Sidney Crosby scored a breakaway, beating Minnesota backup Josh Harding, and finished the night with a goal and 3 assists.

Both Sergei Gonchar and Ryan Malone had 2 assists. And Dany Sabourin, who started in lieu of the thus far inconsistent Marc-Andre Fleury, stopped 28 of 30 shots, picking up his second win of the season.

Jordan Staal has been relatively quiet so far with only 2 points through 11 games, let's hope he can kick the sophomore slump when the Penguins take on the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday at 9 o'clock.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Acceptance Speach

See, in life there is always something to get excited about. Alright, yeah, the World Series kinda sucked. And come to think of it, How I Met Your Mother wasn't that great last night either. But that's okay, because there is still tons of stuff going down. Like, for say, the Barry Melrose Rocks weekly comments contest, where yours truly picked up the coveted Golden Mullet. It is an award I humbly accept with much honor, and is, for those keeping track at home, my second point (I picked up the assist a couple weeks back). Surely now my parents are proud of me, and no longer think I'm wasting my life writing about the newest athlete to be linked to performance enhancing drugs, or who the next coach of the Thrashers might be.

But now I'm off to go run 15 miles, thus proving myself as the superior athletic being that I imagine myself to be, and with any hope I'll recover in time to catch the Penguins against the Wild tonight.

Monday, October 29, 2007

10/27/07: Game 10: Penguins 3 - Candiens 4 SO

Carey Price got the call again for the Montreal Canadiens as they headed into Pittsburgh to take on the enigmatic Penguins. So far this season it's been impossible to get an accurate read on this team. One thins is for certain, they have the talent. But it seems as if a new line combination is taking the ice every minute, and Marc-Andre Fleury continues to baffle the Penguins faithful.

This game was truly a story of two games for me. I caught the first period and beginning of the second before heading out for holiday shenanigans, leaving the game in the trusty hands our the DVR. Already, by the time I left the game the Penguins had allowed 3 goals, and Fleury had been pulled in favor of backup Dany Sabourin. I was almost thankful to leave.

Later, when I returned, I battled if I even wanted to watch the rest of the game. I was tired, and the Penguins were down 3 goals early. Reluctantly I decided to give it a shot.

Only moments after the 3rd goal Alex Kovalev boarded Evegeni Malkin, on what appeared to be a dead play due to offsides. An infuriated Sidney Crosby tackeld Kovalev to the ice. He received 2 minutes for Roughing, as did Kovalev, along with 2 minutes for Boarding.

Energized by Crosby's play, the Penguins 2nd power play united scored on the break, Adam Hall to Evgeni Malkin, who found Petr Sykora who put it home.

Five minutes later Crosby picked up one of his own, rushing down the ice Crosby and Malkin preformed the give and go, who scored to put the Penguins within one.

It stayed at 3-2, due to the play of Sabourin and Price, until Evgeni Malkin drew a slashing penalty with less than 3 minutes in the game. On the power play, when working out of the corner Malkin found Ryan Whitney across ice, and Whitney beat Price to tie the game with only 1:52 left in regulation.

In overtime the Penguins found themselves killing a power play thanks to an extremely weak hooking call on Ryan Malone. Two minute 4-3 penalty kills are dangerous, but Sabourin made some big saves to keep the game alive.

The shootout arrived, and it became the Carey Price-Dany Sabourin show. Combined, they stopped the first 15 shooters, before Andrei Markov scored in his first shootout appearance, giving the Canadiens the 4-3 victory.

The most disappointing part of the Penguins shooters wasn't that they were stopped by Price, who was once again on his game, but instead how many players didn't even get a shot on goal. Erik Christensen, Petr Sykora, Jarko Ruutu, Sergei Gonchar, Ryan Whitney, and Mark Reechi missed the net. 6 of our 8 shooters didn't even put it on net.

Now, after such a superb performance by Dany Sabourin, it's time to see just how much confidence the Penguins have in Marc-Andre Fleury. Pittsburgh take on the Wild on Tuesday night in Minnesota, and I would not be surprised to see Sabourin between the pipes.

10/25/07: Game 9: Penguins 2 - Toronto 5

I find myself falling behind in Penguins game reviews when I don't get them up immediately following the game, which is why thanks to the World Series and a Halloween outing Saturday night, I'm back 2 games. But it seems a shame not to say anything, so I'll get in a brief little something-something.

Let's see, which games was this. Oh, that's right, now I remember another reason I wasn't so eager to get into this game. We sucked.

The Pens got the early lead with Sidney Crosby goal, assisted by Reechi and Malkin, and took the 1-0 lead into the 2nd.

After numerous opportunities, the Leafs finally tied in up in the 2nd, with an Alex Steen goal.

Heading into the 3rd, the Penguins were being severely overplayed, and yet somehow maintained in the game. It looked like one of those ugly games that a good team knows how to win. But then the 3rd period happened.

2 minutes into the 3rd the Penguins allowed two goals Jiri Tlusty in 35 seconds, giving the Leafs the 3-1 lead.

Later in the 3rd near the 10 minute mark the Leafs scored another couple goals, this time in only 33 seconds (Tomas Kaberle, Boyd Devereaux). 5-1

The Penguins made it somewhat more respectable, picking up another goal, this one on the power play (Goncahar assisted by Malkin and Crosby). But that was the game 5-2.

Its easy to blame Fleury for a 4 goal 3rd period, but it comes down to the Penguins not doing what they need to do, especially in the defensive and neutral zones.

Following the game Michel Therrien sounded somewhat befuddled in the post-game conference. He called it "a game that you have to win." Considering how the Leafs have been playing, I'd say he's right.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

World Series Game Four Live Blog

Boston - 4 Colorado - 3 FINAL

Geesh, look at Bud Selig, the guy is a mess. How much is he paid. Can he not afford an actual suit?

Well I guess that's it. That's everything. The 2007 World Series was dominated by Taco Bell, but it was eventually won by the Boston Red Sox. Mike Lowell picked up the much deserved MVP Award. Overall, yeah it wasn't really too exciting, though the storylines were there.

It was only by an amazing win streak that the Rockies even made the postseason. Then they swept the Phillies and the Diamondbacks. Coming into the series the Rockies were red hot.

Boston was dominate throughout the season, winning the AL East for the first time since 1995. They were down 3 games to 1, but rebounded, winning 3 straight to get into the World Series. But since then, kinda dull. Oh well, they can't all have Mazeroski hitting a series winning bottom of the 9th walkoff homer in the decisive game 7.

But I'm sure the "Red Sox Nation" is happy. And I'm fine with that, I have no problem with Red Sox fans from Boston (or previously from Boston), it's just everyone from everywhere else who are going to head to the mall, pick up a Red Sox hat. It's those guys that make me root against the Red Sox. Well that and a ridiculously high payroll, but what can you do?

9th Inning
- Well we are here in the 9th and it's a one out game.

- Lowell flies out, Drew grounds out, and Varitek goes down swinging.

- Well now it's all on the Rockies bats. It's 4-3, Boston, and they have 3 outs.

- Torrealba is up first in the 9th. A grounder to second, one out.

- Jamey Carroll comes up second to pinch hit. A deep hit to the wall in left field, but Ellsbury pulls it down on at the wall. Collectively Colorados heart just sank.

- Seth Smith up third. The Red Sox are only an out away.

- Strike Three. The Red Sox win it all.

8th Inning
- Fox just showed a shameless montage of clips of the World Series and American Idol. Pathetic.

- And in baseball news the Red Sox have extended the lead with a pinch hit homer by Bobby Kielty. 4-1.

- BREAKING NEWS: A-Rod is opting out. Wow. What kind of timing is that? Really, it's kind of the most exciting thing to happen all night. Way to show up the World Series A-Rod.

- Ellsbury singles, but Pedroia hits into a double play. Two down. The Colorado defense really has been up to the challenge of the Sox hitters this series, it's a shame the Rockies bats didn't show up.

- Ortiz walks and Coco Crisp is gonna come in to run for him. At the same time Corpas comes in to pitch for the Rockies.

- Manny strikes out. Three down.

- Rockies are down 4-1 and only have 6 outs left in their 2007 season.

- Hideki Okajima takes the mound for the Sox in the 8th.

- Holliday strikes out. One down. Helton hits a seeing-eye grounder and ends up on first. The tying run is on deck.

- Garrett Atkins might have just made a game out of this. He sent a two-run shot into the left field stands, putting the Rockies within 1. 4-3

Could we actually see some action in this series?

- Okay, this littering commercial raises a question I've been pondering. Throwing plastic bottles and whatnot on the ground is definitely littering, and probably not that cool. But I contend that if something is biodegradable, like a banana peel or whatever, it's not littering. I'm just saying, it's good for the soil, I think.

- ANYWAYS, Papelbon is in for the Red Sox now, looking to protect the one run lead.

- Spilborghs grounds out, and Hawpe flies out. Papelbon is as close as there is to a sure thing.

7th Inning
- 3 nothing Boston. Lowell sent one deep into left field, and it looks like that's it for Aaron Cook tonight. He's had a great game, just no run support. Cooke went 6 innings, allowing 3 runs on 6 hits.

- It looks like Jeremy Affeldt is coming in for the Rockies. We'll see how long he lasts tonight.

- Affeldt just struck out JD Drew, and I think he thought that was it for the inning. He started walking towards the dugout before realizing it was only the first out. No, it's alright, just play it cool. I don't think any of the millions of people watching noticed.

- Varitek singled, but Lugo grounded into an unassisted doubleplay by Helton.

- Seventh inning stretch, and some country band that I've never heard of. Apparently they have sold 10 million albums. In related news, in general people have poor musical taste.

- Brad Hawpe after seeing the treatment other leadoff hitters recieved after getting on base, decides to do it all himself and sends one into the right field bleachers. And the Rockies finally put a run on the board. 3-1.

- Torrealba flies out. One out. Pinch hitting for Affeldt is Corey Sullivan who hits a grounder up the middle for a single.

Matsui is now up to bat and represents the tying run. Are the Rockies actually going to get into this game?

- Mike Timlin is now on the mound for the Bo Sox.

- Matsui strikes out. Two outs, and the Rockies are threatening to strand another runner. And I think they mean it, they've done it before.

- Tulowitzki strikes out, again. Rockies strand, again. Red Sox a mere 6 outs away from the World Series, and all it took was a salary about 56 million dollars more than the league median.

6th Inning
- Another 1, 2 , 3 for Aaron Cook. The guy is out there doing it all. He gets Pedroia, Ortiz and Ramirez all to ground out.

- The guys at FOX are obsessing over this poll question which Red Sox team is better, this season's or 2004's. Everyone seems to agree it's this years squad, but the 04 Sox won more games in the regular season, and were up against a much tougher Yankees team in the AL East, and eventually in the playoffs.

- Holliday pops out and Helton lines out.

- Jon Lester just hit 90 pitches, this should be it for him after the 6th.

- Adkins walks and Lester is done for the evening. He went 5.2 scoreless innings, allowing only 3 hits.

- You know the deal. Rockies inning over, runner stranded. Boston is 9 outs away from a World Series ring.
5th Inning
- Lowell opens the 5th by smacking the first pitch he sees for a double.

- Variteks grounder gets through the right side of the infield and Lowell scores from 2nd. 2-0 Red Sox.

- Lugo singles up the middle. Runners on 1st and 2nd for the pitcher Jon Lester.

- Joe and Tim are talking about how tough it must be on the Red Sox pitchers who actually have to hit. Yes, those poor little things who have designated hitters hit for them every other game of the season. Lester attempts to bunt, but strikes out.

- Cook strikes out Ellsbury. 3 hits, 1 run, and the Red Sox take their turn stranding 2 runners.

- This games moving right along, and we're already in the 6th. But I'll tell you, if the Rockies don't wake up offensively they are going to very quickly find their season over.

- Immediately following the commentators second guessing the decision to allow Cook hit, Cook lays down a well placed bunt for a single. On the evening, Aaron Cook is 1 for 2, the rest of the Rockies hitters are 2 for 16.

- Matsui pops out and Tulowitzki grounds out. Red Sox are only 12 outs away.

4th Inning
- Both pitchers are off to dominating starts. Aaron Cook has not allowed a hit since the 1st.

- Pedroia grounds out, Ortiz pops out and Ramirez lines out. Another 1, 2, 3. Cooks only thrown 42 pitches through 4 innings.

- Helton grounds out and Atkins lines one to the shortstop.

- Spilborghs walks, and the Rockies have someone on with two outs. Lets see if they can move him around the bases some. So far tonight Colorado is stranding people like they are the SS Minnow.

- Hawpe flies out to end the inning.

- Terry Francona says the pitch count on Lester is probably somewhere around 90 pitches. He's at 68 pitches.

3rd Inning
- It seems like half the commercials for sporting events are for all these wealth management companies. Funds, stocks and whatnot. Apparently all the other sports fans must have a lot of money.

- Julio Lugo, Jon Lester and Jacoby Ellsbury ground out. Another 1, 2, 3 inning.

- Talk to your kids about steroids, because they are dangerous. Fail one of those tests and you are screwed. HGH is pretty much undetectable though.

- Aaron Cook flied out to right. Then Matsui hits one that gets over Manny in left for a double. Ramirez is under contract through next season (with a team option for 2 more) but there's been talk of dealing Manny in the past. I would certainly be interesting to see him have to play outfield outside of the Fenway's tiny outfield.

- Lester strikes out Tulowitzki and Holliday, another runner stranded by the Rockies.

2nd Inning
- Mike Lowell grounds out, JD Drew pops out, and Jason Varitek grounds out. At this pace the game will be over by a little after 10.

-Todd Helton stretched an outfield hit into a double. Garrett Adkins grounds out and Spilborghs flies out, advancing Helton to third with 2 outs. Brad Hawpe walks. Runners on the corners. Yoruit Torrealba could really wake up Coors park with an RBI hit.

- Torrealba grounds out and the Rockies strand 2.

1st Inning
- Fred Willard just read the Red Sox's lineup card. Which is actually kind of awesome. Also kind of awesome, I just sat through the half hour pregame show and I didn't hear or see Eric Byrnes once.

- Jacoby Ellsbury leads off the game with a double, and is moved over to third by Dustin Pedroia on a ground out. A David Ortiz grounder gets through the Rockies infielders who are playing in, and Ellsbury scores. Here we go again. Red Sox - 1 Colorado - 0

- Manny Ramirez grounds into a twin killing, and thats it for the Red Sox in the first. 2 Hits, 1 run.

- Brad Garrett, also known as Raymond's cop brother, read the Rockies line-up. He is no Fred Willard.

- Kaz Matsui pops out, Troy Tulowitzki strikes out, and Matt Holliday grounds out. 1, 2, 3.


Tonight could be everything for the Boston Red Sox, as they sit only one win away from clinching the 2007 World Series. For the Colorado Rockies, they face the seemingly insurmountable task of coming back from 3 games back in a 7 game series.Game four is tonight at 8:30 in Colorado.

Jon Lester (4-0, 4.57 ERA) will start tonight for the Red Sox. He has yet to start in the postseason, but he pitched 3 scoreless innings in relief against the Cleveland Indians in Game 4. Lester is starting in place of Tim Wakefield who was left off Boston's World Series roster due to injury.

Taking the mound for the Rockies is Aaron Cook (8-7, 4.12 ERA). Cooke has not pitched in the majors since August 10th due to a strained left oblique muscle.

I've been pulling for the Rockies all series, but at this point I guess I'm willing to concede that the Red Sox will in all likelihood once again be World Series Champs. Though it would be nice for Colorado to win at least one, and force the series back to Boston. That way the Rockies can save face, giving their home crowd a win, and the Sox can go on to win the Series at home. But with the dominance Boston has shown, I don't know if that's in the cards.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

World Series Game Two Game Blog

Thats all she wrote, it only took a couple runs, but the Red Sox are going to head into Colorado on Saturday with a commanding 2-0 lead. We'll see if the Rockies can get things going at home. The games Saturday at 8, and we'll be there with a live game blog.

9th Inning

- Well the 9th is here, and despite limiting the Red Sox to only two runs, the Colorado Rockies are still 3 outs away from being down in this series 2-0.

- Helton strikes out swinging, and things are looking bleak with Papelbon pitching so well on the mound.

Adkins flies to center. One out away.

8th Inning

- Well Jonathon Papelbon is heading in, but that's about it. Nothing happening.

I hate how in commercials and movies and whatnot, when someone get's peanuts, the guy just throws them at them. What games are they going to where you don't have to pay like $4 for peanuts?

- I must admit, I'm tough on signs and whatnot, but that dancing Papelbon was actually entirely awesome. That took some creativity, not just to come up with it, but how do you even make that?

- Oh snap! PICK-OFF! Holliday has had a great game (4 for 4), but thats just embarrassing. What's he doing out there?

- Wow. Crazy stuff happening. Lugo just ran into his own fair bunt, and is ruled out. Holliday is feeling alot better about himself now.

- Man, that preppy white guy that plays tennis and pays with cash is ruining everything for those Saints fans.

- Papelbon wraps towels around his money-maker. Insert your own crude joke here.

7th Inning
- Well it's a one-run game, this is where the men are separated from the boys. But Jordan Tracy separates the men from the werewolves.

- Oh man, Boyz 2 Men. Seriously, I didn't know they were coming up when I pulled the whole werewolf joke.

6th Inning

- Good Morning, that ump just got jacked in the mask by that pitch. I wonder how he feels about Schillings loss of velocity.

- Okay, the first time they played the Taco Bell conversation is the dugout, I laughed. Some didn't, be I did. But again with it? And than an interview with the Taco Bell CEO in the stands?

- Looks like Schilling is done. One out and two on-base. Depending on how long this series is, that might be it for Schilling. He says he wants to pitch in '08, but it may not be for the Sox.

Hideki Okajima comes in relief.

- This has nothing to do with the game, but they just mentioned the NFL game in London a second ago. And if you haven't seen this huge Jason Taylor robot, then you are missing out. Scary stuff.

- I will never get chili on my Nacho Bellgrande. Just out of spite.

- Youkilis and Hedge really had a battle going on out there. 10 pitch walk. I thought he had been pitching well, but it looks like Colorado is bringing someone else in.

- Fuentes gets the Rocks out of another jam. Somehow they are still completely in this game. They'll only allowed 4 hits, but as a team they have allowed 7 bases on balls and 1 hit by pitch.

5th Inning
- That was quite a stretch by Helton at first. Fielders are certainly giving Jimenez a chance. The game is still close, and we are getting to the point were both teams might start thinking about the bullpen

- Sox finally took advantage of Jimenez and are now up 2-1. And it looks like the Rockies have seen enough, they are going to the bullpen. They have been barely surviving this game, and with runners on 2nd and 3rd with 2 outs, if they can get out of this only down one, they'll be lucky.

-Jeremy Affeldt's coming into the game. I actually saw this guy pitch when he was in single A years ago. Which, yes I know, is incredibly interesting.

- Hello, goodbye. Affeldt is out after a walk that loads the bases.

- Herges gets the Rockies out of a jam, and I'm left wondering how the Rockies are still in this game.

Hold on. Was that pass interference on the eBay commercial?

4th Inning
- Colorado didn't take advantage of Holliday leading off the 4th with a single. Now we'll see how Jimenez does here in the fourth, he must feel like he just got off the mound. He needs to settle down and find his control , I've got a bad feeling.

- Wait ... did I hear that right? Later in the game they are going to show a preview for this season of 24 from a huge blimp above the stadium. Man, I love America.

-Sac fly by Varitek scored Lowell from 3rd. Tie game. Sox only have one hit tonight, but Jimenez has put 5 on first himself.

- TACO!!! TACO!!! Thank Jacoby Ellsbury for your free taco on Oct 30th.

- Boston tied it up, but it could have been much worse out there. Here comes the fifth, I'm still waiting for someone to really open this game up.

3rd Inning

- Geesh, they are really bumming everyone out there in the booth this inning. Talking about a young intern who was tragically killed this past weekend right after commenting on the wildfires that are ravishing southern California. It's probably a marketing ploy. Who wants to bet there's a Zoloft commercial next break.

- Both pitchers are looking great out there. Doesn't look like we'll be seeing 14 runs tonight.

- They really are a downer in the booth tonight. Now they mention this.

- NO! We almost got the taco there, save for a foul and then a walk. Jimenez control might start to become a factor.

- Ortiz almost made Jimenez pay for two walks, with a home run ball that veered just foul. Somehow he got through that, and somehow I got through the 3rd without them bringing up my childhood goldfish's death.

2nd Inning

- Jimenez is throwing hard, and it looks like that top-notch Rockies defense is back again.

- Oh that has got to hurt. JD Drew is feeling that one. It hurts just watching it.

- This just in: Jason Varitek listens to the Dave Matthews band. What a tool. He probably calls him "Dave" too. Rule to live by, if you haven't had a face-to-face conversation with someone, don't call them by their first name.

1st Inning
- Well I'm not sure if that ball actually hit Taveras, but when the lead-off runner gets on first, he scores about 30% of the time. And ... ah, scoring is important.

- OH MAN!!! I almost got my taco!

- Colorado up 1-0. See I told you 30%.

[Why not switch it up and put updates on top. That might be easier then scrolling all the way to the end of the post, especially as the game goes on]

- Boston go down in order. I think thats the first time of the series. (Check that, they did in the 8th last night)


- Game Two doesn't start for a few hours, but I figured I'd get the preview up early, that way everyone can get in any pregame predictions or commentary they'd like to make.

Curt Schilling will take the mound tonight for the Red Sox. He's 2-0 postseason with a 3.38 ERA. He had a no-decision in Game Two of the ALCS against the Indians, where he allowed 9 hits and 5 earned runs through 4.2 innings. He has some World Series commentary over at his blog, 38 Pitches.

23 year old Ubaldo Jimenez will see if he's up the task of facing the Boston bats tonight. He's started 2 games this postseason, with 2 no-decisions and a 1.59 ERA.

I'm looking for the Rockies to bounce back tonight (although really, how much worse could they do?). I don't know if that's gonna spell a win for them, but I'm rooting for them to at least make a series out of it. This may be more wishful thinking than anything else, but I'm saying the Rockies win tonight, 7-4.

What do you guys think. Leave some predictions in the comments.

- The Tivo is gonna be hard at work tonight. Of course I'll be watching Game two, along with tonight's Pittsburgh Penguins game (thank God for split screen). And on top of that tonight is 30 Rock, The Office, and the Scrubs premiere. Perhaps I watch too much television.

- Am I the only person who gets upset when they show a little kid in attendance of a playoff game? Don't get me wrong, I think it's important to market the game to future generations, but when they are so young that they can't appreciate it, should they really be filling a seat?

Philadelphia Marathon Update: 23 Days

Things are really moving quickly, I've only got about 3 more weeks to go. Last update I was full of doubt, but I've had some good runs and slowly my confidence is building up. On Saturday I ran 10 miles, and this Saturday I'm shooting for 15 miles. Though I'm still left wondering just how accurate Google Maps are when it comes to short distances. I think for the longer runs, like the 15 miles, I may head to a local high school track for something a little more precise. Part of me is hoping that my normal routine is longer than the advertised 2.5 miles, and a little part of me is scared that it's shorter.

The big news is, however, that apparently no headphones are allowed at the marathon. That just doesn't seem right. Don't listening to music and running go hand in hand? I'm gonna go ahead and guess this is a rule that everyone breaks, because I'm not sure how I'd do without my mp3 player. Like I've said before, running is incredibly boring.

At this point my goal is to hit 20 miles by the 6th of November, that should give me almost two weeks to slow things down and recoup before the marathon. I'm now confident I will finish, the only question is at what pace. Currently the over-under is looking like somewhere around 5 hours, but I'd really like to drop that to 4 1/2.

I think sometime this week I'm gonna actually make the plunge and submit my application and payment. Which along with buying a pair of running shoes, will probably clear me out. I guess it's time I start filling out some applications of the job variety.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

World Series Game One Game Blog

- Coverage on Fox just started, with an incredibly bad overly sentimental opening. I think at one point they mentioned Odysseus. Really? But the first pitch won't be thrown until 8:35, so unless you're willing to sit through 35 minutes of color analysts telling you how much you don't know about the Colorado Rockies, or how devoted the "Red Sox Nation" is, then I suggest you find something else for a while. The episode of M*A*S*H where Klinger finds out his ex-wife is getting remarried so he reenlists is playing on TV Land.

- Alright, now we are about ten minutes until the opening pitch. And so it's probably time for predictions and whatnot. What do I think? It's probably going to be tough for the Rockies with the layoff and the Sox's having home field advantage. However, going along with my belief that the Rockies will never lose another game again, I'm picking them for the sweep. It might be unlikely, but it would probably go down as one of the greatest stories in baseball ever.

Oh yeah, plus I can't stand the Red Sox, who, if you haven't been paying attention, are the new Yankees.

First Inning
- Finally the first pitch. Here we go. And how about that World Series logo on the side of the hats. Are they big enough?

- Well Becket struck out the top of the first. You know what, this guys might be kinda good.

- Pedroia just got over the green for a lead off home run. Things aren't starting well for Colorado. Youkilis scored after doubling. Manny Ramirez scored on a JD Drew double. Jeff Francis is struggling out there right now. He needs to find the third out and get to the dugout.

- Francis got out alive. I don't understand that guy from the iPhone commercial. He couldn't remember the other peoples name, but he remembered their wedding website address. Wouldn't their name be somewhere in that address?

2nd Inning
- After another K, someone finally put the ball into play against Beckett. Thanks to a couple hits off the wall the Rockies are on the board.

Is it just me, or did someone pay probably hundreds of dollars for a seat right behind home plate in the World Series and the camera is completely blocking his view. I keep seeing him ducking left and right like he sat behind the tall guy at the movie theater.

- Another run, Youkiliz scoring from first. It's really coming down out there. Makes me glad to be sitting in the comfort of my own sofa.

3rd Inning
- Still no stolen base. I'm looking to score a free taco.

- Nothing much happening. The rain has picked up. I'd be surprised if we don't have a break in the action.

4th Inning
-Beckett's on quite the pace. He just picked up K #7. The World Series record is Bob Gibson with 17 in 1968.

- Allegedly the rain is supposed to died down, but's radar seems to disagree. Jeff Francis isn't looking great out there. Manny was not being Manny out there, he actually ran out a hit.

- The Red Sox nation may have just cost their team some runs interfering with the shot down the 3rd base line. What do you guys think?

- Well the Sox put another 2 on the board. 6-1, Boston. Looks like Francis might be done.

5th Inning
- This just in, taking Abilify increases your risks of death. I mean, I've heard increased chances of heart failure or stroke. But just death? You are more likely to be hit by a car or choke on a hot dog if you are taking Abilify? Commercials are so weird sometimes.

- Well the Rockies stranded some runners. And as an update, still no stolen base, thus no taco. This is important, because I am very poor and could really use a free meal on the 30th (between 2pm and 5pm).

- Morales takes the mound for the Rockies. That was a gutsy play going to second for the lead runner on the grounder. Just like I used to do it. Well except I was either in deep outfield or the bench. But sometimes they let me coach 3rd base. Either way, that's how I would have done it.

- BALK! For some reason I love Balks. According to the MLB rulebook, the stipulations for a balk are like doing taxes (Rule 8.05). Basically at any time, on any play, somewhere a balk could be called.

- "Manny is the next American Idol". Lord, I hate stupid signs. Obviously this guy is pandering so that Fox will put him on. And Fox is definitely going to put him on, because they just love whoring out their shows.

- 9-1. Um... it's getting ugly out there guys.

- I hope you aren't using a scorecard folks, because the Red Sox are just about to hit around. I'm not sure if anyone still uses scorecards, but I know I hate it when I'm doing one and a team hits around.

- Yeah, we are still in the 5th guys. And the Sox just made it double digits. Oh you New England teams, always running up the score.

- 14 Red Sox batters have come to the plate thus far this inning, which I think started about an hour or so ago (or maybe it just feels that way). As for what it will take for the Rockies to get over this, hell, first they need to get through it. Throw strikes, make them beat you. This is no time to get cute.

- Hey, some school house rock. I can dig that.

6th Inning
- Well we finally got out of the 5th, and right away we are back to the bottom of the inning. At this point I think the Rockies are using the rope-a-dope technique, just let the Sox hitters tire them-self out.

- Thats what we were missing, Dane Cooke. Which brings up the thought that perhaps if Frank TV ads were playing every commercial break, the Colorado bats would be hitting.

- Hah. Seems like the Boston dugout is as concerned about this whole Taco situation as I am. "You could just go to every Taco Bell in the world and say 'I haven't gotten my free taco yet. Where's my taco?'."

- Since nothing much is really happening, let me return to Frank TV. See, impersonations are not actually funny by themselves. You can do a good impersonation, and if you are not doing something else that is comical, then it's really just not funny. Impersonations are just a comedic tool.

However, hits to the crotch (when happening to someone else, that is) are actually completely hilarious all by themself.

7th Inning
- Another runner stranded on third by Rockies. And we've reached the 7th inning stretch. I know for me it means heating up a cup of coffee. I'm almost out of it by now, I ran 5 miles in the rain earlier this evening training for the whole Philadelphia Marathon thing.

- Speaking of the marathon deal, go vote on that poll in the left column.

8th Inning
- Mike Timlin in for the Red Sox. Still no taco. Sleepy

9th Inning
- The sooner this game is over, the better for the Rockies. They've had a rough awakening after a layoff, but tomorrow is another game. Beckett is an amazing pitcher.

I've gotta think that the Rockies would be happy leaving Boston splitting the first two games heading to Colorado for game 3, 4, and 5.

- Well that does it for me, but we'll be back tomorrow night. Until then Colorado fans, don't fret and whatever you do, don't stop believing.

Game Blogging the World Series

Yes, that is right, Every Facet of the Game will be blogging the World Series live from in front of the television. Game blogging kind of sounds dorky, but over at CBS Sportsline they call it glogging, which is about 17 and a third times worse. I wanted to call it Live Blogging, but I think that means that I've actually got to be at the stadium and not, as I said, parked in front of the tv with my laptop and a bowl of ramen noodles.

But really, what does this all mean? Well starting tonight at about 8pm when the Red Sox and Rockies kick off the 2007 World Series, I'll be here frequently updating with snarky comments about the announcers, random observations about the fans behind home plate, deep scrutiny of the commercials, and maybe even some game commentary. Surely a good time that should be missed by none.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Game 8: 10/23/07: Penguins 1 - Rangers 0

Somewhere Gary Bettman is furious. Absolutely furious. He's probably on hold at the present moment ordering soccer goals for all 30 teams.

Okay, maybe not, but the league had to be hoping for a little something more in front of the national crowd tonight in Pittsburgh. The face of the league, Sidney Crosby, and his Penguins took on the free agency bolstered New York Rangers.

And actually, it was rather uneventful.

The only goal came on the power-play in the 2nd period. Sidney Crosby fed Ryan Whitney who was (surprise, surprise) pinching in from the blue-line. Whitney's shot/pass found Evgeni Malkin, and Malkin put it behind Henrik Lundqvist. And it was all they needed with Marc-Andre Fleury picking up the 36 save shut out, his first of the season.

Jordan Staal did have a penalty shot in the 2nd, but he didn't do anything with it. He has shown he has moves one-on-one in the past, but tonight he went for a simple shot on the five-hole, which Lundqvist easily stopped.

A win against a division opponent, and a shutout at that, is definitely something to get excited (even if it was a boring game) about, but forgive me for not already penciling in the names on the Cup when it comes against the Rangers, especially at the point they are right now. They can't buy a goal, although with Scott Gomez making $10 million, Jaromir Jagr making over $8 million and Chris Drury at a cool $7.1 million, Lord knows they have tried.

Honestly they really looked awful tonight, and Gomez commented between periods that it's the best they have played all season. It's still much too early to pass judgment, because it could take some time for the new additions to find their place, but the Rangers are looking more like the high price lackluster boys in blue of the past.

The Penguins are at it again Thursday at home against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Pens and Leafs have already met once this season, with Pittsburgh winning 6-4. Now that's a game Bettman can get excited about.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Comprehensive List of MLB Players Linked With Performancing Enhancing Drugs

Carlos Almanzar - Violated MLB's Performance Enhancing Drugs Policy
Rick Ankiel - Received shipments of HGH in 2004
David Bell - Received shipments of Steroids April 2006
Rafael Betancourt - Violated MLB's Performance Enhancing Drugs Policy
Barry Bonds - Testified to federal grand jury of unknowingly using steroids
Paul Bryd - Received shipments of HGH between 2002 and 2005
Jose Canseco - Admitted to Steroid use in tell-all book
Ryan Franklin - Violated MLB's Performance Enhancing Drugs Policy
Jason Giambi - Testified to federal grand jury of using steroids and HGH
Jay Gibbons - Recieved shipments of steroids and HGH between 2003 and 2005
Troy Glaus - Received shipments of steroids between 2003 and 2004
Jason Grimsley - Violated MLB's Performance Enhancing Drugs Policy
Jerry Hairston, Jr. - Received shipments of HGH in 2004
Felix Heredia - Violated MLB's Performance Enhancing Drugs Policy
Darren Holmes - Received shipments of HGH in 2003
Matt Lawton - Violated MLB's Performance Enhancing Drugs Policy
Gary Matthews, Jr. - Received shipments of HGH in 2004
Agustin Montero - Violated MLB's Performance Enhancing Drugs Policy
Mike Morse - Violated MLB's Performance Enhancing Drugs Policy
Guillermo Mota - Violated MLB's Performance Enhancing Drugs Policy
Rafael Palmeiro - Violated MLB's Performance Enhancing Drugs Policy
Neifi Perez - Twice suspended for Violating MLB's Performance Enhancing Drugs Policy
Jorge Piedra - Violated MLB's Performance Enchancing Drugs Policy
Juan Rincon - Violated MLB's Performance Enhancing Drugs Policy
John Rocker - Received shipments of HGH in 2003
Juan Salas - Violated MLB's Performance Enhancing Drugs Policy
Alex Sanchez - Violated MLB's Performance Enhancing Drugs Policy
Scott Schoeneweis - Received shipments of steroids between 2003 and 2004
Gary Sheffield - Testified to federal grand jury of unknowingly using a steroid cream
Jamal Strong - Violated MLB's Performance Enhancing Drugs Policy

if I've left any out, feel free to leave them in the comments with a source

Sunday, October 21, 2007

If It's Good Enough For Alec Baldwin

I really didn't like the whole Halloween costume thing when I was growing up. Dressing up was just what you had to do in order to pocket a load of Reese Cups and fun size Snicker bars. Usually it meant I threw on a little league jersey and grabbed my glove. Then I learned if I was a hockey player, I could hit more houses wearing roller blades. The objective was clear, collect the most candy possible. Or at least get more than my brothers.

Now, I can just head to a drug store and pick up a couple bags of Dots and some candy corn, and I have every intention to on the first day of November when they are on sale. So more and more it's about coming up with a great costume while everyone else is dressed as a pirate. Yes, the pirate costume is the new spiderman costume, just don't do it. But as is the case with a lot of humor, it's a battle between being clever and not being too obscure. That was what I was afraid of as I considered being Tim Donaghy, as known as that basketball referee who fixed those games.

But it looks like my idea may get a bump from the breaking report that the NBA has disciplined 6 other officials after the complete investigation that followed the Donaghy scandal. It looks like the league is just trying to lay down the law, and most of these refs were guilty of minor infractions, like going to a Casino. But now my costume is a little more current of an event.

And then there is this past Thursday's "30 Rock". It's no secret I watch television. I like television, and I don't understand people who don't. It's entertainment. I read books, I play video games, and I watch TV. But anyways, on the latest episode of "30 Rock" Jack Donaghy (played by the genius that is Alec Baldwin) the former "Vice President of East Coast Television and Microwave Oven Programming", hires a private investigator to vet his past and turn up anything his bosses might find as they consider him for a promotion.

When asked if his family has any skeletons, he mentions a brother Eddie who sells faulty sprinklers to elementary schools, a mother who is an Olympic level racist, and, oh yeah, a cousin Tim who fixes NBA games.

Well hell, if the jokes good enough for Alec Baldwin, it should suffice plenty for my Halloween costume. Now I just need to track down a striped shirt, maybe one of those poker visors, and some stuff some cash in every pocket.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

10/20/07: Game 7: Penguins 2 - Capitals 1

The Penguins picked up the back-to-back wins with last nights shootout winner against the Hurricanes and tonights victory over the Capitals, to improve to 4-3-0 on the season. The night was supposed to be a "white-out" in Washington, which only proved to show exactly how many Penguins fans had made the commute. Several times throughout the game "Let's Go Pens" chants should be heard on the Comcast Washington telecast.

The talk around the NHL was that the Penguins, with Marc-Andre Fleury's poor start, were inquiring about available goaltenders. Fleury probably did a considerable job squelching those rumors, with a dominating performance, stopping 30 of 31 shots in the win.

Goaltending consultant Gilles Meloche worked with Fleury after practice on Thursday, and Fleury appeared much more in control against the Capitals, muffling rebounds and making the big saves. The only goal he allowed was on a Brian Pothier slap shot through a screen in the first.

A Jordan Staal goal, his first of the season, off a rebound, tied it up in the second only moments after a Penguins power-play expired.

Ryan Whitney picked up the game-winner later in the second, pinching from the blue-line on the power-play and putting a cross ice pass behind Capitals backup tender Brent Johnson.

Georges Laraque wasted little time in making his presences felt in his first game back from a lingering groin injury. He dropped the gloves with fellow heavy-weight Donald Brashear, and went a few rounds in a memorial bought.

Jordan Staal also picked up a fighting major, the first of his NHL career, after taking exception to Matt Pettinger in the 3rd.

After a showing up inconsistently in early season play, the Penguins have finally been able to set up the cycle in the offensive zone. Last season their cycle worked more out of the corner, but it appears they are working more from behind the net thus far.

Erik Christensen, who scored in last nights shootout, was a healthy scratch tonight.

The Penguins will play in front of the national audience on Versus (sorry, I couldn't say that without a smirk on my face), Tuesday night against the division rival New York Rangers.

Friday, October 19, 2007

10/19/07: Game Six: Penguins 4 - Hurricanes 3 SO

The Penguins pulled out the tough shootout victory tonight at home against the Carolina Hurricanes. Dany Sabourin played well between the pipes, getting the start thanks to the back-to-back games on Pittsburgh's schedule. Marc-Andre Fleury should get the start tomorrow evening against the Washington Capitals.

Petr Sykora continued his inspired play, picking up two hard working goals, both of them in the slot off of a rebound. Adam Hall also picked up a goal, his first as a Penguin, putting a Jarko Ruutu rebound past Cam Ward.

Both Mark Recchi and Ryan Malone had great games. Recchi was skating hard up and down the ice and picked up an assist on the first Sykora goal. Malone was held of the scoreboard, but his fight with Mike Commodore seemed to be a huge momentum turner.

Erik Christensen, Petr Sykora, and Sidney Crosby scored on the shootout, and Sabourin made the big save against Ray Whitney to preserve the win.

Sabourin let the first shot of the game, what appeared to be a harmless wrist shot, no-screen, no deflection, beat him. But he settled down and make some big saves. In the second he allowed a goal after staying down on the ice after blocking a shot, allowing Trevor Letowski to lift it into the net. Overall he has some work to do, but he pulled out the win against a dangerous Carolina squad.

Ruutu picked another 4 penalty minutes tonight, on a hook and a trip. If he wants a chance at keeping his spot once Georges Laraque returns, he is going to have to play more disciplined.

The Penguins hit the ice again tomorrow against the Capitals in the ever popular Crosby-Ovechkin match-up at 7:30.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

10/17/07: Game 5: Penguins 4 - Devils 5

I'm not one to put on blame officiating for a game outcome. Sure, calls go one way and then the other, and sometimes more one way, but I don't feel it has as significant an impact on the a game as an irate fan might believe. Well, either I'm an irate fan or last night's game against the Devils was an exception. I have never seen a game so influenced by the calls of the referee.

It was an exciting game, something you certainly couldn't say about a meeting with the Devils in the past. Under Brent Sutter the Devils have transformed the style of play from a shutdown defensive unit into a much more offensive squad.

The Devils were on the board early thanks to Pandolfo and Madden tallies. But the Penguins bounced back as the first period was ending, scoring two goals less than 2 minutes apart. The first belonged to Maxime Talbot and the other was a powerplay goal by Gary Roberts.

The 2nd period is where everything broke loose. Less than a minute in Sergei Gonchar beat Broduer on the Powerplay with a slapshot from the blueline. In the course of 5 minutes, the Penguins picked up 8 penalty minutes. Devils Travis Zajac picked up the tying powerplay goal, tipping a Paraise shot past

Later in the period a Brooks Orpik breakout pass from inside the Penguins defensive zone found Jordan Staal and Malkin alone on the Devils Martin Brodeur. Staal feed Malkin, who lifted it over a sprawling Brodeur. However, after the goal was scored the referees gathered, decided the Penguins had too many players on the ice, and amazingly took the goal off the board. I have never seen anything like it, and as far as my understanding of the rulebook goes, I do not believe the officials can retrospectively make a penalty call and cancel out a goal. After reviewing the video, it was obvious that because of a tussle down by the benches, both teams had too many players on the ice. Needless to say, at this point the Penguins Mellon Arena was in an uproar. But the worst was yet to come.

A few minutes later during a loose puck in the crease, the Devils Brian Gionta crashed into Marc-Andre Fleury and was still on top of him as Zajac threw the puck into the net, giving the Devils the 4-3 lead. An incensed Fleury threw the goal off the moorings as the entire Penguins team pleaded with the officials for a goaltender interference call. But the goal stood.

The Pens would tie it up thanks to a goal by Evgeni Malkin in last few minutes of the 2nd. But the Devils regained the lead with an Arron Asham goal in the 3rd. And that was the last of the game, as the Devils pulled out the 5-4 victory.

The most upsetting part of the officiating was not one particular call, because with some leniency I could see each call going one way or the other. But when it seems as if so many questionable calls are going against you, especially on scoring calls, you begin to feel the game getting out of reach.

The Penguins play again on Friday against the Carolina Hurricanes, who beat the Pens 4-1 earlier in the month.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

10/13/07: Game 4: Penguins 6 - Maple Leafs 4

Well its a good thing the Penguins have had a really light schedule so far this season, because I've been off my game with these game reviews. Lately I've just been completely exhausted from training for the Philadelphia Marathon. 7.5 miles in 1 hour and 33 minutes today.

Anyways, let's all pause and take something really big in right now. Maxime Talbot is leading the Pittsburgh Penguins in goals right now. And that is no fluke. Sure, Crosby and Malkin, and probably a handful of other Pens, will eventually pass him, but that's nothing to discredit Talbot. He is a hard worker, and probably the most underrated player I've ever seen.

I have to say I'm not really sure what Michel Therrien was thinking starting Dany Sabourin in favor of Marc-Andre Fleury. Fleury has not preformed well so far this season, but he is our starting goaltender and a potential franchise tender. When the schedule picks up there will be plenty of time for Sabourin to get in some starts, but right now Fleury needs to be between the pipes.

It turned into a shootout Saturday against the Maple Leafs. Erik Christensen buried one in the first, beating Toskala off of a offensive zone face-off win.

Sabourin let in two goals on the first 5 shots he faced. He looked very shaky, but some responsibility lays with the defensive play. Far too often the Penguins were caught standing still in their own zone. If they want to cut down on the amount of quality opportunities they allow, they are going to have to step up to players who are moving into the slot.

Later in the 1st Brooks Oprik forced Darcy Tucker of the Leafs into the net, crashing into Sabourin, and forcing him to leave the game.

Less than a minute into the 2nd Mats Sundin took an Antropov pass from behind the net and beat Fleury, giving the Leafs a 3-1 lead.

A Crosby pass intended for a breaking Petr Sykora deflected of a Toronto defenseman and into the net. Only 19 seconds later Maxime Talbot tied the game, beating Toskala on a Gary Roberts cross crease pass.

Ryan Malone gave the Penguins the 4-3 lead, scoring off the rebound from a Evgeni Malkin shot with 4 minutes left in the 2nd. But the lead was short lived, as Jason Blake scored only moments later to take the game into the 2nd intermission all locked up.

With less than 5 minutes remaining in the game Sidney Crosby picked up his second of the game, giving the Penguins the lead for good.

Talbot picked up his second of the game, throwing a shot from the Penguins defensive end into the empty net down ice.

The Penguins take on the Devils on Wednesday at home.

Atlanta Thrashers Fire Head Coach

The Atlanta Thrashers have lost their first 6 games in regulation, being outscored by opponents 27 goals to 9. And now Head Coach Bob Hartley has lost his job.

Every game matters in the NHL. Every game. And you can't at any point in the season to drop six consecutive games, and expect it not have it make a significant effect on your post-season chances. The seasons only begun, and already the Thrashers will have to go 44-38 just to reach .500.

The facts are, like it or not, the Thrashers are not a very talented team. Last year they won their conference, the very uncompetitive Southeast Division, but showed just how they matched up against the other teams in the east by falling in 4 games to the New York Rangers.

A new coach is probably not going to lead this team to the playoffs, but the franchise has made it clear it will not accept the performance they have seen thus far this season. One thing is for certain, just because the head coach is packing, doesn't mean the pressure is off. General Manager Don Wadell will feel it from above and could be the next casualty of NHL season.

Hartley replaced Curt Fraser as Thrashers head coach halfway through the 02-03 season. Under his watch the Thrashers have improved there points total for 3 consecutive seasons, and last season they made their first franchise playoff appearance. Prior to coaching for Atlanta, Hartley coached for 4 seasons with the Colorado Avalanche, including during their 00-01 Stanley Cup Championship.

For now Don Wadell will step behind the bench, while the long list of potential suitors is reviewed. Names like Pat Quinn or even Igor Larionov have been thrown around, but as far as I'm concerned Kevin Constantine is the most promising candidate not coaching in the NHL.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Save Your Eyes, Use Your Ears

Now I know what you are saying, "Justin, I love the insightful commentary, razor sharp wit, and clever angle of Every Facet of the Game, but there is only one problem. I can not read." Well fear not my young illiterate friend, I feel for your pain of being overlooked by an inefficient public school system, and that is why I created the Every Facet of the Game Podcast. Yes, that's right. It's just like reading, except you don't need to read (also, you'll have to listen to me. sorry.) All you have to do is press play.

So I just finished with last nights post, which can be heard here. I'm not exactly sure what I'm doing here, but I figured I'd give it a go. We'll see how it works out.

In*fat"i*ga*bly. Note to self, if you can't spell it, you probably can't say it either.

Monday, October 15, 2007

I Had My Popcorn Ready

The NFL Bye Week. Does a fan ever feel more like a fish out of water than when your getting ready for the NFL weekend, and your team isn't even playing? Instead I had the consolation prize of the match-up of two 5-0 teams, the Dallas Cowboys against the New England Patriots. Or as the media dubbed, "Super Bowl 41.5". An asinine phrase I hope to never hear again. And something, I might add, that if there is any justice is this cold world, will equate to neither of these teams making the Super Bowl.

All week it was the fodder of the talking heads and pundits. T.O. leaves a note on his locker, explaining he will not be talking to the media. This is headline news, and is debated indefatigably (that took me about 5 tries to spell right and spell-check had no idea what I was talking about, by the way). Owens versus Moss. 81 versus 81. This was force feed to me all week long, when all I wanted to see was highlights from some college ball games or whether or not the Rockies game was going to be rained out.

But, of course, I tunned in. This is because, like the sad pathetic fan that I am, the sports industry has me hook, line, and sinker. I even made some popcorn.

The first problem of the headlining match-up was whom to root for. I should say that usually I don't have this problem, as mostly I'm gearing up for a Steelers game, and when I'm watching another game it's for entertainment. But seeing as this was "the game" I figured I should be in one corner or the other. Now according to logic, as an AFC team fan, I should be pulling for the NFC team to win in any cross conference match-up. I understand this, however there is one underlying problem. The Cowboys are utterly unlikable. Not untalented. With all the problems Owens had created in the past, he's still a great receiver. And begrudgingly I'll admit that Tony Romo is actually quite a promising young QB. But still, completely unlikable. A lot of which comes less from the actually players, then the franchise. I haven't forgotten Super Bowl XXX.

And then there is the Patriots. Again, talented, of course. But likable, not at all. As stated earlier, I'm not going to root for an elite AFC team. And then there is the entire videotaping scandal that unfolded a month ago. Not to mention that they have eliminated the Steelers in the AFC Championship game twice in the last 6 years.

In other words, if I rooted for the Patriots, my family would disown me. And rightfully so.

So anyways, I find myself watching a game I fully know is completely over hyped, between two teams I absolutely despise. Like I said, the sports industry owns me. The best I can hope for here is an injury filled battle that ends in a tie. Maybe a 0-0 tie. That would be embarrassing for both sides. I'm imagining the old NFL films clip where someone fumbles at the goal line and 3 or 4 players try to pick it up or fall on it in the endzone, but it rolls out of bounds. If you too were raised on NFL films tapes then you know what I'm talking about (and if you remember the teams, leave them in the comments, it's killing me). If you weren't raised on NFL films then I'm just rambling. Or you probably quit reading 3 paragraphs ago. Whatever. Sixty-five toss power trap.

Either way, no luck. Not surprisingly, it actually turns into a shootout. And also not surprisingly, the Patriots pretty much have the game from the coin flip. Sure both teams were undefeated, but it doesn't take a genius to tell you the Pats and much better than the Cowboys. Touchdowns are had by all, numerous annoying Peyton Manning commercials are quickly muted, and by the time the game has reached its dying throws I'm still more interested in whether or not the Colorado Rockies game is going to be rained out or not.

Oh, NFL bye week, you are a cruel one.

Philadelphia Marathon Update: 34 days

When I first decided I was going to run the Philadelphia Marathon (all of five days ago) I just thought it would be something to do, you know, a nice challenge, while also providing some interesting material to write about. I thought it would be kind of funny and offbeat to write about the adventure of preparing for a marathon in just over a month. But I really don't think I ever really thought about how much work it is. This is because, while I may sit for time on end and debate whom should be the 6th defenseman for the Pittsburgh Penguins, weighing all the options, comparing and contrasting, I am constantly not putting enough thought into the big decisions that are actually part of my life. It's a horrible habit.

And by the way, I don't care what they tell you, it's Alain Nasreddine.

So I ran 2.5 miles on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Then I ran 5 miles on Saturday and Sunday. And besides a lot of sore muscles, I've also got some interesting observations out of all of it.

First, running is boring. Dear Lord, it really is. I mean, the first few times, it was alright. I was excited about getting started, and it was nice to be out doing something. But the novelty was exhausted pretty quickly. And so was I.

Also, I may want to consider cutting this ridiculous Richie Tennenbaum hair. Keeping my hair this long for a marathon may be just too much. Or it might just be awesome. Who knows, juries still out.

I'm also thinking I'll probably have to pick up the pace this week. Last week I ran 17.5 miles, at about 9 minutes a mile. I'm taking today off, but I think I'll try 5 miles of Tuesday and Thursday, 2.5 miles on Wednesday and Friday, and then go for 10 miles on Saturday. The goal is to get up to running 20 miles on the 3rd of November, and then slowly tapering off as I prepare for the marathon on the 18th.

I should also state at this point that I have no idea how this is going to work out. I've tried to gauge my time, and right now it's not looking too great. If I can somehow keep up pace as I increase the length on my runs, it'd probably take somewhere between 4 and 4.5 hours. This seems kind of long and I can't help imaging myself collapsed on the street as I'm passed by soccer-moms and senior citizens. Which at this point, is probably my major motivation.

Anywho, I put a nice little poll on the left over there, where you can vote on the likely outcome of this absurd endeavor. Anyone know where I can find a Segway?

Friday, October 12, 2007

NHL Suspends Jesse Boulerice 25 Games

The NHL has made it clear, it will not tolerate cheap shots, especially those targeting opposing players heads. They sent a video to each franchise detailing what actions would provoke a suspension. Then they suspended Steve Downie of the Philadelphia Flyers for a hit to the head on Dean McAmmond in a preseason game.

But still, another player has made a name for himself for all the wrong reasons. During Wednesday night's Flyers vs. Vancouver Canucks game, Flyers Jesse Boulerice delivered a vicious cross-check to the face of Vancouver's Ryan Kesler. Boulerice received a match penalty for intent to injure, a penalty that comes with an automatic league review.

The word came down from Colin Campbell today, and the hit, which was apparently in retaliation to a hit Kesler threw behind the net, has earned Boulerice a 25-game suspension.

Hockey is an physically challenging sport, where players are bound to be hurt. But there is no place in the game for an illegal hit with intent to injure.

The Rockies May Just Never Lose Again

If the last 26 days are any representation, the Colorado Rockies may just never lose a game ever again.

On September 15th the Rockies were 4.5 games behind the San Diego Padres for the Wild Card, with 14 games remaining. They proceeded to win 13 of the 14 games, tying the Padres for the Wild Card spot, and forcing a 1-game playoff. A playoff that went to 13 innings before Colorado, facing elimination, scored 3 runs for the come-from-behind victory.

The Rockies then made quick work of the NL East Division champion Philadelphia Phillies, sweeping them in 3 games.

Last night the Rockies faced the Arizona Diamondbacks in the first game of the Nation League Championship series. The Diamondbacks finished atop the NL, 18 games over .500. On the mound for Arizona was Brandon Webb, the man responsible for handing the Rockies their sole loss since the 15th of September.

The talking-heads of the sports world speculated the long layoff between playoffs series might put an end to the Rockies momentum. But that wasn't the case Thursday night, as the Rockies continued their amazing streak, beating Brandon Webb and the Diamondbacks 5-1. They have now won 18 of the last 19 games, and as I said before, might possibly never lose again.

The Rockies and Diamondbacks continue their series with Game 2 tonight at 8:37 pm on TBS.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

10/10/07: Game 3: Penguins 2 - Canadiens 3

It was a disappointing one in Pittsburgh tonight, as the Penguins had their chances, but failed to make good on them. Instead the story was Carey Price's NHL debut for the Canadiens, making 26 saves on 28 shots in the 3-2 victory.

Sidney Crosby's bruised foot kept him out of practice Tuesday, but it didn't seem to be a problem during the game. Crosby assisted on the Penguins first goal, which Ryan Malone scored over a sprawling Carey Price, who had been knocked to the ice.

The Canadiens answered back with two goals in the six minutes of the 2nd period, taking the 2-1 lead.

Andrei Markov increased the lead in the 3rd, scoring off a rebound from an opportunity created by a Penguins defense-zone face-off loss.

Work horse Maxime Talbot put the Penguins within one, putting a no-look backhanded Evgeni Malkin behind-the-net pass behind Price. Malkin destroys me with his no-look backhand passes. I'll give him this one, but for every one that works out, he makes 9 that turn the puck and start rushes down the ice.

The Penguins spent the rest of the 3rd in the Canadiens zone, but were unable to wear down Price, who played very positionally sound throughout the game.

Fleury stopped 35 of 38 shots tonight, but continued to give up big rebounds. If the Penguins want to thwart opposing offense, they are going to have to cut down the amount of shots allowed, and Fleury is going to have to settle down. I'm pulling out hair every time I see him needlessly out of the net playing the puck.

One thing that catches me off guard from time to time is just how much of a monster Gary Roberts is. Of course he's in incredible shape and skates hard up and down the ice, but he can really throw a mean check. And he does, almost at random. I never see it coming, and neither did Kastsitsyn tonight. The hit really fired up the crowd as the Pens were battling to tie it up in the 3rd.

With his 2 assists tonight, Mark Recchi moved past Mike Gartner to 25th in all-time points.

The Penguins play the Maple Leafs in Toronto on Saturday at 7:00 pm.

Philadelphia Marathon In Five Weeks. Yeah, Why Not?

Yesterday I decided I was going to run in the Philadelphia Marathon. A little research advised me I should run for a year, and then adhere to a strict 18-week training regiment before attempting to run a 26.2 mile marathon. I have 39 days. This should be fun.

I wouldn't say I'm the most unhealthy person in the world. I played some soccer in high school. There was a time when I rode my bike a couple miles to work. I was on a softball team a couple years back. But I certainly don't regularly exercise. I mean, who does? It's like flossing.

At first I considered the half-marathon, which true to it's name, is only 13.1 miles. This is whats recommended for first timers. But I figure if I'm gonna do this, I might as well do it right. Oh, and also, the mental image of me jogging with a bunch of seniors citizens didn't look .

Registration is over a hundred dollars, at least this late it is. It's not like I'm poor (actually, it's exactly like that), but paying that much to run the streets of Philadelphia seems a little overpriced. I could run in Philadelphia any day. Granted I'd probably get ran over, stabbed, and/or shot. But whose to say that's not gonna happen at the marathon.

With a little help from Google Maps I've selected a nice jogging route thats just a little under two and a half miles. I figure that's a good starting point. Eventually I'll kick it up, maybe run run two laps for about five miles.

Seems easy enough. I can do this. I don't even know what I'd do with the other 13 weeks.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

10/06/07: Game 2: Penguins 5 - Ducks 4

I'm a little late getting this out, but I was slightly under the weather over the weekend (I don't think I'm getting enough Vitamin-C) and duties were neglected.

ANYWAYS, the Penguins bounced back against the defending champs, the Anaheim Ducks, on Saturday. They had left something to be desired after Friday's season opener, but they seemed to be feeding off the intensity of the home opener at Mellon Arena on Saturday.

Petr Sykora picked up a couple goals and an assist, taking huge strides after missing part of the preseason with a broken nose. And Crosby had his first point of the season with an assist on what would turn out to be the game winner from Malone.

During the pregame introductions, I paid close attention to the reaction each player received. And I've got to say, while Crosby definitely brought down the house, Evgeni Malkin and Colby Armstrong received monstrous applauses themselves. Yes, Colby Armstrong. Pittsburgh loves the guy. And he rewarded the crowd with a pretty dynamic one-on-one goal later in the game.

It was a great game for the Penguins offensively, but they still need to limit the amount of opportunities they allow. Fleury has started a little shaky, so the Penguins defense really needs to step up and shut down opposing teams in the defensive zone.

The Penguins play again on Wednesday, when they'll take on the Montreal Canadiens at home.

An Era Is Over In New York, And I'm Supposed To Feel Sorry About It?

In all likelihood an era died last night in New York. Torre is probably out, Clemens is probably done, A-Rod may opt out of his contract in search of bigger bucks, Pettitte may be gone, and so may Rivera and Posada. The Yankees are imploding, and somehow, I'm supposed to feel sorry about it.

Worst of all, a little piece of me does.

It doesn't make any sense. The Yankees are evil, this I know. They throw millions and millions of dollars around, luring in talented free agents. They've won 26 World Series, with 4 of those coming from the Torre dynasty. They have an army of out-of-town "fans" that don't know a slider from a curve ball.

I'm probably just feeling nostalgic about the drama they create. Love them or hate them, the Yankees make sports interesting. Something I suppose is a lot easier to admit when they haven't preformed in the playoffs for the past 6 years.

But even if Torre's shown the door and the all-star line up is torn apart this offseason, George Steinbrenner is still George Steinbrenner. I'm sure it won't take long. They'll hire, or most likely promote, a manager. They'll sign a new class of superstars. They'll create more outrageous storylines.

And then I can go back to despising them with every fiber of my being.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Are MLB Playoff Series Too Short?

Baseball is a game of attrition. The marathon season is a 162 game grind, and still the pennant race is a toughly fought battle down to the very last game. It's a fickle game that can see the best of teams go through a dire stretch, and the worst of teams, like say my Pittsburgh Pirates, steal a regular season series from serious contenders. So when it comes time for the post season, are 5-game series, or even 7-game series, too short?

The NFL season is 16 games long, with the playoffs a one game elimination. So the ratio for a playoff series is 16:1. Therefore a playoff match-up is 6% of the season. In hockey, it's an 82 game season to a 7-game series. 82:7, or about 8%. But the MLB post season 5-game series is a mere 5:162, or 3%. Which is the equivalent of having an NFL playoff game decided by only one half. Can such a short series really guarantee the best teams advancing, and eventually winning the World Series?

The World Series hasn't always been a 7-game series. For a short while they toyed with a 9 game series, but that was over 80 years ago. However, with twice as many teams advancing to the playoffs thanks to the 6 division alignment and the wild card, is it time for Major League Baseball to adopt longer playoff series?

Saturday, October 6, 2007

10/05/07: Game 1: Penguins 1 - Hurricanes 4

After a long off-season a good part of me is just happy to see the Penguins playing again. But even through the opening night euphoria I must say, I really expect more. They were flat most of the preseason, but I was still holding out hope that the opener would flip a switch in them, and they'd come out and play with more passion and intensity. This was not the case Friday night. I know it's only one game, but after watching the MLB pennant race for the past few weeks, I'm fully aware of importance one game can play when the seasons over.

Marc-Andre Fleury gave up 2 in the first and 2 in the second, and was replaced by Danny Sabourin to start the third. He can only shoulder so much of the blame, though, with an uninspired team playing in front of him. I was disappointed with his rebound control, which was directly responsible for one of the goals. His play wasn't anywhere in the vicinity of warranting being pulled, so I imagine Therrien was only resting him so he can start tonight in the home opener against the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Anaheim Ducks.

Sabourin did play well replacing Fleury. He blanked the hurricanes in the 3rd frame, making 7 saves.

Mark Recchi picked up the Penguins lone goal, with 3:23 left in the 3rd, tipping an Evgeni Malkin behind the net pass through Hurricanes tender Cam ward. It was Recchi's 1334 career point, putting him only 2 away from passing Hall of Famer Mike Gartner for 25th on the all-time scoring list.

Malkin still has major steps to take in the offensive zone. theres no doubt he can score the puck, but these no look passes continue to be a problem, often ending in an odd man rush the other way. He is in the nasty habit of the throwing the puck where he thinks a teammate should be, instead of taking in his options and moving the puck. I beginning to wonder if he deserves the 2nd line center position. For the time being Jordan Staal was been upgraded from the 3rd line center to the 1st line winger, but if Therrien doesn't feel like its a good fit, I wouldn't be surprised to see Malkin moved out of his position, and Staal centering the 2nd line.

The Penguins take on the Ducks tonight at 7:30 in their home opener.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Winners Cheat

More and more it's becoming obvious. Winners cheat. They just do. According to the Washington Post, Marion Jones, who took home 3 Gold medals at the 2000 Olympics, has admitted to using steroids for 2 years leading up to the Olympics.

But by now we know, this is not surprising. The Patriots won 3 Super Bowls in 4 years, not quite as amazing of a feat when you are tape recording the opposing teams defensive calls. NASA landed on the moon without having to leave Nevada. And with a little help from his friends over at BALCO, Barry Bonds has broken Hank Aarons career Home Run record and a million baseball fans tender little hearts.

But this isn't a new concept, in 1904, 71 years before Floyd Landis was even born, Thomas Hicks collapsed after winning the Summer Olympics Marathon, from a mixture of brandy and strychnine his assistant gave him.

The problem is that the cheater is always at least three steps ahead of the law. It's nearly impossible to catch them until well after they've already cashed in and had their faces plastered on Wheaties boxes. But I've got a new method. You can keep your urine tests and competitive balance committees, I don't need them. All you have to do is find unbelievable success, and chances are, you've found a cheater. Which is how I've uncovered a whole slue of cheaters. Take that Washington Post.

- First is Finland. 100% literacy rates? Yeah, right, like I can't see straight through that. I'm not sure how your doing it, whether the test is rigged or what, but you're not fooling me.

- Next is this Phileas Fogg character. I don't care what that Jules Verne says, around the World in Eighty days, in 1873? I'm not buying that for one second. Nice try.

- Oh, and how about this British group, the Beatles. More than 40 number one releases. Yeah, I bet that's a whole lot easier when you're paying off radio stations. Revolver isn't even really that good*.

- William Shakespeare, greatest writer of all-time? He was housing his work from Francis Bacon, and he knows it.

- And finally, one word. Google. I'm not sure how they do it, but I'm certain cheating is involved. End of story.

*Upon further review Revolver is actually probably one of the greatest albums of all-time. Though I suspect producer George Martin was juicing.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

NHL Season Mere Hours Away

Well the NHL kicks off tonight, and even though the season doesn't start for my Penguins until Friday (my desktop countdown reads 56 hours, 12 minutes, 08 seconds), it's hard not to be pretty jazzed (jazzed? really, Justin?) about tonight. I mean, even SportsCenter acknowledged the NHL's existence. It was for about 15 seconds in the last few minutes of the show. But still.

Anyways, at this point you've probably heard a thousand different predictions. If it's one thing people in sports media love to do, while neglecting their duty as reporters, it's make predictions. So I'm gonna try and tread that territory lightly (even though a certain someone did happen to pick the Ducks last October). Why? Well it's certainly not to avoid looking like a fool in 9 months, as nothing in my past seems to hint at me avoiding that. But more or less because this season, for the first time in a handful of years, the Penguins are seriously in the mix.

As a devoted fan who takes his role with the team entirely too seriously, I can't pick against them. And Lord knows I'm not gonna jinx anything by picking them either. So I'll keep my mouth shut about the entire Eastern Conference.

As for the West, well a week ago I was big on the prospects of the San Jose Sharks making it to the Cup final. Then I heard someone else pencil them in, which admittedly has kind of turned me off them. The Sharks were my thing, not the consensus pick. Not the half educated pick (Detroit Red Wings? Yeah, because they've played great in the playoffs the past few years). It was like hearing my sister listening to the Pouges. How do they know about the Sharks? The Sharks were my dark horse long before they were their pick. Oh well, I guess I'll stick with them, but if they don't get there, don't blame me. It's those bandwagon jumpers who jinxed it.

However, I will make one prediction, and for it I offer my most sincere apologies to Sidney Crosby, but I think he's got a legitimate shot at approaching 150 points if he stays healthy. Maybe not quite reaching it, but coming close.

And with that I'll shut my mouth, I've got 55 hours, 54 minutes, and 25 seconds to kill.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Another Losing Season for the Pirates

I don’t complain about the Pittsburgh Pirates. I mean, not a lot at least. Usually when asked about them, I’ll mention how blessed Pittsburgh sports has been. Just in my time, I’ve celebrated a Steelers Super Bowl on the streets of Pittsburgh. As a kid I enjoyed Mario Lemieux and back-to-back Stanley Cups. I joyously danced around my living room after we won the Sidney Crosby draft lottery. We’ve seen our share of All-Star players and post season appearances.

But on the rare occasion that I’m being honest, I’ll tell you, I absolutely hate it. I hate not winning. The Pirates are wrapping up their 15th consecutive losing season. I don’t even remember what the Major League Baseball post-season feels like. Sure, I’ll tune in and follow the interesting series. I do my best to enjoy playoff baseball, but I’m sure I’d enjoy it more if the Pirates would make an appearance.

The other stuff, about Pittsburgh sports being blessed and all that, that’s just good karma. I shut my mouth, I take the losses, the unearned runs allowed, the José Bautista errors, the poor bats, the weak starting rotation, and the nonexistent bullpen. I take them, because I’m somewhat certain that at some point in the future we are going to turn this ship around. Someday we may make the playoffs, or even, dare I say, win the World Series. Though I’m not entirely sure how.

Ultimately, the blame has to fall on the owners bottom line thinking. The ownership group bought the team ten years ago for a measly $92 million, and the public paid $216 for the best stadium in baseball, PNC Park. Forbes now estimates the franchise is worth approximately $276 million. In return the Pirates organization has put what most closely resembles a minor league roster on the field. This season they will finish 3rd in the league in revenue, while 27th in team payroll and last in the National League.

It has become undeniably clear that only one thing guides decision making, and that’s the financial report. So as a fan, I just cross my fingers and hope that they’ll cash out and sell the franchise to someone who cares about fielding a competitive roster. Because they can hire a new head of baseball operations, and they could replace Jim Tracy, and it’s not going to have any effect on the Pirates playoffs chances. You can’t make a stone bleed, and you can’t take a $50 million dollar team to the playoffs. It’s just not possible.

But I’ll watch playoff baseball. And someone will be crowned the World Series champion. And I’ll try to forget the 2007 season. The temperature will fall. The ground will freeze. Thanksgiving will come and go. Then Christmas and New Years. Perhaps, I’ll be fortunate enough to be able to build a snowman. But eventually springs bound to return, and with it, baseball. And even with no evidence to support the hope, I’ll dream about it being the season we turn it all around. Because eventually we’ve got to put together a winning season, and this season could be it. I know I’m doing my part, I’m not complaining.