In case you were busy coming around to the idea that Cowboys tight end Jason Witten is just the sort of guy who sometimes has to be yelled at, here's what you missed in sports on Wednesday:
In what may prove to be the biggest upset of the entire NBA season, the Philadelphia 76ers stormed out to an early 19-0 lead before holding on late to beat the two-time defending champion Miami Heat 114-110. Rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams looked like a star, putting up 22 points, 12 assists, nine steals, and seven rebounds in his NBA debut. Unfortunately, Carter-Williams was shut down for the season after the game by 76ers GM Sam Hinkie for what he described as "precautionary reasons." When asked to clarify, Hinkie said, "I'm hoping this will serve as a precaution to the rest of the team as to where looking like a star will get you."
The Red Sox are your 2013 World Series champions after John Lackey powered Boston past the St. Louis Cardinals, 6-1, in a deciding Game 6. "Just as I predicted," said Boston superfan Aaron Sullivan. "Lackey brings us another banner. Never doubted that it would happen." When asked specifically when he made that prediction, Sullivan replied, "Fourth inning, right after we went up 6-0. And I swear I only backed off it three or four times," before promising to name one of his middle children John Lackey Sullivan, assuming that one of them came out looking a little squished.
Four weeks into the NHL season, several teams are off to great starts. The Sharks and Avalanche have been virtually unbeatable, and the Lightning, Ducks, and Maple Leafs have also had an impressive opening month. At the other end of the spectrum, teams like the Sabres, Flyers, and Oilers are off to the kind of starts that can torpedo a team’s playoff hopes before the calendar even flips over to November.
Nothing has been as extreme as what happened last year, when the Blackhawks made it to the second half of the lockout-shortened season before suffering a regulation loss. They shattered the NHL record with their 21-0-3 start, coasted to the Presidents’ Trophy, and went on to win the Stanley Cup.
Of course, not every early-season streak — good or bad — will lead to such a predictable ending. So let’s see if we can learn anything about what to expect by looking back at five of the greatest starts in NHL history, along with five of the worst.
A look at three of the biggest stories from the NHL weekend and how they’ll play into the coming days.
Giving the Devils Their Due
The Devils entered the weekend with little reason for optimism. Ten games into the season, they had only one win and had averaged just two goals per game. And with Cory Schneider hurt and Martin Brodeur struggling badly, a team that had been able to fall back on excellent goaltending for almost two decades was suddenly faced with a glaring weakness in the crease.
A sterling combined effort from a trio of rookie pitchers led the St. Louis Cardinals to a 4-2 win over the Boston Red Sox, evening up the World Series at a game apiece. The game hinged on the Cardinals' aggressive baserunning and a clutch hit from veteran outfielder Carlos Beltran, once again proving that the same things that won big games in the mid-'60s will still win them today.
In case you were busy keeping a drumroll sound going for 28 hours (and counting) in anticipation of the NCAA's announcement of its findings in the Nevin Shapiro investigation, here's what you missed in sports on Monday:
For some reason ESPN preempted coverage of the Monday Night Football game between the Giants and Vikings to show a blooper reel titled Monday Night High Passes and Soft Hits LIVE, a so-called Gaffe Battle in which The Jersey Boys outscored the Lake County Hornheads 23-7. In a particularly thrilling twist, after the Jersey Boys had scored big in the Fumblerooski-Off, surprise guest host Drew Carey emerged to tell both teams that the points they accrued didn't matter, and that Eli Manning and Josh Freeman would have to compete in a hoedown centered on the theme of "Weird First Dates" to determine the game's winner. While Manning was nervous, and turned in a lackluster performance in which he rhymed "wine" with "whine," he was bailed out by Freeman, who was unable to complete a single English word and found himself making guttural sounds and grunts for a soul-crushing 15 minutes.
In case you were busy remembering when Kirk Gibson made the impossible happen in the year of the improbable, here's what you missed in sports on Tuesday:
Matt Holliday and Shane Robinson hit the first two home runs of the NLCS and the St. Louis Cardinals are one game away from the World Series after their 4-2 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers. "Man, what a thrill to be a part of that slugfest," said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny after the game. "For fans who love offense, tonight was your night. It was just fireworks and explosions." Matheny then chuckled and added, "I mean six runs? In regulation? What game were we even playing? Hockey?"
Mike Napoli's solo home run off Justin Verlander was all the offense Boston would need, as John Lackey and the Red Sox bullpen led their team to a 1-0 win over the Detroit Tigers and a 2-1 series lead in the ALCS. The game was notably interrupted by a 17-minute power outage in the second inning, a time that Lackey referred to as "one of those things where my stuff was bad before the thing, then the power outage happens, and boom, my stuff gets good again. It's like some sort of small version of my last few years." When asked if he was saying the power outage was perhaps microcosmic of his career in Boston, Lackey replied, "Nah, I'm just talking about like how things can be going badly, and then they can change and be good again, and like, this moment was like a tiny version of that feeling, which I know all too well." When told that's what a microcosm is, an angry Lackey responded, "I'm not an idiot, OK? I'm not talking about some sort of tiny universe where Neil deGrasse Tyson is a wizard. I'm talking about a small version of a big thing! Like this conversation, and how it's like all my relationships with the Boston media, but in a small amount of time." Lackey then shook his head and said, "There's gotta be a word for that."
Tomas Hertl's first goal of the evening sent Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist packing. After his second, he stole a happy glance up at his mom and girlfriend. The Sharks were dismantling the Rangers and it was starting to get late when the young Czech rookie scored again. Still, no one at the SAP Center (née HP Pavilion) minded even when it took arena crews a few extra minutes to corral all the hats and remove them from the ice. It was only the 19-year-old's third NHL game, after all, and who could resist that wide smile?
Those who stuck around were generously rewarded a few minutes later with Hertl's fourth goal. (Those who stuck around and weren't the New York Rangers, I should say.)
If Allen Iverson played hockey, he would have scored this goal. Steel yourselves, children's hockey coaches everywhere, to lose thousands of kid-hours going forward in the pursuit of this goal. The only thing more fun than seeing it was sitting next to Larry Brooks in the press box while he watched this goal.
"That's something I don't have in my bag," Sharks captain Joe Thornton said.
In case you were busy faking injuries to run down the clock at your office, here's what you missed in sports on Tuesday:
The Boston Red Sox are in the ALCS after holding off the Tampa Bay Rays, who set a postseason record with nine pitchers in their 3-1 loss. Rays manager Joe Maddon was unable to hide his disappointment after the game, saying, "This one's on me boys. The pitching was fine; I kept going out there meaning to bring in better hitters. But my timing was a mess." Maddon then signaled to the press corps, replacing himself in the press conference with the team's pitching coach Jim Hickey, who shook his head and said, "He meant to bring in [hitting coach] Derek Shelton. Joe's going to be ruing this loss all offseason."
Nineteen-year-old San Jose rookie Tomas Hertl scored four goals, including a through-his-legs goal-of-the-year candidate, as his Sharks decimated the New York Rangers in a 9-2 win. Hertl, who pulled off the feat in his third NHL game, said afterward, "Well I hope this'll show the San Jose organization that I'm ready for a call-up to the big show. No rush, but I think this proves I have the skills to make it at the top." When told he was already at the top level of professional hockey, Hertl responded, "No. No. Please. Enough with the pranking of youngsters. There's no way the team we were up against was a top-tier team tonight. You're yanking me and it's rude."
NHL training camps are beginning to open around the league, and that means that after months of trades, signings, hirings, firings, wild speculation, and unfounded rumors, we can finally declare the 2013 offseason over.
How closely were you paying attention to the summer’s news? Take this handy quiz to find out.
If you follow a television series long enough, you’ll eventually hit one of those story lines: The one that is set up brilliantly, seems to be building to an intriguing payoff, and then just kind of gets forgotten about.
The NHL offseason isn’t a scripted TV show. (We know this because scripted TV shows don’t go weeks at a time with absolutely nothing happening.) But that hasn’t stopped this year’s edition from featuring its share of abandoned story lines.
Here are five subplots that seemed like they’d be important pieces of the 2013 offseason but (so far) have turned out to be duds.
In case you were busy making more than $1,244 a week from home using one simple trick, here's what you missed in sports on Tuesday:
Things are getting interesting in the Eastern Conference finals as the Indiana Pacers took Game 4 from the Miami Heat, 99-92, to even up their series at two games apiece. Roy Hibbert was immense for the Pacers, amassing 23 points and 12 rebounds while anchoring an impressive Indiana defense that held All-Star forward Chris Bosh to seven points on 1-for-6 shooting. "They seem to be playing some sort of strange formation," Hibbert explained after the game. "They put out guys who are shorter than we are on the court, and then they try to go around us. It's like they have no idea that height is an advantage in basketball. It makes no sense. It's some crazy sort of tiny orb strategy, because they're small and we play with a regulation-size basketball. I think I'm gonna dub it 'wee sphere,' and hope they keep doing it because man, it's really easy for me to guard short dudes." Hibbert then shrugged before adding, "Baby globe."
The Los Angeles Kings will be returning to the Western Conference finals after holding on to beat the San Jose Sharks, 2-1, in a climactic Game 7 at Staples Center. It was a Pyrrhic victory for the Kings, however, as they lost the services of superfan Samuel L. Jackson midway through giving the following motivational speech: "You think water moves fast? You should see ice. It moves like it has a mind. Like it knows it killed the world once and got a taste for murder. After the Avalanche knocked us out at this stage in '01, it took us a decade to climb out. Now, I don't know exactly when we turned on each other, but I know that nature is lethal but it doesn't hold a candle to man. To Kings!" Jackson was then bitten savagely by Sharks goal scorer Dan Boyle, and decided that hockey "ain't worth my damn time."
In case you were busy ironing all of your white pants, here's what you missed in sports last weekend:
LeBron James set up shop in the post as the Miami Heat had a 70-point first half en route to a comfortable 114-96 win over the Indiana Pacers as they took a 2-1 Eastern Conference finals lead. Chris "Birdman" Andersen, who continued his stellar play in the series, going 4-for-4 from the field while scoring nine points and hauling in nine rebounds in limited minutes, said after the game, "I feel like no one takes me seriously. Sure I have a lot of tattoos, and a Mohawk, and crazy eyes, and by 'no one takes me seriously' I mean no one wants to join me after the season at the cliffs of Dover to see if the Birdman can fly, but caw! Caw caw!" When asked why he was cawing, Andersen replied, "I'm sorry, I couldn't hear you, I was too busy caw cawing."
Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs are one game away from the NBA Finals after beating the Memphis Grizzlies, 104-93, in overtime. Duncan chalked the win up to "playing slightly better basketball than our opponent." When asked to elaborate, Duncan added, "Over the course of the game we scored more points, which is how wins and losses are decided in basketball. Additionally, winning feels good, so we pursue that through playing the game well." When asked if there was anything he wanted to add on a personal level, Duncan said, "Well, I am a person, if that's what you mean. I suppose I could add that I am alive, I went to college, and I have a job as a basketball man." When asked if he had had any interesting thought in the past 15 years, Duncan said, "I saw a cloud once, and a friend I was with said it looked like a lion, but I corrected him explaining it was an altocumulus … hey where are you going? I also know things about stamps and actuarial tables."
In case you were busy really getting inside the mind of Barry Zuckerkorn in preparation for the new season of Arrested Development, here's what you missed in sports on Thursday.
The Los Angeles Kings are one step closer to defending their Stanley Cup crown after Jonathan Quick shut out the San Jose Sharks, 3-0, at Staples Center. The Sharks have now gone more than 96 minutes without a goal, which Kings coach Darryl Sutter credits to "playing a clean game, and keeping all the blood off the ice. Joe Thornton sees blood? Patrick Marleau? You've got a feeding frenzy on your hands. But right now they just keep skating by us, real passive, like we're not even there." When asked about the Sharks' home-ice advantage, Sutter added, "Oh, we're in trouble for Game 6. If you think [Sharks coach] Todd McLellan isn't going to gut a seal at center ice before the game just to get things going, you don't know McLellan."
Chris Kreider helped the Rangers avoid a sweep with an overtime goal in New York's 4-3 win over the Boston Bruins. The key moment in the game came in the second period when the Bruins, up 2-0 at the time, gave up a goal when goalkeeper and Klingon warrior Tuukka Rask fell over on a relatively well-defended Rangers breakaway. Rask was defiant after the game when asked if the defeat portended a Rangers comeback, saying, "Hab SoSlI' Quch! (Your mother has a smooth forehead!)" and then laughing heartily before eating what appeared to be a Targ heart out of a Tupperware container.
In case you were even busier not making up with Sergio Garcia, here's what you missed in sports on Tuesday:
Despite an epic comeback to force overtime, Tim Duncan and Tony Parker proved to be too much for the Memphis Grizzlies, who fell into a 2-0 hole in the Western Conference finals after falling, 93-89, to the San Antonio Spurs. "All praise to Tim for this win," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said after the game. "He spends his offseasons as a scoutmaster, so bear traps are kind of his thing. And in this case he set a really good one made out of leafy foliage and letting Jerryd Bayless try to beat us. I was nervous it wasn't going to hold, but Tim's such a calm presence that we stuck with it and came out of there with another trophy for our mantle." Popovich then laughed nervously and added, "figuratively."
Joe Thornton led the San Jose Sharks to a hard-fought 2-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings to even up their series at two games apiece. When asked if Thornton was a thorn in his team's side, Kings coach Darryl Sutter said, "No. He's a Thornton on their side." When asked again, Sutter angrily replied, "You want your headline? Here's your headline: Sharks Swim Over Deposed Kings as Thornton Proves a Thorn in the Too Slow Quick's Side." Sutter then yelled angrily, "You monsters! Look what's become of you. Making me, Daryl Sutter, utter those words in that order! Look what's become of me!"