Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Sasha and Vlad

Good night for sports in LA, at least with regard to teams I like.

Kings fire Crawford

The Kings, who managed to finish second to last and therefore (presumably) missed out on Steve Stamkos, have fired Marc Crawford with a year still left on his contract. GM Dean Lombardi claims it was a "gut call," but it probably has something to do with the legacy of underachieving which permeates the franchise. I've said it before and I'll say it again: AEG is not a suitable team owner, in any sport, and I'd like someone along the lines of Mark Cuban to buy the team and turn it into a contender.

I'm not sure Crawford was the problem...when you lose 43 games, the bigger problem is the players. The Kings haven't really had a legitimate goalie since Potvin left, but the prospect of Bernier making it to LA soon is promising. Also, look for Hockey East alums F Brian Boyle (Boston College...BC sucks), F Teddy Purcell (Maine), and possibly G Jon Quick (UMass) to see some time at Staples. Boyle has been given plenty of ice time and has, surprisingly, excelled, so expect to see him starting on the third or fourth line at center. What a goon, though.

If I had to choose a coach, with my relatively limited knowledge of the NHL, I'd look outside the organization at this point. Unless we can get Luuuuuuc to coach, I don't see any reason why the Kings should be trying to find and internal solution, particularly with the relatively disconnected ownership.

Angels 6, Rays 1

6 runs?! That's as close to the 10-run Hooters wings promotion as the Halos have gotten in a month. Jered pitched one hell of a game, going 8 innings and surrendering the only Rays run on a Gabe Gross homer with two out in the eighth. I only caught snippets of this game, between the Lakers and competitive drinking games, but I did observe the aforementioned Gross homer, along with the first inning two run bomb to right from Garett Anderson and the fifth inning Vlad blast. Speaking of Vlad, he went 2-4 with a pair of RBI's, so his average is slowly creeping back up to what we all know and love.

James Shields gave up 6 runs on 10 hits while striking out 9, pitching 8 innings. It's an unusual line score, but I don't have a whole lot more insight beyond that. Usually with strikeout totals you expect at least one walk, but he was facing the Angels, so walks are a rarity. This was also the first time Shields pitched after the brawl in Boston, and he was probably a little amped up during the four-run first inning.

Scot Shields pitched a scoreless ninth for the Halos, striking out the first two batters he faced before getting a groundout to third to end it. Scot's probably my favorite reliever of all time because, well, the guy makes millions of dollars and still drinks Bud Light.

Lakers 87, Celtics 81

There are eight million game recaps out there for this game, so I won't bother. But I will say this. The Lakers could have won this game by 20. They could have lost this game by 20. Three reasons for both scenarios:
  • Free throws
  • Pau Gasol
  • Lamar Odom
Free throws in the NBA have always pissed me off. But first of all, the moving screen needs to be allowed, because every screen in the NBA is a moving screen. Either call it every time, or don't call it at all. And getting hit in the face, for some reason, apparently isn't a foul, but tripping over your own feet is. The officiating was bad this game as well, but slightly less bad than previously, and bad in a way which, for the most part, helped the Lakers.

Free throws. FREE throws. The first word is important. They're free. FREE POINTS. If you're the league MVP, you shouldn't miss free throws. Ever. Not one. Especially not two in a row. And don't you dare miss 7 of the 18 FREE points the refs try to give you. As far as I'm concerned, if you can't shoot at least 80% from the line, you have no business driving into the lane. Hell, you have no business playing in the NBA. It's pathetic. It was kinda cute when Shaq would walk to the line, sweating profusely into his own eyes, and then miss free throws on shots which looked more like straight lines than rainbows. But it's not cute anymore. The Lakers gave away a collective 13 points on FREE points last night.

Pau Gasol. Pau, oh Pau. We all love you, but this disappearing act needs to stop. If you're gonna get into the paint, FINISH. And if you get fouled, make your god damn FREE THROWS. Seriously. Pau missed 5 of his 8 attempts at free points. He also went 3 for 9 from the field. Unacceptable.

Lamar Odom. Lamar didn't do anything this game. He also has an incredibly creepy vein in his right shoulder. I swear it looks like somethings gonna pop out of that thing and start consuming Jack Nicholson.

But, as always, Kobe. And Sasha Vujacic? Are you kidding me? The Lakers don't even get close to winning this one without The Machine, and man, was he fun to watch. Sasha finished with 20 points, going 3 for 5 from outside the arc and 7 of 10 overall. Kind of a big deal.

Game four is Thursday at 9:00. Pierce, Garnett, Fisher, Odom, and Gasol should all play better games, mostly because it would be difficult to play any worse.

Game Preview: Rays at Angels, 3:35 PM EST

Whoever wins this game wins the series...I've never been partial to the term "rubber game." Should be another excellent pitching matchup, with John Lackey facing off with Scott Kazmir. Vlad is heating up, hitting five homers in the last 14 games and raising his average to .270, while Maicer Izturis has a ten game hitting streak thus far.

Honestly, the Angels suck against Kazmir, but Lackey's been so good lately that I see them pulling out a 2-1 or 2-0 win. Either way, losing to the Rays is no longer an embarrassing admission, and that's something every baseball fan can appreciate.

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