Stanley Cup Finals – Game 5

I haven’t gotten to see any of the Stanley Cup Finals up until tonight’s Game 5. There’s about 7 minutes left in the first OT and this may be one of the most intense hockey games I have ever seen. The Penguins dominated the opening part of the first period, scoring two quick goals. The Detroit absolutely dominated the rest of the game, outshooting the Pens 38-13 since the first. Detroit scored one in the second and took the lead with two in the third. I was resigned to the fact that pseudo-Detroit fans were going to claim their allegiance to the Wings all offseason when Max Talbot delayed my pain with 35 seconds left, putting home a rebound to tie the game at 3.

The Penguins really have no business even being in this game. Marc-Andre Fleury has single handedly kept Pittsburgh’s hopes alive. He made one of the best saves I’ve ever seen, gliding across the crease to kick Valtteri Filppula’s chance out. My jaw dropped on that one.

End of the first OT and everyone gets a chance to breathe…I’m going to change my fish’s water so I’ll have something else to do. This game was been too frantic from the very start.

Detroit has been the better team since the first 10 minutes of the game. They’re just pummeling the Penguins. Obviously, I’m a Penguins fan here. It’s the Blues fan coming out in me, so I apologize for that, but I’ll try to keep that inside. No promises if the Wings score. I’m not going to live blog this, because I don’t really know what I’m doing, but I’ll be making comments if I see something interesting.

I’m not sure it would be possible for Evgeni Malkin to be any less of a factor in this game. He can’t move, can’t find space, get the puck, he’s just been awful. On the other side, Marian Hossa has been great for the Penguins. He’d look great in Blue next year. Another questionable interference call on the Wings. I’m not going to complain, but I’d rather the Pens score full strength after that.

Marc-Andre Fleury is no longer human.

I’m going to make a prediction. I think if the Pens score, it’s going to come from a Brad Stuart mistake. He’s been making some poor decisions in his own end all night and that may come back to hurt the Wings. The Wings just look like they’re about to score every 15 seconds.

Apparently Petr Sykora just said he’s going to score. That’s pretty gutsy. My money is on Hossa or Datsyuk. Great. Triple Overtime.

I should also point out that Hal Gill has been very solid for Pittsburgh. How much do the Pens miss Sergei Gonchar right now? Now the announcers agree with me.

Wow, a four minute penalty to Jiri Hudler. What a mistake on the high stick. Pittsburgh hasn’t looked real good on their last two PPs. The injured Sergei Gonchar is now on the ice, this could get interesting.

PETR SYKORA HAS ENDED IT! He called it earlier and he gets it done. Gonchar and Malkin get the assist and we go to Pittsburgh Wednesday night. What a game. Player of the game easily goes Marc Andrew Fleury. He is easily the only reason Pittsburgh didn’t lose by 5. I’ve had enough, I’m going to bed.

Who will be where?

There are four players that have sparked my interest as to what jersey they will be wearing come September. These four players are Chad Johnson, currently a wide receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals, Jason Taylor, currently a defensive end for the Miami Dolphins, Shaun Alexander, a running back who was released this off season by the Seattle Seahawks and Travis Henry, a running back who was just released today by the Denver Broncos. These players have been the most thought provoking for me because they are all capable of performing at a high level, and making an impact on any team they play for.

With all four of these players I know that I would be happy to see any of them play for the Colts, as unrealistic as it is. I’m just trying to say that they are all good enough that I would want them on my team. However I believe only one of these players has any likelihood of ending up in a Colts uniform next year, and that is Jason Taylor. The reason I say this is because he says he want to play for a contender, and the Colts need help along the defensive line, so it would be a good fit for him. Wherever he is playing in September, I don’t see it being with the Dolphins. Chad Johnson on the other hand I see staying put. As much as he wants to get out of Cincinnati, it doesn’t appear that it’s going to happen. There have reportedly been some pretty big offers sent their way, the most notable being from Dallas, and all trade proposals have been rejected. So I see Johnson staying with the Bengals. In Shaun Alexander’s and Travis Henry’s cases, they obviously can’t be staying with their team because they were released. The sad thing about these two is that there’s a chance that neither one of them find a team for next year. Alexander has been on the market now for about a month and nobody has signed him, and he has no off the field issues, and is about on the same level as Henry in terms of production. So with Alexander struggling to find a job, and having a clean record, it will probably be just as difficult or harder for Henry to find a team to sign him, because he has had some injury problems as well as off the field issues.

Well, I saw on that Travis Henry had been released and it got me thinking about these four players so I decided to write a post about it. If you have any additional thought please feel free to leave a comment. I’m curious as to where (if anywhere) these players will end up.

Good Quarterbacks – Few and Far Between

With the 2008 NFL season approaching and the offseason in full swing, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at how many teams have some sort of question mark at the quarterback position. With what I’ve come up with it looks like nearly 75% of the teams in the league have either a question of who their starting quarterback will be or how reliable their starter is, whether that be in terms of staying healthy or consistent play on the field.

I will break down each teams quarterback situation team by team and organized by division.

NFC East

Cowboys – Set with Tony Romo

Giants – Set with Eli Manning but was the end of last year a fluke? Last season was his lowest passer rating since his rookie season, but because of his performance throughout the playoffs people think he’s found his rhythm. Has he?

Eagles – set with McNabb but can he stay healthy? McNabb hasn’t played all 16 games of a season since 2003. If they want to make a playoff run, then they need to keep McNabb healthy.

Redskins – Jason Campbell or Todd Collins? Jason Campbell seemed to be developing well when he got hurt last year, but the Collins stepped in and performed well. The Redskins have said that they are committed to Campbell but I think the battle for the starting spot will continue through training camp.

NFC West

Cardinals – Matt Leinart or Kurt Warner? Do you go with the young talent who has showed some promise and is supposed to be the future of your franchise or do you go with the proven veteran, who when called upon last year stepped in and performed well?

49ers – Alex Smith or Shaun Hill? Alex Smith was supposed to be their quarterback for years to come when they drafted him, but he hasn’t performed up to his expectations, and Shaun Hill could easily win the starting job either during preseason or at some point during the regular season. No matter what, I don’t think that either quarterback is going to be good enough.

Seahawks – Set with Matt Hasselbeck.

Rams – Set with Marc Bulger but can the o-line keep him healthy? If not then is Trent Green a good enough back up, especially considering he struggles to stay healthy?

NFC North

Bears – Kyle Orton or rex grossman? I don’t think either is a good option. They say that they’re sticking with grossman, but I personally would go with Orton.

Lions – Set with Jon Kitna. Set with him and his predictions.

Packers – Aaron Rodgers, Brian Brohm or Matt Flynn? I’m going to assume this will be Rodgers, but will he be able to step in to his role and perform at the level that they need him to if they intend to stay on top of that division? Or will his lack of experience, and the teams loss of their leader weigh them down?

Vikings – Tavaris Jackson or John David Booty? Jackson hasn’t exactly established himself as a starter quality player, but I wouldn’t say Booty is starter ready either. I’d give this one to Jackson because he’s got some experience and is only in the third season, so he might be able to develop into a more reliable player.

NFC South

Falcons – Matt Ryan, Chris Redman or Joey Harrington? I’m guessing they’ll go with Matt Ryan, due to the fact that this is going to be such a huge rebuilding year for them so it’ll be good for him to get the experience when there isn’t a whole lot on the line and on his shoulders.

Panthers – Set with Jake Delhomme but can he stay healthy? He got injured last year and they signed the 44-year-old Vinny Testaverde. If Delhomme gets injured again, they might find themselves just as desperate again.

Saints – Set with Drew Brees, and have a solid backup with Mark Brunell.

Buccaneers – Set with Jeff Garcia, but he’s getting to the end of his career. Where will they turn to next?

AFC East

Bills – Trent Edwards or J.P. Losman? Losman had a promising third season, but was benched last year and replaced by Edwards. I think the Bills will start Edwards, but it will be interesting to see.

Dolphins – Josh McCown, John Beck or Chad Henne? I don’t think that any of these quarterbacks are the answer that the Dolphins need to turn this franchise around. But Bill Parcells knows what he’s doing. Maybe they’ll grab Matt Stafford in the 2009 draft or something.

pats – set with tom brady

Jets – Chad Pennington, Kellen Clemens or Erik Ainge? I really think that any of these three guys could win the starting position between know and September. I’ve read that the Jets have been impressed with Ainge so far, but Chad Pennington will probably get the starting role just because he’s a more proven veteran, over Ainge, 21 years old, and Clemens, 24.

AFC West

Broncos – Set with Jay Cutler but what if his diabetes turn out to be a bigger problem than we think?

Chiefs – Brodie Croyle, Damon Huard or Tyler Thigpen? They’re going to start Croyle but if I were them I’d take a good hard look at Thigpen, because I remember watching him in preseason game last year and being really impressed.

Raiders – Set with JaMarcus Russell. We’ll finally see if 2007’s first overall pick was worth it.

Chargers – Set with Philip Rivers.

AFC North

Ravens – Kyle Boller, Troy Smith, or Joe Flacco? This will probably be Boller just due to the fact that he has the most experience, but again, I don’t see any of these players being a long term solution.

Bengals – Set with Carson Palmer.

Browns – Derek Anderson or Brady Quinn? Derek Anderson will get the starting role, and Brady Quinn will be a back up, that we will all anxiously await to see if his career ever takes off.

Steelers – Set with Ben Roethlisberger.

AFC South

Texans – Set with Matt Schaub.

Colts – Set with Peyton Manning.

Jaguars – Set with David Garrard. Last year was by far his best season since he’s been in the NFL but can he do it again? He had a 6 to 1 touchdown to interception ratio. It’ll be difficult to live up to the expectations that he created for himself.

Titans – Set with Vince Young. Young still needs to prove himself as a passing QB, which won’t be any easier considering the Titans haven’t provided him with many weapons to throw to.

The Baseball Road Trip is Over

Alright fearless readers, this blog is back to having two authors. After today’s 7-4 Cardinals victory over the Pirates, I headed back to Columbia to lead the life of a normal human again. We met many interesting people and saw many interesting things all while sampling the finest in ballpark delicacies. I’m going to break my report up by city. I already did the Sox games because I had some brief internet access, so up next will be our trek through Wrigleyville.

The first game we saw was a day game, so we didn’t have much time to walk around Wrigley before the game. (I’m a late riser.) We took the train to the stadium and joined the swath of people headed into the famed Wrigley Field. I’d never been there before, so I didn’t know anything about how things worked. We didn’t know that the bleachers were unassigned, so all the Bleacher Bums showed up when the gates opened to get good seats. This left Dad and I without much to do during batting practice, so we scouted the food and checked out the stadium. We eventually settled on some bratwursts and settled in to our seats (not pictured at right) to watch the game. While we may not have been directly behind home plate, we were directly behind the Cubs’ dugout, giving us beautiful views of both Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez‘s homers. Ryan Dempster pitched well, Kerry Wood got the save, Fergie Jenkins sang “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”, and the Cubs won 3-1. Then they played that annoying song about the Cubs winning; I’m not real sure where it came from, but it got everyone awfully excited.

A side note about Wrigley: It’s known as the Friendly Confines, but I found that this is completely misleading. The ushers there look harmless since they’re all about 80 years old, but they’re pretty mean when it comes down to it. They don’t like answering questions and they really don’t like when you don’t take their advice. An example: My Dad and I have started collecting samples of the warning track from each of the stadiums we’ve visited. Normally, security guards will look at you funny and leave you alone or in some cases, help you if necessary. We have never encountered a problem when doing this…until Wrigley Field. We made our way down to the front row, where a security guard told us we didn’t have tickets so we had to leave. Dad says we just want to get a little dirt and we’ll be off. He looks at Dad and says, “Take the warning track and it’s a felony. We will arrest you.” Naturally, we were taken aback by this. We left empty handed and quite confused. It turns out that they were selling bottles of Wrigley dirt outside for $5. So, whenever someone calls it the Friendly Confines, know that he or she is lying.

After we left, we headed to Harry Caray’s to have a beer or two and meet some of the local Chicagoans. We ended up meeting a guy who had some great stories about his run-ins with Sox GM Kenny Williams and his trip to the Super Bowl. He claimed he was one of about 20 people who were season ticket holders in the bleachers. I don’t know if this is real accurate, but it made for good conversation.

After Harry Caray’s, we walked a full circle around the stadium in search of the best and/or cheapest food. We came across the cheapest first since some bar was serving two dollar burgers, fries, and beer so we stayed there for most of the afternoon. We met some more Cubs fans, who were very cordial to us, especially after we told them about our trip. One of the main questions I asked the Chicago natives was, “Why are you a Sox/Cubs fan?” and the most common answer I got back was, “Because my Nana was.” I found that interesting. The second most popular answer was, “So I didn’t have to be a Sox fan.”

The second game was just as eventful. If you look carefully in the first picture, you will notice that most people have on shorts. Kosuke Fukudome’s bobble head night was not that nice. The game time wind chill was 35 degrees. I went from buying ice cream to hot chocolate overnight. We signed up for MasterCards so we could get the free blankets that came along with it. Now I have a Cubs blanket that I don’t know what to do with, but it was certainly nice to have at the time. The Cubs won 3-1 again, so we got to hear that silly song which stayed stuck in my head for 2 days. I don’t remember a whole lot else because I was frozen, but both games were a good time.

I will leave you with a quick story from batting practice during the second game. We were standing on the first base side, when a ball got lined directly at us. I didn’t have to move and had my glove, so I was ready to catch it. At the last second, a guy who had run from the middle of the aisle flung his blanket in front of my glove. The ball hit his blanket and then stuck in my glove. He pulled the blanket out and and with it came the ball. I stood in disbelief for a second and then realized that I’d been worked over by a professional. So I tip my hat to that guy, it was a very impressive stunt.

Milwaukee tomorrow…

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