SportsProf

(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.

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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Princeton Tigers Win Ivy Men's Lacrosse Title

Normally I'm not part of the "late-arriving" crowd, but yesterday's activities -- chauffering kids to their own games -- had me get to Princeton late, have great pizza at Conte's, and then arrive with the Tigers up 4-3 early in the second quarter.  Class of '52 Stadium at Princeton was packed -- with the Tiger faithful (lots of beige in the parents section on a reasonable night -- no rain, low fifties, but chilly when the wind kicked up) buzzing, many high school, middle school and elementary school lacrosse players and a Cornell contingent of good size and vocals.  My guess is that risk management in Tigertown would have been a bit concerned -- the place was, metaphorically, packed to the rafters.

The hometown 10 had its "A" game on, and the visitors played with a great sense of urgency, in some significant contrast to games that I watched in the same stadium against a woeful Dartmouth team that seemed to be stuck in a low gear and a middling Penn team that ran out of gas after half time.  The game proceeded at a fast, almost brutal pace, with attackmen in high gear cutting and dodging, trying to gain an edge, while the Tigers' defensive three of Cunningham, Meyers and Wiedemaier (pardon the spelling) played with a tremendous combination of urgency and patience, always working to force Cornell attackers away from the goal.  And when the visitors got there they were met with some spectacular play from the Tigers' goalie Tyler Fiorito, who as part Stonewall Jackson and part Peking Acrobat.  All that plus solid movement on offense, and the Tigers won the game and the Ivy League by a score of 14-9.

It was a fun atmosphere at Class of '52 Stadium, high-end lacrosse, a nice night, gelato from the Whole Foods down the road afterwards to make the night complete.  That said. . .

The Ivy post-season lacrosse tournament -- for the Ivies' automatic bid to the NCAA tournament -- is at Princeton next weekend.  Cornell and Princeton are favored to meet in a re-match for the title, one with even higher stakes than last night's game.  The drama will build, it will be a revenge game for the Big Red, but if the Tigers show up as ready for that game (so long as they and Cornell don't look past their semi-final opponents) as they did for last night, they will be primed to put on quite a show.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

I Have Decided to Tweet!

Just plug in SportsProf and you can follow the tweets.

I figured that it's time to join the 21st century, so here I am.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Suggestion for Curing Cheap Shots in Hockey

Lacrosse has something called a non-releasable penalty. In a nutshell, if you hit someone in the head, you could get a one-minute non-releasable penalty. What that means is that the player stays off the entire length of the penalty, giving the other team a chance to score as many power-player goals as they can during the length of the penalty. Which means that a good team might be able to score 2 goals during that one minute.

So, translate this to the NHL, where if a player hits someone in the head (depending on the severity) you could have a two-minute or five-minute non-releasable penalty (or longer). If that were the case, a team could ramp its power play for a solid five minutes, perhaps scoring as many as three goals. Were that to happen, players would be careful about going for head shots, very careful, as they could cost their team the game.

Suspensions and fines might or might not work, depending on the severity. But putting a team in a position, game after game, to have the other team score a bunch of power play goals during a long, non-releasable penalty, just might.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Before Watching Hockey Fights, a Beautiful Walk

We took a long walk today on the Delaware Canal, and, en route, saw geese, ducks, big turtles, frogs, tadpoles and all sorts of fish. There were also people of all ages out there -- running, biking, walking dogs, plain old walking and getting exercise. Today was a gorgeous, unseasonably warm day in the Delaware Valley, about 76 degrees with a bright sun, and it was a great opportunity to take a break from chores, piles of paper, etc. to enjoy a terrific day.

Flyers-Penguins -- "They Started It!"

That's paraphrasing what kids say after a teacher or adult intervenes in a scrap, scolding both. So one usually says, "but he started it." Sometimes it's hard to tell who started it, but today the desperate Penguins, down 2-0 and playing in a hostile Wachovia Center, talked trash, cheap-shotted the Flyers and generally lost their composure en route to an 8-4 thrashing at the hands of the Broad Street. . . Flyers.

There was feistiness, there were rights, and there was trash talking, and among the biggest instigators/antagonists was uber-star Sidney Crosby, who was, depending on how you looked at it, dirty and profane or feisty and combative. I'm not a huge follower of hockey or a huge fan, but it struck me that the Penguins needed to play a lot smarter in order to take Game 3 and try to make this a competitive series once again. Instead, they came out too aggressive, and, in the end, the Flyers played with more poise and routed their cross-state rivals.

If the Penguins learned anything today, in hockey they should remember this -- if you start it, you better be able to finish it. But it was the Flyers who answered time and time again, finishing any scrap that the Penguins brought their way. It was surprising to see, to a degree, both the Flyers' keeping their cool, relatively speaking, and the Penguins' losing theirs.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

When All-Timers Get Grouchy

Pele contends that the young Brazilian striker Neymar is better than Argentina's (and Barcelona's) Lionel Messi.

The Brazilian legend also contends that the prolific Messi shouldn't be talked about in the conversation about who is the best of all time.

Sounds like the Brazilian legend is self-righteous, right or jealous.

What do you say?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Wasn't Ozzie Guillen Talking About Juan Castro?

As in the former utility infielder for the Dodgers and Phillies.

That must have been the ticket, or else why is the entire Cuban-American community looking for his termination or resignation. That must have been the case in South Florida, because the Marlins' skipper claims that he was misquoted. Yet, his explanation today -- in Spanish -- was so lame that he might as well have said that he admired Juan Castro. That comment might have been more believable.

On the one hand, the linked FOX Sports article predicts that Guillen will not last the season. On the other hand, it might have been an amazing publicity ploy. After all, Guillen said something so outrageous that the Marlins might sell out their tickets to a bunch of Cuban-Americans who willo want to maim Guillen at every turn. Think of all the ticket sales, the concession stand revenue, and Guillen and Fish owner Jeffrey Loria are evil geniuses. Diss the Cuban-American community in Miami and draw headlines for the remainder of the season.

Another possible explanation is that Guillen was under coercion, that the Hugo Chavez government in Venezuela, Guillen's home country, kidnapped Guillen's family and threatened to harm them if one of the most well-known Venezuelans didn't come out and publicly vouch for one of Chavez's main allies, Castro. So, it stands to reason that while either Chavez has Guillen on film doing embarrassing things or was threatening Guillen's family, Guillen had no choice but to publicly praise Castro.

In any event, this is a mess for Guillen and the Marlins. Just what they needed when they opened a new ballpark.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

The Philadelphia Flyers as Victims. . . Yeah, Right

A Flyers' player took about ten steps and cross-checked Penguins' mega-star Sidney Crosby from behind. Crosby has suffered from concussions, so not only was this hit a cheap shot, it could have exacerbated a condition that Crosby has worked hard to overcome to get back on the ice.

So, later in the game, a Penguins' player took a hard shot at Flyers' star Danny Briere, which prompted a) all five skaters on both teams dropping the gloves and b) Flyers' coach Peter Laviollette up over the glass, gesturing to the Penguins' coach, calling him out for putting his goons on the ice when they hadn't been out for twelve minutes, and the breaking a stick over the glass. Oh, the Flyers won of course, and the two teams probably will face each other in the playoffs. You can read about the game here.

I saw the replays and heard Laviollette's explanation, but I think that he's just plain wrong. The Penguins had more than every right to dry to turn Briere into a one-dimensional poster board cutout to make amends for the cheap shot on Crosby. Sorry, Coach (whom I happen to like), but if one of your guys goons it up and takes a cheap shot at one of the best players in the game, what else should you expect? And if you and your boys cannot tolerate the type of hit put on Briere and the fights that ensued, then maybe you should reconsider having one of your guys put a cross-check on a player from behind.

Sorry, Flyers, but you started it, and, if I were the commissioner, I'd suspend the Flyer (Braden Schenn) who put the hit on Crosby for five games, dock him his pay and fine him $50,000. Sure, Crosby didn't get hurt, but that's not the point. The point was that that type of hit has no place in hockey, and this type of hijinks cheapens the game.

Victims? No.

Victors? At least for today, yes.

Honorable? What do you think?