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28 posts from May 2008

May 05, 2008

It's Finals Time

FinalsThe NHL has come out with the starting times for the upcoming conference finals, and I have to admit I am very surprised with the Philadelphia Flyers. I didn't think they had it in 'em to go up to Montreal and handle the Habs the way they did.

Good for them.

That said, I'm still picking the Penguins (not that they really care).

Here is the complete schedule for the upcoming games...

SERIES M                       TIME (ET)    #2 Pittsburgh vs. #6 Philadelphia        Networks
Friday, May 9  7:30 p.m.        Philadelphia at Pittsburgh       VERSUS, CBC, RDS, NHL RADIO
Sunday, May 11 7:30 p.m.     Philadelphia at Pittsburgh       VERSUS, CBC, RDS, NHL RADIO
Tuesday, May 13 7:30 p.m.    Pittsburgh at Philadelphia       VERSUS, CBC, RDS, NHL RADIO
Thursday, May 15 7:30 p.m.   Pittsburgh at Philadelphia       VERSUS, CBC, RDS, NHL RADIO
*Sunday, May 18 3 p.m.         Philadelphia at Pittsburgh        NBC, CBC, RDS, NHL RADIO
*Tuesday, May 20 7:30 p.m.  Pittsburgh at Philadelphia       VERSUS, CBC, RDS, NHL RADIO
*Thursday, May 22 7:30 p.m. Philadelphia at Pittsburgh        VERSUS, CBC, RDS, NHL RADIO

SERIES N                        TIME (ET)        #1 Detroit vs. #5 Dallas        Networks
Thursday, May 8 7:30 p.m.      Dallas at Detroit                     VERSUS, TSN, RDS, NHL RADIO
Saturday, May 10 7 p.m.        Dallas at Detroit                       VERSUS, CBC, RDS, NHL RADIO
Monday, May 12 8 p.m.          Detroit at Dallas                     VERSUS, TSN, RDS, NHL RADIO
Wednesday, May 14  8 p.m.    Detroit at Dallas                       VERSUS, TSN, RDS, NHL RADIO
*Saturday, May 17 1:30 p.m.   Dallas at Detroit                       NBC, CBC, RDS, NHL RADIO
*Monday, May 19   8 p.m.       Detroit at Dallas                     VERSUS, CBC, RDS, NHL RADIO
*Wednesday, May 21 7:30     Dallas at Detroit                       VERSUS, CBC, RDS, NHL RADIO


Belak's Back for More Cowbell

Belak The Panthers have announced that enforcer Wade Belak has signed a two-year deal and will not become a free agent. Belak had offseason shoulder surgery and is currently rehabbing up in Canada.

He told me and Brian Y today that he's expected to be fine and dandy come training camp.

This is a good, solid move by the Panthers, locking up a guy who's role on the team is a lot more important than his role on the stat sheet. Belak doesn't score a whole lot, but he does carry a lot of weight both on the ice and in the room.

One thing I liked about Wade last year was how he noticed how much pressure Olli Jokinen was carrying around at the end of the season and tried to alleviate some of that by joking around with Olli on the ice, kind of messing with him to loosen him up, break up some of the tension. I don't know too many other players who would have not only recognized the pressure Olli was under, but try to do something to lessen it. Don't know if it worked, but at least the dude gave it a shot.

As I've said a number of times, I don't think the Panthers are going to be able to bring back Steve Montador, so I would think Belak would get some more minutes than he did last year.

Says Belak: "I think the players there respect me and appreciate what I do. If I can make room for the guys who can score, to where they don't have to worry about the intimidation factor, well, I've done my job.''

Regarding his shoulder surgery, Belak says he had a partially torn labrum and had been playing in pain for over a year. Says it got to the point where it affected his off-ice work. He adds he'll be good come August, plenty of time for training camp when it kicks off in September.

"It got to the point where I couldn't work the way I wanted to,'' he said. "It would flare up and that would be enough. They say the rehab is four to six months, but it's feeling real good so I'm looking at the four month side of things. I'm confident it'll be fine.''

-- The Panthers also signed center Kamil Kreps to a two-year deal today and that's a nice reward for a fine rookie season. Kreps had a very underrated 2007-08 campaign.

-- Also, David Booth scored for Team USA last night as Americans topple Slovenia 5-1 at Worlds...

-- Also, team came to terms with 23-year-old Luke Beaverson, who just finished his senior season at Beaver Alaska-Anchorage. I would have guessed a hockey player with the name Beaverson would have played at Oregon State, although I'm not sure they even have a team.

Anyway, The Beaver scored a goal with two assists in 30 games for the Seawolves. A native of St. Paul, Beaverson was captain of the team and JM says he's a "big, strong and durable defenseman who will continue to develop at the professional level.'' The Panthers drafted Beaverson in the seventh round of the 2004 draft.

-- Also, FSN will air its Panthers wrap-up show (one they probably could have broadcast on March 28, the day after they lost to the Thrashers at home) on May 10 at 11 a.m. Lots of good stuff from Denis, Goldie, Craig, Frank and the rest of the crew I'm sure.

May 03, 2008

Preparing for the Move

Lastsmoke3 Tonight is University of Miami Family Night at Joe Robbie Stadium, something the Marlins have done in the past but tonight takes on a different feel since the Canes football team is moving here come August.

Charleston Southern? Who?

Anyway, little more green mixed in with the orange seats here in Miami Gardens, a lot of UM facility, students and alums taking in the game.

Sebastian the Ibis is down on the field taking photos with Billy the Marlin, a little ironic since these two mascots will be switching venues in the coming years. Sebastian gets to stay, Billy has to move (although I'll believe in Marlins Park at the Orange Bowl when I see the cement being poured. And even then I may be a tad skeptical).

As far as baseball goes, not much change from Friday night. Marlins throwing out the same lineup it did last night, save for pitcher Ricky Nolasco going instead of Mark Hendrickson.

Padres making quite a few changes to the lineup, trying to get something going. The Fathers have lost four of five and 13 of 16. In past five games, Pads have scored 15 runs.

-- Here are tonight's starting lineups:

Marlins: Amezaga CF; Hermida RF; Ramirez SS; Jacobs 1B; Cantu 3B; Uggla 2B; Gonzalez LF; Rabelo C; Nolasco P

Padres: Giles RF; Iguchi 2B; Gonzalez 1B; Kouzmanoff 3B; Edmonds CF; Greene SS; Bard C; McAnulty LF; Peavy P

-- Nice run by Big Brown, no? First horse since 1929 to win out of the 20 slot. Definite shame to see Eight Belles (which placed) break both front ankles after the race and have to be euthanized almost immediately. Always hate to see that.

Mayra_2 -- Throwing out the first pitch: On Frozen Pond favorite Mayra Veronica (called one of 100 sexiest women by FHM back when FHM was around). Bad pitch, but who cares? The Marlins, I should add, need more Mayra Veronica.

This was not the first time she threw out the first pitch when I covered a Marlins game. Some of you may remember this post from back in the day.

-- Tomorrow should be a good time at the ballpark. Padres' Greg Maddux going for his 350th career victory against the Fish. Start time at 1:10. What else you got going on?

-- For those Marlins fans who enjoy visiting cyberspace, The Herald is about to launch a new blog just for the Marlins. Clark Spencer, Mike Phillips and myself will opine on everything Marlins at Fish Bytes. Coming soon to a neighborhood computer near you.

Should be up and running by the time I cover the Marlins in DC next week. So keep your eyes peeled.

-- Padres lineup doing a bit of damage tonight...three runs for SD in the first two innings...Marlins get two in the first off a Mike Jacobs homer to left...

-- Still 3-2 here in the fourth, Jorge Cantu making a great defensive stop, running over to the founder's box seats behind third to get a Brian Giles popup, then spinning and throwing to a hustling Hanley Ramirez to cover third and get Paul McAnulty trying to tag up. Check SportsCenter for that one....

HOCKEY ALERT -- HOCKEY ALERT -- HOCKEY ALERT

-- Montreal trying to stave off elimination, leading the Philly Phlyers 3-1 with 7:22 left in the second period...

-- At the World Championships today, Panthers d-man Magnus "Magnum" Johansson gets a goal as Sweden upends Belarus 6-5.

Olliinternational -- And Olli Jokinen gets things going for Finland, his goal gave the Fins a 2-0 lead on Germany and turns out to be the game-winner, Finland dropping the VWs 5-1...

Now, back to your regularly scheduled baseball game...

-- Marlins trail 6-2, Peavy pulled after walking Luis Gonzalez with two outs in the sixth...

-- Back to hockey: Former Panther d-man Ruslan Salei (bounced out of playoffs by Red Wings) is going to play in the Worlds, joining Belarus on Monday...

-- Philly/Montreal tied at 4 with 7 minutes left...

-- Indians/Royals scoreless in the fourth...

-- Oh my: Flyers come all the way back, now lead Habs 5-4 with 3 minutes left. If Bullies when this one, someone in Montreal could get hurt...those fans/crazy drunks are nuts....sure the police horses are out in force in the old city as we speak...

-- Oh my II: The Marlins Manatees just did a routine on the field to 'Peanut Butter Jelly Time.'' No Dancing Banana here...

-- Announced crowd: 37,689...upper deck looks good and full so maybe...

-- Make it 6-4 Flyers...Habs were last chance for a Canadian Cup champ this year...

May 02, 2008

There's Something About Jennifer (Aniston)

Aniston

Jennifer Aniston is in the House Joe Robbie Built Friday night as she and Owen Wilson are here filming a scene for their upcoming movie Marley & Me at the ballpark.

Since one of the other major stars of the flick is a dog (named Marley) it's only fitting they are filming at Bark at the Park night.

They filmed on the third base side of the lower bowl as it appears the scene revolves around the dog (Marley) getting loose and taking a premium seat down low. Owen Wilson and Ms. Aniston race down the steps to retrieve their pooch and herd him back upstairs.

The dog also gets loose and runs around on the field. That scene, again starring Ms. Aniston and Sr. Wilson, was filmed in left field during the ninth inning. The two actors chased the pup around the field, and it seemed like they all enjoyed it. Especially the dog.

PS: Marlins win, beating the Padres 6-4.

"[Aniston] definitely looked a lot better than I did,'' said left fielder Luis Gonzalez, who watched the scene unfold before going out to left for the top of the ninth. "I didn't know [the scene] was happening then or I might have run out there a little quicker to help her catch the dog.

Aniston2 "I would have jumped in front of Owen Wilson, grabbed the dog and handed it to her. That would have made a real hero, right? I should have screwed that whole scene up. What would they do, kick me off the field?"

Said manager Fredi Gonzalez of Aniston's 'running' ability: "She made some pretty athletic moves out there. She wasn't bad. .-.-. I knew they were going to do it, just didn't know what inning it would be. The umpires knew all about it so it was good. She's pretty athletic. She made some zig-zags out there.''

-- According to the Marlins, 754 dogs took in Friday's game -- don't know if the pooch who plays Marley was counted. You can be sure the Marlins jacked up their attendance numbers by counting Aniston, Wilson, the film crew and the extra Miami-Dade police officers brought in for the scene.

The Marlins say the Bark in the Park promotion benefited the Humane Society of Miami-Dade and Broward, so good deal there. Fans paid $12 to get up there in the upper deck, with an additional $6 per pooch.

Majorleague -- This is not the first time Joe Robbie Stadium has been the backdrop of a major motion picture. The stadium's other film credits include Any Given Sunday, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, and Major League IV: The Indians Cough It Up '97.

Obdemolision1 Of course, the Orange Bowl has a much more varied and extensive film resume, but I really don't feel like talking about my old friend right now. Still painful. Here's a picture of what used to be the Best Damn Stadium in the Land as of Thursday morning. Sad, ain't it.

-- And who else but On Frozen Pond gives you a blog entry with Jennifer Aniston, Charlie Sheen and the Orange Bowl in it?

Don't even bother looking, there isn't one.

You Stay Classy, San Diego (And Thanks for Visiting. But Mostly, Stay Classy)

BurgandyThe Padres are in town tonight, and a good portion of fans at Joe Robbie Stadium will be of the four-legged variety as the team celebrates it's annual Bark in the Park night.

Good times for those of you who have dogs and like baseball. Those who don't have dogs and don't like baseball, well, sorry for you pal.

Few notes from this afternoon's bull session with Fredi Gonzalez. Josh Willingham is out and on the 15 day DL with his wonky back (full post below), Hanley Ramirez is being bumped to the third slot in the lineup with the Alfredo Amezaga/Cody Ross center field combo leading off. Anibal Sanchez pitched a bullpen session here at the Joe this afternoon, and Josh Johnson threw a BP session in Jupiter.

-- Here are tonight's starting lineups:

Marlins: Amezaga CF; Hermida RF; Ramirez SS; Jacobs 1B; Cantu 3B; Uggla 2B; Gonzalez LF; Rabelo C; Hendrickson P

Padres: Giles RF; Iguchi 2B; Gonzalez 1B; Kouzmanoff 3B; Greene SS; Hairston CF; Huber LF; Morton C; Germano P

-- Marlins new look lineup kicking it old school from the start. Alfredo leads off with a double to center, scores on single and E9 off bat of Hermida. In second inning, Uggla (batting sixth instead of second) slams on into the club seats in left. In the second, Marlins up 2-0...

-- Good news for horse racing fans: You can bet the Kentucky Derby tomorrow, only catch is you can't do it at Calder. Because of a continued dispute with the Florida Horsemen, Calder cannot send its signal out of state (aside to New York) for wagering purposes. On the flip side, Kentucky's horsemen aren't allowing its signal to go to Calder (ironic, since Churchill Downs owns Calder).

You can bet the entire Derby Day card at Gulfstream tomorrow (see you there) or bet only the 134th Run for the Roses at Dania Jai-Alai or Pompano Park. Happy plunging!

-- Aside from dogs, should be quite a few fans up from the Keys tonight to root on Key West High grad Khalil Greene of the Padres. Greene is in his sixth season with the Pads after graduating from Clemson. And he draws a striking resemblance to a young Sean Penn. If they do a prequel -- or a remake of  Fast Times at Ridgemont High -- Khalil will get a call to play Spicoli. Compare, contrast and Aloha, Mr. Hand: Spicoli Khalil

 

World Championships -- Updated with Team USA Info

DwyanewadeAnyone out there interested in these? Being held in Canada this summer, the worlds were expected to drum up much more interest in North America than in years past.

But is there any interest?

The Panthers have six players -- well, seven if you count Branislav Mezei -- representing five different countries in these games. They kicked off today with Team Canada (with Jay Bouwmeester) dropping Slovenia 5-1.

I plan on talking here about the games because I do have a slight interest in these games. Figure it will grow when they get closer to crowning a champion. Thoughts?

-- The U.S. entry (with Craig Anderson in goal and David Booth flying up the left wing) played Latvia on Friday night, sporting retro jerseys from 1960 design ( I dig 'em). Boston's Tim Thomas got the start over Anderson as the USAers trounced Latvia 4-0.

Dustin Brown, Patrick 'Miami' Kane, Zach Parise and Patrick O'Sullivan all scored for the Americans (not the Amer-I-Can'ts) on Friday night.

Willingham on DL

Joshwillingham

Marlins left fielder Josh Willingham was placed on the 15 day disabled list on Friday afternoon, with Brett Carroll recalled from Triple A Albuquerque.

Willingham hasn’t played since Sunday in Milwaukee because of a sore lower back. Willingham has been placed on the DL retroactive to Monday, so if his back feels better, he could return May 13 in Cincinnati.

“It’s one of those things,’’ manager Fredi Gonzalez said prior to Friday’s game at Dolphin Stadium against San Diego. “We couldn’t play short so it was a decision we had to make. If everything goes well, he only misses 10 games.’’

Willingham had been tearing it up for the Marlins, leading the team with a .341 batting average. Willingham’s six homers and 16 RBI both rank third on the team.

Luis Gonzalez once again filled in for Willingham in left field on Friday, although Fredi Gonzalez said Carroll was going to see some playing time in the coming days.

Carroll spent four days with the Marlins from April 1-5, going 1 for 8 with a triple. With the Albuquerque Isotopes of the Pacific Coast League, Carroll has been exceptional, hitting .418 in 18 games with nine home runs and 23 RBI.

Carroll was traveling to South Florida after getting the call and was expected to be at Dolphin Stadium in time for Friday’s game.

(*) With Willingham out, Fredi Gonzalez is going to try some new things, moving shortstop Hanley Ramirez to third in the order. Ramirez has been leading off. Gonzalez says the Marlins are going to try different players out in the leadoff slot, adding Cody Ross may get some more playing time and hit in that position.

“The timing is right to move Ramirez into the three hole,’’ Gonzalez said. “Having [Mike] Jacobs back gives him a little protection there.’’

Second baseman Dan Uggla is also moving, going from second in the lineup to sixth. “He can just go out there and swing the bat,’’ Gonzalez said.  

Here Come the Wings

WingswinYou figured the Colorado Avalanche were going to come out and give Detroit their money's worth in Thursday's Game 4 didn't you? The Wings led the series 3-0, and the Avs had one chance to extend their season.

For a while, it looked like they might. Detroit led 1-0 before the Avs tied it.

Then things got out of control. The Wings scored two more before the end of the first to lead 3-1 at the break, then scored five more before rolling their rivals and leaving Denver on a mile-high roll with an 8-2 win.

On the flip side of the Avs collapse, you have the Rangers. In a similar situation, the Rangers responded by beating the Pens 3-0 to live at least another day. The Pens get to end the deal Sunday at the igloo (I'll be covering the Marlins, but you can watch on NBC-6), and the thought here is they will.

But at least the Rangers showed us a little something, no? The Avs looked beaten and broken, and the Wings looked very championship like. They weren't the best team in the game all season for nothin' folks.

The Wings now get to go back to Motown and rest up a bit, watching tonight's game from San Jose with interest. Got to think the Wings are rooting for the Sharks to win tonight and then force a sixth game in Dallas, one more game meaning a few days fewer days off for the red-hot Stars.

Course, the Stars have won eight of their past nine in San Jose, so things are looking good for them.

Redwingsring You think the Wings have what it takes to win it all? As always, comments are more than welcomed.

Don't you think the league -- and especially the suits at NBC -- would love a Detroit/Pittsburgh finale? Or, if a miracle happens, the Wings-Rangers?

Tomorrow's Montreal-Flyers tilt looms large, and the Habs are going back to Carey Price in net. Coach Guy Charbonneau told the CP that Price -- benched for Montreal's eventual Game 4 loss in Philly -- "deserves a second shot.''

Carbonneau adds "he had time to calm down and refocus and get ready for another long stretch.'' Don't know about this one, you have to think Price's confidence is shot right now. Yet he came back from some pretty bad outings in the Boston series and won that one, one of the reasons I picked to Habs to win this series as well. I thought surviving that experience was only going to make him stronger. We'll see.