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31
Dec

Lemieux Holds Court

By: Mike Asti
Mario Lemieux talks Winter Classic, state of the league, how he would do in current NHL, Sid, Ovie, and even the weather.

Video: Mario Lemieux talks about his comeback, Sid and Ovie from Greg Wyshynski on Vimeo.

30
Dec

Get Well Soon Slugger

By: Mike Asti
One of baseballs majestic legends received some unfortunate news, Harmon Killebrew has been diagnosed with esophageal cancer. Killebrew, 74, was a member of Cooperstown’s class of 1984. He spent 22 MLB seasons with the Kansas City Royals, Washington Senators and the Minnesota Twins, he downs a Twin’s cap on his Hall of Fame plaque. During his remarkable and often underrated career Harmon Killebrew clipped a mediocre .256 but blasted 573 home runs along with 1,584 career RBI. Arguably the greatest Twin ever, Killebrew earned 13 All-Star selections, the 1969 AL MVP, and led the Twin franchise to its first World Series appearance since the organization was still in DC and the Senators reached the Fall Classic in 1933. His team fell to the Dodgers in his first and only World Series, however, Killebrew remained an adviser to the organization even after his playing days helping to bring in the next Twins hero, Kirby Puckett who captained Minnesota to 2 championships, 1987 and 1991.
When asked about his disease, the warrior in Killebrew came out, “I have begun preparing for what is perhaps the most difficult battle of my life.” He understands the seriousness of this diagnosis yet remains in good spirits and confident, “while my condition is very serious, I have confidence in my doctors and the medical staff, and I anticipate a full recovery.”
Never count out an icon.
28
Dec

Ozzy Finally Knocks Out #400!

By: Mike Asti

Detroit Red Wings goaltender Chris Osgood picked up his 400th career victory after an overtime win over his arch rival, the Colorado Avalanche. He is now the 10th goalie in NHL history to reach this milestone. Chris Osgood just went from knocking on the door to the Hall of Fame to kicking it down with full force! The Red Wing great now holds an overall career record of 400 – 216 – 95, a 905 save percentage (.916 in playoffs), a 2.49 GAA (2.09 in playoffs), and what should have been a Vezina trophy from 1995 (39-6-5, .911, 2.16) over 17 seasons with Detroit, St. Louis, and the New York Islanders. On top of all his success individually Ozzy has been apart of 5 teams, all with Detroit, to reach the Stanley Cup Finals and 3 to hoist sports oldest trophy (2 as a starter). He may not be in the class of Hasek, Roy (did beat his ass though), and Brodeur, however, Chris Osgood based on the criteria absolutely belongs in the hockey Hall of Fame. It wasn’t always pretty but he more often then not got the job done and usually with the Hockeytown pressure to do so.

I can not wait for this guy to retire just so I can write up a retrospective and fully win this debate. Here are my past retrospectives from a couple other recent retired hockey legends: A King Among Legends; The Rob Blake Story.  &  From Devil To Duck, Always A Champion, The Scott Niedermayer Story.

22
Dec

Sports Best Streaks!

By: Mike Asti

Due to all the attention surrounding record sports steaks over the past few weeks I figured it was time for BDL to put together a list of the best individual and team streaks of all time. Every one of these streaks is very impressive to say the least and certainly hold its place in time. I am only including streaks set either by a team, franchise, or player, streaks accomplished in individual sports have not been made apart of this list. I mostly eliminated the individual sport streaks such as Byron Nelson’s 11 consecutive PGA Tour victories to cut this down. I also figured the team sports make the most sense since this blog covers NFL, NBA, MLB, and the NHL with some college sprinkled in. These are in no particular order. The point of this post is to not rank these great streak just simply to reflect and place the proper perspective on them.

UCONN Women 90 Consecutive Wins

I know this is the new team record and of course it would be outrageous to do this list leaving it off but i just see all the others as more remarkable. In no way am I trying to take anything away from this amazing streak though. If anyone questions that check Alex Wiederspiel and my all decade list we made about a year ago, UCONN women are at the top. During this streak this group of gals decimated their opponents leaving them each with talk of moral wins for even competing. The Huskie’s only won by single digits twice and this win streak span almost 3 seasons. This was done in a sport that has been dominated by about 8 teams over the last 20 or so years, however, getting up every day knowing you are far and away the best, are going to win, and then actually pick up the victory is outstanding. This current record setting steak almost happened in the early 2000’s when Geno’s squad won 70 consecutive games until finally losing in 2003.

Streak MVP: Maya Moore & Geno Auriemma
Read more »

19
Dec

What the…?

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I was really excited to work on and complete my NBA Rivalry Index, but it had to be interrupted for this. I don’t believe I have ever seen a team completely remodel their team all at once, mid-season and to boot it’s a team thats made two consecutive EC Finals appearance and one Finals appearances. If you haven’t heard, the Orlando Magic sent 4 of their players (2 starters) packing. Mikael Peitrus, Marcin Gortat, and Vince Carter were traded to Phoenix in exchange for Earl Clark, Hedo Turkoglu, and Jason Richardson, while Rashard Lewis was sent to Washington for Gilbert Arenas.

Honestly, I like this move. Sure it’s a gamble, but what they were doing wasn’t working. As good as Orlando has been, the ultimate goal for a franchise is the NBA title and they weren’t good enough to do that. So they kept their two best players, and switched up the supporting cast. Clearly they wanted to keep their strong 3-point game. This is going to make them faster and more athletic. Stan Van Gundy said that Jameer Nelson isn’t losing his starting job. Even if Arenas comes off the bench I agree with that decision. You have to have at least some continuity when you remodel your team. If  they want to put their five best players out there then they could bench Quentin Richardson and have J-Rich at the 3, Hedo at the 4 then Arenas and Nelson in the back court, but then that puts a heavy reliance on Howard for their down low responsibilities. I think they should start Arenas, Nelson, Turkoglu Bass and Howard. J-Rich can provide a spark off the bench, like a more athletic Manu. These blockbuster trades are going to change Orlando position in the title hunt, for better or for worse.

19
Dec

NBA Rivalry Index: Western Conference.

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Steve Nash and Robert Horry get into a confrontation after Horrry checked Nash in the 2007 WC Semifinals


In light of the Knicks-Celtics rivalry debate, I decided to make an NBA rivalry index. I divided Eastern Conference, Western Conference and Interconference rivalries into 3 categories. These categories are circumstantial and are certainly not set in stone. A  rivalry can change their status in as little as one season.

Active: Still fierce, and for the most part their meetings have a great deal of significance. Usually many or all of the rivalry’s most significant constituents are still playing.

On Hiatus: Was once fierce and significant, but has fizzled out generally due to one or both teams declining. These rivalries have either died out and been revived in the past or have the potential to be revived. Might still have some of the players who began the rivalry or had revived it before.

Defunct: Was once significant but now completely dead, with little to no prospect of revival. None of the rivaly’s significant players are playing for one or both of the teams.

This is a three-part post. Today will be the Western Conference rivalries. Tomorrow I will be posting the Eastern Conference, followed by the Interconference rivalries. 

Active

Derek Fisher hits a buzzer beater with .04 seconds left to eliminate the Spurs in 2004


Los Angeles Lakers v. San Antonio Spurs- The debate between best team of the last decade has been between L.A. and San Antonio. They account for 9 of the 12 championships of the post-Jordan Era and 2006 was the only year either the Spurs or Lakers did not appear in the Finals. They have met in the play-offs 5 times, with L.A. leading 3-2 their last meeting was the 2008 Conference Finals with the Lakers winning in 5, and this season another play-off encounter is probable.

Kobe Bryant hits a buzzer beater in overtime to sink the Suns and tie the series.

Los Angeles Lakers v. Phoenix Suns- This rivalry began in 2006 when Kobe Bryant in his best individual season carried the Lakers through a hard fought seven games before bowing out to the heavily favored suns. They would meet again the following year but the Suns would easily dispose of them. Kobe finally exacted his revenge in last seasons Conference Finals.

The aftermath of Horry and Nash’s confrontation

San Antonio Spurs v. Phoenix Suns- This is one of the more intense rivalries over the last decade even though it was totally one sided in the Spurs favor until the Suns swept them in the second round last season. Win or lose, the Spurs always manage to get a good shot at Steve Nash. 

Dirk Nowitzski and Tim Duncan are two of the greatest power forwards of all time and squared off in the play-offs on five separate occasions.


San Antonio Spurs v. Dallas Mavericks- During the mid-2000s these two Texas titans would battle it out for Western Conference Supremacy, the Spurs having the 3-2 lead in play-off series and most recently the 2. seeded Mavericks were upset by the 7th seeded Spurs in the first round.

Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzski sign with Dalls in 1998

Dallas Mavericks v. Phoenix Suns- These rivalry was born when Steve Nash was essentially discarded by the Mavs and was traded to the Suns. Phoenix went on to win 61 games and Nash won his first of two MVP trophies. Their first meeting Nash made sure the Mavericks paid for their mistake, eliminating them with a 39 point Game 6 performance. The following season they would meet in the WC Finals, this time Dallas beat the Amare-less Suns in route to the NBA Finals.

On Hiatus


Kobe’s alley-oop to Shaq in Game 7 of the 2000 WC Finals is the signature play of their dynasty.

Los Angeles Lakers v. Portland Trail Blazers- This was probably the fiercest rivalry of the early 2000s. It began in 2000 when Portland blew a 15 point lead in the 4th quarter in Game 7 of the WC Finals. This was a completely one sided rivalry but it was inflamed by the Blazers “bad boys” persona with personalities such as Rasheed Wallace and Ruben Patterson, the self proclaimed “Kobe Stopper” who was proclaimed by the Judicial system to be a sex offender. The Blazers have the talent to revive this rivalry in the final years of Kobe’s dynasty, provided they don’t rely on Greg Oden to stop Pau.

“I think Jesus would have trouble covering him.”-George Karl


Los Angeles Lakers v. Denver Nuggets- The Lakers and Nuggets met in the play-offs a few times in the 1980s including a WC Finals match-up in 1985, the Lakers always getting the best of Alex English and the Denver Nuggets. The rivalry was renewed for a single season in 2009 when Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony went head-to-head, unfortunately for the Nuggets, Kobe Bryant always wins head-to-head match ups. After the effort by Denver in 2009 many thought they would challenge and even beat the Lakers. If Melo stays this rivalry could be renewed, but the Nuggets are slipping and Melo is all but signed to New York in 2011.

Hakeem Olajuwon and David Robinson were the ’94 and ’95 MVPs and competed for bragging rights as the top center in the West.


San Antonio Spurs v. Houston Rockets- The most notable series of this rivalry is when David Robinson and Hakeem Olajuwon met in the 1995 WC Finals. The lower seeded Rockets defeated the Spurs in 6 games en route to their second NBA title. In 2004 Tracy McGrady scored 13 points in 35 seconds capped-off by a buzzer beating 3 to snap the Spurs 8 game winning streak against Houston. The only reason this rivalry is on a hiatus and not defunct is because of their proximity. It is known as the I-10 rivalry, and although they rarely play in a play-off series, they always play for state pride.

Defunct

Stockton’s buzzer-beating 3 in Game 6 of the WC Finals lifted the Jazz to their first of two Finals appearances.


Utah Jazz v. Houston Rockets- This feud was born in the 1985, the rookie season of Utah’s John Stockton and Houston’s Hakeem Olajuwon. They met 5 times from 1985-1998. Although Utah won 3 of the 5 play-off series, it can be argued Houston won the series overall considering their two wins (’94 and ’95) allowed them to win back-to-back titles during the Jordan-retirement window. Many believe the rivalry was renewed in 2007-2008, but it wasn’t. The rivalry was between the Stockton-Malone Jazz, and the Olajuwon Rockets, and those players have been retired and enshrined in Springfield.

The 2002 Kings were the greatest threat to the Kobe-Shaq dynasty.


Los Angeles Lakers v. Sacramento Kings- Although the Lakers easily disposed of the Kings 2000 and 2001, the 2002 WC Finals went 7 games and is regarded as one of the greatest play-off series of all time. The Lakers eventually winning Game 7 in overtime at Arco Arena . After this series the Kings fell into a decline and their key players (Webber, Divac, Turkoglu, Bibby, Peja) left Sacromento one-by-one.

17
Dec

Knicks vs Celtics answer lingering questions.

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It was as good as a regular season could get last night, the Knicks tried to make a statement while the Celtics were about .02 seconds away from having their streak snapped. The game was a little over-hyped to begin with, but it still answered some pretty important questions lingering in the minds of Boston and NY fans alike.


1. Is Amare Stoudemire a feasible MVP candidate?


Although it may seem like he is, if you reed between the lines you’ll see at this point, he is not in serious contention for MVP. The Knicks are currently are tied for 5th place in the East with Atlanta, since the Hawks beat them, they currently own the tie breaker. That means that the Knicks are 6th in the inferior Eastern Conference. That is not sufficient for the MVP this season, this is a very competitive season and there are too many players to be considered for the award. Dirk Nowitizski has the Mavs winning 10 of their last 11, they are 2nd in the West and they have beaten some formidable opponents (such as Boston). Dwight Howard is in serious contention based on his numbers alone, 20-12-2blks and still the greatest defensive presence in the league. I like Derrick Rose for the MVP too, he’s top 5 in scoring top 10 in assists and the Bulls are among the East elite. Sorry, Amare but unless you can get the Knicks well above 50 wins and/or a top 3-4 seed for the play-offs, you will not be the MVP.


2. Are the Knicks a legitimate threat to the Celtics to win the Atlantic Division or maybe even the Eastern Conference?


Not at all. They don’t have the depth, talent or experience to beat Boston in any series right now. Last night for most of the 4th quarter the Knicks were fighting just to hold off the C’s and preserve their lead. They were fired up at home and tried to make a statement. Don’t expect every Celtics-Knicks to be like last night, at least not until Melo comes. Like I said they are 6th in the East, during their winning streak the only good teams they beat were Denver and New Orleans. At best, they can pull off a first round upset, but not against the Celtics. One of my friends, said the Knicks scared him. Boston fans, the Knicks should not scare you. Chicago should scare the shit out of you, if not this season, then in seasons to come.


3. Is Celtics v. Knicks a rivalry?


If you even have question whether it is a rivalry or not, it is not a rivalry. Nobody is questioning if Celtics-Lakers, Spurs-Suns and Lakers-Spurs is a rivalry. The idea of the Knicks and Celtics being rivals is based on   classic rivalries between Boston and New York in other sports. Specifically football and baseball. The Patriots and Jets are bitter rivals that compete each year for the AFC East, and of course, the most intense rivalry in all of professional sports, the Red Sox and Yankees. While people may perceive the Celts and Knicks as rivals, truth is, the 70’s (post-Russell Era) is the only decade where both teams have been contenders at the same time. 


They met three times in the play-offs during that era in 1969, 1972 and 1973, Boston winning the first New York winning the last two.I consider myself a basketball historian but unfortunately being born in ’89 I was brought up during the Jordan era so I cannot speak of this rivalry empirically (sometimes Larry and Magic make me wish I was born in 1979). So I asked my father if he had ever considered New York and Boston basketball rivalries. He shook his head and replies “Nahh, L.A. and Detroit, those were the big ones.” So Knicks and Celtics at the most, were a rival of circumstance.This is analogous to the Nets-Celtics rivalry in the early 2000’s when Jason Kidd and the Nets passed through the Celtics twice on their way to consecutive Finals appearances. When and if the Knicks get Melo and are potential contenders, they could be “rivals” but once again, it will be circumstantial.


So for the teams, no this absolutely is not a rivalry there have been younger rivalries of far greater historical significance such as the Lakers-Spurs, or Detriot-Boston . For the cities of Boston and New York, yes it absolutely is a rivalry Boston and New York are the major metropolitan cities in Northeast and are arguably the two most successful sports markets as well.


Tomorrow, I will be posting notable NBA rivalries, stay tuned.

14
Dec

Am I the only person still unimpressed with Miami?

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This isn’t about being a LeBron or Miami Heat hater (which I am). I’m not not convinced Miami is the real deal yet. You shouldn’t be convinced either. I know, they have won 9 straight, and all of the “experts” who picked them to win are now trying to validate their credibility by playing their winning streak up. This happens in sports constantly, people neglect to read between the lines. Miami’s winning streak is comprised of beating, Washington, Detroit, Cleveland, Atlanta, Milwaukee, Utah, Golden State, Sacromento, and New Orleans.

The teams italicized are the ones that have winning records, only 3, the rest are under .500. The most impressive win is Utah, but people are forgetting how badly Millsap embarrassed them during their first meeting. New Orleans beat them before and has been spiraling into mediocrity and Atlanta’s decent but they are ultimately pretenders. They are 1-3 against teams that are currently holding a top 3 seed (lost to Dallas, Boston twice, split with Orlando). Now they are going to roll over Cleveland then play New York. I find this match-up to be intriguing not because it is reigniting an old rivalry but because the Knicks are also on a winning streak comprised of beating a lot of shitty teams. Speaking of which, I was just thinking of how entertaining New York would be if LeBron went there. Amare and LeBron would be such and explosive front court, and a player with his athletic prowess running D’Antoni’s 10 second shot clock offense would be so fun to watch…but I digress.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s possible Miami has finally found their stride, but they really haven’t proven anything yet.

5
Dec

National Championship Matchup Set!

By: Mike Asti
V.S.

2
Dec

Derek Jeter V.S. the New York Yankees

By: Mike Asti

I was initially going to re-cap the MLB awards handed out the last couple weeks, however, I then realized for the first time in a while I agreed with every single one so that would be pointless. Instead of doing that, I want to buzz-saw my thoughts on the most talked about hot stove news to date, the Jeter / Yankee negotiations. The Yankee brass and their most prized possession since Mickey Mantle are in the midst of a stand still when trying to work out a new deal for the pine stripped icon. As it stands right now, Derek Jeter is a free agent and for the first time in his career he does not have the ball fully in his court in terms of inking out a new deal.

New York management is attempting to obtain their legend without paying for past success and hoping to not get burned in the future with a contract that looks absurd based on current production. Jeter on the other hand, realizes the horrible pr hit the Yanks would take if he did not return and the fact that he brings much more to the table then just his glove and bat, his presence in the lineup alone rolls in money as well as brings more leadership and experience than every other team can only dream of.  While both sides make fair points anytime this is discussed by the so called “experts” many important points seem to be missing, here are the ones I find the most necessary to make known.

Buzz-saw points that need to considered in terms of the next Jeter contract:

- No, Jeter is not worth 20 million per season anymore (even in Yankee dollars).
– Yes, “The Captain” had his worst offensive year since his rookie season in 2010 (.270, 10 HR, 67 RBI).
– One bad year should not be reason to begin Jeter bashing.
– The six years before this season Derek Jeter hit .300 or better including a .334 clip in 2009.
– Derek Jeter is 74 hits away from 3,000 making him the only player in history to record 3,000 hits with the New York Yankees.
– The New York Yankees need Derek Jeter just as much as Derek Jeter needs them at this point.
– Do not jump the gun and believe everything you read or hear.
Jeter’s agent denies report his client is looking for a 6 year deal.
– It would be totally ASININE (Thanks Aaron Boone) if the main issue Yanks brass has right now is wanting 3 years and Jeter camp is seeking 4.
– I still see no way Jeter ever plays anywhere but New York, I’m aware people may have felt that way about Favre in Green Bay at one point but seriously #2 is different.
– The reported Yankee “plan B” (without Jeter) would NOT to be to sign another star SS. It is believed they will give the gig to Eduardo Nunez. You may ask who the hell is Eduardo Nunez (current utility infielder)….exactly!
– A declining Jeter production wise is still much better then Nunez at any age.
– The New York Yankees are always in win now mode and are NOT a better team for next season without Derek Jeter.
– Jeter’s 2010 numbers are still better then about 80% of the short stops in all of MLB.
– A compromise should in some way be able to be met, especially with how much this means to the franchise.
– This team will contend as always and as long as they win Jeter’s production or lack there of will not be an issue at all.

If by some crazy ass turn of events Derek Jeter does not return to the “Evil Empire” I truly hope that at some point in the future when the Yankees reach out for him to have a farewell tour back in the Bronx before ending his career, he utters this once famous phrase..I got two words for ya, FUCK YOU!

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