Monday, April 30, 2012

NFL Draft Recap: Day 2 and 3

The Commissioner really enjoying those bear-hugs...

Recapping the Day 2 and 3 of the NFL Draft this past weekend. Now, after an entertaining Round 1 on last Thursday night in which their were multiple trades from teams either trading back or trading up, day 2 and 3 provides you with guys that were successful in college, but games might have a weakness or two for the transition into the NFL. Usually Round 2-7, you are drafting for need (of position) and trying to find the best value in that position. Some of these guys in the later rounds could range from becoming a steal to being on the teams practice squad. If you won't one of the 253 players drafted, you have the opportunity to become a "undrafted free agent" and sign with any of the 32 teams in the NFL, that's if they want you. So lets take a look at some notable draft picks from Rounds 2 thru 7 and some UFA players.

Kiper's 2012 Draft Grades

NHL Playoffs Week #4: "The Hockey Games"

May the odds ever be in your favor...
This week continues the early to mid round games of the Conference Semi-Finals in the East and West.  While it's too early to write off anyone at this point, here's a look at the current standings:

In the East:
#1 NY Rangers lead the #7 Capitals 1-0
The Rangers seemed to take game 1 with ease at 3-1.  Caps goalie Holtby seem bothered by the dim lighting at Madison Square Garden.  Game 2 is tonight as the Rangers look to close the door as soon as possible.  Is Alex Ovechkin relevant anymore?

#5 Flyers lead #6 Devils 1-0
After a week off, the Flyers came out with 0 shots in the first 10 minutes.  Bryzgalov, while winning, still gives up some soft goals.  If he clamps down, the Flyers breeze through this series.  If not, like game 1, we may see some more overtime games in which Marty Brodeur will whine.

SUMMARY - These series could be over quick if the Caps don't find their offensive prowess of year's past and the Flyers get above average goaltending from their netminder.

In the West:
#2 Blues trail #8 Kings 1-0
The Kings stole one here.  Jon Quick, even though I praised him constantly, can't win this series by himself...or can he?!  Like the Canucks before them, the Blues don't want to lose both at home.  Game 2 is also tonight.  The Blues need to score and stay out of the penalty box.

#3 Coyotes lead #4 Predators 2-0
The only series to have played two games thus far has been the biggest surprise.  Phoenix is the upper seed but Nashville had nearly 10 more points in the regular season.  Preds goalie Pekka Rinne has already given up more goals in 2 games than he did all first round!  Phoenix is the Cinderella team of the playoffs thus far...

SUMMARY - The Blues better be careful of going down 2-0 at home whereas the Predators need to take care of business at home to make sure they don't fall down 3-0.

The 118th Penn Relays

The Penn Relays is the oldest and longest running track & field competition in the U.S.  It has been held annually since 1895!  Over the course of the 3 day meet, attendance usually tops over 100,000 and on Saturday, it's been known, especially in the last couple years, to top 50,000 spectators.

This year the crowd was not disappointed.  Even though the forecast Saturday was kind of dreary and a bit chilly, the 6 USA vs. The World events, 4x100 (Men and Women), 4x400 (Men and Women), Sprint Medley (Women) and Distance Medley (Men) all were championed by the red, white, and blue.

As the first outdoor preview for many of our runners, it was a great start to hopefully a great finish in London.  In fact, the USA Track team has set a goal of 30 medals to attain in London.  As stud sprinter Lashawn Merritt  said,
"London, here we come."
Highlights included meet records set by the women's 4x1 and 4x4 squads as well as a homestretch finish that saw Merritt take down the Bahamas in the final leg of the 4x400.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Boomer's NBA Slam Dunk Playoff Preview

Win or Go Home

Aww, yes the time of year we cheer for any team, other than the one down in South Beach (BEAT THE HEAT!). What some people like to call the "2nd season", the NBA Playoffs have arrived, and beginning this weekend to MID-JUNE, this years edition of the NBA playoffs has the makings of being one of the best of all-time. Some storylines to keep an eye on, whats the status of Derek Rose's health, will the Heat be able to finish the job this time, are the Spurs and Celtics down to their final run with their current rosters, will the Mavs repeat, are the Thunder ready for the "bright lights", can Melo and the Knicks shock the world, and does Kobe will the Lakers to another NBA championship and win his 6th ring (tying him with Michael Jordan). All in all, it should be a great couple of months, after we had such a rapid pace 66-game season since Christmas, what do the playoffs have in story for basketball fans all over the world?

The Columbus Blue Jackets All-Star Logo and the IIHF World Championships

Today at noon, the Columbus Blue Jackets unveiled the 2013 NHL All-Star Game logo for next year's game.  
Initial reaction?

NFL Round 1 Draft Rewind - Gainer wins!

Last night was the ACTUAL first round of the NFL Draft.  No more mocks, no more having to listen to butt buddies Mel Kiper and Todd McShay analyze everything wrong, no more lame chatter about guys who've never taken a snap.

Seriously, I want their jobs because it's literally just
Based on our mock from last week, you'll notice Boomer and I got some right, most wrong! I won't dance around, here are picks 1-32 and how we did based on our mock and whether we like the picks after the jump...

Because it's the Cup - Round 2 Begins TONIGHT!

Are there 4 worst teams in the East left for a Pens fan?? Go Western Conference!
After three epic game 7's, the first round is in the books but let's take a look back on how we got to this point this week.  Game 7s are special.  Throw home ice advantage out the window (not that it matters anyway) and it's just 2 teams batting to play another day or go home.

Wednesday night in Boston the defending champs took on the feisty Washington Capitals.  Tim Thomas versus Braden Holtby has been the match up to watch all series and this one did not disappoint either.  Every game here was decided by one goal including this overtime winner by the Caps' Joel Ward to take the series:

I won't get into the ridiculous racial tweets from Boston fans about Joel Ward, who's black, scoring the game winner.  All I will say is it is embarrassing.  It doesn't represent the city or team well and those losers should get a life.  Pros and cons of the Internet right?

Last night there were another two epic finishes to hard fought series.  The Rangers taking the series after being down 3-2 and winning the final 2 games over Ottawa and down in South Beach last night the Florida Panthers battled back from a 2 goal deficit to tie the game in regulation and playing the Devils hard going into the 2nd overtime! Unfortunately it was not enough as rookie Henrique ended it with this:
I was really impressed with Florida's fan base last night.  They've been bad a lot of years and they showed last night if the team is competitive, they can be a VERY loud building.  The whole crowd stood the entire OT periods and the end of the third.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

From Ronald William Artest, Jr. to Metta World Peace

Let's be serious for a second here.  Ron Artest/Metta World Peace is quite honestly one of the most fascinating athletes and personalities that has ever played professional sports.  We have seen many athletes come and go being labeled as selfish, show-boaters, thugs, overrated, over-hyped, illiterate, embarrassing, and flat out confusing.  While obviously not all of the above, Metta World Peace (this alone!) brings a unique flavor to the meaning of living life.  From the Malice at the Palace to his most recent elbow to OKC's James Harden, World Peace has spent his basketball career trying to find the balance of being a great player and, frankly, balancing his mind.

Why so serious?!
Drafted #16 overall in 1999 by the Bulls out of St. John's, the former Ron Artest had a rather normal first couple of seasons.  He even made the second team All-Rookie squad.  Midway through his third season, he was traded to the Pacers in a rather large trade involving him, Ron Mercer, Brad Miller, and Kevin Ollie for Jalen Rose, Travis Best, Norman Richardson and a pick.  Artest was a very serviceable player and his second full season with Indiana, he made the All-Star as a reserve and won the 2004 Defensive Player of the Year while averaging 18+ points a game.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Boomer's Wall of Fame Wednesday

After inducting a childhood favorite and a legendary coach on and off the court last week, Boomer is back to hand out two more inductions for Boomer's Wall of Fame Wednesday. This week Boomer honors another childhood favorite, this one from the hardwood floors of the basketball court in basketball arenas all over. As for the coach being honored this week, I take a look back at one of the greatest of all-time.

On to the second player enshrined into Boomer's Wall of Fame....another Boomer childhood favorite...Shaquille O'Neal.

              Shaquille O'Neal
Like Griffey, Jr. from a week ago, I fell in love with the guy they called, "Shaq". From having a Orlando Magic #32 jersey, to the poster hanging up in my room, to the Christmas I got the #34 Lakers jersey when he made the move to Los Angeles. I don't know what it was, but I loved Shaq, and still do to this day. Coming out of LSU as a thin 7' giant, Shaq was drafted #1 overall by the Orlando Magic in the 1992 NBA Draft. He played four seasons in the city of "Disney", leading the Magic to the 1995 NBA Finals, where they were swept by the Houston Rockets. After the following year, where they were swept out of the playoffs by the Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference Finals, Shaq became a free agent. He landed in "Hollywood", signing with the Lakers and teaming up with Kobe Bryant, where they would win three straight NBA Championships together (2000-2002), with Shaq winning the NBA MVP in 2000 as well as all three NBA Finals MVP's. After a bad break-up with the Lakers/Kobe, Shaq was traded to the Miami Heat and in 2006, he teamed up with another young shooting guard (D. Wade), to win the NBA Championship, his fourth in his career. After a stint in Phoenix, with Steve Nash and the run-and-gun Suns, Shaq was again traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers. He spent one injury-prone season with LeBron James and the Cavs, as Shaq definitely was not the Shaq of younger years. He ended his 19-year career in Boston, with the Celtics in 2010-11. Shaq ranks 6th on the all-time list in points scored (28, 596), and clearly if he could of avoided some injuries and made just a couple more free throws (haha) he probably would be the all-time leading scorer. Shaq has contributed a lot of his life off and on the court doing various career opportunities other then basketball and multiple charities. With that it's my honor to induct Shaquille O'Neal into Boomer's Wall of Fame.

Best 1-2 Punch of all-time....

Click below to find out what coach made it up on "Boomer's Wall of Fame"

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Podcast #4 - NFL Draft Edition

After a tiny break, Boomer and Gainer are back this week previewing the first round of the NFL Draft coming up this Thursday night on ESPN.  Get all your inside info here on who teams will be thinking about from pick #1 (duh!) to pick #32 (Giants suck).

Boomer's Diamond Notes: The Last Week in April

Happy 100th Birthday, Fenway Park, I'll see you someday, hopefully...

The final full week of the first month (April) is here already, and we take a look back at the first three weeks so far. Ozzie Guillen served a 5-game suspension already after comments he made about Fidel Castro. The Marlins have a new stadium Marlin Park to call home with a pricy roster have begun the season  at 7-8. Prince Fielder has only two HR's for his new team the Detroit Tigers, were as Albert Pujols is still in search for his first one of the year. We celebrate the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park up in Boston, while new skipper Bobby Valentine is finding it hard to find friends so far in Beantown. We've seen the 1st perfect game of the season, pitched by Chicago White Sox starter Philip Humber vs. the Seattle Mariners. Seriously, has there been an uglier way to finish a perfect game then this latest one? 3-2 count, 2 outs, Bottom of the 9th. Just the whole pass ball, checking your swing on clearly ball four that would of ruin the perfect game, but it is what it is. As we itch towards the month of May, we will see if hot starts by the Texas Rangers (13-4), Washington Nationals (12-4), and LA Dodgers (13-4) continue, while the Red Sox (5-10), Angels (6-10) and Phillies (7-10) try and turn slow starts around.

Monday, April 23, 2012

NHL Playoffs Week 3 - First Round Coming to a Close

Welp Bottom Dwellers, half of the 8 series are in the bag including my Pens losing a heart breaker in game 6.  Meanwhile the other half will finish up this week.  Two more could wrap up tonight, a third tomorrow, and the fourth definitely Wednesday.  It won't go any longer than Thursday.

The Good:  TV ratings.  At an all time high for non-Stanley Cup finals games and it's only the first round!

The Bad:  Who would have guessed the first four teams to be eliminated would be (in order) - Detroit, San Jose, Pittsburgh, and Vancouver? These four are yearly Stanley Cup favorites.  It goes to show you how much parity exists in the league today.

The Ugly:  After the Marian Hossa hit laid by Raffi Torres of Phoenix, the NHL came down hard on the guy with a 25 game suspension.  This will continue as long as the Coyotes are in the playoffs and if it doesn't, it will carry into the regular season next year.  Which, by the way, is a forfeiture of over $20,000 a game.  If you think that's bad, check out this elbow yesterday from Metta World Peace going Ron Artest on James Harden.  Just based on prior history alone and the fact Harden has a concussion, "Artest" should be gone for some time.  What a joke.

London Marathon - Difficulty and Disaster

The countdown to this summer's Olympics is at 95 Days!  This year's London Marathon was unique in both a positive and negative way.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

2012 NFL Draft: Boomer and Gainer's First Round Mock

The 2012 NFL Draft coverage begins Thursday night, April 26th at 8 PM on ESPN, Live from Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Coverage continues Friday night (April 27th, 7 PM) with Rounds 2 & 3, then wraps up Saturday afternoon (April 28th, Noon) with Rounds 4-7. The draft provides a glimpse for fans all over the league of what the future looks like for their favorite team. With countless Mock Drafts since January, Boomer and Gainer (who only puts down the top 10 and his thoughts here and there!) want to have their own say in how they see the 1st round play out of NFL Draft. Take a minute and check it out this post, and see where some of the big name players will be calling home next fall.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Boomer's Slam Dunk NBA Playoff Push: 3rd Edition

This 66-game shorten NBA season is coming to an end. The final weekend of the regular season and playoff seeding/positioning will be up for grabs in the remaining days of the regular season. This Thursday (April 26th), is the final night of the regular season, with the NBA Playoffs beginning on Saturday (April 28th). In this post I will highlight the update-to-date Conference Standings, let you in on who's getting what seed and who's going to grab the last couple remaining playoff seeds. Check back next week when I will provide you with a "juicy" NBA Playoff Preview of the First Round match-ups.

Friday, April 20, 2012

NHL Update - Elimination Weekend and Award Finalists!

It's crunch time in the first round of the 2012 NHL Playoffs.  5 of the 8 series are now within 1 potential game of ending over the weekend including all 4 Western Conference series.  Meanwhile, in the East, three of the series have become a mini best of 3 series while my Pens are staying alive...barely.

Quick note:  Just realized back on March 4th, I made my NHL playoff predictions.  Got 6 of the 8 right in the East (easy) but totally failed on the 2 spots up for grabs.  I had Buffalo and Tampa but Florida and Washington really stepped up.  Stupid Ovechkin.  In the West I'm very pleased to announce that I nailed the final 3 spots with San Jose, LA, and Phoenix.  However, I picked San Jose to finish 3rd, I was wrong and now they are paying for it!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Is the NHL Getting Out of Control?

Umm yeah.  You can't leave your feet and launch your body as a missile.  Hope Torres is gone for a long time.  And this is coming from someone who's not a Hossa fan.

In late 2004 and early 2005, there was no NHL season due to the lockout.  It was a dark time for the sport as no other 'top 4' league had cancelled an entire season.  Since then however, popularity and TV ratings along with attendance, merchandise sales, and overall awareness of the NHL has increased to all time high levels above even the Wayne Gretzky/Mario Lemieux 1990s decade.  With the addition of an NHL lankmark game that is the Winter Classic and the new NBC television contract, the league has positioned itself nicely with superstars Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, Jonathan Toews, Tim Thomas, and many many others becoming the faces of the new league so-to-speak.  

Every year in mid-April, the quest for Lord Stanley's Cup begins.  It's a grueling 2 month long second season for the 16 qualifying teams and the games are full of passion and hate.  Teams that would normally not hate each other become instant enemies during the course of a 7 game series.  Series last 2+ weeks and when it's only one team you are facing night in and night out, it only makes sense to develop a strong dislike of the other sweaters.  This rings true for fan bases as well, if not more so than the players and coaches.

Nevertheless, the NHL is in a trying time.  Over the past year and a half, many of the games best players have suffered concussions and head shots are a looming issue in the upcoming expiring CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) between the league and it's players' association in September.  Side note:  fingers crossed we don't have to cancel the entire season again...On top of this issue is the current state of illegal hits and fighting in the playoffs.  NHL head disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan (or Shana'ban') has been up to his knees, if not waist, in potential suspensions.  Here's a list of the ones so far:

Now you can probably YouTube all of these and argue some warrant MUCH longer suspensions.  The playoffs are tricky because outside of 4 games, teams are not guaranteed to play.  Arron Asham of the Pens was suspended for 4 games.  The Pens were down 3-0 when the decision was made.  The Pens could have lost last night and his suspension would technically have only been 1 game.  It's muddy water.  While 8 players listed seems like a lot, there are 3-4 players not even listed because they were just fined.  This list should easily be over 10 and growing.  We are only 1 week into the playoffs.  That's nearly 1 player per team already gone.

Shanahan has even come out to state that a player's injury influences his decision.  Why do sports, hockey in particular, think that intent doesn't overshadow injury?  In our current system of government, intent can be just as bad as the actual crime itself.  One can argue it's just a game but if you watched any post-whistle scrum or a blood bath brawl, one can clearly differentiate between a hockey play and a non-hockey play.  Shanahan, in only his 1st year in this position, is clearly becoming the poster child for violence in the NHL.  So far he's underwhelmed in this writer's opinion.  

This game is violent and it takes a tough man to play this game.  In fact, the hit I have at the top of this article 15 years ago would have been considered "clean" or a good "hockey play." The hitting has not changed, the way we portray the hits has changed.  With what we know about concussion and head injuries, it's not a goon's game anymore.  Players have missed extended periods of time and even one Marc Savard, a former all-star caliber player had to retire because of his lingering effects.  It ruined the careers of Eric Lindros and Paul Kariya.  These 1 or 2 game suspensions just aren't going to deter players.  Fines? Don't even joke around, who cares.  We watched 3 players this past summer who were known as fighters all die because of issues relating to mental capacity from their role in the game.

So many people love this game.  Coaches, GM's, fans, players, media, and society in general all agree it's not good for the players or the game.  So why is it so difficult to institute change?  It's elementary as Sherlock Holmes would put it.  They are afraid if they ban all these hits and give out huge suspensions, they won't have a game anymore.  Here's a tip:  Try it and see what happens.  I guarantee you the game doesn't disappear or even change for that matter.  If you start reigning in the outrageous hits, they become less prevalent and the culture changes.  Culture change isn't a bad thing.  They should be encouraging it.  

The playoffs in hockey are similar to March Madness in college basketball.  Nearly every night you see two teams (trust me this league has more parity than any other, not even close) going at it until the final buzzer and sometimes the final buzzer goes off an extra 2 or 3 times.  A lot of Pens fans that I know, including Mr. Powers, had no idea how awesome so many teams are until they watch them in the playoffs.  As a former Columbus Blue Jacket employee, I know how many of those fans love playoff hockey.  So please Mr. Shanahan.  Don't wuss out and give into the antics of these players.  Remember the James Wisniewski suspension?  8 regular season games for punching a guy.  Longest one of the year and it happened in the pre-season.  Let's get back to that kind of attitude and I can bet ya the game will change for the better.

It starts with the players and their mindsets, it's time to start changing that mindset...beginning now.

The Raffi Torres hit on Marian Hossa in the above video will be reviewed and ultimately determined tomorrow.  Make a statement NHL, make it one worth praising and one that will define a new standard in this league that we all love.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Boomer's Wall of Fame Wednesday

It was time for a change. Starting today "What If" Wednesday's will now be replaced with Boomer's Wall of Fame Wednesday. Now, this does not mean "What If" is officially retired from "The Rock", it just means it will be taking a break for a time period, while I try out a new topic to talk about and discuss with all you bottom dwellers. :) Basically, what the Wall of Fame will be about, each week Boomer will provided you with one athlete/player and one Head Coach, and enshrine them into the Boomer Wall of Fame. The player/coach will either be already in their professional Hall of Fame or waiting their turn to get the call. With that, the player/coach could also be from the College ranks, and never got the chance to play/coach professionally and/or didn't have quiet the professional career, like they did in College. So, let me know what you think, and I am always down for any suggestions, but do know Boomer will have the final say in the decision of who gets inducted into "Boomer's Wall of Fame.

And the first player to be enshrined into Boomer's Wall of Fame....Boomer's childhood favorite player...Ken Griffey, Jr.

               Ken Griffey, Jr.
Who could forget that pure left-handed swing Griffey Jr. had. My love for Griffey, Jr. started at a young age. Baseball was the first sport I took an interested in and I don't exactly remember the exact time, but I fell in love with arguably one of the best of all time to play the game of baseball. From having my own Seattle Mariners ball cap (that I use to wear backwards all the time, like Jr.), to ordering my own pair of Griffey, Jr. cleats, to the #24 Mariners tee-shirt, Griffey, Jr. trashcan (which I still have), the Wheatles boxes, etc. I had it all. The disappointment of the 1994 MLB strike-shorten season, in which this young boy had tickets to go see the Mariners up in Cleveland, the following week. To the enjoyment, a few years later, finally seeing Griffey, Jr. in person (up in Cleveland) hit his 300th career home run. Watching him hit his 500th HR on Father's Day of 2004, and the bear hug he gave his dad after rounding the bases. What can I say, it was love at first site. Griffey would end up winning multiple awards for his batting as well as, his glove out in Center Field. Griffey, Jr. played for the Seattle Mariners, Cincinnati Reds, and Chicago White Sox. He is one of only EIGHT guys to have over 600 career HR's (630). Due to injuries, during his baseball career, Griffey had a couple season-shorten ones and, who knows how many more home run's he could have collected, most people believe it would be Griffey, Jr. at the top of the all-time list, instead of Barry Bonds, if he would have stayed healthy. Regardless, to this day and forever Ken Griffey, Jr. will ALWAYS be my favorite player of all-time, PERIOD! With, that its an honor of mine to induct Ken Griffey, Jr. as the first player into Boomer's Wall of Fame.

One of my favorite moments from Griffey, Jr. He was a kid in an adults body.

And the first coach to be inducted....Jimmy V.....Jim Valvano

                     Jim Valvano "Jimmy V"
Jimmy V's a shoe-in regardless of his coaching career, but with his 1993 ESPY Speech. Although, I am too young, heck I wasn't even born yet, I could watch the final :06 and beyond of the 1983 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship over and over again. Coach Valvano's underdog WolfPack team from NC State, shocked the basketball world with a last second dunk by NC State forward Lorenzo Charles, to beat the heavily-favored Houston "Phi Slamma Jama" Cougars, 54-52. Coach Valvano's reaction afterwards was amazing, running around the court, with a, "someone give me a hug" look on his face. Coach Valvano's career record at NC State was 209-114, guiding the WolfPack to three Elite Eight appearances and the one title in 1983. Coach Valvano before his days at NC State, Coach Valvano made stops at John Hopkins (10-9), Bucknell (33-42) and Iona (94-45). Overall, Coach Valvano collected 346 W's in his coaching career. Coach V passed away in April of 1993 due to a year-long battle with cancer. Each year the CBB universe has what they call, "Jimmy V Week", were all the proceeds go towards the Jimmy V Foundation for cancer research. It is by greatest honors to induct Coach Jim Valvano into Boomer's Wall of Fame, theres not another coach I would have put in first besides Jimmy V. 

Will someone give this guy a hug!

OMGOSH, it's the NFL Schedule!

Last night was the huge ESPN special of the revealing of the 2012 NFL Season Schedule for all teams including preseason, regular season, and of course nationally televised games.

Yay football!

Thanksgiving Games
  • Houston @ Detroit 12:30pm on CBS
  • Washington @ Dallas 4:15pm on FOX
  • New England @ NY Jets 8:20pm on NBC

Fun fact:  Thursday night games start in Week 2 this year! I'm not a huge fan of them but it's whatever, it guarantees every team at least 1 stand alone appearance each season.

Here are Rock Bottom, we wanted to give you a breakdown of our favorite teams' skeds.  With the draft coming up next Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, it's never too soon to think about football!

First up, our home state and Boomer's love/hate girlfriend...


Let's be honest here, this is not pretty.  They have the third toughest strength of schedule and toughest for a non-playoff team.  After the home opener, they play 3 of 4 on the road against 3 playoff teams!  You'd think they'd get a break after that and they sort of do with 3 of 4 at home but again, 2 playoff teams and a borderline playoff team.  Basically, the Browns could very well be out of any kind of playoff chase by their bye week in Week 10.  On top of that, they start right back up with my Cowboys and their BFF Steelers.  Where they can hope to salvage the season is the Oakland, KC, and Washington stretch before finishing AT Denver and AT Pittsburgh.  But hey, at least they get a national TV spot vs. the Ravens on 9/27 right? Oh wait, no one has the NFL Network.

Best Case Scenario: 8-8
Most Likely Scenario: 4-12

On to Gainer's beloved...


Gainer's Gang Green features a sked of 4 national TV appearances for Sanchise, Tebow, and the boys.  Overall the schedule is ranked 20th but the Jets need to get off to a quick start.  Of their first 8 games before the Bye, half are playoff teams and three more are division rivals.  If they are below .500, look for the media to start slamming Mark Sanchez and be calling for Tim Tebow.  In the second half of the season, 5 of their 8 games are on the road but does include a home Turkey Day match up with their hated rivals Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and the New England Patriots.  Like usual, their season will most likely be determined how they finish in the final 4 games of which 3 are roadies.

Best Case Scenario: 12-4
Most Likely Scenario: 9-7

On to Boomer's NFC love child...


The Cardinals are trending upwards thanks to a strong finish last year to end up 8-8.  In the NFC West, anything can happen even though the 49ers will be tough.  The Cardinals early season sked is very favorable including a great MNF game 10/29 vs. the 49ers.  The real key for Arizona is how they finish because out of the bye, they have 3 of 4 on the road but they finish with 2 of 3 at home.  Look for Gainer and Boomer to clash when they take on the Jets on 12/2.

Best Case Scenario: 10-6
Most Likely Scenario: 8-8

Here we go with the NFC's most debated and America's (don't argue with me) team...


The Cowboys always get much love from TV so they get their fill with 4 appearances including a 4pm Fox exclusive with Washington on Thanksgiving!  Unfortunately, for the 2nd year in a row, it's an early Bye which players hate.  On top of that is the fact the first 6 of 9 games are on the road!  It all starts with the NFL Season Opener Wednesday 9/5 at the defending champs and Gainer's least favorite team, the New York Giants.  As a reward though, the final 5 of 7 games are at home.  But let's be real here.  December has never been kind to Tony Romo.  He's got to figure it out soon.

Best Case Scenario: 12-4
Most Likely Scenario: 9-7

We'll wrap up with the ginger led...


The Bengals after no national TV appearance last season get 3 this year including the very first game!  The Bengals early season schedule features 4 roadies and 3 home games before their bye week, however it is favorable.  They get the Browns twice!  It seems to be crucial for the Bengals to have a winning record by the bye week.  If they can get through the Eagles game with a decent record, I'm sure AFC North implications will be on the line the final 2 weeks at Pittsburgh and home vs. the Ravens.  As you'll see below, the Bengals indeed have a favorable schedule this season.

Best Case Scenario:  11-5
Most Likely Scenario:  10-6

Special note: The Cowboys/Giants season opener is on Wednesday so as to not conflict with President Obama's DNC Speech Thursday.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Boomer's Diamond Notes: Quick Starts, Slow Starts

With most teams playing 10-11 games so far in this 2012 version of the MLB season, some teams are off to great starts, such as the Dodgers (9-1), Rangers (8-2), and Nationals (8-3); while some teams try not to bury themselves too early Padres (3-8), Twins (3-7), Royals (3-7). While the rest of the league most teams are hovering around the .500 mark, you can't win any division crowns in April, but winning early gets you off to a good start and teams ride the wave of good starts. Well lets take a minute to look around the league and see where everyone is at, especially Boomer's two favorite teams the Indians and Reds. Just around 152-games to go...

AL East
The five teams that make up this division are separated by just two games, with the Baltimore Orioles on top at (6-4) and the Boston Red Sox at the bottom at (4-6). The Orioles are in the lead now, but were picked to finish last in the AL East Standings, so don't expect them to stay on top for long, while the Yankees (5-5), Rays (5-5), and Red Sox (4-6) all expect to battle for the division crown and/or the two wild-card spots. The Red Sox are coming off a weekend, in which they took 3 out of 4 games at home vs. the Rays, but have some clubhouse issues involving first-year manger Bobby Valentine and the players. Be interesting to see what happens with that. The Toronto Blue Jays (5-4) have the best scoring difference in the division so far at +12 (47 to 35).

AL Central
The heavily-favored Detroit Tigers after the first ten games are on top of the division with a 7-3 record. While the White Sox started off hot at 5-2, have dropped their last two and sit in second place at 5-4 currently. The Cleveland Indians (4-4) started the season 1-4 at home, however, over the weekend their started a 9-game road trip off with a 3-game sweep in Kansas City against the Royals. As for the Royals, looks like its same old story as they share the basement with the Minnesota Twins in the AL Central at 3-7. Will anyone be about to contend with the Tigers in the division? Only time will tell.

AL West
The two-time defending AL Champs, the Texas Rangers find themselves at 8-2, having the best record in the AL at this point. The Rangers have done it so far with quality pitching and timely hitting as they have scored 45 runs so far, while only giving up 24 runs to their opponents. The LA Angels, the team that was picked to run with the Rangers all year, are off to a slow start and sit in third place in the AL West (4-6). While the Seattle Mariners (6-5) and Oakland A's (4-7) have already played each other 7 times in 11 games. Just wait till the two have to play someone other themselves, they won't be winning very many games.

Now take a look at the NL...

NL East
The two teams picked to finish at the bottom of this division, find themselves at the top so far at this point, with the Washington Nationals (8-3) and New York Mets (7-3) surprising folks thus far in the season. While the heavily-favored Philadelphia Phillies (5-5) have struggled to score runs with some key parts missing from the line-up, have one IF not the best pitching staffs in the league. The Atlanta Braves (5-5) and Miami Marlins (4-6) round out the rest of this division. It will be interesting to see if the Nationals and/or Mets will be able to ride their hot starts as we move closer to the end of April and into May.

NL Central
The defending World Series champs, the St. Louis Cardinals are on top of the NL Central at 7-3, and are starting right where they finished from their World Series run last fall. The Cardinals have the best scoring difference in all of baseball at +23 (57 to 34). The Astros, Brewers, and Reds all sit at 4-6, as the Brewers and Reds need to turn things around quickly, if they want to contend with the Cardinals. As for the Pittsburgh Pirates (3-7) after a 2-1 start to the season, have lost 6 of 7 games, and struggle to score runs only 19 in ten games, the worst in all of baseball. While the lovable Chicago Cubs continue to struggle at 3-7.

NL West
The hottest team thus far in this young 2012 MLB season, has to be the LA Dodgers. Winners of 9 of their first 10 games, are off a a surprising start, have taken advantage of a soft schedule so far (7 vs. the Padres and 3 vs. the Pirates), it all be interesting if they can keep it up once the schedule gets tougher. The D-Backs, the defending AL West champs, are off to a hot start as well, sit at 7-3. The Giants and Rockies are both 4-6, as the two teams struggle giving up runs. While the San Diego Padres are counting down the number of games left in the season, sit at 3-8, worst in the MLB.

Boomer's Clubhouse Chat

Cleveland Indians 4-4
Games this week: 3 @ Seattle and 3 @ Oakland

Look what happens during a weekend in Kansas City. A three-game series sweep vs. the Royals in KC, in which the Indians scored 32 runs and had double digit hits in all three games, has the Tribe back at the .500 (4-4), as their look to continue the hot hitting out west this week. After a slow start to the season, in which the only way the Indians were scoring runs, was with the long-ball, in the Royal series, they were able to knock the ball all over the diamond. In the series the Indians scored 3 or more runs in a single inning six times. When you score a lot of runs, the pitching kind of gets covered up, however, the Indians did allow 3, 9, 7 runs in the 3-game series, while using a lot of their pitchers from the bullpen. I would like to see the starters this week in Seattle and Oakland go deeper into the games and relieve the bullpen a little bit. The Indians need to be thinking they can at least take the series vs. the Mariners and A's, as those two teams look to be two of the worst in the Major Leagues. Lets Go Tribe, keep it going.

Cincinnati Reds 4-6
Games this week: 3 @ St. Louis and 3 @ Chicago Cubs

Well after a very disappointing weekend in the Nationals Capital, in which the Reds lost 3 out of 4 to the Nationals, two of which came in extra innings, the Reds are not off the the hot start the fans where expecting. The Reds struggled to score runs over the weekend scoring only 12 runs in the 4-game series, on top of scoring just six in a 3-game series vs. the Cardinals at the beginning of the week. The Reds need to figure things out soon, or will find themselves out of the race for the NL Central with a expense payroll. With another 3-game series vs. the Cardinals to start this week, this time out in St. Louis, the Reds have to find a way to get the bats going and win that series. Then over the weekend in Chicago, they got to be thing anything else but a sweep vs. the Cubs would be a disappointment. So the Reds, have dug themselves a hole thus far, but theres plenty of time to turn the ship around. Lets Go Reds!

This is what I feel like would happen, if guys knew when I drop 'em from my Fantasy Baseball team.

The Boston Marathon

Initial thought here: this is arguably the most famous road race/marathon and potential sporting event in the WORLD but it has no presenting sponsor?  I know John Hancock has been involved for the past 27 years but I couldn't have told you that. I feel like there's something missing here. I digress (my education pops up frequently in these matters)...

Yesterday morning nearly 22,500 runners took off for the 116th running of the Boston Marathon.  It's a 26.2 mile, slightly  Different waves of racers started between 9:30 and 10:30am and the men's winner was Wesley Korir, a University of Louisville alum! and the 19th Kenyan winner the past 22 years, with a time of 2 hours, 12 minutes and 40 seconds.  Kenya's Sharon Cherop won the women's in 2 hours, 31 minutes and 50 seconds.  Korir's time was the slowest time since 1985!  The main factor for the slow day? The heat. It was in the 80s for the majority of the race and nearly 2,000 participants needed some sort of medical attention with over 100 going to the hospital.

Only a year removed from a perfect running day in the 2011 race and the fastest marathon ever recorded by Geoffrey Mutai (2 hours, 3 minutes and 2 seconds), Mutai didn't even finish the race thanks to the heat.  In a race as grueling as a marathon, why in the world is it starting so late in the day?  I understand it's been planned for a year in advance but I think the people would understand if you moved up the race an hour or 2.  When most people started it was a pleasant 70 degrees but by the time they finished, it was nearly 90.  Ouch.

The best time from any American came from Jason Hartmann, 31, who finished in fourth place with a time of 2:14:31, nearly two minutes shy of the men's winner, Wesley Korir from Kenya.  He was a six-time All American at the University of Oregon and is a two-time U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials competitor.

The top female American was Sheri Piers, who finished in 10th place with a time of 2:41:55, nearly 10 minutes behind the women's winner, Sharon Cherop from Kenya. Piers is 40 years old! HEY-OO!

The Boston Marathon hasn't produced a men's winner from USA since Greg Meyer in 1983, and the last women’s champion from USA was Lisa Larsen-Weidenbach in 1985.

Famous Athletes Participating
Former New England Patriot Tedy Bruschi completed his first ever marathon for his charity Tedy's Team and piling up a list of physical achievements including climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro last year!  As a leader on those Super Bowl winning teams, Bruschi battled heart injuries late in his career and inspires many today.

One of the most famous US women's soccer players in history Kristine Lilly (for Boston's Children Hospital) finished her first marathon as well.  She's the only woman to have competed in 5 World Cups and the oldest to score a goal in the Cup.

Monday, April 16, 2012

NHL Playoffs Week #2 Preview!

We are officially 2-3 games into the NHL Playoffs First Round!  Sometimes it feels like forever waiting all summer through training camp, preseason, and 82 regular season games just to get to this point.  Now that it is here, for some (including myself, nooooo!) that journey is nearly over...

Cross checking in the throat, probably not a good idea Asham...
Series Updates:
Eastern Conference
#1 Rangers & #8 Senators tied 1-1
#2 Bruins & #7 Capitals tied 1-1
#3 Panthers & #6 Devils tied 1-1
#5 Flyers leading #4 Pens 3-0

Western Conference
#8 Kings leading #1 Canucks 3-0
#2 Blues & #7 Sharks tied 1-1
#3 Coyotes & #6 Blackhawks tied 1-1
#4 Predators leading #5 Red Wings 2-1

Here are the games through Wednesday night:
Rangers and Senators 7:30 CNBC
Bruins and Capitals 7:30 NBC Sports
Blues and Sharks 10:00 NBC Sports

Panthers and Devils 7:30 NHL Network
Predators and Red Wings 7:30 NBC Sports
Coyotes and Blackhawks 9:00 CNBC

Rangers and Senators 7:30 CNBC
Penguins and Flyers 7:30 NBC Sports (ELIMINATION GAME)
Canucks and Kings 10:00 NBC Sports (ELIMINATION GAME)

Biggest Shocks:
2 Heavy Cup Favorites are down 3-0 in the FIRST ROUND
  • I knew going in that the top team (record/point-wise from the regular season) Vancouver was not as strong without goal scoring twin Daniel Sedin but to be down 3-0 to the Los Angeles Kings and 1 game from elimination? Man.  Sucks for them!  The Canucks have already made a goalie change and it's looking like they will have a huge controversy this summer about whom to keep long term.  Huge props to LA though, they made dynamite moves last summer and at the trade deadline to make themselves better.  It's working.  It's just funny to think last year's Western Conference winner and only 1 game away from winning it all is this close to being out in mid-April.  If the city rioted after losing game 7, imagine this disappointment!
  • I'm not going to mess around here.  The Pens are down 3-0 to their hated in-state rivals Flyers.  The Pens were supposed to be 100% healthy with the games two best players in Crosby and Malkin.  They have given up 20 goals in 3 games.  Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury looks lost at best.  The defense is non-existent and now people are questioning whether last season's coach of the year's overall system can even work in the playoffs.  As I Google hangout with my buds Dougie Streets and Mr. Powers during the broadcasts, we have no words to describe our feelings.  It's not anger, not sadness, just nothing.  Wednesday night could be it and one has to wonder, if it ends, what will happen to the current squad this summer with Sidney Crosby's contract up after next season?

What Shouldn't Shock You:
Road Teams Winning
  • Home ice has never meant that much in this sport.  It's nice to have from a fan perspective and the extra potential game each series is nice for the owner's wallet but in the grand scheme of the games, it doesn't matter.
  • Check this stat out!  Road teams are 11-8 in the playoffs so far.  That's amazing since the first 2 games are home for the lower seed.  In fact, not one team won both their games at home and the Penguins/Canucks both lost EACH of their first home games.  Still, there's nothing like playoff hockey.  The crowds, the hitting, the passion, the overtimes, the craziness.

What to Watch Moving Forward:
Brendan Shanahan and his suspensions/fines
  • There have been numerous fights and bad hits throughout this playoff already.  This has lead to some minor fines and suspensions. If what we've seen already is leading to this, what will the future rounds be like?  No one wants to see top players out for any amount of time, but you cannot ignore illegal hits or cheap shots at this point just because it's the playoffs.  
  • Shanahan is the head of NHL discipline, the czar so-to-speak and his videos throughout the regular season were rather humorous explaining why the punishment fit the crime.  They became popularly called "ShanaBans."  But what worries me is that he was very close to suspending all-world defender Shea Weber of the Predators for 1 game until he spoke to Detroit's GM who told him his player was fine.  Since there was no injury, he stuck with the max player fine of $2,500.  I don't know about you, but C'MON!
Watch #6 in yellow, he punches #40 in white then slams his head off the glass, dang.

It's a Runner's World: Marathons, Olympic Trials and Track & Field

What better way to kick this off than a little Chariots of Fire!  This will start my coverage of the Athletics (Track & Field) portion on Rock Bottom.  With it being an Olympic year, it will be a great way to see a great sport that unfortunately gets its main recognition due to steroid scandals.  I've linked all the websites so you can read further into each event!

First up we'll have the World Marathon Majors, then I'll dive into the US Olympic Trials just a little bit, then I'll finish with the Visa Championship Series.  Enjoy!

Happy Patriot's Day!  Yes this morning kicks off the 2nd year of what we call the World Marathon Majors.  We start (again) with the 116th Boston Marathon.

The World Marathon Majors is a series consisting of five of the largest and most renowned marathons in the world: Boston Marathon, Virgin London Marathon, BMW Berlin Marathon, Bank of America Chicago Marathon and ING New York City Marathon. In creating the World Marathon Majors, the organizers of these five races recognized an opportunity to advance the sport, raise awareness of its athletes and increase the level of interest in elite racing among running enthusiasts.

The five annual road races in Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York, along with the Olympic Marathon (every 4th year) and IAAF World Championships Marathon (in odd numbered years), serve as the Qualifying Races in the series. At the conclusion of each Qualifying Race, the top five male and female finishers are awarded points based on their finish place.

At the conclusion of each two-year series (this year being the end of 2011-2012), a $1 million prize purse will be split equally between the top male and female point earners. The $1 million prize will be awarded annually meaning that each two-year series will overlap. The inaugural series will be 2006-2007 followed by 2007-2008, 2008-2009 and so on.

The total score for each athlete in a series will consist of points earned from a maximum of four Qualifying Races during that two-year cycle. To be eligible for the jackpot, an athlete must compete in a minimum of one Qualifying Race during each year of the series.

Supposed to be in the 80s today during the race so be careful out there! Race organizers even are allowing this year's participants to defer to next year because of the heat.
Athletes who compete in the marathons receive points for finishing in any of the top five places (1st 25; 2nd 15; 3rd 10; 4th 5 and 5th 1). Their four highest ranks over the two-year period will be counted; if an athlete scores points in more than this number, the athlete's four best races will be scored. To be eligible for the jackpot, an athlete must compete in at least one qualifying race in each calendar year of the series.

That's because of the nature of marathons, you obviously do not compete in every one as even the elite only do a couple each year if that.  Here is this year's schedule:

  • April 16           B.A.A. Boston Marathon
  • April 22           Virgin London Marathon
  • August 5,12   Olympic Games Marathon, London
  • September 30   BMW BERLIN-MARATHON
  • October 8    Bank of America Chicago Marathon
  • November 4   ING New York City Marathon
Here are the standings currently for men and women (I've included first and Americans!)
1. Geoffrey Mutai (KEN) 50 pts.
  •     1st   Boston 2011   2:03:02 25 pts.
  •     1st   New York 2011   2:05:06 25 pts.
15. Ryan Hall (USA) 6 pts.
16. Bekana Daba (USA) 5 pts.

1. Liliya Shobukova (RUS) 40 pts.
  •     2nd   London 2011    2:20:15 15 pts.
  •     1st   Chicago 2011    2:18:20 25 pts
8. Desiree Davila (USA) 15 pts.
20. Kara Goucher (USA) 1 pt.

As a distance runner myself, I've never done one but I know several people who have including my boss, uncles, former coach, and my main man Joobs.  It's a unique event that naturally is not healthy for the human body.  However it is a test of human endurance and more of an experience than anything.  26.2 miles is a long way to go!  

Our 6 Americans competing in London this summer
Back on January 14th, the US Olympic Marathon Trials were held (because the runners need WAY more rest in between races than the other events) and our group of 6 are the following:

3 Men: 
 1 Meb Keflezighi         36 Mammoth Lakes, CA 2:09:08 +0:00 
 2 Ryan Hall                 29 Mammoth Lakes, CA 2:09:30 +0:22 
 3 Abdi Abdirahman 33 Tucson, AZ         2:09:47 +0:39 
 *4 Dathan Ritzenhein 29 Beaverton, OR         2:09:55 +0:47* 

I included Ritz because it was first time we had 4 under 2:10 at the Trials but he doesn't make it, crazy!

3 Women:
1 Shalane Flanagan 30 Portland, OR         2:25:38 +0:00 
2 Desiree Davila         28 Rochester Hills, MI         2:25:55 +0:17 
3 Kara Goucher         33 Portland, OR         2:26:06 +0:28 

Flanagan bested the Trials record by nearly 3 minutes in her debut and only 2nd marathon EVER


The rest of the US Olympic Trials will start June 21 and run (literally waka waka) through July 1 at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.  This is the home of the Oregon Ducks and more importantly the legends Steve Prefontaine and coach Bill Bowerman.  I'll get you more pumped up as we get closer, in the meantime...

The Visa Championship Series is a series of track meets from January 28th through June 9, both indoor and outdoor that crowns a male and female champion.

The top American male finisher and top American female finisher in each event of the Visa Championship Series will have their performances assigned a point total based on the IAAF Scoring Tables of Athletics. The athlete whose performance has the highest point total at the end of the Visa Championship Series will be named the Visa Champion.

Although the top performance can come at any of the Visa Championship Series meets, an athlete must compete at the USA Indoor T&F Championships to be named Visa Champion.

This will lead up into the Olympic Trials so it should be very fun to follow how the athletes are peaking/training leading up into this summer.

Visa Championship Series Schedule:

  • U.S. Open at Madison Square Garden: January 28- New York City, New York        
  • New Balance Indoor Grand Prix: February 4- Boston, Massachusetts
  • USA Track & Field Classic: February 11- Fayetteville, Arkansas
  • USA Indoor Championships: February 25 - 26  Albuquerque, New Mexico

USA vs. The World at the Penn Relays (First Outdoor Event)
April 28- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
watch NBC LIVE, April 28, 1:00 - 3:00 PM

Nike Prefontaine Classic
June 2 - Eugene, Oregon
watch NBC LIVE, June 2, 3:00 - 4:30 PM

adidas Grand Prix
June 9 - New York City, New York
watch NBC LIVE, June 9, 3:30 - 5:00 PM

Current Standings
As of 2/26/2012
  1. Galen Rupp      1,255 points
  2. Trell Kimmons  1,237 points
  3. Aries Merritt     1,232 points
  1. Chaunte Lowe         1,221 points
  2. Amber Campbell     1,218 points
  3. Jenn Suhr                1,217 points
If you don't understand Oregon, TrackTown, Prefontaine, or Bowerman, make sure to Netflix this movie, Without Limits from 1998 starring Billy Crudup and Donald Sutherland.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Boomer's Slam Dunk NBA Playoff Push: 2nd Edition

With less then two weeks to go in this shorten 66-game NBA season, some teams are trying to hang on to their playoff positioning, others are making their final push to make the playoffs, and the rest have already booked their off-season "get away" trips and look forward to seeing their teams name on the NBA lottery show. As like last week, Boomer's "Slam Dunk" edition of the NBA will provide you with the standings from each conference (East and West), Games to watch for this upcoming week, and maybe...just maybe a dunk or two, so be on the look out for it. Now lets get into...Sssssss

1) Chicago Bulls  45-14
2) Miami Heat     40-17
3) Indiana Pacers 36-22
4) Boston Celtics 34-24
5) Atlanta Hawks 34-24
6) Orlando Magic 34-24
7) Philadelphia 76ers 31-27
8) New York Knicks 30-28
9) Milwaukee Bucks 28-30

Impressive win last night by the Chicago Bulls over the Miami Heat, even with D. Rose in the starting lineup he wasn't much of a factor (1-13 from the floor), however, it was the rest of the Bulls (especially the guys off the bench) that provided the scoring and a nice 96-86 OT victory, that wrap up the Central Division for the Bulls as well as probably the #1 seed in the East. Boston looks to have a hold on the Atlantic Division, while the 76ers and Knicks try to hold off the Bucks from stealing one of their playoff spots. While the Pacers, Hawks, and Magic all battle for playoff positioning. Interesting to see how the final two weeks play out, to see which teams get what seed for the Eastern Conference Playoffs.

1) Oklahoma City Thunder  42-16
2) San Antonio Spurs           41-16
3) Los Angeles Lakers         37-22
4) Los Angeles Clippers      36-23
5) Memphis Grizzles            34-24
6) Dallas Mavs                     33-26
7) Houston Rockets             32-26
8) Denver Nuggets              32-26
9) Utah Jazz                         31-28
10) Phoenix Suns                30-28

The Thunder and Spurs are in a deadlock race for the 1 seed, as the two teams have flip flopped with each other the past week. The two LA-based teams will be battling for the 3rd spot and could slip to the 5 seed if they stumble down the stretch, allowing the Grizzles to possibly jump into the Top 4 seedings. After Memphis, the Mavs, Rockets, Nuggets, Jazz, and Suns are all within 2.5 games of each other. The West is just going to be crazy to watch down the stretch as five teams battle for three spots. Tell me who's not ready for the Western Conference Playoffs, its going to be EPIC.


The dude just knows how to dunk, imagine if he had a jumper to go along with his game.

Games of the Week

Tonight (4/13) FRIDAY THE 13TH

Hawks at Magic (7:00 PM EST) FSFL
- Both teams come into this game with the same W-L record (34-24), as the Hawks sit in the 5th spot, while the Magic are in the 6th spot in the Eastern Conference. Dwight Howard has a bum back and will not go in tonight's game. Both teams still have a chance to jump into the Top 4, as they are only two games back of the Pacers and Celtics (Celtics will be guaranteed a Top 4 finish if they win the Atlantic). This matchup is always fun to watch, and tonight will be no different.

Suns at Rockets (8:00 PM EST) ESPN
- One of many match ups over the next couple weeks to watch, due to the fact these two are in the conversation of being IN or OUT, out west in the Western Conference playoffs. The Suns are looking in from the the outside right now, but could steal and win tonight on the road and itch themselves ever closer to the 8th spot in the West. With a "W" by the Rockets it would give them a little breathing room from those two teams (Jazz as well), looking in from the outside. Possibly a elimination game here?

Tomorrow (4/14 Saturday)

Jazz at Grizzles (8:00 PM EST) SportSouth
- Another meeting in which a team on the outside tries to steal a "W" on the road from a team sitting inside the playoffs right now. The Jazz will be either coming off a win or lose to the NO Hornets, so it will be interesting to see what happens in this game, as the Grizzles try and jump one of the two LA-based teams down the stretch. The Grizzles have a pretty favorable remaining schedule as they only face one current playoff team in their final eight games (Season Finale vs. Magic).

Suns at Spurs (9:00 PM EST) ESPN
- Remember not to long ago, when these to twos got together it was "must-see" NBA tv. Since, the Suns have falling back and little bit, while somehow the ageless plus a little youth movement by the Spurs have kept them back at/or near the top of the Western Conference Standings. Despite what the Suns do tonight in Houston, will determine how they are feeling coming into this "must-win" game for the boys of Phoenix. With a Spurs win and a potential 0-2 Texas trip, that might just do in the Suns for any chance of making the Western Conference Playoffs this season and the last chance for Steve Nash.

Sunday (4/15)

Heat at Knicks (1:00 PM EST) ABC
- Could this be a preview of a first round Eastern Conference matchup? With the Heat coming off that letdown lose to the Bulls on Thursday Night, the Heat need to show that they can beat a playoff team on the road, or in general in the case. The Knicks could continue building some momentum with this one, as they try to hold off the Milwaukee Bucks for the 8th and final spot in the Eastern Conference.

Mavs at Lakers (3:30 PM EST) ABC
- What a year makes. The Lakers will try and go for the regular season sweep of the defending champions with or without Kobe Bryant. The Mavs sweep the Lakers out of the playoffs a year ago on their way to winning the NBA Title. Fast Forward to the present and the aging Mavs have had their share of post-championship blues/lows, with the latest spending reining 6th Man of the Year Lamar Odom to the inactive roster, putting an end to his lost season in Dallas. The Lakers have looked to their 7 footers (Gasol and Bynum) to provide the scoring while Bryant has sat out with a leg injury.

Rockets at Nuggets (8:00 PM EST) ALT
- A game between the current 7th and 8th seed out west, should be a entertaining and meaningful game for both teams as they both try to cling to a playoff seed. This game is the first of back-back games between the two teams, as they play in Houston Monday night, big swing game implications.

Monday (4/16)

Thunder at Clippers (10:30 PM EST) NBA TV
- In what could be a potential 2nd round matchup in the Western Conference playoffs, the top seeded Thunder will travel out to LA to face the Clippers on NBA TV Monday night. The Clippers got a nice win at OKC last Wednesday (100-98) and hold a 2-1 lead vs. the Thunder in the regular season. Who will Blake Griffin dunk on this time around?

Tuesday (4/17)

Celtics at Knicks (8:00 PM EST) TNT
-It is always entertaining when there two teams meet up with each other, and has always been an intriguing matchup for the two teams. While the Celtics' have been the hottest team in the Eastern Conference since the All-Star Break, the Knicks have had some impressive wins themselves during that stretch. Now I don't see the Knicks catching the Celtics in the standings, I like the Knicks at home in this one.

Spurs at Lakers (10:30 PM EST) TNT
- The just less then a week ago, these two teams got together, with the Kobe-less Lakers got a blowout  victory in San Antonio, 98 to 84. The Lakers are 5 games back of the Spurs in the Western Conference Standings and depending on how the weekend works out the Lakers could be in position to catch the Spurs in the standings. The chances of that are slim, but this game will mean a lot for both teams, as the two teams will battle once more before the end of the regular season (seriously, Lakers/Spurs three times in April, thats a mini-series right there).

Wednesday (4/18)

Magic at Celtics (8:00 PM EST) ESPN
- These two teams always put on a good game, when they both go up against each other. While the Celtics have been one hot team since the All-Star Break, the Magic have dealt with a lot of drama, with their big man Dwight Howard. Howard is out during the weekend due to back issues, so it will be interesting to see if he plays in this one or not, and lets see if the C's can catch the Pacers for the three seed.

Thursday (4/19)

Bulls at Heat (8:00 PM EST) TNT
- Deja vu. Same two teams. Same time and channel. different week and venue. For the 2nd time in a week, the top two teams in the Eastern Conference go at it one more time. It's going to be the Heat's last chance to catch the Bulls in the standings and would give the Bulls some extra momentum, heading into the playoffs knowing they can beat the Heat on the road. I think everyone is just waiting for these two teams to meet up in the playoffs and go at each other. This one should provide us with another preview of that.

A Better Friday the 13th NHL Playoffs Update

In case you forgot, here's what happened last time to Gainer on Friday the 13th.

First two nights are in the books of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs!  7 of the 8 series have played their game 1's with the final series starting tonight.

Series Update:
#1 Rangers leading the #8 Senators 1-0
#2 Bruins leading the #7 Capitals 1-0
#3 Panthers vs. #6 Devils starts tonight
#5 Flyers leading the #4 Penguins 1-0

#8 Kings leading the #1 Canucks 1-0
#7 Sharks leading the #2 Blues 1-0
#3 Coyotes leading the #6 Blackhawks 1-0
#4 Predators leading the #5 Red Wings 1-0

So far, of the 7 games, 4 of them have gone to extra time.  FOUR.  Not a bad way to start unless you are on the losing end in which it is the most painful thing any human must endure.  Lucky me, I've seen them all!

Overtime Game Winners thus far:

Pens vs. Flyers (I wanna cry, ugh)
Pens were up 3-0 and the Flyers battled all the way back to steal it 4-3 in OT thanks for former Blue Jacket Jake Voracek.

Bruins vs. Caps (I almost want to feel bad here, I really do)
In a shockingly scoreless game, Bruins veteran stud Tim Thomas and Caps rookie Braden Holtby both pitching shutouts until... 
Watch for Captain Alex Ovechkin to give pep talk to Holtby immediately afterwards, great move to help a guy in his first ever playoff game.  I'm impressed

Blues vs. Sharks (Fun fact: Jon Hamm a.k.a Don Draper of Mad Men, HUGE Blues fan, I bet he was crushed)
Blues were up 1 with 5 minutes to go before San Jose tied it up in regulation.  This epic game had to go to the SECOND overtime, Havlat showing what he can do when healthy...

Coyotes vs. Blackhawks (2 videos here because it was just that good, finally ended at 1am EST)
Toews coming back for the Hawks = instant impact.  The Yotes seemingly had the game won with under 20 seconds to go but it ain't over til it's over.  

Patrick Kane is really good but the Yotes never give up once it was in OT...