It's playoff time in the NHL, and for the first time since 1970, no Canadian teams will be represented. In the Eastern Conference, the wild card Philadelphia Flyers take on the President's Trophy-winning Washington Capitals. The Flyers just lost team founder, owner, and chairman Ed Snider to cancer and the team has dedicated their postseason to him. The Detroit Red Wings just barely squeaked in, extending their playoff streak to 25 years. In the Western Conference, the Minnesota Wild are matched up with the team that used to be the Minnesota North Stars before relocating to Dallas in 1993, while the Battle of California rages on with a San Jose Shark-LA Kings series.
To put an exclamation point on the Chicago Cubs winning their first postseason series at Wrigley Field in the 100 year history of Wrigley Field, rookie Kyle Schwarber hit a dramatic 400+ foot shot over the new video scoreboard in right field... [more inside]
At the beginning of October, the Toronto Blue Jays at long last clinched the AL East division, ending a record 22-year drought [prev.]. Meanwhile, after a disastrous, injury-plagued 2014 season, the Texas Rangers rebounded from a late-summer nadir to improbably win the AL West title. The two teams collided in a best-of-five series -- Texas won two, then Toronto. It all came down to Wednesday night's showdown. Tied 2-2 after six, the 7th inning proceeded to unravel over the next 53 minutes in increasingly bizarre and dramatic fashion. To wit: A freak accident. A controversial call. Roars and brickbats from the crowd. The mayor tweets for calm. A comedy of errors. A violent slide. An epic home run, and an even more epic bat flip. Benches clear. Players ejected. Fans arrested. And the slap-ass heard 'round the world. [more inside]
Their last winning season came in 1997. Only one member of their Opening Day starting rotation remains, a 27-year-old from Taiwan who hadn't pitched in the majors before this year. The others have been replaced by a Red Sox cast-off picked up from the Mexican League, an ex-prospect with a career ERA of 5.5 in his first three years, and the son of one of their former pitchers, a throw-in in a 2009 trade with the Dodgers. They have only one regular hitting over .270, they're missing two-thirds of their Opening Day outfield, and their 20-year-old third baseman started the year at AA. Nate Silver's PECOTA projection system reckoned they'd finish in last place, 24 games behind the Yankees. And tomorrow night, the Baltimore Orioles will play their first postseason game in 15 years. [more inside]
After beating the Texas Rangers on Sept. 3, the Boston Red Sox were 84-54. Although half a game behind the Yankees in the American League East, the Red Sox had a nine-game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays for the wild card and roughly a 99.6 percent chance of making the playoffs. Fast forward one excruciating month to a dead heat with Tampa coming into tonight's bitter imbroglio. Boston struggles ahead of laughingstock Baltimore by a single run until a rain delay clears the field, leaving them in the surreal position of rooting for the hated Yankees playing down in Florida. They can only watch from the sidelines as the rival Rays, tied with Boston in the pennant race but down 7-0 against New York, roar back to life with six runs in the eighth inning and a tie run on the final pitch at the bottom of the ninth. And then, after blowing two different strikes that would have salvaged the game, Boston loses to Baltimore, completing what is arguably the worst late-breaking collapse in the history of major league baseball.
With the 2nd round NHL series between Nashville and Vancouver turning into the sleeper goalie duel everyone expected, superfans step up to create a better storyline: A Garden Gnome vs. Two Guys In Full-Body Spandex. [more inside]
Harvey Araton wrote that basketball star Reggie Miller has "a mouth that can stretch as far as his jump shot range." He might be right. Once, in a game against the New York Knicks, Miller so taunted Knicks guard John Starks that Starks headbutted him. Starks was summarily ejected. That incident took place during Game 3 of the 1993 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals - a series New York would go on to win in 5 games. [more inside]
Roy Halladay of the Philadelphia Phillies has pitched the second postseason no-hitter in major league history. [more inside]
For those who might be unaware: One of the great basketball games concluded last night in thrilling fashion during triple overtime. It is only par for a series that has gone into overtime for the fourth time in games in six games (one of which was double OT, and last night's aforementioned triple OT). The heroic moments and failures of players are too numerous to count at this point, but five of the six games have been decided by 11 points... TOTAL. On Saturday 8PM EST, what is arguably one of the greatest series ever, will conclude with the final game 7. [more inside]
The coldest game in football won't be at Lambeau Field (also known as the frozen tundra and the home of the Lambeau leap) tomorrow. It was 13° below zero in 1967 when the Green Bay Packers played the Dallas Cowboys. They called it the Ice Bowl and it had a dramatic finish. [more inside]
Sixers shock the world, or at least this fan with their OT victory last night. I'm glad to see cocky Kobe and his Lakers' perfect playoff record marred somewhat. And I can't believe the Sixers were able to pull it off. Anyone think they have a chance to go all the way now?