6.22.2014

One Glaring Weakness

Decision to keep Bradley at midfield costs U.S. the win


Michael Bradley looks lost in the center midfield for the U.S. (PA)
On Sunday evening against Portugal, the United States played its best World Cup soccer game since a Quarterfinal run in 2002.  After giving up a soft early goal, the Americans were resilient and controlled the play against a Portuguese team that most believed would have done the opposite.

Jermaine Jones struck the midway through the second half to tie the game at 1-1, and Clint Dempsey scored in the 81st minute to give the United States the lead.  A draw would have been satisfactory on this day, but with the lead in the hand, the U.S. suddenly had the ability to advance and knock out Portugal.

It was a matter of possession for the final nine minutes plus five additional in stoppage time.  The U.S. managed to fend off the attack of superstar Cristiano Ronaldo and his teammates for 13 of those minutes.  With time ticking down, American midfielder Michael Bradley took possession of the ball in the midfield and did what he did best ... turned it over.

Bradley has been a turnover machine throughout the first two games of the World Cup.  He seems to revere the ball like it's a yet-to-be-cooled piece of molten rock, punching it as far away from himself as he can with each touch.  His late game turnover wasn't a first, and unless his manager wises up, it won't be his last.

5.07.2014

Get Off the Bandwagon, Pink Hatters!

The influx of frontrunners ruins a hockey savvy market


Most Bruins fans care a lot about the Bruins, but not all of them.
(Getty)
I reached my breaking point in my Boston Bruins fandom today.

I'm a diehard Bruins fan, and the only thing I love more than my team is my sport, hockey.  Unfortunately, there's a growing contingent of Bruins enthusiasts that couldn't care less about hockey, and frankly, couldn't care less about the Bruins; they're just on the bandwagon for the ride.

In Boston, we know these people as Pink Hatters.  The nickname was established because they're the kind of people that originally bought the pink hats and/or shirts and wore them to Red Sox games in 2004.  Not in 2003 or 2002 or any of the time in the 86-year championship drought.  No, these people just showed up for the wins.  Instead of buying a shirt that reflected the team's color and heritage, they bought the pretty pink ones with the flavor-of-day player on the back.  (Who's got Bronson Arroyo!?)

To clarify, the Infestation of Pink Hatters spans both genders.  The suggestion of clothing color certainly seems to single out women, but the overzealous and uneducated views on the sport and the team extends to both genders.  In fact, it's far worse among men, who find it emasculating to have to ask a question about sports, and thus tend to make up their own rules and develop false perceptions of what makes a good player.  (No, you morons, the goal doesn't count if the puck rolls in the net after the horn has sounded, even if it was shot beforehand.  And, for the record, Sidney Crosby is the best hockey player in the world.)

5.05.2014

Stanley Cup Divisional Round Capsules

The Kings historic comeback against the Sharks was just
one of many story lines following the First Round. (Getty)
With the second round of the Stanley Cup well underway, it's worth at least putting my picks on record.  Here's a quick overview of the matchups:

Eastern Conference


Boston Bruins vs. Montreal Canadiens

Outlook: The Canadiens will get in the Bruins' heads, they always do.  There's just something about this rivalry that favors Montreal after decades of dominance.  With that said, Boston is far and away the better team.  The Habs' aura can only go so far in this one before the Bruins' talent takes control.  Boston in 6.

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. New York Rangers

Outlook: The Penguins blew two and three-goal leads to the Columbus Blue Jackets to lose games in the first round.  They nearly blew a four-goal lead in the third period of Game 6, but the Jackets' comeback attempt fell just short.  Pittsburgh's inconsistency will catch up them when it plays a team with more talent that the CBJ, which encompasses most of the other playoff teams and includes the New York Rangers.  New York in 7.

Western Conference


4.18.2014

Easter Egg Hunting for a Win

Three of the standings top-five winless entering break


Of the three late season contenders in 2013, Jimmie Johnson
(left) and Matt Kenseth (center) are winless despite being
in the top-five in the standings.  Meanwhile, Kevin Harvick
(right) has two wins but sits in 22nd place. (Getty)
Ok, sorry, that the title isn't 100% politically correct.  Children, and adults for that matter, of any faith can certainly participate in an Egg Hunt in the spring.  Let's be honest, the inner kid in us always finds that kind of a treasure hunt to be fun.  However, to be fair, NASCAR takes off this weekend every year specifically in recognition of the Easter holiday, so the Easter Egg Hunt itself is applicable to the article.

The first break of the year gives drivers the opportunity to assess their season after eight races and figure out where they stand in comparison to the field.  With the new Chase format, winning is the key to success.  A win more or less guarantees a driver a Chase spot this postseason.

Despite that emphasis, some of the most consistent drivers have been those that have failed to find victory lane so far.  Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson all sit in the top-five in the standings despite not having any wins.  Meanwhile, Kevin Harvick is 22nd as the only driver with multiple wins.

It's assumed that the winless drivers racing with consistency will inevitably pick up a win at some point.  But, this is racing and that's not necessarily a valuable assumption.  Here's a look at several of the winless drivers and their current standing on the season: