Under Further Review –
Canuck Conundrum – As much as it is easy to point the finger at the general manager when you look at the Canucks never-ending malaise, isn’t it time the microscope gets pointed at the owner? The buck ultimately stops with the owner because he’s the guy signing the cheques and rubber-stamping all major decisions.
It’s Francesco Aquilini who has chosen to go the past year without a club president. It’s Francesco Aquilini who has approved the hiring of a rookie president, a rookie GM and two rookie coaches in succession. He’s the one who has stood by and done nothing when top coaches like Joel Quenneville, Barry Trotz and Alain Vigneault have become available. Ken Holland leaves Detroit to go to Edmonton and he sits on the sidelines and watches it happen.
The question becomes – how hard does the owner want to win? If he is unwilling to make any bold moves and buck up when opportunity knocks, then you are destined to mediocrity and that’s exactly where the Canucks find themselves.
Cold Cuts – The NHL has to be embarrassed by the officiating in this year’s playoffs. The referees who called the match penalty that injured Joe Pavelski and sent Vegas to the exits have not been assigned any more games. Kevin Sutherland basically changed the momentum in the Carolina-Washington series. He only called a two minute penalty on Warren Foegele when he crushed TJ Oshie and broke his collarbone. Colorado got hosed in game seven versus San Jose. The horse-bleep offside call killed the Avs chances. Boston opened with a win against Carolina in the Eastern Conference final thanks to a series of bad calls in the third period that gifted the Bruins the game.
Nice performance by Brad Marchand after the series finale against Columbus. We all know he’s a jerk on the ice. Here he was after the game, doing his best Marshawn Lynch impression.
I am starting to agree with the increasing number of hockey fans who think it’s time for Don Cherry to give it up. It seems like Ron MacLean is having to finish half his sentences for him. It’s a little sad to watch.
It certainly looks like San Jose is a team of destiny. They have survived two game seven’s and look like they are on a mission to win it for the two Joe’s – Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton.
You had to feel a little sorry for the Colorado Avalanche. Nathan McKinnon was a tour de force throughout the playoffs, then in game seven against San Jose, he injures his shoulder and had to miss a long stretch. He returned to the game but could barely hold the stick, let alone shoot. Mikko Rantanen was playing on one leg. When you lose two studs like that, it’s pretty hard to compete.
Make no mistake, this Avalanche team will be back. One mock draft has them picking Kirby Dach and Alex Newhook with their two first round picks in the upcoming entry draft. Look out if they can add two players like that to their current roster.
Every year in the playoffs, there’s always certain players who break out and put themselves on the map. One player who’s doing that this year is Blues centre Robert Thomas. Very smooth puck handler. Smart and crafty. He’s been playing a big role in the Blues success so far.
Putin on a Show – Russian President Vladimir Putin recently scored eight goals in an exhibition game reportedly involving former Russian pros and former NHL players. Checking Putin was apparently not advised since it may have involved an unexpected trip to the Gulag. Watch the video and see for yourself. It looks like they are playing in slow motion. Make sure you watch until the end when Vlad trips over the red carpet.
Miracle at Anfield – This was the week that was in Champions League play, a week that will go down in the annals of soccer. The path for Liverpool and Tottenham to the June 1 final was absolutely shocking. Liverpool was without its top two players and down 3-0 to Barcelona yet rose from the dead and fired in four second half goals to advance. Tottenham trailed Ajax of Amsterdam 3-nil at halftime, a team that had upset Real Madrid and Juventus. Playing at Ajax, Hotspur scored three times in the second half to win the aggregate on away goals. Two crazy games in two days with wildly unexpected results. Who knows what will happen in the final?
El Batto Crappo – The June Swoon has come early for the Blue Jays. Their bats should be burned in a dumpster fire. The Jays were held hitless the first time through the batting order 15 times in their first 37 games this season. That’s hard to do. They have a league high 26.7 strikeout rate and their contact rate of 73.4 percent is the second lowest in the majors.
In the recent three-game sweep at the hands of the Twins, the Jays were outscored 20-to-1, they were outhit 38-to-11, out-homered 7-to-1 and to cap it off, they made four errors. The Jays are borderline unwatchable.
Seahawk Goodbyes – It’s always sad to see players who made themselves great by sheer hard work and determination have to say goodbye. That was the case this week in Seattle when the Seahawks released injured veterans Doug Baldwin and Kam Chancellor. They were basically doing both of them a favour in releasing them now so they can collect salary and injury benefits.
After the dust settled from the NFL draft, you can’t help but think the Seahawks made the right call on Frank Clark. Would you rather have Clark and four draft picks or the newly signed Ziggy Ansah and eleven draft picks? That’s an easy answer.
Show Me Time – The Raptors and 76’ers are headed to game seven on Sunday and it’s clearly time for the Raptors to step up and grab the opportunity. It’s the biggest game in club history. If Kevin Durant is out for any length of time for the Warriors, the NBA title may suddenly be wide open for the taking.
Derby Bonanza – The post-race disqualification of apparent wire-to-wire champion Maximum Security led to an absolutely stunning victory for Country House at this year’s Kentucky Derby. The final decision took a half hour and it marked an historic moment in the history of the Run for the Roses. Never before had the winner been disqualified.
The result created some big-money payouts. The $2 exacta dished out a whopping $3,009.60, the $1 trifecta produced $11,475.30, and the $1 superfecta topped them all with an astounding $51,400.10. Just for reference, that $1 superfecta payout absolutely blows the 2018 mark — $19,618.20 — out of the water. It is shy of the 2017 total, however, which went for more than $75,000 due in part to the low odds on the top three horses in that race. So if you do the math, a $20 bet on the trifecta would have netted you a cool $229,506.00.
The Story of Steve Dalkowski – Left-hander Stephen Louis Dalkowski Jr., nicknamed Dalko, has been called the hardest throwing pitcher in baseball history. Some baseball historians claim his fastball could reach 125 mph. Since no radar guns were available at games to measure the speed of his pitches precisely, the actual top speed of his pitches remains unknown. Regardless of its actual speed, his fastball earned him the nickname “White Lightning”. Such was his reputation.
Screenwriter and film director Ron Shelton played in the Baltimore Orioles minor league organization soon after Dalkowski. His 1988 film Bull Durham features a character named “Nuke” LaLoosh (played by Tim Robbins) who is based loosely on the tales Shelton was told about Dalkowski. Brendan Fraser’s character in the film The Scout is loosely based on him as well. In 1970, Pat Jordan of Sports Illustrated wrote, “Inevitably, the stories outgrew the man, until it was no longer possible to distinguish fact from fiction. But, no matter how embellished, one fact always remained – Dalkowski struck out more batters and walked more batters per nine-inning game than any professional pitcher in baseball history.
During a typical season in 1960, while pitching in the California League, Dalkowski struck out 262 batters and walked 262 in 170 innings. In comparison, Randy Johnson currently holds the major league record for strikeouts per nine innings in a season with 13.41. In separate games, Dalkowski struck out 21 batters, and walked 21 batters.
Because a pitcher is generally considered wild if he averages four walks per nine innings, a pitcher of average repertoire who consistently walked as many as nine men per nine innings would not normally be considered a prospect. But such was the allure of Dalkowski’s explosive arm that the Orioles gave him chance after chance to harness his “stuff”, knowing that if he ever managed to control it, he would be a great weapon.
Pitching for the Kingsport (Tennessee) Orioles on August 31, 1957 in Bluefield, West Virginia, Dalkowski struck out 24 Bluefield hitters in a single minor league game, yet issued 18 walks, and threw six wild pitches. Dalkowski pitched a total of 62 innings in 1957, struck out 121 (averaging 18 strikeouts per game), but won only once because he walked 129 and threw 39 wild pitches. Estimates of Dalkowski’s top pitching speed abound. Cal Ripken Sr. guessed that he threw up to 115 miles per hour.
Dalkowski’s greatest legacy may be the number of anecdotes (some more believable than others) surrounding his pitching ability. He was said to have thrown a pitch that tore off part of a batter’s ear. Some observers believed that this incident made Dalkowski even more nervous and contributed further to his wildness. Another story says that in 1960 at Stockton, California he threw a pitch that broke umpire Doug Harvey’s mask in three places, knocking him 18 feet back and sending him to a hospital for three days with a concussion. Dalkowski once won a $5 bet with teammate Herm Starrette who said that he could not throw a baseball through a wall. Dalkowski warmed up and then moved 15 feet away from the wooden outfield fence. His first pitch went right through the boards. On another bet, Dalkowski threw a ball over a fence 440 feet away.
His alcoholism and violent behavior off the field caused him problems during his career and after his retirement. After he retired from baseball, he spent many years as an alcoholic, making a meager living as a manual laborer. Dalkowski died in 1994 of a brain aneurysm, penniless and suffering from alcohol-induced dementia.
The Great Les Paul – We leave you this week with a tribute to the immortal guitar great Les Paul. Here he is with his old student Steve Miller on the night of Les’ 90th birthday. Steve’s dad had one of the first tape recorders and taped Les at a supper club in Milwaukee. As the story goes, Les came back to the Miller’s house to listen to the recordings and it was the start of a long friendship with the family and young Steve. Les Paul died in 2009 at the age of 94.
For more on the amazing life and career of Les Paul, click on the following link.