Monday, April 02, 2007

Around the Horn of Sports [J. Mark English]

First off, Happy Passover. This is a special religious week, so during this time remember the sacrifices of others, especially the men and women serving abroad to protect our freedoms at home. Without them, we could not enjoy the sports that we take for granted everyday.

That being said, lets move on to the "wide world of sports". We look to baseball first. Anybody crack up a box of cracker jacks today? Or have a hot dog? Or just take the time to smell the green grass, knowing that summer is only just around the corner now that baseball is back? As David mentioned, both the Yankees and the Mets won their openers. The Mets looked impressive, and won in businessmen like fashion. They were precise, cool, calculating in their methodical approach to beating their nemesis from last years playoffs.

Meanwhile, at Yankee Stadium, the Yanks first honored Cory Lidle in a moving ceremony. The won despite of Carl Pavano, and knocked around ex-Met Scott Kazmir, to the tune of 9-5. A strange day at the stadium, because there was no "number 51" to be found on the roster. The bleacher creatures after their traditional cheers for the starters, finished by cheering "bring back Bernie." Will Bernie Williams ever wear the pinstripes again? Time will tell.

Overall, its just great to have baseball back. Let the long marathon begin.

As the baseball marathon slowly starts up, hockey is racing to a close. Last night the New York Rangers devoured the Toronto Maple Leafs 7-2. They dominated every facet of the game. The Rangers have played like the best team in Hockey over the past few weeks. Consider this: A remarkable 12-2-3 run over these past 17 games has not only lifted the Rangers back into the playoff picture but has made them one of the league's hottest teams at this critical time of year. Three games remain in the regular season, and the Rangers are playing as well as they have performed at any moment since training camp opened back in September.

If the Rangers season was ever in doubt...the New Jersey Devils season has not been in doubt. Oddly enough, check out the move that was made on the other side of the Hudson River: Devils CEO/President/General Manager Lou Lamoriello has taken over as head coach, replacing Claude Julien, the team has announced....Lamoriello previously assumed the role of head coach on Dec. 19, 2005 through the end of the 2006 playoffs, and led the team to a 32-14-4 (.680) mark and a first-place division finish....New Jersey completed the largest come-from-behind Division Championship in NHL history (19 pts.)....The Devils currently lead the Atlantic Division with a record of 47-24-8 and 102 points, and clinched their 10th-straight playoff berth on March 20.

Go figure...The Devs had a similar situation occur last year when Larry Robinson abruptly stepped down as head coach, and Lou was left to step in.

Elsewhere in sports, tonight Ohio State will take on Florida in the NCAA basketball championship showdown. I had Ohio State winning the whole thing from the start. Can Oden stay out of foul trouble for once in this tournament? The two teams faced each other back in December, and Florida romped. But this Ohio State team has gelled and matured over the past few months and are winners of 22 straight games. I think it should be a great game. We'll see what the results will be.

Enjoy the games folks. I know I will.

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