Sports Section Syndicated – March 13, 2008
The March 13th edition of Sports Section Syndicated is headed by an unbelievable occurrence going on in… spring training?
Tyler Kepner of the NYTimes: Two of his players and two of his coaches were ejected Wednesday, but Yankees Manager Joe Girardi insisted his team had not been looking for a fight. In the visiting dugout after Round 2 of a bruising bout with the Tampa Bay Rays, Girardi calmly explained that only one thing upset him… The Yankees’ Shelley Duncan slid spikes high into the Rays’ Akinori Iwamura, above… “I’m upset that my catcher’s having surgery today,” he said…. The broken right wrist of Francisco Cervelli, the minor leaguer bowled over by Elliot Johnson last Saturday, is still on Girardi’s mind. Now the Rays have their own rallying point in this oddly intense spring training rivalry… Shelley Duncan did not injure Akinori Iwamura with a spikes-high slide at second base Wednesday, but to Rays Manager Joe Maddon, that was beside the point. Maddon saw malicious intent from Duncan, who gave Iwamura a small cut on his knee…. “In Tampa, that play you saw was a good, hard baseball play,” Maddon said, referring to the play that injured Cervelli. “What you saw today was the definition of a dirty play. There’s no room for that in our game. It’s contemptible. It’s wrong. It’s borderline criminal. I can’t believe they did that.”
David Moore of The Dallas Morning News: Jerry Stackhouse wondered why every guard with a pulse got the chance to start except him. It bothered Stackhouse. But the veteran swallowed his pride, bit his tongue and waited for coach Avery Johnson to turn to him. The Mavericks haven’t lost since.
Frank Isola of NY Daily News: The rivalry that gave us Jeff Van Gundy clutching Alonzo Mourning‘s leg has been reduced to Pat Riley trying to salvage his reputation and Isiah Thomas hanging onto James Dolan‘s leg for dear life… Where have you gone, Larry Johnson and Tim Hardaway? Beginning in 1997, the Knicks and Miami Heat banged heads for four straight years in the playoffs, staging 24 epic postseason games. It was fierce, competitive and occasionally bloody… Now, Knicks-Heat is just bloody awful.
John Hollinger of ESPN.com: I’ll repeat for emphasis: the 20th time in a row. The Rockets’ improbable winning streak is tied for the second-longest in NBA history, trailing only the 1971-72 Lakers’ 33 straight for the all-time record (the 1970-71 Milwaukee Bucks also won 20 straight)… As far as winning streaks go, this one could hardly have been more unexpected. Remember, the Rockets were 15-16 on New Year’s Day; now they’re 44-20. They’ve won eight straight without All-Star center Yao Ming, whose absence was expected by many to submarine their playoff hopes. And for the most part, the wins have not been lucky one-point escapes but a series of impressive blowouts… Even on a rough night, Houston was in control by the end. In fact, the Rockets narrowly missed out on an NBA record when Atlanta’s Marvin Williams dunked in the final seconds, costing the Rockets an 11th straight win by double digits.
Helene Elliot of the LA Times: Great fun, these UCLA comebacks… A 13-point deficit against Michigan State erased in a 68-63 victory Nov. 20… An 18-point deficit against Davidson obliterated in a 75-63 runaway Dec. 8… Down eight to Michigan in the second half Dec. 22, nearly forgotten after a 69-54 rout… Down seven to Oregon on Jan. 24, before rising up to win, 80-75, at Eugene… And then, last week’s double drama… The Bruins trailed Stanford most of the game last Thursday before rallying for a 77-67 overtime victory, helped by their wits and a controversial foul on the Cardinal’s Lawrence Hill that put Darren Collison at the free-throw line near the end of regulation… After trailing California by 11 points three times in the second half Saturday, the Bruins scratched out an 81-80 victory on an arching shot by Josh Shipp that sent Pauley Pavilion into a tizzy… Each of those games was terrific theater… Each of those games was tough on the nerves… “We can’t let it happen again,” Collison said firmly.
Dan Steinberg of the D.C. Sports Bog: Greetings from courtside at Madison Square Garden, where Notre Dame is having a morning shootaround and Rich Chvotkin is already set up and ready to go. Camille Powell and I will be blogging from up here all day, while Adam Kilgore and Eric Prisbell should be checking in from Charlotte… A few people have asked why I never run Las Vegas Consultants’s complete college basketball rankings. As mentioned previously, I don’t really see the point, since college basketball polls don’t really decide anything, but since there’s interest this seems as good a time as any. Remember, these are compiled by Las Vegas Sports Consultants, a grop that advises Nevada sports books, and are based on assessments of team strength, not betting patterns. The books themselves will adjust to allow for all that… Vegas sees Purdue, Drake, Davidson, Vanderbilt and BYU as the most overrated teams in the country, and has Washington State, Clemson, Marquette, West Virginia and Kansas State among a host of highly underrated teams… Personally, I always like to pick a program with a strong pedigree that’s only sixth or seventh in the Vegas odds to win it all as my national champion, for optimum bracket success possibilities. Right now, possibilities include Louisville, Georgetown or Texas.