04/24/14 The Heater
They are not too bad. They are not very good.
They are mediocre.
So far, they have played 22 games. They have won 10 and lost 12. That's about as mediocre as it gets.
This is where the Rays sit after dropping two of three to a Twins team that's pretty mediocre itself.
None of this is surprising.
The pitching staff is in tatters, busted apart by injuries. Some days the Rays hit, some days they don't. Some days they pitch, most days of late, they don't....
04/22/14 Lightning Strikes
Late in the second period Tuesday night and Lightning superstar Steven Stamkos was zooming all alone into the Montreal zone.
As the puck worked its way toward him, Stamkos cocked his stick and was about to unleash a wicked one-timer that you just know was going to end up in the back of the net.
Instead, Stamkos' stick snapped in half and the puck strayed harmlessly into the corner. Stamkos furiously whipped what was left of his splintered weapon against the boards....
04/21/14 Lightning Strikes
Hold on. Wait a second. Stop!
Just give us a doggone moment, will you?
If you're a Lightning fan, isn't that what you're thinking right now?
Throw out the first three games. Give us a do-over. Let's start these playoffs over again.
This time, you swear, you'll be ready.
Well, that's exactly what Lightning coach Jon Cooper is thinking, too.
"It's unbelievable how fast everything happens," Cooper said....
04/20/14 Lightning Strikes
Maybe it wouldn't have mattered in the end. Maybe the Lightning would have lost anyway.
After all, it was only one call in a 60-minute hockey game. There was plenty of time before and a lot of time after to see to it that one call would not make a difference.
One call rarely is the sole reason a team wins or loses any game, and if you're good enough, you should be able to overcome a lousy referee....
04/19/14 Lightning Strikes
MONTREAL — Desperate teams call for desperate measures.
And right now the Lightning is one desperate hockey team.
So here is the desperate measure:
Turn to another goalie. Turn to the kid. Turn to Kristers Gudlevskis.
Hey, it's worth a shot.
What's the worst that can happen? The Lightning loses again? That it has the exact same result as the past two games?
Have you watched the first two games? Nothing else is working. The Lightning is down 2-0 in this best-of-seven playoff series to the Canadiens, and time is quickly running out to salvage this series and this season....
04/18/14 Lightning Strikes
What does the Lightning do now?
Aside from signing Gretzky, Lemieux and Orr and putting them in a time machine, that is.
Ankle deep in water to start Friday, the Lightning is now waist deep in rising tides. The 2014 playoff run is about go under, over before it really even got started.
The Lightning is now down 2-0 and heading off to a hostile building in Montreal for Games 3 and 4....
04/16/14 Lightning Strikes
Don't let the closeness of the score fool you.
Don't be misled that it took extra time to determine a winner.
And don't for a second think the Lightning was anywhere near the vicinity of being good enough to win Wednesday night's Game 1 of their playoff series against the Canadiens.
The Lightning got exactly what it deserved. And if it doesn't soon figure out that playoff hockey is not the same as regular-season hockey, it will be getting something else it deserves: an early start to its summer vacation....
04/15/14 Lightning Strikes
TAMPA — There's no reason to believe the Lightning has much of a chance in these Stanley Cup playoffs.
It is starting a backup goalie who has looked every bit like a backup goalie for most of the season.
It is starting a bunch of rookies whose only NHL playoff experience involves a couch and a remote control.
Even the guys who have been to the playoffs — veterans such as Steven Stamkos and Teddy Purcell and Eric Brewer and Victor Hedman — haven't been there in a few years....
We all know the famous records and accomplishments in sports. There's Barry Bonds and his home run records (career, 762; season, 73). There's Emmitt Smith's all-time NFL rushing mark (18,355 yards). There's Brett Favre's touchdown passes record (508). But there are quite a few remarkable statistics that are not officially records, yet might be as surprising and impressive as any official record. Here are five feats that are as fun as they are remarkable:...
04/09/14 Lightning Strikes
TAMPA — This could be bad. Real bad. Like season-is-over bad.
The playoffs haven't even started and already it feels as if the Lightning is on the brink of elimination.
That's how it feels when you see starting goalie Ben Bishop gingerly skating off the ice. That's how it feels when you learn Bishop is out with what his agent says is an elbow injury.
He might miss a week, maybe two, maybe more. The Lightning isn't exactly sure. He might miss just long enough for the team to get bounced out of the first round of the playoffs....
Lovie Smith wasn't available Tuesday afternoon at One Buc Place. He was probably trying to see which name — Blake, Teddy or Johnny — looked best on a nameplate above a Bucs locker.
No matter. There were plenty of others who spent the afternoon bragging about the new Bucs coach.
Doug Martin, Vincent Jackson and newly-demoted quarterback Mike Glennon went on and on about Smith. Lavonte David called him cool. Even kicker Connor Barth was saying how great it was to have Smith in town....
04/06/14 TV and Radio
Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.
Funniest rip job
Turner Sports tried something interesting Saturday during the Final Four.
TBS carried the two semifinal games with the No. 1 announcing crew of Jim Nantz, Greg Anthony and Steve Kerr.
But the games were simulcast on TNT and truTV with announcers geared toward each team. Turner called it the "TeamCast." For example, Saturday's Florida-UConn game was televised on TNT with announcers giving a Gators slant, while those calling the game with a UConn perspective were on truTV....
04/04/14 TV and Radio
Anyone who criticized Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy for missing the first two games of the season to attend the birth of his child is completely out of line. Talk-radio hosts Boomer Esiason and Mike Francesa each took shots at Murphy. Francesa said it was okay for Murphy to attend the actual birth but that he could have hired a nurse to tend to his wife for her recovery from a caesarean section. Esiason said if his wife were pregnant, he would have wanted her to have a C-section before the season started....
TAMPA — Good thing USF announced a new basketball coach Tuesday. Had it waited one more day, new athletic director Mark Harlan would have been out of suits to wear to the news conference.
"I'm down to the wire," said Harlan, who has been living on the edge and out of a suitcase since starting his job March 24. "This is my last one. This is it."
Of course, had this whole hiring thing been done right in the first place, Harlan wouldn't have run out of clothes. All this jazz would have been wrapped up a week ago....
03/31/14 The Heater
He wasn't even supposed to be here.
David Price was supposed to be on another mound Monday, in another city, on another team.
He could have been in Southern California or New York City. He probably should have been in Chicago or San Francisco or Texas.
No one thought he would be here. At Tropicana Field. In St. Petersburg. And, most of all, in a Rays uniform....