Blog Archives

Singing the Blues no more

Let the record show St. Louis’ Stanley Cup drought ended at 2241 Eastern Daylight Time, 12 June 2019.

That’s when the final siren went off in Boston’s TD Garden, ending the Blues’ 4-1 victory over the Bruins in game seven of this year’s Stanley Cup Final.

The Blues, the team which lost 12 consecutive Stanley Cup Finals games without a win in their first three seasons of existence, then waited 49 years to get back to the finals, took the Cup back to Missouri, where it arrived very early this morning at Lambert Airport.

This puts three NHL teams on the clock.

The Canucks and Sabres, two teams which came into the NHL three years after the Blues, Penguins, Flyers, Kings, North Stars (now the Dallas Stars) and Seals (ceased to exist after merging with the North Stars in 1978), now have gone the longest without winning a Stanley Cup.

Vancouver and Buffalo have been to the finals a combined five times. The Sabres lost in 1975 to the Flyers and ’99 to Dallas, while the Canucks fell in 1982 to the Islanders, ’94 to the Rangers and 2011 to the Bruins. Only the 2011 Canucks were within one win of the Cup, but they lost twice to the Bruins, game six in Boston and game seven in Vancouver, the latter sparking disgusting riots throughout British Columbia.

The other team on the clock is the Maple Leafs.

Toronto has won 13 Cups, second to Montreal’s 24, but the Leafs haven’t hoisted the 16-kilogram (35-pound) silver trophy since 1967, the last year of the “Original Six”. The Maple Leafs haven’t even reached the finals since 1967, losing in the semifinals on numerous occasions.

The Leafs’ futility is a running joke in the NHL, especially in Montreal, Boston, Ottawa and Buffalo, four cities which would root for a team captained by Donald Trump over the Leafs. Toronto hasn’t won a Cup since Lester Pearson was Canada’s Prime Minister, yet the Leafs are the NHL’s most valuable franchise, have some of the highest, if not the highest, ticket prices in North American professional sports, and have a season ticket waiting list rivaled by only the Packers and Redskins.

Toronto isn’t going to win a Cup until it gets rid of Mitch Marner and/or William Nylander for help on the blue line and a competent backup goaltender.

The Leafs’ defense is putrid. It stinks. Yet the Leafs went out and threw a crapload of money at John Tavares last year. Tavares is great, but how many scorers does a team need? This isn’t 1984 when the Oilers were winning games 10-3 and 12-5 on many nights. It isn’t 1998 when 1-0 games were as common as a cold, but the days of teams scoring 400 goals a year are long gone.

Fredrik Andersen isn’t that good to begin with, and he certainly can’t carry a team on his shoulders the way Patrick Roy, Martin Broedeur and Grant Fuht could in their heyday. The Leafs haven’t had one since Terry Sawchuk.

I can’t see Toronto doing a damn thing until the two things I mentioned above happened. Until then, it will be one and done in the playoffs for the next couple of years.

Vancouver and Buffalo? Please. They’re even more hopeless than the Leafs. If either makes the playoffs before 2022, I will be truly surprised.

Boston’s window may have slammed shut. Tukka Rask, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Zdeno Chara are near the end of the line.

As long as Tampa Bay, Nashville, Carolina, Florida, Arizona, Vegas, Dallas and Anaheim don’t get their grubby paws on the Cup, it won’t be too bad.

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The NHL needs to seriously realign when Seattle comes on board. The NFL model of eight divisions of four might work. This would be my setup:

–Seattle, Vancouver, San Jose, Colorado

–Anaheim, Arizona, Los Angeles, Vegas

—Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Minnesota

–Chicago, St. Louis, Dallas, Detroit

–Nashville, Carolina, Tampa Bay, Florida

–Washington, Philadelphia, Rangers, Islanders

–Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Columbus, New Jersey

–Boston, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto

Dividing the three New York City teams seems like blasphemy, but the Devils haven’t been in New York as long as the other two. And the Devils make more sense in a division with three other American teams. Toronto makes sense with Boston and Montreal, since the three have been rivals since the beginning of the NHL.

Detroit and Chicago should be in the same division. It’s silly they aren’t. I understand the Red Wings’ fear of playing more west coast games, but why they aren’t playing their oldest rival more often is silly.

The Flames and Oilers have been begging for more games vs. the Jets. The two Alberta teams would love Vancouver in their division, but the Canucks and the new team in Seattle not together doesn’t make sense. The only other way to slice it would be to put Seattle in with the Canucks, Flames and Oilers, then move a few other pieces around on the board.

The four southernmost teams deserve one another. Washington needs to be in a division with northeastern teams, not ones far south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

If the NHL wants four divisions of eight, here’s what I’d like to see:

–Vancouver, Seattle, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Colorado, Minnesota, St. Louis

–San Jose, Los Angeles, Anaheim, Arizona, Vegas, Dallas, Nashville, Columbus

–Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Florida, Tampa Bay, Carolina, Washington

–Boston, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Philadelphia, New Jersey, Islanders, Rangers

That’s enough hockey for now.

Blue Sunday night (and Monday)

I’ve been singing the blues since 2200 last night, at least as far as sports goes.

The Blues choked in their attempt to win their first Stanley Cup last night, losing 5-1 at home to the Bruins. The series goes back to Boston for the winner-take-all game seven Wednesday.

St. Louis has performed very well away from the Enterprise Center in the playoffs, winning 9 of 12. However, no team in the Stanley Cup Finals has lost game six at home, then recovered to win game seven on the road since the Maple Leafs in 1945, who lost to the Red Wings in Toronto, but somehow got back up and took the Cup at Detroit’s venerable Olympia.

The Blues became the third team this millennium to lose game six of the finals on home ice. The Devils blew it in 2001 and the Flames did it three years later. New Jersey bowed to the Avalanche in Denver, and Calgary choked against the Lightning, subjecting us to the ridiculous spectacle of the Cup being skated in Tampa by the home team.

Three other times since 1995 have the finals have reached game seven:

2003–the Devils and (Mighty) Ducks each fail to break through on the road. New Jersey has the good fortune of home ice advantage.

2006–the Hurricanes lose twice to the Oilers after taking a 3-1 series lead, but recover to win the Cup in Raleigh

2011–the Canucks and Bruins split the first six games, with neither team able to win away from home. In the seventh game, that changes, with Boston rolling 4-0 in Vancouver, prompting lawlessness in the streets of British Columbia.

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Meanwhile, about 800 miles down the Mississippi River, LSU’s 2019 baseball season came to a sorrowful conclusion.

The Bayou Bengals were swept in their super regional by Florida State. LSU blew a 4-0 lead in the first game and lost 6-4, and in the second, it erased a 4-0 deficit, only to lose 5-4 in 12 innings.

LSU’s season ended 40-25. There were some highs, like winning a series in Starkville, but some real lows, like being swept in Austin by a mediocre Texas team which finished last in the Big 12 and losing a series for the first time to Missouri.

The Seminoles are going to the College World Series in coach Mike Martin’s 40th and final season. Martin has won the most career games of any baseball coach in NCAA Division I, surpassing 2,000 earlier this year.

The Seminoles will be in Omaha for the 17th time under Martin, who succeeded the late, great Dick Howser when the latter left Tallahassee in late 1979 to become manager of the. Yankees and later the Royals. FSU also played in Omaha six times prior to Martin’s ascension. The Seminoles’ baseball stadium is fittingly named Mike Martin Field at Dick Howser Stadium.

For all their success in the regular season and early rounds of the postseason, the Seminoles have yet to claim the brass ring. Their 22 previous CWS appearances without a title are the most. By comparison, LSU didn’t make its first CWS until 1986 and has six titles in 18 appearances.

Martin’s plight resembles that of longtime FSU football coach Bobby Bowden, who came close season after season in the 1980s and early 1990s before winning two titles in 1993 and ’99. Bowden and Martin are good friends, and I bet Bobby will be in Omaha rooting on his former school.

I’ll never forget the 1998 CWS. I went to Omaha for the first time. In the first game of that year’s series. FSU lost 11-10 to Arizona State in a game marked by numerous errors and wild plays.

A reporter came back to the Rosenblatt Stadium press box with audio from Martin’s postgame press conference. The first words out of Martin’s mouth: “We stunk the dadgum cotton picking ballyard up!”

The Seminoles were eliminated two days later by Long Beach State. Martin was much more subdued and conciliatory after losing to the 49ers (aka Dirtbags).

In 1999, FSU reached the championship game, but lost to archrival Miami (from 1988-2002, there was a single CWS championship game). In 2000, the Seminoles were ousted by LSU, which went on to win its fifth title under Skip Bertman.

Another school which has been to Omaha plenty with nothing to show for it, Mississippi State, is going back. Also in the field are Louisville, Texas Tech, Michigan (first time since 1984), Auburn (first time since 1997) and Vanderbilt. Arkansas looks like it will round out the field, as the Razorbacks lead Ole Miss 7-1 in the fourth at Fayetteville in the decisive game of that super regional.

I’ll take Vanderbilt and Arkansas in an all-SEC championship series. And I’ll take the Razorbacks to overcome their heartbreak from last year’s championship series loss to Oregon State, which would bring Arkansas its first baseball national championship and first major sports title since basketball in 1994.

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Once the Blues fell behind 3-0 last night, I turned off live television and switched back to The Brady Bunch DVD collection. I’m halfway through season four. I’m going to rewatch them once I get through the entire series.

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I need to get my car washed. The bugs are bugging me big time. It looks horrible.

For those who live in a big city, you would be well advised to get an unlimited car wash plan. It will do wonders against the bugs in the summer and the snow, ice and grime in winter.

One good news for my car: my custom sunshade arrived today. It works great. The generic ones in Target (and Walmart, even though I no longer shop there) don’t fit my car. They are awful. No wonder they are #########################################################################

The United States plays its first match in the FIFA Women’s World Cup tomorrow in France. At least Hope Solo, Lauren Holliday and Sydney LeRoux are no longer on team. However, Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan and Carli Lloyd are, and those are three big reasons I’m rooting against the Americans.

Morgan is nowhere near the caliber of player former teammate Abby Wambach was, and certainly not in the same league as past greats Mia Hamm, Michelle Akers, Julie Foudy, Brandi Chastain, Kristine Lilly and Cindy Parlow.

The only reason Morgan is getting attention? She’s a sexpot. She posed in a bikini for the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition. So what?

Rapinoe is association football’s version of Collin Kaepernick, taking a knee during the Star-Spangled Banner to protest pay inequality in association football and the poor treatment of LQBT athletes like Rapinoe (and Wambach). If she wants to protest on her own time, that’s her business. I don’t give a darn if she’s a lesbian. That’s her privilege. However, she should not protest her country’s national anthem representing that country on an international stage. Rapinoe needs to pipe down during the competition. Save it for later.

Lloyd is nowhere near Hamm. Give it up already.

Solo is a crybaby. And she’s stupid for marrying a man, former Seahawks tight end Jerramy Stevens, who beat the piss out of her days before their wedding. This weekend, Solo opened her mouth and inserted her foot by saying US manager Jill Ellis chokes in pressure situations.

Last I checked, Ellis was the team’s manager in 2015 when Solo and the US won the World Cup. Therefore, Hope(less) Solo should shut up.

Of the current players, Julie (Johnston) Ertz would crack the starting XI in any era. But that’s it.

Personally, I’d like to see France, Germany or England win the Women’s World Cup. The jingoism of American broadcasters is sickening. That’s why I loved the 2018 Men’s World Cup–the Americans were nowhere to be found, and Fox had to actually cover the matches as neutral journalists, not as surreptitious cheerleaders for Uncle Sam.

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Have I bored you? If I have, I’m sorry. That’s it. For now.

Blues leave me red-faced

Herpes, malaria and AIDS spread from Raleigh to St. Louis.

The Blues clinched the Western Conference championship tonight with a 5-1 victory over the Sharks in St. Louis. That puts the Blues in the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1970, when St. Louis was swept by Boston, with Bobby Orr scoring 40 seconds into overtime of game four after he was tripped by Noel Picard. The picture of him flying through the air past a despondent Glenn Hall (lucky for Glenn, he started wearing a mask when he got to St. Louis, so his visage was unable to be captured on film) is one of the most iconic photos in all of sports.

By winning the conference championship, the Blues won the Clarence Campbell Bowl, named after longtime NHL president Clarence Campbell, the man in charge of the NHL when the Blues and five other teams came on board in 1967.

Last Thursday, Bruins captain Zdeno Charra treated the Prince of Wales Trophy like it was completely diseased when Boston completed its sweep of the Hurricanes in Raleigh.

I thought since the Blues were going to the final for the first time in 49 years, they would give their fans at the Enterprise Center something more to cheer about and skate the Campbell Bowl around the ice.

Nope.

Blues captain Victor Tarasenko and his mates treated the Campbell Bowl like it was the Prince of Wales’ Trophy equally evil twin. The Blues posed for a picture around the trophy, but nobody dared lay a finger on it.

PICK THE DAMN THING UP!

What, are the Blues blaming the Golden Knights’ loss in last year’s final on Deryk Engelland picking up the Campbell Bowl? In case the Blues (and Bruins) forgot, Alex Ovechkin PICKED UP the Prince of Wales Trophy, and his Capitals won the Stanley Cup.

The two years prior to that, Sidney Crosby picked up the Prince of Wales Trophy, but the Sharks and Predators avoided touching the Campbell Bowl. Guess who won the Stanley Cup each time? That’s right, the supposedly “jinxed” Penguins.

The Penguins have won the Prince of Wales Trophy six times. The one time their captain did NOT pick it up was 2008. Pittsburgh lost the final to Detroit. Crosby did pick it up the next year, and the Stanley Cup was soon back in Steeltown.

If the captains are that superstitious, then the NHL should stop presenting the trophies on the ice. Instead, just have the previous possessor of the trophy ship it to the current possessor.

I’m happy for my dear friends Larry and Lisa. Their Blues are finally going to play for the Stanley Cup after so much pain and so many close calls. Larry and I are also old enough to remember when the Blues almost moved to Saskatchewan, but were saved for Missouri by the NHL Board of Governors, who did not want to abandon a market with such loyal fans.

The Bucks sucked tonight. That is all I want to say about that. Then again, the winner of this series will be the Warriors’ sacrificial lamb.

Trophies carrying herpes?

Last night, the Bruins completed a four-game sweep of one of the teams in professional sports I despise the most, the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Bruins won the Eastern Conference championship and will await the Sharks or Blues in the Stanley Cup Finals. The Sharks were gifted a victory in game three Wednesday when Timo Meier committed a blatant hand pass to Erik Karlsson, who scored the winning goal in overtime.

By winning the Eastern Conference, the Bruins were awarded the Prince of Wales Trophy. The Trophy was originally unveiled in the 1920s and given to the team with the best regular season record in the NHL, and it stayed that way until the first expansion in 1967. Then, it went to the team from the Eastern Conference with the best regular season record from 1968-74 before it changed to the team with the best record from the Wales Conference from 1975-81.

In 1982, the Prince of Wales Trophy and its younger cousin, the Clarence Campbell Bowl, were changed to postseason trophies. The winner of the conferences by those names from 1982-83 were awarded the trophies, then when the NHL went back to Eastern and Western for the conference names in 1993-94, the East champion received the Prince of Wales and the West champion received the Campbell Bowl.

Zdeno Charra, the captain of the Bruins, did not touch the Prince of Wales Trophy when it was presented to the team on the ice in Raleigh. The team posed for a photo around the trophy but nobody dared lay a finger on it.

Charra pulled same stupid S**T in 2011 and 2013 when Boston won the Eastern Conference. There’s some asinine superstition that you shouldn’t touch the conference championship trophy, and only the Stanley Cup should be touched.

I have no earthly idea when the conference championship trophies were treated like they had malaria, herpes and AIDS all at once. I find it to be so F***ING STUPID that I want to throw something at my TV every time I see players like Charra, Steven Stamkos, Dustin Brown, Jonathan Toews, Logan Couture and many others treat the conference championship trophies like they should be flushed down the toilet.

When the Islanders won the Wales Conference championship in 1982, ’83 and ’84, captain Denis Potvin picked up the Prince of Wales Conference trophy. In 1983 and ’84, the Islanders clinched the conference championship at Nassau Coliseum, and the Islanders had the unmitigated gall to skate the Prince of Wales Trophy around the ice, even though they won the Stanley Cup previously.

The Islanders swept the Canucks in the ’82 finals and the Oilers the next year. Yes, the Islanders lost to the Oilers in the ’84 finals, but Edmonton had the better team, and the Islanders were hard hit by injuries. FYI, Wayne Gretzky picked up the Clarence Campbell Bowl in 1984 in Minnesota after the Oilers swept the North Stars.

The last three teams prior to the Bruins who won the Eastern Conference–the Penguins in 2016 and ’17, and the Capitals last year–all went on to win the Stanley Cup after their respective captains picked up the Prince of Wales Trophy. And these were two of the biggest names to ever play in the NHL, Sidney Crosby for the Penguins and Alex Ovechkin for the Capitals.

In 2016 and ’17, the Sharks and Predators refused to touch the Clarence Campbell Bowl. Last year, the Golden Knights decided the Campbell Bowl was a fine reward, and picked it up, the first time since Jarome Iginla of the Flames did so in 2004. It was the first time both conference championship trophies were picked up since 2002, when the Red Wings (Campbell) and Hurricanes (Prince of Wales) did so.

Crosby did not pick up the Prince of Wales Trophy in 2008, and the Penguins lost in the finals to the Red Wings. The next year, Crosby DID pick up the Prince of Wales, and the Penguins beat the Red Wings. Crosby should have followed the lead of his owner, Mario Lemieux, who picked up the trophy in 1991 and ’92 and then led Pittsburgh to the Stanley Cup.

It would be karma if the Western Conference champion picked up the Campbell Bowl and beat the Bruins. If the Blues win the West, I’m betting they do, because it will be their first trip to the final since 1970. If it’s the Sharks, I bet they treat the Campbell Bowl like herpes.

NHL teams should embrace the conference trophies. It means they have won TWELVE playoff games. That’s something special, I don’t care what sport it is. It should be celebrated.

Robert Kraft has yet to avoid hoisting the Lamar Hunt Trophy after his Patriots win the AFC championship. New England has won a lot more Super Bowls (6) than lost (2) since 2001. So why does Charra not follow the lead of the local football team?

Not jamming with jalapenos, plus the dread of a Sharks-Hurricanes Stanley Cup fina

What is America’s obsession with jalapeño flavored stuff? I understand japalenos on Mexican dishes–even though I don’t like japalenos on my nachos, tacos or enchiladas–and jalapeño poppers at fast food and fast casual restaurants such as Sonic and Buffalo Wild Wings, but it has gone overboard.

Case in point: jalapeño flavored M&Ms.

Just the thought of it makes me want to throw up.

Since when do chocolate and jalapeño go together?

M&Ms has come out with three new flavors, and stores across the country, including Kansas City, Salina and Hays, have large displays featuring them.

English toffee is delicious. I bought a bag at the grocery store in Hays a few minutes ago. Heath and 5th Avenue, both of which feature toffee, are among my favorite chocolate bars. Heath pieces used to be the only kind of candy I would get in a Dairy Queen Blizzard, although I’ve expanded my tastes to include many other flavors.

Thai Coconut? Mixed emotions. If it were just coconut, I would dive right in, because Mounds, which is dark chocolate and coconut, is another of my favorite candy bars. But the “Thai” part concerns me. I can eat the Thai curry wings at Buffalo Wild Wings, but many times, Thai is very hot. I’ll pass unless someone else offers them to me.

Jalapeño? Don’t get me started.

No. No way. I’m not touching that one with a four-meter pole.

My mother might like jalapeno M&Ms. She is a sucker for anything jalapeno. My father, however, has much more sense and avoids jalapenos on anything except nachos at a restaurant.

The craze to put out jalapeno flavored anything is similar to the sriracha craze of five years ago. Buffalo Wild Wings had a sriracha-flavored sauce out for a limited time in 2014, and I told Liz or Lisa or whomever was taking care of me to make sure I didn’t get stupid and order it. I didn’t.

I flat refuse to order anything with sriracha or jalapeno. I also will not touch the mango habanero sauce at Buffalo Wild Wings. I tried it once six years ago and swore NEVER AGAIN. I also tried the hottest sauce at BWW in 2008, and I said NEVER AGAIN. I can take heat, but not ridiculous amounts.

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The NHL is down to its last four teams in quest of the Stanley Cup.

I said after the first round I was hoping for a Bruins-Blues final. That is still a possibility.

Boston plays Carolina in the East and St. Louis faces San Jose in the West, with the winners matching up for the most treasured prize in North American professional sports.

I’d like to see the Blues reach the finals for the first time since 1970 for my two friends who love the Blues, Larry and Lisa. I’m not a fan of Boston’s sports teams, but I can tolerate the Bruins much more than most NHL teams, since they are an Original Six team.

San Jose? The Sharks are the reason why the Minnesota North Stars left for Dallas, so I have a natural disgust for them.

The Gund brothers became majority owners of the North Stars in 1978 after their franchise, the Cleveland Barons, were forced to merge with the North Stars by then-NHL president John Ziegler, since both were teetering on the verge of bankruptcy. Ziegler was unwilling to abandon Minnesota, the most hockey-mad state in America, and frankly, neither were the NHL’s Board of Governors. After all, the North Stars were still drawing strong despite some very bad teams in the 1970s, while the Barons couldn’t draw flies during two seasons in northeast Ohio.

Now how does this tie into the Bay Area? The Barons originally began life as the Oakland Seals during the 1967 expansion which brought the North Stars, Blues, Penguins, Flyers and Kings into the NHL as well. The Seals were mismanaged throughout their nine seasons in northern California, at one point falling under the ownership of gigantic douchebag Charles O. Finley, the same many who screwed Kansas City royally by turning the Athletics into a clown show before moving them to Oakland after the 1967 season.

The Gunds became majority owners of the merged North Stars-Barons franchise, and by the late 1980s, they were itching to get out of the Twin Cities.

They did so by selling the North Stars to another turd, Norman Green, and Ziegler and Board of Governors granted the Gunds an expansion team, the Sharks, which played their first two seasons at the Cow Palace in the San Francisco suburb of Daly City before what is known colloquially as the “Shark Tank” opened in 1993. (Ironically, many in San Jose are scared the Sharks will move to San Francisco when the new arena built for the Warriors opens later this year, but that’s not likely).

Green was disillusioned by the North Stars’ home, the Met Center in suburban Bloomington, a stone’s throw from the former home of the Twins and Vikings, Metorpolian Stadium, which was vacated in 1981 and torn down in 1985 to make way for the Mall of America.

Of course, Green did what any piece of feces owner does, he begged the taxpayers of Minnesota to build him a new arena. When the people of Minnesota said no, he took the franchise to that noted hockey hotbed, Dallas, which was desperate to have a winning franchise, since the Mavericks were the worst team in the NBA at that time, several years before sugar daddy Mark Cuban cam on the scene

The same stubbornness of Minnesota voters nearly cost the state its other three franchises.

The Timberwolves were all set to move to New Orleans in 1994 before David Stern blocked the deal due to the shady finances of the ownership group who wanted to move the franchise from the headwaters of the Mississippi River to its mouth. The Minnesota legislature approved major improvements to the Target Center, and the Timberwolves have never threatened to leave Minnesota since.

The Twins were all but set to be contracted by Bud Selig following the 2001 season. Carl Pohlad, who owned the franchise at the time, was all but willing to give up and take the money. But the state said no, and courts within the state blocked MLB from contracting any team. The voters of Minnesota were chastened, and in 2010, Target Field opened.

The Vikings were all but gone to Los Angeles in the middle of the 2000s. Even though the Metrodome was built for them, not the Twins, they complained long and loud once Target Field opened, and the carping became worse after the Metrodome’s roof collapsed in December 2010, forcing the Vikings to move two home games (one to Detroit, one to the University of Minnesota). The Vikings got their new stadium three years ago, and it has already hosted Super Bowl LII and the 2019 Final Four.

I’m not a fan of California hockey. On the other hand, I can understand why the NHL wants to be in the Bay Area, given its population and disposable income. Plus, the Kings needed an in-state rival, although the Ducks came along two years later and gave the Kings one much, much closer to home.

As for the Hurricanes, I hate that the Hartford Whalers, who had the second best logo in all of professional sports (behind the Milwaukee Brewers’ “ball-in-glove’) left for a place which knew absolutely zilch about hockey, a place where it is impossible to play hockey outdoors (except in the winter in the far western part of North Carolina which is colder due to the higher elevation of the Appalachians), a place where anyone who isn’t following basketball during the winter is, frankly, out to lunch.

Fred Demarest, someone I knew from LSU and someone I like a lot, is an associate athletic director at North Carolina State. He has ditched the Devils, the team he grew up following in New Jersey and at William Paterson College, for the Hurricanes. I’ve had to chide him about this. I can understand him wanting to support the team which plays in the place he lives, but the HURRICANES? The slimy Hurricanes, who left Hartford despite strong support?

I do not believe hockey belongs in the south. NO. St. Louis and Washington is as far south as it should extend. I don’t care if Dallas/Fort Worth has 10 million people in the area. NO. And why does it belong in Raleigh, where Duke and North Carolina are king and always will be?

I was nauseous when Dallas won the Stanley Cup in Buffalo in 1999 on a goal which shouldn’t have counted. I was apoplectic when Tampa Bay won the Cup in 2004, and again when Carolina won it in 2006.

If it’s San Jose and Carolina in the finals, I will really be sick to my stomach. Boston and San Jose? GO BRUINS. St. Louis vs. either Eastern team? GO BLUES.

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I was scared the Bucks were going to choke it away after losing to Boston by 22 points on their home floor almost two weeks ago.

Milwaukee hasn’t lost since, and now it is in the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 2001, and only the third time since last reaching the NBA Finals in 1974.

Rest in peace, John Havlicek, I’m sorry I didn’t get to see you play when you were doing your thing with the Celtics.

The Bucks, who won 116-91 last night to clinch the series vs. Boston in five, plays either Toronto or Philadelphia in the next round. Milwaukee has a bad history in the playoffs against the 76ers, but in many of the previous series between the clubs, the Bucks were the underdog.

My good friend Bill Franques and I are huge Bucks fans. He remembered the 1974 finals, in which the Bucks won Game 6 in double overtime in the Boston Garden on a skyhook by Kareem in the closing seconds, only to lose 102-87 in Game 7 at Milwaukee. That left Bill with a strong antipathy for the Celtics. I don’t have such an antipathy for the Celtics, but I badly wanted the Bucks to win this series.

Just had a Boston Celtics trivia question at Golden Q. It regarded Moses Malone and his stupid comment during the 1981 Finals, which he said after the Rockets won Game 4 91-86 that he could get four guys off the street from his hometown of Petersburg, Virginia and beat the Celtics.

Alrighty then. The Rockets weren’t going to beat Bird, Tiny Archibald and Robert Parish with the team they had, which was Malone, ancient Calvin Murphy and Rudy Tomjanovich, spare parts (Mike Dunleavy, Billy Paultz, Tom Henderson), a servicable player who would never emerge into stardom (Robert Reid), so what made him think lesser men could do it?

Five years later, the Rockets had a better team, led by Ralph Sampson and Hakeem (then Akeem) Olajuwon. But the Celtics were far better; they still had Bird and Parish, but Kevin McHale had emerged into a star, and Bill Walton enjoyed his best season since leading Portland to the 1977 championship. It would take a few years and more favorable matchups before the Rockets won titles in 1994 (the year NBC idiotically cut away from coverage of Game 5 of the NBA Finals except in Houston and New York to show a washed up football player fleeing from the authorities on the freeways of Los Angeles) and ’95.

Less than two years later, Malone was in Philadelphia, and two years after his ill-timed comment, he, Dr. J, Maurice Cheeks and Andrew Toney steamrolled the Knicks, Bucks and Lakers as the 76ers won their first NBA Title since coach Billy Cunningham played for the team in 1967, so it all worked out for Moses. Rest in peace, big guy.

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The Brewers have won five in a row. Life is good in Wisconsin. Will the Packers oblige? Still have four months to find out.

Sorry for yet another novella. I do that sometimes. No, make that more than sometimes.