Archive for March, 2009

March Madness

Friday, March 27th, 2009

Camelback Ranch ballpark

As your small-time source for just off the radar, cool sports info, here’s the…

TIP O’ THE POST: Check out Dhani Tackles the Globe, a weekly (Mondays) special about NFL Bengals linebacker Dhani Jones’ participation in the most popular sports you’ve never heard of because they’re played in faraway places. He also dabbles in local culture and scenery. Fun stuff. Check local listings on the Travel channel. Premiering March 16, viewers caught Dhani training in Thailand to compete in Muay Thai, a sort of MMA-looking sport. The following week he was in Switzerland for Schwingen, essentially wresting in sawdust.

Stereotypical reality show bug-eating aside, this is a great theme. And guess what? Dude writes poetry, too.

SPRING TRAINING BASEBALL: What you need to know about Phoenix 2009, gleaned from a Cactus League weekend itinerary:

Friday – KC Royals vs. LA Dodgers, Surprise Stadium:

Muhammad Ali at Spring Training The “surprise” of the game was an appearance by Muhammad Ali. Ten rows up from the field, we could clearly see Ali rolling up in a golf cart to have his photo taken with the Royals. Super cool to get a close-up look at a legend (though he never took off his shades).

No ManRam in sight for the Dodgers. Dinner was a BBQ chicken sandwich and a Shock Top Belgian White which was, well, heaven. Hate to say an Anheuser-Busch beer is better than Blue Moon. What? Blue Moon is by Coors? Take your pick then.

Saturday – Chicago White Sox vs. Chicago Cubs at the brand spankin’ new Camelback Ranch:

The excitement at Camelback was 13,000+ fans, breaking a Cactus League record. Traffic was madness, backed up along the interstate, down the road and into stadium parking, where we were ushered to Players Parking due to overflow. The $5 fee was waived which was cool, since we missed the first couple innings sitting in traffic.

Not what you’d call a good day at the park for the Sox, who lost 13-2 despite using a starting lineup. My “turkey wrap” turned out to be a TBLT wrap, but who gets enough bacon? Italian Ice was an absolute must as we fried like eggs, sweating out a hangover and facing into the sun on the third base line.

Bonus! Our row was selected from the entire stadium to receive a free PlayStation T-shirt perfect for sitting on. Folks who weren’t so lucky looked like they’d wet their pants when they stood from their sweat-soaked, atypically large seats.

Sunday – Oakland A’s vs. Chicago White Sox at Phoenix Muni:

Chillin' with the boyz of summerSay – ever watch a first baseman warm up? Holy moley, i thought maybe i should look away, but couldn’t. Suffice it to say Daric Barton of the A’s is hella flexible, which makes sense because, as my buddy the former high school ballplayer explained, he needs to catch the ball while keeping his toe on the base, even if the throw is wide. So yeah, he can do the splits. And that Yoga pose called Crow. Freakin’ show-off.

A welcome breeze and the sun at our backs made a downright pleasant day. Crowded bleachers seemed that much smaller after Camelback but sitting in back row, end seats for a mere $10 a pop gave us a little more room.

The Sox didn’t play much better than the day before, but the A’s struggled even more for an entertaining game of the less-clutch kind. When you see a guy easily catch a ball only to have it slip out of his glove, you gotta wonder:

Will i be seeing him in the minors?

The A’s rallied strong in the end, but lost 12-10. Lunch was chicken and whole bean nachos. No pizza at the Muni but giant Jose Cuervo margaritas served in plastic shakers. And our buddy caught a line drive (gave it to the kid).

HOCKEY: Mr. Martin Brodeur is the winningest NHL goaltender of all time (552 wins) as of March 17, 2009. SI’s photo gallery is worth a look.

Props also to CHL Rapid City d-man Mark DeSantis (former Scorpion playing for Rush coach Ferras, also a former Scorpion) who played his 1,000th professional hockey game on March 20. You’d never guess from the look of him.

The CHL Playoffs are under way and Odessa, as predicted, is locked and loaded – dueling it out with Laredo in the first round.

A few predictions? I say Bossier and Corpus Rio Grande first advance, Mississippi and Odessa next, and Texas takes it all. I reserve the right to change my mind before the final round (oh look! I already did!).

TIMBITS: I’m going waaay out on a limb and betting a small amount that Scorps coach Randy Murphy will be with the Eagles next season. It’s a very long shot, very short on supporting evidence and absolutely no inside info. I’m just sayin’ – some itsybitsy, curious signs are there.

clavicle break Breaking news in cycling – while teammate Levi Leipheimer went on to win, Lance Armstrong crashed out of the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon bike race in Spain and fractured his collar bone, meaning his participation in the Giro and Tour is still likely, but his performance could be compromised (a steel plate and 12 screws will do that). Lance claims he’s never had that happen before, making him the only remaining pro cyclist not to have broken his collar bone.

And this is how the world turns.

Cycling and a Bit-O-Hockey

Saturday, March 7th, 2009

Hincapie chases Nocentini I’m going with the cycling chit-chat first, rehashing memories for fans of the AMGEN Tour of California that was before they’re gone, and because here in New Mexico, the high was in the 70s all week and that means get on your bike.

If you want to read about hockey, skip down to the HOCKEY heading. But wait! If you have a thing for Canadians, check out this first. This dude (appropriately named Tuft) recently competed in the 2009 Tour of Cali, though for some reason he wasn’t at the start for the final Stage 8….

AToC: Other than Alberto Contador and Robbie McEwen (likely recovering from the Tour Down Under), holy cow! The entire professional world of cycling flew to Cali to compete.

I know!

Tyler Hamilton Not only that, but it was a laundry list of returning riders who’ve been away from the scene a year or three, not the least of whom was Lance. Otherwise, there was Tyler Hamilton, god bless him (he’s been accused of doping twice and if i remember right, the first time he attributed the outcome of his test results to a “vanishing twin”) and accused max testosterone man and contested winner of the 2006 Tour de France, Floyd Landis.

I’m gonna stop right here and pay tribute to my mom, who’s frustrated no one ever mentions the name of the guy who technically won the 2006 Tour de France. Props to our boy Oscar Pereiro!

Guess i better mention Levi won the the AToC for the third straight year while DZ came in second and Michael Rogers third. The Best Young Rider was Gesink. No surprise that Cavendish was the top Sprinter. Keep those last two names in mind for your Tour de France fantasy roster.

Tom Boonen shmoozing at the AToC Had to love the mob scene at the team buses following Stage 7, near the Rose Bowl. I was positively smooshed into Tom Boonen. If anyone wants to touch my arm, which touched his arm (never ever shower again!), just ask.

Lastly, don’t be surprised if the ToC moves to April for 2010, following two consecutive years of super crappy weather. Oh, and Bobke got his dome shaved for charity….

HOCKEY: As of March 6, the New Mexico Scorpions have a 9-3-0 road record when playing on Saturdays. Much of that is thanks to Chris Robertson, who’s been en fuego. From League and Team pressers:

Scorpions forward Chris Robertson has been named the CHL Oakley Three Star Player of the Month for February….

Over 12 games, Robertson led the Scorpions with 18 points (7G, 10A), helping the Scorpions to an 8-4 record. Five times during the month he collected multiple point games including three, three-point games.

He has been named the first star of a game seven times this season, second most in the league.

Robertson will receive a pair of Oakley THUMP sunglasses which feature blue tooth technology and a built in MP3 player.

Su-weet! Great for those road trips.

Further props to Neil Trimm, who’s fun to watch if you miss Mitch Stephens, plus Craig Macdonald, Seth Leonard, Tyler Fuller, Michael Beynon on defense, and rookie Torren Delforte. Kyle McNulty was considered for Goaltender of the Month for February (as was former Scorps goalie Andrew Martin).

WHAT TOOK SO LONG?

Colorado’s Greg Pankewicz has 199 career CHL goals and is just one shy of becoming the 16th player in league history to score 200 goals. [CHL 2/27]

Nothing like a little pressure. So far, Panky’s played four games without scoring that 200th goal, with another chance tonight (March 7). Don’t you wonder how much sooner Panky would have reached the mark if he wasn’t a bit lazy and penalty-prone (PIMS = 224, 90 more than Robertson as of March 5)?

HOT OFF THE PRESS: The Central Hockey League has announced the Laredo Bucks will host the 2010 CHL All-Star Game for the second time in their history (first time in 2005).

Personally, i hadn’t realized Bucks President/General Manager and Head Coach Terry Ruskowski was pulling double duties….

These Timbits provided by the CHL:

The Laredo Bucks are currently in their seventh season in the CHL and have annually been one of the top organizations both on and off the ice.  The Bucks have won two Ray Miron President’s Cup Championships (2004 & 2006), one Bud Poile Governors’ Cup as the regular season champs (2003-04 season), four Southern Conference Championships and five straight Southeast Division titles.

And we out.