Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Five Years Ago Yesterday in Canucks History

The script was almost unfathomable, the pressure was almost through the roof and the stage was as big as it has ever been for the Canucks in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

In 2011, the Canucks surprised none by dominating the regular season with an impressive 117 point total on route to their first Presidents Trophy ever.

In the first round, the Canucks were paired with the defending Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks, the team that also knocked them out of the playoffs the last two years and had also over that two year they had became their arch Nemesis.

The Canucks were on the verge of blowing a 3-0 lead in the first round which would have been a deflating blow to not only the organization but also to the desperate fan base who have been thirsty for a Stanley Cup Parade which had then turned into a 4o year wait for some die-hard fans.

The day was April 26th, 2011. Ironically, also a Tuesday. As I recall, it was a beautiful day in Vancouver, the  lower mainland and also the Fraser Valley. It was the first day back in school as the day before was Easter Monday. What seemed like the worst Nightmare ever was becoming more real by the day as I woke up at on April 26th. I had a two block day. Marketing class and Math. Also a

I don't think I stopped thinking about the Canucks that day as Canucks nation was getting ready for one of two outcomes that would have polar opposite reactions that night. In fact, I'm not sure how I got through the day at school in my Senior year in High School. I was looking forward to both of my classes as both of my teachers were big hockey fans including the one was going to the game that night if my memory is correct. I had created a reputation in Grade 11 and 12 where my teachers had asked me the opinion on the latest sports topics.

I can't remember what I was asked that day except for it was all about the Canucks. I had my blue home jersey on that day. I was reluctant to wear for the first six games as I knew this was going to be a long run. I remember feeling slightly confident for game 7, but it had really come down to a coin flip.

At my Work Experience that afternoon, a kid in Kindergarten came up to me and said their Dad was wearing the same jersey as I was. It was the cutest thing in the world. I remember walking home after school, seeing so many cars have car flags on was really amazing.

After my doctors appointment that afternoon, I was just waiting for the game to start. The tension was getting overwhelming to say the least. Oh and by the way, the entire game is another blog post in itself.

Luckily for Canucks fans, they dominated and if it wasn't for Corey Crawford, the game could have easily been a 4-0 Vancouver win. The Canucks got a goal by Alex Burrows 2:43 into the game which for sure settled a few nerves around Vancouver.

The game remained 1-0 going into the third, Alex Burrows missed a Penalty shot, then Jonathan Toews scored a speechless shorthanded goal to send the game into overtime

The intermission lasts about 15 minutes, however this overtime intermission seemed like it lasted 18 hours. In the overtime, Alex Burrows took a penalty and it looked like he was going to go from hero to goat within the few hours. Fortunately, the Canucks killed the penalty off and within a few minutes of live action, it was Alex Burrows that was crowned hero again with his second goal of the night.

It was the most stressful day I have ever been through. At the end, it was the most relief I have ever felt in my life. I was literally running around in my house screaming when they won. I'm not sure what would have happened if Chicago won last night but I'm glad we didn't have to find out because on this night five years ago, the hockey god's were on the Canucks side.

two block Work Experience that I had at the local Elementary school that semester.

Monday, April 25, 2016

What internet has Done to the Sports World

 Over the last few months I have been at a loss for words over how many sporting events that are not only not on TV but also streamed online that can be accessed from a few clicks of the mouse and some navigation around the web to find the right game.

As a Canadian, trying to find sports on as a kid was extremely hard. Up until 2008, Canadian television had three sports channels. Unless you were a fan of the Bluejays Raptors, Curling or the CFL it was hard to find exciting sports on TV. To continue, in 2008, it wasn't uncommon to not go on the internet daily as very few people had smart phones. This meant that unless it was Monday Night Football or Hockey Night in Canada, there generally wasn't a game on TV not involving a team outside your region.

In fact, if you were a fan of a team outside of your TV region, it was generally only the playoffs where you saw your team on TV multiple times in a row.

For the better, internet has changed everything about how we view sports. The idea to write this article sparked up when I was watching the final seconds of the Cavaliers game on Friday night as they went up 3-0 to take a stranglehold on the 1-8 matchup in the Eastern Conference. I got a flashback to the Pistons remarkable Championship run that was finished off with Detroit beating the Lakers in the NBA Finals.

I remember how electric the Palace of Auburn Hills was for Game 5 when Detroit sealed the fate of Lakers and remember wishing more Pistons games were on TV. Fast forward to 2016 and if I really wanted to, I could watch every Pistons game online or with the purchase of NBA League Pass.

However, the internet has not only changed our sporting lifestyles from a streaming standpoint it has also impacted us from a media standpoint as well. With the help of Apps and websites, we now have the ability to listen to our favorite teams postgame shows on a nightly bases. Listening to the radio in bed was my favorite thing to do at night and now we can basically listen to any cities morning show because of the internet or iPhone Apps. This leads us to be more connected then we ever have before.

In addition, we also have social media to interact with our favorite radio show host columnist or even athlete as I illustrated in my first year Communications class  in 2012, Twitter has made the average sports fan feel more connected to their favorite player, media member or team. Fans feel closer to their sports icons because fans feel like they have a more personal connection with the athletes. Without Twitter, listening to a favorite media members wouldn't be as entertaining.

Nevertheless, it is a very exciting era to be a sports fan. Over the last few months, I feel I don't have enough eyes or computers to keep an eye on the rapid breaking news that happens hourly these days. The fun question is, if this is what it is in 2016, what is in store for us in 2026....?

Friday, April 22, 2016

The 2015 Version of the New York Mets Are Back

It isn't because the team is worse than last year. In fact, it is the exact opposite. If the 2016 team was all together last year for the whole year and stayed healthy the team might have won 100 gams. Not only is the 2016 schedule harder but it will also be harder to win games as every team is going to play their best against the Mets. 
I feel like I repeated myself countless times over the offseason and now we are finally seeing what I was talking about come true. Anything but a World Series Parade in early November for New York would be disappointment. However, it isn't realistic or fair to call this a World Series or bust type of year for the Mets. 
For the New York Mets, their 2016 season is only 15 games old and it’s finally time to make some opinions about this year’s team. The Mets were able to dig themselves out of an early 2-5 hole to begin the season, now standing with a 8-7 record. Much of the Mets’ early season scuffles came against low-quality teams in the division, when they weren’t clicking offensively. Through the first eight games, the Mets scratched out just 16 runs, while cranking out an abysmal .185 team average.
Since then, it appears that the Mets are pulling out of their spring training funk as they have now won six out-of its past eight games. The abrupt hot streak has been aided by the surge of the long ball, which has also jolted their run production. During that stretch, they’ve seen their offense take on a full 360: bashing 19 home runs, racking up 37 runs, and hitting .294 in the past seven games.
The Mets’ upswing offensively of late has revolved around their versatility in the lineup, but don’t forget the starting pitching and bullpen. Neil Walker has been a force the entire year so far. The switch-hitting second baseman is batting .293 overall. Walker’s combination of plate discipline and contact is reason to why Walker can bat anywhere from third through sixth in Mets’ batting order. This in itself implements flexibility for Terry Collins to utilize every night.
With Jacob deGrom placed on maternity leave with his new baby, life-long reliever Logan Verrett has suddenly sprouted up as New York’s possible fifth starter. It’s obviously a very small sample size, but in Verrett’s first two starts, he has a 0.00 ERA in 12 innings pitched. Once deGrom comes back, the Mets will likely demote the 25 year-old back to the bullpen, either way he makes for a pretty darn good sixth man.
The Mets added additional arms to its bullpen in the offseason, and they seem to be in good shape to withstand an injury to either Antonio Bastardo or Jim Henderson. Both, whom have structured the back-end of the Mets bullpen quite nicely. In a combined 14 innings, the duo has surrendered only three runs and have accounted for 21 strikeouts.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Mets 2, Marlins 1

With Jacob DeGrom skipping his scheduled start because of his first son being born, Logan Verrett
 pitched six outstanding innings with his first start of the season. Unfortunately, he was tagged with the no decision. 

For the first six innings, the Mets couldn't get that key hit to give the Mets a lead. Likewise, the Marlins were not much better. They squandered a bases loaded no body out situation in the seventh and the game remained scoreless. 

The Mets were able to push across two runs in their part of the seventh with a Kevin Plawecki
 single that drove home two runs. It was Plawecki's first big hit of the season and the struggling Mets sure needed it. 

The Mets were able to salvage the last game of a three game series. They finished the home stand 2-4 which is too bad because last year this team might have challenged for a 6-0 home stand with how bad the Marlins and Phillies were last year. It all goes to show that this year will be much harder than last year as the division has gotten a lot better. 

Back to interleague play for the Mets on Friday as they travel to Progressive Field in Cleveland for a three game series. 

Coverage:  SNNY
1:10 PM ET, April 13, 2016
Citi Field, New York, New York 
W: J. Blevins (1-0)
L: D. McGowan (0-1)
S: J. Familia (2)

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Warriors Rise to History

When I was a kid, the Vancouver Grizzlies were my favorite team in all of sports. When the Golden State Warriors appeared on the Grizzlies schedule, it was a welcoming sight.
During the organization’s last four years, the Grizzlies stayed in Canada. Vancouver finished above Golden State in three of those years. It wasn’t an indicator of how good the Grizzlies were, in fact, it was the opposite. It was an indicator of how bad the Warriors were.
Now, fast forward fifteen years and things have changed considerably. The Grizzlies are in Memphis and are very quietly going to be appearing in their sixth consecutive playoff appearance, while the Warriors are the defending NBA Champions and possibly on the verge of a dynasty.
The Warriors are the most exciting team in the NBA. Anyone who thinks otherwise should be deemed the Mayer of Wrongville.
The best thing about Golden State is that they have built their team the right way. Before drafting the league’s most prolific 3-point shooter Stephen Curry, the Warriors had made the playoffs just once since 1995. Furthermore, Curry wasn’t a Top 3 pick like most franchise players, in other words, it would have been easy to pass on him at seventh overall in the
2009 Draft. Actually, a total of five teams passed on him including the Timberwolves, who passed on him twice.
This is an amazing way to build a team because it rewards good scouting. The Warriors didn’t tank it in 2009 just to get a good player. The Warriors repeated this formula in 2011 when they drafted Klay Thompson. The sharp shooter from Washington State has turned out to be the perfect decoy when teams decide to focus on Curry on a nightly basis.
Players like Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green have completed this team and made this a perfect example of how a bad team becomes a dynasty. Not one of those four picks were a Top 3 pick where they needed a lot help from the lottery system.
Despite being a Grizzlies fan, I want Golden State to win tonight. Having a bunch of young players that I remember watching at the college players has made the NBA fun again after I ignored it for so many years. In a few years, maybe even this summer, we can categorize Golden State as a dynasty, and for the first time in a long time, a team that would have done it the hardest way possibly, by building up. The Warriors built their team that way, and now they’re one win away from surpassing the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls with the best win mark in an entire NBA regular season. Their fans have waited for this moment, all 40+ years of it. And it’s almost time for their name to be etched in the history books.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Marlins 10, Mets 3

I'm not happy and of course most Mets fans are not happy. What we all have to remember is that it is early and there is still a lot of baseball to be played. That being said, there is so much frustration in the eyes of Mets fans because expectations were so high. We are just six games into the season and only one game off the pace of where the Mets were last year.

Steven Matz was tagged with the loss last night. His first regular season loss of his career. It was going to happen a some point.

After the Marlins put up seven in the Top of the second, the game was pretty much over. It was 8-0 before the Mets got on the board with a three spot in the fourth. New York rallied in the fifth but couldn't squeeze across a run.

The big blow came in the second inning when Christian Yelich singled home two runs with two outs to make the game 5-0. At 3-0, it was very easy to imagine that the Mets would climb back in the game. However, 5-0 was much too hard to hard to overcome. 

It's too early to panic, but with DeGrom not starting on Wednesday, tonight's game would be a good game to get. Last year, the Mets had their third loss at home on May 3rd and more importantly, didn't lose three straight at home until July 2nd. They never lost four in a row all of last year. 

Today is a new day. The best part of today is that Noah Syndergaard is pitching

Coverage:  ESPN/WatchESPN
7:00 PM ET, April 11, 2016
Citi Field, New York, New York 
W: C. Narveson (1-0)
L: S. Matz (0-1)

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Mets 2, Royals 0

Noah Syndergaard three six almost flawless innings in his 2016 debut and Neil Walker hit his first homerun as a Met with a two run homer in the fourth to give the Mets their first win of the season and some bittersweet revenge over their new rival from Kansas City.

Jeurys Familia got back into his 2015 regular season form as he pitched a scoreless ninth inning to snatch a sweep away from the defending World Series Champions.

I had a good feeling they would win today. With the special flex day off that was given to the teams because of inconsistent weather in most parts of the country at this time of year, it just seemed natural for the Mets to slow down the Royals momentum that was built up with the banner being raised and 4-3 win Sunday. More importantly, the Royals received their World Champion rings before the game their was bound to be a hangover effect during the game.

I enjoyed watching the whole game today. I didn't get called into work today so I was able to enjoy my second straight day glued to the computer watching baseball. I didn't do much else but that was ok, baseball is baseball.

I was proud of the way Syndergaard pitched as he only gave up three hits. The first happening on a lead off triple in the first and came right back to strikeout the side and he settled into a groove after that.

This brings the Mets to a 1-1 record and two straight days off which is quite unusual to say the least. It will be great to see action back at Citi Field as we all know the last two home games in the World Series ended in heartbreaking fashion.

The home opener goes Friday at 1:10 ET on SNY. If your like me, the home opener will be very refreshing to see the Mets home once again.

4:15 PM ET, April 5, 2016
Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri 

123456789 R H E
NYM 000200000 2 6 0
KC 000000000 0 3 0
W: N. Syndergaard (1-0)
L: C. Young (0-1)
S: J. Familia (1)

Monday, April 4, 2016

Royals 4, Mets 3

It's just one game. That's it. No need to panic at all. The Royals will be the hardest team that the Mets play against this year. Sure, other teams have better rosters but the Royals do everything right and good pitching doesn't scare Kansas City. Of course, there will be better teams on paper that the Mets will play but the bottom line is that the Royals are a very tough matchup for the Mets. 

It took the Mets seven innings to wake up last night and by than it was too late. The dagger base hit happened in the bottom of the 6th when Alex Gordon singled home Lorenzo cain to make it 3-0. This was a huge part in the game as it gave the Royals some much need breathing space. 

Matt Harvey took the mound for the Mets and he had a good start but ran out of gas quickly in the sixth. Regardless, he didn't get much run support and if the Mets fail to make the playoffs this year, we will be pointing fingers at the amount of run support after most losses. 

Last night, really had a World Series feel to the game last night. The crowd was electric as their surge for a repeat begin last night. Edinson Volquez was brilliant last night and was able to wiggle out of a early jam in the second. 

After an off day today, the Mets will conclude the short mini two game series with the Royals. Noah Syndergaard will pitch for the Mets with a special 4:15 ET first pitch. 

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
NYM 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 0 3 7 1
KC 1 0 0 1 0 2 0 0 - 4 9 0
W: Volquez (1-0)
L: Harvey (0-1)
S: Davis (1)

Why I Hate The Final Four

The 2016 NCAA Final Four got underway on Saturday night in Houston and I wasn’t even that interested to watch. This might surprise a few as I’m one of college basketball’s biggest fans north of the border. I’m part of the minority that follows the college game throughout the year, but for me the Final Four has just never gotten me excited.
For one, most years the teams that make the Final Four are the teams I watch every second of the day in the regular season. It gets to the point where I don’t have to see North Carolina play for the 25th time. College Basketball is exciting because of how crazy college basketball fans can be during home games like in Chapel Hill. I get that. But when the Tar Heels reach the Final Four (like this year) to me it takes the fun out of the event, considering that UNC has been made the Final Four the most out of any programs in the country, making their 19th appearance this year.
More importantly, one of my biggest pet peeves about the Final Four is that it’s played in a 60,000 plus football stadium each year. I know why they do it, it’s about money. Let’s face it, money buys almost anything in the sports world today. However, playing in a football stadium makes it look extremely awkward to watch on TV and can be unfair to the players as it becomes a physiological distraction, leaving the players to adjust to the new unique setting.
According to KenPom, in 24 of the 32 performances in the dome — a team shot worse than its season average from three. In eight of those 32 games — a team would have hit at least two more threes if they had merely shot their season average. This speaks volumes to how horrific team’s shoot in these large-scale arenas.
Also, for me there is not much motivation to watch because it seems almost every that my bracket becomes busted at the turn of March. This may seem like a weak reason, because at this point every bracket is basically in shambles. Furthermore, when I was a kid, my family did a March Madness pool where we drafted 16 teams each. This was one of my favorite things to do growing up and we don't do it anymore. 
To continue, a lot of the players that are participating will be playing in the NBA sooner than later. Therefore, they will be suiting up for an NBA team before the next college basketball season starts. In fact, if I really wanted to watch them play I could just tune in to the summer league games this July inVEGAS. A huge part of what makes college basketball fun is that sometimes players lay it all on the line every night. For some of them, it could be their last organized basketball game of their career.
Lastly, why isn’t the Final Four on CBS anymore? The tournament should live and die on CBS. The theme song, the old score box, CBS had when I was a child. When Turner Sports (TBS) purchased the rights to March Madness in 2010, they’ve changed the NCAA Tournament format completely. Since TBS became a national channel a few years ago, Canada hasn’t received coverage of it and therefore no games, no major broadcasts. Instead, Canada gets stuck with the games on TSN, where the knowledge of college basketball isn’t as strong with broadcasters such as Jack Armstrong, former coach at Niagara University in the early 90’s and Michigan State Spartan Alum Mo Peterson.
All of this and a few other reasons, is why I try to avoid watching the Final Four. Tonight, Villanova will play North Carolina in the National Championship. I’m pulling for Nova because I believe Jay Wright is a very underrated coach, he’s fallen down many times in past tournaments. And those prior setbacks has built himself and his team up. I would be watching tonight, but with baseball going on today I think I'll watch that instead. 

Saturday, April 2, 2016

2016 New York Mets

The Mets will open the 2016 season in Kansas City tomorrow night as the Mets will try to do what  the Royals were able to do last year in win the World Series after losing in the World Series in the previous year.

SNY will broadcast 127 games this year with the rest being spread out between WPX 11,  FS1, FOX and the ESPN family of networks. Home games will start generally 10 minutes after the hour.

Gary Cohen, Ron Darling and Keith Hernadez will be the tandem that will be the broadcasters for SNY and WPIX 1. Last year, with my subscription to MLB TV I watched over 100 games on my computer really enjoying Gary Cohen's broadcasting. Being a West coaster living in Vancouver, it has always been hard to find a team that was unique to myself and being able to blog about the resurgence of the Mets pitching staff along with the midseason additions such as Cespedes and Uribe.

Tomorrow is a special 8:37 ET first pitch on ESPN as ESPN will close out their triple header of games. Here is how I project Terry Collins to fill out his lineup card tomorrow night.

1. C. Granderson RF
2. D. Wright 3B
3. L. Duda 1B
4. Y. Cespedes CF
5. M. Conforto LF
6. A. Cabreara SS
7. N. Walker 2B
8. W. Flores DH
9. T. d'Arnaud C

No pitcher batting tomorrow night as Kansas City is in the American League for those who have forgot. Very impressive lineup if you compare it to last year on opening day. Pitcher Matt Harvey gets the ball for the Mets tomorrow as he will be looking to prove he is still the ace of a strong starting rotation.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Mets Baseball is back!

The Mets are just over 55 hours away until first pitch of the 2016 season. It is the hardest thing to do in sports. Win a Championship after losing in the Championship the previous year.

Last year provided a lot of great moments for the Mets on their way to winning the National League Championship (NLCS) and losing to the Royals in five games.

The whole revamped lineup that took place for the Mets was the extra boost that the Mets pitchers needed as their young pitchers pitched an enormous amount of innings last year that has led to some question wether or not the Mets pitchers are ready to carry the load this year as they will have to contend in a division that will be much harder than last year. Lets be honest, it can't be much worse.

Despite everyone remembering last August and September's version of the Mets, it was the 13-3 start in April that started all the buzz about the team being on the rise. Combine that with the fact the Nationals underachieved throughout the whole season gave the Mets the belief that they were in the runnings for a NL East Title.

This year, the optimism has sprung early as fans alike are eager to see if last year was just a fluke or is this young core of Mets pitching good enough to carry the Mets to greatness. This shouldn't be a World Series or bust year however if someone wants to say that, I wouldn't disagree with them. Right now, there isn't that big of a window where you will have a healthy David Wright, a veteran leader in Bartolo Colon and a all-star in Yoenis Cespedes who had a career year last year on the team at the same time. Having all the pieces lined up never lasts for  long in sports.

Adding infielder help in Asdrubal Cabrera and Neil Walker will also help, but those guys won't be in their prime forever also. It's an exciting time to be a Mets fan. Don't take this year for granted thou. I had the time of my life watching Mets baseball last year. It was three hours every day where I zoned out and just focused on the game.

I'll have lots more to come before first pitch on Sunday at 8:35PM as the Mets will be taking on Kansas City.