Monday, April 19, 2010

Monday Afternoon Meissnervations

Hey there! Here's what's happening....


I didn't think I was ever going to blog about indoor football, but the good folks that represent the St. Pete Times Forum/Tampa Bay Lightning/Tampa Bay Storm has made that an easy thing to do.

If you scroll below today's entry, you see the game recap of last Friday's Storm home opener, and their 54-41 win over Dallas, complete with pictures.

My wife Kim, our son Jimmy and I had loads o' fun. Those folks get customer service. That's something the baseball team simply can't wrap their heads around. If we have to chose where to spend our entertainment dollars, events at the Forum will win out over Rays baseball every time.


Speaking of the Rays, while I might not be in a hurry to shovel my hard-earned money at them, that doesn't mean I'm not interested in them.

They currently have the best record in baseball, after completing a sweep of the Red Sox at Fenway Park today, with an 8-2 win. A five-run third inning titled today's game in their favor. Tampa Bay is 10-3 and leads the Yankees by 1/2 game in the A.L. East. What's even more impressive, is that they are 7-0 on the road so far in 2010. Now, if their bullpen can consistantly hold leads and they can be around .500 on the road and .650 or so at home, they will contend for a spot in the post season.

Elsewhere around the big leagues, Minnesota leads the A.L. Central by 1 1/2 over Detroit, and Oakland leads the Angels and Seattle by 2 1/2 in the West.

In the N.L. East, Philadelphia leads Florida by 1/2 game, St. Louis is one game up on Pittsburgh and San Francisco is 2 games ahead of Colorado, the Dodgers and San Diego.


Here's what's happening in the hockey playoffs:

In the Western Hockey League, Tri-City and Vancouver(who eliminated Portland in 6 games last week) are even at 1-1 in their best-of-seven Western Conference final. In the East, 2010 Memorial Cup host Brandon is tied 1-1 with Calgary. If Brandon wins the East, whoever they play in the league finals will also go to the Memorial Cup.

In the Ontario Hockey League, Kitchener leads the defending Memorial Cup champions from Windsor 3-0, while Barrie leads Mississauga St. Michael's 2-1 in the East finals.

In the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's two semi-finals, Saint John leads Victoriaville and Moncton leads Drummondville, both by 2-0 margins.

In the United States Hockey League, Fargo and Omaha in the West and Green Bay and Indiana in the East, are both tied 1-1 in best-of-fives.

The National Hockey League Stanley Cup playoffs are underway too. In the West, Colorado leads San Jose 2-1, Los Angeles and Vancouver are tied 1-1, as are Nashville and Chicago, while Phoenix is up 2-1 over Detroit. In the East, Montreal-Washington, plus Boston-Buffalo are both 1-1, while Philadelphia is up 2-1 against New Jersey, as is Pittsburgh over Ottawa. All series are best-of-seven.



LONG BEACH, Calif. – Ryan Hunter-Reay, the newest member of the Andretti Autosport quartet, received a bear hug from the CEO in Victory Circle. That meant a lot coming from a racing champion and newest enshirnee of the Long Beach Motorsports Walk of Fame – Michael Andretti.

Hunter-Reay prevailed in the breakneck Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach – a race slowed by a lone full-course caution (tying an IZOD IndyCar Series road/street course record) – holding off Justin Wilson by 5.6031 seconds to give Andretti Autosport its first victory since June 2008 at Richmond (Tony Kanaan). Sux teams were represented in the top 10.

“It was the most fun I had in a race car because it was handling so well,” said Hunter-Reay, who is the first American-born driver to win at Long Beach since Andretti in 2002. “My mom is out there today. She passed along recently and this race is for her. Over the last couple of laps I said ‘This is for you, Mom.' ''

Said Andretti: "I love this place. It's where I got my first win as a driver (1986) and where I got my first win as a sole owner."

Will Power, the championship points leader and pole sitter, finished third in the 85-lap race on the 1.968-mile, 11-turn circuit. He heads to the Road Runner Turbo Indy 300 at Kansas Speedway on May 1 having extended his lead to 42 points over teammate Helio Castroneves (130). Hunter-Reay is third (129) and Wilson is fourth (125).

"The Verizon Wireless car is still leading in points and the team has a goal of winning the championship, so we are still in line for that," said Power, who won the first two races of the season. "Overall, it was a good day, but on one lap I got stuck in first gear. I have no idea why that happened and I hope it doesn’t do that again because I slowed down. I was able to get out of it and speed back up, but it hurt my placement."

We’ve seen it before -- Hunter-Reay battling Wilson and Power for the victory on a temporary street course. Remember Brazil just a month ago? Or how about St. Petersburg in '09?

Hunter-Reay, driving the No. 37 IZOD car, took the lead initially on Lap 18 when Power’s No. 12 Verizon Team Penske slowed exiting Turn 11 because the car was stuck in first gear. He regained it for good on Lap 59 as cars cycled through for their final pit stops.

Wilson, who matched his season high in the No. 22 Z-Line Designs car for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing and also won at The Glen in ’09, overcame a Lap 53 incident while he was running second to regain the position from Power 14 laps later.

Wilson’s front nose assembly was damaged as it caught the right-rear tire of the No. 19 Boy Scouts of America car for Dale Coyne Racing attempting to overtake the lapped car in Turn 8. A 16-second pit stop for rhinoplasty and fuel, and Wilson was back on the course in 13th position.

“I am really disappointed," Wilson said. "Alex was a lap down and he nearly took Ryan (Hunter-Reay) out a couple of times. Once Ryan got past, it got him off line and slowed him up. I dove down the inside of Turn 8 and I braked pretty late. I just got the door slammed in my face. Even if you aren’t going to give way to the leaders, you need to leave room at the apex to back out. Nothing you can do about it.

"We had to come in and change the front wing and we were just in mad fuel saving mode after that. It’s just a shame that it happened. We had a great day. The Z-Line Designs car was fantastic.To have a front wing change and to come back in finish second is an amazing day.”

Hunter-Reay, who started a season-high second, didn't make a noticeable mistake.

"This is a race that means a lot to me," said Hunter-Reay, a former California resident. "This is the 'Indy 500' of street courses. I've been watching this race since I was a little kid. To do it right now -- the timing is unreal. We've been working so hard on this IZOD car and on this team. To do it in our fourth race - we feel like we're just getting started. This is a snowball that is just starting to roll."

Scott Dixon, the runner-up at Barber Motorsports Park a week earlier, was fourth in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car and Andretti Autosport’s Tony Kanaan finished fifth. Mario Moraes, who started 15th in the No. 32 KV Racing Technology car, advanced to finish a season-high sixth.

Helio Castroneves and Team Penske teammate Ryan Briscoe finished seventh and eighth, respectively. It was the first time since Watkins Glen in ’08 that a Team Penske car had not finished either first or second.

"It was an interesting race," said Castroneves, who won at Barber Motorsports Park a week earlier. "It was very unusual in that there were so few yellow flags. We definitely had a car that was better than seventh place. Unfortunately, we lost a few positions during our second stint. The good news is we are still second in the championship points. We need to keep pushing heading into Kansas at our first oval race."

Dan Wheldon finished a season-high ninth in the No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing car, and Mike Conway gave Dreyer & Reinbold Racing two cars in the top 10.


Weather forced postponement of Sunday's Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series races at Texas Motor Speedway. Both are being run today. The Sprint Cup on FOX, Nationwide on ESPN2.


Jimmy is quite a little guy. Loves to play ball, really loves cookies and is developing quite a strong will. After his hall-of-fame hockey career is over, he'll be quite a success in the business world.

Kim is racking up the job interviews. Law of averages would seem to suggest one will result in an offer one of these days. She deserves a good job. She's working so hard just to find one. And since tomorrow is her birthday, what better present than a new job? Good luck my darling!

Snoopy and Smoke are having fun in our new house, playing in our back yard, and trying to avoid Jimmy, a/k/a "The Little Pink Monster." No shortage of fun at our house!


Not trying to bite the hand that used to, or once more in the future might, feed me, but here's a couple of thoughts from the world of sports broadcasting:

I challenge you to find any broadcast crew that complains more about officiating than the radio and tv crews for the Tampa Bay Rays. It borders on the pathetic. Miss one call, and those hacks brand you for life. On today's broadcast, they thought a strike call was missed, which they felt gave them an opening to complain about the work done in yesterday's game. Simply brutal. From non-existant public service skills, to whiny, constantly complaining broadcast crews, it makes me question if I really want to give our areas' major league baseball team the time of day at all.

And, I came away from the end of Saturday's USHL broadcast of the Omaha-Fargo playoff game utterly amazed. Late in the game(with just 69 seconds left), Fargo wrapped up the contest with an empty net goal, which drew a celebration by Fargo goal scorer Matt Leitner that could best be described as classless. In the resulting "hard feelings," Leitner drew a 10 minute misconduct while Omaha's Ryan Daugherty drew a five-minute spearing major. Then, with 32 seconds to play, Omaha's C.J. Ludwig laid out Fargo's Corey Lievermann with an open ice hit that was penalized as an intent to injure match penalty for charging. Lievermann was injured on the play and had to be removed from the ice on a stretcher and taken to an Omaha-area hospital. During the resulting delay, and on his radio post-game show, Omaha broadcaster Dan Fremuth ranted at great length about the incident, how terrible it was, offering up prayers on countless occasions for Lievermann and his family(By his description, which included Mr. Fremuth saying -- "I don't care if he plays the rest of this series, I'm worried about his LIFE!" -- you would have thought the Fargo player was either on death's door, or already knocking on the admittance gate), never once mentioned that Omaha Coach Bliss Littler had been ejected from the game(Omaha is protesting the call, saying it was a legal hit), and then, incredibly, chose not to give a post-game scoring recap, saying (words to the effect) that on a night where a game ended like the one he had just witnessed did, that a scoring summary wasn't necessary. Mr. Fremuth embarrassed himself, his team, the USHL and the family/friends of Corey Lievermann, with the great disservice he did to those listening to his broadcast.

I've been known for being "quite excitable" in my broadcast career. But I've never over-reacted to something that strongly. Mr. Fremuth may well indeed be a solid broadcaster. But the end of his broadcast Saturday night was simply off the charts bad.


That's it for now. Leave some comments if you so choose. See you soon!

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