Saturday, September 04, 2004


The story of the game can be picked out in that "word." Ichiro and Paul Konerko did some good things, and Ryan Franklin did some bad things, most notably allowing Konerko to do some of the aforementioned "good things." Ichiro, however, is beyond stupefying at this point. I wrote this guy off for chasing .400, and I'll continue to do so, hoping that it elicits some sort of telepathic reverse-psychology kind of thing where Ichiro makes every one of my predictions go to crap.

In spectralific terms...

Mariners on defense/pitching (bad to good)
massacre < terrible inning < some damage < fighting out of jam < decent inning < 1-2-3

Mariners on offense
I hate this team < come on, y'all < ho, hum < minimal damage < some damage < big inning

TOP 1ST -- ho, hum
Ichiro leads off the game with a single, one of many hits he would have on the day. Randy Winn would hit a ball to short, resulting in ye olde 6-4-3 double play. Edgar hit a ball to short.

BOTTOM 1ST -- some damage
Ryan Franklin didn't wait long in this game to embrace the long ball. Of course, he waited just long enough to get two guys (Willie Harris, Aaron Rowand) out first. Then there was the hanging slider to Carlos Lee that left the yard in the power alley (CHW 1-0). And who can forget the knee-high fastball that Paul Konerko bashed to centerfield (CHW 2-0)? Jose Valentin came to the plate, and Franklin got ahead 0-2. Franklin would walk Valentin. Nine pitches later. Not even the walks came easy today for Franklin, and Valentin's 11-pitch at-bat wasn't helping Franklin out. Franklin did help himself out when he picked off Valentin at first, raising Franklin's pickoff rate to 0.0000000000000001% (seriously, how many times does he throw to first?).

TOP 2ND -- ho, hum
The only hit was from Raul Ibanez, who tried to stretch his single into a double and was nailed doing so.

BOTTOM 2ND -- some damage
Even Timo Perez was hitting leadoff doubles. Franklin got a little greedy, and his pickoff throw ended up in centerfield. Not surprisingly, I'm guessing Chicago's third base coach was waving Perez around all the way on the play. I wish I could have seen this play on which Winn was charged with an error and Perez scored (CHW 3-0). Juan Uribe would take Perez's spot on the basepaths by hitting a double of his own. Two batters and one out later, Franklin walked Joe Borchard. Onw out later, Rowand hit a single to score Uribe (CHW 4-0). Franklin would allow another walk (Lee) before mercifully ending the inning.

TOP 3RD -- ho, hum
Jose Lopez draws a one-out walk and is doubled off on Willie Bloomquist's obligatory GIDP.

BOTTOM 3RD -- some damage
Timo Perez homered (CHW 5-0) and Ben Davis singled in the same inning. Enough said.

TOP 4TH -- minimal damage
Ichiro led off with a single (again) and ended up on third after a Winn groundout and a single by Edgar Martinez. Bret Boone hit a deep flyout to right, and Ichiro scored (CHW 5-1). Ibanez flew out to end the inning.

BOTTOM 4TH -- some damage
Harris led off with a single. One out later, with Carlos Lee at the plate, Harris would raise some hell with the Mariner battery, stealing second, and getting Miguel Olivo to make a bad throw. Lee would fly out to short, but the next hitter was Konerko, and he homered the opposite way (CHW 7-1). Franklin's day was done.

A pathetic day for Franklin. His line: 3 2/3 innings, 7 runs, 9 hits, 3 walks, 1 strikeout, 86 pitches (56 strikes). Only one of the walks came around to score...but the dude gave up four bombs in 3 2/3 innings!!! Crazy!! Good God, y'all!

Matt Thornton came in and got Valentin to whiff.

TOP 5TH -- ho, hum
Bucky bounced out to short, and Olivo and Lopez whiffed. Behold the power of Mark Buehrle, ladies and gentlemen.

BOTTOM 5TH -- decent inning
Perez hit a leadoff single, then laid out the beach towel as three flyouts followed.

TOP 6TH -- minimal damage
Ichiro hit a one-out single and stood on second after a Winn groundout. Edgar drove him in with a single (CHW 7-2). Edgar stole second, which I would have liked to see, and Boone walked. Ibanez got aboard with an infield single to load the bases. But bases loaded with two out isn't a situation in which I expect the Mariners to get anything done, and they didn't, as Bucky bounced out to seocnd.

BOTTOM 6TH -- some damage
Even Willie Harris was hitting leadoff homers (CHW 8-2). Some of you may remember the following hilarious antidote. A couple years ago, Harris was the very highly-touted second base prospect for the White Sox, and was starting at second base. Then the Sox found themselves in a playoff race, and they traded for Roberto Alomar. Why was it hilarious? Willie Harris had number 12 on himself in tattoo form, and he wasn't going to wear 12 on any club with Alomar. Harris ended up wearing 13 after that. He wears 1 this year because Ozzie Guillen wears 13.

Enough of that, though. Rowand singled after that, and one out later, Konerko singled. Thornton would escape unscathed.

TOP 7TH -- minimal damage
Bloomquist hit a two-out double to leftcenter and Ichiro singled him in (CHW 8-3). Not much else.

BOTTOM 7TH -- decent inning
Uribe led off with a double, but the following hitters went away 1-2-3. Matt Thornton made it through 3 1/3 innings without walking anybody. Amazing.

TOP 8TH -- minimal damage
Edgar singled to lead off. With one out, Ibanez lined a ball that Uribe snared. Uribe then tried to double off Edgar at first, but threw wild, and Edgar trudged over to third. Bucky singled Edgar home (CHW 8-4). Olivo bounced to short to end the inning.

BOTTOM 8TH -- fighting out of jam
Ron Villone came in to pitch and was immediately greeted on the first pitch by Bloomquist getting caught on an inbetween hop. Villone got Lee to fly out, but then walked Konerko on four pitches. Pinch-runner Ross Gload watched as Valentin (flyout to Boone) and Perez (grounder to Lopez) squandered the opportunity.

TOP 9TH -- some damage
The newly-recalled Jeffrey Bajenaru made his Major League debut for the Sox. The first hit he gave up with the big club was a single by Bloomquist. Not a good sign. More sympathy is expressed for the single he gave up to the next hitter, Ichiro, his 5th hit of the day (5-for-5). Winn then singled to score Bloomquist (CHW 8-5). With the game now a save situation, Guillen summoned Shingo Takatsu.

My Takatsu memory is from when I was at field camp. I was listening on the radio in my tent, with the station fading in and out depending whether a vehicle was going by on the road. Anyway, it was clear enough for me to hear Bret Boone get ahead 3-0 on Takatsu and then strike out.

Edgar had the count 0-2 and watched two of those super-slow curveballs before whiffing. Winn scampered to second (indifference) but Boone walked anyway. On the eighth pitch of his at-bat, Ibanez singled to rightfield, and Ichiro and Winn scored (CHW 8-7). On the same play, Boone is gunned down trying to go to third. Ballgame.

Why does Boone, representing the tying run at that point, want to take third when there's two out and he'd score from second on a base hit anyway if he broke for the plate on contact? Hell if I know.

Who likes false hope comebacks?

Of course, I could blame this on Boone, or I could blame it on that insane Dave Myers, though that depends on whether Myers sent him on the play (I didn't see the play, sadly).

Let's make it a sweep tomorrow, boys! Win five, lose five? Sounds good to me.

And congratulations to whoever won the $1800 in groceries via Ichiro.

And thanks to Softy and his KJR promotional minions (I didn't get their names) who were at the CarToys in Silverdale today and let me walk away with a bunch of promotional crap. Now I have a new conversation piece which will include "no, I didn't go to Millen's Flag Football Challenge, I just got this shirt free at a promotional thing." I forgot to commend Softy on the one time he did a hybrid Piniella/Yoda voice. It was simply mind-bending.

Gameball: Ichiro. 5-for-5 with an RBI, scoring thrice. I usually try to give the gameball to someone non-Ichiro every night just to keep it fresh because he shows up every night. But when he goes 5-for-5, he automatically gets the gameball. That goes for pretty much anybody, because I even used that rule with Ibanez.

Goat: Ryan Franklin. I already posted his line above. He laid an absolute egg today, plain and simple. If it weren't September, I'd be a little more worried about bullpen overuse and the fact that the next off day is Tuesday instead of Monday. But alas, it's September.

Moyer. Diaz. Tomorrow.

[Edit Sun ~12:44p -- I saw replay of the final play on Boone. I guess he beat the throw, but the momentum of his slide tookhis left hand off the bag on the headfirst slide. Boone broke for third when he didn't need to, and Ibanez hit the ball a little too hard for Boone to get the extra base. As a result, Perez in rightfield gave Boone a round of Timotherapy.]

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Signs when you know college football is back in session:

1. You press the mute button whenever Pam Ward is talking.

2. You say "YO!" 20 times a day because you heard it from Lee Corso on ESPN College Gameday.

3. You yell out "F**K NOTRE DAME!" for no reason whatsoever.

4. You bitch and moan about the officials.

5. You bash Trev Alberts at every moment.

6. You hum/sing any and every fight song you can think of.

7. You wonder when Chris Spielman is just going to snap.

8. You watch a BYU game and wonder who has broken the "no pre-marital sex" rule.

9. You wake up early Saturday morning with hardly any sleep and go to sleep late on Saturday nights.

10. You want to strangle the Three Daves at Jefferson Pilot.

--- --- --- --- --- ---

There's more than 10 signs, but for the sake of time and my health, I won't put them all here tonight.

Yes, it's 11:30 p.m. here and I'm watching Notre Dame-BYU. I think Florida Atlantic-Hawaii is on one of the Fox Sports digital channels as well.

Football. It owns my soul.

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What a ballgame tonight in Baton Rouge.

LSU had no business winning that game. But due to Alexis Serna's three missed extra points and a piss-poor defensive alignment late in the 4th quarter, Oregon State couldn't pull off the upset over the Bayou Bengals. The Tigers won 22-15 in overtime.

I'd also like to bitch about the horrible holding calls against the Beavers during LSU's drive in overtime. Folks, the SEC officials are the worst in all of college football. Tonight didn't change my assessment of them.

However, I'll tip my hat to Mike Riley's team tonight. The Beavers were considered to be crazy for wanting to play the Bayou Bengals in Baton Rouge to open up the 2004 season. Virginia Tech was originally scheduled to play LSU tonight, but won't do so until 2007. Oregon State earned a lot of respect tonight, as well as a nice payday.

In an interesting twist of irony, sort of, Oregon will play Oklahoma in Norman on Sept. 18. So both Oregon D-1 programs will play the two Sugar Bowl teams from the 2003 season in 2004. Of course, it should have been USC in the Sugar Bowl, not Oklahoma, but I digress.

The Beavers will be competitive in 2004. Their defense will give them a chance every Saturday. Derek Anderson is still a little too inconsistent. But as the season goes along, hopefully he will be more consistent for the Beavers.

As for LSU, they are not the same team from 2003. There's no way that this team will repeat as national champions. They have to go to Georgia, Auburn, and Florida. Brutal, just brutal.

College football is great. We're in for a hell of a season.

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Oh wait, it's not as red since the fall of Communism, with blue now in the Russian flag, but oh well.

Canada beat Russia by a score of 3-1 in tonight's World Cup of Hockey tilt.

Before the game, a moment of silence was observed for the gruesome hostage incident that occurred in Russia a couple days ago. Team Russia wore black armbands made of stick tape in observance.

I was afraid of the anthem singer. The dude was mean-looking and quite haunting. Never before have the Russian and Canadian national anthems scared me more.

After a pretty good first game against the USA, Ilya Bryzgalov was benched in favor of Maxim Sokolov. Canada once again went with Martin Brodeur in net, i.e., the easiest decision one could ever make.

The recap of this format will be a lot like the last few, and once again, times are approximate...

18:18 Ilya Kovalchuk shot just inside the blue line stopped
16:31 Jarome Iginla stopped from the right circle
15:20 Sokolov puts a stick save on a Jay Bouwmeester shot from the blue line
14:16 Kovalchuk is denied, his opportunity came thanks to a lazy cross-ice pass by Martin St. Louis
13:31 Alexander Frolov was foiled on a wraparound attempt
12:32 Sokolov puts the right pad on a shot from Mario Lemieux; Lemieux is then leveled
11:29 Kris Draper had a scoring chance, but had trouble handling the centering pass in the crease
10:31 Alexander Khavanov put a shot through traffic, which was stick-saved
8:55 Sokolov had the rhythm of glove on Robyn Regehr
5:45 Iginla got a pass from Lemieux on the rush but was stopped from the left circle
0:27 Frolov appeared to have a good scoring chance, but was tied up near the net by Canada's defensemen
0:23 Sokolov saved a Scott Hannan shot via the glove

Canada outshot the Russians 9-6 in the first period.

19:52 Brodeur put the pad on Sergei Gonchar from the right circle
17:38 Sokolov put a blocker save on Iginla's shot from the right circle
**16:06 With Canada shorthanded, Brad Richards took a pass from Simon Gagne on a 2-on-1 rush and beat Sokolov high to the glove side (top corner, CAN 1-0)
**14:45 Vincent Lecavalier dished off to Shane Doan on a 2-on-1 rush, and Doan was stuffed by Sokolov. Kris Draper was trailing on the play and buried the rebound, aided by Sokolov being way too far out in front of the net (CAN 2-0)
11:08 Kovalchuk's shot from just beyond the circles was gloved, then his wrist was mashed by Doan finishing the check
9:55 Richards rushed to the crease but his shot was stopped
9:29 Lecavalier had a scoring chance in the works, but was hooked in front of the crease before he could get a shot away
9:11 Sokolov deflected a wide-open one-timer off the stick of Lecavalier
8:51 Sokolov gave a rebound to Joe Sakic, who was on the doorstep. Sokolov threw his stick in Sakic's general direction, and stopped Sakic's shot with his right (stick) hand
7:34 Shorthanded, the Russians had a breakaway; Artem Chubarov dished off to Frolov, and Brodeur got his left leg on the shot
6:58 Scott Niedermayer was all alone and missed the net
3:33 Sokolov stopped Adam Foote's shot from just inside the blue line
2:28 Doan was all alone in front and was stopped
0:48 Sokolov gloved a Gagne shot from the right circle

18:50 Alexei Yashin took a centering pass from the corner and Brodeur sprawled to make the save
16:40 Maxim Afingenov deked Niedermayer, but was stopped in close on the right side by Brodeur
14:28 Pavel Datsyuk was all alone and was stoppedc by Brodeur
**14:10 Lemieux made a one-handed centering pass from the corner which was stopped by Sokolov's stick. Sokolov didn't cover up though, and the rebound went right to a waiting Sakic, who had no trouble potting the puck (CAN 3-0)
13:38 Lecavalier tries to wrap it up via the wraparound. No dice
12:47 Yashin was stopped from the left circle
12:07 Gagne's shot from the right-side boards was stopped. Canada was shorthanded at the time
**7:14 This was one Brodeur would like to have back. Afinogenov passed to Gonchar, who beat Brodeur to the stick side. I think the puck went off Brodeur and in, though I'm not sure. The puck may have knuckled, however (CAN 3-1)
0:30 Joe Thornton was stopped in close on the final power play of the game

The two teams finished with 28 shots apiece.

Kelly Hrudey said after the game that Canada was getting better defensively, though he was concerned for Canada having three days off; maybe the team might lose their groove. Hrudey also picked on Darius Kasparaitis for picking the worst time to pinch; this led to the Draper goal.

CBC's three stars: Vincent Lecavalier, Simon Gagne, Kris Draper

Canada didn't thoroughly dominate the Russians by any means, but the establishment of their physical play (most notably, finishing checks) early in the game put the Russians a bit on their heels. Brian Burke was able to point out incidences in which certain Russian players seemed to not want to be alone with the puck in fear of getting their clocks cleaned. And this is a very good Russian team. I'd have to say I'm surprised Russia only got one goal out of this, but then again, it's Brodeur in net, and the dude is nuts.

It's Slovakia and Russia tomorrow afternoon from Toronto. There's only one day the rest of the way that has two games. It's almost sad, really.

By the way, Finland and Sweden tied this morning in the game that I didn't get to recap. I did happen to see the final goal by Tomas Holmstrom, though, and it was very VERY timely. Sweden stole the win from Finland in their own building with 11 seconds left in regulation. Finland gets the number one seed in the European division, by virtue of outscoring opponents 11-4 in round-robin play.

The European quarterfinal matches are set...

Monday the 6th: (4) Germany at (1) Finland, from Helsinki
Tuesday the 7th: (3) Czech Republic at (2) Sweden, from Stockholm

If there's one reason the Swedes didn't get the number one seed in the Euro division, it's thanks to their unstable goaltending situation. I wish I didn't have to say this about Tommy Salo, but alas, it is true.

Again, Slovakia and Russia tomorrow at 4pm.

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ESPN Broadband is carrying all 4 World Cup games this weekend that won't be on the Family of Networks, in case you didn't read my post last night.

Right now, Sweden-Finland is currently in-progress, with Finland up 4-3 in the 3rd period. ESPN Broadband is using the CBC feed, with Don Wittman and Greg Millen calling the game from Helsinki.

However, don't expect any recap posts from me today, because my attention span isn't all the way on the hockey games. Not only do I have ESPN Broadband running right now, I also have Cal-Air Force on ESPN 2. As for tonight, since it's more than likely that I won't have anything going on, I'll have Oregon State-LSU on ESPN, Mariners-White Sox on WGN, and Russia-Canada on ESPN Broadband. But who knows.

Anyways, here's the rest of the schedule for the weekend (ESPN Broadband)
Russia-Canada, tonight at 4 p.m. Pacific/6 p.m. Central
Russia-Slovakia, tomorrow at 4 p.m. Pacific/6 p.m. Central
European Division Quarterfinal, Monday at 10 a.m. Pacific/Noon Central

In a football-related note, Cal is explosive.

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Friday, September 03, 2004


Cha Seung Baek had his first Major League start in the first game of the series and had a start he would like to forget. Matched up tonight against an enigmatic Jon Garland, Bobby Madritsch made his first start in his hometown. Most likely, it's a start Bobby would like to forget.

Once again, the spectrum...

Mariners on defense/pitching (bad to good)
massacre < terrible inning < some damage < fighting out of jam < decent inning < 1-2-3

Mariners on offense
I hate this team < come on, y'all < ho, hum < minimal damage < some damage < big inning

TOP 1ST -- ho, hum
Amazingly, Ichiro didn't lead off the game with a single. Nothing eventful took place in the inning other than a one-out single by Randy Winn.

BOTTOM 1ST -- decent inning
Madritsch beaned Aaron Rowand with the second pitch of the game, but got Roberto Alomar to bounce into a double play. Carlos Lee flew out.

TOP 2ND -- come on, y'all
Edgar Martinez drew a leadoff walk. Jolbert Cabrera whiffed. Scott Spiezio managed to draw a walk. Miguel Olivo whiffed. Jose Lopez flew out to Ichiro. Two walks in the inning before there were two out, and nobody scores. I'm not saying I'm surprised; it was up to the bottom of the lineup to drive in those runs, and I know better than to expect that to happen with these guys.

BOTTOM 2ND -- terrible inning
Madritsch had Paul Konerko 0-2 before yielding a single on 1-2. He was bunted over to second by Juan (not Jose) Uribe. With Jamie Burke at the plate, Madritsch balked (someone please tell me what happened in the comment box) to send Konerko to third. Then it all went downhill. Madritsch had Burke down 0-2, but he fouled off a couple pitches and watched a couple to work the count full. A wild 2-2 pitch made the count full, but was also wild, allowing Konerko to score (CHW 1-0). Joe Borchard hit a triple into rightcenter to plate Burke (CHW 2-0). Madritsch had Jose Valentin 2-2 and lost him. Joe Crede singled on the first pitch to score Borchard (CHW 3-0). Aaron Rowand would fly out to Winn for the second out, but Alomar would hit a double to score two runs (CHW 5-0). On the same play, Alomar was gunned down trying to stretch it into a triple. Five runs on five hits and 31 pitches, if anyone was wondering.

TOP 3RD -- minimal damage
Ichiro doubled to centerfield and took third when Rowand muffed the play. Winn singled him in (CHW 5-1). Bret Boone followed with a nicely placed grounder to the shortstop, who rolled a double play. Add a Raul Ibanez nondescript groundout, and what an inning it was.

BOTTOM 3RD -- 1-2-3
Madritsch used four pitches total to get through Lee and Konerko, but needed six to get through Uribe. Weird indeed.

TOP 4TH -- come on, y'all
Edgar doubled to rightfield to leadoff. Jolbert Cabrera bounced out to second (the right side), so that yes, even Edgar could get to third on the play. A well-placed fly ball from Spiezio could net the Mariners another run. A hack on the first pitch resulting in a groundout to the shortstop, though, did not. Olivo was also happy to swing at the first pitch, grounding out to Konerko at first.

BOTTOM 4TH -- 1-2-3
Madritsch settled down considerably, retiring Burke, Borchard, and Valentin (looking) in order.

TOP 5TH -- minimal damage
Lopez doubled to lead off the inning, and Ichiro grounded out to second to move Lopez to third. Winn picked up his second RBI of the night, with an ever-so-authoritative groundout to second (CHW 5-2). Boone hit a comebacker to the mound to end the inning.

BOTTOM 5TH -- decent inning
It was okay for Madritsch other than a nine-pitch at-bat by Alomar that resulted in a two-out walk.

TOP 6TH -- ho, hum
Ibanez, Edgar, and Cabrera make it easy on Garland, bowing down 1-2-3.

BOTTOM 6TH -- some damage
Madritsch got Konerko to ground out to Lopez. At that point, Madritsch had retired 10 of 11 (the 11th was a walk), and hadn't allowed a hit since Alomar's double on the last play of the 2nd. Then Uribe popped a homer to left (CHW 6-2). Then a guy ran across the outfield and was chased down by 11 security guards, today's ADT Securities Requisite White Sox Crazy-Ass Fan of the Series. Madritsch would set down Burke and Borchard to end the inning, but that'd be it for him.

Madritsch's line: 6 innings, 6 runs, 6 hits, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts, 100 pitches (75 strikes). To add to this whole "six" theme, this was the sixth Major League start for Madritsch.

TOP 7TH -- minimal damage
Olivo hit a one-out double to rightfield and moved to third on a single by Lopez. Ichiro hit a sufficiently deep fly ball to centerfield to score Olivo (CHW 6-3).

BOTTOM 7TH -- 1-2-3
Shigetoshi Hasegawa failed to lose his mind, in fact doing quite the opposite. Valentin was caught looking, and Crede and Rowand flew out.

TOP 8TH -- minimal damage
Boone got a 3-1 pitch he liked and smashed it into the bullpen in rightfield (CHW 6-4). JJ Putz caught the ball cleanly on the fly in the bullpen, as was noted on the replay, and giggled about by Rick and Ron. Former Mariner farmhand Damaso Marte came in and yielded a single to Ibanez. He was then pulled. Jon Adkins then came in and struck out the side: Edgar whiffed, and Cabrera and Spiezio looked.

BOTTOM 8TH -- some damage
JJ Putz came into the game for the Mariners. Carlos Lee finally got a hit in the game, doubling to leftcenter. Putz fell behind 3-0 on Konerko, but then got him to whiff five pitches later. Then Uribe singled on his second pitch (CHW 7-4). Burke flew out to end the inning.

TOP 9TH -- minimal damage
Olivo led off with a double and hung out at second when Crede muffed a Lopez grounder. Ichiro flew out deep enough to centerfield that Olivo taggedup and went to third. Winn doubled to score Olivo and send Lopez to third (CHW 7-5). The tying run was on second with one out. He'd already hit a homer in the game, but this was still bad timing for another 1-3 putout. Ibanez flew out to center to end the game.

Corey the Mariner Optimist doesn't go back into hiding if the Mariners lose five in a row, does he? They're two losses away from doing just that.

I really wish Bobby Madritsch could have had a start closer to the worst of his last five starts rather than the one he had tonight. 'Twas cool to see his family there, including his Larry Brown-looking dad, and Bobby's Boyz. Though Bobby's Boyz are great fun, they seem like a blatant ripoff of the Bordick Rulz crew from Oakland about a decade or so ago.

Gameball: Randy Winn. 3-for-5 with a double and 3 RBI. I have no idea what this guy did on defense tonight, so if he did make some horrendous gaffes out there, I don't know about it.

Goat: Jolbert Cabrera. 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, stranding three. Sometimes I think it's fitting that out of Carlos Guillen, Freddy Garcia, and Jolbert Cabrera, we got left with the latter out of the South American trio.

I have to relay one hilarious thing. I checked the P-I page for tomorrow's starters, and Ryan Franklin's 3-13 record didn't look so bad next to Mark Buehrle's record, which was listed as 12-80.

Franklin. Buehrle. Tomorrow.

[Edit Sat ~3:35p -- My goodness, I've been corrected by Farmer Brown. Cabrera's a Columbian, not a Venezuelan. Thus, the goat paragraph has been adjusted to be more inclusive.]

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Boy, it's nice to know that the Americans can show up in the first period.

Give credit to U.S. head coach Ron Wilson. He knew that he had to shake things up after the U.S. went winless in their first two games. So he went ahead and benched Brett Hull. I also liked the fact that Rick DiPietro got the start tonight against Slovakia, giving Robert Esche a rest. He's going to be a good one in the next few years, especially when the Islanders will ship him out of Long Island. You know they will. After all, they are the Islanders!

Anyways, this was a much-needed win for the U.S. I'm sure that Wilson will put Hull back into the lineup. Esche will probably be back in goal as well.

As for tomorrow's matchups, for the folks who don't get CBC, check out ESPN Broadband. They will air both games, Sweden-Finland and Canada-Russia, on the site. I seriously doubt that I'll watch both games, only because a) College football is on tomorrow and b) I have a ton of work to do. Who knows, maybe I'll watch the games. But don't hold me to it. If I do, I do. If I don't, I don't.

By the way, Tim Ryan has to be the worst play-by-play football announcer ever. Good god, I can't believe ESPN brought him back this season. Ugh.

The Washington State road helmets have to be the coolest helmets in college football. And as I type that, the Cougs just blocked a Lobo punt. Nice to know that the Cougs haven't lost their defensive edge over the offseason.

Touchdown Washington State, Troy Bienemann. Cougs take the lead, 21-17.

Enjoy the Labor Day Weekend. I know I won't.

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The team wearing red, white, and blue beat the other team wearing red, white, and blue.

The United States finally got something going in World Cup play, defeating Slovakia 3-1. Both teams went with different goalies in this game; Slovakia went with Jan Lasak and the USA played Rick DiPietro, resting Robert Esche. Also, Slovakia had a good-sized contingent of fans at the game.

Some of this might be rough, because I'm again lazy. Times once again are mostly approximate. There's a Mariner recap coming later, after all.

If I say "right circle," I'm using it in context of looking from center ice toward the goal. If this convention is incorrect, someone please let me know.

Team USA established a good forecheck early, and it helped set the tone for the rest of the game. Also established early was a game-long battle between Doug Weight and all 6'9" of Zdeno Chara. Bill Guerin also had some run-ins with Chara in the game.

**16:47 On a power play, Brian Leetch put a shot on the goalie, the puck flew high in the air, and lineup addition Brian Smolinski buried it from the edge of the left circle (USA 1-0).
15:45 Mike Modano was stopped on a shot from the right faceoff dot, and Bill Guerin was stopped from a few feet in front of the net.
**8:46 Chara put a shot on DiPietro, and the rebound came out to Pavol Demitra, who dished across to Ladislav Nagy. Nagy put it past DiPietro and tied the game at 1-1, but this would be short-lived.
**6:32 Chris Chelios got a hold of the puck near the blueline and centered a pass to Jason Blake. Blake was tripped as the pass was heading his way, but the puck went off his legs and in as he was sliding across the ice (USA 2-1).
4:48 Marian Hossa was foiled on a breakaway
3:41 Scott Gomez was stopped from the has marks on the right side
0:47 Jaroslav Obsut had his point shot saved

The USA outshot the Slovaks 13-9 in the period

15:56 Lasak stopped Paul Martin's shot from the right circle.
14:55 Lasak stayed solid, stopping Steve Konowalchuk's shot from the left circle.
13:32 Lasak stopped a small flurry of commotion, fending off Chris Drury and the subsequent shot off the rebound by Gomez.
13:21 Jozef Stumpel tested DiPietro in front, but the Isle was up to the challenge.

The CBC crew at this point was saying that the USA was winning more one-on-one puck battles.

10:58 Jamie Langenbrunner looked like he was on the way to a good scoring opportunity, but Marian Gaborik plowed him right beside the net on a great defensive play.
9:45 Drury blocked a shot with his toe, and limped off the ice on the next change.
5:14 Lasak had a huge stop on Smolinski, whose nickname might still be "Smoke."
4:04 Gaborik was foiled from the right circle.
3:11 Lasak had another huge stop on Drury's shot from near the front of the net.
1:26 Langenbrunner put a shot on Lasak, who stopped the puck under his equipment and didn't immediately realize where it was.

Chara and Tkachuk (along with other USA players) exchanged pleasantries to end the period.

The USA outshot the Slovaks 15-6 in the period.

17:14 DiPietro stopped a Demitra shot from 19 feet on the right side
16:30 Blake had a sharp-angle shot which met the stick of Lasak
~15:00 Chris Chelios got away with spearing
11:53 Lasak covered up after a huge influx of traffic and jabbing sticks in front of the net
9:38 Gomez was foiled from the right hash marks
**3:43 Insurance time. Mike Modano got the puck off a giveaway and found Bill Guerin racing toward the net. Guerin deked to the right and put a backhander past Lasak (USA 3-1).
1:09 Guerin was stopped by Lasak on a rush

Brian Burke said after the game that the five new players that USA coach Ron Wilson put in the lineup all played well, and that the core players of the team responded well. Kelly Hrudey agreed with this. Burke said Paul Martin had a good game for the USA, and that he deserved a spot in the lineup for the next game. Hrudey said he would consider leaving Hull on the bench for another game.

Those watching the CBC after the game were treated to old pictures of Brian Burke with the Maine Mariners and Providence College. In an interview with Ron Wilson (teammate of Burke on the Providence team), the two traded stories back and forth, and both heavily praised their old coach, Lou Lamoriello. Cheesy? Maybe. But I'm still learning about hockey, so I soak up the anecdotes and whatnot.

CBC's three stars: Doug Weight, Chris Drury, Jan Lasak

I've got a predicament here. I might actually be having a life tomorrow, so I might not see one or both of tomorrow's games. The odds of me seeing the second game are better than the first. This sucks because Finland and Sweden is quite the matchup. So is Russia/Canada. What doubly sucks about this is that Jeremy won't be able to chime in on either of these games when I'm gone beacuse the ESPN family of networks isn't carrying them.

But hey, I've posted on the first nine games out of the total 19, so that's a good run, right?

[Edit ~7:56p -- I had the shot totals for the second period, but I didn't put them in the post. Now they're in.]

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It's here.

What will I be doing this Labor Day weekend?

Tons of work. And maybe fit in a few college football games into my schedule. Sounds like fun, eh?

Anyways, I just feel the need to post right now.

---Each time ESPN or ESPN 2 shows the "ESPN 25" moment of Dale Earnhardt's death at Daytona, I get choked up. Every single time. The words of Mike Helton still ring in my head to this day: "We've lost Dale Earnhardt." And the sad part about the whole deal is that Earnhardt's crash didn't even look that bad. But on that February day in 2001, it was bad enough to take his life. I can't talk about this any longer.

---Yes, I'm a big NASCAR fan. Deal with it.

---For the 3 of you who were looking for my Seahawks post last night, there wasn't one. So here it is: Trent Dilfer might be the best backup quarterback in football. And Mike Holmgren has a very tough job to do this weekend with cuts.

---I'm tired of preseason football. Let the regular season begin.

---Utah is very, very explosive. Texas A&M is very, very bad.

---You can definitely make a case that Utah has two of the best young coaches in all of college football and basketball with Urban Meyer and Ray Giacoletti. Meyer has done a hell of a job with the football program while Giacoletti hopes to continue the success he had at Eastern Washington with the Utes. However, I will definitely miss the Rick Majerus sweaters on Big Monday, where the Utes have made plenty of appearances over the years.

---It is not "Pardon The Interruption" without Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon. I will not debate this.

---David, good job on the World Cup updates. I've only been able to catch the night games, since I've been in class during the afternoon games. Benching Brett Hull tonight is a bold move by head coach Ron Wilson. Let's hope the Americans respond well tonight. SHOW UP IN THE FIRST DAMN PERIOD!

---Damn, I missed the boat on this one. My favorite NASCAR driver, Rusty Wallace, is retiring after the 2005 season. If he wins the Daytona 500 next year, this would be one of the biggest stories in NASCAR history. Rusty has never won the Daytona 500. Quite frankly, it wouldn't be right to see Rusty go off in the distance without a Daytona 500 victory.

---If Oregon State beats LSU Saturday night in Baton Rouge, will people call the Bayou Bengals overrated? I don't think so. But those same people call USC overrated, even though they did beat Virginia Tech. Point being, I hate the "East of the Rockies Bias".

---That being said, I don't see the Beavers winning Saturday night. I'd laugh my ass off if they did win though.

--- --- --- --- --- ---

Bill Simmons' column on the year 1984 is a must read. Good stuff from the Sports Guy.

The family of networks has hockey and the Washington State-New Mexico game tonight. Hockey on ESPN 2 and football on ESPN. I love it.

Will Derting, Bronko Nagurski Award winner? The campaign starts tonight.

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The Germans and Czechs held each other scoreless in the first period in this morning's World Cup of Hockey tilt in Prague, but then the Czechs exploded like everyone knew they were capable of doing.

Olaf Kolzig was given rest by the German team, and Robert Muller started in net. Tomas Vokoun manned the net once again for the Czechs.

I'm feeling a bit lazy, so I'll give you some semi-raw notes. The times given are approximate.

18:38 Muller gloves Patrik Elias

The Germans were looking for big things out of their Martin Havlat/Elias/David Vyborny line. Marcel Goc of the San Jose Sharks was a healthy scratch for the Germans today. Luckily, Milan Hejduk was not a scratch for the Czechs.

14:52 Hejduk into the pads; Czechs getting lots of shots early

Germans get by on work ethic, but come up short eventually on talent

5:52 Daniel Kreutzer stopped
3:08 Muller covers up lying on back, Havlat throws toward net

Czechs trying to their pick their spots on the power play rather than throw pucks at the net.

Petr Cajanek doesn't get enough air on backhand on PP, hign part of net open (Muller down)

Sean Burke: not a bad period for the Germans, but Czechs picking it up, so they probably should have taken advantage of their chances

Revelation that Hull being is benched tonight

CZE 18-10 shots in 1st

17:27 Martin Straka slapshot from right circle, Muller stops
**17:04 Marek Zidlicky PP (Sasha Goc penalty) (Straka, Prospal) slapshot from the hashes left circle off the far post and in (CZE 1-0)
**15:33 Jiri Slegr between circles, German defenseman Robert Leask tries to block, but screens goalie (CZE 2-0)
**14:08 Jaromir Jagr drove hard to the net, deked the goalie left to right (Prospal pass to the tape, CZE 3-0)
9:43 Cajanek stopped on goalie's left side, scuffles with German defenseman
**9:10 PP Elias to Hejduk (CZE 4-0) from inside of left circle through five-hole of Oliver Jonas (new goalie)
7:52 Leask point blast stopped
5:31 Vaclav Prospal ten feet behind the right circle stopped
**4:12 Elias (Havlat) from the left circle, below Jonas' glove (Jonas simply missed it, CZE 5-0)

19:12 Jagr PP hits post
**~16:05 Eduard Lewandowski from right side boards redirected in front of net by Tino Boos and in (CZE 5-1)
14:17 Tomas Vlasak blast between circles, toe stop Jonas
13:28 Hejduk to Cajanek almost beats Jonas glove side
**11:01 Vlasak (after wide shot bouncing off the boards) across to Havlat, Jonas trouble going side-to-side (CZE 6-1)
7:49 Kreutzer/Vlasak skirmish part of bigger ~8 player pushing/shoving skirmish
**2:04 Jochen Hecht beats to the stick side from the near boards (CZE 6-2)
**~1:27 Prospal off the rebound of a Jagr shot (passed across in front of the crease, Prospal put a move on Jonas, CZE 7-2)

CBC's three stars: Martin Havlat, Vaclav Prospal, Patrik Elias

Burke: Jagr playing hard, working harder to create things on the ice, even racing down the ice to beat icing calls...skill display on the Prospal goal. Game should get the Czechs' confidence up.

Well, the Germans provided some formidable competition in the first period, but the Czechs blew it open in a big way in the second period and got Jaromir Jagr to actually give a crap, which, if it continues, will be an obstacle to whoever draws the Czechs in the upcoming elimination games.

Two TV notes...

(1) The CBC is running a Bell ad where all it is is a camera focusing outward from people that have picture frames and/or cell phones, and it all begins and ends with the same little girl holding a picture frame, with the end slogan being "We are all connected." The catch? If any of you remember the beginning piano sample from "In the End" by Linkin Park, the music that runs over the commercial is a piano piece in the same vein, except it's 30 seconds long and it's a really saddening piece of music.

(2) The CBC hockey broadcast ran their first extended promo of the upcoming hockey reality show, Making the Cut, where the ultimate prizes are invites to NHL training camps for Canadian teams. Scotty Bowman and Mike Keenan are involved in the show which premieres on September 21st (Tuesday). I hope I get to see every one of these shows, but if I don't, this show absolutely HAS to be released on DVD. This should be a no-brainer.

It's Slovakia against the United States this afternoon at 4pm, and let's hope for the sake of Team USA that they can snap out of it like the Czechs did today. Granted, Slovakia's got a lot better than Germany, and the USA didn't fall quite as far back as the Czechs did in their first game. Still, the USA has to just get something going. No doubt that coach Ron Wilson is making a bold statement tonight by benching Brett Hull.

[Edit ~7:59p -- Stuff I got a hold of a few hours later. Muller made 23 saves for the Germans, and Jonas made 26. Add that up with the seven goals, and the Czechs put 56 shots on the net. Vokoun stopped 28 for the Czechs.]

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It wasn't a good night for starting pitching wearing any uniform tonight at the SkyDome in a short-lived matchup between first-time starter Cha Seung Baek and Justin Miller.

I'd have to say that tonight's game featured more weird pitching deliveries than I'm used to. This doesn't involve Baek. Miller does a weird thing with his throwing arm that is painful for me to watch and reminds me of Mark Gubicza. Bob File's motion seems to me like it has something missing or he's not getting everything he can out of it; not enough loading up or something like that. Masao Kida has a motion that reminds me of an amalgam of about four Japanese pitchers of whom I can't name a single one, but I'll try. For now, I'll call it an Irabu/Hasegawa/Sasaki. I'll hate myself for even making that initial assertion, I'm sure. Part of George Sherrill's delivery reminds Steve Sandmeyer of Terry Mulholland, but Sherrill's nowhere near as crazy with the glove hand.

Again, the spectrum...

Mariners on defense/pitching (bad to good)
massacre < terrible inning < some damage < fighting out of jam < decent inning < 1-2-3

Mariners on offense
I hate this team < come on, y'all < ho, hum < minimal damage < some damage < big inning

TOP 1ST -- some damage
Ichiro singled on the first pitch because he's out of his mind. Randy Winn fouled off four pitches en route to a single. Bret Boone walked to load the bases with nobody out. Okay, so the Mariners didn't somehow manage to score zero runs in the inning, but it's not like any of the runs came in on any authoritative hard-hit and/or extra-base hits. Raul Ibanez walked (SEA 1-0), Bucky Jacobsen bounced out to the shortstop (SEA 2-0), and Jolbert Cabrera dinked one into centerfield (SEA 3-0). Three runs are three runs, I guess. Dan Wilson was caught looking and Jose Lopez whiffed to end the inning.

Total aside, but when I used the word "dinked" there, it reminded me of a band called Dink. If you remember that, well, you've got quite the musical mind. If you can manage to name their one single that got the most airplay, your mind may even be as screwed up as mine.

BOTTOM 1ST -- minimal damage
Cha Seung Baek began his first Major League start by getting Reed Johnson to fly out to Raul Ibanez on the second pitch. But the thigh-high breaking ball to Orlando Hudson wasn't so good (second deck in rightfield, SEA 3-1). But Baek bounced back to get Vernon Wells to whiff and Carlos Delgado to line out to Lopez, and getting through Wells and Delgado is never a small task.

TOP 2ND -- ho, hum
Miller, Bobby Madritsch's long-lost sleeve-wearing tattoo-covered pseudo-brother, set down the Mariners 1-2-3, slicing through Willie Bloomquist, Ichiro, and Winn like that one infomercial knife through a steak. OR A LEAD PIPE!!! I'm telling you, that knife can do anything.

BOTTOM 2ND -- massacre
I think this might be the first time I've used the massacre level since I've gone to this system of recap. This would be one inning that Baek would like to forget, and fast. Baek had Alexis Rios behind 1-2, but Rios drilled a bullet into centerfield for a single. Baek fell behind 3-0 on Eric Hinske before he drilled a single to centerfield of his own, through the wickets of a jumping umpire Laz Diaz near second base. Baek fell behind 2-0 on Zaun, who was beaned six pitches later. Zaun saw eight pitches in the at-bat, and left the game with a bruised elbow, meaning he wouldn't be rushing up Mariner pitch counts like he did the night before. Gabe Gross would be the bases-loaded-with-nobody-out hero, dinking one into leftcenter that Ibanez got caught inbetween on (not far enough in to catch on the fly, too far up to play the hop thanks to the Astroturf) to score Rios and Hinske and tie the game at 3-3. It looked for a second like Baek might dig his way out, getting Chris Gomez (after falling behind 3-0) to line out to Ibanez at the wall (there was contact with the wall on the play), and getting Johnson to whiff. But Hudson touched him up again, this time with a roped double to score Zaun and the Grossmeister (TOR 5-3). For good measure, Wells homered over the centerfield fence on the first pitch he saw (TOR 7-3). Delgado bounced out to end the inning. The damage? 6 runs, 5 hits, one beaning, 41 pitches. OUUUUCCCHHHH.

But as Rick Rizzs always reminds us, even if the Mariners are down 49596647254-0 in the top of the 9th on the road, these guys never quit.

By the way, the absence of a fourth man on the broadcast team in this series is a throwback to yesteryear for me. Two guys on TV, and one flying solo on the radio side harkens back to that one era in Mariner broadcasts where Ron Fairly never saw the radio booth and was just the color man on TV all the time. If I remember right, the reason Fairly has the immortalized radio call of Griffey's 8th homer in 8 straight games is because he was the number two play-by-play guy that year, and I think Ken Levine was doing color at the time. Anyway, I was driving when the game started and realized Rick Rizzs was flying solo. But just now, I realized that might not be so bad because I remember the last Baltimore series when Dave Valle was introducing the Baltimore lineup. He couldn't even do that right. It was beyond brutal. It was up there with the stuttering kid trying to read aloud on Billy Madison.

TOP 3RD -- ho, hum
Boone led off with a walk, but was doubled off on a good ol' Ibanez GIDP. Bucky took Gross to the track in left for the third out.

BOTTOM 3RD -- minimal damage
Baek caught Rios looking, but Hinske doubled to center. He got new catcher Kevin Cash to whiff, but the Grossinator roughed Baek up again, dinking one into centerfield to score Hinske (TOR 8-3), sending Baek to the showers. This isn't the kind of first Major League start that anyone would want to have. His line: 2 2/3 innings, 8 runs, 8 hits, 0 walks, 4 strikeouts, 83 pitches (54 strikes). The absence of walks might be the most interesting thing in that line. But that's definitely offset by the eight runs (and two home runs), more than likely meaning way too many pitches were getting too far up in the zone and getting too much of the plate (the Hudson one sure did). They've gotta give him at least one more go in the rotation though. I hope Melvin isn't knee-jerk about this and throws Villone right back into the rotation, because there's no point. The Mariners are now mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, so Melvin can't play the "we're still in it card" now.

Oh, right. The inning wasn't over. That new 35-year-old Japanese pitcher (former Orix Blue Wave player and ex-Dodger systemite) Masao Kida came in for Baek. Korea and Japan were now represented on the mound for the Mariners in the first three innings of the game. My request to the Mariners to bring me in to pitch and half-represent the Philippines evoked incessant laughter. Kida would get Gomez to line out to Ichiro to end the inning.

TOP 4TH -- some damage
Jolbert Cabrera ran out an infield single and moved to second on a Dan Wilson ground ball to third base (we want RIGHT side, Dan...). Lopez then ripped a double to left to score Cabrera (TOR 8-4). Bloomquist hacked at the first pitch and hit a comebacker to the mound. Ichiro then singled (imagine that) to score Lopez (TOR 8-5). Ichiro stole second on the first pitch to Winn, and Winn walked, rendering the steal moot. Facing new pitcher Bob File, Boone flew out to the third baseman to end the inning. Bob Melvin cringes whenever he hears Boone cursing, throwing bats, throwing helmets, and taking the chaw out from his lip with his index finger and throwing it on the ground. Quick aside...did we not learn anything from Bill Tuttle, people?

BOTTOM 4TH -- decent inning
Kida gave up an infield single to Johnson, but would get a double-play ball from Hudson, and would get Wells hacking.

TOP 5TH -- come on, y'all
Ibanez, Bucky, and Cabrera are retired in 1-2-3 fashion by the indispensable Bob File.

BOTTOM 5TH -- decent inning
Not much here off of Kida, though a two-out triple by Hinske is almost a jam.

TOP 6TH -- minimal damage
Dan Wilson led off with a double off new pitcher Vinny Chulk. Lopez moved him over to third with a groundout to second (the right side, which Rizzs and Fairly heaped wayyyy too much praise on him for). Bloomquist broke his bat on a groundout to second to score Wilson (TOR 8-6). Ichiro again singled, becaues he's nuts, then Winn bounced out to Delgado at first.

BOTTOM 6TH -- fighting out of jam
Kida walked the leadoff batter, Gross (who was having much too good of a day). One out later, Johnson singled. Hudson would fly out, however, and Kida would get Wells swinging.

TOP 7TH -- ho, hum
Ibanez hits a one-out single off new pitcher Kevin Frederick, pulls up a chair, and reads the latest Cat Fancy magazine while on first. It's a great way for him to kill time while Bucky flies out to center and Cabrera flies out to left.

BOTTOM 7TH -- decent inning
Masao Kida would not come out for the 7th. His line: 3 1/3 innings, 0 runs, 3 hits, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts, 41 pitches (25 strikes). Not too bad of a Mariner debut for the newbie. Can he make me forget temporarily about Shigetoshi Hasegawa version 2004?

Matt Thornton came on in the 7th, and we were all hoping that he wouldn't give up five runs on eight hits in an inning or something crazy like that. He got Delgado hacking, which was a good start. Walking Rios wasn't so good. He got Hinske to fly out to Cabrera, which was good. Cash singling to right wasn't good, but being the first Mariner in the game to solve Gross (flyout to Cabrera) was good.

TOP 8TH -- ho, hum
Jason Frasor quicky retired Wilson and Lopez with consecutive groundouts to Hinske. Edgar Martinez pinch-hit for Bloomquist (umm...yup, that's a good move) and doubled into centerfield. Ichiro was tired of singling, so he just grounded out to end the inning.

BOTTOM 8TH -- fighting out of jam
It was only a two-out jam that Scott Atchison had to face. Hudson drew a walk and Wells singled. But Atchison got a groundout from Delgado to end the inning.

TOP 9TH -- ho, hum
Justin Speier came on to close for the Blue Jays. Winn led off with a single to bring the tying run to the plate. Boone flew out to rightfield. Winn took second on the first pitch to Ibanez (indifference). Ibanez would be caught looking. And Bucky would whiff to end it.

Baek's first Major League start didn't go so well today. Let's hope it's a little different tomorrow for someone making their first ML start in front of his hometown fans.

Gameball: Masao Kida. Why not? I posted his line above. 3 1/3 shutout innings sure helped the Mariners in a time of need when Baek got rocked.

Goat: Bucky Jacobsen. 0-for-5 with an RBI and 2 strikeouts, stranding two.

Madritsch. Garland. 15.5 hours.

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Thursday, September 02, 2004


If you want a quick and concise recap of tonight's World Cup of Hockey game between Russia and the United States, Jeremy's post is directly below this one.

With just under nine minutes left in the first period, the USA was on a power play and two of their shots never got to the net thanks to the blocking ability of Darius Kasparaitis and Oleg Tverdovsky.

Not long after, Sergei Samsonov saw a wide open net on the far side, but shot wide.

On a Russian power play opportunity, Robert Esche made a pad save on Alexei Kovalev. With nine seconds left in the penalty, Esche gloved a shot from Alexei Yashin.

A bit later, John-Michael Liles coughed up the puck and Maxim Afinogenov raced down the ice and had his shot stopped by Esche. Vyacheslav (some call him Slava) Kozlov pounced on the rebound and took a hack, but Esche got his blocker on it. Afinogenov was also part of another Russian threat, as he and Artem Chubarov (Canuck off the rebound) put up shots on Esche with under a minute left and were once again stuffed.

The USA also got a couple of good chances from Jason Blake and Tony Amonte, both of which were disposed of by Ilya Bryzgalov, head adorned with a Mighty Duck helmet. It was a mean duck, too, meaner than the one on the uniforms. Looked like Mighty Duck mixed with Eddie the Iron Maiden mascot.

Former Canuck GM and current CBC analyst Brian Burke said the USA got away with a bad period, and that he expected a lot more from the crowd, which didn't warm up until halfway through the period. Kelly Hrudey raved about how he saw Esche at practice and he seemed really relaxed. Hrudey thought Team USA would eventually bounce back from the first period, and also thought that Maxim Afinogenov was the best player on the ice in the period. Burke said that Afinogenov skates like Pavel Bure. Hrudey said that Russians have a tendency to want to beat people one-on-one too much. Also pointed out by the crew was how two of the USA's faceoffs in the defensive zone were coughed up and led directly to scoring chances.

What it basically comes down to, though, is that Robert Esche can stand on his head every night, but Team USA can't depend on that.

Oh yeah, Russia outshot the USA by a margin of 16-4 in the period.

The USA got a power play early in the period, but weren't successful. Bill Guerin, Brett Hull, and Mike Modano (gloved) all couldn't solve Bryzgalov.

The Russians had a couple chances from Oleg Kvasha about five minutes in, who had a clear path to the net, and Pavel Datsyuk, who was victim of the toe save, the 20th overall save for Esche.

Scott Gomez was stopped on a shot just inside the blueline about eight minutes in.

A key defensive play by the USA kept the game scoreless. Afinogenov raced down the ice on a breakaway but some grunt work from Brian Rafalski preventing any legitimate scoring opportunity. At least for a couple of minutes.

Datsyuk centered a pass to Andrei Kovalenko, who was robbed by Esche. But with 7:32 left in the period, Daniel Zubrus had Liles beat behind the net. Zubrus made a wraparound move, and centered a pass. The pass went off Chris Chelios' skate and into the net (RUS 1-0). A fluky goal for sure.

The Russian lead only lasted for all of 84 seconds, though. On a power play, Modano made a pass from the right circle through the legs of the defenseman and onto the tape of Keith Tkachuk's stick. Tkachuk beat Bryzgalov to tie the score at 1-1.

Other scoring chances included a blast off the faceoff by Ilya Kovalchuk that Esche stoned, as well as a pad save by Bryzgalov on Hull.

There was sort of a weird play toward the end of the period, as Bryzgalov put the puck into the crowd, a delay of game penalty. The crew thought that Kasparaitis getting burned repeatedly had something to do with it.

Then came the best goal of the tournament so far, and the best goal I've seen in a while. The play started when Chelios was aggressive on the pinch in his own end and turned the puck over. Right after coughing up the puck, he fell into and took out fellow defenseman Jason Blake on the play. That left Tony Amonte skating backward as the last line of defense against Alexei Kovalev streaking down the ice. Kovalev put the deke of a lifetime on Amonte, and shot from a sharp angle to beat Esche high on the corner to the glove side.

About 7:30 into the period, Oleg Kvasha was stopped by Esche on a power play. Kozlov got the gas face from Esche with about 6:30 to go in the period. Sergei Gonchar was denied from the blueline on a power play with just under four minutes remaining. Alexander Frolov was also foiled on a backhand attempt later on the same power play.

But Russia would put the game away thanks to a goal that Esche would probably like a mulligan on; with just under two minutes to go, Kozlov shot a 49-footer from just beyond the faceoff circles that beat Esche (RUS 3-1). Kozlov's shot was the 45th of the game for the Russians.

Some skirmishes erupted late in the game involving Bill Guerin, Tkachuk, and Kasparaitis.

After the game, Hrudey expressed some concern over the USA having been outplayed in both games so far, and having many small things in which they didn't seem to be improving from game to game (though only two games). Burke said the USA was outperformed and outworked in every aspect of the game, and that no one on the team was providing any spark. He also commended the Russians on playing a smart 3rd period.

Doug Weight said in a postgame interview that the team was turning over the puck way too many times.

What followed from the CBC crew of Ron McLean, Burke, and Hrudey was about 10 or 15 minutes of discussion about the labor talks. It was a pretty lively debate, and though I think they had Kirk Muller via satellite on for some other purpose, they did bring him in for his two cents' worth. Anyway, Brian Burke had an interesting take on all of it, no doubt aided by the fact that he's a lawyer.

CBC's three stars: Alexei Kovalev, Maxim Afinogenov, Robert Esche

It's Germany and the Czech Republic from Prague tomorrow morning, and Slovakia and the United States in the afternoon from Saint Paul.

Yup, I think I'd call that one a must-win for the United States. Slovakia's no slouch either, they've got some talent on that team, though they'd be served a lot better with some NHL talent in goal.

Anyway, 'til tomorrow...

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Do you want my recap of the U.S-Russia game that just ended, with the Russians winning 3-1? Well, here it is.

Robert Esche was the only American who showed up tonight.

Hell, you can make a case that he's the only American who has shown up in their two games so far. The U.S. plays Slovakia tomorrow night in St. Paul. It's a must-win game for the Americans. They most certainly can't go 0-3 in the first round, that's for sure.

You may return to your usual Thursday night actitivies. What am I doing?

You take a guess.

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Germany played a decent game today, but the talent disparity between their team and the Finnish team was simply much too huge, as Miikka Kiprusoff pitched another shutout to lead Finland to a 3-0 win over the Germans.

The CBC crews once again this midday were Oake/Burke in the studio and Wittman/Millen at the game. The arena and crowd in Cologne drew some rave reviews, as the facility was well-kept and the crowd was insane. Standing-room-only tickets are sold behind each goal at the arena for $35 Canadian, and these areas were the center of chanting, singing, and the pounding of floor toms with mallets/drumsticks, the sounds of which echoed throughout the arena for the duration of the game. Greg Millen at one point suggested that the people in charge of game presentation (play stoppage music, scoreboard crowd-rousing graphics) should just go home so as not to take away from the atmosphere. If the Germans would have scored a goal in this game, the fans would have probably blown the roof off the place.

What didn't draw rave reviews was the rink itself. The glass was lower than North American standards, and the players' benches extended out to the hash marks of the faceoff circles. Not only did this provide some logistical monkeywrenches for line changes, but it also gave the defenseman a lot less opportunities to, well, clear the puck off the glass and out of their zone. In this game, there were a lot of pucks flying into the bench leading to a lot of stoppages in the play and a lot of faceoffs in the zone that the defenseman was trying to clear the puck from in the first place.

Two short notes before the recap. One, the most interesting advertisement on the boards was that for LEGO Sports. Two, the CBC (in BC at least) is airing these commercials featuring a computer-animated and semi-anthropomorphized bowling pins-being-attacked-by-ball situation. The ad ends with a tagline of "Get with the game! Go Bowling!" The ad is beyond cheesy, but that goes beyond saying. What I'm left asking myself after I see the commercial is who the hell is sponsoring these ads? Seriously, there's no indication of who put the money behind the advertisement at all. I could tolerate the commercial a little more if I found out it was backed by the PBA, but this commercial infuriates me every time I see it.

Germany was having trouble early in the faceoff circle, but Finland wasn't doing too well a job of using their speed.

On an early power play, Saku Koivu one-timed a pass to Jere Lehtinen, who was stuffed by Olaf Kolzig. About halfway through the period, Lehtinen battled for the puck in the corner and Teemu Selanne gota hold of the puck and passed to Kimmo Timonen, who beat Kolzig from the edge of the faceoff circle (FIN 1-0).

A Niklas Hagman-to-Niko Kapanen scoring opportunity was thwarted by Kolzig.

The crew agreed that other than the Germans' NHL line (Jochen Hecht, Marco Sturm, Marcel Goc), no one other than Dennis Seidelberg (property of the Flyers) was really adept to generating scoring chances.

About seven minutes in, Hecht tried to roof a shot past Kiprusoff, but it was gloved even as Kiprusoff was falling down.

A short discussion of goaltending by the crew generated tidbits such as how the Finns are cranking out much more goaltenders, and that Sweden is barely generating any goaltenders lately. Semi-ironically, goaltending is the biggest weakness right now for the Swedish team.

The Finns were playing a little more slowly in the second period as opposed to the first, and this led to more faceoff wins and scoring chances for the Germans. Tomas Martinec was on the doorstep in front of Kiprusoff, but was robbed. Stefan Ulstorf was stopped by Kiprusoff on a 2-on-1 breakaway. The Germans got a 5-on-3 power play and a Hecht-to-Mirko Ludemann play was also quashed by Kiprusoff.

About 11 minutes into the period, Kimmo Timonen connected with Teemu Selanne from the point, who scored with six seconds left on a Finnish two-man advantage (FIN 2-0).

The Finns almost scored again when Mikko Eloranta raced in from the penalty box, got an outlet pass, but Kolzig was up to the challenge.

The Finns were now playing with a lead, and started clogging the neutral zone to keep the Germans from doing anything offensively.

Olli Jokinen and Ville Peltonen were stopped early by Kolzig, who was trying to keep the game close for the Germans.

Eduard Lewandowski and Peltonen nearly came to blows late in the period.

Lehtinen had the puck on inside the blue line on the right side and moved inbetween the circles with a quick backhand that beat Kolzig high to the glove side to cap the scoring for the game (FIN 3-0).

There was a fascination with the crowd from the crew throughout the game, and in the 3rd period the camera looked toward the crowd. Actual Millen quote: "Look at the size of that beer!"

CBC's three stars: Miikka Kiprusoff, Olaf Kolzig, Jere Lehtinen

This afternoon, it's Russia and the United States from St. Paul. Keep in mind the Russian team does not feature Nikolai Khabibulin and Evgeni Nabokov, and instead will feature Ilya Bryzgalov in net.

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If the Mariners won more than five in a row, they'd need more than one hand to count the consecutive wins, and dern it, that'd be bad.

Again, the spectrum...

Mariners on defense/pitching (bad to good)
massacre < terrible inning < some damage < fighting out of jam < decent inning < 1-2-3

Mariners on offense
I hate this team < come on, y'all < ho, hum < minimal damage < some damage < big inning

TOP 1ST -- come on, y'all
Ichiro led off the game with a single, not that we've seen that before or anything. He stole second on the 1-2 pitch to Randy Winn, and went to third on Winn's groundout. Bret Boone walked to put runners on the corners. Raul Ibanez grounded out 1-2 (groundouts to the catcher always look great in the game log), and Ichiro held at third while Boone moved into scoring position. Then Edgar Martinez was caught looking. There goes that scoring opportunity.

BOTTOM 1ST -- 1-2-3
Gil Meche got three groundball outs from the top third of the Blue Jay lineup.

TOP 2ND -- ho, hum
Miguel Olivo singled with two out, but that was about it.

BOTTOM 2ND -- fighting out of jam
The inning didn't start too nicely for Meche, who walked Carlos Delgado and allowed an Alexis Rios single. Meche would buckle down. One pitch got Eric Hinske to fly out. Meche got Gregg Zaun to whiff, and Gabe Gross flew out.

TOP 3RD -- ho, hum
David Bush makes the Mariner top three look like mincemeat, getting Ichiro to ground out and getting Winn swinging and Boone looking.

BOTTOM 3RD -- fighting out of jam
Meceh had some adversity in the 3rd. Chris Gomez fouled off six pitches in a 10-pitch at-bat that resulted in a groundout. Frank Menechino's ground ball to Boone was muffed (wish I could have seen it). Orlando Hudson drew a walk, with Vernon Wells coming to the plate. Not good. It is good, though, if you manage to get Wells to bounce into an around-the-horn double play to end the inning.

TOP 4TH -- ho, hum
Yes, it's seven in a row for David Bush, as he slices through the middle third of the Mariner lineup with ease.

BOTTOM 4TH -- fighting out of jam
Meche didn't start this one off too well, walking Delgado on four pitches. At least he's not hitting a homer, I guess. Rios and Hinske then flew out to make things a little easier. Zaun pushed Delgado to third, but a Gross flyout took care of the inning.

TOP 5TH -- ho, hum
Make it ten straight retired for Bush, this time with the bottom third of the Mariner lineup going away 1-2-3.

BOTTOM 5TH -- 1-2-3
Meche had a fairly comfortable eight-pitch inning.

TOP 6TH -- some damage
Ichiro singled to lead off. Winn whiffed (not a good day for him at the plate). Boone smashed his 19th homer (man, what a crappy year) over the wall in right to break the scoreless tie (SEA 2-0). Two flyouts ended the inning.

BOTTOM 6TH -- some damage
Meche got a flyout from Wells. But then Delgado singled and Rios managed to get a triple (I'd like to see replay of this; SEA 2-1). Such was the end of the road for Gil Meche on this night, whose pitch count was something I used to equate to Freddy Garcia in April, back when he had that habit of starting slow and warming up with the weather. I've noticed that I have Meche fighting out of a jam in every inning except the 1st and 5th (1-2-3). Pitch counts of the other innings: 27 (2nd), 21 (3rd), 22 (4th), 10 (6th). Big dents in the pitch count include Gregg Zaun, who saw 15 pitches over his two at-bats against Meche, and the 10-pitch marathon at-bat by Chris Gomez that led off the 3rd. Boone's error didn't help the cause either, though Meche helped himself out with the double-play ball on the first pitch to Wells. Meche's line: 5 1/3 innings, 2 runs, 4 hits, 3 walks, 1 strikeout, 105 pitches (59 strikes). Call me crazy, but I think that ball/strike ratio kind of tells the story. I don't know if it's just me, but I'm thinking that I'm seeing the word "foul" pop up a lot more than usual when I look at the batters that Meche faced tonight in the game log.

Ron Villone came in for Meche and the lead was gone after one pitch thanks to a sacrifice fly to Randy Winn territory in centerfield (tie 2-2). Villone would warm up a pot of hot water by allowing a Zaun double and by walking Gross, but Gomez flying out took care of that.

TOP 7TH -- ho, hum
Just some two-out false hope in this inning. Olivo drew a two-out walk, and found himself standing on third after Jose Lopez singled to centerfield. The fact that Toronto called a pitch-out with Olivo on first is, well, I'm giggling thinking about it, even though I know Olivo can pick 'em up and put 'em down pretty well for a catcher. Ichiro was put on base, and Winn flew out to continue his crappy night at the plate.

BOTTOM 7TH -- some damage
Technically, he blew the save in the 6th, but now it was Villone's turn to blow the game. Giving Frank Menechino a homerable pitch on an 0-2 count is certainly a good way to do that (TOR 3-2). Villone got Hudson to whiff, which was good, and then walked Wells, which is bad. A crappy pickoff throw by Villone allowed Wells to scoot over to third. Delgado singled to plate the insurance run, the run that got aboard via a four-pitch walk. Heck, it was so bad that Bob Melvin brought in Shigetoshi Hasegawa, who got two outs on three pitches to end the inning.

TOP 8TH -- ho, hum
Jason Frasor handed the Mariners their fourth 1-2-3 inning of the night, setting down Boone, Ibanez, and Edgar.

BOTTOM 8TH -- decent inning
If anyone's curious, Zaun saw 25 pitches over four at-bats tonight, 22 over 3 ABs if you leave out the one where he doubled in the 6th. Hasegawa only allowed a two-out single to Gomez in the inning.

TOP 9TH -- ho, hum
Bucky Jacobsen battled back from 0-2 to work the count full and hit a ball to Rios in rightfield, who had the ball in the palm of his glove and had it roll out. Bucky stood on second and his pinch-runner Willie Bloomquist pitched a tent, as Justin Speier came in from the bullpen and the next three hitters would go away 1-2-3. The final play (Lopez groundout to first) was somewhat interesting, as the ball nicked the bag, Delgado grabbed the ball off the ground with his glove hand, and tagged the bag with his right hand. He had to yank the hand away quickly, so as not to get it run over and/or spiked by Lopez coming down the line. Weird way to end a ballgame. Not as weird as a walk-off balk or a walk-off visual obstruction call, but weird nonetheless.

There's a chance that the Blue Jays might draw more than the 22310 they did tonight at the SkyDome because Team Canada doesn't have a hockey game tomorrow night.

Gameball: Ichiro. 2-for-3 with a stolen base. He was the only Mariner with a multihit game tonight.

Goat: Randy Winn. 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, stranding three. He's been hitting pretty well for a decent stretch now, but after Delgado tagged up from first last night, I cringe whenever I see a ball hit to centerfield with runners on, and if I'm reading the game logs, I'm looking to see if there were any unusual runner advances on the plays involving Randy Winn. There's much more discussion of this over at the USS Mariner.

Baek. Miller. Fourteen hours.

[Edit ~2:32p -- Wheelhouse Steve reminds me that Bloomquist pinch-ran for Bucky, which I didn't have before but now has been put into the post.]

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That's the best post headline I can come up with tonight, and that'd only happen if two players off the Slovakian team got together and formed a limited liability corporation. That and I saw their last names were anagrams of one another.

Tonight it was the stacked Canadian squad against Slovakia. Though the Slovaks don't have an NHLer in goal (Rastislav Stana), they still have players like Miroslav Satan, Marian Gaborik, Zdeno Chara, Jozef Stumpel, Marian Hossa and a few more NHLers. Richard Zednik, however, came down with food poisoning the night before the game and did not play for the Slovaks.

The two teams started the game with a furiously fast pace. Just past three minutes in, Joe Thornton picked Zdeno Chara's pocket in the Slovakia zone and beat Stana from the faceoff circle (CAN 1-0). I'm sure all the Boston Bruin fans out there love how Thornton is showing up approximately three months late.

A mere 1:41 later, the Canadians tallied once again. Adam Foote kept a puck from squirting past the blueline and passed to Ryan Smyth, who camped behind the net for a while but then scored on a semi-wraparound after Ladislav Suchy took the bait and tried to pursue him behind the net (CAN 2-0).

With about seven minutes left in the period, Martin Brodeur stopped Marian Gaborik on a breakaway (outlet pass from Stumpel) and stopped Miroslav Satan (I think it was him) on the rebound.

Shots in the first period were eight apiece for the teams.

I jotted down some short notes from the CBC crew (Ron McLean, Brian Burke, Kelly Hrudey) at the intermission. Kelly Hrudey said the period was pretty much even, but Brodeur outplayed Stana (why wouldn't he?). Hrudey noted that Marian Hossa was quiet in the period, and that Chara was sort of nonchalant on the giveaway play (or before it, handling the puck) that led to Canada's first goal. Brian Burke said Chara's teammates should have communicated with Chara because there's no way he could have seen Thornton coming. Burke also thinks Gaborik was the fastest skater in the game, and possibly the fastest skater in the tournament.

If you're hoping that the recap ends soon, your prayers are answered because I fell asleep (not enough sleep the night before) about halfway through the second period, and didn't wake up until there were about five minutes left in the game. Here's a summary of what I have written down.

Canada had a scoring chance when Vincent Lecavalier centered a pass down low to Smyth, who was stuffed twice by Stana. Stana also stopped Kris Draper on an open-ice shot, and Shane Doan also was stuffed after being fed with a quick pass.

Martin St. Louis got a hold of a Slovak turnover and had an outmanned rush with Simon Gagne. St. Louis centered the puck, and it was deflected by Chara's stick right to Simon Gagne, who beat Stana just short of five minutes into the period (CAN 3-0).

Canada had two other scoring chances I have written down. Shane Doan was along the end boards and teamed with Brad Richards racing in off the bench for a one-timer that was stopped by Stana. Lecavalier found Jarome Iginla on the doorstep, but he couldn't pound it in, and still is without a point in the two games (that'll change though).

Then it was revealed that Canada/Vancouver Canuck defenseman Ed Jovanovski has a 2nd degree MCL sprain, which usually takes 4-6 weeks to heal. Unfortunately, I just read a postgame article, and apparently he's also got a cracked rib. Great. Scott Hannan took Jovanovski's spot in the game, and Jay Bouwmeester will take the roster spot. Keep in mind the Canadians lost Rob Blake and Chris Pronger before the tournament.

I'm not going to try to make a bunch of stuff up here, so I'll leave it to these words from Nick Libero of NHL.com...

St. Louis notched his second of the night 58 seconds into the final period when he teamed up with Tampa linemate Brad Richards and one-timed a gorgeous cross-ice pass from the lower right circle.

Slovakia finally broke the shutout when Tampa's Martin Cibak scored at 4:53 of the third to make it 4-1. Smyth added the fifth goal of the game at 7:11 and narrowly missed a chance for a hat trick with a minute to play.

CBC's three stars: Martin Brodeur, Ryan Smyth, Martin St. Louis

The CBC crew heaped some praise on Brodeur because he has the ability to make stops consistently even after long periods of inactivity, something most goalies have trouble with. This would explain all those 19- or 20-save shutouts that Brodeur walks away with each season. Brodeur has stopped 47 of 49 shots over the first two Cup games.

Also, it was revealed that Canada/Ottawa defenseman Wade Redden left in the 2nd period with the dreaded "upper body injury." If there's anything you need to indicate that Ed Jovanovski is done for the tournament, it's that his injuries are a cracked rib and a 2nd-degree MCL sprain, not "lower body injury" and "upper body injury."

For the second night in a row, Canada maintained its high level of intensity; last night against the USA and tonight against Slovakia. They have also been quite adept at protecting the lead.

Tomorrow it's Finland and Germany from Cologne in the morning, and Russia and the United States from St. Paul, MN in the afternoon, during the Mariner game.

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Wednesday, September 01, 2004


No, I'm not going to comment on the Kobe Bryant trial, or lack there of.

TV Guide needs to find some editors that aren't stuck in 2003. Check out these gems:

Mariners vs White Sox, Saturday 6 p.m. WGN
"Besides famous DHs, the Mariners possess unheralded outfielders in Mike Cameron (a former Sox prospect who homered 4 times at Comiskey last April) and Magglio Ordonez, as well as shakier-than-expected closers in Kaz Sasaki and Billy Koch."

1. Mike Cameron doesn't play for the Mariners anymore.
2. Same with Kaz Sasaki. Billy Koch is now with the Marlins.
3. Cameron had his 4 HR night on May 2, 2002, not in April 2002.
4. Magglio Ordonez is out for the season.

Here's the second and final gem:

Red Sox vs Athletics, Wednesday 9 p.m. ESPN
"The Yankees, Mariners, Red Sox, and A's all know it---no matter how many games they win, one of them isn't playing October baseball.
After wrapping up a monster four-game set in Oakland this afternoon, Grady Little's squad is off to Seattle for the weekend. The Sox can certainly match Miguel Tejada and Oakland in the clutch-hitting department..."

1. Well, the Mariners definitely aren't playing in the postseason this season.
2. Out of those 4 teams in 2003, guess who didn't make the postseason?
3. Boston is in Oakland Monday-Wednesday, then travels to Seattle for a four-game series with the M's.
4. Miguel Tejada is now an Oriole.

Hey, maybe I should apply for a job with TV Guide Online. At least I know how to do research. But somehow I don't think they'll be calling me anytime soon.

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Sweden hung on late to defeat the Czech Republic 4-3 in this morning's World Cup of Hockey game, the fourth Cup game out of 19 total Cup games on the schedule.

The CBC game crew today was Don Wittman and Greg Millen.

Predictably, after the shaky play in goal after the first game, the Swedes sat Tommy Salo and put Mikael Tellqvist in net. Not so predictably, Czech coach Vladimir Ruzicky benched Milan Hejduk, a guy who has 50-goal seasons on his resume. No real explanation was provided for this, and a CBC intermission interview with Martin Straka yielded no straight answers other than basically the company line. Apparently, Jaromir Jagr was also rumored to say that he didn't want to be playing in the Cup and said he should be on summer vacation right now. Needless to say, all of the broadcasting crew threw him under the bus for saying this.

The Czechs came out a little better overall than they did in their first game (and much better on defense), though they still weren't all that great.

Early in the period, Peter Forsberg hit the post after Marek Zidlicky gave away the puck after a bad pinch.

Conversely, Mikael Tellqvist made a key save on Martin Straka after he got the puck on a giveaway.

The Swedes were on the rush, and Markus Naslund passed the puck across to Henrik Zetterberg, but he didn't get enough juice on his shot, which was easily stopped.

The first goal of the game came when Mats Sundin got control of the puck behind the Czech net and dished the puck across to Fredrik Modin, who put the puck past Tomas Vokoun, probably with his own jersey (SWE 1-0). It wasn't his stick.

In the period, the Swedish defensemen were very aggressive on the pinch, sometimes to a fault, leading to some treacherous giveaways.

The studio crew (Scott Oake and Sean Burke) revealed that Canada defenseman (and Vancouver Canuck) Ed Jovanovski has a twisted knee and Ed indicated to some people that he may not return for the tournament. Big blow for the Canadians.

On an early Swedish power play, Marek Zidlicky lost the puck along the end boards in the Czech zone thanks to some grunt work by Naslund and Sundin. Tomas Holmstrom seized the puck and found Peter Forsberg, who banged it home (SWE 2-0).

Not long after, Daniel Alfredsson dug the puck out of the corner and found Mattias Ohlund, who tallied goal number three for the Swedes. Fredrik Modin drew the other assist on the play (SWE 3-0).

The Swedes would later once again find themselves on the power play, and for the third time in the game, they converted. Kim Johnsson fired a shot from the point with Vokoun stopped, but Henrik Zetterberg got in behind the Czech defensemen and put in the rebound (SWE 4-0).

Though they weren't nearly as asleep as they were in their first game against Finland two days ago, the Czechs were still seeing the same results, and it looked especially bleak when the Swedes killed off a 5-on-3 situation.

Late in the period, the Czechs had a scoring chance when Vaclav Prospal centered to Jagr in front of the net, but he was stopped by Tellqvist after struggling to find the puck and get off a decent shot amidst a three- or four-player scramble in front of the net.

Something appeared in this game that I hadn't seen in the three European games so far: something close to a fight. They just haven't been fighting at all, which I'm sure has a lot to do with the European style of play. It sure wasn't like the USA/Canada game last night where there were quite a few incidents. Martin Havlat and Henrik Zetterberg come to blows late in the period in the first real occurrence of fighting or roughing that I've seen (or actually remembered) in the European games in the World Cup to this point.

The Euros count up to 20 minutes on the arena clock (think soccer) during games rather than count down to zero like we do in this continent. It messed up the officials bigtime, and play was stopped for a short time, and play would be stopped on multiple occasions through the remainder of the game in attempts to fix the clock and make it run the other way.

Throughout the first two periods, the Swedish strategy consisted largely of firing point shots on the power play and going to the net to follow their shots and pick up rebounds. Seems simple enough, right?

In an after 40 interview, Pat Quinn told the CBC that there was "knee separation" on the Jovanovski injury. Not good.

After two periods of play, Tomas Vokoun had saved 14 shots and let four goals through, whereas Mikael Tellqvist had stopped all 22 shots he faced.

Hey, looked who showed up...it's the Czech Republic hockey team!! Welcome to the tournament!

Early in the period, Martin Havlat rifled a shot from the point that was redirected by Martin Rucinsky (Canuck) who was rushing toward the net. The Czechs would not go scoreless in this game, no sir.

The Czechs finally were working harder and the Swedes were having trouble keeping up. Not long after the Rucinsky goal, Henrik Zetterberg gave the puck away in his own zone. Jiri Dopita took control of the puck and found Zidlicky for the second Czech goal.

The Czechs almost scored their third goal after Jiri Slegr fired one just inside the blue line and Prospal redirected the puck toward Tellqvist. The puck got through Tellqvist's pads, but was moving slowly toward an open net. Prospal couldn't get out of the grasp of his defender, and Sundin raced in behind Tellqvist to make sure the puck didn't go in.

Later in the period, the Swedish penalty killing unit had just killed off a penalty but was under heavy pressure by the Czechs and were probably exhausted. Roman Hamrlik had his shot stopped by Tellqvist, but Patrik Elias pounced on the rebound and put it through the five-hole on Tellqvist, who was out of the crease. When it was all over, The Czeches scored three goals in the span of 11:13.

Andreas Johannson of the Swedes got called for a very untimely holding penalty with under two minutes left in the game. The Czechs had a power play and pulled Vokoun, allowing them to throw six skaters at the Swedes for the rest of the game. The CBC crew questioned the decision by Czech coach Vladimir Ruzicky to leave Jiri Dopita in the game, saying that although he's a faceoff specialist, you probably want someone else out there if you want offensive chances. The Czechs went with Daniel Alfredsson two chances at the empty net, but blew a tire at center ice on one of them after some contact (the fans thought he was hauled down). Tellqvist had a couple of key saves in the power play stretch, one of which came against Patrik Elias.

The Swedes played two great periods and played one not-so-good one. The Czechs didn't awaken from their slumber until the 3rd period, and they snapped back in a big way, requiring the Swedish team to hang on late.

CBC's three stars: Daniel Alfredsson, Martin Havlat, Fredrik Modin

If there's one thing we've learned from Sweden's first two games, it's this: don't make penalties if you're playing against Sweden, and really really stay away from stupid penalties, because the Swedish power play is absolutely nuts. You could commit a penalty against the Swedish team, but they'll just throw out some combination of Forsberg, Naslund, Zetterberg, Holmstrom, Sundin, et al. No big deal.

Canada and Slovakia at 4pm, with Canada thankfully wearing the white sweaters.

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Alex Rodriguez after the Yankees' 22-0 loss to the Indians Tuesday night:

"I had some long years in Seattle...but nothing quite like this"

If there's any justice in the world, then the Yankees would never win the World Series while this a**hole is playing for them. I didn't have anything against the guy when he left Seattle for Texas. But right now, let's just say that if he were to tear his ACL tonight in the Bronx, I wouldn't shed one tear.

Go f**k yourself, Alex. In the mouth. Threeve times.

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Tuesday, August 31, 2004


Jamie Moyer still hasn't won in over two months, but coming out with a no-decision didn't seem likely given the homer-happy fate he endured early in the game and the situation in which he left.

Also, every Mariner in the starting lineup managed to get a hit tonight. Ichiro managed to get 2 RBI, which of course means the bottom of the lineup had to be doing something. They did (great night for the bottom third).

Again, the spectrum...

Mariners on defense/pitching (bad to good)
massacre < terrible inning < some damage < fighting out of jam < decent inning < 1-2-3

Mariners on offense
I hate this team < come on, y'all < ho, hum < minimal damage < some damage < big inning

TOP 1ST -- ho, hum
I wasn't expecting the Mariners to do much against Josh Towers. Ichiro, Randy Winn, and Bret Boone lived up to the low expectations, as they were retired 1-2-3.

BOTTOM 1ST -- decent inning
The only bad thing by Moyer in the inning was the two out walk to Vernon Wells, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, because there were two outs, and it was Vernon Wells at the plate.

TOP 2ND -- ho, hum
Raul Ibanez led off with a single, Edgar Martinez was caught looking, Bucky Jacobsen bounced into a double play. Move along, folks, nothing to see here.

BOTTOM 2ND -- fighting out of jam
Here, the only jam was with two outs, but it was a little more than just a two-out walk like in the 1st inning. There was a Frank Menechino two-out walk, followed by Chris Woodward singling to center. Kevin Cash stopped the nonsense by hitting into a 4-6 fielder's choice.

TOP 3RD -- ho, hum
Jolbert Cabrera led off with a single and was doubled off on a nicely placed Dan Wilson grounder to Orlando Hudson at short. That's called a double play. Jose Lopez whiffed.

BOTTOM 3RD -- terrible inning
This thing with Jamie Moyer and home runs is getting to be ridiculous. Hudson hit a double with one out, and one out later, Carlos Delgado went yard (TOR 2-0). Eric Hinske saw one pitch and went yard also (TOR 3-0). Alexis Rios hit a double. These were hard-hit balls. Menechino then singled to drive in Rios (TOR 4-0). Woodward ended the 4-run inning with a groundout.

TOP 4TH -- come on, y'all
Bret Boone ran out an infield single with two out. Raul Ibanez doubled to leftfield, and Boone broke for home, only to be gunned down at the dish. The Mariners would stay behind four runs at that point and like it.

BOTTOM 4TH -- decent inning
Nothing here other than a Reed Johnson single with one out.

TOP 5TH -- some damage
Edgar singled to lead off and was in the same spot two outs later. Dan Wilson singled to centerfield, then Lopez came through with a well-anticipated busting-out of the whoopin' stick. A smash to centerfield brought the Mariners within one (TOR 4-3). Ichiro singled to rightfield because he's nuts, and because that's just what he does. I have no idea why Josh Towers wasn't on the mound for the Blue Jays in the 6th. He'd only thrown 78 pitches up to that point, and hell, Freddy Garcia at times had 85 or 90 at the same point in some games. I don't know if Towers was injured, on a pitch count, or what. The wire article isn't giving me anything to work with here.

BOTTOM 5TH -- fighting out of jam
Really, it was a sort of weak jam. With two outs, Riod walked and Menechino singled. Woodward ended another inning with a groundout, though.

TOP 6TH -- come on, y'all
I didn't know much Kevin Frederick coming in except that he had a high ERA. Bret Boone, Ibanez, and Edgar failed to read the memo, however, going down 1-2-3.

BOTTOM 6TH -- 1-2-3
Moyer had his best inning, setting down Kevin Cash, Johnson, and Hudson in order.

TOP 7TH -- some damage
Cabrera got aboard on an infield single, chasing Frederick. Vinny Chulk got a quick ground ball from Wilson to force Cabrera out at second. Wilson would stand on third after Lopez singled. Ichiro then had an ever-so-rare RBI opportunity, and seized it with a single to centerfield to tie the game at 4-4. For today, it's Clutchiro (trying to resist a slam on his second halves of the past two years...resisting...gnashing teeth...). Winn followed with a single of his own to give the Mariners the lead (SEA 5-4). Boone would walk, and Ibanez would fly out to end the inning. But the lead changed hands, did it not? That's something.

BOTTOM 7TH -- some damage
Delgado singled with one out off Moyer. Hinske is listed in the game logs as flying out to centerfield, and Delgado tagged up and went to second. SportsLine's game logs do specify whether a flyout is "deep" or not. This one wasn't, but Delgado advanced into scoring position. Since I didn't see the play, I am left to once again ask myself why Randy Winn is playing centerfield for this team. Anyway, with Delgado in scoring position, Rios singled to centerfield to score Delgado and tie the game at 5-5. The log indicates that Rios went to second on the throw, which once again makes me factor Winn into the equation. I'm wondering if it was a rainbow throw or a bad relay.

Either way, Rios was the last batter Moyer would face. His line: 6 2/3 innings, 5 runs, 10 hits, 3 walks, 1 strikeout, 101 pitches (67 strikes). Don't forget the two homers. To his credit, all of the walks Moyer gave up occurred with two out and none of them scored. But ten hits? That's a little crazy. There aren't many times where I hear sentences like "Jamie Moyer scattered 10 hits over 6 2/3 innings en route to a victory, extending the Mariners' winning streak to five games." I don't think you use the word "scattered" for anything over 8 hits.

Scott Atchison came in and had Menechino 1-2 before throwing three straight balls to walk him. Luckily, Woodward would end yet another inning with a groundout.

TOP 8TH -- some damage
Bucky doubled with one out. Bloomquist ran for him. Cabrera walked on four pitches. Since Dave Myers is out of his mind, and since Willie Bloomquist is Willie Bloomquist, Willie broke for third on the first pitch to Wilson, and luckily he made it. Three pitches later, Wilson singled to give the Mariners the lead (SEA 6-5). Lopez whiffed. Ichiro singled because that's what he does; it was his 56th hit of August, two more than Alex Rodriguez in August 1996. Said single drove in Cabrera with an insurance run (SEA 7-5). The runners moved into scoring position on a wild pitch, but Winn whiffed.

BOTTOM 8TH -- fighting out of jam
Gregg Zaun led off with a four-pitch walk. Luckily, he would catch the front end of a Johnson double-play ball. Hudson walked also, but would be witness to Vernon Wells whiffing. Atchison didn't give up any runs, but he didn't have his best outing either, walking three batters in the 1 1/3 innings he logged in the game.

TOP 9TH -- ho, hum
Boone led off with a single and then was erased on an Ibanez double play. Edgar whiffed.

BOTTOM 9TH -- 1-2-3
George Sherrill came on for what seemed like a save. He got Delgado to fly out, and got Hinske to ground out to Cabrera. Then Bob Melvin decided to go with JJ Putz to face Alexis Rios to get one single solitary out. Rios lined out to Ichiro. I hope JJ Putz had fun earning the easiest save of his life tonight. Big thanks to Bob Melvin, because I'm sure this experience tonight was great for both Sherrill and Putz.

Corey, the Mariner Optimist, welcome back. ...Right?

I'm kind of surprised that the Blue Jays managed to draw a shade over 21000 on the same day and at the same time as the USA/Canada World Cup of Hockey matchup.

Gameball: Jose Lopez. 2-for-4 with a three-run blast. It's good to see this out of Lopez, the Mariners' shortstop of the future who hasn't shown us yet that he can hit consistently at the Major League level, but has shown us that every throw to first base can and should be an adventure.

Goat: Raul Ibanez. Everyone in the Mariner lineup got a hit tonight, and Jamie Moyer almost got through seven innings, even while giving up ten hits, five runs, and two smashes. So what am I to do? I gave the goat to the hitter who drove in the least amount of runs and stranded the most runners. Raul was 2-for-5 with a double, but drove in zero runs and stranded five.

Meche. Bush. Tomorrow.

[Edit ~11:19p -- Hilarious. Even in this year of suckitude, the Mariners have won five in a row, and STILL haven't gained a game on the A's, who have won eight straight. It's reminiscent of last year when they went a month or something crazy without gaining on the A's on a day in which they played.]

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