No Regard

May 18, 2008

Night in Review

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — hoyler @ 10:39 am

With just one playoff game between the NHL and NBA and no big MMA or boxing cards, Horse Racing to make the nation forget an overblown tragedy at the May 3 Kentucky Derby with the second leg of the Triple Crown. Big Brown certainly did his part, putting on one of the most impressive Preakness performances in a long time, holding off through the first 3/4 mile before annihilating the field down the stretch to win by five lengths.

My initial thoughts after the race were that, while impressive, Big Brown is benefiting from a weaker-than-usual class of 3 year olds. I stand by that, to a point, especially when considering how the only competitive horses in yesterday’s race got there by burning themselves out early and simply holding off the dregs of the field to finish in or near the money. The burnout performances of Gayego and Hey Byrn were indicative of the fact that nobody from this field should be racing in three weeks at the Belmont Stakes.

Casino Drive, a Japanese colt with just two starts (but two wins) under his belt, is likely the only thing standing between Big Brown and the Triple Crown. He’ll be in New York again after a dominating win at the Peter Pan Stakes.

The Peter Pan, while a good test for a 3 year old racing at Belmont for the first time, is just a nine furlong race. The Stakes is a mile and a half torture test, and I don’t expect Casino Drive to hold up, especially when considering the jockey who rode him to victory at the Peter Pan, Kent Desormeaux, has been and will again be aboard Big Brown on June 7.

For the younger race fans out there, like myself, it will be nice to see the first Triple Crown winner in our lifetime. But the pessimist in me just keeps thinking there is something missing from this year’s class, no true challenger for an all-time great. You never know, though; many people felt the same way about Smarty Jones in 2004, when Birdstone came back on the final furlong to buck 36-1 odds in victory. In that race, experts claim Smarty Jones was taken out to the lead too early by jockey Stewart Elliott; Desormeaux won’t make that same mistake, and barring a catastrophe I’m confident Big Brown will be the first TC winner since Affirmed and Seattle Slew went back-to-back in 1977 and 1978.

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

Detroit 3, Arizona 2: “Armando Galaragga is a magician.” The words of D-Backs color commentator and former major league pitcher Tom Candiotti described it best, as the Tigers starter overcame five walks in six innings to beat Arizona phenom Max Scherzer, who was let down by a mix of bad control (four walks, including one of Galaragga in what proved to be the fatal fifth inning) and even worse defense. Scherzer did not allow an earned run, lowering his ERA to 2.33 after his five-inning start, but he wasn’t able to work out of a jam in his final inning and was tagged with the second loss of his career. Detroit won for the first time this year when scoring four runs or less. Only 23 wins to go to get to .500 in that category, as they were 0-24 entering Saturday when failing to post at least five runs.

Pittsburgh 7, Cubs 6: Nate McLouth stepped in to face Carlos Marmol in the top of the ninth with a runner on first and the game tied at five. Two of the NL Central’s hottest young players battling for the fourth time in their careers, and McLouth improved to 4-for-4 against the 25-year-old fireballer, drilled a fastball into the Wrigley Field seats to give the Pirates the lead for good. It broke Marmol’s 13-inning scoreless streak and negated Alfonso Soriano’s continued dominance of Pittsburgh pitching, his two home runs taking a backseat to another feather in the cap of McLouth, who is quieting all who believed this hot start would fizzle out sooner or later. The Pirates are now one game under .500, an impressive accomplishment considering how bad they’ve been in the early parts of the last few seasons.

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE

Dallas 2, Detroit 1: Henrik Lundqvist is one of the NHL’s best and most popular players; a star goaltender in the league’s premier market (New York), Lundqvist has not only made the playoffs in each of his three seasons, he’s been a candidate for the Vezina Trophy for the league’s best goaltender in each season. But yesterday, his twin brother Joel, a scrappy forward for the Dallas Stars, stepped into a brighter spotlight than Lundqvist has ever seen, scoring the game-winning goal and generally annoying the hell out of the Detroit Red Wings in a series-extending win. Dallas, left for dead after getting pounded in the first three games, has won two straight and will go home Monday night for Game 6 with an unbelievable amount of confidence. The onus is squarely on Detroit, and while this Red Wings team seems more equipped to handle pressure than the last couple of squads, a loss tomorrow, in my opinion, will put them in a situation the franchise has never dealt with. Only two teams have come back from 3-0 in an NHL playoff series, the last being in 1975. Should Dallas win at home tomorrow, I believe they will became the third. Philadelphia has the opportunity to put the same pressure on Pittsburgh today in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference Final, though I’m expecting Pittsburgh to close it out today on home ice.

(Photo by PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

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