Showing posts with label Other Sports. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Other Sports. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Most Underrated NBA Free Agent Ever

Sporthot | 11:43:00 PM |
We have to wonder, who among the 2017 NBA free agent class will have the most impact come the next few seasons?

There were a number of massive contracts handed out to household names like Stephen Curry, Blake Griffin and Kevin Durant.

But, what of the deals for good complementary players (still for fairly big money) who may have a hand in a championship a year, or two, or three down the road? We like the signings of Jeff Teague and Taj Gibson in Minnesota as well as Paul Millsap in Denver. Up and coming teams who definitely got better.

Historically, there have been many great free agent acquisitions, like LeBron James going from Cleveland to Miami and back to Cleveland. Questionable ethics on the first move, but he’s been a saviour in Cleveland after going back.

The best deals, in our estimation, have been for players who, though they may not be the biggest name, or a little past their prime, who made huge contributions to championships, or claimed significant individual honors.

Here are 15 of the best, and underrated, free agent signings in NBA history, in no particular order.

15. Chris Bosh – Miami Heat 2010
His career may be all but over as of today, but Chris Bosh meant a lot to the Miami Heat, who officially waived him last week, mostly due to ongoing health issues that have kept him out of basketball since February 2016. It wasn’t always thus for the 11-time All-Star and two-time NBA champion. In 2010, after seven standout seasons in Toronto, Bosh was a free agent and at a crossroads. The 2009-10 Raptors underachieved and Bosh became the third wheel in chatter about himself, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James and where they would sign the summer of 2010. The Heat upped the ante on Toronto and completed a sign-and-trade for the talented big man. The much ballyhooed signing of James and re-signing Wade, along with Bosh, was dubbed “the Big 3.” The Heat didn’t win in 2010-11, but with Bosh’s defence and timely scoring, Miami secured back-to-back championships in 2011-12 and 2012-13.

14. Derek Fisher – Los Angeles Lakers 2007
It wasn’t hard for Derek Fisher to fly under the radar with the great Los Angeles Lakers teams of the early part of the last decade. With the likes of Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal around to take up most of the oxygen in the room, Fisher played a low-key role in three consecutive championships from 2000 to 2002. Fisher, a point guard, left the team in 2004 to play two seasons with Golden State and then one season with Utah. After making big money at Golden State (and disappointing) and spending a year in Salt Lake City, Fisher asked to be released from his contract in 2007 to play in a city where his daughter could be treated for a rare health condition. The Jazz obliged and Fisher then signed a reasonable three-year, $14 million deal to go back to the Lakers. At 33, he seemed washed up, but the elder statesman held up well, playing in and starting all 82 games for the Lakers for four straight seasons. In 2009 and 2010 he played a more pivotal role in helping the Lakers win back-to-back championships (his fourth and fifth).

13. Rick Barry – Houston Rockets 1978
By the time future NBA Hall of Famer Rick Barry signed with Houston in 1978, the all-star forward was already 34. A superstar in San Francisco (first with the S.F. Warriors and later the Golden State Warriors) Barry was a prolific shooter and rebounder. He led the NBA in scoring during the 1966-67 season with 35.6 points per game before missing a whole season due to a legal battle between the ABA and NBA. He played four seasons in the ABA before returning to Golden State in 1972. Thus, when he signed in Houston in 1978, it was thought that he would still contribute, albeit on a lesser scale, as a shooter. However, Barry transformed himself into an elite passer, dishing out a career high 502 assists in 80 games (6.3 average) while still dropping a respectable 13.5 PPG during the 1978-79 season. He retired in 1980 and was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame in 1987.

12. Dennis Rodman – Chicago Bulls 1995
Even with superstars Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen in the fold, the Bulls failed to get past the Eastern Conference semi-finals in 1994 and 1995, after winning three straight championships from 1991 to 1993. Something was missing and that was tenacious defence and rebounding. Enter rebounding machine and character Dennis Rodman, who led the NBA in rebounding four straight years from 1991-92 to 1994-95, two with Detroit and the latter two with San Antonio. The Worm was obtained in a sign-and-trade with the Spurs, replacing the departed Horace Grant in the summer of 1995. It was a gamble, in that Rodman was already 34 and whose free-spirited personality put him at odds with hoops purists. It paid off in spades, as Rodman was the league’s top rebounder for this three seasons in the Windy City and which also helped propel the mighty Bulls to championships in those three campaigns.

11. Steve Nash – Phoenix Suns 2004
He never did win a championship with the Suns, but Steve Nash helped put the team on the basketball map. Originally picked in the first round of the 1996 draft by Phoenix, Nash played two seasons with the Suns before being traded to Dallas. He played six pretty good years with the Mavs, but when he became a free agent at 30 in the summer of 2004, Dallas owner Mark Cuban balked at paying him what he wanted, so he bolted back to Phoenix for a better pact. It proved to be his best move, despite his advanced age. In his first three seasons back in Arizona, Nash would lead the NBA in assists per game, reaching a high of 11.6 during the 2006-07 season. He also claimed back-to-back NBA MVP awards in 2005 and 2006, as well as being an all-star in four straight. Nash retired after the 2013-14 season with the Lakers as the third all-time assists leader with 10,335.

10. Gilbert Arenas – Washington Wizards 2003
Agent Zero was a good find for the Golden State Warriors out of the University of Arizona in 2001, as he was their second round pick, 31st overall. Arenas put in great work there, ending his second season with 18.3 points and 6.3 assists per game n 82 games, all starts. For that, he received the NBA’s “Most Improved” award. A bidding war for his services ensued for the restricted free agent in 2003 and he basically flipped a coin to join the Wizards for six years and $60 million. Arenas would team up with Larry Hughes in Washington to form the highest scoring back court in the league in 2003-04, with Arenas scoring 19.6 points and Hughes 22.0 per game. The next season Arenas would garner his first of three straight All-Star nods, scoring 25.5 points per game. He blew those numbers away in the next two campaigns with 29.3 and 28.4 PPG. He also helped turn an miserable franchise around, helping them make the playoffs four straight times after missing the post-season from 1998 to 2004.

9. Kurt Rambis – Los Angeles Lakers 1981
The New York Knicks never knew what they had in Kurt Rambis. Good thing the Lakers knew his worth. Drafted in the third round, 58th overall by the Knicks in 1980, Rambis was waived right away, played in Greece for a year, re-signed by New York and waived again. The Lakers were only too happy to sign “Clark Kent”, who quickly became the ultimate team player in L.A. and a fan favorite. His skill on defence and the ability to clean up in the offensive zone (his shooting percentage hit 59.5 in 1985-86) were the hallmarks of his 14-year career, most of it with the Lakers. Rambis, with his thick-rimmed glasses and moustache, left everything on the floor and did a lot of “spade” work for a Lakers team that won four championships with him in the line-up during the 1980s.

8. Carlos Boozer – Utah Jazz 2004
At one time, C/PF Carlos Boozer was to be LeBron James right hand man in Cleveland. Boozer, a German national, was drafted 35th overall by the Cavs in 2002 and wold put his considerable rebounding and shooting skills to use in two seasons in The Land. After scoring 15.5 points and pulling down 11.7 rebounds per game in his second season, Cleveland opted to release him from his entry level deal, making him a restricted free agent. Now, Cleveland thought they had a handshake deal (six years, $39 million) but he chose to sign with Utah for the same term and $70 million, which the Cavs chose not to match for cap considerations. It turned out to be a good move for Boozer, who recorded 17.8 points and 9.0 rebounds for a less-than-stellar Jazz team in 2004-05. Another so-so Jazz season would follow, but in 2006-07, Boozer became an all-star for the first time, registering a team high 20.9 points and 11.7 rebounds. That team made the Western Conference finals for the first time in nine years. He had his second and last all-star season in 2007-08.

7. Chauncey Billups – Detroit Pistons 2002
After being picked third overall by Boston in 1997, swingman Chauncey Billups spun his wheels in the NBA, splitting his rookie season between the Celtics and Toronto, then going to Denver for two seasons and Minnesota for two after that. In fact, at one point he was considered a big draft bust. But, fate intervened and he enjoyed a breakout year with the T-Wolves in 2001-02, before hitting free agency. He got a six-year, $35 million contract with Detroit in 2002 and would be the team’s starting point guard. Right away, Mr. Big Shot made himself a fan favorite in the Motor City by playing sound defence and sinking clutch baskets. During his time in Detroit (2002-08), Billups helped guide the Pistons to six straight conference finals, two NBA finals, and an NBA championship in 2004. He was also a three-time All-Star and three-time All-NBA member.

6. Jamaal Wilkes – Los Angeles Lakers 1977
At one time, it was other teams raiding the Golden State Warriors for underrated talent. Jamaal Wilkes was a big deal out of UCLA in the mid-1970s and was selected 11th overall by the Dubs in 1974. His was a career truly blessed as he won a title with Golden State in 1975, playing with legends like Rick Barry. Wilkes enjoyed three great seasons in San Francisco, but the Lakers “stole” him in 1977. Though never the big name player on any of the “Showtime” teams of the early 1980s, Wilkes would be a key figure in three championships (1980, 1982 and 1985). His most memorable contribution and typical of his underrated play came during the deciding Game 6 against Philadelphia in the 1980 finals. In a game where Magic Johnson played center for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and scored a game high 42 points, Wilkes scored 37 and hauled in 10 rebounds.

5. Gus Williams – Seattle SuperSonics 1977
There is a bit of a recurring theme here, in that the Golden State Warriors used shed talent, rather than accumulate it like they do now. USC swingman Williams was selected 20th overall by Golden State in 1975 and then go on to enjoy two fairly productive seasons with the Warriors. He made the NBA All-Rookie Team in 1976, but was allowed to pursue free agency in 1977, signing with the Seattle SuperSonics. Williams, a point guard, would have an immediate and lasting effect on a Sonics team that hadn’t tasted success during their first 10 years in the NBA. In 1977-78, he was part of a turnaround that saw the Sonics go from also-ran to NBA finalist (they lost 4-3 to Washington in the ’78 finals). He scored 18.1 PPG during the regular season then added another 18.3 points during the playoffs. The following campaign, Williams poured in 19.2 points and then added an amazing 26.7 points in the playoffs as the SuperSonics won their first and only championship.

4. Lamar Odom – Miami Heat 2003
These days, Lamar Odom’s life has settled down after the Love Ranch episode, but he is still the punchline to many a Kardashian joke. Before that, the power forward came highly regarded out of the University of Rhode Island, with the L.A. Clippers selecting him fourth overall in 1999. The Candy Man was pretty good in four seasons there, averaging 12.8 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.8 assists. A free agent in 2003, Odom caught the eye of Pat Riley in Miami, with the Heat extending an offer that the Clips declined to match. Though he played just one season with the Heat, Odom was instrumental in turning around a 25-win franchise from the year before. In his most complete season to that point (80 games, all starts), Odom recorded 17.1 points, 9.7 rebounds and 4.1 assists as Miami went 42-40. They made it to the Conference semi-finals, too. Perhaps his biggest contribution to the Heat team was being part of a trade that brought the Lakers’ Shaquille O’Neal to Miami, which would win a championship in 2006. Odom would win two titles later with L.A.

3. Vlade Divac – Sacramento Kings 1998
Divac is the Kings GM these days, charged with trying to make a moribund franchise better. In his non-executive days, the big Serbian was a force in the paint for the Lakers in the early 1990s and for two more with the Charlotte Hornets from 1996 to 1998. In ’98, he was signed as a free agent by the Kings, who had not had a winning record in 16 seasons. His first season in Sacramento was shortened due to a lockout, but teamed with countryman Peja Stojakovic, Chris Webber and Mike Bibby, Divac was a key piece in a franchise turnaround. In his six seasons with the Kings Divac averaged 13.6 points and 9.3 rebounds per game on one of the best teams in the West. The Kings also made the playoffs each and every year Divac played there.

2. Tom Chambers – Phoenix Suns 1988
For three seasons in the mid-1980s, the Phoenix Suns hit the skids after going to the playoffs in eight straight seasons (1978 to 1985). After a 28-54 finish in 1987-88, the Suns were looking for an answer at power forward and Seattle All-Star Tom Chambers fell right in their lap. Chambers helped make the Suns relevant again, scoring 25.7 points per game in 1988-89, a year he would make the all-star team (and be elected to two straight after that). While the Suns never won a championship with Chambers on the roster, he was a key player and Sixth Man during the 1992-93 playoff run that ended with a loss to the Chicago Bulls in the NBA finals. He has remained in the Phoenix Suns fold since his playing days, doing work community relations work for the team.

1. Robert Horry – San Antonio Spurs 2003
Robert Horry, aka “Big Shot Bob”, was a fine complementary player who scored clutch baskets with the Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Lakers in the 1990s and into the early part of the last decade. He won two championships with the Hakeem Olajuwon led Rockets in 1994 and 1995, before moving to the Lakers in 1997, where he would have a hand in three straight titles between 2000 and 2002. In 2003, Horry was turning 33 and in the twilight of his career when the Spurs offered a contract. Even though he was never the team’s biggest scorer and started very few contests, Horry went on to make a few more clutch shots on the way to winning two more titles with the Spurs. None other than Magic Johnson once said that Horry was “one of the 10 best clutch players in league history.”

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Each NHL Team’s Worst Draft Bust

Sporthot | 12:49:00 AM |
Will Nolan Patrick be the next Ryan Getzlaf — whose style is like his own — or will he be the next Nikolai Zherdev, who was taken fourth overall the same year Getzlaf was plucked (2003) and was out of the NHL by 2011?

Wait and see, we say.

The projected no. 1 pick will need to be Atlas-like to carry around the weight of the expectations once New Jersey goes to the podium at the upcoming NHL draft and calls his name first.

Through the history of the draft there have been many successful top 10 players and just as many duds. Ditto that for middle and late round first round selections.

Who could forget (for those alive at the time) the Minnestota North Stars drafting Brian Lawton first overall in 1983. He had a sub-standard career while there were Hall of Famers picked just behind him, like Pat Lafontaine (3rd), Steve Yzerman (4th) and Cam Neely (9th).

But, the North Stars are defunct, so Lawton misses joining this list.

Here is each current NHL team’s most deplorable draft bust.

30. Anaheim Ducks – Logan MacMillan
Sometimes, the apple falls too far from the tree. Logan MacMillan, son of former NHLer Bob who 577 points in 753 NHL games, was taken 19th overall by the Ducks in 2007. Fresh off the franchise’s first Stanley Cup triumph, the team’s illuminati must have been giddy with post-title success and ignored their own advice. MacMillan would become just one of four players from that first round in 2007 never to have donned a NHL jersey. Never a big scorer in junior with the Halifax Mooseheads and Rimouski Oceanic, MacMillan did win a gold with Canada at the 2006 U-18 world championships. He would last just 30 games in Anaheim’s system with the Bakersfield Condors of the ECHL before being traded to Calgary, where he languished further for another 118 games. Anaheim could have had Max Pacioretty (22nd to Montreal), Mikael Backlund (24th to Calgary) and even P.K. Subban (43rd to Montreal).

29. Arizona Coyotes – Brandon Gormley
At one time, Brandon Gormley was considered a stud defenceman in junior. He was a point per game man with the Moncton Wildcats and was a member of Canada’s bronze medal winning junior team at the 2012 IIHF championships, scoring six points in six games. In 2010 the Phoenix Coyotes had the 13th pick in the draft and called Gormley’s name, figuring that the heads-up defenceman was a steal at that position. Once he was done junior in 2012, they did the right thing by assigning him to their AHL affiliate in Portland and for the most part, Gormley played well, the only flaw being some defensive deficiency (-29 over two seasons). In 2013-14 he got his first taste of NHL action, scoring no points in five games. After that, he got in 53 more, scoring five points and logging a -10. He hasn’t played in the NHL since 2015-16 and is a free agent this year.

28. Boston Bruins – Zach Hamill
The first round of the 2007 draft turned up quite a few future superstars, including Patrick Kane (1st) and Logan Couture (9th). One pick ahead of Couture, the Boston Bruins selected high scoring Vancouver native Zach Hamill of the Everett Silvertips. He was something of a wunderkind in the WHL, starting his career with the Silvertips when he was just 15 in 2003. In his draft year, 2006-07, Hamill scored 93 points in 69 games, warranting a first round selection. After another year of junior, though, he would toil in Providence almost exclusively while the big club waited, and waited, for his scoring touch to mature. It never happened and he played only 20 games in Boston, recording four assists. He is now playing with Bjorkloven in the Swedish second tier Allsvenskan league.

27. Buffalo Sabres – David Cooper
In 1992, the first round of the entry draft was top heavy with future star NHL defencemen. The Tampa Bay Lightning made Roman Hamrlik the first overall pick and selected later were Darius Kasparaitis (5th to the Islanders), Sergei Gonchar (14th to Washington) and Jason Smith (18th to New Jersey). Buffalo owned the 11th pick and wisely — so they thought — took rugged puck-moving rearguard David Cooper of the Medicine Hat Tigers. He played four seasons in Medicine Hat and after being drafted, scored 65 points in 63 games and added 88 penalty minutes. He wouldn’t play a game with the Sabres and was eventually dealt to Toronto, where he bounced between their farm team in St. John’s, Nfld., and the Leafs. Cooper played all of 30 games in Toronto, scoring 10 points. His last stop in hockey was with Pontebba of the Italian League.

26. Calgary Flames – Leland Irving
Goalies taken in the first round of any NHL draft are a true rarity. It’s a big gamble on the part of any team, considering there are only two spots on their roster for netminders. The 2006 draft was really an oddity, as four out of 30 first rounders selected were netminders. Los Angeles grabbed Jonathan Bernier at no. 11, followed by Tampa taking Riki Helenius 15th, Washington picking Semyon Varlamov 23rd and finally Calgary opting for Leland Irving at no. 26. In his draft year, Irving was outstanding for the Everett Silvertips, posting a 1.91 goals against average and .925 save percentage. After being drafted he was nearly unbeatable in 2006-07, recording 11 shutouts in just 48 games and lowering his GAA to 1.86. He added to his growing resume a gold medal with Team Canada at the 2007 world juniors. But, Calgary never did get full value out of taking Irving in the first round, as he played 13 games, registering a 3-4-4 record, .902 save percentage and 3.25 GAA.

25. Carolina Hurricanes – Jeff Heerema
Jeff Heerema had a great rookie season with the Sarnia Sting of the OHL in 1997-98, scoring 32 goals and 40 assists, with 88 penalty minutes in 63 games. At 6’2″ the right winger had the size and enough grit to convince Carolina Hurricanes management to pick him 11th in a 1998 draft that saw Vincent Lecavalier go first overall. Heerema, selected just behind Nikolai Antropov (Toronto), played two more outstanding seasons in Sarnia before making the leap to pro with the Cincinnati Cyclones in 2000-01. He played another year in the AHL with Lowell before making his NHL debut with Carolina in 2002-03, scoring three times in 10 games. Before he could develop further, Heerema moved on to St. Louis, played 22 games (1 G, 2A) and then bounced around the minor leagues and Europe until 2012. A player the Hurricanes could have had in that first round was Alex Tanguay, who went 12th to Colorado.

24. Chicago Blackhawks – Kyle Beach
Four players taken in the first round of the 2008 draft have never played a game in the NHL which isn’t all that surprising. However, Kyle Beach was the highest rated, going 11th to the Chicago Blackhawks. The Hawks were in rebuilding mode and had landed two studs in the previous two drafts, Jonathan Toews (third overall in 2006) and Patrick Kane (first overall in 2007). Beach was taken pretty much where he was rated, though issues with his temperament caused him to slide a little from early projections. He was a presence down the right side with the Everett Silvertips (there they are again) and Spokane Chiefs averaging a point per game, while amassing some pretty high penalty minutes (222 in 60 games during the 2007-08 season). Once he graduated, Beach would toil exclusively in the AHL with Rockford, never getting a call-up. Beach is still playing pro with Graz of the Austrian League.

23. Colorado Avalanche – Vaclav Nedorost
Of all drafts in the last 20 years, the 2000 event had near as many misses as it did hits. The Islanders chose goaltender Rick DiPietro first (spoiler alert; miss), while Detroit got yet another steal at 29th with Niklas Kronwall. Sandwiched in the middle, at no. 14, Colorado took low scoring Czech teenage centerman Vaclav Nedorost. Pretty much a checking center with decent wheels, Nedorost crossed the pond in 2001 and played 49 games with the AHL’s Hershey Bears (34 points, +12), earning a call-up to the Avs, where he scored four points in 25 games. The rest of his career in North America was split between the minors and two more stints, 42 games with Colorado in 2002-03 and 32 games with Florida (he was traded there) in 2003-04. Impact players the Avalanche could have taken were Brad Boyes (24th to Toronto) and Justin Williams (28th to Philadelphia).

22. Columbus Blue Jackets – Nikita Filatov
Nikita Filatov wasn’t the biggest first round blunder by a NHL team, but definitely one of the most noteworthy. Steven Stamkos was taken first overall in 2008, followed by four defencemen, including stars Drew Doughty (2nd to L.A.) and Alex Pietrangelo (4th to St. Louis). With the sixth pick, and in a draft loaded with defensive talent, the Columbus Blue Jackets chose speedy Russian winger Filatov. He was a scoring dynamo with CSKA Moscow and money at the world juniors three years running. All that talent, however, couldn’t get him a full-time gig in the NHL. He would play just 53 games with the Jackets and Ottawa Senators and score six goals and eight assists. Going back to those 2008 first round defencemen, Columbus could have taken Tyler Myers (12th to Buffalo), Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson (15th to Ottawa), or even John Carlson (27th to Washington).

21. Dallas Stars – Jack Campbell
Like we said earlier, taking a goalie in the first round is fairly unusual. The 2010 Taylor (Hall) vs. Tyler (Seguin) draft was one of those drafts, with exactly two netminders going in the top 30. The first was Port Huron, Michigan native Jack Campbell who came up through the U.S. National Team Development Program and starred for the Windsor Spitfires of the OHL. He won gold as the starter for the U.S. Team at the 2010 World Juniors, upping his draft stock considerably. Thus, the Stars used their 11th overall pick to take him. Even though he had some success in their minor league system with the Texas Stars, he played but one game and was even demoted to the ECHL. He was traded to Los Angeles and played with their AHL affiliate in 2016-17, with a one-game call-up.

20. Detroit Red Wings – Tom McCollum
The Detroit Red Wings, and GM Ken Holland by extension, have been pretty astute at finding nuggets in the late stages of the first round and even well down the list. Not so in 2008. Having just won a Stanley Cup, they automatically had the 30th pick in that draft, settling on Guelph Storm workhorse Tom McCollum. He had just played 51 games in 2007-08, winning 25 and posting four shutouts, when the Wings came calling. He graduated to the pros in 2009 and for the next seven seasons he was employed mostly at the ECHL and AHL levels, seeing action in only three games with Detroit. He ended his affiliation with the team in 2016 and is now in the Carolina Hurricanes minor league system with the Charlotte Checkers.

19. Edmonton Oilers – Nail Yakupov
There have been few no. 1 overall picks who have promised so much, and delivered so little. The Edmonton Oilers, a bad team just about every year in recent memory, have had the luxury of four first picks since 2010 and three other top 10s. After selecting Taylor Hall (2010) and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (2011) at no. 1, the Oilers had another in 2012, taking Russian sniper Nail Yakupov. What the Oilers really needed, after drafting two premier forwards, was a defenceman and the ’12 draft was loaded with them. Edmonton could have had Ryan Murray (2nd),  Hampus Lindholm (6th), Morgan Rielly (5th) or even Jacob Trouba (9th). But they took “the best player available” and during the lockout shortened 2012-13 campaign, Yakupov was all right, scoring 31 points in 48 games, with a -4. However, Yakupov was loath to improve his defensive game and during the next three seasons he was a collective -84 and wasn’t near as productive. The Oilers were so disappointed in him they dealt him to St. Louis last year for virtually nothing.

18. Florida Panthers – Petr Taticek
The luxury of one top-10 pick is a bonus, having two is near unheard of in NHL history. But, that was the situation Florida was in during the 2002 draft, when they owned the no. 3 and no. 9 picks. With the third selection, the Panthers wisely took stud defenceman Jay Bouwmeester, who is still contributing today (with St. Louis). At no. 9, Florida thought they were shoring up depth down the middle, taking two-way center Petr Taticek, who had played with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in 2001-02, scoring 63 points in 60 games, with a +22. Unfortunately, his production stayed the same in 2002-03 with the Hounds, but his plus-minus faltered to -14. Taticek never really clicked in Florida’s minor league system, played just three games and was back in the Czech Republic in 2006.

17. Los Angeles Kings – Lauri Tukonen
The 2003 entry draft was a watershed one for the NHL, with many future superstars being taken in the first round, from Marc-Andre Fleury at no. 1 all the way down to Corey Perry at no. 28. Which made the ’04 draft sort of anti-climactic. Yes, Russian phenoms Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin went one-two, but there wasn’t a whole lot of meat after. The Kings had the 11th pick and chose decent sized Finnish right winger Lauri Tukonen, who had been playing in Finland’s top league with the Blues and was a scoring star at the 2004 U-18 world championhips. He came over in 2005 and spent two seasons with the Manchester Monarchs of the AHL, getting used to the North American game. He got two brief call-ups to the Kings, scored no points and after one more season in Manchester bolted for home, where he has played ever since.

16. Minnesota Wild – A.J. Thelen
That 2004 draft really did produce some duds. As seen above, Lauri Tukonen was a complete bust with Los Angeles after going 11th. Minnesota also laid an egg with their first round pick, A.J. Thelen, who was taken one spot behind Tukonen at no. 12. Thelen had a standout freshman season with the Michigan State Spartans in 2003-04, racking up 29 points in 42 games. The Wild then made him the third rearguard selected in the first round. From there, his career took way too many twists and turns. He was drummed out NCAA hockey after his sophomore season for rules infractions, then played two seasons in the WHL with Prince Albert and Vancouver, winning a Memorial Cup with the Giants in 2007. He never did sign with the Wild and ended up playing all but nine of 219 minor league games in the ECHL.

15. Montreal Canadiens – David Fischer
Montreal had some pretty good luck with draft picks in the first decade of the new century. They snagged all-world goalie Carey Price at fifth overall in 2005 and found gold in P.K. Subban (43rd overall, 2007) and Mark Streit (262nd overall, 2004). The Habs did, though, goof on at least one first round selection, he being Minnesota high school defenceman David Fischer in 2006 at no. 20. A big, stay-at-home type, he then spent four pretty good years with the University of Minnesota but never signing with the Habs. Without a contract, he attended Vancouver Canucks training camp in 2010, was cut and then played two seasons in the ECHL. In 2012 he left for Europe and has been there since.

14. Nashville Predators – Brian Finley
In their 19-year history, the Nashville Predators — under the guidance of GM David Poile — have drafted very well without ever having a no. 1 pick and just seven top-10s. However, even hockey geniuses have a brain cramp or two once in a while. In 1999, Poile and the Preds took part in their second draft, owning the sixth overall selection. This draft was marked by the back-to-back selection of the Sedin Twins by Vancouver and would be fairly milquetoast after that. The Predators called Barrie Colts goalie Brian Finley’s name at no. 6, the first netminder gone in the draft. While he had the size (6’4″) and the junior pedigree (167 games), Finley couldn’t get over the NHL hump, splitting four games between Nashville and Boston and the remainder in the AHL/ECHL. Two great goalies picked well after Finley are still active in the NHL today, Ottawa’s Craig Anderson (77th overall) and Vancouver’s Ryan Miller (138th).

13. New Jersey Devils – Adrian Foster
Pretty much everyone in the hockey world, including Central Scouting and 29 other teams, wondered who the powerful New Jersey Devils had picked at no. 28 in 2001. His name was center Adrian Foster, who had played all of 12 games in the WHL with the Saskatoon Blades up to that point — due mainly to recovering from a catastrophic hip injury. Foster would then increase his number of games in the WHL in 2001-02 to a meager 27 contest before making the jump to New Jersey’s affiliate in Albany in 2002-03. He played just nine games that season and another 113 over the next five seasons before his relationship with Jersey soured and he left for the Houston Aeros. Foster never played a NHL game and wore sweaters in five different leagues before retiring in 2013.

12. New York Islanders – Rick DiPietro
If a NHL franchise is going to pick a goalie no. 1 overall, they should do their homework and ensure they get a keeper. Before 2000, just one goalie in the history of the entry draft had been taken first overall, Michel Plasse b the Montreal Canadiens way back in 1968. Mike Milbury was GM of the Islanders in 2000 and his reputation was already kind of mess due to ownership meddling and his own lame-brained transactions. Thus, with Roberto Luongo already in the fold, Milbury thought it a good idea to make Boston University netminder Rick DiPietro the first goaltender in 32 years to go no. 1. In due course, Milbury traded Luongo away, along with Olli Jokinen for spare parts like Mark Parrish. DiPietro did play 319 games in the NHL but spent so much time on the DL his nickname was “Rickety.” And that contract he signed for 15 years and $67.5 million in 2006 still haunts the team to this day.

11. New York Rangers – Alexei Cherepanov
The Rangers, who have had one top 10 pick in 12 years, have had to draft wisely. In 2007, the Blueshirts had just six total picks, including the 17th overall. And knowing how uncertain drafting Russian players can be, they decided on Alexei Cherepanov, the only one to be taken in the first round. The lanky right winger had been a solid player in in the Russian league with Omsk and a fixture on two medal-winning Team Russia squads at consecutive world junior championships in 2007 and 2008. Sadly, before he could ever lace them up in the NHL, Cherepanov passed away while playing in a Russian league game in October 2008. What makes Cherepanov a draft blunder wasn’t for his talent, but for the fact no one in Russia — or with the New York Rangers for that matter — knew he had heart muscle hypertrophy, which is fatal if not detected. With all the medicine available to pro clubs, especially in pre-draft activity, this was an oversight with tragic consequences.

10. Ottawa Senators – Alexandre Daigle
All show and no go. That is the book on Alexandre Daigle, one of the worst first overall picks in the history of the draft. Put it this way, his career was doomed the minute he donned a campy nurse’s outfit for a photo shoot early in his career. Considered a “can’t miss prospect” while with the Victoriaville Tigres in the early 90s, Daigle recorded 247 points in 119 games over two seasons. The Senators were blinded by his speed and scoring upside and went full “tank”, losing games seemingly at will to land the first overall pick in 1993 to get him. That chicanery caused the NHL to implement a lottery system to try and keep it from happening again. While Daigle did play 301 games with Ottawa and score 172 points, he was a defensive liability who was -137. For a first overall pick, he can be considered as nothing but an utter bust.

9. Philadelphia Flyers – Maxime Ouellet
Here’s that first round goalie theme again. In one of their worst overall drafts in team history, the Flyers took Quebec Remparts goalie Maxime Ouellet 22nd overall and the first netminder called that year. In all, Flyers draft picks that year, six of them, played a grand total of 13 NHL games, 12 by Ouellet. Considering his junior achievements like back-to-back bronze medals as Team Canada’s goalie at the world junior championships in 1999 and 2000, Ouellet probably did merit a first round nod. But, he never did find footing at the NHL or even AHL level, and was gone from North American pro hockey in 2006. Ouellet, like Brian Finley at no. 6, was yet another first round netminder blunder that year.

8. Pittsburgh Penguins – Angelo Esposito
The Penguins sure had a solid run of first round picks in the middle part of the last decade, getting future Stanley Cup centerpieces in Marc-Andre Fleury (2003), Evgeni Malkin (2004), Sidney Crosby (2005) and Jordan Staal (2006). It all came to a resounding halt in 2007, when we think management was thinking they were getting Phil, and not Angelo, Esposito. Pittsburgh drafted Esposito (no relation to Phil or Tony) 20th overall in 2007, after he scored 79 points in 60 games with the Quebec Remparts. He also scored the game-winning goal at the 2009 world juniors against Sweden. But, the comparisons to Guy Lafleur proved too much for him and Esposito never played one single game in the NHL.

7. San Jose Sharks – Teemu Riihijarvi
He had a great and recognizable first name, which we think may have clouded the judgement of San Jose Sharks scouts and executives leading up to the 1995 draft. In a year they had 12 picks and stole goalies and fellow Finnish products Vesa Toskala (90th overall) and Miikka Kiprusoff (116th overall), the Sharks really whiffed on 12th overall selection Teemu Riihijarvi. At 6’6″, the Sharks were probably thinking that his big body would be useful down the wing, but Riihijarvi was not possessed of a good shot and wasn’t overly physical. The low scoring and not overly fast native of Espoo never came to North America, staying in the Finnish league until 2006.

6. St. Louis Blues – Marek Schwarz
A Schwarz is definitely not to be confused with a Schwartz. In 2004, the St. Louis Blues committed the cardinal sin in our eyes, selecting a goalie in the first round who wasn’t North American. They picked Sparta Praha’s Marek Schwarz 17th overall, when Cory Schneider, especially, was still on the board. They made up for that Schwarz blunder years later, selecting current useful player Jaden Schwartz 14th overall in 2010. The Czech Schwarz wasn’t overly big at 5’11” but did get exposure as a starter for Team Czech Republic at U-18 and U-20 events, winning bronze in 2005. He was never able to snag a no. 1 job with the Blues, though, playing in just six games and posting a 4.32 GAA and .809 save percentage. He was gone from North American pro hockey in 2009.

5. Tampa Bay Lightning – Alexander Svitov
The Tampa Bay Lightning could be excused for falling in love with man-child Alexander Svitov prior to the 2001 entry draft. At 6’3″ and 245 lbs., Svitov was a two-way terror with Omsk of the Russian league in 2000-01, scoring 15 points in 39 games playing against men and sitting in the sin bin for 115 minutes. His robust play earned him a spot on Team Russia at the 2001 and 2002 world juniors too, where he was the most penalized player and won a gold in 2002. The Lightning brought him over in 2002 and he was OK his first season, scoring eight points, a -4 and having 58 penalty minutes in 63 games. However, for a high first round pick and being a big man, he fizzled out quickly, playing in 114 more games before hightailing it back to Russia. Had the Bolts been a little more prescient, they could have picked Mikko Koivu, who went sixth to Minnesota.

4. Toronto Maple Leafs – Tyler Biggs
Before recent drafts yielded first round picks Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander and Morgan Rielly, the Leafs pretty much got it wrong for many years before that. The 2011 draft was a huge low point, when the Buds squandered two first round picks on Stuart Percy (25th overall) and Tyler Biggs (22nd overall). Percy has at least played 12 games at the NHL level, while Biggs is gone from the Maple Leafs system and is in the ECHL as a free agent. In the Brian Burke “truculence” era, Biggs was square in Burke’s sights at the ’11 event, coming in at 6’2″ and 220 lbs. Unfortunately, Biggs was a bust in the AHL with the Marlies and was eventually sent to the ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears in 2015 before being included in the Phil Kessel trade to Pittsburgh.

3. Vancouver Canucks – Patrick White
Canucks management in 2007 can’t pat themselves on the back for any of the picks they made that year. Of the six, including first rounder Patrick White, none has played a game in the NHL to this point. White was a finalist for the prestigious Minnesota Mr. Hockey as a high schooler during the 2006-07 season and was picked 25th overall by the Vancouver Canucks. The two-way pivot went on to play four seasons at the University of Minnesota, never signing with the big club and eventually being traded to the San Jose Sharks, who he never played for either. Of the players still available after White, there was still David Perron (26th to St. Louis) and defenceman Brendan Smith (27th to Detroit and now with the New York Rangers).

2. Washington Capitals – Sasha Pokulok
The Caps were probably still hung over from the big draft in 2004 that netted them Alex Ovechkin (first overall) and then defencemen Jeff Schultz (27th) and Mike Green (29th). No other reason, then, needed to be given for hacking up a fur ball on Sasha Pokulok at no. 14 in 2005. A huge (6’5″, 228 lbs.) defenceman at Cornell University, Pokulok also had decent hands (23 points in 53 games with Big Red). Despite that gargantuan frame, Pokulok couldn’t stick it out with Washington, playing a majority of games in the ECHL and not the AHL to further his development. He went over to Europe briefly and up until the 2015-16 season was playing low level semi-pro in his home province of Quebec. One player they could have drafted that year was T.J. Oshie, who coincidentally is a top six forward for them now.

1. Winnipeg Jets – Alex Bourret
The new new Winnipeg Jets haven’t blundered at the draft yet, but their predecessors, the Atlanta Thrashers did at least once. In 2005, they had their lowest pick in years at no. 16 and thought it wise to get some beef down the wings to complement guys like Ilya Kovalchuk. The beef came in the form of Lewiston MAINEiacs bruiser and goal scorer Alex Bourret. In his draft year, the Drummondville native scored 31 goals and 55 assists and added 172 penalty minutes. The 5’10”, 205 lb. right winger improved on his stats after being drafted by Atlanta and was promoted to the AHL in 2006. He was strictly below average in the Thrashers system, and was recently playing with Jonquiere of the low-level LNAH in Quebec.


Sunday, April 23, 2017

Alabama has a new, impressive quarterback

Sporthot | 12:03:00 PM |
It seems silly to have to write this: Jalen Hurts is Alabama’s starting quarterback.

Hurts was both the SEC’s freshman and offensive player of the year in 2016 as he led the Crimson Tide to a national runner-up finish. He threw for 2,780 yards and 23 touchdowns while also gaining 954 yards and scoring 13 times on the ground. This was all as a true freshman.

Sure, he struggled in the College Football Playoff against top-notch defenses as a passer. Again, he was a true freshman. He had a fantastic season, but now the Tide, like always, brought in another highly-rated recruit at the position. His name is Tua Tagovailoa, and he performed quite well during Saturday’s spring game at Bryant Denny Stadium.

Tagovailoa, a lefty from Hawaii, enrolled early and has impressed throughout spring ball. That carried over to A-Day as he led touchdown drives on his first two series and finished the day with 313 yards, three touchdowns (one on a wacky deflection) and an interception (which was returned for a touchdown on an awesome play by Terrell Hall) while working with both the first and second-team offenses.

Tagovailoa showed flashes of what made him such a highly sought-after recruit, but that doesn’t mean he is just going to leapfrog Hurts on the depth chart. This was just an exhibition, after all, but don’t think that thought didn’t cross the minds of some of the 74,326 in attendance in Tuscaloosa as Tagovailoa dropped in quite a few gorgeous passes against the second-string defense.

Tide head coach Nick Saban has said throughout the spring that the staff’s main focus with Hurts was to help him improve from the pocket. It showed during the game with Hurts connecting on quite a few nice deep balls and finishing the afternoon with 301 yards, two scores and an INT while facing the top defensive unit. After the game, Saban seemed pleased with what he’s seen from the soon-to-be sophomore.

Even if Tagovailoa — who wasn’t immune to some freshman mistakes — stole the show, Hurts played well, too.

And if you think Saban and his staff (or any staff across the country, for that matter) will overreact from a spring game performance, you’re sorely mistaken, no matter how impressive it may have been. It could be different without a player of Hurts’ caliber ahead of Tagovailoa, but for now, please cool any quarterback controversy chatter — at least until preseason practice.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

WWE Divas On A Sex Tape Scandal

Sporthot | 1:33:00 AM | |

WWE has been hit by a fresh spate of nude picture leaks, after explicit images and videos depicting two female wrestlers were allegedly exposed online.

Picture of former women’s champion Victoria, real name Lisa Marie Varon, performing an oral sex act and posing naked has reportedly been shared by hackers.
Lisa Marie Varon

Wrestler Melina Perez has also reportedly been hit by hackers, after intimate pictures of the 38-year-old former WWE star were also shared.
Melina Perez

Melina Perez

Victoria left WWE in 2009, and has since appeared under the stage name Tara. Melina was dismissed by the company in 2011 after she was accused of causing rifts between wrestlers behind the scenes. She has since denied the claims.

The scandal comes after British WWE star Paige was hacked earlier this month. A video was circulated online which appeared to show her having sex on a championship belt.
British WWE star Paige

British WWE star Paige

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Historic comeback carries Patriots to Super Bowl victory

Sporthot | 3:40:00 AM |

In the most exciting fourth-quarter rally in Super Bowl history, the New England Patriots showed their remarkable resolve to do something no team has ever done before in coming back from a 28-3 deficit.

In rising up in such fashion to win 34-28 in overtime, charging back from 19 points down in the fourth quarter, quarterback Tom Brady wrote the most dramatic chapter in his future Hall of Fame career, earning MVP honors to set up a highly anticipated Monday morning MVP news conference with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

"He's the GOAT, the king of the petting zoo," defensive end Chris Long said.

"He's the Michael Jordan of football," added safety Duron Harmon, whose inspirational words at halftime -- in which he told teammates they were going to pull off the most dramatic comeback in Super Bowl history -- were cited by many after the game. "Two Super Bowls, down multiple scores, and he has got the job done."

This was a script that not even Hollywood could have come up with for believability, especially when considering the greatest Super Bowl comeback had previously been 10 points.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Is there life after Federer and Nadal?

Sporthot | 2:21:00 AM |
Federer and Nadal

The performances of Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal in reaching the final of this year's Australian Open have served a timely reminder as to what men's tennis was missing when both were sidelined last year.

But the efforts of the 17-time and 14-time grand slam champions, at least one of whom featured in all but nine of the 44 grand slam finals from 2005 to 2015, have also shown just how much the game will miss them when they're gone.

"I was already prepared in the last couple of majors and I have to say ... I didn't miss them that much," said former world number one Mats Wilander, now a commentator for Eurosport.

"Now they're back I realise, wow, how much they add. They made it look so easy, Federer's way of playing and Nadal's way of being, it's just so natural they're going to win.

"Now it's like going to see the (Rolling) Stones every night. For me it's unbelievable."

Federer, who missed the second half of last year with a knee injury, is through to his 28th grand slam final and victory on Sunday would give him a record 18th grand slam title.

Nadal, who pulled out of the French Open last summer with a left wrist injury which also forced him to miss Wimbledon, will be on the other side of the net.

Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic, at 29 a year younger than Nadal and with fewer injuries, may be around for a while but Federer and Nadal, who have contested eight grand slam finals, are by far the most popular players on tour.

The ATP's chairman and chief executive, Chris Kermode, believes the tour is strong enough to cope.

"Roger and Rafa are two of the most iconic stars to have ever played our sport," he said by email.

"It's hard to quantify precisely how much of the growth in the sport we have seen in the last 15 years or so should be attributed directly to them but their contributions have been immense both in terms of captivating audiences worldwide on the court, as well as leading by example away from the court.

"There will inevitably come a time when their careers come to an end and the sport will miss them.

"But no player is bigger than the sport, and men's tennis has an uncanny ability to consistently produce global stars that transcend the game."
Future stars

Kermode pointed to the likes of German teenager Sascha Zverev, Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov, Kei Nishikori of Japan and the Australian, Nick Kyrgios, as players the tour can showcase in years to come.

Mike Bryan, one half of the most successful doubles partnerships of all time with his twin brother Bob, believes it will be almost impossible for Federer and Nadal to be replaced.

"They are mega A-list celebrities anywhere they go in the world so it's going to be tough for the game once they retire," he said.

"There's always someone who comes up and takes over ... but these guys have done so much for the game and they're just class acts."

The impact of their eventual departure is also likely to be felt by television companies, whose ratings soar when they are playing.

"The global television viewership for the ATP World Tour has grown by more than 100 percent since 2008," Kermode said, pointing to a number of structural changes.

"Of course, the players have played a huge part in that (but) we remain confident in the future of our product.

"The reality is that the sport is not going to lose the so-called Big Four from one year to the next. There will be a gradual process that will likely span 4-5 years, and that's a long time in our sport."

Wilander said the pair may be sticking around for a while yet in any case.

"I think we still have potentially some of the greatest matches between the two of them," he said.

"They both know more now and they look fit and healthy and they move as well as they've ever done. Life after them is way down the road."

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Andy Murray reached world's No 1 ranking

Sporthot | 3:26:00 AM |
Andy Murray

Andy Murray has revealed that he felt the world No 1 ranking was not within his grasp up until the last couple of years.

Reaching the final of the Paris Masters - after Milos Raonic's withdrawal from their semi-final - coupled with Novak Djokovic's quarter-final exit to Marin Cilic, means 29-year-old Murray will take over from the Serb at the top of the world rankings on Monday.

And Murray, who first reached the No 2 spot in 2009 and has held the position for 76 weeks in total during his career, admits that it became a goal that edged closer the further up the game he got.

"I'm very proud to have done it," he told Sky Sports. "It wasn't something I dreamt of a kid. I just wanted to play tennis and become a professional tennis player and then to try and get into the top 100.

"Once I got there, you then want to get into the top 50 and then the top 20.

"From No 2 to No 1 seems like a small gap. It's only one place, but it is by far the hardest one to reach and it's been a long time.

"I thought about it a bit this year and last year, but before that it wasn't something I felt that close to. It's only been the last few months that I got close, as Novak was 7,000-8,000pts ahead of me after the French Open, so it's been a great few months."

The Scot becomes the the oldest first-time No 1 since John Newcombe in 1974 and had often spoken ranking as a goal for next season.

Murray has also been adamant that it would be reward for a sustained period of success and effort, and he reserved praise for his coaching team.

"It's a lot of hard work," he added. "Many, many years I have been on the tour and not got there and I've always been behind Novak, Roger [Federer] and Rafa [Nadal], who are three of the best players of all time, without question.

"I've had to persevere and I have had to be very patient, keep learning and keep improving. I have done that, but it's not only myself; it's been with my whole team that I work with, who help me a lot.

"Big thanks to Jamie Delgado, as he is with me every single week of the year. Getting to No 1 takes 12 months and he has been there for every single moment, all of the ups and downs. He has helped me a lot."

Thursday, November 3, 2016

After 108-year drought, the Chicago Cubs win the 2016 World Series

Sporthot | 11:30:00 AM |
Chicago Cubs

Are the skies black with locusts? Has Lake Michigan turned red? Two days after Halloween, the curse has been cursed. The Comeback on the Cuyahoga is complete. After a century and eight years, the Chicago Cubs are world champions, and they did it by surviving a game for the ages, a contest in which they finally slew demons that refused to be exorcised.

The baseball facts matter, especially these, though they hardly do justice to the scale of the outcome or the level of drama that unfolded. In what seemed like the most heartbreaking yet of nightmarish Cubs postseason games gone wrong, Ben Zobrist’s 10th-inning double off Bryan Shaw broke a 6-6 tie, and the Cubs outlasted the Cleveland Indians 8-7 in a title-winning, drought-breaking, impossible-to-believe Game 7 of the World Series on Wednesday.

The winning rally came, finally, after rain delayed the game before the start of extra innings. Rather than building suspense, the disruption gave the gathering at Progressive Field a chance to recover from its collective nervous breakdown. Because what set up the exhilarating finish was the worst kind of flashback for any Cubs fan who believes in curses, goats or Bartmans.

The Cubs led 6-3 in the eighth and were just four outs from their first title since 1908. Jose Ramirez reached on what looked like an innocent infield single. Jon Lester, the Cubs' ace lefty, was on the mound for his first relief appearance in nine years, and he'd been dealing.

But he was working on two days of rest, so Cubs manager Joe Maddon summoned Aroldis Chapman to the mound.

When the Cubs acquired Chapman from the Yankees in July, this was the situation they imagined: a 102 mph fastball to clinch the World Series. Instead, Chapman gave up a run-scoring double to Brandon Guyer, who spoiled several pitches by fouling them off.

That set the stage for a moment that will loom large in the histories of both franchises. Rajai Davis turned on a Chapman offering and turned Progressive Field into a madhouse by homering just inside the left-field foul pole to tie the score at 6-6. The stands vibrated, with red-clad fans swirling crazily and blue-clad fans standing with hands on heads and mouths agape.

Chapman escaped the inning with the tie intact, but suddenly, both teams were staring down the twin barrels of 176 years of bad history. It seemed to get even worse in the ninth, when Javier Baez bunted foul with two strikes, one out and Jason Heyward on third.

This one was an all-timer, a victory on the short list of best World Series games ever, as significant for what it means as for the incredible way it happened. That’s why fans are singing in the streets of Chicago, hugging from Rogers Park to Printer’s Row, dancing from the Loop to Logan Square. Heck, maybe even a few South Siders are cracking reluctant smiles, because even in the domain of the White Sox, they know how this feels. Well, maybe not this.

The game itself was worthy of a drought-killer, and it was one of the most anticipated baseball games in recent memory. The streets of Cleveland were clogged with fans of both teams, as Cubs fans invaded by the carloads, with a reported 60 percent of the secondary-market ticket sales going to Chicago fans. Inside Progressive Field, the atmosphere was akin to a college football rivalry game in which fan allegiance is split down the middle. No matter what happened, half the stadium would erupt.

Knowing Indians manager Terry Francona’s excellent bullpen was ready and rested, Maddon reiterated the need for his team to grab an early lead. The Cubs wasted no time in doing so: Dexter Fowler led off the game with a home run to center off Indians ace Corey Kluber, which sent half the grandstand into a frenzy. Fowler became the first player to lead off a winner-take-all Game 7 with a home run.

The Indians knotted the score in the third. Coco Crisp led off with a double and scored on Carlos Santana's single. But Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks escaped further damage by getting Francisco Lindor and Mike Napoli with two on base.

That left the score tied during a key sequence for both teams, who knew that if the Indians could get a lead, Francona would turn the game over to some combination of Andrew Miller, Shaw and Cody Allen at the first sign of trouble. He never got the chance.

The Cubs grabbed the lead right back in the fourth against Kluber, who entered the game with a 0.89 ERA this postseason. Kris Bryant singled to left and went to second when Kluber plunked Anthony Rizzo with an 0-2 pitch. Zobrist rolled into a force, which sent Bryant to third.

Addison Russell lofted a shallow fly to center, which Davis handled. Bryant tagged at third and dashed home, sliding under the tag of Indians catcher Roberto Perez, who had to stand upright to field Davis’ high throw. The Cubs then went up 3-1 when Willson Contreras doubled over the head of Davis to score Zobrist. Davis, who started in place of struggling Tyler Naquin in part because of his defense, appeared to take a step in before the ball soared over his head.

Kluber was done after Baez homered to dead center to lead off the fifth and put the Cubs up by three runs. Miller was in the game but not in the role the Indians wanted to see him in. Pitching on three days’ rest for the second consecutive outing, he allowed six hits and four runs over four innings and didn’t strike out a batter.

Lester came on for Hendricks in the fifth, along with batterymate David Ross, who was playing in his last big league game. After an error by Ross put runners on second and third, the Indians proceeded to score a pair of runs on a wild pitch from Lester. It turned out to be a temporary outburst, as Lester reverted to his top-of-the-rotation form in his first relief outing in nine years.

From there, the party seemed on for the Cubs and their half of the stadium, while the other half watched in disbelief at a heartbreaking story they’ve seen way too often. No one suspected what was to come.

This being the fairy tale that it seemed, Ross made up for his miscues by homering off the indomitable Miller to center field. Talk about going out in style. With Ross went the drought and all the curses and hobgoblins that came with it -- not that they didn’t put up a hell of a fight.

On Oct. 14, 1908, in front of 6,210 fans at Bennett Park in Detroit, in a game that took 85 minutes to play, a Tigers catcher named Boss Schmidt lofted a foul pop fly on the third-base side of the field. Cubs catcher Johnny Kling waited, waited, waited and squeezed the ball for the final out. Chicago won the game 2-0 and the "world's series" in five games. The Cubs were champions for the second consecutive season. Chicago was, as the Tribune called it, "the great metropolis of baseball."

If you add up all the season and postseason logs at baseball-reference.com, you come up with this: Since the moment Kling caught that foul out, the Cubs played 152,627⅓ innings of baseball before Wednesday, and their pitchers retired 457,882 batters. Not one of those outs added a third World Series banner to the Cubs' collection. Now, after 10 more innings and one magical final out, all those numbers reset to zero. The third banner will fly above Wrigley Field.

On a freakishly warm evening in northeast Ohio, the number 108 transitioned from a symbol of despair into one of joy. There are 108 stitches on a baseball, the perfect sphere at the heart of a child’s game. The natural division of another circle is 108, nine cycles of the year of the monkey stringing together two worlds, the antiquity of 1908 and the digital age of 2016. The number 108 is frozen now as the moment the north side of Chicago moved back to the center of the baseball universe.

Now there are only seven numbers that matter to Cubs fans, the ones they’ve dreamed of seeing for so long while looking up from the sidewalk in front of 3633 North Sheffield Ave. Soon, new numbers will appear on that venerable greystone across the street from the right-field bleachers of Wrigley Field, preceded by Latin words that, translated, mean “Let’s go Cubs” and a counter beginning with "AC," for "Anno Catuli," which translates to "year of the Cubs."

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

LeBron James' cars

Sporthot | 3:44:00 PM | |
LeBron James
LeBron James, might be able to buy whatever car he desires, but at times he had some weired choises. So this are just some of his cars. 

Hummer H2

LeBron James

Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG

LeBron James

Chevrolet Camaro SS
LeBron James

1975 Chevy Impala
LeBron James

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

LeBron James

Lamborghini Aventador Roadster
LeBron James

Maybach 57S
LeBron James

Ferrari F430 Spider

LeBron James

Porsche 911 Turbo S Convertible
LeBron James

Copyright © 2016 sporthot.gr
| Template Design By BTDesigner