Thursday, June 01, 2006

Randomization: 06/01/06

Game Seven, baby. Even Jay Mariotti has to get a little jazzed for this. The Eastern Conference representative in the NHL Stanley Cup Finals will be decided tonight, as the Buffalo Sabres take their team of four defensemen to Raleigh to play the Carolina Hurricanes. The winner hosts Game One of the Finals on Monday night against Western champ Edmonton.

The Sabres have been decimated by injuries to their defensive corps, as they've lost Henrik Tallinder for the playoffs, and Teppo Numinen has not been able to play through a hip pointer. That leaves four guys manning the area in front of Ryan Miller, and those four guys could all easily log close to 30 minutes of ice time tonight. Brian Campbell, Rory Fitzpatrick, Toni Lydman, and Jay McKee are healthy, and they'd better be ready tonight. The Hurricanes will try to run the Sabres out of RBC Center tonight, and they'll be successful if the Sabres can't find a way to score early and put the pressure on the 'Canes. Buffalo's biggest flaw the last two games hasn't been Ryan Miller. It hasn't been the defense, despite the staggering lack of depth. It's been the offense.

The Sabres have missed on a large number of golden scoring chances, and it's a trend that they have to reverse if they are to survive this series and get one step closer to a championship that would invigorate the city of Buffalo and all of western New York, where the fans have suffered through those four straight Super Bowl losses with the Bills, along with the Sabres' 1998 Cup Finals run, which ended on a somewhat controversial goal by Brett Hull. If Buffalo wins tonight, it will be because they cashed in on Carolina's defensive zone mistakes and turnovers, which were happening left and right in the first period of Game 6, yet Buffalo only scored once prior to overtime.

I'm sticking with Buffalo, who I picked to make the Finals before the playoffs started. But it should be known that Carolina has to be considered the favorite to win tonight. Buffalo is too short on defensemen, and Carolina has too much speed and diving ability skill.

Please, Ryan Miller. Please play the game of your life tonight.

32-5? To the PIRATES? The Brewers have apparently decided to suck. Hopefully, this is a short-term deal. Because good teams don't lose three straight to the Pirates by a combined score of 32-5.

Roger Clemens is back. Anyone surprised? Clemens signed another one-year deal with Houston on Wednesday. He'll make about $3.5 million.

A month.

The Astros get an ace pitcher who won't break down late in the year like Clemens did last year. And they get him at what will be a relative bargain if Clemens pitches like he has the last two seasons.

Clemens gets to play in the same organization as his son, and he gets to sweep that secret 50-game steroid suspension under the rug stay close to home.

This latest conspiracy theory (Bud Selig told Clemens to stay away until June because they caught him using steroids) is somewhat interesting. Obviously, it has merit in that Clemens is, you know, 43 and still pitching like he's 23. And with the exception of late last season, he's really never been injured in the last few years of his career. However, he signed on the day of the Astros' 54th game, and he still isn't going to play for Houston until at least June 22, which will be around Game 70 for the Astros. Why would Clemens or the Astros want a 50-game "suspension" to really last closer to 70 or 75 games? And why would Selig, even if you think he's the biggest idiot on the planet, risk something like this getting out and destroying the credibility of the "new" steroid policy at a time where Congress is still watching over baseball like I watch over my four-year old when he's riding his bike on the Lakewalk?

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