Blues beat Blackhawks 4-3 in OT, take 2-0 lead (Yahoo Sports) - Defenseman Barret Jackman scored on a drive through traffic, giving the St. Louis Blues their second straight 4-3 overtime victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday for a 2-0 series lead against the defending Stanley Cup champions. St. Louis rallied after Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook received a five-minute major and game misconduct penalty for a vicious elbow to the head on Blues captain David Backes, who had to be helped off the ice, went straight to the locker room and did not return for the extra period. Vladimir Tarasenko forced overtime with his second goal of the series, beating Corey Crawford with a wrist shot that banged off the right post and in with 6.4 seconds to go. Warriors beat Clippers 109-105 in playoff opener (Yahoo Sports) - Klay Thompson scored 22 points, David Lee added 20 and the Golden State Warriors got Blake Griffin and Chris Paul in foul trouble to beat the Los Angeles Clippers 109-105 on Saturday in their playoff opener. Stephen Curry added 14 points for the Warriors, who trailed by 11 points to start the game before rallying in the third when Griffin and Paul were on the bench together. Paul led the Clippers with 28 points, and J.J. Redick added 22 points in 30 minutes. Foul trouble plagued both teams, but losing Griffin and Paul for stretches cost the Clippers at both ends. Harper pulled for not hustling, Nats fall to Cards (Yahoo Sports) - Bryce Harper hit the ball to the mound, jogged to first base and took a right turn to the dugout before getting halfway down the basepath. That would be his final play in the Washington Nationals' 4-3 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday. First-year manager Matt Williams will tolerate physical miscues, such as the error that provided St. Louis three unearned runs, but he won't take the nonchalance that the normally aggressive Harper displayed during his sixth-inning jog. That's why he came out of the game,'' Williams said. Stanning & Glover win at GB trials - Olympic champions Helen Glover and Heather Stanning reunite to win the women's pair at the British rowing trials. Raptors GM Ujiri uses profanity about Nets (Yahoo Sports) - Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri let loose a profanity about the Brooklyn Nets during a pregame address meant to pump up a group of fans outside Air Canada Centre before Saturday's opening game of the NBA playoffs. Ujiri, the NBA's reigning executive of the year, apologized in a brief news conference at halftime, saying he'd made the ''wrong choice of words'' and was ''just trying to get our fans going.'' Asked if the profanity represented his feelings about the Nets, who have been accused of tanking in order to face Toronto in the first round, Ujiri said: ''You know how I feel. I don't like them, but I apologize.'' Raptors coach Dwane Casey said he had no problem with Ujiri's colorful language. ''It doesn't offend me whatsoever,'' Casey said after the Nets won 94-87 in Game 1. Quigg retains title inside two rounds - Scott Quigg defends his WBA super-bantamweight title for the third time with a second-round stoppage against Tshifhiwa Munyai. Cast-off Borini takes Liverpool to brink of glory - After Anfield flop Fabio Borini derails Chelsea, Liverpool will have only themselves to blame if they miss a first title in 24 years - Phil McNulty Sunderland dents Chelsea's title hopes (Yahoo Sports) - In another twist to this unpredictable English Premier League season, last-place Sunderland damaged Chelsea's title hopes with a 2-1 upset at Stamford Bridge on Saturday. After surprise losses to Aston Villa and Crystal Palace in recent weeks, Chelsea again stuttered against weaker opposition, as Jose Mourinho's 77-match unbeaten home run as Chelsea boss came to an end in a major boost for league leader Liverpool. Chelsea could not hold onto its lead after Samuel Eto'o opened the scoring, as Connor Wickham leveled from the rebound six minutes later following Marcos Alonso's long-range effort. Scherzer, Tigers end 10-game skid against Angels (Yahoo Sports) - Max Scherzer struck out nine in seven innings and the Detroit Tigers finally managed to beat the Los Angeles Angels, 5-2 on Saturday. Detroit had lost 10 straight to the Angels and hadn't beaten them since Aug. 26, 2012. The Tigers snapped that skid behind a sharp outing by Scherzer and home runs from Nick Castellanos and Victor Martinez. Albert Pujols hit his 498th homer, connecting for a solo shot in the ninth. Strong era begins at Texas with shaky QB play (Yahoo Sports) - The Charlie Strong era began at Texas with a shaky performance at quarterback and few questions answered about just how quickly the Longhorns can rebound in the Big 12 under their new coach. Tyrone Swoopes struggled to command the first-team offense in Saturday's annual spring scrimmage. Texas is hoping he can establish himself as a viable option in the fall. With David Ash injured, Swoopes took every snap with the starters but started just 4 of 18 passing against the second-team defense, and his first throw was intercepted.

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A Giants fan and Padres fan shared a moment and a hug after chasing foul ball [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: April 19, 2014, 5:20 pm]
Who says opposing fans can't get along in the middle of an intense divisional game? During the Padres 2-1 victory over the Giants on Friday night, a fan from each side got along just fine despite the close game and despite their desire to capture the same souvenir. The Giants fan, an older gentleman all decked out in a team cap and shirt, was bound and determined to catch the foul ball as it neared his section in the second deck along the left field line. Unfortunately, he lost his grip on the railing and took a hard stumble across the aisle, nearly ending up in the lap of the female Padres fan who retrieved the baseball. It looked painful — physically and perhaps mentally — but he got to his feet in good enough condition to accept some good-natured ribbing from his friends and other Padres fans. Then, in a kind gesture, the Padres fan approaches him and even offers to give him the baseball, almost as if she was saying he earned it for his effort. The Giants fan declined, but a new and somewhat awkward friendship seemed to be formed. It was sealed with a hug. And a photo, because nothing matters anymore unless it's documented on Instagram. Very cool.  If all fans played this nice, well, it might actually get a little boring at the ballpark. But it's nice to see different generations and opposing fans come together now and then to share kindness with baseball as the backdrop.  BLS H/N: For The Win More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports: - - - - - - - Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Townie813

Barret Jackman another OT hero for Blues, up 2-0 on Blackhawks (Video) [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: April 19, 2014, 5:01 pm]
The St. Louis Blues have found the recipe for success against the Chicago Blackhawks: Score dramatic game-tying goals with less than two minutes remaining in regulation, and then win in overtime. Granted, this recipe is about as stable as one for homemade nitroglycerin, but it’s worked in Games 1 and 2, as Vladimir Tarasenko’s power-play goal with just over six seconds left in regulation tied it and Barret Jackman’s seeing-eye shot at 5:50 of overtime won it on Saturday. Here’s the Tarasenko goal: Your browser does not support iframes. And here’s the Jackman game-winner: Your browser does not support iframes. Obviously, the game turned as David Backes turned into a Brent Seabrook hit in the third period, knocking the Blues captain out of the game with an injury and the Blackhawks defenseman out of the game with an ejection for charging. Tarasenko’s goal came with 16 seconds remaining on the Seabrook penalty. The Blackhawks are in trouble. (Thanks, Captain Obvious.) You can talk all you want about having faced playoff adversity before and yadda yadda, but losing consecutive games in this manner is a kick in the stomach. They limp back home for a Game 3, searching for someone to play the hero. Or just not do something stupid – 41 PIMs in Game 2, after just eight in Game 1. A few thoughts: * We covered the Seabrook hit here. The severity of Backes’ injury will likely determine his punishment from the Department of Player Safety, but two games is probably the verdict based on recent playoff rulings. Which means he'll get one, of course. * Blues fans are likely also screaming about the knee-on-knee hit from Bryan Bickell on Sobotka, but that looked like unfortunate body positioning from both and at the very least an attempt by Bickell to deliver a full body check. * Corey Crawford was screened well on the game-tying and game-winning goals. He has a .904 save percentage facing 83 shots for the series. His reaction after the game-tying goal showed him devas

Brent Seabrook ejected after hit to head of David Backes (Video) [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: April 19, 2014, 4:01 pm]
Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabook was ejected from Game 2 of their Central Division semifinal game against the St. Louis Blues after lining up and hitting center David Backes in the head late in the third period on Saturday. The Blues tied the game with 16 seconds remaining on the 5-minute major penalty and 6 seconds left in regulation. Here’s the hit, which earned Seabrook a game misconduct:Your browser does not support iframes.   It was a charging major at 15:09, which might have been an easier call than Illegal Check To The Head, which has that tricky “head targeted” aspect. Clearly, Seabrook traveled to hit Backes, who was prone and didn’t have the puck. Backes left the game after attempting to get up and exact revenge on the hitter. The Blues' trainer smartly held him back. The larger issue here is whether Seabrook will be available for Game 3 and beyond. The Department of Player Safety will review the hit, and it’s hard to imagine Seabrook won’t miss at least the next game in this contentious series for the hit on Backes. Question is, will it be more than that? Eric Gryba and Justin Abdelkader were both given two games last postseason for dangeorus hits.

A Giants fan and Padres fan shared a moment after chasing foul ball [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: April 19, 2014, 3:59 pm]
Who says opposing fans can't get along in the heat of an intense divisional game? During the Padres 2-1 victory over the Giants on Friday night, a fan from each side got along just fine despite the close game and despite their desire to capture the same souvenir. The Giants fan, an older gentleman all decked out in a team cap and shirt, was bound and determined to catch the foul ball as it neared his section in the second deck along the left field line. Unfortunately, he lost his grip on the railing and took a hard stumble across the aisle, nearly ending up in the lap of the female Padres fan who retrieved the baseball. It looked painful — physically and perhaps mentally — but he got to his feet in good enough condition to accept some good-natured ribbing from his friends and other Padres fans. Then, in a kind gesture, the Padres fan approaches him and even offers to give him the baseball, almost as if she was saying he earned it for his effort. The Giants fan declined, but a new and somewhat awkward friendship seemed to be formed. It was sealed with a hug. And a photo, because nothing matters anymore unless it's documented on Instagram. But cool nonetheless.  If all fans played this nice, well, it might actually get a little boring at the ballpark. But it's nice to see different generations and opposing fans come together now and then to share kindness through the game of baseball. More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports: - - - - - - - Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Townie813

Nats' manager Matt Williams makes rookie mistake benching Bryce Harper [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: April 19, 2014, 3:24 pm]
Still silly to bench Harper, but I guess I'll admit he sure didn't make it *look* good here: https://t.co/wYH3gx5sKk — Mike Petriello (@mike_petriello) April 19, 2014 He hurt his team's chances to win Saturday, but he'll learn from the mistake. He's still new, but he works hard and is smart, so he'll do better next time. It might have seemed like the right thing to do in the sixth inning, but manager Matt Williams removing Bryce Harper from the Washington Nationals lineup was a mistake, and probably the biggest one he has made so far in his rookie season in charge. Of course, there was no indication that Williams had learned a lesson by the time he spoke to reporters after his team fell 4-3 to the St. Louis Cardinals. But he'll have tonight to sleep on it. Williams went out of his way to point out Harper's spot came up in the Nats' last rally. Said it was "too bad for his teammates." — Adam Kilgore (@AdamKilgoreWP) April 19, 2014 Williams removed Harper after he failed to run hard to first base on a grounder back to pitcher Lance Lynn. It's a play fans and managers have seen a million times. And this might be the first time in 999,999 that a player was punished to the degree Harper was. It should be noted that not only do many players not run hard to first on a play like that — pitchers almost never do in the National League — Harper is nursing a sore quad. Running it out would require just the kind of short sprint that could make the injury worse. There is a school of thought, also, that it's not necessarily the best thing to go all out on every single play, for reasons like that. That logic was of no matter to the manager, who threw Harper under the bus for Williams' own mistake. Hopefully most fans will see through the folly Williams is attempting. Harper's next turn at-bat came in the ninth, and his replacement, Kevin Frandsen — no offense — is no Bryce Harper. Frandsen made an out and the Nationals rally came up short. It might not have, were Harp

NFL Draft Needs: Cowboys, Bears good bets to draft defensive tackle in first round [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: April 19, 2014, 2:01 pm]
Before the NFL draft on May 8-10, we'll be looking at all the key prospects and also breaking them down by position. In our "Draft Needs" series we will also examine which teams will be in the market at each position, looking to fill their remaining roster holes. DEFENSIVE LINE Dallas Cowboys: Signing Henry Melton from Chicago helps, but he is coming off a season-ending injury last year and if he just replaces Jason Hatcher, who had an unbelievable year before going to the Redskins. And Dallas lost future Hall of Famer DeMarcus Ware at end. Maybe the team brings back Anthony Spencer, who is still a free agent, but he's coming off major knee surgery and the fact that he's still unsigned tells you he's not going to fix everything. Dallas needs a lot of help, particularly on its horrible defense, and the line is a great place to start. A good inside presence is almost a must at pick No. 16, someone like Florida State's Timmy Jernigan or Pitt's Aaron Donald. NEED LEVEL: Extremely high Chicago Bears: The Bears loaded up at defensive end in free agency, and that was smart. That doesn't mean the line is set, because there are still holes inside. Henry Melton left to Dallas. Corey Wootton was miscast as a tackle out of necessity, but he's gone too, to Minnesota. The Bears didn't sign one natural defensive tackle, so there's a lot of work to do here. Being able to snag someone like Donald or Jernigan with the 14th pick, two spots before the tackle-needy Cowboys pick, would be a very smart move and accentuate everything they were able to accomplish in free agency. NEED LEVEL: Very high New England Patriots: The Vince Wilfork issue has been taken care of, but it still showed how tenuous the Patriots' defensive line situation is. New England always seems to have good, versatile linemen but need an influx of young talent, especially inside, to go with depth guys like Chris Jones and Joe Vellano. It's probably a good bet they find someone that fits their scheme with the 29th pi

Shot clock problem forces PA countdowns and air horn at Raptors-Nets Game 1 [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: April 19, 2014, 1:50 pm]
The opening game of the NBA playoffs was meant to display the best the league has to offer. Instead, it ended up with a goofy technical malfunction that turned the end of Saturday's Game 1 between the Toronto Raptors and Brooklyn Nets into a goofy scene. Approximately halfway through the third quarter at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, both shot clocks malfunctioned and turned off, forcing a stoppage in play. Arena workers and technicians attempted to install portable clocks at the corners of the court, but those didn't work either. So, with the break in play stretching on, they decided to resort to a decidedly more analog solution. Public address announcer Herbie Kuhn informed the players and crowd when the shot clock had reached 10 seconds, then five seconds, and then counted down to zero from there. Except, when the shot clock expired, there was no horn — he just said "horn." Yes, it was all very bizarre. In the fourth quarter, one of Kuhn's scoring table compatriots got control of a canned air horn, but it was obviously no substitution for the typical in-arena buzzer. Oh, and the shot clocks did start working again, although not until the closing moments of the game, when they were irrelevant anyway. It's hard to say if the lack of shot clocks had an effect on the game. It required some adjustment, for sure, although there weren't more obvious cases of bad timing or offensive lethargy than in a typical NBA game. At any rate, the Brooklyn Nets' superior late-game execution and shot-making didn't seem particularly influenced by the technical difficulties. Their 94-87 road win and 1-0 series advantage stand on their own merits. - - - - - - - Eric Freeman is a writer for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at efreeman_ysports@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @FreemanEric Stay connected with Ball Don't Lie on Twitter @YahooBDL and "Like" BDL on Facebook for year-round NBA talk, jokes and more.

Chicago’s new NHL team nickname is pretty hardcore, courtesy of CBC (Photo) [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: April 19, 2014, 1:35 pm]
In an unprecedented move, the National Hockey League allowed its Chicago franchise to change its team nickname just two games into the postseason, in an attempt to convey to their opponents just how rough and tough they really are. That, or someone at CBC Sports forgot to clear out a template with some hilarious results before Game 2 between the St. Louis Blues and the Chicago “Unsportsmanlike" on Saturday: Full stop: That’s actually an incredible name for an NHL team. Picture Oakland Raiders-like jerseys and a starting lineup of Raffi Torres, Patrick Kaleta and Zac Rinaldo, coached by Bob “Orchestrated Line Brawl” Hartley. Picture the scene on draft day: “It’s been my dream every day since I was a child to become an Unsportsmanlike …” If nothing else, we’re down with this name for the eventual irony party if one of the Unsportsmanlikes ever wins the Lady Byng … This was a great gaffe. But it's still not the best flattering graphic blooper in NHL history ... right, Gary Roberts? s/t Ian

Jose Mourinho loses his first ever Premier League home match [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: April 19, 2014, 1:16 pm]
This Premier League season took another wildly unpredictable turn as bottom-placed Sunderland claimed a 2-1 victory over title contenders Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Saturday. Very few people would have predicted that Gus Poyet's side would be the ones responsible for Jose Mourinho's first ever Premier League home league defeat, ending the Portuguese manager's 77-game streak that dates back to August 2004. Samuel Eto'o gave the Blues the lead after just twelve minutes with his ninth goal of the campaign, but Sunderland's Connor Wickham scored his third goal in two games just six minutes later to equalize. The visitors won the match through a controversial 82nd minute penalty, awarded when César Azpilicueta was deemed to have brought US international Jozy Altidore down. The penalty was converted by Fabio Borini, who just happens to be on loan from Liverpool, a club who will benefit greatly from Chelsea's misfortune. With a win at Norwich on Sunday, the Reds could go five points clear at the top of the table. Borini will likely never score a goal as important for his parent club. Mourinho —who has been telling us for weeks that Chelsea are not in the title race — shirked all media responsibilities before the game and gave a short statement at full-time, in which he "congratulated" referee Mike Dean and Premier League Head of Referees Mike Riley: Considering the fact that Dean gave Sunderland a debatable penalty and Riley has been on his list of mortal enemies since he apologized to former Chelsea man Steve Clarke for a penalty awarded at Stamford Bridge in November, it's safe to say his congratulations were dripping in sarcasm. Not only is the 2-1 win a huge boost for Liverpool, but it gives Sunderland a glimmer of hope for staying up. The Mackems — who have been fairly dreadful for much of the season — have now picked up four points in two away games at Manchester City and Chelsea, and sit just two points away from survival with a game in hand over fell

Billy Hamilton takes very feeble hack at Jeff Samardzija fastball [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: April 19, 2014, 1:13 pm]
Billy Hamilton may be the fastest man in MLB and a base stealing threat every time he reaches base, but his problem so far has been just that — getting on base. His offensive game is a work in progress to put it gently, and, at times, a sight for sore eyes to put it bluntly. His .176/.222/.255 slash line entering play on Saturday just about covers it. With that in mind, his matchup on Friday against Chicago Cubs ace Jeff Samardzija was not a pretty one on paper for Hamilton, and in his plate appearance leading off the ballgame we saw why. To his credit, Hamilton did work the count to 3-2, but the second it ended you almost wondered if Samardzija was toying with him. That's how badly the Reds rookie was fooled by the pitch selection on a 91 mph fastball. Hamilton was obviously looking and perhaps hoping against all hope for something offspeed. When he didn't get it, he wasn't ready to adjust, because he gave one of the worst flails disguised as a swing you'll ever see. It was a simply feeble attempt to slap the ball foul at the last second like longtime Dodgers outfielder Brett Butler used to do so expertly. It's the right idea, of course. As a leadoff hitter, Hamilton wants to make the opposing pitcher work a bit, spoil a few pitchers if possible, and find a way on base so he can wreak havoc with his legs. But obviously that part of his game will need some serious refinement if he hopes to make the impact the Reds are anticipating.  At 23, he has plenty of time to do just that.  More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports: - - - - - - - Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Townie813

Raptors GM Masai Ujiri says '[BLEEP] Brooklyn' at rally before Game 1 vs. Nets, later apologizes (Video) [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: April 19, 2014, 12:40 pm]
NOTE: The Instagram video below includes an instance of foul language. User/reader/listener discretion is advised. After a five-year postseason drought, the Toronto Raptors returned to the playoffs Saturday, kicking off their Eastern Conference quarterfinals series against the Brooklyn Nets at home. The city's fans were extremely fired up for Game 1, with thousands flocking to Maple Leaf Square outside Air Canada Centre to watch the matinee affair on a huge outdoor screen outside the arena. Evidently, Toronto general manager Masai Ujiri — imported in the spring of 2013 after winning Executive of the Year honors for his work with the Denver Nuggets — was pretty fired up, too. After addressing the amped-up crowd at the pre-game pep rally outside the ACC, Ujiri punctuated his remarks with a four-letter expletive to which I, personally, was first introduced as a lad by Van Halen. As we live in the age of smartphone cameras, the moment was, of course, captured and quickly shared via social media: Well, then. Tell us how you really feel, Masai! Ujiri later confirmed that he didn't misspeak: Spoke to Masai U, who confirmed he said "F--- Brooklyn!" in ML Sqr: "I love Brooklyn. But it's playoffs. Just trying to get our fans going."— Dave Feschuk (@dfeschuk) April 19, 2014 But as word of his unkind comment toward the borough where they paint murals of Biggie began to spread, the Raptors announced that Ujiri would address media on-site at the ACC at halftime. The content of said address, of course: an apology. "I apologize wrong choice of words out there." Ujiri— Ryan Wolstat (@WolstatSun) April 19, 2014 ... but this is pretty much a "sorry, not sorry" situation: Masai Ujiri, best apology ever: 'You know how I feel. I don't like them, but I apologize.'— cathalkelly (@cathalkelly) April 19, 2014 Ujiri might find himself a little bit sorry after the game, since his pregame expletive will surely cost him a fair bit of coin. (For reference, Washington Wizards head coach

Scheduling concessions to Gonzaga leave Washington State fans disgusted [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: April 19, 2014, 12:13 pm]
Buried in the middle of a lengthy story in the Gonzaga student newspaper earlier this week was a tidbit that had Washington State fans snarling with anger. The annual matchup between the Zags and Cougars will take place at Spokane Arena next season even though Gonzaga hosted last year's game and the schools have traditionally alternated home games since the series restarted in the mid-90s. What further reporting from the Spokesman Review uncovered is that Gonzaga balked at extending the series as a home and home. To prevent the rivalry from going on hiatus, Washington State athletic director Bill Moos agreed to a three-year contract in which the first game was at Gonzaga last November, the second will be at Spokane Arena next season and the third will be in Pullman the year after that. It's easy to understand the frustration of Washington State fans at that arrangement. Though both teams play occasional home games at Spokane Arena, the venue is a 90-minute drive from Washington State yet is within walking distance of the Gonzaga campus, essentially making a matchup there an extra home game for the Zags.   What Washington State fans aren't taking into account, however, is that Gonzaga has earned the right to make such a demand. Though the Zags may play in a lesser conference, they are clearly the superior program at the moment.  Gonzaga has evolved from mid-major darling to national power under Mark Few, reaching 16 consecutive NCAA tournaments, earning its first-ever No. 1 seed in 2013 and returning enough talent to likely begin next year in the preseason top 20. Washington State meanwhile has fallen off the national radar since Tony Bennett left for Virginia in 2009, going 80-86 overall and 29-61 in Pac-12 games in five seasons under Ken Bone before replacing him with former Oregon coach Ernie Kent last month. Since the improving but still second-tier WCC is a drag on Gonzaga's RPI numbers each year, the Zags have to counteract that by playing as challenging a n

Milan Lucic fined $5000 for groin spear, points out he only does this once every 2.3 years [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: April 19, 2014, 12:07 pm]
It's been a nutty start to the NHL playoffs, as for the second straight day, the NHL has handed out a fine for a testicle-related incident. Just one day after Joel Quenneville was left reaching for his wallet for reaching just left of his wallet, Milan Lucic of the Boston Bruins was dinged $5000 for dinging Danny DeKeyser with a stick to the de keysers during Friday night's series opener between Boston and Detroit. Here's another look: The league called it spearing. That seems generous. Lucic also defended his own honour by pointing to his relatively clean record, which is customary in Boston: Lucic: "I’ve been in the league for seven years and I think I’ve only done that three times. I don’t know why I did it.”— Ansar Khan (@AnsarKhanMLive) April 19, 2014 The man has a point. He's only averaging one cheap, cowardly crotch shot every 2.3 years. If he has a 15-year career, he's only going to do this four or five more times. That's it. Seems like an honorable player to me. Lucic wasn't the only one defending Lucic, absurdly enough. Since he plays in Boston, he had his local defenders. From Boston.com: Though many will bemoan Milan Lucic's grape-busting stick work on Detroit's Danny DeKeyser in the second period of Game 1, the simple fact is that in the Stanley Cup Playoffs the ends do justify the means. Of course, most incidents like this aren't caught on camera, and most aren't perpetrated by someone as widely disliked as Milan Lucic, but anyone who has ever laced a pair knows how much cheap stuff behind the play can take an opponent off their game. Let's move on. You'll note that $5k is one-fifth of what Joel Quenneville received for grabbing his own package, so the lesson here is simple: it is five times worse to attack your opponent's junk than your own. Be excellent to one another, but be especially excellent to yourself. Or perhaps the league feels Lucic was influenced by Quenneville, who is an authority figure. Who deserves more punishment? The ki

Report: MLB to reexamine home plate collision and transfer rules [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: April 19, 2014, 12:03 pm]
According to Fox Sports Ken Rosenthal, Major League Baseball will be proactive in making adjustments to the new rules involving collisions at home play as well as transfer rules on defense. Both have been the source of controversy early in the season as players and umpires struggle to figure out where a catcher needs to be on plays at home and what exactly constitutes a clean catch.  In particular, the rule on when a catch is a catch and when the player loses the handle on the transfer has shown up repeatedly. In fact, the challenging and overruling of a clean catch even played a key role in setting  up Giancarlo Stanton’s walk-off grand slam on Friday night. As Yahoo’s Tim Brown recently pointed out, the rule has become complicated enough that defining a catch in baseball has become as difficult as defining a catch in football. When it reaches that point, it’s time for some reevaluation, which according to Rosenthal should include a return to a more common-sense approach to what constitutes a catch instead of looking for reasons to not rule it a catch. Your browser does not support iframes. Here’s more from Rosenthal‘s report: Both sides agreed that certain plays are being called incorrectly, and MLB officials will seek to clarify what constitutes a catch in a conference call with members of the umpires union early next week, sources said. In the first three weeks of the season, umpires and replay officials occasionally called "no catch" on balls that once were considered outs, ruling that the fielder must transfer the ball to his throwing hand cleanly. The rulebook states that a player must have "secure possession" of the ball in his glove or hand, but the interpretation of the rule changed to include a clean transfer with the inception of expanded replay. "To say it has been a hot topic with the players would be an understatement," one union official said. Transfers and the neighborhood play, which typically involves umpires giving infielders lenienc

Red Wings also keep playoff streak alive for rap anthem 'Throw Your Wings Up' (Video) [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: April 19, 2014, 11:41 am]
The Detroit Red Wings are making their 23rd consecutive appearance in the NHL playoffs, but that wasn't the only streak they kept alive by winning the second Wild Card spot. Also saved: Detroit rapper Baby G's run of annual hip hop playoff anthems. Back in 2011, the emcee released original cut "Throw Your Wings Up", and he's been re-releasing the track with roster updates every postseason since. On Friday, just prior to Game 1 between the Red Wings and Bruins, Baby G dropped version four, "Octopi 2014 edition", and in so doing, gave Detroit the early frontrunner for best hip hop fan anthem of the 2014 playoffs.  "We're going 23 consistent, 11 rings too, that's playoffs my whole existence, can't say the same for you."  This guy has never seen a Red Wings team that didn't make the playoffs. I'm probably not the only one seething with envy and spite right now. The Red Wings won Game 1 of their series, and while most would argue that it was Pavel Datsyuk who propelled them to victory, I am willing to hear arguments that it was actually Baby G and his dope flow. That said, "throw your wings up" sounds like more like it should be an Applebee's anthem.

Closing Time: Double dips for Travis Wood, Wily Peralta [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: April 19, 2014, 10:42 am]
You need a plan for the upcoming week, so let's take a look at the double-dipping pitchers for the period Monday-Sunday. As always, consider everything on this list tentative: sometimes pitchers get scratched, sometimes plans change, sometimes it rains. Additional schedule and player notes will follow after the pitching form. 1. Adam Wainwright (at NYM, PIT): Overdue for a Cy Young. 2. Yu Darvish (at OAK, at SEA): Won't miss the Arlington undertow. 3. Chris Sale (at DET, TB): Hope he goes deep because the bullpen is a joke. 4. Felix Hernandez (HOU, TEX): For what it's worth, April is best career month (2.51/1.10). 5. Cliff Lee (at LAD, at ARI): Clear favorite against Maholm and Arroyo. 6. Jose Fernandez (at ATL, at NYM): Gets two calls if Marlins skip fifth starter. 7. Masahiro Tanaka (at BOS, LAA): Trip to Fenway Park his first major test. 8. Justin Verlander (CWS, at MIN): Sale up front, but then gets Pelfrey cookie. 9. James Shields (at CLE, at BAL): Stuck with Royals offense, but still a no-brainer. 10. Francisco Liriano (CIN, at STL ): Career at PNC (15 starts): 9-2, 1.72, 1.00). 11. Johnny Cueto (at PIT, at ATL): Velocity up, looks 100 percent healthy. 12. Julio Teheran (MIA, CIN): Pitching to contact, but career K/9 much higher in 2H. 13. Anibal Sanchez (CWS, at MIN): Down 1.7 mph on heater but the whiffs are there. 14. Andrew Cashner (at MIL, at WAS): Raw stuff finally turning into strikeouts. 15. Hyun-Jin Ryu (PHI, COL): One terrible start, four outstanding ones. 16. Wily Peralta (SD, CHC): Andy Behrens is a believer. 17. Jon Lester (NYY, at TOR): Velocity down a spec but it hasn't held him back. 18. Travis Wood (ARI, at MIL): Regression starts the conversation, it doesn't end it. 19. Tommy Milone (TEX, at HOU): Avoids Darvish and then it's “Hello, Houston.” 20. Dan Straily (TEX, at HOU): Surprisingly, career ERA is .38 lower on the road. 21. Edinson Volquez (CIN, at STL): Ray Searage has an ultimate set of tools. 22. R.A. Dickey (BAL,

Dramatic Game 1 loss leaves Chicago Blackhawks unfazed [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: April 19, 2014, 10:37 am]
It was the kind of loss that could have left another team devastated: Seeing a lead disappear with 1:46 left in the third period, and then losing in triple overtime in Game 1 on the road. But this isn’t the Chicago Blackhawks’ first rodeo. Please remember all the way back to 2013, when the Blackhawks dropped their first road game against the Minnesota Wild, Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings and Boston Bruins, and ended up winning the Stanley Cup. “We've gone through some stretches where we've lost opening games. We've lost last year all four first games in their buildings and seemed to recover,” said coach Joel Quenneville, via ESPN.com. “That's something we can build on. It's a long series. We expected a tough series against this team. There's going to be no easy games, but it's a good example that going forward we've got to find a way to overcome our opponents." Where can the Hawks improve as they take on the St. Louis Blues in Game 2 on Saturday? Mark Lazerus of the Sun-Times on one of Chicago’s Game 1 regrets: The Hawks’ biggest regret was the power play. After Brent Seabrook scored on the Hawks’ first chance, they came up empty on their last five. The two relatively easy third-period kills seemed to embolden the Blues, who got more aggressive on the forecheck after that, with defensemen regularly pinching in while they chased the tying goal. Meanwhile, coach Joel Quenneville put Michal Rozsival — his third-period security blanket — on the point for those two power plays, and the Hawks essentially ran clock rather than go for the kill. And that’s the other issue for the Blackhawks in Game 1: They tried to play a conservative road game, curating their lead rather than expanding it. From CSN Chicago: Their standard game plan is clearly effective judging by their past results, and they have the personnel to pull it off. Where they struggle is when they deviate from that plan and try to play cautiously, because it takes away the very thin

Red Sox rough luck with replay continues following another questionable call [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: April 19, 2014, 10:34 am]
Your browser does not support iframes. By and large expanded replay is working to the satisfaction of most around Major League Baseball. However, the Boston Red Sox may be the one big exception so far after a pair of reviews during their series with the New York Yankees last weekend appeared to show one thing, but were ruled differently, both costing the Red Sox. In one case, MLB was forced to admit that a replay error cost Boston an out when they couldn't find an angle that showed the play conclusively. Meanwhile, fans at home were treated to no less than three angles that were conclusive.  Manager John Farrell expressed his displeasure over those calls and replay in general early this week, but by Friday the Red Sox were ready to move forward. Unfortunately, it didn't take long for them to end up on the wrong end of another apparent missed called on a review during their 8-4 loss to the Baltimore Orioles. It actually happened on John Lackey's first pitch of the game. Nick Markakis lined one down the left field line and towards the corner at Fenway Park. The ball was ruled fair, though at first look it did appear the ball touched down foul and kicked dirt on the line. However, it was close enough that either way it was called, it was likely to be challenged by the other manager. After further review, one distinctive camera angle shows the ball landing inches foul, but replay officials didn’t see enough evidence to change the call. It stayed a fair ball, and Farrell was once again left to wonder why replay didn't do the job its intended to do. From the Boston Globe: The non-reversal made the Red Sox 0-for-4 on challenges for the season at the time. "We challenged it and it came back inconclusive," Farrell said. "…There's really no need to go out and look [to see if the chalk was marked by the ball] because video's available to us. We followed the steps that are available to us and unfortunately the call stands." A diplomatic response, which isn't unexpected c

[VIDEOS] Free Fabricio Werdum Fights Saturday [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: April 19, 2014, 8:39 am]
For our money, two fights stand out as the biggest wins of UFC heavyweight contender Fabricio Werdum's career. Tonight, Werdum squares up against Travis Browne for the right to challenge Cain Velasquez for his UFC heavyweight title. Werdum has had a long path towards UFC title contention. Five and a half years ago, he was quickly dispatched with via KO by an unknown rookie named Junior Dos Santos. Werdum vs. Fedor Of course, Dos Santos turned out to be a world-class champion himself. Werdum has had to slowly and steadily work his way back up into the heavyweight's elite class.After losing to JDS, Werdum was released by the UFC and went to Strikeforce. There, three fights after the loss, Werdum faced one of the best of all time - Fedor Emelianenko - as a big underdog in 2010. It took Werdum under one round to submit "The Last Emperor," and make the realize that he himself was one of the best heavyweights in the world. Check out the full fight video above. Werdum vs. Nelson In 2012, Werdum was back in the UFC and faced a stiff challenge in Roy Nelson. Nelson was skilled enough in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu not to fall victim to Werdum's submissions and also powerful enough of a striker on his feet to seem like an up-hill battle for Werdum. Instead, the Brazilian went out and showed much-improved Muay Thai kickboxing skills and dominated Nelson from bell to bell, earning a unanimous decision win. Follow Elias on Twitter @EliasCepeda & @YahooCagewriter

Travis Browne breaks down tonight's UFC main event [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: April 19, 2014, 8:14 am]
Tonight, UFC heavyweight contenders Travis "Hapa" Browne and Fabricio Werdum meet in the main event of UFC on Fox 11. The winner will then be next to face heavyweight king Cain Velasquez for his championship belt. Browne and Wedum have contrasting styles - Werdum is the athletic slugger and Werdum the slick ground submission artist - but both men always seem to be fighting for a finish. Browne recently spoke with Sports Net Canada about the match up, the stakes and his goal in every fight. Check out the video interview below and let us know who you're picking in the comments section! Follow Elias on Twitter @EliasCepeda & @YahooCagewriter





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