Posted in Professional Sports, The Quick Hook on June 14th, 2011 by Craig Zuckerman

What’s better than Game 7?  There are 7 days in a week, 7 chakras, 7 days of Passover, 7 wonders of the world, 7 deadly sins, 7 musical notes in a scale, 7 brides for 7 brothers, 7 continents, 7 colors in the rainbow.  In the NHL, there have been 15 Game 7’s in the Finals.  The NBA has had 17 Game 7’s in the Finals, and Baseball has had 35.  The Mick wore number 7, as did John Elway, George Halas, Joe Theisman (ouch), Pistol Pete Marivich, and of course Phil Esposito and Ray Borque.  Currently, Danica Patrick, Joe Mauer, Jose Reyes, Ben Rothlesberger and Michael Vick all don 7.

In a best of 7 series, Game 7 is IT.  Do or die, win or lose.   There is no tomorrow.  Lots of clichés.  The level of intensity in a Game 7 is unparalleled.  The Curse of the Billy Goat for the Cubbies originated in Game 7 of the 1945 World Series.  The Brooklyn Dodgers won their only Championship in Game 7 of the 1955 World Series.  Bill Mazeroski hit a home run in the bottom of the ninth of Game 7 in the 1960 World Series to propel the Pittsburgh Pirates over the Yankees.  Aaron “bleeping” Boone hit a home run in the bottom of the ninth of Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS to complete the Yanks come from behind victory.  The Red Sox returned the favor in 2004 in Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS to complete one of the greatest comebacks ever.

In golf parlance, scoring a 7 is also known as the dreaded Hockey Stick.  Let’s hope this Game 7 between the Vancouver Canucks and the Boston Bruins is an oxymoronic Instant Classic.

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Be Careful What You Wish, Commish

Posted in Professional Sports, The Quick Hook on May 14th, 2011 by Ian Paregol

Gary Bettman cannot be too thrilled about the looming pairings for the Stanley Cup finals. In the East, Gary better be wearing his Bruins underoos as the puck drops on Boston-Tampa Bay series on Saturday, May 14th. Boston is the only team from the original six and the only large market team left in the Conference Finals. Although the Lightning have a couple players with some fire-power in Steven Stamkos and Marty St. Louis, the Florida market for hockey is one of the leagues weakest – the Lightning and the Panthers round out two of the NHL’s five lowest rated fan bases. The fans in San Jose seem to care about the Sharks, but  Read more »

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Goaltending: The Cup’s Net Asset

Posted in Professional Sports, The Quick Hook on April 25th, 2011 by Ian Paregol

Two heavy favorites move on to the second round, the upstart Preds surprise the Ducks, 3 lower seeded teams must win at home to stay alive and 2 series (so far) await a deciding 7th game.

Stanley Cup Playoff hockey is in full swing.   The Flyers have cycled through all three of their goalies (Bobrovsky, Boucher and Leighton) in the 6 games with the Sabres thus far.  In the other 3-3 series, Roberto Luongo, who helped lead the Canucks to the President’s Trophy and is finalist for the Vezina Trophy has twice been pulled in favor of Cory Schneider.  Loungo’s .750 save percentage over the last 40 Blackhawk shots is causing some panic in the mean streets of Vancouver.

If you look at the last 20 years of Stanley Cup history, winning the Cup is about Read more »

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Hirsute Up

Posted in Professional Sports, The Quick Hook on April 15th, 2011 by Ian Paregol

It’s Spring and it’s warming up (even in Boston) and that’s the logical time to grow a nice itchy beard,… more specifically, a “Playoff Beard.”  Denis Potvin and the members of the New York Isles – who owned the Stanley Cup from 1980 to 1983 – take credit for the development of the playoff beard.  But when Gretzky’s Oilers wrestled the Cup away from the Islanders stronghold, the beard took a hiatus until the Devils made it a mainstay in hockey post-season culture.  So from Vancouver to DC…. hockey fans,…. this is the week that shaving becomes optional (for up to 7weeks), employers consider revising their standards for staff appearance and men sleep alone as hockey fans grow their facial hair in support of their clubs.

There are many rules for the playoff beard but Rule #1 is: Read more »

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Wild Saves Blackhawks from Complete Collapse

Posted in Professional Sports, The Quick Hook on April 10th, 2011 by Ian Paregol

We are giving ourselves another “Pat” Riley.  The Bench Jockeys saw this coming a mile a way.  Or rather, the rest of the hockey-covering media just gave up a shortie to the upstart Bench Jockeys who posted….

Tonite the Dallas Stars almost stole the 8th and final playoff spot from the Chicago Blackhawks.  All the Stars had to do was get a win against the Minnesota Wild.  Toews and the boys better send a case of bubbly to Jose Theodore and each of the Minnesota goal scorers who played an inspired game and prevented the Stars from displacing the Blackhawks from the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs.   The schedule could not have been more friendly to the Stars and more ripe with stumbling blocks for the Hawks.  Earlier this afternoon, Chicago gave a lackluster effort in a 4-3 loss to Detroit which was all too happy to do their part in trying to knock out the 2010 Stanley Cup Champs.  Dallas could not keep up with the lowly Wild and lost 5 – 3 playing from behind all evening.  The Hawks escape the regular season, back into the playoffs and will play President’s Trophy winner, Vancouver, in the first round of the Western Conference Playoffs.

Karma Factor:  Medium High.  Dallas’ opponent, Minnesota, was once represented by the North Stars franchise which was sold to Dallas in 1993 and became the Stars.

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Just a Quick Programming Note

Posted in Professional Sports, The Quick Hook on April 8th, 2011 by Ian Paregol

We are giving ourselves our 1st “Pat on the Back.”  AOL was a full 8 days behind The Bench Jockeys who reported way back on March 30th the Blackhawks potential playoff drama and the likelihood that the 8th seed will not be decided until the last game of the season. The Stars are now 2 points back and play two non-playoff teams this weekend while the Hawks face the Wings for a home-and-home. Dallas needs all 4 points to grab the final slot in West and some help from Detroit.

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Blackhawks Down (and almost out)

Posted in Professional Sports, The Quick Hook on March 30th, 2011 by Ian Paregol

With 6 games remaining in the regular season, the Chicago Blackhawks cling to the 8th and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, three points ahead of a Dallas Stars team which cleaned Chicago’s collective clocks on St. Paddy’s Day.  Chicago wraps their season up with two games against central division rival Detroit which would surely relish knocking the defending champs out of the playoff picture.  Should the Hawks –  who days after the 2010 Stanley Cup awards ceremony were chopped up like a 2006 Honda Accord –  fall short on their 2011 playoff bid, they will be just the 9th club since 1915 to fail to qualify for the post-season after winning the Lord Stanley’s Chalice the prior year.  As true competition withers into league parity and dynasties dissolve in favor of bottom lines (even in the formerly immune NHL) it is interesting to note that there has not been a back-to-back Stanley Cup winner since the Red Wings in 1997-98 after decades of multi-year championships by the Canadians, Leafs, Flyers, Isles and Oilers.

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Opening Day for The Bench Jockeys

Posted in Our Mission, Sport/Pol Crossover on March 28th, 2011 by Ian Paregol

It just seemed appropriate that The Bench Jockeys initiated their Blog to coincide with the start of the 2011 MLB Season.  Although there is nothing like debating AL and NL Pennant chances for the upcoming baseball season and analyzing the strengths, but more likely, the weaknesses of current and former ML players, starting this Blog at this time offers The Bench Jockeys the opportunity to assess the potential play-off scenarios in the National Hockey League, as well as the contenders and the pretenders for the Green Jacket, which is  just around the corner on April 7th.  The NBA is just absolute garbage, so you won’t see much from us about that steaming pile, but you will be able to read about the Final Four and VCU’s improbable run.  (We don’t hate basketball, we just hate the NBA.)  Conflicts, oddities and head-shaking actions within NASCAR, soccer, tennis, even the much-maligned PBA, will be served up with cheeky commentary and exploration.

But it’s not just about sports here at The Bench Jockeys, oh no.  We have opinions about any number of subjects.  And along with the sports banter, we intend to mix in a fair share of analysis about the national political scene, potential domestic and global crises, and of course, we fully intend to heckle leaders deserving of derision.  We hope that you will come along for the ride and participate in the discourse.

Oh, and in case you didn’t notice it in the pic above, Barack Obama is a lefty.  Now, there’s a big surprise.

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The Plus-Minus

Posted in Our Mission, Sport/Pol Crossover, The Plus-Minus on March 27th, 2011 by Ian Paregol

For all you non-Puck Heads, the Plus-Minus is a Hockey statistic which measures a player’s team goal differential for the time he is on the ice during even-strength and shorthanded play.  The Plus-Minus statistic is increased by one (a “plus”) for each player on the ice for the team scoring a non-powerplay goal and it is decreased by one (a “minus”) for each player on the ice when a non-powerplay goal is scored against the team.   More recently, Read more »

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