Monday, April 11, 2011

April Fool's Sports Chowdah- Manny Walks Away For Good; Sox Snap Back in Home Opener; B's Finish Regular Season w/Weekend Split; C's Fall to 3rd Place

MLB- While waiting for the first Red Sox win of the 2011 season, it was announced that Tampa Bay slugger Manny Ramierez had tested positive for a performance enchancing drug, the second such offense in just under two years. Rather than face the 100 game suspension that a second offense would've brought him, Manny abruptly announced his retirement from baseball on Friday.

After being traded from the LA Dodgers to the Chicago White Sox last season, Manny signed a 1-year, $2 million contract with the Tampa Bay Rays this offseason. Manny had one hit, 4 strikeouts and an RBI in 17 plate appearences with the Rays in the very young regular season.

Jim Rogash- Getty Images
RED SOX- Apparently playing Cowboys Rangers and Indians was a bit much for Boston, hence the singularly unimpressive 0-6 start on the season. Honestly, I wasn't even going to do a sports-related update until the Red Sox won their first game series [I was blissfully unaware that I'd have to wait a full week, though- NANESB!] However, things looked like they were starting to turn around on the home opener Friday night when the Red Sox had a come from behind 9-6 win against the Yankees thanks in large part to Dustin Pedroia going 3-5 with 3 RBI. The Yankees won convincingly on Saturday, which set up the rubber game on Sunday and Josh Beckett vs CC Sabathia on the mound.

Beckett was just about flawless, dealing 10 strikeouts, two hits and a walk over 8 shutout innings. At times, run support seemed incredibly difficult to come by, with the Sox leaving a total of 16 runners on base. Throughout much of the night, Boston was clinging to a 1-0 lead after a bases-loaded Mike Cameron single drove in the game's first run in the bottom of the 3rd. However, Marco Polo Scutaro gave the Sox some insurance in the bottom of the 7th with a bases loaded 2-RBI double off of Yankees reliever Joba Chamberlain that plated Big Papi and JD Drew to make it a 3-0 Red Sox lead. Big Papi would drive in Youkilis with an RBI double in the bottom of the 8th to make it 4-0 and Papelbon would close it out with a 1-2-3 9th inning, catching Mark Texiera looking at strike 3 to end the ballgame and give the Sox their first series win of the season some 48 hours after winning their first game.

Yankees starter CC Sabathia lasted 5⅔ innings, allowing 9 hits and one earned run while allowing 4 walks and striking out 4. New York will next take on the AL East-leading Baltimore Orioles [even if it's only April, how often do I get to say that? -NANESB!] at Yankee stadium on Tuesday while the Red Sox will play host to the 1-8 Tampa Bay Rays Monday night at Fenway. NHL: The Boston Bruins finished off the regular season with a split of their final two games. On Saturday, Daniel Paille, Nathan Horton and Rich Peverly all scored for the Bruins and Tim Thomas stopped 31 of 32 shots faced to keep his save percentage at .938- surpassing Dominik Hasek's .937 from the 1998-1999 season.

The Bruins would skate to a 3-1 win over the Hapless-but-occasionally-feisty Sentators and Sens fired head coach Cory Clouston for missing the postseason in two out of the last three seasons.

With not much to play for on Sunday, the Bruins fell to the Devils by a 3-2 final at the Prudential Center in Newark on Sunday. Tukka Rask got the start in net, allowing 3 goals on 32 shots faced for the regular season finale. Rich Peverly and Chris Kelly accounted for the B's two goals in the regular season finale, and incidentally Sunday's game turned out to be the final for Jaques Lemaire as Devils head coach.

So the Bruins wrap up the regular season with a 46-25-11 record and 103 points- good for 3rd overall in the Eastern conference. The Bruins will match up with the Canadiens in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs starting Thrusday of this week.

It's also worth noting that a week prior to the Saturday win, Micheal Ryder's go-ahead penalty shot against the Atlanta Thrashers helped Boston secure the Northeastern Division titleELSEWHERE IN THE NHL/STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS: The First round matchups for the Stanley Cup playoffs are as follows:

#1 Washington Capitals vs #8 NY Rangers- series begins on Wednesday, April 13- 7:30 ET

#2 Philadelphia Flyers vs #7 Buffalo Sabres- Thrusday, April 14- 7:30 ET

#3 Boston Bruins vs #6 Montreal Canadiens- Thursday April 14, 7 PM ET

#4 Pittsburgh Penguins vs #5 Tampa Bay Lightning- Wednesday April 13, 7 PM ET


#1 Vancouver Canucks vs #8 Chicago Blackhawks, Wednesday April 13, 10:00 PM ET

#2 San Jose Sharks vs #7 Los Angeles Kings, Thursday April 14, 10:00 PM ET

#3 Red Wings vs #6 Phoenix Coyotes, Wednesday April 13, 7 PM ET

#4 Anaheim Ducks vs #5 Nashville Predators, Wednesday April 13, 10:30 PM ET

NCAA HOCKEY-None of the New England schools that made it to the NCAA Men's hockey finals advanced past the second round. Defending Champion Boston College was upended by Colorado College by a 4-8 final in the first round and Merrimack lost to Notre Dame by a 4-3 final. UNH and Yale both advanced to the second round only for the Wildcats to fall to the Fighting Irish.

Yale, on the other hand lost to eventual Champion Minnesota-Duluth in the 2nd round. UMD would go on to beat Notre Dame in the semifinals and face the Michigan Wolverines in the final. The UMD Bulldogs would win in OT by a final of 3-2 for their first ever NCAA Men's Hockey title.

NCAA HOOPS- After squeaking by Kentucky by a 56-55 margin, the UConn Huskies earned a showdown with Butler last week. The Huskies handled the Butler Bulldogs fairly easily by a 53-41 final last week for their first NCAA men's title since 2004.

The UConn women's team lost in the semifinals last week by a 72-63 final to Notre Dame- the Irish women's team would then go on to lose to Texas A&M by a 76-70 final in the women's championship game. Texas A&M also bested frequent UConn nemesis Stamford on their way to the women's final as well

NBA: After a pretty good week in which the C's were able to beat the Pistons, Wizards and 76ers (while losing to the Bulls) the Miami heat sent a message with the 100-77 win over Boston in South Florida on Sunday. The loss pushes Boston down to 3rd place in the Eastern conference; 1 game behind Miami and 5 games behind Chicago.

The C's will take on the Washington Wizards in the Nation's Capital on Monday night before finishing out the regular season at home against the Knicks on Wednesday night.

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