New Ads

New ads

Monday, May 27, 2019

Two Of Baseball's Hidden Gems Happening This Week

'You Can Reach There From  Here' -- 17 year old Bryce Harper at the 2010 Junior College World Series

by Harry Cummins

     Two of the best baseball weeks you will ever want to experience are unfolding simultaneously right now in the communities of Lewiston, Idaho and Grand Junction, Colorado.

     Combining idyllic small town charm with breathtaking Western landscapes, these consummate celebrations of small college baseball happen every year during Memorial Day week. The Junior College World Series in Grand Junction, and the NAIA World Series in Lewiston.

     For most of the wide-eyed participants, its the experience of their young lives.  For others, like Bryce Harper, it's a way station on the trip to hammering home runs in the big leagues.  For the spectators, these 10 team double-elimination tournaments are simply a banquet of baseball delights.

     The JUCO World Series in Grand Junction is played at Suplizio Field, under the shadow of the Colorado National Monument.  If you are not familiar with the incredible story of the late Sam Suplizio, it is worth looking up.  He was as close to the fictitious Moonlight Graham of Field of Dreams as you will find in this life.

     Founded in 1957, The NAIA World Series is held at Harris Field on the campus of Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, at the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater Rivers.  Check out the tournament website this week, or better yet, tune in on-line to KOZE radio in Lewiston to catch the best college baseball announcer you probably don't know about.  Brian Danner will give you a words eye view of the action that transports  listeners back to the glory days of baseball on the radio.

     Of course, these week-long, must see tournaments are best experienced in person. The players are treated like celebrities and you will feel like one too. If you are a baseball devotee and these events are not on your road-trip bucket list, shame on you!!

"When I look back, I can say one of my favorite times I ever had on a baseball field, and one of the greatest years of my life, was playing JUCO"      -Bryce Harper   

Craw’s Sports Biz 59 Seconds

By Gregory Crawford @wchoops
The NBA is for sure what you would call a “trendy” league. With the huge success of Bob Myers a former agent, successfully running Golden State more teams are hiring former agents to make key decisions in their front office. 
Besides Myers, there is of course Rob Pelinka with Lakers, Arn Tellem in Detroit and newly hired Justin Zanik with Jazz. Look for this trend to continue with front office hiring in the NBA

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Craw’s Sports Biz 59 Seconds

By Gregory Crawford @wchoops
Today was 103rd edition of Indy 500. Always a big event, big as well for the greater Indianapolis economy. It is conservatively estimated the race this year will bring in $325 million to local economy. As compared to another huge event, the Super Bowl in last five years has averaged just under $200 million for local economy.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Back When They Were Beautiful...

Who's On Your List?

by Harry Cummins

     If you have been so blessed as to freeze-frame certain athletes of your generation thru a lens of heightened sensitivity, you will be recompensed with the lingering gift of fond remembrance.

     Memories of beauty in any of its forms are gifts that can transform us.  Gifts that unveil the singular grace (or gracefulness) of those given moments that can change the way in which we SEE.

     In pensive recollection this morning, here are 10 athletes that immediately step from the mist of my own fragmented memory.  Ten names that beckon...'do you ever remember me'?  Ten names that actually altered the way I came to view sport as an art form.

Lance Alworth
Sugar Ray Robinson
Connie Hawkins
John Curry
George Gervin
Paul Blair
R.C. Owens
John Walker
Wilma Rudolph
Nolan Ryan

       The next time you watch a sporting contest, look longer and deeper and wider.  In the way we  should all survey this sententious life that surrounds us.  Start with the NBA Finals or the French Open this week.  Find those moments the commentators and next day headline hunters will miss.  These are your chance encounters with beauty....  to one day remember again.

      "Sensitivity isn't about being wimpy, it's about
        being so painfully aware that a flea landing
        on a dog, is like a sonic boom"

                 -Jeff Buckley

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Stanley Cup Final preview

The St Louis Blues will play the Boston Bruins for the 2019 Stanley Cup.  This is the rematch of the 1970 Stanley Cup final with the Bruins sweeping the Blues 4-0 and giving us one of the most iconic moments in Stanley Cup history with Bobby Orr scoring the game winning goal and jumping in the air to celebrate in the "Leap of Faith".  This is the first appearance in the finals for Boston since 2011 when the Bruins beat the Vancouver Canucks in 7 games.  This is the first appearance in the finals for the Blues since 1970 and they have never won a Stanley Cup.

The Bruins had a solid regular season tying for the 2nd most points in the league with the Calgary Flames with 107 points but only finished 2nd in the Atlantic Division behind the Tampa Bay Lightning.  It appeared the road to the final for the Bruins would be a difficult trek as they had to play a very good Toronto Maple Leafs team in the 1st round and had to go 7 games to win that series.  They got a huge break not having to play the Lightning in the 2nd round as they were upset by the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Bruins disposed of the Blue Jackets in 6 games.  The Bruins then dominated the Carolina Hurricanes in the conference finals sweeping them in 4 games.

The Blues at one time during the NHL regular season had the least overall points.  They fired head coach Mike Yeo on November 20th and hired Craig Berube as interim coach.  Everything eventually came together for the Blues at the start of the new year once Jordan Binnington took over as the starting goaltender and starting on January 23rd they went on an almost month long 11 game winning streak and finished the regular season winning their last 8 of 10.  They finished tied for 2nd in the Central Division with the Winnipeg Jets with 99 points but had to play the Jets on the road in the 1st round of the playoffs per losing the tiebreaker on regular season wins.  The Blues eventually beat the Jets in 6 games, beat the Dallas Stars in the 2nd round in dramatic fashion winning the decisive 7th game in double overtime, and in the Western Conference finals beat the San Jose Sharks in 6 games winning the last 3 in the series.

The Bruins will go into this series as the favorite and will have home ice per having more points during the regular season.  Game 1 is Monday night, May 28th in Boston at the TD Garden.

Here is an analysis of the head to head match-ups in the series


Boston Tuukka Rask:  He has been spectacular in the playoffs and is the current favorite for the Conn Smythe Trophy as Most Valuable Player.  In the playoffs he has a 1.84 GAA and a save percentage of .942.  He gave up 4 goals in game 1 of the playoffs against the Maple Leafs but has not given up more than 3 goals in any of his other playoff games and in the series against Carolina in four games only gave up 5 goals in the entire series.  The veteran was the starting goaltender when the Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011, has played every minute of every game during the playoffs,  and is in A+ form right now.

St Louis Jordan Binnington:  Almost came from nowhere as he was not part of the Blues goalie rotation at the start of the regular season but once he became the starter he was arguably the MVP in the 2nd half of the regular season posting a 1.89 GAA and .927 save percentage with 5 shutouts.  In the playoffs Binnington has been rock solid posting a 2.36 GAA and .914 save percentage.  In games decided by a single goal in the playoffs Binnington is 8-3. After getting roughed up in games 1 & 3 in the Western Conference finals Binnington gave up only 2 goals in the next 3 games to close it out.  Like Rask, Binnington has played every minute of every game during the playoffs and has proved he can handle the playoff pressure and has come up with some huge 3rd period and OT saves.

Forward Lines

Boston:  It has been no surprise that the big scorers for the Bruins during the regular season Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, David Krejci, and Patrice Bergeron have produced during the playoffs.  They have combined for 26 goals and 34 assists in the playoffs with Marchand 2nd overall in scoring.  Also those 4 players are a combined +30 for their +/- during the playoffs.  The big surprise for the Bruins has been the contributions from their 3rd and 4th lines.  Charlie Coyle has 6 goals in the playoffs after only scoring 12 goals during the regular season and they have also gotten huge contributions from Marcus Johansson, Jake DeBrusk, Sean Kuraly, and Chris Wagner.

St Louis:  The big story for the Blues in the playoffs has been the emergence of Jaden Schwartz who has scored 12 goals in the playoffs after only scoring 11 goals during the regular season in 69 games.  If the Blues win the Stanley Cup and Schwartz delivers in the finals he in all likelihood would win the Conn Smythe.  Vladimir Tarasenko who struggled during the 2nd round against the Dallas Stars came alive against San Jose with 3 goals and 5 assists.  Tyler Bozak, Patrick Maroon, David Perron, and Oscar Sundqvist have combined for 18 goals and 20 assists during the playoffs while being +13.  And even though he only has 1 goal and 5 assists during the playoffs watch out for 19 year old Robert Thomas. Very skilled with the puck and a natural goal scorer he could emerge as a major threat in the finals. 


Boston:  Future Hall of Famer Zdeno Chara at age 42 has showed no signs of slowing down and has been his usual huge physical presence during the playoffs.  He is leading all defensemen in +/- at +11.  After struggling with injuries during the regular Torey Krug and Charlie McAvoy have also been part of a solid blue line during the playoffs.  Krug and McAvoy have combined for 17 assists with a combined +/- of +15.  They have also got a surprise contribution from Matt Grzelcyk with 3 goals and 4 assists for the playoffs after only scoring 3 goals with 15 assists during the regular season in 66 games.

St Louis:  Even though they don't have a huge scoring presence at the blue line they are an underrated unit who play a very physical style.  Alex Pietrangelo and Colton Parayko are the leaders on the defensive side and have combined for 21 assists and have averaged close to 25 minutes per game on ice. At age 35 Jay Bouwmeester has been a nice veteran presence and the Blues defenders with their defensive style have a chance to frustrate the big scoring line for the Bruins.

Special Teams

Boston:  The Bruins power play has been scorching in the playoffs scoring at a 34% clip while killing 86.3 % of their opponents power plays. 

St Louis:  The Blues power play is converting on 19.4% in the playoffs while killing 78% of their opponents power plays. 

Pick:  I will be pulling for St Louis and if Binnington can outplay Rask and Schwartz can continue his incredible run the Blues can win this series.  But I will go with Boston since Rask is playing at his peak right now, the Bruins have the more dangerous scoring lines with a hot power play, and have been more mistake free during these playoffs

Bruins in 6 games

The Confounding Persona of Caster Semenya - Regulate or Celebrate?

by Harry Cummins

     It should be said straight off that there are imponderable questions in this life that yield no right resolution. In such cases, it is simply best to move on without a satisfying answer.

     Caught in a modern-day legal and media maelstrom, Caster Semenya, the two-time 800 meter Olympic champion from South Africa, is moving on.

     Semenya has openly stated that she will not submit to the mandated I.A.A.F. ruling that requires inter-sex athletes to undergo hormone therapy to lower their naturally elevated testosterone levels.  Earlier in May, the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld the ruling set forth by track and field's governing body in an effort to preserve a level playing field in women's track events ranging from 400 meters to one mile.

     In response, the 28 year-old Semenya has entered a loaded 3,000 meter field for the upcoming Prefontaine Classic to be held June 30 at Stanford University.  She will be competing at a mostly unfamiliar distance against three of the greatest female distance runners of all time; Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands, Genzebe Diababa of Ethiopia and Hellen Obiri of Kenya.

     The controversial ruling has left impassioned proponents on each side.  It has also left Semenya and other similar athletes with no good options if they refuse to take hormone suppressing drugs for six months and then maintain levels far below what they were naturally given at birth.

      They must either compete against men, participate in events limited to inter-sex athletes, if even available, or elect to compete around the edges of the ruling. (100/200m or  5,000m or longer.)  Semenya has elected to go up to the 3,000m (1.86 miles)  tho it is not an event currently contested in the Olympic Games.

       I am not wise enough to offer a solution to this incredibly complex issue that reaches far beyond athletics.   I don't fully understand words like hyperandrogenic.  I do not know nearly enough about 46, XY chromosomal makeup or testosterone levels measured in nanomoles per liter.  Or what adverse consequences could result from a human body dramatically altered from its natural state. Maybe most importantly, do any ruling entities really know enough about the exact effect of gender and testosterone on performance at different distance events.

     What I DO know is this.  I have followed the 28 year-old Semenya's career with great interest.  I have witnessed her dominating races in person many times.  I have listened to her words in interviews.  I have seen how she has handled decades of ridicule and scrutiny in front of a watching world.

     I believe Caster Semenya is a caring person of deep intellectual and emotional substance.  Her view of the world should be admired.  In a recent interview following her final 800 meter race (her staggering 30th consecutive win at the distance!) before the ruling took effect, she said:

          "We are all on this earth together.  None of us really know what we are doing.  If there is a hurdle in my path, I try to jump it" 

     An oversimplified explanation of life? 

      Maybe not.

      Already schooled in hurdles and hassles, maybe the perfect future event for Caster Semenya just might be  ...the steeplechase.



Friday, May 17, 2019

The Texas Size Skill Set of Joey Gallo

"I hear the train a comin', it's rollin' 'round the bend"

by Harry Cummins

     When 25 year-old Texas Rangers slugger Joey Gallo's 100th career home run splashed into Pittsburgh's Allegheny River recently, Gallo landed in the record books as the fastest ever to reach 100 home runs in baseball history.

    He also gained notoriety as the first MLB player ever to hit 100 home runs before hitting 100 singles. (major reason: Gallo sees a shift on 96 percent of his plate appearances, more than any other hitter in baseball)

    Unfortunately, this bit of double-edged news distorts the player that Joey Gallo is fast becoming in 2019. At this writing, ( May 24), he is hitting .293 with 15 home runs and 35 RBI's as the season nears the 1/3rd mark..  It is getting much harder to recognize the classic whiff or whack, three true outcomes Joey Gallo of yesteryear, replaced instead by a player possessing a tantalizing twist of true  all-around greatness.

     Last season, Gallo chased 26.7% of fastballs outside the strike zone. This season, that number is just 11.9%, the 4th lowest in baseball, right behind Mike Trout at 11.4%. His walk rate is up from 12.8% to 19.1% this year, the largest jump in baseball.  When measuring fastballs inside the zone, Gallo is slugging (OPS) 1,02l%, the best in all of major league baseball.

    Suddenly, in just his 4th season, Joey Gallo's name is popping up in unexpected places on the statistical charts along with positions on the playing field.  At present, the 6'5, 250 pound Gallo, a converted infielder,  is patrolling center-field for the Rangers.

     Once groomed as the heir to Adrian Beltre at 3rd base, he now resembles a new Josh Hamilton in the outer pastures of Arlington.  STATCAST shows Gallo with the 2nd best OF arm in baseball. In the Rangers last game, Gallo gunned down Kolten Wong of the Cardinals at third base with a 97 mph throw from CF.  It was his 6th outfield assist of the young season.  Gallo was once clocked as a high school pitcher in Nevada at nearly 100 mph.

     You are right to wonder what a player of Gallo's girth is doing in center field.  Make no mistake, Joey Gallo can run.  On the present Rangers roster, perhaps only the speedy Delino DeShields may be faster going from 1st to 3rd. Gallo is a perfect 3 for 3 in stolen bases this season. Check out the picture accompanying this story to witness the running form of Gallo in full flight as he circles the bases in 2017 on an inside-the-park home run against Toronto.

     With a walk rate second in baseball only to Mike Trout, it is fascinating to conceive of the time to come when Gallo begins to steal more bases.  When that happens, it will surely mark the day  Gallo will be universally recognized for what he is now becoming, the best player in the game!

     Til then, we are left with that majestic upper-cut swing that approaches a profound religious experience. Left,also,with watching baseballs vanish with the height and hang-time of a rocket-ride while being disfigured by an average exit velocity of 99.1 mph!

     If you play fantasy baseball, approach Gallo's owner in your league right now and cough up whatever you can to acquire him while there is yet time.

     I hear the train a comin'...can you?

Bye-bye baseball. Gallo has the top exit velocity and hard hit rate in baseball


Thursday, May 16, 2019

Portland's Not Getting Baseball

By Steven Weldon

I have never wanted to be wrong more.

I love baseball, I love the MLB, and I love the city of Portland. It's time to get real though.

We're not going to get a baseball team, let alone a new stadium for one.

In the past few years, there's been a slight fever pitch created by the Portland Diamond Project, pushing to bring Major League Baseball to Portland. There are significant backers to the project, getting a team to Portland and building their cathedral. But is it enough?

We've seen the big names, Russell Wilson and his wife Ciara, Portland broadcasting legend Mike Barrett, former Nike executive Craig Cheek. What we haven't seen is a solidified ownership group. Yes, it takes millions upon billions to even undertake the possibility to own a sports franchise. It takes a lot of time to gather that much money for what is reasonably considered a net-loss in the bank account.

Without someone putting real pressure on a league with their opportunity, re: money, they can't capitalize on a new market.

I first became worried about the MLB 2 PDX movement going awry when I read that the Portland Diamond Project set their goal for 2023 as opening day.

That's four years away. Both a lot and not a lot can happen in four years; as there have been multiple franchises who have up and left cities in the middle of the night, as well as franchises taking three years to move. Both those franchises, the Indianapolis Colts, and the Brooklyn Nets had stadiums already pre-built or billionaires looking to expand in the largest market in America.

The last baseball team to up and move cities was the Washington Nationals in 2005, moving from Montreal, where attendance was dismal, the stadium dilapidated and the interest waning. Portland was in the running then, mentioned many times as the largest media market in America without a major league baseball team. The main problem in that time period was similar to our current problem, a lack of big money backers and no stadium ready to go.

If a team is going to relocate, they need answers fast. They don't want to move if they don't have a shiny new park ready to go, in fact, they can't move unless they have a stadium ready to go, and the city of Portland no longer has a 30,000 seat baseball facility.

This leads me to the most recent issue I have seen related to the Portland Diamond Project.

They've gotta pay up some money for the negotiating rights for the property they want.

Terminal 2 is located in an industrial area of northwest Portland, and in order to get the land, they've gotta make sure they can pay money so that they can talk about even having the land. The first payment of $375,000 is due by the end of May. After that, it will be $125,000 every three months until the end of the year, and then the payment jumps to $187,000 for the subsequent three months after, continuing on.

You think Russell, Ciara, Mike and Craig, as well as their friends, have that kind of money laying around? If they did, they would have likely taken care of it a lot faster.

Closely related to this, in the situation the Diamond Project does pay up, the Port of Portland will look to create a new area for a terminal. In this day and age of pushback, this could also be a large hurdle. In addition, the area they're looking for development is not a heavy traffic area at this time and does not have a MAX service along with consistent bus service. That can always change; but is light rail still what we want to pursue in moving people?

Speaking of terminals, I am going to bring up my final point.

Oakland is making moves.

On May 14th, the Oakland Athletics and Port of Oakland officials agreed on a term sheet in which the A's would build a stadium in Jack London Square on Howard Terminal in the bay, with a 66-year lease, and $3.8 million due every year for the first 20 years.

In addition to this, the A's opened their plans to repurpose the Oakland Coliseum site, which is also losing its other main tenant; the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors are moving to the Chase Center in downtown San Francisco starting in 2019-2020 season, leaving their 53-year-old stadium behind.

It's a huge step, as the Oakland Athletics brass has pushed the 'Rooted In Oakland' campaign, attempting many ideas across the east bay for the last five years. The A's have recently done much better about getting fans in the seats and increasing interest with a special general admission season ticket plan, making sweeping changes to their stadium experience by adding new areas to the old Oakland Coliseum, and winning games.

They have to, soon they'll be the only professional team left in Oakland.

The goal for the ballpark opening?


I've left one team out, and that is only because there's VERY little information on their plans. The Tampa Bay Rays are a talented team that's been to a World Series within the last 15 years; but also draws awful attendance to an awful domed stadium.

Could the Rays move? Yes. Will they move across the country and redraw new boundaries? Not likely.

Is expansion still on the table? Not without an owner or a stadium.

I want to be wrong. I want to be there, opening day, cheering on the Portland baseball team.

Sadly, it will end up like the last effort - falling apart because a billionaire isn't ready to commit to a one-horse town.

Monday, May 13, 2019

'Jackets Pile On In Portland-Head To NCAA D-II Championships

by Harry Cummins

    Riding the crest of a school record 11 game winning streak, including a convincing 3 game sweep of the GNAC Championships in Portland, Oregon this past weekend, the Montana State Billings Yellowjackets will now face the Point Loma Nazarene Sea Lions in the opening round of the NCAA D-2 West Region Baseball Championships this Thursday in La Jolla, California.

     Montana State Billings (33-18) is one of 6 teams competing in the West regional, which is divided into a pair of 3 team double-elimination tournaments.  The winners of  West Regional No. 1 and West Regional No. 2 will then play in a best of three series the following week at the Super Regionals hoping to garner a spot in the NCAA D-II College World Series in Cary, North Carolina.

     Along with Montana State Billings and Pt Loma Nazarene (30-19), the 3rd team in the West Regional No 2 is the host school UC San Diego (35-12).  Azusa Pacific (36-13) earned hosting rights for the West No 1 bracket, which will include Cal St. Monterey Bay(35-21) and Cal Poly Pomona(29-26)

     Despite dropping their first 11 games to open the 2019 season, The Yellowjackets regrouped and defeated Saint Martin's University 8-5 this past weekend on the campus of Concordia University to capture the double-elimination GNAC tournament, along their first ever NCAA DII West Region Championship berth.  At 33-18, MSUB ties the school record for most wins in a single season. By winning their last 11 consecutive games, they are on a current 33-7 tear.

    The 'Jackets are paced by GNAC Player-of-the-Year Daniel Cipriano, who is hitting .400 with 17 HR's and 51 RBI's.  On the pitching side, Steen Fredrickson (7-1) and Jarrod Molnaa (8-2) lead the way, with a combined 164 strikeouts in 152 innings pitched.  Also heating up at the right time is second baseman Conner Linebarger, who went 6 for 10 in the GNAC tournament in Portland, with 2 home runs, two triples, and 7 RBI's.  He was named the tourney MVP as a reward for his heroics.

     MSUB enters the West Regional as the 4th best home run hitting team in NCAA D-2.  They have connected on 82 long balls in 51 games this season, led by the 17 of Cipriano.   Although Cipriano did not hit a home run in the 3 games played in Portland, he saved the exciting 8-5 Championship win with his defensive work at first base.

     Saint Martin's scored 4 runs in the last of the 8th inning to cut a 7-1 deficit to 7-5 and had a runner on first with no outs.  Cipriano leaped high to glove a line drive headed for the right field corner that would likely have scored the runner from first and put the tying run at second with no outs.  A batter later, Cipriano raced into short right field to make an over the shoulder catch to end the inning. For good measure, he drove in an insurance run in the 9th with a one-hop smash double off the face of Saints RF Austin Feist, who was forced to leave the game after the attempted diving catch.

     Just an inning earlier, Feist had belted a long 3-run home run over the left field fence, his second 3 run blast in two days for St Martin's.  It was a great 3 days of baseball, played under ideal weather conditions.  Sadly,outside of family and friends, attendance was sparse as lack of event publicity by a local media understandably consumed by "Blazer-mania" likely short-changed more fans from witnessing high quality NCAA D-2 baseball in Portland.

     Montana State Billings has the essential components for a strong post-season run.  The quest continues in beautiful La Jolla, California starting Thursday night.

*** Augustana (South Dakota) is the defending NCAA D-2 champion and the current No 1 seed in the Central Region entering post-season play.  Colorado Mesa (45-9) is the nation's No 1 ranked team in the newest NCAA D-2 poll released by Collegiate Baseball.


Sunday, May 12, 2019

Stadiums and Arenas

By Gregory Crawford @wchoops
Do you have a favorite ballpark? In two recent surveys of what is your favorite MLB ballpark, PNC Park, home of Pirates came out number one. Your thoughts?

Game 7s, Often Are Bust

By Gregory Crawford @wchoops
Two game 7s today in the NBA, Philadelphia at Toronto and Portland at Denver. Many times over the years game 7s in the NBA are a bust. Today I see it differently, so here are my final scores.

Philadelphia 95 Toronto 97
Portland 100 Denver 99

All are striving for this.

Happy Mother’s Day From Craw’s Corner

By Gregory Crawford @wchoops

Happy Mother’s Day from Craw’s Corner. This year $25 billion will be spent on this day anywhere from flowers, cards and/or dinners and beyond. How did you spend Mother’s Day and I so miss my Mother every single day.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

NHL Western Conference Finals preview

Down to the Final 4

St Louis/San Jose

Each team survived a game 7 at home to get to this point.  San Jose looking to get to their first Stanley Cup final since 2016 while the St Louis Blues are looking for their first Stanley Cup final appearance since 1970. Neither team has won a Stanley Cup in their team's history.

St Louis positives

It all starts in net for St Louis as Jordan Binnington continues to star posting a 2.39 GAA with a .915 save percentage.  His numbers are not earth shattering but he continues to make key saves in big moments and did not give up a 3rd period goal in his last 4 games.  7 of the 8 Blues wins in the playoffs have been by a single goal and Binnington has been huge in preserving those victories.

Jaden Schwartz has come alive in the playoffs with 8 goals after only scoring 11 goals during the regular season.  15 different Blues have scored goals in the playoffs and they have gotten good contributions from 3rd & 4th liners like Patrick Maroon, Tyler Bozak, and Oscar Sundqvist.

The Sharks will have home ice but the Blues are 5-1 on the road for the playoffs.

St Louis Negatives

They played two teams to start the playoffs in the Nashville Predators and Dallas Stars who lean more to a defensive style and now will be facing a San Jose Sharks who are much more prolific offensively and are leading all playoff teams in goals scored with 43.

Neither the Blues power play 17.1% nor their penalty killing 75% has been great during the playoffs.

They will need more scoring from Vladimir Tarasenko who has scored only 1 goal in his last 6 games with no assists and has disappeared in stretches.

San Jose positives

The Sharks have scored the most goals in the playoffs with 43 and Logan Couture and Thomas Hertl have scored 9 each.  On defense Erik Burns is tied for the most points in the playoffs with 5 goals and 9 assists and even though Erik Karlsson has not scored a goal he does have 12 assists.

Getting Joe Pavelski back from his ugly game 7 injury against Vegas paid huge dividends in game 7 against Colorado as he scored the 1st goal on a beautiful tip in and is good to go in the St Louis series.  Pavelski scored 38 goals during the regular season.

The Blues are 5-1 on the road for playoffs but the Sharks are 6-2 at home during the playoffs and had one of the best home records during the regular season.

San Jose negatives
Even though Martin Jones was sharper in the Colorado series he is still a question mark and has given up the most goals in the playoffs with 36.  The Blues with Binnington have a decided edge in goal.

5 on 5 the Sharks have had several defensive lapses and have given up plenty of quality chances and can't afford the same number of mistakes in their own end.


This should be another long series and I think this one will go the distance.  I will go with San Jose to win in 7 as I think they will have enough firepower to outlast the Blues

Sharks in 7 games

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Kentucky Derby commentary/NHL Eastern Conference Final Preview

Before I preview the Eastern Conference Finals for the NHL some thoughts on the controversial ending to the Kentucky Derby.  The first ever disqualification of Kentucky Derby winner Maximum Security elicited an avalanche of opinions on whether the decision was correct.  Trainer Bob Baffert and long time horse writer Andrew Beyer were some of the bigger voices stating the disqualification was wrong while many of the top horse racing writers like Mike Watchmaker thought the disqualification was 100% correct.  As someone who follows horse racing pretty closely I agreed with the disqualification.  Anytime a horse moves into the path of another horse and impedes his progress it is grounds for a DQ.  Maximum Security impeded War of Will who then impeded Long Range Toddy.  The decision neither helped or hurt my cause as I never used Country House in any of my tickets but it did cost people a lot of money who had Maximum Security who was one of the favorites.  Some fair questions to ask though is why was there no inquiry sign?  Haven't there been other Kentucky Derby's where horses have been bumped badly or impeded?  Why did the decision take over 20 minutes?  Didn't the media or general public deserve a better explanation or more transparency from the stewards?  I don't care if it is a Maiden Claiming race for $7500.00 at Emerald Downs or the Kentucky Derby the same rules have to be applied and they were applied correctly.  Sorry if you ended up losing money but as a veteran horse bettor I have lost many bets on disqualifications with some in my book being unfair.  If you didn't like the decision my advice is learn more about the horse racing game by watching TVG or go bet the greyhounds.   And if you are in Solana Beach in August I will be at Del Mar enjoying the sun and racing during Pacific Classic week hoping to cash a lot of tickets. 

Now onto the NHL playoffs


The Carolina Hurricanes have had an amazing run as the 2nd wild card team in the Eastern Conference knocking off the defending Stanley Cup Champion Washington Capitols with a game 7 OT win on the road and sweeping the NY Islanders in round two.  The "Bunch of Jerks" have relied on solid goaltending from both Petr Mrazek and Curtis McElhinney, their scoring depth, and staying perfect at home in the playoffs at 5-0.  The Bruins had to go seven games in the 1st round to defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs and fought off a very pesky Columbus Blue Jackets squad to win that series in 6 games.  What you have seen from the Bruins in the playoffs is what you saw in the regular season which is consistency in all three phases.  Tuukka Rask in goal has not had a bad game in the playoffs and pitched the shutout in game 6 to close out Columbus.  The usual suspects on offense Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, David Krejci, and Patrice Bergeron have combined for 20 goals and 22 assists.

Positives for Carolina

When starting goalie Petr Mrazek went down with an injury during the NY Islanders series Curtis McElhinney stepped in and played brilliantly.  McElhinney won all 3 games he appeared in only giving up 4 goals while Mrazek was solid with a 2.22 GAA and .913 save percentage.  Mrazek is practicing and might be able to go in game 1 but if he can't the Canes have plenty of confidence in McElhinney who performed well in the back up role during the regular season.

Offensively Teuvo Teravainen has emerged in the playoffs with 6 goals and Warren Foegele who only had 10 goals during the regular season has scored 5 in the playoffs.  Jacob Slavin is the 2nd leading scorer for defensemen in the playoffs with 11 assists and Dougie Hamilton has chipped in 3 goals with 4 assists from the blue line. Also having battled tested veterans like Justin Williams and Jordan Staal for scoring and leadership have been huge as well. Sebastian Aho, Nino Neiderreiter, and Andrei Svechnikov all are capable of getting hot in the series and scoring multiple goals.

Negatives for Carolina

Sometimes even having a a small break can kill a teams momentum.  It will be 6 days since the Hurricanes wrapped up their series against the Islanders and we saw the NY Islanders who had a 10 day break for their 2nd round series get swept and the Columbus Blue Jackets who had a 9 day break lost their series to the Bruins. 

The power play has been anemic in the playoffs only scoring at a 10.2% clip and the penalty kill hasn't been much better only killing off 75% of their opponents power plays. 

If Mrazek can't go can McElhinney duplicate his performance in round 2?  They will be facing a much more prolific offense unlike a NY Islanders team who struggled to score the entire season.

Positives for Boston

Goaltender Tuukaa Rask has been played every minute of every playoff game and has posted a 2.02 GAA and .938 save percentage.

Besides the production you expect from Marchand, Pastrnak, Krejci, and Bergeron, Charlie Coyle who was acquired from the Minnesota Wild in February has emerged with 5 goals in the playoffs after only scoring 12 goals during the regular season.

The Bruins have the #1 rated power play in the playoffs converting at a 28.6% clip and 2nd best percentage of shots per game at 35.7 per game.

Negatives for Boston

Defenseman Charlie McAvoy is suspended for game 1.  He has led the Bruins in the playoffs with time on ice with close to 25 minutes per game and is 2nd for the Bruins in plus/minus at +8. 

The Bruins have already played 13 playoff games and with the number of veterans that the Bruins have it could take a toll down the road as they will be playing a younger and fresher team in the Hurricanes.


The Carolina Hurricanes have a lot of momentum going into the Eastern Conference finals as they have won 5 in a row including a sweep in the 2nd round of the NY Islanders in the 2nd round.  But the Boston Bruins are consistent and don't beat themselves.  The Bruins will be playing in the Stanley Cup finals

Bruins in 6 games

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Expanding Craw’s Corner Contributors

By Gregory Crawford @wchoops

True transparency here at Craw’s Corner. A constant comment from our valued readership, “ we love your stories, but it is a hard blog to follow, cause there is not consistent and constant content.”

Couldn’t agree more as the editor and owner of this blog. So here is where we need some help. If you would like to become a contributor, please contact me at


NBA—- Covering NBA top to bottom

MLB—- Covering Major League Baseball top to bottom.

MLS—- Covering Major League Soccer, top to bottom

NHL— Hermo Strong ( aka Scott Hermo does it great)

NFL—- Steve Weldon does a great job

NCAA Basketball—- Yours truly come fall will put a heavy emphasis on Pac 12 and Big East

College Football—- We need contributor top to bottom.

Golf— Yours truly could use help here


Our base is in Northwest, so we will be covering NWAC basketball and all sports at Portland State, U of Portland, Warner Pacific and Multnomah University. Help is needed covering all these schools.

Finally, even if you feel you can’t write, but have a passion for sports please contact me. Thanks, Gregory Crawford

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Micah 10.21 - 'Thou Shalt Not Tarry'

Oregon Prep Sprinter Blasts to 100m Record

by Harry Cummins

(Nike Jesuit Twilight Relays)   On an note-perfect May evening in Portland, Oregon, 17 year-old Micah Williams rocketed his way into the state and national record books while providing a prophetic look into the future of U.S. sprinting in the process.

     Williams clocked a wind legal and personal best time of 10.21 seconds for 100 meters to shatter the 8 year-old Oregon state record (10.35) held by Thomas Tyner of Aloha High School.

    Williams mark lowered his previous best time of 10.36, and is now the fastest prep 100 meters run in the United States this year.  It is also the 3rd fastest time ever run by a high school junior in track and field history and the fastest ever recorded on the West Coast.  The Benson High School sprinter shattered the previous West Coast mark of 10.25, posted by Henry Thomas in California 34 years ago.

     Luckily,Williams' record setting dash came between brief wind gusts that would have likely negated any legal marks. It now stands as the fastest wind-legal 100m prep time in the nation this season, .01 faster than Matthew Boling of Texas, who set the track world buzzing with his wind-aided 9.98 clocking last week, the fastest ever recorded by a high school runner under any conditions.

     Williams now owns both the Oregon 100 and 200 meter all-time records, having run 21.03 in winning the 200m last month at the Arcadia Invitational.  He adds to his impressive resume, which includes anchoring the United States 4x100 relay to the gold medal in the World Under-20 Track and Field Championships last year in Finland.

     Nearly lost in the excitement over Williams headline grabbing night, was the performance of Nathan Green in the Boys Elite Mile.  Green, just a high school sophomore from Borah, Idaho, ran the fastest prep outdoor mile in the nation so far this season with a 4:07.84 clocking.

     This night, however, belonged to the Book of Micah, chapter and verse.



Thursday, May 2, 2019

Kentucky Derby preview

The big news before the Kentucky Derby is Omaha Beach, who was the morning line favorite, was scratched and will not run in the race.  You feel bad for the connections and especially for veteran trainer Richard Mandella who has never won a Kentucky Derby.

Also the weather forecast for Saturday is 100% chance of rain so in all likelihood we will have a sloppy track which definitely changes the handicapping picture

Here is my preview

#1 War of Will  The dreaded #1 gate and you know it is bad when trainer Mark Casse put his head in his hands when assigned that post position.  Was the favorite in the Louisiana Derby but threw in a clunker finishing 9th after previous impressive performances winning the Grade 2 Risen Star and Grade 3 LeCompte.  Good tactical speed but per being on the rail will have to gun early and find racing room to have any chance.  One big positive is he did win as a 2 year old on his first dirt race at Churchill Downs at 1 1/16 on a sloppy track on 11/24/2018.  I think you can toss his Louisiana Derby race but can't recommend this horse with his post position. Pass.

#2 Tax  This hard trying horse has never finished out of the money in 5 career starts and battled Wood Memorial winner Tacitus all the way until the wire before getting outkicked losing by just over a length. In his last 3 stakes races all at Aqueduct he put up decent Beyer speed figures in the Grade 2 Remsen 93, Grade 3 Withers 96, and Grade 2 Wood Memorial 95.  The negatives are his tough post position on the far inside, never having run on an off track, and questions if this horse can get the 1 1/4 distance.  Will have to get out early and find racing room per almost all of the early speed is on the inside. Like War of Will I would like this horse a little more with a different post position but can't recommend him in this spot. Pass.

#3 By My Standards  The so called wise guy horse and maybe the horse who has looked the best in his pre-race works at Churchill.  Impressive win in the Louisiana Derby coming from behind with a huge inside move to run down fellow Kentucky Derby entrant Spinoff at 22-1 posting a 97 Beyer.  Will likely sit off the pace and grab the rail with all of the early speed on the inside.  He has run at Churchill on a sloppy track as a 2 year old finishing 2nd in his first career start on 11/24/2018 coming from behind in to get the place.  His sire Goldencents ran in the Kentucky Derby 2013 fading badly to finish seventeenth and not a ton of success for Louisiana horses in the Kentucky Derby of late.  Will use him in exotics. 

#4 Gray Magician  Finished 2nd in the Grade 2 UAE Derby in Dubai behind fellow Kentucky Derby entrant  Plus Que Parfait.  Not impressive overall numbers and his highest Beyer running the in the United States is an 80. He is facing much more superior competition in the Derby, the Dubai horses have not run well at the Derby, has not hit the board in any Stakes races in the United States, and in his only off track race was well beaten at Santa Anita in an optional claiming race.  Pass.

#5 Improbable  Finished 2nd by a length on a sloppy track in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby to pre-Derby favorite Omaha Beach.  In his previous start he got caught at the wire in the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes by fellow Kentucky Derby entrant Long Range Toddy.  He ran a 99 Beyer in the Arkansas Derby and a 95 in the Rebel.  He won his three previous races including the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Futurity and is one of three horses trained by Bob Baffert.  He is a very talented horse and he has one of the highest Tomlinson rankings which measures the ability of a horse on a wet track.  Major Contender.

#6 Vekoma  A hard trying horse with a somewhat awkward running style he won the Grade 2 Bluegrass Stakes with a 94 Beyer drawing away with a nice rail trip.  He has only 4 career starts but has won 3 of them and has run no worse than an 87 Beyer speed figure.  The question with Vekoma is can this horse get the distance and did he benefit from the usual Keeneland conveyor belt speed bias in winning the Bluegrass.  Vekoma has the best Tomlinson ranking out of all of the Kentucky Derby entrants and could benefit hugely with an off track.  Will use him in exotics.

#7 Maximum Security  In my opinion the biggest wild card of all the entrants.  Could win the race or finish 15th or worse.  Is perfect on the year winning all 4 races including going wire to wire in the Grade 1 Florida Derby.  He has run back to back triple digit Beyers with a 101 in the Florida Derby and a 102 in his previous race at Gulfstream Park.  He won the Florida Derby with extremely slow fractions and usually in the Derby you will have plenty of horses up front pushing the pace.  He has won on an off track and could duplicate what War Emblem did in the 2001 Kentucky Derby going wire to wire.  He should be on the lead going into the 1st turn but his fate will be determined by the early fractions.  Will use him in exotics.

#8 Tacitus  #1 horse in total points in qualifying for the Kentucky Derby.  Won both the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby with a 93 Beyer and winning the Grade 2 Wood Memorial with a 97 Beyer.  Great connections with the sire being Tapit, trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott who was the youngest trainer ever to be inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame, and ridden by jockey Jose Ortiz.  Very battle tested, overcame a rough trip in the Wood Memorial to run down Tax, and you have to like both of his stretch runs to win his last two races.  Won his only race on an off track at Aqueduct as a 2 year old so the off track should not be an issue.  Major Contender.

#9 Plus Que Parfait  Winner of the Grade 2 UAE Derby in Dubai.  To many question marks with this horse to consider. Just like Gray Magician the Dubai horses have had no success running in the Kentucky Derby, he was well beaten in his stateside races finishing 13th in the Grade 2 Risen Star and 5th in the Grade 3 LeCompte.  His highest Beyer stateside has only been an 84.  The one positive you can find is finishing 2nd at Churchill Downs on 11/24/2018 on a sloppy track in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club.  Don't think he has enough quality to run with the competition he is going to face.  Pass.

#10 Cutting Humor  Winner of the Grade 3 Sunland Derby.  Some positives for this horse is the nice move he made in the stretch to win the Sunland Derby, his 95 Beyer he earned, and is trained by Todd Pletcher.   He has decent showings on an off track and and if he can stay away from trouble he can get the distance and is a sneaky long shot.  The negatives would be his disastrous 7th place finish in the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes in his previous race and a possible career effort in the Sunland Derby and a bounce back to lesser form.  Probably not your winner but worth a shot in exotics as a price horse.

#11 Haikal  A solid resume with 3 wins and never finishing out of the money this horse is the biggest closer in the field and will be coming from way back if he wants to win.  Won the Grade 2 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct with a huge stretch finish running down 3 horses while taking advantage of a hot pace.  In the Grade 2 Wood Memorial finished a well beaten 3rd to Tax and Tacitus with another closing kick to get 3rd.  Will need a hot pace and even with his closing kick not sure if the distance is right.  Has run twice on off tracks winning once and finishing 2nd.  A decent long shot pick and a good horse to include in your exotics

#12 Omaha Beach  SCRATCHED

#13 Code Of Honor  A lot of things to like about this horse.  In his stakes races he ran 2nd in the Grade 1 Champaign at Belmont Park with a 90 Beyer, won the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park with a 95 Beyer and finished 3rd in the Grade 1 Florida Derby with a 91 Beyer.  Great connections with Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey and jockey John Velazquez who has won multiple Kentucky Derby's including 2017 with Always Dreaming.  One negative is he has not run on an off track and questions if he has the pedigree to get the distance. Will be sitting back and hoping for a hot pace to have a chance.  Will be using in exotics.

#14 Win Win Win  Another closer who will be hoping for a hot pace.  Finished 3rd in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby and finished 2nd in the Grade 2 Bluegrass Stakes.  Not impressive Beyers in those 2 races with an 89 in the Tampa Bay Derby and and 88 in the Bluegrass and was well beaten in both races.  He did run on late and closed well in both of those races and maybe the extra distance will help him. He has a history of finding trouble and will need a lot of racing luck to have a chance.  Had a decent effort finishing 2nd in his only off track race. Will be using in exotics.

#15 Master Fencer  Arguably the biggest longshot in the race coming from Japan. Not even the best horse from Japan and probably not fast enough to be any type of factor.  Pass.

#16 Game Winner  You have to like everything about this horse with great connections being trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by Joel Rosario, the bloodlines from Candy Ride and A.P. Indy, and racing resume with 4 wins and 2 second place finishes competing in 4 Grade 1 races and 1 Grade 2.  Won at a 1 1/16 at Churchill Downs as a 2 year old in the Breeders Cup Juvenile, finished 2nd in the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes losing to Omaha Beach, and finished 2nd in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby losing to Kentucky Derby entrant Roadster.  All of his Beyers in his last 5 races have been in the 90's and has worked well in Kentucky. He has the 2nd highest Tomlinson rating even with no races on an off track so it actually might benefit him.  The only question mark is having to break from the far outside.  Major contender

#17 Roadster  Since having throat surgery has won his last 2 races including the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby outdueling Game Winner in the stretch.  Mike Smith who rode Roadster in the Santa Anita Derby decided to take the mount on Omaha Beach so Florent Giroux will be in the irons for the Kentucky Derby.  Another in the Bob Baffert  barn who has been lightly raced but has been improving each race and might be peaking at the right time.  The negatives for Roadster would be not having run on an off track, a far outside post position, and not having a veteran multiple Kentucky Derby winning jockey like Smith.  Major contender.

#18 Long Range Toddy  Plenty of positives with one of the best trainers in the business in Steve Asmussen, won the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes running down Kentucky Derby entrant Improbable down the stretch, and finishing a solid 3rd in the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes only 2 lengths off the leaders.  He has finished in the money in 6 out of his 8 starts and has arguably faced the best competition in his prep races in Arkansas. The big negative is his last race in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby where he finished a well beaten 6th flattening out in the stretch on a sloppy track.  With rain in the forecast and and starting on the far outside I don't see him being a factor. Pass.

#19 Spinoff  Lightly raced from the Todd Pletcher barn finished 2nd in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby.  Talented horse and ran a 95 Beyer in the Louisiana Derby but a bit of a mystery per only have run 2 races since August 12th.  A big negative drawing on the far outside and will probably have to gun from the outside to avoid trouble.  Only would use underneath in exotics.

#20 Country House  Another Bill Mott trainee who should like the distance and has raced against good competition in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby, Grade 2 Louisiana Derby, and Grade 2 Risen Star.  Unfortunately finished 6 lengths off the lead in the Arkansas Derby and Louisiana Derby and was a well beaten 2nd in the Risen Star.  A good closer who might like the distance but extremely tough drawing from that far outside and will probably be to far back to make a serious run.  Pass.

#21 Bodexpress  Made it into the field with the scratch of Omaha Beach.  Pretty tough to expect anything with a horse who still has not won a race and is starting from the far outside.  Ran well as a 70-1 shot in the Florida Derby finishing second to Maximum Security but on a sloppy track in a Maiden Special Weight race in January at Gulfstream Park finished 18 lengths out.  Pass.

My betting strategy every year for the Kentucky Derby is toss 10 horses and exacta box the other 10.  So here will be my combinations for a $2 exacta for $180.


My Derby history in the last 10 years

2018 WON exacta $69.80, overall loss -$110.20
2017 WON exacta $336.20 profit +$156.20
2016 WON exacta $30.80 overall loss -$149.20
2015 WON exacta $72.60 overall loss -$107.40
2014 WON exacta $340.00 profit +$160.00
2013 WON exacta $981.60 profit +$801.60
2012 LOSS  -$180.00
2011 WON exacta $329.80 profit +149.80
2010 WON exacta $152.40 overall loss -$27.60
2009  LOSS -$180.00

Overall profit of $513.20