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Experience makes a difference
And what a difference three inches make.
Good morning, all. I hope you are doing well. Please pray for peace.
It was quite a weekend for sports. Saturday, in particular, offered a smorgasbord of games, from March Madness to college and pro hockey to golf and exhibition baseball. I was mostly focused on the hockey and golf, while tuning in and out to the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
The Hockey East title game between UMass and UConn was intriguing. Here was UMass, defending NCAA national champs, battling the upstart UConn Huskies, skating in their first Hockey East final. The Huskies needed to win in order to qualify for the NCAA Tournament. An at large bid was not awaiting them. Had UMass lost, the defending Hockey East champs would still have received an at large bid. That said, the Minutemen, down 1-0, rallied for a 2-1 victoy in overtime. It was a thrilling match.
UMass is a fun team to watch, led by their captain, Bobby Trivigno. He will be some player in the NHL.
Something UMass coach Greg Carvel said after his team’s win should resonate with every upstart team. You do have to crawl, before you walk and the Minutemen’s playoff experience was key to the comeback.
“I learned our first time at the Frozen Four how important experience is and we now have a lot of experience in these games. You’ve got to lose before you win. We lost in 2019 and we learned a lot from that,” Carvel was quoted as saying in the Boston Globe.
UConn will learn from it successful season. Meanwhile, I look forward to a great rivalry developing between these two state schools, whose main campuses are separated by a state boundary and less than 50 miles.
And then there’s the NHL
After the Hockey East title game, it was on to the conclusion of the New York Rangers-Tampa Bay Lightening game. Tampa Bay is the cream of the NHL crop, under coach Jon Cooper. Named the team’s ninth head coach on Mar. 25, 2013, all Cooper has done is win. His Bolts are reigning back-to-back Stanley Cup champions.
Saturday’s game had the intensity of a playoff contest. The Rangers are an up-and-coming team and won the thriller, 2-1, on Mika Zibanejad’s goal with 16 seconds left in regulation, as New York swept the season series in three games.
Kudos to the Rangers. After an exhausting battle on Saturday, they headed to Carolina and beat an equally tough Hurricanes team, 1-0, on Sunday night.
And while we are at it, do not rule out the Boston Bruins, who have been playing outstanding hockey. Entering last night’s game at Montreal, the B’s were 11-2-1 in their last 14 games. Over the weekend, they added defenseman Hampus Lindholm from Anaheim. Boston paid a hefty price, giving up this year’s first round draft pick, second-round picks in 2023 and 2024 and two players, defensemen Urho Vaakanainen and John Moore. GM Don Sweeney then wasted little time, signing Lindholm, who would have been a free agent at season’s end, to an eight-year, $52 million contract extension.
Lindholm will be paired with Charles McAvoy on Boston’s first defensive line. His acquisition helps to include the playoff-bound Bruins in the conversation for Stanley Cup finalists.
Safe by inches
Now that MLB and the MLBPA have a new working agreement, look for several rules changes down the road. At the MLB level the only change in 2022 will be use of the DH in both leagues. However, minor league baseball will serve as the incubator for several rules changes that could come MLB’s way in 2023 and beyond. One of those will be the use of larger bases.
Currently, bases are 15 inches square, but they will be 18 inches square at all levels of minor league play this season. How big a difference will that make? Here is a picture, tweeted out by the Brooklyn Cyclones, a New York Mets affiliate.
It is hoped the larger bases will cut down on collisons and increase stolen base attempts. We shall see.
Well that is it for this week. As always, thank you for your support and be safe.