Nothing like playoff hockey
Hunter Stovall has quite a story to tell
Good morning, all. I hope you are well.
It has been four weeks since I last issued a newsletter. I took a break for some R&R, then returned to a full slate of baseball broadcasts. It is great to be back writing again, however.
Nothing like playoff hockey
When it comes to the post season in major league sports, there is nothing like the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs. One play or one intense stretch of play might highlight an NFL, MLB or NBA playoff game, but for shear, uninterupted intensity, nothing rivals the NHL, in my book.
That said, Sunday night’s first round final between the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins was as gripping a deciding game as one could imagine. Various social media posts indicated Madison Square Garden shook throughout the night anytime the Rangers did something dramatic. When Artemi Panarin’s game-winning goal in overtime gave New York a scintillating 4-3 victory, watching the Garden erupt was quite the picture on TV.
As the two sides shook hands on the ice after such an intensely played series - an NHL custom - I thought what a rare but welcomed site that is. I cannot wait for the second round to begin.
As for the Rangers, they will need every ounce they gave Pittsburgh and then some to overtake the Carolina Hurricanes. The two sides begin their best-of-seven series on Wednesday night, with Carolina, the former Hartford Whalers, serving as the home team.
I can tell you, by the way, that the Whalers’ following in greater Hartford remains loyal, after all these years. The Whale left Hartford after the 1997 season. In the pressbox, during Saturday’s Hartford Yard Goats-Portland Sea Dogs baseball game, there was much attention being directed to Game Seven between the Hurricanes and Boston Bruins. After 25 years, any time the Hurricanes do well - and they won a Stanley Cup, after leaving Hartford - there is always the regret of what might have been.
Hunter Stovall is quite the story
Many of you, I am sure, have never heard of Hunter Stovall. He is a utility infielder for the Yard Goats - AA affiliate of the Colorado Rockies. Stovall, 25, has quite a story to tell. On Sep. 5, 1996, Stovall was born dead, seven weeks premature. He was declared dead by doctors, who told his parents he had “flatlined,” as Stovall tells it. But someone at the hospital in Birmingham, AL thought otherwise, and Stovall was revived.
In a very unassuming way, Stovall is willing to talk about the story and his unabiding Christian faith, that has motivated him to pursue several, charitible causes. But what he really loves talking about is how much he enjoys playing baseball, no matter the position.
Hurdle and Helton
One of the many enjoyable aspects of broadcasting Yard Goats games with the “Voice of the Yard Goats” Jeff Dooley, is meeting former baseball players and managers who now serve as instructors, advisors and scouts. And so it was last week, that I had the chance to cross paths with Clint Hurdle and Todd Helton, special assistans to Rockies GM Bill Schmidt.
Hurdle is the only man to manage the Colorado Rockies to a pennant, winning the NL crown in 2007. In 2013 he was named NL Manager of the Year, for his performance as Pittsburgh Pirates’ manager. Long time baseball fans may remember him as a “phenom” with the Kansas City Royals, who made the cover of Sports Illustrated at the age of 20. He told me he still gets one or two of those SI covers a month from people, requesting an autograph. Incidentally, Hurdle belongs to a rare club of those having played (Kansas City), coached (Texas) and managed (Colorado) in a World Series. He likes to joke how he finished second in each of those endeavors.
Helton is a wealth of baseball knowledge, who may someday make the Hall of Fame with his credentials as a first baseman with Colorado.
Well that is it for this week’s newsletter. Be well and stay safe.