2010

Cleveland Cavaliers return to top of NBA’s Eastern Conference

So much changes over the course of eight years. Just ask the Cleveland Cavaliers, who last played for an NBA title back when they were swept by the San Antonio Spurs following the 2006-07 season.

Three years later the Cavs decided it was time to move on from head coach Mike Brown, while all-star LeBron James decided to move on from Cleveland following semifinal setbacks to the Boston Celtics (2008, 2010) and an Eastern Conference final loss to the Orlando Magic in 2009.

And now, mercifully, Cleveland gets another shot at breaking a pro sports title drought that dates back to 1964 when the Browns last finished on top.

This time the Cavs’ hopes won’t hinge on the likes of overachievers such as Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Drew Gooden, Larry Hughes, Sasha Pavlovic, Daniel Gibson and, unfortunately, Anderson Varejao, who is one of two remaining players still on roster from 2007 but has been sidelined due to injury.

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Four teams remain in Stanley Cup Playoffs and none are from Canada

I hardly have time to care too much about the National Hockey League. There’s just too many other things going on in the world of sports to consume my attention.

But now we’re down to the final four teams in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. That’s reason enough to start paying attention, right?

What’s interesting about the upcoming matchups this weekend is that there’s no hard feelings stemming from previous postseason clashes to help get the excitement brewing. Instead we’ve got one team in the mist of a marginally lengthy Stanley Cup drought and, in comparison, three others still cleaning up confetti from recent triumphs.

On Saturday it’s the top-seeded New York Rangers and the No. 2 Tampa Bay Lightning meeting in the Eastern Conference. Sunday it’ll be the No. 1 Anaheim Ducks hosting the No. 3 Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference.

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NFL Playoffs 2015: Previewing The Wild Card Weekend

The regular season is in the books and the National Football League’s Wild Card weekend will be here before we know it. Or in other words, before we can fully recover from our New Year’s festivities.

The New England Patriots (12-4) and Denver Broncos (12-4) finished the regular season by claiming the top spots in the AFC while the Seattle Seahawks (12-4) and Green Bay Packers (12-4) hold those same positions in the NFC.

On Saturday it’s Arizona at Carolina and Baltimore at Pittsburgh followed by Cincinnati at Indianapolis and Detroit at Dallas on Sunday in matchups that’ll advance winners to the divisional round.

Below is a breakdown of the wild card games this weekend. My predictions are included at the conclusion of each summary.

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Playlist: Big Boi of Outkast (2003-12)

When it comes to Outkast it seems Andre 3000 gets all the attention. Hardly ever does Big Boi get brought up in the conversation, his efforts often overlooked by the majority of “fans” of the group.

Consider how critics compare the Speakerboxxx/The Love Below double album for proof. But go back and listen to those early Outkast albums and be surprised at how great Big Boi sounds alongside his more recognized partner.

Then once you’re done with that dive into the Big Boi Spotify playlist below, which I’ve compiled using tracks from Speakerboxxx (2003), Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty (2010), and Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors (2012), among a couple of other oddities.

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San Francisco Giants march back into postseason with blowout win

The San Francisco Giants won World Series titles in 2010 and 2012 before missing out on the postseason a year ago. On Wednesday they returned in a big way with an 8-0 road win against the Pittsburgh Pirates for the National League wild card. The Pirates were playing in back-to-back postseasons after a 21-year playoff drought, but this time they barely put up a fight.

Madison Bumgarner was dominant on the mound, pitching a complete game with 10 strikeouts. Brandon Crawford took the home crowd out of the game early when he hit a grand slam in the top of the fourth. The Giants outhit the Pirates 11-4 and looked every bit ready for baseball in October.

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Arena Football League is Dead to Me

Congrats goes out to the Arizona Rattlers for wrapping up an ArenaBowl three-peat on Saturday while simultaneously crushing the hearts of 18,404 rabid, title-hungry sports fans in Cleveland. In the first ArenaBowl I ever paid attention to (while at a laundromat in 2002, of all places) the Rattlers were badly beaten 52-14 by the rival San Jose SaberCats.

On Saturday, Arizona ravaged the Gladiators to the tune of 72-32 to claim their third ArenaBowl title in a row. It’s the fourth consecutive appearance in the ArenaBowl for the Rattlers since the AFL relaunched in 2010.

It’s partially why I’m pleading for someone (anyone!) to please save the Arena Football League.

Never mind the constant chatter alleging the abuse of the paltry salary structure by teams with kickbacks to players, or that an owner once told me he’d fix games so home teams won every time if he could. Forget about all of that, I’m just concerned with two particular tweaks that would help make the league feel a little more legit again.

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Michael Cuddyer Hits For the Cycle For Second Time in MLB Career

It’s hard enough for players to hit for the cycle at least once in their Major League Baseball careers, never mind becoming just one of three big-leaguers ever to do so in both the American and National leagues. What makes the only cycle of the 2014 season so interesting is the familiarity involving a couple players and a pair of games.

Late Sunday night Colorado Rockies outfielder Michael Cuddyer accomplished the feat with a huge grin on his face when he belted a double down the third base line off of Manny Parra in the eighth inning of a 10-5 win at home over the Cincinnati Reds.

While with the Brewers on May 22, 2009, Parra gave up three of the hits Cuddyer would need for his first cycle (while with the Minnesota Twins) before going on to finish it off at the Metrodome with a triple off of Jorge Julio, who had played for the Rockies two years earlier.

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Video: Clayton Kershaw Repeats History in First Career No-Hitter

The Colorado Rockies were on the wrong end of a historic night Wednesday. Clayton Kershaw struck out a career-high 15 batters for the Los Angeles Dodgers to record the first no-hitter of his career in an 8-0 win.

Kershaw, who didn’t allow a walk but missed out on a perfect game on a throwing error in the seventh by Hanley Ramirez, celebrated the second no-hitter thrown by a Dodger this season with teammates as they rushed the field afterwards. Josh Beckett no-hit the Philadelphia Phillies on May 25 in a game that also ended in an 8-0 Los Angeles win. Beckett struck out six in that game.

It’s the sixth no-hitter thrown in the National League over the past two years. Three no-hitters were tossed in the NL in 2012, which is the last time the American League had a no-hitter when four were thrown in the AL that season.

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Carnahan Coverage: U.S. Men’s National Team Finishes Preparation for World Cup in Jacksonville

If you’ve ever wondered what’s become of former Major League Baseball shortstop Rafael Furcal I’ve got some news to pass along to you.

I spent the past weekend in Jacksonville covering the U.S. Men’s National Team for Major League Soccer, where I wrote a number of stories over the course of Friday and Saturday. But I did other things while I was there as well, such as attending a Jacksonville Suns baseball game before walking across the street to EverBank Field for the soccer match.

Below are the links to all eight soccer stories about the USMNT from the weekend. The first story created quite a bit of buzz among soccer fans and media members alike, which makes interest in a Furcal comeback pale mightily in comparison. But while I was at the park…

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Carnahan Coverage: Pittsburgh Beats Orlando on Final Play

I’ve kept up with the Arena Football League ever since attending my first game during the 2001 season. I would soon go on to work for one of its teams on multiple occasions and later cover the league in some form or another, all while remaining a fan that genuinely enjoyed the sport.

I can’t say I feel that way about the AFL today. Maybe one day I’ll write more about why I’ve lost faith for those who don’t know how far the league has fallen since its relaunch in 2010.

But I must admit that on Saturday, when I made it out to my first game of the 2014 season while on duty for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review in Orlando, I was lucky enough to cover a nail-biter that came down to the final play of the game. It was one of those classic AFL finishes.

(– Click here to read my recap of Pittsburgh at Orlando for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review –)

It almost made me forget how shady the people running the league have been in recent years and how terrible they’ve treated players during that time. At least for a few hours. Good luck, AFL.