Friday, December 23, 2005

UCLA 86; Sac State 56

Remember what I said the other day about 20-30 point wins and burying bad teams? Well, that's how you do it. And it's about time.

Oilers 5; Kings 3

Missed most of this one other than the third period, which I guess means I would have been better off missing the whole thing. Bad defense in the third, combined with untimely penalties, a horrid power play, and a lot of luck for Edmonton led to the two goal loss. Some times you just don't get the bounces, and when you have slap shot deflected to the skate of an opponent who is able to kick it in, when you lose a face off that no one even touches, it's just not your night.

It's not the same rivalry it once was, and maybe it's because I'm slightly buzzed right now, but I really fucking hate Edmonton, and quite frankly, I don't think they're that good. Of course, many nights, I don't think the Kings are that good either. I think that in a seven game series, the Kings would win, but they really need to get better, soon, in two areas:
  1. The power play is awful. They couldn't even gain the zone on a 5 on 3, and it led to a penalty that cost them the extra man.
  2. Face offs. I know Belanger is hurt, but they have to have someone who can win a draw once in a while. This is getting ridiculous.
Another big one Monday night against the Sharks. Let's hope some guys get healthy in the next couple of days and that the Kings give a little bit better effort.

Thursday, December 22, 2005


Nothing happened. Which is exactly as it should be when I'm on vacation.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Who are the assclowns running FSN? UCLA and Illinois talk below.

It's like they chose tonight to specifically piss me off. We don't get the Kings game, but we get the sucks game. We don't get the Bruins game, but we get the U$C game. What the fuck?

Anyway, Kings with a great comeback get four goals in the third period and beat Calgary after getting only two shots in the first period. Wish I could tell you more, but see above.

On the other end of things, the Bruins are making me glad that this game isn't televised, as they seem to be having big problems handling that national powerhouse from Wagner, on their own freaking court, no less. As I write this, they're down 8 with under 10 minutes to go, and I'll predict right now that UCLA is going to lose this game. It doesn't matter who's playing. It doesn't matter who's coaching. It doesn't matter who they've beaten on the season. When they play these games, they simply refuse to show up.

What do I mean, exactly? Let's look at a study in contrasts. The same team Coppin State team that UCLA trailed at halftime was held to 12 points in the first half against Illinois, who beat them by 20. Good teams don't just beat the teams they're supposed to beat. They hammer the teams they're supposed to beat. And everyone is going to have a down game sooner or later. Hell, Illinois barely beat Wichita State. But other than that game, their only single digit victories (no losses) have come against a ranked North Carolina team at Carolina, and a decent Xavier team in Chicago. Meanwhile, the Bruins have had scares against Coppin State, Albany, and Drexel. The Illini have won 5 games by 20 or more points, and 3 of those by 30 or more. Meanwhile, UCLA has no 20 point wins (one 19 point win against Delaware State). See what I'm getting at? I don't know if it's the coaching. I don't know if it's the players that come out of Southern California. I don't know if it's the lackadasical crowds. But UCLA simply doesn't hammer the teams that they should hammer. And quite frankly, it gets to be damn frustrating. It doesn't make it any easier to take when you realize that across town, U$C is taking it to Carolina right now.

Speaking of hammering teams, the Illini absolutely demolished Missouri tonight in the annual bragging rights game, the sixth straight win for the Illini in the series, going back the first year with Frankie Williams (my second year in law school). Dee and Augie will graduate having never lost to Mizzou. Honestly, this is as much a rivalry as UCLA-U$C has been in football lately. Dee led the Illini with 17 points as he shot the ball well again. Jamar Smith continues to be a joy to watch shoot. And the defense remains stifling. I don't know what difference he would have made last year, and maybe when all is said and done, we'll be glad he redshirted, but I can't help but think it would have been nice to have Brian Randle and his athletic ability on defense against North Carolina. But I understand that wall had been riding him all day and Randle had to take care of business. Sure, he broke his hand and missed the season when he punched that wall, but from what I hear, the wall hasn't trash talked him since.

68-68 with a few minutes to go, UCLA with the ball. They just might pull the escape yet again.

**Update** UCLA wins 74-72. Ben Howland doesn't like to play a tough schedule. If he can't get the team to play any better than this against inferior opponents, maybe he knows more about his ability to beat the big boys (or lack thereof) than we do.

Christmas Comes Early (But possibly so does Grinch)

Haven't seen this reported anywhere yet (update: has it), but my brother just called and told me that he heard a report that Steve Finley has been traded. That's the good news. I assume the report is coming from ESPN radio as heard in Anchorage, Alaska. Now the bad new: They got Edgardo Alfonzo in return. The good news is that we get rid of a 40 year old center fielder with no range who put up a 73 OPS+ last year. The bad news is that we get a broken down 32 year old third baseman who hasn't had a triple digit OPS+ in three years. The salaries wash, and right now, I don't know how long Alfonso has left on his deal.

What does this mean? Could be a few things. Here's my best case, worst case, and most probably case:
  • Best case: Erstad to center; Kotchman to first; Figgins to everywhere; Alfonzo to the bench or released; McPherson to third; with Rivera being the DH when the schedule permits.
  • Worst case: Erstad to first; Figgins to center; Alfonzo to third; Kotchman to DH/bench; Rivera to DH/bench; McPherson to DH/bench
  • Probable case: Erstad to center; Kotchman to first; Figgins to everywhere; Alfonzo to third; McPherson to bench
Let me be clear. Barring any unforseen injuries or failure to produce during spring training, if McPherson is not starting at third or as the every day DH next year (assuming he DH's because Figgins is at third), I'll be pissed. If Alfonzo does start at third next year, I'll be pissed. If both happens, nothing in my apartment is safe.

I swear to god, I'm gonna break something if the Angels start Alfonzo at third this year over D-Mac.

Rogue Wave w/ Irving and Mazarin @ the Troubador - 12/20/05

I wasn't home more than 24 hours before I got a call that a friend's sister had an extra ticket to this show, and I've missed Rogue Wave the last couple of times they were in Chicago, so I thought I'd take advantage. I was introduced to these guys back in summer '04 when they opened for AC Newman at the Bottom Lounge in Chicago, and there were one of those opening acts that made a big enough impression that I bought their CD afterwards.

First time I've ever been to the troubador. Really small and intimate venue. Great place to see a show. Kind of reminded me a shrunken down version of the Metro, shallow and wide. We got there before the doors opened, and waited for will call for a while, but we were still inside well before Marazin took the stage. Never heard of them, but they're a typical four piece, more or less straight forward indie rock. Definitely better than adequate for an opening act, and I'll be checking some of their stuff out on Rhapsody.

Next up was Irving, a five piece out of San Francisco in which everyone sings at some point, and at least three different guys took over lead vocals from time to time. Hard to describe them except to say imagine a band from San Francisco with guys wearing sweater vests and playing sort of California tinged pop, and that's pretty much what you get. They were very good though, and quite honestly, this was one of the better two-opening-act shows that I've ever been to.

Speaking of opening acts, Rogue Wave joins the likes of BRMC, Stereophonics, the High Dials, and number of other bands I can't remember right now that I first saw as opening acts before later seeing them headline. They remind me somewhat of Earlimart, in that their recorded music is fairly mellow and somewhat quiet (give or take a couple of songs), but in concert, they're very upbeat and very loud. Really a terrific band to see in person. Here's my incomplete and out of order setlist®:
  • Bird on a Wire
  • Publish My Love
  • Love's Lost Guarantee
  • 10:1
  • California
  • Are You By My Side*
  • Medicine Ball
  • Temporary*
  • Every Moment
  • Kicking the Heart Out
  • Sewn Up
  • Falcon Settles Me
  • Endless Shovel
  • Man-Revolution
* Not sure if they played this, but I think they did. I probably missed a couple on their, and if they played any B-sides/new tracks, I didn't pick up on those. Zach Rogue started the encore by playing a couple of songs solo acoustic, which was kind of cool, and made me think of the Starsailor set I saw when they opened for The Charlatans a few years ago. He played Man-Revolution in that bit, and it sounded fantastic.

This was the end of their tour, as Zach mentioned a couple of times, so you could sort of sense that they weren't holding anything back, and they had a sell-out crowd in the tiny room, so there was a lot of energy going in both directions. Considering I had no plans to see any shows while I was home, and this one just fell into my lap, it was definitely worth the few hours. $5.50 for an MGD is a little steep, but other than that, it was an excellent evening.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Kings 4; Canucks 3 (F-SO)

Another game in which you really can't say the Kings outplayed their opponents, but you can't say they didn't earn the win. They got behind early on a couple of pretty nice goals, especially the fist one from Markus Naslund. When the Kings took the penalty that led to the second goal, I said to my dad "if they score here, it could get ugly quick." But the Kings fought back with goals from Roenick (with a rocket shot, but man what a pass from Demitra), then Armstrong off of a nice pass from Roenick. Despite falling behind in the second period, they came back yet again on another beautiful feed from Demitra to Conroy for a short hander. For the second time in three games, they fought their way to overtime, then a shoot out, where Frolov scored for the second time in as many game. It was all they'd need, as Kings goalies remained perfect, with Garon stopping all three shots, including a fantastic save on Markus Naslund's attempt.

Great moment in the first period as Avery fought Jovanovski to a draw. They can say Avery turtles all they want, but during the scrum before the fight, Jovo lost his helmet. As they skated around before the fight, Avery flipped his off to make it a fair fight. Gotta love that.

The slump appears to be over. They aren't playing tremendous hockey, and other than maybe against Phoenix, they certainly haven't won overwhelmingly, but they're getting excellent goaltending, and the power play seems to be coming around a bit. They've scored a heck of a lot of short-handed goals as well. Seems like they're scoring shorties like they did when they had Russ Courtnall. Anyway, two points is two points closer to a playoff spot.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Kings 4; Coyotes 1

Didn't see all but the last ten minutes or so, as I was at the company holiday party. Another great effort from Garon, on back to back nights, no less. Also nice to see Demitra on the scoreboard, and Corvo with his fifth. Another power play goal, so maube that's starting to come around as well.

I'll be back in the sunshine of LA for the next cople of weeks, so the games will be starting a couple hours earlier. Don't know how blogging will be affected. Probably not very much.