Ask Gary: NHL playoffs defy logic

by Gary Shelton on April 27, 2019 · 4 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

Each week, the readers take over GarySheltonsports.com and play Ask Gary. They send in a question, or a couple, on Thursday night or Friday morning and we all talk about the world of sports. Think of it as a radio show where you don’t have to be on hold. Join us and ask a question, make a comment or be funny. Send the questions to GarySheltonsports@gmail.com.

Saturday, 3 a.m.

For the first time in NHL history, all 4 conference champions were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. Any theories as to why this type of thing happens in hockey but no other sport? Also with the 4 top teams in the regular season eliminated, who are you picking to win the Cup?

Larry Beller

It’s a good question, Larry. Not that four No. 1s usually fall, but a No. 8 often knocks off a No. 1. When I first started to cover hockey, it was pointed out to me that the typical No. 8 seed is much, much closer to the No. 1 than in any other sport. I think the years have borne that out.

Also, it’s an effort sport, even more so than other sports. A pretty good team can outwork a very good team, and it can neutralize its stars. Most playoff teams have at least one world-class player.

I didn’t want to be outlandish, I explained. Ginny liked men in dresses, but she wasn’t really into the camp that comes with a lot of drag shows. She saw it as a half-slap at womenhood, not as a tribute.

And, of course, there are the referees, who call the sport completely differently in the post-season. At times, it’s like it’s a different game.

What does that mean? It means the post-season is as good as any sports. But it also means that the regular season isn’t nearly as important. Only college basketball’s regular season matters less.

I’ve never seen anything like this post-season though. I think I read that 13 of the top 15 scorers were already eliminated. I’d hate to have to make a living handicapping hockey. It’s 16 coins being flipped at once.

Who wins it? I’ll go with San Jose over Boston in seven games.

Do you think Shohei Ohtani should be a pitcher and a designated hitter, or solely a pitcher, or solely a designated hitter?

Scott Myers

Before we discuss which position he should concentrate on, let’s agree that he should make a choice. I think you get a watered-down result when you try to do both. Eventually, his hitting will take away from his pitching, or vice versa.

Which position? If I were Ohtani, I’d follow my heart. I don’t know if, deep down, he gets more of a thrill of hitting a home run or recording a strikeout. Both positions pay a lot, so his wallet will be fat whichever direction he eventually goes.

Ah, but if I were the Angels, I’d have a preference. I’d want him to pitch. It would save wear and tear on his body, and barring an injury, you could count on him for 30 starts a year for a decade and a half.

As an onlooker with no emotional ties to his team, I like the uniqueness of his day. I love seeing him pitch one day and dh the next. Anything that is different in baseball is generally okay with me (except for the DH). It creates an interest in Anaheim I didn’t have.

For now, he’s a hitter. That’s cool.

What do you look forward to see happen in this years draft? Me? It is to see what Gruden does with all those 1st round picks.

Richard Kinning

I was asking that exact question in the press room Thursday. Whose draft, beside the Bucs, interested people the most. I got a couple of Washington’s and a bunch of Oakland’s.

The Raiders are such a swing-and-miss franchise, especially after sending their scouts home. It’ll be interesting to see them  in later rounds when Gruden loses interest.

I didn’t like the Clelin Ferrell pick. Not because of the player, but because the team didn’t move backward before taking him.

Do you know if any of the Lightning make their home here year round or do they head north after the season?

Richard Kinning

Most players travel in the off-season, whether their European players going home or if they’re entered in foreign tournaments. But most of them maintain their homes here in the meantime. You can never be sure of schedules, so they might travel the third and fifth weeks of July and stay home otherwise.

What? Stamkos hasn’t invited you for dinner yet?

Me, neither

There was a time when the Tampa Bay area was the center of the sports universe. Do you think we will ever see something like that again? Super Bowl Champs, Stanley cup, College Football Champs, College Basketball Champs, and a World Series appearance. Good times they were.

Richard Kinning

Not only that, Richard. There was the feeling that, in any year, one of those teams could contend for a title, which is as important as winning one. The Bucs won a Super Bowl after the 2002 season, but they were close after 1999 and 2000. They made the playoffs five out of six seasons. The Bolts’ title was derailed by a season-long strike. But FSU, Miami and Florida all won multiple titles. Florida won back-to-back hoops titles. FSU was in the top five for, what, 14 seasons?

I honestly don’t know that we’ll ever see that again. The college teams aren’t as good. The Bucs haven’t won a playoff game since January of 2003. The Rays haven’t made the playoffs lately. The odds all of them would get good (and the Lightning would stay good) are long.

I’m sure, however, that you’re the same as me. You don’t expect them all to win titles. But you’d love it if the teams mattered. If the Bucs could get to the point where the suggestion they might win a title didn’t bring laugher, or if the Rays could get into the playoff mix, and if the Bolts stay good, then we can get by. Hell, most cities are glad when one or two of its teams matter. Right now, I’d settle for that.

Thinking of football, we were kicking around who we thought the best Monday Night football announcer was. Who is your pick?

Richard Kinning

Good question, Richard. And a lively discussion, I would imagine.

If I can, I’ll start with three categories: The play-by-play man, the color commentator and the sideline reporter. Those three try to work seamlessly together.

My pick for the play-by-play man would be Al Michaels. He’s a pro, solid, and he never gets in the way of his broadcast. I know some people would say Frank Gifford, but I’ll go with Michaels.

The color commentator? I know a lot of people would take Howard Cosell, who was marketed like he was a hard-hitting journalist. He wasn’t. I was covering a Monday night game in Atlanta one year, and there was only one elevator to the locker room. And they held the elevator so Cosell could leave and made the rest of us wait. What a pompous ass. I’ve never forgotten it.  The best color man? No one ever matched the approach of Don Meredith, who was insightful and funny and refused to take anything too seriously. I also had a weakness for Jon Gruden, since I had covered him.

The sideline reporter: Another old buddy: Sal Paolantonio. Sal used to cover Wimbledon, and we’d get together and talk about the upcoming football season. He’s a TV guy who still thinks like a newspaper journalist.

So who is the best Monday night football guy ever? I’m going to go with Michaels. Substance over style.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

BILL MYERS April 28, 2019 at 9:12 am

So do the Bolts need some goons too?

Reply

Gary Shelton April 28, 2019 at 4:49 pm

They need some bigger guys, maybe on their second line, maybe as defensemen, so they don’t get pushed around when the refs allow it.

Reply

Larry Beller April 27, 2019 at 7:49 am

I can remember when the Stanley Cup playoff games were not to be missed. Some of the most exciting games ever, happened in the playoffs. Now the goon side of hockey that you don’t see a lot of in the regular season, is so much more pronounced in the playoffs. As a result I’m not as thrilled with hockey’s post season as I used to be.

At times these playoffs resemble a tough guy competition or an MMA match. The fast paced, offensive side of hockey with wonderfully skilled players that teams like the Lightning and Calgary play is thwarted by mediocre teams who clutch, grab and bludgeon their way to victory.

The officiating ruins the game for me. All the illegal stuff that slows down the more skilled, faster players is allowed in the playoffs. Hopefully the ratings will be awful in this post season so the NHL may address it at some point but I’m not holding my breath that will ever happen. It’s a shame because if the officials were to call the game the right way hockey’s playoffs would be the most exciting in all of sports.

Reply

Gary Shelton April 27, 2019 at 12:59 pm

I still like the NHL playoffs, but like you, I wish officials would call the game the same way. The goons aren’t as prevalent as they used to be, but they sure get in the way of entertainment.

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