So I was a little quiet over the past few days. Condolences. But it's amazing how little time you have to sit down at a computer and pour your thoughts out to the five readers you have, when you actually have other things to accomplish.
The Pens have hit a minor snag since reeling off four straight wins following the Olympics, as they lost in overtime to the Hurricanes on Thursday despite dominating the game for the most part, and then they lost to the Devils on Friday with Marty stonewalling the 'Guins once again this season (I still can't believe the refs didn't catch the blatant interference on the Devils third goal). It was a disheartening two days, and while the Devils continue to dominate us in the regular season, we'll see what happens in May.
Pens take on the Lightning at 5 pm today (FSN), and I'm excited to watch Steve Stamkos play; dude's been killing it for the last two months. But more importantly, let's see the 'Guins get back on the horse.
I didn't really get to watch most of the Pens/Canes game on Thursday because I was watching the Pitt/Notre Dame Big East Tourney match up. Needless to say, it was a disappointment. But if they're gonna have a bad game, I'd rather it come in this tournament than the one coming up. I really don't think Pitt deserves a three seed (I don't think they are one of the 12 best teams in the country), but apparently, Joe Lunardi does. And his word is, to quote Keith Cushman, "as solid as oak."
Everton have been a little up and down of late. They got bounced from the Europa League by Porto after pretty much getting dominated for 90 minutes (this seems to be a theme for Everton in away European matches). And then they lost a fairly pivotal match against Spurs, but then the Tofees trounced Jozy Altidore and Hull, a game that included an absolute beauty of a goal from LD. But then, despite being up two goals early, Everton were only able to draw with Birmingham on Saturday 2-2. So where does that leave Everton for the rest of the season? They sit ninth in the table with 42 points (6 points back from a Europa spot, 10 points back from a Champions League spot). But the rest of the season looks fairly easy, with nine games left (4 home/5 away), only Man City away on March 24th and at Aston Villa in April look like tough matches. There is still much to be played for.
On the Donovan side of Everton, it's quite the chess match with LD asking the Galaxy to extend the loan. With the MLS lockout at a bit of a stalemate, I could see this happening, but don't expect there to be any major moves as it looks like the Galaxy are really set on keeping Donovan for the near future. I'll have more updates as the story develops. But in the meantime, this is a great piece from Ives Garcelep on LD's stay in Liverpool. Actually, scratch all that; LD's heading back state side, he deserves a little time off.
On the US side, here's a link to links. I haven't been able to catch any of their games recently, which is a bit of a shame on both sides; I haven't been paying close enough attention, and also with just three months to go before the World Cup, there's clearly not enough media attention being paid to these run up matches. Sometime this weekend, I'll do a more thorough look at the US squad and how it's shaping up. (I just realized that I can watch a replay of the Dutch match on ESPN360, so maybe if I have the time this week, I'll have writeup on how we looked).
One quick note, despite all the apparent good news on the injury front from Dempsey to Onyewu, it's a real shame that Stu Holden (one of my personal favorites on the US radar) fractured his fibula during the Dutch game. He was apparently just hitting stride with his new club Bolton, so I hope this injury doesn't set him back too far on both the club and country fronts.
The PG had a nice prospect fluff piece in today's Sunday paper on Dominican outfielder Starling Marte. Definitely a guy to keep your eye on. But right now I'm watching the Buccos take on the defending world champs and Aki Iwamura just took CC Sabathia deep (oppo!). Charlie Morton has looked especially impressive: working the strike zone, racking up a few K's, and keeping the ball on the ground. I'll have more to say on this later, but I'm a bit disgusted that the Pirates have teamed up with FSN to use this broadcast as one giant sales pitch for season tickets. I understand they need to get the word out and sell some tickets, and a spring training game is a good chance to do so (when fans are still optimistic), but it's just so cheesy the way they're going about the thing.
And finally, God knows we have our own QB issues in Pittsburgh. But, Cleveland, just when I thought you couldn't get any dumber, you go and do something like this... and totally redeem yourself! Having lived in the Carolina's, I understand the angst that Jake Delhomme caused Panthers' fans for the past half decade. Never has a QB parlayed one half of a good season into so much pathetic play. Add in the $7 million price tag in '10, Jebus... Even Browns fans don't deserve this.