The NHL could have waited until after the two Game 7s of this week’s Eastern Conference quarterfinal series ended to announce the start of the Western Conference semifinals. Thankfully, it didn’t.
The Kings’ second-round, seven-game series against the St. Louis Blues will start Saturday, with Game 2 on Monday, before heading to Staples Center for Games 3 and 4 on Thursday, May 3 and Sunday, May 6. The faceoff times, and NBC TV outlets, has not been sorted out yet.
(For those wondering: The BB King’s Blues Club that used to be at Univeral City Walk is long gone. The franchise has places in Orlando, Memphis, Nashville, Vegas and West Palm Beach. Not in Utah? Isn’t that where the Jazz thrives these days? Or did they miss the playoffs?)
The other Western Conference semifinal between Phoenix and Nashville starts Friday and Sunday in Phoenix. Games 3 and 4 in Nashville will be Wednesdday, May 2, and Friday May 4.
As a followup to ESPN’s Hubie Brown and Jon Barry addressing Metta World Peace’s seven-game suspension (linked here), the question was also put to TNT’s Steve Smith and Chris Webber , two former players (neither of them a former Ron Artest teammate): From what you know about him as a guy and a player, is the punishment fitting the incident and could it change his behavior?
Steve Smith: You’re asking us to be psychologists. When you start to look at it, a seven-game suspension, for me, was the right amount. The league did an excellent job of taking their time, assessing it. Looking at Metta World Peace, he had 109, 110 games suspended before this with the Pacers, (with the) Rockets there were no games, and only one (previously) with the Lakers, now he gets seven. Obviously we can’t speak for Metta. It was unfortunate what happened to James Harden. The bigger picture is hopefully he can recover from this but I think seven games is appropriate with what the league dished out for Metta.
Chris Webber: I agree with Steve. It was appropriate. That play was uncalled for. The league took their time and made their decision and hopefully James Harden will be able to play at a high level.
ESPN NBA analysts Hubie Brown and Jon Barry responded when asked this morning on a conference call to chime in on the seven-game suspension handed to the Lakers’ Metta World Peace, how it impacts the Lakers immediate playoff matchups and if it’s the kind of punishment they think could lead to any kind of change any behavior:
Hubie Brown: First of all, I think that he came off quite easy, mainly because when you say seven games, and tomorrow (in Sacramento, the regular season finale) counts as one, and if first round goes to seven we all that he could play in that game. The Lakers came out good in that situation. As far as it was quite, how should I say, lenient, was due to the fact there were 12 previous suspensions. I thought they might count that. But I feel possibly the condition of (Oklahoma City’s James) Harden isn’t as severe – it’s a concussion no doubt about that and no one is downplaying it – but the way the action happened and then even the after-affect going down the floor and encountering another player, all of that was taking into consideration. So it depends upon the individual and what you think.
As far as the position (small forward) we know that it’s been questionable most of the season in production (for the Lakers) but they can go with Ebanks at that spot and keep Barnes coming off the bench because he’s been in an excellent groove and making contributions.
The pitch: Where’s your reference point of Willie Mays Aikens over the last 30 years?
For an Angels fan, he’s the rookie out of Seneca, South Carolina who came up for a month in 1977, making his debut against Ferguson Jenkins and the Boston Red Sox. He spent the entire next season in Triple A but then came up and hit 21 homers with 81 RBI during their 1979 AL West-winning squad — only to tear up his knee during a game in Kansas City in mid-September and miss the playoffs. A couple months later, he was traded to Kansas City to get outfielder Al Cowens.
For a Royals fan, he was supposed to be cleanup hitter to protect George Brett in the lineup. In 1980, the year Brett challenged the .400 mark, Aikens hit 20 homers and drove in 98 with 151 games. He actually hit .400, with a record of hitting two homers in a game twice during the ’80 World Series six-game loss to Philadelphia. But he was frequent the target of ridicule and booing for his lumbering efforts at first base. It depressed him.
For those who remember the drug culture of the 1980s Major League Baseball scandal, Aikens was in the middle of it, implicated by the FBI with several other Royals teammates. He admits that he first did coke in 1977. He figure out ways to do three lines of coke with a vodka chaser before going to bed to make him feeling high during games the next day.
We did a Q-and-A (linked here) with renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. Frank Jobe, creator of the Tommy John surgery, last January as he was about to be honored by the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation, where the topic of whether he’s worthy for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame came up.
“I’d be happy to accept it,” the 87-year-old said. “I’m not sure if I know what ‘worthy’ means. It’s been a wonderful 38 years (since the John surgery), and if (the Hall acknowledge) happened, that would be a beautiful thing. I’d be very proud and happy about it.”
== Change.org founder Ben Rattray explains, during an appearance on “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” on Monday, how his site could be the one, after five years of operation, to effect more social media change in the world than ever before:
== A 2010 column by USA Today’s Mike Lopresti on Jobe’s Hall qualifications (linked here), as well as a 2010 blog post by the L.A. Times’ Steve Dilbeck (linked here) as one here from 2007 by CNN’s Chris Isidore (linked here)
== Jobe is on the 2012 ballot for the Baseball Reliquary’s Shrine of the Eternals for the 10th year (linked here)
== An endorsement from Ross Porter on his Real Sports Heroes website (linked here)
== Today, CNN’s Todd Sperry did an article about Tommy John/Dr. Jobe. (linked here).