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Old 05-10-2002, 10:38 PM   #1
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Post Sports Central Newsletter - #76 - Contract Us Now, Bud

The Sports Central Newsletter
May 5th, 2002 - Issue #76

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|-- IN THIS ISSUE... --|

- Words From the Editor 05.05.02
- Reader's Showcase (Sports Trivia)
- The Lancaster Report 05.05.02
- What's new at Sports Central?
- Marquee Matchups (NBA, NHL) 05.05.02
- Feature article: Contract Us Now, Bud



Hello folks,

From contraction to contenders? That seems to be the early story in
Montreal these days as the Expos have used the threat of contraction as
motivation. They are literally fighting for their baseball lives in
Montreal this year. SC's Mike Round has more on this intriguing story in
this issue's Feature Article.

We're down to eight teams in both the NHL and NBA playoffs, who's your
sleeper and favorite? Speaking of sleepers, there haven't been any in the
NBA playoffs this year so far as all the top seeds advanced as expected.
Could that all change in this second round? Discuss the NBA as well as the
Stanley Cup playoffs on the SC Message Boards:

Until next time,

- Marc James
mailto:[email protected]


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Each issue, the Reader's Showcase features either challenging sports trivia
or sports rant entries from readers on a rotating basis. For the Sports
Trivia questions, we will randomly choose trivia questions ranging from
baseball to hockey to golf. As for the Sports Rant, you, the readers,
have the opportunity write-in with your opinions and thoughts and have your
thoughts published in front of thousands of interested eyes.

In this issue, we're featuring another challenging Sports Trivia question.
Answer right, and you'll be mentioned in the next newsletter.


Who was the first player to play in the NBA past 40?

A) Wilt Chamberlain
mailto:[email protected]?subject=Newsletter76_Wilt

B) Bob Cousy
mailto:[email protected]?subject=Newsletter74_Cousy

C) Bill Russell
mailto:[email protected]?subject=Newsletter74_Russell

D) Robert Parish
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Note: If the text below each choice is not a clickable link, you may reply
to this newsletter with your selection. It will depend on your e-mail



Revisiting the new articles for the week of 04/29/02 - 05/05/02:


NBA: Lakers and Celtics in Finals?
By Brian Ault

Magic Johnson and Larry Bird once carried it. Kevin McHale and James Worthy
once carried it. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Walton once carried it. Could
it be time for Paul Pierce and Kobe Bryant to carry the torch of the famed
Lakers/Celtics rivalry this June?



NHL: Hot goaltending could beat Wings
By Jeff Daniels

The goalie is the most dominant player in hockey, especially playoff
hockey. The Red Wings are perennial favorites to win the Cup this year and
the only thing that can stop them is an extremely hot goalie, says SC's
Jeff Daniels.



MLB: Ways to improve the game (Pt. 2)
By Gary Cozine

Last time, SC's Gary Cozine took on the DH and the disparities in team
salaries. This time, he concludes his two-part series as he takes a look at
the All-Star game and Turf Toe.



COLUMN: April's Heroes and Zeros
By Rick Reighard

Who are this month's heroes and zeros? At the beginning of each new month,
we'll post our picks for the previous month's heroes and zeros based on
their hot or not so hot performances on and off the court or playing



GOLF: PGA's valedictorians and dunces, so far
By Vincent Musco

The 2002 PGA Tour season is already four months old, and it's time to
evaluate this year's best and worst performers, courses, and tournaments to
this point. The standards are high, but getting a passing grade can prove
to be quite rewarding, says SC's Vincent Musco.



COLUMN: Jock Strip: Church league basketball
By Greg Turner and Ken Karl

The Jock Strip is a sports editorial cartoon series "for the athletic
supporter" and is the creation of Portland, Oregon's Greg Turner and St.
Louis, Missouri's Ken Karl.



NHL: A tale of two conferences
By Vishal Patel

Reflecting on the first round results so far in the 2002 NHL Playoffs, SC's
Vishal Patel takes a look inside to see how both conferences are playing a
little bit differently and why there are upsets across the board in one
conference while in the other, the upper seeds are managing to assert



NBA: In fierce playoffs, win or go home
By Jared Spinelli

The first round of the NBA playoffs are close to being completed, and to
say the least, the competition has been at a high level. In these playoffs,
we are seeing close games and superstars solidifying their place among the
elite in part of the primetime spectacle known as the NBA playoffs, says
SC's Jared Spinelli.



NBA: Spurs ripe for upset
By Bill Ingram

Tony Parker is dominating his matchup with Gary Payton, but with David
Robinson likely out for the season and Tim Duncan slated to miss Game 4 due
to a death in the family, the San Antonio Spurs seem ripe for an upset,
says SC's Bill Ingram.



NHL: Taking violence too far
By Josie Lemieux

With the Richard Zednik's incident and the ridiculous suspension for the
Bruins' Kyle McLaren, violence in NHL hockey presently inspires
misunderstanding and awe. Unfortunately, catastrophic injuries are being
reported with increasing frequency. Is attempt to injure a guaranteed
victory? Here's a look inside a shocking, frequent common scenario.



MLB: Don't expect trades by low-payroll teams
By Steve Goldstein

Despite strong starts from unexpected clubs like the Pittsburgh Pirates,
don't expect any significant trades even if they're contending in August.
Why? Because those low-payroll teams simply can't afford the risk, says
SC's Steve Goldstein.



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--> National Basketball Assocation

By Marc James

This issue:
Charlotte Hornets vs. New Jersey Nets
May 7th, 8 PM EST; The Meadowlands, NJ; Continental Airlines Arena; TV: TNT

On Sunday, the short-handed Hornets fell 99-93 to the top-seeded Nets in
New Jersey. Charlotte was without backup center and backup big man Jamaal
Magloire, who was suspended due to a flagrant foul in Game 5 of their first
round series. Leading-scorer Jamal Mashburn continues to be sidelined with
viral ailments. The 6'8" forward appears to be improving and only needs an
inner ear infection to heal before he can return to action.

The two teams meet again on Tuesday in the Meadowlands where the Hornets
will try to tie the series up before heading "home" to Charlotte. The
often- discussed matchup of Jason Kidd vs. Baron Davis is definitely reason
to watch this series, but the return of Mashburn could determine if
Charlotte pulls it out or not.

The Hornets were able to get past the Magic in the first round, but the
Nets are a more explosive team and the Hornets need the consistent low-post
presence of Mashburn to lead them to victory. Jason Kidd will continue to
get his teammates involved and look for either Kenyon Martin or Keith Van
Horn to have a big series. The Nets will play tough.

But if Mashburn returns to form, look for the more experienced Hornets to
take this one in five or six.

[ Game Breakdown ]

Offense - Nets
Defense - Hornets
Guards - Nets
Forwards - Hornets
Center - Hornets
Bench - Hornets

Prediction: Hornets 97, Nets 91


--> National Hockey League

By Lee Manchur
Record: 3-3

Last issue:
Prediction: Philadelphia 3, Ottawa 1; Actual: Ottawa 2, Philadelphia 0

This issue:
San Jose Sharks vs. Colorado Avalanche
May 8, 10 PM EST; San Jose, California; Compaq Center; TV: ESPN

After splitting the first two games of this series in Colorado, San Jose
won the first game by a 6-3 count and Colorado won the second matchup by
a score of 8-2, the Sharks and Avs head to the Shark Tank for games three
and four.

When a series is split the first two games, Game 4 is usually considered
the most important because someone will either have a 3-1 series lead, or
it will be split 2-2 and become a best-of-three series. This matchup has
been a wide open, faced paced, high scoring series with 19 goals being
scored in the first two games.

As Patrick Roy seems to have rebounded from his terrible Game 1 loss,
sophomore Evgeni Nabokov will need to do the same for the Sharks if they
are to win.

Colorado will need to have both Rob Blake and Peter Forsberg in the lineup.
Both have been nursing injuries this playoff season, and in order to win
this one, both will need to be playing. Otherwise, it's anyone's guess.

[ Game Breakdown ]

Offense - Sharks
Defense - Draw
Goaltending - Avalanche
Power Play - Avalanche
Penalty Kill - Avalanche
Coaching - Draw
Intangibles - Sharks

Prediction: Colorado 5, San Jose 2


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Contract Us Now, Bud

So it's only May and there's still six months of baseball to go before we
get to crown a champion, but whatever happens before now and October, there
won't be many better stories than the Montreal Expos in this baseball year.
From the brink of extinction to contention - at least for now, anyway.
Thanks Bud - come up and contract us anytime.


By Mike Round

Okay - let's pretend it's pre-season - let's consider the National League
East. The Braves? Yeah - as usual, good strong pitching, a bit more pop in
the batting lineup with Gary Sheffield there. Bound to contend. The Mets?
Great offseason. Roger Cedeno will steal you bases, Robbie Almoar is a 100
RBI man, Jeremy Burnitz is a homerun threat, and Mo Vaughn, if he stays
healthy, will feast on NL pitching.

Plus, the pitching is stronger with Pedro Astacio and Shawn Estes in the
rotation. Could go all the way. Florida and the Phillies? Young ball clubs
with promise. Expos? Don't they have that Russian-sounding guy on the team?

There's no excuse for a team to give up on a season, but as we all know,
teams do it all the time. Even the Red Sox, talented and genuine postseason
contenders, threw in the towel late last season, as clubhouse strife
took over. The Devil Rays normally throw in the towel in June. Kansas and
Baltimore do the honorable thing and wait until after the All-Star Break.

If ever a team had an excuse to give up on a year, it's the Montreal Expos.
The league tried to shut them down in the winter. The front office took the
snowbird route to Florida - taking the scouting reports and pencils with
them. The league, faced with a court order to keep the team in existence,
imposed a manager and GM. 50% of the fans didn't renew their season tickets
- apparently he's moved to Toronto. This was a team with the life
expectancy of a Day-Glo orange deer in hunting season.

Despite the pre-season rankings, the talk of relocation, and contraction,
and dire warnings about lack of talent, the Expos are contending early in
the season. Maybe they've bonded as a group, or gone to the mattresses and
are intent on shooting their way out. The "us against the world" syndrome.
Or maybe they were just never that bad?

When you look at the Expos roster, there's more than a smattering of talent
on there. Young starters Javier Vazquez and Tony Armas, Jr. could start
anywhere. They raked up 25 wins between them last year and that was on a
team that couldn't hit a cow's butt with a banjo. Give Vazquez (1-1, 2.86
ERA) some run support and he could win 20 games. Armas, Jr. (4-2, 3.55
ERA), likewise, in time.

Carl Pavano is still an enigma wrapped in a riddle, but he has the stuff to
confuse hitters, if he can stay healthy. Remember that this is the guy who
went 8-4 with a 3.06 ERA in 2000, before injury sent him home for the year.
All three of these guys are younger than 26-years-old. Add in Bruce Chen
(2-2, 4.35) and Tomokazu Okha (3-1, 4.35) and you have a respectable

Even the bullpen - slated as the team's big weakness - has held up so far,
with ex-Yankee lefty Graeme Lloyd converting 4-of-4 saves and Matt Herges
5-of-6. The team has given up the most hits in the NL, but this hasn't
translated into a disastrous number of runs (seventh in NL).

If he played anywhere else but Montreal, Vladimir Guerrero would be a major
star. He's a huge homerun threat, he hits 100+ RBIs, and is a 30 steals a
year man, yet hardly anyone can spell his name. Plus, he can field. This is
one of the top 10 players in the game. If I was Brian Cashman, I'd be on
the phone every day about this guy, even at $8 million a year. There are a
lot of mediocre ball players earning that or more.

Jose Vidro and Orlando Cabrera, at second base and shortstop, respectively,
are slick with the glove and no mugs holding a bat. Vidro is batting around
.300 so far and is the best 2B in the league. Cabrera batted in 96 last
year, as well as stealing 19 bases.

The big story has been catcher Michael Barrett, who has always had pop in
his bat and a decent arm, who has blossomed this year, hovering around .400
all of April, sitting proudly above names like J.D. Drew, A-Rod, and Sammy
Sosa in the batting average stats.

Throw in Fernando Tatis, looking to kick-start his career after a grim year
in St. Louis, and Lee Stevens, who's always good for Tino Martinez-type
numbers, and you have a club capable of scoring runs. The team leads the NL
in average, OBP, runs, and walks.

The problem in Montreal, and the reason they sadly won't make the
playoffs, is depth. They simply don't have any, but that's true of 80% of
the league. And, baseball economics being what it is, they can't afford to
acquire any, without following the age-old Expo route of trading away their
best players.

Frank Robinson, who has quickly established himself as a bonafide manager,
will have to get by with what he's got, and hope he can avoid an injury
jinx. GM Omar Minaya has few chips to play with, thanks to low revenue, an
uncertain future for the franchise, and the legacy of a poor front office
that traded away their best layers for monkey nuts, and sacked one of, if
not the best, managers in the business.

We all root for teams other than the Expos - apart from two diehards in
Plantagehet that is - but for the rest of the season, there's quite a few
extra Les Expos fans out there. One thing's for sure - the Expos aren't the
Brewers - at least they're still trying.


Send us your feedback:
mailto:[email protected]?subject=Feature_Article

You are welcome to post your thoughts on the message boards at:


Special thanks to our newsletter editor, Lee Manchur! Visit his web site:

GPCI Online - http://im.pein.org/gph

(Thanks for reading! Next issue set to come out on 05/19/02.)

Contents copyright 1998-2002 Sports Central.
No part of this newsletter may be reproduced without permission.
Marc James - SCMB Administrator | Sports Central Managing Editor & Founder
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