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Old 03-11-2002, 06:53 PM   #1
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Post Sports Central Newsletter - #72 - March Madness Underway

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The Sports Central Newsletter
March 10th, 2002 - Issue #72
https://www.sports-central.org
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|-- WELCOME --|

We hope you enjoy this issue of our newsletter. This e-mail is never sent unsolicited. The Sports Central Newsletter is sent out every fortnight. Subscribing and unsubscribing instructions are located at the bottom.

Like what you read? We highly encourage you to forward it your friends and let them subscribe.

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

- Words From the Editor 03.10.02
- Reader's Showcase (Sports Trivia)
- What's new at Sports Central?
- Marquee Matchups (NHL, NBA) 03.10.02
- Feature article: Back in the Show - Hopefully, For Good

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|-- WORDS FROM THE EDITOR --|

Hello folks,

The 2002 NCAA Tournament Seeds were just released on this Selection Sunday. No real surprises up top, as Duke, Maryland, Kansas, and Cincinnati all received No. 1 seeds. The only debate was that Oklahoma had a case for that fourth No. 1 seed, especially after beating No. 1 Kansas today and winning the Big XII title. Another surprise was Gonzaga, who was utterly shocked and disappointed at a low No. 6 seed after such a great year where they found themselves in the top ten. And disappointed, rightfully so.

The first step to March Madness is complete. Now comes the time when fans all over this great nation get together with their tournament brackets and argue who'll come out on top when it's all said and done with. (Speaking of brackets, SC will be cooking up our own for you very soon. Stay tuned.) March Madness is underway, can you feel the excitement?

Mike looks at the up-and-down Rick Ankiel in his Feature Article, Lee and Ross are back with their Marquee Matchups, and we've got another trivia question to put your mind to the test. It's all below. Read on, enjoy. Rinse and repeat.

Until next time,

- Marc James
mailto:[email protected]

====================================================

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|-- READER'S SHOWCASE --|

Each issue, the Reader's Showcase features either challenging sports trivia or sports soapbox 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 Soapbox, you, the readers, have the opportunity write-in and have your thoughts published in front of thousands of eager eyes.

In this issue, we're featuring another challenging sports trivia question. Have you got what it takes? If you answer correctly, you'll be featured in the next newsletter issue, so get right to it!

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ANSWER: What was the last NL team to win back-to-back World Series?

A) Dodgers
mailto:[email protected]?subject=Newsletter72_Dodgers

B) Giants
mailto:[email protected]?subject=Newsletter72_Giants

C) Cardinals
mailto:[email protected]?subject=Newsletter72_Cardinals

D) Reds
mailto:[email protected]?subject=Newsletter72_Reds

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 client.

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|-- WHAT'S NEW AT SPORTS CENTRAL? --|

Revisiting the new articles for the week of 03/04/02 - 03/10/02:

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NBA: Beantown's lucky charms
By Jared Spinelli

Days before the NBA trading deadline, the Celtics made a surprising move, trading three players, including first-round pick Joe Johnson to the Suns in exchange for Tony Delk and Rodney Rogers. Only weeks later, the fans of Boston are beginning to realize who they got in the trade - two "lucky charms" who could fit perfectly into the Celtic playoff picture, says SC's Jared Spinelli.

https://www.sports-central.org/sport...ticle118.shtml
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NHL: Your hockey questions answered
By Lee Manchur

With the success and popularity of ice hockey at the recent Winter Olympics, many questions have been raised from both new and old hockey fans. SC's resident hockey expert and proud Canadian Lee Manchur now tackles these questions.

https://www.sports-central.org/sport...cle118_2.shtml

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MLB: Mets will disappoint in 2002
By Piet Van Leer

The Mets spent bundles in the offseason to improve their offense. While they may score tons of runs, they will have to hope their pitching is adequate, which doesn't appear likely, says SC's Piet Van Leer.

https://www.sports-central.org/sport...ticle118.shtml

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COLLEGE: Selection Sunday means March Madness!
By John McManus

This is by far the funnest time on the sports calendar. Selection Sunday is nearly here and SC's John McManus is itching to see the pairings. Here's a few things to think about regarding this year's brackets.

https://www.sports-central.org/sport...cle118_2.shtml

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COLUMN: Amico Report: NBA fight plan
By Sam Amico

It's time for the NBA to put its first down on fighting. Hoops columnist Sam Amico is more sure of that than ever after watching Kobe Bryant and Reggie Miller go at it following the Indiana Pacers/Los Angeles Lakers game March 1.

https://www.sports-central.org/colum...rt/index.shtml

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COLLEGE: Wild, wild Mountain West
By Michael Melissa

Forget about the East Coast bias against the Pac-10, or dubbing the ACC the best conference in college basketball, attention should be on the Mountain Time zone. The Mountain West Conference has easily been the most exciting conference to watch this season an 8.9 average margin of victory per game can attest to that. So how can you not expect SC's Michael Melissa to be giddy about the upcoming MWC tourney?

https://www.sports-central.org/sport...ticle118.shtml

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NHL: Finding the perfect chemistry
By Vishal Patel

With only six weeks left in the season and three weeks until the trading deadline, many of the playoff contenders will be attempting to find the perfect chemistry - the chemistry that creates a Stanley Cup winner, says SC's Vishal Patel.

https://www.sports-central.org/sport...ticle118.shtml

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SPRING TRAINING: AL Central (Pt. 2)
By Lee Manchur

With Spring Training now in session and the Boys of Summer awaking from their winter hibernation, it's time to start thinking baseball. SC's Peter Friberg helps you get in the mood with his all-original Spring Training Preview. Part 2: AL Central.

https://www.sports-central.org/sport..._central.shtml

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NFL: Spurrier creating All-Gator team?
By Kevin Basarab

The Redskins have the coach, they have the receiver, and now they have the quarterback. How many more former University of Florida players will the Redskins pickup under former Gator head coach Steve Spurrier? The answer remains to be seen, but as SC's Kevin Basarab says, it come at the cost of success.

https://www.sports-central.org/sport...ticle118.shtml

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|-- MARQUEE MATCHUPS --|

[Note: No college basketball Marquee Matchup this week because tournament matchups and conference championship matchups are undetermined as of press time.]

--> National Basketball Assocation
By Ross Lancaster

Last Issue: Prediction: Lakers 98, Bucks 89; Actual: Lakers 99, Bucks 89
Record: 2-0

This Issue: Dallas (44-18) at Portland (38-25)
Rose Garden, Portland, OR, Thursday, March 14, 10 PM EST, BlazerCable (local Portland)

This game may be a playoff preview, with Dallas having the second best record in the conference, and Portland the sixth. Mo Cheeks has his Blazers on a roll that his team hasn't seen since the third quarter of Game 7 against Los Angeles in 2000. Rasheed Wallace has finally gotten his act together, as he, Bonzi Wells, and Damon Stoudamire are suddenly united. The Blazers had not lost in nearly a month until their recent loss to the Nuggets.

Meanwhile, Dallas has been hot, too, winning seven of eight and is in a tie with Sacramento for the most wins in the league. The LaFrentz and Van Exel deal has worked immensely in the favor of the Mavs, as it has given Steve Nash some well-deserved minutes off and given Dallas the rebounding presence it needs. Hopefully, it translates into a win for the Mavericks on Thursday night.

[ Game Breakdown ]

Offense - Mavericks
Defense - Mavericks
Guards - Mavericks
Forwards - Trail Blazers
Center - Mavericks
Bench - Trail Blazers

Prediction: Dallas 108, Portland 104

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--> National Hockey League
By Lee Manchur

Last Issue Week: Prediction, 5-3 CAN; Actual, 5-2 CAN
Record: 1-1

This Issue: Buffalo Sabres vs. Ottawa Senators
HSBC Arena, Buffalo, NY, March 19, 7 PM EST; TV: local only

A Sabres/Senators match-up is sure to be listed as "must see TV" ... if any national network were covering the game!

Since the 1998 playoffs when the Senators (31-19-8-5; 75 PTS) finally got over their "expansion hump" by making it to the postseason in consecutive years, a rivalry was made with the Sabres (26-28-8-1; 61 PTS) as they faced each other two years in a row in the playoffs.

This game has drastic playoff implications in the Eastern Conference. Buffalo is currently eleventh in the Eastern Conference and last in the Northeast Division, but are also just four points behind the Montreal Canadiens who are clinging onto the final playoff spot in the Conference. Ottawa, meanwhile, sits fifth in the Eastern Conference, but can easily jump up to third with as four points would bolt them past the division-leading Boston Bruins.

Martin Biron recently recorded his first ever back-to-back shutouts, and it's obvious he paid attention to Dominik Hasek when he was in town. Patrick Lalime seems to be the Sens #1 starter despite some challenges from Jani Hurme. The Sabers desperately lack a solid defensive core which will haunt them should they make the playoffs, and their offense isn't very deep either. The Senators, meanwhile, are a decent group all around, including a group of defensemen that like to jump into the offensive play. Despite this game being played in Buffalo, the Senators definitely have the upper hand in nearly every category.

[ Game Breakdown ]

Offense - Senators
Defense - Senators
Goaltending - Draw
Power Play - Senators
Penalty Kill - Buffalo
Coaching - Senators
Intangibles - Senators

Prediction: Senators, 4-1

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

You are welcome to post your thoughts on the message boards at:
http://www.sportscentralboards.com

====================================================

|-- FEATURE ARTICLE --|

Back in the Show - Hopefully, For Good

He was the rookie pitching sensation of 2000. The kid with the mid-90's fastball and an unhittable sinking curveball. Then came the 2000 playoffs, and a very public meltdown. After a disastrous start to 2001, Rick Ankiel was dispatched to the rookie-only, short-season Appalachian League. Now, Ankiel is back in the show, looking to nail a spot in the Cardinals rotation. If guts, determination, talent, and work ethic are any indication of success, Rick Ankiel is going to be a vital part of the 2002 National League Champion St Louis Cardinals.

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By Mike Round

Sometimes, along comes a sports story that really shakes you up. Something you weren't expecting, that didn't seem pre-ordained and that is so painful to watch, you really feel the person's agony. Not injuries sure, they make grim viewing, but are part and parcel of sports. I'm talking individual destruction, on a scale that has you transfixed to such an extent you swear you can actually feel the player's humiliation. You don't want to look, but like driving past an auto accident, you just can't help it. It happens rarely, but it happened to Rick Ankiel, the celebrated Cardinal pitcher. And it happened on national television.

After a promising first full regular season in 2000, where he went 13-7 with a 3.50 ERA, Ankiel headed into the NLDS against Atlanta as the Game 1 starter. He disintegrated in front of the nation, throwing 66 pitches with only 32 for strikes and walking four of the eight batters he faced. The most telling statistic was his five wild pitches. The control was gone. And, as of now, it's yet to fully return.

Ankiel has lived in the media glare since coming out of high school in 1997. He made the majors with less than 300 minor league innings behind him. Until the 2000 postseason, he seemed unfazed. Even now, he retains his composure and says the right things, in true Bull Durham style. He's not going to drink or drug binge his way through this episode.

Ankiel has faced difficulties before, coming from a broken home, seeing his father jailed for drug trafficking and facing charges of petty theft and criminal mischief before the age of 14. But baseball helped him through it. This time, baseball is the problem.

All the right noises are coming out of Card's spring training about Ankiel and his state of mind. That's to be expected Ankiel is the team's prize asset. Hence their kid-gloves treatment last year and the attempt to rebuild his fragile state of mind in the lowest rung of the minors. No wonder Tony La Russa was nervous before his first spring training start against Montreal.

The 22-year-old gave up five runs in two innings. It was a jittery return, but not without positives. 30 of his 47 pitches were strikes. He warmed to his task in the second inning and earned plaudits from his manager.

"It was a positive outing," manager Tony La Russa said. "The idea was to watch how the at-bats take place and how the innings are pitched. What matters is what he thinks. If he knows it was as good as we thought it was, it's a big step in the right direction."

Ankiel admitted he was nervous and that's understandable. This isn't a mechanical problem it's mental. Only Ankiel can cure himself. Anyone who has seen the great baseball movie "For the Love of the Game," and watched how Kevin Costner's veteran pitcher shuts out the distractions of the ball park with his tunnel vision, will realize that mental preparation and attitude are half the pitching battle.

The Cards will remain patient, because they can afford to be. The rotation doesn't live or die by Ankiel, not with Matt Morris, Woody Williams, Darryl Kile, Garrett Stephenson, Andy Benes, and Bud Smith competing for spots. La Russa would like the lefties Smith and Ankiel to make it, but won't force it if neither look the part by April. The bullpen is strong, too, beefed up by the signing of Jason Isringhausen from the A's.

The Cards have a pitching depth that no team, even the Braves, can rival in the NL. And the offense, strong last year, projects to be even better this, even without Big Mac. McGwire had become a distraction by season's end, and he honorably called it a career.

Meanwhile, Tino Martinez brings his 100 RBI's and 30 homeruns, not to mention four WS rings, to St Louis to take a legend's place, as he did in New York with Don Mattingly. He'll fit perfectly batting sixth, behind 2001 NL Rookie of the Year Albert Pujols, J.D. Drew and Jim Edmonds.

Even in the strong NL Central, the Cards stand out as the pick. The Cards took Arizona to the wire in last year's playoffs, and want revenge. The whole Cards organization is rooting for Ankiel, from his teammates to the front office and the fans probably the best and most knowledgeable baseball fans in the country.

"I think everyone looks out for him," C Mike Matheny said. "I'm out there, I'll help any way that I can. He's a teammate and a friend, and you want to help him succeed for both reasons."

"You don't want to make a big deal out of the stuff that is happening," second baseman Fernando Vina added. "You just watch him and hope his great arm and ability will come together for him."

I'm rooting for him, too. The guy has guts to go with his talent. When the Cards face the Yankees in the 2002 World Series, I'm hoping Rick Ankiel is in the rotation.

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Send us your feedback:
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Special thanks to our newsletter editor, Lee Manchur! Visit his web site:

GPCI Online - http://im.pein.org/gph
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(Thanks for reading! Next issue set to come out on 03/24/02.)

Contents copyright 1998-2002 Sports Central.
No part of this newsletter may be reproduced without permission.
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