From Monday, May 16, 2016, the New York Yankees went west for 7 games: 3 in Arizona vs the Diamondbacks and 4 in Oakland vs the A\’s.
The trip didn\’t start well. In pitcher Chad Green\’s ML debut, the rookie pitched only 4 innings, allowing 6 runs, 4 earned. D-backs pitcher Robbie Ray went 7 innings, allowing only 2 runs. D-backs Jake Lamb was 3-4 with a three run bomb and finished a triple shy of the cycle. The final score was 12-2 D-backs. The next game wasn\’t much better. Yanks pitcher Michael Pineda went 5 innings, allowing the same amount of runs, falling to Zack Greinke, who had 7 innings of 3 run ball as the D-backs win the series with a 5-3 win.
Luckily, the losing stopped there. After a lead off double, Yanks starter Nathan Eovaldi retired 18 straight, going 6, only allowing 1 run. Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury were involved in all the Yankees\’ runs as they avoided the sweep, winning 4-2.
In Oakland, Pitcher Ivan Nova went 6 innings allowing 1 run and the offense scored 4 runs again as the Yanks take the opener 4-1. In the next game, pitcher C.C. Sabathia allowed one run in 6 innings in his return off the disabled list and the offense, lead by Carlos Beltran and his 3 RBI doubles, score 8 runs as the Yanks win again, taking it by a score of 8-3. In the next one, Masahiro Tanaka went 7 innings, allowing just 1 run. Rob Refsnyder had an RBI double in his season debut, as the Yankees take the first three, beating Oakland by a score of 5-1.
In the last game, the Yankees tried to take their first 4 game series sweep in Oakland since 1979. It also would be their first sweep this year. In the game, with the Yanks up 2-1, a two run double by Stephen Vogt gave the A\’s a 3-2 lead. But the Yankees answered back. RBI singles by Mark Teixeira and Starlin Castro gave the Yanks a 4-3 lead. It was Teixeira\’s only hit on the trip. Both teams scored another run as the final score was 5-4 Yanks.
On the trip, the Yanks had 5 straight quality starts, all during their wins. On the streak, the starters went 31 innings, allowing just 7 runs.
Today I had the pleasure to interview New York Islanders radio color commentator Greg Picker. Here are some of the questions I asked him.
Q1: How long have you been working for the Islanders?
A: 4 years. First in the the public relations department and now full time on the radio.
Q2: How did you get the idea that you wanted to be a NHL broadcaster?
A: Going back to when I was 5 or 6 years old I used to play on the nintendo 64 and broadcast those games. This used to drive my brother crazy.
Q3: How did you become a broadcaster?
A: I was a broadcaster at Boston University for men and women\’s sports.
Q4: Who was your favorite player growing up?
A: New York Islanders\’ Michael Peca.
Q5: What is your second favorite sport?
A: Soccer. I\’ve never played it but it\’s fun to watch.
Q6: What is your second favorite NHL team?
A: Whoever plays the Rangers.
Q7: Who is your favorite non-Islander to watch?
A: P.K. Subban. He really electrifies the crowd in Montreal.
Q8: What is the best game you ever broadcasted?
A: Game 6 OT winner of round 1 of this year. Also, the most special game was when Michael Grabner scored an OT winner in Colorado in 2014. It was my first game doing play by play.
Q9: What is 1 thing you want the Islanders to do this offseason?
A: Re-sign two of the three UFAs. ( Frans Nielson, Kyle Okposo, Matt Martin. )
Q10: What is the most tongue twisting name you had to say as a broadcaster?
A: Jryki Jokipakka of the Calgary Flames.
Q11: How do you like Barclays Center?
A: It\’s not the Coliseum but I really like it. The broadcasters sit really close to the ice and we feel like we are part of the crowd.
Q12: Who wins the Stanley Cup this year?
A: The Penguins. Even though they are losing 1-0, they\’ve been the best team in the NHL since February.
On Friday, May 6, 2016, the New York Yankees started a weekend series vs their archenemy, the Boston Red Sox. The pitching matchup was the struggling Michael Pineda for the Yankees and Rick Porcello for the Red Sox. Porcello\’s last start was against the Yankees and he threw 7 shut out innings for his 5th win to improve to 5-0. The Yankees looking to hand Porcello his first loss. In the first inning of the game, David Ortiz hits a 2 run home run to make it 2-0 Red Sox lead. The bomb was Ortiz\’s 510th career homer, passing Gary Sheffield for number 25 on the all time list. In the bottom of the first, Jacoby Ellsbury steals second after a lead off walk. Then, when the ball gets away from catcher Christian Vazquez, Ellsbury advances to third. On the play, it appears something\’s wrong with Ellsbury but he stays on third. The next batter, Brian McCann, then doubled home Ellsbury to cut the lead in half 2-1. In the top of the second, Dustin Ackley comes out on the field in stead of Ellsbury. In the bottom of the second, with runners on first and second, Ackley in his first at bat of the game gets a base hit, scoring Starlin Castro, but Ronald Torreyes is thrown out at third to end the inning but the Yanks tie it 2-2. In the bottom of the 4th, it was announced a hip injury for Ellsbury. Still no score or major excitement but in the top of the 7th, lefthander Chasen Shreve replaced Pineda. Shreve allowed a double and got a bunt out until Kirby Yates replaced him. Yates then got out of the inning. In the bottom of the 7th, with Porcello still in the game, Aaron Hicks hit his first home run as a Yankee to give them a 3-2 lead. In the top of the 8th, Ben Gamel replaced Ackley as a defensive replacement, making his MLB debut. Also, Dellin Betances replaced Yates as pitcher. The Red Sox immediately test Gamel, as Ortiz flied out to him. Betances struck out Hanley Ramirez and allowed a single to Travis Shaw. Closer Andrew Miller then replaced him for the four out save. Former Yankee Chris Young pinch hit for Brock Holt to face Miller. He walked Young then got out Jackie Bradley. Tommy Layne then came in the game for Porcello. In the top of the ninth, with bases loaded and one out, David Ortiz had the chance to be the hero. On a 3-1 count, a pitch that appeared outside is a called strike, leading to Red Sox manager John Farrell being ejected by Ron Kulpa, the home plate ump. Ortiz then was called out on strikes on the next pitch and then Kulpa ejects him. The next batter, Hanley Ramirez then struck out to end the game as the Yankees win 3-2. Kirby Yates gets the win, his first decision in Pinstripes. Rick Porcello gets a win, declining his record to 5-1. Andrew Miller got the save, but will stop getting then soon as Aroldis Chapman will come back from suspension.
On Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016, the New York Islanders faced the Tampa Bay Lightning in game 3 of a 1-1 series. With Josh Bailey back from injury, coach Jack Capuano decides to play Bailey who had a bad round 1 for Ryan Strome, who is having a good postseason. The Lightning continue to do their regular thing: play 7 defenseman and 11 fowards. When the Islanders won a faceoff just outside their offensive zone, a dumped in puck by Travis Hamonic hits off the stick of Nikolay Kulemin and goes right in front of the net where Bailey
comes from behind the net and buries the puck. It\’s Bailey\’s first goal of the playoffs and first in his past 22 games, from Kulemin and Hamonic. Late in the period, with Tampa Bay on the powerplay, a point shot from Alex Killorn is deflected in by Ryan Callahan with only 13 seconds to go. It\’s Callahan\’s first from Killorn and Valtteri Filppula. In the second period, when Jonathan Drouin skates up the ice with the puck, Thomas Hickey gives him a crushing hit. Drouin went straight to the locker room. He would later return. Later in the period, a offensive faceoff win for Tyler Johnson goes to Victor Hedman and a slapshot by Hedman finds the back of the net. 2-1 Tampa. That wasn\’t all as Nick Leddy\’s shot gets passed Ben Bishop and the game is tied. Early in the third period, Bailey scores again and the Islanders lead 3-2. Not much later, Vladislav Namestnikov ties up the game at 3. Later in the game, Cal Clutterbuck scores using his outstanding shot to give the Islanders a 4-3 lead. The game\’s next shot was from Bailey looking for the Hatrick but Ben Bishop makes the save of the night, robbing Bailey. With the goalie pulled, Nikita Kucherov ties it up. The game then went to overtime and a dirty hit by Brian Boyle on Thomas Hickey turns the puck over and then after Hedman\’s shot goes wide, Boyle gets the carom and ends the game 5-4 Lightning. Capuano\’s move to play Bailey over Strome worked but the Isles fall to the Lightning and are trailing the series 2-1.
The Calder trophy finalists for the rookie of the year has been announced. The finalists are the Philadelphia Flyers\’ Shayne Gostisbehere, the Blackhawks\’ Artemi Panarin and the the Oilers\’ Connor McDavid. The biggest question is: who\’s going to win it?
Gostisbehere, 23, had played only two games last year and was a -2. In his real rookie season, Gostisbehere 17 goals, 29 assists for 46 points in only 64 games. He also had 2 points in the Flyers brief 6 game playoff run where they barely scored as a team. Also, if Gostisbehere, who is also a defenseman, wasn\’t called up from the AHL, the Flyers most likely would not have made it to the playoffs.
Panarin, 24, had 30 goals, 47 assists for 77 points this year in his first NHL season after many in the KHL. He had 7 points in the Blackhawks\’ 7 playoff games. Panarin might not have earned 100% of his points though. His linemate, Patrick Kane, had 106 points in the regular season. Also lots of Kane\’s goals that Panarin had assists on were efforts all made by Kane.
McDavid, 19, had 16 goals and 32 assists for 48 points. McDavid sustained a broken collarbone early this season which kept him out for months. McDavid returned after the all-star break an earned himself a chance to win the an award on a struggling Oilers team.
Personally, I would say the winner is Gostisbehere. To be on a team that without him wouldn\’t have made the playoffs, Gostisbehere makes sense for a winner. He also was a defenseman who scored 17 goals and had a 15 game point streak. Panarin was playing with a star and McDavid missed half the season. That\’s why I don\’t think they\’ll win.