Your morning roundup for June 7, the day Anna Kournikova turns 30. (Yes, only.)
What we watched: Not at all what we were expecting, because what we were expecting was blood. After Burrows's bite and the Canucks' complete outclassing of the Bruins in the first two games, we expected a chippy game 3. And just five minutes in, after Aaron Rome traded his series eligibility for Nathan Horton's health, we expected a Boston massacre. Vancouver essentially traded a physical-yet-unskilled defenseman for the Bruins' second-leading scorer, and they would make that trade any day. The TD Garden was ready for retribution, or maybe a lynching. It was about to get ugly.
And it did get ugly, but on the scoresheet. Boston completed their checks, but they also played hockey. Good, smart hockey, still trying to score, all the while the Canucks shied away from contact. Vancouver was expecting revenge, and it showed - they were skittish, they were hesitant to carry the puck over the blue line, and every time they chased the puck into a corner, they heard footsteps. That fear, that deterrent of payback is always more effective than actually exacting the payback. And they couldn't do much but stand idly by as Boston lit the lamp eight times, a much sweeter revenge than any open ice hit.
What we're watching: The recapture of our national pride. We lost a bit of it on Sunday, with an embarrassing 4-0 friendly loss to Spain. It could have been worse: it should have been 5-0, and Spain didn't field a full lineup, and they took their foot off the pedal in the second half. Basically, we got spanked, and I'm not sure how that helped the USMNT prepare for the Gold Cup.
But the Gold Cup is here, and before we prove ourselves an international soccer power, we need to reaffirm ourselves as a regional power. While we may struggle in Azteca, if you tune in to tonight's game, I guarantee a rush of patriotism: we're not losing to Canada. Which isn't so much the point: the Gold Cup is nice, but it has nothing to do with Brazil 2014. That qualifying starts this Fall, so this summer of soccer will be all about determining the roster. And we kick it off with a full-strength squad, against our timid yet friendly neighbors to the north. USA! USA!
Inconsistent discipline is going to cost someone their career soon: "Remember Game 1, when Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron got into a tussle with Canucks forward Alex Burrows? There's just no other way to put this: Burrows bit Bergeron's finger. You saw it, I saw it, anybody with access to a television or computer saw it. But Mike Murphy, vice president of hockey operations for the NHL, could "find no conclusive evidence" of a bite. And so Burrows, an NHL pardon in his hip pocket, naturally put on a one-man show in the Canucks' 3-2 victory in Game 2, including scoring the overtime clincher. And then the Bruins last night dressed tough guy Shawn Thornton, who needed only a couple of minutes to find Burrows in the corner and deliver a hard hit. It was soon thereafter, at 5:07 of the first period, when Rome put his hit on Horton, who fell to the ice in a heap." [Boston Herald, screengrab via]
Bobby Knight speaks truth to stupidity: "I understand what's happened [at Ohio State] and there was a rule that was violated," Knight said. "But it was an idiotic rule.I think this NCAA that we're currently involved with is so far out of touch with the integrity of the sport that it's just amazing." [AP]
Mama, there goes that man … to Oakland: "As a coach, strategist and day-to-day manager of an often rocky locker room, broadcaster Mark Jackson is a total blank slate, an unknown, a great leap of faith. … 'You want to have a guy who's strong enough to be in charge,' general manager Larry Riley said Monday night. 'Mark has a strong personality — not abrasive, but he has a strong personality and should have the right mix to be able to lead our team.'" [Mercury News]
Why NBA games have the worst crowds in sports: "The Mavericks' equipment involves more than simply pumping up decibels to levels that some experts fear could contribute to long-term hearing loss, although science is not solid on the extent. Rather, with fans spoiled by earbud fidelity and 5.1-channel home theater systems, owners like the Mavericks' Mark Cuban have turned hosting a game into producing an event — with 'assisted resonance' and 'crowd enhancement' buzzwords for some and euphemisms for others." [NY Times]
Hoopism brings the graphically illustrated knowledge: "With the exception of the 1967 Sixers, all the rings were relatively similar for the first three decades. Starting in the 80′s the rings got more bling, becoming increasingly more elaborate from year to year. Thus, it is easy to see at a glance which teams won their championships recently (Spurs/Bulls), which teams haven't won a championship in several decades (Knicks), and which teams have a mix (Lakers, Celtics). Also, we found it interesting that 43 of the 64 championships have come from just four teams (Celtics, Lakers, Bulls, Spurs)." [Hoopism]
Nadal becomes self-aware: "He has adapted, improved, evolved. Somehow, Nadal has made his game beautiful. Where there was once only slug and grunt and run, Nadal's poetry is now as tough and supple as anything the game has ever seen. Once thought of as nothing but la brute, a player even DFW disdained as a muscle-bound baseliner preening in a sleeveless tee, Nadal has continually remade himself in the game. He plays smarter, subtler angles, both off the groundstroke and on his serve, and softens his attack in the manner of a judo master turning an opponent's energy back on itself. Whereas he used to shy from the net as though it were an electric fence, he now slides with confidence and purpose. Like an intelligent machine out of science fiction, he learned these things from Federer in order to destroy him." [ESPN]
The Denver Post is seeking Tebowlovers: "We're working on a story about the appeal that Tim Tebow has with teenage and younger women. Our question is: Why? What's so fascinating about him? If you're in this demographic, contact our reporter." [Facebook, via The Big Lead]
Your morning freestyle canoe interlude:
Dead Man Slapping: "Marshall Tames, a 67-year-old Athletic Director at Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn, was arrested and charged with assault last week for allegedly slapping a female security guard when she didn't let him pass a checkpoint at the school quickly enough. According to witnesses, Tames demanded that the guard let him through a metal detector, but when she instructed him to wait, Tames grew angry and slapped her. Oh, and add this to the Tames mix: The guy could totally be a zombie. During a high school football game last year, Tames died of a heart attack, but was revived by a former Erasmus student." [Gothamist]
Continuing Deadspin coverage of ESPN's Grantland countdown clock: This is how it looked at 9:23 a.m.
We are all Dave McKenna CXXIII: Here's your daily link to Dave McKenna's omnibus "Cranky Redskins Fan's Guide to Dan Snyder," which we'll be posting until Snyder's dumbass libel suit gets whacked in the Pine Barrens.
Fuck you, Ken Burns: "These are important realities to grasp about the Civil War, but addressing them head on would muddy Burns' neat story of heroism, fraternity, reunion, and freedom. It would also mean a dramatically reduced role for Foote, the film's de facto star. Foote's wonderful stories and synopses of the war's meaning, which manage to be at once pithy and vague, cast a spell on the viewer. When Foote tells us that 'the Civil War defined us as what we are and … opened us to being what we became, good and bad things,' we may not be quite sure what he means. But his accent, his beard, and his hint of sadness incline us to think there must be profound depths in his tortured language." [Slate; earlier on Deadspin]