Your morning roundup for June 9, the day we thanked our lucky stars we weren't hitting coaches.

What we watched: Yes, Boston did shut Vancouver out, 4-0, to tie the series at two games. Yes, the Bruins did chase Luongo early enough that he could have left Logan before the team charter. But, most importantly, as seen above, Tim Thomas took a wood polycarbonate axe to the legs of Alexandre Burrows. Many Bruins would have rather seen retaliation against Burrows after his "Chomp, chomp, I've arrived" moment in Game 1. But if you're hunting for symbolism, it matters a great deal more that it happened last night, because Burrows' teammates are visibly tired of his shit. Look at the Sedins milling about, halfheartedly restraining Chara and Co. as Burrows gets thumped iceward. If there's an "it," Thomas and Boston have it and the Canucks don't. Boston leads Vancouver, 2-2. (Jack Dickey)

What we're watching: These spectacular photos of old-timey horse racing. The Belmont Stakes is Saturday, and since no one has a shot at a Triple Crown, no one's going to pay much attention. It's hard to lament the wheezing drawn-out death of thoroughbred racing, whose decline coincided with the rise of television and the realization that ball sports are much more exciting, more sustained. But it's easy to miss the world it created, an incongruous mix of felt hats and cigars and rumpled suits and money and desperation and hope and despair going neck and neck down the stretch. Racing remains one of the few sports where good writing can transcend the sports page to become drama, an honor shared only by boxing, and on a very few occasions, basketball. But those will always be human endeavors, with human emotions. The lithe freight trains that are thoroughbreds are unthinking, unfeeling beasts of burden, with more than enough strength to carry the projections of bettors and writers. The bettors and writers will always come to the sport, and it will survive because of them. But once upon a time there were fans. (Barry Petchesky)


Love, Canseco style (part 1):

Do this: "Varsity Letters sports reading series returns on Thursday, June 9, at 7:30 p.m., at Manhattan's Le Poisson Rouge. At this free monthly event, hosted by Gelf, James Andrew Miller, co-author of a heavily anticipated oral history of ESPN, will read from and talk about his book. Then he'll be joined in a freewheeling discussion about the book and sports media by ESPN columnist Jemele Hill and Sports Illustrated sports-media writer Richard Deitsch." [Gelf]


Breaking: Columnist does not think one bad basketball game was a crucible for LeBron James's manhood: "There is something off in the way James is being treated by his critics. Yes, he had a pass-first mentality and lacked aggressiveness in the fourth quarter of the last couple of games, as he himself admitted. But there is a weird overreaction going on here. James is being punished by those who found something unmanly in his decision to leave Cleveland and accept less money to share the limelight and the ball with Wade and Bosh in Miami. His failure to score down the stretch has been taken by his critics as proof of this central weakness. There must be something wrong with a guy who doesn't want to go all ball-hog." [Washington Post]

LeBron James is a...: "No, LeBron is a wing. This guy, for all his gifts, still remains a wing. Perhaps the greatest ever, someday, but a wing nevertheless. And wings need help, because this still isn't a game that wings can easily take over to a championship standard, in spite of what we've seen over the last 25 years, with MJ leading to Kobe leading to Wade leading to LeBron. This is what Jordan did to us, making us believe that wings can take over games and win championships from not just the outside in, but the outside and to-the-side inwards. What we're forgetting, as we obsess over the last 20 years of a professional sport that is 65-years in, is that Jordan and to a lesser extent Kobe Bryant are aberrations. And that Dwyane Wade's remarkable turn in perhaps the best NBA Finals performance ever in 2006 was an aberration, not unlike the 44-win Washington Bullets and 47-win Seattle SuperSonics meeting in the 1978 NBA Finals." [Ball Don't Lie]

Gregg Doyel's hate mailbox is expanding: "I'm not a bit surprised you ripped LeBron. I was actually wondering, ‘What will he write about to garner attention to his lackluster columns?' Lo and behold ... you're a trending topic on Twitter and most sports blogs. Also, could you dress better? I can't take you seriously with the way you dress.'" [CBS Sports]


More juju: "The Mavericks, with 250 slaps, hugs, taps or bumps, are almost twice as touchy-feely as the Heat, who had only 134 instances of televised contact. In those three games, the Mavericks were 82% more likely to high five." [WSJ]

Love, Canseco style (part 2):

Why Bryce Harper matters: "However, I'd go farther still and say that Harper is even more important than Passan lets on precisely because he's a budding star who must be discussed in terms of what it's like to watch him play rather than just how much he produces. One side effect of the sabermetric revolution has been that most baseball stars are talked about almost exclusively in terms of their production (and rightfully so, because, well, they're awesome at the sport). That trend has been compounded by the fact that a lot of today's best hitters are stylistic vaccuums (see: Albert Pujols, Joey Votto, and Ryan Braun, to name three) incapable of being described in terms other than 'steady' and 'really good.' The upshot of these factors is that discussion of the sport tends to shy away from treating baseball like a spectator sport and instead turns it into a confluence of events. That's not to say that people don't like watching baseball anymore; it's just that we discuss what happened without spending much energy on describing how it happened." [Pitchers & Poets]

Batshit sports cards from 1887, explained: "Baseball was an important part of American life in 1887, though the rules were very different. 'Batters' got their names from the wooden sticks they used to fend off rabid dogs while standing in the 'batter's box.' 'Batters' then got 'drilled like Custer at Little Big Horn' by the 'pitcher,' often while a huge man in a striped fez peered over the horizon at them in silent judgment of their deeds. And no one, we repeat NO ONE was better at taking a base-ball to the chest than the Irish James O'Neil! He endured over 1,800 balls pitched before succumbing to a combination of the pleurisy and being devoured by wolves in a match in Framingham, Massachusetts. As Mitch Albom wrote at the time: 'Let's ban the eating!'" [SBNation]

John Jeremiah Sullivan goes to Disney World: "That night in our suite at the Disney hotel — not a theme hotel, just your standard luxury resort-dorm — the kids ran psychotically repetitive figure eights. A small child on Disneying Eve is a thoroughbred before the gates open. I watched my wife and Shell sit talking and laughing at the illuminated laminate kitchenette counter. Shell, who runs a garden center, still looks exactly as she did when we met her, a hippie soccer mom, with pretty German features and long dirty-blond hair, whose face will break from affectlessness into sudden disarming smiles. She had a deep history with Disney, something I hadn't known. She described being brought there as a child, with her sisters, and the way their father, a career military man, rushed them through the park, insisting they go on every ride, maximizing their fun-dollar. At noon they went back to the parking lot, into the van. There they ate prepacked lunches. Then they all napped. 'All five of you?' All five, mother, father and three girls, in an Econoline. Forty-five minutes of silence. Then back to the park. 'You did this every year?' They did it twice a year, in spring and fall, knocking down the attractions like obstacles on a high-speed course, never repeating. The detail of the van naps drew me in. I imagined being a child and lying awake when others were sleeping, the strangeness of that silence." [NYT Mag]

Love, Canseco style (part 3):

Gilbert Arenas is Lenny Bruce: "When informed of the fine, the Magic point guard took to — you guessed it — Twitter to express his frustration: 'yesthe nba has fined me....for being to i can give you the shoes for FREE but gotta charge you for the jokes... i cant believe i got do i explain this to the lady at the bank...this is gonna take another 40mins... or i could just write a check and if theres a lockout just cancel the check it and maybe they will forget.....i think that will work..'" [Orlando Sentinel]


We are all Dave McKenna CXXV: Here's your daily link to Dave McKenna's brilliant "Cranky Redskins Fan's Guide to Dan Snyder," which we'll be posting until Snyder's dumbass libel suit gets eaten by termites.

Your morning freestyle canoe interlude:

You have to be fucking kidding me: "Fascinating topic by @ESPN_Colin on #ESPN radio today: athletes raised w strong father figures r best leaders. MJ-yes, LeBron-no. Thoughts?" [@sagesteele]


Shut up, Boston: "You know what everyone really hates? When Boston fans complain about The Drought. The Bruins haven't won a Stanley Cup since 1972. Old-timers get weepy for Orr and Esposito and Bucyk, wish for one more Cup before they die. ... You sound like the douchebag who bitches that, after the three-bedroom in Tribeca, the place in the Hamptons, the kids' boarding school, the annual trips to Paris and Aruba, the four cars, and two alimonies, you've barely got enough left for that third bottle of Dom at Per Se." [GQ]

Love, Canseco style (part 4):

Yeah, no shit: "There have been close to 4,000 comments made on a story about the decision to disqualify Los Angeles Loyola pole vaulter Evan Barr last weekend at the state track and field championships when he uttered a profanity at the conclusion of a jump. That DQ cost the Cubs a state title. I spoke to Barr by phone on Wednesday, and he said he understands what the officials did. 'I was just really frustrated that I wasn't able to continue,' he said." [LAT]


A.J. Burnett will not be taking any more questions: "'I'm not in Toronto (anymore), so I'm tired of hearing about all that,' said Burnett, who fell to 0-4 in eight starts against the Red Sox as a Yankee after his team lost, 11-6, on Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium. 'That's just retarded. If anything was different I made pitches when I was with Toronto, and I didn't make pitches tonight. That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard.'" [ESPN New York]

A tale of two ballers from Oakland: Although Kidd and Rider both played on the Alameda hardwood, they came from completely different worlds. Kidd wasn't an island native; he grew up in the Oakland hills, went to private schools, and was raised in a seemingly stable home. Rider, on the other hand, had a much more troubled upbringing. To an outsider, he had everything; but he lived in one of Alameda's only housing projects and his home life was consumed by chaos... Today, as Kidd attempts to guide his team to the pinnacle of his sport, an NBA championship, Rider's life is in shambles, his fall from grace one of the steepest in Bay Area sports history. [East Bay Express]

Love, Canseco style (part 5):