Posts Tagged ‘NHL playoffs’

The Cleveland Cavaliers didn’t show any rust coming off their 9 day lay off as they easily handled the Toronto Raptors in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals 115-84. The Cavaliers put up 33 points in the 1st quarter to take a 5-point lead 33-28. They followed that up with a 33 point 2nd quarter to really extend the lead going into halftime to 66-44. Still pressing in the 3rd quarter the Cavaliers added 6 points to the lead by outscoring the Raptors 29-23 in the 3rd. With a 95-67 heading into the 4th quarter the Cavaliers still outscored the Raptors in the quarter 20-17 to get the game to the 115-84 final and a 1-0 lead in the series.

Kyrie Irving led the Cavaliers with 27 points and handed out a team high 5 assists. LeBron James shot 11 for 13 from the field on his way to a 24 point night. Kevin Love was the only other Cleveland player to score in double figures with 14 points. Richard Jefferson came off the Cavaliers bench to lead the team in rebounding with 11. The Cavaliers went 41 of 74 (55.4%) from inside the 3-point line in the victory.

Toronto was led by DeMar DeRozan with 18 points. DeRozan also tied for the team lead in assists with Kyle Lowry at 5 apiece.  Bismack Biyombo made every shot he took as he went 5 for 5 from the field and made both his free throw attempts for 12 points. Biyombo also tied for the team lead in rebounds with Lowry and James Johnson at 4. Johnson also came off the Raptors bench to add 10 points. In comparison to  Cleveland’s 55.4% the Raptors shot just 42.1% from inside the 3-point line going 32 for 76.

Game 2 will be tomorrow (Thursday) night in Cleveland. Do the Raptors have a chance to even the series? or will the Cavaliers make it 10 straight playoff victories this season?

If you listened to the Sports Time radio podcast yesterday (Tuesday) I was convinced that the Los Angeles Lakers would move up in the NBA Draft Lottery and get the #1 overall pick. I was wrong; not only didn’t the Lakers move up no one did. The Philadelphia 76ers had the best chance to get the #1 pick and they did. The Lakers stayed at 2 with the Boston Celtics at #3 on a pick they acquired from the Brooklyn Nets. The Phoenix Suns have two lottery picks and the first one is at #4. The Minnesota Timberwolves are at #5 with the New Orleans Pelicans at #6. The Denver Nuggets will pick 6th as they picked up this pick in a deal with the New York Knicks. The Sacramento Kings will pick 8th while the Raptors have the well traveled 9th pick as it was originally owned by Denver, but was sent to the Knicks and then to Toronto. The Milwaukee Bucks are at #10 with Orlando Magic at #11 and Utah Jazz at #12. The Suns show up again at #13 with a pick they acquired from the Washington Wizards. The Chicago Bulls round out the lottery with the 14th pick. The draft will be held in Brooklyn at Barclays Center on Thursday, June 23, 2016.

Both the Eastern and Western Conference finals in the NHL are tied at 1-1. The Pittsburgh Penguins used a quick goal by Sidney Crosby in overtime of Game 2 on Monday to tie up the series with the Tampa Bay Lighting. The series now shifts to Tampa Bay’s Amalie Arena for tonight’s Game 3 and Friday nights Game 4.

Tommy Wingels put the San Jose Sharks up 1-0 in the 1st period of last nights game against the St. Louis Blues. Brent Burns had a power play goal in the 2nd period to make it 2-0 Sharks. Burns added another power play goal at the start of the 3rd period and then a Dainius Zubrus empty net goal made it 4-0 as the Sharks evened the series with the Blues. The series will head out west to San Jose’s SAP Center for Game 3 on Thursday and then Game 4 on Saturday night.

The suspensions where handed down by Major League Baseball (MLB) for the bench clearing brawl in Sunday’s Texas Rangers/Toronto Blue Jays game. To no one’s surprise Roughned Odor got the longest suspension of anyone at 8 games. I was quite surprised to hear that Jose Bautista received just a 1 game suspension. I really thought that Bautista would end up getting something in the 3 to 5 game area, but it turned out to be just 1. Blue Jays manager John Gibbons got a 3 game suspension. Remember Gibbons had been ejected earlier in the game and came back out on the field during the fight. Blue Jays 1st base coach Tim Leiper also got a 1 game suspension as he was also ejected, but came back out onto the field when the fight broke out. The other suspension I was a little surprised by was the 3 game one Jesse Chavez got. While Chavez did hit Prince Fielder in retaliation I thought 3 games was a little high for that. Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus was the other player to receive a suspension; he got 1 game. While Toronto’s Josh Donaldson and Rangers bench coach Steve Buechele where both ejected during the brawl they weren’t suspended, but where fined. It appears as Odor will be accessed the largest fine at a reported $5000. There where four other players who where just fined for the parts in the brawl. Rangers pitchers San Dyson, A.J. Griffin and Matt Bush; who hit Bautista along with catcher Robinson Chirinos where all fined as was Toronto outfielder Kevin Pillar.

The Rangers series clinching victory Sunday was the final regular season meeting between the two clubs. A feud had been simmering between the teams since Bautista’s bat flip in last year’s American League Division Series.

Fredi Gonzalez became the first manager to get fired this season as the 9-28 Atlanta Braves made the move before their game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday night. Brian Snitker, manager of Atlanta’s Triple-A Gwinnett farm team, will replace Gonzalez as the Braves’ interim manager through the end of the season. Snitker was Atlanta’s third-base coach from 2006 to 2013. Snitker also had two stints with Atlanta as the bullpen coach in 1985 and from 1988 to 1990. Gonzalez learned he was likely to be fired about an hour after Monday night’s loss, when he received an automated email from an airline notifying him that he was scheduled to be on a flight from Pittsburgh to Atlanta on Tuesday, even though the Braves are playing the Pirates through Thursday. Braves general manager John Coppolella and president of baseball operations John Hart had planned to inform him Tuesday morning. Gonzalez, 52, managed the Marlins from 2007 to 2010 and was named manager in Atlanta in 2011 after Hall of Famer Bobby Cox retired. He coached third base for the Braves for four years before landing the Marlins job. Gonzalez wasn’t the only one fired. Braves bench coach Carlos Tosca, an assistant under Gonzalez in Atlanta and Miami, was also let go. First-base coach Terry Pendleton, a former Braves great, will become bench coach, with bullpen coach Eddie Perez moving to first. Gwinnett pitching coach Marty Reed will take Perez’s spot.

Former Braves All-Star Chipper Jones is said to not interested in managing the Braves this season,

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We had what has to be considered the first upset in the NBA playoffs. On Thursday the Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the San Antonio Spurs 113-99 to take Game 6 and win that playoffs series 4 games to 2. As Oklahoma City advances to the Western Conference Finals to face the Golden State Warriors the talk turned to what will San Antonio look like next season. The media stupidly wanted an immediate decision from Tim Duncan on if he would be back next season, but of course he didn’t have an answer. Duncan who just turn 40 years of age on April 25th was the #1 pick in the draft by the Spurs in 1997 and has spent the last 19 seasons with the Spurs. Duncan had a down year in 2015-16.San Antonio did what they could to keep Duncan healthy. He played in 61 games and averaged just 25.2 minutes per game which was a career low. Duncan also had his lowest points per game average (8.6) and rebounds per game (7.3) averages in his career. If Duncan does decide to retire he is a sure fire Hall of Fame selection. Duncan won 5 NBA championships with San Antonio and was Finals MVP 3 times. He was a 15 time All-Star and won the MVP of that game 1 time. He was also the league MVP in back to back seasons in 2001-02 and 2002-03. Duncan also won the Rookie of the Year in 1997-98. Besides Duncan the Spurs will also have to wait and see if Manu Ginobili decides to retire. Ginobili will turn 39 on July 28 and just completed his 14th NBA season. Don’t forget Ginobili didn’t start playing in the NBA until he was 25. Ginoblil played professionally in Argentine starting in 1995 before moving to Europe to play in Italy. San Antonio drafted Ginobili drafted in the 2nd round of the 1999 draft, but he choose to stay with his Italian team Kinder Bologna, which he helped win the 2001 Italian Championship, the 2001 and 2002 Italian Cups, and the 2001 Euroleague, where he was named the Euroleague 2000–01 Euroleague Finals MVP.[6] He was also named the Italian League MVP in 2000–01 and 2001–02, and made the Italian League’s All-Star Game three times during this period. Ginobili has won 4 NBA tiles with the Spurs. He is also a 2-time All-Star and was elected 6-Man of the Year in  2008. The 2015-16 season was the first time since his rookie season that Ginobili didn’t average double digit points per game. Will Duncan and Ginobili decide to retire? or will they try to make one more championship run in 2016-17?

Now over in the Eastern Conference it seems as though the Cleveland Cavaliers have been waiting two weeks to find out if they’ll play the Toronto Raptors or Miami Heat in the conference finals. Miami picked up a 103-91 victory on Friday night to force the series to a 7th game. The teams meet Sunday afternoon to decide who will move on t face the Cavaliers. Besides possible to much these playoffs couldn’t of went better for Cleveland. The Cavaliers are a perfect 8-0 in the playoffs with sweeps of the Detroit Pistons in the first round and the Atlanta Hawks in the second round. As the Cavaliers wait for their next opponent you have to wonder what kind of shape that opponent will be in. Hasan Whiteside has a sprained MCL and has already been ruled out of Game 7 against Toronto and who knows if he’ll be ready to play in the conference finals. Luol Deng did play for Miami last night, but took just 5 shots as he’s dealing wit a wrist injury and is less than 100%. If the Heat do advance Deng’s injury will linger through that series. On the Toronto side Jonas Valanciunas left the series in Game 5 with a ankle injury and has been ruled out for the remained of this series. Would that ankle be healthy enough to allow him to play in a series against Cleveland. Also for Toronto Demarre Carroll played just 25 minutes in Game 6 because of a wrist injury. Carroll also took just 4 shots in Game 6. He’ll play in Game 7 and would also play if the Raptors advance, but he’s another player who won’t be 100%. It looks as though no matter which team advances to face Cleveland the Cavaliers are going to have a huge advantage health wise heading into the Eastern Conference Finals.

The NHL is down to just 4 teams and the Tampa Bay Lighting took the first game of the Eastern Conference Finals 3-1 over the Pittsburgh Penguins. It appeared with Steven Stamkos already out for Tampa Bay that Pittsburgh would have an advantage. Then when the Lighting’s Tyler Johnson went knee to knee with the Penguins Chris Kunitz and had to miss some ice time Tampa Bay had to wonder what was next. Sadly for the Lighting what happened next was goaltender Ben Bishop needed to be stretchered off the ice with 7:35 left in the 1st period. It looked as though Bishop caught a skate on the ice and fell awkwardly injuring a knee. It was reported that Bishop’s x-rays where negative for structural damage, but his status for Game 2 in uncertain. Bishop is a Vezina Trophy nominee, but like last seasons playoffs if he’s going to miss time back up  Andrei Vasilevskiy will take over in net. Tampa Bay got out to a 1-0 lead when Alex Killorn scored his 4th goal of the playoffs at 14:46 of the 1st period. The Lighting extended that lead to 3-0 on 2nd period goals by Ondrej Palat at 2:33 of the period and then Jonathan Drouin at 18:25. Pittsburgh picked up it’s only goal of the game in the 2nd period as well when Patric Hornqvist scored at 19:05 of the period. Pittsburgh had 16 shots on goal in the 3rd period, Vasilevskiy turned them all away. For the game he stopped 25 of the 26 shots he faced after replacing Bishop. Game 2 is Monday night in Pittsburgh. The Western Conference Finals doesn’t start until Sunday night and that features the San Jose Sharks and the St. Louis Blues. The Blues have home ice and have reached the Conference finals by knocking off the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks in the 1st round and the #1 seeded Dallas Stars in the 2nd round. San Jose reached the Conference finals by beating the Los Angeles Kings in 5 games and then winning a Game 7 against the Nashville Predators to take that series.

Just to get it a record Dan the Man has picked Pittsburgh to come out of the Eastern conference after they knocked off his Washington Capitals. Dan also likes San Jose to represent the Western Conference in the Stanley Cup finals.

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On the Wednesday edition of Sports Time Radio, Dan the Man made his predictions for every 1st round NHL playoff series. Too be fair, Dan made his picks before any pucks where dropped in last nights games. Here’s who Dan is going with in the 1st round.

The Detroit Red Wings over the Tampa Bay Lighting. Tampa Bay won Game 1, 1-0

The Pittsburgh Penguins over the New York Rangers. Pittsburgh won Game 1, 5-2.

The Chicago Blackhawks over the St. Louis Blues. St. Louis won Game 1, 1-0.

There are 4 Game 1’s tonight and in those series Dan went with.

The Washington Capitals over the Philadelphia Flyers.

The Florida Panthers over the New York Islanders.

The Dallas Stars over the Minnesota Wild.

The Los Angeles Kings over the San Jose Sharks.

There is also a Game 1 on Friday. For that series Dan has:

The Anaheim Ducks over the Nashville Predators.

Do you agree or disagree with Dan? Feel free to leave your comments here or you can let Dan know on the Sports Time Radio podcast Monday – Friday from 5:00 pm until 6:00 pm central live on BlogTalkRadio.com (646)-478-3753

On Twitter @SportsTimeRadio @DanZeeeMan and @Burketime

NBA

The NBA wraps up there regular season tonight and there are still a couple things to be decided. The big story is the Golden State Warriors going for the 73rd win tonight. That would set a new record for wins in a season if they get it. The Warriors play host to the Memphis Grizzlies tonight. Memphis is currently the 7th seed in the Western Conference, but record wise they are tied with the Dallas Mavericks; so a win might be the difference between the Grizzlies opening the playoffs against the San Antonio Spurs (which they would as the 7th seed) or the Oklahoma City Thunder. It will be a difficult game for the Grizzlies to win as Golden State is 38-2 at Oracle Arena this season. Memphis has had it’s share of injuries this season as leading scorer Marc Gasol to a foot injury that ended his season after 52 games. Point guard Mike Conley hasn’t played since March 6th and it doesn’t appear that he’ll play tonight against Golden State. Memphis does still have Zack Randolph (Z-Bo) and Lance Stephenson has played better in Memphis than he has in his stops with the Charlotte Hornets and Los Angeles Clippers. No one expected Golden State to lose to the Boston Celtics or the Minnesota Timberwolves at home, but you have to wonder if Memphis has enough quality healthy players to make this a game. It would be a bit of a surprise if they could and you have to expect that the Warriors will cruise to their 73rd victory and a new NBA record.

Tonight is also the last game in the great career of Kobe Bryant. Bryant’s Los Angeles Lakers host the Utah Jazz. Not only is it an important game because Bryant is ending his 20 year NBA career, but the Jazz find themselves tied for the 8th and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Utah is tied with the Houston Rockets for that final playoff spot and the Rockets hold the tiebreaker over the Jazz. Houston is hosting the Sacramento Kings tonight and if they win they’ll claim that final Western Conference playoff spot, but if the lose they’ll open the door for the Jazz to grab it. I don’t think I can say anything about Bryant that hasn’t already been said. Bryant is an 18 time All-Star and won the MVP of that game 4 times. Bryant has won 5 NBA Championships and was voted finals MVP in 2 of those 5 finals. Surprisingly Bryant won just 1 league MVP Bryant is the 3rd highest scorer in NBA history with 33,583 points trailing only Karl Malone who is 2nd and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar the career scoring leader. Bryant has had his injury issues the last few seasons, but tonight will be his 66th game of the season. He is averaging 16.9 points per game to go along with an average of 3.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game. It’s been a down year for the Lakers as they are 16-65 entering tonight’s game. Since it’s looking like it’s a must have game for the Jazz can Bryant’s teammates send him off with one more win?

NHL

The NHL playoffs start tonight with 3 of the 8 opening round series getting started. On this evenings'(Wednesday) podcast of Sports Time Radio Dan the Man will give you his predictions for the opening round. Not only will he be picking which team he thinks will win the series, but how many games that series will go. Tonight starts with the Detroit Red Wings at the Tampa Bay Lighting followed by the New York Rangers at the Pittsburgh Penquins and the nightcap is the Chicago Blackhawks at the St. Louis Blues. Thursday night start with the Philadelphia Flyers at the Washington Capitals. I can guarantee you that Dan will be taking the Capitals to win this series since they where his pre-season pick to win the Stanley Cup. Then it’s the New York Islanders at the Florida Panthers after that we’ll get the Minnesota Wild at the Dallas Stars with the nightcap being the San Jose Sharks at the Los Angeles Kings. Now the Kings where my pre-season pick to win the Stanley Cup; so will see if Dan picks them to advance. There is one series that won’t open until Friday night as the Nashville Predators are at the Anaheim Ducks for their Game 1 while the other teams that play tonight will be playing their Game 2. I haven’t heard why the Nashville/Anaheim series is starting later than the other ones, but I guess they’ll all even out down the line. Since you’ll be able to get Dan’s picks tonight; who do you have winning the Stanley Cup?

NASCAR

Kyle Busch took the win Saturday night in the Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. With the win Busch joined Jimmie Johnson as the only drivers with 2 victories this season. Busch got the win with Dale Earnhardt Jr. finishing 2nd, Joey Logano who was the pole sitter finished 3rd, Johnson came home 4th and rookie Chase Elliott rounded out the Top 5 in 5th place. The Sprint cup drivers are headed to Bristol Motor Speedway for Sunday’s Food City 500. Can Busch or Johnson be the first guy to get his 3rd win this season or might we see someone new get their 1st win of the season and qualify for The Chase. Of course we might also see Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin or Brad Keslowski get their 2nd victory of the season.

Tony Stewart was awarded the Major General Thomas Sadler Award while the Sprint Cup series was at Texas Motor Speedway. Stewart received the award for his charitable contributions to the Texas chapter of the Speedway Children’s Charities organization. During Stewart’s acceptance speech fans had hoped that he might reveal when he would return to the #14 car. However Stewart did give any timetable for his return. He suffered a serious back injury in an all-terrain vehicle accident just prior to the start of the season and has been out of the driver’s seat recovering. Stewart made it clear in his speech that he looked forward to being back in the car competing alongside those active drivers. He has been doing rehabilitation work for his back injury. The thought was that Stewart would return right around the time of the All-Star race, but right now no one knows for sure.

 

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We’ve been picking a fantasy players of the week this season for baseball. 1 hitter and 1 pitcher win the award every week.  I keep forgetting to post them; so I’m going to catch you up and cover who we’ve picked through 5 weeks of the season. Week 1 Adrian Gonzalez, Los Angeles Dodgers and  Aroldis Chapman Cincinnati Reds. Week 2 Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles and Hector Santiego Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Week 3 Mark Teixeira New York Yankees and Gerrit Cole Pittsburgh Pirates. Week 4 Jose Altuve Houston Astros and David Price Detroit Tigers. Week 5 Bryce Harper Washington Nationals and Shelby Miller Atlanta Braves. You’re all caught up and now you can go back and look at the stats and see if you agree with us. We’ll pick our Fantasy players of the week on the Sunday podcast 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

What is going on with the scheduling for the NHL conference finals. The Chicago Blackhawks and the Anaheim Ducks don’t have a date for Game 1 of their series in Anaheim even though both teams wrapped up their series last week. There is a Game 7 tonight between the New York Rangers and the Washington Capitals, but that’s an Eastern conference game and shouldn’t have any affect on when the Blackhawks/Ducks series should start. The Tampa bay Lighting eliminated the Montreal Canadiens last night (Tuesday) 4-1 to win the series 4 games to 2. Tampa Bay gets the winner of the Rangers/Capitals game in the Eastern conference finals. I’m not saying that the Ducks/Blackhawks series should’ve started, but they could’ve played 1 game by now. I guess the NHL is waiting for all of the series to finish to announce the schedule for the conference finals. Tyler Johnson of Tampa Bay has scored the most goals in the playoffs with 8. Corey Perry of Anaheim has the most points with 15. While Lighting goalie Ben Bishop has won the most playoffs games with 8. Anaheim has had the best power play so far in the playoffs scoring 31% of the time they have a man advantage. At 3.89 goals a game Anaheim is averaging the most goals in a game as well. The Rangers have the best goals against average at 1.73. Of course the Rangers goals against will go up or down depending on how their game goes tonight.

Kyle Busch is having a good week. First it was announced that Busch would be returning for this Saturday’s All-Star race.  Busch received medical clearance from his doctors and NASCAR on Monday, but he has yet to make a start this season after suffering a compound fracture in his right leg and a broken left foot in the Feb. 21 season-opening XFINITY Series race at Daytona International Speedway. The shorter All-Star race and its segment-and-break format should help Busch in his return. There was more good news for Busch because on Wednesday, NASCAR granted a waiver to the Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) driver who will return to racing in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race. Despite missing the season’s first 11 races, NASCAR has waived the Chase requirement for Busch. Should he win one of the remaining 15 regular-season points races and make the top 30 in points or earn a spot based on his position in the points standings, he would be one of the 16 drivers in this year’s Chase field. Similar situations have come up before — three other drivers have been granted waivers since NASCAR re-tooled the Chase format before the start of the 2014 season. Tony Stewart, out for three races last summer after his involvement in an on-track fatality in a non-NASCAR sanctioned event, was given the all clear to pursue a Chase spot upon his return. Unlike Hamlin, Stewart was unable to qualify for the 10-race program. Before the start of the 2015 season, NASCAR announced driver Brian Vickers would be eligible for a Chase spot after missing this season’s first two races due to health issues. Kurt Busch was suspended for the first three races of the season as a result of domestic violence allegations made by former girlfriend Patricia Driscoll. A Kent County (Delaware) family judge granted Driscoll a protective order, however the State Attorney General declined to file charges against the driver. Busch was reinstated and granted a Chase waiver. Last month, he won at Richmond and is currently in the provisional playoff field with the victory and a 14th-place points position. Last year, Denny Hamlin missed one race (at Auto Club Speedway), won one race (at Talladega Superspeedway) and was awarded one of the 16 Chase starting positions, and this year, Kyle Larson missed a race in March at Martinsville Speedway, but both drivers took part in Coors Light Pole Qualifying to remain Chase-eligible. I thought it was only fair on NASCAR’s part to give Busch the waiver and a shot at making the Chase. Now it’s up to Busch and his JGR racing team to win a race and get into the Chase.

I saw an odd quote from Chicago Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer and I’m disappointed that I was unable to find it for this blog. Hoyer mentioned something to the affect that the Cubs and the New York Mets have some matching pieces, but they hadn’t come to any kind of deal yet. I did see a report that the Mets inquired about Addison Russell, but I’d be surprised if the Cubs would deal him. It does appear that the Mets may be looking for a shortstop. Does that mean Starling Castro is headed to New York. I actually thought he’d be the guy to take Derek Jeter’s spot for the other New York team, but I was wrong. Castro has a very friendly contract, but if the Cubs move him what do they get in return. The Mets do have some quality pitching prospects in their minor league system, but aren’t the Cubs suppose to be on the verge of winning according to the Theo Epstein plan. If Castro is traded Russell would have no issues moving over to shortstop, but then who takes Russell place at 2nd base. Did  Arismendy Alcantara show you enough in the games he played with the Cubs to handle the everyday job at 2nd base. Alcantara was on the opening day roster and has since been demoted to Triple A Iowa. There’s also Javier Baez. Just imagine the strikeout total Baez could put up playing everyday. Looking at a deal like this I’m not sure what Hoyer meant by match up.

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The 1st round of the NBA playoffs will wrap up tonight when the San Antonio Spurs and the Los Angeles Clippers play Game 7 of their series tonight in Los Angeles. This has been the only interesting series of the first round. Even though the Milwaukee Bucks and the Brooklyn Nets found ways to win a couple games against their higher seeded opponents there was never any real doubt who would win those series. Even though the Washington Wizards where the #5 seed in their series against the Toronto Raptors; Washington was playing better basketball coming into the playoffs and it showed when they swept the series. The majority of these series were boring and uninteresting with the exception of the Spurs/Clippers series. As the NBA playoffs start the 2nd round let’s hope the games get better and more interesting.

Now the NHL has started the 2nd round of their playoffs and 3 out of the 4 games were great to start these series off. The Anaheim Ducks did have an easy time in Game 1 against the Calgary Flames winning 6-2. The Washington Capitals won Game 1 of their series against the New York rangers by scoring a goal in the final seconds of the 3rd period to steal a 2-1 victory. It took double overtime to settle Game 1 of the Montreal Canadiens/Tampa Bay Lighting series.. Nikita Kucherov scored in the 2nd overtime to win the game for Tampa Bay 2-1. The Chicago Blackhawks jumped out to a 3 goal lead in Game 1 of their series against the Minnesota Wild and looked like they would cruise to a victory. Minnesota turned around and scored the next 3 goals to even the game, but the Blackhawks managed to out 1 more puck in the net and take Game 1, 4-3. The 2nd round of the NHL playoffs got off to a great start and hopefully they’ll carry it on through these series.

I’ve always enjoyed watching the NFL draft, but this may be the last season I take the time to do that. I’ve tried watching the coverage on ESPN and the NFL Network and they both stink. They’ve spent way too much time just doing nothing. The picks get backed up 3 or 4 teams and it’s like neither network has never covered a draft before. Now I have no issue when things slow down to salute the military or have someone from a charity the NFL works with come out. It’s nice to see a former player like Jim Kelly or Rick Upchurch get the applause from the crowd for the battles they’re fighting. It’s even funny to see Ickey Woods announce a Cincinnati Bengals draft pick and “Shuffle” for the fans, but the NFL and the networks need to find a way to speed up the announcement of the picks. Rounds 4-7 start in about 4 hours and they are outside today, but luckily they’re going to get some good weather in Chicago for it. They also mentioned that the picks will be announced from the teams war rooms; so I’m interested to see how this works out and if it might speed things up a little.

On the Sports Time Radio podcast yesterday (Friday) we had Zach Alapi from http://www.TheLivingDaylights.co on with us to talk about the Floyd Mayweather/Manny Pacquiao boxing match that takes place tonight. Zach has Mayweather winning this fight by decision, but his staff was split on who would win. 3 of the writers on his website had Mayweather winning, but there where 2 writers who picked Pacquiao to win. On the podcast Dan the Man, Mr. Fantasy and I all have Mayweather winning tonight and just like Zach we see the fight going to distance. On one of the sports networks I get they were actually announcing which celebrities were sitting ringside and all I could fins myself asking was; who cares. This is a fight boxing fans have been waiting for and why does it matter at all who’s sitting ringside. With the price of tickets who else did they think would be in those seats.

The other big event happening today is the Kentucky Derby. It’s the first race in the Triple Crown from Churchhill Downs. I made my pick on Wednesday and I’m sticking with Mubtaahji. Mr. Fantasy likes Danzig Moon and Dan the Man has Firing Line to win. I will caution people not to take our advise on horse racing as we know little to nothing about the sport and I’m pretty sure we all just took a name we liked. I actually do watch the derby, but I’m just interested in the actual race and I can do without all of the pre-race stuff. There are some experts who will tell you that horse racing and boxing are dying sports. Isn’t it interesting that they both ended up having huge events on the same day.

Last night in Fenway Park Alex Rodriguez tied Willie Mays on the all-time home run list with hitting his 660th home run. While this should be a celebrated event for baseball I could care less about it. There’s a pretty good chance that Rodriguez has been using some type of performance enhancing drug his entire baseball career and there were even some reports about him using P.E.D.’s in high school. The high school rumors were never proven, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all. 660 home runs is a great accomplishment for a player who didn’t cheat the game. Is there anyone out there who even cares about this that’s not a New York Yankees fan. It was no real surprise that the Boston Red Sox fans booed Rodriguez when he was announced as a pinch hitter. Mike Shuster is the Red Sox fan who was sitting on top of the Green monster and caught Rodriguez’s 660th home run. Shuster has told the New York Post that he won’t be giving the baseball to Rodriguez. It is being reported to “stay tuned” to this story as Shuster might have a price. A Hall of Fame spokesman said they would accept Rodriquez’s 660th home run ball or “milestone” as the spokesman put it. Maybe they could put a side note on the ball explaining how Rodriguez got to this number, but I doubt they actually would.

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The NBA is in the 1st round of it’s playoffs and most series have played 2 or 3 games and a few teams have chances to close out their series today. There is just 1 series where each teams has won a basketball game. That series is the San Antonio Spurs vs. the Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers won Game 1 of the series by 15 points, 107-92 and there were quite a few experts saying that the Spurs were done after just 1 game. They seemed to have forgotten that the Spurs were one of the hotter teams heading into the playoffs and the only reason they were facing the Clippers was because the Western conference standings were so tight that when they lost their last game of the season they feel from the 2nd or 3rd seed down to the 6th seed. So with the Spurs being declared out of the series after 1 game they turned around and took home court advantage in the series by winning Game 2 111-107. Game 3 was last night (Friday) in San Antonio and if you would’ve told me that one of these teams would win this game by 27 points I would’ve thought you were crazy. Kawhi Leonard scored 32 points and the Spurs beat the Clippers 100-73 to go up 2 game to 1 in the series. Besides Leonard only 2 other Spurs players scored in double figures and neither of them was named Tim Duncan, Tony Parker or Manu Ginobili. It was Boris Diaw (15) and Danny Green (11) would scored double digit points in San Antonio’s win. The Clippers shot 34.1% from the field and 6-23 from behind the 3-point line. Blake Griffin going 6-15 from the floor and 2-3 from the free throw line and led the Clippers in scoring with 14 points. Chris Paul struggled from the field going 3-11 and Jamal Crawford had a horrible shooting night going just 1-11 from the floor. Austin Rivers scored 11 points and DeAndre Jordan had 10 points; as the only other Clippers who scored in double figures. San Antonio has found different ways to win Game 2 and Game 3 and with Game 4 Sunday in San Antonio do the Spurs have a 3rd different way to win a game in this series. Does Game 3 become a must win for the Clippers or would they have a shot at winning the series if they went back to Los Angeles down 3 games to 1.

Now when the NBA playoffs started there was a lot of complaining that there were teams that finished the regular season under .500 that made the Eastern conference playoffs. With the way the 1st round of the playoffs have went is that the biggest problem or could the issue be that there are too many teams in the playoffs. Besides San Antonio the Washington Wizards are the only other lower seeded team to win a playoff game. The Wizards went into the playoffs as a #5 seed and were matched up against the Toronto Raptors. It’s not a huge surprise that the Wizards are winning this series as there’s not a lot of difference between a #4 and #5 seed, but the Raptors really struggled down the final stretch of the regular season. If the playoffs went from 16 teams to 12 teams no under .500 teams would’ve made it. The Milwaukee Bucks where 41-41 and are the 6th seed in the Eastern conference. Now lowering the number of playoff teams will never happen, but when the 1st round plays out like this doesn’t it take some of the excitement out of it. Now the Memphis Grizzlies/Portland Trailblazers series has just played 2 games; so maybe something will happen their with Memphis up 2 games to 0 and Game 3 today. The Atlanta Hawks and Brooklyn Nets have only played 2 games with Atlanta winning both of them, but does anyone think Brooklyn will win a game in this series. Atlanta is the eastern conferences #1 seed while Brooklyn barely found it’s way into the playoffs. While there has been a game here or there that has been exciting I’m not sure this is the 1st round the NBA had hoped for.

I took a chance last season on my fantasy teams and late in both drafts I managed to get Yordano Ventura of the Kansas City Royals. He had a very good rookie season going 14-10 with a 3.20 E.R.A, in 30 regular season starts and was one of the big reasons the Royals found themselves playing Game 7 of the World Series last season. In the off season the Royals decided not to re-sign James Shields and allow Ventura to become the ace of the pitching staff. So this season Ventura has made 4 starts; he is 2-1 with a 4.09 E.R.A. over 22 innings so far. In what may be some kind of record in his last 3 starts the benches have cleared and he’s been right in the middle of it. Now when this happened in his start against the Oakland A’s in understood it. Ventura hit Brett Lawrie who had taken out the Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar with a slide into 2nd base the game before. The pitch hit Lawrie low and even Lawrie acted like he knew it was coming and just went to 1st base. Ventura  escalated the situation by barking at Lawrie who was going up the 1st base line while Ventura was leaving the game. That didn’t bother me too much as Ventura was just defending a teammate. In Ventura’s start before that against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim/ After Mike Trout scored a run and with Ventura was backing up home plate they started to exchange words over something and this led to the benches emptying. Then in his last start against the Chicago White Sox Adam Eaton hit a ball back up the middle that Ventutra fielded. While Eaton was running the ball out Ventura started barking at him more or less because he hit the ball back up the middle which is something I heard Ventura doesn’t like when hitters do. This led to yet another bench clearing for the Royals and there where even some punches thrown. There have also been reports that White Sox pitcher Chris Sale tried to get in the Royals clubhouse to find Ventura and continue the fight. Now I understand that pitchers are going to throw at batters and there’s going to be times when players get upset and it will lead to on field fights, but in your last 3 starts. Kansas City looks like they have a very good team again and may have a shot to get into the playoffs, but can they do that with their best pitcher starting fights every time he takes the mound. Then you also have to wonder how many more times are Royals hitters going to be understanding about getting drilled because of something Ventura did or said. Is it time for major league baseball to step in and suspend or fine Ventura for his actions or will the Royals be able to police themselves and get their ace under control.

Now the 1st round of the NHL playoffs are also going on and 2 of their series have already ended. The Anaheim Ducks swept the Winnipeg Jets 4 games to 0 and the New York Rangers closed out the Pittsburgh Penguins 4 games to 1 last  night. I was a little disappointed to see Sidney Crosby go out of the playoffs in the 1st round and his team not even out up much of a fight. There is a chance that 3 more series will come to an end tonight. The Washington Capitals have a chance to close out the New York Islanders. The Chicago Blackhawks can eliminate the Nashville Predators and the Calgary Flames can send the Vancouver Canucks home with a win. The Tampa Bay Lighting hist the Detroit Red Wings as well today, but that series is tied at 2 games apiece.

So how was your week?

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The NFL draft is just 15 days away. Remember it starts on Thursday now and runs through Sunday. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have the #1 pick and they should take a quarterback. It still appears that they’re leaning towards Jameis Winston the former Florida State quarterback. There has been a couple of reports that Tampa Bay may go with the Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota over Winston, but I think they’ll take Winston #1. While there is no question at all that Tampa Bay is keeping and using there pick the same can’t be said about the #2 pick in the draft. That #2 pick belongs to the Tennessee Titans and the  rumors are beginning to fly on who wants that pick and what they might give up to get it. Let’s just work our way down the draft order and try to cover who might move up to #2. The New York Jets have the #6 pick and I heard a report that the Jets would deal that pick along with a 2nd rounder and a couple of their defensive players to move up to the 2nd pick. The Chicago Bears have the #7 pick and there have been reports that the Bears would trade that pick along with quarterback Jay Cutler and a 3rd round draft pick to move up to the 2nd pick. The St. Louis Rams have been mentioned, but I haven’t seen any reports on what the Rams might have to give up to move up to #2 in the draft. The Rams own the #10 pick in the 1st round, but did acquire Nick Foles from the Philadelphia Eagles this off season; so I don’t know why they’d be interested in moving up to #2. The Cleveland Browns have two 1st round picks; the 12th and the 19th pick. I heard a report that the Browns might be willing to deal those two 1st round picks plus a 2nd round pick in 2016 too move up to #2. The San Diego Chargers have the 17th pick in the 1st round and I heard yesterday that Phillip Rivers may be on the trading block. You’d guess the Chargers would have to send Rivers, the 17th pick and maybe another draft pick to Tennessee if they wanted to move up to #2. Then we get to the Eagles who have the 20th pick in the 1st round, but I heard a report that Chip Kelly may be willing to give up 3 1st round draft picks to move up to #2. That’s quite a few rumors and if Tennessee is interested in trading the #2 pick it doesn’t look like they’ll have any trouble finding a trade partner. I guess the question would then become are Winston or Mariota worth that price tag and would they turn into the franchise quarterback that a team would be moving up to get. There is good reason not to be sold on either of these guys; so I’m not at all sure why a team would give up that abundance of picks to move up to get one of these guys. Instead of dealing away a boat load of draft picks to move up teams might be better off sitting tight and see if a quarterback like Brett Hundley from UCLA, Bryce Petty from Baylor, or Garrett Grayson from Colorado State is your draft board come the 2nd or 3rd round. I’ve even heard some draft experts say that Sean Mannion out of Oregon State may turn into a good pro quarterback and he should be on the most teams draft boards in the 4th or 5th round. I guess if your advanced scouting has Winston and Mariota as franchise type quarterbacks then it would make sense to give up the draft picks you’d have to give up to move up in the draft and get your guy. I actually think the team that doesn’t make that deal might be just as well off drafting a quarterback in one of the later rounds. Whatever happens come April 30th the big winner here is Tennessee.

There are 14 games on the NBA schedule tonight and it’s also the last day of the regular season. Now 14 of the 16 playoff spots are locked up, but there are 4 teams in contention for those last 2 playoff spots. In the Eastern conference the Indiana Pacers are 38-43 and hold a 1 game lead over the Brooklyn Nets who are 37-44. Indiana won 99-95 over the Washington Wizards last night in double overtime and now they have to turn around and play Memphis Grizzlies. The Nets have an earlier game against the Orlando Magic; so the Pacers will know that outcome before they take the court tonight. Of course the team that ends up with the 8th seed draws the Atlanta hawks in the 1st round of the playoffs. Over in the Western conference it’s the New Orleans Pelicans who are holding onto the 8th spot right now. New Orleans and the Oklahoma City Thunder have the same record of 44-37, but New Orleans owns the tiebreaker and would take the 8th seed if both teams end the season with the same record. Oklahoma City is playing the Minnesota Timberwolves tonight. The Timberwolves have the worst record in the NBA at 16-66; so it’s a game Oklahoma City should win. New Orleans on the other hand is matched up against the defending champion San Antonio Spurs tonight. San Antonio is currently in the 3rd spot in the Western conference and you have to wonder if it is important to them to even move up to the 2nd spot. There is a chance that San Antonio will rest it’s starters and just get ready for the playoffs. The Oklahoma City and New Orleans games tip off at the same time; so neither team will know the outcome of the others game until they’re done. Should make for an interesting night of basketball for some NBA teams.

The NHL playoffs get started tonight (Wednesday) with 4 games on the ice. Here’s the match ups for tonight it’s the  Montreal Canadiens vs. the Ottawa Senators. The New York Islanders vs. the Washington Capitals. The Chicago Blackhawks vs. the Nashville Predators and the Calgary Flames vs. the Vancouver Canucks. The rest of the series get started tomorrow (Thursday with the Pittsburgh Penguins vs. the New York Rangers. The Detroit Red Wings vs. the Tampa Bay Lighting. The Winnipeg Jets vs. the Anaheim Ducks and the Minnesota Wild vs. the St. Louis Blues. The NHL always seems to have some upsets in the 1st round; so which top seeds may fall? While my predictions haven’t been all that great as of late I’m going to give it another shot here. I’ll take the Tampa Bay Lighting in the Eastern conference and even though it’s a huge homer pick I’ll take the Chicago Blackhawks out of the Western conference. Who’s going to hoist Lord Stanley’s cup at the end of the playoffs well I have to go with the Blackhawks to bring the cup bacl to Chicago.

I’m the Big Jack and you can follow me on Twitter @burketime

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Let’s call it Wednesday.

Posted: March 25, 2015 by Sports Time Radio in baseball, hockey, sports
Tags: , , , ,

I was a little surprised when I heard the mainstream media reporting that Brock Lesnar had chosen to re-sign with World Wrestling Entertainment instead of making a return to the UFC. Normally the mainstream media stays clear of professional wrestling unless the story is negative. It’s no real shock that Lesnar chose WWE over UFC. In case you don’t remember Lesnar has only had 8 fights in the UFC and his last two fights ended in 1st round KO/TKO losses. Lesnar lost to Alistair Overeem on December 30th of 2011 and before that he lost to Cain Velasquez on October 23rd of 2010. Lesnar only had eight total fights in the UFC and his record was 5 – 3. Lesnar is a former UFC Heavyweight champion and did defend his title successfully a couple of times. While there where no salary numbers disclosed I’m sure the figures where pretty close and maybe even favored the WWE a little. After losing C.M. Punk to the UFC last year I guess they can look at this as a win by being able to keep Lesnar. Brad Keselowski made a last lap pass on Kurt Busch to win Sunday’s Auto Club 400. It was the only lap that Keselowski led and it wasn’t even a full lap, but it was the most important lap; the last lap. In trying to hold off Keselowski Busch touched the wall and fell to 3rd place. So who ended up finishing 2nd you ask. Well of course it was Kevin Harvick. So in five NASCAR races this season Harvick has two wins and three 2nd place finishes. Harvick did lead 34 laps on Sunday and was a contender to win the race before the 2nd green, white, checker finish and a big Keselowski run to the front. Paul Menard took 4th and Ryan Newman rounded out the top 5. The NASCAR circuit heads to Martinsville this Sunday for the STP 500. Let’s see if Harvick can get another top 2 finish. I never put a lot of stock into early spring training stats. I always look at what a guy has done the last week or ten days of spring training and see if that player can take it into the regular season. So when I started looking at stats there were a few names most baseball fans would know or at least had heard of at the top of the stat lists. Mike Trout has been hitting this spring with an average of .462 and stayed at .500 for quite a while. Jose Abreu is 2nd in batting average to Trout at .459. Kris Bryant is leading everyone in home runs with 9 this spring, but he’s still headed to Triple A, Iowa; so the Cubs can get that extra year of control. After Bryant it’s Michael Cuddyer of the New York Mets, J.D. Martinez of the Detroit Tigers and Steven Pearce of the Baltimore Orioles all tied with 5 home runs. Bryant also leads everyone in RBI’s with 15. Michael Morse of the Miami Marlins and Alexei Ramirez of the Chicago White Sox each have 14 RBI’s. Spring training pitching can be even tougher to judge than spring training hitting and you can pretty much throw all pitching stats out when the regular season starts. I’ll look for strikeout totals and it’s Collin McHugh of the Houston Astros and Drew Pomeranz of the Oakland A’s who are leading spring training with 19 strikeouts. I’ll also look at walk totals and it’s Rubby De La Rosa of the Ariznoa Diamondbacks is leading pitchers in walks with 10 so far. While Bud Norris of the Baltimore Orioles and Juan Jaime of the Atlanta Braves each have 9 walks. Norris along with Trevor Bauer of the Cleveland Indians and Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers have given up 5 home runs each this spring. Of course this all goes out the window on April 5th for the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs and then on April 6th for everyone else as the baseball season gets rolling. Are the defending champion Los Angeles Kings going to miss the chance to defend the Stanley Cup and not make the NHL playoffs? With nine games remaining this season the Kings are tied with the Calgary Flames at 86 points and are two points behind the Minnesota Wild who have 88 points. Calgary also has nine games left in their season and Minnesota has  eight games left. Calgary has to play both Minnesota and Los Angeles, but the Kings and the Wild don’t play each other. It’s three teams for two playoff spots and there is a chance that the defending champion will be at home watching when the playoffs start.

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The NFL 2015 officially opened yesterday with a flurry of free agent signings some trades and even a couple of retirements. Now some of these moves had already been announced, but they couldn’t become official until March 10th. I think the transactions that surprised me the most were the trades that were made. The Detroit Lions acquired Haloti Ngata and a 7th round draft pick for a 4th and 5th round draft picks. Since Ndamukong Suh has agreed to terms with the Miami Dolphins the Lions need someone to fill his spot and they got Ngata to do that and it didn’t cost them a ton to do that. Most experts will tell you that the Seattle Seahawks need a threat in the receiving game. I think most experts thought it would be a wide receiver, but would they settle for one of the top tight ends in the NFL Seattle sent center Max Unger and their 2015 1st round draft choice to the New Orleans Saints for Graham  I’m not quite sure what the Philadelphia Eagles were thinking when they sent Nick Foles plus a 4th round pick in the 2015 draft and a 2nd round pick in 2016 for Sam Bradford and a 2015 5th round pick. Are the Eagles under the impression that Bradford will stay healthy with them. It had been reported that San Francisco 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis was going to announce his retirement, but it was a bit of a surprise when Tennessee Titans quarterback Jake Locker and Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Jason Worilds also announced their retirements yesterday. There where a bunch of free agent signings announced and I’m not going to go through and list them all for you. There will be a lot more to come as things move forward. It’s just interesting to me that with spring training moving along in baseball and both the NBA and NHL teams making playoff pushes the NFL found a way to rule the day in their off-season. Is the NFL the #1 sports league in America?

Would you believe that the hottest team in the NBA Eastern conference are the Indiana Pacers. The Pacers are on a six game winning streak and have moved into the #7 playoff seed. The Pacers put their winning streak on the line tomorrow (Thursday) when they take on the Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks are currently in the #6 playoff seed and are four games ahead of the Pacers in the standings. I’m not sure if anyone had the Pacers making the playoffs this season when Paul George suffered that horrific injury playing for Team USA and there are rumors that George may return before the season ends. While I’m not sure if a return would be in George’s or the teams best interest, but it would be an emotionally lift for this team. Right now the Charlotte Hornets are holding on to the #8 seed in the Eastern conference and are one game behind the Pacers. The Miami Heat are the team on the outside looking in at the moment, but are just a half of a game behind Charlotte and a game and a half behind the Pacers. With a little over a month left in the NBA season these final two playoff spots look to be up for grabs between these three teams.

In the Western conference the team rolling along on a six game winning streak are the San Antonio Spurs. Are you surprised that at this time of the season the Spurs seem to be playing better? The Spurs also out their winning streak on the line Thursday night as they take on the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Spurs currently hold the #7 playoff seed in the Western conference, but they are just one game behind the Los Angeles Clippers for the #6 seed. San Antonio has a five game lead on the Oklahoma City Thunder who hold that 8th and final playoff spot. The Spurs are also just three games behind the Houston Rockets and if they catch them they could move up to a 4th or 5th playoff seed. The Spurs have had a very San Antonio type of season. They’ve had their share of injuries and of course Gregg Popovich has rested his veteran players when he thought they’ve needed it. Would you be surprised if San Antonio ends up in the Western conference finals or even the NBA finals when it’s all said and done.

Over in the NHL it looks like the Eastern conference might have it’s eight playoff team set. The top three in the Atlantic division Montreal Canadiens, Tampa Bay Lighting and Detroit Red Wings are in. The top three in the  Metropolitan division the New York Islanders, New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins are in. The two wild card spots look like they’ll go to the Washington Capitals and Boston Bruins unless the Florida Panthers who are currently six points behind the Bruins or the Ottawa Senators who are seven points behind the Bruins can get on a roll the Eastern conference is all set.

Over in the Western conference there are still playoff spots up for grabs. While it looks like the Nashville Predators and the St. Louis Blues will get into the playoff out of the Central division, but the final division spot and the wild card position have three teams looking to fill those two spots. The Chicago Blackhawks hold the 3rd division spot right now with the Minnesota Wild as the wild card team. It’s the Winnipeg Jets who are 3 points behind the Wild and six points behind the Blackhawks are hanging onto the 2nd wild card spot, but just by one point over the Los Angeles Kings. The Kings are actually tied with the Calgary Flames for the 3rd playoff spot in the Pacific division, but the Flames own the tiebreaker. The San Jose Sharks are still hanging around looking for a wild card spot. The Sharks are three points behind the Kings and Flames, 4 four points behind the Jets and seven points behind the Wild. The Vancouver Canucks hold the 2nd spot in the Pacific division, but they only have a three point lead over the Flames and Kings. It looks like the only team safe in the Pacific division are the Anaheim Ducks who have an 11 point lead over the Canucks. We should be headed for quite a finish. With all these teams having about 15 games left any opportunity to pick up two points will be huge.

We’re doing are baseball previews on Sports Time Radio and today (Wednesday) at 5:00 pm Tim Kelly from Section215.com will join the podcast to preview the 2015 Philadelphia Phillies. The at 5:30 pm Matt Gajtka from CityofChampionsSports.com will come on the podcast to preview the Pittsburgh Pirates 2015 season.

You can listen to the Sports Time Radio podcast cast at BlogTalkRadio.com

You can follow me on Twitter @BurkeTime