Little things keep killing Kootenay Ice

first_imgBy Bruce Fuhr,The Nelson Daily SportsIt’s the little mistakes that are killing the Kootenay Ice.The Vancouver Northeast Chiefs pounced on those mini blunders to pull off a B.C. Hockey Major Midget League sweep of the Ice over the weekend at the NDCC Arena.The seventh-place Chiefs started the two-game set by outlasting the Ice 7-5 Saturday. Sunday, Vancouver scored six times in the second period to thump Kootenay 8-3.“Believe it or not, (I feel) we’re not far off,” said Ice head coach Simon Wheeldon, still holding out hope for his 2-9-1 team. “I cannot sit here and say, today or last night, we got out played,” added the former Nelson Leafs coach. “What seems to be the biggest thing is that we keep finding ways to lose.”Despite being outscored 8-2 in the final 40 minutes, Wheeldon continues to see signs of hope in his team. Through 12 games Kootenay has seen one period, one play or one missed assignment prove be the difference on more than one occasion.Those losses are starting to take a toll on the mental state of the players.“Somehow I have to get the mentality through to them it’s not how to find ways to lose, it’s finding ways to win,” Wheeldon explained. Sunday, the Ice grabbed a 1-0 lead after one period on a goal by Nelson’s Carsen Willans, and could have been up by more than the single goal has the forwards converted just a few of the many chances.Those missed opportunities cost the Ice huge as Vancouver exploded for four goals in 10 minutes to start the middle frame.Kootenay’s Luke Bertolucci of Trail tried to keep the home side close, scoring a pair of goals. But a shorthanded marker by Michael Scobie that dribbled between the pads of starting goalie Christian Pickles spelled the end of Pickles and the Ice.Vancouver scored two more goals before the period ended before adding another pair in the third to win convincingly. Scobie and Matthew Bissett each scored twice to lead the Chiefs.“Another thing is we just give pucks away,” Wheeldon said. “Of the eight goals (Vancouver scored Sunday), one was scored by hard work while the other seven, we gave them the puck (before they scored).”Saturday, Vancouver held period leads of 2-1 and 5-3 en route to the win. Bissett once again led the Chiefs, finishing, along with Adam Rockwood, with two points.Castlegar’s Quinn Klimchuk, with a pair, Jake Lucchini of Trail, Dryden Hunt of Nelson and Paulsen Lautard of Castlegar replied for Kootenay.“I can never complain about the work ethic (of this team),” Wheeldon admitted. “Should I bench a guy because he makes a mistake . . . no, he’s not trying to make a mistake? I’ll bench a guy because he doesn’t work or because he doesn’t listen. And I really believe this is a good crew and they just have to learn.”The Ice has little time to right the wrongs as the squad travels to Burnaby Saturday to face the 9-2-1 Vancouver Northwest Giants.The Giants are third in the 11-team league, three points behind leading Greater Vancouver Canadians.Next home game is November 13-14 when tenth-place Kootenay hosts the Fraser Valley Bruins at the Cominco Arena in [email protected]last_img read more

Leafs manage to get a win during road trip, edging Rockies 4-3

first_imgBy The Nelson Daily SportsJoel Stewart is starting to pay dividends for the Nelson Leafs.The second goal of the game by the former Spokane Brave proved to be the winner as Nelson edged the Columbia Valley Rockies 4-3 in Kootenay International Junior Hockey League action Sunday in Invermere.Stewart connected with Colon Schell and Marcus Dahl to power Nelson to the come from behind victory. The Leafs trailed 3-1 at one stage of the contest after the Rockies scored three times in a 152 seconds span.Dustin Johnson and Dahl also scored for the Leafs. Marcus Beesley stopped 27 shots to record the victory in goal.The win was the first during a three-game road swing into the Eddie Mountain Division.The Leafs opened the weekend by getting trashed 7-1 by the high-powered Fernie Ghostriders Friday.After Johnson scored in the first period to close the gap to 2-1, the Riders scored five consecutive power play goals — one in the second and four in the third period.Cale Wright had a goal and two assists while Josh Garneau checked in with four points, including a pair of goals, to pace the Riders. Scott Morriseau, Connor Morgan, Mark Strachan and Alex Milton also scored for Fernie.Fraser Abdaliah had an easy time in the Fernie nets, facing only 19 shots.The Leafs then ventured to Golden Saturday. But the result was just as bad as Tyler Fairall scored at the 2:39 mark of the second overtime period to lift the Rockets to a 5-4 win.Nelson, leading 2-1 after one period, watched as the Rockets scored three consecutive goals to take a 4-2 lead with seven minutes remaining in the contest.However, Cody Abbey and Dahl, with his second of the contest, scored late in the frame to force overtime. Johnson scored the other goal for the Leafs.Beesley took the loss in goal after relieving Nelson starter Darren Hogg.OVERTIME: Joel Stewart, with seven points in five games, is doing his best to help Leaf fans forget that the team’s leading scorer Gavin Currie is out of the lineup due to injury. Currie remains on the shelf after being injured December 31. . . .Dustin Johnson, a 67-point man last year for Merritt of the B.C. Hockey League, has seven points in five games for Nelson. . . . The Leafs, 20-16-0-2, have now lost twice this season in overtime. The first loss came December 12 against Grand Forks. . . .Next home game is Wednesday at the NDCC against Grand [email protected]last_img read more

HC Plzen 1929 interviews Nelson’s Geoff Kinrade before the start of the European Trophy tournament

first_imgNelson Leaf grad, Nelson Minor Hockey product and Michigan Tech prodigy, Geoff Kinrade has decided to ply his hockey trade across the big pond in the Czech Republic, signing a one-year deal with HC Plzen 1929.
The decision came a few weeks after the six-foot, 207-pound blueliner helped the Binghamton Senators win the 2011 Calder Cup Championship.Kinrade, 26, sat down with team management to answer a few questions for a HC Plzen 1929 website interview.HC Plzen 1929 has graciously allowed The Nelson Daily to publish the interview that appeared on the team website earlier this month. Please note the interview was translated into English from the HC Plzen 1929 site.After a tiring flight the 26-year-old Kinrade did not look tired in the cabin but admitted sleepless hours. How are things in Plzen?“It was a really long way. Now I have to arrange a bank account and cell phone, but then I mostly sleep.”Geoff, what are your first feelings of initial training in the new location?“I am especially tired, it was a really long way. I did not sleep much, plus the time difference. (But) surprisingly, I feel quite well.”What were the celebrations after the win in the AHL?“We really enjoyed them. But it was really long season, we played about 102 games, we ended up in June, so we were really glad that we finally won the Calder Cup.”Have you had time to relax at all?“I am a surfer, so I went to the West Coast. But it was only a week since we left so late. Overall, I was on leave about a month and a half.”What do you know about Pilsen team?“To be honest to you, almost anything. I know with Tyler Scofield, who played here, I talked with the players who were active in Europe and the Czech Republic have praised. I left it to his agent, who told me about the offer Pilsen said. The game was also my work in the German DEL, but I chose and I’m glad Pilsen.”And you know some of the players? “On the ice, I met with Tomas Kubalík, we played against each other for about two matches, but the closer you know. Of course, Martin Straka, and I know I’ve heard of Tomas Vlasak, who won last year scoring. “Overall, I do not know much about international hockey and that’s also more exciting to be able to be here. But I know that the Czech competition is good and certainly not easy waiting for me. “But hockey is never easy.”What is your next program?“I have to arrange to go to the bank account and cell phone so I could be with people at all in touch.  Soon we will begin European Trophy, so I hope I have dragged from the AHL playoffs.”You do not have concerns about the European style of hockey?“Just would not say that I was afraid, but I’m rather curious. I am in my good skater, and as I was told this property Hockey is necessary if you want to play on a larger rink.“When I was in college, half of the areas on which we played, the Olympic dimensions. “So I have got used to it a bit.”Is your dream to play more games in the NHL?”I played one game there, so if I added some more, at least I do not I would translate well here and then I could get another chance. “But mainly I want to play the best hockey in which I have.  If you have not look into the NHL, it will not break my heart.”Finally, I cannot help asking, what do you think about Czech, pilsner, beer?“Of course, Pilsner Urquell is known, it is something different than we had. But I must admit that I prefer wine, because my family owns a vineyard at home. “And you can enjoy true Canadian whiskey.”last_img read more

Mile – Post-Race Interview Transcript – Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016

first_imgAdam WachtelElliott WaldenGary BarberWilliam MottPress ConferenceTHE MODERATOR: The winner of the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Mile was Tourist. And we’re joined now by from the left to right, Adam Wachtel, trainer Bill Mott, Gary Barber, and Elliott Walden. Thank you all for joining us here, and congrats again. Bill, let’s start with you. If you wouldn’t mind, tell us a little bit about how you saw the race unfold from your perspective?WILLIAM MOTT: Well, I mean, I thought he got away from the gate good. We were actually hoping to be maybe laying third or fourth. It looked like maybe we were back in fifth or sixth position. There was a horse rolling on the lead which, you know, it looked like he was going to set fast enough fractions. So I thought having a rail trip around the first turn and we sort of came out of that unscathed, and I thought, you know, we head down the backside, and I thought, well, now we’ve just got to get lucky and get a little luck around this next turn, and he did. He found some running room, perfect ride, and the horse ran great.I mean, he’s looked great. He’s trained well since he’s been here, and he actually reproduced everything that he came with.THE MODERATOR: This was his third try in the Breeders’ Cup Mile. So can you just talk about the previous two efforts when he had some trouble and some wide trips?WILLIAM MOTT: The first trip out here was a horrible trip, as you know. Sometimes you can go into that first turn and you can get knocked around a little bit, and he actually got knocked to the middle of the racetrack that day. Lost all chance, I think, and it was over before they headed out down the back side. Last year we were at Keeneland, and the ground came up very, very soft, and something that he doesn’t really care for. We’d had a little bit of a foot issue going into the race, so there were some things that didn’t fall in place perfectly.But he came into this one in perfect shape. We got the ground we needed and the trip that we desired. And the rest is history. Just put it in the record book.Q. Future plans? Is he going to continue to race?ELLIOTT WALDEN: We’re going to talk about it as a group, but when you win a race like that against the best milers in the world, and he’s five years old, he’ll probably go to stud.WILLIAM MOTT: No, he’s doing good. Wait a minute. Stud, what are you talking about? Come on. Horse is just getting warmed up (laughing).Q. Sorry to open up a wound there.ELLIOTT WALDEN: No, no.Q. Bill, we saw Reilly and Rudy celebrating after the race. Can you just talk about what each one of them means to your operation, kind of the youngsters coming up in your shoes?WILLIAM MOTT: Well, they both do a great job, and I thought I saw some tears in their eyes when they came to the Winner’s Circle. It’s pretty gratifying to see somebody that puts a lot of effort into it, not only them, the grooms, and the entire staff. They’re two of my assistants. I’ve got other assistants that are at the other locations, and they all do a great job and they’ve all helped with this horse over the last three years. He’s been in training a long time. We’ve had him at different places, so it’s taken, you know, a big effort from a lot of different people. But it’s very gratifying to have Reilly and Rudolph here and share in the festivities. I’m sure they’ll have a little party tonight when this whole thing is over.Q. Gary Barber, just to back up a question before that. Do you have thoughts on whether we might see Tourist as a 6-year-old in your opinion?GARY BARBER: I think it’s the same as Elliott’s. We talk as a group. But when you win a race of this caliber against the best milers in the world, it sets a stage for a great stallion career.THE MODERATOR: You’ve been involved in some very good horses, just talk about the experience of winning a Breeders’ Cup Race here today?GARY BARBER: It’s unbelievable. Especially my hometown. I had five horses and I was 0-for-4 coming in, so this really helped and it made the day. It’s been awesome.ELLIOTT WALDEN: We’re lucky with celebrities. Bobby Flay at the Belmont and Gary Barber. We’re lucky with celebrities. Give a lot of credit to Adam Wachtel. He came to me a few years ago and wanted to purchase half of this horse for Gary and himself. He’s always believed in him and believed he’s the best miler in the country. And as Bill said, the last couple Breeders’ Cups haven’t gone his way, but we’ve always believed in him enough to run him in three Breeders’ Cups. So we knew he was one of the best milers in the country, and really in the world. He beat Tepin like that, who is a remarkable, remarkable filly. He was just incredible.THE MODERATOR: Adam, a few years ago, what was it about Tourist that made you want to get a piece of him?ADAM WACHTEL: I saw his turf debut, and just thought he moved incredibly well over the turf. I actually had approached Elliott when he was a 2-year-old as a dirt horse, I thought he was pretty talented on the dirt as well. But once I saw his turf debut, I thought this horse might be something special. And that summer Bill said to me at one point, he said, I think this one’s special. I said, Really? He said, Really, this one’s special. As a 3-year-old we brought him out here, and as Bill said, it was kind of a rough trip. We always believed he was one of the best milers in the world, and I think finally today he proved the kind of talent that he has. This was my first Breeders’ Cup win, unlike the rest of them. So this is pretty exciting and pretty gratifying.Q. Finally, just each of you, if you could just talk about the final 100 yards. There was a great miler coming at you in Tepin. And your thoughts as she was getting closer and the wire was getting closer? Bill, do you want to start with that?WILLIAM MOTT: I said, just come on, wire (laughing). But he was still running strong. I mean, he was still — he never looked like he weakened. He looked like he came on. I think the others were running from behind him, but I don’t think he was giving an inch. I think he was still, you know — the pedal was still to the medal, and I think he was still giving it when he approached the wire. I don’t think he had given up when he hit the wire.Q. Elliott, this race always has a deep field, but your thoughts just on the horses that you managed to beat today, the depth of this race?ELLIOTT WALDEN: Well, when we came in, we felt like we were really live, and felt like he was one of the horses to beat. But then you look at it and think you could run this race ten times and you might have five different winners. So we’re just blessed to get the job done. Bill’s done a great job, been very patient with him through a couple little bumps in the road. Kept him sound and happy, and the culmination is the Breeders’ Cup Mile in 1:31 and change. It’s just an awesome feeling. Very, very classy horse.FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sportslast_img read more

ICC World Twenty20: MS Dhoni slams batsmen after New Zealand spinners shock India

first_imgMahendra Singh Dhoni lashed out at his batsmen after tournament favourites India were handed a shock defeat by New Zealand’s spinners in Nagpur tonight. Chasing a modest 127, India lost nine wickets to the Kiwi spinners. Other than Dhoni (30) and Virat Kohli (23), none of the other batsmen put up a semblance of fight. (Scorecard|Photos)In-form openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan, middle-order stalwarts Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh were dismissed inside the first five overs, leaving Kohli and Dhoni with a mountain to climb. (Also read: New Zealand spinners condemn India to 47-run defeat) India’s spinners had done well to restrict an aggressive New Zealand batting line-up to 126/7 after Kane Williamson had elected to bat. Dhoni hailed his bowlers for another fine job but came down heavily on his batsmen, most of whom did not show any resilience.”It was a low-scoring wicket. We restricted them to a chasable score, but it was the batting that let us down. There were quite a few soft dismissals. The shot selection put a lot of pressure on the batsmen who were coming in later. (Here’s how India lost nine wickets to New Zealand spinners in shocking defeat) “They (New Zealand’s spinners) bowled well, but at the same time I felt we lacked a bit of adaptability.”We are quite used to playing in these conditions. I feel 126 was a decent score, but it was the batting that let us down,” said Dhoni, who himself did not hit a single boundary in the first 20 balls of his innings.advertisementAfter attempting to take India close in the company of Kohli and R Ashwin, Dhoni had no option but to cut loose. However, the skipper did not get any support from the lower-order and eventually perished trying to play the much-needed big shots.India were expected to dominate New Zealand at the same venue where their spinners ran riot against South Africa in a Test match last year, but poor technique against spin cost them dear at the end.Meanwhile, Williamson said he knew 127 would be a tough score for India to chase.”We would have probably liked a few more, but the boys bowled really well and it is pleasing to win against a quality side,” he said.India will now face arch-rivals Pakistan at the Eden Gardens this Saturday while New Zealand travel to Dharamsala, where they take on trans-Tasman rivals Australia on Friday.last_img read more

a month agoKlopp loving competition within Liverpool squad

first_imgKlopp loving competition within Liverpool squadby Paul Vegasa month agoSend to a friendShare the loveLiverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is loving the competition within his squad.The German says his players are fighting tooth and nail in training in order to impress him.Speaking before Tuesday’s Champions League clash with Napoli, Klopp said he had plenty of players available for selection.He said: “And the competition in this team is really big, yes. If that line-up is not performing, they are really there. As an example, Shaq [Xherdan Shaqiri] is brought in in that position where he has been training for a couple of weeks now. He is so creative. He is a real option.”If you have one good game and another good game, the dynamic changes. Dejan Lovren is not in the squad and I have no explanation for that other than two centre-halves on the bench is probably not necessary. Naby Keita is coming, everyone knows that. “When Ox [Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain] played really well at Southampton, for the all others it was ‘ooh’, but you should see training. They all want to make sure, ‘I am ready, you can use me’. “This is a really big club with competition between friends. It is not I have to kill him to play, it is really for the team. That is what the boys did so far and as long as we have that we will go for everything. Then we have to see what we get because we have really good opponents and that is the problem.” About the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your saylast_img read more

Anurag Thakur treads path cautiously father backsup

first_imgShimla: The old saying – “once bitten, twice shy” can’t have the best frame-fit slot other than Hamirpur parliamentary constituency.A BJP stronghold for over two-decades, Hamirpur has much at stake for young MP Anurag Thakur, who fights Congress’s five-time MLA Ram Lal Thakur to defend a political legacy that opponents of his father and two-time Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal are trying to covertly question. Dhumal, who led the BJP to the victory in 2017 poll, lost his assembly election by a slender margin of 1,919 votes and missed his third Chief Minister term at a moment when things looked all done for him. Also Read – 2019 most peaceful festive season for J&K: Jitendra SinghThat’s why neither Dhumal nor Anurag Thakur is publically boasting of impending win except that BJP’s national president Amit Shah reaching out them to declare to the voters –a predictable “bigger role” for Anurag Thakur after his victory. “We are happy that Amit Shah acknowledged the potential in Anurag Thakur. It has boosted our prospects. But we haven’t forgotten how the finest victory turned bitter for people of Hamirpur on December 19, 2017, when sahib (Dhumal) lost his Sujanpur seat,” says Sanjeev Katwal, BJP leader and staunch Dhumal loyalist. Also Read – Personal life needs to be respected: Cong on reports of Rahul’s visit abroadThus, Anurag is playing safe and focussing on the campaign. The poll narrative is just confined to development issues. The constituency having a large presence of ex-servicemen and serving soldiers and para-military personnel has an advantage factor for the BJP. “We want Modi to come back. He has raised the morale of forces and hit Pakistan hard,” says Subedar (Retd) Harish Patial of Bhota, near Hamirpur. For Anurag Thakur stakes it’s not alone his victory but also to prove that Dhumal still commands his influence in the constituency, where he had won the elections in 1989,1991 and 2007. Anurag Thakur, 44, had stepped into the shoes of his father in 2008 when Dhumal had become Chief Minister. He won the seat with a record margin of 1.74 lakh votes and never lost thereafter. Biggest criticism about Anurag Thakur is his high profile image when he headed the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) but was removed later by the Supreme Court following a controversy for not implementing the reforms recommended by Lodha Committee. The young BJP politicians, however, is credited with building a world-class cricket stadium at Dharamshala, a landmark even his critics in the Congress appreciates. Challenging him is Congress’s former minister and five-time MLA Ram Lal Thakur, who had been his strong critics ever since Anurag Thakur became Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) president. Thakur alleges, “Anurag did nothing in the constituency. He is also jumblebaaz like Modi. Most of the time he had been travelling abroad or attending high profile parties. He (Anurag) has not replied to my single question as to why he was removed by the Supreme Court from the post of BCCI president?” Congress candidate told the Millennium Post. Ram Lal Thakur, 67, never wanted to contest the poll but the party pushed his name after former PCC president Sukhwinder Sukhu and Congress Legislature Party leader Mukesh Agnihotri declined. But Anurag says, “My work in the constituency and Modi ji’s five years are strong points. Hamirpur is the only constituency, which has got new projects worth hundreds of crores.” He counts on Railway expansion projects, AIIMS, PGI satellite centre, Central University, Medical college, IIIT and National Highways. My mobile ‘Sawsathya Sewa hospital’ has been a big draw, besides “cricket Mahakumbh” for youths and claims having fully utilised the MPLAD. His campaign is supplemented by social media war while Congress has a problem of resources and top campaign strategists due to factionalism in the party.last_img read more

Premonsoon rainfall deficit drops to 22 Met data shows

first_imgNew Delhi: Pre-monsoon rainfall from March to May, a phenomenon vital to agriculture in several parts of the country, has recorded a deficiency of 22 per cent, according to India Meteorological Department (IMD) data.The IMD recorded 75.9 millimetres of rainfall from March 1 to May 15 as against the normal rainfall of 96.8 millimetres, which comes to around minus 22 per cent. From March 1 to April 24, the IMD recorded a deficiency of 27 per cent. The deficiency this week seems to have fallen over the last fortnight due to rains over east and northeast India. Meanwhile, the southwest monsoon has advanced into South Andaman Sea and conditions are favourable for it to reach the North Andaman Sea and the Andaman Islands in the next 2-3 days, the IMD said. Of the four meteorological divisions of the IMD, the south peninsula, which comprises all the southern states, has recorded pre-monsoon deficiency of 46 per cent the highest in the country. This was followed by 36 per cent in the northwest subdivision that covers all the north Indian states it was 38 per cent from March 1 to April 24, but has dropped by 2 per cent due to rainfall across several parts. The deficiency in the east and northeast region that covers eastern states of Jharkhand, Bihar, West Bengal, Odisha and northeastern states was seven per cent. There was no deficiency in the central region which comprises states of Maharashtra, Goa, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. However, from March 1 to April 24 the pre-monsoon rainfall recorded in the central division was five per cent than normal. The region has also been witnessing intense heat waves and several dams in the Marathwada region of Maharashtra have reached zero storage level. Pre-monsoon rainfall is important for horticulture crops in some parts of the country. In states like Odisha, ploughing is done in the pre-monsoon season, while in parts of northeast India and the Western Ghats it is critical for plantation of crops. Laxman Singh Rathore, former director general of the IMD, said in parts of northeast India and the Western Ghats, pre-monsoon rainfall is critical for plantation crops. There will be “moisture stress” incase of a deficit, he said. Crops like sugarcane and cotton, planted in central India, survive on irrigation and also require supplement of pre-monsoon rains, Rathore added. “In the forested regions of Himalayas, pre-monsoon rainfall is necessary for plantations like apple. Due to moisture, pre-monsoon rainfall also helps in minimising the occurrence of forest fires,” he said.last_img read more

The Heat Should Keep Playing Small Ball

Every NBA game between the Miami Heat and the Indiana Pacers is a contrast in styles. While the Pacers rely heavily on a starting lineup featuring two traditional big men, the Heat employ a multitude of flexible lineups favoring speed and shooting. This contrast presents advantages and disadvantages for both teams; each game, each team has to either make the other team adjust or adjust themselves.Through the first three games of Eastern Conference finals, the Heat were making the adjustment, using lineups with two traditional big men far more often than they did during the regular season. And though the Heat won two of the first three games, it didn’t work too well.Miami Heat Minutes Played And Point Differentials, By LineupThe Heat regularly use just three players who could reasonably be categorized as bigs: Chris Andersen, Chris Bosh and Udonis Haslem. With Andersen unavailable in Game 4 because of a calf injury, the Heat were forced to stay small. They used the combination of Haslem and Bosh for just six minutes together about 13 percent of the game, a single stretch in which they outscored the Pacers by one point. Over the remaining 42 minutes, the Heat’s smaller lineups outscored the Pacers by 11 points. The Heat beat the Pacers 102-90 and lead the series 3-1.For the most part, the Pacers have outscored the Heat when Miami has two big men on the floor; the less Miami does that, the better off it is.Playing these small lineups helps spread the floor, opening driving lanes for the Heat’s ball handlers and stretching the Pacers’ defense. In Game 4, that stretch effect (and the open lanes that resulted) were one of the main factors in the Heat’s series-high 34 free-throw attempts. The Pacers complained about the officiating, but the Heat’s free-throw rate in Game 4 was roughly as far above their season average against the Pacers as their free-throw rate in Games 1 and 2 was below it.The Heat’s small lineups also coincided with the best game in the series from Bosh — 25 points on a 76.2 true shooting percentage. This development shouldn’t have been unexpected. Across the season, Bosh’s true shooting percentage was about 8 percentage points higher when he played without either Andersen or Haslem as compared with when he played alongside one of them.Game 4 gave the Heat firm control over the Pacers and the rest of the series, but it also provided an emphatic reminder: The Heat are at their best with a small lineup on the floor, even with its inherent drawbacks. read more

The Giants Clustered Their Luck

The 41,911 fans who filed into AT&T Park on June 8 got lucky. It was a perfect, 74-degree Sunday afternoon (instead of the notoriously fickle San Francisco weather), and the sky was filled with glorious sunshine. Those in attendance got a taste of baseball glory, too. The Giants beat the Mets 6-4 that day, making it five wins in a row for Los Gigantes. With that win, they improved to 42-21. A year after stumbling to a 76-86 record, the Giants owned the best record in baseball.They’ve been terrible ever since. San Francisco has lost 16 of its last 21 games, the worst record for any major league team during that time. After owning a 9.5-game lead in the NL West on June 8, the Giants have given most of it up, clinging to a half-game lead on the Dodgers. You can find all kinds of reasons for that swoon. Injuries forced journeyman Tyler Colvin and light-hitting rookie Joe Panik to take on regular playing time, with predictably bad results. Mike Morse, an early-season terror at the plate, hasn’t hit a lick for the past month. And closer Sergio Romo turned into a piñata, becoming former closer Sergio Romo in the process.Few could have predicted such a sharp and sudden drop. But one indicator did suggest that regression was coming, sooner or later: cluster luck.In a late-May Grantland column, I wrote about the concept of cluster luck as a way to explain how a series of good (or bad) events coming one after another can propel or punish a team:Joe Peta, a former Wall Street trader, presented cluster luck in his book, Trading Bases. Essentially, the concept boils down to this: When a team’s batters cluster hits together to score more runs and a team’s pitchers spread hits apart to allow fewer runs, that’s cluster luck. Say a team tallies nine singles in one game. If all of those singles occur in the same inning, the team would likely score seven runs; if each single occurs in a different inning, however, it’d likely mean a shutout.You’ll sometimes hear a broadcaster talk about a team that scores in bunches, or a pitcher who knows how to scatter hits. But those streaks don’t tend to last very long, since these aren’t sustainable skills for most teams, or players. So when a team has high cluster luck numbers, it usually means its luck isn’t going to last long. Losses are likely around the corner.Sports analyst Ed Feng, proprietor of ThePowerRank.com, calculates cluster luck by using the Base Runs formula to compare actual runs scored and runs allowed to expected runs scored and runs allowed. When that Grantland article ran just over a month ago, Feng had found that the 32-19 Giants ranked second in the majors in cluster luck. And while Giants hitters had bunched hits together about as well as an average team’s hitters would, their pitchers had been astoundingly fortunate, giving up 22 fewer runs than you’d expect over their first 51 games.1Three days after my Grantland article ran, the excellent Colorado Rockies blog Purple Row published an article that noted how the Giants had put up better numbers than any other team both in high-leverage pitching and hitting situations. So cluster luck wasn’t the only factor at work, nor the only one likely to regress.On Wednesday, Feng updated his cluster luck rankings. Below is the ranking of the 30 teams from luckiest to unluckiest:Whatever luck the Giants had earlier in the season, these latest numbers show that their good fortune has almost completely evaporated. A lot of that pullback falls on Romo. From May 29 to June 28, the team’s erstwhile closer allowed 12 hits in nine and two-thirds innings — subpar numbers for a closer, but not necessarily fatal ones, assuming those hits were spread out. They were not. Romo worked four straight perfect innings from June 4 through June 12, with all 12 of those hits coming in just six appearances. All told, opponents blasted him for 10 runs in those six appearances, netting a 16.88 ERA. The biggest beating came on June 13, when the Colorado Rockies clobbered him for four hits, drew a walk and tallied five runs in just one-third of an inning.2The Rockies have been a house of horrors for Romo this year. His past four outings against them netted this line: three innings pitched, 11 hits, 11 runs.The Giants are a talented team, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see them contend for the NL West title, and maybe even make a run at the World Series. They have a young ace in Madison Bumgarner, Tim Hudson enjoying a late-career revival, Tim Lincecum suddenly pitching masterfully, All-Stars Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval heating up after lousy starts, excellent first baseman Brandon Belt due back soon after a long stint on the disabled list, and a general manager who’s made lots of aggressive trades in his 18 years at the helm. The cluster luck regression has come, yet they’re still hanging onto first place.We could see more teams experience cluster luck pullbacks, starting with Seattle. The Mariners boast plenty of front-line talent themselves, with Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma at the top of the rotation. Robinson Cano is performing about as well as a guy with six home runs can, and 23-year-old Mike Zunino is emerging as a top defensive catcher and dangerous power hitter. Underrated third baseman Kyle Seager is putting up career-best numbers, and the bullpen is leading the American League both in ERA and in fielding-independent metrics. This is also a team with lots of holes, one that has 36-year-old banjo hitter Endy Chavez leading off every day, to name only the most glaring problem. Yet the Mariners are on fire, having won four in a row, 10 of their last 12, and 27 of their last 43 games.That’s what happens when your hitters bunch together hits better than any other team. Through Tuesday, the Mariners had scored 31 more runs than you’d expect from a club with average hit distribution. That Tuesday game offered a Ph.D.-level course in what happens when your hitters click at the same time. Coming into the sixth inning, Seattle clung to a narrow 3-1 lead. The first two batters of the inning reached on a walk and an infield single, followed by two straight groundouts by the lineup’s 1-2 hitters. Then, an outburst. Cano doubled. Seager doubled. Logan Morrison doubled. Zunino doubled. Michael Saunders singled. Finally, Ackley capped the monster inning with a sixth straight Mariners hit, this one an RBI single. All told, Seattle scored seven runs on seven hits in the sixth, an incredibly tough feat to pull off without the benefit of a single homer.None of this is meant to suggest that the Mariners will fall into an immediate slump, the way the Giants did.3Or that teams with poor cluster luck numbers like the Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Angels and Pittsburgh Pirates will suddenly go on monstrous winning streaks and steamroll the rest of the league. There are good reasons to like the chances of all three of those teams, to varying degrees. They have the best pitcher in the American League, and a supporting cast that’s getting increasing contributions from younger players. After sweeping the lowly Astros, they now play seven straight against the struggling White Sox and Twins. And they recently called up top pitching prospect Taijuan Walker from the minors, a far better fifth starter than Erasmo Ramirez, Brandon Maurer or others Seattle might have considered.Still, the Ms probably shouldn’t settle for the roster they have now. They already opened the vault for Robinson Cano last winter, and they’ve got the ample TV revenue they’ll need to go after other big talents. The cluster luck beast is lurking in the shadows, and the trade deadline is coming up. Might as well try to fight back. read more