By Lenn Robbins
THE NERCENARIES BEGIN THE ONLY SEASON THAT MATTERS FOR THEM: The Nercenaries (Nets + mercenaries = Nercenaries) have exactly what they need. They get to sit back and heal until Saturday when they face the Boston Celtics, which beat the Wizards in a play-in game the Wizards didn’t seem to have much interest in playing.
A team comprised of Kevin Durant, James Harden, Kyrie Irving and Blake Griffin – none of whom were drafted by the organization – shouldn’t sweat the Celtics, who have limited advantages.
Boston has a superstar in Jayson Tatum but they’ll be without Jaylen Brown and the Bronx Lion known as Kemba Walker is more beat up than he’s letting on. These Celtics do have familiarity playing together in the postseason coach Brad Stevens has a huge edge over rookie Steve Nash.
The Nets should be as healthy as they’ve been all season. The Big 3 will have had some practice time which doesn’t compensate for having played just eight games together but it’s a positive.
It doesn’t matter if this first series is a walkover. The only measure of success for Brooklyn is a parade in Canyon of the Mercenaries – exactly where the Nets should feel at home.
TRAINERS WANTED: Each September MLB teams can call up players from their minor league affiliates. Having watched the first two games of many of the hockey playoff series it’s time for the NHL to consider a similar approach.
Each NHL team should be able to add a trainer.
Maybe it’s the fact that NHL teams have played each other as much as eight times in a 56-game regular season, or maybe it’s as a simple as, “It’s the playoffs!” But man has it been to watch as long as children and puppies aren’t in the room.
The Caps-Bruins series has featured 158 hits, 38 penalty minutes and Tom Wilson hasn’t even performed his first splenectomy of the postseason.
The Penguins won 6-of-8 from the Islanders in the regular season but Long Island’s team took Game 1, 4-3 in OT. Not only is it always good to win the opener but the Islanders punished the Penguins, outhitting them 72-47. Pittsburgh was a little more aggressive in Tuesday night’s 2-1 win, although the Islanders still outhit them, 46-37.
The Penguins clearly have a talent advantage, especially down the middle with Sydney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and the Islanders defense has to get more from a pairing other than Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock. The more the Islanders hit, the more they can slow the Penguins and negate the talent edge.
BOMBERS OR BUST – We’re deep enough into the season to acknowledge the Yankees have real problems on offense. Yes, they are fifth in home runs (57) and second in the American League. But if the Bombers don’t hit home runs, they struggle to score.
Consider they are 21st in RBI, 18th in runners left on base, 18th in hitting, last in hitting into double plays and last in stolen basis.
Last July, Stanford University, one of the great universities for student-athletes, not athlete-students, announced it was eliminating 11 non-revenue producing sports because, well, they don’t produce revenue. What they do, however, is provide opportunities to students who might not otherwise afford a college education and provide The Cardinal with exposure come the Olympics.
Had that decision stood, some 240 athletes in men’s and women’s fencing, field hockey, lightweight rowing, men’s rowing, co-ed and women’s sailing, squash, synchronized swimming, men’s volleyball and wrestling possibly would have lost that chance to go to college, along with the joy of competing.
A group known as, 36 Sports Strong, the number of varsity sports Stanford fields, which is twice the number of most institutions, basically said, “Not on our watch.” According to ESPN, that group helped raise $50 million in pledges to support those sports.
Not every college or university has the alumni capable of raising that kind of money. But as college and university athletics programs across the country continue to feel the brutal financial impact of COVID-19, the initial reaction at many might be to cut non-revenue sports. Stanford has proved no decision is final when it comes to intercollegiate sports.