I’m All Over the Sports World Today

Frank Vogel
Yes, Vogel's Pacers are in a 'must-win' situation in game two.

Normally I sit down and try to find a hot-button topic that will center on one specific sport but today I just feel the need to hit on a number of issues. After all, three of the four major US professional sports are in full swing. The National Basketball Association is in the midst of the conference finals while the National Hockey League is in the conference semi-final stages. Major League Baseball is of course cruising right along as usual. I’ll start ranting on hoops first.

Indiana and Miami hook up for game two of the Eastern Conference Final down on South Beach tonight and let’s face it, this game will determine the fate of the Pacers’ season. After a crushing game one defeat by a single point in overtime, the Pacers have to answer. There is no way that this team, let alone any other, will defeat the Heat in four of five remaining games.

I don’t think Roy Hibbert helped things by accusing Shane Battier of “dirty play” in game one. While it’s arguable that Battier went into Hibbert on a drive to the hoop with his knee aimed squarely at Hibbert’s groin, the big man is better off staying quiet. The Heat know they are in his head now. Indiana enters tonight as seven and half point underdogs and I’ll take that action although I think Miami wins another close one.

On the frozen surface, the league’s top team is in trouble. The Chicago Blackhawks who of course started the season with that incredible unbeaten streak are now down to the seventh seeded Red Wings three games to one after being shutout 2-0. Chicago had not lost three straight all season but has now.

The Wings are playing their typical, gritty style which has clearly frustrated the top scorers for the Blackhawks and goalie Jimmy Howard has been spectacular in net.

Out in Los Angeles, the Kings kept serve at home with a 3-0 win over the San Jose Sharks to take a 3-2 lead in that series. Jonathan Quick was solid in goal recording the shutout on 24 saves. Each team has won on their own ice throughout the series and the Sharks will need to keep the string alive on Sunday night in the Shark Tank.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the Pittsburgh Penguins who are essentially just 28 seconds from having swept the Ottawa Senators, but will have to return home to Pittsburgh to close out the series. Their 7-3 win in Ottawa two nights ago was exactly the reason they are favored to win the cup.

Miguel Cabrera
Is Cabrera making room for another ‘crown?’

Few teams in the NHL have the ability to explode offensively the way they did. The Pens are far more than just Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin as they showed in game four. I have no doubt they’ll close things out in game five.

Around the diamond, the hottest player in the game right now is the Detroit Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera. The reigning MYP and Triple Crown winner is batting .391 and has homered in four straight games. He also has six total home runs over that four game span. Currently, Cabrera is 41 points clear of the second best hitter, trails Baltimore’s Chris Davis by one home run and has an 11 run lead in RBI’s.

Cabrera is clearly on another MVP type pace and the Triple Crown obviously has to be in the discussion as well. The only thing potentially halting Cabrera’s march could be intentional walks. As teams did with Barry Bonds, they often find him less of a threat when he is on base. The cure for that however, is Prince Fielder who came through last night in this exact situation for the game-winning hit. As long as he keeps producing, teams will still need to pitch to Cabrera.

I love the odds on Cabrera winning MVP again, but he’ll need to keep up the power numbers for me to jump back on the Triple Crown bandwagon.