Chris Grant: Spring Fever

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It is kind of hard to believe a hockey team from Nashville is going to play in the Stanley Cup Finals, right?

This is no knock against the Predators because they are a great team. It’s just strange to see professional hockey in the American south. I still remember when the NHL expanded into Florida, Dallas and Phoenix and how weird that all was. They’re not supposed to play hockey in places where the only ice you typically find is in a cold drink! But, to the credit of the league and the fans in those various cities, it seems to have all worked out, and now, Nashville has a very legitimate chance to bring the Stanley Cup to the Volunteer State.

First, they must wait for the Ottawa-Pittsburgh series to end. I have to believe the majority of Canada is behind the Senators in this Game 7. Yes, Sidney Crosby is the star for the Penguins and he is Canadian, but there has not been a team from Canada in the Finals since the Vancouver Canucks lost to the Boston Bruins in 2011. You have to go all the way back to 1993 to find a Canadian team that actually won the Cup (that was the Montreal Canadians if you were wondering.) That is an incredibly long drought for the cradle of the sport. I kind of like Ottawa’s chances this year, but Crosby can be awfully tough to stop in deciding games. So, you know, we’ll see.

We are halfway to a rematch of last year’s NBA Finals. I talked about this a lot last week, so I will be brief. Golden State was simply too good for San Antonio. I believe the same is true for Cleveland with regards to Boston. The Celtics are clinging to the slimmest of hopes, down 3-1 as I write this, but I say they are done Thursday night. Then we get the rematch everyone wanted. Well, everyone except the fans of all the teams who’ve been eliminated from the playoffs thus far.

I have held off talking baseball for most of the spring. I figure we’ve got all summer to do it with few distractions, but I feel like I need to mention the Houston Astros before they go off and wrap up the American League West in June.

As of this morning, the Astros are 31-15 and are, hands down, the best team in baseball. If you believe Sports Illustrated, this is a development that has been a long time coming.

Each of the past two seasons, that magazine has proclaimed Houston the new ‘it’ team and it appears this year that prediction is coming to fruition. There is a lot to like in Houston. Lots of good young talent that is just now coming into its prime. They have plenty of power and speed and their starting pitching appears to be good this season. It is a strange thing for me. Growing up in Texas I was always aware of the Astros and they were never really very good. They had some nice years in the mid-1980’s, but never managed to get to the World Series, so they were always an afterthought to me.

I don’t now how this will all play out. Houston’s talent is real but has little experience as far as the postseason goes. But, at the very least, they’ve got my attention now.