Miracle On Ice (Part 2)

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Chris NHLIf you’re not watching the NHL playoffs, you are missing out on some of the best sports drama of the year. If you don’t believe me, then take, for example, Monday night’s game seven between the Boston Bruins and the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Bruins were trailing in the contest 4-1, with less than 10 minutes to play, and people where streaming out of the TD Banknorth Garden as I searched the channels for something else to watch. Then it happened. A Bruins team that had scored two total goals in the two prior games, somehow scored three times in 10 minutes, and then added another goal just six minutes into the ensuing overtime period to win the game and the series.

Personally, it seemed to me that the miracle part of the game came when the Bruins were down 4-2 with less than a minute and 30 seconds to play. Boston, somehow, scored two goals in a 40-second span, both times with their goalie sitting on the bench to force the game into overtime. By that point, I had given up looking for something else to watch, and I’m pretty glad that was the case. The comeback Boston staged was one of the most exciting sports-related things I have seen in a very long time, and makes me look forward to following this year’s chase of the Stanley Cup to its ultimate fruition in June. I’m just hoping that the rest of the playoffs live up to the unbelievable finish of Monday night.

Speaking of miracles, it seems to me that Los Angeles Dodger Matt Kemp is in need of one. As I typed this Chris Matt Kempcolumn on Tuesday morning (and published much later by my editor), Kemp has exactly one more home run in this year’s season than I do. And keep in mind here, I don’t actually play Major League Baseball. You’ve got to wonder just what’s going on with the Dodgers former slugger. I will be honest with you, I have very good reason to worry about him as he is the centerpiece of my fantasy baseball team and I’m not going to win if he hits four home runs this year.

Kemp is also my favorite player on the Dodgers, and the Dodgers are the team I watch every night from the Central Time Zone after my family goes to bed, just so I can listen to Vin Scully. So, if Kemp’s not hitting bombs, then all I have to look forward to on Dodger broadcasts is listening to Vin, and while this is certainly enough to get me to tune in every night, it would be even better if Kemp would bust out of his slump.

So, what gives? Well, as you might know, Kemp had surgery on his shoulder in the offseason. While he claims his shoulder is not hurt, I don’t believe it. Watching the Dodgers play over the past few weeks, I have noticed that balls Kemp used to drive out of the park are now ending up in an opposing outfielder’s glove well short of the warning track. This seems like a pretty obvious indicator his power is lacking. I can recall one instance in particular from over the weekend, when he hit a ball to right-center that looked like it should be a home run, yet the ball did not even get to the warning track.

Chris Home RunThe good news is Kemp’s average is up over the past two weeks so, at the very least, he’s getting hits. The bad news is most of them are singles. There’s really no telling when Kemp’s power will return (or, honestly, if it will). Injuries are tricky things and they can affect an athlete for a long time, and sometimes they can change them completely. I certainly hope this is not the case for Kemp. He is too likable a guy and too great of a talent to wash out before his 30th birthday. At this point, all we can do is wait and see if he can bounce back. Hopefully it doesn’t take a miracle for it to happen.