Just like that friends, only weeks after I wrote my column about new blood, we are staring a potential dynasty in the face. The Tampa Bay Lightning steamrolled the Montreal Canadians in the Stanley Cup finals, winning the fifth and final game Wednesday night to claim their second straight Stanley Cup championship.
I am not great at assessing the NHL, but I can certainly see a team like the Lightning winning a few more of these with teams made up of their core players. Their goalie, Ryan O'Reilly, the Conn Smythe winner, was the most valuable player of the playoffs and is only 26 years old. Their leading scorer this year, Brayden Point, is only 25. Those are two pretty impressive building blocks on which to construct a team to three-peat.
I imagine the folks in the NBA league offices were pretty excited to see the Phoenix Suns and Milwaukee Bucks meet in the finals. This is definitely a case of the new blood rising to the top, but I am not sure it’s a best-case scenario for the league. They must have breathed a sigh of relief when Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, arguably the best player in the league and definitely the best player left in the playoffs, returned from his knee injury to play in Game 1. Not only did he play, but Antetokounmpo, delivered a double-double in the game. Of course, his stats didn’t really matter as the Suns won the game 118-105.
Despite the fairly large disparity in the final score, I get the feeling this series will go the distance. Both teams are very talented, and I don’t think either of them are that much better than the other. So, this should ultimately work out well for the league as the longer a series goes, the better chance it has to draw in casual viewers. After all, there is nothing more exciting than a Game 7 and I kind of think that’s where this series is headed.
Finally, I made it out to the old ballpark for the first time in three years this week! Just so happened to be in Anaheim while the Angels were hosting my beloved Boston Red Sox and could not pass up the chance to drag my daughter to what I believe is her 20th major league stadium. Honestly friends, my daughter cares little for these things. She’s a sullen 14-year-old, who still gets excited about the helmet sundae in the seventh inning, but mostly just complains about “having to watch sports.”
It’s okay though. I was happy to be there. I am still not sure how it has been three years since I’ve been to an MLB game. I mean, I get how I missed it last year. Basically no one went to a baseball game in 2020. But what was going on in 2019? I do not know! It was great to be back though. I love laying on my couch and watching sports all day, but it simply does not compare to being in the stadium and looking out over the great green expanse of the field and watching the athletes do what they do best.
When I lived in California, I went to Angel Stadium almost every year to watch the Red Sox, so this was something of a homecoming for me. Unfortunately (unless you’re an Angels’ fan) the Sox lost, which happens to be the first time I’ve ever seen that happen in Anaheim in person. But I am giving them a pass this year. After everything that has happened over the past 18 months, I am calling simply being in the stadium a win.