The Daily Bongo

June 2008

Monday, June 30, 2008 -- Evening

Ryna Malone and Gary Roberts have both signed contracts with the Tampa Bay LIghtning. Ryan Malone's deal is for seven years and will net Malone $31.5 million. That's alot for someone of Malone's caliber who only had one good season out of the four he's been in the NHL. Meanwhile, Gary Roberts signed a one year deal for $1.25 million. At his age and production, he really couldn't expect more. The local sports guys are saying that Evgeni Malkin is close to signing a deal with the Pens.

Sunday, June 29, 2008 -- Evening

The finals of Euro 2008 were today. German had beaten Turkey 3-2 on Wednesday, and Spain had beaten the Russia with a final score of 3-0. So German and Spain played today. Everyone was saying that German was the better team, but Spain has alot of really good players. In fact, Spain did well the entire tournament. Today was no exception. Even though they missed quite a few good opportunities with the ball bouncing off the goal post, or just missing the foot of a striker, Spain still managed to pull out a win with a final score of 1-0.

Saturday, June 28, 2008 -- Early Evening

I was napping this afternoon when I got a Pens text alert. The Pens traded the negotiating rights for Ryna Malone and Gary Roberts to the Tampa Bay LIghtning for a fourth round draft pick. If Malone signs with Tampa Bay, the draft pick will become a third round pick. I can understand why the Pens did it. Malone wasn't going to sign with the Pens and at least now they get a draft round pick out of it. Also Roberts made it very clear that he wasn't going to stay here either. Also, yesterday Brooks Orpik turned down a contract offer from the Pens. If the Pens don't sweeten the deal with Orpik by Tuesday, he also could be leaving the team. The Pens have $56.7 million to spend on players this coming season.

Friday, June 27, 2008 -- Evening

It seems that the Mars Polar Lander has given scientists something to think about. It seems that tests have shown that the Martian soil may be more alkaline than scientists expected. So far, it seems that the nutrients in the soil are conducive to supporting and sustaining life. This has interesting implications for terriforming the planet. Of course, the question to ask is if we should terriform the planet.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008 -- Evening

Gary Roberts has said that he will not be returning to the Pens next season. Roberts' agent said that Roberts understands that the Pens have other priorities and that he undstands that. Roberts isn't leaving with bad feelings though, and he will see where free agency takes him.

Scientists think that they have an explanation for the differences between the north and south hemispheres on Mars. They believe that an asteroid the size of the Earth's moon may have hit into the northern regions of Mars. From an analysis of the surface and crust of Mars, scientists say that Mars has the largest impact scar in the Solar System. In fact, the scientists theorize that the northern hemisphere may have had a huge ocean. It just goes to show how nature can be distructive. We worry so much about what humans can do, but a huge asteroid can just come down and wipe you out. Look at the dinosaurs and now Mars.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008 -- Morning

The owners of Big Brown are really reaching for a problem other than lack of steroids to explain why the horse lost the Belmont Stakes. There were reports in Blood Horse magazine that Big Brown's right rear shoe came loose at the start of the Belmont. The photographer zoomed in on the image to show it all to us. However, this sort of thing happens naturally. Tom Dutrow, the trainer, noticed that there was some separation between shoe and hoof, but Big Brown didn't seem sore. Also, the farrior had to remove the shoe, and at that time, noted that the shoe wasn't totally loose on the foot, just off in the back. Of course, the owners want any other than steroids to be the problem. However, it's hard to ignore the fact that the horse doesn't seem to have any problems, and the only thing that can be said for sure is that Big Brown did not get his monthly steroid shot in the middle of May.

The Pens are having an equipment sale this Friday from 4 p.m. till 8 p.m at the Marriot City Center. They will be selling both new and game used equipment. This will be your chance to get something used by a player during a game.

The Wall Street Journal has come up with a list of the top 10 athletes. They based their analysis on six criteria: speed; vision and reflex; stamina and recovery; coordination and flexibility; power, strength and size; and success and competitiveness. I mention this because Sidney Crosby showed up as number six on the list. Crosby spends a good deal of time getting into shape and deserves the designation. Here's the complete list.

Sunday, June 22, 2008 -- Evening

Marian Hossa has told the Pens that he would like to try his hand at free agency come July 1. This does not mean that he won't sign with the Pens. The story is that the Pens made him an offer, and he wants to see how it compares to other offers that he might receive. At this point, it sounds me as if Hossa will not be a Pen after all.

The Euro Cup 2008 semifinal rounds are sent. Yesterday, the Netherlands lost to Russia. I was upset over that one because you have to love a team that wears orange. That is unless they are playing against the Pens or the Steelers. The final score was 3-1 in the Russians' favor. Today was another good game. This time it was Spain against Italy. Again, I was rooting on the Italians because the players are so cute, and they are Italian after all. Well, the game was tied at 0 in regulation and went into over time. Still tied at 0 by the end of that, so it was time for penalties kicks. There was alot of talk about how Spain had lost three other matches on June 22 in past years, but this year, they broke the jinx. Spain got 4 points in penalty kicsk while Italy only had two. So the final matchups are: Germany vs. Turkey and Russia vs. Spain. The games will be at the end of next week.

Friday, June 20, 2008 -- Evening

More rumors today. This time, Evgeni Malkin was supposedly considering a deal to go to Russia and be one of the higest pay hockey players in the world. The offer was coming from a new hockey league in Russia. The problem is that Malkin has a deal with the NHL, and there were going to be repercussions if the Russian league tried to lure Malkin back to Russia. Well, Malkin's agent finally spoke out this evening, and said that Malkin is interested in staying in Pittsburgh and playing for the Pens.

The NHL draft is going on right now. Unfortunately, the Pens have given up all their earlier picks to get players though the year, like Marian Hossa so it will be a long while before we know who the Pens pick.

Euro 2008 soccer has been going on for the past few weeks, and there was an exciting quarterfinal game this afternoon. Turkey played Croatia, and the game was tied at 0 at the end of regulation. The game went into overtime, and as the overtime was winding down, Croatia scored. They started celebrating, and their fans were going crazy. However, seconds later, in the injury time, Turkey scored to tie things. it went to a shoot out, and Turkey won with three goals to Croatia's one. Turkey will meet up against Germany in the semifinal game. Germany knocked out Portugal yesterday. Tomorrow the Netherlands plays Russia and Sunday Spain plays Italy.

Thursday, June 19, 2008 -- Evening

Rumors have been flying around town that the Pens want to trade Evgeni Malkin so they can keep Marian Hossa a little bit longer. Sometimes I wonder where these stories come from. I would think that the Pens would be rather foolish to trade Malkin, especially for one of the supposed offers of the second pick in this year's draft and some third rate player from the LA Kings. So the LA Kings said that they have had offers for their second pick in the draft (picking second) but decided to stay with their committment to youth. Well, that would seem to eliminate Malkin as an offer since 21 is definitely youth, and that's how old Malkin is. I place little credence in hockey rumors because I have been burned too many times in the past. After the hockey lockout where there were rumors the entire year that "next week" hockey would be back, I know that the rumors are just that: rumors. Tomorrow is the first day of the draft, so if any trades are going to be done, they will have to be completed by tomorrow. Meanwhile Ryan Malone has negated any trade rumors about himself by announcing that he is waiting for free agency to start on July 1. The Pens would have preferred to trade Malone, but since he isn't willing to talk to other teams, they are stymied.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008 -- Early Morning

I went to see the new Adam Sandler movie You Don't Mess with the Zohan last night. The basic plot of the movie is that Sandler is a Mossad agent who is the best at catching terrorists. Actually Zohan is one of those people who excels at all things in life: picking up women, discoing, and catching terrorists by leaping talll buildings and catching bullets in his nostrils. You know, the typical terrorist hunter. However, Zohan is tired of the fighting and wants to cut and style hair. So he fakes his death in a fight with super terrorist, the Phantom, and sneaks into the US by stowing away in a dog carrier on a plane. Once in New York, Zohan finds that it's not very easy to get a job with this idol, Paul Mitchell. He winds up working in a hair salon run by a Palestinian girl in a mixed Araba/Israeli area. Usually, I'm not an Adam Sandler fan because his movies tend to overdo the gross part of his comedy. Zohan isn't much different. It wont' ruin the plot to say that Sandler spends a good deal of time having sex with the older female clients in the salon. And Zohan just doesn't have sex with them, he practically makes out with them in the salon chair. With that said, I did enjoy the movie. I laughed throughout the movie, and I loved picking up on the Israeli and Heberew moments. The movie gets a definite rating of yofi tofi and beseder in my book. However, if you aren't into juvenile male humor, and you don't want to see Adam Sandler shimmying his naked butt checks, this might not be the movie for you.

Sunday, June 15, 2008 -- Late Morning

There is some news on the Pens front. The big question on everyone's mind is which players will the Pens be able to sign up to contracts over the summer. After the NHL awards show on Thursday, Evgeni Malkin quoted as saying that he would love to stay in Pittsburgh, and that he wants to extend his contract for a few years. Malkin said, "I'm thinking maybe five or six years. I'm an easy guy to deal with. I'd love to stay in Pittsburgh." Meanwhile, yesterday, the Pens filed for arbitration with Marc-Andre Fleury. This gives the team until the end of July to come up with a deal with Fleury. If they hadn't filed for arbitration, Fleury would have become a restricted free agent on July 1. As a restricted free agent, other teams could have made an offer to Fleury which the Pens would have to match. The big news is that the Pens are supposedly seeking to make a deal with Marian Hossa. Supposedly, the offer doesn't give Hossa a yearly increase, and he would probably remain around $7 million. However, it would be a long term deal that would keep Hossa in Pittsburgh for seven years. Do the math. It would be a $50 million contract over that span of time. Again, the Pens are supposedly hoping to announce the deal this weekend. Note all the supposedlys. When and if the deal is made, I'll post it.

Thursday, June 12, 2008 -- Evening

The NHL had its award ceremony this evening. Here are the list of winners:

Award for outstanding rookie
Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks

Award for outstanding defensive forward
Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings

Awarded to most valuable player to his team
Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals

Award for outstanding coach
Bruce Boudreau, Washington Capitals

Award for outstanding defenseman
Nick Lidstrom, Detroit Red Wings

Awarded to player that displays sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct
Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings

Awarded to the most outstanding player as voted by fellow NHLPA members
Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals

Award for outstanding goaltender
Martin Brodeur, New Jersey Devils

For the player who exhibits perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey
Jason Blake, Toronto Maple Leafs

Wednesday, June 11, 2008 -- Late Morning

Rick Dutrow, trainer of Big Brown, is blaming jockey, Kent Desormeaux, for Big Brown's dismal performance in the Belmont Stakes. When I was watching the race, you could see that Big Brown was tossing his head around a good deal. Dutrow claims that was because Desormeaux was pulling back on Big Brown and not letting him run his race. Dutrow said that he told Desormeaux to let Big Brown run if he wanted to because the pace of the race might not be fast. Da' Tara, who won the race, had the lead the whole way and finished the race in 2:29.65, which isn't a fast time. Thy syndicate that owns Big Brown said that Desormeaux will continue as the regular jockey, although Dutrow admitted that his preference was for Edgar Prado. Another item to note is that Big Brown's monthly steroid shots will be started again. I think that Dutrow started blaming Desormeaux because Dutrow was getting alot of questions about Big Brown failing due to the fact that he didn't get his monthly shot of Winstrol, the anabolic steroid that Big Brown has been getting on a monthly basis.

I was reading a rather lengthy article written Nicholas Carr for this month's the The Atlantic magazine about how the Internet is changing the cognitive abilities of people. It seems that the author's thesis is that because it is very easy to get access to a large and varied amount of information. People are now being less likely to spend time reading books, especially lengthy ones because they want their information in quick, bite-sized morsels that they can easily digest. I have to admit that I do alot of skimming when I am searching for information or news on the Internet. At the same time, that doesn't mean that I don't like to read the lengthier pieces. I may be anomaly, but I read the longer pieces, such as Carr's piece, by printing them off and reading them on paper. It may be that those people who Carr mentions "save" the information may be doing just what I am doing. I also don't know if I buy the premise that people aren't reading books because the book industry seems to be doing well. I think that people are less likely to browse books, and if they look for information, they may refer to the Internet because you don't have to go to the library or bookstore to access the information. Carr also mentions that he thinks people's cognitive skills are being changed by the Internet, but really doesn't provide any research or statistics that back his claim. It's all just word of mouth. Needless to say, this article left me with mixed feelings and opinions. I think that some people may become more like the pancakes that Carr mentions, spread wide and thin. However, whether that is a good or bad thing, only time can tell.

Monday, June 9, 2008 -- Afternoon

Dominik Hasek officially announced his retirement for the second time today. The first time Hasek retired was in 2002 right after the Detroit Red Wings last won the Stanley Cup. Hasek probably won't be coming back after this retirement because he is now 43 years and has had issues with injuries and motivation over the past year. Hasek has been one of my favorite goalies, and it will be sad to know that he will not be playing again.

I just finished reading the latest Joan Hess book, Mummy Dearest. The book was a quick and interesting read. It made many references to the Amelia Peabody mysteries written by Elizabteh Peters (aka Barbara Mertz). Read my review of the book.

Saturday, June 7, 2008 -- Evening

Today was the 140th running of the Belmont Stakes. For the past few weeks now, everyone, including me, has had Triple Crown fever. It seemed a foregone conclusion that Big Brown would easily win the race and become the twelfth Triple Crown winner and the first since Affirmed won it in 1978. People expressed concern when Big Brown developed a quarter crack in his left front hoof. However, it was taken care of, and Big Brown had the clearance to run in the race. Casino Drive was scratched from the race when he developed a stone bruise in his left hind leg, which left Casino Drive favoring the leg. Casino Drive was considered the biggest challenger for Big Brown because of Casino Drive's genes. He had Jazel (winner of the 2006 Belmont) and Rags to Riches (winner of the 2007 Belmont) as his siblings. The path seemed clear for a win. However, Big Brown was denied the Triple Crown when he didn't show up to run. Perhaps it was the heat, with temperatures in the 90s. Perhaps it was because of the lapses in training due to the quarter crack. Perhaps it was due to the lack of his monthly steroid shot on May 15. Whatever the cause, when Kent Desormeaux asked Big Brown to run, he just continued to canter. Desormeaux didn't continue to ask Big Brown, but let him ease up. Big Brown finished last in the field of nice. The winner was the Nick Zito trained Da' Tara, a 38-1 longshot. Da' Tara lead for most of the race and won the mile and a half race by 5 1/4 lengths in a time of 2:29.65. Denis of Cork finished second and Anak Nakal and Ready's Echo were in a dead heat for third place. Big Brown was being examined for problems since his performance was so far from normal. There may be more news on Big Brown if someone does actually determine a physical cause for his poor performance.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008 -- Evening

It seems that someone out there used Photoshop to put Petr Sykora in the pose that Babe Ruth made famous when he called his homerun in one of the World Series games. I'm not sure who did it, but it's a great picture. Everyone has been talking about Sykora telling Pierre McGuire and his teammates that he would score in Monday's second OT period, and then he wound up actually making the winning goal in the third OT. It seems that Sykora has been getting ribbed alot about the call and the comparisons to Ruth. All in all this is an excellent photo!

It was not to be this year. The Pens lost to the Red Wings this evening, and it was a sad moment. It was so close. In the last second of the game, Marian Hossa almost got the puck into the goal, but the puck just skimmed over the line and didn't cross it. The Pens lost with a final score of 3-2. The Pens were playing like a tired team, and Fleury wasn't at his best. As the handshake was happening at the end of the game, the fans were chanting Marc-Andre Fleury's name. Henrik Zetterberg won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the series MVP. It was heartbreaking to see the Red Wings celebrating the Stanley Cup, but the stands were full of fans. Well, there is always next year. The Pens did a great job this season, and that is something that we should try to keep in mind.

Monday, June 2, 2008 -- Late Evening

The Pens played the Red Wings in game five this evening. The Pens came out to fight and got the first two points with goals by Marian Hossa and Adam Hall. The second period was a rough one for the Pens. The Red Wings scored, Sergei Gonchar slid face first into the boards behind Chris Osgood, and Ryan Malone got a puck in the face in the last seconds of the second. Malone was back in the game at the beginning of the third period with tissue up his nose and blood caked on the side of his face. Gonchar was back too. The third period was a rough one with a close one where in the first five minutes when it looked like the Red Wings had knocked in a puck, but it has just gone off the crossbar and didn't cross the line. Unfortunately, the Red Wings tied things up and then got the go ahead goal in the third period. With 34 seconds left in the third, Max Talbot scored! The game was tied, and it went to overtime! In fact it went into three overtimes. Both sides were playing with a frenzy, and Marc-Andre Fleury was making some great saves after facing 58 shots. In the second overtime, Petr Sykora told Pierre McGuire that he was going to score the game winner. Well, midway through third overtime, Sykora scored on a power play. Who would have thought! It was the most exciting game--almost 110 minutes of great hockey. It was the best because in the third period, the announcers were showing the Cup, and getting ready for the presentation. Now it comes back to PIttsburgh for game 6! Final score: Pens 4 - Red Wings 3. First star of the game was Fleury. Second star was Sykora.

Sunday, June 1, 2008 -- Late Afternoon

The Phoenix Mars Lander may have already found ice. It seems that scientists noticed that the Lander actually appears to be have landed on patches of ice. When the scientists took photos of the ground under the Lander, they noticed the patches. Right now, scientists have been testing the Lander's robotic arm for a few days. They discovered a short circuit in the device that will analyze the scooped up samples. So far, scientists are saying that they don't believe that the intermittent problem will affect the mission.

Sunday, June 1, 2008 -- Early Afternoon

I have my pictures from last night's game posted. Even though it was a loss, the atmosphere at the Arena was electric. The crowd was so loud that I couldn't hear anyone talking near me, or hear myself when I tried to talk. The thing that I thought was interesting was that the jerk who is always quick to stand was also quick to leave the game early. There were over three minutes left in the game, and the guy said good-bye to his friends and left. I was happy because it was easier to see the game, but you have to wonder how any "true" fan could up and leave at that point. I guess he had to leave before his coach changed back into a pumpkin.