King Kaufman’s Sports Daily

Triple overtime fun in the wee wee hours. Plus: A look at scab umps. And: Muhammad Ali.

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Want to see perfect happiness? Watch what happens when an NHL team scores a goal in the third overtime.

When Shawn Horcoff of the Edmonton Oilers sneaked the puck past San Jose Sharks goalie Vesa Toskala at 2:24 of the sixth period Wednesday night, there was a whooping, dog-piling celebration worthy of at least a conference final clinch, if not quite a Stanley Cup.

This was just in my house, because I finally got to go to bed. Imagine if the team I root for had actually won the game.

The Oilers seemed pleased as well.

I wish I could tell you more about this game, because I think it had a lot going for it, and I know at least 243 of you — hello, Albertans! — are interested. The Oilers, down 2-0 in the series, came out hitting and flying, their fans rocking, but the Sharks held a 2-1 lead after two periods, having netted two goals on six shots.

Raffi Torres sent the game to overtime with a wrister that beat Toskala glove-side with 6:47 to go in the third period. The intensity, roaring, skating and crunching hits continued through one overtime and then another, Toskala standing on his head in eventually turning away 54 shots.

I think I lost my eyesight late in the first overtime and my sanity somewhere in the second, but it might have been the other way around.

And you know what? I still had fun. Overtime playoff hockey is just the bomb. There’s no other sport that can give you such a combination of fluidity and — bam! — instantaneous game-ending drama.

I know you’re going to write and say: “Soccer.” OK, I’ll give you that just so we don’t have to argue. I’m short of sleep and don’t have the energy. But let me just say, between yawns, that unless there’s a steal on the doorstep or something, soccer goals tend to gather. The play develops, gains momentum toward a goal.

Because of the size of the playing field and the fact that people run slower than they ice-skate, it takes a few seconds for the situation to gain steam. That’s its own kind of excitement. I understand that.

But in hockey, while some plays gain momentum, soccer style, such as a length-of-the-ice rush, as often as not goals appear almost out of thin air. There’ll be a scrum much like a hundred other scrums in the same game, or some random perimeter passing, and then — bang! — red light. And in overtime it’s — bang! — game over.



And it doesn’t matter if your lads have been dominating, living in the attacking zone. One tricky bounce or bad pass, like Colorado defenseman Patrice Brisebois’ disastrous turnover in overtime Tuesday that led to the winning goal for Anaheim, and it’s curtains.

If overtime is good and double overtime is great, triple overtime must be out of this world. You can’t have too much of a good thing, right?

Just one thing: Can the next triple overtime game happen in the Eastern time zone?

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Scab umps affecting play in the minors? [PERMALINK]

A few weeks ago I wondered if the minor league umpires strike would have any effect on major league clubs’ player evaluations. Several big-league player development directors surveyed said they weren’t overly concerned.

Now, a month or so into the strike, Chris Constancio of the Hardball Times has conducted a little study to try to determine if the replacement umps, mostly local amateur arbiters, are biased toward the home team, as some managers have charged.

They’ve charged that after losing on the road, of course, not after winning at home.

Constancio compared the strikeout-to-walk ratios of home and away batters in all 10 full-season affiliated minor leagues. He wanted to see if visiting batters were striking out more and walking less than home batters. The answer: Yes.

But then, they did in the past too, though not by as much, according to the scant data Constancio has gathered so far. He’s still working on it.

The conclusion? “The season is still young and we need to collect more information to better understand the effects of the replacement umpires, but so far the evidence all points in the same direction. Home team batters appear to have an advantage at the plate.”

Constancio suggest keeping a closer-than-usual eye on home-road splits for minor leaguers as long as the strike continues.

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More good reading [PERMALINK]

Baltimore Sun columnist Rick Maese realized a lifelong dream last weekend when he got to meet Muhammad Ali in Louisville, Ky. Or at least he got to pose for a quick picture with the glassy-eyed, unresponsive former champ. Then he got to buy the photo for $20.

The experience unnerved Maese and made him think about life and death, and he wrote a Sunday column about it.

You’d only be interested if you’ve ever thought about those things too.

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And as long as I’m blogging … [PERMALINK]

One more link, an update on the “celebrity” simulation baseball league that marks my inaugural foray into fantasy baseball. Jonah Keri summarizes the first month of the AL-Kings season — named after yours truly and Peter King — at Baseball Prospectus.

After a 5-0 and 8-2 start, my team has stumbled to 16-16. Stumbled isn’t the right word. Royaled might be a better word. I’m tied for second in my division with Las Vegas tout and radio host Dave Cokin. We’re two games behind ESPN’s Rob — cough-testforsteroids-cough — Neyer.

Previous column: Bill James, Hall of Famer

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