It’s a day late, but that doesn’t mean I can’t still write it! I thought Selection Sunday might give me plenty to write about, but the rest of the sports world didn’t disappoint, either.
1. The Chicago Blackhawks
I think they easily win the title of Worst Case of the Mondays. They had a horrible weekend.
First, on Saturday was a tough road game against the Flyers. They were scoreless going into the third, and the Flyers scored first. Kris Versteeg tied it just a couple minutes later, and ten minutes after that, Marian Hossa unleashed one of his lethal wristers to take the lead 2-1.
It looked to me like it was going to be another victory and two more points, but the Flyers weren’t going away. They tied it up with about two minutes to play in regulation, and it looked like overtime. But Chris Pronger scored with about two seconds left to seal it up. The Hawks went from two points, to at least one point, to no points in mere moments.
Sunday offered the opportunity to play the NHL’s best Washington Capitals, complete with Alex Ovechkin. The Hawks got out to a fast start, scoring the first three goals of the game. But that was it as far as good news was concerned. Washington proved why they’re the best in the league, scoring three goals in the third, including two in about ten seconds, and won it in overtime. What’s worse, Alex Ovechkin pushed Brian Campbell into the boards, leaving Campbell shaken up and not able to return. Ovechkin got a five minute major and a game misconduct for his troubles. That didn’t help the fact that Campbell ended up with a broken collarbone on the play, and will likely miss the rest of the regular season if not the playoffs too.
Campbell had been playing really well as of late, and it will be difficult to replace him in the lineup. Niklas Hjalmarsson is just as solid defensively, but Campbell brings offense that Hjalmarsson does not. Plus, with Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook maybe showing some Olympic fatigue, the Hawks need all the defense they can get.
The loss of two games and a top defenseman make a terrible weekend.
2. Illinois Fighting Illini
The local team was certainly on the bubble for an at-large NCAA Tournament bid. Ultimately they lost out, probably to someone in their own league (Minnesota). A lot of people thought that the Illini had secured their spot with a Big Ten Tournament win over Wisconsin, but the committee apparently didn’t agree.
While it was their second win over Wisconsin, the first came without Jon Leuer in the lineup for the Badgers, something I think the committee definitely took into accout. It was the same theme for their win over Michigan State, and the Spartans were playing without Kalin Lucas.
With an RPI of 75, the committee must have felt their body of work wasn’t good enough. It especially doesn’t look good when you lose five of your last six, including one game at home to Tourney-bound Minnesota in which they didn’t look particularly good. Minnesota also went one round further in the Big Ten Tournament.
“We had an opportunity to put a bigger gap between you and Minnesota at the standings,” head coach Bruce Weber said. “You don’t know at that time they might be your competition to get in or out.”
3. Rachel Alexandra
I’d love to expand this to all of horse racing, because so much was riding on this one horse.
In her first start of the year, Rachel Alexandra finished second in the New Orleans Ladies. Oh no! Rachel didn’t win??? God forbid she doesn’t win every race she’s entered in.
After the shocking loss, her owner Jess Jackson suddenly decided she wouldn’t be running in April 9th’s Apple Blossom. That race would have matched her up with the undefeated Zenyatta, a race that certainly would have gotten a ton of publicity. He’s already got a reputation for chickening out after not taking Curlin OR Rachel Alexandra to the Breeder’s Cup because of the synthetic surface. This move won’t help that reputation.
That’s a terrible move, in my opinion. After the New Orleans race, Jackson and trainer Steve Assmussen said that they rushed her training, and she wasn’t necessarily totally ready for the race. Earth to Jackson: It’s perfectly normal for a horse to not be in top shape early in the season! Lots of horses “need a race” to get back into top form, and that’s seemingly what happened here. It’s not like she got crushed either, she finished second by about three-quarters of a length.
No horse wins every race it enters. Well, that is except for Zenyatta of course.
It’s bad publicity, and it’s bad for the overall sport of horse racing. It’s a sport that desperately needs a shot in the arm, and this race would have done just that. I’m no expert, but it seems to me that Rachel could continue training and be totally ready for April 9th.
4. David Beckham
The English soccer star tore his achilles’ tendon on Sunday, ending his AC Milan season and keeping him out of this summer’s World Cup. It’s a terrible blow for Beckham, who isn’t exactly a young pup anymore. Becks is 34, and this World Cup would probably have been his last.
Beckham had successful surgery, and is expected to make a full recovery. He could be back in time to play for the LA Galaxy, but that wouldn’t be until Septmber.
Read more about Beckham’s injury here