Monthly Archives: March 2011

Baseball Preview Day 4: Concussions In Baseball

This was the play that ended Justin Morneau's season.

Justin Morneau was 0-10 in live baseball games this spring up until this week. He was hit by a few balls and took a few good cuts, but he just couldn’t seem to get going.


Recovering from a concussion in baseball may be harder than one would ever think.


Morneau hasn’t played since July 7th of last year when his head met the knee of Blue Jays infielder John McDonald during his attempted breakup of a double play. At first it was supposed to be a mild concussion that was going to keep him out for one-maybe two games.


Then the All-Star game past… then August… September… the playoffs… and a month of spring training. Morneau had not had an at-bat in over 90 games of live ball due to that one seemingly harmless play that has hurt him in the short-term and possibly could effect him for the long haul.


It’s also raised awareness about the severity of concussions in Major League Baseball and what the future holds for players who could end up like Morneau.


Concussions as you know have become a hot topic in football and hockey circles recently. Head injuries have been moved to the forefront in light of devastating injuries that have occurred recently to Sidney Crosby, Austin Collie, Marc Savard and a slew of other players.


Crosby’s case is similar to Morneau’s in the sense that the hit he took he took in the Winter Classic seemed relatively harmless but has kept him out for nearly 4 months.

Concussions have been a major cause for concern in the NHL and NFL.

The difference in the cases of the NFL, NHL and now the MLB is that football and hockey are much more physical sports with a higher risk for injury. The NFL reported that this year had the number of recorded head injuries in the history of the league. The news has made the league more cautious of how to handle head injuries and it is going over guidelines on how to make the league safer for players.


You wouldn’t think that Major League Baseball would have the same cause for concern. Even in instances when we do see a player hit in the head by a pitch or by a line drive the severity of the injury is relatively low.


There have been instances where I’ve seen players hit in the head by wild pitches and the fall, get up, shake it off and act like nothing happened.


The dynamic changed four years ago when Mike Coolbaugh, a first-base coach of the Texas league’s Tulsa Drillers was killed by a line drive in the ninth inning of a game. Ever since then first and third-base coaches have to wear batting helmets as a mandatory guideline mandated by the league.


However, most batting helmets protect against a certain level of speed that a ball is thrown. Most Major League batting helmets to tend to protect against speeds that hit only up to 80 mph (even Barry Zito’s fastball hits 80… sometimes). But for the most part there’s no way that those helmets are going to be useful if a Justin Verlander fastball goes AWOL and knocks a guy out.


In recent years, helmets have been designed to protect against 90 mph and Rawlings introduced the S100 helmet, which can protect batters against 100 mph fastballs. The thing is that these helmets are not required to be worn by teams. Simply put, baseball’s motto is, wear a helmet, it doesn’t matter what kind it is as long as you got one on. The reality is that the S100 should be a mandatory piece of equipment worn by Major league Baseball teams.


Then there are other instances where head injuries can occur.

Jason Bay's season was also cut short after running into a wall.


Mets outfielder Jason Bay suffered a season ending concussion by running into a padded wall at Dodger Stadium on July 23rd. Anyone who watches baseball knows that those walls have as much padding as the Mets have good luck. Very little.


Up until the Bay injury no one has ever really though of how to make those walls safer. Now they may want to. Padded walls have led to injuries suffered by Ken Griffey Jr. and Aaron Rowand amongst others. In Bay’s case losing a guy to a concussion by running into a cement wall with 3 inches of foam padding might be cause for greater concern.


We always see players give up their bodies to make plays to keep a game in their favor. Now those types of plays can knock a guy out for long periods of time. I’m not saying the MLB should make outfielders wear helmets incase something were to happen, but they have to view their options before someone gets seriously injured again


These are issues that should be made relevant by players in the CBA talks, which will be ongoing all season as it is set to expire in December.


Player safety in baseball should be just as equal of a concern as it is in the NFL and NHL. Before MLB starts having the same issues as the other two sports they need to act now. They can’t afford to have many more incidents like the Morneau and Bay cases before it becomes prevalent in the national.


The good news is that last night Justin Morneau smacked two doubles against Boston Red Sox last night and that his fielding has been superb all spring training.


The Twins need him to make a deep postseason run this fall. Let’s hope he’ll be healthy enough to be there.

Baseball Preview Day 3: Meet The Mess

Fred Wilpon and the Mets are baseball's biggest joke.

Growing up in New York there are lines crossed with which baseball teams you have to follow.


The Bronx and Staten Island are primarily Yankees fans, Brooklyn and Queens were partial to the Mets and Manhattan is always split in half.


Being that I am from Brooklyn I should have been a Mets fan growing up. My mom was a Mets fan, my Dad was a Mets fan, my uncles, aunts and cousins were all Mets fans. Yet somehow during the Steve Sax, Randy Velerde and Luis Polonia days I was always partial to the Yankees.


I couldn’t tell you why I was more partial to the Pinstripes, but I was. Both teams had great play-by-play guys, Phil Rizzuto for the Yanks, Ralph Kiner for the Mets, both teams were at the bottom of their divisions and going to Yankee and Shea stadium really wasn’t too different to me because both places were dumps.


Yet I liked the Yankees more. My first games was a Yankees game, my first hat was a Yankees hat, and my favorite player at the time was still Andre Dawson so I couldn’t like the Mets anyway because I would always want Dawson’s Cubs to go off on the Mets.


20 years later when I look back on those times and my subconscious decision-making I’m so happy that I became a Yankees fan, because the Mets stink.


Actually let me rephrase that…  the Mets are the biggest mess in baseball ever.


As a fan of this team there isn’t a single reason that you should look forward to this season. You’re team is bleeding money thanks to the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme, your lineup cant produce runs in any way shape form or fashion, your star players can’t stay on the field and your pitching staff is horrendous.


Mets tried to talk themselves into Oliver Perez, fail. They gave Carlos Beltran 119 million 7 years ago in hopes that he would be the piece that put them over the top, fail. They traded for Johan Santana in hopes that he would carry their staff to the top of the division, fail. Jason Bay, Luis Castillo, K-rod, J.J. Putz, fail, fail, fail.

Oliver Perez... insert joke here.


There have a laundry list of deficiencies that have hindered this team on off of the field. Whether its Jose Reyes’s health or K-rod knocking out his girlfriends dad, Johan’s sex scandal or the Willie Randolph firing. The Mets have been baseballs best soap opera for years and the hits just keep on coming.


When you look at the Mets have some talent on paper. Ike Davis was a mid-season call-up last year that showed potential and, Mike Pelfrey could possibly be a top of the rotation guy and the face of the franchise, and David Wright, is one of the best third basemen in the game. Yet on the field they have no cohesiveness, no consistency, no nothing.

Watching the Mets is like a lesson in futility. They were 24th in the league in runs scored, hits and home runs,  22nd in batting average, 25th in OBP. Their pitching was mediocre as well by being 18th in the league in WHIP and BAA, and that was due in part to Pelfrey and Santana.


They made mistakes in crucial situations, they were a sideshow of errors that came with a blooper reel in the field that seemed to happen every other day. There were times where I think I saw Wright mutter to himself “two more years and I’m out of here,” and I wouldn’t blame him.


Would you want to play for this team? This is a team with no identity, a dark future, an owner who needs money, a fan base that’s embarrassed to come to the park and watch them and in their division they are an easy choice for 5th.


The Mets bad decision from the Beltran and Santana deals, to the quick trigger release of Randolph, to the Madoff scandal, have crippled them to the point where they could easily be one of the worst teams in the league.

If you were David Wright, you'd be feeling like this too.

Entering this year they don’t have Santana until the summer time, the are still concerned about Beltran’s health as well as Reyes’, and their only hope in their rotation is Chris Young, who hasn’t been healthy in 3 years, Pelfrey, Jon Niese and the ageless wonder R.A. Dickey.


And you thought the Yankees had pitching problems.


If you want any good news, Beltran’s contract comes off of the books this year and there is optimism with Davis and David Murphy possibly playing everyday, and that’s about it.


The rest is one big snowball that hasn’t reached the bottom of the hill yet and seems to be rolling along at a steady pace.


The Yankees problems with pitching, age and deciding the future of the team would be welcomed in Queens. At least have some idea about what’s going on and on what to do about it. The Mets on the other hand are taking it day-to-day, not knowing what will happen next.


It’s a sad story of a team that 5 years ago was a World Series contender and three years ago was a front-runner in the NL East. Nowadays they would be thankful enough to have a day without something going wrong.


Baseball Preview Day 2: The Present And Future Of Prince Fielder

With free agency looming, all eyes are finally on Prince Fielder.

This is the era of the first baseman. We went through the shortstop revolution in the late 90’s with Omar Vizquel, Nomar Garciaparra, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez and now the bulk of talent in the field has shifted to the right side of the infield.

Joey Votto was the NL MVP last year. Ryan Howard has won one as well and has a NLCS MVP to match. Mark Teixeira is a perennial all-star and considered to be the best defensive first baseman in the game. Then there’s Adrian Gonzalez, Miguel Cabrera and of course the best of them all Albert Pujols (no explanation needed.).

One guy who gets lost in the sauce is Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder.

The son of former 50 home run hitter Cecil is the same hulking mass that his father is, but is a much more refined hitter.

He’s good for close to or over 100 walks a season to go with 30+ home runs and 100+ RBI that he averages a year. He puts up Pujols on-base numbers, Howard power numbers and has improved his defense so much that he’s close to Teixeira’s level.

So why then is Fielder never mentioned on the same breathe as his associates?

It goes something like this; as talented and as big of a threat he is at the plate, Fielder is more comparable to Milton Bradley than he is to Pujols, Howard or Teixeira.

Ryan Braun maybe the Brewers franchise face, but Fielder's presence makes his job easier at the plate.

While it’s not that extreme, Fielder is rougher around the edges than his cooler fellows at first base. You will see Fielder throwing bats and gloves in the dugout after a strikeout, going chest to chest with an ump, you’ve seen him wait to beat the pulp out of Guillermo Mota after being hit. Not to say that he is too volatile, but Fielder has had his share of questionable moments.

As far as baseball goes the reason why he’s not mentioned in the same breath with the other first basemen could be due to location, geographically and divisionally and the fact that unlike the other men Fielder isn’t the face of his team.

Fielder plays in the same division as Votto, who powered the Reds to an NL Central title last year, and Pujols, who… well, is Albert Pujols. Being in the same division as two of the top 5 first basemen in the game gets you less airtime on Baseball Tonight and in the national press. What also doesn’t help his name is Ryan Braun. It’s not Braun’s fault that he’s one of the games brightest stars and since his debut 4 years ago he’s been a stud. Braun is the face of the franchise because he has an appeal and a quality about him that makes him a likeable guy.

It also doesn’t hurt to be a lifetime .300 hitter whose strikeout totals have declined each of the last 3 seasons. It also doesn’t hurt to hit in front of Fielder whose presence in the lineup allows for Braun to get the kind of at-bats that he gets.

That could change after this year.

This is a huge year for the Brewers and Fielder. With the Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright going through Tommy John surgery and the Brewers picking up Zach Greinke from Kansas City, the Brew Crew have great positioning to be the team to knock Cincinnati off of their perch in the division.

However, if they don’t resign Prince Fielder then it could be a one-year deal.

Fielder is at the end of a 2 year, 18 million dollar and is looking at a huge payday this offseason. One that the Brewers wont be able to afford unless Fielder takes a hometown discount.

Losing Fielder would be a huge blow to the team and its lineup. Despite his attitude issues Fielder is a great commercial guy and is fun loving type of player (see the team’s home run celebration when he stomped on home plate two years ago.). He is a great clubhouse guy who brings everyone together in a funny way. If he leaves the Brewers lose a fan favorite and a huge bat in the middle of its lineup.

Sure he had an off year last season but Fielder is a .290/33/110 guy with a .400 OBP waiting to happen. You can’t replace that anywhere.

Fielder is volatile, but he's also lots of fun.

His presence in the lineup makes Braun, Corey Hart and Casey McGehee so much better and gives pitchers fits. Losing Fielder would put more pressure on a rotation that is already iffy even with Greinke and Yovani Gallardo at the top.

However, the Brewers can’t pay him 20 million a year, it’s impossible. Not in that market, with that team. Their only options are to play out the year and see what happens or trade him now and get what they can for him.

If they do trade him, they’ll get a ton of talent back. Fielder is arguably a top 5 first basemen in an era where there are a ton of them to choose from.

Though he’s not a huge name like Albert Pujols, or the rising star the Joey Votto is, Fielder is one of the best in the game at his position.

Trust when I say that Fielder won’t have the same year that he had last year. This year will be huge, and someone whether it is the Brewers or another team will pay for it.

Arizona Schools Duke

When I say that Arizona beat up Duke I’m doing them an injustice.

Derrick Williams and Momo Jones dominated Duke during a crippling 28-10 second half run.

Arizona outclassed, outplayed, out-everythinged Duke to the point that every person in the bar I watched the game at ooooh’d and aaaah’d for an 8 minute run.

Actually for Duke the 28-10 run that lasted for 8 minutes seemed like an eternity.

Arizona came out of halftime down by 6 points after an up and down first half. Derrick Williams, who lit up Duke for 25 points in the first half, kept them in the game by showing off his ridiculous game dominating Duke both inside and out. Once they came out they took it to Duke in a barrage of highlight reel plays, fantastic defense and posterizations that had me hoping the Singler family had their TiVo recorders turned off.

Momo Jones knifed through 3 defenders for a spectacular layup. Williams threw down a monster jam that would’ve made Blake Griffin blush. Jamelle Horne banged on Singler to the point where I couldn’t drink my beer.

It was a slaughter. Arizona couldn’t miss, they shut down Duke in every single way, they outrebounded Duke 25-9 in the second half… Keep in mind duke has 3 players at 6-10 while Zona has none.

In short Coach K should’ve texted Shane Battier to help him because Duke couldn’t get it done offensively or defensively.

I knew Sean Miller was a good coach, but damn. His adjustment at halftime was to run Duke ragged and they did. Even with Kyrie Irving and Nolan Smith running the show Duke couldn’t keep up with Momo and D-Will. Zona’s above the rim game donated the Dukies to the point that you felt bad for them. Arizona’s athleticism destroyed Duke. They had no answer for their drives, drive an kicks, or inside bludgeoning that took place at Honda Arena in Anaheim.

Lute Olsen should’ve and probably did crack a smile at an Arizona team that resembled one of his many squads that dominated the PAC-10 during his tenure.

This win spoke volumes about the talent that Miller has continued to amass at Arizona like he did at Xavier, and the athletic weakness of the ACC.

For all of the critics that touted ACC as basketballs best conference after the Big East’s lackluster week last week, this game showed why only 4 ACC teams were worthy of the field. They lack the necessary athleticism to keep up with the field and don’t have the same punch as a Big East team or Kansas or even Butler. Duke was done in by it’s lack of aggression around the rim and by the fact that it couldn’t keep up with Arizona’s faster more athletic guards. Even though Duke had been number one for most of the year, games against St. Johns and UNC exposed them as an unworthy squad for winning a national title.

For Arizona it puts then right back in a position that they were used to under Olsen. They are close to a final 4, a serious national title contender an one of the top 4 teams left in the field. If Arizona plays like it did in the second half tonight against Duke then no one could possibly stop them.

So while one of the favorites goes home, Arizona moves on. UCONN beware, Arizona has all of the tools it needs to go for the national title. Don’t believe me? Replay the last 20 minutes of this game and ask Coach K how good this team is.

The Jimmer Spectrum

Love him or hate him this tournament has been all about Jimmer.

My buddy asked me over Facebook what I thought of Jimmer Fredette the other day; I didn’t answer him because there is a Jimmer max out that I’m at right now with Jimmer Fredette.

I like his game, his fearlessness, his toughness and his never say die attitude. Yet I’m sick of hearing about his fearlessness, his toughness and his never say die attitude. This happens whenever gets a hold of its IT guy for the moment, they run him into the ground so at the end you either love or hate the guy.

I’m trying to watch Kemba Walker, Kawhi Leonard, Shelvin Mack and all of VCU ball and all I hear is Jimmer Jimmer Jimmer.

So instead of answering I ignored him for a few days and decided to answer it in the only way I know how (thank you English classes at Ohio State) through contrast of course, love and hate.

Love: He’s a New York guy.

Hate: He plays in a weak conference with little competition.

Love: His shot. Whenever he lets one rip you get a good feeling that it’s going in. it doesn’t matter where he is on the floor he can bury that J in anyone’s grill at any spot.

Jimmer's game has a playground feel to it.

Hate: His shots. I texted my buddy Will this tidbit on Saturday during the BYU-Gonzaga game, “doesn’t Jimmer remind you of that guy you play ball with on the playground who chucks up shots without caring who he plays with?” In Brooklyn we would’ve shut him out long ago.

(and I understand that he has no real offensive options on his team, but if he is going to be a point guard in the Association then he’s got to ATTEMPT to make his teammates better. Walker made UCONN better, Kyrie Irving and Nolan Smith make the Plumlees not look like stiffs, Kendall Marshall resurrected UNC, BYU is still a one-man show.)

Love: He more than makes up for his team’s offensive deficiencies. I know I wrote that he should make his teammates better, but watching him find spots on the floor and night in and out hit every shot that he’s supposed too is amazing.

Hate: Jimmer Fredette plays no defense… period.

(that sound you heard was Erving Walker smacking his lips.)

Love: His demeanor. He’s not Tim Tebow. He doesn’t jump around and scream when he doesn’t have to. He is a leader that leads by example and only gets amped when necessary.

Hate: The Tebow-like coverage. There are ten guys in the game that should be getting just as much coverage as Jimmer. He’s a good player from a crappy conference. He’s not Jared Sullinger, Derrick Williams or the Morris who ball out in better conferences to less acclaim.

Love: Dude’s look. He has an NBA ready body. His arms are huge and he looks like he could break me in half.

Hate: I think he needs facial hair… just saying.

Love: … the fact that he has a pretty good skill set besides shooting. He’s not J.J. Redick, Kyle Korver or Adam Morrison, he can get to the rack, he can pass, he has some rebounding skills.

Hate: It’s pretty good, not great. I don’t think he sees the whole floor and I don’t think that he could run a set offense. In transition he could 6-7 assists a game in the NBA. But in the Triangle, ball distribution like how Rajon Rondo exemplifies in Boston, making marginal talent good a la Deron Williams? That’s not him.

Jimmer's future may or may not be a home run.

Love: Him as a college darling. So often we make classifications of a guy based on what his NBA stock when we should look at the present. What Jimmer is doing is leading a so-so BYU team on a run in a weak bracket that could end up taking them to the Final 4 in Houston and put his name down among the greats to ever play the game. In the process Jimmer has improved each and every year that he has been in school. He’s a proficient scorer who can get his any night and at anytime. I love Jimmer Fredette the college player because he gives the game something it misses when every other year guys like John Wall, Derrick Rose and others who dip out early and that’s a dominant figure that captures our imagines over a period of time…

Hate: …but with that said it is hard not to look at the future and what Jimmer will become and he won’t do this in the NBA. Jimmer is a two-guard in a point guard’s body. In order for his game to work and for him to develop into a decent point guard he has to play on an up-tempo team (hi Knicks.). he isn’t a great half-court player and can’t defend either guard spot. His best case scenario is a backup point guard spot, which in actuality would be great for most teams who need energy off of the bench. However, him as a starter? No way. Unless he talks to Stephen Curry and makes the same kind of transition that he made to the point guard spot then he won’t see the floor unless it’s off of the bench or in certain spots.

I don’t hate Jimmer Fredette, but I am critical of his game. Hopefully that answers my buddy’s question.

Baseball Preview Day 1: San Fran’s Rebirth

Yep... those are your World Series Champs.

Four years ago the San Francisco Giants were Barry Bonds team.

At age 43 he was the aging, controversial face of the franchise that was on the verge of breaking sports greatest record all with the cloud of steroids hanging over his head.

He was mercurial, powerful, flawed, eye-popping and everything in between. He was also San Fran’s biggest hindrance as much as he was its main attraction. Even though he smacked balls over outfield fences with Herculean ease and it drew millions of fans and thousands of media personnel, his involvement in the steroid era is what drove the Giants over the edge.

Bonds and his life became bigger than the Giants. No one cared about the individuals that surrounded him, that coached him, or that hit behind him… it was all about him. The homeruns, the walks, the flaxseed oil, the cream, the clear, it was all about Barry Bonds all of the time. It didn’t matter that J.T. Snow was still playing three years after he should’ve retired, or that their rotation wasn’t good enough to contend in the Pac-10 it was the Bonds show 24/7-365.

When Bonds finally did break Hank Aaron’s homerun record in 2007 you could see a shift in the organization almost immediately. In plain view the organization praised Bonds, celebrated him, honored him, behind the scenes however, they were planning on how to move forward.

You see as much as Bonds dragged the Giants through the mud with his pursuit of Aaron and evasion of the feds, the Giants went along with it because of the financial gains that came with such a chase. After the chase was finished the Giants were eager to start anew and it showed.

At the end of the season Bonds was not resigned. All of the murals, signs and everything that had to do with Bonds were quickly removed. The mission was simple, the Giants wanted to get as far away from Bonds as possible and recreate their identity.

The Bonds era was a gift and a curse for the Giants.

They had young guys that they were dying to trot out on to the field, able bodied young men who could bring the heat on the mound and the wood at the plate. Guys like Tim Lincecum, Jonathan Sanchez, Matt Cain and eventually Buster Posey and Travis Ishikawa. These were there building blocks for the future, the guys that would make the Giants relevant again as a team.

Let’s just say the Brian Sabean was right in his methods.

4 years later there isn’t a quirkier, weirder, more fun group of players on one team the there are with the San Francisco Giants.

One look at the roster and you would think that this couldn’t possibly be a serious Major League contender for a title. Lincecum looks like he belongs in an emo band, Cain looks like a Judd Apatow comedy character, third baseman Pablo Sandoval’s nickname is Kung Fu Panda and his weight last year could’ve verified that and Brian Wilson is… well… Brian Wilson.

The team is more like the Goonies than a professional ball club. The personalities make for fun fodder in the media and on television; however the product on the field more than outshines the 30 million quotables we might hear from these guys this year.

For all of the talk about the Phillies Fab 4 of Halladay, Oswalt, Hamels and Lee, the Giants have a case for the best rotation in the league. Lincecum is a two-time Cy Young winner and at age 26 who might be the best power pitcher in the league at 5-11 165. Cain might be more talented than Lincecum and began coming into his own last fall with 21 1/3 innings of stellar pitching where he only allowed one earned run. Sanchez has a no-hitter under his belt and even though he has spells of inconsistency he can be a sub 3 ERA, sub 1.2 WHIP guy. Finally how about Madison Bumgarner? The brightest star of the World Series last year will get his first full season of pitching under his belt after watching his 8 inning shutout of a gem in Game 4 at Arlington last October. When you think about it Barry Zito was brought in to be their ace 4 years ago at 19 million a season over 7 seasons, now he’s the fifth starter and had no impact on their title run last year at all. If he can finally break .500 and go 5-6 innings consistently then how can this rotation not be considered the best in the bigs?

The lineup is more of a crap shoot, but they have guys that can get the job done when asked. Veteran Aubrey Huff was a perfect fit at first base and had one of his best years statistically last year and with Sandoval in better shape those numbers could go up. The star of the group is Posey though. Posey was a mate may call-up that fit in right away and was a stud at and behind the plate. He led the team with a .305 average and 18 homeruns in the last four months of the season. He became the bat the Giants craved for years and he also matched the hype that came attached to his name coming out of Florida State.

Meet Buster Posey a.k.a. baseballs next great catcher, and the face of the Giants.

His work behind the plate was amazing as well. Even though Lincecum struggled at times last year the Giants led the National League in ERA (3.36), strikeouts (1331) and batting average allowed (.236).

He’s arguably the face of the franchise and is well on his way to be the best catcher in the league.

The best of all of these guys has to be Brian Wilson. His antics are great for TV with his “tanned” beard, his “gimp” looking buddy the machine walking around and his penchant for the ridiculous. His pitching is decent too.

Wilson has established himself as the game’s best closer leading the league in saves last year with 48 and a fastball reaching 100 on the gun. He is this generation’s Mariano Rivera, because once he’s in the game its lights out for the competition.

Watching this group come together last year was a fun experience and a reminder of how quickly an organization can change.

4 years ago they were club Bonds with limited membership. This year it’s a gang of misfits who enter 2011 as World Series champions and have a great shot at repeating. It’s a great turn around a great team to follow.

With the way that they are built they should be good to follow for a long time.

It’s Time To Throw The Book At Cooke

I’m officially sick Matt Cooke. His recent run-in with the NHL big wigs will hopefully get him a suspension that will last into the playoffs.

I've officially had enough of Matt Cooke.

Against the New York Rangers today, Cooke threw an elbow directly underneath the chin of Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonaugh. He didn’t play the puck, didn’t let up, he just tried to put his elbow into McDonaughs skull.

He gained a five minute major and it began a spiral downward for the Pens who lost two points in the race for fourth place and home ice advantage in the playoffs.

Cooke has been a part of many of the leagues recent rash of dirty plays on the last few years, which began with his hit on Marc Savard last year that gave Savard a major concussion.

Cooke’s reckless play is a direct contradiction of Mario Lemieux’s call for the league to stop the dirty play that has gained major headlines lately.

Lemieux said after the Islanders-Penguins brawl in February that the league has to be more strict with penalties for dirty play after he was unsatisfied with the penalties given to the Islanders.

Lemieux must’ve forgot that he employed Cooke who has already been suspended this year for a dirty against Columbus and has been criticized by players and coaches all around the league.

If Lemieux is serious about his claims then he should jettison Cooke at the end of the year. Cooke is the type of player that he needs on his team nor does anyone in the NHL.

If I’m Colin Campbell I would throw the book at Cooke. Make his suspension last all playoffs for being a multiple offender. With Cooke on the ice you can guarantee an un-called for piece of physical play and a possible injury. He doesn’t belong on the ice with the true skill players and needs to be taught a lesson.

If the attempt to injure today didn’t  prove that, I don’t know what will.