Sports Outside the Beltway

The Comeback I- Pittsburgh Penguins beat NY Islanders 5-0

Sid the kid played hockey last night like he hadn’t suffered a concussion that sidelined him for nearly a year. From AP-

Sidney Crosby is back.

The superstar center capped his return from concussion-like symptoms with two goals and two assists in his season debut as the Pittsburgh Penguins roared by the New York Islanders 5-0 on Monday night.

Unleashing more than 10 months of frustration in 16 energetic minutes, Crosby put to rest all the questions that had popped up during his lengthy comeback.

Can he still skate? Can he take a hit? Can he play at his nearly peerless level? Can he mix it up?

The answer — for the first night anyway — is an emphatic yes.

“I don’t really have good words for it,” coach Dan Bylsma said. “That was special in a lot of ways.”

For no one more than Crosby, who celebrated his first goal in 328 days in decidedly un-Crosbylike fashion.

After a breathless sprint down the ice in which he weaved through the New York defense and beat rookie Anders Nilsson with a backhand, Crosby raised his arms in triumph and let out a roar punctuated by a hard-to-miss profanity.

He laughed while watching himself on replay and later apologized for his poor choice of words while admitting “I couldn’t hold that in.”

Crosby added assists on goals by Evgeni Malkin and Brooks Orpik and capped his comeback with a second tally, a backhand that fluttered by Nilsson early in the third period to provide the final margin.

Steve Sullivan also scored for the Penguins while Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 29 shots to collect his 21st career shutout, one behind franchise leader Tom Barrasso.

The Islanders aren’t a good team and their goaltending is horrible but still Crosby’s performance last night beat any expectations I had for him in his first game. Pittsburgh had 25 points and was leading the Eastern Conference without Crosby. With him back in strength, the Penguins just became a whole lot scarier.


Seattle Mariners Outfielder Greg Halman stabbed to death at age 24

Reports are still early, but Halman’s brother has been arrested in connection with the murder. A very sad and tragic story. RIP Greg Halman.

Seattle Mariners outfielder Greg Halman was stabbed to death in Rotterdam on Monday and his brother has been arrested in connection with the incident, police said.

Halman, 24, was signed as a free agent by Seattle in 2004 and made his major league debut in 2010.

Police were called to a home in the Dutch port city early Monday and found Halman bleeding from a stab wound. The officers were unable to resuscitate the outfielder.


Hee Young Park wins CME Titleholders Championship

The 2011 LPGA Tour season is over. From USA Today-

Holding off some of the biggest names in women’s golf, unheralded Hee Young Park won the CME Group Titleholders on Sunday for her first career LPGA title.

Hee Young Park of South Korea shows off her prize after winning the CME Group Titleholders on Sunday in Orlando.

Park, with a closing 70, finished at 9-under-par 279 to beat Paula Creamer and Sandra Gal by two shots at sun-splashed Grand Cypress Resort to win the LPGA tour’s season-ending event. Another shot back were Na Yeon Choi and world No. 2 Suzann Pettersen. Michelle Wie, world No. 3 Cristie Kerr and world No. 1 Yani Tseng, trying to win for the 12th time this season, made brief runs at the championship before finishing in a tie for sixth, seven shots behind.

“I still cannot believe this,” Park said. “On the back nine I was getting like nervous and then getting tight in my body. So my caddie said, ‘Just keep going, keep trying to (play) like (it’s the) first round. You’re on the tee first time each hole, and just keep doing the same thing.’ And then I said ‘OK.’ ”

After a pep talk from Kerr on the driving range — “She told me to cheer up and that I could do it, that I could win,” Park said — she pocketed $500,000, by far the largest check of her career. She said a key moment in her round came after a bogey on the fourth hole. Telling herself that she was thinking too much about every shot up to that point, Park from then on just trusted her instincts and her club selection.

Park had won a professional tournament before, the last of her three victories on the LPGA of Korea Tour coming in 2006.

“My first win in the U.S., it feels totally different,” Park said. “Still same kind of goose bumps, but this win, I think could change my life, my future.”

Park, the overnight leader with Gal, had recorded only two top-10s in 20 events heading into the Titleholders. But she took the outright lead in the final round for the first time with a birdie on the par-3 eighth hole, her third birdie in four holes. With the two paired in the final group, Gal pulled within one shot with back-to-back birdies on the 13th and 14th holes, but a bogey at the 15th dropped her two back. Park, with a steady hand and a clutch putter, closed out her victory with 10 consecutive pars.

“She had great composure all day long,” Gal said of Park. “She’s always smiling. I’ve played with her many times, and she’s such a great competitor to play with because she’s always happy and just plays her own game.

“She didn’t make any bogeys. Her short game was great, and she made some good birdies early on, and I think that kind of gave her the momentum for the entire round.”

Added Creamer about Park: “That’s awesome playing on this course, and playing against all the big names out there. She’s a great player, and she deserved it.”

Creamer, who missed three putts inside 4 feet early in her round, made a charge with three birdies in four holes on the back nine. But just as her whole season has gone — nine top-10s, no victories — she came up just short.

Park was a deserving winner today. It will have to be seen if she can follow up with more LPGA wins. The list of South Korean golfers with one or two wins is kind of long.(Birdie Kim, Jeong Jang, Gloria Park, Eun Hi Ji, Inbee Park, Jee Young Lee, Shi Hyun Ahn, and more.)

Park is only one of three South Koreans to win on tour in 2011. The others were Na Yeon Choi, and U.S. Open Champion So Yeon Ryu. Hee Kyung Seo aka ‘The Supermodel of the Fairways’ did take home the Rookie of the Year award. So much for the Koreans taking over the LPGA Tour, eh?

The LPGA hasn’t announced its 2012 schedule yet. I’m assuming it will be starting in Australia next February, but yours truly hopes for a miracle. A start up in South Florida, which was normal for the LPGA up till about 10 years ago, would be very nice not to mention convenient for me.


Oklahoma State Women’s Basketball Coach Kurt Budke dead at 50

He and an assistant basketball coach died when the plane they were flying on crashed in Arkansas. Very tragic and RIP.

Oklahoma State University women’s basketball coach Kurt Budke and assistant coach Miranda Serna were killed when the single-engine plane they were riding in during a recruiting trip crashed near a wildlife management area in central Arkansas.

The university said the pair died in the crash Thursday night near Perryville, about 45 miles west of Little Rock. The Winona Wildlife Management Area is in steep terrain in the eastern Ouachita Mountains. A cause of the crash was not announced.


Costly mistake- Blackhawks waive Rostislav Olesz

Chicago is probably praying right this second that somebody takes the ex-Florida Panther off their hands. IMHO it is very unlikely to happen. Olesz gets 3.4 million this year and that amount will rise over the next two seasons till it reaches 4.25 million. This for a defensive specialist/4th liner who will score at most 30 points in a season. At the 18 game point of this year, Olesz has no points for the 6 games he suited up as a Blackhawk. If noone claims Olesz, he will play for Chicago’s AHL affiliate, Rockford Icehogs. Unless something miraculous takes place, I bet Chicago buys out Olesz’s contract at the end of this season. Rusty will most likely go play in the KHL or somewhere else in Europe.

I’m well acquainted with Olesz from his Florida days. He isn’t a bad player, but Florida took him far too early in the 2004 NHL Draft(7th overall) and then gave him an outrageous contract. Florida dealt him to Chicago for Defenseman Brian Campbell. Another player with a huge contract. The difference is- Campbell has 17 points this season, tied for the most among defenseman in the NHL. Campbell is also helping to lead a surprising Florida team this year which at this moment is tied for the Southeast Division lead. Washington has tiebreaks. The trade made still go sour for Florida, but right now Florida

The Campbell-Olesz trade, which I thought was a good trade for Florida from the start, could still go sour for both teams but at this moment the Panthers look to have made some of the smartest personnel moves of the last NHL offseason. Trading for Olesz, plus signing free agents Kris Versteeg and Tomas Fleischmann.


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