"The Stack" 5-16-16

After Rougned Odor punched Jose Bautista in the 8th inning, the Rangers and Blue Jays benches cleared. It was quite the scene. Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
After Rougned Odor punched Jose Bautista in the 8th inning, the Rangers and Blue Jays benches cleared. It was quite the scene.
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Karl-Anthony Towns will be the NBA Rookie of the Year to no one's surprise. The Minnesota Timberwolves are looking pretty good heading into next season it appears.
Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Day went wire-to-wire to win the TPC Sawgrass over the weekend.
Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

The Stack missed the blog on Friday, but with the wife’s graduation (congratulations!) and traveling, we just couldn’t get to it so apologies for that.  The Stack is back though on this Monday as the conference finals begin in both the NBA and the NHL.  Congrats to Jason Day for going wire-to-wire to win the TPC Sawgrass.  There may have been some complaining from the players about the condition of the course headed into the weekend, but Day was the best of the field.  Helps when great players like Jordan Spieth and Phil Mickelson miss the cut, but that shouldn’t take away from how great Day played in this tournament starting Thursday.  Now let’s get to the other headlines in “the stack” for today, Monday, May 16th:


Raptors take series Heat, showdown with Cavs up next


“We The North” is standing tall and proud today as the Toronto Raptors are headed to the eastern conference finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers following their 116-89 blowout win over the Miami Heat in game seven on Sunday in Toronto.  Kyle Lowry led the way with 35 points for the Raptors.  He shot the ball better Sunday, but needs to improve and cannot afford a bad shooting day effort in any game against the Cleveland Cavaliers if the Raptors want to have any hope of winning the series.  The Cavaliers haven’t been tested a whole lot and swept both the Detroit Pistons and Atlanta Hawks, but the Raptors did win the season series against the Cavaliers.  We’ll see if Jonas Vallucianis plays for the Raptors in the series.  They need him to if they want a chance to win.  DeMar DeRozan also needs to play well if the Raptors have a chance to win.  I don’t think it is going to happen.  Their season starts on Tuesday.  The western conference finals start tonight.


Oklahoma City Thunder @ Golden State Warriors 9 PM ET TNT


Blues take game one over Sharks


The San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues are going to be in for a hard fought, low scoring series and as evidence of that, I give you last night’s opening game of the western conference finals.  The Blues won 2-1 and the main reason they won was because of goalie Brian Elliott.  He made 31 stops and made big save after big save when the Sharks went on the attack in the second and third period.  There was plenty of traffic in front of Elliott and lots of scrums in front of the net.  Elliott stood strong and got plenty of help from the Blues special teams unit.  The penalty kill unit killed all three Sharks power plays and scored a power play goal themselves.  This was an entertaining game and the Sharks need to pass better if they want to win this series.  Too many turnovers including one that led to the go-ahead goal by Jori Lehtera.  Great game.  This should be a good series and will likely go six or seven.  I like the Blues overall.  And despite the fact that they lost game one on home ice, I do like the Pittsburgh Penguins to win their series with the Tampa Bay Lightning.  Game two is tonight.


Tampa Bay Lightning @ Pittsburgh Penguins 8 PM ET NBCSN (Lightning lead series 1-0)


Bautista gets punched, brawl ensues


Perhaps this was payback for the bat flip after the monster homerun in the playoffs last year.  Maybe it was more just the slide into second base that made things boil over.  One thing is certain though, there is no love lost and plenty of bad blood between the Texas Rangers and Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays.  After Bautista slid in hard to second base in Sunday’s game in the eighth inning, Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor didn’t take kindly to the slide and pushed Bautista before he landed a nice punch to Bautista’s jaw.  Bautista gathered himself nicely though and didn’t fall, but was restrained by some Rangers before he could get his hands on Odor.  The benches would clear and there were multiple ejections.  The question now becomes what the punishment should be for Odor.  I don’t believe Bautista deserves any suspension, but if Bautista’s jaw were to be broken, then I say that Odor’s suspension should be the amount of time that Bautista is up plus 20 games.  This sort of behavior is unacceptable.  This isn’t Ron Artest bad when he went into the stands and punched a fan, but there shouldn’t be any punches thrown in in a baseball game.  Minimum one month suspension for Odor.  We’ll see what MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred decides.  They should throw the book at Odor though.




For the second consecutive season, the Minnesota Timberwolves have a Rookie of the Year winner.  Last year it was Andrew Wiggins.  This year it is Karl-Anthony Towns.  This should come as no surprise.  Towns routinely got double-doubles this year and you can see that he will be one of the best big men in the NBA for years to come.  There was some clamoring for Kristop Porzingis earlier in the season, but that talk died down pretty quickly when Porzingis’s play decreased and Towns’ play continued to rise.  Congrats to KAT and to the Timberwolves.  Now that they have head coach Tom Thibodeau, their young team is only going to ascend more and end the franchise’s 12 year playoff drought.


Coming up Tuesday: NBA & NHL Playoff reaction plus other top stories in sports