The Evster: The best (and worst) feelings in sports

The Evster: The best (and worst) feelings in sports

Sadly, most of us will never dunk on a dude's neck. Or turn on an inside fastball and send it over the Green Monster. But for some stupid reason, we still love to compete. From skating on ice that's just been Zamboni'ed to having Wes Welker fall to the 6th round of your draft, these are some of sports' simplest of pleasures.


Receiving a "Thank You" Point in Basketball - You're at the Y on a cold Tuesday night, and nothing is goin' your way. Your shot's not falling, your team's lost two straight, and the old dude with the rec-specs keeps lookin' you off. But then something happens that turns everything around, and pretty much validates your entire existence.

An easy layup. Not for you, but for your teammate, set up by you and your Bobby Hurley-like vision. On the way back downcourt, your teammate gives you a nod, and then the subtle point. "Good look," he says, thanking you for the bucket. "Your goddamn right it was," you think, but for now you stay silent. Because no one drops fresh dimes like you do.

Blasting An Opponent's Shuffleboard Disc Off the Court - Why you agreed to play shuffleboard, who can remember? But now it's 95 degrees and you're stuck hanging out with the entire cast of Cocoon. To make things worse, your Uncle Don's in the zone, and if you don't blast him out of that stupid 10-point triangle, victory is his.

You have two options: miss on purpose (so you can get on with your day) or blast that jerk (and live to fight another round). You know what to do. You are a warrior.

Ohhhhhhh baby, this one's on point, zipping along the pavement like a heat-seeking missile. (Or maybe more just like a disc-seeking disc. Yeah, let's not get carried away here, it's just shuffleboard for cryin' out loud. And let's face it, heat-seeking missiles are kinda all over the place anyway.) But then ...WAMMO! Take the walk, Uncle Don, the fat lady ain't singin' just yet.

Opening a Fresh Can of Tennis Balls - The only thing better than smelling fuzzy Penn 2′s is popping open a can of BBQ Pringles.

That Sweet, Perfect 8-iron - Ahhhh, that sound, that feeling, THAT LOFT, you are a natural. Seriously, if you quit your job and moved down to Florida, you could be on the PGA Tour in 6 to 8 months. Maybe 10. You are the next Rick Rhoden.

Unbuckling Your Ski Boots After a Long Day on the Slopes - What the freak were you thinking? This is fun? Paying $96 dollars for severe lower back pain? Pretty much every 11-year-old kid is better than you at this sport. Even the kid with snot all over his goggles. How it got there? You'll never know, but the fact remains that that kid has layers of snot caked all over his face.

But now it's almost over. The lodge is in sight. So very close to a cup of hot chocolate and ultimate relief. Skis off, poles down, heel, toe, heel, toe, heel, toe, snowpants swishing, looking for any bench, ANY GODDAMN BENCH, that can support your cherry red butt. And then you sit down, and unbuckle your boots, OH MY GOD WHY ARE THEY SO TIGHT, HOW DID I EVEN CLAMP THEM ON IN THE FIRST PLACE, and then, release, all is right in the world. Bow down to the king of the mountain.

Picking up a Spare in the 10th Frame - Your wrist is throbbing and your feet are on fire, your high score for the night is a 78. But then comes the tenth, and the extra ball that comes with it, and suddenly the pins need to be punished.

Crushing a Wiffle Ball Over a Fence, Ending the Game Immediately -- You are, without a doubt, the Dave Kingman of your generation. Only handsomer. And with a compact swing that would make Chase Utley jels. "Do I lift weights? Nah, not really. Not really. It's all in the hips. Learned how to take cuts from an old ballcoach. You mighta heard of him, Tom Emanski? Whatever, no big deal, only led his teams to back-to-back-to-back AAU titles. Whatever, only the greatest baseball coach/VHS salesman who has ever lived. You should prolly look him up. If you wanna hit like me."

No one who grabbed that plastic yellow stick before you hit one out of the yard. Not even your cousin's 19-year-old boyfriend, and he played Legion. But you? You jacked that knuckler onto the neighbor's roof, and now it's time to get yourself a cheeseburg.

(For the record, the feeling of smashing anything is amazing. Ping Pong balls, whack-a-mole, watermelons, all fantastic. Any one of them could've been included in this piece.)


Unfortunately, there is no glory without pain. Sometimes we fail. And sometimes we barf. And sometimes we are forced to sleep on the couch after lathering up in Ben Gay. Behold, the 5 worst feelings in sports:

Basketball: Jamming your Finger  - Doesn't matter how it happens, going up for a rebound or deflecting a loose ball, it is the worst thing that can happen in your whole entire life. The absolute worst. Fingers aren't supposed to turn green and purple. And yellow. And orange. And the sound oh good God the sound!

Softball: Misjudging a Fly Ball and Having it Go Over Your Head - Then turning around and having to sprint after it, so far, so far, like "how is it still rolling?" only to finally get there, pivot like Willie Mays and fire it nowhere near the cutoff man, who now stands in shallow center with his hands in the air, totally embarrassed to know you.

Golf: Not Being Able to Find Your Ball - OMG, you didn't even hit it THAT FAR off the fairway, and yet you can't find it? How is that possible? You had your eye on it the whole time. Did someone pick it up? How long are you going to look for it? Seriously you have like, 50 other balls in your bag. Let's just give up. Why are we still looking? I'm so thirsty.

Basketball: Missing a Free Throw When Shooting Up Teams and Having to Sit Out a Game Because of It - Not only did you miss, but the dude who made it after you shoots with two hands. Ugh, just leave the courts and/or stop playing sports forever.

Football/Hockey/Lacrosse/Boxing/Basketball: Getting Blasted - There is nothing worse than getting blasted. Any type of blast, really. I know I just said that jamming your finger is the worst, but I was wrong. Getting blasted is the worst. It's interesting because blasting is so fun, and yet getting blasted is so horrible. Can you imagine blasting someone whilst getting blasted? Rocky II was the best movie EVERRRRRRR.

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Dave Hakstol did Steve Mason a favor by challenging Sabres' 3rd goal

Dave Hakstol did Steve Mason a favor by challenging Sabres' 3rd goal

Many, though not all hockey games, have a tipping point or pivotal moment that factors into the outcome.
Sometimes it’s obvious what it was and when the moment occurred. Other times, it’s overshadowed by something else on the ice.
Ask the Flyers which moment would define their come-from-behind 4-3 shootout victory over Buffalo on Tuesday and the response will be virtually unanimous: when Dmitry Kulikov leveled Jakub Voracek with a high hit that made contact to the head in the third period.
Voracek was forced off the ice under the NHL’s concussion protocol.
That hit incensed the Flyers, who went on to score two power-play goals and tie game, 3-3. The comeback was on.
Yet there was a less obvious, but significant point that happened late in the second period and it concerned goalie Steve Mason.
Matt Moulson had given Buffalo a 3-0 lead on Michal Neuvirth at 15:43, when Flyers coach Dave Hakstol elected to make a goalie switch.
Rather than call a simple timeout to buy Mason some warm-up time and allow his team to collect itself on the bench, Hakstol challenged the goal, claiming “goalie interference.”
Replays won’t show any direct interference on the shot itself. Mason was speared several seconds before the play developed.
Hakstol knew the goal would likely not be overturned, but his strategy was to buy time for Mason and his team. By using a challenge, he knew the review process would take a lot longer than the 60-second timeout.
Either way, he was going to use his only timeout.
“You know what, I think we needed a timeout at that time, anyway,” Hakstol said coyly. “Pretty low probability of it being successful. Everything worked out well in the end.”
Mason appreciated what his coach did, too. Buying extra time for you?
“Yeah, probably,” Mason replied. “Regardless of the situation, you’re sitting on the bench, you know? You’re not really gauged as much as when you’re playing, obviously. So, you just try and ramp things up as quickly as possible.”
Mason had two saves in that shortened period, five in the third period and one in the overtime to register his second victory.
“There’s a never-quit attitude in this room,” he said. “We showed in Chicago — we were just talking about that. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to close that one out.
“But guys have a belief that you get one [moment] and it comes. [Travis Konecny] got us going with his first NHL goal, which is great. The guys really pushed to capitalize on their chances.” ​

Who's after LeBron? CSN's top 25 NBA players poll

Who's after LeBron? CSN's top 25 NBA players poll

No matter how much you rely on analytics and logarithms in determining who are the best players, ultimately it becomes about judgment.
Should win shares have a greater value than a player’s winning percentage in the playoffs? Is defensive rating a better barometer about a defender’s ability than say, defensive field goal percentage differential?
And how much do you weigh how they fare versus playoff teams and non-playoff teams?
A legitimate case can be made for all those numbers and many, many more, being used to rank the top 25 players.
When I started looking at the data and breaking down what’s worthwhile and what’s shall we say, is worthless, it became pretty clear that this should not be a one-person job.
So I enlisted the help of my fellow CSN Insiders who each bring a different but valuable perspective to the ranking of players.
And so the only thing that made sense was to take all of our rankings, compile them together and voila! We made a beautiful, bouncing list of more than two dozen players.
The scoring for this is pretty simple.
Each Insider picked 25 players, ranking them from Nos. 1-25. Their No. 1 pick received 25 points, No. 2 got 24, No. 3 got 23 and so on.
Here is the first CSN Top 25 NBA Players list, in addition to our "others receiving votes" group.
25. Al Horford, Boston (19 points)
“You can find others with better stats not on this list, but Horford’s track record of success in Atlanta (playoff trips every year he was there, five trips out of the first round in eight postseasons he played in) makes him worthy of being a top-25 player in the NBA.” – A. Sherrod Blakely
24. DeAndre Jordan, Los Angeles Clippers (22)
“He can’t shoot free throws, but he can rebound and play defense with the best of them. Jordan didn’t deserve his All-NBA first team selection, but he’s still a high quality long as Chris Paul is tossing up lobs.” – James Ham
23. Andre Drummond, Detroit (23)
“An emerging center who’s the league’s second-best finisher and rebounder, and without that free-throw problem, he would be higher. But … how close to his ceiling is he already?” – Vincent Goodwill
22. Marc Gasol, Memphis (24)
“One of the best passing big men in the game and also one of its best defenders. Has a soft shooting touch and off-the-charts basketball IQ.” – Jason Quick
t-20. Kyle Lowry, Toronto (32)
“Lowry came into the 2015-16 in the best shape of his career. The result was a career year and a two seed in the Eastern Conference. At 30, Lowry may have peaked, but if he can hold this level for another year or two, the Raptors will continue to post 50-plus wins.” – James Ham
t-20. Carmelo Anthony, New York (32)
“One of the more complete scorers but hard to evaluate as he hits the back end of his career; Probably the last season as a primary player on a good team, if the Knicks are to be one.” – Vincent Goodwill
19. John Wall, Washington (42)
“After being All-Defense two years ago, Wall fell off because of bad knees that required surgery on May 5 and yet he still averaged 20 points and 10 assists last season. At 6-4, a big, physical point guard with top-notch speed. Improved mid-range shooter off the bounce but still not a threat in catch-and-shoot situations or from the three-point arc.” – J. Michael
18. Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers (56)
“Coming off an injury-plagued season that limited him to 35 games, Griffin still has a ways to go in diversifying his game. Fixing his footwork would help as would moving the ball quicker to create for teammates, but now he's trying to extend his range to the three-point arc. That can be a very good thing or a very bad thing.” – J. Michael
17. Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota (63)
“The potential is frightening. Towns burst into the league last season and performed well-beyond his rookie year. He enters his second season with a dominating skill set and a year of wisdom from Kevin Garnett.” – Jessica Camerato 
16. LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio (65)
“Owns deadly combination of inside moves and silky mid-range shot, which includes an unblock able turnaround jumper.  Also an above-average defender who can block a shot then beat his man down the court.” – Jason Quick
15. Jimmy Butler, Chicago (75)
“One of the best two-way players in basketball, perhaps the most unlikely player this high on this list. Is there another leap in performance for a guy who’s made three already in his career?” – Vincent Goodwill
14. Kyrie Irving, Cleveland (82)
“His playoff run and more importantly, Finals performance, showed he’s the perfect complement to LeBron James. Not a pure point, but perhaps the best scorer ever at the point guard position.” – Vincent Goodwill
13. Klay Thompson, Golden State (89)
Comment: “Cold-blooded shooter from deep has the temerity to play fabulous defense on the opponent’s more dangerous backcourt player. A two-way All-Star.” – Monte Poole
12. DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento (96)
“Cousins will take note of his ranking and treat each of us accordingly. He too has a list. And we are all now on it. He’s the best big in the game and he’s primed for the biggest season of his career.” – James Ham
11. James Harden, Houston (101)
“He could get just about any shot he wanted to in the past, and now that he’s going to be the starting point guard, there’s no reason why this guy shouldn’t lead the league in scoring, handily.” – A. Sherrod Blakely
10. Damian Lillard, Portland (102)
“A superb leader who makes everyone in his locker room better, Lillard is also a fearless shooter who craves the big shot. Needs to improve his defense and his shooting percentages, but is emerging as one of the game’s best playmakers.” – Jason Quick
9. Anthony Davis, New Orleans (103)
“Davis, a double-double machine, is returning from injury. Will he play more than 70 games for the first time in his career? It remains to be seen how much Davis will help the Pelicans improve from their 30-win season.” – Jessica Camerato 
8. Draymond Green, Golden State (115)
“At 6-7, can defend an All-NBA center such as DeAndre Jordan or switch onto an elite point guard such as Chris Paul and win those battles. Green isn't a system player. He is the system for Golden State, which allows the other All-Stars on the team to prosper while he does a lot of the dirty work.” – J. Michael  
7. Paul George, Indiana (129)
“Can score, rebound, defend and now with a clean bill of health, George and his retooled Pacers teammates will be a force in the East this season.” – A. Sherrod Blakely
6. Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers (134)
“An elite defender and floor general, the nine-time All-Star is also probably one of the NBA’s best competitors, which rubs off on his team. At age 31, the question is how much longer can he continue to check the young point guards?” – Jason Quick
5. Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio (149)
“Leonard's impact on the Spurs will be magnified this season following the retirement of Tim Duncan. Look for the two-time Defensive Player of the Year to try to get his team back atop the West.  – Jessica Camerato
t-3. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City (155)
“Tied for 3rd with his new arch nemesis? Westbrook will statistically flourish in his new role as King of the Dust Bowl. It may not lead him to a Western Conference showdown against Durant and his Warriors, but it’s hard to count him out.” – James Ham 
t-3. Kevin Durant, Golden State (155)
“Famous for scoring from deep, he is deadly on the block, a default rim protector, the best rebounding small forward alive and has a full grasp of the team game.” – Monte Poole
2. Stephen Curry, Golden State (162)
“Back-to-back MVP, including first unanimous winner, his incredible shooting range stretches defenses like no one we’ve ever seen. A legitimate game-changer. – Monte Poole
1. LeBron James, Cleveland  (175)
“DJ Khaled’s “All I do is win” hit from 2010 really should be the soundtrack to LeBron James’ career which now includes title bling in two cities – Miami (2 titles) and Cleveland – that could not be any more different. Hands down, he’s the best in the game right now.” – A. Sherrod Blakely 

Others receiving votes: DeMar DeRozan, Toronto (15 points); Mike Conley, Memphis (15); Paul Millsap, Atlanta (14); Hassan Whiteside, Miami (13); Isaiah Thomas, Boston (8); Gordon Hayward, Utah (7); Chris Bosh, Miami (3).