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.

THE BEST

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.)

THE WORST FEELINGS

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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Best of MLB: Stephen Strasburg stays unbeaten as Nats pound Cards

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Best of MLB: Stephen Strasburg stays unbeaten as Nats pound Cards

WASHINGTON -- Stephen Strasburg (9-0) won his 12th consecutive decision dating to last season, pitching six innings of one-run ball as Washington salvaged a four-game split.

Strasburg improved to 12-0 in 15 starts since losing to the Mets on Sept. 9, and the Nationals have won all 15 of those games. The 12 consecutive winning decisions is a franchise record for a starter, breaking a mark shared by Livan Hernandez (2005) and Dennis Martinez (1989).

Jayson Werth connected for a pinch-hit grand slam. Wilson Ramos had three hits, including a two-run homer, and drove in four runs. Bryce Harper hit an RBI single during a three-run fourth off Michael Wacha (2-6), who lost his sixth straight decision (see full recap).

Dodgers score twice in 9th to top Mets
NEW YORK -- Adrian Gonzalez snapped a ninth-inning tie with a two-run single off suddenly struggling closer Jeurys Familia, and Los Angeles beat New York.

Curtis Granderson hit a tying triple for the Mets immediately after Clayton Kershaw was lifted with two outs in the eighth. But the Dodgers quickly regrouped for their sixth victory in seven games since losing four straight.

Kershaw struck out 10, walked none and capped a magnificent May with another sublime performance.

Adam Liberatore (1-0) got the win. Kenley Jansen pitched a perfect ninth for his 15th save.

Familia (2-1) allowed two runs on two hits and two walks (see full recap).

Castro's homer Yanks' only hit in victory
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Starlin Castro's two-run, seventh-inning homer off Jake Odorizzi was the Yankees' only hit of the game, enough to give New York a 2-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday.

According to Baseball Reference data going back to 1913, the Yankees' only other one-hit win was when Charlie Mullen had an RBI single to beat Cleveland in six innings in a doubleheader nightcap on July 10, 1914.

Nathan Eovaldi (6-2) gave up one run and six hits in six innings to win his career-best fifth consecutive start and beat Odorizzi (2-3).

Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman each pitched a perfect inning and combined for seven strikeouts. Chapman got his seventh save (see full recap).

Deitrich hurt on odd play in Marlins' win over Braves
ATLANTA -- Derek Dietrich hit a tiebreaking, two-run homer and drove in four runs before getting hurt on a foul ball hit into Miami's dugout.

Dietrich's homer landed deep in the lower section of the right-field seats in the sixth, giving Miami a 3-1 lead. A former Georgia Tech star, Dietrich added a two-run double off Eric O'Flaherty in the seventh inning, then was hit by a foul ball off the bat of Christian Yelich in the ninth.

The team said X-rays were negative and Dietrich was to remain in Atlanta on Sunday night for further evaluations.

Tom Koehler (3-5) allowed three runs -- two earned -- three hits and five walks in seven-plus innings. Julio Teheran (1-5) gave up three runs, five hits and three walks in 5 1/3 innings (see full recap).

Correa's home run lifts Astros over Angels in 13
ANAHEIM, Calif.  -- Pinch-hitter Carlos Correa had a three-run homer off Mike Morin (1-1) in the 13th inning.

Correa got a run-scoring hit in the 13th inning for the second time in six games, following up his game-ending single against Baltimore on Tuesday.

Albert Pujols had three hits for the Angels, who blew an eighth-inning lead and stranded 14 runners while losing for the fourth time in five games.

Michael Feliz (3-1) pitched the 12th for Houston (see full recap).

Report: P.J. Carlesimo won't join Sixers' coaching staff

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Report: P.J. Carlesimo won't join Sixers' coaching staff

It doesn't sound like the Sixers' replacement for Mike D'Antoni will be the most rumored name for the position.

NBA coaching veteran P.J. Carlesimo has decided to not join Brett Brown's staff as associate head coach and instead will remain a television analyst, according to tweets Sunday night by ESPN's Mark Stein.

Stein added that despite "strong mutual interest," Carlesimo made the decision for family reasons.

The 67-year-old Carlesimo has spent parts of nine seasons as a head coach in the league and five more as an assistant. He was last on a NBA bench when he took over as the Brooklyn Nets' interim head coach in 2012-13.

So the Sixers still have a vacancy on their bench after D'Antoni, who joined the Sixers in the middle of last season after Jerry Colangelo joined the organization, signed on to become head coach of the Houston Rockets last week. Who the team's next choice for the role is remains to be seen.

Stanley Cup Final: Long roads culminate for both Sharks and Penguins

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Stanley Cup Final: Long roads culminate for both Sharks and Penguins

PITTSBURGH -- It wasn't supposed to take the San Jose Sharks this long to reach their first Stanley Cup Final. It wasn't supposed to take this long for Sidney Crosby to guide the Pittsburgh Penguins back to a destination many figured they'd become a fixture at after winning it all in 2009.

Not that either side is complaining.

Certainly not the Sharks, whose nearly quarter-century wait to play on the NHL's biggest stage will finally end Monday night when the puck drops for Game 1. Certainly not Crosby, who raised the Cup after beating Detroit seven years ago but has spent a significant portion of the interim dealing with concussions that threatened to derail his career and fending off criticism as the thoughtful captain of a team whose explosiveness during the regular season too often failed to translate into regular mid-June parade through the heart of the city.

Maybe the Penguins should have returned to the Cup Final before now. The fact they didn't makes the bumpy path the franchise and its superstar captain took to get here seem worth it.

"I think I appreciated it prior to going through some of those things," Crosby said. "I think now having gone through those things I definitely appreciate it more. I think I realize how tough it is to get to this point."

It's a sentiment not lost on the Sharks, who became one of the NHL's most consistent winners shortly after coming into the league in 1991. Yet spring after spring, optimism would morph into disappointment. The nadir came in 2014, when a 3-0 lead over Los Angeles in the first round somehow turned into a 4-3 loss. The collapse sent the Sharks into a spiral that took a full year to recover from, one that in some ways sowed the seeds for a breakthrough more than two decades in the making.

General manager Doug Wilson tweaked the roster around fixtures Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton, who remained hopeful San Jose's window for success hadn't shut completely even as the postseason meltdowns piled up.

"I always believed that next year was going to be the year, I really did," Thornton said. "I always thought we were a couple pieces away. Even last year not making the playoffs, I honestly thought we were a couple pieces away, and here we are."

The Penguins, like the Sharks, are a study in near instant alchemy. General manager Jim Rutherford rebuilt the team on the fly after taking over in June, 2014 and with the team sleepwalking last December, fired respected-but-hardly-charismatic Mike Johnston and replaced him with the decidedly harder-edged Mike Sullivan. The results were nearly instantaneous.

Freed to play to its strengths instead of guarding against its weaknesses, Pittsburgh rocketed through the second half of the season and showed the resilience it has sometimes lacked during Crosby's tenure by rallying from a 3-2 deficit against Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference finals, dominating Games 6 and 7 to finally earn a shot at bookending the Cup that was supposed to give birth to a dynasty but instead led to years of frustration.

True catharsis for one side is four wins away. Some things to look for over the next two weeks of what promises to be an entertaining final.

Fresh faces
When the season began, Matt Murray was in the minor leagues. Now the 22-year-old who was supposed to be Pittsburgh's goalie of the future is now very much the goalie of the present. Pressed into action when veteran Marc-Andre Fleury suffered a concussion on March 31, Murray held onto the job even after Fleury returned by playing with the steady hand of a guy in his 10th postseason, not his first. San Jose counterpart Martin Jones served as Jonathan Quick's backup when the Kings won it all in 2014 and has thrived while playing behind a defense that sometimes doesn't give him much to do. Jones has faced over 30 shots just four times during the playoffs.

"HBK" is H-O-T:
Pittsburgh's best line during the playoffs isn't the one centered by Crosby or Malkin but Nick Bonino, who has teamed with Phil Kessel and Carl Hagelin to produce 17 goals and 28 assists in 18 games. Put together when Malkin missed six weeks with an elbow injury, the trio has given the Penguins the balance they desperately needed after years of being too reliant on their stars for production.

Powerful Sharks
San Jose's brilliant run to the Finals has been spearheaded by a power play that is converting on 27 percent (17 of 63) of its chances during the playoffs. The Sharks are 9-2 when they score with the man advantage and just 3-4 when it does not.

Old men and the C(up)
Both teams have relied heavily on players who began their NHL careers in another millennium. Pittsburgh center Matt Cullen, who turns 40 in November, has four goals during the playoffs. Thornton and Marleau, both 36, were taken with the top two picks in the 1997 draft that was held in Pittsburgh while 37-year-old Dainius Zubrus draws stares from younger teammates when he tells them he used to play against Hall of Famer (and current Penguins owner) Mario Lemieux.

"When I say 'Twenty years ago I was playing against Lemieux, they say 'I was 2-years-old,'" Zubrus said.