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June 6, 2014

Lorde North American 2014 Tour Dates

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2014 Belmont Prediction

June 5, 2014

California Chrome has been all the rage this last month -- and rightfully so. The Thoroughbred won the 2014 Kentucky Derby with ease, before winning the 2014 Preakness Stakes. On June 7, Chrome will race, attempting to become the first horse since Affirmed in 1978 to win horse racing's elusive Triple Crown.

Since Affirmed won the Triple Crown, 12 horses have won the first two legs of the Triple Crown, but failed to win the Belmont. I'll Have Another was the most recent horse to win the Kentucky Derby and Preakness (2012), but did not run in the Belmont because of tendonitis. Prior to him, Big Brown was the last horse to attempt to win the Triple Crown, but lost to Da' Tara in the Belmont. Amazingly, Da' Tara had 38-1 odds prior to the race, and pulled off one of the biggest upsets in horse racing history.

No horse has as poor odds as Da' Tara did -- Matterhorn and Matsuzak are the biggest longshots at 30-1 entering Saturday's race. California Chrome, however, is by far the odds-on favorite, with an opening line of 3-5.

Recent history suggests that California Chrome will fail -- after all, 12 horses have tried to win the Triple Crown since 1978, and each one has failed to win the Belmont. Chrome, however, does share one thing in common with a legendary race horse. Secretariat, who won the Triple Crown in 1973, shared the same post positions as California Chrome in both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness.

At the Belmont, Secretariat broke from the No. 2 gate.

At the Belmont on Saturday, California Chrome will break from the No. 2 gate.

Coincidence? Probably. The entire notion of fate is questionable at best and if fate does exist, I can't imagine it's wasting much time on horses.

At 1 and 1/2 miles, the Belmont is the longest of the three Triple Crown races. The Kentucky Derby is 1 and 1/4 miles, while the Preakness is the shortest of the three, at 1 and 3/16 miles. As the longest of the three, the Belmont truly is the test of champions, as it tests a horse's endurance as well as its speed.

Will California Chrome win the Triple Crown? While Chrome dominated the Kentucky Derby, Ride On Curlin, who opens with 12-1 odds at the Belmont, gave Chrome a run for his money at the Preakness -- but finished over a length behind Chrome. It's quite possible that the extra distance will take its toll on Chrome -- as it does many other horses.

Even though California Chrome is easily the odds-on favorite, and easily who everybody wants to see win -- I just don't think he will. The Belmont is the most gruelling of the Triple Crown races -- and horse racing fans will be reminded of that Saturday on Long Island.

Belmont Straight Trifecta Prediction:

  1. Commanding Curve (15-1)
  2. Wicked Strong (6-1)
  3. California Chrome (3-5)

     

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Events On Sale This Week: 5/8/14

Here's a list of the hottest events with dates going on sale this week. For tickets to these and more events, head over to Ticket Liquidator.

Concerts

Event

Date

Cities

Bonnaroo Thursday, 6/12/14 Manchester, TN
Brad Paisley Friday, 6/6/14 Kingston, ON; Lethbridge, AB; Prince George, BC; Abbotsford, BC
Crosby, Stills, and Nash Friday, 6/6/14 Birmingham, AL; Las Vegas, NV
Demi Lovato Friday, 6/6/14 Montreal, QC; Hamilton, ON; Saskatoon, SK; Edmonton, AB; Calgary, AB; Denver, CO; Everett, WA; Manchester, NH; Uncasville, CT; Pittsburgh, PA; Hershey, PA; Albany, NY; Newark, NJ; Baltimore, MD; Raleigh, NC; Miami, FL; Orlando, FL; Louisville, KY; Kansas City, MO; New Orleans, LA; Tulsa, OK; San Antonio, TX; Moline, IL; Chicago, IL; San Diego, CA
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You Should Root for Miami

June 4, 2014

For the second straight year, the Miami Heat will take on the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals. This year's NBA Finals marks the fourth straight season the Heat are representing the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals, as LeBron James and the Heat attempt to win their third straight NBA title.

The Spurs are no stranger to the NBA Finals, either. The 2014 NBA Finals marks the sixth time since 1999 that San Antonio will compete for the NBA title.

Most of the world outside of Miami will likely root for the Spurs -- and why wouldn't they? The Spurs are perceived as a classy organization that develops stars rather than buying them through free agency, like the Heat did with LeBron James, Chris Bosh and the Super Friends in Miami.

It's not even the fact that the Super Friends were formed years ago, it's how. LeBron ripped the heart out of the city of Cleveland on television when he announced to the world that he was "taking his talents to South Beach."

LeBron's made-for-television decision was indefensible -- but it's been a long time since then. Like most sports fans with a soul, I hated LeBron. Watching the Heat lose to the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals in 2011 was unbelievably satisfying. Not only did LeBron lose in the finals (again), but the Heat lost to the Mavericks, who had never won an NBA title before.

Fast forward three years, and I find myself rooting for LeBron. Did I lose my soul? Possibly.

But maybe not.

LeBron is by far the best player in the league, and will go down as an all-time great. He's already won two titles and has led his team to four consecutive NBA Finals appearances, so the choking argument will never hold weight -- even if he loses another three.

As good as he is, I ultimately don't particularly care if he wins or loses. I want to see LeBron win in 2014 -- and then I want to see him opt out of his contract with Miami, which he can do after this season. The Heat aren't getting any younger with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, and it would likely serve LeBron well to go out on top with a threepeat.

Where could LeBron go?

Well, he could go back to Cleveland, and help right the wrong he did four years ago. The Cavaliers won the draft lottery for the third time in four years, and are poised to take off. If the Cavs can somehow add LeBron back to the mix with the No. 1 overall pick this year, they'll instantly become one of the favorites in the Eastern Conference.

Will it happen? Doubtful if the Heat lose -- I can't imagine LeBron would want to leave Miami on a sour note. But if the Heat win? Well, what's left to prove in Miami? Not much -- and he can cement his legacy as one of the two best, if not the best, player of all-time if he returns to Cleveland and wins another championship or two.

No matter who you root for, these are the best two teams in the league -- and they have been for the last two seasons. Last year's series was highly entertaining, and it should be more of the same this year.

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Stanley Cup Final Prediction

June 3, 2014

The 2013-14 NHL season began back in October, and as the calendar flips to June, we're left with just two teams vying for the Stanley Cup -- the Los Angeles Kings, making their second Stanley Cup Final appearance in three years, and the New York Rangers, making their first Stanley Cup Final appearance since 1994.

In one sense this is the biggest Stanley Cup Final possible, since New York and Los Angeles are the two most populated cities in the United States -- and the two biggest media markets. Perhaps a Stanley Cup Final between the Vancouver Canucks and Toronto Maple Leafs or Montreal Canadiens would be deemed slightly bigger in the hockey world because of all the Canadian hockey fans -- but let's not sell red, white and blue hockey fans short, either.

With New York and Los Angeles, there's no underdog to root for. You're either going to root for the Kings to win their second Stanley Cup in three seasons, or you're going to root for New York -- which, unless you're from New York, can be tough to do, since New York fans are typically showered with success (see: Yankees, Giants).

Allegiances aside, this should be an excellent series. In Jonathan Quick and Henrik Lundqvist, this series boasts two of the best goalies in the entire NHL. Goals could be hard to come by -- even if the Kings are averaging nearly 3.5 goals-per-game in the playoffs thus far.

The Rangers are quite united emotionally, which could boost their play as a whole, as Martin St. Louis' mother recently passed. Dominic Moore, who scored the game-winning goal in Game 6, sending the Rangers to the Stanley Cup Final, lost his wife nearly 18 months ago.

Still, emotion alone isn't enough to win a series. The Rangers had difficulty scoring against Montreal's third-string goalie in the Eastern Conference Finals, and will have an even tougher time against Los Angeles' Quick.

The Kings have home ice, and they're the better team. Look for the Kings to win in six games.

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The calendars turned to June on Sunday (where is 2014 going?), and started off on an entertaining note -- hopefully a precursor to the entire month. The Los Angeles Kings defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 5-4 in overtime, in a thrilling Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals. The Kings were down 2-0 early, 3-2 in the second period and 4-3 late in the third period, but rallied each time.

With the win, the Kings advanced to the Stanley Cup Final for the second time in three seasons, and will take on the New York Rangers. It's the first Stanley Cup Final trip for the Rangers since 1994, and undoubtedly, Madison Square Garden will be rocking when the series shifts back to New York for Games 3 and 4.

The Stanley Cup Final will mark the first time since 1981 when the Dodgers and Yankees met in the World Series that Los Angeles and New York meet in a final of any of the four major sports.

NBA fans are treated to a rematch of last year's NBA Finals, as the Miami Heat take on the San Antonio Spurs. Last year, the Heat came back in improbable fashion in Game 6, and went on to win Game 7 and the franchise's second straight NBA title. The result could be a bit different this year, as the Spurs own home court advantage this year -- whereas the Heat held it last season.

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Firefly Boasts Excellent Lineup

May 29, 2014

Bonnaroo, Coachella and Lollapalooza are synonymous with American music festivals -- but there's an East Coast festival that is quickly gaining in prestige and popularity. The Firefly Music Festival held in Dover, Delaware, is becoming one of the most popular and interesting festivals in the country, despite 2014 being just the third year of its existence.

With 95 bands performing in 2014, it's easy to see why the four-day festival has turned into the music festival to see on the East coast. You've certainly heard of the headliners this year -- the Arctic Monkeys and Foo Fighters will both take the main stage on Friday (June 20), before Third Eye Blind, Imagine Dragons, and Outkast take the main stage on Saturday (June 21). Weezer, the Lumineers and Jack Johnson will perform on Firefly's main stage the end the festival on Sunday, June 22.

This year, the Firefly Music Festival boasts seven stages. The Firefly Main Stage, the Backyard, the Lawn, the Porch, the Forest, the Coffee house, and the Big Break Stage.

While you've certainly heard of all the headliners, many excellent, lesser-known bands will take the other stages at Firefly this year. Portugal. The Man are scheduled to play Friday (June 20), as are Kongos and Airborne Toxic Event -- among many others. After the Foo Fighters finish their main set, Girl Talk will perform on the Backyard Stage -- which will certainly be a fun after-party for those in attendance.

The lineup gets even better on Saturday (June 21), when Cage the Elephant, Grouplove, the Kaiser Chiefs, Tegan and Sara and the Sleigh Bells are all scheduled to perform.

Sunday's lineup features two of my favorite new(ish) artists as well. Phantogram will perform on the Backyard Stage, while Broken Bells are scheduled to perform on the Lawn Stage. Admittedly, I first got into the Broken Bells after I heard that Danger Mouse, Broken Bells' drummer, was producing U2's thirteenth album -- which still hasn't come out yet. I immersed myself with everything Danger Mouse had done in the past to try to guess what U2's new album would sound like, and the net result was becoming a huge fan of the Broken Bells.

With a lineup this good, it's no surprise that Firefly has quickly become one of the biggest music festivals in the country in just three years. If you have the opportunity to get out to Delaware this June, you should absolutely stop by for at least one of the four nights -- you certainly won't regret it. Fans can buy a four-day pass, or buy tickets to individual days.

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You've almost certainly heard of 50 Cent. If you haven't and you're under the age of 45, then it's safe to assume that you've lived in a bubble for the last decade.

The rapper-turned-actor, and Queens native, had the privilege of throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at Tuesday night's Mets-Pirates game at Citi Field. Unfortunately, 50 Cent looked more like 4 Rubles throwing out the first pitch -- in what probably qualifies as the worst first pitch of all-time.

There have been some fairly awful first pitches in recent memory. Remember Carly Rae Jepsen's attempt last year at the Tropicana Dome before a Tampa Bay Rays game? She somehow managed to bounce the ball off an idle camera a good 15 feet away from home plate -- I'm not sure she could do that again if she tried.

What about Carl Lewis a few years back at Safeco Field before a Mariners game? For as bad as Lewis was, he at least managed to throw, or roll, the ball toward the plate.

Even Mariah Carey in high heels managed to at least throw the ball to the catcher -- albeit on four hops -- before a Japanese game years ago.

50 Cent though? His pitch is far worse than Jepsen, Lewis or Carey's.

You can give Carly Rae a bit of a break -- she's a Canadian pop singer who likely never had any exposure to baseball. She also scores bonus points for somehow managing to hit the camera and at least having the ball bounce back toward home plate.

Lewis? Yeah, his was bad. But at least it reached the catcher and went toward home plate. The same goes for Mariah Carey -- and you can give her a bit of a break as well, wearing the highest of high heels.

50 Cent? There's no redemption to be found there. He just airmails the ball toward the on-deck circle, even after taking a full windup -- giving the appearance that he actually knows what he's doing.

Or maybe he does know what he's doing, and just wanted to have the worst first pitch of all-time, just to get the Internet talking about him days before his fifth album comes out.

Oh. That makes sense.

Still, being worse than Carly Rae Jepsen at throwing a baseball just isn't worth the publicity.

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The two biggest cities in the United States appear to be on a hockey collision course.

The New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings both lead the Eastern and Western Conference finals with a commanding 3-1 series lead, and are both just one game away from clinching a trip to the Stanley Cup finals.

For the Rangers, it's been a long time coming. New York last advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1994, when the Rangers bested the Vancouver Canucks in seven games. Since then, it's been mostly heartbreak for the Rangers. New York can make two decades worth of hockey suffering disappear on Tuesday night in Montreal, when they take on the Canadiens in Game 5.

There's no reason that the Rangers shouldn't eliminate the Canadiens -- though it may not happen in Game 5. New York jumped out to a 2-0 series lead after Carey Price, Montreal's star goalie, was injured in Game 1. Consequently, Price will miss the rest of the series -- a major blow to Montreal's chances.

The Rangers avoided disaster Sunday night. The Canadiens and Rangers went to overtime, but Martin St. Louis scored in overtime, giving the Rangers a 3-1 series lead as the series shifts back to Canada.

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Though it's Memorial Day weekend here in the United States and most of us are focused on the Indianapolis 500, baseball, the NBA and NHL playoffs and sparklers, this weekend kicks off a major global event -- the French Open.

In case you haven't paid attention to tennis, well, ever, the French Open is the only of tennis' four major tournaments that is played on clay courts. The clay courts of Roland Garros are an equalizer to a degree, as power players lose effectiveness, since the clay surface causes the ball to slow down once it hits the surface. Pete Sampras, one of tennis' all-time greats, was never able to win the French Open, in large part due to the surface taking away his strengths as a player.

The seeds for the 2014 French Open were announced -- and there's not too many surprises. On the men's side, eight-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal garnered the top seed, while Serena Williams is the top seed on the women's side.

There's never a shortage of drama at any tennis major, but there's going to be a little extra drama in the French air on the women's side of the tournament.

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