Mayor Menino jumps the shark

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Mayor Menino jumps the shark

In this age of doped up, cancer-fighting, cycling pseudo-heroes and Samoan Mormon linebackers with fake dead girlfriends, it's getting harder and harder to take anything at face value. It's damn near impossible to believe that anything is real. And here in Boston, our faith is currently being tested by a 70-year-old man and his very loose grasp of the English language.

In case you missed it, Mayor Menino is back in the news after the latest in a long line of sports-related screw ups. This time, while participating in a public trash-talking session with Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Menino referred to Vince Wilfork as "Vince Wilcock" (while wearing a Wilfork jersey) and Gronk as "Gonk," and as usual, these mistakes have resulted in an onslaught of media coverage.

"That silly Mayor's up to it again!"

LOLZ

Now before we go on, I should admit that perhaps no one in the entire world has obsessed over Mayor Menino's inability to speak more than I have. Over the years, I've gone to ridiculous lengths to mock him on this blog with numerous "State of Boston Sports" addresses, a tribute to the 10-year anniversary of Mo Lewis injuring Drew Bledsoe and most recently, a break down of the 2012 NBA Eastern Conference Finals.

But right around the time of that last one, I sensed that something was up, and preluded my post with this:

Before we get to his inspirational words, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that The Mayor's latest sports take has come with a little bit of controversy. Or more, one very interesting and important question: Is there any chance hes faking it?Is it possible that he's doing this on purpose? That he and his team subscribe to the theory that there's no such thing as bad press, and have determined that there's no better way to get Menino in the headlines than by having him repeatedly screw up the names of local athletes? Personally, I think that's giving the Mayor too much credit, but crazier things have obviously happened. Who knows? Maybe it's all a hoax. Maybe he's been playing us like puppets all these years. Maybe Mayor Menino is actually a British actor named Allen. But despite all the conspiracies, I can tell you this: I want to believe it's real. So until further notice, I will.

And with that, this special announcement:

FURTHER NOTICE!!!

I'm sorry, but there's no way this is real. Not anymore, at least. There's no way that he continues to genuinely screw this stuff up. I mean, damn, in this latest video he's even reading from a script! So what are we supposed to believe now, that he's not only a malaprop but also illiterate?

Nah, if anything he's just a miserable actor.

Check him out right before he screws up Wilfork's name. He literally stares down at his paper, then looks directly at the camera, like he's delivering a line in an infomercial for prostate medicine:

"Wilcock?"

No, Mr. Mayor. Not Wilcock. Just lies.

All lies!

Time to do some soul searching and make a call to Oprah.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

STANLEY CUP FINALS: Guentzel's goal lifts Penguins by Predators 5-3 in Game 1

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STANLEY CUP FINALS: Guentzel's goal lifts Penguins by Predators 5-3 in Game 1

PITTSBURGH - Pittsburgh rookie Jake Guentzel beat Nashville's Pekka Rinne with 3:17 left in regulation to put the Penguins ahead to stay in a 5-3 victory in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday night.

Guentzel snapped an eight-game goalless drought to help the defending champions escape after blowing a three-goal lead.

Nick Bonino scored twice for the Penguins. Conor Sheary scored his first of the playoffs and Evgeni Malkin scored his eighth. The Penguins won despite putting just 12 shots on goal. Murray finished with 23 saves for the Penguins, who used the first coach's challenge in finals history to wipe out an early Nashville goal and held on despite going an astonishing 37:09 at one point without a shot.

Game 2 is Wednesday night in Pittsburgh.

Ryan Ellis, Colton Sissons and Frederick Gaudreau scored for the Predators. Rinne stopped just seven shots.

The Penguins had all of three days to get ready for the final following a draining slog through the Eastern Conference that included a pair of Game 7 victories, the second a double-overtime thriller against Ottawa last Thursday.

Pittsburgh downplayed the notion it was fatigued, figuring adrenaline and a shot at making history would make up for any lack of jump while playing their 108th game in the last calendar year.

Maybe, but the Penguins looked a step behind at the outset. The Predators, who crashed the NHL's biggest stage for the first time behind Rinne and a group of talented defenseman, were hardly intimidated by the stakes, the crowd or the defending champions.

All the guys from the place dubbed "Smashville" have to show for it is their first deficit of the playoffs on a night a fan threw a catfish onto the ice to try and give the Predators a taste of home.

The Penguins, who led the league in scoring, stressed before Game 1 that the best way to keep the Predators at bay was by taking the puck and spending copious amounts of time around Rinne. It didn't happen, mostly because Nashville's forecheck pinned the Penguins in their own end. Clearing attempts were knocked down or outright swiped, tilting the ice heavily in front of Murray.

Yet Pittsburgh managed to build a quick 3-0 lead anyway thanks to a fortunate bounce and some quick thinking by Penguins video coordinator Andy Saucier. Part of his job title is to alert coach Mike Sullivan when to challenge a call. The moment came 12:47 into the first when P.K. Subban sent a slap shot by Murray that appeared to give the Predators the lead.

Sullivan used his coach's challenge, arguing Nashville forward Filip Forsberg was offside. A lengthy review indicated Forsberg's right skate was in the air as he brought the puck into a zone, a no-no.

It temporarily deflated Nashville and gave the Penguins all the wiggle room they needed to take charge.

Malkin scored on a 5-on-3 15:32 into the first, Sheary made it 2-0 just 65 seconds later and when Nick Bonino's innocent centering pass smacked off Nashville defenseman Mattias Ekholm's left knee and by Rinne just 17 seconds before the end of the period, Pittsburgh was in full command.

It looked like a repeat of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals against Ottawa, when the Penguins poured in four goals in the first period of a 7-0 rout.

Nashville, unlike the Senators, didn't bail. Instead they rallied.

Ellis scored the first goal by a Predator in a Stanley Cup Final 8:21 into the second. Though Nashville didn't get another one by Murray, they also kept Rinne downright bored at the other end. Pittsburgh didn't manage a shot on net in the second period, the first time it's happened in a playoff game in franchise history.

Nashville kept coming. Sissons beat Murray 10:06 into the third and Gaudreau tied it just after a fruitless Pittsburgh power play.

No matter. The Penguins have become chameleons under Sullivan. They can win with both firepower and precision.

Guentzel slipped one by Rinne with 3:17 to go in regulation and Bonino added an empty netter to give Pittsburgh early control of the series.

Harper, Strickland throw punches in Nationals-Giants brawl

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Harper, Strickland throw punches in Nationals-Giants brawl

SAN FRANCISCO - An enraged Bryce Harper charged the mound, fired his helmet and traded punches to the head with San Francisco reliever Hunter Strickland after getting hit by a fastball, setting off a wild brawl Monday during the Washington Nationals' 3-0 win over the Giants.

Drilled in the right hip by a 98 mph heater on Strickland's first pitch in the eighth inning with two outs, none on and Washington ahead 2-0, Harper didn't hesitate. The slugger pointed his bat at Strickland, yelled at him and took off.

No one got in Harper's way as he rushed the mound. His eyes were wide as he flung his helmet - it sailed way wide of Strickland, it might've slipped - and they started swinging away. The 6-foot-4 Strickland hit Harper in the face, then they broke apart for a moment before squaring off again. Harper punched Strickland in the head as the benches and bullpen emptied.

Giants teammates Michael Morse and Jeff Samardzija collided hard as they tried to get between the two fighters. Three Giants players forcefully dragged Strickland from the middle of the pack all the way into the dugout, while a teammate held back Harper.

Harper and Strickland were both ejected. They have some history between them - in the 2014 NL Division Series, Harper hit two home runs off Strickland, and the All-Star outfielder glared at the reliever as he rounded the bases after the second shot in Game 4.