Scatter-gunning from the catbird’s seat (in honor of the great, still-going-strong Don Riley):
WARNING: IF YOU’RE a “Justified’’ fan and have not yet watched Tuesday night’s series finale, stop right now. Do Not Proceed. I’m going to give away some important elements.
The final episode fit into the category of the final season, which was a disappointment from start to finish. As with most series, even the great ones, Justified stayed too long.
That doesn’t change the fact that Raylan Givens, as portrayed by Tim Oliphant, was the character that all red-blooded American males would like to have grown up to be.
The one great plot twist of the final episode was this: Wynn Duffy, played by Jere Burns and assumed by me to be everyone’s favorite bad guy, wound up with the money.
And the shocking fact Boyd Crowder (with the great Walton Goggins) was still alive at series end makes me think a movie would not be out of the question. Of course, the writers would have to regain their fastballs to make that work.
THE NHL PLAYOFFS are unlike any other such tournament in sports. The fact the teams play to three, not to 105 as in the NBA, means a fair percentage of upsets are not only common but guaranteed. First-round series routinely go six or seven games, and the underdogs will win a few.
The Bovada odds demonstrate that: The Rangers are the top favorites in the eight series at 11 to 5 over the Penguins. When we get to the NBA playoffs, 11 to 5 will be on the low side of the odds in first-round series.
Other odds: Tampa Bay is 2 to 1 over Detroit, Montreal is 8 to 5 over Ottawa, Washington is 7 to 5 over the Islanders, Anaheim is 8 to 5 over Winnipeg (that’s a 1 vs. 8), Chicago is just under 3 to 2 (29 to 20) over Nashville, the Blues are the same over the Wild, and Vancouver is 7 to 5 over Calgary.
NHL playoffs = crap shoot (basically).
THE FRIENDS OF GARY SHOPEK will celebrate his life with a hockey skate and other events from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday at Victory Memorial Arena in Minneapolis. It costs $5 to skate, there will be silent auction tables and a live auction. You can find the Gary Shopek Memorial Fund on Facebook.
Here’s a column when Shopek, the Minneapolis kid who lived his dream playing for the Gophers, died: http://www.startribune.com/sports/blogs/256215321.html
‘DRAFT ACADEMY’ IS ANOTHER of the shows that ESPN uses to build up to the NFL draft. There are six players highlighted on the series, including quarterback Jameis Winston, the anticipated No. 1 overall choice for Tampa Bay.
Another player being spotlighted is far less famous nationally: John (Taz) Crockett, the running back who comes from the north Minneapolis, played at Totino Grace, and found stardom and national championships at North Dakota State.
ESPN’s first shoot of Crockett was when the network went to Frisco, Texas for the national title game. NDSU rallied late for a 29-27 victory over Illinois State and a fourth straight FCS championship.
Jose Morales, an ESPN producer, told the Fargo Forum: “We heard [Crockett] was quite a character and that he’s make a compelling athlete to follow, so we decided to send a camera to the game and see what we could get.’’
Crockett’s not disappointing on “Draft Academy,’’ so far, with his big personality. Here’s a column I wrote on Crockett during the Bison’s latest championship run: http://www.startribune.com/sports/gophers/286306641.html
BIG AL BAISI, the owner of Alary’s Bar in St. Paul, died last weekend. Baisi’s father, also Al, was an offensive lineman for the Chicago Bears in the 1940s and his son’s devotion to the Bears knew no bounds.
Alary’s has stood as one of the most-loyal Bears bars in the Twin Cities. And to guarantee it would stay that way, Big Al, in bad health for some time, made arrangements for the bar to be turned over to a long-time friend and also a Bears’ devotee.