It was a foregone conclusion for most of the month, but the Angels finally wrapped up their third straight AL West title last night, wiping out division contender Texas with a 11-0 shutout. It was a bittersweet moment for a team who have quietly established a near-stranglehold on the division, but who still misses a fellow player taken from them just six months ago.
After their win but before the media showed up, manager Mike Scioscia addressed his team and reminded them - though they probably didn’t need it - that the win also belonged just as much to killed rookie pitcher Nick Adenhart as to the rest of them. To the Angels’ credit, they did exactly that. It’s just that pouring their beer and champagne on his jersey, all things considered, might be taken the wrong way.
As we know from our study of horror movies, it’s usually flies that congregate in places where Satan has taken up residence. That’s why I was surprised by this development — Scott Boras‘ private box at Anaheim Stadium was overrun by a giant swarm of bees today.
This brave nature photographer was no help whatsoever, so stadium workers had to use a giant Dustbuster to vacuum up the bees so that LA could continue spanking the A’s, 9-1. Read more…
I have always thought it’s weird when people bring up the idea of removing steroid-era numbers from baseball’s official record book, as if history can be fixed simply by ignoring it. Say what you want about Barry Bonds or Mark McGwire, but every single home run they hit counted in a real-life Major League Baseball game.
For those of you scoring at home, that’s twice now that John Calipari-helmed teams have seen Final Four runs erased from the books, although in 1996 UMass was only forced to give up its 4-1 NCAA tournament record, and not its entire season, due to Marcus Camby’s indiscretions with an agent. In this case, Memphis’ whole season is being invalidated and Calipari is about to find his coaching resume to be 38 wins lighter.
(This didn’t happen either.)
I suppose it makes sense on some level. If Rose shouldn’t have been eligible to play, then how could any of the team’s wins be valid? But ultimately, this is just a big fat case of “who cares?” Michigan vacated its two runs to the title game with the Fab Five, but what did that accomplish (other than banning the team from the postseason in 2003 for things that happened a decade earlier)? It’s not like they’re giving up anything tangible. The memory of what happened will always be there. Chris Webber isn’t suddenly off the hook for that timeout thing.
“Honestly, I don’t care,” former Memphis guard Antonio Anderson said. “We know what we did. We didn’t do anything wrong, but it is what it is.”
And he’s got a point. The rest of the team didn’t do anything wrong. Even Calipari, it seems, didn’t do anything wrong here. Derrick Rose did allegedly do something wrong, but it’s unlikely that anything is going to happen to him. He, like Camby and Webber, will go on to make tons of money in the NBA while their former teammates are told that their dream college seasons didn’t even happen.
Of course, thus far, only teams that didn’t win the title have had such sanctions levied against them. It will be interesting to see if the NCAA is willing to strip a team of a title and hand it to the runner-up if something like this happens in the future.
(This…yeah, this happened.)
So, remember how (insert contending team here) was crazy not to give up half their team to get Roy Halladay a couple of weeks ago? Well, there are at least two teams that are feeling pretty good about their decision not to mortgage the farm for a short-sighted chance at success.
• English soccer team Burnley, playing its first Premier League home game ever (and first in the top division in 33 years), did the unthinkable last night, shocking Manchester United 1-0 on an awesome volley by veteran Robbie Blake:
• Here’s more details on the odd case of Caster Semenya, who won the women’s 800 meter run by a ridiculous 2 1/2 seconds at the World Championships. She is undergoing what is reportedly an “extremely complex, difficult” set of tests to determine whether or not she is actually a she. A gynecologist is involved, so I imagine that “extremely complex” is an understatement.
Unless you grew up in the 1950s or ’60s, it’s impossible to describe the runaway popularity of Bozo the Clown. It was a simpler time, when a man with oversize shoes and pointy red hair captivated a nation: Kids were nuts for Bozo, and adults too. Comedy is so complicated these days, with your LOLcats and your John Daly and your random idiot Chicago Cubs fans. But there was a time when hilarity consisted of just a bulb horn and some seltzer down your pants. That was comedy you could understand.
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (and that name is pretty fun right there) have a direct link to those halcyon days of comicality in rookie pitcher Trevor Bell, who happens to be the grandson of one of the original and most famous Bozo the Clowns.
I guess with all the trade deadline rumors about deals that did or didn’t happen, it’s kind of easy to overlook the most important thing in baseball: the standings. Because the story no one seems to be talking about is the fact that the best records in each league belong to teams in Southern California, setting up a real possibility of the first-ever Freeway Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the…let’s just call them the Angels.
Both teams looked the part of World Series contenders on Sunday. In Atlanta, the Dodgers used a three-run homer by Matt Kempto pound the Braves 9-1; meanwhile, the Angels hammered the Twins 13-4 to complete a three-game road sweep where they scored 35 runs. And while not everything is 100 percent for either team (Chad Billingsley left his start early with cramps during the Dodgers’ win, while Vladimir Guerrero suddenly turned 150 years old this season for the Angels), there’s at least a strong possibility of an all-LA (kinda, sorta) World Series.
And as a baseball fan living in Los Angeles, here’s my feeling on this: I hope to God this doesn’t happen. The first reason is selfish: I have to drive past Dodger Stadium every day for work - it’s almost impossible for a Tuesday night game against Florida, so I can’t imagine what a World Series game against the Angels would be like. A 30-minute commute turning into a two-hour nightmare? No thanks.
But more importantly, I’d have to hear weeks of coverage about the series as if it’s a real, heated rivalry. Which would make my head explode, because it just isn’t. This isn’t Red Sox vs. Yankees, with real, palpable hatred. Or even Yankees vs. Mets or Cubs vs. White Sox, both of which are city rivalries with loads of class, race and societal baggage (in that who you root for speaks volumes about who you are and where you came from).
Dodgers vs. Angels has none of this. People root for one or the other based on which ballpark was closer to them growing up. (Fortunately, the area that is equidistant from Dodger Stadium and Angel Stadium is the mini-mall and warehouse-filled patch of nothingness called Norwalk.) If Dodger fans think about the Angels at all, it’s with a dismissive chuckle. Meanwhile, Angels fans will quickly point out who has the last World Series title while secretly grimacing at the whole “Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim” fiasco.
If you’re a big NFL fan near Troy, NY tonight, you might want to check out some minor-league baseball as the Tri-Cities ValleyCats take on the Oneonta Tigers. Why? Because SI’s Peter King is going to be throwing out the first pitch and hanging out with fans to talk about the upcoming season, along with a host of NFL experts including NFL.COM’s Adam Schefter, Sporting News’ Albert Breer, NY Giants radio voice Bob Papa and Redskins lineman Ross Tucker.
The CHICAGO TRIBUNE breathlessly reports that Jay Cutlercompleted his first 12 passes during 7-on-7 drills at camp yesterday. Although to be fair, Kyle Orton and Rex Grossman probably couldn’t complete 12 passes back and forth to each other.
Formula One driver Jensen Button spent part of his break from racing competing in the London Triathlon, where he set a personal best. I would have spent the time watching his girlfriend Jessica Michibata giving her personal best while modeling bikinis on a beach in Japan.
Letdown City: the rally car racing final at the X Games gets stopped halfway through when Travis Pastrana wrecks his car, handing the win to former Indy 500 winner Kenny Brack. To celebrate, Brack knocked back a tall glass of ice cold Red Bull and milk.
I guess you could say that the Red Sox’s trade for Victor Martinez has paid some early dividends: he went 5-for-6 in Boston’s 18-10 win over Baltimore. Too bad Clay Buchholz is still not very good at pitching to big league hitters.
Not only did Gallo admit to police officers after the crash that he “absolutely” should not have been driving the night of the crash, he was apparently so hammered that he has no idea why he was in Fullerton in the first place since he and his step-brother had been drinking in Covina (almost 25 miles away). Especially since he “had never been in the city of Fullerton, doesn’t know anyone in the city of Fullerton and doesn’t know why he would be in the city of Fullerton.”
That’s because Andrew Thomas Gallo, the accused drunk driver, has pled not guilty to the three counts of murder, the one count of drunk driving, and the one count of fleeing an accident that he faces. So unless there’s a plea deal for something like three counts of manslaughter and DUI following closely behind, get ready for this case to be on the news. A lot.
Let’s be honest with ourselves: the Penguins are done. Sure, technically all Detroit did on Sunday night was hold home ice advantage with their 3-1 win over Pittsburgh in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals, the same score as Game 1. But their 2-0 lead pretty much feels insurmountable - does anyone feel like the Penguins can take four of the next five games against the Red Wings? Didn’t think so.
Especially since the Red Wings and their old, tired legs, were able to outhustle, outskate and just plain outplay the Penguins 24 hours after Game 1, a made-for-TV contrivance that was supposed to be their downfall. Pittsburgh’s Big Two of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have combined for one goal in the first two games, half as many as Detroit’s Justin Abdelkader, who was playing minor-league hockey in May. And both of his goals have been beauties, including his singlehanded effort last night:
The bottom line for Pittsburgh is simple: when their main goal scorers are being held in check, and their goaltending is soft, they are going to lose. It doesn’t matter how much revenge they want, or if Evgeni Malkin tries to start fights to fire the team up - Detroit is just the better team (and doing this without Pavel Datsyuk, mind you).
Speaking of Malkin’s fisticuffs: despite picking up an instigator penalty at the end of Game 2, which should be an automatic one-game suspension, the NHL has decided that Malkin will be on the ice when the serious returns to Pittsburgh. Think the league wants to avoid a sweep?
With the win, Texas advances to the Super Regional, where they will play TCU in a Best-of-Three series that will likely come down to the final pitch of Game Three. Seriously, guys, it’s OK just to win a 5-1 snoozer every once in a while. (Or if you are Florida State, a 37-6 snoozer.)
Finally, congratulations for Jamie Moyer for getting his 250th career win yesterday, a 4-2 Phillies win over the Nationals. (And really, shouldn’t that could as half a win?) The achievements of the 46-year-old goes to show that not being able to throw hard enough to break glass isn’t a prerequisite to being successful. And it also shows that if you are a lefty with a durable arm, even a 4.23 career ERA can’t keep you from reaching some big milestones.
I’m making a list of pitchers who don’t want to go to the Chicago White Sox, and apparently every No. 1 is on the list. First it was Jake Peavy of the Padres rejecting a deal, and now the HOUSTON CHRONICLE is saying that Roy Oswalt of the Astros will exercise his veto rights to nix any deal. But I’m sure Barry Zito is still available.
How not to win your first PGA Tour tournament: miss putts inside 10 feet on the final hole of regulation and the first hole of a playoff, and then have your approach on the second playoff hole ricochet off the pin and roll back more than 20 feet from the hole. Steve Stricker was the beneficiary of Tim Clark’s bad luck/meltdown, picking up the Crowne Plaza Invitational.
The Orlando Magic thought they had lost All-Star point guard Jameer Nelson to injury for the season back in February, but now the ORLANDO SENTINEL is saying that the rehab for his shoulder injury is “dramatically” ahead of schedule and he might be available for the NBA Finals.
Arkansas DT Lavunce Askew was arrested on Saturday after allegedly stealing a laptop from an apartment. His teammate Matt Marshall also stole an iPod Touch, but was not charged after he returned it to the doorstep and helped police track down Askew. See, Marshall might be a thief and a stool pigeon, but his heart is in the right place.
World champion hurdler Jana Rawlinson was forced to confirm an embarrassing, poorly-kept secret circulating around the track world for months. Not that she’s using PEDs, but that she had breast augmentation. You would think if there’s one sport where being busty is a disadvantage, it’s hurdling. Check out some Russ Meyer-approved before and after action:
Absent from the memorial process, though is merchandising; they don’t sell t-shirts at funerals, after all. To that end, when you try to order a Nick Adenhart jersey at MLB.com, the site rejects the order. It’s not out of reverence for the Adenhart family, though; it’s apparently a strange roster-based idiosyncrasy:
“Your current entry cannot be processed. Some entries are prohibited due to guidelines for past and present player names. Please create a new entry.”
You’re probably reading that and thinking, “huh?” Read more…