It’s not often that injury news takes us completely aback, but that’s absolutely the case over in Pullman tonight. One slightly mentioned aspect of last weekend’s game pitting Washington State against Southern Methodist was WSU’s tailback, James Montgomery, suffering an apparent knee injury. Not that those aren’t serious, but, y’know… they happen.
But one thing that doesn’t usually happen is a potentially fatal injury that nobody recognizes immediately. That’s what apparently befell Montgomery during the game; after the game, he reported increasing discomfort with the knee, and went in for surgery on Sunday morning. It probably saved his life.
In this continuing Caster Semenya saga, which - if she’s in fact a lady, as tests will soon “prove,” must be humiliating for her, one of our favorite details is that the letters in her name rearrange to spell “Yes, A Secret Man” and some people are taking that as a sign that it’s true, she must be in fact a man. Disregard the fact, of course, that rearranging names is utter nonsense; after all, our own Pete O. Gaines‘ name* rearranges to spell “Penis Goatee,” but that doesn’t mean anything.
But the main crux of the case against Semenya, aside from the fact that she’s absolutely destroying the competition, is that with clothes on, superficially, she doesn’t bear much resemblance to a woman. So one magazine got an idea: Let’s make her over and put some clothes on her that make her superficially resemble a woman! Problem solved?
For the past couple years, the Republic of South Africa has been loudly proclaiming that the 2010 World Cup is going to be a smashing success, that their country will have no problems hosting the world’s largest sporting event, and that everything is going perfectly according to plan. The one thing they forgot, though, is that they have a free press and that the rest of the world has access to things like the Internet.
But you’ve gotta give South Africa credit for being creative. They’ve averted strikes and other potentially disastrous events so far, and now they’ve gotten creative about their lack of ticket sales as well, giving away thousands of tickets to impoverished South Africans.
(On the plus side, anything to cut down on the use of these beehorns is an undebatably positive step.)
But even as fears began to subside and optimism returned to the Cup, workers at the various stadia being built groused about low pay, often in direct violation of South African minimum wage (there’s that corruption cropping up again). Now, they’ve gone on strike, directly jeopardizing the country’s ability to host the tournament that looms just 11 months away.
Back in April of 1996, Minnesota Twins manager Tom Kelly said of Mariano Rivera: “That guy, he should be in a higher league. Ban him from baseball. He should be illegal.” At the time, Rivera had zero Major League saves and the Mets and Yankees had never played each other in a game that counted. Last night, Mo earned his 500th career save in a 4-2 win over the Mets, and it will be just as memorable for what he did at the plate than what he did on the mound.
Rivera came in to pitch in the 8th inning last night with the Yankees clinging to a 3-2 lead and Met runner in scoring position. After striking out Omir Santos, the Yankee lineup ended up getting to Rivera’s spot in the order. And Mo did something he had never ever done in his Major League career — reach base. Not only that, he earned an RBI for his bases-loaded walk by Francisco Rodriguez.
Earlier in the inning, the Yankees had engaged in some shenangians, sending Francisco Cervelli to the on-deck circle for Rivera when Derek Jeter was up with runners on 2nd and 3rd with 2 outs. This led to maybe the only time in history in which Steve Phillips and Joe Morgan have made tons of sense. There’s no way Rivera’s coming out of the game, with the Yankees leading 3-2, yet Jerry Manuel initially chose to have K-Rod pitch to Jeter with a base open. Knowing, mind you, that there was a 0% chance that Joe Girardi would lift Rivera for a pinch-hitter. Morgan and Phillips stopped just short of calling Manuel a moron for throwing Jeter a strike on the first pitch. After two balls out of the zone, the Mets finally gave Jeter the free pass. Rivera, of course, strolled to the plate, and was promptly walked (after he fought off a tough 2-2 pitch).
Rivera is still #2 all-time in saves to Trevor Hoffman, but will go down in history as the best closer ever because of his ridiculous 0.77 ERA (in 117+ innings) and 34 saves in the postseason. Plus, he’s now the only closer in MLB history with 500 saves who has been walked by another pitcher (Hoffman has no walks in 35 plate appearances).
It’s only fitting that the Mets were instrumental in all of this, as they keep finding new and interesting ways to fail against their cross-town rivals.
1) Shortstop Stephen Drew lobbed a perfect strike to first baseman Mark Reynolds on a routine grounder. And Reynolds dropped the ball. Just dropped it. It was so bad, it actively looked like he was either trying to drop the ball or had never played baseball in his life.
2) Maicer Izturis lined a shot directly to right fielder Justin Upton. This ball also had the gall to hit Upton right in the glove, and he too made a complete mess out of it, as it bounded away from him and rolled to the wall.
3) The next batter, Bobby Abreu hit a ground ball directly at second baseman Felipe Lopez, who fielded the ball and threw him out. Unfortunately, the ball Lopez fielded was imaginary and the actual ball was somewhere in right-center.
This disaster came just one day after Arizona played a bunt by Erick Aybar into a t-ball home run (courtesy of two throwing errors on the same play). Is it any wonder the D-Backs are 30-46? Weren’t they one of the rising teams in baseball a couple of years ago?
And everything was looking really great for the U.S., which came back from near-certain elimination in the group stage of the Confederations Cup to shock Spain in the semis and take a 2-0 halftime lead over Brazil in the final. And while the Americans deserved the early lead, the Brazilians were clearly the better team over the course of 90 minutes, outshooting the U.S. 31-9. It was only a matter of time before they found the back of the net, and they beat Tim Howard three times in the second half to take the title.
The NEW YORK TIMES says that U.S. soccer narrowly missed a “moment” it needed to gain the sport traction in this country again. While the run to the 2002 World Cup quarterfinals was gripping, the games were played in the middle of the night and the Americans came up short in the one game everyone finally tuned into (the quarterfinal loss to Germany). Likewise, most casual fans missed the huge win over Spain on Wednesday, but were glued to the screen as Brazil stormed back to crush our dreams once again on Sunday.
Still, the U.S. soccer program is in better shape now than it has ever been, but if the sport is really going to take the next step in this country (if that can actually ever happen), they can’t afford to have a weak showing on the return trip to South Africa next summer.
• The single-A California League is known as the place where pitchers’ ERAs go to die. This is especially true in the wind-blown desert of Victorville, where the High Desert Mavericks scored 18 runs last night in a home game against the Lake Elsinore Storm. Oh, and they lost by 15 runs.
You read that right. The Storm scored 22 runs in the first five innings, then added 11 more in the last two, and beat High Desert 33-18. The game lasted 4 hours and 10 minutes and was played in 100-degree heat. There were 10 home runs hit, and Lake Elsinore’s starting pitcher gave up 11 runs and would’ve earned the win if his manager hadn’t lifted him with 2 outs in the fifth inning and his team leading by 11 runs. Lake Elsinore picked up 32 hits while the Mavericks had 26. Two of those hits were by outfielder James McOwen, a lightly-regarded prospect who extended his hitting streak to a league-record 36 games.
• TNT’s play-by-play man for NASCAR was suspended from yesterday’s broadcast for a “loud and public confrontation” that took place at his hotel the other night. Nobody in the booth mentioned their missing colleague, Bill Weber.
• BLACK VOICES says Serena Williams is writing a TV pilot inspired by both “Sex and the City” and “Family Guy.” Just to warn you, Serena, the Sarah Jessica Parker-looks-like-a-horse joke is kind of a tired bit now.
• Scottish star Andy Murray is drawing record crowds to see him play at Wimbledon this year, and he’s up against Stanislas Wawrinka in the fourth round today. And if you tune in, you might want to keep your eyes peeled for Murray’s girlfriend, Kim Sears:
When the Egyptian soccer team lost $2,400 dollars from a few players’ rooms in South Africa a couple days ago, the head of Egypt’s delegation was unusually quick to lay the blame on the players themselves and not on the host country of the Confederations Cup: “There was some negligence on the players’ part, leaving the money in drawers, and they’ll be getting firm instructions for next time.”
(”Now go back to your room with no prostitutes!”)
Now we may know why: the players might have been getting firm instructions from prostitutes hired after their tremendous upset win over powerhouse Italy and left their drawers down while the female sex workers made off with their cash in a robbery. Well, that’s better; it’s not a security problem but an entirely different kind of crime. See you next year, World Cup fans; bring extra cash for our hookers to steal from you!
All that stood between Iraq and winning $1.4 million was for someone to put a ball into a net behind a bunch of guys from New Zealand two times within 90+ minute. It would have put Iraqi soccer into a very rare category: Iraqi businesses making money. And it should have been simple: New Zealand has lost every single game they’ve ever played in a FIFA tournament.
Congratulations to Egypt, who pulled off the shock of the Confederations Cup in South Africa yesterday by beating current world champions Italy 1-0 in a group stage match. It was an historic win for Egypt specifically and African soccer in general, as the victory proved that teams from Africa can compete with - and beat - the best teams in the world.
But despite the result, five unnamed members of the Egyptian national team were pretty big losers yesterday. Why? Because as the BBC reports, they had their hotel robbed and about $2,400 in cash stolen while they were playing in the biggest match of their lives. Whoops! Looks like South African officials still have a few kinks to work out before they host the World Cup next year.
If you turned on ESPN2 after you woke up this morning, you may have noticed the opening game of the Concederation’s Cup in South Africa kicking off. The Con Cup is essentially a fabricated event, put on by FIFA as a tune-up for the World Cup a year before the larger event kicks off; a way to test the host country’s ability to put on the real show 12 months later.
(You’re paying $500,000-1 million for this team to get crushed in Africa.)
This 2009 Con. Cup got started with a match between the host, South Africa, and Iraq. Wait, Iraq is at an international soccer tournament? How are they paying for it? Well, that’s a good question, particularly since it’s probably setting the nation back at least $500,000 to get to the event and stay there for its duration. The last time we checked, much of that funding was still coming directly from American taxpayers’ pockets.