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07/06/2015

Who's Goin' Where?

[Posted Sunday p.m. I feel sorry for NBC and NASCAR fans with the rain at Daytona. I was looking forward to it.]

Detroit Tigers Quiz: 1) In the modern, post-1920 era, who are the only two Tigers to get 60 doubles in a season? 2) Post-1920, who is the only Tiger with 20 triples in a season? 3) Who are the only two to hit 50 home runs in a season? 4) Aside from Hank Greenberg, who did it four times, who is the only other Tiger to have 140 RBIs in a season? Answers below.

U-S-A! U-S-A!

Actually, I watched zero of the World Cup until tonight; sorry, women’s soccer fans. I did follow the tournament closely, though. Congratulations to the American girls for their stunning 5-2 win as they rode Carli Lloyd’s 3 early goals to take an insurmountable 4-0 lead over Japan.

NBA Free Agency

While players can’t officially sign until July 9, here are the big ones we know of through Sunday.

--The main target of free agency, Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge, signed a four-year, $80 million max deal to play with San Antonio in a huge coup for the Spurs.

So the Spurs head into the summer having re-signed Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green and Tim Duncan, who announced he’s coming back one more year (his 19th), and it’s very possible Manu Ginobili* will re-sign. Others, like Tony Parker, are already under contract, though they traded Tiago Splitter to free up cap space, and as you’ll see below, Marco Belinelli signed elsewhere.

But still, the Spurs will be loaded and the future is now all centered around a heckuva duo in Aldridge and Leonard.

One thing about LaMarcus, though. He’s not always easy to handle, a complex character who needs to be top dog. But Duncan and Gregg Popovich will set him on the right path.

*Ginobili made this terrific statement from his native Argentina over the weekend. “Pop told us he wanted Tim and me back next season. Those words make things very difficult. Honestly, if the franchise said they didn’t want me or it was time to rebuild and wanted a younger team, that would have made things very easy for me. At times, I say, ‘How am I not going to play a little more?’ There are other times I don’t even want to see a basketball even close. I’ll wait a month and see how I feel.”

--DeAndre Jordan, in a big blow to the Clippers, is leaving L.A. for the Dallas Mavericks. Jordan will receive a max four-year, $80 million contract that includes a player option after the third season to allow the center to return to free agency in July 2018. I forgot Jordan played his college ball at Texas A&M. In his last 15 games last season with Blake Griffin out of the lineup, Jordan averaged 14.9 PPG and 18.5 RPG. No one has posted those averages over an entire season since Elvin Hayes in 1973-74. But Jordan shot a godawful 39.7 percent from the free throw line last season and is 41.7 for his career.

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban triumphantly said, “We think (Jordan) is going to be our best player for years to come. A franchise player for the rest of his career.”

By the way, Chris Paul strikes again. Jordan and Paul used to be tight, but Paul “verbally belittled Jordan during one game last season and frantically yelled at him during another when Jordan failed to get off a shot in the final second.” [Los Angeles Times]

So Paul has been on vacation in the Bahamas, while the Mavs’ Dirk Nowitzki came off his vacation to personally recruit Jordan, along with teammate Chandler Parsons.

You read between the lines and this is all on Paul. Coach Doc Rivers attempted to patch things up between the two but couldn’t. 

Dallas also received a verbal commitment from shooting guard Wesley Matthews, four years, $52m.

--The Knicks were going after DeAndre Jordan and Aldridge but had to settle for Portland’s 7-foot defensive center Robin Lopez.

And then the Knicks signed 6-foot-8 forward Derrick Williams, who back in 2011 was the second-overall pick and has been a bust.

Earlier, the Knicks signed shooting guard Arron Afflalo. Then they finished up Saturday through a sign and trade, receiving power-forward/center Kyle O’Quinn, with the Knicks sending a second-round pick to the Orlando Magic. O’Quinn is a solid backup, but hardly a starter, though he might be one once the season starts for this group.

Add it all up and it’s far from the big splash Phil Jackson was hoping for, and the Knicks still have some roster spots to fill. I mean right now the starting lineup is probably Jose Calderon, Afflalo, Carmelo Anthony, Kristaps Porzingis and Lopez. Assuming Porzingis needs at least a full season to just get in NBA shape, this is going to be a painful team, again, to watch.

Just as importantly, none of the big free agents, like Aldridge and Jordan, wanted to consider the Knicks and that’s troublesome.

--The Lakers, who failed to get Aldridge, too, traded for former All-Star center Roy Hibbert in exchange for a future second-round draft pick, giving L.A. at least a post player with experience.

But when it comes to Aldridge, as the Los Angeles Times’ Mike Bresnahan put it, the team clearly just doesn’t get it.

“(Losing out) on Aldridge was particularly devastating. He disliked their two-hour presentation almost from the start, wondering when the talk of branding opportunities in Los Angeles would transition into serious basketball talk.”

The Lakers also missed out on DeAndre Jordan and Greg Monroe, who picked Milwaukee over L.A.! My, how the mighty Knicks and Lakers have fallen.

[But the Lakers did agree to a contract Sunday with Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams, a guard who averaged a career-best 15.5 points for Toronto this past season. Williams can be exciting.]

--Dwyane Wade agreed to stay in Miami for one year, $20 million. Guard Goran Dragic committed to a five-year deal Wednesday. With the expected return to health of Chris Bosh, who missed half the season because of a blood clot on his lung, Miami should be a legitimate factor again.

--Sacramento signed a backcourt...getting Rajon Rondo for one year, $10 million, as he tries to resurrect his career after a tumultuous season in Dallas, and shooting guard Marco Belinelli (3 years, $19 million), ex- of the Spurs.

--Earlier, the Atlanta Hawks agreed to a three-year deal worth $59 million to retain Paul Millsap. Millsap had received a four-year, $80 million offer from Orlando. Atlanta lost forward DeMarre Carroll to Toronto, but the Hawks acquired Tiago Splitter from the Spurs.

--Veteran center Tyson Chandler signed a four-year, $52 million contract to play in Phoenix, which will pair him with guards Brandon Knight and Eric Bledsoe as the Suns’ new cornerstones. Knight was re-signed to a five-year, $70 million deal.

--And as was always going to be the case, Wednesday, after my last chat was posted, Kevin Love re-signed with Cleveland for five years, $110 million. Talks with LeBron James have been “quiet,” as one story put it. It’s all about working out a deal that fits the upcoming huge bump in the salary cap.

But there is late word as I go to post the Cavs may be interested in dealing for the Nets’ Joe Johnson, which would be a terrific move for both teams. Johnson would be another scoring option down the stretch of games, while the Nets would get rid of his mammoth contract and save themselves $millions in luxury tax. So we’ll see how this plays out. Johnson could also go elsewhere.

--One minor deal of note for Demon Deacon fans...free agent forward Al-Farouq Aminu reached agreement with Portland for four years, $30 million. This is a guy who averaged just 5.6 points per game last year, though he’s still just 24 and a raw talent. Now with Aldridge gone, he’ll get his share of playing time and I’m guessing he steps up.

That said, J. Mac and I marveled that 18 minutes, 5.6 pints, 4.6 boards, is worth $30 million these days.

MLB

--Funny game, that baseball. The Mets scored one run in their last 29 innings in a 3-game series against the Cubs last week, flew out to L.A. to face Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers Friday night and managed to eke out a 2-1 win with a sac fly in the ninth. Kershaw, who entered the game 5-0, 1.62 ERA in seven career starts against the Metropolitans allowed just one run in seven for a no-decision. For the Mets, rookie Noah Syndergaard held his own, giving up just one in six. [His fastball averaged 97.6 mph, the hardest any pitcher has thrown throughout a start this season, according to ESPN Stats & Info.]

So the Mets finished the first half of the season 41-40, after a 13-3 start. They had also scored 25 runs in their last 15 games, but were 5-10 because Mets pitchers allowed just five runs total in the five victories. It’s that kind of Mets team. Very painful to watch Very, very painful.

Then Saturday, the Mets started the second half with a 4-3 loss to the Dodgers, which was only the third time in their last 12 games the Mets managed to reach three runs. [If the Mets hadn’t had a ninth-inning rally to get to 3 runs, they were about to become the first team since the 1961 Phillies to score 2 runs or fewer in 14 of 16 games.]

Over their last 15 games*, the Mets do not have a home run from a player other than Curtis Granderson.

*Including Sunday, when out of nowhere the Metsies scored 8 runs!!! They rode Steven Matz’s six scoreless innings in his second major league start (Matz now 2-0, 1.32, with 5 RBIs!) to an 8-0 win over L.A.

As for injured third baseman and one-time All-Star David Wright, he of the mammoth contract and spinal stenosis, Mets management is finally conceding, publicly, that he may not play this year and, frankly, given that a sizable portion of Wright’s contract appears to be covered by insurance, at this point the Mets really don’t care if the guy ever plays again. And I don’t care as a fan.

I just wish we had someone in the minors to give us hope at that position and there is no one these days. So now management has to make the off-season decision on whether to sign Daniel Murphy to a long-term deal in the hopes he can do the job at the hot corner...or trade for someone.

Overall, when looking at the Mets situation, Howard Megdal of USA TODAY Sports summed it up:

Fred Wilpon and his partners are still atop the corporate structure. They continue to siphon revenue from the Mets and SNY, the team’s sports network, to simply finance their enormous debt load taken on after the Bernard Madoff crash wiped out a ton of their money....

“It’s not about winning, not today, not tomorrow. It’s about making the best of what is on hand while ownership concentrates on financial survival....

“And (regarding the Mets starting staff) there’s zero indication the owners are going to take advantage of this vast collection of pitching talent before it all disappears.”

That’s what really pisses off us fans. We are in the midst of a window where the Mets can really make some noise as a franchise, and we’ll blow it. Freakin’ Wilpon and Co. will blow it.

Back to Clayton Kershaw, he is now winless in his last five, despite a 2.41 ERA over that stretch. But in Saturday’s 4-3 win over the Mets, Kevin Greinke extended his scoreless innings streak to 27 2/3 with seven scoreless, lowering his ERA to a microscopic 1.48 in the process, while moving his record to 7-2.

--Miguel Cabrera was placed on the 15-day DL Saturday with a strained calf, the first time in his career, which is remarkable, but now he could be out six weeks. From 2004 to ’14, he averaged 157 games per season. He’s leading the league in batting at .350, with 15 HR 54 RBI. The Tigers are officially doomed for 2015.

--The Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg is on the DL again, a sixth time in his career!, for a left oblique issue. He had started just twice after he missed four weeks with neck stiffness.

In the Saturday contest where Strasburg got hurt again, he threw 3 2/3 of scoreless ball before departing as Washington defeated the Giants 9-3, roughing up Madison Bumgarner for 6 earned in 5 innings, dropping him to 8-5, 3.34 ERA.

Bryce Harper hit his 25th.

--Oh, what the heck. Gotta mention that A-Rod, through game #81, had 15 HR 46 RBI, .284 at the midway point in the season, so extrapolate those numbers. On Sunday, in an 8-1 loss to the Rays, he hit home run no. 16. Drat!

--Have to go back to last Wednesday night and note Miami’s Jose Fernandez and his first appearance since Tommy John surgery. He pitched six effective innings, allowing 3 earned, as the Marlins beat the Giants 5-4. But he’ll remember it more for his home run!

The Giants’ Matt Cain was also making his first start after elbow surgery but wasn’t as good, 5 innings, 5 earned, for the loss.

--Dan Martin / New York Post

“At this rate, Alex Rodriguez will have a plaque in Monument Park by the end of the weekend.

“On a day when the Yankees donated $150,000 to a charity so Rodriguez could get the home-run ball from the 3,000th hit of his career, the two sides also ended their simmering feud over the $6 million bonus he potentially was due for tying Willie Mays on the all-time home run list on May 1 by agreeing to donate the money to charity....

“According to the statement (issued jointly by MLB and the Players Association), $3.5 million of the initial $6 million figure will be donated to an assortment of charities. Specifically, $1 million will go to charities including Special Warriors Foundation and Boys & Girls Club of Tampa.

“The remaining $2.5 million will be donated to the MLB Urban Youth Foundation, with commissioner Rob Manfred consulting Rodriguez about which initiatives the money will support.”

The fellow who caught the ball, Zack Hample, presented it to A-Rod at a press conference.

Rodriguez said: “I’m especially happy to have the ball back to share with my girls. That’s going to be pretty awesome.”

Oh brother.

Mike Lupica / New York Daily News

“In the end, Hal Steinbrenner is better than this whole business with Alex Rodriguez and his records and his milestones, tainted by as famous a user of sports drugs as Barry Bonds or Lance Armstrong ever was.

“After what Rodriguez put the Yankees through a couple of years ago, calling the president of the team the ‘Devil’ and accusing a team doctor of malpractice and threatening to sue everybody and everything except the monuments in Monument Park to save his sorry reputation. Hal Steinbrenner and Randy Levine, the guy Rodriguez called the Devil, could have fought him on those bonuses the way baseball fought Rodriguez on the lies he told about Biogenesis.

“But at least some good comes out of this. It has hardly anything to do with Rodriguez and everything to do with the Yankees, the ones who broker this deal so that the bonus money goes to charity, and the baseball Rodriguez hit over the fence to get to 3,000 hits goes back to Rodriguez and his daughters.

“The Yankees were not just better than Rodriguez, whose ability to still hit has been the fuel for one of the great and relentless public relations campaigns in history. Steinbrenner and Levine were bigger, and not in an artificial and inflated and even dishonest way....

“This had nothing to do with the old and out-of-date concept that the Yankees are still the Evil Empire of baseball. This was about the Yankees taking the high road here. Even the point-missers who thought Rodriguez had some sort of sacred right to those ‘milestone’ bonuses must be able to figure that out....

This is about the Yankees showing class toward a guy who showed them none when he was caught as captain of the Biogenesis All-Stars.

“Rodriguez, whatever he is selling these days to suckers and otherwise, is only concerned with getting people to like him again, and somehow rebuilding whatever is left of his brand. It was different with Hal Steinbrenner, who honored the Yankees’ brand here.”

I could not agree more with Lupica. I can’t help but note Rodriguez’ solid season to date, against seemingly all odds, but he hasn’t changed. You all know that. He’ll always be a D-bag.

--In what was billed as an “old school vs. new school” fight, Angels General Manager Jerry Dipoto quit after getting into it with Manager Mike Scioscia and his staff.

FoxSports.com reported that Dipoto was frustrated over the coaching staff’s failure to relay scouting information to the players and after the argument, Dipoto cleaned out his office.

Yes, these days it’s thought the manager is just a tool of upper management, with the manager supposed to carry out the other’s vision, which centers around data.

But Scioscia won this round.

--You know what’s a boring story? The Cardinals hacking into the Astros’ computer databases. But to do my job I have to note that CNN is reporting the FBI is recommending charges be brought against at least one Cardinals employee. Earlier in the week, St. Louis fired their scouting director, Chris Correa, who they said had been on leave, but they did not say if the dismissal came as a result of the investigation. But the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported a source with knowledge of the FBI’s inquiry said Correa admitted hacking into the Astros database.

--Caught this bit on the Mets broadcast Sunday in Los Angeles. In 10 career starts at Dodger Stadium against the Mets, Sandy Koufax was 10-0, 0.63 ERA.

Wimbledon

Serena Williams is struggling to keep her Grand Slam dreams alive, after what shouldn’t have been a tense three-setter in the third round against Heather Watson, with Serena down 3-0 in the third before rallying back. Serena has admitted she is playing tight.

Saturday, defending Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova was ousted by No. 30 Jelena Jankovic in the third round. Jankovic was a U.S. Open finalist in 2008.

No. 5 Caroline Wozniacki also advanced.

On the men’s side, two-time champion Rafael Nadal made another early exit, losing in the second round to a 102nd ranked qualifier, Dustin Brown, the German of Jamaican heritage with the dreadlocks down to his ankles. Like c’mon. No issue with dreadlocks, but have you seen these? I mean assuming there aren’t colonies of ants in them, that means you have to spend about six hours a day keeping them clean and bug free.

Anyway, Brown, a 30-year-old journeyman, had never beaten a seeded player at a Grand Slam.

For Nadal, it was the fourth year in a row he has gone out in the early rounds at Wimbledon to a player ranked 100th or lower. Talk about pathetic.

Saturday, Roger Federer and Andy Murray won. Dustin Brown followed up his Nadal upset by losing to Viktor Troicki, a No. 22 seed from Serbia.

Monday is a huge day at Wimbledon for both the men and women.

Golf Balls

--A lot of us golf fans are just waiting for the British Open at St. Andrews in two weeks (excuse me, The Open Championship). Rory McIlroy will win, though, so you might as well place a few quid on the lad today.

As for this week’s event at The Greenbrier, Korean/New Zealander Danny Lee won his first PGA Tour event in a four-man playoff with Hearn, Kisner and Streb. It was a totally unexciting tournament. I hardly watched any of it, which is very rare for me.

Actually, some of this had to do with the Mets game on Sunday being on at the same time and until they are mathematically eliminated, the Mets still take precedence over most other stuff, including my love life. 

I do have to add that what little I saw on CBS this week was reinforcement of how spoiled we’ve become with both CBS’ and NBC’s coverage. It really is seamless...flows perfectly...great rapport between Jim Nantz and Nick Falco (or Dan Hicks and Johnny Miller), and the on-course and tower reporters blend in perfectly.

But I say this to also cut Fox some slack. Golf telecasts aren’t easy. It takes time and lots of practice to get it right. Fox will. At least we pray by like 2017!

One other item...Tiger Woods made the cut and finished 7-under. Most importantly for him, though, was on Sunday he played his first bogey-free round in 56! I hope he’s at least in the conversation at St. Andrews on Saturday. [I’m not stretching it for Sunday.]

--Remember Robert Allenby’s bizarre kidnapping and robbery saga after he missed the cut at the Sony Open early this year?

A Hawaii man pleaded guilty last week to using Allenby’s credit cards. He had been arrested last February on charges of identity theft and other offenses. Now he has agreed to a five-year prison term as part of a plea deal.

It’s still unclear, though, what happened to Allenby, who claimed he woke up in a park with a bloodied face after leaving a restaurant. In the days after, various bystanders gave different accounts, which, in some instances, differed with his account. And that’s where it stands. Allenby said he wouldn’t comment further until the guy is sentenced.

--I really hope the story that broke in the National Enquirer this week, that Tiger Woods had a steamy relationship with Jason Duffner’s ex, Amanda, isn’t true. Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg said in an e-mail to Fox News on Wednesday, “Absolutely, 100 percent false. Complete lie and fabrication.”

The National Enquirer said the 27-year-old Amanda Boyd’s alleged affair with Woods is what led to the May breakup of Woods and his girlfriend of two years, Lindsey Vonn.

The Enquirer claims a source said, “Even though Tiger dated Lindsey for years, he had a ‘thing’ for Amanda.”

Well his ‘thing’ for Amanda, if true, was obviously about her body, not her personality, because clearly she was a real.....well, I better not go there. Boyd was married to Dufner until April, when the two divorced.

--Back in the February issue of Fortune, Donald Trump said some of the following about the sport of golf.

“I think I’m in a minority, but I feel differently about golf. I feel golf should be an aspirational game, something people aspire to. People should come to golf, golf shouldn’t come to them....

“It may be elitist, and perhaps that’s what golf needs. Let golf be elitist. When I say ‘aspire,’ that’s a positive word. Let people work hard and aspire to someday be able to play golf.   To afford to play it. They’re trying to teach golf to people who will never be able to really play it. They’re trying too hard. Because of the expense of playing, and the land needed, golf is never going to be basketball, where all you need is a court.

All these great athletes, you know what they do when they retire? They do nothing but play golf. Basketball players, hockey players, football players, all they want to do is golf.” [Kevin Manahan / NJ.com]

Oh brother. I’m sorry I missed this last February.

Well, after Trump’s incredibly stupid comments about Mexican immigrants, at first the LPGA, PGA Tour, PGA of America and USGA issue a tepid response, a joint statement, saying they have a “strong commitment to an inclusive and welcoming environment in the game of golf.”

As the above noted Kevin Manahan points out, Trump’s Bedminster, N.J., golf course is scheduled to host the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open and the 2022 PGA Championship. The USGA, which awarded the Women’s Open to Trump, is headquartered in nearby Far Hills, N.J.

But I take issue with Manahan. The above quote from the joint statement is all he included in his article, calling them the “Spineless Four” for not taking further action. Like what? Pull the PGA Tour event at Doral? Pull the Women’s Open? 

Manahan hates golf, and Trump’s comments in Fortune don’t help golf lovers’ cause.

But the actual statement read:

“In response to Mr. Trump’s comments about the golf industry ‘knowing he is right’ in regards to his recent statements about Mexican immigrants, we feel compelled to clarify that those remarks do not reflect the views of our organizations. While the LPGA, PGA of America, PGA Tour and USGA do not usually comment on presidential politics, Mr. Trump’s comments are inconsistent with our strong commitment to an inclusive and welcoming environment in the game of golf.”

Again, let’s wait to see what happens in the coming weeks. I think the “Spineless Four” made an initial decent statement and in every respect, the USGA and the various PGA charities have done everything to be inclusive, through programs like First Tee, and, frankly, Tiger’s foundation, which has done some terrific work.

If the Four don’t do more and Trump continues to be an idiot, well then I’ll probably side with the likes of Kevin Manahan.

Actually, the Four may have some of their work done for them if Cadillac, title-sponsor of the WGC event at Trump National Doral, decides to do something, which as of now it is contemplating. That would leave the PGA Tour in a huge bind. Developing....

Animals Gone Wild!!!

Goodness gracious, boys and girls. I don’t know where to start.

Megan Levy / Sydney Morning Herald

“A bodybuilder who was mauled by a shark off the northern NSW [Ed. New South Wales] coast has survived emergency surgery on his legs overnight but remains in serious condition in a Gold Coast hospital, police say.

“Matt Lee, 32, has been placed in an induced coma after he was bitten on both legs by a suspected great white shark and suffered severe blood loss off Lighthouse Beach in Ballina on Thursday morning.

“The Department of Primary Industries has said it had authorized a permit for the great white to be destroyed, after it was clear the shark had remained in the area hours after the attack and still posed a safety risk.”

But scores of surfers were undeterred and back in the water right after the attack.

The Ballina Shire Council mayor David Wright (clearly not the Mets player of the same name...or he’s two-timing us) said, “We made the decision yesterday to close all the beaches, but there were still about 70 surfers out, they were everywhere.”

There was a big junior surfing competition 10km up the coast the following day, with 270 participants.

Back to Lee, one witness said, “One leg was worse than the other. The legs were still on but the wetsuit was probably holding him together...it was terrible.”

[Director of Shark Attacks for Bar Chat, Bob S., Jersey boy, offered, “Looks like sharks are sending a reminder that they are not happy with the compensation scheme worked out with the Discovery Channel. #SharkWeek!]

--From J. Mac and Fox News:

“A man has died after an alligator attacked him during a late-night swim at a Southeast Texas marina.

“Police in Orange, near the state line with Louisiana, say 28-year-old Tommie W. was swimming in a bayou early Friday morning when the attack occurred.”

I’m protecting this fella’s last name because talk about an idiot. Oh yeah, I’ll go swim in a bayou. What could go wrong?!

The “Justice of the Peace” told the local television station that there is a sign warning “people not to swim in the area and that the man was bitten soon after he jumped in.”

--Adrian Beattie / WAtoday (Australia)

“Doctors say a woman who was attacked by a crocodile in the Kimberley is in ‘stable’ condition in Broome Hospital. 

“The woman who is in her fifties, was swimming in a rock pool on the Prince Regent River....

“She was bitten on the face but her injuries were not life threatening.”

Good gawd...bitten on the face?!

--From Brad K. and the Orange County Register:

“A dolphin leaped onto a boat in Southern California, crashing into a woman and breaking both her ankles.

“The Orange County Register reports that Chrissie F. (no need to give her last name) was boating with her husband and two children when a pod of dolphins swam alongside them. One of the animals jumped on the vessel, knocking (Chrissie) over and landing on her legs.

“Her husband, Dirk [Ed. all ‘Dirks’ are strapping dudes], pulled her out and called authorities as he headed toward an Orange County harbor. While he steered, he splashed water on the 350-pound dolphin to keep it alive as it thrashed around and bled from some cuts.

“Dirk got help pulling the dolphin onto a dock with a rope and then releasing it.

“It swam away, but his wife is still recovering from her injuries.”

The dolphin no doubt is bellying up to the underwater tavern.  “Hey, guys, you won’t believe what just happened to me."  “Geezuz, Flipper, you look like hell!”

--And there was this awful story out of Lake City, FL. “A five-year-old Florida girl died after a sturgeon leaped into her boat along the Suwannee River and struck her.

“Wildlife officials said Jaylon R. died after being struck Thursday night. Her mother and 9-year-old brother were also injured and taken to a Gainesville hospital. Their condition was not known.

“Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said this is the first fatality recorded from a sturgeon strike on the Suwanee River. Four people have been injured by jumping sturgeon this year, including two boaters who were taken to the hospital Friday.”

Yikes!

“The fish are famous for leaping more than 7 feet above the water...They can grow up to 8 feet long and up to 200 pounds.”

--The aforementioned Brad K., who hails from beautiful rural western Jersey, has had his tussles with local bears, but this is an incredible story from his town and the Long Valley Patch.

“A pack of family dogs intervened when a bear began approaching a three-year-old in her own backyard Wednesday morning, with one canine sustaining injuries to the face and leg before scaring off the wild animal.

“Emily W. (another instance of where I’ve decided to protect most female victims or subjects), of Long Valley, was sitting outside just after 9 a.m. Wednesday watching her three-year-old daughter play in the family’s fenced-in backyard.

“Despite the fencing, a well-known neighborhood bear estimated at 400 pounds by the homeowner, has climbed the wall and into the family’s property on numerous occasions, as often as once a week.

“ ‘Usually the dogs will chase him off and he’ll climb over the fence and wait (for the dogs) to come inside,’ (Emily) told Patch. ‘He’s very smart.’

“But Wednesday was different.

“(Emily’s) daughter was outside with one of the family dogs, a rescue pup named Chief, when the mom heard her child scream.

“ ‘I looked up and the bear was about 15 feet from her and walking right toward her,’ she said. ‘The bear was between us. Chief heard her scream and immediately grabbed the bear’s back leg, at which point the bear turned and bit Chief’s face and leg.

It was then the other three dogs, all Pit bulls and also rescues, ran to assist Chief while (Emily) grabbed her daughter. The bear was chased off, back over the fence and ultimately up a tree in the woods.

“By the time police arrived the bear had wandered of.”

Well, this seems like a pretty easy decision. Kill the bear. But the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife told Emily “We’re not allowed to kill the bear – not that we want to – and if he injures a dog they give the bear the benefit of the doubt and say it’s in self-defense,” Emily said.

In order for the bear to be taken away and euthanized, it must commit a “category one” offense, where it tries to enter a home or shows aggression like charging or attacking. No word on what happens if a bear is caught acting as a pizza delivery man.

So what we have in this full tale is another case of ‘Dog’ solidifying his No. 1 ranking on the All-Species List. For going after a child, I’m placing ‘Black Bear’ on “10-day suspension with further review.”

Black Bear is allowed to go after all male adults, 18 and older, who are camping, hiking or taking pictures out the car window at Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks. ‘Grizzly and Kodiak Bears,’ lumped together at No. 6 on the ASL, do not go after children.

By the way, ‘Beaver,’ off double-probation and currently No. 9, continues to exhibit improved character, which shows the probation sentence works.

Wolverine,’ out of the Top Ten at No. 13, is not happy and keeps sending representatives to headquarters here which is quite irritating and rather dangerous, especially for my neighbors.

--Meanwhile, at Yellowstone National Park, there were two more bison attacks on people last week, bringing the total for the season to four, which prompted the park to issue a reminder to visitors that they are to stay at least 25 yards away from wildlife, or about the distance of eight Eddie George carries back in his day.

Yellowstone normally just has one or two an entire year. The park said in a statement that while bison and elk appear tame they should never be approached.

Bison can sprint three times faster than humans can run and are unpredictable and dangerous,” the statement read in part.

As reported by CNN: “In the most recent incident Wednesday, a 68-year-old woman from Georgia was hiking on the Storm Point trail and encountered a bison nearby. The woman continued on the trail and as she passed the bison, it charged and gored her.”

Luckily a witness ran up the trail to get help and she was choppered to a hospital with serious injuries.

--A final animal vs. man bit...Michael Winter / USA TODAY

“In its second warning this week, the federal government reported Thursday that climate change is destroying Arctic sea ice at a rapid rate and threatening polar bears with extinction unless greenhouse gases are dramatically reduced.

“ ‘The single most important action for the recovery of polar bears is global reduction of atmospheric greenhouse gases,’ the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said in releasing the draft of a five-year plan to reduce carbon dioxin emissions.’”

With all due respect to the polar bears, they need to learn how to adapt to urban areas. New York City, for one, has lots of garbage they can dive into, and there are more than a handful of humans in Gotham who deserve to be a tasty repast for our No. 16 ASL friends from the Arctic.

Stonie Upsets Chestnut!

So I watched the Nathan’s Famous hot dog eating contest in Coney Island and I have to admit, like all of America and the entire western world, I was shocked that Matt Stonie, “The Megatoad,” defeated eight-time champion Joey “Jaws” Chestnut in one of the great sporting contests of any kind in the history of man.

Stonie, who in finishing second last year lost to Chestnut by just five dogs and buns, proved he belonged but I assumed Chestnut would perform better down the stretch.

In the end Stonie swallowed 62 to Chestnut’s 60, though with about 4:00 to go in the 10-minute event, I saw a big chunk of wiener exit Stonie’s mouth and he should have been docked a full dog as a result. I’m surprised no one has brought this up.

Chestnut, on the other hand, looked very close to a “reversal of fortune” a number of  times.

Chestnut did say he was slowed by a few bad wieners. “Some of the hot dogs were cold and leathery.” Not the kind of statement Nathan’s wants to hear, I imagine.

Days before the competition, the New York Post revealed Chestnut and his fiancée Neslie Ricasa, who he proposed to on stage at last year’s event, “had split like an oven-roasted weenie,” as the Post observed.

Saturday, Chestnut admitted the breakup may have affected his gobble game. But he vowed to come back next year.

“I haven’t been this hungry to come back in a long time.”

Stuff

--So right after The Belmont, I gambled American Pharoah would run at the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park, New Jersey, Aug. 2, and on Thursday the decision was made. Yes. Your editor is psyched. Having booked a cheap hotel room less than a mile walk from the track the same hour, the hotel folks certainly not understanding what might transpire on such short notice, I have a truly enticing package for sale as we get closer, but I’m there. [I mean my reserved seats are $14 a piece!]

Much more on this later, but Pharoah owner Ahmed Zayat is trying to line up Bruce Springsteen for that day, because the tradition at the Haskell is to play the “Born to Run” anthem as the horses enter the track before the race. I mean if it fits his schedule, why wouldn’t Bruce do it?

--Chile beat Argentina 4-1 on penalties to win Copa America. After a 0-0 draw in the final Chile won its first major tournament in the shootout.

The result extended Argentina’s 22-year title drought, and as the AP put it, “Lionel Messi will continue to hear criticism for his lackluster play with the national team when it needs him most.”

Chile’s best result in the World Cup was a third-place finish in 1962, and it lost to Uruguay in the Copa America final 28 years ago.

--I’m the ‘wait 24 hours’ guy so I’m leery of commenting on Sunday night about the story that broke a few hours ago that New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul severely injured his hand in a fireworks accident in Miami Saturday.

But tonight, the New York Post is reporting Paul burned the flesh off his palm and fingertips but his fingers are intact. There were rumors Sunday afternoon he lost some fingers.

The timing couldn’t be worse for Paul as he had yet to sign a one-year franchise tag tender that would pay him $14.8 million for the 2015 season. Paul stayed away in the offseason because he wants a multi-year extension guaranteeing him $30 million.

Well if you’re the Giants, this act of stupidity makes you think twice and they can revoke the tender, though that is unlikely.

Training camp starts July 30 and Paul will need time to heal so we await further details on his true condition.

Regardless, we have us an “Idiot of the Year” candidate.

--Ditto the man in Calais, Maine, who on the Fourth of July “tried to launch a firework off the top of his head, fatally injuring himself,” as reported by the AP.  Really. This happened. The drunk 22-year-old “placed a fireworks mortar tube on his head and set it off,” according to a spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety. He was killed instantly.

--We note the passing of NFL Hall of Fame tight end Charlie Sanders, 68. The cause was cancer.

Sanders played for the Detroit Lions from 1968 to 1977 and was everyone’s favorite. Before there was Kellen Winslow and Tony Gonzalez, Sanders helped pioneer the position as one with more offense, leading the Lions (or tied for the lead) in receptions six times, catching 336 in his career with 31 touchdowns. He was selected for the Pro Bowl seven times, and from 1969-71 was named a first-team All-Pro by The Associated Press.

Sanders was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007.

He was born in Richlands, N.C., but played his high school football (and basketball) in Greensboro, N.C. At the University of Minnesota he played defense until his senior year, when he was switched to tight end and led the team in receptions. The Lions drafted him in the third round and he became an immediate star.

--Talk about an a-hole. No. 1 on the list these days is New York Jets defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson, who was just suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.

Richardson issued a rote apology that as Johnny Mac said was of course from “Apologies ‘R Us,” Mr. Richardson incapable of writing anything of the kind himself.

But here’s why he’s an a-hole, aside from being selfish for hurting the team. This is a guy who, while he is an outstanding DT and one of the three or four keys to the team’s hoped for success, is always blasting the fans for their lack of support.

Well the heck with you, Sheldon. While I hope you play great when you come back, you’re a jerk.

--Sean “Diddy” Combs got off. L.A. County prosecutors opted not to charge the overrated rapper/mogul with felony assault and battery on a UCLA intern and an assistant football coach, former Jets and current Bruins strength coach Sal Alosi, during a dispute over the singer’s pampered son, a scrubbeenie d-back for UCLA.

I mean read this account from the Los Angeles Times’ Richard Winton and Nathan Fenno:

“The encounter reportedly became heated at some point [Ed. after Combs and the kid walked into Alosi’s office, the latter being on the phone.] In one version of it, Alosi reportedly tried to fend off an angry Combs, who left his shirt torn.

“Sources say the dispute spilled out of Alosi’s office and drew the attention of four or five unpaid interns who work in and around the weight room.

“Combs allegedly grabbed a kettlebell....off a shelf and swung it. A security camera in the weight room captured that part of the incident.”

I mean, c’mon.

But of course Diddy was represented by Mark Geragos, and no doubt there was cash under the table to make this go away.

I just hope the kid doesn’t step onto the field again for the school, which is also obviously petrified of Diddy’s clout.

Top 3 songs for the week 7/6/85: #1 “Sussudio” (Phil Collins) #2 “A View To A Kill” (Duran Duran) #3 “Raspberry Beret” (Prince & the Revolution)...and...#4 “Heaven” (Bryan Adams) #5 “The Search Is Over” (Survivor) #6 “Would I Lie To You?” (Eurythmics) #7 “You Give Good Love” (Whitney Houston) #8 “Everytime You Go Away” (Paul Young) #9 “Voices Carry” (‘til Tuesday) #10 “Angel” (Madonna...just totally uninterested in this week and year...I’m outta here...going back to the 60s...)

Detroit Tigers Quiz Answers: 1) Hank Greenberg, 63 (1934) and Charlie Gehringer, 60 (1936), only Tigers with 60 doubles in a season. 2) Curtis Granderson, 23 (2007) only Tiger in modern era with 20 triples. 3) Only two with 50 homers: Hank Greenberg, 58 (1938) and Cecil Fielder, 51 (1990). 4) Aside from Greenberg, the only Tiger with 140 RBI in a season is Rocky Colavito, who hit that number in 1961. [Greenberg of course had a peak season of 184 in 1937.]

Next Bar Chat, Thursday...belated tribute, but more than I’ve written before about Audie Murphy.



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Bar Chat

07/06/2015

Who's Goin' Where?

[Posted Sunday p.m. I feel sorry for NBC and NASCAR fans with the rain at Daytona. I was looking forward to it.]

Detroit Tigers Quiz: 1) In the modern, post-1920 era, who are the only two Tigers to get 60 doubles in a season? 2) Post-1920, who is the only Tiger with 20 triples in a season? 3) Who are the only two to hit 50 home runs in a season? 4) Aside from Hank Greenberg, who did it four times, who is the only other Tiger to have 140 RBIs in a season? Answers below.

U-S-A! U-S-A!

Actually, I watched zero of the World Cup until tonight; sorry, women’s soccer fans. I did follow the tournament closely, though. Congratulations to the American girls for their stunning 5-2 win as they rode Carli Lloyd’s 3 early goals to take an insurmountable 4-0 lead over Japan.

NBA Free Agency

While players can’t officially sign until July 9, here are the big ones we know of through Sunday.

--The main target of free agency, Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge, signed a four-year, $80 million max deal to play with San Antonio in a huge coup for the Spurs.

So the Spurs head into the summer having re-signed Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green and Tim Duncan, who announced he’s coming back one more year (his 19th), and it’s very possible Manu Ginobili* will re-sign. Others, like Tony Parker, are already under contract, though they traded Tiago Splitter to free up cap space, and as you’ll see below, Marco Belinelli signed elsewhere.

But still, the Spurs will be loaded and the future is now all centered around a heckuva duo in Aldridge and Leonard.

One thing about LaMarcus, though. He’s not always easy to handle, a complex character who needs to be top dog. But Duncan and Gregg Popovich will set him on the right path.

*Ginobili made this terrific statement from his native Argentina over the weekend. “Pop told us he wanted Tim and me back next season. Those words make things very difficult. Honestly, if the franchise said they didn’t want me or it was time to rebuild and wanted a younger team, that would have made things very easy for me. At times, I say, ‘How am I not going to play a little more?’ There are other times I don’t even want to see a basketball even close. I’ll wait a month and see how I feel.”

--DeAndre Jordan, in a big blow to the Clippers, is leaving L.A. for the Dallas Mavericks. Jordan will receive a max four-year, $80 million contract that includes a player option after the third season to allow the center to return to free agency in July 2018. I forgot Jordan played his college ball at Texas A&M. In his last 15 games last season with Blake Griffin out of the lineup, Jordan averaged 14.9 PPG and 18.5 RPG. No one has posted those averages over an entire season since Elvin Hayes in 1973-74. But Jordan shot a godawful 39.7 percent from the free throw line last season and is 41.7 for his career.

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban triumphantly said, “We think (Jordan) is going to be our best player for years to come. A franchise player for the rest of his career.”

By the way, Chris Paul strikes again. Jordan and Paul used to be tight, but Paul “verbally belittled Jordan during one game last season and frantically yelled at him during another when Jordan failed to get off a shot in the final second.” [Los Angeles Times]

So Paul has been on vacation in the Bahamas, while the Mavs’ Dirk Nowitzki came off his vacation to personally recruit Jordan, along with teammate Chandler Parsons.

You read between the lines and this is all on Paul. Coach Doc Rivers attempted to patch things up between the two but couldn’t. 

Dallas also received a verbal commitment from shooting guard Wesley Matthews, four years, $52m.

--The Knicks were going after DeAndre Jordan and Aldridge but had to settle for Portland’s 7-foot defensive center Robin Lopez.

And then the Knicks signed 6-foot-8 forward Derrick Williams, who back in 2011 was the second-overall pick and has been a bust.

Earlier, the Knicks signed shooting guard Arron Afflalo. Then they finished up Saturday through a sign and trade, receiving power-forward/center Kyle O’Quinn, with the Knicks sending a second-round pick to the Orlando Magic. O’Quinn is a solid backup, but hardly a starter, though he might be one once the season starts for this group.

Add it all up and it’s far from the big splash Phil Jackson was hoping for, and the Knicks still have some roster spots to fill. I mean right now the starting lineup is probably Jose Calderon, Afflalo, Carmelo Anthony, Kristaps Porzingis and Lopez. Assuming Porzingis needs at least a full season to just get in NBA shape, this is going to be a painful team, again, to watch.

Just as importantly, none of the big free agents, like Aldridge and Jordan, wanted to consider the Knicks and that’s troublesome.

--The Lakers, who failed to get Aldridge, too, traded for former All-Star center Roy Hibbert in exchange for a future second-round draft pick, giving L.A. at least a post player with experience.

But when it comes to Aldridge, as the Los Angeles Times’ Mike Bresnahan put it, the team clearly just doesn’t get it.

“(Losing out) on Aldridge was particularly devastating. He disliked their two-hour presentation almost from the start, wondering when the talk of branding opportunities in Los Angeles would transition into serious basketball talk.”

The Lakers also missed out on DeAndre Jordan and Greg Monroe, who picked Milwaukee over L.A.! My, how the mighty Knicks and Lakers have fallen.

[But the Lakers did agree to a contract Sunday with Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams, a guard who averaged a career-best 15.5 points for Toronto this past season. Williams can be exciting.]

--Dwyane Wade agreed to stay in Miami for one year, $20 million. Guard Goran Dragic committed to a five-year deal Wednesday. With the expected return to health of Chris Bosh, who missed half the season because of a blood clot on his lung, Miami should be a legitimate factor again.

--Sacramento signed a backcourt...getting Rajon Rondo for one year, $10 million, as he tries to resurrect his career after a tumultuous season in Dallas, and shooting guard Marco Belinelli (3 years, $19 million), ex- of the Spurs.

--Earlier, the Atlanta Hawks agreed to a three-year deal worth $59 million to retain Paul Millsap. Millsap had received a four-year, $80 million offer from Orlando. Atlanta lost forward DeMarre Carroll to Toronto, but the Hawks acquired Tiago Splitter from the Spurs.

--Veteran center Tyson Chandler signed a four-year, $52 million contract to play in Phoenix, which will pair him with guards Brandon Knight and Eric Bledsoe as the Suns’ new cornerstones. Knight was re-signed to a five-year, $70 million deal.

--And as was always going to be the case, Wednesday, after my last chat was posted, Kevin Love re-signed with Cleveland for five years, $110 million. Talks with LeBron James have been “quiet,” as one story put it. It’s all about working out a deal that fits the upcoming huge bump in the salary cap.

But there is late word as I go to post the Cavs may be interested in dealing for the Nets’ Joe Johnson, which would be a terrific move for both teams. Johnson would be another scoring option down the stretch of games, while the Nets would get rid of his mammoth contract and save themselves $millions in luxury tax. So we’ll see how this plays out. Johnson could also go elsewhere.

--One minor deal of note for Demon Deacon fans...free agent forward Al-Farouq Aminu reached agreement with Portland for four years, $30 million. This is a guy who averaged just 5.6 points per game last year, though he’s still just 24 and a raw talent. Now with Aldridge gone, he’ll get his share of playing time and I’m guessing he steps up.

That said, J. Mac and I marveled that 18 minutes, 5.6 pints, 4.6 boards, is worth $30 million these days.

MLB

--Funny game, that baseball. The Mets scored one run in their last 29 innings in a 3-game series against the Cubs last week, flew out to L.A. to face Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers Friday night and managed to eke out a 2-1 win with a sac fly in the ninth. Kershaw, who entered the game 5-0, 1.62 ERA in seven career starts against the Metropolitans allowed just one run in seven for a no-decision. For the Mets, rookie Noah Syndergaard held his own, giving up just one in six. [His fastball averaged 97.6 mph, the hardest any pitcher has thrown throughout a start this season, according to ESPN Stats & Info.]

So the Mets finished the first half of the season 41-40, after a 13-3 start. They had also scored 25 runs in their last 15 games, but were 5-10 because Mets pitchers allowed just five runs total in the five victories. It’s that kind of Mets team. Very painful to watch Very, very painful.

Then Saturday, the Mets started the second half with a 4-3 loss to the Dodgers, which was only the third time in their last 12 games the Mets managed to reach three runs. [If the Mets hadn’t had a ninth-inning rally to get to 3 runs, they were about to become the first team since the 1961 Phillies to score 2 runs or fewer in 14 of 16 games.]

Over their last 15 games*, the Mets do not have a home run from a player other than Curtis Granderson.

*Including Sunday, when out of nowhere the Metsies scored 8 runs!!! They rode Steven Matz’s six scoreless innings in his second major league start (Matz now 2-0, 1.32, with 5 RBIs!) to an 8-0 win over L.A.

As for injured third baseman and one-time All-Star David Wright, he of the mammoth contract and spinal stenosis, Mets management is finally conceding, publicly, that he may not play this year and, frankly, given that a sizable portion of Wright’s contract appears to be covered by insurance, at this point the Mets really don’t care if the guy ever plays again. And I don’t care as a fan.

I just wish we had someone in the minors to give us hope at that position and there is no one these days. So now management has to make the off-season decision on whether to sign Daniel Murphy to a long-term deal in the hopes he can do the job at the hot corner...or trade for someone.

Overall, when looking at the Mets situation, Howard Megdal of USA TODAY Sports summed it up:

Fred Wilpon and his partners are still atop the corporate structure. They continue to siphon revenue from the Mets and SNY, the team’s sports network, to simply finance their enormous debt load taken on after the Bernard Madoff crash wiped out a ton of their money....

“It’s not about winning, not today, not tomorrow. It’s about making the best of what is on hand while ownership concentrates on financial survival....

“And (regarding the Mets starting staff) there’s zero indication the owners are going to take advantage of this vast collection of pitching talent before it all disappears.”

That’s what really pisses off us fans. We are in the midst of a window where the Mets can really make some noise as a franchise, and we’ll blow it. Freakin’ Wilpon and Co. will blow it.

Back to Clayton Kershaw, he is now winless in his last five, despite a 2.41 ERA over that stretch. But in Saturday’s 4-3 win over the Mets, Kevin Greinke extended his scoreless innings streak to 27 2/3 with seven scoreless, lowering his ERA to a microscopic 1.48 in the process, while moving his record to 7-2.

--Miguel Cabrera was placed on the 15-day DL Saturday with a strained calf, the first time in his career, which is remarkable, but now he could be out six weeks. From 2004 to ’14, he averaged 157 games per season. He’s leading the league in batting at .350, with 15 HR 54 RBI. The Tigers are officially doomed for 2015.

--The Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg is on the DL again, a sixth time in his career!, for a left oblique issue. He had started just twice after he missed four weeks with neck stiffness.

In the Saturday contest where Strasburg got hurt again, he threw 3 2/3 of scoreless ball before departing as Washington defeated the Giants 9-3, roughing up Madison Bumgarner for 6 earned in 5 innings, dropping him to 8-5, 3.34 ERA.

Bryce Harper hit his 25th.

--Oh, what the heck. Gotta mention that A-Rod, through game #81, had 15 HR 46 RBI, .284 at the midway point in the season, so extrapolate those numbers. On Sunday, in an 8-1 loss to the Rays, he hit home run no. 16. Drat!

--Have to go back to last Wednesday night and note Miami’s Jose Fernandez and his first appearance since Tommy John surgery. He pitched six effective innings, allowing 3 earned, as the Marlins beat the Giants 5-4. But he’ll remember it more for his home run!

The Giants’ Matt Cain was also making his first start after elbow surgery but wasn’t as good, 5 innings, 5 earned, for the loss.

--Dan Martin / New York Post

“At this rate, Alex Rodriguez will have a plaque in Monument Park by the end of the weekend.

“On a day when the Yankees donated $150,000 to a charity so Rodriguez could get the home-run ball from the 3,000th hit of his career, the two sides also ended their simmering feud over the $6 million bonus he potentially was due for tying Willie Mays on the all-time home run list on May 1 by agreeing to donate the money to charity....

“According to the statement (issued jointly by MLB and the Players Association), $3.5 million of the initial $6 million figure will be donated to an assortment of charities. Specifically, $1 million will go to charities including Special Warriors Foundation and Boys & Girls Club of Tampa.

“The remaining $2.5 million will be donated to the MLB Urban Youth Foundation, with commissioner Rob Manfred consulting Rodriguez about which initiatives the money will support.”

The fellow who caught the ball, Zack Hample, presented it to A-Rod at a press conference.

Rodriguez said: “I’m especially happy to have the ball back to share with my girls. That’s going to be pretty awesome.”

Oh brother.

Mike Lupica / New York Daily News

“In the end, Hal Steinbrenner is better than this whole business with Alex Rodriguez and his records and his milestones, tainted by as famous a user of sports drugs as Barry Bonds or Lance Armstrong ever was.

“After what Rodriguez put the Yankees through a couple of years ago, calling the president of the team the ‘Devil’ and accusing a team doctor of malpractice and threatening to sue everybody and everything except the monuments in Monument Park to save his sorry reputation. Hal Steinbrenner and Randy Levine, the guy Rodriguez called the Devil, could have fought him on those bonuses the way baseball fought Rodriguez on the lies he told about Biogenesis.

“But at least some good comes out of this. It has hardly anything to do with Rodriguez and everything to do with the Yankees, the ones who broker this deal so that the bonus money goes to charity, and the baseball Rodriguez hit over the fence to get to 3,000 hits goes back to Rodriguez and his daughters.

“The Yankees were not just better than Rodriguez, whose ability to still hit has been the fuel for one of the great and relentless public relations campaigns in history. Steinbrenner and Levine were bigger, and not in an artificial and inflated and even dishonest way....

“This had nothing to do with the old and out-of-date concept that the Yankees are still the Evil Empire of baseball. This was about the Yankees taking the high road here. Even the point-missers who thought Rodriguez had some sort of sacred right to those ‘milestone’ bonuses must be able to figure that out....

This is about the Yankees showing class toward a guy who showed them none when he was caught as captain of the Biogenesis All-Stars.

“Rodriguez, whatever he is selling these days to suckers and otherwise, is only concerned with getting people to like him again, and somehow rebuilding whatever is left of his brand. It was different with Hal Steinbrenner, who honored the Yankees’ brand here.”

I could not agree more with Lupica. I can’t help but note Rodriguez’ solid season to date, against seemingly all odds, but he hasn’t changed. You all know that. He’ll always be a D-bag.

--In what was billed as an “old school vs. new school” fight, Angels General Manager Jerry Dipoto quit after getting into it with Manager Mike Scioscia and his staff.

FoxSports.com reported that Dipoto was frustrated over the coaching staff’s failure to relay scouting information to the players and after the argument, Dipoto cleaned out his office.

Yes, these days it’s thought the manager is just a tool of upper management, with the manager supposed to carry out the other’s vision, which centers around data.

But Scioscia won this round.

--You know what’s a boring story? The Cardinals hacking into the Astros’ computer databases. But to do my job I have to note that CNN is reporting the FBI is recommending charges be brought against at least one Cardinals employee. Earlier in the week, St. Louis fired their scouting director, Chris Correa, who they said had been on leave, but they did not say if the dismissal came as a result of the investigation. But the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported a source with knowledge of the FBI’s inquiry said Correa admitted hacking into the Astros database.

--Caught this bit on the Mets broadcast Sunday in Los Angeles. In 10 career starts at Dodger Stadium against the Mets, Sandy Koufax was 10-0, 0.63 ERA.

Wimbledon

Serena Williams is struggling to keep her Grand Slam dreams alive, after what shouldn’t have been a tense three-setter in the third round against Heather Watson, with Serena down 3-0 in the third before rallying back. Serena has admitted she is playing tight.

Saturday, defending Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova was ousted by No. 30 Jelena Jankovic in the third round. Jankovic was a U.S. Open finalist in 2008.

No. 5 Caroline Wozniacki also advanced.

On the men’s side, two-time champion Rafael Nadal made another early exit, losing in the second round to a 102nd ranked qualifier, Dustin Brown, the German of Jamaican heritage with the dreadlocks down to his ankles. Like c’mon. No issue with dreadlocks, but have you seen these? I mean assuming there aren’t colonies of ants in them, that means you have to spend about six hours a day keeping them clean and bug free.

Anyway, Brown, a 30-year-old journeyman, had never beaten a seeded player at a Grand Slam.

For Nadal, it was the fourth year in a row he has gone out in the early rounds at Wimbledon to a player ranked 100th or lower. Talk about pathetic.

Saturday, Roger Federer and Andy Murray won. Dustin Brown followed up his Nadal upset by losing to Viktor Troicki, a No. 22 seed from Serbia.

Monday is a huge day at Wimbledon for both the men and women.

Golf Balls

--A lot of us golf fans are just waiting for the British Open at St. Andrews in two weeks (excuse me, The Open Championship). Rory McIlroy will win, though, so you might as well place a few quid on the lad today.

As for this week’s event at The Greenbrier, Korean/New Zealander Danny Lee won his first PGA Tour event in a four-man playoff with Hearn, Kisner and Streb. It was a totally unexciting tournament. I hardly watched any of it, which is very rare for me.

Actually, some of this had to do with the Mets game on Sunday being on at the same time and until they are mathematically eliminated, the Mets still take precedence over most other stuff, including my love life. 

I do have to add that what little I saw on CBS this week was reinforcement of how spoiled we’ve become with both CBS’ and NBC’s coverage. It really is seamless...flows perfectly...great rapport between Jim Nantz and Nick Falco (or Dan Hicks and Johnny Miller), and the on-course and tower reporters blend in perfectly.

But I say this to also cut Fox some slack. Golf telecasts aren’t easy. It takes time and lots of practice to get it right. Fox will. At least we pray by like 2017!

One other item...Tiger Woods made the cut and finished 7-under. Most importantly for him, though, was on Sunday he played his first bogey-free round in 56! I hope he’s at least in the conversation at St. Andrews on Saturday. [I’m not stretching it for Sunday.]

--Remember Robert Allenby’s bizarre kidnapping and robbery saga after he missed the cut at the Sony Open early this year?

A Hawaii man pleaded guilty last week to using Allenby’s credit cards. He had been arrested last February on charges of identity theft and other offenses. Now he has agreed to a five-year prison term as part of a plea deal.

It’s still unclear, though, what happened to Allenby, who claimed he woke up in a park with a bloodied face after leaving a restaurant. In the days after, various bystanders gave different accounts, which, in some instances, differed with his account. And that’s where it stands. Allenby said he wouldn’t comment further until the guy is sentenced.

--I really hope the story that broke in the National Enquirer this week, that Tiger Woods had a steamy relationship with Jason Duffner’s ex, Amanda, isn’t true. Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg said in an e-mail to Fox News on Wednesday, “Absolutely, 100 percent false. Complete lie and fabrication.”

The National Enquirer said the 27-year-old Amanda Boyd’s alleged affair with Woods is what led to the May breakup of Woods and his girlfriend of two years, Lindsey Vonn.

The Enquirer claims a source said, “Even though Tiger dated Lindsey for years, he had a ‘thing’ for Amanda.”

Well his ‘thing’ for Amanda, if true, was obviously about her body, not her personality, because clearly she was a real.....well, I better not go there. Boyd was married to Dufner until April, when the two divorced.

--Back in the February issue of Fortune, Donald Trump said some of the following about the sport of golf.

“I think I’m in a minority, but I feel differently about golf. I feel golf should be an aspirational game, something people aspire to. People should come to golf, golf shouldn’t come to them....

“It may be elitist, and perhaps that’s what golf needs. Let golf be elitist. When I say ‘aspire,’ that’s a positive word. Let people work hard and aspire to someday be able to play golf.   To afford to play it. They’re trying to teach golf to people who will never be able to really play it. They’re trying too hard. Because of the expense of playing, and the land needed, golf is never going to be basketball, where all you need is a court.

All these great athletes, you know what they do when they retire? They do nothing but play golf. Basketball players, hockey players, football players, all they want to do is golf.” [Kevin Manahan / NJ.com]

Oh brother. I’m sorry I missed this last February.

Well, after Trump’s incredibly stupid comments about Mexican immigrants, at first the LPGA, PGA Tour, PGA of America and USGA issue a tepid response, a joint statement, saying they have a “strong commitment to an inclusive and welcoming environment in the game of golf.”

As the above noted Kevin Manahan points out, Trump’s Bedminster, N.J., golf course is scheduled to host the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open and the 2022 PGA Championship. The USGA, which awarded the Women’s Open to Trump, is headquartered in nearby Far Hills, N.J.

But I take issue with Manahan. The above quote from the joint statement is all he included in his article, calling them the “Spineless Four” for not taking further action. Like what? Pull the PGA Tour event at Doral? Pull the Women’s Open? 

Manahan hates golf, and Trump’s comments in Fortune don’t help golf lovers’ cause.

But the actual statement read:

“In response to Mr. Trump’s comments about the golf industry ‘knowing he is right’ in regards to his recent statements about Mexican immigrants, we feel compelled to clarify that those remarks do not reflect the views of our organizations. While the LPGA, PGA of America, PGA Tour and USGA do not usually comment on presidential politics, Mr. Trump’s comments are inconsistent with our strong commitment to an inclusive and welcoming environment in the game of golf.”

Again, let’s wait to see what happens in the coming weeks. I think the “Spineless Four” made an initial decent statement and in every respect, the USGA and the various PGA charities have done everything to be inclusive, through programs like First Tee, and, frankly, Tiger’s foundation, which has done some terrific work.

If the Four don’t do more and Trump continues to be an idiot, well then I’ll probably side with the likes of Kevin Manahan.

Actually, the Four may have some of their work done for them if Cadillac, title-sponsor of the WGC event at Trump National Doral, decides to do something, which as of now it is contemplating. That would leave the PGA Tour in a huge bind. Developing....

Animals Gone Wild!!!

Goodness gracious, boys and girls. I don’t know where to start.

Megan Levy / Sydney Morning Herald

“A bodybuilder who was mauled by a shark off the northern NSW [Ed. New South Wales] coast has survived emergency surgery on his legs overnight but remains in serious condition in a Gold Coast hospital, police say.

“Matt Lee, 32, has been placed in an induced coma after he was bitten on both legs by a suspected great white shark and suffered severe blood loss off Lighthouse Beach in Ballina on Thursday morning.

“The Department of Primary Industries has said it had authorized a permit for the great white to be destroyed, after it was clear the shark had remained in the area hours after the attack and still posed a safety risk.”

But scores of surfers were undeterred and back in the water right after the attack.

The Ballina Shire Council mayor David Wright (clearly not the Mets player of the same name...or he’s two-timing us) said, “We made the decision yesterday to close all the beaches, but there were still about 70 surfers out, they were everywhere.”

There was a big junior surfing competition 10km up the coast the following day, with 270 participants.

Back to Lee, one witness said, “One leg was worse than the other. The legs were still on but the wetsuit was probably holding him together...it was terrible.”

[Director of Shark Attacks for Bar Chat, Bob S., Jersey boy, offered, “Looks like sharks are sending a reminder that they are not happy with the compensation scheme worked out with the Discovery Channel. #SharkWeek!]

--From J. Mac and Fox News:

“A man has died after an alligator attacked him during a late-night swim at a Southeast Texas marina.

“Police in Orange, near the state line with Louisiana, say 28-year-old Tommie W. was swimming in a bayou early Friday morning when the attack occurred.”

I’m protecting this fella’s last name because talk about an idiot. Oh yeah, I’ll go swim in a bayou. What could go wrong?!

The “Justice of the Peace” told the local television station that there is a sign warning “people not to swim in the area and that the man was bitten soon after he jumped in.”

--Adrian Beattie / WAtoday (Australia)

“Doctors say a woman who was attacked by a crocodile in the Kimberley is in ‘stable’ condition in Broome Hospital. 

“The woman who is in her fifties, was swimming in a rock pool on the Prince Regent River....

“She was bitten on the face but her injuries were not life threatening.”

Good gawd...bitten on the face?!

--From Brad K. and the Orange County Register:

“A dolphin leaped onto a boat in Southern California, crashing into a woman and breaking both her ankles.

“The Orange County Register reports that Chrissie F. (no need to give her last name) was boating with her husband and two children when a pod of dolphins swam alongside them. One of the animals jumped on the vessel, knocking (Chrissie) over and landing on her legs.

“Her husband, Dirk [Ed. all ‘Dirks’ are strapping dudes], pulled her out and called authorities as he headed toward an Orange County harbor. While he steered, he splashed water on the 350-pound dolphin to keep it alive as it thrashed around and bled from some cuts.

“Dirk got help pulling the dolphin onto a dock with a rope and then releasing it.

“It swam away, but his wife is still recovering from her injuries.”

The dolphin no doubt is bellying up to the underwater tavern.  “Hey, guys, you won’t believe what just happened to me."  “Geezuz, Flipper, you look like hell!”

--And there was this awful story out of Lake City, FL. “A five-year-old Florida girl died after a sturgeon leaped into her boat along the Suwannee River and struck her.

“Wildlife officials said Jaylon R. died after being struck Thursday night. Her mother and 9-year-old brother were also injured and taken to a Gainesville hospital. Their condition was not known.

“Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said this is the first fatality recorded from a sturgeon strike on the Suwanee River. Four people have been injured by jumping sturgeon this year, including two boaters who were taken to the hospital Friday.”

Yikes!

“The fish are famous for leaping more than 7 feet above the water...They can grow up to 8 feet long and up to 200 pounds.”

--The aforementioned Brad K., who hails from beautiful rural western Jersey, has had his tussles with local bears, but this is an incredible story from his town and the Long Valley Patch.

“A pack of family dogs intervened when a bear began approaching a three-year-old in her own backyard Wednesday morning, with one canine sustaining injuries to the face and leg before scaring off the wild animal.

“Emily W. (another instance of where I’ve decided to protect most female victims or subjects), of Long Valley, was sitting outside just after 9 a.m. Wednesday watching her three-year-old daughter play in the family’s fenced-in backyard.

“Despite the fencing, a well-known neighborhood bear estimated at 400 pounds by the homeowner, has climbed the wall and into the family’s property on numerous occasions, as often as once a week.

“ ‘Usually the dogs will chase him off and he’ll climb over the fence and wait (for the dogs) to come inside,’ (Emily) told Patch. ‘He’s very smart.’

“But Wednesday was different.

“(Emily’s) daughter was outside with one of the family dogs, a rescue pup named Chief, when the mom heard her child scream.

“ ‘I looked up and the bear was about 15 feet from her and walking right toward her,’ she said. ‘The bear was between us. Chief heard her scream and immediately grabbed the bear’s back leg, at which point the bear turned and bit Chief’s face and leg.

It was then the other three dogs, all Pit bulls and also rescues, ran to assist Chief while (Emily) grabbed her daughter. The bear was chased off, back over the fence and ultimately up a tree in the woods.

“By the time police arrived the bear had wandered of.”

Well, this seems like a pretty easy decision. Kill the bear. But the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife told Emily “We’re not allowed to kill the bear – not that we want to – and if he injures a dog they give the bear the benefit of the doubt and say it’s in self-defense,” Emily said.

In order for the bear to be taken away and euthanized, it must commit a “category one” offense, where it tries to enter a home or shows aggression like charging or attacking. No word on what happens if a bear is caught acting as a pizza delivery man.

So what we have in this full tale is another case of ‘Dog’ solidifying his No. 1 ranking on the All-Species List. For going after a child, I’m placing ‘Black Bear’ on “10-day suspension with further review.”

Black Bear is allowed to go after all male adults, 18 and older, who are camping, hiking or taking pictures out the car window at Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks. ‘Grizzly and Kodiak Bears,’ lumped together at No. 6 on the ASL, do not go after children.

By the way, ‘Beaver,’ off double-probation and currently No. 9, continues to exhibit improved character, which shows the probation sentence works.

Wolverine,’ out of the Top Ten at No. 13, is not happy and keeps sending representatives to headquarters here which is quite irritating and rather dangerous, especially for my neighbors.

--Meanwhile, at Yellowstone National Park, there were two more bison attacks on people last week, bringing the total for the season to four, which prompted the park to issue a reminder to visitors that they are to stay at least 25 yards away from wildlife, or about the distance of eight Eddie George carries back in his day.

Yellowstone normally just has one or two an entire year. The park said in a statement that while bison and elk appear tame they should never be approached.

Bison can sprint three times faster than humans can run and are unpredictable and dangerous,” the statement read in part.

As reported by CNN: “In the most recent incident Wednesday, a 68-year-old woman from Georgia was hiking on the Storm Point trail and encountered a bison nearby. The woman continued on the trail and as she passed the bison, it charged and gored her.”

Luckily a witness ran up the trail to get help and she was choppered to a hospital with serious injuries.

--A final animal vs. man bit...Michael Winter / USA TODAY

“In its second warning this week, the federal government reported Thursday that climate change is destroying Arctic sea ice at a rapid rate and threatening polar bears with extinction unless greenhouse gases are dramatically reduced.

“ ‘The single most important action for the recovery of polar bears is global reduction of atmospheric greenhouse gases,’ the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said in releasing the draft of a five-year plan to reduce carbon dioxin emissions.’”

With all due respect to the polar bears, they need to learn how to adapt to urban areas. New York City, for one, has lots of garbage they can dive into, and there are more than a handful of humans in Gotham who deserve to be a tasty repast for our No. 16 ASL friends from the Arctic.

Stonie Upsets Chestnut!

So I watched the Nathan’s Famous hot dog eating contest in Coney Island and I have to admit, like all of America and the entire western world, I was shocked that Matt Stonie, “The Megatoad,” defeated eight-time champion Joey “Jaws” Chestnut in one of the great sporting contests of any kind in the history of man.

Stonie, who in finishing second last year lost to Chestnut by just five dogs and buns, proved he belonged but I assumed Chestnut would perform better down the stretch.

In the end Stonie swallowed 62 to Chestnut’s 60, though with about 4:00 to go in the 10-minute event, I saw a big chunk of wiener exit Stonie’s mouth and he should have been docked a full dog as a result. I’m surprised no one has brought this up.

Chestnut, on the other hand, looked very close to a “reversal of fortune” a number of  times.

Chestnut did say he was slowed by a few bad wieners. “Some of the hot dogs were cold and leathery.” Not the kind of statement Nathan’s wants to hear, I imagine.

Days before the competition, the New York Post revealed Chestnut and his fiancée Neslie Ricasa, who he proposed to on stage at last year’s event, “had split like an oven-roasted weenie,” as the Post observed.

Saturday, Chestnut admitted the breakup may have affected his gobble game. But he vowed to come back next year.

“I haven’t been this hungry to come back in a long time.”

Stuff

--So right after The Belmont, I gambled American Pharoah would run at the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park, New Jersey, Aug. 2, and on Thursday the decision was made. Yes. Your editor is psyched. Having booked a cheap hotel room less than a mile walk from the track the same hour, the hotel folks certainly not understanding what might transpire on such short notice, I have a truly enticing package for sale as we get closer, but I’m there. [I mean my reserved seats are $14 a piece!]

Much more on this later, but Pharoah owner Ahmed Zayat is trying to line up Bruce Springsteen for that day, because the tradition at the Haskell is to play the “Born to Run” anthem as the horses enter the track before the race. I mean if it fits his schedule, why wouldn’t Bruce do it?

--Chile beat Argentina 4-1 on penalties to win Copa America. After a 0-0 draw in the final Chile won its first major tournament in the shootout.

The result extended Argentina’s 22-year title drought, and as the AP put it, “Lionel Messi will continue to hear criticism for his lackluster play with the national team when it needs him most.”

Chile’s best result in the World Cup was a third-place finish in 1962, and it lost to Uruguay in the Copa America final 28 years ago.

--I’m the ‘wait 24 hours’ guy so I’m leery of commenting on Sunday night about the story that broke a few hours ago that New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul severely injured his hand in a fireworks accident in Miami Saturday.

But tonight, the New York Post is reporting Paul burned the flesh off his palm and fingertips but his fingers are intact. There were rumors Sunday afternoon he lost some fingers.

The timing couldn’t be worse for Paul as he had yet to sign a one-year franchise tag tender that would pay him $14.8 million for the 2015 season. Paul stayed away in the offseason because he wants a multi-year extension guaranteeing him $30 million.

Well if you’re the Giants, this act of stupidity makes you think twice and they can revoke the tender, though that is unlikely.

Training camp starts July 30 and Paul will need time to heal so we await further details on his true condition.

Regardless, we have us an “Idiot of the Year” candidate.

--Ditto the man in Calais, Maine, who on the Fourth of July “tried to launch a firework off the top of his head, fatally injuring himself,” as reported by the AP.  Really. This happened. The drunk 22-year-old “placed a fireworks mortar tube on his head and set it off,” according to a spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety. He was killed instantly.

--We note the passing of NFL Hall of Fame tight end Charlie Sanders, 68. The cause was cancer.

Sanders played for the Detroit Lions from 1968 to 1977 and was everyone’s favorite. Before there was Kellen Winslow and Tony Gonzalez, Sanders helped pioneer the position as one with more offense, leading the Lions (or tied for the lead) in receptions six times, catching 336 in his career with 31 touchdowns. He was selected for the Pro Bowl seven times, and from 1969-71 was named a first-team All-Pro by The Associated Press.

Sanders was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007.

He was born in Richlands, N.C., but played his high school football (and basketball) in Greensboro, N.C. At the University of Minnesota he played defense until his senior year, when he was switched to tight end and led the team in receptions. The Lions drafted him in the third round and he became an immediate star.

--Talk about an a-hole. No. 1 on the list these days is New York Jets defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson, who was just suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.

Richardson issued a rote apology that as Johnny Mac said was of course from “Apologies ‘R Us,” Mr. Richardson incapable of writing anything of the kind himself.

But here’s why he’s an a-hole, aside from being selfish for hurting the team. This is a guy who, while he is an outstanding DT and one of the three or four keys to the team’s hoped for success, is always blasting the fans for their lack of support.

Well the heck with you, Sheldon. While I hope you play great when you come back, you’re a jerk.

--Sean “Diddy” Combs got off. L.A. County prosecutors opted not to charge the overrated rapper/mogul with felony assault and battery on a UCLA intern and an assistant football coach, former Jets and current Bruins strength coach Sal Alosi, during a dispute over the singer’s pampered son, a scrubbeenie d-back for UCLA.

I mean read this account from the Los Angeles Times’ Richard Winton and Nathan Fenno:

“The encounter reportedly became heated at some point [Ed. after Combs and the kid walked into Alosi’s office, the latter being on the phone.] In one version of it, Alosi reportedly tried to fend off an angry Combs, who left his shirt torn.

“Sources say the dispute spilled out of Alosi’s office and drew the attention of four or five unpaid interns who work in and around the weight room.

“Combs allegedly grabbed a kettlebell....off a shelf and swung it. A security camera in the weight room captured that part of the incident.”

I mean, c’mon.

But of course Diddy was represented by Mark Geragos, and no doubt there was cash under the table to make this go away.

I just hope the kid doesn’t step onto the field again for the school, which is also obviously petrified of Diddy’s clout.

Top 3 songs for the week 7/6/85: #1 “Sussudio” (Phil Collins) #2 “A View To A Kill” (Duran Duran) #3 “Raspberry Beret” (Prince & the Revolution)...and...#4 “Heaven” (Bryan Adams) #5 “The Search Is Over” (Survivor) #6 “Would I Lie To You?” (Eurythmics) #7 “You Give Good Love” (Whitney Houston) #8 “Everytime You Go Away” (Paul Young) #9 “Voices Carry” (‘til Tuesday) #10 “Angel” (Madonna...just totally uninterested in this week and year...I’m outta here...going back to the 60s...)

Detroit Tigers Quiz Answers: 1) Hank Greenberg, 63 (1934) and Charlie Gehringer, 60 (1936), only Tigers with 60 doubles in a season. 2) Curtis Granderson, 23 (2007) only Tiger in modern era with 20 triples. 3) Only two with 50 homers: Hank Greenberg, 58 (1938) and Cecil Fielder, 51 (1990). 4) Aside from Greenberg, the only Tiger with 140 RBI in a season is Rocky Colavito, who hit that number in 1961. [Greenberg of course had a peak season of 184 in 1937.]

Next Bar Chat, Thursday...belated tribute, but more than I’ve written before about Audie Murphy.