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[Posted Wed. a.m. Hopefully, major caregiving at my folks’ house is over, though still time-consuming in some respects. Things will be back to normal for the editor next week, I pray.]
Baseball Quiz: We have already had three no-hitters this season. The last time we had three this soon was 1969, a year in which we had six no-nos overall. Go ahead, try to name all six, though a major hint is two of the six picked up their second no-hitters that season. Answer below.
Place Your Bets, New Jersey…and everyone else!
Steve Politi / Star-Ledger
“The floodgates are open now. You want to place a bet on the Giants to win the Super Bowl? You’ll be able to do so legally, in a matter of weeks, at a shiny new sports book at Monmouth Park.
“But this isn’t going to stop there. You can, ahem, bet on that.
“Soon, you won’t have to make that drive to a racetrack or a casino – you’ll be able to visit a betting parlor in a shopping mall near your hometown. And, maybe sooner still, even that short trip will be unnecessary.
“Why drive anywhere when you can open an app on your phone and place your bet right there?
“Imagine a day when hundreds of Giants fans are placing that legal bet from their seats inside MetLife Stadium as their favorite team prepares to take the field for the opening kickoff. That would have seemed unthinkable even just a few years ago given the attitudes toward betting in this country.
“But it’s coming.
“The Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision in Murphy v. NCAA is a landmark moment for American sports and how we consume them. This doesn’t just pave the way for legalized sports betting in New Jersey, but does so for all states – and, make no mistake, Pennsylvania and New York and the rest are not going to let us have a little monopoly here.
“The NFL and the other professional leagues, the ones who have fought this battle in court for years, will quickly come around, too. They’ll want a piece of the action like everybody else – they are already lobbying states to give them an ‘integrity fee’ as part of any legislation – and they’re going to discover that this decision was plenty good for their business, too.
“This isn’t just good news for the state’s coffers and the ailing horse racing industry that stands to benefit the most. This will be a boon for TV ratings, too, because nothing keeps eyeballs glued to a boring game like having a few bucks riding on the outcome.
“Pro sports are not going to be besieged with corruption despite all the righteous handwringing. Here’s a prediction that I won’t even bother to give odds on: We’re going to look back on this day in just a few years and wonder, ‘What the heck was the big deal, anyway?’
“ Society will have largely accepted sports betting as part of life, much in the same way it has become a fixture in the United Kingdom. The whole conversation about the ‘integrity’ of NFL games being compromised as a result is going to feel even more ridiculous than it does now.
“ ‘I was criticized eight years ago that this was just a Hail Mary pass,’ said Ray Lesniak, the former state senator behind this fight, ‘and now everybody is saying, ‘Of course!’….
[Ed. it was Lesniak and former Gov. Chris Christie who were most responsible for never giving up on the issue, even though as politicians they otherwise hated each other.]
“ ‘The legalization of sports gambling requires an important policy choice, but the choice is not ours to make,’ Justice Samuel Alito, a New Jersey native, said in the opinion. ‘Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each State is free to act on its own.’”
Jason Gay / Wall Street Journal
“It’s time for us all to don our vintage New York Jets jerseys and set off down the Road to Perdition; the Supreme Court has blazed an apocalyptic path for – horror! – the legalization of sports betting in America.
“A generation from now, we will remember this moment, as we stare upon the charred hellscape we created: a country that abandoned centuries of industry and innovation (and a lot of movies about talking pets) in favor of placing sanctioned bets on the Jacksonville Jaguars. The annihilation of civilization will be swift and severe. Imagine Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Road,’ dictated by Brent Musburger: broken families, burned out cars, wild poodles and sports radio hosts, roaming the streets. Crime will be everywhere. Zombies, too. But hey – you’ll be able to bet on the Clippers.
“Or maybe it will be pretty normal.”
NASCAR driver Brad Keselowski tweeted: “Torn on the recent court ruling allowing gambling. Should be great for our sport bur I’ve also seen gambling ruin lives.
“If you choose to gamble on me or anyone else please be responsible and if you need help, get help,” he said.
As I’ve been saying for years, personally, I just want to be able to place a bet on the Mets or Jets from time to time. And I’d love to be able to bet on individual golfers as they’ve done in the U.K. for years. I’m psyched (as I head down to the Jersey Shore for a high school reunion with my Poker Group).
--The Boston Celtics have done it again…exceeded expectations. Tuesday, despite LeBron James’ 42 points, Boston defeated Cleveland in Beantown 107-94 to take a 2-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference Finals.
James had a triple-double, adding 10 rebounds and 12 assists, but the Celtics once again had a balanced attack, led by Jaylen Brown’s 23, and improved to 9-0 this postseason at TD Garden.
--It’s going to be a return of the big man in the June 21 NBA draft, with potentially five of the top 15 being centers or power forwards.
Arizona’s 7-foot Deandre Ayton, Duke’s 6-11 Marvin Bagley III, Michigan State’s 6-11 Jaren Jackson Jr., Duke’s 6-10 Wendell Carter Jr. and Texas’ 7-foot Mohamed Bamba. I expect all to go in the top eight. Personally, I would rank Ayton, Jackson and Bamba top three of the five. [But Carter will rack up some awesome rebound totals in his career.]
So…who gets to select first?
It’s Phoenix…who most are guessing will select Ayton. Sacramento selects second, Atlanta third. The Knicks are ninth.
It’s the fourth straight year the team with the worst record nailed the top pick in the lottery.
--The baseball world was shocked to learn that All-Star second baseman Robinson Cano, who had just made news in suffering a broken hand when hit by a pitch last weekend, was suspended without pay for 80 games by MLB after testing positive for a banned substance; the diuretic furosemide. Cano said he would accept the suspension which begins immediately.
In a statement, Cano said in part: “Recently I learned that I tested positive for a substance called Furosemide*, which is not a performance enhancing substance… For more than 15 years, playing professional baseball has been the greatest honor and privilege of my life. I would never do anything to cheat the rules of the game that I love, and after undergoing dozens of drug tests over more than a decade, I have never tested positive for a performance enhancing substance for the simple reason that I have never taken one.”
*Furosemide is sold under the brand name Lasix…think horse racing and some of its scandals and controversies over the years. It is commonly used to prevent bleeding in racehorses.
But Cano wouldn’t have been suspended for using a diuretic, under MLB’s drug policy, unless MLB could prove he used it as a masking agent.
ESPN reported that Cano tested positive prior to the season beginning and appealed. During the appeal, Major League Baseball determined his intent, which resulted in Cano dropping his appeal.
Cano said he was given furosemide by a licensed doctor in his native Dominican Republic (where else?).
MLB said Cano’s time on the disabled list will count toward his 80-game suspension. He will lose $11.85 million of his $24 million deal for 2018 – and is ineligible for the postseason (as well as the All-Star Game).
Cano is most familiar to New York fans, having spent nine seasons with the Yankees. He is an eight-time All-Star who was clearly headed towards 3,000 hits and the Hall of Fame…but not now when it comes to the latter, one would think.
He now becomes the fifth member of the 2009 Yankees – their most recent World Series championship team – to test positive or admit to using performance-enhancing drugs. Besides Cano, outfielder Melky Cabrera, pitcher Andy Pettitte and catcher Francisco Cervelli have tested positive, and Alex Rodriguez had admitted using PEDs when he was ensnared in the Biogenesis scandal.
Give Major League Baseball credit for identifying cases like Cano’s. Yes, no one is above the game itself.
--The Dodgers, 16-25, are off to their worst start since 1958, their inaugural season in Los Angeles. Kind of remarkable.
--A man I am most familiar with, hedge fund king David Tepper, sealed a deal to buy the Carolina Panthers for roughly $2.2 billion, up from his previous bid of $2.1 billion, which while the highest price ever paid for an NFL franchise is still considered a bargain.
Current owner Jerry Richardson is being forced to sell the team, amid an NFL probe into allegations of front office sexual harassment.
Richardson had been seeking $2.5 billion and Forbes recently valued the team at $2.3 billion.
Tepper, founder of Appaloosa Management, used to have his main office just a 2-minute drive from yours truly, across from The Mall at Short Hills, before he moved to Florida for tax reasons.
He is said to be worth $11 billion and is paying all cash for the team. [The NFL limits the amount of debt teams can carry at $350 million.] Tepper has been a minority owner in the Steelers.
--A settlement was reached in the long-running suit that alleged Eli Manning had passed off fake game-worn memorabilia. In a statement, the Giants said:
“The compromise agreement, entered into by all parties, should not be viewed as supporting any allegations, claims or defenses. All parties are grateful to have the matter, which began in 2014, concluded and are now focused on football, the fans and the future.”
As noted by USA TODAY, and yours truly over the years, “Three plaintiffs said they bought two of the allegedly fraudulent helmets from Steiner Sports, which has a contract with Manning to provide the game-used equipment. They claimed they would provide evidence that Manning and the Giants’ equipment staff have been defrauding collectors for years.”
Eli is lucky this didn’t go to trial.
--We note the passing of the great NFL coach Chuck Knox, 86. He died after a lengthy battle with dementia.
Knox coached Seattle, Buffalo and the Los Angeles Rams for 22 years, 1973-94, with a 186-147-1 record, 7-11 in the playoffs. He was named the league’s coach of the year with all three.
Knox was tough. A real classic. His grittiness was reflective of his background as the son of a Western Pennsylvania steel worker.
“I never had a guy that breathed intensity into a group of men before kickoff as well as he did,” said former Rams tackle Jackie Slater, whose Hall of Fame career was bookended by stints under Knox.
Slater recalled a game at Dallas during the 1992 season when the Rams were double-digit underdogs to the Cowboys, who boasted the best defense in football. It was a simple pregame speech from Knox. He read aloud a newspaper excerpt that previewed the mismatch, spit on the locker room floor, then walked out.
“The guys didn’t say a word,” Slater said. “We watched him walk out of the room, gathered our thoughts, then started grabbing our helmets and it was, ‘here we go.’” [The Rams won the game 27-23.]
A hallmark of Knox’s teams was a power running game, something that earned him the nickname “Ground Chuck.”
“Chuck Knox had that John Wayne thing, where you knew he was the guy in charge,” former Seahawks quarterback Dave Krieg said. “You were going to do things his way, old-school Pennsylvania style. But he also had a proven track record, so that gave our team confidence. He let you know who was the boss.”
Knox was born April 27, 1932, in Sewickley, Pa. He was a 190-pound tackle at Juniata College who started on both the offensive and defensive lines. He began his coaching career at his alma mater, but would go on to coach the offensive lines for the Jets and Lions before becoming a head coach.
Jackie Slater: “You’d watch him walk out to practice, and he’d stroll out there with his hat on crooked in a demanding sort of way, and you knew that it was time to work. You knew that the scrutinizing eyes were upon you, and you knew what the expectations were all the time.” [Sam Farmer / Los Angeles Times]
--PGA Tour player Lucas Glover has more to deal with than the pressure of being a professional golfer. Saturday, his wife, Krista Glover, was arrested on battery charges at a home the couple rented in Ponte Vedra, Florida, not far from the competition at Sawgrass TPC, the Daily Mail first reported.
The 36-year-old is accused of causing bodily harm when she “forcefully attacked” the 2009 U.S. Open winner and her mother-in-law in front of their two kids, according to the St. John’s County Sheriff’s Office.
When authorities arrived at the scene, Lucas told them that, “when he plays a bad round of golf, Krista proceeds to start an altercation with him and telling him how he is a loser and a p---y.”
Krista, according to the report, continued to berate him, saying “how he needs to fire everyone, and how he’d better win or her and the kids would leave him and he would never see the kids again.”
Glover made the initial cut, but a 78 in Saturday’s third round made him a 54-hole victim.
--I forgot to note last time that Justin Thomas became the new No. 1 in the World Golf Rankings with his T-11 finish at the Players Championship, dethroning Dustin Johnson after a 15-month reign. Jordan Spieth is third, followed by Jon Rahm and Justin Rose.
--I didn’t have time to mention the situation with Jason Dufner at the end of the Players Championship. He was playing superbly Sunday, six birdies, one bogey through 17 holes to sit at 14-under and tied for second, you may recall. On No. 18, he put himself in position for solo second when he hit his approach on the par-4 to just inside 17 feet. But his birdie try slid three feet by the hole…a ticklish par putt…and he missed it…settling for bogey to fall into a tie for fifth.
Bottom line, had he made that birdie putt, he earns $1.188 million for finishing second. Instead he walked away with $418,000…hardly chump change but remember the reason why we love golfers is because they are independent contractors. Not any of this guaranteed $10 million for some NBA stiff.
Dufner would have earned $726,000 for making it a four-way tie for second.
The finish was also particularly costly in terms of the Ryder Cup and how that point system works. The Players is weighted far more than a normal event.
--We note the passing of actress Margot Kidder, 69. Best known for her film work in the “Superman” franchise, Kidder also starred in “Black Christmas,” “The Great Waldo Pepper” and “The Amityville Horror.”
“Superman” director Richard Donner once referred to her as “a whirling dervish,” boundless energy.
But Kidder was masking a bipolar disorder that led to her becoming a public face for mental health advocacy after a 1996 episode resulted in the actress going missing, only to be found disheveled and disoriented several days later.
--A fisherman who was bitten by a shark was rescued by a helicopter crew from the Royal Coastguard.
“The porbeagle shark was hauled onto the deck of the ‘Govenek of Ladram’ when it latched on to Max Berryman’s limb.” [His leg.]
The leg was apparently saved. [Irish Independent]
--From UPI: “A 5-year-old girl was hospitalized after being attacked by a black bear in the yard of her Grand Junction, Colo., home.
“The girl left her home about 2:30 a.m. on Sunday to investigate noises she thought were caused by her dog. Her mother then went outside and saw the bear dragging her daughter, a statement from Colorado Parks and Wildlife said.
“The bear dropped the girl after the mother screamed. The girl was hospitalized and reported late Sunday to be in good condition. The extent of her injuries was not revealed.”
The bear, supposedly the offender, was found and killed. I imagine the girl won’t be sleeping well for a few decades.
--A professional bull rider, Giliard Antonio, was killed by a rampaging bull after the animal flung him off and stomped on his chest at a rodeo in Brazil.
Antonio “got his hand trapped in the harness as the beast bucked and violently trampled on him with its hind legs in front of a packed arena on Sunday night.
“Footage showed the rider, who is considered one of the best in Brazil, stumble to his feet and stand for a few seconds before losing consciousness and collapsing to the ground.”
He was pronounced dead at the hospital. Antonio was preparing to compete in the United States before the fatal incident. [New York Daily News]
--Brad K. passed along this story from the Associated Press:
“BERLIN: Police were called to investigate a domestic disturbance in a southern German town – and found a man arguing with a parrot.
“A resident in Loerrach, near the Swiss border, called the emergency number Monday to report his concerns about loud shouting from a next-door apartment that had been going on for some time.
“Police said Tuesday that officers sent to the scene found there was a loud argument going on – but it was between a 22-year-old man and a parrot. The man told him he had been annoyed with the bird, which belonged to his girlfriend.
“The parrot responded to being shouted at with loud noises of its own. Police said it couldn’t speak but could bark like a dog.
“Since no one was hurt, the officers left.”
The rankings of both ‘Man’ and ‘Parrot’ are being reassessed when it comes to the All-Species List. Actually, Krista Glover ensures that ‘Man’ is tumbling a few more notches.
Top 3 songs for the week 5/18/74: #1 “The Streak” (Ray Stevens) #2 “Dancing Machine” (The Jackson 5) #3 “The Entertainer” (Marvin Hamlisch)…and…#4 “The Loco-Motion” (Grand Funk) #5 “The Show Must Go On” (Three Dog Night) #6 “Bennie and The Jets” (Elton John) #7 “Band On The Run” (Paul McCartney & Wings) #8 “Midnight At The Oasis” (Maria Muldaur) #9 “(I’ve Been) Searching So Long” (Chicago) #10 “You Make Me Feel Brand News” (The Stylistics)
Baseball Quiz Answer: Six with no-hitters in 1969. Bill Stoneman (Montreal), Jim Maloney (Cincinnati…his second…), Don Wilson (also his second with Houston). And….Jim Palmer (Baltimore), Ken Holtzman (Chicago), and Bob Moose (Pittsburgh).
Next Bar Chat, Monday.