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[Posted late Sunday p.m. ...had to wait for Mets-Yankees to wrap up...]
Baseball Quiz: Friday, both Justin Verlander and Jacob deGrom were on the mound and their respective ERAs ‘rose’ to 1.45 and 1.57. Since 1920, only four pitchers have had an ERA of 1.60 or better. So you get Bob Gibson and his 1.12 from 1968. Name the other three. Answer below.
Justify Takes the Belmont
Justify etched his place in racing history on Saturday, becoming the 13th horse to win the Triple Crown at the Belmont Stakes, joining Seattle Slew as the only horses to win the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont as an undefeated colt.
Trainer Bob Baffert became just the second to win the Triple Crown twice, having won with American Pharoah three years ago. “Sunny” Jim Fitzsimmons won with Gallant Fox in 1930 and his son Omaha in 1935.
Justify won Saturday in wire-to-wire fashion. Jockey Mike Smith never really extended the horse and it wasn’t threatened down the stretch in a big way, Gronkowski finishing a surprising second, followed by Hofburg and Vino Rosso.
Baffert didn’t pick up the horse until late last year and it was not raced as a 2-year-old, Justify becoming the first to win the Derby since 1882 not having run as a 2-year-old. But after winning his first race at Santa Anita by 9 ½ lengths, Baffert knew Justify could be special, so he took off Drayden Van Dyke in favor of the Hall of Famer, 52-year-old Mike Smith.
Baffert and owner WinStar then won the Santa Anita Derby by three lengths and the horse had four weeks rest before the Kentucky Derby, where he went off as the favorite and closed with an impressive 2 ½-length win over a tiring Good Magic and a gaining Audible.
Those two horses would have proved stiff tests in the Belmont, but Good Magic was held out for the lucrative summer circuit, while Audible is under the same ownership as Justify and they didn’t want to spoil the shot at a Triple Crown.
When Baffert won with American Pharoah, he ran the colt in the Haskell Stakes at Monmouth, your editor attending that exciting event, Pharoah winning, but then Baffert made the big mistake of running Pharoah at Saratoga in the Travers Stakes, where Pharoah lost. Baffert does not like Saratoga, never races well there, and blamed himself for the move, but then Pharoah closed out his career by winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic, thus solidifying his legacy as an all-time great..
So we wait to see what ownership for Justify does now. Here’s hoping it goes to Monmouth and then just waits for the Classic before retiring. But I can also see ownership just packing it in, having already received a hefty stud deal.
John Cherwa / Los Angeles Times
“Justify’s attempt at becoming the 13th horse to win racing’s Triple Crown was dripping in history. It’s why 90,327 people came to Long Island’s Belmont Park on Saturday. They wanted to witness something they have never seen before, that is unless they were at Belmont Park three years ago.
“Horses are often defined by those that came before them. Seattle Slew, it was believed, was never given the proper credit because he came four years after the beloved Secretariat. And then Affirmed came one year after Seattle Slew.
“Justify will forever be linked to American Pharoah, who won the Triple Crown for trainer Bob Baffert three years ago. Baffert, once again, was asked to compare the two.
“ ‘Durability, that’s the one thing this horse has,’ Baffert said. ‘American Pharoah has it too. Not only are they brilliant, they’re fast, they’re durable. But they’re two different types. It’s like comparing your kids, which one is faster. But you know, Pharoah was my first Triple Crown winner.’
“American Pharoah won his Belmont Stakes going away. Justify on the lead ran more like he was holding serve.
“It was a great race for Justify, just not dramatic. Although Baffert might beg to differ.
“ ‘Going into the first turn, we saw those horses out there and I saw the 23 [seconds for the quarter-mile],’ Baffert said. ‘Boy that was fast. But he [jockey Mike Smith] slowed it down and I saw 48 and I felt a little bit better. ...And then when he made the move in the far turn, I was like, ‘Oh, Mike, Mike, don’t empty the tank.’’
“There was plenty left in the tank.”
Smith said: “I was able to go ahead and get a comfortable lead and just let him get into that rhythm of his, which he did very well. The first quarter was a little bit quick, but then after that he slowed down and got into a great rhythm. I just kept a leg on each side at that point with me in the middle. When I asked him, he dug in.”
Smith used the whip three times in the stretch.
But Bill Mott, who trained Hofburg, was tempered in his praise.
“There was no pace and nobody put any pressure on the horse and he kind of walked the dog going around there. Mike is great, obviously, and Justify is probably a great horse. I mean, they’re a good combination and get the job done. We saw another Triple Crown winner. A lot of people are happy about it.”
As for the 52-year-old Smith, “Big Money Mike,” he became the oldest to win the Triple Crown, his first.
Joe Drape / New York Times
“Sometimes a well-liked guy wins in the cutthroat sport of horse racing and even his bitterest rivals are happy. Mike Smith was that guy on Saturday after booting Justify home in the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes...
“Smith is 52. His craggy face is a map of some brutal years, partly from the nasty spills that led to enough broken bones to keep an orthopedic med school class busy, partly because he lost his passion and confidence for stretches in his Hall of Fame career.
“What Smith never lost, however, was a sense of humor and the love for the animals that provided him a good living. The wrinkles around his eyes and his impish smile have made him something of a racetrack Yoda.
“On Saturday, the closest his fellow riders and their horses ever got to Smith and Justify was when he trotted his colt around the clubhouse turn to the winner’s circle. Jose Ortiz, 24, the jockey aboard the runner-up, Gronkowski, and Jose’s brother, Irad, 25, who chased Justify home in third, aboard Hofburg, beamed lighthouse smiles as they offered Smith congratulations.
“Vino Rosso’s jockey, John Velazquez, 46 and also a Hall of Famer, wrapped him in a heartfelt embrace. ‘I’ve known him for so long,’ Velazquez said, ‘and for him to do this at this age is incredible. I am really happy for him.’
“Smith’s face, as usual, was bisected by an incandescent smile. He understands he has ridden perhaps more great horses than any of his peers have: the great Holy Bull, the champion mare Zenyatta, the world’s richest racehorse, Arrogate, and now Justify.
“ ‘He’s the greatest of all time,’ Smith said of Justify when asked who his favorite was. ‘I just won the Triple Crown.’”
--Game 4 was a formality for Golden State, facing off against a beaten, and as it turned out, wounded, Cleveland team; the Warriors romping 108-85, with Kevin Durant winning the Finals MVP crown for a second straight year by a 7-4 media vote over Steph Curry.
Durant averaged a team-high 28.8 points in the series while shooting 52.6% overall and 40.9% from three-point range. And he added 10.8 rebounds, 7.5 assists and 2.0 blocks per game.
But it was his superb Game 3 performance – 43 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists – that will be the big memory from this series.
We also learned after that LeBron James played the last three games with a broken hand (deep bone contusion to his right shooting hand) after slamming it against a whiteboard in frustration following the terrible Game 1 loss, due to J.R. Smith’s historic blunder (and George Hill’s missed free throw). Certainly James was very ordinary in Games 2 thru 4. But we all know the series was over after the first contest.
“Postgame after Game 1,” James explained Friday night, “I was very emotional, for a lot of different reasons. Understanding how important Game 1 is on the road for our ball club, what that would have done for us, the way we played, calls that were made throughout the course of that game. I had emotions on how the game was taken away from us. I had emotions on how you just don’t get opportunities like that on the road on this stage to get Game 1.
“Emotions got the best of me, and I pretty much played the last three games with a broken hand.”
So the Warriors have won the title three of the last four seasons, a dynasty, and with their key players coming back, and their bench no doubt only being strengthened, they will be the prohibitive favorite, unless LeBron goes to the Sixers.
--Speaking of which, the free agent season starts July 1, and there is no way LeBron stays in Cleveland, and I see only two places where he’ll go...Philadelphia or the Lakers. I’ve said all along the Sixers are a layup for him...the perfect setting, the perfect roster mix. But the Lakers work only if Paul George is a second piece.
The Washington Capitals wrapped up their first NHL title with a 4-3 win over the Golden Nights in Las Vegas on Thursday night, a highly-entertaining Game 5 clincher in Las Vegas. Alex Ovechkin capped his playoff MVP performance with an early power-play goal, and Devante Smith-Pelly tied it with a goal midway through the final period. Then Lars Eller scored the tiebreaking goal with 7:37 to play and the Caps held on the rest of the way.
So Vegas’ incredible expansion season ended, and the Caps lofted the Stanley Cup for the first time in their 44-year franchise history.
Ovechkin and his teammates also gave Washington its first championship team since the Redskins won the Super Bowl in early 1992.
I love when the greats come through and Alex Ovechkin deserved this one, after years of playoff futility. Good for Washington and congratulations to Capitals fans.
The Caps, by the way, lead the NHL in regular season points with 1,019 the past decade, ahead of the Penguins (1,008) and the Chicago Blackhawks (988). Nobody else is close. In those 10 years, the Penguins and Blackhawks won six Cups – three each, as the Washington Post’s Thomas Boswell pointed out. Now the Caps have finally come through.
--In what seemed destined to be an incredibly lopsided Subway Series, the Yankees invaded Citi Field to play the staggering, irrelevant Mets, and on Friday, defeated Mets ace Jacob deGrom, 4-1, deGrom allowing just two earned runs in eight innings, though he gave up the crucial two-run homer to Brett Gardner in the top of the eighth.
The thing is, with these Mets there is zero margin for error for the starting staff and the Mets are now 5-8 in deGrom’s 13 starts, despite his 1.57 ERA! Unreal...unfathomable. Impossible. You name it.
Then on Saturday, the Mets’ losing streak reached eight, their longest such skid since 2004, blowing a 3-0 first-inning lead and falling 4-3 on an Aaron Judge tie-breaking homer in the eighth.
The Mets have scored 11 runs in the eight games...an historically bad stretch for the club. As Johnny Mac mused the other day, “I always wondered what a game in the dead ball era looked like...now I know.”
Even worse, the starters had an ERA of 2.16 over those eight, the first time in literally 99 years a team had lost eight in a row with that low an ERA from the starting staff.
And the Mets have also now lost 10 straight at home for the first time since they lost a team-record 15 in a row at Shea Stadium in 2002, according to Elias.
Meanwhile, I was at the Trenton-Binghamton game Saturday and had no idea Yoenis Cespedes was rehabbing with Binghamton. He doubled his two times at the plate, but on the second one had tightness in his balky right quad running to second and was pulled from the game. Today we learned he is now not close to returning...sent down to St. Lucie for further rehab. Oh brother.
[I was hoping to get a pic with Tim Tebow, but logistically not possible, thanks to the extended netting beyond the dugouts now...for starters.]
So tonight, the Mets sent Seth Lugo, making his second spot start, against Yankee ace Luis Severino, and in keeping with that 2.16 ERA for Mets starters I noted above, Lugo threw six shutout innings, leaving with the Mets up 2-0.
And they won! Mets win! Mets win! 2-0! [First time Yankees were shut out this season.]
--Stephen Strasburg was placed on the disabled list for the sixth time in four seasons, this time with inflammation in his right shoulder. The most starts he has made in a season during this stretch was 28, last year. With a healthy Strasburg, to go with Max Scherzer and Gio Gonzalez, the Nationals can follow the Capitals with a World Series title. Without him, it’s doubtful.
--Albert Pujols hit a solo home run in Saturday’s 2-1 Angels win over the Twins, the RBI No. 1,951 in his career, tying Stan Musial for sixth all time, Musial and Pujols getting to know each other during Pujols’ days in St. Louis. So it was something special for Albert, who after the game, graciously said he would be giving his jersey and his bat and the ball to the Musial family.
Meanwhile, baseball suffered a potentially devastating blow when tests revealed a grade 2 sprain of Shohei Ohtani’s ulnar collateral ligament, an injury that will cost Ohtani a significant portion of what remains of this season, and potentially all of it.
The team announced that the rookie two-way sensation received a platelet-rich plasma and stem cell injection Thursday with hopes of avoiding ligament replacement surgery that could prevent Ohtani from pitching well into the 2019 season, as well.
Ohtani, 23, will be reevaluated in three weeks, at which point the Angels will have a better understanding of the effectiveness of the more conservative treatment.
GM Billy Eppler said he is “hopeful” Ohtani can recover without surgery. But recall, it was in December, just after Ohtani became an Angel, that medical records leaked to Yahoo Sports indicated that he had a first-degree sprain of the UCL and had reportedly been treated with a platelet-rich plasma injection in October 2017. So the new diagnosis means the injury worsened as he was putting together an All-Star caliber start to his major league career.
Ohtani is 4-1, 3.10 ERA, over nine starts, and, as a batter, is hitting .289 with six homes and 20 RBIs in 34 games.
This is a big blow for a sport that thus far this season, is kind of lacking in excitement...though the playoff races could still be good.
I think every year, at least these days, it helps to have a guy threatening to hit .400, at least into August, or someone on a 70-homer pace (that you think isn’t juiced).
--Today, I saw the Indians beat the Tigers 9-2, Cleveland now at 34-29. But the story was Corey Kluber, who threw 8 innings, allowing the 2 runs, while improving to 10-2, 1.99 ERA.
Kluber has had a helluva five-year run. Ignore 2015 because the ERA was just fine.
2015... 9-16, but 3.49 ERA
He’s now 86-50 for his career.
--Max Scherzer fell to 10-2, 2.00 ERA, as the Nationals lost to the Giants today, 2-0.
--And I can’t help but note Toronto’s 13-3 win over Baltimore, as the Orioles’ Alex Cobb was shelled for 9 runs in 3 2/3, and is now 2-8, 7.23 ERA!
This is the same Cobb who signed a four-year, free agent deal in the offseason for $57 million!
But, in his previous start, he allowed 1 run in 6 innings against the Mets, of course, for his second win.
--Bob Nightengale / USA TODAY
“They scouted him, analyzed him, debated over him, and a few teams actually spoke directly to him.
“But, in the end, no one would touch him.
“Forty rounds passed in Major League Baseball’s amateur draft. Some 1,214 players were taken, many with inferior talent.
“Luke Heimlich’s name was never called.
“Now, with Oregon State in the super regionals of the NCAA playoffs, and Heimlich’s collegiate eligibility expiring after the tournament, this could be the final month of his pitching career.
“Major League Baseball has provided countless opportunities to players with drug and alcohol problems, performance-enhancing drug violations, and arrests for everything from armed robbery to domestic violence charges.
“Still, no one was willing to take a chance on Heimlich, one of the finest left-handers in the draft, ahead of the repercussions and fallout for drafting a Level 1 sex offender.
“It doesn’t matter that seven years have passed since Heimlich pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting his six-year-old niece.
“It doesn’t matter that Heimlich, 22, now denies that he ever touched his older brother’s daughter, saying he signed a confession only to spare the family of further trouble.
“And, certainly, it doesn’t matter that Heimlich happens to be one of the most talented left-handed pitchers in the nation, going 15-1 with a 2.42 ERA this season for Oregon State.
“Simply, there was no franchise, no front office, and no owner willing to give Heimlich a second chance.”
Heimlich can go the Independent League route and hope that with the passage of time, and good behavior, he eventually gets someone to reach out.
But as Bob Nightengale pointed out, baseball doesn’t owe Luke Heimlich anything. You have to believe his story, and what if he’s lying?
Heimlich said his family is divided. His parents stand behind him, but refuse to speak out publicly. His sister-in-law believes her daughter, and hopes he never plays another game.
The case is closed and the records are expunged. Heimlich no longer has to register as a sex offender.
But as Nightengale sums it up:
“Heimlich’s victim won’t have to relive the trauma every time she turns on the TV and sees him play a baseball game.
“Maybe, justice truly was served.”
This weekend, in a super-regional, Oregon State advanced to the College World Series, defeating Minnesota 2-0 in their best of three, with Heimlich going 8 2/3s in the first game, an 8-1 victory. So he’s now 16-1, 2.34. North Carolina advanced as well...but with a lot of other entrants decided Monday, I’ll have the full College World Series lineup next BC.
--On the flip side of the baseball draft, the Oakland A’s selected Kyler Murray with the ninth overall pick in the draft, even though the elite athlete is slated to be the heir apparent at quarterback for Oklahoma, taking over for Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield.
Murray, who turns 21 in August, hit 10 homers and stole 10 bases in 189 plate appearances for the Sooners before suffering a hamstring injury late last month.
So the A’s are going to give Murray the full $4.765 million bonus they are allowed to give him as the ninth pick, and let him play QB this fall, after which he is to devote all his time to baseball.
Very interesting move, and a neat story line for the fall if he pans out at OU.
--Finally, we note the passing of Hall of Famer “Red” Schoendienst, who spent over 76 years in baseball – 67 of them with the St. Louis Cardinals as a player, coach, manager and special assistant. He was 95, the oldest living Hall of Famer.
The Cardinals’ principal owner and CEO William O. DeWitt Jr. said in a statement:
“Red was one of the greatest Cardinals of all time, and a beloved member of the Cardinals organization for over six decades.
“His influence on this organization cannot be overstated. Red was a great player, a great manager, and a wonderful mentor to countless players, coaches, and members of the front office. He was also a fan favorite who connected with millions of Cardinals fans across multiple generations. He will be sorely missed.”
I have to admit, I forgot just how good a player Red Schoendienst was. Like try a 10-time All-Star second baseman (primarily) who racked up 2,449 hits, hit .289, and finished in the top 4 in the MVP vote twice.
And he never struck out...never more than 32 times in a single season, including 1949 when he whiffed only 18 times in 640 at-bats, and 1957, when he was traded from the New York Giants to Milwaukee and in a combined 648 ABs, fanned only 15 times while batting .309 with 200 hits. Remarkable stuff.
Schoendienst played on World Series winners for the Cardinals in 1946 and Milwaukee in 1957, and he went on to have a successful career as manager in St. Louis, taking the Cardinals to the 1967 World Series over Boston, while losing the Series the next season to Detroit.
Schoendienst was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1989 by the Veterans Committee, a well-deserved honor for one helluva baseball career.
Simona Halep, the world’s No. 1-ranked player, finally won her first Grand Slam championship in defeating America’s Sloane Stephens, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1, on Saturday to win the French Open and join the ranks of top players who persevered before they gained a Grand Slam singles title, Halep having lost her first three major finals.
Jana Novotna also lost her first three before finally winning Wimbledon in 1998, while Kim Clijsters lost four before winning the U.S. Open in 2005.
Halep became the first Romanian woman to win at Roland Garros since Virginia Ruzici won in 1978.
Yikes, I already totally forgot Sloane Stephens won the U.S. Open last September, defeating American compatriot Madison Keys.
And on the men’s side, Rafael Nadal did it again. The greatest men’s player of all time on clay won his 11th French Open title, this time over Dominic Thiem, a 24-year-old Austrian who has a ton of talent and should be breaking through soon.
Nadal, 32, and battling more injuries this season, dropping out of three events, prevailed in straight sets and now has 17 Grand Slam singles titles, three behind Roger Federer, who skipped the clay court season to focus on Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.
This is an amazing fact. As noted by the New York Times’ Christopher Clarey, “Nadal, Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray – the so-called Big Four – have dominated the men’s game to such a degree that Thiem is only the second player currently younger than 28 to have reached a major singles final. Milos Raonic, now 27, lost to Murray in the 2016 Wimbledon final.”
But change is coming, in the form of Thiem and 21-year-old Alexander Zverev, ranked No. 3 in the world after winning the Masters 1000 title in Madrid and pushing Nadal in the Italian Open final.
Nadal’s record at the French Open is now an otherworldly 86-2, having lost only to Djokovic and Robin Soderling.
I am really pumped for Shinnecock and the U.S. Open this week. The weather forecast looks good, certainly at least the first two days (always key for the flow of a major), and Shinnecock is just a cool course.
Also pumped should be Dustin Johnson, who regained the No. 1 ranking in the world with his 18th career PGA Tour title in winning the FedEx St. Jude Classic in Memphis by a whopping six shots over Andrew Putnam, and ten shots over third-place finisher J.B. Holmes.
Johnson finished in phenomenal fashion, holing out his second shot on the par-4 18th. The dude be ready to make a run at another major.
In a rather bizarre statement during his impromptu presser on Friday, before he headed to Quebec for the G7, President Trump said that NFL players who have been protesting should instead send him names of people they believed were treated unfairly and he would consider pardoning them.
“I am going to ask all of those people to recommend to me – because that’s what they’re protesting – people that they think were unfairly treated by the justice system.
“I’m going to take a look at those applications,” he said. “And if I find, and my committee finds, that they are unfairly treated, then we will pardon them or at least them out.”
The American Civil Liberties Union said in response: “President Trump has spent much of his first 18 months in office degrading NFL players who protest police brutality and racial injustice,” said Jeff Robinson, ACLU deputy legal director. “He has tried once again to change the narrative about the work of those and other activists, betraying a fundamental misunderstanding of the cause behind these protests – and using racist dog whistles to do it.
“While we support a fair and concerted effort to address unfair sentences in the federal system, pardons alone won’t fix our deeply broken criminal justice system.”
--Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press had a piece in USA TODAY concerning his observations from the Lions’ minicamp.
“Matt Patricia is in danger of losing his players.
“This was my main observation from three days of minicamp this week. The Detroit Lions rookie coach wants things done his way. And his way means running as punishment. Lots and lots of running.
“That’s not likely to endear him to his players, many of whom are experienced professionals who don’t need or care to be treated like junior varsity tryout players.
“ ‘These are true professionals,’ rookie running back Kerryon Johnson said Tuesday while marveling at the talent level difference between college and NFL players. ‘These are grown men, 30, 35, 25.’
“Patricia’s tactic smacked of amateurism, and even though it was generally downplayed as an innocuous slap on the wrist, I can guarantee you most players don’t care for it.
“For one, it’s insulting at this level.
“For another, it’s a waste of time.
“Imagine you’re a roster-bubble player and you’re having a good practice and ready for your next rep when Patricia decides to get mad and makes everyone run, thereby cancelling one of your reps. How exactly does that help anyone? The usual way players are corrected is they get chewed out by their position coaches....
“The running, on its own, won’t lose players for Patricia. But you have to assume if he’s using these tactics in front of reporters, he could be using others privately that are equally distasteful to players.
“And don’t think I’m in favor of coddling modern-day pro athletes with inflated paychecks that match their egos. Hall of Fame linebacker Mike Singletary loved the old-school penance. I’m guessing Singletary probably also thought Bear Bryant was too soft on the Junction Boys.
“But this is a different era, with restricted practice time teams need to use judiciously. Patricia needs to find a way to prove his point more efficiently, or else he runs the risk of alienating players before the season starts.”
Patricia’s news conferences have also been pathetic, according to reports.
--Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck is still not throwing the football and the Colts are saying there is nothing to be concerned with. Recently, new coach Frank Reich said, ‘I’m not worried at all,” which is weird. It has been almost 17 months since Luck’s single surgery for a torn labrum, and he’s not throwing. WTF?!
--Phil W. alerted me to an event that wasn’t on my radar, the NCAA women’s track and field championships, specifically, the phenomenal ending that allowed the USC girls to take the title with 53 points, one point over Georgia.
What made it special, however, was that USC needed to win the last event, the 4X400 relay, to capture the championship. Georgia was in first at 52 points, Stanford second with 51, and USC needed the full ten-point relay win.
So in the final leg of the race, which you have to watch the video of, USC bobbled the baton handoff and Purdue had a solid, first-place lead with Oregon close behind.
Heading into the final turn, USC’s Kendall Ellis was way back in third place but suddenly began catching up quickly and, incredibly, Ellis ran down, first, the Oregon runner, and then Purdue’s anchor, to win in a photo finish, by .07 seconds, to give the Trojans the title.
Truly spectacular stuff. The sport at its best.
--Authorities say a 12-foot, 6-inch alligator attacked and killed a woman who was walking her dogs in Davie, Florida, on Friday.
“Search teams found the body of the victim just before 10 p.m. on Friday, according to a Saturday release from Florida’s Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission. The incident occurred at the Silver Lakes Rotary Nature Park lake in Davie.
A FWC statement identified the woman as Shizuka Matsuki, 47, of Plantation, Fla.
On Friday, a witness told authorities he saw the woman walking two dogs and then noticed the dogs barking near the water, but he did not see the woman again, said Davie Police Detective Viviana Gallinal.
“ ‘Her dogs won’t leave the pond, Davie Police Maj. Dale Engle told the Sun Sentinel Friday morning as the search began. ‘One of her dogs got bit by the gator.’
The park is near the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, a major Miami-area tourist and entertainment attraction.
From 1948 to 2017, the FWC has documented 401 people bitten by alligators, including 24 fatalities; the most recent occurring in 2016, when a 2-year-old boy playing near the water’s edge at a Walt Disney World resort was killed.
--The BBC had the following:
“A Protestant pastor in Ethiopia was killed Sunday morning after being attacked by a crocodile while baptizing people in a lake.
“ ‘He baptized the first person and he passed on to another one. All of a sudden, a crocodile jumped out of the lake and grabbed the pastor,’ resident Ketema Kairo said.”
The pastor, Docho Eshete, died after being bitten on his back, hands, and legs.
According to The Telegraph, “fishermen used fishing nets to block the crocodile from taking the pastor’s body into the water.
“Locals tried to capture the crocodile but it escaped.”
Given modern transportation methods, the croc could now be anywhere.
But congratulations to Ketema Kairo for making Bar Chat! Something to tell his children years from now.
--A bison in Yellowstone National Park gored a woman Wednesday morning after a group of park goers crowded the animal, the National Park Service said in a statement Thursday.
Kim Hancock, 59, of Santa Rosa, Calif., stood within ten yards from the bull bison when the angered creature charged. If then immediately left the area, the park service said. Point made.
Hancock sustained a hip injury but was said to be in good condition after being transported to a nearby hospital.
It was the second bison-related injury at Yellowstone this year.
‘Bison,’ one of the stupidest animals on the planet, is No. 198 on the All-Species List. ‘Man’ has plummeted to No. 423.
--Back in Florida, a woman was attacked by a monkey at a Home Depot store. WPBF reported that Marilyn H. has bite marks on her arms, bruises on her back and scratches on her face after the attack on Monday.
The victim was working at the store and was sitting outside on her break, when the monkey, “wearing a diaper and attached to a leash, walked up to her. She then tried walking the monkey into the store to see if it belonged to anyone.
“She said the sliding doors opened and the monkey got spooked and started attacking her and then left.
“The owner of the monkey said she left the animal in her truck in the parking lot and she doesn’t know how it got out.”
Marilyn H., amazingly, said, “The animal should not be euthanized. It’s not the animal’s fault. She was innocent.”
Well, then euthanize the owner!
When I first saw the headline on this story, I was thinking the monkey was a ‘greeter,’ which would be a further sign of full employment. President Trump could have gone, “You see that? The economy’s doing so well, they’re hiring monkeys! It’s true....”
--Yes, there were a ton of animal stories the past few days. Like this one:
“A Texas man required 26 doses of anti-venom after he was bitten by the severed head of a rattlesnake he had killed.
“Jennifer Sutcliffe told local station KIII-TV that her husband was working in the garden when he saw the four-foot rattlesnake and decapitated it.
“When he picked up the snake’s remains to dispose of them, the head bit him.
“A snake’s bite reflect can be triggered up to several hours after it has died. Ms. Sutcliffe told KIII-TV her husband immediately began to have seizures.
“He was airlifted from his home near Corpus Christi to hospital where he was treated with the anti-venom CroFab.”
The poor guy, one week later, is in stable condition but with some weakened kidney function.
An anti-venom doctor at the University of Arizona VIPER Institute warned against attempting to kill snakes, particularly by cutting them.
This poor victim will no doubt have nightmares the rest of his life.
--Brad K. passed along the story of a dog here in New Jersey causing a house fire.
From Patch and NJ.com:
“One very, very bad dog accidentally set his house on fire while looking for food Wednesday morning, according to multiple reports.
“A German shepherd and a puppy were home alone in their Alpha, Warren County resident, when the German shepherd began looking on the kitchen counter for food, NJ.com reports. The pup reportedly got up on its hind legs, hitting a knob to turn on the electric stove and pushing items that were on the counter onto the stovetop.
“A low-running ceiling fan blew some of the burning items onto a nearby dog bed, lighting the bed on fire and filling the home with smoke, the New York Times said. A firefighter extinguished the fire, and a police officer opened a rear door, allowing the two dogs to escape. Neither of the dogs were injured, and no humans were home at the time of the accident.”
--There was some good news this week. Two rock climbers set a new speed record ascending Yosemite’s El Capitan early Wednesday, achieving the feat in just under two hours.
Documentary photographer Austin Siadak said Alex Honnold and Tommy Caldwell scaled the 3,000-foot sheer granite wall in one hour, 58 minutes and seven seconds.
On Monday, the climbers had shaved the time down to just over two hours – a barrier compared to track’s 4-minute mile.
The peak was first climbed 60 years ago by Warren Harding and three others in 12 days following 18 months of drilling bolts and other hardware into the rock.
Incredibly, Honnold and Caldwell broke the record three times in the past week, carving more than 20 minutes off a mark set last year.
The under 2-minute assault came just days after a pair of El Capitan climbers fell to their deaths. [L.A. Times]
--Game of Thrones could be getting a prequel series, HBO has announced, one of five potential spinoffs of the series. Book author George RR Martin created the new series alongside British screenwriter Jane Goldman, with HBO ordering a pilot episode for the show, set thousands of years before the battles over the Iron Throne.
Executives say any spinoff will not be broadcast until after Game of Thrones’ final season next year.
If picked up, the prequel will chronical “the world’s descent from the golden Age of Heroes into its darkest hour,” HBO said in a statement.
“From the horrifying secrets of Westeros’ history to the true origin of the White Walkers, the mysteries of the East, to the Starks of legend...it’s not the story we think we know.”
I have nightmares about the White Walkers. It’s a big reason why I need to be home before dark.
--We note the passing of actor Jerry Maren, 98. He was the green-clad tough guy of the Lollipop Guild who famously handed Dorothy (Judy Garland) a giant lollipop in the classic “The Wizard of Oz.”
Standing at 4 feet 3, Maren was the longest-living member of the munchkins and the last surviving little person to appear in the film. He died a few weeks ago, but news of his death only began circulating Wednesday when a nephew told the New York Times. Maren had been in a San Diego nursing home.
Maren paved the way for many like him to get roles in Hollywood and helped found Little People of America.
“Hey, I’m a normal human being. All of us little people are,” Maren told the Los Angeles Times in 1993. “Some are wise guys. Some are a pain in the ass, just like the bigger folks. All the world is represented in little people.”
Maren starred in several commercials, including McDonald’s Hamburglar and Mayor McCheese, as well as Buster Brown and Little Oscar in Oscar Mayer’s 1950s ad campaigns.
124 munchkins appeared in “The Wizard of Oz,” with 96% of them pituitary dwarves, according to author Stephen Cox – who co-authored Maren’s 2008 autobiography.
And it was Jerry Maren who showered bad performers with paper as “The Gong Show’s” Confetti Man in the 1970s.
Top 3 songs 6/9/62: #1 “I Can’t Stop Loving You” (Ray Charles...great one...) #2 “Stranger On The Shore” (Mr. Acker Bilk) #3 “Lovers Who Wander” (Dion)...and...#4 “Soldier Boy” (The Shirelles) #5 “(The Man Who Shot) Liberty Valance” (Gene Pitney) #6 “It Keeps Right On A-Hurtin’” (Johnny Tillotson) #7 “Second Hand Love” (Connie Francis) #8 “The One Who Really Loves You” (Mary Wells) #9 “Palisades Park” (Freddy Cannon) #10 “Playboy” (The Marvelettes)
Baseball Quiz Answer: Post-1920, only four with an ERA of 1.60 or below....
Bob Gibson, 1.12, 1968
Dwight Gooden, 1.53, 1985
Greg Maddux, 1.56, 1994
Luis Tiant, 1.60, 1968
Next Bar Chat, Thursday.