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[Posted Wed. a.m.]
Baseball Quiz: Tuesday night, the Dodgers’ Chase Utley was hit by a pitch for the 200th time in his career. Modern day (players with careers post-1920), who are the four ahead of Utley on the all-time hit by pitch list. Answer below.
--What a depressing Monday night for Mets fans. Jacob deGrom was brilliant for 7 1/3, striking out 12, but he had thrown 103 pitches and given up two hits in the top of the eighth, Mets leading 6-1, and with the best bullpen in baseball thus far, time for him to sit down. No one can second guess manager Mickey Callaway’s call to take him out (though a few say he should have left deGrom in for one more batter, before going with lefty Jerry Blevins to face Bryce Harper).
Only the bullpen imploded in spectacular fashion, allowing six runs, two charged to deGrom, and the Mets went on to lose 8-6, the Nationals moving to 44-16 against the Mets in Citi Field.
Mike Vaccaro / New York Post
“Can one calamitous inning undo 2 ½ brilliant weeks? We are about to find out.
“ ‘We can’t let this put us into a tailspin,’ Mickey Callaway said.
“But if one inning can be that perilous, that ruinous, this was that kind of inning, even for game 15 of an otherwise fabulous season. Because over the course of one endless, torturous inning, the Mets went from dancing on the graves of the Washington Nationals to turning Citi Field into a funeral parlor.”
So it didn’t get any better Tuesday, as the Mets lost to the Nats’ Gio Gonzalez, 5-2, to drop to 12-4, the Nationals 9-9. Gonzalez is a staggering 11-1, 1.78 ERA in 16 career starts at Citi Field, with the Nationals now 45-16 there.
The Mets were 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position. Once again the weather was cold and damp and lousy, but it didn’t hurt Washington.
Is this really the start of the tailspin?
--The Yankees lost to the Marlins at The Little Band Box in the Bronx, 9-1, last night with Giancarlo Stanton going 0-for-4, dropping his home batting average to .086, 3-for-35, with 20 strikeouts. [He’s hit .323 on the road.]
--The Shohei Ohtani Show hit its first speed bump, Ohtani only lasting two innings in his third start (3 runs, 66 pitches, and a blister), a 10-1 defeat to Boston in Anaheim before a capacity crowd.
--The Oakland A’s had a unique giveaway. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of their first game in Oakland – and as a way to attract disaffected fans – the A’s did not charge admission or parking and were rewarded with their biggest crowd of the season at 46,028, some 2,000 shy of capacity for baseball at the Oakland Coliseum. The A’s beat the White Sox 10-2. [No word on how the shaky plumbing held up. The rats were startled by the size of the crowd. Lots of post-game opportunities for them.]
--Sunday night after I posted, Bartolo Colon, who I mentioned in that column, flirted with perfection, taking a perfect game into the eighth inning against the Astros. A leadoff walk to Carlos Correa and a Josh Reddick double ended the bid by Colon, who would have become the oldest pitcher to throw a no-hitter.
It’s amazing to look back at Nolan Ryan and realize he threw the last of his record seven no-nos at 44, 90 days. [Colon turns 45 next month.]
Unfortunately, Bartolo only received a no-decision, Texas wining it 3-1 with two in the tenth inning. In the process, though, he lowered his ERA to 1.45.
Houston veteran righty Justin Verlander threw eight innings of one-hit ball in the game, but that was a solo home run by Rangers catcher Robinson Chirinos, Verlander fanning 11. He is now 2-0 with a 1.35 ERA in four starts.
--The Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo is among those complaining about the early cold weather.
“I think playing in the cold sucks,” he said. “I was thinking about this the other day. When you think of Cubs and Cardinals, you think of a beautiful Saturday at Wrigley Field. You don’t think about playing in 20 degrees.”
Rizzo said the players would accept less money to play fewer games. It’s a potential topic for the next Collective Bargaining Agreement, a 154-game schedule, though I don’t see it.
--Monday, the Miami Heat played a perfect game in evening their series against Philadelphia, 1-1, taking Game 2, 113-101 as Dwyane Wade turned back the clock with 28 points in 26 minutes off the bench, while Wake Forest’s James Johnson was 7-of-7 from the field, 18 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals.
Tuesday, Toronto beat Washington 130-119 to go up 2-0, while Boston went up 2-0 against Milwaukee 120-106.
The mini-shocker was New Orleans winning the first two of its series with Portland on the road, last night winning 111-102. For the Trail Blazers, Damian Lillard had another sub-par game, just 7-of-18 from the field.
--The saga of the Spurs and Kawhi Leonard goes on, Leonhard having played in all of nine games this season due to a quad injury, none since Jan. 13. Coach Gregg Popovich said Leonard remains in New York, where he is continuing his rehabilitation, and Spurs GM R.C. Buford has confirmed this.
Asked whether there was value in Leonard spending time supporting his teammates during the playoffs, despite not being cleared to play, Popovich declined to address the question, except to say, “You’ll have to ask Kawhi and his group that question. So far, they say that he’s not ready to go.”
LaMarcus Aldridge, when asked about the whole Leonard situation, said “no comment.”
--We note the passing of Hall of Famer Hal Greer, the great guard with Philadelphia and the Syracuse Nationals. He was 81.
Greer spent 15 years in the NBA, was a champion with Philadelphia in 1967 and a 10-time All-Star. He is the 76ers’ all-time leader in points, games and minutes played, and in 1996, was named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History.
Greer averaged over 20 points per game each of seven seasons in a row, 1963-70, and he was one of my early faves, growing up watching ABC’s NBA Game of the Week which was on Sunday afternoons and featured many a Boston-Philadelphia matchup.
From 1961 to 1971, Greer averaged between 18 and 24 points per game. Both he and fellow legend Wilt Chamberlain finally ended the Celtics’ eight-year run as NBA champions in 1967.
Greer was the first 76er to have his uniform retired, No. 15, in 1976. In a statement, the team said: “In addition to his historic contributions on the court, Greer will forever be remembered as a true gentleman who used the tremendous platform of basketball to uplift and inspire others.”
--Finally, on a college basketball note, my Wake Forest Demon Deacons, hot off an 11-20, 4-14 ACC season, have now seen five players leave in the past 2 ½ months, as Phil W. gave me the depressing news. The two that matter being Keyshawn Woods, who is graduating but had a year of eligibility left, with most of us thinking he was coming back, and center Doral Moore, who stepped up his game bigly this year.
Moore thinks he is NBA ready and hired an agent, which is nuts. Yes, potentially, he is a late first-round pick next year if he continued to improve, but he won’t sniff the draft this year.
But now there is talk senior-to-be guard Bryant Crawford, who has NBA potential, just not now, might hire an agent too.
I’d commit hari-kari, but as us Wake fans say these days, we’re a football school. [And perennial soccer power, and No. 1 in the country in men’s tennis this spring....so we got that goin’ for us. Plus we’ll always have Arnie and Tim Duncan!]
[And we did recently sweep Boston College in a three-game baseball series up in Chestnut Hill, winning your editor another free lunch at world famous Ferraro’s of Westfield, N.J., against B.C. alum Steve D. Because it was a sweep, Steve said that under the regulations, I also earned a free coffee.]
--The expansion Las Vegas Golden Knights completed a sweep of the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday, 1-0 in L.A., as Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 127 of 130 shots in the four games.
Fleury was selected by Vegas in the expansion draft after he helped Pittsburgh win three Stanley Cup titles. He now has 66 career postseason victories, 11 shutouts.
So Vegas becomes the first franchise in NHL history to sweep a postseason series in its inaugural season.
This comes after the Golden Knights became the first modern-era expansion team in the NHL, NBA, NFL or MLB to win its division in its inaugural season, excluding mergers and all-expansion divisions.
--This time of year, casual hockey fans who don’t tune in except during the Stanley Cup Playoffs are once again reminded of the greatness of “Doc” Emrick, the greatest broadcaster of any sport, ever.
The Wall Street Journal’s Jason Gay recently sat down with him in Boston, between Games 1 and 2 of the Bruins-Maple Leafs series.
“Over his five decades at the microphone, the Indiana-raised Emrick has called by his own estimate, somewhere around 3,600 hockey games, to the point where his voice is synonymous with this frenetic, fast-moving sport. Emrick’s erudite preparation and relentlessness – a fan famously counted him using 153 verbs to describe puck movement in one game – could make any action sound interesting. As Al Michaels once said: ‘You have a cockroach race in your basement, he’d bring it to life.’
“I’m in Boston with a goofy idea: We asked Emrick if he’d read the first sentences of some great books: ‘A Farewell to Arms,’ ‘The Great Gatsby,’ ‘Pride & Prejudice,’ ‘Slouching Towards Bethlehem,’ and ‘The Cat in the Hat.’ Trust me: you have not lived until you have heard Doc Emrick (the ‘Doc’ is a nod to his Ph.D. in communications) read Dr. Seuss with the same crackling passion that enlivens a do-or-die Game 7.”
Jason Gay asked Emrick if he ever flat-out lost his voice.
“Yeah,” says Doc. “In the minors, of course. But then you had to keep working. One night in Saginaw, I took cough syrup with me. And at every stop, you try and swig it. On the bus afterward, I looked at the back label: 35% alcohol. But it was radio, and it was the minors, and I figured most people thought: ‘He was hammered on the air.’”
“Emrick knows hockey’s itinerant life very well, having spent years in the minors before getting his NHL shot. I ask him about the tragedy that’s shaken the entire sport: the bus-truck collision in Saskatchewan that claimed the lives of 16 players and personnel with the Humboldt Broncos, a junior hockey club.
“ ‘Well, even for NHL players, the bus is where your world gets put together professionally,’ Emrick says softly. ‘Whether you’re an NHL guy just riding the bus to get to the next charter flight, or you’re riding 12 hours to get home from a game - the bus is where everybody out-hollers one another after a win, or where the only thing you hear after a loss is an occasional interjection, and the driver knows to say nothing.
“ ‘The bus is your haven when you’re not at home,’ Emrick continues. ‘And to have that interrupted like that is shocking to everyone, and to everyone who’s ever ridden a bus in hockey.
“ ‘To have all of that taken, all that quickly...’
“It remains shocking, hard to process. Emrick speaks of the tributes, like the hockey sticks being left outside homes in Canada and around the world, in solidarity with Humboldt and the lives lost.
“That’s the spirit of hockey. And so is, undeniably, The Voice of Doc Emrick.”
CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora had an interesting top ten, the draft now just a week away. He expects some wheeling and dealing prior.
1. Cleveland: Josh Allen, QB
2. Buffalo (trade with Giants): Sam Darnold, QB
3. Jets: Baker Mayfield, QB...yippee! C’mon, Jets...take him.
4. Cleveland: Bradley Chubb, DE
5. Giants (trade with Bills via Broncos): Saquon Barkley, RB
6. Indianapolis: Denzel Ward, CB
7. Tampa Bay: Minkah Fitzpatrick DB
8. Chicago: Quenton Nelson, G
9. San Francisco: Tremaine Edmunds, LB
10. New England (trade with Raiders): Josh Rosen, QB
--David Dusek of Golfweek:
“There is a reason most top golfers take off the week after a major championship. They’re exhausted, probably more mentally than physically, and they need to recharge.
“But for the winner, the whirlwind is just getting started as the final putt on the 72nd hole drops. Patrick Reed learned that after he won the Masters. After signing his scorecard, Reed was whisked to the Butler Cabin for a presentation that was broadcast on CBS, then repeated the ceremony on the practice green for the assembled dignitaries and patrons before heading to the clubhouse for a dinner in his honor. The next day he was in New York, appearing as a guest on talk shows before lighting the Empire State Building. Sleep probably has been a previous commodity, and demands on his time won’t let up any time soon.
“That begs a simple question: Is there such a thing as a Masters hangover? ...going inside the numbers reveals that playing well following a win at Augusta National is hard. Very hard.
“Since 2006, only three golfers have won another tournament in the season after winning the Masters. Jordan Spieth won three, including the U.S. Open; Adam Scott won once; and Zach Johnson won once. Just garnering top-5 and top-10 finishes has proved to be a challenge for several players.”
Also since 2006, when the Players Championship was moved to a date after the Masters, three green jacket winners didn’t even play in the tournament, while the best performance by a Masters winner at the Players since 2006 was turned in by Angel Cabrera in 2009, when he finished tied for 14th.
--Gotta love how Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola chose to go golfing with his son, and pro Tommy Fleetwood, on Sunday rather than watch Manchester United suffer a shocking loss to West Brom that handed Man City the Premier League title in absentia.
Guardiola said he didn’t watch the game and had no intention of checking in while playing. The three played at Sandiway Golf Club, about 30 miles south of Manchester. [Golfweek]
--Kyle Busch won the rain-delayed NASCAR Cup Series race at Bristol (Tenn.) on Monday. Steady rain had forced NASCAR to suspend the race after Lap 205 of 500 on Sunday, and it resumed Monday afternoon, with Busch beating Kyle Larson for his second straight win and 45th of his career.
NASCAR, admittedly, has zero buzz this year. The sport is struggling, and not helped with the retirements the last two years of Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart, for starters. It needs Bubba Wallace to win.
Wallace led five laps on Monday, the first laps led by an African-American driver since Wendell Scott won in Jacksonville in Dec. 1963. Wallace finished 16th.
--Madison Square Garden is dark during the playoffs for the first time since 2010 with both the Knicks and Rangers failing to qualify. As Aaron Elstein of Crain’s New York Business reports, Madison Square Garden Co. doesn’t release individual information about its teams, but it discloses enough to allow one to make educated guesses and “Each postseason home game generates about $2.3 million in revenue for the Garden, according to a 2013 estimate from Albert Fried & Co. Apply that figure to the Rangers’ six home playoff games last year and you can deduce that the Garden generated $9.2 million more in revenue from that postseason than from the previous one, which consisted of just two home games. And what do you know? The Garden said operating earnings from its sports teams increased by $9.4 million last year. Playoffs often are the difference between a profitable season and breaking even.”
--What an incredibly awful day it was in Boston, Monday, as they ran the Boston Marathon in icy rain and a near-gale headwind. Desiree Linden splashed her way to victory, becoming the first American woman to win the race since 1985. Sarah Sellers, another American, running in just the second marathon of her life, finished second.
Linden, the two-time Olympian and 2011 Boston runner-up, pulled away on Heartbreak Hill and ran alone through Brookline to finish in an unofficial time of 2 hours, 39 minutes, 54 seconds, the slowest time for a women’s winner since 1978, and totally understandable.
Pete M. and I were reminiscing about our run in the 1996 Dublin Marathon, where the second-half of the race was in a driving wind and rain...as miserable an experience as I’ve ever been through. Then again, if we were good, we would have finished in mostly decent weather.
[Yuki Kawauchi, 31, became the first Japanese man to win in Boston since 1987.]
--So the other day I opted to note a football (soccer) game in Moscow, Arsenal vs. CSKA Moscow, where many of the CSKA fans chanted racist abuse at Arsenal’s black players. I said this was going to be a huge problem at the upcoming World Cup.
Two days after I wrote this, FIFA announced it has begun disciplinary proceedings against the Russian Football Union for fan conduct at a friendly between France and Russia last month in St. Petersburg. FIFA hasn’t had a chance to review the Arsenal game.
If the abuse continues in the early games of the World Cup, don’t be surprised if FIFA demands the games be played in mostly empty stadiums. They’ve done it before.
--We note the passing of actor R. Lee Ermey, known for his role as foul-mouthed Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in the Vietnam War film “Full Metal Jacket.” He was 74. Ermey was a real-life Marine turned actor who played a host of military men during his career. He died of complications from pneumonia.
Born in Kansas, 1944, Ermey was a staff sergeant in the Marine Corps in the 1960s and early ‘70s, serving tours in Japan and Vietnam. He was a drill-instructor.
So he was able to draw on his military experience for his breakout role in Stanley Kubrick’s 1987 film, winning a Golden Globe nomination for his portrayal of a hardened drill instructor putting young Marine Corps recruits through basic training.
As the BBC reports, “One popular story about Ermey is that he was initially hired as a technical advisor, but Kubrick was so impressed with his demonstration of a drill instructor’s role that he was offered the part.”
--From USA TODAY: “The roaming sentinel, a male python named Argo, with a surgically implanted tracking device, needed just three days to lead researchers to the largest trove of pythons found yet in Collier County.
“It was a landmark discovery of the recently completed breeding season, just before Valentine’s Day. Argo had just found a 100-pound female python getting ready to lay eggs in a culvert. The female was captured, and Argo was let loose again to be tracked.
“Three days later and a half-mile away, a team with the Conservancy of Southwest Florida found the invasive snake. This time he was surrounded....
“Including Argo, (a female) was with seven male Burmese pythons. The eight snakes, called a breeding aggregation, were the most found in one place in Southwest Florida and the western Everglades, where the pythons have been steadily spreading for years.”
Seven pythons were euthanized, while Argo was released again.
What makes pythons so hard to track is they leave no trace of their prey. The animals are swallowed whole. The only way to know what they’re eating is to, err, you know, catch ‘em and dissect them.
--Meanwhile, SHARK! Suddenly, we’ve had a plethora of attacks.
Avi Selk of the Washington Post writes about the shark prone area of southwest Australia, where surfers are attracted to the mouth of the Margaret River because of crystalline water and big, gorgeous waves.
“Less clear is what has recently drawn at least one large, aggressive shark to this coastline....
“Attacks are a known risk on these beaches. A relatively small shark bit off a chunk of someone’s foot in January. A Margaret River resident wasn’t so lucky in 2013, when he became the area’s third shark fatality in a decade.”
But last week a pro surfing competition at the Margaret River went off as planned and Monday morning (April 9), “shortly before the start of round two in the women’s event a tournament crew worker was surfing a few miles north of Margaret River – near Gracetown, where the man in 2013 had been killed.
“The man was still visible from the beach when what one witness described as a great white shark knocked him off his board, and he started to scream.
“Mikel Basanies told 9 News it attacked the man three times over the next 20 seconds, even as he tried to beat it off.
“ ‘There was a lot more thrashing around,’ Peter Jovic told The Australian Broadcasting Corp. ‘After that it was hard to see what was going on.’
“Jovic saw the crew worker, identified as 37-year-old Alejandro Travaglini, finally getting away by ‘miraculously bodysurfing into a little wave.’ Others swam over and helped him paddle to shore, where his legs, both bleeding, were tied off with ropes, and he was carried inland on his own surfboard.”
Travaglini was then choppered to Perth and said to be in serious but stable condition after surgery.
Well the competition, after a delay for the deployment of drones and Jet Skis, continued. It was a very clear day and any sharks would have been easy to spot. Later, a 13-foot shark was indeed spotted, the AP reported.
By afternoon a sign had been posted at the entrance to a nearby surf break, about a half mile from the morning’s attack. The sign depicted a man swimming, a shark, and a large red X. Jason Longrass, 41, would later tell reporters that he failed to see it.
So he went into the water. He said he’d heard there was a shark around and, “I thought, ‘Ah, yes. There are sharks in the ocean.’”
“I was having a ball,” Longrass said. Then he spotted a large shadow in the water.
“It was b-lining straight at me,” Longrass said. He slapped the water, but the shark only sped up.
Longrass held up his surf board to the camera. A semicircle of tooth marks, as large as his head, were imprinted on either side.
“There’s a tooth that’s buried itself in my leg, luckily removed,” he told 9 News. “And he began to trash on my board, and luckily my leg wasn’t attached to him.”
Longrass’ injuries were minor. [The surfing competition was later cancelled.]
But then Monday, in the New York Post, courtesy of Janet Tappin Coelho of The Sun, you had gruesome photos of a beachgoer’s arms and legs that were ripped to shreds in a horrific shark attack off Piedade Beach in Recife, Brazil. Recife is a large city on the eastern tip of the country.
“The severity of Pablo de Melo’s injuries is clear in the disturbing images, which show deep cuts on both his limbs and the sand around him caked in blood.
“It is believed that Melo, 34, only survived because two men, who were in the water nearby, risked their own lives by bravely chasing off the beast and hauling Melo out of the water.”
Lifeguards and fire officers then carried out emergency first aid and he was choppered to a hospital, where at last word, the tourist, who was vacationing with his family, had his right leg removed because the wounds were so bad.
A spokesperson for the health department added: “They diverted arteries and veins...to the injured areas in his upper and lower arms and restored blood supply.”
The fellow was on life-support.
“Shocking footage showed the blood-soaked victim, with chunks missing from his arms and legs, lying in agony on the beach while rescuers tied tourniquets around his limbs.”
A snack seller on the beach said: “Someone started shouting shark, shark because they said they had seen a shark fin. They tried to alert people in the water and particularly this man, who was near where the shark appeared. But he didn’t have time to get out of the water before he was attacked many times.
“I’ve been working on this beach for 25 years,” said Maria Lourenco, “and during this time I have witnessed a number of ferocious attacks. It was horrible to see. Each time it is very frightening and sad.”
A firefighter said Melo was swimming in waist deep water. The area is marked by warning signs for sharks. It is believed this was a bull or tiger shark, both species known to prowl close to the water’s edge.
Which is yet another reason why I will never swim in the ocean again. I’ll drink beer from the water’s edge instead, thank you very much.
It turns out, according to The Sun, that in this area of Brazil, since 1992, 24 people have been killed by sharks.
You won’t find this stat in the International Shark Attack File, which is a shill for the Global Tourism Cartel.
--I watch just three music shows a year...the two country music awards shows and the Grammys, catching most of Sunday’s ACM Awards, where I was pleased to see Sam Hunt won Single of the Year with “Body Like A Back Road,” while Chris Stapleton won for Album of the Year with “From a Room, Vol. 1.”
Jason Aldean was Entertainer of the Year; Miranda Lambert Female Vocalist, and Chris Stapleton Male Vocalist.
But most everyone was curious to see Carrie Underwood, after all the stories on her facial injuries from a serious fall she took at home months ago. She looked fine....as in her usual beautiful self.
Top 3 songs for the week 4/16/66: #1 “(You’re My) Soul and Inspiration” (The Righteous Brothers) #2 “Daydream” (The Lovin’ Spoonful) #3 “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)” (Cher)...and...#4 “Secret Agent Man” (Johnny Rivers) #5 “Time Won’t Let Me” (The Outsiders) #6 “19th Nervous Breakdown” (The Rolling Stones) #7 “The Ballad of the Green Berets” (SSgt Barry Sadler) #8 “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry)” (B.J. Thomas) #9 “Good Lovin’” (The Young Rascals) #10 “Kick” (Paul Revere and the Raiders...what an outstanding week...not a bad tune in the bunch....)
Baseball Quiz Answer: Modern-day hit by pitch, career.
Craig Biggio 285
Don Baylor 267
Jason Kendall 254
Ron Hunt 243
Chase Utley 200
Frank Robinson 198
Next Bar Chat, Monday.