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A Time To Mourn
[Posted Wed. a.m.]
Auto Racing Quiz: As many of you barbecue on the Fourth, you may be in a crowd with a few folks that actually like auto racing (there are a few of us out there), so here is one every good racing fan should know. Name the only driver to win championships in both the Monster Energy / NASCAR Cup Series and IndyCar. Answer below.
Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest Quiz: Joey Chestnut broke his own record last year in eating 74 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes. But the women’s all-time champ is Sonya “Black Widow” Thomas. How many did she eat (without a reversal of fortune) when she set the record in 2012 that still stands today? Answer below.
--What an awful day in the sports world Monday as we learned the passing of 27-year-old Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs. Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room in Southlake, Texas, the Angels in town to play the Texas Rangers. The Southlake Police Department did not offer a cause of death but indicated neither foul play nor suicide was suspected. Monday’s game between the Angels and Rangers in Arlington was postponed.
Skaggs grew up an Angels fan in Santa Monica and joined the organization as a first-round draft pick. Though he battled injuries throughout his career, going 28-38, 4.41 ERA, he had begun to break through in 2018, when he went 8-10, 4.02, and this year was 7-7, 4.29, in 15 starts.
Former Angels manager Mike Scioscia said, “Tyler was one of the bright, young lights in this world. We all feel the pain of his loss and pray for some comfort to his family.”
Skaggs was one of the more popular players on the Angels, bearing the nickname “Swaggy,” and now that he was healthy, and newly wed to his wife, Carli, in December, life was good for him.
There was some sickening symmetry to Skaggs’ death as it was a decade ago when 22-year-old pitcher Nick Adenhart was killed by a drunk driver.
“Words cannot express the deep sadness we feel right now,” outfielder Mike Trout wrote. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Carli and their families. Remembering him as a great teammate, friend, and person who will forever remain in our heats...We love you, 45.”
“I know he was very close with his mom,” general manager Billy Eppler said. “They raised a great son, and it showed with how people gravitated toward him. He always found the good side of everything, the good side of people.”
Skaggs last pitched Saturday against the A’s, on the losing end of a 4-0 Oakland win, Skaggs going 4 1/3, allowing two runs, four walks, while striking out 5.
The Angels selected Skaggs with the 40th pick in the 2009 draft, joining one of the most decorated draft classes in franchise history, chosen in the same year as Trout, pitcher Garrett Richards and outfielder Randal Grichuk.
It took a while for Skaggs to reach the majors. In 2010, the Angels shipped him to the Arizona Diamondbacks as part of a four-player package in exchange for pitcher Dan Haren. Skaggs reached the big leagues in 2012 at age 20 but could not find a foothold in Arizona, and the D’Backs dealt him back to Anaheim before the 2014 season.
But Skaggs required Tommy John surgery in the summer of 2014. He made it back two years later but was limited to 26 appearances combined in the majors in 2016 and 2017. Then he started 24 games last year and began to show his real stuff.
Gabe Lacques / USA TODAY
“At some point, the Los Angeles Angels will try to beat back the heartbreak and play baseball again.
“The big leagues are relentless that way, the calendar never pausing for life and only briefly for death, and so the Angels will be asked to process, mourn and honor Tyler Skaggs, their beloved 27-year-old lefty who died at the team’s hotel in Southlake, Texas, on Monday, and then go out and entertain the masses.
“Little is known about Skaggs’ death – suicide and foul play were swiftly ruled out by Southlake police – but it’s easy enough to piece together the scant bits of information and realize the unspeakable and sudden tragedy visited upon Skaggs’ family, friends, teammates and the extended baseball community.
“And whenever the Angels play again – almost certainly not Tuesday in Arlington, maybe later this week in Houston – they will take the field knowing there’s only one certainty going forward.
“You never really do get past it.
“This is an organization that 10 years and three months ago saw a 22-year-old throw the game of his life, only to see it all taken from him by a drunk driver just hours later.
“One decade after Nick Adenhart’s passing on April 9, 2009, it’s no less gutting for those that were closest to him.
“ ‘There is something to be seen through grief,’ Duane Gigeous, Adenhart’s stepfather, told the (Hagerstown, Md.) Herald-Mail this year. ‘It’s been 10 years since we have been able to talk to him. A lot of individual days go by, but the pain still makes it feel like it was just yesterday. Ten years is a weird thing. He’d be 32...that’s unfathomable.’
“Those 2009 Angels had six months of baseball ahead of them, a season that ended just two victories shy of the World Series. The day they clinched the American League West, staff ace Jered Weaver led the club to the outfield wall at Angel Stadium, where they gathered in front of a logo memorializing Adenhart.
“These Angels are 42-43, playoff long-shots but gaining confidence with the return of key players such as outfielder Justin Upton and another generational performance from Mike Trout.
“Now they will be missing a man whose charisma, measured swagger and determination were as key to his club as the flashes of brilliance provided by his surgically repaired left arm....
“The Angels never lost faith, seeing him through Tommy John rehab and carrying him into his arbitration years. Last December, he married Carli Miles, and it’s not hard to imagine a life they might have dreamed about, perhaps laying down roots for another generation of Skaggs in Tyler’s hometown, where his mother Debbie was a well-regarded softball coach and remains a physical education teacher at Santa Monica High School.
“There are innumerable other details and what-ifs the Angels are processing, hopes and dreams that Skaggs harbored and only they and his closest friends and family know. Somehow, they must compartmentalize all that and go compete at the highest level of sport.
“The 2009 Angels proved that’s possible, and two months after Adenhart’s passing came a momentous day in club history: They drafted Trout 27th overall. Thirteen picks later, they selected Skaggs out of Santa Monica High School.
“Baseball can’t help but replenish itself, through wins and losses and even tragedy. Someone will replace Skaggs in the Angels rotation, and maybe years from now, a pitcher they drafted just last month will exceed his accomplishments.
“Yet there is no replacing the person, particularly an objectively decent and unifying force like Skaggs. Tragically, the Angels already know this all too well.”
The Yankees’ Giancarlo Stanton had a unique perspective on Skaggs’ death, Stanton being a teammate of the late Jose Fernandez during the 2016 season when Fernandez suddenly died.
Stanton said the players should expect to feel some anger about grieving “in a fish bowl,” and he encouraged the team to stick together through that.
“The first days back to schedule are the weirdest feeling,” Stanton wrote on Instagram, “from the energy to the questions to having to walk past his locker.”
So after postponing Monday’s game, Tuesday the Angels were able to focus on the game at hand and beat the Rangers 9-4. But it wasn’t easy for the players to concentrate.
Mike Trout said he could barely do so during his first at-bat because “all I was thinking about was Tyler,” the star center fielder said. “It was just a different feeling, you know, just in shock.”
When closer Hansel Robles secured the final out and a three-game losing streak had ended, Angels manager Brad Ausmus and the entire coaching staff lined up in front of the team’s dugout and hugged each player as they walked off the field.
‘That wasn’t planned,” Ausmus said. “It just felt right.”
As of this writing, police and the Skaggs family are keeping any details private. We may not know until October, when results of an autopsy would have to be released to the public.
--The other day I noted that Pittsburgh’s first-time All-Star, first baseman Josh Bell, is on a pace for 100 extra-base hits, a huge achievement, and all Bell did Monday is slam three home runs, boosting his season total to 25, to go along with 29 doubles and 3 triples...57 XBH in Pittsburgh’s 84 games.
Bell had seven RBIs on the night, the Bucs beating the Cubs 18-5. Also in the contest, Pittsburgh’s Adam Frazier went 5-for-6, tying a major league record with four doubles. And Colin Moran had a career-high five hits.
--The Mets had a nice come from behind win over the Yankees last night, scoring three in the bottom of the eighth to take the first of two at Citi Field 4-2. The Yanks had won 13 of their last 14, averaging 8.2 runs per game (helped by scoring 29 in the two games in London), while the Mets came in losers of seven of eight.
The Yankees also saw their MLB-record home run streak of 31 straight games end last night.
Before the game the Yanks put first baseman Luke Voit on the IL with an abdominal strain but he is expected back after the All-Star break.
--In the Red Sox’ 10-6 win over the Blue Jays last night in Toronto, Boston’s Rafael Devers continued his torrid hitting, going 4 for 5 with two home runs and six RBIs. Devers over his last 16 games is 31 for 66, .470, with 14 ribbies. Unfortunately for the third baseman, he missed out on making the All-Star Game, ditto teammate Xander Bogaerts.
--In a startling finish last night at Chavez Ravine, the Dodgers trailed the Diamondbacks 4-3 heading to the bottom of the ninth. Arizona brought in closer Greg Holland. After two quick outs, Chris Taylor fell behind 0-and-2, but then Holland missed with four straight sliders.
Holland then walked three more, including the tying run. Enter T.J. McFarland, who promptly walked Cody Bellinger and the Dodgers had a walk-off win of the most unusual variety.
--For the record, the starters for the All-Star Game....
C – Wilson Contreras, Chicago
1B – Freddie Freeman, Atlanta
2B – Ketel Marte, Arizona
SS – Javier Baez, Chicago
3B – Nolan Arenado, Colorado
OF – Christian Yelich, Milwaukee
OF – Cody Bellinger, L.A.
OF – Roland Acuna Jr., Atlanta
C – Gary Sanchez, New York
1B – Carlos Santana, Cleveland
2B – DJ LeMahieu, New York
SS – Jorge Polanco, Minnesota
3B – Alex Bregman, Houston
OF – Mike Trout, L.A.
OF – Michael Brantley, Houston
OF – George Springer, Houston
DH – Hunter Pence, Texas
As a Mets fan, kind of psyched Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil made the team (along with Jacob deGrom).
And it’s kind of funny that neither Bryce Harper nor Manny Machado made it.
Almost half the players on the two rosters, 31, are first-time All-Stars (out of 64).
--The Yankees signed a 16-year-old center fielder, Jasson Dominguez, perhaps the most highly regarded prospect from Latin America in a decade, the deal including a $5.1 million bonus, according to ESPN.
The 5-foot-11, 195-pound Dominguez is a powerful switch hitter with speed and a strong throwing arm. He won’t be able to play until next season, but the Yankees’ spending 95 percent of their international bonus pool money on one player speaks volumes. Other teams were hoping to nab him, including the Los Angeles Angels.
Dominguez’ nickname is The Martian, because scouts said of him even as a 13-year-old that there was no way he was from this world.
--A total of 3,421 home runs were hit in 1,255 games through Sunday, an average of 2.73 per game. That is up 19% from the 2.28 average through June last year, according to Elias. Batters are on pace to hit 6,624 homers...up from the record 6,105 set in 2017 and up from 5,585 last year.
--Back to the celebration of the ’69 Mets at Citi Field on Saturday, yes, I knew they screwed up with two players, Jim Gosger and Jesse Hudson, running a video saying they were among the deceased when they are both very much alive. I just opted not to report it. Gosger, after all, only played in ten games, going 2-for-15 at the plate, while Jesse Hudson pitched in one game, two innings, his only appearance in the major leagues.
That said, Dennis Young of the New York Daily News reached out to the 76-year-old Gosger at his Michigan home on Monday, and he said he got a text from a friend on Facebook who was at the game, notifying him he was deceased, according to the scoreboard.
The Mets apologized the next day to both Gosger and Hudson with messages on the scoreboard.
But of course it hurt for Gosger, and Jesse (whose name the Mets misspelled to boot). Gosger did say he didn’t mind not being invited, but what hurt him most, looking back, is he didn’t get a World Series ring, which all employees, coaches and so on, received. They sent him a check for $100, for a share. “I sent it back to Ed Kranepool, who was our clubhouse representative, and said ‘buy yourself a beer.’ I don’t need your money. But I really wanted the ring in ’69.”
Gosger added: “I had contacted the Mets, probably three years after I retired [his last MLB season was 1974], and I asked ‘Can I buy the ring?’ And they said, well, it’s $3,500. Never mind, keep the ring.
“Things like that, they’re memories. They’re good memories. It just stuck in my craw. Some guy from the Mets called and apologized on Saturday night. I didn’t know who it was, I said ‘it’s over with, forget it.’”
Three things. Obviously it is inexcusable the Mets didn’t do some very basic research to double-check their list, but on the issue of the $100 and the ring, those were different times. The World Series share was miniscule compared to today,* and when you’re dividing it up, Jim Gosger obviously didn’t deserve anything close to even a half share.
*Baseball Almanac says the winning “players’ share” in 1969 was about $18,000 vs. $438,000 for 2018, but it didn’t specify how the shares were broken down further, which they can be, to include coaches, front office folks, players only on the team a brief time, etc.
As for the ring, every team is different. A lot of it, if not all of it, is dependent on ownership, and how much they are willing to shell out...and for how many. Amos Otis, according to Gosger, didn’t receive a ring either and Otis played in 48 games, to Gosger’s 10.
So it’s an ugly situation, but with some elements of the story, you have to understand the era. I mean in terms of the World Series player share, that matched some of their salaries, for crying out loud. Tom Seaver made only $40,000 in ’69. Ed Kranepool about $25,000.
But everything else about the story is classic Mets; a truly dreadful franchise these days.
NBA Free Agency Fallout
--I posted last time only after the Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant to Brooklyn news broke, and then later some of us were surprised that D’Angelo Russell, who was expendable with the Irving signing, was part of a sign-and-trade to Golden State, not the Lakers, as was assumed. Russell will sign a four-year, $117 million contract.
To absorb Russell’s salary, Golden State had to deal veteran Andre Iguodala to the Grizzlies. The Warriors will reportedly receive protected first-round picks in 2024 and 2025, and un unprotected pick in 2026 (not that I’ll be alive then to care), and there were other players involved but after a while, you just want to know where the major stars are going and move on.
But for D’Angelo, he is landing in a great spot, and will receive heavy playing time next season with Klay Thompson out with his torn ACL.
--As for the Knicks, I’m still glad we passed on Durant, and have no problem with our haul of Julius Randle and Bobby Portis to fill the vacant power-forward slot, and veteran forward Taj Gibson, a defensive specialist who will be a good influence on the young core.
Among the other players the Knicks picked up, one intriguing one is point guard Elfrid Payton. The guy can play, Knicks fans.
According to various reports, though, the Knicks not only never even got a meeting with Durant, but there are stories, I’m guessing that are true, that DeAndre Jordan, who also signed with Brooklyn, told his good buddy KD not to sign with the Knicks (after Jordan had played for New York the last few months of the season following a trade deadline move with Dallas).
And that Kristaps Porzingis’ departure, as part of the Dallas blockbuster, also helped convince Durant not to go with the Knicks.
It also helped that Brooklyn evolved into a very solid playoff team last year while the Knicks wallowed in the muck yet again, and it’s clear the Knicks have an unsettled ownership.
Plus as Bleacher Report reported, neither Durant nor Irving wanted the “savior” role afforded star players who join the Knicks.
Steve Serby / New York Post
Despite all the hoopla over Brooklyn’s “coup,” especially vs. the Knicks....
“Amar’e Stoudamire was terrific for a year and then he broke down.
“Ask Jets fans about Neil O’Donnell.
“Ask Giants fans about LaVar Arrington.
“Ask Yankees fans about Ed Whitson or Carl Pavano.
“Sometimes, today’s heroes do not end up riding up the Canyon of Heroes.
“There is always a glass half-full scenario, and this is it:
“KD will be 32 by the time he steps on a court again, and who, other than Team Durant, expects him to be 100 percent of Durant?
“Kyrie is an upgrade over D’Angelo Russell because he is a proven big-game performer who embraces the biggest and brightest stages, but he has been an occasional moody problem child who pledged allegiance to the Celtics until he didn’t, and began criticizing young teammates.
“Is Irving more grown up now than he was when LeBron returned to his Cavaliers and he demanded a trade because he was no longer The Man?
“I had to call ‘Bron and tell him I apologize for being that young player that wanted everything at his fingertips,’ Kyrie said in January. ‘I wanted to be the guy that led us to a championship. I wanted to be the leader. I wanted to be all that.
“He gets to be all that in 2019 while KD rehabs and the New York microscope will demand that he gets the Nets to the Eastern Conference semifinals at the very least.
“It means (coach Kenny) Atkinson will have to be at his point guard-whisperer best. Kyrie has been plagued by bouts of knee soreness and pain dating to the 2015 playoffs. He missed the 2018 playoffs and required a pair of surgeries after the screws in his left knee had caused an infection. Can you say load maintenance?
“The Kyrie-KD jackpot means that Atkinson’s Nets are no longer The Little Engine That Could. This is no longer about establishing a culture. It is now about a championship.
“It is a dream that grows in Brooklyn. And only Brooklyn. Of course it was a shot worth taking. It doesn’t mean it will prove to be as rewarding as getting the ball to Michael Jordan with the game on the line.”
Jason Gay / Wall Street Journal
“The first rush of NBA free agency season is in the books, and I am here to report that the New York Knicks...are still the Knicks, a team that makes even the most forgiving basketball fan want to sob gently into a pillow.
“The Nets, on the other hand, yowza. Brooklyn’s bland but plucky franchise went out and landed itself two of the most desired players in the pool: Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. We’d heard rumors for a while that Kyrie and KD wanted to pair up and play in New York, that it was a fantasy of theirs. It was, as it turns out! They just won’t do it in Madison Square Garden, which may have a thousand times the history and aura of Brooklyn’s sprightly Barclays Center, but has become a place where basketball fantasies go to wheeze out and die.
“There’s an asterisk here, yes. A big one. Durant is mending from surgery after suffering a ruptured Achilles tendon in June’s NBA Finals. It’s a major injury, and it’s very possible Brooklyn won’t see him on the court next season....
“Irving isn’t exactly a layup, either. He’s not hurt – he remains one of the most dynamic, fun-to-watch scorers in the sport, a legit All-NBA sensation. But his run with the Celtics ended disappointingly after two seasons, with questions about his capacity to lead. Sometimes Kyrie played brilliantly for Boston. Other times, he seemed to be playing for Mars....
“So this fascinating deal isn’t exactly a lock. That’s certainly the spin that Knicks loyalists will offer – that the Nets have taken a huge risk, and may wind up with nothing....
“Either way the optics are terrible. New York’s two franchises may not be traditional rivals (the Nets are interlopers from New Jersey), or anywhere close in terms of regional impact (the Knicks are a much bigger deal), but they’re bound by geography and now a perception that they are franchises heading in very different directions – Brooklyn toward NBA contention, and the Knicks toward, I don’t know, the Big East.
“Let’s assess what’s happened to the Knicks here. The team bottomed out in hopes of getting a No. 1 pick (Zion Williamson) they won’t get, and dealt away young star Kristaps Porzingis and cleared out contract space to sign marquee free agents...they won’t sign, unless you want to charitably upgrade signings like Julius Randle and Taj Gibson, whom the Knicks are bringing aboard.
“The rap on the Knicks is well known: they’re a vibrant franchise burdened by James Dolan’s mercurial ownership. Today’s NBA free agents sound as if they’re planning spa vacations, asking what environment will offer the best care and the warmest, calmest and most holistic surroundings. The Knicks are about as spa-like as Penn Station on New Year’s Eve. What elite-level player wants to be part of that?”
--Finally, I’m tired of the talk about the “funny money” topic in the NBA. Yes, the money is absurd, case in point Tobias Harris’ five-year, $180 million contract to return to the Sixers, but the NBA is structured in such a way that the teams have to spend their money, and there is a lot of it in the sport and the players have negotiated a sweet deal for themselves.
So we move on....
Women’s World Cup
The U.S. women prevailed in its semifinal against England, 2-1, despite playing without co-captain Megan Rapinoe, out with a hamstring injury. Rapinoe’s replacement, Christen Press, scored the game’s first goal, and superstar tallied Alex Morgan the go-ahead score, as the deep American squad won its 11th straight World Cup match, a record.
England had a chance late to tie it on a penalty kick in the 84th minute, but captain Steph Houghton’s shot was at about the speed of a 4-year-old rolling a bowling ball with two hands and easily smothered by U.S. goalie Alyssa Naeher.
So now the United States will face the winner of Wednesday’s semifinal between the Netherlands and Sweden in the Americans’ third straight appearance in the World Cup title match.
--We’re just getting started but there were two shocking upsets the first day, Monday.
Two-time major champion Naomi Osaka, who was No. 1 until a week ago, lost 7-6 (4), 6-2 to Yulia Putintseva, a former KGB agent, while Men’s No. 6 seed Alexander Zverev and No. 7 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas also exited quickly.
But the biggest story was 15-year-old American Coco Gauff, who upset Venus Williams 6-4, 6-4.
Gauff is the youngest competitor to qualify at the All England Club in the professional era and she showed the poise and power of a much older, experienced player.
“Honestly, I don’t really know how to feel. This is the first time I ever cried after a match. For winning, obviously. I’ve cried after a loss before,” said Gauff, who is based in Florida. “I don’t even know how to explain how I feel.”
To put it into some kind of perspective, by the time Guaff was born in 2004, Venus Williams had won four of her seven Grand Slam singles titles.
Gauff is playing this afternoon against Magdalena Rybarikova, who was a Wimbledon semifinalist two years ago.
--I have to note that after I posted Sunday, Steve Stricker did handily close the deal in the U.S. Senior Open. He entered the final round at Warren Golf Course / Notre Dame, six shots ahead and finished with the same margin, Jerry Kelly and David Toms finishing tied for second.
Stricker, 52, thus bagged his first U.S. Senior Open title, wife Nicki once again on the bag, after a long hiatus following the birth of the couple’s two daughters.
It’s a big year for Stricker, who was named U.S. captain for the 2020 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in his native Wisconsin. He also continues to bounce back and forth between the Champions and PGA Tours, stressing it’s helpful for him to be out there seeing the guys who could be playing for him next year.
The win was Stricker’s fifth in 20 career starts on the Champions Tour, after winning 12-times on the regular circuit.
And because of the win at Notre Dame, he’s earned a spot in the U.S. Open next June at Winged Foot. Which means....no more qualifying.
--Zach Johnson joined the PGA Tour full time in 2004, claiming his first title the same year at the BellSouth Classic, which vaulted him into 49th in the Official World Golf Ranking. That was the start of an amazing run which just ended on Monday, as Golfweek points out.
While it took Johnson three more years to win his second title, the 2007 Masters, between the two wins he collected 13 top-10s, including seven finishes of T-3 or better. The win at the Masters jumped him from 56th to 15th in the world.
But after winning the Open Championship at the Old Course for his second major in 2015, it has been a slow fall for Johnson, and this week the 43-year-old fell outside the top 100 – down to 103rd – for the first time in 15 years.
That was an amazing 15-year run of consistency, and since 2004, Zach has won at least $1.6 million every season, with at least one win every year between 2007 and 2015, except one, 2011.
So we congratulate Mr. Johnson, who hasn’t had a good year, nonetheless for a terrific run.
--I am a proud Overseas member of Lahinch Golf Club in County Clare, Ireland, and this week is a huge one for both the club and the region in the west of the country. Lahinch is hosting the Irish Open and golf fanatics may enjoy checking it out on Golf Channel starting Thursday.
Unfortunately, the field is suffering from its proximity to The Open Championship, with the Scottish Open the week before, and a new event in the U.S. this week with a strong field.
But it is a classic old links course, though quirky, which some players may complain about (like a totally blind par-3 tee shot, The Dell), but it looks like the weather will cooperate.
The problem is if there isn’t a lot of wind, the scores could be very low. It should be great fun regardless.
--After I posted last time, they finally completed the rain-delayed race at Chicagoland and Alex Bowman picked up his first career NASCAR Cup Series victory, holding off Kyle Larson. The 26-year-old had just six top-five finishes in 133 starts in NASCAR’s top series before he put it all together on Sunday night.
This Saturday night we have a race at Daytona, one of my favorites of the year.
--I haven’t been writing about the NHL’s offseason but I do have to note a terrific signing for the New York Rangers, that of star left-winger Artemi Panarin to a seven-year, $81.5 million contract.
Panarin, a 27-year-old Russian, was among the most-sought free agents, having 28 goals and 59 assists for the Columbus Blue Jackets last season, his fourth year in the NHL.
John Davidson, the former president of the Blue Jackets, recently joined the Rangers in the same capacity and he has been dramatically overhauling the team. Ranger fans should be ecstatic over the Panarin signing.
--Us old-time runners will get a kick out of this story. The Los Angeles Marathon disqualified 70-year-old runner Frank Meza, saying that video cameras show he left the course for a portion of his record-setting performance in March and that his time during one stretch was so fast as to be ‘impossible.’
As the Los Angeles Times reported: “Though Meza has repeatedly denied cheating, he has come under scrutiny with the long-distance community questioning his finish in 2 hours 53 minutes 10 seconds – the fastest ever for a man his age.
2:53?!!! Let me join the chorus...NFW, boys and girls.
Well, amid the uproar, the outfit that runs the marathon, Conqur Endurance Group, began reviewing security cameras at retail stores along the 26.2 miles from Dodger Stadium to Santa Monica (cool route), with the footage showing Meza, a retired physician, having stepped off the course and reentering at another point, officials said.
“The video evidence is confirmed by a credible eyewitness report and our calculation that Dr. Meza’s actual running time for at least one 5K course segment would have had to have been faster than the current 70-74 age-group 5K world record,” they stated, adding that his pace would have been “an impossible feat during a marathon.”
Yes, it may seem strange this has become a national story, but the running community takes its ethics seriously and has long been distrustful of fraud. I can just imagine how ‘Doc’ is being pilloried in social media. Too bad, dude!
Meza maintains he left the course to find a restroom and continued along the sidewalk for some distance before finding one. “I didn’t cut the course,” he said.
Meza, an assistant high school track and cross country coach in Los Angeles, didn’t start entering marathons until age 60 and, after a few years, showed significant progress.
“As his results improved, the California International Marathon twice questioned his irregular splits, the times recorded at various points along its Sacramento course.
“Officials disqualified him in both instances and ultimately banned him from the event.”
And in 2015, the L.A. Marathon voiced concerns about Meza, asking him to run the following year with an official observer, but he chose instead to enter a Northern California marathon in 2016.
So now L.A. has asked him to run with an observer in 2020, and he said he plans to enter to prove he can finish in less than three hours.
Heck, this would kind of be fun to tune into.
--There are some animal-related stories too awful to note in this space, in case some of you may be wondering why I didn’t report on the death of a 2-year-old girl eaten alive by some crocodiles in Cambodia. No reason to write any of the details that were on the wires.
--The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission has declared war on the green iguana, the population of which has been exploding for years and now it’s a true crisis in parts.
“Homeowners do not need a permit to kill iguanas on their own property, and the FWC encourages homeowners to kill green iguanas on their own property whenever possible,” a notice on the commission’s website reads.
This is no laughing matter. As a University of Florida wildlife scientist told ABC News: “They will destroy agriculture, undermine roads, cause electrical transformers to fail. They can transmit salmonella and can be a FAA safety hazard.
Streaks of cold weather can hold the population down, but rising temperatures make Florida an increasingly welcoming environment for the monsters.
Green iguanas can live for up to 10 years in the wild, reaching 5 feet in length and laying up to 76 eggs per year.
Time for some surgical airstrikes, I think you’d agree.
Top 3 songs for the week 7/4/64: #1 “I Get Around” (The Beach Boys) #2 “My Boy Lollipop” (Millie Small) #3 “Memphis” (Johnny Rivers...great tune...)...and...#4 “Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying” (Gerry and The Pacemakers...ditto...) #5 “People” (Barbra Streisand...easily her best...) #6 “A World Without Love” (Peter and Gordon) #7 “Chapel Of Love” (The Dixie Cups) #8 “Rag Doll” (The 4 Seasons) #9 “Bad To Me” (Billy J. Kramer and The Dakotas) #10 “Can’t You See That She’s Mine” (The Dave Clark Five...great week...)
Auto Racing Quiz Answer: Tony “Smoke” Stewart is the only driver to win championships in both NASCAR (2002, 2005, 2011) and IndyCar (1996-97).
Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest Quiz Answer: The “Black Widow,” Sonya Thomas, ate 45 hot dogs and buns in 2012. The best for a woman since was 41, devoured by Miki Sudo in 2017.
Remember, if you want a good hot dog, go for Black Bear, sold only at ShopRite. Trust me on this. [And they’re terrific boiled as well.]
***Here are some other Major League Eating records for you all to shoot for....
Bacon – 182 strips Smithfield Bacon, in 5 minutes, Matt Stonie, 2015.
Chicken Wings / Hooters – 281, in 10 minutes, Geoffrey Esper, 2019.
Glazed Donuts – 55, in 8 minutes, Joey Chestnut, 2017.
1969 Mets, cont’d....
The Mets were in St. Louis for five.
June 30: Mets win 10-2, Jerry Grote (1) and Art Shamsky (5) hitting home runs, while Jim McAndrew threw a complete game. Nelson Briles exited in the first inning, having given up 5 earned.
July 1: In the first of a twi-night doubleheader, Steve Carlton hurled a complete game for the 4-1 win for the Cards, Mets starter Nolan Ryan giving up seven walks in 5 2/3.
July 1: St. Louis completed the sweep, 8-5, Mets starter Jack DiLauro hit hard, while Mike Torrez survived seven shaky innings (5 runs) for the win.
July 2: Mets win 6-4 in 14 innings, Wayne Garrett with 4 RBIs. But Jerry Koosman had been cruising, seven scoreless, Mets up 4-0 heading to the bottom of the eighth, when Kooz tired, Ron Taylor came in, and Vic Davalilo (of all people) hit a pinch-hit grand slam to send it into extra innings.
July 3: Mets win 8-1, so three of five, as Gary Gentry (8-6) threw a complete game.
The Mets are now 42-34, 8 games back of the Cubs.
Next Bar Chat, Monday....Happy Fourth!!!