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New Orleans' Big Score
[Posted Wed. a.m.]
PGA Quiz: Tiger Woods has won four PGA Championships. Name the four runner-ups in those events. Answer below.
--Understand, Bethpage Black is wet. Very, very wet...and it will play long. While Wednesday is the first seemingly sunny day since the start of the year, the course will hardly dry out, and there is still the chance of showers Thursday and Friday for the opening two rounds. Hopefully there are no delays, as the weekend weather looks good. [Spectators could find many areas for viewing a muddy mess, just going off the shape of local golf courses in my area, and if you’re from out of town and attending, watch out for ticks!]
--Tiger Woods should be feeling great heading into Bethpage, but Monday he was slapped with a lawsuit, that includes girlfriend Erica Herman, claiming Tiger and Herman were negligent in over-serving an “alcoholic” staffer who then got behind the wheel and died in a high-speed rollover crash.
Herman manages Tiger’s restaurant The Woods, and last Dec. 10, a 24-year-old employee, Nicholas Immesberger, died in a drunk driving accident.
Immesberger’s parents claim Woods and Herman knew their son personally and knew he struggled “with the disease of alcoholism.”
They claim their son finished a shift Dec. 10 and was allowed to stay at the restaurant and drink “to the point of severe intoxication” before he drove off in his car. His blood alcohol level was found to be .256, more than triple the legal limit.
The lawsuit claims “Tiger knew, or reasonably should have known, that Immesberger was habitually addicted to the use of any or all alcoholic beverages and/or was a habitual drunkard.” The suit also claims Herman “specifically” recruited their son to be a bartender and let him drink at The Woods to the point he needed assistance.
But then we learned the lawyers for Immesberger have alleged the restaurant destroyed video evidence of the employee drinking at the bar for three hours.
“One of the most significant issues we have here is the destruction of evidence,” attorney Spencer Kuvin said Tuesday. “Obviously it shows that somebody knew something had gone wrong and they wanted to get rid of that evidence. We have evidence to show that that videotape, showing Nick at the bar that night after he got off at 3 p.m., drinking for three hours at the bar, was destroyed shortly after the crash had occurred.
“So we have through our investigation uncovered evidence to show that the bar knew what happened, they knew about the crash that night and shortly thereafter that video evidence was destroyed and deleted off the servers they had there at The Woods.”
Tiger gave his usual Tuesday press conference when he is playing in an event and he said when questioned about the lawsuit, “We’re all very sad that Nick passed away. It was a terrible night, a terrible ending, and just – we feel bad for him and his entire family. It’s very sad.”
Kuvin also alleged Tuesday that Herman and other restaurant employees were aware that Immesberger had wrecked another vehicle just one month before the fatal crash after being “overserved again” at The Woods.
“Erica specifically asked him to come back to work at the bar, and she was aware of his addiction and problem,” Kuvin said.
So how will this impact Tiger this week? He is paired with Brooks Koepka and Francesco Molinari in the first two rounds.
--The rise, and stunning fall of Smylie Kaufman has been shocking. After winning the 2016 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, Kaufman was another rising star, and part of the Rat Pack of Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler.
But in 2017, he made just 12 of 26 cuts, and then in 2018, it was 3 of 22 weekends for the lad, finishing No. 200 in the FedEx Cup standings, his Tour status in jeopardy.
Thus far this year he has missed cuts in the only two events he’s been able to get into.
--The NCAA is holding its men’s regionals this week, the top five teams in each of the six qualifying for the NCAA Championships, held May 24-29 in Fayetteville, Ark. As I go to post, Wake Forest seems to have a top-five in its Myrtle Beach regional wrapped up, Wake entering it ranked No. 3 in the country, its highest ranking at the end of the regular season since 2003.
NBA Draft Lottery and the Playoffs
--The NBA held its draft lottery last night and New York, Cleveland, and Phoenix had an equal 14 percent shot at securing the No. 1 pick and Zion Williamson. The three also had an equal 40.2 percent shot at a top three, meaning Ja Morant and RJ Barrett.
But in a shocker, New Orleans, with just a 6 percent shot at the first pick, got just that, while Memphis, also with a 6 percent shot, 19 percent for a top three, got the No. 2 pick (Morant, no doubt), while the Knicks can select Barrett at No. 3.
Needless to say, Zion Williamson had his heart set on New York and must be extremely disappointed today. It was hard for him to hide it last night.
But Cleveland and Phoenix fans must be really upset as they ended up with the fifth and sixth picks, respectively, and everyone knows there is a big drop-off in talent between the top three and the rest.
As for the Pelicans, now it’s up to David Griffin, the executive vice president of basketball operations, to convince Anthony Davis to stick around and pull his trade demand. Getting Zion certainly makes it a whole new ballgame, and the two would complement each other on the court. Plus Jrue Holiday is a pretty good point guard.
Meanwhile, Knicks fans will learn to accept Barrett, who even I was saying the first half of the college season had a game that I felt translated better in the NBA than Zion’s. [Though Williamson’s performance in the second half, after he recovered from his injury, finally won me over that he was indeed the No. 1 game-changer.]
But is Barrett enough to draw the likes of KD to Madison Square Garden? Now the real fun begins.
The NBA Draft is June 20, while the new NBA season, and free agency, starts July 1. To be continued.
--In the opener of the Western Conference finals last night in Oakland, Golden State cruised 116-94 over Portland, Steph Curry with 36 on 9-of-15 from three, fellow Splash Brother Klay Thompson with 26. Who needs Kevin Durant?
Durant’s status for Game 2 and beyond won’t be known until Thursday.
--Fans of the sport are still buzzing over Kawhi Leonard’s stunning fadeaway jumper over the outstretched arms of Joel Embiid Sunday night, the ball hitting the rim four times before falling in, sending the Raptors on to the Eastern Conference finals to face Milwaukee. [Game 1 tonight, Wednesday.]
To say Leonard is normally emotionless would be the supreme understatement of our times, but as he put it after making history, “I’m a guy that acts like I’ve been there before.”
It’s rather startling to think that in the history of Game 7s in the NBA playoffs – 135 games – Leonard is the first to make a buzzer-beating, game-winning shot.
“Whenever it’s a moment that I haven’t really experienced, I probably try to give and show some emotion and let it just come out,” Leonard said. “Tonight was one of those nights.”
Leonard ended up with a game-high 41 points, out of Toronto’s 92, watching his final shot fall through the net in a baseball catcher’s crouch right in front of the Raptors bench.
I love how quiet it got as the ball bounced on the rim, before going through and the audience erupting...Kawhi himself screaming.
Sixers forward Jimmy Butler said: “He hit a tough one. You tip your hat to that. He’s an incredible player. We know it. Y’all know it. Ain’t too much more you can say about it.”
--It was felt that Sixers coach Brett Brown would be fired after losing to Toronto, but Brown is going to be returning for the 2019-20 season, the team confirmed Monday night. Brown held a “lengthy meeting” Monday with managing partner Josh Harris and general manager Elton Brand where the team’s offseason plans were discussed.
Amid the reports of Brown’s job being in jeopardy, Sixers center Joel Embiid gave his full-fledged support of Brown at Monday’s exit interviews.
“I heard about all these rumors, and I thought it was (B.S.),” Embiid said. “He’s done a fantastic job. He’s been there through everything and this year, I think he grew even more as a coach.... He’s an amazing coach, a better person, and I got a lot of love for him. If there is someone to blame, put it all on me.”
Meanwhile, Embiid has a problem with TNT analyst Charles Barkley, who has sharply criticized him, Barkley and TNT partner Shaquille O’Neal both questioning Embiid’s toughness as he battled through illness and fatigue.
In an interview before Game 7 Sunday, Embiid said Barkley didn’t know what he was talking about, so when the interview was played back, Barkley said:
“And then when they play like crap and we call them out, we don’t know what we’re talking about. Listen, I’m easy to find. I’ve always said he’s a hell of a player. If he can stay healthy, he’s going to be one of the greatest ever. IF he can stay healthy, the verdict’s still out on that. But I get sick of these guys complaining... But I’m going to criticize guys if they deserve it, and they can kiss my ass if they don’t like it.”
As for the Sixers and their future, no one seems to know what mid-season acquisitions Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris will do, both impending free agents. It would be devastating to lose them both. And there have been rumors Ben Simmons could be moved. “The Process” continues....
--I was shocked, and disappointed, to see Michigan coach John Beilein leave the school to become the Cleveland Cavaliers’ coach, receiving a five-year deal.
Beilein tweeted: “Thanks to everyone at the Univ of Michigan for their incredible support these last 12 years. Our fans, alums, leaders, players and students are AMAZING. It has been a heck of a ride and I hope you enjoyed our teams and staff as much as I did! Go Blue Forever!”
Cavaliers general manager Koby Altman said in a statement: “John is one of the most accomplished and innovative basketball minds and leaders in the entire game. He has a unique ability to create an outstanding culture that will promote the development of young players and provide a solid structure to the entire program; not to mention the fact that John Beilein wins everywhere he goes. We are excited Coach Beilein is joining our organization as we continue to build a foundation that any enterprise needs to be successful and competitive year in and year out.”
Beilein led Michigan to two Final Fours and four Big Ten tournament and regular-season titles during his 12 years in Ann Arbor.
Five times Beilein was AP final top 15, and this despite inferior recruiting classes, relative to the likes of Kentucky and Duke.
What’s disappointing is that Beilein, by all accounts, did things the right way, especially given today’s rather low standards, and college basketball needs more like him. He had life by the balls in Ann Arbor...paid extremely well ($3.37 million per), set for life, and he leaves it all for the NBA.
Granted, he’s had discussions in the past about taking the next step, but he’s now 66! This just makes no sense whatsoever.
No word on what Michigan is going to do to replace Beilein, it being mid-May. The safe move would be to hire one of three assistants who have been with the program 2-3 years each, all with ties to the state. Some have suggested if Beilein had made the announcement a month ago, Billy Donovan would have snapped it up, Donovan seemingly wanting to return to the college game. But it’s probably too late for this.
--There is disturbing footage of a bloody Kristaps Porzingis outside a bar in the aftermath of an altercation in Latvia, Porzingis’ homeland. It seems there was a dispute with a group of Russians outside, who weren’t being allowed into the bar by security. It was “Russian Victory Weekend” and there were altercations all over the area, according to reports.
In the video, Porzingis, who suffered a ripped shirt and a cut above his eye, reportedly said, “I’ll send your ass back to Russia,” Kristaps born in Latvia.
Not to go all geopolitical on you, but forget basketball, this is a classic example of the simmering problems in the Baltics, the republics each having a sizable Russian minority that Vladimir Putin will try to exploit as it seems inevitable he will gin up a crisis at some point. This is scary stuff, and it’s unfortunate Porzingis got caught up in it...and now he’s likely a marked man among some in the country.
Separately, New York City police are still looking into a rape accusation made against Porzingis by a neighbor in his New York apartment. Kristap’s lawyers maintain he was a victim of extortion.
Stanley Cup Playoffs
--Boston took a commanding 3-0 lead over Carolina in the Eastern Conference finals last night in Raleigh, as goalie Tuuka Rask stood tall again, the Bruins’ Chris Wagner and Brad Marchand scoring 5:07 apart in the second period as Boston won it 2-1.
The West finals resume tonight in St. Louis, the Blues and San Jose Sharks tied at 1-1.
--The Mets are 3-0 since COO Jeff Wilpon, who really runs the show these days, read the riot act to manager Mickey Callaway and New York is back to .500, 20-20. Last night Noah Syndergaard threw 8 innings of 2-run ball in a 6-2 win at Washington; former National Wilson Ramos with a first-inning grand slam.
--I noted the other day that Boston’s Chris Sale had righted the ship with three straight quality starts. Well last night he made it four in spectacular fashion, becoming the first pitcher in major league history to strike out 17 in a start of no more than seven innings; Sale pulled after the seventh having thrown 108 pitches on a chilly night at Fenway Park.
The problem is the Red Sox blew a 3-2 lead, Colorado rallied to win 5-4 in 11, and Sale had a no-decision.
[The big league record remains 20 strikeouts in a game, done five times, most recently by Max Scherzer in 2016.]
--San Diego rookie sensation Chris Paddack was humbled in Chavez Ravine on Tuesday, losing his highly-anticipated start against Clayton Kershaw, 6-3, with Paddack yielding 3 earned in 4 2/3, as he fell to 3-2, 1.99, while Kershaw improved to 3-0, 3.40, with 7 innings of 3-run ball.
--Philadelphia lost to Milwaukee 6-1 last night in Philly, as Bryce Harper went 0-for-2 with two walks, his average dropping to .219, OPS of .802 vs. a career mark of .895. Harper is hearing the boos, deservedly so as he’s gone six games without an RBI, though he did make two great catches in the outfield Tuesday.
--Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit the first two homers of his career last night in San Franciso, going 3-for-4, 4 RBIs in a 7-3 Blue Jays win over the Giants.
--Last year Yankee third baseman Miguel Andujar was runner-up to Shohei Ohtani for AL Rookie of the Year, slamming 27 home runs, 47 doubles, driving in 92 and batting .297. But this year has been a disaster, as Andujar has now gone onto to the injured list for a second time with a right labrum tear, having hit just .128, 6-47, 0 extra-base hits, one RBI. Manager Aaron Boone said the shoulder issue was definitely affecting him at the plate.
The Yankees though are receiving super production from third baseman Gio Urshela, who is batting .341 in 91 at-bats, with 15 RBIs, while playing a fine third.
Separately, last night the Yankees acquired Oakland slugger Kendrys Morales for a player to be named later and cash considerations. Morales is off to a horrid start but the injury-riddled Yanks could use his power and experience, both at first and at DH.
--As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal reports, the rate at which batters are being hit by a pitch these days, one out of every 96 plate appearances across the majors in 2018, the most since 1900, is even higher thus far in 2019, one in every 94 plate appearances.
“With pitchers throwing harder than at any other point in history, it’s fair to say there has never been a more painful time to be a hitter.”
Starters are hitting batters once every 109 plate appearances, while for relievers, it’s one every 78.
--I was reading the Winston-Salem Journal the other day and saw a piece on how Winston-Salem State was packing it in as to its baseball program. A few days later, Billy Witz in the New York Times then had a piece on how this has become a depressing trend with the historically black colleges and universities. The lack of African-Americans has become so severe, many of the remaining programs in, for example, the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, a group of nine H.B.C.U.s, often now feature more white and Latino players than blacks.
At Bethune-Cookman, for example, which has won 19 MEAC championships and plays its home games at Jackie Robinson Ballpark, the same field where Robinson first suited up for a game after signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers, the Wildcats have not started a single African-American player at times this season.
It’s the same old story. Baseball isn’t the inexpensive sport of my youth...where you could get a mitt for a decent price, a cheap wood bat, scrounge up a few balls, and you hit the local ballpark.
Today, bats and mitts are far more expensive, and to get the exposure, you need to participate on a travel team, where the costs can run into the $thousands. It’s far easier to play football and basketball, especially in urban areas where youth baseball programs have been decimated.
--New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft scored a major victory in court Monday, as a Florida judge threw out key evidence obtained in surveillance videos and a traffic stop that helped lead to two charges of solicitation of prostitution in late January.
Kraft had refused to accept a plea deal, maintaining he did nothing illegal when he visited a day spa in Jupiter, Fla., on two consecutive days. Kraft refused to pay a fine and perform community service to resolve the two misdemeanor charges because the deal would have required him to admit that the prosecutors would have won the case if it went to trial.
Kraft and 24 other men were charged on Feb. 22 in conjunction with a wider investigation into human sex trafficking at a chain of massage parlors in Florida.
In legal motions and at hearings, Kraft’s lawyer argued that police had overreached when they hid surveillance cameras inside the spa. On Monday, Judge Leonard Hanser of Palm Beach County Court agreed.
As for the NFL, Kraft could still be penalized by Commissioner Roger Goodell, who has broad authority to hold players, league executives and owners accountable for conduct he deems detrimental to the league. Those penalties can include fines of up to $500,000 and suspensions, based not just on the legal case against Kraft but also on the damage he did to the league’s reputation.
--Maximum Security’s jockey Luis Saez was suspended 15 racing days by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission for his ride in the Derby. Saez will appeal the decision.
According to the state commission, Saez was cited for “failure to control his mount and make the proper effort to maintain a straight course thereby causing interference with several rivals that resulted in the disqualification of his mount.”
--The great boxing personality Harold Lederman died. He was 79. He was HBO’s unofficial boxing judge from 1986 until the network left the boxing business this past December.
Tony Paige / New York Daily News
“A certain sector of the boxing community may not remember, but Lederman was a fine boxing judge of over 100 championship bouts starting in 1967 until 1999. He juggled that with a pharmacist career for years before boxing won out....
“It was his voice I’ll always remember. It wasn’t a deep baritone of a Barry White variety. It was more of a screech – a loud, annoying screech – but I loved every syllable.
“You couldn’t look over his knowledge of the sport and you couldn’t ignore that voice. It was like trying to separate Muhammad Ali’s boxing excellence from his braggadocio. A Columbia University graduate, Lederman was so good he was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2016. Among his many accolades, the Boxing Writers Association of America awarded him the ‘Good Guy Award’ in 2006 and the Sam Taub Award for Broadcaster of the Year in 2008....
“(Whether) talking with Harold in Manchester or working with him in the Bronx or picking his brain in New York, Atlantic City or Las Vegas, he was always a joy. He will be missed.
“He knew people, he knew boxing and people loved him.”
--Comedian Tim Conway died after a long illness. He was 85.
Conway made a name for himself on the 1962 sitcom “McHale’s Navy,” starring Ernest Borgnine, before beginning guest appearances on “The Carol Burnett Show,” where he was a mainstay for 11 seasons. Conway was good...genuinely funny...and his shtick stands up well with the passage of time.
“I’m heartbroken,” said Carol Burnett in a statement. “He was one in a million, not only as a brilliant comedian but as a loving human being. I cherish the times we had together both on the screen and off. He’ll be in my heart forever.”
Conway won four Emmys for his work on Burnett’s program and two others for guest appearances on “Coach” and “30 Rock.”
Born Thomas Conway on Dec. 15, 1933, he grew up an only child in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. Conway once said he was born funny. “I am not really qualified to do anything but screw up,” he told the Los Angeles Times in 2013. He attended Bowling Green State University, where he majored in speech and radio.
Conway changed his first name from Thomas to Tim, to avoid confusion with actor Tom Conway, who made dozens of films in the ‘40s and ‘50s and died in 1967. Tim Conway started out in Cleveland radio, and by the late 1950s he found a home on local television, which earned him a stint on “The Steve Allen Show” in New York, after which he came to prominence as the bumbling ensign on “McHale’s Navy” from 1962 to 1966.
A year later he was on “The Carol Burnett Show,” though it wasn’t until season nine that he became a weekly regular. Burnett told the L.A. Times in 2010, “All of a sudden, in the ninth season of the show, we said, ‘Why don’t we have Tim on every week?’ He was already on about every other week. It was like ‘duh.’”
Conway, when asked about the success of the show, told the Wisconsin State Journal in 2005, “We really didn’t attack people or politics or religion or whatever. We just made fun of, basically, ourselves.”
--And we note the passing of actress Doris Day, 97.
James Gavin / Los Angeles Times
“In the 1960 family comedy, ‘Please Don’t Eat the Daisies,’ Doris Day plays a housewife married to a drama critic. As she tries to dress up for a Broadway opening, domestic chaos explodes: The kids are running amok, the dog is barking and time is running out. The scene is a tour de force of comedic high jinks, and she breezes through it with the utmost ease. Years later, film critic Rex Reed recalled that performance to her in awe. She couldn’t even remember having done it.
“Whether acting or singing, Day was effortless, natural, believable and heart-tugging.
“In 1944, she was every soldier’s sunny, sexy blond girlfriend, beckoning them home safely with ‘Sentimental Journey,’ a colossal hit of the war years. A dozen years and a string of hit movie musicals later, Day recorded her defining song, ‘Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera),’ a child’s lullaby that served as a postwar panacea. For four years in the 1960s she was named the No. 1 box-office star in America.
“Day turned both dialogue and songs into intimate conversation. When the music played, she sang to you as though from across a pillow, with perfect conversational phrasing and a gentle, husky, slightly breathy tone that caressed the ear like the lick of a cat’s tongue....
“Yet there was also a tinge of mystery in Day to ignite the imagination. In interviews, she skillfully gave the illusion of candor, delivering platitudes with the utmost sincerity while revealing almost nothing.”
Day had a rough childhood and was married four times. But her fans rue the two great lost opportunities of her film career. She was asked to star in “South Pacific,” but her husband and manager, Martin Melcher, set the price too high, plus Day was afraid of flying and wouldn’t board a plane to Hawaii for shooting. Later she turned down the role of Mrs. Robinson in “The Graduate,” because it entailed nudity.
In 1968, Melcher died, and it was then she discovered the manager-husband had blown her fortune. “The Doris Day Show,” which ran on CBS for five seasons, enabled her to pay off their debts. Despite one more marriage, Day, from then on, found comfort in her dogs and founded the Doris Day Pet Foundation for animal welfare. She largely disappeared from public view.
Top 3 songs for the week 5/11/68: #1 “Honey” (Bobby Goldsboro) #2 “Tighten Up” (Archie Bell & The Drells...Mets’ broadcaster Keith Hernandez’ favorite...) #3 “Young Girl” (The Union Gap featuring Gary Puckett)...and...#4 “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” (Hugo Montenegro) #5 “Cry Like A Baby” (The Box Tops) #6 “A Beautiful Morning” (The Rascals) #7 “Cowboys To Girls” (The Intruders) #8 “The Unicorn” (The Irish Rovers) #9 “Mrs. Robinson” (Simon and Garfunkel) #10 “Lady Madonna” (The Beatles...classic 60s week...had everything...)
PGA Quiz Answer: Runners-up in Tiger’s four PGA Championships.
1999 – Medinah...Sergio Garcia
2000 – Valhalla...Bob May
2006 – Medinah...Shaun Micheel
2007 – Southern Hills...Woody Austin
1969 Mets cont’d....
May 13: The Mets hosted the Braves for three at Shea Stadium, New York losing the first 4-3, as Hank Aaron, Orlando Cepeda and Bob Tillman went deep against starter Gary Genry, who fell to 2-3, 3.20, while Ron Reed (4-1) got the win for Atlanta.
May 14: The Mets were trailing 3-1 in the bottom of the eighth but scored 8 times to win it 9-3. Cleon Jones hit a grand slam, had 5 RBIs overall, as New York got to Atlanta starter Phil Niekro, who had taken a no-hitter into the seventh. The 8 runs equaled a Mets record for runs in an inning. Tom Seaver won it, improving to 5-2, 2.24, despite giving up 10 hits in 8 innings.
May 15: New York lost 6-5, starter Don Cardwell hit hard (3 innings, 3 earned) in falling to 1-6, 2.93.
So the Mets are now 15-18, 7 ½ back of the Cubs, going nowhere.
Next Bar Chat, Monday.