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Rory's Big Score!
[Posted early Sun. p.m., prior to Yankees-Dodgers]
U.S. Open Tennis Championship: Name the seven American men to win the Open in the modern / Open Era (since 1968). Answer below.
--The Mets completed a three-game sweep of the Indians at Citi Field Thursday night in a rain-shortened affair, 2-0, Mets pitchers yielding just five runs in the three contests.
So New York was 67-60, 1 ½ back of the Cardinals for the last wild-card spot.
But while I like the youthful exuberance the young Mets’ rising stars, like Pete Alonso, are displaying, I was thinking at the same time...chill a little, guys. You haven’t won anything yet.
During the Mets’ recent streak to relevance, Alonso has been frankly out of control in the post-game celebrations, ripping off the jerseys of Michael Conforto and J.D. Davis after their walk-off hits, and I’m sorry, just acting incredibly reckless, especially as he physically manhandled Davis who has been struggling with a calf injury. It was just stupid!
Alonso, following his Home Run Derby performance at the All-Star Game, is a little full of himself, and playing a lousy first base, countlessly going after ground balls that would be easily handled by the second baseman.
So this all came home to roost in the first two games of another critical series with the Braves at home.
The Mets blew countless opportunities in Friday night’s 2-1 loss in 14 innings, despite the Mets’ pitching staff striking out 26 to tie an MLB record. They wasted seven strong from Jacob deGrom, who fanned 13 and homered to account for the lone Mets run.
DeGrom became the first pitcher since at least 1900 to strike out 13 and homer in a game twice in the same season, per Elias Sports Bureau. It was later discovered that no pitcher had done it twice, period, in their entire careers.
But the Mets are just 7-5 this year when the 2018 Cy Young Award winner allows one or fewer earned runs.
Then last night, the Mets lost 9-5 as starter Zack Wheeler sucked for a third straight outing, and the bullpen imploded late. Yes, Alonso matched a Mets record with his 41st home run, a three-run shot that put the Mets ahead 5-4 in the fifth after trailing 4-0, but there was half a game to go and you got the impression the team had already put it in the ‘win’ column. In the final innings they made a number of mental errors, most critically when outfielder J.D. Davis inexplicably held onto the ball on a single by Ronald Acuna Jr., as speedy Billy Hamilton scored all the way from first.
Francisco Cervelli, in his first game with Atlanta (and first in the majors since May 25) after the Braves signed him when he was released by Pittsburgh, had three hits and three RBI in Atlanta’s win, Cervelli also throwing out baserunner Amed Rosario trying to steal second in the seventh from his knees.
Atlanta improved to 10-5 against the Mets this season. A terrible loss for the Metropolitans.
Make it 11-5, after the Braves won again 2-1 today to complete the sweep, the Mets falling short with a last-ditch rally in the bottom of the ninth. Josh Donaldson accounted for the Atlanta offense with two solo shots, Nos. 31 and 32.
--So in the wild card chase, the Phillies lost 3-2 to the Marlins in Miami today, as Bryce Harper has been absent due to his paternity leave. Boy, in the old days, there was no such thing.
As Mark R., Phillies fan, said, “Great timing.” I would say, “Great freakin’ timing.” No sex after cleaning the dishes and ushering the guests out of your mansion on Thanksgiving, Mr. Harper!”
By the way, Mark R. may be such a baby, his birthday being Tuesday. Happy Birthday, old friend. I’m headed down to Philly for Mets-Phillies this coming Saturday. Neither Mark or I are confident about our respective teams’ prospects. Right now, I’m more concerned about the line at Tony Luke’s for my Philly Cheesesteak.
N.L. Wild Card Standings....some results not yet final....
Washington 72-57... +3
Chicago 69-60... ---
Philadelphia 67-62... 2
Mets 67-63... 2.5
Milwaukee 67-63... 2.5
And while we’re on the topic....
A.L. Wild Card Standings....again, some results not in....
Cleveland 76-55... +0.5
Oakland 74-54... ---
Tampa Bay 76-56... ---
--After being swept in Oakland, the Yankees traveled down the coast to Los Angeles for a showcase series with the Dodgers, a match-up of the teams with the two best records in baseball and a potential preview of the World Series. [Entering Sunday’s play, Houston had matched the Yanks’ 84-47 mark.]
Friday, the Yankees torched All-Star Hun-Jin Ryu, 10-2, with Ryu giving up 7 earned in 4 1/3, his ERA soaring from 1.64 to 2.00. It was Ryu’s second straight ineffective outing and there is talk of giving him a little break to ensure he’s fresh heading into October.
Didi Gregorius hit a grand slam and added a solo shot, the Yanks hitting three other home runs, with James Paxton (10-6) winning his fifth straight, fanning 11 and walking none in 6 2/3.
But then Saturday, the Dodgers’ Tony Gonsolin and three L.A. relievers shut down the Yankee bats, 2-1.
--The Astros acquired Zack Greinke from Arizona to further enhance their starting staff for the postseason and all he has done is win his fourth straight start, 4-0, 2.45 ERA, allowing 2 earned in 6 2/3 Friday as Houston defeated the L.A. Angels 5-4.
--I have to get down for the record that on Thursday the Orioles’ pitching staff broke the all-time record for most home runs allowed, 259, which then kept climbing as Tampa Bay beat the O’s 5-2. Baltimore allowed another in the game, No. 260, and on Friday, No. 261, Saturday, No. 262.
With 30+ games remaining, 300+ seems a certainty.
But other teams are also likely to break the 2016 Cincinnati Reds’ mark of 258 (Seattle has given up 219 thru Saturday).
Friday, the Orioles fired 11 members of the team’s scouting and front office departments, including the director of baseball operations and a number of scouts.
--Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck stunned the league, and the entire sports world, when he suddenly announced his retirement Saturday. Luck, the overall No. 1 pick out of Stanford in the 2012 NFL draft, has battled injuries throughout seven NFL seasons, missing 2017 entirely, and the 29-year-old finished an 86-game career with a 53-33-0 record, 171 TDs, 83 INTs, and a 89.5 career passing record.
Luck was dealing with a lingering calf issue, which turned into a high ankle injury that has held him out for much of the offseason, and he was seen on the sidelines of the Colts’ preseason game Saturday night against the Bears when the news broke.
Luck led the Colts to the playoffs in each of his first three seasons, and then again in 2018, when after a year off following shoulder surgery, he looked like his former self in the second half of the season, taking Indy to the playoffs and being named Comeback Player of the Year. Overall, he was 4-4 in the postseason, 12 TDs, 13 INTs.
Andrew Luck was a star, but at times he came up short. He also took a ton of punishment, being sacked 41 times in both 2012, his rookie season, and 2016. He eventually just wore down physically, and apparently, mentally.
In the wake of his retirement, the Colts turn to Jacoby Brissett, who they acquired from the Patriots in a trade prior to the 2017 season. Brissett started 15 of Indianapolis’ 16 games in 2017, completing 59 percent of his passes, while throwing 13 touchdown passes and 7 interceptions. The Colts went 4-11 with him at the helm.
The Colts had known for a few weeks that Luck, who turns 30 next months, was contemplating stepping away from the sport.
So Saturday night, in an impromptu press conference that it was first thought he’d hold Sunday, an emotional Luck said, “This is not an easy decision. Hopefully, it’s the hardest decision of my life. But it is the right decision for me. This isn’t how I envisioned this or planned this....but I’m going to retire.”
As he jogged off the field after the Colts’ 27-17 loss to the Bears last night, fans in Indianapolis, aware of his decision, booed Luck.
“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t hear the reaction,” he said. “It hurt, I’ll be honest.”
Luck added that he felt “stuck” in a cycle of “injury-pain-rehab.” Injuries have “taken my joy of this game away,” he said. “The only way forward for me is to remove myself from football.”
“I can’t live the life I want to live” because of the injuries. “I feel quite exhausted.”
Luck said last night that he knew what he had to do about two weeks ago.
“It felt like a weight was lifted, but I feel tired and not just in a physical sense,” he said. “I don’t know if there was a final straw. It was the lack of progress [from the injuries]. I feel so much clarity and I’m thankful for the memories I had here.”
Mike Jones / USA TODAY Sports
“Injury prevented Luck and the NFL world from seeing just how great he could have been. When he entered the league as the first overall pick of the 2012 draft, everyone predicted greatness.... He joined the Colts with the lofty task of succeeding Peyton Manning, and he appeared undaunted as he embraced that challenge, put the Colts on his back and led them to three consecutive playoff appearances to start his career.
“But then came the injuries and the vicious cycle. He tried to fight. Again and again. But eventually, the mental anguish, coupled with the physical, proved too crippling a weight for the quarterback.
“ ‘I’m in pain,’ he said. ‘I’m still in pain.’
“Amazingly, Colts fans at Lucas Oil Stadium booed their franchise quarterback upon hearing news of his retirement. And that’s the saddest and most disgusting part of this whole story.
“It reflects a blatant disrespect and lack of understanding of just how much Luck and other football players put themselves through to play this game. Fans see the bright lights and handsome contract numbers (during his career, Luck signed deals worth $22 million and $120 million), but they don’t see, hear or feel the punishment that comes along with it. They don’t endure the depressing moments players endure while trying to fight through wave after wave of debilitating pain, or repeated surgeries and subsequent setbacks....
“Luck deserved better.
“His hard work, athleticism and intelligence should have positioned him to become one of the all-time greats at his position. But this is a cruel game, and sometimes it doesn’t reward players for all of the sacrifices they make. Unfortunately, sometimes hard work isn’t enough. Luck couldn’t evade the injury misfortunes. He had no control of his body’s inability to recover from blow after blow.
“And he definitely deserved better from Colts fans he tried so hard to battle for.
“Luck didn’t wimp out, as those booing fans believe. He made the best situation for himself and his teammates. He could have tried to suck it up and play. But he knew he wouldn’t be giving them his best. He knew he wouldn’t be able to be the best version of himself for his family, either....
“Those within the Colts organization certainly understand and appreciate what Luck gave them and endured.
“Hopefully, in time, all who see themselves as true football fans will as well.”
--After the Giants’ exhibition game Thursday night, coach Pat Shurmur hinted that he might be considering starting Daniel Jones in Week 1, Jones with another strong performance against the Bengals, 9 of 11, 141 yards. Granted, it’s been against mostly backup defenders, but Jones is 25 of 39, 369 yards, in the preseason.
But owner John Mara, who has a thing with Eli Manning, said about ten days ago that Manning would start on Sept. 8, when the Giants visit the Cowboys.
So Shurmur cleared it up Friday and said on a conference call that “Eli is the starter.”
I’m guessing Jones is starting Week 4.
--It looks like the Houston Texans have lost starting running back Lamar Miller to a torn left ACL suffered during Saturday’s preseason game against the Cowboys. Miller has been the Texans’ lead back since 2016, rushing for 973 yards last season.
--Related to the above...Jerry Brewer / Washington Post
“Since 2006, the NFL has been lobbying hard to expand the schedule from 16 to 18 games. Two collective bargaining agreements ago, owners managed to include a provision to lengthen the regular season, but it was never enacted because it required notifying the players at least 90 days in advance and negotiating additional compensation with the union.
“An actual in-depth proposal was presented to the players in 2010, during the previous round of CBA haggling. The union rejected it. The sides took a contentious route to a new deal, including the owners locking out the players for 4 ½ months of the 2011 offseason. That agreement expires after the 2020 season, which means that now is the time to start talking. Discussions reportedly have been encouraging so far. But the tired idea of 18 games, or any kind of regular season or playoff expansion, continues to creep into the conversation.”
But this isn’t happening. You’d have to expand the rosters, Brewer says, from 53 to 60 players, which adds more jobs, but the players’ limit is 16 games, so to go to 18 would likely require “mandatory rest,” which could have teams tanking late in the season.
“There’s a fine line between believing in your product and being so arrogant that you think you can roll out your product, in any form, and expect people to be thrilled just because it carries the label of an NFL game.”
Brewer does have one idea that is different. Eliminate one of the four preseason games, playing 16 games over 18 weeks “and giving every team two byes. It adds another week of regular season programming without really doing anything. It also might provide enough wiggle room to give teams a bye before playing a Thursday night game. If the NFL truly cares about its players and the quality of its product, it will do everything possible to eliminate the perilous Sunday-to-Thursday transition.
“For now, the point isn’t to love any idea or set of ideas over an 18-game schedule. It is to look at the many things you could try, in some form, before zeroing in on expanding the season. The NFL acts as if a beefier schedule is the only option. It’s not. It’s the easiest, laziest option.”
--Sports Illustrated’s preview has the Patriots over the Colts in the AFC Championship game, Saints over the Rams in the NFC, with the Pats beating the Saints in the Super Bowl.
Of course SI wasn’t counting on Luck retiring!
But, boy, this will really, really suck. I’m wondering if I’m even going to watch a single game if this is the result (the Pats winning) in the end. Why bother?
Johnny Mac, send me my sword! [I won’t use it until I see how the Mets do in the wild card chase.]
SI has the Jets going 8-8, which to me would be a big disappointment (I’m guessing 9-7, but in the hunt until the final weekend) and the Giants 4-12, which would mean Daniel Jones indeed gets his shot early on.
Boy, if you’re a Redskins fan, SI has you going 3-13. I’ll send you the sword after I’m finished with it.
--Mets fans gave each other high fives on learning that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office put a kibosh on Tom Brady’s effort to take control of the nickname “Tom Terrific,” the office making it clear that the nickname “points uniquely and unmistakably to Tom Seaver.”
It added that giving Brady a trademark for “Tom Terrific” might lead people to conclude that the Hall of Fame pitcher endorses products, rather than the New England Patriots quarterback.
Brady, ever the a-hole, said he doesn’t even like the nickname and was just trying to trademark it to keep others from using it without his permission.
But us Seaver fans knew Brady was trying to appropriate our hero’s identity, and so for this, Tom Brady goes in the December file for “B.D.O.T.Y.” [“Biggest.....” you can figure out the rest.]
--We note the passing of former NFL lineman Barry Bennett, who was shot to death, as well as his wife, by their son. Their bodies were found Wednesday in their home near Long Prairie, a small town northwest of Minneapolis. The son fled to Mexico, where he was arrested Saturday.
Bennett was a Minnesota native who went to a small school in the state and then played 11 seasons in the NFL, mostly with New Orleans and the Jets.
And we’re off...the season that is....
No. 8 Florida beat Miami 24-20 at the Camping World Kickoff, but the Gators hardly looked like world beaters, committing four turnovers in a sloppy contest. Quarterback Feliepe Franks, billed as a rising star in the SEC, kind of sucked.
--Hawaii quarterback Cole McDonald threw four touchdowns and four interceptions as the Rainbow Warriors defeated Arizona at home, 45-38.
--Bad loss for Colgate, preseason No. 14 in FCS (Div. I-AA), 34-14 to Villanova.
The coaches poll, headed into the season, has perennial champion North Dakota State No. 1 again, followed by 2. James Madison and 3. Eastern Washington.
--Sally Jenkins / Washington Post
“Appearances matter – to some people. But apparently not to those paunchy administrators who cheat captive young people to the tune of seven figures, known as collegiate athletic directors. If you think this assessment is too harsh, check out the Ritz-Carlton Oceanside resort where the College Football Playoff selection committee stayed last week, at the expense of the kids who actually play the game.
“The 13-member committee won’t be issuing any rankings until November, yet somehow they required a multiday conference at the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel, a California beachfront hotel where the cheapest rooms start at $681 a night.
“How did committee chair Rob Mullens of Oregon and his colleagues – who include athletic directors Joe Castiglione of Oklahoma, Scott Stricklin of Florida, R.C. Slocum of Texas A&M, Todd Stansbury of Georgia Tech, Gary Barta of Iowa and Terry Mohajir of Arkansas State – justify this summer convocation at the Ritz, you might ask? According to the CFP press office, the committee ‘reviewed the schedule for its weekly rankings, went over its protocol, and finalized the list of members who will be recused’ from voting on certain schools. They also went over how to use their electronics and video.
“Now, look. The schedule for weekly rankings is this: They come out every Tuesday. They always come out every Tuesday.
“As for the ‘protocol’ it was written in 2012 and has not changed. And recusal is pretty simple: you can’t vote for your own school.
“But for some reason these matters required deep thought on the beach at Dana Point.”
Ms. Jenkins was tipped off to this whole charade by some major collegiate donors who were vacationing there and watched the whole deal disgustedly.
“Meals on the terrace overlooking the ocean,” they wrote. “Meeting rooms with ocean views.”
As Jenkins writes, the selection committee is certainly entitled to meet somewhere at a decent hotel, “But at the Ritz?”
“This offends the senses – and it shows a telling carelessness if not a callousness toward athletes. The colossal billion-dollar revenue of the College Football Playoff are driven by the players – not administrators – and yet the system feeds everyone to excess except for them....
“How entitled must these athletic directors be that they would go on a spree to the Ritz in this climate? Think about what it must have cost – 13 people for multiple days, plus meeting rooms and meals, plus the flights.... (The) donor-couple – who said the CFP folks stayed for three days – helped me out with what they paid at the resort’s steakhouse. A salad, signature cut and one side dish, with no alcohol, coffee or dessert, cost $158.”
Jenkins goes on....but you have long gotten the point. It’s outrageous.
Golf Balls / Tour Championship
So I was on the record as saying I loved the new format; starting the points leaders for the finale in a handicap situation. You have to admit, with Justin Thomas beginning the championship at East Lake at -10, at the end of the first round it totally felt like a normal golf tournament.
Of course the system can always be tweaked. As NBC’s Dan Hicks pointed out, it’s kind of absurd to have The Masters...a tradition unlike any other, on CBS...count for less in points than the first FedEx Cup Playoff event at Liberty National. So you probably do something with that.
But I think East Lake as a course for the finale has been underrated and I like it more and more each year.
That said, Geoff Shackleford of Golfweek had a piece this week on creating a rota for the Tour Championship, going East and West Coast, and given the new format of completing the season before football starts, golf has this weekend basically to itself. So why not a prime time finish on Sunday?
Anyway, as for the action today, and this week, good on Rory McIlroy, who not only captured his 17th PGA Tour title, but this year ended up with 14 top 10s in 19 events, including the bookend Players and Tour Championships. [Plus he won the Canadian Open.]
The only blemish, aside from not winning a major another year, was that godawful first hole at The Open Championship in his home country.
That said, Brooks Koepka has to be Player of the Year, with his 2-1-2-4 finishes in the majors (the win at the PGA), plus a WGC event and one other win.
--Rory had two major clutch putts to seal the $15 million first-prize on Nos. 16 and 17.
--I do have to add that Dustin Johnson had a terrible finish to his season. After winning the WGC-Mexico event, he finished T-2 at both the Masters and PGA. But since then he had just two T-20s in his last eight, including T-29 this week. Look for coming stories/rumors.
--And look for stories about Rory’s caddie...who should be taking home a check for $1.5 million, 10 percent of Rory’s $15 million.
--Lastly, how about that lightning strike Saturday?! Good lord...thank god no one was seriously hurt. That is something all golfers will remember for a long, long time. As in don’t be an idiot when the skies look stormy. [Ditto spectators....the problem is at such events there are few places to go that are safe.]
--Here is a stat I guarantee you won’t find anywhere else. Rory McIlroy now has 81 top 10s in 168 career starts on the PGA Tour.
As Ronald Reagan would have told Nancy while reading the Monday morning sports page, Nancy refilling his coffee, ‘Not bad, not bad at all.’
Two big upsets this weekend. Crystal Palace had a rather shocking road win at Manchester United, 2-1, while today my Tottenham Hotspur lost to Newcastle at home, 1-0. Just pathetic, though I’m the one who said ‘bunk’ to the BBC’s Phil McNulty, who has Newcastle being relegated this season, your editor saying they would finish “around 12.” But at 1-1-1, the season is already in tatters for the Spurs. Drat!
In other games of note, Man City defeated Bournemouth 3-1, Liverpool won its biggie with Arsenal 3-1, Chelsea picked up its first win, 3-2 at Norwich, and the Wolves and Burnley played to a 1-1 draw.
Yesterday, I noticed that the Travers Stakes was being run around 6:00 p.m. and I flipped on the pre-race coverage at 5:00. I saw who was running and recognized like two names and thought, ‘Boy, this isn’t good.’
There was a time, especially pre-Breeders Cup, that the Travers was the fourth-biggest race of the season, after the three Triple Crown events. It was the big race in years when there wasn’t a Triple Crown winner, meaning most of them, that decided the 3-year-old of the year.
[This will be a major trivia question down through the years, but American Pharaoh was defeated at the Travers...and then came back to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic to seal his ‘horse for the ages’ label.]
Well, Code of Honor, runner-up in the Kentucky Derby, won yesterday (over morning-line favorite Tacitus), but by the time the race actually rolled around, I had switched to the Yankees-Dodgers game and forgot about the Travers come post-time! [Very short attention span these days.]
But as I’ve been writing since the incidents started mounting at Santa Anita, this sport is in deep trouble. The following reinforces this.
Joe Drape / New York Times
“Last month in the Lake George Stakes, horse players were presented with a rare such thing, even if was not going to be profitable: a horse trained by Chad Brown was going to win. In fact, it was better than that, Brown’s horses were a lock to run first, second and third.
“The reason? His were the only three horses in the field, a startling occurrence considering the Lake George was a stakes race with a guaranteed purse of $150,000 for high-end three-year old fillies.
“ ‘It’s never happened before, and it’ll probably never happen again, so it was definitely unusual,’ Brown said in the winner’s circle after Regal Glory beat her stable mates.
“Some advice for Chad: Do not be so sure.
“There is a horse shortage in thoroughbred racing, one that has contributed to the reduction of races and race days at Saratoga Race Course. The same shortage has cost Del Mar Turf Club in South California tens of millions of dollars in lost handle this summer.
“Despite a robust field of 12 expected for the Travers Stakes on Saturday, the math is not pretty for a sport fighting for its future after a series of avoidable missteps. In 1990, more than 44,000 racehorses were foaled in North America, according to the Jockey Club, which keeps the thoroughbred registry. The figure was reduced to 20,500 in 2019.
“After 30 horses were injured and euthanized at Santa Anita Park in a brutal stretch from January through April, horsemen and racetrack executives have scrambled to put in meaningful drug and safety reforms in response to the public outcry that threatens the sport’s existence. That is not an overstatement.
“News coverage of the racing industry’s struggles has accelerated, according to an analysis by Xenophon Strategies, a crisis management company, that presented at a recent Jockey Club conference. The firm’s study showed 20,000 news articles published since Jan. 1, with the 27th death at Santa Anita sparking 300 articles in three days in publications reaching 90 percent of the American public.
“ ‘I am the most anti-alarmist person in the room; with that being said, this story is not going away,’ David Fuscus, Xenophon’s chief executive, said at the conference. ‘You can’t wait it out, you can’t part the waters. This is the most critical time American horse racing has ever experienced.’”
The Breeders’ Cup is being held Nov. 1-2 at Santa Anita. Fingers crossed.
I should add that as Joe Drape points out, Saratoga was successful in reducing its schedule from six to five days a week, with the handle nearly 10% greater than last year. Less is more.
But Del Mar stayed with its five-day schedule, though with a reduced number of races, and it’s been a disaster.
--The fastest man in the world, American Christian Coleman, a budding Olympic star, is mired in a doping case that could threaten his eligibility for next summer’s Tokyo Games.
Coleman missed three drug tests in a 12-month period, which could trigger a suspension that bars the 23-year-old from this year’s IAAF world championships and next year’s Olympics, according to various reports.
Coleman has posted the fastest 100-meter time of the year – 9.81 seconds – and was expected to be one of the United States’ biggest stars in Tokyo, in line to assume Usain Bolt’s throne in track and field’s signature sprint race.
Coleman is disputing at least one of the missed tests, according to the Daily Mail, and his ability to race in the world’s biggest events in the next year could hinge on those efforts. He could be facing a two-year ban from the sport if he’s unable to present a compelling defense.
Missing a drug test is treated as a doping violation, and three misses can be treated as a positive test.
--Washington Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov was suspended for four years from international play by the International Ice Hockey Federation after a positive test for cocaine. At this time, he is not facing discipline from the NHL, which does not consider cocaine a performance enhancing substance.
The Capitals weren’t caught off guard by Friday’s revelation. Earlier this summer, a video of Kuznetsov sitting next to two lines of white powder circulated on social media, and Kuznetsov subsequently denied the use of any drugs.
NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly and the Capitals released separate statements Friday, saying Kuznetsov voluntarily sought help through an education and counseling program and agreed to a regular testing protocol as part of that program.
Commissioner Gary Bettman could still opt to discipline the star, who was the Capitals’ leading scorer in their run to the Stanley Cup a year ago, tallying 12 goals and 20 assists in 24 games.
Kuznetsov’s IIHF ban will bar him from participating in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, regardless of whether NHL players are allowed to play.
--With DeMarcus Cousins probably lost for the season because of a torn ACL in his left knee, the Lakers signed veteran center Dwight Howard to a non-guaranteed contract that comes with a clear message, according to league sources: Disrupt the team – and you’ll be gone.
Howard, an eight-time All-Star, met with Lakers management, coaches and teammates, including Anthony Davis, as he sold himself as a player who had hit “rock bottom,” in the words of one in attendance, and that he’d humbly accept any role to help the team.
But Howard has been selling this story to one team after another for years, only to infuriate coaches and teammates with his selfish, and often childish, behavior both on and off the court. The Lakers will be his sixth team in five years – far from his All-Star and All-Defensive team performances with Orlando and Houston.
Howard is surrendering $2.6 million of his $5.6 million guaranteed salary to Memphis in a buyout, but he can earn back the $2.6 million on his veteran’s minimum deal with L.A. if he survives on the roster beyond Jan. 7.
--NASCAR was off this week...next week at Darlington as the playoffs loom.
--A South African safari lodge owner known as “The Lion Man” was mauled to death by the big cats on his game reserve.
Leon van Biljon, 70, was killed by his own captive lions as he attempted to fix a broken fence, the Times of London reported.
The three lions that attacked the lodge owner were reportedly shot dead so medics could attempt to save him.
Our sympathies to both families.
Top 3 songs for the week 8/25/79: #1 “My Sharona” (The Knack) #2 “Good Times” (Chic) #3 “The Main Event/Fight” (Barbra Streisand)...and...#4 “After The Love Has Gone” (Earth Wind & Fire...valiantly attempt to save the week...) #5 “Bad Girls” (Donna Summer) #6 “Don’t Bring Me Down” (Electric Light Orchestra) #7 “The Devil Went Down To Georgia” (The Charlie Daniels Band...tune hasn’t aged well...but then I haven’t either...) #8 “Lead Me On” (Maxine Nightingale) #9 “Mamma Can’t Buy You Love” (Elton John) #10 “Sad Eyes” (Robert John...summer between my junior and senior years at Wake...had to attend summer school to get some credits so I could graduate on time....almost a fatal mistake as I then screwed up the classes...spent the summer working out at the track and hitting, err, a tavern at night...)
U.S. Open Championship Answer: Seven American men to win the Open since 1968.
Arthur Ashe 1968
Stan Smith 1971
Jimmy Connors 1974, 76, 78, 82, 83
John McEnroe 1979, 80, 81, 84
Pete Sampras 1990, 93, 95, 96, 02
Andre Agassi 1994, 99
Andy Roddick 2003
The action starts Monday.
1969 Mets, cont’d....
After drawing 140,000 at Shea for three games against the Giants, the Dodgers came in for a weekend set and another 140,000 showed up to watch the Metsies sweep L.A.
Aug. 22: Mets win 5-3, as they scored 4 runs early off Bill Singer (15-8, 1.98)*, Ron Swoboda with a 2-run homer, while Jerry Koosman (11-8) picked up the win, Tug McGraw a 3-inning save.
Aug. 23: Mets win 3-2 on Jerry Grote’s game-winning double off reliever Jim Brewer in the ninth. Don Cardwell went 7 2/3 for New York, allowing just one earned, but Ron Taylor picked up the win. Jim Bunning pitched seven effective for L.A. I totally forgot the Dodgers had acquired him a week earlier from the Pirates.
Aug. 24: Mets complete the sweep 7-4, as a resurgent Swoboda drove in four, including 3 with a bases clearing double off the same Jim Brewer. Gary Gentry was ineffective in his start for New York, but Cal Koonce (6-3) picked up the win with three scoreless, his sixth straight win out of the pen after starting the season 0-3.
So the Mets were 71-52, 5 ½ back of Chicago. They were also 21-5 against the California teams and now they head back out west for 10 against the same trio.
*Bill Singer had kind of an interesting career. 1969 was the first of his two 20-win seasons, 20-12 (2.34 ERA), throwing 315 innings. In 1973, he was 20-14 for the Angels, throwing 315 innings that year as well.
But I would have lost major coin if you asked me if he was better than .500 for his career. Of course he was...except he wasn’t. 118-127, but a fine 3.39 ERA. He did throw a no-hitter for the Dodgers against the Phillies in 1970.
Singer wasn’t a great hitter, to say the least. Try .109 in 413 ABs.
Next Bar Chat, Thursday.