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Dramatics from Portland and San Jose
[Posted Wed. a.m.]
NFL Quiz: Following are some random Hall of Famers. Name the round they were selected in the draft...Lem Barney, Mel Blount, Leroy Kelly, Steve Largent, Curtis Martin, Mel Renfro.
--That was quite a finish in Portland last night, the Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard capping off a 50-point effort by draining a 37-footer at the buzzer for a 118-115 win over Oklahoma City that gave Portland the series 4-1. Lillard was 10 of 18 from three.
For the Thunder, Russell Westbrook had 29 points, 11 rebounds and 14 assists, but he was 11 of 31 from the field, and 16 of 52 the last two games, both defeats.
--I had an eye on the start of the Nets’ Game 5 in Philadelphia last night, the Nets down 3-1 in the series after playing gutty basketball the first four against a better 76ers team.
But Brooklyn fell behind 25-3! as they hit just one of their first 15 attempts from the field, Philly cruising to 32-15 after one, 60-31 at the half, and a final of 122-100, the Sixers taking the series 4-1, with Joel Embiid needing just 20 minutes to rack up 23 points and 13 rebounds.
Philadelphia now moves on to play Toronto, which wrapped up its series against Orlando last night, 115-96. But Nets fans can take heart from what they saw the first four games, and the better part of the season. This is an up-and-comer.
Boston faces Milwaukee in the other Eastern Conference semi, the East holding form in the first round.
In the West, thru Tuesday only Portland had advanced, with the Warriors and Rockets looking to advance tonight, and the Nuggets on Thursday.
--Luke Walton, who after being fired by the Lakers at season end, had been hired as head coach by the Sacramento Kings days later, is now being sued by sports reporter Kelli Tennant for sexual assault.
The alleged incident occurred in 2014, Ms. Tennant saying she delayed coming forward earlier out of a “state of fear.”
Walton’s lawyer called the accusations “baseless.”
The NBA is investigating. This is ugly.
--In college basketball, once again Duke and Mike Krzyzewski will have the top-rated recruiting class, having nailed down shooting guard Cassius Stanley out of Chatsworth, Calif., on Monday, ranked 29th nationally by 247 Sports.
On Friday, Duke signed forward Matthew Hurt (No. 8) to a class that already included big man Vernon Carey Jr. (No. 3), forward Wendell Moore (No. 22) and guard Boogie Ellis (No. 34).
But you saw where all the riches got the Blue Devils last year; the last few, for that matter.
Stanley Cup Playoffs
--Boston took a deciding Game 7 at home against Toronto 5-1 last night, meaning after the first round, there are no Canadian teams remaining in the playoffs, Calgary and Winnipeg having exited earlier.
--But the real drama was in San Jose, with the Sharks down 3-0 to the Vegas Golden Knights in the third period of their Game 7. It was then the Sharks’ captain, Joe Pavelski, was crosschecked with 10:47 to play by Cody Eakin, with Paul Stastny then bumping Pavelski as he fell to the ice, his helmet slamming down. Pavelski was knocked out and bleeding.
The officials huddled as a dazed Pavelski was helped to the locker room and gave Eakin a five-minute major for crosschecking and a game misconduct, much to the dismay of the Golden Knights who saw the penalty as excessive.
San Jose then scored four goals on the single power play in a game that finally ended in overtime, with the Sharks’ Barclay Goodrow’s goal 18:19 into OT sending off Vegas, 5-4. San Jose moves on to face Colorado.
--The Yankees, playing without Judge, Stanton, Hicks, Andujar, Gregorius and Sanchez, among others, won their fifth in a row in Anaheim, defeating the Angels 7-5; a nice turnaround from a miserable 8-10 start.
--The Mets were also playing poorly, 2-6 after a 9-4 start as they headed home to play the Phillies Monday. But the Metsies got a nice bounceback performance from starter Steven Matz in a 5-1 victory, Matz going six strong, while Bryce Harper was ejected for being a jerk. Earlier in the day, New York had received some good news as ace Jacob deGrom’s MRI test on his right elbow showed no damage and he is set to make a start this weekend, Friday, against the Brewers (weather permitting, mused your amateur meteorologist who has examined the forecast).
But last night proved to be truly special as the Mets’ Zack Wheeler became the first pitcher in team history to have two extra-base hits, a double driving in two and Wheeler’s first major league home run, while also striking out 11 in a seven-inning stint, the Mets cruising 9-0.
This effort came after Phils starter Jake Arrieta called out his team following Monday’s lackluster effort. Look for fireworks tonight.
Back to Wheeler, he also became the majors’ first 100-100 player this season – he hit and pitched a ball at least 100 miles per hour, according to Statcast.
And with Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom having homered earlier, last night the Mets became the first National League team in more than 110 years to have three pitchers homer in the first 25 games of the season.
--Former Met Ed Kranepool, he of the ’69 championship team, received some good news the other day. After a long search, Kranepool said doctors have found him a match for a kidney donor. The ‘other No. 7 in New York’ explained that doctors will actually leave him with three kidneys, as they plan to add a third organ and let the two dysfunctional ones shrink.
Surgery is set for early May and if all goes according to plan, he’ll be cleared to celebrate the ’69 team during festivities last weekend in June at Citi Field.
--The latest Baseball America College Rankings....
4. Oregon State
8. UC Santa Barbara
9. Mississippi State
10. Texas A&M
11. East Carolina
12. Georgia Tech
16. North Carolina State
17. North Carolina
As I said last time, Jets and Giants fans have a lot to be excited about come Thursday night; the Jets with the third overall pick, the Giants with the sixth and 17th. Both teams need an edge rusher (don’t we all).
The Jets have six picks in the draft overall, but no second-rounder, and the feeling is they’ll trade the first-round pick they have for one later in the first, and a second-round selection. But I think I would take one of the defensive studs at No. 3.
But Giants fans will go absolutely nuts if they don’t select a quarterback at 6 or 17.
And what is Arizona going to do with the No. 1 overall pick? It’s been assumed they are going with Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray, while trading incumbent Josh Rosen, a first-rounder in 2018.
But some believe the Cardinals will keep Rosen as a cheap backup, seeing as he’s making only $6.19 million over the next three years.
[No team has ever selected quarterbacks in the opening round of consecutive drafts.]
It’s also assumed the 49ers are going with Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa with the second overall pick. But they could trade it for a team wanting a QB. Or will the Giants move up to 2 to get Bosa themselves?
--Last month, during his introductory press conference with the Cleveland Browns, former Giant wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. said little about his time in New York.
Nope, he opted to wait until a late-night Twitter rant on Monday.
Beckham laid into his former team, tweeting about the infamous boat trip, his trade to the Browns and his standing in the Giants locker room, among other things. OBJ appears to have been set off by a comment earlier in the day from general manager Dave Gettleman, who continues to allude to Beckham’s negative effect on the Giants’ “culture” during his time with the team. That’s not how Beckham sees it.
“Ask any one of my teammates of who I was as a teammates and a man and a person,” Beckham wrote in response to a fan who called him a cancer “...yes I’m cancer to a place that’s OK with losing because I want to win that BADDD. Ur absolutely correct !”
Beckham, 26, also made light of how Gettleman framed the Giants signing him to a five-year, $90 million contract, before the season, and then shipping him to Cleveland. The Giants went 5-11 in Gettleman’s first season at the helm.
OBJ: “ ‘We didn’t sign him to trade him...’ you don’t get married to get a divorce...I tried my best, the situation I had been in since I got there never changed...we were still losing,” Beckham wrote. “PERIOD...money doesn’t bring happiness brotha...remember that.”
Beckham also said he “begged” coach Pat Shurmur, with whom he had an uneasy relationship, to be on the sidelines for the Giants final four games for his teammates after his season was ended by injury.
“He told me ‘No’...anything else sir. (That’s to whoever tweeted askin why I didn’t travel while I was hurt...) next.”
And Beckham rebuffed criticism for him and a number of his Giants teammates going on a boat trip in Miami before losing to Packers 38-13 in the wild-card round of the playoffs in 2017. Beckham had only four catches for 28 yards, noting he was targeted a total of seven times.
“And we lost but of 20 points...halftime Hail Mary...packs on the road,” Beckham wrote. “There no victim role, I had a terrible game. Wit not many opportunities to do anything as well. I’m a man. I don’t need to hide. How many play off games have u had???”
When he was told by a fan he needed to move on, Beckham responded: “Lol smh damn that’s crazy I can’t have a lil funn bro!?!? And trust me I have moved on, sorry if it seems like I haven’t because I just want to speak the truth!”
--Russell Wilson, fresh off signing a four-year, $140 million contract extension with the Seahawks, sent a letter to all 13 of his offensive linemen, expressing his gratitude toward them with $12,000 in Amazon stock, which is a pretty cool idea.
“You sacrifice your physical and mental well-being to protect me, which in turn allows me to provide and care for my family,” Wilson wrote. “This does not go unnoticed and it is never forgotten.”
“You have invested in my life,” Wilson wrote, “this is my investment into yours.”
--I just have to go back to Sunday’s finale at the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links. With Tiger’s win at The Masters, we are now back into the mode of ‘just how interesting is an event that doesn’t have Tiger in the field?’ And as a story in Golfweek pointed out, it’s those events that golf’s big names must stand up.
So there was World No. 1 Dustin Johnson, just two back on the back nine (after having a one-shot lead heading into the final round), a good time for him to go on a birdie run and take the tartan jacket, only he imploded in spectacular fashion...going seven-over in a five-hole stretch, ending up with a 77 (41 on the back nine) and finishing T-28.
Exactly what the Tour doesn’t need, as C.T. Pan, who had not finished better than T-42 this calendar year, posted his first PGA Tour victory.
After impressive final Sundays, especially by a star, I normally call our own Dr. Bortrum to get his sentiments. There was no call from me the other day. When I saw him Monday, we didn’t even discuss it, though we both knew the other was watching...and that’s the problem with golf. We need superstars...a guy each year winning at least five times, including a major, or a player, such as Rory McIlroy or Jordan Spieth, adding to their major win totals.
Speaking of Spieth, boy, what a miserable stretch for him since his win at The Open Championship in 2017. He hasn’t picked up any crystal since...two years come July.
Actually, Spieth doesn’t have a top 20 in 12 events this 2018-19 season.
As for the upcoming two-man team event, the Zurich Classic, I frankly have zero interest in it.
--And interest is minimal these days in the Champions Tour. Scott McCarron won wire-to-wire last weekend at TPC Sugarloaf in Georgia, his ninth victory on the senior circuit, after winning three times on the PGA Tour.
McCarron defeated Jerry Kelly, Joe Durant, Kirk Triplett and Kent Jones.
As in no one is buying a ticket to see that whole group.
But they actually might have purchased a ticket to follow Hall of Fame pitcher John Smoltz, who tied for 61st out of 77 finishers, shooting 80-74-73. Smoltz got in on a sponsor exemption. He previously tied for 53rd in his tour debut back in March.
--There is a story looming that bears watching...the Open Championship in July at Royal Portrush Golf Club in Northern Ireland. The championship hasn’t visited here since 1951 and this was to be a glorious story of how Northern Ireland has changed, with the Good Friday peace accord of two decades ago ending the 30-year conflict known as “the Troubles.” 3,500 died in the conflict.
But last weekend, a 29-year-old journalist, Lyra McKee, was killed during a riot in the city of Derry (Londonderry), 35 miles west of Royal Portrush.
There is going to be an undercurrent of tension, with the “new IRA,” those responsible for McKee’s killing, in the shadows.
Nothing has really changed in the North, save for the fact there are no manned border crossings between the North and the Republic of Ireland as there used to be, which I saw personally way back in one of my early trips there to play golf. Brexit is huge in these parts, specifically how the border is handled in any final agreement between the British government and the European Union.
In the meantime, as Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch wrote of those who will try to gloss over reality come July:
“(The) Open shouldn’t be a masquerade ball that presents Northern Irish society as something it is not. Much has undeniably improved in the 25 years since I emigrated, but not even the Open can obscure the melancholy reality that Northern Ireland remains a society hostage to those who are, in the memorable words of Belfast songwriter Paul Brady, ‘still trying to carve tomorrow from a tombstone.’”
--Men’s Golfweek / Sagarin rankings (Apr.22)
1. Oklahoma State
2. Arizona State
3. Georgia Tech
4. Wake Forest
--Big game Monday, as Chelsea could only manage a 2-2 draw at home against Burnley, all the goals scored in the first 24 minutes. The one point temporarily moved Chelsea into fourth, ahead of Arsenal, but Arsenal has a game in hand.
Then Tuesday, my Tottenham Spurs, coming off their dual matches against Manchester City, and needing to run the table in their final four Premier League games to secure a Champions League berth for next year, hosted 17-place Brighton, who is trying to avoid relegation.
It was 0-0 at New Tottenham Stadium, and most frustrating, as the Harry Kane-less Spurs couldn’t break through (I watched the entire contest), but suddenly, in the 88th minute, Christian Eriksen rifled one home from about 20 yards out, 1-0, and that’s how she ended. Poor Brighton needed the point coming with a draw, and with their schedule, it’s not likely they are winning one of their final three, so this will be another story line come the final Sunday in May.
The standings after Tuesday....
1.Liverpool 35 games – 88 points
2. Man City 34 – 86
3. Tottenham 35 – 70
4. Chelsea 35 – 67
5. Arsenal 34 – 66
6. Man U 34 – 64
Meanwhile, in the battle to avoid relegation....
17. Brighton 35 – 34
18. Cardiff 35 – 31
*Two huge games today...Man U hosting Man City, and Arsenal at Wolverhampton.
--Jason Gay / Wall Street Journal...on “Jeopardy!” and James Holzhauer, the fellow I wrote about last time.
“Watching Holzhauer rock ‘Jeopardy!’ is like watching Tiger rock Pebble Beach in 2000. The website TheJeopardyFan.com says Holzhauer answered 417 of 434 questions correctly through his first dozen appearances. It’s like seeing Usain Bolt on the track, or Katie Ledecky in the pool. It’s like me with a fresh box of Krispy Kremes in the office. I’m not the only one breaking out sports comparisons. ‘James Holzhauer Could be the Serena Williams of Jeopardy!’ read a Slate headline last week.
“Truthfully, Holzhauer is more like the front office of the ‘Moneyball’ Oakland A’s or Houston Rockets, finding value in underused strategies. A bona fide pro sports bettor who now lives in Las Vegas, Holzhauer is rewriting the conventional tactics of play. He’s not timid. He goes out hard, plays aggressively and bets big, prowling for ‘Daily Double’ questions to quickly swell his winnings.
“Of course, he’s also very, very smart. Last week, Holzhauer threw back-to-back perfect games on Thursday. This renaissance sports bettor can glide effortlessly from Flock of Seagulls to automotive history to the Reformation to Tchaikovsky.
“All that, and he can tell me if the Phillies are going to go to the World Series? Sheesh.
“I can’t relate to minds like Holzhauer’s. I’ve barely got the brains to play Whac-A-Mole at a state fair. I can name 20 of 50 state capitals, tops – I wouldn’t remember ‘Frankfort’ if you let me write it on my forehead.
“(Frankfort is the capital of New Mexico. I mean Kentucky.)
“Smart people smartly tend to avoid me – but I do have an old pal, Steve, who won a round of ‘Jeopardy!’ back when Bill Clinton was in office. Steve was amazed when he first heard about Holzhauer’s hyper-confident approach. ‘It felt like somebody had solved the game,’ he told me.
“ ‘The dirty secret of ‘Jeopardy!’ is that all of the contestants generally know most of the answers – that’s what the screening test is for,’ Steve said. ‘The game is just hitting the buzzer first – and not choking on TV. Plus, smart betting. Sounds like he’s got all three down.’....
“(The schedule hiccup caused by Alex Trebek’s health issue) underlines a peculiar element to this story: ‘Jeopardy!’ is not a live product. Holzhauer episodes have been made – at least through season 35. People on the inside know what’s going to happen. It’s sort of like the Golden State Warriors and the NBA playoffs.
“Yes, I know: it’s a quiz show. It isn’t what we’re usually blathering on about over here on the sports page. But come on. Do you really want to read my mock NFL draft?
“Besides, it should make us happy to see The ‘Jeopardy!’ Guy become a topic of national conversation. I’m probably not the only one who’s worried America has given up on celebrating intellect. (Do you watch cable news? Brains feel increasingly nonessential.) I have no idea when James Holzhauer’s brilliant run is going to end, but I’m grateful to him for this: a hopeful peek at a beautiful mind.”
*Holzhauer won for the 14th time Tuesday, $118,816, bringing his total earnings to $1,061,554. He’s the second person in the show’s history to earn more than $1 million in the regular season, Ken Jennings’ 74-game streak earned him $2,520,700.
Holzhauer’s next game is today. We already know the season is over in terms of taping so not being a current watcher of the show in years, I have no idea if this week is it or if he has more possibilities beyond that.
In the meantime, while producers can’t be too happy with the prize winnings, they obviously are thrilled by the PR!
--Brad K. passed along this local story out of Blairstown, N.J.
“A Blairstown woman was attacked by a rabid gray fox over the weekend, Blairstown animal control officer Scott Hendricks said.
“The woman was bitten twice by the fox after the fox killed one of the cats on her farm, Hendricks told NJ.com. The woman had gone out to the barn to feed her cats when she found the fox with the dead cat, Hendricks said. The fox spotted her and attacked her.
“Hendricks told the paper that the woman’s daughter heard noise from the barn and went out to try and help her mom. The daughter threw an ax at the fox; the fox tried to bite the ax and then charged at the daughter, Hendricks said.
“The daughter and a passerby used a shovel to knockout, and then kill, the fox.”
The fox then tested positive.
Top 3 songs for the week 4/28/62: #1 “Good Luck Charm” (Elvis Presley) #2 “Johnny Angel” (Shelley Fabares) #3 “Mashed Potato Time” (Dee Dee Sharp)...and...#4 “Soldier Boy” (The Shirelles) #5 “Slow Twistin’” (Chubby Checker (with Dee Dee Sharp)” #6 “Young World” (Rick Nelson) #7 “Stranger On The Shore” (Mr. Acker Bilk) #8 “Lover Please” (Clyde McPhatter) #9 “Shout – Part I” (Joey Dee & The Starliters) #10 “Twist, Twist Senora” (Gary ‘U.S.’ Bonds....less than two years from the four boys from Liverpool, et al....)
NFL Quiz Answer: Draft round for following Hall of Famers....
Lem Barney, 2nd round, Detroit (Jackson State)
Mel Blount, 3rd round, Pittsburgh (Southern)
Leroy Kelly, 8th round, Cleveland (Morgan State)
Steve Largent, 4th round, Houston (Tulsa)
Curtis Martin, 3rd round, New England (Pitt)
Mel Renfro, 2nd round, Dallas (Oregon)
1969 Mets, cont’d:
April 21: The Mets lost to the Phillies at Shea Stadium, 2-1, in 11 innings, as Woody Fryman went 10 for the Phils to pick up the win, Barry Lersch the save. Gary Gentry threw nine innings of one-run ball for the Metsies.
April 23: After a rainout, the Mets then hosted Pittsburgh and won 2-0 behind Jerry Koosman’s complete game 5-hitter, while Cleon Jones went 3-for-3 at the plate, taking his early-season average up to .444. Only 7,200 were in attendance, the Mets now 6-8. The season is going to suck, but as an 11-year-old, I should be realistic and hope for a .500 season.
Next Bar Chat, Monday.