|Articles||Go Fund Me||All-Species List||Hot Spots||Go Fund Me|
|Web Epoch NJ Web Design | (c) Copyright 2016 StocksandNews.com, LLC.|
Djokovic Bags his 20th
Add-On…posted Wed. a.m.
--The All-Star Game was decent entertainment last night, the A.L. winning its eighth straight, 5-2, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. with a monster 468-foot home run, while Shohei Ohtani pitched a scoreless opening inning, good enough for the win, after leading off the game for the A.L. squad. [He was 0-for-2 at the plate.]
It was a solid night for the sport, despite all the no-shows among the players. The young guys showed up and that’s all that mattered.
Monday, the Mets’ Pete Alonso defended his home run derby title.
--Meanwhile, prior to Tuesday’s ASG, commissioner Rob Manfred and MLB Players Assn. executive director Tony Clark addressed a range of issues concerning the sport at a Baseball Writers Assn. of America meeting.
One thing that emerged is that it would appear seven-inning doubleheaders and automatic extra-inning baserunners might be out come next season.
Manfred said the league might discuss other “non-radical” rules changes with the Players Assn., such as adding the designated hitter to the N.L. or implementing regulations against infield shifts.
As the Collective Bargaining Agreement is set to expire in about five months, one hopes some of the rancor between the two sides is dissipating. Both have way too much to lose if the players walked next winter, or the owners locked them out.
--Entering the second half, who wudda thunk that the Angels’ David Fletcher would have a 24-game hitting streak? Ah, like no one.
I mean the fourth-year player has proven to be a quality ballplayer, you just wouldn’t think he’d get on such a roll. For the season he’s batting .309, though with only a .718 OPS.
--On the other side of the Ledger, Johnny Mac noted a few godawful first half performances.
Javy Baez may have 21 homers and 56 RBIs, but he has 115 Ks and just 14 walks, which adds up to a pathetic .284 on-base percentage.
Eugenio Suarez, who in 2019 had 49 home runs and 103 RBIs, with a .930 OPS for the Reds, is hitting .175 this season, with a .256 OBP and .372 slugging percentage. Suarez showed signs of this last year in batting .202 for the short season.
And Jackie Bradley Jr., who is not only batting just .167 for the Brewers, but he has an OPS of .532.
San Francisco 57-32…second-best ERA to Dodgers; most HR in MLB
Los Angeles 56-35…2 GB
San Diego 53-40…6
Philadelphia 44-44…3 ½
Tampa Bay 53-37…1 ½
--So for the first time I watched the MLB Draft on Sunday, and I was thinking I was curious where Wake Forest pitcher Ryan Cusick would go, which after all I had read appeared to be late first round, which was the case….Cusick No. 24 by Atlanta, the kid with as good a fastball as anyone in the draft, so we wish him well.
Wake had four others selected in the latter rounds, including Bobby Seymour, who was the 2019 ACC Player of the Year with an NCAA-best 92 RBIs. He was destined to be a second- or third-rounder, but opted to stay in school, then the pandemic hit, and with no certainty, chose to come back for 2021, whereupon he hit 21 home runs in 47 games, second-most in the nation.
But the Deacs had a terrible season and Seymour wasn’t drafted until the 13th round by Tampa Bay.
--But while the Pirates took Louisville catcher Henry Davis as the No. 1 overall pick, and Vanderbilt’s Jack Leiter (from my hometown of Summit, N.J., growing up just about 1 ½ miles from me, though he didn’t go to Summit High School), my Mets got a steal…the other pitcher from Vandy, Kumar Rocker.
Rocker fell into our laps at No. 10 and the kid with the electric slider should be in the big leagues at some point next season. I’d just be worried that he threw 122 innings this year for the Commodores after throwing only 15 innings last season as a result of the pandemic. Maybe give him one or two starts in the minors, after a good break from his college campaign, where he lost Game 3 in the NCAA finals to Mississippi State, and then shut him down.
--Sunday after I posted the Bucks dominated the Suns in Game 3, 120-100, as Giannis took charge with 41 points, 13 rebounds and 6 assists.
For Phoenix, who leads the series 2-1 heading into tonight’s Game 4 in Milwaukee, they were hurt by Deandre Ayton’s foul trouble that limited him to 24 minutes, while Devin Booker was just 3 of 14 from the field.
--Kawhi Leonard underwent surgery Tuesday to repair what the Clippers described as a partially torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. He could be out awhile.
Leonard has a player option for the final year of his contract of $36 million. Assuming he does opt in, he could later sign a long-term extension worth up to $181 million over four years.
--Team USA lost another exhibition game heading into the Olympics, 91-83 to Australia, and the Las Vegas crowd was none too kind to the hometown boys. I know the squad is missing three players who are playing in the NBA Finals, but they are going to be tired as hell. Coach Gregg Popovich certainly has his work cut out for him.
However, before we bury our boys, they defeated Argentina 108-80 last night.
The Open Championship
--It’s going to be awesome to have golf back in the UK for The Open Championship after last year’s cancellation. But a few big names won’t be there for various reasons. It certainly opens things up for a Cinderella story…a guy who only made the field, for example, because Bubba Watson had to withdraw due to Covid contact tracing. Personally, I’ll go with Victor Hovland to bag the Claret Jug.
--Bryson DeChambeau opened up about his well-documented caddie split with Tim Tucker two weeks ago.
On Monday, he introduced his new caddie, 33-year-old Brian Zeigler, during a practice round. Ziegler is an instructor at Dallas National where DeChambeau routinely plays.
“We both had so many things going on in the background, our private lives…not willing to talk about that part of it, but just letting everyone know there is more than meets the eye,” DeChambeau said. “You can’t judge a book by its cover on what happened.
“So, what I gain out of Ziegler is somebody who has a fresh perspective on things. I think that’s a good thing for me because right now I’m at a point of time in my life where I think I needed a little bit of a change, something to be different.”
Alex Miceli / Morning Read
“In talking to other experienced caddies, the belief is that DeChambeau is one of the most challenging bags on Tour. Tucker was actually in his second tour of duty with DeChambeau. The first go-round ended rather poorly as DeChambeau was new to professional golf and didn’t understand the importance of a good caddie.
“When DeChambeau went back to Tucker a second time, both sides worked through their issues and were better as a result. DeChambeau has become one of the best players in the world and Tucker made enough money to start a luxury coach business at Bandon Dunes called The Loop. It’s a venture that DeChambeau not only supports enthusiastically, but would be willing to invest in if the opportunity came about.
“ ‘We came up with some amazing experiments that helped me understand how to be consistent on the golf course,’ DeChambeau said of his second stint with Tucker. ‘For example, all the speed stuff we do, all of the air density stuff we do, that was Tim, wholeheartedly. That was him figuring a lot of this stuff out. Again, at those moments of time, it was amazing, everything was awesome.’
“DeChambeau admittedly disagrees that he is a difficult employer and believes that most people don’t understand him or how much he and his caddie actually do in the background.
“ ‘Sometimes it looks like it’s not a lot of fun and I think that is misconstrued a lot and they’re going to be people that don’t understand it,’ DeChambeau said. ‘Everybody lives their own lives, and they have perspectives on things. I can tell you, with my heart or hearts, I’m having the most fun I’ve ever had on the golf course.’
“ ‘We wanted to make it a good ending,’ said DeChambeau of his split with Tucker. ‘We didn’t want it to be bad and even though it looked bad, in the end it worked out the best for everybody.’
“DeChambeau said he would have Tucker back on the bag if, for whatever reason, Zeigler needed to take a break. As of now, though, it’s clear the bag belongs to Ziegler.”
--I didn’t have a chance last time to note that Jim Furyk won the U.S. Senior Open Championship to hold off Retief Goosen and Mike Weir by three strokes. Furyk thus became the eighth player to win both the U.S. Open and U.S. Senior Open, joining the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino, Billy Casper and Gary Player.
Euro 2020 Fallout
I told you it was going to be ugly.
--Mike Freeman / USA TODAY
“When three Black English soccer players missed spot-kicks Sunday in a penalty shootout – following a 1-1 tie with Italy in the Euro 2020 final – a number of Black friends, and Black people on Twitter, all had the same reaction: Those three men are going to face incredible racial abuse.
“That’s exactly what happened, and it was entirely predictable. Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho, 23 and 21, respectively, and Bukayo Saka, who is just 19, faced such intense online abuse it’s prompted police investigations in the UK.
“In the aftermath of another ugly and racial moment in English soccer, there’s lots of hand-wringing, and blaming, of social media. Twitter and other mediums are of course part of the problem, but the issue is far deeper. The issue is cultural. The issue is a purely human one.
“Hatred always seems to find an unending source of fuel. It defeats hashtags, speeches and common sense. It inhabits outhouses and White Houses. It’s on Main Street and Downing Street. It’s the most potent enemy today; more contagious than any virus and more threatening than any asteroid. Hatred is so consuming that it takes a wonderful game like soccer – a pure, beautiful game – and transforms it into something ugly.
“Hatred is unbeaten because we keep helping it win despite the fact it doesn’t need our assistance.
“No American has the right to point fingers at the UK and its problem with race….
“But what happened in the UK will seem strikingly familiar to people in the U.S. The English team has been a strong anti-racist force, taking a knee before games to highlight the problem with racism, the same way Colin Kaepernick did, and each time, it was booed.
“Prime Minister Boris Johnson, at the start of the Euro tournament, wouldn’t condemn the booing, thus seeding the ground for potential abuse later. Johnson’s political opposition told the media after the Italy game that ‘inactions of leaders have consequences.’
“Keir Starmer, leader of the Labour Party, added that Johnson, ‘Failed the test of leadership because whatever he says today about racism, he had a simple choice at the beginning of this tournament in relation to the booing of those who were taking the knee. The prime minister failed to call that out, and the actions and inactions of leaders have consequences, so I’m afraid the prime minister’s words today ring hollow.’….
“Gary Neville, a former Manchester United player and now a TV broadcaster, said he wasn’t surprised the three players were targeted.
“ ‘The prime minister said it was OK for the population of this country to boo those players who are trying to promote equality and defend against racism,’ he said on Sky News. ‘It starts at the top, and so for me, I wasn’t surprised in the slightest that I woke up this morning to those headlines.’
“ ‘You don’t get to stoke the fire at the beginning of the tournament by labeling our anti-racism message as ‘Gesture Politics’ & then pretend to be disgusted when the very thing we’re campaigning against, happens,’ tweeted defender Tyrone Mings to a member of the Conservative Party, who had earlier blasted the players.
“English soccer has gotten better since its hooligan days, but there was clearly a building up to a moment like this. All that was needed was a match.
“Should social media do more to stop online racist abuse? Of course.
“Before Twitter can clean up its mess, human beings have to clean up ours….
“There’s a mural that was created for Rashford in Manchester for his charitable work, mainly pushing the government to provide free lunches for people during the pandemic. It was vandalized. It’s since been covered with pictures, hearts and words of encouragement from members of the community, but the fact it was defiled says a lot about where we are, and it’s not a good place.
“The Black players, in many ways, were effectively alone and facing remarkable levels of vile, guttural racism.
“That’s because of us. All of us.
“Not because of Twitter.”
Cindy Boren / Washington Post
“The exuberance of England’s appearance in the European Championship final was quickly overtaken by disappointment in a loss to Italy and the ensuing racist attacks aimed at the three Black players who missed penalty kicks….
“ ‘It is down to me,’ (manager Gareth) Southgate said at a Monday news conference. ‘I decided on the penalty-takers based on what they have done in training. Nobody is on their own. We have won together as a team, and it is on all of us together to not be able to win this game. In terms of penalties, it is my call and it totally rests with me.’….
“Southgate knew how gutted Saka felt after missing the kick because he missed a spot kick 25 years ago in a Euro semifinal against Germany. ‘Every single day now, when I walk down the street, it is always mentioned to me. Of course, it is annoying,’ he told FourFourTwo (via Wales online) in 2012. ‘When you have played for 20 years and that is the first thing people think about you, it is a bit of a downer. Some people still abuse me about it in the street.’….
“On Sunday, Southgate chose not to have Raheem Sterling, with more experience, take a shot, instead sending Rashford and Sancho in off the bench. Both missed… Southgate called them ‘the best takers we had left on the pitch.’
“On Monday, Harry Kane tweeted that, ‘last night hurts,’ adding: ‘It’ll hurt for a long time. But we’ve come so far and broken down so many barriers that this is not the end. We win together, lose together and will regroup together for the World Cup. Thanks for all your support this summer.’”
Ken Early / Irish Times
“England’s run to the final of the European Championship turned out to be an elaborate build-up to the most painful penalty punchline they have ever suffered….
“Jordan Pickford’s save from Jorginho, one of the world’s best penalty takers, had seemed to tip the shootout back in England’s direction, but Saka still needed to score to send the game to sudden death. Gianluigi Donnarumma dived left to save, and football was coming to Rome.
“It was a stunning end to what had been a stunning final day. All week the English had whipped themselves into a frenzy of anticipation and the day dawned with a sense of wonder at what the long hours leading up to kickoff might bring. Early in the morning queues were already forming at pubs and beer gardens. By mid-afternoon it was clear we were witnessing a pre-celebration of truly historic proportions. The spirit of the day was personified by the man in Leicester Square who, noticing someone had lobbed a yellow plastic traffic cone in his direction, fearlessly headed it away.
“The English army marched on Wembley in a riot of dangling nutsacks and flares stuck up arses, pausing only to scale tall objects and snort handfuls of white powder to the cheers of their comrades. At the stadium a scene developed which was somewhere between the Rio Carnival and the Capitol riots. Order broke down as groups of ticketless fans surged past security and pushed their way into the lower tier.”
And then we had the game.
“In England’s favor they still had that bench, stacked with talent, strength in depth that Italy could not match. The substitutes had been decisive in extra time against Denmark. And yet as the time ticked by, Gareth Southgate did nothing. By the 99th minute Italy had made five substitutions, and England only two. Only then did Southgate at last introduce (Jack) Grealish, but Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho did not appear until the very last minutes of extra time.
“Southgate brought them on as penalty specialists, without giving them time to play themselves into the game. Young players who had to take the biggest pressure kicks in English football history having hardly touched the ball. Is this science? Would it not have been better to trust them with some minutes to make an impact in open play? Grealish helped to force Italy onto the back foot: what might have happened if he had been on earlier. The inquest will be long and, one suspects, painful for Gareth Southgate.
“As Italy raucously celebrated their well-deserved success, you had to feel a little bit sorry for England’s manager. By beating Germany and leading England to the final, he was said to have been redeemed from his 1996 penalty miss. But the regrets he will have after this final will be so much worse.”
Finally, I paid Italy short shrift on the win and for the record they won the Euro Championship for a second time.
But as the New York Times’ Jason Horowitz noted, “it was only the latest signal of a national resurgence,” after multiple Covid lockdowns “and inscrutable suffering brought by a brutal pandemic.”
“The inarticulate screams of Sunday night, its cheers for Leonardo Bonucci’s tying goal in the second half and Donnarumma’s two saves in the penalty shootout, its yelps from Roman balconies, Bergamo piazzas and Sicilian seasides translated into expressions of relief and of life returned.”
I mean the same day, Italy’s Matteo Berrettini became the first Italian to play for the men’s singles championship at Wimbledon, Pope Francis showed his face after major surgery, and the Roman rock group Maneskin recently won the Eurovision song competition.
--At Sunday’s NASCAR race, Kurt Busch captured career win No. 33, first of the season, by beating his brother Kyle at Sunday’s race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Kurt locked up a spot in the playoffs and no doubt improved his chances of securing a ride next season.
My DraftKings lineup sucked big time…and at the end of the day…
--A record number of manatees have died this year in Florida, primarily from starvation, wildlife authorities say.
At least 841 of the marine mammals died in waters there between January 1 and July 2, breaking the previous record set in 2013, when 830 died after exposure to harmful algae.
This year biologists say seagrass beds manatees rely on for food are dying out because of rising water pollution.
They say the main issue is the increasing waste contamination of Florida’s waterways, which triggers the accumulation of algae and the loss of seagrass.
Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute said most of the deaths had happened during the colder months, when manatees migrated to the Indian River Lagoon, where most seagrass had died.
As temperatures warmed and the animals dispersed along the Atlantic coast, boat strikes became a leading cause of death last month, official data show.
At least 63 manatees have been struck and killed by boats so far this year.
Next Bar Chat, Sunday p.m.
[Posted early Sun. p.m.]
Folks, half my weekend was literally spent cleaning out the house I grew up in…55 years of junk, Mom and Dad throwing out nothing…financial statements from the ‘70s and ‘80s…all my school papers from elementary school on…they kept everything. It doesn’t help that Dad was brilliant, and he decided to save every single presentation he ever gave, including decades of overseas material.
But thanks to my brother and sis-in-law this weekend, we cleaned out the attic, for the most part. I’ve been spending the last ten weeks over there working on stuff daily, let alone when I was visiting our beloved Dr. Bortrum in his various states of decline.
And thus, not as much time for StocksandNews. Sorry.
I’ll have an Add-On up top sometime Wed. a.m. Lots of mid-season baseball bits.
The Open Championship Quiz: Name the last five Americans to win the Claret Jug. Answer below.
--In the women’s final, Saturday, Australia’s Ashleigh Barty, the No. 1 seed, defeated 8 Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic, 6-3, 6-7, 6-3, to realize a childhood dream, becoming the first Australian woman to win the singles title since Evonne Goolagong Cawley back in 1980. It’s Barty’s second grand slam, the other being the 2019 French Open.
--And then today, world No. 1 Novak Djokovic tied Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal with this 20th Grand Slam title, coming back to beat 7-seed Matteo Berrettini of Italy, 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 6-3.
It was Djokovic’s sixth title at the All England Club, third straight, to go with his nine Australian Open crowns, thee U.S. Opens and two French Opens.
The 34-year-old from Serbia now has the first three legs of the calendar year grand slam, the first to do so since Rod Laver in 1969, Djokovic now heads to the U.S. Open seeking to be the first to win the Grand Slam since Laver did it 52 years ago.
And in between we have the Olympics. Should he win that, and then at Flushing Meadows, Queens, that would be the Golden Slam.
Berrettini was the first Italian to reach a Wimbledon final.
Some of the other men need to start stepping up their games or Djokovic is going to run his Grand Slam total to 25+.
--Earlier, Roger Federer, the oldest quarterfinalist at age 39 (turning 40 Aug. 8), was blitzed in straight sets by 14-seed Hubert Hurkacz, 6-3, 7-6, 6-0, the match taking just 1-hour, 49 minutes.
Afterwards, Federer said, “Of course I would like to play [Wimbledon] again. But at my age, you’re just never sure what’s around the corner.”
--I’m posting before Game 3 of the Finals between the Bucks and Suns, Phoenix up 2-0, tonight’s contest in Milwaukee.
The Suns are now 14-4 in the playoffs overall and it’s largely been about their starting lineup, with five scoring threats. In Game 1, Chris Paul, Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton handled the heavy lifting, and in Game 2, forwards Mikal Bridges and Jae Crowder combined for 38 points and six threes.
For the Bucks, Giannis Antetokounmpo has played great, posting a postseason career-high 42 points in Game 2, despite his hyperextended left knee, but his supporting cast has been inconsistent.
--Meanwhile, Team USA was shocked in its exhibition opener by Nigeria, 90-87, Saturday night in Las Vegas. The Nigerians, who are coached by Golden State assistant Mike Brown, hit 20 three-pointers to pull it off, an enormous upset. It was the Americans’ first loss to a team from Africa.
In the previous meeting between the countries, during the 2012 London Olympics, the Americans won in a 156-73 blowout. One oddsmaker favored the top-ranked Americans by 29 ½ points to beat the 22nd-ranked Nigerians, who were led by several players with NBA experience, including Gabe Vincent and Josh Okogie.
“In a way, I’m kind of glad it happened,” Team USA Coach Gregg Popovich said. “That means nothing if we don’t learn from it. It could be the most important thing in this tournament for us. …Everybody expects us to win every game. That puts some pressure on you.”
Team USA had been 54-2 in exhibition games since 1992.
To attempt to be fair, the U.S. squad had been together all of four days in training camp, while the Nigerians had been preparing for weeks in the Bay Area. Team USA also was missing three players – Devin Booker, Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton – who are in the NBA Finals.
--UCLA received a huge boost for the 2021-22 campaign when star sophomore shooting guard Johnny Juzang announced he was returning for another season after testing the NBA waters.
Juzang’s performance in the NCAA tournament, leading the Bruins to the Final Four, had him rocketing up the NBA draft boards. With his return, UCLA will be a consensus preseason top-five.
--What an awful break for the Atlanta Braves, and baseball overall, as superstar outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. tore his ACL attempting to make a catch in Miami Saturday night, missing the ball and landing awkwardly. He had to be carted off the field.
This really sucks. Acuna was having another outstanding season, with 24 homers, 52 RBIs, 17 stolen bases, and a .990 OPS. We wish him a speedy recovery and hope he’s able to return early next season.
--The Mets split another doubleheader on Saturday against the Pirates and have now played 10 this season, the highest total before the All-Star break by an MLB team since the Blue Jays in 1978.
The Mets lost Game 1 to the Bucs 6-2, as starter Marcus Stroman fell to 6-7, 2.75. Disconcertingly, over his past three starts he has pitched to a 5.54 ERA in 13 innings.
There’s no room for error with the Mets…they need their Big Three, Stroman, Jacob deGrom and Taijuan Walker to repeat their first half performance if the Mets are to have any real shot at not just winning the admittedly weak NL East, but making noise in the playoffs versus the likes of the Giants, Dodgers and Padres.
The Mets then had an awful loss today. After building a 5-0 first inning lead, they allowed the Pirates to storm back and win it 6-5, as the much-praised Mets manager, Luis Rojas, totally mismanaged the bullpen in a ‘bullpen game.’
--So after the Mets won their nightcap last night, 4-2, I quickly flipped on Astros-Yankees and caught the exciting finish as Gerrit Cole had one of his finest hours. After allowing nine earned in 8 1/3 over his last two starts, seemingly impacted by the ban on sticky substances, Cole threw a modern-day masterpiece, completing just the third game of his career, allowing 3 hits and 2 walks, while striking out 12 against perhaps the best offense in baseball. He’s now 9-4, 2.68.
But the big story was how Cole insisted on staying in when manager Aaron Boone came out to the mound, his pitch count soaring, and Cole ended up at 129 pitches, the most in baseball in two years.
It was just a super gutty performance as the Yanks (46-42) have now won 5 of 6 in their attempt to stay relevant, and save Boone’s job in the process.
New York is 3 ½ back for the second wild-card spot.
Make that 4 ½, after the Yanks, just like the Mets, blew a 7-2 lead, Houston scoring six in the bottom of the ninth, the reliable reliever Chad Green imploding, the Astros winning it on a walk-off three-run homer by the totally detested Jose Altuve.
--The Dodgers (55-35) beat the Diamondbacks (26-65) 22-1, Saturday, as L.A. pounded out eight home runs, matching a franchise record, as well as tying a Los Angles franchise record for runs in a game. AJ Pollock and Albert Pujols each homered twice, while Justin Turner and Mookie Betts hit grand slams. The Dodgers now have an MLB-leading nine grand slams on the season.
And L.A. starter Walker Buehler, who was added to the NL All-Star team, improved to 9-1, 2.36 in 18 starts. He has completed six innings or more in 17 of them.
Lastly, not for nuthin’, but Albert Pujols has eight home runs and 23 RBIs for the Dodgers in 107 at-bats. Not too shabby.
Meanwhile, pitcher Trevor Bauer’s paid administrative leave was extended another seven days, MLB announced on Thursday, as it continues its investigation into accusations that Bauer sexually assaulted a woman in Pasadena.
Bauer hasn’t been charged or arrested. The Pasadena Police Department is investigating him for possible felony assault while MLB conducts its own inquiry. A hearing to determine whether the temporary restraining order against Bauer will remain in force is scheduled for July 23.
The leave extends through July 15. Barring an unlikely resolution before then, the league and the union are expected to discuss another extension, perhaps for longer than seven days, to let the investigations play out.
The Dodgers entered the season with an embarrassment of riches in the starting staff, but Dustin May tore his ulnar collateral ligament May 1 and is out for the season. Bauer has his issues, and last Wednesday, L.A. placed Clayton Kershaw on the 10-day injured list because of left forearm inflammation. Kershaw has a 3.39 ERA in 106 1/3 innings across 18 starts this season.
Kershaw has spent time on the injured list every season since 2016, but this is the first time in his career that he’s out with a forearm or elbow injury.
--Saturday, the Mariners (48-42) beat the Angels (44-44) 2-0, as Seattle pitcher Chris Flexen threw seven scoreless and improved to 8-3, 3.51. To us Mets fans, this is remarkable. Flexen was a spot starter for three years with the Metsies, 2017-2019, threw 68 innings and was 3-11 with a 8.07 ERA! He then didn’t pitch in 2020 and now this?
Friday, the Mariners beat the Angels 7-3, but in defeat Shohei Ohtani hit a monster shot, conservatively measured at 463 feet, for home run No. 33.
--Another ex-Met, Matt Harvey, has not had the success Chris Flexen has had this season with the Orioles.
In fact, Harvey, after yielding six earned in 3 2/3 innings in a 10-2 loss to the Blue Jays, Wednesday, is now 3-10, with a ginormous 7.70 ERA. He’s the 10th pitcher to have an ERA that high in his first 18 starts since 1901.
But the Orioles are not giving up on him, at least yet. I hope he turns it around in the second half.
--George F. Will / Washington Post
“Even if you belong in the basket of deplorables – Americans uninterested in baseball – you should be intrigued by the sport’s current problems. At the All-Star break, Major League Baseball’s 2021 season is demonstrating, redundantly, that the quality of the game as entertainment is declining. Paradoxically, the problems arise from reasonable behavior based on abundant accurate information.
“Improved technology generates data about pitches’ spin rates, the launch angles of batters’ swings, particular batters’ tendencies on particular pitches and much more. Improved kinesiology increases pitching velocity. The results include a slower pace of play, diminished action, fewer balls in play and more of them handled by radically repositioned infielders.
“Five seasons ago, there were 3,294 more hits than strikeouts. Three seasons ago, strikeouts edged past hits. Writer Jayson Stark notes that until 2018 there had never been a month with more strikeouts than hits. This April there were almost 1,100 more strikeouts than hits, and writer Tyler Kepner says this season is on a pace for approximately 5,000 more strikeouts than hits. Twenty-four percent of plate appearances end in strikeouts (they are increasing for the 16th consecutive season, partly because today’s average fastball’s velocity is 93.8 mph, 2.7 mph more than 14 years ago. As of mid-June, the .238 collective major league batting average was 15 points below 2019. [Ed. the MLB average is up to .240.] In 2015, teams shifted infielders on 9.6 percent of all pitches. This season, teams are shifting on 32 percent, which will erase perhaps 600 hits….
“Writer Tom Verducci notes that in the last 26 minutes of 2020’s most-watched game, the final World Series game, just two balls were put in play. In this game, the ball was put in play every 6.5 minutes, and half the outs were strikeouts….
“No wonder…major league attendance has fallen 14 percent from its 2007 peak….
“Because pitching velocity is suffocating offense, MLB could move the pitcher’s mound back a foot (from today’s 60 feet six inches) to give batters more reaction time. The changed physiology of pitchers has, in effect, moved the mound closer to home plate: In the 1950s, the Yankee’s 5-foot 10-inch Whitey Ford had a Hall of Fame career. Today, 6-foot- 4-inch pitchers, with long arms and long strides, release the ball significantly closer to the plate than Ford did.
“Requiring four infielders to be on the infield dirt – or, even bolder, requiring two infielders to be on the dirt on each side of second base – as the pitch is thrown, would reduce reliance on home runs, which are four seconds of action, followed by a leisurely 360-foot trot. A 20-second pitch clock might reduce velocity by reducing pitchers’ between-pitches recovery time. And by quickening baseball’s tempo, the clock might prevent baters from wandering away from the batter’s box and ruminating between pitches….
“Baseball fans, a temperamentally conservative tribe, viscerally oppose de jure changes to their game. They must, however, acknowledge the damage done to it by this century’s cumulatively momentous de facto changes in the way it is played. What Edmund Burke said of states is pertinent: ‘A state without the means of some change is without the means of its conservation.’”
Lionel Messi’s long wait for a major trophy with Argentina is over after a 1-0 win against Brazil in the Copa America final.
The 34-year-old, currently a free agent after his contract at Barcelona expired, fell to the turf in a sigh of huge relief, while his former teammate, Neymar, was in tears after he was unable to lead Brazil to victory.
So Messi, a six-time Ballon d’Or winner (best player in the world), finally cleared the major title hurdle. Four separate times, Argentina lost in the finals – three times in the Copa America and once in the World Cup.
The lone goal was scored by Angel Di Maria.
Wow, you’re going to hear about this for a while, the finale between Italy and England at a packed Wembley Stadium.
England scored early, Italy countered, and it was 1-1 after extra time…120 minutes.
Which means a penalty kick ending. I’m one of the few who kind of likes this, but England fans are no doubt very surly in the pubs tonight.
After Harry Kane and Harry Maguire put their kicks in, brilliantly, Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and 19-year-old Bukayo Saka missed.
England’s goalie, Jordan Pickford (Everton), was superb in making two stops, but Italy’s goalkeeper, ol’ whatshisname (it didn’t matter because the three just choked) didn’t have to do much of anything on his three stops.
Here’s the thing. The racist social media posts in the UK will be awful. I can’t help but put it this way…European soccer fans can be terrible racists. You all know that. And Rashford, in particular, is vocal in lashing out against it.
But his penalty kick was so ridiculous, so absurd…and as I quickly jotted down…way too cute…and he just flat out blew it. I’d be ripping the guy…but I’d separate the racial aspect from his pure idiocy. This was among the dumbest PKs in soccer history!
Manager Gareth Southgate subbed Rashford (and Sancho) late just for this purpose…to kick penalties.
Oh well….good for Italy, I guess. Couldn’t give a damn about that team.
--It’s the last weekend before The Open Championship at Royal St. George’s next week and entering the final round of the John Deere Classic in Silvis, IL, we had the following leaderboard….
Sebastian Munoz -16
Brandon Hagy -15
Scott Brown -14
Adam Long -14
Cameron Champ -14
Kevin Na -14
Ryan Moore -14
And I watched literally zero of this tournament…but in the end, Lucas Glover, not any of the above, picked up his fourth career title, and first since 2011; the 41-year-old Glover having won the 2009 U.S. Open.
--At the Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club, in North Berwick, Australian Min Woo Lee, 22, picked up his second European Tour title, and biggest, by winning a playoff over Belgian Thomas Detry and England’s Matthew Fitzpatrick.
Lee and Detry secured spots at the Open Championship, Fitzpatrick having already qualified.
Jon Rahm was seventh, Justin Thomas T8 and Xander Schauffele T10.
--Speaking of next week’s Open Championship, Hideki Matsuyama and Bubba Watson have had to withdraw due to Covid issues. Matsuyama, who first tested positive at last week’s Rocket Mortgage tournament in Detroit, continues to test positive, though he has no symptoms. Watson is out after coming in contact with someone who has tested positive.
--Two-time major champion, Argentinian Angel Cabrera, was sentenced to two years in prison on Wednesday after a judge in his homeland found him guilty of domestic violence.
The judge said his sentence would begin immediately in a rehabilitation facility designed for prisoners guilty of crimes related to alcohol and domestic abuse.
Cabrera, who last played professional golf in September 2020, fled to Brazil following accusations made by his former wife Cecilia Torres Mana.
He was arrested at the beginning of the year in Rio de Janeiro before being extradited to Cordoba in June.
The 2007 U.S. Open and 2009 Masters winner faces at least six other charges of domestic violence dating from 2014 and brought by at least one other woman in addition to Torres Mana.
--Team USA swimmer Michael Andrew confirmed Thursday that he remains unvaccinated for the coronavirus ahead of the Olympics, reaffirming a stance he and his family made clear at the U.S. Olympic swimming trials last month and probably subjecting himself and U.S. officials to further uncomfortable questions when the Games begin in two weeks.
Andrew, 22, said during a remote media availability from the U.S. swim team’s training camp in Hawaii that he chose not to get vaccinated because, “I didn’t want to put anything in my body that I don’t know how I would potentially react to.”
A USA Swimming spokesperson told the Washington Post that the organization could not mandate vaccines for its athletes, because the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee and the IOC have not mandated them, but that unvaccinated athletes and coaches would be subject to enhanced health-and-safety protocols during training camp and in Tokyo.
Well, you know how I feel. The Tokyo Games have the potential to be an absolute debacle.
--We note the passing of Carlos Reutemann, a leading Formula 1 driver in the 1970s and 1980s and later a top politician in Argentina for three decades. He was 79.
Reutemann won 12 Grand Prix races and came within a point of the 1981 world championship, losing out to Nelson Piquet.
After retiring from the sport, he served as a governor in Argentina, serving a second term years later. He had been urged to run for the presidency multiple times, but declined, despite considerable pressure to do so.
Reutemann was out of central casting, movie star looks in a sport where glamor reigns.
--Giant pandas are no longer endangered in the wild, but they are still vulnerable with a population outside captivity of 1,800, Chinese officials have said after years of conservative effort.
The head of the environment ministry’s departure of nature and ecology conservation, Cui Shuhong, said the reclassification was the result of “improved living conditions and China’s efforts in keeping their habitats integrated.”
He said the announcement reflected China’s national efforts to preserve biodiversity in recent years. The authorities have worked to expand giant pandas’ habitats and replanted bamboo forests to feed them.
The number of Siberian tigers, amur leopards, Asian elephants and crested ibis have also “visibly increased” as a result of continuing conservation efforts in recent years, Cui told a press conference.
Well, you know how I feel about the highly-overrated panda, No. 198 on the All-Species List. They are cute for about three weeks and then become nasty a-holes.
Hey, Joe Panda…you’ll move up in the rankings if you accept something other than bamboo in your diet!
--The grizzly bear (No. 11 on the All-Species List) that dragged a woman from her tent and killed her in Montana the other day was shot and killed. It took three days to track the beast. Officials wearing night-vision goggles shot the bear as it raided a chicken coop. They had laid a baited trap near the coop, about 2 miles from Ovando, the small town where the victim, Leah Lokan, was attacked.
Lokan, a long-distance cycling enthusiast, was camping with fellow cyclists behind the town post office. The bear first approached the campers at around 3:00 a.m., but initially ran away.
Lokan and her two companions, who were staying in a separate tent, then removed food from their tents and secured them before going back to sleep. But the bear returned shortly afterwards, leading to the fatal attack.
Top 3 songs for the week 7/11/70: #1 “Mama Told Me (Not To Come)” (Three Dog Night) #2 “The Love You Save” (The Jackson 5) #3 “Ball Of Confusion” (The Temptations)…and…#4 “Ride Captain Ride” (Blues Image) #5 “Band Of Gold” (Freda Payne) #6 “Lay Down” (Melanie with The Edwin Hawkins Singers) #7 “(They Long To Be) Close To You” (Carpenters) #8 “The Long And Winding Road” (The Beatles) #9 “The Wonder Of You” (Elvis Presley) #10 “Hitchin’ A Ride” (Vanity Fare…B+ week…)
The Open Championship Quiz Answer: Last five Americans to win the Claret Jug….
Jordan Spieth 2017
Zach Johnson 2015
Phil Mickelson 2013
Stewart Cink 2009
Tiger Woods 2005-06
I will have an Add-On up top Wednesday morning.