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Morikawa Bags His Second Major
Add-On, Wed. a.m.
Bucks Win It
I have to repeat for a third time that when it was 2-0 Suns, the sole story line was ‘How could Giannis want to stay in Milwaukee when they’ll never win a title with the supporting cast management surrounds him with?’
And then Milwaukee reels off four straight to clinch their first NBA title in exactly 50 years, as the likes of Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday and Bobby Portis supplied just enough support (especially Holiday in Game 6), while Giannis did his thing, culminating in a 50-point effort last night in Milwaukee as the Bucks wrapped it up, 105-98…a true performance for the ages…that included an unbelievable 17-of-19 free throws – this from a guy hitting just 55.6% of them in the postseason.
For the Finals, Antetokounmpo averaged 35.2 points, 13.2 rebounds and 5.0 assists while shooting 61.8%, the first player in Finals history to reach those numbers.
He also joins Michael Jordan as the only players in NBA history to be MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, Finals MVP, and All-Star Game MVP in the same season.
Milwaukee became the fifth NBA team in 36 times to lose the first two games of a Finals series and win the title.
For Phoenix and Chris Paul, more disappointment. While Paul had a solid Game 6, the other two of the Big Three, Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton, came up small.
--The Dodgers and Giants are battling it out in Los Angeles for the NL West lead, the teams splitting the first two Monday and Tuesday, a third game tonight.
In the East, the Mets ran out their 15th different starting pitcher of the season on Tuesday in Cincinnati, Robert Stock, the most in the majors, and Stock, a recall from Triple-A, lasted all of one inning as he pulled a hamstring in the top of the second while trying to leg out a ground ball.
The Mets, who’ve been playing some exciting baseball, both good and bad, went on to lose 4-3, after a thrilling 15-11, 11-inning win on Monday, which followed Sunday’s come-from-behind, down 6-0, win over the Pirates, which followed the godawful blown 6-0 eighth-inning lead against the same Buccos Saturday, which is when a lot of us Mets fans were on the verge of committing hari-kari.
How the Mets are going to keep it together despite all the injuries to their starting staff, including, most importantly Jacob deGrom, is the issue. As of now, they simply can’t. Carlos Carrasco, who they desperately need, was dreadful in a rehab start last night.
The Mets did catch a break last night when the Yankees, now winners of 8 of 11, beat the Phillies at the Stadium, 6-4.
Speaking of the Yankees, they’re hanging in there and it’s still just July.
Red Sox 57-38
Blue Jays 48-43…7
--After I posted late Sunday afternoon, we learned the Yankees banned the fan who threw a baseball and hit Red Sox left fielder Alex Verdugo from Yankee Stadium for life.
Major League Baseball then banned the fan from its other 29 ballparks.
This is good. Now we need Corporate America, as well as the Small Business Association, to ban the dirtball from any potential job opportunities and ship him to Guatemala, with a sign on his back reading “Kick Me.”
--Also Sunday, the Angels’ David Fletcher saw his hitting streak end at 26, two shy of the club record.
Monday, L.A.’s Shohei Ohtani threw six scoreless innings, 8 strikeouts, lowering his ERA to 3.21, but the struggling Angels lost to the A’s 4-1.
Morikawa and The Open Championship…a final look back
Christopher Clarey / New York Times
“Louis Oosthuizen had certainly paid his dues since winning the British Open in 2010, finishing as runner-up on six occasions at major championships.
“Jordan Spieth had paid a few, too, reviving his fading game after two years of struggle.
“But Collin Morikawa is a young man in a hurry, and on Sunday, he again proved that experience was overrated, winning the British Open on his first attempt by outplaying Oosthuizen in the final pairing and holding off Spieth on the closing holes.
“ ‘You have to embrace it,’ Morikawa, a 24-year-old Californian said. ‘You have to be excited about these opportunities, and that’s how I looked at it today, especially coming down the stretch.’….
“ ‘Clearly, with the shots he’s hit and the putts he’s holed, he’s not afraid of high-pressure situations and winning a major championship,’ Spieth said of Morikawa….
“Morikawa is only the second player to win twice in his first eight majors. The other was Bobby Jones in 1926. For reference, it took Tiger Woods 18 starts to win his first two majors. That is not to imply that we should be rushing to compare Morikawa to Woods… But Morikawa has major dreams of his own.
“ ‘I think he’s got some big goals in mind for his career in golf,’ (caddie J.J.) Jakovac said. ‘You should be more worried about him not enjoying this enough. He is more of a ‘let’s go get the next one’ kind of guy.’
“Was he already talking about the next one on Sunday?
“ ‘No,’ Jakovac said. ‘But he did after the PGA way too soon. I was like, ‘Bro, just relax.’’
“Morikawa seems to have gotten the message.
“ ‘At 24 years old, it’s so hard to look back at the two short years that I have been a pro and see what I’ve done because I want more,’ he said. ‘I enjoy these moments, and I love it. And I want to teach myself to embrace it a little more, maybe spend a few extra days and sit back and drink out of this.’
“He was referring to the claret jug, which is awarded to the winner of the British Open and which already had his name engraved on it as he held it close on Sunday night.”
Sally Jenkins / Washington Post
“Sometimes the losers show you more truth than the winners in golf. Collin Morikawa played stunningly with that Newtonian swing of his, all energy conservation and released momentum, a marvel of straight-line rhythmic motion so simply he could practically just pull it back and let it go. But that wasn’t golf reality he lived out there in the abnormally still, blue-skied links of Royal St. George’s. Real life was back behind him, where the British Open runners-up were.
“Morikawa is in a temporary state that only the very young and very confident experience. Enjoy his flurry of greatness, two major championships by the age of 24 for this debutante with a sunburst of a grin, for the extraordinary piece of ephemera that it is. You wish he could hold on to this state of being forever. But there was Jordan Spieth, two strokes back, at just 27 and yet already with lines scored around his eyes, saying he was just happy to be finally ‘kind of getting over some scar tissue.’ The sweet swinging doesn’t last for long in this peculiarly accelerated golf era.
“Have you ever seen more young immortals in any game suffer more abrupt lessons in the nothing’s-promised-to-you category? Spieth was just 21 when he embarked on his tear of three major titles from 2015 to 2017. He won two of the first 10 majors he entered. And then it all stopped. He went 1,351 days without a victory of any kind. He described his final round of 66 on Sunday at Royal St. George’s as a matter of ‘fighting back.’ He is already in his comeback phase, and he is not even close to 30. His nearly four-year slump included a bone chip in his hand that affected everything from his grip to his setup. Had he not bogeyed his final two holes Saturday – which made him ‘look for something to break’ – he might have won this thing. ‘Hadn’t felt that way in a major in quite a while,’ he said.
“So many players in the British Open field have experienced magnificent flurries of young magic, only to find themselves searching again for that place Morikawa currently occupies, the swing-slot where body and temperament, mechanics and confidence are utterly synchronized. No one knew that state of being better than Rory McIlroy, winner of four majors by the age of 25 from 2011 to 2014, including two in the span of a month. This is the mystery and injustice of golf: It has been seven years since McIlroy has felt that, since he has hoisted any of the big four trophies. ‘It’s just the process of trying to work my way back to the sort of form and the sort of level that I know I can play at,’ McIlroy said after he tied for 46th place. You could hear the searching in his voice, the mystification over where all the fairy dust went from his swing.
“ ‘Obviously I haven’t played at that for…’ McIlroy broke off. ‘I’m the best – if you want someone to shoot even par for you for a week, I’m your man,’ he finished.
“Remember how impregnable Brooks Koepka seemed just a couple of years ago? He was 27 when he embarked on his magnificent run of four majors in less than three years, with U.S. Open and PGA Championship repeats between 2017 and 2019. Then he went winless for 18 months with hip and knee issues, a ‘humbling’ span so frustrating he snapped some of his irons in half. His closing-round 65 at Royal St. George’s to tie for sixth, though spirited, left him disgruntled and still struggling over ‘a little bit of alignment.’ It wasn’t anything close to what he’s accustomed to. ‘I mean, I wouldn’t say I competed,’ he said. …‘I didn’t have a chance to win. That’s disappointing.’….
“All of which is to say, Morikawa should drink deeply from the claret jug and savor every drop for as long as he can. ‘I’m going to tell myself probably tomorrow ‘Why can’t I keep doing that all the time,’’ he said.”
--Johnny Mac pointed out a rather remarkable tidbit (via the New York Post’s Mark Cannizzaro) concerning Koepka, who after Sunday’s final round, was 92-under par in majors since 2016, 65 shots better than any other player in that span!
--While The Open Championship was playing out, we had an alternate field PGA Tour event in Nicholasville, Kentucky, the Barbasol Championship, and Ireland’s Seamus Power claimed his first tour title in a playoff with JT Poston.
As has been the case on the tour recently, this was also no ordinary playoff, going six extra holes, the two parring the first five before Poston bogeyed the sixth one, while Power tapped in for par.
So the 34-year-old Power secures his PGA Tour card and entry into next year’s PGA Championship, The Players and the Tournament of Champions, but he does not earn a spot into The Masters, since the tournament coincided with The Open, where Masters rights were awarded.
--Well, I posted early Sunday evening and by Monday morning, we had our first positive Covid test on the U.S. women’s gymnastics team, though it was an alternate, one of four, to go along with the six athletes comprising the main team.
The gymnast, Kara Eaker, was moved to separate lodging, according to USA Gymnastics. The rest of the squad, as of this posting, is unimpacted. For now.
But there are scores of other positives already, sprinkled throughout the Olympic Village, and who the hell knows. Even Tokyo officials are admitting the Games could yet be canceled, and it doesn’t help when leading sponsor Toyota announced it wouldn’t air television commercials.
Do you really want your brand attached to this event?
Earlier, Coco Gauff was forced to withdraw after testing positive.
But Team USA Basketball is catching a big break as Zach LaVine, who was out due to Covid protocols, cleared them Tuesday night and will be joining the team in Tokyo, along with NBA Finals players Jrue Holiday, Khris Middleton and Devin Booker.
--Hours ago, the top-ranked U.S. women’s soccer team lost its opener to Sweden, 3-0, ending a 44-game unbeaten streak dating back to Jan. 2019. Sweden knocked the U.S. out of the 2016 Olympic tournament.
--The International Olympic Committee selected Brisbane, Australia, as host of the Summer Games in 2032. It’s Paris in 2024, and Los Angeles in 2028.
Brisbane is north up the east coast from Sydney.
--Also after I posted Sunday, Aric Almirola had a surprise win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in a rain-delayed NASCAR Cup Series race, ended early by darkness, Almirola securing his spot in the playoffs. It was only his third career victory in 374 races.
The win scrambled the playoff picture with just four races left, leaving drivers such as Austin Dillon and Tyler Reddick in need of a win of their own.
It was the first win of the year for Stewart-Haas Racing.
--SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said at 2021 SEC Media Days on Monday that six of the 14 football teams in the conference have reached the 80% Covid-19 vaccination threshold. He declined to specify which ones.
Right now, roster minimums to be able to play still exist similar to this past season, Sankey said. But unlike last year, Sankey has identified for consideration removing roster minimums.
“That means your team needs to be healthy to compete,” Sankey said. “If not, that game won’t be rescheduled. And thus, to dispose of the game, the forfeit word comes up at this point.”
Florida coach Dan Mullen declined to identify the percentage of vaccinated players on his roster. He said the Gators have a “pretty high number of vaccinated players.”
College football fans should be prepared for another very messy season with the Delta variant and a bunch of unvaccinated young people highly susceptible to it.
--Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of New York Jets assistant coach Greg Knapp, who is in critical condition following a bicycle accident in San Ramon, California.
Knapp, 58, collided with a single motorist on Saturday and sustained major injuries, according to police. The driver is cooperating with the investigation and authorities do not suspect drugs or alcohol to be a factor in the incident.
Knapp was hired to work with the Jets’ quarterbacks, most notably rookie Zach Wilson. This is a huge blow for the team, and Wilson; Knapp having coached the likes of Hall of Famers Peyton Manning and Steve Young.
Next Bar Chat, Sunday p.m.
[Posted 5:30 p.m. ET, Sunday]
I’ll have a little Add-On up top sometime Wed. a.m.
Olympic Swimming Quiz: 1) How many total gold medals does Michael Phelps have? 2) Name the only other three men with at least six (including relays). 3) Name the leading woman with eight golds. 4) Only two other women have six, one being American Amy Van Dyken. Who is the third, a German, who got all six in Seoul, 1988. Answers below.
The Open Championship
After being postponed last year by the pandemic, we had my second-favorite tournament of the year, next to The Masters….a tradition unlike any other…on CBS…
And that is a return to England/Scotland for The Open.
This year, southern England…Royal St. George’s GC, in the town of Sandwich, Kent County.
A big favorite coming in was Louis Oosthuizen, who was second in the last two majors…the PGA and U.S. Open…giving him six runner-up finishes for his career in majors, with his lone win at The Open in 2010 at St. Andrews.
Oosthuizen’s ‘Q-Rating’ has been rising with his stellar play and he’s just one of the easier guys to root for.
So all he did was go out and fire an opening 64 to take the first-round lead.
Jordan Spieth -5
Brian Harman -5
Stewart Cink and Webb Simpson among a group of five at -4.
Conditions were benign and promised to be for the weekend.
So Louis went out in Round 2 and added a 65, for a record-tying 36-hole total in a major of 129 (lowest in the history of The Open). It also marked the 15th straight major where Oosthuizen has made the cut, longer than anyone else these days.
But Spieth was right there, along with Collin Morikawa, for a powerhouse first three, and the world’s number one, DJ, right behind.
Dustin Johnson -7
Dylan Fritelli -7
Scottie Scheffler -7
Round 3 wasn’t exactly scintillating (links golf needs some weather), but the course was set up tougher and it was clearly getting firmer. Plus, the pressure was beginning to weigh on the leaders.
Oosthuizen got it to -13 with birdies on Nos. 7 and 9, but he bogeyed 11 and 13 to fall back to -11, his playing partner Morikawa birdieing 13, and we had the following….
Spieth -11…thru 14
Corey Conners -8…F …Conners with a 66 to put himself very much in the conversation.
Oosthuizen had a big birdie on No. 16, and then Spieth, inexplicably, had two awful bogeys on Nos. 17 and 18 that will have him tossing and turning all night.
And heading into the final round, Oosthuizen and Morikawa are once again the final pairing.
Jon Rahm among three at -7
Louis and Collin did little early while Brooks Koepka was moving into contention, -5 on his round.
Oosthuizen -11…thru 4
Spieth gave up another stroke, but then Jordan, Rahm and Conners all eagled the par-5 7th, setting up a terrific finish.
Then Oosthuizen, off No. 7 green in two in a bunker, blasts his third over the green and into the other bunker. Louis ends up with a bogey on the easiest hole on the course, while Morikawa birdies it with a brilliant third shot to within a foot.
Morikawa birdies 8, Spieth birdies 9, Fritelli birdies 10.
Morikawa birdies No. 9 for three in a row, Spieth birdies 10.
Morikawa with a super par on 10.
Oosthuizen hits pin on 253-yard, par-3 11th, a near ace. He birdies to go to -11. Morikawa pars it.
Spieth has a brilliant up-and-down on 12 to stay at -11.
Spieth birdies 13.
Oosthuizen bogeys 13. Morikawa pars it.
Spieth birdies the par-5 14th and is 6-under last eight holes.
Morikawa birdies 14.
Rahm -11…after birdies on 13-16.
Morikawa clutch up-and-down on 15 for par.
Morikawa and Spieth par 16 and 17, respectively. Spieth puts his drive on No. 18 into the deep rough, just barely, but manages par. Morikawa puts his drive on 18 into the fairway and the engraver went to work.
Mackenzie Hughes -8
Collin Morikawa not only now has two majors in just eight attempts, best of the modern era, but the 24-year-old has five wins already.
And, yes, Spieth after bemoaned his horrendous finish in the third round…otherwise he’s right there.
--Rory McIlroy had another lackluster performance, finishing even-par, T46. Rickie Fowler had a nice 65 in the final round, but he was just T53.
--Among those missing the cut were Tyrell Hatton, Patrick Cantlay, Patrick Reed, Jason Day, and Phil Mickelson, Lefty with an opening 80, ending up +12.
Will Zalatoris shot a 1-under 69 in the first round, but on the 15th hole he found the deep rough and he injured his back trying to hack out of the hay. Zalatoris said Friday that the shot sent a “tingling” down his leg and that he’d been advised to not risk further injury, so he WD’d.
--Bryson DeChambeau was forced to apologize multiple times for being a jerk, as he is prone to be. Thursday, he blamed his Cobra driver for his poor play in the first round, and Cobra was none too pleased as a sponsor.
After his opening 71, one-over, in which he hit just four of 14 fairways, Wonder Boy said his “driver sucks.”
“That’s what I said a couple of days ago; if I can hit it down the middle of the fairway, that’s great, but with the driver right now, the driver sucks,” he told reporters on Thursday. “It’s not a good face for me, and we’re still trying to figure out how to make it good on the mishits. I’m living on the razor’s edge, like I’ve told people for a long time.”
Ben Schomin, who caddied for Bison two weeks ago after his split with former caddie Tim Tucker and is Cobra’s tour operations manager, pushed back in an interview with Golfweek, saying the comments were “stupid” and expressing frustration at how hard the company works to appease the brat.
“It’s just really, really painful when he says something that stupid,” Schomin said. “He has never really been happy, ever. Like, it’s very rare when he’s happy.”
A few hours later, DeChambeau apologized on Instagram, saying in part: “The comment I made in my post round interview today was very unprofessional… I sucked today, not my equipment.”
Friday, DeChambeau, who made the cut right on the line, declined television and media requests but spoke to a small group of reporters.
“I made a mistake,” he said. “I think as time goes on, I’ll look at this as a growing moment for me personally, and hopefully I can make the right things going on from here on out. I was in a heated situation, and I feel really bad about it.”
Brooks Koepka, as you can imagine, took advantage of the situation to needle Bryson anew.
“I love my driver,” Koepka said in an interview with Golf Digest, and then tweeted a photo with a caption: “Driving into the weekend!”
Koepka beat DeChambeau, as you can see, Bryson ending up T33 with a final-round 65 of his own like Brooks.
Koepka now has 12 top tens in his last 16 majors.
--Lee Westwood failed to win a major in his 88th career start in one, a record of futility.
This has been a shocking Finals. After the Suns handily beat the Bucks in the first two games, it looked like a Phoenix sweep, or at worst they’d win in five.
But then the Bucks prevailed at home in Game 3, 120-100, and in a key Game 4, the Suns’ All-Star point guard Chris Paul showed his age (36) as he played poorly, just 10 points and five turnovers, while Giannis Antetokounmpo had 26 points and 14 rebounds, and a game-deciding “block for the ages” on Suns center Deandre Ayton, Milwaukee evening things up at 2-2 in winning it 109-103.
Khris Middleton had 40 points for the Bucks, while the Suns’ Devin Booker had 42.
But herein lied a problem…Booker. Phoenix seemed to be just standing around, waiting for him to shoot. That’s not their offense, as good as he can be.
And then we had the stunner, Game 5 back in Phoenix, Saturday night, as the Bucks held on, 123-119. Suddenly they, not the Suns, could be NBA champions.
Chris Paul played better, 21 points and 11 assists, and Booker got his 40, but the Bucks’ Big Three was too much for the Suns to handle…Giannis with 32 points, Middleton 29 and Jrue Holiday 27 points and 13 assists.
After the first two games, there was only one storyline…why would Giannis want to stay with this franchise? They’re never going to win a title unless he is surrounded by a better supporting cast.
Well here we are. Game 6 in Milwaukee, Tuesday. That place, and city, will be rockin’! I have a sudden hankerin’ for Usinger’s sausage, Milwaukee’s finest.
--The Wizards hired Denver Nuggets associate head coach Wes Unseld Jr. to become the franchise’s new head coach.
So this is a cool story. The son of the great Wes Sr., who led the organization, then called the Baltimore Bullets, to its lone championship in 1978, Wes Jr. returning to the city where he spent the first 14 years of his pro basketball career.
Junior worked for the franchise from 1997-2011, and is known to specialize in coaching defense, the side of the ball where the Wizards desperately need improvement.
His last six years, Unseld has been on Coach Michael Malone’s staff in Denver.
--The second half of the season got off to a bumpy start for the already struggling Yankees after their series opener against the Red Sox on Thursday was postponed due to a Covid outbreak on the team, including Aaron Judge and third baseman Gio Urshela, who were added to the Covid-19 injured list. Three pitchers and catcher Kyle Higashioka also tested positive and were on the list.
Judge, of course, was at the All-Star Game so there were additional questions.
The team said at least one of Judge, Urshela and Higashioka was not vaccinated, and some of the group of six are experiencing mild symptoms, but none is seriously ill.
With their Covid-reduced roster, the Yankees then lost to the Red Sox at the Stadium on Friday, 4-0, New York also without first baseman Luke Voit, who went on the injured list with a bone bruise in his left knee.
It was New York’s seventh straight loss to Boston.
But they rebounded Saturday and finally beat the BoSox, 3-1, in a rain-shortened six innings, as Gerrit Cole struck out 11 and improved to 10-4, 2.63, while the Yanks got solo homers in the bottom of the sixth from Gary Sanchez and the disappointing Gleyber Torres.
I have to add, however, that during Saturday’s game, a fan threw a baseball from the bleachers that hit Red Sox left fielder Alex Verdugo in the back. Per one account from Brendan Kuty, NJ.com, “Verdugo turned to confront the fans, who taunted him with curse words and middle fingers,” according to video circulating on social media.
“It’s awful, embarrassing, unacceptable,” said Yankees manager Aaron Boone.
Boone said he texted Boston manager Alex Cora during the game to apologize to Verdugo.
Boone added, “Hopefully, he’s in jail right now.”
Stadium security located the POS and ejected him. He should be sent directly to Hell, not passing GO and collecting $200 in the process.
New York fans, I’ve long written, can be amazing assholes.
--The Mets, who suffered a horrible loss last Sunday to the Pirates prior to the All-Star break, blowing a 5-0 lead and losing 6-5 at home, then started action in the second half also against the Buccos, in Pittsburgh, and not only suffered a 4-1 loss on Friday, but lost shortstop Francisco Lindor, the $341 million man with the fragile ego and, thus far, brittle bat, to an oblique injury, so he’s out up to two months, one guesses. Owner Steve Cohen has to be close to slashing some of his $mega-million pieces of art in response.
And the Mets learned Jacob deGrom is “day-to-day” with right forearm/elbow tightness. This is the fifth medical episode in about two months for the superstar, and yet we are told they are all unrelated.
The point is, deGrom supposedly bagged the All-Star Game because he wanted an extended break to finally heal and recharge the body for the second half, but clearly there was something wrong.
So then this afternoon, deGrom was put on the 10-day IL, retroactive to July 15.
“I’m frustrated,” Jake said. “I don’t know what else to say.”
The Mets are in Cincinnati to start a series Monday and are unable to announce starters for both Monday and Tuesday.
Well, at least on Friday the Metropolitans got third baseman J.D. Davis back, and on Saturday he was inserted into the cleanup spot and proceeded to hit two, 2-run homers, propelling the Metsies to a 6-0 lead after seven innings on Saturday night.
Repeat, 6-0 after seven.
The Mets then sent out their second-best reliever, Seth Lugo, and he gave up five runs. 6-5.
But the Mets’ Brandon Nimmo got the needed insurance run with a solo homer in the top of the ninth, now 7-5.
So then the Mets sent out closer Edwin Diaz for the bottom of the ninth, Diaz 19 of 21 in save opportunities. And he proceeds to load the bases and yield a walk-off grand slam to catcher Jacob Stallings! It was the first home run given up by Diaz in 48 1/3 innings, going back to last year, the longest such streak in baseball.
The Mets have lost 4 of 6 to the Pirates (36-56), two of them in beyond devastating fashion.
I’m expecting Johnny Mac, per my request, to have used the sword last night, after which wife Ellen was to properly sanitize it and send it up to me for use on Monday or Tuesday. So this is the last Bar Chat.
Actually, Johnny and I decided we both needed to see how Jets QB Zach Wilson does…so hari-kari has been postponed yet again.
And then, out of nowhere, the Mets turned the tables on the Pirates this afternoon. New York and starter Taijuan Walker yielded six runs in the bottom of the first, Walker knocked out after getting just one out, three scoring on an absurd play, Walker at fault, manager Luis Rojas furious, ejected.
So it was 6-0 after one. A familiar score.
Only this time, the Mets’ bullpen threw 8 2/3 of scoreless ball, the Mets chipped away, and in the top of the ninth, the much-maligned (rightfully so) Michael Conforto blasted a two-run homer, the Mets taking a 7-6 lead that designated closer Trevor May held.
A massive win, potentially. We’ll see what the series in Cincinnati brings.
--Nothing like taking your kids to a ballgame in Washington on a Saturday night, right? Good family entertainment. Or you go with your spouse. Maybe you have a date. Or just a bunch of guys and girls hanging out, having a few beers…when SHOTS RING OUT! Several loud bangs were heard outside the third base gate around 9:30 p.m., just as the players were leaving the field in the middle of the sixth inning.
The Nationals didn’t say anything for minutes. The fans could hear sirens blaring outside the stadium, there was panic, and the Nats’ game with the Padres was suspended.
Police said a shootout between people in two cars at around 9:30 p.m. had left three injured, including a female bystander who was attending the game and was hit while standing outside the ballpark.
The other two victims were in one of the cars and later walked into a local hospital with gunshot wounds, cops said.
There was “no ongoing threat,” police wrote in a tweet around 10 p.m.
Fans were seen streaming onto the field or into the dugouts in fear and confusion. Some players went into the stands to get their loved ones. Helicopters were circling the ballpark. A great time was had by all.
The Padres won the completion of the suspended game 10-4 this afternoon, before playing another contest with the Nats.
--The Angels’ David Fletcher extended his hitting streak Saturday night to 26 games, with another three hits (three doubles) and five RBIs in L.A.’s 9-4 win over the Mariners. Over this stretch he is 49-for-108 (.454), striking out only 8 times. Fletcher is just two shy of the franchise record 28 games by Garrett Anderson in 1998.
Teammate Shohei Ohtani was 0-for-5 Saturday, striking out four times.
But Ohtani enters the December file for year-end consideration as it emerged he donated his winnings from this week’s Home Run Derby to members of the Angels’ support staff.
Heck, that was $150,000, which he gave to a couple dozen people, including clubhouse staff, trainers and members of the media relations department. Ohtani handed out the checks before Friday night’s game, according to various sources, but he has not himself commented on it.
--In defeating the Rockies 9-2 on Saturday in Colorado, the Dodgers’ Walker Buehler ran his record to a rather gaudy 10-1, 2.37 ERA, with seven strong innings. The dude is now 34-10 lifetime. As Ronald Reagan would have told Nancy while reading the Sunday sports pages, Nancy making him scrambled eggs and toast, ‘Not bad, not bad at all.’
--The White Sox and 34-year-old starter Lance Lynn reached agreement on a 2-year, $38 million extension after the free-agent-to-be got off to a 9-3 start with an A.L.-best 1.99 ERA.
“They’ve put together a winner here,” Lynn said. “That’s what I want to be a part of and help to kind of push it over the top to get a championship.”
The guy has had a solid career, now 113-74, 3.48 ERA. Actually, an excellent career by today’s standards, where you’re basically happy with six innings, 3 runs, from your starter every time out. And he does better than that.
--Friday, the Padres set a franchise record for runs in a 24-8 blowout of the Nationals in Washington, as Jake Cronenworth hit for the cycle, and Will Myers had two homers and seven RBIs.
Kind of shockingly, only one other player has hit for the cycle against the Nats in their history (2005-present), Charlie Blackmon of the Rockies.
--The Toronto Blue Jays, who last played at home in the Rogers Centre on Sept. 29, 2019, due to the coronavirus and Canadian border restrictions, are finally being allowed to go home starting July 30.
The Blue Jays played the shortened 2020 season in Buffalo, New York, and started this season in Dunedin, Florida, before moving back to Buffalo. The Canadian government didn’t allow the team to play in Toronto because of the risk of spreading Covid-19, due to the team’s frequent travel required in the U.S. during the season.
Visiting teams will need to follow some protocols. Beginning with pre- and post-arrival testing of all players and team personnel, unvaccinated players and team personnel will receive an additional four tests each week.
There will be strict rules in place for unvaccinated individuals, who will undergo a “modified quarantine,” as in they will not be allowed to leave Rogers Centre or the attached hotel.
--Trevor Bauer’s administrative leave was extended by nearly two weeks through July 27 by Major League Baseball and the players’ association while the sport’s investigators check into allegations of sexual misconduct against the Dodgers pitcher.
Bauer was first placed on seven days’ paid leave on July 2 under the joint domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse policy adopted by MLB and the players’ union in 2015. The first extension had been through July 15.
Police in Pasadena, California, continue with their investigation of the allegations made against Bauer by an area woman who says the pitcher choked her to the point where she lost consciousness and punched her during two sexual encounters earlier this year.
A hearing is scheduled for July 23, at which time a judge will consider whether to keep the restraining order the accuser obtained in force against Bauer.
--We note the passing of former pitcher Dick Tidrow, who died unexpectedly in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, at the age of 74 last Wednesday.
Tidrow pitched parts of 13 major league seasons for the Indians, Yankees, Cubs, White Sox and Mets. He was both an effective starter and reliever, ending up 100-94, 3.68, for his career with 55 saves. Tidrow was an integral part of the 1977-78 World Champion Yankees teams.
After retiring, he spent 28 seasons in the Giants’ organization, where he was instrumental in the construction of the franchise’s 2010, ’12 and ’14 World Series-winning teams.
--What a stretch for the 400 meters hurdles mark.
First, New Jersey’s Sydney McLaughlin established a new women’s world mark of 51.90 at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in Eugene, while American Rai Benjamin was running a 46.83, just 0.05 from Kevin Young’s 1992 world record of 46.78.
But days later, Norway’s Karsten Warholm took down the oldest men’s track standard on the books by running a 46.70 at Oslo’s Bislett Games.
So Warholm vs. Benjamin will be a super-exciting race in Tokyo, while McLaughlin goes for gold against her U.S. rival, Dalilah Muhammad.
--But, otherwise, what are the Olympics really going to be? Athletes in the Olympic Village are beginning to test positive for Covid, and at the same time they are upset with the severe restrictions being placed on their movements.
USA Basketball suffered a loss when guard Bradley Beal was placed in health and safety protocols after apparently testing positive, so he’ll have to miss the Games.
What is readily apparent is that the next few weeks will be defined by a single word… “fluid.” You’ll likely hear that a ton of times from organizers and officials responsible for each venue and event.
I mean can you imagine if one of the stars, such as gymnast Simone Biles, was swept up in the protocols and suddenly couldn’t compete? It would be a s---show, let alone a killer for NBC.
--It looked as though cornerback Richard Sherman, whether he played or not again in the NFL, was headed for the NFL Hall of Fame after a 10-year career in Seattle and San Francisco that saw him become a 3X All-Pro and star of the Seahawks’ 2014 Super Bowl victory with a game-saving play to deflect a pass in the NFC Championship Game against the 49ers.
But now the current free agent is in serious legal trouble following a disturbing arrest in Seattle on Wednesday, accused of “burglary domestic violence.”
--Former Seton Hall basketball star, Myles Powell, inexplicably is suing the university claiming the coach, Kevin Willard, and the team’s Director of Sports Medicine, Tony Testa, acted negligently by allowing him to play on a torn meniscus in his right knee, which he was told was a minor injury that would not be aggravated if he continued to play during the 2019-20 season.
Powell was a huge fan favorite, and a fave of yours truly, a terrific “college” player, in the purest sense…as in he wasn’t a future NBA star as Powell saw, and sees himself today.
At the conclusion of a solid junior year, Powell entertained thoughts of leaving school to enter the NBA draft, but, he claims in the suit, the team’s coaches and Powell’s father convinced him to continue until he graduated.
As an incentive, the school offered to take out an insurance policy on Powell in the event of injuries incurred through his final year with the school.
So during the second game of the 2019-20 NCAA season, Powell suffered an injury against Stony Brook, which we were told was a severe ankle sprain. I distinctly remember this.
Powell claims in the lawsuit that both coaches and the team doctor advised him the damage was confined to the ankle and that “continued play would not exacerbate the injury,” a report from Courthouse News says.
In the stunning lawsuit, Powell claims he continued to feel pain in his right knee throughout the season despite the diagnosis, and that the school didn’t tell him he had a meniscus tear in his knee. By continuing to play, the suit says Powell aggravated the injury and damaged his pro prospects.
After the 2019-20 pandemic season was cut short, Powell allegedly discovered that coaches and team doctors knew he had suffered not just an ankle injury but the tear to his right knee that should have necessitated him sitting out the rest of the season, Courthouse News reported.
So Powell suffered the injury on Nov. 9, 2019, and instead of being out for a lengthy spell, as Coach Willard told everyone, Powell made a surprise return to the lineup five days later for the Pirates’ marquee matchup with Michigan State, scoring 37 points in a close loss.
[All chronicled in my 11/11/19 and 11/18/19 Bar Chats, by the way. Speaking of which, I just have to brag. The Bar Chat archives, like with those of that other column I do, are spectacular. In reviewing all the stuff I wrote about Powell, I came across the 3/16/20 column where I talk about sports shutting down, and it’s just great history.]
Powell finished the season, as it was, ending his career with over 2,000 points.
But he went undrafted, which was hardly a surprise. I figured the guy could possibly make an NBA roster and, over time, maybe become an effective rotation piece in the right setting. Or he could carve out a lucrative career overseas.
Powell ended up with the Knicks G-League team, averaging 17.8 points per game, and he is currently a free agent.
Here’s the thing. As former Seton Hall stars like Terry Dehere and Jerry Walker are now saying, why would Powell do this?
Walker told the Star-Ledger: “I’m blown away by it, to be honest. There’s definitely somebody advising him to do this because I know Myles loves Seton Hall, and we love him, so I just want people to understand that.
“But I would love to talk to him.”
Why would Powell jeopardize lifetime status as a Seton Hall legend for this lawsuit?
The suit ridiculously claims that “such a standout career capped by such a successful senior year should have guaranteed Powell to be selected as a lottery pick in the NBA Draft.”
--After the golf coverage yesterday, there was little on before the evening’s ballgames and I stumbled on horse racing…opening weekend from Saratoga, the crowds back in force.
I love Saratoga. My parents used to take me up there in the summer, but we wouldn’t be there during the formal ‘season,’ the crowds being too huge, and the expense too high, so we’d go and check out the trotters. [Mom was a railbird.]
I then went about 15 years ago, out of season, to go to the Horse Racing Museum, which is outstanding, and just to walk around the beautiful town.
Anyway, one of the feature races yesterday was for 2-year-olds, budding Kentucky Derby contenders, potentially, next spring, and I’m tellin’ ya, your 2022 Derby favorite, and winner, will be “Wit,” ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., and a Todd Pletcher horse. You heard it here first.
Meanwhile at the $1 million TVG.com Haskell Stakes at Monmouth Park, Mandaloun was declared the winner of this key race after Hot Rod Charlie, the Belmont Stakes runner-up, crossed the wire a nose in front, only to be disqualified for interfering with Midnight Bourbon just past the eighth-pole of the 1 1/8-mile race.
The stewards, after an inquiry, ruled that Hot Rod Charlie’s move resulted in Midnight Bourbon throwing jockey Paco Lopez to the ground and then running off before the outriders caught him on the clubhouse turn.
So I mention this because this is the same Mandaloun who, eventually, could be declared Kentucky Derby champion, depending on the disposition of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission’s inquiry into the Bob Baffert-trained winner, Medina Spirit, in the aftermath of failing a post-race drug test. The Brad Cox-trained Mandaloun finished in second, but could be placed first.
Mandaloun, by winning the Haskell, however, automatically qualifies for the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Top 3 songs for the week of 7/17/71: #1 “It’s Too Late” (Carole King) #2 “Indian Reservation” (Raiders) #3 “You’ve Got A Friend” (James Taylor)…and…#4 “Don’t Pull Your Love” (Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds) #5 “Treat Her Like A Lady” (Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose) #6 “Mr. Big Stuff” (Jean Knight) #7 “Rainy Days And Mondays” (Carpenters) #8 “Draggin’ The Line” (Tommy James) #9 “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart” (The Bee Gees…the ‘better’ Bee Gees than the latter ones…) #10 “That’s The Way I’ve Always Heard It Should Be” (Carly Simon…A- week…)
Olympic Swimming Quiz Answers: 1) Phelps has 23 golds, 13 of them individual (no other male has more than four individual). 2) The other three men with at least six golds are Mark Spitz, 9; Matt Biondi, 8; and Ryan Lochte, 6. The great Johnny Weismuller had 5, by the way. 3) American Jenny Thompson holds the record with 8 golds. 4) Aside from Amy Van Dyken, the only other woman with 6 is Germany’s Kristin Otto, who picked up all of them at Seoul in 1988. Katie Ledecky is chasing them all as she heads to Tokyo with 5.
I will have an Add-on up top sometime Wed. a.m.