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Scottie Scheffler....Masters Champion...
Add-On posted early Wed. a. m.
Final Words on Augusta
--Scottie Scheffler said in his post-round comments Sunday evening that he woke up that morning crying like a baby, which shocked a lot of folks who know the guy for his even-keeled demeanor. “I was so stressed out. I didn’t know what to do.” So if you were wondering why he didn’t cry after holing his final putt, the answer is he had already done so.
But with four wins in two months, six events, over $10 million in earnings this 2021-22 season, he’s only the second player ever to have four wins – including a major and a World Golf Championship – in a single season. The other being Tiger.
Not bad for a kid born in New Jersey, who at age 4 was pounding balls at an old driving range.
--Rory McIlroy said after his sterling 64 on Sunday, “I don’t think I’ve ever walked away from this tournament as happy as I am today. I’ve played a really good round of golf, and it’s my best ever finish at Augusta. It’s not quite enough, but I’ll certainly look back on this day with very fond memories. And as I said at the start, it gives me confidence going forward not only into the next Masters next year but to the rest of the season as well.”
As for his epic birdie hole-out from a greenside bunker on the 18th hole, CBS’ Nick Faldo got all kinds of grief on social media for telegraphing the shot before the coverage picked it up, all but giving it away, saying something like “something crazy has just happened” at the 18th. He then said, “I have goose bumps,” at which point they switched to the shot.
But I can’t blame Faldo on this. It was still an electric moment to see it.
--Rory earned $1.62 million for finishing solo second, while Cam Smith, who seemed to have second, or better, locked up, then dumped his tee shot into the water on 12, ended up with triple bogey, and wound up T3, earning $870,000 – a $750,000 difference.
--The new Official World Golf Ranking
1. Scheffler 10.06 points
2. Collin Morikawa 7.98
3. Jon Rahm 7.84
4. Viktor Hovland 7.47
5. Cam Smith 7.39
6. Patrick Cantlay 6.92
7. McIlroy 6.46
8. Justin Thomas 5.73
9. Dustin Johnson 5.48
10. Sam Burns 5.10
11. Xander Schauffele 5.06
12. Hideki Matsuyama 5.04
13 Billy Horschel 4.39
--As for Tiger, this Masters will forever be known not just for Scheffler, but also Tiger’s truly heroic, gutty performance. We all saw the obvious pain he was in on Saturday and Sunday, as he carded career worst rounds of 6-over 78.
Tiger said after: “I don’t think words can really describe that given where I was a little over a year ago and what my prospects were at that time to end up here and be able to play in all four rounds, even a month ago I didn’t know if I could pull this off.”
According to SkySports, Woods said he’ll definitely tee it up at St. Andrews in July, where he has won twice, 2000 and 2005. It’s a far easier walk. He’s unsure about the PGA Championship at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on May 19-22, where he also won in 2007.
--Aaron Judge, in this year under the microscope, was 4-for-16 in the Yankees first four games; 0-for-3 in a 3-0 loss to Toronto at the Stadium on Monday, but when he whiffed with one on and one down in the eighth, there was some booing.
After the game, whereas in the past Judge would have pooh-poohed it, saying something like, ‘It’s part of playing in New York,’ Judge was a jerk, making it seem as if Yankees fans have been on him more often than not, which is hardly the case.
“I’ve been hearing it since ’16,” the guy who turned down a 7-year, $30 million+ deal said. “You know, it’s nothing new, nothing new.”
Well, as many a scribe noted, and as I noted last time, this will be the norm this season, and how Judge handles it will be fascinating and rather important in terms of the Yankees’ success, or failure.
He placed a big bet on himself by turning down the monster contract, and now the pressure is on to get the job done.
Tuesday, Judge was 1-for-4, no home runs or RBIs now in 20 at-bats, but the Yankees beat the Blue Jays 4-0.
--The Mets had one of those terrible losses Monday night in Philadelphia, blowing a 4-0 8th-inning lead and falling 5-4. It was one of those losses that sometimes defines a season, but the Metsies rebounded to take the Phillies 2-0 last night to improve to 4-2, Tylor Megill with his second outstanding start of the year; Megill the fill-in for the injured Jacob deGrom.
--The biggest story the first few days of the season is Cleveland rookie Steven Kwan, who has reached base 18 times in the first five games of his career, a new record. Kwan is 10-for-15, seven walks and a hit by pitch. His on-base percentage is a cool .750, with a 1.683 OPS.
--Real estate magnate Ted Lerner purchased the Washington Nationals from Major League Baseball 16 years ago for $450 million, moved the club from Montreal, and oversaw a rebuilding process that resulted in a World Series championship, but now the family has begun the process of exploring potential changes in the ownership structure, with Lerner, now 96, having transferred day-to-day control of the team to son Mark Lerner in 2018. Mark told the Washington Post the family hired New York investment bank Allen & Company to research potential investors, and possibly buyers, for the team.
The announcement puts the team’s direction in question – particularly as it pertains to star outfielder Juan Soto, and negotiations for a long-term extension. He’s not a free agent until 2025, but it had been thought the Nationals would be giving him the biggest contract ever to keep him in a Nats uniform. The team also is involved in a long dispute over revenue from Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, which broadcasts both Nationals and Orioles games, and is controlled by Baltimore.
Forbes values the Nats at $2 billion, the 12th-most valuable of the 30 MLB franchises.
--In College Baseball, the top ten in the Coaches Poll after Sunday’s play….
3. Oregon State
4. Texas Tech
5. Oklahoma State
10. Notre Dame
Baseball America’s top ten…and Wake Forest is at No. 23! Go Deacs.
3. Oklahoma State
4. Texas Tech
5. Oregon State
10. Notre Dame
--Tuesday night, Brooklyn took on Cleveland in their 7-8 play-in game, the winner locking up the 7-seed in the playoffs. The loser takes on the winner of the 9-10 game, Hornet-Hawks, Wednesday, the winner of that one getting the 8-seed.
And Brooklyn prevailed, 115-108, as Kyrie Irving hit his first 12 shots from the field, on his way to a 34-point night, 12 assists, while Kevin Durant had 25 points and 11 assists of his own.
So it’s on to Boston for Game One on Sunday. The Nets are optimistic that Ben Simmons will be available at some point in the first round.
Cleveland hosts the winner of tonight’s Atlanta-Charlotte contest on Friday for the 8-seed.
--In another play-in last night, Minnesota rallied to beat the Clippers, 109-104, sending the Wolves to the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference and a first-round matchup with Memphis.
The Clippers now have a home game on Friday for the No. 8 seed against either New Orleans or San Antonio.
--Philadelphia is facing off against Toronto in the first round, and guard Matisse Thybulle is ineligible to play in Games 3 and 4 in Toronto because he is not fully vaccinated; Thybulle being a key cog, a terrific perimeter defender.
He said he received one dose of the vaccine, telling reporters, “I was raised in a holistic household where anti-vax was not a term that was used…we grew up with Chinese medicine and naturopathic doctors and with that upbringing, coming into this situation, I felt like I had a solid foundation of medical resources that could serve me beyond what this vaccine could do for me.”
Well the guy went on and on and on….
His mother, Elizabeth, received her doctorate in naturopathic medicine, and then died of leukemia in 2015.
--The Lakers fired coach Frank Vogel after a disastrous 33-49 season, not even making the play-in round. Vogel took over the team ahead of the 2019-20 season, and subsequently won the NBA championship, which took place in the bubble at Disney due to Covid-19.
But the second season ended with a first-round playoff exit to the Suns and then we had this season, with LeBron and Anthony Davis playing just 56 and 40 games apiece, respectively.
--The Knicks wrapped up their own miserable season, 37-45, though they won 7 of their last 10, playing Obi Toppin and Immanuel Quickley much more in the final weeks, Toppin responding with career highs of 35 and 42 points his last two games, Quickley, the dynamic point guard, with two triple-doubles in his last four.
So it’s going to be an interesting offseason. The fans want to see these two as the feature players, along with RJ Barrett, not Julius Randle. With the Knicks trade Randle? I hope so.
--Mark Maske and Nicki Jhabvala / Washington Post
“The Washington Commanders and owner Daniel Snyder ‘may have engaged in a troubling, long-running, and potentially unlawful pattern of financial conduct’ that allegedly involved withholding as much as $5 million in refundable deposits from season ticket holders and also hiding money that was supposed to be shared among NFL owners, according to a letter sent from the House Committee on Oversight and Reform to the Federal Trade Commission on Tuesday.
“The 20-page letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post, freshly details allegations made by Jason Friedman, a former vice president of sales and customer service who worked for the franchise for 24 years. The letter says Friedman told committee members the team maintained ‘two sets of books,’ including one set of financial records used to underreport certain ticket revenue to the NFL. The letter cites documentation that the team’s financial improprieties may have extended to tickets registered in Commissioner Roger Goodell’s name. It references evidence that it says indicates the revenue gained by the team through these practices was known internally as ‘juice,’ and it details allegations that the Commanders improperly attributed such revenue to being derived through a Navy-Notre Dame college football game at FedEx Field or a Kenny Chesney concert, so that it wouldn’t be part of the NFL’s revenue-sharing pool.”
The team denies such allegations. Eight days ago, the Commanders said in a statement there “has been absolutely no withholding of ticket revenue at any time by the Commanders,” adding that any person “who offered testimony suggesting a withholding of revenue has committed perjury, plain and simple.”
Friedman “provided the Committee with information and documents indicating that the Commanders routinely withheld security deposits that should have been returned to customers who had purchased multiyear season tickets for specific seats, referred to as seat leases,” according to the letter. Friedman told the committee that “team executives directed employees to establish roadblocks to prevent customers form obtaining the security deposits they were due – effectively allowing the team to retain that money,” the letter says.
The House committee’s letter says that as of July 2016, based on Friedman’s interview and documents he provided to the committee, “the team had unreturned security deposits for ‘around 2,000 accounts’ belonging to customers and fans totaling ‘approximately $5 million.’”
--Chelsea, the defending champions, lost their Champions League quarterfinal matchup with Real Madrid, 5-4 on aggregate, despite winning the second leg 3-2 last night.
--A few of you have probably heard of Oz Pearlman, known by his stage name, Oz the Mentalist. Once a year CNBC has him on Squawk Box and his act is truly amazing. For various reasons I was curious how much it cost to book him and let’s just say, he’s popular, like up to $50,000 per.
Pearlman, 39, lives in Brooklyn and until a piece in the New York Times by Hilary Swift, I didn’t know that Pearlman is a marathoner, a good one, once having run a 2:23 in the Philadelphia Marathon in 2014.
But he just made history of a sort when last Friday, he ran 19 loops of Central Park, a little over 6 miles per loop, or 116 miles in total, breaking the record of 98 miles, 16 loops, held by Robbie Balenger. Pearlman’s fastest mile was his 91st, 6:43.
Oz ran the race in the national colors of Ukraine and raised over $100,000 to help Ukrainian children displaced by Russia’s invasion of the country.
So I love this part of Oz’s story, via Ms. Swift:
“After college (Univ. of Michigan), he was an entry level analyst for Merrill Lynch and moonlighted as a magician.
“He worked restaurants on the Upper East Side, did bar mitzvahs and wowed colleagues at happy hour. His worlds collided during his investment banking career when he was hired to work an event in honor of a Merrill executive. When Pearlman turned a $1 bill into several Benjamins with a snap of his fingers, the boss was impressed, until he found out Pearlman worked for him.
“ ‘He said, ‘What the hell are you doing working here?’ And I thought, ‘What am I doing working here?’’ Pearlman put in his notice a few weeks later, not long after running his first marathon.
“He gradually shifted from standard magic to mentalism. ‘It’s a bit more cerebral,’ he said. ‘It’s about trying to decipher and reverse engineer the way people think. Essentially, I’m trying to plant an idea in your head or get an impossible thought out of your head.’
“He asked me to think of the name of my first crush, who happened to be someone I haven’t seen, heard from or even thought about in decades. He nailed it. While he was running. At Mile 80.”
--Larry David announced he’s coming back for another season of “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” No dates set as yet.
--And we note the passing of comedian Gilbert Gottfried, who died Tuesday at the age of 67.
The man with the iconic voice. Somehow, Jason Alexander tweeted his remorse nearly 15 minutes before Gottfried’s family made their announcement.
“Gilbert Gottfried made me laugh at times when laughter did not come easily. What a gift,” the ‘Seinfeld’ star tweeted. “I did not know him well, but I loved what he shared with me. My best wishes and sympathy to his family.”
Next Bar Chat, Sunday p.m.
[Posted right after The Masters…a tradition unlike any other…]
Add-On posted up top by noon, Wed.
Baseball Quiz: 1) Who was the last player to score 150 runs in a season in the NL? 2) Who was the last with 150 runs in the AL? 3) Who holds the single-season record, post-1900? Answers below.
After round one….
Sungjae Im -5
Cameron Smith -4
Danny Willett -3
Joaquin Niemann -3
Scottie Scheffler -3
Dustin Johnson -3
Tiger Woods -1
After round two….
Charl Schwartzel -3
Shane Lowry -3
Hideki Matsuyama -3
Harold Varner III -2
Kevin Na -2
Scheffler’s 5-shot, 36-hole lead was tied for biggest ever at this event.
He entered the week not only No. 1 in the world, but hot as hell, three wins in six weeks, the first three of his career. No way he blows this.
But then he wobbled a bit down the stretch Saturday and after three….
Tiger +7, after a miserable 78, the cold, blustery weather doing a number on his leg (and not helping his back). His putting was atrocious. “I just could not get a feel for getting comfortable with the ball… I just couldn’t find it.” It was the first time in his professional career that he had more than four three-putts or worse in a round, four-putting the fifth hole. The 78 was also his worst score in 93 rounds at Augusta National.
The shot of the day, Saturday, was Schwartzel’s eagle on No. 10 to go to -6. But the conditions were brutal a second straight day.
So on Sunday, it only seemed right that the two best players of calendar 2022 with five wins between them (Smith having won the Tournament of Champions and The Players) were paired up. It promised to be delicious.
But at the start, Scheffler was hitting his tee shots left, though went par, par, while Smith went birdie, birdie and the lead was suddenly one!
Then, on the short par-4 3rd, both hit dreadful tee shots left and then flubbed their seconds, leaving both below the green with very tough up-and-downs for par.
Only Scheffler hit one of the greatest shots of all time in a major (assuming he goes on to win it), holing the chip shot for birdie, Smith bogeying it and the lead is back to three.
Scheffler then hit another superb chip on 4 for par, Smith bogeys again (a birdie, birdie…bogey, bogey start for him) and the lead is 4.
They both par the 5th. Both par the par-3 6th after impressive lag putts from great distance. And then Scheffler and Smith birdie No. 7.
On to the par-5 8th…both get their pars. And ditto on No. 9…Scheffler with a 34 front nine, Smith 35 to open.
And Rory McIlroy at -6 through 14…7-under for the round thus far.
Both Scheffler and Smith then bogey No. 10, Smith missing a very short par putt.
Rory, out of nowhere, is tied for second.
Rory -6…thru 14
Smith birdies the tough 11, Scheffler pars….
Rory -6…after parring 16
And then Smith dumps it in the water on 12, it gets worse, and triples it!
McIlroy -6…thru 17
Rory then birdies 18 out of the bunker in spectacular fashion…Morikawa follows with his own birdie out of the bunker….an amazing sequence.
Scheffler -11 thru 14
Lowry -4 thru 15
Wow….Rory with a sterling 64. It obviously does wonders for his confidence the rest of the year. Love the guy. Who doesn’t?
But Scheffler remains in total control.
And he gets to -12 with a birdie on 15. Five up.
In the end, Scheffler, despite an almost comical mess on the green at 18, wins it by three.
That’s four wins in two months. Think about that, given today’s game.
I love superstars…he is rapidly becoming one.
Scheffler won a record $2.7 million, part of a $15 million purse, up from $11.5 million in 2021. Second and third place were $1.62 million and $1.02 million, respectively.
What a great sport.
Of course, tonight, he and wife Meredith will be socially distanced due to Covid protocols.
More in my next Add-On….including Tiger's amazing week.
--Among those missing the cut….
Jorden Spieth, Brooks Koepka, Xander Schauffele, Abraham Ancer, Sam Burns, Justin Rose, Cameron Young, and Matthew Wolff (81-78).
At least they all still picked up $10,000.
--Speaking to the media in his annual press conference, Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley said that Phil Mickelson’s absence came from Mickelson and Mickelson alone.
“We did not disinvite Phil,” Ridley said. “He is a three-time Masters champion…Phil reached out to me, I think in late February, early March and let me know he did not intend to play. That was by way of text. I thanked him for his courtesy of letting me know.” Mickelson did not attend the Champions Dinner Tuesday.
Speaking of which, you know that menu of Hideki Matsuyama’s that I wrote of in my Add-On?
Virtually all asked after said it was the best ever.
--Scheffler and Cam Smith were 18-1 favorites heading into Thursday, with Jon Rahm (10-1) and Thomas (12-1) the favorites at most sportsbooks.
--Mets fans were very happy with their first two games, Thursday and Friday, under new manager Buck Showalter…5-1 and 7-3 in Washington, Max Scherzer with six strong for the win in the second one against his old teammates. Tylor Megill with five shutout innings in the opener. And lots of clutch hitting.
Last season was a mess on so many fronts, but Showalter is an old vet and the comments from the players thus far are all positive.
The Mets also got hit by pitches four times in the first two games, and on Friday, after Francisco Lindor was beaned (the night before Pete Alonso was beaned as well), Showalter led the team out of the dugout to go after Washington hurler Steve Cishek. Lindor was very pleased at how his teammates had his back…an important gesture for a guy with a fragile ego that was on full display last season, his first in New York.
The Mets then moved to 3-0 last night as Chris Bassitt threw six shutout innings, 8 strikeouts, in his New York debut, the Metropolitans winning 5-0. Bassitt was everything Mets fans hoped he would be, especially with Jacob deGrom on the shelf for at least the first two months of the season. This guy is tough, and New York ready.
Alas, they lost today, 4-2, despite another fine starting performance, this one from Carlos Carasco, 5 2/3, one run. So just 4 earned runs from the starters out of the first 22 2/3 innings. Encouraging.
So now the Metsies go to Philly (off to a 2-1 start) and, believe it or not, this is an important 3-game series. Mets fans remember how a good start was spoiled here (think Roger McDowell).
--Across town, however, I would say the Yankees have major issues, already. While they beat the Red Sox Friday, 6-5, their $324 million (over nine years) supposed superstar, Gerrit Cole, not only gave up 3 earned in four innings, but was also visibly disturbed that the game started at 1:12 p.m., rather than 1:08 as scheduled.
You’re reading that right. The Opening Day festivities, with Billy Crystal throwing out the ceremonial first pitch, and taking way too long for Cole, presented “an unforeseen challenge. The festivities got a little away from the schedule,” Cole said after. He went on to explain that it was like “you expect something and you don’t get it.”
Including the two innings he lasted in last fall’s Wild Card game loss to the rival Red Sox, Cole has allowed 15 earned runs over 24 innings against them for an abysmal 5.63 ERA.
The Yankees signed the jerk (oh yeah, he’s now in the December file) in the 2020 offseason and he was fine, 7-3, 2.84, in the Covid-shortened campaign, and then went 16-8, 3.23, 243 strikeouts in 181 1/3 last year, second on the Cy Young vote.
But after MLB decided to enforce their own rules more stringently on using illegal sticky stuff on balls, Cole was just so-so, and over his last four starts of the regular season, heading into the Wild Card, he had an ERA of 6.35.
Yankee fans don’t know what to expect from the man management invested ginormous sums on. Start No. 1 in 2022, and his reaction to it, is not a good sign.
Nor is the status of outfielder Aaron Judge, who failed to reach agreement with the team on an extension and he could opt for free agency next winter.
But a reminder…Judge turns 30 on April 26. He was Rookie of the Year and second in the AL MVP vote in 2017 with a monster season…52 home runs, 114 RBIs, 128 runs scored and a 1.049 OPS.
However, he only played 112 and 102 games in 2018-19 due to various injuries and while on the field was just a basic slugger.
2020 you can throw away for most everyone.
And then last season, just the second where he played a full year, he was very good…fourth in the MVP vote, 39 homers, 98 RBIs, .916 OPS.
But you can’t call the guy a superstar when he’s played two full seasons out of four (discounting 2020). Judge has made it well known, though, that he wants to retire a Yankee.
And Friday, prior to the opener, the Yanks made him an offer he opted to refuse…seven years, $213.5 million, as in, $30 million per. It would have made him the second-highest paid outfielder on an annual average salary.
After the game, Judge said of his turning it down, “I’m not afraid of searching for a job. I know no matter what, I’m playing here with the Yankees for this whole year.
“At the end of this year, I’ll talk to 30 teams. The Yankees will be one of those teams.”
I’m sorry, he’s an idiot. By all accounts, a real good guy, but an idiot.
Judge thinks he’s as good as Mike Trout, who received a 10-year, $360 million extension in 2019. He wanted at least a nine-year deal for about $324 million, someone with direct knowledge of the negotiations told USA TODAY Sports’ Bob Nightengale.
So, in other words, the Yankees and Judge were $100 million apart.
Many wondered why the Yanks made their offer public, which isn’t their normal modus operandi, but it’s a PR game now. Brian Cashman and Co. made a serious offer, in their minds, and now we’ll see who was right.
Bob Klapisch / NJ.com (Star-Ledger…and one of the veterans of the local scene)
“Aaron Judge is taking the biggest gamble of his career after saying ‘No thanks’ to the Yankees’ reasonable seven-year offer at $30.5 million per….
“According to sources…Judge was asking for a nine-year pact worth an estimated $36 million per. After choking back their disbelief, it was the Yankees’ turn to say: never happening.
“Judge’s asking price was staggering, but give him credit for audacity. The right fielder believes in himself enough to walk away from a monster paycheck without even flinching.
“Put it this way… Judge thinks he should be paid more than Mike Trout. To paraphrase Hal Steinbrenner’s response, not in a million years.
“Judge is a huge talent and has become more famous than Trout. That’s an achievement in itself. But I don’t know of a single MLB executive who’d take the Yankees’ slugger over the Angels’ three-time MVP. Judge, undeterred, intends to prove the Yankees wrong over the next six months. What a pressure cooker it’s going to be.
“The big slugger will need a tour de force performance starting now, both on and off the field. That means leading the Yankees’ charge to the World Series, staying healthy all summer and figuring out how not to miss nine games in Toronto because of Canada’s Covid restriction….
“Cashman said the decision to reveal the Yankees’ position was made ‘out of transparency’ even though teams rarely negotiate in the public arena. What the hierarchy really wanted was to a) get Steinbrenner, who’s been relentlessly mocked as a cheapskate, off the hook and b) put the onus for the talks’ collapse on Judge.
“That’s not to say the Yankees are demonizing the slugger. They still like him. $30.5 million is historic money.” But Judge wanted the Yanks to match Trout’s contract.
“That singular comparison to Trout baffled both Steinbrenner and Cashman, and rightfully so. As terrific as Judge has been (at times) in his Yankees career, he’s still a rung below Trout, who is already a first-ballot Hall of Famer….
“Now the question is how Judge will respond. The next six months will be a game by game, at-bat by at-bat audition. Judge said, ‘I don’t want any distractions’ from this point forward. But let’s be serious. Judge’s future will be the only narrative that matters this summer.”
And that’s the truth.
Well, the Yankees won their second straight over Boston, 4-2, on Saturday as Giancarlo Stanton and Anthony Rizzo both homered for a second straight game; Aaron Judge 2-for-8 thus far.
--The Padres became the only team in the modern era to have a starting pitcher give up no hits through at least six innings in back-to-back games, and it was the first two of the season, Thursday and Friday.
But…they only got a split out of it.
In their opener in Phoenix, Yu Darvish threw six no-hit innings, 4 walks, 92 pitches, but San Diego lost to Arizona 4-2 as the bullpen blew it.
Then on Friday, newly acquired starter Sean Manaea went seven brilliant innings, one walk, seven Ks, 88 pitches, and the Padres won 3-0 over the D’Backs. Going further was never an issue after the lockout-shortened spring training.
Plus new manager Bob Melvin was Manaea’s manager in Oakland and Manaea threw a no-no in 2018.
Back to the opener, Arizona’s Seth Beer hit the game-ending, three-run homer and the D’Backs capitalized on the publicity the next day with a promotion that gave a free Coors Light to the first 10,000 fans who came to the park that were 21 years and older.
Now that’s a pretty good deal, with stadium beer normally about $8, or higher, these days.
Saturday, San Diego starter Joe Musgrove went six innings, two runs, as the Padres beat the D’Backs 5-2.
--Shohei Ohtani made history in his Opening Day start on Thursday, becoming the first player in either league to both throw his team’s first pitch of the season and hit in his team’s first at-bat.
Ohtani went 4 2/3, one run, while striking out nine on 80 pitches, becoming only the fourth pitcher to strike out Houston’s Jose Altuve three times in a single game, joining Matt Cain, Zack Greinke and Max Scherzer.
After the first three games, the Angels were 1-2, with newcomer Noah Syndergaard picking up a win Saturday with 5 1/3 of shutout ball, 2-0 over the Astros, Mike Trout hitting his first homer of the season. Ohtani is just 1 for his first 13 at-bats.
--Adam Wainwright became the fourth oldest NL or AL pitcher since 1901 to throw six scoreless innings on Opening Day, the Cardinals shutting out the Pirates 9-0. This guy’s amazing. He’s coming off a terrific 2021…17-7, 3.05. He also now has 185 wins. In today’s game, 200 is the new 300 when it comes to Hall of Fame consideration.
The oldest Opening Day pitcher to throw six shutout innings was Rip Sewell, who was 41 when he accomplished the feat for the 1949 Pirates. In his last season, Sewell went 6-1, finishing up a fine career 143-97, 3.48 ERA. Ralph Kiner hit 54 home runs for the ’49 Pirates, who were 71-83. Our late Dr. Bortrum was in the stands for many of those games, as he was finishing up his doctorate at the University of Pittsburgh.
--We note the passing of former catcher/first baseman John Ellis, who died of cancer at 73. Ellis was best known in his later life for his charitable works in the fight against the disease.
Ellis came up with the Yankees in 1969, playing with them for four seasons, and would go on to play 13 years in the big leagues, mostly as a backup catcher, but he had two very solid seasons with the Indians, 1973-74, and batted .262 for his career.
In Ellis’ big league debut at the age of 20, he hit an inside-the-park home run against the Angels into left-center field, the original “Death Valley” at the old Yankee Stadium. It wasn’t an easy feat for the 6-3, 225 lb. Ellis, who backed up Thurman Munson and first baseman Ron Blomberg during his time in The Bronx.
--LeBron James missed the final two games of the Lakers’ season with a sprained left ankle, preventing him from winning his second NBA scoring title.
James averaged 30.3 points this season while playing in only 56 games, two shy of the minimum to qualify for the scoring title.
Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid was averaging 30.4 ppg heading into his final two and Saturday, he had 40 in a 129-113 win over the Pacers.
James was attempting to become the oldest scoring champion in NBA history by surpassing Michael Jordan, who was 35 when he won his final title.
He is also missing the playoffs for only the second time since 2005.
LeBron’s final year of his contract with the Lakers is next season, $44.5 million. It will be his 20th.
--So Embiid has been bitching up a storm that he deserves to be MVP and he has had an outstanding season.
30.6 ppg, 11.7 rebounds, 4.2 assists…for a team 50-31
But Denver’s Nikola Jokic, last year’s MVP, has an even better line this season than last at 27.1, 13.8, 7.9 for the 48-33 Nuggets.
And 2X MVP Giannis is 29.9, 11.6, 5.8, for the 51-30 Bucks.
And…Luka Doncic is 28.5, 9.1, 8.7 for the 51-30 Mavericks.
[All the above prior to Sunday’s final action.]
Jokic, by the way, became the first player in NBA history with 2000 points, 1000 rebounds, and 500 assists in one season. Kareen and Wilt were the only others with 2000, 1000 and 400.
--For the Knicks it was a miserable season, 36-45 as they face Toronto in their finale tonight, and in the offseason it’s all about what to do with Julius Randle. Knicks fans want Obi Toppin to take his place, and Toppin had a superb career-best 35 points the other night as Randle sat out the final games of the season with an injury.
New York also avoided a major injury to emerging star RJ Barrett, who severely sprained his knee the other night, but thankfully it wasn’t worse.
--Monday’s Kansas-North Carolina NCAA men’s basketball national championship averaged 17.05 million viewers across TNT, TBS and TruTV (18.1 million including additional streaming data not tracked by Nielsen). The Nielsen-only figure is down slightly from last year’s Baylor-Gonzaga title game on CBS, but with the additional streaming audience included, viewership increased 4% year-over-year.
But North Carolina-Duke drew a larger audience, with 17.66 million in Nielsen-reported viewers, 18.5 including streaming data not tracked by Nielsen.
The full men’s NCAA Tournament averaged a combined 10.7 million viewers per window, up 13% from last year and up 2% from 2019, pre-pandemic.
The women’s basketball championship game between South Carolina and UConn averaged a combined 4.85 million viewers, up 18% from last year.
The complete Women’s Final Four averaged 3.46 million viewers, up 20% from last year and the highest average since 2012.
--The NFL was shocked Saturday with word that quarterback Dwayne Haskins was killed while walking on a Florida highway Friday night, hit by a dump truck. It’s not known as yet why he was walking on the highway and it really doesn’t matter. Haskins was 24.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said in a statement he was “devasted and at a loss for words with the unfortunate passing of Dwayne Haskins. He quickly became part of our Steelers family upon his arrival in Pittsburgh and was one of our hardest workers, both on the field and in our community. Dwayne was a great teammate, but even more so a tremendous friend to many. I am truly heartbroken.”
Haskins was the 15th overall pick of the 2019 NFL Draft out of Ohio State, selected by Washington. I was super high on the New Jersey native and thought the Giants should have taken him rather than Daniel Jones (6th overall that year). But Haskins had a disappointing two seasons in Washington, starting 13 games (3-10-0), 12 touchdowns, 14 interceptions.
The Steelers gave Haskins a chance to resurrect his career in January 2021 when they signed him a month after being released by Washington. Humbled by the decision, Haskins stressed he was eager to work hard and absorb as much as he could from Ben Roethlisberger and Mason Rudolph. He made the roster as the third-stringer, though only dressed once.
But Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert both praised Haskins for his improvement since joining the team, and the Steelers re-signed him to a one-year deal as a restricted free agent in March. He was expected to compete with Rudolph and Mitch Trubisky for a spot.
Haskins appeared to be working out in South Florida this week with several teammates, including Trubisky and other skill position players, including running back Najee Harris.
In 2018 at Ohio State, he had a monster season, throwing 50 touchdowns with just eight interceptions, third in the Heisman Trophy voting, while leading the Buckeyes to a Rose Bowl win over Washington, 3rd in the final AP poll.
Former Dallas Cowboys executive Gil Brandt sparked a massive social media backlash over comments he made about the death of Haskins.
Brandt was asked about the quarterback on NFL Radio, Saturday, and the 90-year-old Hall of Famer said, “I hate anytime anybody is killed or anybody dies. But he was a guy who was living to be dead.
“They told him don’t, under any circumstances, leave school early. You just don’t have the work habits. You don’t have this, you don’t have that. What did he do? He left school early,” Brandt said.
“Maybe if he stayed in school a year he wouldn’t do silly things [like] jogging on a highway,” he added.
Reaction to the comments came in swiftly and fiercely.
On Saturday afternoon, Brandt apologized for his “poor choice of words.”
--The Buffalo Bills and wide receiver Stefon Diggs have agreed to a four-year contract extension; $104 million with $70 million guaranteed, according to various reports.
Diggs had two years left on his current 5-year, $72 million deal. He’s now locked up through 2027.
Diggs made the Pro Bowl his first two seasons with the Bills, catching 230 passes for 2,760 yards and 18 touchdowns.
--Hall of Fame offensive tackle Rayfield Wright died. “Big Cat” was 76.
Wright was a huge player for his era, 1967-79 for Dallas, at 6-6 and over 250 pounds. He had been a backup tight end for a couple of seasons when coach Tom Landry asked him about playing tackle, a position Wright had never played in his life.
Wright first started at the position in a 1969 game lined up against Deacon Jones, the most dominant pass rusher of his era and Wright held his own, going on to become a 3X All-Pro and two-time Super Bowl champ with the Cowboys.
“He was absolutely the best,” Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach said before Wright’s hall induction in 2006.
--We still have three weeks left in the NHL regular season but Toronto’s Auston Matthews, with 58 goals, not only broke the franchise single-season record, but it’s the most scored in a season by a U.S.-born player.
--The Eastern Conference playoffs are going to be nuts, with all eight teams having basically been decided a month ago and any one of the eight capable of winning it all.
Rangers fans are pumped. And speaking of goal scorers, long-time Blue Shirt Chris Kreider is on the verge of 50 goals with 49, which would make him only the fourth in team history to hit that mark. Kreider, in his ninth full season with New York, had never had 30 in a season before this one.
--Yesterday, Denver won its ninth men’s College Hockey Championship at the Frozen Four, 5-1 over Minnesota State.
We had a biggie today, Manchester City hosting Liverpool at Etihad. Like this is most likely the season.
That’s what I wrote prior to the match. But it isn’t the season, it turns out, after a 2-2 draw left City just one-point clear of the Reds.
Both sides had opportunities to take it, VAR coming into play, while my man Kevin De Bruyne played superbly for City.
Meanwhile, yesterday, Tottenham, with a 4-0 win over Aston Villa (Son Heung-min with a hat trick), greatly helped its top four chances when at the same time Arsenal was defeated at home by Brighton 2-1.
Chelsea blitzed Southampton 6-0.
And Manchester United lost to Everton 1-0, a huge win for Everton in its battle to avoid relegation, especially when coupled with Burnley’s loss today to bottom-dweller Norwich, 2-0.
Cristiano Ronaldo is under scrutiny by PL officials after a video emerged of him swatting a fan’s phone out of his hands as Man U headed towards the locker room.
So the standings…Played (out of 38) – Points
1. Man City…31 – 74
2. Liverpool…31 – 73
3. Chelsea…30 – 62
4. Tottenham…31 – 57
5. Arsenal…30 – 54
6. West Ham..32 – 51
7. Man U…31 – 51
17. Everton…30 – 28
18. Burnley…30 – 24
Tottenham plays Arsenal May 12, after playing Liverpool five days before.
--The Premier League’s entrants in the Champions League took 2 of 3 in their quarterfinals’ first legs.
Chelsea lost to Real Madrid 3-1, but Liverpool defeated Benfica 3-1 and Man City edged Atletico Madrid 1-0.
The second legs are this coming week.
--Charles Leclerc had a dominating victory in the Australian Grand Prix today, the Ferrari driver, after just three races, with a dominating lead in the points standings over defending champion and rival Max Verstappen.
--William Byron became the first two-time winner in the NASCAR Cup Series season with a victory Saturday night at Martinsville, Va., holding off Joey Logano in a two-lap overtime sprint.
It was Byron’s fourth career win.
It was also a frigid night, the race delayed by more than an hour at the start when rain and sleet fell.
--This was the final weekend for horses to qualify for the Kentucky Derby, and as I wrote the other day, Bob Baffert, serving a 90-day suspension as a result of Medina Spirit’s positive test for an anti-inflammatory that’s not legal on race day, transferred two of his top horses to Tim Yakteen, a former Baffert assistant.
Saturday, in the Santa Anita Derby, Baffert’s former horses, Messier and Taiba, were in the field. And what happened was remarkable.
Messier was the favorite, Taiba third, behind Forbidden Kingdom in the morning-line betting, but here’s the thing. Taiba, bought by Medina Spirit owner Amr Zedan, had run only one race, a maiden special he won by 7 ½ lengths.
Yakteen did not want to enter Taiba, a $1.7 million purchase, in this race because of his inexperience. He was overruled by owner Zedan, and wouldn’t you know, Taiba won it! Messier finished second and both qualified for the Derby!
Zedan also made the decision to have Mike Smith, the Hall of Famer who rode Justify to a Triple Crown, as Taiba’s jockey.
I watched the race and Taiba was spectacular.
This is great stuff, and a tremendous story line for the Derby.
Yakteen has had the horses just two weeks.
--Boris Becker, 54, has been a mysterious figure for decades. The six-time Grand Slam champion has seldom spoken up or been seen as today’s Big Three dominate like no other trio.
And now he faces a prison sentence after being found guilty Friday of illicitly moving funds from a bank account after he was declared bankrupt.
A London court convicted Becker on four charges under the Insolvency Act, having been found to have transferred hundreds of thousands of pounds after his June 2017 bankruptcy from his business account to other accounts, including those of his ex-wife and estranged wife.
He was also convicted on other charges.
During the trial Becker said his $50 million career earnings had been swallowed up by payments for an “expensive divorce” and debts when he lost large chunks of his income after retirement.
--Zoos across North America have been moving their birds indoors and away from people and wildlife as they try to protect them from the highly contagious and potentially deadly avian influenza.
Penguins may be the only birds visitors to many zoos can see right now, because they already are kept inside and usually protected behind glass in their exhibits, making it harder for the bird flu to reach them.
Nearly 23 million chickens and turkeys have already been killed across the United States to limit the spread of the virus, and zoos are working hard to prevent any of their birds from meeting the same fate. It would be especially upsetting for zoos to have to kill any of the endangered or threatened species in their care.
For example, the Toronto Zoo has less than two dozen Loggerhead Shrike songbirds that it’s been breeding with the hope of reintroducing them into the wild. “We take amazing care and the welfare and well being of our animals is the utmost importance. There’s a lot of staff that has close connections with the animals that they care for here at the zoo.”
--A former trainer at SeaWorld said killer whales who are stressed in captivity could attack more humans in the future. John Hargrove said the whales are exposed to “lives of quiet desperation” that can eventually lead to “violent behavior” as well as “deadly attacks,” he said in a report published last week.
Hargrove compares the treatment of orcas to that endured by human prisoners in solitary confinement.
It was in 2010 that his coworker Dawn Brancheau was killed by an orca named Tilikum.
Top 3 songs for the week 4/14/73: #1 “The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia” (Vicki Lawrence) #2 “Neither One Of Us (Wants To Be The First To Say Goodbye)” (Gladys Knight & The Pips) #3 “Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Ole Oak Tree” (Dawn Featuring Tony Orlando)…and…#4 “Ain’t No Woman (Like The One I’ve Got)” (Four Tops) #5 “Sing” (Carpenters) #6 “The Cisco Kid” (War) #7 “Danny’s Song” (Anne Murray) #8 “Break Up To Make Up” (The Stylistics) #9 “Killing Me Softly With His Song” (Roberta Flack) #10 “Call Me” (Al Green…B week…)
Baseball Quiz Answers: 1) The last to score 150 runs in the NL was Jeff Bagwell, 152 in 2000. Prior to that, Chuck Klein was the last in the league with 150; 152 back in 1932. Klein had 158 in 1930. 2) Ted Williams is the last in the AL with 150 runs scored, 150 in 1949. 3) Babe Ruth holds the all-time single-season record with 177 in his phenomenal 1921 season, when he had 119 extra-base hits (44 2B, 16 3B, 59 HR).
It always brings a smile of wonder to your face when you look at Ted Williams’ record. Like the 27 strikeouts in 1941 when he hit .406.
Add-On up top by noon, Wed.