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A Swede Wins the Indy 500
Add-on posted early Wed. a.m.
--Boston got it done, so now it’s the Warriors-Celtics for the NBA Championship, Game 1 in San Francisco on Thursday.
Boston won Game 7 down in Miami Sunday night, 100-96, as the triumvirate of Jason Tatum (26 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists), Marcus Smart (24 points) and Jaylen Brown (24) came through when they had to.
Hard to believe, but it was Boston’s first Game 7 win on the road since topping Milwaukee for the 1974 NBA title. [Not including the Covid bubble crapola.]
Jimmy Butler, 35 points, was terrific again for the Heat, but he missed what would have been a go-ahead 3-pointer with about 17 seconds left, and the Celtics never trailed.
Miami was down by 11 with under 3 minutes to go when the Heat had a 9-0 run to get to within 98-96, but that was it.
Pretty amazing what coach Ime Udoka has done in his first season. Through 50 games, the Celtics were 25-25 (and my Celtics fan friends were bitching up a storm, which is always irritating for this Mets/Jets/Knicks/Rangers fan…they also being Pats/Red Sox/Bruins fans…). No team had that sort of record through 50 and made the NBA Finals since 1981.
After that 25-25 start the Celts went 26-6, and Boston is also now 13-1 after losses over the last four-plus months.
Stanley Cup Playoffs
--The Rangers did it again…down 3-1 against Pittsburgh in the first round, they won the next three.
Down 3-2 to Carolina, they won the final two, including Game 7 in Raleigh, Monday, the Hurricanes’ first home loss of the playoffs after starting out 7-0.
And New York did it in convincing fashion, 6-2, as Chris Kreider scored twice, Igor Shesterkin with 37 saves, and here’s the deal.
If you’re a Rangers fan this is now a very successful season. Of course you dream of 8 more wins, but reaching the final four in the NHL is pretty good. Every hockey fan just wants their team to make the playoffs, and the better ones should win two series.
Tampa Bay is the two-time defending champions so we’ll see.
--Tuesday, Colorado held off Edmonton 8-6 in Denver, in a rather wild Game 1 of the Western Conference final.
Colorado held a four-goal lead in the second period, but the win wasn’t in hand until an empty-net goal with 21.4 seconds remaining.
--Sunday night after I posted, us Mets fans were treated to an unbelievable finish, yet another one in this magical first 50 games.
The Mets had a 3-1 lead heading to the top of the eighth against the Phillies at Citi Field, Chris Bassitt having given us six strong, the Mets scratching out three runs in the bottom of the first, when reliever Adam Ottavino gave up a 3-run homer to Philadelphia’s Nick Castellanos and the Phils suddenly had a 4-3 lead.
And it remained 4-3 as the Mets batted in the bottom of the ninth when lighting struck. Nick Plummer, who the Mets had called up days earlier and who started in left field and was shaky there, and had struck out in two of his three plate appearances, launched a 112-mph rocket into the second deck in right on the first pitch from Phillies closer Corey Knebel, game tied 4-4. It was an electric moment.
Edwin Diaz, with the ghost runner on second to start the second, then closed the door and the Mets won it in the bottom of the 10th on an Eduardo Escobar hit, Escobar struggling mightily all season after signing a two-year contract. Just a huge game.
So heading into Monday night, the Mets hosting the Nationals, we had an 8 ½-game lead in the NL East. Not too shabby.
And they stretched it to 9 ½. After falling behind 3-0 in the top of the first, the Metropolitans scored 12 runs in four innings on their way to a 13-5 win.
Nick Plummer homered again, 4 RBIs. Very cool…except not for Dom Smith, who hasn’t homered in 11 months, and he was sent down.
And then Tuesday, the Mets shut out the Nats 10-0 and suddenly have a 10 ½-game lead over Atlanta after the Braves fell to the Diamondback 8-7 in ten innings.
Goodness gracious…the largest division lead ever at the end of May for the Mets’ franchise.
[Francisco Lindor had two more RBI, giving him 19 in his last nine games.]
--The struggling Angels opened a series at Yankee Stadium Tuesday and lost 9-1, as former Met hurler Noah Syndergaard was shelled; Jordan Montgomery (4-1, 3.04) with seven strong for the Yanks as they continue to receive sterling starting pitching.
Los Angeles has lost six straight and at 27-23 sits five games back of the Astros (32-18).
--The White Sox have been disappointing, 23-23, but they’ve had their share of tough injuries, including to Eloy Jimenez, Yoan Moncada and starting pitcher Lance Lynn.
And now Tim Anderson and his .356 average and sterling play at short is on the IL with a groin injury.
--They announced the 64-team field for the NCAA Men’s Baseball Championship.
The top four seeds are 1. Tennessee 2. Stanford 3. Oregon State 4. Virginia Tech
Tennessee is a prohibitive favorite.
Wake Forest is in a regional hosted by 15 Maryland, with Long Island and UConn. For the Deacs, the ideal situation…don’t have to travel far, which also means easy for fans to get to.
Regional play begins Friday.
Kind of funny. The NCAA Baseball Selection Committee is headed up by Army’s athletic director, Mike Buddie.
Buddie pitched at Wake Forest, and then had a little major league career, 1998-2002, with the Yankees and Brewers…87 games, 5-4, 4.67 ERA.
Buddie then went back to Wake, worked in sports administration for a while, got a head AD job at Furman, and now he’s at Army. Not that Wake didn’t deserve a bid otherwise, but it didn’t hurt to have a Buddie on the committee.
Meanwhile, fans of North Carolina State and Rutgers are crying as they were two of the teams standing out that didn’t make the tournament field.
--2-seed Daniil Medvedev was wiped out Monday in straight sets by 20 Marin Cilic, the 33-year-old veteran from Bosnia. A huge surprise; Medvedev not making the quarterfinals.
4-seed Stefanos Tsitsipas lost to unseeded 19-year-old Dane, Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune. Good lord, that’s a weighty name.
--Well, this set up a biggie on Tuesday…a match for the ages…Nadal vs. Djokovic in the quarters.
And in a 4-hour classic, Nadal stayed on track for his 14th French Open title, 22nd Grand Slam title, with a 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 win over defending champ and world No. 1 Djokovic.
In another quarterfinal Tuesday, 3 Alexander Zverez beat 6 Carlos Alcaraz 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6.
It’s Zverev and Nadal on Friday, Rafa’s 36th birthday.
--On the women’s side, 11 Jessica Pegula, daughter of the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres’ owners, Terry and Kim Pegula, became the third American woman to reach the quarterfinals. Pegula now takes on world No. 1 Iga Swiatek, Wednesday.
Swiatek, in defeating Chinese teenager Zheng Qinwen, won her 32nd consecutive match, equaling the third-longest win streak on the women’s tour since 2000. Venus Williams had 35 in 2000.
Tuesday, Coco Gauff won her quarterfinal against fellow American Sloane Stephens…7-5, 6-2. It’s her first trip to a Grand Slam semifinal.
--Going back to Sunday and Sam Burns win in the playoff over his buddy Scottie Scheffler. For the record, Burns was in the clubhouse for two hours before he learned he was still playing.
So back-to-back seven-shot comebacks in the final round of a PGA Tour event, Justin Thomas doing the same at the PGA Championship.
--I didn’t have a chance to note the result of the Senior PGA Championship, but the amazing Steven Alker continues with his magic?
Steven Alker? If you are a casual golf fan, you still might not know his name. And you’re forgiven.
This is a 50-year-old from New Zealand who made 86 PGA Tour stops without a top 10 and missed the cut in 47 of them. He made 80 European Tour starts and missed the cut in 42, with a single top 10. Alker did win four times on the Korn Ferry Tour (Nike, Buy.com, Nationwide and Web.com Tour). But like after all those years, whoopty-damn-do.
Then he joined the senior circuit and he has four wins in 19 starts, three in his last five, 16 top 10s in the 19.
How does he explain it?
“Lots of things,” Alker said. “Support, and the game coming around, people helping me just to get me in shape, caddie, everybody. It’s been a great run. I’ve just enjoyed playing out here. It’s been so much fun…
“I’ve had these 18 months, two years, 50s coming up, so let’s stay in shape. Let’s keep playing. We have a second career. Let’s go for it. Let’s go.”
--After months of speculation, the field for the first LIV Golf Invitational Series event June 9-11 was announced and there was a surprise – Dustin Johnson. We’ll see how the PGA Tour and commissioner Jay Monahan respond.
Others in the field are as expected…Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood, Louis Oosthuizen, Kevin Na, Martin Kaymer, Charl Schwartzel and Talor Gooch (a minor surprise).
But no Phil Mickelson.
--So when I posted Sunday, Wake Forest was attempting to be in the top 15 of the NCAA Men’s Golf Championship to then have a shot Monday at the final eight and match play.
I noted that as the Deacs played holes 12-17, they were just a stroke inside the top 15.
Alas, they flamed out, badly, finishing six strokes off the cut line, tied for 19 out of 30.
For a team that won the ACC Championship and their regional, disappointing, but we would have comfortably made the top 15, and then maybe match play, had our leader, Alex Fitzpatrick, not been out of the lineup in the first round due to food poisoning. It really sucks. You have a great year and one guy isn’t carrying Tums with him. [Tums is the single best product invented by man. It works every time, and quickly.]
After Monday’s fourth round then, we had a final 8 teams that also happened to be ranked in the top 8 in the last Coaches Poll.
And in match play, 7-seed Arizona State (different from the rankings) beat 2 Oklahoma; 6 Pepperdine upset 3 North Carolina; 1 Vanderbilt beat 8 Texas Tech; and 4 Texas beat 5 Oklahoma State.
In the semifinals…ASU beat Pepperdine 4-1-0, and Texas took out No. 1 Vandy 3-1-1.
The final is on Golf Channel, Wednesday, at 5 p.m. ET.
Meanwhile, Vanderbilt freshman Gordon Sargent won the individual title in a four-man playoff with Ryan Burnett of North Carolina, Parker Coody of Texas and Eugenio Chacarra of OK State.
Sargent joins an elite group that includes Ben Crenshaw, Curtis Strange and Phil Mickelson to have won the national championship as a freshman. The last of the nine to accomplish the feat was USC’s Jamie Lovemark in 2007.
But in Sargent’s semifinal match with the Longhorns’ Cole Hammer, Hammer took care of business, 4&3.
--The Coca-Cola 600 is not only the longest race of the season, in terms of distance, but this edition was literally the longest, timewise, ad more than 5 ½ hours, taking 413 laps to complete (instead of 400, 1.5 miles per). There were 18 caution flags and 16 drivers failed to finish.
No, I didn’t watch much of it, let alone stay up for the conclusion. I was watching the Mets, and then a little of the Celtics-Heat.
But Denny Hamlin ended up winning it, his 48th win in the Cup Series and first time at Charlotte Motor Speedway in a points race.
Kyle Larson was set to win when with two laps to go, Chase Briscoe crashed trying to pass him, Chris Buescher spectacularly flipping over five times before stopping upside down. He was OK.
On the next restart, Hamlin took the lead and held off Kyle Busch. Kevin Harvick was third, Briscoe fourth.
On Lap 192, Ryan Blaney started a crash that caught up 12 cars, sending Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski, Bubba Wallace, William Byron and Chase Elliott, among others – behind the wall for good.
Well, your editor had a big win with his DraftKings lineup because five of my six cars survived!
--I noted before that Fulham and Bournemouth are being promoted to the Premier League, having finished 1-2 in the Championship League.
But then they have this 4-team playoff for the final spot and Nottingham Forest, one of the great names in football history, beat Huddersfield Town on Sunday, 1-0.
So, after being relegated way back in 1999, Forest (as they’re known) is back in the big time…23 long years. It got so bad, they had to spend three seasons in League One (like the equivalent of AA baseball).
I’ll be rooting for Forest to stick around a while.
--Meanwhile, the controversy over the handling of the crowd, specifically Liverpool fans at the Champions League final in Paris continues.
French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said “massive, industrial-scale” ticket fraud had caused Liverpool fans to turn up en masse, and he stated that there had been 30,000 to 40,000 Liverpool fans with fake tickets or without tickets outside the stadium.
I bit my tongue when I posted Sunday, describing like few others could, what kind of neighborhood Stade de France is in. But you should have been able to read between the lines.
It’s a crappy area! And as more than one Liverpool fan said after, it was about local hooligans climbing over the fences to get in for free.
Freakin’ Darmanin, in defending the police’s actions, stated that “the decisions taken prevented deaths or serious injury.”
“We regret a disorganization in the admission of British supporters,” he said. [BBC News]
So then a spokesperson for France’s independent police commissioner’s union, Mathieu Valet, told the BBC that “supporters without tickets or with fake tickets…were not the main problem.
“It’s clear that we needed more police – we didn’t have enough on the ground,” he added.
Good for Monsieur Valet. Yes, blaming Liverpool is a convenient way to shift blame.
On Monday, Maryland completed perhaps the best season all time in men’s college lacrosse, beating Cornell 9-7 in the national title game and thus completing a perfect 18-0 season. The Terps are the first undefeated champion since Virginia in 2006.
--A woman was gored by a bison at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming after she approached the animal Monday morning, parks officials said.
As the 25-year-old got within ten feet of the animal, it gored her and tossed her ten feet into the air, officials said.
The victim suffered a puncture wound and was taken to a hospital.
Yellowstone visitors are urged to stay 75 feet away from animals such as bison and elk, and at least 300 feet away from bears and wolves. Personally, I’d recommend 12 miles for the latter.
Next Bar Chat, Sunday p.m. It might be a little later than usual.
Very brief Add-on up top by noon, Wed.
[Posted prior to Sunday night action, including Celtics-Heat, Mets-Phillies]
Los Angeles Dodgers Quiz: The Dodgers are retiring Gil Hodges’ No. 14 on June 4. Name the other ten who have had theirs retired. Answer below.
Sweden’s Marcus Ericsson won the 106th running of the greatest spectacle in the sport and it was exciting. We had five, thankfully single-car crashes (not including a back of the pack crash on the final lap), no one hurt, spaced out, which from time to time bunched up the cars for restarts, but it was the last crash, with four laps to go by Jimmie Johnson, in his first 500 (fulfilling a dream), that led to a thrilling 2-lap sprint for the trophy that changes every winner’s life.
Ericsson was firmly in control before Johnson’s crash, and anything can happen on a restart, but he held off an initial challenge from Mexico’s Pato O’Ward, and then had no issues the final lap (the race officially ending under caution because of the crash in the back of the field). Frankly, for spectators, it was the perfect race. Some super action, and the kind of finish everyone wants.
Indy, like the Daytona 500, is so unpredictable, with so many variables, and this was a good one. The sport of racing is in great shape…rising ratings, celebrity ownership coming into play, all good.
Pato O’Ward almost gave Mexico a dream Sunday on racing’s best weekend of the year, as countryman Sergio Perez won the Monaco Grand Prix, though it wasn’t confirmed for four hours due to the filing of a protest by Ferrari, whose Carlos Sainz claimed second.
Ferrari contended that both Perez and teammate Max Verstappen breached the line at pit exit on Lap 23, which is a no-no. The protest was ruled unfounded.
Tonight, it’s NASCAR’s annual Memorial Day celebration, the Charlotte 600 (oops, Coca-Cola 600, from Charlotte). I don’t drink Coke. I drink beer.
--Dan Shaughnessy / Boston Globe
“Are you kidding me?
“We bought plane tickets for San Francisco. We waxed poetic about the ‘Dream Finals’ between the Boston Celtics and the Golden State Warriors. Even veteran Warrior Draymond Green and the Warriors ‘are going to play Boston’ in the league’s showcase event.
“Most everybody dismissed the poor, pitiful Miami Heat as mere cannon fodder for the Celts after Boston dominated the Heat in Games 4 and 5 of their Eastern Conference final. It was at the point where we were almost feeling sorry for the banged-up, word-down Heat.
“Celtic Nation filled the New Garden on a festive Friday ready to see Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart finally ascend to the ultimate series. It was supposed to be a coronation.
“Instead, it was a stunning loss for Boston. Playing in the image of their front office leader (Pat Riley), the mentally tough, ever-proud Heat quieted the Garden, led most of the night, and beat the overconfident Celtics, 111-103, to force a Game 7 Sunday night at FTX Arena in Miami.”
I watched the fourth quarter after the Mets-Phil game and while Tatum had 30 points, he also had seven turnovers, including a critical one late, while Smart shot just 4 of 15, 1 for 9 from three, and Jaylen Brown, with the score tied 99-99 and 2:28 left, missed two free throws that weren’t even close. And Al Horford was pathetic, 3 points.
Meanwhile, the Heat’s Jimmy Butler not only had one of the great playoff elimination games of all time, 47 points (17 in the fourth quarter), on 16 of 29 (4 of 8 from three), 11 of 11 from the free throw line, but he had just one turnover in 46 minutes! [Throw in 8 assists, 9 rebounds, and 4 steals for good measure.]
Butler, who disappeared in the two losses, Games 4 and 5, as he was playing hurt, put on a show for the ages.
Consider Miami was once again playing without the best sixth man in the game, Tyler Herro, and all you can say is that it was a primo choke job for the Celts.
We’ll see who shows up for Boston tonight. Everyone has to. They haven’t been to the Finals since 2010.
Whoever wins Sunday night’s game faces Golden State in the Finals. The Warriors, after their emotional game Tuesday in Dallas where they couldn’t complete the sweep, beat the Mavericks 120-110, as Klay Thompson hit eight 3-pointers and scored a game-high 32 points.
So Golden State will be looking for its fourth title since 2015.
--The Los Angeles Lakers, in a bit of a surprise, hired 48-year-old Milwaukee Bucks assistant Darvin Ham to be their new head coach, replacing the fired Frank Vogel. Ham, who was a bit player in his journeyman NBA career, but won an NBA title as a member of the 2003-04 Detroit Pistons, has the endorsement of Lebron James.
“So damn EXCITED!!!!!!!” he tweeted after Friday’s news. “Congrats and welcome Coach Dham!!”
Ham was Coach Mike Budenholzer’s lead assistant as the Bucks rose to the top of the Eastern Conference and won the 2021 NBA championship. Ham did coach in the G League.
--In College Basketball, locally, Saint Peter’s star KC Ndefo is following his old coach, Shaheen Holloway, to Seton Hall…great move for Ndefo, and super for the Pirates. We learned in the NCAA Tournament that Ndefo is that blue-collar type that every championship team needs. He averaged 10.5 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.4 blocks for the Peacocks.
Stanley Cup Playoffs
--Colorado finished off its second-round series against St. Louis with a 3-2 win on Friday night, as veteran center Darren Helm scored with just 5.6 seconds left.
Helm, 35, has done little over the years, but he’s a big hero in Colorado today as he blasted a shot from the faceoff circle that eluded Blues goalie Ville Husso’s glove.
Actually, 13 years ago, Helm, then a member of the Red Wings, nailed down the Western Conference championship with an overtime goal in Game 5 against Chicago. I mean the guy only has 11 playoff goals in 82 career games.
So it’s Colorado vs. Edmonton for the Western Conference title.
Speaking of Edmonton, they took out Calgary on Thursday, 5-4, on a Connor McDavid goal in overtime, winning the series 4-1, and Leo Draisaitl, the 26-year-old from Cologne, Germany (where your editor has partied down watching Bundesliga football), had four assists for the Oilers.
But I found this rather remarkable. Not only was it Draisaitl’s fifth straight playoff game with 3+ points, but no one else has ever had more than three such games. Gretzky did that twice.
Take out the 2020-21 Covid season and Draisaitl has had three straight 100+ point seasons, including 55 goals and 55 assists this season. [And in 2020-21, he had 84 points in 56 games.]
And in the Eastern Conference, it’s Tampa Bay vs. ….err, Rangers or Carolina.
The Rangers once again came through in the clutch, winning Game 6 Saturday night at the Garden 5-2, forcing a Game 7 back in Raleigh on Monday. We’ve been here before, but the Hurricanes have yet to lose at home this postseason, 7-0.
Igor Shesterkin was superb for the Blueshirts, not only stopping 37 shots, but adding two assists.
--The Yankees have had an easy schedule early on and their fans, and the scribes, were questioning just how good they really are.
So they headed down to Tampa Bay for a 4-game series with the tough Rays and the Yanks took the first two, 7-2 and 2-0. Nestor Cortes went 8 innings in the Thursday affair, one run, now 4-1, 1.70, and then Jameson Taillon went 8 shutout innings Friday, allowing just two hits, as he improves to 5-1, 2.49.
The 33-13 Yanks opened up a 6 ½-game lead over Tampa (26-19) entering Saturday’s game.
But New York has suddenly had its share of injuries, with Josh Donaldson (throwing shoulder pain) joining Giancarlo Stanton, outfielder Aaron Hicks and infielder DJ LeMahieu, though only Donaldson and Stanton were on the IL.
LeMahieu and Hicks returned Saturday, and the Rays won it 3-1 as the Yankee pen faltered. Gerrit Cole had gone six innings of one-run ball, 10 Ks, for the no-decision.
And then Sunday, in a bizarre affair, Tampa Bay won it 4-2, despite having just two hits!
How? Well, the two hits were solo homers, and then in the seventh, Yankee starter Luis Severino (who had given up the dingers) walked two, was taken out, and the next guy, Ron Marinaccio, walked two and hit a batter….two runs.
So after all that…a split and back to a 4 ½-game lead for the Yanks.
Aaron Judge did hit home run No. 18 for New York.
--The Mets entered tonight’s game against the Phillies with an 8 ½-game lead over Atlanta, having beaten the Phils in the first two of the 3-game series, 8-6 and 8-2 to move to 31-17.
Buck Showalter’s crew is without aces Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer, and fans have seen the team have fast starts before, only to fade badly, but this team is different. It helps immensely that Francisco Lindor has clearly settled in, 37 RBIs, 36 runs scored. That’s a 100-100 pace for these two ultimate categories.
--Ah, those huge, weighty, multi-year contracts. They hardly ever seem to really pan out, Max Scherzer’s run in Washington an exception.
The Angels signed Anthony Rendon to a 7-year, $245 million contract after the 2019 season, one in which Rendon finished third in the NL MVP vote with Washington, 34 home runs, 126 RBIs, .319 BA, 1.010 OPS, the culmination of a great 4-year run.
But after an OK Covid-2020 season, it’s been nothing but crapola from Rendon and now he is out with a wrist injury.
Shohei Ohtani had to sit out Friday’s game as his back stiffened while pitching the day before; Ohtani taking the loss, 6-3 against Toronto, yielding five earned in six innings, 10 Ks, his record 3-3, 3.45.
The Angels have been struggling of late, losers of 7 of 10 entering Saturday’s contest.
Make that 8 of 11, now 27-21, after a 6-5 loss to the Blue Jays, despite 3 hits and the 13th home run for Mike Trout. Trout is back in a big way, .320 batting average, 1.095 OPS, 37 runs in 43 games.
But the Angels are getting very inconsistent pitching, including from the bullpen.
To wit, last season the Mets’ Aaron Loup had a stupendous year, the lefty reliever going 6-0, with a 0.95 ERA in 65 appearances.
Relievers, though, seldom repeat when it comes to year-to-year performance and the Mets didn’t want to give him more than a one-year deal.
So he signed with the Angels for 3 years, $22.5 million. Loup then started the season in fine fashion but has been atrocious his last four appearances and it’s costing the Angels dearly.
While Ohtani is having an off year at the plate thus far, 9 home runs, .747 OPS, he’ll come around and we have to get the Angels into the playoffs! Gosh darnit!
Well, I wrote the above prior to today’s game and Ohtani thus far has two home runs.
--The Dodgers were 32-14 after a 3-2 win, Saturday, over the Diamondbacks (23-25), and Mookie Betts continues on his MVP-caliber tear, leading off the game with his 11th homer of the month of May, 26 RBIs, .353 BA, 1.182 OPS.
On the season, Betts has slammed 14 homers and has scored a staggering 49 runs in 44 games. You know how much I love the runs scored category. This is very cool and something to watch the rest of the season. Stay healthy, Mookie!
As I noted in a quiz the other week, Babe Ruth has the modern-day mark with 177 (1921), while Jeff Bagwell is the last to have 150 (152 in 2000).
--Colorado inexplicably gave free agent Kris Bryant a 7-year, $182 million deal last March and the 30-year-old is on the IL for a second time with back issues. Hardly what you want to hear from a supposed power hitter.
Bryant has played 17 games for the Rockies, 63 at-bats, zero home runs. [Speaking of yet another weighty contract that will prove to be a disaster.]
--San Francisco manager Gabe Kapler told reporters on Friday that he doesn’t plan on taking the field for the national anthem “until I feel better about the direction of our country” and that he needs more time to consider specific actions he might suggest be taken to prevent more tragedies of this type, such as stronger gun control laws.
In a blog post, Kapler said:
“When I was the same age as the children in Uvalde, my father taught me to stand for the pledge of allegiance when I believed my country was representing its people well or to protest and stay seated when it wasn’t. I don’t believe it is representing us well right now,” Kapler wrote.
“…Every time I place my hand over my heart and remove my hat, I’m participating in a self congratulatory glorification of the ONLY country where these mass shootings take place. On Wednesday, I walked out onto the field, I listened to the announcement as we honored the victims in Uvalde. I bowed my head. I stood for the national anthem. Metallica riffed on City Connect guitars.”
Kapler said he wanted to make some sort of gesture, but said he was conscious that it could be misunderstood as an act meant to be offensive “to the military, to veterans, to themselves.”
Kapler said he felt like a coward, but “I didn’t want to take away from the victims or their families.
“…But I am not okay with the state of this country. I wish I hadn’t let my discomfort compromise my integrity. I wish that I could have demonstrated what I learned from my dad, that when you’re dissatisfied with your country, you let it be known through protest. The home of the brave should encourage this.”
Kapler told reporters: “I don’t’ plan on coming out for the anthem going forward until I feel better about the direction of our country. I don’t expect it to move the needle necessarily. It’s just something that I feel strongly enough about to take that step.”
--The Athletic’s Jason Lloyd attempted to count the number of baseballs used during a recent Guardians-Tigers game. Take a guess. We’ll be back after this comment on the family….
Kids, ever wonder why your parents leave the liquor cabinet open and go away for six days, knowing you are 17 and have a bunch of degenerate friends?
….the number of baseballs used in this particular game was 115.
The Athletic figured out that MLB goes through nearly $7 million worth of baseballs every regular season.
--There has been some crazy stuff in college baseball tournaments this weekend.
In the Pac-12, the final is No. 3 Stanford vs. No. 4 Oregon State (according to the last Coaches Poll). But this was after UCLA beat OSU 25-22 in a crazy game Saturday, the most combined runs in an NCAA Division I game this season. The last time an MLB game featured 47-plus runs was back in 1922, when the Cubs beat the Phillies 26-23, according to ESPN Stats.
UCLA was trailing 21-12 heading to the bottom of the ninth and scored nine to force extra innings.
But the Beavers beat the Bruins in the nightcap, 8-7, to move to the conference title game.
In the ACC, it has been a crazy season. Wake Forest for example, 40-17-1, 15-14-1, swept North Carolina State in its final regular season series last weekend, but No. 10 seed State made the semifinals of the ACC Tournament against 11 Pitt, marking the first time in Championship history that two teams seeded 10th or lower have met head-to-head. It was 8-seed North Carolina vs. 4-seed Notre Dame in the other semi.
And UNC beat NC State in the final, 9-5.
The NCAA Tournament field will be announced at noon, Monday, on ESPN2.
--Champions League Final
In an intense contest for the European Championship, the Game of the Year in all of football, Real Madrid got a single superb goal from Vinicius Jr. and then held off Liverpool, 1-0, thanks to what every single fan watching knows was a pure masterclass from Real goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois…what experts are calling “one of the great individual performances” of all time at the position to thwart Liverpool time and again.
The great Mohamed Salah was denied six times alone by Courtois.
Real coach Carlo Ancelotti made history by becoming the first coach to win a fourth Champions League title.
Consider that to get to the final, Real had to get by PSG, Chelsea and Man City in the knockout rounds.
For Liverpool it was a bitter final week to a season where they were dreaming of an unprecedented quadruple, having won the Carabao Cup and the FA Cup.
But last Sunday they lost the Premier League title to Man City by a single point, and then yesterday they ran into Courtois.
So the list of Champions League titles looks like this….
Real Madrid 14…four in the last seven years
AC Milan 7
Bayern Munich 6
But yesterday’s final took a back seat to the debacle and near disastrous scene outside the stadium as tens of thousands of Liverpool fans inexplicably were given a single gate to get through, when four to five were available. It was pure chaos.
Picture the vast majority of Liverpool fans were working-class folk paying $500 or so for a ticket, let alone transportation costs, and they couldn’t get in! So they panicked, some started jumping the fences, French police employed tear gas, which was totally uncalled for, the game was delayed 30 minutes, UEFA claiming the Liverpool fans were arriving late, a total crock of s---, and at the end of the game, for good reason the Liverpool players were furious.
Reds defender Andy Robertson said: “Obviously my tickets were through the club and somehow somebody told one of my mates that he’s got a fake ticket which I can assure you definitely wasn’t the case because it was obviously through me.
“So then obviously the French police decided to throw tear gas on fans and families. It’s not been well-organized.”
It was a big black eye for UEFA and Paris police, that’s what it was.
I have been to Paris many times and always take the train in from Charles de Gaulle Airport (taxis being outrageously expensive, and I can’t imagine what they are today).
But the train ride provides a great way to see the Paris neighborhoods, the arrondissements (districts). Most of them are pretty glum as you head into central Paris and with the people getting on and off at each station, you get a good idea of the area.
One thing you get to see, off in the distance, is the Stade de France, and I’m just picturing what a zoo it was for 80,000 fans invading the neighborhood. I wouldn’t want to be on the trains, for one, that day.
--In Premier League news, Chelsea said it had a final agreement to sell the club to a consortium led by Los Angeles Dodgers part-owner Todd Boehly and backed by Clearlake Capital.
Russian owner Roman Abramovich put the club up for sale in early March following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The club previously confirmed Abramovich would donate all proceeds from the sale, which would be placed in a frozen bank account, to charitable causes. “I am proud that as a result of our joint successes, millions of people will now benefit from the new charitable foundation which is being established,” Abramovich said in a statement published on Chelsea’s website.
Abramovich bought the club in 2003 and helped Chelsea become a dominant force in English football, leading them to five Premier League titles, five FA Cups and two Champions League trophies during his reign.
Say what you will about the guy, but the relationship between him and Chelsea and its fans worked out pretty well. As rabid fan Dr. W. tells me, they need some new juice, a new attitude, and most importantly, some new players.
--Tottenham fans can breathe a sigh of relief as manager Antonio Conte has decided to return for the upcoming 2022-23 season.
--I must say after watching the CL Final, I’m pumped for the World Cup, and the timing, Nov. 21-Dec. 18, should actually work out well. It’s going to be super exciting, at Christmastime. Because it’s in Dubai, the television times here will be good…lots of packed bars in the afternoon in the big cities, for sure.
Brazil fans must be thrilled to see their rising star, Vinicius Jr., perform on a big stage like he did, for one.
--As we entered the final round of the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, TX, Scottie Scheffler was on the verge of history….
Brendon Todd -9
Scott Stallings -9
Harold Varner III -8
Mito Pereira -6….good for him.
Scheffler was attempting to become just the fourth golfer since 1960 to post five wins in the year’s first five months. Arnold Palmer did it twice, with Johnny Miller and Tom Watson also pulling it off.
It would be the first five-win season on tour since Justin Thomas had that many in 2016-17.
And in the end, after a horrible stretch of golf, with absurd delays for rulings, Sam Burns came from 7 back to win in a playoff with Scheffler…Burns’ third win of the season, fourth of his career. Clearly the two best players in the game today.
--Pereira, despite his awful final moments last week at the PGA Championship, certainly showed me something this weekend. He finished T7 and is 25th in the FedEx Cup standings.
Almost shockingly, or not so much, Justin Thomas and Will Zalatoris, in the playoff for the PGA title, missed the cut, as did Abraham Ancer.
--The NCAA Men’s Golf Championship started on Friday and Wake Forest was seeded No. 15 out of 30 teams. You have to be in the top 15 then after the first three rounds to get to the final round of stroke play on Monday, and then the top eight move onto the match play format of the championship, starting Tuesday.
So us Demon Deacon fans were pretty optimistic, and then senior leader Alex Fitzpatrick, PGA Tour/Euro Tour golfer Matthew Fitzpatrick’s brother, couldn’t play because of a stomach ailment, and we were screwed
You have a five-man team and the other four were far from great, but fine, especially for the first round, but the kid who had to replace Fitzpatrick at the last minute, who will go nameless, shot an 83. He played in just three competitive rounds this entire season. That’s an unfair position to place him.
Four score for each team and Wake had 303 shots, sitting 27th after round one. Ugh.
It was assumed, however, that Fitzpatrick would be available for round two, Saturday, and he fired a 65! The team score was 285…18 shots better.
Wake moved from 27 to 19, just 3 shots back of the top 15. What would happen today?
Well, I have to move on, as the Deacs are playing holes 12-17, they are just a stroke inside the top 15.
More in the Add-on.
--Earlier this week, Stanford defeated Oregon for its second Women’s national championship.
As we entered play Sunday, No. 1-ranked Iga Swiatek was the only remaining top-10 seed on the women’s side.
18-year-old American Coco Gauff advanced to the quarterfinals today. Fellow Americans 11 Jessica Pegula and 22 Madison Keyes attempt to do the same tomorrow.
And then Sloane Stephens won her match and she’ll face Gauff in an all-American quarter.
Russian players, banned from Wimbledon, are playing here and 2-seed Daniil Medvedev is in the bracket opposite 1-seed Novak Djokovic, 5 Rafael Nadal, and 6 Carlos Alcaraz (the new hotshot from Spain).
Medvedev has his fourth-round match Monday. But today…
Djokovic and 3 Alexander Zverez advanced to the quarterfinals in straight sets.
And then Nadal did the same, beating 9 Felix Augur-Aliassime of Canada in five…3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3…Nadal having attended the Champions League final to root on his beloved Real Madrid.
And 19-year-old Alcaraz, maybe the next great, won his match in straight sets.
--In the Men’s NCAA Lacrosse Championship on Monday, it will be 1 Maryland vs. 7 Cornell.
In the semis, Cornell beat 6 Rutgers (in its first final four ever) 17-10, and Maryland took out 5 Princeton 13-8.
--The College Football Bowl schedule was released and all you need to know is that the semifinals are Sat. Dec. 31…the perfect New Year’s Eve…don’t bother me, and don’t ask me to go to a party…actually, I haven’t been to a New Year’s Eve party since like 1978…
--Rutgers had a big announcement this week. New York’s WFAN sports radio is going to broadcast their football and men’s basketball games. That’s a great deal for the Scarlet Knights.
[WFAN’s 101.9 FM station and the WCBS 880 affiliate.]
--The Las Vegas Raiders gave Colin Kaepernick a workout and after the team considered it “positive,” but they traded for former Patriots quarterback Jarrett Stidham and signed Nick Mullens so I don’t know why they’d even give him a tryout, but I’m not a Raider fan so we move on….
--We note the passing of the great actor Ray Liotta. If you’re in that profession and your career is defined by two roles and they happen to be in “Goodfellas” and “Field of Dreams,” that’s a helluva career.
Liotta died in his sleep in the Dominican Republic while filming the upcoming movie “Dangerous Waters.” At 67, he was in the midst of a career resurgence.
Liotta is a Jersey boy, born in Newark, an actor who had his breakthrough role in Martin Scorcese’s mob classic “Goodfellas” playing real-life criminal Henry Hill opposite Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci. Liotta was often featured in crime films, including the recent “Sopranos” prequel “The Many Saints of Newark.”
Adopted at 6 months from an orphanage by a township clerk and an auto parts owner, Liotta grew up in New Jersey playing sports, including baseball. During his senior year at Union High School (15 minutes from me), a drama teacher asked him whether he wanted to be in a play. He went on to study acting at the University of Miami, and after graduation, got his first break on the soap opera “Another World.”
You always had the impression that Liotta was just a good guy, director David Chase described him as “quiet,” and when he was inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame, the president of the association told him to get some A-lister to induct him. Ray insisted his childhood friend, Gene Laguna, who he played baseball with, be the one.
Liotta scored a Global Globe nomination for playing Melanie Griffith’s violent ex-con spouse in Jonathan Demme’s 1986 action romance “Something Wild.” In 1989’s “Field of Dreams,” he portrayed “Shoeless Joe” Jackson, a member of the infamous 1919 Chicago White Sox team who shows up as a ghost in the cornfield of an Iowa farmer (Kevin Costner).
Then came “Goodfellas,” easily in my top five all time.
Top 3 songs for the week 5/31/80: #1 “Funkytown” (Lipps Inc.) #2 “Call Me” (Blondie) #3 “Coming Up (Live at Glasgow)” (Paul McCartney & Wings)…and…#4 “Don’t Fall In Love With A Dreamer” (Kenny Rogers with Kim Carnes) #5 “Sexy Eyes” (Dr. Hook) #6 “Biggest Part Of Me” (Ambrosia…bad/good memories of this one…) #7 “Stomp!” (The Brothers Johnson…not bad…) #8 “Hurt So Bad” (Linda Ronstadt) #9 “Against The Wind” (Bob Seger) #10 “Cars” (Gary Numan…’C-’ week…)
Los Angeles Dodgers Quiz Answer: The ten Dodgers’ aside from Gil Hodges to have their uniform number retired.
1 – Pee Wee Reese
2 – Tommy Lasorda
4 – Duke Snider
19 – Jim Gilliam
20 – Don Sutton
24 – Walter Alston
32 – Sandy Koufax
39 – Roy Campanella
42 – Jackie Robinson
53 – Don Drysdale
Very brief Add-on up top by noon, Wed.