Category Archives: Sports

Don’t Give up the Fight

We’ve seen them come from behind time and time again. Most recently, Andre Ethier was the culprit, creating a mob at home plate. Thursday evening, Ethier hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth off Atlanta closer Rafael Soriano.

It was his league-leading fifth walkoff hit of the season. It was the team’s 11th walkoff win and 29th come-from-behind victory. It was a win that allowed the Dodgers to hang onto their league-best record.

“We really have been anything but consistent in the last week of so, but the thing that’s been satisfying to me is that these guys go out there and bust it every night,” said manager Joe Torre, whose team was facing their eight loss in 12 games before Ethier’s dramatics.

Well, Joe, the boys have finally lost the top spot – a position they’ve appreciated since the beginning of the season. Continue reading

Lamar? Oh, Dumb of Me

He creates mismatches on the floor. He is deceptively long. He can rebound. He can shoot. He is unselfish. He will help bring the Lakers to the Promised Land yet again. So why did it take so long for the Lakers organization to sign Lamar Odom?

Many factors were at play here. Odom demanded a pay raise. The Lakers paid about $70 million in payroll last season. By signing Odom, they would be looking at about $90 million, $110 or so million with taxes. Despite signing a new radio deal with ESPN, receiving some bonuses for hosting several postseason contests and increased revenue sharing due to inflated merchandise sales and a league-wide TV deal, Lakers Owner Jerry Buss would likely be writing a check from his personal account on this one.

Continue reading

6 Man

To my knowledge, Elvis Presley was not the best athlete. I’d seen him in a few surfing movies and perhaps substituting an ill toredor in one of his later films. Still, I don’t remember him having the ability to jump, block and spike like this. Ferocious. And when the chips were down, when his team was facing elimination, he wasn’t “all shook up.” Something’s going on here.

6 Man, a glorious blend of Halloween, Mardi gras, debauchery and sport, is a volleyball tournament held in Manhattan Beach during the first weekend in August. People wear insane costumes, create themed rituals, play a little volleyball, and of course, drink. Yes, drink.

There is some agreement with the volleyball tour and the municipalities allowing the “dry beach” rules to be stretched a bit. I tried to make my way to the organizer’s table and ask a few questions, perhaps even make a few toasts, but I had trouble seeing ten feet in front of me. Continue reading

LA Galaxy – Beck Back in Orbit

They’re no Dodgers. He’s no Manny. However, one can make the comparison. Powerhouse players, notable absences, timely return, teams on the rise.

David Beckham returned to the Home Depot Center Sunday to help his (new) team, the LA Galaxy overcome his (old )team, AC Milan.

Beckham signed with the Galaxy two seasons ago but has been playing with the Italian team for the past few months per contract agreement. Galaxy personnel made similar concessions with Real Madrid in 2007, Beck’s first season with the Galaxy. Last year, Beckham completed his first full MLS season, finishing with 10 assists and five goals in 25 games.

The recent “loan” has expired and Beckham, who has commented on the discrepancy of skill (said he’d rather play in Europe as competition there is greater), returns to a surging Galaxy. Thus far, his second half return to the MLS has been a good one. Continue reading

Elementary, My Dear Watson

I had decided yesterday to use this headline regardless of the result in the history-making run by Tom Watson at becoming, among other things, the oldest golfer ever to win a major championship.  The famous Sherlock Holmes quote was first used to describe Watson’s amazing skill on the links en route to claiming his first British Open Championship by the brilliant English broadcast commentator Peter Arliss.  Arliss employed a unique vocabulary for his profession quite artfully.  Back when I was a “weekend duffer”, my friends and I would take turns imitating him ─ after each of our respective shots ─ as we played our pathetically inept rounds of golf:  “Oh, that is a bold undertaking indeed.  He takes a full rip at it with a driver, right into the teeth of the wind!  That’s a treacherous little putt he has left…” and so on.  We had a lot of fun, in a juvenile way, with our British accents nearly as bad as our games.

For people in their late-thirties and, particularly past forty, athletic prowess has rarely been world-class competitive.  Especially with indisputable proof of being free of performance enhancing drugs.  The body gives out, not all at once but imperceptibly slowly to most.  This is, of course, not true of professional athletes whose performance and statistics are under microscopic scrutiny at all times. Continue reading

Man-o-Man – Manny and Company With Another Comeback

Manny Ramirez is back! Oh, you’ve known about this. I wasn’t so sure myself until Friday night. Manny hit a two-run shot in the sixth, his 536th overall, good enough to tie Mickey Mantle for 15th on the all-time list. Impressive.

 

But it was not as impressive as the Dodgers’ team offense. In their series opener against the Milwaukee Brewers, the Dodgers hit five homeruns; one from Manny, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, James Loney and Russell Martin. With the 12-8 victory, the Dodgers bring their record to 55-31. 

 

The offensive showcase puts the Dodgers at 11th in the NL in homeruns. A romantic thought, but if the Dodgers played their remaining 81 games in Miller Park, they’d likely finish higher. Manny’s presence will do just fine and Dodgers fans should expect to see more long balls in the second half of play. Continue reading

Hot Dodger Dog! Los Angeles Fans Have Plenty to Smile About

The Dodgers have another half dozen games on the road before getting a run on their home sod. However, several members of the Dodgers clubhouse will play an additional game before heading back to the West Coast. They will be making their way to St. Louis for the 80th All-Star Game on July 14.

In an announcement made Sunday, pitchers Chad Billingsley and Jonathan Broxton and second baseman Orlando Hudson have been selected to this year’s National League roster. The trio will join Dodgers Manager Joe Torre, the coach for the NL squad. Teams are selected by players, managers and coaches from across the league.

Billingsley ranks among league leaders in wins, ERA, innings pitched, strikeouts and lowest opponents batting average, as he did last season. Broxton is currently 6-0 with a 2.72 ERA and 65 strikeouts in 39 innings. He leads the league in lowest opposing batting average for a reliever (.132). He is 20-for-22 in save opportunities, including 9-for-9 at home. Although he is in a 0-of-22 hitting slump, Hudson already has 41 RBIs, matching his season total for last year. Perhaps the honor will fuel him past this difficult time.

One more Dodger may be added to the NL squad. Continue reading

Age Before Beauty – Lakers say Goodbye to Ariza, Hello to Artest

Much to the dismay of Los Angeles Times sports columnist Bill Plaschke, former Houston Rocket and Kobe Bryant’s true rival, Ron Artest is now a Laker. Likewise, Trevor Ariza is finally saying goodbye to sunny California and headed to Houston. Forward for forward. Is it that easy, Bill?

“They just won a title that would not have been possible without the strong defense and stunning shooting of a 24-year-old kid with a limitless ceiling.” Plaschke wrote. “Yet they send the kid packing for an aging nut whose greatest hits have occurred on the heads of fans.”

An aging nut who just might help the Lakers two-peat. Kobe yearns to have a fistful of rings. Artest – who as fans all remember knows a thing or two about heavy fists – is still hungry for his first.

“I am very excited to finally be going to L.A.,” Artest said in a statement. “For years now, the Lakers have expressed interest in having me play for them, but we could never get the stars to align. I’m finally a Laker and I can’t wait to get on the court with Kobe, Pau (Gasol) and the rest of the team, and play for Phil (Jackson).”

Most coaches would quiver at the idea of a personality like Artest joining the roster. Lakers Coach Phil Jackson (returning for the 2009-10 season) is skilled enough to coach around it. Continue reading

A Basketball Decision – Familiar Faces and Free Agent Races

Clippers Owner Donald T. Sterling resisted a trade with Memphis on draft day. Sterling said a trade would only be made if it were a “basketball decision.”

Good morrow, Zach Randolph. The Clips need Blake Griffin, the first pick overall in last Thursday’s draft to put some minutes under his belt. Yes, trading you for Quentin Richardson was a steal. But if it weren’t you, it would have been Mr. Chris Kaman, leaving the Clips with an aging (35 years old) and injury prone Marcus Camby. If it weren’t Kaman, it would have been Mr. Camby, leaving the Clips with an undependable Kaman, something they’ve tried before, unsuccessfully.

Although Griffin will receive a crash course in the big leagues, the Clips can now run a little more. Randolph was a half-court player. Griffin is quick and strong; he loves to cut.

Clippers fans may be a little perturbed by the move. Randolph was a premier player (averaged 20.9 points a game in his short tenure with the Clippers.) However, Clippers Head Coach Mike Dunleavy will no longer have to worry about Randolph growing upset over splitting minutes with a budding player. Continue reading

Griffin to Emerge, Sooner or Later

Shaquille O’Neal. Allen Iverson. Tim Duncan. Yao Ming. Lebron James. Dwight Howard. Derrick Rose.

The NBA has seen its share of No. 1 draft picks who reach a level of greatness. The spot has also sprung disappointment.

Michael Olowokandi. Kwame Brown. Andrew Bogut.

Oh, Michael Olowokandi. You’ve done your part for the Clippers “Dream Team.” Danny Ferry. Chris Wilcox. Keyon Dooling. Shaun Livingston. The list of Clippers’ busts somehow overshadows the list of NBA busts. A paradox, I know.

But from 1999 to 2004, the Clips have made nine lottery selections. In theory (more like wishful thinking of Clippers fans) these picks could have formed the backbone of a super team. Even if the organization hit on just half of these selections they would have assembled a formidable starting lineup. Keep dreaming. This is an organization that selected “sure-thing” Lorenzen Wright over the “young” Kobe Bryant.

But maybe, just maybe, the Clippers will see things turn around. Blake Griffin, the Clippers first selection and the No. 1 pick overall in Thursday’s NBA Draft is already making a splash. Continue reading