I have not left my house today. However, that’s not to say it has been boring.
Far from it.
There has been so much going on in the world of sports, more than usually happens on a Monday, especially during the summer. It’s expected in the fall, since there’s a Monday Night Football game, the highlights of Sunday’s NFL games run non-stop on ESPN and NFL Network, and many college coaches hold their weekly press conferences on Monday, including LSU’s Les Miles.
Bud Black became the third National League manager to lose his jpob when he was axed by the San Diego Padres at 2 p.m. (noon in San Diego). The Padres were expected to contend in the NL West despite the presence of the World Series champion Giants and the Dodgers having the game’s best pitcher, Clayton Kershaw, plus a star-studded lineup, but the Swinging Friars are one game below .500, and the only reason they’re in third place is because the Diamondbacks and Rockies are pathetic, although not as poor as the Phillies and Brewers.
Milwaukee was the first team to fire its manager this season when it sacked Ron Roenicke May 3. The Brewers were 7-25 at the time, and they are still struggling at 24-41 following tonight’s loss to the Royals.
Two weeks following Roenicke’s dismissal, the Marlins canned Mike Redmond only minutes after Miami came within one out of being no-hit by Atlanta’s Shelby Miller at Marlins Park. The Marlins were expected to give the Nationals a run for their money in the NL East this year, but right now, the only thing keeping the fish out of the cellar are the woeful Phillies.
Not long after Black lost his job, Vanderbilt completed a stunning comeback in the College World Series, scoring three runs in the bottom of the ninth to down Cal State Fullerton 4-3.
The game game began last night, and the Comoodores had no answer whatsoever for Titan ace pitcher Thomas Eshelman. Fullerton went ahead 3-0 in the fifth, but in the bottom of the sixth, the heavens over Omaha opened up and rained down hard enough that Noah would have needed his ark. The NCAA declared the field unplayable and ordered the game suspended until 11 a.m. today.
Only the game didn’t start at 11 a.m. The NCAA was forced to backtrack when the rain kept coming, and the start time was pushed back three hours.
Reigning national champion Vanderbilt scored in the bottom of the sixth when the game resumed, but the Titan bullpen shut down the Commodores in the seventh and eighth.
Zander Wiel, who doubled home Vandy’s run in the sixth, started the ninth with a double. Two batters later, Bryan Reynolds singled him home and the ‘Dores were within one.
Vandy’s next batter was freshman Jeren Kendall, a left-handed hitter.. Fullerton had left-handed relief ace Tyler Peitzmeier on the mound. Peitzmeier came into the CWS having limited left-handed batters to a .208 batting average this season.
So what does Kendall do? He jerks a full-count fastball into the Titan bullpen in right field. Game over. Vandy into the winner’s bracket to face TCU, Fullerton to play LSU in the second loser-leaves-town matchup.
If the Bayou Bengals fail tomorrow, the SEC will be down to two, both from the East, Florida and Vandy. Arkansas lost 4-3 to Miami to bow out 0-2. Right now, Virginia and Florida are locked in a 0-0 battle in the bottom of the sixth. It’s after midnight in Charlottesville and Gainesville, so I wonder how many people are still watching.
The Stanley Cup will not be returning to Florida. PRAISE JESUS.
The Blackhawks wrapped it up tonight in Chicago, blanking the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-0. It’s Chicago’s third Cup in six years after not winning it for 47 consecutive seasons from 1961-62 through 2008-09. The Blackhawks also clinched the Cup at home for the first time since 1938. They won it on the road in 1961, 2010 and 2013.
I’m still seething over 2004, when the Calgary Flames gagged away a 3-2 lead and lost in seven to the Lightning. Calgary lost game six at home when Martin St. Louis scored for Tampa 33 seconds into overtime, and of course, the Flames’ goose was cooked back in Florida two nights later.
Even worse than the Lightning winning it, they got to keep the Cup an extra year, thanks to the lockout which wiped out the entire 2004-05 season. And then it got stupid when the Carolina Hurricanes won the Cup in 2006 over the Edmonton Oilers. I still wonder how many people in Raleigh-Durham can name all 30 NHL teams. Probably not many.
The Women’s World Cup featured four matches from Canada today. The host nation choked away what looked like a sure victory vs. the Netherlands when the Dutch scored in the 87th minute to forge a 1-1 draw. The Netherlands are a superpower in men’s association football, but the women’s program lacks far, far behind.
That’s not uncommon for one gender to have a strong association football team and for the other to be lagging. The men are far ahead of the women in England, Italy and Spain in addition to the Netherlands, while the United States, Canada, China and Japan are the opposite.
The are only two countries where the men and women are on equally strong footing.
The most obvious is Germany. Deutschland won the Women’s World Cup in 2007, it has won the men’s Cup four times (including 2014), and I would bet my bottom dollar it will beat the United States if and when the countries meet.
The other country with futbol equality is Brazil. It lost the 2007 women’s final to Germany, and it still has one fo the strongest men’s squads, the implosion at the end of the 2014 World Cup notwithstanding.
Virginia has broken the scoreless tie with Florida in the bottom of the sixth. The Gators have not been behind very much during the NCAA tournament, but the way they’ve swung the bats, it’s next to nothing.
Have a good night and pleasant tomorrow.
The Kansas City Royals are going to the World Series for the first time since 1985. I don’t know if that has sunk in for a lot of people, particularly in Kansas City, where I’m sure tens of thousands have a massive hangover this morning.
The Royals completed their four-game sweep of the Orioles in the American League Championship Series with a 2-1 victory yesterday afternoon at Kauffman Stadium. It’s the first time the Royals have ever swept a best-of-seven postseason series, and the first time the Orioles have ever been swept in any postseason affair, whether it be best-of-five or best-of-seven.
Today marks the 29th anniversary of the Royals clinching the 1985 ALCS in Toronto. Kansas City lost the first two games of that series in Canada and were down 3-1, but Dick Howser’s crew won game five at home thanks to Charlie Leibrandt’s shutout, then went back to Toronto’s frigid Exhibition Stadium and won the last two games.
As for the 2014 Royals, Tuesday was a very special anniversary for first base coach Rusty Kuntz.
October 14, 1984 was the day the Detroit Tigers clinched the World Series by defeating the San Diego Padres in game five. Kuntz was a reserve outfielder on that powerful Tigers team, which household names Lance Parrish, Darrell Evans, Lou Whitaker, Alan Trammell, Chet Lemon and Kirk Gibson in the everyday lineup, plus a mighty pitching staff led by ace Jack Morris and shutdown closer Willie Hernandez, who came over from Philadelphia and won the 1984 American League Cy Young and Most Valuable Player awards.
I remember that 1984 Tigers team well. I recall Jack Morris throwing a no-hitter on the first Sautrday of April vs. the White Sox at old Comiskey Park. I remember the 35-5 start Detroit enjoyed and the fact they were never seriously threatened. The Tigers easily swept the Royals in three straight in the ALCS, then had little trouble with the Padres in the World Series. Had it not been for a three-run pinch hit home run by San Diego’s Kurt Bevacqua in game two, Detroit would have swept the Padres.
In the clinching game of the Series, San Diego trailed 5-4 in the bottom of the eighth when Gibson came to the plate with two on and two out. Padres manager Dick Williams ordered one of the great relievers of all-time, Goose Gossage, to intentionally walk Gibson. Gossgae told Williams no, that he wanted to pitch to Gibson.
Big mistake. Gibson crushed a Gossage fastball deep into the right field upper deck, and the TIgers had their first Series championship since 1968.
Unfortunately, Detroit fans did not know how to react to their first championship in 16 years. In the worst rioting in the Motor City since the 1967 civil rights riots, tens of millions of dollars of damage was undertaken by a bunch of thugs.