5:45 PM NASCAR driver Kurt Busch has accepted an invite to compete in the 2014 Race of Champions in Barbados in December. Earlier this year Busch competed in the Indianapolis 500 & the Coca Cola 600 in Charlotte on the same day.
Quick note from the world of politics: Sonia Sotomayor, she of the Maurice Clarett decision and the influence in ending the baseball strike, is facing her confirmation hearings today. Whether you approve of her nomination A) depends on your political partisanship, and B) is completely irrelevant. Sorry, we don’t care what you think about her viability as a Supreme Court Justice. That’s not what we’re here to talk about.
(She’s not even wearing umpire’s gear! Reject her at once!)
What we do want to discuss, though, is the pervasive inanity of the senators on the Judiciary Committee when it comes to her hearings. Democrat or Republican, it makes no difference: hamfisted sports references are as bipartisan as they are abundant today. Get ready for some total head-scratchers and reminders that nobody debases politics as effectively as the politicians themselves.
I guess it just wouldn’t be a Magic-Cavs game in Cleveland if the home team didn’t blow a 20-point first half lead. And not only did their early 34-12 lead vanish, it went away nearly as quickly as it came about. By the time the Magic had finished scoring the first nine points of the second half, they had a 64-56 lead and it looked like Nike was going to have to commission a Hedo Turkoglu puppet.
(The most impressive part is that LeBron literally carried Wally for the entire second half)
(Don’t worry Orlando, you still have this very calm, collected man running your team)
ABC counter-programmed against the NBA game with the gripping finals of the National Spelling Bee. Fortunately, they had the good sense this year to keep Mike and Mike away from it, instead going to “Dancing with the Stars” host Tom Bergeron, who was joined during the proceedings by Brooks‘ favorite gymnast, Shawn Johnson. The winner was Kayva Shavishankar of Olathe, Kansas, who got bonus points for having a name that was harder to spell than any of the words on the championship list. She spelled “laodicean” right to win the title, taking home the big trophy and $40,000, which will pay for nearly one year of college. This article says she’s a “budding neurosurgeon,” which leads me to believe that she’s actually already done brain surgery. Props to her if that’s the case. The favorite, Sidharth Chand, flubbed “apodyterium” and finished fourth, joining the 292 other spellers who have ultimately just wasted a whole lot of time studying for this. Anyway, this is all just an excuse to post the video of that one girl screaming the last word back in the ’90s again:
• The BOSTON HERALD says that Terry Francona got so upset about getting ejected from yesterday’s Red Sox-Twins game that he received medical attention in the clubhouse afterward for elevated blood pressure. Tito’s only 50 years old, but has been a walking heart attack waiting to happen for several years. Let’s hope he lives to see David Ortiz go deep again.
• Here’s your Stanley Cup preview from USA TODAY. This is the first rematch since the Islanders and Oilers played back-to-back Cup finals in 1983 and 1984. The Isles won in ‘83 (their fourth title in a row) but the Oilers unseated the champs the next year. That means it’s now been 25 years since Gretzky and Messier won their first cup. And what a scene it was when it happened (fans with goofy signs were on the ice before the game ended. They’d be tasered these days):
• Speaking of the Stanley Cup, the first two games will be played on consecutive nights this weekend, the first time since 1955 that Cup games have been played two days in a row. And why? No, it’s not Yanni’s fault this time. It’s actually Conan O’Brien’s fault. DEADSPIN says that NBC wouldn’t air weeknight games because if they go into overtime, they could’ve pre-empted one of O’Brien’s first shows as host of the “Tonight Show.” The finals weren’t orginially supposed to start for another week, by which time the world would’ve forgotten about hockey altogether.
• The World Series of Poker got underway yesterday with a special 40th-anniversary hold ‘em tournament. The buy-in: $40,000. About half of the field of 201 has hit the rail, and this special tourney (a who’s who of pro players) will conclude on Sunday. The $10,000 main event doesn’t start until early July. For now, here’s a picture of Phil Ivey getting an arm massage as he casually leaves a giant wad of $100s just sitting on the floor:
• Could Joe Torre have a bigger horseshoe up his butt? Manny gets suspended for 50 games, and somehow Juan Pierre turns into Ty Cobb (uh, except for the racist part). Pierre, who is widely known to be one of the worst offensive players this decade (stealing bases doesn’t make you good), is hitting .440 since becoming the starting left fielder for the Dodgers. L.A. won again last night, 2-1 over the Cubs in Chicago.
• I have to admit that I never thought I’d see the day when John Salley and Patti Blagojevich would be interviewed together, but GOOD DAY L.A. had them yesterday morning as they promoted their new TV show about getting stranded in the jungle. And YOU BEEN BLINDED has the video, which includes Steve Edwards asking the married Salley about his “girlfriends,” which didn’t amuse John at all. Salley also defends Patti by calling our country “communist.” Good times all around.
• Now that Shea Stadium has been blow’d up, Tom Glavine has decided it’s safe to pitch again. He threw five scoreless innings in a AAA rehab start last night, and may pitch for the Braves next week. Still, expect something to “flare up” if Glavine’s turn in the rotation comes up when the Braves are in New York.
The choice of Sonia Sotomayor by President Obama as our next Supreme Court justice was not unexpected, to be sure, but there may be a few Red Sox fans cursing into their corn flakes this morning. Sotomayer, you see, is a Yankees fan; somewhat unavoidable if you grow up in the Bronx.
This was a wise choice by Obama, because Sotomayor has appeal in both the north and south. In addition to being a Yankees fan, she has earned affinity from Atlanta Braves fans after her injunction against owners in 1995 from Federal District Court that effectively ended the baseball strike of the previous year. The Braves went on to win the World Series that season (my choice to fill the Supreme Court vacancy, Greg Maddux, was virtually ignored). Read more…
The leader in the clubhouse is Sonia Sotomayor, a member of the U.S. Court of Appeals in the Second Circuit, has already changed the course of American sports multiple times. She shut down the union-busting attempt by MLB in 1995, ending the 1994 baseball strike. She also stood up for the NFL’s age limit against Maurice Clarett a decade later.
However, she’s not the only speculative shortlister with an effect on recent sports history: