Speed Read: Lakers Crush Magic, TV Execs Hearts

That sound you heard in New York last night were league officials and ABC executives quietly weeping into their gin and tonics while watching Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Because what they were watching was the one thing they didn’t need: a Los Angeles Lakers blowout. For the casual fan, the 100-75 drubbing of the Orlando Magic just confirmed what they already knew, that this series is a letdown after the hype of Kobe Bryant vs. LeBron James, and the Lakers are going to crush the upstart Magic.

Kobe Bryant

Sure, it was close…for a little over a quarter. The Magic did have a five-point lead early in the second quarter, and then the roof collapsed. This is what happens when a team that relies on three-point shooting has a sub-par shooting game (going 8-for-23 from beyond the arc). Without having to fear the Magic from the outside, the Lakers could double and triple-team Dwight Howard, a form of kryptonite that even Superman couldn’t overcome, going 1-for-6 and scoring just 12 points.

Dwight Howard

So while Howard struggled, Kobe was superb, scoring 40 points while coming close to a triple-double. He had 12 points in the second quarter as the Lakers established their dominance, and was able to create opportunities for Pau Gasol and the rest of his supporting cast. And with Phil Jackson being 43-0 in series where his team wins the opening game, Magic coach Stan Van Gundy has to be sweating through his Men’s Wearhouse coat.

But if the Magic need any inspiration, they only need to look to the Stanley Cup (assuming they get Versus in central Florida). Facing a 2-0 deficit against the defending champion Detroit Red Wings, the Pittsburgh Penguins have rallied to tie the series after a 4-2 win in Game 4. Which is especially impressive since they managed to turn an early lead into a 2-1 hole in the second period, which could have easily crippled a lesser team.

Pittsburgh Penguins

And in what can only be seen as a good sign for the Penguins, Sidney Crosby had his first goal of the series, while Evgeni Malkin added a goal and an assist. So now we basically have a best-of-three series starting tomorrow night in Detroit. While the Red Wings are still probably going to win the series, at least the Penguins have made it interesting.

Randy Johnson

Finally, let’s tip our hat to Randy Johnson, who became the first pitcher since Tom Seaver in 1985 to get his 300th victory in his first attempt thanks to the Giants’ 5-1 victory over the Nationals. Thank you for sparing us of the daily update on the ESPN crawl and live game updates ruining our PBA Tour broadcasts on Wednesday nights on ESPN2. The Giants are planning a pregame celebration before their next home game to congratulate Johnson on his 300 career wins - all four of them with San Francisco.

  • The French Open women’s singles final is set, with Dinara Safina and Svetlana Kuznetsova taking each other on in an all-Russian final. In terms of eye candy, this isn’t exactly the Maria Sharapova vs. Ana Ivanovic Australian Open final from last year.
  • Dinara Safina and Svetlana Kuznetsova

  • Calvin Borel isn’t just confident that he’s going to win the Belmont Stakes on Mine That Bird to win the jockey Triple Crown, he’s guaranteeing it. (At least that’s what we think he said with molasses-thick drawl.) If he does pull this off, does this mean he gets put out to stud?
  • LeBron, here’s your slap on the wrist: the NBA fines King James $25,000 for bailing on the post-game press conference after the Cavs’ Game 6 loss to the Magic in the Eastern Conference finals. Plus, you made David Stern cry. How does that feel, LeBron.
  • You want Dontrelle Willis to succeed in his comeback with the Tigers, but then something like this happens: in 2-1/3 innings against the Red Sox yesterday, Willis gave up five runs without allowing a hit, walking five and hitting a batter.
  • Just when you thought that it couldn’t get worse for the New York Mets than getting swept by the Pirates, it also turns out that Jose Reyes has a torn hamstring.
  • John Raines, a substitute teacher and athletic trainer at Sussex Central High in Delaware, has been arrested and charged with “inappropriately touching a student-athlete while treating her injury and threatening to prevent her from playing her sport when she tried to stop his advances.” Which is bad enough, but even worse when considering he’s the second faculty member arrested on sex crimes in the past two days and the third within a year.
  • Spencer Cruise, an all-state high school football player in Iowa, allegedly bodyslammed a cop who was busting up a party and then Tasered him with his own weapon.
  • Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson has selected ESPN’s Chris Berman to introduce him before his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and PRO FOOTBALL TALK wonders if that’s such a great idea. (Seriously, was Jim Kelly busy?)
  • Former Tulsa football player Neal Sweeney apparently got into a business dispute with the wrong person, as it ended up with him being shot dead at his fuel sales company. Police have arrested the person they believe is the triggerman, and hope this leads to further breaks in the case.
  • Maurice Neal, a linebacker for the Utah Utes, has been arrested in connection with a bar fight where he took out two men. Shouldn’t Utah be the last place that a bar fight should be happening?

Who is going to be the next 300 game winner in baseball?

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Insane Horse Destroys Famous Statue At Belmont

They say no one cares about horse racing outside of the Triple Crown. Well, one of racing’s most famous courses, a famous statue of the most famous horse, and a horse that completely lost his mind led to a tragic day, with the loss of a horse and the destruction of one of racing’s icons.

Secretariat

City On Line freaked out during the post parade at Belmont Park yesterday and bolted off the track to the paddock, where he smashed into a bronze statue of Secretariat. The horse and the statue both collapsed, and City On Line had to be euthanized on the spot. That statue isn’t anywhere near the track; this was premeditated horsey suicide.

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Big Brown’s Trainer Throws Jockey Under Horse

Rick Dutrow, Jr., trainer of Big Brown and known sufferer of Verbal Diarrhea Disorder (VDD), took his last opportunity in the limelight before horse racing gets tossed back into the media hamper for another nine months to blame someone else for Big Brown’s lost Triple Crown package delivery Saturday.

Rick Dutrow, Jr.

Since the owners pay his salary and the tracks let him train and could offer him paydays down the road, he lashed out at the only safe target: the jockey. Jockey Kent Desormeaux pulled Big Brown up to avoid hurting the horse after finding no final kick in the beast. After the race, Desormeaux said, “I had no horse. He was empty.”

Dutrow’s response? “I don’t see the horse with a problem, so I have to direct my attention toward the ride. That’s all I can come up with.”

We’ll take “the horse didn’t work out for three weeks before the longest race of its life” for $100,000, Alex.

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Hooters Gals Unwanted in Belmont Winners Circle

Just because their corporate logo is on Belmont’s biggest star, that doesn’t mean the Hooters Girls will be welcome in the winner’s circle.

SbB Hooters Girls Hillary Vanessa Misty Kim

Not in these clothes, anyway.

The NEW YORK DAILY NEWS gallops along word that the tight tank tops & short orange shorts fashioned by the restaurant’s waitresses would not be considered “proper attire” for Belmont Park. The reaction comes from Hooters’ earlier claim that the Girls will be there in full uniform ready to celebrate if Big Brown clinches the Triple Crown.

But the buxom babes aren’t banned outright - they just need to change their clothes. [And we’ll be happy to assist ;)] Read more…

Trainer: ‘Assassination’ Over Big Brown Blockage?

Rick Dutrow, Jr. has had a hard life. Nearly all his struggles in life, he’ll tell you, came from himself. The son of a successful horse trainer, he grew up to be a high school dropout, drug addict, and ne’er-do-well living in one of the barns at Aqueduct as recently as a decade ago. His girlfriend (and fellow addict) had been murdered in a robbery, leaving him with their young child.

Big Brown with his jolly red

Now he’s known as a wildly successful horse trainer, guiding Big Brown to the Belmont Stakes with the chance to secure the first Triple Crown in what seems like umpteen years. He’s independently wealthy and has come to relish the fame that comes from being on top again.

The hard livin’ man never fully left the savvy professional, though. That’s why we get colorful stories about him laying $100,000 of his own money on Big Brown in the Belmont and his recent comment that no one would dare intentionally block Big Brown from winning the Triple Crown because “… if someone did something like that they might get assassinated after the race.”

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