Speed Read: Should We Want A Freeway Series?

I guess with all the trade deadline rumors about deals that did or didn’t happen, it’s kind of easy to overlook the most important thing in baseball: the standings. Because the story no one seems to be talking about is the fact that the best records in each league belong to teams in Southern California, setting up a real possibility of the first-ever Freeway Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the…let’s just call them the Angels.

Matt Kemp

Both teams looked the part of World Series contenders on Sunday. In Atlanta, the Dodgers used a three-run homer by Matt Kemp to pound the Braves 9-1; meanwhile, the Angels hammered the Twins 13-4 to complete a three-game road sweep where they scored 35 runs. And while not everything is 100 percent for either team (Chad Billingsley left his start early with cramps during the Dodgers’ win, while Vladimir Guerrero suddenly turned 150 years old this season for the Angels), there’s at least a strong possibility of an all-LA (kinda, sorta) World Series.

Mike Napoli

And as a baseball fan living in Los Angeles, here’s my feeling on this: I hope to God this doesn’t happen. The first reason is selfish: I have to drive past Dodger Stadium every day for work - it’s almost impossible for a Tuesday night game against Florida, so I can’t imagine what a World Series game against the Angels would be like. A 30-minute commute turning into a two-hour nightmare? No thanks.

But more importantly, I’d have to hear weeks of coverage about the series as if it’s a real, heated rivalry. Which would make my head explode, because it just isn’t. This isn’t Red Sox vs. Yankees, with real, palpable hatred. Or even Yankees vs. Mets or Cubs vs. White Sox, both of which are city rivalries with loads of class, race and societal baggage (in that who you root for speaks volumes about who you are and where you came from).

Dodgers vs. Angels has none of this. People root for one or the other based on which ballpark was closer to them growing up. (Fortunately, the area that is equidistant from Dodger Stadium and Angel Stadium is the mini-mall and warehouse-filled patch of nothingness called Norwalk.) If Dodger fans think about the Angels at all, it’s with a dismissive chuckle. Meanwhile, Angels fans will quickly point out who has the last World Series title while secretly grimacing at the whole “Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim” fiasco.

So in summary: just because Chan-Ho Park karate-kicked Tim Belcher 8,000 years ago, this isn’t a heated rivalry, and a Freeway Series won’t change that. Now a Lakers vs. Clippers Western Conference final…

Melky Cabrera

After having sex with a porn star, the closest most people get to a “cycle” is starting the next round of penicillin in hopes that their genitals go back to normal. But apparently Melky Cabrera defied the odds and got a decidedly more wholesome cycle, in this case becoming the first Yankee in 14 years to hit for the cycle in their 8-5 win over the Chicago White Sox. (Although I can’t comment one way or the other about his need for penicillin, but if he did sleep with former California gubernatorial candidate/drunk/professional sex object Mary Carey, it’s a small miracle if he didn’t catch something.)

Finally, an update on a couple of noted sports underachievers: Michael Phelps only managed to win five gold medals at the World Championships, adding his final one on Sunday by anchoring the Americans’ record-setting 400-meter medley relay team; and Tiger Woods won just his fourth tournament of the season by winning (probably last-ever playing of) the Buick Open by three shots. If only those two could maximize their potential, they might really make something of themselves.

  • Does anyone understand why the Chiefs’ mascot is a wolf? And one that has trouble clearing small fences, as photos tracked down by ARROWHEAD PRIDE from training camp seem to indicate.
  • FANTASY FORECAST breaks down eight different types of people found at every fantasy football league draft. Although I think they left off Guy Who Gets So Drunk He’s Picking “Poopy Fartpants” by Round 6.
  • If you’re a big NFL fan near Troy, NY tonight, you might want to check out some minor-league baseball as the Tri-Cities ValleyCats take on the Oneonta Tigers. Why? Because SI’s Peter King is going to be throwing out the first pitch and hanging out with fans to talk about the upcoming season, along with a host of NFL experts including NFL.COM’s Adam Schefter, Sporting News’ Albert Breer, NY Giants radio voice Bob Papa and Redskins lineman Ross Tucker.
  • The CHICAGO TRIBUNE breathlessly reports that Jay Cutler completed his first 12 passes during 7-on-7 drills at camp yesterday. Although to be fair, Kyle Orton and Rex Grossman probably couldn’t complete 12 passes back and forth to each other.
  • PRO FOOTBALL TALK says Bengals QB Carson Palmer has missed the last two days of practice with flu-like symptoms. Let’s hope he didn’t catch swine flu from eating any undercooked wieners
  • Formula One driver Jensen Button spent part of his break from racing competing in the London Triathlon, where he set a personal best. I would have spent the time watching his girlfriend Jessica Michibata giving her personal best while modeling bikinis on a beach in Japan.
  • Samantha Thavasa

  • We told you last week about Andy Reid’s hellish training camps and love of full-contact drills. Turns out there’s a down side to that: two Eagles players left last night’s practice with injuries.
  • Letdown City: the rally car racing final at the X Games gets stopped halfway through when Travis Pastrana wrecks his car, handing the win to former Indy 500 winner Kenny Brack. To celebrate, Brack knocked back a tall glass of ice cold Red Bull and milk.
  • I guess you could say that the Red Sox’s trade for Victor Martinez has paid some early dividends: he went 5-for-6 in Boston’s 18-10 win over Baltimore. Too bad Clay Buchholz is still not very good at pitching to big league hitters.
  • Finally, BALL DON’T LIE has video of the cheap shot that Italy’s Stefano Mancinelli delivered to the back of Aaron Doornekamp’s head during a “friendly” international basketball game against Canada:

Which baseball intra-area rivalry is the real deal?

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Week In Review: Harry Kalas, Mark Fidrych R.I.P.

• A sad way to start the baseball week: Phillies announcer Harry Kalas & former Tigers pitcher Mark Fidrych both pass away on the same day.

Harry Kalas Mark Fidrych

• But it was nice to see Brian Bosworth help save an Oklahoman’s life.

• Wedding bells have rung for a couple of tennis stars: Andy Roddick ties the knot with Brooklyn Decker, while Roger Federer marries his manager.

• Padres pitcher Heath Bell is p.o.’ed about ESPN’s overwhelming coverage of all things Yankees, Mets & Red Sox.

• That stinks: Dwight Howard has a passion for passing gas.

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Erin Andrews To Be In Next EA Sports CFB Game

• The best reason to buy EA Sports’ next college football video game? The addition of the other EA: Erin Andrews.

Erin Andrews fullbody

John Madden lays down his last “BOOM!”, decides to call it quits.

• The NBA Playoff pairings are finally set. (All just a formality before the inevitable Kobe-LeBron finals?)

• Speaking of, the Celtics may have to spend their postseason without the services of Kevin Garnett.

Shaq’s Barber Shop is now open for business! First reluctant customer: Suns teammate Louis Amundson.

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Sox Pitcher Makes Marriage Deal w/Briefcase Girl

Who would have thought Clay Buchholz would turn out to be such a ladies’ man? Last year, we learned that the Red Sox pitcher was paired up with Penthouse Pet Erica Ellyson. But now Clay has eased away from Erica - and instead he’ll soon be packing his honeymoon bags with a briefcase girl from “Deal Or No Deal”.

Lindsay Clubine Clay Buchholz

The BOSTON HERALD’S INSIDE TRACK informs us that Buchholz is engaged to Lindsay Clubine, better known to NBC viewers as Briefcase Model #26. The two met at “Affliction: Banned”, an MMA event hosted by Lindsay & sponsored by Donald Trump. (How romantic.) Clay apparently popped the question to Lindsay last month, and the happy couple is preparing for a November wedding to be held at the Trump National Golf Club in L.A.

(Who would’ve thought The Donald would be known as The Matchmaker? I smell another NBC reality series!)

More pics of the future Mrs. Buchholz after the jump.

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Ana Ivanovic On Stamp; USC Song Girls in Bikinis

SbB’s Adventures in Air Travel: Kickin’ it in Kansas City, chillin’ in Charlotte.

Ana Ivanovic gets the stamp of approval from the Serbian postal service.

Ana Ivanovic

• USC’s Song Girls make $1 million in just one day by basking in bikinis.

Matt Leinart’s car spotted in L.A. - or could it be Nick Lachey’s wheels?

Pope Benedict can come in to Yankee Stadium, but he’s have to leave the Popemobile with the valet.

Carmelo Anthony gets into a nugget of trouble with a DUI charge.

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Sox’s Buchholz Caught Boozing It Up With Berman

Clay Buchholz leads a charmed life. When the Red Sox pitcher’s not palling around (and then some) with Penthouse Pets, he’s throwing back some brews with Chris Berman.

Chris Berman Clay Buchholz

The BOSTON HERALD’s TRACKED DOWN spotted Buchholz, Boomer and Patriots linebacker Eric Alexanderhoisting a few at The Greatest Bar“.

Erica Ellyson

(Clay ditched *this* for beers with Berman?)

Seems like a social step down for Buchholz - going from entertainment with Erica Ellyson to boozing with Berman. (No offense meant to Mr. Alexander.) Wonder if Chris treated the wait staff the same way he treats “Monday Night Football” studio crews.

Red Sox Practice Everything, Including Winning

The Boston Red Sox didn’t complete the turnaround from national joke to World Champions by simply spending hundreds of millions of dollars on new players and an enhanced farm system. (That helped though. A lot. Like, 90%.)

Clay Buchholz has looked better

(We assume Clay has sent this man in his stead to protest the working conditions of the South Boston construction worker, a la Charlton Heston)

They also became winners by practicing relentlessly. Even Manny spends every waking hour practicing being Manny. By way of example, OUT IN CENTER FIELD has tracked down proof that the Red Sox staff even practice giving out World Series rings. One might think the Red Sox have a little practice at handing those out, but they take no chances.
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Red Sox’s Buchholz Bunking With Penthouse Pet

Just doing some double-checking to see of we’re on the Emperor’s Club list.

• Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz has been perusing with a Penthouse Pet.

Erica Ellyson Clay Buchholz

• The Sky turned out to be the limit for a Chicago WNBA coach fired over sexual harassment claims.

Terrell Owens shows his support for the U.S. Olympic softball team.

• A new study suggest that other golfers tense up when Tiger’s in town.

• Plans for a London Olympic Friend-Ship have been scuttled.

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Proud Papa Confirms Pitcher Dating Penthouse Pet

WITH LEATHER tosses over news that Red Sox hurler Clay Buchholz has apparently been getting hot & heavy with a Penthouse Pet.

Erica Ellyson Clay Buchholz

BARSTOOL SPORTS reports that Erica Ellyson was on the Howard Stern show on Tuesday, and the 2008 Penthouse Pet of the Year had said she was “banging a Red Sox player” (possibly NSFW).

The BOSTON HERALD then tuned in to WZLX on Wednesday, and heard confirmation of the coupling from Clay’s dad. Read more…