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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Dontrelle Willis Put On DL With “Anxiety Disorder”

At first blush, it seemed like just another ho-hum injury update as spring training winds down: Tigers start season with Joel Zumaya and Dontrelle Willis on disabled list. But while Zumaya’s stint is brought on by a bad shoulder, Willis is on the shelf with an “anxiety disorder.”

Dontrelle Willis
(”I’ll tell you what’s crazy–that delivery!” /fakerickreilly’d)

Willis wants fans to know that he hasn’t gone completely crazy or anything like that. We believe him, though we’re not quite sure that his quotes on MLB.COM are going to be a springboard into speaking about psychiatry after his MLB career is over: Read more…

Blog-A-Roni: Zara Phillips No Longer Beijing-Bound

• Remember how excited we were to see Zara Phillips, granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth II, riding off for the Olympics? The BBC tells us that Zara’s plans for equestrian gold have now been zapped, ’cause her horsie’s hurt.

Zara Phillips

• Time to change pro careers? Steve Wyche of the ATLANTA JOURNAL CONSTITUTION tees up news of Joey Harrington hitting two holes-in-one on the same hole in a matter of days.

• USA TODAY salutes Sam Wyche, as the ex-NFL coach wins in his debut election in the primaries for his local county council.

• The MADISON (WI) CAPITAL TIMES hikes along the story of a female pro football player who may soon be sent off to Iraq.

Read more…

How’s That D-Train And Cabrera Trade Looking?

The overwhelming sentiment from baseball’s offseason was that the Tigers made a formidable team practically invincible by adding Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera in a trade with the fire sale-minded Marlins.

Miguel Cabrera

And yes, I know it’s only 11 games into the season. But, um, the Tigers are 2-9, almost got no-hit yesterday and put Willis on the disabled list. Oh, and did I mention that Cabrera is hitting .167. Read more…

Thorne Won’t Be Guarding Borders Anytime Soon

During Wednesday morning’s Boston-Oakland tilt in Tokyo, ESPN thoughtfully took the time to promote another of its televised events: Saturday’s Civil Rights Game against the White Sox and Mets. Steve Phillips made a compelling argument after the Civil Rights Game promo for the progress of minorities in baseball in the last half-century or so:

Phillips noted the Detroit Tigers could reasonably field a starting nine that did not have a single white person. As he rattled off the starters for such a squad (including Ivan Rodriguez, Magglio Ordoñez, Curtis Granderson, and Jacque Jones), he built a strong case for the widening influence of baseball internationally and shrinking domestic (i.e., African-American) influence.

Gary Thorne’s wizened response? “Pretty good international team.”

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Blog-Some: Wright Wrongs Willis With Wild Words

• Too bad they’re not division foes anymore: YOU BEEN BLINDED sips on some Hater-ade, as David Wright tells Dontrelle Willis he owns him.

(Classic quip around 2:48)

• Speaking of smack, DEUCE OF DAVENPORT discovers that someone at ABC apparently appreciates Jerry Stackhouse manhandling Manu Ginobli.

• TENNIS SERVED FRESH doesn’t skirt around Nike sending out a sneak preview of Maria Sharapova’s French Open outfit.

• SIGNAL TO NOISE offers some brand new ad copy for Coack K’s next American Express spot.

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Blog-O-Rama: Gays Hate Madison Square Garden

• The NEW YORK TIMES reports that gay hockey fans feel uncomfortable at Madison Square Garden. Personally, I find Jaromir Jagr’s mullet extremely inviting.

• PORTFOLIO.COM discusses/speculates the salary of some fellow bloggers over at GAWKER.COM.

• THE SMOKING GUN posts some fabulous father/son/tattood face mug shots. Truth be told, we think it looks like Rod Beck and White Chocolate, Jason Williams.

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Jimmy Rollins: Stylistic, Possible Cheapskate

The PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER talked to Phillies SS Jimmy Rollins and got a mouthful in a half hour, including his jewelry purchases and players with style.

Jimmy Rollins street clothes

“My jeweler said you don’t want to spend a lot of money on earrings. So anybody trying to get something for their wife or something, don’t spend a lot on the earrings because they’re just an accessory. You might as well get cubic zirconium.”

A born romantic, folks.

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Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis Heading For Detroit

TIGERS REELING IN BIG FISH CABRERA & WILLIS FROM FLA: The Tigers must think they’re the Yankees or the Red Sox.

Miguel Cabrera

Ken Rosenthal of FOX SPORTS hits home the news that Detroit is finalizing a deal with the Florida Marlins to send 3rd baseman Miguel Cabrera & pitcher Dontrelle Willis to Comerica Park.In return, the Fish would be landing six young players and prospects from the Tigers organization, including pitcher Andrew Miller and outfielder Cameron Maybin.

Florida didn’t even talk with the Tigers about any deals until contacting the AL Central club Tuesday morning. Within two hours, both sides had reached an agreement.

Comerica Park Tigers

Marlins left fielder Josh Willingham was surprised by the big deal, saying, “It was kind of like, wow, when I heard. I halfway expected one of them to get traded, but not both in the same deal. So it’s a little bit of a shock.”THE WORLD OF ISAAC is certainly roaring about the Tigers’ tremendous trade. The happy blog is calling it “the biggest blockbuster in Detroit sports history.”