Speed Read: Mo Saves #500 As Mets Melt Again

Back in April of 1996, Minnesota Twins manager Tom Kelly said of Mariano Rivera: “That guy, he should be in a higher league. Ban him from baseball. He should be illegal.” At the time, Rivera had zero Major League saves and the Mets and Yankees had never played each other in a game that counted. Last night, Mo earned his 500th career save in a 4-2 win over the Mets, and it will be just as memorable for what he did at the plate than what he did on the mound.

Mariano Rivera

Rivera came in to pitch in the 8th inning last night with the Yankees clinging to a 3-2 lead and Met runner in scoring position. After striking out Omir Santos, the Yankee lineup ended up getting to Rivera’s spot in the order. And Mo did something he had never ever done in his Major League career — reach base. Not only that, he earned an RBI for his bases-loaded walk by Francisco Rodriguez.

Earlier in the inning, the Yankees had engaged in some shenangians, sending Francisco Cervelli to the on-deck circle for Rivera when Derek Jeter was up with runners on 2nd and 3rd with 2 outs. This led to maybe the only time in history in which Steve Phillips and Joe Morgan have made tons of sense. There’s no way Rivera’s coming out of the game, with the Yankees leading 3-2, yet Jerry Manuel initially chose to have K-Rod pitch to Jeter with a base open. Knowing, mind you, that there was a 0% chance that Joe Girardi would lift Rivera for a pinch-hitter. Morgan and Phillips stopped just short of calling Manuel a moron for throwing Jeter a strike on the first pitch. After two balls out of the zone, the Mets finally gave Jeter the free pass. Rivera, of course, strolled to the plate, and was promptly walked (after he fought off a tough 2-2 pitch).

Rivera is still #2 all-time in saves to Trevor Hoffman, but will go down in history as the best closer ever because of his ridiculous 0.77 ERA (in 117+ innings) and 34 saves in the postseason. Plus, he’s now the only closer in MLB history with 500 saves who has been walked by another pitcher (Hoffman has no walks in 35 plate appearances).

It’s only fitting that the Mets were instrumental in all of this, as they keep finding new and interesting ways to fail against their cross-town rivals.

Luis Castillo

Speaking of fail, a little league game broke out in Arizona yesterday when the D-Backs hosted the Angels. Not only did Gary Matthews pull of a straight steal of home (which the media apparently thinks isn’t as “scrappy” as Jacoby Ellsbury doing it), but Arizona’s defense in the top of the fifth inning would’ve shamed Morris Buttermaker.

Diamondbacks fan

Let us count the ways:

1) Shortstop Stephen Drew lobbed a perfect strike to first baseman Mark Reynolds on a routine grounder. And Reynolds dropped the ball. Just dropped it. It was so bad, it actively looked like he was either trying to drop the ball or had never played baseball in his life.

2) Maicer Izturis lined a shot directly to right fielder Justin Upton. This ball also had the gall to hit Upton right in the glove, and he too made a complete mess out of it, as it bounded away from him and rolled to the wall.

3) The next batter, Bobby Abreu hit a ground ball directly at second baseman Felipe Lopez, who fielded the ball and threw him out. Unfortunately, the ball Lopez fielded was imaginary and the actual ball was somewhere in right-center.

This disaster came just one day after Arizona played a bunt by Erick Aybar into a t-ball home run (courtesy of two throwing errors on the same play). Is it any wonder the D-Backs are 30-46? Weren’t they one of the rising teams in baseball a couple of years ago?

Diamondbacks fan

By now, you’ve surely heard about the big soccer game yesterday, in which the Americans lost a heartbreaker to Brazil in the final of a goofy tournament that seemed to exist mostly to see if South Africa could host the World Cup next year without anyone dying. And, by all accounts, things went pretty well there other than the airhorns that the locals blew non-stop for the duration of every game (FIFA went as far as to try and temper the outcry by writing an article explaining how important making a horrible noise for two straight hours is to the South African people). Oh, and there was also the whole thing with the hookers and the Egyptians. But other than that, everything was great.

And everything was looking really great for the U.S., which came back from near-certain elimination in the group stage of the Confederations Cup to shock Spain in the semis and take a 2-0 halftime lead over Brazil in the final. And while the Americans deserved the early lead, the Brazilians were clearly the better team over the course of 90 minutes, outshooting the U.S. 31-9. It was only a matter of time before they found the back of the net, and they beat Tim Howard three times in the second half to take the title.

Brazil

The NEW YORK TIMES says that U.S. soccer narrowly missed a “moment” it needed to gain the sport traction in this country again. While the run to the 2002 World Cup quarterfinals was gripping, the games were played in the middle of the night and the Americans came up short in the one game everyone finally tuned into (the quarterfinal loss to Germany). Likewise, most casual fans missed the huge win over Spain on Wednesday, but were glued to the screen as Brazil stormed back to crush our dreams once again on Sunday.

Still, the U.S. soccer program is in better shape now than it has ever been, but if the sport is really going to take the next step in this country (if that can actually ever happen), they can’t afford to have a weak showing on the return trip to South Africa next summer.

US soccer

• The single-A California League is known as the place where pitchers’ ERAs go to die. This is especially true in the wind-blown desert of Victorville, where the High Desert Mavericks scored 18 runs last night in a home game against the Lake Elsinore Storm. Oh, and they lost by 15 runs.

You read that right. The Storm scored 22 runs in the first five innings, then added 11 more in the last two, and beat High Desert 33-18. The game lasted 4 hours and 10 minutes and was played in 100-degree heat. There were 10 home runs hit, and Lake Elsinore’s starting pitcher gave up 11 runs and would’ve earned the win if his manager hadn’t lifted him with 2 outs in the fifth inning and his team leading by 11 runs. Lake Elsinore picked up 32 hits while the Mavericks had 26. Two of those hits were by outfielder James McOwen, a lightly-regarded prospect who extended his hitting streak to a league-record 36 games.

• The CHICAGO TRIBUNE’s Phil Rogers has a mean case of sports columnist hyperbole syndrome, suggesting that the the Cubs should waive Carlos Zambrano because they’ll never win anything with him on the team. That may be true, but of course they’ll be further away from winning anything without him, because, you know, he’s a good pitcher.

• A teenager is being congratulated for driving like three times the speed limit in New Hamsphire.

Free Shawn Estes!

• TNT’s play-by-play man for NASCAR was suspended from yesterday’s broadcast for a “loud and public confrontation” that took place at his hotel the other night. Nobody in the booth mentioned their missing colleague, Bill Weber.

Ricky Rubio is now faced with the harrowing dilemma of whether to live in Minnesota or Turkey.

• Hey, when did Dennis Rodman become a Laker fan? (photo courtesy of J.E. Skeets)

scary Laker girl

• Hey, things are looking up, Detroit — Marian Hossa probably isn’t coming back, so you can go back to winning Stanley Cups now.

• The sock-puppet Stephen A. Smith, who is sort of the Triumph the Insult Comic Dog of the NBA Draft, made his final appearance at the Draft on Thursday. I will have a cheez doodle in his honor.

• BLACK VOICES says Serena Williams is writing a TV pilot inspired by both “Sex and the City” and “Family Guy.”  Just to warn you, Serena, the Sarah Jessica Parker-looks-like-a-horse joke is kind of a tired bit now.

• Scottish star Andy Murray is drawing record crowds to see him play at Wimbledon this year, and he’s up against Stanislas Wawrinka in the fourth round today. And if you tune in, you might want to keep your eyes peeled for Murray’s girlfriend, Kim Sears:

Kim Sears

Kim Sears

Has America’s performance in the Confederations Cup made you more interested in watching the World Cup next summer?

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Speed Read: NBC, NHL Screw Local Hockey Fans

One of the most jarring aspects of the Stanley Cup finals, other than the ease with which the Red Wings dispatched the Penguins on Sunday night to push the series to 3-2, has been NBC’s hardball with fans in Detroit and Pittsburgh. For the duration of the playoffs, both teams have been able to hold massive viewing parties in and outside their arenas. It was such a wonderful, organic expression of the communal nature of fandom that it was basically destined to be ruined by business in short order.

JoeVision Detroit Red Wings
(Thousands of fans watching the game with each other? Nope, can’t have this!)

And lo, in stepped NBC, stopping the broadcasts. As HOCKEYBUZZ.COM reported, initially, they blamed the NHL, despite the NHL’s assertion that that was quite not the case. Then came the truth, that it was a business decisions (all the crappy ones are), and their “business is ratings driven.” CRAIN’S DETROIT BUSINESS has the, ahem, money quote:

A near-sellout of Joe Louis could shave a ratings point off the local television ratings measurement, and such ratings are used to establish advertising rates.

So to that, if the all-important ratings model can’t deal with 8-10 thousand people watching a show in one place on one screen, you know what? The ratings model is completely worthless.  Seriously. How can NBC or Nielsen not figure out what to do with a giant honking party of some of the most hardcore fans all watching one screen? Is that really a deal-breaker?

And if so, if they’re really curious as to what the ratings would look like if everyone stays home, away from the shared community aspect from which most of the value of a ticket to a game is derived, there’s a really easy answer to all of this. You ready? Dick Ebersol, you taking notes?

All NBC has to do is announce that in exchange for showing the game outside both arenas, attending fans have to fill out a simple, anonymous survey about where they would otherwise watch a game (their place or someone else’s), with how many people, and whatever other information the network needs to most closely approximate what ratings would look like. Use that and Nielsen data to extrapolate what the final ratings would be with that many eyes on a TV, and adjust. That’s it. Easy.

This is a rare, rare opportunity for the NHL and NBC. At no other point are they ever going to be able to get this kind of a free pool of television watchers from whom they can mine valuable demographic information. Forcing them back into their homes and away from a group of thousands of like-minded, passionate fans for the sake of moving a needle one or two points does the city, fanbase, and team a disservice. It’s so easy to work around. Figure it out.

Speaking of soccer [I thought we were talking about hockey. No, I’m dead certain of it.–ed.] [Shut up.–AJ] [You have problems.–ed.], UEFA just got a seismic news flash as Real Madrid, evidently furious at having seen FC Barca take the title, has bought the contract of Kaka from AC Milan. Too bad UEFA contract holder SETANTA SPORTS probably won’t survive to see him in the new kit.

Kaka Kiss
(This is where we mention Kaka’s wife and fine whatever you’re all perverts.)

Kaka, a sensational striker from the one-word-name factory that is Brazil, will reportedly command a 6-year, $94 million contract. That’s enough to make it the most expensive in soccer’s history, barely beating out Zinedine Zidane’s 6-year, $65 million deal with Juventus from eight years ago. Meanwhile, David Beckham is running around for a crappy MLS team in Los Angeles for 30 cents on the dollar and going home to a bag of antlers with oversized sunglasses and the “I’m married, but still vain” haircut straight from Jon & Kate + 8. Sic transit gloria mundi: Glory is fleeting.

We mentioned Andrew Thomas Gallo, the man accused of killing Angels rookie Nick Adenhart and two others in a drunk driving collision, yesterday. Gallo pled not guilty to murder, drunk driving, and fleeing the scene of an accident charges yesterday. Great.

Nick Adenhart Killed In Hit and Run Accident
(No, nothing criminal led to this. No way.)

But as we (rightfully) focus on the three people killed far before their time, we should point out that one passenger in Adenhart’s car, 24-year-old Jon Wilhite, has, in fact, survived the crash that left him in critical condition (via the RIVERSIDE PRESS-ENTERPRISE). Wait, that doesn’t appropriately convey the gravity of what happened. He survived internal decapitation.

As MANOLITH explains, internal decapitation, which is exactly as horrifying and life-threatening as it sounds, happens when the skull detaches from the spinal column. It’s usually fatal. Wilhite somehow survived without total paralysis, which is unbelievably rare, and he’s now in rehab with the help of several major leaguers. He’s got a long way to go, but he’s on the right track.

Since we need to get back on a higher note, here are some more links to consider while you’re riding in a cab with former Beach Boy Brian Wilson:

Nick Collison Red Afro
(Yes.)

What do the Raiders need the most on offense?

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Ump Tosses LA Angels Pitcher After Two Pitches

John Lackey, one of the approximately 6.2 million Los Angeles Angels of Anywhere We Can Make a Buck pitchers that have been unavailable thus far this season, came back today for his first game of the season.  The sigh of relief from Angels’ fans had barely escaped their lips when Lackey threw his first pitch behind the head of Texas Rangers infielder Ian Kinsler, possibly for his two home runs Saturday.

Mike Scioscia arguing

Lackey (and Mike Scioscia?) must have truly been confident there would be few repercussions for this because the second pitch hit Kinsler in the trunk.  Who would throw out John Lackey, one of the best pitchers in baseball, on his first batter of the season?  As it turns out, umpire Bob Davidson would.

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Week In Review: Angels’ Adenhart Dies In Crash

• A very tough week for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Pitcher Nick Adenhart dies in a hit & run car accident caused by a drunk driver, just days after a fan dies from a post-game fight in an Angel Stadium stairwell.

Nick Adenhart Brian Powers

(Left - Nick Adenhart; Right - Fight victim Brian Powers)

Cheryl Miller wasn’t pleased that Scot Pollard was late for their NBA TV show, and she wasn’t afraid to use the airtime to air her grievances.

• ESPN reporter Shelley Smith takes a misstep at a Detroit bar during the Final Four.

• Fans fighting while their team’s championship banner is being raised, and booing while World Series rings are given out? Must be Philadelphia.

• A former Gonzaga women’s basketball star-turned-high school softball coach gets zagged for having sex with one of her 16-year-old players.

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Angels-A’s Game Postponed After Adenhart Death

In the wake of Nick Adenhart’s tragic death, tonight’s game between the L.A. Angels of Anaheim and Oakland Athletics has been postponed.

Nick Adenhart Killed In Hit and Run Accident

After conferring with Angels owner Arte Moreno, MLB commissioner Bud Selig decided to cancel the game after Andrew Thomas Gallo allegedly ran a red light & slammed his minivan into Adenhart’s car, causing a crash that killed the 22-year-old pitcher & two other passengers.

Upon announcing the cancellation, Selig released the following statement:

“Major League Baseball is in mourning today upon the news of this tragedy that has taken Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart and two others. Nick was just 22 years of age, with a wonderful life and career ahead of him.

“On behalf of Major League Baseball, I extend my sincere sympathy to the families and friends of all three victims and to the entire Angels’ organization. I send my deepest condolences to Nick’s parents, Jim and Janet. The hearts of everyone in baseball are with them at this most difficult time.”

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Playboy Golf Outing Means Free Tasers for NFLers

• What’s a little Playboy Golf without some free Tasers for the NFL guests?

Playboy golf taster

• The Chicago Cubs get a little Captain in them with the opening of a new rum-fueled Wrigley Field eatery.

• Yankees say they have no seats left under $375 - but they’re lying!

• Are you an NFL team that wants to know more about the personal lives of potential draft picks? Why not create some fake Facebook accounts?

• Because of the ongoing U.S.-Iran trade embargo, Hamed Haddadi of the Memphis Grizzlies is short-changed from getting any endorsement deals.

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Angels Fan Dies After Fight In Stadium Stairwell

While Phillies fans spent their opening night at Citizens Bank Ballpark coming to blows while the team raised its 2008 World Series Champions banner, at least nobody in that fight ended up in a casket. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for a spectator at the Angels’ home opener on Monday night in Anaheim.

Angel Stadium stairwell Brian Powell inset

As fans were leaving Angel Stadium after Monday’s game against Oakland, 27-year-old Brian Powers got into an argument with another fan in attendance. They began pushing and shoving in a stairwell in right field before a fight escalated. Then a third man entered the fray and hit Powers in the head from behind. It was a punch that would end Powers’ life.

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Red Sox Fan To Spend 270 Days In Jail For Battery

Over the last few years has there been a sports fan whose been more annoying than the Boston sports fan? They used to be someone folks from all over the country could relate to thanks to the constant heartbreak they seemed to suffer year after year, but they would always remain loyal. Then the Patriots started to win Super Bowls and some cockiness really started to emerge, but it was manageable. When the Red Sox finally broke through and won a World Series, however, Beantowners started to become insufferable.

David Hackman

In essence, they became everything that they’d always hated: Yankees fans. To make it even worse, though, they started popping up everywhere. As a result, fans from around the country turned on them and started to treat them as the enemy. Wherever they went they would be serenaded with the chants of “Boston sucks!”, much like they themselves would chant “Yankees suck!” no matter where they were. Well, many Boston fans weren’t sure how to respond to these changes. Some just let it slide knowing that it comes with the territory of being successful, while others respond more violently by throwing people down a flight of concrete stairs.

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Scioscia Before Game 4: “I’ll Guarantee a Victory”

Doug Padilla of the LOS ANGELES DAILY NEWS finds a rather single-minded Mike Scioscia before today’s Game 4 of the Angels-Red Sox ALDS.

Mike Scioscia guarantees victory over Red Sox

(I’ll go out on a limb too and guess 6 dogs for Scioscia in the postgame spread)

Despite the Angels being on the brink since a two-game debacle in Anaheim (sorry Arte), Scioscia has refused to have his team compared to the sad sack Cubs, who were thrown down the stairs in Three by the Dodgers. He’s convinced the team will force a Game 5. (My Boy Barry has your Angels Dodgers playoffs tickets - at a discount - code SbB010.) Read more…

Live Brog: Brooks At Red Sox-Angels In Anaheim

I’m coming to you live from inside and outside Angels Stadium tonight, with a Live Brog of ALDS Game 1 between the Red Sox and the Angels (we’ll just leave off the whole ridiculous L.A. thing, if you don’t mind).

Brooks with SbB Girls at Angels Stadium

(The fateful night St. Peters screwed me out of that dratted six-team parlay)

I’m hoping to take some interesting pics from outside the stadium and inside the Anaheim Hooter Girls breakroom the ballpark during the game. The in-game stuff (photos, commentary) can be problematic depending on cell reception, but SbB Managing Editor Jason Kaifesh who is pissed about losing a night off will be cheerfully overseeing the entire operation and have some snappy commentary and photo/video fun regardless. And you’re welcome to join in on the post thread anytime.

My Boy Barry Discount Tickets

Of course, I wouldn’t be at the game without My Boy Barry, who is (by far) the biggest ticket broker when it comes to affordable Angels and Dodgers playoff tickets. Hit his website or call 888-820 8499 and get your SbB discount (use code SbB 010).

So I’m all set to fumble hand the baton to the honorable Mr. Kaifesh, and get this show on the road. Start refreshing just before the game starts at 10p ET.

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