Speed Read: O’s Rally From 9 Down To Top Sox

It’s been a rough decade for the Baltimore Orioles. The once proud franchise has long been third fiddle to the Yankees and Red Sox in the AL East, but with the sudden rise of the Rays and the continuing competence of the Blue Jays, it’s hard to imagine a team that’s further away from being a contender in any division in baseball than the O’s.

Orioles celebrate

So it’s fitting that when the O’s finally did achieve something great, nobody was around to see it. Trailing 9-1 to Boston in the fifth inning last night at Camden Yards, the rain came and most of the crowd took off during a 79-minute delay. After resuming, the Sox added a 10th run in the top of the seventh inning before all heck broke loose. Baltimore scored five times in the bottom of the inning off of Justin Masterson. Then they added five more in the eighth that included a three-run pinch homer by Oscar Salazar, and capped off by a Nick Markakis double off of Jonathan Papelbon.

Hideki Okajima and Terry Francona

And just like that, history was made. George Sherrill shut the door on the Sox in the 9th and an epic meltdown was complete, sending the nine Baltimore fans in attendance into hysterics (while a few thousand Sox fans sat in stunned silence). Final score: Baltimore 11, Boston 10. It was the biggest comeback in the history of the Orioles franchise (which dates to when they moved there from St. Louis in 1954), and the biggest comeback by a last-place team over a first-place team in the history of the game. For Boston, it was the second-largest blown lead in their history (they choked away a 10-0 lead to Toronto in 1989).

The rally seemingly came out of nowhere, but perhaps we should’ve seen that the Sox didn’t exactly have their heads in it after the rain delay when the entire infield left the field in the bottom of the sixth inning…after recording the second out.

Red Sox leave field with 2 outs

(Fail)

July 1st is upon us, and that means NBA free-agent season is about to kick into gear. Today was the deadline for players with options to decide whether or not to honor their deals or look elsewhere. And with most NBA teams looking to slash payrolls, it’s no surprise that there aren’t a lot of people choosing to opt out. Kobe Bryant heads the list, but nobody really expected him to opt out.

Carlos Boozer, on the other hand, declared months ago that he would be on the open market come July. But a lot has changed since then. Detroit was the only team in position to offer Boozer a substantial deal, but they balked at offering a deal that would pay him more than the $12.7 million he’ll earn next season for sticking around Utah. Plus, Boozer’s really into going to Sundance and he wouldn’t be able to do that in Detroit.

Carlos Boozer

Boozer’s choice to exercise his option, and Mehmet Okur’s decision to do the same, has put the Jazz in a tough spot. They expect to lose Boozer after next season, and probably would’ve preferred if he bolted now. They’d like to sign youngster Paul Millsap to a long-term deal, and will now have to pay the luxury tax if they do so.

Meanwhile, Hedo Turkoglu is officially a free-agent, and while he’s garnering the most buzz, a lot of good players, such as Ron Artest, Jason Kidd, Ben Gordon, Andre Miller, Chris “Birdman” Andersen, and some guy named Allen Iverson could be had for the right price. Another guy on the market is Charlie Villanueva, who the Bucks declined to even make an offer to. TRUEHOOP says that’s a major indication that the economy is really taking its toll on the league. The Rockets are somewhat creepily taking a bit run at Marcin Gortat to replace Yao Ming for the time being, going as far as knocking on his door at 12:01 a.m. and setting up a Gmail account just for Gortat-based fanmail.

Marcin Gortat

(A future star, or a really well paid cheerleader?)

Speaking of Yao, people in China aren’t buying that he’s really all that hurt, suggesting that the Rockets are overstating his injury so that he’ll be cheaper to re-sign when his contract is up next year. But will Houston want him back? Regardless of whether or not he’s healed, China expects him to play in next summer’s World Championships, which could lead to further injury and basically stick the fork in him (if it hasn’t been already).

Yao's foot

(If Yao can’t run by next summer, he’s going to reinvent himself as Earl Boykins on wheels)

And now, without further adieu, let’s kick off July’s links with some bad goalkeeping, cheerleader car washes, and disembodied hair:

Chris Cooley is taking some time from showing everyone his wang to set fire to dead farm animals instead.

• On the plus side, this goalie showed some nice hops in saving this ball from going out of bounds. On the minus side, well, you’ll see (thanks to SPORTS RUBBISH):

• The ONLINE SPORTS GUYS has the story of Florida International’s cheerleaders — whose program was cut from the school’s athletic budget — trying to save their team the only way they know how: a giant car wash. Video goodness within.

FIU cheerleader carwash

• JOCK AND BALLS has 10 mullets we all know and love.

• Pacifiers featuring logos of NHL teams are being recalled because they cause a risk for choking. Surprisingly, neither the Bruins nor the Sharks are among the featured logos.

• Who has the NBA’s biggest payroll? Gotta be the Lakers or Celtics, right? No, actually, it’s New Orleans. And I’m sure that Wizards fans out there will be excited to learn that their team is #3 on the list.

• You’ve got just about three days left if you want to buy Magglio Ordonez’s hair in an Ebay auction.

Magglio Ordonez's hair

On second thought, that miiiiight be a dead puli.

• You want to edit some home video footage of Ty Cobb? Better respond to this Craigslist ad fast. He assures you that this is not a fake, because as we all know, people are always trying to pass around fraudulent Ty Cobb videos.

• The BIRMINGHAM NEWS has posted odds on which college football program will be the next to commit a major violation, courtesy of USBET.COM. #1 on the list? USC. Last on the list? The Australian Institute of Ethics.

• Penguins star Evgeni Malkin has a Conn Smythe Trophy, and now he’s cavorting somewhere warm with Oksana Kondakova, a model with creative tastes in bikini tops:

Oksana Kondakova

Looks like Malkin’s enjoying the off-season:

Oksana Kondakova and Evgeni Malkin

 

What does Yao Ming’s future hold?

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Speed Read: If They Say It’s Not About the Money

SPORTSbyBROOKS, in conjunction with Disney on Broadway and Rosie O’Donnell, is proud to present the upcoming smash Internet musical that will leave your toes a-tappin’ and your wallet a-empty: How to Succeed at Sports Business Without Really Trying!

How to Succeed in Sports Business Without Really Trying

Nathan Lane plays Sam Zell, a real estate magnate who overleverages himself in order to buy a major company in a rapidly shrinking industry just before the lending bubble bursts. It’s zany fun (except for the hundreds laid off, but they’re offstage anyway).

Desperate to make debt payments, he tries to sell the only profitable part of the company: a sports team known for being both lovable and not-winners. Still, he can’t find anyone willing to put up with his byzantine conditions in time to avoid bankruptcy.

However, to please the bankruptcy judge and try to salvage some of his own wealth, he presses on (as captured in the frenetic number, “Doesn’t Anyone Want to Get My Goat?”) and finds a family willing to buy the team off him.

Sam Zell's Goat

When negotiations don’t progress as hoped because he’s not getting his way and the family has to turn to regional celebrities to pony up cash, Zell tries to gin up a bidding war by hinting that he might be speaking to one of the previously-rejected suitors.

Will the family bow to the planted story and give the charismatic dwarf what he demands? Will his bluff be called and leave him singing “The Blue-Pinstriped Bankrupt Overtaxed Blues”?

And that’s just Act One, kids! Just wait till you see what’s in Act Two!

As the curtain rises on the second act, a strikingly successful bald man with an accent from the Queen’s lands (Patrick Stewart in a rare singing role) tries to make off in the night with a bag jammed full of hockey players from Phoenix (The Jonas Brothers). Caught at the U.S./Canada border, he tries to plead his case to the judge, who laughs him off and tells him to get back in line.

Having been cast a hand so weak that he could call it “The Stranger”, Jim Balsillie (the aforementioned smooth-headed rascal) organizes Make It Seven Day for today (June 19th) to encourage the creation or move of an NHL team to Canada to raise the number of Canadian NHL teams to seven.

Jim Balsillie does seven the hard way

(Jim Balsillie performing “Make It Seven the Really Hard Way”)

He bounces around the stage, Robert Preston-style, to sing to people that “Make It Seven Day is all about providing a voice to Canadian hockey fans, while raising money for minor hockey teams across the country.” (It all sounds better when it’s set to Elton John’s “Greater Toronto Area Freedom”.)

The Canadian chorus, recognizing a true Canadian hero in their midst, throw him onto their shoulders while he waves the Maple Leaf triumphantly and leads a round of “O Canada (Deserves a Seventh Team)” before someone in the crowd (Robin Thicke) realizes Balsillie is using nationalism (and corporate sponsors) to give himself a plaything and cast himself as a hero as well as a billionaire.

Also, the kid in the crowd realizes that the rich bald guy still hasn’t brought them a team, either, for all his bluster.

The crowd escorts Balsillie to the edge of the stage and tosses him back to America, warning him not to come back without a team this time. End of Act Two.

Oh, but Act Three… it’s the most expensive act in Internet musical history as it involves tearing Formula One asunder by chasing all the wealthiest teams (including Ferrari and McLaren) into forming their own league because Formula One dared suggested they not outspend all the other teams so badly anymore.

Well, the rich teams responded in eight-team harmony, if you won’t let us spend ridiculously in Formula One, we’ll build our own playpen so we can try to outspend each other with absurd amounts of cash.

Needless to say, this act’s a blatant theft of the American version of this musical, starring Jesse L. Martin as Tony George. It ends like the American version, too: both sides drain all the interest out of open-wheel racing, the money dries up, and Danica Patrick is cast as the savior. (Hey, if NASCAR can do it…)

Danica Patrick photo SI

(As always, it’s a race to the bottom with Danica)

On the other hand, you should see Formula One boss Max Mosley’s Naziriffic spanktastic encore for this show (and Formula One’s final bow):

Look out; here comes the bullet points! (But not before you consider a new iPhone for all the NSFW foreplay possibilities):

  • As the old joke goes, Jeremy Roenick donned his sparkly collar and surely proved that he has a career waiting for him on the stage, as seen during last night’s NHL Awards. In fact, if he hurries, there’s a stage leaving town in 15 minutes.

  • The Detroit Tigers have benched Magglio Ordoñez “indefinitely” due to his mediocre performance at the plate and definitely not because management has told Jim Leyland to sit on The Big Tilde to avoid triggering a clause in his contract to pay him $18 million in 2010. However, if Ordoñez would like to catch up on his DVR watching during the game, that would be totally cool with the Tigers.
  • If you’re a big fan of your favorite team, you won’t just stop at collecting cards or jerseys. You’ll also buy the unauthorized porn video (whose screen captures are probably just a bit NSFW). C’mon; if you’re in for an inch, you’re… probably doing it wrong, actually.
  • Let’s see… an AL pitcher is hurt on the basepaths in interleague games for the second year in a row. You know what that means: OMG PANDEMIC RUN FOR THE HILLS (unless you’re an AL pitcher; they get designated runners).
  • A few members of Iran’s soccer team donned green quietly to support the growing support for those demonstrating back in Iran while the players participate in the Confederations Cup in South Africa. They could be in a bit of trouble when they return home.

Iran soccer team

Who would you least like to handle your finances?

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Speed Read: Cardiac Canes Will Break Your Heart

As evidenced by Wednesday night’s Pittsburgh Penguins’ romp over the Washington Capitals, not every Game 7 in hockey is something special. But let’s face it - most of them are. And when you throw overtime into the mix? It’s about as good as it gets. It’s drama that you cannot turn away from - at any second, the game and the series could be over with one thunderbolt.

Carolina Hurricanes

So it was that the Carolina Hurricanes and Boston Bruins skated at the end of the first overtime in their Game 7 in Boston, looking for all the world like they were going to a second extra period - or more. And then out of nowhere, a shot was flipped towards the net, Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas was unable to control the rebound, and winger Scott Walker pounced to put the puck in the net for his first career playoff goal to end the game 3-2 and the series.

Boston Bruins

And the fact that it was Walker who scored the series-winner had to hurt Bruins fans doubly, since he was the person who sucker punched Bruins defenseman Aaron Ward near the end of Game 5. According to NHL rules, Ward should have been suspended for Game 6, but the league rescinded the suspension after a hearing on Monday. So he went from almost breaking Ward’s face to definitely breaking the Bruins’ hearts.

(Of course, even though it was a Game 7 overtime winner, it arguably wasn’t as impressive or as cold-blooded as how the Hurricanes scored two late goals to send the New Jersey Devils packing in Game 7 of their first-round series. If I’m the Penguins in the Eastern Conference finals, I’m doing everything I can to close them out early.)

Red Wings versus Ducks

The Detroit Red Wings’ Game 7 victory over the Anaheim Ducks didn’t go to overtime, but it sure had its share of drama. Detroit went up two goals early, only to see Anaheim claw back to level the score at 3-3. But Dan Cleary scored with three minutes to go to give the Red Wings the go-ahead goal and Detroit’s defense was able to make it stick, setting up a Western Conference Finals match-up with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Dwight Howard

Oh, you say that you prefer NBA Game 7s? Well, you’ll have your chance for satisfaction soon enough, as two teams fought off elimination to earn one deciding game. In Orlando, the subtle message that Dwight Howard sent to Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy through the media (i.e. “quit being an idiot and get me the ball”) must have sunk in, as Howard had 23 points and 22 rebounds and the Magic forced a return trip to Boston with an 83-75 victory over the Celtics. None of which apparently excited Orlando fans to show up, as there were “patches of empty seats early in the game.”

Kobe Bryant

No wonder Commissioner David Stern was at the Lakers vs. Rockets game. And speaking of late-arriving - someone might want to tell the Lakers that Houston is in a different time zone, because they clearly aren’t showing up for games there until it’s too late. Much like in Game 4, Los Angeles put themselves in a huge hole they never could get out of, at one point closing an early 16-point deficit to two points but finally running out of steam and falling 95-80 to force a Game 7 at Staples Center. Meanwhile, the Denver Nuggets wait and rest.

Here’s some more sports news to digest while I try to figure out how to be part of “Bike To Work Day” when I work from home.

Which postseason is the most exciting?

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Venezuela Fans Are Trashing Own Star Ordonez

Maglio Ordonez is one of the more decorated Venezuelans in baseball history. He’s still a major leaguer, he’s a former All-Star and a proud countryman. All of that should make him a huge hit at the ongoing World Baseball Classic, where the Venezuelans landed a big second round victory over the Netherlands yesterday. But it isnt working out that way. Instead, Ordonez is being boooed like A-Rod in Boston, and it’s all because of his political beliefs.

hugo chavez magglio ordonez

According to the ASSOCIATED PRESS, the disagreement between Ordonez and his country’s rabid fans stems from a series of current commercials in Venezuela. In the ads, the slugger advocates for the abolition of presidential term limits, a move which is patently aimed at getting more time in office for controversial head of state/autocrat Hugo Chavez. The controversial president has long exploited Ordonez’s success and fame for his own gain (no surprise there) as you can see in the video after the break, where Chavez holds a press conference to congratulate Ordonez’s past accomplishemts. While some, like fiery White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen weren’t so receptive, Ordonez has always been happy to play Chavez’s patsy. Needless to say, that’s not going over too well with the more liberal Venezuelans (i.e., expats in the U.S. and other countries) who have to watch Ordonez’s ugly mug — and horrible hair — in ads for a guy they’ve been fighting to push away for years.

Read more…

Book Leak: ARod, Magglio … Mike Wallace Juiced?

Will Leitch at DEADSPIN reports on a fan who bought and reviewed an accidently leaked copy of the new Jose Canseco book “Vindicated.”

Jose Canseco Vindicated

The book was somehow put out on sale at a Boston bookstore (oops!) - and purchased by someone named Joe Lavin. Unlike his namesake Steve, Joe actually has some noteworthy information for us. Read more…

Ol’ Blue Eyes Canseco Tries Extortion On Ordonez

The NEW YORK TIMES reports that Jose Canseco allegedly tried to get Magglio Ordonez to invest in a film project he was promoting in exchange for not being mentioned in his next book about steroids in baseball.

Jose Canseco Blue Eyes

Excerpt: “Four people in baseball confirmed that referrals were made from Major League Baseball to the F.B.I. regarding Canseco’s actions relating to the six-time All-Star outfielder Magglio Ordóñez.

Not surprisingly, Ordonez isn’t too enthusiastic about pressing charges, because his name would then come out in association with Canseco. And we all know what that means.

As an aside, we saw Canseco on Ocean Drive in Miami Beach Saturday afternoon. He was wearing what looked to be blue contacts in his eyes, a black shirt with no sleeves, and his arms appeared to be oiled up. He was accompanied by a surgically-enhanced female (we think) who must’ve been 6-foot-2. It was a good look all around.