Video: Mariano Rivera Spits On Baseball In ALCS

Screengrab, via HalosHeaven.com, of Mariano Rivera spitting on a baseball before he delivered it to the plate yesterday in Game 3 of the ALCS against the Angels.

Video of Mariano Rivera Spitting On A Baseball

Some will argue optical illusion, but what makes it clear to me is the way Rivera is holding the ball. Why else would he be gripping the ball in that manner, between his thumb and forefinger?

Did Mariana Rivera spit on the baseball?

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Ultimate Warrior Goes Wacko On The Late Jacko

• The Ultimate Warrior is nice enough to add his two ultimate cents on the dearly departed Michael Jackson.

Ultimate Warrior Michael Jackson

Christian Laettner is being sued by Shawne Merriman. CL better get a good lawyer and an even better bodyguard.

• A Texas Longhorns lineman learns the hard way why you shouldn’t text & drive by plowing into a co-ed’s apartment.

• An Aussie rugby coach is serious enough about drunken behavior on his team that he fines himself $10,000 for stumbling into the wrong hotel room.

Larry Johnson shows he can treat the ladies right by buying some gals in Vegas a really big champagne bottle.

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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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Fmr Yankees Reliever Admits Alcoholism Problem

Mariano Rivera has given his life to Christ, even marking his glove with Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who is strengthening me.”  In that spirit, he approached fellow (then-)Yankee reliever Scott Proctor and urged him to clean up his act.  It took a few years, but Proctor (now out for the year for the Marlins) finally took Rivera’s advice and joined Alcoholics Anonymous for his drinking problem.

Scott Proctor and family

In a conversation with THE NEW YORK TIMES’ Tyler Kepner, Proctor admitted that he partied too hard and drank far too much to be his best at all times.  He also told the TIMES that he doesn’t remember many family events washed away by booze.  He’s now recovering from elbow surgery and alcoholism, rehabbing from both with the same intensity.

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Speed Read: Eli’s Space Condo Could Beat Rams

It was a slow night in the world of sports with the baseball playoffs off until Thursday, and the only football game to be found was the timeless Troy-Florida Atlantic rivalry. So let’s focus our attention on what really matters: Eli Manning’s futuristic space condo.

Eli Manning's futuristic house

Manning and his wife have a hyper-modern 3,000 square-foot condo in Hoboken, N.J., where nearly everything is operated with a remote control. Among the amenities: several 63-inch flat screens, steam-resistant speakers in the bathroom, and a secret bar stocked with top shelf liquor. ELECTRONIC HOUSE magazine is on the scene (with a slideshow to boot):

Eli’s guests are probably most excited by the hidden bar in the living room. It appears to be a normal column next to the wet bar–until Eli presses a button on a nearby Crestron wall panel. It then becomes James Bond-esque: The column slowly rotates and reveals a covert bar area. “I just kind of wanted the place to have a little secret,” Eli laughs.

Also included are two layers of automated shades that provide varying degrees of sunlight exposure. The place even has a computer that sets the the interior lighting to pre-programmed levels at the touch of a button. You know, for those days when you can’t even be bothered to expend the energy to flip a switch.

Eli Manning's computerized house

Unfortunately, most avenues for humor here have been completely destroyed by the fact that Eli Manning is currently the reigning Super Bowl MVP. He was a much easier target when he was losing playoff games 23-0.

In the things-that-actually-happened-last-night department, Greg Oden finally made his long-awaited debut as Portland stomped Sacramento 110-81 in the preseason opener for both teams. Oden had 13 points, five rebounds, and two blocks in 20 minutes of action. It was also the NBA debut for Portland’s Rudy Fernandez, who delivered several highlight moments to a near sell-out crowd at the Rose Garden. Even more impressive: none of the current Blazers have ever been charged with a felony.

Greg Oden debut

Now for your Wednesday surgery round-up! Mariano Rivera had a calcified joint shaved in his shoulder. The shavings will be packed in a Pringles can and auctioned on eBay.  He should be able to throw again in three months, and is expected to not have lasting effects. Meanwhile, Omar Vizquel had laser eye surgery. I’m sure the Giants are happy that he did this after he hit .222 for them this year. The Cubs’ Carlos Marmol got into a car accident in the Dominican Republic and had to get some stitches in his head.

Of course, Marmol could’ve just as easily ended up with a gash in his head on Saturday night at Dodger Stadium if he would’ve been anywhere near teammates who took frustrations out on the plumbing near the visiting dugout after their season-ending loss. The pipe-bashers caused a flood, according to the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES’ Chris De Luca. Brad Lidge is scheduled to tear a quad slipping in the puddle Sunday night.

• If the Dodgers do somehow win the World Series this year, let’s hope they take a cue from their 1981 counterparts and put together a four-man singing crew that rivals this one (thanks to BIG LEAGUE STEW for the video footage):

• WFAN’s Sweeny Murti thinks he knows why the Yankees aren’t doing so well these days: they could’ve drafted better players between 1997 and 2003. What he doesn’t acknowledge? Every other team passed on all of the listed players they could’ve had at least once as well.

• The Flyers played at the Spectrum for the final time last night (the building is being torn down next year), and lost — to their minor-league affiliate. To be fair, it was a home game for the Phantoms.

• Yesterday was the 100th annversary of the worst beatdown in college football history, so says BLEACHER REPORT. You’re off the hook, Neuheisel.

• What does 11-19 in your first three years get you? If you’re Colorado football coach Dan Hawkins, it’s is a two-year extension (AP, via YAHOO! SPORTS).

• Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson’s son is the owner of the AAA baseball and minor-league soccer franchises in Portland and he’s looking for an $85 million bailout from local taxpayers to help renovate their current stadium for an MLS team and build a new baseball stadium, says OREGONLIVE.COM.

• HOME RUN DERBY’s jersey of the week? This guy:

Brewers fan

Looking in the mirror might be painful for a few days.

The Saints have taken down a photo of the Vikings’ Chad Greenway clutching Reggie Bush’s facemask, according to PRO FOOTBALL TALK.  The team claims that posting the photo didn’t have anything to do with being mad at Ed Hochuli’s crew for missing the call.

• Broncos kicker Matt Prater tells the AP (via the NEW YORK TIMES) that he wants a shot at breaking the record for longest field goal, after his 55-yarder on Sunday looked like it would’ve been good from 70 yards. Unfortunately, Lane Kiffin isn’t his coach.

• Last, but most definitely not least, SHORT NEWS has the heartwarming tale of an injured soccer player who discarded crutches and a cast and scored the game winning goal with his injured foot…and then vomited from the overwhelming pain.

What is your favorite factoid about Eli Manning’s home?

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Blog Jam: Chase Utley Has 2 Words for Boo Birds

• THE 700 LEVEL hears Phillies slugger Chase Utley giving a reasonable response to all the boo birds at Yankee Stadium on Monday night.

Chase Utley Home Run Derby

• Meanwhile, REAL CLEAR SPORTS catches Rick Reilly complaining about too many white players participating in the Home Run Derby.

• Speaking of racist chatter, DEADSPIN discovers Reggie Jackson having the chutzpah to call an artist Jewish, just because the two were haggling over the price of a painting.

• On a related note, BUGS & CRANKS raises some interest in presenting their MLB All-Dick Team.

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