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.
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.
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…
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.
- 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: