In case you were busy trying to shake off seeing the Raider Rusher, here's what you missed in sports on Wednesday.
For the first time in 21 years, the Pittsburgh Pirates will be playing postseason baseball after clinching at least a wild-card berth with their 2-1 win over the Chicago Cubs. "Congratulations, I'm so happy for you guys," Cubs manager Dale Sveum told Pirates manager Clint Hurdle after the game, "we're doing great too, really, really, really great. Me and Theo, and everyone here. We're really happy." Hurdle opened his mouth to talk, but Sveum continued to speak, "and we're happy for you. But really we're just happy, so, so happy. And sure, we don't have everything you have. Who does? I mean, Andrew, what a kid. What a kid. We know all about Andrew and his exploits. I mean, our Anthony is great, but he's no Andrew. No, no he isn't." Hurdle nodded sympathetically as Sveum briefly lost his train of thought. "I'm sorry, what was I saying? Oh yes, how happy we are here as Cubs. That's the important thing; that we're happy. And you're happy. Everyone is happy." Sveum smiled, content with his self-presentation, and Hurdle didn't have the heart to tell him that his jersey had been tucked into his underwear the entire time.
Peyton Manning led the Broncos to their 14th straight regular-season win as they easily beat the Oakland Raiders 37-21 at home. Things got even worse for the Raiders as quarterback Terrelle Pryor was knocked out of the game with a concussion, or as NFL commissioner Roger Goodell referred to it, "Terrelle who? What are you talking about? Never heard of the guy in my life, have you, Mark? Terrelle Pryor?" to which NCAA president Mark Emmert responded, "Nope, Roger. Me neither. Never heard of this 'Terrelle Pryor' before. Weird."
In case you were out accidentally revealing that you named a loved one Cosmo, here's what you missed in sports on Thursday:
The Dodgers clinched the NL West title with a 7-6 road win over the Arizona Diamondbacks, before angering the Diamondbacks' organization by celebrating in the pool at Chase Field. "You can't have a pool party at our pool and not invite us," said disappointed Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, as he stood in a pair of bright blue bathing trunks holding two pool noodles. When asked why he had two noodles, Goldschmidt hung his head and said softly, "One for me, and one for a new best friend." Goldschmidt then exploded, saying, "His name is Yasiel, and now that's never going to happen, is it? Is it?"
Despite Kansas City's failures in clock management and third-and-short situations, the Chiefs moved to 3-0, prevailing over a sloppy Philadelphia Eagles team, 26-16, in Thursday Night Football action. Which is to say that on the binary football scale of "Andy Reid" to "Not Andy Reid" by which all football games can be judged, the game scored an "Andy Reid."
In case you were busy wishing you could just be a linebacker, and not the go-to name when someone gets tricked on the Internet, here's what you missed in sports on Wednesday:
Chris Davis's 12th-inning single gave the Orioles a 5-3 win over Boston, leaving the Red Sox's magic number for clinching the AL East at three. "Yeah it is. Oh, three, is a magic number," Red Sox manager John Farrell sang after the game before leading his team in a Schoolhouse Rock sing-along that both raised team morale and clarified for second baseman Dustin Pedroia exactly how a bill becomes a law.
Desmond Jennings's walk-off single was the final blow in the Tampa Bay Rays' back-and-forth extra-inning 4-3 win over the Texas Rangers. "Even if we have a lot of kids and other team's rejects, we have a great team spirit that I think is going to bring us into the postseason," said Rays manager Joe Maddon, who was dressed as Oscar the Grouch in a strange bit of morale-draining one-upmanship. "Because we here in Tampa love trash. We love it because it's trash."
In case you were busy being quietly content with Greg Schiano, here's what you missed in sports on Tuesday:
The Texas Rangers broke a seven-game skid and reasserted themselves in the AL wild-card race with a 7-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays. When asked how snapping the losing streak felt, Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler shrugged and said, "Eh, not so great. Really, I thought it would be better, but at this point in the year, all these games are pretty much the same." When asked if he hoped the momentum from this game would carry the team into the playoffs, Kinsler replied, "Nope," before catching himself and adding, "Which isn't to say I don't want to make the playoffs; I just don't care either way. If we make them, great. If not, meh."
Red Sox closer Koji Uehara's streak of retiring 37 consecutive hitters was snapped as he took the loss in the Baltimore Orioles' 3-2 victory over Boston. Uehara was in good spirits despite the rare loss, saying after the game, "Tomorrow is another day for me to start a streak." Then, after a brief pause, the 38-year-old Uehara frowned and added, "Actually, man, that streak was really hard. Really, really hard. I doubt that I can start another one like that at my age. Is the best of me in the past?" Uehara let his mind cast back to his youth, when he was a top student, when he first picked up a baseball as a child. Then forward to the pride he felt getting into the Osaka University of Health and Sport Sciences. "Was that almost 20 years ago?" he mumbled to himself as he let his mind cast forward to his streak of 15 consecutive wins in 1999 as a Yomiuri Giant, when he won the Rookie of the Year and Eiji Sawamura Awards. Then his two Japan Series titles in 2000 and 2002. "Over a decade ago," he said out loud to no one in particular. Then his unbeaten run in international play came back to him, including his World Baseball Classic title in 2006. "I was old then now?" And now this run. What was left in that right arm of his, he thought to himself, what was left to prove? "Well, we better win the whole damn thing," Uehara exclaimed, snapping back to the present: an empty Fenway Park locker room, as he had been left alone in his reverie, a tired body worn down by decades of pitches. "Yes," he said, this time in a more reserved tone, "the whole damn thing."
Whoa, whoa, whoa. How is it mid-September? Did we even have August this year? Are the playoffs really sneaking up on us? This is getting serious, gang. Each team has about 15 games left to win, lose, bargain, plead, suffer, and despair. There are only three weekends of regular-season baseball left, starting today, and here's something important: A fancy word for "third-to-last" is "antepenultimate." Armed with that knowledge, it's time for the antepenultimate weekend countdown. Join me!
In case you were busy putting in a speculative application to Oklahoma State, here's what you missed in sports on Thursday:
The New England defense forced four turnovers en route to an ugly 13-10 win over the New York Jets. Both offenses struggled with young receiving corps, leading Patriots quarterback Tom Brady to say after the game, "I haven't seen that many drops since the last time I went to a Skrillex concert," to a stone-faced press corps. After an awkward beat, he added, "'Cause of the drops, is this thing on? Anyway, I can't wait to see the film on this one. I imagine I'll be a big-eared elephant, and I'll be playing the board game Operation. Eh? It'll be Operation Dumbo Drop. Seriously guys, nothing?" Brady then exploded, yelling, "Someone pick up something I'm throwing out here!" before tossing the microphone to rookie receiver Kenbrell Thompkins, who proceeded to drop it.
The penultimate tournament of the FexEx Cup season is shaping up to be a classic, as Brandt Snedeker sits atop a star-studded leaderboard after firing an opening-round 63 at the BMW Championship. "It's fitting that I'm leading," Snedeker said after the round, "as I consider myself the ultimate driving machine." When reminded that he ranks 142nd in driving distance on the tour, Snedeker said, "Well, I'm the penultimate driving machine." When asked if he knew what "penultimate" meant, Snedeker sprinted to his Audi and immediately drove it into a tree.
The Cleveland Indians, who haven't made the playoffs since 2007, just finished a fairly brutal stretch of baseball. Starting on August 27, they endured 15 games in 16 days against some of the best teams in the game. That list included the Atlanta Braves, Detroit Tigers, Baltimore Orioles, and Kansas City Royals. The first two teams on that list are playoff-bound, and the last two are in the middle of the wild-card race. The Indians are there, too, but they didn't exactly help their own cause. In the 12 games against those above-average teams, they went 4-8. A series against the Mets provided some relief, but not much; they still finished 6-9.
For practical purposes, the damage to the Indians' playoff hopes was minimal. On August 26, before the onslaught, the Indians held a .546 winning percentage and found themselves two games behind Oakland for the final wild-card spot. Now? They come in at .531, but are just 1½ games out of the wild-card race. They have Tampa Bay to thank for that; the Rays' 4-13 slide over a similar period has kept a number of teams hopeful, including the Yankees, Orioles, and Royals. All the Indians really lost was time.
In case you were busy being ready for some football, some Wednesday-night football, Wednesday-night football that is never going to come, here's what you missed in sports on Wednesday:
Tampa Bay Buccaneers corner back Darrelle Revis has said he's "happy to spill the beans," in advance of the Bucs' matchup with his former team, the New York Jets. "It was a nice offer," said Bucs head coach Greg Schiano, "but it's just beans." When asked to clarify Schiano added, "Seriously, their whole playbook is just a box of supposedly magic beans. Apparently they traded their old defensive playbook, which was quite good, with some sort of evil space wizard wearing a sleeveless hooded cloak, and ended up with a box of beans." Schiano, a New Jersey native shrugged and said, "I wouldn't believe it, but, you know Jets."
An all-Italian quarterfinal at the U.S. Open yielded the day's biggest upset as Flavia Pennetta beat out no. 10 seed Roberta Vinci, 6-4, 6-1. Vinci was sanguine despite her loss, saying, "I have no regrets, I came, I saw, I Vinci." Meanwhile, despite advancing to her first career Grand Slam singles semifinal, Pennetta was less pleased with her tournament experience, saying, "I have many regrets; I came, I saw, I was detained at LaGuardia Airport after an idiotic mix-up involving former CIA director Leon Panetta. I did not conquer."
The main message I want to convey up top is that if you're a real baseball fan, you won't watch any college football this weekend. Anyone who watches even a minute of college football on Saturday is a traitor to baseball and shouldn't be allowed to watch the World Series ever again. And now that we understand each other, let's go to the top 10!
10. Laboring on Labor Day (Kershaw!)
Hey, everyone, it's a four-day weekend! If you're a traitor who will be indulging in college football on Saturday, the good news is that you can still get your second baseball fix on Monday. All 30 teams are in action on Labor Day, and most of the games are afternoon tilts.
The arrival of Labor Day means that awful, horrible summer is OVER. It's been rainy for the past three months in North Carolina, and when you combine that with the heat, it creates this terrible, steamy cauldron that reduces me to a giant walking sweat-man the minute I step outdoors. So hurray for Labor Day. Also hurray for baseball, because on Monday we get to see Clayton Kershaw. With an ERA of 1.72, he's looking to beat 2000 Pedro Martinez (1.74) for the best season-ending ERA of the millennium. (Doesn't including the word "millennium" introduce a nice gravity to the whole thing? Totally undeserved, but still.)
Baltimore Orioles’ first baseman Chris Davis continues to lead the major leagues in home runs, hitting his 46th last week. At his current pace, it won’t be long before he’ll hit his 51st, breaking the franchise record currently held by Brady Anderson.
Anderson was a good player who was named to three All-Star games during his career, but his 1996 season was one of the great outliers in baseball history. He hit 50 home runs that year, more than twice the total he’d manage in any of his other 14 major league seasons. Fair or not, Anderson’s name has become a synonym in the sports world for a one-year wonder. (And for being suspected for some other stuff, but let's not get into that today.)
What does any of this have to do with hockey? Nothing, in theory. But it’s August and there’s nothing else to write about, so we’ll just go ahead and steal this story line from another sport and make it about hockey.
So in honor of the soon-to-be-former Orioles record-holder, here are 10 of the greatest Brady Anderson seasons in NHL history.
The weekend is here, and I don't know about you, but I'm ready to sit back, watch some baseball, cry, watch more baseball, think about exercising, back to baseball, cry, baseball, eat, cry, baseball, baseball, cryball, eat, cryercise, baseball, eat. WHO'S WITH ME?!
To approach this with sober objectivity: We might be dealing with the best weekend of baseball so far this season. There are no less than four incredible series matchups, a wonderful, tragic pitchers' duel, and a special bonus slotting in at no. 10
The pennant race isn’t heating up anymore. It’s here, it’s hot and it’s wonderful. Now we can start really picking apart the chances of teams that are, as of now, on the outside looking in. One of the more interesting cases belongs to the Baltimore Orioles. Last year’s Orioles were the physical manifestation of “You Can’t Predict Baseball,” as a collection of youngsters, castoffs and reclamation projects beat their Pythagorean record by 11 games, ticking just about every “unsustainable luck” box—from a 29-9 record in one-run games to Nate McLouth’s 111 OPS+—en route to a Wild Card berth and a five-game ALDS loss to the Yankees.
This year, the Orioles are hanging onto the contender label for dear life, with about one chance in three of making the play-in game. Their four-game deficit to Oakland and 5 1/2 games to division-leading Boston and Tampa Bay are significant, though not insurmountable, gaps to consolidate with 37 games to play.
So if Baltimore’s going to follow up a miracle season with a not-so-miraculous return appearance, here’s what they’re going to need:
More good news for Detroit — it's in three separate entries this week! Let the good times roll!
10. Hey, Everyone, the Orioles Still Exist (COL-BAL)
Has any team gone from "national darling" to "completely ignored" in one year while still being a really good baseball team? Granted, the Orioles spent last season winning what felt like 87 straight extra-inning games, and their flair for the dramatic has ebbed slightly in 2013. But this club is still 10 games over .500 and just 2½ games back of the last wild-card spot. It's almost a shame that they've been lost in the Dodgers-Pirates-Royals-Rays feisty-underdog shuffle. The Orioles are essentially like your friend's 6-year-old kid who's amazing at piano. The first time you see it, you're genuinely impressed. The second time, you're more like, "OK, we get it, the kid's good at piano, let's do something else," and finally you stop going to their house at all because you can't take the piano anymore. Meanwhile, the kid is like, "What did I do? Sorry for being awesome at the piano, dicks."
In case you were busy brainwashing your current star quarterback so he won't talk with your former star quarterback lest things get awkward, here's what you missed in sports on Wednesday:
The Los Angeles Dodgers continued their stunning run, pairing an Andre Ethier game-tying ninth-inning home run with 12th-inning heroics from Yasiel Puig to top the New York Mets 5-4. "We're unstoppable," yelled veteran second baseman Mark Ellis as he walked home from the stadium after the game with three of his teammates. Just then, in the distance, he heard the sound of a train whistle. Ellis ran onto the tracks. "Come on, Marky," A.J. Ellis called to his teammate from the safety of the road, but Mark said back to him, "No, uh-uh. I'm gonna dodge it." A.J. called again to his teammate, "Come on, get off the tracks, you're crazy," but Mark stood his ground and said, "Train dodger. Dig it." Suddenly the locomotive came into view, and A.J. yelled, "Get off the tracks, you want to get yourself killed?" as an increasingly uncomfortable Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu stood silently by him. Mark then mimed swinging a bat at the train, but as it barreled closer A.J. grabbed him firm and dragged him out of danger. A.J. screamed at his namesake "You want to kill yourself? Is that what you want, goddamnit?" But Mark stared him straight in the eye and said, "The way we're playing, we could have dodged it." This would be only one incident in the most meaningful summer of these young men's lives. Teammates come in and out of your life, but you never have any friends like the ones you do when you're in a pennant race. Jesus, does anyone?
Despite the seemingly endless string of heroics taking place at Chavez Ravine, the Arizona Diamondbacks are doing their best to keep the NL West division race alive, walking off for the third consecutive night behind two key hits from Aaron Hill in a 5-4 14-inning win over the Baltimore Orioles. "We've found a winning formula, we just have to hit walk-offs every night where we otherwise wouldn't win," Hill said after the game. "Think about it: If we can't lose when we're losing, and we can't lose when we're winning, we can't lose. Which means we can't lose. Think about it. It's so simple."
In case you were busy talking up how good your Achilles feels, because it feels really, really good, here's what you missed in sports on Tuesday:
Paul Goldschmidt's two home runs, including his third walk-off home run of the season, gave the Arizona Diamondbacks an 11-inning 4-3 win in their interleague battle with the Baltimore Orioles. "Guy's a regular Kirk Gibson with these clutch jacks," Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said after the game. "Am I flattered by the tribute? Absolutely. It's nice to have your players respect your on-field legacy." Gibson then did his best Vin Scully impression: "In the year of the improbable the—" before being interrupted by Goldschmidt. "Hey skip, what are you talking about?" Goldschmidt asked his manager, to which Gibson replied with a smile, "Oh, just reminiscing about my own walk-off heroics. Dodger Stadium. You know, the story." Goldschmidt furrowed his brow and asked his manager, "You played? For the Dodgers? No kidding. Never would have guessed." A crestfallen Gibson turned away and said, "Yeah, kid, yeah. I played. Impossibly that happened."
The Oakland A's were denied a Chris Young walk-off home run after umpires were unable to confirm through instant replay that his blast hit the foul pole, before losing, 5-4, to the Houston Astros when Young struck out on the next pitch. Now you know that we here at About Last Night are all about provoking debate, and the use of instant replay in baseball is a big topic for sports debaters these days. We take the stance that we must keep the human element in the game, and what's more, enhance it. Enough with automated delivery of baseball images to people's homes. No more televising games. The game happens once. The events are witnessed by those in the stadium. Period. Everything else denies the tradition of the game that, may I add, predates television. Furthermore, we take the stance that there should be no still photographs of the game, which would only serve to create needless controversy about games that already happened. Eyewitness reports of the game should also be banned, along with any written records of the games or mentions of the game in conversation. When asked about specific games, fans and journalists in attendance should not reveal any information about what took place, but instead should turn and sprint away from those who would dare ask a question about what happened at a baseball game, and proceed to start a new life under an assumed identity. Only in that way can we ensure that our sacred baseball traditions are preserved.