In case you were murdered on the steps of some forum or another Friday, here's what you missed in sports this weekend:
The NCAA tournament field is set with Kansas, Indiana, Louisville, and Gonzaga your four top seeds for March Madness. Expect upsets this year, as Louisville, despite being named the top overall seed, was drawn into the presumptive "group of death," featuring such dangerous teams as Duke, St. Louis, and Michigan State. Also, Gonzaga faces a potentially tough early round game against Pittsburgh oh, god, I'm talking myself into it who, based on advanced statistics, could actually be a slight favorite over the Zags DON'T DO IT; DON'T PICK PITTSBURGH making Pittsburgh my upset special of the tournament NOOOOOOOOOOOOO.
Surprisingly omitted from the top line of the NCAA Tournament were the Miami Heat, who won their 22nd consecutive game Sunday, beating the Toronto Raptors, 108-91. "Who needs this NCAA crap," Miami forward LeBron James said after the game, before teammate Shane Battier handed him an economic study on the long-term earning effects of college educations that he had co-authored during the offseason with Duke economics professor Arnaud Maurel.
In case you were out walking your dog, really walking him, here's what you missed in sports on Wednesday.
LeBron James netted his first game-winning shot since coming to Miami, and the Heat ran their winning streak to 16, beating the Orlando Magic, 97-96. "He's a bad man," Magic point guard Jameer Nelson said after the game. "That's gotta be the baddest thing a man has done in Florida since well probably not that long."
Miami isn't the only team in pro sports with an impressive winning streak. The Chicago Blackhawks have now reached the midpoint of the shortened NHL season without a loss in regulation, getting a last-minute, game-winning goal from Daniel Carcillo to beat the Colorado Avalanche, 3-2. The streak has gotten so much attention that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman commented on it publicly, saying, "I really shouldn't say this, but for the sake of our sport, I hope they run the table all season. Nothing would bring me more pleasure than recognizing that amazing effort by putting an asterisk next to it in the record book." Bettman then kicked an adorable golden retriever puppy named Scruffles on the way home to his mansion. He then congratulated himself on a day well-spent by pouring a bottle of Opus One Cabernet on a rug before demanding his servants clean it up.
Let's start with some questions: Is it just bad luck that so many god-awful playoff performers found themselves playing for the New York Yankees? Does a lack of clutch hitting have something to do with attitude? Is it contagious? Is it Joe Girardi's fault, somehow, for fostering a tense atmosphere just by projecting an anxious personality? Has A-Rod poisoned the well? How can so many players who make so much money and score so many runs together during the regular season suddenly look like terrified third-graders at their first piano recital?
Second, a hypothesis: For overall quality of offense, taking both the Yankees and Orioles into account, this has to be one of the worst playoff series ever.
The playoffs are finally here, and I'm thrilled to announce on behalf of pessimistic, ungrateful Yankees fans everywhere that three players have earned their way onto the annual postseason choke alert list. The choke alert serves not only to lower our collective expectations, but also to let us know when we should be at our most cynical. As usual, players are evaluated on their postseason performance with the Yankees alone, with no consideration given to past results in far-flung corners of the country.
There were also three players on last year's list, but there has been one change in personnel. After two straight seasons of top-notch postseason production and a scorching end to the 2012 regular season, we're sorry to be losing our good friend Robinson Cano. Robbie, you still have a .258 career postseason average and an abysmal 5.6 percent walk rate, but recent results have exonerated you completely. You are now skewing toward the clutch end of the spectrum, and while we hate to see you go, we recognize that it's a positive development both personally and professionally. Replacing Robbie on our list is the no. 3 choking suspect for 2012. Ladies and gentlemen, back after a two-year hiatus, please welcome Alex Rodriguez.
If you were zoned out in a football stupor this past weekend, you missed Jerry Meals unleashing one of the worst calls of the MLB season. On Saturday, the Yankees trailed the Orioles 5-4 in the top of the ninth at Camden Yards, and it was a big, big game. The AL East race had tightened after the Yankee collapse, and an Orioles win would tie things up with 23 games remaining. Yankee first baseman Mark Teixeira came up to bat with runners on first and third and one out. If the run from third scored, the game would continue. If Teixeira hit into a double play — which, to be fair, is a very Teixeira thing to do — it would be over. Here's what happened:
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Monday.
A disastrous showing by American gymnasts Danell Leyva and John Orozco on the pommel horse relegated their country to fifth place in the team finals, and the Chinese gymnasts won gold for the second straight Olympics. The Americans' struggle casts doubt on their unique pommel philosophy, known as "Butter the Horse!," though U.S. team coordinator Marta Karolyi put forth the possibility that maybe they didn't "Butter the Horse!" enough.
No matter how hard you study, no matter how hard you try to manage risk, there's a good chance you're going to badly overdraft at least one player. Even the best of us end up with first-rounders who perform like 15th-rounders. What's important is figuring out what to do once you've made that kind of mistake, then learning a lesson for the future.
So you can call this a venting session, and a teachable moment. Here are 10 of this year's biggest Fantasy Murderers.
The baseball season is a long and lonely road. To preserve his sanity, Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter keeps a diary. These are excerpts from The Captain's private journal.
Wednesday, April 18: vs. Minnesota
April baseball is always a little rough. The spring training rust isn't totally gone, and nobody's really ready to perform at their optimal level, but everything still counts. Yeah, I'm hitting .378 coming into the game and .389 after according to Scotty the ball boy — his name is actually Brian, but come on, he's Scotty — but that's not what I care about, so I had that kid scrub my locker with a Stay-at-Home Barbie Swiffer for telling me my batting average. I only pay attention to stats that begin and end with a capital W. And don't tell me there's some new nerd stat like WxRFSW or something like that. I'll make you circle every "Hatteberg" in Moneyball. (I'm not even kidding.)
With playoff baseball officially underway, the time has come for Yankee fans everywhere to accuse their players of choking in the clutch. Let's call it the A-Rod Phenomenon, since he was the poster boy for our ire prior to his breakout performance in 2009. This year, I'd like to be at the vanguard of the movement. With that in mind, here are three Yankees with shady pasts and a lot to prove in the 2011 postseason campaign.
It is really, really hard to support the New York Yankees.
Laugh all you want. The fact of the matter is we haven't won a World Series since 2009. By my calculations, it's been exactly 643 days since Shane Victorino grounded out to Robinson Cano in Game 6, triggering celebrations across New York. To put that in perspective, Gandhi's longest hunger strike was only 21 days. By that measure, Yankee fandom is 30 times worse than being oppressed by the British. And counting.
In case you were out living a young person's life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Tuesday.
This morning we're counting down the ten most significant moments of Tuesday night. They could be great, they could be awful, or they could be "other," but the ranking is entirely dependent on their importance. Kind of like how Time magazine's Person of the Year can be Gandhi, Hitler, or Mark Zuckerberg.