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 busy talking yourself into Marcedes Lewis's fantasy bounce-back potential, here's what you missed in sports on Tuesday:
Clayton Kershaw was outpitched by Cubs starter Travis Wood, and the Dodgers were unable to finish a late rally, falling 3-2 to the Chicago Cubs. Kershaw, whose inefficiency forced him out of the game in the sixth inning despite giving up only one earned run, stared at his left arm with a furrowed brow after the game, saying, "The Cubs? Really, buddy? Come on. You're better than that. We're better than that. Yeah? Yeah? You agree. Nod if you agree." Kershaw then waved his arm around in agreement before saying, "OK, now what do you say we go grab a bag of ice and a pizza and put this whole thing behind us, eh?"
Mariners closer Danny Farquhar's 10th-inning balk proved decisive as the Texas Rangers topped Seattle 4-3. Seattle manager Eric Wedge was heated after the game, yelling at the gathered press, "No, the most Mariners way to lose a game is not to balk in the winning run you idiots. It's to somehow leave the bases loaded in four separate innings without scoring a single run. Also, Felix Hernandez is on the hill and only allows a single run when a Raul Ibanez defensive miscue makes what should have been an easy flyout become an inside-the-park home run. That's a real Mariners loss. This? This was an old-school Indians loss."
Matt Harvey is headed to the disabled list with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, wiping out the rest of this season, throwing next season into doubt, and likely derailing the Mets' near-term hopes for contention.
The injury derailed Harvey's first full season in the big leagues, one that established him as one of the best pitchers in the game. If resting the elbow doesn't cut it, Harvey would face the prospect of Tommy John surgery, which might keep him off a major league mound until 2015. Given how good Harvey had become so quickly, how rough the past few years have been for the Mets, and what Harvey's well-being means for one of the most downtrodden teams in baseball, it's tough to see this as anything other than a crushing blow for everyone involved.
Except it doesn't have to be that way. This isn't going to be another bury-the-Mets opus in which we catalog everything from Bernie Madoff to Jason Bay to the sad end of Johan Santana's career. This is a story of optimism, silver linings, and the miracles of medical science, about how sometimes shit happens, then everyone gets over it.
In case you were busy trying to stay awake during an all-day meeting on autograph compensation, here's what you missed in sports on Monday:
The St Louis Cardinals beat the Cincinnati Reds, 8-6, to regain the lead in the hyper-competitive NL Central. Allen Craig continues to be the clutchest player in baseball hold on guys it appears that my spell-checker does not believe that "clutchest" is a real word. I have two squiggly red underlines staring me in the face right now. Let me look up "clutchest" in the dictionary, and BOOM! Cardinal red. Take that, Clippy.
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 resulting roster flux creates opportunities for other players. There are the obvious ones, like the top prospects who languish in the minors for reasons both logical and confusing, then finally get the call. Then there are the less-heralded players, the ones jumping into more playing time who could swing fantasy leagues, especially deep ones.
Here are those sleepers worth snagging for the stretch run.
In case you were busy looking at pictures of Russell Wilson doing yoga for a long, long while, here's what you missed in sports on Wednesday:
New York Yankees outfielder Ichiro Suzuki amassed his 4,000th career professional hit in traditional Ichiro fashion, slapping a single into left field during the Yankees' 4-2 win over the Toronto Blue Jays. In honor of Ichiro's accomplishment let us all just say that we're lucky to have had the opportunity to watch Ichiro play baseball, and if we ever saw ourselves saying that we weren't lucky to have watched Ichiro play baseball, we'd punch ourselves in the face because we'd be lying.
Braves third baseman Chris Johnson hit a three-run game-winning home run in the 10th inning to give Atlanta a 4-1 win over the New York Mets. However, the big story coming out of Citi Field was the broken jaw of Jason Heyward, who will likely miss four to six weeks after being hit with a pitch by Jonathon Niese. When asked if he hit Heyward because of the psychological impact of years of pent-up rage caused by people misspelling his first name, Niese responded, "What? No! Oh my god, no, it was an accident. What the hell kind of accusotion is that?"
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 hiding out in your ill-conceived meteor shower bunker, here's what you missed in sports on Monday:
Texas starter Yu Darvish came close to throwing a no-hitter in Houston, but had to settle for a 2-1 win over the Astros after it was broken up with a solo home run by catcher Carlos Corporan. "Carlos seems like a great guy," Darvish said after the game, his lip quivering. "I totally get why my no-hitter would go and fly off with him. It makes total sense to me. I just — I just wish I knew what I'm doing wrong. If I could change who I am, I would. Really. Every time I get close to a no-hitter, it pulls away, and I never see it again. Then another no-hitter comes around, everything seems like it's going great, and bam. Gone again. It shouldn't be this hard." Darvish then shook his head and smiled. "I guess that's what makes it worth it, right? If it were easy, it wouldn't be as meaningful. I get it. I really do. I really, really, really do."
Despite another late scare, David Robertson and the New York Yankees made Hiroki Kuroda's gem hold up for a 2-1 win over the Los Angeles Angels. Robertson, who was visibly relieved after the game, said of his performance, "This team needed a pickup, and I am glad I could bring it. Got some great love from my teammates plus a weird call from a dude calling himself Brosh-Dog saying I'm 'in on clutchtrueyanks.biz,' whatever that means. Then I got a follow-up text saying not to tell Alex about clutchtrueyanks.biz because that would ruin it. Then I got some texts from my family. Then more texts about not telling Alex about some dumb website. Really though, I'm happy for the team and for Mo, that I'm able to give him a day off so he can come back strong. And also I think that website gave me a virus."
In case you were busy declaring that your rap career is one and done, here's what you missed in sports on Wednesday:
Matt Harvey dominated the Rockies, throwing a four-hit shutout as the Mets took down Colorado, 5-0. Harvey entered the postgame press conference wearing a fedora, sitting with confidence at the microphone to tell the following anecdote: "In all his years on the road, Mets scout Bryan Lambe had never seen an arm like the one he was watching that night. The comparisons were obvious but insufficient: A young Justin Verlander sprang to mind, but who would believe that this boy throwing in North Carolina's powder blue could manage the success the Tigers starter had? Sure enough, though, the thought was unshakable; this kid could be a star if he was taken care of. But that was the rub. The boy he was watching was on his 150th pitch. Was he some sort of magician with a rubber arm, or a ticking time bomb destined for the surgery table? Well, I think we have our answer. Because that young boy was Matt Harvey. And now you know, the rest of the story."
In case you were busy buying gray-market signatures of 20-year-olds off eBay, here's what you missed in sports last weekend:
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he has beleaguered slugger Alex Rodriguez penciled in to start Monday, despite rumors of an impending multiyear ban due to the use of performance-enhancing drugs. "Oh lord, Alex is a goner," said Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, outfitted in a garish naval uniform. "Girardi's pencil-ins are just a sack of lies. 'Sure Brian, I know you're down, hey, why don't we pencil in some time where you can come over and spend some time next Saturday on my boat with the family?' And then Friday rolls around and he texts me saying his daughter has 'scarlet fever,' and he'll pencil me in next month. Well, I showed him. I've been sleeping on his boat for weeks. Call me Captain Cashman." After a pause, Cashman bulged out his eyes and yelled, "Now! I'm your commanding officer!"
The Atlanta Braves stayed hot, winning their 10th straight game, 4-1, over Cliff Lee and the Philadelphia Phillies. Craig Kimbrel, who recorded the save while lowering his ERA to 1.25, said, "Remember when I looked mortal for a week back in early May? That was a test. Some of you passed. Some of you did not pass." When asked what he meant, Kimbrel looked serenely into the distance and said, "For all there is a time when judgment will come. I promise only that the believers shall be spared any suffering." Kimbrel then picked up a water bottle full of wine and smiled.
It's August, the worst month of the year! Time to shut your blinds, turn the air conditioner down to 56, and hibernate for 30 days with only baseball and unsweetened ice tea for companions. Here are the best ways to make it through the first weekend of Hell Month.
10. A-Rod A-Rod A-Rod A-Rod
He's holding down the no. 10 spot! The latest news in the suspension saga is that his talks with MLB have "stalled." I mean, how classic is that? A-Rod has literally no ground to stand on, and the only thing saving him from a lifetime ban is that it would be kind of embarrassing for Selig and baseball. But I bet he sauntered into the negotiating room thinking he could talk them down to 30 days and a small fine. "I'm going to drive a hard bargain," he probably said to himself, narrowing his eyes as he took a seat at the table. Man, A-Rod is the worst. The correct tactic was obviously to accept anything less than a lifetime ban, and then drop to his knees in thanks. Instead, he's screwing himself. I shouldn't be surprised, but somehow he has managed to baffle me again.
In case you were busy becoming an expert on the recovery period for hip surgeries, here's what you missed in sports on Tuesday:
The Red Sox bolstered their rotation before the trade deadline, acquiring former Cy Young winner Jake Peavy from the Chicago White Sox in a three-team deal. When asked if he was worried about the pressure of playing in Boston, Peavy responded gravely, "Yes. Terrified. Everything changes. I've spent the last couple of hours weeping into this bucket. Look at it!" Peavy then held up an empty bucket, before adding, "Of course I dumped out the bucket before I came out here. I'm not a weirdo."
Mark Ellis hit a walk-off single and the Dodgers kept on rolling, edging past the New York Yankees, 3-2, and improving to 27-6 over their past 33 games. The hit extended Ellis's hit streak to 11 games, a run he credits to "not having anything to do with hallucinogenic drugs, why is everyone asking me that? Of course I'm not tripping at the plate. That would have made this impossible I would imagine." Ellis then furrowed his brow and asked, "Is this because of that honorary doctorate I got in June?"
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.
Thursday, July 18: Last Day of All-Star Break
The second half's a fresh start. Not just for me, but for the team. Maybe we didn't have the best first half, but considering all the adversity this team's dealt with — the unbelievable amount of injuries, all the part-time players trying their best to be everyday guys, the absence of a Captain in the dugout — you have to be optimistic about where things stand. No, we're not in first, and anything less than first place is an unacceptable position that makes you sick to your stomach just to think about it, but I've said it before and I'll say it again now: The standings don't count until September. It's a fact. They're not going to pick the playoff teams tomorrow. They pick them more than two months from now, at the end of the season, after all the games have been played on the field and not in the minds of people who think they know what's going to happen. If you could predict baseball, you could make a lot of money in Vegas. You hate to encourage people to bet on sports, but if I were the betting type (and I'm not because that's not the kind of thing an active player should be involved with in any form), I'd probably risk my life savings on the Yankees being there in September. Look at the playoffs since 1995.
Always bet on pinstripes.
Again, I'm not suggesting anyone gamble. This is just a rhetorical kind of betting situation.
In case you were busy giving birth to an heir to a throne (hey, Kate, what's up?) here's what you missed in sports on Monday:
If your favorite sports news is depressing drug suspension news, well, you're in luck, because Denver Broncos' defensive superstar Von Miller is reportedly facing a four-game suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy. Good for you, person who likes depressing news. Today is a great day to say about your favorite professional athlete, with a smug shake of the head, that "Everybody's doing it, it's just a matter of time until they're all caught." Me? I'm going to continue to live in denial, and will be literally burying my head in sand and living off nothing but hermit crab meat until this case is overturned as it inevitably, rightly, and irrevocably will be. Moving on, forever, surely …
Oh, we're not moving on? No? OK. Brewers star and former NL MVP Ryan Braun has accepted a 65-game suspension for his violation of the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs both due to his role in the Biogenesis scandal and for previous statements related to his rescinded suspension before the 2012 season. Guys, you know that we here at About Last Night are all about fostering debate with regards to the biggest sports stories of the day, and this is no exception. I mean, are we really sure that Braun is guilty here? Really? What evidence do we really have? We have a positive test that was overturned because of improper handling. Stricken from the record. Then he have his name written down on paper at a Florida anti-aging clinic. Everything about those words is too sketchy to be believed. Anti-aging clinic? Florida? Handwritten notes? Come on. Handwritten notes? Seriously? What year is this? And finally we have a confession. But do we really know that no one has entered Braun's dreams, planted the idea of taking steroids deep within his subconscious, tricking his now conscious mind into believing that, despite a lifetime of clean living, he has used illegal performance-enhancing drugs? Do we really know? And if we think we know, can we really be sure that our knowledge wasn't planted in our minds by dream invaders out to take control of our family's massive wealth in a Braun-related scheme so convoluted that it is totally impossible to comprehend? Can we really be sure? Really? Checkmate.