In case you were busy regretting your attempt to introduce that exchange student living in your home to the joyful simplicity of America's pastime, here's what you missed in sports last weekend:
A weird weekend in the World Series left the Cardinals and Red Sox knotted at two games apiece, after Saturday's game ended on an obstruction call that handed St. Louis a 5-4 victory, and Sunday's game closed with a Koji Uehara pickoff in Boston's 4-2 win. "What a weekend!" declared MLB rules aficionado Peter Greggsman. "The only way it could have been better is if one of these stadiums had been a dome, so we could get some catwalk interference in there." Greggsman's demeanor then darkened, before he added, "The real tragedy though is that the World Series can't end on an infield fly call. No game can." Greggsman then pounded his fist on his Hardball Times Baseball Annual and cried to the heavens, "Oh founders of baseball, you've cursed us with the possibility of perfection, yet made it as impossible to witness as a local game without digital cable! Damn you apocryphal Abner Doubleday! Damn you straight to the fictional hell you belong in!"
Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson amassed 329 receiving yards, the second-most in NFL history behind former Rams receiver Flipper Anderson, as Detroit came from behind late to stun the Dallas Cowboys 31-30. Meanwhile, back at his New Jersey home, Anderson cracked a bottle of champagne as the game ended. Not because his record was preserved; that would be incredibly tacky. Who would do that? No, he popped a bottle of champagne because it pairs well with the panko-crusted halibut he whipped up for his wife as a special Sunday treat.
In case you were busy building something with your hands, ensconced in the majesty of nature, allowing the last rays of summer sun to shine down upon your shirtless back, like a nerd, here's what you missed in sports last weekend:
In a Sunday night NFC East battle, the Dallas Cowboys forced six turnovers en route to a 36-31 win over the New York Giants. Eli Manning was dejected after the game, saying, "I haven't had that many turnovers since Peyton was like, 'Eli, eat all of mom's turnovers before Archie gets back from work. He'll think it's so funny.'" Eli shook his head, and added sadly, "He didn't. Old man didn't even notice. No one ever notices Eli. No one'll ever care about Eli."
In the last scheduled meeting between two longtime rivals, Michigan outlasted the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame, 41-30, in Ann Arbor. "I mean, I never like losing, but it's not like they're really our rival," said Notre Dame fan Ashley O'Connell through a tightly clenched jaw. "I mean it's not like USC, or, um, Stanford; how are the Wolverines possibly our rival?" O'Connell went on to ask as she unconsciously gnawed on her already mangled thumbnail. "Really though, we have no rivals, so any loss is meaningless." O'Connell, satisfied with this line of reasoning, allowed herself a smile for the first time in 24 hours, as blood streamed out of both her ears.
In case you were busy squeezing in one last fantasy draft so that you could ironically take Mark Sanchez in the second round, here's what you missed in sports on Tuesday:
Jon Lester outdueled Max Scherzer, as the Red Sox beat the Tigers 2-1, denying Scherzer his 20th win. "I failed myself, I failed my family, and I failed my teammates," Scherzer said after the game, in which he held the best offense in baseball to two runs in seven innings while striking out eight. "Why didn't I pitch to the game score! I never would have allowed that two-RBI single had I just been pitching situationally!"
Serena Williams entered the semifinals of the U.S. Open in dominant form, after routing 18th-seeded Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain 6-0, 6-0. When asked if anyone in the field could even take a set off of her, a humble Serena responded, "On any day any of these women could beat me over three sets." When asked if any of them could beat her on a specific day, Williams shrugged and said, "Well, no. Maybe if the psychological impact of a really moving David Foster Wallace profile hit me? But he's dead, so, um, no."
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.
In case you were busy going another year without winning a major, here's what you missed in sports last weekend:
Despite Mariano Rivera's third consecutive blown save, the Yankees, powered by Alex Rodriguez's first home run of the season and Brett Gardner's walk-off, were able to beat the Tigers, 5-4, and salvage a series win. "I'm glad the team bailed me out. I just — I have no idea what's wrong with me," Rivera said as he stared into his locker, in which he had hung the parting gift he received earlier from Detroit, a case containing two airtight vials with dirt from the pitcher's mounds at Tiger Stadium and Comerica Park. Rivera then coughed deeply: "I feel weak, like I've been breathing wrong. Like somehow over these past few days poisonous vapors have leaked into my system, like another team wants me to be sick right now. I don't know, I'm probably just being crazy."
Jason Dufner won the PGA Championship at Oak Hill, outpacing veteran Jim Furyk and finishing 10-under for the tournament. "Some people argue the PGA Championship is the Jason Dufner of majors," Dufner said as he held the Wanamaker Trophy limply in front of him with a dead expression on his face. "To them I say, 'Yeah, you're kind of right, I guess.'"
In case you were busy mournfully firing off one last bottle rocket, here's what you missed in sports last weekend:
Phil Mickelson fired a final-round 66 to surge up a star-studded leaderboard and secure his first British Open championship, winning his fifth career major with a total score of 3-under at Muirfield. "I finally did it," Mickelson bellowed triumphantly. "I finally won the Open!" As people looked at him askance, Mickelson responded, "I said, I've. Finally. Won. The. Open. What about that is unclear? The monkey is off my back." When asked if he was serious, Mickelson replied, "The Open Championship is mine. Having never been mine before. What more need be said? Nothing. Ever. Now if someone could drive me home to California it would be greatly appreciated. Now."
The Boston Red Sox, behind a walk-off home run from Mike Napoli, took a weekend series off the New York Yankees by winning the rubber match, 8-7, in 11 innings. Adding injury to insult, an MRI revealed Alex Rodriguez suffered a Grade 1 quad strain, setting back his rehabilitation. "Oh, you don't say," replied Yankees general manager Brian Cashman while sipping a cup of tea alone in his office. "Well isn't that quite something. Yes indeed. Quite something." Cashman then let out a strange high-pitched giggle that his assistant GM regarded with some concern. When asked if he was OK, Cashman responded, "Oh quite all right. Never been better! Now if you'll just leave us to our tea party, you're offending my guests. Unless of course you'd like to join us? Forever?"
In case you were busy picking the wrong Leonardo DiCaprio movie to model your life after and can't get that damn iron mask off your face, here's what you missed in sports on Monday:
Bryce Harper marked his return from an extended layoff with a home run as the Washington Nationals topped the Milwaukee Brewers, 10-5. "Guys, I spent the time off really pushing things forward," Harper said of his rehab. "And I think I've got it: The Babe. Bryce 'The Babe' Harper. ’Cause I look good. You know. Like a babe." When told that nickname was taken, Harper replied, "Babe don't care. Now someone get me my favorite candy bar: Snickers. Ol' Bryce 'Snickers' Harper."
Manic Monday at the All England Club was headlined by a massive upset on the women's side as Serena Williams was beaten by Sabine Lisicki in a three-set thriller, 6-2, 1-6, 6-4. Well, it was a massive upset for those of you who don't really know women's tennis. [Quickly Googles "Lisicki."] I mean obviously she's a great grass-court player, and despite her low seed is an instant favorite to win the whole thing. Us real tennis fans know [clicks down an entry] that Sabine Lisicki is also both German and tall. [Bings "Lisicki."] Also, I think we all remember her work in Jerry Maguire wait
Up a set in the women’s final at Roland Garros, at 0-1 in the second, Serena Williams hit a hard serve down the T. Maria Sharapova whaled a backhand deep into the corner, the kind of return that only one of the best returners in the game can hit, the kind of return that would force an error or be an outright winner against most players. Serena lunged to her right and hit a half-volley from the baseline, swinging her racket up over her back, which was nearly parallel to the court. She looked like a sprinter exploding from the blocks — except that with her second step she skidded to a halt and changed directions, her navy skirt flying, her orange shorts beaming against the terre battue. She floated to the center of the baseline, somehow skimming the surface as lightly as the blown clay despite her strong build. She hit a standard, crushing forehand, her feet kicking slightly from right to left, and then another forehand, this time pulling Sharapova off the court — always a weak position for Maria — and forcing her to block back a backhand on the run, drawing a short ball. Williams closed toward the net and hit a bad drop shot. The ball sat up and Sharapova knocked a passing shot down the line — except that Serena was there for the volley. She flicked a lob that flew high over Sharapova and landed just inside the baseline. The crowd gasped and roared. Serena barely acknowledged the winner. I’ll bet she was thinking about that drop shot.
In case you were busy accidentally watching a performance art piece in which the notion of sports was approached from many perspectives without any sports actually happening, here's what you missed in sports last weekend:
The Miami Heat bounced back from their Game 1 defeat to even the NBA Finals with a 103-84 win over the San Antonio Spurs. Despite the win, questions must be asked of LeBron James, who was held to only 17 points, and I'm not afraid to be the one to take it right to James and throw it down, to split this whole issue wide open, so
OH ARE THERE QUESTIONS? LOOK AT THE RING ON MY FINGER AND ASK ME A QUESTION. HUH? WHAT QUESTION DO YOU HAVE TO ASK THE KING? IS IT "WHO BROKE INTO YOUR HOUSE AND ANSWERED ALL YOUR QUESTIONS?" BECAUSE I THINK THAT'S THE QUESTION YOU SHOULD BE ASKING.
Holy crap guys. I'm not positive, but based on the welt on my forehead and the above text, I think LeBron James just came out of nowhere, broke into my house, knocked me out, and typed up a vicious and unexpected rejection to my question. Well, um, asked and answered. I'm going to go lock my door. Moving on.
In case you were out playing it real cool about the NSA's newly revealed data-mining operations because you have nothing to hide, nope, nothing at all, here's what you missed in sports on Thursday:
Tim Duncan shook off a poor first quarter to post a double-double as the San Antonio Spurs stole home-court advantage in the NBA Finals with a 92-88 Game 1 win over the Miami Heat. Spurs point guard and noted Frenchman Tony Parker, who scored a game-clinching circus shot with 5.2 seconds remaining, said after the game, "You say this is a shot at a circus? Like I am some sort of sad clown, with a smile painted over downward-facing lips? You would misunderstand the meaning of both circus and sadness." Parker then pulled a pack of Gauloises from behind the ear of a reporter, and lit one using a match that he pulled from the mouth of the imaginary bird that follows him around before continuing, "Circuses are mere entertainment, and sadness is mere emotion, but both of those assume a world that is, how would you say it, existing in a reality that we can all access and accept." Parker then quickly shook his head and said "I do not accept" as the cigarette he was smoking disappeared from his mouth.
Stanford starting pitcher Mark Appel was chosen first overall in the Major League Baseball draft by the Houston Astros, a year after turning down the Pittsburgh Pirates, who drafted him eighth overall, and electing to return to school. When asked if he regretted his decision, Appel laughed. When asked the question again, Appel said, "Seriously? I spent the last year in Palo Alto instead of Altoona. I have a degree from Stanford. And I'm the top pick in the Major League Baseball draft. I even look a little like a Harbaugh. I spent the last year of my life becoming perfect. So, what do you think?" When asked again if he regretted his decision, Appel shook his head and walked away muttering about how hard it is to try to engage with the common man.
It wasn't unthinkable that Jo-Wilfried Tsonga could beat Roger Federer. On clay. In Paris. At Roland Garros. Maybe it was even likely. Tsonga is one of a handful of men who knows how to play Federer on any surface, how to stand strong under his relentlessness. But Federer relented quite a bit on Tuesday. He doesn't express much when he's losing badly, but when he does he makes the face old Parisian women make upon discovering that they've carelessly boarded the metro car with the busking accordionist. Tsonga wasn't electric against Federer. He didn't have to be: Federer was simply ordinary. They've called him FedEx for years. But Tuesday, he was FedUSPS.
In any case, now that he's gone, France is starting to believe that on the 30th anniversary of Yannick Noah's being the last of their countrymen to win the championship, Tsonga could be the next. (We'll see. If Andy Murray's Wimbledon frustrations indicate anything, it might just mean Tsonga will be the first Frenchperson to win the U.S. Open in August.) For three days, the sports shows and newspapers have quietly conjoined commemoration and speculation. Will Noah be there Friday to root Tsonga on against David Ferrer? Will Tsonga, who's seeded sixth, find the right game plan to stop Ferrer? Is the country even doing all it can to support and encourage its native son?
It can hurt to see someone in pain. It’s real, not metaphorical, and it’s strange. The flash of pain across a face can signal across the space between bodies and the other mind will flash like lightning in response. A faint rumble of pain follows like thunder. I can’t explain the mechanics. It has to do with mirror neurons or the somatosensory cortex or something. Your brain is fooled. Your heart tightens and your stomach jumps. If you’re like me, you might feel tears threaten your eyes. There is something ridiculous and egomaniacal about this. I was not injured watching Serena Williams play last night. But it hurt all the same.
In case you were out brainstorming baby names with Shakira and Gerard Pique last night, here's what you missed in sports on Tuesday.
American teenager Sloane Stephens upset Serena Williams at the Australian Open in an exhilarating, injury-plagued three-set thriller, 3-6, 7-5, 6-4. As the final shot was struck just before the clock struck midnight in New York, a hirsute figure scaled the walls of Arthur Ashe Stadium at the USTA National Tennis Center. "American tennis is dead! Long live American Tennis! American Tennis is dead! Long live American Tennis!" Was the figure that of Pete Sampras? Was it? Who could possibly know? (It was.)
At this very moment, there are no matches being played at the Australian Open. This is true for two reasons: (1) Everyone's asleep, because it's early in the morning, and (2) we, the East Coast liberal media elite, need time to write about what happened the day before without the distraction of amazing tennis matches.
The creators of the Australian Open, which is now more than 100 years old, knew that it was hard for American bloggers to write about tennis while tennis was taking place. Sure, writing about tennis is great, but at the end of the day, you'd rather be watching tennis.
Which is why, when the Internet gets ready for bed in the early evening, around 9 p.m. EST, the Australian Open wakes up.
It's perfect. Sure, you're kind of always between rounds, never really knowing who is at what stage, but that's fine. That's a completely manageable sacrifice to make for writing time, watching time, and (most importantly) no sleeping time.
In case you were out getting arrested while rehearsing your Les Misérables flash mob, here's what you missed in sports on Monday.
The Chicago Bulls held the Atlanta Hawks to 20 first-half points en route to a 97-58 win in Chicago. It was the fewest points the Hawks had scored in a game since 1955, the year the shot clock was introduced, when they scored just 57 against the Boston Celtics. "I can't believe you clowns," joked Bulls coach and amateur insult comic Tom Thibodeau after the game. "One fewer basket, and we would've really stuck it to that old nincompoop Red Auerbach. He hasn't been had that bad since someone replaced one of his stogies with an exploding cigar. I guess you kidders will just have to win nine championships now to make it up to me. Am I right? Now which of you buffoons wants to get silly and see this ol' wisecracker work out some new material down at the Chuckle Bin?" There were no immediate takers, but Thibodeau thought he could get Kirk Hinrich to bite if he picked up the tab on the club's two-drink minimum.
Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has been ruled out for the remainder of the postseason after reinjuring his broken arm in New England's game against Houston on Sunday. "I thought it was worth playing through it, and Coach thought playing was the right choice." Gronkowski said to the media. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick quickly interjected, "Thinks. Not thought. Coach thinks playing is the right choice."