In case you were busy playing chess while everyone else was eating checkers, here's what you missed in sports on Wednesday:
Powered by a clutch Alex Gordon triple, the Kansas City Royals bagged their eighth consecutive win as they held off the Twins, 4-3, in Minnesota. "Vindicated!" yelled Royals general manager Dayton Moore from the top of the waterfall in and empty Kauffman Stadium, both of his arms raised above his head in triumph. "It was all worth it! All the wheeling! All the dealing! All worth it! We're atop the mountain! And nothing is going to bring us down! There shall be no consequences for our hubris!" In unrelated news, Wil Myers.
Clayton Kershaw threw eight magnificent innings, but, matched in brilliance by Hiroki Kuroda, his efforts were not enough as the Los Angeles Dodgers gave up three ninth-inning runs in a 3-0 loss to the New York Yankees. Mariano Rivera, who closed out the game with a 1-2-3 ninth inning, was given a fishing rod by Dodgers owner Magic Johnson as part of a pregame ceremony in honor of Rivera's career. "I know your dad was a fisherman, so I thought you'd like it," Johnson said as he handed over the rod and reel. "Um," Rivera said of the gift, pausing as he looked it over with a bit of a scowl. "No, it's, it's really nice. It's a really great rod. Anyone can see that." Johnson's face fell. "If you don't like it we can get you something else." Rivera forced a smile. "No, no, no. I like it. Look, it's all ready to go. I can't wait to get out on the boat and give it a whirl. No really. Really. Really, I like it. I do. I do like it. It's just. I — you know, I played baseball all these years so I wouldn't have to fish. But I like it. I do. Seriously. It's a really nice gift. Really nice."
The NHL trade deadline passed at 3 p.m. ET, and the biggest story might have been the player who wasn’t traded: Roberto Luongo will stay in Vancouver, despite the panic that started when he was pulled off the ice minutes before the deadline. He was clearly disappointed and didn’t mince words in a post-deadline press conference, explaining that “my contract sucks” and “I would scrap it now if I could.”
Much like their Northwest Division rival Denver Nuggets, the Utah Jazz are a collection of talented youngsters and productive veterans void of a superstar. Without a clear central figure, the pressure has been on head coach Ty Corbin to identify the best rotation of players that are, almost to a man, multi-talented but somewhat limited in some facet of the game.
The lineup data shows that the Jazz boast some downright awful five-man units, but they also have a few very productive ones. Injuries have forced the team into some tough spots this year, but among its roster, Utah may have the right combinations to seriously compete with the West’s elite rather than settling for a one-and-done stay in the playoffs. The main problem with that option is that it’s boring as hell.
Utah has multiple picks in next year’s first round, and and a few of those productive veterans — most notably Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap — are on expiring contracts. This makes the Jazz an ideal candidate for a big deadline move. By dealing one of their surplus big men to upgrade a backcourt in dire need of help (and making a few other small tweaks), the Jazz could become Denver 2.0 — a team that no one takes seriously as a Finals contender but that everyone wants to avoid in the postseason. To figure out how they might get there, I visited the trade machine and descended further into madness to whip up yet another ridiculous multi-team deal:
Monday is trade deadline day in the NHL. Or, as hockey fans call it: THE GREATEST DAY IN THE ENTIRE WORLD.
And with good reason. NHL trade deadline day is truly one of the most anticipated, ridiculously overhyped, and just downright fun days on the entire sports calendar.
If you’re a hockey fan, of course, you already knew that. If you’re not, and you’re wondering what all the fuss is about, here are a half-dozen important things you need to know about NHL trade deadline day.
As two good American hockey fans, Katie Baker and Craig Custance couldn't let this week pass by without marking the 32nd anniversary of the Miracle on Ice. In this podcast, they are joined by Dave Ogrean, who was a young public relations guy for USA Hockey during the 1980 Olympic Games. (He's now the executive director of USA Hockey.) They discuss the historic game, Ogrean's patriotic solution to a case of mistaken identity, and his thoughts on whether the NHL should let its players continue to play in the Olympics.
With the NHL trade deadline looming, Katie and Craig also talk about the ongoing Rick Nash trade sweepstakes (and whether Columbus should be trading him at all!) and run through the state of a few teams that are flailing around — and some that are flying high.
Jon Daniels should have known better. The Texas Rangers GM was hunting for relief help at the deadline, so he reportedly buzzed his Cubs counterpart, Jim Hendry, to see about Carlos Marmol. Marmol was having a good enough season, albeit down from his huge 2010. Maybe Hendry would be amenable to a trade.
Hell, no. Which makes sense, because you can't just call up a team 15.5 games out of first place and 21 games below .500 (now 16.5 and 22) and ask about their ninth-inning guy. There’s no position more important for a team going nowhere than someone to close out their meaningless games, especially when it costs only the $18 million that Marmol is set to make through the end of 2013. Wait, no, none of that makes any sense at all. Unless you believe the Cubs are about to roll up a 25-game winning streak and get right back in this thing. In which case, piss off, Jon Daniels!
Chicago's refusal to trade Marmol was just one example of its bone-headed, and completely dumbfounding, intransigence.