Last night, I met a friend at Professor Thom’s in New York City to grab a beer. As you might imagine, it didn’t take long for a Professor Thom’s employee to bring up the Red Sox.
“We can put the Sox on whatever TV you want,” he said as I sat down at the bar, between two televisions. I ordered and explained that I was actually a Royals fan, but that he shouldn’t sweat it, because they were in Seattle and wouldn’t be on until 10.
In case you were busy doubling down on a profanity-laced tirade against your own fans, here's what you missed in sports on Monday:
Rookie running back Giovani Bernard had two touchdowns as the Cincinnati Bengals dropped the Pittsburgh Steelers to 0-2 for the first time in the Mike Tomlin era with a 20-10 win. "The guy from The Other Sister! You gotta be kidding me," Pittsburgh defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said to Tomlin over his headset after Bernard's first touchdown. A confused Tomlin asked LeBeau what he was talking about, to which the renowned defensive coordinator responded, "I thought it was crazy too! Why would Marvin Lewis bring him in? He was wooden in Avatar, and I hear his new show, Dads, is terrible. I mean he wasn't bad in Saving Private Ryan, but he hardly struck me as an athlete, and that was long enough ago the Bengals still had Ickey Woods at the position. Guy's gotta be pushing 40." When Tomlin then asked LeBeau if he had confused rookie speedster Giovani Bernard with Boiler Room star Giovanni Ribisi, LeBeau went silent for 60 seconds before saying, "So, we might not have the schemes in place to stop this guy."
After a weather delay postponed the final round of the BMW Championship, Zach Johnson fired a 65 to outpace Jim Furyk and Nick Watney, winning the tournament at 16-under. "Man, what a super tournament," Johnson said after surging from behind to take the win. "Just a really sweet victory. And it's my title at 16-under. My super, sweet, 16 under wait that's not on tape is it? Shit."
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.
In 2012, the Kansas City Royals stunk. This was not at all surprising. They had stunk for eight years in a row before that, with 2012's lousy showing making it 18 out of 19 years of baseball that emitted a foul odor.
Understandably, this did not sit well with the people who run the Royals. In an effort to stink less, general manager Dayton Moore made some bold moves over the winter. The boldest was a blockbuster trade that sent one of the best prospects in the game, Wil Myers, plus three more prospects, to Tampa Bay in exchange for one of the best right-handed starters in the game, James Shields (and another pitcher). The deal slammed a wedge through the middle of the baseball community, its defenders hailing it as the big move the Royals needed to make, its detractors wondering if there might've been better ways to improve the pitching staff than trading away a potential impact player who had six-plus years of team control to offer and played a position where the Royals badly needed the help.
Seven months later, the Royals still stink. They stink a little less than they have in recent years, sitting six games under .500 but with just eight more runs allowed than scored. Still, 92 games into what was supposed to be a renaissance year for the franchise, KC's grand plan to return to relevance has produced nothing more than another losing team. Here's Dayton Moore in today's K.C. Star being completely delusional (or at least posturing). That lack of progress has led Moore critics to fire away at the architect of this losing team. Which is fine, in general; when a team disappoints, the person most responsible for building it deserves his share of blame.
There's something about big-league debuts in baseball that makes them different than first games in any sport. Maybe it's the anticipation built up through years of minor league toil. Maybe it's the wide range of possible outcomes, from no-hitters to Golden Sombreros. From Junior to Strasmas, baseball fans know to drop everything when a big-time rookie finally gets the call.
The promotions of Wil Myers and Zack Wheeler garnered a tiny fraction of the buzz reserved for the likes of Stephen Strasburg and Ken Griffey Jr. — rightfully so. But with both players getting their first taste of the show on the same day, there was no way we weren't going to watch.
Our thoughts are with all those affected by the bombings at the Boston Marathon. There was a baseball game played at Fenway Park a little earlier in the day, so we'll do our best to provide some analysis.
Trailing by a run entering the ninth inning of Monday's game, the Tampa Bay Rays started to rally. Leadoff hitter Desmond Jennings led off with a clean single. Rather than foolishly try to bunt him over, Ben Zobrist got to swing away. After Jennings stole second, Zobrist lashed a single to left, scoring Jennings and tying the game. An ill-advised throw allowed Zobrist to advance to second, bringing the 3-4-5 hitters to the plate with a chance to take the lead. When Evan Longoria worked the count full, it looked like good things were about to happen.
But this is the Tampa Bay Rays' offense, the Hindenburg of the American League so far this season. Andrew Bailey threw a pitch out of the zone, Longoria failed to check his swing, and he struck out. Then Matt Joyce, who has looked lost at the plate since Opening Day, struck out looking. Finally Ryan Roberts, who has no business batting in any high-leverage situation against a right-handed pitcher, popped out meekly to second. Three Boston batters later, the Red Sox walked off with the win.
This is the kind of winter it’s been for Kansas City sports fans: The Chiefs just traded Wil Myers for Alex Smith.
At least it feels that way. It was barely two months ago that the Royals traded away half their farm system to the Tampa Bay Rays, including one of the best prospects in baseball in Myers, for a pair of established starting pitchers in James Shields and Wade Davis. Now comes the news that the Chiefs have acquired Smith from the San Francisco 49ers in exchange for their second-round pick — the second pick of the round — and a conditional mid-round pick in 2014.
Both teams had a glaring hole at a key position to fill, and to fill it, each paid a desperation surtax while daring to take on one of the shrewdest organizations in their respective sports. The Royals needlessly gave up the crown jewel of their farm system and nearly caused me a nervous breakdown.
I probably should be having the same reaction to the Alex Smith trade. I mean, he’s Alex Smith. The guy who was a historic mistake as the no. 1 overall pick in the 2005 draft, given that the next quarterback taken in that draft was Aaron Rodgers. The guy who, as a rookie, threw one touchdown and 11 interceptions. The guy who, due to injuries and ineffectiveness, has started more than 10 games just twice in his eight-year career. The guy who held a clipboard while Colin Kaepernick took the 49ers to the Super Bowl.
The blockbuster trade that swapped James Shields and Wade Davis for a package of prospects headed by Wil Myers has triggered more heated reactions than nearly any other deal in recent memory. The pro-Rays side sees Myers as a future superstar, one well worth a couple of years of Shields and whatever Davis has to offer — and that's without three more attractive prospects coming to Tampa Bay. The pro-Royals side backs the acquisition of Shields and Davis as a bold and necessary move for a team that hasn't made the playoffs in Felix Hernandez's lifetime.
Read those takes. Definitely read Rany Jazayerli's opus, which examines the trade from multiple angles, tying in the Royals' long history of losing, and how surrendering Wil Myers and three other young, cheap players with upside will likely do more harm than good. What got me thinking isn't player service time, the Royals' window of opportunity, Myers's swing plane, or the success rates for prospects — it's something far less specific.
It's the rigid and binary ways that we — fans, media, even general managers — think about team-building. And how the most effective decision-makers rarely consider only two possibilities when making a move.
As the Winter Meetings near their end here in Nashville, the latest buzz has Zack Greinke potentially going somewhere other than the Dodgers. Which seems impossible, really.
The team with unlimited money and both a need and desire for a top-flight pitcher to pair with Clayton Kershaw would seem unbeatable in any bidding war for the top free-agent starter on the market. But multiple theories have floated as to why a top-dollar offer to play for a glamour franchise might not be enough. The L.A. Times’s Dylan Hernandez notes the Dodgers' reluctance to include no-trade clauses as the reason Greinke might sign elsewhere for less money — and why alternatives such as Anibal Sanchez and Ryu Hyun-jin could also have second thoughts. (In the case of Hyun-jin, he'd return to South Korea, and the Dodgers would be refunded their $25.7 million posting fee, if the two sides can't come to an agreement by 2 p.m. Pacific time on Sunday). USA Today’s Bob Nightengale says Greinke's potential reluctance to go (back) to the L.A. area might simply have more to do with being more comfortable in Texas. Texas's more favorable tax code could help the Rangers, too.