In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports over the weekend.
The San Francisco Giants are World Series champions. Marco Scutaro hit the go-ahead single with two outs in the 10th inning as the Giants beat the Tigers 4-3 to sweep the series. Pablo Sandoval, who hit .500 in 16 at-bats with three home runs, a double, and four RBIs, was named the Series MVP. "Total bullshit!" said delusional Tigers outfielder Andy Dirks, who got his first hit of the series in the sixth inning of Game 4. "The MVP is so political now. It's all about who you know."
We hear it time and time again in baseball. A team's struggling, looking for a spark. To snap out of that funk, someone needs to make something happen. A bunt, a steal, a bit of baserunning derring-do. Anything to get the ball club going.
The Tigers got blown out in Game 1 of the World Series, with Barry Zito and Tim Lincecum neutering the big bats. So when Delmon Young doubled into the left-field corner with Prince Fielder on first and nobody out in the second inning of Game 2, third-base coach Gene Lamont sized up the situation, then sent the big man careering toward home. Gregor Blanco fired the ball to Marco Scutaro, who heaved a perfect relay throw to Buster Posey, who applied a terrific sweep tag on Fielder's foot, nailing him a split-second before he touched the plate. Madison Bumgarner wiggled out of the inning from there, and the Tigers never got that close again, pushing just one other runner as far as second base.
Thoughts on the Giants' 8-3 walloping of Detroit in Game 1 of the World Series while wondering if we just found our best tweet of the postseason
BABE RUTH, REGGIE JACKSON, ALBERT PUJOLS AND PABLO SANDOVAL
Kung Fu Panda became just the fourth player in major league history to hit three homers in a World Series game. That he did it in 2012's stingiest home run park makes the feat all the more remarkable. That he did it against the best pitcher on the planet makes it nearly unbelievable. Seeing the pitches that he hit and how he hit them makes you think you've just seen the impossible.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Wednesday.
Pablo Sandoval, the Kung Fu Panda, became the fourth player in MLB history to hit three home runs in a World Series game, and the Giants roughed up Justin Verlander to take Game 1 8-3. Tigers manager Jim Leyland was upset at his ace. "We told Justin that even though he may look soft and cuddly — especially when he's curled up around a bamboo shoot — he's a very dangerous creature when approached," Leyland said. "He didn't listen. There have been over 15 incidents of Kung Fu Panda home run violence this year alone, and most of them could have been avoided with a little pitcher caution."
Hey, Red Sox fans! Does the adorable nature of this video make Bill Buckner's error in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series any more digestible? Does the fact that these Kenyan schoolchildren still possess the childlike wonder with which most of us once looked at baseball make it any less difficult to accept the fact that sometimes even the pros make mistakes? No? Yeah, that's what I thought.
For the past several years my two favorite Jesuses have been my landscaper and the Jesus who gives rappers MTV awards. But look out! There's a new Jesus in town and this guy fucking loves sports. I know this by how many people I see praying to him during various tense moments at sporting events. This year's World Series was a phenomenal affair full of hits, strikeouts, home runs, facial hair, ugly necklaces, and some major league praying by the Texas Ranger and St. Louis Cardinal fans. I almost feel silly for saving my prayers for things like the safety and health of my family and friends or the desire for peace in our world. I had no idea I could be praying for Juan Pablo Montoya (my favorite driver, yes I like NASCAR, get over it) to win races or praying for the Houston Astros to not suck. I feel like such a idiot. Now, I always kind of assumed Jesus was a sports nut since he gave so many athletes the ability to jump, run fast, knock up chicks, and catch sports balls, so why wouldn't he want to see an exciting World Series that goes to a Game 7?
I'm not 100 percent sure how sports prayers work, so I'm just gonna make some shit up. My most important finding: people who have cameras on them at the games have more pull than the people at home praying. Clearly more St. Louis Cardinals fans were praying than Texas Ranger fans because the Cardinals won the World Series. I really wanted the Rangers to win (because I'm from Texas), but I think I used up all my prayer points on the Turkey earthquake victims (which was so stupid of me). I was certain the Texas Rangers would end up winning the World Series, on account of Jesus' love for Dallas-based sports teams. It's long been said that Texas Stadium has an opening in the roof so that God can watch his favorite team play on Sundays (after church, of course). Then the Dallas Mavericks won the NBA championship this year, which made me believe fans of Dallas teams "sports pray" better than most other teams. (Of course, the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Lakers have some pretty good Jesus pull too. Rudy Giuliani and Jack Nicholson's prayers must count way more than the average fan because they've won so many championships, made so much money, and their players score crazy amounts of poon )
As Game 7 of the World Series ended and the St. Louis Cardinals became the 2011 World Series Champions, I imagined several Texas Ranger fans looking to the sky and asking Jesus why he would do this to them. Jesus knew how hard they had prayed for the outcome of a game children play to go their way. I know many Texas Ranger fans are questioning their faith now. The Rangers lost, the Cowboys season isn't going that great (See: the Eagles handing them their ass on Sunday night), and now the NBA is in a lockout so the Mavericks might not be able to win another championship. I'm beginning to really feel for fans of Dallas-based sports teams; probably ought to say a quick prayer for them. Seriously, I never understand why bad things happen to good people. Amen.
Jenny Johnson is a television news producer and comedy writer living in Houston, Texas. She's adorable, foul-mouthed and can do 20 girly-style push-ups. Follow Jenny's filthy humor on Twitter at @JennyJohnsonHi5
The multi-talented Joe Posnanski, writer and podcaster for Sports Illustrated and SI.com, joins the podcast this week. With a book about Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, we get JoePo's take on JoePa breaking the all-time Division I record for coaching wins. Poz then weighs in on the legacy of Eddie Robinson (the previous record-holder), the impact Joe and Sue Paterno have had on State College beyond the football field, and the unlikely success of this year's Nittany Lions team.
Then we dive into World Series talk. What the hell happened with BullpenPhoneGate? Where does Game 6 rank among the most exciting games of all-time? What did August 24 Joe Posnanski think about the Cardinals' World Series chances? Is it a good thing or a bad thing that the best team, more often than not, doesn't win the World Series anymore? Finally, Joe serves up some controversial Power Rankings, breaking down his top five sporting events to cover.
Talk about going out on top. Or at least going out the day after the parade celebrating your third World Series win as a manager and second in five years. According to reports, St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa has retired.
Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. made the announcement, saying, "Tony leaves behind a legacy of success that will always be remembered as one of the most successful eras in Cardinals history. I knew this day would come. I just hoped that it wouldn't."
Are the St. Louis Cardinals the most unlikely champions in baseball history?
They are the champions, let's start there. In toppling the Rangers 6-2 in Game 7, the Cardinals provided a fairly anticlimactic end to a riveting series, especially after a Game 6 best described as "How Did This Happen?"
Do you know who owns the Texas Rangers? Seriously, we’re really asking. Because so far, this is all we've got:
a) George W. Bush was involved (at some point there)
b) but not Mark Cuban (not ever)
c) and now it's not just Nolan Ryan (This probably comes as a surprise to anyone who has spent the 2011 World Series carefully tracking the Frowns of Nolan Ryan.)
It turns out the Rangers ownership is a complex and complicated saga. After about 198 hours of research, here's what we've figured out:
One of the greatest World Series games ever played was one of the worst I’d ever seen. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, and the St. Louis Cardinals down two runs, I turned the television off, more or less in disgust. I didn’t want to watch the inevitable. If you don’t see it, maybe it doesn’t happen! So when David Freese tripled to drive in Albert Pujols and Lance Berkman and tie the game, I was climbing into bed. By the time he hit a home run in the bottom of the 11th, I was deep asleep. I missed the most exciting sequence of events that sports has to offer.
I’m told this is a tragedy. My friends say they are sad for me. But I couldn’t be more thrilled.
For some time now, Lance Berkman has been in the category of athletes who genuinely believe they were as good as one of their more buzzed-about teammates. This fraternity of chip-on-shoulder athletes include:
Ron Harper, about Michael Jordan (false)
Morris Peterson, about LeBron James (delusional)
Terrell Owens, about Jerry Rice (not at anything)
Tom Brady, about Drew Bledsoe (absolutely)
Paul Kariya, about Teemu Selanne (DEBATABLE)
Lance is a two-time member of this club, first as an Astro with Jeff Bagwell and currently as a Cardinal with Albert Pujols. Comparing Bagwell and Pujols' numbers with Berkman, it seems insane for him to think he's as good, if not better. What's interesting, though, is that guys in this fraternity don't care about stats and accolades. They just know, deep down inside, they are better than anyone else in their respective sport, and there's nothing you can say to them to convince them feel otherwise. It may sound crazy, but it's also a fantastic way to approach your craft.
On Thursday night, Lance finally got the chance to show the world what he's known all along: Lance Berkman is the greatest baseball player of all time.
No more dragging yourself out of bed when it's still dark out. No more fighting through miles of traffic, everyone around you bound to the same schedule, stuffing muffins in their faces, spilling coffee on their laps, texting with one hand, driving with no hands. No risk of getting dumped or fired or scorned for being late. There are no deadlines. Only moments. Only possibilities.
You might go the rest of your life and never see a more perfect example of that existence than what happened last night. Only baseball could have made that happen.