In case you were busy letting down the thousands of people who retweeted you by not getting yourself arrested at a public event, here's what you missed in sports on Monday:
Despite being suspended for 211 games by Major League Baseball for violating the league's drug policy, Alex Rodriguez's appeal of the suspension allowed him to play his first game of the season, in which he went 1-for-4 in the Yankees' 8-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox. "Tough game, but it's good to be out there with all my friends, fighting the good fight," Rodriguez said as he sat desperately alone both physically and spiritually at the team's postgame press conference. "I'm at home when I'm with my teammates, and while I've made some mistakes, we all agree that the punishment I'm facing is unfair. Right guys?" Rodriguez then nodded confidently while saying, "Sure thing, Alex. With you to the end," in a falsetto out of the corner of his mouth. Rodriguez then pulled out an acoustic guitar, and yelled, "OK boys, all together now," before launching into an off-key rendition of "This Land Is Your Land."
In more positive baseball news, Jeremy Guthrie threw a shutout while Kansas City's offense exploded in a 13-0 win over the Minnesota Twins. Guthrie, despite the win, was fuming after the game, saying, "'This Land Is Your Land'? Seriously? Son of a bitch besmirches the game, and now he besmirches my family's good name? He better hope he's suspended before the next time we face the Yanks."
In case you were busy consolidating power by any means necessary to be prepared for the upcoming console wars, here's what you missed in sports on Tuesday:
In a series filled with future Hall of Famers, it was the play of Gary Neal and Danny Green, who scored a combined 51 points while going 13-for-19 from beyond the arc, that led the San Antonio Spurs to a 113-77 win over the Miami Heat in Game 3 of the NBA Finals. Somewhere out in the vast expanses of America, a curmudgeonly sports reporter sitting on his porch licks two fingers and holds them aloft. "The winds are turning again," he says to himself with a wry smile. "Oh, LeBron, your time has come." And the words will start coming together in his head, but he'll need a deeper source of inspiration. "Honey, can you throw some pretzels in a bowl?," he'll yell back into his two-story Craftsman home. "And throw some popcorn in there, too. And maybe some fish that hasn't been deboned." And his wife will pop her head out of the screen door and ask, "Is this what I think it is?" And he'll nod sagely, and whisper "choking season." And she'll ask if he's sure, and he won't turn to face her, but will say again, "LeBron choking season," and his words will be taken by the wind, and his wife will know that he'll be up working late, divining the perfect phrase to describe how the psychology of the world's greatest basketball player will always betray his talent. And the wind will sing "chokeastrophic" as it swirls through the branches of the oak trees of America. And maybe, just maybe, we'll get our values back.
Jozy Altidore and Eddie Johnson both scored as Jurgen Klinsmann's U.S. men's national team got a critical 2-0 win over Panama in Seattle as they moved atop the CONCACAF standings for World Cup qualifying. The match was the most complete effort by the USMNT during Klinsmann's tenure, leading the crowd to chant, "Klinsmann, a plan, a canal, pan nam snilk," in an ill-conceived attempt to honor the former German striker through palindrome.
In case you were busy weighing the pros and cons of employing Vinny Del Negro at your place of business, here's what you missed in sports on Wednesday:
Dwyane Wade was scintillating down the stretch as the Miami Heat moved on to the Eastern Conference finals after a 94-91 win eliminated the Chicago Bulls from the NBA playoffs. After the game, Bulls point guard Derrick Rose did a teleconferenced interview from his home, saying, "Oh no! I was ready to go tomorrow! What are the odds? Come on guys, we had this! Oh well, guess I got to shut it back down." Just as the feed went out, the camera trained on Rose zoomed out to reveal a shoddy backdrop of a Chicago home in the middle of a sunny beach locale, with Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich in the background drinking extravagantly large blended drinks.
The top seed in the West has fallen as the Memphis Grizzlies ousted the Oklahoma City Thunder with an 88-84 win. Meanwhile, in Blaine, Washington, Chad McFadden, a man whose allegiances were as divided as his geographic proximity to Vancouver and Seattle, awoke up from a decadelong coma. Bleary-eyed and confused, he cheered the Grizzlies win while lamenting that what seemed to be the Sonics were once again unable to make the Finals as the top seed. "I remember '94, before there even was a Grizzlies team to spit my affection wait what the hell is this? WHAT THE HELL IS THIS? SOMEONE EXPLAIN TO ME WHAT HAPPENED! THE ONLY PERSON I RECOGNIZE IS BRYANT BIG COUNTRY REEVES!" But it wasn't Bryant Reeves at all that he recognized, and when McFadden was told that he was watching Pau Gasol's little brother dominate defensively for the Memphis Grizzlies against an Oklahoma City Thunder team that had once been the Sonics, McFadden lost consciousness again.
Zack Greinke's out until June, Carlos Quentin has caused 1,000 "What did they teach you at Stanford??" jokes, and everyone else is trying to sort out what happened. We're half a day past the Petco Punchout, still trying to figure out what the final fallout will be.
If you missed it, Quentin came to the plate leading off the bottom of the sixth inning of last night's Dodgers-Padres game. With the count 3-2, Greinke threw an 89-mph fastball, hitting Quentin in the left arm. To narrate everything that happened next, let's bring in the great Vin Scully:
The news started filtering in late Monday morning. Zack Greinke, the Dodgers' $147 million winter pickup, the biggest signing of the offseason, and the biggest signing ever for a right-handed pitcher, was scratched from his start, and would be flying to L.A. to have his elbow examined. Just like that, the promise of a potential World Series run this season appeared to go up in smoke.
Hours later, we got the update. Greinke wasn't headed for Tommy John surgery. He had an inflamed elbow, one that would warrant two or three days of rest followed by a return to a progressive throwing program and a return to the mound in the relatively near future. That report calmed a lot of jangled Dodgers fan nerves. But the Greinke scare also underscored what figures to be a recurring theme in 2013: Even with a $220 million payroll, the Dodgers' season could be hanging by a thread.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Monday.
In a battle of top AFC teams, Tom Brady threw for 296 yards and four touchdowns as the Patriots routed the Texans, 42-14. In a rare display of public emotion, Bill Belichick told reporters that putting the damper on a feel-good story like the Texans was "better than Viagra."
After an endless stream of rumors pegging the Rangers as favorites to land Zack Greinke, the top free-agent pitcher on the market landed with the team we all should have expected — the bottomless-pocketed, spending-mad Los Angeles Dodgers.
Greinke's six-year, $147 million contract is just the latest in a long line of huge deals doled out by the Dodgers in the 18 months since they filed for bankruptcy. The magnitude of the signing, the Dodgers' unprecedented largesse, and the many events about to unfold leave us pondering the deal's many implications. Fifteen of them, actually:
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.
In acquiring Zack Greinke from the Brewers for three prospects, the Angels now have an argument for the best rotation in baseball. Better still, even if his first start ended in a 2-0 loss to the Rays, the Angels outfoxed their archrivals and improved their chances at a deep playoff run.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on over the weekend.
In their first duel of the Olympics, Ryan Lochte dominated Michael Phelps to take gold in the 400-meter individual medley. "Sure, Ryan swam well," said an irritated Phelps, defending his legacy, "but has he ever mated with a dolphin? Because I have. I mated with a damn dolphin, and she came on to me."
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Thursday.
Brewers GM Doug Melvin said that his team will trade Zack Greinke before next Tuesday's deadline. He called up his friend Billy Beane to ask if it sounded desperate, and Beane was like, "yeah a little desperate. Want me to take him off your hands to help you save face?" Melvin teared up. "Thank you. You're such a good friend."
We've officially entered the crazy times leading up to baseball's trade deadline. Luckily, ESPN.com's Jayson Stark is on the case. He and Jonah Keri break down the big moves of the past 24 hours, including Cole Hamels's new mega-contract with the Phillies, Hanley Ramirez's trade to the Dodgers, and the Pirates(!) making a go-for-it move in landing Wandy Rodriguez. Also discussed: the Rangers-Angels arms race, the Yankees' injury woes, and the status of Zack Greinke, James Shields, Matt Garza, Chase Headley, and other fine, baseball-playing blokes.
Jonah Keri talks to ESPN's Buster Olney about the ticking time bomb that is the MLB trade deadline. Could Cole Hamels stay a Phillie? Why aren't more teams interested in Zack Greinke? Where might Justin Upton land? What do the Tigers, Red Sox, and Dodgers have in common? And what do the many teams stuck in the vast middle do, with the siren song of a second wild card calling? Jonah then checks in with NFL.com's Dave Dameshek on his beloved Pittsburgh Pirates, and the fantasy league to end all fantasy leagues.
Here are the most compelling matchups, stories, and personalities in Major League Baseball for the coming weekend.
The extended All-Star break is officially the worst development in American sports. What am I supposed to do with my life? Actually go outside? No thanks. The only time I want to go outside is if there's an outdoor TV showing baseball. And even then, why not bring the TV inside where there are chips? Baseball players are selfish and should be forced to play tripleheaders for the rest of the season.