Thursday, May 27, 2010

Bring Two for the Sandman, a Break for the Suns

I'm pretty proud of that post title, in case you were wondering. Which is a little piece of positivity I'll be clinging to, because the more I look at it, the less clever it seems. (It's a reference to the Cat Stevens song, by the by.) And now, seconds later, the 'pretty proud' stuff looks sort of pathetic. Uh-oh...I'm having a self-esteem crisis in the first paragraph. Rescue me, Yusef Islam:

That's one minute of music I could listen to about 800 times in a row.

So. Two for the Sandman. That's two saves in a single day for the Everlasting Mariano, one of the greatest pitchers in the history of baseball. And it's not the first time he's managed the feat; in fact, it's the sixth. He even did it in two stadiums once, in a subway series doubleheader on July 28, 2000, which must be the only time that's ever happened.

I was at a play in the Village last night ("Our Town" at the Barrow St. Theatre, which I highly recommend to New York readers), but my stepfather called almost as soon as I'd stepped out and told me I missed the best game of the year. Andy was awesome, going 8 innings in just 94 pitches, and working out of several jams along the way. Kevin Russo came up with two huge hits and was responsible for two of the three Yankee runs, and Swishalicious hit a game-winning no-bullshit absolute bomb in the top of the 9th with two outs. It seems I missed a good one.

In the first game, resumed from Monday's suspended action, Jeter's sixth-inning home run was the difference in a 1-0 win. He also made one of his trademark jump throws to help Robertson out of a jam in the bottom half of that inning.

Here's something interesting: both times the Yanks made their first visit to new Minnesota stadiums (Metropolitan Stadium in 1961 and the Metrodome in 1982), they earned a 3-game sweep. Tomorrow, they go for the trifecta at Target Field. Which, by the way, seems like a really great place.

Moving on to hoops:

Orlando is pretty close to making NBA history. Trailing 3-0, they've clawed back to 3-2, and only have to steal one more win in Boston to earn a game 7 at home. Only one team in history has ever even pushed a series to game 7 from a 3-0 deficit, and no team has won the series.

In some sense, Orlando has already forced game 7. The theory here is that game 6, in Boston, is basically game 7. If the Celts lose, they'll have no momentum, no confidence, and seemingly no chance to salvage the series in Florida. In addition, it looks like Kendrick Perkins will face a one-game suspension for reaching a playoff technical foul limit (7). That's a huge deal for a team whose strategy thus far has been to throw a lot of bodies at Dwight Howard. To add injuries to insult, Glen Davis took a concussion from a Dwight Howard elbow and Rasheed Wallace has a tweaked back. That leaves only one option for the Celts at center:


Do us proud, Shelden! I hope Game 6 somehow comes down to a duel between he and Redick (impossible), and right before JJ hits the game-winning shot, he looks right at his former teammate and goes "you know what, Shelden? I never liked you."


Seriously, though, it will take a gritty effort from Boston to win what looked like a gimme series. Much as I despise them, gritty is what they do best. But Orlando smells blood, and history, and they will be looking for a knock-out punch. Game 6 might be one of the best games of the year.

*Tonight, game 5 between Phoenix and LA happens. My friend Spike is a lifelong Laker hater, and is convinced that Los Suns will break everyone's heart by winning game 5, elevating the hopes of a nation, and then blowing the last two. Keep an eye on that.


*The Red Sox swept the Rays, who may be coming back to Earth. I'm gonna steal some content from my message board, without credit (all I know is that the poster's name is "Aeromac") or shame, and without editing:


The Yankees have played opponents with combined winning % of .518. That is the third toughest schedule in the game to start the season thus far. Due to that, the RPI (opposition winning % weighted) of the Yankees is 0.536. To boot, TB, everybody's darling, is .539, and TB's opposition winning % is .476, the worst opposition winning % in baseball. Boston has had the toughest schedule in baseball.
In other words, TB is good, but if you look closely, all they have done is trample bad teams for two months. Now they should do that, but unless everyone expects them to play .650 against the Yankees, Sox, Detroit and Minnesota the rest of the way, I have two words for you, Market Correction.

And by the way looking at injuries and ineffectiveness and SOS, and how all of that will turn, it might just show that Boston is still the more worrisome foe than Tampa.

My only qualm with that is that Tampa's starting pitching will probably be pretty awesome regardless of who they're playing. But they certainly didn't show it against Boston, so who knows?

*Ubaldo Jimenez is 9-1 with a 0.88 ERA. Even in the NL West, that's kinda nuts.

*Rafa admitted to nerves during his first round match. It's raining in Paris, but he's set to take on Argentina's Horacio Zaballos in the 5th match on Chatrier today.

World Cup nonsense later. June's around the bend. 211.

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