FROM THE OBSERVATION DECK
Just a few observations from the sports world this morning, the first one from my “I told you so” file.
I did mention more than once that perhaps the best thing that happened to the New York Yankees this season was the loss of rotation ace C C Sabathia to the disabled list. The reasoning was simple. Sabathia had become an ace in name only, and that, and his salary, made it impossible for the Yanks to remove him from the rotation. Every time out he had enough good innings to have the Yankee brass hoping he was turning a corner in his new incarnation, no longer the hard thrower who blew batters away, the pitcher trying to think his way around decreased velocity with a new repertoire of money pitches. Unfortunately, every time out he had enough bad innings that the Yanks couldn’t score enough runs to win behind him. There was only one way for the Yankees to stop the bleeding, an injury to C C and a trip to the D.L. Enter a prospect from Scranton, Chase Whitley. The Yanks broke him in slowly, on a pitch count that kept him below five innings and kept him from notching wins, but in his last four games he’s averaged more than six innings per and he now has a 2-0 record with an era below 2.4. Last night he went 7-2/3 in a win over the Mariners. The Yankees are 5-1 in Whitley’s six starts and he and Masahiro Tanaka are the primary reasons they’re just 3-1/2 games back in the American League East despite having three of their original five starters on the disabled list, one gone for the season. By the time C C is ready to return Whitley is likely to have secured his spot in the rotation.
Both the Miami Heat and New York Rangers are in “can’t win” situations in their respective league championship series. The Heat can’t win because nobody in their situation ever has. They trail the San Antonio Spurs 3-1 in the NBA title round. In 31 tries no team has ever come back from that deficit to win the series. The Spurs have had 3-1 playoff series leads 10 times under Greg Popovich. They’re 10-0. The Rangers can’t win because only once has a team in their situation come back to win the NHL Stanley Cup final, and that was 72 years ago. The Rangers trail the Los Angeles Kings three games to one. The leaders are the home teams for game five in both series. I will say this, the Heat have LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh and back to back titles. The Kings have a great goalie in Hamden’s Jonathan Quick, but he has been known to give up a bad goal or two, which he hasn’t done so far in this series. If the Heat and Rangers get their series back home for game six all bets are off.
If the U.S. team loses to Ghana in it’s opening group match at the World Cup Soccer Tournament on Monday U.S. soccer fans are likely to spend the rest of the tournament paying more attention to the national protests over the cost Brazil went to to stage the games and the complaints about incomplete preparations than to the games themselves. If they lose to Ghana already very tough games against Portugal and Germany become even tougher. Yesterday the U.S. team called off a scheduled “friendly” over traffic concerns in downtown Sao Paolo.
The new hazards at Pinehurst #2, the sand fields planted with vegetation, don’t seem to be as hard for the golfers to get out of as they thought, and it’s hard to tell where they end and where the fairway begins. A couple times in round one it looked like someone may have grounded a club in a hazard, shades of Dustin Johnson at the PGA Championship.
With a few observations from the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.