There is a first time for everything; so here is a first for these rants. Today’s opening topic involves the use of a foreign correspondent whose report is exclusive to The Sports Curmudgeon.
You may recall several weeks ago that I was in Dublin, Ireland and reported on the semi-final match of the UEFA Rugby Championship Tournament. When I left, I told my grandson that I would need him to give me a report on the final game because I would not be able to see it here in the US. It turns out that he could only watch the second half; nonetheless, here is his report on that second half of the match between Leinster and Saracens:
“I hear the first half was very tight and Leinster started strong with ten quick points but Saracens came back right before half time to tie it up😫. In the second half Leinster started on the back foot because in the words of my dad: ‘Saracens were 5-10 pounds heavier of muscle at every position and they were just as fast.’ That was basically the story of the second half with Leinster barely keeping Saracens from scoring until finally the Saracens scored off a penalty kick right after a try that was revued and overturned making it 13-10 Saracens😫. Leinster continued to battle being beaten back all the time until, finally, the Australian born Scott Fardy was given a yellow card for an atrocious offside and could not play for the next ten minutes. In that time Leinster were slowly pushed further and further back until finally Bobby Vunipola, a notorious English player hauled three defenders over the try-line with him making it 20-10 Saracens😫. Not much more happened in the game until the very end when Leinster pushed up the field in a final attempt to make the score more respectable than 20-10, which is quite pathetic in a final as big as this one, but were intercepted about ten seconds after normal time had ended so, obviously, Saracens kicked it out and in doing so ended my suffering.”
And there you have it from the keyboard of an 11-year old fan of Leinster Rugby Club. For the record, I know that I could not have written a game summary as good as that one when I was 11 years old. Since I may need to call upon his eyes and ears again, I will need to give him a nickname for here. Hmmm… I think I shall refer to him as The FOG – standing for The First and Only Grandson.
Moving on … In the NBA Western semi-finals, the Warriors eliminated the Rockets last weekend. The Warriors were playing without Kevin Durant and without Boogie Cousins. Steph Curry was virtually AWOL in the first half and then exploded in the second half scoring 33 points – 23 of those points coming in the 4th quarter. That game and that performance was worthy of note here but I think there is a bigger picture to consider.
We know that Kevin Durant, Boogie Cousins and Klay Thompson will be free agents for the Warriors; that will make for some anxious moments among that fanbase once free agency kicks in this summer. However, the free agency period may be equally interesting for the Rockets – a team that has been eliminated by the Warriors in the last two NBA playoffs.
It would be easy to say that if the Warriors lose all three free agents – getting nothing in return – that the Rockets would be poised to unseat them as the top-shelf team in the Western conference. But that may be too simplistic; consider:
- Folks who understand the NBA Salary Cap – I am NOT one of them – keep saying that the Rockets will be “over the cap” this summer and will not be able to afford any major addition(s) other than what they get from the draft down in the lower end of the first round.
- This year’s NBA regular season highlighted the significant improvement of the Nuggets, Clippers and Jazz in the West and it will be the Blazers who will take on the Warriors for the Western Conference Championship.
- Who’s to say that those three Warriors free agents will all leave the Western Conference? If any of them are added to the rosters of those contending teams in the west and the Rockets are unable to make any moves, it may be that the Rockets are not the heir apparent in the West.
- I wonder if the Rockets will try to do something unexpected over this summer…
Bob Molinaro had this comment in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot last week:
“Numbers game: When tempted to figure out how many games the Orioles are on pace to lose, I’m happy to be very bad at math.”
I doubt that he is bad at math; nevertheless, I am sufficiently good at math to tell you here that the Orioles project to lose 105 games this year with 75% of the season remaining. In no way should the team or the fans in Baltimore be happy about this situation, but I will point out that at this pace the 2019 Orioles will lose 10 fewer games than did the 2018 Orioles. Moreover, the 2018 Orioles were far and away the worst team in MLB last year. Given extrapolations from here to the end of the season, the Orioles will relinquish that label to the Miami Marlins who project to lose whopping 120 games this season.
Some perspective on that last set of extrapolations:
- The Orioles projection to lose 115 games last year and 105 this year is not nearly as bad as the consecutive seasons the Detroit Tigers suffered through in 2002 and 2003. The Tigers lost 106 games in 2002 and then followed that horrid season by losing 119 games in 2003.
- The Marlins would be on pace to challenge the then-expansion NY Mets for the worst season in modern MLB. In 1962, the Mets record was 40-120; that winning percentage is .250. [Mercifully, MLB did not bother to make-up those two remaining meaningless games on the schedule.]
- Notwithstanding the incompetence noted here, no team in 2019 is likely to come close to the ineptitude demonstrated by the Cleveland Spiders in 1899. That team played in the era of 154-game seasons; in 1899, the Spiders record was 30-124; that winning percentage was .194.
Finally, here is a comment on ineptitude from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times:
“Lions’ owner Martha Ford has ‘a lot less patience’ for mediocrity than her late husband did according to team president Rod Wood.
“And just to prove she’s serious, Ford immediately ordered a recall on the 2006, 2008 and 2009 models of the Lions.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………