Poor Charlie is still riding the Boston MTA because he does not have that extra nickel to get off that train. He is “the man who never returned” … I on the other hand am like “the bad penny”. No matter how often I go away, I always seem to turn up again. Like today …
While I have been in the industrialized world for the past 3 weeks – – two in Switzerland and one in Ireland – – I have been pretty much off the grid when it comes to US sports. In Switzerland tennis, skiing and golf seemed to dominate the sports news in the English language newspapers available. In Ireland, the only US sporting thing that mattered was the US Open golf tournament. As for things like the NBA Finals, only the injuries got any sort of mention; and with regard to MLB, they may just as well have been playing those games on one of the moons of Jupiter. I did not learn of the Anthony Davis trade to the Lakers until yesterday when I got a carry-on copy of USA Today for my flight home to the US.
So, piecing together the top-level view of what happened since I have been gone:
- When I left, the Phillies were leading the NL East by 1.5 games over the Braves. This morning, the Braves hold a 3-game lead in that division. There is still some suspense left here.
- When I left, the Cubs led the Brewers by a half-game and led the Cardinals by 4 games in the NL Central. Today the Brewers have a half-game lead over the Cubs with the Cardinals 2.5 games back. This division is going to be the most interesting races in MLB this year.
- When I left, the Dodgers led the D-Backs and the Padres by 8 games. This morning they lead both those teams by 10 games in the NL West. Call that division race over and done with.
- When I left, the Yankees led the Rays by 2.5 games and the Red Sox by 6.5 games in the AL East. Today the Rays trail by only 1.5 games and the Red Sox are 5.5 games out of first place. This division is where the AL focus should be for the rest of this season.
- When I left, the Twins had a 10-game lead over the Indians and that situation still pertains today. I guess the Twins might collapse but until this race gets closer than 5 games, I will pay a lot more attention to AL East than to this race.
- When I left, the Astros had a 6.5-game lead over the A’s – – and the A’s had just won 10 games in a row. Today the A’s are in 3rd place in the AL West 11 games behind the Astros and the Rangers have moved into second place there trailing the Astros by 8.5 games. The AL West race is – like the NL West race – over for the 2019 season.
The Women’s World Cup group play is underway, and the US Women have breezed through their first two games against Thailand and Chile. Next up for the US Women will be Sweden and that game will not be a cakewalk.
Everyone has proclaimed that the Lakers are the clear and definitive winners in the trade with the Pelicans for Anthony Davis. There is an adage in NBA circles that goes like this:
- Whenever a superstar is traded from one team to another, the team that loses the superstar loses the trade.
Well, the Pelicans traded away a superstar in Anthony Davis and what the got in return are 3 good-but-not-nearly great players in return (Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart and Brandon Ingram) and 3 first round picks from the Lakers that stretch out to the middle of the next decade. No one can reasonably say that the trade makes the Pelicans into a formidable threat to win the NBA West. The Lakers clearly improved – – but unlike most other commentators, I am not yet ready to announce that the Lakers are clearly the Best of the West. Next season may show that they are the best, but let me offer up 2 reasons to pump the brakes just a bit:
- Anthony Davis has been in the NBA for 7 seasons. In 2 of those seasons he played in 75 games meaning that he went through the season without any sort of injury. In the other 5 seasons, he has missed more than 15 games in each one of them. The Lakers need him to stay healthy enough to play well in at least 75 games.
- LeBron James’ season in 2018/19 can be viewed as an anomaly due to his groin injury or it might be seen as an indication that his career arc has leveled off. Recall when James returned that he announced that he was going into “championship mode” with his play and that would propel the Lakers into the playoffs where – he hinted – there might be surprises for other NBA West teams. That sounded great; problem is that it never came close to happening. “Championship mode” produced more losing for the Lakers and led to James being “shut down” before the regular season ended.
Time will reveal the winner and the loser in this trade – and the degree to which the win and the loss had a lasting effect on the two franchises. I do think, however, that there is a definitive loser in this trade and that loser is LaVar Ball. His dream was to have all three of his sons playing for Lakers’ championship teams. Lonzo got to wear the Lakers’ uniform but will not be doing so for the next several years; in terms of franchises and visibility, Lonzo Ball has just been sent to the NBA’s version of Elba.
Because ESPN’s NBA coverage dotes on the Lakers, there used to be a reason for ESPN to invite LaVar Ball to be a guest on one of their gabfests. I don’t see that happening very much over the next several years. I think the only way LaVar Ball’s dream of his three sons playing for the Lakers simultaneously would be if he sells a whole lot of those $500 sneakers and uses the profits to buy the Lakers and then signs up his sons to play for the team that he would obviously coach. I shan’t be holding my breath…
Finally, Brad Rock of the Deseret News had some bad news for some marathon runners recently:
“CNN says the Belfast City Marathon was more than a marathon. The lead car wandered off the official route, making the race three-tenths of a mile longer than regulation.
“Great. Now all those Volvo drivers have to change their window stickers from 26.2 to 26.5.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………