06.03.19: Five things you should plan for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance

black 1As much as UCLA has been dominant in softball and baseball, this week could mark celebration or disappointment.
For the Women’s College World Series, a matchup of No. 2 UCLA (54-6, 8-1 in the postseason) and No. 1 Oklahoma (57-4, 9-2 in the postseason)seemed to best work out on paper, and it did in reality as well, for a best-of-three final in Oklahoma City, Okla., that begins Monday (6:30 p.m., ESPN). It’s the first time in the sport’s history that the Nos. 1 and 2 seeds will meet in the tournament’s last act. Oklahoma is after its third WCWS title in four years and fourth title this decade. None of UCLA’s 12 NCAA titles have come since 2010, and the Bruins lost the 2018 title after losing twice to Florida State. UCLA qualified when Rachel Garcia’s walk-off homer in the 10th beat Washington 3-0 on Sunday. Garcia also threw 179 pitches and struck out 16 to earn the win. The winner Monday has the possible championship game on Tuesday (7:30 p.m., ESPN), with an if-necessary encounter to decide it on Wednesday (7:30 p.m., ESPN).
UCLA defeated Oklahoma, 7-1, in a tournament game in Palm Springs last February in a game where Garcia struck out 15 and gave up just four hits. Garcia (27-1) has pitched in 53 2/3 of UCLA’s 62 postseason innings. Giselle Juarez (28-2) has become the Oklahoma star pitcher. The Sooners’ loss to the Bruins earlier this season came with Mariah Lopez (19-1) on the mound.
More info on the bracket: www.ncaa.com
UPDATED:
No. 1 overall UCLA (51-9), having fended off Loyola Marymount in the regionals, has to grab two out of three against Michigan back at Jackie Robinson Field in order to move onto the final eight at Omaha, Neb.
The schedule:
Game 1: Friday at 6 p.m., ESPN2
Game 2: Saturday at 6 p.m., ESPN2
Game 3: Sunday at 6 p.m., ESPN2 if necessary
More info on the bracket: www.ncaa.com

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05.27.19: Five things you should plan for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance

 

black 1There’s some simple math that makes the opener of the Dodgers’ four-game series against the visiting New York Mets appear to have some added value. The Dodgers send out three-time Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw (4-0, 3.33 ERA) to the mound for the early first-pitch start against defending NL Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom (3-5, 3.72 ERA). Kershaw is 5-0 with a 1.59 ERA in six regular-season home starts against the Mets – however, deGrom beat him 3-1 in Game 1 of the 2015 NL Division Series, as well as winning the decisive Game 5, also at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers have won in all seven of Kershaw’s starts this season, are 19-6 at home and won nine of their last 11, while the Mets, who recently picked up discarded Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp, have won six of their last seven.
Kershaw circles back to make another start this week, unfortunately not against Jake Arrieta, another former NL Cy Younger.
How it lays out this week for the Dodgers, 35-18, up by 7 games in the NL West, with the league’s best record, finishing a 6-2 road trip and dropping to No. 3 in the ESPN MLB Power Rankings:
* vs. N.Y. Mets, at Dodger Stadium: Monday (Jacob deGrom vs. Clayton Kershaw) at 5:10 p.m.;  Tuesday (Steven Matz vs. Rich Hill) at 7:10 p.m.; Wednesday (Noah Syndergaard vs. Walker Beuhler) at 7:10 p.m. and Thursday at 7:10 p.m., SportsNet LA. Monday and Thursday also Channel 5.
* vs. Philadelphia, at Dodger Stadium: Friday (Jake Arrieta vs. Kenta Maeda) at 7:10 p.m.; Saturday (Zach Eflin vs. Clayton Kershaw) at 7:10 p.m.; and Sunday (TBA vs. Rich Hill) at 1:10 p.m.
Saturday is the Alumni Game and a Steve Garvey bobblehead giveaway.

How it lays out this week for the Angels, 24-28 and 10 games back in  the AL West, 4-5 on their last homestand and dropping from 14 to 21 in the ESPN MLB Power Rankings:
* At Oakland: Monday (Trevor Cahill vs. Chris Bassitt) at 1:07 p.m., Tuesday (TBA vs. Frankie Montas) at 7:07 p.m., Wednesday (Griffin Canning vs. Daniel Mengden) at 12:07 p.m.
* At Seattle: Thursday (Tyler Skaggs vs. Yusei Kikuchi) and Friday (Andrew Heaney vs. Mike Leake) at 7:10 p.m., Fox Sports West; Saturday (Trevor Cahill vs. Tommy Milone) at 4:15 p.m., Channel 11; Sunday (TBA vs. Marco Gonzales) at 1:10 p.m., FSW Continue reading “05.27.19: Five things you should plan for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance”

05.20.19: Five things you should plan for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance:

black 1What’s your hurry, summer?
This weekend’s triple threat of motorsport madness – the Indianapolis 500, the Coca-Cola 600 and the Monaco Grand Prix – starts the new season with a Memorial Day weekend of fumes and likely some fuming at those who cut drivers off.
The 103rd Indy 500 (Sunday, 9 a.m., Channel 4; prerace at 6 a.m., NBCSN) already has made some weekend news, as the legendary McLaren team missed qualifying then considered trying to buy driver Fernando Alonso, best known as a Formula One champ, a seat in the race. He declined. Simon Pagenaud put his Chevy on the pole position with Ed Carpenter and Spencer Pigot on the front row. Three-time winner Helio Castroneves (2001, 2002, 2009) could join Rick Mears, A.J. Foyt and Al Unser as the only winners of four events. Castroneves starts from the fourth row. Defending champion Will Power, who famously spilled the champion’s milk all over the Indy Race Queen by accident, is in the second row. Pippa Mann, the only woman in the field, is on the 10th row. She failed to qualify last year. NBC also has this for the first time after ABC established this as a Wide World of Sports staple since the mid 1960s.
More info: www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com
NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 at Concord, N.C. (Sunday, 3 p.m., Channel 11) can make some news when an Indy 500 driver tries to helicopter over after his morning race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and get to Charlotte Motor Speedway in time to race again– it has its own Wikipedia entry as “Double Duty.” Tony Stewart once was sixth at Indianapolis and third at Charlotte in 2001, completing all 600 laps and 1,100 miles in both events. It was last attempted by Kurt Busch in 2014. No takers this year. Kyle Bush is the defending champ, leading 377 of the 400 laps for his first career win at Charlotte, and the first driver to win a race at every track in the NASCAR Cup series he competed in as well as every track that’s on the current schedule.
More info: www.charlottemotorspeedway.com
The fast and furious day officially begins with the F1’s 77th Grand Prix de Monaco (Sunday, 6 a.m., ESPN; replayed at 12:30 p.m., Channel 7) at the street circuit that runs through the city. Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull Racing went from the pole to the checkered flag last year ahead of Sebastian Vettle and Lewis Hamilton. Alonso started seventh in the McLaren-Renault but had to fall out after 52 laps with a gearbox issue.
More info: www.formula1.com

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05.13.19: Five things you should plan for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance

 

black 1The 2019 NBA Draft Lottery is important to whom again?
Oh, right. The Lakers.
For the sixth year in a row.
It happens Tuesday. In Chicago. At 5:30 p.m., on ESPN.
Go on, move along. Nothing left to see.
The percentage of L.A. interest in this reality show may be proportional to the the Lakers’ two percent chance of landing the No. 1 overall pick, a result of finishing as 11th worst team in the league after the 2017-18 LeBron James Tour ended. The odds increase from 2.2 to 2.4 to 2.8 percent for either the second, third or fourth pick.
Zion Williams isn’t too worried.
Take last year as the most-likely probably: The Lakers had 1.1 percent odds for No. 1, stayed at No. 10, traded it away, and now it’s all some incidental trivia question. This time, Magic Johnson isn’t adding his opinion, so this all apparently lands at the feet of what Linda Rambis wants to do. She could actually be repping the team in person for this thing instead of Kyle Kuzma, but the decision has already been made. Whether or not Frank Vogel and/or Jason Kidd object. Continue reading “05.13.19: Five things you should plan for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance”

05.06.19: Five things you should plan for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance

black 1Yup, we’re sniffing out the NCAA women’s water polo championship.
Defending champion USC comes in as the No. 1 seed, having won it all last year in its home pool.
But you probably already know too much about this Trojans’ otherwise under-the-radar sports  program.
It’s marching forward without its esteemed head coach, fired in the wake of the nationwide admission scandal, and he’s already put his Rancho Palos Verdes house up for sale.
At this point, what would Aunt Becky pay to see her kid hoist a national championship trophy? Continue reading “05.06.19: Five things you should plan for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance”

Day 30 of 30 baseball book reviews for April 2019: Challenging our infinite wisdom

9780190928186_p0_v1_s600x595The book:

“Infinite Baseball: Notes from a Philosopher at the Ballpark”

The author: Alva Noe

 The publishing info: Oxford University Press, $21.95, 208 pages, released April 1.

The links: At the publisher’s website, at Amazon.com, at BarnesAndNoble.com, at Powells.com

The review in 90 feet or less

Our attempt each year is begin or close the 30-day series of baseball book reviews with some really deep thinking.
Use your brain. See how it connects to your heart.
This fits perfect into our philosophy. How else can we put it?

In 2018, we led off with “Why Baseball Matters” by Susan Jacoby, and ended with “If God Invented Baseball” by poet E. Ethelbert Miller.
In 2014, it was Hal Bodley”s “How Baseball Explains America.” The year before, it’s “Baseball as a Road to God” by John Sexton.
We ended 2010 with “Six Decades of Baseball: A Personal Narrative” by Bill Lewers, a dad who wanted to leave a document for his sons. A year earlier, the closer was “Parables from the Diamond: Meditations for Men on Baseball and Life” by Phil Christopher and Glenn Dromgogle.
(Apologies, but as we’ve recently learned, the reviews posted for those books above, except for 2018, have disappeared from the platform where they were posted. The platform, for that matter, was taken down by the original publisher. It’s too bad, really. Like a giant erase board, as if they didn’t exist in the first place. Let’s ponder that another day).

Noe, a writer and philosopher living in Berkeley, comes from the world of deep thinking, a contributor to the now defunct National Public Radio’s science blog “13.7: Cosmos and Culture” (www.npr.org/137) from 2010 to ’17. (At least they didn’t just tear the thing down and make it disappear. It’s still there. Thankfully.)

cosmos
These are the best of his posts — we trust an editor may have also helped select, because the writer often doesn’t know which is his “best” until someone else says so — as they pertain to a few specific areas of what he observes about baseball. He breaks it into five main themes: The beauty of a “boring” game, why we keep score, baseball as its own language, the game’s “cyborg” nature, and then his personal memories. For Noe, it comes in the context of being a kid growing up in Greenwich Village with two artists as parents who didn’t believe in having a TV, only a radio. Which made following Mets games in the 1970s a bit antiquated. But you had to use your imagination.

Continue reading “Day 30 of 30 baseball book reviews for April 2019: Challenging our infinite wisdom”

Day 29 of 30 baseball book reviews for April 2019: Shhhh … there’s a game at Camden Yards … pretend all is normal

91xnQMK4PKLThe book:

“When the Crowd Didn’t Roar: How Baseball’s Strangest Game Ever Gave a Broken City Hope”

The author:
Kevin Cowherd

The publishing info:
University of Nebraska Press, $27.95, 192 pages, released April 1

The links:
At the publisher’s website,  at Amazon.com,  at BarnesAndNoble.com,  at Powells.com

The review in 90 feet or less

fae570f7b202c3d15e7001ce2bc43a3dThe New York Times Magazine recently had a cover story: “How an American city falls apart: The Tragedy of Baltimore.” The story’s research points out that since Freddie Gray’s death at the hands of the local police in 2015, violent crime “has spiked to levels unseen for a quarter century.”
The story’s author, Baltimore native Alec MacGillis, writes: “Nearly four years after Freddie Gray’s death, the surge of crime has once again become the context of daily life in the city, as it was in the early 1990s. I have grown accustomed to scanning the briefs column in The Baltimore Sun in the morning for news of the latest homicides; to taking note of the location of the latest killings as I drive around town for my baseball coaching and volunteering obligations. In 2017, the church I attend started naming the victims of the violence on Sunday services and hanging a purple ribbon for each on a long cord outside. By the year’s end, the ribbons crowded for space, like shirts on a tenement clothesline.”

Four years ago today, the Baltimore Orioles played a home afternoon game against the Chicago White Sox at Camden Yards. No one was allowed in to witness what became an 8-2 Orioles’ win.
There were no real winners.
For something that has its own Wikipedia entry, this is as tough forget as it is to remember. Continue reading “Day 29 of 30 baseball book reviews for April 2019: Shhhh … there’s a game at Camden Yards … pretend all is normal”