The weekend started with some sad, shocking news out of our nation's capital: Tim Russert, the longtime host of NBC's Sunday morning public affairs program Meet the Press, passed suddenly from a heart attack at age 58. What does this have to do with sports, you ask. Growing up in Buffalo, New York, Russert was a fan of the Buffalo Bills, and ended each episode with, "Go Bills!" Russert leaves behind a wife, Maureen, and a son, Luke, who recently graduated from Boston College.
Now, read on
- Just because you're the best hitter in Major League Baseball doesn't mean that you're susceptible to the odd injury; case in point: Atlanta Braves third baseman Chipper Jones getting hit in the mug with a stray baseball during batting practice on Friday prior to their interleague series opener against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Jones eventually recovered and played in the other two games of the series.
- In the prediction phase of the 2008 baseball season, nobody expected that the Citrus Series between the Florida Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays would amount to anything of substance. But, with both teams leading or close to the lead in their respective divisions, it turned to be that way. The Rays wound up taking two of three in St. Pete, despite a career-high 12 strikeouts from Marlins pitcher Ricky Nolasco.
- It was a homecoming to remember for the Boston Red Sox' Kevin Youkilis: Youk went 3-5 with his 11th homer of the year in the top of the tenth inning (and the first of two, the other by Coco Crisp soon later) in the Sox' 6-4 win over the Cincinnati Reds in the Olde Towne Team's first visit since that memorable 1975 World Series. The next day, the Sox made like the Electric Company and turned on the power with four home runs off of Reds pitcher Homer Bailey in what had to be the most ironic occurence in baseball history. The Sox got taters from Crisp, Jacoby Ellsbury, J.D. Drew, and Dustin Pedroia in Sunday's 9-0 shutout.
- Speaking of the Reds, Ken Griffey, Jr. announced that he would waive the no-trade clause in his contract, setting up a possible trade to the Rays.
- Talk about busting out the lumber! The Philadelphia Phillies did just that on Friday night in a 20-2 thrashing of the St. Louis Cardinals in the only intraleague series on the weekend. The rout kicked off when Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Pat Burrell hit three consecutive homers in the first inning.
- The New York Yankees may have swept the Houston Astros to cap the most successful roadtrip so far this year, they did suffer a tremendous loss. Ace pitcher Chien-Ming Wang suffered a foot injury in the top of the sixth inning while running the bases. MONDAY EXTRA #1: Wang looks as though he will be out until September.
NBA Finals Game 5 from the Armchair
- Back on Thursday, Paul Pierce helped lead the way in a Boston Celtics win that saw them one win away from their first NBA championship in 22 years. Even though Pierce led the world with 38 points, but he was no match for rainmakers Kobe Bryant (25) and Lamar Odom (20) as the Los Angeles Lakers put the C's title celebration on hold, 103-98.
Across the Pond
- David Villa became the leading scorer in EURO 2008 as he netted the game winner in injury time to send the Spaniards through to the quarter final, 2-1, over Sweden on Saturday. Later that day, Russian midfielder Konstantin Zyrianov scored the lone goal in the 33rd minute to make Greece's EURO tourney a Greek tragedy, 1-0, as they became only the fourth defending champion to not make it to the eliminations.
- In a game of little consequence to both teams, Switzerland got their first win in EURO competition with a 2-0 shutout of Portugal, with both goals netted by Hakan Yakin. Later on Sunday, Turkey completed a furious comeback as Nihat Kahveci scored two goals within three minutes to send the Czechs packing, 3-2. Things got testy near the end, as Turk goalkeeper Volkan Demirel shoved Czech striker Jan Koller to the ground, thus earning him a red card.
US Open drama
Tiger Woods looked as though he would struggle through his first tourney since undergoing knee surgery after the Masters two months ago. However, he would overcome the pain to make two eagles on Saturday to emerge the leader of the pack at Torrey Pines in San Diego. Sunday saw Tiger fight off Rocco Mediate, only to draw even with him and force an 18-hole playoff the following day, which Woods won on the 19th playoff hole with a par to Mediate's bogey.
- For the second week in a row, Kyle Busch decided to do all the races in NASCAR's three major series. First, Busch finished seventh in the Craftsman Truck Series race in the Irish Hills of Michigan, where he finished seventh and exchanged words with Ron Hornaday afterwards. From there, it was off to Kentucky and a 30th-place finish in the Nationwide Series event due to a late-race spinout. Then, it was back to Michigan and a 13th-place result in the Sprint Cup Lifelock 400. That same race saw Dale Earnhardt Jr. break a 76-race winless streak by conserving fuel and running out of gas after crossing the finish line in "overtime" after a wreck involving Patrick Carpentier and Michael Waltrip.
Odds and Sods
- Subpoenas were issued for Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson and COO Russ Brandon in Marshawn Lynch's DUI case, so if Russert's grave hasn't been dug yet, they should do it soon so he can start rotating therein.
- Russert wasn't the only obituary from the weekend; former Marshall defensive end Johnathan Goddard was killed in a motorcycle accident Saturday night at age 27.
- Tell us something we don't know: Cincinnati Bengals wideout Chris Henry was suspended indefintely by the NFL in advance of his trial for busting a guy one in the face and then using a beer bottle to damage his car.
Passing out the honors
All of the fathers/grandfathers/stepfathers of the world: This weekend, especially yesterday (6.15) was all about you. Thanks for all you've done to help make us the people we are today...
Those in MLB who decided to do away with the Hall of Fame Game in Cooperstown, New York: We know scheduling the game is difficult, especially if it is in the middle of the season, like it has been. Today (6.16) was to have been the very last one at Doubleday Field, but sever weather prevented the final farewell between the San Diego Padres and the Chicago Cubs from taking place. There are no winners here, only losers; and a whole lot of them, at that...
Until next week, let's all be good sports...