Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Today's High Five: Harper's face-plant, Arnie's return, NBA doings, softball drama

5. Hey Bryce, they call it a "warning track" for a reason!

I can't get enough of the video of young Nationals stud Bryce Harper running face-first into the right-field scoreboard at Dodger Stadium. After the play, he looked like he had encountered the Texas Chainsaw Massacre man.

Still, Harper vows to "play like that the rest of my career."

That's admirable ... but if he doesn't start paying attention to the warning track, the rest of his career might be about an hour long.

4. Iced tea/lemonade pitchman Arnie Palmer and his grandson Sam Saunders are going to be playing partners Saturday in the pro-am of a tour event in South Carolina.

That's pretty cool. Palmer is 83 years old.

What's not cool: Arnie would still beat me by about a dozen strokes. Maybe two dozen on one of my bad days.

3. Even great athletes run out of gas eventually.

The Bulls have nothing left in their tanks. Nothing. They have competed valiantly against the Heat, but without Derrick Rose, Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich, they are thinner than Calista Flockhart on an all-celery diet.

Jimmy Butler, my guy from Marquette, has played so many minutes in these playoffs that it's easy to forget that, going into this season, the Bulls weren't counting on him to be more than a mop-up player. He has played all 48 minutes in four of the last six games (and played 46 minutes in one of the others).

Nate Robinson, the gnat-sized ballhog who was signed to be the third-string point guard, is averaging 37 minutes a game.

The Bulls are so desperate that there was even a Rip Hamilton sighting in the last game. It was nice of him to show up in uniform on his 62nd birthday.

Too bad. As great as Miami is, a hard-working, well-coached Bulls team that included Rose, Deng and Hinrich would have had a real chance to win the series.

2. Speaking of ex-Marquetters ... whither Steve Novak?

The Knicks, who have shot atrociously all series in falling behind the Pacers 3-1, were 36% overall and 29% from 3-point range in Tuesday's loss.

Novak is one of the best pure shooters in basketball history and was the recipient of a huge contract from the Knicks last offseason.

Tuesday, he played one minute. He took one 3-pointer. He swished it. He sat back down.


1. Here come the Sons of Pitches!

After losing four of our first five games, with each defeat due to a late-game meltdown, my old-dude softball team has used late-game heroics to win two straight.

Tuesday night, we scored three in the last inning to take a lead and held on for a 12-10 victory.

Playing second base, I tried my darnedest to give the game away in the bottom of the last. For one thing, I failed to cover second base on a comebacker to our pitcher/coach Pat, so we recorded no outs on what probably should have been a game-ending double play. Our great shortstop, Tom, had been spectacular all night and I thought he was going to take the throw, but he was playing deep and in the hole; even though we uncharacteristically didn't communicate on the play, it was totally my screw-up. Also in the inning, I stumbled around like a drunken congressman chasing a pop-up slightly over the infield dirt. I somehow ended up with my back to the infield and the ball hit me on the shoulder.

Thankfully, my teammates picked me up big-time, as Pat snared a line drive and doubled off a runner on a fine, instinctive play by our first baseman Bob. Amazingly, it was our fifth double play of the game -- in slow-pitch softball, a team can go weeks without turning a single one -- and a stunning end to a satisfying victory.

With only two regular-season games left and the playoffs just around the corner, we're finding our stride at just the right time. There isn't a team in the league with fewer than two losses; nor is there a team with fewer than two wins. Pete Rozelle would love this parity.

It really will be a wide-open race for the championship and I can honestly say I haven't seen any team the Sons of Pitches can't beat ... especially if our second baseman remembers to remove his bald head from his rectum when the ump shouts "Play ball!"

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