Richard’s Weekly Sports Round-Up
Gentlemen, need to impress your boss or co-workers around the water cooler? Ladies, tired of getting made fun of by your boyfriend or husband for not following the major sporting events? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Richard’s Weekly Sports Round-Up informs you of the ten major happenings in the world of sports. No need to hang your head in shame. After reading the Round-Up each Monday morning, you will impress even the most die-hard sports fans. And, with the addition of the Looking Ahead section, you will be able to inform everyone about the sporting events that are forthcoming in the next week.
10. In the Champions League final, Barcelona defeated Manchester United 2-0 Wednesday in Rome. With the win, Barcelona has won three of the most prestigious titles this season: the Champions League title, the Copa del Rey and the Spanish League title. Barcelona easily claimed the best season in the club’s history. For the first six minutes of the match, it seemed as though United would run away with the win. Barcelona striker Samuel Eto’o scored the first goal 10 minutes into the game and the 5’6” Argentine Lionel Messi put the game away with a header in the 70th minute. My Take: United had trouble playing from behind. The club struggles in that area. United forward Wayne Rooney played too much defense and did not get in the game offensively. United star Cristiano Ronaldo cannot win a game on his own. After Eto’o’s goal, I knew United had almost no chance of winning. Look for Messi in next year’s World Cup. He might be the fastest soccer player in the world.
9. Brett Myers, Jacksonville native and Englewood High graduate, announced Friday his need for surgery to repair a torn labrum (cartilage that lines the hip socket). Myers, pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies, said he was told by Dr. Bryan Kelly that a cortisone shot would dull the pain, but that surgery would be the necessary solution. Myers is scheduled to have surgery Thursday. On Friday, he was placed on the 15-day disabled list. The timetable for his pitching in a game again is 13 to 18 weeks. Myers, 4-3 this season with a 4.66 ERA, wants to shoot for a September return. My Take: Myers will have difficulty fully recovering from his torn labrum. Recently, hip problems have been an issue for many prominent MLB players. New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez, Philadelphia Phillie Chase Utley and Boston Red Sox Mike Lowell have had hip surgery in the last few years. For most players, once they go under the knife, they are never the same athletes. At least this way, Myers will have more time to spend his 2009 salary (about $12.1 million).
8. New England Patriot quarterback Tom Brady discussed his recovery from left knee surgery in the most recent Sports Illustrated. Brady told the magazine that “There’s nothing I can’t do.” His recovery is right on schedule, and he has been cutting and running without any aggravation or pain in the knee. Brady practiced during the Patriots’ organized team activities last week. Most notably, Brady also told SI’s Peter King, “I want to play until I’m 41.” My Take: The Patriots’ AFC East opponents are extremely upset. Reading that Brady plans to play 10 more years has to be painful to digest. On the other hand, Patriot fans are overjoyed. Having the premier position in all of team sports locked up for 10 more years would be incredible. The future Hall of Famer is the ultimate competitor. However, if his performance is lacking, the ACL and MCL tears sustained last season will be the excuses.
7. This week, it was revealed that the University of Memphis allegedly violated NCAA rules. The 2007-08 Tigers men’s basketball team led by former head coach John Calipari is in trouble. The primary claim is that a player allegedly had someone else take the SAT for him. According to numerous unidentified sources, the player in question is Chicago Bull point guard Derrick Rose, who played for Memphis only during that season. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Rose had his transcript improved while he was in high school. If he had a D in a class, it would be altered to a C. Now the Kentucky Wildcats basketball coach, Calipari will participate in the NCAA hearings. Memphis is in danger of vacating its 38 regular-season wins, NCAA tournament wins and the 2008 Final Four banner. My Take: All universities break the rules. It’s just a matter of what schools get caught. To me, these allegations are not astonishing. Memphis was notified of the allegations in a letter from the NCAA on January 16. It’s pathetic that the school didn’t notify their new coach, Josh Pastner, of the allegations once he was hired. Revealing these scathing allegations totally sinks Memphis’ basketball program. It will never reach the heights it did under Calipari. Conference USA will forever be its home.
6. The Stanley Cup Finals started Saturday night with the Detroit Red Wings winning Game 1 at home 3-1 over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Game 2 was very similar. The Red Wings won it with the same score, 3-1. The Red Wings’ defense is tough. Penguin superstar Sidney Crosby has been shut down by Red Wing Henrik Zetterberg. Pittsburgh needs time to recover for Game 3, which is on Tuesday night. Down 2-0 to the Red Wings is one of the worst scenarios the Penguins could be in. My Take: Joe Louis Arena, home of the Detroit Red Wings, is electric. If the Red Wings obtain a one-goal lead, the Penguins have a huge hurdle to overcome. Keep an eye on the goalies. The Penguins’ Marc-Andre Fleury and the Red Wings’ Chris Osgood are the keys to the series. I think Zetterberg will continue to smother Crosby. Detroit seems to be more motivated and dominating than last season’s Stanley Cup Finals. I’m not a frequent hockey viewer, but I’m hooked on this series.
5. Recognizable local sportscaster Cole Pepper lost his job as sports director at WOKV (690 AM) on Friday. Pepper had been a fixture with the station for the last eight years. Like most radio stations, advertising dollars are tough to obtain in this economic climate. Pepper performed daily sports reports in the morning for the station. Coming as no surprise, it was stated that it was a corporate decision. My Take: Since the removal of the legendary David Lamm at 930 The Fox, nothing shocks me. I shake my head in disgust and move on with my day. What else can I do? Americans everywhere are losing their jobs. Nevertheless, it’s sad to see these sports personalities getting the axe. Typically, when cuts are made, the sports department is the first to go. It doesn’t get any simpler.
4. Kobe Bryant and the Lakers are headed back to the NBA Finals. The Lakers sunk the Denver Nuggets by winning the last two games in their six-game series. The Lakers crushed the Nuggets in Game 6 by a score of 119-92 on Friday night. The Nuggets were outscored in every quarter in what was never truly a close game. Kobe scored 35 points and dished out 10 assists in an impressive team effort. He was able to get Pau Gasol, Trevor Ariza and Lamar Odom heavily involved. My Take: Nuggets star Carmelo Anthony never looked comfortable or healthy while shooting the ball. Point guard Chauncey Billups led the Nuggets, but he doesn’t have the ability to score 25 or more points per game. And, with Kobe distributing the ball quite well, the Nuggets were bound to struggle. However, Denver needs to carry this momentum into next season. If the Lakers want the NBA title, the team needs to perform this well against the Orlando Magic.
3. Jimmy Smith, former Jacksonville Jaguar wide receiver, pled not guilty to multiple charges on Thursday. Smith was initially charged with possession of cocaine and marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, driving with a suspended license and possessing or selling a controlled substance. The final charge was dropped. According to the Florida Highway Patrol, he was stopped by a trooper on April 23 with excessive window tint on his Mercedes Benz while driving on Interstate 95. After the stop, the trooper detected the smell of burnt marijuana coming from Smith’s vehicle. Following a search of the vehicle, drugs were found in his car. Crack cocaine, marijuana and cocaine residue on a business card were spotted. Smith, 40, did not attend his arraignment at the Duval County Courthouse. His attorney (Hank Coxe) represented him. This was not Smith’s first drug-related incident. One of the most well-known Jaguar players has his next court date set for June 17. My Take: See my Thursday column which will extensively cover this topic.
2. Four-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal went down for the first time in five years at Roland Garros yesterday. He lost in four sets to Swede Robin Soderling in the fourth round. Nadal’s 31-match winning streak in Paris ended with the loss. Nadal was purely outplayed by the 6’4” Soderling. Reaching the quarterfinals of the French Open is the best outing for the 24-year-old Swede who is currently ranked No. 25 in the ATP rankings. After this fourth-round win, he surely will move into the top 20 in the world. My Take: Soderling never attempted to grind it out with Nadal. Nobody can win that battle against the Spaniard, and Soderling knows that. Interestingly, Soderling is one of a few players on tour who Nadal just does not like. And, Nadal likes just about everyone, even Roger Federer. I think their personal history seeped into Nadal’s thoughts. During a 2007 Wimbledon match, Soderling mocked Nadal’s on-court mannerisms. Nadal didn’t take kindly to it. This is definitely a monumental upset. Robin Soderling will be forever remembered. Unfortunately for him, it will be for this one match. Don’t expect the Swede to be on the up-and-up after this win.
1. The Coach of the Year and the NBA MVP have fallen together. Mike Brown and LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers are out of the NBA playoffs. The Cavs took a huge fall from glory Saturday night with a 103-90 loss to the Orlando Magic. LeBron, 24, didn’t have nearly enough help from his teammates. With a league-best 66 wins during the regular season, the Cavs never lived up to expectations in a six-game series against the jump-shot-loving Magic. Magic center Dwight Howard had his most dominating playoff performance with 40 points, pulling down 14 rebounds and altering almost every inside shot the Cavs had to offer. The keys to this series were the lack of help LeBron received and the different shooters who stepped up each night to take the Magic to the NBA Finals. My Take: Literally every single expert called this series wrong. Nobody thought the Magic would take it, much less in six games. LeBron will have a painful offseason ahead, but the Magic is just getting started. I have to question Mike Brown’s coaching intelligence. In Game 4, Brown wasn’t coaching in the fourth quarter; it seemed as though his assistant was calling the game strategy. Brown rides the coattails of his superstar LeBron James. Obviously, I’m not impressed by Brown. All in all, I’m very pleased the NBA won’t get their highly-coveted Kobe/LeBron series.
Looking to the Week Ahead
5. The NBA Finals start this Thursday, June 4th. As the LA Lakers face off against the Orlando Magic, they are back vying for their 15th NBA title. Without fail, superstar Kobe Bryant will be in the spotlight. With that in mind, he needs all the help he can get from his teammates. Pau Gasol, Derek Fisher and Lamar Odom need to be contributing factors. Memorable matchups ensue between these two teams. Dwight Howard will go head-to-head against Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. Kobe Bryant will shoot in every opponent’s face. Bench play will be the deciding factor in the series. I’m going with the bold selection of the Magic over the Lakers in seven games to bring home their first NBA title. Regardless of the outcome, I want the NBA Finals to go seven games. The playoffs have been too spectacular to end with a four-game sweep.
4. Tiger is back! In unrelated news, PGA Tour officials have stopped weeping uncontrollably. Tiger Woods will be playing in this week’s Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio. Three weeks ago, Woods played at The Players Championship at Sawgrass where he finished in eighth place. The three-time winner of the Memorial missed the tournament last year because of knee surgery. Tiger’s only win this season was at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. The world’s best golfer has already raked in almost $2.17 million in winnings.
3. The French Open in Paris wraps up this weekend. The women’s tennis final is on Saturday, June 6th, and the men’s final is Sunday, June 7th. The only remaining Americans in singles are Andy Roddick and Serena Williams. Disappointment by the Americans at Roland Garros is nothing new. Serena has looked downright dominating at times, but she has her moments of extreme fatigue and sluggishness. If she stays focused and gets rest this week, she has a better-than-average chance of making the finals. Imagine if she only focused on playing tennis and wasn’t distracted by a career in fashion or entertainment. On the men’s side, No. 1 seed Rafael Nadal, the king of clay, was ousted in the fourth round. Prior to that match, he hadn’t dropped one set. Roger Federer, Nadal’s rival, has showed perfect footwork and unmatched shot selection in his three matches. You know Federer has a wide smile on his face right now. Federer doesn’t have an easy path to the finals. But, with Nadal gone, Federer must have unending confidence. If he makes it to the finals, Federer will win his first French Open title and secure a career grand slam (winning all four major tournaments in a career).
2. This Saturday, June 6th, the 141st running of the Belmont Stakes will take place. Rachel Alexandra, winner of the Preakness, will not race at Belmont. Therefore, Calvin Borel, the jockey who has won both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness this year, will ride Derby winner, Mine That Bird. Mine That Bird finished second at the Preakness without Borel. The jockey’s intelligence and fearlessness will give Mine That Bird the Belmont victory. As of Sunday, odds for the race are: Mine that Bird – 2 to 3, Charitable Man – 4 to 1 and Dunkirk – 5 to 1. If you enjoy betting, Mine That Bird is the easy selection.
1. Conan O’Brien begins his reign as the talk show host of The Tonight Show on NBC tonight, June 1st. The first week’s lineup of guests consists of: funnyman Will Ferrell, Oscar award-winning actor Tom Hanks and American Idol host Ryan Seacrest. Of course, it is highly unlikely Conan can have knockout guests every night of the week, especially once Jay Leno starts his primetime gig this Fall. But, Conan will crush the Stanley Cup finals between the Red Wings and the Penguins in the Nielsen television ratings. It will be embarrassing for the NHL, but the league should be proud that the Finals are on national television.