When I went on my 10-day hiking trip to the Oval Lakes of Northern Washington, I expected I would miss no-hitters, some shakeups atop the many tight-knit divisions, and a franchise-altering trade made by Rich Cho and the Portland Trail Blazers.
Hiking peaks and lounging around a nearby lake reading Michael Chabon’s brilliant novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, the very strange Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman, and David Halberstam’s superb October 1964 was very enjoyable, but as the trip went on, I began to have withdrawals. I dreamed of writing articles. I conjured up what I was sure had happened, was happening, and what was going to happen prior to my returning to Eugene, Oregon.
After pining for a newspaper throughout the nine-mile hike out, I snatched a USA Today at a nearby gas station to see that though not much newsworthy took place, it was still an exciting week in the world of sports.
Boston Red Sox v New York Yankees, August 5th-9th; Red Sox were 6 1/2 back to begin series
Boston managed a split in their four-game series against New York. Clay Buchholz, perhaps the best in a rotation full of solid starters, paced the team in the opener and a David Ortiz homer backed his performance.
They lost the next two games of the series. Saturday’s Yankee win was overshadowed by an ankle injury suffered to Alex Rodriguez, who appears to be alright after that scare considering he hit three home-runs the following Saturday. Derek Jeter passed Babe Ruth on the Yankees all-time hit list as they blasted Josh Beckett in the third contest between the foes.
The Red Sox salvaged a draw with a victory in the finale behind six shut-out innings by Jon Lester, who, the following Saturday, tossed eight more scoreless innings over the deadly Texas Rangers.
Given how action-packed Red Sox-Yankees series usually are, this was a ho-hum duel. Nothing changed in the standings, which hurts Boston. And they couldn’t gain any more ground the rest of the week, too.
Youkilis out for season with thumb surgery; Ellsbury struggles, then returns to the Disabled List
Kevin Youkilis, one of Red Sox best hitters, was deemed done for the season as he underwent surgery to repair a tear in his thumb. It’s a devastating blow to Boston, a team already depleted by the injury suffered to former MVP Dustin Pedroia. Their lineup has been makeshift all year, and with this and what would come, it certainly will remain that way for the rest of the season.
Jacoby Ellsbury had four stolen bases in the Red Sox win over the Yankees in their series finale, but that was the lone highlight of his brief return. He was deemed ready to play after missing all but nine games due to severe damage done to his rib-cage. His performance suggested he was not healthy enough to, though, as he went 4-34 with no rbi’s before landing back on the Disabled List.
He returned to the DL Saturday night after re-injuring his ribs in Friday’s loss to the Rangers. He underwent CT and MRI scans, which found “some edema in the same area,” according to manager and apparent M.D. Terry Francona, and a new fracture line. Overall, Ellsbury said, through Francona, that it is worse than the first relapse in May. He may be done for the year. Sadly, a lost season for not only a very dangerous leadoff man, but a Oregon-native and former Oregon State Beaver.
A four-team trade in the NBA that helps all but one
New Orleans traded away promising young point guard Darren Collison along with James Posey to the Indiana Pacers; the Pacers traded power forward Troy Murphy (who has an expiring contract) to the New Jersey Nets; the Houston Rockets sent young guard Trevor Ariza to the Hornets; and the Nets traded their version of Ariza, Courtney Lee, to the Rockets.
Indiana, a team discontent with T.J. Ford and A.J. Price as their depth, gets the point guard of their future. Collison performed admirably in Chris Paul’s stead during his rookie season, and now he won’t be in his shadow anymore. He averaged 21 points and eight assists in 42 minutes per game during February when Paul was on the shelf, and finished the season averaging 12 points and upwards of six assists per game. He could potentially be a top-ten point guard in the league come this season, as ESPN’s Josh Whitling suggested.
Murphy gives the Nets cap-room for the Summer of 2011. The team will target Carmelo Anthony (if he doesn’t accept the Nuggets $65 million offer that’s been on the table for over a month) and Tony Parker during that free agency period, and Murphy’s expiring $11.9 million contract, should give them a considerable chance to at least nab one of the two premier talents.
Ariza put up solid numbers in his lone season with Houston, but shot just 39 percent. I’m not sure Lee will be much of an upgrade, but he’s a defensive-stalwart who seems to have a bit better head on his shoulders than Ariza. Just like every move Kevin Pritchard made for the Blazers before his dismissal, every deal that Houston does is seemingly intelligent with Daryl Morey at the helm.
The deal makes little sense for the Hornets, though Ariza does fill a need. They are taking a risk on moving Collison, as Paul could choose not to re-sign and test the free agent market. If that indeed does happen, New Orleans will have to take the time to develop a point guard, which is no easy task.
Malone never won a championship with the Utah Jazz, and there have been some who have argued he isn’t Hall of Fame Material, but, in my mind, he was one of the best players of his generation–of any generation, for that matter. The Mailman formed an effortlessly talented tandem with one of the best point guards ever to play, John Stockton, and averaged 25 points and 10 rebounds per game for his career.
There was Malone-Stockton, but then there was Michael Jordan-Scottie Pippen. The latter duo kept the former duo from winning any rings.
Pippen was the quintessential side-kick, stifling on defense, one of the better athletes ever to play in the NBA, and a solid scorer to compliment Jordan’s greatness. He averaged 16 points (20 during his prime), dished five assists and grabbed six rebounds per game over a 16-year career, and came up huge come playoff time, averaging 17-7-5 in 208 playoff games.
New York Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez was arrested for assault and the San Francisco Giants acquired a big bat in Jose Guillen. Those two tidbits, a thumb surgery, newly fractured ribs, a quiet week and a half in baseball, and a four-team trade in the NBA that could have fairly large ramifications is the collection of sports news that I missed. Now I return to the blogosphere, ready to write articles off the headlines as they happen.