1. Quick Hits
- Albert Pujols of the Angels hits career homers #499 and #500 in Washington. He’s the 26th to join the 500 club.
- NBA Playoffs: Washington has taken a 2-0 lead on the Bulls with both wins coming in Chicago.
- San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich is the NBA Coach of the Year.
- NHL Playoffs: Montreal has swept away Tampa Bay in 4 straight. San Jose leads L.A. 3-0.
- The NFL releases its 2014 schedule tonight.
2. The Club
There was a time when 500 homers meant automatic inclusion in the Hall of Fame. Those were the “good old” natural days before steroids reared their ugly heads. Now the club is littered with Hall of Fame wannabes like Rafael Palmeiro, Sammy Sosa and Manny Ramirez. Some of them will never get it although Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez were probably “Hall-worthy” before they cheated. As far as anyone knows Albert Pujols did it all naturally. The fact that we even have to bring that up is a product of the times.
My first visit to Wrigley Field was special. It was before lights were installed and looking at the top of the stadium and seeing no light stanchions was on add sight. I also remember walking through Wrigley with NBC announcer Joe Garagiola. He had played parts of two seasons for the Cubs. He was telling fans how great they have it there. He said they always got their money’s worth since there was always a bottom of the 9th inning. Ouch. Happy 100th Wrigley. Here’s hoping you win the World Series before your 1000th.
According to Sports Business Journal, local NBA TV ratings took a hit in the biggest markets. Even though the L.A. Clippers and Brooklyn Nets made the playoffs, all four Los Angeles and New York teams suffered ratings drops. Even the champion Miami Heat’s numbers were down. Teams in smaller markets who showed improvement on the court showed rating gains. I’m guessing there’s so much to do in the bigger cities that fans aren’t glued to their sets to watch NBA games unless they are really compelling. Then again it could be the nature of the games. The other night, the final minute of regulation between Memphis and Oklahoma City took 43 minutes to play. For a champion runner that’s a third of a marathon.
5. One and Done
The Kentucky turnstile continues. Prized freshman Julius Randle is the latest to jump to the NBA after one season with the Wildcats. He’s the second this year and 12th in coach John Calipari’s 5-year tenure at Kentucky. Is Calipari to blame for this system? Absolutely not. These are all great players. The previous 10 “one and done-ers” were all first round draft picks. It’s the system that needs revamping. New NBA commissioner Adam Silver is proposing a 20-year old NBA age limit. That’s a start. The colleges, the “students” and the NBA will all benefit. It’ll be the end of “one and done,” and the birth of “two and through.”
Happy Birthday: Former UCLA and Lakers star Gail Goodrich. 71.
Bonus Birthday: Actress Valerie Bertinelli. 54.
Today in Sports: 60 years ago today. Hank Aaron hit his first Major League homer for the Milwaukee Braves. He’d go on to hit 754 more. 1954.
Bonus Event: 100 years ago today. The first baseball game at Wrigley Field then known as Weegham Park. 1914. Special ceremonies and giveaways are planned to celebrate the occasion at this afternoon’s Cubs game.
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