Category Archives: Sports

Keidel: Is Lonzo Ball Just A New Kid Or The Next Kidd?

By Jason Keidel He’s got the name and seems to have the game perfectly contoured for the NBA, California, and his home club, the Lakers. But, it’s hard to think of a rookie entering the NBA with a larger load on his shoulders than Lonzo Ball. Not because of something he’s said or done, but by others who share his name. Like his father, of course, who seems to garner (and covet) more air time than the actual player. LaVar, father of Lonzo, is hardly shy, quiet, or stoic. He seems thrilled to chat with anyone willing to stick a mike under his chin. The problem is that LaVar may be writing checks that Lonzo can’t cash. He’s already got his son on the Mt. Rushmore of all-time NBA players, comparing him favorably to anyone who’s ever dribbled a basketball. In a strict basketball sense, it’s hard not to like what you see out of Lonzo, who does mimic Jason Kidd on the court. Similar in size and speed and sight, Ball gets the ball to the open man with more precision than anyone we’ve seen in a while. It’s just hard to parse the player from parent. Not only has LaVar placed his son in the pantheon, he’s also launched this “Big Baller” brand, a sneaker of stratospheric price, around $500 per pair, if you care. Already LaVar has tripped over his tongue, demeaning his potential customer base by asserting that if you can’t drop five bills on sneakers, then you’re not a “Big Baller” – which means you’re not of athletic or cultural stock to deserve one. You don’t need a degree from Wharton to see that’s not the best marketing ploy. Then LaVar made some misogynistic remarks, telling a female reporter from Fox Sports 1 to “stay in her lane” and implying that women need not worry about his outfit making women’s sneakers. As if women can’t play ball (forgive the pun). Tell his SoCal neighbors, Venus and Serena Williams, that they can’t sell some fresh kicks. Or a whole litany of women who are making good on the hardwood and hard court. Some have praised LaVar for having the confidence in himself and his son to break from corporate convention, for telling Nike, Adidas, Converse, etc. to take a hike and cut out the middleman. Great. But, it’s unwise to have such hubris in the cutthroat world of apparel, which has humbled many a smart, rich person. If you’ve ever watched the hit program “Shark Tank,” you’d know that even for clothing moguls like Daymond John, founder of Fubu, nothing is assured. Even for those hardwired into the business, many, if not most, new clothing lines never see a profit. From a sportswriter’s perspective, LaVar is gold. He fills up a notepad or iPad with equal aplomb. But what’s good for us isn’t always good for his son. LaVar also asserted that Lonzo won’t audition for any NBA club except the Lakers, who have the No. 2 pick in the NBA Draft. What if the Celtics want to take him at the top? It would be rather ironic to see the father, who’s saturated the world with his sermons, say his own progeny and prodigy doesn’t deserve to be No. 1. None of this is a judgement or referendum on LaVar’s bona fides as a father or provider or anything that resides within the walls of the home. It seems pops has that covered. But this isn’t Verbum Dei or whatever high school stands tall in Los Angeles. This isn’t even UCLA, a fine school, fine program, and home to the Wizard of Westwood. The NBA is not only big basketball, it’s bigger business, not often kind to neophytes like LaVar Ball. Making it will be hard enough for Lonzo, sans the specter of his father lording over every move. Magic Johnson spoiled the masses, making the transition look too facile. There’s only one Magic, who won an NBA title the year after he won the NCAA title. Not even Kobe Bryant came close to that kind of early eminence. The person to whom Ball is most compared, Jason Kidd, spent endless springs watching other teams win titles, until he finally broke through with the Mavericks, well past his prime, when he was no longer the best player on the court. Ball played one year at UCLA, and in his last college game he got schooled by Kentucky and lit up by De’Aaron Fox (39 points) during the NCAA Tournament. And rather than seize upon a moment of modesty and introspection, while giving customary credit to the victor, LaVar Ball blamed the “three white guys” who played with his son for the loss.  That simply won’t fly in the Association. It’s hard not to like the idea of a father and son going into business, even one as grandiose as this. Indeed, Lonzo Ball can ball. But maybe he should become a better baller before his father sells him as Big Baller. And perhaps remember who the most important Ball, and Baller, really is. Jason writes a weekly column for CBS Local Sports. He is a native New Yorker, sans the elitist sensibilities, and believes there’s a world west of the Hudson River. A Yankees devotee and Steelers groupie, he has been scouring the forest of fertile NYC sports sections since the 1970s. He has written over 500 columns for WFAN/CBS NY, and also worked as a freelance writer for Sports Illustrated and Newsday subsidiary amNew York. He made his bones as a boxing writer, occasionally covering fights in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, but mostly inside Madison Square Garden. Follow him on Twitter @JasonKeidel.

Baffoe: Cubs’ Success Forever Soaked In Lies

By Tim Baffoe– (CBS) The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel already used “Weathergate” to describe it. Brewers general manager David Stearns isn’t saying but is just saying. Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell slathered it in sarcasm.

On Saturday, two hours before the scheduled 1:20 p.m. first pitch, the Cubs prematurely postponed the game at Wrigley Field due to the supposed threat of rain that never hit the ballpark following a super-soaked Friday loss to the Brewers. I heard of the postponement about an hour before first pitch as I left a South Side graduation ceremony — in the rain. The fix was clearly in on a Saturday that featured “The Final Out” bobblehead giveaway that was sure to pack the house. We know that the uber-rich Ricketts family probably used several of those bobbleheads to smoke a kangaroo or something at the family compound while 40,000 dejected fans shuffled away and care less about the hit at the gate that calling the game resulted in.

Let’s call a spade a spade here: The Cubs are cheaters. And as such, serious consideration needs to be put into adding an asterisk to both their 2016 World Series championship and the one they’ll probably win in 2017. This isn’t darkening up the ball with spit and dirt or putting bowls of amphetamines in the clubhouse or excluding African Americans — which was all previously acceptable across all MLB organizations and created a level playing field league-wide. The weather forecast is sacred in baseball. And the Cubs deflated it. “Clearly, the Cubs were looking at a weather forecast that made them think it was going to rain,” Stearns said Sunday. “Our weather forecast did not indicate that. I think there were five or seven other forecasts that also did not indicate that. Ultimately, it’s the Cubs’ call. “We were a little surprised the game was called as early as it was. I’m sure they had their reasons to do it. Obviously, it didn’t rain. So, from our standpoint, we would have preferred to play yesterday. I talked with some guys with the Cubs. They knew how we felt. That’s one of the earliest games I’ve ever been involved with that was called. That surprised me a little bit.” It shouldn’t surprise that Cubs manager Joe Maddon — a individual who has turned to pitchers playing the outfield to win games — would play fast and loose with the forecast. “I didn’t know that at the time because I was still in the apartment,” Maddon said, per the Journal-Sentinel. “But it’s just like the day before. Everything indicated it was going to be exactly like the day before. “So, that’s the beauty of weather forecasting, and around here it’s very difficult.” As a fellow Italian, I can interpret what Maddon meant: “Ey, yo, wuddya talkin’ about? Da rain musta got lost in transit on da Lufthansa. Yo fuggettaboutit (grabs crotch).” It adds a lot more meaning to Maddon’s comment after Friday’s sloppy, delayed mess: “That was a very awkward day to play baseball.” Be a shame if it were to happen again. “I’m not privy to their forecasting methods or what service they use,” Stearns said. “All I know is what they told us at the time they canceled the game. They certainly knew we preferred to play. We’re of the opinion if there are playable conditions, we’d like to play. It was out of our hands yesterday.” What’s in commissioner Rob Manfred’s hands is declaring all of the heart-warming Cubbiness over the past year to be tainted. What they pulled is an affront to the game, filling a needle with lies and injecting it right into America’s pastime. “Their explanation was the weather here is tough to predict,” Stearns said. “If that’s true, I’m even more confused as to why it was called so early, if the weather here is truly that tough to predict. “It seems like it would have made a lot more sense to wait and see what actually happened with the weather. If there were other reasons the game was called, that’s something that MLB should look into.” Darn right. There were Wrigley “rainouts” last year, too. One was in chilly late April when bats tend to be at their coldest and rescheduled for a split doubleheader in August. How convenient. Who knows what’s on the up-and-up at the Friendly Confines anymore? “Friendly” like a silent business partner, if you know what I mean. Fitting that the bobblehead giveaway — “The Final Out” of the 2016 World Series — was reneged. Everything that statuette represents is a sham. The joy of last season has been “rescheduled” in my heart. The championship flags that fly at Wrigley are banners of shame. The new bullpens are built on a foundation of lies. “I feel bad for their fans,” Counsell said. “A lot of people came to a game and expected good weather. We saw them walking all around Michigan Avenue yesterday afternoon.” No doubt a few of them were confused children. I mean, what am I supposed to tell my kids, if I had any, about dishonesty like this? My childhood itself has been shook irreparably by the Cubs’ dishonesty. When I was a boy, I would wake up before the crack of dawn to beat my dad to the newspaper on our porch. I’d slide it from the protective plastic sheath (great journalism has always been mindful of wetness) and go immediately to the weather forecast, poring over it for hours because I’ve never been a strong reader. I knew at a young age that there’s a sacred symbiosis between the sports and the weather, and man has no right to play God between the two. Because weather isn’t a game. Tim Baffoe is a columnist for CBSChicago.com. Follow Tim on Twitter @TimBaffoe. The views expressed on this page are those of the author, not CBS Local Chicago or our affiliated television and radio stations.

Carpenter, Wainwright Lead Cards Past Giants 8-3 To End Skid

ST. LOUIS (AP) – Matt Carpenter homered and Adam Wainwright turned in his second successive strong outing to lead the St. Louis Cardinals over the San Francisco Giants 8-3 on Sunday. Randal Grichuk drove in four runs for St. Louis, which snapped a four-game skid. San Francisco had won seven of eight. Wainwright (4-3) allowed one run and five hits over 6 1/3 innings. He also had an RBI double in the sixth. The veteran right-hander tossed seven sharp innings in a 5-0 win over the Chicago Cubs last Sunday. Before that, Wainwright had given up four earned runs in each of his three previous starts. Carpenter hit a two-run homer off Matt Cain (3-2) in the fifth. Cain gave up seven runs and nine hits in 5 1/3 innings. He is 0-4 in six regular-season starts at Busch Stadium. Grichuk slammed a three-run double in the second to highlight a four-run outburst. He doubled home another run in the eighth. Brandon Crawford and Eduardo Nunez hit back-to-back homers in the eighth for the Giants, who were looking for their first three-game sweep on the road this season. JHONNY IS BACK St. Louis INF Jhonny Peralta is 4 for 5 since returning from the disabled list Friday. He missed 26 games with an upper respiratory ailment. Peralta singled twice and walked in his first three trips to the plate Sunday. TRAINER’S ROOM Giants: C Buster Posey was given the day off after catching all 13 innings of a 3-1 win over St. Louis on Saturday. Cardinals: 2B Kolten Wong did not start due to a stiff elbow. He is day to day. UP NEXT Giants: LHP Ty Blach (1-2, 4.15 ERA) faces Chicago Cubs RHP John Lackey (4-3, 4.37) on Monday night in the opener of a four-game series at Wrigley Field. Blach has replaced injured ace Madison Bumgarner in the rotation. Cardinals: RHP Lance Lynn (4-2, 2.78 ERA) opposes Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw (7-2, 2.15) in the first of a three-game set Tuesday night at Los Angeles. Lynn has given up two runs or fewer in five of eight starts this season. (© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Moreland Homers Again, Red Sox Tag A’s To Avoid 4-Game Sweep

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) – A five-run ninth inning for the Red Sox that lasted more than a half-hour derailed any chance Eduardo Rodriguez had of getting his first career complete game. Not that the left-hander was complaining. After a bitter loss to Oakland a year ago when he allowed just one hit over eight innings, Rodriguez was more than happy with the way things turned out. Rodriguez earned his second straight win, Mitch Moreland homered in his third consecutive game and Boston beat the Oakland Athletics 12-3 on Sunday to avoid a four-game sweep. “I wanted to go back out there but they hit the ball pretty good in that inning and I know I had to get out of the game,” Rodriguez said about the long wait. “I’ll take it because we score more runs, I have a chance to win. If every inning’s like that, I’ll get out of the game after five.” Rodriguez (3-1) allowed three runs over eight innings. He struck out eight, walked one and retired 14 of his final 15 batters. “Where he was with the pitch count, it’d be nice for him to go out there for the ninth inning given where he was and how well he was throwing the baseball,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “But at that point you’re up nine, probably about a 35-minute inning, didn’t want to take any chances.” Hanley Ramirez and Christian Vazquez had three hits apiece to power a Red Sox lineup that tallied 15 hits. Every player in Boston’s starting lineup had at least one hit, and eight of the nine drove in runs. Chad Pinder homered and drove in two runs for Oakland. Boston, which hasn’t been swept in a four-game series since July 2015, trailed 3-2 before scoring 10 runs over the final five innings. “It felt we had them on the run a little bit,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “They get the lead and then we come back and take the lead again and you feel pretty good. But they were pretty persistent today.” Pinder went deep in the fourth, his fourth home run in eight games and fifth overall. The A’s committed three errors, giving them a major league-leading 42. BRADLEY’S DEFENSIVE GEMS Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts gave the A’s trouble with his running and defense. Betts scored twice from first base and also made a pair of strong defensive plays. He made a sliding catch on Mark Canha’s sinking liner in the eighth and then slammed into the wall after catching Khris’ Davis fly to end the inning. “This place during the daytime plays very difficult,” Farrell said. “What Mookie was able to do a couple times in right field, those aren’t easy plays. To be able to stay with it, go up against the wall a couple of times, we played very good outfield defense here today.” TRAINER’S ROOM Red Sox: Brock Holt continues to deal with lingering symptoms from vertigo and isn’t yet ready to come off the disabled list, according to Farrell. Likewise, Boston plans to keep third baseman Pablo Sandoval in the minors to get consistent at-bats while recovering from a right knee sprain. … Farrell said LHP Drew Pomeranz, who took the loss Saturday, will start against Texas on Thursday. Athletics: Yonder Alonso (sore left knee) sat out his fourth straight game but could be back in the lineup Tuesday when Oakland begins a two-game series against Miami. … Sean Doolittle (strained left shoulder) threw on flat ground before making 15 pitches off the mound. The plan is for the former closer to throw 25 pitches on Wednesday. … Melvin said the team has applied for an extension on Chris Bassitt’s rehab assignment. Bassitt underwent Tommy John surgery in 2015. UP NEXT Red Sox: Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello (2-5) faces Texas on Tuesday in the opener of a three-game series at Fenway Park. Porcello has lost three of his last four decisions. Athletics: Following an off day, RHP Jesse Hahn (1-3) starts against Miami on Tuesday at the Coliseum. Hahn leads the majors in fewest home runs allowed per nine innings at 0.19. (© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Shepkowski: Budding Of A New Cubs-Brewers Rivalry?

By Nick Shepkowski–

(CBS) A quick look at the record books shows a pretty lame history between the Cubs and Brewers.

For starters, the Cubs’ main rival has been and always will be the Cardinals, and the Brewers would say the same about the Twins or White Sox. For a couple of teams so close in proximity, the Cubs-Brewers matchups up until now have been pretty uneventful. They were each other’s first interleague opponents in the summer of 1997 when the Cubs took two of three from a Brewers squad then residing in the AL Central, and a year later Sammy Sosa would hit 12 of his 66 home runs against the new addition to the National League. Save for a Brant Brown dropped fly ball though, the Cubs and Brewers hardly had any real drama. Heck, it took until 2005 for the Brewers to even have their first .500 season as a National League team. Briefly in 2007 and 2008, the two showed a threat of a new rivalry as a young Brewers core jumped out to an 8.5-game lead in 2007 before fading post All-Star break. In 2008, Milwaukee made its first playoff appearance of any kind since 1982, winning the NL wild-card as Chicago won the division. But the rivalry that appeared to be growing stopped as soon as it got started. The Cubs quickly got old and bad, forcing a complete overhaul of their front office. The young Brewers that appeared destined to be a threat in the division for the foreseeable future would make just one more playoff appearance with that core, in six games to the Cardinals in the 2011 National League Championship Series. Those same Cardinals became the class of the NL Central for the next half-decade. Sure, Bob Uecker will take a sideswipe at Cubs fans at just about any opportunity he’s given, and Ryan Braun will get booed as loud as any opposing player in Wrigley Field, but in terms of an actual rivalry, this one has left plenty to be desired. There’s some jabbing between fans at each ballpark just like anywhere else, but in a competitive, meaningful sense? Not at all. At least, until 2017. In April, Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio made headlines for questioning why Brewers first baseman Eric Thames was making such a splash and showing so much power to the opposite field, insinuating he was using performance-enhancing drugs. Cubs starter John Lackey offered a couple of winks when asked about the oppo-taco as well. There was finally some life into this matchup, which I hesitate to even call a “rivalry” until now. Then this weekend happened, which featured Saturday’s postponement two hours before first pitch. It was a rainout, except the rain never came in the afternoon. Perhaps there was residual anger on the Brewers’ part because of the Thames comments made by the Cubs earlier this season, but they were nonetheless upset with the postponement. Before Sunday’s series finale, Milwaukee general manager David Stearns questioned the decision, while manager Craig Counsell mentioned it was the first time players had came to the park with sunburns the day after being rained out. The Brewers had been red-hot entering Saturday, winners of 10 of their previous 12, while the Cubs hadn’t been playing to their potential quite yet, even after sweeping the Reds earlier in the week. In the Brewers’ eyes, it was the Cubs dodging their hot bats and getting rest for a team that only has one off day before mid-June. Both left-handers in the Cubs bullpen, Mike Montgomery and Brian Duensing, were expected to be unavailable Saturday after long outings Friday. And on top of it all, the Brewers have been among the biggest surprises in the NL, playing division-leading baseball nearly two months in. I still doubt their staying power for 2017, but it does appear Stearns has the Brewers headed in the right direction, one I’d assume they’ll continue to head in for years to come. And the Cubs, coming off of their first World Series in 108 years, are seeing what life is like when you’re no longer the “Loveable Loser,” a tag so many have wanted to lose for so long. These first couple Cubs-Brewers series of 2017 have felt different than almost all the series of older days. Maybe the Brewers fade out and aren’t a player in the NL Central in even a couple of weeks or maybe they stay hot and hold our attention until August or September. I don’t know how it plays out, otherwise I’d be in Vegas getting rich off of it. What I do know is that with the anger shown between the two early in 2017 and with both fighting for a division lead, I can’t help but think back to the early days of Bulls-Pacers, White Sox-Twins or Blackhawks-Canucks and think we might be seeing the newest meaningful rivalry for a Chicago team. Nick Shepkowski is a weekend host at 670 The Score and produces The Bernstein and Goff Show each weekday from 1 p.m.-6 p.m.  You can find all of his work here and follow him on Twitter @Shep670.