About Last Night: Time Running Out for Dodgers

In case you were busy remembering when Kirk Gibson made the impossible happen in the year of the improbable, here’s what you missed in sports on Tuesday:

  • Matt Holliday and Shane Robinson hit the first two home runs of the NLCS and the St. Louis Cardinals are one game away from the World Series after their 4-2 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers. “Man, what a thrill to be a part of that slugfest,” said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny after the game. “For fans who love offense, tonight was your night. It was just fireworks and explosions.” Matheny then chuckled and added, “I mean six runs? In regulation? What game were we even playing? Hockey?”
  • Mike Napoli’s solo home run off Justin Verlander was all the offense Boston would need, as John Lackey and the Red Sox bullpen led their team to a 1-0 win over the Detroit Tigers and a 2-1 series lead in the ALCS. The game was notably interrupted by a 17-minute power outage in the second inning, a time that Lackey referred to as “one of those things where my stuff was bad before the thing, then the power outage happens, and boom, my stuff gets good again. It’s like some sort of small version of my last few years.” When asked if he was saying the power outage was perhaps microcosmic of his career in Boston, Lackey replied, “Nah, I’m just talking about like how things can be going badly, and then they can change and be good again, and like, this moment was like a tiny version of that feeling, which I know all too well.” When told that’s what a microcosm is, an angry Lackey responded, “I’m not an idiot, OK? I’m not talking about some sort of tiny universe where Neil deGrasse Tyson is a wizard. I’m talking about a small version of a big thing! Like this conversation, and how it’s like all my relationships with the Boston media, but in a small amount of time.” Lackey then shook his head and said, “There’s gotta be a word for that.”
  • Graham Zusi scored a stunning stoppage-time equalizer as the U.S. men’s national team registered a 3-2 win over Panama in the final game of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying. While the U.S. had already qualified for the tournament, Zusi’s goal was notable because it kept rival Mexico’s World Cup hopes alive. After sending his team away to celebrate after the match, USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann was looking over a whiteboard filled with notes in his office, when he suddenly dropped his coffee mug. As the mug shattered on the ground, voices and fragments of Zusi’s stories came rushing back into Klinsmann’s head: “Back when I was playing four-a-side in Skokie, Illinois … I know some redhead who played in California, his name is Lalas … you can talk to Sigi Schmid about me, big fat guy, I mean orca fat … back when I played with the U-20s down in Guatemala we used to make the best coffee … I know Clint Dempsey is a good man … the greatest trick Rafa Marquez pulled was convincing the world he was past his prime … I need to convince you to play me … there was a teammate of mine, Kei Kamara … convince you … convince you … convince you …”
  • In a battle of Western Conference unbeatens, the San Jose Sharks maintained their perfect start to the NHL season by thrashing the St. Louis Blues 6-2. “I think we have to be the most intimidating team in the league right now,” said Sharks captain Joe Thornton, who had a goal and three assists in the game, while wearing a sweater featuring teal accents. “They tried to hurt Dan Boyle tonight, and we ran them off the ice. No one is going to mess with us now,” Thornton added as he mindlessly rubbed the cartoon shark biting a hockey stick that is emblazoned on his teal-accented sweater. “Toughness and intimidation,” Thornton concluded as he drew strength from the teal shading on the face of the cartoon shark biting a stick on his teal sweater. “That’s what we’re all about in San Jose.”
  • England clinched a berth in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil after Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard scored in the Three Lions’ 2-0 win over Poland. “People will say this just sets us up to fail later,” said team captain Gerrard after the match, “but I don’t think that’s true. I mean, not only does no one expect us to win anymore. No one even expects anyone to expect us to win. We’re the first English team in a long time to have such low expectations of expectations. The last team with such low expectations of expectations was the ’66 team and they won the World Cup, so maybe we can follow in their …” Gerrard then trailed off, let out a deep sigh, and asked plaintively, “I just brought back the expectations of expectations, didn’t I?”
  • LeBron James surprised many by naming Allen Iverson as the second-biggest influence on his game behind Michael Jordan. “You guys were surprised by that?” James later said incredulously as he reacted to the media reaction to his statements. “I mean we’re talking about influences. We’re not talking about coaches. We’re not talking about teammates. We’re talking about influences. When you come to the arena, and you see me play, you’ve seen me get coached up and play with teammates, but we’re talking about influences right now. Influences.” When told that it was just funny he listed Iverson as his second-biggest influence, James added, “Hey, it’s funny to me, too, it’s strange to me, too, but we’re talking about influences. We’re not even talking about mentors, who actually matter. We’re talking about influences.” When asked if perhaps having different influences would make his teammates better, James laughed and asked, “How in the hell can I make my teammates better by having influences? We’re not even talking about practice. We’re talking about influences. Influences.”
  • A stunned Jurgen Klinsmann didn’t pick up his broken mug, and instead went sprinting from his office, right as a fax came in from FIFA regarding peculiarities with the eligibility of one of his players. “Graham Zusi!” Klinsmann yelled at a security guard as he reached the parking lot. “Which way did he go?” Suddenly, Klinsmann’s own words started to reverberate in his skull. He remembered telling Zusi, “I’m smarter than you, and I’ll play you when it’s right whether you like it or not, because you are stupid Zusi. And you’ll always get played.” And he remembered Zusi’s smile, and his words on Mexico: “You think that Rafa Marquez would come this close to getting eliminated from World Cup contention, and then he’d stick his head out? My guess is you’ll never hear from him again.” Just then Klinsmann saw that Zusi wasn’t with the rest of his team, but he didn’t see the Jaguar sedan pull away behind him, “Graham Zusi” riding shotgun. “And like that,” Zusi’s voice echoed one last time, “poof, he’s gone.”

Filed Under: About Last Night, Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers, Justin Verlander, Lebron James, Los Angeles Dodgers, Michael Jordan, San Jose Sharks, St. Louis Cardinals

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Spike Friedman is a contributing writer for Grantland and makes theater with the Satori Group in Seattle, Washington.

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