About Last Night: Wild Card Woes

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In case you were out living a life of leisure, here’s what you missed in sports on Tuesday.

  • The Orioles dealt the Rays a vicious blow to their playoff hopes, winning 4-2 on the strength of Matt Wieters’ eighth-inning home run. Rich people everywhere toasted the loss, seeing it as a confirmation that you can’t succeed in America without money. Poor people also toasted the loss, because the rich people convinced them that Rays manager Joe Maddon wanted to take their guns.

  • The Red Sox capitalized on the Rays loss and Tim Wakefield picked up his 200th career win in an 18-6 rout of the Blue Jays. Some reporters expected Wakefield to try to make the case that he was now worthy of the Hall of Fame, but it never happened. Turns out, the dude has no spin.
  • Pessimism about the timely start of the NBA season was high as another round of talks between players and owners produced no results. “Well, we did not have a great day, I think it’s fair to say that,” Commissioner David Stern said. Still, Stern himself had a solid day, tallying a rare quadruple-double with 11 calculated stall tactics, 10 decoy concessions, 13 dramatic sighs, and 12 trips to the water cooler because he “can’t believe what he’s hearing.”
  • In the opening day of Champions League group stages play, AC Milan stunned Barcelona at the Camp Nou, scoring a goal in extra time to salvage a 2-2 draw. The Italians finally wore down the attacking Spanish side with their “catenaccio” style of defense before equalizing. “Catenaccio” is an Italian word that roughly translates to “placing all 11 members of the team directly in front of the goal until Americans stop watching our sport.”
  • Bud Selig is reportedly angry that the Mets went public with the information that MLB wouldn’t let the team wear FDNY and NYPD hats on September 11. The team instead wore a commemorative 9/11 cap with an American flag on the side. “What nobody realizes,” said Selig, “is that the Mets are always requesting special hats. Green leprechaun bowlers on St. Patrick’s Day, those tiny cycling caps during the Tour de France … hell, Jose Reyes tried to wear a giant hammer strapped to his head on Labor Day.”
  • The Minnesota Timberwolves are hiring Rick Adelman as their next head coach. And did you ever think you’d live to see the day when the most dynamic sports team on the planet hired the most dynamic human being? I sure didn’t. Then again, I never thought the world would see a cooler place than the Metrodome, then BAM! Mall of America!
  • Boise State football’s long run as a clean program ended yesterday when the NCAA placed them on probation for three years. They’ll also lose three scholarships each year, which means the team will likely have to use walk-ons for the thankless job of rubbing wild indigo on the field until the grass turns its bright shade of blue.
  • The first three winning horses at the Belmont Stakes on Sunday wore numbers 9, 1, and 1. The odd coincidence became national news, though it was largely ignored that the next seven winners wore the exact same digits of the serial number on Dick Cheney’s shotgun.
  • With a chance to become the first team to clinch a playoff sport, the Phillies lost to the Astros for the second straight game. Clint Barmes hit a three-run homer to secure the 5-2 win, and now Phillies rookie Michael Schwimer is going to have to lug 1,000 champagne bottles to the ballpark all over again and wonder if that whole equipment manager strike thing is true.
  • Justin Verlander earned his 23rd win of the season, and the Tigers posted their 11th straight victory overall, with a 5-0 win over the White Sox. The team has all but clinched the AL Central title, and Verlander has all but clinched the AL Cy Young. That’s fine. But if they want to clinch our hearts, they have to quit being stubborn and produce a real showstopping musical number.
    Now, as promised, some fake outrage emails from Tuesday’s post. There were a ton of great responses, but these three dealt specifically (and brilliantly) with the theme of discounting the 63-yard field goals by Sebastian Janikowski and Jason Elam due to Denver’s thin air. Well done to all.
    ARE YOU KIDDING ME? The thin air surely contributes to the length of a kick, but not as much as the metal shoe that [Tom] Dempsey wore due to a birth defect on his kicking foot. He’s the Oscar Pistorius of pudgy placekickers from the 1970s. If there should be an asterisk next to the two Denver kicks, there should be a freaking Monopoly metal shoe next to Dempsey’s name. In my opinion the true record, surely one of the most hallowed records in sport, belongs to Matt Bryant for his 62 yard game winner with the Bucs in 2006. — Ben R.
    Yes, balls can travel further in the thin air of the Mile High City. You know what else makes balls travel farther? The freaking metal plate in Tom Dempsey’s bionic foot! If ever there was a record in pro sports to be ignored, it’s the one he achieved with his Ace-is-the-place clubfoot. This guy makes Barry Bonds look like Lady Byng, and Janikowski is the one who cheated his way in? If anything, Janikowski should be lauded for achieving such greatness after giving himself date rape drugs. — Andrew B.
    An asterisk next to Elam and Janakowski??!! Can you be serious??!! What about a big, freaking, giant-sized * next to Dempsey’s name? Did you forget he got to kick using a nice, flat, special-made shoe with a flat kicking surface?? It’s like kicking the ball with a big, huge, swinging mallet! The best thing that ever happened to Dempsey’s kicking career was being born with no toes on his right foot! The NFL thought it was such an advantage they changed the rules because of him! You can shove this opinion right up your *! — Robert G.


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Filed Under: About Last Night, Boise State, Boston Red Sox, Justin Verlander, Minnesota Timberwolves, NBA, NBA Lockout, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, Tampa Bay Rays

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Shane Ryan is a contributing writer for Grantland. His book about the young stars of the PGA Tour will be published by Random House in early 2015.

Archive @ ShaneRyanHere