When I was a young kid, I used to love going to AHL hockey games for one reason: the fights. The ultimate goal for an AHL player is usually to play in the NHL, so they generally want it more than NHL players. No aspect of the game is better at highlighting that than the fights. Apparently the same is true for minor league baseball.
Deadspin called our attention to a great brawl that took place recently between the Class A affiliates of of the Rangers and Blue Jays. There are two special things about the fight: real punches are exchanged, and the war begins after a grounder to second base. Have a look at the Spokane Indians and Vancouver Canadians fight video:
If you need a point of comparison, just check out this recent fight video from the MLB. Told you the minor leaguers want it more.
- baseball fights
Oklahoma City Thunder guard Nate Robinson said in an interview published Monday that he’s considering playing football while the NBA lockout is ongoing. While many of his fellow basketball players are making plans to play overseas, be it Turkey, France, or even Finland (Finland!), Robinson may be the first one who’s serious about crossing over into another sport.
“I might go play football,” Robinson told SLAM. “Do something that nobody’s tried to do.”
“If I can, I would love to play football a little bit,” says Robinson less than half-jokingly. “I’ve been doing a little bit of training.”
Robinson did play cornerback for the Washington Huskies football team before deciding to focus exclusively on basketball in 2003. He’s fast and he has the pedigree (his father was a Huskies running back), but this may be more of an Ochocinco-like stunt.
“Why wouldn’t you want to have an NBA player that can play football try out? That’s a lot of publicity for your organization,” he explained.
A lot of publicity for an organization? Hmm, where have we seen that before.
There was a time when Robinson could have been a good college football player, but he gave it up and now it’s too late to think about playing pro football. What he really should worry about is finding a way to become a more valuable contributor to his basketball team. Since being traded by the Knicks, he’s hardly had an impact on his new clubs. But if he is serious about playing football, maybe he and World Metta Peace can form their own league.
Chest bump to IamaGM.com for the tip
The 2011 Home Run Derby was pretty enjoyable, but there was one key element missing from the competition: Justin Upton. The young Diamondbacks outfielder is a reserve for the NL All-Star team but was left off the Home Run Derby team despite wanting to participate. For the first time, the Home Run Derby selected team captains from each League and allowed them to choose their teammates.
Prince Fielder was the captain of the NL squad and he chose Matt Kemp, Matt Holliday, and teammate Rickie Weeks to participate. Holliday only has 12 home runs on the season compared to Upton’s 15, so one could argue that was a stretch. But Diamondbacks fans were more upset that Fielder showed favoritism by picking Weeks, who is not known as a power hitter (though he does have 17 this season).
Arizona fans, who as we learned are much more hardcore than we ever thought, let Prince and Weeks hear it with boos. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says fans booed Prince during afternoon batting practice and throughout the Derby.
Weeks also was booed throughout the Derby. He didn’t know why he was being booed, and he didn’t care for it. “You don’t want anybody booing you,” said Weeks. “I didn’t know what it was about at first. I guess I understand. It is what it is.”
As I said, Diamondbacks fans are much more hardcore than we ever thought, and this is just one more example. But they have a right to be upset. The Home Run Derby is a time to showcase some of the best power hitters in the game. Upton hits some of the longest home runs in baseball. With the game being played at Chase Field, he was a natural fit. Prince and MLB blew it with this one and the boos make sense.
Five days after Shannon Stone died falling over the railing at a Rangers game, some unwise fan at the Home Run Derby in Arizona did this:
Now I know what you’re thinking right now … did he make the grab?? Turns out that the man in question, Keith Carmickle, and his friends already had caught three balls and were hungry for more. Luckily his friends caught his legs before he fell over.
Here’s another look at the picture, from an up-close angle via Big League Stew:
- 2011 Home Run Derby
We’ve seen some pretty sweet grabs on foul balls at baseball games, but there are very few catches that will earn the respect of men the way this will. Some guy in the pool at Chase Field in Arizona made a leaping grab on an Adrian Gonzalez home run ball and still managed to save his beer. Check out the video via Jose 3030:
I was impressed when a one-armed military vet caught a foul ball at a Yankees game recently, but the beer save was pretty sweet. Help us out here: which was better, the guy saving the beer, or this grab?
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Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano won the Home Run Derby at Chase Field in Arizona, crushing 32 home runs. The three-time All-Star was an unlikely winner; he entered the competition with the second-fewest dingers on the season (14), and he had the second-longest odds to win according to most handicappers.
But there he was, hitting a record 12 home runs in the final round despite making just six outs. And he did it all hitting off his father.
Jose Cano, a former pitcher, was Robinson’s Home Run Derby pitcher. Jose pitches to Robinson during the winter and pitched batting practice to him at Yankee Stadium Friday. The elder Cano tossed 23 innings in his Major League career, going 1-1 for the Houston Astros with a 5.09 ERA in 1989.
Cano said of his father he’s “The one that knows me really well, the one I practice with the whole season.” Robinson also acknowledged he was a little worried his dad would be nervous, but that was not an issue.
Looking back at it, perhaps it’s no surprise Cano won it. He has a simple, smooth swing — the kind that generally leads to success in the derby. While other batters may be able to hit balls farther than him, he can do it on a more regular basis.
This also gave us the coolest father-son sports moment since the U.S. Open.
LBS spoke with former nine-time All-Star center fielder Fred Lynn. Lynn is working with the SUBWAY Baseball DeSIGNS tour, which is a traveling display of baseballs designed by kids and autographed by celebrities. The balls, which you can see here, will be auctioned off in late August with all proceeds benefiting the Little League Urban Initiative.
We talked with Lynn about the All-Star Game, what factors have led to baseball becoming a pitcher’s game again, and whether he would have considered using steroids as a player. We also asked him if he ever wondered what his career would have been like had he signed with the Yankees out of high school instead of attending college and getting drafted by the rival Red Sox. He also told us that the All-Star Game being played for home field advantage is gimmicky. Our interview follows.
LBS: Personally, you had a lot of success playing in All-Star games. You’re facing some of the finest pitchers in baseball in these All-Star games. How were you able to do it?
Lynn: All-Star games are usually played sometimes early in July. I was always a good hitter in June and most of the time that followed up into the All-Star Game. When you play in those games, my focus was extremely high. You’re facing Hall of Fame pitchers, and you know it at the time — you want to do really well. I enjoyed playing on that stage against the best players on the planet. Fortunately for me, I did pretty well on that stage.
Whoever is driving the following car is definitely a nominee for moron of the year. Why they have automobiles driving this close to cyclists is in itself a mystery. There is enough danger involved with the contestants riding so close to each other, let alone allowing media vehicles to buzz around them in the meantime. We have seen some crazy stuff happen at the Tour de France like this fight or this headbutt, but this definitely has to be one of the scariest moments. Check out this video of a car bumping Juan Antonio Flecha at the Tour de France:
The cyclist who went crashing through the fence, Johnny Hoogerland, may have gotten the worst of the crash considering the fence was made of barbed wire. Fortunately, neither rider was seriously injured. There is still no debating that that is an accident that should not happen. Here’s a pretty good picture of the crash from CNN International.
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- Tour de France
While there has not been much talk about them over the course of the season, the L.A. Angels wrapped up the first half of the season on an absolute tear. The Angels’ record of 50-42 is nothing tremendous, but this is a team that was 36-39 heading into June 22 and has since won 14 out of 17 games including eight of their last nine. For a team that is clicking on all cylinders, one might wonder if the All-Star Break has arrived at an inopportune time. On Sunday, Torii Hunter made it clear that he really can’t predict what will become of the team.
Classic. Hunter is a respected clubhouse figure and a known team leader, so we all know his comment was all in good fun despite the fact that somebody somewhere will certainly be up in arms about it. The bottom line is questions like that one are asked constantly but are always impossible to answer. It’s nice when a player gives us a laugh from one of them, because that’s about the most we can ever get from it.
- Torii Hunter
It takes a real man to admit his mistakes, especially when that man is a 22-year-old superstar who already has more money than he knows what to do with. Even the most chauvinistic bro who has seen Rory McIlroy’s girlfriend probably would be not upset with Northern Ireland’s finest taking an extremely humble stance when talking about his better half. If talking about having to beg to get his girlfriend back makes McIlroy sound a little soft, he clearly doesn’t care.
That’s right — the same confident and arrogant golfer who won the U.S. Open less than a month ago and turned the trophy into his own personal cocktail glass admitted in a recent documentary that getting Holly Sweeney back after a brief hiatus was one of the more difficult tasks he’s ever had to tackle.
“At the start of the year I wanted to take a break and just focus on my game,’ McIlroy told BBC Northern Ireland, via Mail Online, in a documentary entitled Rory’s Major Breakthrough.
“But I realized pretty quickly I had made a huge mistake, and I had to do a lot of begging and grovelling to get her back. Holly (left, with McIlroy) is fantastic. I have known her for six years and for someone my age that is a huge chunk of my life. She keeps my feet on the ground and knows the things to say to me. She has been such a great support. She takes my mind off golf and everything else that is going on.”
Oh yeah, and she’s one of Steve’s smokin’ hot sports girlfriends for those of you who weren’t aware. This isn’t the first time Rory has credited Sweeney for keeping him grounded, so our boy is obviously just comfortable in his own skin. Got a problem with that?