Minnesota Twins. Yes, they lost on Memorial Day, but the Twins pass the unofficial start of summer with a 10-game lead and leading the league in homers and homers allowed. Minnesota (36-17) has the best run differential in baseball at plus-110.
City of Toronto. The front office pushed a lot of chips to contend now considering that they fired last year's coach of the year and traded one of the franchise's best all-time players for one year of Kawhi Leonard. Now they are in the Finals with a shot to win it all, considering the news on Kevin Durant's calf has not been positive at all, and the scenes outside of the arena and around Toronto were awesome when the Raptors Game 6 on Saturday night.
Yes, Tiger Woods took a bad beat in poker, but Tiger's popularity at his celebrity event in Vegas was highlighted by one of the funniest things he's said. In response to a questions about the bettor who made more than $1 million betting on Tiger to win the Masters, Woods said: "F---in' great bet." He paused and then addressed the same dude betting $100,000 on Tiger winning all four majors this year. "Dumb-(bleep) for the Grand Slam part, though."
Tennessee baseball. The Vols got official word that they are in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2005. Major accomplishment for the new regime leading the baseball Vols. Here's the schedule for the college baseball regionals this weekend. Good times. UT is the 2 seed in Chapel Hill.
Lillian Atchley. Thanks to the excellent Mark Wiedmer, the TFP ace sports columnist, for sharing this excellent recount of the 90-year-old Atchley completed the Chattanooga Chase 1-miler on Monday. Tip of the visor, to Weeds and Lillian.
Giannis. The Greek Freak is likely the NBA MVP. He is going to be the Best Player on the Planet sooner rather than later. But he was handcuffed by Kawhi and the Bucks lost four straight in the Easter Conference Finals. After the Game 6 loss, Giannis stormed out of the postgame interview session. Dude has monster talent. He was clearly needs to handle the pressure better — on and off the floor.
This soccer referee who scored a goal. Here's the video, and yes, that's a bad day at the office.
Auto racing There was a time when the Indy 500 was the most important race of the year, and to be fair, this weekend's TV numbers were up from last year. But this year's TV numbers were the second-worst ever, besting only last year as the 500 moved to NBC for the first time. And as bad as that was, the Indy 500 beat the Coca-Cola 600 by 50 percent.
Lakers drama. Two staggering realizations from this Lakers 2.0 story on ESPN.com. First, who knew that this thing was so broken even BEFORE the road show that LeBron brings arrived. Second, man oh man that Rob Pelinka looks just like Rob Lowe. (Side question: Baxter Holmes is a great writer's name, but it feels more like a novelist more than a sports writer, no? Feels like the conversation should go: "Did you read, "The Time of Aging" by Baxter Holmes? It's divine.")
Sports culture in general and the scruples-less decision makers of Mount Vernon High School. Yes, without a trip to a state championship game, Mount Vernon's leaders decided that hiring Art Briles — and all that awfulness he inflicted in the lives of dozens of females at Baylor University by Briles' consistently turning a blind eye to the assaults and attacks committed by players before, during and after their time with Briles — was the answer. Friends, if hiring Briles is ever the answer, then the question has become entirely too important and misunderstood. Know this: If my daughter attended Mount Vernon, we are finding a new place to attend.
OK, the SEC spring meetings in Destin start today and there certainly is not a lack of storylines.
There's the certain talk of the monster checks the Big Ten handed to its member schools recently.
There's the transfer portal.
There are the new ADs in the SEC West, who moved from one SEC school to another SEC school.
There is the success in basketball, baseball, softball and others that the league is enjoying.
There is the conversation of beer and wine in stadiums.
And there is the conversation that could steal the show about the NCAA exploring ways for players to make money off their likenesses and personal brands.
As for that last one, no league will have a harder time policing itself — and more importantly its interested boosters and program backers — on maintaining levels of properness and ethics. (Yes, I just used ethics in a NCAA discussion, so this makes it almost wrong on its face.)
But think of the big-bankrolled boosters who could make a five-star quarterback or the No. 1-ranked shooting guard the face of their organization if they land in Auburn or Gainesville or anywhere in between?
So, cue the sound bites and get ready for the party lines on a lot of these topics — and here's betting ol' Greg Sankey Leg has already circulated some sheets with those talking points — for this week.
This and that
— Interesting conversations here about concussions for catchers in baseball. Here's betting this proposed rule change — catchers with head injuries can leave the game to get checked in the clubhouse for a concussion and if cleared could return to the game — gets very serious consideration.
— Clayton Kershaw is 5-0. You kind of expect that from the best pitcher of his generation who makes more than $1 million per start. He, however, is doing it with a mid-3 ERA and a .244 average against. Kershaw's 95-mph heater that set-up an almost hittable curve and a paralyzing slider is a thing of the past, so he's having to use guile more than gas. Still, how skewed are those numbers compared to his career numbers? His career ERA is 2.42 and his career average against is .208.
— Marques Bolden is skipping his senior season at Duke to turn pro. Now if he was a chemical engineering major and made this decision for a big-time job interview with Dow, no one would blink an eye. But because he plays hoops, and he averaged all of 5.4 points per game last year, folks are poo-pooing this. Well, as the No. 1 center recruit in the 2016 class, if there had not been a rule forcing players into at least the one-and-done, you have to think potential alone would have gotten Bolden a first-round grade and millions of dollars. So for the folks trying to pimp the argument that these kids should not leave early, Bolden is an example of how forcing them to go to college at all is hurtful to them in certain cases, too.
— Speaking of different paths to the NBA, R.J. Hampton, the No. 5 overall player in the ESPN Class of 2020 will play professionally in New Zealand before entering the draft 13 months from now.
— OK, we watched James Holzhauer on Jeopardy! last night, and dude is an absolute buzz saw. He did not miss an answer. He got all three Daily Doubles — doubling up on the first round clue to take more than $22,000 into the commercial break while his competition had totals in the hundreds. James won $130,000-plus and has almost $2.2 million in 28 wins. He's on pace to beat Ken Jennings' all-time by next Monday.
— Tough weekend for former sports stars. Bart Starr, a dude in the NFL, died. So did Bill Buckner.
— Did anyone else think it was weird that the Braves did not play on Memorial Day? I know I did.
— The conclusion to the NCAA golf tournament on the golf channel to determine the eight teams in match play was pretty excellent TV last night. (Side note: Oklahoma State is crushing folks like few other college dynasties in recent memory — Alabama football included.)
Weekend winners and losers. Discuss.
Also, it's a Tuesday, true or false time. (True.)
True or false, iIf Clayton Kershaw retired today, he's a Hall of Famer.
True or false, Bill Buckner is the most connected player to a negative play in the last 50 years of sports. (Side note: All the after-the-fact hand-wringing — from the Olbermann op-ed to the Darren Rovel Twitter mea culpas — seems disingenuous to me. Where was this when he was alive? And yes, 2,715 hits is a strong amount, but dude won one batting title and made one all-star team. He was not a Hall of Famer.)
True or false, every MLB team should play on Memorial Day.
As for today, May 28, the lil 5-at-10 Princess is 9 today. Good day.
On this day in 1830, Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act, which started the Trail of Tears.
Jim Thorpe would have been 132 today.
Wow, Phil Hartman was killed on this day in 1998.
Today is National Hamburger Day. Rushmore of best additions to a hamburger.