The Sports Report: USC, UCLA to welcome full stadiums when football returns
Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.
Ben Bolch on college football: On the day California hailed its full-scale reopening amid a pandemic on the wane, UCLA and USC football fans could celebrate the renewal of a treasured fall tradition: their home stadiums teeming with activity.
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Athletic officials from both schools announced Tuesday that the Rose Bowl and Coliseum would welcome back fans at 100% capacity starting Aug. 28 with the Bruins’ home opener against Hawaii.
Details about safety protocols at the stadiums are expected to be announced later. As part of the full reopening plans announced last month for California’s five Major League Baseball teams, state officials recommended but did not require that fans provide proof of vaccination or a negative test for COVID-19. Face masks are not required for fully vaccinated fans at those venues.
USC athletic director Mike Bohn said in a statement that his school would align with the latest state guidance regarding safety protocols for sporting events in addition to meeting county, city and campus directives.
The Rose Bowl (capacity: 80,000) and Coliseum (77,500) sat empty for games last season except for essential stadium workers, school officials and media. A joint bid by UCLA and USC officials to allow family members to watch their sons play was denied by California and Los Angeles County public health officials, who cited the rising community spread of COVID-19.
But with viral case numbers and deaths continuing to decline and a corresponding relaxation of restrictions, fans will once again be woven into the fabric of fall football.
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Jorge Castillo on the Dodgers: The Dodgers’ 67th game of the 2021 regular season, played Tuesday night against the Philadelphia Phillies, was unlike any of the first 66 before a pitch was thrown.
The difference was in the stands. For the first time since Game 5 of the 2019 National League Division Series, the last heartbreaking defeat in the club’s tortured championship drought, Dodger Stadium was filled to maximum capacity. With it came the persistent buzz between pitches unique to baseball. The deafening, ground-shaking cheers. The players feeding off the energy.
In the end, a sellout crowd of 52,078 people squeezed into seats, filling nearly every section in the ballpark for the Dodgers’ 5-3 win. The team said it was the largest crowd for a professional team sports league game in the United States since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last March.
The capacity crowd witnessed the Dodgers, winners of seven of eight games, improve to 41-26 and a season-high 15 games over .500. It roared the loudest in the seventh inning when Mookie Betts, playing his first game in front of a full home crowd as a Dodger, blasted an 0-2 changeup for a go-ahead solo home run.
Dodger Stadium trembled once the home run landed over the wall in center field. A woman in a white Betts No. 50 jersey battled traffic to catch it with her mitt. Betts pumped his fist as his trot reached second base for his eighth home run of the season. The last time he had heard cheers that loud at Dodger Stadium he was on the other side, playing for the Boston Red Sox in the 2018 World Series.
“Finally playing in a full Dodger Stadium on the right team is definitely something I’ve been looking forward to,” said Betts, who finished 3 for 5. “And being able to play a good game was the cherry on top.”
It was the crescendo for what the Dodgers coined “Reopening Day.” The team busted out the uniforms they wore for the home opener in April, home whites with gold trimming and a cap to match. Brad Paisley sang the national anthem. Justin Turner bobbleheads were given to the first 25,000 fans who arrived.
Mike DiGiovanna on the Angels: Shohei Ohtani crushed his 18th homer of the season Tuesday night, an eighth-inning blast that left his bat at 116 mph and traveled 429 feet to right field. Jared Walsh added his 15th homer in the ninth, a solo shot that left his bat at 109 mph and traveled 426 feet to center field.
But on a night that ended with a pair of long balls, the Angels still came up short, their 6-4 loss to the Oakland Athletics dropping them eight games behind the first-place A’s in the American League West and one game under .500 (33-34).
Frankie Montas, the former Dodgers prospect who was sent to Oakland for pitcher Rich Hill and outfielder Josh Reddick at the 2016 trade deadline, outpitched Angels left-hander Andrew Heaney, and the A’s won the first two games of a three-game series, snuffing out the Angels’ six-game win streak.
“Of course, it’s suboptimal, as they say,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “But there’s nothing to be upset about. We’re playing hard. We’re doing a lot of good things. We’re banged up a little bit, so I have to give my guys a lot of credit.”
The Angels have been without three-time AL most valuable player Mike Trout (right-calf strain) since May 18, and third baseman Anthony Rendon sat out Tuesday night’s game because of a mild right-triceps strain, an injury that is not believed to be serious.
Andrew Greif on the Clippers: After Utah guard Donovan Mitchell served as his team’s primary ballhandler, scorer and playmaker through the first three games of this second-round playoff series, his coach Quin Snyder was asked before tipoff of the fourth game Monday whether he was concerned about wearing his young guard out.
When it came to initiating the offense, Snyder quipped that he didn’t exactly have many options.
“I’m not going to have Rudy [Gobert] bring it up right now,” Snyder said.
The response had the timing of a joke, but hinted at a truth that, for the Jazz, has become seriously concerning.
Four games into a tied series, the tight right hamstring of point guard Mike Conley has hamstrung Utah’s opportunity to knock out the Clippers. Without the 33-year-old point guard’s off-the-dribble creation for others and 54% three-point shooting in the playoffs, the Clippers have won the last two games by double digits in part by loading up their defense to take away as many opportunities for Mitchell as possible.
As Snyder said before Game 4, “we’re asking him to do a lot right now.”
Conley is questionable to play today in Game 5 at Salt Lake City.
Helene Elliott: Clippers appear ready to take their new act to a bigger stage
Mark Zeigler on the U.S. Open: Jon Rahm had a six-stroke lead after the third round at the Memorial Tournament on June 5 when, walking off the 18th green, he was informed he had tested positive for COVID-19 and would have to withdraw. It likely cost him his sixth PGA Tour win and $1.67 million in prize money.
That was the least of his problems.
His parents were flying in Monday night from Spain to his home in Scottsdale, Ariz., marking the first time he would see them in more than a year and the first time they would see his 2-month-old son. And he was stuck in Columbus, Ohio, looking at a 10-day quarantine. His positive test precluded hopping on a Southwest Airlines flight or a private jet. Driving? Columbus to Scottsdale is 1,865 miles.
The solution: an air ambulance.
“That’s how we got it done,” Rahm said. “Right next to one of those tables that carry people that are actually — you know, kind of sketchy, but I got home.”
Rahm was speaking Tuesday morning at Torrey Pines Golf Course, site of the 121st U.S. Open, a tournament he is favored to win. He had already practiced on the front nine Monday, was getting ready to play the back nine and spoke with the relief of a man who realized things could have been much worse.
“Just getting ready for the worst,” he said of his emotions a week earlier.
It never happened. He was asymptomatic. None of his family or close associates seem to have contracted the virus from him. And instead of remaining in isolation until 7 a.m. Tuesday and feeling “a little bit underprepared,” he was cleared Saturday morning after consecutive negative tests 24 hours apart.
Thu Nhi Nguyen on the Sparks: More than half an hour after the Sparks wrapped up practice Tuesday, Nia Coffey was still on the court at the team’s Glendale practice facility. While others called it a day, the Sparks forward was working on additional drills. She used her T-shirt to wipe sweat off her face as she sat down in front of the camera for a planned videoconference.
Five years and four franchises into her WNBA career, Coffey knows the value of extra work, but she shouldn’t be depicted as just a determined role player who has finally carved out a spot in the pros through long hours in the gym.
Call her what she is: a good basketball player.
“We knew Nia was a hard worker, a great person, high integrity, high character,” Fisher said, “but I think sometimes that gets lost in how talented that she actually is.”
Shelby Houlihan, the American record holder in the 1,500 and 5,000 meters, posted on social media that she’d been banned for four years following a positive test that she said was the result of eating a pork burrito.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled June 11 to ban Houlihan for four years for the “presence/use of a prohibited substance (nandrolone)” in a Dec. 15 sample. The ban is retroactive to Jan. 14.
Houlihan’s announcement of the ban on her Instagram account Monday arrived days before the start of the U.S. Olympic track and field trials in Eugene, Ore., where the top three in each event earn a spot at the Tokyo Games. She finished 11th at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics in the 5,000 meters.
The 28-year-old Houlihan said she received an email from the Athletics Integrity Unit on Jan. 14 notifying her that a drug testing sample returned a finding for nandrolone, an anabolic steroid. She said she’d since learned it had “long been understood by WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) that eating pork can lead to a false positive for nandrolone, since certain types of pigs produce it naturally in high amounts. Pig organ meat (offal) has the highest levels of nandrolone.”
Houlihan made a list of all the food she ate leading up to a Dec. 15 test that produced the adverse analytical finding for the anabolic steroid.
“We concluded that the most likely explanation was a burrito purchased and consumed approximately 10 hours before that drug test from an authentic Mexican food truck that serves pig offal near my house in Beaverton, Oregon,” Houlihan wrote. “I notified the AIU that I believed this was the source.”
The Ducks have hired Geoff Ward and Mike Stothers to replace assistant coaches Mark Morrison and Marty Wilford.
The Ducks announced the overhaul of head coach Dallas Eakins’ staff Tuesday. Morrison and Wilford both could end up in other jobs in the organization.
Anaheim (17-30-9) elected to keep general manager Bob Murray and Eakins earlier this spring after finishing with the worst record by points percentage in franchise history, and the second-worst record in the NHL. The Ducks will have the third overall pick in the upcoming draft after missing the playoffs for the third consecutive season.
NBA PLAYOFFS SCHEDULE/RESULTS
All times Pacific
No. 1 Utah vs. No. 4 Clippers
Utah 112, Clippers 109
Utah 117, Clippers 111
Clippers 132, Utah 106
Clippers 118, Utah 104
Tonight: at Utah, 7 p.m., TNT
Friday: at Clippers, 7 p.m., ESPN
*Sunday: at Utah, TBD, TBD
No. 2 Phoenix Suns vs. No. 3 Denver Nuggets
Phoenix 122, Denver 105
Phoenix 123, Denver 98
Phoenix 116, Denver 102
Phoenix 125, Denver 118
No. 1 Philadelphia vs. No. 5 Atlanta
Atlanta 128, Philadelphia 124
Philadelphia 118, Atlanta 102
Philadelphia 127, Atlanta 111
Atlanta 103, Philadelphia 100
Today: at Philadelphia, 4:30 p.m., TNT
Friday: at Atlanta, 4:30 p.m., ESPN
*Sunday: at Philadelphia, TBD, TBD
No. 2 Brooklyn Nets vs. No. 3 Milwaukee Bucks
Brooklyn 115, Milwaukee 107
Brooklyn 125, Milwaukee 86
Milwaukee 86, Brooklyn 83
Milwaukee 107, Brooklyn 96
Brooklyn 114, Milwaukee 108
Thursday: at Milwaukee, 5:30 p.m., ESPN
*Saturday: at Brooklyn, TBD, TNT
NHL PLAYOFFS SCHEDULE/RESULTS
STANLEY CUP SEMIFINALS
All times Pacific
No. 1 Vegas vs. No. 4 Montreal
Vegas 4, Montreal 1
Tonight: at Vegas, 6 p.m., NBCSN
Friday: at Montreal, 5 p.m., USA
Sunday: at Montreal, 5 p.m.: NBCSN
*Tuesday: at Vegas, 6 p.m., NBCSN
*Thursday, June 24: at Montreal, 5 p.m., USA
*Saturday, June 26: at Vegas, 5 p.m., NBCSN
No. 2 Tampa Bay vs. No. 3 New York Islanders
New York 2, Tampa Bay 1
Tampa Bay 4, New York 2
Thursday: at New York, 5 p.m., USA
Saturday: at New York, 5 p.m., USA
Monday: at Tampa Bay, 5 p.m., NBCSN
*Wednesday, June 23: at New York, 5 p.m., NBCSN
*Friday, June 25: at Tampa Bay, 5 p.m., NBCSN
THIS DATE IN SPORTS
1927 — Tommy Armour wins the U.S. Open with a three-stroke victory over Harry Cooper in a playoff.
1946 — Lloyd Mangrum edges Byron Nelson and Vic Ghezzi to win the U.S. Open by one stroke in a 36-hole playoff.
1951 — Ben Hogan captures the U.S. Open for the second straight year with a two-stroke comeback victory over Clayton Heafner.
1956 — Cary Middlecoff wins the U.S. Open by one stroke over Ben Hogan and Julius Boros.
1968 — Lee Trevino becomes the first golfer to play all four rounds of the U.S. Open under par as he beats Jack Nicklaus by four strokes.
1974 — Hale Irwin beats Forrest Fezler by two strokes to win the U.S. Open. In what becomes known as the “Massacre at Winged Foot,” not a single player breaks par in the first round. Irwin’s 7-over 278 is the second-highest score since World War II — Julius Boros was 9-over in 1963.
1985 — Andy North wins the U.S. Open by one stroke over Taiwan’s Tze-chung Chen, Canada’s Dave Barr and Zimbabwe’s Denis Watson.
1993 — Michael Jordan scores 55 points to lead the Chicago Bulls to a 111-105 victory and a 3-1 lead over the Phoenix Suns in the NBA Finals.
1998 — The Detroit Red Wings become the first team to win consecutive Stanley Cups since Pittsburgh in 1992, completing a sweep of Washington with a 4-1 win behind two goals by Doug Brown. It’s the fourth straight NHL finals sweep, a first in major pro sports history.
1999 — Maurice Greene smashes the 100-meter world record at 9.79 seconds, breaking the previous mark of 9.84 set by Donovan Bailey at the 1996 Olympics.
2002 — A runaway winner again in the U.S. Open, Tiger Woods becomes the first player since Jack Nicklaus in 1972 to capture the first two major championships of the year with a three-stroke victory at Bethpage (N.Y.) Black.
2006 — Tiger Woods returns from his longest layoff by making his earliest departure at a major, missing the cut in a Grand Slam tournament for the first time as a pro. Woods, with rounds of 76-76, misses the cut at the U.S. Open by three strokes.
2008 — Tiger Woods wins the U.S. Open in a 19-hole playoff over Rocco Mediate, his 14th career major.
2013 — Justin Rose captures his first major championship and becomes the first Englishman in 43 years to win the U.S. Open. Rose shoots a closing 70 at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa. for a 1-over 281 total and two-shot victory over Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.
2013 — Greg Biffle gives Ford a milestone victory with his second straight Sprint Cup win at Michigan International Speedway. It’s the 1,000th victory for Ford Motor Company across NASCAR’s three national series — Cup, Nationwide and Truck.
2015 — The Golden State Warriors win their first NBA championship since 1975, beating the Cleveland Cavaliers 105-97 in Game 6. Stephen Curry and Finals MVP Andre Iguodala each score 25 points for the Warriors, who won the final three games after Cleveland had taken a 2-1 lead.
2016 — LeBron James scores 41 points, Kyrie Irving adds 23 and the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Golden State Warriors 115-101 to even an unpredictable series and force a decisive Game 7.
Maurice Greene smashes the world record in the 100 meters. Watch it here.
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