The Sports Report: Bring on the Dodgers and Giants
Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.
Bill Shaikin on the Dodgers-Giants rivalry: Three more outs on that sunny Saturday, then one more victory the next day, and the San Francisco Giants would force the Dodgers into a tiebreaker for the National League West championship.
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In 1951, when the bitter rivals called New York home, the Giants beat the Dodgers in a tiebreaker for the league championship. In 1962, after the teams had migrated to California, the Giants won another tiebreaker from the Dodgers.
On Oct. 2, 2004, the Giants never secured those three outs. Steve Finley belted a game-ending grand slam, lifting Dodger Stadium into delirium and leading new Dodgers owners Frank and Jamie McCourt to dance together on the field.
“In all the storied history and glory, frustrations and heartbreak that both of these teams have inflicted upon the other, this one had to be a killer,” Vin Scully said on the air.
In the 21st century, the Yankees and Red Sox have been touted as baseball’s best rivalry. This weekend’s series kicks off a frantic final month in which the Dodgers and Giants could reclaim that title.
“You could argue we’re the two best teams in baseball, and we have been all year long,” Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts said.
“I think the fans have been waiting for it: not just ‘I hate the Giants’ or ‘I hate the Dodgers’ but now, both teams are really playing for something in the same year.”
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Bill Plaschke on UCLA: One of the most beloved college football coaches in this city’s history will lead a team from across the country onto the Rose Bowl field Saturday afternoon with emotions as thick as that voice.
UCLA once handed Ed Orgeron the worst loss of his life.
At the same time, UCLA also led him to the greatest moment of his career.
On his first public return to Los Angeles since a 2013 loss to the Bruins both booted him out of his USC job while sending him home to greatness at Louisiana State, the national championship coach of the Tigers is not going to know whether to laugh or cry.
Knowing Coach O, he’ll probably do both.
“I’m so damn excited,” he said in a phone interview this week. “It is kind of surreal.”
Orgeron insisted that his LSU team’s season opener against 1-0 UCLA — the same program he faced in his last game here eight years ago — is not about him.
“It’s not about revenge, I can’t go there, I won’t go there, when you get personal it’s wrong,” he said. “We’re one team, one heartbeat.”
Check out our live blog for all the up-to-the-minute news on the upcoming UCLA-LSU game. Click here to read.
Kayla McBride scored 17 points, Sylvia Fowles had 15 points and 17 rebounds and the Minnesota Lynx beat the Sparks 66-57 on Thursday night.
Minnesota closed on a 17-4 run, highlighted by a long three-poiner by Aerial Powers with 3:11 left for a five-point lead.
The Sparks were held to four points in the fourth quarter, going 1 for 13 from the field. Nneka Ogwumike and Erica Wheeler combined to score all of Los Angeles’ 16 second-half points.
Gary Klein on the Rams: Johnny Hekker acknowledged feeling conflicted.
As he sat at home and watched the Rams’ final preseason game against the Denver Broncos last week, Hekker saw Corey Bojorquez boom several punts, including one downed at the one-yard line and another that bounced out of bounds at the one.
Hekker, 31, could not play because he was on the reserve/COVID-19 list. He was pleased for the 24-year-old Bojorquez, but sensed his nine-year tenure with the Rams might be over.
“When I saw his success, I was very happy for him but on the other hand I saw a little bit of writing on the wall, that could be the team might go with this guy and I could be having to find a new home here pretty soon,” Hekker said Thursday after he was removed from the COVID-19 list.
Hekker, however, agreed to restructure what had been the NFL’s largest contract for a punter, and on Tuesday the Rams traded Bojorquez and a 2023 seventh-round draft pick to the Green Bay Packers for a 2023 sixth-round draft pick.
Dan Woike on the NBA: The NBA has told teams that a return to normal, at least in a relative sense, is possible provided players have received the COVID-19 vaccine.
In a memo sent to teams Thursday and reviewed by The Times, the league provided plans for what the upcoming season would look like under updated health and safety protocols with the bulk of the passages dedicated to players who are unvaccinated.
Those who aren’t fully vaccinated would be required to undergo daily testing and would be forced into quarantine if they are a close contact of someone who has tested positive. Vaccinated players would be subject to limited testing and no mandatory quarantine.
Unvaccinated players would have to sit apart from others during team meetings, travel and meals. They also would be subject to mask requirements and have separate seating in locker rooms, keeping them as distanced from the rest of the team as possible.
Check out our live blog for all the up-to-the-minute news on the upcoming USC-San Jose State game. Click here to read.
Helene Elliott on tennis: It was back to business as usual at the U.S. Open. For No. 1 women’s seed Ash Barty, business as usual meant a 6-1, 7-5 win over 18-year-old Clara Tauson of Denmark. For No. 1 men’s seed Novak Djokovic, it meant keeping his calendar Grand Slam hopes alive with a 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 rout of Tallon Griekspoor of the Netherlands, who gave away 120 places in the rankings.
“I came out on the court with the right intensity, with the right focus,” Djokovic said. “I’m as motivated as ever to do well.”
Djokovic, who’s trying to win a men’s-record 21st Slam singles title and break his tie with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal — both missing here due to injury — was clinical against Griekspoor. Fans at Arthur Ashe Stadium tried to back the underdog but their sympathy wasn’t nearly enough to help Griekspoor become competitive.
Kevin Baxter on soccer: The U.S. was seeking redemption. El Salvador was seeking respect.
And both got a little of what they were after Thursday in their opening game of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, one which ended in a scoreless draw.
For the U.S., Thursday’s match came nearly four years after the final game of the last qualifying tournament, a 2-1 loss in Trinidad that kept the team out of the World Cup for the first time since 1986. And though Thursday’s draw ended two streaks for the U.S., which had won its last nine games and in its last 15 games against CONCACAF opponents, it also gave the Americans an important point on the road, where they are difficult to come by in World Cup qualifying.
For El Salvador, which hasn’t played in a World Cup since 1982 — and hasn’t even played in the final round of qualifying since 2010 — the draw showed it could hang with regional giants like the U.S., the reigning confederation champion and the No. 10 team in the world, according to FIFA.
With Christian Pulisic out as he recovers from a bout with COVID-19, defender DeAndre Yedlin was the only U.S. starter in El Salvador who also played in the loss to Trinidad. Instead, coach Gregg Berhalter used the youngest U.S. lineup for a qualifier in 16 years, one that included nine players making their first appearance in a CONCACAF qualifier.
THIS DATE IN SPORTS
1921 — The U.S. defeats Japan in five straight matches to win the Davis Cup.
1932 — Ellsworth Vines wins the men’s singles title in the U.S. Lawn Tennis Assn. championships with a three-set victory over France’s Henri Cochet.
1944 — Frank Parker wins the men’s singles title with a four-set victory over Bill Talbert in the U.S. Lawn Tennis Assn. championships. Pauline Betz captures her third straight women’s title with 6-3, 8-6 victory over Margaret Osborne.
1945 — Frank Parker defends his U.S. Open title, defeating Bill Talbert 14-12, 6-1, 6-2 in the final of the first postwar U.S. Open.
1956 — Jockey John Longden surpasses Sir Gordon Richards’ then-record number of wins by riding Arrogate to victory in the Del Mar Handicap at Del Mar Racetrack to attain his 4,871st victory.
1975 — Martina Navratilova, 18, defeats Margaret Court, who is 33 and competing in her 11th and final U.S. Open, 6-2, 6-4 in the quarterfinals.
1977 — Ken Rosewall, two months shy of his 43rd birthday, is beaten by 24-year-old Jose Higueras, 6-4, 6-4. The in a best-of-three-set third-round match marks Rosewall’s final U.S. Open singles match.
1989 — Chris Evert defeats 15-year-old Monica Seles, 6-0, 6-2, for her 101st and final U.S. Open singles win.
1994 — Miami beats Georgia Southern 56-0, breaking an NCAA record with its 58th consecutive home victory. The Hurricanes surpass Alabama’s record of 57 wins in a row at home set from 1962-82.
2001 — Jockey John Velazquez becomes the first jockey to ride six winners on a single card at Saratoga Racecourse. Velazquez guides Starine to a 5¼-length victory in the Diana Handicap, a 1 1-8 mile turf race, for his sixth win.
2007 — Pedro Martinez completes his comeback from major shoulder surgery, becoming the 15th pitcher to strike out 3,000 batters in his career. The New York Mets’ right-hander fans Aaron Harang for the milestone as the Mets post a 10-4 win over Cincinnati.
2016 — Serena Williams’ dominating third-round victory at the U.S. Open is notable for a milestone: 307 Grand Slam wins. Williams’ 6-2, 6-1 win over 47th-ranked Johanna Larsson of Sweden improves her major-tournament mark to 307-42, putting her one win up on Martina Navratilova among women and tying Roger Federer among all players in the Open era.
2017 — UCLA’s Josh Rosen fakes the spike and throws a 10-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Lasley with 43 seconds remaining and UCLA overcomes a 34-point deficit to stun Texas A&M 45-44. Rosen is 35 of 59 for 491 yards and throws four fourth-quarter touchdowns. UCLA scores on five straight possessions after trailing 44-10 with 4:08 to play in the third quarter.
Highlights of the 2017 UCLA-Texas A&M game. Watch and listen here.
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