Hello, one and all, my name is John Cherwa, and I’m guest-hosting this newsletter for a couple of weeks while Houston Mitchell ponders if UCLA will win or lose its spring game.
Baseball is a game of streaks, and if you like the Dodgers, you’ll love this one. Jorge Castillo captures the drama of the Dodgers winning their sixth in a row.
“The Dodgers were denting Josh Hader’s pristine armor in the eighth inning Friday night, steadily pecking at baseball’s best left-handed reliever, but time was running out. Hader had faced four batters in the inning before Enrique Hernandez stepped into the batter’s box to try to solve the shaggy-haired slinger. Two walked, offering hints of mortality. Two struck out, offering reminders of Hader’s dominance.
“Then Hader pounced on Hernandez, firing two 94-mph fastballs by him to go up 0-2 and clench Hernandez in a vise-grip. Before the clash, Hader had gone up 0-2 on a hitter 82 times in his career. The Milwaukee Brewers’ relief ace had never issued a walk. He had allowed four hits. One was a double. Hernandez’s long odds of success grew longer in an instant. But Hader didn’t finish him off and wiggle out of the rare trouble. Instead, to the palpable shock of the thousands at Miller Park, Hernandez turned on a 96-mph fastball up over the plate and whacked it over the left-field wall for a go-ahead three-run home run in the Dodgers’ 5-3 victory.
“The home run — Hernandez’s fifth this season — was the fifth Hader has surrendered with two strikes since breaking into the majors and establishing himself as a force in 2017. It was Hernandez’s first hit against Hader in six encounters and it was the difference in the Dodgers (14-8) extending their winning streak to six games.”
USC rental fees
There are so many ways to go with this story, and we’ll resist most of them. But, as Eric Sondheimer writes, USC has upped the rental charge on its baseball field to more than four times what it was last year. Who knows what the school needs the money for, but certain aspects of its budget have gotten hit hard recently. We’ll leave it at that. Here’s some of what Eric wrote.
“The City Section, which has played its semifinal baseball games at USC for the last few years, is moving the semifinals to Lake Balboa Birmingham High on May 22 and 23 because of a major price increase in using USC’s Dedeaux Field, according to Abel Navar, coordinator for the baseball playoffs.
“USC charged the City Section $4,000 last year, school spokesman Tim Tessalone said. Navar said that was for four days of use. This year, under a new policy, USC was offering the facility for $18,285 for three days of use, Tessalone said. That would include rental and expenses, such as security and ticket takers. In the past, the City Section supplied its own security and ticket takers.”
Mt. SAC Relays
Who doesn’t love the Olympics? Well, the countdown is starting and we’re only a little more than a year away from Tokyo 2020. If you are in to track and field, you know what this weekend is all about. An unofficial start to a long run to glory. David Wharton talks to the right people and gives us some explanations and does it through the prism of Kendall Ellis and Jaide Stepter.
“Sieg Lindstrom, managing editor of Track & Field News, said that if a successful pro career requires being good at the right time, ‘now is one of those times.’
“Not only are the sport’s best preparing to compete for spots on national teams, they’re also fighting for endorsement money that ramps up at this point in the Olympic cycle.
“Mt. SAC results could help determine who receives invitations for the start of the Diamond League, a fourth-month pro circuit with most of its stops in Europe. “That’s where the real money is,” Ellis said.
“Though track superstars get appearance fees and guaranteed lanes at every meet, others such as Ellis and Stepter must continually prove themselves.
“ ‘You’ve got to perform at a high level all the time,’ said USC coach Caryl Smith Gilbert, who still works with Ellis. “‘The race you’re in this week will determine if you get to race next week.’
“As for money, Ellis gave herself some cushion by signing an endorsement deal with New Balance. The notoriety from that relay victory helped; so did the fact that her resume includes a sub-50 second time, an important benchmark in the 400.
“ ‘I’m in good financial position,’ she said. ‘It’s enough to keep me going through this season.’
“The future is not quite as certain for Stepter.”
In case you missed it
And speaking of Olympics-themed sports, I bet a lot us probably pay attention to gymnastics only about every four years. But Valorie Kondos Field lives and breathes it every day. Only thing is the UCLA women’s gymnastics coach is retiring after this season. And, she’s taking seven national titles (and counting?) with her. This is someone we would all be better off knowing more about. Blake Richardson takes care of that for us, so enjoy. Here’s a little preview.
“ … the coach teaches her gymnasts to strive for excellence rather than perfection.
“’I develop superheroes,’ she likes to say.
“Maybe that’s why goodbye has been so difficult. For so long, no matter how many times she practiced in her head saying it — this will be my last season with UCLA gymnastics — she couldn’t. Not to her husband, Bobby Field; not to herself in the mirror, or on her drive home from work or in her diary. She nicked quotation marks on the page instead.
“’Imagine going to work every single day and being inspired by the people that you are surrounded by,’ Kondos Field said earlier this season. “Imagine going to work every single day … and within the first five minutes you have 20 hugs. People say, ‘Good morning, Miss Val!’
“ ‘That’s what I’m choosing to give up.’”
We’re taking a break from the Clippers, allowing them a chance to regroup. If you need a fix, Andrew Greif has this report.
“Coach Doc Rivers entered the playoffs with the understanding that his team was a longshot. Vegas oddsmakers made them 100-1 underdogs to win the series, and 1,000 to 1 following the opener.
“Yet after a season of bucking expectations, Rivers bristled at the notion that his team could play like it has nothing to lose. Providing his young players valuable playoff experience against the NBA’s most star-laden team, in one of the its most hostile arenas, undoubtedly will reap benefits in the future. But Rivers expects his team to be more than a speed bump in this series.
“’You do have something to lose,’ he said. ‘When you get to the playoffs the first thing you’ve got to lose is the first round.
“’I told our guys that the first day — you do have something to lose, just like they have something to lose.’”
Clippers playoff schedule
All times Pacific
Game 1: Warriors 121, Clippers 104
Game 2: Clippers 135, Warriors 131
Game 3: Warriors 132, Clippers 105
Sunday, 12:30 p.m., at Clippers, Channel 7
Wednesday, April 24, 7:30 p.m. at Golden State, TBA
*Friday, April 26, at Clippers, TBA
*Sunday, April 28, at Golden State, TBA
* if necessary.
Friday’s NBA playoff scores
Toronto 98, Orlando 93 (Raptors lead series, 2-1)
Boston 104, Indiana 96 (Celtics lead series, 3-0)
Oklahoma City 120, Portland 108 (Trail Blazers lead, 2-1)
(All times Pacific)
Philadelphia at Brooklyn, noon TNT (76ers lead series, 2-1)
Denver at San Antonio, 2:30 p.m. TNT (Spurs lead series, 2-1)
Milwaukee at Denver, 5 p.m. ESPN (Bucks lead series, 2-0)
Houston at Utah, 7:30 p.m. ESPN (Rockets lead series, 2-0)
Friday’s scores (read game stories here)
Toronto 2, Boston 1, (Maple Leafs lead series, 3-2)
Colorado 5, Calgary 1 (Avalanche win series, 4-1)
(All times Pacific)
Dallas at Nashville, noon Channel 4 (Series tied, 2-2)
Winnipeg at St. Louis, 4 p.m. NBCSN (Blues lead series, 3-2)
Carolina at Washington, 5 p.m. Channel 4 (Series tied, 2-2)
Odds and ends
Mike Trout's homer is overshadowed by Angels' Cody Allen in loss to Mariners. … Lakers' coaching search enters Round 2, with Jeanie Buss expected to get involved. … UCLA wins gymnastics semifinal, will compete for national title Saturday. … Santa Anita suspends racing on Thursdays because of a shortage of horses. … Sexual assault victims advocate Brenda Tracy thwarts school's Hall of Fame plan. … Dorian Thompson-Robinson is getting a push from Austin Burton in UCLA’s QB battle. … Terence Crawford is eager to prove he’s better than every other welterweight champion. … Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s goal and a big save by David Bingham is enough for Galaxy in win over Dynamo.
Today’s local major sport schedule
(All times Pacific)
Dodgers at Milwaukee, 4 p.m., Sportsnet LA, AM 570
Seattle at Angels, 6 p.m., FSW, KLAA 830
Born on this date
1961: Baseball player Don Mattingly
1964: NFL player John Carney
1973: NBA player Lamond Murray
1973: Former Dodger Todd Hollandsworth
Died on this date
1999: Pro wrestler “Ravishing” Rick Rude, 40
2014: Boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, 76