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The Sports Report: Sometimes the best trades are the ones you don’t make

St Louis Cardinals  v Pittsburgh Pirates
Felipe Vazquez
(Getty Images)

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Sometimes it’s the trades you don’t make that turn out to be the most important.

BASEBALL

Remember the July 31 trade deadline and how many Dodgers fans were unhappy the team didn’t do more to acquire Pittsburgh Pirates closer Felipe Vazquez? How some thought the Dodgers blew their chance at winning it all by refusing to include Gavin Lux in a trade for him. Well, the non-trade looks pretty good today.

Vazquez was arrested Tuesday on felony charges including statutory sexual assault and soliciting a child, and was placed on administrative leave by Major League Baseball.

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Vazquez was taken into custody by Pennsylvania State Police on one count of “computer pornography/solicitation of a child” and one count of “providing obscene material to minors,” both felonies, stemming from an investigation in Florida. He was later charged in Westmoreland (Pa.) County on felony counts of statutory sexual assault, unlawful contact with a minor and corruption of minors and a misdemeanor count of indecent assault of a person under 16 years old.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement announced it had begun investigating the 28-year-old Vazquez’s relationship with a 15-year-old girl in August. The agency had been informed Vazquez started a sexual relationship with her when she was 13. The girl allegedly received a text message from Vazquez in July in which he was performing a sex act. Vazquez also texted the girl to ask if she wanted to meet for a sexual encounter after the season ended, according to police.

Vazquez was arraigned via video from the Allegheny County jail and was denied bond, with the judge saying she believed Vazquez was a flight risk.

If the charges are true, then Vazquez can wave goodbye to his baseball career, and good riddance.

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SPARKS

Alyssa Thomas had 22 points and 10 rebounds in an 84-75 victory over the Sparks that gave Connecticut a 1-0 lead in their best-of-five WNBA semifinal series. Candace Parker scored 24 points and Nneka Ogwumike had 20 for the Sparks.

The Sparks trailed by 11 points in the first half but came back to take a 40-37 halftime lead with Parker and Ogwumike combining for 25 first-half points.

Connecticut opened the third quarter with a 12-2 run — with three three-pointers — to make it 49-42. The Sparks fought back but never led by more than a point the rest of the way. They were hampered by 19 turnovers.

“We just can’t turn the ball over – 19 is high for us,” Parker said.

“We still shot the ball better percentage-wise than them, but they won the game,” coach Derek Fisher said. “At the end of the day we have to figure out how to limit our turnovers.

SPARKS PLAYOFF SCHEDULE

All times Pacific. All games on ESPN2

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at Connecticut 84, Sparks 75

Game 2: Thursday at Connecticut, 3:30 p.m.

Game 3: Sunday at Sparks (at Long Beach State), 4 p.m.

Game 4*: Sept. 24 at Sparks, TBD

Game 5*: Sept. 26 at Connecticut, TBD

*-if necessary

DODGERS

Alex Verdugo said doctors ruled him out for the National League division series because of a lower-back injury that has sidelined the Dodgers outfielder since early September.

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The best-case scenario for the rookie, who hit .294 with 12 homers and 44 RBIs in 106 games: The Dodgers win their first-round series and Verdugo is ready for the start of the NL championship series Oct. 11.

“It’s extremely disappointing,” Verdugo said. “I love to play. This is my happy place. I’ve always been like that, even when I was a kid. No matter what happened outside the field, I could go out there between the lines and nothing mattered.”

BASEBALL QUIZ

Every year at the annual Society for American Baseball Research convention, they hold a trivia quiz. It is four round of competition till they get to a winner. And if you think you know baseball real well, you won’t when you take this quiz. Here is a sample of the first-round questions.

1) What is the popular term for the medical procedure formally known as ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction?

2) During the San Diego Padres’ 1974 home opener, someone grabbed the stadium’s public address microphone and rashly blurted out to the crowd: “I’ve never seen such stupid ballplaying in my life!” Who was he?

3) Which three players have amassed 1,000 hits for a team in the American League and for a team in the National League?

4) Name the seven Dodgers who have been named most valuable player of the World Series.

5) How many regular-season games were on the schedule for each team in the American League in 1927?

For the answers, and questions from the remaining rounds, click here. To read Bill Shaikin’s great story about the history of the quiz, click here.

CHARGERS

Helene Elliott on the Chargers: Reviewing tape of the Chargers’ stumbles and fumbles at Detroit on Sunday confirmed everything coach Anthony Lynn had seen but wished he hadn’t. The missed kicks, missed tackles, errors of inexperience, and veteran quarterback Philip Rivers’ miscalculation in throwing into double coverage and into the arms of Lions cornerback Darius Slay in the end zone late in the fourth quarter passed before Lynn’s eyes in sorry succession, looking no better on repeat viewing than when he had lived it.

“You can’t win in this league when you make those type of mistakes. We did for whatever reason,” Lynn said. “The good news is that everything is correctable.”

For a man supposedly delivering good news, his expression was decidedly somber. There was simply no way to sugar-coat losing a game his team should have pulled out even without an all-star roster’s worth of injured starters.

“Any time you hold a team in their house on opening day on the road to 13 points,” he said, “you should win that game.”

The Lions were beatable, but the Chargers — who won all seven regular-season games they played outside of California last season and lost on the road during the regular season only to the Rams at the Coliseum — couldn’t put them away.

HORSE RACING

Another horse has died at Santa Anita.

Less than two weeks before the start of perhaps the most important race meeting in Santa Anita’s history, there was a fatality during training Monday at the Arcadia track.

Zeke, a 4-year-old gelding trained by Dean Pederson, was diagnosed with a pelvic fracture after being pulled up while working on the training track, which is considered to be the safest surface at Santa Anita. Veterinarians tried to save the horse but at 11 p.m. decided that euthanasia was the best option.

“Everyone at Santa Anita and throughout The Stronach Group is devastated by the loss,” said Dr. Dionne Benson, chief veterinarian for The Stronach Group, which owns Santa Anita. “We are carefully reviewing what factors could have contributed to Zeke’s injury. Santa Anita will continue to work closely with the California Horse Racing Board and will continue to be transparent with our stakeholders and all of our constituents, including the public, as more facts come in.”

Before Monday’s fatality, there had been 1,034 workouts without incident, officials said. Santa Anita opened for training after Del Mar‘s summer meet closed and racing moved to Los Alamitos.

Benson said Zeke would undergo a necropsy by the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, a procedure mandatory for all on-track accidents. The accident and necropsy reports will then be reviewed by the California Horse Racing Board.

YOUR FAVORITE SPORTS MOMENT

What is your favorite all-time L.A. sports moment? Email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com and tell me what it is and why and it could appear in a future daily sports newsletter or Morning Briefing.

This moment comes from Erik Schuman of Fountain Valley:

My most memorable moment was recently played. On Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019, I attended the Dodgers-Giants game at Chavez Ravine with my nephew, youngest niece, brother and sister-in-law. It was a 1 p.m. game so I made sure to get seats in the shade. This was the first time seeing a Dodgers’ home game for all but my brother and I. This game was special because on Feb. 22 I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I was declared cancer free on May 20 and finished the last of my chemo treatments on July 23. It was a process that saw me go from a muscular 190 pounds to a gaunt 155 pounds, losing almost all the hair on my body and experiencing all of the nasty side effects chemo brings about - like loss of taste buds and constant nausea and fatigue.

Going to the game was the first time I had really gotten out of the house for anything other than treatment related visits since around Valentine’s Day. I live in Fountain Valley so attending Dodgers’ home games is not something I do often even though I have been a fan for about 45 years, ever since Grandpa George took me to a game. Approaching the parking lot, walking into the stadium, seeing the field and then the game made me realize how lucky I was to be a cancer survivor - not a victim.

The fact the Dodgers won 5-0 was great but even if they had lost 50-0 just being able to attend a game and eat a Dodger Dog after all I went through with family members who helped me beat cancer was something I will never forget. Just writing this brings me to tears realizing how fortunate I am and how this is a game I will never forget attending.

TODAY’S LOCAL MAJOR SPORTS SCHEDULE

All times Pacific

Tampa Bay at Dodgers, 5 p.m., Sportsnet LA, 570 AM

Angels at NY Yankees, 3:30 p.m., FSW, AM 830

BORN ON THIS DATE

1925: Baseball player Harvey Haddix (d. 1994)

1926: Olympic documentary filmmaker Bud Greenspan (d. 2010)

1933: NHL coach Scotty Bowman

1946: NFL player Otis Sistrunk

1948: Baseball player Ken Brett (d. 2003)

1950: NHL player Darryl Sittler

1952: Basketball coach Rick Pitino

1954: College football coach Tommy Tuberville

1956: NHL player Peter Stastny

1959: Baseball player Ryne Sandberg

1968: NBA player Toni Kukoc

1971: Cyclist Lance Armstrong

1976: Soccer player Ronaldo

DIED ON THIS DATE

2002: Sprinter/NFL player Bob Hayes, 59

2013: Boxer Ken Norton, 70

AND FINALLY

Ken Norton vs. Muhammad Ali, their first fight. Watch it here.

That concludes the newsletter for today. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, please email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com. If you want to subscribe, click here.


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