School’s out, or at least that’s what they tell me. When your own kids are graduated from college, you tend to not pay attention to when school actually gets out anymore. And besides, these days it can range from Mother’s Day to Flag Day.
In any case, this all means summer is looming. Well, “looming” sounds way too ominous of a word to describe summer, unless you’re going to go see The Mummy or something creepy like that.
In sports, big things have already been taking place and you may have been too busy barbecuing or sunscreening to have really noticed. We’re due to take a look at the week just past:
THE WEEK JUST PAST
- The Pittsburgh Penguins won their second straight Stanley Cup championship, beating the Nashville Predators 1-0 Sunday night to win the series four games to two. The Penguins are the first NHL team to repeat as champs since the Detroit Red Wings in 1997-98.
Sidney Crosby was the winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy for the second year in a row — for all you Conn Smythe fans out there.
- For all the rest of you who don’t have the foggiest idea about Conn Smythe, he is the former owner, general manager and coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs. He was also known for his success in horse racing and for serving for Canada in World Wars I and II.
- Crosby is the third player to win the Conn Smythe Trophy in consecutive years, joining Mario Lemieux and Bernie Parent. The Penguins have won three Stanley Cups in the Crosby era. Crosby also has two Olympic gold medals, one world championship gold medal and a world junior championship gold medal. And he’s only 29.
- Pittsburgh goalie Matt Murray, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, is just the fourth goalie to close out the Stanley Cup Final(s) with consecutive shutouts.
- Perhaps even more impressive, the Penguins are the only team in the NHL, NBA or Major League Baseball to be undefeated in five or more championship-clinching chances on the road.
- I mentioned in a previous post the Penguins would beat the Predators in six games. Really. I did. No, honestly, I’m as shocked as you are.
- My NBA Finals prediction of the Golden State Warriors is still looking good, but I’m thinking it’s pretty unlikely they’ll go the seven games I said they would.
- Corey Seager of the Dodgers was leading the National League All-Star voting at shortstop, then hit a home run for his first-ever walk-off hit and won another game the next night with his first career grand slam. Somehow he got passed up in the voting by Cincinnati’s Zack Cozart, who now leads by more than 193,000 votes.
- Aaron Judge of the Yankees is otherworldly. He’s officially listed at 6-foot-7, 282 pounds, but looks more like Paul Bunyan’s size. All he needs is a big, blue ox. He hit a home run Sunday that traveled 496 feet. It was the longest homer since ESPN started tracking them in 2009.
- Giancarlo Stanton of the Marlins holds three of the top five homers at 495, 494 and 490 feet. Tied with Stanton at No. 2 is Wladimir Balentieri, who played four seasons in the majors with Seattle and Cincinnati. Born in Curaçao, he is now playing Tokyo Yakult Swallows in Japan.
- The Seattle Mariners had one of their best attended series of the season last weekend against the Toronto Blue Jays, but the Seattle Times reports of the 41,137 fans in attendance, about 70% of them were Blue Jays fans. The Blue Jays are Canada’s team, even in British Columbia, and the series at Safeco Field was an easy way to come root for their team. Mariners fans, however, may be ready to build a wall.
- The Belmont Stakes, without the Kentucky Derby winner, the Preakness winner or the prerace Belmont favorite in the field, saw all-sources betting fall 9.2%, according to Bloodhorse.com. The overnight TV rating of 3.4 was the lowest since 2010.
- So the International Olympic Committee is thinking of awarding the 2024 and 2028 Summer Games at the same time, to Los Angeles and Paris. Most reports say Paris will get ’24 and L.A. ’28. That makes no sense to me. L.A. is much more ready than Paris. Why shouldn’t it go first?
- The New England Patriots’ Super Bowl championship rings reportedly each have 283 diamonds in them, signifying the team’s comeback from a 28-3 deficit against Atlanta. But news releases only described them as having “more than 280 diamonds,” so as not to put down the Falcons.
- The Tampa Bay Rays actually played a doubleheader Saturday against Oakland. It was the first scheduled doubleheader in the majors since 2011. However, only 17,775 attended and, with some players griping beforehand about the physical and mental fatigue of playing twice in one day, it may be a while before it’s done again. That would be a shame. Baseball could use more doubleheaders. Buy one, get one free. What’s not to like about that? The small crowd of 17,775 probably had more to do with the fact that it was Oakland at Tampa Bay more than anything else.
- The Seattle Seahawks paid running back Eddie Lacy a $55,000 bonus Monday for reporting less than 250 pounds. Hey, if I had that kind of incentive, I might be able to lose weight, too. Maybe.
- Rafael Nadal won the French Open for a jaw-dropping 10th time Sunday. It was the first time in the open era a player has won the same Grand Slam even 10 times. It was his 15th Grand Slam win overall, moving him past Pete Sampras into second place all-time. Roger Federer has 18.
- Right after the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw became the second fastest pitcher to reach 2,000 strikeouts, Washington’s Max Scherzer tied for the third fastest. Scherzer and Nolan Ryan each needed 287. Kershaw took 277. Randy Johnson holds the record at 262.
- Kenley Jansen earned his 200th career save Sunday. Even more impressive are the 43 strikeouts he has without a walk. That’s the most ever at the start of a season.