Some sports happenings over the past few days.
As if being shitty wasn’t bad enough, ten Royals players “did their own research” and decided not to get vaccinated against Covid, preventing them from traveling to Canada for the series with the Blue Jays over the weekend.
Just an exhausting moment. As I am barely interested in the team or sport right now, this does not make me want to come back.
Let’s move on…
Pacers Go Big…Almost
The Pacers have never been big players in the free agent market. Good players who are healthy generally don’t want to come to Indianapolis, and the Pacers have generally run a tight financial ship and refused to overpay to get talent to come to town.
That nearly changed last week. They signed restricted free agent Deandre Ayton to a massive offer sheet. Ayton had a strained relationship with the Phoenix Suns who seemed lukewarm on bringing him back on a max contract. There had been rumors for weeks the Suns and Pacers were talking about a deal that revolved around Ayton and the Pacers’ Myles Turner. If those talks were serious, though, they never resulted in a trade agreement.
So the Pacers sent out only the second offer sheet they’ve ever tendered, the biggest in league history, for Ayton. For about three hours Pacers fans were debating whether to be excited about the prospect of Ayton joining a young roster or to worry about Ayton getting hurt or just sucking and turning the deal into a disaster that sunk the franchise for the 2020s.
That debate only lasted a few hours because the Suns quickly matched the Pacers’ offer. Which could be a good thing. Offering $133 million for a big man in the current NBA seemed ultra aggressive, especially for one like Ayton, who is a good player but certainly not among the league’s elite.
It was cool the Pacers tried to make a splash, at least. Now I wonder where they go. They seem set up to remain on the outside of the eastern conference playoff picture next year, but also not bad enough to enter the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes. They have a ton of cap room and a lot of picks stacked up for the next few years. Plus they still have to figure out what to do with Turner, an elite shot blocker and serviceable 3-point shooter whose total game does not match his ego or financial desires. Do they package Turner and some of their picks for a difference maker? Hang onto Turner until the trade deadline to see if he meshes with their new lineup (and can stay healthy)? Or do they move Turner now, take on a bad, expiring contract, and hope they are crappy enough to get deep into next year’s lottery and then make rapid improvement?
L’s team decided to get together for one more tournament. Saturday they played two teams they played two weeks ago, including the team that knocked them out of that tournament. They pounded that team pretty good, although they were playing without their best player. We were three players short, including a starter, but not sure that was an even trade. In game two they got a 14-point win over a team we have now beaten three times. This was our best performance against them.
In Sunday’s semifinal we had a five-point lead early in the second half but lost by 10. Our girls just got waxed in the last 10 minutes or so. The other team was too fast on both ends, our girls neglected to play any help defense, and we missed a ton of easy shots early that could have had us up by double digits early in the game.
L had a mixed weekend. She shot the ball like crap going 3–20 overall. Saturday she hit the top of the backboard with 3 pointers from behind the NBA line. Apparently she’s been working out too much. In the second game she missed two wide open layups and another two contested ones. But she did score six in that game. And she turned the game around with her defense. We were down seven when she checked in. Five minutes later, when she checked out, we were up six. In that span she had two points, two rebounds, two assists, and three steals. She just shut down their point guard, getting steals on three of four possessions. We never looked back after that.
We’ve been doing some good shooting over at the YMCA, so I don’t know if she was just sped up, if her contacts weren’t locked in, or if it was the classic case of the improvement she’s making in practice not translating to games yet. Whatever the explanation, her shooting was gross. Afterwards I reminded her, though, that back in January if she ever took a 3-pointer, it was usually two feet short. Now she’s shooting them 3–4 feet long from behind the NBA line. So she has the range, she just needs to lock in the accuracy.
Jeeeeez what a let down. Rory McIlroy seemed like was finally going to break his eight-year major-less streak, playing beautiful golf all weekend. He was a little less stellar Sunday, missing six putts by a combined six inches, but still played well enough to win.
Except Cameron Smith went nuclear and hit every freaking putt on the back nine. Shooting 30 on the last nine of a major – six birdies and three pars – is pretty dope. Rory couldn’t even finish second as Cameron Young snuck by him with a final round 65.
There was no meltdown round this time. Rory played great all four days. Perhaps he was a little too cautious Sunday. Or the nerves caused shots that gave him short birdie looks the first three days to leave him much longer looks in Sunday. Whatever the cause, it felt like a massive letdown when he couldn’t close it out. Sometimes you just get unlucky and end up on the wrong side of a legendary closing round by another golfer.
It was really a magnificent tournament. St. Andrews is barely hanging on against modern players and technology, but it produced a terrific weekend of golf. Saturday, when six or seven players all seemed to be in the mix, was amazing to watch. It came at a perfect moment for professional golf, which has seen the 2022 season dominated by the break between the PGA and the Saudi-backed LIV tour. But you also have to wonder when we will see a tournament like this again. The 2023 major season could be drastically different as more players defect to the LIV, which could affect their ability to play in future majors. Perhaps it was that, more than Rory coming up short, that made the end feel a little extra somber.
- The tournament was at Jeff Teague’s gym, and we played both Saturday games on the NBA court, which is longer than the other two high school courts at the facility, and only has the college and NBA three point lines parked. Not sure why they had kids as young as fifth grade playing on it without the high school arc marked. ↩