SportsNet - May 2013
In mid-May, every major league team is supposed to believe it’s still a playoff contender, but realistically, the Chicago Cubs are playing for the future rather than the present. Given that harsh reality, the Cubs’ admittedly welcome victories over Washington and Colorado pale in comparison to the importance of Sunday’s off-the-field accomplishments.
As reported by Fox Sports, the Cubs locked up first baseman Anthony Rizzo through at least 2019 with a massive contract extension. Factoring in various incentives and a pair of team-option years, the deal could be worth as much as $73 million.
Considering that Rizzo had been making less than $500,000 for the 2013 season—a bargain-basement figure that’s now increased as part of the extension—the new contract represents a titanic commitment to a player who's appeared in just over one season's worth of major league games. It also shows that Theo Epstein and the rest of the front office understand what they’re up against in trying to turn the Cubs into winners.
The Golden State Warriors have tied their NBA playoff series 2-2 with the veteran San Antonio Spurs winning game four in overtime 97-87. Both teams have won games on the opponents’ home court. There is no question this playoff series is in the mode of ready, set, go! How did this unlikely Warriors team get on the Mark?
When the Golden State Warriors organization’s top brass made the decision to interview Mark Jackson for their head coaching vacancy they stepped out of the preverbal box. They interviewed a very good and knowledgeable ABC-NBA prime time analyst who was one of the best assist men in NBA history, but he had no resume as a coach at the high school, college or NBA level. Mark Jackson had no major coaching experience.
Mark Jackson is an ordained minister who along with his wife is a pastor of a congregation. Not your normal prerequisite qualification for a head coach in the NBA.
Arsenal welcome the newly-crowned FA Cup winners Wigan Athletic to the Emirates tomorrow in what is a crucial but also worth three points as any other Premier League match.
Wigan are fighting for their Premier League survival, so they need the three points just as badly as Arsenal do tomorrow, so there will be no shortage of attacking play. Roberto Martinez can piece together something looking like an attack when he needs to, and this will probably work out for Arsenal, too, as the Gunners tend to play more freely against teams who leave space rather than those who just play a 4-5-1 and stand tall. Wigan may also be a little tired from their cup win over the weekend, so Arsenal should have space to roam.
And roam they must. The three points are crucial to stay ahead of Tottenham Hotspur, and the goal is simple: win the last two games, and the 4th Champions League spot is in Arsenal's hands.
As predicted, Roberto Mancini has been sacked by Manchester City tonight. Despite the success he has brought to the Etihad, the powers that be have decided to pull the trigger. Mancini has a win rate only bettered by Sir Alec Ferguson and Carlo Ancelotti.
Manchester City had not won a trophy for nearly 35 years until Mancini arrived, winning the FA Cup and then the Premier League title in successive seasons. However, that was not deemed good enough by the ridiculous Arab owners, who spend their country`s wealth whilst their countrymen starve in poverty.
It is hard to understand the logic of their decision when they had not won a thing until Mancini arrived. The new manager is expected to be Manuel Pellegrini, whose CV includes a spell at Real Madrid. It is hard to see what Pellegrini offers that Mancini did not, especially as Pellegrini has not won anything of note recently.
Today is just symptomatic of the disease that pervades the Premiership with arrant billionaire owners acting like feudal lords hiring and firing at will, whilst their fans are left surprised and confused about their position. No doubt all will be revealed next season!
The Chicago Bulls trail two games to one in their uphill playoff battle against the top-seeded Miami Heat. If the Bulls want to extend the series beyond five games, Monday’s Game 4 at the United Center becomes a must-win.
Beating Miami is always going to take a healthy dose of luck, but the Bulls can maximize their chances by following this formula:
1. Play smart
The action after the whistle has gotten more attention in this series than what’s actually happening while the game clock is running. The Bulls have instigated much of that chippiness—witness Nazr Mohammed’s Game 3 ejection—and the refs will be watching the home team for any opportunity to assess a technical on Monday.
Tom Thibodeau will need to preach “do as I say, not as I do” after getting slapped with a fine for complaining about the officiating, but somebody has to convince the Bulls to keep their cool. Physical play is one thing, but all the pushing and shoving in dead-ball situations only serves to shorten an already thin Chicago bench.
2. Don’t get beaten by the supporting cast