Several A/K/A Random's 'sporting blues'
Hello again, AmSports fans! An exciting past weekend, with the 130th annual Preakness Stakes (second third of thoroughbred horse racing), interleague play in baseball, and the pro basketball semifinals kicking off. Looking ahead to this week, the French Open tennis, and the Indianapolis 500 are sure to hit the headlines, as well as the basketball.
In the Preakness, eventual winner Afleet Alex was bumped to his knees down the backstretch by second-place Scrappy T, but he jumped up and jockey Jeremy Rose held on somehow to bring the horse home, and surely gain his owners thousands of $$$ in future stud fees.
In the basketball, the Phoenix Suns are meeting the San Antonio Spurs in the West semis, with the Miami Heat and the defending champion Detroit Pistons facing off in the East on best-of-seven series that will wrap up this weekend, with the finals set for next week.
In baseball, what interleague means is that 'rivalry' teams from the American and National Leagues play a weekend series. The two Noo Yawk teams play, the two Ohio teams, Chicago vs Chicago, and Los Angeles vs the suburb of Anaheim. The season is barely over a quarter over.
As for the French Open, the Roland Garros Stadium is hosting the second of pro tennis' Grand Slam events (Australia, France, Wimbledon and US) on the 80th anniversary of the tournament being open to all nations, not just the French. It lasts until 5 June, barring rainouts.
And the Indy 500 race is a staple for Memorial Day weekend, a total spectacle of thousands of auto racing fans camping in the infield of the race track overnight. The average qualifying time for the 33-car 500-mile race was 223.895 miles per hour.
I'm sure EuroSports fans know about the American zillionaire's takeover of the fabled Man Utd soccer franchise and that Arsenal beat Man Utd 5-4 in the first-ever FA Cup shootout.
And finally, an 11-year-old girl playing in a boys' league threw a perfect game (18 boys up, 18 retired in order. Oakfield NY's Katie Brownwell's achievement is not too surprising as she pitched a one-hit game earlier and is hitting .714 (seven hits in ten at-bats) thus far this season.
So that'll be yet another over and out from between the shores of two real big ponds. Thank goodness trees and plants are blooming a bit in my little corner... but now I gotta get out the lawnmower right soon. Ah well.
Elsewhere, in a Small Place Called Europe
The rugby is now pretty much over in this hemisphere with attention switching down under. The final games of the season saw Saracens defeat Gloucester 24-16 to net themselves the Zurich Premiership Wildcard Final. Wasps scored an impressive win over Leicester 39-14 in the Premiership Final giving them the coveted trophy. Fans can look forward to seeing the next season kick off with a match between Wasps and Saracens at Twickenham.
Meanwhile the inter-club transfers have started in earnest and the Lions have departed for their summer test matches in New Zealand. My beloved Saints are already shaping their new line-up with 7 new signings and 5 academy players promoted to the main squad. Those interested can keep up to speed at the Northampton Saints web site and gear up for the NZ clashes by checking out the Official Lions Rugby site.
Balls of a Different Shape
Several has already mentioned the FA cup between Arsenal and Man Utd and the recent takeover is examined in more depth by The-Jon_m in his Mancunian Blues so I won't bore you with details. The big news yesterday was how Liverpool snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in the final of the Champions League. Liverpool were losing 3-0 at half time but played far more impressively in the second half. They scored two goals in three minutes to revive their hopes and levelled the score five minutes later. This state of affairs continued and, in an echo of the FA Cup final, extra time of 15 minutes each end didn't resolve the tie and yet another game was decided by penalties.
Liverpool were successful with their first 2 penalties but a miss allowed AC Milan to draw level. Smicer then easily beat the AC goalkeeper Dida to put Liverpool ahead again and Jerzy Dudek blocked a poor shot from Andriy Shevchenko to take the championship. This is the fifth time that Liverpool have won the Champions League so they get to keep the cup for ever... nice
Elsewhere, as expected, PSV won the Dutch Eredivisie with underdog team AZ, heroes of the EUFA Cup, finishing third. Feyenoord, who finished fourth, wave goodbye to both their coach, Ruud Gullit, and his assistant Zeljko Petrovic.