Day 4 L.A. Tennis roundup

Dudi Sela vs. Robert Kendrick
Sela had amazing support today in Los Angeles that helped pull him through his three-set victory over Kendrick. Sela is a great player to watch if you’re a smaller guy like me. He does everything fundamentally well. Watch his court positioning too, if you’re a little guy. He has two different looks. One being right on the baseline, so he can take the ball early on the bounce up, the other being deep in the court so the heavy topspin ball won’t bounce over his shoulder. He also comes to the net a lot to put away points because he may not have as much power as bigger players, but plays the way coaches should teach their players – an aggressive attacking style of tennis with no rest or break for his opponents. One of his favorite tactics is hitting a drop shot to his opponent so he can pass cross court, and his defensive play is second to none.

Ryan Sweeting vs. Sam QuerreyIMG00003-20090730-1428
In a battle of Americans, the lesser known one, Ryan Sweeting played great tennis, but lost in three sets. Sweeting regularly serves the ball around 130 mph and has huge, but inconsistent, ground strokes. Sweeting, a former U.S. Open Juniors champion, proved he has skills, and should make it into the top 100 in no time. He’s currently at his career high ranking of #155, and looks to be on the rise. The other American, Sam Querrey looks to continue his hot streak. He’s made the final in his last two tournaments, and has a big quarterfinal match against Sela tomorrow. Querrey is looking to become seeded in a grand slam for the first time in his career. He currently is at a career high #32, right on the brink of being seeded for the Open.

Here’s a special look behind the scenes of the ESPN Gameday booth setup at Straus Stadium for the next four days of the tournament.dodgers 034

L.A. Tennis Open Day 3 Roundup

Carsten Ball vs. Dmitry Tursunov
Ball impressed me again in his second match I’ve witnessed of him in person. His backhand time and time again punished Tursunov, and Dmitry could only welter in the scorching sun. Tursunov tapped out early in the second set retiring even though he would come back and play doubles later that day. This type of behavior is insulting to a fan who paid money to watch him play. How dare he “retire” with an injury and win a doubles match later on in the day. It’s insulting to fans, the integrity of the game, and especially Carsten Ball who pummeled him into submission and deserved better. With the whole rant on Tursunov aside, Ball is really playing well, and may be the favorite in his next match against John Isner. He hits cleaner ground strokes and volleys than the American, so that may indeed equal a first career semifinal appearance for the Aussie.

John Isner vs. Marcos Baghdatis
Isner beat Baghdatis in painful fashion. He took a major fall in the second set tiebreaker, and stayed down for the count Baghdatis rushed to his aide, putting a towel under his leg and showing real concern for the 6″9 American. After a good seven minute delay, Isner would come back and take the final three points of the tiebreaker against a rather complacent Baghdatis. Baghdatis clearly checked out of the match mentally when he saw his opponent withering in pain. Baghdatis showed his first display of anger I’ve ever seen of him after the match throwing his racket and kicking the mph tracker in the stadium. I have to say, although I was obviously rooting for the American, I felt genuinely bad for the Cypriot since Isner played dead for literally seven minutes and should have told Baghdatis he had no plans on retiring from the match. This would have allowed Baghdatis to stay focused as opposed to worrying for his opponent’s well being.

Marat Safin vs. Ernests Gulbis
The last match of the day saw it’s fair share of choking. Ernests Gulbis jumped out to an easy one-set lead on Safin. Things were looking great. He was clicking on all cylinders. He got up a break in the second set… and then… it happened. Gulbis showed the reason as to why he still is ranked #62. He has all the tools except for maybe the most important, the mental. Every time he gets up, he loses his killer instinct and allows the struggling opponent back into the match. The veteran Safin pounced on the opportunity and took the final four games of the second set. It’s tied now, so once again, Gulbis plays well and goes up a break in the third. Unfortunately for Gulbis, the third set was a repeat of the second, showing Gulbis give the set back to Safin again. The one thing Safin did better towards the end of the second set and in the third set was hitting more balls in and allowing Gulbis to press. Gulbis, I’m calling you out right now! You have too much talent to be 62!

Wacky Wednesday

July 29, 2009
The Pirates continue their trend in trading their best players. This time they send Jack Wilson and Ian Snell to the Mariners, while also disposing of Freddy Sanchez to the Giants.
July 29, 2003
Bill Mueller becomes the first player to hit grand slams from both sides of the plate in one game.

July 28, 2007
MLB sets a new record for most people attending a baseball game in a single day with the help of two doubleheaders. 717,478 enter gates among all the ballparks.
July 28, 2001
Melvin Mora’s wife gives birth to quintuplets!

July 27, 2008
A’s rookie Brad Ziegler sets a record for most consecutive innings without giving up a run at the start of a career. He makes it to 27.

July 25, 1996
Bruce Ruffin of the Rockies strikes out four in one inning. This is the 25th time that’s happened in baseball history.

July 24, 2004
The Madison Mallards, a minor league team, has 5,000 fans brush their teeth at the same time, setting an American record for most people brushing their teeth at the same time. How cleanly of them…

July 23, 2009
Mark Buehrle tosses the 18th perfect game in history thanks to defensive replacement DeWayne Wise’s unbelievable leaping catch at the wall in the bottom of the ninth.
July 23, 2002
Nomar Garciaparra homers three times in two innings. He hits two out in the second, followed by another in the third.

Tuesday Tennis

During the last weekend some interesting things happened. Robby Ginepri came out of nowhere and capitalized on that mediocre field in Indy defeating Sam Querrey in the final, while Nikolay Davydenko won the open. Pretty ironic the guy who was blamed for throwing matches and had his own gambling controversies won the BET-AT-HOME.COM OPEN!!! Continue reading

Sober Rankings

1. Los Angeles Dodgers (62-36) Nothing could ever be more exciting than watching Manny Ramirez go deep with the bases loaded, tie game, on his own bobble head night, and I would know since I was there! The crowd stood and chanted “Manny” the entire sixth inning, it was amazing, and Vin Scully even said on the Prime Ticket broadcast it was the loudest cheer he heard at Dodger Stadium since 1988.

2. New York Yankees (60-38) The Yankees are 9-1 their last 10 and have leaped over the Red Sox in first of the east. They go head-to-head with the Rays in Tampa this week, which should be a great indication of where each team stands. This series will give a great indication of who wants it more.

3. Boston Red Sox (57-40) The Sox have already made two minor trades, and rumor has it that they’re looking to make one more bigger trade. Could they pull the trigger on Halladay? What about Gonzalez? How about Victor Martinez? The problem seems to be each team will ask for way too much in return for the Red Sox to make a deal.

4. Los Angeles Angels (58-39) The Angels continue their hot play even without Torii Hunter and Vladimir Guerrero. They seem content, at the moment, with their players, but may make a push for Halladay. Fighting off the Rangers is starting to become a lot harder than the Angels may have thought once they originally took first place away from them.

5. Philadelphia Phillies (56-40) The Blue Jays are really trying to bend the Phillies arm with these Halladay offers. The Phillies won’t take the bait. They did just win the World Series last year after all. The Phillies head west this week, where they’ve been a solid 10-7 this season. Continue reading

Wacky Wednesday

July 22, 2000
A Ranger-Mariner game at Safeco has a 54 minute rain delay when the retractable roof fails to shut.

July 21, 2006
The Yankees complete the five-game sweep of the Red Sox, dubbed by many in New England as “Boston Massacre II”.
July 21, 2004
Manny Ramirez inexplicably cuts off a throw from Johnny Damon allowing David Newhan to get an inside the park homer.

July 20, 2005
Albert Pujols goes 5-5 with three home runs against the rival Cubs.

July 19, 2009
Matt Kemp scores all four runs in the Dodgers 4-3 victory over the Astros.
July 19, 1998
Carlos Delgado becomes the first player to hit a home run into the fifth deck at the Skydome.

July 18, 2006
The Atlanta Braves score more than 10 runs for the fifth consecutive game.
July 18, 2001
The Padres and D’backs are forced to suspend their game when a transformer at Qualcomm Stadium catches on fire causing a section of spotlights to explode.

July 16, 2009
Ryan Howard hits his 200th career home run faster than anybody in the history of baseball in his 658th career game.
July 16, 2006
Cliff Floyd and Carlos Beltran each hit grand slams in the same inning as the Mets score a franchise record 11 runs in one inning.

Tuesday Tennis

Indy_Tennis_LillyIt seems a bit unusual that the U.S. Open Series is starting in Indianapolis this week considering the field has absolutely been decimated. This tournament used to field 48 men, and it used to be a place where some of the best came to start out the summer hard court season the right way. Instead, Indy tennis fans are left with a smaller 32-man field and the 68th player in the world has received a seed, while the 24th player received the #1 seed. Continue reading

Sober Rankings

1. Los Angeles Dodgers (58-34) The Dodgers rebounded nicely winning the last two games against the Astros after losing their first two games of the series. The long-awaited return of Jason Schmidt is finally over. Schmidt makes his first start since June 16, 2007 today.

2. Boston Red Sox (55-36) The Sox barely nip out the Yanks this week, only leading the Bronx Bombers by one game now. You’ve got to wonder what the plan is for Clay Buchholz, who has looked like a legitimate starting pitcher every time he’s been called up to the majors.

3. New York Yankees (54-37) The three game sweep of the AL Central leading Tigers only proves how great the AL East really is. In all seriousness, this division should get three teams in the playoffs. The Yankees are only one game behind the Red Sox with an 0-8 record head to head, by the law of averages that has to change at some point!

4. Tampa Bay Rays (51-41) The Rays keep closing in on the AL East lead, but this week will first travel to a hot White Sox team and Toronto before a three game showdown in Tampa with the Yankees.

5. Los Angeles Angels (52-38) The Angels continue their hot streak. The nine inning shutout of the A’s for John Lackey was a much needed performance for the struggling ace. The Angels will do battle with the central for the next two weeks. Continue reading

Wacky Wednesday

July 15, 2008
Dan Uggla becomes the first player in history to make three errors in the all-star game. He didn’t do too much better from the plate either, going 0-4 with three strikeouts. The 08 all-star game becomes the longest in history lasting four hours and 50 minutes. The AL wins it 4-3 in the 15th.

July 14, 2009
The “senior” circuit loses to the “junior” circuit again. They haven’t won the all-star game since 1996.
July 14, 2008
Josh Hamilton sets a record for most home runs in the first round of the derby. He hits 28 out in the first round, going deep 13 times consecutively at one point. Even with all those home runs, he eventually loses in the championship to Justin Morneau.

July 12, 2009
Cubs hurler Sean Marshall enters in the 9th inning, faces one batter that he walks, then gets moved to left field so Lou Pinella can bring in a lefty, Aaron Heilman to get one left-handed batter out. Marshall comes back in after Heilman records one out, and gets the next two batters out.

July 11, 2002
Royals outfielder Carlos Beltran makes the AL all-star team, but gets traded to the Astros days before the game. He’s asked to patrol the NL outfield after Ken Griffey Jr. pulls out.

July 9, 2009
Pirates pitcher Joel Hanrahan gets a victory for the Nationals in a game that was postponed from May 5. Hanrahan had since been traded, but was still the pitcher of record from May.

Tuesday Tennis

There was only one tournament last week in Newport, at the tennis hall of fame. Unfortunately for the tournament, the players were anything but HOF caliber. Fabrice Santoro was the highest seed after Mardy Fish left for the Davis Cup. The championship saw the 181st ranked lucky loser defeat the next American hope Sam Querrey in three sets. Pretty uneventful in terms of ATP tournaments, but the real focus was on the Davis Cup where the Israelis pulled off another humongous upset. Continue reading