A year ago, Alex Rodriguez was serving a season-long suspension for having used performance-enhancing drugs. The closest he could get to a ballpark was watching his Yankees teammates on TV. But that was probably for the best. The last time he was on the field, in 2013, he was booed nearly everywhere he went, from Boston to the Bronx to the Bay Area.
Last night, though, things were different. The attitude, the scandal, the suspension — none of it mattered. Because A-Rod made history.
Back in October, seven teams of sailors boarded their special racing boats at Alicante in Spain and set off on an epic, 267-day race around the world. The Volvo Ocean Race course takes the teams across four oceans to 11 ports on five continents. When they finish the race, on or around June 27 in Gothenburg, Sweden, they will have traveled 38,739 nautical miles.
This week, though, the boats and their crews began reaching Newport, Rhode Island, the end point of the sixth leg of the race. It’s the only US stop in the competition, and the teams will remain in port until May 17. That’s when the Leg 7 begins. Destination: Lisbon, Portugal.
Some people have really cool jobs: astronauts, actors, racecar drivers. I’ll add play-by-play announcers to that list, too.
John Ireland has had that job for nearly nine years. Ireland is the play-by-play announcer for the Los Angeles Lakers and a sports radio show co-host for the Mason and Ireland show on ESPN Radio. A former campus radio sports director at UCLA, Ireland was a radio sideline reporter for Clippers and Lakers before nabbing a coveted play-by-play gig. He called Clippers games for five years before joining the Lakers in 2011.
As Ireland told me during our interview at the Staples Center in April, “Most people pay to come and watch the games, but I get paid to be at the games.” Pretty neat, right?
In our April issue, we have a feature on stats that makes the case for better ways to evaluate baseball players. The alphabet soup of advanced metrics include OPS+ (Adjusted On-Base Percentage Plus Slugging Percentage), FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching), and UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) — and they’re likely to give you a headache. But don’t worry! Some kids in the Heschel SABR Club in New York have your primer on some key sabermetrics you need to know to be a better fan.
1. WAR (Win Above Replacement) is by far the coolest name on this list. But it’s also a key advanced metric. It counts how many wins a player adds to his team’s total compared to an average replacement. While not a perfect stat by any means, WAR is becoming more and more popular. This year, both Mike Trout and Clayton Kershaw, the AL and NL MVPs, led their league in WAR.
When 13-year-old Lacie Greenwald takes the podium after winning a ski race, she does more than just accept a medal. She advertises with the logos on her apparel, both for the sponsor she's already gained and for Animals' Last Hope, her very own nonprofit.
Three hours. That’s all that separates two fierce rivals.
The Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers have been playing each other for 40 years in four different leagues in what has become the best and most intense rivalry in Major League Soccer. And on April 26, the two clubs met for the latest round on a chilly but clear night in Seattle.
Members of the Timbers Army (an independent fan group) had traveled 175 miles up Interstate 5 to see their team knock off their bitter rivals on the road, while the Emerald City Supporters (the Army’s counterpart) were chanting and singing, defending their turf. In a chippy and physical game in which a total of four yellow cards were handed out, the Sounders battled to a 1-0 win.
With the kind of playoffs performance Golden State Warriors star Steph Curry is having, it’s easy to forget how good he was in the regular season. He averaged 23.8 points, 7.7 assist, and 4.3 rebounds in 2014-15, and he led the Warriors to a franchise-best 67 wins. He also hit 286 threes, which set a new NBA record. (The previous record holder? Steph Curry, when he made 272 in 2012-13.)
That’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Curry’s accomplishments this season. And for all of it, today he was named the NBA’s 2014-15 Most Valuable Player.