Sport – New Site
 

Category: Sport

Redemption is sweet for Takuma Sato

| Comments Off on Redemption is sweet for Takuma Sato

For the past week, Takuma Sato has been a human punching bag after his involvement in a first lap crash last Sunday at Pocono Raceway. He was widely criticized by the other drivers involved in the crash, including Alexander Rossi and Ryan Hunter-Reay.

Sato and his Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team supported their driver and even released on-board video footage shot form Sato’s car that they believe showed the driver did not make an erratic move.

Still, Sato arrived at World Wide Technology Raceway as a driver in serious need of redemption. He found it in Saturday night’s Bommarito Automotive Group 500.

Sato led 97 laps of the 248-lap contest at the 1.25-mile short oval and claimed the fifth NTT IndyCar Series victory of his career.

Redemption is sweet for Sato.

“This win for the whole team effort, we can put it all behind,” Sato said. “Tonight’s champagne tasted so beautiful, but I have to thank everyone so much for their support.”

At one stage, Sato was a lap down, but the race played out perfectly for the driver from Tokyo to not only get his lap back, but race to the front.

“It’s been an incredible weekend,” Sato said. “Every race weekend is intense with a lot of pressure, but this one was a tough one after Pocono. I got support from a lot of people, actually. They changed their mind after seeing the evidence.

“My team’s support was incredible. I want to thank every single person on the team and all the fans that supported me, and the media, they showed what was a fact. It wasn’t easy, but we focused and built a fast car. We kept our head down and it was a very, very exciting show tonight.”

It was Sato’s first short oval victory of his career and the 42-year-old driver from Japan has now won on every type of track in the NTT IndyCar Series. His first win was on the streets in the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach in 2013 driving for AJ Foyt Racing. His second win came at the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the 101stIndianapolis 500 in 2017 when he was racing for Andretti Autosport.

He won last year’s Portland Grand Prix on a permanent road course for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. This year, it’s the first time Sato has won two races in the same season. In April, he won the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park, another natural road course, and then claimed the short oval win at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway Saturday night.

Sato has collected the entire set.

“It’s a nice collection with a lot of great trophies and memories,” Sato said. “Before tonight, the best finish on a short oval for a driver from Japan was Hidecki Mutoh at Iowa when he finished second (to Dan Wheldon in 2008). We have now completed all types of course, but we have to keep winning of course.

“To get two races in the same season is a fantastic feeling. That was on my target list.”

Earlier in the race, the main players in last week’s crash at Pocono were racing side-by-side at Gateway with Sato and Hunter-Reay just inches apart and with Rossi close by.

This time, there was no incident, but it was certainly ironic.

“When Ryan and I went side-by-side we tried to give each other room,” Sato recalled. “Today was very close again. We raced fair, in a hard battle, and I had no problem with that.

“But I had a huge moment at the start when James Hinchcliffe and I touched at the start and I lost a lot of positions on that.”

But Sato was able to battle back.

When Sato went down one lap, he went to the back of the grid at the end of a caution and pitted one more time so that he could stretch his fuel and get the lap back. He was successful in that.

He was able to use the same strategy later in the race when he stretched his fuel again and went from 13 to first. He was also able to save fuel during the final caution that lasted from Laps 192 to 204.

“That, too, was a very important moment,” Sato said.

When the checked flag waved, there was Sato driving under the checkered flag and achieving redemption.

“Literally the definition of professional sports: hero maybe one minute, zero the next, hero again,” Team Penske driver Josef Newgarden said of Sato’s performance. “That’s just how it goes.

“Everyone thought Takuma was the worst thing on the planet of Earth leaving Pocono. Now it was like it wasn’t his fault. Now he’s probably a hero again. Next week he could be a loser one more time. No one knows.

“You live day by day in this sport. It’s every day you’re judged. A great day for him obviously. All these teams put in a lot of work. I’m sure it’s very gratifying for those guys. Really everyone in front of us did a great job. Santino had a great race. All these guys did a pretty nice job. I’m sure for Sato and his crew, they’re going to be pretty happy about it.

“I wish it was us. It’s hard not to feel happy for everybody because there’s a lot of work that goes into this paddock from all the teams.”

Pity, 10-man Atlanta United hold on for U.S. Open Cup crown

| Comments Off on Pity, 10-man Atlanta United hold on for U.S. Open Cup crown

It’s taken Gonzalo “Pity” Martinez some time to get used to these United States, but he’s in the sweet spot now.

He’s also a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup champion.

Martinez scored six minutes after a Minnesota United own goal as Atlanta United built an early lead and held on through a Leandro Gonzalez Pirez red card at Mercedes Benz Stadium on Tuesday.

It’s Atlanta’s first USOC title, the first won by a team from Georgia, and joins the club’s 2018 MLS Cup in the trophy case

To borrow an adjective from PST’s Joe Prince-Wright, the second half was pulsating.

Atlanta’s first goal came when Leandro Gonzalez Pirez’s cross was partially blocked but took a turn into the goal in the 10th minute.

After failing to record a goal or assist in his first eight MLS contests, Pity Martinez posted three goals and seven assists in his next 18 plus two goals in the Open Cup.

Minnesota pulled one back just after the break to reinvigorate the match.

It was Robin Lod who produced the goal, the Finnish national team hitting a shot that deflected past Brad Guzan.

Pirez made it more tense when he took his second yellow card in the 74th minute.

Ike Opara missed a first half chance, but thought he made up for it in stoppage time. His would-be equalizing assist was popped over the bar by Michael Boxall.

 

Tyson Barrie is a big x-factor for Maple Leafs

| Comments Off on Tyson Barrie is a big x-factor for Maple Leafs

The Tyson Barrie trade wasn’t just jaw-dropping and an inventive way to steal Free Agency Day headlines; it was also a catalyst for some fascinating debates about how valuable Barrie really is.

Some of the more intriguing Toronto Maple Leafs X-factors boil down to Barrie: how good is he really, and will Mike Babcock manufacture ways to get the most out of him?

If you’re the type to keep things really simple, you’ll note just how prolific a scorer Barrie has been from the blueline, and think that he’s grossly underrated. Barrie managed 59 points in 78 games last season, and had almost as many (57) despite being limited to 68 regular-season contests in 2017-18. Toronto Maple Leafs fans could be forgiven for drooling while imagining how the speedy defenseman’s numbers might translate to an already talented team.

Yet, for those who delve into deeper numbers, Barrie may actually be overrated, and open up a discussion about whether or not he’s much of a net positive for his team. By just about every shot-counting defensive metric, Barrie can at times be a disaster in his own end.

Really, assessing Barrie may come down to questions of taste and priorities. Barrie might be a right-handed shooting version of Roman Josi: a “roving” defenseman who controls the puck a lot, generates results on offense, but who’s overall positive impact can be questioned when you ponder puck possession stats, along with the conundrum: would his team be better off with a forward having the puck on his stick more than Barrie/Josi?

Like Josi, Barrie has shown positive traits when it comes to the transition game. Barrie’s particularly deft at exiting the defensive zone with puck control.

t’s useful to include a comparison to Jake Gardiner for a number of reasons, as Barrie essentially replaces Gardiner in 2019-20.

Barrie might even be a replacement as a go-to scapegoat, honestly. They’re both very useful defensemen who have their flaws, and those flaws get magnified in a harsh market like Toronto. It wouldn’t be one bit shocking if cameras fixated on Barrie during low moments in the same way they seemed glued to Gardiner after Game 7 gaffes.

Yet it’s their one fundamental difference that makes things especially intriguing, and Barrie an X-factor: Gardiner’s a left-handed defenseman, while Barrie shoots with his right.

Toronto was wise to add Jake Muzzin to a defensive group that saw a huge drop-off after Gardiner and Morgan Rielly, but ultimately, Muzzin was also a tad bit redundant, as all three shoot (and crucially, pass) left-handed.

Even if Barrie might end up being a downgrade from Gardiner, this boost in versatility could be big. It also presents Mike Babcock with a chance to prove that he’s worth the megabucks he’s been receiving from the Maple Leafs.

Theoretically, Babcock could use his experience and system to try to get the best out of Barrie. It’s probably a little much to imagine too much of a “teaching” situation for a defenseman who’s 28, but Babcock could optimize the situation with ideal zone starts, a defensive partner who is adept at denying entries to Toronto’s zone, and finding the right balance between Barrie’s aggressiveness and making safer plays.

Frankly, it’s also just as important that Babcock show patience with Barrie, who’s the type of double-edged sword who could drive a coach mad.

With Barrie entering a contract year, this is most likely to be a short experiment. We’re very much in “win now” territory for Toronto, though, so Babcock needs to get in the lab and use Barrie as a catalyst for a long-awaited breakthrough.

Spurs treading water

| Comments Off on Spurs treading water

Gregg Popovich is arguably the best coach in NBA history. Get him a few capable veterans, and he has guided to the Spurs to the playoffs. Every darn year.

He’s also 70 years old, which limits the value of a rebuild. Why waste seasons Popovich could prop up just to get young players he probably won’t stick around to coach? Might as well continue to enjoy the present.

So, the Spurs agreed to a contract extension with Popovich then commenced on a boring offseason – though one that included more action than desired.

The big prize was supposed to be Marcus Morris, a good forward who would’ve strengthened San Antonio’s rotation. But he reneged on his deal and signed with the Knicks. The Spurs are reportedly – and should be – pissed.

San Antonio traded Davis Bertans, a solid stretch four, to the Wizards to open money for Morris. That trade was already complete by the time Morris pulled out. Many top free agents were off the board.

The Spurs settled for Trey Lyles ($5.5 million next season, $1 million of $5.5 million guaranteed in 2020-21). He impressed a couple years ago, but he significantly regressed last season. There are reasons he was the fallback option.

At least San Antonio got a couple of more-ready forwards by re-signing Rudy Gay (two years, $29 million) and signing DeMarre Carroll (two years, $13.65 million followed by $1.35 million of $7 million guaranteed in 2021-22). Still, the plan was to get Gay, Carroll and Morris.

Mostly, the Spurs remain on the same course. LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan are still the headliners. All eight players who played in each of San Antonio’s playoff games return.

Still, there’s a tinge of a youth movement beneath the surface.

Dejounte Murray missed all of last season with a torn ACL. Derrick White emerged in Murray’s absence. Those rising point guards will be back next season, and it’s possible to envision a next era led by one – or if Popovich is creative enough – both.

For just the second time in the last three decades,* San Antonio picked twice in the first round picks. Unfortunately for the Spurs, they got those selections in a weak-looking draft. No. 19 pick Luka Samanic and No. 29 pick Keldon Johnson are fine, unspectacular prospects.

*In 2011, San Antonio traded for No. 15 pick Kawhi Leonard and drafted Cory Joseph No. 29.

The Spurs’ goal is clearly a record-breaking 23rd straight postseason appearance. That’ll be tough in a loaded Western Conference. But they’re content to try.

Pete Alonso sets Mets single-season home run record

| Comments Off on Pete Alonso sets Mets single-season home run record

Mets first baseman Pete Alonso has set the new single-season franchise home run record, belting his 42nd home run of the season on Tuesday against the Cubs. Alonso sent a Yu Darvish fastball 407 feet out to right-center field at Citi Field, breaking a scoreless tie with the solo homer in the fourth inning.

Todd Hundley (1996) and Carlos Beltrán (2006) previously held the record with 41 home runs. Mike Piazza (40 in 1999) was the only other Met to hit 40-plus in a season.

Following Alonso’s dinger, he’s batting .266/.368/.598 with 101 RBI and 79 runs scored in 554 plate appearances. He has a very strong case for the National League Rookie of the Year Award, but Braves pitcher Mike Soroka might have something to say about that.

At 34, Raptors’ Marc Gasol will carry Spain’s World Cup hope

| Comments Off on At 34, Raptors’ Marc Gasol will carry Spain’s World Cup hope

Marc Gasol is 34 years old, which means he’s particularly fond of offseasons.

He didn’t get much of one this year.

There’s a very good reason for that – a most unusual and, he thinks, worthwhile opportunity. After helping the Toronto Raptors win the NBA championship in June, Gasol is now looking to lead Spain to a World Cup title in September. And although the 7-foot-1 veteran center’s body may have preferred some more downtime before the grind of another season begins, Gasol could not pass up this chance.

“It’s a special group of guys,” Gasol said. “It’s always special when you put on this jersey. And I couldn’t leave them hanging. That’s what my heart told me and that’s what it keeps telling me.”

Gasol was on the team that won the World Cup – then called the world championship – for Spain in 2006, rolling past a Greece team that had just beaten the United States in the tournament semifinals. He helped Spain win silver medals at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, losing both times in the title game to the U.S.

He’s the oldest player on a very seasoned team that will play for Spain in this World Cup. Out of the 12 on the final roster for coach Sergio Scariolo, eight have celebrated their 30th birthdays already. But it’s also clear that Gasol, even on a roster featuring the likes of Phoenix’s Ricky Rubio and Real Madrid standout Sergio Llull, is the leader of the bunch.

“It was probably a key move for us, one of the important ones, the most important one,” Scariolo said. “We need somebody to be the guy who you can give the ball in the tough moments, not necessarily for the shot but to make a good play – whether it’s to create a shot for a teammate, to take a shot himself, to draw a foul and be a solid free throw shooter. He’s extremely important and the rest of the players respect him a lot.”

That respect was there before Toronto topped Golden State in six games for the NBA title.

But the ring Gasol will be getting on opening night certainly adds to his legacy.

Among players born outside the United States, Gasol is one of only seven – a list that also includes his older brother Pau Gasol, who would have played in this World Cup had he not gotten injured last season – to have amassed more than 11,000 points, 6,000 rebounds and 2,700 assists at the NBA level. And when the Raptors added him in a trade last February, their entire makeup seemed to change.

“I think we started passing the ball, our assists started going way up, we became the No. 1 3-point shooting team in the league because of the extra passes and the contagious passing,” said Raptors coach Nick Nurse, who is coaching Canada at the World Cup. “And our team’s sense of who they thought they could become went up.”

The same could ring true for Spain.

The U.S. has won the last two World Cups, though a third consecutive gold in the event – something that no nation has ever accomplished – hardly seems guaranteed. Spain lost to the Americans by nine in an exhibition earlier this month in Anaheim, California, a game where neither side was exactly in tournament form.

Spain should have little, if any, trouble getting through its group phase: It faces Iran, Tunisia and the Dominican Republic in its first three games at Guangzhou, China starting on Friday. The top two teams will advance to the second round. Those first three games will likely become mere tune-ups for Gasol and the Spainards, as they get ready for the bigger matchups later in the tournament.

“The teams that are in the past, they’re in the past,” Gasol said. “What matters is the guys who are playing today and their talent and their qualities.”

There has been minimal rest for Gasol this summer.

The Raptors won the title, had a parade a few days later, and within a few days after that Gasol was simultaneously starting recovery and workouts for the FIBA challenge. Spain spent about a week in the U.S. for the game against the Americans, using that as a bonding trip of sorts. Then it was back to Spain for more games, before heading out to China.

All worth it, Gasol said.

“I cherish every second of it, every practice, every trip, every lunch that we have together,” Gasol said. “I know how special it is. Obviously it’s not ideal, but I think it was completely worth it to play all the way to June. … Whenever it is, 10 years from now, when I’m sitting on the beach in Spain, I won’t be able to reproduce this feeling.”

Athletics scored in 10 consecutive innings

| Comments Off on Athletics scored in 10 consecutive innings

The Athletics scored in each of the second through ninth innings of Monday night’s 19-4 shellacking of the Royals. They opened Tuesday’s game with a run in each of the first two innings, becoming the first team since the 2013 Red Sox, per Elias Sports Bureau.

On June 2, 2013, the Red Sox scored a run in each of the fourth, fifth, and sixth innings of a rain-shortened win over the Yankees. The next day, they scored in the first through seventh innings against the Rangers. The A’s scored in nine consecutive innings on July 21-22, 1987, which was the club record until the last two days.

n the first inning on Tuesday, Chad Pinder drew a bases loaded walk, forcing in a run to open the scoring and continue the streak. Marcus Semien, fresh off of a seven-RBI game, hit an RBI single in the second inning. Mercifully, the A’s did not score in the third inning.

The A’s entered Tuesday’s action 75-55, nine games behind the first-place Astros. They are tied with the Rays for the second Wild Card in the American League, and are only a half-game behind the Indians for the first spot.

New Site ©2019. All Rights Reserved.
Powered by WordPress. Theme by Phoenix Web Solutions