Mitch's Sports Report: LeBron, Tavares, A World Cup Upset, And A Bad Night For Price

Jul 2, 2018

The world's best basketball player is changing uniforms yet again, this time trying on the bright yellow and purple worn by such luminaries of the sport as Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabar, and Kobe Bryant. 

LeBron James has inked a  four-year, $154 million deal to be the next great superstar for the Los Angeles Lakers, a move that shifts the tectonic plates beneath the hoops world, the balance of power firmly now firmly on the west coast, and if the Lakers can land disgruntled Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard next, even the Golden State Warriors might take notice.

And what about in hockey? Yes, over the weekend, one of the best players in the NHL decided to head home. John Tavares is a native of Toronto and he'll be joining the Maple Leafs next year, after toiling for the NY Islanders for the past six years. He was an all-star in five of those six years, one of the truly elite centers in the game. But now the Leafs have him wrapped up for seven years at an average $11 Million per, which is a hefty price tag, but if hockey mad Toronto gets a Stanley Cup out of it, the Leafs will consider it a bargain. Tavares even tweeted a picture of himself as a little kid sleeping under Maple Leafs covers with his head resting on a Maple Leafs pillow and as he joins a young, stacked roster of talent as a mere 27-year old himself, so the call here is not whether the Leafs will win a Cup with him, but how many they'll get during his tenure.

To the World Cup, and another upset rocked the tournament yesterday as Russia eliminated Spain on penalty kicks after running to a 1-1 tie during regulation play.

The Russians were considered one of the weakest teams in the field of 32, and most thought they would never get out of group play. Now the Russians are in the quarterfinals and good luck finding any vodka left in Moscow bars after that win went down yesterday.

Spain was unlucky in this one, it has to be said. They were nursing a 1-0 lead when a corner by Russia resulted in a deflected ball that hit that back of a Spanish defender's forearm. He had his back to the play and never saw the ball coming. It certainly wasn't intentional, but it happened inside the penalty area, the yellow card was issued for a handball, and the Russian's converted on the PK to tie it.

After that, Spain really has no one to blame but themselves. They controlled the ball for the lion's share of the match, but were tentative in their attack, far too complacent with their offense, and they didn't play with the sense of urgency needed to score the go-ahead and avoid extra time, followed by penalty kicks to decide the match, which the Russians won 4-3, because when a match comes down to PK's, it's really almost like flipping a coin.

In the next match, it was the same story, with Denmark and Croatia also deciding their game by penalty kicks after a 1-1 draw. And Denmark's keeper Kasper Schmeichel really deserved better. He was absolutely brilliant, turning away a penalty kick late in extra time that would have given Croatia the victory, and he made two more saves in the PK round to decide it, but Croatia's keeper turned away three Danish attempts, one of them hitting the post, and Croatia is through to take on Russia next.

And while I know this won't fly for purists, I wish there was a way to avoid ending these amazing contests with penalty kicks. How about taking one player from each team off the pitch during the extra time periods? It would open the field more and increase the chances of a goal being scored properly to win a match, rather than the random lottery of a penalty kick.

Two knock out games are on the docket today. Mexico tries for an upset of Brazil, and Belgium will be heavily favored against Japan.

By now any NY Yankees fans who listen to the sports report will accuse me of burying the news about who won the much anticipated three games series between the Yankees and Boston Red Sox, and they'd be right.

The rubber game of the series was a blow-out, as the Yankees beat the stuffing out of David Price, blasting five home runs in an 11-1 rout, three of those homes courtesy of one player, Aaron Hicks, in a game that was essentially over after the first inning.

Price has been mostly very good for the Red Sox this year, but he said after the game he needs to change his approach against the Yankees and that would be an understatement. Price's line last night: three and a third innings, giving up nine hits and eight runs, all earned, with five home runs served up as the Yankees move percentage points ahead of the Red Sox for first place in the A.L. east.

The NY Mets can celebrate the month of June being over, winning for just the second time in their past twelve games, beating the Marlins 5-2 in Miami. The 2018 Mets set a franchise record for most losses in the month of June, topping even the comical expansion version that entered the league as a doormat in 1962, so the win last night was more than welcomed as the calendar turns to July.

Steven Matz got the win, going five and a third innings, and the Mets were powered in part by a home run from Asdrubal Cabrera.

The Detroit Tigers had been on a tough 11-game losing skid but thanks in part to a Nick Castellanos grand slam, they ended that with a 9-1 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.

In the NY Penn League, the Vermont Lake Monsters played comeback ball last night against the Tri City Valley Cats. The Monsters trailed 8-6 in the 10th inning when they scraped together a couple of runs to tie, then won the game in the bottom of the 11th on a walk-off single by Payton Squier at Centennial Field.

In the NECBL the Vermont Mountaineers also played extras, a 14-inning marathon against the Keene Swamp Bats that went Keen's way when they scored two runs in the top of the 14th and hung on for a 9-7 win.